TITLE: The Devil, You Say
CHARACTERS: House, Wilson, Cuddy
SUMMARY: A study of the psychology behind the HouseWilsonCuddy bond. Introspection, angst, hurtcomfort. Wilson and Cuddy realize that there's a difference between dependence and addiction when House's worsening chronic pain causes a collapse in front of his team.
PRELUDE: House at Home
Chapter One: Can't Sell What You Don't Have
Chapter Two: House Is Down
Chapter Three: House in Hell
Chapter Four: Cuddy Lies
Chapter Five: Wilson Cracks
Chapter Six: Distance
Chapter Seven: And Then There's the Truth
Chapter Eight: Please Push Back
Chapter Nine: Mood Music
Chapter Ten: It's A Deal
Chapter Eleven: No Pain
Chapter Twelve: A Talk, A Prayer, A Promise
Chapter Thirteen: What the Hell?
Chapter Fourteen: Questions and Answers
Chapter Fifteen: The Plan
Chapter Sixteen: Trust
Chapter Seventeen: Facing Fears
Chapter Eighteen: Going Under
Chapter Nineteen: House Sleeps
Chapter Twenty: Hours
And tonight's angsty offerings:
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: Blip
Seven hours. It’s been seven hours since House went under, and everything seems to be stable. Wilson has slept, soundly, for two of those hours, and according to Cuddy, the time had been uneventful. In the hour Wilson’s been awake, House has been holding his own. But now, his heart rate’s creeping up and his O2 sats are falling again.
Wilson stands over him, frowning. A thorough assessment had told him only that House’s respiratory rate is climbing, heart rate’s just a bit fast. And his breathing is becoming shallow. He’s in pain, Wilson realizes. He’s mournfully awed that House’s pain can break through all the layers of sedation. “Now ya see, House, you’re like the boy who cried ‘wolf.’ If you hadn’t made the Vicodin look positively…recreational…I’d have picked up on all this a helluva lot sooner.” Oh, that’s good, Wilson. Let’s blame it on House when he can’t even fight back. He increases the rate on the morphine to 45mg and glues his eyes to the respiratory monitor.
When there’s no improvement after ten minutes—actually, his respiratory rate is increasing, and the sat has fallen another point—Wilson ups the morphine to 50mg and waits. He’s so tense he’s actually forgetting to breathe properly himself. He forces himself to take several deep breaths, and then reassesses the situation.
He’s still got his stethoscope to House’s chest when it happens. The O2 sat alarm begins a steady, ominous screech. And House’s respirations, which had been hovering at 22, drop to 5 per minute. Wilson tears his eyes away from House; sat’s down to 87. “Damn! C’mon, House, let’s not do this.”
He reaches for the ambu bag, tears it out of its sterile wrap, dumps it on the bed. He briefly considers the syringe of Narcan and decides not to get drastic yet—the Narcan would reverse the problem immediately, and House would awaken screaming in agony and withdrawal, and all the careful work of the last hours would be undone.
He quickly drops the rate on the drip back to 45mg, and picks up the ambu. House’s respirations are about 4 per minute now, but his heart rate’s still within normal limits, so Wilson has a little time to straighten this out. He pulls the pillow from beneath House’s head, tilts his head back slightly, and seals the mask to House’s mouth and nose.
As Wilson squeezes the bag rhythmically, his eyes go from House’s face, to the sat monitor, to the cardiac monitor. When the O2 sat hits 94, the steady alarm suddenly ceases. The only sounds in the room now are the steady whoosh-gasp of the ambu bag and Wilson’s own strained breathing.
The automatic BP cuff inflates, and Wilson sees that the blood pressure and heart rate remain stable. Once the O2 sat hits 96, he cautiously removes the ambu bag from House’s face and sets the O2 flow rate on the nasal cannula up to 5 liters. House is breathing 10 a minute now, on his own. He appears deeply unconscious, comatose. Wilson attempts to rouse him, but hard pressure on his nailbeds, even pinching the web of skin between his fingers, yields nothing—not even an increase in heart rate.
Wilson closes his eyes and offers House a silent apology for what he’s about to do. He balls his hand into a fist and presses his knuckles, hard, into the center of House’s chest. He’s always considered the sternal rub barbaric, has used it only twice in his career. After the second time, he’d sworn to himself he’d never do it again.
After 30 seconds of steady, increasing pressure, House responds with a low moan, a slight jerk of his head. Then his hand comes up, weakly, to try to brush away the source of the agony. Wilson breathes again.
