Wilson closes his laptop with a sigh, then stands and stretches. Cuddy’s been sitting with House while Wilson worked, and she looks every bit as tired as he feels.
“I’ll take over now,” he tells her. “It’s almost time for our ‘television hour’ anyway. You should go home, get some rest.” What Wilson doesn’t say is that this hour with House is time he guards jealously. The nurses know not to bother them, and for this short amount of time Wilson is able to put aside the puzzle, concentrate on simply being with his friend.
House may be in a chemically-induced coma, or perhaps his unconsciousness is illness-induced. But it doesn’t matter which it is, and it doesn’t matter that, in theory, House should be unaware of what’s going on—Wilson’s discovered that when they watch television ‘together’ in the evening, House’s heart rate and blood pressure drop to a more normal level. And he never appears to need extra pain medication. When Wilson talks to him, narrates the program, makes awful jokes, House is… at peace. And that’s all that matters.
But Cuddy seems loath to leave. She spends much of her free time with House now, and Wilson usually appreciates it—it frees him up to continue his search for answers, treatments, House’s chance to live. So although what he really wants is to get House settled for the evening, and enjoy their brief, private reprieve from reality, Wilson asks her to stay.
“Maybe I won’t look quite so crazy talking to myself if there’s another conscious person in the room,” he says with a self-deprecating smile.
Cuddy knows that really, nothing he does for House embarrasses Wilson at all, and she also knows that he’s offering her a gift by inviting her to spend this time with them. She should say no, leave them to their respite, but she can’t. Cuddy suspects that soon, good moments with House will be little more than a memory, so she finds herself drawn to wanting to be with him and Wilson whenever she can.
“If you don’t mind,” she says, “I really would like to stay, for just a little while.”
“Don’t mind at all,” Wilson answers, and as he says the words, he finds, to his surprise, that he means them. He realizes that in the last few days, the line between Cuddy, the administrator, and Cuddy, the friend, has become blurred—and somehow, that’s okay. No; it’s more than that. It’s knowing that she cares about him as much as I do, that she’s not afraid to share the responsibility or the… pain. Guess I should’ve known; for all the grief House gives her, he’s always respected her. Something tells me he’s known for a long time how strong she really is, how… special.
Cuddy interrupts Wilson’s musings. “I’m going to go track us down some coffee; I’ll be back in a few minutes. Anything else I can bring you?”
“No thanks. But hurry back; maybe you can help me figure out just what it is House sees in this show that’s coming on. Or at least help me decipher the plot—if there is one.”
Cuddy smiles at the quizzical expression on Wilson’s face. “Sounds… intriguing. I’ll make it quick,” she promises.
When Cuddy returns to the cubicle, she gowns up and carries in the tray. Wilson’s frowning at the television and asking House, “Was that supposed to be funny? Because it’s hard to tell without a laugh track—or words I can understand.”
“What’d I miss?” Cuddy asks.
“I couldn’t tell you. Takes me the first ten minutes of the show just to make out a quarter of what they’re saying!” Wilson shakes his head and makes a face, then returns to listening intently to the program.
Cuddy laughs and turns her attention to the TV screen. After just a minute, she understands Wilson’s confusion. The show is a British comedy, and the actors are speaking with thick cockney accents. “Subtitles would be nice,” she comments.
“I’m not certain that’d help,” Wilson says. “Unless the subtitles came with a British Slang dictionary. Have any idea what doddle means? Or chuffed? I’m pretty certain that khazi means ‘bathroom’, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out why!”
“And House enjoys this show, because?” Cuddy asks.
“Beats me. That’s as big a mystery as yonks. I’m actually relieved when they say things like nappie and lift and git; I can almost—” Wilson abruptly stops talking, and stares at Cuddy, then through Cuddy. And then… something eerie happens.
Cuddy’s about to ask him if something’s the matter—until she sees his eyes. She’s seen that look on only one other face, and after a moment it’s that face she’s seeing, and she’s watching a process that amazes her now just as much as it did the first time she saw it happen.
Wilson’s eyes are faraway, unfocused—or at least not focused on anything around him. Cuddy can almost see his brain working at an equation that’s clear only to him. After observing this phenomenon with House so many times over the years, now Cuddy finds herself mentally going through the steps as they play across Wilson’s face.
He’s made some sort of… obscure connection, found the piece that might solve the puzzle. Now he’s running through the possible scenarios, looking for the one that fits. Eyes narrowing a little; he’s arguing with himself—playing devil’s advocate. Eyes widening; I know that one—all the pieces fit! There’s the start of a smile; he thinks he may have it. Please—let him have it.
Wilson literally shakes himself, pulls himself out of his trancelike state, and walks swiftly to the doorway. Then all at once, he seems to remember Cuddy’s presence. He turns around and comes back to her, begins speaking rapidly.
“I’ve got to go check into something. It’s so simple; can’t believe I missed it before. You take good care of him.” And then he’s gone.
Cuddy realizes immediately that Wilson’s forgotten something; this is the first time he hasn’t gone to House’s side, explained anything, told him where he was going, when he’d be back. And he hadn’t said goodbye.
Cuddy hurries to the bedside, and when she speaks to House her voice is confident, and there’s an undercurrent of elation in her tone. “He’ll be back, House. And when he does get back, it’ll be the beginning of the end of this nightmare. You know why he didn’t remember to say goodbye? Because it wasn’t necessary. Because… you’re going to live.”