Categories > TV > House > Impact

Impact

by MiikoAshida 3 Reviews

Wilson and House struggle to confront their changing relationship, Wilson's sudden, unidentified illness, and the fact that lies don't always work the way you want them to.

Category: House - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Allison Cameron, Eric Foreman, Gregory House, James Wilson, Lisa Cuddy, Robert Chase - Warnings: [!] [?] [X] - Published: 2006/12/13 - Updated: 2006/12/13 - 3618 words

The alarm clock blared once, twice, three times. The sound was penetrating, jarring. It screeched again.

Then it hit him.

James Wilson woke in earnest, kicking the covers, which had ceased to be warm some time ago, away from his legs. Briefly he considered grumbling a 'hello', but the frog in his throat and a new, growing pain on his shoulder snuffed the notion. "House," he rasped instead, "you'd just laugh if I asked for another five minutes, wouldn't you?" The words came out strangled and wheezy, but House seemed to get the gist of it.

"Probably," the older doctor agreed, tapping his cane impatiently. "Now get up and put some pants on."

Fighting back a wince, Wilson sat up; he massaged his temples with one hand, groping for the glass of water he knew House kept by the bed with the other. Drown a cold, as they say, and he could feel a whopper coming on.

"Oh, you big baby, I didn't hit you that hard. But next time I might, especially if you make me late, so get up."

"If one of us is late, we both are," Wilson pointed out.

"Wrong!" House corrected, eerily gleeful for someone still having morning breath. "I have a big, important board meeting today, because Cuddy, for some reason unknown to God or even to me, decided I should witness their brilliant proceedings. Sadistic bitch."

"Shit." Now there was a fuzzy memory of House mentioning it. "Sorry, I totally forgot."

"Hence the rude awakening. Give me that." He swiped the glass from Wilson's hand before the other man could take a sip. "You're going to get me sick."

Wilson coughed. "I feel like it. Can't I just stay home today, Daddy?"

"Number one, role playing, contrary to what you may hear from Dr. Cameron, does not turn me on. Number two, the Head of Oncology cannot afford to be sick. So the answer is no. I'll dress you myself if I have to, but we're out the door in twenty minutes regardless."

Groaning, Wilson resigned himself to a very tired, bleak day and rolled out of bed.

--

In the car, Wilson let House drive - an unusual but joyous event for House - and felt even sicker. Carsick, he self diagnosed. House slowed to 65 when he noticed the man's greyish face, though whether this was out of deference to his friend's discomfort or a wish to preserve the shiny finish on the leather upholstery, it was hard to say.

By the time they reached Princeton-Plainsborough, Wilson's hair was plastered to his forehead with perspiration.

House began to worry.

He dropped Wilson by the clinic with a nurse named Sophie whom he trusted both to be capable in managing Wilson's symptoms and to not confuse 'discomforted' with 'in desperate need of a personal administration of some TLC'. Officially three minutes late for Cuddy's meeting, he limped toward the elevator.

Chase caught him going in and grabbed his arm purposefully. "It's not a cold."

"What's not a cold?" House snapped.

"Wilson's symptoms are getting worse, and there have been some new developments. They sent me up here to ask you to take a look."

"Trust me, it's a cold. He'll feel icky for a couple of days, but the good news is that after the first he'll probably stop bitching about it to us. Congratulations, Chase, you've made me even later and pissed me off exponentially. Go do something useful."

Chase stood firm. "Sore throat, migraine, joint stiffness and blurry vision? Tell me what cold pattern those symptoms fit and I'll leave you alone."

Apparently interested, House rubbed a hand over his stubble. He tapped his cane a few times. Finally, he ordered, "Tell Sophie to give him an aspirin. You might also suggest a cup of chamomile tea with honey, but that's entirely up to whether you want to send the message that you care, or that you're his bedside slave."

"So what's causing all this?"

"Do I look like a man who really cares? I don't have time to play Holmes right now. Just do what I say, fix it or at least get it under control, and when I'm out of the meeting I will take a look and solve your little jigsaw puzzle. Okay?" Without waiting for an answer, House breezed past Chase and stalked into the meeting room.

"I'll be sure to tell him how a meeting meant more to you than his health," Chase called after House's retreating back.

--

Wilson was asleep when House found him in his office, after surviving Cuddy's 'board meeting' and badgering Sophie about where he was if he wasn't in the clinic, being treated:

"I gave him the aspirin, like Dr. Chase told me. But Dr. Wilson wanted to get back to his practice. He sort of outranks me. Besides, it seemed like a common cold to me, and all you can do with that is medicate it."

"Great. So where did he go?"

"His office, I think."

