A/N: Just a reminder that what I know about medicine can fit into one of those little cups that measure the dosage of liquid Tylenol. I try to have as little focus as possible on the medical stuff and I have done some research for what I've included, but I apologise profusely if I screwed anything up.
7.18—"To Vicodin or not to Vicodin"
"Lisa!" Wilson shouted, hurrying over to her. He gave her a hug in spite of everything that had happened between them—she found House, if he lived, she would be the one who saved his life. "Where is he?"
"They just brought him in, they want to get him into surgery for his leg as soon as possible," Cuddy said, squeezing Wilson's arm in comfort. "James, his leg looks really bad, but he should live. He'd been out there for hours and he regained consciousness when I found him. His motorcycle fell on top of him, pinning him to the ground, on his bad leg, too. He couldn't move and he was in a ditch not visible from the highway, that's why no one found him earlier."
"How did you find him?" Wilson asked incredulously. "If he wasn't visible from the highway–"
"–His cane must have snapped off during the accident," she explained. "I was driving home and I saw half a cane lying on the side of the road...no one had found him, it's the same way to get the condo...I thought it was worth checking out."
Wilson hugged her again, and she hugged back. "If Rachel ever needs a babysitter again," he muttered into her ear, "I swear to god, Lisa, whenever you need me, I'll do it for free."
Cuddy chuckled. "Come on. I know you want to see him before he goes into surgery."
She was right, of course, and he hurried down the hallway with her.
He could hardly see House behind the flurry of bodies working on him, but what he did see looked bad. House was unconscious, or at least unmoving, and his leg was a tangled mess. Wilson paid no attention to the tears that started to leak from his eyes at the sight of the man he loved in such a state. He wanted nothing more than to go to him, hold his hand and tell him everything would be all right, but he knew if he moved any closer he would just be in the way.
He was also terrified that something would happen—House's outlook was good, considering how long he'd survived after the accident even without medical attention, but it was certainly not a sure thing. He'd been bruised and cut all over and spent almost a day lying in a muddy ditch—infection was almost guaranteed, though treatable. His bike had been on top of his leg for hours, but it had only kept him from moving, it hadn't stopped blood flow, so at least crush syndrome was not an issue. Greg would probably live. Wilson continued to tell himself that as they rushed his best friend to the OR and he rushed himself to the OR observation room.
It was Thirteen's turn to bring him coffee.
Every hour since the surgery started, one of House's underlings would go up to the observation room with Wilson, to bring him coffee, watch awhile, and try to comfort him with meaningless platitudes that went in one ear and out the other.
All he could think about was the time their roles had been reversed, when House had refused, at first, to be there for Wilson's liver transplant surgery because, "If you die, I'm alone."
But what about if House died? What would happen to Wilson then? Couldn't he have thought about that before he went out driving his death machine? !
He'd tried to look into House's eyes as they anaesthetised him, but the older man had already been unconscious. Wilson remembered the time it had been him on the table; even though he'd asked House to come, House had told him no, but then he'd shown up anyway...Wilson was about to go under when he looked up and saw his best friend standing there. He'd looked into his beautiful eyes and knew that even if he did die on the table, if the last thing he saw was House's eyes looking at him, that would be okay.
And that's when he knew he was in love with his best friend. Yes, he'd spent the following months trying to deny it, chasing after Sam to distract himself, but he knew the moment he saw House looking down at him from the observation room that he was in love with him, had been for years, and probably would be forever.
"So you can't die on me, Greg," Wilson whispered to the glass. "You can't, because what would I have then? I already lost Amber, and you know how much I loved her. I can't stand to lose you, too. I love you too much, so please, baby, don't die."
"They're almost done," a voice next to him said. "He's made it so far, he should get through this."
He didn't jump; he'd heard her come in, but he didn't really want to see anyone now except Greg, awake and feeling better. But he still took the coffee she gave him with a muttered, "Thanks." The man he loved more than anything else in the world was hurt and could die, but that didn't mean he needed to be rude.
They both watched the procedure below in silence.
