AN: So, I started to write this story after watching Under My Skin, when we were supposed to believe that House was just a drug addict and only needed to detox (which we later found out was wrong) and I wanted to go in a very different direction. After the season finale, I dropped it to start working on my story, Just my Imagination. I don't know. I think this probably doesn't work. Alternate Universe, House/ Wilson slash, a fair amount of OOC, and some references to child abuse. I'll probably be taking this down soon. Sorry it's so long and not very good.
When House told me he was hallucinating, I just automatically assumed it was because of the Vicodin. It didn't even occur to me that there might actually be something wrong with the guy, physically. At least nothing he hadn't caused himself. But, I would never say that to him straight off the bat. I knew I had to indulge him, or he wouldn't even consider the treatment he really needed—which was probably rehab at this point—let alone actually do it. He tried to kick me out of the sleep lab, but I lay down beside him, and wrapped my arm around his shoulder. He always slept better if I was close by, which was probably why he hadn't been doing so well after Kutner's death, as I hadn't been around much.
The next morning I listened to him rattle off the list of half a dozen things he thought might be wrong with him, each less likely and more ridiculous as the one before it. I tried to ask him about how many pills he was taking several times, but he was barely said two words to me until I was doing his spinal tap. I was pretty sure he'd had a nightmare in the lab, but he hadn't told me anything, wouldn't tell me anything.
"You think this is a waste of time. You think I'm being stupid about this whole—ow! When the Hell was the last time you did one of these? Probably think there's nothing really wrong with me, that I'm scared 'cuz I don't wanna stop taking my pills," he murmured. I considered telling him not talk while I was trying to stick a giant needle into his spine, but knew he wouldn't listen. Instead, I leaned down, pressing my lips to the top of his head. "That's a yes."
"No, it's not, it's a—okay, it was a yes. I think that the hallucinations are most likely being caused by you taking too many Vicodin. However, most likely does not mean always. So, there's always a chance that I might be wrong. If I am and you die because I didn't do these tests, I could lose my license."
"There wouldn't be time for that. You kill me, Cuddy kills you. Not that it matters. You're right," he admitted, letting out a small, sad sound as the needle went in. "I don't wanna talk about it." I finished the test.
"Now can I trust you to lie still, while I run this down to the lab and make sure they do this fast, or do I hafta tie you up," I asked, giving the guy a quick hug, and smiling at him to hopefully make the guy more comfortable. Greg squirmed a little, as if trying to get more comfortable.
"You'd like that, wouldn't you," he mocked, starting to sit up. Luckily, I was two inches away, and managed to grab his arm before he fell off the gurney. "Okay—I'm just a little bit dizzy. You didn't put my actual name on that vial did you?"
"I was gonna call you Ian Fleming but I thought somebody might figure out it was us and not do it. Is John Doe okay?" He rolled his eyes. "You want something else? I'm open to suggestions."
"Whatever." House was lying pretty much completely still, and staring at the wall, when I came back. In fact, he didn't even seem to notice me. "Shut up; shut up! I won't listen to anything you say. If I do, you're gonna make him hate me," he told to the wall.
"House," I said, gently, and he twisted his head, sighing. "Guess I should have knocked." His cheeks flushed bright red. "I don't hate you; I could never hate you. I don't care what's wrong, drugs, psychosis, MS, whatever. It doesn't matter. You're my best friend, you're my—I'm not sure what you wanna call what we are—but we're that too. Nothing is going to change how much I care about you." He nodded, unconvinced, and let me hold his hand, until he got a call. His team needed him. I went with and sat at his side with my hand on his knee, under the table. Foreman noticed my presence and started questioning us. Greg kicked me out of the DDX, and then rushed back to my side the second he got rid of them. Unfortunately, in the short time we had been apart, I'd gotten his test results. House told me what he intended to with the woman, but I only sort of heard him. I was focused on how I was going to break the news. I moved closer to him, placing my palm on the counter right next to his.
"How crazy is that," he asked, pathetically. I was hoping he'd take my hand in his, but either he didn't notice, didn't want anyone to see us holding hands, or didn't want it.
"It's on the upper end of your normal—state of…but still not too bad." He looked at me, almost shocked by the comment. "Look I know you're terrified that you're going to say or do something extreme… and that your team is just gonna go along with it because it's an order from you—their boss—but that is not gonna happen. Your team knows when to listen and when to find ways around your 'crazy' ideas." He shrugged, but still didn't say anything. "And we have to talk."
"Why," he asked, looking all around us—probably—to make sure that nobody was eavesdropping. I had no idea what to say to him. I couldn't figure out how to do what needed to be done.
"Let's go to my office." His eyes stared helplessly, like a child. "This isn't a lecture, but we do need some privacy," I explained, still at a loss for words. I had made a career out of telling people they were going to die. I'm so good that people say thank you, and yet, I couldn't give him some simple fucking test results.
"Aww, is 'little Jimmy' lonely," he mocked, leaning real close, and blowing in my ear. I closed my eyes, eyes rolling backwards, briefly but then managed to regain my composure. "You can say it's not a lecture, but we both know you're lying."
