part 6

As the curtains opened to let in the midday sun, Madeline shielded her eyes and asked North what was going on.

As he began to explain the situation concerning her lungs, concerning the mistake she had made; her world was blocked out for a moment. It didn't matter what he said as he hung the IV nor did it matter about the surgery she would soon have.

The words from Doctor Vale rang in her head surrounding House and in that moment, she knew her friend would learn the truth. I should've known, she thought as she went under the scalpel.

In a clinic across town, House asked a young lobby clerk to let him see the back of the vet. Something about the possibility that one of their dogs might be a carrier for a tick or a bacterium.

He flashed his badge as though he was a cop and then she showed him in. Peering at each cage, trying to determine who was the guilty culprit, he found nothing out of the ordinary.

No unusual bites, or fur falling off.

No obvious signs of any asbestos at all.

Madeline had been wrong.

He realized this all too late as he turned about and saw the gold lab staring at him wagging his tail and House remarked sourly, "Don't try and play innocent." A few moments later, a call came thru to the OR. House was asking them to stall the surgery. But it was too late, they'd already induced Madeline and were making an incision to reach her right lung. As he hung up the phone, House reached for one of the stronger narcotics and then whistled softly.

The dog leaped forward, panting softly and sitting attentively as he injected it with the medicine. Tossing the syringe aside he glanced up and called out for someone to bring him a carrier.

It didn't matter that he sped, nor that he called once more trying to get in touch with Matthews. Maybe the neurologist would listen, but he doubted it. Walking into the hospital, he spotted North approaching him and asked, yet already knowing the answer, "What happened?"

"Her right lung collapsed, what we saw on the MRI was a shadow, hiding a larger cancer. Matthews called it at 5:54," North answered and then glanced down at the dog and asked, "What's this?"

"Exhibit A," House growled angrily as he walked toward the elevator with the carrier in his right hand.

Later that night, down in the morgue as he performed an autopsy on Max, the golden lab Cuddy entered and remarked, "Is there a new policy concerning animal care that I'm unaware of?"

"The dog was wearing perfume," House declared as he took off his glasses and stared at her.

"I'm sorry?" she asked in surprise to which he explained, "This was her dog. The perfume was hers. She sealed her own fate when she used it, even though she realized it."

For a moment, she wasn't sure what he meant.

"The ingredients set off a reaction, leading to her having a stroke; which ultimately led to her death. She worked herself to death, all because of a stupid dog," House said miserably.

"There's no way you could've stopped it. She's probably been using that perfume for months, it's what caused the lung cancer," Cuddy said, placing a hand on his shoulder and he nodded dumbly before answering, "I know."

Nodding, she turned to leave, not saying another word as he stared at the form of the dead animal and then slid the gurney away. A few moments later, the sound of other footsteps approaching.

This time belonging to Wilson.

"I got in touch with Ron. He's going to come and pick up Christie tomorrow," he said with a sigh.

House nodded again, glancing at the dog and then commenting softly, "I killed her Wilson."

"Why? Because of the lisinoprel? That didn't cause this," James said softly.

"The signs were all there and I ignored it. I ignored it simply to solve a puzzle," House said coldly and added, "She was depressed."

"What do you mean?" he asked. Opening his hand, he showed him the stress medication, the kind Madeline had been taking and added, "She's known she's had lung cancer for awhile now. Probably since the divorce. Too much of a coward to take her own life. She left it in my hands." "I… I don't believe this," Wilson remarked, his mouth going dry.

"All I did was give it a push. The liver failure did the trick, the steroids probably caused the lung to collapse, and then…" House paused and then pushed the cart over, toppling it with a loud crash as he stood up and said softly, "She manipulated me from the start."

"Even if what you're saying is true…" Wilson paused and then said softly, "It may be she knew you were the only way to end the pain. She trusted you to push her. Even if it was just to die without suffering."

"Great, so now everything in the world will turn into rainbows," House growled sourly and then added, "Well guess what, her plan worked; she died. Happy and dead! I feel so much better."

"She fooled us both, but maybe it's better than the alternative," Wilson said to which he answered coldly, "Yeah, seems this whole place is infected with cowards, isn't it?" Without another word, he walked out of the morgue and switched off the lights, leaving Wilson in the dark in so many different ways.

END