Hey Y'all! Just a short little angsty-type drabble thing. (I know, I write a lot of angst, but I'm not honestly sure I know how to write anything else! My attempts at humor usually end up facedown. Maybe one of these days I'll try for something a little more light-hearted. Maybe.)
A rather amateur effort, I'm afraid. My first House fic and I was sort of stumbling around in the dark.
This was pretty much inspired by the two songs Happy Ending by Mika, and The Lonely 1 by RSL. (Yes, the RSL, AKA Wilson. He sings! He sings a couple of tracks on the Chelsea Walls soundtrack.)
A/N – Let's just pretend this is mid - S. 3, okay? Like, post-Merry Little Christmas. Because I don't know the new ducklings well enough to write about them, but Foreman, Chase and Cameron are nice and familiar. And because I felt the ending of the Tritter arc was a bit anti – climatic… Not that I would actually want it to end like this! It's just something my warped brain came up with and wouldn't let go of. Roll with it.
As always, let me know if the characterization needs work, or if it was too confusing, or anything like that. Just so you know, I really wasn't pleased with how it turned out, so feel free to tell me if this is how you feel about it too.
Disclaimer: Are you kidding me? I do not own these beautifully well-constructed, complex, deep characters. I'm flattered anyone might think so, but I had absolutely nothing to do with anything to do with House, MD. I can wish.
He doesn't remember much.
He remembers sitting at his desk, in his ridiculously comfortable office chair. It was supposed to mould to your body or something; good for the (also ridiculous) amount of time he spent in his office, reading patient files and doing paperwork and such.
He had his head tilted back as far as the tendons in his neck would allow and the blinds were closed, in an attempt to fend off the migraine he could already feel trying to beat out a rhythm behind his right temple. He remembers it had been a particularly crappy day, but he doesn't really remember why.
It all seemed so diminutive compared to what happened next.
He remembers glancing down at his watch, and thinking it was late. Well, not particularly late, but late enough to justify leaving. He gets up, grabs his briefcase and jacket, and wonders idly if he should offer House a ride home. He discards the idea almost immediately. House had been on his case lately about the hours he was pulling, and besides, it was more than likely that House would refuse his offer anyway. He was still dubbed "Judas", wasn't he?
His door is flung open, bouncing off the wall in absence of a doorstop and he doesn't even need to look up to know who was intruding upon him so rudely.
"You're still here? You see the absence of sun in the sky? That means you can go home. Actually, that means you should have gone home around 2 and a half hours ago."
"I actually have patients, unlike some people," He says, motioning his arms across his desk, which is currently dominated by mountains of patient files.
I swear, I will never understand the level of dedication you have for these bald little cancer kiddies-"
"I won't ever understand the level of apathy you have toward your dying patients!" Annoyance starts to color his voice now. "You don't understand me, I don't understand you. Way it always has been, always will be. Can we just leave it at that?" But he knows better. House never leaves it at anything, especially if you ask him to.
But, to his surprise, House actually does leave it for once. "I just came by to see if you needed a ride home. Didn't know you'd be so belligerent about it." A pause, long enough for Wilson to wonder what has gotten into his best friend. Normally, House would have been more likely to leave him at the hospital without a ride if he wasn't ready to go when House was. So why…
"You know what too many long days and not enough rest does to you. You get stressed, which triggers a migraine, which results in you coming into my office for a consult and puking all over my rug, which creates a stain to match my blood stain one," House flops unceremoniously onto the couch at this point, which indicates he no longer has any intention of a quick departure from the hospital. He has moved onto another task: bugging him, which was undoubtedly more fun. "And then I have to take you back to my place to take care of you, because I'm just such an awesome friend and not because Cuddy was after me to do clinic duty, at all. And then I contract some weird, contagious migraine-virus from you and we both end up taking the next day off to lounge on the couch and watch bad movies with pizza and beer. Would you really subject me to that again?" When he is still showing no inclination to move, House shakes his head and says in a mournful voice, "What kind of friend are you, Jimmy?"
