Author's Note: Inspired by Prompt #16: A patient predicts that House will die in three days. House thinks it's a load of crap, but Chase doesn't. Does he try to save House? What if House really does need saving? I sort of took it down another track, though. You'll see.
Die Another Day
The door shut behind them, and House continued walking. He ignored his team, who had very obviously been expecting him to stop and talk about what had just happened in the room. House wasn't so keen on the idea. However, taking them by surprise really only delayed them, which was why he heard footsteps running up behind him not thirty seconds later. Grimacing, House didn't even look behind him to see who had followed him.
"I'm not going to die," he said loudly, causing several other people to glance his way.
"Really," House said, cutting Cameron across. The footsteps persisted. "And if I do, I promise I'll leave you with a good recommendation for your next job. Boy Scout's honor."
"I'm not saying that I believe you're going to die in three days," Cameron said defensively. "But everything else she's predicted has come true."
"Then why am I the one trying to figure out what's wrong with her?" House asked.
He heard Cameron sigh. "Don't you feel a little bit disturbed? Someone just told you that you're going to die."
"People tell me that I'm going to do all sorts of things," House said, heading for the elevators. The plan was to jump on a really crowded one and lose Cameron. "Nine times out of ten, they don't happen. Take Cuddy, for example. She—"
"Just be cautious for a few days," Cameron said, a note of pleading in her voice. "Indulge me. I don't want to go job-hunting."
House used his cane to punch the elevator button. His plan hadn't worked so well, as there wasn't a soul to be found in the hallway, but maybe he could get on and close the doors real quick. "I'll be careful. Just for you, Cameron, because I wouldn't want to put you through the trouble of finding another misanthropic boss to fall in love with. I hear that a lot of them are taken, these days."
"Be serious," Cameron said, finally stepping into his line of vision.
House held up his left pinky. "I solemnly swear."
With a frustrated huff, Cameron spun on her heel and marched away.
The elevator doors opened with a ding.
An hour later, House had his ducklings assembled in the conference room. They were shooting out diagnosis after diagnosis, almost faster than House could shoot them down, and the most irritating part of it all wasn't even the fact that Cameron was giving him mournful looks whenever she thought he wasn't looking. It was the fact that even Foreman—freaking Foreman—seemed to believe that this woman could predict the future. They kept excluding it as a symptom.
House scowled as Foreman suggested leukemia, and pulled out his bottle of Vicodin. "Leukemia doesn't cause any mental problems," he said, leaning back in his chair (after ten minutes of standing and not receiving a single satisfactory diagnosis, he'd given up and sat down). "Next."
"We really don't have any evidence of mental problems," Cameron pointed out.
House opened his mouth.
"Even if the fortune-telling isn't real," Cameron added hastily. "Lots of people believe they can see into the future or into your past lives and stuff. It doesn't make them psychotic."
"It makes them quacks," House said irritably. "We're treating it as a symptom. This could be the first step in a series of progressions—what disease starts with symptoms like tingling in the extremities and magical powers? None. What disease starts with symptoms like tingling in the extremities and thinking you have magical powers?"
"Tumor," Chase said.
House rattled his bottle, checking to make sure that they'd filled it with the full seventy pills he was owed, and then twisted off the cap. "Where?"
"Spinal cord, probably," Chase said with a shrug. "Or maybe it started in the brain and metastasized."
"If she had any metastasized tumors, she would have been dead by now," House said, but the idea was worth some consideration. He set down the open bottle of Vicodin and stood up, grabbed his cane, and limped over to the white board. "Tumor. Somewhere in the spinal cord and/or brain. I'm glad we're narrowing this down."
"What if there's a problem with the meninges?" Foreman suggested. "It could caused reduced blood flow, which would cause—"
"Migraines," House said, cutting him across. "Which our patient has no history of."
Three pagers went off, just as he finished speaking.
"Janet," Cameron said, getting out of her chair. "It's a 911 page."
House jerked his thumb at the door, although it wasn't really necessary for him to have to tell his team to go. Foreman and Chase were already up and out of their seats, pushing chairs in and getting ready to leave the room—except that as Chase walked past the table, he bumped it.
Pills went everywhere, and the bottle rolled into one of the legs of the table.
"Chase!" House barked, and all three of them froze, nearly out the door. "Pick it up!"
Cameron and Foreman were out like shots, leaving House and Chase alone.
House pointed to the mess of pills all over the floor. "Pick it up. And make sure you get all seventy of them."
