I did research for this story on Google. It was the best material available to me. I'm not a doctor. This is a work of dramatized fiction. It isn't real. It shouldn't be taken by anyone as the proper course of action medically. It's my story, so there.
The Queen of Hearts
House didn't like it. He really didn't like it. Would anyone? Did the patients? He had never really considered it before, being pushed through the hospital in a wheelchair. Was everyone looking?
Sure they were. Of course they were. Not the other patients or their families but the staff was staring.
'There he is. It's Dr. House. He's such an ass.' 'Did you hear what he did to Dr. Chambers? Of course Chambers had it coming to him. He's nearly as big a jerk as House.'
Wilson pushed the chair through the halls. House kept his eyes down to the floor trying that old children's trick of 'if I can't see you, you can't see me'. Yeah, it never worked when he was a kid either. Dad always found him.
Wilson glared at a nurse who was snickering to her friend. House's recovery was going to be difficult enough without that crap. Wilson knew House would have a hard time in therapy. What he didn't need was to do it in the spotlight of glaring colleagues. Wilson felt conspicuous himself just being with House.
They were passing the office of the Dean of Medicine. Wilson glanced over. Dr. Lisa Cuddy was sitting at her desk. As if she had been nudged Cuddy raised her head just as they were passing her door. How did she do that? How did she know just the right time to see House as they passed? Wilson decided she had been looking up every few minutes since she knew the therapy session was this morning. Wilson glanced down at House. His best friend did not raise his head as they went by.
Cuddy sighed. She had hoped to catch House's eye. She wanted to give him an encouraging smile. She wanted to show her support. She wanted to tear out of that office and give him a big hug.
House wouldn't want that. It wasn't something he would have been comfortable with. He would have burned her with his sarcastic wit. He would have stiffened in the chair to the best of his ability. He would have hated it. So she stayed put and shifted the papers she hadn't really looked at for the past hour.
The phone rang. It was Lucas just calling to see how she and Rachel were. Did they need anything? Would she mind if he came over for a little while or would she like to go to dinner?
Cuddy admitted to herself that she had been lonely since he moved out. It had been nice having someone to come home to. She appreciated the way he looked after Rachel while she took a shower or just needed a break when Rachel was fussy. Lucas was good with kids something House would never be.
House. She was thinking of him going to therapy and trying to walk. Just like after the infarction except this time he had a hand that couldn't hold a cane. Why did bad things always happen to him? What had he done in a previous life that all the bad karma in perdition fell on him? Yes he brought a lot of his misfortune on himself. But, no matter what he did in this life to annoy Cuddy and the hospital board, he did it advocating for his patients. Sure he told patients the brutal truth but was that to be condemned? Wasn't truth preferable to lies? She guessed that depended on the sharp edge honed on that truth. How deeply did it cut?
She hadn't been listening to the person on the opposite end of the phone. Lucas asked her again about dinner.
How about tonight he says? No, tonight wasn't good she answers. Would tomorrow be better for her he inquires? No, she had a meeting she replies. He asks about Thursday? Maybe, but she has to check her calendar. He says he could cook her dinner. Did she like the Valentine's Day meal? It was very nice but he had forgotten she was a vegan she reminds him. Oh that's right. He says sorry. Then he gets cute. She was still and always would be his 'Queen of Hearts'.
Cuddy felt terrible. Lucas was so good. He was so right. He was so wrong. What was she going to do?
Her other line rang. Thank God.
She apologizes and says she has to go. He should call her tomorrow and she would give him an answer on dinner. He says he hopes it would be a yes. She tries to put a smile in her voice as she says goodbye.
Her other call was Brenda. Cuddy was needed in the clinic. She was a doctor short with House unable to do his shift. Cuddy said she would be right there. She didn't mind clinic duty. It was the only time she got to be a real doctor any more. That muscle needed the exercise, as House would never fail to point out. House, why couldn't she stop thinking about him?
I don't love him and he certainly doesn't love me. We're friends. We're more like colleagues really. I'm his boss. He has value to the hospital I run. It's only natural for me to be concerned for him.
Cuddy got up from her desk and put on her lab coat.
