A/N: Yes, I'm alive. Real life has taken over and I rarely have time to really sit down and focus on this fic. If anyone is still reading, I apologize profusely and hope to continue working on this story until it's finished. That may take another year but at least I haven't given up! Any and all errors are mine. If you see something blatantly wrong, please let me know. My eyes are blurry from staring at this chapter for so long. Hope you enjoy it!
"Looks good," Masterson said, probing at the healing incisions on House's left leg,"no infection."
He was sitting on the exam table, injured leg stretched out in front of him for all the world to see. His leg was three different shades of green with some purple and yellow thrown in for good measure. Pink lines criss-crossed his skin, evidence of the gauze wrap that had been wrapped securely around his leg for the last several days.
He couldn't hold back the hiss that escaped as Masterson peeled away the gauze that had adhered to the side of his foot. Fresh blood stains were evident along with some slight oozing from the incision.
"Looks like you tore some stitches."
House leaned back on his elbows, grimacing. "Wow, glad you told me that because I would have never guessed, being a doctor and all." He sat and waited for the grilling to begin.
"You know that saying, doctors make the worst patients?" Masterson retorted, staring at the wound suspiciously. "Something caused this," he continued, "they don't just tear on their own."
"Maybe it was your lousy sew- ow!" House responded, jumping as Masterson wiped it down with antiseptic. It burned like hell. His mouth formed a tight-lipped grimace, refusing to admit what had happened in his bathroom. Maybe his silence would be enough to satisfy the other doctor.
He was wrong.
The orthopedist looked over his shoulder at Wilson. "Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary? I mean for him."
Of course he'd ask him. "Hey, I'm over here." House interrupted, waving his hands in the air like some castaway waiting to be rescued on a desert island. The distraction wasn't working. Wilson was about to open his big mouth and he had no way to stop him.
Masterson grabbed some fresh gauze and lifted House's lower leg off the table, setting off all kinds of fireworks from his knee to his toes. He couldn't prevent a hiss from escaping. Any little movement sent shock waves through the broken bones. The only good thing was that his right leg was barely noticeable right now.
His lower leg was poked and prodded as he continued to be interrogated by his doctor. "I'd ask you how it felt but you'd deflect and wouldn't give me a straight answer." Masterson turned back toward Wilson again, House's leg still in his grasp, "Like I was saying, anything unusual?"
Wilson was edging towards the door as his left hand crept to the back of his neck. "He...did...take a fall...in the bath-" An evil glare from the exam table stopped Wilson's comment in its tracks. "What? He asked!"
Masterson turned toward House, who was suddenly finding the inspirational poster on the wall more interesting than the conversation. "And you weren't going to tell me, were you?"
"Nothing to say. Leg's still intact and besides, you've got everything in there screwed together tighter than a couple of horny teenagers, I'd need a crowbar to undo what you've done." That almost sounded like a compliment and Masterson seemed to take it that way.
"Thanks, but I've put too much work into that leg. You're getting new pictures just to be sure." The doctor gently set the injured leg back on the table, his swollen foot still bare.
House rolled his eyes and complained, "Oh, come on! You and I both know I didn't do anything to damage your precious work."
Besides, how much worse could he really injure it? Yes, he remembered his foot hitting the edge of the divider between his tub and toilet but didn't really think anything of it. At the time, everything was hurting and he was more concerned about getting off the floor without breaking anything else.
Then House slowly raised his eyes and saw a very familiar sight.
Masterson had perfected the Wilson pose. Hands on hips, furrowed eyebrows, legs slightly apart. But, for some reason, it was much more intimidating coming from a behemoth like him. Especially when he spoke with a voice that could make a Rottweiler pee. "So you want to have two permanent limps then?"
"Ha. Ha." House replied, eyebrows still furrowed in wasn't funny and he wasn't going to fall for the intimidation act.
"I wasn't joking," the other doctor replied, mouth drawn in a straight line.
House watched helplessly as his surgeon placed butterfly bandages over the incision where it had split open, pulling the skin closed. "This is healed well enough. Doesn't need new stitches." New gauze was placed over his foot and wrapped around his lower leg before the brace was refastened in place.
"Can I put my pants back on now?" Luckily, he had some basketball pants that snapped up the sides and made it much easier to get dressed. He had used them almost every day after his infarction and was glad he kept several pairs around. Too bad they didn't make snap up boxers too.
"Nope. Not yet." Masterson motioned toward the wheelchair sitting in the corner of the room "Back in the chair. Let's go."
"How much did Wilson pay you to get rid of me?" House complained, scooting his rear carefully back into the chair, his unsnapped pant leg hanging off his left hip and on to the floor like some forgotten cape.
