Author's note: Will it never end? In this caseyes. Here's the fourth and final installment of the H/W fics that began with Lost Causes.
It picks up not long after Reverse Psychology. Y'all already know I suck at summaries, so all I'm going to say is the only reason I wrote a fourth installment is that I've been ignoring Wilson's fidelity issues.
"How much vicodin are you taking?"
House stared out the window. A heavy rain was falling and he swore if he paid close attention he could feel the individual damaged nerves in his leg firing every time a raindrop splatted against the glass.
"House, how much?"
Unwilling to answer just yet, House looked around the exam room. He was struck by the thought that there was nothing in the room that wasn't clinical. Sterile. He made a mental note to send an email to Cuddy suggesting they do something about the décor. Sick people spent hours in these rooms and sick people needed a distraction. Pictures of naked not-sick people would do for a start.
House finally looked at his interrogator. Dr. Larson Larson was a brick wall with a crew-cut. He'd played linebacker for some backwater college in the Appalachians, and he looked like he could slap on a helmet and still play today. He was also an anesthesiologist, and the director of the pain clinic at Princeton-Plainsboro.
"About half of what I was taking," House finally told him.
"You know I normally insist that my patients take only the medications that I've prescribed," Larson said. "How can I monitor your response to treatment if you're taking drugs I don't know about?"
"But you do know about the vicodin," House pointed out.
"How many per day?"
"Depends on the day."
Larson rubbed his hands down his thick thighs and sighed. He'd gotten to know House well enough that he didn't expect cooperation any more. "Have you been keeping a pain journal like I asked?"
"Got it right here." House pulled a small spiral notebook from his jacket pocket, along with a couple of napkins and a magazine subscription card. He handed them to Larson, who merely shook his head and spread the scribbled bits of paper across the counter.
After a moment Larson turned to House with a thoughtful expression. "Looks to me like you're starting to get some results from the new regimen."
"Could be." House wasn't going to commit to anything, not if there was a chance he'd lose his vicodin. He wasn't going to think about what that meant either.
"Your average pain score is definitely lower," Larson said. "The breakthrough pain is more frequent, but that's not surprising. Once you've adapted to the new regimen that should resolve."
"Average pain is lower long as I keep taking the vicodin," House said. "The new drugs help, I admit that, but they alone can't cut it. I still have pain."
"Vicodin alone can't cut it either. It wasn't controlling your pain even this well." Larson handed the notebook back to House. "I never promised I could eliminate the pain entirely. What I can do is help you get better control with safer methods."
"Have you considered the possibility that I won't be able to completely stop vicodin?" House asked.
"I'd really like to get you off it entirely," Larson said. "But yes, it's possible that you're going to need a narcotic. I'm going to step up the neurontin a little in the meantime. Let me know if that helps."
"Believe meyou'll hear from me if it doesn't," House said. He pushed up from the chair, eager to escape. The worst part of this whole pain management thing wasn't the ups and downs he had while adjusting medications, it was having his drug use scrutinized and analyzed. It made him feel like a common street junkie, and House had never been common about anything in his life.
"And I'd like to schedule you for an angio," Larson added before House could reach the door.
"I reviewed your chart. You haven't had any vascular follow up in years," Larson said. "I think it'd be worth doing. If you've got any kind of ischemia going on, that's going to cause a different kind of pain and it's going to need a different kind of pain relief."
"I don't have vascular disease," House said.
"Vascular disease caused the infarction in the first place. We need to make sure there isn't more."
"Together or separate?"
"Together." House hooked his cane over his forearm as he pulled out his wallet. The cafeteria cashier stared at him, mouth gaping open. Embarrassed, and angry at being embarrassed, House shoved the money at her and grabbed his tray. He turned to find Wilson, just behind him, holding the back of his hand against his forehead with a look of intense concentration on his face.
"Checking for fever," Wilson said as he lowered his hand.
"You feel sick?" House asked.
"I must be. I just saw you pay for not only your lunch, but mine. Clearly I'm delirious."
"Shut up or you'll be wearing that lunch," House said. Wilson grinned and followed House to a table at the far side of the room. House sat with his back to the wall so he could people-watch. He didn't know what he'd see, but human beings were odd creatures. Chances were he'd find something to engage his interest.
"Really," Wilson said as he took the chair next to House. "What's the occasion?"
"Then why the sudden generosity?" Wilson's fork was poised just above his lasagna as he watched House intently.
"A guy can't do something nice for no reason?"
"Not if the guy is you." Wilson began eating which House was pretty sure was Wilson's way of avoiding his intimidating stare. Which was not to say Wilson needed to use avoidance techniques; he was fairly immune to most of House's methods of intimidation by now.
