"You're not gonna chicken out on me, are you?" Wilson settles himself onto the bed, letting the nurse do her nurse-y stuff. "Because I've already just about thrown up my entire stomach lining. You can't back out."
House looks away. "Yeah."
"A deal's a deal."
"I know that," House snaps back. Wilson doesn't react. It's what House does when he's scared. "We pinky-promised."
Who knew House was a firm believer in upholding the pinky promise? "You look like you're about to bolt any moment, flapping gown and exposed buttocks and all."
It's a half-hearted snap at best, which makes Wilson worried. "It'll be fine, House," he reaches out across the space between their two gurneys and pats House's arm. "Holton is good at what he does. So is West."
"Holton better not excise your lung or something."
"You chose him. Not me."
"You chose West."
"Because he's damn good at what he does."
"He's half my age!"
"Two-thirds. And he's never met you, nor heard of you. Why do you think he hasn't suspected that you're Greg House?"
"Because I've been dead for eight months?"
The irony, Wilson thinks, is killing him. House is dead, and he should be dying. Instead, they're both here, trying to seek a new lease on life.
But Wilson will never forget the night he found the gun in House's backpack under the bottles of pills and IV bags. The abject look of misery in House's eyes when he thought Wilson wasn't looking had been more than sufficient to convince Wilson over time that the gun had not been packed for self-defense on the road.
"House," he says quietly, sobering. "Can you believe where we are right now?"
House peers around exaggeratedly at the brightly-lit room. "Well, the fluorescent lights and aroma of hospital-grade disinfectant are slightly surreal, since I thought I'd finally managed to escape from them for ever, so – "
"House," Wilson cuts in.
"No," House quietly admits after a while. "For one, you're still alive."
"Your deal paid off," Wilson tilts his head to the right, but House steadfastly avoids his gaze. Wilson is pretty sure the ceiling is less interesting than him. He moves his hand, and places it on the crook of House's elbow. "You were right."
"It was stupid."
"You were desperate."
"Because you were being an idiot."
"You love me."
House stiffened. "Don't."
"I asked you," Wilson presses on. "Would you give up your leg to save my life, because I never thought you'd say yes. It was supposed to make you realize that just like you had a choice, I had one too."
"Is this some sort of last words thing? Because – "
"It took me three days to find you." It had been a bad argument, one that ended up in House storming out the door. Wilson had just been so mad that, while he wanted to live for many more years, House had simply wanted to off himself after when he could live, and live for many years at that. "If you could sacrifice that leg, which you've hung on doggedly to for the past decade, I could at least try, right?"
House remains quiet.
Wilson looks over at him. He lets his eyes trace the lines etched on the face, the small divot at the side of the nose, and the way the lips curved downwards just so slightly. As much as they had tried to make the road trip fun and light-hearted, it had been painful and torturous for both of them. House kept waiting for the inevitable, tracking every physical symptom of Wilson's, while Wilson kept worrying over what House would do after.
"So, a leg for a life. I've done my part. I've puked, I've shivered and I've lost my hair and eyebrows. Don't even have that double chin anymore," Wilson smiles indulgently, squeezing House's arm. "Holton is going to remove the tumor, I'll go through a few more rounds of radiation and chemo, and the odds are I'm going into remission."
"85%," House says hoarsely. "The odds are 85%."
A 15% chance that Wilson is willing to take. But the odds all seem insignificant now, especially in the light of what he's learnt about House, and what House is willing to do for him. "I've saved your life many times - don't give me that look, and don't make me list them – but now you've saved mine."
Wilson leaves it at that, because for them, this is totally uncharted territory – they're practically running into each other's arms and sobbing into each other's shoulders. And House is supremely uncomfortable with it, judging by the way he's shifting in the bed.
"Wilson," he finally says. "What if it still hurts?"
The odds are, it probably will. At least 80% of amputees experience phantom sensations, and in House's case, his brain and nerves have been transmitting pain signals for the past decade. The odds are significantly worse for him. That's what Wilson thinks.
"What if it doesn't?" he asks instead.
"It probably will."
"We'll never know unless we try." House had yelled the same thing in his face seven months ago: How do you know treatment administered over a longer period of time won't work if you haven't even tried it? "It hurting less than it hurts now would be a victory already, won't it?"
"I can't believe I'm cutting it off," he mutters. "You suck."
"I'm cutting something out too."
"Do you really want to compare a tumor to an essential limb? Do you?"
"I can't believe you're cutting it off for me." House blushes and turns away. He's really scared. Wilson tugs on his arm. "Well, you don't need to worry about women being turned off by it. I'm not going to let anyone else crash our bed anyway."
House obviously likes the way Wilson says our, for his tense body slowly relaxes, and his lips quirk up in a shy (or sly) smile.
It is a beautiful thing, Wilson decides. They're giving each other a new lease of life. They're saving each other.
"Now," he proclaims as West and Holton appear behind the door, and the nurses come in to bring them into the OR. They're all scrubbed up. "All we have to do is not die. Please tell your body not to give you a fat embolism."
House visibly pales as the gurneys begin to move towards the ORs, but he manages to grind out, "Don't bleed out. And don't you dare have metastasized."
The nurses pushing their gurneys shoot them weird looks, but Wilson is used to it. He's spent years having weird looks shot at him because of House. He's hoping they'll have several more years for even more.
"See you later, House," Wilson whispers. Everything is going to change. They don't actually know what they're going to do after. But it's a new life they'll both be waking up to. It's probably going to be a better life. He knows it. "We're gonna be just fine."