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Cats' Corners: the little HOUSE in the woods....
Where House is NEVER safe...
The More Things Change... Chapter ELEVEN 
17th-May-2007 09:15 am
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
Rating:  PG

Chapter One 
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten



Wilson’s in the kitchen cooking dinner when it happens.  As soon as he hears House call his name, he knows.  He’s surprised that he isn’t surprised, nor even panicked.  And he realizes that he’s known, from the moment he overheard the conversation in the hospital hallway, that this is how things are going to play out.


He calmly turns off the oven and puts the casserole dish in the refrigerator.  He answers House, “Be right there,” and his voice sounds normal.  He washes his hands carefully.  He takes three slow, deep breaths, and he walks into the living room.


House is sitting on the couch, and the first thing Wilson notices is that the room is unusually quiet—the TV’s been turned off.  The second thing Wilson sees is the strange mixture of fear and resignation in House’s eyes.  And the third thing Wilson becomes aware of is the smell.


“You just vomited?”


“Yeah,” House says quietly.  “Good thing, too.  Got rid of some of the fluid that’s… uh… not comin’ out the normal way.”


Wilson sits beside him on the couch.  When he speaks, he matches House’s quiet tone.  “You’re going into renal failure.”  It’s not a question, but House nods anyway.  “How long?”


“Guess it’s been about eight hours, maybe ten.”  House reaches down to lift the loose cuffs of his sweatpants, revealing clearly swollen feet and ankles.  He stares at his feet, doesn’t look at Wilson, as he says, “We’ll wanna get some bloodwork, confirm it.”


Both Wilson and House know that they don’t need any bloodwork to tell them that House’s kidneys are threatening to shut down.  Wilson doesn’t point this out, though.  He simply reaches for the automatic blood pressure cuff, wraps it around House’s arm, and turns it on.


“One eighty-two over one-oh-two,” he tells House.  “I’ll call an ambulance, let Cuddy know we’re coming in.”  He stands and takes his cell phone out of his pocket.  


No.  Let’s just draw the bloodwork, omit the next dose of vanc.  It can wait ‘til morning.”


Now Wilson is surprised.  House is a nephrologist; he knows that this can’t wait.   Wilson wonders briefly if the renal failure is already interfering with House’s mentation, clouding his thought processes.  No, don’t think so.  He’s frightened, and he’s in denial.  He knows what’s happening—just needs someone to lay it out, make it real.  Not someone.  Me.


Wilson puts the phone back in his pocket, sits down beside House again.  He speaks softly.  “This isn’t a pizza, House.  You don’t get to make a choice here; I’m sorry.  But I’ll tell you what; we’ll skip the ambulance and the ER.  I’ll call Cuddy, have her get a room ready.  And I’ll escort you personally.  How’s that?”


The resignation and the fear are still warring in House’s eyes; acceptance hasn’t even begun to make an appearance yet.  “I don’t know….” he says, and the confused vulnerability in his tone worries Wilson every bit as much as everything else.


“That’s what we’ll do then,” Wilson responds confidently, as if House had answered in the affirmative.  “I’ll take you in, and I’ll be with you every step of the way.  You don’t get a choice on that, either.”


House smiles a little.  “No surprise there,” he says, and now Wilson hears the start of acceptance—and relief.


“Glad you’re seeing things my way,” Wilson teases gently.  “Gonna go call Cuddy; you just try to relax, okay?”


House nods, although both men know that asking House to relax is right up there with asking him to stop thinking. Wilson goes to the kitchen so he can talk with Cuddy in private.  He knows Cuddy’s going to want to send an ambulance, and he needs to make House’s current state of mind clear to her.


Wilson’s pleased that it doesn’t take much convincing—Cuddy understands immediately, and promises to have a private room ready and to expedite the admission.  She’ll notify the lab of the tests that’ll be necessary, and put the dialysis team on stand-by.


When Wilson returns to the living room, House is just as he’d left him—sitting stiffly on the couch, staring at a far wall.  But he looks up at Wilson, and says steadily, “I’m guessing this won’t be a drive-by.  Mind packing a few things for me?”


Wilson’s happy to have a mindless task; it’ll give both him and House a few minutes to process what’s happening now, what’s going to happen when they get to the hospital.  This shouldn’t have been so quick; he’s way too sick, it’s way too soon.  His kidneys were borderline, sure, but just yesterday the labs were still in acceptable range.  And I’m guessing his fever’s at least 103 now.


Wilson opens the medicine cabinet to grab some toiletries—and suddenly the puzzle’s solved.  He reaches slowly for the flat cardboard container.  He reads the label carefully, and then he reads it again before opening the box and checking its contents.  Shaking his head sadly, he slides the small box into his pocket.  For a moment, regret threatens to overwhelm him. 


Before he returns to House, he reaffirms his promise to see House through this, no matter what.  He splashes his face with cold water, breathes deeply, makes certain his expression shows none of the anguish he’s feeling—this isn’t the time to confront House about his discovery.  It’s too late anyway; nothing to be gained by talking about it, not right now.


