The arrow sticking out of Wilson's chest rises and falls with each gasping breath. House notices the arrow's fletching -- the small, trimmed feathers carry bold black bars. It's easier to look at the feathers than at Wilson.
"Domine," Wilson gasps, and House realizes for the first time that Wilson isn't in a suit, or a lab coat, or in any kind of modern dress at all. He's wearing what appears to be a tunic, coarsely woven, the color of a dun horse. It's night-time and they're in a forest, but the woods are on fire and it's almost as bright as day. Blackened cinders swirl by, carried on the hot breeze. In the near distance House can hear the shouts of men, the clash of swords, the screams of dying men and animals.
Wilson's panting slows as he eases gently to his knees, and then his side.
"Gregori," Wilson says, "Gregori."
He looks at House, and then he's looking at nothing.
Wilson is dead.
House bolts upright, his breath coming in harsh, rasping gasps.
What the fuck?
The dream had been so vivid, so awful, so real. The blazing forest, the ringing of steel blades striking armor, the wind warmed by flames -- Wilson had even spoken Latin. For a moment he tries to think if Wilson's ever mentioned taking Latin, then realizes it's not Wilson but his own subconscious supplying the details.
House looks to one side, finds the radium glow of the digital clock. 3:15. In the morning. He curses again. Now he'll never get back to sleep. With a groan, he turns over, careful of his right leg.
After a while, he does sleep.
He doesn't dream.
"What?" Wilson says. "You've avoided me all morning. What's going on?"
"Nothing," House snaps. "Tough patient. Keeps lying."
"Like that's any different from the usual." Wilson throws up his hands and walks away.
House watches him go, waits for an arrow to come arching out of the conference room next to them.
Just a dream, he thinks. Just a dream.
The men wait, feet shuffling nervously in the half-light of the false dawn.
The trench stinks. The trench always stinks. At least the rats are still asleep; House hates it when the furry creatures startle him awake by scuffling over his feet.
Wilson grins at him, fingers adjusting the armlet on his left bicep. The red cross on white cloth seems to glow in the shadows.
House raises the whistle to his lips and blows, and then the artillery barrage lights up the morning like a new sun.
The men are scrambling up the ladders, spilling out over the top into No Man's Land. The booming whump! of the 88s hurts the ears, but it's nothing compared to the dull explosions of the heavy guns. The stench of cordite and blood is thick in the air.
House leads his men forward, pausing to cut the barbed wire entanglements. It's while he's doing this, working with the shears, that Wilson is hit.
One moment he's there beside him, the next he's on his back, brilliant red stitches of machine-gun fire across his chest.
House kneels beside him.
"Captain," Wilson breathes. Brown eyes lock onto blue, and then the light in the brown eyes fades.
Wilson is dead.
House's eyes snap open.
He lies there for a moment, simply breathing. What the hell?
The suburban New Jersey night is quiet -- no guns firing, no ordnance going off, no whistles blowing.
House glances at the clock. 3:15. Again. God damn it.
This time he doesn't get back to sleep.
"Run the test again," he says, handing the file back to Cameron.
She looks at him, brows drawing together in that "He's insane but what can I do?" expression he knows all too well.
"You need sleep," she says, taking the file and clutching it against her chest. "You look terrible."
"I always look terrible," he snarls. "Patients lie, I look terrible. Has a nice rhythm, don't you think?"
She rolls her eyes as she turns away, pretending not to notice as House dry-swallows two Vicodin.
"Are you okay?"
Wilson stares at him. It's not clear if he's perplexed by the question or the fact that House is asking it.
"I'm fine," he says at last.
House pretends not to notice as he watches Wilson pop a Tums in his mouth.
The gunshots are loud in the enclosed space as the bank robbers begin to shoot their hostages. The sound bounces off the walls and uses up all the available air.
Wilson's on his back, staring up at the ceiling. Both bullets have struck him in the chest; bright arterial blood is soaking into the carpet.
He rolls his head, trying to find House.
"What?" Wilson says, and then "Oh --" and then he's gone.
House curses. It's 3:15, he knows it.
God, he thinks. God god god. Fucking shit. This needs to stop.
Rolling to one side, he reaches for his cell phone, punches the first number on speed dial. It rings four times before it's picked up.
"Dr. Wilson." The familiar voice is groggy, but alive.
House snaps the phone closed.
Reduced to making crank calls. I'm going insane
He's haunting Wilson; he knows it but can't stop.
His eyes track the other man every time he walks by Diagnostics. He watches him unobtrusively as he works in the clinic and follows him at a distance during grand rounds. He pilfers copies of Wilson's daily schedule so he knows where he is at all times.
Wilson knows he's being stalked; he's caught House's eye more than once in this game of cat-and-mouse. Usually he rolls his eyes; alternately, he looks at the ceiling as if praying for strength. He's popping more Tums and House wonders if he's giving Wilson indigestion. He hopes so. Serves him right for being such an inconsiderate ass, dying in his dreams like that.
