thanks for all the great reviews. I just read it again, printed out and corrected all the typos i could find... plus the ones you kindly pointed out to me, hope I got them all now:-)

This is a follow up story for the stories „The Contract" from diysheep, „Lifeline" from Troopercam and „Exigencies"(which I think are all fantastic). If you haven't read any of those, please do so before you start this one, as you won't know what it's all about if you haven't. It starts five month after „Exigencies" stops... at least at the time I submitted the story. (Hope it goes on soon) I also hope it's not going to interfere too much with 'Exigencies'... if it does, please see it as a parallel-universe-story...

I also apologize for any grammatical or spelling mistakes. I'm not a native speaker, but I decided to write the story in English because it's predecessors are and I've only ever watched House in English, so it would be weird to translate it back. Otherwise I hope you enjoy the story (reviews and suggestions are appreciated.)

Recovery

„Wilson. Wilson, are you awake?"

Wilson turned sleepily and eyed House through halfclosed eyes.

„I am now! What's up? You alright?"

He sat up, shaking his head, trying to get his bearings. His insides started squirming with dread, the moment he got his brain around the fact that House had woken him up in the middle of the night. This hasn't happened in over two months, he thought scanning House's face for clues.

„Relax!" House said, „Nothing's wrong. Well, nothing much. I just had a bad dream and I was wondering if ..." his voice trailed off.

„You wanna camp in my room for the rest of the night?" Wilson asked, guessing what House couldn't bring himself to ask.

„Alright, if you insist on it ... Move over."

Wilson moved and House slipped under the covers. Five minutes later he snored contentedly, one of his hands firmly grasping a part of Wilson's pajamas.

Wilson lay awake thinking. It had been over two months since House had last had a nightmare, bad enough to make him wake up Wilson. And he hadn't been willing to share a bed since he had come out of the catatonia.

After he had returned to being House again he had usually woken Wilson on those bad nights by making a loud noise or turning on the tv. Then they would spend the rest of the night sitting on the couch, watching some stupid late night movie. The fact that House was now lying next to him grabbing his pajamas like he had when things had been really bad, scared Wilson. What if they had made a mistake in getting House to return to work at PPTH. Maybe they should have given him more time. Maybe...

The next morning Wilson tried to get House to talk about the previous night, but House had closed up again and was pretending nothing had happened. Just like in the old days. That couldn't possibly be a good sign, could it? The ride to the hospital was a quiet one. When they were almost there, Wilson tried one last time:

„You can take the day off, you know. The others will understand..."

„I don't want anyone to be understanding." House huffed, „I want them to do their work and otherwise leave me alone."

Wilson shook his head. „I don't get this. Now you talk just like you did before ... you know ..." He was still uncomfortable mentioning House's years of pain and torture, „And then last night it was almost like you were getting worse again..." He was searching for words that wouldn't hurt House or make him clam up even more.

„I'm not going to go back to being a vegetable again, if that's what you're afraid of. That would be a step backward and you know I'm no good at walking without seeing the floor." House threw a sideways glance at his friend.

„I just had a bad dream and I didn't want us to be up all night again, now that we're both back at work." That was the most honest explanation Wilson would get.

Ever since he'd resumed work at PPTH again, he had started to be more like his former self. At first Wilson and Cuddy had been worried, going back to where his suffering had started might break House again, but soon it had become apparent that it wasn't a bad idea.

House's recovery had taken quite a leap in the past five month. The fact that Chase and Foreman kept shielding him from disturbing and upsetting things was probably a big factor too. But the main point for his getting better, Wilson was sure, was that he felt useful again. He was actually saving people's lives again, like only he could.

Wilson decided to let the matter rest and hope that things would turn out ok. Hell, they deserved an upward turn of things. The whole recovery-affair was pulling on both their nerves. Sure there had been small steps in the right direction ever since House had become himself again. First that, then the corrective surgeries, then House finally sleeping through the whole night (at least most nights).

They even had been able to get rid of Clarence, House's „bodyguard". Although he had been a great help, his payment had put a deep hole in their wallets. Then House had agreed to resume his old post as head diagnostitian at PPTH again. It started out as a two month trial period, but after that House had agreed to stay for good. Things were starting to look real good again. If only last night hadn't happened...

2.