Before he could even blink, gigantic hands were carefully lifting his legs onto the foot rests, the left one still horizontal to support his broken leg. The unsecured pant leg was placed loosely over the cumbersome brace like a shroud.
It still shocked him how Masterson could be such a skilled surgeon and so gentle with hands the size of baseball mitts.
"Bye." Masterson smiled and waved at him like a damn flight attendant. He wanted to wipe that smile right off his face, but since he couldn't even reach above the other man's armpits at the moment, that would have been a little difficult.
The burly doc called for his assistant who must have been standing right behind the door. Within two seconds, the blonde with the big boobs appeared in the doorway. "Sandy, see to it that Doctor House makes it to radiology and doesn't take any detours on the way."
"Will do, doctor," she replied with a smile. Suddenly he lurched forward, the assistant responding like a good little minion.
"Dictator!" House yelled over his shoulder as he was shoved out the door. He wasn't really that upset about the additional x-rays. Any sane doctor who wanted to cover his ass from any lawsuits would have done the same thing. He had to put on a bit of a show to make sure Wilson was distracted adequately enough to not suspect anything. So far, his and Masterson's plan was working perfectly, even if Wilson had caused Masterson to call an audible with the additional X-rays.
As the door was closing behind him, he overheard Masterson 's deep baritone voice say "So, what's going on with that elbow?"
A self satisfied smile crept across his lips as he was pushed down the hallway.
Wilson was so busted.
A half hour later, the three doctors were gathered back in the exam room, only one actually resembling a real doctor.
House was sitting in the wheelchair with his left leg elevated, his sweatpants covering the bandages and brace. Wilson was reluctantly taking up residence on the exam table, sans shirt and tie.
"Ha! I win." House declared, pointing an accusing finger at him, and then raising it in triumph. "that's a hundred you now owe me."
"Oh...shut up. It's not fractured! It's a chip!" Wilson desperately argued, "and I never made that bet in the first place!" He was being double teamed.
"Wanna shake on it?" House held out his right hand and leaned forward enough to stick that hand basically in his lap.
Wilson leaned away from the offered hand, "ha ha, very funny." His elbow twinged just thinking about the action. It was already aching from all of the twisting and manipulating Dr Masterson and his assistants had done in the last half hour.
"I believe the definition of a chip is when a piece fractures away from the bone." House stated. He had that smug look on his face. The one he liked to wear when he knew he was right, which, unfortunately was most of the time.
"Thank you, Dr. Webster," Wilson replied with disdain.
Wilson continued to sit on the exam table like a punished child, cradling his injured elbow protectively in his lap. Goosebumps broke out on his bare arms as his eyes fixated on his dress shirt and tie hanging loosely on the hook behind the door. Maybe if he focused hard enough, he could will them back across the room and into his lap. Right. And maybe his name was Obi-Wan Kenobi.
His eyes wandered back to his so-called friend sitting a mere three feet from him, leaning back in the wheel chair with arms crossed, still wearing that damn smirk on his face.
This was mutiny. Not only had House mislead him into hostile territory, he found the natives to be very demanding and non-negotiable. They attacked from all sides and had him surrounded before he could set up a defense.
As soon as House left the room, Masterson had wrapped a meathook of a hand around his shoulder and led him to the exam table. It was futile to try and escape. After all, the man was an ex-lineman in the NFL. He was a good six inches taller and probably outweighed him by a hundred pounds. Wilson decided to surrender and live to fight another day.
Masterson then completed a thorough exam of his injured arm, all the while talking about how House had concocted this elaborate plan to trap Wilson in the exam room with the orthopedic doctor. Masterson explained, while probing his elbow, "but that all went out the window when you mentioned his fall in the bathroom. Worked out perfectly, don't you think?" As Wilson succumbed to the exam, Masterson looked up from his exam and met Wilson's eyes, "You know, this just means he cares about you."
Wilson wasn't sure how he had felt about that. On one hand, he was flattered that House did care enough to want him to seek medical attention. On the other hand, why couldn't he be like a normal person and say, "hey, I'm concerned about you and I think you should get that arm checked." But since when had House ever been normal?
"House can be very cunning, don't you think?." Masterson stated, sounding like he was trying to exculpate himself from this entire sting operation.
"If that's what you want to call it."
"I had already suspected something was up the other day when you nearly cried after shaking my hand," Masterson added while poking and prodding the tender elbow.
"I wasn't crying. It hurt, okay?" Wilson said, defending himself.
"And yet, you ignored it," added Masterson, "gee, that sounds vaguely familiar. I think House is rubbing off on you."
He was about to say the same thing to him. His earlier comment about him crying was definitely something House would blurt out to one of his own patients.
