Pairing: none really, House/Wilson friendship, some House/Cuddy friendship
Rating: PG-13 to R in places
Warnings: violence, scary themes, disturbing subject matter
Summary: Following Amber's death, House is afraid that Wilson will never be able to forgive him -- but Wilson's real reaction is far more frightening and disturbing than he ever would have expected. Wilson wants to hold on to the only meaningful relationship left in his life -- by any means necessary.
When Wilson entered the basement the following day, House forced himself to be silent. In spite of the state of blind, uncontrolled agony he had reached, he was too terrified of angering his captor to make a sound – not to mention the fact that he had nearly lost his voice from the pitifully muffled moans of pain that had filled the long hours since Wilson had last checked on him.
Despite his silence, Wilson issued a quietly threatening command. “Keep quiet, House. Open your mouth and you’ll regret it.”
House shook his head emphatically to indicate his intention to obey, then tried not to flinch when he felt Wilson’s hands on his face, reminding himself that Wilson was only unfastening the gag. He swallowed, though his throat was so dry and raw that the motion was more of a fresh agony than any kind of relief. When Wilson unfastened his wrist restraints and placed a hand under his back to lift him up, House did his best to cooperate, allowing his body to be manipulated into the seat position Wilson wanted. Wilson’s hands left his body, and House became aware of a scent that would have been enticing if not for his pain-induced nausea.
“Time to eat. Open up.”
House’s trembling intensified at the tension in Wilson’s voice, in spite of his attempt at utter submission. A cold feeling of dread settled in the pit of his stomach, and a sense of despairing defeat. Wilson already seemed angry, and he hadn’t done anything to cause it. He immediately opened his mouth as he was ordered, desperately obedient.
Wilson put a bite of some kind of roast in his mouth, and House had to admit that it tasted delicious. He relaxed a little bit as Wilson fed him his meal, allowing himself to enjoy the flavors and textures that were the only pleasurable thing that existed in the nightmare state to which his life had been reduced.
“Good, House,” Wilson murmured, and though the tension was still there, House was relieved to hear the grudging approval in his tone. “Now have some water… here we go…”
House tried to cooperate, but was trembling so hard that a little of the water spilled in a cold, trickling stream down his bare chest. He shivered, biting back the pathetic pleas and apologies that instantly rose to his lips, flinching away as Wilson set the glass down and placed a surprisingly gentle hand on the back of his neck.
“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Wilson sighed, and House could almost visualize the familiar gesture that slightly muffled his words, as Wilson ran a hand down over his own face in weary frustration. “House… relax, okay? I’m not pissed off or anything; I’m just… it’s just… been a really stressful day. So just… stop acting so scared of me, or you’re going to piss me off. Okay?”
House nodded hesitantly, struggling to get his trembling under control, though it was clearly a losing battle. His physical reaction of panic was instinctive and subconscious, and it seemed that the more he tried to stop it, the worse it became.
“How’s your pain today?”
The question made House’s stomach lurch, and he flinched slightly, unsure how or even whether or not to answer. If he said anything to make Wilson think that he was trying to get Vicodin, it would only result in more pain and denial – and Wilson seemed particularly inclined to think the worst at the moment.
The soft warning in Wilson’s voice prompted House to respond in spite of his fear. “B-bad… ten. It’s… it’s a ten today…”
He didn’t dare say anymore, and Wilson was silent for so long that House’s heart sank, his chest constricting with terror.
I blew it, I don’t know what I said wrong but he’s angry and he’s gonna hurt me now and not give me any Vicodin and…
His thoughts broke off in a mindless wave of panic when he felt Wilson’s hand grip the back of his neck none too gently, his other hand pressing against House’s chest. House sensed Wilson leaning in close to him, and froze, not daring to move. His breath came in ragged, halting gasps as Wilson spoke softly next to his face, every word measured and precise.
“You… belong… to me.”
House nodded hurriedly, desperately, wanting only to appease Wilson before something bad happened. Wilson’s hand tightened on House’s neck as he snapped.
“I-I belong to you,” House whispered, his head lowered with shame.
“You will obey me,” Wilson continued. “Anything I tell you to do – you’re going to do it. Right?”
