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Cats' Corners: the little HOUSE in the woods....
Where House is NEVER safe...
Snapped [new one-shot] 
10th-Nov-2008 05:26 pm
house wilson hospital

 

Title:  Snapped

Genre:  Angst

Rating:  PG

Characters:  House, Wilson, Cuddy

WordCount:  2175

Spoilers:  4.15/4.16; House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart

Summary:  Tag for episode 4.16: Wilson’s Heart.  He felt when it broke, an actual physical sensation.

A/N:  Did you know that blackmare  is brilliant?  Her suggestions always and magically make my stories say what I want them to say.

 

The first time House awakens after the deep brain stimulation, he doesn’t want to open his eyes.  His first thought is Amber’s going to die—or she’s dead already.  God, Wilson, I’m sorry.  His second thought is Cuddy’s here.  I’m in a hospital bed, and Cuddy’s here.  Must be bad.

 

And then it comes back to him—not in neat, easily-assimilated pieces, and not in a breath-catching rush, either.  He just… didn’t know, and then in the next moment he does.  The bus collision, the amnesia, the replay of the accident, the cardiac arrest, the return to consciousness with Amber’s name on his lips.  The ensuing days, trying to keep Wilson’s girlfriend alive, trying to keep Wilson together.  Trying to stay alive himself—not because he wanted to live, but because he’d lived his miserable life by the credo that there is no dignity in death—not even for him.  A release?  Yes; he’d grant that.  But no dignity.  And he had to keep trying to stay alive, because Wilson needed him.  If it turned out to be his time to die, he’d fight it.  He couldn’t die, not until he’d given Amber back to Wilson.

 

He remembers Wilson’s quietly desperate request, remembers Wilson’s certain nod when House had asked, “You want me to risk my life?”

 

He’d been relieved when Wilson had nodded; if he risked his life for Wilson, then Wilson would know how much he cared, how hard he was trying.  How sorry he was.  Then Wilson couldn’t hate him.  So he’d undergone the DBS.  He remembers sitting in that unyielding chair, his head bolted immobile, trying desperately to shift his eyes to the right, to Wilson, needing just a quick look of reassurance from his friend—but it hadn’t come.  So he’d reached into his brain for it—their nexus, the intangible thing that bound them so closely together, that gave House safety.  And then he’d seized.  Chase had begun shouting for Wilson to help him stabilize House, but that hadn’t been House’s concern, because by then House was back on the bus, with Amber.

 

She’d been so beautiful, so calm.  He’d been distraught.  He’d told her that lonely, misanthropic drug addicts were meant to die in bus crashes; she wasn’t.  He remembers now that he’d cried without shame, telling her that he couldn’t get off the bus because he didn’t want to be in pain anymore.  And because he didn’t want Wilson to hate him.

 

“You can’t always get what you want,” Amber had reminded him with an enigmatic smile.

 

So he’d stood up, gotten off that bus with all the dignity he could muster—he had to stick around so he could give Wilson what he needed—even if it meant being the target for Wilson’s anger.  House had known he still might die, but even stronger than the ignominy of death itself was his need for Wilson to forgive him, to… not hate him.  So he’d strode smoothly away from Amber’s cool serenity, limped brokenly back towards Wilson and the waiting pain.

 

Because he remembers all of it now, he also knows one thing; he’d failed.  He’d not only not given Amber back to Wilson, he’d as good as killed her.  He’s sorry now that, this first time awake, he’s closed his eyes again, because the only picture in his mind as he’s pulled back into the sedation are Wilson’s eyes the way they must look right now.  The hurt, the surprise, the grief.  The pain.  Too much pain….

 

There’s one good thing about his closed eyes, though; in his dark isolation, he can still feel the bond that ties them, each to the other.  He’d never put it in words, not even to himself—but it’s something he can feel, even now.   It’s a living thing, their bond, maybe the only living thing that survived the crash whole and intact.  Normally, he doesn’t acknowledge it; its existence can be a hindrance, an annoyance.  Not now, though; now, he needs that unspoken covenant, the way he needs the oxygen and the fluids and the medicines they keep pumping into his body.  He returns to his unnatural, medicinal sleep, gratefully feeling the hum of their connection just beneath his skin.

