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Cats' Corners: the little HOUSE in the woods....
Where House is NEVER safe...
Bittersweet Hour (last in the HOUR series) 
17th-Jul-2007 11:15 am
HWb&w
Title: Bittersweet Hour
Characters: House, Wilson
Rating: PG
Genre: Angst
Word Count: 1400 
Summary: Wilson reflects on what he and House have been through together. 

The previous vignettes, in order, are:
Visiting Hour,  Happy Hour,  Midnight Hour Fifty-Minute Hour Random Hour,  Painful Hour,  Dark Hour ,  Desperate Hour,  Witching Hour ,  Lonely HourDinner Hour Legal Hour  Honorable Hour,  House's Hour ,  Wilson's Hour ,  Uncomfortable Hour ,  Lunch Hour , Administrative Hour , and  Evening Hour.

A/N:
This is it, kids; end of the road on The Hour Series.  My appreciation for sticking with me on this journey.  And I'm at a loss as to the proper words to thank  
blackmare_9   and  misanthropicobs   for their apparently limitless patience, their brilliant suggestions, their perceptive analysis of the House-Wilson dynamic.  They're awesome, and I'm incredibly lucky. ~mjf  07.17.07

 

BITTERSWEET HOUR

 

After four days of pretending not to watch over Wilson, House is finally back at work today.  Wilson’s relieved; he suspects House is too.  Yesterday, Wilson had finally figured out what the problem is; they’re off-balance.

 

Of course, Wilson appreciates House’s concern.  He’s even thankful for the awkward attempts House has made to take care of him, though most of those attempts have resulted in more work for Wilson.  He smiles, remembering his second night home.

 

For the first time ever, House had offered to make the popcorn for their movie.  He hadn’t just offered—he’d insisted.  Wilson had sat miserably on the couch, trying to enjoy the feeling of being useless.

 

Then House had yelled from the kitchen, telling Wilson to “get in here now!”  Wilson had run in to find a virtual blizzard of popped kernels everywhere, with House demanding, at the top of his lungs, to know why Wilson had chosen not to tell him about using a lid on the pot.  The conversation had then proceeded downhill rapidly.

 

“Uh… House.  Surely even genius diagnosticians have enough common sense to know that popcorn… umm… pops.”

 

“Of course I know that, you moron!  I figured that if the stuff had enough common sense to stay in a one quart bag, it could handle staying inside a two gallon pot!”

 

Wilson had stolen a glance at House’s face to make sure he was serious; oh, yeah.  So Wilson had swallowed his laughter, taken a deep breath, and tried again.

 

“House, the bag is enclosed; the stuff is trapped.” Wilson had patiently drawn a box in the air with his hands to demonstrate.  “In an open pot, the stuff pops, and pow!” Wilson again gestured, this time illustrating something along the lines of a nuclear explosion.

 

At which time House, glowering angrily, had made a gesture with his hand, and Wilson had to bite the inside of his mouth to keep from laughing, but the laughter had snuck up to his eyes, and he was really sorry, but c’mon, House, it’s funny!  And after just a few seconds they’d both cracked up.  Both the memory and the later blackmail potential had made it worth having to clean up the mess.

 

So Wilson had made another batch and put the kitchen back in order.  And House had sat on a stool grumbling, and pointing out that at least he’d tried.  Of course, it was all Wilson’s fault for insisting that stove-popped corn was so much better than the microwaved variety; House knew how to handle those non-aggressive sealed bags!   

 

And later, at bedtime, House had actually asked Wilson if he was all right, if he needed anything.  Okay, so he’d phrased it, “You don’t need anything, do you?”  But at least he’d asked.

 

Wilson doesn’t want to discourage this apparent emotional growth.  But it’s so different from the way things used to be that it’s… unsettling.

 

Wilson’s used to being the caretaker, the giver, the protector.  And House is used to being, well, House.  So the role-reversal of the last few days is taking its toll on both of them.  Wilson realizes that things can’t go back to the way they were before he went to prison—and they shouldn’t.  But until he and House find their footing, allow this new balance to seek its own, natural level, it’s going to be just a little… weird.

 

Yesterday, when Wilson had pinpointed the problem, he’d casually suggested, over dinner, that maybe it was time for House to go back to work.  House had jumped on the idea with alacrity; he’s aware of the imbalance too.  And he’s begun showing the first signs of boredom; Wilson knows that a bored House is something to be avoided at all costs.

 

Once the decision had been made, the situation had begun to improve immediately.  Their evening had been relaxed and enjoyable; House had even been comfortable enough to throw a few insults at Wilson, make a few bad prison jokes.  Wilson had forgotten that those jokes could be funny—and that laughter can help to heal.

