Tough Wilson conversation ahead and a maybe not quite as tough but still not cliched happy ending Cuddy conversation, but I genuinely believe that both of them have one coming to have any kind of consistency with what S6 as a whole has shown us. :) Thanks for reading this story.
House opened his eyes, aware of late afternoon sunlight spilling across the bed. He had been sleeping like a log all day. He pushed himself up to blink blearily at the clock and felt his leg clench at the change in position, and he smiled slightly. Never before had he thought it was reassuring to have his leg give him hell upon awakening, but now it was sweet confirmation that he had had no Vicodin in his sleep. Chase might have a point about a pain specialist, though. Even in the Vicodin days, House tended to resent his leg anyway enough to resent a designated appointment and examination to evaluate it, but the ibuprofen really was not working, in spite of Nolan and the staff at Mayfield recommending it. Furthermore, he was starting to feel his stomach rebel, and a bleeding ulcer from overuse of NSAIDs wasn't an improvement over a stressed liver from acetaminophen.
A rattle came from down the hall, and House froze, his blood running cold, his heart skipping a beat.
Someone was in the apartment with him.
As stealthily as he could, he achieved a vertical state, flinching at the pain in his ribs, waited for his leg to resign itself to function, and then crept down the hall in sock feet, gripping his cane firmly, prepared to make it a weapon instead of a support. He could hear better now, someone just around the corner in the kitchen nook. House raised the cane, turned the corner, and almost dislocated a shoulder and pulled his cracked ribs apart trying to stop the blow just as Wilson turned around unknowingly to leave the kitchen and nearly took the whack across the face. The cane thunked against his chest, most of the force pulled, as House staggered and saved himself from falling only by catching himself with his right hand on the wall.
"What the hell?" Wilson stared at House, then down at the fallen cane. "It's me, House."
House was still breathing rapidly, left arm braced against his ribs. "What the hell are you sneaking into my apartment for while I'm asleep?"
"I wasn't sneaking. I have a key." Understanding abruptly flooded the oncologist's eyes. "Wait a minute, did you think somebody else had come to do something to you?"
"Well considering that the last time somebody entered the apartment while I was lying down, I was assaulted, and the time before that while I was asleep, I was force fed Vicodin, yes, when I heard somebody creeping around, you weren't my first candidate."
"I'm sorry, House. I wasn't thinking. Are you all right?" he asked. House was still leaning against the wall, weight off his right leg, left arm bracing his ribs.
"Just great. Do you have any idea how close your head came to being a baseball?"
"I'm sorry," Wilson repeated. "I knew you were asleep, and I was trying not to wake you up. I should have called first." Wilson reached out to touch his friend's arm. "Why don't you sit down?"
"Thanks, since it's my apartment, I think I will." House limped over and sat on the couch, grabbing an ibuprofen bottle on the coffee table and gulping two. His heart rate gradually began to slow.
Wilson followed him anxiously. "I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. I didn't realize when you called early this morning that Tritter had hurt you. You didn't mention it. I would have checked on you when you came in; I was still in the hospital."
"I hurt him, too," House pointed out with satisfaction.
Wilson grinned. "Yes, you did. Chase got an update on him from the police, by the way. He's in Princeton General - he has a mild concussion - but he's also been committed for psychiatric evaluation. The man has apparently totally lost it. He kept insisting that it was his appointed mission to prove to the world what you really were like, and that the police and the hospital staff were interfering and would be punished by divine curse. They've had to restrain him. I think last night really knocked him over the edge."
House remembered the glitter in the detective's eyes, the look of fanaticism, the look of a megalomaniac. "I never thought he was totally mentally stable anyway."
"And yet you antagonized him years ago, of course," Wilson pointed out.
"Only after he assaulted me," House replied. Wilson looked astonished. "Yes, he assaulted me before I ever touched him with a thermometer. Kicked my cane out from under me in the exam room."
Wilson shook his head. "I never even asked what started it. Listen, House, I'm sorry. For everything."
"Is that why you were sneaking into my apartment? To apologize?"
"Partly. I also wanted to make some macadamia nut pancakes for when you woke up. And I wanted to tell you that Sam is history. Charges for her are the lightest, just conspiracy and not direct action, but I bailed her out so she could hit the highway. I was wrong about her - and about you. You can move back into the loft."
"No," House replied, his tone pleasant but with iron rods running through the middle of it.
Wilson stuttered slightly over that, having not expected it. "But . . . but . . . Sam's gone, House. You can come back now."
"Sam wasn't the one who wanted me to leave," House reminded him. "You were."
"I . . . I didn't really mean that. I wasn't thinking clearly. I was just wrapped up in wanting that to work. I apologize, okay?"
"Okay, but I'm not coming back. I'm going to try living here again in my own apartment."
