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
CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: TAKING CHANCES
When Wilson returns to House’s cubicle, Chase hasn’t yet arrived. Cuddy, pale and anxious, is searching Wilson’s face as he walks toward her—so he quickly smiles, nods, tells her, “It’s okay.”
Cuddy is torn between hope and disbelief. “What happened? What did he say?”
Wilson leads her over to the cot; they sit, and he hands her a cup of coffee. “He said that in the last three years, he’s learned that even House can’t save everyone. He said he’s learned that sometimes doctors have to make the tough decisions. And then… then he said that he’d decided that he’d rather err on the side of life. He’s gonna give us a chance, give House a chance, to beat this thing! He’s setting up the new meds with the pharmacist now.”
“But what—I don’t understand! How did you change his mind?”
Wilson shakes his head; he isn’t sure either. “I just told him that if I were in his position, I didn’t know what I’d do. He thanked me for my honesty, told me to get back here, that House needs his family….”
Cuddy grabs for Wilson’s hand, and they sit there in silence, drawing strength and comfort from one another, for several minutes. Then Wilson stands and approaches the bedside.
“House, listen up. Bought us some more time. We’re not out of the woods yet, though—not by a long shot. So here’s the plan. I’m gonna work even harder on finding the answers. And I won’t let you down. All I need for you to do is to keep fighting. I know you’re tired; I know it’d be easy to give up. But you can’t. You won’t, because there’s a puzzle still on the table. And you’ve never, ever given up on a puzzle. Remember Ester? Twelve years, House. And you solved it. I’m not asking for twelve years; just a few days. Just keep fighting for a few more days.”
Cuddy joins Wilson, leans over the bedrail and says to House, “Wilson may be the only one you listen to—and you don’t even do that on a regular basis. But this is an order, House. Remember me? The boss? Your boss? I’m ordering you to stay with us. I just… won’t accept anything less. Got me?”
When Cuddy straightens up and looks at Wilson, there are tears in her eyes, but she’s smiling. She says sternly to Wilson, “This is one memo from Administration he’d damned well better not disregard. The no-lab-coat thing, I can live with. The no-House thing; not an option. And don’t think I’m unaware of who sees to it that he does follow the odd order, here and there. You just make sure he knows this one’s nonnegotiable.”
“Hear that, House?” Wilson moves to the other side of the bed. “You’re amazing; you don’t even have to be conscious to get me in trouble with Cuddy! You still owe me for that stunt you pulled with the home health care agency—don’t leave me holding the bag on this one, too.”
Cuddy cocks her head. “Think I should tell him that I recently heard that Hell consists of Clinic duty, 24/7? And that all the patients have some variant of the common cold?”
Wilson chuckles softly. “That should do it.”
In the doorway, Chase observes them as he gowns up. They’re silent now, content to stand on either side of the bed, just watching House continue to breathe, to live. It doesn’t seem to matter to either of them that a machine controls the breathing, or that other machines are controlling pretty much everything else. All that seems to matter is that House is still here, that he has a chance.
Chase sees the hope, and the love, in their faces, and the last bit of ambivalence he’d had about disregarding House’s wishes fades away. If you could see your friends now, House, even you would understand, he thinks. They aren’t ready, and even if all I did was buy them a little time to get ready, I’m hoping you’re okay with it.
Cuddy and Wilson look up as Chase enters the room. Both pairs of eyes are riveted to the bag of medication he carries. Chase knows that this is the time to tell them that the bag holds no magic, that the only guarantee it might offer is a lifetime of dialysis for House. But he also knows that they’re aware of the facts; it’s a chance they’re willing to take. So he silently hangs the medication, brushes off their whispered thanks, leaves them with their fragile hopes intact for a little while longer.
Once Chase has gone, Wilson leaves House’s side to return to his laptop. He’s all too aware of everything Chase had chosen not to say, and he knows that every hour that passes without a definitive answer means that House is an hour closer to chronic renal failure, to spending the remainder of his life reliant on both the cane and on the machine that’s currently standing in for his kidneys. It still causes Wilson great pain, fathomless regret, that he’ll never be able to do anything to change the situation with House’s leg—but he’s determined that the dialyzer won’t become a part of the landscape of House’s life too.
Cuddy remains at House’s side. She’s holding his hand, stroking his arm, whispering to him. Wilson can’t hear what she’s saying—but it isn’t difficult to read the expression on her face.
Wilson smiles to himself. You know what, House? When this is all over, you might wanna save another patient, score another pair of tickets to a play. And this time, you take Cuddy. And… be a gentleman. That beautiful, crazy lady knows you pretty well—and she cares about you anyway. Go figure. So you show her you’re worth caring about. Remember what I told you? Start small. One step at a time. I’ve got a feeling that all those little steps might take you somewhere you haven’t been in a long, long, time….
A quiet ping from the computer interrupts Wilson’s thoughts, and he quickly clicks over to his email box; he’s been expecting important correspondence, information that could turn this whole thing around. He scans the email rapidly, and then rereads it more carefully, the expression on his face changing from one of hope to one of defeat. Cuddy glances up at the slam of the laptop’s cover.
“What’s the matter?” she asks, walking over to join him.
“Nothing. Everything. I don’t know… this doesn’t change anything. Can’t let it get me down. I’ve been in contact with a team of researchers at UCLA. They’re working with a compound that shows great activity against VRSA. No renal toxicity. It’s excreted primarily by the liver, but even that—it breaks down almost completely in the body, so by the time it gets to the liver, it’s virtually harmless.”
“Sounds like exactly what House needs,” Cuddy says. “So what’s the problem?”
“First test group’s begun to show blood dyscrasias. Irreversible neutropenia. With the prednisone already tanking House’s immune system… he’s not a candidate.”
Both are silent for a moment, and then Wilson takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders. “That’s okay. It’s okay. Just have to work a little harder, that’s all. There’s something out there, and I’m gonna find it. Made him a promise; I’m going to keep it.”
Wilson opens the laptop again, and within moments is absorbed in a new abstract that’s just arrived.
Cuddy returns to House and asks him quietly if he knows just how important he is to Wilson—and to her.
And House, of course, has no answer.