"That was one time, House. And that stain came out, you know it did."
He eventually gives in and goes home with House, leaving his patient files scattered on his desk. Of course he gives in, he always gives in. It's House. Tritter hasn't corrupted their friendship too much at this point, and pizza and beer and bad movies were still an anchor for him. For both of them, even though House would never on his life admit it. That would be admitting he needed someone, and that just wasn't acceptable.
And so, adjacent to the Judas comparison House still liked to bring up (more than situations warranted, often), he would never be able to fool House into thinking he was feeling perfectly fine. He would get an earful of I Told You So s all the way home, in typical Housian fashion if he did accept the ride.
Not worth it.
As he passed the Diagnostics department, his mind started wandering, wondering if this stupid, screwed up friendship would manage to survive what Tritter had done to it Ah, that familiar road) and then the door marked Dr. Gregory House, MD. , and he cut off his train of thought at the root. He had been riding that particular train too often during the past weeks.
Still, he couldn't help but think how very ironic it was. They were both doctors, weren't they? And between them, they still couldn't figure out how to treat a broken friendship. Ironic.
He remembers how he stood back to let the man out of the elevator. He liked to think that courtesy was just his winning personality showing, and less the fact that the guy had to have been 6'7 and looked as if he could crush him under the sole of his shoe.
The nameless man's voice would stay with him until the day he died, of this he was certain. He would forever associate deep, gravelly voices with that man, that day.
"Are you James Wilson?" The voice holds no menace, but this is the point where warning bells start going off in his head. He was not Dr. Wilson to this man, he was James Wilson.
But still, he did not see a reason to lie. "Yes, what can I do for you?"
He can't remember whether he tried to struggle against the hands that had him pinned to the wall, faster than his mind could process. If he did, it was pointless. These hands could have been made of concrete for all the give he could feel pressing against his chest.
"Do you remember Shauna Turner?"
He cast his mind back frantically, and then it clicked. Shit. He had known this guy looked familiar! Shauna had died little over a week ago, a malignant tumor in the brain, inoperable. She had been a fighter, but in the end, the cancer beat out the antibiotics and her will to live. It always did. He tried to remember if Shauna had had a husband, or a boyfriend. But the concrete hands pressing down on his chest, fastening him securely to the glass wall behind him were starting to severely restrict his airflow, and his thinking was shrouded by panic.
He nodded in answer to the man's question, hoping he would be let off the wall.
No such luck. If anything, the hands pressed harder into his ribcage. Any harder, the doctor in him screamed, and his ribs were going to crack. And the position he was being held in, bone was likely to get lodged in his lungs or diaphragm or-
"You made her suffer. You held her hand while she died, telling her everything was going to be all right! It wasn't! Nothing turned out all right. She's dead, and you didn't do anything. All this fancy equipment, billions of dollars in funding, and still my sister is gone!"
A crowd had gathered around them, and there were a few muffled shouts, but no one dared come near. He couldn't really blame them, he supposed. If he were in their position, he wouldn't exactly be jumping for his chance to do battle with the Incredible Hulk, either. He just prayed that someone had the sense to call security, preferably before he got the life choked out of him.
There was still no menace in the voice. Maybe a touch of hysteria, but the voice remained eerily neutral. His eyes told a different story. They were the eyes of a killer.
"You killed her, so I am going to kill you. And I'm going to make sure you are in as much pain when you die as you inflicted on her."
As Head of Oncology, this happened sometimes. Cancer was one of the leading causes of death in Princeton-Plainsboro, and there were always going to be bereaved relatives, looking for someone to blame. On a normal day and with a normal person, he would have been able to talk his way out of this, no problem. He was, after all, the man who "people say Thank You to when he told them they were dying", according to House.
