Disclaimer: I don't own them. *sniff*
Beta: My old Numb3rs beta, ritt!
A/N: Written for the 50 Ways to Hurt Your Wilson challenge at sick_wilson on LJ, Prompt #8. Back Injury
Wilson hated the dark. It wasn't that he thought monsters lurked in the closet or under his bed, it was the fact that when it was dark he had nothing to focus on. Without an external focus, his thoughts would, by necessity, turn inward.
For all his attempts at helping his friends and offering advice on how to live their lives, Wilson was surprisingly frightened of applying those same efforts to himself. Inevitably he would ponder his three failed marriages and the death of the one woman he thought both he and House could spend the rest of their lives with. After all, anyone who got to know Wilson for more than five minutes quickly learned that being friends with him meant having to tolerate House, which is why he had so few friends despite his charming personality.
It was thoughts like these, scarier than the worst fairy tale ogre, which caused the oncologist to fear the dark.
Of course the complete darkness surrounding him now didn't bother him at all. No, it was the streak of liquid fire pulsing through his lower back in tune with the beat of his heart that made Wilson wish that he was anywhere else other than… Well, he didn't actually know where he was. He thought he'd been at home, happily cooking his favorite meal for himself since House was going to be staying late with a new patient. In fact, if he wasn't mistaken…
Wilson cautiously flexed the fingers of his left hand and, sure enough, the familiar handle of a wooden cooking spoon was still pressed against his palm. What Wilson couldn't figure out is why his hand was pressed against what he assumed was the floor of their loft, nor why it was so dark he couldn't see anything. He knew their power bill was current as he'd kept all responsibilities for paying the bills to himself and away from House.
A new sensation came in the form of a blast of hot, acrid air that was so overwhelmingly thick, Wilson vaguely wondered if suffocation was going to be the latest – and final – entry on his list of problems. He haltingly took a deep breath, silently praying his lungs were up to the task, but was shocked when he was halted halfway by something solid and heavy pressing against his chest. He awkwardly maneuvered his left hand upward and quickly swallowed down a wave of panic as he realized whatever was resting just above his chest was also hovering over his arm.
As the seriousness of his situation sunk in, Wilson's mind seemed to shake loose some of its cobwebs. His upper body might be trapped but if his lower body was free maybe he could push or pull himself out from under the behemoth lurking above. His mind sent the command for his legs to move through a frayed network of nerves only to receive a devastating message back – all systems down.
Wilson's panic grew until he could no longer keep it at bay. He closed his eyes and sobbed, clenching his hand around the wooden spoon, only… something was different. The handle had grown bigger in diameter and the wood was smoother in texture. His panic now making way for curiosity, Wilson ran his fingers along the length of the wood, surprised to find the end of the shaft capped by a firm rubber tip. A feeling of immense relief washed over him as his sluggish mind came to a conclusion, reinforced by a familiar muffled voice to his left.
He wanted so badly to respond, but his parched mouth refused to cooperate. Wilson settled for squeezing the base of House's cane where it rested in his hand and, with much more effort than should have been required, gave it a little tug to let his friend know he was awake and aware of his presence.
"Only you could get into this much trouble while cooking dinner." The words were teasing but even in his current state, Wilson couldn't help but notice the obvious relief in his House's voice.
A loud noise suddenly screamed next to him, causing him to flinch so severely he almost lost his grip on the cane. His heart raced as images of something bad happening to House danced across the darkness before him.
"Easy, Wilson," House yelled over the increasing noise around them. "Firemen are getting ready to get you out. They've got a hydraulic pump to lift the slab off of you."
Wilson couldn't remember having ever been claustrophobic before, but he was getting up close and personal with the suffocating sensation now.
"For God's sake, slow down before you hyperventilate!"
Wilson blinked his eyes and forced himself to take a deep breath, followed by another and another…
"That's good," House said approvingly. "Keep doing that and squeeze my cane as hard as you can. I'm not going anywhere and I want to make sure you're not either."
As was usually the case when House was involved, Wilson found himself automatically obeying his commands. Although the more he thought about it, the more convinced he became that his friend was crazy if he thought he could go anywhere with part of the loft on top of him. Unless he didn't mean physically…
Suddenly aware of just how bad his situation must be, Wilson grabbed hold of House's cane like a frightened child to his parent's hand. He never let go, even as the roaring of engines grew louder, accompanied by the screeching of metal being forced to move. He wanted nothing more than to press his hands over his ears and escape the awful noise, but made himself concentrate on the lifeline in his grasp. As the din around him grew louder, the pain in his lower back started flooding through the rest of his body, eventually sending him into blessed silence.
