Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I don't play one on tv. All medical mistakes are of course mine, but sadly House isn't.

The diagnostics department was starting to look a little ragged. The blinds were askew, books were piled high atop the conference room table; coffee mugs and wrappers were strewn about everywhere. Nine days and eight nights had passed since their most recent patient had been admitted; 57 tests and 8 procedures had been ordered and completed—and they were still nowhere near a diagnosis. Cuddy had managed to keep her mouth shut through sheer force of will; House knew he was running out of time. She could see it in his eyes every time she'd passed his office. House didn't solve every case that came his way; but he did solve most of them. Every test was negative every time, yet the patient's abdominal pain persisted, his kidney function had begun to decline. His extremities were tingling. His vision was failing. No drugs, no risky sex. No affairs, no poisons, no toxins. No travel.

House's fellows were starting to look the worse for wear as well; with wrinkled clothes and weary faces. In the wee hours of the night one or two of them could be found in the on-call room, sprawled on the beds wearing scrubs. They'd at least split the hours monitoring the patient between the three of them; sparing House the need to check in on their patient. Or sparing the patient. House hadn't left the hospital since they'd taken the case. Wilson had brought him sandwiches and checked in on him every once in a while. He'd taken cat-naps in his Eames chair in between bouts of research. By midmorning of the ninth day, it was clear House hadn't gotten out of his chair. Cuddy speculated that it was entirely possible he wasn't able to get up. He hadn't showered, or changed since Tuesday. His deep blue eyes were bloodshot from the lack of sleep and his five o'clock shadow had become a full beard.

"Go home, House." Cuddy ordered tersely.

"I like it here." House said stubbornly. He had his laptop balanced on his stomach and was half-slouched down to stare at the screen. His leg was propped up on a pillow.

"You smell." Cuddy said in exasperation. House rolled his eyes and glared at her.

"What is it with you? I don't work, you complain. I work, you complain. Make up your mind, woman."

"Work reasonable hours and I won't complain." Cuddy said steadily. "You can't get up, can you?"

House looked up at her searchingly, and sighed. He set his laptop down and rubbed his eyes.

"Can you?" Cuddy persisted.

"No." he said in a low voice.

Cuddy nodded. "I want you to let Wilson take you home. You need to get off that leg. Eat something, and for God's sake, shower." House pursed his lips, started to shake his head when Cuddy sank down beside him and brushed against his leg. He stiffened, unable to entirely suppress his groan of pain at the unexpected movement. He glared at her, his hand moving to his thigh and rubbing, briskly. Cuddy took the laptop from him and held it.

"Wilson said he'd be done in about 15 minutes. Be ready to go." She told him gently. After another moment, he ducked his head and nodded once. Cuddy got to her feet and looked at him sternly. She strode to the door and let herself out without looking back.


Wilson had been true to his word; he'd finished up his last appointment before lunch and swung through House's office with a wheelchair. House had sunk down into the wheelchair in silent relief, but he'd refused to let Wilson put the foot rests up. He'd been silent all the way out to Wilson's car. An hour later, Wilson had returned and joined Cuddy in the clinic to peruse his charts.

"He fell asleep on the way home. I swung through and got him some Thai. Got him into the house and he ate, showered and crashed."

"Willingly?" Cuddy asked in disbelief.

"I wouldn't say willingly. More like he didn't have a choice once he stopped fighting it." Wilson shook his head, and held up a prescription carbon. "He should sleep for the rest of the day."

"What'd you give him?"

"Fentanyl patch. 25 mcg. I figured it should take the edge off enough to let him sleep."

"Good thinking." Cuddy smiled. "How'd you get it on him?"

"Helped him get dressed after he got out of the shower. Slipped it up high on his arm under the sleeve. It took about five minutes to kick in, and he fell asleep in six." Wilson shook his head. "I left him a note to call me when he gets up. I'll bring him back when he's ready."

"Good idea. He probably shouldn't be driving." Cuddy squeezed Wilson's arm in gratitude, before returning to her office.

The afternoon had worn on, and Cuddy had been relieved that House hadn't returned. Nor had he called, according to his fellows. Wilson admitted he hadn't heard anything. He hadn't accessed any of the test results that had been dropped into the chart electronically, either. Hopefully he was asleep, or at least resting. Cuddy smiled to herself. He had to be sleeping; House wouldn't be able to stay off the case if he was conscious. Their patient was critical, but stable for the moment. He showed no further signs of deteriorating. She'd ordered House's team to take a break as well. Go home, have dinner someplace, take a walk. Get out of the hospital for a few hours. They'd left reluctantly, moving through the lobby and meeting her gaze in acknowledgment. Satisfied, she'd trudged back to her own office, and began to tackle the pile of paperwork on her desk. Three hours later, Foreman put his head in the door.

"Can I talk to you?" he asked.

"Of course." She set the latest proposal for the new cardiology wing aside and waited for Foreman to seat himself.

"Wilson told me I had to get your approval before calling House. The patient's liver enzymes are through the roof. He's heading for liver failure." Foreman said patiently.

"Okay." Cuddy said simply. "I'll put him on the transplant list."

"And House?" Foreman prompted.

"Page him. Wilson offered to pick him up."

Foreman nodded, and got to his feet, unclipping his pager. Cuddy watched him leave, and stared at her desktop for a long moment, thinking of House and his patient before resuming her paperwork. Another hour had passed before she knew it, making it almost ten p.m. She sighed, stretching as she got to her feet. Smiling, she gathered up her charts and slid the paperwork back inside. Satisfied, she turned off the desk lamp and started to put her charts in the outbox.

"Dr Cuddy!" one of the ER nurses knocked frantically on the door to her office before bolting inside. Cuddy paused, feeling her heart sink. Judging by her panicked expression, whatever the nurse had to say would undoubtedly ruin her plans for the evening.

"Yes?" she asked calmly as she finished stacking the last of her completed charts in the outbox.

"Dr House was just brought in. MVA."