Summary: House enjoys the company of a patient- obviously signaling the apocalypse, Wilson is getting a divorce, Chase is falling head over heals, Foreman's thinking of leaving the team and Cameron's sister has cancer. At least it's not raining. Yet.
Disclaimer: Once upon a time there was a fanfic writer who loved House more than was strictly healthy, and in order to stifle this love, she wrote her stories. One day she forgot to put a disclaimer on one of these tales. She was then sued for all she was worth and had to live the rest of her days in a box. I don't want this to happen to me. –grin- Anything you recognize belongs to Fox and David Shore, and not to me. -sad sigh- The poem "It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This" belongs to Nicole Burdette. (See Author's Note. Er, the second one, that is.)
Author's Note: My one-shot, "Her Name Was", is actually a prequel of sorts to this, much longer, story. Please note that it was written before the past two episodes, so there will be some changes (expressed in this chapter) to the back-story I set up. This story is cannon-compatible up to "Distractions". Please see the end of the chapter for the complete AN.
As for now, enjoy!
Chapter One: A Stranger's Coat Pocket, Part One
I want to be a lost poem in a stranger's coat pocket that conveys the importance of you
To assure you of my desires
To assure you of my dreams.
I want all the possibilities of you in writing.
He groaned as he sat up, resisting the urge the make sure that his shoulder was, in fact, still in his socket, and rubbing his eyes with his hands in a futile attempt to wake himself up. He knew it would be useless without coffee, or perhaps a direct injection of caffeine. Either would do nicely.
Unfortunately, upon waking Wilson realized that coffee would be a hard commodity to come by, seeing as how one Gregory House treated his beans with the reference most saved only for family heirlooms. House always hid his stash of ground coffee, knowing that his friend would happily steal his supply if left out in the open.
This meant two things. First, that Wilson would have to survive the morning without his coffee. Second, that he was at House's apartment after spending the night on his God-awful couch, hence the doubtful state of his joint. The question was why.
Nothing immediate came to mind.
He looked down at Greg's coffee table to see scattered cigar butts, various empty bottles of hard liquor and no less than a dozen beer bottles. The heavy stuff was House's; the beers were his (to quote, "Drinking beer is like Christian Rock. Technically, it's still rock, but really, it lacks the tattoos and cursing that make good music great... Or bad music great, for that matter.").
Wilson rarely drank, and when he did it was only in times of ultimate desperation, when ignoring the problems just wasn't going to cut it. Alcohol seemed to be his most consoling of vices, the bottoms of the bottles offering him more comfort than most people could manage. And even then, desperate for something to make him forget, he kept his drinking in check, limiting himself to beers instead of tequila, only one more drink when he still felt like he needed five.
He eyed the empty bottles suspiciously. Maybe he had gone a bit overboard last night though. He certainly felt fuzzier than usual, not even able to remember what had brought him to this state of desperation.
He continued the survey of his surroundings until he caught a glint of gold amongst the scattered remains of the night before.
He picked up his wedding ring from the table and held it in between his hands, twisting it with his fingers and catching the light with the band for several moments before he shook himself. He remembered now.
Julie. The dinner. The talk. The look. Him leaving. House at the door. Beers and baseball, the cure-alls to life's misfortunes.
He put the ring in his pant pocket and rubbed his neck, lowering his head as he let out a sigh. It had been one of those nights then.
He still felt like an odd combination of hero and coward. He knew leaving was the right thing to do, that neither he nor Julie wanted one another in the way they should. But nonetheless it felt wrong, running away. Abandoning Julie, causing her pain. It was the guilt, more than anything else, that drew him to House's door. He could have gone to his office, spent the night in that refuge instead of this one. But his office offered no distractions from his shame. So instead, he opted for the sarcastic companionship of his best friend, and enough alcohol to knock out a small horse.
It didn't make him feel better, but it allowed him to forget, for a while. Just long enough so he didn't go back, apologizing, begging on hands and knees, anything to take back the hurt he caused.
They always say that things will look better in the morning, but Wilson himself had to question that sentiment. The guilt from yesterday hadn't disappeared over night, and now he had the added bonus of a pounding headache.
He resisted the urge to glare at the empty beer bottles and instead settled for muttering, "Et tu, Brute?" under his breath.
Standing up slowly, Wilson stretched and looked down at his clothes, rubbing down the fabric in hopes that it would flatten. He had an extra suite in his office, but he did have to travel through the hospital first before he got there. Best to look somewhat professional. Or at least not like a bum.
