Set amidst episode 4x16 'Wilson's Heart', after House awakens for the first time.
House was asleep again. His waking had been a blessing; the fact that he'd acknowledged hearing her and tried to speak was encouraging, and Cuddy had documented the attempt in his chart with a shaking hand. She'd checked his vitals, reassured by the steady beat of his heart monitor; free of arrhythmias despite the arrest he'd self induced. He was exhausted from the accident and the injuries he'd sustained, from the heart attack and the stress of treating Amber. And the procedure he'd undergone to recover his memories had been absolutely…necessary. They'd have blindly continued devising diagnoses for Amber until she'd slipped away. Out of every case House had ever handled, she knew he'd had to find the answer for Amber. For Wilson.
Cuddy sighed, taking House's hand in her own and squeezing it tightly. His fingers fluttered in her grip, and Cuddy forced herself to let go as House's eyelids twitched. Perhaps it would have been better if Amber had never awakened again. Better for whom, she wasn't sure. She carefully pressed House's hand down flat on the bed and tugged on the blanket, easing it up higher around him. Hiding a yawn behind one hand, she caressed House's stubbled cheek with her fingertips and rested her palm against his chest. Pushing herself away from the bed determinedly, she strode out of the ICU to the nursing station. House needed monitoring—and, more importantly—he needed a friend. She put in a request for a recliner to be delivered. There was no way she was going to get any rest on one of those uncomfortable plastic chairs. She turned to stare in at House for a moment, watching his chest rise and fall slowly. She rested her head against the glass door, and closed her eyes. There was one more person she needed to check on before she could sleep.
Despite the early hour, the hospital was beginning to stir. Staff members were coming and going, lights were coming on. She'd retraced her steps down to her own office to retrieve her prescription pad, and picked up a vial of Ambien before making her way upstairs once more. Cuddy stepped from the elevator out onto the fourth floor and let her feet guide her to House's office. She hesitated for a moment before pushing the door open and stepping into the gloom. House's suit jacket lay crumpled in his chair, and she slowly picked it up, held it for a moment. She let her fingertips linger on the fabric, remembering the way House had been sleeping when they'd barged into his office. Wilson had been shouting, and he'd ignored the way House woke with a start, groaning in agony. Cuddy had longed to reach out and steady House, who had shut his eyes tightly at the sudden light and sound after finally falling asleep for the first time in two days. He'd put a hand to his forehead for a moment, orienting himself before rising to his feet stiffly and stumbling to his desk. He'd dry swallowed a vicodin before asking them to use their inside voices, but his tone had been off. She set his jacket back in the chair reverently, and shook herself; gripped the bottle firmly in her hand and strode back out into the corridor. Past the empty diagnostics conference room, down the hall to the right to Wilson's office. His lights were off, but she could see him sitting at his desk in the dark, staring out into the rain.
"Wilson." Cuddy knocked on his office door and put her head inside. He half turned to face her, his dull brown eyes met hers reluctantly.
"How are you?"
"Fine." He said flatly.
"You need to get some sleep." Cuddy told him gently. "You should go home."
"I can't." he whispered, and Cuddy slid the door closed and moved around his desk to kneel in front of him. She put a hand on his knee, and squeezed. "I just can't."
"I know it's hard." She told him softly. "But you need to rest." She held out the bottle, pressed it into his hand. He looked up at her in confusion, opened his mouth to refuse, but she shook her head. He gripped the bottle for a moment, and then nodded. Cuddy rose to her feet again, opened her arms to him and hugged him close.
"How's House?" he asked quietly. He shrugged into his coat and dropped the bottle into the pocket.
"He was conscious briefly. He's sleeping again. He—" Cuddy's voice broke, and she paused. "He tried to say he was sorry. I told him he shouldn't try to talk."
Wilson nodded absently. "You should stop in and see him." Cuddy said, and Wilson gave her a look of dismay.
"I don't think I can." He said huskily. Now Cuddy looked troubled, and Wilson gestured helplessly. "If House hadn't called, Amber wouldn't have been on the bus."
"He was trying to reach you." Cuddy said steadily. "He didn't force Amber to get on the bus. It was an accident, Wilson."
Wilson shook his head, and Cuddy put her hands to her hips. "He didn't cause the bus to crash. He tried to save her, Wilson. He ran around for two days with a skull fracture, took enough physostigmine to choke a horse and gave himself a heart attack before shaking it off and driving with you to Princeton General. He agreed—volunteered—to undergo an extremely risky procedure that could have cost him his life to discover what was wrong with Amber. He should have died. He still might have suffered irreparable brain damage." Cuddy forced herself to pause and take a deep breath. Wilson looked lost, torn between his anger and grief, and his concern for House. He was technically right; if House hadn't called, Amber wouldn't have ever gotten on the bus that night. But House hadn't forced her to get on. He hadn't even forced her to come down to get him. Amber, in her own way, had cared for House. She cared for him because he was Wilson's friend.
"Amber cared enough to go down and pick House up that night, Wilson. She wouldn't want you to punish him for her death. Don't blame him, Wilson. Don't let your love for her turn into hate."
She left him then, turned on her heel and sped through the door, unable to look back at him. Either he would forgive House, or he wouldn't. She'd done all she could do. She made her way back to the ICU and slipped inside, relieved to find House was as she had left him. If he'd been awake in the interim, he gave no sign. Cuddy crept to his bedside once more, and lay her hand atop his; smiled as his blue eyes fluttered open once more.
"Hi." She said softly, squeezing his hand. He blinked at her steadily, and shifted a little, like he wanted to change position.
"No, you need to stay upright for now." She released his hand to grasp his shoulder. He raised his eyebrows slightly, and his lips parted. Cuddy sighed. "You suffered a complex partial seizure during the procedure. The seizure activity exacerbated and widened the skull fracture. We bolted you after your intracranial pressure jumped. You feel nauseous?"
His eyes widened, and Cuddy thought she saw him give a minute shake of his head before deciding lateral movement wasn't a good idea. His eyes blinked drowsily, and Cuddy smiled when they closed involuntarily. She touched his cheek then, and smiled when he nuzzled his cheek into her palm. He was awake. He was alive.
He'd be all right.