Characters: House, Wilson, Cuddy, Chase with a dash of Foreman and a pinch of Cameron.
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, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
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
When he opened his eyes again, there was a small hub-bub going on outside his open door.
Then he straightened up. “Dr. Jacoby. Good to see you.”
Jacoby didn’t bother with so much as a glance at Wilson. He was flipping rapidly through House’s chart, and when he finally looked at House, his eyebrows shot up into his hairline and he suppressed a smirk. “I’d say that was a great look for you, House, except that you really look like shit. And I see you’ve managed to fry your kidneys. Well done. What are we going to do about it, that’s the question. You won’t last the day without dialysis.”
The man was an asshole, it was abundantly clear. Or a moron. Or both. House had a sudden memory of where he’d seen the guy before. Wasn’t he JR, the man sitting in front of him during the…thing in the auditorium? Yeah, it was JR. It was nauseating to watch Wilson, Cuddy, and Chase all kowtowing to him.
“Are we having a state-the-obvious competition?” he asked JR. But it was too much work for his mouth to manage so what actually came out sounded more like, “Wuh….kup.” Shit. He couldn’t even manage to form a single word anymore.
“What did you say, House?” Dr. Wilson asked. He bent over and put his ear next to House’s mouth. House moved his lips again but this time nothing came out. Not a single syllable. Wilson straightened and looked at Jacoby.
“I think he said, Even with one lobe of his brain tied behind his back, he’s still a better doctor than you are.”
JR snorted. “What are you, his translator?”
“Yes, actually,” said Cuddy crisply. “He’s our resident House Whisperer.” Chase said nothing, just stood there looking gobsmacked. “So,” continued Cuddy, “what’s the verdict?”
JR jutted out his handsome square jaw and looked once again at his chart. “All right,” he said, his mouth working hard as if he were trying to swallow something foul tasting. “I can work him into Mrs. Sprague’s spot. You’ve got”—he checked his watch—“forty minutes to get him down there.” He signed a piece of paper, thrust the file into Chase’s hands and stared at House a moment longer. At last he smirked. “You owe me big time, House,” he said with a satisfied look, and strode out of the room.
Chase gaped at Dr. Cuddy, who in turn was grinning at Wilson like an idiot.
“How on God’s green earth did you manage that?” asked Chase when he was able to speak.
“Oh, I did some more research among all the nephrology department patients, called in a few favors, went through lab results until I found one of them who had improved a good deal since last night. A Mrs. Sprague. She is currently just healthy enough to put off her dialysis until tomorrow. The tricky part was getting Jacoby to authorize it.”
“Yeah,” said Chase. “But no one could force him to agree to that. Even you. Even a court order would be tough to get.”
“Right,” said Cuddy. “But I took the opportunity to remind Dr. Jacoby exactly how many times Dr. House had attacked his reputation. I brought up the little incident House staged at the last Nephrology fund-raiser.”
“The steak-and-kidney pie thing?” interjected Wilson.
“The same. Then I mentioned how sweet it would be to be able to remind House for the rest of eternity that he had saved his life. To have him in his debt forever. I laid it on pretty thick. Oh, yes. I think I quoted Emerson. ‘A man in debt is a slave.’ And possibly Benjamin Franklin. ‘The heaviest debt is the debt of gratitude.’ And so on.”
“And he went for it,” stated Chase, shaking his head in what looked like admiration. The three of them then exchanged strangely happy smiles.
“Well, House,” said Wilson, addressing the patient at last. His breath seemed to leave him in a rush. He paused, and when he spoke again, his voice had an odd, squeezed quality to it. “It looks like you might just catch a break after all.”
House didn’t know what they were all so happy about. If he had understood half of what they said, it seemed like an awfully high price to pay for some dialysis. “Couldn’t you just have bought me some black market kidneys?” he asked them. “Is that too much to ask?”
Or maybe he didn’t say it out loud. In any case, none of them paid the slightest attention to him. They were busy calling nurses to get him ready for dialysis. And he was soon too exhausted to really care.
The next time he woke up, it was from the shock of pain, felt even through the shit clogging up his central nervous system, as they were transferring him onto a gurney. He looked around the room, at the nurse moving the IV to its temporary pole, at the orderlies who had slid him on the draw sheet, at another nurse placing a pillow under his right leg.
Something was wrong. Something was missing. His heart started racing with an undefined panic. He tried to speak, but it just turned into coughing. It was hard to breathe lying flat, even with a nasal cannula.
“Crank up the head of that gurney,” ordered the nurse who had placed the pillow under his leg. She spoke sharply. Then she held a non-rebreather over his mouth until the coughing subsided. “Is that better, Dr. House?” she asked him gently. He shook his head. He was still struggling for breath, and something was still…off. Missing.
She must have seen him looking around because something dawned and she put a hand on his. “He’s just gone to take a quick shower. He’ll be back any minute now to take you down to dialysis.”
He nodded and lay back against the pillows. His breathing steadied, and he fell asleep again.