"I'm Doctor House, and I'll be your attending today."
Wilson groaned and turned his face away from the gap in the curtains. He heard them slide further open and House's uneven footsteps coming towards him. "So, what seems to be the problem? Ooh, sprains!" Pages rustled, then House whistled under his breath. "Quite impressive, I'd say. Injuries to wrist, ankle and shoulder. All you need is the neck and you'll have the full set."
"What are you doing here?" Wilson asked, turning back to look at House.
"I told you, I'm your attending."
"You don't work the ER, last time I checked. Especially not at Princeton General." Wilson raised his head off the pillow a little, trying to see, through the gap in the curtains, if any of the regular staff had noticed the intruder. No such luck.
House was completely failing to look upset. "And here's me, thinking you would have appreciated seeing a friendly face."
"I would have."
"I'm hurt." House grinned, closing the curtains behind him and giving them privacy that Wilson wasn't really sure he wanted. "I take time out of my busy schedule-"
"It's one-thirty in the morning."
"Sleeping was on my schedule and I was really busy with it, but friends come first, don't they?" House limped over, dropping the file onto the bed. "So, what happened?"
"I thought you had the chart."
"I do, but all that tells me is what you told the ER docs. Not what actually happened."
"I slipped. I fell. I hurt. Okay?"
House pulled a stool closer, settling on it and resting his clasped hands on his cane. "Take your time. I have all day. Or night. Take your pick."
Wilson lay back, staring at the ceiling. After a minute, he asked, "Does it say on the chart what they're going to do about my shoulder?"
"Un-dislocate it, is the general procedure. Should be any time now." House tapped his cane on the ground. "Unless you want me to do it for you."
"No, thanks," Wilson said quickly.
"Suit yourself." House carried on tapping his cane. After a minute or so, he began tapping his feet as well, to a rhythm that only he could hear. He sighed, then, apparently liking the sound, sighed again in time with the tapping of his cane and feet. After another minute, Wilson could take no more.
"Anytime you want to stop doing that is fine with me."
"Touchy." House leaned his cane against the bed and reached out for the file. "Did you know that the first record of the reduction of a dislocated shoulder is a tomb painting from Egypt? Over two thousand years ago, they were shoving those suckers back into place. And you're scared to let me do it now."
"Touch me and I will beat you to death with your own cane," Wilson said, without a hint of a smile.
"Up to you." House flicked through a couple of pages. "I'm sure they'll get to you as soon as they've seen to all the actual emergency cases. Limbs hanging off, lives in the balance, that kind of thing." He closed the file and looked at Wilson. "I wonder what method they'll use. There's the slow, careful methods, but they need preparation, equipment and drugs."
"Then there's the quick method: just a friend and a helping hand. Hard and fast has always been my preference. What about you?"
"House!" Wilson was nearly shouting now, struggling to sit upright against the pain. "Either shut up or get out!"
"Only trying to help." House swung from side to side on the stool, not taking his eyes from Wilson's face. Eventually, he said, "So, what really happened?"
"I told you, I fell. End of story."
House snorted. "Startled by the flying pigs, were you? Come on, you can tell me." When Wilson made no reply, House went on, "Or maybe you don't need to."
Looking over, Wilson saw that House's eyes had narrowed and his lips were pressed together in the way they did when he was tackling a particularly tricky diagnosis. After another minute, his mouth twisted into a smile that made Wilson extremely nervous.
"The ER techs don't mention cutting any clothes off you, and I don't see them anywhere around. Which means either you cunningly undressed yourself with sprains to your ankle and wrist, as well as a dislocated shoulder, or you weren't wearing any clothes when you got hurt."
"Just because they don't mention it in the file…" Wilson trailed off under House's knowing stare. When he was silent again, House continued.
"The dislocation is your right shoulder, but you sprained your left wrist and ankle. If you really took a serious tumble, there'd be a pattern to the bruising and injuries. As it is-" He stopped, getting off the stool and coming to the bedside. Wilson tried to grab for the sheets, but his right arm was in agony, and the other wrist hurt too much to move. He tried not to squirm as House lifted the covers and inspected him.
"Leopard print? Jimmy, I never knew you had it in you." House stood there for a ridiculously long period of time, at least as far as Wilson was concerned. "For someone who fell down the stairs, your bruises have healed remarkably quickly. Got some special powers you want to tell me about?"