“Quick set of vitals, then we’ll get going,” Wilson tells House when he returns to the living room.  House sits motionless throughout the procedure, and doesn’t ask about the numbers.  Fever’s 104 now; B/P is through the roof, and he’s tachycardic.  At least now I know why, for all the good that’ll do him.  God, House, I’m sorry.  I’m so damned sorry….


In the car, House doesn’t speak at all.  Wilson tries to think of something reassuring to say, or even just something comforting.  But this is House—he knows too much.  All the platitudes which would be gratefully accepted by anyone else will be seen by House as insults to his intelligence.  So Wilson follows House’s lead, and the drive is made in utter silence.


Once they arrive at PPTH, things happen faster than Wilson would’ve thought possible.  House gives him the okay to go take care of the admission details “because you’re good at all that boring clerical stuff,” and when he arrives at House’s room, the lab’s just leaving.  House has already been catheterized, and Wilson notes that there’s less than an ounce in the tubing; not even enough to have reached the urine collection bag.  Cuddy, who’s overseeing all the activity, tells Wilson that House had ordered the dialysis team out of the room, pending the results of the labwork, but that he has agreed to the IV administration of Lasix, a diuretic that might help his kidneys do their job.


House—never the most compliant of patients—isn’t actually in the bed; he’s lying on it, and looking as if he might bolt at any second.  He’s even still got his favorite pair of athletic shoes on—but they can’t hide the edema in his feet and ankles.  Wilson can tell that the swelling’s increased just since they left home.  And now, under the unforgiving glare of the hospital lighting, Wilson can’t deny that there’s also facial edema, and that there’s a fine tremor in House’s hands—all signs of kidney failure.


Cuddy and Wilson look at each other, and then both look at House.  Cuddy wonders if it’s just all the hospital trappings—the gown, the IV, the room itself—that are making House appear so ill, so suddenly frail, or if things really might be as serious as they seem.  Wilson doesn’t wonder at all; he knows.


After a couple of minutes of a silence that’s uncomfortable for all of them, Cuddy clears her throat.  “I think I’m gonna go light a fire under the lab; we need those results.”  She throws Wilson a good luck glance as she leaves.


Wilson walks over to the bed.  “Some sort of fashion statement?” he asks, indicating House’s shoe-clad feet.


“Yeah; figured they’d give the gown something to aspire to,” House answers.


But Wilson’s noticed something; the athletic shoes are untied, the laces loosened—and the tops of the shoes are still biting into House’s ankles.  “You couldn’t get them off.”


State the Obvious; my favorite game,” House answers irritably.  But he lies there too quietly and allows Wilson to gently work the shoes off his swollen feet.  Once they’re off, Wilson quickly pulls the blanket up from the end of the bed and covers House’s legs.


“Outta sight, outta mind?” House questions dryly.


“No; thought you might be co—.  Yeah.”  Wilson smiles apologetically.


“Works for me,” House says in a matter-of-fact voice, and reaches for the TV remote.  “Wanna catch some Saturday Night Wrestling while we’re stuck here playing Let’s Pretend?”


I’m doing the best I can, House.  “Works for me,” Wilson echoes, and sits at the bedside, staring blindly at the TV screen, while they both pretend they’re thinking about anything except the pending lab results.

Chapter Twelve

17th-May-2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
yay! Thanks for updating so quickly! I don't often read WIP, because I'm too damn impatient, but i've really been enjoying this. Keep 'em comin'!
17th-May-2007 02:05 pm (UTC)
as long as you kids keep reading and enjoying, i'll happily keep writing! :)
17th-May-2007 02:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, it is going to be bad for House- and it's got to be tough on House because he does know exactly what is happening to him. Like how Wilson didn't panic when it started, though knowing Wilson he's going to push aside his reactions for a while to help House until he has no choice but to deal with them. They're both pretty good at denial. Hopefully being at the hospital is going to help (and having Cuddy nearby too.)

Thanks for the chapter- and I'm ready for more angst! Bring it on! :)
17th-May-2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
you're welcome--and i will! i've found that, in general, what's bad for house is good for us--and there is much badness in store for house. ;)
17th-May-2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks for another great chapter. I think I need to go to rehab b/c I'm addicted to this story. Nah, this is a good addiction. Thanks so much for all your hard work in crafting this story -- I literally enjoy it more than the show at this point, and think it's truer to the characters of House than the show itself (if that makes any sense to anyone but me).
17th-May-2007 03:52 pm (UTC)
what a lovely compliment! and please, don't feel alone in your disappointment about the character interaction and development (or lack thereof) this season; my own disappointment and confusion are two of the primary reasons i'm writing this story--i feel a compelling need to 'fix' it. ;)
17th-May-2007 04:16 pm (UTC)
Aw man I knew I had a bad feeling about that fever!
17th-May-2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
yup--and things go downhill from here, i'm afraid.
17th-May-2007 04:46 pm (UTC)
And there again I find the present under the Xmas tree ! you're keeping your word : a chapter per day, awsome !
you sooo speak Housian fluently, I'm in awe.
And you're so in our head (non, don't get out, it's ok), hiting the road I wish the writers had taken in this season. Seriously, it works for me. Hope Shore and Kaplow outshined themselves for the big Finale. If not, all your fans will club together to offer you a camera and a set of actors (HL, RSL and LE being of course enthousiastic to work with you) to shoot season 4.
Thanks again.
17th-May-2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
a camera and a set of actors (HL, RSL and LE

