Safe Scene

House couldn't help but smile as Wilson walked away. There was nothing else for him to do, really. What had Wilson done, but follow the game plan House had lain out.

He had forced his friend to play his game. He had won. Victory usually tasted sweeter.

His smile contorted into a grimace as pain and helplessness set in. He popped a couple of Vicodin, getting up was going to be a bitch. He stretched and tested his hands out and sidled himself over to the wall. He wanted to wait for the Vicodin to start working, but wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible. He didn't want them to know he couldn't get up. He stretched his legs out, leaned back against the wall and tried to look like he was bored, just waiting on word about his patient. He pulled his Gameboy out of his pocket. The scene actually looked pretty convincing.

People walked on by, not paying him too much mind. Those who recognized him, knew he was eccentric and those who didn't, he didn't really care about. Just another 10 minutes or so and I'll be back on my feet, or foot, he thought to himself. He closed his eyes, leaned his head back, and let out a deep sigh, willing the drug to work faster.

Cuddy was walking back to her office feeling the frustration and pride that only Gregory House could elicit from her. He was absolutely exasperating, but he had been right. He had saved another life. As she turned the corner, she saw familiar jeans and sneakers sticking out from behind a supply cart. She braced herself for the litany of smug comments she knew he'd be throwing her way. She stopped in front of him with a puzzled and slightly concerned expression. He was silent. He hadn't even noticed she was there and she had passed by the remnants of his cane. What was going on, she wondered. She knelt and touched his shoulder. The look of a hurt, lost little boy flashed across his face, but he quickly replaced it with a blank, bored expression.

"How's the girl?" he asked, looking at his game, refusing to look at her. He needed the drugs to kick in.

"Looks like she'll make it. I convinced the parents not to press charges."

"I figured the fact that I was right gave me a pretty solid case."

"Yeah, but if you hadn't been?" she asked throwing up her hands in exasperation. "Do you have any idea what that stunt could have cost you? The hospital? That family?"

"I was right. So, all is forgiv-" he was cut off by the pain. He couldn't help the hiss that escaped his lips, and shut his eyes tight. Cuddy studied him for a moment. It was clear that he was in pain. She had seen it before. She knew, logically, that it was a part of his life, but she often tried to ignore this fact. It made it easier to deal with him. In that moment though, she couldn't ignore it and something in her softened.

"What happened to your cane?" she asked.

"It broke," he said matter-of-factly. He didn't want to get into this. She thought she heard hurt in his voice. She was concerned.

"I can see that. You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," he gave a little nod, that Cuddy didn't really find convincing.

"Uh huh." She picked up the cane, and held her hand out to him, "come on."

House weighed his options and cursed the fact that he didn't really feel like he had any. He took the offered hand, and looked away from her as he slowly and shakily got to his feet wearing the pain on his face, biting his lip to keep from grunting with the effort. She waited as he leaned against the wall, shoring himself up for the walk to his office. He didn't know if he could make it just yet.

He knew Cuddy was waiting for him to move. He could feel her expectant eyes on him, but he couldn't bring himself to look at her. He had mastered getting up without putting weight on his right leg, but walking without it bearing at least some weight, especially in the absence of the cane would be impossible.

House was actually surprised Wilson had picked on his cane. The oncologist was usually such a worry wart, but he knew that his prank would cause House to fall. He knew that it would cause him to fall and that it would be hard for him to get back up without the cane. He knew he would most likely fall on his right side. He knew House could have been seriously injured. He saw House sitting in the middle of the hallway and he just left him there.

House didn't think he had the right to be angry. He had started the prank war after all, insisting Wilson play. He wasn't really angry, not at Wilson anyway. He couldn't admit just how hurt he was though. Not from the fall, all things considered, he had been pretty lucky. It just reminded him of the freedom and independence his leg stole away from him.

It bothered him that he couldn't even enjoy this fun little back and forth with Wilson fully. It bothered him that he was so vulnerable. It bothered him that none of this bothered Wilson. Wilson just didn't get this. He never would because he didn't have to. He didn't have to live like this. House wasn't really mad at Wilson. Wilson had played his game. All Wilson would ever know of this was that House was fine and had smiled and laughed through it. It was times like this though that he felt incredibly alone.

Alone and vulnerable.