Set mid-season 3, set sometime shortly after the Tritter arc ends. WARNING, part II: Harrowing theme and content; sensitive subject. This is NOT a happy fic.
2:07 AM, Saturday
Wilson was sitting against the wall between the bathroom door and the nightstand, the telephone receiver in his lap. He rolled his head weakly, his eyes rolling in disconcerting counterpoint as he tried to focus on House's voice.
"Wilson!" House barked again as he knelt across Wilson's knees, heedless, for once, of the burning in his own leg. He pulled Wilson's eyelids farther open, checked Wilson's pulse with trembling fingers, muttering, "Jesus fuck, Wilson. Fucking fuck."
House sat back a little, saw the empty syringe capped and placed neatly next to the telephone on the nightstand. He grabbed it and waved it in front of Wilson's face. "What did you take?" he shouted. He slapped Wilson lightly on the cheek with his other hand. "Wilson! Tell me what was in this!"
Wilson smiled, a lopsided, lazy half-smile. "Hshhh," he slurred, barely able to get his mouth open.
"What did you take?" House said again, loudly. Wilson's responsiveness was a good sign. It had to be.
That lazy half-smile melted as Wilson's face muscles slackened and relaxed. "Feel good, Hush. Nuth'n hurts."
5:23 AM, Saturday
House blinked, and when he opened his eyes, a cup of coffee was floating in midair. He looked up to see Cuddy, holding out the coffee, an oddly soft expression on her face. "He's going to survive," she said quietly. "Thanks to you."
House took the coffee and nodded. Cuddy took that as an invitation to sit down next to him.
He looked up and down the hall, the polished glass of the patient rooms reflecting the polished tiles of the floor. It felt alien, unfamiliar. It shouldn't have; the third floor was usually a favorite hangout. "He doesn't belong here," he muttered.
"He does," she sighed in reply. "It's standard procedure for anyone who's attempted—"
"He didn't," House cut her off sharply and fixed her with a glare before looking back at his shoes. "He wouldn't."
Cuddy's fingers curled around his wrist and grasped lightly. "He did, House. You said yourself he knew what he was doing. The only reason he's alive is because you're the one who found him."
"Yeah," House whispered. He swallowed around a large dry lump in his throat and held the warm coffee cup. He watched the reflections on the floor long after Cuddy left him.
1:49 AM, Saturday
The night air felt fantastic, snaking around his gloves and up his sleeves, down the back of his neck and through the vents in his jacket. House leaned into the turns, reveling in the still darkness of his favorite country road. His brain hadn't fully engaged when he rumbled back into the city, and he was startled out of his reverie by the sight of Wilson's car in a hotel parking lot. He turned in and pulled up next to the Volvo.
Why had he come this way? He'd known Wilson was living in a hotel, known exactly where and exactly how long. He'd been keeping close track after the patient debacle, after Wilson had proved just how far his stupidity could be stretched.
But this was the first time he'd actually come to the hotel. Well, he thought as he pulled the pilfered key card out of his pocket, might as well see what he's up to.
4:38 PM, Saturday
House bothered to quietly slide the door shut behind him. Wilson didn't bother to change the volume on the TV.
House settled himself in a chair near the bed and watched Wilson watch a bad cooking show for a long moment. Finally, he said, "Hey."
"Hey," Wilson replied. He continued not looking at House.
House chewed on his lower lip. "You feel okay?"
Wilson snorted softly. "Like an elephant sat on my chest. Thanks for asking."
"We had to sho—"
"I know," Wilson said quietly, but loud enough to interrupt. They sat for another minute; House had no idea what else to say. Actually, he had a lot to say, a lot to ask, but he didn't know where to begin.
Wilson beat him to the questions. "Why did you come?" He swung his head toward House, finally, and met House's eyes with his own.
"Why did you come, last night, to my room? What made you decide to visit me right then?" Wilson's eyes were flat, dark little voids in an expressionless face. Even his voice was flat, without anger or curiosity or spark. For a brief moment House wondered where Wilson had really gone, and how he had managed to leave this cardboard cutout in his place.
He shrugged. "I was out on my bike. Seemed like a good idea."
"Hmm," Wilson huffed and turned back to the television. House was obviously dismissed.
Except he'd never liked being dismissed. He pulled himself out of his chair and glowered down at Wilson. "What, no 'yes, it was a good idea, how fortunate you found me right then'? Or maybe a 'thanks for saving my life'?" The last word reverberated in the room; House wasn't aware of how loud he'd gotten.
