EPILOGUE: Three weeks later

Same song, different verse, House thinks bitterly. He's just thrown Wilson out—again.

It all started in the usual way. Patient complained to Cuddy. Cuddy complained to Wilson. Wilson lectured House.

That was yesterday. Today, Wilson had made the obligatory "What's going on with you?" visit. At least today is Saturday, so House was spared the part of the lecture about doing his job. He hadn't been able to spare Wilson, though. This time, House had to dredge up the whole 'affair with a dying patient' incident before Wilson finally went through his stages, and left.

We've got the Five Stages of Grief—and the Three Stages of Masochism. Disbelief; he's good at that. Hurt; stayed longer than usual in that one today. Thought he'd never get to Anger.

But he had, and he's gone. Now it's just House. And the pain, of course.

Got through the evening. Made it through the night. And survived Wilson's house call. Guess I should overlook the fact that it's worse today than it was yesterday, and another evening's coming. Another night. At least there won't be another drop-in from Wilson.

Twenty minutes later, it's House and the pain. And Wilson.

"Get the hell out of here. And this time, leave the key."

But something's different. Wilson's shaking his head about the key, pushing it securely into his pocket. And he's staring at House. He isn't talking, or lecturing, or begging for an explanation. It's a weird stare, almost assessing—like a doctor. And it goes on for a full minute, and House has to look away.

Finally, Wilson walks away from the couch. He goes to the bookshelf, starts moving books, letting things fall. Then he turns around and looks at House again. "Where is it? C'mon, House, I know it's here."

House knows immediately what Wilson's talking about, and he won't answer. But Wilson's followed the involuntary flicker of his eyes. House hears the scrape of the low stepstool being pulled across the floor, and when Wilson returns to the couch, he's holding the gray metal box, and he's studying House's face as if he's never seen it before.

Not now, Wilson. Please.

But there's nothing he can do. Because the spasms had begun at work, and House had been lucky to get home, make it to the couch—no matter what Wilson thinks, retrieving the morphine hadn't even been an option. The one time he had managed to get up, at three in the morning, he'd made it to the bathroom, and then stupidly went to the kitchen for a drink. That had cost him almost two hours lying on the floor by the sink. At least it was a change of scenery.

When he'd made it back to the living room, he'd thought—briefly—about the morphine, then acknowledged harshly that his leg and the stepstool wouldn't mix. He'd tried to take comfort in the knowledge that the morphine was there, even if he couldn't reach it. And now, Wilson's going to walk out with the box. After the inevitable lecture, the disappointed look.

House attempts to meet his gaze with defiance, anger, hatred. But this time something's different; the colder House tries to appear, the more compassionate Wilson's gaze becomes—like a friend. House finally does the only thing left to him; he closes his eyes and waits—for what, he doesn't know. He's so worn out that he's only peripherally aware, a few seconds later, that Wilson's knelt by the couch and picked up his arm. House wearily opens his eyes, meets Wilson's.

It hurts.

I know.

But neither man has spoken.

Several minutes later, when the morphine's begun to work, and Wilson's still there, watching him, he closes his eyes again, because he needs to figure this out.

He can't though, not right now. But he's got the basics—seems he'd been wrong about the pain being the only thing he can count on. Because that agony, his dependable enemy, has been vanquished temporarily. Oh sure, it'll be back, but for now…. And Wilson—seems House was wrong there, too.

As House lets the drug and the exhaustion pull him under, there's only one thought in his mind: Two things I can count on—two.


A/N: Great news for all of us--the phenomenal Blackmare has written an addition to this epilogue, from Wilson's point of view. She's posting it right now. It's called Turnabout, and you'll find it either on the list (if the list has updated) or by going to her profile. And--while you're at her profile--I'd like to strongly suggest that you also read her one-shot, High. I believe it should be required reading for anyone intrigued by the House-Wilson dynamic; it's a fascinating look at the Speed!Wilson incident, from House's point of view. Read it; you won't be disappointed! mjf