It has been so long that I figured most of you will have forgotten about me completely... well, I'm not dead, as it happens. And I recently, after months, wrote this... It's intense and involves my usual ingredients: angst, friendship, drama and hopefully insight. I thought I'd post it here to notify all of you that I'm still here, and not just those on the fanfic spot. It's really quite long, but it has a certain flow to it (I've heard... you know me, I won't believe its good until someone says so) that makes it very easy to read. This follows House fresh out of Mayfield... the rest will reveal itself along the way. I'm not editing it because that would take ages, but without further ado, I present to you:
Frightened By The Light.
House enters his apartment, dust tickling his nostrils and the icy draft that keeps abandoned places company rushing past him.
The piano keys are stained with disuse and no scattered take out boxes grace the floor, no booty call lurks on speed-dial with a name that matters only when she still has her clothes on. Not the sound of a B-movie so bad that Alan Smithies wouldn't dare to own up to it, nor the reassuring whiff of beer (and Wilson) drifting across his home. Pills are locked away in closets and in cups and underneath tiles and behind books and that, for now, is what makes him feel at home. It's not supposed to be of course: he's supposedly a new man, a fixed man, a clean man, a responsible, functioning adult. He might even be some of those things to some extent and he no longer needs the pills to hide his emotions - he thinks - but the growing aches that don't survive in highly social environments are already beginning to sprout in his leg, heart and head.
He feels lost... could bury himself here and cherish his misery, be back at Mayfield's daunting gates in a week or two. His house is a sacred place for all things miserable... the shrine of the godless and mirthless, the direction these people sneer at depends on where he is.
He can't stay here. He gets a bottle of vicodin from the oddest spot imaginable, which is why it's still available and has not been cleaned out by an eager Wilson on an addict-proofing spree. He needs to have it in his pocket, underneath his fingers so that the option is there... just to be able to make his throbbing muscles ease by knowing that he can, not because he's taking any pills. It's a security blanket now... a palpable placebo. It just hurts so much and the skin on his knuckles is about to rupture and his face is white and his breaths are short and he's a weak broth of the man he used to be... and he's past caring, so far past caring he could cry and scream and pound his fists on the floor.
He can't stay here.
He pockets the pills despite himself and stumbles towards the nearest bus stop with his suitcase still hanging precariously on the very tips of his fingers. He's beginning to get desperate now: it can't always be like this. That's not worth it! Mayfield won't welcome a patient next time if this is what three out of five days will be like: to be subjected to the evil motives and nearly paralysing tantrums of a limb. No matter his efforts then... he wouldn't - couldn't - be able to live that way.
Knocking on the door seems like rocket science as his hands shake like mad when he leans against the doorpost to free one clammy hand. Wilson opens the door with an expression of pleasant surprise that dies once he's able to fathom his friend's less than peachy state.
"Wil- Wilson..." Hoarse, tight, low, exhausted and completely desperate. It hardly matters. House will be out cold in a few minutes, or at least he hopes so.
Strong, warm hands slip under his armpits as he is wordlessly guided to the couch and dropped there like a discarded doll house inhabitant.
"Hey," Wilson says, his brown eyes flooding with characteristic mother-hen concerns... which does not at all mean that House can't appreciate them for the tokens of friendship that they are, because he secretly does.
"Hey," House says, shuddering when a new wave of pain washes over him. He pointedly shoves his face into the couch when he accidentally tears the fabric with a writhing hand.
" 'M sorry... arghhh..." He grips his thigh and lets his breathing spiral out of control, moans and groans loud and soft until he's just crying... he's just crying.
"Hurts." House doesn't register that Wilson is on his knees and right beside him until a straying hand catches his collar.
Wilson's hand clasps over his.
"I know it does, House... I know..." Heedless of his own tears, his own anguish realizing that he can't do anything but sit and watch, he attempts to comfort his friend.
Suddenly, a hysterical laugh erupts painfully and haltering from House's throat. "Look what... w-what they did, Wilson!" He tries to breathe, fails, chokes, laughs again. Laughs again in a way that rips Wilson's heart out.
"They... they m-made me want... to be h-happy... look what they did..." He buries his head in his hands, ragged breaths passing through his fingers and shakes his head so many times he forgets where he is. "I... I... can't be happy... can't do... anything!" Wilson tries to remove House's hands from his face and succeeds for all of two seconds, in which he can see the full extent of House's agony. "It doesn't... matter... I can stop... t-taking pills, hiding my emotions... 'm crying on your couch now... is t-that better?" He chuckles, curling in on himself as a tired whine escapes his throat.
