The Cardiac Tamponade

By Carnifax
House M.D.
Rated T
House finally gets released from clinic duty when car crash victims block his way out. It's just a small accident, but—hey, doesn't that one look like Wilson…? (HouseWilson)

Don't. Ask. I just felt like using a tension pneumo(…thorax), but it somehow turned into a cardiac tamponade, and then House came into the picture… It's my glorified 'First House Fanfiction' and it's an ugly thing.

It's actually not a very romantic story, but whatever. If you want it to be, it is, I guess...

It was just as Cuddy had relinquished his motorcycle keys that several bloodied gurneys found their way through the doors of the hospital, each wheeling right after the others down the hall, preventing House from escape.

"Oh, woe is me!" he said too loudly for a quarter to midnight. A passing attendant winced and threw him a look, but only succeeded in veering his gurney sharply to the right and fueling a further rant. "Yet again, these dying people are inconveniencing me in getting home!" He gave a heavy sigh and waved his cane. "Keeping a lonely cripple from his home, his family, his children… I mean, it's not like they're in agonizing pain or anything!"

The last one—really only the seventh, but who's counting?—passed after eternity, and House limped across the intersection of hallways, looking toward the door when someone spoke.

"You're married?" an EMT laughed, leaning against the door he'd been holding. "I pity the poor woman."

House just grinned and threw back a Vicodin. "What did all those bleedies do, anyway? Anything cool? Skydiving accident? Massive vampire lesbian orgy?"

The man shook his head. "Just a car crash. Big, though."

"Was it cool? Any explosions?" Maybe he could tell it to Wilson—the bastard, having left fifteen minutes ago promising beer and pizza if House stopped by—adding in the occasional act of heroism done by him and lots of strippers, also done by him (though not quite in the same sense of 'doing').

"One, actually—but a little one, just big enough to fracture some ribs. The guy in the car got his chest smashed against the steering wheel though—not pretty to extract, but not horribly complicated. The rest were all just mashed up against each other inside the other car, drunk, probably the ones that caused the damn thing." He laughed at the fake yawn House was stifling. "And, just to make your day, they were driving a convertible—and the two girls in the backseat were making out. Naked."

"But were they vampires?" House asked with renewed interest.

The EMT nodded. "There's a good chance. Necks bloodied when we found 'em…"

"Ah, but it's not a massive vampire lesbian orgy with only two vampire lesbians." House sighed. "That could've been historic, but no… I suppose I shall call it only 'The Almost Massive Vampire Lesbian Orgy Car Crash with the Convertible and a Funny Man Whose Car Minimally Exploded.' Damn! What an opportunity those drunks just wasted!"

"A 'funny man'?" The EMT smirked. "He said his name was James something-or-another, or James Watson maybe. Something with a 'W'."

Something in House's mind caught that and toyed with it, and within an instant his pulse was hammering through his veins. "Hm," he said with false meditation. "James… Wilson?"

The man shrugged, turned to leave. "Something like that, yeah."

He tensed. "Wait—brown hair, bushy eyebrows, probably smelled like pizza and-or heavy cologne?"

"Brown hair, I think all guys probably have bushy eyebrows, didn't really attempt to smell him." He stopped in the doorway. "You know the guy?"

House shook his head but turned anyway, limping as fast as possible to the ER. His lips set into a frown as he rounded the corners—if he'd thought to ask, he could've inquired the location. But mathematically—Wilson had left fifteen minutes ago. If he picked up the pizza (nearby) and beer (nearby), he'd have been crossing the only busy road…


The timing would've been perfect, if the ambulance was informed and on-the-go as soon as it had happened.

House didn't care if he broke the door going into the ER; he threw it open and almost took out his own foot, but made it into the room. He took a few steps and paused.

A tuft of brown was all he could see of the head and it was matted in blood, as were the man's cheeks and lips under the tubes and wires. It was just the right color of brown, and that chin… it was very similar, even he had to admit…

"Who is that?"

"You have to clean up before you can come in here," a worker said, wiggling his gloved fingers, whose tips were red and dripping. It was the same man who'd glared at him before. Damn the night shift—none of them feared House as much as his beloved day staff.

"What's bleeding?" House asked quickly, stepping forward. He still couldn't see the man clearly, but just enough to see the gasping chest rising with too-hard work.

"Various things, all little cuts and bruises, nothing severe enough for a diagnostician. You need to get out or clean up."

"Dr. Abber," another voice, female, called to House's left. "Blood pressure is evening out, but not to regular. High's matching low—90/70 and getting closer."

"Why?" House asked.

Abber gave a slight pause, turning back to the gurney. "I have no idea."

"Check his temperature."

The woman called out, "Normal, Dr. House. Everything's normal—except his blood pressure and heartbeat."

"Heart, what's wrong with his heart?" He limped forward one step, but blocked a passing attendant and stepped back again.

"Hearbeat, and it's quiet. Muffled, almost—probably a chronic thing, probably not severe."

