|Head, Heart, Soul - Chapter Three
||[Oct. 13th, 2008|11:13 am]
It's finished! I hope everyone enjoys the conclusion of this story. Thanks again to enigma731 for beta-ing. Just for laughs, here's a funny Yahoo question in the cut to put you in a good mood for the fic. :)
Is it ok or not, guys?!?!?
"My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,
So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell."
The first year is the hardest.
That’s what everyone says when a loved one dies. “Once you’ve been through all the landmarks,” they promise. “Once you’ve experienced the first Thanksgiving without them and the first birthday without them and the first Memorial Day and the first day it snows and all the other firsts… after a year without them, the worst of the punches will be over.”
This wasn’t Wilson’s first Tuesday without them – without her – but every day felt like the first anyway. His life had been divvied up into three parts – before Amber, when he was with Amber, and after Amber. Everything had changed now, every atom was devastating, but at the same time, it felt like everything was indifferent – a bored spectator to at truly tragic event. Even the office looked the same, and sitting behind his desk, Wilson realized that sometimes, monotony could be a comfort instead of a cause of frustration.
He thought of House’s office and his blood on the carpet.
There are no adages when a best friend ignores you.
Wilson rapped his fingers on the glass cover of his desk and imagined the thousands of different things that Amber’s death could have led to – none of them involved House lying in a hospital bed, running out of breaths. It was a testament to the fact that things had spiraled so far out of control after Amber’s death that Wilson also mourned the alternate course his grief had taken. It was clichéd, but it was true: None of this was fair.
As if on cue, somebody knocked on his door. “Come in!” Wilson called, feeling very tired all of the sudden.
The door swung open and Cuddy walked in. “It’s me,” she said, unnecessarily. She looked worse than Wilson had ever seen her. There were dark circles under her eyes, her hair was knotty, and she was crying.
Wilson understood what had happened in an instant.
“Wilson, I’m so--” Cuddy seemed to be choking on something. “I’m so sorry,” she managed as Wilson shot of his chair, rushing out the door.
“He slipped into a coma,” Cuddy explained as she and Wilson hurried down the hallway. He was unable to look at her, unable to think straight. His heart seemed to be racing and slowing down at the same time, and he was sure that someone had poked holes through his lungs. It felt like someone had set his shoes on fire and dropped ice cubes down his shirt. Everything was wrong – everything was broken…
Cuddy and Wilson raced up the stairs, forgoing the slow G-wing elevators, but when they reached the second floor, Cuddy stopped halfway down the hallway.
Wilson paused and turned around to look at her questioningly.
“He… he doesn’t have much time left,” Cuddy whispered.
The unit was a rushing whir around them, but that didn’t matter – Wilson was a rock in a waterfall. Nothing mattered except House; all he could think about, all he could hear or see or sense was House. Cuddy should have been inaudible but she wasn’t. She was talking about House and she might as well have been shouting into a microphone.
Wilson nodded at her and leaving Cuddy behind, headed into House’s room.
House was… present. That was the best that could be said about him. He was lying still and lifeless on his hospital bed, IV lines and fat tubes and gas masks snaked on his body like some deceiving restraint. His face was even more sallow than it had been two weeks earlier and because he was wearing a short-sleeved hospital dress, the dark bruises that House had so diligently worked to hide were visible. His skin clung to his bones but it seemed as though everything – his very vitality - was sliding away from him.
Wilson looked at House’s head and wondered if there was anything left there.
“Hi,” Wilson said quietly. “I’m with you now.”
A warm breeze flitted through the room. The windows were closed.
Their lights were on, a few of the windows were cracked open, and despite it being past midnight, it seemed to Foreman that Chase and Cameron were, in fact, still awake. He breathed a sigh of relief. The new team was still new and Foreman knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that none of them were as ballsy as the old team proved to be when it was needed. Taub, Kutner, and Thirteen were smart and they were all good doctors and they did make brave medical decisions – but what it came down to was, they simply did not care as much about House as he, Chase, and Cameron did.
Without a trace of guilt, Foreman knocked on the door.
“Come in!” Chase called out clearly. “Door’s unlocked!”
