rubyjuly: (red motorcycle/house)
[personal profile] rubyjuly
Title: Made Visible
Author: [personal profile] rubyjuly
Fandom: House M.D.
Rating, warning, word count, etc: R. House/Wilson. Set after the series finale. Major character death. Less than 2,000 words.
Disclaimer: Anybody you recognize here does not belong to me.
Summary: There are words and there are deeds, and both have their place.

Author's note: Title comes from the saying that "deeds are love made visible."



They make it to autumn, the first of October marking the beginning of borrowed time, before getting off the road for good.

Wilson knows he's been lagging, the daily miles passing under their bike tires becoming shorter as summer ended, but he feels House watching him, waiting for him to concede.

They hadn't talked much on the road. The days were full of destinations, falling into motel beds at night with his bones still vibrating. For a while, he'd thought they might go on forever, always chasing a good day and smooth pavement.

Denial, he tells himself one night. He's been losing weight despite how many milkshakes House adds to their lunch orders. His belt's snugged up in the last hole and his shirts flap on him.

He chokes twice on his food at dinner one night in Plymouth, New Hampshire. The restaurant's half-empty, but his strangled coughs cause heads to turn. House gets up from his seat and kneels beside his chair. He says nothing, but Wilson feels the weight of House's hand on his back. It stays there, spread wide as a wing between his too-prominent shoulder blades, until he can breathe easily again.

“You're not my dog. I can't decide for you,” House says quietly.

All it takes is a nod, and the journey is over

*

The house is small but has a woodstove in the living room. When it's not lit, House keeps a bottle of bourbon on it. The level goes down faster than Wilson's comfortable with.

They talk now, the words skirting the landmarks of their past.

“I'm worried about you.”

“I'm fine. I'm not the one of us dying.”

“Now, maybe you're fine. But what about later?”

House glares at him over his glass. “I'll be fine.”

“'Jumping off a hotel balcony' fine or 'puking up oxycodone on the living room floor' fine?”

“Just … fine, okay? Besides, I never repeat myself.”

“That's what's got me worried.”

The next day House buys a guitar. Acoustic, not electric. At night when he can't sleep despite how exhausted the struggle for breath leaves him, Wilson can hear House on the porch, his fingertips light on the nylon strings.

*

Winter comes on fast, roaring down from Quebec and through the White Mountains. It's cold out, but it's colder inside. Wilson is frigid inside his skin, as if the nucleus of every cell in his body is going off line in response to the shorter days.

“Move your bony ass over. Your half of the bed is not right down the middle.”

“It's cold.”

“No, it's not. I've been throwing logs in the stove all day.”

“All right, I'm cold.”

There's a rustle as House pulls the sheet back and the double shock of the blast of cold air and the warmth of House's hand on Wilson's forehead.

“No fever.”

“House, please. I'm freezing.”

At most he expects an extra blanket flung over him, but House shucks off his shirt and jeans and climbs into bed. The relief as those long arms and legs wrap around him is almost enough to make him weep. House gives off heat like a furnace, as if his body is burning through life at 8/4 time.

He falls asleep in House's arms, his nose buried in the hollow of House's collarbone, the stubble against his cheek prickling like an old wool blanket.

*

“What do you miss?”

“Nothing.” House's voice is soft and gravely in the early morning darkness.

“Not your mom. Your piano. The puzzles.” He can't bring himself to ask House if he misses his job.

“Nothing,” House says again. There's no lie in his voice.

*

Some things lead to another that's not totally unexpected.

“You've done this before?”

House's hands stop working his shirt buttons loose. “Had sex? How long have you known me?”

“Not like this, though.”

“A long time ago.” House's expression is half-shamed, half-wistfulness.

“Me too,” Wilson says, and the light leaps in his eyes.

House leans forward. He's an awkward kisser at first and Wilson slides one hand up the back of House's neck and pulls him closer, until his kisses become ardent and wet, and then focused in a way that only House can focus.

One touch, that's all it's going to take, but it's House who surprises him, his legs flexing twice before orgasm takes him. He's flushed from his solar plexus to his cheekbones, his eyes gone languid and still as some dead-calm sea.

“Don't move.” He feels House's hands on him, those eyes on him. “Stay with me.”

He does, for as long as he can.

*

The bedroom smells of salt and sex, as if some primordial sea has run to low tide. It's hard to breathe lying flat, so he kisses House's sweaty neck and bunches the pile of pillows to prop himself upright.

He doesn't look down at his own body. Avoids his reflection in mirrors now, the puffy face at war with the rack of bones it rests on. The view outside himself is better, with House so effortlessly muscular, every limb and digit long, graceful even at rest.

