Two Edged Sword
Author's Note: I haven't ever had the inclination to write fanfic for "House" before, but I just saw the season finale and that one did the trick.
Between House's statements on the bus, Wilson not going into House's hospital room and next season's previews there's some indication that
Wilson blames House for what happened to Amber... But I just can't believe it. House has honestly been to blame for a lot of crap Wilson's put up with, and even in cases were House wasn't initially to blame his reactions have turned relatively small issues into huge problems. Wilson's forgiven House for all the times he's really screwed up. I just can't believe that Wilson would throw away their friendship this time when House's behavior never really strayed too far from acceptable. House got drunk, called for a ride home then acted a bit childish when the wrong person tried to help him. He didn't do anything that caused the situation to turn into a life-threatening one. So why is Wilson leaving PPTH?
I solved the puzzle, but the patient died. Normally I'm okay with that.
More than one person has accused me of playing God. I know better, God doesn't exist, or if he does he's a sadistic bastard on a scale even I can't contemplate. I don't work miracles.
I do everything possible to save my patients. I don't give a damn about social conventions, except for the entertainment I get out of watching people react when I ignore them. I really, truly don't give a damn about what's 'appropriate' when being 'appropriate' is, more often than not, what's killing my patient. Either because they're lying to me or because everyone's too nice to come out and say what's killing them. To get around the stupidity of appropriate I break or at least severely bend laws on a regular basis. My team and I wouldn't have to make a second career out of breaking and entering if morons would simply tell the truth. I ignore procedural rules because if you're coming to me the standard procedures aren't working, so why the hell should I do things that aren't going to work, it's a waste of time and wasting time kills people. I don't let other people's moronic notions of what's right get in the way of saving patients.
But sometimes it doesn't matter, sometimes no matter what I do I still fail. And the patient dies. And I deal with that. I figure out what I missed, what I did wrong. Next time I'll know that much more. I don't waste my time or energy bemoaning the ones I fail to save. Wasting times kills people.
But this one was different. This wasn't just a patient. This was my ex- job contestant, Cutthroat Bitch. This was Amber, the woman Wilson was in love with. This one was the only one who was on that bus, in the crash, because of me. The rest of us were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Except maybe the drivers, they had some control, the rest of us were just along for the ride. Except for her, she was there because I was there.
If I hadn't gotten drunk. If I hadn't called Wilson, because I know he just can't resist someone needing him. If I hadn't acted like a brat when she came in Wilson's place... I didn't want her help! I didn't want a goddamn ride home. If I'd wanted a ride home I would have called a cab. All I wanted was for Wilson to remember that he's my friend, my only friend. If not for me she wouldn't have been on that bus.
If I'd stayed conscious longer. If I'd told the EMT's about the damn pills. If I'd remembered sooner. She could have been saved. Stupid way to think, I couldn't do anything of those things. I should have thought of the direct brain stimulation right from the start.
Wilson's never asked for much out of our friendship. Most of what he does ask is out of some notion that it's for my benefit, he's generally right even if he sometimes can't understand. That's just how Wilson is. He doesn't do the needing in a relationship, he lives to fulfill other people's needs.
But Wilson asked me to save her. He told me exactly how much she meant to him. He as good as said that the slightest chance of saving her life was worth a better than average possibility of ending mine.
I solved the puzzle, but I lost the patient anyway. I failed to save Wilson's Amber.
He's never going to forgive me.
It's been almost two months and the grief hasn't gone away but it isn't so all consuming now. I almost wish it were. Now there's room for other emotions to slip in, other thoughts. There's room for things that aren't her now, but it's nothing I want to feel.
In my line of work I deal with people going through the grieving process every single day. I know it's nothing so neat as the 'five stages' would lead you to believe. Still I see those stages in some form or other all the time. It used to be Acceptance that I dwelt on. I've never been able to get used to patients thanking me for telling them that they're dying. But now it's Bargaining that keeps me up at night. What people will offer for the life of a loved one. They offer me more money; as if there's something more I could be doing. They ask about experimental new procedure and drugs. The promise to follow any regime I suggest. They ask God to trade one life for another... When it was me I asked House for that. I asked him to trade his life for Amber's.
What kind of doctor am I? I was always the ethical one. But what happened to the Hypocritic Oath that night? First do no harm. I'm a doctor. We don't decide who lives and dies. We don't go down to the prisons when we need an organ transplant. We don't make one person sick to make another well. We don't trade one life for another.
What kind of friend am I? Before we knew who the patient was I was trying everything I knew to get House to stop. I wanted him to stop endangering his life. He'd been in a bus crash. He had a severe concussion. He'd fractured his skull. He should have been in bed recuperating, not charging around the hospital taxing his body and brain in more and more insane ways. He induced a heart attack for God's sake! He nearly killed himself. I wanted him to stop... Until he remembered that it was Amber he was trying to save.
