|First full segment
||[Dec. 9th, 2006|01:28 am]
Enter the demented minds....
Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital is feeling a little... magical?|
Why do people have to wake up?
Greg House often pondered this question. Most of all, when he himself was just in that land bridging sleep and wakefulness. It would be so much easier, for the most part, just to slip back into that land of sleep for all of eternity. House would sometimes even envy his patients in comatose states. There was no pain, there were no foolish, petty worries. All that you had to do was virtually sleep, and occasionally, your consciousness would drop by and spy on your guilt ridden relatives who were all congregated to tell you how much they loved you.
However, House could hardly go back to sleep.
It was not because he had to go to work. If that had ever happened to him, if those compunctions had ever been what caused House to get up in the mornings, then he could not remember such a time.
His leg contracted with pain, and he swore, pushing himself into a seated position at the edge of his bed. Blindly, he groped on his bedside table for Vicodin. He tossed a few back, grimaced, and waited.
It was a matter of seconds before the general, pain free buzz that usually crossed him began to settle, but even under that, he felt sort of awful.
Maybe Wilson was right.
After the whole ordeal, maybe House was still feeling guilty.
But House shook this from his head with a sort of determined certainty. He won’t make me feel bad about what I did…. House thought, no matter how bad he already felt, and he reached for his cane, picking himself up.
Skipping breakfast, skipping packing any sort of semblance of a lunch, House was dressed and on his way to work seven and a half minutes later. It felt much better now, all of his pain, with the wind rushing past him so quickly. It was almost enough to forget everything, only proving Wilson’s theory that the pain was coming from some sort of deep-set inner guilt. House scowled and tried to forget even this thought, but, as usual, he could still feel it conspicuously running through him, whispered into his ear like the devil (or, rather, the angel) on his shoulder.
He was a little early arriving, for his own standards, although Cuddy still would have reprimanded him, had she run across him coming in at this time. Luckily, she had probably given up her morning activity of accosting House for coming in forty-five or so minutes late for more useful things… House did assume that she had business, being the Dean of Medicine, with matters that did not concern him in some way or another, although he hardly heard those. She did waste a lot of her time babysitting the Diagnostics department.
“You have Clinic Duty at one, House,” shouted Nurse Brenda as he passed the general desk.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he called back to her, hobbling on.
It even surprised him that nobody walked up to him to chatter his ear off as he made his way to the elevator. It was Monday, which meant, generally, that they would have a new, intriguing patient for the week, the case of whom one of his underlings—or, on occasion, Cuddy, and, in better days, Wilson—would have to talk him into taking.
Maybe the ducklings are waiting for me in the office, he thought with a sigh. “So lazy.”
He had not realized he had said anything aloud, but the other person in the elevator—a patient, or a family member of one, obviously, or else the reaction would likely not have been nearly so very surprised—stared at him as he pressed his floor number.
He glared back at her, and then smiled, making a goofy face. “I like the way it lights up like a Christmas tree when I push the button,” he said, his voice coming out a little strange.
Her eyes widened to the sizes of quarters, and, not surprisingly, she pressed the button for the very next floor. When the door opened, she practically ran out.
House got out on his own floor and hobbled over to the Diagnostics office.
Through the glass, he saw that the whiteboard was not empty, and he smiled slowly. So the ducklings did have a case for him.
He pushed the door open and sat down in the first chair that presented itself.
Chase was standing in front of the whiteboard, and, as soon as he saw House, he looked a little guilty, holding that whiteboard marker in his hand. House, however, did not mention the fact that he had virtually banned Chase from the board. It would be better to bring it up later. Besides, Chase did have rather pretty handwriting, even in comparison to Cameron. The board currently read: ‘Seizure, fever, respiratory arrest.’
Neither Foreman nor Cameron flinched as House entered. They were seated, both looking at different pages from what was undoubtedly their patient’s file.
“Isn’t somebody supposed to ask me or something before we take a case? Pass those.” House demanded loudly.
“Oh please, Daddy, could we keep her?” Cameron said acidly, passing her part of the folder over to House. Foreman still had the E.R.’s report, but House decided not to push the subject. His eyes skimmed over the pages before him.
Morgan, Joanne A. Age, seventeen. He looked at the E.R. picture clipped to the folder. She would have been quite a looker, had her eyes not been slightly swollen shut, and blood coming from her mouth.
“Why is this blood coming from her mouth,” House flicked the picture, “not on there?” He pointed at the whiteboard, ready to reprimand Chase for not having thrown it up there, and certainly ready to confiscate his markers and take over the writing task, or have Cameron do it.
“Interesting though it may be,” Chase said, rolling his eyes, “it’s not relevant. She bit her tongue while seizing.”
House heaved a sigh. “Well, I had been hoping we would actually have a case this time.” He gestured at the board. “There is no way that these symptoms are interesting enough at all to keep this. Who brought this case in?”
The ducklings ceased whatever quacking they had been about to spout, and just stared guiltily at something—Foreman, at his coffee mug, Chase, at the marker in his hand, and Cameron, right at House.
House grimaced. Of course.
“Cameron, we’re a Diagnostics department, not the Salvation Army. If you bonded with a patient with cancer, you wouldn’t pretend she had scurvy, would you? No, you’d write her right off to Wilson—”
Cameron shook her head. “It…” she shot a look at Chase. “It wasn’t me.”
House fell silent, and turned appraisingly to Chase. This one threw him for a loop. It was very, very seldom that Chase would want a patient specifically. Of course, House’s first thought escaped his lips without compunction.
“Chase? She’s a bit young for you, don’t you think?” Then, a sly grin crossed his face. “Or… maybe she does have cancer? You and those cancer kids, Chase—”
Chase blushed crimson, but shook his head. “It’s nothing like that. I was on E.R. duty when she came in. Her case just intrigued me.”
House could see right through the lie. “While seizures and fevers may be intriguing to somebody in his first year out of medical school, we hardly have any shortage of those in our department.” House’s eyes flicked down the sheet he had. He still lacked Foreman’s. “I take it that the respiratory arrest occurred in the E.R.?”
“Yeah,” Chase said distractedly. “Hey, listen to this, though. We weren’t doing anything to her when she went into it, though, we were just moving her out and into her own room—”
But House’s eyes had caught something on the sheet that made him roll his eyes royally. He tapped her place of birth with his hand and pinned Chase with a glare to slaughter thousands.
“Born in the United Kingdom?”
Chase turned a little red again.
House grinned. “Chase, are you getting a little homesick for the mother land?”
