James Wilson entered the clinic and approached
Exam Room 1. Dr. Cuddy met him in the hallway, her smile conveying gratitude and relief as she gave the exam room door a deliberately
“Any change?” Wilson
“No,” Cuddy responded, “He
says the last thing he needs is medical meddling.” She punctuated the last words with a roll of her eyes.
shrugged affably. He’d long ago given up apologizing for his friend. As he reached for the door handle, Cuddy stepped
back awkwardly, saying, “I’ll leave you two alone, then.”
Knocking with one hand and opening the
door with the other, Wilson called out, “It’s
me” as he entered the exam room. He swept his gaze around the room at eye level, then lowered it and found who he was
looking for. Dr. House was sitting on the floor with his right shoulder pressed against the leg of the exam table. His knees
were drawn up as far as he could manage, long arms wrapped around them. He did not look up as Wilson entered, but kept his eyes closed, pain etched across his features.
Taking in the scene, Wilson was able to reconstruct the events that Dr. Cuddy had described when she paged him.
House had been in with a patient, a Mrs. Ulrich, “counseling” her on the idiocy of continuing to have unprotected
sex with her IV drug using husband. The spouse in question apparently overheard and barged into the room. It was unclear whether
the large man was angered by the advice House was giving or by the rude and condescending way that he gave it. But Cuddy,
in the adjacent room, felt the wall shake when Mr. Ulrich slammed House against it. She arrived in the doorway as Ulrich shoved
House sideways, forcefully banging the doctor’s right leg into the side of the exam table, then grabbed his wife by
the arm and pulled her out of the room with him. House went down, and – big surprise – refused to let anybody
examine him. Cuddy called security about Ulrich and called Wilson
Sitting down near his friend, Wilson repeated, “It’s me.”
“I know. I heard you the first time.”
House snapped, his eyes still closed.
“Can I see?” Wilson asked.
House shook his head.
“So, we’re just going to sit
here and . . .,” Wilson began.
House cut him off with, “If you’re
looking for something more meaningful to do, you can hand me my pills.” The older doctor looked up sharply and nodded
toward a chair across the room. His jacket was draped over the back of the chair, with the ever-present Vicodin bottle presumably
in its pocket; his cane was propped against the wall nearby.
“Uh uh,” Wilson responded, “Not ‘till I’ve cleared you for concussion.”
“I don’t have a concussion,”
House protested, his pitch rising indignantly, “I didn’t even black out.”
“Cuddy said you were unresponsive.”
“Not responding to that woman is
hardly evidence of brain injury. On the contrary . . .”
House kept talking, but Wilson stopped listening as he tried to get his stubborn companion to follow his finger with
his eyes. Whichever way Wilson moved his finger, House moved
his gaze in exactly the opposite direction. Childish? Yes. But since playing this game is neurologically harder than normal
tracking, Wilson counted it as a “pass.” However,
when he tried to shine his penlight in his friend’s eyes to check for pupil reaction, House turned his head and irritably
swatted the light away.
“Hey, feel free to get up and get
‘em yourself,” Wilson suggested sarcastically.
That did the trick. With an exasperated sigh, House cooperated.
When he was finished, Wilson retrieved the pills from the other doctor’s jacket. House accepted them with
a knowing smirk.
“Yes,” Wilson said, feigning awe, “You successfully self-diagnosed that you do not have a
concussion. Truly a triumph of your medical acumen.”
Dry-swallowing a pill, House shot back
smugly, “If you think agreeing with me now is going to stop me from rubbing it in, you’re wrong. That makes, what,
twice in the last three minutes?”
noted, happily, that his companion took only one pill. He was pretty sure that House would not let anybody touch his leg without
a little bit of pre-medicating, but too much pain medicine would make it harder to assess the extent of any injury. After
waiting a few minutes for the drug to kick in, Wilson was
able to cajole his friend into extending his leg for examination. He ruled out fracture and dislocation – not really
likely, anyway, given the nature of the injury – and tentatively concluded that there was just a bad contusion. Because
of House’s previous condition, however, Wilson wanted
a vascular specialist to take a look.
House flatly refused to let Wilson page such a specialist down to the clinic. In fact, now that the
pain had apparently receded a bit, he refused to stay in the clinic at all: “Hand me my cane. And if you see Cuddy,
tell her that the least she can do is give me the rest of the day off, seeing as this is all her fault.”
was dubious that his friend would be able to stand, much less walk, but he complied, giving him the cane and offering an arm
for support. “So, how exactly do you figure this is HER fault?”
As he struggled to his feet, House began,
“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been in the damn clinic and . . .” He trailed off, agony taking
his breath away, and thus, momentarily stifling his prodigious ability to complain.
“You sure you’re ready for
this?” Wilson questioned gently.
