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Battling the Demons: Book Two of the 'Devil' Trilogy

Title: Battling the Demons 
Rating: PG 
Characters: House, Wilson, Cuddy 
Summary: House and Wilson have returned to House's apartment following the breakthrough-pain procedure Wilson performed on House. Things should be better now. But House is refusing to eat. He's refusing to drink. He's fighting sleep. And he's fighting Wilson--every step of the way. 

This is the sequel to
The Devil, You Say, which was the first book in the Devil trilogy. The story continues the study of the House, Wilson, Cuddy bond. Introspective, angsty, and heavy on hurt/comfort. 
The previous chapters: 

Chapter One: HOME  
Chapter Two: TALK TIME 
Chapter Four: TOUCHED
Chapter Five: LIES... AND TRUTHS 
Chapter Six: SORRYAnd today's chapters: 

CHAPTER SEVEN: Outside Assistance

When Cuddy arrives at lunchtime with the IV pump Wilson’s requested, the first thing she notices is Wilson’s anger. He’s making no attempt to hide it; his lips are drawn into a thin line, and his eyes are dark with silent fury.

“Here are your pills, House. And your lunch.” Wilson virtually dumps a plate, a glass, and the medication on the coffee table and turns away. His movements are controlled, but it’s easy to tell he’d like to punch something. Or someone. Cuddy follows him into the kitchen after a glance at House earns her nothing but a tight-lipped glare.

In the kitchen, Wilson is pacing, cleaning up the lunch preparations. He allows cutlery and a bowl to clatter loudly into the sink, then he turns to face Cuddy. “The more I think about what happened this morning, the angrier I get.”

“I can tell. Of course, you have a right to be upset, but try to get a handle on it. You’re allowing his behavior to get to you; don’t give him that satisfaction. If you do, you’re letting him win.”

“This isn’t a game, Cuddy. And it shouldn’t be a fight, either, at least not with opposing teams. We’re all on the same side here; the only thing we should be fighting is a decline in his health. And he should be leading the battle, not sabotaging it at every step!”

Cuddy pours Wilson a cup of coffee and hands it to him. “You’re right, of course. But until we can figure out why he does what he does, I doubt we’ll be able to change that.”

Wilson sits down and drinks a few swallows of coffee. “I’m done trying to figure it out on my own. The rate he’s going, he doesn’t have that kind of time. I called Dr. Dickinson; he can see me this afternoon, 3:30.”

Cuddy remembers that Dickinson is an old friend of Wilson’s, and a respected psychologist. Wilson had first mentioned setting up an appointment with him after they’d started to fear, this past weekend, that House might be suicidal. Wilson had told her he was sure that, at the very least, House had a plan, and House himself had said a few things which appeared to confirm that suspicion.

“Are you free to keep the fuse doused on our loose cannon in there while I’m gone? Dickinson’s in Pennsylvania; his office is just outside Lancaster, so I’ll have to leave in an hour; takes close to two to get there, another two to get back, an hour for the appointment. Might be a while.” He shakes his head and tries to appreciate the humor in having to leave the state to find a psychologist who doesn’t have a preconceived notion of House.

“Of course. I’ll call my office, rearrange a couple of things. And then I’ll get my whip and chair ready for action.”

Wilson laughs at the imagery. “I’m afraid he’d enjoy that,” he says. “Since I’m currently not talking to him, I’m not gonna have to answer any questions. For right now, I don’t want him to know what I’m doing, so when he asks, just tell him I’ve gone for an emergency consult on his, hmm… discipline issues, with Nanny 911.” When Cuddy laughs, he says, “Hey, it’s only a little lie. Hell, he’d make a good episode; a good season of episodes.”

Cuddy’s glad to see that Wilson’s sense of humor is returning.


Wilson is actually enjoying the drive to Dr. Dickinson’s office. Traffic is inexplicably light, he’s got his favorite music playing, and he finds the mindless task of maneuvering down the highway soothing.

When he pulls up in front of the professional building, his earlier anger has dissipated, and he feels ready to begin taming the tiger. What is it about House that lends itself so well to wild animal imagery? He ponders this with genuine amusement.

