Characters: House, Wilson, Cuddy
Summary: The Devil's In the Details again centers around the House-Wilson-Cuddy bond. The story has a lot of introspection, especially for House and Wilson. The plot (such as it is....) centers around House's undiagnosed left leg pain. This is the third and final book of the Devil trilogy, which began with The Devil, You Say, and continued with Battling the Demons.
The previous chapters can be found
Chapter Two: TRUST
Chapter Three: TESTING
This evening's chapters:
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Perceptions
Wilson enters the bedroom with an air of resignation; he’s still not comfortable with the idea of sharing his nightmare with House. But as he nears the bedside, he sees that he’s gotten an unexpected reprieve; House has fallen asleep.
Wilson is glad that House has been able to return to sleep so quickly, gladder still that telling House about his dream can wait. On the other hand, he’s curious about what House has to say; what was going on in his friend’s mind that would cause him to speak aloud about hitting Wilson? Well, that would have to wait too. He leaves the room quietly, and returns to the kitchen, where Cuddy is still hard at work.
“Will you go lie down now?” he asks her. “Trust me, don’t much feel like sleeping after that experience.”
Cuddy sits. “What experience? What’d you dream about? Might help to talk it out.”
After considering it for a minute, Wilson decides that Cuddy might be right; sharing the nightmare might help to dilute the horrifying details of having to watch House destroy his leg, might give the pictures in his mind less power.
He starts out hesitantly. When he reaches the part when House picked up the pestle, Cuddy sees his eyes go unfocused, and she knows he’s back there, reliving the awful scene. She reaches across the table and takes his hand. He seems unaware of it as he continues speaking, but as he concludes the story, she realizes that he’s now gripping her hand tightly. When he turns his head to look at her, the dregs of his terror and helplessness are still in his eyes.
Cuddy chooses her next words very carefully. “I’d like it if you’d call Dr. Dickinson, discuss this with him. And… I want to speak with him when you’re finished. Please.”
Wilson closes his eyes briefly, and then nods. “I’ll do that first thing in the morning.”
“No,” Cuddy says gently. “You’ll do it now,” she says, as she hands him the phone. “You said he told you to call day or night, and I think this warrants taking him up on that. You’ll do it now,” she repeats.
Wilson knows she’s right. “Will you stay?” he asks her. “Save me from having to repeat the conversation to you later,” he says, as he pulls out Dick’s card and punches the number in.
“Of course, if you want me to,” Cuddy says.
Dickinson answers on the fifth ring; Wilson can tell immediately that he’s awakened him. But Dick’s voice is warm; he sounds happy to hear from Wilson, even in the middle of the night. Wilson quickly relaxes into the conversation as he relates the events of the evening, and by the time he’s done giving the details, he admits to himself that he’s starting to feel better.
“Sounds as if your concern for that left leg goes pretty deep,” Dickinson tells him. “Are you worried that Dr. House might be exaggerating the pain, or using these new problems to escape dealing with the old ones?”
“No!” Wilson answers, shocked. He’s a little angry that Dick would even suggest such things. “I’m absolutely certain there’s no exaggeration; he may actually be underplaying it. And I’ve already told you, House has been responding very well to the loss of the breakthrough pain.”
“I only ask because your dream indicates that you may have some concerns that Dr. House is capable of harming himself physically, or that he might indeed be having problems with a different perception of himself. James, I’m gonna suggest to you again that you stop putting off that conversation with him. And I’m concerned about you, too. Your nightmare, being alone and unable to call for help during the ordeal… it indicates the degree of responsibility you feel towards his health, his recovery.”
“I’ll talk to him. I’m realizing the importance of that conversation. Maybe I shouldn’t have put it off; needs to be done, doesn’t it? Not just yet, though. I know it’s important; time’s just not right, with this new stuff going on. And I’m fine, Dick. Nothing a couple of nights’ sleep won’t cure. Once we have a diagnosis on the leg, things should settle down around here; I just have to hang in. But I appreciate your take on all this; sorry I woke you. Talking with you really seems to help.”
