A/N: Thanks for all the phenomenal reviews on the last chapter, kids. I owe replies to several of you; I'm dealing with a bit of personal difficulty right now, but I promise that once I get it under control again, I'll get caught up. Just know I really appreciate all of you. mjf

CHAPTER SEVEN: Outside Assistance

When Cuddy arrives at lunchtime with the IV pump Wilson's requested, the first thing she notices is Wilson's anger. He's making no attempt to hide it; his lips are drawn into a thin line, and his eyes are dark with silent fury.

"Here are your pills, House. And your lunch." Wilson virtually dumps a plate, a glass, and the medication on the coffee table and turns away. His movements are controlled, but it's easy to tell he'd like to punch something. Or someone. Cuddy follows him into the kitchen after a glance at House earns her nothing but a tight-lipped glare.

In the kitchen, Wilson is pacing, cleaning up the lunch preparations. He allows cutlery and a bowl to clatter loudly into the sink, then he turns to face Cuddy. "The more I think about what happened this morning, the angrier I get."

"I can tell. Of course, you have a right to be upset, but try to get a handle on it. You're allowing his behavior to get to you; don't give him that satisfaction. If you do, you're letting him win."

"This isn't a game, Cuddy. And it shouldn't be a fight, either, at least not with opposing teams. We're all on the same side here; the only thing we should be fighting is a decline in his health. And he should be leading the battle, not sabotaging it at every step!"

Cuddy pours Wilson a cup of coffee and hands it to him. "You're right, of course. But until we can figure out why he does what he does, I doubt we'll be able to change that."

Wilson sits down and drinks a few swallows of coffee. "I'm done trying to figure it out on my own. The rate he's going, he doesn't have that kind of time. I called Dr. Dickinson; he can see me this afternoon, 3:30."

Cuddy remembers that Dickinson is an old friend of Wilson's, and a respected psychologist. Wilson had first mentioned setting up an appointment with him after they'd started to fear, this past weekend, that House might be suicidal. Wilson had told her he was sure that, at the very least, House had a plan, and House himself had said a few things which appeared to confirm that suspicion.

"Are you free to keep the fuse doused on our loose cannon in there while I'm gone? Dickinson's in Pennsylvania; his office is just outside Lancaster, so I'll have to leave in an hour; takes close to two to get there, another two to get back, an hour for the appointment. Might be a while." He shakes his head and tries to appreciate the humor in having to leave the state to find a psychologist who doesn't have a preconceived notion of House.

"Of course. I'll call my office, rearrange a couple of things. And then I'll get my whip and chair ready for action."

Wilson laughs at the imagery. "I'm afraid he'd enjoy that," he says. "Since I'm currently not talking to him, I'm not gonna have to answer any questions. For right now, I don't want him to know what I'm doing, so when he asks, just tell him I've gone for an emergency consult on his, hmm… discipline issues, with Nanny 911." When Cuddy laughs, he says, "Hey, it's only a little lie. Hell, he'd make a good episode; a good season of episodes."

Cuddy's glad to see that Wilson's sense of humor is returning.

---

Wilson is actually enjoying the drive to Dr. Dickinson's office. Traffic is inexplicably light, he's got his favorite music playing, and he finds the mindless task of maneuvering down the highway soothing.

When he pulls up in front of the professional building, his earlier anger has dissipated, and he feels ready to begin taming the tiger. What is it about House that lends itself so well to wild animal imagery? He ponders this with genuine amusement.

As he walks into Dickinson's office and clasps hands with his old college roommate, he's wondering how best to explain the unique problem that is House. Wilson's afraid that if he just lays out all the facts, describes House's behavior, the first statement out of Dick's mouth will undoubtedly include the words 'straightjacket' and 'commitment.' Maybe even 'padded room,' he thinks wryly. "Hey, Dick, how've ya been?" Dick Dickinson; had fun with that name in school. House'd have a field day with it!

"I have a friend with some issues," he begins, and waits patiently while Dick laughs. "No, really, this is not the hypothetical 'friend with a problem.' It's actually quite serious; could be life and death for him." The psychologist sobers up quickly, and Wilson starts the convoluted, confusing, contrary biography of Gregory House's last six years.

When Wilson has hit just some of the high points and given an incomplete summary of the current problems, the 50 minute hour is almost up. Fortunately, Dick has no patient scheduled for the next hour, so Wilson takes a moment to call Cuddy and get the all-clear to stay.

According to her, House is well aware that he's blown it this time, and is, as a result, on his best behavior. And, of course, this morning's events haven't contributed anything towards recovery; Wilson suspects that between the enervating effects of the Compazine and the severity of the dehydration, House simply hasn't the energy to misbehave.

---

The subject of all this concern is curious. House has asked Cuddy several times where Wilson is; he has yet to receive a straight answer. Finally, Cuddy turns to him and says, not unkindly, "Look, he's angry, okay? He needs some time; he'll get over it."

House looks serious, and sad, and disgusted. Cuddy's seen him this way before. I remember when House confronted me after Vogler made Wilson resign; he reacted the same way then. Took me a while to realize that House was upset with himself, his own behavior. This time, Cuddy doesn't mistake House's reaction for displeasure with Wilson.

"Don't be so hard on yourself, House. In spite of what you'd like to believe, you're as human as the rest of us. Yeah, you screwed up. The consequences could've been… devastating. But they weren't. You set your recovery back a few days. You managed to piss off Wilson. And maybe, you learned something."

House has heard enough; it bothers him that Cuddy knows he's angry with himself. Time to direct the focus elsewhere. "Could you heplock this thing for me?" he says, indicating the IV. "I gotta go to the bathroom, don't feel like dragging the pump. Don't know why Wilson couldn't do that when he put it in," he grumbles.

"I think he was just a little too busy at the time to give it much thought," Cuddy reminds him, dryly, as she inserts the small plastic port which allows the fluids to be attached and disconnected easily. "There you go." She hands him his cane, and refrains from asking him if he needs any help.

House stands slowly. He's felt dizzy all day, and while he might mention it to Wilson later, he's just not in the mood to deal with Cuddy in mother-hen mode. On the other hand, no sense telling Wilson tonight. It'll just give him more ammunition. Gave him plenty of that already. Sure it's just the Compazine anyway. And I musta pulled something in the left thigh when I got sick this morning. He finds that by controlling the speed of his gait, he's able to walk a reasonably straight line, and Cuddy doesn't seem to notice anything amiss.

When House returns from the bathroom, Cuddy's waiting to reconnect the IV, and notes that there's a fine sheen of sweat on his forehead. He's also breathing a little too rapidly for such a short trip. She's looking at me with doctor eyes. Next thing, she's gonna want a pulse. Not a good plan right now.

So House grabs the TV remote and turns on The L Word. He smiles innocently at Cuddy and pats the couch cushion next to him. He's relieved when Cuddy suddenly decides it's time to go straighten up the kitchen.