CHAPTER TWO: House Is Down
This is gonna be touchy, and Wilson knows it. He'd known of the box and its contents for three months now. He knows the contents well; hell, he even has his own key to it, courtesy of Cuddy. When she'd handed him the key she'd made him responsible for ascertaining that the contents hadn't been utilized, and Wilson took the job very seriously.
For three months, at least once a week he'd sighed in relief when the cap on the surreptitiously marked morphine vial was still intact. He'd check the other supplies, relock the box and return it to its spot. House's own, private little crash cart. Only problem was, House didn't even suspect that Cuddy or Wilson knew. And now, there was no way around it. Would he be embarrassed? Defiant? Wilson settles wryly on enraged. Yeah, that’s it. Enraged.
He’s contemplating the best way to tell House that his secret, well, isn’t, when House lets out a gasp, a hiss, a deep, guttural groan. And explaining to House how he knows about the box is no longer the priority. He moves back to House's side.
House is curled tightly again. Each breath hitches in his throat, there's a sheen of sweat covering his skin, but his eyes are open, and he sees the box in Wilson's hand. He searches Wilson's face suspiciously, defiantly awaiting the inevitable lecture. Wilson reads his mind. "No lecture today, buddy. Not this time. Maybe later." As he speaks, he's deftly popping the cap on the morphine, carefully drawing it up, trying not to see the hungry look in House's eyes, trying harder not to see the unremitting pain that's there too.
He gently untangles House's left arm from its tight curl at his chest, straightens it slowly, turns it to find the vein. House closes his eyes as Wilson ties the tourniquet, swabs the vein, inserts the needle. Wilson draws back slightly on the plunger, looking for the flash of blood that will confirm correct placement. He sees it, looks at his watch and begins the slow, careful administration of the medication.
When he's finished he stays there for two full minutes, fingers at House's wrist, eyes on his chest, monitoring his pulse and respirations. He's pleased with the numbers. He stands, takes his cellphone from his pocket, and reluctantly types in a text to Cuddy. Just three words, but she'd understand it and come as soon as she could, and he'll fill in the details when she arrives. He looks at the message, their agreed-upon code, and presses ‘send’. "House is down."
CHAPTER THREE: House in Hell
House has been resting, more or less comfortably, for only ten minutes when he starts to groan again. But it's a different sound this time, and Wilson knows immediately what's happening and is glad that House is still curled on his side. Wilson holds his head while he retches and moans and finally brings up a small amount of bile. Wilson reaches into the gray box as soon as the retching stops and brings out the prefilled syringe of Compazine. He shakes his head and smiles to himself as he thinks how typical it is of his friend to cover every contingency.
An oncologist is used to having to cause pain to relieve symptoms, and Wilson is good at what he does. But the patient in front of him this time with the narcotic-induced nausea is House, so Wilson hesitates. He can't make himself cause his friend even this one sharp, stinging prick of brief pain if it can be avoided.
House himself makes the decision for him, though, when the desperate retching and gasping begin again almost immediately. Wilson quickly unfastens the belt, the jeans, lowering the fabric just enough to expose his hip. He's surprised when House grasps his wrist and shakes his head violently, no. House whispers, eyes boring into Wilson’s in an eloquent plea, "I need… the nausea. It's my… anchor… gotta have… an anchor."
He expects Wilson to understand, and Wilson does. But he only shakes his head sadly as he gently disengages House's fingers from their desperate cling at his wrist and administers the injection, steals the anchor. He tries not to see House's wince, tries not to feel the sense of betrayal radiating from him.
House doesn't go down quietly, but he does go down. He's too worn out to fight the med for long; Compazine has a strong sedative effect not even House can overcome, and he falls again into restorative sleep. Wilson looks toward the door when he hears a key turning the lock, and the look he gives Cuddy is so profoundly mournful that she has to glance away.
"I don't suppose you'd consider admitting him?" It's a question that she knows the answer to, but she has to ask it anyway, and isn't surprised when Wilson answers, "You suppose correctly." However, Cuddy is initially shocked, even angered, when Wilson continues, "I gave him the morphine; I'll get him through this." But she's a smart woman, and it takes her only moments to infer how very bad things must have been to drive Wilson to the gray box, and when she speaks again her voice is warm. "I understand. I'll try to free up a nurse."
Wilson answers flatly. "Then you don't understand. No nurse. No team. No one else." He looks tenderly at his sleeping friend, and there are bright unshed tears in his eyes when he turns back to Cuddy. "There's damned little else that I can do for him right now, but I can respect his privacy." Cuddy comprehends immediately; this is House, and his fierce, odd dignity is the only thing that allows him to face the world every day.
Cuddy adopts Wilson's flat, inflectionless tone when she says, "Then you'll need some things. Give me a list." She grabs a pad and a pen from House's desk and waits for Wilson to gather his thoughts, to switch roles from protective friend to capable physician. She can see him mentally figuring how to cover all possible bases.
"First things first," he says. "A pillow, a blanket. Emesis basin. Ice chips. Scrubs; no gown, he’d hate that. Another dose of compazine. BP cuff, definitely. O2, I think." At Cuddy's alarmed expression, he says, "Just for comfort, Cuddy. I don't know how long we'll have to keep him under, won't know until the breakthrough pain stops. Just wanna be ready, you know?" He gives her a wan smile.
Then he glances at the box and says ruefully, "Should probably get a couple of bags of fluids and an IV setup as well. Our little boy scout was, of course, very well prepared for this. But he didn't factor in being dehydrated before he took the meds. And he is dehydrated. Only brought up about 10cc of bile. I shouldn't wait on the IV, but I'm going to. It's not fair...no more pain…at least a little while..." His voice trails off. "Unless you can think of something else, I think that's it," he finally says.Chapter Four: Cuddy Lies