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Aftershocks 7.1: The Meeting

TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: Dr. Wilson isn't just any patient.
CHARACTERS: Cuddy, House, OMCs, OFCs
RATING:
R for language and themes.
WARNINGS: Details the aftermath of events in Bad Company, a rough, violent story. Aftermath isn't always pretty; may distress some readers. Adult themes and adult language.
SPOILERS: No.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Never will.
NOTES: The pieces of this shattered story are numbered. The first number signifies the number of days that have elapsed since the original event in Bad Company; the second number signifies when the fic occurs during that day.


The Meeting


"Thanks for coming, Dr. Cuddy," Dr. Sandoval says with a smile as Cuddy sits down at the conference table. "I know it's unusual for you to sit in on patient-care meetings like this—"

"But Dr. Wilson isn't just any patient, is he?" Cuddy answers, smiling back. "I appreciate the invitation." She gestures for Sandoval to continue.

Since he's listed as Wilson's primary attending, he shuffles through Wilson's patient file. "The reason we're meeting today is because Dr. House—"

"Oh, God," groans Dr. Birdsong.

"—has requested that Dr. Wilson be released to his care," Sandoval finishes over the chorus of agreeing groans and long-suffering chuckles. He closes the file and looks through his thick rimless lenses at everyone else around the table. "Now we probably don't have much time before he crashes this meeting, so talk fast."

Tomlinson, the orthopedic surgeon, speaks first. "While House has been occasionally helpful—" she ignores the eyerolls this statement earns her, "—I don't think Dr. Wilson's injuries are healed enough for him to be out of the hospital."

Birdsong leans forward and clasps his long-fingered hands together on the table. "His internal injuries are healing nicely, given the amount of fixing we had to do the night he came in." The general surgeon looks over at Cuddy. "I never thought I'd hope for the day somebody came in here dying of Marburg fever, but that might be the only thing that gets House off our backs."

Cuddy raises one eyebrow. "I know he's been following Dr. Wilson's care—"

"He's terrorizing everyone," Birdsong snorts.

"Worse than usual?" Cuddy asks. She's heard reports, yes, but hasn't thought they were out of the ordinary.

"We wired the wrong one's jaw shut," Birdsong grumbles.

Carol McKay, the nursing supervisor, replies, "Much worse. My people all love Dr. Wilson, but..." She spreads her hands apologetically. "We had to put a lookout system in place, and half the floor clears out if he's spotted. The only nurse Dr. House seems to leave alone is Jerry Watson."

So, much worse, then. Cuddy couldn't remember the nurses ever adopting a spy network to deal with House. Warnings he was coming, yes. Brownies, yes. Trading breaks and vacation time, even; but she's never seen any one of them run from him.

"How long would you normally recommend a patient with Dr. Wilson's injuries remain hospitalized?" Cuddy asks Sandoval. She knows what she'd recommend, but then, she's perhaps more conservative when it comes to one of her doctors.

Sandoval adjusts his glasses. "Without Dr. House, I'd say two weeks, minimum. Depending on his mobility and if complications develop, maybe even three weeks."

"We need to keep a close eye on his hand, if he ever wants to use it again," Tomlinson points out.

"And how unreasonable is Dr. House's request?" Cuddy is curious just how many of them want to release Wilson just because of House.

Dr. Stone clears her throat. "Dr. Wilson's been through a horrific ordeal—"

"No, you think?"

Everyone but Cuddy jumps a little in their seats. She has too much experience with House to startle at his voice booming behind her.

Stone presses on, "—and he has yet to discuss it."

"Because his jaw is wired shut! What do you want him to do, mime?" House shouts, waving his cane over their heads.

Stone glares back at him. "He also hasn't scheduled any time, with anyone in Psych, to discuss it. He needs to talk about it. We don't think he's ready to be released."

House snorts. "It must hurt, being the only woman in the hospital Wilson doesn't want to see."

Cuddy pinches the bridge of her nose and orders in her most authoritative voice, "House, sit down."

Grudgingly, surprisingly, he complies, still glaring at Stone. He settles himself next to Cuddy.

Sandoval again opens the file and starts talking, doing his best to ignore House's interruption. "His first PT sessions have gone well. We expect him to be moving under his own power by tomorrow, Wednesday at the latest. I'd be willing to release him once he's demonstrated some mobility."

Tomlinson shakes her head. "The potential for complications is still—"

"Do you honestly think he's better off here?" House cuts her off. He glowers at her, then sweeps his gaze around the room. "You all know I'll spot complications coming a hell of a lot earlier than anybody else."

"Dr. Wilson will need more than your watching him," Sandoval says coolly. "How do you plan on dealing with that?" His expression says clearly that he can't imagine how House could physically care for anyone else, let alone someone as badly injured as Wilson.

"I'm lame, you idiot, I'm not quadriplegic." Everyone at the table scowls at him, and House grinds his teeth together before visibly mustering some calm. "I'm making arrangements. In fact," he says as he looks over at Nurse McKay, "I want Jerry Watson. Two hours a day."

McKay shakes her head. "Oh, no. I have five departments fighting over Jerry every week. It was hard enough to get him for Dr. Wilson now." She holds up a hand to forestall House's interruption. "I pulled in some favors, just like you did, Dr. House, and I was willing to do it because it was Dr. Wilson. But Jerry's not a home-health nurse, and I don't think you can outbid five other departments."

House opens his mouth to undoubtedly say something scathing, and Cuddy reaches over to lay one hand on House's wrist, prompting him to take a deep breath and nod. "Okay. So I'll get somebody else. I've got a call in to Reliant Health. Does that satisfy you?" he asks Sandoval.

Sandoval nods and is about to speak when Birdsong says, "I still don't get why you want Dr. Wilson out of here so badly. I mean—"

"You've never been a patient, have you?" House's voice is unusually quiet, but his tone is cutting. "Never been sedated in front of your staff, never been helpless in front of your colleagues, never had to rely on a complete stranger wiping your ass?" Cuddy squeezes House's wrist and he falls silent. Birdsong shifts uncomfortably in his chair and adjusts his tie.

House looks again at everyone around the table before levering himself to his feet and pulling open the door. "Wilson deserves his privacy and his dignity. He doesn't get that here."

There's a long silence after the door falls closed behind House.

After a moment, Cuddy stands up, her palms on the table. "Well, now we know why House made the request. Has anyone actually talked to Wilson about this? What does he want?"

Everyone suddenly finds the table surface fascinating as Cuddy is met with silence.

"That's what I thought," Cuddy says quietly. More loudly, she announces, "I think House has a very good point, and I'd be inclined to grant his request. But it's not his decision to make, or ours. I'll talk to Dr. Wilson myself."

She ignores the looks of relief around the table. Releasing Wilson was one thing, but no one wanted to be the one to tell him that he was going home with House—Cuddy is sure they all believe that to be a fate almost as bad as the one that's already befallen him.

As she pulls open the door, she only hopes she gets to Wilson before House does.
 
 
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