Foreman stepped inside and was not surprised to find Chase and Cameron curled up together – practically curled into each other – on the sofa. “We knew it would be you,” Cameron told Foreman.
“Yeah,” Foreman said and sat on the edge of a straight backed chair. He was alert and focused, filled with calm confidence – so unlike the self assurance that seemed impossible to contain or control, that bubbled up at every opportunity. “I think I know why House is sick.”
“So do we,” Cameron said grimly. “And so does House’s doctor - Cuddy knows as well as we do that the kidney failure caused the congestive heart failure. What else could possibly be wrong with him?”
“What I’m thinking is, what if the congestive heart failure isn’t congestive heart failure?”
Chase frowned at him. “What do you mean?”
“Less than two months ago, House overdosed on physostigmine. He went into cardiac arrest.”
“And then he was given atropine to treat the cardiac arrest. Atropine and physostigmine are incompatible with each other and when atropine doesn’t work right, atrial fibrillation can occur, and it can last. Cameron, you remember how House was that night in the E.R., he didn’t cooperate and he only allowed a few basic tests.”
Cameron got up, walked across the room to the kitchen, and poured out a cup of coffee. “So you’re saying that the congestive heart failure was an incorrect diagnosis?” she asked as she handed the mug to Foreman.
Foreman accepted the drink gratefully. “What I’m saying is that Cuddy has had limited experience practicing medicine for a while now and that she based her diagnosis off a small set of data. Any one of us could have made that mistake given so little information.”
“You know, you could be right,” Chase said after considering it for a moment. “I looked at some of House’s test results and they do somewhat support what you’ve said. But either way,” Chase paused for a minute. “Either way,” he said quietly, “House is already in a coma. He’s so far gone.”
Cameron, still standing, crossed her arms. “I think we should give Foreman’s idea a shot,” she said firmly. “If Cuddy’s original diagnosis was right, then House is exactly where he was before – nobody has lost a thing. If you’re right, Foreman, then House still has to contend with kidney failure, and Wilson will get one more chance to talk to his best friend.” She looked at Chase. “What do you say?”
Chase’s gaze flickered from Cameron to Foreman, and then back to Cameron. “Ok,” he decided. “If it was any other patient, House would do the same thing.” He stood up, and so did Foreman. “I guess we’re giving him one more shot,” he said, and they stepped out the door together.
The slow, awkward notes of ‘Silent Night’ greeted Chase, Cameron, and Foreman as they walked to House’s room at the end of the long hallway. Finding Cuddy hadn’t been difficult – she was sitting on one of the dark wooden benches outside the hospital. In the glowing orange light from the sunrise, she had listened to Foreman’s idea with tired ears and watched them leave to start her approved treatment with tired eyes. Convincing her hadn’t been difficult at all, and it actually left the team feeling disturbed – as though they were walking armed into a battlefield that had already been cleared of its debris.
Now they walked quietly, listening only to the out-of-season song that was clearly being played by hands unfamiliar to a piano. “I think one of the nurses is trying to exact revenge on House,” Foreman muttered.
But when they stepped into House’s room they saw the melody was not courtesy of some scheming hospital worker. Instead, it was Wilson sitting at the foot of House’s bed, his dark head bowed over a brightly colored keyboard that wore a ‘Fisher Price’ label and only had a few keys. He looked up as he heard the three enter the room.
“I got one of the nurses to bring it up from Pediatrics for me,” he explained in lieu of a greeting. “House… likes piano. I wanted him to hear some.” He noticed the I.V. bag that Cameron was holding in her arms like a baby. “What’s that for?” he asked, too tired and too sad to bother with any other emotion.
“It’s warfarin,” Chase told him.
Wilson frowned, crows’ feet sinking deeper into his face. “Why are you giving him an anticoagulant?”
“We think that House has been experiencing atrial fibrillation,” Foreman said as Cameron hooked up the I.V. bag.
“Why would you think that?”
“House’s test results were inconclusive,” Chase said, watching as the I.V. began to drip into House’s body. “This could explain things.”
Wilson nodded, not really looking up. “Do you think…” he began, but then he sighed and shook his head. “Do you think this is what he wants? To continue like this?”
Foreman, Chase, and Cameron exchanged glances. “Wilson,” Cameron said gently.
