Three More Words
This is the sequel to Three Words.
Wilson unlocked the door to House's apartment and waits for him to limp inside. He picks up his shoulder bag and suitcase while House goes to his couch and makes himself comfortable. Wilson sets the luggage down on the floor and goes back outside reappearing in a few moments with a couple of bags of groceries and takes them into the kitchen. House lies back on the couch positioned so that he can watch Wilson in the kitchen. Wilson opens the refrigerator.
"Jeez! Don't you ever get groceries?"
"Sure I do. I've got a boy who delivers them to me."
"When?" Wilson asked walking to the doorway to the kitchen and placing both hands on his hips.
"Right now," House grinned at Wilson who rolled his eyes in irritation.
"You do realize that you would starve if it wasn't for me."
"Would not. I have a telephone. Lot's of delivery places in Princeton."
"Tonight, you're eating something healthy."
House made a face to show his displeasure.
"Oh grow up and stop acting like a twelve year old!"
House stuck his tongue out at Wilson.
"I saw that. No dessert for you young man."
"Sorry mom," House said contritely.
"That's better," Wilson smiled and returned to the kitchen to put the groceries away.
"I don't need a baby-sitter you know."
"All evidence to the contrary."
House pouted. Wilson temporarily moving back in had been Wilson's idea and secretly House was glad. The embolism had been terrifying. House had been unable to leave his bed to call for help because the pain was too great. He had suffered agonizing pain in his chest for several hours with no help or relief available to him. Why he had survived was a mystery to him and everyone else at the hospital. Maybe Foreman's explanation was closest to the mark. "The son-of-a-b*tch is just too ornery to die," Not very complementary but probably accurate. House was sure of one thing, he never wanted to go through anything like that again. Wilson staying with him again would give him peace of mind, yet he hated the idea that he looked weak to his best friend. He doesn't need to watch over me!
There was nothing in the refrigerator…again. God House! Why can't you bother to take care of yourself? Putting the groceries away wasn't a problem. There was plenty of empty space. Wilson kept beating himself with a guilt-bat for not having moved back in after Grace. House had asked him in a round about way. House needed him. James Wilson, full time care giver, he thought and then closed his eyes and hated himself for thinking that. Exactly what House doesn't want, someone to take care of him. He doesn't need a mother he needs a friend! Wilson pulled two beers from the frig and went back into the living room. He handed one to House. "Here."
"Is this the first course of our 'healthy' meal?" He asked taking the bottle but still being grumpy.
"You want a mineral water instead?" Wilson asked narrowing his eyes at him and trying to take back the bottle.
"Nope. Beers good!" House declared cradling the bottle to his bosom protectively.
"Okay then." Wilson sat on the couch next to House and picked up the remote.
"I thought you were making dinner?"
"I just got home from work. Can I have a few minutes to drink my beer and relax?"
House sniffed and pouted again. "Sure, just come home and grab a beer. You didn't even bother to ask me about my day."
"You've been lying around all day watching soap operas."
"Is that all you think I do all day?"
"What else did you do today dear?"
"Watched the news, and Ellen. Didn't have much choice until Cuddy released me did I?"
"No. Guess you couldn't do any chores from a hospital bed."
"Are you the one who kept my team from bringing me any cases?"
"Do you have any idea what it was like not hearing them argue over lame and unimaginative diagnostic ideas?"
"Very. I owe you."
"We'll discuss that later," Wilson winked at House and then took his bottle and returned to the kitchen.
House's eyes snapped open wide. "Uh, Wilson..?"
Wilson went into the kitchen whistling and ignored a slightly panicked House. He pulled out a skillet and placed it on the stove, and then he pulled vegetables from the crisper in the refrigerator and went for a knife in the drawer. After washing and drying the vegetables, Wilson began chopping them on a board. House limped to the doorway and stood watching. Wilson was an expert with a knife. He made short work of onions, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and spinach. He was working on tomatoes when House spoke.
"What did you mean out in the living room just now?"
"Huh?" Wilson replied purposely trying to be vague.
