If anyone can think of a title, let me know.
I don't own House
I never will
So don't get uptight
Just relax and chill
HOUSE, M.D.: Untitled
A violent sneeze brought him out of a sound sleep and made him sit up, twanging the muscle in his right leg.
House lay back but sat up again as he sneezed again. Oh, Hell. His yearly hay fever was here and House knew it would be at least a week before he recovered. Well, wasn't this a great start to a day?
House got up and took two vicodin to not only help the leg pain, but also quiet the pounding in his sinuses. He went into the bathroom and rummaged around for the Benadryl he always kept around for this time of year. He took 1000mg and after checking the clock on the night stand—7:30am—he decided to just go to the hospital. Besides, maybe he'd feel better once he got moving.
The sneezing thankfully desisted once House got into the corvette and put on his favorite Rolling Stones CD. He put the car in drive and pulled away from the apartment building.
Once at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, House slipped past the admit desk unnoticed—a miracle—and headed upstairs to his office. Once inside the glass office, House grabbed a box of tissues from his desk before heading to his favorite chair and stretching out. Maybe it was just allergies from the dust in his apartment. A nap would make him feel better…
Allison Cameron saw her boss asleep in his office and took stock of the tissues nearby. House was actually sick. But still, here he was. Cameron grabbed a notepad and scribbled a note to Foreman and Chase that she had been in and made coffee and she'd be back shortly.
Once at the store, Cameron scoured the shelves looking for what she wanted. Finally she saw it: Homeland Brews Black Walnut and Ginger tea. It was Cameron's cure-all for allergies and colds; it even helped settle her stomach when she had the flu. After making her purchase along with a bottle of honey, she hurried back to the hospital.
It was pointless, House decided after he failed to nap due to lack of breathing. He gathered up his things and said a hurried excuse to Chase and Foreman before limping out of the office and to the elevator where the sneezing promptly started up again.
When House left the elevator, he started heading for the parking lot, but heard Wilson's voice. 'No, I'm not doing anything. I am leaving to go home and drown in my mucus.' "House! Need you."
House shook his head. "Huh-uh, forget it. I'm going home."
Wilson watched House for a second. "Hay fever?"
For the look on House's face, Wilson might have said 'Oh, you have a bad leg?'. "Boy, you must be a doctor and everything."
Wilson held up the file. "Two minutes." House was miserable, and Wilson knew that he was determined to go home. Which made Wilson even more determined to get House's focus.
House however, was single-minded. He wanted out of here. "No, the purple thingy on the file means that 'whoever' is one of yours, which means cancer, which means no way is it two minutes."
"Fine," Wilson said, annoyance in his voice. This was worse than when House was off the vicodin for a week. "I'm lying. 30 minutes."
House felt a sneeze coming on. 'Wilson,' House thought as his nose twitched. 'If you don't get out of my way I'm going to sneeze on you.' But the sneeze aborted itself. House paused for a moment in case it was a fluke. "Mystery of life."
"Benadryl might help," Wilson said, his annoyance easing up. House was at the mercy of his allergies and wasn't in control of his behavior.
"I already did. 1000mg." 'Not that it helped for very long', House thought, as he sneezed again.
"Steam room?" Wilson suggested, remembering last time when he'd joined House because both of them were incapacitated by head colds. Of course that event had over-generated the gay jokes about the two.
"Why Jimmy!" House said, sounding worse than ever. "We'll talk about this in the morning." 'If I'm even here,' House thought. 'Maybe I'll suffocate on my own phlegm. I'm sure that would kill some bets on the manner of my demise.'
"I've got a 9-year-old with cancer. Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. Terminal kid trumps your stuffy nose," Wilson said hoping he could get to the interesting facts before House left. That was always the key. Get to the puzzle, and the rest would be a piece of cake.
"Not yet," House replied. Not only was the patient sick with cancer, but it was a kid. Meaning that what ever was ultimately wrong was bad.
Wilson decided that it was time to use the magic word. "She's hallucinating."
House sighed. Great. Another unimportant thing. "So the Rhabdo's in her brain. Make her comfortable she's got about a week."
As he turned to leave the hospital, Wilson dropped the final bombshell. "Yeah except there is no cancer in her brain," Wilson said, watching House stiffen and then turn. 'Time to deliver the final punch.' "Pristine CT scan, blood tests, protein markers all negative."
