Title: The Unusual Angel
Summary: Sometimes the guardian angel just isn't the one we think. ONESHOT
Warning: Child abuse. You've been warned.
Disclaimer: Still don't own 'em.
The Unusual Angel
Two a.m. I'm finally going home. I sigh in contentment as I wrap my coat around me and put on my scarf. I look out the window. It's still snowing. Great. I shiver even though I can't feel the coolness yet.
I close my office door, staring for a moment at the words that cover it. Lisa Cuddy, Dean of medicine. I smile a little at that, feeling a sudden wave of pride as I read it.
As I stand in front of the elevator, I decide to go see House one last time before going home. I know his last case has been a tough one for him. Scratch that, it's been a tough one for everyone. A beaten up kid was always a hard thing to accept. I remember the look on House's face when he found the bruises on that small body. I'm sure it reminded him of his own childhood, when his father used to rough him up. But that kid hasn't "just" been beaten up. I thought I'd throw up when I knew he'd been raped too. My God, he's only eight.
Mercifully, it didn't last long, and his big brother's in jail for what he's done. Didn't even try to argue. At least he knew he did something wrong. That son of a bitch.
What I don't understand is Wilson's reaction. Instead of the horrified and angry look everyone – including House – wore, there was something else. Hurt? Sorrow? I can't quite define it.
I remember the look he and House shared at some point. When he'd seen the way House was – and it still surprises me as I think of it – involved, he'd asked: "It's about that kid, isn't it?" I didn't understand, but House nodded. Maybe another secret of theirs. And that's why I'm here, standing in front of House's office, staring through the glass walls as he stands on his balcony, lost in thoughts, not even caring about the snow falling on and around him. I take a deep breath, brace myself against the cold and go to stand beside him.
He doesn't even turn around to face me. "My father loved me more than anything in the entire world." He says in that monotone sarcastic voice that annoys anyone who hears it.
"I'm sure he did." I smirk as I cross my arm in an attempt to keep myself warm.
"And I didn't have any big brother either."
"I know." But there's more to it and we both know it. I wait for him to speak again, but I give up first. "Who was that kid?" I ask, and finally he faces me.
"What kid?" he asks, but I know he's only trying to buy himself time.
"The one you and Wilson were talking about." I say, "He asked you if it was about that kid and you nodded." I smile triumphantly as he nods softly in defeat. "Who was it?"
He looks down at his feet and I know he's trying to decide whether or not he should let me in on the big secret. We stay like that for a while, none of us speaking. However, when I'm about to break the silence, he beats me to it.
"It was about twenty years ago. One of my first days of medicine. I was on clinic duty (he emphasizes on the words, smirking as I roll my eyes) And… there was that kid sitting on the table. I don't know, he must have been twelve, give or take a few years. He was covered in bruises, cuts, burns… He was looking down at the floor. Next to him stood his big brother. One look at them was enough for me to diagnose that kid."
He trails off and looks at me as if to make sure I'm still following. I gave him an encouraging nod, waiting patiently for the rest of the story.
"I tried to ask questions," he goes on, "But the kid wouldn't say a word or even look at me. The big brother answered instead. Said the kid had fallen down the stairs, the usual stuff. The kid would only nod, still staring at the ground. So I gave the brother money and asked him to go get me a soda." He snorts a little at the memory, "He glared at the kid and stormed out. I tried to ask the kid again, but he gave me the same story. 'I fell down the stairs'. That's all he would say, no matter how hard I tried."
I realize now that I'd clenched my hands into tight fists. I open them and stupidly look down at my palms to find small crescents where my nails had dug in the skin. He doesn't seem to notice though.
"I told him I knew. I told him that he could tell me everything, that I'd call the police and his brother would never hit him again. That's when he looked at me for the first time, then he burst into tears. He said he couldn't say anything, because his big brother would take it out on his little brother and that would be his fault." House tightens his grip around his cane, his knuckles turning white as he does so.
"Oh my God." Is all I'm able to say.
"Exactly." House smirks despite the hate in his eyes. "That bastard used the youngest brother to hurt the middle child as much as he wanted."
"Son of a bitch." I growl out.
"That's not even the best part." House says, and I'm not sure I want to know anymore. But he goes on without even waiting for a reaction. "I'd noticed the kid didn't like to be touched, so I asked him if his brother had raped him." I can't see myself, but I'm sure I'm white as a sheet at this point. "He didn't answer," House says, "But the way he started crying harder told me everything I needed to know."
I shake my head, disgusted. "That poor kid." I mumble and House nods.
"He never told anyone about this, and I couldn't do anything to help him." He says, and I can hear the guilt in his voice. "For years I wondered what had happened to him, if his brother had finally hit him so hard that he'd killed him."
"Which probably happened." I say, feeling tears coming to my eyes. House looks at me again and smiles a little.
"Nope. He's still alive." He says. "I heard his brother kept hitting and raping him for about a year after that, but he'd eventually stopped."
"Thank God for small mercies."
"Yeah. It took years, but the kid finally turned out okay. Now he's got a job, friends and all… And on his best days, he can even convince himself he's as happy as everyone thinks he is."
I smile grimly. "How do you know all that?" I ask.
He goes to lean on the wall that separates his balcony to Wilson's. "I just came to see him again, a few years ago." He says. "And ever since, I… I don't know, I guess I kinda watch over him. In my own way." He adds with his trademark smirk.
I smile back at him. That's all so unexpected. A little too much for my taste. "Is that story even true? Or is it just a trick to feed my curiosity?"
"Why, Doctor Cuddy, you wound me!" he says, feigning hurt. I raise my eyebrow and he's serious again. "Yeah. Unfortunately, it's true. All of it is."
"Who was that kid, anyway?"
He looks at me and I can almost hear him argue with himself. He hesitates a little then looks over his shoulder at Wilson's door then back at me. At first I don't understand and I'm about to ask again, but realization dawns on me and a cold feeling creeps up in my stomach.
"Wilson?" I whisper, barely able to get the words out. But House nods slowly.
"He was only six when his brother hit him for the first time."
"But…" I stammer lamely, "I thought he only had a younger brother."
"So did I." House says. "Until the day he told me his big brother had disappeared from his life and was now homeless. Then the pieces fell in place."
I realize only now that my mouth has gone completely dry. I swallow hard, trying to erase the awful images that come to my mind. "I never suspected…"
"I know." House interrupts me. He sits on the walls, swings his legs to the other side and starts to walk towards Wilson's door. He's got his hand on the handle when he turns to face me again. "That's exactly the way he wants it to be."
He doesn't even knock before entering Wilson's office, and I can hear this cheerful voice he only uses with his best friend. I stay there for a while, trying to process everything I just learned about my coworker. For years I thought Wilson was the most well-adjusted person on the earth, and he never did or said anything that could make me think otherwise.
He always said there was nothing wrong with him.
House is right.