"House, you're scared." Wilson says, gently. "You can't have your vicodin and you were so isolated from your own life in Mayfield that it seemed easy but it just isn't!" He shrugs, embarrassed. "I... I made it sound easy because I wouldn't have to go through it. I wasn't an addict... I also wasn't in pain." He lays a hand on House's shoulder and ever so gently tugs on it. If only House would look at him... "You came out of a mental facility with a new view on life, a new goal. You thought your life was going to be different now, for the better I mean... the things that made you miserable are still here and now... now you want to be happy and it seems even harder than it did before. Even when you're not in pain it's fucking hard to be happy, House! Just look at me!" He laughs a bit, aware that House has turned towards him slightly. "Without the pills, without a pain specialist and some kind of relief from- this... it hurts. It hurts so bad you think you're not going to get away from it ever again and if you were anything but terrified then I would be! It's okay, House... you're allowed to cry. I won't tell..."
House still has his eyes closed. His whole body has gone rigid... it can't be long before he goes out; he's just waiting for it to stop.
"It's going to be okay, House... it won't stay like this forever. Don't panic... breathe. Just breathe." Wilson starts rubbing his back in a circular motion, shushing him.
His free hand is captured and squeezed to death, desperate eyes beg him to take action through the tiniest of slits. "Do... something." A fragile whisper pleads.
"I can't. Not now... not without leaving you alone. I'm not leaving you alone." Not like this. Not until House can mutter through gritted teeth that he's completely and utterly fine. Not until he becomes insistent on insulting Wilson so badly he'll just get out and let House suffer alone.
This is more than pain... they both know that. In Mayfield, House has decided to take on his life with a new approach... turns out he has, in fact, landed himself a completely new life. Now that changes things... that's a different ballgame.
Where House was intimidated by the thought of getting a new guitar, where he has been living in the same apartment for ages, he comes stumbling out of social isolation and falls head first into a new world. A world that hasn't changed around him just because he did. It's all still there, and it is in fact quite a shock to find that the very thing you've denied being for years and years on end has nestled itself in every aspect of your life down to the memories you carry with you when it's not there: his life is miserable. It can only be fixed by changing things... by changing nearly everything, and House just doesn't like that. From the ward where socializing meant sticking a card to your head to a life full of changes, and his leg isn't doing a damn thing to soften the blow.
What does soften at this realization, are Wilson's eyes.
He quietly observes his friend, gripping his hand tightly. He's hardly recognizable, really...
He has lost a fair amount of weight as Wilson knows from junior-patient complaints that hospital foods are mostly ghastly, bland things. It probably serves to motivate you to get out.
Where his hair was thinning before, he's certifiably bald now. A circle in which his now almost exclusively grey hair isn't allowed to come. He's beginning to look, ironically enough, like a monk.
His pallor has brought his skin tone down, as isn't surprising, but House seems so pale the pallet itself has actually changed.
The biggest change are his emotions, which, so far, are completely human. But visible. Painfully visible.
Maybe he has changed... maybe he just can't help it. That's fine. This would have to be an eight on the pain scale, maybe even a nine. For Wilson, that would translate into an eleven: Pain worse than you could ever realistically imagine feeling.
"This... this is s-stupid..." House attempts to let go of Wilson's hand and turn his back on him again, but finds that he can't.
"This is fine. It's okay to feel sometimes, House. Look where not letting yourself do it took you. I'd rather have you crying on my couch than on Nolan's!"
"Fair... fair enough." House's attempts to breathe become more substantial now, as do Wilson's reinsurances...
Wilson kneels by the couch, hands hovering above House's twitching thigh... he knows that House will be rendered unconscious by the pain as soon as his fingers even almost touch him.
Would that be worth it? Worth the pain he would cause?
He could get House comfortable on the water-bed and speed like mad on the way to the hospital to get emergency supplies should the need arise. Provided he works fast and efficient, like a doctor of some kind, he could be back well before House regains consciousness and actually do something to help his friend, rather than having him pass out from exhaustion sometime tonight, when Wilson, in all fairness, is likely to follow suit.
"Don't... touch me, Wilson. J-Just... don't." That's the spirit... too bad it still sounds soulless and less desperate, but still desperate. Un-House like... whatever that may be nowadays, it simply can't be this.
