Disclaimer: Don't own House. I do own Jensen. And Abby. :)
A/N: Here we go on the next roller coaster in the Pranks universe. In order, they are When Pranks Go Wrong, Desperado, You Raise Me Up, Onslaught, Equinox, Equinox Revisited, Medical Homicide, Sick Day, and Two Sessions. Please note that my schedule work and otherwise has recently changed, and things thus got more complicated. Don't expect updates as quickly on this one as my standard. I am not a doctor; research has been done, but that's all I can do. Sorry for any errors. There's a lot of medical in this one, but it's the psychological interplay that's much more the point of it all. I'm also not an assassin. Research has been done, etc. Making somebody truly a few fries short of a Happy Meal also helps in avoiding assassin characterization errors. If you are a successful doctor or a successful assassin, just grin at any procedural errors you spot and remind yourself from your computer how much better you could have done it (or from your jail cell, if not so successful in your past life). The President of the United States is fictional. The one in this story, at least. I do not wish any bodily illness or injury upon the real president, although I won't be voting for him in 2012.
"I have a favor to ask."
To that point, it had been a fairly routine session between House and Jensen, though House had thought the psychiatrist was exceptionally focused today, as if keeping his mind off something else through his work, an exercise House had used himself at times. Now as the session wound down at the end, though, Jensen abruptly shifted gears. House could almost hear the change in the engine, feel the transmission engage. Jensen suddenly wasn't the calm, professional psychiatrist anymore, simply a man who looked somewhat worried.
House couldn't help tensing up a bit as apprehension fought curiosity. Okay, he did owe Jensen quite a bit by this point, but still, having the score card abruptly pulled out and laid on the table by someone who had often encouraged him that not everybody carried relationship score cards was a bit unsettling. What would be the price tag demanded here? He knew he had no choice but to pay it. "What do I have to do?" he asked.
Jensen studied him, puzzled momentarily - another sign of his internal perturbation - then suddenly understanding. "Purely as a favor. Not payback, not required. You don't have any obligation. I'm just asking as a friend, not checking some personal balance sheet on who owes whom."
House shook his head slightly. "You must be pretty hard up for friends if you're counting me in that category."
"Actually, I consider myself quite rich in them," Jensen replied sincerely. House blinked, absorbing that. "Don't you want to at least hear what it is?"
Curiosity surged to the forefront. This was an anomaly; Jensen didn't routinely try to use him for his own ends. "Okay, shoot."
"I'd like you to see Mark."
"Medically, you mean?" Jensen nodded. "What's wrong with him?"
"I'm not sure. But I'm sure that something is."
"What does he say? What are the symptoms?"
"He says there aren't any and that I'm just imagining it."
"Ah, so you're calling in a favor - purely non score card variety - on both of us."
"Right," the psychiatrist replied.
This ought to be fun. Patient and doctor both there by obligation, under pressure from external factors. "Has he seen his own doctor about these nonexistent symptoms?"
"No. He gets annual checkups, last one was fine. It was eight months ago."
"What exactly are these imaginary symptoms that you see and he doesn't?" House asked.
"He just doesn't feel right," Jensen said. "I can't put my finger on it, but something is off. Specifically physically."
"Are you two routinely tuned into each other?" House knew that some identical twins had an undefined connection. That was scientifically proven, even if not entirely explained.
"Yes. I knew when he had appendicitis before he did. He knew when I had that bad stomach bug several months ago and called to check on me that weekend. He also knew something was wrong the night Melissa filed for divorce; he called to check on me even before I called him. He simply hasn't seemed like himself the last few weeks. I went to see him this last weekend just to check things out in person, even though we normally talk at least weekly anyway, usually more. We're good friends. Actually seeing him, I'm sure of it. There is something off, but I can't define it any better than that."
"Where does he live, anyway?"
House grinned. "And he's willing to come clear to Princeton to see a doctor for symptoms he doesn't agree exist?"
"As a favor to me, yes. Even though he thinks it's a waste of time. He did specifically say that some time next week would work best. His wife is out of town that week on a trip with old college friends."
"And without him?" House arched an eyebrow.
"To my knowledge - and feelings - they're fine. It's just one of those purely women's trip things, old girlfriends spending time together catching up. None of them are taking their husbands. But I'll agree he's using the opportunity to hide the fact from her that he's thinking of seeing a doctor at all. He doesn't want her to worry."
House was starting to get into this now. He'd never had the chance before to treat the identical twin of somebody whom he knew very well, and the opportunity for some in-depth comparing and contrasting was fascinating. Plus he did put a lot of weight into Jensen's judgment. The psychiatrist was the only person he'd ever met who was anywhere near as observant as himself. If Jensen thought something was physically wrong with his brother, he most likely was right. "Okay, I'll see him. This could be interesting."
Jensen relaxed slightly. "Thank you. What does your schedule look like that week? Do you even have regular appointments?" He knew House worked strictly from the hospital, not from an outside medical office.
"Not usually. Normally, I'm just consulted on inpatient cases. Plus the internet questions, but the ones I actually see are pretty much limited to inpatients. And formerly clinic duty, but I'm off that permanently by this point for being in therapy. Cuddy gave up tracking hours with you; she said I fudged them and it was easier to just give up trying to keep it straight." House subconsciously ran a hand down his thigh, feeling the deep ache. There had been legitimate reasons, not just related to boredom, why he had hated clinic duty. The normal schedule of a doctor, going straight from appointment to appointment with that much time on his feet without breaks, was difficult for him. He was sure that had been a factor in Cuddy's clinic duty decision as she noted things living with him that she hadn't realized in full before, but he appreciated her calling it something else. "No reason why I can't make an appointment, though. I'm sure we could find an exam room somewhere for a quick physical. Okay, you can give him my number."
