AN: I did some updating to make the story fit within the series. Since there apparently is one, now. ^^)
It was still dark when he finally silenced the alarm. Lying still for a moment, he gathered his scattered thoughts and rolled onto his side. Reaching to the bedside table, he checked his pager instinctively; relieved to find no codes on the blue screen. No overnight crises with his patients—or House—that he'd missed. For House's first week home he'd moved onto his couch. It had only been with House's urging that he'd returned home to sleep for one night. House was a big boy—or so he'd pointed out—and he did have to manage by himself at some point. Wilson had resigned himself to that fact, and consoled himself that House had likely taken his night meds and passed out again.
He sat up, lingering for a moment longer in the warmth before he slid out of bed into the chill of the room. Julie was still sleeping, and he kissed the top of her head before he gathered his clothes and headed for the bathroom. He padded barefoot down the hall; feeling the chill from the hardwood floor creep into his bones. He sighed then, turning the light on and depositing his clothes on the hamper before closing the door.
Showering and dressing hadn't taken long, but by the time he'd stepped out of the bathroom Julie had disappeared. To the kitchen, he decided; scenting coffee in the air. He balled up his pajama pants and t-shirt and clipped his pager to his belt. Standing before the mirror on the dresser he quickly knotted his tie and smoothed it down before donning his suit coat. He made his way downstairs, pausing only to snatch his briefcase and a few charts from his home office.
"Morning," he called, leaning in to kiss her.
"Morning." she rejoined. She held out a mug, and he took it gratefully. He sank down onto a stool at the counter and sipped happily; relishing in the warmth of the mug in his hands and the hot coffee running down his throat.
"Are you going to have time for breakfast?" she asked, and he considered it carefully as he took another gulp. He toyed absently with the mug in his hands; knowing instinctively that if he was feeling the cold, House had already been lost to it.
"No." he said finally, and Julie nodded expectantly. As he rose to his feet she snatched his half-full mug out of his grasp. He blinked at her in surprise; too stunned to react until she replaced it with a metal travel mug.
"Thank you." He smiled at her, and kissed her deeply before moving away to the door.
"Say hi to House." She called from the kitchen sink where she washed away the remnants of his coffee before appearing in the doorway with a towel in her hands. She looked so beautiful in that moment that he impulsively leaned in to kiss her again.
"I will." He promised. He set his coffee aside to don his coat and gloves, and gathered his briefcase before taking up the mug and moving out into the garage. Settling into the driver's seat, he waited for the engine to catch before backing out of the driveway. Grateful for his heated seats, he eased out into the road. The snow had been cleared away from the night before, but the roads were still slick. He'd have to watch his speed if he wanted to avoid a spinout. Sipping his coffee, he anxiously cranked the heater up and waited for it to get warm.
Instead of the usual ten minutes to House's apartment, it had taken him nearly twenty. He'd carefully negotiated every turn and crept through every intersection. Luckily, the combination of the snow and the cold had kept all but the hardiest at home this early in the morning. He'd parked in his usual place and reluctantly left the warmth of his car to sprint up the sidewalk and into House's building. Stomping the snow from his shoes, he checked carefully to be sure that every last bit had been shed before drawing his key out. The last thing House needed was a slick spot on the floor of his apartment.
His key stuck in the lock, and Wilson ruefully reminded himself for the nth time to fix it later. Jiggling the door handle, he managed to jimmy the lock and he slipped inside quietly. Setting his briefcase down, he stepped out of his shoes and wiggled out of his coat before laying it across the back of the couch. The TV was off, the curtains still drawn. The apartment was dark and still. Good. He knew his constant worrying only irritated House; but he worried about him falling when he was home alone. This morning though, the darkness breathed all around him as he stole on stockinged feet through the apartment to the bedroom in the back.
"House? Time to rise and shine." he called, pushing the bedroom door open and stepping inside. On the bed, House shifted; grunting. He blinked tiredly at Wilson before pulling a pillow over his head.
"What're you doing here?" he mumbled. Sighing, Wilson pushed away from the door and sat down on the bed carefully. Irritated, House pulled the pillow back and tried to glare at him. Unfortunately, he was still flying high from his overnight dose of meds and he looked more wasted than angry.