“I mean, he’s been here before,” Wilson cut in loudly. “How many times in the past five years has he had a near death experience – and come back exactly the same as he was before? House doesn’t have… revelations about life. He doesn’t come back and try and make things better or change himself or help himself. He’s just – himself again.”
Chase sat down on the bed next to Wilson. “Do you want House to be someone different?” he asked, looking directly at Wilson but not in an intimidating or angry way – there was only understanding.
“No,” Wilson said. “Not at all. But he’s not happy– and I think that I’ve just had a taste of that since Amber… I don’t want to be happy at his cost.” He buried his face in his hands and looked utterly feeble – a grown man reduced to something so little and so helpless.
Cameron sat on the other side of Wilson and rubbed his back. “It’s ok, it’s ok,” she soothed quietly as Foreman took a seat next to Cameron, carefully moving the toy out of the way. They were unsure, they were not okay, but enveloped by grief for what was and was not, none of those feelings seemed to matter anyway.
A volt of electricity woke House up: that was the only way to describe it. He was remained still, waiting for the panic to wrap his body in a relentless grip, but it never happened. House was calm, endlessly, unremittingly, calm – for the first time in years.
“So,” Amber said to him, her arms crossed over her chest. “You look good.”
House glanced down at himself. Even though he was still wearing a hospital gown, he could clearly see that his skin had a healthy color, his bruises had faded away, and it looked like he had muscle and meat to him… not just old bones. “I agree,” House replied, pleased. He paused for thought. “So… I’m dead then?”
“No,” Amber said, and shrugged. “You’re still very much alive.”
House frowned at her but couldn’t muster up enough for any other response. He felt great. “But I’m… Amber, we both know that I’m dead.”
Amber rolled her eyes at him and laughed. “Nope! I don’t get it either,” she confessed.
House wasn’t moved by that. “It’s not uncommon for a patient to show small signs of improvement right before they kick it.”
“I’m not going to try and convince you of this. But I’m telling the truth.” Amber glanced up and down his body appraisingly, as if searching for something. “You’ve been dying for over a month now.”
House nodded, still relaxed, and waited for Amber to continue.
“And you’ve barely been in contact with him.”
There was no need to identify to ‘him’ was, because he was the topic of every conversation. Every thought centered around him, every action was a reaction to him, and every emotion traced back to his emotions. Even out of his life, Wilson was inextricably in his life.
Amber looked at House levelly. “Why?”
House pressed his lips together, but it was though someone had suddenly drawn all the air from his lungs and the speech from his mouth. “He deserves it,” House said, panting, unable to stop himself. “He deserves to be… not friends with me. Wilson doesn’t know what’s good for him, he still wants to be my friend. It – he would have been okay if you were okay, but you’re not, you’re dead.” House bent over, his hands on his knees, trying desperately to breathe. But the more he talked, the more air he lost – and yet he couldn’t stop.
“He deserves it,” House gasped as his vision grew dimmer. “He deserves better.”
Amber coldly strode over to him and tilted his chin up so that she was looking House right in the eye. “You’re right. Wilson deserves better and if I was still alive, whatever damage you did wouldn’t matter because of me – because I taught Wilson to be stronger. But nothing canonizes a lesson like death.”
Amber sighed and her anger visibly fell away – and so, it seemed, did everything else. Amber’s face was losing its color, her eyes their spark, her body its solidness.
“House,” Amber whispered. “Wilson is fighting for what he wants because of me. He deserves what he wants. But what he wants… it’s still you.”
Amber was becoming less and less real – House couldn’t tell if it was because he was passing out or if it was because she was passing out. Amber was fading away and he was fading away – everything was gone – he was so lost, he was so alone – but there it was again – that volt of electricity that seemed to kill every cell inside him –
But without warning, he breathed, and then he was back.
One week later
The glass of water seemed very far away.
House braced himself and lifted up his right arm, which ached in response. The bedside table was off to the side instead of right in front of him, and for a minute, House contemplated rolling over to reach it. He shifted in bed but immediately regretted it as pain shot through his body. He moved back a little bit and groaned.
“Almost dying will do that to you,” Wilson said from the doorway. He walked in and handed the cup to House. It was rare to find House alone, without the company of Cameron, Foreman, and Chase... and most frequently, Cuddy.