Wilson's expression didn't change; his attention didn't shift to House. "No, House," he whispered. "I'm done. I'm tired." He turned off the TV and rolled to his side, away from House.
House didn't bother to be quiet as he left.
2:02 AM, Saturday
There was no noise in response to House's single, loud knock. House didn't bother to wait for one, either; he slipped the key card in the lock and slowly pushed open the door.
The room was larger than he'd expected and more depressing than he could have imagined. It was neat as a pin, a lost room that reset itself, where people could exist in between the activities of living. A small lamp was on in the corner, and House could see two of Wilson's bags, but no Wilson.
Wait—obscured by the bed, only a shock of Wilson hair visible. "Wilson?" House asked the too-quiet room.
The hair didn't move. House did.
11:15 AM, Sunday
"What the hell were you thinking?" House shouted as he slammed the door shut behind him. "Why now?"
Wilson was sitting cross-legged in bed, leafing through a magazine. He glanced up, watching House pace back and forth.
House didn't wait for Wilson's answer. "I don't get it. I mean, I get wanting to end it all, not caring about living and all that shit, but I don't get why you would want to do it. You were fine, you were happy enough, you weren't even stress-eating anymore. We were fine—"
"We were not fine," Wilson said quietly.
"We were getting there."
"We acted it, here at the hospital. When was the last time you called me, paged me just for the hell of it?"
House winced. "How long have you been on antidepressants?" He stopped pacing at the end of the bed and stared at Wilson.
Wilson shrugged. "You already know; it's in my chart."
"Nice touch, adding those on top of the morphine," House said. "Regular ER would have missed it; you'd've been gone before they figured it out."
"That was the idea," Wilson sighed.
"Why?" House wanted nothing more than to shake Wilson until he confessed. "Fuck, Wilson, to find you like that—"
"Oh, no," Wilson snarled. "You don't get to play the 'poor me, finding you half-dead' card. You don't get to tell me what it did to you, to tell me to think about how you feel. Because you obviously didn't care when you did it to me."
"You left me there!" House shouted.
"You should've done the same!" Wilson shouted back. "You weren't even supposed to be there!"
"You're goddamned lucky I was!"
Wilson started to shout back, but stopped, his mouth hanging open. Then he laughed, softly at first, quickly building to a whooping, hysterical braying. House blinked, and leaned harder on his cane, wondering if he needed some Ativan.
Wilson gasped between guffaws that sounded like great panting sobs, "Oh, yes...House...I'm so...lucky...to...have you."
10:22 AM, Saturday
"Could be an adenoma," Foreman announced. "Completely harmless."
"Doesn't explain why the patient looks like Big Bird," House replied from his chair in the corner of the office. "Cholangiocarcinoma."
All three fellows turned in unison to stare at him. "Not bloody likely," Chase blurted.
Cameron started, "Do you know how rare—"
"Yes!" House shouted. "I know exactly how rare! If you were paying any attention while you were taking the history, you wouldn't have even bothered me with this case!" He was in no mood to wait for the three of them to finish clucking amongst themselves and figure out the diagnosis. He rubbed irritably at his forehead. "Patient broke his foot."
"In 1972!" Foreman scoffed.
House huffed. "In a backwoods little town where they still used Thorotrast for X-rays."
Chase closed his mouth and Foreman looked nonplussed. "I'll call Wilson," Cameron said.
"Better call Adams," Chase told her as they turned to file out. "I heard Wilson's away from the hospital for a while."
"What, is he at a conference or something?" Cameron turned back into the office. "House?"
Chase and Foreman had disappeared down the hall by the time House answered her. "He's taking some sick leave."
She frowned. "Is he okay? Do you know what's—"
"I have no fucking idea," House snapped and rubbed at his eyes. "He's on the third floor."
"Oh, my God," Cameron breathed, suddenly all soft and concerned around the edges. She sat down in front of House's desk. "What happened? How is he? Did he try to—"
"It's none of your goddamned business," House growled. "Why would you even care?"
Cameron looked pale, stricken. "I was...I never saw it. I was vicious to him, after he—"
"Oh, come off your pretty pink high horse," House spat and pushed himself out of his chair. He towered over her and spoke quietly, as dangerous as he knew how to sound. "You have no right to claim any responsibility for Wilson. You also have no right to go visit him or talk about him to anybody, do I make myself clear? I hear you're snooping and I'll have more than your job. Get out."