Cuddy can tell that Wilson is getting ready to wrap up the conversation, so she indicates that she’d like the phone. Wilson quirks his mouth in a ‘not necessary’ gesture, but says to Dick, “My boss, Lisa Cuddy, is here with me, Dick. She’d like to speak with you.”
When Dickinson asks him for the standard permissions, Wilson looks over at Cuddy, and doesn’t hesitate in his answer. “She’s listened to the voice file, and she’s heard my end of the conversation tonight. You’ve got my permission to speak openly with her.” Then he hands the phone to Cuddy, and listens as she describes her concerns.
Cuddy doesn’t tell Dick anything that surprises Wilson, but Wilson feels she’s far too concerned about his state of mind. And he’s sorry that she’s apparently so worried about him, along with everything else she has to worry about. But when she begins to discuss Wilson’s lack of sleep and reluctance to take a break from caring for House, Wilson starts shaking his head at her. She very deliberately turns her back to him, and continues speaking. Now she’s asking Dick’s opinion about a mild tranquilizer—and Wilson’s certain she isn’t asking for House.
“Not necessary,” Wilson interrupts Cuddy. “Not interested.” Cuddy ignores him, thanks Dick for his time and his opinions, and then hangs up the phone. Then she turns to regard Wilson.
“Here’s how it’s gonna be,” Cuddy says, looking Wilson right in the eye. “Lorazepam, 0.5 milligrams during the day, as necessary—but at least one dose. And one milligram at night.” As Wilson opens his mouth to protest, Cuddy says forcefully, “Don’t even think of trying to interrupt me.”
Wilson sighs, and sits down to hear her out.
“You need to sleep, and your stress levels are dangerously high. So you’ll do this. If not, I’ll have no choice but to tell House what all this is doing to you.”
Wilson’s pretty certain she’s bluffing—but not completely certain. “You wouldn’t risk upsetting him like that,” he says, tentatively.
“Don’t bet on it,” Cuddy responds. “At those doses, the Ativan won’t knock you out, won’t keep you from hearing House if he needs you. It’ll just… take the edge off, make all this a little easier. And that’ll enable you to go on being there for House.”
“You’d really tell him if I refuse?”
“In a heartbeat.” Cuddy’s eyes are determined, and Wilson’s starting to think this isn’t a bluff.
Wilson begins to feel trapped, and anxious at feeling out of control, and he has a sudden rush of empathy for House. This must be how he feels when we don’t consult him or— worse—just blatantly ignore what he wants. Think I might be a little more sensitive in the future. For now, House, I’m with ya, buddy; this stinks!
Wilson’s eyes meet Cuddy’s; she can clearly read the resentment in his. “You aren’t playing fair,” Wilson tells her almost coldly. “You’ve left me no choice but to agree, and you know it. You win.” He breaks eye contact. “I’m gonna go check on him, maybe sit there a while.” He leaves the kitchen before Cuddy can respond.
In House’s room, Wilson’s pleased to see that House remains asleep, and looks comfortable. Wilson lowers himself wearily into the chair, and whispers to the sleeping man, “Sorry about the morphine thing. Just had the tables turned on me; it’s not fun, is it? But I did what I had to do; guess that’s how Cuddy feels too. Sure, I’ll forgive her—in a little while. Hope you’ll forgive me, too.” He rests his head against the back of the chair, and allows himself to drift off. This time, his sleep is dreamless.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Whispers
When Cuddy quietly enters House’s room an hour later, thinking that Wilson’s had enough time to cool off, what she sees makes her smile.
House remains asleep. His face is relaxed, and both legs rest at normal angles to his body; there’s no sign of the restlessness that’s lately been a regular part of his sleep pattern.
Wilson’s asleep too. He’s slouched down in the chair, and he’s got his legs up on the bed, and somehow he looks comfortable. Cuddy thinks this is probably the first time she’s seen him sleep recently that he doesn’t look as if he’s gonna jump up and run to House’s side in the next second. And why should he? she thinks. He’s already where he needs to be; he can finally let himself relax.
