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For angelacaduca, prompt: House/Wilson; futures please?

by astolat

A financial contract obligating the buyer to purchase an asset (or the seller to sell an asset), such as a physical commodity or a financial instrument, at a predetermined future date and price.

"Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride," House said, poking through the food cartons.

"Which might possibly be an issue if I were asking you to be on Julie's side instead of mine," James said patiently. He'd known this wasn't going to be an easy sell, but House was putting up more of a fight than he'd expected, given that he'd brought Chinese food along.

"I am not going to help sign you up for even more alimony payments," House said, snagging the rest of the kung pao chicken. He waved the carton at James. "How are you going to be able to afford to support me in the style to which I've become accustomed when you've got an entire harem to take care of?"

"The ceremony's half an hour, and we'll have a chair for you," James said. "Come on. Third time's the charm."

"I bet that's what the Cubs said back in 1911," House said, muttering, and turned on the TV.

James leaned over and grabbed the remote away and turned it off again. "I'm serious! Do you think I'd be doing this again if I wasn't sure? I don't enjoy getting divorced that much, believe it or not."

House rolled his eyes. "But the last two times, you just thought, what the hell, right?" He made a lunge for the remote, but James was faster and yanked it away.

"I made some mistakes! I'm not denying that."

"So clearly, as a good friend, I should help you make another one?"

"This isn't a mistake. Julie's—"

"Interested in an open relationship?" House waggled his eyebrows, leering.

"Oh, shut up," James said, trying not to lose his temper; House just knew how to push his buttons too damn well. "Quit trying to piss me off, you're not getting out of this that easily."

"No, I'm getting out of it by refusing," House said. "Give me a fortune cookie."

James tossed one at him. "Let me guess—'You are cheerful and work well with others.' "

"If I get that one, I'm suing," House said. "Oh look: 'a friend in need is a pest indeed.' "

James took it from him. "Your investments today will follow with success." He tossed it onto the table with his, Wisely enjoy the company of friends. "Look, this is the last time around for me, I want you there. I'll even have a bottle of twenty-year Laphroaig at the bar for you."

"You should have brought one tonight, maybe then I'd be sloshed enough to say yes," House said. "On second thought, never mind, you're right—waste of good scotch."

"I'm serious!"

"So am I," House said. "The first year's going to be easy, piece of cake; year two, you'll start getting distracted; maybe you'll hang on to fidelity for one more just because you're embarrassed about bombing out three times in a row, but that's only good for so long, and then you'll have divorce number three, ex-wife number three, and a few months after that you'll head straight for the altar again. It's this nice little vicious circle you've got going."

"And since when do you have a problem with self-destructive behavior?" James said, swallowing down the ten things he really wanted to say—you don't know Julie, which was true; you don't understand me, this time it's different, which he was afraid might not be.

"I don't," House said, throwing bits of fortune cookie up into the air to catch them in his mouth. "I only have a problem with being stuffed into a rented tux in order to assist. Well, and you are getting a little boringly repetitive."

"Yes, so sorry about that," James said. "I promise, all right? This is the last time I ask you."

"Oh, so who are you going to hit up next time, Jefferson from radiology?" House said. "My feelings will be hurt."

"What? You can't say no this time and expect me to ask you again!" James said, and then stopped, sighing; he'd walked right into that one. "This is the last time I get married, all right?"

"I suppose it's possible," House said. "Three times in divorce court is the kind of thing that starts scaring off potential sexual partners, much less spouses."

"Thank you, that's very comforting," James said, and threw his chopsticks into the takeout bag and got up, grabbing his suit jacket.

"Oh, all right, don't get pissy on me," House said irritably, before he got to the door. "The last time? You really want me to believe that?"

House always made things ten times harder than they had to be; that was even part of what James liked about him in some vaguely masochistic way, how endlessly complicated he was, but now and again, it just made you want to—god. James stopped and turned around to face him. "Will you do it or not?"

