A/N: For a standard disclaimer see my profile. A virtual cookie for finding a right quote goes to Richie117, also known as my personal angel, who suggested "Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel. Thank you so much!
"Rest your head,
you worry too much.
It's going to be alright.
When times get rough
you can fall back on us.
Dont give up,
please, dont give up."
After the accident Wilson had been unconscious for almost four days.
Of course he didn't know this, not right after waking up. It actually took him good ten minutes to remember his own name, realize that he was laying in a hospital bed and identify the person uncomfortably curled up in the visitor's chair next to him as his best friend, Gregory House.
He still couldn't recall what happened to him, so he tried to say something that would wake House up and let him get some answers. All he managed was a barely audible whisper that left his throat burning. He must have been put on a ventilator at some point, or maybe he had screamed himself hoarse.
For a moment he considered pushing the call button and summoning the nurse, but then he got a better look at House and decided against it. The older man was clearly exhausted, he had dark circles under his eyes, his face looked even more pale and thin than usual, his clothes looked like he had slept in them and his stubble could almost be called a beard. It was best to just let him sleep.
With no other way of getting any information, Wilson concentrated on the way his body felt, hoping that finding his injuries would make him remember how he acquired them. He started with his head (a tender bruise on his left cheek, two stitches above his left eye, some minor scratches) and worked his way towards his feet.
Somewhere between his bruised chest and more small cuts on his left forearm he decided that he had been in a rather ugly car accident. It wasn't a memory, he still couldn't recall anything that happened after he saw his last patient on the Monday afternoon. It was merely a logical explanation of his injuries.
Some part of him was stunned by the fact that he wasn't really all that upset by all this. Here he was, stuck in the ICU bed, nursing numerous cuts, bruises and a fresh surgical scar on his stomach (spleen, he guessed), weak as a baby - and absolutely calm, as if the injuries belonged to some anonymous patient, not him. That wasn't right. Maybe it was the meds? He could see the morphine drip, connected to his arm, after all.
Unable to summon any real worry about his own situation, he tried to imagine what his car must look like now. Definitely some broken windows - those cuts were clearly the result of being showered in fragmented safety glass. Wilson pictured his trusted Volvo, wrapped around some tree, mangled beyond hope...
And then the memory hit, knocking the breath out of him.
The street was dark and it was beginning to rain, heavy drops splashing noisily against glass and metal. Pieces of a song he had heard on the radio in the cafeteria kept playing in his head, rain adding a chaotic staccato to the steady rhythm of the drums. A fragmented thought, something about lunch, House and coffee stains, flashed through his mind. There were lights in front of him, then the lights suddenly shifted, blinded him. Made him freeze, as a flood of adrenaline set his nerves on fire.
Then there was the crash and the world shifted with nothing to hold on to, nothing steady, no point of reference. Something strange happened to his sense of time, making this one short moment simultaneously rush over him in a single heartbeat and stretch to eternity. And finally everything went still, so perfectly still that after the complete chaos of moments ago it seemed unreal. Like suddenly becoming a breathing, living person, stuck in the middle of a photograph.
Wilson's breathing became shallow and his heartbeat skyrocketed, making the monitors scream, but he couldn't hear anything except the sound of the rain. Someone was saying something to him and there was a hand grasping his hand, but all he could feel was the trickle of blood flowing down the side of his face, heaviness in his chest, stinging pain in his abdomen... And the agonizing pressure against his legs.
Something was wrong. He couldn't feel any pain in his legs now, he thought everything was fine with his legs. Something happened, something was wrong...
"...have to calm down! Wilson!" the voice pierced through his panic and confusion, making him open his eyes and look around him wildly.
"Something's wrong" he whispered.
"You're fine, everything is fine, just breathe, slow down" said the voice. House? Was it House? Wilson forced himself to focus for a second and saw familiar blue eyes, staring at him with worry.
"Sorry... w-woke you..." he mumbled.
"Yeah, right, that's the biggest of our problems right now."
Problems. Right. Wilson's mind spun once again.
"Something... M-my... legs! House, m-my legs!" Wilson clawed at the hospital blanket, desperate to see, to find out what happened to him. Desperately hoping that this part was not a memory, merely a nightmare, a dream, a hallucination brought on by shock, blood loss and concussion.
House's hands grabbed him and held him still. "Calm down, you idiot, you did enough damage to yourself!" he growled and, out of habit, Wilson did what he asked.
"That's it. Now stay that way" said House, releasing him.
"I remember being stuck, my legs were... pinned down, I... I need to know what happened?" he asked quietly, staring at House intently and trying to read his reaction.
He had to stave off the rising panic once again when he saw the flash of bare agony, regret and then resignation in House's eyes. House looked away. "Technically... it's 'my leg' right now" he said haltingly, his gaze fixed on the wall. Wilson stopped breathing.
"I'm sorry, Wilson" said House, for once completely serious and sincere, and Wilson's world tilted and slowly crashed down.
He tried to think, put the fact that he had just lost a limb into some kind of perspective that would make sense, bring back the order, make it possible to accept. He tried and - time and again - he drew a blank. This was... this wasn't him. In his version of reality he was slowly approaching middle age, but he was still fit, he could run after House, limping away down the corridor and stand at his patient's side during chemo, and walk his dog, and, when he didn't feel like waiting for the elevator, run down the stairs to see why Cuddy wanted to talk to him, and drive a car, and play golf, and...
With a jolt he realized he was crying and whispering to himself, making a long – far too long - list of things he was supposed to be able to do, because if he couldn't, then the world was an alien place in which he would be lost. Then he felt strong arms holding him in place and heard the other voice, soft but steady, countering every casualty on Wilson's list with a reassurance.
"It's all right, don't panic. You'll be fine, you'll get a prosthetic, you'll go running and driving, and walking that stupid dog. It won't hurt soon, you'll do some PT and you'll be fine. It's nothing, it's nothing, I will help, you don't have to worry. I'll take care of everything, you just get better. I'm here, you're all right..."
Wilson listened and listened, thinking that if House was saying something like this, it had to be true, and slowly the panic and confusion loosened their grip on him. His breathing steadied and he allowed himself to relax in House's embrace. They sat like this for a long while, Wilson's forehead resting on House's shoulder, House's voice drifting through him, comforting him.
Finally Wilson moved back and looked up. The look on House's face crushed the rest of his anguish and finally made him feel that maybe he could get through this. Because that look clearly said that Wilson would not have to go through it alone. House had already been there, he knew the way out and, just by being at Wilson's side at this moment, he was making the promise to lead Wilson back to the world that made sense.
House squeezed his shoulder one last time and stood up, leaning heavily on his cane.
"How did you know what to say?" asked Wilson, before House left, wanting to explain the only thing that didn't fit, because House had always been absolutely hopeless at comforting people.
House offered him a sad smile. "That's what I wanted to hear, back then" he said and Wilson felt a mixture of guilt, sympathy and, above all, gratitude.
Wilson didn't thank him, because there was no need. House, being who he was, couldn't have done anything else and he didn't need Wilson's thanks. He needed him to get better, and that was what Wilson would do, with his help. And when he did, they would make cripple jokes, watch TV at House's place, with two good legs they now had between them propped up on the coffee table, laugh at the way their limps matched and race to the car, the looser paying for their next lunch.
They shared a smile, both of them knowing very well what was going through the other man's head, and when House turned and left, Wilson felt that maybe everything would be just fine after all.