House hobbled into his office on his crutches five minutes later, completely ignoring Chase who was coming down the corridor the latest lab results in his hand. Chase stopped in front of House's office door, wondering if he should go in, or if House was in a state were he needed to be alone. There had been occasions before, just as Wilson had warned them, when House wasn't able to deal with anyone. At some times he would just sit in his office and stare at the wall, listening to some quiet piece of music.

At other occasions it had been worse. Whenever Chase, Foreman or Rajghatti realized that House was in one of his „nightmare-states" as they called it, one of them would run to fetch Wilson. Usually he was able to calm House down again.

But those episodes had been getting less and less in the last weeks. House seemed to be getting better steadily. He had even started to annoy them with his snide comments again. Even though he had always hated House's scathing way before, Chase had to admit he was now glad for every comment, because it meant his boss was improving. He decided to give House a few minutes to settle down. Usually he would page them when he was in and ready to deal with the days workload.

Inside his office House sat down at his desk, stared at the wall and absentmindedly started playing with the ball, Foreman had given him as a Welcome-back-in-the-job-present.

He thought about last night. He had gone to bed early, beeing tired from a especially hard day. They'd had a teenage boy who had been admitted with a broken arm. During the diagnosis the attending doctor had discovered a lot of bruises on the boys body, that couldn't have been from the accident. He'd tried to talk to the boy about it, but he had refused to admit that anything was wrong. Five minutes later he'd had a heart attack. Not knowing what could have caused a condition, that was basically unheard of in such young kids, he had asked Chase's opinion. Chase remembering another case about 5 years back, when House had cured a girl who'd come in with the same problem, decided to ask House if he was interested. House had agreed, so far so good.

But then the boys father had turned up and started yelling at the doctors. Once they had calmed him down a bit, Foreman and Rajghatta had tried to explain the situation. But the moment the man heard House's name he freaked out again. Unfortunately, House was at that same moment coming back from lunch with Wilson and stepped out of the elevator while the man was still yelling. Seeing House, and recognizing him from the media-coverage of his case, he had immediatly jumped on House. It had been a real piece of work for the three Doctors to get House into his office without upsetting him too much and calm down the angry father.

The case of the bruises had been solved real quick afterwards, they were the marks of the fathers attempts at discipline. He'd solved the case of the heart attack a few hours later.

The boy, it turned out, had Metabolic Syndrom X, a conditition were the body doesn't respond normally to insulin, leading it to create too much. That in turn led to metabolic abnormalities. The Doctor's Questions about his bruises had upset him and caused high bloodpressure. That set off the heart attack.

The whole episode had shook House up more than he wanted to admit, mainly because it had reminded him of Cameron. Five years back she had been the one to suggest this condition for the heart-attack-girl.

Once House had fallen asleep the nightmares started. They had been getting less in the last months but this night they were worse than ever.

He was lying on his stomach on cold concrete floor. His whole body was hurting. Behind and above him he could hear the movements of the other men. They had just spend half an hour pushing him around between them, slowly beating him up. Now one of them said in a hateful voice,

You know there's this thing the Indians did to their prisoners. Lets see how he likes it."

Grunted agreements came from his two helpers.

Strong hands grabbed House forcefully and turned him on the side. Then they took his hands and twisted his arms backward, binding them with a rope. Then they bound his feet together. Finally they pulled his feet up his back and his hands down, so that they touched and fastened them in that position.

Let's see how long he does without moaning." the man said again. They moved away, laughing, leaving House on the floor.

Soon new pain joined his already hurting body. His wrists and shoulders burned from the strain. His injured leg was worse than ever, beeing forced into a backward position. He didn't know how long he lay there before the first moan of pain slipped out between his lips. The men didn't seem to notice, he could hear them playing cards and drinking beer a little way back.

The pain was getting worse... he was going to die ... please just let him die and everything would be over...

But it wasn't meant to be over, not just yet. After what seemed to House like an eternity his tormentors came over again and loosened the ropes. They grabbed him and dragged him to the car trunk. A short while later they dropped him on the pavement in front of his house. It was still dark.

See you tomorrow, buddy." one of them wispered in his ear before they left ...

