Walking in L.
By G. Waldo (formerly GeeLady)
Rating: NC-17 Adult.
Summary: Continuation of where One Step Closer Away leaves off. This story is H/W.Doctor James Wilson wants to save House - who is slowly dying - and he'll go to any length. Violence, adult situations, language. This is NOT a death-fic'.
Disclaimer: Not mine...blah, blah, blah - though a fantasy never hurt anyone.
This story is in response to a collective request for a sequel from Richie117 and the members of the marvelous Hilson Forum at ./hilson,22/ - I blame YOU! Thank you stimulating my creative juices against my will, Richie and Forum members - I'll get you for this! (Tee-hee). I hope the resulting fic' meets with your approval.
Here is the link to One Step Closer Away. Seriously, you oughta' read that first.
http : // www . fan fiction . net / s/ 4600963/ 1/ One_Step_Closer_Away (No spaces of course)
There's nothing like being confronted with your own greatest, and weakest, vulnerability. A man. A heart. The heart of a man.
In all ways physical, as Wilson stood there with all the world's determination gathered in his soul, this weakest link to him, his only, that one small fraction of worldly joy, was failing. The thing within him that had carried him for fifty-two years but was now giving up on its master. Beats, minutes, hours, days...
Sometimes a fraction can equal your whole life.
"We just can't predict with any definite accuracy, Doctor Wilson, how long it will hold out."
Wilson tried not to scream at Michaels, the physician trying to orchestrate a few measly more weeks of life out of the failing organ in question; that sloppy, irregular beating, three hundred grams of life-centristic muscle. The cardiologist seemed to think of it as though it were some separate autonomous entity - no more than an oddly twitching specimen that had not the good sense to give up - and not the blood-pumping center of the man it served. This heart was, as all are, inextricably attached to its owner - in this case - to the sole love of his life. Michaels had spoken as though, if it stopped beating, it would only be the heart that died, and not House.
Desperate to keep his voice level with respect - hard, so hard! - "That heart has a name, you know."
Doctor Michaels mind went back over his own words, catching his own faux paux, catching the "it". "Sorry, Doctor Wilson, it's just been a long day."
Wilson had to ask. "What are his chances?"
Gregory House, Doctor House, the famous Diagnostician, currently on medical leave from the work that he loved, had suffered a third heart attack the previous evening. The third in as many years. After a calm dinner of conversation, a television program or two, some couch-snuggling (though no sex as Michaels had advised against it after House's second minor infarction two months previous..."No sex for the time being - just until House gets stronger." When that was supposed to have occurred, Michaels hadn't mentioned), House had thrust his cane under him, and stood up to use the bathroom. But, seconds later, had sat right back down again with the oddest look on his face, clutching his right hand to his left shoulder. He'd gave the smallest cough.
"Did you strain something?" Had been his own innocent and now, in hindsight, stupid question.
House had said a soft "No.", turned his face to Wilson and stared at him with a look Wilson knew now he will never forget for all the years he would live. An expression that said "This is it, Wilson, this is the last time I'm ever going to see you. Whaddya' know?"
An ambulance, a sleepless night for both of them, and a cold hand of fear steadily teasing his own heart since then, Wilson now stood over his drugged, sleeping lover. He wished House's touchy heart was resting as peacefully as House was seeming to.
Doctor Michaels hummed and hawed a bit. "Well, if he keeps up his medication, stays to the regime of mild exercise, stays on the heart-healthy diet and - "
Wilson rested tired eyes in the sweating palm of his left hand. Jesus, the same old crap every time. No wonder House viewed most of his colleagues as morons. Hardly one among them possessed the slightest shred of creativity. Wilson supposed it was why they specialized in things that had only so many pat answers.
Maybe it explained why he himself had gone into oncology.