It takes more than a tall, brilliant, good-looking man with deep blue eyes to make my breath catch in my chest, for God's sake.
Cuddy left her office brushing her hair off her neck as she walked to the clinic.
Wilson opened the door and wheeled House into the therapy room. He gave the door a gentle push to close it. It didn't close fully. He ignored it. Now that they had arrived House finally looked up.
Hello honey. I'm home again. God I hate this room.
House looked around. He wouldn't be trying to walk yet. He wanted to get the use of his right arm back as soon as possible. He would need it to support himself while trying to get his leg to obey him. He hoped it wasn't as stubborn as he was. One really should be on good terms with their body. House's body was being maddeningly unhelpful. It was definitely a drawback to such things as say, walking or limping and writing on his whiteboard, although he wasn't doing too badly with his left hand. Personal hygiene had been a challenge not that he minded having that cute nurse give him a sponge bath. He wasn't as enthusiastic with the nurse who covered when 'cutie' wasn't on shift. You really can't always get what you want.
Wilson was speaking with the therapist. House tried to ignore the fact that they were talking about him. Not the easiest thing in the world. Again he thought about his patients. Did this bug them as much as it bugged him? He had to believe it did. House always explained what happened to them. It was interesting. Patients should be able to appreciate the process. They should want to know when House found a really cool answer to their medical issues. Illnesses might mask themselves. They might try to hide but House would eventually find them. Preferably before the patient did something extreme, like dying. All in all House's record was very good. He saved way more patients than he lost. Doctors lose patients. It happened. And it really pissed House off. You burn gray cells trying to find the answer to a medical who-done-it and once you get it solved sometimes the victim ends up in the morgue. That was never a satisfactory outcome.
House concentrated on his right hand. He really wanted to move it before starting therapy. Why, he didn't know. Maybe he just wanted to show he was trying. The session would have more meaning if he could do something. Also it would make him feel like this wasn't a waste of time. That was a negative thought. Why was he thinking that? Why was he assuming this was going to fail? He physically shook his head as if he were trying to shed the idea through his ears much as a dog shakes off water. House flexed his hand a small bit and felt pleased. Maybe all he wanted to do was show off. That seemed likely. That he could go with. 'See what I can do, so there. '
He thought he would give his arm a try. Why not? He had just made a minuscule leap for House kind.
House tried as hard as he could. He concentrated. Then he tried not thinking about moving his arm. He pretended his nose itched and he was holding a red mug full of scalding hot coffee in his left hand.
Scratch your nose. It really is itchy, incredibly itchy. You're about to sneeze. Cover your mouth.
Did he move it? He thought he did or was he deluding himself. House didn't do that. He never lied to himself. If anything he was keen to point out his limitations. I'm a cripple. I was hallucinating. I'm not happy. I need help. I can be wrong. I'm a jerk.
To thine own self be truthful.
The therapist looked close to House's age with very short gray hair. Her body looked like she used the gym five days a week. She had to be five foot seven or so. She wore green scrubs and sketchers. She wasn't well endowed. That was good. House wanted to focus on the therapy and not on her boobs. He would steal a glance of course. He was a guy after all and they would have to work closely together for a period of who knows how long. At least she wasn't a troll like the nurse who came in occasionally to give him his sponge bath. Yuck! All sponge bath nurses should be young and pretty. Cuddy should make it a rule.
House noticed her eyes were palest blue and her teeth were unnaturally white. He was good at noticing things. He was bad at taking orders.
Wilson was still talking to her. What they had to discuss this long House had no idea. It wasn't as if Wilson had to go fishing for dates. He had Sam. House didn't approve but at least Sam was easy on the eyes. House had to admit that.
She's really not bad looking for a harpy who will rip his heart out and eat it. She lacks the class of women like Cuddy though.
He had done it again. He had let his mind drift unbidden to Cuddy. He could see her fully in his mind. He saw her face, her hair, and her body. He could even smell her. Talk about a distraction. How hard was he thinking about her?
Chase came in to cover for House so Cuddy handed off her patient and left the clinic. She went for a stroll. She needed to work a kink out of her back. She must have bent the wrong way while examining that kid.