Wilson was exhausted, he was scared, he probably smelled and he had to pee from all the coffee, but he didn't want to move. He couldn't leave while Greg was still in surgery. What if a complication arose at the last minute and he wasn't there to...to what? Go crazy with frustration because the surgeons were down there, he was up here and there was nothing he could do? Watch the love of his life die? Whisper 'I love you,' to the glass window again?
No, he had to see. He had to see that it was going to be okay. He wanted to know it would be okay as soon as it started being okay. And he...he wanted to know if it wasn't okay the moment it wasn't okay.
That scary thought caused his eyes to well up with tears again, and they slowly made their way down the lines of his face.
Thirteen squeezed his hand. "He's going to be all right. They're repairing his femur, not giving him a heart transplant. And they're nearly finished. He will get through this."
Wilson nodded but didn't answer. He wanted to hope but wasn't ready...he didn't want to get his hopes up just to have them crushed...to never be able to hold Greg again, never be able hear his laughter or look into his captivating eyes...to never be able to grow old with him, to never...
"We're engaged," he blurted suddenly to Thirteen. He quickly looked down into the OR again. They hadn't talked about telling anyone.
"That's..." she started to say, and then moved close to him and smiled. "Wilson, look at me. He will live to marry you. He loves you too much not to. He'd never forgive himself if he died without getting the chance to marry you."
For some reason, that made Wilson smile, and he looked back down to watch the surgeons finish repairing his best friend, his...fiancé.
"Can I stay or would you prefer that I go?"
Wilson remembered that whenever he and House got into a fight, she'd been the one to try and get them to talk to each other, to work though it. She'd helped Wilson see that he was scared of cheating on House even though he didn't want to, and she'd encouraged him to let House move at his own pace when it came to giving up his apartment. She...she cared about House and Wilson too.
"I'd like you to stay."
His eyes felt heavy. He heard a faint beeping at regular intervals. It smelled like work. He was in the hospital. He knew that. Cuddy had found him. And his leg was throbbing faintly, but it wasn't hurting the way it usually did, so he was on drugs. Probably morphine. And there was something in his hand. No, someone was holding his hand. Wilson? Please, he wanted it to be Wilson.
Slowly he opened his eyes, and for the first time since his accident, he smiled. Wilson. His Wilson.
He'd brought his office chair down into House's room, it being much more comfortable than the chairs they kept there, he was wearing scrubs, and he was sleeping, fingers threaded between House's. House used his free hand to stroke Wilson's hair, relieved to see him but not ready to wake him yet. His night had probably sucked almost as much as House's had; he deserved a few moments peace.
House glanced at his leg; he wanted to ascertain the damage now that he could see it, but it was in a cast. Of course it was. His bike had landed on it; how could he not have fractured it? At least it didn't hurt so much anymore. His pain was only at a two, the lowest it had been since he'd tried methadone. The morphine was clearly doing its job. His shoulder too, he could tell that there was damage, but there was barely any pain. It was ironic that he felt better after having a near fatal accident than he did on a daily basis. Of course, the pain he'd had to deal with after the accident...he didn't want to think about it. He tried to put the accident from his mind, he was recovering now. He spent a few minutes watching Wilson sleep. He squeezed his hand, and then used his free one to stroke Wilson's hair again, and then the side of his face, and his lips.
Then Wilson woke up.
"Oh!" he said, looking around in confusion. Then his eyes landed on House and his face broke into a smile. "Hey, how are you feeling?"
"Pretty good, considering I'm on drugs," House responded.
"I'm just glad you're alive," Wilson murmured, squeezing his hand and stroking his face before pressing his lips to his forehead. "I'm never letting you ride a motorcycle ever again."
"It wasn't my fault," House said indignantly. "There was a stalled car on the highway. The same thing could've happened to you. Or maybe not to you because you actually take those signs with the big black numbers seriously, but any other normal person would have been just as screwed as I was."
"I don't want to argue with you right now," Wilson said, still smiling. "I'm just...grateful that you're okay. I love you."
"Yeah, I know you do," House said, looking away and trying not to smile.
