AN: Trish, this one's for you. Lol. You kickstarted my brain on this story, and here's the result. Thanks for bringing it back into the forefront of my mind!
Also, if anyone can tell me how to get my indents to save I would be eternally grateful...grrr...
Princeton-Plainsborough Teaching Hospital was nestled on the outskirts of Princeton's main campus. It was a combination of teaching hospital and campus clinic; free health care in the clinic was provided by young residents and interns getting their start in the healthcare industry to students and local residents. The hospital, however, was staffed by prominent, well known doctors and surgeons and was on the cutting edge in research, oncology and of course; diagnostics. Standing outside the hospital with a cool breeze loosening her hair, Carrie drew her coat more tightly about herself as she surveyed the great brick building dispassionately. Squaring her shoulders, Carrie stepped bravely over the automated door pad and into the main lobby. The hospital's oak leaf logo was engraved into the marble floor that spread from the doors to the elevators. After the chill of the wind from the parking lot to the front door, the hospital's warmth was welcome and Carrie gratefully eased her grip on the lapels of her coat and forced her numb fingers to unbutton the top two buttons with difficulty. The wall to the right of the door drew her attention, and she drifted over to examine the framed photographs of the hospital's top donors, staff members, and doctors.
Dr. House's digitized image was far down the wall where he was listed with the other department heads. She studied the image thoughtfully, comparing the handsome, clean shaven man with the disheveled one she had seen in the paper the day before. Only the eyes were the same; bright, piercing blue and filled with a listless depth. Drawing her gloves off, she unwound the scarf from around her neck and studied his image intently.
"Can I help you?" a voice called, and Carrie turned to see a nurse sitting behind the desk calling to her.
"Yes." She smiled. "I'm looking for Dr. Cuddy."
Dr. Cuddy's office was situated just outside the free clinic. Carrie stepped close to the police line thoughtfully, trying to peer past the yellow tape. It was hard to see anything inside the office through the glare coming in through the blinds. She sighed, closing her eyes in momentary defeat. So much for a surreptitious look at the crime scene.
"You must be Carrie?" someone said, and Carrie turned to find a small, stylishly dressed woman walking toward her smoothly despite her extremely high heels. Carrie raised an eyebrow, impressed.
"Yes." She held a hand out, and Cuddy took it for a moment before releasing it.
"I'm Lisa Cuddy. I understand you'd like to interview Dr. House?"
"Yes. I would like to hear his side of the story, as well as interview anyone you think could offer insight into Dr. House's character."
"Dr. House is—recovering—and isn't ready to see anyone." Dr. Cuddy admitted after a moment's hesitation. Carrie groaned inwardly; her instincts seemed correct in thinking there was something to Dr. House's reputation—both the good and the bad. "However," Dr. Cuddy continued, "you could speak with Dr. Wilson. He's probably the only person who even comes close to understanding how House thinks."
Carrie bit her lip; trying to decide how to phrase her next question as professionally as possible.
"Could you tell me how much truth there is to Dr. House's drug addiction?"
Dr. Cuddy stiffened, and Carrie wondered if she knew how much she guilt she portrayed with that single gesture. Definitely something there, to be sure. She wondered idly, not for the first time, how much of Dr. House's personal and professional lives were intertwined. Everything she'd so far discovered about the man seemed hopelessly tangled. After a moment, Dr. Cuddy spoke.
"I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to discuss that with you." she said finally. "You should take that up with him in the course of your interview."
"I understand." Carrie said quietly. "If I could speak with Dr. Wilson." she prompted gently, and Dr. Cuddy nodded tersely.
"Yes, I'll take you to his office." Dr. Cuddy strode toward the elevators and Carrie followed in her wake. Thus far, her visit to Princeton-Plainsborough was only raising more questions than answers. She only hoped Dr. Wilson could shed some positive light on the unfolding mystery that was Dr. Gregory House.
House was sitting with his back against Cuddy's desk, Thirteen perched beside him. He was pale and sweaty; Wilson could see his breathing was fast and shallow, too. Thirty two hours without pain relief House was well past the worst of the withdrawal. Which meant he was now in unremitting agony. Thirteen touched House's shoulder, and pressed her fingers to his carotid artery for a moment before shaking her head sadly. Fast. Too fast, Wilson realized. Her lips were moving, and House gave her a withering look that Wilson interpreted to mean she was stating the obvious. House knew all too well that his heart rate was too fast and what damage he was doing to his heart every moment that he went without pain relief. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do about it.
Thirteen shifted away from House then and moved to their gunshot victim. She checked his pulse and leaned forward to listen to something he was saying. Blood soaked strips of House's jacket were bound tightly around the victim's leg, but the bleeding seemed to have finally stopped. Thirteen nodded at him and rejoined House, leaning in close to confer with him while the gunman was distracted by the phone call from the police. House glanced up, staring directly into the camera and nodded, once.
