Disclaimer: All characters are property of ACD, Marvelous Mark Gatiss, Steven "The Moff" Moffat, the BBC, Fox, David Shore, Katie Jacobs, Bryan Singer, et al. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: Sorry about the delay - you do NOT want to know what the last couple of months have been like.
In The Genes: Metaphase
By Alice Day
John felt slightly odd, sitting on the hospital bed next to Wilson, but House had taken the only other seat in the room, so it was the bed or stand.
"Goooooood morning, Princeton," the diagnostician announced, aiming his voice at the speakerphone he'd plopped on the desk. He'd already introduced the disembodied voices on the other end of the line as Robert Chase, Eric Foreman and Chris Taub, his departmental fellows. "We have two additional contestants in our differential today - my favorite sloe-eyed oncologist and meal ticket-"
"Thanks," Wilson said with a sigh
"And a trigger-happy ex-Royal Army doc named John Watson." House bared his teeth in a rictus grin. "Be nice to him - I don't want to get shot again."
Again? "Er, hello," John said.
House got up and limped to the whiteboard, uncapping a dry erase marker. "We also have a thirty year old male, presenting with thunderclap headaches, chest pain, nausea and vomiting. Was involved in a minor explosion at a swimming pool a couple of days ago, and dived into said pool to avoid the blast - the explosion released a grayish, oily residue that is still being analyzed because apparently the labs in Old Blighty haven't heard of fast-tracking test results. To make things even more fun, Dr. Watson was also present and is currently asymptomatic. Poisoning is our best bet, but I'm not ruling out allergies or other organic causes. Go."
"Wait, he was in an explosion?" someone with an Australian twang - Chase - asked.
"Minor," House reiterated. "Wound up with some bruising, but nothing broke the skin."
"What makes you think he was poisoned?" a smooth baritone - Foreman - spoke up next.
House made a long-suffering face at the phone. "Because his personality makes me look like Cuddlebunny of the Year, plus he's a consulting detective with a psychopathic criminal playmate who likes to fight dirty," he said, whacking the whiteboard with his cane. Both Wilson and John jumped. "Diagnosis."
"Pesticide," Taub said. "Organophosphates can cause headaches, nausea and vomiting. It's been used before in bombs - could have been released with the explosion."
"Good," House said, scrawling Organophosphates on the whiteboard.
"What about barotrauma?" Chase suggested. "The pressure from the explosion could have caused damage to his lungs or GI tract."
"Not bad - covers nausea and chest pain, and a mini-bleed could have thrown off a clot or two." House added it to the whiteboard.
John raised his hand diffidently. "Right, no, because I didn't suffer from any barotrauma, and I was exposed to more of the explosion than he was," he pointed out.
That earned him a mocking look that was almost Sherlock-worthy. "Yes, I know that, Dead-Eye, but you're shorter and stockier than Sherlock," House said. "If there was any sort of damaging pressure differential, chances are your extra padding would have absorbed it before it hit a vital organ."
John reddened. He wasn't that much out of shape, dammit. "Oi-"
He felt a restraining hand on his arm, and saw Wilson shaking his head. "You do remember he's armed, right?" the oncologist said.
House rolled his eyes. "Fine - you're not fat, you're big-boned. Pesticide and barotrauma - what else?"
"Any history of drug use?" Taub asked. "It could cause heart and respiratory problems that were aggravated by the explosion."
Both House and Wilson turned to John. "Well?" House said.
John hesitated. This couldn't be covered under doctor-patient confidentiality, even if Sherlock was legitimately his patient, because they needed the data in order to save his life. Still, it made him feel disloyal. "Cocaine - I don't know for how long," he admitted. "Check with Mycroft for exact dates. But he's been clean for the last five years." And then he remembered Lestrade's drug bust that first night at the flat, and Sherlock's glare when John oh-so-innocently declared that there couldn't be anything illegal there. "At least, he says he's clean."
To his surprise, House winced. Oh, right - finding out your estranged son used to be an addict can't be pleasant. "Cocaine means possible heart damage, venous ruptures, and respiratory problems," he muttered, adding the newest diagnosis to the whiteboard. "Anything else he's been shooting, snorting or smoking?"
"Nicotine patches. He tends to use two or three when he needs to think."
House scowled. "And it never occurred to you to stop him?"
John felt the flush come back, hotter this time. "And how exactly do you propose I do that?" he snapped back. "Or was I supposed to wrestle someone five inches taller than me to the ground and rip the damn things off his arm?"