"I really think we should go to my office to talk or—we can go get some lunch first if you wanna—lock the door so we can make out and stuff, and you can do that thing with your, tongue." He rolled his eyes and looked away, disinterested. "I have no intent to tell you that you've done something wrong. I'm not trying to…you have a," I stammered as I tried to think of something to say to make him feel better, but didn't think there were very many things that would cheer him up, period. With this news, it seemed as there was no way to help. "Your suggestions, while unusual and abnormal, are helpful and you're almost always right. If it weren't for your 'crazy' ideas, ninety percent of the people who came to see you would die. Even your most outrageous ideas aren't bad. You're not—" House cut me off.
"Why are you trying so hard to make me feel better," he asked, furiously. "You got my results back, didn't you?" I tried and touch the side of his face with my hand but the guy pulled away. I was starting to think that maybe I couldn't do what I usually did because of our relationship. Either that or I'm broken, I thought.
"Yes, I just got the call from the lab." About midway through my statement, I couldn't help but notice that Greg was staring past me, as if at someone else. "What's she doing now," I asked, trying to steer towards my office.
"There are still other possibilities. I might not—you don't know it's because of the pills," he told me, trying to sound brave but looking just as terrified as he had in the sleep lab. I offered my hand again; I didn't know what else to do. "I don't need to hear the 'you're taking too many Vicodin' speech. Just leave me alone for a little while okay? I've got a lot to think about."
"You and I need to go someplace to talk. Right now," I said, quiet, yet firm. Greg grunted. He still didn't seem to be paying attention. "House this is—I need you to," I started to say, putting my hand on his arm, and patting it. I watched as a look of recognition spread across his face. He suddenly knew exactly what was I was trying to do. I had hoped it wouldn't happen like this. I wanted to make him feel safe. I wanted him to be comfortable. I wanted to do this in private so he wouldn't have a breakdown in the middle of the hallway. "Come with me."
"I was right," he gasped, still somewhat angry, but mostly sounding like he had been kicked in the testicles. And then he all but whimpered as he repeated the words. "I was…right." I grabbed his arm, dragging the poor guy into my office. "If…if I thank you, do I still have to pay you?"
"A deal's a deal," I teased, locking the door and then turning around, wrapping my arms around his midsection. "Besides, you're not…you might not," I was stuttering, which only seemed to make House more nervous. So, I stopped, counted to ten, and took a deep breath before starting over. "People can live with MS, for a long time. You're not dying yet. You can still be a doctor, and you don't have to stop taking the painkillers. You'll just," I started to say but he cut me off.
"I'm just gonna be weaker, and sicker, and I might go blind, or I could end up with pain all over that would make the pain in my leg seem like a paper cut, or…well, you know what could happen. You're a doctor too. Sort of." He sat down on the sofa, sighed loudly, put his head in his hands, but didn't actually cry or scream, or do anything.
"House, I didn't want you to find out like that. This is not how I do that. I guess I'm a little flustered." He let me sit down beside him, but didn't respond to anything I did or said. I tried squeezing his hand. I kissed his head. I hugged him. I said, "I love you." I even thought about breaking down, letting him see me cry, but decided that at least one of us needed to be strong, and he was freaking out. So, I stayed still and bit down on my lip, trying to think about something else. An image popped into my mind.
House, in his apartment, laying down on the sofa a box of Pop-Tarts in his hands, gazing up at me and smiling. 'Please have an answer to this question,' he'd said. 'What's for dinner?' I'd yelled about the dishes, but then he had hobbled in and slowly gotten down onto his knees, placing his hands around my waist, and pulled my pants down. Suddenly, I felt the modern him shaking my arm and I snapped back to reality. "Did you say something," I asked. "My mind was somewhere else."
"Mine too," he admitted. Greg let me hold him, and I pulled his body to my chest, but he didn't say anything else, and he still wouldn't—or couldn't—cry. He's in denial, I thought; hasn't really hit him yet. "I was thinking about the first time I got you drunk and tried to put the moves on you, but then you just passed out on the couch and drooled all over my shoulder." I patted him on the shoulder, but I still had no idea what to say. .
"Look, I want to apologize for how I just told you that. I'm usually beter at this. I just—you were sort of distracted, and we're freaking out. Usually do a little bit better of a job distancing myself from patients, and their families, but with you, I can't do it. I'm gonna lose you—not today and not tomorrow, but a lot sooner than I always dreamed—and that scares me more than anything else in the world."
"Jimmy, you don't need to think like that," he said, being uncharacteristically kind, even comforting. "I might not…it's like you said," he explained, lifting up his head and hugging me. He tried to hold me. He was tried to take care of me, like I was the one who'd just been given the bad news, instead of him. "I could have another five or ten or even fifteen years and there could be—advances," he said, but his voice was trembling. "With stem cell research and everything, they could find a cure before I start to show any really serious symptoms. Well, loads of time, before I start to exhibit any other serious symptoms. I could be…what's wrong, Jimmy?"
"I just told you that you have Multiple Sclerosis and you're…you're trying to make me feel beter. You're giving me a pep talk," I chuckled. I had never seen him like this. It was almost like we'd switched roles. He nodded, and shrugged. "Thank you."
"So what do we do now," he asked, even though we both already knew the answer to that question. Find a doctor, confirm the dignoisis with blood tests and an MRI, (which were going to become a regular part of his life now) start new meds, and schedule regular appointments with a neurologist. Not to mention finding a doctor he didn't hate and who would be nice but not too nice to him.
"I'll tell Cuddy that you need the rest of the afternoon off, okay? We're gonna go home, and start dealing with this. We're gonna take a couple of days, and I'm gonna find you the best doctor—for this, and," I said, and tried to kiss him, but House pushed away from me. "I kept telling myself that it was the Vicodin. It had to be the pills. I told you the same thing. I thought you were acting like a child, and I indulged you, because I knew you'd never go to rehab unless I could prove that it wasn't something else. If I had forced you to give up the pills, and ignored your medical needs, I could have killed you. Just like we were joking about, I made a joke about this and you actually have MS. God, I am so, so sorry."
"Don't be," he said, emotionlessly. "I was being a baby. I didn't need all those tests. Even I thought it was the pills. I wanted to do all the other stuff 'cuz, I'm weak, and terrified of going through detox again. I pop twenty pills a day! How could that not be the cause?" Oh good, I thought, as I started getting angry at him. Yeah, sure blame yourself, that'll fix everything.
"Maybe God hates you," I mocked. He smiled weakly, and pressed his face down against my shoulder, like he was about to go to sleep. "Would you like something stronger for your—for the pain?" He grunted, and sighed. "God I can't believe I said that." Once again, he gave no response. "We'll get you a good doctor, and you'll get started on the right meds real fast; so you can get rid of the hallucinations, and then you can come back here and," I stammered. "There's no reason to stop working. You might, eventually, have to use a wheelchair to get around but we will figure this out. We can make this work," I promised, and then squeezed my eyes shut, clenching my teeth.
"Jimmy if you need to cry or something you should do it. I'm not gonna freak out," he told me, bravely. I managed an extremely small, pathetic smile, and I hugged him, and kissed his hair again. "Stop doing that. I'm not dying. I don't need you to infantilize me." There was a brief moment of silence. "I wouldn't be. I don't think I need stronger pain meds right now, but I wouldn't be. Maybe you aren't completely wrong. Maybe we should go home. I feel like crap, and I don't want everyone to see me like this."
"You don't look any different to me, but I agree that you shouldn't be here, just in case you have some sort of emotional reaction. At all," I teased—hating myself the moment I said it—and patting him on the arm, pulling away as he stared blankly. "Sorry that was completely uncalled for. It was also rude, and cruel, and you really didn't deserve to be treated so badly."
"I know," he responded, sounding even emptier and more pathetic than when I first told him. I was about to apologize some more when he smiled, and winked at me. "I loved it. I don't want you to treat me differently, which is gonna be hard but—you're the only one who doesn't think I'm an obnoxious freak, and I like that, as pathetic as it might be." He kissed me, as I was thinking, you're not pathetic. "And I don't want this to change either. I like being—whatever we are."
"Let's go home," I whispered, slipping my arm under him, offering the physical support he needed to stand up. "Do you need help getting to my car?" Greg shook his head. "I'm sorry you're sick."
"Who wouldn't be?" I'm sure you can think of someone, I thought, as we made our way down the hall. Once again we ran into Foreman. "What's wrong with twinkle toes now," he sneered
"She's stable," he said, studying Greg and my faces, trying to figure out how to break one of us, get the truth. I thought I'd have to ask House—later—if he regretted having trained him so well.
"Then why are you bothering me," he asked, managing to make himself look as big and scary as usual. Foreman decided that I was an easier target, and he switched tactics. He made a sweet looking face, like he actually gave a crap about the guy.
"What's wrong with him," Eric asked me, and I could actually hear Greg's gulp. I thought about lying, but knew he wouldn't believe anything I said. I thought about telling him the truth, but that would torpedo any trust House may have had in me. I quickly realized that I needed to pick one of them, side with him, and stay there. So, I asked myself, who was I more afraid of? Which one should I lie to? Which one needed me more? It should have been obvious, but at the same time, I knew House sometimes liked to tell people shocking stuff to see their reactions, and I wasn't sure if this was one of those situations.
"You're gonna have to figure that one out on your own. He needs to leave now; we both do," I said, protectively, and the two of us continued on past Eric. I wanted to turn around and tell him to stay the hell away from Greg, but knew that he'd quickly figure out what I was doing and why. Then, he would never let us go. So we just kept walking, and I didn't look back. Naturally, his phone rang after we'd been in the car for about five minutes. "Don't answer it."
"What if the patient's dying?" He wasn't actually worried about that. The only reason he asked was because he knew I hadn't thought of it, and wanted to make sure that we didn't let something really bad happen.
"The patient is fine, and even if she's not; they can handle it. You hired Foreman and Taub and Hadley because they are—because they can deal with these sorts of cases. You, on the other hand, are sick and scared and won't be able to start coping with that emotionally, unless you're not surrounded by people who you hate." I stopped at a red light, and turned to look him in the eyes.