House nodded again, swallowing back a sob before hesitantly offering a verbal affirmation of Wilson’s words. “I’ll… o-obey you, Wilson. Anything you say.” A desperate plea he barely dared to voice, House added in an almost inaudible whisper, “Please…”
Wilson was quiet for a long moment, and House waited in silent, shaking terror for the punishment for whatever offense he’d committed this time – but it didn’t come. Wilson’s hand softened to a caress, and his voice gentled, losing its angry, warning edge.
“We’ll see,” he murmured soothingly. “I’d like to believe you. I hope I can – but we’ll have to take it slow, House. You’ve left me no choice in that.”
House nodded slowly, readily accepting Wilson’s explanation.
Just don’t get mad again… just don’t hurt me anymore…
“I get to stay home today. No work. So we’ll just… hang out a little while, down here… and we’ll consider it… a test,” Wilson continued. “And if you pass… you’ll be rewarded. Okay?”
House nodded again, his head submissively bowed as Wilson moved away from him. House couldn’t help his instinctive jerk when he felt Wilson’s hand on his right leg, even though it was far from his damaged thigh.
“Easy,” Wilson murmured, responding to the involuntary motion by gently stroking House’s bare calf, instead of striking out in anger. “Not gonna hurt you. I’m just taking these cuffs off. Try to kick me, though…” His hand tightened warningly. “… and I will hurt you. Got it?”
House nodded once more, eager to assure Wilson of his cooperation.
Once his ankles were free, House still didn’t dare to move. He knew he was in too much pain, his muscles too weak from hunger and sickness and lack of use, to try anything, anyway; and a simple movement to ease the tension in his strained legs was not worth the risk of Wilson’s wrath. He made himself stay still as Wilson moved around behind him, and his hands were drawn behind his back and fastened into a pair of metal cuffs.
“Trust has to be earned, House,” Wilson reminded him softly, stroking a gentle hand down his back before gripping his arm and attempting to pull him to his feet. “Come on, now… I’m gonna need a little help here.”
House struggled to get his legs under him, unsure of his position or his footing, but it was no use. His numbed, aching limbs refused to cooperate. As Wilson swore under his breath, House flinched, certain that he would be punished for his failure to obey – but Wilson just allowed him to sink back down onto the mattress in a semi-seated position, his legs folded partly under him, and let out a sigh of resignation.
“It’s all right,” he reassured House. “I know you’re trying. It’s okay…”
He stayed with House for a while, talking almost as if everything was normal between them. He told House about his new job, and the people he worked with, about several humorous or interesting patients or staff members he’d run into over the past few weeks.
All of it was lost on House, who was doing his best to pay attention, but terribly distracted by his own suffering. At first the pressure on his legs actually felt a little bit good, providing a relief to the painfully stretched position in which they’d been for days. After a while, however, he wanted to stretch them out again a little, but was too afraid to move without asking… and asking, speaking at all without permission, was completely out of the question.
After a while, Wilson rose to his feet, and House tensed, uncertain what to expect. When he felt Wilson’s hands on his shoulders, maneuvering him up onto his knees, he allowed himself to be moved, struggling to stay in the kneeling position despite his discomfort. Wilson grabbed his hair and jerked his head back, and House winced at the unprovoked violence. Wilson’s voice was cold and menacing again.
“You will stay like this – you will not move – until I come back. Even while I’m gone, I don’t want you to move an inch. Do you understand me?”
House swallowed hard, unsure how he was going to be able to obey this command – only knowing that he somehow had to. He nodded as best he could against Wilson’s grip on his hair, biting his lower lip to hold back the panicked sounds that rose in his throat. Wilson released him abruptly, and House heard his footsteps on the floor, then on the stairs – then heard the sound of the basement door as it opened and then closed again.
Wilson was gone for a very long time.
At least, it felt like a long time to House as he struggled to maintain the position Wilson had demanded of him. His knees ached, his thigh throbbed, and his nausea intensified as his pain increased. His breath was shallow and rapid, and his body shook violently, but he kept quiet as the endless minutes ticked on and on, with no sign of Wilson’s return.
What he couldn’t know was that in reality, it only lasted thirty minutes – and Wilson was sitting silently at the top of the stairs, watching him the entire time.
