House stood quietly, drinking coffee from a tall, plastic cup and peering out over the balcony. He enjoyed the view—not that there was much to see, and not that he hadn't seen it a hundred times before. Really, he was just biding his time, waiting until Wilson gave in and asked him what he was doing there. He noticed the steam from his coffee was starting to fog up the glass, so he went and sat on the sofa.
Wilson did not look up. He frowned and brought a case file up to his face for closer inspection. Satisfied, he dropped it back onto the desk.
House would never admit it, but despite wanting to just get it over with, he was almost…anxious over talking to Nolan. In therapy lately, the focus had been on his self destructive behavior, and why he felt the need to manipulate those around him so much, to control their lives. He'd already had to endure a crash course on the subject courtesy of Nolan himself, but the subject was a frequently reoccurring one.
If it were anyone else, House wouldn't give a second thought on the matter. Nolan was different, though. He was sharp and witty, more so than House liked to admit.
However, Nolan had signed his release, and has Okayed his return to medicine. He might give him a speech on how unethical it was to be both physician and friend to someone, but there wasn't any logical reason for him to refuse to transfer Alvie over.
He decided he wasn't worried. If anything, he was annoyed, trying to anticipate how the conversation would go.
He cleared his throat, attempting to gain Wilson's attention.
"What is it, House? I'm busy."
House tilted his head toward the balcony and haphazardly asked, "Do you even use that thing?"
"What 'thing'?" he asked, distracted.
"You're here to question me about how often I use my balcony?"
House shrugged. "Just wondering why you get one and I don't."
Wilson set his pen down and smirked tiredly. "What are you, six? You already have a conference room. What would you do with a balcony? Where would you put it?"
"Yeah, but how cool would it be if I could save lives, and work on my tan at the same time?"
They shared a moment of silence in which Wilson considered him, a peculiar expression on his face.
"Is there a specific reason for your being here?" he mumbled, and then closed the file on his desk.
House took a sip from his coffee and made himself comfortable.
"Not really, no."
Wilson nodded as if he understood. "I thought you had a case."
"I do. Or I did," he corrected, unclipping his pager from his pants. He held it up, inspecting it. "Still waiting to find out."
Wilson pushed away from his desk. "What are you talking about?"
"My patient thinks I'm incompetent," he answered in a choppy voice. He shrugged like a child being guilted into telling the truth. "And he may think that I tried to kill him."
"Oh, this I've got to hear." Wilson moved around his desk and settled at the edge of it, his arms folded.
House rolled his eyes. "I didn't try to kill him. My team did. Long story short, apparently the guy is allergic to one of the drugs we gave him, didn't know he was allergic, went into anaphylactic shock, yada, yada, demanded to speak to his lawyer, and here I am."
Wilson looked confused. "But he sighed a wavier."
"Apparently, he's too stupid to know what a waiver is," House said pointedly.
Wilson sighed, shrugging half-heartedly.
"You know, this kind of thing happens once, maybe twice in a lifetime to any other doctor in this hospital—completely ignoring the waiver issue—and it's never happened to me. It happens to you on a weekly basis. This doesn't… concern you? Doesn't raise any red flags?"
Clutching his cane, House pulled himself up from the sofa, trying to keep his coffee from spilling over. He began meandering about, as he often did in between cases or while waiting for test results. "What's your problem?"
"Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was up half the night, worrying I was going to have my throat slit by your old roommate."
When he had finished, House asked, "are you always this much of a drama queen?"
"Okay, so maybe I'm being a little dramatic," Wilson admitted, rocking his hand slightly for emphasis. "But my point still stands. I don't know a thing about the guy, and I'm supposed to open my home to him, no questions asked?"
"You'll get to know him," House responded. "Even if you have no intention of getting to know him. Especially if you have no intention of getting to know him."
Wilson frowned pensively. "How did I let you talk me into this again?"
"I already told you, I couldn't just tell him to beat it. Do you have any idea of the lecture I'd get if Nolan found out I just let him walk out of here?"
"The man is your therapist, House. And he's familiar with Alvie. I'm pretty sure he's not going to be comfortable with either scenario."
"If only there were some way around the law…" House mused.
Wilson broke in, holding up his hand. "Do it legally, and do it by the book. Remember, you won't just have Nolan breathing down your neck; Cuddy'll be keeping an eye on you, too."
"Come on, Wilson," House teased. "Live a little."
