Three Words

By Jackyblu

(This story was written early in the series. For the purpose of this one-shot story House is still in his apartment and Wilson has moved out and into a place of his own instead of the hotel room.)

*

House awoke from a bad dream, his heart hammering in his chest. The pain took his breath away. Oh God, no. God please! Please, not again! House scrabbled for the nightstand and the bottle of Vicodin that sat on top. He opened the bottle and threw two into his mouth, swallowing. Something was very wrong and House was scared.

He needed to call 911. More than that he needed to call James. Both his home phone and his cell phone weren't within reach. He would have to get out of bed to get them. The cell phone was closest, in his jeans pocket. The jeans were in the bathroom where he had left them last night. He now regretted not having an extension to the home phone in his bedroom.

He tried to swing his legs over the side of the bed, but another sharp stab of pain made him stop. He was clammy and nauseous. House stayed very still hoping that the pain would lessen if he didn't move. His heart was beating so hard he could feel it throughout his body. It was deafening in his ears. Was this a symptom or just the result of the blind terror he was feeling?

He tried to breath through the pain. Slow and steady, in through his nose and out through his mouth. In and out. In and out. The nausea was building again but he didn't dare retch. He needed time for the two Vicodin to take the edge off so that he could get to the phone and call Wilson. House writhed on the bed, grabbing handfuls of sheet and blanket. God, please! Please help me! He pulled one of his pillows to his pain-filled chest and hugged it. Resting it against his forehead, he mopped the cold perspiration from his face. He turned his head toward the nightstand clock. It was 3:37 in the morning.

House fought another wave of nausea. He was shaking and his jaw trembled uncontrollably. When would the Vicodin give him some relief? Oh God, it's getting worse! House was panting. He had to fight for every breath. Tears rolled from the corner of his eyes and down the side of his face. He used the pillow to blot his streaming eyes. James. James, help me! House tried to lay on his left side in a fetal position. It became too hard to breath, and he abandoned it for lying on his back again.

The pain was too much for him. He reached again for the Vicodin. He popped the pills in his mouth and chewed them, desperate to get them into his system as quickly as possible. The biter taste and nausea from the pain, made him retch, but he swallowed hard, refusing to vomit. If this didn't help ease the pain, he would take more. He would stop only when in danger of overdosing. But what would it matter? If he couldn't manage his pain he was convinced it would kill him. God, why? What have I done?

James Wilson awoke from a sound sleep. His bladder was full. He got out of bed and carefully made his way through the dark bedroom to the hall. His hand searched for the light switch on the wall. He found it at last and flicked it on, squinting in the light. He stumbled down the hallway to the bathroom. He was still half asleep while he relieved himself, and then washed his hands. While he was drying them on the towel, he thought for just a moment that he heard piano music coming from the living room. He had to stop himself from calling out, 'House?' Wilson shook his head. You don't live there anymore, you idiot.

There were some days when Wilson had to think hard to remember where he did live. After three wives, moving in with House, moving in with Grace, and then getting this apartment, things were beginning to blur. He walked into the living room and turned on a lamp. He could hear music coming from one of the neighbors. Vince Guaraldi's, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, that explained the piano. Wilson had heard House playing it while in a very good mood.

Wilson looked around the room. This was a nice place. House had helped him find it. It was situated perfectly, half way between the hospital and House's place. There wasn't much furniture yet. The living room had a sofa, coffee table, TV with DVD, both sitting on a pathetic bench/table, and a recliner.

The latter was for the comfort of his best friend, but Wilson would die before he admitted it to House. It was the only new piece of furnishing in the room. He had bought it the day he signed the lease.

Wilson glanced at the clock, 3:39 in the morning. God! Even House wouldn't be up at this hour. Go back to bed James! What am I doing up at this ungodly hour anyway? Wilson answered himself with a smirk. I am up because I live in fear of wetting my bed thanks to a certain limping twerp and a practical joke he played on me some months back.

Wilson had to chuckle to himself. Yes, he had lived in several different places over the past few years, but the best times were spent at Greg's. He looked back at the clock, 3:42. He had a sudden urge to pick up the phone and call House just to wake him up and annoy him. Wilson grinned at the thought of expletives being growled at him over the phone line. But then the image of House limping to the phone, and then being unable to get back to sleep stopped him.

