1Author's Note: This is the product of a short but productive discussion with my friend over the events of Finding Judas and the ridiculous prejudice in this country against using painkillers to treat actual pain. It should be Cuddy, that self-righteous bitch, and not Wilson injured, but I felt like torturing Wilson.
This is probably the worst thing I've ever written, morally. As a lover and staunch believer in H/W being the foundation for the show, this story sucked balls to write.
Warning: This is not a nice story. Hurt, but no comfort. Dark and kind of hopeless, bordering on torture.
Wilson woke up in hell. Growing up Jewish, he'd always been sure there was no such thing, or if there was, it was a state of mind rather than a physical place. Now he knew he'd been wrong.
Pain radiated through his body, so diffuse that for a long moment he could not identify its source. His head was splitting and broken glass had been shoved under the skin of his entire right side. A more serious flash of agony told him that his collarbone was broken, maybe shattered.
He opened his eyes and was momentarily blinded by the harsh overhead lights.
The voice was familiar, very familiar, but for a moment Wilson couldn't focus enough through the pain to identify it. He turned his head toward the sound and gasped at the movement. House was sitting in the visitor's chair by his bed, staring down at him. A hospital bed. He was in the hospital.
He opened his mouth and tried to talk, but only a croaking breath came out. "Hurts," he whispered finally.
House didn't move. "I'm sure it does."
Wilson frowned. "What-"
"Accident." House anticipated his question. "The bus you were riding on was hit by a city maintenance truck. Three people died, two more not expected to make it through the night. You were lucky. Broken collarbone, three broken ribs, a cracked femur, and shitload of bruises. But don't worry. I fixed you up."
There was something wrong here. House was still staring down at him with a strangely flat look on his face. His voice held no inflection. Wilson struggled to sit up and fell back with a sharp cry.
"I wouldn't try to move," House advised. "You'll live, but it won't be so pleasant for awhile."
"Hurts," Wilson said again. "Can you up my pain meds?"
House quirked one eyebrow. "From zero to...what?"
"I'm not on anything?" He blinked against the lights and the spears they were jabbing into his head. "Do I have a concussion?" It was the only reason he could think of to deny pain relief to a trauma victim.
House shook his head. "Foreman himself gave you a clean bill of brain health."
Suddenly, Wilson was very cold. "Then why-" his throat caught and he swallowed. "Why not give me something? I'm in pain."
"Are you? Are you sure?"
Wilson felt hot, weak tears threaten. "Stop fucking around, House! This isn't funny!"
"Pain never is." House heaved himself to his feet and stared down at Wilson like a lab tech might a rat. He reached into his pocket and took out a syringe filled with a colorless fluid. "I could give you this. It would take away the pain for a few hours." He started to twirl the syringe slowly between his long, elegant fingers. "The thing is, you'd need another dose, then another. One thing about pain, it always comes back. Interesting, isn't it?"
Wilson's breath was coming in labored gasps. He watched the syringe glide effortlessly across House's hand, watched his salvation drop from finger to finger. "House, please-"
"The other thing I find interesting about pain is that there is no objective measure of it," the older man went on, as if Wilson hadn't spoken. He stood for a moment staring off into space. "Diabetes," he said finally. "Diabetics may need insulin for the rest of their lives, need it to function, to get through the day, the month, the year, to live. Why is it that no doctor questions their need for insulin?" He fixed Wilson expectantly with that curiously flat blue gaze.
Wilson shut his eyes against the wave of nausea that coursed through him. "Doctors monitor blood sugar," he gasped. "Give insulin as needed. Please-"
"Right. Blood sugar is this high, therefore we give this much insulin this many times a day. Very objective. Very textbook. We feel comfortable with absolutes. No one's going to sue us for going by the book." He looked down at Wilson again. "Pain, on the other hand...who's to say what another feels? Where's the measure for that? See, you can never be sure if a person is really in pain, can you? When in doubt, it's safer to assume that it's drug-seeking behavior or all in the patient's head. What do they call it? Conversion disorder?"
"Goddammit, House, look at me!" Wilson hissed, unable to find the strength to scream. "I was in an accident! Don't try to compare my pain and yours! I can't even move!"
"I know," he said, almost gently. "Welcome to the way I wake up every day now that you and Cuddy have decided to cut my Vicodin. Can you imagine getting up right now, cooking breakfast, showering, dressing, and going about a 10-hour day? Can you, Jimmy? Could you get up right now and do your job, or would you need something to take the edge off?"
The room spun as Wilson shook his head on the pillow. "After your surgery I gave you ridiculous amounts of morphine, House! I've been prescribing for you for six years!" The outburst left him drained, and he fell back, panting.
"Six years," House mused. "In six weeks your pain will be gone, your bones mostly healed. You may feel a twinge on rainy days, but Tylenol will take care of that. In the meantime, there are other ways to manage pain."
Wilson turned his head away and started to sob. "You bastard."
"The tears come first. If the pain goes on, you'll throw up on yourself. After a few hours, you'll wet the bed. At first, everyone will jump through hoops to help you. Poor Dr. Wilson is in so much pain he can't help it. Eventually, though," House see-sawed the syringe, watching the morphine drip from one end to the other, "you'll get to be a pain in the ass and people will decide you don't want to help yourself." He laughed, a barking, humorless sound. "You'd be surprised how quickly people jump to that conclusion."
"You're supposed to be my friend," Wilson choked out.
"I know. And as a friend I should do what I think is right for you." He pocketed the syringe.
Wilson's sob turned into a retch as agony flared in his shoulder. He couldn't take this, not for another six weeks, not for another six minutes. Surviving the accident wasn't worth it, not if he had to feel like this. Death, once so vague and horrible a concept for a healthy 38-year-old man, now seemed like blessed relief.
House crossed to the opposite side of the bed and picked up his IV line. "Fortunately, Jimmy," he said softly, "I would never leave you like this." He inserted the needle into the port and administered the morphine.
Immediately, Wilson's body relaxed as the pain started to lessen its grip on him. He felt House's gentle hand reach over and stroke his sweaty hair back.
"I'll be back in a few hours with another dose. If you have any breakthrough pain, have the nurses page me."
He walked out, leaving Wilson alone to face himself.
There are many kinds of hell.