Title: Only As Much as We Say (1/1)

Author: nomad1328

Rating: PG

Spoilers for Season 2's Skin Deep.

Disclaimer: House is property of Bat Hat Harry, Shore Z, etc. And I don't make any money off of this.

A/N: Skin Deep was the first episode to which I really paid attention. And the scene with House in Cuddy's office was the hook. I've been an addict ever since. This one is mostly unbeta'd folks- except for a bit of f-list feedback. So errors, mistakes, and stupidity are all mine. Please concrit at will. Or just review. That makes me happy too. Tell me I'm perfect. Tell me nothing can be fixed.

The unsettling aspect of this situation is not that House is in pain, but that it's getting past his angry resolve and emerging as wary grimaces, as a call-in sick to the clinic, as plea for an MRI. Gateway, Wilson thinks. Escalation. How long has this been going on?

A day after House downs LSD and miraculously cures a migraine and he calls Wilson to pick him up. Just get over here, he says. What's wrong? Nothing. Just get over here. And when he gets there, House hop skips down the stair and says nothing's wrong. Weather forecast says rain- didn't want to drive the bike. Car's on the fritz. Leave it alone and Wilson watches him pop two pills over breakfast on the fly when he knows he probably popped another few not an hour before. It isn't until three days later when Wilson's arm automatically swings out to catch House as he's on his way to the hospital lobby floor that House admits anything is wrong at all. Tripped probably, he says at first. But the wince when he's righted is all-telling. Listen, there's a guy I want you to see- he's good. And House, miraculously, takes the card and says he'll check it out. It's unbelievable, really, but Wilson leaves it alone.

For a few days, he assumes everything is back to normal. House doesn't call him for rides. And he's not complaining. But then Wilson realizes that he's been busy with three new patients and hasn't had the time to pay attention to what House is or isn't doing. And that's the same day he sees House getting into a cab outside the hospital. The streets are dry. The sun is warm. So much for rehab. So much for useful confrontation because House is gone (with his pills) as soon as the words nerve regeneration and MRI are out of his mouth.

House ends up asking for the MRI, much to Wilson's surprise. And because of it, he suspects that House is actually scared that something may be wrong. House doesn't say much past I need your help. The only other words are something like Slip me in for an MRI and go get me a gown, I don't want to stick to the roof. The look on House's face as Wilson pushes him back into the machine makes him remember that pit in his stomach all those years ago. But he hopes House at least grins when he does the impersonation of God. Wait until he sees these results- he won't be laughing then. Because then is when it will all come down: everything is wrong- but nothing is physically changed.

Everyone has their limits. It's not the pain that's risen, it's the threshold that's been lowered. Too little sleep, too much stress, and the perception of pain increases. Especially if there's nothing else upon which to focus- which isn't exactly true, House does have a case, afterall. But he's so obviously distracted, desperate even. Without cause, Wilson can't up the meds and won't give him anything different. House will get over this- just like he always does.

Only he doesn't. He's taken something. He's practically bouncing on his toes now, swinging the cane as he walks, outpacing most of his fellows and Wilson. So much for pushing through the pain. House was never one to sit idle and Wilson should've known better. So he starts to dig around.

Marco downstairs doesn't have a clue. He hasn't dispensed House anything in the past few days. Just the regular Vicodin prescription- but House could've gone anywhere.

Cameron shrugs her nonchalance. She's pissed about the kid and the incestuous (and drunk) father. She's taking it out on House and she couldn't care less if he hurts.

Foreman and Chase don't have a clue, but admit that he is definitely better now. Why bother with it? Whatever he's taken seems to have worked. And it makes their lives that much easier.

By the time he rounds on House again, he's edging his way out of the observation room's elevator. Sometimes, House braves the short flight of stairs- but not today. It's midafternoon. Whatever he took this morning has left his bloodstream and he's back to square one. House is fidgety with his hands, but slow moving. They talk a bit about the girl, about Wilson's transvestite neighbor, about Jaime Lee Curtis and then Wilson realizes that House is headed towards Cuddy's office. Interesting. He avoids her like the plague these days. He comes out seconds later and asks a nurse where the boss might be- but the nurse shakes her head and House sighs, heads back to his office.

Wilson embarks on a search of his own and finds Cuddy in the doctor's lounge eating a salad and watching Oprah. Not her style, he thinks. But whatever works.

"You gave him something, didn't you?" He's accusatory, a little angry. House isn't his patient, but he might as well be.

"He was in pain. Making bad decisions. Desperate." She stands, taking the plate with her and dumping the remainders into the trash.

"Exactly. Desperate. His MRI was clean, Cuddy."

Cuddy pauses, sighs, her hands on her hips. "What was I supposed to do?"

"You let him play to your guilt. He knew I wouldn't give him anything, so he went to someone he knew he could get to." Wilson crosses his arms. "What did you give him?"

"He asked for intrathecal morphine."


"It's low dose. Low risk. And it worked."

"Not anymore. He's looking for you. He's looking for you to get him another dose."

She sighs and stands. "If it's what he needs then…"

"Cuddy! You can't give him morphine! He's got to learn to deal with this!"

"And I suppose that's what you tell him when you write his Vicodin prescriptions?"

Wilson goes on the defensive immediately: his arms cross, his feet go to parade rest, and he sighs deeply. "You know it's different. Morphine…" he pauses, gathering his thoughts. "You know it's dangerous. It's more addictive, more side effects… His increased pain is psychosomatic. You know it. I know it. If Stacy hadn't left…"

"He chased her away."

"That's not the point. If you give him morphine, he'll adjust to the new level and he'll need it- just like he needs Vicodin now. You want to be part of that? Want to have a doctor on morphine?"

Cuddy sighs and walks closer to Wilson, her head down and arms crossed. "I already gave him morphine and apparently, it did the job. If the pain was psychosomatic…"

"If the pain was psychosomatic, you could've given him a shot of saline and it would've worked."

"What am I supposed to do when he asks me for more?"

Wilson shrugs his shoulders, grimaces. "Lie to him."