(Sequel to Die Trying)
Summary: New relationship. Vacation. Car trip. Remote highway. Fate.
Rating: M. Adult. NC-17 Slash, language.
Disclaimer: I manipulate the sexy House and others to my hearts content. No fee's, no earnings,...just fun!
Yup, another car crash story. Someone suggested Wilson ought to suffer emotionally at the possibility of losing House and I thought - Yeah! So I decided to give it a go.
"I'll be gone for two weeks." Wilson explained to Lisa Cuddy, Dean of Medicine and his boss at Princeton Plainsborough Hospital. "Morrison is taking my patients until I get back. I'll be out of cell' phone range . . .it's, um, a wilderness trip." Wilson stammered which made him feel rather stupid since it wasn't Cuddys' business who he was going. "Uh, I'll call when I get there so you'll know where I am." Without giving Cuddy a chance to respond or even say goodbye, Wilson quickly said, "Bye for now." and hung up. He felt a hot blush rise to his ears.
There was no reason to feel nervous or ashamed or afraid. It was a wilderness trip. Driving through the wilderness to a cushy hotel by a lake is a normal thing to do.
A usual activity. Usual enough not to feel weird about it.
But it would be his first trip anywhere with House since things between them had changed. That wasn't usual and Wilson was nervous about spending such an extended time in Houses' presence. It wasn't normal or usual for them. Not for a long time.
Amber had died over a year ago and - Wilson remembered with shame - after he had stopped being a completely ungrateful ass to House, House, with more patience than Wilson ever thought him capable of, had gently prodded their new relationship in a different direction. To a place Wilson had not been certain he wanted to go at first. But once they had crossed the line from friends to lovers, it had started to feel . . .natural. Like this was what was supposed to happen. This was what should have been happening years ago.
House had said he loved Wilson and Wilson had finally got it in his head specifically how. House had sealed the meaning with a spontaneous kiss one night five months previous. It had taken Wilson by surprise. Right there on Houses' couch by the newly repaired Flying V guitar - a setting so House flavored Wilson had not run or even flinched. He had not disliked the kiss either.
What had stirred then, roared now. He loved House. A specific love.
Wilson felt the lump in his throat when he also remembered how close he had come to losing House forever. He remembered a lot of things he felt shame for. Now he hoped to build a lot of things to feel proud over. Loving House with all his heart topped the list. Making sure House knew he loved him held second spot.
As sure as Wilson was about his love for House, he was as uncertain about the trip. their short stint of sharing an apartment had been . . .interesting. But also had drove him nuts. House was not an easy man to live with.
But in a hotel, others would clean up. Others would cook. Others would fold towels and take orders for food and drink. All Wilson had to do was spend time with House, laughing and learning about each other. And making love. house was probably right. Living together - that huge step - was too big for right now. This was easier. This was the Ready! Set! before any movement. Poised on life. Starting again, Wilson decided, wasn't bad at all.
In contrast to Wilsons' worry and bitten fingernails, House was as calm as a beaver dammed river as he slipped into the car beside Wilson. Wilson did a U-turn, steering the vehicle west.
Cuddy's new assistant had finally caught up on her new bosses' filing and was nervously straightening her desk and pacing the small outer office. Lisa Cuddy was a nice woman but demanding too. She wanted things done fast and right. A Dean of a huge teaching hospital had no time for slowness or slackers.
So Miranda smoothed her skirt and entered her bosses' deserted office, intending to straighten out Cuddy's desk and ready things for the long day ahead.
Doctor Cuddys' phone was lit up. A tiny red flashing light indicated messages were waiting. Miranda thought she'd just jot them down and save her boss the trouble. Having extra time to enjoy her morning coffee would put Doctor Cuddy in a good mood.
Miranda reached out, and in her haste to be efficient, hit the incorrect two button sequence that immediately erased every message.
"Any problems?" Wilson asked.
House looked at him with question mark eyes. "Pruh-problems?"
Houses' stutter had improved over time due to his own ingeniously invented, self-taught method.
House sang aloud. Most of time he practiced at home but sometimes in his office too. He sang all sorts of music and used varying voice styles. "A su-sing-singing brain duh-duh-doesn't sta-sta-sta-stutter." House had explained to his staffs' collectively raised eyebrows.
If anyone had doubts, they were soon re-educated on what the method entailed. House wasn't just singing, he was singing with a goal to not sing while singing. "I'll stu-stu-start wu-with ra-ra-regular full tonal songs, a-a-and mu-mu-move to su-sim-simpler, less demanding tah-tah-tones. Ev-ev-event-eventu-tually it-it-it'll bu-be Ru-Rap - nu-no mu-mus-musical tu-tu-tones at all. Then Ru-rap wu-wu-without the ruh-ruh-rhythm."