Obviously gritting his teeth in irritation, Chase crossed over to the table in two strides and crouched down to begin picking up the pills one by one and placing them back in the little orange tube. House scowled at him, and then turned to the white board and grudgingly added Foreman's diagnosis to the small list they'd come up with. A glance at the clock told him that it was nearly dinner time, which meant that he would have to go over to Wilson's office and bother him for money pretty soon. If he waited much longer, Wilson would leave for the day and he'd have to pay for food with his own money.
"Um, House?" Chase said hesitantly.
Rolling his eyes and readying himself for whatever stupid question Chase had for him, House turned around. "What?"
"How many of these have you taken?" Chase asked. He was down on his knees, but he'd stopped picking them up and was holding a single pill between his fingers.
House frowned suspiciously. "Why?"
Chase glanced up at him. "These aren't Vicodin. They're 40mg Ritalin capsules. If you've taken more than two of these today, we need to get you down to the ER and—"
"I haven't taken any yet," House interrupted, before Chase could start panicking.
"The pharmacy must have mixed them up," Chase said, pushing himself up off the ground and showing the handful of pills to House. "They're damn lucky you didn't take any of these. At the rate you go through Vicodin, you'd have been dead by tomo—"
"Yeah, I know," House snapped, turning away from Chase to head toward the door. "Go rip Marco a new one, get me more Vicodin, and then find out what happened to the witch."
He heard Chase sigh, just before he pushed open the door.
"House? I heard about what happened with your Vicodin," Cameron said softly as she entered the room.
House, having just sat down with his dinner, looked up at the unpleasant interruption with a scowl on his face. "And you felt the need to come in and announce that?"
Cameron stopped just before his desk, eyeing the sandwich and bag of Skittles sitting on House's desk. "No. But, I mean, if you'd taken those drugs... House, you would have died."
"Yes, I know that," House said. He began peeling off the plastic wrap from his sandwich. "Lucky thing Chase was there to save me."
Blinking, Cameron paused for a moment. House could practically see her summoning resolve. "Don't you remember? Janet said that you'd be dead in three days. I just... Doesn't that kind of freak you out? Do you really think that was just a coincidence?"
"Yep," House said, nodding. He reached behind his desk and pulled out a dollar. "Here. Go buy me a Coke. Keep the change."
Cameron stared at the bill. "It's a dollar fifty for a Coke."
House extended his hand further. "Then you can keep your own change. Go on, run along."
It looked like Cameron wasn't going to take the it, but then Chase came in with a file in his hand, and she snatched the dollar bill out of his hand and walked away. Chase looked over his shoulder, clearly surprised by Cameron's abrupt departure, but he continued walking towards House's desk after a second or two. He blew out a breath as he stopped, standing about three feet farther away from House's desk than Cameron had had the decency to do, and opened the file.
"Spinal tap was negative," Chase announced.
House held back a sigh of his own. Damn.
Chase had to take a step forward to get within reach, but he held out the file for House to take. "Nothing unusual. We finished the procedure just as another migraine came on, and as long as it persists, we can't redo the test. So no redo for a while. Sorry."
Nodding, House skimmed the results, but Chase was right. Everything was normal.
"All right," House said, handing Chase the file. "So what next?"
Chase shrugged. "Well, I don't think we've given her a pelvic exam yet."
House forced his snort of laughter to die soundlessly in his throat. "You're not funny. Give me ideas." He reached for his red tennis ball and threw it at Chase, and then started working on the plastic wrap around his sandwich.
"Full body scan," Chase said after a pause.
"I hate full body scans," House said, peeling the rest of the plastic wrap off of his sandwich. "They take forever. And you're talking needles in haystacks—except everything that resembles a needle has to be carefully processed, tested and treated."
"What else is there left to do? And it's evening. We'll do the test, and you can go home and sleep. Everybody wins." Chase shrugged one shoulder and gave House a sort of strained smile.
House took a large bite of his sandwich to give him time to think it over. He hated full body scans. Even if he didn't have to put up with the actual doing of the test, there would still be hours of analysis that he'd have to participate in and no matter how benign and unrelated their findings were, they still had to treat it. It would take the better part of tomorrow, and the longer it took to agonize over hundreds of photos the longer they were allowing Jane or whatever the hell her name was to deteriorate.
He swallowed, ready to tell Chase that they needed to brainstorm one more time to make sure that they were really ready to go so broad with their tests, when something caught in his throat. Something—something that wasn't food. It was like a rubber stopper, lodging itself in his throat and sealing off the passageway to his lungs. House tried to cough, but it wasn't moving. He couldn't breathe.