Continuing, in vain, to attempt to make the cloth obey him, he noticed a small note on the coffee table. Nervous, Wilson stopped with the rubbing and picked up the letter, turning on his internal House-translator.
BW (Boy Wonder),
I have gone to my own personal corner of hell. (I went to the hospital.) I invite you to join me there at some point before eight, under threat of the wrath of Satan. (Be there by eight or else I will rat you out and tell Cuddy.) If you are late, know that I plan to create an explanation involving a rubber duck, handcuffs, and spandex. (No translation needed, unfortunately.) You already know that my imagination has no bounds. (Don't think I won't do it.)
Looking forward to humiliating you and ruining your professional career forever,
-LT (Limping Twerp)
"What he does, not what he says," Wilson chanted as he frantically ran around House's living room, (an action that, had he been able to see it, would have reminded him of a chicken that recently had its head chopped off) finding his tie where he had tossed it over a chair.
He forced himself to be as calm as possible, remembering House letting him in at eleven last night, along with countless other evenings in the past. "What he does, not what he says," he had his tie on and was now finding his wallet, his keys, the clock he brought for the nights he spent away from home, memories of the way Greg purposefully avoided asking questions Wilson didn't want to answer running through his head, how House kept the beer and witty commentary on a constant flow, how he hadn't woken Wilson when he left the apartment this morning.
"What he does-" He looked down at the alarm clock he had placed on the coffee table, set to wake him at 6:30, to see that it was 7:48, and that it had been turned off. And not by Wilson.
He sighed heavily as he grabbed his jacket and ran out the apartment, snatching the extra key from the kitchen counter and locking the door on his way out... But only after convincing himself that he was above leaving it unlocked just so House's stereo system could be stolen.
Julie hated Thursdays more than any other day of the week.
They were conference days, big-deal days. Everything important that ever happened during the week happened on Thursdays, because no one liked Wednesdays and she had yet to find a human being who could work properly on a Friday. This meant that every seven days, without fail, she would have a weighty matter to greet her upon entering her office.
This time, it was the new China deal they were setting up. One of the new and upcoming manufacturing companies in the country wanted to use one of Jonathan Pratt's computer chips in their latest model of motorcycle, allowing for innovative advancements of GPS systems. Julie, of course, knew this would be a fantastic move for the company, China being the fastest developing country in the world, quickly industrializing towards more mechanically driven forms of transportation, and was nearly pounding her fist in irritation at her boss's reluctance.
Jonathan was one of the rare innovators who wanted to be involved in every aspect of his work. The development, marketing and distribution of it. For eight years he had been in charge of his small empire, overseeing virtually every aspect of the chip's (and its newer models) management. And yet, he had never sold overseas, and was hesitant to do so now.
Julie sighed as she entered the elevator, headed for the top floor of her building, mentally preparing herself for the long-distance phone meeting between Mr. Pratt and the presidents of the company in China. Despite her preparations and the powerful and respected presence she brought with her whenever she worked, the brief-case in hand, power suite she had on, the material for the upcoming meeting memorized, she doubted the conference would go well. It seemed to be a trend of her life lately.
She shook herself, bringing her emotions under control. James had left her a week and a half ago. She had moved all of her things from their apartment last Thursday. She had sent him the divorce papers last night.
These were facts she could deal with.
That she had never loved him, and that he had never loved her, she couldn't.
She looked down at the band on her left-ring finger, letting the small diamond twinkle in the florescent lighting of the elevator as it continued its upward journey.
Julie couldn't take it off. If she did, she would have to face the truth. That she was alone again, that she had never loved her husband and that she was happier without him.
Because these were truths that were too painful to think on. The thought that she had spent five years of her life with a man for whom she felt nothing save for detached affection, a love by proximity that was no real love at all. And that the result of all this pretending was a sparkling ring and the respect of her family and coworkers. Nothing more, nothing less.
The elevator came to a stop and Julie had a moment of vertigo, reaching out blindly to a wall as the world started spinning in front of her. She heard a ding up ahead and pushed off from the wall, determined to make it to the conference room as her balance and sight slowly began to return to normal.
"Good morning Mrs. Wilson!" The frightfully cheerful voice of Audrey, her secretary.
"Morning Audrey," she said as brightly as she could as she blinked repeatedly and covered her nose with her hand. "What is that smell?"