It was safe to say that House was bored. Despite Wilson agreeing to pay for cable in his room, he was bored. Because his leg was broken, he couldn't move from his godforsaken bed and find away to relieve his boredom. In less than a week he'd managed to make enemies out of the few nurses attending him who hadn't already hated his guts, diagnose himself with an infection, convince Wilson to have sex with him on the hospital bed (multiple times), and solve Foreman's case, but he was still bored. He hated having to lie around. The only good thing about being a patient in the hospital was that the morphine kept his pain down. That is, until Cuddy decided to take him off of it.
"House, you're healing," she explained when he gave her a look that would make any lesser woman flinch and then fear for her life. "Your bones are mending, your bruising is almost gone, and you're still on antibiotics for your infection."
"I'm still in pain," House argued. "The morphine doesn't knock it out completely. It's not just my usual leg pain, Cuddy, the whole thing hurts, and so do my chest and shoulder. Take me off painkillers and I'll just go right back to where I was when you found me in the ditch."
"I'm not taking you off painkillers, House," Cuddy said, rolling her eyes. "It's only been a week, you're still in pain, so I'll do what I'd do for any other patient. I'm replacing your morphine with hydrocodone."
House stared at her like she'd suggested he give up medicine to open up a daycare service.
"Do you want me chucked back in the nuthouse?" he demanded. "Or did you think that by calling it hydrocodone I wouldn't know you meant Vicodin?"
"House," she said, looking at him carefully. "You just said you're in pain. We both know you need it."
"I don't need Vicodin!" he argued, looking at Wilson for support. "Give me morphine, give me oxycodone, give me codeine, but I'm not I'm not going on Vicodin no matter what you call it."
"Greg," Wilson said, squeezing his hand. "It won't be like before. It will only be administered by your doctors in the hospital. When you're ready to be discharged, you'll go back onto ibuprofen."
"I won't take it, Wilson. It took me eighteen months to get here. You're crazy if you think I'm just going to throw it all away–"
"–House, your addiction was to opiates," Cuddy pointed out. "Not Vicodin specifically. You've already been taking morphine, and giving you oxy or codeine won't be any different than giving you hydrocodone. They're all opiates, but morphine and oxy are more than what you need right now and codeine probably won't help your pain that much."
"I don't care," he said, glaring at Cuddy. "Yes, my body was addicted to opiates, but mentally I was addicted to Vicodin. I'm not taking that chance again, Cuddy, I'm not. If you don't want to give me morphine or oxy, then give me codeine."
"Codeine will barely–"
"–I don't care!" House repeated. He looked at Wilson, eyes pleading. "I need this," he said. "Don't let them give me Vicodin again. I'll take codeine. I can get through the pain on codeine. Please, Wilson."
"Greg," Wilson said, looking at House carefully, "You were in an accident. Codeine won't cut it–"
"–It will!" House argued. "I'm not taking Vicodin or hydrocodone by any other name. I'm not going through that again."
Cuddy and Wilson looked at each other, and finally she sighed. "I'll get the codeine, then."
At first Wilson wasn't sure what woke him up. Then he looked at House and suddenly it didn't matter.
"Greg, you're bleeding!" he said, alarmed.
"It's nothing," House murmured. "I just...I must've bit my lip on accident. Go back to sleep, Wilson."
But Wilson had already gotten up to turn on the light, and looking back at House made him feel sick to his stomach. Not only was there blood streaming from House's bottom lip, sweat covered his face and neck and he was shaking. When they'd brought him in after the accident, he'd looked hurt, but now he looked physically ill.
"Greg, you're shaking and you're sweating!" Wilson said, getting a tissue to wipe blood from his lover's face. "You're in pain! Give me a number."
"Seven," House choked.
"You're lying," Wilson accused, feeling House's pulse even though the monitor clearly displayed his heart rate. "You haven't looked this bad since the last time I've seen you detox from Vicodin."
"All right, nine," House admitted, glaring. "Are you happy now?"
"No, Greg, I'm worried about you!" Wilson pointed out. "You're hurt, the codeine isn't enough. You need Vicodin."
"No I don't!" House argued, his voice shaking as well as his body. "I can't do it, Wilson, I just can't! I can get through the pain, I've been living with it for over ten years. I can live with the pain. But I can't...I don't know if I could live through getting addicted to Vicodin again." He stared straight forward and his body continued to shake. Wilson didn't know what else he could do except climb onto the hospital bed with House, holding his shaking form to comfort him as well as to comfort himself.
