A/N: Not for the squeamish!! This chapter details House's injuries, in a clinical sort of way, but it's still quite shocking and disturbing...consider yourselves warned! :P
Wilson hurried into the room, closing the door carefully behind him before moving swiftly around the gurney to face his friend. Though House was moaning and writhing on the narrow bed, as if desperately struggling to escape some unseen foe, his eyes were closed, and he might have appeared to be asleep and battling a nightmare, had Wilson not known better.
This was a textbook PTSD flashback.
"No...please!" House fairly sobbed, his hands fisting in the blanket that was now tangled around his legs. "Wilson..."
Too bad I've never actually dealt with textbook PTSD.
"House," Wilson murmured, keeping his voice low, not wanting to risk being overheard by any curious ears outside the door, as he crouched beside the gurney and reached out a gentle hand to rest on House's arm. "House, it's just me...it's Wilson...I'm here, okay?"
But the moment his hand touched House's sweat-dampened skin, the other doctor jerked away from him as if scalded by his touch, his body lurching across the narrow gurney. Wilson moved quickly, an arm around House's back preventing him from falling off the gurney onto the floor on the other side - but the gentle touch only seemed to further panic his friend, whose body clenched under his hand, trembling violently.
"Don't," House whispered, his eyes tightly closed, gasping out the words in a breathless, rasping voice. "Don't...touch me...don't...please..."
Wilson's heart lurched at the words, and his stomach clenched at the thought of his bold, confident friend reduced to such pleading desperation - and what it must have taken to achieve such a dreadful result. He closed his eyes for a moment, shaking his head slightly.
Control...get control, Wilson...can't fall apart...gotta be strong for him...
"House!" he spoke more firmly, though not raising his voice, wanting to break him out of his waking nightmare, but afraid of further frightening him if he spoke too loudly. "House...it's just me...it's okay, you're okay..."
He dared not move his hand, not when he had no way of knowing how House might react in his desperate, irrational state. He momentarily considered simply injecting his friend with the sedative, but the idea of sedating him without first breaking him out of his nightmare filled him with revulsion. It seemed somehow - underhanded, and even a bit dismissive of the ordeal his friend had been through.
"House...it's okay...it's Wilson...it's just me...it's all right...House...look at me..."
Eventually the soft, familiar voice and Wilson's gentle hand, moving in soothing little circles around his shoulder blade, began to draw House out of his hallucination. He slowly, apprehensively opened his eyes, blinking in confusion as he took in his friend's face, now inches from his own. He glanced over his shoulder, apparently surprised to see Wilson's hand on his shoulder, before meeting his friend's gaze again with a question in his eyes.
"You went away for a minute," Wilson explained with a smile, doing his best to replace the sorrow and despair he was feeling with humor in his dark eyes. "But you're here now." He paused, his smile fading to a serious expression, as he reassured House softly, "You're here, in the hospital...you're safe."
House looked away, immediately uncomfortable with the gentle concern he heard in Wilson's voice, as well as the scene he knew he must have made. The memories were still playing over in the back of his mind, and a cold shudder shook him as he tried to close them out. He masked his struggle and embarrassment with an irritated roll of his eyes, turning his head away, his words muttered under his breath.
"Oh, for God's sake, just sedate me already!"
Wilson hesitated for a moment, studying House's face, before sighing his acceptance and taking the syringe filled with sedative from his pocket. House's humiliation at Wilson's seeing his weakness, knowing what had happened to him at all, was a palpable presence in the room with them. He wasn't sure if avoidance of what had happened was the best tactic right now - he wasn't really sure of anything at all when it came to this horrific situation - but he was more than willing to spare his friend the torment of his thoughts and memories, at least for a little while.
"Okay," he agreed, his voice quiet and subdued as he nodded and reached uncertainly for House's arm, stopping just short of touching it, and allowing House to extend it the rest of the way.
House cringed, not missing Wilson's caution, and obviously hating himself for the fear he had shown that had led to it, even as he held out his arm for the needle. "Maybe you should double the dosage...triple it, even."
"Don't be ridiculous, that would kill you," Wilson muttered, fully aware that House knew that, and giving him a sharp glance, wondering just how he had meant those words.
House said nothing to clear up the question, and closed his eyes, letting out a slow breath of relief as he waited for the sedative to take effect. His voice trembled slightly, barely more than a whisper, and Wilson was startled when he felt a weak, shaking hand brush against his arm for just a moment, before falling back down onto the gurney.
This time, Wilson allowed the tears that welled in his eyes to fall, knowing that House would never know. He was already out, the tension easing from his shoulders as the drugs took effect, sending him into a mercifully dreamless sleep. He would be asleep for hours, so Wilson knew he had plenty of time for the examination he really, really, did not want to perform.
But he had no choice.
Pull yourself together, Wilson...get it together and do what you have to do...
Carefully, he pulled the blanket down, pulling it out from under House's legs and discarding it to the floor. He swallowed hard, his throat painfully dry, as his shaking hands moved toward the front of House's pants. As much as he knew that he was doing what he had to in order to help his friend, this still felt like a violation.
He'd never want you to see so much...not with him so vulnerable...
But...it doesn't matter what he wants right now. You've got to do this. You've got to think about what's best for him, not what he wants - or what you want. Stop being his friend, Wilson - and start being his doctor.
Strangely, the stern voice in his head sounded very much like House's voice.