Sleep was something that was hard for Greg. He had trouble settling his mind in the evenings. That's why he shut down with endless hours of TV and piano playing. He just tried to occupy his mind elsewhere until he was exhausted. That was a good night. On a bad night, his leg wouldn't allow him the rest his body needed. Then it was scotch and Vicodin until he was numb. Poor Greg. Wilson shook his head and then scolded himself. Way to depress yourself James!

The Guaraldi trio was now playing "Cast Your Fate to the Wind". Greg had always found this piece too ironic to play, but James had always liked it, so Greg played it when requested. To 'cast his fate to the wind' would mean that House would have to relinquish control, and that was too un-House-like.

Greg wasn't naïve, far from it. He knew he had no control over fate. But that didn't mean he wasn't going to give it a damn good try. "Never give up! Never surrender!" That was House. Wilson smiled to himself remembering how he had insisted that they watch "Galaxy Quest" last Thursday night. Pizza, beer, and Tim Allen. House had rolled his eyes at him, but popped it into his DVD player anyway. They had laughed, made comments and ogled Sigourney Weaver's breasts. It was a very good night. Wilson looked at the clock again, 4:21. For the love of God James, go to bed! He walked over to the lamp and switched it off.

House tried to look at the clock again. He had to wipe his eyes on the pillow to clear the tears away long enough to see clearly for a moment, 4:27. His pain level had decreased slightly. After four Vicodin it should be better than this. House wished he could control the fear he was experiencing. It wasn't helping to ease the tightness in his chest. He needed to get to the phone, but he was afraid to try to get out of bed. Motion might increase the pain again and he didn't think he could take it.

He had screamed until his throat was raw. But no one had come to help him. None of the neighbors had called the police. Damn these older, better built buildings. House had chosen this apartment for a few of reasons. The first was the address. That just appealed to his sense of whimsy, 221B. It reminded him of 221 Baker Street, and that was very cool.

The second was its proximity to work. Not too close, not too far away. The third was the building itself. The rooms had to be big. There had to be room for his piano. It also had to be fairly sound proof. He played at all hours of the night and he didn't want the neighbors pounding on his door or calling the cops when he made noise. Well Greg, you got your wish. No neighbors coming by to check on you, no cops coming to see what the disturbance is.

He was exhausted, but sleep wasn't an option. If he could have slept he would have. If he could have died…Wilson never would have forgiven him. James. He needed James.

He would have to try to get out of the bed and limp to the phone. Right now his pain level was about a seven. Still too high after four Vicodin. Just try Greg. Roll to your side and off the bed. You have to do this! You need help. He didn't move. He was too afraid. Just another couple of minutes to let the Vicodin do its job. But he knew that was an excuse to lie there. The meds were already in his system. They could do nothing more for him.

He blotted his eyes and the perspiration from his forehead with the pillow again. He set the pillow aside and mentally braced himself. Now! House gently rolled to his left side. He kept rolling until he was almost on his stomach. Sliding his left leg from under his right he attempted to reach the floor with his foot. He placed his right hand on the mattress and tried to push himself up. The pain shot through him like an electric current. His right arm collapsed and he fell back onto his side screaming. Oh God! Please make it stop! Please! I'm sorry!

An alarm went off somewhere on the ship. Wilson was just about to take Sigourney Weaver's bra off when the alarm sounded. Now awake, he reached for the alarm and turned it off. Lying on the bed he tried to remember as much of the dream as he could. He would amuse House with it over breakfast later this morning. He got out of bed and made his way to the bathroom.

He showered, shaved and blew his hair dry. Wilson remembered when he had stayed with Greg. The shaving House could deal with, but the blow-drying of his hair sent him over the edge. He refused to believe that any guy would blow dry his hair. Wilson had countered with; at least I have hair to dry. Yours is retreating north OLD friend.

Wilson put on slacks fresh from the dry-cleaners, a starched shirt and checked his closet for a tie. Which one, the yellow paisley, or the red stripe? Easy decision. House hated the yellow, as it had been a gift from his ex-wife Julie. Therefore, yellow it was. Anything to annoy House was good.

