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
Cuddy comes in at . She hands Wilson a cup of coffee and the latest bloodwork results. The coffee’s good; the lab results are not.
“I was hoping the dialysis would at least lower his potassium,” Wilson says as he studies the numbers.
“He’ll have a longer session later today; that’ll help. Some of those numbers are so out of whack that I’m surprised he’s doing as well as he is; wouldn’t even expect most patients to be lucid.”
“I’m not sure he is,” Wilson tells her. “He’s in and out. Had a strange conversation about the prednisone after the dialysis team left; all he seemed to care about was that I knew. He’s awakened a couple times since then. First time he reminded me that it’s my turn to buy the beer and rent the movie tonight; do you know how long it’s been since we actually did that? And the second time, he told me I looked like hell, and that recent studies indicate that having to look at worried people hovering at your bedside increases recovery time.” Wilson smiles.
Cuddy smiles too. “That’s our House—a true diplomat. But he’s right; you do look exhausted. I think that—”
“Give it up,” Wilson interrupts. “I’m not leaving.”
Cuddy smiles again. “Exhausted and cranky! What I was going to say was, I think I’ll call Housekeeping, get a cot brought up from Peds. Figure it’s easier to bring in another bed than it would be to convince you to go find a couch.”
“You’re right, and… I’m sorry I snapped. Thanks. For the coffee, and the cot, and… just, thanks.”
“Hey,” Cuddy says gently, “I understand.” And he knows she does.
There’s a sound from the bed, and they turn to look at House; his eyes are open, and he’s looking at the paper in Wilson’s hand. “Those the labs? Lemme see,” he croaks out. But in the short time it takes Wilson to cross over to the bed, he’s gone back to sleep.
Wilson looks at Cuddy. “I don’t like his respiratory rate. It’s above 30, even when he’s sleeping. And he’s got fluid in his lungs.”
“I know. I’ll increase the Lasix, see if that helps. I’m also thinking of calling Chase in; bring him up to speed, get his opinion on the meds.”
Wilson nods. “Good idea. If we don’t start seeing some improvement soon, House is gonna wind up in ICU anyway; might as well have an intensivist on the case.”
“I’ll go call him then, and I’ll have the cot sent up. I’m not putting it in here just to crowd the room with more furniture, by the way. I expect you to use it.”
Wilson smiles tiredly. “I will. Eventually. Until he’s stable, though, I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much.” As if to make the point, he drains the last of his coffee.
“Yeah. About that. I’ve also arranged for the kitchen to send up your meals. Breakfast should be here soon. I hear it comes with coffee.” Cuddy gives his arm a squeeze, and leaves the room before he can even try—again—to express his gratitude.
Before sitting back down, Wilson adjusts House’s pillows; he’s been so restless that they’re in a tangle now. The movement causes House to awaken. He focuses slowly on Wilson’s face. “Kinda thirsty,” he says. He runs a cracked tongue over dry, swollen lips.
“Yeah, I know. But you’re not putting out much. Let’s try a few ice chips, okay?”
House nods, and reaches out his left hand to attempt to take the spoon. Wilson sees the uncontrollable tremor, and quickly catches the hand with his own, lowers it back to the bed as he spoons the chips into House’s mouth. But House, too, has noticed the tremor—and now he’s staring worriedly at his hand.
Wilson somehow manages to laugh. “Good thing you’re normally right-handed,” he tells House. “You’d give us lefties a bad name!” He’s ashamed of the relief he feels when House closes his eyes and drifts off again before they can discuss the worsening symptom.
A nurse comes in to get a set of vital signs and drain the urine bag. “How much?” he asks her.
She holds up the cup. “Less than 200cc,” she tells him.
He looks at his watch. “About 16cc an hour. Better than nothing, I guess.”
She smiles sympathetically. “If you need anything at all, Dr. Wilson, you just let me know. We’ve been trying to stay out of your way; Dr. Cuddy said you’d be seeing to most of Dr. House’s needs yourself, and she asked that we bother you as little as possible. But I didn’t want you to think we were neglecting him—or you. Just buzz if you want something, okay?”
“I appreciate it, Judy. We’re fine for right now, but if you could check on when my coffee might be arriving, that’d be a big help.”
Five minutes later, Judy returns carrying a large, steaming ceramic mug of fresh coffee. Wilson takes the cup gratefully. “This doesn’t look—or smell—like cafeteria issue,” he tells her, puzzled.
“Just made a fresh pot in the nurse’s lounge. And I figured you needed some serious caffeine; those styrofoam cups hold about two teaspoons!”
Wilson smiles his thanks at her, and she smiles back. “Just wish there were something I could do for Dr. House, too,” she tells him.
Surprised, Wilson asks, “You… uh… get along with House?”
Judy laughs. “Oh no, not at all! The man’s an ogre. But I’ll never forget what he did for that kid, Jesse—you know, that leukemia patient of yours. Must’ve taken him hours.”
“Oh yes, Jesse Beele. I remember… House consulted on a stubborn infection we couldn’t shake. But you’ll have to refresh my memory; it’s been a while.” Wilson hopes that Judy hasn’t guessed that he hasn’t any idea what House had done for the kid.
“Good heavens; I’d have thought that a kindness that big—especially coming from Dr. House—would be something you’d remember!”
Wilson just smiles vaguely, as if he’s trying to recall, and Judy continues.
“Dr. House asked me why Jesse was always crying, so I explained how his folks lived so far away, and they couldn’t miss any more work without losing their jobs, and they had all those other kids to worry about. So then he said, ‘So why the hell don’t you distract the sniveling brat?’” Judy and Wilson both laugh. House moans and turns his head at the sound, and she lowers her voice.
“I told him that the only thing that made Jesse happy was country music, and we couldn’t keep it on because Jesse’s roommate, that kid in traction, hated it, and screamed every time we turned on the radio. So then Dr. House muttered something about ‘Pediatrics, God’s Own special Hell on Earth,’ and he stalked off. The next night, he came down to Peds and tossed an iPod at me, said someone had left it in the lobby. Told me to give it to Jesse, said it might buy me a few minutes of peace and quiet. I checked the playlists; it was all country music. Over three hundred songs on that thing!”
Judy leans forward and whispers, “I was gonna let Jesse use it for the night, take it to Lost and Found in the morning. Couldn’t figure out why he hadn’t turned it in. Turns out, wasn’t lost at all. Guess he forgot about the GH engraved on the back.”
Wilson stares at her. “Thanks, Judy. That had slipped my mind. Thank you very much for the reminder.”
Judy looks one more time at House; Wilson sees real compassion in her eyes. She shakes her head sadly, repeats “Please, let me know if I can help,” and then House and Wilson are alone again.
Wilson stands smiling down at his friend. “You are so busted, House,” he whispers affectionately. “Lost your iPod, huh? Tossed it out the window at screeching cats, huh? Glad I spared you the carelessness lecture—for a change. Glad I got you a new one for your birthday. Really glad Judy has a big mouth.”
Wilson wonders what House’s reaction would be if he knew how many people were pulling for him, how many lives he’s touched in a positive way. He imagines House’s scowl at the news, hears the sarcastic putdown—and sees the disbelieving vulnerability in the expressive blue eyes. Wilson leans down, whispers even more quietly, “It’s okay, House; your secret’s safe with me. All your secrets are safe… with me.”