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Cats' Corners: the little HOUSE in the woods....
Where House is NEVER safe...
The More Things Change... Chapter TWENTY-ONE 
28th-May-2007 09:54 am
house wilson hospital
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 
Wilson awakens when the night nurse comes in to hang the 2:00am dose of linezolid; shortly before 1:00am, his eyes had closed despite his best efforts. He looks toward House’s bed and sees that he’s awake too. As the nurse silently finishes her duties and leaves, Wilson moves to the bedside. House’s eyes are focused and alert; he’s taking in his surroundings, and appears oriented. “Been awake long?” Wilson asks him.
House shakes his head. “Nurse… woke me. Hey… how’d I rate a… TV in here?” House is still breathless, still breathing far too rapidly. Wilson begins to unobtrusively count his respirations.
“You’re in an isolation cubicle—guess the TV’s one of the perks. You having trouble breathing?”
“No… why you… wearing a... gown?”
Wilson realizes suddenly that House doesn’t know yet about the suspected VRSA; initially the isolation room had been chosen only to provide him privacy. Instinct is telling Wilson not to say anything about the new diagnosis, so he regretfully attempts to take advantage of House’s altered mental status. “Contact isolation requires a gown, doesn’t it?" he says casually.  "Wanna check out the TV? I think there’s cable.”
House regards him appraisingly. “What’s… going on, Wilson? We discon… tinued… contact iso for… bloodborne… MRSA six months… ago… latest studies show… unnec… essary.” House is practically panting with the effort of speech, and when he stops speaking he gulps air audibly.
Wilson frowns at House and reaches for a stethoscope. “I’ll explain in a minute,” he says, placing the stethoscope in his ears and helping House lean forward so he can listen to his lungs. What’ll I tell him? Tell him Cuddy just changed the protocol? It’s only a precaution? No, damn it! He chose to trust me.
Wilson finishes the respiratory assessment and manages to keep the alarm he’s feeling off his face as he increases the O2 to six liters and picks up the bedside phone. He’s very much aware that House is watching him intently. “I need a nonrebreather mask in Unit 5 stat. Patient’s got pulmonary edema, and he’s in acute distress.” He recradles the phone, then sits on the edge of the bed and meets House’s eyes.
“The infection’s started to show resistance to vancomycin, House.”
House’s eyes widen briefly, and Wilson watches his left hand curl into a fist. “Damn,” House whispers vehemently. He takes several more rapid, shallow breaths, gulping air through his mouth.
Wilson keeps his voice calm and firm. “Breathe slowly, through your nose. Your sats just fell to 87%. The nonrebreather’ll be here in a minute; then you can breathe through your mouth if you need to.” Wilson presses the button to raise the head of the bed, hoping that’ll help.
“Not… worried about… breathe…ing. Wanna know—”
“That’s enough, House,” Wilson cuts in sharply. “Concentrate on controlling your breathing, and I’ll give you a full report.”
The respiratory tech appears in the doorway with the mask; Wilson goes to the door and takes it from him. He quickly switches out the nasal cannula for the nonrebreather, then waits, watching House as he tries to comply with his instructions, watching the numbers move on the monitors. “That’s good; slow, deep breaths. Slow it down; you’re doing better. Sat’s up to 90% now.”
When the pulse oximeter reading goes to 91%, Wilson nods and sits down again. “Okay. You keep breathing, I’ll keep talking. You get agitated, or feel like you just have to throw in your two cents, we’ll postpone this.  Understood?"
House nods obediently; he’s not about to tell Wilson that breathing’s the only job he can handle at the moment.
But Wilson knows. Gotta get House settled down, get in a page to Chase. Need to get him on a vent before he crashes. “We have you on linezolid, 600mg IV every twelve hours. You’ve had two doses, and you’re tolerating it fine. We’ve d/c’d the vanc, of course, and we don’t know yet if the staph will be susceptible to the linezolid. Right now, though, you’re holding your own with the infection.”
House nods, and gestures to his chest and to the catheter bag.