Lisa you're not twenty anymore. Oh shut up. I work out. Yes but you're in your forties. Once again, shut up!
Her casual stroll took her to the physical therapy department. She ambled aimlessly in the hall and stopped by the door but didn't enter. She wanted to casually walk into the room but she didn't think she could pull it off.
I was just walking by therapy and thought I would stop by to make sure the new whirlpool was delivered. Oh, House! I didn't know you were scheduled for physical therapy now. How are you?
God that was transparent not to mention lame. She hung around outside the door that wasn't fully closed. She peeked through the crack and listened hard.
What the hell am I doing?
She could hear Wilson talking. He wasn't talking to House so there must be someone else in the room. It had to be one of the therapists. It was probably Shirley. She had the most experience and enough backbone to deal with House. Cuddy wished her luck.
Wilson finished his conversation. He walked back to House.
"This is Shirley," Wilson said gesturing with his hand. "She does taekwondo for exercise so behave yourself."
House looked at Shirley who smiled but looked like she was about to demonstrate a move.
"Bully," House whispered to Wilson. "I'm hardly in a position to cause trouble am I?"
Wilson smiled. "Your most dangerous weapon is your mouth."
"That's what she said," House smirked.
"See? There's my point. Just try to be less you," Wilson said and then thought about it again. "Actually try to be more you but channel those efforts into actions rather than words."
House pouted. "Why is it everyone tells you what to do when you're least likely to offer an effective defense?"
Wilson placed his hand on his hip. "Call it revenge. No one here can offer an effectual mental defense from you and your brand of insanity. We might be able to fend you off for a while but eventually you exhaust us," he said.
"I am told I have amazing stamina," House said proudly.
"Yeah well we aren't talking about the women on your payroll right now," Wilson replied sarcastically.
"Ouch. Kick the crippled invalid while he is lacking in all hope and self esteem," House said wincing.
Wilson kept smiling. "Yes you are pathetic and an easy mark. You'd better do everything Shirley tells you. Then I'll only be able to kick your cane out from under you."
"What ever happened to 'nice' Dr. Wilson?" House asked.
"He was killed. It was a bloody death. He was sent to hell ruled by a medical devil."
"I thought you people didn't believe in hell," House replied.
"I didn't until New Orleans," Wilson said, a tired expression on his face.
"Mardis Gras. It can bring out the worst in all of us," House said with mock sympathy to Wilson's vices.
Wilson raised an eyebrow, "Except the convention wasn't during Mardis Gras."
"Well you were drinking like it was", House replied with a derisive snort.
Wilson narrowed his eyes. "You're trying to have an argument aren't you?"
"More of a debate," House answered looking innocent.
"I'm not playing. It's time for you to do your homework."
"Aw, Mom," House whined.
"Sorry. Off to work young man," Wilson answered pushing the wheelchair further into the room.
Cuddy was smiling. She had heard all of the exchange between House and Wilson. It was typical of them. Wilson wasn't treating House any differently and House wasn't behaving any differently. That was good. Cuddy could take a lesson there. House didn't want special treatment. He wanted status quo. He wanted to be grounded. It made sense. His world was uncertain. He needed something that wasn't.
She drew away from the door and left as quietly as possible here perfume lingering in the air. It wouldn't do for her to be caught. She walked away musing to herself. House was doing very well. She believed he wasn't being stoic for Wilson's benefit. House fully expected to improve, even get back everything he lost. Cuddy hoped so.
She had been concerned House was afraid he wouldn't move the right side of his body again. Considering how House took the near loss of his leg she expected him to be scared. But there he was doing that same old give and take with Wilson. Cuddy had hope.
I need to be just the same with him. I need to show him nothing has changed and I don't see him as any less of the man he is.
She walked back to her office. She had so much to do. Her focus hadn't been on work. What a surprise.
She entered still considering House's situation. She wondered how he would do his first day in therapy. Her thoughts were full of House as she sat behind her desk. She looked at a pile of files. Most of the charts that reached her desk were the ones with complaints. Those needed to be reviewed by her. If she couldn't resolve things then they moved on to the hospital's attorney. These were the patients or their families who were unhappy about their treatment or their doctor. This also meant that most of the files were House's.
