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
As Wilson returns to House’s room, he hears House yelling before he sees him. “And I’m telling you, you only need to go with the venous catheter! We’re not looking at years of dialysis here—maybe three weeks. Only reason the vanc caused renal failure is I’ve been taking—” House has seen Wilson; he clamps his mouth shut.
It’s now or never. First chance to let him know that I’m here for him—really here this time. Wilson strides into the room, says authoritatively, “Patient’s been on corticosteroids for acute shoulder pain for fifty eight days. Came off ‘em as soon as he recognized he was going into renal shutdown. His baseline’s always a little out of whack because he’s also a chronic pain patient, for which I prescribe opioids. As soon as the effects of the vancomycin on his kidneys wear off, he should begin to return to baseline. Do as he says.”
“But Dr. Wilson, there’s nothing in his records about steroid administration, and we were told--”
“I don’t care what you were told. It was Dr. House’s option to seek private medical treatment, away from this hospital, and he chose to exercise that option. This conversation is over. The patient needs kidney dialysis, and he needs it now. Do your job.”
Throughout Wilson’s speech, he hasn’t dared look at House. Now, he walks to the bedside. House’s breathing is too fast; his eyes are only partially open, and they’re not quite focused. It’s evident that he’s still feverish, and that the toxins in his system are quickly accumulating. The argument with the dialysis team was apparently too much for him. He tries to focus on Wilson, to say something.
“Shut up, House; we’ll talk later. Now just lie there quietly and let these nice people get you hooked up.” He stands there until House closes his eyes, then moves away so the dialysis team can get to work.
“If you’ll just step out for a few minutes, Dr. Wilson, we’ll get this done as quickly as we can.”
House’s eyes fly open, and the rate on the cardiac monitor jumps up.
“No. I’ll be staying,” Wilson says quickly, firmly. “Any problems with that, take it up with Dr. Cuddy.” House closes his eyes; Wilson sees his heart rate settle down.
The team sees it too, and no one offers any further argument. They’d gotten off to a shaky start with House, but Wilson knows they’re the best in the business, and that House’s well-being really is their main concern.
House doesn’t even wince when the venous catheter is inserted into his jugular vein by the radiologist, stays absolutely still as placement is checked. Wilson isn’t certain that House is fully aware that the minor surgical procedure is over; he hasn’t given any indication that he’s even conscious. But once the actual dialysis has been started, House opens his eyes and pretends to listen as one of the team slowly explains to him that this first session will be only an hour, to ascertain that he can tolerate the dialysis, and so as not to cause a drastic fluctuation in his blood pressure. He nods politely as the ‘patient education’ continues, and the tech tells him that he’ll be hooked up to the machine for about four hours every day for a while, and that as the retained fluid decreases, it’ll be four hours every three days or so. Then he thanks the woman for her explanation.
That’s when Wilson realizes how very ill House is. Of course House knows everything he’s just been ‘educated’ about, and a hell of a lot more. And a normal House wouldn’t have listened patiently to the simplistic spiel; he’d have made some cutting remark at the start, probably sent the girl from the room in tears.
House sleeps through the dialysis session, but he isn’t peaceful. Wilson listens as he moans low in his throat, watches as his head tosses restlessly against the pillows. He manages to buy House some real comfort at one point when he gently places a cool washcloth on his forehead, but it doesn’t last long. A sharp hitch in House’s breathing draws Wilson’s attention, and he sees House pull his right leg up. Under the thin sheet, Wilson can see the ruined quadriceps muscle in House’s thigh contracting—the cluster of spasms ripples the sheet like a pulse, gently, rhythmically. When House allows the leg to relax again, Wilson moves the sheet aside and places a pillow under his knee. He hopes it might help; he knows it won’t.
At the end of the hour, just over a liter of fluid has been removed from House’s body. Once the equipment’s been moved away, Wilson listens to his lungs; he’s becoming concerned about House’s rapid respiratory rate. Although the high fever offers partial explanation, Wilson is worried about fluid in his lungs. He hears rales in the bases of both lungs; this confirms his suspicion.
House awakens as Wilson is concluding his assessment. There’s a brief look of confusion on his face, but he takes in his surroundings and relaxes again. “You knew,” he says to Wilson.
Wilson understands immediately. “About the prednisone? No. Just found out, when I was packing your stuff. House, I’m so sorry. For everything.”
House smiles as his eyes close again. “You knew,” he repeats. “’S okay, then… you knew.” This seems to bring House some sort of comfort, so Wilson goes with it.
“Yeah; it’s okay. I know about the prednisone now, and it’s okay. We’ll handle it; not a problem.” Before Wilson finishes speaking, House, still smiling, has drifted off again. Wilson wonders why it seems so important to House that Wilson is aware of the prednisone.
Was he afraid I’d be angry? Wouldn’t believe him? Or did it bother him that much that something had changed and I didn’t know about it? Maybe… he’s just relieved that I didn’t use his shoulder pain as a weapon against him. This time.
“Don’t worry about it,” Wilson whispers to his sleeping friend. “Don’t worry about anything. I get it now; I understand. Done with all that crazy dancing, all those missed steps. Gonna get you well; gonna get us back in sync. That’s a promise.”
Wilson sinks into the bedside chair, studies the monitors and sees that—for right now—everything’s stable. But he doesn’t allow himself to relax. Meant everything I just said, House; you don’t worry about anything. This whole stupid months-long dance? My turn to lead, and I’m gonna do it right. Because a misstep could be fatal.
It’s in the morning; outside the window, it’s dark and peaceful. House seems comfortable for the moment. Wilson stretches and shakes off his fatigue; he’s made a very big promise—and he intends to keep it.