Now House was interested. "Cancer's in remission?" He studied Wilson for a second to see if it was a trick. "Which means the hallucinations are unconnected." 'Which means the kind of puzzle I live for.'
"Fascinating, huh?" Wilson asked, a glimmer on his face. He knew House couldn't pass up a case like this. "And not that it matters but if you fix whatever's going on in her head you give her maybe another year. Long time for a nine year old."
House took the file at last and started perusing the contents. "No," He said, looking at the medical history of this little girl. "It'll just fly by."
Cameron had seen House looking more miserable than usual when he dropped off the patient's file. While she, Foreman, and Chase started the differential diagnosis, Cameron started making House a mug of the tea she'd bought earlier. She kept part of her brain on the patient, but most of her thoughts were taken up with House. She didn't really love him anymore, but that didn't mean that she didn't care about him. Commenting on the girl, Andie's, history, she handed the mug of tea to House who gave her a very faint look of gratitude.
Once House had settled on a path to start off on, Chase and Foreman started to head out. Cameron, though, was collecting her stuff when House said, "What the hell is this?"
Cameron looked around and said, "Black walnut and ginger."
House made a show of liking it. "It's nice."
Cameron smirked. "Add some sugar and creamer to it. Softens the flavor. Though if we have it, honey's better."
House gave her a doubtful look, but opened the cabinet and found a small bottle of honey on the shelf. "I see you've been shopping."
"It works for my colds. Thought maybe it would help…" Cameron said, turning back to her things.
House added honey and stirred the tea before taking a hesitant sip. "That is better. Thanks," he said before heading back to his office. Cameron just smiled and headed out of the room.
When House was finally able to get to his apartment, he found a basket outside his door loaded with various containers of homemade soups along with Vitamin C, Echinacea, and English breakfast tea. Ahhh, the work of his next-door neighbors. House usually didn't care about the people who lived around him, but this particular family, well… The two parents had one child, a baby girl who was constantly fussy. The first night they'd lived in the building, the baby had been crying and House had started playing his piano to muffle the racket. After a few nights, however, the baby had settled, but the parents had quickly discovered that House's piano playing was the only thing to soothe the upset child. Since then, House's neighbors, the Fairbanks, were prone to dropping the random gift baskets off at his door whenever whimsy struck.
House unlocked the door and took everything inside before turning on his CD player. Jazz seemed like a good order of business, and House had a signed CD from John Henry Giles that would be great. After the music floated through the apartment, House took stock of the soups in the basket. Mushroom, chicken noodle, tomato… House took out a container of tomato and cracked the lid to put it in the microwave.
Once piping hot, House sat down at the table to eat. The soup was warm, delicious, with enough spice to start breaking through the mucus clogging his head. Once the soup was finished, House decided to take a steaming hot shower before going to bed.
Of course, once he lay down, House's drainage started up again. Well, he'd have to stay up until he physically had no choice but to sleep… Welcome to Hell. Tissues to your left, drugs on the night stand to the right…
The next morning was just as bad as the first. Still, House got up, dressed, and drugged up on vicodin and Benadryl before going down to his Corvette. God, he loved this car. There was nothing better than driving down the road with the top down. "ACHOO!" Well, maybe one thing. Breathing was nice…
Stopping at the local bakery, House got his usual coffee with an extra shot of espresso and got half a dozen bagels as well. "Sound pretty bad, Doc," said Flora, the cashier. She'd started working at the shop not long after Dr. House had started coming in. "Allergies?"
"Hay fever," House said as he dug out the money for the bagels and coffee. After paying, Flora grinned and handed him his change.
"Well, feel better."
"Thanks," House muttered as he headed out and made his way to the hospital.
"Bagels," House said as he unceremoniously dropped the bag on the table in the diagnostics room, making Cameron jump a bit.
Foreman looked at the clock, then at House. "You didn't sleep in."
"Didn't sleep… Didn't breathe," House replied. "I'm dying."
Chase didn't look directly at House as he gave the update from the angio. "Pulmonary angiogram of Andie's lungs was clean. Arterial blood gasses and a CT scan were also normal. Her heart and lungs are fine," he said, determinedly avoiding the other man's gaze. House had a tendency to pick up on personal discretions and Chase didn't want it getting out that he'd kissed Andie, even if it was only fulfilling a dying girl's dearest wish.
Thankfully, House was oblivious. "Which gives us no explanation for the diminished sat percentage."
Foreman leaned back in his chair, hands laced behind his neck as he said, "Yeah, Oddly enough, sometimes normal is normal."