Cuddy gently lifts Wilson’s head and slips a pillow under it, then does the same with his left arm before she covers him with a blanket. Wilson doesn’t even stir.
It’s not quite time to hang a new bag of TPN yet, but Cuddy does it anyway; she doesn’t want the sound of the pump to wake the men. She cautiously takes a set of vitals on House, but he’s sleeping so soundly that he’s undisturbed even by this.
She makes certain that the blinds are tightly closed against the dawn’s light; it’s after five o’clock, the sun’ll be coming up soon. And Cuddy plans to allow these two to sleep as long as they can; it’s the best thing for both of them right now. She leaves as quietly as she’d entered.
Cuddy returns to the kitchen, where she pours herself a fresh cup of coffee, then sits to jot down the latest set of vital signs. When she’s finished writing the numbers, she closes the makeshift chart in front of her and looks down at it. It’s already almost an inch thick, and it details only nine days in the unique treatment of a very unique patient.
What it doesn’t say, Cuddy thinks to herself, is how all this has changed him. And… how it’s changed us. There’s no form in there listing next of kin, but if there were, the names on it would be ours; that stubborn, contrary, brilliant man has turned the three of us into a family, somehow. Brothers indeed, those two. Not certain if I’m the big sister, or the mom. Mom, probably; they do seem to need the supervision! She smiles fondly, remembering some of the pranks they’ve pulled. Anyway, doesn’t matter; I fit here. They’ve welcomed me in. Wilson first; took House a lot longer to realize I really wanted to help. And somewhere along the line, he’s started to learn how to trust again. Still a little rusty in the ‘care and concern’ department, but if anyone can make him comfortable with that, it’s Wilson. He’s the one person on the planet who House can’t intimidate, the one person House isn’t afraid to show his human side to. Well… maybe House is starting to come around with me, too. She allows herself a smile at that thought. “And yes, I’m proud of that,”she whispers aloud.
A noise from the direction of the bedroom catches her attention, and she goes to see what it is. She finds a drowsy Wilson helping an equally drowsy House down the hall to the bathroom. Wilson looks at her, puts a finger to his lips, and whispers, “Shh… we’re still sleeping.” Then he hands House his cane and watches him safely ambulate into the bathroom before leaning against the wall and closing his eyes.
“I wouldn’t think of waking you,” Cuddy whispers back, then just stands and watches until House comes out of the bathroom and hands the cane back to Wilson. Wilson tucks it under his arm, whispers, “I gotcha” to House, and—disregarding his own sprained wrist—supports House just enough to permit him to walk the short distance safely, almost on his own.
Cuddy follows them down the hall and into the bedroom. She puts her own finger to her lips when Wilson starts to speak, then she points to his abandoned chair. He smiles and shakes his head at her, but obediently burrows back into the chair while Cuddy resettles House comfortably and reattaches the TPN to the heplock. Then she checks on Wilson to make sure he’s got the left arm elevated. He has, and he’s already fallen back to sleep. Cuddy picks up the fallen blanket and covers him.
As she turns to leave, House, in that gentle state of half-sleep which turns even the most jaded adult into an innocent child, gives her an unguarded smile. He whispers, “Thanks,” closes his eyes, and sighs into sleep.
As Cuddy closes the door silently behind her, she whispers back, to both of them, “You are so very welcome….”
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Truth
Shortly after 11:00am, Wilson awakens to the scents of fresh coffee and bacon. House is still sleeping, so Wilson slips quietly out of the room, leaving the door ajar so they’ll hear him if he calls.
He heads toward the wonderful smells, and finds Cuddy in the kitchen, mixing up pancake batter—and humming. She’s dressed in clean clothing—Wilson tries to remember if he’s ever seen her in jeans before—and must have also taken a shower; her hair is in damp ringlets around her face.
