Period of Adjustment: 2
Cuddy always expects House to just barge into her office like he owns the place. It used to be every day. Since he and Wilson have been together, though, it's bumped down to every other day. More time than that and Cuddy asks Wilson if everything is okay, because House hasn't harassed her in a while.
But the second day after he and Wilson come back from New York, it's the second day he comes in, quietly, and sits on her couch. The first day they chatted about the week off, but stayed clear of the visit with Wilson's brother. She knows it went well, because Wilson came back looking tired but more content with the situation than before they'd gone. When she'd asked him about it, he'd said it went well.
But there's clearly something bothering House.
"Okay, either you've pissed Wilson off and he sent you in here to get rid of you for awhile, or you've done something to a patient and you're coming in here to throw me off. Want to tell me which one it might be?" she teases gently, looking at him.
He looks at her with not a little amusement, but twists his cane between the open palms of his hand, a sure sign that something is bothering him.
"All right," she says, as she pushes her chair back and stands, making her way to the couch to settle next to him. "Spill."
"I think I made a mistake."
"What do you mean?" she frowns, because Wilson (and House for that matter) haven't come to vent about their relationship, lately, so it can't be that.
"With pushing Wilson to go see his brother," House elaborates impatiently.
"I thought it went well," she answers, confused. "I talked to him about it, he says Danny is on Invega Sustenna and he's doing better."
House is nodding. "Yeah, yeah," he says dismissively. "It went well, except that the night we got back…he had a nightmare and has had two more since."
"Yeah, the first time woke me up because in his thrashing around, he hit my face."
"Well, at least it wasn't your thigh."
"He sleeps on the wrong side for that."
Cuddy groans and she looks at House to see him grinning. "Okay, I opened that door."
"You kind of did," he retorts, before sobering. "He wouldn't tell me what it was about. Said he couldn't remember."
"Did it occur to you that maybe he really doesn't remember?" Cuddy says gently.
"Sure it did," House answers. "And maybe he doesn't. But I don't believe in coincidences."
House glares at her and she concedes that argument. "When does he go again?"
"Okay. You know what you can do?"
"Try to talk you into giving us another week off?"
"Nice try." She pokes his shoulder. "I know you wanted that time off before because you thought it would go wrong and that he would need time to recover-" She cuts herself off at the look on his face. "Was I wrong?"
He shakes his head. "No."
"Okay, then. It didn't go wrong. So, you don't need that time off now."
"It could go wrong this time."
"Yes it could," she accedes. "But if you go on with that attitude, it may rub off on him and it could very well do exactly that. So, here's what you do."
He looks at her as though he's really waiting for the answers.
"Keep going with him. Until he tells you he's comfortable enough to go by himself."
House blinks. "That's it?"
"Nope. Stay with him through the nightmares. If…if they are about his brother, for whatever reason, you listen to him if he remembers them. Just be there for him if he doesn't."
"Not what you wanted," Cuddy interrupts, leaning her chin on her wrist, her forearm resting on the back of the couch near House's head. "I know. But sometimes that's all you can do."
House looks like he's about to argue with her some more, but before he can think up something suitably scathing, his phone goes off.
He picks it up and looks at the screen. Cuddy watches as the corners of his lips turn up and she smiles, knowing who it is.
"Gotta go," he says flippantly, grabbing his cane and standing up. "Got an unexpected date."
She raises an eyebrow. "Doesn't he buy you lunch every day?"
House shrugs. "Sure. But he—wait, how did you know it was Wilson?"
"You got this…mushy look on your face. Who else could it be?"
House looks absolutely horrified. "I do not get a—shut the hell up."
As he turns out and strides pointedly from her office, her laugh follows him down the hallway.
"So, I was thinking, tomorrow night, you could do more than watch…I mean, you are my partner. I'd like him to get to know you, too."
"Maybe we could bring him something to eat…something he doesn't get in that place. When we were kids, he loved double fudge ice cream. I'm sure the personnel wouldn't mind. Maybe I should call them and ask, just in case."