As he walks into Dickinson’s office and clasps hands with his old college roommate, he’s wondering how best to explain the unique problem that is House. Wilson’s afraid that if he just lays out all the facts, describes House’s behavior, the first statement out of Dick’s mouth will undoubtedly include the words ‘straightjacket’ and ‘commitment.’ Maybe even ‘padded room,’ he thinks wryly. “Hey, Dick, how’ve ya been?” Dick Dickinson; had fun with that name in school. House’d have a field day with it!

“I have a friend with some issues,” he begins, and waits patiently while Dick laughs. “No, really, this is not the hypothetical ‘friend with a problem.’ It’s actually quite serious; could be life and death for him.” The psychologist sobers up quickly, and Wilson starts the convoluted, confusing, contrary biography of Gregory House’s last six years.

When Wilson has hit just some of the high points and given an incomplete summary of the current problems, the 50 minute hour is almost up. Fortunately, Dick has no patient scheduled for the next hour, so Wilson takes a moment to call Cuddy and get the all-clear to stay.

According to her, House is well aware that he’s blown it this time, and is, as a result, on his best behavior. And, of course, this morning’s events haven’t contributed anything towards recovery; Wilson suspects that between the enervating effects of the Compazine and the severity of the dehydration, House simply hasn’t the energy to misbehave.


The subject of all this concern is curious. House has asked Cuddy several times where Wilson is; he has yet to receive a straight answer. Finally, Cuddy turns to him and says, not unkindly, “Look, he’s angry, okay? He needs some time; he’ll get over it.”

House looks serious, and sad, and disgusted. Cuddy’s seen him this way before. I remember when House confronted me after Vogler made Wilson resign; he reacted the same way then. Took me a while to realize that House was upset with himself, his own behavior. This time, Cuddy doesn’t mistake House’s reaction for displeasure with Wilson.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, House. In spite of what you’d like to believe, you’re as human as the rest of us. Yeah, you screwed up. The consequences could’ve been… devastating. But they weren’t. You set your recovery back a few days. You managed to piss off Wilson. And maybe, you learned something.”

House has heard enough; it bothers him that Cuddy knows he’s angry with himself. Time to direct the focus elsewhere. “Could you heplock this thing for me?” he says, indicating the IV. “I gotta go to the bathroom, don’t feel like dragging the pump. Don’t know why Wilson couldn’t do that when he put it in,” he grumbles.

“I think he was just a little too busy at the time to give it much thought,” Cuddy reminds him, dryly, as she inserts the small plastic port which allows the fluids to be attached and disconnected easily. “There you go.” She hands him his cane, and refrains from asking him if he needs any help.

House stands slowly. He’s felt dizzy all day, and while he might mention it to Wilson later, he’s just not in the mood to deal with Cuddy in mother-hen mode. On the other hand, no sense telling Wilson tonight. It’ll just give him more ammunition. Gave him plenty of that already. Sure it’s just the Compazine anyway. And I musta pulled something in the left thigh when I got sick this morning. He finds that by controlling the speed of his gait, he’s able to walk a reasonably straight line, and Cuddy doesn’t seem to notice anything amiss.

When House returns from the bathroom, Cuddy’s waiting to reconnect the IV, and notes that there’s a fine sheen of sweat on his forehead. He’s also breathing a little too rapidly for such a short trip. She’s looking at me with doctor eyes. Next thing, she’s gonna want a pulse. Not a good plan right now.

So House grabs the TV remote and turns on The L Word. He smiles innocently at Cuddy and pats the couch cushion next to him. He’s relieved when Cuddy suddenly decides it’s time to go straighten up the kitchen.

CHAPTER EIGHT: Realization

Dick hasn’t said much, just asked a few questions that sounded reasonably perceptive to Wilson. Now Wilson stops talking and waits for Dickinson’s take on the situation.

“Would he be willing to come in and see me?” When Wilson explodes into a laugh, Dickinson says dryly, “I’ll take that as a ‘hell, no!’” Wilson, still laughing at the notion of House voluntarily entering a shrink’s office, nods in confirmation.