 

Wilson’s enjoying his freedom today.  He chuckles at the irony of having felt more confined under House’s watchful eye than he’d ever felt in prison.  He has to laugh at himself, too.  He finally has an entire day to do just as he likes, and he finds that the more routine, the more mundane an activity is, the more satisfaction it brings.  So now, he’s doing laundry.

 

Wilson picks up a pair of jeans, half-hiding under House's bed.  He's done a few loads of wash for House in the past—and he's learned, the hard way, to check the pockets.  He's previously found receipts, yo-yo strings, lab results, an expensive pen.  Once, a wad of bubble gum.  And House still hasn't forgiven him for putting the GameBoy through the soak cycle.

 

So Wilson puts his hand into a back pocket with a bit of trepidation, and immediately feels paper, folded tightly into a neat square.  The paper's been handled too often; it's soft now—soft as the many denim pockets it’s obviously been pushed into and pulled out of over the last few weeks. Wilson recognizes it—his own handwriting, visible through the thin prison stationery; it's the letter he'd written to Cuddy.

 

Wilson opens it carefully, slowly—the paper’s split at the creases— and reads his own words, remembering the loneliness, the desperation he'd felt as he'd tried to say something that would somehow make a difference for House, lighten House's burden of guilt, anger… shame.

 

He'd known the letter had made a difference; Cuddy had visited one Tuesday, and told him so.  She'd said that House had changed, after she told him what Wilson had written.  That from the moment he’d scooped the letter from the table and left the restaurant that night, he'd been more confident, less cranky.  But more than that, he'd seemed... at peace.  Oh, he was still their miserable House, but underlying all his usual sound and fury, there was a serenity Cuddy’d never seen in him before.  Wilson was certain he’d misunderstood, and asked her to repeat it.  That was the word she’d used—serenity.

 

And Wilson’s seen the change for himself, in the days since he’d been released.  As long as he’s known House, he’s sensed that beneath his ego, his bravado, an old hurt festered—a hurt that kept House striving for something always out of his reach.  House is more comfortable with himself now; somehow, he’s touched whatever’s eluded him all these years.

 

Until now, though, Wilson hasn't known just what it was he'd written that seemed to have made such a difference, had made things better for House. As he reads the last lines of the letter, his question is answered—with a certainty that takes his breath away.

 

While writing to Cuddy, Wilson had remembered that night in Atlantic City when their doomed patient asked House why he’d become a doctor.  House told the story of a man everybody shunned, until they needed him.  Wilson will always remember the intensity burning in House's eyes as he'd related how everyone had to listen to the man, because he was right.  In that moment, Wilson had realized the incredible importance such acknowledgement held for House.  So he had written, Tell House I said he did the right thing.  Tell him just like that: 'Wilson says you were right; you did the right thing.'

 

House had highlighted the last sentence; it shines and jumps from the page in bright yellow.  The words around it are smudged from handling, but this sentence is vivid and alive under its glowing blanket of ink.

 

Wilson carefully refolds the fragile paper and slides it gently back into the pocket.  He takes his time replacing the jeans, just as he’d found them.  Then he sits on the edge of the bed and closes his eyes.  Against the burning blackness of his eyelids, that one sentence still glows. Such a simple truth, just something Wilson had wanted House to know, yet somehow—just as House had worked to free WilsonWilson’s words had freed House.

 

In all these months, throughout the entire horrible nightmare, there's one thing Wilson's never done, never given into.  And now, it finally happens.  Wilson bows his head, and he cries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another A/N:  Many (myself included) wanted to see this series go to twenty-four hours. 

blackmare_9
Thoughts 
17th-Jul-2007 03:51 pm (UTC)
A beautiful ending to a beautiful story. Wilson freeing House from his prison as well - it just is so perfect. Thank you.
17th-Jul-2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
Wilson freeing House from his prison as well

because house's and wilson's experiences during the story insisted on maintaining an almost eerie parallel, it seemed... fitting, that the end should maintain that odd concordance. you're welcome!
17th-Jul-2007 03:57 pm (UTC)
oh the last one... :-( But a good one again. :-)

I'm very glad you explained the "You did the right thing" question. I remember a lot of people wondering about it (including me) And I love the explanation. It makes total sense.

Wilson had sat miserably on the couch, trying to enjoy the feeling of being useless. LOL, yeah, that's Wilson... :-)

*hugs Wilson, just because*

And LOL to Hours 21-24: Wasted Hours. House and Wilson sit around and watch a *Miami Vice* marathon on Spike TV. The End A perfect End!!!

you certainly deserve more than just a coffee for this. *hands over selfmade brownie* :-)
17th-Jul-2007 04:30 pm (UTC)
very glad you explained the "You did the right thing" question

and believe me--i struggled with it as well. glad the "answer" rang true!
17th-Jul-2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
Ah, such a wonderful end-note, to have the letter reappear! And the light touch about all the things in House's pockets -- it brought to my mind the image of a small child who stuffs all kinds of interesting items in his pockets -- money, gum, pencils, bugs ... hee.