“Thanks,” House said, and took a sip.
They sat in comfortable silence for a while, House still struggling to finish his drink. “All of this because of atropine,” he finally said.
Wilson leaned back in his chair. “An overdose doesn’t reverse renal failure,” he reminded House.
“Yeah,” House agreed. “I don’t know what did it.”
Wilson smiled at him. “You’ve got the rest of your life to figure it out.”
But House was still slightly uneasy. “Remind me of the atropine side effects again,” he said. He had heard the laundry list dozens of times in the past week, but he was still sure he was missing something.
Wilson rolled his eyes but even though he knew that repeating what he had listed so many times would be pointless in the long run, he also knew that in the face of a medical impossibility, hearing cold facts would provide some strange comfort to House.
“Ok,” Wilson said. “Even though you’ve probably memorized it already. You’ve got your palpitations, your dilated pupils, your difficulty in swallowing--”
“I think those are all just symptoms of someone who’s been dating me.”
Wilson smirked at him. “Very funny. Ok, there’s hot, dry skin, thirst, dizziness, restlessness, tremor, fatigue and ataxia. In toxic doses, there’s also circulatory collapse and depression; blood pressure goes down and then there may be paralysis and coma. Not to mention standard dry mouth, blurred vision, photophobia and tachycardia. Are you happy now?”
House frowned. “No. You forgot constipation and problems with micturition.”
“Have you experienced those?”
House shook his head. “Whether I experienced it or not, everything’s relevant. What else?”
“Nothing. I mean, there’s also the really toxic doses that result in marked palpitation, restlessness and excitement, hallucinations, and delirium, but you weren’t given that much.” Wilson paused. “House, you have to give it up. You woke up from your coma before we had the chance to even start the treatment. Nothing I have said explains your recovery and nothing anyone can ever say can ever explain the recovery. I know it’s not exactly in your nature but at least try and realize that you’ll just never know why it happened.”
House was very still. It felt like lightning had struck the core of his body. Hallucinations, delirium – Amber hadn’t been real. She had been the figment of a desperate, drug-addled mind, and that was that. He knew it wasn’t his fault but he still felt a deep, consuming sense of humiliation – one that no one would ever know of.
“House? You still with me?”
House glanced back at Wilson. He thought of his functioning kidneys and his brilliant mind and his beating heart, and his shame faded a little bit. Wilson was right: there was no medical reason that could explain a recovery. But he was, in fact, recovering.
House let it happen.
“Yeah,” he assured Wilson. “I’m right here.”
YOU DIDN'T KILL HIM, YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY ♥
This was a great story, it really was. I loved the interaction between House and Amber, and especially the line where she says that Wilson needs HOUSE and not her - I only hope the writers on the actual show realize that fact.
Great job though, seriously - your stories just keep getting better and better. I hope there's some more House/Cam swirling around in plot bunny heaven? One can hope? :)
I'm just an ass who has to point this stuff out, but just FYI - warfarin sodium isn't actually a cure for atrial fibrillation. It's used as preventative care against a stroke, when the arrhythmia is prolonged (like, MONTHS). Ablation (shocking the atrial chamber) would be the method to get his heart out of atrial fibrillation if it was persistent for that long of a period. I know the atropine overdose was the REAL cause, and I liked that ... I'm just a total h0r that points out too much crap so I'm going to shut up now and go to class, lol
Did you really think that I was going to kill him? I would never have it in me but I'm glad I convinced you that I did; I did my job! :) And I'm glad that Amber eventually wound up being a likable character, because she caused so much trouble, LOL. As for the House/Cam - currently I have no plot bunnies at all! I haven't written a House/Cam story in so long, but I could probably get back into it for a oneshot. But in the meantime, I want to finish and mail out my college applications. :)
Is it possible that they used warfarin to stabilize him in preparation for ablation? (Remember that Wilson said that House came out of the coma before they even started the treatment.)
If you would have killed him, I probably would have been a lot less nice in my review, lol. Awwww - well, I think I'll have to write more House/Cam to make up for it then ( I have this fantastically crack-filled humor piece that involves drunk House and Youtube planned). College applications are a good reason for not writing fic, haha.