"You took the Embeda?" Wilson asked clinically. He couldn't see House's pupils, but he could tell from House's dopey expression that he was fairly comfortable for the moment.
"It's what you left it for, right?" House asked rhetorically.
"I'm just surprised that you took it." Wilson leaned over to the table and turned the lamp on. Gesturing for House to tilt his head back, he used the lamp light to study House's constricted pupils.
"Nice and stoned, I see." He intoned, and House snorted.
"But there was." Wilson pressed, and House nodded reluctantly.
"Ready to hit the shower?"
"Too bad." Wilson rose from the bed and stripped off his suit jacket. Throwing it over a chair, he held out his hands and helped House into a sitting position. While House became re-accustomed to being semi-upright, Wilson moved into the bathroom and turned the lights on; lifted the toilet seat, and turned the shower on. Returning to the bed, he found House had already slid over to the edge of the bed and was preparing to slip into the wheelchair.
"You couldn't wait?" he asked in exasperation.
"I can do this." House insisted, and Wilson rubbed the back of his neck anxiously. House balanced precariously on his left hip as he attempted to slide from the bed to the wheelchair. His difficulty lay in his current inability to move his right leg at all. He couldn't bend it, couldn't straighten it; he had no control over it. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to shift it enough to enable him to make the move into the chair from the angle he was at. Wilson tried—and failed—to hide his disappointment as he stepped behind House and bodily lifted him into the chair. He did so easily, the amount of weight House had lost was staggering; every time he lifted his friend he was reminded of just how far he had to go in his recovery.
"I was fine. I can do it without you interfering." House insisted angrily, and Wilson sighed.
"You gonna wipe my ass, too?"
"You can wipe your own ass. Now shut up. I'm giving you five minutes on the throne, and then it's time to hit the shower." Wilson grabbed the handles of the chair and moved it closer to the sink; lest House be tempted to try again.
Wilson had returned five minutes later to find House waiting for him sheepishly. Having removed his oversized t-shirt, he was completely naked. He'd been in agony the day he'd cadged Wilson into helping him into his shorts; since then he'd opted to simply freeball it at home. Like many things Wilson had done since he'd brought his friend home; he ignored it.
"Color?" he asked as he threw the curtain back and produced the garbage bag he'd brought to wrap the leg.
"Still rusty." House acknowledged reluctantly. Wilson took great care as he slid the end of the bag over House's foot and drew the bag up the length of his leg to the top of the bandage. He let House tie it himself, though.
"Then it looks like you're still going for your dialysis appointment today."
Wilson scooped House off the toilet and deposited him on the plastic chair in one swift movement, leaving his legs dangling over the side of the wall. Taking House's ankle, he held the calf firmly aloft while House slowly swiveled on the chair to position himself under the water. When House was in position, Wilson slowly lowered his foot to the floor of the tub.
"Good?" he asked quietly. House nodded, pinched features slowly smoothing as the pain from moving the leg began to subside.
"All right, get to it. I'll be back in a few minutes."
Leaving House to his own devices, he'd retreated to the kitchen to start some coffee and find something that House might be interested in eating. Dumping water into the reservoir, he returned the carafe to the base and flicked the switch. He kept an ear on the bathroom though; hoping House was coping well in the shower. Surveying the contents of the 'fridge, he reminded himself again to hit the store. House still wasn't interested in eating for the most part—pain and the medications conspired to rob him of his appetite. Since his release nearly a week ago, Wilson hadn't managed to get anything into him during his weekday therapy sessions, and had resorted to threats to get him to eat over the weekend. Still, he'd had little more than a couple pieces of toast and two or three bananas over the course of two days. Hardly enough to keep his digestive system moving. Granted, House had been into the hospital daily for the first five days, still receiving TPN when he'd gone in for his appointments. But the idea behind releasing him had been to wean him from the parenteral nutrition, not to increase it.
"Wilson! I'm done!" House called, and Wilson hurriedly closed the fridge door and made his way down the hall. Pushing the door open, he found House, naked, wet; waiting for him. In a reversal of their getting-into-the-shower routine, he supported House's leg while he swiveled on the chair and then set his foot down on the floor. He tossed House a towel, and let him dry what he could reach while he maneuvered the wheelchair into position.