The door opened behind him. "House! Go home! Or at least watch from the hallway!"

Before he could turn around, Cuddy was already gone. Someone elbowed House lightly in the back and he ignored it. "Do you know the guy's name?" he asked. "It's urgent."

Abber answered. "It's, I don't know, it could be Brad Pitt for all we know. Get out!"

House reached for the door and froze. "Check his neck."

"What about it?" someone new answered.

"Is it swollen? Enlarged? Distended?"

"Should it be?" Abber asked, with obvious condescension. And then, quietly, in shock, he added, "It is. Hell."

House twacked his cane against the window. "Beck's Triad, you idiots! Cardiac tam—"

Cuddy flung the door open again, irate. "House, I told you to get out!"

"Needle the pericardial sac and—"


He left the room, watching Cuddy storm down the hallway in silence.

He'd only seen a cardiac tamponade once, in his early shadowing days. It had been fatal then—what else could a heart being crushed in its own blood be?—and this time the idiots had just assumed the muffled heartbeat was something chronic and normal instead of taking into account that maybe something like blood was blocking the sound.

And then House remembered who the man could've been. And he remembered that those hospital workers could've just condemned House's only friend to death.

House sank onto the bench on the side of the hallway, eyes unfocused. He stared straight ahead, letting himself sink back against the wall. His held breath whooshed out in a narrow-lipped sigh.

He could hear the irritating beep of a heartrate begin to jerk between fast and slow. At the same time, the muted voices became a clamor of tones. Further beeping; a new set of machines went off. Someone yelled something like "Faster! Shit!"

He didn't even consider what would happen if that was Wilson. What it meant for the hospital, what it meant for him, what it meant for his time after work and lunch and breakfast and cynical comments and cripple jokes… because, hell, there was still a chance that it wasn't Wilson. Not much of a chance, but there was one.

He closed his eyes and inhaled, exhaled. Inhaled, exhaled. The beeping got faster, slower, faster, much faster. Inhale, exhale. Almost a constant line of beeps. Inhale. The voices reached a peak. Exhale. And then the beeping flatlined into a steady noise and all other sound halted completely.

A single voice announced time of death.

House's cane clattered to the floor when he let go of it, leaning to put his elbows on his knees, his face in his hands. He dug the heel of his palms into his eyes and saw flashes of colors.

"I know what the cane is for, but now that you've dropped it—what, do your arms not work either?"

House lifted his head, blinked, and looked left. His eyes roamed over the speaker from those French shoes to the smirk on his face while Wilson extended the cane to House.

And then the smirk fell, and the man's jaw became slack. "House?" he said sharply. "House, what happened?"

His blinked again, took a breath. "You're okay."

"I am, sure—but House, you look—"

"Cardiac tamponade," he murmured, narrowing his eyes.

Wilson's nose wrinkled in obvious distaste. "Sounds pleasant. Who?"

"I… I don't know."

"Did you catch it in time?"

House shook his head. Thinking suddenly, he held out his hand. "Cane?"

Wilson gave it to him; he jerked back in surprise when House's hand climbed up the cane and onto his arm, clenching it tightly, affirming it to be existent.

"House, my question still stands—what—"

"James Wattenson."

Both doctors jumped to look at Abber, who had just appeared in the doorway.

"No, James Wilson," Wilson answered, brows drawn together.

"James Wattenson," Abber said again, directing his attention solely to House. "The guy's name."

When he went back into the room, Wilson let out the softest of oaths. "House," he said gently. The diagnostician didn't look at him. "House," he repeated. "It's okay. I'm okay. You thought the guy was me, but he's not, and I'm okay. House…?"

"It's not that," he finally said. "I thought it was you, but I thought…" He had thought he could've caught the symptoms faster. If House had, the man would be alive. Wilson would be alive. Abruptly, House sat up, staring at him. "Why are you here?"

Wilson chuckled, but the humor had been lost to the situation. "In actuality, it's raining, so I thought I should give you a ride as well as force Cuddy to release you. But my excuse was to pick up the file I forgot here, which in fact I didn't actually forget."

"Fantastic. A ride home."

It wasn't until they were getting out of the car at Wilson's apartment that either of them spoke again. The one who first broke the silence was House.

"I guess I have no choice but to stay over."

Wilson raised a brow. This was Housean enough, staying the night, and yet—with the Wattenson mix-up—it felt very different. Protective, almost.

"Just, you know, to make sure that those baldies have their oncologist alive in the morning. Who else is fluffy enough to nicely tell them they're dying?" House meant it as an insult but there was no venom in it, and there still were tense, worried lines written into the man's face.

Wilson smiled, uttered a small and cynical "Thanks," and mentally filed away 'pretend to die' under 'things to do if you think House doesn't care.'

Reviews are worth a thousand turkeys. Give me one, feed thousands of starving children. (grin)

I may end up writing another part to this... Maybe...

Yes, yes, and a happy turkey-killing day to you.