But today was no ordinary day. His head felt like a balloon filled with cottage cheese, he couldn't breathe, and he had been pinned to the wall before he had a chance to work his magic powers on Mr. Hulk. He could only make a pathetic-sounding grunt in the back of his throat and wonder where the hell security was.
Mr. Hulk drew back one of his arms for what was sure to be the first of many agonizing punches to his gut.
As the fist was pulled as far back as it could go for maximum impact, a white, long-fingered hand curled around the chiseled bicep and pulled back. More shocked than anything, Mr. Hulk turned his attention from his target for a second and glanced behind him at the owner of the delicate pianist hand.
House's voice drifted, almost lazily, to his ears. He looked up into the face of his best friend disbelievingly. He was going to be rescued by House?
"You don't really mean to kill him. You just want someone to blame for your sister's death. I get that. But, assaulting the person who tried to save her life is going about it the wrong way. If you need someone to be angry at, be angry at God. Cancer is His fault, not Dr. Wilson's. So, put him down and-"
He is cut off abruptly as Mr. Hulk interrupts, the first hint of real emotion creeping into his voice. "Exactly. He was the one person who could have saved my sister from Death, and he failed. How can I forgive that?"
"It was an inoperable tumor! He did the best he could. He diagnosed her, put her on the right antibiotics, and made her comfortable. If it helps, he probably cried when she died, and went home to hug his puppy or something equally comforting."
"He didn't care about Shauna. And he gave up. There was no chemo, no treatments, just six months of suffering!" The huge man was yelling now, and the one hand he still had on his chest was positively sandwiching him between the hand and the wall. Little black dots were dancing at the edge of his vision, making it hard to concentrate on the argument taking place between his would-be assassin and his best friend.
He barely remembers the first punch; so sudden House had no time to run interference. He listened to House's tone change from calm and cool to aggravated and urgent.
"Then let him explain why! He could tell you the reasoning behind everything he did if he could breathe!"
"No, he couldn't. I don't want to hear excuses about how he was just doing his job, I want to hear him scream as he suffers like Shauna did, as he dies like Shauna did."
And just when he had thought he had reached his daily maximum of crappy occurrences, life threw another one at him. Mr. Hulk reached to the waistband of his jeans and pulled out a .9 millimeter, and held the barrel to his temple. Execution-style.
He had closed his eyes as soon as he had felt the gun put to his head, and heard House's sharp intake of breath as he caught sight of the gun. His last close encounter with a gun had not exactly been a ... pleasant one. Also, he guessed it might be a little unnerving seeing a gun held to your best friend's head.
His already restricted airflow stopped altogether as he heard the piece being cocked. With his free hand, Mr. Hulk landed a few solid, agonizing punches to his face, and then moved down to his abdomen, all in quick succession. He was in agony by the end if it, between his lungs crying out for air and his body throbbing in time with his heartbeat. His nose was bleeding profusely and probably broken, and his left eye was already starting to swell shut.
The gun was pressed to his head again, and he couldn't help it. A small sobbing sound had forced its way from his mouth, and that earned him a hard jab from the butt of the gun.
"Are you sorry now? Sorry you let my sister die?"
He nodded. He would have said anything just go be able to get up and away from this psychopath. He had never wanted anything more in his life.
He was going to die, and he knew it. He closed his eyes, and tried to retreat into himself so he would be relatively at peace when it happened.
He heard the safety being unlatched and he took a deep breath. He could feel the barrel of the gun burrowing into his head, and wondered if he would die instantly, or cling to life for a few gruesome seconds?
He readied himself for the blast, and waited.
"Jesus, wait!" House, and an emotion in his voice that he, in his current state, couldn't identify. It was equal parts trepidation, anxiety, and disbelief. This last he could identify with; it couldn't have been more than ten minutes ago that he had been on his way to stepping into the elevator and going home (if his empty hotel room could honestly be called 'home'). Now he was being held at gunpoint, bruised and bleeding and waiting to die. Interesting turn of events.
