lit_luminary: (In my image (sort of))
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Title: While You Were Out
Author: lit_luminary
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: House/Wilson (friendship).
Summary: House believes he’s at fault for Chase’s injury.  Wilson begs to differ.

When Wilson gets home from his spectacularly badly-timed conference (looking cheerful; obviously he hasn’t been to the hospital yet), House has already let himself into the condo, failed to find anything alcoholic and seated himself on the couch.  Noticing him, Wilson starts to open his mouth to report on the conference drivel.  Then he notices the look on House’s face and makes the shift from congenial to concerned in point-five seconds, closing the distance and sitting down next to him.

“What happened?”

“Chase is in ICU with an SCI,” House says flatly.  “Incomplete paraplegia at L5, secondary to occlusion of the radicular artery.”  He resists the urge to reach for his new, non-pranked bottle of Vicodin: right now, it wouldn’t be for the leg.  “I diagnosed it in time to stop it from being complete paraplegia.”

Wilson nods but stays silent, inviting the rest, and House gives him a thumbnail sketch of the incident and Cofield’s inquisition.  “Chase’d rigged my Vicodin to explode, and I walked out on Cofield to get my patient treated for tumor lysis syndrome.  Patient’s wife came in the next day to add a plea in favor of my process, and Cofield was moved not to send me back to prison.  He decided it was nobody’s fault.”

“Thank God,” Wilson says.

“I told him he was a coward.”

“What, you wanted to go back to…?”  Wilson trails off with a frown; his expression turns incredulous.  “This is last year’s insanity all over again, isn’t it?  You thought you should be punished for wrecking Cuddy’s home; you earned yourself a year in jail.  Now Chase was attacked, you feel guilty, and instead of dealing with it—”

“He could’ve died!” House snaps, banging the tip of his cane down on the floor.  “He’ll be a cripple for the rest of his—”

“—whereas if you’d gone to jail, the scales of justice would balance and he’d be completely healthy and able to walk?”  Wilson releases a long breath, lowers his voice.  “House.  Sometimes tragedies happen.  And sometimes, however it offends your view of the universe, there’s no one to blame.”

“I put that patient on the diagnostic trial that caused his psychotic break.”

“You didn’t put Chase in the room with him,” Wilson says, holding his gaze.  “You didn’t order Chase to bring in sharp objects.  You didn’t cause the clot that damaged his spinal cord.  And you diagnosed it in time to minimize that damage.”  He reaches for the hand House has clenched around the handle of his cane, closes his own over it.  “Now.  Logically.  How is what happened to Chase directly your fault?”

“I should’ve been able to narrow down the differential without risking a psychotic—”

“I’m not defending your process to you,” Wilson says.  “If he’d had a psychotic break and someone you care about hadn’t been hurt, you wouldn’t have given a crap.”  His hand on House’s is steady warmth, steady pressure.  “You took a risk, so did Chase, and by freak chance, they both went horribly wrong.”

He stares past Wilson, seeing Chase braced between parallel bars, betrayed by his own legs.  Seeing him struggle to walk, his grip white-knuckled, his breathing labored with the effort.  Hearing his half-stifled grunts of pain.

Remembering his own physiotherapy, holding himself exactly that way, biting down on every stab of agony as he fought to make his fucking useless leg start to bear weight and recover range of motion.  Knowing it was ruined; it was never going to heal, never going to work correctly again, no matter how much rehab he did or how many hopeful platitudes the physiotherapist tried to sell him.

“I told him I was sorry,” House says at last.


“Yeah,” House says.  “That was basically what he said, too.”  He barks a laugh, hard and bitter.  “He’s nicer than I am.  I made Stacy cry the first time she told me—”

“I repeat: you didn’t damage his spine,” Wilson says.  He’s starting to move away from ‘consoling’ and toward ‘annoyed.’  House takes his hand back.  “The mobility he has, he has because you saved it.”

“He didn’t accept my apology.”

Wilson laughs, shaking his head.  “Unbelievable.  You bring your baseless guilt to him, and somehow, it’s not his first impulse to gift you with forgiveness for the thing that wasn’t your fault!”

“It also wasn’t not my fault.”

Long-suffering sigh.  Kneading of temples.  “Okay.  Let’s try this one: based on your own experience, if he did blame you, he’d have listened to your apology and told you to screw yourself.”

“Not saying that is not the same thing as saying ‘It wasn’t your fault,’” House says tersely.  “Which should’ve been easy if he didn’t blame me; you’re saying it like a broken record.”

Wilson ignores that.  “Have you tried to talk to him since then?”

“I watched him from the hall.  He watched me watch him.”


