A/N: This is yet another sequel to the "The Contract" by diysheep. If you haven't as yet read any of the Contract-stories, I recommend you do that before starting on this one, because otherwise you won't really know what's going on.
This story is based on diysheeps short sequel about House's dad coming to visit during House's recovery. It can be found on her LJ (sorry can't post links) under the section: "The Contract and other angsty stories". She mentions a toy there, called 'Mr. Vicodin'. This is my story of how he came into being and his role in House's recovery.
Summary: Contract-sequel in which House finds Mr. Vicodin and gets betterer and betterer.
Beta: Many, Many thanks to t'eyla and diysheep for the beta. (hands each a box of chocolates.) Any mistakes left are entirely my fault.
Mysterious Ways or How House Found Mr. Vicodin And They Lived Happily Ever After
„I really don't know what to do anymore..." Wilson said tiredly. „I mean, I can't be around him twenty-four seven. I need to work and sometimes... well, sometimes I just need a break."
Dr. Simpson nodded sympathetically. „That's alright, Dr. Wilson. It's perfectly normal to feel this way. There's no reason for you to feel guilty. Considering what you're doing for him – not everybody would have the strength to do it."
Wilson shrugged. „I owe it to him. And I want to take care of him. Really, he's my friend and... I'm the only one he has left..." He broke off and shook his head. „It's just so hard sometimes. When he gets scared by some unexpected noise or movement... I mean, I never know when's the next time he freaks out. And it's worse when I'm not with him. I always worry about him. That he might need me and I'm not there to calm him down."
Simpson nodded again. „But like you said, you can't be there all the time. And I thought you hired this guy – Clarence – to take care of him during the day."
„Yeah, Clarence is a god-send, but sometimes he's not enough. House won't let Clarence touch him and the only thing that really calms him down is when he can hold onto me." Wilson felt a bit embarrassed at the confession.
Simpson seemed to notice how uncomfortable Wilson felt about what he'd just shared. „That's a good sign. That he holds on to you, I mean." he reassured Wilson. „It means that he recognizes you, that he's still somewhere inside." Wilson's face lit up a little at that. There was a part of him that still hoped House would one day be alright again. Dr. Simpson went on. „Have you ever thought of a substitute? Something that represents you or some sort of safety for Dr. House, while you're away?"
Wilson was confused. „Like what?"
Simpson shrugged. Obviously the idea had just come to him. He tried to explain. „You know how small children sometimes have a 'security blanket', something they take with them whenever they are away from home. That's what I've been thinking. Maybe you can find something that represents 'safety' to Dr. House. And while you're away he can hold on to it."
Wilson didn't answer immediately. He was thinking about it. The idea didn't sound too bad. There was only one problem: What could make House feel safe and protected? He had no idea.
When he put the problem before Simpson, he suggested that they could try out different things. A blanket, a toy or maybe a item of clothes. It didn't really matter as long as it served its purpose.
„House... look what I got for you." Wilson was talking quietly, willing House to understand him. House was sitting in his favourite corner, his fingers fiddling with the cushions, his face blank, eyes staring into space. Seeing his once brilliant friend so empty and broken always made Wilson want to scream. He shoved the thoughts away.
House was quite calm at the moment and so Wilson had decided to try out Simpson's idea. He was holding a small blue blanket, the kind they made for babies, and was showing it to House. On one side the picture of a smiling, pipe-smoking moon was printed on it.
„It's a blanket. I got it for you, in case you want something to hold onto when I'm away." House showed no interest whatsoever in what Wilson was saying. He completely ignored the blanket.
Wilson sighed. „I'm just going to leave it here for you." He put the blanket it front of House and slowly stood up. „I'm going to make dinner, do you want anything special?" He knew it was a stupid question. House wouldn't answer him, he never spoke now, but Wilson asked him the same question every night before he prepared dinner in the vain hope that someday, maybe House would look up and say 'I want pancakes'.
House continued to ignore him and Wilson let out another sigh. He seemed to sigh a lot lately. He went into the kitchen, leaving House to his thoughts.
Wilson tried to get House interested in the blanket over the next couple of days, but he didn't have any luck. House simple ignored the damn thing. Wilson finally took the blanket away. He stared at it for a minute before throwing it out. What had he been thinking anyway, House would never take to a childish thing like that.
He remembered Blythe telling him years ago, when things had still been alright, that House used to like the ugliest toys as a child. Give him a cute teddy-bear and he'd rip its head off in no time, but present him with something that resembled a cross between Freddy Kruger and a Klingon Targ and he'd hold onto it like a prized possession.
He thought about calling House's dad to ask him if there were any old toys of House's around, but he quickly dropped the idea. He remembered the last time he'd seen John and their conversation after John House had seen his son in his current state.
„So, he's like what, some retarded idiot now?"
„No, it's just... you have to understand... he's basically been through hell and back again. And now that it's over, it's like he's drawn back into himself. He's blocked out everything around him. But he can come back any day..."