To the researchers, those who looked at the enemy who appeared from nothing to become a terrible something, cancer was a crafty prey with an ancient memory. Those who caught it up under their slides and scanning microscopes, worked hundreds of hours trying to pry it's tiniest molecules apart, learn its ever-changing secrets, plan and execute their attacks, would then record what minute change for the better or worse their prey might have given up for their efforts. When a small success appeared beneath their scopes, champagne was cracked, and celebrations wrought.
But to him, cancer was the invading force that took no prisoners, and left behind wasted hulks of human beings. Ate pieces out their bones and organs with mocking efficiency. With enough counter-attacks, sometimes the enemy left early enough that the civilian human it had been warring against was not all-the-way ruined. And sometimes, despite a barrage of anti-enemy fire, it came back again with re-enforcement's and overwhelmed the innocent one. For Wilson, cancer was his personal adversary. It was a merciless opponent for sure, but at least one which tactics he knew beforehand. And cancer could almost always be clearly seen, so to strike the arrows.
Cancer was simple, the way he often thought of himself. Conversely, Wilson supposed boredom was why House had gone into diagnostics. Because he was so unbelievably, intelligently creative, mundane medical problems left him intellectually starved. In diagnostics, he could get lost in an seemingly inexplicable unknown and, with a bit of innovative thought, fight his way out to a truth where corresponding action could follow. When it came to understanding the struggle for a diagnosis, or for life, House was a Renaissance man. The unashamed, medical genius.
Wilson was near to snapping his last intact nerve at Michaels routine chatter. He thought grabbing a chair and tossing it through the window might be sufficiently cathartic. Or ripping into the next phlebotomist who walked in to perform yet another useless blood-gas test. "Doctor Michaels," He almost shouted, but at the very last second, managed to keep his fury at a sick-room-level. "What is the prognosis on my husband?"
Michaels sighed. He hated to give any specific time period for the survival of a cardiac patient. Some went years longer than they ought to have, others died days after a reasonably secure bill of health. "Weeks. Three months at the outside." Without a new heart, which Doctor House due to his Vicodin use and history of ill-health since his infarction, would not be granted, such an organ as damaged as his heart had become pretty well a day by day proposition. "I'm sorry."
Wilson nodded, and Michaels left him alone with his sleeping spouse.
Wilson wanted to wake him, but for right now rest - sleep - was so important. As much as he craved the contact, even holding House's hand might inadvertently rouse him, which would speed up his heart rate. Perfectly natural if your heart is perfect. But in the interim, this soon after a heart attack, the more sleep, the better. For many weeks they had not allowed him any shared affection with his mate beyond a cuddle, or spooning at night - a torture that nearly drove him mad.
It wasn't missing the sex, though he did miss it, that hurt. It was the restrictions placed upon him as to the expression of love. The deep physical sharing their sexual intimacies had provided had become partnered with a deep emotional bonding that he himself had never before experienced. The emotional bond was still strongly in place but - oh - it was so much more when it was accompanied by the physical. All things lovingly expressed were fuller when he could touch him when-ever he pleased. house was open, his unbidden, a free-range love. Loving a man openly, embracingly, despite anything or everything, caring for him to the narrowest crack in each others being, was the unfettered universe. In it they were gods. That freedom to love.
Presently, though, Wilson felt like the sickness in House was a totalitarian law, a dictatorship that only allowed so many fingers, and so much skin and that was all. A Hell-being's law. It hurt minute by minute.
A thing Wilson had come to understand within himself was that something had been missing all those years, wives and girlfriends ago. Wilson felt stupid for a long time when he'd at last come across the simple answer. A connection as easy as two friends who love each other. It had taken House a little longer to recognize it, but once he did, had become a supporter of their mutual attraction and feelings to the extent of one incredible Saturday evening, after a few hours away on a mysterious shopping trip he would say nothing about, House returned home and suggested they take a further step in their shared lives in a specific and momentous way.
Wilson stared at the tiny box containing the twin gold bands nestled in a square inch and a half of black velvet. "House,...is this,...you want,...I mean you want us to...?" He's stuttered stupidly. "Rings??"