Wilson was still scrambling to wrap his head around this. It had never occurred to him that House wouldn't come back as soon as the opportunity arose. "But we bought the loft."
"No, you bought the loft, as you have made sure to tell me several times, usually when I was trying to use your bathtub to soak my leg."
"That's not fair, House, to . . ."
House's voice cut straight across his protests. "Damn right, that's not fair. You wanted me there to make you feel useful, but you didn't want me to ever forget whose place I was living in. You refused to even get a bed for the Amber shrine for weeks. You wanted me to sleep in there with pictures of the woman I'd just gotten out of the loony bin for hallucinating. You made me think I was hallucinating again and even when you were aware of that fear did nothing to explain to me what was really going on. You didn't want me using the tub when my leg was tied up into knots a sailor couldn't have undone. You paid people to spend time with me so you wouldn't have to. All this year, you've been teetering on a seesaw whether you really wanted me around in your apartment or not, in spite of what you said to Nolan. I appreciate you giving me the place to live, Wilson, but I think it's time for both of us to go back to our own separate places."
Wilson stared. "You mean you don't want to be friends?"
"YES, I want to be friends. But I think that at this point, we are feeding off each other's problems more than we are helping each other by spending that amount of time together. And yes, I said each other's problems. Wilson, you need help nearly as much as I do. You talk to your dead girlfriend who's been gone 6 times as long as you even knew her. You put yourself into life-threatening surgery for people you only meet once a year who suddenly call themselves your best friend just to manipulate you. I have problems, and I'm working on them, but I really think you need a shrink badly yourself."
Wilson's mouth was hanging open. "You think I'm screwed up."
"Yes. I think you are a friend, and I also think you're screwed up. Please, Wilson, get some help yourself. Your current therapist isn't earning his fee."
Wilson was still stunned. "You think I'm screwed up," he repeated.
"Yes. We're both screwed up. At least I admit it. I think we've gotten to a point that we'll both focus better on our separate issues living apart."
Wilson slowly stood up. "Do you want my key back?"
"No. I'm not saying we can't be friends. I'm saying please start working on your own issues, too. I have a lot to keep working on myself, but I am trying."
The oncologist stared at him. "The pancakes are in plastic container with a lid by the stove," he said. He turned and walked out. House flinched, feeling sorry for him, but he really did think that Wilson needed some help himself - his blindness with Sam just confirming this - and he also thought that they didn't need to be living together any longer. He'd expected Wilson to sputter, lock up, and walk out whenever this conversation came. He only hoped the oncologist would think about it, process it, and actually start to listen to the words later.
House was just finishing the pancakes when a knock came at the door. He stood up, peered through the peep hole - it would take him a while to forget Tritter coming in here - and then opened the door.
"Can we talk?" Cuddy asked.
"Uh oh. The three most dreaded words in the English language," House quipped. "I didn't do it. I've been asleep all day." He stepped back, letting her in.
"How are you feeling?"
"Sore but alive." He dropped onto the couch, and she sat down in the chair.
"I really am . . ."
"I know, you're sorry. You don't have to say it 100 times, Cuddy. Yes, you were blind, but he's a con artist."
She shuddered. "I can't stop watching that video. I nearly married . . .THAT." Her tone couldn't have been more disgusted had she found a tarantula in her bed. "And the things he said, the things he'd picked up from me . . . House, I am so sorry for this last year. I have been proud of your recovery and your efforts, but I just was afraid to show anything. I was trying to make myself not think of you, trying to convince myself I wasn't settling." She looked across at him. "But it never worked. The whole time with Lucas, I kept thinking of you. It's always been you, always. I'm sorry I tried to look other places. None of them have your dazzling eyes, or your sense of humor, or your razor-sharp mind, or any of dozens of other things about you I could list off. You are the one I want." She paused. "House, do you think there is any way that we could work?"
House closed his eyes, seeing what he'd dreamed about, what he'd hallucinated about, right in front of him, hearing words he'd longed to hear for years - and knowing that neither one of them was in any shape right now to be starting a new relationship.
"House?" Cuddy was sounding worried now, though he couldn't tell whether for him physically or for wondering if he didn't want her.
He opened his eyes. "I think . . . that both of us have some other things we need to focus on right now. I don't need to be your rebound from Lucas, and you don't need to be my rebound from Vicodin. I think - I hope - maybe, someday, yes. But I know that today isn't someday. Right now, after the past year, we aren't ready for this." He broke off because she was staring at him in near shock. "What?"
"You have made so much progress this year, and you just confirmed it." She gave him a watery smile. "You're right. You always are. Damn you; it really gets annoying."
He sat up a little straighter in the couch cushions, flinching as his ribs pulled. "I'm not saying no, Cuddy. I want you. I've always wanted you."