"Only one problem with that," the guy explained, in his usual voice. "I hate everybody." I studied his face, checking for his usual telltale signs of being completely freaked out or upset He seemed alright though. He let the phone ring, and managed to go six minutes before he dialed voicemail. Just as we were parking outside his apartment, the phone started up again, but with a different ring tone this time. "Who's that?"
"Cuddy," he said. Crap, I thought. "Think Foreman tattled to Mommy, or is she mad 'cuz of something else?" I had no idea, and told him as much. "What should I do?"
"Here," I offered, taking the phone out of his hand. "House can't come back in today. He's—." She cut me off mid sentence, which was probably a good thing, as I still have no idea what I would have said next.
"I know. I've seen his test results. Did you really think I wouldn't notice that you'd been secretly running tests on a non-existent patient all day? What is House trying to do? Is this another game for him? Maybe he found stronger drugs. That's why he's pretending to have Multiple Sclerosis, isn't it?" I could tell from the look on Greg's face that he heard most of what she was saying.
"Yeah, he just wants to get high. That's why I'm the one he went to. That's why he demanded that I shove a gigantic needle into his spine, when he could have just as easily said, 'Jimmy, I need more pills,' and I would of handed them over." She made a hurt noise, but I no longer cared about that woman. All the anger I'd felt upon hearing about Greg's illness was suddenly focused on her. "You're not calling because you think his drug use is a liability. You're calling because you know he's actually sick and you can't handle that. You want a shoulder to cry on? Well guess what, I'm taking care of the guy who was told that he's going to die, who just found out he could go blind, lose all use of his arms and legs, might start to have horrible, unmanageable pain, and who happens to be hallucinating at the moment! He needs me more than you do right now! He will always need me more than you do. Don't call back, okay?"
"Wilson," she said gently, almost lovingly. I stood by the door, pacing back and forth, furiously while House limped to the sofa, curled up in a ball, and squeezed his eyes closed, clamping his hands over his ears. "I just—I would really like to be ale to talk to somebody."
"You're going to have to find somebody else to hold your hand. I've got enough to deal with right now without you on my case—or his. Now, leave us alone, or I'll tell House he needs to stop working until we get his condition under control." Greg let me lay down on the sofa with him, and the two of us pressed up close together, his face buried in my shirt.
"In that case, will you tell House that I'm, that I—tell him I'm sorry, and that," she started to say, sobbing a little. Stop talking to her, my brain screamed at me. Stop now, before she gets her hooks in.
"I'm hanging up now. Then, we're turning off his phone and taking the other one off the hook. If his patient gets worse his team can deal with it. If they can't…if things get really bad, then you may call me. And maybe I'll let you talk to him over the phone. Otherwise, keep them away from him and you make damn sure that they don't find out what's really wrong until he's ready for people to know."
"It um—Foreman's the one who figured out he must be sick and that it must be bad if you took him home. So, I looked through all your paitent files for today. You've seen three people, two return visits, and one person with no medical history. I didn't tell him, but I'm sure they'll keep digging until they find something."
"We'll it's a good thing we're at his place. That way they won't be able to break in," I explained, and pressed my lips against Greg's forehead. "Goodbye," I told her, and hung up without waiting for a response. "You're okay," I whispered. "You never have to go back, not if you don't want to."
"As much as I complain about my job, I kind of like it. If you can get me on the drugs, they might—the hallucinations might stop and then I could, maybe work. Like you said, I might need an upgrade in cripple equipment, but I could. I can. Can I have my laptop, or some books, or something? I needa do some research."
"Not right now, Greg." He gave me a dirty, frustrated look. "You were lied to, and treated like crap, and kept in the dark your entire childhood, and as you grew up you decided that if you can just learn enough, study hard enough, if you got enough knowledge, then you just might be able make it stop hurting. Or—whatever, but it doesn't work like that. Right now, if you go online and start looking up medical articles about MS symptoms, and rare presentations, and go into chat rooms, and look up all the meds and stuff, it's gonna make you paranoid, and you're gonna feel more and more afraid, and—again, I'm sorry, but you know I'm right." He shrugged, reached for the TV remote. "Is there anything else I can get you?"
"A gun would be good, maybe if I shoot her, she'll go away for good," he said, and for a moment I almost thougt he could be serious. Then, I quickly realized that he didn't mean a single word. So I smiled, and decided to play along.
"Or the bullet could go through the non-existent person, and the wall—because these things are paper thin—and it could hit one of your neighbors, who might sue you, or call the cops, or God only knows what else. We'll make her go away; I promise. I will do whatever it takes to make you feel better," I swore, and gave him another small kiss on the forehead. "Does it bother you that I keep doing that?" He shrugged yet again. "Sorry, Buddy." Another shrug. Greg just closed his eyes again. "Do you want a beer or something?" He shook his head. "Anything in the whole wide world? You name it, and I'll find a way to get it."
"You don't actually mean that," he said, but it didn't seem like he was mocking me, mostly I think he was just scared of what I might do if he did think of something that I wouldn't give him. "Right now I'm okay with this. Might, maybe want something to eat later, but I'm still sort of…trying to figure everything out, which is really hard because you won't let me do any research."
"After we go to the doctor, you can look into this all you want. You can—I um, I just don't want you obsessing about this right now, and I know I can't stop it but I can control how much you obsess by keeping you focused on other things."