"I've lived enough, thanks. Oh, and you'd better call him." He walked around the desk again and sat, and then gestured to the phone. "Make sure the apartment is still in one piece."
House began for the door. "You call him. I'm busy."
"I'm not calling, you call him! He's your friend!"
House turned, and both men locked eyes. House's face remained screwed up in an annoyed scowl; Wilson had his head tilted and both eyebrows raised high.
It was House who broke the silence.
"Fine," he snapped. He squinted menacingly and raised his cane suddenly, bringing it down over the side of the door with a loud clack.
"House!" Wilson yelped, recoiling in surprise. "What the hell?"
"You blinked. I win," House announced, closing the door behind him as he left.
"Grow up!" Wilson called after him.
On the way to his office, his pager beeped.
"Oh, come on," he groaned.
His leg was bothering him and the cynical playfulness in him was beginning to wane. He wanted to call Nolan and get it over with, not argue with an idiot patient who didn't know what a waiver was. He groaned, making a detour, headed for the patient's room. He didn't bother to knock; Foreman was already there, arms folded, looking an equal amount of annoyed and bored.
Deciding to skip the preliminaries, he asked, "So, are we getting sued, or what?"
The patient bristled and looked at him sternly for a moment, and then hung his head. "No."
"Well, good," House replied, tossing his cane up and catching it. He pretended to look at it, as though noticing something he hadn't ever seen before as he spoke, "Because you signed a waiver. So really, the whole lawyer thing was a big waste of everyone's time."
Foreman sighed. "I tried to tell him that, but he wouldn't listen."
"Look," the man said. "Do you have any idea what's wrong with me?"
"No," he said.
Foreman shifted uncomfortably.
The man opened his mouth to reply, but then stopped, and dropped his eyes to his lap. He fidgeted with his blanket.
"Could I die?" he asked.
House shrugged. "Anything's possible. You could die of a heart attack tomorrow."
"There's something wrong with my heart?" the man gasped, clutching at his chest.
"No, your heart's fine, I just meant that—"
Foreman, sensing the tension and dread beginning to build up in the room, interjected.
"Mr. Cox, We're doing our best," he said calmly, gently. "Now that we know you're allergic to the drug, we know not to give you any of its sister drugs. We can't always know who will react to what. Not to be rude, but you didn't even know you were allergic to it."
The man seemed to consider this, his dark sunken eyes bouncing between Foreman and House.
"And if I request to be transferred to another hospital?" he asked.
Foreman sighed. "Then I'm afraid there's nothing we can do to stop you. But we'd really rather you stay here."
The man scoffed. "Of course you would. You want my money."
"I don't want your money," House started, but was cut off by Foreman.
"I know he can be a bit—abrasive—but in my professional opinion, he's your best option right now."
"He's got some bedside manner," the man grimly remarked.
The look on Foreman's face said 'tell me about it.' "Be that as it may, he's very good at what he does. He's the best doctor we have."
The man sighed and laid his head back against his pillow, chuckling bitterly. No one spoke for a long while.
"All right, then. I guess I have no choice." he threw his hands up in submission. "Do what you can."
"We will, Mr. Cox," Foreman said with a reassuring smile.
House, still lingering near the exit, said, "well, now that we're done here, I'm gonna go."
He finished off his coffee and pitched the container in the trash bin, about to slide the door open. From across the room, Foreman gave him the evil eye. He sighed and turned away in attempts to keep his patient unaware of his eye rolling, and forced a sneer.
He said, "My team and I are on it."
When the haughty expression finally relaxed from Foreman's face, and he appeared at least minimally satisfied, House left.
Forty minutes later, he was in his office, stretched out in his chair, his bad elevated. He sighed and dug around in a drawer, wrapping his fingers around a bottle of Ibuprofen. He tossed two into his mouth and dry-swallowed, reaching for the phone.
He arrived home before Wilson, and seeing that they were low on food, he called to tell him to pick a couple things up on his way home. Cradling the phone in the crook of his shoulder, he cast a glance around the apartment, looking for signs of Alvie. The television was on, but the sofa was empty.
He hung up and shrugged his backpack onto the floor, entering the front room cautiously.
"Alvie?" he called out.
The thought that, perhaps leaving him home alone wasn't such a good idea flashed through his mind, but was quickly abandoned when he noticed a half full glass of Kool Aid, and the remains of what appeared to be a grilled cheese sandwich on the coffee table.
