Not On My Watch
by Arwen Kenobi
Title: Not On My Watch
Author: Arwen Kenobi
Warnings: Attempted Suicide, Character Death, pretty angsty and dark but it gets a bit lighter!
Summary: For all purposes, James Wilson died on that motorcycle with Gregory House
Author's Note: I woke up at two in the morning with this idea in my head. So I naturally got out of bed and frantically wrote it down. Several weeks and much editing later, here we have it.
James Wilson, M.D., had never figured himself as a suicidal type. Whenever the subject had come up he'd always dismissed it as a coward's way out and a horribly selfish thing to do. No matter how dark everything was and how alone one was thought to be there would always be some poor soul left behind to bear the guilt of the death and wonder the reason for it and ways they could have stopped it.
Some part of him was laughing now. Yes, he was a coward. He admitted that freely. He didn't want to deal with this or move on from it. He also knew he would leave no one behind to ponder why he did it, no guilty parties either. For all purposes he'd died the night that Greg House had.
It hadn't even been House's fault; the driver of the SUV had been drinking and somehow ended up driving the wrong way down a one way street. House had had no room to move over. The collision had killed him instantly while the driver had walked away with a mild concussion. Wilson had no words to describe his anger at that moron. Did she not realize that she'd killed the most important person in his life? The only one left who really gave a shit about him?
The funeral had been simple and sparsely populated. James had somehow managed to say a few words and serve as a pallbearer without collapsing from his grief. Cuddy had given him all the time off he needed but he hadn't taken any of it. He worked himself into a stupor and made the first ideas of ending his life alone in his office during the times when he should have been eating lunch with House. Everything just seemed hollow to him now. Patients going into remission did not give him the same bounce in his step that they used to. There was no one there he could celebrate it with anymore. Patients thanking him for delivering their doom unsettled him more than they ever had, and there was no one there to dangle ten bucks in front of him and feed him beer, pizza and bad movies after the fact.
Nothing made him smile anymore. Nothing made him laugh. Nothing even made him cry or get angry anymore. Two weeks after Greg House's death he decided he'd fought the good fight enough and stopped making an effort to feed himself. The only time he ever did eat was when someone brought something to him, and that was only out of some part of him that still wanted to be polite. Another man would have just tossed it as soon as the door closed, but Wilson could not even try to imitate that man without anyone there to encourage that side of him.
One month after Greg House's death he finally returned to their apartment, only because Cuddy had ordered him and had followed him to 221B to make sure he actually arrived. It was an empty hole to him now, not a home in the slightest. There were slight indications that there had once been two people living here at first. Two coats, two umbrellas, a blue backpack beside a leather briefcase, two controllers plugged into a PlayStation. The countless reminders just tormented Wilson, each time he came across something that House had left lying around, a half finished beer on the coffee table, an unread medical journal on the nightstand, some part of him would whisper to him that House was running behind today and would be home soon. Don't go moving things around without telling him, you know he hates that. That had brought Wilson some comfort for a couple of days, until finally the agony became too much and he had to throw everything of House's into the spare bedroom and lock the door.
At first Wilson had he was the one bringing things back out again. He'd find the PlayStation back out and plugged in with a paused game flashing on the television. There would be a Sherlock Holmes novel lying on the bed with pages that hadn't been dog eared before and an iPod lying on the coffee table, with headphones, playing "Baba O'Reily" full blast when he got back from work. He assumed that the part of James Wilson that hadn't died that night wanted to remember and was disgusted that he could just lock away his friend like this.
That idea had quickly been disproved when he realized that the key to the spare bedroom would move locations. Wilson liked to keep it hooked with the rest of his keys, but finding it by itself on House's nightstand or on top of the television or lying on the kitchen counter, and then seeming to have been lost, was just too erratic for it to be him. Wilson assumed that he was losing his mind and figured that was clue enough to get going on getting out of this disaster of a life before he lost it completely.
At first he just started drinking too much. He'd wake up with wicked hangovers and be so sick that Greg would have tied him to the bed and not let him dream of coming to work had he been around to stop him. He still came to work and refused to take sick time or personal time or whatever time Cuddy kept offering him. He still did his job despite it all. Wilson was still Head of Oncology and he had no right to inflict his misery on his patients, his misery was staying right where it was.
Three months and two days after Greg House had died was when the alcohol had vanished from the apartment. Wilson had marked it up as robbers, gotten the lock on the front door changed, and bought more. That would also mysteriously vanish as soon as he left for work. One time he did take a personal day and waited in the bedroom, door opened a sliver, to hear these stupid kids come in. Nothing had happened while he was awake, but when he woke up he'd find the spirits gone again. Eventually he stopped throwing his money away on the stuff. Maybe the kids would stop breaking in now since the apartment was now lacking anything they wanted.