Wilson smirks. “I’ll spare you the eminent Dr. Gregory’s House’s opinion of psychology as a profession, but it’s right up there with his opinion of snake-oil salesmen!”

Dickinson doesn't look too surprised. “Then this is what I’d suggest. Based on what you’ve told me, no one else is gonna be able to help him,” Dickinson holds up his hand as Wilson, shocked, prepares to interrupt. “No one else will be able to help him because he won’t allow it. It isn’t a myth; there are a few people out there who can’t be helped by conventional therapy. But that doesn’t mean that they—that he—can’t be helped at all. Dr. House is luckier than most; he’s got someone willing to take the time, do the work. That would be you.” Dickinson smiles at Wilson in admiration.

“And the unusual thing about this situation, James, is that you are uniquely qualified. Even when someone in Dr. House’s predicament is fortunate enough to have a friend or family member willing to participate fully, the background and education usually aren’t enough. In your case, that clearly isn’t a problem. And you have the added benefit of being able to see to his physical issues as well.”

“But Dick, that’s part of the problem—a huge part! I told you what happened this morning; he could’ve died, simply because he couldn’t bring himself to trust me. So now I’m gonna be his surrogate shrink? That oughtta tear it for sure.” Strong doubt is apparent in Wilson’s voice.

“James, you know better than that. It isn’t you he doesn’t trust; it’s himself. You pointed out to me that he’s still stuck in the denial stage of grief over the infarction. Add in his natural tendency towards depression—which I suspect was present even before the infarct—and you’ve got a man who can’t allow himself to admit that he needs help. Because once he acknowledges it to himself, he’s also gotta admit to his limitations. And he may never be ready to do that. As a matter of fact, from the way you’ve described him to me, it may be healthier for him in the long run not to ever acknowledge those limitations. ”

Wilson is beginning to understand fully for the first time, and he feels a rush of compassion for House. He also feels a lifting of some of his own guilt; House can’t accept help; nothing that Wilson’s already tried to do could have been done any better—the results would have been the same. Wilson understands now that House’s behavior is not controlled by House; it’s an unconscious denial of his own circumstances.

“And don’t forget what we all learned in Psych 101,” the psychologist continues. “Tragedy tends to bring out both the best and the worst characteristics in people. When the tragedy becomes chronic, those characteristics are magnified over time. So if he’s always been loathe to rely on others, now it becomes an overriding force in his life, in his attitude towards both his illness and towards the people who want to help him. He’s literally programmed to fight you.”

The newfound feeling of compassion towards House threatens, momentarily, to overwhelm Wilson. “So he’s not responsible for his behavior?” he asks.

“Afraid not.” Dickinson’s mouth twists in a rueful, sympathetic smile. “No more responsible than your average preschooler who’s heard the word ‘no’ two too many times.”

So Cuddy’s spot-on in her assessment of House’s personality. And that ‘Nanny 911’ thing isn’t too far from the truth. Viewing that big jerk as a child will make it easier to be patient, though, not to just give in and kill him. Wait’ll I tell Cuddy she’s had the right idea all along; she enjoys being right almost as much as House does!

"Is there anyone else he's close to? Someone who can share this... burden... with you? It's gonna get pretty rough... "

Wilson knows the answer, but he gives the question long thought before replying. "Lisa Cuddy, our boss, Dean of Med at PPTH. She's with him right now. They have a... complex... relationship. But I think it’s been changing, in a positive way, over the last few days. I think he's starting to trust her, at least as much as he can trust anyone. His parents, but they're distant. Both geographically and emotionally." He silently curses House's father, John, for his part in House's inbred perfectionism and the attendant depression. "Stacy, of course. He still loves her, but he also blames her for everything that's happened in the last six years. And she's distant, too." Wilson admits, sadly, that the only people House can really count on are himself and Cuddy.

"So, you're not doing this single-handedly. Dr. Cuddy will support you?"

Wilson doesn't hesitate. "She will--every step of the way."

