Disclaimer: I don't own them. *sniff*
Beta: The wonderful rslworks!
A/N: Written for the 50 Ways to Hurt Your Wilson challenge on LJ. The prompt was 'breakdown'.
"Where the hell is he?" House bellowed as he practically ran through the emergency room doors and zeroed in on the first nurse he saw. When she hesitated, he slammed his cane on the counter in front of her. "Are you deaf? Where the hell is Wilson?"
Cuddy heard the diagnostician's angry yelling and quickly crossed the crowded waiting room, stepping in before he could bully the admitting nurse any further. "House, come with me." She began walking to the elevators, slowing her pace enough to allow him to catch up to her.
"Where are we going?" he demanded as he glanced over his shoulder. "When you called you said Wilson had been brought in to the ER."
"He was," Cuddy nodded as she pressed the call button for the elevator, hesitantly adding, "…by the police."
"Police? You didn't mention that on the phone!"
"I knew you wouldn't wait for someone to come pick you up so I thought I should keep the worst of it until you got here without breaking your neck on your bike." The elevator doors opened and she stepped inside, pressing the button for the fifth floor.
"He's in the maternity ward?"
"He was practically catatonic when they brought him in," Cuddy explained. "But when an orderly dropped a tray of instruments on the floor outside his room, Wilson snapped."
"He lunged off the bed, shoved the orderly to the ground and headed for the radiology department. When we found him he was cowering under an exam table and…" She took a shaky breath. "He looked so broken, House. I've never seen him look like that. I never want to see him look like that again."
"So what?" House demanded as they exited the elevators onto the fifth floor. "You figured he was hormonal, so he must be pregnant, and sent him up here?"
"I gave him 2 ml of Ativan and, after he calmed down, I had him brought to a quiet, private room up here." She paused and glanced nervously at the end of the hallway.
"What?" House asked warily.
"It's his parents and brothers…"
"He was having dinner with them tonight," House told her. "It was Danny's first outing out of the hospital and they were celebrating with dinner." His stomach knotted at the look on her face. "Did something happen to them, too?"
Cuddy nodded as she wiped a tear from her eye. "The police think it was a burglary gone bad."
"Are they okay?"
Cuddy looked up at him with tear-filled eyes. "They're dead, House. The robbers slit their throats with a hunting knife in front of Wilson."
House swallowed thickly and cast a panicked stare down the hallway. "They didn't… I mean, he's all right, physically?"
"The police got there before they could…" She hesitated, reluctant to vocalize what could have happened. "…do anything else."
"So they caught the bastards who did this?"
"Both shot dead at the scene."
"Good," House said, his voice laced with a venomous tone that sent a chill down her spine. He took a step toward the end of the hallway, stopping only when Cuddy's hand grasped his arm.
"It's bad, House. I've never seen him like this. If you think he's coherent enough to take home when he wakes up, then do it. He needs to be somewhere safe and familiar. And I don't want to see you back here until he's… better."
"Better?" House snorted. "That may take a while."
"I know," she replied with tears in her eyes. "Consider yourselves on an indefinite leave of absence."
"Thanks," he said sincerely.
"I want daily updates," she insisted. "And call me if you need anything."
"He trusts you, House. If anyone can help him through this, it's you."
House nodded and limped down the hallway, leaving Cuddy to pray that he was strong enough to pull Wilson through. Because if he wasn't, she was going to lose two very talented doctors and very close friends.
"Aw, Jimmy," House sighed as he got his first look at his best friend. The oncologist was so pale he would have blended in with the bed sheets were it not for the tangle of sweat-soaked brown hair plastered to his scalp. Wilson's chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm and his limbs lay limply in their restraints. House carefully hobbled to the bed, quietly pulling a chair with him. He took a seat and gently removed the padded cuff from Wilson's left wrist so he could wrap his fingers around it and check his pulse. Satisfied that the Ativan was doing its job, House slumped against the back of the chair, and took comfort from the reassuring throbbing beneath his fingers. He'd almost fallen asleep when a soft whimper drew his attention.