"New paint job, Ma'am. Workers came and did it last night."
She looked at the walls for the first time. Green. She scowled. She hated green.
"Couldn't it have waited until the weekend?"
"I suppose not, Mrs. Wilson. Nobody works on the weekends, and nobody likes working on Fridays, and since the meeting was today and no one knows how long it will last..."
"Thursday was out."
"Exactly." Audrey had a smile so big that Julie thought she could see her molars.
"I see. Is Mr. Pratt in yet?"
"No, not yet. But he called and said to meet him in the room and that he would be in shortly, translator in tow."
"Thank you Audrey." And with that she quickly stepped into the conference room, closing the door behind her with an audible click, only feeling vaguely guilty about shutting it in Audrey's face. Being around someone so violently happy was exhausting, especially when one wasn't feeling as fantastic themselves.
Making her way around the table to one of the three chairs set up, she did her best to clear her head, which was difficult seeing as how the overpowering paint odor from this room seemed to be magnified by the lack of windows. It was distracting, but she would be damned if she would let it affect her work. The paint or her husband. Ex-husband.
Her work was her life. If she failed at this, she failed at everything important to her that was left.
Sitting down, Julie opened up her briefcase, taking out statistics, predictions and figures, determined to make the deal work.
Minutes later Mr. Pratt walked into the room, translator on his heals. He was dressed in a nice suite, expensive but not flashy, with an unremarkable tie and nice black shoes. In his hand he carried a large tray of ornately wrapped candies. "From the presidents," he said as he set the treats in front of Julie, panting slightly with a smile on his face. "I think they're trying to buy us off."
"Is it working?" Julie asked as she picked up one of the treats and started unwrapping it. She was famished.
Jonathon coughed, "Oh yeah. Win over the sweet tooth and you've got me," he gestured behind him as he coughed into his palm. "This is Lee, our translator." He began hacking again, turning his back on his two employees as he continued to cough.
Julie shook hands with Lee, "Are you ready for this? It's going to be tough, talking for all four of us."
Lee smiled. "I should be fine. I've been translating for-"
He broke off mid sentence when they heard a crash behind them. Julie turned around quickly to see Pratt on kneeling on the ground, hand resting on a knocked over chair, body hunched over and racked with coughing. Running over to him, she arrived just as he fell over onto the ground, breathing heavily, hand clenched to his chest.
"Mr. Pratt," Julie said frantically, getting onto the ground herself, "Mr. Pratt, what's wrong?" She turned him over on his back, looking at his face and seeing an ugly red mark overtaking his entire left cheek, spreading quickly downwards, breaking out into hives as she watched, his eyes wide, taking in gasping gulps of air.
"Lee, get Audrey. Call an ambulance. Now!"
"You turned off my alarm again."
"Did I? Wow. Guess my sleep-walking's getting worse. Although I'm mildly impressed with my ability to irritate you even while unconscious."
"House, I've been sleeping on your couch for over a week. Every morning you have turned off my alarm just to make me late to work. It was funny the first day, I admit. The note was amusing, witty even. I know that you mentally scarred Cuddy and your team with the story you told. But isn't it all a little old by now?"
"Nope. Still amusing me."
Wilson sighed as he and House exited the elevator, on their way to the clinic. House was in his typical shirt-jacket combo, cane in tow, and Wilson was snug in his suite, tie and lab coat. The younger doctor had found his friend and hauled him out of his office, knowing that his telling House to be a doctor would be more effective than Cuddy's efforts.
"Do we need to go over the concept of friendship again? Believe it or not it is not the intense desire to annoy someone beyond all reason."
"But that's what it said in Webster's!"
"Um-hm. And under 'house' it says 'obnoxious diagnostician who has the ego the size of a walrus'."
"Good ol' Webster... Never wrong."
"Why is it so easy for you to frustrate me and impossible for me to frustrate you?"
"You mean intentionally?"
Wilson gave him an exasperated stare.
"I have talent... You're just a wannabe."
They were feet away from the clinic when House cocked his head up slightly, like a dog catching a sent in the wind. A faint, tap-taptap-taptap-tap, could be heard in the distance and House's eyes widened, "It comes!" he said near frantically as he turned around mid stride and limped right back to the elevator they had just left.
"If you don't give her any tips I'll let you wake up on time tomorrow," House murmured out of the corner of his mouth as he pressed the 'up' button repeatedly.
