Summary: Wilson is given an unexpected opportunity to prove his friendship to House. This story is my own attempt to make sense of the unsettling disruption of the House-Wilson dynamic in Season 3, so mention is made of many of the S3 plotlines and character development. House-Wilson-Cuddy angst, hurt/comfort, introspection--my usual gig. ;) x-posted Rating: PG
A/N: Wow. The response to chapter five was... frightening! All that hostility reflected at poor, sweet Wilson. And all those overwhelming pleas to 'fix' it! So, in answer, I present to you unadulterated fluff... errr, I mean
CHAPTER SIX: GOOD NIGHT
Wilson opens his eyes and stares at the ceiling. Again. Not even any tiles to count in this damned hotel. He turns over, struggling against the tangle of the sheets—testament to his restless night. His eyes focus on the clock. ; not possible, been lying here at least half the night. He closes his eyes and tries not to think.
Five minutes later, when his cell phone rings, his eyes fly open as his weary brain tries to place the jarring sound. He grabs for the phone, sees the lighted caller ID display. House. Wilson pushes the talk button. “Yeah, House, what is it?” He hopes his voice sounds sleep-heavy and annoyed; that’s the tone he’s trying for, anyway.
“Did I wake you? Figured you’d be up worrying yourself silly over my boo-boo; I’m disappointed,” House drawls.
“Sorry to hear that,” Wilson says. “Personally, I’m thrilled to be awakened at in the morning so we can have a conversation about my sleep habits.” Or lack thereof.
“Actually, I had a reason for calling. See, I’m watching this movie—and who’d have thought singing bears could be boring, by the way—and it’s at a commercial, so thought I’d let you know the dressing’s soaked through on my hand, just in case you wanted to stop by in the morning and change it or something, but if you want me to wait for the nurse—”
“House, shut up! Don’t you ever take a breath? Soaked through? With what?”
“Well, it’s red. And sticky. I’m guessing it’s blood.”
“It shouldn’t be actively bleeding at this point.”
“I’ll let it know; I’m sure that once it hears your professional opinion, it’ll stop immediately. G’night.”
“House, wait! Don’t hang up. Listen, elevate your hand, wrap it in a towel or something. I’ll be right there, okay?” Wilson is already standing, turning on lights, searching frantically for clothing.
“If you’re sure it’s not a bother. Wouldn’t wanna disturb your sleep or anything.”
“Yeah; got it. You’re all about my welfare; I’ll make a note. On my way.”
Wilson dresses hurriedly, and makes a quick stop at the hospital to pick up a suture kit and wound-care supplies—no telling what House has done this time. Wilson’s too experienced to ask—at least not over the phone.
When he arrives at the apartment, he decides to forego any formalities; he uses his key and lets himself in. House is lying on the couch in the living room. He’s got his right hand propped up on a couple of pillows, and Wilson can see, even in the dim light, that the blood’s already coming through the towel. Wilson reaches instinctively for the injured hand.
“Gloves!” House barks harshly, pulling his hand out of Wilson’s reach; the quick movement elicits a sharp wince. “MRSA, you idiot,” House says more quietly as he gingerly repositions his hand on the pillows.
“Thanks; wasn’t thinking.” Wilson gloves up and unwraps the soiled dressings, placing them in the biohazard bag. The bleeding’s slowed, so Wilson takes his time examining the suture line. “You tore a couple of stitches,” he tells House.
House lets his mouth drop open, pretends to be shocked at the news. “Nah! Ya think?”
Wilson ignores the sarcasm. He’s just noticed that there aren’t any dirty plates on the coffee table—just a half empty bottle of ginger ale. “What’d you do about dinner?” he asks idly.
“See, that’s the thing about Vicodin—perfect appetite suppressant. Drug reps should really mention that; they’re missing out on a huge segment of the market!” House grins.
“Want something to eat now?” Damn it, House; if you’re infected, your body’s gonna be burning calories like wildfire! Not like you can afford to lose any weight, either.
“Roller coaster in my stomach says no; thanks just the same.”