Wilson picked up his phone and hit number one on the speed dial. House's home phone rang. When the machine picked up Wilson left a short endearing message, "House it's me. If you want me to buy you breakfast and drive you in this morning you'd better limp your crippled ass over to the phone and pick up. This offer is null and void if I don't hear from you in the next ten minutes!"Wilson hung up the phone and knotted his tie. He put on his jacket and picked up his briefcase. Ten minutes, he snorted at the idea. He always gave Greg more time.

He heard the phone ringing and strained to hear the answering machine come on. "The number you've reached couldn't care less. If this isn't a problem for you, leave a message." Beep. "House it's me. If you want me to buy you breakfast and drive you in this morning you'd better limp your crippled ass over to the phone and pick up. This offer is null and void if I don't hear from you in the next ten minutes." The message ended.

James. I can't come to the phone right now. I think I'm dying. If you don't come by here this morning, I'll never be able to leave you a message.

The pain was increasing again. How was it possible that he had lived through the night? Why had God made him do so?

The nausea increased by a factor of five and he retched. House tried to roll to his side so as not to aspirate on the contents of his stomach, but there was none. He didn't have the strength anyway, so he simply turned his head. He coughed up some bile that made his throat burn and filled his mouth with a taste worse than dissolving Vicodin. But what was worse was the stress it placed on his body, his abdominal muscles, diaphragm, and his tormented chest. He retched over and over and cried tears of anguish. God please let me go. I can't…I can't. Please let me go! JAMES! He hoped for death, but prayed for help and comfort from his best friend.

Wilson was driving his car away from the hospital and toward 221B. He didn't have to concentrate on the road. His car could have gone there without him. That limping twerp, Wilson was sure House had over slept again. House was a shower, towel dry, throw on clothes and go kind of guy, in other words, sloppy. Nope, those were the exact words!

Not to say that Greg couldn't clean up well. When House was cleaned and pressed he looked like a member of the royal family, much to the annoyance of the other gentlemen in the room who had to work at it, and much to the pleasure of the ladies who were attracted by it. That is until House opened his mouth. Then he could clear a room.

Greg had it in him to be charming. He had been so at Wilson's second wedding. That had won him an all-night stay with the maid of honor, which ended abruptly the next morning when Greg became House again. Wilson remembered how House had explained the evening to him later, "Score! Double overtime. No harm, no foul." In other words, an engaging evening full of heavy breathing, twisted bed covers and him forgetting her name the next day.

Wilson took his cell phone and pushed one on the speed dial, and thought again for the thousandth time, what does it say about me that I have placed Greg's number a priority above the hospital, and my parents? He knew that the same was true for Greg. Wilson was number one on House's cell and home phone. I guess that speaks to our screwed-up friendship. Wilson smiled as the phone rang.

"The number you've reached couldn't care less. If this isn't a problem for…"

Yeah, yeah, "House pickup this damn phone! All right you limping twerp, I'm coming over there and drag you out of bed! And I am tossing out whoever you're with so tell her to get dressed pronto! Unless she has great breasts, then tell her to take her time. Uh…wait. Crap! House my pager just went off. Patient crisis. Look, I'll see you at work, we'll get coffee."

Wilson made a couple of left turns and headed his car toward Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital and away from the residence of his best friend.

House was soaked with cold perspiration. He shook uncontrollably with cold, agony and fear. The pain had increased as the Vicodin of the earlier hours faded away with the dawn. House tried to reach for the bottle on the nightstand, with the full intension of emptying it. It had been a fresh bottle a day ago.

There were eighteen pills left, eighteen times five milligrams of Hydrocodone, ninety milligrams should put an end to this. Nine thousand milligrams of acetaminophen was the added bonus, the over-dose his colleagues had always suspected was coming his way. He wouldn't disappoint them. Would they even perform an autopsy? Wilson would. He wouldn't just assume that I took the whole bottle for no reason, no matter what anyone else thought. He'd do it to ease my mother's suffering.

Mom. God, I wish I could see her again. I'd like to tell her I love her. I'd tell dad to go to hell. This is my happy life pop; lot's to be grateful for. It was getting harder to breath.

The ringing of his home phone caused him to lie still, concentrating hard to hear the message being left by the caller. It had to be James!

"House pickup this damn phone! All right you limping twerp, I'm coming over there and drag you out of bed! Thank God! House smiled exhausted through his tears. And I am tossing out whoever you're with so tell her to get dressed pronto! Unless she has great breasts, then tell her to take her time. Uh…wait. House's face froze in anguish. Crap! House my pager just went off. Patient crisis. Look, I'll see you at work, we'll get coffee."

