Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. Don't sue!
Here I freaking go again! I don't know where these ideas keep coming, but they are a flowin. This is third installment of the series that started with A House Assessment and Adverse Conditions. Those two stories took place pre No Reason, this one is post No Reason taking place immediately after the shooting. For those that didn't read the previous two stories, Chase is now an attending in the Diagnostics department and handling cases on his own. This is a look of how the team handles the pressures of the department in this alternate scenario without House.
No one can ever anticipate how they will react under such a horrific circumstance. Medically, adrenaline takes over and all rational thought and awareness of time disappears in a flash. In that split second the heart rate quickens, the pupils dilate, blood vessels constrict and dilate, and the blood sugar elevates.
The sad reality is that the years of trauma and crisis training still cannot prepare a high skilled physician to properly react the exact second the boss gets unexpectedly blown away during a routine meeting in the usually safe surroundings of the diagnostics conference room. Adrenaline might push one forward, but it doesn't give that person the ability to act rationally and think clearly.
They didn't remember their thoughts, their feelings, and their reactions or even how much time had elapsed. They just remembered that brief moment as the assailant stood pointing a gun at them before delivering another blow. All they could do for those few seconds was watch while their mentor lay bleeding on the floor. They needed that moment though, because without it the adrenaline rush would have prevented rational action, which would have seemed kind of foolish for three highly skilled medical professionals. That brief pause offered all the time they needed to get their bearings about them and ride off the initial impact of the shock. Once the gunman was gone, the reaction of the well trained trauma expert could happen. It was now an easy mode to slip into as it offered the much needed comfort and rationality in this moment of intense madness.
House first tried to get up, and then wisely went back down knowing that the extra effort would increase the already rapid blood loss. Chase and Foreman rushed over well knowing that every second from this point forward was critical. Chase examined the abdomen while Foreman checked the neck. Stabilizing the patient so he could be moved was now the only goal.
Cameron went straight to the phone, first calling the ER and then Cuddy. There was no time to think about how or why this happened. She would have rather tended to House than make the calls, but she completely trusted Chase and Foreman. At that moment, she had to.
The events that followed were a frantic blur. In a matter of minutes the trauma team was there with the gurney. Chase and Foreman managed to slow the bleeding, but the ER could only do the rest. After all, who would have ever thought that life saving supplies would ever be needed in a medical conference room? Quickly the medics took House away and the ducklings all followed. Their thoughts were still solely focused on the welfare of the patient. They couldn't process anything else.
Once the moment of madness was over though, the shock and dismay of the incident now reared its ugly head. The three of them all sat in stunned silence in the ER lobby, all lost in their own thoughts. The terror of the situation now was a little too real. "Dr. Wilson," said Cameron. "I need to let him know."
"No need," said a voice from behind her. They all turned around to notice a somber and very rattled Wilson who just left the ER trauma area.
"He's on his way up now," Wilson continued. "They are pretty optimistic. Luckily he happened to get shot in front of some highly skilled doctors."
"Are you okay?" asked a concerned Cameron as she got up to offer comfort to a shaken Wilson.
"I should be asking all of you," he said. "I didn't get the shock of seeing it happen."
Chase and Foreman were both very quiet. They were at a complete loss. Foreman tried to answer, but he didn't know what to say. Cameron decided to speak for all of them. "We are too stunned right now. We need a little time to make sense of this."
"Since it doesn't make sense, I wouldn't waste your time," Wilson replied. "I'm going up to the OR to observe. All of you are welcome to join me."
They all looked at each other with blank stares, waiting for the first person to make a move. Cameron flashed a look of quick disappointment and started following Wilson. Chase and Foreman got up and followed right behind.
All three ducklings anxiously gathered in Cuddy's office early the next morning. To say that Cuddy looked like a wreck would be an understatement. A more apt description would reflect someone who had to toil amidst horrific and hazardous conditions to find a safe haven and sanity all while being deprived of sleep. She looked and felt like a weary hurricane survivor.
"Dr. Cuddy," said Foreman, "You need to go home and get some sleep."
"Trust me, its happening, just as soon as I tie up some loose ends. You three don't get any looser." she replied.
"We'll be able to manage," said Cameron. "We have enough to keep us busy."
"Sure, tell me, how much sleep did you three get last night?" They all looked at Cuddy glassy eyed, confirming her suspicion. "Right, about as much as I did. I need to make sure you all will be able to handle department business since I will be gone for several hours and your supervisor will be out for a while."
"Before we get to that, can you tell us how House is?" asked Cameron.
"He had a bad night, which leads to the part about my instructions for the day. Chase, House needs the care of an Intensivist so the choice is obvious. Because he still isn't quite stable, I need you to constantly watch him today. The ICU knows you will be there all day. Cameron and Foreman, you will do your normal clinic duties and continue with your case, swollen tongue guy."
The ducklings all looked at Cuddy strangely. They never heard her use a House pet name for a patient before.
"Sorry," apologized Cuddy. "In his delirious state House asked about Harpo, the swollen tongue guy. I guess it stuck. Anyway, Chase is now supervising the case so get him to sign off on any procedures. Don't discuss the case in front of House. No humoring him today, no matter how much he badgers."
"Shouldn't be much of an issue," said Chase. "He'll still be sedated most of the day."
"He has special pain management issues," Cuddy told Chase. "I left some instructions in the file, but I trust you will know what to do. I don't want to see him build up a dependence on morphine like he has with vicodin."
Chase silently concurred with her statement.
"Okay, I'll touch base again tomorrow but for right now it will be business as usual. We just have a different attending in charge right now." Cuddy threw Chase a glance indicating she expected nothing but the best from him. "All of you will report to me until House gets back. Unless it involves life or death though, I don't need to hear from any you today. Chase, I'll check in with you later."
Cuddy gave them a weary but commanding look that they were dismissed. "Thank you Dr. Cuddy," they all said in off timing as they began to leave.
In the hallway the three stopped for a small conference. "I'll get right to work on our patient," said Foreman, eagerly looking for a distraction.
"If its okay," said Cameron, "I'd like to go with Chase to check on House. I won't be long."
Foreman nodded. "Okay, I'll go get started."
They all parted in their respective directions. "So how are you doing today?" Chase asked Cameron with an exhausted but concerned demeanor.
"I'm okay. What happened just hasn't sunk in yet. I'm rather worried about House."
"He'll be fine," assured Chase.
"Physically, yes, he'll recover. I'm not sure how he will take the rest of it though. Wilson said he had a bad recovery emotionally over his leg. I wonder how he will handle this."
"That recovery involved the break up with the love of his life and a major physical deformity. This one should be easier to swallow."
Cameron flashed a sad smile. She knew Chase was likely right but she couldn't shake her concern. "Yes, you are probably right. I'm worried anyway. That is my nature."
Cameron and Chase noticed the peaceful resting soul when they entered the ICU. Not House, he looked uncomfortable. It was Wilson, slumped in the less than cozy chair next to the bed covered partially by his jacket. Judging by the bags under his eyes, he had not been in his slumber for long. They quietly began to examine House in hopes of letting Wilson continue to sleep.
"House is somewhat restless and feeling a bit of pain," whispered Chase, "but he is showing slight improvement."
Cameron continued to gaze at House with intense concern. She so wanted to help and comfort him, but she knew there was nothing more she could do. "He looks like hell," she told Chase.
The talking in the room was enough for Wilson to abruptly pop up in the chair. As he shook off the sleepy feeling, he noticed Cameron and Chase.
"Good morning Dr. Wilson," Chase said with a smile.
"How is he doing?" Wilson asked.
"Better," replied Chase. "He is still in some pain, but he is well sedated and vitals are improved over last night."
"Yeah, he had a rough one. He crashed twice." Wilson paused to stare at his fallen friend. Here they were again. How was House always getting himself into these messes? How was he going to have to help his pal through this one? Wilson then shook himself out of his deep thought. "So I assume you are the Intensivist Cuddy assigned. She didn't say who it was earlier, but I figured the choice was obvious."
"Go home and get some sleep. I'll take care of him today," said Chase.
"No, I'll be on my office couch. I have some business to tend to later. Page me if anything changes." Wilson quickly left, knowing that his lingering presence was not good for anybody at this time.
Cameron turned to Chase, still showing the enduring look of worry in her eyes. "I better go help Foreman. Please let me know also if anything changes."
"I'll add you and Dr. Wilson to the list of twenty I already have to notify," replied Chase. He turned to House. "Here that House? Change your condition and you will cause me lots of grief. Hard to pass up that one."
