Title: What Is Real
Disclaimer: House M.D., its character's, locations, and storyline are the property of David Shore, Bad Hat Harry Productions and Fox Television. All Rights Reserved.
Characters/Pairing: J. Wilson, G. House, L. Cuddy, E. Foreman; House/Wilson Friendship-UST or Pre-slash/slash. Mention of House/Cuddy once established but recently over.
A/N: This is a response to the "While You Were Sleeping" Challenge at Sick_Wilson at LJ. As will become apparent there are three different stories going on at the same time and I have tried to clarify by changing fonts and italics. I also borrowed some lines from the show, mostly from episode 6x22 "Help me". Where I have they are in bold type. Hopefully this won't be too difficult to follow. It's unbeta-ed because I'm too impatient to post it, so please forgive me. I will post this once but at the end of each chapter will be a link to the next. I've also taken liberty on interpreting what I saw of the American promo for episode 7x16 "Out of the Chute" so by this coming Monday when "Out of the Chute" is broadcast this will probably be quite AU.
Warning: Spoilers for all seasons and episodes up to and including 7x16; coarse language, violence, sexuality. Involves subjects like drug abuse, addiction, suicide ideation and suicide although there is no actual major character death. Reader Discretion advised.
Genre: Drama/help-comfort with friendship heavy with the UST.
Word Count: 4344 (this chapter); total: ~15000 including introduction.
Rating: M(NC-17) for Adult subject matter, coarse language, drug use
Before Wilson had the chance to pose his next question, Foreman, the neurologist who had been one of House's fellows before quitting and then later being hired as Cuddy's spy and watchdog on House's activities, arrived looking a little disgruntled at being woke at four-thirty in the morning to perform a neuro exam. He glowered at House, who really couldn't have given a damn and then smiled ever so slightly when he faced Wilson.
"Welcome back," he told the oncologist as House went to sit down in his chair to watch. "How are you feeling?"
Repeating the same answer he'd given House Wilson then added, "I can't remember what happened to me to end up in here."
"Some memory deficits aren't unusual with a brain injury," Foreman reminded him with a nod. "Let's get your neuro exam done and then we can answer some of your questions."
For the next fifteen minutes Foreman ran through a battery of tests to determine how well Wilson's brain was performing. Once finished Wilson looked from Foreman's impassive face to House's concerned one; his normally stoic friend was obviously having difficulty hiding his emotions for some reason.
"Well?" he asked impatiently. "How'd I do?"
"For the most part, very well," Foreman told him with a nod. "Obviously there is some loss of memory but even that may come back over the next few days, though if I were you I'd probably prefer it didn't. There were a couple of anomalies, however. When I told you that you've been comatose for two days then asked you for the date you answered March tenth, two-thousand-eleven."
"It's not the tenth?" Wilson asked, frowning.
"It's not two-thousand-eleven," House spoke up soberly. "It's still two-thousand and ten. And it isn't March tenth—it's May twentieth…unless you're a time-traveler, in which case all I have to say is cool!"
Wilson's eyes widened in disbelief. "No…no! You're wrong! I know that the last thing I remember took place on March eighth, two thousand–eleven. Is this some kind of prank? Let's confuse Wilson and make him think he's lost his mind, chuckle-chuckle? Well, it's not funny. If I've been in a coma for two days, then this is March tenth."
House and Foreman exchanged looks before House said firmly but quietly, "Wilson, today is May twentieth, twenty-ten. It's no joke. Two days ago, a large construction crane in Trenton collapsed and fell on an office building filled with over a hundred people inside. Cuddy, Foreman and I went down to the site of the disaster to work triage. You, along with every other doctor at PPTH, were here treating the wounded as they were brought in."