At House's crest-fallen face and sudden retiring manner, panic came. Wilson - you moron! "Of course. I just never expected...wow." Choking up. "This is very sweet. I want to, yes. Absolutely. This, house, this is overwhelming..." Watering eyes, stammering tongue. Smooth, Wilson, real smooth.
"If you start blubbering, I'm taking them back." House warned in his half-twinkling with amusement, half-serious manner.
Wilson waved away such trouble. "No, no blubbering. I promise." He accepted the ring and examined it up close.
The bands were thick, heavy, and each engraved with "He's mine!" on the inner circle. Their quality rang like a church bell. They obviously hadn't been cheap. His scruff-muffin House, when it came to the finer things in life, was in fact a man of impeccable taste.
Wilson had put it on. It fit perfectly. The rings said they belonged to one another. House was unequivocally his. House had framed a subtle, simple, and utterly romantic way to ask if Wilson would please marry him.
Three days later, in a civil ceremony attended by Chase, Foreman and House's flustered but pleased mother, Wilson made it come true.
Warm sun streamed in the window, stabbing him with its virtually endless existence. It would never cease its movement across the floor, and over the wide waking world where life teemed, unbothered by any happening in this small, insignificant room. Under the sun's bright nurture, a billion people would be born over the next twenty years. Why couldn't he be allowed to enjoy just this one for a while longer?
His husband of fifteen months stirred, and Wilson started. Had he been muttering aloud? Before he could slip form the room and let House gather the greatly needed sleep, his step was halted by House himself. "Whr' ya' goin'?"
Weak speech, the ends of the round syllables sloughed off to conserve energy.
Wilson came back to the head of the bed and looked down at him, resting one hand near the thin pillow and the other on House's unmoving right arm. "I wanted to let you sleep."
House swallowed, his throat sounded like it had sand in it. "Could you raise the bed?" Clearer this time. He was all the way awake now.
Wilson obliged and cranked the level until House's upper body was sitting at a 45 degree angle. Why had the nurse not done this earlier?
House breathed easier. "So? What did Michaels say? Am I screwed?"
Wilson struggled not to appear weakened or weepy by the news that he had maybe one or two weeks left to spend with House. For most of those days Michaels would probably want House in the hospital, stuck in a hard bed, while his condition was "monitored", as though that would change anything. Keeping House here would benefit the hospital's reputation - maybe - or make Michaels feel like he was delivering something to his patient besides a death sentence. It might even make himself feel better; keep House physically anchored, rested, properly watched and cared for twenty-four-seven, so he could have him in the world just a few hours longer.
But none of that would make House feel any better, and Wilson was damned if he was going to force House to lay in a hot, white room for the short remainder of his life, so everyone else could feel okay about his dying. "You've been here for nearly twenty-four hours." Wilson said, not really addressing House's flip question. "Tomorrow I'm taking you home."
House looked up at him, the thin plastic lines of the nose cannula snaking their way over to a quietly humming machine that, every few seconds, delivered another puff of cool one hundred percent oxygen to House's respiratory track, struggling to keep the pneumonia at bay and make it so House's sickly heart did not have to work as hard.
There was surprise in House's eyes. "You're going to defy Michaels, and the hospital, for me?"
Wilson nodded, a crack of a smile fractured his lips. "Yeah."
There was a hint of pride in his voice. "I've turned you into a rebel."
"It'll mean signing off. You'll be AMA."
"Well, I'm DND anyway. What difference will it make?"
Wilson frowned. "DND?"
"Damn near - " House stopped when Wilson's face fell to its former relief of etched sorrow. Just barely there, almost imperceptible if you didn't know the man. House knew him. "Forget it, doesn't matter."