Not now. Not yet, he thinks. He's not ready to leave this.

*

It's always a surprise that House has gentleness in him, almost as surprising as having his legs give way one morning when he gets out of bed. He's upright, intent on taking the twenty steps to the bathroom, when his knees rebel and head off in separate directions.

“Hey, now,” House says as he leans over him. “You okay?”

“Postural hypotension, I think. I feel stupid. And there's no way you'll be able to pick me up.” Dying is embarrassing: Lesson 264 in life's little book of surprises.

“Oh, ye of little faith, House says and hooks the bedroom ottoman with his cane, drawing it close enough to sit down on it. He bends over. “Put your arms around my neck.”

House wraps an arm around his waist and levers them both upright. Wilson can feel the strain on House's muscles as he half-drags, half-walks him backward and seats him on the bed.

House's face is red, a forked vein stands out in his forehead. “Sit, then coffee, then walking. You throw my back out and we're in big trouble.”

“Bigger than … all this?”

“Yeah,”House says and catches his breath. “Definitely.”

It hurts to laugh now and that's damned unfair, but he laughs anyhow because dying's turning out to be utterly absurd.

*

There's a string of bad nights, and House pages through the phone book for a medical supply company. The heavy metal phase is coming, with deliveries of oxygen equipment, an I.V. pump, shower bench and bedside toilet waiting to be summoned by a few quick phone calls.

“House,” he says, and House puts down his phone. “Don't. Just don't.”

“It'll make you more comfortable. Keep me from dropping your ass on the bathroom floor, too.”

It feels like he's smothering, but it's not the tumor. He shakes his head.

“You have to tell me. We both have to be okay with this.”

Wilson looks out into the sunny yard, where drifts of fallen leaves lie like gold cloaks carelessly flung on the grass.

“I keep thinking 'just one more day.' And the day comes and it's not so bad and there's another and it's not as good as the one before but not that bad. The next day's worse, but I keep thinking the one after is going to be better.”

“It's not. You know that.”

“Knowing and feeling are different things. Guess I'm learning that the hard way.”

House's face creases with a different kind of pain. “Don't hold on for me.”

He doesn't have an answer to that.

House swings his bad leg down off the porch bench and stumps out into the yard. “I'm going for a walk,” he says over his shoulder.

He watches him walk away, his broad shoulders bobbing with every hitch in his stride. It's a long time before he comes back.

*

House is a little drunk, in a way that brings out the softer, more thoughtful side of his nature. Wilson's floating on the last dose of morphine, all his own barriers down, and he thinks how much he loves the sound of House's voice.

“Are you afraid?”

“Yes. And no. I've never had a door close behind me that couldn't be opened again. That scares me a little. “

“Even though you believe there's something more?”

One of House's big hands is lying turned palm-upward in his lap, and Wilson reaches over to link his fingers through House's.

They sit like that for a long time.

*

It's not the day that he wakes up in a cold puddle of his own piss, or even the day after when he faints in the shower that makes up his mind.

It's the next day, the day when nothing happened except that the flannel sheets on the bed are fresh and soft and the first sleet storm of the season is ticking against the window panes.

“When,” he says. Even buttoning his pajama shirt is exhausting, and he lets House do up the last two buttons.

“When what?” House says. He's squinting at the buttons, his reading glasses forgotten in the next room.

“Now is when. It's time for me to go.”

House's head comes up. “You think?”

“I know.”

*

It's both quicker and slower than he thought, with the minutes House is away in the next room seeming to stretch across time like light from a distant star. He comes back, the syringe and vial in his hand, the one that swings out in counterpoint to every step with the cane.

Wilson thinks, for one quick second, about a long-ago conversation with a woman who was not his cousin but wasn't going to die, about the difference between words and actions, and he's glad of the certainty.

House's hands are cold, adrenaline driving his blood inward, when he rolls down the top of the too-big pajama pants. Wilson looks down at his leg, a starveling's thigh in needle-bruised skin. He's not going to miss this body.

“This is going to hurt a little,” House says quietly. He slips the needle in and turns it, going under the skin for a vein so that this last mark looks intra-muscular like all the others.

It's done, and House rolls him on his side and pulls him across his lap.

“Look at me,” he says and it's starting, the blood slowing in his ears, the rush of heat as the drugs drown his central nervous system.

It's hard, it's hard, there's no air, but House is holding him to his chest, his arms locked around him, and he's scared and not scared, and he hears at the last a great thunder, one world cleaving from another, and a galloping heartbeat inseparable from his own.

--Finis

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rubyjuly

July 2012

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