Chapter 6: The Truth
His hands shook, despite the fact that the sticks in his hands weighed less than a ham sandwich.
Cuddy puttered along beside him, keeping her eyes peeled for anything larger than a twig as the sun blew a goodnight kiss to the glistening snow.
“You think I reduced his shoulder correctly?”
Wilson turned to her dumbly, taking a moment to figure out what she was talking about.
“Cuddy, I think everyone within a three mile radius heard that thing pop into place,” he said.
“Let’s hope so,” she said humorlessly.
Wilson chuckled almost inaudibly. Then, to reassure her, he said, “You twisted the humerus and it slid back in, end of story. Granted, there are less painful ways of doing it, but…”
“But,” she continued, “I wasn’t too concerned about causing House pain at the time.”
She flashed Wilson a devilish smile, which Wilson returned half-heartedly. “Plus, I think he would’ve noticed by now if you screwed up his shoulder,” he mused.
Wilson saw her brow furrow, remembering that he was talking to someone whose air of confidence was not nearly as genuine as she liked people to believe.
She shook her head. “You know he’d never mention it if it was bothering him, though.”
The words escaped her lips in a tone that didn’t quite reach suspicion, but somehow the comment had an importance to it that reached well beyond that of typical conversation.
Or maybe Wilson was imagining it. He felt like a six year-old caught in a lie he shouldn’t have told in the first place. Except, this wasn’t a petty theft from the local grocery store. This was his life, his health. He was risking his health by lying, but somehow he felt as if he’d be risking his life by telling the truth.
So Wilson did what six year-olds do best, and lied.
“Maybe…he doesn’t mention it because he knows it wouldn’t make a difference.”
Then, on her look, he frantically continued. “I mean, w-we can’t make him better out here, so maybe he keeps it to himself…for our sake, like he doesn’t want us to worry about him.”
Wilson wondered if any of that was even remotely true for House. Apparently, so did Cuddy.
“Wilson, how long have you known him? Since when has House ever done something for someone else’s sake?”
In actuality, Wilson thought he could remember numerous times where House had considered somebody else, namely Stacy. He put the toilet seat down, opened doors for her, and let her watch General Hospital until he himself was hooked.
There was one time House only thought of himself, of his life, and his leg. That's when things started to go bad.
But for simplicity’s sake, Wilson thought of something recent. “This trip,” he said. “House didn’t need that gift card; he can buy a new guitar any time he wants, but he came anyways.”
Cuddy’s lips grew thin as she considered it.
“I think after a few more sticks we should head back to the car,” she said quietly.
“Does that hurt?”
House took his hand off of Chase’s knee and looked him in the eye. “Save your displays of manliness for the rugby field. Right now, I just want to know if it hurts.”
Chase’s eyes softened a bit as he said, “Yeah, it hurts.”
House revised his squat to a clumsy sit while he got a closer look at Chase’s leg. “Hold still,” he said.
For some reason, Chase founds these words less than comforting.
House began straightening out Chase’s leg, weakly pushing in Chase’s foot with his right hand while feeling around for any causalities up by his knee with his less useless left hand. House couldn’t help the twitches of amazement on his face as he watched the joint move in ways you wouldn’t expect to see on Gumby…let alone a living person.
It took him a minute to realize that the “Ow ow ow please stop” was coming from Chase.
House put his leg down and snorted, “How are ever going to play rugby if you can’t suck it up and act like a man, Chase?”
Chase glared, rubbing his knee.
“Well,” said House, leaning back into the snow, “your ACL’s definitely torn, as is your meniscus…not to mention that your leg is hairier and creepier than a Furby.”
“Thanks for the reassurance.”
“You’re welcome. Now hand me that roll of duct tape.”
Chase looked confusedly at the roll of duct tape that had been tossed carelessly in the snow next to him, along with a First Aid kit containing only gloves and Band-Aids, Cuddy’s purse, a flimsy pair of kids scissors, a stray tampon or two from Cuddy’s purse, a bag of Fritos, Angels and Demons (which was actually Harry Potter), an empty Sprite bottle, a spare coat that obviously was the product of Wilson’s borderline OCD, a plastic knife and fork, a cracked PSP, and a Gravedigger hat.
