Title: Honorable Hour
Characters: House, Wilson
Word Count: 1100
Summary: House heads to the prison to speak with Wilson.
The previous vignettes, in order, are: Visiting Hour, Happy Hour, Midnight Hour, Fifty-Minute Hour, Random Hour, Painful Hour, Dark Hour , Desperate Hour, Witching Hour , Lonely Hour, Dinner Hour, and Legal Hour .
Wilson waits for House in an exam room in the infirmary. This time, it’s different; he knows House is on his way here, and that House wants to see him. Wilson doesn’t know why, and he doesn’t really care—House is coming.
House enters the room, tosses his bike helmet on a counter, nods at Wilson, and says without preamble, “We need to talk.”
Wilson smiles. “Hello to you, too, House! Just fine, and you?”
House ignores the greeting. “I’ve just come from the state attorney’s office. Your being here, it was all a mistake. Tritter overstepped his bounds, fudged some numbers. Broke some laws.” House lowers himself into a chair; Wilson sees that he looks exhausted, drained—and triumphant.
“We already knew all that, House. But if I hadn’t taken this deal, he would’ve gone after you, and we might have both wound up in prison.”
House looks intently at Wilson. “Listen to me. Tritter’s in jail. We aren’t the only one’s he’s screwed with. I went to see Doyle because I finally figured something out; they’re holding you based on a faulty assumption.”
Wilson sits patiently on the edge of the exam table. He knows there’s no sense in trying to rush House to the point of this discussion. House has solved a puzzle, and—whether or not its solution is relevant—he’s always compelled to share the process with anyone who’ll listen. And Wilson always listens.
“Tritter made certain that they counted the scrips I forged into the total of what you’d written for me. Put you in clear violation of the Controlled Substances Act. He knew that if anyone caught it, said anything, you’d have to admit, in court, that you knew about the forgeries. Otherwise, he’d call in his handwriting experts, his DEA contacts. Subpoena a few pharmacists, run a few security tapes for the jury. He’d have us both.” House stops talking and peers at Wilson to make sure he’s following. When Wilson nods thoughtfully at him, House continues.
“But it was in Tritter’s best interest that you take this deal. Because it turns out that he was wrong from the start. The search on my apartment never should have happened. Doyle says that nothing that followed should’ve happened either.”
Wilson says slowly, “That means that both of us are in the clear. Both of us.” He looks at House with just the smallest bit of hope in his eyes.
“Yeah—but the important thing is, you really didn’t violate any DEA regulations, didn’t break any federal laws.” House pauses and gazes seriously at Wilson. House’s eyes are warm; the faint smile playing across his face is sincere—he looks like someone who cares. “That means they’re removing the sanctions from your license. You’ll practice medicine again.” House allows the smile to widen, the eyes to grow warmer, as he regards Wilson. His kind, empathetic expression never changes as he allows the implications of what he’s said to sink in.
He continues to explain the details slowly, and as simply as he can. His tone isn’t patronizing, though—it’s… considerate.
Finally, Wilson’s able to speak. He meets House’s eyes. “Thank you,” he says simply.
House frowns; the smile and the warmth disappear. “For what? Letting you go to prison? Putting you in a situation where you might’ve been killed? Almost destroying your career? Or just for being a lousy friend?”
Wilson shakes his head. “No, House,” he says gently. “For doing the honorable thing. For… for following the moral imperative to protect your friend. For coming here today and… treating me like a human being.”
House looks away and says gruffly, “Yeah, well—don’t get used to it.” Then he stands and begins gathering supplies. “Now let’s have a look at that shoulder; wanna see if the infection’s resolving.”
Of course Wilson knows that House knows that the shank wound had become infected—but House thinks Wilson’s unaware of the daily phone calls. So Wilson decides to bust him on it—this could be fun.
“How’d you know it was infected?” Wilson asks casually as he removes his shirt.
House looks trapped, but only for a second. “Easy,” he asserts confidently. “You’re flushed—indicative of a low-grade fever.” House snakes his fingers around Wilson’s wrist. “Pulse is rapid—backs up the fever. And the padding on the bandage is triple what it should be at this point in the healing process,” he finishes triumphantly.
Wilson thinks, briefly, of pointing out that both the flush and the rapid pulse could easily be explained by the news House has just given him, and that even clean, uninfected wounds can drain for a very long time. But he decides to let this one slide. House has demonstrated his human side for the better part of an hour. He’s made it clear that he cares, very much. And he’s allowed Wilson to see his guilt, his vulnerability. Let’s not push it.
Wilson watches as House searches in the unfamiliar cabinets for something. He could tell House exactly where to find whatever he’s looking for—but he knows that House needs this respite from all the emotion that’s recently filled this room. So he doesn’t speak, just continues to observe quietly.
House’s gait is slower than usual, the limp more pronounced. Wilson realizes that—between the ride to and from the state attorney’s office, and the drive to the prison—House has been on the bike for over three hours. House’s own rule, in deference to the leg, is two hours, max. And he still has the drive back to Princeton.
Wilson would normally chide House, tell him he should’ve taken the car. But he knows, intuitively, that the torturous ride, and the pain it’s causing him, were somehow necessary for House—that House needs to punish himself for his perceived wrongs.
He went to bat for me. Went in there thinking he was turning himself in. Came all the way out here to deliver the news in person. And now, the renowned Dr. House is cleaning and bandaging a simple stab wound, with all the concentration I’d give a biopsy. Least I can do is let him think his secret’s safe.
Wilson watches in wonder as House gently peels away the tape on the dressing and glances at Wilson’s face to make certain he isn’t hurting him. Phone calls? What phone calls?
“Impressive differential, House,” Wilson concedes with a smile. “Accurate as always.” Then he leans back comfortably against the pillow, and allows his friend to care for him.
Next up: House's Hour