This was written for the lj sickhouse birthday challenge. I threw it together faster than anything else I've written before. I didn't stick to any POV's and jumped around but had fun writing it. It's a bit crackish but I love Kutner and his klutzy ways!
The Wrath of Klutzner
Kutner strained to reach the corner of the letter 'H' as he taped the 'Happy Birthday' sign in place, nearly falling into the vertical blinds that had been closed to keep the little surprise secret.
"Are you trying to kill yourself?" Thirteen asked nonchalantly while she placed a stack of blue napkins on the meeting table next to the plasticware and the flimsy paper cups. In the middle of the table sat a rectangular birthday cake covered in chocolate icing with a white border. The words "Happy Birthday" were scrolled in white across the top. Luckily, flowers were nowhere to be seen on the brown icon of dietary decadence.
"We've got to have a 'Happy Birthday' sign. What's a party without decorations?" Kutner answered while standing tiptoe on the edge of the table, precariously balanced on one foot while his pointer finger pressed against the shiny gold letter 'H'.
Taub chimed in, making sure to keep his distance from possible calamity, he made himself comfortable in the computer desk chair in the corner of the meeting room. "I wouldn't constitute this as a," he raised his fingers and made quotation marks in the air, "party."
He had doubts about this whole party thing when Thirteen had made the mistake of mentioning it was House's birthday after seeing it on a piece of mail she'd opened. But Kutner kicked into overdrive, demanding to have a so called "surprise" party, busying himself with ordering a cake, buying a sign, some crepe paper, candles... the Monster Truck plates and cups. Personally, he thought the Monster Truck theme was a bit much, unless it was for some kid's eighth birthday. Taub thought for a moment about House's behavior: the toys, the scooter, his games... okay, maybe the theme was age appropriate in this case.
"Dammit!" was heard as the birthday sign fluttered to the floor in a pile of vowels and consonants. Kutner took his eyes off the floor and glanced at the other fellows lounging casually. "Anyone here interested in giving me a hand?"
"Not really. You know House hates these things," Taub retorted casually from the corner.
"He liked my Secret Santa idea."
"That's because he figured out a way to manipulate a gift from all of us," Thirteen answered, skimming through the day's mail. "By the way, where is House?"
"Oh, Wilson's got him doing a 'consult' on one of his patients. He'll keep him down there for another ten minutes or so." Kutner replied, climbing off the table and on to one of the chairs. "He agreed to be the distraction."
"I also heard him say how this wasn't a good idea," Taub stated matter-of-factly.
"Come on. Who would want to purposefully avoid their birthday?" Kutner fought with the scrambled letters that now read 'hpapy brihtady.'
"He would." All three answered in unison.
Foreman continued to read his journal, keeping up his air of superiority.
Thirteen sighed and got up from the table, grabbed the other end of the jumbled sign and helped untangle the letters dangling from the string. She held it out with both arms extended as Kutner ventured back up to the glass table top.
"So, did you guys get him anything?"
"Um, no." Taub answered flatly. "Since we just found out about two hours ago that it was his birthday." replied Taub
"I got him a new game for his PSP. It's called Lemmings," he announced proudly, a goofy smile on his face. "You have control over all these lemmings and you can make them perform all sorts of tasks."
"Doesn't he already do that in real life? Why would he need the game?" Came the response from the computer desk.
After the "Y" was secured in place with a piece of medical tape, Kutner looked down at the ridiculously large pile of party paraphernalia he had picked up at the store when he picked up the cake. "Hey, throw me the crepe paper."
Thirteen threw the little blue coil up to him, who then taped it in the corner and flung it back to Thirteen. He jumped off the table and moved across the room to the food counter and leapt up on the flat surface, holding the coiled roll in his left hand. Quickly, he taped the other end of the streamer in place, then set about doing the same in the other half of the room, making a blue crisscross over the table.
Candles were dug out of a bag and placed firmly in the cake. "I wanted to get forty-nine candles but just got a 4 and a 9 instead."
Kutner reached into a plain paper bag and fished out a bottle of champagne. All three of the doctors raised an eyebrow. "What? It's after hours, we don't have a patient and we're all legal here. Oh, I need a knife too."
