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Wilson Fest: A Celebration of all Things Wilson
When Things Go Wrong 
14th-Nov-2009 10:11 pm
joan and cbg
Title: When Things Go Wrong
Author: tobiahawk
Prompt: Wilson goes sailing (WilsonFest prompt 98)
Rating: PG/PG-13
Character(s)/Pairing(s): House/Wilson friendship (no slash intended)
Warnings: Brief, brief mention of suicidal ideation; small S6 spoilers
Disclaimer: Do not own House or any of the characters
Summary: Wilson copes, or fails to cope, through sailing

When Things Go Wrong

Author’s note: I would love any feedback, good or bad! Also, I do not own House or any of the characters. Thanks for reading!

Wilson had never taken House sailing, not that either of them had ever broached the topic, at least not in so many words. Had Wilson asked, he is sure that House would have made a million and one “poop deck” jokes. And then he would have shown up anyway, because that was House.

Wilson was surprised by all the ways he missed House, all the million of unacknowledged ways his friend completed him. It was in the way Wilson always ordered double-portions. In the way he never really expected privacy at work, in the way he was always half way up at 10 PM, waiting for that knock on his door. It was in the way Wilson breathed, the way he listened for the sound of a cane knocking against the hallway floor, the way he knew a board meeting would never go by without the phrase, “We need to talk about House.” It was in the way he smiled, in the way he walked and looked and thought and spoke. It was in the way he saw the world and in the way the world saw him.

Before, after Amber has died, Wilson had been too consumed by grief to miss House. No, he realizes quickly, that wasn’t right. He had missed House, but his grief for Amber had overshadowed everything else, an eclipse across his soul. He had thought all that grief had been for her; he had not realized that a portion of it had been for House as well. Now, with House in Mayfield, he saw that clearly. Too clearly.

Wilson goes sailing when things go wrong.



Wilson had gotten into med school—and not just any med school. No, it was UPenn, Ivy League, top tier, prestige and glamour all the way. It was his dream, and, perhaps more importantly, his parents’ dream; this what every parent secretly wants to tell all the neighbors when they asked how so-and-so was doing. “Oh, he’s at an Ivy League medical school,” they would say, secretly—or not so secretly—more than a little proud.

This was what Wilson had worked for all those sleepless nights when he slaved over OChem models. This was what he had worked for all those days when he had helped transport patients through the hospital corridors. This was what he had worked for when he edged out a spot on Dr. Tbaski’s famous cell division lab as a second semester freshman, the youngest student ever to join. This would set Wilson up for life. This was what he wanted.

Wasn’t it?

It wasn’t that Wilson was worried he wouldn’t be a good doctor. He knew he would. He was kind, caring, and empathic. He was smart but not arrogant. He was good-looking. He was reasonable. He did well in science. This job was, on paper, made for him.

No, what worried Wilson was that he knew he would be a good doctor. That he would be kind and empathic. That he would hold the hands of dying patients and be torn up about them at night. That ghosts and “what ifs” would haunt him. That each death, even each illness, would inevitably weigh heavy on his soul. That he would care. That he would care too much.

Wilson had taken the intent to matriculate form, signed it, and then placed it carefully back in the envelope. He had then taken the acceptable letter itself and ripped it in pieces until his hands were filled with tiny shreds of paper. He tossed them into the icy, gray water, scattering them. The shards floated there on the surface for a minute as though they were a thousand tiny icebergs, and then they fell like weighty pebbles, out of sight if not out of mind.

He looked at the intent to matriculate form and wished he wasn’t such a coward.

Wilson goes sailing when things go wrong.


Off the Pennsylvania-New Jersey Coast

The call had come last night. When his phone had rung at 10:37, Wilson had expected it to be Danny. After all, Danny was the only person who ever called Wilson that late. In fact, Danny was pretty of much the only person who called Wilson at all.

The voice on the other end of the line, however, had not been Danny, but their mother instead, frantic with worry. Danny was missing. Danny was gone, and no one had seen in five days. There was no note. Did Wilson know anything?