Everyone was flabbergasted at the idea. Kutner told House he ought to publish an article expounding the idea. It might be adopted and used as a method for re-training the brain to speak-sing. "So the mind still thinks it's singing when it's not." Kutner had said, excited about the idea. "You could even call it that." He had suggested. "Speak-Singing for the Stuttering Brain."
House had called Kutners' suggested title "As luh-lame-ass as wu-Wilsons' pu-paying uh-uh-off a pu-patient cause he duh-didn't die."
It was several months before anyone saw an improvement, but it was there. House practiced daily and Wilson encouraged it whole-heartedly. Even Hadley, not a House fan by any means had commented: "Well, at least he has the pipes for it."
"Problems. You know, with the team." Wilson asked. "Any problems with the team?"
"Why wu-would there bu-be a puh-problem? I ta-told them I wu-was going ah-ah, I was g-going on vu-vay-vacation. It's none o-of their bu-business whu-where or w-with who."
"So . . . no one - not even Cameron - asked?"
"Sh-sure. A-and I said it wu-was none of her b-bu-bu, none o-of her business."
"What about Cuddy? I told her-"
"I knu-know what y-y-you t-told her. Yu-yu-you shook like a lu-lu-little girl wi-with a sta-sta-stolen lah-lollipop and lied thru-through your t-ten th-thou-thousand dollar cap-j-job."
"My teeth are not capped and I didn't lie. I just didn't tell her I was going with you."
Wilson fought the wheel for a few seconds when the car swerved over the line. "What??"
"Why ah-all this lah-lying? You ash-ash-ashamed to be slu-slu-sleeping wu-with me?"
"No. I just . . .think it might be wiser to break the news at the right time."
"It's bruh-broken. I lu-left Cuddy a muh-message. I ah-ah-included some suh-suh-sex noises so sh-she'd get the fuh-full picture. And wu-when is "the ruh-right t-time"? We've bu-been fu-fu-fucking like hyenas fu-for four mu-months. Ya-you wu-weren't even with Am-Amber-" House suddenly stopped, looking contrite over the slip-up. "Suh-sorry."
"Don't worry about it." Wilson still felt a tiny pang whenever he thought of Amber but he was too excited about being with House and the trip to let it darken his mood. "Like the new wheels?" He asked his passenger.
House gave the upholstered surroundings an abstract once-over with disinterested eyes. "It's nah-nice."
"Nice? Nice? It's a nineteen sixty-four Dodge 330 Super Stock Two-Door Sedan."
Wilson wasn't sure if that was a stutter or not. "It's got forty-seven thousand original miles. Leather upholstery, captain's chairs, CD surround sound, a hemispherical combustion chamber. The most powerful V-8 for its time - a 426-cubic-inch bruiser good for up to 425 publicly acceptable horsepower. Teenage boys come when they see it."
"An-an-and I s-said it's nice."
Wilson sighed heavily. "You are so hard to please."
"A-are you on cu-crack?"
"Sc-sc-scoobie snacks? D-did th-tha-that cute lit-little n-nurse from Emerg' suh-send you sp-special ba-brow-brownies?"
"You're insane House."
"S-so she did?"
"I bought this car for our trip. Just for this trip."
"You mu-mean yu-yu-you're ta-taking it back aft-t-t-ter?"
"No. I mean I wanted this, our first road trip ever, to be special."
"Du-du-don't bu-buy me ma-mattres-ttreses."
"You are insane."
"This tru-trip i-is alre-ready sp-sp-special. In fuh-fact, es-es-especially spuh-special. Nuh-know why? 'Cause it's wu-with me."
Suddenly Wilson wanted to kiss him! But they were entering an especially twisting and ascending section of wild wood road and the highway before him begged his full attention. Oregon in the spring was an almost perfect thing. Nothing better to be had but that he and House, though not yet living together as Wilson wanted, were within the honeymoon phase of their new relationship and that was perfect.
House wasn't ready to do "the buh-bed buddy thuh-thing", as he called it, yet.
House was all over with nerves or still buried under the Stacey leaving bit - or shy with worry that it would be ruining an already good thing. Or it was fear of hurt. Wilson guessed the last was most likely.
But he wanted to kiss him so badly.
No one could have foreseen the events about to transpire on such a remote, quiet highway baking under the sunshine, the rising mirage ahead telling pictures of a ghostly lake in wave after wave of heat.
Neither the driver of the six ton Cab-over rig hauling sixty-thousand pounds of pipe nor the happy doctor in the baseball hat driving the very special '64 Dodge Super Stock could have seen that in exactly one minute, eleven seconds their trails were about to intertwine and change their lives.
