Characters: House, with Wilson, Cuddy, Chase, Foreman, Cameron, Stacy
Word Count: 2,125
Summary: Missing scenes from No Reason.
Author note: Second House fic in a year! I'm on a roll.
"Which one of you is House?"
There is an intensity in the man's eyes and somehow House is not surprised to see, even as he is buying time with a glib reply, he is not surprised to see the dark revolver appear from the man's coat pocket. What does surprise him is how quickly the man simply pulls the trigger.
There is no sensation of pain, just a feeling of force that knocks him backwards, off his feet. He is fully intending to get up off the ground, to confront the idiot with the sheer stupidity of shooting him in broad daylight in front of witnesses, but this is going to end badly because clearly the man is not in the mood to think through the finer points of homicide and broad daylight and witnesses. He still has the pistol and is pointing it straight at House's face.
His visual field shrinks until it holds only the man's face and the mouth of the gun the black hole at the end of the gun. He has just time to think, Anywhere but in the head- as the man takes a moment, savoring what he is about to do, saying something to House, and in that moment Chase's arm comes from nowhere. In that same moment- or just before? or just after?-the small flame spurts from the mouth of the gun, Chase's arm is there, jarring the man.
And then somehow he isn't dead, is he? Just lying there with eyes open and wondering if they taught Chase that move in the seminary and smiling because he is alive enough to appreciate Foreman standing over him, yanking off his tie while Cameron somewhere is saying to someone, on a phone probably a phone, something about a shooting and getting a gurney a crash cart while Chase on his knees has somehow gotten hold of the gun his hand shaking visibly such a girl and is pointing it at the shooter who is backing out of the office.
But not funny really. Two shots two bullets—one to the body and one to where? Did it miss him completely that second bullet? Or hit him where? The head? A bullet in the head doesn't hurt, only good thing about it, no pain receptors in the brain. He has a sudden image of Bobby Kennedy sprawled on the floor of the hotel kitchen in L.A., eyes wide open, a bullet in his brain, trying to talk, his last words: "Is it bad?"
Anything but the brain. He can manage with a bum leg but he needs his brain at 100 percent, anything less just not worth it.
"Is it bad?"
"You are going to be fine, House. Just stay with us." Foreman as usual managing to sound bossy and arrogant even at a time like this. House tries to ask him, What does that mean, Stay with us? And why does everyone always say that? Medically meaningless. As if saying it or even doing it might make a difference to a bullet in your brain. But his lips aren't working and anyway no one is listening.
Cameron is pressing something against his neck. So, second shot in the neck. Good. Unless…. No. Can still feel extremities. So not spinal column. Carotid? Jugular? Bleeding out better by far than brain trauma, severed spinal cord. Hope it's the jugular. Jugular better than carotid since it takes blood away from the brain not into it.
Foreman is stuffing his tie under House's shirt, pressing against his abdomen, first bullet is there, then: lower right quadrant. Liver? Spleen? For a second House wants to tell him not to worry, the tie was really fugly so no great loss but House is too annoyed. Foreman is…he's blocking House's view of the man the shooter as he backs away, still smiling, not even noticing Chase in his pathetic attempt to play the hero, his eyes are locked on House's and finally he turns and walks down the corridor toward the stairwell, still unhurried, still looking at House, so intently that he walks right into Wilson as the fool comes out of his office to see what idiocy House is up to, doing what? Setting off firecrackers? Shooting guns right there in his office? And then Wilson's face as he sees Cameron and Foreman crouched over something on the floor, something deeply wrong, no jokes, and brushing past the shooter and yanking the door from the outside just as Chase shoves it from the inside, Chase ignoring Wilson, shouting for a gurney goddammit. But no one hears him over the sound of the hospital-wide PA announcing a Code 4, a lockdown repeat Code 4. Halls fill with scurrying people.
He smirks. Well it is funny! Here they are in a hospital and there are no gurneys anywhere, none. And everyone else too busy dealing with the emergency to deal with the real emergency in here. He'll have to get up and walk to the ER. He tries to do it but Foreman just won't let up on the pressure, keeps pushing him down like that. And there also are no gurneys because of course the 4th floor has no patients, so…no nursing station, no crash carts. No nothing. Not even some gauze pads to staunch the bleeding so he has to put up with the indignity of some ugly unsterilized tie and whatever Cameron is using probably a Maxipad from her upturned purse—but omigod wait, there is Wilson, his hands full of actual gauze pads if only he can stop shaking long enough to peel the paper wrappers off them. Handing them to Chase, Chase taking over from Foreman, everyone's ungloved hands bloody and lab coats splashed with red and House wants to thank Wilson, to tell him how perfect it is how perfectly funny and predictable that Wilson, yes Wilson, would have one of those little blue First Aid kits in his office, just in case, in case what? He cuts himself shaving? A patient has a boo boo? House gets shot in the lower right quadrant by a random stranger?
Somehow a gurney appears, Foreman has wrangled it from somewhere, but no EMT's so the four of them have to boost him onto it, Wilson and Chase under his shoulders, Foreman grabbing his legs, Cameron cradling his head. No spinal collar, Cameron, that's the kind of thing gets an EMT fired, and then off to the elevator where someone is holding the door for them.
