Wisdom and Folly
A/N: I'm no medical student. I'm not really even very good at pretending. But I've been wanting to create a HouseXWilson story for a while, and I enjoy writing their banter. I really hope this isn't too OOC. What I intend for this story is a bunch of random drabbles, rating from G to M, focused on the bromance and sometimes established relationship between them.
Chapter One: Dying Sucks
Wilson palmed his cheek, exhaling sharply with frustration.
The clinical trials for the drug looked promising, he mused, however they hadn't been tested long enough on the double-blind trial for him to be certain. And the side affects… Brown eyes scanned the pages of the NEJM, trying to glean enough information to make his decision. His nine-year-old patient Cathleen was going to die if he didn't act soon. Anaplastic oligodendrogliomas in a girl that hadn't even reached menstruation. What nasty luck. Pediatric cases were always infinitely more difficult, emotionally speaking.
He knew what House would do; he'd administer the drug without any hesitation. But Wilson wasn't House, and if this experimental drug failed the kid was going to die a much more painful death than she should need to. Getting consent from her parent's wasn't an issue… But wasn't this going too far? Giving a very sick child a non-FDA approved drug? Hoping that she won't start seizing and vomiting blood?
But, Lomustine hadn't worked and her white blood cell count was too low for more radiation. Cathleen was already so close to dead that she could be accurately described as a zombie and he needed to do something as her attending. What a lovely situation. Side affects might include uncontrolled infection, kidney failure, swelling in her already swollen brain… Wilson's teeth tugged at his lower lip.
The familiar noise of his best friend's three-tone gait tapped just outside his closed office door. House burst in without knocking, an equally familiar action. He was the last person Wilson wanted to see at that moment. And the best person imaginable to come talk some sense into him.
"Give the brat the drug." House demanded with his 'you're an idiot' glare.
"There is no way I can justify it." Wilson's voice was muffled because his face was buried behind his hands.
"I'm not here to debate Hippocrates rhetoric." House snapped. "It's a simple case of how is the brat gonna die?"
Wilson scowled at his omnipresent insensitivity, "If Cuddy found out-"
"Tell her I gave you a consolation and you weren't sure and I told you to give the brat the drug. That's almost, suspiciously so, like telling the truth."
"That isn't the issue here and you know it," Wilson's tone was strained, his head was starting to pound from a tension migraine. "We aren't talking about an adult. This drug could kill her in an excruciatingly slow way. That's a little excessive for a nine-year old."
"Then I'll stab the kid with the syringe and that blood'll be on my hands, probably even literally cause she's bound to start vomiting it up." House reasoned as he limped around Wilson's desk, tapping his cane loudly on the floor every few seconds.
"Stop that!" Wilson barked.
House complied, giving his friend a sharp nod and resting his cane on the back of Wilson's chair to peer down at the journal, "Statistically speaking, we are talking about the chance of this drug failing as less than twenty percent."
"Those odds aren't in her favor with her white cell count hovering around the nine hundreds." Wilson indicated the lab results resting open on his desk.
"Brat's gonna die if you don't give her the drug. Brat might not die if you do. How is that even up for debate? Of wait, don't answer that. Boy wonder oncologist is simply an all-caring overly sensitive good Samaritan-"
"Trying to help." House retorted, slowly bringing his hand down to rest on his friends' tense shoulder. "Give the kid the drug, Wilson. It's her only chance, and the FDA don't really write about that in the clinic trial. Almost dying changes nothing, dying changes everything."
House turned after rambling his Housian wisdom, snagged his cane, and exited Wilson's office without another word. Wilson knew he was in the middle of an intriguing case, and that his ducklings were probably searching for him anyway.
Dammit, Wilson thought. He picked up his phone, dialing the nurse on her floor. "Chelsea? It's Dr. Wilson. I need to speak with Cathleen Morgan's parents immediately, can you please tell them to meet me in the lobby by her room? Thanks."
He was going to regret this.
Wilson felt tears prick his eyes as he all but collapsed in his office chair. Watching that child die had taken a toll on him. He'd known she wouldn't be able to handle the drug with her white count, he'd known. But he'd listened to House because doing something was better than doing nothing. And now he'd have the wonderful memory of a child dying from choking on her own blood, body trembling, blue eyes scared and staring up at him, wondering why he'd given her this drug that made her feel so much more awful…?
Don't cry, he told himself.
The sounds of her mother's sobbing, those unbelieving heart-wrenching screams, the nurse stating the time of death, Wilson trying to say something, anything to make the poor parents feel better. Her father, a normally stoic and self-assured man, crumpling to the floor and emitting that noise- unlike anything he'd heard before.
Don't cry, don't cry.
Tears were already pouring down his cheeks, his throat tight with shame and misery. He know in his heart of heart that Cathleen's death wasn't his fault; it was an inevitability. But it didn't stop the sharp twang of inadequacy from bleeding him dry. He was responsible for yet another death. The oncologist buried his face in his hands for the second time that day, shoulders trembling silently as he tried to reign in his emotions.