House had jerked awake at that moment. The dread and panic he had felt at these words was vividly present in his mind again. Yes, That had been the worst of it all – the fear. Never knowing when and what was coming next. He lay in his bed, shaking, sweat pouring down his face.

„It's over. They're all gone. You're safe now."

He kept repeating it to himself like a mantra, trying to calm down enough to go back to sleep. But sleep wouldn't come. The fear of another nightmare was to much. Finally he had given up and gone over to Wilson. Good old Wilson. He was the only one he felt save around. The only one he had ever trusted enough to reveal his true emotions to, even if it was only on rare occasions. Wilson was his haven, he would make the nightmares go away.

He knew, he would have to answer unwanted questions the next morning, when he saw Wilsons concerned face, but at that moment he didn't care. All he wanted was to feel safe again.

Well, now he would have to pay the price. He just had to get Wilson to believe him, that he wasn't getting worse again. It was the least he could do. After all Wilson had been trough for House, he deserved to know things were going to be ok. Hell, what he really deserved was a break, but House wasn't sure if he was stable enough to give his friend one.

Sometimes he hated himself for his weakness. He wanted to be ok again, if only for Wilson's sake. He hated how tired his friend always looked, knowing it was because of him. He hated that people were pitying him. He even hated the gratitude his old colleagues couldn't disguise well enough. It reminded him that he had failed once. It reminded him of Cameron's death and the way she had died.

He shook his head as violently as his scared skin and damaged nerves would allow him and reached for the beeper. Time to start work. Time to face the real world again, people were still dying ...

House told Wilson about his new case on the way home. Wilson noticed that his friends voice sounded calm and normal again and was relieved. Maybe he had been reading to much into the whole thing.

They got chinese food and strawberry mikshakes for dinner and were hanging around on the couch, watching the news, when House said.

„Jimmy, I've been thinking." Wilson, surprised, turned the volume down and his head to look at his friend.

„You need a break." House continued, when he was sure he had Wilson's attention. „I've been going on your nerves long enough. Why don't you take a vacation, go to Hawaii for a week and get a lot of meaningless sex, daiquiri and hula-dancing. Anything you fancy, that doesn't involve worrying about an old cripple."

„But... I can't leave. What if something happens..." Wilson stuttered, completely surprised by the idea.

„Oh, relax! What's gonna happen? I'm fine, I told you. I'm a big boy now."

Wilson stared at the older man, trying to figure out how to reply.

„Come on, I'll pay. I've still got some money from the compensation payment. You can choose another destination if you don't like Hawaii."

Wilson made up his mind. If he refused he knew it would hurt House. He knew that House felt guilty for being so dependent on his friend. He also realized that he wouldn't be able to sleep soundly, if he knew House was alone. But he would really like a vacation.

„I'll agree, with one condition." he finally said in a stern voice. „We ask Clarence to stay here with you, during the nights, while I'm gone. Just in case something comes up. And if it's only, so you don't have to cook." he added, seeing House frown.

„Great! Then I'll have someone to play Poker with, who doesn't lose all the time."

Two weeks later, after he had assured himself that House wasn't going to relapse, Wilson was on his way to Hawaii for his first vacation in 4 years.

3.

The first night after Wilson left was ok. House and Clarence, who had taken over Wilson's room for the coming seven days, had ordered some pizza and beers and spent the evening watching tv. House had to admit, that he was glad to have someone there with him. The arrangement was, that Clarence would be there in the mornings and evenings. During the day he was free to keep his job at the psychiatric clinic.

House would drive to work in his own car. He had insisted on buying it, so he wouldn't be too dependent on Wilson. He had even agreed to have hand-controls installed, because his leg wasn't strong enough for long journeys.

The second night the nightmares came back. But this time it wasn't old memories haunting him.

He was sitting on a chair his hands bound behind his back. The men were there again. But this time they weren't tormenting House but someone else. He didn't want to watch. He didn't want them to continue. He needed to free himself to help that person. He knew it was important that he get them to stop hitting ... Wilson. He yelled at the men, he strained against the ropes that were cutting into his wrists. He could feel warm blood running down his hands, dripping to the floor.

Nooo! Stop it! I didn't do anything wrong... You're not allowed to hurt him...It's in the Contract... He doesn't know anything... STOP IT! PLEASE!"

They just laughed at him.