rofl! does that mean i'll have to send my imaginary versions away? 'cuz i've grown quite fond of them. of course, for the real thing i might be persuaded.... ;)
17th-May-2007 05:11 pm (UTC)
*very interested in the small cardboard box* Ooo, I'm excited for tomorrow. Mysteries are fun. Yay!

Don't know how you keep up the chapter-a-day pace as a writer. That is, I do know how it's accomplished, but I'm so impressed that I will claim non-knowledge. ;)
17th-May-2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
*very interested in the small cardboard box*

was wondering if anyone picked up on that....

keeping up the pace is usually easy for me, once i get into the story. i don't work, i don't have a social life, and i can take only so much of trying to be super-mom--so what better to do than write! (ummm... maybe do something about the decrepit state of my house, and the two weeks' worth of laundry which practically shouts at me every time i go by it--but we will so not go there) ;)
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17th-May-2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
Of all the cliffhangers out there, the cardboard box is really killing me.
17th-May-2007 05:45 pm (UTC)
it's... uh... killing house as well. (veg)
17th-May-2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, I can empathize with House's swelly feet, right now. Since, you know, they've become a pretty common thing for 34-week-pregnant me to see when I DO manage to see my feet. :)
17th-May-2007 06:01 pm (UTC)
which is why it's a really good idea to stay off them, as much as possible. believe me, you'll be on them plenty once the wee one arrives (and for the next 18 or so years... groan). even with the crippled right leg, and even though my wee one is eleven years old, most of the time i log on my feet is devoted to the little darling (you wouldn't believe how quickly i'm wearing out cane tips these days!).
17th-May-2007 07:19 pm (UTC)
How long are you going leave us hanging before you tell us WHAT'S IN THE BOX!
Really enjoying House's suffering :-)
17th-May-2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
not long--just 'til tomorrow. it's a slightly longer chapter than i usually write, and i'm kind of proud of it--hope you kids like it as well!
17th-May-2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
For House this must feel like being tied to the tracks and knowing there's freight train on the way. It won’t be pretty.
17th-May-2007 08:15 pm (UTC)
that is such a perfect simile! i suspect that's exactly the way he feels. and no, it won't. (because of the scene i'm currently working on, i could just cry for him right now--and you've brought home to me just what i'm putting him through.... :( )
17th-May-2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
The box. What could possibly be in the box? Oh noes... I must quell the urge to rip out my kidneys and shove them into House because I want this story (and all the angst) to keep going.
17th-May-2007 08:16 pm (UTC)
now let's not get drastic--you need those kidneys! :) and the story is far, far from over.
17th-May-2007 08:03 pm (UTC)
I have a couple of theories about the box, but I'm not going to air them in case they're ridiculously stupid. Or right, in which case I'd ruin it.

Keep it coming...
17th-May-2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
i strongly suspect that several of you know what's in the box! and it wasn't meant to be a cliffhanger, or a mystery, but it's kinda nice that it worked out that way! (well, i'm enjoying it. but then, i'm evil) :)
17th-May-2007 08:43 pm (UTC)
Add me to the list of people who are really curious about the cardboard box! I'm guessing some sort of medication that Wilson didn't know House was taking.

This continues to be a terrific story! Yay!
17th-May-2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
you're definitely on the right track (and also on that track is the freight train to which silja_b referred....). ;)
17th-May-2007 10:51 pm (UTC)
Call me dumb but what's in the box with the red warning label? So House is going through kidney failure, I so didn't see that coming... *note sarcasm* Stupid optimistic doctors. "he won't get sick.... yada yada." Sorry its been an interesting day. This is great though. The conversation is spot on and the characterization brilliant. Why do I have a feeling House is just waiting to die?
17th-May-2007 11:01 pm (UTC)
lol! why do i have a feeling your day was... less than stellar? and yeah, believe it or not, medical people are every bit as good at denial (especially when it comes to themselves and their loved ones) as everyone else!
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18th-May-2007 02:50 am (UTC)
I don't think I took a breath during that chapter. You are evil. Um...well, this makes up for having to spend the day on the bus and finding out that whatever's going on with me is destroying my hair. Whoo-hoo. Ugh, I need some stuff done, too. You'd think I'd want to escape. Oh well...
18th-May-2007 09:45 am (UTC)
breathing is a good thing, sweetie; we should do it whenever we are able! the hair--certain it's not a result of your current meds? the depakote my mom took for migraines caused her to lose half her hair, which returned several years later when they switched her meds.
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