Monkey's Paw Syndrom, Chapter Six
Ten minutes can seem like hours to a worried adult. For a child, it's a lifetime. Or, in House's case, a lifetime lost.
House watched quietly as…well, he was no longer sure of her name, but she was helping Wilson. That was the important thing.
When more adults came outside to take Wilson in, they seemed to forget he was there. That was fine with House. Wilson was the one who needed help, not him. He was perfectly capable of looking out for himself.
The blond man who talked funny eventually came over to where he was sitting.
"Are you okay?"
House nodded and tried not to look him in the eyes.
"Wilson is going to be alright." The man said quietly. "It looks like he just bumped his head. They're going to give him a look-over to be sure though."
"We should wait inside." The man took his hand and helped him to his feet.
House allowed himself to be taken inside the hospital, even though he knew he wasn't supposed to go with strangers. This man was a doctor though, and his parents had said it was okay to trust doctors and policemen if he was in trouble.
'You know from experience either of those can turn on you.' A voice deep down whispered. House frowned. He knew that he should understand what that voice was talking about, but he simply couldn't remember.
He was led to a somehow familiar room, with a long glass table and some interesting looking toys on a shelf. The man didn't say anything when he picked up a ball, so it was probably okay for him to touch.
A loud beep startled him and he dropped the ball. He must have been wrong.
The man who talked funny grabbed a device off his belt and said a very bad word. "I have to leave for a moment House. You need to stay here while I'm gone, okay?"
"Yeah." House said quietly and retrieved the ball.
The man hurried out the door, carrying a cane with him.
'That's yours.' The voice piped up again. 'And it's important.'
"Umm…okay." House said aloud. He looked around the room. After taking a moments deliberation he climbed into the large chair at the end of the table.
Wilson had been gone for a long time.
'That's a bad sign.' The voice added darkly. 'If he was perfectly fine they'd have brought him back up here by now.'
House bit his lip. He didn't like the strange speaker.
'You don't have to like me, you just have to listen and know that I'm right.' The voice replied.
"But that man said-"
'I know what he said. Do you think he's above lying to keep you calm?' The voice interrupted sharply. 'You can't be blindsided if something is really wrong with Wilson.'
"Go away." House whispered.
'That's a little hard since I'm inside your head.'
"Then be quiet." He clutched the ball tightly. What if something was really wrong with Wilson?
What if he didn't come back at all?
He'd gotten the other boy onto the jungle gym, so it was his fault that he'd fallen. When the grownups found out that it was his fault, he would be punished. House was very worried about his friend, but the possibility of getting punished wasn't something he could ignore.
Even if he did deserve it.
'Don't you dare start crying again.'
"Wasn't." He murmured and wiped his eyes.
'If you absolutely have to cry stop it before someone comes in.' The voice said coolly.
House nodded. If he was caught crying about the punishment he'd just get double. Crying because he wanted Wilson to come back wouldn't help either. He hunched in on himself, trying to find some sort of comfort.
When the door opened he flinched and curled into a ball. This was it. They'd sent someone to deal with him.
The speaker was a tall brown haired man. He was wearing a white coat like the other grown-ups, and carrying the cane. Another doctor? Would they have a doctor come to punish him? House studied his face for a moment, trying to gauge what he was feeling. The man's looked a little scared. His eyes-
"Wilson!" He jumped off the chair and into Wilson's arms. He was still crying, but not from fear.
Had House been a little bit older when the transformation had stopped, he probably would have been terrified by the sight of his best friend suddenly showing up as a grown-up. As he was, all he felt was joy. Wilson was okay. Bigger, but okay.
"Hey, it's alright." Wilson murmured, holding him close. "Everything's fine."
"You scared me." House said into his chest.
"You didn't come back." House looked up at him. "I'm sorry I got you hurt."
"What? House, that wasn't your fault." Wilson looked confused.
"Yes it was." House insisted softly. "It always is."
"No, House, it's not. You didn't do anything wrong." The confusion melted off Wilson's face. "Is that why you were scared? You were worried about me?"
"Uh-huh." House tilted his head slightly to one side. "You got really tall."
"Yes, I did." Wilson agreed. He carried House back to the chair and sat down. He pulled a small syringe out of his pocket.
"It's medicine. It's going to make you go to sleep for a little while." Wilson said.
"Do I have to have a shot?"
Wilson nodded sadly. "Yeah."
"Okay." House said quietly. He leaned his head on Wilson's shoulder. "You won't go away again?"
"I'm not going anywhere. I promise." Wilson said as he swabbed House's arm. "It's going to pinch a little."
House winced as Wilson gave him the shot. "I'm not in trouble?"
"Nope. This isn't punishment, it's something…that you need." Wilson choked slightly.
"Okay." House murmured.
Wilson watched for a few minutes until he was sure House was out. He picked up the cane and slowly tapped it against the boy's chest.
