Chapter Three: In Sickness
"You think I'm sick?" Foreman demanded, again, hardly believing his ears.
"Isn't that what I just said?" House asked.
"Maybe I've just grown bored of your antics," Foreman fired back.
"Well, I haven't," a new voice spoke up, before House could retaliate.
They turned to see Cuddy standing in the doorway to the morgue, her arms crossed over her chest and a scowl firmly fixed on her face.
"And I can't wait to hear the backwards logic you used to rationalize shooting a corpse," she added.
"Well, if I shot a live person, there'd be a lot more paperwork," House replied.
"Then you won't mind standing next to this poor guy's casket at the wake, explaining to the family why a cancer patient has a bullet hole in his head?" Cuddy asked.
"He donated his body to science," House defended himself. "If I hadn't shot him, he'd have spent the next five years as a carpool dummy for first year medical students."
"We're all set, here," Chase interrupted, from where he and Foreman had finished positioning the corpse in the MRI machine.
"House, do not turn that on," Cuddy said, warningly.
"You're just mad that I put a bullet in his head," House told her. "The worst I'm doing now is taking it out."
He flipped the power switch for the MRI. For a moment, it emitted its normal humming noise, indicating that all was going well. Then, just as House was turning to Cuddy with a triumphant smile on his face, the machine made a terrible screeching noise and the body inside jerked upward.
The lights in the room flickered on and off as a violent spray of blood coated the inside of the machine. There was a small plinking sound as the bullet fragments that had been briefly attached to the MRI fell, no longer under the machine's magnetic attraction. House's smug expression turned to one of sheepish guilt.
Wilson couldn't believe his ears. He'd just run into a practically terrified morgue tech who claimed to have witnessed House shooting a corpse. And then a radiology tech who informed him that House's team had put the corpse into the MRI--and subsequently broke it.
Although, the more he thought about it, the less bizarre it seemed. This was House, after all.
His secretary's sharp voice intruded upon his thoughts, and he turned to face her.
"Yes, Marilyn?" he asked, bringing himself back to the here and now.
"Connor Scott is here for his consultation," she informed him. "He's waiting in your office."
Connor Scott. One of his patients that he would never forget, not that any of them ever went completely away.
Barely nineteen years old, the young man had been diagnosed five years ago with a brain tumor. He'd been in and out of the hospital at least once a week for various treatments, none of which had any lasting effect on the tumor.
Now, Connor had finally consented to surgery to try and remove the tumor. The only problem with his decision was that it was too late. The tumor had, despite all their best efforts, grown so large as to be inoperable. Connor was going to die when he most wanted to live.
'The ultimate irony,' Wilson thought, smirking.
Then, he schooled his rebellious features into a somber mask as he entered his office.
House sat in front of Cuddy's desk, idly tapping his cane on the floor. Foreman and Cameron stood on either side of him, the former smirking, the latter twisting her hands, nervously. Cuddy sat behind her desk, glaring at all three of them.
Seconds passed, feeling like hours, as the tension in the room continued to build. Cuddy's expression kept getting darker and darker, like she wanted to do something very painful to House.
Finally, just when it looked as though Cuddy would leap up and wrap her hands around House's neck, Chase poked his head through the open door.
"Maintenance has to, um, shut down the magnet in order to fix it," he reported. "The MRI's going to be out of commission for at least two weeks."
Cuddy stared at him in disbelief for a long moment before dropping her face into her hands. Everyone stared at her, jumping slightly when she suddenly pointed in the direction of her office door.
"Out," she commanded, her voice muffled. "Out, before I have to be arrested for mass homicide."
Taking the reprieve they'd been offered, House and his team left the room quickly, before she had time to change her mind. House set off toward his office, the other doctors trailing along behind him.
"It doesn't matter, anyway," House told them, as they walked. "We obviously can't use it on our guy."
"There are other doctors in the hospital!" Chase protested.
"And other patients," Cameron added.
"That certainly helps explain how they can afford all that fancy equipment," House replied. "I'm sure not pulling my weight."
"Is doing nothing an option?" Foreman asked. As the others glared at him, he added, "Maybe the clot will break up on its own. The giddiness seems to have gone away, unaided."
"The blindness hasn't," Chase reminded him.
"Echo his heart," House ordered.
"Looking for what?" Cameron demanded. "The problem's obviously neurological, not cardiovascular."
"The clots are in his brain," House explained. "The source of the clots may not be. Do a complete transthoracic cardiogram; maybe we'll be lucky and nail this down."
Arriving at his office, he went inside, leaving the others to continue on to Joe's room.
They hooked Joe up to the monitors and performed the test.
"Heart's clean," Chase reported.
"Where else could we look?" Cameron asked.
"We could ultrasound his legs, look for a DVT," Foreman suggested.
"What happened to doing nothing?" Cameron asked him.
"I'm just doing my job," Foreman told her.
"Move over, then," Chase told them. "I need room for the ultrasound."
The other two obliged, and he went to remove the echocardiogram sensors from Joe's chest. But, as soon as Chase touched him, Joe started to seize.
"Tachycardia!" Chase called out, "heart rate's one-fifty and rising."
"Get the saline wide open!" Foreman snapped at him, as Chase reached for the IV bags.
"He's bleeding out!" Cameron said, as copious amounts of blood started to gush from their patient's face.
"House wanted to thin his blood, he sure did a good job," Foreman muttered, under his breath.
"His blood pressure's crashing," Cameron reported. "He's going into shock."
"There's intracranial bleeding," Chase added. "We have to relieve the pressure."
In response, Foreman picked up the wall phone and punched in a few numbers.
"This is Dr. Eric Foreman," he snapped, when someone answered. "We need a neurosurgical team and an OR, stat."
Hanging up after hearing the reply on the other end, he turned to his colleagues.
"Someone needs to page House," he told them.
Wilson broke off, suddenly overcome by the urge to burst out laughing. He took a deep breath, schooling his face into a proper expression, before turning back to Conner.
"As I was saying, you can go into hospice care, or we can make you comfortable here-"
His speech was interrupted once again, only this time, several giggles escaped his lips.
"Is something wrong, Dr. Wilson?" Conner asked, worriedly.
"No, no, I'm fine," Wilson hastened to assure him. "Now, we can-"
He'd barely gotten the words out before the dam broke. His self-control snapped, and he burst out laughing. Conner stared at him, absolutely horrified.
"This is just a joke to you?" he asked, rising from his chair, tears glinting in his eyes. "I'm dying and you're laughing about it?"
"No, no, Conner-"
Wilson tried to stand, to reassure the young man, but his body wouldn't cooperate. He collapsed back in his chair, shaking with laughter. Horrified, Conner fled the room, tears streaming down his face.
Feeling no small amount of horror, himself, Wilson fumbled for his pager, managing to press nine-one-one before his shaking hands forced him to drop it. Then, he sat back and waited, helplessly giving in to the laughter that overwhelmed him.
A few minutes later, House burst into his office, and stared at him in confusion and no small amount of irritation.
"Wilson, I've got a patient bleeding to death. What the hell-"
"I'm in trouble, House," Wilson interrupted him, forcing the words out between bursts of laughter. "I think I'm sick."