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A/N: Written for the 50 Ways to Hurt Your Wilson challenge at sick!Wilson on LJ. Prompt 3. Anaphylaxis.
"Wilson's gone home sick."
Lisa Cuddy looked up from her desk to find her star diagnostician staring at her. "Okay," she replied, leaning back in her chair and waiting to see what kind of show House would put on for her.
"Okay," he agreed, turning to leave and stopping only when she called out.
"House, wait!" She stood and walked around her desk. "That's it?"
He shrugged. "You were in a meeting when he left so he wanted me to tell you."
"Aren't you going to start listing all the reasons why you need to go home and take care of him?"
"It's just a cold."
Cuddy suspiciously narrowed her eyes. "Anytime Wilson so much as sneezes, you try to use him as an excuse to ditch work."
House frowned, a bemused look crossing his face. "I thought you wanted me to be more responsible. Was I wrong?"
"God, no. I'm enjoying the new, semi-improved Doctor House." She waved her hands around her. "We all are. But Wilson is…" She lowered her voice, glancing past House to make sure no one was within earshot. "He's your partner now. I thought you'd be even more concerned."
House sighed and stared up at the ceiling. "I told Wilson we shouldn't have told you."
Cuddy smiled fondly, remembering how delighted Wilson had been when he'd dragged House into her office and announced his and House's relationship had moved beyond friendship. Cuddy had been touched that she was the first, and as far as she knew, the only one they had confided in. If it had happened a few months before, she had no doubt she would have been painfully jealous, but she'd found happiness with Lucas and was thrilled her two friends had found the same thing in each other.
"You're scarier than usual when you smile like that without saying anything."
She shook her head and put her business face back in place. "Seriously, if you need to go home early, that's okay. Just make sure your team can reach you."
"Seriously," House mimicked her voice. "It's just a cold. Nothing dangerous unless you think tissue usage is a major contributor to global deforestation. Now, can I get back to doing my job? You know, the thing you pay me to do?"
"No." Cuddy sat on her couch and motioned for House to join her. "What's the real reason you don't want to go home?"
"I told you-"
"You're full of it," she cut him off, a triumphant grin appearing on her face as a pout appeared on his. "Talk to me."
"It's just… Wilson can be really annoying when he's sick."
Cuddy laughed and rolled her eyes. "Everyone is annoying when they're sick. You more so than anyone else, and yet I seem to remember a certain someone always being by your side."
"Wilson thrives on being around needy people."
"He thrives on being around you," she insisted before reluctantly adding, "and needy people. But you're the one he loves; the one he's always been there for."
House fiercely glared at his boss. "Are you saying I'm not there for him?"
"Of course you are, when it comes to the big things. That's why there was a chair with your butt imprint on it in Wilson's room after the whole Tucker fiasco." Cuddy gently placed a hand on his shoulder. "But when you move from friends – even best friends – to partners… Sometimes it's the little things we do that speak the loudest."
House frowned as he nervously tapped his cane on the floor. "I've never been much of a 'little things' kind of guy."
"I know." Cuddy rose from the couch and crossed back to her desk, opening a drawer and pulling out a cardboard box. She handed it to House with an encouraging smile. "Start small."
"Tea?" he questioned as he studied the box.
"Chamomile. My mother always made it for me when I was sick. It made me feel loved and I bet it will do the same for Wilson." Sensing his continued apprehension, she sighed. "Just try it, House. What's the worst that could happen?"
Wilson groaned as one of his lungs tried to escape his body. Satisfied it was going to remain anchored for the time being, he grabbed a tissue and carefully wiped his sore nose. He hadn't dared to look in a mirror, but he suspected he could currently give Rudolph a run for his money. He carefully dropped the tissue into the bedside wastebasket, pulled the covers back up to his chin, and enjoyed the sound of… silence.
He knew it wouldn't last, of course. Whenever his immune system let him down, there was a certain inescapable pattern to his recovery. It would start with House appearing, out of the blue, to regale him with an epic tale of how he'd conned Cuddy into letting him come home to look after his best friend. When Wilson failed to be impressed, House would change tactics, berating him on how he wasn't really all that sick anyway and it didn't seem fair that only one of them got to have a day off. When Wilson continued to 'cling to the sick guy routine', House would pull out his ultimate weapon – the biggest, loudest sporting event he could find on television. Wilson would finally admit defeat, proclaiming a miraculous recovery as he fled to the kitchen under the guise of satisfying an appetite he didn't possess. And to finish the whole thing off, House would suggest, "As long as you're in there, grab me something to eat, too."
