He is not cold anymore, and, somehow, he knows that fact should frighten him. House knowshis cell is cold, unbearably so, especially sprawled upon the frigid concrete that saps away any small measure of body heat no matter how he hugs himself against it. They like to keep it that way. They like to watch him shiver convulsively, rubbing his own skin raw against the harsh stone even since they took his blanket. Even after they took his sight and his hearing, he knew they were there, watching him twitch and snivel upon the floor. However, now, a dull warmth is spreading through him, radiating from his extremities inward with an odd sort of fuzzy sensation, stopping even his own shivers.
"It's a bad sign, House."
He sighs, the shuddering breath barely escaping his lips with a sharp agony and a vibrating rattle in his chest that disturbs him to no end. He doesn't need Dream Jimmy standing there to state the obvious; House knows it is a bad sign. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he is still clinically listing this new symptom out and drawing the same conclusions he knows Dream Jimmy has already found.
"You're dying, House." House shudders, but he knows Dream Jimmy is just his own subconscious coming to terms with this. "You're so dehydrated that you've stopped outputting urine. The lethargy, sluggish thoughts, and lack of shivering suggests you are slipping from stage two into stage three hypothermia." Dream Jimmy pats his perfectly pressed, white Oxford shirt and gives an awkward sort of chuckle. "You're even hallucinating with increased frequency."
The slurred name is all House can manage, but Dream Jimmy seems to understand, coming close and placing a tender hand on House's shoulder. House can almost feel the contact, warm and comforting, gentle as Jimmy touches him. It's funny almost, in a grim sort of way; without his eyes, he can see Jimmy so much better now. A part of him almost prefers it this way, staring into those warm, chocolate brown eyes that are so deep House feels he could almost drown in them.
"It's okay, House," Dream Jimmy whispers softly, stroking House's scarred cheek and wiping away a tear that House cannot feel.
A part of House wants to argue that it is very far from 'okay.' He is dying. He is lying alone, in a freezing cell, his broken body curled up on the floor in a pathetic, battered heap. He is lying in his own blood, vomit, piss, and shit caked upon his clothes and skin, producing angry sores in spots that have been exposed too long to such filth. And his ears and eyes...... oh, God, his eyes.
Dream Jimmy smiles down upon him, kisses his forehead like the Jewish momma he really is, and breathes softly, "It won't be long now."
And, somehow, after all these years, House is relieved to hear that, to know it is finally almost over. He could almost cry if his body could spare the tears. He feels himself lurching in small, painful, dry sobs at the thought. He had contemplating killing himself in the past in some last ditch effort to escape his fate, yet the wording in his contract had quite clearly precluded the suicide that beckoned so brightly to him, promising that another would take his place in this eternal hell. Yet, now, his body is giving out on its own accord, and he can hardly be blamed for that, can he? Wilson, Cuddy, the others, they will all be safe and he? He will be free.
"I know I'm really just a coping mechanism, a stress-induced hallucination but," Jimmy hesitates, a sense of worry hinted at in his words. "But do you want me to stay?"
House nods slowly and sags on the ground. Dream Jimmy curls his arms about his friend's prone form. Dream Jimmy will hold him now, until the very end. He feels the faint hint of a smile at the corners of his lips as Dream Jimmy gathers his broken body up. Dream Jimmy strokes his back as the hours progress, as each breath becomes an entirely unsatisfying struggle rattling through his lungs. House languishes in the embrace, savoring the comfort of his own mind and pretending that he isn't really dying alone and forgotten in a tiny, putrid cell.
And, then, suddenly, Dream Jimmy evaporates from around him, replaced by the odd sensation of wide fingertips prodding at his throat. House swallows painfully, his throat screaming as his adam's apple fights to work. They have come back for him, back for one last round before the end. House whimpers as hands sweep over him, as what must be voices vibrate soundlessly about him. A fist presses against his sternum, rubbing vigorously, painfully rousing him and sending him curling up reflexively against the sensation. Can't they just let him die in peace?
Those hands pry at his suit, pulling the stand issue orange scrub top up as something slightly warm but swiftly cooling graces his flesh with a metallic kiss. House flinches at the sensation as it leaves him and travels to another spot upon his chest. His diagnostician's mind reels in horror and revulsion to recognize that someone is examining him as another set of hands releases the shackle about his wrist. They are going to pull him back from the edge again for more.
And, somehow, that is crueler than anything else they've done to him.
