A/N: I would like to dedicate this story to my friend Corbin. I miss you, and will see you at the end of March :)
"Got a new case," Foreman said by way of greeting as House entered the conference room. He dropped his bag on the chair by the door and sat heavily at the table, frowning at the file.
"Some kid in a wheelchair vomited on stage during a performance. Gee, that's exciting," House said, snapping the folder shut. "When you mentioned a case, I was under the impression that it was a medical case."
"It is," Foreman said. "He was referred to us from Mercy Hospital in Manhattan when they couldn't figure out what was wrong."
"They didn't see that it was a simple case of stage fright?" House asked. "Wow, my respect for them has suddenly dropped even further."
"He went into anaphylactic shock in the Mercy ER—" Foreman began forcefully.
"So he's allergic to something they gave him."
"—before they gave him anything."
"Still not interesting."
"House," Foreman's voice was laced with warning. "You don't have a choice. I'm your boss, and it's Cuddy's orders that we solve this."
There was a pause, and the rest of the team watched House expectantly. "Fine," he said after a pause. "He get an MRI?"
Thirteen shook her head. "No, he's got metal plates holding his pelvis together. Same car crash that paralyzed him. What about autoimmune?" she suggested. "If he went into anaphylactic shock before they gave him anything, it must have been coming from inside."
Foreman nodded. "It's possible. Doesn't have to be that serious, though. STDs?"
House scoffed. "Kid in a wheelchair? Doubt it."
"What, just because he's handicapped means he's a virgin?"
"Test him for lupus, Churg-Strauss, ITP, any other autoimmune diseases you can think of… and STDs," Foreman ordered, narrowing his eyes at House. House feigned innocence. "Run a tox screen, too. Kid with a handicap is bound to have some self-esteem issues."
Will Shuester was not one to be easily scared. Angered, yes, irritated, sure, shaken, maybe. But rarely scared. When Artie had mentioned that he wasn't feeling well, he'd brushed it off as pre-performance nerves, not really seeing that his student was paler than usual. Then, he and the rest of the boys in the Club stood on stage and sang 'Mr. Blue Sky' and Artie was faltering, not remembering the moves quite as well as in rehearsals. When his solo came up, he squinted in the spotlight and his voice faded. And suddenly, he doubled over, emptying his stomach completely onto the stage.
After that was chaos, but Will had remained surprisingly calm. In the ambulance, Will had repeatedly said, "It's fine, Artie. They'll let us go again, and if not, there's always next year." He'd been calm as Artie was whisked into the ER and he'd had to talk to the rest of the Glee members, to let them know he'd be okay. He'd been calm as he gave the ER doctors the details of the incident. He'd been calm as he called Artie's parents to let them know what happened. But when Artie had abruptly passed out mid-sentence, and the nurses had swarmed around him, pushing Will and the Club members out of the way, he had not been calm. He had definitely been scared.
The ER supervisor had eventually been contacted, and she came to talk to Will and Artie alone. After reviewing his chart and running several blood tests for afflictions that Will couldn't remember the name of, the supervisor admitted that she was at a loss for what was wrong. "The anaphylaxis indicates something more serious than what we originally thought," she'd said. "He had an allergic reaction to nothing, and that usually means autoimmune, but he's exhibiting no other symptoms of autoimmune diseases, and they're all extremely rare."
"So what do we do?" Artie had asked, obviously attempting to keep his voice level.
"Well, I'm going to refer you to a doctor in Princeton," she'd said with a consoling smile. "He specializes in cases like these, when other doctors can't figure out what's wrong, and he's got a list of solved cases a mile long. He's definitely your best option."
And so Artie had signed the papers for transfer, and now here they were, in Princeton, an hour's drive away from the Nationals in Manhattan. It was nearing nine A.M. and the Glee Club members were draped over various chairs in the waiting area near the second-floor nurses' station, most of the girls fast asleep and most of the boys staring boredly at the wall. Tina, however, was wide awake, her eyes deadpan as she waited for news of Artie's condition.
"You should get some sleep," he told her. "It's gonna be a while before we get out of here."
"I'm fine," she said quietly.
Will sighed, rubbing his eyes in exhaustion. He hadn't slept since Artie had lost consciousness, and it had been over a day. If they were here for any longer, he'd have to find a motel or something to accommodate the other kids. They couldn't sleep in hospital waiting chairs forever.
Will looked up to see a tall, broad-shouldered African-American doctor standing at the edge of the waiting area. "Yeah, hi," he said, standing up and shaking the sleep from his head as he went to join the doctor in the hall. "Any news on Artie?"
"Well, he's starting to show a fever, but we're doing everything we can to get to a diagnosis. Dr. House has agreed to take your case, so Artie's in good hands."
"Oh, you're not Dr. House?" Will asked.
The doctor smiled. "No, I'm Dr. Foreman; I'm part of Dr. House's diagnostic team. We're performing a series of tests now; nothing serious, just covering all the bases. Drugs, STDs, etcetera."
Will shook his head. "No, Artie's a good kid, he wouldn't be doing any of that."
"Mr. Shuester, no offense, but Dr. House's motto is that everybody lies. It's not that we don't trust Artie, it's just that with serious cases, we can't afford to take those chances."
Will nodded. "I understand. Does Dr. House have any ideas?"
Dr. Foreman nodded. "He's got a couple theories that we're exploring. Autoimmune, for one."
"Yeah, the doctor back in New York mentioned that – what is that?" Will asked.
"Well, each autoimmune disease is different, but in layman's terms, the body becomes allergic to itself and begins to reject certain parts like the heart or the skin."
Will's eyes widened. "Jesus! Artie could have that?"
"It makes sense, since he went into anaphylactic shock before he was given anything that would cause it, but keep in mind that autoimmune diseases vary in intensity. In some cases, they're actually beneficial – they help spot cancer," Dr. Foreman explained. "Don't worry. He's in good hands. If any of his friends want to visit him, they can."
Tina went to visit Artie first. Mr. Schuester took the rest of the Club down to the cafeteria to buy them an early lunch, and so the two of them were left alone in Artie's ward. "What if they don't figure out what's wrong?" Tina asked softly.
Artie smiled. "Don't worry about it, I'll be fine. I survived a car crash, I can tough this out," he said, giving his dead legs a light slap for emphasis.
Tina laughed. Artie coughed, his chest heaving lightly. His face was slightly flushed from the fever.
"Is your throat sore?" she asked, her eyes full of concern.
He shook his head. "Nah, I'm good. I'm just pissed that I ruined Nationals for everyone."
"Artie, it wasn't your fault," Tina insisted. She paused; he had a strange expression on his face. "Artie?"
He frowned. "My chest hurts," he said, rubbing it with one hand. "Ow, ow, ow…"
Tina leaped back in surprise when his head jerked back involuntarily and he suddenly screamed, the muscles in his neck straining as his glasses fell to the floor. "Artie! Artie!" she shouted, trying to calm him as his body contorted in pain, his teeth gritting and his fingers curling rigidly. He squeezed his eyes shut and screamed again, hugging his chest as if trying to force the pain out.
Kurt bounced into the room, sandwiches clutched in his hand. "We got you guys some— Oh my God!" He froze.
"Get help!" Tina shouted.