Wilson knew of course what House had almost finished saying. A joke. Word fun. House loved that stuff. It had peppered his monologues and their conversations all the years he had known him. But Wilson refused to think it. Not for today. Today, he would look forward to bringing House home tomorrow, and spoiling him rotten for the next two weeks. Because for him, this day, House was no where in the ball park of Damn Near Dead.
House's eye lids were drooping. Already he was tired again, and needed to go back to sleep. Wilson took his hand, and kissed him once on the mouth. "I'll see you tomorrow, babe'."
For the four-hundredth time, House scolded him. A weak whisper. "Stop calling me that."
Breakfast was scrambled egg-whites, whole wheat toast with honey, and turkey bacon. Wilson had left in a half of one yolk in the eggs at least they looked like they would taste defiant.
Wilson placed the meal in front of House, who dove in. Wilson knew it was bullshit. House's appetite had diminished over the week he had been at home. A sign of advanced cardiac illness, the brain's way of spurring the body to keep blood diverted to its failing pump station and away from the food processor.
Wilson furtively watched House eat while staring down at his own breakfast. Exact same breakfast so House would not so much miss the foods that weren't there. A heart healthy diet was idiotic at this stage of House's illness, but Wilson couldn't help but hope that some miracle might appear to save him. Wilson also knew House knew he was depressed, so House ate to make him feel better. Wilson tried to show his gratitude by not acknowledging the gesture. But House trying to be nice was a clear signal he knew his time was short and that he was worried about Wilson.
Wilson pushed his eggs around on his plate. The smell almost made him gag. Grief stood at the door, knocking. A black-hooded bastard who had no right to soon pass sentence on a man who had worked his whole life to save others. So what if House's reason's were other than altruistic? Weren't people supposed to enjoy life while making sacrifices? Were all people required to wear a face of mourning so their contributions for the good of mankind had the appearance of purity? House could have easily gone into finance. He was a genius. He would have made billions.
But House choose medicine because of a Japanese medical marvel turned janitor who had been snubbed because of his caste. How the man had been treated had pissed House off. But that the man had been right, and that his superiors had been forced to listen to him, that had set House's wheels spinning wildly. Since learning of that experience, Wilson had often wondered whether it was medicine that had chosen House, and not the other way around. House had been set on a course that day. A man who could fix almost anyone. And, for all that people for years who had thought of House as some sort of medical snob, who had not adhered to the unwritten social codes among his colleagues, House had never, as far as Wilson knew, made any distinctions as to who did or did not deserve treatment. House drew no lines, and recognized no rules of ethnic, social or racial prerequisites. If you were sufficiently sick to interest him, you were in. House only asked that he not be bored. A pretty even bargain, Wilson thought.
A chance encounter in a Japanese hospital hallway caused the universe to take a lonely boy and carve him into a medical genius. As far as he saw it, if that isn't destiny properly played out, he didn't know what was.
House had answered to his in-born calling and, over the course of a twenty-seven year career as a healer, saved a small town's worth of lives. He shouldn't have to do anything anymore that he didn't really want to do. "If you can't finish it, it's all right."
House stopped chewing and looked across the small dinette table at his partner. Wilson was twisting his wedding band, ignoring his own meal. "I know." He kept eating, watching Wilson's anxious tick. He was really going to miss his lovable, idiot husband.
Then House chided himself for the ridiculous thought. He'd be dead. Thought-free. Missing anything didn't follow.
An evening bath, luke-warm as per Michaels' orders, was just the thing to help the pain. The leg didn't care that it's body's heart was working at half power, it still hurt when ever it felt like it, and House massaged the twitching tissue while he sipped from a delicate stemmed glass of rich, red heaven. Wine, it turned out, was good for the heart. A real shame that bourbon wasn't.
He raised the glass to his lips as Wilson tidied up after dinner. Saturday's were great. You were free to do as you pleased and you still had one day left of goofing-off before Monday. Not that he was working anymore. Wilson neither as he had taken a leave of absence of his Administrative duties as Dean to spend time with, and provide almost anything House wanted - an action House thoroughly approved of. Still Saturday still felt like the universally welcomed day of respite from the toil of the everyday man.