 

The second time House awakens, Cuddy’s still there; he can hear her breathing quietly, evenly.  He opens his eyes and looks at her.  Obviously exhausted, curled asleep in the chair by his bed.  And still in the same clothes; she hasn’t left him.  But they aren’t alone; House senses that someone’s watching him.  And there’s Wilson at the door. Standing there uncomfortably, like he doesn’t belong inside his best friend’s hospital room, at his bedside.

 

House’s speech isn’t really intelligible, sensible yet.  So the best he can do is beseech Wilson with his eyes.  To come in.  To sit down.  To… forgive him.

 

But Wilson only gives him two small, odd smiles.  The first seems to say that he’s glad House is improving.  The second smile is smaller, and sorrowful, and seems to speak of his loss of Amber.  But before House can attempt to get out even a few garbled words, Wilson turns from the door and is gone.  House closes his eyes sadly, but the thrum of their connection somehow still beats in his ears.

 

Wilson comes back several times, of course.  He asks all the right medical questions, peruses House’s chart carefully.  If his tone is a bit too professional, his manner a little distracted, well, House can understand.  He’s here, isn’t he, honoring their bond under difficult circumstances.

 

They only really talk once.  House is still having residual difficulty transferring thought to speech, so conversation is hard work—frustrating and tiring.  But House has to try, and he counts on Wilson to be an effective interpreter.

 

“You doing all… all…”

 

“I guess I’m all right, House.”

 

“I’m… gonna… okay… you know… back  bot… bot… bother you… no time.”  House smiles crookedly.

 

Wilson stares at him.  At first, House thinks it’s because he’s managed to say so many words all at once—but then he realizes that Wilson’s angry.  The power of speech leaves him again as Wilson starts to shout.

 

“You?  You?  What about Amber, House?  Remember her?  The woman I loved?  You’re gonna make it out of this.  You’ve got blood flowing through your veins, air moving in and out of your lungs.  Your heart is pumping.  And Amber….  So forgive me if this one time I can’t focus all my attention—”  Wilson abruptly stops talking, shakes his head fiercely, and storms out of the room while House watches mutely.  When Wilson returns a few hours later, neither of them mentions what had occurred.  As a matter of fact, they both find it easier, during Wilson’s brief chart-checking visit, not to speak at all.

 

On the third night, Wilson is alone in the room with him when House begins seizing.  It isn’t much; he seems to have simply lost control of the left side of his body, his arm and leg engaged in a macabre dance, his tongue too thick in his mouth to form words.  Wilson understands what’s happening, and presses the emergency bell.  He tells House in his soothing doctor voice that it’s all right, this isn’t unexpected after all House has been through, it’s only temporary, try to stay calm.

 

As doctors and nurses and other personnel arrive, House hears Wilson’s cellphone ring.  Through the haze of trying to control his own body, his fragmented thoughts, House is very much aware that, mid-crisis, Wilson has left his room.  That’s the last clear thought he has before the IV Ativan takes over, and he sleeps.

 

Later, when the sedation lifts, he doesn’t have to open his eyes to know that Cuddy’s back; he hears the click of her heels as she moves around his bed checking monitors, adjusting lines.  But he has a question, so he opens his eyes to let her know he’s awake.  Immediately, she’s leaning over him, smiling worriedly.  “You’re okay, House.  Just a little seizure; the EEG looks good.  No—don’t try to talk.”

 

He ignores her.  “Wi—Wil—sss.”  He makes a frustrated noise deep in his throat.

 

Wilson got a call,” Cuddy says, as House nods impatiently; he knows that.

 

“Where is….” he croaks out.  Cuddy reaches for a cup of water, puts the straw to his lips as she answers.

 

“The call was from Amber’s parents.  The… service was earlier today.  They wanted to take Wilson to dinner before they left town.”

 

“So he’ll… be back soon.”  House is happy that he got out an entire sentence, even if it was just above a whisper.  But it’s taking so long for Cuddy to respond that House is beginning to wonder if he’d unknowingly garbled the words.