"Since there's just the two of you, and since I think the bulk of the burden will fall on you, despite Dr. Cuddy's support, I'd like to suggest that you get yourself a punching bag." At Wilson's small laugh, Dickinson says, "I'm not joking, James. You don't understand how rough this is gonna get, having to watch—having to allow—an adult to essentially react to his life like a peeved four-year-old would. You'll need an outlet; I mean it."

“I can handle this, Dick. It’s... a relief to know that he’s not just the selfish bastard the rest of the world sees. I know that the man I’ve described to you sounds... sad, and sick, not someone anyone would want to know, but there’s so much more to him. He’s brilliant, and funny, and... I dunno, it’s just an honor to be allowed into his world. Can’t explain it; you’d have to meet him, and look past the walls he puts up. Maybe then you’d understand why he’s really worth it. When he allowed me to put him through the pain control procedure, even after what’s gone on, it was... it made me feel good, like I was somehow worthy of his friendship.”

“That’s another thing we need to talk about, James—the loss of that extra pain. It’s going to be part of the problem, believe it or not. You’ve said that he’s integrated this pain into his personality, his behavior. That means that a big part of his perception of himself disappeared when the pain left. And whenever your self-view changes, there’s a period of grieving attached, even if the event itself is a positive one. He’s going to find it disconcerting, at the least, and deeply disturbing at the worst, to have such a big part of his identity gone. And that’ll result in more anger, more lashing out, while he tries to come to terms with this shift in self-perception. It shouldn’t last more than a month, but it could be a very nasty month.”

Wilson hadn’t considered that getting rid of the breakthrough pain cycles could have any sort of a negative impact at all. “How can I help him through that?”

“I think you’re already doing that for him by instinct. Just be there for him. Let him lash out at you; that’ll be his way of working through his own confusion. The ‘attacks’ on you aren’t really attacks; I think what he’s doing is analyzing the changes in his life in a way that has, historically, made him feel safest. He sees you as a secure sounding board, and that’s what he needs most right now.”

Wilson takes a deep, deep breath. “Dick, I’ve been here almost two hours now. You haven’t called out the little white-coated men with the nets yet—for House or for me. So I’m thinking maybe I should mention one more… mmm… concern.”

Dickinson waits patiently; just like House, he knows that the biggest concern tends to manifest itself at the end of the appointment.

Okay, sorry House, gotta do this, buddy—not gonna lose you now. “I think that House may have a suicide plan.” Wilson looks directly at Dick, and the psychologist sees the fear, and the desperate plea for reassurance, in his eyes.

“That doesn’t surprise me in the least,” Dickinson says, and sees the surprise on Wilson’s face. “In my experience, at least half of all chronic pain sufferers have a plan. And that plan is, often, what actually prevents them from becoming acutely suicidal. Just knowing that he has his ‘out’ gives him the comfort he needs to get through the rough spots. He’s really at less risk of suicide than someone who’s less organized, more impulsive.”

Wilson finally allows himself a relieved sigh that starts somewhere deep inside his soul. “I was so worried….”

“Understandable. And I’m not saying don’t watch for signs; I’m just saying that, at this point, it’s likely that he’s no more at risk for suicide than you are. More of a problem, I think, is keeping tabs on his physical condition; sounds like that’s putting his life far more at risk . You’re the physician here, but I’d suggest simply explaining to him that you know it’s hard for him to speak up when something’s bothering him. Tell him that you’re going to be monitoring him closely for your own peace of mind. Take the pressure off him—that often has an interesting result; he may become more willing to be truthful with you.”

“That would be interesting.” Wilson smiles. “I think I’ve taken up more than enough of your time, Dick. And I’m anxious to get back, find out if House and Cuddy have killed each other yet. Let me ask you something; you still play a mean game of poker?"

Dickinson grins. "Oh, yeah. Can still make you wish you'd left your wallet at home. Why?"

"Well, how's this? We give House a few weeks to recover, let me slip your name into a few conversations with him. And then, you’re invited to a poker game you'll never forget." Wilson grins too, wonders what nickname House'll christen Dick with.

“Sounds good, James; looking forward to meeting Dr. House. And it was great to see you again.” He hands Wilson his card. “I’ve written my home number on there; call me anytime. Questions, problems, or if you just need to vent, okay?”