Tall Teddy, a long thin man of fifty-three and a long-haul veteran of every highway in the western States for the last thirty-one years, was tired. His eight hours without scheduled break had come and gone five hours ago. It wasn't recommended to drive that long without a good, long rest and a meal. Hell, it wasn't even legal, but every driver knew other drivers did it and every driving company all knew some of their drivers practiced it. "Pattern Logging" was an unspoken but sometimes useful trick of the trade.
So Tall Teddy sipped his insulated mug of coffee, no sugar, heavy on the cream and cranked the tunes up. With his left hand, he cracked the window for some fresh mountain air. Breathing deeply, he shook his foggy senses and glued his eyes on the rapidly advancing road. A few deep breaths, some coffee, Randy Travis and just two more hours before he would sleep.
Wilson heard Houses' compliment in typical House language. Wilson went over it in his mind. House says something terrific about himself. Or he sarcastically makes a remark about someone's elses' hair or clothes or insufferable sentimentality but doesn't directly and outright insult them. That was a House compliment. Wilson had come to store such sweet House nothings in his heart for future reference because he heard them so infrequently.
Like the time House had said, in reference to the green tie he was wearing that ex-wife Bonnie had bought him and he hadn't the heart to throw away, "I suppose if that ugly thing has to hang around here, it may as well hang there."
A House compliment. To anyone else: words from a simple jerk! To Wilson: Simple words from a jerk. What Wilson had heard was "It only looks good on you."
I love this man.
It wasn't long before the radio faded into white noise and the air rushing in his window became an irritant to the eye rather than a stimulant to his tired brain. The steering wheel, set free under sleeping hands, rotated counter-clockwise and seventy-five thousand pounds of steel and glass drifted into the oncoming lane under the early morning sun.
Wilson decided - yes it was time for spontaneity - leaned across the seat, cupped the back of Houses' head in his right hand and kissed him hard on the mouth.
He turned his eyes back to the calm , empty highway and smiled at what he knew would be Houses' look surprise and maybe even if he was lucky, shy smile.
Wilson was pleased.
Until he rounded a corner and came face to face with a huge moving obstacle bearing down on him at sixty miles an hour.
By cranking the wheel crazily ro the right, he just managed to avoid a head-on. Time slowed. He spun the steering wheel hard and turned his head to look at House for what he believed would be the last time on earth. House was still looking down shyly, his attention on something pleasant behind his eyes and not on the impending crash about to happen with the huge truck or his life about to flash before him and then stop. The end to everything he knew was upon him - a brief flash for both of them in a cold, careless world.
Thank God. That's all Wilson had time to think. Silently those two words arose in his mind.
In regards to House, Wilson thought Thank God.
Thank God House had not seen the truck and did not know he was about to die. He would not know it when death arrived to claim him in its merciless hands. He would be taken from life without losing the simple joy he felt in his heart at that moment.
Thank God, Wilson thought. The universe owes him that much.
But neither of the two men in the Doge Stock 350 died.
The driver's rear end slammed into the trucks' grill and was spun twice then flipped over until it landed back on its summer tread radials. It skidded off the road and down a sharp embankment, the first two hundred yards thick with deciduous brush covered in June berries, the last three hundred yards of the terrifically steep drop was thick with altitude stunted pine forest.
Wilsons' car, nearly split in two, careened by an outside will for a gap in the thicker, older trees at the bottom, bursting through them in a sickening crunch of groaning metal and snapping limbs. Wilson, thrown around as relativity would allow within the confines of his seatbelt - at least they'd both had the sense to wear them - no longer could control anything his prize car did.
He tasted blood from having bitten his tongue but managed a quick look over to House who flopped bonelessly around like a rag doll but still strapped in.
The Doge Stock Bruiser came to rest on its roof, the dull grey metal of its underside in fashion against the rocks of the creek bed not four feet from the crushed passenger door. The engine choked and died.
Licking bloody lips, Wilson thought in his banged up head - No engine, no fire. Probably a good thing.
Up above, in the space of time just seconds short of Wilson and Houses' plunge into the abyss, the sleeping driver of the pipe-laden rig continued down the road - the heavy bump he had felt against his heavy duty "Deer Killer" front grill jolting him awake from his pleasant but dangerous micro-nap. He straightened the wheel and cursed the pothole his tire must have hit, thanked his lucky stars he had not encountered any traffic while sleep-driving on the wrong side of the highway on the remote, infrequently traveled area.
The sun sparkled on the dew-dampened black-top. Tall Teddy cranked up the radio when Johnny Cash began to sing.