"Settled a bet with Chase and decided to share," House said. "After all, if not for you I wouldn't have won the bet."
"How so?" Wilson asked. He shoveled another bite of lasagna in his mouth but kept a wary eye on House.
"I guessed you'd be a screamer."
Wilson's fork dropped to his plate with a clatter. "You didn't."
"You're not the strong, silent type and you know it," House said, deliberately misinterpreting the look on Wilson's face.
"Not the point," Wilson said.
"Don't worry, I didn't go into detail," House said. There hadn't actually been any bet. The lunch was simply a random act of niceness on House's part, but he knew Wilson would never believe that. It was easier on both of them if House lied. "I'm the only who gets to know the specifics of your bedroom vocalizing."
"You do say the sweetest things." Wilson shook his head and picked up his fork. House gave a non-committal shrug. He did say the sweetest things, just not in a way most people could understand.
"You'd think Chase would know better than to bet against you by now," Wilson added.
"Chase stubbornly insists on trying to out-stubborn me." House finally looked at his own lunch. Funny, the chicken casserole had seemed a whole lot more appealing before he got it out into the daylight. He perused the busy cafeteria rather than stare at food he was putting in his mouth. It tasted better if he didn't look at it. After a moment, his eyes narrowed. "Isn't that Ron Adams?"
Wilson's head jerked up and he looked in the direction of House's gaze. He turned back to House, shaking his head in warning. "Don't."
"I didn't say anything," House protested.
"You were thinking it."
"Is thinking against the law now?"
"In your case, it should be." Wilson laid his fork across the plate and wiped his fingers on the napkin. "I'm serious, House. Leave it alone."
"You're not going to try to tell me it doesn't bother you." House knew damn well it did bother Wilson. Most of their co-workers had responded to the news that House and Wilson were an item with a mild surprise that quickly faded into indifference. A few of the female personnel had given House the evil eye, believing he was somehow responsible for Wilson falling off the heterosexual wagon, but eventually even they simply shrugged and adjusted their Wilson-centered fantasies to fit. Only a very few had been openly hostile, and most of them were people House didn't like to begin with. However some of them were people Wilson had liked. People like Ron Adams.
"Of course it bothers me," Wilson said. He shoved his plate away from him. House eyed it, but decided he wasn't in the mood for Italian. Of course, at this point he wasn't in the mood for chicken casserole either. "Lots of things bother me. Some of it can't be fixed."
"The question is do you want it fixed?" House asked.
"Not your way," Wilson said quickly. He sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Would I like Ron to stop being a jerk? Sure. I'd also like you to stop being a jerk. I'm not betting on either."
"Hmm, bitchy," House observed. "If this is the treatment I get for buying you lunch...."
"Thanks for lunch," Wilson said. He gave House a pointed look. "No thanks for terrorizing Ron."
"You never let me have any fun anymore," House whined.
House sat with his back to his desk, tossing his vicodin bottle from hand to hand. He had to admit, if only to himself, that the vicodin had become a sort of charm, a talisman, and he felt vulnerable without it. Larson wanted to eliminate it, and Wilson certainly hated his dependency on the drug. But he was afraid to give it up, afraid he couldn't get along without it anymore than he could get along without his cane.
House looked over his shoulder as Foreman approached, carrying an unwieldy stack of x-rays with him.
"Latest scans on our patient," Foreman said as he stuck two of the films up on the light box. House shoved his pills in his pocket and rolled his chair closer to peer at the films.
"Give me the chart," House said as he got up and grabbed his cane from where it was hanging from the side of the desk.
"What are you going to do?"
"Give this to someone who can actually do something about it." House waved bye with the chart and left Foreman in the middle of the office, a perplexed expression on his face.
House took a sharp right out of the office and stalked down the hall at a steady pace until he reached Wilson's office. He opened the door with a flourish, which was totally wasted since Wilson was sprawled in his chair, asleep.
House whacked his cane loudly against the front of the desk. "Got a patient for you."
"Just what I wanted," Wilson mumbled dryly. He opened his eyes and took his feet off his desk. He'd learned that when House showed up, nap time was over. "However, doesn't that leave you with none and me with about three hundred and seventy-six?"
"I thought it was three hundred and seventy-nine."
"Two died and one went to Mayo for a second opinion," Wilson said. He rubbed at his eyes and glanced at the clock. "And really, I'm not looking to replace them."
"Forty pack-year history of smoking, spiculated mass in the right upper lobe, mediastinal lymphadenopathy, and a frontal mass which caused a seizure which why he ended up in our emergency room." House gave Wilson a pointed look as he tossed the chart on his desk. "If it walks like cancer and talks like cancer...."
