Poison 3/3

Poison
Written May 2006
Rated PG-13
Synopsis: When Cuddy collapses during a meeting with donors, House must figure out what happened — and who tried to kill her.
Spoilers: “Who’s Your Daddy?”

Disclaimer: The characters within are property of Heel & Toe, Shore Z. Productions, Bad Hat Harry Productions, and other corporations. No infringement is intended.


“So which one of you did it?”

Jack, Ed, and a police officer looked at House as he stood in the middle of the waiting room. Jack frowned at him. “Did what?”

“Wait, where’s the other one?” He shifted his finger between Jack and Ed.

“Troy? Uh, bathroom.”

“And you are?” the officer prompted, unhappy with the interruption and not shy about showing it.

“I’m Dr. House. I’ve been treating Lisa Cuddy, whom one of these seemingly upstanding gentlemen tried to kill this evening.”

“Nobody tried to kill her,” Jack said.

“Right. I suppose nobody put the crushed nitroglycerin tablets in her drink either. The nursing staff did that, on the off chance that she might use a plastic cup from the lounge.”

“Nitroglycerin?” Ed repeated. His brow creased slightly.

“It’s a medication prescribed to people with high blood pressure.”

“I know. Th-that’s what happened to her?”

The officer stood up and frowned at House, hands on his hips. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Do you have high blood pressure, Mr. Harper?”

Ed nodded. “Yeah, but… Well, here. I have the pills in my attaché case.” He reached into the black bag at his feet and retrieved a bottle. He held it up triumphantly.

“Doctor…” came the officer’s warning.

House faced him. The name badge read P. Eagleton. “Do you mind?”

“You are interfering with an official police investigation.”

“I was here first.”

“Uh…” Ed shook his pill bottle. “Excuse me…”

Eagleton ignored him and continued, “Go back to your patients, or I’ll be forced to arrest you.”

“Hey, that’d be swell. In the meantime, let’s let one of these guys get away with attempted murder. But she’s not out of the woods yet; she could still kick the bucket. Then it wouldn’t be attempted murder, it’d be murder, and then it’d be your fault. ‘Cop Kills Hospital Dean – Lack of Cooperation Led to Her Untimely Demise.’ Great headline, a page turner for sure. I wonder who’d play me in the made-for-TV movie.”

“Um, excuse me?” Ed tried again.

Eagleton shot him an angry glare, and Ed shrunk back. “What?”

“Uh, some of my pills are missing. But it wasn’t me, I didn’t put them in her drink.”

House smirked. “And paper beats rock.”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake.” Jack sighed heavily. “I did it.” Everyone stared at him. “But it was an accident.”

“You accidentally laced Cuddy’s drink?” House asked with a snort. “What, did you accidentally steal some pills from Ed and then they accidentally fell in the cup?”

“No. That drink wasn’t for her. It was for him.” He looked at Ed for a moment before averting his gaze.

“Me?” Ed’s lower lip trembled, and House was afraid he might start to cry. “You were going to kill me?”

“You lied to me! You knew those stocks were going to plummet, but you told me to keep them. ‘Don’t worry, they’ll bounce back.’ Those were your exact words. You cost me over a million dollars!”

“You have everything! A beautiful wife, a kid on the way. Your house is bigger than this hospital. What do you need a million dollars for? You can make that again in a month, Mr. Hot Shot Lawyer.”

“Just because you have a gambling problem and blow all your money on the Yankees–”

“The Yankees?” House scoffed.

Jack ignored the comment.  “I trusted you to protect my investments.”

“You tried to kill me!”

“You would’ve been fine; you’re in the best hospital in the state.”

Eagleton exchanged a look with House. “Jack Manning, you’re under arrest for criminal negligence and the attempted murder of Edward Harper.  You have the right to remain silent.”

Jack allowed himself to be handcuffed. He looked at House. “Tell Lisa I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, I’m sure she’ll appreciate that.”

House was pretty certain that Eagleton rolled his eyes. “You have the right to an attorney…” The Miranda warning faded as the two headed toward the elevators.

House sat down next to Ed and frowned. “Well, I didn’t see that one coming.”

“Me neither,” Ed said. “I thought Troy did it.”

“What?”  Maybe Ed wasn’t as useless as he thought.  “Why?”

“He hates her.”

“I thought he was trying to do the mattress tango with her.”

“He was at first, but then she kept turning him down, and he doesn’t take no for an answer.”

“But he’s still asking her out.”

“Yes, but he doesn’t want sex.  He wants revenge.  He said he was going to humiliate her.  Take pictures, send them to the hospital board and the licensing commission, whatever.  He’s a jerk.” Ed gave a sad sigh. “I guess neither of those guys were my friends. I knew I should’ve gotten that sex change operation instead of going to college.”

