Title: Vigil
Author: 3rdgal
Pairing: House/Wilson friendship
Rating: PG-13 just to be safe
Spoilers/Warnings: BIG TIME for "The C Word"
Words: ~500
Summary: What takes place between House's promise and the morning after.
Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own them.
A/N: This is how I perceived the look on House's face the morning after. I think there are a lot of ways to interpret that scene, but this is the one I prefer the most. Huge thanks to wonderfully talented srsly_yes for the quick and awesome beta!

"I promise."

House felt his heart breaking as he gave his dying friend the reassurance he needed, but it was worth it as Wilson's body seemed to relax, his hand falling limply to the couch. They had always been close, but he was still a little stunned that Wilson had such implicit trust in him to obey his dying wish. House slipped one hand into Wilson's, and reached across with his other to shut off the heart monitor, figuring they could both do without the machine's incessant warning of Wilson's imminent demise.

Knowing Wilson no longer needed a doctor by his side, but rather a friend, House returned his hand to Wilson's head. He tried not to focus on the labored breathing becoming increasingly shallow. Eventually, Wilson's arm fell away, oxygen mask still in his hand, only to be caught in House's sure grip.

"Tired."

"I know," House whispered, relieved when the waver in his voice went unnoticed. He carefully removed the oxygen mask from Wilson's weak grasp and gently returned it to his face, content to hold it there as long as needed.

As each minute passed, House's arm and leg began to burn from their awkward positions, but still he held firm, countering each stab of pain and threatening cramp with a fond memory of his life with Wilson.

As the night grew darker outside his apartment, Wilson's vitals kept pace inside. And at the quietest, stillest time of the night, he forced himself to acknowledge that Wilson's breathing and pulse were almost non-existent. Surprisingly he felt no panic; had no urge to shout and demand that his friend stay with him. If anything he felt relief that Wilson's horrendous suffering was almost over and that he had not broken his promise. In one last gesture of affection toward the one person he'd ever truly considered a friend, House grabbed a cloth and wiped the sweat and tears from Wilson's face.

House awkwardly rose to his feet, the unnecessary oxygen mask slipping from his fingers as he lumbered toward his chair. He collapsed into it and welcomed the numbness that enveloped him as he stared blankly at the drawn drapes across the room.

He was jarred back to reality by a loathsome ray of light that managed to pierce the mausoleum of his apartment just enough to illuminate Wilson's lifeless arm where it hung off the couch. He wanted to turn away, not prepared to face the reality of his best friend's death, when he noticed…

Had Wilson's fingers just twitched? House held his breath, hoping he wasn't seeing things when Wilson's knee shifted. He stood up and cautiously approached the couch, almost afraid that this was an illusion that would be jerked away from him at any second.

It wasn't until that familiar groggy groan pierced the silence, that House knew they had made it. He schooled his features into his usual gruff countenance and handed Wilson a glass of water, silently savoring the way their fingers brushed against each other a beat longer than necessary.

~end~