"What was he going to do there, paperwork? If the man can't see, he's useless in his practice anyway. You should have kept him here until I got out of my meeting."

"Is this something serious?"

"Well, it isn't a common cold. Those don't come with fun dancing spots in your vision or a rash."

Sophie had stared at him, surprised. "I sent Dr. Chase to you before the rash. How...?"

"I'm psychic." House rolled his eyes at her. "You sent him away after he got a rash? Ugh. Nurses. You're worse than Cameron and her 'people have free will to go home and die if they feel like it', because at least she knows better. I'm going to go find him before he collapses in an elevator and suffocates or something."

Looking back on it, he couldn't really blame her; she hadn't gotten all the information she needed and mild symptoms usually were left with treatment. After getting his meds, the patient could walk if he wanted. And Wilson wasn't just a patient. He was a doctor.

Which was why he should have known better.

"You idiot," House bellowed, shutting the glass door so that other people on the floor wouldn't hear their beloved oncologist getting chewed out. It had the desired effect; Wilson jumped, a couple papers stuck to his cheek, and stared around in confusion. "That disorientation you're feeling? It's not because you just woke up, and it's not because you have a headache. It's not even a result of your astounding stupidity."

"Oh, so it's because I didn't wait around for you to come play doctor on me?" Wilson asked, shaking a little of his bewilderment off. "Well, you might not have noticed, but I have a job, just like you. A cold is not going to keep me from doing it, and neither is your paranoia."

House rapped the desk with his cane, wanting to show his irritation without having to bash Wilson's head in. "I'm not paranoid. You have Sjogren's syndrome."

"Gesundheit?"

"Not funny. Sjogren's syndrome is a miserable, untreatable week's worth of bed rest. Which means you're going home as soon as I get my break so I can drive you. And you'll feel like crap for the next two months. Fortunately, you can't die of it."

"Fine. I'll drive myself." He reached for his keys, but House already dangled them from one finger.

"Ah ah ah. You're also extremely prone to fainting, so no car."

"You just want to drive my baby so you can wreck it."

"Aw, do you really think I'm that petty? You wound me!"

Wilson slumped down in his seat again and chose to ignore House's tapping on the floor with his cane.

"Hey, I think my break might be right now. Want to go get lunch?"

Through blurry eyes, Wilson stared up at House, trying to figure out whether it was some kind of trick question. Probably. His headache, which had worsened dramatically since his loud housemate came in, wasn't allowing for much detailed analysis. "Yeah, that sounds good." He wasn't fool enough to pass up a free meal, even though House would probably spike it with sleeping pills or something.

"Great! Let's go."

He stood up, swayed once, and saw House watching him with vague concern as everything got blurrier and started to spin. A hand grabbed him around the arm as suddenly, Wilson found himself becoming intimately acquainted with the floor.

--

"What happened?" was the first thing out of his mouth when he woke in an in-patient room, wearing a hospital gown and being checked out - not in the flirtatious, flattering kind of way - by an orderly.

"Wouldn't you like to know," cackled House, who was occupying the bedside chair. "I decided throwing you down and ravaging you right there on your office floor would be more satisfying than some cheap burger joint shakes, actually. No, really? You passed out all over me. I had to page Foreman to help me carry you. Cripples, you know? For some reason it's like we just aren't built for heavy labor."

"So you're saying I'm heavy."

"Middle-aged men are heavy; it's a well-documented fact. Nothing personal."

"Oh! Now I'm middle aged." Wilson crossed his arms across his chest.

"Are you being serious? Why so bitchy all of a sudden? God, you sound like Cameron; I tell her she's favoring a fat patient and it turns into 'oh, so I'm a cow?'"

The younger man groaned, reaching up to rest his head in his hands, but House grabbed his arm.

"Oh, no you don't. Wouldn't want that rash to spread to your already messed-up eyes. Be a shame if you weren't pretty anymore."

"Sorry. My headache isn't letting me think much."

"And it's giving you mood swings, too. I know! Maybe you're pregnant."

Seeing House's face full of carefully constructed sobriety, Wilson couldn't help laughing. "Julie will be pleased."

"Only if she's the father."

"Speaking of Julie, though... I have to talk to her and her lawyer about some, uh, personal matters. When will I be able to leave?"

"Well, as soon as you stop fainting at regular intervals, I'd imagine. But that's just a layman's opinion. Besides, Nurse Sophie seems determined to hold onto you until you're bright-eyed and bushy-tailed again, after her stupidity this morning. Then again, if you really want to give up a few days of sick leave and five-star cafeteria food, I could probably spring you loose by tomorrow or the next day. If you were willing to compensate."

"You can't drive the car, House. I'll take an angry ex-wife over that any day."

