Easing the Spring
By Angelfirenze

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

Summary: "Look -- we at least want to see if we can help. Dr. House's new team deserves the same chance to learn from him that you, Chase, Cameron, and I got. And that includes the ridiculous grading scale, the mockery, the bets, and everything else." Then a small smile grew. "Besides, we got to treat him several times for something life-threatening and who are we not to give them the chance to do the same?"

Notes: Yes, Wilson infuriates me. Don't ask me why I still love him. I love a lot of infuriating people -- so really this is no different. I still want to beat him over the head with a shovel and would smile while doing so, but I'll probably feel really bad about it afterward. nods ...Probably.

Reviews are always encouraged and appreciated.

Part I: Preparation

...Nine to five, living lies...Every day, stealing time...

Evan switched on the tape recorder and set it on the table before turning around to watch Dr. Cuddy talking softly to Dr. House as she and Dr. Chase got him situated in the MRI tube. They forced themselves to smile cheerfully and make jokes while Dr. Cuddy twisted the earplugs and inserted them into Dr. House's ears. Evan noticed that Dr. House had a pronounced delay in movement on his right side and wondered what the right side of Dr. House's brain would look like once they turned the imager on. Dr. Cuddy had told him that the fracture on his left side had been aggravated during the deep brain stimulation procedure and that the fractured bone had sliced into his temporal lobe. The resulting damage had been repaired to the best of the neurosurgery staff's ability, but Dr. House's ability to function -- already significantly impaired -- was now drastically further decreased. He had also begun suffering complex-partial seizures, originating mostly in his feet and ascending upward. He was currently on a polytherapy of minimal amounts of alprazolam and diazepam until they could find a suitable non-addictive alternative. He tracked their strides as they walked back into the observation room and Evan glanced at Dr. Foreman on his right before looking back at them.

"Dr. House had his last MRI after he was shot the year before last," Dr. Chase told him, sitting down at the monitor next to him and opening the CD-ROM drive to insert a disc. The program loaded and displayed Dr. House's brain in its previous condition before going on to slides of the rest of his body. Dr. Chase rewound the footage and concentrated on the scans of Dr. House's brain matter. One glaring detail he noticed caught him almost instantly.

"He has partial agenesis of the corpus callosum," Dr. Treborn muttered to himself, noting Dr. Chase's shrug. "Did you know about this before?"

"We didn't perform the scans," Dr. Foreman told him quietly. "One of the vascular surgeons did them -- and really, he probably only did the full-body scan because he knew that if he'd left Dr. House with an avantage to make his life hell in any way, Dr. House would have taken it. He's kind of -- "

"A dick," Evan grinned and Drs. Chase and Foreman each laughed sadly. "So, you guys never knew about this -- Dr. Cuddy?"

"The last thing Dr. House wants is pity," Dr. Cuddy told him with a wry smile. "He'd readily spit in your eye just so you wouldn't have a clear view of his leg. Everyone's always looking for a reason he's the way he is. He would never purposely give us one. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if this were some dead patient's file that Dr. House had gone out of his way to switch. He'd be willing to do it."

Drs. Chase and Foreman both snorted, remembering full-well when House had faked cancer to get treatment for depression.

"He has a hard time admitting he needs assistance or help, huh?" Evan asked and Dr. Chase sat back in his chair before doing a half-hearted spin.

"If there's anything Dr. House doesn't know about social cues, which is very little since he stalks people like he does, it's the difference between sympathy...and pity. God forbid anyone be compassionate toward him -- or think he's compassionate. I mean, he became a doctor, right? That alone says he cares about something, but...he'd rather die than let anyone see him acting like a human being if he can help it. He thinks being known as an ass is miles better than being known simply as a cripple. I can certainly understand his point of view, given the absurd idea people have that disabled people need to be coddled, but sometimes he takes it too far."

"Sometimes he bites off more than he can chew," Evan ventured slightly, noting the darkening expressions on Drs. Cuddy, Foreman, and Chase's faces and wondering what Dr. House's treatment would reveal his brain to be capable of.

Evan nodded and turned back to the screens in front of them, "Alright, well, the agenesis will still be present if this is indeed Dr. House's file. The damage from the accident and the DBS will still be there, as well. What I need to see is Dr. House's reactions to stimuli -- names of people he knows. Places he's been. Things he likes to do. You know, to get a feel for who and what kind of man he is."