Wilson blinked, confused until he saw Cuddy striding down the hallway, slightly low-cut top blouse and jacket on, a frown on her face.
House quickly hobbled into the elevator as soon as it opened.
"Is he trying to outrun me again?" She asked with a sigh as House gave a little wave as the elevator door dinged closed.
"It appears so. Why were you looking for him? I was actually getting him to go to the clinic, a modern day miracle as far as I'm concerned."
"I get him to go to the clinic all the time. It's not that difficult."
"Only because you can threaten his livelihood."
Cuddy shot him an annoyed look.
"Okay, I know it's not like turning water into wine or anything, but for a lowly oncologist, still pretty impressive considering the subject."
"True," Cuddy said with a small smile as she started down the elevator.
No snappy comeback? Wilson looked at his boss intently, "Lisa is everything alright?"
She gave him her real smile then, "Don't worry James, I'm fine. Just not looking forward to convincing House that he should take this case. It is disgustingly average, but he's the biggest name here so he has to take it. Where do you think he's going to be holed up this time so I can properly torture him with it?"
Wilson wasn't entirely sure he believed her, but he let the thought pass. Lisa was no easy lock to break, and he wasn't up to the challenge of trying to do so today. In the state he was in, he would likely do more harm than good, too tired and too emotionally strained to handle a person with the complexities that Cuddy kept hidden.
Instead he contemplated his options. Pay back or sparing his reputation from House's twisted imagination. "I'm going with the pediatrics department lounge. He really does like that jello. Reminds him of his childhood and all. Plus TiVo."
"Ten says he'll be in the little boy's room."
"You're on." Pay back was so much more satisfying.
He heard the ominous tapping again.
That tap meant his doom, he knew it. When he was at the fiery gates he wouldn't hear the voice of the devil, but instead the persistent tapping of Lisa Cuddy's shoes, signaling him towards and eternity of clinic duty.
Now that would be hell.
An infinite span of being burned in the fires of the underworld he could take, but give him more than two hours of clinic duty and he would be sobbing like a baby.
Or at least it felt like he would sometimes. Maybe he should try it. Might inspire some pity, although one would've hoped that the cane and limp would have covered it. No one respected cripples any more.
He heard a dignified cough behind him and sighed, setting down his jello, standing and turning to face his nemesis.
"Wilson's going to be in late tomorrow," he said as he limped into his 'battle stance', cane in hand, legs slightly apart, and ready to bolt should he feel the need. Granted, a slow bolt. "Very late."
"And will be ten dollars richer. Besides, making him sleep more is hardly something I'll discourage. He doesn't look well."
"Concerned for our Jimmy's welfare?"
"Should I be?"
"Look at his left ring-finger and ask me again."
Cuddy gasped. "No,"
"Yep. Hasn't told me anything, of course. Wouldn't be the Wonder Boy way..." But House knew, even without being told. Perhaps in spite of it, because he was certain that Wilson would rather swallow nails than have his oldest friend aware of his personal pain. And, really, the diagnostician couldn't blame him. House was not the person people should turn to during times of strife, both for their sake and his own.
But Wilson was different than everyone else. Not that House was any more eager to listen to Jimmy pour out his heart and soul than the rest of the population, but that did not mean that the gruff doctor didn't want to, didn't need to, help. Because Wilson had saved him twice already, and House needed some way to repay his debt.
The first time, Wilson did his best to halt the downward spiral altogether. His friend did not completely succeed. There were afternoons when upon Wilson's departure to the hospital, House would down more of the pills than needed, when he would drink through the scotch bottles. They made him forget, distracted him from what his life had become, from being alone. Despite these small failures, Wilson had saved his life. Those afternoons had been far fewer than they could have been, with his friend a constant, irritating, pressing, demanding presence that kept him occupied, prevented him from dwelling. From seeking distractions.
As for the second time, House had already fallen into the depths of the pit and Wilson pulled him back out.
Oh, everyone had tried to stop it. He couldn't fail to acknowledge that. Chase was the first of his observant little minions to see what was happening, able to recognize the addiction growing before anyone else could have. After all, Chase had seen a variation of it before and was only waiting for House to display the symptoms of a true dependency. He had quickly told the other ducklings, who then went to Wilson. Then they plotted.