“Will do; thanks again.” Wilson is headed towards the door when Dickinson calls out to him.

"James, one more question--what are you getting out of this?"

"Well, I hope that House'll be able to ac--"

"No, that's not what I asked. I know what benefits we're hoping he'll get. What I want to know is, what's in this for you?"

Wilson blinks as realization dawns. "This time, I don't lose my brother," he says quietly. And he thinks, This time, the demons don't win.

CHAPTER NINE: Trouble With the Truth

Wilson’s got a lot to think about on his way back home. He wishes that he’d thought to ask Dick for a copy of the voice recording from their session—he doesn’t want to be passing on such vital information to Cuddy second-hand, but he’s excited about what he’s learned, and he’s relieved as well, and Cuddy deserves some of that same peace of mind. He decides to call first thing in the morning and have Dick’s office email the voice file.

“Now all I have to do is find a way to tell House what I’ve done,” he says aloud. “Should’ve asked Dick for some suggestions. I’d like to just put this off until House is stronger, but I don’t dare keep this from him. All I’ve got working for me right now is his trust; if I lose that again, it’ll be gone for good….”

He hits the hands-free on his cellphone and calls the apartment. Cuddy answers on the second ring.

“You two both alive and in pretty much the same condition as when I left?” Wilson asks her.

Cuddy laughs. “Yeah; he’s still pretty subdued. Earned himself a gold star on his behavior chart. Not a member of the Clean Plate Club yet, though,” she says, looking pointedly at House, who’s listening intently to her side of the conversation. “How’d it go for you?”

House sees Cuddy’s face grow serious; then she turns her back to him and lowers her voice. “He said that?” “Yeah… no, have them send the entire file… make certain they encrypt it… patient confidentiality… no, you know I’ll help in every way I can… try not to worry… it’ll be okay, we’ll get it worked out somehow… you’re not alone in this….” Cuddy turns back around, resumes speaking in a normal tone. “Drive safely; we’ll see you in a little while.”

After Cuddy disconnects the call, House asks, “So, what did daddy have to say? Gonna be home in time to tuck me in?”

Cuddy looks distracted. “Hmm? Oh, yeah, sorry…. He should be home in about an hour,” she answers. Her mind is clearly elsewhere.

“Cuddy?” House says. “Everything okay?”

She forces herself to focus on House. “Fine… just fine. New patient, that’s all.”

“What’s up?”

“Don’t worry about it, House. I’ll let Wilson tell you about it if he wants to. Up to him.”

This isn’t a satisfactory answer, and House is ready to resume questioning Cuddy when she turns away from him abruptly. “I’m gonna go get the stuff for vitals; be right back,” she says, and leaves the room.


When Wilson returns, the first thing Cuddy notices is he’s exhausted. She’s just given House a half-dose of Compazine, and he’s drifted off, so she motions Wilson into the kitchen.

“You look done in,” she says to Wilson. “Have you eaten?”

“Yeah, grabbed a sandwich at a drive-through. Just worn out from the trip, and not happy about having to tell House what I’ve done, that’s all. He needs to know as soon as possible; don’t wanna stir up all those trust issues again. Just wish he were doing better, physically.”

“Me too. And that’s gonna bring up another problem. He’s not going to be ready to go back to work in five days, is he?”

Wilson sighs. “I’m afraid not.” He thinks a moment. “Give ‘im a bad case of the ‘flu…. Hell, give me the ‘flu. Chicken pox. Plague. I don’t care. Just find a way to keep the kids away from this apartment.”

“I can do that. Good thinking. Are you gonna tell him tonight? He already suspects something’s up.”

“I don’t see how I can avoid it. You know how he is when he thinks he doesn’t have all the facts; he’ll just worry it until the fool who’s withholding information spills his guts. And he’s exceptionally skillful at getting information out of this particular fool.” Wilson smiles dolefully.

“Don’t envy you. What are you gonna say?”

“Don’t know yet; still working on that. If I’m lucky, he’ll stay asleep until I come up with a plan…. Any chance of him staying asleep for the rest of my natural life?” He looks at Cuddy hopefully.