House's fellows watch both men but say nothing.
The airlocks are breached. The Talarians are storming the hospital ship Argo Nightingale, and there's nothing the humans can do about it.
The small security detail is quickly overwhelmed, and the aliens set about their work of killing the patients in their beds with deadly efficiency.
They converse in high-pitched chirps; their iridescent black feathers stink like burnt match-ends. Razor-sharp talons glint in the shiplight.
Some of the doctors step forward in a vain attempt to protect their patients; Wilson is one of them.
House can only watch as Wilson is surrounded and forced against a bulkhead. A Talarian claw sinks into his chest, briefly pinning him to the wall before it's jerked out, ripping muscle and tissue to shreds. A great gout of blood fountains in the air.
Wilson sinks slowly down, head tilted back, already in deep hypovolemic shock. House tries to move but he knows he's dreaming and is frozen in a sleep paralysis so strong he can barely breathe. Wilson turns his head; his lips move but there's no sound as the life fades from his eyes.
A digital chronometer is set in the wall a few feet away. House watches as it ticks over to a new minute.
House opens his eyes.
His heart is pounding and he's soaked in sweat; in the back of his mind he can still hear the chirping, chittering calls of the murderous aliens.
Talarians, House thinks. Christ, if I'm going to have dreams like this why can't Sigourney Weaver be in them?
He doesn't have to look at the clock to know what time it is.
This stops now. Today.
Chase glances up briefly, then returns his attention to the journal he's reading.
"Told you already he's in a meeting. Same as it says on that schedule of his you pinched."
"Tell us again why we're so worried about Dr. Wilson's whereabouts?" Foreman is shaking his head; now he's got that "I know you're crazy but you sign my paychecks" look.
Cameron enters the conference room, catching the last part of the conversation.
"That's what I want to know," she says. "I mean, it's not like Dr. Wilson's dying, right?"
It's well past lunchtime when House finally corners Wilson in his office.
Wilson is working his way through a stack of files and charting and barely looks up when House barges in.
"I'm a little busy now, House."
"Too busy to see me?"
"Um," Wilson says, making a notation on the paper in front of him. He's not really paying attention, and House uses the moment to study his friend.
Wilson looks tired. He's a little pale, a little rough around the edges. Unusual for Wilson. As House watches, Wilson picks up a small plastic bottle from his desk and shakes out another Tums. He looks up and catches House's eyes on him.
House doesn't say anything, and after a moment Wilson sighs.
"Go ahead, I know you want to say it."
"Make some sarcastic comparison between my Tums and your vicodin. At least I can't dry-swallow antacids."
Wilson shrugs, wincing a little as he rubs one hand along his jaw. "Indigestion. Probably that fish taco you made me eat a few days ago."
"I didn't make you eat it, you ordered it all by yourself. Heartburn can be --"
House stops. He looks at the small mantel clock on Wilson's bookshelf.
House drags his attention back to Wilson.
"They were all in your chest. The arrow. The bullets. Even the claw."
Wilson blinks. "My ... what? What claw?"
"You're having a heart attack."
Wilson blinks again and leans back in his chair.
"I'm not having a heart attack. I'm a doctor, don't you think I'd know if I was having an MI?"
House moves closer to the desk until he's leaning over it.
"An infarction? Yes, but you'd never admit it to yourself that something might be happening because then you'd be the one needing help."
House places both hands on the desktop. His face is inches away from Wilson's.
"You'd be one of the forty percent who don't call the doctor, who don't want to bother anyone with their own problems, who think this can't happen to me. Patients lie, but so do doctors."
Wilson's mouth is open, and there's a faint sheen of sweat on his brow. He takes a deep breath.
"House, for the last time, I'm not --"
The sentence is choked off as Wilson grimaces and grabs at his left arm. The fountain pen he's been holding falls to the floor, landing on the carpet with a light thump.
House is around the desk, one hand holding Wilson's right wrist while he uses the other to lift the receiver of Wilson's desk phone. He punches in the internal number for the Emergency Room.
"This is Dr. Gregory House, I need a full crash cart to Dr. James Wilson's office, stat. Thirty-eight year old white male, about to go into full cardiac arrest."
Wilson's pulse is thin and thready. "Don't ... you think ... that's a little ... dramatic?" he wheezes.
"Shut up," House growls. "The Talarians aren't getting you. Not this time."
"What ... Tala --"
Wilson makes a low noise in his throat and slumps against House.
A light hand touches his shoulder.
"You know he's going to be okay," Cuddy says. "Why don't you get some rest? Something to eat?"
House shifts a little in the unforgiving ICU chair. He should've told one of the kids to bring him a cushion; his butt's almost asleep from sitting for so long, and his leg is a slow, fierce ache.
Wilson sleeps on, oblivious to them both. Tests have already begun to determine how much of his heart muscle was damaged by the infarction.
"I'm fine," he assures Cuddy, and knows from her answering snort that she doesn't believe him. He doesn't care. He'll eat later, and sleep. But not now.
Not while he might dream.