Back in the bedroom, he'd helped House slide on a new t-shirt, a fleecy sweatshirt, loose fitting boxers and a pair of rip-away pants. Without needing to ask, he'd slid a sock onto House's left foot—there was no way he could reach it to do it himself—and slid a shoe onto that foot as well. On the right foot, he gingerly lifted the ankle and slipped on a soft-soled slipper. Sitting back on his haunches, he looked to House and waited for his nod of approval before rising to his feet.
"Feel like breakfast?" he asked casually as he took the handles of the chair and guided House down the hall. He could push himself— he preferred to, most of the time. But he was still foggy from the Embeda he'd taken earlier, and now wiped out by the effort of getting showered and dressed. He sat passively while Wilson brought him into the living room.
"No." House muttered, staring down at his feet.
"You need to eat, House. You've lost probably-"
"I know what I've lost." he said bitterly.
Wilson rubbed the back of his neck, at a loss for words. "Okay." he said simply. Shaking himself, he settled on the arm of the couch and studied his friend quietly.
"What's the schedule for the day?" he asked gently.
House shrugged. "Same as Friday. Labs at 8. PT at 8:45. Dialysis at 11—probably a four to six hour cycle. TPN after dialysis."
"Okay. I'll get the car warmed up." Wilson rose to his feet, and retraced his steps into the bedroom. He grabbed his jacket off the back of the chair he'd thrown it on. Slipping it on, he picked up his keys and dashed out to the car. After hurriedly starting it, he'd run back inside as well. House was sitting as he had been, staring sullenly at his feet.
Wilson sighed as he closed the door; of late, House had been slowly slipping into depression. It was only natural, he knew, given the prognosis for his leg, Stacy's departure and House's unrelenting therapy schedule. Still, watching House slowly withdraw into himself was difficult.
"I made coffee." he offered, and House looked up, and gave him a small smile.
"Want a cup to go?" he asked lightly, and House nodded. Back in the kitchen, he quickly located a travel mug and filled it to the brim before snapping the lid on. Making certain the coffee maker was off; he offered the mug to House, who slowly took it.
"Want a blanket?" he asked gently, and House shook his head.
"No, I'm fine. Let's go." he said impatiently.
The hospital was bustling as always when they arrived. Wilson had parked in the closest handicapped spot and helped House into his chair. Despite his attempt to pick a dry space, the snow and slush was everywhere and House gave him a despairing look. Chuckling, he handed House his mug again and wheeled him into the lobby.
"Thanks." House muttered, and Wilson pretended not to hear him as he retrieved his mug.
"You got it from here?" he asked lightly.
"Yeah." House nodded, settling his mug between his left leg and the chair's armrest.
"All right then. See you after TPN."
House reluctantly gripped the rims of the wheels and headed for the elevator. Wilson watched, waiting until he was out of sight before slowly taking the stairs. With each step, he felt his heart sink; House would probably never take the stairs again, he thought ruefully.
On the fourth floor, the Oncology ward was already bustling. Still sporting his winter coat and briefcase, he passed almost invisibly through the hall leading to the office wing. Crossing the reception area, he nodded a good morning to Jen, behind the desk.
"Morning, Dr. Wilson." she called.
"Morning." he called back. He set his mug atop a filing cabinet and fished his keys out. Juggling the mug and his briefcase, he all but stumbled into his office. Smirking, he set his briefcase down, but held onto the mug to savor the last gulp. He chuckled then; House wouldn't part with money to buy food, but he did splurge on his coffee.
"Dr. Wilson?" Alicia, his assistant, was standing in the doorway clutching a file. She looked disheveled, and Wilson felt his heart sink. Alicia was normally very composed; for her to look so stricken at this hour was disheartening. "It's Adam." she said softly.
"Relapse?" he asked kindly, and took the file from her. Adam was a favorite on the pediatric ward; he'd been in remission for his AML for nearly a year now, but he'd been in treatment for most of his four years.
"Progression. He came in this morning to the ER. Jaundiced. Lab work shows his ALT and AST are off the charts. BUN and creatinine are in the tank. No urine output the past three days."
"Renal failure. Could be acute, there's no reason to assume the worst until tests are done." Wilson theorized, sinking down behind his desk with the chart in his hand.
