A New Beginning

Foreman's time was first. Cuddy would let House sleep in everyday, preferring him to be well rested. She would leave a walkie-talkie on when she would leave for work, in case something happened. The black doctor would let himself in a couple hours later, and help his ex-boss to get washed up and dressed before bundling him up into the car.

Arriving at the hospital meant breakfast. In fact, the first time Wilson had went to see his best friend, he had stood by the window, watching in growing horror as Foreman wiped bits and pieces of the meal off House's face with a wet cloth, telling him about the merits of using a spoon in a stern voice.

Afterwards, the two would settle on the bed, with the older diagnostician seated between Foreman's bent knees, leaning against his chest as he watched with awe-filled eyes as the other man played on the PSP, holding the toy so that the older man had a clear view of the little monitor.

House would giggle excitedly at the game's sounds when Foreman was winning and squealed like a child when the other doctor would lose.

Chase's time meant a walk. The blond would give him his cane or his wheelchair on bad days, and the two would take a cruise around the hospital, often venturing outside or to the park when House's strength and the weather allowed it. The older man would always look around with wide-open curious eyes, seemingly trying to take everything in, no matter how familiar it was. What broke Wilson's heart was the fact that House insisted on holding Chase's hand during the walks, clinging to it at all times, not all of them for support.

Later, it was reading time. Chase brought with him a new flashy magazine each day, House listening with rapt attentiveness as he read the articles out loud, changing his pitch of voice to add dramatism or comedy. He would always clap his hands when the other closed the magazine, signaling the end.

Nurse Brenda came next, taking a very reluctant House by the hand and marching him off for PT. And though the man had a tendency to lock himself in the bathroom on the way, Brenda always managed to get him to open the door and comply. Wilson wondered if the fact they were both 'army brats' had something to do with that.

Cameron's time was next, and with it lunch. Cameron obviously took it as her mission to re-teach House the use of utensils, which always ended with a giant mess and a sulking House getting permission to eat as he liked.

When the meal was finished, Cameron would tuck House into a small but comfortable bed for a nap, and would read him medical journals, trying fruitlessly to bring the most insufferable man she came to love as a member of her family back to them. She would sit staring at him long after he had fallen asleep.

Then came the newest ducklings time, one per day. Taub's turn meant sitting still and having staring contests with a man who honestly didn't know what he was doing there. Thirteen's turn meant playing with his over sized baseball, tossing it to and fro as the doctor told him of the day's events or about their newest patient. Kutner's turn meant sitting on the bed and watching soaps together, with the man commenting loudly about the newest injustice of the show.

Lastly, came Cuddy's time. That meant going home to eat dinner, then a bath and evening activities – hitting random keys on the piano (sometimes getting a sane-sounding melody out of it), playing with Steve or watching TV till it was time for sleep. She would sit at the side of his bed, holding his hand and rubbing soft circles on the back of it as she spoke to him quietly, calmly, till he nodded off to dreamland. Then in the morning the routine would start again. There was no place for Wilson in his waking hours.

At the beginning, he had tried to see the man. There was always a distraction of some sorts though – Cuddy would tell him House was sleeping, Foreman would glare daggers at him, the new ducklings would block his path till he went away, and Chase turned from Wombat into Tasmanian Devil at the mere sight of him.

They all blamed him for this. Which couldn't have been more true. It was him who had asked House to do this. It was him who wasn't there when the second seizure hit him harder than anyone could ever fear.

And when he had come back from bereavement leave, he found his best friend reduced to this childlike state, unable to take care of himself or say more than two words at a time, not even aware that this was wrong.

The only one who allowed him near House had been Cameron, but that had been only once. She had frowned at him and sighed, but still allowed him to enter the private room. It was what he got next that left him sleepless on too many nights.

One look at him, and those electric blue eyes had filled with tears. The heartbreaking sobs that followed, the shaking hands rubbing furiously at the reddening face had been enough cause for the female doctor to throw him out and call Cuddy.

He had not been allowed closer than ten feet to his best friend since then, even when the other was asleep. And he honestly couldn't blame them for keeping him away, for putting him on the same black list House's father was on.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Then came the day of the Great Escape. One of the new ducklings had been stupid enough to leave House alone while he was awake. Upon return, they found the door open, the room empty, and the cane missing. And wasn't it ironic that House who had lost a fairly large part of his mind had still retained the ability to sneak off unnoticed, crippled or not.

As one can imagine, all Hell broke loose.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Wilson had been sitting in his office, trying desperately to will himself to sit still, and not help in the frantic Search, per Cuddy's orders. If the situation got even more serious (please, God, no), they would ask for his assistance.

To his infinite surprise, his office doors opened and House came in. Or more like slunk in, closing the door quickly before anyone noticed him.

Wilson was out of his chair in an instant, before he remembered the man's previous reaction to seeing him. Maybe House just needed a place to hide.

But those blue eyes turned to him, making the man's intent clear – he had come to see Wilson.

The oncologist felt hope rising in his chest, but he throttled that feeling when those same eyes filled with tears, House's entire face scrunching up.

Trying to keep his own tears at bay as he reached for the phone, fully intending to call Cuddy.

A shaking hand tugging at his sleeve stopped him though. The younger man hesitantly turned to face the other, not knowing what to expect of this new development, and not wanting to make it worse.

House was sobbing openly now, still tugging on his sleeve, eyes closed.

Looking back, Wilson wondered how he hadn't had a heart-attack when he understood the action, those tears. An apology.

After everything he'd done to the man, betrayed him, lied to him, broke him, Wilson couldn't believe this was it. With his mind mostly gone, House still somehow believed this was his fault. That he was the one who needed to apologise. For something that could never be his fault, that had nearly killed him with the help of his so called 'best friend'. It was only then Wilson understood the depth of House's pain and grieve.

He wrapped his arms around his best friend, pulling him to his chest tightly, rubbing his back and kissing his temple.

"No, House. I'm the one who's sorry. You did nothing wrong. I'm sorry, House. I'm sorry."

A trembling arm snaking around his waist was his only answer, but he found that to be more than enough.

With the still crying House in his arms, and whispering remorseful "I'm sorry."s over and over, a new beginning finally came.

Wilson hoped fervently this time it'd be a better one.