“And nothing.  He stared at me for a while and went to sleep.”

“May I take from that that he wasn’t glaring daggers?”  Wilson doesn’t wait for a response.  “Did you consider the remote possibility that he doesn’t think you ruined his life?  That maybe he’s grateful you diagnosed him in time for him to keep some use of his legs?”

There’s a universe of difference between ‘some use’ and full use.  And even incomplete paraplegia at that level means some sexual dysfunction and probable complications with toileting; those are sure to inspire gratitude.  So is the pleasure of neuropathic pain, which something like sixty-five percent of SCI patients get to experience.

If lost function hasn't inspired hatred yet, pain will.

“He can’t seriously blame you for this,” Wilson says, reading that certainty in his face.  “He was the one who went in the room with a scalpel!”

House hadn’t contributed to the incident immediately precipitating the attack.  That doesn’t make him guiltless.  “A decision he made based on the methods I taught him.”

“Say a teenage boy goes out riding his bike and gets hit by a car,” Wilson snaps, throwing up his hands.  “He’s not wearing a helmet; he ends up brain damaged.  So do you blame him for that bad decision?  No.  Do you blame the driver of the car that hit him?  No again.  You,” he says, pausing for effect, “are the blind idiot who blames his father, who taught him nine years ago how to ride the bicycle!”

House stays silent.

“Blaming yourself won’t help him,” Wilson says quietly.  “And out of everyone he knows, you’re the only one with any idea what might.”  He replaces his hand over House’s.  “Give him some space to start processing this if you think he needs it, but if you’re going to see him, don’t just stand in the hall.”

“He’s going to hate me.”

“Give him a chance not to,” Wilson says, “and see what happens.”


Those interested can read Chase's perspective on all this here.

Date: 2012-02-07 05:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You know, not-watching the episodes and relying on your post-eps for a quality take on canon is working out pretty well for me. I love the patience your Wilson always has - he's not a saint, but he knows how to deal with House. I love how House has to have pain personalized for him to care about it. And I love the callbacks to Stacy.

Very well done.

Date: 2012-02-09 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If that's been your approach, I'm glad it's working. Canon has been better this year than last, but this is the first arc I've really found engaging. The other episodes were neither appealing nor appalling enough to write about.

I heard Wilson very clearly as I wrote this: patient enough, but not indulging House's self-blame, either. (He should have a very acute sense of how to deal with him, after all these years.) I loved the portrayal of House's brand of caring last night, and loved that Chase recognized it for what it was.

The look on House's face as he watched Chase in physio made it an imperative to bring Stacy into this: the parallel is too clear to do anything else. Of course, it doesn't extend so far that Chase is going to hate House for this injury (or not when I write him, anyway; I don't expect much from the PTB, since they seem to want to go in the 'Chase blames House' direction).

(It's been too long since we last chatted; I'll have to IM with you sometime soon.)
(deleted comment)

Date: 2012-02-09 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I heard Wilson very clearly as I wrote this, so I'm glad you found his voice tone-true.

Date: 2012-02-07 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Nice! Wilson's voice was very good.

Date: 2012-02-09 02:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I was very pleased with his half of the dialogue.

Date: 2012-02-07 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
but if you’re going to see him, don’t just stand in the hall.”

“He’s going to hate me.”

“Give him a chance not to,” Wilson says, “and see what happens.”

Love this part of their exchange. If there's anything House needs to do in his life it's to stop standing in the hall. I hope Wilson is this supportive, and that Chase doesn't really blame House.

Date: 2012-02-09 03:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Agreed. Chase knows House well enough to take his standing in the hall as a kind of support, but in this case, that won't go far enough. Last night showed how much he cares, and I want that to manifest in some active role in Chase's recovery. I don't think that's beyond House to do--not now, when he can't help but empathize.

Next week's preview seems to be taking the "Chase blames House" route, which makes me furious: it's not consistent with Chase's character or the relationship between them, so I'm not going to write from that faulty premise. (I'm also going to write L5 injury as L5 injury: what's happened doesn't mean anything if Chase is fit to run a marathon in a month.)

Date: 2012-02-09 03:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Next week's preview seems to be taking the "Chase blames House" route, which makes me furious

Me too - I can't for the life of me see how this was House's fault at all. Now if Chase decides he doesn't want to work in that sort of work environment any more I would be quite okay with that, but I can't see him 'blaming' House unless it's a trauma induced reaction. I'm going with the theory that he knows he's screwed up but he's looking to pass some of that blame rather than accepting it Unfortunately the shows produceers/writers have said from what I've read that it's Houses's fault and Chase does blame House. sigh...

