Title: Evening Hour
Characters: House, Wilson
Word Count: 1100
Summary: Wilson thinks he's doing fine; House knows better.
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, Legal Hour , Honorable Hour, House's Hour , Wilson's Hour , Uncomfortable Hour , Lunch Hour , and Administrative Hour .
As House and Wilson enter the apartment, Wilson sighs shakily, and collapses on the couch. House is immediately on alert.
“How’s the shoulder?”
“It’s fine, House. Relax. Just been a… full day, that’s all. A good day. I’m a little tired; nothing to worry about.”
“I’m not worried; just don’t want you getting sick. You might expect me to act like a doctor, or something.”
“Heaven forbid! Like I said, relax. I’ve only got two more days of antibiotics. Then the whole thing just becomes some story to tell my grandchildren. Or not.” Wilson smiles ruefully.
“You take ‘em yet? The antibiotics?”
Wilson’s got his head leaned against the back of the couch; his eyes are closed, and he’s comfortable. “Not yet; I will. Just give me a few minutes.” He hears House’s uneven footsteps leaving the room, and he sighs with relief; concerned House is turning out to be more work than selfish House.
Too soon, he hears the footsteps headed his way again; they stop right next to him. Without opening his eyes, he says, “Yeah, House. What is it?” There’s no response, so Wilson reluctantly opens his eyes.
House is standing in front of him, cane in one hand, a plate in the other. He’s somehow managed to balance a glass of water, the prescription bottle, and some unrecognizable food item on the plate.
Wilson frowns. “What’s that?”
House sighs. “What’s it look like? It’s your meds and something to wash ‘em down with. And a sandwich; you take antibiotics on an empty stomach, you might barf on my couch.”
Wilson gives up and raises his head. “That is not a sandwich. That is… that is—what is that?”
“It’s bologna and cheese, between a couple of Pop Tarts. We’re out of bread; I improvised!” House says proudly.
“House,” Wilson says patiently. “Meat and cheese, between two toaster pastries filled with… filled with….”
“Chocolate,” House supplies.
Wilson’s eyebrows climb. “Chocolate? Seriously?” When House nods, Wilson shakes his head and continues. “That does not constitute a sandwich.”
House makes a show of looking hurt. “I’ll have you know that in Sweden, this is considered a delicacy.”
That’d be the same country where ‘limping twerp’ translates to ‘friend,’ Wilson reflects fondly.
“Gimme,” Wilson says, holding out his hand for the plate. “Never let it be said I turned down a sure-fire ticket to heartburn—or worse.”
House hands the plate over, but continues to stand just in front of Wilson.
“What? I said I’d eat.” Then he sees that what House is looking at is the pill bottle. Wilson picks it up and pops two of the capsules into his mouth. “Happy?” he asks after he swallows them.
House nods his head, but Wilson notes that his expression, on anyone else’s face, would qualify as worried.
“House, what’s up with you? You’re acting… strange. I mean, you’re acting… concerned, but for you, that’s synonymous with strange.”
House wrinkles his brow. “Just trying to be a good host, is all. Sorry if it’s annoying you.” He sits next to Wilson on the couch, and reaches for the TV remote. Wilson’s busy trying to separate ‘dinner’ from ‘dessert’, but he’s uncomfortably aware that House is still watching him.
The next few minutes pass in silence as Wilson chokes down some of the more edible parts of the “sandwich,” and House flicks through the television channels. He settles on an old black-and-white movie, and turns to Wilson. “This okay?” he asks deferentially. When Wilson nods, he says, “You sure? If you wanna watch something else—”
Wilson flings the plate onto the coffee table and stands up. “All right; that’s it! News bulletin: I’m fine. I just got out of a prison that wasn’t too much worse than the hotel I was staying in. I got my license back, and my job, and my title. I got my friend back! Everything’s great!” He’s pacing now, and he’s agitated, and House is simply watching him, expressionless, and he’s not saying anything, and Wilson doesn’t understand why. The silence is weird, and empty, and it needs to be filled, and if House won’t speak, well then, Wilson will.
“Yeah, I’m tired, and I’m at the tail end of an uncomplicated infection, and it’s my first day out, and maybe some of it was a little overwhelming. And I need to get some rest, and things feel a little strange right now, and yeah—it’s hard to really relax. I can’t quite believe it’s over, and I can’t quite believe it even happened in the first place. It’s a little tough, okay? But I’m not going to break!” Now he’s gesturing frantically, and yelling—and still, House is just sitting there, looking at him like he’s some sort of intriguing zoo exhibit.
Wilson throws his arms wildly into the air. “What the hell do you want from me?” he shouts, and as he brings his arms down, he feels something pull in his left shoulder, and he glances towards it, and there’s fresh blood, and he can’t look away from it even though he’s feeling dizzy, and then House is there, right there, guiding him over to the couch, and making him sit, and mumbling something that sounds like, ‘good, it’s about time; that was good,’ and the mumble is oddly soothing, and finally Wilson’s able to pull in a deep breath, and then another, and he can’t remember the last time it was so easy to fill his lungs with air, and then he has a question, and he’s able to ask it in a quiet, calm voice. “You want to tell me what all that was about?”
House shrugs. “You needed to get angry,” he says simply, as he presses a dish towel to Wilson’s shoulder. “Hold that there a minute; I’ll be right back. Tearing that wound open wasn’t part of the plan.”
House returns before Wilson even notices that he’s gone. “Lie back,” he orders. “It’ll give me a better angle on that thing.”
So Wilson does as he’s told, and he closes his eyes, and when House does something to his shoulder that stings it doesn’t bother him, because he’s still marveling at how suddenly easy it is to breathe, how effortless, and why hadn’t he noticed before how much work breathing had become? And when House does something that takes away the stinging and replaces it with wonderful coolness, Wilson takes another miraculously deep breath, and he falls effortlessly into a soft, safe place, a place where the only sound is a quiet, comforting, familiar voice telling him it’s okay, everything’s all right now. And then he sleeps.
And the end of our journey: