Wilson stood at the side of the gurney where his friend lay, his lips slightly parted in an involuntary reaction of shock and horror as his mind tried to process the horrific words House had just spoken. He shook his head slightly, a part of his mind denying it still, refusing to believe that such an awful thing could have happened.
No...not to him...not to House...
House was studying his expression, his eyes wide and more vulnerable than Wilson was used to seeing them, as he tried to gauge his friend's reaction. After a few brief moments, he averted his eyes in shame, swallowing hard before rasping out a few whispered words.
"Don't...don't look at me like that, Wilson. It's not that...I mean...it's no big..."
Wilson's heart broke for House again when he could not even bring himself to form the words of the comforting lies he was trying to tell, trying desperately to avoid the soft sympathy he must have seen on Wilson's face. Despite his best efforts, he was fooling no one - not his best friend, who knew him better than anyone else, and certainly himself.
It was that bad.
It was a very big deal.
Not knowing what to say or do, Wilson reached out a hand to touch his friend's shoulder, trying to offer what little comfort he could, and well aware that words were useless in a situation such as this. He was stunned, though he knew that he shouldn't have been, when House jerked away from his touch with a little gasp, staring up at him in wide-eyed fear that lasted only a moment before he managed to conceal it again.
"Don't...don't touch me," he muttered under his breath. "Just...just don't touch me..."
Wilson waited a moment, putting his words together carefully before he crouched down in front of House and finally spoke, looking him directly in the eye. "I wouldn't...but...that's going to make this exam a little more difficult, House. We've got to be sure there's no...lasting...physical damage."
House nodded quickly, indicating his understanding, but his body was rigid with apprehension, shaken by tremors of shock and fear, and he closed his eyes tightly, shaking his head as if trying to ward off some dark image that was playing itself over and over in his mind. Wilson bit his lip, fighting with his own frustration, trying to think of a way around this understandable but unacceptable impasse.
There was no option; he was not letting House leave until he knew that he was going to be okay.
Wilson blinked in surprise, his head tilting slightly to the side as he gave House a dubious look. It was the last thing he would have expected the other man to want. In as long as he had known him, House had never been one to be willing to relinquish control to anyone else, if he could help it - and that was under normal circumstances. Tonight, House's sense of self-control and security had been violated in a profound and horrific way - and what he was suggesting would be, in a sense, giving over what was left of it to Wilson.
"Are you...are you sure that's what you want?" Wilson hedged cautiously, studying his friend's face, though his eyes were averted.
"Yes," House replied simply. When Wilson said nothing for a few seconds, he finally, reluctantly looked up, to see a single raised eyebrow on his friend's face, a silent request for explanation. He let out his breath slowly, closing his eyes as he finally whispered, his voice halting and shaky. "I trust you, Wilson, enough to let you sedate me. I know you're gonna keep your word, and I know you're not gonna...do anything I wouldn't want you to do. I wouldn't...wouldn't be here if...if I didn't. But...I think if you touch me right now...I might...forget that I trust you. So...it's better all the way around if you just...put me out for this, okay?"
Wilson's eyes welled with tears, and he tried to will them away, fully aware of House's intent gaze on his face, and knowing that he would hate the sight of the compassion Wilson was feeling for him, would read it as pity and add it to the pile of shameful images that were currently pressing down on his violated spirit.
Wilson cleared his throat, nodding. "Okay," he agreed softly as he turned toward the door, grateful for the excuse to hide his face from his friend. "I'll be right back, I'm just going to go get you a sedative."
As soon as the door to the room closed behind him, Wilson allowed his tears to flow, as he strode quickly down the hallway, his head lowered to avoid the notice of any passing nurses or other night staff. Once he was sure that he was a safe enough distance from House's room to avoid the other man's either hearing, or coming out into the hall and finding him, Wilson stepped into a tiny alcove off the side of the hallway, leaned his head against the wall in front of him, and allowed the sobs he had been holding back to come.
It was unbelievably painful, seeing House like this - House, who was always, at least outwardly, so self-assured, so unshakably confident. Rather than hold the tears back any longer, Wilson just let them fall, staring down at the glistening, clear drops on the floor at his feet as he tried not to think about the specifics of what his friend had been through.
Get it out now...any tears, any wavering...'cause you can't let it out once you get back in there, he mentally lectured himself. House doesn't need to see you crying...it'll just make it harder for him; so get it out...and get back in there...
Wilson spun around, startled by the sudden voice at his back, though it was soft and uncertain, as if the speaker was afraid to intrude. He found himself face to face with a young female nurse - Maria? Marina? - who had apparently gotten stuck with overnight duty due to her newness to the hospital team, staring up at him through wide dark eyes filled with concern.
"Is everything okay, Dr. Wilson?" she asked. "Is there anything I can do?"
Swiping a hand across his eyes, embarrassed, Wilson moved awkwardly past her, back out into the hall, forcing a smile that would have been much more convincing if not for the tears that still stained his face.
"Everything's fine, it's just...um...personal. Sorry," he mumbled, heading swiftly down the hall, in the opposite direction from House's room, before she could pursue the topic. The last thing either he or House needed was for this to become the latest gossip in the hospital hallways.
He walked the circle of the halls until he was close to where he had started, taking a detour to the closest men's room along the way to wash his face and ensure that he did not look like too much of an emotional wreck before facing whoever might be on duty in the dispensary. Fortunately, it was deserted, and he simply let himself behind the counter and took the appropriate dosage of the sedative he needed, without making any kind of notation about it on the sign-out form.
If I handle this right...no one needs to ever know he was even here tonight...
In the quiet of the empty hospital room, alone with his thoughts, House fought not to give into the agonizing memories, still so horrifically fresh in his mind - but it was a losing battle. Their voices, their hands on his body - all were as near as if it was still happening to him, right then.
"Wilson..." he croaked out, glancing over his shoulder toward the door, though not attempting to turn over, not with the amount of pain he was in.
And there was no answer. Wilson had gone...somewhere...to get...something. He couldn't quite remember where and what through the rising panic that filled his thoughts.
He was alone.
They could come back...they could have followed me...could be watching...waiting until I'm alone...and...and I am alone...no...no...no...!
He thought he was alone in the parking garage, as he made his way slowly toward his bike, ready to go home and spend another night alone with the television. Ordinarily on a Friday night such as this, Wilson would come over with him, and they would order pizza and watch movies, and the lonely boredom of his apartment would be dispelled, at least for a little while.
Tonight, however, Wilson was working late - and House was on his own.
But not for long.
He didn't think much of it as the dark blue sedan pulled into the spot next to where his motorcycle was parked. He didn't even think much of it when the passenger doors opened, and four guys got out. He froze in place, however, when the driver got out of the car, smiling a familiar, coldly smug smile in his direction.
That moment's hesitation cost him - well, everything.
By the time he reacted, two of the men were already behind him - large men, bulky and tall and stronger than him - and when he swung at them with his cane, one of them just snatched it from him, pulling him off balance and causing him to fall to his side on the cold cement. Before he could even think of moving, his arms were yanked behind his back, his wrists swiftly bound with something cold and metal and biting - handcuffs - and he saw the driver of the car approaching him, slowly, patiently, as if he had all the time in the world, and no concern whatsoever about getting caught.
He felt someone digging roughly into his pockets, knew when they took the keys to his motorcycle, but was helpless to stop them; and besides - he knew that he would be lucky to get out of this with no worse than a stolen motorcycle.
He tried to yell out for help, kicking out with his feet as best he could, but the one who had taken his cane brought it down with painful impact on his bad leg, twice, just as something was pulled over his head - a bag of some kind, or maybe a pillowcase - and a fist in the fabric twisted behind his head, pulling it tighter and tighter across his mouth and nose until he could barely draw breath. Panicked, he struggled, but the fight was useless as a heavy knee was planted in the small of his back, pushing him over onto his stomach and making it impossible for him to free himself.
His head was yanked back by the pillowcase over his head, and he heard a soft, familiar voice whisper in his ear in a mockery of soothing reassurance.
"Shhh...settle down, now. Wouldn't want you to hurt yourself, would we?"
As he spoke, the man twisted the pillowcase tighter, cutting off his air supply completely - and House went still, ceasing his struggles in a desperate attempt to get it back, his body taut and trembling with the strain of the terrifying situation in which he had suddenly found himself.
"Good...that's good..." the cold voice murmured, clearly pleased. "You're gonna be nice and quiet and cooperative, aren't you, Dr. House?" The man holding the pillowcase roughly moved his head up and down in a parody of assent, before ceasing the motion and demanding in a leading voice, "Aren't you?"
Weak from lack of oxygen and the searing pain in his leg from the blows it had taken, House wearily nodded on his own, afraid that if he didn't, he would be suffocated to death right there, and he could not allow that to happen. As long as he was alive, he had a fighting chance.
Before the hour was over, he would wish that he had allowed it to happen.
As he was forcibly dragged into the waiting sedan, his familiar captor beside him, House's heart sank, and his mind clouded with panic, as he realized that he was being taken away from any source of help, any semblance of safety - and would likely never be returned to it again.
As Wilson approached House's room, he was immediately aware that something was terribly wrong.
He could hear the sounds of distress - moaning and muffled sobs and pleas - from the hallway outside the room. As he neared the door, he noticed with dismay, a nurse approaching from the other end of the hall, a frown of concerned confusion on her face.
When she saw him, the nurse pointed out unnecessarily, "That room's supposed to be empty..."
"Wilson," House's ragged voice called plaintively from inside the room, and Wilson could only hope that it's unusually hoarse quality and the muffling effect of the door would keep the nurse from recognizing his voice.
"It is," Wilson snapped, moving swiftly to stand in front of the door and prevent her entrance, his eyes blazing with protective determination as he added before she could protest, "Go back to your station and do your job. This has nothing to do with you."
The sound of his voice tore at Wilson's heart, and the young doctor closed his eyes, fighting back a fresh wave of tears, before opening them again on the nurse, shaking his head slightly, rapidly, with one hand extended in a questioning gesture, as if to ask, Why are you still here?
She raised a brow dubiously, trying to see around him through the windows, though it was impossible with the shades drawn. "Dr. Wilson, is everything...?"
"Everything's fine," he cut her off abruptly, in a tone that belied his words. Then, softer, he added, "Everything's going to be...just fine. I just need you...to walk away. All right? Trust me. You don't need to know what's going on. I can handle it?"
Can you? Can you really?
His subconscious taunted him with whispered doubts, even as his heart flooded with relief when the nurse finally backed down, shaking her head and muttering to herself as she made her way back down the hall the way she had come.
Unsure what sort of nightmare flashback House might be having, or what he could do about it, or if he was anything even remotely approaching ready to deal with this at all, Wilson took a deep breath and opened the door to his friend's room, then stepped resolutely inside.