Cameron found more patients for the team than ever before, causing them to often take on two cases at once. She scheduled House to watch lectures by other diagnosticians, made him go to a few, if with nothing else than with the promise that he could ruthlessly humiliate them during their presentations.
Chase argued. Every point, every diagnosis. Coming from Chase, the duckling who supported House more thoroughly than any other, the questions were given more validity, carried more weight. He made House justify his every action, made him work that much harder; focus that much more on his work.
Foreman stole his Vicodin. Slipped it from his pocket during the day and disposed of it, gave it to Wilson or hid it. House had no proof, but he knew. Knew it in the way Foreman wouldn't look at him when House put his hand in his pocket and no reassuring rattle met his fingers. Knew it in the way that Foreman never offered him any more pills, even when the tremors made it impossible for him to write on the squeaky board and the perspiration from the cold-sweats got into his eyes.
Cuddy forced him to the clinic more often. She would find him in the most remote corners of the hospital and hand him files, herding him back to his other doctoral obligations.
And Wilson did everything else. Every spare moment the oncologist had was spent shadowing House. Watching his every move, judging his every action. Unlike his other colleagues, Wilson confronted the matter of House's addiction head on. Took part in the verbal battles that left both men weary when they were through, demanded explanations for the way House was allowing himself to deteriorate.
None of it worked. Wilson had patients of his own and couldn't follow House constantly, and Greg took full advantage of the times he was left without supervision. Even though none of the doctors he worked with wrote his prescriptions, House harassed obscure doctors around the hospital until they allowed him to get his pills, walking in on surgeries and tests until someone gave in to his demands. He took to keeping extra Vicodin bottles around, creating hiding places and putting them under lock and key. He stopped answering Chase's questions. Stopped arguing with Wilson. Stopped working in the clinic. And for two days stopped showing up to work at all.
On the second night Wilson came to his apartment.
House had been sleeping, content to take his pills and pass out rather than take the pills and think about her.
He awoke to a crash and sat up in his bed instantly, reaching for his cane and pill bottle.
Wilson strode into the bedroom and gave House a look of utter disgust before snatching the pills from his hand. House, too startled to prevent the action, simply let it happen.
"You can either tell me where your other bottles are or I'll find them for myself." There was a cold efficiency in his tone, an effect magnified by the white lab coat he still had on. A sort of emotional detachment ruled his voice, tempered with knowledge of what was necessary that caused House to look at his friend in a new light. Wilson had been furious in their arguments, desperate. Now he carried a conviction surpassing any anger he had presented in the past.
House had said nothing, and Wilson hadn't bothered making him. House saw his friend taking survey of his appearance, no doubt noting the stubble that had turned to a beard, the dirty rumpled clothes, the stench of alcohol that seemed to radiate from him.
"I don't care how desperate you are to make yourself miserable," Wilson had said as he began searching the room, starting with his dressier and completely deshelfing it, throwing out clothes carelessly as he searched, "I won't let you do this to yourself."
House began to stand up. "You are not my nanny-"
Wilson turned. "Sit down." Perhaps it was the cold look being sent his way, but House obeyed. "You love two things in this world House," Greg thought he could feel Wilson's stare boring into his head. "And you've already pushed one away. The only thing you have left is your job, and not only is it the sole thing that can keep you content, dare I say happy, but it also allows you to save dozens of lives, good lives, every year.
"For their sake as much as yours I'm stopping you from destroying yourself for momentary distractions." Wilson went back to his riffling, talking as he worked. "You and I are taking a break. One month, two months, three. Doesn't matter. Neither of us has used any of our vacation time for years. Your team and Julie think that we've gone to a series of conventions overseas. The team will likely discover the truth shortly, but you can deal with that later. Cuddy knows what's really happening and will help if I ask for it. And I may need to, depending on the amount of food you have in the fridge."
Wilson went to the next shelf, pocketing a Vicodin bottle as he heard it rattle. "You are going to detox House. Again. For a month or more you are going to function without the drug in your system. After I feel that the amount of time has been suitable, I will give you back the pills, and you can do with them what you'd like. Until then, I am not your friend."
And he hadn't been.
First Wilson found all of the stash bottles House had kept around the apartment and had flushed them down the toilette. Then he hired a man to replace the door and lock he had destroyed to get in, certain to make himself a spare-key. He closed all of the blinds and curtains in the space, knowing that soon House would not be able to tolerate harsh light without pain. He took stock of the fridge and called Cuddy for supplies.