 

Finally Cuddy answers.  “I… I don’t know, House.  He didn’t say.”  Cuddy avoids looking at him.

 

After another sip of water, House is ready to talk.  “I was seizing when he left; he’ll… be back… he’ll… be worried.”

 

Cuddy gives him a false smile.  “I’m sure you’re right.  But he’s got a lot of things on his mind right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if—”

 

“’Course he’s got things on his mind,” House interrupts.  “His best friend’s in ICU.  Get him… a cot.  Don’t… don’t want him sitting… up all night… he’s… exhausted….”

 

“That’s not what I meant,” Cuddy says gently.  “It’s not all I meant.  Amber—”

 

“Amber’s dead.  I’m not.”  Okay, so it sounds… cold, even to House. But it’s the truth.  “He’ll be back soon; get… the cot.”

 

Cuddy stares at him a moment, then leaves the room.

 

When she returns, she’s followed by two men from Housekeeping; they set up the cot in the corner of the room and then leave.  Cuddy walks over to it thoughtfully, idly straightens the linens.  “I’ll just stay with you until he gets back, okay?”

 

House nods at her.  He wants to stay awake until Wilson returns, but he’s tired, and he’s still got a lot of Ativan in his system, and maybe he’ll just close his eyes for a few minutes….

 

In the morning, the first thing House does is open his eyes and look in the direction of the cot, and when he sees the blanketed body, he feels better already.  Then the pile of blankets moves, and the body turns over, and it’s Cuddy.  When she sees that he’s awake, she gets up and hurries toward his bed.

 

“I’m sorry; he didn’t get back.  Maybe he decided to take the Volakis’ to the airport, or—”

 

“But he called.”  It’s not a question, but Cuddy has to answer it.

 

“No, House.  I’m sure he will, though, when he can.”  House has turned away from her; he can sense her discomfort, knows she’s at a loss for words.  She rests her hand briefly on his shoulder, but when it tenses under her fingers she sighs and moves away from the bed.

 

Two hours pass.  House pushes away his untouched breakfast tray and refuses to speak to anyone, but he never closes his eyes.  At 9:04, his vigilance is rewarded; he sees Wilson out in the hall.  He’ll have to come in; House’s chart is in the room.

 

House watches Wilson intently; he’s stopped to chat with another doctor.  The conversation is slow and serious, but Wilson even smiles once, sadly.  House is still watching as the stranger puts his arm around Wilson’s shoulder in a gesture of comfort.  They turn around, away from House, and begin the long walk down the hall together.

 

House’s eyes are on Wilson’s receding back as his brain reaches out desperately to find the bond, to feel it.  And for just a moment, he’s back in Atlantic City, telling Wilson, “I don’t want to push this ‘til it breaks.”  Wilson chooses this moment to turn around and glance briefly in the direction of House’s room before he continues on his way.

 

And House feels the pull, then the agonized snap—a physical sensation of something that’s there, and then it’s not.  House takes a deep breath, and it’s like breathing in fire.

 

His leg hurts; he wishes it didn’t.  So he pushes the PCA for a hit of morphine.  His head hurts; he wishes it didn’t.  So he presses his head as far into the pillows as he can, allowing the pressure to ease the pain.

 

His heart hurts; he wishes… he wishes ….  But there’s no specialized equipment, no fast-acting tonic, no complicated surgery for this wound, this pain.

 

And so House closes his eyes one more time.  He wishes it could be the final time, because the best reason he has for ever opening them again has just walked down the hall, trailing the jagged remnants of what was once unbreakable.

 

 

Thoughts 
10th-Nov-2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
Beautiful.

Such a great description of what we didn't see and how it could have happened. Your writing makes me appreciate the show even more.

I've always admired (maybe admired is not the right word, I'm sick and tired, feel free to substitute one that fits best) House because he chooses life and he thinks jumping out of the plane is stupid, despite all the crap he deals with. However when they showed that moment on the white bus with Amber, I felt how real that was too. I felt that same sense of honesty in your writing at the end when Wilson turns and walks away.

Now, I would love to see what got House from this point to eating lunch with Coma Guy in the opening of S5.
10th-Nov-2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
so glad you enjoyed it. and i must admit, blackmare is the one who reminded me that house reveres life.