"Wilson?" he called softly as he leaned close. The pale man's eyelids were fluttering as he tried to climb out of his sedative-induced haze. "You're doing good, Wilson. Get those eyes open for me."
"House?" Wilson croaked as his lids fluttered open to half-mast. "Where…?"
"I'm right here," House said, sliding his hand from Wilson's wrist to wrap around his fingers. "You're in the hospital."
"Hospital?" Wilson's features went from pale to nearly colorless. "Oh God…"
"Shh," House soothed as he placed a hand on his friend's brow. "Try to stay calm for me, okay? Just focus on my voice."
"They're dead," Wilson sobbed as he crushed the hand in his. "I couldn't stop them, House!"
"Stay calm, Jimmy," House softly commanded as he glanced at the monitors showing Wilson's vitals. "I know you're upset, but right now I need you to stay calm so we can get you out of here."
"Out," Wilson nodded shakily. "I want to go home." A choked sob slipped out as Wilson tried to roll over to face his friend only to realize something was preventing him from doing so. "What?"
"Hold on a second and I'll get the restraints off."
But Wilson was being sucked into another world, one where House suspected he was staring at two murderers as they slaughtered his family. The oncologist began yanking his right arm so hard, House was certain he would snap his wrist at any moment. In desperation, he threw himself against Wilson to hold him still as he clumsily fumbled at the offending restraint.
"No!" Wilson screamed in terror as he bucked against the body on top of him.
"Calm down, Wilson!" House pleaded as his fingers finally worked the buckle free. As the restraint slipped away, Wilson gave another frantic tug which sent his fist into House's jaw.
"Damn!" House swore, seeing stars as he was nearly toppled onto the floor. Quickly regaining his balance, House pressed his body along friend's and pressed his lips to the oncologist's ear. "Wilson, it's me! It's House!"
"House," he panted, his struggles easing but not ceasing as his muddled brain tried to sort out what was happening.
"I'm here, Wilson. I'm right here with you in the hospital. It's just us, okay? No one's going to hurt you." With every word he spoke, he could feel the tension draining out of the body beneath him. "That's it, Wilson. You can relax now. I've got you."
"House," Wilson quietly sobbed, pressing his forehead against the other man's shoulder. "I want to go home, House."
"I'm going to take you home, Jimmy," House promised, rolling off his friend's now limp body to lay at his side. He carefully reached out and gathered Wilson to him, breathing a sigh of relief when his actions were met with no resistance. In fact, the other man pressed so tightly against his chest that the bedrail behind him dug painfully into his spine. He made no effort to move or complain, though, as the only thing in the world that mattered was the well-being of the man he so tenderly cradled to his chest.
"No," Wilson answered robotically from his position on their couch.
"You want something to drink? I could make you some tea."
House studied his friend. "You want to lie down?"
"I…" Wilson's voice trailed off as he fought back a sob. "I… don't know what to do."
The diagnostician winced and nervously tapped his cane, hating himself for not being better at providing emotional comfort to the one person in the whole world that he considered a friend. He could care less about his patients' emotional well-being, which was one of the main reasons he kept a team – to deal with sad and depressed patients and families. And if the ducklings had been unable or unwilling to do so, House had always been able to count on Wilson's silver tongue to weave its magic. House sighed again, the phrase 'physician heal thyself' popping into his head. But poor Wilson was so damaged right now, that was out of the question. Cursing the fates for hurting his best friend and putting him in such an unfamiliar position, House quietly sat on the couch, close enough that their shoulders were touching.
"Do you want to talk about it?" he nervously queried as he stared at his friend's profile.
Wilson silently shook his head, staring straight ahead as a tear trickled down the cheek facing House.
"Is there anything I can do?"
The oncologist's lower lip trembled for a moment. "Make it go away." He turned to face his friend and fought to hold back a sob. "Please, House, make it go away."