Cuddy looked at the top file. She opened it and read Foreman's writing. House never charted so thank goodness Foreman did. She looked over the letter from the mother of the patient. Dr. House was rude. Dr. House was dismissive. Dr. House didn't come by as often as they believed he should. Wasn't he the doctor in charge of their case?
Never mind he saved the girl's life. There was no pleasing some people.
There it was again. She was defending House. But really he hadn't done anything wrong. Not for House. She read through the letter and decided there was no liability for the hospital. A note of apology would probably suffice. She considered taking a couple hundred dollars off the bill but it wouldn't go back into the patient's pocket. Insurance would cover all but their deductible. No, a letter was sufficient. She would type it up and have House sign it as usual. House never read these things. He was into the routine now. He got to say what he wanted and all it cost him was his signature at the bottom of a letter Cuddy had written.
He had refused the first twenty times she had brought him these letters. He told her it was her damn apology and she should sign it herself. She had. But as she discovered via angry phone calls the patients wanted the apology from House himself. So she had Chase sign them for House. But her conscience bothered her. That plus Chase was caught by House who was a little unpleasant about the ruse. So Cuddy reached a compromise. She took away some of House's weekly clinic hours if only he would sign the letters she wrote. He quickly saw the advantage in this practice and Cuddy's life became a little easier. Win win.
She put a sticky note on the front of the file, 'House apology letter.' She moved on to the next. It was another of House's patients. She sighed and opened the file.
I wonder how he's doing.
House wanted to show Shirley that he was in charge of his therapy. That plan went out the window the minute he tried to assert himself. She wasn't having any of that. Funny it usually worked. He would be stubborn and ignore what he was told and eventually everything would work out in his favor. Maybe he just needed to be more tenacious. His will was surely greater than hers. Wasn't it?
Yeah that served me so well at Mayfield.
Maybe he would try things her way. You never know. It just might work.
Shirley moved his arm and hand repeatedly. He complained. House was bored but it was necessary until he could do the movements himself. He had made a little progress with the arm. House knew that repetitive motion was needed. It was like learning to play the piano. You needed to learn finger placement, notes and scales before you could go on to playing music. It was piano lessons all over again. Boring.
Wilson watched for a while before he left to attend to his own patients. He promised to be back at the end of the session to roll House to lunch in the cafeteria. That was good. House was sick of his room and wanted to go home. However there was a bit of a problem with bathroom usage. He had to be able to get from bed to bath. He had no problem doing his duty but the transportation was if-ee. It would be good to be wearing his own clothes because he didn't care much for the hospital gowns. No style, not that it was important to him but he really preferred his jeans. Maybe he could wrangle a set of scrubs.
Shirley worked with him for an hour on his hand and arm. She assured him that he would be doing these moves himself soon. House hoped she wasn't fibbing to him. That wouldn't be nice.
"I'll work the muscle manually for a while and then we'll use the wheel," she said.
The wheel? Sounds like a medieval torture device.
"What's 'the wheel'," House asked apprehensively. "Does it hurt?" He was nearly child-like when he asked. Pain was never something House looked for actively. He was no masochist. He did things to help him cope with his leg pain. He had once broken his fingers and he had cut himself while going through painful detox. But he did those things to distract himself from pain. Use pain to escape pain. Weren't endorphins wonderful? He deliberately wasn't counting the times he had done experiments on himself. Those were to answer questions. Not at all the same thing. Was it?
"No it won't hurt. It's like a bicycle. You 'pedal' with your left hand and you try to do the same with your right. It keeps the arm moving and reminds the muscles of what they are supposed to do. You'll do fine," she added.
"Pedaling a bicycle with my left hand and the right one comes along for the ride. That's going to help?" House asked skeptically.
"You have to keep the arm moving Dr. House. I can't do all the movements for you. The muscles need to be active", Shirley said patiently.
"Okay. Wheel me over to the wheel", he replied resigned to his fate.
"Let's try something else first. I want you to stand on your own", she answered approaching him.
You've got to be kidding!