Wilson snorted at that, earning a glare from House. "Yeah, yeah, you can remind me of my character flaws later," he said to his friend. "Right now, I want an upper body MRI, chem-7, full tox screen including organophosphates, and I want him on ACE inhibitors for now - if he's got a slow bleed somewhere, that should take some of the pressure off."
Nodding, Wilson got up and left. "And you three are officially on call until we get this resolved, so don't even think about going home," House said to the speakerphone. "Foreman, have Cuddy send one of her flunkies to get whatever you need - you're there until I say you can leave."
"You know, I'm pretty sure Massa Lincoln done freed the slaves," Foreman drawled back.
House gave the phone a feral grin. "As far as I'm concerned, the 13th Amendment never happened, and all three of your asses still belong to me. I'm emailing test results as I get them - I want everything double-checked. Get moving." He used his cane to cut off the call, then limped back to the chair, dropping into it with a grunt.
Now that the tirade was over, John found himself studying his flatmate's father. There were similarities in body and facial structure, particularly around the eyes, but House's physical presence was slower, more deliberate than his son's. His limp - definitely not psychosomatic - and the slight hunch in his posture spoke of chronic pain. And chronic pain usually means an addiction to prescription painkillers. Judging from House's reaction and Wilson's veiled comment, John wondered if deliberate drug abuse was something that ran in the House/Holmes line.
"So that's it," he asked. "Pesticides, barotraumas, and the knock-on effects of cocaine use?"
"It's a start," House said, flat. "Why cocaine? I would've thought he'd want to shut his brain off, not jack it up even more."
John shrugged. He'd never understood the reasoning either. "Apparently he did it when he was bored - made things less boring. As for shutting off his brain, I don't think he actually can."
House made a rude noise. "Idiot."
"Yeah, that was my opinion, too." John pursed his lips, then decided to ask."So, what were you on?"
The older man's eyes were a different color from Sherlock's, but their glare still felt like a bloody laser blast. John lifted his chin a bit, waiting.
Finally, the diagnostician nodded. "Okay. Vicodin. And not until after my infarction." House tapped the side of his leg with the cane. "And I'm off it now, so spare me the lectures."
"Didn't plan on lecturing you-"
The door banged open and Wilson leaned in, pale. "Sherlock's seizing."
House limped into chaos. The other two doctors had run ahead; John was now arguing fiercely with a ward nurse while Wilson and another nurse worked to flatten Sherlock's hospital bed, bring up the side rails and cushion his head against the uncontrolled jerking of his body. On autopilot, House checked the bleeping heart monitor - 130 and rising.
"I'm his bloody doctor, dammit!" John shouted, trying to peer around the nurse's blue-clad body.
"You don't have privileges here," the nurse insisted.
"Yeah, but I do," House snapped, shouldering her aside. "So move your ass and get me 10 milligrams of diazepam, now."
The nurse glared at him, but jogged out of the room. John lurched to the bed, staring at his twitching flatmate. "When did this start?" he demanded.
"About two minutes ago," the other nurse said, locking the other safety rail into place. "He was complaining about being bored just as Dr. Wilson came in, and then his eyes rolled up mid-whinge and he started seizing."
House limped to the foot of the hospital bed. "You give him the ACE inhibitors yet?" he asked Wilson.
"Didn't even get a chance to order them."
The first nurse came back, syringe in hand. House grabbed it from her, flicking off the needle cap. "Hold his hand," he ordered.
Grimacing, John pinned Sherlock's hand to the mattress, and House injected the drug into the port. "All right, let him go."
"You hang onto him, he can break something," House snapped. "Let him go."
Flushing, John obeyed.
Seconds crawled by, and House was about to order another five milligrams when Sherlock's convulsion began to ease. Panting, he sagged back onto the mattress, eyelids fluttering against the last of the random neuronal firing. There was a sudden acrid smell, and House knew the younger man's bladder had cut loose.
Sherlock's curly head rolled on the pillow, eyes trying to focus. "John," he muttered. "What..."
John touched his flatmate's shoulder, squeezing it gently. "I'm here," he said. "You're all right now."
"What-" Sherlock swallowed once, his throat working. "What happened?"
"You had a seizure, but it's under control," the blond doctor said, trying to sound reassuring and not quite managing it. "You scared the piss out of me, mate."
"Piss." With a frown, Sherlock struggled to sit up, then peered under his sheet. He reddened. "Oh."