House was surprised when an instinct he didn't think he possessed caused him to reach out and gather Wilson in his arms. "I would if I could, Jimmy. You know that."
"They're dead," Wilson sobbed brokenly, shifting in House's embrace so that his face was hidden in the crook of the other man's neck. "I couldn't… I just watched." The sobbing increased and House felt tears soaking into his shirt.
"Shh, Jimmy," House cooed as he rubbed circles on Wilson's back. "There's nothing you could have done."
"You don't know that!" Wilson yelled, suddenly shoving House away and rising from the couch. He started pacing back and forth in front of the flat screen, jerkily waving his hands in the air. "You weren't there! I was useless!"
"Pathetic!" Wilson spun on his heel and stared at House. "All these years you were right!"
House shook his head as he rose from the couch. "You know I was just messing with you."
"Pathetic!" the distressed man repeated, bringing a fist down to slam against his thigh. "Useless!" Another punch. "Impotent!"
House dove forward, grabbing Wilson's wrist before he could hit himself again. "Stop it, Wilson! None of this is your fault!"
Liquid brown eyes locked onto his, desperately trying to discern if House was telling the truth. "None… none of it?"
"None of it," House repeated firmly.
"But… then whose…?"
"The bastard robbers who are dead now," House growled as he fantasized about defiling two corpses. "They've been punished and you're safe now." Tremors began coursing through the wrist in his grasp. "Wilson?"
"Don't feel so good," he mumbled as his knees gave out.
House had to scramble to ensure that his friend had a relatively gentle landing on their hardwood floor. He frowned as Wilson's face drained of color and only just managed to grab a nearby wastebasket and slip it under his the sick man's chin. He supported Wilson's trembling frame as he brought up nothing but a small amount of bile, before continuing to dry heave. When his stomach stopped rebelling, Wilson collapsed back into House's embrace, turning and burying his head in the other man's shoulder. House rested his chin on Wilson's head, holding him tightly as he stroked a hand through damp, brown hair and whispered soothing sounds in his ear.
House would have been content to sit and hold him all night, but his bad leg was throbbing in time to his heartbeat and he was almost positive he would need the wastebasket if he didn't move soon. "Wilson," he called softly.
"You think we can move this to the bedroom?"
Even as far gone as he was, Wilson was apparently in tune with House's tone of voice. "Your leg?" he asked as he shifted his weight off of his friend.
House saw guilt starting to spread across the oncologist's face. "Not your fault either. I wanted to be here for you. I still do but I need to be here for you in there."
"Only you could make that make sense," Wilson said with a hint of a smile on his face. He stood up and helped House to his feet before leading the way to his bedroom.
Once there, Wilson perched on the edge of his bed, his trembling fingers fumbling with the buttons of his shirt. House watched from the doorway as patiently as he could but, sensing another meltdown was imminent, he stepped forward and gently batted Wilson's hands aside. "Let me get them."
"I'm a grown man," Wilson snapped as he tried to twist away from House's ministrations. "I can undo my own damn shirt."
House wasn't even fazed by the sudden anger in his friend's voice, knowing that unstable emotions were common after emotional trauma. "I know you can," he whispered reassuringly. "But you know I suck at showing I care, and helping you with your clothes is something I can do." Wilson met his gaze and House felt his heart ache at the confusion and despair in the brown depths. "Please let me help?"
Wilson hesitantly nodded as he forced his hands down to his sides and weakly joked, "I suppose you want to get me out of my pants, too?"
House sucked in a breath, quickly checking to make sure Wilson hadn't noticed. Reassured that the oncologist was still only halfway aware of his surroundings, he let out a quiet sigh of relief. Even in his nearly oblivious state, Wilson had a way of pressing his buttons. To be fair, House didn't think Wilson knew that he'd been harboring a secret crush on him for the past couple of years and therefore wouldn't have known that House had indeed been fantasizing about getting him out of his pants for some time. If only circumstances were different now…
The diagnostician snapped back to the present to find Wilson staring at him concern etched on his face. "Yeah?"