He unties the gown and looks at House’s chest. Already, there’s a large bruise rising on his sternum. He reties the gown and gently places the pillow under House’s head. Wilson’s fighting the lump that’s rising in his own chest, but finally he has no choice; he sinks down into the chair and lets the silent tears escape.
When Cuddy enters the room twenty minutes later, Wilson is composed again. He’d called her and told her about the incident, said she didn’t need to come down, but she’s worried about both of them. She squeezes Wilson’s arm, examines his face. He’s not happy, but he seems calm, back in control, so she heads over to House. He appears comfortable, and the monitors tell her that his vitals are all within normal limits.
Wilson joins her at the bedside. Wordlessly, he lowers the blanket to House’s waist, undoes the tie on the gown, and reveals to her what he’d had to do to his friend. Cuddy looks at the spreading bruise and chuckles softly, sadly. She gives Wilson a small smile.
“You’re gonna catch hell for that,” she says.
Wilson attempts to smile back, fails miserably. “I know. But I don’t think even House can make me feel worse than I already do.” He shakes his head, reaches out to touch the bruise gently, then reties the gown. “The only good news here is that he came out of level 4 pretty quickly once I put the drip down to 45mg. And he’s been stable since then.” He sighs. “I told you there’d be blips, but I guess I was hoping I’d be wrong.”
“Listen, you got through it—you both got through it. He’ll be okay. He is okay. You did what you had to do; you need to let it go. We’ve got sixteen more hours of this. What would House say if he saw you feeling this way?”
Wilson considers. “He’d say, ‘Jimmy, you couldn’t have just threatened to take away my GameBoy? That would’ve gotten my attention a whole lot quicker, and with a lot less physical damage—to me, anyway.’ And then I’d duck—quickly.”
This time, they’re both able to laugh, and their laughter is so full that House stirs briefly in his sleep, and turns his head away from the noise.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Safety Net
“It’s midnight, House; we’re halfway through. You’re doin’ great. Vitals are stable, output’s good. Got the oxygen down to 3 liters and you’re maintaining a 97 sat. I’m running your fluids at 125cc an hour, and you’re titrated to 45mg an hour on the morphine. No indications of any pain. Level of sedation is still at 3; sorry I keep disturbing you to check that, I know it’s a pain in the ass, but that little scare a few hours ago, well—I’m just gonna have to keep disturbing you. Deal with it, okay?”
Wilson stands at the recliner looking down at House, and it appears to Cuddy as if he’s actually expecting an answer from the unconscious man. She’d come in at the start of Wilson’s report to House, and she’d listened quietly, a bit confused, but Wilson always had his reasons when it came to House, and those reasons were always sound.
Wilson nods his head at House, says “Keep up the good work,” and turns to chart the results of his latest assessment. He smiles tiredly at Cuddy. “Be with you in just a sec, okay?” He seems not at all embarrassed to have been carrying on the one-sided conversation.
After a moment, he joins her over at the desk, where she’s busied herself removing some styrofoam containers from a couple of take-out bags. He looks appreciatively at the large deli sandwich she’s pushed across the desk towards him. “Mmm…looks good. Thanks.” He takes a large bite of the sandwich. Around the mouthful of food, he says, “House is doing well.”
“I know; I heard your report. You…um…do know he can’t hear you, right?” She smiles, inviting him to share in the humor of holding a one-sided conversation.
“No, I don’t know that; do you?” His tone is irritated, and Cuddy overlooks it—the man is exhausted, and under stress.
“Well,” she says gently, “a sedation score of 3 pretty much tells me that he’s not exactly going to be holding any meaningful, interactive conversations right now.”
“But Cuddy, it doesn’t tell you whether or not he hears me when I speak to him!” He gives her a look that’s just short of accusing. “Last time he was in a similar situation, no one told him anything. He’s a physician; he’d want to know all those things I told him. But beyond that, he’s a human being. He’s had to overcome a lot of distrust for this, and I promised him that there wouldn’t be any nasty surprises. If he can understand what I’m saying to him, then I’m reinforcing his decision to trust us. If he can’t understand the words, that’s all right too—the tone of my voice lets him know that he’s safe.”
No wonder his patients love him, Cuddy thinks. “You’re right; I’m sorry. I don’t get to do too much at the bedside anymore; I guess I’ve forgotten some of the finer points. Or maybe I forgot that even House deserves a little empathy now and then—whether he wants it or not.”