The last of his hope died with the message. He looked at the nightstand again. The clock flashed 7:58; add twenty minutes for the medication to go through is system, time of death, 8:18 a.m. He reached for the bottle but exhaustion and the shaking of his limbs caused him to tap the bottle over onto its side. He couldn't stop it when it rolled across the nightstand and onto the floor.

Suicide was not the fate that God had intended for the great Gregory House. The ultimate score, God four, House three. He panted a hysterical laugh. Irony always amused him. He thought of that line from Staind's 'It's Been a While", "I've gone and _______ things up again". He began coughing, and tasted blood in his mouth. Diagnosis confirmed, a pulmonary embolism. He had thrown a clot from his leg and it was lodged in his lung. An agonizing death was imminent. God please!

The family of a terminal patient had just thanked James Wilson again. All he had been able to do was make the patient as comfortable as possible and convince the family that it was time to stop and let nature take its course. No more heroic measures, and they had thanked him for it. He had days when just a simple thank you from a merchant or at a coffee shop made him cringe. He was beginning to associate the two words with death.

House would be handing him another ten over coffee today. It was their bet. One sided admittedly, a sucker's bet. House had been thanked a total of nine times. Now if they had bet on how many times he got hit, then it would have been a bit more even. If I had to give House a twenty for every time a patient's loved one attacked him, I'd have to work a second job.

Wilson smirked, and looked at his watch, 10:30. The twerp should be in his office looking for a distraction, a good time for coffee and a recounting of his 'Sigourney Weaver' dream. Wilson walked to the office of Diagnostic Medicine and opened the door. House's three young fellows sarcastically referred to as the 'ducklings' looked up expectantly. "Where's House?" Chase asked him out loud, Cameron said it with her eyes, and Foreman with the tight disgusted look on his face. Wilson glanced at House's office even though he knew he wasn't there and asked, "He didn't call?" Oh Jesus!

Wilson was moving toward the door without realizing he was doing so. He was through it while a mild panic was taking over his hearing and motor skills. He didn't answer the young doctor's questions, what ever they were about House. His legs kept him moving toward Cuddy's office and his hand was fumbling for his cell phone. All automatic, no thinking involved.

He couldn't think. There was no room in his head for anything but the worry that had taken over. He pushed two on his cell phone and heard House's cell phone ringing. It went to the voice mail, 'This damn well had better be an emergency, leave a message or hang up!'

"House! It's Wilson, and you'd damn well better call me!"

He reached Cuddy's office and burst right in. "Have you heard from him?" Cuddy asked Wilson as Wilson asked Cuddy. "No," came the answer again in unison. Crap! House always shows up for work. He turned for the door.

"Wilson? Where are you going?"

He gave her the look House always reserved for idiots and do-gooders. She waved her hands as a sign that she was rescinding the dumbest freaking question she had ever uttered. Wilson flew out the door.

No final answer and that ticked House off. Either there was no God, and asking him to end his suffering was futile, or there was a God and He completely hated him. House really would have liked to know one way or the other.

The scientist in him was more comfortable with the notion of a God-less universe. The dying man being slowly tortured while lying in his own sweat, tears and sick was still hoping for a miracle. That miracle would be to finally pass out and never wake up again.

He was too exhausted to be frightened anymore. He had no strength left for it. It would infuriate the hell out of James if House left him without a goodbye. But, House had said goodbye a year ago, Wilson need only open the book.

Within the pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ode to purest observation and deductive reasoning was House's farewell to him. Placed inside his copy of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, between The Adventure of the Crooked Man and The Adventure of the Resident Patient was an envelope that contained everything House had meant to tell James over all their years of friendship. In it was a single sheet of paper with three words written in House's hand. The second word, he had underlined. This was the 'emotion' letter.

House had left the practical 'business' letter to James in his piano bench. That letter contained his final wishes, what to tell his mother, what to do with his belongings, etc. That part was completed. All that was left to do now was the not so dramatic exit.

He looked at the ceiling as his heart spoke to a deity he didn't believe heard because he wasn't there. I can't do anything more. I can't scream anymore. I can't be more frightened. I can't feel more pain. I can't seem to die. I can't be forgiven. I can't think why.