"Yes, I know," Wilson sighed. He was so confused now, and not entirely convinced that this wasn't some joke House was pulling on him and somehow had blackmailed Foreman into going along with. "You crawled into a collapsed parking garage to save a woman whose leg was pinned. She was in danger of crush syndrome and there was the possibility of a secondary collapse. She didn't want her leg to be amputated, Cuddy did. In the end you were forced to perform the amputation yourself. You rode along with her and her husband in the ambulance but she died enroute from a fat embolism. Foreman told me that you were in a bad frame of mind. I caved in to Sam and went home instead of popping by your place to check on you. Cuddy showed up instead and told you that she left Lucas to be with you because she was in love with you. That's when your ill-fated relationship began. I know that—but that was almost a year ago!"
House's expression of concerned turned to confusion as well.
"Foreman, take a hike," he told the neurologist. He looked like he was about to protest and then thought better of it. He left the room. House returned to his spot on the edge of Wilson's bed. He looked at the oncologist as if Wilson had just told him that he was Hitler and House was Eva Braun. Wait a minute, Wilson thought, where did Eva Braun come from? House would be more like Himmler, or Goebbels…
"House, I know what the date is. What I don't know is how I got hurt?"
House's eyes shifted away from his briefly. "Wilson, Cuddy never came to me that night after the disaster; you did."
"What?" Wilson couldn't believe what he was hearing.
House continued without stopping, "You came over from the hospital as soon as you found out from Foreman. You found me on my bathroom floor, Vicodin in my hand, ready to kill myself and you stopped me. You really don't remember that?"
It rapidly occurred to the oncologist that his best friend wasn't joking. Was it possible? But if so, then how? Why did he remember ten months of life after that night with Cuddy as the one who saved House from himself and sparking their doomed romance? Why did he remember watching House die?
Shaking his head no, Wilson felt like the world was spinning out of control and he had no idea what was true and what wasn't anymore.
It took him about an hour and a half to get to Perth Amboy on the quiet nighttime highways. It had helped that he had a lead foot the entire way and had been fortunate not to be caught by the police for speeding. The entire way he thought of the various ways House could do harm to himself, his anxiety being fed by them. Fortunately he hadn't encountered any accident scenes, but that didn't mean that it hadn't already happened and had been cleared away. Wilson had called Cuddy shortly after leaving Princeton; to his surprise she had actually taken his call. He'd asked if she'd received any calls concerning House from a hospital or police, assuming that House had switched from Wilson to her as his emergency contact and medical proxy. It had been a bit of a shock to learn that they hadn't made any changes of that kind during their relationship, which meant that unless House had named someone else in the interim, Wilson remained the man to call should anything happen to his best friend. He had to admit that it made him feel good to know that.
Of course, his luck being what it was, Wilson kept hitting every light red. He wished that just for once things would go his way.
He reached the Atlantis Shores five minutes later. He parked in the hotel lot, noting that there were three or four people standing out on the back lawn, staring up at something on the side of the hotel and pointing. Wilson couldn't see what it was they were all staring at but he had a feeling he couldn't understand and knew he should check it out. He quickly got out of his car and walked briskly to where the small gathering was. He looked up and froze.
Standing on a balcony railing five or six stories up as if preparing to dive off of it to the concrete pathway below, was the unmistakable form of Gregory House.
The world around Wilson seemed to come to a standstill and disappear as all of his attention was focus on the fact that his friend was about to jump to his death. If he'd been even five minutes later arriving, would House still be alive? The lost expression on the diagnostician's face—the emptiness, the loneliness and defeat—brought tears to his eyes. He raced forward to stand at the front of the crowd. He tried to capture House's attention.
"House! My god, House! What are you doing?"
A woman behind Wilson asked him, "You know that nut?"
Wilson turned briefly to glare at her. "He's not a nut," he said softly, angrily. "Go call for help!"
The woman frowned indignantly but hurried away anyway.