Chase glared. “I’m Australian, alright?” He growled. “But no, that’s not even why I took it… listen, House, I know you aren’t going to believe this—”
Foreman rolled his eyes and passed the sheet over to House, and Cameron slapped her forehead into her palm, but neither said anything. House’s eyebrows rose.
“I have a feeling that I’m not, gauging my esteemed colleagues’ reactions.” He looked back up to Chase and smiled saccharinely. “But go ahead. I enjoy shooting down your thoughts and ideas, Chase.” He suffered the other man’s glare.
Chase bit his lip, and then sighed a little. “Alright. Well, when she went into the respiratory arrest, only me and two other nurses were there, since we were about to wheel her out.”
House just stared, nodding a little to keep him talking. Chase still paused for an extended time, and then let out all of his air.
“Well, anyway, when she first went into arrest….”
There was another pause, and then House rolled his eyes, pulling out some Vicodin. “The suspense is killing me.” He threw the Vicodin into his mouth and dry swallowed it.
“—the bed floated.” Chase said urgently.
House choked, increasingly glad that the Vicodin were already happily swimming in his stomach. His eyes grew steadily, and he just stared at Chase.
He did not know what to be more surprised about—that they had a could-be witch under their care, or that Chase was passing crap like this around.
“Floated?” He asked, incredulously.
Cameron shook her head, face still in her palm. “I told him not to mention it to you.”
“Well, how else is he going to take the case?” Chase said urgently.
“Floated?” House repeated.
Chase looked over at House and frowned. “It was more like it levitated, actually… like, seven or eight centimeters off of the ground. It only set down once we pulled out the bag for intubation. That was also when her arrest stopped.”
House pushed himself by way of cane onto his feet again, and stared at Chase, then walked over, snatching the markers away from him. “Take a seat, amateur.”
Chase sighed and sat down, still obviously a little ruffled. Apparently, he thought that House was going to erase the symptoms.
However, House pulled out a different colored marker, a red one, and wrote, at the top: ‘Floating Beds???’
He turned around to the room, the occupants of which were obviously quite surprised. He smiled. “Congratulations. New case. It’s a girl. Now let’s get rolling! What could explain these symptoms?”
Foreman, Cameron, and Chase all simultaneously opened their mouths to speak, but House held up his hand. “Ah-ah. Tell them to Cameron,” he said, tossing the markers to her. “Write them in green,” he advised. “I’m going to go talk to Miss Hermione Granger now.”
“Joanne Morgan,” Chase reminded him automatically. House grinned. So maybe his favorite Aussie intensivist was captivated by more than this girl’s awesome set of symptoms.
“Depend on Chase not to catch my awesome cultural reference,” House said, all suffering. “And you call yourself a British expert.”
“Oh, she was brought in by her boyfriend… he’s with her on vacation.” Foreman said suddenly.
House’s eyebrows rose. “He in her room?”
“I would assume. He hasn’t left it all night.” Chase muttered, kicking his feet up onto the table.
“Well, hopefully I’ll catch her when he’s off to tinkle,” House said with a sigh. He very rarely enjoyed dealing with the loved ones of his patients. However, a witch’s boyfriend—House entertained himself by mentally referring to him as Ron Weasley—may turn out to be a different matter entirely. “I want at least twenty possibilities crammed into that itty-bitty space left there by the time I get back. And I want somebody doing some kind of harmless test in the lab. I will be checking by… and no making out when you think I’m not looking.” He gave Foreman and Cameron significant looks. They both rolled there eyes, almost like it had been choreographed.
He hobbled out of the room without another word, leaning heavily on his cane.
The Vicodin of a few minutes ago seemed almost to have worn off already. It did not help that, for the first time in a week, there was a light on in Wilson’s office.
As a method of winding down—and, no doubt, a method of keeping away from House—Cuddy had sent Wilson to an Oncology conference somewhere in Arizona. House had not spoken to his one-time friend since returning from his month’s rehabilitation, not even on unfriendly terms. They had been acting like middle school factions, the entire hospital silently divvying up, and House was unpleased (but not surprised) to see that most of the place was on Wilson’s side. Only his team had remained behind him, and, even they would remind House time and again that Wilson was right. Cuddy, for her part, was doing her best to remain neutral, but just her regular antics seemed more and more like she was siding with the Boy Wonder these days.
It was not that House did not want to be on good terms with Wilson again. It was helpful, professionally. They needed an in with an oncologist, if only because cancer did some crazy things, and was almost always brought up during any given case they had.
But, of course, it was not only professional. House missed Wilson… he missed the Friday nights in front of the television with the beer. It was not that House did not still have those, but he was always conspicuously lacking the slightly drunk Wilson at his side, and without that blessing, he more or less had nothing. He missed the meals Wilson would cook him sometimes, and the ones he would buy him a little more often. He missed being able to claim that he at least had one human being on this planet upon whom he could depend, and who he could at least pretend could depend on him.
House, in short, would have done any thing to be able to speak openly to Wilson again. It was just such a prideful subject….
No amount of openness, however, could stop his sudden grimace and urge to hobble in the other direction as quickly as he possibly could when he saw Wilson rounding the corner, lab coat swishing behind him.
House drew up short, watch Wilson as he perused a file, walking down the hall towards him. Wilson was unguarded, not having seen House yet, and House used this as an opportunity for some quick observation. The younger man looked rather haggard, for Wilson, was the first thing House spotted. He had probably not shaven in two days—while there was not much stubble to speak of, it was not the same perfectly clean face of ever before. His eyes were red-rimmed… not from tears, but rather from irritated, sleepless eyes. There were dark circles beneath them. His tie was done up perfectly (of course, House had seen Wilson do a tie when he was hammered almost to oblivion, so that was hardly a surprise), but his lab coat was hanging a little crooked, and his pants had obviously not been ironed.
House had just turned his attentions to the file in Wilson’s hand when Wilson’s deep, suspicious brown eyes snapped up.
He stopped right in the middle of the hall, and looked right at House.
There was an instant where it was almost like before. The very second that their eyes met, chocolate with that piercing blue, there were no hostilities passed in that silent gaze. House almost felt like he was going to ask Wilson how the conference had been, but he settled for allowing a small smile to curl on his face.
Maybe things could be alright again.
Or so he thought, until Wilson’s eyes darkened, and he turned around instantly and walked, as briskly as he could, in the other direction.
House would probably not have followed, but he felt slighted. He glared for an instant, and then limped up practically right next to Wilson.
