Summary: Wilson visits House every week after the events of the season 5 finale. Wilson must deal with House's condition as well as his own long kept secret. House/Wilson pre-slash/slash. Major S5 spoilers! Rated T for language.
Disclaimer: House M.D. and characters are the property of David Shore, Fox, ect. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: There will be six parts to this. Each part will be posted just a few days after the last one, no more than a week apart. The story is finished; I just need extra time to obsess over editing and details. For some reason this story is giving me trouble and I feel like I haven't been able to get it right.
Those Things We Don't Say
House had said only one thing during the entire drive to Mayfield.
"You'll get my mail?" He'd asked quite suddenly when they were within a couple miles of their destination.
Wilson glanced at him, but he was still staring out the window as if he hadn't said anything at all. "Of course." He struggled not to say more. House wouldn't have appreciated any extra sentimentality. He wouldn't want the verbal reassurance that things would turn out okay, so Wilson remained silent until they parked the car in front of the hospital.
"Do you want me to come in?"
He shook his head.
"I'll give you a couple days to get settled and then visit if they let me."
A nod was his only response. The rest of it was all done in silence. House wordlessly handed over his personal possessions. It wasn't that they didn't have anything to say to each other. There was actually too much to say and no good way to say it. So Wilson watched his friend walk away, knowing that it was for the best, yet feeling as if his world was coming to a crashing end. Just before the door shut House looked back out at him and he had to fight the urge to run to him. His first instinct was always to comfort people, but House would call it false hope. So he stood and watched.
Wilson kept his promise and visited a few days after House's voluntary commitment. The worst of the detox was over after forty-eight hours, but it took several days for him to keep much food down. Even after that, Amber remained. It was what House had feared, the reason he had chosen Mayfield above any other rehab facility; it wasn't just the vicodin. Wilson hand delivered House's medical records as well as the results of the tests that he had performed the previous week in their attempt to diagnose the hallucinations.
The problem with the position Wilson was in was that he knew House too well. He knew House's entire medical history as well as he did his own. All of the factual knowledge of it was stored in his memory and as each medical crisis was added to the pile he didn't have to think of it as a whole. But when he looked through the huge file, the history spelled out in black and white, it was a little overwhelming. He came to the conclusion the Mayfield doctors did; any one of these emotional or physical events could be responsible for House's current condition. With all of them combined, it was a wonder House hadn't thrown in the towel already. The physical and psychological beatings House had taken, just in the previous year, were more than anyone could be expected to handle.
After reviewing House's medical records, evaluating his mental state and interviewing Wilson about House's behavior, Dr. Beck, House's attending, pointed out the clue that Wilson had forgotten. House had gone to a psychiatrist just a few weeks ago. Somehow his mind had been telling him something was wrong and he tried to do something about it. House, at the end of his rope, consented to have his records from that doctor sent to Mayfield. They soon found that the psychiatrist, Dr. Mason, believed that House suffered from, at the very least, major depressive disorder for which he thought medication would be necessary. House had only gone there twice, but had made an impression nonetheless; Mason was so concerned about his mental state that he made notes in the file about the calls that his office made to try to persuade House to return.
With this new knowledge and negative results for every physical test Beck performed, they began to believe that the problem was predominantly psychological. Although the vicodin hadn't caused it, the long term narcotic abuse was possibly a contributing factor and even a symptom. His leg pain and drug use had always gotten worse whenever House was under considerable stress. And though House would have never admitted to being affected by such things the stress of dealing with death and loss could have been enough alone to break him.
Dr. Beck told Wilson that there had likely been small symptoms that nobody noticed getting progressively worse over the year. House's normal behavior was erratic enough that it would have been easy to dismiss changes. And, Wilson thought guiltily, their friendship hadn't been one hundred percent back to normal. He felt that maybe if he had spent more time with House then maybe he would have picked up on something. Or maybe if he had never left after Amber died, then House wouldn't have gotten this bad at all. There really was no end to his guilt.
House was given medication for anxiety and depression, but so far all it had done was make him tired and withdrawn. They had a numbing effect that both House and Wilson hated. House answered everything in one or two words and there were never two sides to their conversations. It was like an entirely different person was residing in House's body and it was then that Wilson finally tried to assure them both that it would be okay, but they knew that he couldn't promise that. If comfort had been false hope when House first arrived, it was ridiculous fantasy at this point.
But on this, Wilson's fifth visit to Mayfield and House's fifth week as a patient, Dr. Beck saw Wilson before entering the visitor's area and informed him that House was extremely alert that day. He was speaking during their session, which he had previously refused to do, and the doctor felt like they had finally made progress. After weeks of near silence the prospect of actually having House back to normal had Wilson practically skipping into the visitor's room. He hadn't realized that he had been holding his breath, hoping that House would get better. He didn't know how much of his own mental well being was tied into House's condition.