Cameron smiled and left. Chase took a deep breath of relief and sank down in the chair previously occupied by Wilson. He examined the chart and then fixed an uncertain gaze at his semi-placid boss. "You are always full or surprises. I'd be bored working for anyone else."
Hours later Chase was trying to keep busy by checking vitals and recording results. He was mad at himself for not thinking to bring the book of crosswords.
"Chase?" asked a very groggy voice, "What are you feeding my rat?" Chase wasn't sure if anyone thought to check on Steve McQueen, but he would have to mention it to Wilson. "Steve!" House then shouted to an empty corner in the room. "What did you get into? Rats can't grow six feet tall."
"House," said Chase as he fixed his eyes squarely on House's, "Nothing is there." An incoherent House looked at Chase, then glanced back in the corner.
"Oh," he softly mumbled then quickly fell back into to sleep.
"Not good," Chase muttered to himself. He sent a page to Cuddy. He's hallucinating was the message. About five minutes later another page came back to Chase. My office, 20 minutes.
Chase sat in Cuddy's office waiting for her to arrive. Something wasn't quite right here and he used the time to ponder exactly what it could be. After a few minutes though he realized that any type of wild speculation was an exercise in futility. With House, anything was possible.
Cuddy finally arrived. She resembled someone who was just dragged out of bed. Her hair was messy, her makeup was left over from the previous day and she had on very casual clothes that seemed to be quickly thrown on without much thought. Clearly she didn't plan on staying long, and whatever she was about to say was very important.
"Sorry I'm late," she told Chase as she walked in and shut the office door behind her. Her usual commanding presence was absent as she sauntered behind her desk and slumped wearily into her very comfortable executive chair.
"You aren't late," replied Chase. "You really didn't have to come in."
"Yes, I did. What I'm about to tell you is only known by the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, myself and Dr. Wilson. You cannot share this with anyone. During the surgery, we gave House ketamine and put him in a coma."
"That was a ketamine coma?" asked a very shocked Chase. "Why?"
She stared at Chase, knowing he could easily figure out why once he was given a brief moment to think about it.
"I know his pain has been significantly worse lately," observed Chase. "Ketamine sounds like a risky and reckless House idea. I heard him briefly mention it before losing consciousness. How could he convince you to do it? He didn't have the time or the coherence to argue."
"He talked to me about it before the shooting," replied Cuddy. "I have been treating him for his increased leg pain for a few months now. He saw these promising studies and wanted to take the risk. I wouldn't let him."
"But you let him now, after multiple gun shot wounds?" asked an incredulous Chase.
"It was the ideal opportunity. He had to go under and ketamine is a safe anesthetic."
"Safe, but not legal," Chase added.
"It is legal in an experimental trial. I have all the notes for the experimental procedure in my desk. Let's just say he was approved."
"The side effects though. They can be pretty extreme."
"I know the risks and so does he. I also know that something had to be done. He recently started shooting morphine."
Chase was stunned by her revelation. How could House be such an idiot? He slowly sank into the couch as the intense disbelief over all the recent events began to hit him. He wasn't sure how many more surprises he could take. "How do you know this?" he asked. "House would never tell you. He'd lose his job and his license."
"Wilson figured it out," admitted Cuddy. "He even found the private stash."
Chase rubbed his tired eyes trying desperately to process all that was happening. "Well," he said with his eyes still buried in his hands, "that certainly explains the rough night. He was having violent outbursts, wasn't he? How much longer is he going to drift between realities?"
"I'm not sure. That is why I need you to keep a careful watch on him today."
"You were just hoping that I wouldn't notice things like hallucinations and violent behavior?"
"I was hoping those side effects were only temporary and wouldn't last this long," answered Cuddy. "I hoped wrong. You just need to watch him for a few more hours. Wilson will be there to relieve you later."
"How long do we have to keep this up?"
"As long as it takes. No one else can know about this, especially Cameron and Foreman. The less people that know about the situation the better."
Chase stood silently, still heavily pensive over the task ahead.
"Call me if there are problems. I'm counting on you Chase."
He nodded and quietly headed back to the ICU.
a/n: The premise here is that Chase, Cuddy, and Wilson end up with their hands rather full, so Cameron and Foreman have to pretty much do everything by themselves. Cameron will be getting a case out of this. There will also be the drama of the House crisis. I still have a bit to work out, so let me know how much you like or dislike what I have so far and if the premise is promising. Thanks for reading!