"Or I could smuggle it in."
Wilson looks thoughtful. "I'll call them."
House shrugs and snatches a fry from Wilson's plate. His lover is paying no attention to his theft, as he's still babbling on. House lets him do it…and thinks about the one thing he didn't tell Cuddy…
He just really hopes that Wilson doesn't get hurt.
"…I really think…no, mom, I know. But I saw him last week and he's doing so well…It wouldn't hurt for all of us to go up there and see him together."
House watches from the couch as Wilson pinches the bridge of his nose as he paces in front of him. He has the sudden urge to get up and grab Wilson to get him to stop moving back and forth, but he resists.
"All right." Wilson sighs. "Okay. Sure, I'll call you next week. Love you, too. Bye."
Wilson sighs and tosses his phone onto the nearest arm chair as he plops gracelessly next to House on the couch.
Wilson shakes his head wearily. "No. I'd hoped that waiting until after we went for the second visit last night that I would have more to report on him, so they would come. I did and she still has excuses. I'll try my brother tomorrow."
House wants to ask if Wilson thinks it's a really good idea to get him involved, considering what he's heard of Wilson's brother's history of behavior, but he doesn't. He can tell that getting his whole family back together again is important to him, and it can't hurt to try, right?
House tosses his arm against the back of the couch, until his forearm is resting behind Wilson's head. Wilson rests his head on it gratefully.
"So, it's you and me," House says.
"Looks that way."
"We did manage to get that ice cream in. We could bring in something else next week."
Wilson peers at him. "They gave us permission for that. And we're not smuggling in beer to the psychiatric ward."
"I wasn't going to suggest that," House mutters. Wilson slants a glance at him. "Tequila. We can do shots. Well, maybe he shouldn't, but that's no reason we can't."
Wilson snorts, but House sees the amusement crinkling the corners of his eyes. "No. We can do the ice cream again."
"Fine." He taps the side of Wilson's head. "Dinner?"
As the days go on and their third visit passes, House begins to relax a little.
Which he's cursing himself for after the fourth visit.
Wilson is currently sitting in the passenger seat, his head resting against the passenger side window, watching the passing lights as House drives. House glances over at him from the corner of his eye."I'm sorry."
Wilson sighs tiredly. "Bound to happen sometime."
"You know they'd said he'd been having a bad couple of days. They need to adjust his meds again."
House watches the road, and thinks about how utterly useless he feels right now. It's not a feeling he particularly likes. Especially since this is something he can't fix.
Suddenly, he feels familiar fingers on his own as he grips the steering wheel. Glad that Wilson chose a red light to do this, he looks down and grabs the fingers back, keeping his other hand on the wheel. Wilson's not looking at him, but House finds that that's perfectly okay when Wilson intertwines their fingers, resting them on the console between them.
House drives one handed the rest of the way home.
House begins to think, when Wilson makes the third phone call to his parents after the fifth visit (that had gone marginally better than the last), that it won't be the sick brother who will hurt Wilson.
"Mom, he asked about you this time. Can't you reschedule your damn party to see your—fine. You know what, I have to go."
Wilson doesn't seem to give her the chance to answer as he slams the phone shut angrily.
"I'll try Adam again," Wilson says frustrated. "I couldn't get a hold of him last time, but it can't hurt to try again."
And when Wilson's woken up from another nightmare that night, House really, really wants to do something about that, too.
It's the seventh visit that he realizes that he has just as much power, still, to hurt Wilson as much as his parents and brothers do.
He limps into Wilson's office as he's packing up his things for the night.
"Hey, you read—what's wrong?"
"I can't go tonight," House says gently. "My latest patient keeps throwing new symptoms at us and we're having a tough time keeping up. I was hoping she'd be more stable by this time and she's not. I'm sorry."
Wilson nods, and House knows that he realizes that if there was any way he could handle this over the phone on the way there, he would. House hates it when Wilson turns an understanding gaze on him.
"I understand," he says. "Don't worry about it. It's not your fault. I'll be home later tonight."