His face pale but determined, House nodded.
moved from House’s left side to his right. He took the cane from his friend’s right hand and moved it to the left,
then pulled House’s right arm across his shoulders so that he could support most of the taller man’s weight as
they walked. House either accepted this arrangement or was too dazed to pull away.
A flash of memory made Wilson smile. Though they had been friends a long time, neither of them was the huggy sort.
But a favorite candid picture from his last wedding featured Greg with his arm thrown around Wilson’s shoulders. House was clean-shaven, laughing, his tie loosened and the cuffs
of his tux undone. If one looked closely one could observe that he was completely plastered. Julie, on Wilson’s other side, at the edge of the photo, was looking at House with bemused toleration.
A simpler time . . .
Snapping back to the present, Wilson helped House walk a few steps toward the door. Hopefully, he would
be able to get his friend settled comfortably in one of their offices with his leg elevated, preferably in front of a television.
Then, with House as a captive audience, he would page Myers from Vascular.
House stopped his forward momentum. Wilson noted that his friend’s eyes were closed again and he was
shaking. “You OK?” he prompted.
“Yeah. I’m just trying to
decide between puking and passing out.”
With a wry grin, Wilson replied, “Personally, I vote for passing out.”
“This isn’t a democracy,”
House growled, “You don’t get a vote.”
“What, you don’t believe in
one-man-one-vote, of-the-people-by-the-people-for-the-people and all that?” Wilson
teased. The scent of rah-rah idealism was sure to annoy.
House snorted, “Did you know that
Plato thought that Democracy was second only to tyranny as the worst form of government? Hobbes compared it to playing tennis
while sitting in a wheelbarrow with a bunch of guys holding each handle.”
took the fact that House had drifted into weird philosophical commentary to mean that he was feeling a little better. In any
case, they were moving forward again, though House was still shaking a bit and his breath caught with each step.
“That reminds me,” Wilson began lightly as he opened the exam room door, “Wouldn’t
it be great if we had some sort of device that we could use to transport people when they couldn’t walk safely? A chair
. . . but with wheels!” He glanced sideways at his friend to see if the humor had cushioned the impact of the suggestion.
House shot him a sullen look, but hesitated
for just a moment before saying, “No way.”
Scanning the hallway, Wilson saw an empty wheelchair a few yards away. He persisted, “Look, I know you hate
it. But it would only be for 10 minutes, maximum. I promise I’ll walk dangerously fast.”
didn’t have much hope that he could convince his companion to do things the sensible way, but he felt obliged to try.
No sooner did he get the words out, however, when the window of opportunity slammed shut: Dr. Cuddy appeared in the hallway
in front of them.
House’s hesitation evaporated and
he sniped, “Where did you get stuck – on ‘no’ or on ‘way’? Because if it’s the latter,
you can really just go with the former.” Turning on Cuddy, he grumbled, “So, is this how the human connection
is supposed to make me a better doctor? Yep, I can just feel my heart welling up with love for psycho drug addicts.”
“I know mine is,” Cuddy smirked.
Softening her tone just a touch, Cuddy
went on, “Of course I don’t approve of violence. But tell me you don’t see how your behavior might be just
a little bit responsible for what happened?”
Aside to Wilson, House snarked, “She’s looking for a moral, isn’t she?”
“I believe she is.”
“What is it with you people and
“Why don’t you throw her an
easy one; maybe she’ll be satisfied and let us leave,” Wilson
“‘Be nice to your patients
and they won’t beat the crap out of you’ springs to mind.”
House glared at Wilson. Actually, the younger doctor mused, while one might expect that, given his predilection
for insulting people, House would frequently be the target of physical attacks, Wilson
knew better. It almost never happened. House could play people’s emotions like a violin: his barbs were designed to
strip away people’s illusions about themselves, which usually resulted in them feeling stunned, then humiliated. The
anger toward the source of the revelations came later, when House was no longer present. And, in any case, it takes a special
kind of lout to deck a man with a cane.
Pursing his lips, Wilson realized that his friend was probably annoyed with himself for mis-assessing the situation—he
would blame himself, but for an entirely different reason than what Cuddy was alluding to. Aloud, Wilson said mildly, “What? Too trite?”
Having been effectively cut out of the
conversation, Dr. Cuddy shook her head and gazed heavenward, muttering something about painting the motto above the doors
of the clinic. Then she stepped aside and, with surprising warmth, smiled at each of them and said, “I’ll see
you Thursday, Dr. House. Dr. Wilson.”
As the two men proceeded away from Cuddy
toward the elevators, House stage whispered, mimicking the inflection of a 13-year-old girl, “I think she likes you.”
“Oh, grow up,” Wilson and Cuddy sighed simultaneously.