Wilson smiles at this. “You didn’t forget; you wouldn’t be here if you had. But part of the reason we are here is that he’s been so damned good at convincing us that he doesn’t want us to care. You believed it, and so did I, ‘cuz it was just easier for all of us that way. I just can’t allow that to happen again. We might not be able to turn it around next time.”
“I know.” She nods, remembering the statement he’d made to them about killing himself. She can tell from Wilson’s face that he’s remembering, too. After a minute, she asks him, “So what did you think when he talked about suicide?”
Wilson contemplates this a moment before answering. “I think he’s given it a lot of thought. I think he was lying to us when he said he didn’t have a plan. I think he has a plan, and that he’s had one a long time. And I think that we’re lucky, that we just barely managed to take it off the front burner, and move it back to safety-net status. Because that’s what it is; he gets comfort, I think, in knowing that there’s a way out if it all just gets too much.” Wilson sighs, rubs a hand over his face, and continues.
“But we’ve gotta find a way to replace that net with something… healthier. I’ve been thinking…. We know that House would never agree to go the counseling route. So I’ve decided to do it for him. I’m gonna make an appointment with Dickinson, have a few sessions, work up a game plan.”
He grins, says, “I’ll bet it’ll be the first time in Dickinson’s career that someone’s gonna come in talking about their hypothetical ‘friend with a problem’ where the ‘friend’ actually exists!”
Cuddy smiles too. “You don’t think that ending the breakthrough pain will be enough to improve his state of mind? At least for a while?”
“Oh, I definitely think it’ll help. But don’t forget, we usually reserve this procedure for patients who are terminal, so we don’t really have a good idea how long the improvement will last. And anyway, he was no great prize a year ago, before the breakthroughs started. It can’t hurt to try and get some objective insight into how to handle him.”
Cuddy looks impressed. “I just hope that someday House realizes what a good friend you are, how much you’re willing to do for him.”
“And I hope he doesn't realize it, not anytime soon, anyway.” The IV pump beeps, and Wilson stands and goes over to the recliner, hangs a new bag of saline. “He wouldn’t be comfortable with it, Cuddy. He wouldn’t be able to allow himself to process it, not right now. Think about it; he can’t accept acceptance—he feels he’s not worthy of it. He’s like the fat kid who cracks jokes about his own weight to beat others to the punch. He has to proclaim what a miserable excuse for a human being he is before anyone else proclaims it for him. That way, he can pretend that it doesn’t hurt so much.”
Wilson walks back to the desk. “And that’s never gonna change, I don't think. It’ll always be a part of who he is. I just have to accept that. Not in this for his gratitude, anyway.”
“You don’t need a psychologist for this, Wilson—you are a psychologist!” She smiles.
Wilson smiles too. “Yeah, well, House has given me a lot of on-the-job training.”
He stands up, crumples the sandwich container and tosses it in the trash. “It’s almost 1:00. Time for another assessment.” He puts his hands to his lower back, stretches and yawns.
“This one’s mine,” Cuddy says. “The only thing you’re gonna assess right now is the inside of your eyelids. Go lie down, I’ll House-sit. And before you start, yes, Dr. Wilson, I remember all my care-and-feeding-of-House instructions. Got ‘em memorized. Now go get some sleep, and don’t you dare move for at least two hours. Got that?”
Wilson smiles gratefully; he’s glad that Cuddy is the one sharing this responsibility with him. “Ya know,” he says, “I’m not the only one who qualifies for ‘good friend to House’ status. And he’ll never say it to you, either—so let me say it for him. Thanks, Cuddy.”
Wilson falls asleep to the reassuring sound of Cuddy, having a warm, one-sided conversation with House.
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: Family Matters
Exactly two hours later, Wilson awakens to the same sounds he was hearing when he’d drifted off—Cuddy, speaking with—or to, House. And to the sound of rain. For a while, he just lies there taking in the sounds; the soft, soothing voice, the rhythmic patter of the rain outside making him feel safe and sheltered in here. It reminds him of when he was young, and his parents would take him on long car trips. They’d always depart at night, and he’d fall asleep in the backseat, and each time he’d briefly wake, the hum of the tires on the road, the blanket of darkness, his mom’s gentle voice would all conspire to send him quickly back to his dreams. He remembers feeling happy then, and safe; all was right with his world.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like that, he thinks. But he realizes he feels like that right now, and he’s unwilling to give it up just yet. So he continues to lie there, protected and content, as he gives his mind free rein to go on a trip of its own.
Cuddy’s being so sweet with House, sounds as if she’s speaking to a child. She’d have made a great pediatrician, an even better mom. Wonder why she never had kids.