I just re-read that part where Wilson says that, and now I'm officially an ass. I think it was just the whole Wilson saying "Why are you giving him THAT?" bit that wouldn't have happened ... he should know what it's for, lol.
Yeah, Wilson knows what warfarin treats, but to his knowledge, warfarin doesn't treat what's wrong with House. So it's less like, "lulz, what's that for?" and more like, "why the hell would you give him that, didn't you go to medical school?".
I loved this :), it's true about House and near-death experiences he really doesn't learn much on the show (since they say that if he's happier the show is over). But in a fanfic we can assume he HAS learned something.
p.s. I read the above comment and do I understand it correctly, you did write House/Cam at one time? WOT? where?
I'm so happy to hear that! :) To be honest, the reason Foreman was the one who made the big medical discovery is because in the last medical mystery!fic I wrote, season three had just ended and I was annoyed with him so I made him feel like a failure. It was in his karma for him to do something very well. I rule with fairness, LOL. (The fic ended with Foreman accepting his flaws and visiting his brother in jail although it was really an ensemble fic - definitely not just about him.)
It sucks House can never learn anything on the show. If anything, I think that he's gotten crueler as the show has gone on; so often, he is mean just for the sake of being mean. But in fic, he can change - and then the fic ends! :)
Yes, I have written House/Cam! It's in various places throughout my LJ and if you go to the top of my LJ page, you'll see the link to my ff.net profile. I used to write a lot of House/Cam and it's all there. I have to warn you, most of the early stuff is hideous. (BTW, the writer of the above comment writes House/Cam and she is AMAZING; I don't know if she has any fics on her LJ but on ff.net she is "Aine Morrigan" and is listed under the "Favorite Authors" heading.)
awesome :) I'll check both of you guys out when I am done with math...I remember dr
from the comms.
Yes, that's who I'm talking about. :) (The only other person who has reviewed this chapter, LOL.)
I gotcha :) I just couldn't get the code correctly in the previous message :)
I give you lots of Kudos for tackling a complicated medical case.
Yay for House living!
You are so right with the statement about how House has had several near death experiences and never changes.
OMG, and Wilson tapping on the little piano. So sweet!
Thanks! I don't know how much of the medical stuff was realistic, but I'm glad it worked for you - and I'm glad that the image of Wilson playing the piano worked also. I was a little nervous about it. :)
Thanks for reading and reviewing!
I'm sorry I don't know why I didn't find this before
House is alive House is alive!
No need to apologize! It is always nice to get reviews, no matter when they come. :) I'm glad that you liked the ending. Thanks for reading and reviewing!
as always ;)
no problem! :D
Hello! I apologize in advance for posting here in one of your story posts, and I'm sorry I haven't read it. I'm sure it's good though. House is a great fandom. :)
I come here browsing the friendslist of the livejournal community godawful_fanfic. So it is likely that you have been a member/watcher of the GAFF forums in the past. I am sending this message to everyone on that list to let them know that a few members have put their heads together to create a new site- most definitely not a replacement, but a site where everyone can still get together. Here it is: http://whygodwhy.org
Saw this on my friends list but thank you! :)
Haha, I remember that you were a likely to go to Pitt and I was wondering how you were doing. (I thought I had added you to my flist but I guess it slipped my mind)
LOL, it's ok! Hi. I did get into Pitt but decided to attend UPenn instead. I have recommended Pitt to a couple friends though, one is even going! And I'm pushing the school on my cousin, lol. Even though I'm not going, I LOVED the school and had such a great experience when I visited - everyone was so sweet and helpful. (I recently found out my roommate is from Pittsburgh and it makes me very optimistic!) Thanks for checking in. How was your year? Are you excited to go back?
Hahaha, no problem!! And my year is great, I'm so excited to go back. and UPenn is a wonderful school as well, I'm sure you'll have an amazing time there, too.
I'm building a Chase/Cameron fansite with an elite fanfiction archive and I was wondering if you'd be ok with me including your work there (fully credited, of course)?
Of course! Thanks for thinking of me, go right ahead. :)
2009-12-18 04:40 pm (UTC)
hey julie! how are you?
remember when you were freaking out about universities?... well what'd you end up choosing?
now it's my turn to freak out about that and i think i'm doing an excellent job!
