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01 November 2006 @ 02:56 pm
Breathe, Keep Breathing (House/BSG, House/Wilson)  
Title: Breathe, Keep Breathing
Fandom:House/Battlestar Galactica (2003)
Pairing: House/Wilson
Rating: PG-13
Summary:They were on their way to a medical conference when the Cylons hit.
Notes: This is pretty much a House AU as opposed to a proper crossover. Many thanks to merriman, th_esaurus, and snakechamerfox for the betas.



Today, they've lost three.

Two were Wilson's and one was House's, but they don't separate them these days. Their numbers are theirs, another thing to be shared between them.

Wilson doesn't feel it as deeply. He's used to it, the taste of loss, of defeat. House rages against it silently, cold and quiet and restless.

One was an old woman, pneumonia. She was Wilson's, and he remembers that she had long, aged fingers, brittle and frail. It was a lost cause from the beginning. Not enough medicine, and anything they had would have to go toward the younger ones, the ones with a chance of surviving. Her name was Gloria, and Wilson had stood by her side until he saw her breath stop in her chest, felt her heart stop beating under his palms.

Wilson's other had been one of the crewmen, an engineer, who'd run himself ragged while on duty and fallen asleep while fixing one of the gears. Something sharp had sliced through his torso, catching parts of his liver and intestines. What Wilson remembers best is the blood that had poured over his fingers as he tried to stop the bleeding, the way it had dried on his hands and arms, because it had been too quick, too soon for gloves or scrubs. And even though Wilson knows that there are times when there's nothing you can do, he still blames himself for not being there fast enough, for not being good enough at what he does.

The third was House's, a young woman with dark eyes and a small smile. Kidney failure of some sort, and no spare kidneys fit to be donated. House hadn't disliked her, which was something in itself, and he'd done what he could. It bothers him that he didn't know what she had, but there are too many patients these days and not enough medical equipment. He thinks it was rhabdomyolysis, the symptoms fit, but there was no way to confirm, no way to be sure. She died while House with was other patients. Quietly, the medics said, but House didn't really want touchy-feely, personal details. She had died because he couldn't save her. That was all. He certainly wasn't going to be able to do anything about it now.

At the end of the day, they're both exhausted. Wilson collapses on their bed, curling up close to cold metal of the wall. House lies down next to him, arm tossed over Wilson's torso.

They sleep.

---

They were on the way to a medical conference on Leonis when the Cylons hit, Intersun Flight 2065. House was sleeping. Wilson was reading the Aerlon Journal of Medicine.

"Shit," Wilson said immediately after they heard the news. He curled his fingers around the armrest, knuckles whitening, and stared out the window into space.

"Guess this means I don't have to do clinic duty for the rest of the month," House muttered, but his voice was faint, and his heart wasn't in it.

The captain had announced it over the loudspeakers, voice distant and stammering, trying to keep himself together, and the cabin, not usually noisy, had become even quieter. Wilson saw the fear, the panic on the faces all around them. Even House had taken on an air of shocked silence. It was hard to absorb, the fact that it was all really gone.

House had closed his eyes, rested his forehead against his cane, and Wilson tilted his head back, stared at the ceiling. It was House that broke the silence. "What next?" he asked. The other passengers looked between one another. No one had an answer.

That irritated House, because if there was one thing House couldn't stand, it was complacency. His face took on an expression that was probably most familiar to Foreman, Cameron, and Chase, but they were long gone now, and the only one who could recognize it was sitting right next to him. "Well, we're not going to get anything done if we just sit here," he snarled, standing up, right hand tight around his cane.

Wilson smiled at that, though it was tinged with a certain amount of sadness. One of the other passengers spoke up, a dark skinned man with a small boy at his side, "Do you have a plan?"

House thumped his cane against the floor in irritation. "Not really, but it sure as Hades doesn't involve waiting here for the Cylons to kill us all."

He stalked toward the pilot's cabin, and Wilson followed. No one else got up from their seats.

The pilots hadn't been too happy about them invading their personal space, but they understood what it meant to House, understood his need to know. They watched as the remnants of the human race gathered together, watched as the Cylon raiders came and went, watched as they jumped out into the nothingness, jumped toward a planet that may not even exist.

