Summary: Wilson is given an unexpected opportunity to prove his friendship to House. This story is my own attempt to make sense of the unsettling disruption of the House-Wilson dynamic in Season 3, so mention is made of many of the S3 plotlines and character development. House-Wilson-Cuddy angst, hurt/comfort, introspection--my usual gig. ;) x-posted
CHAPTER EIGHT: CHILD’S PLAY
As Wilson enters, the ‘lion’ is looking more like a lion cub who’s just been soundly cuffed by mama. House is lying on the bed, has his arms crossed against his chest, his mouth tightly pursed, and he’s glowering.
“Nice expression, House,” Wilson observes dryly. “You look like an angry three-year-old. Matches well with recent reports of your behavior.”
House turns the scowl on Wilson. “Don’t screw with me. I’ve already gotten rid of a nursing assistant and a nurse. Wouldn’t mind adding a doctor to that list.”
Wilson marches over to the bed and produces an EMLA patch and a blue lollipop from his pocket. He hands the lollipop to a clearly baffled House, removes the backing from the skin-numbing patch, and places it over a large vein in the crook of House’s right elbow. Then he crosses his own arms and looks down sternly at House. It’s a little difficult to maintain the stern expression though; the exaggerated confusion on House’s face as he looks from the patch to the candy makes him want to laugh.
“Ohh-kaay….” House finally says. “Wanna tell me what the hell is going on?”
“All my pediatric patients get the patch and the pop,” Wilson hisses.
House gets it now—but instead of looking properly chastised, he grins, then tears at the cellophane on the lollipop with his teeth. “Cool,” he says mildly.
Wilson’s eyes widen. “You think this is funny? Cute, maybe? You blew it, buddy. Cuddy’s reaction to hearing about your little performance was to hospitalize you—until the floor nurses heard about it and two of them threatened to quit on the spot. Then she figured she’d pacify the agency by firing you. I—idiot that I am—made the mistake of pointing out that she can’t do that while you’re out with a work-related injury. And you know what she said?”
Now House’s eyes are wide, and he actually looks a little worried. He’s clearly mistaken the strain in Wilson’s voice for anger, when actually it’s a result of Wilson’s attempt to suppress his laughter at House’s antics. Works for me, Wilson thinks. Let him think I’m mad; game plan’s working out great so far.
“She said,” Wilson says, and pauses for effect, “that since she can’t punish you, she’ll punish me instead. So you’re stuck with me. And—just in case that wasn’t clear enough—allow me to introduce myself. My name is James Wilson, and I usually just put an ‘MD’ after it, but our boss has recently added an ‘HHA’. And an ‘RN’. Meet your new home health care staff. All of it.” He executes a stiff, formal bow and glares at House.
House stares back at him. Okay, Cuddy, House thinks. I’m playing it your way; so far it’s working. Let’s see how long it lasts. “Pleased to meet’cha,” House says primly to Wilson. Then he puts the lollipop in his mouth and sucks contentedly on it, hoping the candy’s hiding his triumphant smile.
Wilson turns away quickly and makes himself very busy preparing the syringes for the heplock; he’s got a triumphant smile of his own to hide.
Once he’s got everything ready, Wilson gloves up and returns to the bedside. Wordlessly, he removes the EMLA patch from House’s arm. Wordlessly, he inserts the IV catheter into the vein, then attaches the heplock. Wordlessly, he administers the flush and caps the lock. As he tapes everything into place, he glances up at House. “‘Rampaging rhinoceros,’ huh?”
House regards him. “I shouldn’t have called her that,” he says regretfully, seriously. He waits a beat. “I meant to call her a hysterical hippopotamus.”
They meet each other’s eyes, and as Wilson sees House’s mouth begin to quirk into a mischievous smile, he starts laughing. Then they’re laughing together, and both men are thinking, this might just work.
“So,” Wilson says, “let’s get the vancomycin started. Run it in over an hour, right?”
House nods, but doesn’t say anything. Wilson hangs the antibiotic and attaches the tubing to the heplock, then sets the pump. He sits down and asks quietly, “What happens now?”
House is happy to switch from patient mode to doctor mode. “It’s pretty boring. Assuming we’ve got the right antibiotic, we stay with it until a culture comes back clear. Should be able to go back to work in a few days. Won’t be able to perform any invasive procedures until the cultures are clear, but that’s what the Three Musketeers are for.” Now he grins. “And I won’t be able to do any paperwork, or clinic duty, until my hand heals. And I’m thinking that’s gonna take a long, long time!”
Wilson grins back, and wishes he didn’t have to ask the next question. “And if it’s not the right stuff?”
“We try again. But the stats on MRSA for this region say this’ll work.” House looks away from him; Wilson decides not to press it.
He’d been hoping that House would outline his plan for the complications specific to his own case—the borderline kidney and liver function that are a direct result of his Vicodin use. The meds he’s chosen might be the right ones for this strain of MRSA, but Wilson wants to know what their options will be if the meds themselves begin to cause renal failure or liver shutdown. Now Wilson decides that if House doesn’t feel the issue’s worth mentioning, it’s only because the problem is unlikely to occur. And I’m right here with him, watching him around the clock. Even if he’s stupid enough to try to ignore it, I’ll know. We’ll catch it early; we’ll deal with it.
The vancomycin’s been infusing for twenty minutes when House begins to scratch at his arm, near the IV site.
“What’s wrong?” Wilson asks.
“Probably nothing. A little irritation around the site; pretty common with the heavy-duty antibiotics.”
But five minutes later the itching has spread, and House is beginning to look decidedly uncomfortable.
“An allergic reaction?” Wilson stands and prepares to shut off the pump.
“No,” House says. “A side effect that, apparently, I’m susceptible to. Don’t stop the infusion; cut the rate in half. And where’d you hide the code box?”
“How’d you know I brought one?” Wilson asks sheepishly as he steps out to retrieve the red metal box from a low bookshelf in the living room.
House rolls his eyes and calls after Wilson, “You were born expecting bad things to happen; it’s why you chose Oncology. You expect the worst, and you prepare for it.”
Wilson returns with the box. “Now what?” He notes that House is growing increasingly restless; he’s starting to become anxious himself.
House picks up right away on his anxiety. “Now take a breath and calm down. Not an emergency; just damned uncomfortable. Pull up 100mg of diphenhydramine; give it IV as fast as you can push it. That’ll solve the problem.”
“That’s it?” Wilson’s already got the med drawn up. He inserts the needle into a port in the tubing and empties the syringe quickly.
“That’s it,” House confirms. And less than a minute later, the scratching’s already become less frantic. But House is engaging in another odd behavior; he’s attempting, repeatedly, to draw Wilson into an argument.
Wilson is puzzled, and more than a little concerned. Then he realizes that what House is really doing is trying to fight off the sedating effect of the antihistamine. It’s a losing battle, so Wilson just agrees quietly with every ridiculous statement House makes, as the pauses between arguments become longer.
House tries one last time; Wilson responds that House is absolutely correct—Cuddy’s the worst administrator this side of Harry S. Truman. House wants to get angry that Wilson’s refusing to be baited, but it seems so much easier just to close his eyes and concentrate on that familiar soft, kind voice floating somewhere above his head.
“It’s okay. Just go with it, House. I’m here.”
As House finally succumbs to the medication, he thinks he hears Wilson whisper, “I’m staying right here; count on it.”
House has one more thing to say. He could swear he shouts, “Stop hovering!” But what comes out is, “tha’s good,” and it’s scarcely louder than a sigh.