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
In the morning, Wilson awakens before House does; a quick glance into the bedroom ascertains that House is sleeping comfortably and the bandaged hand remains elevated.
Wilson starts the coffee, then rummages around for something that might pass as breakfast. He comes up with half a loaf of stale bread and two eggs. French toast it is. He digs out the electric griddle from beneath a couple of dirty pots on the drainboard, washes it, and sets to work.
When House enters the kitchen, sniffing the cinnamon-scented air appreciatively, Wilson observes, “Your timing’s uncanny. Amazing how you can sleep soundly through the cooking part, yet make your entrance coincide so neatly with the eating part.” He puts a plate and a cup of coffee in front of House.
“Not like I’d have been much help,” House says, indicating the injured hand. “Mmm… this is good. Home health aide gonna be able to cook?”
“That’s what she does, House. Hence the phrase ‘assistance with activities of daily living.’ She’ll get your meals, clean the apartment, even do the wash. And she’ll get an occasional set of vitals and make sure you don’t injure yourself further by doing anything stupid.”
House is insulted. “Stupid? Me? What could I possibly do?”
“For starters, you could, oh… say… try to open a childproof cap? I know you, and trust me—the possibilities for danger boggle the mind.”
“Hmmph.” House suddenly develops great interest in the remainder of his breakfast.
Wilson finishes his coffee. “Gotta get to work. Need anything before I leave?”
“What’s your rush? Who’s gonna refill my coffee, get the plates to the sink?”
Are you actually asking me to stay? “I guess I could use a second cup myself.” Wilson refills both cups and sits down at the table. “You know,” he says slowly, “I could still put in a call to Altman, and cancel the agency. If you want.”
“Could be fun,” House says thoughtfully. ”If you don’t hover or anything.”
Wilson knows he has to play this carefully. “For crying out loud, House, you hurt your hand; not like it’s your first day home after a heart transplant!”
House pretends to consider it. “Okay then. Yeah.”
Wilson hesitates. “And maybe… this’ll give us some time to get a couple of things straightened out. Been wanting to tell you—”
House cuts him off. “You know what, think we’d better leave things alone; be rude to cancel the agency on such short notice.” He reaches for his cane, stands, and exits the kitchen.
“Since when did you ever care about rude?” Wilson asks the empty kitchen as he straightens up. What’s with him? Months ago, he claims nothing’s changed—but everything’s changed. Then last night feels like old times, and now he clams up again. One step forward, then two back. At this rate, we’ll never get anything resolved; not even sure he wants to anymore. Wilson finishes cleaning the kitchen, then grabs his keys and heads through the living room to the door.
House flicks his eyes towards Wilson, then back to the TV. “Catch ya later,” he says.
“Yeah.” Wilson doesn’t even pause on his way out.
House leans his head against the back of the couch and sighs. What do you want from me? We gonna rehash the scrip pad again? Rehab? Or maybe just have another go at how I’m depleting New Jersey’s Vicodin supply? Can’t we give it a rest? I know I pushed it! I know it broke! I’m sorry, okay? Just in case you’re interested, this… this… thing… hasn’t been working so hot for me either!
House, frustrated, lifts his head and begins to slam his right hand into the couch pillows. He stops the motion in midair, stares thoughtfully at the hand—and he hears Cuddy’s voice. You’ll have blown your chance… blown his chance… nothing will have changed….
“Shut up, Cuddy,” he says aloud—but there’s a contemplative gleam in his eye, and a slow grin sneaking its way across his face.
Wilson hangs up the phone and looks at his watch. ; agency didn’t even last four hours. Now what are we gonna do? He stands and squares his shoulders; he needs to go tell Cuddy, and he’s not looking forward to it.
Before he can leave his office, the phone rings again; it’s the lab. He listens intently and thanks the caller. “Damn!” he says as he hangs up the phone. This changes everything; hope Cuddy has some ideas.
Cuddy has plenty of ideas.
Wilson can hear House shouting even before he opens the apartment door, and he hasn’t taken more than a couple of steps inside when he’s accosted by the aide.
“I’ve taken care of better-behaved four-year-olds!” she tells him. “More polite, too!” She puts her hands on her hips and glares at Wilson as if he, himself, is responsible for House’s behavior.
“I’m terribly sorry, Sara. He’s… in a lot of pain, and sometimes it affects his mood. I’m sure he didn’t mean to--”
“Oh, he meant everything he said and did, Dr. Wilson! I tried, I really did—but for your sake, not for his. You’re one of the nicest doctors at the hospital; I’ve had a lot of clients tell me you’re an angel. I tell ‘em they’re right; you are. I’ll never forget how good you were to my mom. So I tried, but I’m sorry—it’s just not gonna work out. And how an angel like you can be friends with a devil like him, I’ll never know.”
“Sometimes I don’t know either,” Wilson says, tight-lipped. He apologizes again, and is seeing her to the door when he realizes that House is still yelling. “Is there someone in the bedroom with him, or is he just finishing out his temper tantrum?” he asks. He’s afraid he knows the answer.
“It’s the nurse. The poor nurse,” Sara tells him. She shakes her head at him and leaves.
Wilson’s shouting a last apology after her when he hears what can only be a slamming door. He puts his head in his hands. Seconds later, he’s accosted by another angry female voice. “What am I doing here?” the voice demands.
Wilson dredges up his most charming smile and turns around. “Uh… taking care of the patient?” he ventures.
“That is not a patient!” she spits. “That is a nightmare.”
Wilson closes his eyes against a looming headache. Remembering to keep the smile firmly fixed, he says soothingly, “It can’t be that bad, Lissa. You’re one of the best nurses the agency has; you were able to handle Mr. Thornton when no one else could! And compared to him--”
Lissa isn’t buying. “Compared to him,” she interrupts, gesturing angrily in the direction of House’s room, “Mr. Thornton was a lamb.”
Wilson drops the smile. “Yes. Well. Be that as it may, Dr. House is still your patient, and you have a responsibility to him.”
Her eyes narrow. “I was attempting to carry out my responsibility to him when he went ballistic. First, he refused to allow me to do wound care; said you did it early this morning. Told me if I was any kind of a nurse, I’d know it had to be done only once every twenty-four hours. Accused me of trying to cause him extra pain!”
“Well, that was just a little misunderstanding. I did do the wound care; I should’ve notified the agency. My fault; forgive me?” This time Wilson goes for the smile he’s overheard some of the nurses refer to as ‘boyishly irresistible.’
Lissa’s able to resist it just fine. “Oh, that isn’t all. They paged me on the way over here, told me to start a heparin lock, get the vancomycin going. So I tried to do that. When I told him the initial cultures were positive for MRSA and we needed to put in the heplock, he said I had all the sensitivity of a rampaging rhinoceros, and that no one was doing anything until he heard it from you. So now you can tell him, and you can start the heplock, and he’s all yours. And you’re welcome to him. Rampaging rhinoceros, indeed!” She storms out while Wilson is still trying to formulate a way to soothe her ruffled feathers.
Wilson takes a couple of minutes to put away the medical supplies he’s brought, and to try to work up a little sympathy for House before he enters the bedroom.
Surprisingly, it’s not all that hard to find sympathy for House. Probably wasn’t the best way for a specialist in infectious disease to learn that he’s looking at systemic MRSA. And he’s scared, and not about to admit it. Not to me—certainly not to some battle-axe nurse.
By the time Wilson arrives at the bedroom, he’s ready to put the game plan he and Cuddy came up with into action. He sends a quick prayer skyward, knocks twice, sharply, on the door, and enters the lion’s den.