House closed his eyes and the final tears rolled down the sides of his face. He held the pillow against his chest and it became everyone he ever cared about and prayed would think of him.

Wilson stopped the car and was out the door without looking for traffic that might come by and create a sudden opening in the Department of Oncology. He was fumbling for his key to House's place as he ran up the walk. He nearly dropped them in his haste to insert the proof of Greg's ultimate trust into the lock.

House didn't want to believe. If he believed he would have to hope. It was another, 'I can't', on his list. Hope was cruel. Hope cheated and betrayed. He wasn't going to be deceived again. He did not just hear a key in the lock of his door. Then why has my heart rate just increased? Why am I straining to hear the door open?

Wilson almost threw the door open. What stopped him was the slight possibility that House really was fine. If he was, Wilson was going to rid the universe of the most arrogant, infuriating, jerk he had ever given a damn about. "House!"

James. "JAMES!" Though screamed in his mind, it came out as an agonized gasp.

Wilson ran into the bedroom and collapsed on his knees beside the bed. "Greg."

House smiled and wet his lips with the tip of his tongue. He exhaled.

"You heard me. I waited. I wanted to see you."

He coughed hard and fought the agony inside his body. The blood colored his lips and the beard on his face. The tears followed the track made down the side of his face. He struggled for those few precious breaths that would keep him with James. Just a little longer. I can't leave him yet. Please let me have some comfort before it ends. Give us a few minutes.

Jesus! Jesus freaking Christ! Wilson had his cell phone in his hand and hit three on the speed dial. When the hospital operator came on he identified himself and demanded an ambulance be sent for a member of the hospital staff, that the ER be notified to be ready because he, Dr. James Wilson was coming in with an emergency patient, Dr. Gregory House. He then told the operator to page Dr. Lisa Cuddy to call his cell phone number stat! He terminated the call and focused all of his attention on the man lying on the bed.

"Greg how bad is it from one to ten?"

"Nine", he gasped. House closed his eyes and coughed again. James!

Wilson took his pulse. Too fast, too damn fast! He went from the bed to House's dresser where he knew Greg kept a stethoscope just for giggles. It amused the ladies he entertained when playing "doctor".

He placed it against Greg's chest and closed his eyes as he listened. Tachycardia, the heart raced due to pain that was too great for his body to endure. Wilson looked at the nightstand for the Vicodin; when he didn't see it he was alarmed, and then he noticed it on the floor and reached down to pick it up, his mouth dry. It was nearly full. God Greg, how long have you suffered like this? All night? I never should have moved.

"Greg, where is it? I need to get your pain under control. Where is the box? Greg!"

House moved his eyes to Wilson's face. Yes, please take away my pain. "Top. Bookshelf." He gasped out the two words and closed his eyes.

Wilson knew where to look now. He knew Greg better than anyone alive. The same was true in reverse of course. No, not really. James could never let that happen. If Greg knew everything, Wilson would no longer intrigue him. Puzzle solved he would grow bored and move on. That was simply unacceptable in the life of James Wilson. There must always be a House to come home to.

Wilson dragged over a chair and climbed up. He found it right away, the grey metal box behind the copy of 'Holmes'. In spite of everything, he had to smile. Leave it to House to hide a morphine kit behind a book devoted to the intellectual exploits of the greatest fictional, drug addicted crime diagnostician of all time. He pulled the box down but accidentally dislodged Sir Arthur's tome knocking it to the floor, where it fell open to a place Greg had marked with an envelope.

In his haste to return to the bedroom, he nearly ignored the book and it's contents, then he noticed that his name was printed neatly on the front of the standard size white envelope. Curiosity made him pick it up. Haste made him shove it into his pocket. He rushed back to the bed and gently took Greg's arm. He placed the tourniquet around the upper left arm and used an alcohol wipe to cleanse the injection site. He carefully measured the dosage into the syringe and gave the injection. Wilson removed the tourniquet and went into the bathroom to dispose of the used items. His cell rang, Cuddy.

"What the hell does stat mean to you damn it!"

"I got three stat messages! I took them in order. I take it you found him and your cursing means he's in bad shape."

Wilson softened his tone; "He suffered all night with pain in his chest at a scale of eight or more. He's thrown a clot, Lisa."