The first thing Wilson was aware of was that the pain in his back had receded to a bearable level. This fact gave him the courage to open his eyes, and he was almost giddy to find himself surrounded by bright light, with the ceiling a good ways above him.
"Don't worry, Atlas, I paid some other self-sacrificing morons to hold the world up while you're out of commission."
Wilson rolled his head to his right and offered his weary friend a small smile. "Good thing," he croaked. "Seems like I slipped up earlier." He licked his lips and pointedly glanced at the pitcher on the night stand.
House rolled his eyes as he stood and poured a glass of water. "Not a nurse, you know. I went to med school and everything."
Wilson ignored him, intent on getting the precious liquid into his parched mouth. He reached out to take it, only then noticing his right hand was in a cast. He looked at House and raised an eyebrow.
"Geez, Wilson, you want to drink or you want me to answer all of your questions?"
"Drink," he rasped, reaching across his body to take the glass as with his left hand. After taking a few sips, he looked at House with a twinkle in his eye. "Now you can sit and tell me what happened."
"Don't push it," House growled as he settled back into the bedside chair. He leaned back and placed his feet on the bed, making sure they were strategically placed to annoy Wilson without actually causing him any discomfort. "You can thank Nora for all of this." House waved his hands in an all-encompassing manner.
"She was out of town this week and apparently there was a gas leak in her apartment. Since no one was home, it kept building up until some random spark set it off and... boom."
"Was anyone else hurt?"
"Good." Wilson sighed with relief. He glanced down at his right hand, wiggling the fingers sticking out of his cast. "What's the damage?"
"You broke your wrist in two places, but there was no displacement of the fractures. Once the cast comes off all you'll need is a little rehab and you'll be good as new. You did the worst damage to your back. You've got a wedge fracture of your T12 vertebra. But, being the lucky idiot you are, the vertebral height loss is less than 10 percent."
"Lucky?" Wilson snorted as he stared at the blank television screen in the corner of the room. "Yeah, right. I get bed rest for a week and then a brace for eight weeks. And it'll be at least three weeks until I can get out of bed and walk."
"Hey," House snapped angrily. "You could have been paralyzed. Hell, you could be dead." He glared at Wilson until the other man finally met his gaze. "You had a building fall on you, you moron. Contrary to popular belief, you don't actually wear a blue jumpsuit with a big letter 'S' on your chest." House lifted his cane and poked Wilson's hip with it. "Is any of this getting through that thick skull of yours?"
Wilson didn't respond, only stared at the tip of the cane resting on the bed. He gently ran his fingers along the smooth wood, remembering how safe he'd felt the last time that cane had touched him. "You want to hear something funny?" he whispered softly.
House sighed. "Sure, Wilson."
"When I think of your cane, it's usually not for good reasons. I think of what you lost after the infarction, or how your pain drove you to a dangerous drug addiction." Wilson laughed softly. "I also can't help but think about all the times you've nailed my shins or hands with it."
"I never hit you that hard," House protested as he started to pull said object away from the bed. He was shocked when Wilson awkwardly reached across his body and snagged the tip with his left hand.
"Let me finish," he hissed in pain.
House nodded, relaxing his grip enough that his friend could pull the cane further onto the bed.
"The funny part," Wilson continued in less discomfort now that he could relax his body. "When I was lying there in the dark, scared out of my wits, it was your cane that gave me the most comfort. Don't get me wrong, hearing your voice did wonders for me, too, but your cane… it was a physical connection. My lifeline to the friend who wouldn't leave my side despite all of the chaos around us." Brown eyes met blue as Wilson added, "You saved my life, House."
House swallowed nervously, trying to ignore the sudden flood of emotions that were threatening to burst forth. "Well, I didn't want to lose my meal ticket."
Wilson shook his head, a fond grin on his face. "I know you don't like to be serious but I need to be. I want you to know how thankful I am for what you did."
"I know," House assured him with a firm nod. "Now stop the mushy crap or I'm going to slip a sedative into your IV line."
"No need," Wilson said around a yawn. "I feel like I could sleep for days."
"That's what you need to do. Don't worry, though, I'll be sure to wake you up for soaps, monster truck rallies, and meal time so you can watch me eat my gourmet fare while you suffer through your hospital slop."
Wilson chuckled as he closed his eyes and relaxed. It wasn't lost on him that when House turned on the TV, he actually kept the volume low enough not to disturb him. Nor did he fail to notice that House left his cane lying on the bed, within easy reach, just in case he needed that lifeline again.