“That’s more of an immediate concern,” Wilson tells him. “Fluid overload is causing pulmonary edema. And… you’re beginning to show arrhythmias on the cardiac monitor. Urine output’s fallen a little. But we’re hopeful that now that you’re off the vancomycin, all those things will begin to improve in the next forty-eight hours, maybe sooner.”
Wilson wonders if he should mention the probability of a ventilator. But he can’t bring himself to do it. He justifies his decision by telling himself that the news would agitate House, who must be kept as calm as possible—he’s already in respiratory distress. And now, House is attempting to speak again.
“Told… Chase….” Whatever House is trying to say is lost as House goes into paroxysms of coughing. The head of the bed is already as high as it will go, so Wilson puts a hand behind House’s back and leans him forward, supporting House’s chest across his own arm. He yanks off the mask, and grabs for an emesis basin to catch the frothy white sputum that’s a hallmark of pulmonary edema.
When the coughing finally ends, Wilson replaces the mask and lowers House back to the pillows. House’s face is white; his lips are pale gray. But he’s still trying to talk. Wilson shakes his head, puts a finger to his own lips. “We’ll talk later. Try to rest now; I’m not going anywhere. Later.”
House’s eyes flare briefly with frustration, and Wilson thinks that he might argue. But then House shakes his head almost imperceptibly, and finally closes his eyes.
Wilson dampens a washcloth and cleans House’s face and mouth. Then he gets another cool cloth and gently runs it across House’s forehead and eyes, presses it to his temples. He repeats these motions again and again, all the while coaxing House to relax, let go, get some sleep. After just a few minutes, House’s heart and respiratory rates slow a bit, and his respiratory effort is less shallow; he’s back to sleep.
Wilson staggers over to the cot and opens his laptop; the latest labs should be available.
The first thing Wilson sees is that the linezolid is still showing activity in the cultures, and he sighs with relief. The staph isn’t indicating as much susceptibility to the antibiotic as he’d hoped—but it’s still enough to hold the infection at bay, give them time to come up with something more effective.
There’s been no change in renal function, but there has been one change; House’s liver enzymes are higher now. Still no cause for alarm, Wilson tells himself. Kidneys aren’t getting better, but they aren’t worse, either. And we’ll just have to monitor liver function. Gonna take a couple days for the vanc to clear his system. He’s okay. We’re okay. Just in a holding pattern, that’s all. He’ll be fine.
Wilson closes his laptop and walks quietly to the bedside. “You can do this, House,” he whispers. “You’re strong; you’re stubborn. You don’t like to lose; remember that. You win; that’s who you are. That’s what makes you special—not the leg, not the drugs. Not the miserable attitude. You don’t give up. And people live because of that. People live because you won’t just… give the hell up. Someone said once that the distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success. That makes you a genius by anyone’s definition. But you’re also insane, ya know; you push that distance beyond all reason. You don’t admit failure, not as long as the patient’s still alive.”
Wilson blinks, then brushes impatiently at the sudden moisture that’s blurring his vision. “You’re still alive, House. And what you’ve gotta do is stay alive. That’s all; we’ll do the rest this time. Give us a chance to solve the puzzle. Hey—you’re all about the teaching, right? You’ve taught us—now give us a chance to prove it. And give me a chance to… give me a chance to…. Just gimme a chance, okay?”
House moves restlessly; his heart rate’s climbing, and he moans as he reaches for his right leg. Wilson quickly pushes the button on the PCA, and waits until House’s heart rate has returned to baseline, until the furrow between his eyes is smooth again. Then he takes a moment to do some passive range-of-motion exercises on the leg—House can’t tolerate not being able to move it; makes him cranky. So Wilson’ll do it for him. He continues speaking softly as he works.
“You die on me now, I swear I’ll make you buy your own lunch from here on in. And I’ll… I’ll file all your canes in half.” Wilson’s voice cracks. “Then what’ll you do, you limping twerp?” That pesky dampness on Wilson’s face is really interfering with his vision now. Before he turns away from the bed, he whispers one more word. “Live.”

