Title: What House Knows
Rating: PG
Genre: Friendship, a bit of angst
Summary: House knows he's put Wilson in a tough position--but he has his reasons.

This piece is the companion to last week's What Wilson Knows


House strides to the pharmacy, the scrip from Wilson in his hand. As he hands it over and waits for the pharmacist to fill it, he palms the last Vicodin from his current bottle and slips it discreetly into his mouth. Normally, he'd make certain that everyone in the vicinity knew that the cripple was down to his last pill--but Wilson's been getting better lately about being prompt with the refills. So, probably not a good idea to do anything that might send someone complaining to his... his what?

Drug dealer? Pusher? Supplier? Yeah, supplier works--Wilson supplies what House needs so that House can continue to function. And if what House needs will also eventually kill him? Well, the way House sees it, that's acceptable collateral damage.

Occasionally, it crosses House's mind that this may put his best friend in a less-than-comfortable position. But House knows something that allows him to justify what this might be doing to Wilson.

When the time comes, that inevitable, inescapable point after the words 'liver transplant' or 'renal failure' have been spoken, when House has refused (because he will refuse) any life-prolonging measures, House knows what he wants--and what he doesn't want. He doesn't want some cold, impersonal hand holding the gun, some stranger's finger on the trigger. He wants someone almost as intimate with the pain as he is. He wants Wilson.

Wilson understands something about the pain that no one else does, that no other doctor would even try to understand. Wilson's aware that Pain is a tangible entity in House's life, as real and solid as Wilson himself. Pain is like a despised relative, but a relative who House isn't fortunate enough to see only once a year at a holiday dinner, and then forget about for the next three hundred and sixty four days. Pain happens to live under the same roof, and must therefore be acknowledged daily. Pain's needs must be met, and Pain must be treated with something approaching respect. And Wilson's willing to do that, even when House is not.

Wilson does something else that House cannot allow himself to do; he's gentle with the pain. He's kind to it, and acknowledges and fills its unending needs. House won't do that; he can't recognize Pain's existence on any but the most superficial level. If he did, then he'd have to acquiesce to its strength, allow it to sweep him away from all that's important to him--Pain, House knows, is a jealous and possessive creature. So he counts on Wilson to feed Its demands from a safe distance.

When the day comes that the pain is stronger than Wilson's attempts to appease it, when those very attempts are costing House his life, Wilson should feel no guilt. Because yeah, Wilson's been wielding the weapon all along--but it's a double-edged sword. House knows this as well as he knows his own name. Wilson might occasionally wonder if his actions will eventually murder House. But House will make sure --before that last day comes--that Wilson knows that the man who vanquishes his pain is also the man who will, in the end, release him from it forever. And Wilson needs to know that, as far as House is concerned, providing that release doesn't make Wilson a murderer; it makes him a liberator. And that, thinks House, is the ultimate absolution.