"Lung mass accessible by bronch?" Wilson pulled the chart in front of him and turned on the desk lamp.
"Probably." House plopped down on Wilson's couch and looked around. "We eating in or out tonight?"
"Your turn to cook," Wilson said in a distracted tone, his eyes fixed on the chart. "You know, you really should consider having the angio."
"For dinner?" House asked. Wilson raised his head, an exasperated look on his face. House would see that exasperation and raise him a pissed off. "And how the hell do you know about the angio?"
"I'm your doctor."
"You're my dealer," House taunted. But he wasn't as angry with Wilson as he was with Larson, the big fat squealer. House had deliberately kept his visits to the pain clinic from Wilson because if it didn't work . He preferred that Wilson believe that he was too stubborn to try other methods rather than know that he'd tried and failed.
"I'm your primary physician, which means I get copies of every visit, every test you have in this hospital," Wilson said.
"You knew all along I was being seen in the pain clinic?" House asked. "Why didn't you say something?"
"Why didn't you?" Wilson asked. He set the cancer file aside. "I assumed there was a reason you hadn't told me. I can't quite figure out what that reason might be, but it's hardly the first thing I haven't understood about you."
"It's none of your business."
"I think I could convincingly argue the point but ." Wilson played with his pen, bouncing it on the desk blotter. "The vicodin refill you asked for, was that to prevent me from knowing you weren't using as much, or because you really needed it?"
"I needed the refill," House said. Sort of. He had cut back some. "Maybe not quite yet."
Wilson nodded. "If you don't want me to get copies of your clinic notes, you need to tell Larson."
"Then you'll just be bugging me directly for information."
"All I care about is that you're doing something," Wilson said. "I don't need to know the details."
"I don't care if you know," House said. He didn't. And he did. But that was his own screwed up psyche talking. "What I don't want is you and Larson conspiring behind my back."
"I promise not to communicate with Dr. Larson in any way without your express permission." Wilson placed his hand over his heart and looked at House with such an earnest expression that House knew he was crossing the fingers of his other hand behind his back.
"Huh," House snorted with as much disbelief as he could muster. He knew Wilson would only do it if he felt he really needed to know, only because he cared. But he'd still do it.
"New patient: Karen Porter," Foreman said. He tossed a file at House and headed straight for the coffee.
"Abdominal pain?" House said as he glanced at the admission form. "I hate abdominal pain."
"I don't imagine the patient is particularly fond of it either," Foreman said. He set his mug on the table and passed copies of the pertinent documents to Cameron and Chase.
"There are a million and one possible causes for abdominal pain, and most of them are mundane."
"Patient's a coke addict," Chase offered as he skimmed the patient's history.
"Was," Foreman interjected. "She's been clean for two years."
"And you believe her?" House said. "What happened to that street-wise cynicism I hired you for?"
"County did a tox screen. She was negative," Foreman said. House had to hand it to him; he'd gotten very good at ignoring House's jibes. "Labs don't lie, and cocaine isn't causing her pain."
"I assume County also cultured her?" House said.
"Blood and stool cultures were negative, x-rays were negative," Cameron said as her eyes traveled down the page. "She was guiac positive yesterday, though, which is part of the reason County transferred her to us."
"The bleeding's just a symptom," House said. "What does she do for a living? Anything that would expose her to toxins?"
"Says here she's an attorney," Chase said.
"Bounce her to Internal Medicine," House said immediately. "The last thing I need is another pissy lawyer on my ass. We're not taking the case."
"You're taking the case."
"Why?" House asked. Cuddy ignored him as she pulled her purse from the lower desk drawer. "It's abdominal pain. It's boring. It's banal. It's bogus. It certainly doesn't need a diagnostic specialist."
"The causes of abdominal pain are many and varied," Cuddy said. "So far, none of the usual suspects has panned out. Sounds to me like exactly the kind of case that needs a diagnostic specialist."
"Who is she?" House asked. There had to be more to this case than abdominal pain. As much as Cuddy loved to butt into his business, she didn't normally get on his case over routine diagnoses like this.
"She's a junior partner at Crosby and Lynch, a protégé of Mr. Lynch's," Cuddy said. She pawed through her purse until she found her car keys. "Mr. Lynch is a regular supporter of this hospital, something you'd know if you'd ever bothered to attend any of the fundraisers."
"So because he gives us money, we have to give his pet special treatment?" House said. His surprised expression was purely to underscore the sarcasm in his voice. Inequity was a fact of life in all walks of life; somebodies got better treatment than nobodies.
"Not special treatment, just treatment," Cuddy said. "But to give her treatment, we have to have a diagnosis first."