"That seems a little ambitious for the first day don't you think?" House answered concerned. "With one crippled paralyzed leg?"
"Well we'll work together. Right now I just want you to stand and later we'll work on taking a few steps", Shirley said smiling encouragingly.
"A very few steps. Does none count?" House asked raising his eyebrows.
"No, none doesn't count," she said, as she made sure the wheels of the chair were locked.
She raised the footrests. "Okay. I'm going to steady you." Shirley took his right arm clasping one hand around his toned bicep and one around his forearm. "Push with your left leg and stand up."
Oh this won't be good.
House placed his left foot firmly on the floor. He put his left hand on the arm of the wheelchair. He would push himself up and try to put as little pressure on his right leg as he could. This was not a foolproof plan.
"You know about my leg, right"? House asked seriously.
"I know Dr. House," she answered quietly. "You can do this. I'll count to three."
House braced himself. "Count slow", he said quietly.
She held him tight. "One, two, three push!"
He pushed himself part way up and she helped him lift out of the chair. She steadied him as he stood with all of his weight on his left leg. Shirley slowly let go. House stood on his own. Shirley stood close in case he lost his balance.
"Your right foot is flat on the floor. I want you to try to put a little weight on it. I'll be here for you", she said taking hold of him again.
"I weigh more than you do. If I lose my balance I'll pull you down with me", House said doubtfully.
"No you won't. I've worked with patients bigger than you and haven't ass-planted yet."
House smiled slightly. He liked the term ass-planted. He started to like Shirley. That made it easier for him to trust her. He needed to trust her. Trust was important to him and he had been disappointed a few times in his life when it really counted. His Dad had disappointed him. He had trusted his father to love him. A parent wasn't supposed to abuse his child. A lover wasn't supposed to make a medical decision counter to your wishes while you slept. But these things happened and House knew he had to get beyond them. And he was making progress. He was putting the past behind him. He was changing.
He closed his eyes and physically moved his hip a bit. He took some weight off his left leg and hoped it was being proportioned to the right. He also hoped he wouldn't fall.
Shirley was smiling. "See? You did it".
"Just don't ask me to dance," he huffed through clenched teeth. "My leg hurts." He winced and his eyes watered.
"I know", she said sympathetically. "But you've made progress already".
Not exactly a big step forward, so to speak.
Shirley looked him in the eye. It was as if she were reading his mind. "This is going to take hard work and determination. It isn't going to happen overnight".
House wasn't so sure. His stomach tightened.
"What if it never happens?" He asked softly.
Shirley looked at him. "Then you'll learn compensation techniques", she said sincerely.
House wasn't cheered by that thought. And his leg hurt. He reached down and rubbed it with his left hand.
"Can I sit down now?" He came close to begging.
"Yes", she answered and helped him lower himself back into the chair.
House knew logically it was early in his rehab. He had only been at it a little over an hour and he shouldn't expect too much. But emotionally he was disappointed. He tried to dismiss the feeling. It wasn't reasonable and he was all about reason. He prided himself on it. He thought about Wilson hearing the news that House had stood. 'That's great! I knew you would were too obstinate to take this crap.'
Cuddy would bubble over with encouraging words and smiles. 'You stood by yourself? That's wonderful! You'll be walking soon.'
"You'll be spending some time on the bike today", Shirley said as if it were an afterthought.
This didn't thrill House. "I assume it will be the same as 'the wheel', my left leg doing all the work and my right just moving with the motion?" He looked up at her his eyes narrowed. "Did I mention my leg hurts?"
"Yes you did. Would you rather be confined to that wheelchair for the rest of your life?" She asked in such a way it made him think of his mother. 'Finish your broccoli. Do you want your father to see you didn't? Clean your room. Do you want your father to come in and see this mess?'
No Mom I do not.
"It's electric. I'll set it to automatic. Your right foot will be in the straps on the pedal. What is important is the repetitious movement of your right leg", Shirley said in that motherly tone. The woman had to have the patience of Mother Teresa.
House didn't like the answer. He still had to move the right leg and the remaining thigh muscle would get a work out. Yes it was necessary but he really didn't feel like it. House the petulant child was surfacing. He pouted again.