Foreman actually moved from his perch and reached behind him to open a drawer under the coffee maker, pulling out something Rambo might have carried on him.
"I don't need to decapitate the cake, just cut it," Kutner replied, a bit hesitant to take the potential weapon from Foreman.
Foreman added, "I think House got that in Japan or something. It's either that or a plastic butter knife. And I still don't know why you're doing this. You're just trying to piss him off, aren't you?"
He took the black handle gently and stared at the twelve inch blade glittering against the fluorescent lights, then placed it gently on the table next to the cake, careful not to remove a finger in the process.
"What time is it?"
"Damn! They'll be back up soon! Kill the lights!" Thirteen nonchalantly reached up and flipped the switch with the flick of a finger as she rolled her eyes.
"The blinds are already closed. Don't you think he'll be suspicious enough already?" Thirteen responded while she sat in the darkened room with her elbows resting on the table, her head resting on her palms. The late afternoon sun was cutting through the closed blinds on the window, casting a soft glow throughout the room.
"He'll think we all went home," Kutner answered, a devious smile still glued to his face.
"Maybe we should prove that theory correct," came the smart-alec remark from Taub.
Kutner picked up the green bottle sitting on the end of the table. "Let's have a little refreshment ready before he gets here." He raised his eyebrows and smirked. "You guys need to loosen up a bit." He unwrapped the foil from the top of the bottle, revealing the white plastic cork, and started to twist. Bending over, he tried to put all his muscle into loosening the top, hands firmly gripped around the bottle. His face turned red with exertion as the little piece of plastic mocked him.
"Damn, I hate these things," he muttered while continuing his battle with the bottle.
The three other doctors continued to watch with amusement as Kutner became a contortionist trying to complete the simple task.
"Hand me that knife, would you?" Kutner asked, slightly out of breath.
Thirteen complied and he promptly levered the thick blade into the gap between the bottle and cork, the knife blade looking like a guillotine, the bottle-Marie Antoinette.
Foreman once again added his brilliant insight into the situation. "You're trying to win a trip to the ER, aren't you?"
"Don't worry. I've got it." Kutner grimaced as he started levering the blade up and down and back and forth, the cork finally creeping its way upward.
"Hey! You mind pointing that thing someplace else?" Taub demanded as he lifted a protective hand to his face.
"Sorry." He pivoted around as he heard the sound of the office door opening. The cork released with a loud 'POP' as a "Son of a-" echoed through the office, followed by the sound of wood clattering against glass and hitting the carpeted floor with a dull thud.
All three doctors looked up in surprise at the sudden racket, only to see their boss hunched over at the waist with both hands covering his face, his cane left abandoned on the floor in front of Wilson, who had been following behind.
Wilson's mouth dropped open as he watched House fold up in front of him, unaware of what just happened. He immediately placed a supportive arm around House's waist and a hand on House's hunched shoulder. "House?"
"Dammit..." Came the muffled reply from under a pair of hands clamped firmly over his face. Breathing heavily, House took a stutter step to regain his balance before he fell in a heap on top of Wilson.
Kutner stood speechless with the champagne bottle still clasped in his left hand and the machete in his right, looking like an extra out of some strange, twisted gladiator movie.
The others jumped into action: Taub jumped up and grabbed House's left elbow to help balance him as Thirteen pulled out a chair. The three doctors stumbled their way the few steps to the table and plopped House down in the empty chair. House's hands were still clamped over the right side of his face, making it difficult to really see what and how much damage there was. Foreman remained passive, casting a wary eye in their direction, waiting to see what developed.
Wilson saw the opened champagne bottle in Kutner's hand. "Where'd it hit you?"
"Where do you think?" He lifted his head to face Wilson, his right palm firmly planted over his right eye. His left eye fought hard to open as the tears flowed involuntarily from both eyes.
"You idiot!" House yelled as he tried to glare at Kutner through a furiously blinking and watering left eye. Kutner looked like he was ready to crawl under the whiteboard and blend in with the carpet.
"Come on. Move your hand. Let me take a look." Wilson tried to pry House's hand away from his face, meeting with resistance.
"Don't touch me." House held his ground, fighting against the fingers wrapped tightly around his wrist. "Go away. I'm fine."
"Then there should be no reason to not let me see." Wilson didn't relent.
