Chapter Four: The Chair

A pair of haphazardly discarded Jimmy Choos sat at the base of the chair, their gleaming colored leather bright against the neutral tiled floor. Slung across the back of the chair was a black suit jacket, the normally clean and pressed material wrinkled and forgotten. Sitting atop the chair, contorted position clearly illustrating years of yoga experience, was the Dean of Medicine. Her eyes, all dull blue and dark circles, were fixated on the man in the bed before her.

Time had faded, no longer important. She had no idea how long she had been in the chair, though her cramping legs suggested it had been a while. A slow trickle of people had been in and out throughout this undetermined amount of time—House's surgeon, an array of nurses, both Cameron and Foreman (although Chase had, as far as her addled mind could make out, been uncharacteristically absent).

She had only recently (How recently? Fifteen minutes? Two hours?) sent Wilson for a coffee and the added joy of informing House's parents of his latest crisis. She felt no shame in passing off this task that she had so reluctantly performed after House's infarction. No one should have to hear Blythe House's voice break in fear and panic more than once. And now, especially since Stacy was nowhere to be found, she couldn't bear to leave him alone. She held fast to the irrational thought that if House wasn't in her field of vision, if she was distracted for a moment by something less important, that something terrible would happen to him. And this she would never be able to handle.

She sighed deeply, and readjusted her position on the chair. Absentmindedly, she pulled her thick hair away from her face into a ponytail, securing it with a loose rubber band she had discovered in the bedside table drawer. She scooted the chair closer his bed, and reached out a hand hesitantly.

Her shaking hand hovered over his bandaged neck, as if by pure will she could heal the wound herself. A block of ice seemed to settle at the pit of her stomach as she allowed herself, for only a moment, to remember the seriousness of the situation. Mere seconds later she had swallowed back the feeling and moved her hand a few inches to his jaw. Tentatively she stroked his skin, rough with stubble. As expected, he made no movement, gave not outward sign that he had felt her touch.

He looked peaceful…but empty. His piercing blue eyes were hidden from the world, his often playfully over-exaggerated facial expressions paralyzed. Unnaturally still, his cane was nowhere to be found. And he was quiet, so quiet…that, more than anything, is what disturbed her the most.

"Where are you?" She whispered softly, stroking his pale forehead with the back of her hand.

He would never allow such delicate gestures to be used upon him in consciousness. She had tried once, a long time ago, to express her affection towards him like this as he slept beside her one evening. He had, being an unusually light sleeper, woken immediately, narrowing his eyes and frowning slightly. Embarrassed, she had covered her obvious faux pas by kissing him intensely once more, pressing her naked body against his beneath her bed sheets. He never mentioned it, and she never attempted it again. Until now.

With one delicate finger she outlined his facial features, across his eyebrows and around his closed eyes, up and down the bridge of his nose, around the mouth with which she had once been so intimately familiar. He felt warm beneath her touch, which helped to offset the unnerving silence and unfamiliar ventilator snaking from his mouth.

"Can you feel this?" She asked, brushing the hair from his forehead gently.

A knock interrupted her silent conversation. She pulled her hand out of his personal space, and curled back into the chair. Wilson stepped inside, extending a Styrofoam cup of coffee towards her. His eyes were large and sad, his usually neat appearance rumpled. She accepted the coffee silently, searching his countenance for an idea of how the phone call had gone.

"Did you…" She prompted.

"Yeah." He said, pulling up a chair on the other side of House's bed. "I did."

She asked nothing more, remembering her reluctance to relive the conversation she had had with Blythe years ago. She watched as Wilson, unused to showing his affection for House in a physical way, tentatively slid his hand beneath House's limp one.

"They'll be here tomorrow." He said softly. "The earliest flight they can get."

She nodded once in understanding, and repositioned herself in the chair. It was going to be a long night.

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