Chase nodded and pulled a jewel case out of his pocket, loading the disc, and making sure the volume wouldn't damage House's ears. He'd made Dr. House this CD while he'd been comatose in the ICU and couldn't wait to finally get to see him listening to it. Even better, what Chase wouldn't ever hear from House's mouth would be displayed on the screen in fiery splashes of color as his brain took in the notes and reacted. With a small smile, he pressed 'play' and 'Paranoid Android' by Radiohead filtered into the larger room and Dr. House's fusiform gyrus lit up. Dr. Chase let out a laugh as he saw what looked like a fireworks show pop up on the screen.

"I knew he'd heard that song before -- bloody liar..." Chase chuckled, magnifying the image for a moment before going back to the original view.

"Would you say Dr. House lies a lot?" Evan asked and Foreman snorted.

"Does a fish like water?"

"He lies less than you think," Chase countered, gesturing toward Cuddy with a pen. "Remember, he usually only lies while joking about something -- if it's serious, he'll kill you for not telling him everything he needs to know. Not getting a full patient history is definitely more than a pet peeve. When he lies, it's usually something stupid like Cuddy getting gender reassignment surgery."

Evan dropped his pen on the table and looked at Dr. Cuddy with an astonished look on his face, only to be further blindsided by the sight of her rolling her eyes.

"Please -- his assertions that I'm actually a man say more about him than they do about me. Especially since he can't keep his eyes off me."

"Maybe he's planning to send your surgeon a gift basket..." Evan ventured, grinning wickedly and Cuddy shot him a glare as Chase and Foreman looked on, impressed.

"Oh, Dr. House will just love you."

"My psych professor did say I was complete wise-ass. Don't worry, he'll return to you in better pieces than he is now, but I need the cooperation of everyone who's close to him to make sure this works out."

"This disorder has your name attached to it," Foreman said, eyeing Evan closely. "Of course you don't want to screw this up."

"Believe me," Evan told him candidly, saving the scans being taken of House's head on a fresh disc. "Any screw-ups would be far more detrimental to him and those he loves than they would be for me. Let's get him out of there -- he's probably tired and with him asleep, it's the perfect time to get an EEG."

"Is all this testing really necessary?" Foreman asked, pushing his chair back and standing. "The man sustained severe head trauma that was later aggravated by an electrical storm and a coma -- we know he's never going to be the same but he's most likely not -- "

"I don't care," Dr. Cuddy said quietly, glaring at Dr. Foreman who answered with chagrin.

"I just know none of us wants to see him slip away any further," he clarified quietly, gripping the top of his chair and concentrating on it instead of Chase or Cuddy's face. "He thinks nobody likes him -- I used to hate him...but the bastard grew on me -- like an outbreak of yaws or something. I mean, the man's an ass and completely self-absorbed, but when aren't the rest of us? And, really -- if anybody shouldn't be suffering right now, it's House. He didn't have to put his brain on the chopping block for Wilson, but he did -- not that the..." Foreman grimaced and cut himself off before starting again.

"Look -- we at least want to see if we can help. Dr. House's new team deserves the same chance to learn from him that you, Chase, Cameron, and I got. And that includes the ridiculous grading scale, the mockery, the bets, and everything else." Then a small smile grew. "Besides, we got to treat him several times for something life-threatening and who are we not to give them the chance to do the same?"

Chase rolled his eyes and frowned at Foreman, "Not that I'm saying your reasoning's faulty -- because House would totally jump at the chance if one of us were sick -- but remember that idiotic Survivor thing he did to pick the new kids out? They strapped him to a table and biopsied his lung, liver, and kidneys without anesthetic!" Chase made a face and hesitated, "Hell, I'm scared of those little bastards!"

"Taub's not little," Cuddy corrected tiredly, remembering those hellish weeks. "He told them to wear a cup -- he should have said full-body armor. Sociopath. And don't forget his stunt with the magician's blood -- he could have given himself tularemia, too."

"Hey, you hired him and he hired us," Foreman reminded her, at which she scowled.

"Stop reminding me."

...Nothing comes easier than madness in the world today ( Mass paranoia is a mode not a malady)...Yeah, I'd like to watch all thousand cable channels but there's nothing on...And my high speed connection's monitored daily by the Pentagon...These things are seldom what they seem...I'm not inclined to enjoy my dreams...Won't go away...