When the door opened and closed again, House flinched slightly but stayed in position, his body taut with pain and fear as Wilson approached him. He kept as still as possible as Wilson crouched beside him, running a slow, possessive hand over his bare hip. House fought the overwhelming sense of revulsion that rose within him, fought the impulse to jerk away from the intimately familiar touch.
“Open your mouth.”
House hesitated, unsure of what Wilson intended. He’d already eaten just a couple of hours earlier. Was this some new kind of torment – some sadistic, mad punishment Wilson had devised in response to his weak attempt at obedience?
It didn’t matter. There was no choice.
House opened his mouth, waiting for Wilson to do what he would.
Wilson placed something on his tongue – and the familiar, beloved bitter taste of Vicodin filled his mouth. House’s trembling intensified with his relief, and it was all he could do not to break down right then. Wilson’s hand rested at the back of his neck, and House felt cool, smooth glass against his lips.
“Here, drink this.”
Wilson commanded, and House gratefully drained the glass of water, washing the pill down his ragged throat. An instant later Wilson’s hand fisted in his hair again, roughly yanking his head back, and Wilson snapped at him in warning.
“You should be grateful. You don’t deserve this. What should you say to me, House?”
“Th-thank you,” House whispered hoarsely, subdued and too pitifully grateful for this much-needed mercy to care about the humiliation of being made to thank Wilson for giving him what should have been his already.
“Good.” Wilson’s voice was stern but softer. “You will always thank me for anything I give you. Your food, water, returned privileges – and especially your Vicodin. Understand?”
“Y-yes,” House whispered, nodding slightly. “Yes… th-thank you.”
House obeyed, elated when Wilson gave him a second Vicodin. As grateful as he was for the first, House doubted how effective it would be when faced with the unbearable level of pain he had reached over the past few days. House swallowed the pill with a second drink of water, his breath beginning to grow steadier and his trembling decreasing just with the knowledge that relief was soon coming.
“Thank you,” he breathed out, his head bowed almost reverently. “Thank you, Wilson.”
“You’re welcome.” Wilson’s voice was low and aching with emotion as he gently ran his fingers through House’s hair. “I don’t want you to suffer, House. I don’t want to hurt you. If I hurt you, it’s only because you make me.” He paused, allowing that to sink in before adding, “As you behave well, like you’ve done today, you’ll gradually have privileges returned to you – and everything’s a privilege, House. You are mine to care for, and I will make the decisions as to what you need – what you deserve. Are we clear?”
House nodded quickly. “Yes,” he whispered, utterly cooperative.
He would do whatever Wilson asked of him in order to prevent the suffering he’d endured the past few days. A part of his mind – a much smaller part than before – still focused on escape whispered quietly within him.
It’s the only way… no matter how long it takes… he has to trust you or he’ll never let you be free enough to get away…
House’s heart sank, but he did not resist as Wilson maneuvered him back down onto the mattress, into the position in which he’d spent the last few days. He tied his wrists down again, and his left leg, but paused over the right one, his hand resting casually on House’s lower thigh, unsettlingly close to the scar.
“If I leave this leg untied… I’m not going to regret it, am I, House?”
“No,” House whispered urgently, shaking his head. “No, I… I won’t try anything. Please, Wilson…”
“Shut up. All I needed was a yes or no.”
House bit his lip, immediately going silent in response to Wilson’s casually commanding tone. Wilson patted his leg with a heavy sigh, before rising to his feet without fastening the restraint.
“Go ahead and move it all you need to, to get comfortable,” he said quietly. “I’ll be back in a few hours. I have some things I have to do.”
“Thank you,” House offered hurriedly as he heard Wilson’s footsteps moving toward the door.
The last thing he wanted was to get Wilson to change his mind by breaking the newly introduced rule. Wilson’s footsteps paused, and House could hear that his voice was trembling when he answered in a voice barely over a whisper.
Without another word, Wilson headed for the door, closing it behind him. House lay there in what felt like bliss after so long in agony, as the Vicodin started to kick in, and he could finally think about something besides his own pain. He knew now – the only way out of this was obedience. Wilson’s trust would not be regained through some short-lived, half-assed attempt at deception. He would have to slowly, gradually regain his rights, his freedoms, and then wait for a chance when he knew he could not fail to escape.