The front room wasn't trashed, although it certainly wasn't any cleaner than it had been when he'd left that morning. Some rap program was playing on the television, a slow-paced tune with a heavy bass.
"Alvie!" he shouted again, louder, rounding the sofa and turning.
"House?" a voice came from the kitchen. Feet hit the tiled floor; footsteps headed for the front room. ''He-hey! What're you doin' home?''
"I live here, don't look so surprised" House explained, waving to the coffee table. "Clean that up before Wilson sees it and has a stroke."
"I know," Alvie said, retrieving the plate and glass. "I'm just wonderin' why you're home so early."
"I told you this was when I would be home."
"You did?' he uttered a startled sound, fleeing House's cane. "You sure?"
"When did we have that conversation?"
"It wasn't one conversation," House said, rounding him into the kitchen. "It was several."
While Alvie scraped his plate into the trash bin and proceeded to wash and set it in the dish drain, House hung his cane on the lip of the kitchen counter and donned an apron. He went about setting out a saucepan and filling a pot of water.
"What are you doing?" Alvie gawked at him.
"What's it look like I'm doing?" House asked bitingly. "I'm making dinner."
Alvie appeared at his side, leaning over the stovetop curiously.
"You can cook?" he asked, surprised.
"I took a class with Wilson. It's excellent for managing pain," he said distractedly, rummaging through a drawer.
Alvie looked as though he were resisting the urge to hop up onto the counter like a child. "You any good?"
"Nobody's died yet,'' House said with a shrug.
'You know, you didn't have to call and check up on me today,'' Alvie told him, leaning an elbow against the counter.
"I wasn't," House clarified. "I was calling to check up on you for Wilson."
House shooed him out of the way, pulling out a large wooden spoon, and then he opened up a cabinet and took out two boxes of pasta noodles.
Alvie rocked back on his heels, moving out of the way as quickly as he could.
"So… you talk to Nolan?" he asked.
House nodded. "Yep."
"What'd he say?"
"Well he's not thrilled about the idea, but I talked him into it," he said. "And the sooner he forwards your records, the sooner we can get you on something." He could tell Alvie was glad to hear the news—as glad as he could be, anyway, without wanting to take anything in the first place. "So why do you want a new prescription, anyway? Wasn't the old one working?"
"I didn't like it."
"It just didn't make me feel right, okay?"
House nodded, sensing Alvie's frustration.
He already had an idea of what he wanted to try Alvie on first, but he was sure Wilson also had a few thoughts in mind. Between the two of them, he was sure they'd find something suited to their friend. He could only hope that Alvie would actually stick to the plan.
"Hey, um...I just wanted to like, you know, uh, thank you and all," he said, his voice much kinder than before. "You n' Wilson. You guys've been awesome."
House, who never knew what to say in situations such as these, said nothing at first. Finally, he settled on: "You can thank me by not giving Nolan any reason to say 'I told you so.'"
Alvie nodded and held his hand up. "Don't worry about it, I got this."
House turned away from the almost-boiling water for a moment, and looked at Alvie, who looked back at him.
"The other day, I asked you if you were using. You avoided the question."
Alvie's eyes flickered.
"Just some beer every once in a while," he answered.
House squinted at him thoughtfully.
"I'm serious," Alvie said, sounding upset. "I don't do that stuff anymore."
"So you admit you did use drugs as an escape before," House said, looking for that hitch of breath that never came.
He shrugged. "Yeah, okay. Couple years ago, I'd do a little bit of this, little bit of that."
"'This' and 'that' being?''
"Little coke, some ecstasy."
"But not anymore," House said evenly, studying his expression.
"Not anymore," Alvie replied.
His trademark phrase, 'Everyone Lies' buzzed around in his head like a warning siren, even though something in him wanted to believe Alvie. He decided to consider that, for the time being, Alvie might actually be telling the truth. If he wasn't, House was confident that he would soon find out what, if anything, he was hiding.
House nodded again. "Okay."
Wilson returned with the groceries faster than House had anticipated. He sent Alvie to get the door.
Alvie left, and then returned lugging in a heavy brown paper bag in his skinny arms. He set it down on the counter and began to bring everything out, oohing and aahing. Wilson walked in a second later, carrying a much smaller plastic bag with what appeared to be only one or two items.
House smirked, watching Wilson loosen his tie and begin to roll his sleeves up.
"You remember the chicken?" He asked.