House watched her scurry out so fast the tails of her lab coat snapped behind her. It should have made him feel better, but this time, laying the smackdown on Cameron didn't help.
3:00 PM, Monday
"House, go home," Wilson said wearily. He stood looking out the window, his hands on his hips, a pose that looked ridiculous with his labcoat and tie but was doubly so now that he was wearing a patient gown and ratty slippers.
"I'm not leaving," House grumbled from his chair.
Wilson turned around. "You haven't left the hospital in three days."
"Neither have you."
"I'm a patient. You're a...menace."
"To you?" House asked quietly.
Wilson crossed the room and sat on his bed with a sigh. "No, House, not to me. But you look like shit, you smell like shit, and you're no doubt treating your fellows like shit. As flattering as it is that you're stalking my psych team, you need to go home."
"I'm not leaving," House grumbled again.
"You think by staying you can prevent me from trying to kill myself again?" Wilson asked, and House flinched. Something about the patient wristband or the meds he was taking or the third floor itself made Wilson more blunt than he'd been in all the years House had known him.
"You know that you can't stop me," Wilson continued, ignoring the look on House's face. "You shouldn't have been able to stop me the first time, but you did. I'm not sure I'm ready to forgive you for that."
House looked up, startled, and met Wilson's eyes.
Before he could speak, Wilson kept talking. "I'm fucked up, House, for a lot of reasons."
"I know," House whispered.
"But I'm not going to try again." Wilson smiled then, a little lopsided smile that looked too much like the one he'd given House on Saturday morning. "I'm going away for a few weeks, an inpatient facility. You know, take a break, straighten things out, maybe see if I can be less fucked up."
House swallowed, hard. "When?"
"I leave in an hour," he answered and picked at the hospital blanket.
Wilson shook his head. "Cuddy will tell you, when it's time. If you want to come visit."
House nodded and hauled himself out of his chair. "So," he said as he reached the door, "I guess I'll be seeing you?"
"House," Wilson called as he pulled the door open. House paused but didn't turn back. "Doctor Pelham told me he's free tomorrow, if you want to talk. It...might not be a bad idea."
House glanced back at Wilson, who looked fragile and sallow in his green patient gown. He couldn't bring himself to hurl the usual insults about head-shrinkers at his friend, not today.
Instead he nodded and muttered, "Thanks," before hobbling out the door.
2:14 AM, Saturday
"Fuck, Wilson," House growled again. He watched Wilson grow gray and clammy; he held his fingers to Wilson's throat and measured the heartbeats growing slower, in time with Wilson's shallow breaths. He glanced around the room and muttered, "Fuckin' ambulance." But he couldn't take his fingers away from Wilson to dial 911 again. "C'mon, c'mon."
His gaze traced over the brown comforter, the bland green walls, the tan steel door, the ugly chair. Hell of a last thing to see, he thought, then quickly pushed the thought away. An odd glint of metal under the bed caught his attention. A familiar little green metal box.
6:37 PM, Monday
House leaned heavily on his cane as he limped into the apartment. He didn't bother putting his helmet and jacket in the closet; he just dropped them on Wilson's half of the couch. Not like Wilson would be using it for a while, yet.
He headed wearily into the kitchen, looked at his cupboards and the refrigerator, and decided he wasn't hungry enough for the trouble. He was on his way out of the kitchen when the blinking answering machine caught his eye. Three messages. Three messages he normally wouldn't bother playing, but he'd hit the button before he caught himself.
Wilson's voice echoed in the kitchen.
"House, it's me. I'm hoping you'll pick up? . . . . . . You're right. It's too much to ask you to talk, on top of everything else I've done to you, isn't it?" The machine beeped the end of the message.
"House, if you won't pick up, you can listen. It'll be good for me to say, at least." Wilson's voice was softer than the first message. "You said you didn't want to push this 'til it breaks. Well, guess what?" Wilson chuckled ruefully into the phone. "You did it, House. To be fair, I guess I've done my share of pushing, too. But Cuddy was right. That judge was right. You make everyone around you worse. I didn't believe it—look what you do for your patients. But they're the only ones. I never left, until Christm—" The machine beeped again.
"And now . . . " Wilson sighed. "I know I'm expendable to the hospital. I doubt my family would miss me. And you, House. You called me a vampire once, but I think you were wrong. You're my vampire. And I'm sucked dry." A muffled thump, as the receiver landed in Wilson's lap. A long silence, punctuated by Wilson's slow breathing, until the machine beeped and cut off the message.