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The next morning, there was no singing, and House made the med student cry within two minutes of walking in the door. Chase rolled his eyes surreptitiously at Taub and then looked daggers at Foreman. House, banging around with the coffee maker and muttering about the dirty mugs in the sink, didn’t seem to notice.

“On the bright side,” Taub said finally, “Dr. Brennan looks like she’s ready to be discharged.” Chase redirected his glare, obviously thinking that House was dearly in need of a medical distraction at the moment.

“Who the hell used the last of the sugar and didn’t replace it?” House demanded, slamming the empty bag into the trash.

Just then, Booth appeared in the doorway, eyes darting from one doctor to the next. “Glad I found you. Bones can’t feel her face.”


Back around the conference table after their unexpected examination, House thumped his cane on the ground for emphasis, looking much less disgruntled. “Acute trigeminal sensory neuropathy, go.”

“Trauma is the most common cause of acute neuropathy,” Masters volunteered, ever optimistic.

“Great guess, except for the complete lack of evidence of trauma. What else?”

“Infection,” Taub offered.

“Fever’s gone, and we’ve swamped her system with enough antibiotics to sterilize a corpse,” Chase pointed out. “Her most recent bloodwork showed thrombocytopenia and elevated transaminases. Could be drugs, or drug-induced lupus.”

“It’s never lupus,” Foreman sneered.

“It was once,” Chase protested.

“No rash, no history of arrhythmia, arthritis, or, until recently, seizures,” House said. “But run the ANA. What else?”

“Cancer,” Foreman said heavily. “Most commonly metastasis from breast or lung carcinoma. But malignant melanoma can also spread into neural tissue and present with cranial nerve involvement.”

“Hmm,” House said. “Wonder Boy may have a patient after all. No, don’t get up,” he added, already halfway out the door.

Masters looked around at her colleagues. “Did he mean Dr. Wilson?”

“Who else?” Taub answered.


“You really think this might be a brain tumor?” Booth asked nervously. There were too many of them packed into the observation room, but no one was about to tell him that he was the fifth wheel.

“That is the most likely explanation,” Foreman admitted. He flipped the intercom on. “Okay, Dr. Brennan. We’re going to start the scan. Please hold as still as possible.”

“I had a brain tumor,” Booth said darkly. “Thought I was on a submarine with a dead guy from my old unit.” Chase and Taub exchanged startled glances and did their best to edge away from him a little.

Foreman and Wilson were intently watching the scans slide over the monitor. Suddenly the images fractured and blurred. Foreman jerked his head up to see Brennan twisting her head to the side, eyes wide.

“Hold still, Dr. Brennan,” Foreman said sharply.

But her face was contorting, her pupils dilating, her mouth opening in a panicked shriek. She began banging frantically on the inside of the chamber with her palms. “Booth!” she wailed. “Booth, we’re down here!”

“Get her out of there,” Foreman ordered.

Chase was the first to reach her, and was rewarded with a powerful kick that sent him stumbling and retching off to the side of the room. Booth, right behind him, approached more cautiously as Brennan continued to hammer her hands against the top and sides of the chamber. “Bones!” he shouted, trying to make himself heard above her blows and screams. “Bones, it’s all right, I’m here!”

“Get us out!” Brennan yelled. “We’re almost out of air!”

Taub had pushed the button to slide Brennan back out of the chamber and was fumbling for a syringe while Chase continued to cough and splutter. As soon as he could reach her, Booth grabbed her battered hands and held them tightly. “Bones, it’s me, you’re out, you’re all right!”

“Little pinch,” Taub said, jabbing the needle into her deltoid. Brennan didn’t even react as she pulled herself up and swung her legs over the side of the platform, trying to yank her hands out of Booth’s firm grip.

“Whoa, whoa,” Booth said, holding on to her. “Take it easy. Just relax, it’s over.”

“No!” Brennan protested, still struggling, but more feebly now. “Hodgins is still down there! You have to help… find…” Succumbing to the sedative, she slumped bonelessly into Booth’s arms. He stood there, a worried scowl creasing his forehead, as they were finally joined by Foreman and Wilson.

“What was that all about?” Chase choked out, still wheezing and rubbing his sternum.

