I wrote this just because the ideas kept rolling around in my head as the show is ending. It's a little more drama, a little less funny than my usual stuff. I'm working something out. Hope you enjoy it.
Oh, and I don't own these clowns. But the circus is over and we gotta go home.
[H] [H] [H]
"You know I'm gonna die, right?" Wilson finally asked.
House gave him a sideways glance from his side of the sofa.
"You know losing thirty pounds in three weeks, your hair falling out, and pretty much looking like pile of shit isn't hiding it very well, right?"
They continued staring at the television. A nature program about bears was on the screen, with a "picture-in-picture" inset of Girls Gone Wild.
"What are you going to do?" Wilson asked.
"When you die?" Wilson nodded. "Haven't given it much thought," House answered. "The question is," he continued, "Why are you thinking about what I am going to do when you die. You'll be dead."
"You're worrying," House scolded. "Worrying from beyond the grave has to be symptomatic of some sort of neurological problem. The tumor has spread to your brain."
They were silent a while. House sipped his drink.
"You gonna expand your office suite into my side?" Wilson asked.
"Already have the plans drawn up," House answered. "Contractors are booked all through May, though, so if you take too long I'm fucked."
Wilson sighed and smiled a little. House glanced at him again. "I can't have them moving someone else in there," he explained.
[H] [H] [H]
Against his wishes, Wilson died on a mild spring afternoon in a Princeton-Plainsboro hospital room. House couldn't be with him every minute and when he lost consciousness outside his apartment building someone called an ambulance, he was brought in, and once you're in, well... There was no "getting better" for Wilson.
House tried to take the edge off by plastering his hospital room windows with pin-up girls, to block the gawkers. He basically moved in, bringing the comforts of home to Wilson.
He was paged when Wilson's vitals suddenly plummeted, but there was nothing to do really. He limped in to find Wilson already gone, even if his blood was still warm. He stared at him as the other people slowly ebbed away.
People always avert their eyes after the time of death is called. House's eyes bored into Wilson's body, searching for any remnant his friend's connection to this piece of meat on the bed. He knew it was the same search that fueled the ludicrous ideas of religions and superstitions. He knew it was a search motivated by fear of death, fear of being alone.
Thing is, even when you know all that, you're still a person. Even if you only loved one other person, well, you loved. Even a sonofabitch wants to understand the point.
[H] [H] [H]
House felt the ripple of tension as he limped through the halls of the hospital during the next days. Returning from prison had been less awkward. In that case, people still felt comfortable hating him. With his best and only friend dead, no one wanted to ignore the man, but no one wanted to talk to him. It took him two days before he realized that he hadn't spoken aloud to anyone since Wilson died. No one had dared.
[H] [H] [H]
The funeral was packed. Oncologist. Young. Zillions of amicably separated soul mates. This was the kind of funeral made for television soaps and life insurance commercials. There were so many people from the hospital, past and present, that it eerily resembled a "This is Your Life" game show. House saw Cameron, back to auburn, but shorter - a shoulder length that just made her look more like a little girl playing dress-up in her pearls and black sheath. She came over and hugged him without hesitation. "I'm so sorry, House" she whispered.
She stepped back and let one of her hands fall to his, which hung slack at his side. "If I can do anything…" It hung there. She knew it was a stupid concept and that that was all he could think in response. He gave her a single nod of his head.
He saw Thirteen in a corner, talking with Chase. He saw her hand trembling at her side and the circles under eyes. She was getting worse, and the Xenazine was probably giving her insomnia.
He saw Stacy, but he'd seen her already. She'd been by his place with food and her admirable ability to ignore his ignoring of her. She took care of business, making sure he was functioning, and respectfully left.
Then he saw her, of course. He saw her hair first. The back of her head. She was sitting next to Foreman in a spot a dozen or so rows ahead of him. Her hair was loose over the grey tweed shoulders of her suit. She leaned toward Foreman and said something and Foreman nodded. He responded and Cuddy's hand reached out and lay on his chest for a moment, a gesture of comfort. He saw a hint of her profile as she pursed her lips, then said something back with a furrowed brow.