House must be doing really well at level 3; if his sedation were too light I’d know it—no way he’d let Cuddy get away with being nice to him! He smiles drowsily as his thoughts wander his mental library of dreams and memories, questions, hopes, fears.
Mmm, rain’s comin’ down hard now. Hope my brother’s dry, safe tonight…hope my brother’s alive. My biggest regret; couldn’t save my own brother….which, of course, brings to mind…House. Not gonna make the same mistakes with him—but I almost did, didn’t I?
Almost pushed him away—or, almost let him push me away. Not sure which…does it matter? End result’s the same.
Foreman did a good job explaining what it is I give House, why this friendship works for House; wonder why I’ve never let myself examine why it works for me…or… if it works for me. And that’s maybe why I’ve never given it any thought—maybe it doesn’t work for me.
This thought, unbidden and accusing, unsettles him; suddenly this little trip’s not so comfortable anymore. He’s almost frightened to analyze the unwelcome thought, but he’s here now, and he’s not one to back away from a challenge.
Wilson, you’re the one who’s always saying that even painful truths can bring comfort, yet you’re reluctant to examine the most significant relationship you’ve got; just don’t wanna go there, do ya? Might find out you really don’t like the bastard; maybe he’s just a charity case for you, ya know—the need to be needed, and all that rot. Or maybe it’s just the challenge; everybody likes you, everybody’s always liked you. But House doesn’t like anybody. Did ya want to force him to like you, just to see if it could be done? Just a little personal challenge?
He smiles, a little, to himself. He has to admit that, well, yeah, maybe that was a part of it—in the beginning. But he knows it’s not why he’s stayed around, so he discards that theory.
So why have you stayed around, Wilson? It’s sure not for his gratitude—you just said as much yourself, to Cuddy. And it’s not for those regular helpings of abuse he throws at you, you’re not a masochist. So what the hell is it?
He’s running out of theories, and it’s making him nervous; maybe he really doesn’t get anything out of this stupid, screwed-up friendship. Maybe he just stays out of…pity. But no, that just doesn’t feel right, even as he thinks it. He knows himself—and House—better than that.
And then—it hits him. All at once, it hits him, and it’s right. We’re brothers. No, not my second chance to redo things from a decade ago; not even a replacement. Just, my brother in his own right.
It all fits now. When things are going well, you don’t question it; it’s just family. When things aren’t going well, you have to question it, eventually, because it’s family. And when you do question it, and the answers are…painful, it’s just human nature to resent it, to want to turn away. But you don’t. He won’t. Because it’s House. Because he’s family.
Wilson stretches, rises from the lounge. And I thought House’s couch was uncomfortable. He walks over to House and Cuddy; he likes what he sees on the monitors. And he likes what he hears from Cuddy; she’s just finished telling House how she admires his courage for agreeing to go through with this.
Cuddy looks up at Wilson’s approach, says, “I like this, it’s…nice. Different. A real change, being able to talk to him without being interrupted, insulted, leered at, and walked out on. I could get used to this, but…I don’t want to. He may be an idiot with the social skills of a river rock, but he’s our idiot.” She leans toward House and whispers, “Hurry back.”
Wilson puts a hand on her shoulder. “Enjoy it while you can, we’ll be moving into the home stretch in a few hours. How’s he doing?”
Cuddy gives him report, leaves to get some rest herself. “Okay, House,” Wilson says. “It’s you and me. Just had a revelation—you might be interested. Like it or not—and sometimes I really don’t like it at all—we’re family, you and I. Brothers. And best friends on top of that. That means we’re stuck with each other for the long haul. And for what it’s worth, buddy, you need to remember that even when we don’t like our family, we never stop caring about them…and worrying—ever. So deal, okay?”
House, of course, sleeps peacefully through Wilson’s epiphany, and so doesn’t notice that Wilson-- anxious, worried James Wilson-- actually looks at peace with the world, and with himself, as he conducts the next assessment.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: Blip, Redux
Wilson is seated at House’s desk, listening to the rain. It’s 5:10 Sunday morning, and an impossibly long day stretches out before him. He appreciates the rain and the pre-dawn blackness; somehow it reinforces the air of safe isolation and privacy he’s tried to create for House in this room, for this weekend.
Wilson had started titrating down the morphine at 4:00am, and it’s running now at 35mg. House is beginning to move up to level 2 on the sedation scale. He’s still somewhat difficult to rouse, but Wilson’s seen him move his legs slightly a couple of times, and he’s turning his head on the pillow. He appears comfortable, and as far as Wilson is concerned, he can stay at 2.5 for at least another hour. No rush—House has earned this vacation from his pain.