House didn’t hear him. “Troy’s been in the bathroom a really long time.”

“Yeah. Wonder what’s keeping him.”

The final piece in his mental puzzle slid into place. “Go get Officer Eagleton. Send him up to Cuddy’s room. Now.”

“What’s wrong?”

He hobbled quickly down the hallway, cursing his leg with every step. The hospital was quiet. The minimal amount of staff, only a few patients on this floor. It was the perfect arrangement for a golf pro with a score to settle.

The blinds to Cuddy’s room were still drawn, and as far as he could tell, the lights were still out. Maybe she was asleep, perfectly safe.  He walked inside.

The man standing over Cuddy’s bed, injecting something into her intravenous line, was not a doctor.  At least, not a real one.  Troy Owens gazed at House with complete calm as he emptied the needle into the line and sat it on the table beside him, along with another empty syringe and a set of keys.  “Hello, Doctor.”

“Hello.” His eyes flickered to the monitors. So far, so good. He stood between Troy and the door and made no attempt to move closer. “Hey, guess what. Jack was the one who poisoned Cuddy.”

“Well … sort of.”

“Did you know he was going to kill Ed?”

“I knew he was furious that Ed told him to keep those stocks.  He actually considered going against Ed’s advice and selling anyway; he needed the money for his wife’s medical bills.”

“I thought he was rich.”

“He just wants everyone to think that.  With massive student loan debt, two mortgages, and a kid on the way, he’s on his way to bankruptcy.” He gazed down at Cuddy like a mother would watch over a sleeping child. “She looks so peaceful.”

But her breathing was beginning to slow, and her oxygen saturation level was dropping, not enough to set off the monitors but enough to concern House. There were hundreds of drugs that could cause those symptoms. He needed to get those needles. “You saw Jack put the crushed up pills in the cup, didn’t you?”

“And then I took the cup and gave it to Lisa. What was he going to say? ‘Hey, I poisoned that drink’? No. But she didn’t die. Yet.” Troy brushed Cuddy’s hair away from her face. It was almost a sweet gesture — until he yanked on it, jerking her head to the side. She didn’t wake up, and he laughed.

“What did you give her?”

“Don’t worry; it won’t hurt.”

House squinted at the keys. They probably weren’t Troy’s. Cuddy’s keys? She had told him that her purse was hanging in the closet, but when he got there, it was on the top of her desk. If Troy had taken them, he was probably after the key to the narcotics box. And if that was true… He checked the monitor again. Oxygen saturation was down to 90%.

Playing the concerned doctor wouldn’t get him anywhere — usually never did — so House tried a different approach. “You’re such a coward. What kind of man kills a woman who won’t go on a date with him? Hello! Lame.”

He stood up, fists clenched. “Lame? What’s lame are all these women flaunting themselves, getting men all hot and bothered, then turning them down.”

“That’s what women do. It’s genetic.”

“It’s prostitution! And this one is the biggest whore of them all. Those slinky little outfits. Bending over just enough so you can see down her blouse.”

“Yummy.” Troy scoffed at that. “Face it, Troy. You’re a loser who flunked out of med school and had to resort to teaching golf. You couldn’t get laid to save your life!”

“Oh, let me guess: you get laid all the time.”

“Somehow we’re back on the prostitution thing.”

He chuckled to himself, giving House an arrogant sneer. “Exactly. Women don’t want a cripple like you.”

“You’re right, they want a psychopath like you. But don’t take my word for it. Take hers — she’s awake.”

Troy looked back at Cuddy, but her eyes were closed and she wasn’t moving. Before he realized what was happening, House was behind him. He secured his cane in both fists and threw it over Troy’s head, then pulled back. The cane squeezed against Troy’s neck, and the man struggled for air.

“Cripple’s not as slow as you thought,” House said with a groan, applying more pressure. “You just fell for the oldest trick in the book, pal.” He looked over his shoulder and squinted at the labeling on the syringes. The print was too small to make out from his location. “You’ve got one chance. What did you give her?”

He let up so Troy could speak, and the words out of his mouth were less than favorable.

He pulled the cane tighter until he heard the man gurgle. Then he let go, and Troy staggered to his feet. A wide bruise the width of the cane adorned his neck. “That was for Cuddy.” Troy’s face contorted into an angry glare, hands balling up once again. “And this is for me.” House drew his fist back then plunged it forward. He made contact with Troy’s jaw, and the man lost his balance, landing in a heap in the corner. House shook out his hand, wincing at the pain. It was probably broken, but that was the least of his worries.

House grabbed the syringe with his good hand and read the label. Morphine. He pulled up one of her eyelids; her pupils had reduced themselves to a small pinpoint, further evidence of an overdose of narcotics. She wouldn’t rouse from sleep and barely reacted when he pinched her skin. He leaned in, listening for any sounds of breathing. Nothing.

