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
IMPORTANT A/N: I must “halt proceedings”, briefly, at this point, to offer a tremendous thanks to blackmare_9. Since Chapter 27, she’s been suddenly, involuntarily, and unexpectedly thrust into the role of sole first reader (didn’t do it on purpose—my other first reader apparently grew tired of the story), and she’s cheerfully stepped up to the plate, made time to comment, criticize, praise, and encourage, despite her own hectic life and even her own writing projects. And there are… just not enough words to convey how very much that sacrifice means to me; friends like her are priceless. Were it not for her, I would’ve had to halt proceedings for real after chapter 26, for an indeterminate amount of time. SOOO, a hearty round of applause for blackmare_9, please! mjf
CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: SIGHT
Wilson’s just finished eating dinner with Cuddy when Cameron shows up. It’s the first time she’s come here since she’d accused Wilson of torturing House, and he isn’t terribly happy to see her; it’s early evening, the unit is quieting down, House seems comfortable. Wilson had been planning on some uninterrupted time for correspondence and then an hour of TV with House—their current version of a quiet night at home.
Cameron approaches the bed; she’s holding a syringe. Wilson moves to block her access to House, and puts a hand on her arm to stop her; his eyes are cold.
“What’s that?” he asks. His posture makes it clear that Cameron’s overstepped her bounds, and Cameron is insulted.
Watching Wilson standing so protectively over House, Cuddy’s reminded suddenly of a fierce soldier on the battlefield, standing guard over a mortally wounded comrade, a soldier suddenly reduced to the tender young boy he really is, fighting against impossible odds for his dying brother.
“Dr. Cameron,” Cuddy intervenes, “Dr. Wilson will be questioning everything you do; get used to it. He’s the closest thing we have to House right now; you’re not to begin any new treatment without checking with him first.”
Cameron nods her grudging understanding, and turns to Wilson. “I’m sorry; I should have asked you. It’s Neupogen. I’ve researched its use in House’s situation, and I think it might help his immune system depression.”
Wilson frowns. “We use it for chemo patients all the time—increases the white count, lets ‘em continue chemotherapy, cuts down on chances of infection. But I’ve never heard of it being used to counteract the effects of prednisone.”
“It’s not been widely studied,” Cameron admits. “But the risks are minimal, and it could really help.” She hands Wilson the syringe.
Wilson examines the syringe thoughtfully, then nods and looks at Cameron. “Thank you. You’re right; won’t hurt him, and it could help. I’ll let him know what’s going on, and why. You don’t need to stay; I’ll administer it.” Wilson turns his back on Cameron, effectively dismissing her.
Cameron looks to Cuddy for help; Cuddy says nothing, simply inclines her head towards the door.
Once Cameron has left, Wilson approaches the bed. “House, Cameron thinks we might be able to boost your immune system with Neupogen. I’m willing to give it a try. Worst side effect might be bone pain, but you’re getting Dilaudid so that shouldn’t be a problem for you.”
As Wilson speaks, he locates a site on House’s left arm for the subcutaneous injection. Once he’s swabbed the site, he says, “Okay, quick pinch here, then we’re done.” He gives the injection swiftly, then presses gently on the area. He continues speaking quietly to House. “Only thing I’ve heard patients complain about is soreness at the site, and they tell me a little pressure helps with that, so I’ll just hold on here for a minute.”
“You’re very good with him,” Cuddy observes quietly.
“Never know how much he’s aware of,” Wilson says sadly. “Ironic, isn’t it? I wait ‘til he probably can’t hear me to start treating him like a human being. Maybe if I’d shown a little compassion months ago, a lot of things could’ve been avoided. Talk about locking the barn door….”
Cuddy joins Wilson at the bedside. “You told me yourself that it won’t do him any good now to wallow in the mistakes we made in the past. All we can do is try to make it up to him—and that’s exactly what you’re doing. Give yourself a little credit, okay?”
“Credit, for finally doing the right thing? Doesn’t work that way. No bonus points for doing too late what I should’ve been doing all along. You know when I blew it? Long time ago. His first week back at work, when he came to me and told me he was in pain. And I… laughed at him. Really; I laughed, told him he’d taken so much Vicodin he couldn’t even recognize the normal aches and pains of middle age.”
“But that was probably the truth!” Cuddy interjects.
“We’ll never know. And the reason we’ll never know is, I let the window close. Hell, it didn’t just close, it slammed shut. Told you back then that we had a small window of time when he might be healthy enough to change. What I didn’t realize was, House was giving me a window, too. And I consciously closed it—locked it and threw away the key. And then… I drew the blinds over it!”
“What are you talking about?”
“When House showed up in my office. He didn’t come in there as a friend; he actually presented himself as a patient—a frightened patient. Didn’t make any jokes; wasn’t at all casual. Hell—he wouldn’t even look at me! When I asked him how bad the pain was, know what he said? Said, ‘Bad enough that I’m telling you.’ If one of my oncology patients had come in, scared that his cancer had returned, and I’d laughed in his face, my practice wouldn’t last very long—I wouldn’t deserve to have a practice.”
“But it’s understandable that you wouldn’t know how to react; House had never come to you as a patient before.”
“And that only makes my behavior more inexcusable. There he was, giving me that opportunity to help him medically. Doing what I’d been after him for years to do, actually talking seriously about his condition. I laugh, blow off his concerns, wave my prescription pad at him and make sure he sees me put it away. What I did to him, it was… cruel.”
Cuddy realizes that there’s nothing she can say; Wilson’s right—his treatment of House may have been the catalyst for all that followed.
“The worst thing about all that,” Wilson continues, “is that he is my friend. I’m sure he figured that one way or another I’d support him, deal with his fears, his concerns. If not as a physician, then at least as his best friend. I lost the patient; almost lost the friend, too.” Wilson gazes at House. “Still might.”
“Did it ever occur to you,” Cuddy says thoughtfully, “that it was your caring and concern that made you act as you did? It’s a perfectly normal reaction for us to want the people we love not to be suffering. Maybe you just… weren’t ready to face it, that despite the treatment, nothing had changed for him. That’s certainly understandable.”
Wilson’s not about to let himself off the hook that easily. “Maybe he wasn’t ready to face it either—but he didn’t have that choice. I was blinding myself to the reality of his situation; I was being pretty damned selfish, wasn’t I? Cuddy, I need to ask you something; I’d like an honest answer.”
“I’ll do my best,” she promises.
“I… had a nightmare. Forced me to take a look at a few things. But I want to know. Am I still in denial? Have I done the wrong thing? Am I still being selfish?”
Cuddy thinks for quite a while before she answers. “I don’t think so, not based on all that you’ve told me. Because… if you’d followed your heart months ago, when all this started, I think you’d have just naturally made the right decisions. Same for me. But what we did was… we punished House, for the misbehavior of his body. In the last few days, though, it’s been different. This crisis has stripped away right and wrong. What it’s left you with is… an inability to do anything except follow your own instincts. There’s no denial now, no good versus bad, no personal agendas. All you’ve got to go on is… what’s true. And House—well, he values honesty above all else. So….”
Wilson, a newfound peace in his eyes, finishes the thought. “So as long as I don’t lose sight of the truth, I’m doing the right thing for him.” Wilson nods; that’s comfort, reassurance enough for right now—it’ll have to be.