All of this he did with House screaming at him, trying to force him out, to make him leave. It didn't work. When House tried to leave himself, Wilson had grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and forced him back into the room, pissing off House enough to punch his friend in the face as he stumbled to regain his footing. Wilson had simply wiped the blood from his lip and stood his ground. Eventually Wilson took his cane from him.
House didn't like that. It made him vulnerable, made him feel like a cripple. There's a difference between being a cripple and feeling like one. To feel crippled is infinitely worse than being it.
And it meant that he couldn't walk. All the Vicodin in the world couldn't bring that ability back to him. So House kept screaming from his living room chair, and Wilson continued to ignore him.
That was how Doctor Gregory House spent the first day of his second period of detox.
The next was when the true trouble began.
House remembered every detail. The intense pain in his leg, the nausea, the trembling that prevented him from sleeping, the sweat that drenched every inch of him. Wilson had moved him from his chair into his bedroom, sitting by the bed the entire night, not saying a word. Every time House would ask for water he would get it. He replaced the bowl at the side of the bed without asking. Every few hours he would get a damp rag and place it on House's forehead, providing some sort of relief even as House tried to push it away.
He begged that day. Begged for the Vicodin. Begged for Wilson to kill him. Begged his friend to make the pain stop; please please just make it stop. Wilson had said nothing.
The days continued like that. A blur of begging and pain, and throwing up and sweating. They were punctuated by painful trips to the bathroom, his resting his weight entirely on James as he staggered across the room to pee. The only other variations were Wilson's infrequent absences from his bedside. During these times House would hear the coffee machine running, the humm of the microwave or hear a flush from the bathroom. Wilson never brought any food more powerful than soup for House into the room during those days, likely knowing that even the mildest of scents would cause House to vomit. Sometimes House even heard another, female, voice out his doorway when Wilson would leave the room. He could hear them arguing, hear Jimmy saying, "No Lisa. Thank you for the food, especially the coffee, but you can't see him. He's going to hate me as it is for making him do this and for seeing him like this, no reason for you to suffer through it too. Please leave. I'll call."
Every absence was short, and when he returned Wilson was just as silent as ever. Unwavering and unsympathetic to House's pleas.
In one of his moments of lucidity, House noticed that his cane had been placed on the right side of his bed, resting against the wall and easily within his reach. House had the impression that Wilson liked removing the one support Greg had as much as the diagnostician liked having it taken away. House never tried to leave again, and Wilson never touched the cane after that first day.
House slowly got better. After the initial detox was over, when the nausea had disappeared and the tremors had all but stopped, Wilson administered a pain killer for House's leg. It wasn't Vicodin, didn't have the sweet euphoric instant dismissal of pain that House was used to, but it did make him able to function for a short amount of time. To get up from bed and shower, to walk to the couch with the aid of his cane and watch some soaps, allowed him to reach his piano and play, although it was difficult for the first month to keep his hands steady. He could never manage many of these trips, and Wilson only gave him two pills throughout the day. One in the morning, when the pain was at its worst, and one before dinner, so that Greg could sleep through the night. It wasn't easy or pleasant, but House managed.
Time went by and House continued to improve. Wilson didn't talk. Didn't joke. He made House's meals and his own and watched. House ate the food and tried his best to treat Wilson as if he were still his friend. He bitched and complained, even said that he would forgive James for acting like his nurse-maid if he would just have a conversation, give him a smile, anything. Any sign that Jimmy was still there. Eventually, House renamed his keeper 'Demon Willy', a title which he used constantly when trying to keep up one-sided conversations with his guardian. This reassured him slightly. Because Demon Willy, who was with him twenty-four seven, was not the friend he had known for so long. Even at his worst Wilson could never ignore the painful pleas of someone he cared about, which was unfortunate, because Wilson cared about everyone.
Two and a half months after Wilson had locked himself in with his colleague, he gave House a bottle of Vicodin pills and spoke to him for the first time since his initial explanation. "Here are the pills," Wilson slapped the bottle into his friend's hand and looked at him in the eye. "Don't screw this up." And with that Demon Willy was gone, and Wilson's expression softened as he continued to stare at his friend.
