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.
Chapter One is here: Part 1 For the next chapter, click twice on "next entry" arrow above.
What the Critics Are Saying About SM:I:
"...A story that must be read and re-read, time and again.This reviewer read Sleeping Man straight through from beginning to end, and then went back and re-read the beginning, because he had forgotten it all." --Editor, Journal of the American Society of Amnesiacs
House slept. He slept and slept. He also dreamt, his dream of the doghouse, of warm lights and shelter just out of his reach, of being as always on the outside looking in. But mostly, he just slept.
Wilson, on the other hand, did not. Even when it became clear that House was out of any immediate danger, he could not sleep. Maybe it was the Dexedrine he’d taken at dusk. Maybe it was the feeling he still couldn’t shake--primitive and irrational, he knew, but still a conviction--that if he closed his eyes, something would happen to House. Sleep was out of the question.
He was like a cat on hot bricks. Chase had barely made it back to the Diagnostics office before Wilson paged him and Foreman asking when would be a good time to meet. Foreman sighed and called House’s room. Wilson picked up after half a ring.
“Why don’t you meet us up here?” suggested Foreman
“I can’t. I can’t leave. I need you both to—“
“You do know that you don’t have to sit up with him all night now?” said Foreman with deliberation. “The concussion was eleven days ago, and you only have to do that for the first 24 hours. You know that, right?” He could practically feel Wilson vibrating on the other end.
“Yes, of course,” he snapped. “The point is, you need to do a complete neurological work-up on him, find out the extent of this amnesia, devise a treatment plan--.”
Foreman shook his head. “Yes, at some point we’ll need to do a work-up. But there’s no evidence of swelling in the brain, no immediate danger from the concussion. And, as I said, there’s no ‘cure’ for amnesia. But there is a cure for complete exhaustion, and that’s sleep. Sleep is the best medicine right now. Everything else can wait until morning. Sleep, Dr. Wilson. It knitteth up the ravelled sleeve of care.”
He was being cute, Wilson could tell, deliberately ambiguous about who needed the sleep, but before Wilson could think of some even cuter comeback--"Thank you, Dr. Shakespeare"--the son-of-bitch hung up on him.
Everyone else involved in House's care continued to be utterly unhelpful and unresponsive to Dr. Wilson's differing demands until, finally, near dawn, someone must have complained. Cuddy showed up at 6 am, wearing clean clothes and looking like she, for one, had slept, and told him if he didn’t go home and, at the very least, shower, shave, and change his clothes, well then she would call the Haz Mat team and have him escorted off the premises.
Wilson hesitated. Cuddy thrust House’s chart under his nose. “His vitals have been stable for the last ten hours,” she pointed out. “He isn’t going anywhere.” When Wilson still hesitated, she sighed. “All right,” she said. “I’ll stay with him. I’ll keep him alive for the next hour until you get back. I promise. Okay? Now go.” And she literally propelled him out the door.
When he returned nearly an hour later, she handed him a muffin and a glass of orange juice. “Eat,” she said. “Drink.” He did as he was told and never saw Cuddy replace the cap on the prescription bottle and tuck it into her pocket. He returned to his place beside House’s bed.
They say smell is the most evocative of all the five senses: it is the smell, more than the taste, of a petite Madeleine that can awaken memories of a certain time and place, memories that were long dead, or perhaps just slumbering.
Afterwards, if you asked him, House would swear that it was smell that triggered it all. But he was not at first able to find an adequate way to describe how it happened. He could tell you what it was not. It was not nearly as dramatic as one might have expected. It was not as if a light had been turned on, suddenly illuminating a dark room. It was not as if a floodgate had opened, with a rush of memories overwhelming him.
It was closest to the way he puzzled out a diagnosis. When he was working on a case, his subconscious mind, he was sure, figured out the solution long before his conscious mind ever did. But it always took something from the outside world to force the idea to the surface, something to make the bigger picture emerge. Something as simple and evanescent as, for example, a scent.
The change, when it happened, was both tiny and…enormous. House, the master of the metaphor, finally found the right one: those Magic Eye visual puzzles that had been so popular a few years ago. You stare at a jumble of meaningless shapes and colors long enough until at some point you blink and, suddenly, who knows how or why, those meaningless shapes assemble themselves into a clear, stunning three-dimensional image. An image that had been there all along but you simply couldn’t see. From the moment he’d first walked back into Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, House had been assaulted by a disturbing feeling of deja-vu, as if the hospital—and not the doghouse-- were the dream, and by a sense that if he stared hard enough at it, at the people, they would suddenly assemble themselves into something meaningful.
When House awoke that morning, his mind clear and his body free of pain for the first time in days and days, it was shortly after the seven o’clock shift change. A nurse in latex gloves had just replaced his nasal cannula, and the room had been freshly mopped. On his bed tray was a Tupperware container of hot, fragrant pancakes. And lastly a head belonging to James Wilson was resting beside him, cradled on his arms as he slept, leaning forward off the chair beside the bed.
None of this did House see, however. His eyes were closed and he lay motionless as he slowly surfaced from the boundless depths of sleep, allowing a bath of pleasant sensation to wash over him: The absence of pain—the complete absence of pain. The incredible softness of his mattress. The delicious warmth of the covers forming a protective cocoon around him. The beeping of the bedside monitors, the sound of a distant phone ringing, soft talking in the corridor, the muffled PA paging someone.
And the smells. He breathed in deeply through his nose.
And so it was that when he’d fallen asleep the night before it had been in an anonymous, alien hospital room. But when he finally opened his eyes in the morning, he was in a warm, sunny glass-walled room that opened, he knew, onto a long, brightly lit corridor. It was a room that smelled of pine-scented hospital disinfectant and Purel hand cleaner, rubber gloves and talcum powder, macademia nut pancakes and…
“Jimmy,” he said, prodding the head next to his pillow. Wilson raised his head a few inches and blinked groggily at him. “You are the only man I know… over the age of four who uses…Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.”
“Guh” said Wilson, struggling mightily to keep his eyes open. He lost the battle and settled his forehead back into his arms.
“Wilson,” said House. “I know where I am.”
“Nuh?” Wilson mumbled into the mattress.
“Yes,” said House. “I do.” He looked around the room with its familiar equipment, he drew in its familiar scents and sounds. And then he looked at the slumbering Wilson. “Home, Jimmy,” he said softly. “I’m home.”
Sometime later, two orderlies, under instruction from Cuddy, entered House’s room and bodily lifted Wilson out of his chair and deposited him in the empty second bed in the room. Wilson turned his head and gave House a doped-up smile as one of the orderlies spread a blanket over him and the other removed his shoes.
“Night, House,” he mumbled, his eyes closing.
“Night, Wilson,” said House.