Wilson had mixed feelings about having to work while his lover was still recovering in the hospital. He didn't want to abandon him, but it had been over a week and his body was recovering. And he didn't want to see him in pain but he would be in pain whether Wilson was with him or not. And, though Wilson would admit this to no one because it made him feel so guilty, House had been extremely irritable since he'd been taken off morphine and after the first five shouting matches about absolutely nothing Wilson didn't exactly relish being in the room with him. Work was almost a welcome relief.
Cuddy knocked on his door before letting herself in, and Wilson nodded at her.
"Hey," she greeted, sitting down. "How are you holding up?"
"I've been better," Wilson admitted. "But I can't complain when I think of what he's going through. He's so goddam stubborn! I understand that he's scared of getting addicted again, but he won't admit that he needs this. I don't know what to do."
"There is...something," Cuddy said, almost hesitantly.
He looked at her. "What? Another drug?"
"No...it's...well, Wilson, you're his medical proxy," she pointed out. "If we determine he's not capable of making a decision for himself, we just need your permission to administer the drugs."
When he didn't say anything, she continued. "Wilson, none of us like to see him like this. We know this isn't his usual pain, it's much worse. We both know he needs the Vicodin."
Wilson shook his head. "I can't do it. It hurts me to see him like that, but he needs to make the decision for himself."
"He's making the wrong one," Cuddy argued. "Being in this much pain isn't good for his recovery. Wilson, come on. You love him. We both know that right now, Vicodin is the best thing for him."
"No," Wilson said. "It hurt him too much the first time, I'm not going to let it happen again."
"It won't be like before, it will be controlled–"
"–I don't mean that," Wilson cut her off, shaking his head. "You're asking me to go behind his back. I love Greg more than anyone, and I want what's best for him, but if I agree to this, he'll never forgive me and he'll push me away just like he did with Stacy. I can't let that happen. He needs me in his life and I need him in mine. I can't do what she did knowing how it ended. I just can't. The last thing he needs is what happened with Stacy all over again. I don't know if he can recover from it this time. Lisa, I want him to change his mind, but I'm not going to betray his trust. I can't do that to him. I'm sorry."
House looked up at the sound of his door opening to see a large man in a vest enter the room.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, his tone far from pleasant.
"I came to see you," Dr. Nolan said calmly, sitting in a chair near House's bed.
"I don't know if you noticed," he snapped moodily, "but I'm not exactly in the mood to chat. My leg is killing me in five different places and I can't even rub it because of this goddam cast. So you can just toddle back over to Mayfield now. There's nothing you can do."
"Dr. Wilson tells me that they wanted to give you Vicodin for the pain, but you refused."
"You must be so proud of me," House retorted.
"I appreciate how difficult this must be for you, Greg, but I want you to know that it's all right if you change your mind. You were addicted to Vicodin before when you didn't really need it. But now your body does need it. You're in pain–"
"–much more severe than your normal pain. You're intelligent enough to realise that there's a difference between using Vicodin now and the way you abused it before."
"When I had the infarction," House grunted, "I needed it then, too. I needed it, like now. And you know what it turned into. I...can't. You don't know how hard it is for me to say no...when I feel like this...I want them but I...I'm scared," he admitted. Then he paused to throw up in his metal basin again.
Nolan went to the bathroom and brought him a cup of water. He rinsed his mouth and drank it, looking away.
"This...sucks," he continued, "But being addicted again...that would suck more. Wilson would hate me. And I can't lose Wilson. I can't."
"James has suggested you take the Vicodin," Nolan reminded him. "He won't leave you for taking drugs when you need them."
"He might leave if I get addicted again. Not right away. Eventually. He might..."
"It will be different this time," Nolan pointed out. "You won't have a bottle of Vicodin to take whenever you want, however many you want. The dosage will be strictly controlled, and you'll be taken off it as you heal. This isn't meant as a permanent solution, Greg."
"Wasn't supposed to be a permanent solution last time either," House panted. "What time is it?"
"Quarter to one. Why?"
"Wondering when you're gonna leave," House answered without looking at him.
"When's your next dose of codeine?" the therapist asked.
