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, 10
What the Critics Are Saying About SM:I:
“Full of suspense…crackling dialogue…and…ellipses.”
“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
“MOOOOOAAAAARRRRR!!!!! *Is ded*” —creativ_writng_major
“Nation, read this fic.”
— Stephen Colbert, author of I Am America and So Can You
"Sleeping Man is teh awesome. It is made of awesome. Maineac wins at awesometude." —John Updike, writing in The New Yorker
“Yo, Maineac, check it out. What up, dawg? Dude. That's right. I’m a dope brutha from the ’hood. *gangsta hand sign* and not a puppet of Corporate America. *fondles bling* As for your fic? It was a’ ‘ight. A little pitchy but a’ ‘ight.” —Randy
"Squeeeeeeeeeeeee *claps drunkenly* eeeeee!!!! —Paula
“If I’m being honest--Paula, get down from the table--if I'm being honest, it reads like karaoke fic. Wedding party fic. Cruise ship fic. No, let me finish. Lounge fic. Cabaret fic.”—Simon
"Did I mention I Am America and So Can You?"
—Stephen Colbert, author of I Am America and So Can You
Dialysis can be a double-edged sword. The machine cleans blood of everything that isn't usually found there—bad and good alike, it makes no distinction. In House's case, for example, while it was slowly filtering out the fluids and toxins that were causing his multiple-organ failure, it was also removing the antibiotics that were keeping the pneumonia under control. And it removed those same toxins that had recently kept much of his pain at bay.
By the time they had gotten House down to the dialysis center and hooked up to the machine, he had hit a 6 on the Glasgow Coma Scale—responsive only to pain. But two hours into the procedure, he began to stir. Wilson watched him gradually, very gradually, return to consciousness. But as signs of awareness returned to his features, so did the signs of pain and fever: the creased brow, the flushed cheeks. Three hours in, and House tried to turn onto his left side, to take pressure off his right leg. Wilson helped him do it, propping him up with pillows, and then sat back in his chair. He’d snagged one of the comfortable recliner-style chairs they carried in the dialysis center, and sitting next to House they looked for all the world as if they were in someone’s living room watching a movie together. Except, of course, for the large dialysis machine on the other side of them.
Glancing at House, Wilson picked up yesterday’s newspaper, folding it in half with a loud rattle.
“Listen to this, House,” he began. No response. He kept going. “This is important. The Red Sox beat the Yankees. You heard me. They now lead the championship series two zip. ‘Red Sox ace Josh Beckett iced the second—‘“
Whole words. Halting. Almost inaudible. But words. That was a definite improvement from just a few hours ago. He dropped the newspaper.“You recognize me?”
House blinked hard a few times, as if trying to get his eyes to focus. “Come closer.”
Wilson stood up, took his pen light out and leaned over House to check his pupils.
“Too close. Screw the… neuro.” He was still too weak to push the pen away. Instead, he closed his eyes.
Wilson put the penlight back in his pocket and leaned back a bit. “You remember where you are? Who I am?”
House spoke slowly, deliberately. “James Wilson,” he said, and it was a statement, not a question. Wilson felt a bubble of elation in his chest that lasted a nano-second—the nano-second it took to realize that House was, in fact, reading his name off the hospital ID clipped to his breast pocket.
When House finally lifted his eyes from the nametag to Wilson’s face, he seemed to be searching it carefully, looking for clues. It was almost more than Wilson could bear. “What do I…call you?” House asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Every time I… open my eyes you are… right there. How long now?”
“So you’re a friend or…you’re sitting shiva. Or something.” He paused as if to gather his thoughts. “Not Doctor Wilson. …James? Jamie? Jim?”
“Just Wilson, actually.”
House seemed to be trying it out, testing it in his mouth to see what happened. As if the act of saying the name might create some connection. But when he opened his eyes again, the blue eyes were just as blank. Perplexed, but blank.
There were a million questions Wilson longed to pepper House with, but instinct told him to go slow, let House take the lead, set the pace. “Sometimes it’s Jimmy,” he added. “When you’re being sarcastic, or witty.”
House sighed and squinted at the ceiling. Wilson could tell he was trying to hide a grimace of pain. “Do I do that a lot?” House asked after a moment.
“What? The sarcasm? Or the wit?”
“All the time.”
“I’ll…try to remember that.”
The conversation appeared to have exhausted House, because he closed his eyes again. But he opened them again a few minutes later.
“You’re sure you’re not…my gay ex-lover?”
“Joke, Jimmy. Remember?”
“Yes. Ha ha.”
The man had incredible eyebrows, like woolly bear caterpillars, and House had asked the question largely just to see the eyebrows react. He was not disappointed.
“Ha ha,” Wilson had said, but his smile looked pained for some reason.
Still, he had an interesting smile, the way his upper lip curved down to a point in the middle.
[A/N: Had to split this scene in two. Second half tomorrow.]