No, he said, but it was a lie, tarred and covered in feathers, He knew how long it had been since Danny had last called him. He knew how that call had ended. He knew the sound of receiver clicking, of Danny’s voice ending in mid-word. He knew it had been five days.

Five days.

Wilson had gotten his gastroentology test back that day, the test he had hung up on Danny to study for. Half of his class had failed it. Wilson had gotten an uncurved A. He had been elated just hours earlier, but he wasn’t so proud now.

Growing up, Danny had always been the smarter one, the one for whom his parents had predicted the most lavish success. Wilson, though smart in his own right, had always stood in the academic shadow his brother cast, the intellectual versus the empath. Danny had never been arrogant about his own brilliance, however; rather, he had always looked up to his older brother, the athlete, the do-gooder, the thinker. On the other hand, Wilson had always admired his brother’s quickness of thought, the way in which he seemed relatively unphased by the emotional and ethical qualms which so often had left Wilson in paralyzing indecision.

They had worked well together, Danny’s head and Wilson’s heart—until, that is, Danny’s mind had began playing tricks on him, creating voices out of nothing, sapping his motivation, leading him to go days without showering, weeks without brushing his teeth. Danny had been diagnosed with schizophrenia just a few months before enrolling at Princeton. His brilliant mind was still there, but it was now shrouded by dual layers of madness and medication, which made him call Wilson and ramble for hours, rarely, if ever, truly making sense. Wilson sometimes wondered if the brother he had grown up with was still in there. Danny, however, had still seen Wilson for the caring empathy he always had been. Hence the calls.

But five days ago, Wilson had broken character, and his family was now paying the impossibly high price.

Be what you seem, he had thought. Rules are not made to be broken.

Neither, it seems, are roles.

For just a minute, Wilson stared out at the cold blue of the eastern sea board and wondered just how much it would hurt to drown.

Then he turned the boat around and sailed back in.

Danny is hurting. I can’t

It is all in the roles we play.

Wilson goes sailing when things go wrong.


New Orleans

The harbor manager would not rent him a boat.

“Commercial fishing and registered tourist vessels only,” the man had answered without a hint of sympathy.

“But…” Wilson had started and then stopped. But what? But his divorce had become official today? But he had screwed up a marriage? But he had cheated?

“But I wanted to,” he finished lamely.

“No one here cares you want… Dr. Wilson?” The harbor manger said, his voice arching in surprise as he read the title Wilson had provided on the now-useless rental application.

“I’m here for a medical conference.”

The manager stares it him. “Go do that,” he said, and Wilson finally gave up.

Wilson did not go sailing that weekend. He also committed his first crime, and the only one to which he has no ethical or moral defense. It was the day he met Gregory House.

Wilson didn’t go sailing, and, somehow, in the end, everything turned out just right.


After Amber died, Wilson didn’t go sailing, either. He didn’t go to work. He barely ate and seldom slept. He cried and mourned. He put up pictures of Amber in their old room. He spoke to her.

But most all, he tried to convince himself he hated Gregory House.

It almost worked, but in the end, “almost” really does only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. It does not count, as his failed marriages had taught him, in love, nor does it count in life and death. Wilson knew this, of course, thanks to that Ivy League medical degree, and thanks also to his broken, shattered heart.

But what he did not know—and desperately did not want to know—is that “almost” does not matter in friendships, either. That “almost” would not free him from House. That “almost” would be, as much as he protested, what saved him from himself.

Wilson didn’t go sailing, but he almost drowned nevertheless.


Dr. Nolan had called yesterday and given Wilson an edict he both expected and dreaded: Do not talk to House.

It’s the right thing, Wilson knows, and so he repeats it like a mantra, hoping he will believe it, hoping it will not pierce his heart.

He thinks of the stone edifice of Mayfield and shutters just a little bit.

Be okay. Please.

Wilson goes sailing when things go wrong.

16th-Nov-2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on participating in Wilson Fest! Thanks again for your interest and support. :D

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Edited at 2009-11-16 08:55 pm (UTC)
19th-Jan-2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
It was a nice story, someone should say that already :-)
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