“How can you possibly look that good on no sleep?” he asks her, smiling. He himself actually feels more rested than he’s felt since the first night home.
She smiles back. “By my calculations, I managed to get almost four hours; that’s more than you’ve been getting some nights. Oh, and that reminds me--” She retrieves an amber pill bottle from her purse. It has Wilson’s name on the label. “These are the 1mg Ativan I brought that first night. Next trip over, I’ll bring some 0.5 tabs, but in the meantime you can halve one of these and get started.”
Wilson makes a face at her, groans and takes the bottle. “I was hoping you’d forget about that. I’ll do it later; I just got up, I feel plenty rested.”
Cuddy fixes him with a no-nonsense glare as her hands inevitably find their way to her hips. She stares him down until, finally, he sighs in resignation, uncaps the bottle and fishes out a pill.
Wilson cuts the pill in half and tosses the unneeded portion back into the bottle. He puts the other half in his mouth, cups his hand under the faucet, and swallows the pill, gulping water from his hand. Then he rolls his eyes at Cuddy. “Happy now?”
Cuddy’s been watching the whole thing with interest. Now she asks, “Aren’t either of you capable of swallowing pills in the traditional way? You know, a cup, eight ounces of water, that whole thing.”
“Real men swallow ‘em dry,” House says, entering on his cane. The IV pole is providing support on his left side; he appears to be walking well. “Ibuprofen? Wrist still hurting?”
A quick glance to his left shows Wilson that Cuddy’s leaning against the counter where he’d left the bottle of lorazepam; it’s not in view. He doesn’t answer House’s first question. “Just a little achy today; it’s doing fine. Uh… where’s your chair?”
“It’s not my chair, and I suppose it’s wherever you two left it last night when you conspired to make me eat my supper in bed.”
“It’s in the living room,” Cuddy says. “Why don’t you gentlemen go on in there, and I’ll get breakfast together.”
Wilson watches House execute the turn without difficulty, watches his gait as he follows him to the living room. “You’re doing pretty well, there. How’s the left leg feeling?”
“It was starting to tighten up; think that’s what woke me. Thought I’d try and walk it out,” House says as he lowers himself to the couch.
Wilson’s aghast. “You thought it might spasm and you got up by yourself anyway? Damn it, House! We thought you were sleeping. What if it had spasmed?” Wilson doesn’t know if he’s angry, or scared. He does know he’s upset; he’s pacing and shouting and gesturing. “Don’t ever do that again! What the hell were you thinking?”
Wilson’s aware that he’s overreacting, and some part of him is already sorry. But he can’t stop himself. “If you’d fallen, we might not have known. You enjoying this, buddy? A little game for you? ‘Let’s see what I can do today to freak ‘em out!’ That it?” He glares at House. “I said, is that it?” His tone is demanding.
When House doesn’t answer, Wilson really takes a good look at his face; he’s immediately ashamed of himself and his uncontrolled outburst. House doesn’t look angry, or hurt, nor even defensive; he just looks sad, even… concerned. What’s the matter with me? Wilson thinks. I blew up at Cuddy yesterday, and now House.
Wilson turns away from House’s sadness—and finds himself looking straight at Cuddy. Apparently, she’d heard the commotion, and come out to check. And now, she’s looking at him with the same mixture of concern and sadness that he sees in House’s face; she’s clearly heard most—if not all—of his tirade. Wilson looks from Cuddy to House, and he makes a decision; he hopes it’s the right one.
“Uh… gimme a minute. Please?” he says to both of them. They nod, wordlessly, and he goes into the kitchen. As soon as he’s out of the room, he can hear them resume speaking. Their voices are low and worried—and he doesn’t blame them.
When Wilson returns, they immediately stop talking and turn to him. Cuddy’s surprised to see that he’s holding the Ativan bottle. House merely looks curious. Wilson takes a deep breath, says to Cuddy, “You were right.” He indicates the bottle he’s holding. “I apologize; shouldn’t have doubted you. That first one’s starting to kick in; gotta admit, it’s a little easier to think now. Uhh… thanks for knowing what I needed when I… uh… didn’t.”
