Characters: House, Wilson, Cuddy, Chase with some appearances by the rest of the Scooby Gang.
Rating/Pairing: Gen; a mild R for language; H/W strong friendship (slash if you wear slash goggles)
Summary: The fallout from House's recent misadventure. Follows Sleeping Man: Outside.
Timeline: Set in the early fall of Season 3.
Earlier parts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.
What the Critics Are Saying about SM:I:
“Full of suspense…crackling dialogue…and…elipses.”
“Almost as good as I Am America and So Can You.”
—Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
"...une des meilleures fanfictions [du monde]. Parfaitement bien écrite, haletante, bouleversante, quelquefois drôle, toujours touchante. A lire absolument." —Le Figaro, Paris
He had no idea whom the voice was addressing until a hand shook his shoulder gently.
“Come on, House. I need you to wake up. House.”
House. That was him. His name. He was House. He blinked his eyes open one at a time.
“Attaboy,” said the figure looming over him, a tired smile flickering across his face. It was the doctor who’d been there since, well, since whenever it was he had landed in this bed. He searched his memory, but his brain felt like it was working in super-slow motion. At last he came up with the man’s name. Wilson. Dr. Wilson.
Dr. Wilson moved the bed tray over in front of him and adjusted the head of the bed so House was sitting up even more than usual. That felt good. It helped his breathing to be upright. Next Wilson slid the bed tray across his lap. The tray was covered with plastic food containers. Dr. Wilson undid the restraint on House’s wrist and replaced the oxygen mask with a nasal cannula. Then he flipped the lid off one of the food containters. Green Jell-o. He dug a spoon into it and held it out for House. House blinked at Dr. Wilson dumbly.
“Come on, House. You need to eat something. Otherwise you’ll never get rid of the NG tube.”
When House didn't move, Wilson picked up House’s hand and thrust the spoon into it, making a fist around the handle. House stared at it for a second, uncertain what was expected of him. What had Dr. Wilson said about an NG tube? He vaguely remembered being wheeled down the corridors to somewhere. Radiology? Had they put in an NG tube? He raised his hand to his face and felt his nose. Yes, there was a tube there, taped to his face.
“House!” cried Dr. Wilson with dismay.
What? What had he done? Dr. Wilson grabbed the spoon out of his hand and reached for a napkin. House looked down. He had spilled food all down the front of his gown. Idiot. He’d forgotten about the Jell-o. His face must have registered something because Dr. Wilson’s expression softened, and as soon as he finished cleaning House up, he retrieved the spoon from the bedclothes.
“Never mind, House,” he said kindly, digging out another helping of Jell-o. “I’ll do it for you. Open up.” It was humiliating, being fed. But House knew he couldn’t manage anything as complex—not to mention tiring—as feeding himself, so he let Dr. Wilson shovel Jell-o into his mouth, swallowed when he was told to—that part he could do--and felt obscurely touched. It was surprising how very good the green Jell-o tasted, too, as it slid easily down his throat. Even so, after just a few bites his hunger evaporated, overtaken by a wave of nausea. He turned his head away.
“Come on, House,” pleaded Dr. Wilson holding the spoon in front of him, but at that moment the other doctor entered the room. The blonde doctor with the accent. House felt vaguely embarrassed to have anyone see him being spoon fed.
“I see you’re awake,” the new doctor said to House with a cheerfulness that rang false in House’s ears. “How are you feeling?” But he wasn’t looking at House. He was looking at the monitors behind House’s head. “How long has he been on the nasal cannula?”
“Five minutes,” Wilson answered. “His O2 sats have stayed steady in the low 90’s.”
“Respirations are down to 22, too,” added Blondie. Then, addressing House in a louder voice: “That’s good news, Dr. House.”
“He’s sick, not stupid, Chase,” muttered Dr. Wilson.
Chase. That was his name.
Dr. Chase had the grace to look embarrassed. He turned his head again to look at the monitors. “Heart rate’s still slightly elevated, though. How’s the pain? Can you give me a number? If your breathing keeps improving, we'll be able to give you something for it soon.”
House managed to shrug one shoulder, not sure what he meant by “number,” but Wilson interceded.