Now, I would love to see what got House from this point to eating lunch with Coma Guy

yeah--i'd like to see that too! hee.
10th-Nov-2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
Oi, that's amazing! Well done!

And House feels the pull, then the agonized snap—a physical sensation of something that’s there, and then it’s not. House takes a deep breath, and it’s like breathing in fire.
11th-Nov-2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
thanks! the line you quoted is, i think, one of the most painful in a story full of painful lines.
11th-Nov-2008 12:24 am (UTC)
Wow this was exquisite angst at its best. The part that got to me the most was of course the ending:

House watches Wilson intently; he’s stopped to chat with another doctor. The conversation is slow and serious, but Wilson even smiles once, sadly. House is still watching as the stranger puts his arm around Wilson’s shoulder in a gesture of comfort. They turn around, away from House, and begin the long walk down the hall together.

House’s eyes are on Wilson’s receding back as his brain reaches out desperately to find the bond, to feel it. And for just a moment, he’s back in Atlantic City, telling Wilson, “I don’t want to push this ‘til it breaks.” Wilson chooses this moment to turn around and glance briefly in the direction of House’s room before he continues on his way.

And House feels the pull, then the agonized snap—a physical sensation of something that’s there, and then it’s not. House takes a deep breath, and it’s like breathing in fire.

His leg hurts; he wishes it didn’t. So he pushes the PCA for a hit of morphine. His head hurts; he wishes it didn’t. So he presses his head as far into the pillows as he can, allowing the pressure to ease the pain.

His heart hurts; he wishes… he wishes …. But there’s no specialized equipment, no fast-acting tonic, no complicated surgery for this wound, this pain.

And so House closes his eyes one more time. He wishes it could be the final time, because the best reason he has for ever opening them again has just walked down the hall, trailing the jagged remnants of what was once unbreakable.


In some ways it is strange to me to get teary because we watch House put on such an act that makes him look like such a jerk but then it's also not so strange because I learned a long time ago to see beneath that act. So much insecurity, pain, hurt, and self-loathing lies beneath that act he puts on for the world and I guess that why the ending made me tear up. It hurts to see House hurt as I know he is here.

Incidentially I love ALL of your stories including the one you posted before this one. Sorry I missed commenting on it but I didn't know you'd even written it until you posted it on FF.net yesterday (I brieifly deleted my journal to avoid all the post election... ahem gloating that went on).
11th-Nov-2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
It hurts to see House hurt as I know he is here.

that's precisely what i was going for; thanks.
11th-Nov-2008 12:28 am (UTC)
Oh, God... *insert loud groan*

Do you know that feeling, when you read something very very sad, and you actually feel a strange pain somewhere around your chest? Seriously, I've been having this from about the first line to the last. - I guess this story is quite literally heart-breaking...

You're the most amazing writer I know. You so often weave something with words alone that is so cathartic, I don't think I could feel more strongly in real life itself. - Have I already thanked you? Thank you for your talent and your energy, and your willingness to share all that. :) *hugs enthusiastically*
11th-Nov-2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
Do you know that feeling...

oh, do i know that feeling! and--because i'm such a generous person--i inflict it on others with my writing! :)

i hope you know how very much your kind words mean to me. seriously. *hugs*

11th-Nov-2008 12:36 am (UTC)
Make me cry at work! Sheesh, that hurt so much. Now, can you put it back together? I can't stand House and Wilson not together, they have to be friends.
11th-Nov-2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
*hands tissue to genagirl*

sorry? and the good thing [bad thing?] is, i don't have to put it back together again, as our beloved show writers simply hit The Magical Reset Button and--poof!--"Nothing's changed, House. You have to believe that." they didn't have Wilson say that just for House's benefit, you know; they had to make certain that we Understood It as well. sigh.....

and actually, i did put it back together, after a fashion, in Past Imperfect, Present Tense, didn't i? i know--just pretend you read them out of order! hee.
11th-Nov-2008 01:04 am (UTC)
This was... so right and so painful.

