Author's note: This is my first House fanfic. Hope you guys like it. The great thing about these two characters is that they are so close that you can very easily hurt one through the other, as Volger proved. That makes them such easy targets...
Disclaimer: If I owned them, Wilson and Chase would never be allowed out of my room. Too bad...
James Wilson looked up from the file he had been staring at when he heard the door open. The smile began to form on his lips when he saw his best friend standing there, but it fell quickly when he saw the look on Greg House's face. Even someone who didn't know him as well as Wilson did could see the pain there, but it wasn't the same pain that was constantly there, just under the surface. Whatever was wrong, it wasn't his leg. "What is it?" he asked, concern in his voice.
House's blue eyes shot laser bolts through him. "The bet, Jimmy. You were behind that?"
Wilson's heart froze. He figured that out? And he called him Jimmy. He had to be seriously pissed. No longer able to meet his friend's eyes, he turned to the side and put the file in the drawer as House limped inside. He stood behind the chair, but didn't offer to sit down, and Wilson had no other distraction to put off the question. "How did you know?" he replied with a sigh.
House shook his head. "I didn't until now."
Wilson winced. He fell right into that one. This was the part where House would yell at him, insist that he was a grown man and not everything was his business. There would be a fair amount of foul language, some threats, maybe even a punch thrown that Wilson would either dodge or simply take like a man if he couldn't avoid it. Once House either drew blood or yelled enough to figuratively draw blood, it would be over and they would go get Chinese take-out and get enough beer to not remember any of it in the morning. That was the way it worked.
Not today, though. Instead of raising his voice, House simply asked in a resigned tone, "Was it worth it?"
This was not what Wilson had expected. "Huh?"
House looked him in the eye again, and it startled Wilson. This wasn't like House at all. Complacent acceptance just wasn't in his personality. There was no fire in his eyes, no anger. A sick feeling crept into Wilson's stomach. What was that quote from that Superman show, Lois and Clark, or something like that? "I'm not mad, I'm hurt." "And that's going to be worse than mad, isn't it?"
"Was it worth what I went through to get me to admit I was an addict?"
There it was, in the same blunt, straightforward manner House was known for. No beating around the bush, no anger that could put Wilson on the defensive and disguise the truth behind the words. He sighed. "At least sit down."
House hesitated for a second, and Wilson thought he might refuse just on principle, but then the older man moved over to the chair and fell heavily into it without a sign of his usual grace. He looked tired, worn, hurt. And etched in his every feature was an even deeper hurt: Betrayal. "No," he admitted. "It wasn't. I wish I had never suggested it."
"But you got what you wanted." It was not a question.
That hit Wilson like a physical blow. "No. Well, yeah, in a way. But that wasn't the way to go about it."
House shrugged nonchalantly. "It worked. Well, I just wanted to confirm that it was your idea. I'll go now. You want to come over tonight? Bring some movies." He started to get up.
Wilson was afraid he was going to throw up. "No, wait. Just…sit down a minute." This wasn't right. House wasn't even pissed? Not even a little? He wasn't sure he could handle that. His friend's anger and the resulting fight was all that he was going to have to help him clear his conscience. If he was just simply forgiven, or even worse just accepted, the guilt would tear him apart. He already felt it, like a thousand rats crawling around in his stomach, chewing holes all through it. "I'm sorry, Greg. I didn't realize it would be so bad." Lame, but it was the best he had come up with so far.
House shuffled his cane around, not meeting his eyes now. "Why would you want to put your best friend through that?" he asked in a small voice, sounding as if he was hating himself for even saying it. "It was going to hurt either way. Most people try to spare their best friend pain, not bribe them into causing more."
Wilson slumped in his seat, all strength leaving him. He wished House would yell, or hit him, or even whack him over the head with the damn cane, rather than just sitting here as a living reminder of the pain Wilson's idea had put him through. Of course, he had a choice, but Wilson had known there was no way his pride would let him back down. House wasn't joking earlier, he would have done it for two weeks. Hell, he probably would have done it for one if Cuddy had pushed it. When he replied, his voice was barely above a whisper. "I wanted to be wrong."
House nodded. "I know. And I'm sorry you weren't."
Wilson looked his friend up and down. The week had taken its toll on the older man. He was still pale, shaky, and leaned heavier on his cane than he had in a long time. "For what it's worth, I regret it. It was stupid, and childish and-"
"Mean," house added with no hint of a smile. "You know, it didn't just hurt me. Your game put my team through hell, too. Chase was all but puking beside me in sympathy, Cameron was hovering as usual, trying to soak up some of the pain through osmosis, and Foreman…well, that was priceless."
Knowing he would regret asking, he couldn't resist the bait. "What did Foreman do?"
"He brought me Vicodon and tried his best to talk me into taking it. He doesn't even like me and he wasn't able to stand seeing me in that kind of pain. While you, my best friend in the world, orchestrated the whole thing." There was no hint of rage or malice behind those words, only the sting of the betrayal that Wilson knew hurt much deeper. By now, he felt so low that he would rather have gone through the withdrawal himself than the crushing guilt he felt now. "Not only that, but I wasn't at my best as a doctor. That boy could have died if I had been even slightly more off than I was. He almost did anyway." He stared at Wilson until the younger man could stand it no longer and had to look at him. "What if he had died because I was impaired?" He snorted. "Or more impaired than usual, I mean."
Wilson looked away again, and House went on. "You know, they prepare you for a lot of withdrawal symptoms. I was ready for the nausea, the sweating, depression, and pain in my leg. What took me by surprise was how bad everything else hurt." His face screwed up with the memory of the pain. "Every muscle in my body hurt like my leg, and my leg hurt worse than the infarction ever did."
Tears blurred Wilson's soft brown eyes and his friend's image wavered. "I'm so sorry. I never should have done that. If I could take it back…or even go through the pain myself, if I could just prove to you how sorry I am…"
House pulled himself to his feet. "Jimmy, if it had to be one of us, I'm glad it wasn't you. I'd never wish that kind of suffering on you, and if there's one thing I'm thankful for in my whole lousy life, it's you being healthy. Apology accepted. Hey, I gotta go. Patients and all, ya know?" He limped out of the office, accidentally bumping his broken finger against the desk and letting out an almost imperceptial hiss of pain. "Invitation's still open for tonight. Oh, and bring beer too." He let the door shut behind him, leaving James Wilson sitting alone, feeling about two inches tall.
Wilson let out the shaky breath he didn't know he'd been holding. God, what had he done?! House's life was defined by pain, and Wilson was supposed to be his wingman, the sidekick, and more. He was the one who pushed him to get better, held him while he vomited from the pain and the early attempts to manage it, the one who ran interference and covered for him when he was hurting too much to function. And now he had been the one to hurt him. The physical pain was bad enough, but the betrayal was even worse. His stomach felt like it had been completely eaten away by the phantom rats. He sincerely doubted that the withdrawal could be worse then the torture his conscience was and would continue to put him through. And he deserved every second of it.
Greg House waited until he was in the elevator to pop two Vicodon in his mouth and dry-swallow them. He was as tired as he seemed, and his little show back there had cost him. He was due for a pill two hours ago, but he needed the pain to look real. He could have faked it for the ducklings, or maybe even Cuddy, but not for James. It had to be real. He was the one person who could read him like a book. But it was worth it, and he had his revenge.
Sure, he could have yelled and threw a fit, even hit him. Jimmy wouldn't have hit back. But this was so much worse. House could harass him for the rest of their lives about this, and he could still never do as good a job of punishing him as James Wilson could do on his own. Some one had once told him that fear was the worst form of psychological torture, but they were wrong. Guilt was much, much worse.