Of course, Wilson abandons the plan immediately. It might have been stupid, but it came from a good heart... a frantic one perhaps, but he truly only wants to be able to help his friend.
"Want to go to the hospital and get some supplies... some things to stop this. Or we could... bring you in?" Wilson tries, gently. It might work... he isn't sure what they could do for him, though: as an official recovering addict with so many traumatized nurses, interns and doctors weary of his efforts that his access to any kind of relief must be fought for harder than he can manage right now. It's the simple truth that travels with him now that he has been officially marked as an ex-addict. Relapses are far too common and drug seeking behaviour differs from actual agony only on one key symptom: pain. They cannot feel his pain, thus they might not believe it's there. The infarction got dismissed because of that.
Wilson however, lovable, kind, agonizingly polite Jimmy Wilson, gets what he wants and goes, cheerful greetings expressed to him along the way. He is, in some ways, a better actor than House... but lets be fair, this amount of pain simply does not leave room for any real façade.
"They... w-w-wouldn't believe me... I'm not... that good, Wilson..." Wilson actually laughs at that. He stays alongside House and tries to comfort him as best he can for about fifteen minutes, until the gentle pull of unconsciousness proves too much for House to resist.
When confronted with all the changes House would have to make, Wilson vowed to himself that the twisted thing, dubbed "friendship", they've shared over the years would serve as a constant... That can't really be done. It has already changed. Emotions, nor affection have been transferred between them like this before. It might be the fear. Yes... to a large extent it is their mutual fear of what will happen in House's life that has caused them to interact like this, but the trust there must be between them can't be underestimated.
Wilson carries his nearly featherweight friend to bed with a forlorn expression on his face.
Stripping him of his coat, shoes and shirt before he tucks him in tightly, making every effort not to disturb the leg and place it on a pedestal of pillows, Wilson exits with a sigh.
The drive to the hospital passes quickly, quicker than state law would have allowed, that is...
He quickly helps himself to a sedative and some morphine if need be. At least tonight, need be, so he hurries homeward and forgoes filling Cuddy in because he doesn't know what state House will be in when he wakes up. Whether he'll panic or not, whether the limb so evil it's talked about as if it has a life of it's own decides to lay off or not...
When he arrives home, House is staring at the ceiling, pain still on his face.
"I'm sorry." He says.
Wilson frowns, sadly. "I told you, House, it's fine!" Wilson stresses, sitting down on the bed so slowly House's leg doesn't protest to the movement.
"No, Wilson... I'm sorry." House repeats, sounding utterly sad and embarrassed this time.
"About what, House?" Wilson asks, anxious and concerned simply because he doesn't know anything that House should or could be sorry about.
Wilson gets his answer when House weakly presses his precious vial into Wilson's hand. It's still intact. He hasn't even opened it...
"House!? House... what... why would you...?" Wilson stutters, shocked. House fidgets with the sheets and watches his fingers do so. When he speaks next, his voice is barely audible and still heavily strained by pain and exhaustion... less than before though.
"I haven't... taken anything... I swear." His intense gaze is aimed at Wilson, offering a once in a lifetime view of his sadness. "I... I... I hid it... somewhere. N-Needed it when I realized... it was going to be this hard.... I needed to feel like... like I had an option. Wasn't going to take any... I... just having it... makes me feel b-better." By the end of this sentence, House is fairly choked up and behaving like a child that knows it has been naughty and awaiting punishment. It's not entirely foreign to him, after all.
When Wilson's hand touches his shoulder, he startles so violently he hurts his leg. With a yelp and a shameful bow of the head, House settles back.
"I understand, House... But you do realize that I can't leave this with you, right? I mean... I just can't. You have options, you know... talk to Nolan, to me... anyone! I mean, hey..." House just isn't looking at him, doesn't believe him at all... Wilson sees only one thing left to do: He gets behind House as careful as he can and pulls him into a fierce hug. Just... lets him rest against his chest. The sweat he's getting all over himself doesn't matter. What matters are those tiny sounds of pain House makes, the way his chest heaves, the way he buries his chin deep in Wilson's chest... for the first time today he seems at ease, and just before he drifts off to sleep, he brings Wilson such relief he's actually crying just by saying:
"I'm fine, Wilson."
Wilson is able to tear himself away from his friend once he's sure that House is sleeping soundly, and sets about unpacking his suitcase in the living room.
He isn't going home any time soon... not until he actually is fine.
For those of you who made it here, I would certainly appreciate a comment!