House nods and Wilson gives him a chaste kiss on his way out the door.
House doesn't miss the uncertainty on his face at the thought of going alone. More than anything, he wants to yell at Wilson, call him back, tell him to wait up, but he can't, because his team is already calling him, and when he turns back in the direction Wilson had walked, he's gone.
"Come on, idiots. We need a differential."
House knows this because he's done nothing but look at the clock. He'd gotten home about a half hour ago, after the third differential where he'd gotten his epiphany. He'd expected Wilson to be there already; they usually get home around ten, and it's almost midnight.
When his phone rings he picks it up, without looking at the caller ID.
"House," Foreman's voice says. "You were right, she's got-"
"Is it something that you absolutely need me for?" he snaps sharply, looking around the living room he shares with Wilson.
There's a silence for a second and House can hear other voices as Foreman consults with other members of the team. Just as House is about to go ahead and hang up, Foreman's voice is back in his ear. "We know how to treat it…"
"Do it. Only bother calling me back if she dies." He hangs the phone up and looks at the clock again. 11:45 PM.
He can't wait anymore and dials another number.
When there's a loud knock on her door at 12:05 in the morning, Cuddy knows exactly who it is.
When she opens the door and sees the look on House's face and the retort she was planning to make dies on her lips.
Cuddy opens the door and lets him in.
"He should have been home almost two hours ago," House says, limping past her in a rush. "I got worried, called Mercy…he left almost three hours ago. I called our hospital, no sign of him there either. I called his cell and it's going straight to voicemail."
Cuddy exhales shakily. "I'll make some calls…I have contacts to all of the hospitals between here and New York…I'll…"
House is shaking his head. "I want you to drive me up there, help me look for him."
"House," she says urgently. "He might not even be in New York…he could be anywhere between here and New York Mercy. Let me drive you home, just in case he was just running really late and goes there. You can try his cell on the way. What about his parents?"
"He wouldn't go to them, they've been having a…difference of opinion on the subject of Danny. Same with his other brother."
House stops and Cuddy can see he's gearing up to argue some more. She puts a hand on his shoulder. "Let me drive you home."
He takes a shuddering breath…and nods.
"Good," she says. "Let me wake up Rachel, okay? I'll put her back to sleep at your place, and I will start those phone calls."
House nods again, looking worn out and forlorn. She squeezes his arm again.
Ten minutes later, they're going into the loft, House ahead of her, throwing the door open as though he's thinking that Wilson had better be in there.
She's not altogether surprised when he's not. Disappointed and worried, yes. But not surprised and she lays Rachel down on the couch as House moves to search both of the bedrooms.
Pulling her phone out of her pocket, she dials a number and when someone picks up on the other end she says:
"Hi, yes, my name is Doctor Lisa Cuddy…"
House is sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at the numbers on the clock that are saying 12:35 am and he wants to toss it at the wall.
When the clock turns to 12:42, he hears Cuddy's voice yelling his name. He limps back out to the living room, expecting to see Cuddy in tears, telling him she's found Wilson at some hospital in rural New Jersey.
But she's not in the living room…she's at the door and he moves to stand next to her, sees what she sees and his mouth nearly drops open in surprise.
"Do you know this man?" A New Jersey Trooper asks, gesturing to Wilson, who has bandage over a small cut on his head.
"Yes," Cuddy says, when House doesn't answer. "That's James Wilson."
The other trooper nods. "He and another guy were picked up at a rest stop. He told us this is where he lives."
"It is. What's his B.A.L.?" House asks, finally, because something here seems a little off.
"Actually," Trooper number 1 says. "He's not drunk. His companion, though, was almost twice over."
"Who was his companion?" Cuddy asks slowly.
They all look at Wilson, who just stares expressionlessly into the loft. Trooper number two looks at them and shrugs. "An Adam Wilson. Says he's this guy's brother."
House nods. "Thanks," he says, grabbing Wilson's arm. "We've got it from here."
