Title: Painful Hour
Characters: House, Wilson
Word Count: 650
Summary: House makes an unscheduled visit to Wilson-- a Housecall, if you will. This series began with Visiting Hour, Happy Hour, Midnight Hour, Fifty-Minute Hour, and Random Hour.
And--as always--my undying gratitude to blackmare_9 and misanthropicobs, first-readers extraordinaire.
House rushes into the prison infirmary, a guard hot on his heels. The phone call from the prison administrator had contained just enough information to justify the land-speed records House had broken getting here, and he’s not about to be stopped now by some underpaid guard who doesn’t even carry a gun. “Where is he?” House shouts.
The guard looks apologetically at the nurse. “Sorry; couldn’t stop him. Pretty fast for a guy on a cane. Says he’s here for Wilson; is it okay?”
The nurse looks at the man with the blazing eyes and the frantically tapping cane, and she smiles at him sympathetically. “I take it you’re Dr. House?”
“I am. Now that we’ve gotten the introductions out of the way, where is Wilson?”
“First exam room on the left; I’ll take you there.”
“No; I can find my way.” And he’s gone.
Wilson’s sitting uncomfortably on the exam table. His shirt is off, and he’s shivering. A detached part of his brain wonders if it’s from the temperature of the room, or if he’s in shock. When House bursts in, Wilson sits up a little straighter, and tries to smile. “Hey, House. Finally found a way to get you into a clinic voluntarily, huh? Oughtta tell Cuddy.”
Wilson’s brave attempt at a joke falls flat; House’s expression doesn’t change, and he doesn’t speak. His eyes zero in on the large gauze pad covering Wilson’s left shoulder. House locates a pair of gloves and snaps them on quickly. Then he removes the bandage the prison doctor had applied just minutes ago, and begins to probe the freshly-sutured wound.
House stills his hands only once, when Wilson winces. He allows his warm hand to rest on undamaged skin; it looks almost like an attempt at comfort. When he feels Wilson’s shoulder relax again, he resumes his thorough examination of the traumatized area.
Wilson sits quietly; he doesn’t dare speak. But he’s surprised; House’s hands are uncharacteristically gentle as he inspects the injury. House might be angry with Wilson, but he’s certainly not communicating any fury with this oddly soothing touch.
Finally, House is satisfied. He rebandages the wound carefully, then finds a sheet which he tosses to Wilson—he’s seen the trembling.
Wilson covers himself gratefully, then meets House’s eyes—House still hasn’t uttered a word. “I guess you want to hear what happened,” Wilson says.
“I know what happened,” House growls. “You almost got yourself murdered in a country-club prison—only you could manage that.” House is glaring at him now.
“It wasn’t exactly… like that,” Wilson says. “It was a freak thing. There was some overcrowding at another facility, and they brought a few of them here. Supposed to be only nonviolent inmates, but…. Anyway, I was helping with their entrance physicals, and there was… a small altercation. One of ‘em apparently snapped off a piece of metal on the bus—a… uh… sharp piece of metal. Another inmate threatened to rat him out, and… I was just… trying to keep anyone from being hurt, that’s all.”
House’s eyes widen. “You did this on purpose? You got between two goons with shanks intentionally?”
Wilson looks down, doesn’t answer. But House’s silence stretches out so long that finally Wilson looks at him. He notices, for the first time, that House’s face is unnaturally pale, and he realizes that House has been clutching at his leg, at intervals, since he’d arrived. “I scared you,” Wilson says quietly. “I’m sorry.”
House’s eyes are cold, and they’re boring into his. When he speaks, his voice is terse, clipped. “You knowingly put yourself in danger. On purpose. Fine. Still haven’t learned that risky choices can have nasty consequences, I see. Hope when that lesson finally sinks in, you’re alive long enough to benefit from it.”
As Wilson stares at him, hurt building in his eyes, House looks away and takes a deep breath. Then he calmly reaches for his cane and heads through the door, slamming it hard behind him.
Wilson wraps the sheet a little tighter around himself, and tries to remember how to breathe.
And next: Dark Hour