His would-be assassin turned his head slightly to look at House at the corner of his eyes, but still keeping most of his attention on the man he had at gunpoint. He came this far, he wasn't going to let his prize get away now. He wouldn't have turned at all, but there was something in the other man's voice that captured his attention.
"You want to hurt him in the most drastic way possible." It wasn't a question. "But you can't torture him if he's dead. He let your sister die, does the few minutes of agony you can cause before killing him equal the pain he caused your entire family?"
He remembers the exact moment he realized what House was getting at, what he was willing to do. He cried out a choked warning to his best friend, pleading with his eyes to just walk away now. House either didn't get the hint, or he chose to ignore it. He would have bet on the latter.
"Dr. Wilson here is the kind of person who needs to save people, or he believes that he failed. He has a guilt complex, and he loses sleep over every single patient he fails." He pauses for effect and then continues, slower, quieter. "Can you imagine what knowing his best friend's death was on his hands would do to him? It would destroy him, much more effectively than any physical hurt you inflict on him could."
To his horror, Mr. Hulk seems to think about it, and then nods.
Looking at House full on now, his attention diverted from his initial victim for the moment, the assassin listens to the older man, his interest piqued. It indeed looked as if this would be a better course of action than his initial plan of beating up and then shooting the man. While his demeanor had remained relatively passive during the beating, now that his friend's life was threatened, he was fighting like a wild animal to get free.
"And you are his best friend?" A rather self-explanatory question, but it paid to make sure. His suspicions were confirmed as the older man nodded. "And you love him enough to die for him?"
A longer pause this time, followed by another nod.
James Wilson does not remember the bang of the shot, or the way it echoed down the now deserted hallway. He does not remember if House screamed, or how he slid to the ground.into a pool of his best friend's pooling blood.
And he most definitely does not remember his best friend's last words to him, choked out through the blood that was dribbling out of his mouth and down his chin.
But for something he doesn't remember, the words had an annoying habit of running themselves through the confusion of his mind, words his subconscious would take to his grave.
I'm sorry, Jimmy. Just couldn't let it end like that, not for you…
Lisa Cuddy walked down the empty halls of her hospital, feeling dejected and alone. She had been interviewing candidates to fill the vacant Head of Diagnostics position all day, but it was time she faced facts. House had been a misanthropic, arrogant ass. But he had been a brilliant misanthropic, arrogant ass. One of a kind. She simply could not hold out for someone of House's standing, she just needed someone to do the job.
And, thinking about it, did she really want another House in her life? He had been difficult to deal with in life, but in death, he was harder. She simply did not know if she could go through all that again.
She thought about Wilson. She knew he could not deal with anything like this again; this once had nearly destroyed him. He was walking around the hospital like a zombie, not thinking, not feeling. He was, in all actuality, just the shell of the man who had depended on his best friend far more than anybody knew.
Cuddy wondered, for the thousandth time, if House had known how drastically his actions would affect everyone that had known him.
She had not lost a friend to the man with the gun that day. She had lost two. In all respects, James Wilson had died along with his best friend.
An odd feeling of déjà vu washed over her as she passed the door of her former Head of Diagnostics' office. She stopped, and realized what she was hearing.
There was music floating through the open door of House's office, something that used to be a common occurrence, but this part of the wing had been quiet for almost three months. Confused, she peeked cautiously through the glass door, half expecting to see House strumming his guitar and singing softly.
When she saw the source of the gentle notes, her eyes filled with tears. She sat against the wall just outside House's office and listened.
James Wilson still sat in his friend's office, oblivious to the audience he now had. He strummed House's guitar gently with his eyes closed, and continued to sing.
2 o'clock in the morning, something's on my mind
Can't get no rest; keep walkin' around
If I pretend that nothin' ever went wrong, I can get to my sleep
Can think that we just carried on.
This is the way you left me,
I'm not pretending.
No hope, no love, no glory,
No Happy Ending.