Before the troopers can say much else, House shuts the door in their faces and turns Wilson around. Sharing a glance with Cuddy, he guides Wilson to one of the arm chairs when he remembers Rachel is on the couch.
"I'm going to put her in the guest room," Cuddy says, picking up her daughter, who's awake and blinking at them sleepily.
House doesn't say anything in response to that and instead turns to Wilson.
Wilson says nothing and House rolls his eyes. "Fine. I can take a guess. Your parents wouldn't come…but you somehow got a hold of Adam and talked him into it."
Wilson's eyes glance at him and House takes that as a yes.
"And it didn't go well?"
Still, Wilson won't talk and House gets frustrated. He sets his cane down and pulls the coffee table over, so he can sit in front of him.
"Wilson, didn't you say you'd let me help?"
Wilson exhales and closes his eyes tightly. "I feel so stupid."
House wants to cheer at having gotten him to talk, but instead just leans forward. "Talk to me."
"Adam," Wilson swallows. "Adam didn't tell me he was coming. I kept trying to call him, and he was either screening my calls or….no, that's probably what he was doing. So, I went around him this afternoon. Talked to Wendy."
The wife, House remembers. He looks to the side to see Cuddy sitting gracefully on the couch, completely silent. She nods encouragingly at him and House turns back to Wilson.
"She must have talked him into it," Wilson continues. "Because when I got there tonight he was in the waiting room, too. I could tell he'd been drinking, he reeked of beer. I tried to tell him that maybe tonight wasn't the best night, we could come back later. He wouldn't do it. We went in. Danny must have been able to tell something was wrong…and with the difficulties he's been having with his meds lately…they started arguing. Danny was getting agitated, so I got Adam out of there. We left his car there, and I was going to drive him to a hotel near us…let him sleep it off and he could take a cab to get his car tomorrow."
Good, House thinks. He was going to protest if Wilson said he had the intention of taking his asshole sibling to get his car.
"How did you end up at that rest stop?"
"Apparently," Wilson says bitterly. "Arguing with our schizophrenic brother while completely wasted wasn't enough of a thrill. He started having a go at me."
House remembers Wilson's uncertainty when he'd left his office earlier, and curses that the one night he can't go, is the one night that the shit hits the fan.
"So I pulled over at the next place I could. Which happened to be a rest stop. He was pissed, got out of the car, was yelling. People around us were watching. I didn't know what else to do. Before I knew it, I was telling him that I was a complete idiot to think he could get himself together to do this and that I'd made a mistake in getting him involved. That didn't make him any less pissed. He hit me." He points to his head. "And someone called the cops. They arrested both of us, but since I wasn't the drunk one, they let me off with a warning. They're letting him sleep it off in a cell tonight, after calling and telling Wendy." He shakes his head. "Stupid…"
"Wilson," Cuddy says, coming over to sit next to House on the table. "That's not your fault."
"Why do you guys keep telling me that?" Wilson says angrily. "It's because I couldn't get over my own goddamned fears that had me ignore my own brother for so long. Then, even though I know he's an alcoholic jack-ass, I call my other brother, selfishly hoping it could be the three of us again, to get involved and he does and completely screws it up. That's my fault. He wouldn't have been there if I hadn't called."
"Wilson, for god's sake." House says urgently, grabbing Wilson's fingers roughly. "You can't control other people's actions. Haven't we learned this before? The dumbass didn't have to be drunk. He didn't have to be a complete jerk. As for the other…we've talked about this. Repeatedly. Trying to protect yourself from him hurting you doesn't make you a coward."
"Yes, it does," Wilson answers through gritted teeth. "It does."
"No it doesn't," Cuddy says softly. "It would if he were…he were someone that you know doesn't have a history of leaving. You told me what really happened…how he was getting violent. If he was someone who was just an ordinary brother who was trying to have a relationship with you and you ignored him, then, yes, you would be a coward. This is not that type of situation."
"Listen to the woman." House cocks his head toward her. "She has enough sense for the both of us."