House sure did have a way of rubbing off on others just like a damned dry-erase marker. No matter how hard you tried, you always ended up getting some on you.
Why had he felt like he had to defend himself? House was going to need help during the next month or so and he wanted to be there for him. Simple as that. He wasn't ignoring his own injury so much as he was trying to fight through the pain, wanting to be there for House, who, in his mind was in a much more difficult situation than dealing with just a sore elbow.
Maybe it was more than that. Was he just being a good friend or was it something else? He had already failed miserably at his first attempt playing the superhero, sending House to the hospital with a badly broken leg. Maybe in his own mind he was trying to make amends for getting his friend into this situation in the first place. Damn his own ridiculous sense of responsibility with a side dish of guilty conscience thrown in for good measure.
After more poking and prodding, he had been escorted to radiology by a different assistant. Was her name Kathy? Katie? Something like that. He couldn't remember offhand.
Radiology had been an experience in and of itself, causing him to come up with all kinds of new names for the assistant. His arm was bent into impossible positions while X-rays were snapped. Spikes of pain shot through his elbow with each new position. He was suddenly understanding House's dislike for anyone involved in orthopedics.
A pang of sympathy went out for his friend, wondering what he must have gone through not only recently with his broken leg but with the infarction as well. Those rehab appointments must have been hell for him. House's bad moods following his ortho appointments made much more sense to him now.
When Wilson finally returned to the exam room, his elbow had been on fire, arm lying helplessly in his lap.
Back in the office, Masterson looked at Wilson with a cunning grin. "Guess what? You get to schedule some surgery with me."
Wilson's mouth dropped open as his stomach started doing flips. Surgery? He knew it wouldn't just go away on its own but he had other priorities, like helping out House. There was no way he could do the surgery now.
That baritone voice interrupted his thoughts. "See here? Olecranon fracture." A massive finger pointed at the culprit on the film. "Possibly impinging on the ulnar nerve."
Well, that would explain the lightning bolts shooting down his arm whenever he rotated it or tried to make a fist.
Wilson went on the defense. "Can't it wait? I need to help House with-"
"Yeah, you did a great job with that yesterday," House scoffed, "remember the part where you dropped me on my head?"
"Obviously not hard enough..." Wilson mumbled at the wall. House did have a point though. How was he to be the physical support House needed when the slightest jolt to his arm sent him to his knees?
House ignored the jibe,"just get it done and you'll be back saving the world and doing breast exams in no time." House's demeanor suddenly softened, blue eyes meeting his with what looked like a bit of concern. "It's obviously bothering you."
"Honestly, it doesn't hurt that much. Only when I bump it or make a fist...or grasp things."
The other two doctors stared suspiciously at Wilson as he tried to plead his case.
Masterson leaned against the edge of the counter. "Well, I guess as long as you never bump your elbow, hold anything or ever move it, you should be just fine."
Wilson raised his left hand in defeat. "Okay, okay. I get your point." The pain was getting worse, he just didn't want to admit it. Surgery was inevitable.
"It'll be a piece of cake." Masterson was playing the doctor role perfectly.
"Yeah, for you." Why was he making this such a big deal? It was a simple procedure that would take no more than a half hour. Maybe because he felt a deep seeded obligation to help his friend. Be his so-called 'leg' to stand on. God, he was sounding so corny. Maybe he should start humming 'Lean on Me' and really give House some ammunition for his already full arsenal of biting remarks about his own need for neediness.
"You'll be home by noon. Once that bone chip is removed, it'll feel much better. You'll only be laid up for a day or so, probably in a sling for less than a week. Of course you won't be able to lift heavy things, like your briefcase or House for a few weeks."
"He loves to bench press me at home. How will he survive?" House interrupted.
"Here. This should help until you see me again." Wilson's elbow was gently wrapped in soft gauze for protection. Then he was handed his dress shirt which he carefully pulled over the wrapped arm.
"Do you think you need a sling?" The orthopedist asked while writing something in Wilson's chart.
Wilson contemplated the idea all of about one second. "No, it's okay. I need to drive home and it's really not that bad," he lied. He looked down at his sleeve, the thin fabric stretched over the area around his elbow. He looked like a mutated version of Popeye. Slowly, he flexed his elbow. The wrap was snug but not too tight. It still allowed some motion but would help protect it from any further bumps.
Masterson returned his attention back to House. "You need to let me know when things like this happen," he said, gesturing towards his outstretched leg.
"If you figure out how, let me know," Wilson added, slowly getting up from the exam table.
Masterson tapped on House's left thigh lightly. "I'll get you in a cast hopefully by the end of the week once we get those staples out."
"I can't wait...," House replied flatly as he reached for the metal rims of the wheelchair and pivoted around in place and headed for the door, Wilson following closely behind.