Three months and twenty days after Greg House had died was when Wilson bought the first bottle of sleeping pills. He'd picked them up from the pharmacy innocently after work and had downed the bottle that night. He'd been totally confused when he woke up the next morning alive and well. A few nights later he'd bought a different brand and had tried again. Same result. The one difference was that this time he'd awoken to find a few empty candy boxes lying abandoned on the floor. The actual pills were nowhere to be found.
Four months and six days after Greg House had died was when he knew he had to end it all immediately. Things that were supposed to be locked away were still appearing at greater frequency and in larger numbers. Food would also be lying on the counter waiting for him that he knew he hadn't made himself. He hadn't made himself a meal, or eaten anything anyone had brought him, in days and it was beginning to show in the way his clothes seemed to hang off him now like a skeleton of sorts.
Thus, logically, he didn't make these meals. He hadn't seen the spare bedroom key in weeks so that meant he wasn't the one bringing things out again, and the door was always locked whenever he checked it. Either he officially had another personality or House himself was trying to interfere with things. The latter option was impossible but he couldn't shake the rightness surrounding it.
Later that night he'd gone for his ties to find that they were gone. He ran for his razor, that had been snapped in half and the blade itself was gone along with all the spare blades. A quick survey had shown that anything potentially deadly, from sharp objects to household cleaning products, had somehow vanished. He couldn't even leap out the windows since the apartment was on the ground floor. There was no trace of whomever, or whatever, had done this besides a note in handwriting that he somehow recognized at House's stuffed inside an empty bottle of Vicodin.
Can't let you have these.
The note was new; Wilson could tell that much and this bottle should have three quarters full. It was the one handed to him with the rest of House's effects at the hospital that night. Again he thought of perhaps it was House doing all of this. It was impossible but yet it explained so much. Some part of him was surprised to have no real reaction to the idea that he was living with a ghost, and that this ghost was doing everything he could to let him continue on in his misery. If there was a reaction at all it was anger.
The next morning Wilson called Cuddy and took a few personal days. He didn't get out of his pyjamas instead choosing to settle on the couch and turn on the television. He didn't get up for any reason except to go to the bathroom or to change DVDs if he was watching a movie. The only thing he ingested was water. Occasionally he'd doze off and find a sandwich or a TV dinner sitting on the coffee table. He'd shoved it on the floor and ignored it.
On the third morning he awoke to the obvious sounds of someone banging around in the kitchen, he'd gone back to bed. When he woke up there was some toast and a bowl of cereal lying there, he shoved it on the floor along with the rest and continued to stare at whatever was on the television. Later he heard the faucets being turned on and off, then the stereo turned on. Wilson turned up the volume. Six plates were smashed onto the floor and he squeezed his eyes shut and tried to ignore the demands. More smashing and then a deafening roar that Wilson had only heard a few times in his life.
GOD DAMMIT, JIMMY, STOP THIS!
That was he felt some thing hard and thin beat him across his shins. He yelped in pain and tried to massage the aching area with his eyes still closed only to be smacked across the fingers. Another blow to the shins, and more to his fingers each time he tried to reach for his shins.
"Greg, STOP IT!" Wilson screamed. "Just let me die!"
Tears began to pour from his eyes and when he opened them he saw House sitting on the coffee table, looking as he always had save for the absolutely tortured look on his face and the tears tracing down his own face. Wilson's vision blurred and he allowed the sobs to take a hold of him, curling up on the floor in the fetal position, crying and sobbing for House and death all at once. Through the hysterics he felt himself being held somehow, a beloved voice whispering things he couldn't make out through the haze and a hand rubbing his back. Eventually awareness left James completely.
When Wilson awoke he was laying on the couch with a blanket draped over him. The mess of food that he'd been throwing on the floor was gone. On the coffee table was an entire frozen pizza, a carton of milk, the key to the spare room, a cane that Wilson swore he had locked up, and a note in that familiar scrawl bearing four words that quickly emblazoned themselves into his brain.
Not on my watch.
The tears started up again with Wilson whispering apologies to House as he slowly ate the food before him. He didn't leave so much as a crumb behind.
- - - - - -
Two years, three months and eleven days after Greg House had made it quite clear that he was not going to allow James Wilson to kill himself was the day James Wilson died. Strangely enough it was also because of a traffic accident. He was walking back to the apartment with some groceries when the oncoming Honda had decided it was an excellent time to run the red light. The last thing Wilson had seen was the approaching headlights and when he'd opened his eyes again he was standing in the crowded synagogue that was holding his funeral.