"What kind of things," he asked, his face suddenly regaining its usual color, a small, thin smile spreading across his lips. This time I shrugged, but only to tease him a little. "Would you mind helping me out with a little—not so little—"problem?" I chuckled. "Is that a yes, or a no?"
"You really okay doing that, with "Amber" watching," I asked, and he lifted his head up a little, looking around. "She's still bothering you, right?" He nodded, lowering his face back into my shirt. "You wanna talk about it? Maybe that will help." House shook his head, tiredly staring at the TV set.
I managed to get him to eat a little something some time later, but he was really out of it, and didn't seem to want to do much of anything. That evening, I called everybody I had been friends with or had spoken to in medical school, trying to figure out who we should be taking him to. Then, I managed to get a hold of the guy's number, and somehow convinced his secretary to admit that there was, in fact, a free appointment the next day, which I got for Greg. Then, I sat back down at his side, and pulled his head into my lap, softly. "Hey, Big Guy; how you holding up?" House shrugged, silently. "That's not a very good answer. Makes me wonder if you're capable of dealing with this right now, makes me think you're not holding up at all."
"I'm hanging on, but just barely. If we talk, might lose my grip and fall off the cliff." Obviously I looked confused because he sort of smiled and patted me on the shoulder again, like he was gearing up to give me another pep talk. "I feel like I was born standing on the end of this cliff, a thousand feet over a raging river, full of jagged rocks, with crocodiles and sharks swimming around the water." I sighed, and rubbed his back a little.
"Does that—must have been tough to…I'm sorry. I don't know what to say right now, so I keep saying stupid things and it seems like I'm just making everything a whole lot worse."
"You're not," he swore, clutching me more tightly. "The ledge is actually pretty big. I got room to walk around, and lay down to sleep, or whatever but this—it sort of seems like someone or something ran up and kicked me, hard. I went flying and almost fell. Now, I'm just sort of hanging over the edge, my fingernails dug into the dirt to keep from slipping. I'm trying. I'm just. I dunno, that sounded stupid, didn't it?"
"Actually, if you ask me, I think that's one of your better metaphors. Mind if I steal it?" He shrugged. I lay still with him all night, trying to be kind and gentle and sweet, trying to figure out what he needed so I could give it to him. I just couldn't think of anything.
The next morning, I made him take a shower, helped the guy shave, and picked out clean clothes without any holes in or stains on or in them. I wore a tie, which of course he made fun of, but I knew that he was mostly him covering up for feeling nervous and terrified. "This doesn't change anything," I promised.
"You say that now, but if I go blind, can't use my hands and arms and end up wearing diapers, you'll shove me in a nursing home and never visit." He limped to towards the kitchen, opened the fridge and looked inside. I raced across the room, wrapped my arms around him from behind and held on tight. "I was being hyperbolic and sarcastic. Relax, I don't think you're gonna do it." I nodded, but didn't let go. "We have any of those French toast thingies that go in the toaster oven," he asked, rubbing against me a little.
"I dunno, but since they're frozen we might wanna look in the freezer," I taunted. He smiled, elbowed me a little, and pulled the door open. "There you go, French toast in five minutes. Although if you want, I can make the real stuff for you."
"We hafta leave in less than an hour," he reminded me. I know, but I feel so bad for you that if you asked me to make you a seven course dinner, I'd probably do that. Hell, if you told me it would make you feel better, I'd probably score some weed, I thought, but managed to keep to myself, mainly because I knew that as soon as he figured this out, he would take advantage of how much I cared.
"Boy, my team's getting to be really special," he said with a fake lisp, and an annoyed tone. "Thirteen has Huntington's, Kutner shot himself, and now this…not to mention what I did to—her." I still didn't know how to respond to this, and so I kept quiet while we were in the kitchen, while he ate, and during the first twenty minutes of the car ride to the new doctor's office. That's when I said something he'd consider stupid, but which I hoped—prayed—would help in some way.
"I want you to know that, no matter what happens, you're gonna be alright. I'll make sure of that. I promise. Everything is gonna be alright." He kept staring out the window, not listening to me, not even paying attention. "Come on, Greg."
"How am I supposed to believe that, when you don't even think it's the truth?" I took my eyes off the road just long enough to give him a small smile, and to let him see that I meant what I said. Greg fiddled with the radio station, and stared back out the window. "You're not gonna—are you…that is. I don't really know what I'm supposed to do right now, sorry Jimmy." I told him there was nothing to be sorry for, but of course he wouldn't (couldn't) listen.
House was unusually quiet and well behaved during the initial exam. Dr. Harold White asked a hundred different questions, some of them stupid, some of them useful, and yet he didn't make fun of the man once. I don't know if he was afraid I might get mad at him, or because he was sick, or for some other reason. The doctor ordered an MRI, did a full neurological workup—even asking House to squeeze his fingers, and a bunch of other different things. I stood beside the machine, with my hand on Greg's foot during the MRI—despite the technician's protests—giving him gentle touches from time to time, but between the headphones he had on, the sound of the machine, and the fact that the guy was lost in his own world, I don't think he noticed any of the stuff I was doing for him.