"He's being transferred from the ER sometime soon. I thought you should have the file as soon as possible: Kim's asking for you to see him as soon as he's on the floor."
"Of course." he agreed, still lost in the labs. He looked up though, and tried to give Alicia a reassuring smile. "Let her know I'll be down to see him shortly. I want to review his chart."
"I'll let her know." Alicia nodded in relief. "Also, John Anderson asked to see you when you have time. He had some questions about the cisplatin trial you'd mentioned."
"All right." he promised. "I'll be out for rounds shortly."
It wasn't until Alicia left that he realized he was still wearing his winter coat. Rising, he removed it and hung it on the coat tree thoughtfully. Adam's relapse and subsequent re-admission was not the way he'd wanted to start off his week; though the news about John was promising. He'd been strongly against any clinical trials—not wanting to take the chance of side effects or the false hope—but given that his cancer hadn't responded well to traditional chemo and radiation, Wilson had seized the opportunity to bring the trials up once more.
Sighing, he sank down behind his desk and snatched the phone; dialing the number for the lab from memory.
"Lab, this is Chrissy."
"Chrissy, it's Dr. Wilson. Did House make it down there?"
"He did. I'm spinning the sample now. Should be about half-an-hour." she said, and Wilson nodded; forgetting that she couldn't see him.
"Let me know when you have the results?"
"Will do." she promised. "I'll call you when they're in."
"Thanks." he hung up then, and returned to Adam's chart to study his admission labs. It was nearly nine before Chrissy called back; House's BUN/creatinine was 38; still out of range but still fairly low for him of late. AST was 127, ALT was 335. His Alkaline Phosphate had fallen slightly to 137. Everything still out of whack, but slowly coming back into range. Wilson sighed then; relieved that House had made it through his first weekend at home in four months without backsliding. Glancing at his watch, he found it was well past nine by the time he finished, and donned his lab coat in a hurry. House was in PT now; and when he finished there a nurse would help him shower and change again for dialysis.
As for himself, he had rounds to make.
Adam had been settled in the pediatric ward by the time he'd arrived. He seemed in good spirits. His mother, on the other hand, had been nearly beside herself. He'd put his head in the room and told Adam he was taking his mom out for coffee; then he'd taken Kim into his office and let her spill her grief and fear in private. Once she'd been calm, he'd gone through his chart with her and spelled out every option available to them. By the time she'd left; she'd been more composed and he'd been the one ready to rage at the world. Instead, he'd made a call to Nephro and found House was undergoing dialysis. He was actually sleeping, or so the nurse said. Wilson had chuckled at that; unsurprised. House had to be tired after his PT session, and though he was a patient at the moment; his busy therapy schedule was the most work he'd done since the infarction. Then it had been on to Reggie Anderson with a slew of research information for him to read through. His other patients had been doing well for the most part; with the exception of a few tests to order, there had been little to do with them but routine follow up.
Back in his office, he'd hurried through a late lunch and made one more surreptitious call to the lab; House was just settling in for his TPN. He was, according to Gina, pedantic and whiny. She'd heard from Nephro that he'd slept through dialysis, and she bluntly told him she hoped he'd do the same for his TPN. House hadn't gained any weight, but she assured him he hadn't lost anything either. They had his labs from earlier, and had already calculated the adjusted electrolytes. The infusion was about to start. He thanked her then, and hung up; reassured that House was doing well for the moment. Another set of rounds, and he'd been finished for the afternoon. Adam had been sleeping between tests when he'd checked on him, and Alicia had promised to keep an eye out for the results of the labs he'd ordered. He finished his charting, and loosened his tie as he got to his feet. Donning his coat again, he packed a couple of journals in his briefcase and headed for the door. Lost in thought, he left the Oncology ward silently and made his way down to the lab on the second floor.
"Dr. Wilson, good afternoon." One of the lab nurses rose from behind the desk and leaned over it, flirtatiously. "What can we do for you?" she asked sweetly.
Wilson smiled automatically; though he couldn't recall her name.
"Is House done with his TPN, yet?"
"House?" she asked, flipping through the names on an array of charts. "Gregory House?"
"The infusion is set to run for another fifteen minutes. Would you like a call when he's done?"