Wilson gets up, walks to the window to watch the rain. A crack of thunder rumbles through, and lightning splits the sky. Wilson hears a sound behind him, and turns towards the recliner, thinking that House might have been disturbed by the thunder.
House is moaning, loudly, in his sleep. Wilson can tell that if the heavy sedation weren't suppressing his physical movements, he'd be thrashing, possibly screaming. He's over to the recliner in two steps--just in time to catch House as he bolts upright in the bed. Damn, if this is pain, none of this worked. But… I don't think it's pain. "What is it, House? Are you in pain? Talk to me; I'll help you."
House's eyes are wild, unfocused. He's trying to push Wilson away, trying to pull his arms free of Wilson's grasp. When the cardiac monitor starts shrieking in loud protest at House's elevated heart rate, the noise startles House badly; he's so frightened now that he's doing everything he can to get loose, trying to move his legs off the bed, struggling to get away from Wilson, away from--something. Wilson chances removing one hand from House's arm to reach out and silence the alarm.
Wilson's been trying as gently as possible to restrain House, to keep him from hurting himself. But the adrenalin-fueled, terror-stricken man has no such compunctions. As soon as Wilson releases his arm, he swings it up wildly, dislodging the line carrying the steady dose of morphine. Blood wells at the site, then spills down his arm. Wilson catches the arm quickly, and clamps his hand tightly over the IV site, keeps pressure on it; he doesn't know, right now, what the sight of the blood might do to House in his current state.
Now that the morphine line's out, the situation's become an emergency. Wilson wracks his brain trying to think of a way to get House's attention. He's got just one idea, and nothing to lose. "Greg! Greg! Greg, listen, it's Jimmy--I need you. I need you, Greg!"
He can probably count on the fingers of one hand (and have fingers left over) the times during their friendship when he's called House by his first name, and each of those previous times it's been meant to convey comfort or to express hurt. And he can't recall ever saying to House, in words, "I need you." He's praying now that the combination of the name and the plea will be able to reach some area of House's mind unaffected by whatever's causing this stark terror.
And it works. House stops struggling, turns his head to look at Wilson. But wait--his eyes are still confused, still fearful. Despite the oxygen, he’s gasping for breath. His skin is damp, and cold. His heart rate is in excess of 140 and climbing, his blood pressure’s dropping rapidly—and he’s looking through Wilson, not at him. He’s going into shock; God, House—what’s happening to you?
“House, I need you to listen to me very carefully, okay?” House doesn’t respond, just continues staring through Wilson, and there’s still no focus in his eyes, no indication that he’s heard, or recognizes, his friend. But he’s not fighting now; the tension’s left his muscles. He’s almost limp; Wilson’s hands seem to be the only thing holding him up. Okay, we have to deal with the shock first.
Still holding House’s arms, Wilson, trying to keep it simple, easy to understand, says calmly ,”House, lie down,” carefully enunciating each word; he simultaneously attempts to ease House into a recumbent position. But he loses whatever tenuous connection House might have had with reality; House begins to battle again; he’s shouting now.
“You took my leg! You said the deal was off! Why are you back? You can’t have--” And then, in the middle of it, House’s eyes close, his head droops. He’s mumbling something unintelligible, but Wilson is able to make out “no amputation.” Wait a second; he’s not hallucinating, you don’t nod off in the middle of a hallucination—he’s not even awake! He’s dreaming.
“HOUSE!” Wilson yells, “House, wake up!” He shakes House as roughly as he dares.
House lifts his head, has trouble keeping it upright. But he opens his eyes; they’re bleary, but not wild, and this time he’s trying hard to focus on Wilson’s face. “Jimmy,... you’re here….” His voice is faint. “Whassa matter? Why…wake…me?”
“Sorry about that. It’s okay, though. I’m gonna help you lie down now, just relax.” Wilson gently lowers House back down in the bed; this time House acquiesces drowsily to the movement. “You had a really bad dream; that’s all. Everything’s all right now. You’re safe. Just a dream.” House’s eyes, which had been almost closed, fly open again, and Wilson sees panic.
Wilson smiles reassuringly at him, quickly moves the tangled blanket aside, says firmly, “It’s right here, House, look.”
House looks down at his right leg and smiles. “Nasty dream…” he whispers, his voice trailing off as his eyes start to close again.