Helpless to fight back, Wilson could only lie still as House brought the sheet back down again, tucking it round his chest.
"So there's no bruising, foxy underwear and a curious pattern of injuries. Then there's this." House's fingers traced over Wilson's right wrist. "This is very curious injury indeed. A red, raised welt, almost like a scrape or a rope burn." House bent over, as if to look more closely, but his eyes were on Wilson's face. "No, too defined for a rope. Too sharp. More like-" House grinned with genuine amusement. "If I didn't know better, I'd say it looks like the mark of a handcuff."
Unable to pull the sheet over his head, roll away or punch House's smug smile, Wilson closed his eyes and prayed for death. At this point, he doubted there was any chance of waking up to find it had all been a terrible dream.
"What was her name?" House asked and, just for a moment, Wilson considered denying everything. But House had a way of finding things out that bordered on the telepathic. If he didn't admit anything, he suspected House would just pluck it from his mind anyway.
"Carrie," he said at last.
"Nice name." Wilson felt House pat his head. "And it could have been worse."
"How?" Wilson still didn't dare open his eyes.
"Julie could still have been your emergency contact. Or Cuddy. Can't have her knowing that the head of oncology fell off a bed while handcuffed to it. Might give her ideas." House paused. "How exactly did you-"
"I plead the fifth," Wilson said, opening his eyes at last. "You can't make me talk."
"Wanna bet?" House gave him his best 'mad scientist' grin. "You need that shoulder fixed, right? If you want it done sooner instead of later, you're better off with me." House gently pulled the pillow away, helping Wilson to lie flat. "They gave you painkillers already, right?"
"Not nearly enough."
"Still, probably don't want to mix them with Vicodin. Who knows what might happen?" House dropped the side guard on the bed to give him room to maneuver. "Actually I've always wanted to try the Hippocratic method."
"I don't want to know."
"You stand the patient up, get a small child to hang onto his legs and then pull his arm over your shoulder. Apparently, it only works if you're taller than the patient."
"You know, you don't have to do this," Wilson said, as House took hold of his forearm. "It doesn't take a diagnostics expert to spot a dislocation. And these guys have had a hell of a lot more practice at putting them back than you."
"Really?" House pulled gently at first, just straightening Wilson's arm out. "Brace yourself."
Wilson had fixed his share of dislocated limbs during ER rotations and occasionally in the clinic, so at least he knew what to expect. House's fingers felt cold on his arm, gripping firmly as he pulled it round. Wilson could feel a thumb pressing into his shoulder, forcing the top of the bone down. He tried to focus on other things – the sounds of the ER, the pain in his left wrist and ankle, the memory of the pleasure before the pain – rather than giving in to his instinct to make House stop. They hadn't got very far before his shoulder started screaming at him, making him lose the little concentration he'd had.
"It's all right." House's voice was strangely soothing. "It'll pass, I promise." He adjusted his hold on shoulder and arm, and Wilson could feel the strength in his hands. Trying to force his mind off the pain again, he wondered how many times House had actually done this. Judging by the certainty of his grip and the measured amount of force he was using, probably more than Wilson had suspected. He made a mental note to ask later on, but then House was starting to push his hand over his head, driving away all semblance of rational thought.
Looking up, he saw that House was frowning in concentration, biting his lower lip and grunting with effort as he pushed the arm all the way round. Wilson actually saw stars from the pain and he was about to yell again, tell House he couldn't take any more when the pain changed, the searing heat becoming a knife stab. He felt and heard something click back into place.
The relief was as wonderful as the pain was horrendous, and Wilson groaned, only vaguely aware of House lifting his head to slip the pillow back, then returning his arm to the bed.
"You'll need to keep it strapped for a while." House said and Wilson nodded weakly.
"Any time." House grabbed his cane and headed out through the curtain. After a moment, Wilson heard raised voices drifting across the ER.
"Just strap him up and send him home! They're only sprains. My pet rat could diagnose it!"
Wilson recognized the tone of voice; House was enjoying himself immensely, and, for once, Wilson wasn't required to intervene. Closing his eyes, he let the background sounds of the ER and the increasingly loud sound of House's shouting lull him to sleep.