House remembered when he'd been shot, the humiliation of urinating in his hospital bed. He wasn't sure if Sherlock would want John's help getting cleaned up, but he knew damn well his own presence wasn't needed right now. "Yo, Florence Nightingale - go get some clean bedding and a gown," he said to the nurse as he limped towards the door. "Wilson, order the ACE. I'm going back to the office, take another look at the board-"
House turned back to find Sherlock staring at him, still somewhat bleary from the seizure but recovering with astonishing speed. "I don't care what Mycroft told you," he said slowly, each word low and tense with anger. "I don't want you here, and I certainly don't need you here."
House grimaced. Yup - the little bastard's mine. "Well, your mother does," he growled. "So for her sake, I'm here until I figure out what's wrong with you. You got a problem with that, deal with it on your own time - I've got work to do."
He stumped out of the room, irrationally pleased when something (a plastic water jug from the sound of it) crashed against the other side of the door.
"Is House always like that?" John asked.
Wilson sighed. "Pretty much. And is Sherlock usually...um..."
"That much of a pain in the arse? Oh, yeah."
"Must run in the family," Wilson said gloomily.
The two doctors were sitting (or hiding, if John had to be honest) in the hospital canteen, at a table near the back of the seating area, after Sherlock had chased them both from his hospital room with an acid-edged level of commentary usually reserved for Anderson.
I suppose I can't blame him, John thought, stirring his tea. Convulsion or no, any rational adult would be mortified by the fact that he'd wet his bed in front of a room full of strangers, not to mention a flatmate and an estranged father. Hell, that might have actually made it worse. Which was why John ignored his initial instinct to clip the consulting detective round the earhole; instead, he fell back on his instinctive Britishness and offered to buy Wilson a cup of tea.
Wilson accepted with gratitude. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that House has a son," he said, sipping his tea. "I mean, we've been friends for over ten years. I met his parents, got him through the breakup with Stacy, went to his dad's funeral - and you don't want to know what he pulled there. Even lived with him for a couple of months." He paused, blinking. "Um, we didn't live live together - I mean, we had separate bedrooms-"
John held up a hand. "Trust me," he said. "I understand."
The brown-eyed doctor looked relieved. "Okay. The thing is, I know stuff about House that could get him tossed in jail until he's ninety. But this-" He whistled softly, gesturing with a hand. "Bolt from the blue."
John fiddled with his cup. "Can't say I've known Sherlock that long, but I didn't expect this, either," he admitted. "Although it does explain why he and Mycroft are constantly sniping at each other. I just thought it was a pissing match over who was cleverer." He pursed his lips thoughtfully. "This is the first time I've met Mrs. Holmes, though. She's...um…"
"Gorgeous," Wilson supplied. "I see where Sherlock gets his cheekbones from. And she's impressive as hell, too."
"Yeah. An Oxford maths prof - explains the brain behind the cheekbones." John leaned back in his chair, taking a swig of tea. "So, what's House like, then?"
Wilson shrugged. "Brilliant, arrogant, narcissistic, a complete and utter pain in the ass about half the time, hasn't given a rat's ass about other people's feelings until recently, and still thinks he's God's gift to diagnostics. Which is true, but it doesn't help much when you just want to punch him." He gave John a thoughtful look. "So what's Sherlock like?"
John couldn't resist. "Brilliant, arrogant, probably asexual, behaves like a five year old far too often, takes an unholy glee in insulting people, and is one of the finest detectives in the world," he said, grinning. "And yeah, sometimes I want to punch him, too, especially when he drags me out at 2 AM to go look at a crime scene or leaves body parts in the fridge."
Wilson winced. "Okay, House never did that. But I bet Sherlock never got your bank accounts frozen by the police or stole your prescription pad for his own recreational use, either."
"This is true. I did wind up with an ASBO because of him, though."
"Anti-Social Behaviour Order. 'S what you give kids who've been spray-painting graffiti or breaking windows. Thanks to him, I can't go to the National Gallery anymore. And later on he crashed the first date I'd had in a year."
"Oh, you think that's bad?" Wilson hooted. "House showed up once when I was on a date and proposed to me. In front of my date and the entire restaurant."
"Every restaurant owner in London already thinks we're dating," John said. "And as for my real date, did I mention that Sarah and I were then kidnapped by Chinese smugglers who thought I was Sherlock, and they almost killed her with this dirty great spear-chucking device?"
Wilson paused. "Okay, you win," he admitted. "Both father and son are certifiable maniacs. And we're their sidekicks, God help us."
John held up his teacup, and Wilson tapped his own against it. "To sidekicks," the blond doctor announced. "Because someone has to take care of those maniacs."
"And we're the only ones crazy enough to do it," Wilson agreed.