„Pah, who do you think you're kidding? I mean, look at him, he's only one step from drooling..."
„Mr. House, your son is ill. He's suffered more than any person should ever have to suffer and I don't care how long it takes him to recover. I'll be there for him."
„Well, suit yourself. I'm not gonna burden myself with him. If you have nothing better to do... please waste your time!"
No. There was no way John House would understand a request like this. And thinking about it Wilson was pretty sure there would be no toys left. John had probably burnt them the moment House turned six.
Over the next days Wilson tried his luck with an old sweater of his, a toy Stitch from the Disney movie (it was the ugliest thing he could find) and even an action figure, but nothing seemed to hold House's interest long enough to be considered a 'security blanket'.
Finally Clarence, seeing how frustrated Wilson was, suggested they take House to a toy-store and let him chose for himself. Wilson was didn't like the idea. It probably wasn't a good idea to take House to a place full of people and noises. The incident in the shopping centre had taught him to be careful.
When Wilson came home, shopping bags in each hand, he sensed immediately that something was wrong. When he'd left only two hours ago, House had been sitting on the sofa pulling threads out of the pillows while sucking on a red lollipop.
Now there was no House to be seen and no Clarence either. For a moment cold dread rushed through Wilson's body, before he heard gentle murmuring from the bedroom. He knew this could only mean one thing. He dropped the bags and headed for the source of the noise. When he entered his eyes lit on a familiar scene.
House was wedged into his corner, his arms wrapped around his legs, eyes shut tightly, shaking and sweating. Clarence was crouched on the floor in front of him, but not too close, talking soothingly and trying to get House to relax.
When Wilson entered, Clarence looked up and said apologetically, „I'm sorry Doc, I don't know what it was this time. I was in the kitchen making coffee, when he suddenly screamed and bolted into the bedroom. I've tried talking to him, but..."
„It's alright, Clarence, I'll take over." Wilson knelt down next to House and started talking quietly. „It's alright, buddy. Your safe now, I'm here." After a while House latched onto Wilson's shirt and Wilson put his arms around his friend, holding him tight. He wished he could do more, somehow reach through to House and make him understand that things were okay now, but all he could do was sit here and wait for the nightmare to pass.
The next day Wilson decided to take Clarence's advice and let House chose his own security 'blanket'. He told House about his plans while he dressed him and got him ready to go.
„... so, once we're there, you can look around and maybe you find something you like. It can be anything, you know. And when I'm away you just hold onto it and it will keep the nightmares away..."
House actually seemed to listen this time; at least he was gazing intently at Wilson while he talked. Wilson was never sure if House listened to or understood what was said to him, but he hoped that maybe something got through that wall inside House's head.
Wilson decided to go early in the morning,because he hoped that at this time the toy-store wouldn't be too crowded. He had been right; there were only half a dozen or so people in the shop when they entered.
House was on the leash again. Wilson had almost foregone it this time, but the memory of House bolting in the middle of the crowded shopping centre had made him reconsider. Even if House killed him for humiliating him once he was well again, Wilson wasn't going to risk another incident.
„Alright House, come on, let's see what we can find." Wilson took House's hand and started slowly walking along the aisles, giving House time to view the objects displayed on the shelves.
When House didn't show any signs of interest in anything, Wilson randomly grabbed a green and violet dragon and held it in front of House's face. „What about this one, eh? It looks ugly enough." House gazed at the toy for a moment before his eyes drifted off again.
Wilson sighed and put the dragon back. He hated that dull look in House's eyes. House's eyes used to be so expressive and now there was nothing.
„Mom, why's this man on a string?" Wilson heard a child's voice ask. He felt himself blushing as he turned around intending to explain the odd sight.
The mother beat him to it. „Just ignore it, sweetheart, some people are just strange. See those PSP's over there? Why don't you go and have a look."
Wilson's feelings changed from embarrassment to anger. How dare this woman call House strange? Well, he'd done it hundreds of times, but he was House's friend. This was just some stranger, she had no right to judge House! Before he could say anything, the woman rounded on him.
„What do you think you're doing, bringing someone like him here? I mean, there are children here, for God's sake. They don't need to see that!"
„Excuse me?" Wilson stared at the woman unable to come up with an answer. This was just too much.
„Oh don't pretend you didn't realize -" The woman would probably have gone on, but Wilson had found his voice again.
„Who the hell do you think you are? Me and my friend can go where ever we want to go. If you don't like to see disabled people maybe you should stay at home and have your stuff delivered. I'm afraid the world isn't the happy place you imagine it to be!" He was talking himself into a rage, all his anger and frustration pouring out of him.
He waved his arms angrily while he was talking himself into a rage. He was taking a breath when he heard someone yell. „Hey you! What do you think you're doing there?"