After that, we were given a couple different prescriptions, some steroids (House made a small Barry Bonds joke, which got way too big of a laugh from White and a small smile from me, an antacid in case the Solu-Medrol caused stomach problems, pain medication in case he started to have nerve related pain—technically the Vicodin would help with that, but they help on different levels and depending on the situation one might be better than the other—and Copaxone to help manage the other MS symptoms.
"Now, if anything else pops up, I want you to call right away," the doctor told me, because Greg had stopped speaking by this point. "I'm also going to want to see you again in three weeks, alright?" This question didn't seem to be directed at either one of us in particular. We both nodded; the doctor reached to shake our hands but House didn't seem capable at this point so I apologized and helped him into the waiting room. I set up his—our—next appointment, and we went out to the parking lot, and climbed into my car.
"If you don't like him," I said, buckling my seatbelt, and starting the air conditioner, but didn't pull out of the parking space or allow him to turn the radio on yet. "We can find somebody else, maybe someone who will be better suited to your personality."
"Do you really think I'm too big of a jerk to be able to get along with him," he asked, but I wasn't sure whether or not he actually thought I felt this way. So I answered carefully.
"I think that you have a serious neurological condition, and you're going to be seeing whatever doctor you chose, on a fairly regular basis for at least the next couple of years. I want the person you chose to be your long lost twin brother, who thinks, acts, and talks in exactly the right way. I want you to be comfortable around him, with him or her. I would hate it if you didn't like the person and felt like you had to start lying about how you're doing, or what's happening to you, just to avoid having to deal with someone you don't like." Greg got mad at me then, sort of. His face turned slightly pink, his eyes narrowed, and he looked up at me like I was the world's biggest moron. "If you wanna flex your sarcasm muscles, or whatever, I don't mind."
"I don't need to, and more importantly, when have you ever known me to not complain when I was tired, or sore, or in worse pain than usual, or feeling sick, or sneezing, or hungry, or—feeling like myself? I complain about everything and I tell you everything." He was both right and wrong here. It was true, House did complain a lot, and about big and small stuff, but he didn't tell me everything. Sometimes he hid things, because he was embarrassed, or he thought he could handle it on his own, or because he thought I wouldn't help him. There were other reasons, but only one of them is important. He also sometimes hid things from me because he didn't know how big of a deal it was/ didn't realize he had a problem. Like this hallucinating thing.
He confessed that 'Amber' had been following him around for nearly two weeks before he'd said a single word to me. When he told me, I asked the guy why he had held back for so long. He said something like, 'well at first I thought it was being caused by my sleep deprivation, and then I thought it was residual guilt over Kutner killing himself, and now this…I—um. I kept trying to bring it up and chickening out.'
"But that's just it," I reminded him, patting his left thigh, gently. "You don't tell me about every single thing that's bothering you. If you did, I'd agree to whatever you say. But this is really important, House. You need a doctor you don't hate, and who you can trust, and talk to. Otherwise you are going to fall back into the habit of not telling me, or anyone, when you have a problem. At first it'll just be the little things, but then one day…" he clamped his hand over my mouth. I kept talking. "You understand why I'm doing this don't you?" House nodded, and sighed, dropping his hand. "How about this, let's not make any decisions today? We'll fill these scripts, go home, give it a couple nights. If you're in any way uncomfortable with Dr. White, then we can—we will—find somebody else. If you think you can handle him, then we'll stick with him for a while. If things work out, we'll stick with him full time but I don't want you picking a neurologist because he's convenient." He nodded, leaning back in his chair. I said nothing for a while. "As soon as we pick up your new meds, we can gonna go home. Then, if you feel like it, you can cry, or scream at, kick, or bite me, throw stuff through the TV screen, or whatever you have to do to feel okay, but you can't just hold this inside forever and ever and pray that nothing goes wrong ever."
"I know! I just…I'm not there yet. You might be all strong and amazingly good at coping, and maybe you can just cry an hour after you hear bad news but it takes me a while. I gotta—I dunno, do something. I'm not like you, okay? I'm not!" I patted him on the knee, gently and he flinched, trying not to jump out of his seat. "What did I do?" Once again his eyes looked away, out the window. "What? Did I, like, remind you of when you were a kid or something?" More rolling eyeballs. "Has she been touching you? Not—sexually, or to cause you pain, but you—sorry. If I had anything to do with it—" He cut me off again.
"I wouldn't even be sick. I know. You're one of the few people who doesn't hate me, and wishes I'd just die. But, I don't care about any of those morons. I think that's why I freaked out when you moved away. It was like you got me hooked on you being good to me, and then you were spending all your time with her, and then I screwed up and you left." He stopped, sighed, and took a moment to collect himself. "Anyway, I never actually thanked you for coming back." He hunched up his shoulders a little, head lowered, eyes staring down at the floor mats. "But I guess you owed me for making me go to the evil bastard's funeral."
"Yeah, well I guess that means we're technically even. Sort of. I mean, I've done you a million favors—and don't get me wrong, I know that you try and pay me back in your own way, which is all I can really ask," I cut myself off. "Don't make that face. Come on, I need you to talk to me if we're gonna make this work. I know. I was being an ass. Now you know how you make me feel." He flashed me a weak smile, acknowledging my stupid joke but not showing any interest in it. "Or not." I sighed, placing my hands back on the steering wheel, and watching as he fiddled with the radio preset buttons again.