What? You wanna get beaten up instead?" they mocked him. „Wait 'till we're finished with this one, then you'll get yours!"

There was nothing he could do, but watch as his best friend, the man he had been trying to protect, was beaten within an inch of his life. First he tried to struggle, tried to fight back, but they were stronger. In the end he rolled himself into a ball on the floor, trying to protect his body.

House could feel every blow that fell on Wilson, as if he himself had gotten it. He could see the blood running over Wilson's face and hands. He didn't realize that he was sobbing, tears streaming down his face.

Finally they let go of Wilson. House could see his friend breathing shallowly. His face contorted with pain. He was still concious, his eyes fixed on House. „Why?" they seemed to ask. „Why are they doing this to me?"

House didn't know what to say... he tonelessy mouthed apologies and prayers... his mind working furiously.

The men returned, they roughly pulled Wilson up onto his knees, so that he was facing House.

Any last words?" one of them asked scathingly.

That was when House saw the gun. The man pressed it against Wilson's head. Wilson was so dazed with pain, he didn't understand what was happening.

NO!" House mouthed, unable to think. He stared wide-eyed at the gun. „Please!" he begged.

The only answer he got was an evil grin.

Then the man bent his finger and pulled the trigger...

„NO!" House screamed, sitting up in bed, staring wildly around. His face was wet, he didn't know if from sweat or tears, his whole body was shaking.

„Dr. House." he heard a soft voice from the doorway. Clarence came inside and sat down on the edge of the bed. „A nightmare?" he asked calmly.

House nodded.

„It's alright." Clarence continued soothingly, „It's over now. You're awake and safe. I'm here, noone can hurt you."

House noddedslowly, still shaking. His first urge was to call Wilson and check if he was ok. But that would be stupid. Calling Wilson in the middle of the night would just upset him. And he didn't want Wilson to be upset, he wanted Wilson to have a good time. He'd just have to suck it up and keep living. Like he'd done all those years. This wasn't even real, it was just dreams. His tormentors were either dead or in prison, he knew that for a fact, because he kept checking every few weeks.

He lay back down in bed and told Clarence that he'd be ok.

„I'll just stay here for a while, untill you've fallen asleep again." the big man said quietly and settled himself in an armchair in the corner.

„Thanks!" House mumbled and closed his eyes. Think of something nice, he told himself, like Wilson's pancakes or a monstertruck show...

The next morning, when Wilson called to check if everything was alright, House didn't tell him about the dream. He also asked Clarence not to tell. To reassure him, he promised to talk to his therapist about it, during the next session.

The rest of the week went reasonably well. House did have bad dreams, but none was as bad as the last one. He concentrated on his rehab, determined to be able to walk with his old cane again when Wilson came back. He had been secretly practising to walk without the crutches, because if it worked out, he wanted it to be a surprise and if it didn't work out, he didn't want anyone to know about it. So far things looked good. The nightmares, he decided, he would deal with when they came. There was nothing much he could do about it, other than try not to let them affect his life too much. He knew the healing would take time, and for once in his life he was willing to take all the time he needed.

Wilson's flight was delayed.

„Typical!" House murmured. He had decided to surprise Wilson by picking him up at the airport. He dreaded being at a place that was noisy and packed with people. But, to hell with it, he wanted to be able to walk (well, limp...) normaly among people again, without flinching at every unexpected sound.

He found a chair in a corner, were he was able to watch the crowd , without being in the middle of it. 45 minutes later Wilson finally emerged through the gates.

„Hey Jimmy!" House called as loud as his damaged vocal cords would let him.

Wilson stopped and turned, searching for the source of the voice, even though a part of him suspected it to be a halucination. House couldn't possibly be at the airport...

„Greg!" he exclaimed when he saw House.

„Thought you might like a ride home. Had a good time? You look ... refreshed."

„Yeah ... You're off the crutches!"

Wilson's face lit up and he smiled widely at his friend. House repeated the smile. Suddenly, Wilson was feeling completely happy. He hadn't seen this smile in over 4 years, this secret House smile, that only he could make appear. Actually he had given up all hope of ever seeing it again. But now it was back. House was going to be ok!

Wilson lunged forward and hugged his friend. House flinched, but only a little, before he wrapped his arms around Wilson, returning the hug.

The End