"You know, I think I'll wait with him." Flashing a disarming smile, he slipped around the desk and back into the infusion center. Comfortable armchairs lined the walls; though only a few people were present at this hour of the day. Rounding the corner, he could see House was out for the count in his armchair. His leg was propped on the ottoman in front of him with several pillows to keep the knee flexed. Smiling, he put a finger to his lips as Gina came to meet him.
"How long did it take for him to fall asleep?" he asked her in a low voice.
To his surprise, she smiled too. "Shortly after we began the cycle. I found out from Nephro that they slipped him some morphine. About 2 mL."
"You didn't give him anything, did you?"
"No. He didn't mention any pain, and since he fell asleep I saw no reason to top him off."
"Great. The slow release Embeda seems to be working for him."
"Yes. I discussed his current medication regime with nephro and cardiology, too. We agreed he should stay where he is with his doses, and continue getting most of them here, with the exception of the Embeda prn. His labs are looking better. I assume you saw his blood work from this morning?"
"Yes. Still high but coming into range." Wilson sighed, and rubbed his neck. "How long do you anticipate him needing TPN?"
"That depends on him. He can't afford to lose more, and he's been shy p.o. since the original infarction. That's four months now without adequate nutrition."
Wilson winced; she sounded so clinical when she put it that way. He knew better than anyone how much weight House had lost—always slender, House was nearly skeletal now.
"Aside from the weight loss, it's still a battle for his electrolyte counts. Both from the renal failure and the cardiac arrest. Even if he was to regain most of the weight he's lost within the next few weeks, I think we're still looking at occasional infusions to correct the electrolytes."
"Thanks, Gina." he said softly, and she patted his arm reassuringly.
"We'll take care of him. Even if he is a cranky bastard." Her smile took the sting out of her words, and Wilson chuckled. He set his briefcase down in an empty chair, and sank down next to House. Leaning back in the chair, he tuned into the news and drifted for a time.
Fifteen minutes later, he opened his eyes to see Gina was disconnecting the pump from House's PICC line. House was still asleep, breathing slowly.
"He's all yours." she said dryly, and Wilson grinned. Sitting up, he gently squeezed House's shoulder and was rewarded with a glare.
"Good morning, sunshine." he said in a sing-song voice. House grunted then, easing himself upright. "Ready to go home?"
"Infusion's done?" he asked groggily.
"You slept through it." Wilson got to his feet, and retrieved House's chair. "Just like you slept through dialysis."
"Oh." House struggled to lift his right leg off the mound of pillows, and Wilson let him try for a moment before intervening. He gently held the leg while he moved the ottoman, and set the foot on the floor slowly. He studied his friend closely; House was sluggish after a dose of IV morphine and a long day. But he seemed otherwise none the worse for wear. He waited 'til House seemed ready, and then helped transfer him back into the wheelchair again.
"Is this therapy schedule too much for you?" he asked kindly. "We can rearrange it some. Maybe get mobile dialysis or TPN. Or both." Wilson let him settle into the chair while he retrieved his briefcase. Casting a look around, he found nothing else that belonged to either of them. Grasping the handles of the chair, he slowly pushed it out of the lab toward the elevator.
"The schedule's fine." House said at length, even as he smothered a yawn. "It's the morphine."
"Gina said Nephro gave you a top off. Were you having breakthrough pain?"
"Yeah." he yawned again, and Wilson smiled. "Right after PT. Went long. Didn't have time to get it there before dialysis."
Wilson nodded to himself; that made the most sense. And it wasn't surprising. He said nothing more as they boarded the elevator and rode down to the lobby. He watched House's head dip slowly throughout the ride, and smirked when he gave a little start and woke up.
"Just go with it, House." he said softly.
"M'fine." House mumbled. A moment later his head dipped again. This time, Wilson refrained from commenting. House started awake when the elevator doors dinged, and managed to stay awake as they crossed the lobby and exited the hospital. Once outside, the cold was enough to keep him alert while Wilson helped him slide from the chair into the passenger seat. But in the time it took for Wilson to stow the chair and make his way into the car, House was dead asleep with his head resting against the window. Feeling like a parent with a newborn, he reached across and buckled him in before starting the car and heading home.
