Title: Reoccuring Consequences
Pairing: House/Cuddy+ Wilson - strong friendship(?)
A/N: But darker, this one... not sure why. Was feeling a tad angsty, I guess. Please comment: am still sort of new to this!
She hovered in the doorway, for once unsure of herself, unsure of how she would react if she faced her fears.
The hallway behind her was dark, but warm... while the room before her was bright, intrusive and eerie. There was absolutely no reason why she should think this, and she berated herself quietly for it. She had never been susceptible to such foolish thoughts, such wasteful emotions and worries. Lisa Cuddy had certainly never had this particular problem before: her tough Russian grandmother, on her father's side, had taught her to face whatever she was frightened of. It was a lesson she had always endeavoured to live her life by. It prevented pointless outward displays of weakness: weakness someone else might take advantage of. Of course, this principle didn't mean she wasn't ever scared, wouldn't often rather be somewhere else... it just meant she got on with it without causing a fuss. It was what had gotten her to the position she was in today, what had made her the person she was.
But now... now she was terrified. And for the first time, Cuddy didn't know if she had the strength to do anything about this.
The beeping of the heart moniter mocked her without mercy.
He hadn't been able to handle the pain.
She gazed into the room, avoiding it's centre. She longed to go in, but her high-heeled feet stayed rooted exactly where they were, skittery on the polished tiles. Her shaking hand would not release the glass door it held. Acrid fumes of disinfectant and who knew what else assaulted her nostrils, curling her lips and making her want to turn away to avoid the ugly fumes.
But her eyes refused to leave the scene before them, she could not look away.
The figure nearest to her sat, facing away, in an uncomfortable hospital chair, back bowed with worry. The white shirt he was wearing was creased almost beyond recognition, his hair greasy and touseled. A cane lay still in his lap, the maple surface cruelly reflecting the flourescent gleams of the lights above. James Wilson stared out of the window, one hand rubbing the back of his aching neck wearily, the other hand... no. Cuddy couldn't look there just yet. She was not yet ready to face, to face... that.
He had never gotten what he wanted. Now, he never could.
She decided to keep her focus on Wilson. "Hey," she called out softly, relieved when her voice didn't crack. Perhaps he wouldn't notice that she couldn't move?
Slowly he turned in answer, and she mourned the fact he seemed to have aged ten years since she last saw him the evening before. Brown eyes, usually so warm and twinkling with some hidden humour, were now dull and haunted. Deep purple shadows moved beneath the lifeless orbs, and hollowed his cheeks. His mouth was set into a grim line, ready to take on whatever was thrown at him, and yet Cuddy thought she saw the lower lip tremble slightly as she looked at him.
Their eyes latched, safety lines for each other... a way of saving the other from drowning in despair. She was thankful he was here - it made it slightly easier for her to face her fear. She hoped she helped him in some small way: she loved James dearly, and would do anything in her power to keep him from upset... she couldn't bear to see him so obviously torn apart as he appeared right then.
It had been too much for him.
"Hey," he said. Cuddy took no satisfaction in noting his hushed voice was shaking.
Something began to well up within her at that moment, she could not be sure what it was. She looked immediately down to her feet, embarrassed at being caught out like this, unsure and unable to stop herself. In a second, Wilson had left his chair and was before her, having crossed the room without her even noticing the movement. He wrapped his strong arms around her, and she fell gratefully towards his chest and stayed there, listening to his heart beating sluggishly within him. She took comfort, rightly or wrongly, in the feeling that even if everything else in her life fell utterly apart, even if she wound up completely broken, he would still be there to do this.
To tell her that somehow they were all going to be alright.
Even... even him.
"He's going to be okay, Lisa," she felt his voice reverberate within her as he spoke softly into her hair.
Cuddy drew her hands up to his back and pressed her face into his shoulder, trying to wipe away the tears beginning to glisten in her eyes. She also refused to look over his shoulder, and thought hiding her head under Wilson's chin might be the best option for her. Her solid statue of strength would stop her from seeing it. She sniffed, and before she could check the bitter words, said, "This time."
She felt him stiffen, back arching as he began to bristle with restrained anger. She drew back and looked up at him, expecting to find harsh words on his tongue and accusation in his eye. But all she saw was despair. James Wilson's brave face of defiance, designed to mute the reaction of the rest of the world at the recent event, had crumbled with her words. She had spoken the truth, this wasn't the first time, and she had no doubt it would be the last. Nevertheless, the words had hit him hard, all the harder because he knew it was true. And now... she was watching him cry.
He had only been able to focus on what he'd lost.
He brought a hand up to his face and looked away. "M'sorry... it's just..." he mumbled, voice thick in the back of his throat.
"I know," she said, voice soft.
She remembered the first time, though Wilson claimed one before that, during university together. It had been Cuddy alone who had dealt with it: Wilson had been away in Boston for reasons she couldn't remember. She had called round at their apartment needing to borrow a research book. The lights were off, and the windows flung open, yet the ever-present tv was on... he had been there, sitting in his chair facing the setting sun, completely out of it. Half-lidded eyes and thready heart rate insulted her. An empty bottle of whisky had been next to his inert hand, as had a bottle of the sleeping pills he had to take. She had panicked, but done the right thing (or so Wilson told her, sometimes she wasn't so sure...). She had screamed at him solidly for three hours when he had woken.
Later, on the matter of his having to be rescued, he had said he hadn't been able to face the thought of another night awake and alone. These words had stayed with Lisa ever since, playing themselves over and over in her mind until she thought she might scream.
Wilson stepped away, and returned to his post by the bedside. Cuddy was left, further into the room than she would have liked. She was lost, she couldn't do it... and yet she was drawn to look up, and see what had taken place. She forced herself to face the truth, she opened her eyes and really looked.
House was there.
Tubes ran up and down around the bed, running through him and out of him at regular intervals. He was gownless and emaciated under all the wires - he had not been eating, and the jutting ribs spoke the truth even if he refused to. Lisa wondered how long that had been going on as she avoided looking at his protruding collar bone, or the way his skin seemed to hang off him.
His face, once so handsome and strong, was pale and wan, dark patches and lines. Full of pain and anger were the angles of his features now, rather than intelligence or amusement. His eyes were shut against the injustice and the humiliation, the scorn and the pity, and for a while at least he could be at peace. His quick, dangerous mind had been forced into retreat, for once not analysing the world, him or itself... a blessed relief to the man who had been cursed with such self-awareness.
He hadn't been able to make his mind stop.
Blood was dripped into him slowly, laced with drugs to numb his pain and his suffering, trying to restore that which he had chosen to let leak away. She had been told that there would have been no way he could have coordinated a noose at this stage in his remission, the leg made it impossible for him to get hold of a gun, and he had been nearing the end of his bottle of pills...
Cuddy's eyes drifted down to his hands, lying still across his chest. The bandages which wrapped his thin wrists were glaring white, and they burned their image into her retinas. The pain he must have been in... could he still feel the excess? Did he even feel it when he had torn into himself?
She thought she heard a faint sob from the chair beside the bed, or it could have been herself. Wilson cried brokenly into his hands, shoulders hitching. Wilson was his sweetest friend, and he had only just saved him this time. This time. Next time, they might not be so lucky.
He hadn't been able to face another night awake and alone.
Falling back into another chair, she stared sightlessly at her Greg. And she wept.
The end... possibility of follow-up or something? Please review!