Easing the Spring
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: I only came up with the plot for the story. Woe is me.

Summary: Guilty motivation was something he was intimately familiar with.

Notes: I should have started this months ago. I procrastinate. Boo. Reviews are always encouraged and appreciated.


This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger. - The Naming of Parts by Henry Reed

His first thought when Evan's eyes alighted upon Dr. Gregory House's subdued form where it sat hunched in the wheelchair he'd been brought into Dr. Cuddy's office with was that he didn't quite understand how the man was still alive. There was visible patches in his hair where surgery had been performed to suture his scalp shut again and Evan could see angry, strained bruises where he guessed the electrodes Dr. Cuddy had bitterly spoken of had been placed in the ill-fated effort Drs. House and Cuddy's acquaintance, Dr. James Wilson, had insisted Dr. House undergo that led to this moment.

Not that any of them had probably believed it would happen. Evan scratched the side of his face where a cut on his cheek from shaving burned dully. He hated shaving and Dr. Cuddy must have been able to tell he did because she had joked in a melancholy way that Evan need not worry about appearances when speaking to Dr. House because he really had no right to talk and didn't give a damn anyway. Evan glanced down at the thick sheaf of files in his hands and placed his pen on the topmost revealed sheet to mark the place where he'd stopped reading Dr. House's medical history (storied legacy that it was; Evan had laughed ruefully inside and thought that it probably rivaled his own as far as complexity and detail) and stood up to meet his patient.

"Dr. House, this is Dr. Evan Treborn from Sunnyvale Institution in New York. He'd like to speak to you."

Evan watched as Dr. Cuddy tried in vain to get Dr. House to lift his eyes from the arms tightly folded against his chest before clenching her fists slightly and turning back to face him, her face forcefully calm.

"He hasn't spoken much..." she began, but seemed to think differently and tried another tack. "Dr. House usually makes an effort to appear noisy and uncouth, however, for about a week now, he hasn't even bothered to do that. It's as if he's given up..."

Evan could tell from the way Dr. Cuddy bit her lip after what little she'd explained that it cost her dearly to tell him even that much about the man who was now his patient. It made Evan even more intrigued to find out even a little about what this man was ordinarily like. He gave her a small smile and placed Dr. House's file on the couch next to him before getting up to come kneel before Dr. House's wheelchair. He kept his eyes on his patient as he spoke his next words, watching for a reaction and finding none.

"He puts up a front to hide emotions and reactions from other people."

At this, Dr. Cuddy let out a bark of sarcastic laughter. "'Subterfuge' is practically his middle name. It..." she hesitated again, but Evan didn't let his eyes waver from Dr. House's pale, gaunt form.

"It works a little too well a lot of the time."

Evan nodded and straightened back into a standing position. He looked downward at Dr. House's vacant expression and frowned slightly. "I'd like to get another MRI of Dr. House's head before we start -- he'll be getting MRIs and CTs several times during the next few weeks and I need the data to be concise with as few gaps as is humanly possible."

Dr. Cuddy didn't seem to understand why he would ask for so many MRIs but that wasn't something he could explain very easily. How to describe the process of the adult layer of the cerebral cortex rebuilding itself over and over again without tangible proof? Evan knew she was already slightly skeptical and cautious due to his age -- he was used to that. It always took a demonstration of his interactions and results for patients and other doctors to trust his expertise. The idea that a twenty-six year old was capable of heading a practice in neuropsychiatry wasn't something many believed.

Ordinarily, it riled him a bit to hear older doctors wondering why he wasn't still in medical school but Dr. Cuddy seemed to exude an air of resignation and even patience. She hadn't even asked how old he was, simply asking whether he thought he had a valid chance of helping Dr. House. It was clear that the only thing she was focused on now was helping Dr. House. He could respect that.

"Dr. Cuddy, it would be helpful if you talked me through everything Dr. House told you about what led up to his current state."

Dr. Cuddy gave him a watery smile and nodded, watching Evan remove a tape recorder from his suit jacket pocket and turn it on. "It almost feels like I could have prevented this," she told him quietly, her eyes on Dr. House. "I should have told Dr. Wilson he was out of bounds -- admitted Dr. House for treatment instead of making empty threats..."

"You wanted to help Dr. House save Dr. Volakis -- for Dr. Wilson's sake."

Cuddy laughed in a breathless sort of way. "Of all the times I've told him what a selfish ass he is...he had to go and prove me wrong in the worst way possible. I should have stepped in, but I didn't.

I knew that Wilson wasn't acting rationally, that he was using Dr. House's guilt to get what he wanted. He's done it to me enough times...maybe I was trying to ignore it so I wouldn't feel so..."

Dr. Cuddy's thin veneer of calm slipped and a trail of tears slid down each plane of her cheeks. "House was trying to make up for something he didn't even do. He just wanted to save Amber's life."

Evan's heart hitched in his chest and he inhaled sharply. Guilty motivation was something he was intimately familiar with.

"Let's get started."

...So everybody will ask what became of you...'Cause your heart was dying fast and you didn't know what to do...