The drive back to House's apartment was better than his morning drive had been. The snow and slush had mostly been cleared from the streets. Wilson had driven in the silence, watching House out of the corner of his eye. Once parked outside of his building, he'd left the heater running while he'd taken his briefcase inside and retrieved the chair. He'set it up outside the passenger door and tapped on the window, gently.
"House?" he called, and rapped the glass again. He was rewarded with movement; House's eyelashes fluttered and he lifted his cheek from the glass. Seizing the opportunity, Wilson opened the door and caught House's shoulder to keep him from falling out of the car.
"House? Need you to wake up a little bit for me, okay?"
"I'm awake." House muttered, but he didn't really look like it.
"Good." Wilson reached in and unbuckled him. "Listen, I can support you when you move, but I can't really carry you very far. Need you to help me get you out of the car."
House nodded, and did his best to help Wilson get him into the chair. Fortunately, the cold revived him again and they made it into the apartment.
"Okay, let's get you to bed." Wilson started to steer him back into the bedroom, but paused when House voiced his complaint.
"No, on the couch."
"You'll be asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow." Or sooner, Wilson told himself. Under half-lidded eyes, House was awake only through sheer force of will.
"I want to watch TV."
"House—" Wilson sighed, his voice trailing off. What difference did it make, he asked himself. None, really. Whether House slept in bed or out on the couch made little difference, so long as his leg was well supported. He relented then, transferring House onto the couch and settling him in with the remote. He made his way into the bedroom to retrieve pillows; unsurprised when he returned to find House hadn't made it off the TiVo screen before he'd fallen asleep.
Smiling wryly, he carefully slid the pillows into place and pulled the afghan off the back of the couch and draped it over him. Taking the remote, Wilson scrolled through the pre-recorded shows and chose a New Yankee workshop episode before setting the remote on the table.
Wilson had settled for checking on House intermittently through the evening. Despite his desire to watch TV, House hadn't so much as twitched since he'd fallen asleep. He settled into the armchair and checked in with Julie. She'd been happy to hear from him, but disappointed that he wasn't going to be home for dinner.
"That's all right, I guess. Will you be home later?"
"Depends on how House is, Jule. I think he'll be all right tonight, but I want to make sure."
"I miss you, James." she cajoled, and he sighed.
"House needs me." he reiterated.
"I need you, too." she retorted, and James rolled his eyes. Leaning forward, he rested his elbows on his knees and stared at House's sleeping form.
"I'll wake him up here in a bit, and see how he feels about it."
"I love you, James." she said sweetly, and Wilson grimaced.
"Love you too, Jule. I'll call you later." he promised, and hung up.
On the couch, House stirred finally. His blue eyes were still foggy; but clearing. They sparkled dimly with amusement.
"Boy, are you whipped." he said hoarsely.
"Shut up, House." Wilson rose to his feet to get a glass of water while House snickered sleepily at him. Sitting on the edge of the coffee table, he held the glass out and let House try to sit up on his own before helping him with a pillow.
House took a big gulp of water, and then handed the glass back to him. "Go home, Wilson. Spend some time with your wife."
"If you're sure?" Wilson asked, setting the glass on the table in his reach.
"Want something to eat?" he asked, and House blinked at him.
"Thought we established you were going home?" he asked in confusion.
"I will. When I'm ready. However, I did ask a question. Do you want something to eat?"
"Not really." he patted his stomach for emphasis. "All filled up from TPN today. No room."
"House—" he blew out a deep breath. "You have to eat. You can't live on TPN forever."
"Actually, I can. Lots of people do." House pointed out smugly.
"Why don't you want to eat?" Wilson asked sadly. "You're avoiding it."
House looked down, his gaze distant. "Meds turn my stomach. The Coumadin and the Embeda and the hundreds of other meds I'm on. If it doesn't turn my stomach going down, it's the constipation on the way out."
"You can't avoid some of that, House. You know that."
"I know. But maybe—maybe I won't be on the morphine derivatives for very long."
Wilson watched as House met his eyes shyly. He sighed then, and reviewed his inventory of the cabinets. "What if we compromise? Stick to soup and liquids for now?"
House considered his idea, and nodded slowly.
"I'll make some soup for now. Feel like anything besides water?"