"Fine. But you're a selfish bully and you'll have to live with that."

"How soon?"

"You'll be out in two, maybe three days. Thursday at the latest."

"I bet Nurse Sophie knows the exact release date. Why don't you ask her?"

"Because unlike you, I don't look for the route that will take me most directly into the vicinity of a skirt."

Wilson snorted. "No, you prefer sandy blonde hair and fitted slacks. Silly me."

"You're a little off the mark there."

"Doubtful."

"Ask Chase: if given the choice of groping only one set of buttocks, I'd go for Cameron."

"You'd put one hand on either."

"I'm leaving now, before your deep and insightful theories of my sexual preferences shed light on some hidden part of my self that I never wanted to face up to again."

Out in the hallway, he re-weighed the question. On second thought, Cameron wearing Chase's fitted slacks...now that was a winning combination.

--

Sophie had told him Thursday, and on Thursday House had shown up, like clockwork, to take Wilson back to the apartment. As it turned out, Julie had her lawyer phone in, and their 'personal issues' were worked out over the phone. House would have liked to listen in on that. Aside from natural curiosity, he felt vindicated every time he saw how defunct that particular marriage had become. Cameron insisted that Wilson's inability to keep himself to himself did not constitute a patter of marital dysphoria among all couples, but she was wrong. Wilson just happened to show it more than most others.

Which was why, when he asked whether Wilson had accepted post-breakup comforting from any of the orderlies, House was surprised to believe the man when he said no.

"It's not a breakup, it's a divorce," was Wilson's rationalization. "You have to mope for a while after one of those, and you don't get sympathy from all your friends if you can mope and have sex at the same time."

"I didn't say anything about sex," House pointed out.

"Not just now, but in general you say it's all about sex."

"Everything?"

"Pretty much."

"...Us?"

"You should be so lucky."

"Not us, then."

"I suppose it depends."

"On if we ever actually had sex?"

"On if we ever wanted to, which I'm guessing you never did and I never could. But it's kind of a moot question, isn't it? I mean, why are we even discussing this in the hospital parking lot?"

"Because if we discuss it in my apartment as opposed to Cuddy's parking lot it puts you at a significant disadvantage, thus making you uncomfortable, thus not allowing you to open up about your long-denied and deeply buried feelings for me?"

"I have to admit, I do have a rather strong feeling for you." Wilson stepped into House's personal space, and House wondered whether the mysterious thought-blocking, sanity-killing effect of the Sjogren's syndrome had spread to him too, making him hallucinate that Wilson was leaning in toward him, running a hand down his side, reaching into his pocket...reaching into his pocket? "The feeling that I'd never, in a million years, let you drive my car." The man rescued his keys from among the various slips of paper and pens that lived in House's coat pocket, and was out of House's bubble with sudden efficiency and purpose.

"That's not fair play!" shouted House after him, but Wilson just waved the keys back over his shoulder. "Dirty. That man plays dirty." House shook his head, thinking maybe that whole conversation had been a simple ploy to distract him.

It was possible.

Possible, but not likely.

--

Wilson's freedom from hospital bed and fare was short-lived.

"I feel bloated," he complained to House on Friday morning.

"I didn't mean it when I called you heavy," rejoined House from the living room. "And you're not pregnant."

"No, my jaw, not my stomach."

"We're going to be late again. Just shave around your double chin and we can work on self-affirmation exercises in the car."

Wilson came out of the bathroom, feeling his jawline. House stared. "How long had that been there?"

"What?" Wilson sounded alarmed.

"You just went through your stupid complex preening ritual for thirty minutes and didn't notice the giant growth under your ear?"

"Growth? It feels swollen, not lumpy."

"Oh, trust me, it's lumpy." House snatched Wilson's hands away from his throat and began to carefully feel around the swell with his own fingers. Wilson shifted uncomfortably. "This wasn't here last night. And Sjogren's wouldn't cause lymphatic swelling. Even the flu could make it puff up this much in such a short period of time."

"What would?"

"Lots of things." House fixed his eyes with Wilson's. "None of them are good."

--

Cuddy was a little more than mildly upset. She barked at nurses, was short with patients, and slammed doors all morning. Outside of the oncologists, who had noticed the continued disappearance of their department head, everyone wondered what was wrong. Everyone except House, at whom her irritation was mostly aimed, had the good sense to keep out of her way.

"You misdiagnosed him and now it'll take twice as long to fix whatever is actually wrong with him!"

"I've misdiagnosed before. Why are you so worked up now?"

"I'm not worked up. I'm extremely disappointed. I want to know what's wrong with him, and as soon as it's taken care of I want him back on staff! You're picking up his clinic hours, by the way."