There was an ambiguous religious ceremony that matched Wilson's ambiguous religious life. There were people who spoke, of course. Tons. Childhood friends. Relatives. Wilson had maintained a whole life outside of House, somehow. The thought was a sarcastic comment using Wilson's voice flying through House's mind like a ghost.
When House's name was called, he rose and walked up to the front with his eyes cast on the floor. He knew he had to do this, to make this smallest of gestures to honor the role Wilson had played in his life, but he still resented it. Why, because of a tumor that had stopped his friend's life, did he have to share his thoughts with strangers? Why did he have to find words to exhibit that thin line between appropriate grief and ridiculous devastation? Why did people need this shit?
He stepped to the podium and finally looked up at the people staring back. His eyes met hers immediately, but briefly. He wasn't foolish enough to think delivering Wilson's eulogy to Cuddy was going to make this any easier. He found Cameron's and began.
"As far as I can tell," House began, "Wilson was either a masochist or an idiot." He heard the few expected gasps and murmurs, but with an audience full of PPTH employees, it wasn't as dramatic as he'd expected. He saw the corners of Cameron's eyes crinkle with a tiny smile.
"How else do you make sense of a guy who was perpetually getting married," House offered as evidence. "Or who specialized in the most depressing of medical specialties. Or who met a guy with no friends and decided to become his best friend."
I realize at this sort of thing I'm supposed to have some pithy theme to help us all get to closure," he groused. "Opposites attract or He made me a better guy or He was a jolly good fellow." House swallowed hard. He felt the anger stage that he'd thought had passed sprouting up again and he knew it was neither the time nor place, but he also knew that knowing that made no difference to him. He reached in his pocket and slipped a life preserver into his mouth, crowd be damned.
"The truth is, it's random how we all meet. A birthplace, a college choice, a job offer. How we find each other is irrelevant. Who sticks has to make some sense, though. Who we choose to continue meeting, again and again, when it isn't mandated by a paycheck, means something."
I can't accept that I was fated to meet Wilson or that he was my soul mate or any of that crap," House stated. "I can accept that the fact that our choice to eat together daily, sleep on each other's couches, and say great and horrible things to each other meant something."
So then I'm left with what, exactly? What did it mean? A psychiatrist would say that I am a mess and he was codependent. A Zen master would say that Wilson craved and feared chaos and I crave and fear peace and we gave each other that. A Catholic would say Wilson was trying to save me and I was trying to tempt him. People at work would say he was a moron and I use morons."
But here's what it really meant… Here's your axiom. The truth is all we want. Wilson told me what he thought, about me and my actions, about himself, and about the world. And when I did the same, he could take it. And then that's all there was between us. Truth. So when reality sucked, it sucked being around each other. And when reality was decent, which is as good as reality gets, it was decent being around each other. But we kept meeting up, sucky or decent, because it was our connection to the truth. Without the pleasantries and the pretense and the other lies that people like to call a relationship we actually got to see reality when we were together. Good or bad."
And I stared at his body after he died and he did it for me again. The truth is he's dead. He's not an angel on my shoulder or a whisper in the wind." House cleared his throat a little, thick with grief. "He's dead… And I'm worse off… So he mattered."
House stepped down and limped back to his seat, biting the inside of his cheek. The solemn silence following his words was appropriately tense. It was the truth. Burn your incense, cast your eyes skyward, but he's still dead, even if no one but Wilson's pulse-less body was willing to let on.
[H] [H] [H]
Good God, the lineup of ritualistic meetings was unending. After the ceremony, there was a luncheon that everyone was supposed to attend. House knew that anthropologically this all started not so much to honor the dead as to help those most grieving not to be alone where they could do something rash. It was all very false and contrived and meaningless.
But he went… He didn't want to be alone, where he could do something rash.