"Double negative. Cute."
"Whatever works," Wilson answered. "Open." They were currently in a tug of war over House's wrist.
Wilson wiped away some of the tears streaming over House's cheeks with the back of his sleeve, working around the large hand over House's right eye, leaving little grey blotches on his white dress shirt.
"Just for the record, I am NOT crying," House stated, sniffing as his sinuses began to react to the newly produced tears.
"Sure, you're not." Wilson smiled as he once again tried to move House's hand out of the way. "Come on. I want to see."
"So do I." House added bluntly.
"Then let me take a look." House acquiesced and lowered his hand reluctantly. His eyelids were gently pried open by Wilson's thumb and forefinger, revealing a bright blue iris, but instead of the bright white Wilson was used to seeing, it was surrounded by a bright red background. The surrounding eyelid was irritated and swollen. He couldn't see anything physically in the eye, but it was hard to tell for sure. Wilson furrowed his eyebrows as he continued concentrating on the ocular injury. "Can you see anything out of it?"
House fought against his body's natural reflexes and tried to keep his quivering, watering eye open for inspection. "Kinda hard with your finger in it." His eye darted every direction, rolling around within the socket, resembling a chameleon with a bad case of pink eye. Wilson released the eyelid and stepped back, waiting for House's self assessment.
"Blurry." House squinted against the overhead lights. "Photophobia." He pinched his eyes shut tightly again. "Hurts like hell," completing his own differential.
"You've got some bleeding. We need to get you down to the clinic. Have an ophthalmologist check you out. Walk or ride?"
House attempted to scowl at the blurry figure above him, but turned away from the overhead lights, shielding his eyes from the annoying glare. Instead, he turned his head toward his employee standing shell-shocked a few feet away. "And you're fired!" he yelled before lowering his head and putting the palm of his hand flat against his eye, trying desperately to keep himself from rubbing furiously at the burning and irritation.
Wilson made eye contact with Kutner and gave him a quick reassuring shake of his head then turned his attention back to House.
"You didn't answer my question. Walk or ride?" Wilson had taken on his Superman pose as he waited for an answer. "And don't rub it."
"I'm not!" House countered, raising his head, anger filling his voice. He contemplated his situation for a few seconds. As much as he hated to rely on a wheelchair, he knew it would be the quickest way to the clinic without some other catastrophe occurring between here and the first floor. Both of his eyes were blurry with tears, the right one completely useless right now. His right hand seemed to have developed a mind of its own, becoming permanently attached to the right side of his face. Besides, he had placed too much weight on his leg after dropping the cane, and it was pissed off just enough to possibly give out at an inopportune time.
He took a deep breath to compose himself before continuing. "Ride... Just get me a hat or something." Kutner grabbed the hat off the brain model on top of the bookshelf and went to hand it to House but was met with a one-eyed scowl.
House pointed a finger at his lackey. "And YOU stay away from me. I don't need to lose a limb or catch fire before I get there." Kutner looked deflated as he handed the hat to Wilson, who flipped it onto House's lap.
Taub had stolen a wheelchair from the hallway and pulled it up in front of House who stood quickly and pivoted on his left foot to plop down into the black seat. He leaned on the arm rest with his right elbow, his hand covering the right side of his face and the brim of his hat pulled low over his forehead.
"Stop rubbing it," Wilson ordered from behind the chair as he pushed House out into the hallway.
"I'm not rubbing it! God, you're annoying."
The four doctors continued to listen to the two department heads bicker all the way to the elevator.
They waited in the room for word on House's condition. Foreman and Taub seemed unfazed by the entire event, Foreman almost looking slightly amused as he continued reading the same journal from earlier. Kutner was sitting at the table with his head in his hands, looking like his life was officially over. Thirteen was licking some chocolate frosting off her finger.
Taub finally spoke up. "Just out of curiosity, where'd you have the champagne?"
"It was in my car. I brought it in after work. Didn't want to be caught with it during regular hours."
"So you left a bottle of champagne in a car in the middle of June." Taub shook his head slightly in disappointment. "Rule number one, never open warm champagne. Don't you ever read those New Years safety bulletins?"
"It's not New Years. Do you think he's gonna fire me?"