House raised his eyebrows at him. Wilson could drive him nuts when he did this. "The 'we'll discuss that later' comment, coupled with the wink. What was that about?"
"Oh…nothing. You want bread with dinner?" He asked taking a loaf of French bread from the grocery bag.
"No," House screwed up his face in a puzzled look.
"Why don't you go find us a movie to watch tonight while we eat?"
House had the uncomfortable feeling he was being set up for something. Wilson was being very…un-Wilson-like. Weird. If House didn't know better he would have thought that his best friend was acting like a …well, girl friend. Okay, lost a few brain cells over the last couple of days. That's the only explanation. Go back in the living room and find a movie.
House turned and limped away. Wilson had to stop himself from laughing out loud. Bad Wilson, he chided himself. Bad oncologist! Poor House. He never knew how to deal with Wilson when he acted this way. He has got to try to figure out what I mean and where I am coming from. He'll brood on it most of the night and then bust a gut if I don't explain it to him. House could not let a puzzle go unsolved. He couldn't 'let it lie'. But that's what makes this fun for me, Wilson thought brightly. And it wasn't as if House hadn't pulled this on Wilson a few times himself. Payback's a feminine canine isn't it? Yup.
Okay, this time Wilson was getting on his nerves. Not acceptable! That was House's job. Bugging Wilson was one of his great joys in life. Tossing off comments that made Jimmy uncomfortable was just…House being House, even Wilson would agree on that. He was wrong-footed by this reversal. This required some thinking. He could hear the sizzling of the vegetables in the skillet and smell the sweet scent of onions and peppers. House's stomach growled which competed with his brain for attention. Need another distraction. He sat at his piano and began playing 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' from memory. He closed his eyes and let the music take him to that private place in his own mind, the calmer place that only music could carry him. House opened his eyes and looked around the room, lost in thought, until something caught his eye.
Wilson had been humming along with the music coming out of the living room. He turned the heat up under a pot of water for the pasta then checked the vegetables now simmering in a rich marinara sauce. When he realized the music had stopped, the silence was jarring. Uh oh. He instinctively looked at the doorway to the kitchen. House was standing there with an unreadable look on his face. In his left hand he was holding a book.
"Where is it?"
Damn. Wilson had meant to put it back and replace the book before House came home. It was stupid, but he just couldn't part with the letter. The three words written on an otherwise blank sheet of paper were so important to him. "I…" What was he going to say to House? He was sorry? He didn't mean to find it? It didn't mean anything to him? How about the truth? "I knocked the book off the shelf when I was looking for the morphine kit."
"And the envelope just happened to fall open?"
"Well, as you wrote my name on the front, I assumed that you wanted me to read it."
"House," James said quietly, "there almost wasn't a later." Wilson's eyes betrayed the pain that was in his heart.
"Yeah," House said just as quietly and painfully. The silence was awkward. They just stared at each other. Nothing to say and nothing that needed to be said.
The water began to boil over. Wilson dashed to the stove and lifted the pot. Boiling water sloshed out and burned his left hand and arm. "Crap!" He dropped the pot to the floor and water went everywhere. It splashed his legs and burned him through the thin material of his dress slacks. "Jesus Christ!"
"Wilson!" House rushed over worried.
Wilson was trying to wrap a towel around his burned hand and arm. Tears had sprung to his eyes and were running down his face. He was more concerned about the mess he had made than his injuries. He went for another towel to clean up the water.
"Leave it," House told him incredulously. He turned off the now empty burner and ushered Wilson out of the kitchen and into the bathroom. House turned on the cold-water tap on the bath. "Take your pants off." Wilson pealed them off wincing. The front of his legs from the knees down were an ugly red. The burns looked extremely painful. House soaked a towel in the cold water. He had Wilson sit on the edge of the tub, and then draped the cool wet towel over Wilson's burns. He did the same thing with the towel Wilson had placed over the burn on his hand and arm. That one had begun to blister. House lowered the lid on the toilet and sat down. He looked at Wilson and closed his eyes. "Damn, I'm so sorry."
"For what? This isn't your fault," Wilson hissed threw clenched teeth. God this hurt!