Wilson caught House's eye. The moment the older man saw him, a quick, sad smile flashed on his face. It was more a sign of recognition that happiness at seeing the oncologist. Swaying slightly on the railing, House kept his balance by lightly touching the bottom of the balcony above his. To Wilson it looked like all it would take to cause him to slip was a gust of wind. All he could think about was that he didn't know how he would keep going if House died. House thought that he was all alone in the world; well, Wilson was in the same boat. The only person they had to rely on was each other and in their stubbornness, stupidity and desperate attempts to find love and a normal life they'd been pushing each other away for months. What they needed to do was draw together, support each other, and be there for each other. Perhaps the only place either one of them could find love or companionship was with the other.
"House, don't do it," Wilson pled. "I know what happened and I know how much you're hurting, but the end of your relationship with Cuddy really isn't the end of the world! It's not worth throwing away the rest of your life over."
"You don't know, Wilson," House called back. If he had indeed been out of his mind intoxicated, he didn't sound the least bit like it now. "You can't know."
"House, I may not know exactly how you feel in your situation, but I know what it's like to be betrayed, to be dumped. I've had the world pulled out from under my feet, and felt like without that person in my life my life isn't worth living. But your life is worth living, House! I made it through the death of one girlfriend and I'll make it through being walked out on by Sam. You can make it through this break up with Cuddy too."
"You're wrong." House shook his head, the personification of misery. "I was all alone. You'd kicked me out because of Sam. Cuddy was with Lucas. Hannah died a pointless death because…because of fucking chaos! The roll of dice. Snake eyes. That's all. I didn't forget my cane in Trenton that night. I left it on purpose. I had decided I was never going to need it again. I went home and I was going to kill myself. I was going to take a whole bottle of Vicodin. It was better than living my life all alone anymore. I was waiting for you to show up…to stop me. You went home to Sam. You didn't care. I wanted you to care but you didn't. Cuddy came and stopped me. She was my last hope! My last chance! I had to make it work with her if I wanted to keep living. And I tried, Wilson. I tried so hard…"
"I know you did," Wilson acknowledged. His mind was spinning, trying to think of the best way to prevent House from jumping. "I know you tried, House. I saw you make yourself sick with worry over screwing up and losing Cuddy. I saw you sacrifice everything to make her happy. It's not your fault she couldn't accept you for who you are. All she could see was your history; she didn't even try to see how far you've come. That's her failing, not yours."
"Oh, it's mine, Wilson," House argued. "I'm the addict. I'm so broken I couldn't be there to comfort her without getting stoned first. I couldn't deal with the fear and pain like a real man. She was right to leave me."
"House, she was selfish and short-sighted!" Wilson felt nothing but contempt for Cuddy. "She lied to you! She told you that she loved you for who you are, that she didn't expect you to change but once you were together she manipulated and bullied you at every turn. She tried to control and manage you like she does everyone and everything else in her life. She demanded of you what she was unwilling to give back. Your relationship with her failed because she failed. She failed to be the kind of woman who deserved your heart. She didn't deserve better—you did. I know you don't believe me but it's true, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. There are a lot of people back at the hospital who saw how she was playing you. We didn't say anything because we didn't want to screw things up for you, but Cuddy didn't fool everyone into thinking that you were the jerk and she was the wounded party.
"It doesn't matter," House replied, appearing defeated. "It doesn't fucking matter! All that matters is that I'm right back where I started. I have…nothing."
Wilson felt hot tears rolling unrestricted down his face but he didn't care. "You have me! You've always had me. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere. Please, please come down from there. Climb down and go into your room and I'll be right up. Please!"
House simply shook his head. He stood silently, staring down at the oncologist, streetlights glistening off the tears on his face.
"I'm here!" Wilson cried again.
"Until the next blonde with big tits and a tight ass comes along," House returned. "Then it's sayonara House. I'm sorry, Jimmy. I'm sorry."
Wilson saw House's right foot move and knew that this was it. Half of his heart was about to be torn away from him and once again he was powerless to stop it. He yelled out House's name as the latter stepped forward. Wilson ran with everything he had; he didn't know exactly what it was he could do to stop him. Catch him? Act as a cushion? It was all so ridiculous, hopeless. He saw his best friend plummet to the earth and screamed, closing his eyes and turning away at the last second.