"Doubt it. Cole punched him and he still had a job...at least for a few more weeks..." Taub's words trailed off. "It was an accident. It's not like you tried to shoot his eye out."
"Thanks for the reassurance."
"Should we just cut the cake anyway?" Thirteen asked. By now she had taken several samples of the rich chocolate frosting. "I doubt House will care."
All four were picking at their dessert when Wilson entered the room, causing them to look up expectantly, waiting on word about House.
"How is he? I didn't blind him, did I?" Kutner anxiously asked.
"No, he's not blind," reassured Wilson while glancing around the room for something, "looks like a corneal abrasion with some bleeding in the sclera. Probably will have a heck of a shiner too, from the looks of it. The ophthalmologist was working on him when I left." He saw Kutner's face, feeling sorry for the relatively new employee. "He's going to be fine. Don't worry." Wilson's eyes continued to scan the area. "Where's his cane?"
Kutner motioned with his head toward the black flame cane hanging on the whiteboard. "Is he still mad at me?"
Wilson rubbed the back of his neck. "He's a little pissed off as you can imagine. So, just...whatever comes out of his mouth.. don't take it...just...better yet, ignore him." He grabbed the cane and headed out the door.
Taub got up and placed a comforting hand on Kutner's shoulders. "Look at it this way, at least House didn't have a heart attack and you needed to use the defibrillator on him."
"Ha, very funny."
"Come on. He'll get over it and we'll all look back on this and laugh some day... or maybe it'll be today." Taub stifled a slight chuckle, his shoulders shaking a bit as a result.
They decided to go ahead and eat cake on flimsy paper plates.
The door swung open gently as Wilson held it for House, who sported a gauze white pressure patch held in place with surgical tape, leaving an X across House's right eye. The other one set in a scowl, his eyebrows almost meeting his cheeks, well, at least on the left side. He limped through the open door like a one-eyed lion on the hunt, scanning the room for his next victim. Unexpectedly, he turned towards Wilson, wheeling around farther to the right than normal to face him with his one good eye. "Don't start."
"What?!" Wilson raised his hands and shrugged, trying to figure out what the hell he did wrong now.
"Holding the door open. In case you haven't noticed, I can still see the door, despite Kutner's best efforts."
Wilson held his hands up in defense. "Fine, next time I'll let the door break your nose."
House glanced around the room, taking in the party favors, 'Happy Birthday' sign, the Monster Truck plates and cups, before focusing on the champagne bottle for a moment, glaring at the object as if it were to blame.
He addressed the whole group. "Glad to see you're celebrating MY birthday without ME. Seems a little odd, doesn't it?"
"Well, we uh... didn't think you'd be in the mood when you got...so we thought we'd just go ahead without you," Kutner stammered as he watched House limp to the table and have a seat in his usual spot at the end.
"Sure. While you were all up here doing the team bonding thing and singing Kumbaya, I've been down in the clinic having my eye put back in its socket." Wilson suddenly became very interested in the ceiling tiles as he listened to House's dramatics.
"Oh, please. You have a scratch on your eye." Wilson corrected, his own eye-roll resonating through his voice.
"Still doesn't mean I couldn't have lost my eye."
"I could have."
Wilson ended the childish spat. "Just shut up and have some cake."
"I would if someone would give me a piece. Everyone else seems to be enjoying the fruits of my misfortune, or should I say the bad luck of being on the receiving end of the wrath of Klutzner."
The rest of the team held back snickers as Kutner stuck out his lip and pouted a bit.
"Where's my cake?" Kutner reached for the knife lying on the table when he felt a firm grip around his wrist as the knife was taken out of his grasp and into House's right hand, who then proceeded to hand the utensil over to Thirteen.
House turned toward his young employee. "And from now on, you are not allowed to play with sharp objects, electrical devices, possible projectiles, breakable glasses, flammable items, defibrillators, or any other potentially harmful object, especially when I'M in the room. Got it?"
"So that means I'm not fired?"
"GOT IT?" House said with a bit more emphasis.
House glanced down with his good eye, noticing the Monster Truck theme hiding under his cake. A slight smile crossed his features. "Cool..." he muttered under his breath.
Kutner couldn't keep his own lip from curling into a genuine smile as he stared across at his boss enjoying his piece of German Chocolate goodness.