Wilson was so wrapped up in his dismal self-depreciating thoughts he didn't hear his office door open. House scanned the shivering form of his best friend slowly, frowning to himself. The misanthropic doctor was going to be thrust into the role of comforter; a role he detested but would assume for the benefit of the one person who he knew deserved it the most. House knew what these pediatric cases did to his friend. He knew Wilson had been suffering from a slight cold all week as well, the combination making the man more vulnerable than usual. As reluctant as House was to admit this, he detested seeing Wilson like this more than he detested all the touchy-feely comforting bullshit. Even if he wouldn't want to; House would get the man to talk.
House limped around the oak desk, hesitating only a moment before carding his thin fingers through Wilson's thick hair. Wilson flinched at the touch but didn't glance up, figuring if House saw his bleary tears and flushed cheeks he'd be mocked for weeks. The oncologist released a shaky breath, palms swiping away trails of tears that wouldn't cease. To his surprise, the older man didn't open his mouth to spew hurtful reprimands. He was grateful; he couldn't have taken it at that moment. Maybe House understood that and this was a rare instance of House obliging him; Wilson could never be certain.
House trailed his hand through brown hair once more before he rumbled lowly, "Let's go home, Wilson."
Wilson barely managed to nod his acquiesce.
They lounged on the couch together, legs perched on the coffee table and a six-pack resting on the floor below. The TV had some crappy medical soap opera on, but it was more background noise. Neither were paying the mindless entertainment much attention. Wilson had been silent the entire ride home. He was a little embarrassed that he'd followed House out of the hospital like a lost puppy. When they'd arrived at the loft, House gave his friend some aspirin and snagged the six-pack from the fridge. House guzzled some beer, burping loudly as a commercial break came on. He gave a sidelong glance over to Wilson, the oncologist was peering at his almost empty bottle of booze as if in a trance.
"Wanna talk?" House grunted, slightly uncomfortable with the idea but willing to accept that's what needed to happen.
"House-" Wilson spat the name, inexplicably and abruptly furious though he knew the diagnostician was making a weak attempt at being nice.
"The kid dying wasn't your fault, Wilson. Dying tends to happen to everybody at least once in their life."
"It. Was. NOT. Your. Fault." House annunciated the words slowly, as if he was talking to a stupid patient refusing treatment.
"…" Wilson buried his chin on his chest, scowling.
"So, talk. It's how you cope. People never change and last time I checked you were still considered a person. What happened?"
"…" Wilson stubbornly downed the rest of his drink, lip creased into a firm line indicating he wasn't going to speak.
House sighed, trying to make it sound more concerned and less annoyed. He failed, and his next words came out as a mocking taunt.
"Okay, let me take a wild and crazy educated guess; the brat was crying as she started seizing, looking up at you like 'what did you do to me?' and then she choked on her blood and flat-lined. The nurse came just in time to witness parent A and B start screaming in disbelief, demanding to know what you'd done to their daughter even though you'd clearly explained the dangers before they signed the consent forms and you'd administered the drug."
House paused, noting the lack of reaction from his friend before continuing, "You either tried to comfort them or the mother clutched your chest and cried until your shirt was covered with mascara, cheap coverup and snot. Judging from the pristine condition of said shirt, it was the former, and because they were inconsolable you slowly ducked out of the room to let them deal with their grief. You probably figured that you'd need to start doing the paperwork for the morgue, so you went to your office. Then the combined effects of the cold you've had, exhaustion, and her death made you have a breakdown and you started gettin' weepy like an emo teenager with thoughts of self-mutilation and guilt wracking your admirably intelligent brain."
House was a little surprised that hadn't managed to get a rise out of Wilson. "So we arrive at the current situation; now we are sitting in our loft and you're all guilty and angst-ridden, trying to down your sorrows with booze and pretend to me that you don't feel anything about this," House stood. "And because I'm an ass and because I know better I'm going to eventually make you admit that the brat's death isn't your fuckin' fault."
House headed out of the living room, voice booming across the walls, "But I doubt you are drunk enough to do that yet. If you really wanna drown your guilt, properly, you need some tequila. And judging from how pathetic you look, I'd say copious amounts of it. Maybe followed by some hot lesbian porn and a good wank."
Wilson shifted to glance around at his friend warily. He could see House's backside from the hallway, the taller guy was pulling a bottle of amber-colored liquor out of their cabinet by the fridge and retrieving two shot glasses. The oncologist slumped on the back of the couch, observing his best friend. Everything House had said was right. He'd clearly explained the probable consequences to Cathleen's parents, and had been as gentle as possible administering the drug. For a moment he considered how horrible he must look for House to play the therapist with him.
As the crippled man limped back towards the couch, a swell of affection for House consumed Wilson. House never, ever, ever comforted anybody. But he'd somehow became the exception. It was against House's very nature, but he was willing to do so because he could tell how bad Wilson felt. And in his own abrasive way, by allowing Wilson to wallow in his misery and lubricate his words up with liquor until he'd probably start crying again and admit that House was right, like always…
A shot glass was thrust in front of his face, Wilson blinked at it before his gaze shifted to the lop-sided smirk on House's face. He nodded, almost to himself.
"You'd better be able to keep up." Wilson finally retorted, his tone sounded rough and angry but his eyes were reflecting gratitude.
His eyes were telling House, 'I know this isn't my fault.'
House flopped on the sofa, untwisting the cap of tequila, replying to the unspoken sentiment. "No shit, moron. What do you think I've been trying to tell you?"