"1:30," he replied instantly.
Nolan gave a sad smile. "It takes a strong person to refuse stronger drugs the way you are, when you so clearly want them and need them. But I think you're also strong enough to take them and then stop when you need to stop. I hope you change your mind, Greg."
He wished he hadn't woken up. He hated waking up. At least when he slept he wasn't conscious of the pain. When was it going to go away? It hadn't been lower than a seven since the morphine. He was constantly sweating and shaking, and he couldn't keep anything down. It was like detox all over again, only worse because he couldn't walk around or rub his leg to try and ease the pain.
Cuddy was sitting by his bed. She watched him, and he glared at her.
"What do you want?" he asked, hating her having to see him like this.
"I came to see how you're doing," she said, trying to smile at him.
"I'm just peachy, in case you couldn't tell that from looking at me."
She sniffed. "You were crying out in your sleep. House, I hate seeing you like this. Wilson does, too. You don't know how much it hurts him. Please, House," she implored. "Your body needs the drugs."
"No!" he shouted. "I'm not doing it, Cuddy. I...I want to be better than that."
"You can't control what your body needs!"
"But I can control what I put into it!" His breathing was shallow and his eyes were bloodshot as he glared at her. "I'm not letting you give me Vicodin. End of story."
She shook her head at him and stormed out of the room. He lay back against his bed, hands clutching at the plaster around his leg.
House wasn't crying. He was in pain and the pain was causing a few tears to escape from his ducts, but that wasn't the same as crying.
All the same, when Wilson came in to see him, he shook his head.
"Go," he urged, turning his head away. "Get out. You don't need to see me like this."
"Greg, I'm not going anywhere," Wilson disagreed, moving to sit on the edge of the bed.
He tried to turn his head away, but Wilson took his face in his hands. He used his thumb to wipe a tear from House's cheek. "You're ridiculous if you think I'm going to judge you for crying," he said softly. "You should've seen me when they brought you in after the accident..." he chuckled, stroking House's face.
"It's just a little pain," House muttered, not catching the other man's eye. "What am I, a five-year-old with a scraped knee?"
"This is significantly more than a scraped knee, Greg," Wilson pointed out.
House still wouldn't look at him. A few more tears left his eyes and he bit his lip, which started bleeding again.
"How bad is it?" Wilson whispered.
"Nine and a half," House mumbled. His hand found Wilson's knee, which he squeezed, as though that might do something for his own leg.
"Oh, Greg," Wilson murmured sadly.
At last House caught Wilson's eye. He looked scared, and either the fear or the pain was causing him to tremble. "I don't want to fail," House whispered.
"Greg, you're not failing," Wilson whispered back, stroking his cheek.
"You...you think I should take the Vicodin?" he asked.
Wilson looked into House's eyes, holding his hand with one hand and his face with the other. "Yes," he said.
House looked down. For a long time he was silent.
"You..." he said finally, "You'd have to administer it. I never get a bottle. And it's just...on a day-to-day basis, I'll decide if I need it, and if not I'll just take the codeine."
Wilson nodded along with him, struggling not to cry himself.
"And one more thing," House continued, looking at Wilson again. "In...in the cabinet where you keep the spices...on the top shelf there's a box of baking soda behind the cornstarch. When you go home, I want you to throw it out, okay?"
Wilson nodded fervently, and House nodded back at him. "Greg, I'm proud of you," Wilson whispered. "And...I love you."
"I know," House muttered. "I...you, too, Wilson." He drew in a shaky breath and squeezed Wilson's knee. Wilson squeezed House's hand on his knee and then leaned forward to give him a gentle, lingering kiss.
When he pulled back, House nodded at him. "You can...go tell Cuddy."
Dr. Lisa Cuddy walked resolutely through the halls of her hospital. In her hand was a white paper cup. In the cup were two white tablets. She entered the patient room where House sat up on his bed and Wilson sat in a chair next to him.
Both doctors looked at her as she entered.
She tried to give them an encouraging smile as she handed the cup to Wilson.
Wilson took House's shaking hand and dropped the pills into it.
House looked at Wilson, who nodded at him.
He took a deep breath, leaned his head back, and dropped them into his mouth.