---

Wilson has a shrine to Apollo, the god of healing, in their cabin. It has a few small idols, some candles set up, and while it's nothing like the one in Delphi, it's enough. In mornings, he prays in front of it, asking the god for mercy on his patients, for the small miracles that make their day worthwhile. There had been a girl with a high fever, and it had been looking bad for her. The parents couldn't get the antibiotics she needed, and Wilson had almost despaired of being able to help. That night, he'd prayed more than he'd had since he was ten, and in the morning, her fever had broken. He remembers the tears flowing down the parents' faces, the way it had warmed him for the rest of the week.

Up until Wilson was fourteen, his parents made him go to Temple every Sunday, and his memories of the time are mostly of trying not to fall asleep as the priest spoke of the Lords. At the end of every visit, they would pray in front of the shrine, fingers interlaced, heads bowed. He hadn't really known what to pray for then. He'd asked for stupid things, like a new bike, for Katie to notice him, to do well on his math exam. Nowadays, he has better things to ask for. Enough to make it worth it.

House watches as Wilson prays, sometimes, but never joins in. They've talked about it, some, because House doesn't like the thought of Wilson becoming one of those religious freaks, all irrational belief. He doesn't like the thought of Wilson losing the sharpness of his mind to the whims of some higher beings or worse, some idiotic leader, all charisma and no brain. Wilson always tells him he's being paranoid, because he is. Those conversations never go anywhere, though, and they only ensure that Wilson prays early in the morning, or at least what passes for mornings in space, and that House sleeps late.

"Apollo's not going to save them," House tells Wilson on a rare morning when he's actually awake that early. It had been a bad day, the day before, and it makes him irritable, spoiling for a fight. "He's not going to save us either." His hair is still mussed from sleep, and he's still wearing the plain white shirt from bed. He stretches his arms over his head, and his leg throbs, a dull ache that he's become accustomed to. He wishes they still had a steady supply of Vicodin. Wilson does too.

Wilson rolls his eyes and fingers the white prayer beads wrapped around his left palm and wrist. He doesn't get up from where he's kneeling. "You don't have to be such a frakking pessimist all the time."

"You could at least pretend to have higher brain functions sometimes, you know. It'd be fun. I could even pretend to believe you and everything." House glares at the back of Wilson's head.

"I need to do this, House. Can't you just accept that?" Wilson asks. He doesn't turn to face the other man.

"No," House says, completely honest.

"Go back to sleep," Wilson tells him. House doesn't, preferring to watch, but he stays silent this time, not quite a concession, but close. All around them, the ship hums, quietly. Wilson presses a kiss to the beads, lips sliding across the warm wood, and mouths a silent prayer to Apollo for his friend.

---

Their first patient had been a heart attack within the first few days, weakened body unable to handle the near-constant FTL jumps. There was a scream for a doctor at the end of the cabin of their passenger ship, and Wilson ran down the aisles on pure instinct, House following. It was an all too familiar sight, the body laid out on the floor, and it was calming to be back here, where the things they had to worry about were simple and focused. Don't let the patient die, keep your crap together, don't forget all that stuff you learned in med school.

Wilson was the one who had knelt to the floor, checking for breathing, heartbeat, clearing airways, while House yelled out orders, getting the defibrillator, some aspirin. They managed to stabilize him well enough with what they had, but there was too much chaos outside for them to get proper medical care. They tried. They really did. But the patient didn't survive the next jump.

It was very hard to keep that from feeling like defeat.

Things began to settle down after a while, though as the Fleet reorganized, they'd been needed all over. Doctors were in short supply, and the constant jumps had not been good for anyone.

House did not take very well to the massive increase in case load, but he still begrudgingly visited each patient, still treated their various medical ailments as best as he was able. It was rather like being trapped in the clinic for the rest of his life, but that was still better than letting the boredom get to him. Wilson handled the changes better, but it was still exhausting, still new and strange and uncomfortable.

"You owe me ten cubits," Wilson said on the fifth day of treating patients. They'd been given a cabin on the Sargon, a smaller ship where what remained of the Colonial government gathered together a ragtag group of medical personnel, working as a traveling hospital of sorts.