House looked back. For all that House had improved (and even he knew he had. The evidence stared him in the mirror each morning he woke up. The color to his skin had returned, he had regained the weight he had lost, the perpetual circles under his eyes had disappeared. What's more, he could think again. Really think, could concentrate and delve into his memory. For the first time in years House felt as if he was using all of his brain, instead of only half of it, implementing his best attribute in every way, using it to his best advantage. It felt fantastic, was enough to make him willing to ignore the pain), Wilson had deteriorated. House wasn't certain he had seen the man sleep in his time there, and the exhaustion was plain in every worn-out feature Wilson had. Not only that, but he looked skeletal, dwarfed in the button-down shirt he had come to the apartment in, his belt synched a little tighter around his waist. He seemed unsteady on his feet, as if a strong wind could topple him over.
And for one of the few times in his life, House was humbled.
House rattled the bottle, got out a single pill and dry swallowed.
Wilson sighed sadly. "And with that, I'm off." Wilson looked around the room briefly, until he found his lab coat and slung it over his shoulder, making his unsteady way towards the door. "I told Cuddy to expect you back by Monday. Today's Thursday, so that gives you some time to properly reinsert the snark into your personality."
"Wilson," House wasn't sure what he wanted to say as Jimmy stopped at the door, hand on the knob and in mid-stride.
House panicked for a moment. He wasn't the sort for emotional thanks, for heart-felt apologies, "Don't be an idiot."
Insults were so much easier.
House strode towards his friend and held out his hand, "When you can barely walk, driving isn't the best of ideas."
"Really?" Wilson pointedly stared at his cane.
House smirked. "Nice." House took the keys from his friend, "Come on. I'll drive you home. I can pick you up on Monday for work."
"Not home. Hotel."
House looked up sharply. The lines of exhaustion on Wilson's face were enough to explain his reluctance to go back to his apartment. Julie had a tiring personality, being one of those disgusting people who constantly pushed themselves to perfection, and expected everyone surrounding them to do the same. Wilson couldn't stand up straight, much less keep up appearances with his wife.
"Fine by me. Let's go."
The ride was comfortable and relaxing, both men content to pretend that the experience never happened. They returned to their usual sarcastic commentary, as if nothing had changed.
In front of Wilson's chosen hotel, James reached into his pocket and pulled out the spare key he had made. "Your key," he said as held out his hand and began to get out of the car.
"Keep it. And," House dug in his pocket until he heard the reassuring rattle. With a pop he opened up the lid and shook out 13 pills, two for each day Wilson wouldn't be at work, except for that day, as he had already taken one. "Keep these too," and handed Wilson the bottle of pills he had just gotten back after nearly three months without.
Wilson stared at the hand that held the bottle and key with his mouth open slightly.
"Oh grow up. It's not a wedding ring or anything. You've already got a collection of those. And don't come back to work until Thursday, if you do I'll make Cuddy kick you into submission."
House drove away to see Wilson staring at the car in his rear view mirror, the same astonished look on his face.
Wilson still had the key, although he never used it even when he needed to. He also still kept House's supply of Vicodin, giving his friend a pill when ever he asked, and never forgetting to slip him two before he went home every day. One before he slept, one for when he woke up.
Cuddy smiled as she saw House's gaze get fuzzy, as he remembered something. "You're not just turning off his alarm for your own amusement, are you?"
Her most annoying doctor glared, "An oncologist that falls asleep while reassuring the cancer kids is as useless as your collection of bras seems to be."
She glowered at her employee. But even the insult couldn't distract her from the truth, and on the inside she was grinning.
"Well I'm just saying Doctor Cuddy. You know I like the ladies just as much as anyone, but really. Taking them out for a walk so often is just cruel. They're getting exhausted."
The inside grinning abruptly stopped. Leave it to House to destroy the first purely friendly feelings she had towards him in years. She promptly gave up on trying to have an adult conversation with the man. "I've got a case for you."
"Case of what? Roses? How kind. It's not even my birthday."
"It's Jonathan Pratt."
"What an unfortunate last name... Personality fit it?"
"Not as well as yours."
"He's the billionaire... Computer chips. Great innovator of our age..."
"I know. I haven't been living under a rock, despite common belief."
"So," Cuddy held out the file expectantly.
House stared at the folder without making any move to grab it. "That's it? That's your pitch. 'He's rich; cure him'? Weak, even for you Cuddy."