"Yes it is. If I hadn't distracted you about the letter, you wouldn't have been so freaking stupid as to pick up a boiling pot of water!"
Wilson wiped a way-ward tear from his cheek. "Only you could make a heart-felt apology sound like an insult." He gave House a little half smile.
House grinned at him. "That's me, full-service. Apology and chew-out all in one."
Wilson smiled back. "Crap this hurts."
"No doubt. Do you want to go to the hospital? I think the leg burns will be okay, but I am worried about your hand and arm."
"No. Impedes your cooking ability."
"Oh please, don't fuss over me so," Wilson grinned at him through tearing eyes. "No. I don't want to go to the hospital tonight. Let's just deal with it here." A slight rose color appeared on his cheeks.
"Can't help it. I'm just a caring sort of guy," House smiled back, and then began looking for antibiotic ointment and bandages. House carefully checked the burns on Wilson's legs. Second-degree burns were painful but not too serious. He gently applied the ointment and then bandaged the effected areas. Wilson closed his eyes as he began to get some relief. House then checked Wilson's burnt left arm. Third-degree burns here. House made a face at the blistering. Not good.
Wilson didn't want to go to the hospital and that was all right for tonight. They worked there after all. Tomorrow House would be able to check it again and administer whatever was needed. Also, it would give every female in the place an excuse to mother Wilson.
House had to chuckle to himself when he wondered who would get to Wilson first. Cuddy he suspected. House would have to remember to get out of the way so as not to be trampled. There would be a steady stream of the hospital's female staff members finding their way to the Office of Oncology tomorrow. House decided to just wrap the arm and keep the dressing dry tonight. When he finished, he fashioned a sling by ripping up one of his expensive sheets to keep the arm protected. This gesture was not lost on Wilson.
He does care. "Are you angry?" He asked as House washed his hands again out of habit.
House dried his hands and gave Wilson a puzzled look. "About what?"
"It was meant for you."
"Didn't know there would be a later."
"Still, are we okay?"
"That's usually my line."
"Yeah." Of course we are.
Wilson sighed. "Good." He stood up and winced in pain.
"Come on," House said leading him from the bathroom. He had Wilson sit on the couch and helped him carefully place his feet up on the coffee table. Then disappeared for a moment. When House reappeared he handed Wilson another beer and a Vicodin. Wilson gave him a look and started to refuse. "Doctor's orders friend."
For once Wilson shut up and did as House instructed. He popped the pill into his mouth and washed it down with a swallow of beer. "Mmm, and people say you can't cook."
"I thought you were the only one who said that."
"By what definition?"
"Nice. See if I cook dinner for you again."
"At least wait until I get an insurance policy on you."
Wilson laid his head back on the couch and closed his eyes. "I tried to get one on you once. No agent in town would touch it."
"Moron," Wilson said tiredly.
House went into the kitchen. When he returned he had two plates. He had sliced the French bread length-wise and put about a quarter of a loaf on each plate, spooned the sauce and vegetables over it, and grated Parmesan cheese over the top of the whole thing. He placed one in front of Wilson with a fork and napkins. James gave him a silly smile. Yup, the Vicodin and beer were doing their job. House went and got himself a fresh beer and then resumed his seat on the couch. He gave James a doubting look. "No meat in this huh?"
House gave Wilson another doubting look, then picked up the bread in his hand and took a bite. It was damn good. He shrugged. "I guess it's okay."
"Better than okay. It's freaking great!"
"Well I added a few things."
"Bread and cheese."
"Yeah, that made all the difference."
"And you say I can't cook."
"I stand corrected. You can make breakfast tomorrow."
"Okay. How do you like your cereal? Wet or dry?"
"Out. You're buying."
"Hey! Why did we make that expedition to the grocery store if not to eat what we bought?"
"I just thought you needed an outing. Didn't think you had ever seen the inside of a real market before."
House cut his eyes at Wilson while flicking on the TV and scrolling through the Tivo listings. He settled on SpongeBob figuring that in his condition Wilson would laugh his butt off. They ate, made comments and ridiculed Squidward. Too often for adults, they would say the lines in unison with the characters on the screen.