"Fine, soup it is."
Wilson easily located a can of vegetable soup and a saucepan; it was an easy task to open it and add a can of water. Leaving the soup to warm, he checked the 'fridge again for the bread he'd found earlier. Pleased that he'd gotten House to acknowledge his anorexia, he returned to the living room to find House firing away on the remote.
"Anything good on?" he asked, leaning over the back of the couch.
"MacGyver repeats. Babylon 5. News." House sounded morose, and Wilson smirked.
"So no, then."
"No. I haven't been awake to watch TV in four months, and there's still nothing on." he complained.
"Movie?" Wilson asked, rounding the couch to survey House's VHS collection.
"Seen 'em all." he brightened then, raising up on one elbow. "There should be a tape of my soaps. Maybe in the VCR?"
Wilson found the tape was still in the VCR; House anxiously rewound it. In the relative silence with only the tape whining, Wilson sank down in the armchair again.
"How's the pain?"
House shrugged. "Okay, for now. About a four."
"When do you take your next dose?"
He checked his watch absently. "Already took it." At Wilson's disbelieving look, he sighed. "Twelve hour doses. Took the last one at four this morning."
"So you took one this afternoon at four?" Given that House had been dosed with 2 mL of morphine at roughly eleven that morning, it was no surprise that the combination had knocked him out for most of the afternoon.
"Great. Next time, if you could stretch the dose to a time, say, when I'm not trying to get you out of the car; that would be appreciated."
"I'll keep that in mind." House said dryly.
Wilson got to his feet, and returned to the kitchen to check on his soup. Finding it warm, he ladled it into bowls, adding a slice of bread with his own before returning to the living room. House was already engrossed in his VHS by then; and Wilson watched as he absently ate most of the soup before setting it aside.
It wasn't ten minutes after he'd finished eating that House was nodding off again; Wilson hurried through the dishes and turned down the bed before settling on the coffee table again.
"House?" he called, and grinned when House's eyes fluttered open sleepily. "Bed time."
"No. I'm fine here."
"House. C'mon. You're falling asleep out here. And I won't leave if you stay on the couch all night."
House begrudgingly let Wilson help him sit up, and lift him back into the chair. He drew the line, however, at letting Wilson help him in the bathroom.
"No potty break tonight, Wilson. And I'm a big boy. I can brush my teeth without your help."
"Fine." Wilson tried to glare, but he felt too tired to argue. He left House to his own devices while he dug out another shirt for House to wear to bed. He gathered all the supplies he needed to change the bandage on the leg; spread a towel on the mattress.
When House emerged, he rolled himself to the side of the bed and waited, placidly, for Wilson to help him transfer again. Together, they removed the t-shirt, sweatshirt and rip away pants.
"Boxers on or off?" Wilson asked as he handed House the new shirt.
"Leave 'em on." House said tiredly, reclining into the pillows.
He took up the bandage scissors and expertly snipped off the gauze down the length of the site. Given the amount of muscle removed, and the three infections House had suffered; his surgeon had finally placed a long-term penrose drain. Wilson was pleased to see minimal drainage; there hadn't been much of late, and he knew House was eager to have the drain out.
"How's it look?" House asked clinically, and Wilson surveyed the leg more before reporting.
"Pretty good. No drainage, no erythema. I bet Simpson'll pull the penrose before too long. You want that neuropathic cream on?"
House nodded, looking drained again. "Yeah. It helps." he admitted.
Wilson found the jar and donned gloves to rub it gently around the puckering suture lines; taking great care to avoid the massive rime of still-healing flesh. The sutures had long been removed; now the valleys between the peaks of flesh were beginning to scar in. Under his ministrations, House dozed; waking occasionally when Wilson's touch triggered a slight spasm in the muscle. By the time he finished, House was sound asleep. Wilson yawned then; feeling nearly as tired as House himself. He gently replaced the telfa pads and then layered the gauze around the leg with a feather light touch. House didn't stir. Cleaning up the debris, he deposited it in the trash and turned off the bedroom light. He left the door ajar, and slipped into the kitchen to fetch a glass of water that he set on the bedside table. He smiled then, relieved to be done with his work for the day.
"Good night, House." he whispered fondly.