Wilson knew that House's childish, seemingly insensitive actions were simply his way of masking concern for his well-being, a trait he had discovered in the early days of their friendship. Throughout the years he'd come to accept that he would never receive a kind word or gentle touch for comfort, and settled for the inevitable practical jokes and insults that somehow proved to be almost as comforting in their own way. When he and House had moved their relationship beyond friends to life partners, Wilson had held out hope things might change. But ultimately, Wilson realized that House would always be House and, for better or worse, that was why he loved him so much.
And so Wilson never told House what he wished would happen when he was sick. How he would like for House to cradle him to his chest while he gently rubbed one hand along his back and carded the fingers of the other through his hair. How gentle kisses and declarations of love would go so much farther than prescription drugs and bed rest to healing him, body and soul.
"Honey, I'm home!"
Wilson jerked out of his thoughts at the sound of House's voice, glancing at the clock on the nightstand. Somehow he'd made it two hours before House had conned his way out of work. Deciding to be grateful for small favors, he cleared his throat. "In here," he rasped.
"Why aren't you in the living room?" House asked, plopping on the bed next to his friend.
"I was tired," the oncologist wearily explained. "I thought the bed sounded more comfortable than that monstrosity in there."
"It's called a couch."
"It's an eyesore!" Wilson argued, wincing at the soreness of his throat. "There's a reason it was only five hundred dollars."
"Hey, just because you're feeling bad is no reason to take it out on innocent furniture."
Wilson sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Look, I appreciate you coming home to check on me," he said in his most placating tone. "But I'm exhausted. All I want to do right now is sleep."
A bushy eyebrow journeyed upward. "Did you just say… okay?"
House solemnly nodded. "You're sick and you should rest."
Wilson moved his hand to his forehead, checking for a fever that could explain why he was hallucinating.
"You're not feverish," House grumbled. "Stop being such a drama queen."
"Ah, insults. Much better." Wilson glared at him and burrowed further under his blanket, feeling somewhat smug as House limped from the room without another word.
He looked at the clock, scowling as the time read thirty minutes later than it had when House had first arrived. "What?" he groaned into his pillow.
"House," he whined pitifully. "I want to sleep."
"I made you some tea."
Wilson lifted his head from the pillow, frowning in confusion as he saw House holding a mug of steaming liquid. "You what?"
The diagnostician looked unsure as he shrugged a shoulder. "I thought it might help your throat."
"That's so… thoughtful."
"You don't have to sound so suspicious," House grumbled. "It's just tea."
Wilson hated the hurt and uncertainty he heard in House's voice. He knew the act of making tea was a big step for him and wanted to let him know just how much he appreciated it. Wilson pushed himself up, leaning against the headboard and making room for House on the bed. When he sat next to him, Wilson took the mug in one hand and carefully grasped House's with his other, bringing the elegant pianist's fingers to his lips and brushing a tender kiss against them. "This is one of the sweetest things you've ever done for me. Thank you." Wilson sipped the liquid, savoring the soothing warmth.
After a moment, House nervously questioned, "Does it help?"
Wilson nodded and affectionately squeezed the tense hand in his. "Yes, it does."
"Good." House replied as he stood and headed for the doorway. "I'll be out here watching TV if you need me."
Wilson watched his lover leave, disappointed that House hadn't given him more comfort. But as he looked at the vessel in his hands, he remembered what House had once told him.
Grinning ear-to-ear, he downed the last of the tea.
House was still channel surfing when he was disturbed by the sound of something breaking in the bedroom. He hobbled to the doorway, frowning as he saw pieces of broken mug littering the floor. "If you didn't like the tea…" He trailed off as he realized Wilson was crumpled on the floor, clutching at his throat and gasping for air. "Wilson!"
He was on his knees in a heartbeat, prying Wilson's mouth open to check his airway. Seeing no visible obstructions, House leaned back and studied his overall appearance. Wilson's lips were swollen and cyanotic, standing out in stark contrast to the splotchy redness on his cheeks and swollen hands. He pressed his fingers against Wilson's throat and was alarmed to discover he was tachycardic. House attempted to stand but was prevented from doing so as a trembling hand locked onto his wrist. He looked down and found himself staring into panic-filled brown eyes.