All he heard was a solid bang against the concrete before his world blew up.
Wilson didn't care that House was covered in dust and sweat and traces of blood that may or may not have belonged to him; twenty years of friendship and then more than friendship was culminating in that moment and all he wanted was to feel House's skin against his, taste his mouth over and over again, whisper things in his ear that he'd never dreamt in a million years he'd get to say and bring him to the heights of ecstasy to show him just how much he was loved. He knew the older man was exhausted, injured and in pain, both physical and emotional. Wilson didn't expect any of this to be about him. This was his opportunity to show House that he was special, loved and most certainly not alone.
House caught on quickly to Wilson's intentions and stopped it.
"Wilson, I want this…but not until it can be mutual. I…With you…I don't think I can enjoy it unless you are, too." He caressed his friends face. "Besides…I reek."
"I will enjoy it," the oncologist insisted gently, "just watching you and knowing I'm the reason you are."
"But I won't. We're going to do this…just not yet."
It was obvious that House had his mind set and once he did there was little chance if changing it. Wondering if there wasn't uncertainty at the core of this Wilson opened his mouth to ask. House anticipated his question and stopped it by kissing Wilson tenderly. He lingered a moment before whispering, "Don't worry…you're not off the hook. When we're both ready, I'll be all over you like a dirty shirt."
He was right. Wilson didn't want to push him, and it was important that their first time was mutual. It also occurred to him that House probably wasn't up to it tonight, pun unintended.
"Okay," he agreed, "but I get to do something. Not sexual…well, not directly anyway. Get undressed and comfortable, and I'll be right back."
House looked at him questioningly but didn't argue. "Okay."
Wilson left the room. He found the Vicodin in the bathroom, including the two tablets that House had been holding and dropped onto the floor, and emptied it into the toilet, flushed it all away. He then found a basin and filled it with warm, slightly soapy water. Locating a clean face cloth and several soft fluffy towels, he brought it all into the bedroom. House lay on the bed in his boxers, staring up at the ceiling.
"Uh, uh! All of your clothes, Dr. House. If you need help, I'll be happy to oblige."
House rolled his eyes but removed his underwear himself. Wilson tried not to stare, but he couldn't help himself. House was beautiful, inside and out. Why, Wilson wondered, has it taken me this long to come to my senses?
"Take a picture," House told him with a weak smirk. "It lasts longer."
"Don't worry, I will," the younger man retorted, "and I'll keep it in my wallet so I have it everywhere I go." He could have sworn he saw a hint of color appear across House's cheekbones.
Wordlessly, Wilson set to work gently washing away the grime and sweat from House's body; every surface, curve and crevice. He took his time, savoring the relaxation and contentment that had taken over his best friend. It definitely was turning him on but Wilson didn't linger with the genitals any longer than he did anywhere else. He respected House's wishes on the matter, although the oncologist was almost achingly hard when he was done. He finished the sponge bath by wrapping the diagnostician in the towels. House's eyes were closed but his breathing told Wilson that he wasn't quite asleep. He got up to take the basin and washcloth away when House's hand grabbed his wrist and two lazy blue eyes opened to look at him.
"Where are you going?"
"Just to dump this and call Sam—break the bad news. I'll be back."
House nodded and relaxed, letting go of him. "Could you bring me my ibuprofen when you return?"
"You bet. I'll find your heating pad as well."
Wilson carried the basin to the bathroom and dumped the dirty water into the toilet. He rinsed out the container and then put it back from where he'd gotten it. The face cloth was rinsed out and hung to dry. The bloodstained cloth still in the sink was trashed—there was no saving it. He looked at the bathtub and all of the shattered mirror glass at the bottom and sighed; he'd take care of that later. Wilson pulled out his cellphone and dialed home. The answering machine picked up. He frowned slightly. It was near midnight, so Sam should have been home and in bed. He reasoned that she'd probably turned off the ringer on the phone. He did really need to get a hold of her, though. He tried her cellphone.