The moment he heard the yell, Wilson realized that House wasn't at his side anymore. He must have let go of the leash during his gesticulations. „Fuck!" he muttered, turning around frantically, searching for House. He sprinted down the aisles looking for the escapee. He found him at the end of the shop with his back pressed against the wall shrinking away from an angry looking security guard. People had gathered around the pair, watching the drama unfold.
Wilson reached the two of them, and as soon as he'd gotten the guards attention he tried to explain that House wasn't dangerous.
„He tried to steal a bag of candies!" the guard told him pompously, waving a bag of Green frogs.
„Oh... I'm sorry, he doesn't know that he can't just take anything he wants. I'll pay for them when we leave. No harm done, right?" He tried to smile convincingly while keeping an eye on House who was still pressed against the wall looking terrified and shaking.
„Right, so what is he some kind of retard?" The guard asked with a sneer.
„No! He's just... he's had a bad time and he's recovering..." Wilson broke off. There was no way he could explain House's situation to a half-witted idiot like this guy, even if he'd wanted to. So he just turned around and went to take care of House. He'd have to calm him down before they could leave. Maybe this whole thing hadn't been such a good idea after all.
„Hey, House." he said calmly, soothingly. „It's alright. It was just a misunderstanding. It's fine, really. I'm sorry I didn't look after you, but it's alright now. We can go home if you like."
„Is he okay? Is there something I can do to help?" a female voice asked. Wilson looked around. A girl in her late teens was standing nearby, looking concerned.
Wilson gave her a small, tired smile. „He'll be fine. He just gets scared easily. There's nothing you can do, but thanks anyway."
„It's no problem. I know this isn't easy. My little brother has Tourret's. Some people just don't get it." She smiled back at him.
Wilson quickly glanced at House to see if he was calming down and was surprised to see House's eyes fixed on the girl. For a moment he was confused as to what had caught House's attention.
Following House's gaze he saw that the girl was holding a small white toy with two dangly legs and no arms. It had a big V on one side and two large eyes above. It made the V look like a dopey smile. Wilson had to admit that the thing looked rather strange. House seemed transfixed by it.
„Uhm, Sorry..." Wilson gestured at the thing in the girls hand. „May I ask where you got this?"
The girl looked down and chuckled. „That? Oh, I'm afraid that's not from anywhere. I mean, I made it myself. It was supposed to be a mascot for our football team, but they didn't like it." She held the thing up. „I can't blame them. Why are you asking?"
„Ah, it's just that he seems to like it... and we - well, we came here looking for something he could use as a... well, a security toy or something... and I thought maybe he'd like this thing..." Wilson trailed off, feeling rather stupid.
„That's so sweet! Here, why don't you give it to him and see if he likes it?" She held out the toy.
„Sure. I don't really need it anymore. The team shot me down an hour ago and sent me to find something - how did they put it - less ugly." She grinned at him.
Wilson took the toy and said with a grin of his own, „House loves ugly things."
The moment Wilson had closed his hand around the toy House's hand shot forward and grabbed it. Wilson let go and House immediately hugged the toy to his chest.
„Well, I guess that answers the question." the girl observed.
„Yeah, listen... could I buy this from you?"
„No way. I'm not gonna take any money from you. It didn't cost me anything. Keep it, it's a gift. And I hope your friend will get better soon!"
„Thanks! That's very nice of you. House, did you hear that? You can keep the thing. Would you like to thank the young lady?" House was busy examining his new toy. Wilson shrugged. „I guess that means no. Well, thank you very much."
„No problem. I gotta go now. Time to find a new mascot." She waved a goodbye and left, strolling down the aisle.
„Wow, I guess your in luck today, buddy." Wilson told House. House looked back at him, and Wilson thought he could almost detect a mischievous glint in House's eyes.
„What's that he's holding there?" Cuddy asked Wilson the next morning when they met on their way to Wilson's office and House's day-room. Wilson glanced at House who was cradling the White Thing (as Wilson called it) in his left arm.
„Oh, that. We got it yesterday at a toy store." Wilson told Cuddy about the 'security blanket' idea and the encounter in the shop. When he'd finished Cuddy leaned forward to get a better look at the thing. House shot her an almost angry glance and hugged his newest possession closer to his chest.
„This almost looks like those drug rep thingies they always give away. You know, toys that look like pills and stuff. And is that a V on it?"
„Yeah... I guess it's got something to do with the team's name."
Cuddy looked strangely at Wilson and when he asked „What?" in a somewhat irritated tone of voice, she raised an eyebrow and said slowly. „It looks like a giant Vicodin."
Wilson stared at her, then he stared at the White Thing. He had to admit that Cuddy was kind of right. It did have almost the exact same shape as House's old pills. Why hadn't he realized it before? House probably had. Maybe that was why he'd taken such a sudden liking to it.
Wilson suddenly had an inspiration. „Well, I guess it's got a name then. Dr. Cuddy, meet Mr. Vicodin. Mr. Vicodin, Dr. Cuddy."
Cuddy snorted. „Your just as crazy as he is!" she said when she stalked off.