Hi Lauren! It's been so long since I heard from you! How are you? What schools are you thinking about? I am at Upenn. :)
2009-12-18 09:19 pm (UTC)
UPenn! excellent! i took the ACTs and will apply there if i do very well. i should write that silly page 217 essay though.
what are you studying? nursing? i know that my cousin's cousin is at penn in nursing and i have a bunch of cousins at penn and it's my dad's alma matter and lalala it would be nice to go there butttttttttt i'm most likely staying in montreal and going to mcgill!
Good luck! Yeah, I'm nursing and I highly recommend it if you're interested in health sciences. I won't get into it because I could write pages and pages lol but if you would like to be convinced, let me know. You do work hard at Penn but you'll probably work hard at McGill as well! I don't know what to tell you about page 217. I know people here who did and didn't write it so I guess it really is optional (although I didn't believe it when I applied). I guess it is a good place to flex your creativity muscles or write about something you wanted to cover but couldn't. What year is your cousin's cousin? The nursing program is really small (110 students!). We have an orgo final on Monday... :(((((((((( Happy Hanukah!
2009-12-19 06:32 pm (UTC)
she's class of '12, so i guess 1 year older than us?
after going to nursing school are you like, set to be a nurse or would you be able to apply to medical school if you choose to do so?
haha yup mcgill is like, the number 1 ranked school in canada (or like, tied with university of toronto) so it would be equivalent probably.
and oh, orgo. been there, done that, never again. i took it in the summer and i already remember NOTHING hahaha
Yeah, a year older than us. You would e class of '14, right? Once we (nurses) graduate, we take our NCLEXs (boards) to become a registered nurse and then we start working! There are some people in nursing here that are also on the pre-med track because they are undecided, lol. There is a chemistry specifically for nurses and a bio specifically for nurses (and of course we have our own clinicals) but the pre-med nurses have to take the normal chem and bio. I honestly don't know how it will work out for them in a couple years because the nursing clinicals are so time-consuming but they will also be doing regular orgo, regular physics... it just doesn't seem very compatible! Yeah, orgo is pretty hateful, lol.
2010-01-29 03:42 am (UTC)
i would be class of '13 actually, since i'd probably get transfer credits for a year of my courses (silly quebec).
anyway, i took the ACTs last month and i got my scores today. i got 32 (english:34, math:30, reading:34, science:29 and writing:31/8 (LOL apparently i suck at writing. good to know i guess haha)) andddddddddd i have no idea what any of that really means! my mom is like, "LOOK INTO SCHOOLS!" but i don't even know where to look into (for funsies!). any suggestions for science-y stuff?
how is semester 2?
Semester 2 is going ok - much busier than the first, lol! I have a work study job which is suddenly requiring me to do a lot more work outside of the actual job. I don't really know about science-y schools bc when I looked I was looking specifically at the nursing programs. University of Pittsburgh supposedly has a really good science program and Carnegie Melon U (also in Pittsburgh, PA) is a good science school. I know that Case Western in Cleveland is really good but here's what they say about the guys there: "the odds are good but the goods are odd." The ratio of guys to girls is like, 65/35, lol. And of course I highly recommend UPenn. :) Would you want to come to the states? I thought you liked McGill...?
2011-01-29 10:21 pm (UTC)
hey julie! i know it's been like a year but i was looking back at my lj entries earlier today and i saw a lot of your comments and thought of you :)
how have you been doing? are you enjoying nursing? it turns out that my cousin's cousin dropped out of nursing and i think she's either in marketing or wharton- either way, she's doing some sort of business-related degree at penn. she's also the upenn red bull campus representative haha
funny story, i started to rewatch season 3 of american dreams a few months ago and i can see why it got cancelled- that show is so dreary! that doesn't mean it wasn't amazing but i could see how it wasn't exactly a feel-good tv show. lately i've been into friday night lights, although that series is ending in like, a month haha. i don't have very good luck when it comes to choosing tv shows.
julie!!! ok you clearly don't check this but maybe you get email notifications? you should check out this new show 'panam', it reminds me of american dreams so much with the costumes and the 60s and ahhh it's amazing. hope life is treating you well :)