"Dr. Wilson, we're going to move now." The lieutenant told him quietly. Out in the lobby, Wilson could see the SWAT team shifting into position.
"Now?" Wilson asked dumbly. Beside him, Cuddy took a shaky breath. "What did he tell you?"
"The gunshot victim's short on time. Dr. House and Dr. Hadley don't look too good either."
That was true, Wilson knew. House looked terrible. And Thirteen had been subjected to several tests and treatments that the gunman had deemed too dangerous for himself. House had done his best to minimize certain drug interactions, but there were a few that he simply hadn't been able to avoid. Over thirty hours had passed since the gunman had taken them hostage—House, Thirteen and six patients from the clinic waiting room. He'd shot a patient to underline the seriousness of his demands. He'd taken House's pain medication, and while the SWAT teams and the police had dicked around House had been forced to take the case at gunpoint. In agony. While detoxing.
Wilson stared hard into the camera as the SWAT team burst through the doors. Shots were exchanged, Wilson watched in horror as House and Thirteen ducked, collapsing into a heap at the base of the desk together.
"He's down." The lieutenant beside him declared triumphantly.
"Are they all okay?" Cuddy asked breathlessly.
"Yes." He paused. "They're requesting emergency teams."
Wilson and Cuddy rose together, moving quickly to the door and racing across the lobby. Wilson only paused to let the EMTs pass before he slid through the door to Cuddy's office. Thirteen sat up slowly, her pale face was pinched and she looked very, very tired. Beside her, House was still lying on his back biting his lip, which was bloody. His eyes were squeezed tightly closed. Kneeling, Wilson pressed his fingers urgently to House's carotid to find his pulse racing. Jesus. Over 160 and climbing.
"How fast was his pulse before?" Wilson demanded of Thirteen. She turned to face him slowly, staring at him blankly. "Hadley. I need to know how fast his pulse was."
"140." House gasped, shuddering as a muscle spasm wracked him again. His pulse climbed still higher to 170 beats per minute. House's eyes fluttered closed, and Wilson felt the racing pulse beneath his fingers sputter before it slowed suddenly.
"I need a crash cart in here!" Wilson shouted. Cuddy grasped Thirteen by the upper arm and tugged her out of the way as the EMTs dropped to their knees beside him. Someone—Wilson couldn't see who—had a portable defibrillator and ripped House's shirt in half to expose his chest. One of the EMTs shoved him aside as he hurriedly administered a dose of atropine. Wilson snatched the paddles and pressed them to House's chest. Whispering a silent prayer, Wilson shouted clear and waited, hands shaking while the paddles charged. House's body shook when the electricity jolted his chest. Cuddy scrambled back beside House and pressed her fingers to his throat. Shaking her head, she withdrew her hand while the paddles whined before the charge.
"Nothing." she said faintly.
"Clear." Wilson said.
"Again." Wilson said, and Cuddy felt tears well in her eyes as Wilson pressed the paddles to House's chest again. He was already bruising, and his lips were tinged blue. Wilson withdrew the paddles, and threw his arms around House, sobbing.
"-Wilson. Dr. Wilson?"
He woke then, knowing that his eyes were gummed with tears and burning with exhaustion. Groaning faintly, he sat up on the couch and put his head in his hands. A nightmare, that was all. House was safe in his room on the third floor. He'd finally gone back to his own office to catch some sleep before beginning his rounds. Although, he noted in disgust, the time for rounds had already been and gone. Alicia, his assistant, was kneeling beside him with a hand on his shoulder in support.
"Are you all right?" she asked kindly, and he nodded shakily.
"Brown covered your rounds for you. I knew you were up with House for a long time last night, and you didn't wake up when I came in here at 7:30." Alicia supplied, and he nodded his appreciation.
"Thanks. Any updates?"
"Not really. Mrs. Cartwright's white count is in the tank, but that's nothing new. He dropped the Isotretinoin down to see if he could encourage it to rise on it's own."
"How is House?" Alicia asked, and he sighed, remembering the intensity of his nightmare.
"He's fine. He just needed some fluids, and some sleep." he shook his head in disbelief.
"Why'd he do it?" Alicia asked, and he half-laughed at the question.
"Why does House do anything? He did it to solve the puzzle." Rising to his feet, he stretched for a moment before shuffling around the low table and diving into his bottom desk drawer. "God, I need a shower."
"You might want to make it a quick one." Alicia warned. "I didn't wake you up to tell you about Mrs. Cartwright. Dr. Cuddy has a journalist from TIME magazine that wants to talk to you."
Wilson made a face, and grunted. "Why me?" he asked as he rummaged through his emergency bag to make sure he had everything he needed. He contemplated his rumpled shirt and finally decided against going down his car to retrieve his garment bag. Scrubs would do for the time being.
"She wants to talk to someone who understands House."
"So I'm pretty much the only option." he deadpanned, and Alicia laughed. He sighed then, and slung the bag over his shoulder. "Tell Cuddy I'll meet the journalist here in about half an hour."