Not that he was an everyday man. Unless it came to wanting sex from Wilson. Then he was an every day man. Well, until a few months ago. He missed sex. "Hey Wilson!"
Michaels had said no sex. No intercourse. He hadn't said anything about a blow job. As the one on the receiving end, he wouldn't have to anything but enjoy it. "How about a little sword play?"
Footsteps approached from the kitchen, and Wilson appeared in the doorway, wiping his hands on a tea towel. "Are you asking for something? I could go put on my Musketeer costume..."
House nodded. "Okay. As long as I get to see you "swallow the saber"." It was good to see Wilson smile. The real McCoy, not a cheap imitation forced into place to hide behind.
"You're a pig."
But Wilson would deny him nothing. House lay his head back against the hard porcelain of Wilson's apartment-cheap bath tub. Right now cheap was okay. Cheap was good. House was thankful that Wilson didn't have one of those old fashioned, more expensive, soaker tubs. Wilson would never have been able to bed his head over the high side of one of those, and suck like the human vacuum cleaner he was.
The only thing that dampened House's bathroom bliss was that,every few minutes or so, Wilson would slow his motions to fumble at House's wrist, in order to check his pulse. If his heart started beating too fast for his liking, or thumping too hard against his two finger's, Wilson would slow down, and sometimes, much to House's mounting frustration, stop altogether and look at him.
"I'm not about to keel over. Get with the mouth-fucking." House finally growled.
Wilson ignored House's grumping, and lowered his mouth again. House was fine for now. They could both enjoy this.
Blow jobs, giving them that is, had never been his strong suit or even among his favorite bedroom activities, but House loved them. Now, because Michaels had dis-allowed all other fun-times, and in the pre-heart trouble years, because his leg had made some sexual positions too painful. Being on top more than occasionally, for example.
But one thing's for sure, House had a silky smooth, damn hot cock so Wilson did his best to let him know that. House was even moaning with the pleasure of it, and that made Wilson smile behind his deep-throated face-bobs. A flash of himself as a boy bobbing for apples at a school Halloween party flashed through his mind and he had to stop for a second to chuckle. House had apples, he thought wickedly, I ought to bob for those next.
Wilson raised his head to share his naughty thoughts with his lover.
As before, House's head was lying back against the tub, his throat stretched out so his Adam's apple was prominent. But his head was also lolled slightly to the right. And his eyes were closed.
He rode in the ambulance back to Plainsboro. House's heart beat had become erratic. Wilson had been forced to explain what they had been doing at the time when the "problem became noticeable." The EMT questioning him again and again until he had snarled loudly enough for all bystanders within earshot to hear - "I was sucking off my husband!"
Once they had stabilized him, Wilson knew that, once and for all, this was it. House was not going to be going home again. He couldn't. He was now too weak. It was not his fault. A blow job had not given him his fourth, tiny heart attack, but there would be no more times like that. No more meals at home, or television shows seen anywhere but on the hospital's older-model TV set suspended on a metal arm five feet over the bed. Not a comfortable way for House to enjoy Prescription Passion.
House was asleep, and Wilson didn't touch him. He was not going to screw up his rest this time. It was late. The last nurse who had suggested he ought to go home and get some rest himself was met with a look that told her in no uncertain terms where she could stick her advice, and they were left alone for the night. At least it was a private room. He left instructions to the Emergency and UCI staff to each have one nearby kept in reserve at all times.
There would be no sleep for him tonight. House was dying now. It may take him a few days, but it was happening and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. For weeks Wilson had kept his own emotions in check, so to make room and energy enough to handle anything that House might need to feel. But House had been a brick wall through everything. House didn't believe in fate or karma or any last minute salvation (though he had occasionally brought last minute salvation of life to more than a few people via his medical brilliance), House believed that what came was simply what came and you dealt or your didn't - it was your choice.