"House? House, are you okay?"
House nodded, but Chase wasn't listening to him. He came up to the desk and leaned over, looking House in the eyes.
"Are you choking? Can you breathe at all?" Chase asked, grabbing the sandwich out of his hands and setting it down on the desk.
Desperate to breathe, House shook his head and tried to cough again. He could feel his throat tightening and his eyes began to water. Panic was setting in.
"Shit," he heard Chase mutter, and then suddenly he was gone. He couldn't see Chase anymore. Where had he gone? What was going on? He couldn't breathe, he needed to get air fast because his vision was started to blacken and his lungs were burning like someone had thrown a lit match down there.
Then someone was pulling him to his feet, out of his chair and up on his feet except he didn't want to stand—he couldn't support himself. He was getting dizzy and—
Something squeezed his stomach hard, and he felt the most peculiar sensation in his throat. Then it was there again, compressing his middle and straining his lungs as they tried to expel air but were blocked. His vision was really fading now, and House could hear his heart beating like it was in his ears. He felt himself stumble, but then he was squeezed again, and something in his throat came rushing up into his mouth, and he gagged. Coughing, choking, he found himself doubled over as the thing fought its way up through his mouth. It was on his tongue, all over his tongue and he couldn't—couldn't—
And then it was out.
House's vision swam, and he would have fallen over if it weren't for someone's arms around his stomach. He was wheezing and coughing, and he swore that if those were tears running down his face he was going to punch Chase in the face for not getting whatever it had been out of his throat sooner.
Right. Chase. He would be the one who had his arms wrapped around House's waist.
"I'm fine," House rasped, blinking around until he caught sight of his chair. Walking shakily forward (Chase didn't let go), House made it to his chair and collapsed into it. He felt exhausted, and it hurt to breathe. His head spun.
"It's... It's a coupon," Chase said slowly, from somewhere else in the room. "It must have been slipped into your sandwich by accident."
House opened his eyes and looked around the room. Eventually, he zeroed in on Chase and their eyes locked.
"Coincidence," he said, and even though it came out in only whisper, the word weighed heavily enough. House knew that Janet's prediction was settling just as heavily on Chase's mind as it was on his.
Chase blinked, and then dropped the coupon into the trashcan. "Coincidence."
House was up on the roof. He hadn't come up here to escape, just to be alone—if that made any sense. Their patient was still deteriorating, and despite Chase's offer for a night off while his ducklings worked on the full body scan, House hadn't been able to go home. Maybe if he'd spent last night at the hospital, but now, he was running on last night's sleep just fine. Here at the hospital, he'd get updates within minutes and wouldn't have to drive all the way back to the hospital to deal with them.
The sun was almost set, casting a few last rays of pink and gold over the edge of the sky as it died. House liked this kind of weather. It was hot, but not muggy, and the sound of crickets and a pick-up game of baseball almost reminded him of a few happier days in his childhood. He was sitting on the ledge of the building, wishing that he'd thought to being a cigarette or two up with him. If there was one thing that would make this dusky setting perfect, it would be a cigarette. And maybe a few lovely entertaining ladies.
The sound of feet interrupted his summery bliss, and House inhaled a long breath before turning to the intruders.
Foreman and Chase. Spectacular.
"Done so fast?" House asked, arching an eyebrow.
They stopped in front of him, Foreman in those ludicrous pink scrubs of his. House watched them exchange a glance, and just when he was about to demand that one of them speak, Foreman opened his mouth.
"They've medicated her for the migraine, but now we can't do the MRI. They've got her on an EKG for the next hour or so," Foreman said. There was a bit of defiance in his posture, which irritated House almost as much as the bad news did.
"Excellent," he said dryly. If only he had that cigarette, he could have paused and taken a long drag, right there, thus creating a dramatic pause before he revealed his position. But again, there were no cigarettes up on the roof with him. So he had to make do with glancing up to the sky thoughtfully. "Wait it out. There's nothing—"
Something went streaking through the air like a bullet, and then there was a sickening crack, and Chase went cross-eyed. A second later, he slumped and would have fell to the ground if Foreman hadn't caught him. House watched as Foreman lowered Chase to the ground carefully, and then his eyes went past Chase to see a baseball rolling to a stop over by the boiler.
House glanced behind him and down at the seventy foot-or-so fall that awaited him. He swallowed, knowing that if Chase hadn't been standing there to take the blow, the baseball would have hit him in the head and sent him backwards over the ledge, and he would have fallen to his death.
So maybe it wasn't coincidence after all.