It rang into his ear.
It rang in the corridor outside the bathroom door as well; right behind him. He spun around in surprise to see her standing there glaring at him with something club-like in her hand.
Sam brought it flying for his head, screaming, "Liar!"
The oncologist tried to dodge it a moment too late. The number three wood hit him in the side of his head. He cried out and fell back against the sink, grabbing it to keep himself from hitting the floor. He heard House shout out his name in alarm as the club came down at his head for the second time. He collapsed to the floor after impact and felt blood sting his eyes before he faded out.
Wilson was screaming when he opened his eyes and saw House looking at him in fear, his hands clamped to the oncologist's shoulders. It took a moment for him to become fully aware of where he was again. There were two other people in the ICU cubicle as well: Foreman was back and standing next to him was Cuddy. They both stared at him looking worried. Wilson's eyes returned to his best friend's face.
"What happened?" he asked the diagnostician; he was disoriented.
"I think you had a flashback," House told him softly. "We were talking about your lack of memory and confusion when you just blanked out on me. Then you began to scream my name and thrash. Just try to relax. Foreman, grab point five of Ativan."
"No!" Wilson protested, his breathing slowing. "I'm okay. House…I remembered. I was in your bathroom—the night after Trenton. Sam came, caught me. She screamed and hit me with a golf club!"
House nodded in confirmation. "The bitch broke my three wood on your skull. I heard you scream and I came running. My first instinct was to stop her from hurting you anymore. I just blindly punched her in the head, knocked her cold. I called an ambulance but it took forever to get to my apartment. I thought I'd lost you."
Nodding, Wilson told him, "I thought I lost you…now I know it was just a dream, though; a long, complicated, completely crazy dream. I guess I was dreaming it while in my coma."
"What was it about?" Cuddy asked from the sideline.
"You went to House's apartment two days ago, not me," Wilson told her, smiling at how ridiculous it all seemed now. It had seemed so real, just like dreams do sometimes. "You'd left Lucas to be with House. The two of you began dating but…but the two of you were incompatible and you both were miserable; neither one wanted to fail at another relationship but you hung on until you got sick, Cuddy, and it appeared that you were going to die. House was so distraught over the thought of losing you that it was too much stress and he…he—"
"Relapsed," House murmured.
"Yeah," the younger man agreed. "You relapsed so you could be there for her but it backfired. Cuddy found out, and ended your relationship. You went back to the Vicodin hardcore, and were so depressed that…that you jumped from a hotel balcony right in front of me. I couldn't save you." Despite the fact that he now understood that it had only been a dream, his eyes teared up. "But I realize that it didn't actually happen. I went to you that night, not Cuddy. I found you on the bathroom floor about to relapse and I managed to get you to reconsider. I told you how I really felt—feel—about you. That I'm in love with you."
House sighed in relief and smiled at him, nodding. He brought up his hand to cup Wilson's face and caressed his cheekbone. "And I told you that I feel the same way."
Closing his eyes for a moment to enjoy being touched Wilson then asked. "What happened with Sam?"
"She ended up with a third degree concussion and is recovering—under police guard—upstairs,' Cuddy answered. "Don't worry though. She's currently restrained and never left unguarded. I also have security posted in ICU, just in case." She was pensive. "I'm relieved to know that you're going to be alright. However, I have to get back to work. I'll try to stop by later again to see you."
Wilson nodded and watched her leave.
"I gotta go, too," Foreman told him. Once he was gone House leaned in to kiss Wilson, his lips trembling. He then wrapped his arms around the younger man and pulled him into a full embrace.
"Wilson?" House whispered into his ear.
Wilson's arms were around House as best as they could be without pulling out his IVs. "Yes?"
"I love you. Don't ever leave me."
Smiling happily, Wilson told him simply. "I love you, too. And I won't."