Cameron, ever his protector, found him and chattered on about minutia, peppered with meaningful deep stares and tight-lipped smiles. He had never been so grateful for her in their entire relationship, even though she'd practically wiped his professional ass for him. He didn't know how to do these annoying things, but he felt like he needed to because it was Wilson's annoying thing, and Cameron's presence helped ease the way.
Still, as people got food and had quiet conversation about topics other-than-Wilson, he found himself getting angry. He popped another pill and let the narcotic fog envelop him. When that still didn't help, he used the next opportunity when his baby-sitter strutted off to shake an old hand to rise and walk to the door.
He was almost able to escape when he heard a throaty, "House" behind him. He stopped and looked over his shoulder. She looked small, tinier than he remembered.
Her eyes had a hint of wetness in them, but her posture was armored and ready. Shoulders squared, one hand on her hip. She was aggressive, pursuing him in conversation, but she was terrified.
"Hey, Cuddy," he said back, frozen. Talk about truth. The what-the-fuck-is-this hung between them like the gunk between a shoe and the street. Could be discarded bubblegum. Could be a pile of shit. Both sucked, but there were levels of suckiness.
"You did good," she told him. He furrowed his brow. "The eulogy," she specified.
His face relaxed and he nodded.
"I was jealous," she confessed.
"That Wilson had cancer?" She shook her head, chuckling at his ever-blunt manner. "That my best friend died?" He offered again.
"I wish we'd found that truth between us," she explained. House's body relaxed a little and he turned, not toward the gathering, but not toward the door. He stood at a non-committal perpendicular angle between the two. "I mean, your point, I think, was that we'd all like to have that with somebody. Something that was true," she continued. There was a long pause. She swallowed and looked hard at him. "But I wish I'd found it with you."
"The truth can hurt, Cuddy," he reminded her.
"Lies don't not hurt," she countered. House blinked. She had a point. He turned back to leave. "Tell me something true," she asked his back. He stopped again, for a moment, then continued walking.
"I miss you," he called back. Cuddy's face scrunched up, trying to keep it together. He looked over his shoulder at her. "Hurts, don't it?"
[H] [H] [H]
House sat at his piano, playing and thinking over his deduction of his and Wilson's friendship. Wilson could be the fakest, most polite, politically correct, doting poser ever. But he hadn't pulled that crap on House. So maybe House had influenced him, helped him see the freedom in his approach. But it hadn't changed how Wilson acted with others, at least in not in any dramatic way. And House didn't bring that out in anyone else. So why did they work that way? What were the elements to this formula, save the bullshit about being eternally bonded?
He respected Wilson, even when he disagreed with him. At least Wilson could explain why he made the choices he did, ludicrous as they were, and he suspected Wilson felt the same way about him. He didn't want to fuck Wilson, which is basically why this kind of honesty never occurred in romantic relationships.
His phone rang. The number was unfamiliar, but he picked up because the distraction would do him some good..."Hey," Cuddy said… Or not. "I'm downstairs. Can I come up?"
House swallowed the last of his scotch. "Yeah," he replied. He hung up and limped to the door to open it. He sat on the couch.
"Little dramatic, don't you think, Cuddy?" he asked her when he heard her click in, stowing her things on the table.
She gave a snorty little laugh. "Oh, gee. Sorry. I was gonna just drive my car into your living room, but you live on the second story."
He laughed. He laughed out loud which he hadn't done since four days ago when Wilson told him he'd willed him his toupee. "Touché."
She sat next to him on the couch, kicked off her heels and propped her feet alongside his on the coffee table. They sat in a friendly silence. It was like a big exhale.
"I knew something would bring me back here," she said finally.
"Oh, cut the crap," he scolded. "Did you hear nothing of what I preached today, sinner?"
"Something didn't bring you here, especially if by something you mean Wilson's death. You're here because you want to be here, so don't pretend it's against your will."
"Fair enough," she replied. "But I don't know why I want to be here. Is that allowed? Can I dare to not know something, House?"