House drifts in and out through a world of darkness and a silence so loud, it aches in his ears. He wonders if he is truly awake anymore, if he dreams, or, maybe, if he has died finally. He is comfortably warm, his stomach bloated and full for the first time in ages, and his mind feels fuzzy, hazy as though drugged to near oblivion. It is a welcome feeling, the sensation of self administered morphine and a cozy bed on so many rainy days. Even his face tingles with the chemical warmth, buzzing oddly against his skin.
Yet, a part of him knows he is not dead. It is still dreadfully painful to breathe, still agonizingly futile seeming of an effort granted the meager reward. He can almost hear the nasal wheeze he knows each pitiful draw of air produces, feel the sickly rattle to his lungs. His body hurts, throbbing with vicious pain. His wrist still stinks with the obnoxious odor of rotten meat, a scent House knows all too well as heralding the rapid onset of tissue necrosis. The sheets are crisp and overly bleached until unbearably, miserably scratchy upon his raw flesh. His cock even feels sore and tender now, catheterized he recognizes from his numerous hospital stays. No, he is very much alive, and they are keeping him this way, just as they had after they took his eyes and the resulting infection threatened to take their toy.
The realization is enough to send him hurling himself off the bed in terror. He lands on the cold, hard tiled floor in an uncoordinated and quite unceremonious heap, tangled in his own bed linens. An IV he did not previously realize was there snaps from his arm with the motion along with the dreaded catheter, each accompanied by a sharp tang of pain so crisp that it comes with a metallic snap across the back of his palette. House hardly feels it through his blind panic.
There are footsteps, coming close to him. He has become quite attuned to the staccato vibration of feet upon the floor, a survival mechanism likely, and the rushing thumps send him scrambling and clawing at the smooth tile that stinks of antiseptic. His sweat slicked hands slip on the smooth tile as he scrambles in a futile attempt. The footsteps come close, hammering on the floor nearly in time with the rapid fire beating of his own heart. His hands finally find purchase, and he flees, throwing himself forward with what little energy he can muster until his body slams into something solid and unyielding. House jumps in absolute terror, his entire body trembling before he paws the offending obstruction and finds it to be nothing more than a wall.
A hand touches him, and, oh, how it burns upon his skin. House jerks away from the touch, pressing himself further forward, cramming himself into the wall. Those fingers touch him again, prying at his arm. House shrugs it off and wraps his arms around his head protectively, curling up in a tiny huddle. There are vibrations about him, hands upon him, but House is safe there, all cuddled up against the wall like a turtle, hunched over his soft tissues and leaving only his bony ribs and hips exposed to the brunt of any attack. He can take a lot of damage that way, a lot more than would seem otherwise possible for any human to bear, and he knows this for a fact. House holds his breath there and waits for the first blow to come.
Another set of hands touch him, rubbing his arms and back. House trembles, hugging himself tighter and clutching at the impossibly clean fabric he now wears after years of filth. They have played this game before with him when they're horny and bored. They fawn over him, rub him down and lure his addled brain into a false sense of security and complacency, sometimes still drifting in the ethereal warmth of Dream Jimmy's strong arms. They rub him down like this, massaging him in a way that is perversely tender. When these strangers are good and ready, they will press his face against the floor and take him there, on all fours, like an animal. House cannot hold back the tears that threaten, crying in small, lurching sobs like a child, feeling the heat spread over his checks.
Something is tugging at the clothes he wears, and House cringes, flinching inwardly. He shakes his head, unable to protest aloud. However, he has learned the penalty for fighting too hard against them. He goes slack in their arms, letting them pull his clothes open, feeling the fight drain from them even as these horrid people expose his backside. He winces, waiting for it to happen, waiting to feel that sickly touch trail down lower and lower upon him.
It never does.
Instead, there is a quick prick upon his buttock in the fleshiest part, followed by a brief foray of flushed heat in his veins and, in time, a crushing darkness that steals even in his own sightless world away.
House lies insensate for some time, drifting in a comfortable, chemically induced haze and occasionally pulling feebly against the leather restraints lined with wooly fleece that now hold him down. He has tried, on several occasions, to get away. His captors have responded in kind, first simply drugging him to a mindless stupor before eventually resorting to a combination of sedatives and restraints. They tend to him now with a seeming clinical disregard granted that their physical contact is limited to callous touches tending to his IV and catheter only.