They reached the elevators at the same time, and Wilson pressed the button. He was tense—and quite obviously very angry—beside House, but he would not acknowledge him there next to him. The silence seemed to stretch forever, until a mercifully empty elevator opened up on their level, and they both stepped in.
Once the doors had shut, Wilson turned to House and said, a little accusatorially, “What are you doing?”
“Going to go see a patient,” House replied, trying to keep as much bitter sarcasm out of the words. He had been acknowledged, had been spoken to, and that was definitely more than what had happened more or less since this Tritter business had started. He pressed the floor button. Wilson, obviously seeing that was the floor to which he was headed, as well, sighed and stepped back a little bit.
“How was the conference?” House asked, before he could bite it back.
Wilson tensed even more, looking over at the older man and glaring slightly. Slowly, however, he replied, “Very interesting.”
House smiled. “Oh, that’s good.”
It would have been perhaps a little less awkward even than it was had they been speaking anything like they had used to. But ‘very interesting’ was seldom a Wilson answer, and ‘oh, that’s good,’ without any of the legendary snarkiness, was in no way even expected to be in House’s vocabulary.
This time, the silence lasted until they both got out on the same floor, and started off in rather the same direction.
Wilson cleared his throat. Some of his tenseness seemed to have gone away.
“Um… what’s with the new patient?”
House almost grinned right up to the ceiling, but he somehow contained himself. “A young British girl—Chase suggested her. You really should come in on a consult for this one… Chase is going kind of wild about something or another about her.”
Wilson’s eyebrows just went up.
“Wait a minute… the one who seized on the bus?”
House shrugged. “I don’t know if it was on a bus….”
Suddenly, Wilson turned a little red with anger and stopped walking. “That’s my patient. Cuddy assigned me to the case.”
House stopped dead.
“What? But she’s undiagnosed!” He yelled, turning a few heads.
Wilson made his exasperated face, and, for the first time in a very long time, it was not about House. “I don’t know… she said that they had seen a brain tumor, and I was supposed to check it out to see if it was benign.”
House was just shaking his head vehemently over and over. “We haven’t even run an MRI yet. The kids are in the office now, listing possibilities—still all the scents of a spanking new case to me.”
Wilson opened up the file, and, surely enough, it was an exact replica of the one House had.
They looked at each other, eyebrows up.
“This can’t be a mistake,” Wilson said.
Five minutes later, both House and Wilson were hammering loudly and heavily upon Cuddy’s office door.
There was a pause before the click of heels, which meant that Cuddy was speaking with somebody in there, and then the door gave way under House’s relentless knocks with his cane (Wilson, to his credit, had politely stopped after four or five, although he was still steaming mad), and opened to reveal someone who was not Cuddy, and very nearly received a rap on the head for his efforts of getting the door.
The person who stood in the doorway was probably about Wilson’s height, but the guy must have been seventeen or eighteen. He was a handsome enough kid, with good features and shining blond hair. He looked as if he had not been asleep in a few days, and a frown permeated his face.
“Hello?” His accent was thickly British, of the rather proper sort.
“Let me in,” House said, brushing past him quickly and into the office.
“Excuse me,” Wilson added, following House. Confusedly, the boy blinked, and then shut the door as he turned back around into the office, taking his old seat on the comfortable chair.
House and Wilson were standing in front of Cuddy’s desk.
“What,” demanded House, taking Wilson’s file and throwing it down on Cuddy’s desk, “is this about?”
Without any surprise in her manner whatever, Cuddy looked at the file and smiled a little. “It would appear to be a patient’s file.” She opened it up and tutted with her tongue. “The very patient about whom Mister Hugger here and I were just conferring. Seizures on a bus—”
Wilson turned around and sort of waved to the boy Cuddy had just mentioned, who House figured must have been the boyfriend. He gave a frightened little half-wave back.
“I know that, Cuddy.” House did nothing short of growl. “What I meant is… why the hell were Wilson and I assigned to the same case?”
Cuddy feigned innocence. “What? The same case?”
“You just assigned me to it fifteen minutes ago,” Wilson said, speaking for the first time. He looked as if he were holding back some great reservoir of annoyed feelings, and, if the dam broke, House had a feeling both he and Cuddy would get drowned in it, so House decided to take over all of the talking.
“Chase picked it up, and, seeing as we have the file, I took it that he had approached you about taking it.”
“I suppose he did….” Cuddy mused.
“And there just happen to be two copies of this girl’s file?” House demanded.
Cuddy shrugged. “I guess there just might be.”
House was about to say something when his pager went off. He glanced at it.
“It can wait,” House growled, only to hear a sudden noise of protest from behind him. He turned around, and the golden boy had been the source of said noise.
“Is it about Joanne?” He demanded of House, with such a presence that House actually was impressed. The boy had looked a little too weary to be pushing anyone around, especially such an ornery doctor.
“It might be.” House said.
“Then go.” The boy insisted, and then, a little more tenderly, added, “Please.”
Of course, the boy would not care that House had to stay and yell at Cuddy, neither for House’s side nor Cuddy’s. He just wanted his girlfriend to be safe.
House sighed and rolled his eyes. “Alright, alright.” He figured that Wilson, when left to his own devices, was probably a more effective person to yell at Cuddy than he, anyway. Slowly, House hobbled out, feeling his anger ebbing away. He almost wanted to reach for a Vicodin, but the movement was not so natural as it had once been, at least not while he was walking. At the door, he turned around and looked back in quickly.
Both Cuddy and Wilson were looking more than a little surprised—showing signs of going into shock, more like—that House was following the orders of a patient’s loved one. However, neither of them said anything.
House was almost tempted to say something to Wilson in leaving. But he knew that they were not okay, not yet, and that the slightest breeze might cause them to break again. He just nodded in at them, and mentally urged Wilson to go for the jugular, and then pushed out of the office.
Once the door had shut, Cuddy turned back to Wilson, who appeared to be steaming, somewhat, out of the ears.
“Alright, I get that you’re mad,” Cuddy said, but Wilson cut her off.
“Of course I’m mad. I know what you’re doing, and I don’t appreciate it,” he said abruptly.
Cuddy sighed and pressed her fingers against her temples, shaking her head slowly. “Alright, I still get it. But it’s not like you were walking miles to reach him recently, anyway.”
“So you give me a week away from him and then throw me into his lap and expect me to cope?” Wilson demanded, crossing his arms.
“I didn’t give you a week away from him,” Cuddy reminded Wilson. “The Oncology seminar did that. I just let you go. But I don’t want to polarize this hospital any more than is necessary, and I certainly don’t want House to be this miserable anymore.”
