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 only if you wear goggles)
Summary: The fallout from House's recent misadventure. Follows Sleeping Man: Outside
Timeline: Set in the early fall of Season 3, around Cane and Able, Lines in the Sand
Chapter One is here:1. Previous chapter is here: 16
[Repeating the last lines of Ch. 16]
The door to the room burst open and a furious Wilson stormed in, flung open the door to the bathroom, and stood there, staring into the mirror. “House!” he sputtered. “How could you? What were you thinking?”
While Chase and the charge nurse tried to stifle their laughter, House looked at him innocently.
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
Wilson pointed furiously to his head. “You know damn well what I’m talking about!”
“Oh, that,” said House. “Well, head lice are terribly contagious. When you were shaving me, some must have gotten on you.”
“In my eyebrows!?!”
“Sure. Have you never heard of eyebrow lice? A subspecies of head lice: Pediculosis oculo-browitis? Don’t worry. I’m sure Cuddy will lend you her eyebrow pencil.”
“Very very funny. And what about this?” He pointed to the back of his head, which was shaved neatly bare, while the front remained completely untouched.
“Well, it’s like this. I meant to do your whole head, but about halfway through, I inconveniently passed out. Sorry.” He reached for the electric razor. “Want me to finish it off now?”
“I don’t want you anywhere near my head, House---“
“I’m gonna just…go wait for Dr. Jacoby out by the nurse’s station,” said Chase, backing out of the room. The charge nurse also took the opportunity to slip out.
Wilson looked at the grinning House and narrowed his eyes. “You be sure to be nice to Dr. Jacoby, now. You may even want to write him a thank you note.”
That wiped the smirk off House’s face. “What? Why?”
“Because he saved your miserable life, for better or worse. Got you onto dialysis when your kidneys were hours away from checking out for good.”
“Jacoby? That unmitigated prick? Great.” House let himself sink back into the pillow and scowled at Wilson. “You couldn’t have just, I don’t know, given me a couple of your kidneys? Spared me the humiliation?”
Strangely, that wiped the smirk off the face of Wilson, who had clearly been enjoying the prospect of House having to thank a man he despised. Instead a distinctly sheepish look appeared, and Wilson began edging away from the bed.
“Wait a minute,” said House, a note of alarm creeping into his voice. He sat upright again and grabbed at Wilson’s sleeve. “Wait just a damn minute. You were thinking about it, weren’t you? Admit it!” When Wilson remained mum, House shoved the shirt sleeve up Wilson’s arm to his elbow. There it was: the telltale little round band-aid.
“It’s not what you think. I…I gave blood yesterday.”
“I don’t believe this,” House continued, shaking his head and ignoring Wilson. He went on, as if talking to himself “You would have done it, too. But what stopped you? We weren’t a match, were we? You couldn’t be a donor… Shit.”
“Why ‘shit’?” When House didn’t answer, he pushed. “House?”
“Well, I was kind of… counting on your liver at some point.”
"Not all of it, of course. I'd leave some for you." It wasn’t conceivable in any universe for House to look sheepish. He couldn’t even manage the grace to look slightly abashed. Instead he his raised eyebrows and gave Wilson a cheerful grin.
Wilson shook his head in disbelief. “That takes neediness to new heights, House,” he said, pointedly rolling his sleeves down and buttoning the cuffs. “Unscaled heights. It’s the Mt. Everest of neediness. You’re a…you’re a cannibal.”
“Yeah, well, you eat neediness. I just eat… you. We're a perfect match. Just not for livers, unfortunately.”
Wilson raised a hand to rub the back of his neck, encountered the newly shaved smoothness there, and jerked his hand away.
“Wilson, Wilson, Wilson. Let’s not sweat the small stuff. Why don’t you look at my report card? I made Internal Organ Honor Roll. Aren’t you proud of me? I deserve a treat. I bet your parents took you out to dinner whenever you made Honor Roll.”
“No. They took me to see The Music Man. Your parents took you out to dinner.”
“No. My parents withheld dinner whenever I didn’t make Honor Roll. No to The Music Man. But I would accept a beer.”