Lisa sighed, resisting the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose in frustration. "In case you forgot, about two years ago we were offered one hundred million dollars. You then made us loose that money because the donator couldn't stand you, and Wilson got himself fired protecting you. And unlike yourself, Wilson is a good doctor and losing him would damage the reputation of this hospital. Now, Mr. Pratt has indicated that he will give us a donation as soon as he is checked out and cured. Granted, it won't be a hundred million dollars, but it might be enough to give you your Christmas bonus and pay for some new equipment to help you with all of those tests you seem to like to run. Ignoring all that, did it ever occur to you that you, oh what's the term, work for me? That I'm your boss? Where's all the boot-licking?"
"Don't do boot-licking. Ass-kissing though..."
"Go," she shoved the file into his hand, "Off to your team." Cuddy felt a migraine building behind her eyelids.
"That's it?" House looked surprised and a little disappointed.
"I've had all the interaction with you that I can take for the day."
"I'm almost hurt."
"Go!" Cuddy turned and headed towards the exit of the pediatrics lounge.
Lisa turned around, irritation growing. "Yes House?"
"Was anyone with him?"
Lisa tilted her head, "With him?"
"You know, 'holding his hand' and all that?"
"Yes, an assistant I think."
"A tall blonde woman?"
"No," Cuddy took a step back towards him, "a Chinese man. Why?"
"No reason," House opened the file and looked at it. He blinked repeatedly and then gave Cuddy an insulted look. "You are not giving me this case."
"I am. And you're going to go play doctor and make the hospital some money. Work work work!"
Cuddy turned sharply on her heel and continued her way to the hallway.
She heard House yell, "Satan!" as the door closed behind her.
Lisa smiled to herself as she made her way back to her office.
Author's Note: I've had this idea for a while now, but until recently I had no way to organize it. I then came across the poem bellow in the movie "Chelsea Walls" (very trippy. I love it, but I'm a very odd person), and it seemed a perfect way (with some modification) to guide the story. I'm posting it in its entirety here, as I completely massacre it for my twisted means throughout this.
It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This
I want to be a lost poem in a stranger's coat pocket that conveys the importance of you
To assure you of my desires
To assure you of my dreams.
I want all the possibilities of you in writing.
I want to give you your reflection.
I want your eyes on me.
I want to travel in the lightness with you
And stay there
And I want everything before you to follow us
Like a trail behind me.
I want never to say goodbye to you
Even on the street corner or on the phone.
I want so much I'm breathless
I want to put my power into a poem
To burn a hole in your pocket
So I can sew it.
I want my words to scream through you.
I want the poem not to mean that much.
And I want to contradict myself by accident
And for you to know what I mean.
I want you to be distant
And for me to feel you close.
I want endless days when it's day
And the nighttime never to end when it's night.
I want all the seasons in one day.
I want the sun to set before us
And come up in front of us.
I want water up to our waists
And I want to be drenched by the rain
Up to our ankles with holes in our shoes.
I want to think your thoughts
Because they are mine.
I want only what's urgent to you.
I want to get in the way of the barriers.
And I want you to be a tough guy
When you're supposed to
Like you do already.
And I want you to be tender
Like you do already.
And I want us to have met for a reason
And I want that reason to be important.
And I want it to be bigger than us
I want it to take over us.
I want to forget.
I want to remember us.
And when you say you love me I don't want to think that you really mean New York City
And all the fun we have in it.
And I want your smile always
And your grimaces too.
I want your scar on my lips
And I want your disappointments in my heart.
I want your strength in my soul
And I want your soul in my eyes.
I want to believe everything you say.
And I do.
And I want you to tell me what's best for me
When I don't know.
And when you're lost I want to find you.
And when you're weary
I want to give you steeples,
And cathedral thoughts,
And coliseum dreams.
I want to drag you from the darkness
And kneel with you exhausted
By the blinding light blaring on us.
This first chapter, with the latest episode and a few changes to my original plot plans, is going to be a lot bigger than I initially expected. So, I've split it into two sections. The second section should be posted by Sunday. Unless something evil happens. Let's hope the evilness stays away. -crosses fingers-
That being said, altogether the story should be 11 to 13 chapters long. There will be romance! Danger! Intrigue! (Okay, honestly, not much intrigue...) Very exciting! Meaning that you want to continue reading, no? -puppy dog eyes- Please?
I am hesitant to say anything in the way of ships as of right now, since I've yet to introduce all of the characters, much less get really involved with the pairings... So for now I'll keep silent on it.
Reviews/Reviewers make me happy.
Just thought I'd throw that out there.