Wilson sighed, almost as though he really did not want House to be this miserable anymore, either. But he just held his tongue and stared Cuddy down.
Nearly anybody would give into that stare. It was the full on, don’t-make-me-do-this stare. Even House caved under its pressure. However, Cuddy just held tight and half smiled.
“You’re still on the case. Not that House wouldn’t make you involved in it, anyway, if you were still on speaking terms. Now go find him and see what that page was about.”
Wilson gave her an exasperated glare.
She smiled and stood, escorting him to the door. “It’s a chance to pretend that you’re forced into being friends again. Make the most of it.”
And she pushed him out the door.
Meanwhile, House entered pathology with an even more annoyed look than usual on his face. However, underneath it, he felt fresh… new. Like his old self. Instead of Cuddy keeping things natural between himself and Wilson (and failing) it was more like House and Wilson were badgering Cuddy. He much preferred things this way.
Chase and Cameron were in the lab, running different things through different machines. House sighed. Chances were that one would be positive, and then there would be absolutely no reason for him to have taken the case, other than that morbid curiosity Chase had prompted in him about this girl. If this page was to tell him something important at all, then the case was practically over, anyway, and he had not even gotten a chance to speak with the patient. He let out a sigh, and then leaned through the door.
Both of his underlings looked up at him, wide eyed, and frowned when they saw who it was.
“What did you learn from the patient?” Cameron asked. Chase looked curious.
House’s eyebrows went up. “I wasn’t with the patient. I was with Cuddy… you didn’t page me here?” He asked.
They looked at each other, and then slowly shook their heads. “No.”
“You didn’t go in to get samples from the patient and then… oh, I don’t know… notice that I wasn’t in there?”
Again, the dumb, blank, “No.”
“We used the samples of blood that we got from the E.R.” Chase said. “We were going to run those before the urine tests. We figured you didn’t want to be disturbed.”
House royally rolled his eyes. “But… if neither of you, paged me… then who did?”
The two just looked at each other again.
Growling now, House said, “Where’s Foreman?”
“I think he has clinic duty. Why?”
“There’s no way he could have paged me, is there?”
Chase just shrugged. “I don’t see why. Was it an emergency page?”
“There aren’t emergencies very often in the clinic. At least none that Foreman wouldn’t be able to handle without you.” Cameron said, smiling.
“Right, because it’s completely impossible to fake an emergency,” said House bitingly, but in the back of his mind, he knew that she was right, even if for the wrong reasons. Foreman would not be very likely to page him just to shake him around a little bit. It had to have been somebody else.
He sighed. “Well, since I’m out of… my impromptu meeting with Cuddy, I suppose I’ll go see the patient now. You fellas figured anything out yet?”
Chase shook his head. “Blood sugar is normal, negative for all drug tests.”
House’s eyebrows went up. “Eighteen, and negative for all drug tests?”
“Seventeen.” Cameron corrected him. Chase just shrugged.
“Run them all again,” House said, and he caught only one little gleeful glance at Chase’s annoyed face before turning around and hobbling out. At least Chase had the good graces to wait until the door had swung shut behind him to complain, because House did not hear a thing.
Wilson left Cuddy’s office feeling terribly manipulated.
He frowned and ran his fingers through his hair. It was one thing when House used to do it. It was endearing and almost like friendship when House did. But something about Cuddy pulling the strings made Wilson feel like he was somehow being abused.
His frown grew the more he thought about it. He set his shoulders and started walking, uncertain as to where he was going.
The boy from before, in Cuddy’s office, followed him out the door.
They walked together a ways, because Wilson was too angry to ask the boy what he was doing, and the boy was too worried to ask Wilson where he was going, or say anything else.
“Doctor Wilson?” The boy finally asked once they reached the elevators. It was odd to Wilson to not have to look down when dealing with a teenager, but this boy was incredibly tall. He looked over as they stepped in through the opening doors. Wilson pressed the light for the floor on which his patient was staying.
“I’m Gavin Hugger. Joanne is my girlfriend.”
Wilson nodded. “Apparently, I’m Joanne’s doctor.” They shook hands, and Wilson could hardly ignore the fact that, though Gavin appeared to be a strong boy, his grip was rather weak, and his eyes were glassy. “Have you slept at all since she came in?”
Gavin slowly shook his head. “No. I was… with her, until Cuddy asked to speak to me.”
They were quiet as the elevator rose gently, and then still as the doors opened and they both stepped out. “I’m going to go talk with Joanne. You can come in if you like,” Wilson said reluctantly. Usually, it was better not to encourage the patients’ loved ones in the room during interviews, but something told Wilson that Gavin would not allow him, anyway. They could get all of the really juicy stuff once House interviewed the girl.
Gavin nodded gratefully. “Thank you….” He said, smiling softly.
Wilson entered the room, and quickly took it all in.
Joanne looked quite a deal better than she had in her E.R. picture. Her eyelids were still a little pink, but the rest of her seemed fine. She smiled as she saw Gavin come in, and then looked at Wilson, cocking her head.
She really was a very pretty girl. She had a nice, even, medium skin tone, and a thin, pretty face with a defined jaw. Her eyes were almond, in shape and color, with almost an Oriental slant to them. Her hair had been pulled down, and was tumbling in ebony curls around her face. In short, she was gorgeous.
Wilson just smiled and stood at the foot of her bed.
“Hi… I’m Doctor Wilson. I’ll be… one of your doctors.”
Her eyebrows rose slowly. “One? Is one not enough?” She smiled. She, too, had an outrageously British accent. Wilson watched as Gavin sat next to her, grabbing one of her hands and bringing it to his lips with a smile.
“Yours is an interesting case. They have all of the Diagnostics department working on you—those are under Doctor House.”
She smiled. “Yeah, I’ve heard that name before.” Gavin smiled, as well. “And what department are you with?”
Wilson hesitated, and then said, “I’m the Head of Oncology.”
Gavin said nothing, just blinked, but Joanne’s eyes slowly widened. “Oh? Do you… think I have cancer?”
Choking, Gavin spluttered, “What? Cancer?”
Wilson shook his head quickly. “It’s nothing like that. Really—House calls me in for consults on all of his cases. We have found no indication that what you have is cancer. I’m just assigned so that I can help out a little.” That, he thought bitterly, and the fact that I have almost no actual cancer patients anymore.
Joanne still looked worried. “You’re not just saying that to make me rest easier, are you? I mean… can’t seizures be caused by different kinds of cancers and brain tumors?”