He called me Lisa. House. Oh my God! "Pulmonary embolism. I'll have an OR standing by." She hung up the phone and allowed herself one moment to feel, one moment to permit a tear, one moment to acknowledge the hurt in her stomach. Hold on House, if you can.

Wilson returned and sat on the bed next to House. He knew instinctively what was needed. Not the doctoring part, the caring part. He gently cradled Greg in his arms. He watched the rise and fall of his chest and noticed that although it was labored it was less desperate. He could feel House's body relaxing somewhat. You twerp. Why does crap always seem to happen to you? You are the very definition of bad Karma.

House coughed peppering blood on the pillow he used as his comfort before James' arrival. Wilson supported him and rubbed his back until the hacking ceased.

"Soon Greg. They'll be here soon."

The coughing subsided for the moment. Every breath House took was fresh pain to be unearthed and examined. Fortunately, the morphine dulled his senses enough that each new agonizing discovery was simply tossed onto a pile as if he were a careless anthropologist looking for something better. He'd get to those shards later. Not worthy of his time right now. Now he had what he wanted. The pain was receding and James was here. If he closed his eyes now, it would be all right. The cosmic, all right. The absolution, all right. The James Wilson, all right. House completely relaxed in Wilson's arms and waited for it to be all right.

You'd better not think of leaving me now. We're going to beat this thing. I know you're tired. I know you've fought longer than anyone had a right to demand you to. I'm just asking you to stay with me a little longer. That's what he thought. Those were the thoughts of James. Wilson, however informed the friend in his arms, "House, I reject your right to die! You damn well had better not leave me you limping twerp!"

Think you know a guy. I guess it's not 'all right' with Wilson.

"Not-going-any-where", he huffed. The sound of a siren interrupted. "Damn-had-a-speech-ready," he panted.

"Shut up you idiot." Wilson murmured affectionately.

"Mor-on", House breathed.

"Jerk." Wilson grinned.

"En-abl-er," House smiled slightly.

"Twerp." Wilson tilted his head and met House's eyes, saying with mock seriousness, "I think we're out of sync here."

"Sor-ry. Want-to-re-start?" He puffed.

"No time. Our ride is here."

Wilson eased himself off of House's bed and hurried to the door to admit the paramedics. A curious neighbor walked up, "Is there something wrong with Dr. House?" Wilson closed the door in the man's face.

"This guy's really out of it. Did he OD?" the tech asked.

"This guy is Dr. Gregory House, I am his physician, Dr. James Wilson. He has a pulmonary embolism in the right upper lobe. The patient has been administered morphine for the extreme pain. We," he pointed at House and himself, "both concur on the diagnosis and the administering of pain medication. If we need a third opinion, we'll let you know."

"Ea-sy-big-guy. Don't-tick-off-the-people-who've-come-to-help-me." House managed to wink at Wilson. The expression said; 'You are so me right now'.

The paramedics did a more than adequate job of moving House onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. Wilson climbed in and called Cuddy to let her know that they were on their way. She would be in the ER waiting. As if anyone could stop her.

House was lying quietly, while the paramedics checked his vitals. They would be at PPTH shortly and for a few minutes, Wilson had nothing to do. His mind meandered as minds have an irritating habit of doing when you're very troubled or tired, or both. It made a quick stop at the book lying on the living room floor. The letter. Wilson reached in his pocket and then cast a guilty look at House. He had no doubt that Greg had meant for him to find this sometime in the future, but as of this moment the future was still an open question. Wilson decided to 'cast his fate to the wind'.

He opened the envelope and unfolded the paper. His eyes stung with tears when he read the three words House had written. He had underlined the second one. House meant every word, and James was touched to the point of profound pain. You twerp. You limping twerp. He folded the paper and returned it to the envelope. He looked at House. So do I.

The stop at the ER was almost procedural; a quick history from Wilson, IV line inserted, oxygen given, Cuddy hovering anxiously, House trying to thank her for bringing the 'twins' by for a visit, then passing out and scaring the crap out of everyone. He opened his eyes and James half expected him to say, 'Psyche!'

The move to the OR was a blur. Wilson had a couple of clear memories. Cuddy kissing House on the forehead. House just had to live to hold that over her head for an uncomfortably long time. He recalled taking Greg's hand and squeezing it adding a promise that he would see him in recovery. His next memory was sitting in the observation area next to Cuddy.