House watched Cuddy walk around the desk and grab her coat. "Where the hell are you going?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but I have a lunch date." Cuddy folded her coat over one arm and picked up her purse.
"A nooner?" House asked, intrigued. "Why, Dr. CuddyI'm shocked. I'm appalled. I'm jealous. Can I watch?"
"I'll be back in an hour," Cuddy said with a roll of her eyes. "In the meantime, you can start working up Ms. Porter."
"She's already been worked up," House complained.
"Obviously not very well," Cuddy said. "Surely a world famous diagnostician can come up with a better final diagnosis than unspecified abdominal pain."
"You're not going to win me over by appealing to my ego," House said with a firm thump of his cane to emphasize the point.
"Yes, I am," Cuddy said. House scowled because yes, she was, damn her.
"All she needs is an EGD and colonoscopy. We find out where the blood is coming from and we'll know what's causing the pain," House said. "It won't take long."
"Good." Cuddy opened the door and looked back at House with the smile that always made him very suspicious. "Then you should be done in plenty of time to cover the clinic this afternoon."
House leaned against the nurses' station and rolled a cherry lifesaver around his mouth. He watched as Thomas McKittrick, a senior cardio-thoracic surgery resident, flirted with Wilson. House was mildly amused, both by the flirtation and by his own reaction. He hadn't anticipated that coming out would mean that Wilson would now get twice the attention. Of course, if he had thought of it, he probably would've assumed that anyone who knew Wilson was gay would also know he was involved with House and would be too intimidated to try anything.
Wilson gave McKittrick that somewhat bashful smile of his as one of the oncology nurses interrupted. He kept talking even as the nurse, a new guy who followed Wilson around like an unweaned puppy, handed him some reports.
House shook his head as he watched. Wilson wasn't the suave operator he thought he was. Oh, he could talk the talk, but he didn't quite walk the walk. Which, House thought, was probably a big part of his charm. Wilson was slightly awkward, hesitant, but womenand apparently menwere suckered in by his earnestness. And Wilson was suckered in by the rush.
House's expression soured.
"Who pissed in your coffee?" Wilson was suddenly standing next to him, a bemused expression on his face. The puppy was still hovering nearby, waiting for Wilson to finish the paperwork.
"Probably Chase," House said. He stared at McKittrick's back as he stood near the elevator. "What's with Dr. Debonair?"
"Who?" Wilson asked, puzzled. He followed House's gaze to McKittrick, then looked back at House. "You mean Tom?"
"On a first name basis, are we?"
Wilson studied House, then a slow, knowing smile spread across his face. "He prefers to be on a first name basis. Fear nothis interest is purely professional."
"He wants to sleep with you to get a job?" House asked. "A strategy I normally approve of, but...."
"All he wants from me is a letter of recommendation for a fellowship in robotic surgery with an old friend of mine." Wilson turned and handed the completed paperwork to the puppy, who melted at the attention. House narrowed his eyes and glared. The puppy flinched and backed away, throwing helpless looks in Wilson's direction. Sighing, Wilson turned back and leaned against the counter.
"Where'd you get him?" House asked as he watched the puppy retreat to the other side of the nurses' station.
"Kent?" Wilson glanced over at the puppy. "Same mail order catalogue you got Cameron from."
House let out an amused snort. The puppy did have some of the same blind adoration and intrusive caring that Cameron had had when she first arrived. Thank god she'd outgrown that, at least the blind adoration part. "You need to get him weaned and House-broken fast or he'll be piddling all over the floor."
"I'll put newspaper down in the nurses' lounge." Wilson glanced over at the chart rack and pulled a face. Apparently he was no more eager to get to work than House was. "Had a message from the realtor about the house. We're all set. We can move in at the end of the month."
"I hate moving," House confessed. He hated disruptions in his normal routine, unless the disruption was a really weird disease or a really hot hooker. This, though, was the worst kind of disruption. It was the dismantling of his personal space. And he was always dismayed by the amount of space his stuff occupied. He just wasn't sure if he was dismayed that it took up too much, or too little.
"Not my idea of a good time either," Wilson said. "But it has to be done."
"Doesn't have to," House insisted. "We could just stay where we are."
"Getting cold feet?" Wilson teased.
"It's not that," House said. If he was going to get cold feet he would've done it when Wilson let his lease lapse and moved in with House several weeks earlier. It wasn't about living with Wilson, it was about having to pack his crap up and move it. "Couldn't I just go to Atlantic City for a few days while you do all the work?"
"I'll be doing all the work anyway," Wilson said dryly.
"Not all of it," House promised. "You'll have a little help from Foreman and Chase."