"You want me to risk my life to save hers?" Getting a straight answer out of Gregory House is like pulling teeth... without a dentist or anaesthesia... but he can do blunt every bit as well as he obfuscates. There's no question, no confusion; he knew what I was asking, I knew he knew what I was asking. I asked it anyway.
That night, with Amber dying just down the hall, it didn't matter. I couldn't think about anything but the possibility of losing her. Losing the one person who's made me truly happy for the first time in years.
Amber was special. She was going to be the relationship that worked. She saw where my other relationships had gone wrong and she wouldn't let me, us, make those same mistakes. I couldn't disagree with her, she offered the same diagnosis for my failed relationships as House had. But where House only offered mockery and the conclusion that all my future relationships were doomed to fail, Amber offered a solution: Her. I couldn't lose her.
But I did. House took every chance and he still didn't save her.
That night, even as he went into the seizure, all I could think of was the diagnosis he'd made. Amber was dying. There was nothing we could do except let her go. No miracle left to pray for. Nothing left to try. He found the answer and it was that I was going to lose Amber, the love of my life. There was no hope of reprieve.
It wasn't until much later, until Amber was gone, that it even occurred to me that I might have lost House as well. Not because of an accident. Not because of a string of innocent occurrences that led to an unforeseeable tragedy: House called me for a ride home. Amber took medication to stave off an impending case of the flu. The bus they were on got in a wreck. No villains. No one at fault. Just a horrible, horrible accident and them caught up in the middle of it. I could lose House because I asked him to take an insane risk on the slim hope that somehow he could save Amber.
When I saw Cuddy curled up in that chair. When I saw she'd fallen asleep watching over him, holding his hand, even though he'd have a fit over that, I knew how close to the edge he'd come. I didn't need to go in and read the chart. Cuddy's presence said it all.
House's eyes were open, focused. We dodged the bullet. My request hadn't actually killed my best friend. I only almost killed him. I stared through the glass and I couldn't walk into that room. Not after what I'd asked him to do.
I guess some people might think he owed me. After all my friendship with House has almost cost me my career more than once, almost cost me my freedom. I'm forever being drawn into his messes. He's utterly shameless about taking advantage of me. I know people think I'm insane for staying friends with him when it appears that all I get out of the relationship is headaches.
But House is blatantly obvious about what he's doing. He's manipulative, he takes advantage of me, and if I fail to notice that for myself he tells me so in short order. I chose to let him take advantage of me. House says I have a pathological need to be needed. He usually says it in the context of my fail marriages, but it applies to my relationship with House as well.
And sometimes I can resent House every bit as much as I grew to resent my wives. But it isn't the same, because with House resentment never ends up the dominant feature of our relationship. Maybe it's because I know House won't end our relationship if I stop letting him get away with so much crap. Sometimes I think he's trying, in his own twisted, House-way, to make me stand up for myself more. Amber did the same thing, but she was straight forward about it, she didn't play games. House always plays games, the closer something hits to his emotions the more elaborate the games get. He simply can't help it.
After this I can't look at our friendship in the same way. I'm not his guardian angel. I'm not the one who is forever saving him. I asked him to risk his life for a woman whom he commonly refers to as 'Cutthroat Bitch', a woman he actually tried to bribe to get her out of my life. It's safe to say House didn't do it out of feelings for Amber. And this is House, he didn't do it out of guilt over being the reason that she was on the bus in the first place. I can't even convince myself that he did it just to solve the puzzle, with time his memories probably would have come back on their own. House did it because I asked him to.
He constantly tests my boundaries. He has a pathological need to figure out just how far he can push me. Without even trying I bump into his boundaries every day. He won't listen when I tell him he's hurting himself. He won't accept emotional concern. He avoids any sort of physical displays of affection as if he expects a hug to burn the skin off his bones. But I asked him to risk his life for a woman he hates, the woman I love, and there was no boundary, barely even a moment's hesitation. For a self-proclaimed, self-centered bastard House has a lousy sense of self-preservation.
I shouldn't have asked. I should have been trying to talk him out of such a crazy stunt. House never bothers trying to talk me out of the risks I take for him. House is self-destructive and manipulative. He's a self-centered ass... except when he's not... and he takes great pride in that fact. House is just being House when he doesn't try to stop me from getting into trouble on his behalf. Me, I'm a nice person. I care about doing the right thing. I care about the feelings and well-being of others, almost to a fault. I don't tell my best friend that his life doesn't matter to me!
House had a concussion, a fractured skull, he'd already induced a heart attack that day. He was in terrible shape, as if drilling a hole in your skull for the purpose of applying direct electrical stimulation to the brain isn't insanely risky under ANY circumstances. But as much as House had been through, had put himself through, he was stable. All he really needed was to go home and rest.
Amber's heart had stopped. She was on bypass. We were employing extreme measures in a desperate attempt to buy a few more hours for House to come up with a miracle. No matter what information House had locked inside his mind Amber's chances for recovery were incredibly poor. I'm a doctor, I know better than to expect miracles.