Jensen had noted House rub his leg, but he knew better than to comment. "Thank you. I do appreciate it." He stood up, opening the implied door of escape so that House could leave promptly instead of facing gratitude.
Sure enough, House got up as quickly as he was capable of, eager to get out of the office now. "Tell him not to call tonight, though." House looked at his watch, calculating the drive back. "I have a hot date waiting for me."
Jensen smiled. "So do I." Feeling reassured already at having set House on the trail of the undefined whatever that gnawed at his instincts, he followed House out of the inner office, switching the light off. Time to go home.
The dean of the university was starting to wonder if the Secret Service men were even real as he watched them make yet another inspection of the big auditorium, merely their latest in a string of visits over the last few weeks. They resembled more than anything androids, he decided. Expressionless faces, search light eyes that swept the surroundings like radar. Even now, with the large room empty and the president far away, they were looking for trouble, running that program as if it were the only one they knew. He tried to imagine these men playing golf or at home with families, in bed with spouses, and he simply couldn't do it. Once again, they swept efficiently through the room, diligently looking for the risks that were not there, at least not right now.
The dean had thought at first that it was a good idea to ask the president, an alumnus from decades ago, to speak at Princeton's annual commencement. A nice shot of publicity for the University, an honor for the students. But now, watching the frenetic preparations, he was beginning to wonder if having the president as a guest of honor was more trouble than it was worth.
Too late to change plans now. But he hung a mental note to never have this bright idea again. If the president ever came again to Princeton, the dean planned to be off somewhere fishing, far away from procedures, responsibilities, security, and the men with the restless, roving eyes programmed solely for trouble. It will all be over in a few more days, he promised himself. After next week, things will get back to normal.
It was Damocles who in mythology had longed to try out the luxurious life of a ruler, yet who, when Dionysius agreed to allow him that life for a day, was shocked to discover a sword hanging over his head, suspended by a single horse hair. Amidst all the elements of the good life, the sword remained there, always hovering, threatening to descend and slice through the benefits of the position, killing it all at any moment.
Wilson could sympathize.
Sitting on the couch next to Sandra, his arm around her, her leaning up against him as they watched the movie, he could almost think that life was a treasure, a luxury beyond any palace he had dreamed of. The last several months had been difficult but also a miracle of discovery. To actually truly get to know someone as he had never done in any of his previous relationships, to get to know her as a person. To slowly, tentatively let her actually get to know him. To experience the process that he had always ignored, always previously just jumping off the high dive into the deep end of the pool rather than wading in gradually from the shallow end. Yes, the high dive had the exhilarating plunge, but the other way, you could appreciate every single caress of the water, feel it expanding and claiming you inch by inch as it slowly and deliciously got deeper.
It was a new world for Wilson. Yes, there had been the frustration, maddening at times, of no sex. But there was also a relationship being built on more than just sex, and he had to admit that Sandra played fair. If he hadn't had sex with anybody else in months, neither had she, and she had had pregnancy hormones to deal with. She was getting to the stage now where physical activities would have been limited anyway, but Wilson sensed that full activities would be resuming soon once they were beyond the delivery, once everything was over, once she was not pregnant and was recovered from the likely cesarean section. He was, ever so slowly, proving both to himself and her that he could change. He knew he was making substantial progress in her eyes.
Once everything was over . . .
That was the sword hanging overhead, suspended on its single hair. For all of Wilson's communication efforts, for all the times that he had forced himself to stand up and say, "My name is James Wilson, and I'm an alcoholic," for all his legitimate efforts over the last several months, he also knew that the final verdict almost certainly rested on something already decided, something he couldn't change no matter how he tried. Their child had to be healthy. The odds were good, he reminded himself. But he saw too many cases of defying the odds, both positively and negatively, in his profession to trust mere figures. If this child was born with neurological problems because of his being a cheating asshole months ago, the sword would at that moment fall. He wasn't sure he could deal with having permanently maimed or even killed his son. He certainly wouldn't blame her for not being able to deal with it.
Their child had to be healthy.
He looked down at Sandra's swelling belly, new life waiting to emerge. Life that he had created. He had seen the child on ultrasound, had felt him move. He reached over now with his free hand, resting it lightly against her abdomen. She didn't react, and he switched his gaze up to her face and realized that she had fallen asleep against him as the neglected movie played on. Her head was on his shoulder. He looked down at her features, and his hand rubbed lightly across her belly. A tidal wave of love like he had never felt before in his life hit him, sweeping him along in its power.
He smiled, then suddenly, remembering once again, he looked up. The sword was still there.
Cuddy leaned back in the car and watched House drive home. She felt full to the brim at the moment not only of good food from their favorite restaurant but simply of the good life. She was married to House. She had two adorable if quite different daughters. Finally, she had the family she had always dreamed of. In spite of all the efforts of John House and drunk drivers and Patrick Chandler, the family was intact and was hers, they had come through the difficulties together, and nothing was ever going to take them away. She suddenly envied Belle the ability to purr.
House looked over as they stopped at a light. "You okay, Lisa?"
"I'm absolutely wonderful."
"Did I? Well, if I did, it was a good sigh, Greg."
He rolled his eyes. "So sighs come in good and bad, too. Like tears, I guess. Do women make this stuff up just to try to confuse us?"
She grinned. "Yes, it's actually a huge conspiracy."
"I knew it." He started back up as the light turned green, though he did take a moment to triple check each way first, an obsessive habit that still remained even a year and a half after the accident. "So if that was a good sigh, do we still get to enjoy dessert as the final course at home tonight?"
"I can't wait," she assured him, and he sped up slightly.
Home. Going home with her husband to her family.
Life couldn't get any better than this.