Stuck in The Rain
This fanfic is dedicated to my best friend, Ria Anggawinata Hermawan.
Disclaimer : House, M.D. belongs to FOX and David Shore.The line with (*) was inspired by the song Walter Reed by Michael Penn.
- Inspired by a true incident. -
"Oh, shit!" a man with brown hair cursed as the first raindrops hit his head. It turned into hard rain as both the crippled diagnostician and the oncologist tried to walk faster after the first drops. The oncologist had deliberately slowed his steps just to let the cripple catch his pace. Something that actually they both realized.
Both men hadn't expected the sudden rain. House had just asked Wilson to have a very late lunch together—though Wilson didn't have that much appetite today, and insisted on walking instead of letting Wilson drive. He now just consider this as a pleasant coincidence—a chance to spend more time with his best friend.
After House's trying to walk as fast as possible and Wilson's trying to run as slow as possible, they finally found a shelter in front of an open bar. Wilson let out a groan as he realized that his appearance was completely ruined. He tried to dry his wet hair and just ended up messing it up.
"You didn't have to wait for me, you know," House finally spoke up.
"Oh, really? I won't leave a cripple walking alone in the middle of the rain. It would be rude, you know," Wilson mumbled under his breath while he was busy examining his wet pants, silently cursing the fact that he didn't bring his coat, and that he had agreed walking instead of driving, and that he had agreed to have lunch with his best friend at a restaurant three blocks away from the hospital.
House secretly smirked at his best friend's failed attempt to make an excuse with sarcasm. He just knew that Wilson just hadn't wanted to leave him behind. "Well, we should just enjoy the rain as long as we can," House said. What Wilson didn't know was that House didn't say that to piss him off, because he was just being honest.
House then just pretended to drink his soda, as Wilson was still busy with his wet clothes. "Oh, come on!" Wilson suddenly yelled. House just glanced at him without moving his head as he sipped on his soda. "I left my phone," Wilson explained with a voice higher than his usual voice.
"'So?' I have an appointment with a patient, House. And I should be in my office in," he stopped to look at his wet watch. "Ten minutes."
"Well, there's no way a respectful Head of Oncology would see his patient with wet shoes, wet pants, wet shirt, wet—and messy hair, and a very annoyed face," House summarized Wilson's appearance. "Especially when that respectful oncologist coincidentally named James Evan Wilson, M.D.."
Wilson sighed in defeat. "I just hope he's okay."
"Who? Do you secretly have a boyfriend?" House faked a shocked expression.
"My patient," Wilson glared at the taller man, silently cursing himself for even giving that unnecessary explanation.
Both men decided it was enough for jokes for now. They stood there in silence as they stared at nothing but the rain. They didn't try to find any word to say. Because Wilson started to think that maybe House had been right. They should have just enjoyed the rain.
After a minute or two, House suddenly handed out his phone to his best friend, "In case you really think he's gonna die in five minutes." Wilson eyed his friend for a second before taking the phone from him. "All you have to do is ask, you know," House said, sipping his soda again. An honest line used as sarcasm.
Wilson quickly phoned the hospital and asked someone to tell his patient that he was stuck in the rain and had to cancel the appointment because of it—and that he was terribly sorry. He handed the phone back to its owner with a quick 'thanks'. House didn't say anything as he continued to sip his soda.
It was silent again for minutes as House actually noticed some increasing insecurity in his best friend's gestures. He refused to ask, because he already knew that Wilson was going to blurt it out in one, two…
"House," Wilson started and House hid his smirk. "Since we're stuck here anyway, I want to ask you something." House let his best friend noticed that he was actually listening by not drinking his soda anymore. Noticing that, Wilson continued, "Do you think that I've... changed?"
House actually hadn't expected that question, but he quickly found a good sarcasm. "Well, if by 'changed' you mean if you've done your diet right, then yes, Wilson, I think you've changed."
Wilson rolled his eyes before getting his composure again. "Please, just answer honestly, House. And no, I don't want any more sarcasm."
House just stared blankly at the rain for a few seconds, which was a good sign for Wilson, because his best friend was actually thinking about his question seriously. And at this point, House couldn't help letting his best friend have what he wanted. "Three failed marriages, one dead girlfriend, hundreds of patient?" House summarized the years Wilson had faced. "And me," the voice in the back of his head assured him. House could explain his answer in the longest explanation possible, but instead, he just let out a simple answer.
"Yes, you've changed."
Wilson actually hadn't expected this answer coming out of House's mouth and it was obvious on his face.
"And yet, you haven't changed," House finished his answer as all Wilson could do was staring at him with a puzzled look. "People don't change, Wilson. Or either, people change, but only in several ways. So, to summarize my answer: In several ways, yes, you've changed."
Both men were now staring at each other, as if looking for any lie in each other's eyes. As House found that Wilson was trying to find out if he was telling a lie or not, he went back to sipping his soda, but his eyes never leaving Wilson's.
Wilson sighed. "Okay. Then, is it for better or for worse?"
"Really, Wilson? Where did this come from?" House narrowed his eyes.
"Look, House, we've been friends for what—twenty years or so? And just like you once said to me, the only relationship I've managed to keep in my life is just with you. So, whom else should I ask this question to? Just answer me."
It was House's turn to sigh. There was a pause before he finally said, "I can't answer that."
"What? Why? You're the nation's best puzzle-solver, how can you not answer this simple question?"
"It is anything but simple", House thought. "Well, if I say that your diet makes you not having lunch with me as much as before, will you consider it as better or worse?"
"So, you're really making an assumption of this change based on my diet?"