"They found some ischemic patches during the scope." Chase started speaking the moment House walked in the door that morning. He kept speaking as House dumped his backpack on the table and dropped into a chair. "Pathology confirmed."
"Could be vasculitis," Cameron said as she fetched a cup of coffee for House. He glanced at her. One of these days it really would be vasculitis, and they'd all probably faint from the shock.
"Path was negative for vasculitis," Chase told Cameron.
"Path was non-specific as to cause." Ah, and there went Foreman, finally entering the fray from his seat at the end of the table. "Which is not terribly surprising. If she's got a vasculitic process going on in the larger vessels it's not going to show on a colon biopsy."
"So what would you suggest, Dr. Foreman?" House asked.
"We need an angio."
"Angios are risky," House said. When all three minions turned to stare at him, House met them with a blank look.
"I'm sorryI thought you just said angios are dangerous," Chase said, clearly confused.
"They are," House said. He started ticking off the points on his fingers. "Known risks include contrast reaction, catheter-induced vasospasm, dissection, pseudoaneurysm...."
"Since when have you worried about the possible complications of a procedure?" Foreman appeared to be absolutely floored by House's admittedly uncharacteristic caution. Good, House thought. It wouldn't do to have the kids getting too complacent.
"I'm always concerned about unnecessary risks to the patient," House said. Especially if he was going to be one of those patients. Which he would be. God, the things he'd do to get out of clinic duty. The fact that getting the angio would make Wilson shut up was merely a bonus.
"Yeah, right," Chase said.
"We don't really have any choice," Cameron said, watching House carefully. He made a face at her in the hope of derailing the caring train before it left the station. "We have to find out what's causing the ischemia before she infarcts part of her bowel."
"If she stops using, she won't infarct," House said. "Cocaine can cause sudden and severe vasoconstriction. Vasoconstriction causes ischemia. You do the math."
"She's not using," Foreman said.
"Fifty bucks says she is." House raised an eyebrow at Foreman's stubborn expression. "Or do you really believe her lies?"
"Labs don't lie," Foreman said, but he seemed less confident.
"Maybe not, but they can only tell us part of the truth," House argued.
"She's not a typical junkie," Cameron said.
"You mean like me?" House asked, raising the other eyebrow. Although he considered himself a rather extraordinary junkie. Not many men could save lives, sexually harass their boss, and steal the neighbor's cable TV, all while popping vicodin like Pez.
Cameron took a deep breath and forged ahead. "She's well educated, has a career, she's married. She got into trouble with coke, but she got clean. Her husband and boss are both very supportive, and she has no reason to risk what she has."
"Addiction isn't about reason," House said. "It's not about intelligence or social acceptance or even love; it's about need."
"Well, we need an angio," Chase said.
"Fine," House said. "Just be sure to inform her of the risks of the angio versus the risk of simply admitting she's using. And by the wayyou two need to keep the last Saturday of the month open."
Chase and Foreman exchanged puzzled looks when House pointed his cane at them. "And why would we need to do that?" Chase asked.
"I'm moving. You're going to help."
"You can't order us to do your personal dirty work," Chase said, indignant. "You don't own us."
House rolled his eyes at Chase, then turned the force of his disapproval on Foreman. "You been filling his head with that abolitionist crap again?"
Foreman gave House a long, reproving look in return before slowly raising his journal and beginning to read.
"You'd do it if Cameron asked," House said.
"That's the point," Foreman said, peering over the top of his magazine. "She would ask."
"Oh, I get it. You think I'm taking you for granted," House said with an exaggerated sigh. "Fine. Dr. Foreman, Dr. Chase, would you please assist me in moving to my new residence?"
"You know, I think I feel that street-wise cynicism coming back," Foreman said with mock surprise.
"You have to say yes now," Cameron said. All three men turned on her, Chase and Foreman looking betrayed, House because he couldn't wait to see what her reasoning was.
"You have to give positive reinforcement when he behaves appropriately," Cameron told Chase and Foreman with a wide-eyed, and almost believable, sincerity. "Otherwise, he'll never be fully trained."
House hid his amusement. He enjoyed Cameron when she got her snark on, something she didn't do nearly often enough. Chase slowly grinned, enjoying the fact that the joke was directed at House, even if he was going to end up paying for it. Foreman heaved a disgusted sigh.
"Fine. But don't expect me to call you Massa."
House loitered near the door until a couple of early morning joggers had changed into their doctor suits and left the locker room. Then he went to the last shower stall and yanked the door open.
"Jesus," Wilson yelped. He startled, then put his hand against the wall when his foot skidded on the wet tile floor. "What the hell are you doing?"
"You usually like it when I surprise you in the shower." House leaned against the door, smiling and waving Wilson's towel with one hand.