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he shot back, a little sharper than he intended. Then, in a softer tone, "Just worry about yourself for once."
Wilson nodded and lay on his side, sighing contentedly as House gently pulled the covers over him. "You're… You're not leaving are you?"
"Of course not, Wilson," he promised. "I live here, remember?"
"Oh," the oncologist sighed. "Right."
"But I'm also not leaving this room," House added. "Not while my best friend needs me." If he wasn't mistaken, he thought he saw a faint smile cross Wilson's face.
"Good night, House."
"Good night, Wilson."
It was anything but, though, with Wilson sleeping no more than thirty minutes at a time before waking from a nightmare with a scream that was probably heard three states over. House had opted not to sleep after the first three nightmares, intending to head off any more by keeping a close eye on his friend and waking him when he became restless. Unfortunately, the nightmares came on so fast that often House had no warning whatsoever before the screams started and he found himself holding onto a terrified Wilson for dear life. After four hours of futility, House suggested Wilson let him administer more Ativan, and was shocked when the oncologist agreed without so much as a word of protest.
Once Wilson had been sedated, House managed to sleep for a few hours and was amazed how much brighter things seemed in the light of day with some sleep under his belt. In fact, he felt so much better that his appetite returned, demanding to be sated with an impatient growl from his stomach. He hoped Wilson would be hungry as well and, after making sure the oncologist was still sleeping soundly, padded his way to the kitchen where he set about making his friend's favorite dish, ratatouille. He pulled out the cutting block and went to work chopping the vegetables he would need. He'd finished chopping the garlic, onions, peppers and eggplant and was starting on the tomatoes when he heard a rustling noise behind him. Glancing over his shoulder, he was pleased to find a rumpled but coherent looking oncologist staring at him.
"Morning," he mumbled back as he rubbed sleep from his eyes.
"You need to eat," House softly chided him. "I'm making your favorite."
"Okay," Wilson shrugged as his gaze drifted down to the chopping block.
House shook his head as he returned to chopping the tomatoes and decided a little sarcasm and teasing might be just what the doctor ordered to help Wilson get back to normal. "You could be a little more enthusiastic about me cooking for you, especially your favorite dish. I mean, wasn't I always grateful when you made your little slices of heaven? Sure, I might have stolen them the first few times, but you should think of that as a compliment to your skills as a chef. Of course the ultimate compliment was me putting up with you ridiculous morning primping routine just so I could enjoy your cooking." House rolled his eyes at the lack of response he was getting and turned to face Wilson. "Come on, Jimmy, I know I'm not the best at being a good friend, but…"
Wilson was rooted in place, his arms wrapped tightly around his chest as his entire body shook violently. His eyes were wide and his nostrils flared from his rapid, shallow breaths. But what really alarmed House was the wet spot on the front of Wilson's pajama pants that trailed down his leg, making a puddle on the floor.
"Wilson?" House softly called as he stepped toward his terrified friend.
"No," Wilson whispered, his eyes growing impossibly wider as he stared at House's right hand.
The diagnostician followed his friend's gaze to the chef's knife in his hand. For a moment he was baffled – why would an ordinary kitchen knife terrify his friend so badly? It was then that he realized the juice from the tomatoes had mixed with some purple staining from the eggplant, giving the liquid dripping from the knife a dark, arterial blood color. "Oh, God," he breathed, quickly tossing the knife into the sink. "It's okay, Wilson. The knife's gone, okay? You're safe."
Wilson remained silent, his eyes now locked onto the kitchen sink.
"It's okay," House whispered softly as he took a hesitant step toward his friend, holding his hand out. When Wilson didn't flinch at the gesture, House grew bolder and took more steps until he was standing next to the terrified man. He slipped an arm around the trembling shoulders and pulled him close. "Easy, Jimmy. You're safe now."
Wilson nodded, but continued staring at the sink. "It's s-safe?"