Steeling himself for the damage he knew he would find, Wilson unfastened House's pants and underwear, and gently slid them down his legs and off, adding them to the piled blanket on the floor.
As much as he had tried to prepare himself - Wilson was completely unprepared for the extent of the damage that had been done to his friend. He felt a sick sensation in the back of his throat, a protective rage rising up in him as his wide, shocked eyes took in the countless injuries that covered House's still, naked form.
Fighting back the nausea, telling himself that there would be plenty of time later on to find the men responsible and see that they were punished, Wilson forced himself to focus on his medical training and what he had to do. To his credit, he was vaguely aware that he was stalling as he moved to the head of the gurney, inspecting the dark bruises and minor scrapes that marred House's face.
He frowned, alarmed when he noticed a strange band of bruising that formed an almost perfect circle around his neck. The bruises were nearly purple already, and the skin around them was raw, abraded.
"What the hell?" Wilson muttered to himself, leaning in closer, trying to determine what could be the cause of the strange injury.
Maybe he'll tell me...later, when he's...oh, who am I kidding?
Resigning himself to the fact that the strange marks would have to remain a mystery, Wilson moved lower in his inspection of House's body, noting the symmetrical bruises he had noticed before on his torso, realizing with a sort of muted horror that they were not restricted to his torso alone. His buttocks and legs, even his groin, were badly bruised in the same manner. Wilson's heart lurched as he realized that besides being raped, House had been very deliberately, systematically beaten on every inch of his body.
There were other bruises, less even, and Wilson supposed that they were from the fists and feet of his attackers, in a much less strategic attack than the beating with the cane. However, one thing about them did seem disturbingly deliberate. There seemed to be many more bruises on House's bad right leg than on the rest of his body. Wilson suppressed his anger at seeing that with an effort, trying to focus on the situation at hand.
This doesn't seem random...seems...very specific...targeted...
Deciding that before House left the hospital, he would have to perform the appropriate tests to be sure there was no internal injury, Wilson moved further downward - and froze, suddenly realizing that he had no further reason to put off the inevitable, ultimate invasion of his friend's privacy and dignity. Trying to think of it as any random patient - anyone but House - Wilson gently rolled him over onto his stomach.
He winced, not wanting to, but unable to keep from imagining the pain his friend must have endured, as he noted the dark bruising, the massive tearing that had been inflicted on him. The bleeding seemed to have stopped, Wilson noted with relief - but the sheer amount of the blood House had lost was a cause for concern. Wilson had seen a few victims of male rape before, and he had never seen so much bleeding in any of them.
Upon closer inspection, Wilson discovered something that made him feel all the more horrified, but explained the excess bleeding. In addition to the damage he had expected to find, the ragged marks of tearing, there were also other marks - straight, even cuts that seemed to have been made by a weapon of some kind...
Abruptly, Wilson's nausea overwhelmed him, as the horrific truth hit him, and he whirled around, leaning over the sink and vomiting, gasping for breath, struggling to keep his eyes open in spite of it all, because when he closed them, he could see it in his mind - the vicious brutality of the attack, the savage violation that had been inflicted on his best friend. It had not been enough for his rapists to abuse and degrade him; they had felt the need to increase his suffering and humiliation by assaulting him not only with their own bodies - but with a knife, as well.
I'll kill them...I'll track them down, and I'll kill them for this!
His hands shaking, almost frantic, Wilson poured himself a paper cup of water, allowing the water to run to rinse out the sink as he gulped the water and rinsed his mouth. He grabbed a paper towel and wet it, using it to wash his face, struggling to regain his composure.
This was not over yet.
Returning his attention to his patient, Wilson set about cleaning the wounds as gently as he could. He was aware that under the powerful sedatives he had administered, House would not feel any pain, but he still felt the need to be as cautious and gentle as possible.
Evidence...gotta be sure I gather the evidence...
Although the very idea disgusted him, and Wilson was quite sure that House would resist any suggestion of going to the authorities, he set aside the fluids he found in his friend's body, saving the evidence of the crime in a vial, so that if he could convince House to enlist the aid of the police, they would have DNA to prove the identity of his attackers.
His work of cleaning and bandaging House's injuries finally complete, Wilson got a new, clean blanket and laid it over his unconscious friend, doing his best to make sure that he was comfortable, wishing that he could move him from the narrow gurney into a real hospital bed. Then, his eyes widened with realization as he suddenly remembered the cane he had placed on the tray beneath the gurney.
Fingerprints...there'll be fingerprints on the cane...
Stripping off the dirty gloves he had just used for the examination, Wilson tossed them into the trash disposal and reached for a fresh pair, not wanting to leave his own fingerprints on the cane when he picked it up. He reached under the tray and pulled out the cane, looking it over thoughtfully, hoping that the men hadn't worn gloves, and had left some kind of halfway decent prints on the thing.
Suddenly, his eyes went wide with shock and he dropped the cane to the floor with a clatter that sounded exceptionally loud in the lonely stillness of the room, shaking his head in horror as he stared down at it, his mind struggling to deny what it already knew to be true.
He had found evidence, all right - evidence of an act he did not want to imagine, a degradation, an insult so obscene that it did not bear thinking about.
But Wilson could not help but think of anything else, the nightmare images flooding his mind against his will.
The rubber stopper on the base of the cane had been removed, leaving only the rough wood beneath - and the bottom six inches or so of the wood was stained dark red with blood.