“What are you going to do with duct tape?”
“I’m going to wax you, OR splint your knee. Whichever sounds kinkier.”
House gave him the “gimme” sign, and after some hesitation, Chase obeyed.
House bit the edge of the tape and held it in his teeth while his left hand began to roll out a substantial piece. His right hand just laid in his lap and watched—if his right arm had a brain, that is.
About an arm’s length of tape out, House paused, and looked at Chase with a pair of squinty eyes and a frown. “You’re still a doctor, right?” he said.
Chase nodded suspiciously.
House handed him the roll, which was now hopeless taped around itself, and said, “Physician, heal thyself.”
Chase took the tape gratefully, as if the very notion of House touching his battered limb was downright macabre. He began wrapping it around, wincing slightly, but feeling better with each rotation of the powerful adhesive. He indicated House’s leg. “Looks like now I know what it’s like.”
House nodded absently, but didn’t say anything. Even if Chase broke both his legs and dipped his feet in battery acid, he still wouldn’t get close to knowing what it was like.
House spent the next five minutes staring at the place where he landed behind the car, or rather where he was dragged by a very paranoid best friend, his eyes locked on something unseen in the snow.
After Chase had finished, House leaned forward once more and told Chase to empty Cuddy’s purse.
“Why?” asked his fellow.
“I need a sewing kit,” said House, not quite looking chase in the eye.
“To stitch something up.”
“Me? I’m fine.”
Chase tilted his head, “What makes you think she’ll even have one?”
House rolled his eyes. “You’ll notice she gave us the treat of not buttoning the first button on her jacket today. That’s not because she loves us, it’s because that first button’s about to fall off, and anyone as anal as Cuddy is bound to have a backup plan if that puppy does decide to take the perilous plunge.”
Satisfied, and fairly impressed, Chase reached over to Cuddy’s purse and dumped it out, as his upbringing prevented him from actually sticking his hand into a woman’s purse.
The sewing kit was in a blue box.
Neither one of them talked on the way back.
It wasn’t until the car was in sight that Wilson noticed the tears streaming down Cuddy’s cheeks.
“Hey,” he said, stopping her, “what’s the matter?”
She shook her head, indicating that the issue should be dropped and that they should continue walking, but Wilson wouldn’t let that happen. He dropped his pathetic collection of firewood at his feet and put a hand on each of her shoulders.
“Cuddy…don’t think for a minute that this is your fault.”
She let out a shaky breath, trying to avoid a swiftly approaching sob. “I was the one driving. It was my responsibility to keep you guys safe.”
Wilson shook his head dismissively. “And it was the other driver’s responsibility to not drive like a drunken ass. He screwed up, Cuddy, not you. You did everything right. None of us would’ve done any different.”
She stared at her feet, ashamed to let him see her cry, but the tears still rolled off her nose like a leaky faucet.
Wilson tilted his head over so he could look her in the eyes. “If we hit that guy head-on, we’d be dead.” He smiled, hoping she might do the same. “Cuddy…we’re alive because of what you did.”
She looked up at him, now crying for a completely different reason.
She wrapped her arms around him, but he flinched.
Wilson looked around, as if the perfect lie were carved into one of these pathetic excuses for trees. “Nothing, I—“
Wilson had never been so glad to hear House’s voice. He turned around to find the ornery doctor closing in on he and Cuddy with somewhat remarkable speed. He looked angry. On second thought, Wilson was sure that he had, at one point, been happier to hear House’s voice than he was right now. Wilson got surer of this fact with every step that brought House closer to him.
After about 15 terrifying seconds, House was close enough to speak without yelling, but he yelled anyway.
“Wilson, are you in denial?’
Wilson looked to Cuddy, who looked equally, if not more confused than he did.
House took his cane out of the snow and poked the tip firmly into Wilson’s right side, dropping Wilson to his knees with a yelp.
“I’m sorry Wilson, could you repeat that?”