"Only if I get it in writing." He leaned backwards and actually grabbed a pen off his desk and a half-filled-out chart to write on.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me." House just wagged the paper in his direction. James shook his head in exasperation and stepped forward for the pen. "Fine, give it to me—"

"Wait, hang on," House said, holding it back. "What's in it for me if you renege?"

He had meant to stay annoyed; he laughed instead. "How about the intense satisfaction of being right?"

"I get that all the time anyway," House said, and started scribbling some more clauses. "I think I'm on to something here. I'm the one who sticks around, I don't see why they get the alimony—"

"You want me to pay you alimony if I get divorced again?"

"I'll settle for a condo," House said, smirking up at him. "I'm tired of you sleeping on my couch between wives. I like those places in the old J. P. Morgan mansion."

"The one they chopped up into million-dollar apartments?"


"I am not betting you a million dollars that I will not get divorced!" James said, and tried not to think about what that said.

"Now, now, what kind of a friend do you think I am? I'm not trying to take your money," House said. "We're not betting that you won't get divorced, we're just guaranteeing that you won't get married again afterwards."

"And my buying you a condo is going to do that how?"

"Nothing says 'committed to the swinging bachelor lifestyle' like sharing a condo with a pal," House said. "That or 'secretly gay,' but let's go with swinging bachelorhood. Besides, the way the real estate market is going, you won't be able to afford to get married again after."

Three years later:

"Is this your idea of cheering me up?" James threw the real estate section down on the floor. "I am not buying you a condo!"

"Actually, you are," House said. "I have a signed contract and everything."

"That's not even remotely enforceable in court," James said.

"Stacy thinks otherwise."

"You asked her?" James said.

He wasn't sure how the conversation ended with him actually going house-hunting. He'd never really done it before: he'd gone straight from university housing to an apartment Christine had rented for them, to the split-level Marlene had picked out and bought and furnished while he worked twenty-hour days, to the townhouse Julie had fallen in love with even though it was forty-five minutes away from the hospital. In between there had been House's couch, and bland temporary apartments with wall-to-wall carpet and fresh white paint, small kitchens and single bedrooms; he'd never looked at more than one or two before signing on the dotted line.

Now House was dragging him someplace new every day after work, badgering poor realtors to meet them at nine, ten o'clock at night with false promises of fat commissions. They wandered through the dark empty rooms turning on lights, the thump of House's cane on the hardwood floors steady behind him, and weirdly, he liked it. There was something oddly comforting about the idea that someone had lived in these spaces before him without leaving any palpable ghosts or bitterness behind; that someone would come after; that someone was walking through his own abandoned house now just like this, touching the mantlepiece swept bare of photographs, the empty shelves, the cool shining clean-scrubbed tile, and smiling.

Mostly they only got to see ones where the owners had already moved out, but a few were still furnished; thick carpets and leather-bound books, white curtains that stirred when they walked by, a few thirsty plants. In one they came through the garage into a big room with a pull-down movie screen and a leather couch, a pool table and a bar in the wall, treadmill and bookcases and a piano in front of the windows.

House sat down and started in on a little Bach. "If they don't notice it's this out of tune, they won't notice if I snap a few strings, either," he told the fidgeting realtor, and the Goldberg Variations followed James around through the hallways, the sprawling master suite, the gleaming steel and stone of the kitchen, the swimming pool and the fireplace and the exercise room, past all the grown-up toys, and back to the piano in front of its wall of glass.

"How much is this place?" he said, forgetting it wasn't real, that he wasn't really looking; through the reflection of his face in the windows he could see the lawn that stretched away into dark dark trees, a few faint lights in the distance from neighboring houses.

The music kept going while the realtor went through a long ramble about low interest rates, small down payment requirements, ease of mortgage applications, and James glared at House over her shoulder as she finally admitted the three million and change pricetag.

"It's not my fault you decided to hang on through the whole housing bubble," House said, closing the piano. "Relax, we'll go halves."

= End =

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