I don't want to.
Shirley shook her head. "That won't work on me," she said. "You forget I deal with children of all ages."
House gave her a defeated look. "Did I mention my leg hurts?"
"Several times", she answered wearily.
"Just so you know", he said with a slight shrug. He knew he couldn't keep playing the 'leg hurts' card. There were only four in a pack.
"Dr. House today you're going to move that right leg", she said in a way to indicate the discussion was over.
Why did I give up Vicodin? Oh yeah, because I saw dead people and hallucinated sex with Cuddy. That was it. At least the sex was good. I think.
He sighed out his nose and nodded once. "Give me a couple of ibuprofen and let's do this."
Shirley wheeled him over to the bike.
"We'll work the leg first and then your arm", she said
"Oh goody", House answered sarcastically.
"Want to do this without the ibuprofen?" She asked him.
"I'll be good mommy", House yelped.
"That's better. Now let's get you up on this thing", Shirley said smiling.
House rolled his eyes upward. "This maybe the first time I won't be able to get 'up'. If you know what I mean." He winked at her.
"That's not what I heard," Shirley smirked locking the wheels again.
She shot him down! House was now certain. He liked Shirley. He liked her a lot. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. He was going to do his therapy as she directed. She knew what she was doing and he put himself in her hands. He trusted her. That was a big leap of faith for him. His leg and arm weren't the only things getting exercise today and this was good. If only Dr. Nolan could see him now.
Cuddy was on the sixth file on her desk. This one wasn't House's. It was Dr. Chambers. God what an ass he was! He acted cocky and was sure he was always right. He insulted the nurses and was dismissive of the other doctors. Sounded familiar.
He had none of House's talent. Chambers was a good doctor but not a great one. Cuddy resolved to have another talk with him and to wave a pink slip under his nose. She knew Chambers would run to H.R. but it was her hospital damn it and she decided who stays and who goes. Chambers was on his way out the door. She would defend House's behavior because he was such an asset to the hospital. Chambers was not.
I wonder how House's therapy is going?
She was thinking of him again. No. She had work to do. She needed to get House out of her head. He had taken up residence there moving in his luggage and piano. Cuddy squared her shoulders and picked up the next file. George Rivers, attending physician Dr. Gregory House. Damn.
Would she ever get House out of her head? It was nearly impossible with him working in the hospital. It was more difficult with him being a patient who was in a very tenuous situation. She felt so sorry for him. He was a strong man forced to undergo a debilitating condition. She wanted to be close to him and help him any way she could.
I care about him.
She knew House would balk. He would tell her he wasn't an injured puppy. He wasn't a small child who needed to be cuddled when he got a boo boo. House was suspicious of people who liked him. He didn't trust they weren't feeling sorry for the poor cripple. House couldn't believe people would like him. Who could like a guy like House?
So did Cuddy.
In spite of everything I like him. It isn't love. It's like.
She closed her eyes for a moment. Her mind filled with the memory of a dream. She was in her short black nightie lying in bed and a strong man with blue eyes was lying beside her. His chest and arms were bare. She was breathing slow and deep her eyes locked on his. He could take her at any moment and she would be able to do nothing about it. He reached toward her and laid one perfect rose between her breasts. She reached up and gently stroked his face. She traced her finger over his lips softly. He kissed it. He caressed her hair. He was gentle with her. She looked at his face her eyes locked on his. His hand moved down her face and touched her cheek. He leaned over and kissed her softly. He moved his lips down to her throat and kissed her again. Cuddy closed her eyes. He continued down her throat to her right shoulder. He moved slowly. He kissed downward and then toward the center of her body. His lips reached her sternum and he kept moving down. Cuddy's breath caught in her chest. He reached the rose and kissed it lightly. He carefully removed it brushing it against her left breast as he did so. He set it on the bed beside her and laid his hand on her left hip. He looked into her eyes with such meaning. Then he moved his hand up to her shoulder. House leaned in and kissed her deeply.
Cuddy came out of her reverie. Her eyes opened. They glistened with tears.
I don't like the son-of-a-bitch.
A single tear slipped down her cheek.
I love him.