A/N: This will probably become a series of one-shots surrounding the events of the Season 4 finale and the early episodes of Season 5.

First part can be considered an alternative scene for "Wilson's heart". - Contains some angst, so if you're already depressed enough, better not continue… ;)

The favor

"You can't ask him to do this procedure." Cuddy's voice was determined; she was eyeing her head of oncology almost imploringly. "His heart gave out not 24 hours ago. – He has a skull fracture. A severe concussion; brain swelling!"

Wilson steadily met her gaze. "I need him to do this."

Briefly closing her eyes, Cuddy replied with a slight shake of her head. "Wilson. If he does the deep brain stimulation in his current condition, there might be serious damage. – There are so many things that could go wrong… He could die doing this!"

Wilson countered without hesitation: "If he doesn't do this, Amber will die."

"She might die either way, James…" Cuddy's tone had softened considerably. "And I am really very sorry about that. – But do you really wanna risk losing them both on the off-chance that this procedure will actually help House recover his memory of that symptom? And not only that, but that her condition is even curable?"

Wilson's voice was very quiet when he finally replied. "I can't lose her, Cuddy. I have to take that risk…"

She still very obviously wasn't convinced. "This is not the only way. When his brain starts to heal – "

He interrupted her with a tense half-shrug. "Yeah, well… It's not healing quickly enough. Not to save Amber's life." Then, almost pleadingly: "She just doesn't have the time, Cuddy."

"But he's your best friend!" Tone full of disbelief and maybe even a trace of anger by now.

"And she might be the love of my life!" But despite the determined words, Wilson was suddenly unable to fully meet her gaze; he wore an almost desperate expression by now. "I know I'm asking a lot. But I love her…"

"Yeah, well… He doesn't! – You can't expect him to do this."

At least Wilson had the decency to look vaguely uncomfortable when he spoke again, his eyes only fleetingly meeting Cuddy's. "He loves me."


Then, clearly aghast: "I can't believe you'd actually use that fact to manipulate him into this! – He already completely went beyond his limits to even tell you Amber was hurt! He did that for you, James! – And now you want him to just ignore the fact that he has been seriously injured himself and once again risk his life? You, who was against the hypnosis because it could have done him harm…"

Wilson bravely met her angry gaze. "This time I know it's about Amber. It's about her life, Cuddy."

She abruptly pushed herself out of her desk chair at that, finally unable to remain sitting. "And it's about his life, too! Or are you saying his life is worth less than hers?!"

Wincing slightly at those words, Wilson paused briefly, before once again eyeing her intently, willing her to understand. "I'm saying that I need her to live! If there's any chance at all, I need to know that I did everything I could to try and save her…"

Cuddy's gaze hardened some more. "Even if it means sacrificing your best friend."

Wilson forced himself to hold her gaze, even if he now looked almost pained. "I love her, Cuddy. I can't just watch her die…"

She hesitated a moment, then just shook her head again, stating much more quietly: "If he heard you talking like that, it would break him. – I'm not gonna let you do that to him. I won't simply stand by and watch you force him into this."

That was when a quiet voice suddenly spoke up from behind. "You won't have to." Surprised, they both turned around to find House standing in the doorway to Cuddy's office.

He was still much too pale, leaning heavily on his cane, left hand additionally holding onto the door frame. "I will ask Chase to do the procedure." His voice was almost toneless; he was meeting neither of their gazes.

Cuddy's expression softened considerably at his words, tears now threatening to fill her eyes. "House… How long – "

She didn't even get to finish the question. "Long enough. – Doesn't matter though. I'll do the procedure…"

Cuddy just shook her head. "House. This is – "

He interrupted her again. "My decision, Cuddy." He was already turning around and heading towards the corridor again.

Wilson, who hadn't been able to bring himself to look at his friend up till now, finally spoke as well, slowly lifting his head. "House!"

The older man stopped walking, but didn't turn around again. "It's okay; I understand."

Desperately glancing towards the ceiling to keep his composure, Wilson finally almost blurted out: "I'm sorry…"

House slowly turned towards him at that, briefly meeting the other man's gaze. To anyone else, his face would have seemed expressionless, but Wilson had no trouble identifying the flicker of emotion he hadn't been able to conceal.

The moment he saw the deep hurt in the confused blue eyes, Wilson knew that the damage he had just inflicted on his friend would probably never be repairable.

Quickly averting his gaze again, House eventually replied with a barely perceivable nod. "Yeah… I know."

When he started turning towards the door again, his eyes briefly met Cuddy's. She opened her mouth to say something, anything to prevent this madness, but just then something in House's formerly slumped posture suddenly changed, his expression shifting until the look on his face spoke of nothing but stern determination.

Tightening the grip on his cane, he straightened up some more, before starting to limp down the corridor towards the surgical department...

Hope you've liked it... Thank you for reading! :)