He stepped away from the stove and hobbled toward a cabinet, bending down to retrieve a skillet. His leg buckled as he did, but he was able to steady it with his hand. He wasn't sure Alvie had noticed, but he knew Wilson had. Surprisingly, Wilson didn't say a thing.
"Yes I remembered the chicken," Wilson sighed. He replaced the old milk in the fridge with a carton of new milk, and tossed the old one out.
"Measuring cups, yeah, sure," Alvie said. He made a hesitant sound in his throat, looking completely lost. His finger twirled around, as though it were a dousing rod. "Measuring...huh. Yeah. Where're those?"
Wilson set the butter and cream on the counter, and then told Alvie where to find them.
"Aha!" Alvie cried, pulling open the drawer that contained the measuring cups.
"So, what happened with Nolan?"Wilson asked.
House found the chicken in the plastic bag and began to unwrap it, then chop it into pieces and dump them into the skillet.
"He said yes."
Wilson leaned forward, both eyebrows raised.
"'Yes'? Just like that?" he prodded.
"I told him I wanted his records forwarded and he said he wanted to talk to me about it. I argued that we were already talking about it, he said to stop being difficult." He said, as though taking the time to explain were the most annoying thing in the world. "He basically said yes. Pepper!"
"Pepper," Alvie repeated, and replaced the saltshaker with the peppershaker, handing it to House.
"Basically meaning... 'yes' or 'no', but you're going to do it, anyway?"
House kept one eye on the chicken, found a strainer and tossed it into the sink, saying, "so long as you watch me while I watch him, I think we're in the clear."
"Really?" Wilson said, surprised. "I didn't think it would be this easy."
House said, "that makes two of us."
"Any ideas of what you want to prescribe yet?"
"I've got a few things in mind," House replied reluctantly. "Why? Do you?"
"What are they?"
"You tell me yours first."
House eyed him and said, "Clozapine."
"Lithium," Wilson answered quickly.
"Lithium?" House repeated, rolling his eyes. "That's the best you could come up with?"
"Uh, hate to interrupt," Alvie said, "but I was already on that second one. Made me have to pee a lot," he added.
"You were already on Lithium?" Wilson squinted at him disbelievingly. "Why did your doctor take you off it?"
"I uh…I kinda…"
Wilson and House stared at him, awaiting an answer.
"I pissed my pants, all right? He said that wasn't supposed to happen and to just wait it out, but I just kept doin' it, even when I tried not to drink a lot."
"Okay," Wilson sighed. "Lithium's out. What about Risperidone?"
"Jesus, what haven't they put you on?" House mumbled.
When dinner was done, they piled their plates and retreated to the front room, despite Wilson's griping over 'why have a dining room table if no one's going to use it?'
"What is this?" Wilson asked in horror, pointing to the television. Three men were inches away from the screen, each holding a microphone. Two of them were wearing visors, one upside down and one cocked to the side, and the third had a pattern shaved into one of his eyebrows.
"Whoops." Alvie grabbed the remote and changed the channel. "Sorry."
Alvie sat cross-legged on the floor, plate supported on his knee, House on the sofa; Wilson stood behind them, preferring to stand.
Wilson asked, "So, what'd you do all day?"
"Who?" House asked around a mouthful of chicken, watching the channels flicker by.
He shrugged helplessly. "Both of you."
"My patient threatened to sue me," he offered, "but you already knew that."
Alvie's fork stopped mid-bite. "Someone was gonna sue you?"
"Someone's always threatening to sue him," Wilson said with a sneer. "How'd that go, anyway?"
"Good news. We're not getting sued."
Wilson nodded, returning to his meal. He took a quick look around the apartment some minutes later, his expression clouding. House shot him a threatening glare, but he chose to ignore it.
"What about you?" He said to Alvie, using his I'm-prying-but-not-prying voice. He picked at his food, trying to look innocent. "What did you do all day?"
Alvie shrugged the question off. "Nothing really."
"I can see that," Wilson replied.
Alvie glanced up, his head cocked to the side. "Huh?" A smile slowly but surely began to spread across his face. He shook his finger and laughed. "Aha, you're funny. Yeah, but really, tomorrow? This place'll be spotless."
Wilson said, "I sure hope so."
"Don't even worry 'bout it," Alvie assured him, flashing a big grin. He reached forward and set his plate on the coffee table, then looked up at House. "So. You're my doctor now, huh?"
House squinted at him carefully, and then looked over at Wilson.
"Minor lapse of judgment," he said.