She smiles at him. “That would be a ‘no,’ I’m afraid. I gave him only a half-dose of the Compazine; he specifically requested to be awakened upon your arrival.”

As if on cue, a voice calls from the living room. “Cuddy? Who are you talking to? Wilson home?”

Cuddy and Wilson roll their eyes at each other and head to the living room. “Goodnight, gentlemen,” Cuddy says. “I’m outta here.” She blatantly ignores Wilson’s ‘you coward’ look

House waits while she gathers her things and goes out the door. Then he turns to Wilson. “Where the hell were you?”

“Yeah, I missed you too, House,” Wilson answers dryly. “How ya feeling? I heard you were a very good boy today, and frankly, that worries me.” He approaches House and grabs a wrist, tightens his grip when House tries to yank it back.

“I’m fine. Just dandy, in fact. Now it’s your turn. You answer my question.” He tries again to pull his wrist back and glowers at Wilson when he fails.

“You are not fine.” While he’s got the wrist, Wilson pinches up the skin on the back of the hand and glowers back at House when the skin stays tented. "I'm reattaching the IV. How'd you talk Cuddy into disconnecting you? And when do you plan to start taking your fluids the classic way?"

House scowls at him. "Apparently, you didn’t hear me the first time. I make it a rule not to repeat myself, but in your case, I’ll make an exception. Got your listening ears on? Where were you this afternoon?"

As Wilson secures the line to the heplock, he keeps his expression carefully neutral. He sits on the couch next to House and regards his friend thoughtfully.

"House, got a question for you. This is really important, so don't just blow it off."

Something's wrong, big wrong, House thinks. Wilson looks... scared. And there go the hands again. House notices that Wilson's hands have that fine tremble he's seen several times in the past few days. And he's pale, and he won't meet House's eyes. A frisson of cold fear moves inexplicably through House's body.

"You have my attention," House says, with uncharacteristic seriousness.

Wilson finally looks at House. "I'm gonna ask you something, and I want you to think about your answer. Take all the time you need, but make sure of what you're gonna say."

House nods wordlessly, never removing his eyes from Wilson's. House sees fear there, and trepidation, and maybe even a plea? For what?

Wilson pulls in a breath. "What would you do if I were... sick? Very sick, and maybe... well, just... I need to know. How far would you go?"

That frisson of fear has just engulfed House's body. Jimmy. No. He was gone almost seven hours. Long enough to have all kinds of tests, the big tests, the serious kind. Cuddy said a new patient, said Wilson would tell me about it if he wants to. I'm an idiot. No! Jimmy… no. Great diagnostician I am, didn't even notice that my best friend--

Wilson interrupts his racing thoughts. "I'm gonna go make some coffee, House. Think about what I've asked. Really think about it, 'k? It’s… important." He walks into the kitchen, leaving House and his racing thoughts alone.

CHAPTER TEN: Confusion

When Wilson enters the living room with his coffee, House is staring thoughtfully at him, and continues to stare as Wilson takes a seat. Finally, Wilson becomes uneasy, pinned under his unwavering gaze, and breaks the uncomfortable silence. “Something wrong? Why do I feel like I’m on a microscope slide?”

“What’ve you got?” House’s gaze has become appraising in nature; he seems fascinated with Wilson’s hands, curled around the coffee mug.

“Huh? A cup of coffee. Want some?” Wilson is pleased that House is interested in drinking something. He starts to get up. At this point I’d almost offer him a beer if I thought it meant getting fluids into him.

“Sit. I said, what’ve you got? You were gone seven hours. That’s a lot of tests.”

Wilson is confused, and is about to explain the length of his absence when House suddenly pales and gasps. Wilson sees a hand go to his left thigh. “What is it?”

House’s left thigh is pulling, clenching up. Uh-uh. Not about me now, it’s about him. House wills this new pain into submission. “Nothing. Just a little stiff.” Now, even now, lookin’ at me with those worried eyes, and Wilson never comes first; gonna come first this time, Jimmy. “Don’t wanna talk about me. Answer the question.”