Wilson was just a little surprised at Joanne’s know-how. Usually, House’s patients were notorious for being rather moronic. “They certainly can, but there’s nothing to suggest that that’s the reason for you being brought in. We just have to run a few tests before we can diagnose you.”
It was then that the door slid open, and in came House.
House’s eyes immediately rested on Wilson, after only a two-second sweep of the patient and her boyfriend. He smiled.
“Getting an early one in for me, Jimmy?”
Wilson almost winced. He and House were not on great terms yet, at least not so far as Wilson was concerned. Yet somehow, House seemed to be neglecting that entire idea, and jumping right back into the way things used to be.
Oh well, why fight it? He knew he could always manifest his anger a little later.
“Joanne, this would be Doctor House.”
House turned and gave a quick nod to the patient, and then walked in, shutting the door firmly behind him. He turned back to Wilson.
“What did you find out so far?”
Wilson shrugged and shook his head. He knew it was beyond rude to discuss patient matters in front of the very patient. Besides that, he really had not found out very much.
House shrugged in return, and turned to Joanne.
“Do you do drugs?”
Joanne looked confused. “Do I… what?” To Wilson’s surprise, Gavin did not look any better in the know. They both had these blank looks on their faces, ones Wilson usually expected to receive only after using a big, medical term.
House rolled his eyes. “They’re running tests through in the lab to find that out. I just figured if you wanted to tell me, then it would save us a little bit of time.”
“Er… no, I don’t think I do.” Joanne said, still apparently very confused.
Wilson was surprised even more. A seventeen-year-old girl who knew what oncology meant and knew more or less what a seizure could entail did not just remain ignorant of what drugs were. He crossed his arms, and his eyebrows went up, as he leaned back and just watched House work.
Maybe this would be an interesting case, after all.
“Alright. Do you have sex?” He asked, looking at the two of them.
Gavin almost laughed, and Joanne quickly blushed and shook her head. “Er… no.”
House muttered something along the lines of ‘Oh, well, Chase will be pleased,’ but Wilson knew that the likeliness of House actually trusting either of those statements was ridiculous.
Wilson was even more surprised by this, though, than by the patient’s admission that she did not know what drugs were. A girl so stunningly beautiful and a boy so terribly handsome, with both of them obviously devoted to each other… at age seventeen… not having sex was about as likely as throwing a rock randomly into the desert and causing a geyser. It just did not happen.
“Have you been in any strange places… environments at all, recently?” House interjected into Wilson’s scattered thoughts.
“Only this entire continent,” Joanne muttered, glancing apologetically up at House. “I’m sorry, but that’s really no help.”
“Do you have any family history of illness?”
Joanne blinked slowly, and then shook her head with equal deliberation, with a slight shrug. “I wish I could tell you. I really don’t know.” Her voice was a little mournful, and Wilson noticed Gavin squeeze her hand and smile up into her eyes. Wilson’s own eyebrows rose slowly. Something was up about Joanne’s family, that was for sure. He filed that away for later pondering.
Apparently House had found out enough, though, because he nodded to the patient. “Okay, that’s about it. You’ll probably see me around again.” And, with that, he turned around and headed for the door. Wilson smiled and waved to both Gavin and Joanne and then started out after House, as well, taking care to shut the door behind him.
“What kind of a patient history was that?” Wilson scoffed, snorting disdainfully.
House shrugged grandly, waiting just a little for Wilson to catch up. “Well, about as good of one as I was going to get. If she doesn’t know anything about her family, there’s no use in talking to her.” He looked over at Wilson and smiled. “At least not with the boyfriend in there, too.”
Wilson blinked, and then slowly rolled his eyes. “You aren’t going to go back later and badger her, are you?”
“I was planning on getting Chase to do it, actually, he seems to be so intrigued by her, but, now that you mention it, badgering does sound so very fun.”
Now, Wilson stopped dead. He expected House to keep walking, but the man actually stopped for him, turning to face his one-time friend.
Wilson was confused, and he showed it. “Is there something special about this patient that I don’t know? Or are you just needling Chase about her because she’s attractive and British?”
“Those do help,” House said, smiling and taking a step closer to Wilson. “Although I’m a little surprised you noticed—she’s underage, after all.” Wilson rolled his eyes, but House ignored the gesture, as always. “Chase brought me the case. I’m trying to figure out exactly why.”
With that, House turned around and started walking again. Wilson followed after him, because years of training kept it that way.
“So you’re not even all that interested in what she has?” Wilson asked, surprised—although he had no idea why he should be so.
House shrugged as best as he could. “Not really. It’s not presenting in a very strange way. I mean, sure, it could be anything, but anything should be easy enough to find.”
They turned around, on the elevator now, and Wilson immediately pressed the floor button for their offices. “What was the page about?” Wilson asked.
House looked at Wilson, a little confused at first, before catching on. “Oh, that.” Then he frowned. “I don’t know. Chase and Cameron were in the lab, and they claim it wasn’t either of them.”
“Foreman, then? Who else knows your pager number?”
“He was in the clinic. I can’t imagine him paging me for an emergency from there.” House said with a sigh. “But there’s still the option that Chase and Cameron were shaking me around a little bit.”
Wilson blinked. There was also the option that Cuddy had had somebody page him, to get him out of her office, seeing as she so obviously knew that Wilson and House would be in there. It was also a little too convenient that Hugger had been in conference with Cuddy at the time. But Wilson did not open his mouth, just leaned back against the back wall of the elevator until it reached the desired floor.
They walked to the Diagnostic office together in silence.
Chase and Cameron had apparently gotten back from the lab, because they were seated with some sorts of results, gazing up at the white board and talking things over. They fell silent, though, when House wrenched the door open. They seemed especially confused when Wilson followed him in, but neither said anything.
“I take it from the jumble of possibilities left on the board,” House said bitingly as he walked over to it, “that the results were everyone’s favorite ‘I’ word.”
The two just looked at him, eyebrows up. Wilson, in the meantime, found a seat and started to read the symptoms up on the board.
“Inconclusive,” House said, as though he were explaining to a monkey what a banana was for. Chase and Cameron just looked at each other, a little exasperated.
“Yeah. The toxins and metals we checked for came up negative.” Chase said.
“She doesn’t have any of the infections we checked for, either.” Cameron added.
“Drugs?” House asked loudly.
“No. The drug screen was negative.” Chase said, obviously annoyed. “The fifth time we ran it, it came up negative, House. Give that one up, alright?”
House rolled his eyes. “Doesn’t somebody get defensive about his little girlfriend, then?” Chase seemed to steam a little, bit he said nothing.