"Wilson, listen to me! You're in anaphylaxis and I need to get the Epi Pen. I'll be right back." Hoping that the sick man actually comprehended the words, House yanked his arm free and flung himself from the room, cursing his awkward, limping gait the whole way. If Wilson died just because he couldn't walk…
He shook the thought off as he reached the bathroom and retrieved the first aid kit from under the sink. He started his journey back to the bedroom, crying out in pain as his right leg seized up and sent him crashing to the ground. House desperately crawled along the floor, ignoring the burn as his elbows scraped along the hard surface. As he approached the bedroom, he listened for any gasping that would let him know Wilson was still hanging on. However, he couldn't hear anything over his own ragged breathing, and a surge of fear brought adrenaline with it, allowing House to stand and almost run the last few steps.
Upon reaching the bedroom, he collapsed next to Wilson's unconscious form and began tearing into the first aid kit. Shaking hands prepared the Epi Pen, dropping it only once, before pressing it into Wilson's thigh and holding it there for the required ten seconds. He then tossed the pen aside and checked for breathing and a heartbeat, thankful when both were present. He stretched to the nightstand and fumbled for the cordless phone they kept there, quickly dialing 911 and demanding an ambulance be dispatched to their home. Once he was sure he'd done everything he could do from a medical standpoint, he slumped against the nightstand and tried to gather his thoughts. House's gaze drifted to the man beside him, his heart wrenching and eyes watering as he noticed how vulnerable Wilson looked.
He carefully lifted the unconscious man into his arms, cradling him ever so gently against his chest. House tenderly ran his fingers through damp, brown hair, all the while pressing soft kisses along Wilson's hairline. "Help's coming, Jimmy," House whispered tremulously. "You hear me? They're coming."
Wilson's body twitched as his brown eyes peeked out from beneath heavy lids, taking in his surroundings. "Holding me," he softly breathed with a faint smile on his swollen lips, before lapsing back into unconsciousness.
Cuddy looked up to find an exhausted House leaning against her doorway. "You told me that earlier, remember? I sent you home to take care of him."
"You brought him back to work?"
"No, I brought him back to the ER."
"My God." Cuddy stood and shook her head. "I thought you said it was just a cold! What did you do to him?"
"I didn't do a damn thing to him," House growled. "except what you suggested."
"I believe your exact words were, 'What's the worst that could happen?'"
"The tea?" Cuddy was dubious.
House pursed his lips and studied his boss. "Turns out Wilson is allergic to chamomile."
"I've never heard of a case-"
"He went into anaphylaxis," House whispered, sinking into the chair across from her. "Thank God he's always prepared for the worst, including keeping an Epi Pen in the first aid kit."
"You're serious?" Cuddy covered her face with her hands. "House, I had no idea…"
"I know," he assured her. "He didn't either. I had the ducklings run a RAST to be sure."
She dropped into her chair, covering her mouth with her hand. "Oh God… I almost…"
"He's going to be fine. They're keeping him for another three hours and then, barring any more adverse reactions, I'm taking him home."
"Tell him I'm sorry."
"He knows that," House jeered. "What I'd like to tell him is that he and I have the rest of the week off for recovery time."
"You said he was going to be fine."
"From the anaphylaxis, yes, but he still has that damn cold."
"You got her to give us the rest of the week off?" Wilson asked in astonishment from his position curled up against House's side as they lay in bed.
House held up his pinky and wiggled it. "She's wrapped around my little finger."
Wilson narrowed his eyes and shook his head. "No, I don't think so. What kind of dirt do you have on her?"
"Turns out she's a big fan of chamomile tea. Hands it out to people with sick family members."
"She gave you the tea? House! I thought you were being nice."
"I was," House argued. "Sure she gave it to me but I'm the one who had to boil the water and steep the bag."
Wilson rolled his eyes. "However did you survive such intense labor?"
"I suppose you could say…" House paused until Wilson lifted his head and locked gazes with him. "It was a labor of love."
Wilson practically purred in delight at the declaration as he tucked his head back into the crook of the other man's neck. At House's urging, he snuggled closer until the length of their bodies were melded together. Wilson soon found himself in heaven as House combed a hand through his hair, down his shoulder and back before reaching up to start all over again. Wilson didn't know whether it was his near-death experience or the simple suffering from the common cold that stirred House to lavish such affection on him, but he certainly wasn't going to complain.
"Thanks, Greg," he whispered contentedly.
"You're welcome, Jimmy," he replied, pressing a tender kiss to his temple.
Cocooned in a blanket of love and security, Wilson's eyes grew heavy as sleep moved in to claim him. His last conscious thought was that it really was the little things that spoke the loudest.