“I’d guess it’s around four or five. That’s the only bright side of having his system full of sludge. It seems to have dulled the pain receptors along with everything else.”
“And his mental status?”
Wilson’s turn to shrug. “Oriented times two. He’s in and out. Getting worse.”
Dr. Chase pulled out a penlight and checked House’s pupils. “Do you know what your name is?” he asked.
He was able to remember that one. “House,” he answered softly.
“Do you know where you are?”
“Hos..hosp...,” he trailed off, unable to finish the word.
“And do you remember who I am?”
House looked to Wilson for help, then remembered just in time. “Chase,” he managed to say. Dr. Chase raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“He’s faking it,” said Wilson. “He has no real idea who you are.”
“How do you know?”
Instead of answering, Dr. Wilson turned to House. “What’s Dr. Chase’s first name?”
Were they playing a game with him? Should he know this answer, too? He frowned and shrugged again.
This got a strange reaction from Chase. He stood back, head cocked, and asked, “You really don’t know who I am?” House couldn’t figure out why this would surprise him, since House still wasn’t 100 percent sure who he--House--was. Chase started to ask another question, but before he could finish, to House's relief, there was a knock on the door.
“That’ll be Fitzgerald,” Chase explained to Wilson. "I paged him for a consult." But when the door opened, it was the woman with the wavy dark hair—he dredged up the name Cuddy from somewhere—followed by another woman he thought he might have seen before: slender, with pretty brown hair. He couldn’t quite place her, but for some reason he was pretty sure she wasn’t Fitzgerald.
Wilson wasn’t looking at either of the newcomers. He glared at Chase. “Why didn’t you ask Jacoby for the consult?”
Dr. Cuddy answered for him. "Because--" she began, but she was interrupted by a horrified cry from the other woman, who was staring at House with eyes like saucers.
“House!” she exclaimed, approaching the bed. He shrank into his pillows a little. She looked like she was going to pat his head or something. Then, to Wilson, she said, “What did you do to him?”
Before Wilson could answer, Dr. Cuddy joined her at the bedside. “Why, House,” she said with, House would have sworn, an evil smirk, “you clean up real nice.” What the hell did she mean by that? The two of them stood there gaping at him. Was he still covered in Jell-o? What were they staring at?
Finally Cuddy turned away, her smirk fading. “As for you, Dr. Wilson,” she continued, giving him the once over, “while House is all bright and shiny, you look more and more disreputable every time I see you. What is this, opposite day?” Now that she mentioned it, Dr. Wilson did look like he had slept in his clothes—well, everybody did, including Cuddy—plus he had dark circles around his eyes, his hair was unkempt,and he had at least a day’s growth of stubble, not to mention what looked like a shiner under his left eye.
Wilson managed to look exasperated. “Look, could we discuss this nephrology consult instead of the state of my clothes? I’d like to know why you’re bringing John Fitzgerald in, instead of Jacoby. Jacoby’s head of nephrology, and Fitzgerald, let’s face it, is not nearly as good a doctor.”
“Simple,” said Chase. "Jacoby hates House with a passion."
“'Loathe’ would not be too strong a word,” Cuddy agreed. “He threatened to resign when I first brought House into the Nephrology Department. House had been a fellow under him at Hopkins, and—“
Wilson gave a weary sigh and waved a hand. “You don’t need to elaborate. We can all guess. But the fact remains, he needs a good nephrologist, and even more, he needs someone who can get him into dialysis as soon as possible. The very fact that Jacoby hates House--”
Chase, looking like House felt—confused—finished Wilson’s sentence for him. “--means there’s no way he’s going to do him any favors. And essentially that’s exactly what we’d be asking...“
While he talked, House saw Cuddy and Wilson exchange some secret look. Cuddy laid a hand on Chase’s shoulder. “I see exactly where Wilson is going with this. Cancel the consult with Fitzgerald. Leave this to me.” She reached for the phone by House’s bedside and requested a page for Jacoby to meet her in her office. At least that’s what it sounded like. House was having more and more trouble following events around him, and more and more trouble staying awake.
[Next update in a day or two. Promise.]