Wilson, however, had seen something he found incredibly interesting—interesting enough to make a weird, incoherent noise and yell out into the room, “Floating bed?”
All three of the other occupants of the room turned to him, and there was a brief silence, before House started whistling the X-Files theme. When Wilson glared at him, the tune morphed, a little more, into the Harry Potter theme.
“Yeah, I was—” Chase said, blushing more than Wilson had ever seen Chase blush. “I was in the E.R., and two nurses were with me, and we were just moving her out when she went into respiratory arrest and the bed started floating.” He said this all very quickly, which led Wilson to believe that somebody (House) had given him grief for taking a while to spit it out earlier. “You can ask the nurses, honestly. It stayed floating until we were about to give her the bag, and then it set back down, and her passageways cleared again.”
House stopped whistling. “Oh, I do love a good story. Especially the second time around.”
Chase turned to glare at House again, but Wilson was too busy thinking to do so, as well. Now, the reasons for which he had taken the case seemed even vaguer. If Chase had seen—or had thought he had seen, or was insisting he had seen—the bed floating, how was that not reason enough to take the case? If she had something simple, she could be treated and cleared without any problem. If there were any difficulties, then House would get a puzzle, just like he wanted. Wilson wondered why House had to know exactly why Chase had taken interest in the case. The bed would be enough for Wilson, anyway. Chase did not seem like the kind of person to make a story like that.
“Now, let’s see what we have left on the board, shall we?” House asked, and turned around, stroking his chin like a master villain and surveying the whiteboard through squinted eyes.
“So she doesn’t take antipsychotic drugs… and she doesn’t have asthma, so it can’t be an effect of those,” said House, appearing to be thinking out loud. “The drug screen, as Chase has so fervently put it, is negative, so it can’t be cocaine or heroin. Blood alcohol level at zero, and negative for narcotics, so she can’t be going through withdrawals.” He wiped these crossed out diagnoses from the board as he stated them, leaving plain white spaces where they had used to be. “And, at E.R. level at least, electrolytes and blood sugar were relatively normal.” House did not wipe these two off, just put a dot by them with the red marker, and then turned back to the other three. Chase was hitting his pencil’s eraser against the desk. Cameron looked deep in thought, probably worried to death about the poor, undiagnosed patient. Wilson was just watching out the window sullenly.
House’s eyebrows went up. “Come on, folks? Why the long faces? It’s a party, remember?”
They all turned to stare at him.
“The Diagnostic party!”
Neither Cameron nor Chase seemed all that amused, but Wilson’s lips twitched with the tiniest of smiles.
Both Cameron and Chase opened their mouths, but Wilson got there first.
“We still need to do an MRI, first and foremost. We have to rule out cancer, or any inflammations that could point to meningitis or trauma, so long as we haven’t given her steroids yet.”
“We haven’t.” Cameron said in answer, and Wilson nodded.
House nodded, a weird smile prevalent on his features. “Alright, then. Chase, run her through the MRI. Cameron, go with him, to make sure he doesn’t do anything inappropriate.”
If looks could kill, both Chase and Cameron would have been murdering House at the moment. However, Wilson mused lightly, if looks could kill, House probably would have been dead long before this moment.
The two left, though, without any verbal complaints, and House turned to Wilson, half smiling.
“I am going to go check up on the wee one in the clinic, to make sure that he wasn’t the one who paged me.”
Wilson nodded. He was not quite sure why House was telling him this, but he stayed quiet for a little.
Then, slowly, he realized that it was an invitation to go with him. Wilson, as if on automatic, got to his feet. “Let’s go, then.” House nodded, and looked like he was going to say something, but of course he did not, and they just started off out of the office.
The Clinic looked just as dark and unwelcoming as it did on its worst day. House grimaced when he saw the clock. He had come in late that day—eleven, which was even late for his standards. He had wasted an hour of his work time already. And, as Nurse Brenda had reminded him so cheerily earlier, he had Clinic duty at one. That meant one hour to convince Foreman into doing his hours for him.
“Dr. Foreman called me in for a consult,” House said loudly to Brenda as he breezed by. “What exam room?”
“Two,” she replied, without even looking up. She must have been busy, because usually she was just the sort of stiff to deny House that knowledge, and to make him just breeze into any old room.
House and Wilson both filed quickly into Exam Room 2.
Foreman turned around to see who it was. When he saw, first he looked annoyed at House, and then surprised at Wilson. Then, a few seconds later, he lapsed into being annoyed at House again.
“I don’t remember calling either of you in for a consult.” He said, tone clipped.
“That’s alright, we’re doing it out of the kindness of our own hearts.” House said quickly, flashing a smile, and surveying the patient who was sitting up on the examination table.
She was a rather pretty girl, probably in her late teens. Her hair was that straight blonde color and consistency you only got if it was naturally exactly like that, and she had just about the biggest hazel eyes and the purest, pale skin. However, the whites or her eyes were rather pink and irritated, and a small rash was spreading up from her neck to about underneath the left side of her ear. Three of House’s least favorite things—patient’s loved ones—were standing off in the corner of the room; they had been talking, but had fallen silent as soon as House and Wilson had walked in.
“Hi,” he said to the girl on the table, “I’m Doctor House. I’m this man’s,” he pointed at Foreman, “boss.”
She gave a weak, uncertain smile. “Er… hello?”
House’s eyebrows immediately went up. Her accent was thickly and properly British. He wondered if he should be wary of her.
“I would ask ‘what seems to be the problem’ here, usually, but obviously you have already let my esteemed underling know that, and, besides, other than those messy internal symptoms that mean next to nothing in the long end, I can probably tell all of it.
“Have you four, by any chance, been hiking recently?”
The girl looked over to her friends, and then said softly, “Er, yeah, just a bit.”
“Ah. I see. And do you not have poison oak back in mother England?”
The girl’s eyebrows went up. “Not that I know of.”
House smiled. “Well, you should be able to tell by the name of the thing that, yes, it is a plant and, yes, it is poisonous. It seems that you have come into contact with some of it, most likely while you were out on your hike. New Jersey is a dangerous place in the summer. I would plan a vacation to Arizona next time if I were you… very little foliage in which to become entangled.”
The girl looked mildly offended, but not nearly so much as most of House’s patients became shortly after speaking to him, so House figured he would get little to no trouble from Cuddy later about it. He had just turned around and started to walk off when one of the loved ones from the corner piped up.
“What do we do about it, Doctor House?”