Wilson smiles gently. "That's true."
"See?" Cuddy smiles, lays her hand on top of one of Wilson's, still enfolded in one of House's. "A ringing endorsement."
Wilson nods slowly. "I'll try. Thanks."
"Any time," Cuddy answers squeezing their hands and letting go, before standing up. "I need to get my kid up and home."
"You're welcome to stay here," Wilson says. "It's late and you've already woken her once."
With a glance at House, who is looking at her as though she'd be an idiot not to stay, Cuddy considers this, and then nods. The bed in the guestroom is big enough to share for the night. "Thank you. We'll take you up on that."
"Least I could do," Wilson responds.
Cuddy leans down and kisses his cheek. "Goodnight."
Their voices echo behind her as she closes the door and un-tucks the blankets from around her child.
Wilson squeezes House's fingers. "I'm sorry I freaked you out."
"Hey, I was just worried you were leaving me out of the fun," he retorts.
Wilson doesn't look amused, he just looks exhausted. "Yeah. Fun."
"I'm sorry I couldn't make it," House says quietly.
"I know you, remember? If you needed to be there for your patient, you needed to be there for your patient. Besides, he would've just had a go at you, too," Wilson answers with a shrug. "No use in both of us being ridiculed."
"Maybe." House holds up his cane. "But he wouldn't have been able to lay a hand on you if I'd been there."
Wilson shakes his head. "That's the second time, and other brother, that you've threatened to beat up with your cane. Should I be worried?"
"I'm offended you would even ask such a question."
"So, that would be a yes."
"Of course it is."
Wilson laughs softly and the knot of nerves in House's stomach eases, the knot he hadn't even realized was there until it was gone.
"Time for bed," House declares, pulling Wilson up. Instead of going anywhere, though, Wilson wraps his arms around his back and sighs.
"I'm going to go back next week," Wilson says against his chest.
House reciprocates the embrace. "I'll do my best to be there."
Wilson leans back and kisses him lightly. "I know."
House nods against the top of Wilson's head.
"Time for bed, Wilson."
Once they're settled in bed, House turns on his side, regards Wilson carefully. "Hey."
"Are you afraid you'll have another nightmare?"
Wilson turns on his side to mirror House's position. "Is that your way of asking me about it again?"
House shrugs. "Do you still not remember them?"
"I figured if I was already waking you up, then you didn't deserve to be subjected to the details," Wilson admits, guilt and remorse written all over his face.
Even after almost two years, House knows they're both still navigating the waters of their relationship. He's certainly seen that over the last few weeks, with the reemergence of Wilson's brother in his life. He's still adjusting to being in the condition to help Wilson when he needs it…and Wilson has to get used to asking for it. So, instead of chastising Wilson for not being more forthcoming again, he just grabs his lover's hand and tugs on his fingers gently. Wilson smiles and takes a breath.
"It started right after that call from my mom in med school," he explains. "I had this one recurring nightmare about Danny leaving, being found dead…me being called to ID the body…then suddenly everyone is standing around me, pointing and blaming me for his death. It changed a bit this time around, though. The new one…the new one had you as a front runner of the mob."
House winces. "I can see why you wouldn't want to talk about it."
"It wasn't pleasant," Wilson agrees. "But... it's just a really crappy nightmare."
"You're damn right it's just a nightmare."
Wilson's eyes are closed as he releases a breathy chuckle. "Thanks. Hey, House?"
"Love you," he says sleepily.
House blinks. He's has never said that out loud, and Wilson himself rarely says it. He makes a split second decision in that moment…he can see that Wilson's drifting off, so he squeezes Wilson's fingers until his eyes are open, and House is sure he's awake.
"Love you too," House answers in a low tone, as if he's in a room full of people trying to tell Wilson a secret.
Wilson leans forward, kisses his forehead and House can feel the affectionate smile against his own skin.
The last thing he hears as he slips into sleep is "thank you" whispered into the air.
He has no idea what and who Wilson's thanking, but he emphatically agrees, anyway.