Wilson sighs. “Wanna tell me what happened?” he asks as he readies the suture kit.
“Damned thing was throbbing. Figured some ibuprofen wouldn’t hurt; you know, that whole synergistic effect thingy they told us about in med school? So I get the bottle, only then there’s the entire childproof cap issue to deal with. Have you ever met anyone who could ‘push’ and ‘turn’ and ‘squeeze’ all at the same time? I haven’t… well, maybe a couple of three year olds, but then that defeats the whole purpose of childproof, don’t you think?”
Wilson steals a sidelong glance at the bottle of Vicodin on the side table. Definitely more than a few pills lighter than it was when I left. Explains the good mood. And the babbling. “House. Focus. The hand,” Wilson says patiently.
“Oh yeah. Anyway, so there I was, going through all these digital gymnastics with my non-dominant hand, and my right hand just automatically says lemme show ya how it’s done, and the next thing I know, the bottle’s open! And my hand is bleeding. Case of taking the good with the bad, I guess. Or is it the bad with the good? I’m always getting that proverb confused. Or is it a moral? ‘Cuz I’m not real clear on that, either.”
“The only thing I’m clear on right now is that I’m sorry I asked. Really sorry. Let’s just get this done.”
Wilson cleans the wound. As careful as he is, he can tell that it’s still quite painful for House; he’s supporting House’s hand with his own, and he can feel the muscles, the tendons tightening with each touch. House refuses the numbing agent; Wilson nods agreeably at him and injects the lidocaine anyway. He successfully ignores House’s dirty look, and commences the suturing. This is the first opportunity he’s had to see how severe the injury really is, and he finds himself thinking that even if there’s no contamination, House is in for a rough ride. He knots and clips the final stitch and begins to rebandage the hand. As he reaches the index finger, House gasps and involuntarily yanks his hand back. Wilson looks up in surprise, then remembers that Cuddy had mentioned possible nerve damage.
“Damn, that hurt!” House says through clenched teeth. “Guess that answers any lingering doubts about nicking a nerve.” He tries to smirk, to make light of it, but finds himself dropping the smile as he looks into Wilson’s sympathetic eyes. “It’s okay now; I’m fine,” he says shortly, and looks away.
Wilson gently finishes the bandaging and stands wearily, pushing his hands into his aching lower back. “Unless you need anything else, guess I’ll clean this up and be going.”
House watches Wilson straighten the supplies. “You can stay,” he says abruptly. “Happen to have an unoccupied couch. Or… it will be, once I get done occupying it. Only people out this time of night are drunks and docs. The latter usually ‘cuz of the former. We patch up their victims and then we patch them up so they can go out and send us more victims—it’s this big circle. You ever think about that? Now there’s a true synergistic relationship. Or is it symbiotic? I think it’s symbiotic. Anyway. We keep them in business so they can keep us in bus—”
“House. I get it. I’ll stay.” Wilson can’t help himself; despite the grim nature of House’s ramblings, he’s laughing. God, I’ve missed this. House is still… House.
“And meant to tell ya, you did a lousy job with the stitches; scar for sure.”
“I failed sewing class in Home Ec; so sue me. Or call a surgeon next time; I hear they live for house calls. Pardon the pun.”
“And you’re such an open book that you need all the mystique you can get, right?”
“That’s me,” House agrees happily. “You get what ya see!”
Wilson mentally rolls his eyes; he’s too tired to be baited into that particular infinite loop. He allows the ludicrous statement to go unchallenged; his only goal now is to see to it that House is comfortable—and safe. Like he’s ever really safe; he’s his own biggest hazard!
He helps House to bed, makes sure his hand is elevated and that the Vicodin’s within easy reach. As Wilson’s getting himself settled on the couch, House calls out from the bedroom.
“Hey, Jimmy, I never finished telling you about the ibuprofen! So I get the cap off, and turns out it’s a new bottle. And you know that hermetically sealed foil thing?”
“Shut up, House. Go to sleep,” Wilson shouts. He’s smiling as he buries his head into the ratty, familiar old pillow and falls immediately to sleep.