I wasn't expecting Wilson's tears, and it made me realize that perhaps the letter had freed them both -- obviously House from his inner prison, Wilson from his real one -- but in a deeper way, from their old relationship. The whole experience, as you say, forced them off-balance, and it took the highlighted words in that letter to set them both on a different, better path.

Or ... something like that. *g* Well done.
17th-Jul-2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
Or ... something like that.

yes--exactly like that. as a matter of fact, my original summary of this vignette was phrased quite similarly to your comment. then i decided that that would've been making the assumption that i'd actually conveyed what i'd intended to convey--and the way my brainmalfunctions works lately, i figured that was just too large an assumption to make... or something like that! ;-)
17th-Jul-2007 04:26 pm (UTC)
Miami Vice Insanity
House: “You keep scarfing down that pizza and everyone will be calling you Tubbs.”
Wilson: “Good, he was much cooler than Crockett.”
House: “Crockett had style.”
Wilson: “Please, pastels and stubble chic?”
House: “Says the man who’s favorite tie is pink and lime green.”
Wilson: “It was a gift.”
House: “They obviously hated you, so which wife was it?”
Wilson: “Shut up.”

Miami Vice Marathon is such a funny image. Great ending to really captivating series. It really seemed like a plausible AU. You managed to bring them together and still keep them in character by making it subtle instead of having it turn into an emo display. There relationship has been changed for the better but not drastically. Great Job!
17th-Jul-2007 04:41 pm (UTC)
Miami Vice Marathon is such a funny image.

yup--when blackmare came up with it (and then so kindly agreed to let me appropriate it) i knew immediately that it was perfect.

Great Job!

thanks! enjoyed (almost) every "hour" (sorry, couldn't resist) of writing it. ;)
17th-Jul-2007 04:31 pm (UTC)
*cries again* *cuddles Wilson*

Thanks for such a great series and I look forward to reading more of your works (hint hint :P)
17th-Jul-2007 04:42 pm (UTC)
*cries again* *cuddles Wilson*

*hands kleenex, and suggests that house deserves a cuddle as well* ;)
(Deleted comment)
17th-Jul-2007 04:45 pm (UTC)
The symbiosis between them and their need for each other is unchanged and yet each of them is stronger than at the beginning of the whole thing. Mare's Wasted Hours suggestion is particularly right for them both.

agreed--and agreed! ;)

Thanks again for letting me help a little bit.

you're greatly underestimating your own contribution again... sigh. ;)
and thank you!


17th-Jul-2007 04:33 pm (UTC)
Bravo!!! I have thorougly enjoyed every chapter of this story (and a little sad to see it end). Great job!
17th-Jul-2007 04:47 pm (UTC)
a little sad to see it end

oh, me too! glad you enjoyed it, though!!
17th-Jul-2007 04:41 pm (UTC)
T_____T I hate endings *snif*

The end was wonderful... but *snif* endings make me cry T^T
... I will miss this fic D: *snif*

GREAT JOB!!! *O*

Kisses...

bye bye!
17th-Jul-2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
endings make me cry

i also shed a tear or three at having to end this one. and thank you!
17th-Jul-2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
Beautiful ending.
17th-Jul-2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
thank you!
17th-Jul-2007 05:11 pm (UTC)
This was the perfect end to this. Thank you so much for sharing all your hard work with us mortals.
17th-Jul-2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
and thank you so much for reading, and supporting, this series!! :)
17th-Jul-2007 05:30 pm (UTC) - ...Several Hours (Dr. Fantabulous)
Anonymous
I got back from camp to many Hours to read, very exciting :)
They were all great, I especially love the end; very connected, what with House freeing Wilson and vice versa. Can't wait for the next project!
Now I've got to go read the one shots. :)
17th-Jul-2007 05:36 pm (UTC) - Re: ...Several Hours (Dr. Fantabulous)
welcome back! so glad you've enjoyed these, and hope you like the one-shots as well!!
17th-Jul-2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
A wonderful ending to an awesome story. Great job.
17th-Jul-2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
thanks so much!
17th-Jul-2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
Wonderful conclusion! *applause*
17th-Jul-2007 05:42 pm (UTC)
*applause*

thank you; thank you! now, on to the next project! :)
17th-Jul-2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
You were right - I love the ending. It's everything I imagined it would be and more. They've freed each other. Ahh. I broke up in the last paragraph and cried right along with Wilson.