What I asked was selfish and amoral and... and stupid. I-I just couldn't let go of that last chance to save her, no matter how slim it was. I know House, I know if he's angry with me at all it's only for the last reason. Selfishness and amoral behavior rarely phase him. House honestly doesn't see anything wrong about his own behavior and one thing he is not is a hypocrite. Stupidity on the other hand... House has little patience with stupidity. And a huge blind-spot when it comes to his own behavior, when his stubbornness crosses the line into self-destructive stupidity.
I don't think House is angry with me, but I don't know if we're friends anymore either. It goes without saying that House is a proud man. That night I basically said that I didn't value either his friendship or his life. It doesn't matter what the circumstances were, he won't be the one to make the first move toward reconciliation. And he shouldn't. He didn't kill Amber. He did more than anyone should have asked to try to save her. I can't hate him for not preforming a miracle for me.
I can't look at House either. I told everyone I'm leaving PPTH because it reminds me too much of Amber. But as House would say; everyone lies. I'm leaving because every time I see House I have to wonder about what sort of person I really am.
The hospital can't stand this. We're not just losing the Head of Oncology, we're losing the one person who has any chance of keeping the Head of Diagnostics from going off the rails. Without Wilson here it won't be long before I'm forced to fire House. Assuming he doesn't flat out kill himself first.
I can't believe that Wilson will let this be the incident that breaks their friendship. He's stayed friends with House through so very many bad spots, he can't walk away from the one in which House wasn't to blame. None of House's actions had placed Amber in undo danger. Getting on a bus, taking flu medication, those things should be a death sentence. And House tried so very hard to save her.
I have to believe that at some unconscious level House had to have known who he was trying to save, not Amber possibly, but Wilson's heart. It's better to think that House knew, deep down, who the patient was than to think he'd taken a potentially fatal dose of drugs simply because he saw that as the most efficient way of getting the answers he sought. If it was personal, if it was because of Amber, because of Wilson, then there is less reason to worry about House doing something like that again. As much as I hate it when he decides to preform risky procedures on dying patients, I hate it so much more when he decides to try to destroy himself in his endless search for answers... At least this time I can understand the question, at least this isn't a repeat of the wall socket/pocket knife stunt he pulled a few months ago. Thank God.
I wish House could ask Wilson not to leave as easily as he asked Chase to drill a hole in his skull. House can ask for, demand, his vicodin without batting an eyelash. He demands cases interesting enough to challenge him without hesitation. I practically have to frog-march him into the Clinic to get him to do his job because Clinic work doesn't interest him and even when I do get him there he's shameless about finding diversions. He believes his physical needs will be met so long as he can make us believe that they're real, that his pain is real. He believes his intellectual needs will be met because he's just that good, we can't afford to not give him the puzzles he lives for.
He couldn't ask his former team not to leave him. He can't tell Wilson how important their friendship is to him, even though I firmly believe that he could salvage the friendship if he'd just ask Wilson back into his life. House can't, won't ask anyone to meet his emotional needs. Instead of asking Foreman to stay, he tortured the man and fired Chase, effectively driving his whole team away. So much easier to do that than to tell them he needs them. I think House believes that if he tells anyone what his emotional needs are, we'll deny him out of shear spite.
He doesn't trust us not to hurt him, even Wilson. Better to be hurt out of ignorance than to risk telling us what hurts and take the chance that we'll hurt him deliberately. Better to lie to everyone, even himself, about that sort of want than to ask and be denied. I know Wilson. I know he doesn't want to hurt House. I don't know why House can't see that his defenses aren't necessary. I don't know why he can't trust anyone not to want to hurt him, why he fights so hard to give us reasons to hate him. I don't think I want to know. He's hard enough to deal with already. I let him get away with too much now. He already invests much too much energy in making sure I can't possibly pity him, even if I don't. The guilt is bad enough, I don't want a reason to pity him.
And Wilson. Wilson needs House too, or at least someone a little like House. He needs someone to give him perspective, to force him into rebuilding his professional distance so he can go on doing his job. He needs someone to tell him that his marriages didn't fail over something so cut and dried as his cheating, that the cheating is a symptom of the disease and not the cause. He needs someone to shock him, to inject excitement into his sane, sensible, orderly life... a life that bores him almost as much as it would bore House. Right now Wilson is drowning in his grief for Amber, he needs someone to cling to. House doesn't believe he can help, he's got the worst bedside manner of any doctor ever. He doesn't do comfort. But comfort hasn't helped Wilson at all, he just slides deeper and deeper into his grief. Maybe he needs a shock, maybe it's time to be blunt, maybe he needs a distraction. House could be any of those. He's what Wilson needs.
I can't stand this. I can't just stand by and watch two of my closest friends self-destruct. I can't let them run away from the bond that they both need. I have to do something. I have to trust Wilson to see past his grief, to remember what he knows about how House's mind works. I have to trust that House hasn't completely walled up the Wilson-shaped weak spot in his defenses. I have to believe that their friendship can still be saved if they would just LOOK at each other.
I'm going to lock them in a room together until they're friends again. It works for five-year-olds, it should work for House.