This is a plot bunny that wouldn't leave me alone after seeing the season finale. So much left unexplained… what did happen "in the real world" between House getting shot and arriving in the ER? What happened to the gunman? Did he leave? Did someone have to tackle him and get the gun away? How did House get onto a gurney? Who called for the EMT? What was going through the duckling's minds as they watched House get shot? So many questions!
So this is my attempt to answer them. My little imagining of what went on in the real world while House was hallucinating.
I have pretty much zero medical knowledge so bear with me – all horrendous mistakes entirely my own!
Please do read and review – and if you notice I've got something wrong medically, by all means let me know :)
Cameron stood, frozen with shock, and watched the stranger calmly level his gun at a defenceless House. Foreman and Chase, halted in their instinctive forward motion by the gunman's angry warning, the gun pointed at them giving emphasis to his admonition to stay away, were equally helpless to intervene. All three of them stood and watched as the gunman turned his attention to the man lying sprawled on the floor his feet, House's breathing shallow as shock set in, his gaze fixed bemusedly on the face of his attacker. Though every fibre in her being wanted to do something, wanted to stop this, she could do nothing but watch, her heart pounding in her chest, as the stranger calmly and deliberately pulled the trigger for a second time.
Events seemed to move in slow motion as a spray of blood erupted from the side of House's neck, his bright, blue eyes sliding closed even as his body jerked under the impact. All muscle tension left House's body, his arms dropping limply to the floor as blood began to swiftly pool on the carpet. The gunman simply watched for a moment, his face showing no emotion, and then just turned on his heel and left. Just walked back out the door and away down the corridor.
After that, everything was chaos.
There was a brief moment – a split second – of stunned silence and then everyone was moving at once, the three of them rushing to House's side. Later on, when she had chance to stop and think, Cameron would be proud of how well they functioned as a team – the team House had forged them into. Chase, the trained intensivist, had snagged a box of latex gloves from the shelves and was throwing the box at Cameron even as he dropped to his knees beside House, snapping on his own gloves as he did so. He had his hand pressed to House's bloody neck by the time Cameron was gloved and moving to assist. Foreman, immediately assessing the situation and realising there was no room for three people, raced past the frantic huddle beside the whiteboard and grabbed the phone from the corner desk.
House lay crumpled on the floor at the foot of the shelving units, where the force of the first shot had thrown him backwards, his legs giving way beneath him. Cameron's hand were shaking as she carefully lifted his shirt to reveal the neat entry wound in his abdomen, shock and disbelief making her heart pound. She struggled for clinical detachment, pushing aside emotion, trying to switch off from personal involvement. In the background, she was vaguely aware of Foreman's voice, sharp with urgency, telling someone to get a gurney up here, now.
"He's bleeding out – we need to put pressure on these wounds!" Chase's face was a mask of concentration as he bent over House's limp body. Cameron looked up desperately to see the connecting door to House's office swinging shut behind Foreman. He returned a bare moment later, ripping open the first aid kit that House kept in his office, spilling the contents across the floor as he pulled out rolls of bandages and handed them to Cameron.
The neck wound was of the most immediate concern, blood pulsing out through Chase fingers to pool on the floor, and Cameron reached across to press a wad of bandages against House's neck, Chase pulling his hands away as she did, giving her room to push down hard, putting pressure on the compromised blood vessels. She knelt on the floor beside her boss, trying to staunch the flow of blood from the wound in his neck, as Chase moved around her to press a second dressing to the gunshot wound in House's abdomen.
"Where the hell is that gurney?" Foreman fretted as his colleagues worked desperately to keep House alive.
The minutes seemed to stretch into hours as Cameron pressed the bloody dressing to House's neck and watched the blood slowly pool on the office carpet beneath him. He was so utterly still. Frighteningly so. House was by nature impatient, inquisitive, restless. He always seemed to be in constant motion, always doing something; pacing the corridors, playing his Gameboy, fiddling with some toy from his desk, twirling his cane. She'd never seen him so completely still and silent; his crumpled body limp and relaxed, his face pale.
She looked up at the sound of feet running in the corridor and, through the glass walls of the diagnostics lounge, saw an EMT rush into view, dragging a gurney alongside him. The man's face was a blur of shock as he absorbed the reality of the scene before him – one of the hospital's own doctors, lying bleeding on the floor, attacked and shot in his own office. Foreman was there to open the door and, between them, he and the EMT manoeuvred the gurney into the room.
Moving House was an odd combination of caution and urgency – they needed to get him to the ER as soon as possible, but moving him carried the associated danger of aggravating his injuries and they still needed to keep pressure on the wounds to try and control the bleeding. The EMT was quick and efficient in his work, collapsing the gurney down to the floor next to House and taking charge of the transfer. The lifted him between them in a single, coordinated movement, Foreman lifting House's shoulders, as Cameron kept pressure on the neck wound and supported his head, and the EMT taking his legs, Chase helping out with one hand under House's back, the other still holding the dressing to his abdomen.
The scene was one of controlled chaos, the urgency thick in the air as they shared information and instructions across their unconscious patient, coordinating their efforts as the EMT settled House carefully onto the gurney, gently lifting his dangling arms and tightening a strap to hold them in place across his body. They moved as a cohesive unit as the EMT raised the gurney up and locked the legs in place, Foreman holding the door open as they rolled out into the corridor, Chase striding alongside the gurney with his hand pressed to the abdominal wound, Cameron and the EMT sharing the jobs of pushing the gurney whilst keeping the sodden, red-stained dressing held tight against House's neck. Foreman ran past them to call the lift.
Four floors down. It was four floors down from the 4th floor to the ground floor ER.
It was the longest lift ride of Cameron's life. House was still and silent on the gurney, his eyes closed, his breathing shallow. Sweat beaded his pale face. The fingers of her latex gloves were smeared with blood. House's blood. Her arm was starting to ache from keeping the dressing pressed against his neck. Blood had soaked right through the fabric now and it was a sodden, bright red mass. She looked around her as they descended – one floor, two floors, three floors - and saw shock and tension on the faces of her colleagues. For a moment her detachment failed her and she had to struggle to draw in a deep breath as a sense of utter disbelief washed over her. How could this have happened?
Four floors down. The lift chimed softly as it reached the ground floor and the doors slowly – far too slowly – opened. Focus, Cameron. She pushed the emotion down, focused on being the doctor House had hired, the doctor he'd believed – for whatever reason – was worthy of one of his sought-after fellowships. Four floors down from where House was shot, they hurried the gurney out of the lift and down the corridor that lead to the ER.