PEANUT BUTTER & BLOOD
Wilson winces—again. Not at the site of the huge, snow-white dressing obscuring House’s left knee, but at his own incipient headache, threatening to become full-blown any minute now.
“Tell me again,” he says slowly to House, “Exactly how you managed to do…” His hand waves in the general direction of House’s knee, “this.”
House sighs with mock patience. “I’ve told you twice. Lucky for you I believe in thorough patient histories. So let’s try it again. Slower this time. And—just for you—I’ll leave out some of the harder words.”
House has the left leg propped on the coffee table; Wilson has to step over it to take a seat next to House on the couch. Once he’s seated, he pronounces, “Ready. I think,” and begins to rub at his temples; House rolls his eyes.
“Well, it’s simple, really. And dull. Uh... the story's dull; the glass wasn't. I dropped a jar of peanut butter. It broke. And you weren’t here," House continues accusingly, "So I had to clean it up all by myself. Glass, like I said. Dangerous, and all. Especially to a cripple such as myself.”
It’s Wilson’s turn to roll his eyes. “With you so far. You had an everyday kitchen accident, and you’d decided to handle it like a responsible adult. Gotcha.”
“So I used the edge of the counter, lowered myself down to the floor. I thought. But turns out, I landed on the broken glass. Told you it’s a hazard for us cripples.”
“Yeah, because no able-bodied person ever breaks anything and gets cut during clean-up.” Wilson sighs. “Go on. I’m fascinated with this unique story of domestic crisis.”
“So anyway, that’s pretty much it. Me falling plus shards of lethal glass equals blood. And pain. Lots of both. Pain and blood. Oh, and peanut butter, of course.”
“Wait a minute. Back up. You fell?”
“I think I just said that.”
“No… what you’d previously said was you knelt on the floor. So let’s run the scene in slow motion, shall we?”
House heaves a forbearing sigh. “Simple. I lost my balance, grabbed for the counter, and came down on my knee, on top of sharp foreign objects.”
“You lost your balance… because?”
“I didn’t have my cane.”
And you didn’t have your cane, because?”
“Thought I’d be okay without it.”
This was like questioning a four-year-old about mommy’s broken lamp. “And you obviously thought you’d be okay because you generated new thigh muscle overnight. I’m so happy for you.”
House gives a snort of irritation. “Of course not. I was feeling… good.”
Wilson peers suspiciously at House. “How good?”
“Good enough to run the Boston Marathon—and win,” House says snidely.
Sighing, House says, “Might've had… an… extra Vicodin. Or two. So things were looking up. Until I went down. On the floor. Into danger.”
“’Extra’,” Wilson echoes thoughtfully. “Would that be the same ‘extra’ that the rest of us might define as ‘recreational?’”
Bingo; House goes silent.
“House, you’re a fool. A reckless idiot who actually expected me to be sympathetic. Astounding.”
Defensively, House says, “I was stressed; been a tough week. Not like I’m allowed to have an extra drink or something to relax; could be harmful, you know.”
Wilson snorts, “Not even gonna bother to point out that’s never stopped you before. And you’ll forgive me if I don’t stop right here to commend you on your long, unblemished record of patient compliance.”
“Yeah, yeah—can we just forget all that? I’m bleeding to death here. I called you because I need help, not harassment!”
Wilson eyes the securely taped, amazingly large pressure bandage House had expertly applied prior to his arrival. “Tetanus shot up to date?”
“You flushed it? Cleaned it? Any glass remaining?”
House reluctantly acknowledges yes, yes, and no.
“And you used an antiseptic?”
House huffs. “Well, yeah. World’s just crawling with superbugs, you know!”
Wilson glances around House’s less-than sterile environment and concedes part of that point. “Maybe not the world—but at least this apartment….”
House leans back and says smugly, “Any area lucky enough to have me in it qualifies as the world. Welcome to my world!” He widens his arms expansively.
Wilson shakes his head wearily, says in an undertone, “I can’t believe you had me paged out of dinner for this. It was going so well, too, for a first date.”
“Probably won’t be a second,” House observes with mock sympathy—and a smug expression.
Wilson’s ready to yell, but judging from the glazed and glassy look in House’s eyes, his mellow demeanor, Wilson figures any argument would be just an exercise in diminishing returns. So he settles for a few deep breaths.
“I believe you’ve got everything under control here, Dr. House. So I’ll be leaving now.”
“But Jimmy! I’ve got beer, and porn, and an injury. And if you’d been here, we’d have beer and porn—and I wouldn’t be injured. Don’t you think you at least owe me—”
“Oooh, no. Stop right there. No way are you putting any of this off on me. Not this time. And it’s my considered, professional opinion that the patient will live, thanks solely to your amazing skills with a first-aid kit. I’m going to get back to my date, try to explain. Don’t normally have to explain the whole you thing this soon in a relationship, but then you don’t usually try to bust it up this early, either. So wish me luck.” He studies House’s pouting face. “Or not.”
Wilson starts towards the door, consciously refraining from asking if House will be okay. He’s stopped by a groan. Knowing he’s gonna regret it, he asks wearily, “What’s the matter now?”
“Hurts,” House sulks.
Wilson smiles. “Just sit there and revel in the joy of being alive after such a close brush with mortality. You’ll live, and maybe you’ll even learn something.” A dubious expression settles on his face. “Forgot for a minute who I was talking to; sorry. You’ll live, but we can scratch that whole ‘learning’ thing. Forget I mentioned it, okay?” Hand on the doorknob, he shakes his head in fond exasperation. “G’night, House."
And just before the door closes behind him, he catches a glimpse of House’s grin—House’s surprised, amused, approving grin.