But Wilson clung to the belief that this was wrong. House dying this young after a life of self sacrifice was unfair and unjust in every way. He was only fifty-two, his body (all except for the one, crucial organ, was still strong and attractive), his brain as sharp as ever, his humor undiminished. His zest for life perhaps not at its peak, but certainly not on the down-hill slide either. House should be here for ten, fifteen years more.
He was going crazy.
Wilson slipped out to the parking lot. He needed to drive and clear his mind. Prepare himself for the future they would never have together. He could have struggled with any one of his previous three wives, and probably not be facing a future alone. Having House, as hard a battle as that had been, had transformed his three painful divorces into a snap of his fingers. Piff, puff - gone! Nothing.
What would he have after House was gone? A tidy nest of money in the bank, and a small house, all fully paid for. Wilson had purchased the tiny two bedroom dwelling just outside of Princeton in a pretty sub-divide that used to be farm-land. Away from the rows upon rows of expensive town homes had sat few older, run-down empty houses that had been left available for prospective buyers; those who might want to renovate or do a quick-fix and rent them out.
Wilson had come close to closing a deal on a modern, square, glass and metal townhouse when, while driving by one afternoon, trying to make up his mind about it, he had spotted the tiny pale green house set back from the road, complete with a brush-lined driveway leading up to a tiny graveled parking-pad. The house needed a coat of paint. The yard needed weeks of grooming, the wild weeds and grasses particularly requiring some heavy cutting back, but the place possessed a simple, old charm. It was small and neglected, but it provided privacy and quiet.
Wilson had no idea, however, whether House would want to live in it, so he'd made him his favorite meal of lasagna, garlic toast and cheesecake, and then, using his limited photographic skills, presented the idea along with a lay-out of the best pictures he managed to get of the place.
After babbling on for minutes talking about its hidden virtues, and how they would have their own home and all the privacy they wanted, and how great it would be. Emphasizing that they would have to deal with no more elevators breaking down, and no more cheap land-lords or miserable, noisy neighbors. Wilson had topped his nervous sell with - "House - just think! You can pound on that piano all you want, or crank up your amp until it shatters my teeth, and no one will hear it."
House had listened patiently to Wilson's shaky, hand-twisting delivery, took a single glanced at Wilson's carefully arranged photo's on the table and said "Sure."
He had spent the remainder of their dinner stealing looks across the table to his normally argumentative, negating, yet still full of surprises mate, wondering just where in hell had the real House had got to.
A month later, there were settled in.
They'd had so little time in it together. Four simple walls had become a cocoon of contentment, a home that had added to their already fuller, richer lives since falling in love, but now House wasn't going home again, and the place was a husk without him. Four walls that contained objects to remind him of his dying husband. A place no longer warm and full of care but a mockery for how short that comforting time had been. A structure and that was all.
Wilson pulled the car over. He had driven home on autopilot. He couldn't remember making the correct turns, but never-the-less found himself parked on the freshly poured two-lane road, staring at the faint shade of white paint on his and House's home, somewhere down the shaded lane.
He would have to sell the place. Wilson didn't think he could sleep in their bed again, not alone, if House was not going to be there. Ever. He could barely remember a time when House wasn't in his life. This is what it's like to lose a part of yourself. This is what they mean when his patient or a relative had said that losing his or her mate had been like losing half of themselves. May as well lop off a body part as say goodbye to someone you loved more than even yourself.
Here, parked on a dark road in the middle of the night, staring down the black lane of the only place in the world he had ever been truly happy, with the only person who had ever made him feel that happiness, Wilson finally understood what it was, the meaning behind it, the sounding depths, of loving someone that much. How, too, impossibly painful and criminal, and vicious death was. And how heartless love itself was when it decided it was time for it to leave, taking your precious one with it.
It was all so wrong.
Wilson rested his forehead against the steering wheel and wept.