The monitors began beeping wildly. Oxygen saturation was down to 85%. “Crash cart!” he shouted, though he wasn’t sure anyone could hear him. Her lips were a pale blue, and he didn’t know how long they’d been like that. He grabbed her feet and pulled her body further down the bed until she lay flat, unwilling to take the time to lower the head of the bed. She needed to be intubated and he didn’t have the equipment and where were the damn nurses? He wasn’t going to lose her like this.

He tipped her head back, pinched her nose, and breathed for her. “Come on, Lisa.” He looked at the monitors again before covering her mouth with his. Breathe, listen, again. She wasn’t responding.

“Where the hell have you been?” he shouted as the nurses finally arrived with the crash cart. “I need a bag now!”

“I’ve got it.” Wilson pushed into the room and grabbed the trach tube, but House took it from him.

“No, get two ccs of Naloxone.”

“Narcotic poisoning now?” he asked.

“It just hasn’t been her day.” House eased the tube into Cuddy’s throat. She resisted by reflex, gurgling and choking, but he kept going until the intubation was successful. He affixed the bag onto the tube’s other end and squeezed. “Got it.” He continued supplying oxygen as he watched Wilson injected the Naloxone into her IV line. “She should start showing improvement in a minute.”

The beeping machines, the hissing sound of the bag being depressed, House’s own heart pounding. He kept his eyes fixed on the monitor, afraid that if he looked at Cuddy, he would see her die. Sixty seconds passed. Then ninety. One hundred twenty.

Wilson took another syringe from the cart. “I’ll repeat the injection.”

“Wait.” A number flickered on the screen.

“O2 sats rising.”

The roaring in his ears drowned out the conversation in the room. She was going to be okay. A hand pushed his away from the oxygen bag, and Wilson grinned at him. “You did good.”

“Start her on a Naloxone drip for an hour, continuous infusion. Cardiorespiratory monitoring for the next twelve hours.”

Wilson nodded. “Someone wrap Dr. House’s hand please.”

He looked down. Oh, that’s right; he’d forgotten about that. His right hand was already a purplish color, and something about it didn’t look quite right. It was crooked or swollen or something. And it hurt like hell.

“Get some rest,” Wilson told him. “I’ll take it from here.”

He nodded and stepped away from the bedside. His foot got caught on something, and he stumbled into the table. “What the…” It was Troy’s leg. He kicked it out of spite.

***

“Hey!”

Cuddy glanced over her shoulder and quickened her pace. It was noon, and she’d succeeded in staying hidden from him that long. It looked like her luck had run out. She opened the door to her office and ducked inside.

House followed her without knocking. “I said one week.  It’s been two days.”

“I appreciate your concern, but unlike you, I want to be here. I can’t spend all day watching soap operas and talk shows. My brain will turn to mush. And it’s been three days.”

“God, doctors make the worst patients.” He found his flashlight and shined it in her eyes.

She swatted at him. “I am fine. You bring one more flashlight, stethoscope, or other medical device in here and try to use it on me, I’ll strap you to a bed.”

“Oooh. Now where’d I leave that defibrillator…”

She smiled at him. “I’m serious. If I start feeling faint, I’ll report directly to your office.”

“You will not.” He shook his head and turned to the door.

“I never got a chance to thank you,” she said, and he looked back at her.

“For what?”

“For saving my life.”

“Oh. That. Well, I couldn’t let Troy succeed in killing you. I mean, my job security would’ve gone down the toilet, the remaining members of the board would probably put a price on my head–”

She kissed his cheek quickly then rubbed her thumb over the spot to remove any traces of lipstick. The action silenced him. “You really need to learn to accept compliments.” Cuddy moved past him. “I’ve got to head up to the surgery unit, and if I’m not mistaken, you have clinic duty.”

“Hey, Lisa.”

She pivoted on her heel and faced him. “Lisa?”

“Yeah, you know, your other personality. Seeing as how your doctor ordered you to spend no more than eight hours a day at work–”

“Advice which I’m probably going to ignore as well.”

“–do want to have dinner tonight?”

The question caught her off guard, but she smiled.  “If I say no, are you going to try to kill me?”

He chuckled softly and looked at the carpet. “After all the effort that went into keeping you alive the last time? It’d be kind of a waste.”

“Uh huh.” She grabbed the handle to her door and pulled it open. Hesitated. Sighed.

“Oh, it’s really easy. You just put one leg in front of the other, then move the one in the back to the front. Keep that up, and you’ll be through the door in no time.”

She shot him a dirty look, but she couldn’t muster the frustration needed to make it effective. “Pick me up at seven.”

The End

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