"I fell into a burning ring of fire . . . "
The first thing of which Wilson became aware was the stink of gasoline over and above that of the crisp background odor of fresh mountain air.
The ugly hiss of escaping radiator fluid and cracked engine block was ugly white noise over the gurgling notes of a nearby stream bed.
The next thing he heard was the real music to his ears - a soft groan from Houses' throat followed by a cough. To Wilsons' physician mind, that meant House was breathing regularly enough to take and expel a breath. A man cannot cough without breath and cannot take a breath with a blocked airway. So Houses' throat was functional - no crushed trachea and no liquid choke to alert him to a bleeding larynx.
"House?" Wilson croaked, mentally checking the state of his own limbs and sore parts before attempting to move. "Are you okay?"
"I duh-duh-don't knu-know."
"Well, don't move. Let me get to you." When Wilson stretched out his arm to feel for his friends' head, it encountered only empty air then car seat. House must be outside the car. Wilson craned his head around to see how far House had been thrown from the car, assuming that was what had happened. The passenger side door must have opened and then snapped off when his prize cars' several spectacular flips.
Wilson half crawled on his knees and half butt walked to the other side of his crushed vehicle. House was half way out of the car, his legs still inside trapping him beneath its collapsed roof. His complexion was ashen and by it Wilson suspected internal bleeding. "Don't move."
Fortunately Wilson found he could move rather well. He deduced he had suffered no serious injuries and apart from some sore muscles and a bleeding forehead, had escaped from the horrific accident relatively unscathed. He settled down on his backside beside Houses' head and upper body, the only parts visible from under the bent frame and shattered window glass. "Any glass in your eyes? Can you see all right?"
The Dodge was resting upside-down on a forty-five degree axis. The passenger side - Houses' side - was crushed and although the car appeared settled and stable enough, there was no moving it. The only way Wilson found he could keep himself stable enough was to keep seated. To stand was to fight for footing on the loose but sharp gravel littering the steep slope. Only the last two or three feet evened out slightly where the embankment ended at a cold mountain creek bed. The water was low for this time of year but even so it appeared four feet deep where the cars' rear end had come to rest dipped beneath it. Under the cold, cold creek lay the trunk of the vehicle and their luggage. Houses' head rested no more than five feet from the water.
"Where do you feel pain?"
"I duh-don't knu-knu-know. Ev-everywhere."
Wilson knew stress made Houses' stuttering worse. "Just lie still and let me check you out."
"It's okay Miranda. It was a mistake. Just don't let it happen again." Cuddy was openly polite but privately furious.
Miranda, Lisa Cuddy's temporary assistant, had apologized profusely upon mistakenly erasing all of her boss's business phone messages from the weekend. Doctor Cuddy, Dean of Medicine, had been expecting several important calls from contributors and other important people, no less Houses' message that was to let her know where he would be on his vacation, how long he would be there and how to reach him. Wilson had also let her know he was on vacation but had been a little vague on the details. At least she had got that message. "Driving west" was all Wilson had told her, unsure of his final destination.
"Dammit." Cuddy muttered under her breath after closing the door to her inner office.
Cuddys' regular guy, and organizational miracle in Gap clothing, was on his two weeks off with girlfriend number two and the Temp' Agency had sent over Miranda, an eager to please if inexperienced Girl Friday type. That Miranda was willing to go the extra mile any time Cuddy asked was to the credit of her otherwise clumsiness and compensated somewhat for Cuddys' lost messages.
But she was two Department heads short and reaching either one would now be unlikely if an emergency arose in their respective departments. Thankfully Oncology' former director was still on staff and could be reached and Doctor Foreman, Houses' second in command, was certainly experienced enough to run the department in Houses' absence.
Briefly it occurred to her whether Doctors Wilson and House were vacationing together but if so neither had mentioned it. Cuddy sipped her low fat Latte', feeling a certain sense of comfort that it appeared to her that Wilson had repaired the rift that had opened between himself and Doctor House after Ambers' death.
Both men had undergone tremendous strain of during and after that time. Cuddy hoped, whether on holidays together or apart, she hoped they were having a hell of a good time.
From the smooth ride of his Dodge Stock Bruiser, the surrounding country with the steep slopes blanketed in living green had appeared soft, cool and welcoming. He'd had visions of running up and down on green grass like a spring lamb, all legs and energy, and lying in a peaceful alpine meadow, listening to the birds and bees. Then the wild seemed to be welcoming them with open arms.