Chapter Twenty-Two
28th-May-2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
Oh God... You just broke my heart with those last paragraphs. And in the middle of this, I felt as if *I* wasn't getting enough oxygen! That's what you do to me! ;)

No but seriously... Brilliant chapter again! Brightened my (very, very rainy...) day. :)

Thanks so much!
28th-May-2007 04:35 pm (UTC)
P.S.: Hope you're feeling better today...
28th-May-2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
ok its 12.20am and I'm sitting here reading, sniffling and smiling. and all because of you, you evil little genius!

Brilliant chapter,just brilliant. Loved every single interaction...every little gesture. So utterly sweet and poignant. Every word, so careful spoken. I loved Wilson trying to shield House from all the information, knowing that House is not really in the frame of mind to completely understand what is going on. Wilson has taken on that role and he is just amazing with how much he really cares for House. Yes, he is not perfect, but he loves this man like a brother and its just so touching really feel this bond.

I loved the little threats he used on House. Most of us have been there, done that - bribing/begging/threatening, when we are powerless in the face of a medical (or otherwise) crisis. Wilson is a doctor, but at the same time, this is not a cancer patient. He does have the medical knowledge, but at the same time, he is also a loved one and he has to play both parts to help House effectively.

Anyhow... I hope at least some of THAT made sense... I'm off to bed!

Still sending hugs your way!!!

28th-May-2007 06:21 pm (UTC)
Loved every single interaction...every little gesture. So utterly sweet and poignant.

and again, precisely the feelings i was attempting to convey to the readers; thanks so much for letting me know it's working! :)
(Deleted comment)
28th-May-2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
And your evil heart just had to leave us with a cliffhanger until Wednesday.

i swear to you--when i wrote this chapter, i had no earthly idea what day it would fall on!! would i be that... intentionally cruel? (don't answer that.......)
28th-May-2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
The end of this chapter just brought tears to my eyes. Wilson reassuring himself that We're okay and that they are Just in a holding pattern really made my heart go out to him. It's got to be hard- he knows exactly what is going on and that there really isn't much they can do right now; though thankfully he's not helpless- he can take an active part in helping House deal with his pain during all this instead of just sitting and waiting. That would probably kill Wilson if he was stuck on the outside looking in, unable to help. *hugs Wilson and hugs House*

Thanks for a great chapter!
28th-May-2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
Wilson reassuring himself that We're okay and that they are Just in a holding pattern really made my heart go out to him.

was really hoping someone would catch the poignancy of the we're okay--thank you!
28th-May-2007 02:53 pm (UTC)
"the distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success" : so true, so House !

this is all about friendship, love, compassion, suffering (physical and moral), courage, dignity, respect. And you describe those feelings with such constant delicacy and cleverness that I can't be nothing else than in awe.
Besides the fact that House's sick and this is sad of course (but I know you won't eventually kill him, hm, you WON'T, will you...) it emanates from your story a deep melancholy and, curiously, almost peace, at least in this chapter. As if no matter how things could end, those two have finally accepted that they are soul-mates to each other.
28th-May-2007 06:29 pm (UTC)
As if no matter how things could end, those two have finally accepted that they are soul-mates to each other.

your entire comment is simply lovely, and means so much to me. the observation i quoted above has me euphoric--because for me, therein lies the heart of this story. my thanks.
28th-May-2007 02:54 pm (UTC)
I love the threats people make to keep people alive. Honestly, I don't think House will need Wilson to buy him lunch or use the canes if he is dead. I'm not mocking, I swear. I do the same thing. Granted mine usually go along the lines that I'll resurrect the person and then kill them again. But that is just me.

Very realistic. I think this is my favorite chapter yet. (Honestly I think it is because of the threats.) Keep going and enjoy your coffee!! ;<)
28th-May-2007 06:31 pm (UTC)
Very realistic. I think this is my favorite chapter yet.

i must say, it's one of my own favorites as well. when i was writing it, i really could actually hear both men saying these things, and that's usually a pretty good sign that it's gonna be a 'special' chapter. thanks.
28th-May-2007 03:01 pm (UTC)

"Just gimme a chance, okay?" just about kills me.
28th-May-2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
"Just gimme a chance, okay?" just about kills me.