"Light Jazz? You listen to light jazz? I knew you were a loser before, but this…what kind of a tone deaf freak listens to the light jazz station?" He enjoyed himself, taunting me, the rest of the way to the pharmacy and then sat as politely as possible while I was in the drive-through—save for the fart noises—while I got the rest of his new medications, and listened to the pharmacist drone on about the side effects of each one, and how he shouldn't mix this with that, and reminded us not to reuse the needles (that comment caused House to break out in a fit of childish giggles, but I managed to keep him under control for the most part) and a bunch of other stupid warnings that two doctors didn't need to hear. "Hey, idiot—and it's important you understand exactly why I call you idiot, but we'll get to that later—I'm a doctor," he finally had to say to the voice on the other side of the window. "I went to medical school. You may have heard of that place; you probably flunked out of it before getting this crappy job. Now the M.D. at the end of my name doesn't stand for most desirable, it means I actually know what Multiple Sclerosis is, what it does, and I understand how these meds work better than you do. And I definitely don't need someone who's IQ is probably less than my shoe size to remind me of the danger of dirty needles!" I paid for the meds, trying not to look too embarrassed, and we left. "How come you didn't yell at that guy? I'm not always gonna have the strength to do stuff for myself." He started smiling once again. I knew what was coming and was helpless to stop it. So, I decided to just sit back, relax, and enjoy his rant.
"I'll get you started," I said, playfully. "You know—just on the talking thing. I'm not gonna get you all wound up and horny in the car, not right now." He grunted. "So, speaking of not having the strength to take care of yourself…"
"Well, you know the human body is a fascinating thing. You got stuff coming out of virtually every hole, socket, and gap in it, especially during sleep. You snore, drool, sweat, occasionally ejaculate, or urinate, if you've got a cold there can be leakage pretty much all over from that. Not much you can do about the other stuff; especially if my bladder craps out, but…I'm not 12. Shouldn't need to get up in the middle of the night to change the sheets," he explained. I smiled, patting him on the arm, very gently. He didn't seem as bothered by it this time. We had already parked the car out in front of his building, and were once again sitting in the front seat talking to but not looking at each other. "So, I might look totally pathetic, but maybe we don't hafta stop having sex, and stuff. Unless one of us meets someone prettier, in which case all the rules go out the window." I wanted to say something like, are you kidding, I've never been more in love with you, never wanted to be with you more, but quickly realized just how stupid that was. House delighted in pointing out my mistakes, foibles, errors, and screw ups.
It was true, I loved him, and I loved taking care of him almost—if not just—as much. Greg, however, saw this as a form of weakness, and so you can understand why I didn't let him see how happy fawning over him was making me. The man absolutely loved to tell me that I only liked damaged, needy people that I only ever cared about being there for, supporting, and healing people. Only now, he had an incurable disease, and was going to get weaker and needier than ever. He would never stop needing me, or my care, or my love. His being sick was good for both of us. He got all the things he needed from me and I got to focus all my love and energy (which was more than enough to strangle most people) on him, and as a result, would never get bored of, find someone who needed me more than, or cheat on him.
"That's never going to happen again," I swore, but of course he still didn't believe me. "You're exactly what I've always wanted, needed, somebody I can't cure, and someone who will never bore me. I helped him inside, and the two of us sat on the couch while I took out his meds and started getting them ready for his next dose.
"What's gonna happen to me now," he asked, as I gave him a glass of water to take the pills with, and started to prepare the Copaxone. He took the pills, watching me and rubbing his eyes tiredly. "I dunno if I want that one. I don't like injections."
"You need this one more than the others. I'll do it, okay? I have a real soft touch," I promise. "As for the other thing, I don't know," I confessed, even though I didn't think it was the best answer. He needed to be comforted, he needed to be held, and told that everything was going to be all right. Only, if I told him the lie, he'd stop trusting and listening to me. He needed a lie, but wanted the truth. So, I gave him what he wanted. "If you take your meds the way you're supposed to, the chances of a major episode—okay, you already know that, and don't care. How about this? There's no way to know exactly what effect your disease will have on your body. I know, I'm sorry; I wish there was more I can do." Greg nodded, laying his head on my shoulder. "Something wrong?"
"Itchy," he explained, but whether he was exhausted or just emotionally incapable of handling the situation any longer. He didn't' usually give out one word responses, regardless of the situation. He loved to tell people when he knew something; he loved to show off. It made him feel big and strong, in a world where he was completely powerless. Poor guy, I thought, kissing his hair. "And tired." I nodded, rolling his sleeve up a little to give him the shot.
"Now it's important you take these pills exactly when you're supposed to, exactly as they're supposed to be taken. You have to be really careful with this stuff. And now that you've gotta take all these other pills, you need to be more careful with the Vicodin too. You don't have to stop, just don't over do it."