House looked up from the trashy romance novel in hand, a poor replacement for his soaps. "What was it this time?"

"Lung cancer. He has two months at the most." Wilson leaned against the bulkhead, closing his eyes and rubbing his forehead.

That got an eyebrow raise from House. "How'd you manage to diagnose that? Did I just miss the CT scanner you have stashed away?" They both felt the lack of proper medical equipment, House most of all, and the best of what they had went to Galactica. House thought it was grossly unfair, but even he had to concede the point that medical care for the people responsible for keeping them all alive was important.

"Diagnosed before the attack. I just told him how long he had." The man had been a heavy smoker with no intention of quitting, and Wilson had done his best to judge the length of time from the symptoms. Afterward, the man had shook Wilson's hand and thanked him without showing any emotion at all.

House handed over the cubits without further argument.

---

House has his own stash of painkillers, hidden under the bed, that Wilson doesn't know about. Or at least, that Wilson hasn't really attempted to find out about. House generally tries not to think of what's going to happen when he runs out. He's cut back, which hasn't been pleasant for anyone, especially House. His leg hurts all the time now, but he has to limit his usage to the times when it hurts badly enough that he can barely function. It's still a temporary fix, though. Even with Black Market connections, the supply is not infinite.

Wilson worries, but he knows better than to show House anything resembling sympathy or compassion when it comes to things like this.

One night, House can't find the box, and the list of people who would have taken it is rather short. He confronts Wilson before they go to bed. "Where's my box?" he asks.

Wilson looks completely non-plussed. "What box?" He loosens his tie, a leftover from before, when people cared more about professionalism. They're not so picky anymore.

"You know what box." It's a typical House maneuver, just pretend that your assumptions are correct and try to bluff people into giving themselves away. It still works, most of the time.

Wilson, however, was too familiar with the tactic. "You see, if I knew what box, I wouldn't have asked you what box it was."

While he does have a point, House decides to press forward anyway. He points an accusing finger at Wilson. "You're trying to fix me, aren't you?"

Wilson sits on the bed and pulls off his socks. "If I were trying to fix you, you wouldn't know about it." House makes a sound of frustration, and Wilson's eyes fix on him. "If this is about your leg--"

House explodes at that. "No, it's not about my frakking leg. Not everything is about my leg." It aches as he says that, as if the pain was summoned by their words, and House does his best to hide it. No need to give Wilson any more ammo. Wilson does notice, but he has the good grace to pretend that he doesn't.

He doesn't break his gaze, however. "When it comes to you," Wilson says, "it's always about your leg." What he doesn't say is that it can't be like that anymore, not when there are more important things to worry about, not when they're all just barely cheating death.

"Nuh-uh. Sometimes it's about how Daddy didn't love me enough." House gets more caustic and childish when he's uncomfortable and angry, and Wilson's too tired to have a proper fight.

"I don't know where your box is," he says, backing off.

House, unable to argue with the finality of the statement, stalks off, ending the conversation. He finds the stash later, hidden under the couch cushions, where he shoved it after shooting up morpha that afternoon.

---

Wilson kissed House for the first time two weeks after the first attack. They'd lost five that day, and they were both exhausted, on the verge of collapse. It wasn't easy on either of them, to lose so many so fast, but they didn't talk about that. Instead, they got drunk on cheap, Black Market alcohol and made completely inappropriate comments about the female anchor of The Colonial Gang.

"I mean, I bet she'd be a wild ride, all that sexual repression," House said, making vague motions at the wireless. "You can hear it in her voice." The only channel broadcast throughout the Fleet was Talk Wireless, which had always been boring, slightly less so now. Sometimes, you just had to make your own entertainment.

Wilson scrunched his face into a grimace. The alcohol was pretty disgusting. "Nah," he said. "Probably just a prude."

House rolled his eyes. "And you call yourself a ladies' man."

It was then that Wilson leaned over and kissed him, drunken and sloppy. And House had kissed back, just as drunkenly and just as sloppily.

When they broke apart, they stared at each other for a moment, catching their breath.