He looked over his shoulder and was slightly surprised to see doctors Cameron, Chase and Foreman. He wasn't surprised that they were here. 'Dad' was sick after all. He had no recollection of them coming into the room. They must have said something to him, right? Maybe not. Maybe they didn't want to bother the 'adults' with questions.

He glanced down and was surprised again. He was holding Lisa's hand. When had that happened? She squeezed his hand not because she was trying to comfort but because something had happened in the operating room that had bothered her.

Wilson immediately focused on the monitors. He could feel the 'ducklings' leaning forward in their seats. He saw a subtle increase in activity from the doctors and nurses below. Well-rehearsed procedures used during emergencies.

No! Greg's heart rate was dropping. Not again! God please, don't let him die now!

Wilson couldn't just sit there while House gave up. He got to his feet and went to the window placing a hand on the glass. Don't you do this to me! Don't you try to leave me again! I read it Greg, and I feel the same way. Please stay here a while longer. Thirty or forty years should do.

He looked at the monitor again and saw the heart rate stabilizing and the numbers improve. Wilson rested his head on the glass. The surgeon looked up and nodded at Wilson, who acknowledged with a nod of his own and a mouthed thank you. It was done.

House opened his eyes and saw the only person in the room that he wanted to see. Wilson glanced up from a book that House had leant him ages ago. 'The Liar', by Stephen Fry.

Wilson had smirked at the title and asked, "Is this what shaped your opinion on human nature?"

House had smirked in return, "Read it and find out."

House had awakened to the sound of Wilson chuckling and making comments to the pages as if the author or characters would hear his admonishments. "That was very naughty, shame on you Adrian."

House arched an eyebrow at his best friend and savior. "Like it?"

"It's dreadful," Wilson replied not lifting his head completely absorbed in the page he was reading.

"Give it back then."

"Not finished."

"You said it was dreadful."

"I want to see if it gets worse."

"You like it."

"I promised you I'd read it."

"That was a year ago."

"Still kept my word." Wilson sighed. "There is no statute of limitations on promises."

"Yes there is." House replied gravely. "They expire the day the one promised dies. We got close again didn't we?"

"Yeah. Any chance that you might promise not to do this again, almost die I mean?"

"Can't promise that. The 'Big Guy' upstairs seems to have it in for me. I will promise to place my cell phone on the nightstand when I go to bed."

"No you won't. Just get a couple of extras and place them in every room of your place. And charge them for crying out loud! They are not meant to be disposable!"

"Is this what you meant by 'I'll be there when you wake up'?" House asked in exhaustion.

"Yup, more than prepared to gripe at you. We're you expecting something else?"

"Guess not."

"Tired?"

"Yeah."

"Get some more sleep. I'll be here."

"Promise?"

"Yeah."

"Okay."

House closed his eyes and returned to sleep. Wilson got up and checked the monitors and IV line. When he was satisfied that all was well, he returned to his chair, placed his feet carefully on the bed and took a sip of now cold coffee, returning to the book. House was so right. It was laugh out loud funny, and Wilson had dearly needed to laugh this time. He'd enjoy throwing quotes back and forth with Greg when he was better.

Dr. Lisa Cuddy opened the glass door to the room.

"How is he?" She came in the rest of the way.

"Sleeping. Everything looks good."

"He has more lives than a cat. I can't believe he endured that pain for an entire night. It should have killed him."

"He's stubborn. He wouldn't leave without saying good bye." Wilson looked at House the entire time he said this though he addressed his remarks to Cuddy.

She snorted a laugh, "Stubborn is his middle name." She smiled at Wilson, "No really, it is! Gregory Stubborn House."

Wilson smiled at her. She pulled something white out of her lab coat pocket.

"You dropped this when you jumped up and went to the observation window."

She squeezed his arm and handed him the envelope, gave him another smile and left the room.

He knew she hadn't read it. She was too classy for that. It was private between Greg and himself. He opened it and read the three words that meant everything. It was everything House felt about him and everything he felt for House. No platitudes, nothing profound, nothing dripping with sentiment and prose, just a simple declaration between them, just three words that would link them to the end.

I do care.

Wilson smiled and put the treasured letter away.