Elevator doors close and he is getting drowsy—hypervolemic shock?- and instantly alarms start going off. Elevator won't move. Wilson shouting into his phone something about a lockdown.
"What's so funny, House?" It's Foreman looking gawdawful pissed.
"Funny," he says. "Dying in a hospital... Stuck in elevator."
"You're not gonna die, House, so shut up." Chase is such a prig sometimes.
He closes his eyes. He sees Cuddy in her office screaming into a phone. "I don't care if it's a fucking lockdown, get the fucking elevators working RIGHT NOW!" In a stairwell somewhere the shooter is casually walking down four flights of stairs because he's too smart to take a fucking elevator.
There's a bump and he opens his eyes as the elevator stops screaming and starts moving. Doors open into front lobby. Cuddy is there, hustling people out of the way, crying "Move it! Get out of the way dammit."
Then a gasp from Cameron. He follows her eyes. Strolling calmly out of the northeast stairwell, the shooter. The gurney starts to move more quickly as everywhere people duck and scream. Out of the corner of his eyes he sees the security cop pull his gun. Old guy. He closes his eyes again. Old Cop has never shot his weapon in 40 years. House can see him now at the firing range, let's say, oh, last February, flunking the required every-five year- refresher course in weaponry. "I'll give you a month to requalify," grumbles his supervisor, then files the papers and forgets about it.
There's a shot, and another, but by now they're entering the swinging door to the ER, a security guard peels Foreman, Wilson and Cuddy away from the gurney, leaving just Cameron and Chase who are still applying pressure.
"Sorry," guard says, his arm blocking their way. "We're in lockdown, emergency personnel only."
"Fuck the lockdown," says Cuddy but protocol is protocol and he doesn't care who she is, his job is his job.
His last glimpse of Cuddy and Wilson is them staring at him, receding receding as he moves down the corridor. He closes his eyes again.
Wilson turns to Cuddy. "What are we going to do with him?"
"I'll think of something," says Cuddy, and they both walk away from the ER doors.
He's taken straight into the OR, never mind X-rays or scans. It's pretty clear what's wrong with him. And then there's Hourani hovering over him, holding him down. House grabs his arm.
"Good to see you again, House," says Hourani. "Always good to have a satisfied customer back on the chopping block."
"You butcher," says House. "Take a good look at your handiwork." He lifts the hospital gown off his thigh and the OR nurses get a good look as well as Hourani. "A ten-year-old with a butter knife could have done a better job. Where's Cuddy? I want a different surgeon. Cuddy!"
He sees now that Cuddy and Wilson are in the observation room above him. He tries to get their attention but they are looking only at Hourani.
Hourani picks up his chart. "Somebody didn't give this patient enough pre-op sedative. Stop thrashing around, House. Dr. Cuddy isn't going to save you. Nurse, another 50 mg of Demerol. Now then, Dr. Stetson, what anesthetic were you planning on using?"
"Propafel," responds a voice from behind House's head. "And fentanyl."
House feels the prick of the Demerol injection in his thigh. "Cuddy," he whispers as the sedative floods his system. "Stop this." But Cuddy can't hear him. Or won't.
"No propafel," says Hourani to Stetson, completely ignoring House. "I have a better idea. I'm part of a clinical trial using an experimental new anesthetic called ketamine. Draw me up an order for ketamine for this patient."
"No," House shouts, but it comes out in a whisper. "Not ketamine. Ketamine fucks with your brain.
Fucking with my leg was bad enough. I don't want it. It's experimental. You can't use it without Cuddy's approval."
"Hush now, House. Cuddy's all on board with this. Aren't you, Dr. Cuddy?" He turns back to House. "Besides, what are a few brain cells in the greater scheme of things?"
In the observation booth, Cuddy looks at Wilson and then back at Hourani. She nods. No one hears his final protestations as the mask is pressed over his face, the IV drip is adjusted, and the ketamine slowly but surely enters his bloodstream.
The first time he awakes, he is in the recovery room, Stacy is sitting beside him, a look of such sadness on her face that he wonders if he has died. He feels little besides a distant throb in his right leg. He runs his hand down his leg. There's a huge bandage there. Stacy turns her face away.
"I'm sorry," she whispers.
He closes his eyes.
The next time he wakes, he is in the ICU. He can tell from the sounds of multiple monitors and hushed voices. He runs a hand down his right thigh. Leg is still there, scar still there. He opens his eyes. Cameron is sitting beside him, reading a book...
…He closes his eyes one last time, fist curled around the bullet.
"Good bye," he whispers, to the patient he has killed, to his tormentor, to his own agonies.
He opens his eyes. ER doors banging shut behind him. Chase and Cameron still leaning over him.
"You're going to be okay."
Cameron, ever the wide-eyed optimist.
"You don't know that."
One two three. They shift him to an OR gurney. He can feel his eyes closing, something important he needs to say…he fights to stay awake.
"Tell Cuddy…" Wait. What was it? The one thing he needed to make the nightmare-make it all-go away? Yes, that's it
"I want ketamine."
The last time he awakes, this time in a hospital room, Cuddy is sitting beside him, curled into a chair, fast asleep. Wilson is sprawled in another chair, equally asleep.
His leg doesn't hurt. His neck and gut don't hurt.
Nothing hurts, but remembering.