"At home, not here." Wilson leaned under the spray and finished rinsing off. He shut the water off, turned and gestured for House to hand him his towel. House smiled even more broadly as he continued to wave Wilson's towel just out of reach.
"Jerk," Wilson muttered. He snatched the towel from House's hand as he left the shower stall.
"Where were you last night?" House asked as Wilson dried off.
"I...had a patient who was dying."
"Hate to break it to you, but all your patients are dying."
"Yes, well, this was a more immediate situation," Wilson said. He tossed the used towel at the hamper in the corner and opened his locker. "I needed to stay with the family. Ended up falling asleep in the doctors' lounge."
"I tried calling you," House said.
"Here?" Wilson asked.
"On your cell."
"Oh." Wilson shook his head and reached into the locker for clean underwear. "Not sure where I left it. What did you need?"
"I couldn't sleep last night. My leg hurt and you weren't there to distract me."
"Glad to know I'm good for something," Wilson said with an exasperated smile.
"You're good for a lot of things. Of course, most of them involve you being naked. Or cooking. I prefer the naked," House said, hopeful Wilson would take the hint. Wilson finished buttoning his shirt and tucked it into his pants. He turned to House as he buckled his belt. House shook his head in regret. "You have no sense of adventure."
"I'm living with you, aren't I?" Wilson said. "However, sex in public places is outside my comfort zone."
"Fuddy-duddy," House said. "And this isn't public, exactly. It's sort of semi-private."
"Not private enough," Wilson said firmly.
"Hey, I'm suffering here."
"Try suffering silently like everyone else," Wilson said. He slammed his locker door shut. "The key word there being silently."
"House." Cameron followed House into his office. Chase and Foreman both looked up briefly from whatever they were reading, but otherwise ignored both of them. House dumped his backpack on the floor and turned to boot up his computer.
"House, you have to sign the end of month reports," Cameron said.
"Says who? Cuddy? I'd like to see her make me," House said. He actually would like to see that. Working Cuddy into a frenzy was good for hours of entertainment. And he was dying to know about her lunch date. So far he'd heard nada on the hospital grapevine.
"And Karen Porter's angio got pushed back to this morning because of an emergent case," Cameron said.
"Now there's an exercise in futility," House said. As opposed to making him sign reports which was merely difficult, not futile.
"Something's causing the colitis. Something that isn't drugs."
"You have until the end of the day to prove otherwise. Page me if you come up with anything." House paused and looked over his shoulder at Cameron. "Actually, page Wilson. He'll be covering for me."
"Where are you going to be?"
"I'm going undercover in the interventional radiology lab," House said.
"Undercover?" Cameron said.
House sighed. Why did people insist on repeating everything he said? Was he not enunciating clearly?
"As a patient," House said. "Ass-baring hospital couture and all. Figured if I'm going to subject patients to risky tests, I should experience it myself."
"You're having an angio?" Cameron said, incredulous. Her eyebrows drew together in a frown as her gaze moved down his body. "Of your leg?"
"No, of my...." House bit off his snippy reply. Cameron couldn't help being so intrusively concerned. It was simply her nature. "Yes, of my leg."
"Is there a problem?"
"Routine follow-up," House said dismissively. "I'll be in and out in a couple of hours. In the meantime, you three are on your own. Try not to screw up."
"Okay, well...." Cameron got up. "Good luck."
House sat in his chair and watched Cameron go, having dispensed her R.D.A. of House-directed compassion. "Not with my luck."
Foreman was the next in line to pay for his lunch, just waiting on a couple of overwhelmed med students ahead of him. He was just about to tell them that no, the tuna noodle surprise wouldn't kill them when a chef salad dropped onto his tray. He looked over his shoulder to find Chase grinning at him. "What the hell?"
"Get that for me, would you?" Chase said, nodding at the salad.
"Do I look like Wilson?" Foreman asked.
Chase pretended to give the question serious consideration. "I think it's something about the eyes."
"Jerk," Foreman said, but Chase was already making his way across the room. Foreman rolled his eyes, but left the salad on his tray when he moved up to the cashier. By the time he followed Chase's trail, Chase had secured a table for them.
"Uh uhpay up first." Foreman held the tray up high, out of Chase's reach.
"You don't trust me?" Chase asked as he fished out his wallet. He tossed Foreman a couple of bills then snatched his salad from the tray when Foreman set it on the table.
"About an inch more than I trust House, which means you're still operating in the negative numbers," Foreman said. He set his plate on the table and pushed the tray aside. He looked around as he took his seat. "Where's Cameron?"
"Where do you think? She's hovering in interventional radiology."
"Waiting for Mrs. Porter or House?"