Thank you.
11th-Nov-2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
you are so welcome, darling. i'm glad you liked it.
11th-Nov-2008 01:30 am (UTC)
Aha! Snap I got it. The breaking of the friendship. That is so very sad. Could very well be canon.
11th-Nov-2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
Could very well be canon.

in my frightening little mind, sadly, it is, indeed, canon. the writers' Magical Reset Button? it didn't work so well for me. so i create KidsNurseKanon, and that is where i live.
11th-Nov-2008 02:19 am (UTC)
this is absolutely gorgeous, hon :) i mean... breathtaking, really... amazingly beautiful... the emotions are so real, so heartrending, and the wording you chose is flawless, artistic and poetic... very well done :)
11th-Nov-2008 03:06 pm (UTC)
oh, wow! *blushes* thanks so much; you're too kind.
11th-Nov-2008 03:05 am (UTC)
ow. just... ow.

this was really, really good.

house is still trying to belive wilson is his friend until he can't anymore, and it snaps.

11th-Nov-2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
poor house, huh? lucky for us, though, that wilson decided in Birthmarks that "I'm not even sure we get to choose our friends." because otherwise, we would have had to actually watch house go through something like this, and that would've killed me, i think.
11th-Nov-2008 03:18 am (UTC)
Ohmystarsandwhiskers. What a relief, no bad guys.

Absolutely wonderful. Thanks heaps.
11th-Nov-2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
no bad guys

no--just two messed-up, confused, miserable, lonely people doing their very best to survive. wilson, especially--and yeah, now that i think of it, house too--always bring to my mind that quotation that mentions 'leading lives of quiet desperation'. or something along those lines.
11th-Nov-2008 03:41 am (UTC)
Beautifully done! The way you caught House's pain is so eloquent. I could truly feel House's heart breaking through your words.

Edited at 2008-11-11 03:42 am (UTC)
11th-Nov-2008 03:15 pm (UTC)
then i accomplished my goal with this piece; thanks!
11th-Nov-2008 05:29 am (UTC)
Oh sad and moving and poor, poor House. I do love your fic. House's thoughts are so moving. And Wilson, urrgh, yeah I know he is ... Urrgh, well, he is Wilson. Poor House again. And Cuddy tried to let him feel better but failed. Wow! You are really a great author.
11th-Nov-2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
thanks, dear. i feel sorry for cuddy; she does try so hard, and has such a good heart.
(Deleted comment)
11th-Nov-2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
o realistically and so honestly without, you know, being the characters

i suppose you could call me a 'method writer.' i do tend to take on the emotions i'm writing about [which sometimes makes for an interesting homelife!], or i write about whatever my actual overriding emotion happens to be. for example, with this piece, i'd been feeling isolated, kind of lost. i started writing, and Snapped was the result.

thanks so much for commenting; glad you enjoyed it.
11th-Nov-2008 09:49 am (UTC)
This is just heartbreaking... this is what the show missed out on by skipping those 2 months. Poor House...Just a perfect story.
11th-Nov-2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
thank you; i often feel a need to 'fill in the blanks' where the show is concerned, and it pleases me so much when i'm able to share the results of that need, and know that other people find it satisfying as well.
11th-Nov-2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
'His heart hurts'...now mine does :(

You really know how to make me cry for House...and feel disappointed in Wilson - even though I shouldn't. 0_o

Thanks for sharing. Love it. x
11th-Nov-2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
you're quite welcome! i'm too protective of house sometimes; wilson's only human, and i believe he tries to do his best for house, but occasionally i just have to jump in and clarify things from house's perspective! :)
11th-Nov-2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
this is really beautifully written.
11th-Nov-2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
thank you. it was painful to write, and the end result hurts to read, but i suppose that means i did what i'd set out to do, so that's good. :)
11th-Nov-2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
Please continue to put all your eggs in one basket because this new story is proof of how wonderful and important your basket is. We fans need this and will continue to need it as long as the show's canon is not KidsNurseKanon!
11th-Nov-2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
i'm so glad you enjoyed it! and thanks for the vote of confidence.
11th-Nov-2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
Oh, poor, poor House, so confident that Wilson will be back, making Cuddy get the cot (I don't even want to consider how heartwrenching this must have been for Cuddy), and then the SNAP - wonderfully evocative writing but so sad, it hurts to read it. And this line: So he’d strode smoothly away from Amber’s cool serenity, limped brokenly back towards Wilson and the waiting pain, so painful: from striding to limping...