He ignored her chiding. "You miss Wilson and I'm the closest thing you have to him."
He heard her inhale as she considered this. She scratched her ankle with the toe of her other foot "That makes sense," she said, "but that doesn't feel right. Doesn't feel like the reason."
She actually laid her head on his shoulder. He actually rested his hand on her leg. He ran his other hand roughly over his face, trying to wake himself up from this crazy sequence of events. Birds chirped outside.
"When it makes sense, but doesn't feel right, is that your 'truth?'" she asked, "Or is it when it feels right but doesn't make any sense?"
"There's the truth about your feelings and there's the truth about what makes sense," he explained. "People do things for both reasons."
"And if there's no such thing as star-crossed lovers, why after a felony and two years do I still want to be sitting here next to you?" she asked.
"That definitely doesn't make sense," he quipped. "But it isn't because of fate." They sat, thoughtful. "Maybe we had it too," he finally offered.
"We told each other the truth. We just had a different language for it. Sarcasm, silent treatment, manipulation. It was less efficient than Wilson saying I was a cold-hearted addict, but it was still clear. I still always knew what you thought about things. About me."
"Me too," she agreed. "Then why didn't we work?"
"You wanted me to be better," he pointed out.
Wilson wanted you to be better," she countered.
He pondered that hole in his logic until only one thing remained.
"For you, I wanted to be better."
"It's not the truth."
He turned and looked at her. She looked up at him and offered a small smile. He leaned in slightly and kissed her. "Truth is," he told her, "I don't really give a shit what you think anymore."
Cuddy's hand reached up to hold the side of his face. "Then maybe we have a shot this time," she hoped out loud.
He kissed her again, more passionately. They were entangled in each other's limbs and half-removed clothing as they ping-ponged their way down the hall to the bed. He felt the silkiness of her skin against him, her lips sliding softly along his throat. She felt his hands gently bending her, his fingertips pushing hard against her muscles. They writhed and moaned and fucked in the brain-dead way people do when they are terrified of thinking this thing through. He cried out hypocritical things like, "Oh, God," and she pretended not to want him to have changed at all.
After this deluge of grief, the feeling of Cuddy's weight on his hips, her muscles around him, her hands on his chest – Cuddy's weight, muscles, and hands – made him almost cry. He felt a prickly feeling behind his eyes he hadn't felt in a long time. Hearing her familiar little gasps and seeing her tongue slip out to lick her bottom lip as she moved on top of him was like coming home to somewhere. He'd lost his buddy, so he went on home.
How Cuddy felt more stable with this insane man between her legs was beyond her. But if you'd worked on a puzzle for so long – your life's research – and in the end it didn't work, didn't pan out, was missing pieces… Well, it didn't mean you could just stop thinking about it. You wouldn't just put it all away. You'd keep moving the pieces around, trying to make things different. It might be impossible, but it was all you knew.
Cuddy came again and again, like she was making up for two years of not-having-sex with him. He watched her and groped her and finally let his own eyes roll back in his head, going to that momentarily painless place that must be the motivation for this heaven they talk about.
She collapsed on him and he wrapped his arms around her, her legs curling up against the flanks of his body. "Have you ever considered becoming a grief counselor?" he murmured into her hair.
"I took a seminar." He smiled and sighed heavily, the weight of his loss returning to his shoulders.
"I saw a good seminar in the brochure for you too," she said into his chest. She was already snickering, delighted with her own joke.
"Waiting for the punchline…" he said flatly, but smiling at her goofiness.
"How to Win a Girl back in 750 days."
"I looked into that one," he played along.
"Problem is, not everyone wants to give their best friends cancer."
"I'm flattered I was motivating enough," she said.
"Oh, it's not you," he told her. He looked at his watch. "That girl will be back in about 15 minutes."
She propped herself up on her elbows to look at him, her wide smile fading into a more serious stare. "I'm sorry about Wilson." Her eyes welled up.
"Are you crying for Wilson or for me?" he asked her.