Cuddy regards him kindly. “Not a problem. Believe it or not, I really do understand. I just want to help.” Her tone is warm, forgiving—accepting.
That was easier than I thought, Wilson thinks. But I haven’t hurt her the way I’ve hurt House. I owe him so much more than just an apology. And I can’t blame ‘im if he doesn’t understand, doesn’t want to forgive me. Now he turns to House.
“Need to talk to you, too, if you’re willing to hear me out,” Wilson says to him.
Cuddy says, “I’m gonna get back to fixing breakfast—which is gonna be lunch if we don’t get to it soon.”
“No, you can stay,” Wilson says to her. “It’s a… family matter. You have every right to be here.”
Cuddy shakes her head. “This is between the two of you. You can handle it,” she says, smiling reassuringly at Wilson. “And you know where I am if you need me.” And she leaves the two men to face each other.
Wilson walks over to the couch and hands the pill bottle to House, who studies the label a moment before handing it back.
“No snide comments?” Wilson asks. He realizes that he’s nervous about this talk; he’s tossing the bottle hand to hand, and he’s not meeting House’s eyes. He sighs and sets the bottle down, tries to look at House.
“Sit down,” House directs, then waits patiently for Wilson to comply. Finally, Wilson sits uncomfortably on the edge of the couch and turns to face his friend.
“First this,” he says, indicating the medication. “That nightmare I had last night. I called Dickinson, and he and Cuddy decided it would be a good idea, for a while. I… uh… disagreed. And then Cuddy threatened to tell you that I’m not handling all this well, and I… felt… trapped. She knew I’d have to agree; wouldn’t risk upsetting you. And even though I knew she was right, I didn’t like being… coerced. Realized afterwards, that’s what I’ve been doing to you all along. Like the morphine last night; it wasn’t fair.” Now he looks House in the eye. “I’m sorry. I was wrong to do that to you.”
House studies him thoughtfully before responding. “Was Cuddy wrong to do it to you?”
“No. Wouldnt’ve… cooperated… any other way, I’m afraid.” Wilson looks down, ruefully.
“Yet now you’re telling me about it. So you’ve either gotten over your fear of upsetting me, or you’ve decided I can handle it. Which?”
“I don’t really know,” Wilson answers earnestly. “Guess I’m still afraid it’ll upset you, but… I’ve decided it’s not right to just expect you to trust me blindly, and not be willing to do the same for you. So I’m gonna have to believe that you’ll still believe I’m capable of caring for you, and making the right decisions about your treatment.”
House carefully props both legs up on the coffee table and leans back on the couch, pillowing his head on his interlaced fingers. “Last night? My nightmare? It was a rerun. Been seein’ it a lot, lately. You tell me I’ve got my identity wrapped up in the leg, the pain. That I’ve redefined everything. You keep hammering away about that. By the end of it, I’m ready to punch you out. Always wake up before I hit you, though.” House sighs. “Last night, just barely made it,” he tells the ceiling.
“At least yours is understandable,” Wilson says. “You had to work pretty hard to convince me about the pain; stands to reason you’d still have some doubts. I do believe you, though. Just sorry it took me so long, sorry there’s still some question in your mind.”
“Gettin’ over it. Want to get over it. Can’t trust you, who can I trust?” House has asked this question of a particularly fascinating spot on the ceiling; Wilson understands.
“Anyway,” he says to House, “I’m, uh… not ready to tell you about the rest of my little experience with the night demons yet. I know that’s not fair, but… well, I still haven’t processed it myself. When I am ready, I’ll let you know, okay?”
House nods, and Wilson thinks for a moment that he’s going to leave it alone. But then House says, “Must’ve been pretty bad if it made you call the shrink,” and Wilson can hear the fascinated curiosity in the statement.
