Warnings: some foul language and mentions of suicide.
Notes: Spoilers for "No Reason." Written for Musesfool's Multifandom mp3 Challenge. My prompt was Shine a Light by The Rolling Stones. Concrit welcome.
Jesus, how does he get himself into these things? thought Wilson as he stood in the doorway of House's hospital room watching his friend sleep. He couldn't quite make himself go close enough to see the state of House's bandages or the wrinkles he knew would have taken up permanent residence on his friend's forehead. Wilson's fingers tightened on the door frame as he thought of how close they'd come to losing House again.
This, he said to himself wearily, is going to be a hell of a setback. He remembered what it had been like after the infarction - House bitter and angry and more than willing to share those emotions with everyone around him. It had taken House a long time to recover, both physically and emotionally, and Wilson wasn't sure if his friend was strong enough to do it a second time.
He knew House had thought of suicide, all those years ago. He remembered finding a straight razor in House's medicine cabinet where before his friend had always used an electric shaver. When he commented on the change, House had only given him the "don't pretend you're stupider than you are" look. Then his expression had narrowed, become searching. Wilson had forced himself not to look away, forced himself to meet that intense gaze. After a long moment, House had looked away and tossed the razorblades in the trash.
It was the kind of gesture Wilson had known he could trust. That was the way House worked, in enigmatic moments, each sentence or movement coded for those with the key. Wilson knew that even now he could only read about half of them. But that was more than anyone else.
Wilson let out a long breath, suddenly realizing he'd been standing stupidly in the doorway for far too long. He made himself step forward into the room, wanting to really see House, to touch him and reassure himself of his friend's slow breaths and subtle heartbeat, and yet afraid of that near-permanently-affixed scowl, the tangible evidence of his friend's misery. Afraid to face how desperately he had failed in his job as House's friend.
Wilson, you pussy, he told himself wearily, and sat down, all in a rush, in the visitor's chair. After a long moment, he looked up, then started.
House was smiling. In his sleep, to be sure, but it was the sort of sweet smile that House never allowed himself in real life. It softened his whole face into something just this shy of dopey.
What the hell? thought Wilson. He must be really doped up. I've never seen him like this, not even when he and Stacy were together, not even before the infarction. But House had used morphine before, and not reacted like this, he knew. He peered down at his friend, weariness forgotten. I wonder what's going on in his head.
Wilson's mind conjured up some amusing images at that thought. House's drug dreams, he imagined, would be like a miniature TV show with House as the star. The soundtrack would be nothing but blues and rock, so that every time House entered a room another of his favorite tunes would be playing. Perhaps he'd dream about his past with Stacy. Perhaps in House's dreams he was shot (surely the subconscious would bring that up) unintentionally saving the life of a small child or a puppy, and now was waking up in his hospital room to the doe-eyed adoration of Cameron and the nursing staff. On second thought, that was probably closer to House's personal hell. Wilson smirked.
Whatever House was dreaming, Wilson wished he could bring it to life. House was infuriating and mercurial and occasionally cruel, but he was also brilliant and whimsical and entertaining. Even when unconscious his presence was soothing. Wilson drank in the sight of House's smile, the relaxed planes of his face, the shadow of his eyelashes against pale cheeks. I am a fool for loving him.
He'd thought, once, that his interest might have been returned. There had been something in House's eyes that seemed to say "yes" and "please," things House rarely said aloud. But troubles seemed to swarm around House like flies, and Wilson could never keep up with the pace of brushing them away. Standing outside the operating room the previous morning he'd regretted his silence, but now he wasn't sure even of that. Would a declaration help House to get through the recovery ahead? Or would he take it for pity and ruin their chances at even the smallest amount of happiness? Would House revert to testing them all, the way he had after the infarction?
Wilson scrubbed his face with his hands. He hated this uncertainty, admired the way House always seemed so sure of himself. He sighed.
"Oh, good," said a gravelly voice. "It's you."
Wilson started again, dropping his hands.
House's blue eyes were amused. "Obviously."
"How do you feel?" Wilson's reflexes kicked into gear and he pulled out his pen light to check House's pupils.
"Did Cuddy give me the ketamine?"
"I… yeah." Wilson tensed. It was a treatment he and Cuddy had discussed, considering bringing it up to House as a possibility. But neither of them had wanted to push him in the days after Foreman's recovery, and they figured they'd only get one chance to convince him. House's seemingly random mention of the drug as he was wheeled into surgery had thrown both of them into confusion. Had House overheard them? Had he been reading up on the research himself? The few seconds of lucidity didn't seem nearly long enough to call House's statement an informed consent, and in any normal patient Cuddy would have held off. But House was anything but a normal patient.
House let out a puff of breath. "Good." Wilson felt himself relax. Amazingly, they'd managed to do the right thing in both House's minds and their own.
"How do you feel?" he repeated, giving House the "humor me" look. House smirked but let Wilson run him through the standard mental performance checklist, his answers ridiculous but characteristic enough to soothe Wilson's anxiety. "Pain?" asked Wilson.
"Ribs are about a five, neck is about a seven. Leg feels stiff but not too bad."
"You want me to up the morphine?"
House considered the machine for a long moment. "Not yet. I'll let you know."
Wilson sat back, satisfied. "Okay. Good." Suddenly all the air seemed to go out of the room and he sucked in a surprised breath. "God. You're okay." He tipped his head back and breathed deeply for a moment. When he looked down again, House was giving him the "I'm figuring you out" expression and Wilson swallowed, waiting for the scathing commentary about his obsessive caring. But House surprised him yet again.
"I'm fine," was all he said.
Something in Wilson's mind urged him to take advantage of House's mildness. "I don't… I don't want to lose you," he said carefully.
House gave him a long look, eerily reminiscent of the testing gaze Wilson had been remembering moments before. Once again, he forced himself to meet it, baring himself to House's inquiring eyes.
"Move back in with me," said House. Wilson's mouth fell open.
"You actually want me to?"
House's face was shuttered into the controlled blankness that Wilson knew meant he was at his most vulnerable. "Well," he said, shrugging, "I kind of miss your pancakes. Best way to get them is to keep you around."
"I don't know…" Wilson was conflicted. Part of him had enjoyed living with House – it was certainly never dull and he always felt more alive when they were together. But it had been hard to be so close and yet not be able to do the things he dreamed about.
"Please," said House. His voice was quiet but clear. Wilson felt tears spring to his eyes and he looked away, mortified at how sentimental he had become.
"Okay," he said, voice rough. "I'll move back in once you're out of here." He blinked a few times and rearranged his face into his normal, bantering façade, turning back to meet House's eyes. "But only if you promise me you won't get shot again. Recovery is so tedious."
House smirked. "I'll see what I can do. Of course, my rock and roll lifestyle does seem to lend itself to that sort of thing."
Wilson snorted. "You're rock and roll like the Bee Gees were rock and roll."
"Oh, snap!" House rolled his eyes and Wilson found himself laughing, the weight falling from his shoulders for the first time in days. Maybe, he thought, this wouldn't be so difficult after all. He leaned back, propping his feet up on House's hospital bed.
"Hey," said House. "Don't get too comfy. I'm starving and I'll let you in on a little secret… hospital food sucks."
"I can go get you something from the cafeteria."
There was a gleam in House's eye as he considered. "Actually, why don't you page one of my minions? I've suddenly got a craving for fish tacos."