Beautiful. Thanks.
11th-Nov-2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, and that was me above, sorry, too tired to think & log in...
(Deleted comment)
12th-Nov-2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
except the part where it's broken, right. *pats aiatalay comfortingly*
12th-Nov-2008 03:56 am (UTC)
I just realized I never told you how well I like the few changes you made since the last draft I saw. They work so well.

And I have felt that living connection before, between myself and certain of my closest friends -- I know what it is, which perhaps is why this piece affects me the way it does.
12th-Nov-2008 04:47 am (UTC)
I've also had that "golden thread" of connection between myself and a friend. Once, my friend was pregnant and living half-way across the country from me..on 4th of July I got the unmistakable feeling of "thrumming" along the connection and I just *Knew* something was very wrong. It was almost 2 weeks before I finally managed to get ahold of her, 2 weeks of worry and hell. I knew SHE was ok, but I also knew something was very wrong. I found out later that her youngest son (age 12) had climbed 45 foot up a poplar tree, trying to get his kite unstuck. He was moving out on a branch while holding on to another above him when both snapped. The top branch acted as a balance (like a tight-rope walkers balance)so he fell upright and on his feet; but he broke every bone in both feet and had cardiac arrythemias for several days. The stress put her in the hospital and she had to have a c-section while he was still hospitalized. I still don't know why I felt that; but I did.

Only once have I had that living connection "snapped." That was over 25 years ago. It's still raw.

13th-Nov-2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
Every time your name appears on my computer, I practically salivate. LOL I love your stories! I loved how you started this story. "The first time House awakens after the deep brain stimulation, he doesn’t want to open his eyes". The reader is immediately hooked.

This line killed me "He remembers sitting in that unyielding chair, his head bolted immobile, trying desperately to shift his eyes to the right". I've watched that scene 100 times but seeing it in words was wonderful. Such a great description.

Loved this line as well "He couldn’t die, not until he’d given Amber back to Wilson". You know he wanted that to be the case. How sad.

This line drove me crazy He’s sorry now that, this first time awake, he’s closed his eyes again, because the only picture in his mind as he’s pulled back into the sedation are Wilson’s eyes...". Phew!

So many great lines "He returns to his unnatural, medicinal sleep, gratefully feeling the hum of their connection just beneath his skin."

The whole part about him seizing and Wilson walking off and not coming back was so sad. This was so sad "a physical sensation of something that’s there, and then it’s not." Such a great title. So appropriate. Great job! :D
14th-Nov-2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
i know i've accomplished what i set out to do when i receive thoughtful comments such as yours, and that makes my day! thank you so much.
14th-Nov-2008 04:05 am (UTC)
*breathes*

What a beautiful story!! My heart really ached for House. This is angst to the MAX. . . and the very best kind, too. It's fascinating (and heartbreaking!) to see House react this way - so genuine, so defenseless.

14th-Nov-2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
it's extremely difficult for me to write angst like this without also wanting to 'fix' it, to make it end differently, more hopefully. so it's especially wonderful to know that you enjoyed this piece, even without a happier ending; thank you.
30th-Nov-2008 07:07 am (UTC)
Anonymous
This story expresses the reason I can not watch Wilson's Heart again. I can't bear to see the scene of Wilson asking him to do the DBS and him in the chair looking at Wilson for a crumb of reassurance, and Wilson appearing indifferent. Then the show writers think we will be satisfied with a brief comment from Wilson that nothing has changed. At least House, as played by HL, doesn't appear to buy it. This show seems to treat too many issues too superficially. Which is sad since its such a gold nugget of possibility. I can only hope somewhere down the line that some of the pain will genuinely be released. Then I can sleep better at night.
13th-Dec-2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
oh god! The end made me cry. This is incredibly intense! It's such a comfort to know that House and Wilson go back to normal in S5!
heidi