“It was… a frightening experience. Upsetting,” he says honestly. “And I… I’m asking you to respect that I can’t go into it, not just yet. But… part of it was… feeling like I was the only one available to help you, to… save you. That’s not true, I know, but… well, Cuddy and Dickinson think I’ve, uh… been putting too much pressure on myself, think I could use a little chemical help for a while.”
“They’re right,” House says, without hesitation. Now he looks at Wilson. “Trust your doctors. Don’t give ‘em a rough time. Just makes it harder on ‘em. Look what I’ve done to my doctor,” he says, a small smile on his face as he indicates the tranquilizers.
“And one more thing about those pills,” House continues; now his tone is serious. “You be careful with ‘em; they’re addictive, ya know. ‘Specially if you’re just takin’ them for fun.”
Wilson turns to stare, open-mouthed, at House—and then he sees the wry smile, and the mischievous twinkle in his eye, and the forgiveness. And Wilson smiles back, and nods in acknowledgement of the treacherous waters they’ve just crossed together.
Cuddy picks this moment to enter with the breakfast tray, and looking at the smile on her face—relieved and triumphant—both men know that her uncanny timing is no coincidence, as the three of them dig into their delayed breakfast. And even the arrival of the lab courier, the resulting hurried blood draw, and House’s complaints about the lack of macadamia nuts in his pancakes, are all forgotten about as they simply enjoy each other’s company.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Chances
When they’ve almost finished their breakfast, Cuddy sets down her plate. “Today is Sunday,” she announces. “So this evening, I’ll be receiving a call from House, letting me know that Wilson’s come down with the ‘flu, and he needs IV hydration, so he’s staying here. We’ll give it to you first,” she says, turning to Wilson, “so that when you guys return to work, House’ll have just gotten over it. That’ll explain the weight loss, and any lack of energy, or whatnot.”
“There’s a flaw in your plan,” House asserts. “A little ‘flu won’t keep Cameron and her version of chicken soup away from here.”
Cuddy smiles. “Oh yeah, it will. After I point out that you both got your ‘flu shots, and appear to be suffering from the hybrid version, and issue orders that no one’s to come within a mile of here, they’ll get the message. I’m even planning to tell ‘em that if you weren’t both doctors, Wilson would have to be hospitalized. And then, as he makes his recovery, it’ll be your turn. We can make yours even more dramatic. What with the hydrocodone suppressing your cough reflex, you’re at high risk for influenza pneumonia. That could buy us a few extra days, if we need ‘em.” It’s clear that Cuddy’s quite pleased with her plan.
Wilson is impressed. “That’s perfect! The hybrid version’s been taking people outta the game for a good two weeks, and some of ‘em are winding up having to be hospitalized. We’re gonna be able to carry this off; good going.”
The only one of the three who doesn’t appear enthusiastic about the deception is House. As a matter of fact, he seems downright glum. Wilson and Cuddy exchange a look, and finally Cuddy asks, “Find another flaw?”
House doesn’t answer right away. When he does speak, he doesn’t make eye contact with either of them. “Didn’t hear anything in there about how we’re gonna explain away the left leg. Kinda hard to hide a wheelchair when you’re sittin’ in it.”
Wilson regards him with surprise. “We’ll have a diagnosis on that in a day or two, and we’ll treat it. Won’t even be an issue by the time we go back; you know that.”
“I don’t know that, and neither do you. None of the preliminary results found anything. Not likely the final results’ll show anything different.”
Wilson and Cuddy can tell immediately that House has been giving this a lot of thought, and that—while he’d never admit it—he’s worried. So Cuddy gentles her voice, and approaches it from the ‘compassionate doctor’ angle. “If the final results don’t show anything, that’s good news, you know. A minor injury. Long gone by the time you return to work. Sometimes, these things happen. Nothing ever shows up in the tests, but the symptoms are severe. And then it clears up as mysteriously as it came. We don’t know why; we don’t have all the answers. It just… happens.”