“You can’t have beer.”
“Beer and chicken, then.”
“House, you’re on this trendy new diet. I’m sure you’ve heard of it: the Renal Failure Diet? High carbs, no protein. Restricted liquids. Beer is out. So is chicken. Which means--what are you doing? House?”
House, who had tried to draw in a deep breath and hold it in the classic pout, was forced to expel it when it triggered a bout of coughing. “I’m trying to hold my breath,” he gasped, “until someone…someone brings me a beer and… a Chicken Cesar Salad. Do you have any idea how long it’s been since… I drank anything that didn’t come in an IV tube? Or since I had a real meal, one which required animals to be hurt in the creation thereof?”
“I’m truly sorry. But let’s talk about something more important.”
“What’s more important than food?”
“Well, for starters: How about telling me what the hell happened to you?” House didn’t answer. “What do you remember?” he asked, more gently.
“I’ll tell you on two conditions. One, I’m sprung from here early for good behavior. Two, you bring me some real food.”
“You do know, don’t you, that it isn’t at all scary if you frown at someone when you don’t have any eyebrows?”
“What happened to you?”
House sighed and closed his eyes. The strange thing about the amnesia was, now that he remembered his distant past, the near past felt murky and unreal. It was as if, the fog having lifted on the far shore of the lake, it had resettled on the near shore. “I remember… handing you my cell phone. The next thing I remember is waking up in the drunk tank with the mother, and father, of all hangovers.”
“What happened after that?”
“It’s a long story, and it needs a beer to wash it down.”
“One word: No.”
“Two words: Beer and chicken. Chicken Cesar salad. Hold the lettuce. Hold the croutons. Hold the cheese.”
“What’s this sudden obsession with chicken?”
A look of longing came into House’s face. “I left it on the bus. The chicken from this guy’s Cesar salad. He left the whole meal on the table in the train station. I was hording it, and then… I lost it on the bus.”
Two long beats, while both men thought about Cesar salads in train stations. In the same instant they turned to look at each other, and both blurted out, “That was you! In the train station!”
“Holy crap,” added Wilson in an awed tone, remembering the ragged scarecrow of a man lying on the bench. But before either one could go any further, House’s whole team walked into the room, preceded by Cuddy.
“Morning, House,” said Cuddy. “I hear you’re doing better?”
House tore his gaze away from Wilson and gave her the usual once over. She was wearing one of her puffy-sleeved blouses, and as House opened his mouth to say something smart, he saw it. On the inside of her left elbow, a small, round band-aid. His mouth snapped shut soundlessly, and he winced. “Crap,” he said sotto voce. A sudden thought struck him. Instead of addressing Cuddy, he turned to Cameron, who was standing behind her. “Cameron. C’mere.”
Cameron gave him a suspicious look. “I’m not falling for that Sleeping Beauty thing again—“ she started, but House ignored her. She too was wearing a short-sleeved blouse. As she approached the bed he saw that she, too, had a band-aid on her inside elbow.
“Oh my god,” House groaned. Everyone looked at him worriedly, except for Wilson, who was perched on the edge of his own bed, watching the scene unfold with amusement. “Cameron, go away,” House told the mystified immunologist. She stepped backwards. “Chase, Foreman. Take off your coats. Shut up. Just do it.”
Chase and Foreman slowly shrugged off their lab coats, giving House wondering looks. Both men were wearing short-sleeved shirts. Both sported band-aids on the insides of their elbows.
“Even Foreman, for the love of God,” moaned House weakly, his voice grown husky from the strain of it all. “Has everyone taken leave of their senses? Is there to be no end of gratitude? I will never, ever live this down.”
Just then Dr. Jacoby walked into the room. “Jacoby, I swear,” said House in a fierce, hoarse voice, “if you’ve been tested, too, I’m unplugging this IV and swallowing strychnine.”
“And you’re very welcome, Dr. House,” said Jacoby smoothly, though he had no idea what House was talking about. “Saving lives? Just something I do in my spare time. Dr. Wilson. That’s a good look on you. Now, let’s see those BUN and creatinine levels.”