The young man who walked forward was probably about House’s own height, with well tamed bright red hair that fell down below his ears in a kind of early Beatles haircut. His accent, also, was incredibly reminiscent of the very band.
“Oh, there are plenty of salves for treatment. I’m sure Doctor Foreman would be just tickled to prescribe them.” House said, grinning.
“In the meantime, Mister McCartney….” House began, amused greatly by the look of confusion on the boy’s face.
“Morgan. Simon Morgan.”
House nodded. “Oh, quite right, Mister Mo—”
He stopped dead. He and Wilson must have realized it all at once, because they looked quickly at each other. Wilson’s face resembled House’s feature for feature, from the shocked wide eyes to the tightly shut mouth. Then, they turned to look back at Simon Morgan.
Wilson spoke up for once.
“You’re not by any chance of any relation to Joanne Morgan, are you?”
Morgan looked at Wilson and cocked his head. “Who are you?”
“Oh, pardon me,” Wilson said, holding out his hand for Simon to shake (which he did, only lightly, as though he were in a dreamlike state), “I’m Doctor Wilson.”
“And how do you know Joanne?” Simon asked.
“So you do know her?” Wilson continued.
Foreman was obviously irritated by this point. “What are you trying to pull, you two?”
“She’s my sister.” Simon said, with a certain quiet kind of urgency in his voice.
House smiled slowly. “Well… she’s our patient.”
“We want you to keep as still as you possibly can, alright?” Chase asked Joanne. Her hair had been tied back, and she had been laid out on the MRI table. She had this confident, beautiful look on her face. “It’s going to be noisy, but you can’t move.”
“I think I can handle that,” Joanne joked lightly, and Chase laughed back, darting one quick look into her eyes before stepping back and away and nodding to Cameron. Cameron nodded back, and the table started to slowly move into the machine.
Chase went back behind the glass to join Cameron. Gavin was back there, as well. Chase got a bad vibe off of this particular boy, but he obviously said nothing to anybody. House would just interpret it as Chase having some sort of messed up crush on the patient, and things would get annoying and complicated.
Especially when House isn’t exactly wrong, Chase thought, his brow furrowing as he tried to concentrate on something else… anything else. The glare off of the screen of the computers seemed in particular quite interesting.
“Is Gavin in there?” Joanne asked from inside the machine. Chase glowered a little as Cameron leaned forward to the microphone.
“Yes. Would you like to talk with him?”
“Just for a second, if it’s alright.” Joanne said. She sounded tired, more than frightened. For somebody who had never even been in an MRI before, she was handling it pretty well.
Cameron showed Gavin quickly how to use the microphone, and soon, Gavin was speaking.
“Hey Joanne. It’s me.”
There was a short silence, and then a relieved, “Hi, Gavin.”
“You’re not supposed to fall asleep,” Gavin said, obviously a little worried.
“I’m not that tired. I can stay awake for a while.”
Gavin smiled, and Chase watched, still quite suspicious of the boy, as he said, “Alright, good.” A serene sort of look passed over the boy’s face.
“Alright, we had probably better get it started now,” Chase said, a little irately. Cameron immediately shot Chase an annoyed look, but Gavin just nodded and stood back a little.
As the MRI started up, before any of the first images could come in, Chase allowed his thoughts to float away a little. This would have been a nice moment for a crossword puzzle, to keep his mind off of where it should not be. However, he had nothing but his own devices with which to entertain himself, and little kept him from thinking about Joanne.
She captivated him. Alright, as much as he hated to admit that House was right, he might have had a little thing for her. It disgusted him as well, but what could he do about it? She was beautiful, and the few conversations they had held, she had always seemed kind. And that Gavin boy was just following after her, weepy and pathetic. Chase’s eyes narrowed slightly. He would have to ask Cameron later what a girl saw in a guy like Gavin.
Cameron elbowed him sharply when the screen started showing results. He quickly turned to the computer, and the two watched slowly as images swam to the surface.
After about ten minutes in silence, Cameron heaved a sigh.
“It looks clear,” she muttered.
Gavin was confused. “But that’s… good news, right?”
Cameron turned back to him, apparently having forgotten that he was there. “Oh, yes, that’s very good news. It’s just that now… we’re back to not knowing what she has.”
A little torn, Gavin just nodded. Chase had to give the boy plenty of points for looking worried.
“I’ll go get her,” Chase said darkly, moodily, and he left the equipment room to pull Joanne from the MRI.
“Is he always this grumpy?” Gavin asked, eyebrows going up a few inches. Cameron watched the younger boy, and she knew she recognized that very expression, but she could not place from where.
“No. He’s just been a little stressed out recently,” she lied easily for Gavin. The fact that Chase did not like Gavin was a little bit obvious. The reason was a little more obscured. Of course, Australians could hold contempt for the British, just as Canadians did not always get along with Americans. However, Chase did seem to get along fine enough with Joanne. This only supported House’s crazy theory that Chase had some sort of ridiculous crush on Joanne, but Cameron did not dwell on that very long. Chase had usually been able to keep his personal life well enough away from his professional life—the one true time he had not, he had more than learned his lesson for it. Cameron just hoped that he really had been just a little stressed out lately. It would make things far easier on her, at least.
Joanne was back in her room and resting a little with Gavin at her side by the time House, followed by an amused Wilson, followed by a group of confused looking strangers, followed by an annoyed Foreman, stormed into the room.
Cameron had been collecting a urine sample, which she almost dropped when she saw the entire entourage. Chase, who had been leaning moodily in the corner, jumped and stood rigidly, as though afraid that this were some army sent in to attack him. When he saw Wilson and Foreman, though, he seemed to calm down a little.
Joanne’s eyes opened a little, and she smiled at House. “Hello, Doctor Hou—”
Then, however, her voice trailed off, and her eyes opened a little more, to see who was behind her doctor. Gavin’s face brightened, as well, as if a cloud had just moved from blocking the sun in his eyes.
“Nathan!” Gavin yelled, and he bounded to his feet, bringing the younger of the two men House had brought with him into his arms and patting him roughly on the back. Nathan returned the gesture. In the meantime, Simon and the two girls swept to Joanne’s bedside.
“Natalie! Simon! Tara…” Joanne said concernedly. “What’s the matter with your neck?”
Tara shrugged. “Apparently I got into something called poison oak or something. But what about you? What’s wrong here?”
Joanne smiled. “If we knew, then House wouldn’t be my doctor. He’s the one who diagnoses the patients with special cases.”
Tara looked uncertainly over at House, and then turned back and frowned. “Oh.” She did not expand, but Joanne thought that, more or less, she knew what her friend meant.