But House was too smart to use the excuse. Hallucinations, the cancer… it was all connected. The question was how. "Sometime we can't see why normal isn't normal. Get her symptoms on the board."
"Whoa," Cameron said, her eyes widening. "You're letting me touch the markers?" she asked, her words laced with just the right amount of sarcasm.
"It's written down in my advanced health care directive," House explained, feeling only slightly better than before. "Should I be incapacitated in any way you run the board… then Foreman." Looking at Chase, House's 6th sense started tingling. Something was wrong with dear Aussie. But what? "Chase you're just not ready yet. What else?"
Foreman looked pensive for a moment as he said, "Guys, I know we ruled out infection but if we forget the labs for a minute, there is one infection we didn't test for because of her age. Neurosyphilis."
Cameron seemed to consider the idea for a brief moment, but Chase knew better. No girl that innocent about a kiss could have ever had sex, whether consensual or not. "There's no way," Chase said, at once, unknowingly making House's secrecy radar ping again.
Foreman, however, wasn't looking at the personal aspects of his theory, instead focusing on how the diagnosis fit the differential. "If the infection dipped into her cerebral cortex all peripheral functions could be compromised."
"She hasn't had sex," Chase insisted. "She's nine."
"Maybe it wasn't her idea," Foreman persisted, and Cameron's face went from thoughtful to disgusted making Chase's skin crawl as he again thought about what he'd done the night before. "I mean she's been around a lot of adults; all the hospital visits and the counselors at the cancer camps…"
"You think she's been molested?" Cameron asked, sickened at the thought. How could Foreman even entertain such a ludicrous notion?
"She's hiding it pretty well if there's any of that going on," Chase said, scoffing, making House take more notice as he went to get a mug of the black walnut and ginger tea Cameron had given him the other day. She had been right. It did help.
House usually didn't pay much attention when any member of his team claimed to 'know' something, but in Chase's case, there was a big difference. Chase knew Andie had never had sex. Knew intimately… "Yeah, all girls who've been molested want to talk about it. Break out the rape kit," House ordered, gauging Chase's reaction.
"She hasn't had sex," Chase insisted again, his voice just shy of yelling.
"Why are you so sure?" House asked, evenly.
Chase tried to keep his tone even and calm as he replied, "She told me she'd never kissed a boy."
"You read her diary, too?" House asked, still watching Chase.
"She asked me to… kiss her," Chase said, his tone light, like it was something to laugh at. Cameron's expression was one of mock-disbelief and Foreman just shook his head.
"I rest my case," House said, still picking up on some deceit from Chase. "A regular nine year old girl does not have sex on the brain, not when a doctor is threading a catheter through her vein."
Chase couldn't believe this. How the HELL could House think Andie's been molested? "She's not a regular nine year old. She's got terminal cancer."
"Cancer doesn't make you special," House insisted. "Molestation on the other hand…" Why was this subject making Chase so twitchy? It wasn't someone he knew… was it?
"She wanted one kiss before she dies," Chase repeated, trying to make it sound like it wasn't a weird request. "If she's never kissed a boy it's a fair bet she's never had sex." House knew, Chase decided. House knew about the kiss and he was just stringing him along.
"Tell that to all the hookers who won't kiss me on the mouth," House said, looking up at Cameron who looked grossed out at kissing a phlegmy House on the lips. "Hey, here's a theory, she has been molested, seeks refuge in romantic fantasies with older men with great hair," House said, looking pointedly at Chase. "And I think you left out the punch line." 'Here it comes,' Chase thought. 'House is going to spill right here in the office.' "Victims of molestation learn to work the angles. Manipulate people." A smile as Chase kept squirming. That was it. Oh, boy. "You did it didn't you? You kissed her." Cameron's head whipped around, her eyes wide as she stared at Chase.
"I-It wasn't sick," Chase said, trying to explain. Cameron clapped her hands to her mouth and the only thing Foreman could think about at that moment was how many times they'd be sued for this. "It was one kiss for a dying girl. One small… one small kiss before she dies. Thank you. Thanks." Chase couldn't believe this. This was brilliant. How could House do this to him? He couldn't still be pissed off about the whole Vogler mess, could he?
"This is exactly why you can't touch my markers," House said, smiling sadistically. Motioning to Cameron, he said, "Go see if she's had sex."
"Okay," Cameron replied, her hands still at her mouth.
All Chase could do was glare at House.