"Yes," House promised him, slowly leading him out of the kitchen and into his bathroom. "Let's go get you cleaned up."
He gently guided Wilson to sit on the toilet while he grabbed a change of clothes for his friend. When he returned, he was relived to see that Wilson had snapped out of it enough to remove his soiled pants and underwear. He cast a quick glance at House before dropping his gaze to the floor and flushing a deep shade of red. "Sorry," he mumbled.
"Hey, it's nothing to worry about," the other man assured him as he turned on the bathtub faucet. "Remember after the infarction? You never minded when I had an accident."
"You were physically unable to make it to the bathroom," Wilson quietly countered. "I'm just fucked up."
"You've been through a severe trauma," House argued back. "You have a right to be a little fucked up." He gripped Wilson's elbow and guided him to the tub, holding him steady as he climbed in. "Too hot?"
The oncologist shook his head, sliding down until the water was up to his chin. "Feels good." He closed his eyes and House spotted a trail of wetness on his cheek that had nothing to do with the bathwater. "I miss my family."
"I want them back."
"I'm alone now." The last word was barely audible as a cry of pure anguish tore its way from Wilson's throat.
House knelt beside the tub, lifting Wilson out of the water until his head and chest were tucked securely against House's own. "You're not alone, Jimmy. I'm still here. I'm not going anywhere."
House nodded as he continued to hold his friend close, savoring the feel of his warm breath through his shirt and against his chest.
That's when it him – really hit him. He could have just as easily lost Wilson in the home invasion. It could have just as easily been Mr. or Mrs. Wilson who'd been brought to the hospital, or Danny or Peter. Instead of being called to rush to the ER to pick up his friend, he could have gotten the call to come to the morgue to say good-bye. Wilson had been the one out of five people to survive; he'd defied an eighty percent chance of death. House normally took comfort from the cold, hard numbers, even as Wilson hatefully shunned them in lieu of rooting for the power of the human spirit. He suddenly found himself sharing the oncologist's philosophy and tightened his embrace.
"I could have lost you," he whispered against soft, chestnut hair.
"But you didn't," Wilson soothed, seemingly not bothered by finding himself thrust into the role of comforter. "I'm right here."
"I don't know what I would have done," House told him, surprised by how easily the words came out of his mouth.
"You'd have continued living," Wilson insisted. "Presumably off of my credit cards for as long as possible."
House pulled away and glared at Wilson. "This isn't funny, you idiot! I couldn't have gone on without you."
Wilson shook his head. "You're strong, House. You would have made it."
"I wouldn't have wanted to," the diagnostician argued. "Not without the man I lo-" He froze, his blue eyes seeking something – anything – to focus on other than the shocked expression on his friend's face.
"Love?" Wilson breathed. "You love me?"
House looked at the ceiling, clenching his jaw as he tried to rein in his runaway emotions. To his dismay, they were like an overloaded freight train, barreling down a mountain without working brakes. "Yes, Jimmy, I love you. The hearts and flowers on Valentine's Day kind of love."
"I won't hold my breath."
House frowned, feeling his heart break nearly in two. "Right."
"For hearts and flowers, I mean. I'll settle for a nice romantic dinner that you charge to my credit card."
"A romantic… Wait, you…" House lowered his gaze to meet Wilson's and pointed a shaky finger back and forth between them. "You… me, too?"
"Yes, Tarzan," Wilson beamed. "Jimmy love Greg, too."
"You ass! Why didn't you say something?"
"Why didn't you?" Wilson countered.
"I dropped enough clues," House growled. "I gave up after you walked in here while I was butt naked in your tub and all you did was yell at me for invading your space!"
Wilson shook his head and rubbed at the back of his neck, his face flushing a brilliant crimson. "I, um, yelled to try to distract you."
"Distract me from what?"
"Little Jimmy was very, uh… pumped up by that sight. I didn't know…" Wilson flapped his hand at House. "If I had known, well… Things would have been much different that morning."
House found himself smiling. "We're both idiots."
"That we are."