"I wish House would grow to the age he was this morning before he made any whishes." He repeated the same wording House's fellows had come up with for him.
The change was quick, House gaining perhaps a year every thirty seconds. It would take thirty minutes for the sedative to wear off, more than enough time for House to finish growing up. Wilson carried him into his own office and sat on the couch. He stripped off House's clothes quickly, covering him with a blanket. He'd grow completely out of them otherwise.
'He didn't recognize me.' Wilson thought sadly. 'He had no idea who I was until he looked me in the eyes.'
This had hurt, but it wasn't totally unexpected. Their minds and memories had barely been together when they'd been physically together. Wilson's adult mind had completely gone once they'd been separated, as had House's, apparently.
Before the other doctors had wished him back to normal, he'd cried for his Mother. Wilson had wanted to see House too, but he'd regressed so far that he hadn't remembered that his Mother wasn't with him. He'd done what any normal child would have done.
The journey back to adulthood hadn't been easy either.
The unforeseen catch in this wish had been pain, pure and simple. Every scrape, every broken bone, every black eye ever earned in a schoolyard fistfight (not many of these, thankfully), had flashed across his features. No one pain was really terrible, but the nearly simultaneous experience of all of them had been terrifying. His mind had at least come together quickly, memories and adult awareness keeping him from total panic.
He couldn't subject House to the same pain; Re-experiencing the infarction would be unbearable. House twitched slightly in his sleep as he grew, but it wasn't anything close to the horror Wilson had experienced.
Wilson studied him as he progressed into adulthood. He'd been gangly pretty much his whole life it seemed, as well as gaunt. Handsome, but thin. His hair darkened quickly before graying. He was almost back to normal.
When the infarction hit House twisted and gasped in his sleep. Wilson ran a soothing hand down his leg, feeling the muscle twist into scar tissue under his fingertips. House settled down a few moments later. His face became lined with the chronic pain they'd both come to know.
It was over. He was back to normal.
House was lying in Wilson's arms, head still nestled on his shoulder. He almost looked peaceful. Wilson eased himself off the couch and retrieved House's clothes, and his pills, from the other room. He'd need them when he woke up. His system, while clean when he was a child, had probably become re-addicted as he aged. Wilson doubted the rules governing the cane's power had released House from that.
'There isn't a way to get it to cure his pain with it.' Wilson thought sadly. 'Not without inflicting something as bad or worse.'
House gasping derailed this train of thought. Wilson was at his side in an instant, pills in one hand, water bottle in the other.
"It's okay, House. I'm right here."
"Vicodin." House choked out. "Or morphine if you have it."
"You don't need morphine." Wilson pressed a pill into his hand. House dry swallowed it, and grimaced. Wilson handed him the water bottle.
"Your head okay?" House asked after he sipped the water.
"Yeah, it was just a bump. It healed over when they…wished me back to normal." Wilson stumbled over the word.
"You spent the day as an innocent child and you still can't accept a magic cane? My God and I thought I was jaded." House blinked up at him slowly.
"I've got your clothes." Wilson retrieved them from the table.
"Aww, no nudity-induced sex?" House pouted.
"Good to see your back to your old self." Wilson said dryly, dropping the clothes beside him.
"What, you were hoping that I'd learn a lesson about love and friendship from this?" House asked as he got dressed.
"No." Wilson smiled thinly. "I was worried it wouldn't work properly and I'd have lost you."
This stopped House for a moment. "I'm fine."
"Yeah, I know." Wilson joined him on the couch. House pulled him closer, arm around his waist.
"It worked fine. You arn't going to lose me." House whispered quietly, lips brushing his ear.
"Promise?" There was a note of wryness in the question.
"Yeah." House cupped his face and kissed him softly. "I promise."
"What are you going to do with the cane?" Wilson asked after the kiss broke.
"Hadn't thought about it." House shrugged.
"You're not going to keep using it."
"Of course I am! It's still a functional cane."
"A cane that can screw with reality." Wilson groaned. "It's dangerous!"
"I just have to avoid saying 'I wish'." House shot back. "Plus it adds a whole new level of fear for my ducklings. If they annoy me I can zap 'em. They'd be a lot easier to manage in mini-form, I bet."
"I'm not letting you use that thing on a day to day basis." Wilson crossed his arms.
"I could promise-"
"You're no fun." House pouted. "Okay, I'll get a new cane, but I'm gonna put flames on it so my Ducklings can't tell. How's that?"
"Fine, but I'm keeping it locked up." Wilson replied.
"You don't trust me?"
"Not when it comes to your ability to mess with the fabric of being, no."
"Fine." House ran a hand down his face. "I'll just have to find some other way to amuse myself."
"That's fine with me."
'And as soon as I can, get a copy of whatever key you use to lock the cane away, I'm swapping it for another.' House smirked inwardly as he kissed Wilson again. No way was he just giving up having a magic cane.