"Mrs. Porter finished a couple of hours ago. She was the first case." Chase took a few hasty bites of his salad. "And her angio was negative."
"Damn," Foreman muttered. "How can it be negative? She has ischemic colitis. Something is interfering with the blood supply."
"Maybe something intermittent, something that's causing transient vasospasm," Chase suggested.
"Which House will insist is due to drugs," Foreman said. He poked at his jello, testing to see if it had the right amount of wiggle. "Maybe we should try her on a vasodilator."
"No way," Chase said. "With a negative angio, there's no indication for vasodilators. It's not worth the risks."
"You have any better suggestions?"
"I think we're going to have to put it down to transient ischemia of unknown etiology," Chase said. "All her tests were non-diagnostic and her symptoms continue to decrease. We'll have to discharge her and hope for the best."
"That's not satisfactory."
"If you wanted job satisfaction, you should've chosen a different career. Or at least a different boss," Chase said. He himself didn't seem particularly unsatisfied. "Speaking of which, are we really going to waste a Saturday helping House move?"
Foreman shook his head slowly, unable to find a good reason to refuse House's 'request' other than the fact that it was House who'd done the requesting. "If it were any other boss I've had, I wouldn't think twice about it."
"Maybe we should look at it as helping Wilson to move," Chase suggested. "He's a decent enough guy."
"Yeah, but you know there's got to be something seriously wrong with him. Otherwise, how do you explain him being with House?"
"Jimmy?" House blinked a few times, trying to clear the fuzziness from his brain. He hated being sedated. He always came out of it feeling hung over. He should never feel like this unless there was a bottle of exceptionally aged whiskey and a couple of hookers to blame.
"House?" Cameron leaned forward as if checking to see if House was really awake. God, he hoped he hadn't said anything embarrassing under the influence of the drugs. If he was going to say something embarrassing, he wanted to be awake to see the results.
"Do you need some water?"
"Please." House watched Cameron grab the pitcher from the bedside table. He stretched a little, then tried to scoot himself into a sitting position.
"Oh, no, you don't." Chase appeared on the other side of the bed. He placed a hand firmly against House's chest, holding him flat. "You're not supposed to move for a while yet."
"Right, the angio." House accepted the glass and gulped down half. "Remind me againhow'd that go?"
"Two stents," Chase said. "There was a focal narrowing in one artery, probably the result of scarring from the infarction or surgery. But the angioplasty and stents opened it up to nearly ninety per cent of normal."
"Good." House frowned as Kyle no, KentKent the puppyentered his room and checked his I.V. The puppy fussed and straightened and threw a nervous smile over his shoulder as he left.
"I thought he worked on oncology?" House said.
"He does," Cameron said. "Dr. Wilson arranged for you to be in a room on the oncology floor so he could keep an eye on you."
Chase smirked at the empty doorway, then raised an eyebrow in Cameron's direction. House turned his scowl on them. "What?"
"Nothing," Cameron said immediately.
"I don't like that nurse," House said.
"Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that he's got a raging crush on Dr. Wilson, could it?" Chase asked, amused.
"Not in the least," House said curtly. Great. Thanks to Chase, House's thoughts were going in directions he'd rather they didn't. The puppy had puppy love for Wilson? That was obvious. The question was why did Wilson put up with it? Was he simply being nice or was he responding to the puppy love? House hadn't even considered the personality-challenged nurse as a rival before now. He was too passive and needy...well, that explained it. Wilson liked needy.
"You don't have to get so snippy," Chase said. "I was just making an observation."
"Whatever." House handed the empty glass back to Cameron. "Where is Wilson anyway?"
"He needed to see some patients. He said he'd be back by dinner time if not before." Cameron set the glass on the bedside table and settled back in her chair.
"Hey, you're awake."
House startled when Wilson spoke. "Gee, with your powers of observation you should've become a diagnostician."
"I'm going to get some coffee." Chase gave Wilson a pointed look before he left the room. Cameron hesitated, her expression more sympathetic but no less pointed than Chase's. Then she quickly went after him. Wilson stood in the doorway as both doctors brushed past him. Then he turned his gaze back to House.
"Okay, what just happened?"
"Chase happened," House muttered. He tried to shake off his irritation. "Hey, when am I getting out of here?"
"Overnight observation," Wilson said as he strolled to the bedside. "You can go home tomorrow. Good news is that aside from one stricture, the angio looked good. No other aneurysms, no atherosclerosis."
"Is that what Kent said?"
"Kent? Your nurse?" Wilson frowned. "What does he have to do with anything?"
House closed his eyes and tried to get a grip on his jealousy. He didn't think Wilson had done anything yet probably. But that was what was so difficult. He'd never known exactly when Wilson had taken the flirting one step too far. Assuming Wilson had even started flirting. So far, House had only seen it go one way, but then he wasn't with Wilson every minute of the day.