It looked like some sort of hospital event. The place was crowded beyond belief and it seemed to drag on forever with the people speaking. He just wished they'd shut up and get on with it. Out of the massive attendance he could only point out a handful of people that he was happy to have there. His parents and younger brother were up front, the latter with his arm around the former while he tried to hold his own emotions in check. Cuddy and the ducklings were all there as well, Cameron sobbing piteously while Foreman and Chase tried to keep her steady. Cuddy's face was the picture of dignified grief, no tears but obviously in mourning. House's mother had also come, which surprised Wilson though it shouldn't have, and the entire Oncology department along with some patients.
Wilson smiled in the general direction of Doctor Brown, a man who had tried to fashion himself as House's successor as Wilson's best friend. Brown reminded him of Cameron in a way. He'd never said a word to him until after House's death, offering some support and trying to reach out to him. Wilson had tolerated the friendship but never let Brown anywhere near as close to as he'd allowed House to be. Their friendship extended only to the occasional lunch date, nothing more and never at the same tables where he and House frequented.
He understood now why House had found Cameron's crush almost insulting; he did not like being liked only because he was damaged, for that was what he had been at the end of the day. Despite the help he had received and the improvements he'd made, James Wilson as he had always been had died on that motorcycle with Greg House that night. Or, perhaps only came out at the apartment whenever House saw fit to remind him that he wasn't alone. Be it through a cup of coffee waiting for him when he woke up, a touch on the arm, or the Hitchcock films that would be TiVo'd when he got home.
With that thought he wondered where House was. Why wasn't he making some wisecrack about almost copying House's own death right about now? He scanned the room and, to his delight, found the older man leaning against the far left wall close to where Cuddy and his former fellows were sitting. He was dressed in the same blue jeans and Rolling Stones t-shirt that he'd been wearing the night of his accident and the observation that his cane was absent brought a delighted grin to Wilson's face. The older man's arms were folded across his chest as he stared at whoever was speaking and rolled his eyes at whatever gushing speech was being given. Some part of Wilson was glad Greg had died first, he wasn't sure he wanted to know what he would have said about him. The rest of him just stared at his long lost friend, drinking in the very sight of him. He waited patiently for House to shout out something or catch notice of him just so he could once again hear his voice.
But House wasn't in his normal mood. His stance gave nothing away but something in his eyes hinted at some inner pain. Those eyes, though staring at the podium, tended to wander to the coffin before it. They shut for a moment and he bowed his head, an obvious sadness overtaking him.
It hit him: House didn't know he was here. Wilson didn't know how this whole ghost business worked, but he wasn't sure if House had even been with him when it had happened. He had no recollection of anything between losing consciousness and now so had he not existed until this moment? How many days had House waited, not knowing if Wilson would come back as he had?
He was moving right away, walking up the aisle and to the front passing his casket without a glance. House had spotted him quite early but was rooted to the spot for several moments before running to meet him. They met in a fierce embrace that Wilson was sure he would have suffocated from in life. Greg's fingers were digging into his back as if he were afraid that Wilson was going to disappear the second he let go. Wilson grabbed on just as tightly and forced the tears pricking his eyes back as the finally pulled apart.
They stared at each other for a moment, still gripping each other by the forearms, neither saying a word and both just drinking in the sight of the other. House smiled at him and Wilson somehow couldn't find the will to smile back as he stared at his shoes. His thoughts turned to those dark months after the accident, House had been watching over him the whole time and when he'd moved to stop Wilson from throwing it all away he'd had the gall to be angry. House hadn't been torturing Wilson, Wilson had been the one doing the torturing. Merely saying he was sorry was a poor form of apology for what he'd made the other man witness.
Wilson looked up at the insistent squeezing of his forearms to meet vivid blue eyes again. "You didn't go through with it so don't apologize." Those eyes darkened for a moment. "I can't blame you anyway. I would have done the same thing."
Wilson shook his head furiously. "Not on my watch," he corrected as he pulled House to him for a second embrace.
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Legal Disclaimer: The authors published here make no claims on the ownership of Dr. Gregory House and the other fictional residents of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Like the television show House (and quite possibly Dr. Wilson's pocket protector), they are the property of NBC/Universal, David Shore and undoubtedly other individuals of whom I am only peripherally aware. The fan fiction authors published here receive no monetary benefit from their work and intend no copyright infringement nor slight to the actual owners. We love the characters and we love the show, otherwise we wouldn't be here.