Two days later, another puzzle piece fell. A tumor in Andie's heart which had thrown a clot causing mini-seizures, the hallucinations and a bleed in the little girl's eye. House was getting desperate and he needed to find the clot before it killed the kid. An autopsy would reveal the clot, but the only way to do that in someone living would be to induce hypothermic cardiac arrest, siphon off two liters of blood once Andie was on bypass, and then perfuse the brain while she was in an MRI… Wait… House thought as he sat at his piano, playing a random tune. Since when did he call a patient by her name? Sounds of girls giggling next door answered that. Since little Annie Fairbanks turned 9 last month. Annie… Andie…
House grabbed his cane and started pacing. He was involved. And he hated being involved with kids.
He hated losing patients… but losing kids actually hurt.
It was the only way.
The one answer.
The next morning, House got to the hospital at 6:45 and went straight to the operating room to get ready for the dry runs. Once he was in scrubs, he grabbed his frozen fruit smoothie from his favorite juice bar, he sat for a few minutes, focusing his energies.
This procedure would not only be the thing to save a 9-year-old girl, but if it failed, it would probably kill his medical career. Never before had so much been at stake.
"House," said Chase as he entered the locker room. "We're almost ready to start the practice run."
"Thanks," House replied looking up. "And I'm sorry. I know you wouldn't have done anything to Andie."
Chase didn't reply, but just nodded and waited for House to follow him out. It was make or break time.
48 hours later, House found himself leaning against the nurses' desk in the lobby, watching everyone say their good-byes to Andie. She smiled as Chase gave her the vouchers for the natural history museum's new butterfly exhibit and gave him a kiss as she hugged him.
House said nothing as Andie came towards him, a smile on her face and her heart at peace. When there were about a foot apart, he said, "I'm not gonna kiss you no matter what you say." Then she hugged him. It was the strangest thing, he felt he should push her away. But only to protect his image. Deep down, House wanted to hug this little girl. To protect her from all the pain she would have in the not too distant future. He would never make Andie better. Getting the clot was a temporary fix.
He wanted to watch her grow up, have friends… a boyfriend…
He wanted this girl to be the one he could save from everything. But she wasn't.
When Andie pulled away, she smiled at House. That innocent smile that seemed to say, 'I'll be okay. One way or another.' "It's sunny out. You should go for a walk."
House looked at his cane as he tapped it. Before his leg, he had liked walks. Late at night when the sounds of the world quieted away and he could think. "I'm not much for long walks in the park. Now get." The smile Andie left him with spoke volumes, though there were no words of good-bye. As House watched her and her mom leave, he realized that there were many things he was missing… things he'd forgot.
House wanted to live. He wanted to have some excitement. Something to hold on to…
Later that day, as he walked home, he stopped by a motorcycle lot, Elvis Costello's 'Beautiful' playing on his iPod. Stacy hated the things, thought they were dangerous and juvenile. The sales guy was trying to coax him into buying, but House just shook his head and started to walk away.
'She enjoys life more than you do.' Wilson's voice made House turn back around and ask, "Could I test drive one of these things?"
"Sure, man. No problem," the sales guy said, taking House's bag and cane and fetching the key. Once House was on it, he turned the engine on and felt it roar. Carefully, he pulled out of the lot and zipped down the street. After about 8 minutes, House pulled back into the lot and parked, easing his right leg off and taking his cane back. The sales guy studied House then said, "Hey, I know a buddy of mine just wrecked his bike. Bit scraped up, but it rides fine. He's selling it for 4,900."
House was tempted. Really tempted. He thought about Wilson, Andie… "Got his number handy?"
The guy quirked a grin and pulled out his cell phone. He dialed a number and after a moment said, "Hey, Bobby. I got a buyer for your bike. Sure, hang on." Lowering the phone, the sales guy asked, "Hey, what's your name, man?"
"Yeah, Bobby. Guy's name is Greg House. Sure. Okay. Thanks, man." Hanging up, the sales guy smiled. "2456 Ridgewood. You can pick it up today."
House held out his hand. "Thanks. Got a name?"
"Dan Taylor. Nice to meet ya. Hey, I know a guy about 4 blocks from here who does custom work on motorcycles. Could have him put in a holder for your cane."
"Thanks," House replied, heading off.
Today hadn't gone how he'd expected. It had been better. As House headed down the street, he made a promise to himself that he'd live for himself and for Andie. Life was too short anyway you wrote it.