A/N: Dark angsty one-shot. This takes place the first time House and Wilson hang out again after the Christmas Eve fiasco. Wilson, being his usual caring and paternal self, can't help but take a tone with House for his almost-suicide that night. Then this happens:
"Oh, get over it." House is rolling his eyes like it's the most obvious thing he's ever had to say. "I wasn't trying to kill myself."
"Really? That's funny… I seem to remember you stealing and consuming an entire bottle of Oxycodone… washing it down with liquor, no less. Well, I guess as an innocent civilian you had no idea how dangerous that was. Now, if you'd been a doctor, with certain knowledge that that dosage was lethal, then that would be different."
"It wasn't suicide. It's a…" House stops short, waves it away, as if he knows there's no point trying to explain.
"House?" Wilson presses more gently. He can sense there's something here he should know, something that's important to House, maybe something that will let him understand his friend a little better. "It's a what? Talk to me."
"A test." House explains finally, resigned to spilling it all because there's no way Wilson will let him alone until he does. "It's a test. Most people don't die every day simply because it's easier to stay alive… because dying would take some work. And so, the fact that they are still alive is meaningless. With me so far?"
Wilson can't help but mock. "Life is meaningless. Of course."
"Being alive would be meaningful if you had to work for it. So the way the test works is:" House takes a deep breath and looks down at his drink. "You gobble down enough pills and booze to kill yourself. You lie down and wait." He doesn't need to look at Wilson now; he can imagine the look of horror just fine on his own. "There's a point… you probably don't know this, but there's this point where you can actually feel yourself powering down. Your body's giving up. And it's really quiet, and you can think. If you decide, damn, I still want it after all, if you really want to live, badly enough, you'll fight for it, and you'll turn on your side and and puke or call 911 or whatever else to save yourself. And then the next day, no matter how bad your life sucks, you think, I chose this. I wanted this. There's something good and worthwhile about it. That's the way the test works. That's what I was doing Christmas Eve."
"You were… not sure… if you wanted to live?" Wilson can hardly get the words out.
"I hurt. I was about to lose my job, and my friends, and probably go to jail," he explains. "All of which sucked. So yeah, I considered opting out. But then I thought: there's always some place, if not here then in some third-world country someplace, that needs a diagnostician and doesn't give a damn if he can't walk and has a criminal record and can't even speak their language. I'm right so often that someone, somewhere will always listen to me. No matter what else." Despite the fact that this epiphany occured while he snoozing in his own vomit, overdosing on pills stolen from a dead guy, he sounds proud. Fierce. "During that case I was detoxing. I couldn't walk from the bed to the bathroom… had to cut myself to stay focused… but I could still do it. I realized I can do my job without my meds, without Princeton, without anyone… No matter what happens, I will have that, and that was enough to live for." He chuckles, tosses his head. "It was a close one, though. By the time I made up my mind, I couldn't even make it to the bathroom – hurled right here on the rug."
"Yeah, I know. I was there," Wilson reminds him, a little sharply. That's when things fall apart.
House freezes, looks up. "You weren't-" He doesn't finish.
"Actually, I was." Wilson sighs, uncomfortable and almost apologetic. "You were so out of it you probably don't remember, but I stopped by that night to check on you… House?" He's concerned now; House is staring at him with his mouth wide open. "Are you okay?"
House's lips move as if he's trying to make words, but all he can do is shake his head, hard. "No," he chokes out. "No."
"Y…es," Wilson drawls, confused. "The door was unlocked, so I came in and- House?"
He's scrambling to his feet, not even bothering with the cane, lunging for the door. He opens it. "No," he says again. "That wasn't real-" the rest is lost to a gasp and a sob; he's having a panic attack, lurching blindly down the hallway leaning on the wall for support. Wilson chases him, of course, but House shoves him and keeps going, fleeing as fast as he can. Which is not very fast, even after he bites a huge bloody crescent into his forearm to keep the leg pain from shutting him down.
Wilson catches up with him on the sidewalk, tries to ask what's going on, but House hits him and gasps out something with the words fuck and away. Wilson stands there stupidly, holding his face and watching as House drags himself back inside unaided.
After a moment he goes back to the door but of course House has locked it. He stays very quiet – he can hear panting and moving around. Maybe if he listens he can get some clues as to what the fuck just happened.
He hears the thump of the cane falling to the floor and then the creak of the floorboards as House lowers himself down to the carpet. He hears: "Mommy? It's Greg."
He sits down in the hallway, back to the door, listening.
"Hi. You too. No, I am not crying. Okay... maybe I was. Listen... everything's okay, I'm just calling because I... had a bad day." Deep shuddering breath. "I was home alone and I was, heh, really sick. I was throwing up and passing out… should have gone to the hospital, I know. Anyway, I was hallucinating. I-…" His breathing won't settle and he takes a break from talking. Presumably, his mother is making guesses. "No… mm-nn… yeah. Yes, it was Dad. I saw him come in, Greg you're no good, worthless as a son, the usual. He told me he would just… watch me go, and not even care. I was telling myself it was a dream... but then... I saw something else. Another nightmare, I thought, until today when I found out that it... actually happened. I can't-…"
House blows his nose, holds his breath, exhales slowly. "Okay. I'm okay. I dreamed that my best friend came over. Jimmy, yeah. I dreamed he... came in, and for a second I figured he was going to help me, but instead he…" House is gasping for breath, finally gets enough to continue. "He rolled me onto my back and left me to die," he says clearly and quietly. "And I could hear Dad going, see? Even Wilson's had enough of you. It made me so sick I threw up again and I was choking and I was too tired to cough it up… Mom, I almost didn't…"
Wilson realizes he is nearly crying now, can't breathe, but it doesn't matter. House can't hear him, he's busy listening to whatever meaningless assurances his mother can produce for him. And they will be meaningless, because the fact is House's (imaginary) father was right: in his hour of need, House's best and only friend had judged him unworthy and had walked out. The fact that he hadn't actually meant to kill anybody hardly mattered. Two seconds of thought would have told him what a coldhearted and dangerous thing it was, leaving, but he hadn't been thinking of House's welfare at all. As soon as he'd satisfied himself that House was still breathing – satisfied himself, calmed his own fears, not a thought for House beyond disgust at the state he'd put himself in… he'd left. Just gone home, and (taken a pill and) gone to sleep.
While House had been left alone, in danger, so shocked and shaken by his best friend's uncaring that he'd convinced himself it must have been a hallucination. He had, Wilson realized with a sickening twist in his stomach, given his friend the benefit of the doubt. Despite having never, ever received it in return.
"I know, Mommy, I know," he was saying, reduced to tears all over again by whatever his poor mother was telling him.
Wilson couldn't listen any more. All he was doing was torturing himself and spying on House after he'd been explicitly ordered to get the fuck out. So he stood up, wiped his eyes, and headed home.
From nowhere came the thought of his medicine cabinet. There probably wasn't enough in there to perform one of House's tests, and that was a damn good thing tonight. Wilson wasn't entirely sure he would pass.
Yeeeeesh. Dark, sorry. Please let me know what you think! Poor Wilson. I promise I'll write some happier H/W piece soon.