but... but... but... you knew it was coming! (okay, i'll admit that i had to swallow a couple of times when i was rereading/revising this morning prior to posting....) i really do like this chapter.
28th-May-2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
You should be proud of yourself. I started crying. I don't cry when i get all emotional normally.
28th-May-2007 06:36 pm (UTC)
I started crying. I don't cry when i get all emotional normally.

you know what--that does make me proud; it'd make any author proud to be able to elicit such emotions from a reader, i think. thank you.
28th-May-2007 04:21 pm (UTC)
That was so good that it actually made me cry.
28th-May-2007 06:38 pm (UTC)
actually made me cry.

as i just said above, that's very likely the highest compliment i could hope for, and i thank you.
28th-May-2007 04:31 pm (UTC)


P.S - Hope you're feeling better than you were when you last posted?
28th-May-2007 06:44 pm (UTC)

have to admit, i'm thrilled by everyone's reactions to this chapter; i was trying for something beautiful, poignant, quiet--and you kids are making me feel that i succeeded. thanks so much.

Hope you're feeling better than you were when you last posted?

i will. 'tis boring; just pain, and more pain, and one of those times when the oxycodone (and even the oxycontin) seem to think that their primary function is to cause nausea. it'll pass, always does. thanks for asking..

28th-May-2007 04:49 pm (UTC)
Gah. That was perfect, and so gorgeous! Poor Wilson, and now House has an idea how much trouble he is really in. Please let him listen to Wilson. Please don't let him give up!

From my optimistic point of view, I can't wait to let House be able to respond to Wilson and his little talks to him. I know Wilson is intentionally picking incapacitated moments to talk to House all gushy, but I'm eager to see House respond once he's coherent. The greatest friendship of all time will live on! lol. (I need to stop watching Heroes. It's turning me into a geek).

Keep up the good work! By the way, how long are you planning on making this?
28th-May-2007 06:48 pm (UTC)
By the way, how long are you planning on making this?

the remainder of the story is plotted out in my head, and--as close as i can figure--it'll probably total 32-35 chapters. so we're about 2/3 of the way through, i suppose. that would be my best guesstimate, anyway.

28th-May-2007 05:08 pm (UTC)

... I've taken it to not reading the updates until there are at least three new chapters, because one is not nearly enough. You're great with cliffhangers ;]

I nearly choked back when House wasn't recognising Wilson, and now these last paragraphs.. *sighs* I can't wait to read more. Keep up the fabulous work!
28th-May-2007 06:51 pm (UTC)
I nearly choked back when House wasn't recognising Wilson, and now these last paragraphs..

and again, just the reaction i was hoping/trying for--i feel like a very lucky writer today, and i thank all of you for the kind words!
28th-May-2007 06:15 pm (UTC)
Aw man those last few paragraphs certainly made my chest tight! House had damned well better live!
28th-May-2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
House had damned well better live!

i promise, i absolutely swear to you (and to misanthropicobs and everyone else) that i'm not killing house! writing this story has made me love him even more than i already did--i'd be as angry with myself as you kids if i killed him! however--he still has some less-than-pleasant things to go through before the story ends ('cuz we do love our angst....)
28th-May-2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
I agree about the last two paragraphs. *whimpers* Brilliant job, as usual. Must you yank at our hearts like this? Those ventricles won't stand up to much more pressure!
28th-May-2007 06:57 pm (UTC)
Must you yank at our hearts like this?

want me to stop? i will if you want me to..... ;)
28th-May-2007 06:29 pm (UTC)
Ah, geez, I come back from a wedding to *this*? How much emotion can one person take? (Really, I can take a lot more, just joshin.) Ooo, I wish tomorrow wasn't Tuesday. I'm going to bite my nails to little nubbins.

(Can one make time move faster by threatening it?)
28th-May-2007 07:07 pm (UTC)
(Can one make time move faster by threatening it?)

not certain about that, but i'm with you about wishing tuesday were already over--feeling positively trepidatious about the season finale, dunno why (and i'm certain my trepidation has absolutely nothing to do with the uneven writing and inconsistent characterizations indigenous to season three... nah--that can't be it!).....
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