“House, I don’t have anything, I went on a little trip, sorry I was gone so long, but--”

“Don’t lie to me. Your hands, the tremors, I can see ‘em now, and you’re pale, and--”

“Congratulations! You’ve just diagnosed ‘fatigue.’ I’m not sick, House. Stressed out, yeah. Worried; that too. And tired. But sick? No.”

“But you said, you asked me, if you were sick, very sick--” Not cancer; that’d be too cruel, he knows too much.

“It was a hypothetical, House. Trying for some empathy; foreign concept, I know, but try to stay with me on this.” Wilson’s concerned now; House is pale, and his breathing’s too rapid.

“Look, stop trying to protect me, okay? Brain’s still working. Whatever it is, we’ll get through it, gonna be there for you all the way, whatever it takes, this is—” House’s eyes are bright, intense, and he’s talking a mile a minute.

“Will you just calm down and let me talk a minute? I am not sick. I was using that as an example. Trying to get you to understand why I… went to… see a friend today.” Wilson, you’re a coward; he thinks you’re sick, just tell him….

House still looks confused, and he’s still studying Wilson, trying to decide if Wilson’s telling him the truth, or trying to protect him. “You went to see a friend. Okay. And the hypothetical?”

“I’ve been… concerned. For a while. About your… state of mind. And this weekend, after your hallucination, the talk of suicide….”

Now House is getting angry. “You and Cuddy were talking suicide! Not me.”

Wilson shakes his head, decides he’d better just get it over with. “I went to see my old college roommate. He’s a psychologist, House.”

Anger and relief are battling in House’s mind. I really don't care who Wilson went to see, because Jimmy is all right! A psychologist? He still thinks this is all in my head? He’s the one who’s crazy. “I thought you believed me,” he says coldly to Wilson.

“I do. It’s… not about that. I…. House, there’ve been issues since the infarct. After what’s happened, your pain getting out of control, my part in letting that happen, well… just wanted some objectivity, and… more for me, really.”

“Yeah, and I’m sure all you discussed was you. My name never came up,” House sneers.

Wilson is up and pacing. “Yes, your name came up. But this is about how I deal with this. Didn’t do you any favors the last few months. Told you I wasn’t gonna let that happen again. This is part of making sure it doesn’t.”

House thinks about this, decides that maybe it’s okay if Wilson talked to somebody about Wilson; he can live with that, especially if it means Wilson’ll get off his back a little, about… well, everything. And now that the anger’s receding, the relief is coming back, and he has to admit that Wilson had him a little nervous there, for a second, about being sick. House closes his eyes. “Do me a favor?” he asks.

Wilson closes his own eyes for a moment and tries to gather some patience, dispel some worry. “Depends,” he says gently, and allows some humor to creep into his voice. “Not gonna go TP Cuddy’s house; outta the question. Other than that, maybe.”

House manages a small smile. “No; fun as that would be, this is way more important. Don't ever get sick, okay? Not allowed. New rule; just made it up myself. And all you gotta do is follow the rules."

Wilson can tell that House is on the verge of sleep again; he tells himself that it’s the meds, the weakness. But he knows that’s not right. Wilson watches him a moment, worried about something he can’t even put a name to. Not getting better, not even trying to get better. Not acting like himself, not fighting. Aw, House, what’s up with you?

He decides that, first thing in the morning, he’ll draw some blood for a Chem21; maybe there’s an electrolyte imbalance, something easy to fix. That would explain so much.

If his potassium’s down, House’s apathy, the mild confusion, the apparent leg cramps can all be explained. And corrected. But House had to know; he isn’t keeping anything down, he knows the logical result of that. Dick’s wrong; hiding the vomiting, knowing what the risks are—doesn’t sound like he wants to live, sounds like he’s just quit caring. He really didn’t even react appropriately to the whole shrink thing.

Wilson knows that Cuddy’s waiting to hear how the conversation about Wilson’s visit had gone. And maybe talking with Cuddy will help him put some of this concern into perspective. House is really asleep now; it’s a good time to call her. One more look at House, and he goes to make the call.

Chapter Eleven: PUZZLE

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