Date: 2012-02-12 11:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Unfortunately the shows produceers/writers have said
I think TPTB have done so much OoC in the last seasons that as a fanfic writer I feel no need to respect canon. You earn respect by showing it, and they seem bent on destroying every single charcacter in this show. Chase had so far escaped.

Date: 2012-02-12 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I wouldn't call "sleeping with half of New Jersey in twos and threes" 'escaped' (another thing I'll never forgive the PTB for; their portrayal of the character and the gender politics were nauseating to me, to the point there were moments I literally could not watch), but otherwise, emphatically seconded.

Date: 2012-02-12 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
sleeping with half of New Jersey in twos and threes
I had removed that. Yecchhh. (goes scrub own brain with antibacterial soap).

Let's say he had been less mangled than most.

Date: 2012-02-12 07:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Agreed. And I'll borrow the rest of that soap when you're finished.

Date: 2012-02-07 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really enjoyed these. I've not seen the episode yet but you make me feel I have. Your Wilson is terrific; you have him down pat.

Date: 2012-02-09 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you. I was very pleased with Wilson's voice here, particularly as I tend to feel I have a better grasp of House's and Chase's than his.

Date: 2012-02-09 06:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you VERY much for guiding me to this fic, because otherwise I would never find it.

That was brilliant! Wilson in your fic is much more interesting than in the show.

As for whose fault it is: I really don't understand why House blames himself for what happened. And why Chase is doing the same, because usually he is not like that. I really hope that they will explain it without ruining the character.

It's great that you brought Stacy in the view. In our (Russian) discussion threads people tend to almost hate Chase for blaming House, but I also remember that House blamed Stace for his disability as well.

So thanks again for putting all that together so nicely and even if show would go differently, I would hope you'll be able to change that in your fics :)

Date: 2012-02-09 11:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for commenting! I'm delighted you enjoyed my characterization of Wilson, since I was especially pleased with his dialogue.

House's guilt is irrational, but then, he felt similar guilt after Kutner committed suicide: guilt that, at its most basic level, is rooted in the conviction "I should have been able to do something to prevent this." He's overestimating the power he has to affect those around him.

Chase's blaming House, however, is inconsistent with his character, his and House's previous relationship, and Chase's defense of House to Cofield: he knows perfectly well that House cares about him, and he cares in return. Blaming him for this injury (which canon is making far less serious than it should be) is completely ridiculous. House at least had reason to blame Stacy: she acted against his express wishes. House committed no such treachery against Chase. (I had to bring Stacy in; House can't have been thinking of anything but his own experience as he watched Chase in physiotherapy.)

It's going to go differently than it should in canon, but rest assured that I'll be writing fic that treats Chase, House, and this entire situation as they deserve.

Date: 2012-02-12 11:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And sometimes, however it offends your view of the universe, there’s no one to blame.”
A bitter truth an oncologist has to face on a regular basis. Pitch perfect Wlson, here and throughout.

And great House,nfeeling guilty even though he didn't, always ready to punish himself. I wonder whether This side of his personality is a consequence of childhood abuse, Poor House.

OT the idea of canon going the "Chase blames House" way makes me sick.

Date: 2012-02-12 06:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've had more experience with House's and Chase's voices than Wilson's, but Wilson came through clear as crystal in this piece, which I was very pleased with. (The ending analogy was my favorite part of his dialogue, I think.)

I wouldn't be surprised if House's need to take the blame for this is a consequence of the abuse: he'd have been conditioned at a young age to feel that whatever pain he's in (especially in cases of pain directly caused by the abuser) is his own fault. He also overestimates his power in this situation: he's brilliant, but there are variables in cases like this that he--even he--could not have foreseen or prevented. And of course, he's projecting his own experience onto this incident rather heavily, which does nothing to improve matters.

(The "Chase blames House" route is just as outrageous to me--as I said, it's an insult to them both--and I'm making it my personal mission to write fic that treats this situation, and these characters, with the respect they deserve.)

Date: 2012-02-14 08:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sandra marshall (from
Well hello! Sorry it's been a while since last we spoke. I loved this....It's given me even more to look forward to, when House finally returns to British TV later this month. So, once again loving the wonderful dynamic between House and Chase. You always capture their relationship to a T. I'll try and not read your account of the 'Chase' episode, as you know it's a very close to my heart...It'll be interesting to 'see' how they have him interact with the 'nun'.

(sorry this is not under my usual nic, but I have a new lappy and can't for the life of my remember my old account log-in password - and still awaiting the e-mail to reset) Anyhoo, Much love. Oceandeep. :)


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