House looks angry now. “Forgive me if I don’t get any reassurance from that canned ‘relax and trust us’ speech. Last time I bought into that garbage, I walked outta there with a third leg. Almost didn’t walk out at all.” He slams the tip of the cane down for emphasis, and Cuddy winces at the sound—and the memory. She looks helplessly at Wilson.
Wilson’s doing some fast thinking; he’s actually relieved that this is happening. House has been far too accepting of everything that’s gone wrong the past several days, and this is the first time he’s shown a real inclination to fight back. Wilson is also remembering what Dick had said; that House would lash out, that he sees Wilson as a secure sounding board, that Wilson needs to be there for him when it happens. Wilson’s trying to think of the right thing to say when he notices that House is now rubbing absently at his left thigh. Then the gesture becomes more focused, and House looks down at his leg.
“Could someone bring that chair over here?” House asks, but it sounds like a command. “I’d like to go to my room. Alone.”
Wilson decides to take a chance—a big one. Guess it’s time to find out if all this trust-building will pay off.
Cuddy’s already stood up to retrieve the wheelchair, and Wilson says quickly, “That’s all right; I’ll get it for him in a minute. Would you mind… uh… going to the newsstand for a Sunday paper?”
Cuddy catches on immediately. She grabs her purse and is out the door even before House has finished glaring at Wilson.
“What the hell was that about?” House all but snarls. “And I want the wheelchair. Now.” Wilson sees that now he’s rubbing at the leg in earnest, stopping only to grip the muscle in a futile attempt to break the growing spasms.
Wilson matter-of-factly gets up from the end of the couch and moves some of the pillows. “If you think you’d be more comfortable in bed, I’ll help you get there,” he says mildly. “But I don’t want you to be alone right now, so I’ll stay. Personally, I think you’d be better off right here. Why don’t you just go ahead and lie down, and we’ll talk? Maybe it won’t be so bad this time, but if it is, not a problem, really. I’ll get a syringe ready. If that’s okay.” The tone of his voice hasn’t changed, and when he’s finished speaking, he just stands there, calmly awaiting House’s response.
When House angrily attempts to stand and the leg collapses, Wilson doesn’t move, doesn’t indicate any concern or impatience. He’s simply waiting for House to respond. He doesn’t wait long.
“Don’t patronize me!” House yells at him, and Wilson can feel House’s frustration, his fury, building. He’s glowering at his left leg as if it’s betrayed him; when he transfers the look to Wilson, Wilson continues to regard him impassively.
Finally, finally, just as Wilson’s decided that there are still some walls that haven’t yet crumbled, that maybe House’s anger and distrust go deeper than even Wilson had suspected, House takes a deep, irregular breath, and lowers his head. When he lifts it, he meets Wilson’s eyes.
“I could use some help here,” House tells him quietly, dispassionately.
Wilson goes calmly to his side, gently helps him slide back on the couch, carefully, tenderly, lifts the traitorous legs and positions them as comfortably as he can. Then he sits on the edge of the couch beside his friend. Only then does he look at House’s face.
“I’m not patronizing you. I’m asking my patient’s permission to help him, medically. If he refuses, I’ll respect that, because I respect him. And then, I’ll ask my friend’s permission to help him, to support him in any other way that I can. Because I want to be here for him. As his physician, as his friend. I’ll be here, either way. Both ways. I’ll be here.” When he finishes speaking, he keeps his gaze locked with House’s.
House takes another deep, shaky breath; the spasm’s building, and speech is an effort now. But when he speaks, the words are sure. “Your patient trusts you to do what’s best for him. Your friend is….” House’s eyes close as the pain builds; the end of the sentence is an anguished whisper. “…glad you’re here.”
Before Wilson stands to prepare the medication, his hand finds House’s shoulder, his eyes find House’s eyes. “Me, too” is all he can manage with his voice, but that’s all right; his touch, and his eyes, convey all the rest. Now they know—they both know—that they’ll ride it out, whatever ‘it’ turns out to be, together.