"I know. You're saying we need to get our respective heads on straighter first."
"Right." He shook that head. "I'm still learning how to relate to people. I'm still struggling to stay off Vicodin - and I'm on my way to becoming an alcoholic. I'm going to start therapy again, and Chase invited me to AA with him."
She straightened up, just a flash of the administrator showing through. "That's great, House, but Chase is going to AA?"
"Yes. Which is good. Don't penalize him for trying to stop digging and start to climb out of the hole."
"I won't," she promised. "I was just surprised. I had no idea. I guess I've missed a lot this past year while I was having my own delusion. I know I haven't been as good at the hospital as I used to. And you're right, I need to work through some things myself first."
"This is too important to screw up from the start," he told her.
She nodded. "Okay. You're right. But someday."
"Someday," he confirmed.
She got up and walked over to the couch, bending over to pick up his hand. "House, you are worth waiting for." She gave his hand a squeeze, and he squeezed it back, and then she gave him the lightest brushing kiss, a promise for the future. "Don't get up; I know it makes your ribs hurt. I'll see you at the hospital tomorrow, assuming you feel like coming in."
"See you tomorrow," he said. "And Cuddy?"
She turned back at the door to look at him. "What?"
"Maybe while we're both working on things, we could only be friends. Just temporarily." His blue eyes were sparkling. She did love those eyes.
She laughed. "I'd like that. Just temporarily, mind you. Bye, House." She turned and left, and he sat there on the couch wondering how many moods it was possible for the human soul to hit in the short span of a few days.
Someday. She was worth waiting for. Maybe he was, too.
The final knock came just as he was thinking of hauling his sore bones off to bed. He lurched up and went to the door, looking through the peephole, then straightening up in surprise. He swung the door open. "What are you doing here?"
Nolan met his eyes directly. "I owe you an apology," he said immediately.
"Ever hear of phones?"
"I owe you an apology in person. This is far more important than the drive. May I come in?"
House stepped back and let the psychiatrist enter. "Sit down," he said.
Nolan picked a chair, and House returned to the couch. "Dr. Cuddy called me to explain what happened," he said. "I completely misjudged you, and I pulled a support out from under you in the middle of a crisis by influencing her down that path. That was wrong of me. I should have been willing to listen. I've been thinking more about our last appointment, too, and I think I also was too judgmental, too quick off the mark there. I pushed you to leave; I don't think you really wanted to. I was not reading your signals at all. I'd had a tough day with other patients, but that is no excuse. I take full responsibility for driving you away that day, and I apologize."
House was staring. The list of adults who had, without any modification or excuse, ever apologized to him for anything was a quite short one. He was always perceived as the screw up. "I . . ." He stalled. In the face of such unmixed remorse and sincerity, he wasn't sure how to respond.
Nolan continued. "Dr. Cuddy also forwarded me the video link to last night. Detective Tritter was dead wrong, as were your friends, as was I, and I want you to know how proud I was seeing you spit out that Vicodin pill, even in the middle of a fight, even in extreme pain. Well done, House." Nolan stood up. "You don't have to say anything. I understand if you still don't want to work with me, but I wish you would continue with somebody. I can make a few suggestions, if you like."
"I'm going to start going to AA," House said abruptly. "I got invited by Chase, actually. He's going."
"Good. Excellent idea. I also dropped the ball in that session on exploring your drinking. I was too preoccupied with my agenda to listen. Maybe if I'd asked a few more questions, that night wouldn't have ended as it had." Nolan nodded toward House and then turned to the door. "I'll let myself out."
"Nolan?" House asked as the psychiatrist was almost through the door.
Nolan turned back instantly. "Yes?"
"Same time next week?"
Nolan smiled at him. "I'll write it down."
Pure serene lyrical melody. House's baby grand sings, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, the steady melody filling his apartment, the occasional dissonances quickly resolving.
Cuddy sits in the floor at her home, playing with Rachel. Both are laughing. Camera pans to her desk, where we see a picture of Lucas cut into pieces, the engagement ring sitting on the desk, and a search for jewelry buyers on her computer.
The Princeton jail. Lucas tries another number. Surely he has one friend who can bail him out.
Chase is out taking an evening walk. He hesitates on the sidewalk outside a bar, then walks on by.
Wilson is in bed at his apartment. He starts talking to Amber, complaining about the day, but slowly trails to a stop. In bed beside him are the yellow pages, turned to psychiatrists. He looks from the listings to a picture of Amber back to the listings and looks contemplative.
Back in House's apartment, the Moonlight Sonata proceeds inevitably to a close, and the last two chords peacefully fade into silence. House studies his hands on the keys for a moment, then reaches up to get a drink from the coaster on top of the piano. The camera pans in, and we see that it is a can of ginger ale.
END OF SEASON 6