IN THE HOUR OF MY DEATH
A/N: I was planning on spacing out these installments, but who am I kidding...? If anyone has any thoughts or ideas on this story, please feel free to voice them to me. I welcome any suggestions and criticisms.
Some hours later
Cuddy, Wilson and House were on their way back from the clinic when they spotted Carolyn sitting in the waiting room, staring at her cell phone with obvious dread. Unable to resist, House made his way over to her.
“Waiting for a call from that special someone, Detective?”
She glanced up and, to her credit, actually smiled.
“I wish. No, my captain’s due to call. He should have found out by now that I gave the lecture this afternoon, and not Bobby. He’s going to hit the roof over it. I already spoke to him once today, and he never gave me a chance to tell him that Bobby really is sick. It’s strange. Normally he’s a lot more reasonable than this, especially where Bobby’s concerned. But this time, he’s been completely blinkered, and won’t listen at all.”
“Come with us,” Cuddy told her. “We’ll go to my office, and you can call him directly from there.”
Cuddy shot House a tight, knowing smile.
“I have a speaker phone there.”
One Police Plaza,
New York City
“You know,” Mike said to Alex as they waited in Deakins’ office for the captain to return, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Deakins so pissed off at Bobby as he is right now.”
Alex grimaced. The truth was, neither had she. When word had reached them that Bobby had apparently blown off that afternoon’s lecture claiming to be sick, Deakins had hit the roof. The organiser had apparently tried to tell Deakins something else, but the captain had hung up on him before he could. Now, Deakins was planning to call and give Bobby a verbal serve for shirking his responsibility.
Why the captain wanted her and Mike there, she didn’t know, and she fervently wished she was anywhere else but there right at that moment.
Deakins strode back into the office, looking as angry as he had before he left. Before he had a chance to say or do anything, though, his phone rang. Scowling, Deakins reached over and hit the button to send the call directly to speaker phone.
“Captain, this is Barek…”
“Barek, what the hell is going on over there?” Deakins exploded. “And where the hell is Goren?”
“Sir, that’s why I’m calling you. About Bobby…”
“He’d better have a damned good explanation for missing that lecture,” Deakins said, his voice going low and threatening. On the other end, Carolyn cringed at the sound. He really was royally pissed off…
“Sir, he does have a good reason. He’s sick…”
“He already tried that one, Detective. I would have thought you were smarter than to fall for it.”
“No, sir. I mean he really is sick. He…”
“You really expect me to believe that?” Deakins snapped impatiently. “Damn it, Barek…”
“Well, perhaps if you’d shut the hell up long enough for her to finish a sentence, you might actually hear something that you will believe”
Deakins fell momentarily silent at the new, unfamiliar voice. On the other side of the desk, Mike and Alex exchanged bemused looks, wondering who would have the balls to speak to their captain like that.
“Who is that?” Deakins demanded finally.
“This is Dr Gregory House,” the voice replied sharply. “I’m the guy who’s trying to save your detective’s life. You, apparently, are the idiot who’d rather let him die than swallow your pride for five minutes and just listen.”
Sitting across from House, Carolyn winced a little at the below-the-belt blow, while Cuddy and Wilson exchanged rueful looks.
On the other end of the line, Deakins had fallen very abruptly silent. He looked up at Alex and Mike, who returned his gaze with similarly stunned expressions. After several seconds, he spoke again with forced calm.
“Carolyn, what is going on there?”
She spoke again, confident that this time he wouldn’t cut her off.
“Sir, Bobby was getting sick yesterday, but he did the lecture this morning anyway because he didn’t want to let you down.”
“Nice touch,” House encouraged her, his voice laced to the max with sarcasm. “Go for the guilt.”
Carolyn ignored him, and went on grimly.
“He gave the lecture, but he collapsed in the middle of answering questions…”
“He collapsed?” Alex burst out, no longer able to keep silent. “How do you mean, he collapsed?”
“Judging from the simpering concern in your voice,” House said before Carolyn could reply, “you must be the partner.”
Again, Carolyn winced, though this time for a different reason. House did not know what he was letting himself in for if he was thinking of verbally engaging Alex Eames.
“Yes,” came the terse reply. “Detective Goren is my partner.”
“Interesting,” House mused at her choice of words. “Well, by ‘collapsed’, Detective Barek means that Detective Goren fainted and fell off the stage. It was actually a pretty spectacular end to the lecture.”
Cuddy spoke up then, deciding that she’d allowed House enough of a free reign.
“This is Dr Lisa Cuddy. I’m the Dean of Medicine and Hospital Administrator at the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Detective Goren has been admitted under the care of Dr House.”
“What exactly is wrong with him?” Deakins asked in a noticeably subdued voice.
“We haven’t been able to determine the exact cause of Detective Goren’s illness as yet, but I promise you that we’re doing everything we can to figure it out.”
“How bad is it?” Alex asked abruptly. House spoke before Cuddy could, but this time there was no hint of mockery or sarcasm in his voice.
“He’s stable at the moment, but unless we can find out what’s wrong with him soon, he could be critical within a couple of days, and dead within a week.”
“Captain Deakins,” Cuddy said quickly, “Detective Barek said you have the authority of medical proxy for Detective Goren?”
“Yes,” Deakins answered, “but I can’t leave New York at the moment. You think it might be necessary?”
“It’s very likely that it will be necessary,” Cuddy confirmed, and they could hear Deakins sigh on the other end of the line.