I'm definitely adding this to my memories. I have a feeling I'll be revisiting this story again and again. Thank you, so much, for writing this.
17th-Jul-2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
I love the ending

i am so glad you weren't disappointed! and thanks so much for your supportive comments; they mean a lot.
17th-Jul-2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
Wonderful series one of the best I've read. Remember reading the first chapter and being amazed by the twist that it was Wilson in jail great idea.
Choked up slightly when Wilson realised the significance of what he'd written. I want to go sit and House's bed now and cry with Wilson.
17th-Jul-2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
Choked up slightly when Wilson realised the significance of what he'd written.

that was the effect for which i was trying! thanks!! :)
17th-Jul-2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
Amazing ending. Perfect down to the last kernel. I can't find the words to tell you how wonderfully done this series was. And as for the Miami Vice marathon... I think it should've been a CSI marathon. Just so they could make horrible jokes about how they need Greg around the hospital or something.

-ANimal
17th-Jul-2007 11:14 pm (UTC)
Amazing ending.

and i've gotta say, i'm really surprised at how much you guys are liking the ending! i was afraid everyone would feel 'let down,' because--while it ends on a strongly positive note--it isn't blatantly happy. anyway, very pleased that you liked!! :)
17th-Jul-2007 07:47 pm (UTC)
this was sweet. sorry it's over.
17th-Jul-2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
sorry it's over

me too. :( thanks for reading and commenting so loyally!
17th-Jul-2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
This was such a terrific what-if story. I've really enjoyed following along. Thank you for writing it and putting it up!
17th-Jul-2007 11:17 pm (UTC)
you're quite welcome! thank you for your kind, encouraging words throughout!
17th-Jul-2007 11:01 pm (UTC)
I'm sad to see this end, but it was a good ending. I'll miss my daily fix. Great work.
17th-Jul-2007 11:18 pm (UTC)
so glad you enjoyed it!
17th-Jul-2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
Wow, what an amazing series. Thank you!
17th-Jul-2007 11:19 pm (UTC)
i'm so glad you liked it; thanks!
(Deleted comment)
18th-Jul-2007 12:17 am (UTC)
Bringing back the letter was such a perfect touch and one I wasn't expecting.

oh, that makes me happy! i like to write things that are unexpected; and i love it when you kids appreciate them. thanks for letting me know, so eloquently, what pleasure the series brought you; means a lot. :)
18th-Jul-2007 12:34 am (UTC)
I loved every chapter of this story and the end was perfect!
18th-Jul-2007 12:39 am (UTC)
i'm glad; i really enjoyed writing it, and appreciate knowing that you enjoyed reading it. :)
18th-Jul-2007 02:00 am (UTC)
*sits in her corner and claps quietly*

Bravo, my dear.

:-)

It's wonderful to see the responses you're getting. Glad you stuck with your instincts and wrote this the way you wanted to.

Still can't get over that vivid and alive under its glowing blanket of ink line. I don't know what it is about that but it's simply fantastic.
18th-Jul-2007 01:07 pm (UTC)
It's wonderful to see the responses you're getting.

yeah, you and misanthropicobs called this one; ecstatic to admit my "wrongness"!!! ;)

stuck with your instincts

and this series actually helped me to develop those instincts. i continue to second-guess what i write--but at least i've ceased third-guessing!

can't get over that vivid and alive under its glowing blanket of ink line

i dunno what it is either. but i do know that the line makes it easier for me to 'bring the scene to life' in my brain.

thanks again, my friend, for all your wonderful contributions to this series. *hugs*

18th-Jul-2007 03:57 am (UTC)
Oh, wonderful. Truly wonderful. Lovely introspective ending to this series. And I will never be able to eat popcorn without giggling now. Thanks very much. :/
18th-Jul-2007 01:00 pm (UTC)
Lovely introspective ending to this series.

still happily attempting to recover from the fact that no one seems 'let down' by the poignant nature of the ending--what a very pleasant surprise! it... seemed appropriate... to maintain the initial 'feel' at the end--and it worked!

writing the popcorn thing was fun--credit blackmare for insisting that i put in some sort of clear illustration of house attempting to "take care of" wilson. glad you enjoyed! :)
18th-Jul-2007 04:12 am (UTC)
First time I've been through my f-list in ages, and the first longer fic I've read in an equal amount of ages.

I'm glad I swung by for this one. The emotional edge overall was just marvelous. :-)
18th-Jul-2007 12:51 pm (UTC)
The emotional edge overall was just marvelous.

and it was a neat challenge for me, attempting to maintain that edge, over twenty segments--quite satisfying, i must say. thanks!!
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