"That's just plain mean."

"Well, someone has to take them, and right now this mess is looking like your fault."

"I didn't give him whatever it is."

"No, but you've contributed to making it worse!"

"Take Chase. He's a good sacrifice: not terribly necessary, hates me anyway, and his head will look terrific mounted on your wall. It'll do a lot more good for the wall than it's doing what it's sitting on right now."

"I don't need sarcasm." Cuddy pinched the bridge of her nose. "Just figure this out. Please."

House propelled her out the door, while his 'ducklings' looked on. Once the door had closed on her, he whirled around the them with a look that said start thinking.

--

"Could be lupus," suggested Chase, glancing up to see if House's reaction would be what he thought it might.

It was. House whirled on him, irritation flaring as though Chase had suggested it just to piss him off, not because it actually fit the symptoms or anything, and snapped, "It's never lupus. How many times do you have to be told something before you get it?"

"He's just trying to be helpful," interjected Cameron, her lips pressed into a thin line.

"He's just being a moron. Now, does anyone have any ideas that might actually be useful that they want to share with the class? Yes? Little Susie in the back with the hideously dyed hair?"

Cameron was above rising to the bait. "Legionnaires' would explain everything except the blurry vision and goiter - it could also have triggered his migraine, and the migraine itself could cause an eyesight deficiency," she proposed levelly. "Goiters can develop for all kinds of reasons."

"Except the migraine is gone, and the eye problem remains. New theory!"

"Are you actually hoping to get a plausible cause, or have you figured it out and are letting Wilson suffer while you run us in circles for your own amusement?" Foreman replied.

"Nope, wrong. Keep guessing."

"Sarcoidosis," Chase offered.

"Possible but unlikely."

Cameron tried again. "Graves disease."

"Ooh, now that one I like. Wanna go run a test, since it's your brilliant conjecture?"

Not waiting for a reply, House scraped his chair back and snatched his cane off his desk. He waved to Chase and Foreman, who watched Cameron leave with a slight mixture of envy and pity. On the one hand, she was the favorite right now. On the other, House would probably make her do everything. That part, at least, was true.

"While she does a blood test, you guys can go grab lunch. Don't worry about coming back too quickly. I think we know how the test will turn out."

They didn't hesitate to take advantage of the break.

Neither did House.
--

"What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be working?"

"I am working. Patient care is part of the job description; you of all people should know that. I brought you lunch."

Wilson wrinkled his nose when he saw the paper bag. "You didn't make it yourself, did you?"

"No! Of course not. Remember that pasta you fixed last week?"

"And you wonder why I'm sick." The younger doctor rolled his eyes, fishing a ginger ale out of the bag. House raised his eyebrows.

"Not hungry? There's a taco in there, too. From that place down the block that you like."

"Unless you want it all over you, no thanks."

They munched away in silence after that, House eating both tacos and Wilson drinking only half his ginger ale. Finally, when House wasn't preoccupied with his food, he checked Wilson's charts and made a note on his clipboard. "Cameron came in here and jabbed you with needles, huh?"

"Yeah."

"Good. I thought maybe she decided to head for the border instead. She hates having to actually pull her weight, you know."

"You don't mean any of that. You like her as much as you like anybody."

"God, no! I'm a mean old hermit who can't stand anybody's company. Women especially. Stacy in particular."

Wilson winced inwardly. Why did House have to bring her up? It put a bitter aftertaste in their conversation and Wilson felt himself obligated, though he didn't feel like it, to defend the woman. "You definitely don't mean that. You miss her. I know you do."

"Like you miss Julie?"

"Yes!"

"Oh, well that explains perfectly why you split from your house the moment the papers were on the table and showed up on my doorstep, never looking back. The true actions of a man madly, deeply in unrequited love."

"She kicked me out." Wilson's voice was laced with irritation.

"Ri-ight."

"I'm not going to lie and say I don't still love her."

"That's comforting. There is some consistency in the world: an idiot once will an idiot forever remain."

"Is your idea of bedside manner to torment the patient?"

"Yes. But lucky for you, you're my only interesting case today."

"'Interesting' as in, 'I have no idea what's wrong with you' or 'interesting' as in 'nobody else has any idea what might be wrong with you, hence giving me an excuse to pretend the solution is eluding me and look important, while I prolong your illness for my own purposes'?"

"Hm...both. I do know what it is, but you're also an excellent excuse to slack off from clinic duty."

"So what is it?"

House gave him an exaggeratedly suspicious stare. "You won't tell Nurse Ratched over there," he nodded to the orderly who stood just outside the door, "will you?"

"Scout's honor."

"Graves disease."
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