"This won't bring it all back," House said, fingers tightening around Wilson's forearms, because it wouldn't. It wouldn't bring back Picon, the hospital, the life they once had. It wouldn't bring back Foreman, Cameron, Chase, Cuddy, Julie, Stacy, the people left behind. It couldn't. The words were almost an accusation, but Wilson didn't flinch.

"I didn't think it would," he replied. He wasn't drunk enough to slur his words, and his voice was surprisingly clear.

House studied him, eyes sharp and focused. "What is it about, then?" It was another puzzle to solve, another thread to untangle.

"Because I want to. Because I've wanted to. Because I'm sick and tired of waiting." Wilson's eyes were dark in the dim light of the cabin, brown merging into black.

"Waiting for what?" House asked. He sounded as if he were trying to wrap his mind around a particularly difficult problem. He hadn't realized, hadn't seen.

Wilson sighed and rubbed his neck. "For you to notice. For it to be the right time. For me to stop being a coward."

House considered that for a moment, the silence hanging between them tense and uncomfortable. Finally, House said, "You're a frakking idiot. You know that, right?"

Wilson shrugged and looked away. "I must be. I mean, I did kiss you after all." His words were sharp, dry, anger directed inwards.

"You know this is going to leave us lonely, bitter, miserable people who will never love again, right?" House said, but he didn't use his, 'I'm-mocking-you-because-you're-an-idiot' voice. He used his, 'I'm-mocking-you-because-I-don't-want-to-admit-you're-right' voice, and they both understood what that meant.

Wilson let out the breath he didn't know he was holding and smirked, leaning over again. "Or, in your case, leave you in the exact same condition I found you in."

House rolled his eyes and pulled Wilson closer, their lips barely brushing one another. This wouldn't fix anything, they knew. This wouldn't make anything right, anything perfect. It wouldn't bring anything back. But maybe it would make things just a little more tolerable. Maybe that would be enough. "Shut up," House said. "I want to make out like horny teenagers."

Wilson obliged.

---

House delivers a baby in the morning. He's the doctor on call at that particular moment, and while he's wishing that he could sleep, one of the medics comes and gets him. Wilson, who was keeping him company at the time, follows, under the excuse that he wants to make sure House doesn't kill anyone. House suspects it's really just latent maternal instinct.

The walls of the cabin are painted a dark gray, and as they enter, Wilson finds himself missing hospital-white. It's less foreboding that way, more soothing. The girl is young, not absurdly young, but still younger than they were used to seeing before. It makes sense, though. It's harder to wait these days. She's breathing deeply, lose gown doing nothing to hide the swell of her stomach. She looks terrified, but she calms a bit when she sees them. Her husband sits to her left, clutching her hand tightly.

The birth goes off without a hitch, surprisingly enough, and within the hour, the parents are holding their very own screaming ball of female flesh. Wilson thinks she's cute, and tells the parents so.

Later on, House spins his cane while sitting in the hallway, waiting for Wilson. The cane he's using today is the one Wilson gave him for his birthday three years ago, the one with an intricately carved snake wrapped around the wood. He slides his fingers over it, memorizing the texture of it, the dips and curves under his fingertips.

When Wilson sits down next to him, he smirks. "Did the girl-to-girl-to-girl bonding go well?" he asks. "Did you trade fashion tips?" The question sounds almost anachronistic these days. New clothes are a luxury that few indulge in anymore.

Wilson ignores him. "They're naming her Laura," he says. He smiles gently, the smile he reserves for small children and puppies.

House snorts. "After the president. How quaint." The cane nearly slips away from him, but he catches it just in time.

"Indeed," Wilson says, his tone placating. The smile hasn't left his face.

They're at the end of House's shift, and Wilson's won't begin for another few hours. It might be better to go back to their cabin, to get some sleep, but it's comfortable, easy right here, and neither of them want to get up. So they sit there, watching as patients, medics, other doctors wander by. It's been a good day. They don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but today, today's been a good day.

Today, they've gained one.


FIN.


Next: The Drying of Your Tears
 
 
 
Adeline: house: house/wilson 06 ((home))adeline on November 2nd, 2006 03:35 pm (UTC)
Guh! Brilliant. ♥ *mems*
thedeadparrot: crouching tigerthedeadparrot on November 3rd, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm flattered you like it!