House was already waiting for him at the couch in the corner as he had been the four previous times. Unlike those times however, House looked up at him as he approached and Wilson could see emotion in his eyes in place of that dull, lifelessness. Wilson sat down.
"How are you?"
House merely nodded.
"Your doctor said you were doing better this week."
House winced and looked away. "I'm glad you're here."
"Of course I'm here. I told you I wasn't just going to just dump you here and leave."
House nodded again. On Wilson's first visit he said that he would come every day if House wanted. House hadn't replied, but Wilson vowed to come at least once per week until House told him otherwise.
"Even you can't keep it up forever."
Wilson frowned. "No, I'll do it for as long as you're here."
"I know my level of neediness is impressive, even for me, but you'll find another pet project who's just as needy. Probably a brunette with size D's. Then you won't have to make the drive every week."
This irritated Wilson. "For God's sake, House, drop it. I get it; I eat neediness. This is hard for me too, you know. But I'm not going to move on to the next neediest person in a hundred mile radius." Wilson swallowed the lump that had risen in his throat. "I will come to see you. Every day if you need me here."
House let out a humorless laugh and shook his head. "You idiot. This is your chance to make a clean break from me. You don't even have to tell me we're not friends this time; just walk out. I can't stop you from in here. You should go. Don't let your guilt tell you otherwise."
"You just can't accept that someone cares that much about you."
House rolled his eyes. "Just think, if my dad hadn't died you wouldn't have had to come back at all. You could be enjoying your life with no idea that I was in the nut house."
"I came back because… you're my friend. You know I would have come back eventually whether your dad died or not."
"Do I know that?"
Probably not. It was one of the million things that they never said. Wilson had never really explained why he left, he wasn't sure he even knew. He had never apologized either. But how on earth did they have that conversation? It so was much easier to pretend like everything was okay.
They fell silent as House stared out the window. When he spoke again it was with an uncharacteristic quietness, still not look at Wilson.
"You think you're responsible for what happened to me. Prescribing my drugs all these years, Amber, the deep-brain stimulation. You think they're all connected and that means that they're connected to you. And you feel guilty because of it."
Wilson didn't answer him. He didn't really need to; they both knew it was true. But as deep as his guilt ran, it had nothing to do with why he was here now. House took a deep breath and spoke again quietly.
"I would have died to save her. I should have if the world was fair. She deserved to live. She was better than me and I knew that. Obviously you did too."
Wilson shook his head, feeling sick to his stomach now. "No. That's not true."
House looked over at him then questioningly, as if to ask how he was wrong. But how could Wilson explain his selfish decision back then? He'd purposely avoided this conversation because he knew there was no excuse for what he did. He knew that the deep brain stimulation could kill House, but he asked him to do it anyway. He put Amber's life above House's and there was no suitable explanation for that.
"It's okay," he said. "I don't blame you." He looked over at the nurse near the door. "I'm ready to go back to my room now."
"Wait, what? I just got here."
"The doctor says you're doing better. It's the first time you're really talking in weeks. I wanted to talk to you."
House shook his head. "I'm talking because my body is getting used to the drugs they're giving me. But they didn't cure me. Unless Amber is actually sitting next to you." Wilson breathed in sharply. "Just because I talked to the shrink doesn't mean I'm better. I can't get better. It's over."
House stood and looked down at him sadly. The emptiness was back.
"I don't want you to come back here. Stop visiting. Without me around maybe you can finally have a life. Get a girlfriend or something." He tried to smile. It seemed there was one last thing he wanted to say, but he was having a hard time with it. He glanced over to the side of the room and Wilson knew the hallucination was speaking. Finally he looked Wilson in the eye. "I only wanted you to know that I don't blame you. It was my own damn fault for not being able to say no to you." He took a deep breath and looked away. "I would have done just about anything for you, Jimmy. Even if it landed me in here, I don't regret that."
He turned away, following the nurse to the door, leaving Wilson to watch in horror as it all sunk in. This was House's goodbye. He would never say anything like that under normal conditions. He would never make himself so vulnerable unless he intended it to be the last thing he ever said to Wilson. When he said that he didn't want him to return, he meant it quite literally.
But he kept going. The nurse was just opening the security door with her code. Wilson hauled himself off the couch. He couldn't let House go like that. He couldn't let House shut him out.
"House! You're not going to just give up!"
He didn't turn back and the nurse was shutting the door behind them now. Wilson reached the door, but it locked and he was left yelling through the window.
House paused briefly at his name, but didn't turn around. He kept walking even as Wilson pounded on the reinforced glass until he was gone around the corner, out of sight. Wilson turned around and leaned heavily on the door. One security guard and a few other visitors and patients were all watching him curiously, but he didn't care. The stress and emotion of the past few weeks had built up to the breaking point. The tears were flowing freely before he could even think of stopping them and his heavy breaths dissolved into sobs of fear and guilt.