The close, harsh introduction of the steep, rocky, unforgiving embankment exposed the folly of his romantic notions of wild wonder. Wilson, down on his sore backside and knees cut from scrambling about on sharp gravel, slapped at mosquitoes and crawling insects, trying to keep them off himself and House. The wild, up close and personal, was no sweet mistress of adventure. She was a hard, high riding bitch who had not wrapped her loving arms around him but rather had cruelly laughed at his stupidity to believe she cared a lick about him or his hurt friend.
The wilderness had not be waiting for them but was merciless and indifferent, giving itself full permission to go about its business of raking his virgin knee-caps raw and baking his skin under a close noon-day sun.
Wilson made as close an examination of House as was possible. He was pinned immobile beneath the crumpled chassis of the Dodge. This vehicle was no modern plastic and fibre molded lightweight. It was an original. A masterpiece manufactured back in the days when cars were still made out of aluminum and steel, tough iron frame and heavy chrome highlights. It had almost all of its original parts and weighed twice what any comparable new model would and there was no budging it from off of Houses' trapped thighs.
Wilson could see the dents in his friends' flesh where the half ton of car body and engine bit down hard. There was some blood where the skin had broken, but thus far, no heavy bleeds had come to light. "Other than your legs, you seem un-injured." He informed House. He himself felt stiff all over. From the multiple impacts of his body against the restraint of the seatbelt, Wilson knew. "But there's no moving you."
Wilson looked through the gap in the spindly trees the Dodge had pulverized and up the steep, rocky and brush strewn slope. The degree of incline was dizzying. "That's a seventy-seventy-five degree slope." Wilson said softly. Scaling it would be difficult if not impossible. "And I'm no mountain-goat."
Wilson had a thought and pulled his cellular phone from his pocket. Turning it on he waited with baited breath was disappointed to be disappointed. The sharp LED display along with a feminine electronic voice read and said politely: "No coverage."
"I've got to get up to the highway."
Wilson leaned over House, looking at him the only way that was possible from his current uncomfortable situation - upside-down. "Yeah, buddy?"
"Tru-truck drivers' have t-t-t-two-way rah-radios."
House was right. The truck that hit them could not possibly have been as damaged as they had been. It was probably parked just up the highway where the driver had managed to pull it safely over. Wilson could imagine the guy in a checkered shirt out inspecting his rig right at that moment, his hand no doubt holding the radio in his hand and already communicating his troubles with his dispatcher. The outside world was a just one perilous climb away.
Wilsons brain, while busy with images of he and House on their way to a clean, safe hospital, coffee and donuts, also managed to keep a part of itself on the situation at hand including its surroundings. Wilsons' eye fell across a high water mark on the gravelly slope nearest them, a mark two feet above where the car, and Houses' head, lay.
Wilson looked up at the blue, cloudless sky. It was okay. "House?"
House did not respond. Wilson felt his face. A bit clammy. Shocky. Shit! "House? Still with me?" At his small nod, "I'm going to climb up to that truck. Be back as soon as I can." Wilson made way to stand but feeble fingers from Houses' right hand reached out and clutched at his pant leg before he could.
House spoke very softly, his exhaustion already etched into sunburnt features. "I huh-had her hu-hu-hand."
Wilson was anxious to begin. "Huh?" He asked, considering how he was going to manage such a climb by hands and feet alone. "What? Who's hand?"
"I had hu-her hand. Tru-tru-tried to huh-huh-help her. Stuh-stuh-stop the bleeding."
The sickness of hard memory swelled inside him as Wilson realized House was speaking of Amber and the day of the bus crash. The day she died. His went reluctantly back to a year previous and experienced all over the grief for her and his shame at his treatment of House at that time.
Here once more House lay surrounded by twisted metal in a fight for his life.
Here again, was himself all but helpless watching someone he loved hurt, possibly dying. Can't you come up with anything original? Wilson wanted to ask Fate or whoever was looking down in sadistic glee.
"Tru-tru-tried t-to stah-stah-stah-stay awake . . ."
Wilson knew the stress was making Houses' stutter (a physical left-over from the extreme trauma he had undergone) worse.
Wilson covered Houses' grasping fingers with his hand. "Never mind. You did good." At the time, I was just too much on an ass to notice. Wilson kissed his forehead. "Just lie still."
"I know." Houses' Vicodin was in his luggage which was in the cars trunk which was lying in three feet of icy mountain stream where the Dodges' rear end had come to rest. Inaccessible. "Just stay still and I'll be back before you can count to three or call me moron."
House felt Wilsons' pant leg pull away from his fingers, felt his comfortable shadow disappear and heard his shoes scraping and scrambling over hard, rocky soil. "Wuh-one," He whispered. "Tu-two, three - Muh-moron."
Part II ASAP!