"Are you okay?" Wilson's concern was evident.
"Groggy," House said without opening his eyes.
"Okay." Wilson patted his shoulder as he got up. "I'll leave so you can rest."
"Yeah, I'm sure you've got a big evening planned," House sniped.
"Yeah, huge," Wilson said, his tone sharp. House knew Wilson didn't even know why he was irritated, he was simply reacting to House's snappishness. "I'm going to finish seeing a few patients then put in an obligatory appearance at Dr. Chen's retirement party. After that I'll stop and pick up dinner for you, because I know you won't eat the hospital food, before retiring to the couch in my office. Which is where I'll be in case you should happen to need me for something other than baseless bitching."
"Don't do me any favors."
"As if you'd let me," Wilson snapped. Then he simply shook his head. "Try to get some sleep. I'll check in on you later."
House kept his eyes closed and listened to the sound of Wilson's footsteps recede. He didn't need this now. Okay, he didn't need this anytime. The thing to keep in mind was that he had no objective evidence that Wilson had strayed. The thing that stayed in his mind was the fact that Wilson always, inevitably strayed.
"You had a perfectly good excuse for staying home today," Wilson pointed out as he and House walked toward the Diagnostic's office.
"And do what?" House said, glaring at Wilson. Wilson had spent the night on the couch. Granted, it was the couch at home rather than the couch in his office, but it still meant the bed was half empty. And House wasn't sure he completely believed Wilson's excuse that he hadn't wanted to risk injuring House's leg so soon after the angio.
"Dr. House." Cameron approached them, eyeing House with surprise. "Are you supposed to be here?"
"The restraining order went bye-bye," House said. "Come to think of itso did the lawyer. Stacy never was much on long term commitment."
"I just meant I didn't think you were supposed to be up and around so soon," Cameron said.
"He's fine, or as fine as he ever is," Wilson told Cameron with a helpless wave of his hand. "Just keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn't overdo it."
"He is right here," House said.
"And he is acting like a child," Wilson retorted. He looked at Cameron. "Call me if he gets out of hand. I've got tranquilizer darts in my bottom drawer."
"That's not all he has in his bottom drawer," House said, leering at Cameron.
"I told you I have no idea where those handcuffs came from," Wilson said mildly. He mouthed 'call me' to Cameron and walked toward the stairwell.
"They're fur lined," House told Cameron. She simply stared at him, clearly caught between surprise and disgust.
"What's fur lined?" Chase asked as he and Foreman strolled up behind Cameron.
"Wilson's handcuffs," House said.
"Really? I'd have thought he'd be more the leather type," Chase said. Foreman and Cameron turned on him with the same exasperated expression. House wondered if he could start a synchronized eye-rolling team. Might be the next hot Olympic sport.
"Maybe he is," House told Chase. "But you'll never know."
House leaned against the counter as he signed in for another exciting shift in the clinic. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Ron Adams approach the desk, then hesitate when he saw House. There was plenty of room for both of them but Adams stayed at the end of the counter, propping up the file with one hand while he wrote with the other.
"Afraid you'll get gay cooties?" House asked with a pointed look at the empty space next to him.
"Don't flatter yourself," Adams said brusquely. He finished off the chart and tossed it into the basket.
"Know what I think?"
"Could not care less."
"I think part of you is offended that Wilson never made a move on you. Makes you wonder what's wrong with you," House said as if Adams hadn't answered.
"There's nothing wrong with me," Adams said. "James is smart enough to know I'm not interested, assuming he really is gay in the first place and not just the victim of one of your twisted mind games."
"Trust mehe's really gay," House said with an exaggerated wink. "And I'm not saying you'd take him up on any offers, just that it's a blow to the ego to know that he'd go for a guy like me and not give a guy like you a second look."
"Given James' complete lack of discrimination as to who he'll sleep with ."
"Really has to make you wonder what's wrong with you," House interrupted.
"Know what I think?" Adams leaned against the counter and stared at House. "I think it's your ego that's taken a beating."
"Huh?" House said, genuinely confused.
"You may have gotten James to cross that line, but you couldn't keep him, could you? Didn't take him long to move on to something younger and prettier. It never does take him long, does it?" Adams gave House a nasty smile. House struggled to keep his surprise from showing in his expression. "In fact, I have to wonder if that's not why he hired Kent in the first place."
"Your jealousy is definitely showing," House said in a tightly controlled voice. He fumbled his pills from his pocket and quickly swallowed one.
"Yours should be," Adams said.
This story was added on 30 JUNE 2006