All the alarms have silenced themselves as House’s vital signs are gradually returning to normal, and now the quiet in the room is profound. Wilson takes the opportunity to pull in a few deep breaths, let the adrenalin drain from him. When he’s feeling calmer, he speaks gently.
“House, sorry to do this to ya, buddy, but I need you to stay with me a minute here. We’ve had a little…incident…with the drip. I need to get it restarted pretty quickly here, is that all right?”
House doesn’t open his eyes. “’Course, Jimmy…veins…outta…my ears….” He tries to lift his arm to give to Wilson. “sorry…made a mess…”
Wilson swallows down hard on a sob. “You didn’t make a mess, House, you didn’t do anything wrong, okay?”
“Din’t?... muss be… losin’ my… touch…” House tries to grin.
Wilson blinks rapidly, to clear the tears away so he can see to insert the new cannula. As he ties the tourniquet and swabs the site, he says, “Okay, it’s okay, just a quick little prick here and we’ll have you and your happy juice reunited in no time. Don’t move your arm, bud, we’ve gotta get this done. Then I’ll let you get back to sleep.”
Somehow, Wilson manages to slide the cannula in and restart the drip. Somehow, he manages to get a pressure dressing on the old site, sponge away the blood, change the gown. Somehow, he gets through a thorough physical assessment, all the while murmuring assurances to House.
Somehow, he achieves the perfect balance between Dr. Wilson ministering to the patient, and Jimmy supporting his friend. And, finally, somehow, he manages to call Cuddy, and tell her, in a voice that would almost pass for normal, that he needs a little break, no hurry, sorry to wake her, whenever she can get here. Just a little break.
He hangs up the phone and goes back to House, who seems restless. He’s positioned on his right side, and apparently asleep, but every couple of minutes he’s making the same motion—left hand moves across his body, and down. Wilson wonders briefly if the catheter had been tugged during the struggle and is causing him discomfort, but as he moves the sheet aside to check, House makes the motion again; Wilson can see now that he’s bringing his hand over to his right leg, but not, apparently, to ease pain. As soon as the fingers make contact with the leg, the hand relaxes and retreats.
“Aw, House, it’s still there—your leg’s still there.” He’s stunned that House is aware enough to have purposeful movement; it shouldn’t be possible. That’s how bad his fear is—it’s stronger than the sedation. Incredible. Wilson has an idea. “I’m gonna turn you now; we’re gonna go to your left side for a little while, see if that’s more comfortable.” He carefully rearranges the pillows, slowly rearranges House’s body so that he’s lying on his left. Then he picks up House’s right hand and places his arm gently along the ruined thigh, and House smiles, allows himself to finally relax, lets the morphine pull him under again.
It’s not even three full minutes later, though, when Wilson sees House start. His arm has fallen to his side, and he’s trying to get it back to the leg. Wilson returns his arm to its position, and makes a decision. House is so weak; the desperate struggle of the dream has sapped the last of whatever thin reserves he’d had. He’s got to sleep. Wilson draws up a bolus of 5mg morphine and injects it into the line.
House sighs as the drug hits, and Wilson does too. He collapses into the chair, haggardly rests his forehead on the arm of the recliner. Just for a minute….He’s getting ready to lift his head, needs to get a current set of vitals to go with the morphine bolus, when he feels a light touch in his hair. He opens his eyes, startled, and realizes that it’s House.
Maybe I’m the one who’s dreaming! He shouldn’t be able to move... But then, the hand makes a weak, awkward patting motion on his head. He turns his head slowly towards House, and he sees him struggle to get his eyes open halfway, watches as he fights so desperately to hold them open so that he can meet Wilson’s eyes.
“’S’okay, Jimmy,” House whispers, so faintly that it’s almost like an unvoiced thought in Wilson’s mind. He strains to hear as House, with superhuman effort, continues to speak; “We’re safe…s’okay…I’m…here….” The weary blue eyes close then, and Wilson feels the hand resting on his head grow heavy and still; House has finally, truly, found his way back to the quiet, comfortable place inside the medication, and, for a while at least, he’s found his own peace.
Wilson doesn’t move yet; he can’t—he’s overcome by the extraordinary gift House has given. He comforted me; he overcame weakness and sedation to do it, he overcame himself to do it, and he wanted to comfort me. He allows the warm weight of House’s hand resting on his head, the enormity of what House has done, to continue to soothe him.
And that is how Cuddy finds them, five minutes later, when she unlocks the door and enters.
And on to the next: Chapter Twenty-Five: Weak