"Just answer me," House copied Wilson's tone.
Before another staring contest happened, Wilson sighed and folded his arms to think for a second. "Well, it might be better for me—since I really have to lost some weight, but from your point of view, you can't steal my food anymore, so it might be worse for you."
All Wilson could see when he finished his answer and turned to look at his best friend again was House raising his eyebrows.
"Then?" Wilson said, not amused.
"Then that's it!" House flew his free hand dramatically. "That's your answer."
After another staring contest, House went back to sipping his nearly finished soda with a change in his eyes, stating that he had won this debate, ignoring the fact that Wilson couldn't stop eyeing him with a questioning look.
After another five seconds, Wilson finally gave up and shook his head. "I can't believe I'm having this conversation with you," he said.
"Neither can I," House faked a serious tone before sipping the remaining of his soda.
The two doctors went back to silence. But neither of them stopped thinking about the topic the oncologist had brought up earlier. They both were thinking about their life, their first meeting, their jobs, their moments together, their fights, their friendship.
Wilson thought about how they always ended up together—even after his three broken marriages that had been probably ruined because of this so-called-friendship. He thought about how many times he had decided that this friendship hadn't been worth the things he had sacrificed. Just like when he had blamed House for Amber's death—which now he knew that they both knew that he had been wrong, or when he had just lost hope of his best friend when this particular best friend had ended up in jail for a year. But in the end, he just couldn't help forgiving him—with a punch right on his face.
And knowing that Wilson was also thinking about this matter, House took the opportunity to think about this too. And he thought about Wilson's question earlier. Still, he did think that people never changed. But he also knew that one thing led to another—in other words, every single thing could cause changes. But he also believed that there were things that couldn't change. Just like his sarcasm and Wilson's gentleness, or his indifference and Wilson's empathy towards people, or his inability to move on and Wilson's ability to forgive—and maybe his leg pain, because it was permanent. And if there had been one unchanging thing that House was glad about, it would be the inability of their friendship to change. And maybe that was why House had always hated changes, because he knew that he didn't want this friendship to change. Because Wilson had been the one he had chosen when they hadn't even known each other. Maybe Nolan was right when he had said that this friendship with Wilson had been the only safe relationship he had had. Because every good thing House had—Stacy, Cuddy, even his leg, was abandoning him.* Except Wilson. And that made him the best thing House ever had.
"Wilson," House suddenly said without even moving his gaze from the blank space in front of him. Wilson automatically turned his head to look at the man calling him. "The answer for your first questions is still the same. And the answer for your second question is 'I don't know'."
House gave an enough pause for Wilson to say anything, but since there was no reply, House continued. "Yes, you've changed, Wilson. I'm not stupid to say that three failed marriages and one dead girlfriend didn't change you. And maybe once or twice I have thought that this so-called-friendship would change, but it hasn't. Because it is you. You're still you. You're still the empathy-freak oncologist I followed at that conference. You're still the same person who had let me ruin his second marriage just because you thought I needed a friend. You're still the same person who asked me to risk my life to save your dying girlfriend. And you're the same person who still hangs out with me despite of anything I've said—or do, to you. And I can't help accepting anything you may become," House finally looked at Wilson. "Because you're my best and only friend."
Wilson couldn't believe what his usually-a-jerk best friend had said that he froze for seconds before he blinked and cleared his throat. "Right. Thank you." And those words went out of Wilson's mouth without him even realizing it. His brain worked a bit late as he imagined his best friend's journey in their 20 years of friendship. Wilson was not stupid to say that permanent chronic pain, two ex-girlfriends, months of mental hospital, and a year of prison, hadn't change his friend, but if it had been House who asked him the same question, maybe he wouldn't have been able to answer it either. Because he knew that his best friend was still the same random guy who bailed him out of jail twenty years ago, though things around them changed.
After another long second, Wilson suddenly realized that there were no harsh drops of water anymore. "Oh, the rain has stopped," he said.
"Yeah, I know."
"It has stopped about five minutes ago," House said as he shifted his bag to have a better position.
Wilson couldn't help wondering about the reason behind his best friend's unreasonable action and he ended up smiling and let out a light chuckle. Because he finally understood that his best friend had just wanted to spend a private moment with him. Maybe this particular best friend had even known that this so-called-lunch would have ended up this way. And he was right, because House had predicted that it would have been raining today—thanks to the weather forecast. House just had expected it to be when they had been in the restaurant—so that they would have had a better place to be stuck, but maybe it just had been better.
"Shall we go?" House broke Wilson's thought and started to take the first step, hiding a smile on his face. Wilson was still smiling as he followed his best friend. And House knew that his best friend had already known that he had conned his best friend into spending half-an-hour-more time with him. And he knew that it was really okay, that Wilson didn't mind it at all—despite of the cancer patient.
"By the way, why are you carrying your bag?" Wilson suddenly asked.
"Oh, well, I'm going home."
"What? It's only four fifteen."
"Yeah. I have this technology called 'watch' too," House wriggled his left hand, showing his watch.
"But we supposed to go back to the hospital. You didn't let me drive, remember? And you left your car too."
"Yeah. I'm just not going back in to the hospital. And since you've cancelled your appointment, why don't we ditch Doctor Foreman's class of 'Doctor's Responsibility' and get some booze instead?"
The only reply House received was only a chuckle. But he knew that his best friend had agreed to spend another day with him. They looked at each other and shared a smile. As they were walking down the road, Wilson had forgotten his wet clothes and ruined hair while House was secretly happily enjoying the conversation they had had. And they both realized that being stuck—especially in the rain, wasn't always so bad.