House grew sober and hugged Wilson. "I'm sorry it took this kind of tragedy for me tell you that I love you."
"At least something good and hopeful came of it," Wilson replied, sagging against the other man as the toll of the emotional roller coaster finally caught up to him. He sighed and closed his eyes. "I'm so tired, House."
"I know," he soothed as he ran a hand through Wilson's hair. "Just relax and let me take care of you."
Wilson nodded and melted into House's embrace, trusting his best friend to take control.
House gently lowered Wilson back into the water, grabbing a nearby cup and using it to wet his hair. He squeezed some pleasantly scented shampoo into his hands and tenderly massaged Wilson's scalp until the brown strands were covered by a rich lather. He used the cup to rinse the suds were away, smiling at the little sighs of contentment coming from Wilson's lips. He quickly grabbed the body wash, hoping to keep the happy sounds coming. House lathered and rinsed his friend's body in sections, until he was certain the dirt and stress of the day had been thoroughly washed away. He helped Wilson out of the tub and grabbed a towel, patting his friend dry with the utmost of care. With House's guidance, Wilson stepped into a pair of underwear and sleep pants before being led to his bed. Once he was settled on his side, House joined him on the bed, lying so that they faced each other. He carefully scooted over and placed a loving kiss on the tip of Wilson's nose.
"I know," he gently cut him off. "After the funerals, when you're on the road to recovery, then we'll explore this new… relationship."
Wilson sleepily smiled, reaching out and squeezing one of House's hands in his. "Thank you for understanding. Thank you for everything."
"I can honestly say it was my pleasure." House snaked an arm around Wilson's waist and held him close. "Now close your eyes and get some sleep because I'm not planning on letting go anytime soon."
"How are you doing?"
"Okay," Wilson nodded shakily. "Keep going."
"We don't have to," House reminded him. "Don't rush it if you're not ready."
"No, I'm okay."
House studied him for a minute before picking up the chef's knife and chopping the eggplant on the cutting board. When he finished, House scooped the pieces into a pot and glanced at Wilson. "Still okay?"
"Seriously, we don't have to do this right now."
"Just chop the damn tomatoes," Wilson ordered as he shifted his weight on his feet.
House shrugged and did as asked, his stomach knotting as a familiar color started to appear. He quickly glanced toward his friend, noticing a slight tremor in his arms, but no other symptoms of an impending breakdown. He slowly held up the knife and beckoned for Wilson to step closer. The oncologist nervously obeyed, grimacing when House pressed the handle of the knife against his palm. "Go on, Jimmy. You can do it."
Wilson reluctantly closed his fingers around the sturdy wood as he grabbed onto House's shoulder with his free hand. "I'm… I'm okay." He raised the knife to study the dark red liquid along the blade. "It's not blood."
"It doesn't even look like blood, not really."
House grinned from ear-to-ear, and nodded his head in approval. "You wouldn't have been able to say that three weeks ago."
"Well, you see I had this friend who recommended this shrink of his…"
"Smart ass friend most of the time," Wilson teased with a huge grin. He set the knife on the cutting block and raised an eyebrow. "Didn't we say we would do something to celebrate this occasion when it finally happened?"
"What?" House asked innocently. "Oh, you mean setting Little Jimmy and Little House up on a play date?"
"Yeah, that. So… when is a good time?"
House pretended to ponder the question. "Well, I always say no time like the present."
Wilson wrapped his arms around House's waist and nuzzled his neck. "Funny, that's exactly what I was thinking."
House laughed softly and led Wilson out of the kitchen. "You do realize that this is twice I've tried to make your favorite dish for you and you haven't appreciated it?"
"That's okay," Wilson whispered seductively as he nibbled on House's earlobe. "I'm about to discover a new favorite dish and I can promise you that I'm going to show my appreciation over and over and over…"
House barely managed to make it to the bed before his knees gave out in anticipation of the pleasure to come. His last coherent thought before getting lost in Wilson was that the two of them made a beautiful family.