Twenty minutes later Wilson was back in his car, mostly composed now, though his eyes were still red and puffy. He had promised Cuddy a phone call after each visit, so he dialed from his cell phone before even starting the car.
It had been agreed that she would keep her distance, at least during the initial stages of his recovery. Given the nature of the hallucination that brought him to commit himself, everyone agreed it was for the best.
"Did he talk much today?"
"He told me not to visit him anymore. Does that count?"
He heard her startled gasp. "Why would he do that?"
"Because he thinks he's never going to get better and the rest of the world is better off without him!" he snapped. "He thinks I'm better off without him."
"I know this is hard, but it is what's best for him."
He let out a dark, humorless chuckle. "Do you really care what's best for him? Do you really care about him at all or do you just want him to stop disrupting your hospital with his insanity?"
"How could you think I don't care? It's House."
"And that's supposed to mean something? You and House flirt and play your stupid games where someone usually ends up getting hurt and that means that you care about him?"
"What the hell is your problem?" She sounded confused and he didn't really blame her. He was taking all of his frustrations out on her because it was convenient.
"Nevermind. I've had a really shitty day. A really shitty few weeks."
Her voice softened then in understanding. "I'm sorry you've had to go through all of this."
And she meant all of it. After taking House to Mayfield, Wilson had carefully composed the story they were telling his team. He was even the one to call Blythe House and tell her that her only child was a psych patient. Wilson had taken care of it all with as little interaction as he could manage with Cuddy. He just didn't know how to deal with her guilt and fear on top of his own.
"I'll see you at work Monday," he said quietly before clicking his phone shut.
He didn't feel like talking or offering any words of comfort to her or himself. He stared up at the building where he had just left his best friend. House was all alone and terrified of what was happening to him. If he had no comfort tonight then why should Wilson or Cuddy? When he did finally start the car he may as well have been on autopilot. Force of habit made him stop and turn in all the right places and in the end he found himself parked in front of House's apartment just as the sun was going down.
He used House's keys to let himself in and turned a light on. He had come there once a week to pick up mail, but never stayed long. Everything was just as House left it, as if he might step back inside any moment, but it felt empty without him. And it matched the emptiness in Wilson. He ran his hand gently over the piano and then noticed a bottle of bourbon and a glass in the kitchen, so he poured a drink. With any luck the alcohol would at least numb him a little. The sink was full of dirty dishes, but for once he didn't have the urge to wash them. Instead he went into the bedroom and laid down. The pillow still smelled like him. It was a combination of his generic shampoo, liquor and a very faint trace of cigars that House only smoked occasionally.
This was as close to House as he could get for now, but it wasn't enough. Wilson kept replaying House's last words to him in his head.
I would have done just about anything for you, Jimmy.
Despite what most observers believed about the dynamics of their relationship, Wilson held the power and to some degree he had always known this. And a part of him knew when he asked House to risk his life for Amber that House couldn't turn him down. In that moment he would have done anything Wilson asked if there was a chance that it would save their friendship. And Wilson used it against him.
Wilson knew that House needed him for much more than free lunch and vicodin prescriptions. What House didn't seem to know was that need was mutual. They had been friends for so long that it had become a dependency, almost has powerful as the drugs. Though he had never told House, that was why he came back. The reason for returning had been every bit as selfish as the one for leaving had been; he needed House.
How long had he been in love with his best friend? Years at least. Before Julie left. Maybe that was why Julie left. He was always putting House first, thinking of him too much. Was he safe? Was he taking too many pills? Was he happy? Could he really blame her for finding someone else? Maybe that's why Bonnie divorced him too.
House would probably laugh his ass off if he knew that his best friend had a secret gay crush on him. So he'd tried to move on and buried his feelings so deep that even he didn't believe they existed half the time. And then Amber came along. She was his desperate grasp at happiness and though he really had loved her, she could only ever come in as a close second next to House.
House was right that he couldn't handle losing people. The fact that House had been in an accident that night was enough to unnerve him, but when Amber was discovered dying it was too much. Desperation drove him after that. Desperation made him ask House to risk his life. And when it was all over and the dust settled desperation made him push away the person who mattered most. "Because nobody can take from you what you don't have." House was always right.
What Wilson had stupidly not considered in his desperation and selfishness was the emotional pain that he had caused House by leaving. Wilson had made House believe that his life was meaningless to him, told him that they were never even friends. And the guilt now was unbearable. House was away in a mental facility with no cure in sight and Wilson had lost the person who had always meant the most to him.
He had already cried more today than he had since the night Amber died, but he felt the tears coming on again and made no effort to hold them back. An hour later he was asleep on House's tear-soaked pillow.