House picked up the empty dishes and limped into the kitchen with them without benefit of his cane. He came back out with two glasses of milk and the bag of Oreos he made Wilson put in their cart. He ripped the bag open and pulled one out. Wilson followed suit. Together they separated it and removed the cream center by dragging it over their top teeth. They then dunked the two remaining chocolate cookies in the milk and ate them, this being the only acceptable way to eat a Nabisco Oreo sandwich cookie. They were each going for their third cookie when Wilson let out a curse. "Damn it!"
House focused all of his attention on his best friend. "Are you okay? What's wrong?"
"I just thought of something. I can't get this dressing wet," he held up his bandaged hand a little for emphasis.
"Right. You shouldn't."
"That means I can't do the dishes. Guess you're elected." Wilson looked so smug it should have been illegal.
"Got me there buddy," House made a show of smacking himself on the forehead with his open hand. He was enjoying Wilson's little triumph over him. You've earned it buddy. Thanks for giving a damn about me.
"Greg, I'm really tired." Wilson was having trouble keeping his eyes open.
First names? I guess that's okay for tonight. House rose from the couch and limped to the hall closet. He pulled down pillows and a couple of blankets. Returning to the living room he put them on the coffee table and then took Wilson's right hand and helped him to his feet. "Come on big guy." He led Wilson into the bedroom then went to the suitcase and pulled a pair of pajama pants and a McGill tee shirt out. He returned and laid them on the bed and said goodnight.
"Where're you going? This is your room."
"Not tonight. You'll be more comfortable in here. The sofa is too narrow. You'd be bumping your arm or legs all night." House indicated the pajamas on the bed with his head, "You need help with those?"
"I can manage," Wilson answered picking up the tee shirt and struggling with the sling.
"Right." House eased Wilson's arm from the sling and helped him remove his shirt.
Wilson looked down at the floor a little shame-faced. "I'm supposed to be here for you."
"You are," House said sincerely. He aided Wilson with the tee shirt and pajama pants. He pulled back the bed covers. "Time for good little oncologists to be asleep." He waited for Wilson to settle carefully in the bed. "Okay?"
"Yes," Wilson answered drowsily.
"Good night James."
House walked out of the room, turned off the light and closed the door. He wasn't really tired yet and his leg was giving him some discomfort. He limped to the sideboard and poured himself some scotch. He took the drink and limped to the piano setting the glass on top. He sat down on the bench and pulled his Vicodin out of his jeans pocket. He took one with a sip of scotch. He left the medication bottle on the top of his piano next to his glass. He sat for moment thinking and then smiled to himself and began to play Vince Guaraldi's 'Cast Your Fate to the Wind' knowing it was one of James' favorites. He could imagine Wilson smiling if he was still awake and listening.
An hour later House was feeling comfortable and drowsy. He stretched his back and stood up from the piano. He picked up his glass and made his way to the kitchen placing the glass in the sink. He'd do the dishes tomorrow. Then as an after thought, he turned on the hot water tap. While he was waiting for the water to warm up, he dropped a towel on the floor and wiped up the water from the earlier spill using his foot. He set the wet towel in the right side of the sink while the water ran on the left. When the water was hot he plugged the left side and added some soap, and placed the dirty dishes in the water to soak over night. While the water filled the sink he glanced at the kitchen table and saw The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes lying where he had left it.
House turned back to the sink and turned off the water. He stood for a moment in contemplation then turned to the table, picked up the book and carried it into the living room. House crossed the room to his desk and took out a piece of plain white paper and an envelope. On the envelope he printed James. He then looked at the paper for a couple of moments before writing three words and underlining the second. He folded the paper and placed it into the envelope. House placed the envelope inside the book, climbed onto a chair and replaced the book in its space. He climbed down again feeling pleased and tired.
House placed the pillows on the couch and laid down situating his body so that his right leg was toward the coffee table. Pulling the blanket over himself he closed his eyes and let the scotch and medication do their job. The last thing he saw in his mind's eye was a white piece of paper with three words written on it. I still care.