“So, how do you two know each other?” Wilson asked Gavin and Nathan. They looked up at him and grinned.
“We go to school together. Doctor Wilson,” Gavin said, grin growing yet more, “this is my best mate, Nathan Porter.” It was an act of courtesy, then, that Nathan stuck out his hand. Wilson shook it quickly and nodded, with a smile, to the two younger boys, who immediately launched into a conversation about their vacations so far, and went more or less unnoticed for quite some time.
“This feels like Thanksgiving,” said House, smiling and wiping a fake tear from his eye. He got funny looks from the Brits congregated around the bed. “It almost makes me want to sing a rousing chorus of ‘God Save the Queen.’ Oh, but there’s no time for that. I believe introductions are all in order. We already know you,” House said, flapping his hand at Simon. “But who are you two?”
“I’m Tara Elliott,” Tara said with a smile.
The other girl was a little less smiley than all of the others in the room. “I’m Natalie Hugger,” she said, a little terse. It was obvious that she was worried—she had that same stressed appearance on her face as Gavin had before. However, she did look glad, to some extent, to be where she was now, and with whom she was with now. “We went on the same general vacation as Gavin and Joanne did, except a few days later. We didn’t know that they had come to this town… much less this hospital.”
House nodded, but he was not really listening. His team and Wilson were just sort of staring at him, through all of the gladly reunited British folks (Natalie had turned back to Joanne, and was now not paying any attention to the fact that the doctors were now not paying any attention to herself and the rest of them at all). Chase’s stare was more of a glare, as was Foreman’s, but, considering these two, that result was only to be expected. Cameron seemed to just be shaking her head slowly, as if to convince herself that House would not do something this offbeat, this ridiculous. True, it was against protocol to bring in so many non-family members at once (which was like House, though, to not follow protocol), but it was also a remarkably kind thing of him to do, and she just knew that he must have had some sort of hidden agenda. Wilson was just smirking that amused little smirk of his, that meant he had more or less washed his hands of the situation, and was now just waiting to see how events unfolded in House’s grasp. House found his gaze lingering in Wilson’s for a few seconds, and a flicker of silent laughter passed between them, just like how things used to be.
“Well, Cameron, Foreman, run those urine tests through the lab, will you? Don’t just stand there and let it ferment.” House relished in the glares this merited him from all three members of his team. Chase apparently had wanted to leave. House smiled evilly and decided to think about this one a little later.
Cameron and Foreman, however, filed out of the room.
“It’s getting a little crowded and excited in here,” House said. “Maybe Wilson and I had better step outside. Chase, you make sure that Joanne doesn’t seize or faint from the hullabaloo, alright?”
House almost cackled with glee to see the royal glare he received, but other than this, Chase did not make any objection. Wilson followed House slowly out of the room, shutting the door to the noise behind them.
“Maybe you shouldn’t wind him up quite like that,” Wilson mused aloud. He knew that one of these days, Chase would be mad enough to actually want to retaliate. Tritter had given him the means before, and planted the idea in the young doctor’s brain. But Wilson had taken the decision out of Chase’s hands (only to his own detriment, of course). For the most part, now, things were back to normal so far as House and his team were concerned. Chase respected and even looked up to House, as he had learned to do before. It was much easier, putting up with House’s crap, when you were constantly thinking about what a good doctor he was. But, sometimes, when House went just a little too far, it was obvious that Chase had half a mind to throw a punch at him.
“Come on, honey, he’ll never grow up big and strong without a little trouble,” House said, sitting himself down as gently as he could on the bench that sat outside of the hospital room. Wilson did not wait for the glance that meant an invitation—instead, he just sat down next to the other man. House shot him a quick, half surprised look, but said nothing.
“Ah, but he’s not the little boy he used to be,” Wilson said, covering up his only half-joking statement with an over the top sigh.
“Too true, too true,” House sighed as well, but Wilson could tell that House got the hidden meaning behind the statement. They had always had a sublevel sort of communication, which nobody else could really catch. It was how they conveyed the big thoughts, the big messages—without actually having to say them, because neither was really good with that sort of thing. It worked for them. Wilson had rather missed it in the months and months since he and House had been able to really talk together like this.
They sat like that, in semi-content silence together. It almost felt like things were normal even for the two of them again, although there seemed to be some sort of Berlin Wall blocking communication between them that had never been there before. Wilson wondered if House would ever truly forgive him, unbeknownst that, at that moment, deep down, House was wondering the same thing.
Until, that is, a muffled scream and a sudden flutter of noises from the other room wiped nearly all of these thoughts from their minds, and they both stood immediately and raced into the patient’s room.
The visitors were standing back away from the bed, except for Gavin, who seemed to be intent on rushing to Joanne’s side. Instead of attending to the patient, Chase was forcing Gavin to step away.
Joanne had begun seizing again, and her monitor said that her pulse was rising dramatically. House opened the drawer, having to elbow around one of the young girls to do so. He was readying a syringe, but then his attention was drawn abruptly elsewhere.
Slowly, very slowly—the bed lifted half an inch of the ground.
House, Chase, and Wilson just stared at it until it set back down on the floor once more. It was then that Joanne’s heart rate slowly dropped back to normal, one number at a time, and then that her breathing evened out and her seizing stopped. The syringe House had filled was dropped and forgotten in the drawer.
She appeared to be unconscious. He walked over to her and poked her with a needle from the drawer, to check her reflexes. She twitched.
“What happened to her?” House demanded, rounding on Chase.
Chase looked frightened, almost, and more than a little annoyed. “I don’t know! One second, she was hugging her brother, the next, she was seizing like that.” He was shaking just a little, although whether out of fear or anger, House did not dare discern.
House turned to look at Simon, who confirmed the story with a nod. The look of surprised horror in all of their faces was easy enough to diagnose. They had all become huge, worried family weirdos. Great, House thought with a sigh, suddenly feeling that maybe he should not have told the group that Joanne was in the hospital.
However, the, his mind was drawn away from this by an unexpected chain of events.
“Oh my God!” Gavin yelled, drawing all attentions to him. He was pointing at the floor in the corner. “Nathan!” He was still being held back, so he could not go over there, but they all saw the body lying face down on the floor. Wilson did walk over, and lift the boy’s head up.
Surely enough, it was the British boy who had claimed himself to be Gavin’s “best mate,” with a huge, blackening bruise on his forehead which seemed to claim without words that he had fainted when all of the attention had been on Joanne.
*c *o *m *m *e *r *c *i *a *l * *b *r *e *a *k