He doesn't like this, being so exposed. His gullet lies open for any blow to the soft tissues. It's terrifying knowing that he is so vulnerable at the hands of these strangers. House squirms lethargically on the bed in a futile attempt to curl up and hunch over himself protectively, yet the restraints hold him flat on his back. Eventually, House gives up and sags down on the bed, his body jerking in pathetic, strangled little whimpers as he cries silent, soundless tears.
This is awful, miserable. They are just extending his suffering, drawing out at length and milking his agony for all it is worth. And, if it isn't Thompson and his hired goons nursing him back to health just to drag him back to his cell, it is somehow worse. He is blind and deaf, cut off from the world in every way that matters and trapped in his own little pit of despair. How can he live without his eyes, without his ears? House feels his stomach lurching and twisting into tight knots at the thought, only spilling more hot tears of shame and fear.
Once House has exhausted himself with his tears, he drifts and sleeps once more.
House trembles from both the crushing cold and his own terror. His muscles quiver uncontrollably now as the chill returns to him, worse than before. House twists against the restraints, trying to curl up and hug himself against the bitter bold as he has on so many long, lonely nights. The straps, however, hold him tight until he tires once more and lies drained and shivering upon the scratchy sheets.
He drifts for a time, clenching his teeth until, suddenly, something brushes against his cheek. House flinches, jerking away from the touch and biting back sobs of abject horror. He hates this, not knowing when people will touch him, not knowing what they will do to him. They might be coming to drag him back down to his dark, damp and frigid cell in solitary, or they might simply be returning to tend to his medical needs, adjusting his IV, jabbing another needle in his arm, or checking his catheter. It sends his heart racing and his mind reeling with the possibilities. He gasps for air, but his lungs are too congested to meet the demands of his pure terror.
This stranger seems to understand, skirting the edge of his jaw line with one hand while the other rubs his arm in perhaps the only spot not covered in fresh bruising and scabbed wounds. It is a gesture hinting at comfort, suggesting a tenderness, and, yet, it kills House. They've played this game and danced this dance too many times before for him to so simply fall into trust and complacency as he did before. House gulps convulsively as his stomach flip flops and threatens to revolt right then and there. He twists and squirms on the bed, but the hands do not leave him.
Something vibrates in his ears. It is strange; he can feel the sound, the change in pitch and volume from the hum in his lungs and against his skull. It is a bellow; House knows this. The person touching him is shouting; the stranger is angry. House flinches and cries now, in earnest. This stranger is mad, likely at him, despite the fact that he could not possibly have done anything wrong when tied down to a bed. However, his captors have never needed a reason to be pissed.
But, then, there is an odd moment when the vibration stills and there is calm in his world, just long enough for the scent to hit him. It is a curious mixture of smells that tickles House's brain in an oddly familiar way. House lies stiff and sniffs intently as those hands claw at the restraint on his left wrist. There is something antiseptic to it, but not as caustic as this place's odor. It mingles with something masculine. After shave and, is it, Old Spice? Yes, along with Irish Spring, some kind of a hairspray and a deodorant that House has only known one person to wear. He knows this smell. Hot tears stream down his cheeks as House realizes just where he knows this aroma from, just as his hand is freed.
He reaches up, slowly, hesitantly. Mustn't touch, they have always told him, but he must, consequences be damned. He needs to know. He pokes at something solid, warm and fleshy, somewhat squishy. It is a body, beneath a button down shirt that feels impeccably starched and pressed. House's hand travels upward, finding a softly silken tie above that. He is exhausted once more from his prior struggling, but he has to know, has to be sure that, just this once, it isn't a dream, the fevered hallucinations of an infection ridden body skimming along the knife's edge between life and death. His arm, however, is already burning from the effort, and he curls his fingers about the tie to grip it and tug slightly.
House licks his cracked lips and chokes out the name with the soft reverence deserving of a prayer, despite the fact that he cannot hear it. "Wilson."
He cannot hear the response, but he can feel it as warm hands wrap about his to hold it and support it. Those hands hold him close, drawing his ruined, mangled paw of a limb close to a smoothly shaved cheek. He has dreamt about this, so very often, of Wilson coming for him, holding him close in the darkness, so very often that he is not entirely certain how this almost anticlimactic reality compares to his dreams. The sensation is heaven as he drifts back out once more.
Wilson will take care of him. House can sleep now, knowing this, because Wilson always has.
Author's Notes : What can I say? I'm a little enamored with Alex's Pencils are Dangerous. I just always wondered how a blind and deaf House knew it was Wilson before I remembered that Wilson primps more than any girl I've ever known.