“Well, then, he’ll have to sign proxy over to someone else.”
“It can’t be me,” Carolyn said, pre-empting Deakins. “He doesn’t know me well enough to trust me like that.”
“I’ll do it,” Alex offered, but Deakins answered negatively.
“No, Eames. I’m sorry, but you’re too close to him. If any hard decisions have to be made, you’re not going to want to be the one who has to make them. Logan…”
“What, me?” he answered, and Carolyn grinned at her partner’s startled exclamation. “Are you nuts? With all due respect, Captain, Goren’s never going to sign medical proxy over to me.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Deakins said dismissively. “He’s not going to have a choice. I want you to get out there, you and Alex both.”
“One more thing,” House spoke up quickly, sensing the call was about to be ended. “Who is Erik?”
The question was met with absolute silence, dead silence.
“Why do you want to know that?” Deakins asked finally, the tension in his voice only too obvious.
“Your detective started hallucinating,” House explained. “He thought the paramedic was someone called Erik. Tried to take the guy’s head off, actually, so I’m guessing that whoever Erik is, he’s probably not a nice person.”
Again, silence. Then, there was the loud crash of a door being slammed, and Deakins cursing softly.
“Barek,” Deakins said tensely, “I’m sending Eames and Logan straight away. They’ll be there tonight.”
Then, the line cut out.
“I told you,” Carolyn said quietly to House as Cuddy hung up the phone at their end. “That’s a highly sensitive subject. You can’t manipulate them into telling you.”
“Okay,” House said amiably. “How about this, then? I need to know exactly what happened to him, because there’s every possibility that it has something to do with why he’s sick now.”
Carolyn frowned, puzzled.
“But that happened nearly two years ago. It couldn’t possibly be relevant to what’s wrong with him now, could it?”
House shook his head in irritation.
“Everyone’s a doctor. I need to know everything, because there’s no telling what may be having a negative effect, depending on what he’s previously been exposed to.”
Carolyn bit her lower lip lightly. As much as she hated to admit it, his reasoning was logical.
“It’s not my story to tell,” she said finally, and House rolled his eyes in exasperation.
“Were we suddenly transported into The Young and the Stupid? This isn’t a soap opera, Detective, and we may not have time to dramatise things for the sake of effects!”
“I’m not trying to,” Carolyn snapped back. “And I’m not trying to be moralistic, either. I didn’t join Major Case until three months ago, and I wasn’t around when it all happened. But my partner, Mike Logan, was. He can tell you. Between him, Bobby and Alex, they can give you pretty much the whole story. There is no point in me even trying to tell you, because you wouldn’t get all the details that you need. And as far as Alex is concerned… She won’t be happy about it, but she’ll tell you if you make it clear to her that it’s for Bobby’s sake. You put it on that footing, and she’ll tell you everything.”
House stared at her for a long moment before nodding, momentarily placated.
“Okay. I’ll be looking forward to it.”
“Hey,” Carolyn greeted Bobby as she rejoined him. “How are you feeling?”
“No better,” he mumbled. He drew in a shuddering breath, and looked up at her with eyes that were bright with renewed fever. “They don’t know what’s wrong yet, do they?”
“They have a few ideas. At the moment, they’re treating you for bacterial meningitis.”
“Meningitis? That’s not what I have.”
She regarded him in amusement. “And you know this because…?”
“Had meningitis once before. When… when I was a teenager. It was different to this. I… I’ve felt like this before… Once before…”
“When?” she asked softly, hoping he might be able to give a clue as to the reason for his illness. He seemed to think about it before finally shaking his head in distress.
“I… I can’t remember.”
She brushed her fingertips lightly over his forehead, trying to soothe his distress.
“It’s okay, Bobby. I have something to tell you that might cheer you up a little. Deakins is sending Alex and Mike out here.”
He blinked hard, as though trying to focus, and she waited patiently for her words to sink in.
“Alex…? She… She’s coming?”
“Yes. She should be here by this evening.”
Bobby sighed in audible relief.
“So… Deakins knows?”
“Yes. He knows what’s happened, and he knows you’re in the hospital. Don’t worry about it, Bobby. Everything’s taken care of at that end. He’s not angry at you. Not anymore. Just really worried.”
Bobby sighed softly.
“Didn’t mean to make him worry.”
She took a damp cloth and gently rubbed it over his hot face.
“He’ll know that, Bobby. Try not to think about it. Just focus on getting over this… whatever it is.”
“Have you talked to House?”
“Sort of. He was the one who made the captain actually listen to me, and not just rant at me.”
“You… You think I can trust him?”
“Well, from all I’ve heard, the man is a complete ass, but he’s also among the best there is. Unconventional, but brilliant, I think is what I was told. Just like a certain Major Case detective I know.”
Bobby still looked unsettled, though.
“Does… Does he still want to know about M… Mathers?”
“Yes,” Carolyn confirmed. “Bobby, he said it’s possible that something that happened even two years ago could be affecting you now. I didn’t tell them anything, though. I said that between you, Alex and Mike, you might be able to tell the whole story, but that it was up to you and Alex.”
“Thankyou,” Bobby whispered. Carolyn continued running the damp cloth over his face, and stroking his forehead gently. He was so damned hot…
“Just rest, Bobby.”
He fell asleep to the soothing touch of her fingertips lightly stroking his forehead.
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