"It's just gonna be tough, 'cuz I'm probably gonna be even moodier now—not because of the disease or the drugs, but just me being me dealing with…this. I dunno. Maybe I shouldn't even bother," he confessed, and I knew instantly that he'd been thinking about that for a while. I should have realized it sooner, but I hadn't. The more I thought about it, the more surprised I was that it hadn't come up earlier.
"I thought I was done worrying about you doing that for a while," I confessed. I hated to say it that way. If it were up to me, I'd never be cold or sarcastic with him when that guy got all sad and pathetic. In his normal mood it was no big deal, he was a little sad all the time but he didn't look like a stiff breeze would knock him over. Unfortunately, House responded to my treating him nicely the way most people would have reacted to my taking a dump on their dining room table. I had never thought of him as the suicidal type, but then again I didn't think Kutner had been the type either. Plus House had only been this sick once before. Although, back then he'd risked his life to keep from losing his leg. I guess that could loosely be defined as a suicide attempt.
"What, you think I'm gonna off myself because I'm sick? 'Cuz I think that it sucks to not be the picture of health as usual? Or something…I have no idea how your mind works," he mocked. "I know what I said, but I didn't mean—that I actually wanted to give up. Well, maybe I sort of did suggest it but I didn't exactly think… Maybe I didn't want you to try and talk me out of it because I have no real interest in doing…that. Just wanted to see what you'd say if I thought I—well, it doesn't really matter what I want, does it," he murmured, sort of quietly and a bit sad.
"Sorry, I'm just overly cautious lately, after everything we've been through. Ask me again and I promise I'll say the right thing," I offered, already aware that I had messed up royally. Greg didn't dole out second chances very often; if someone hurt or crossed him, and I mean really hurt him, or like I had, that was usually the end of his relationship with them. Stacy was lucky to last as long as she had, although I could hardly see her dumping a guy just a few hours after having mutilated her boyfriend, and he couldn't run away from her either. But me…I didn't wanna think about that. "Look, if you ever want or need to give up—or uh, or even you just feel like you can't do this; you tell me and I will take care of it." He rolled his eyes, rubbing his arm absently. "Does that hurt?"
"Just where I had the IV," he explained, referring to the contrast MRI from this afternoon. "This shouldn't be happening to me," he said, a good twenty minutes later. You're right, it's not fair, but then again what is? "I've been shot, beaten up, the infarction—stuff like this shouldn't keep happening. It's too much for one person. I don't think the human body is designed to take this many hits. I already lost the use of most of my right leg. How could I get MS? It'd be one thing I made myself sick. Then, I'd understand, but…I—it's so random, so stupid, so…unfair." He let out a deep but soft sob.
"It's not fair. I'm sorry, House. You're right; this sucks. You might have to go through all of the most painful, severe symptoms and the meds you're gonna have to take can cause all kinds of nasty side effects which (with your luck) you just might experience, but we don't have too many options right now."
"Yeah, sure, whatever," he moaned, no longer interested in my attempts to cheer him up. "Can I have those macadamia nut pancakes for dinner?" He sounded like he'd just asked for a six figure loan. The last time I saw him like this, he was in excruciating pain and on the verge of a breakdown because Stacy had just left him, again. I hoped we wouldn't have to go that far again, but I didn't care. I'd seen him through the worst times of his adult life, pretty much, and I'd see him through this too. "I missed one."
"One what," I asked, and for the first time that evening I really didn't know what was happening to him, had no idea what he meant, why he'd just said that or what to do for him.
"One more thing that happened to my body that was so—that sucked really bad," he finally managed to tell me. I sighed, and patted him on the arm. I knew every horrific, disgusting, evil thing that House's "father" had done to him, and couldn't believe I'd forgotten about them, even momentarily. "When, he you know…but I don't wanna discuss that right now. I just thought—if I'm gonna list all the crap I had to go through, I might as well list all the crap I've had to go through."
"Is there anything I can say or do that will make you feel better," I added, kissing his hair one more time. Greg shook his head, sniffing a little. "That bad, huh? You know, I'm not going to leave or get mad or yell or hit you or worse, if you cry. This is a big deal. It's really bad and I think you've been hoping that if you don't deal with it, you might not ever have to. I'm sorry, but that's just not going to happen." He looked extremely angry. "I know, you were wishing that after your leg that you'd never have to come to terms with this sort of thing again, that you weren't going to develop another horrible illness, but you have, and you do, so—sorry. I'm getting carried away here. It's just that I don't think I have seen you cry. Not once in the last 20 years, and doing that would be a huge step forward. It's like…it's—I dunno. I suck at metaphors," I admitted. "I thought it would help you start to come to terms with this, but maybe I'm—okay," I whispered, rubbing his back as the guy started to make louder and more pathetic sounds. Soon, I felt the wet warmth running down my neck, as he started crying. Attaboy, I thought, you're gonna be just fine. I'll make sure of it. I'd do anything for you, Greg.
Some time later, he came back around, looked up at me with red-rimmed and tired eyes, and said, "You didn't even start on the pancakes yet?" I smiled a little, and shrugged. This was more important. "I gotta take a wiz, I better smell you cooking my dinner by the time I'm finished or else I'm not gonna talk to you about anything ever again," he threatened. I nodded, helped him up and then headed to the kitchen myself.