“She sounded like she was having a nightmare about one of our old cases,” Booth said.

“That was no nightmare,” Foreman said gravely. “Dr. Brennan is hallucinating.”


“Well, that was unexpected,” House acknowledged when the Cottages had regrouped in the Diagnostics conference room.

“Chase getting his ass kicked by a barefoot girl? Not so much, actually,” Taub smirked. This earned him a glare from Chase, who had changed his shirt and was sullenly fingering the sore spot on his chest.

“With you there,” House agreed. “No, I was referring to the fact that our patient is now having hallucinations. Those plus the trigeminal neuropathy means…” he paused dramatically, then turned to Foreman and said in a loud stage whisper, “Hey, brain guy, that was supposed to be your cue.”

“MRI was clean,” Foreman said. “No brain tumor, no enlargement of the trigeminal nerves.”

“Anything else it wasn’t?” Masters smothered a nervous giggle as House narrowed his eyes in her direction. “Come on, people. I need ideas.”

“Sudden onset schizophrenia,” Taub said.

“Déjà vu much?” House jeered.

Foreman shook his head. “Too sudden. And with no evidence of disorganized thought or speech.”

“Could explain the blunted affect,” Taub said under his breath.

“I assume you’re referring to the part where she was screaming in terror at the thought of being buried alive,” House said sarcastically. “What else?” He slammed his cane down on the conference table directly in front of Chase, causing all of the Cottages to jump. “Quit sniveling and contribute something useful for a change.”

“Drugs,” Chase said defiantly.

“Is there a delayed echo in here?” House asked. “None of the drugs we’ve given her could have caused these symptoms. Or are you suggesting that she’s got a secret stash?”

“Or a supplier who’s rarely out of her sight,” Taub suggested.

“Or delirium tremens,” said Foreman.

“Everybody lies,” Masters parroted.

“They grow up so fast,” House said, pretending to wipe a tear from his eye. “All right. Run a tox screen for all the mood-altering substances that you can think of. And Chase, since you’re so gung ho, you can go ask GI Joe whether he’s dealing drugs or his partner is a secret alcoholic,” he finished with an evil grin.

The fellows filed out of the room, the rigid line of Chase’s back shouting bite me even if his cowardly mouth never would.


“Doctor House? Hi, Lance Sweets. I’m a psychologist with the FBI.”

House looked the cherubic young man up and down and guffawed. “Seriously? Were your parents expecting you to put yourself through school as a male escort?” Beside him, Wilson tensed, giving the distinct impression that he might be about to fling himself bodily into the line of fire. But when his gibe failed to provoke the desired response, all House said was, “What brings you to my office… Lance?

“Doctor House, I’ve treated Doctor Brennan in her capacity as Agent Booth’s partner, and I heard about her recent psychiatric symptoms. I’ve come to offer my services as a consultant.”

“That’s right, her recent psychiatric symptoms,” House emphasized, his lips curling over the word. “In other words, symptoms treatable with drugs, by real doctors, as opposed to sitting around and talking about her feelings with a kid barely old enough to shave.”

Wilson sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Doctor Sweets, I’m sorry, it’s been a stressful day for all of us, and this really might not be the best time-“

“No, don’t apologize, this is very interesting,” Sweets said smoothly. “Doctor House, you are hardly alone in your doubts about the efficacy of psychotherapy. But I can see that there’s more to your resistance than the usual professional rivalries.” Emboldened by House’s silence, he continued, “You sound like a man who’s tried to get psychological help, and probably fairly recently. Tried and failed, and now you feel justifiably skeptical about the entire enterprise.”

House caught Wilson’s eye. “I’ll be in my office,” the oncologist said, and as he passed Sweets, he mouthed, “Good luck.”

Sweets waited for the door to shut behind Wilson. “Doctor House, I know a little bit about you. You’re famous – some might say infamous – in your field. You’ve had some run-ins with the law, suspicions of narcotics abuse and trafficking, that sort of thing. I can tell that you’re not using now, and there’s a bit of a gap in your records, so I’m thinking that you went away for a while to a private facility and got clean. You would have had to agree to continue therapy in order to practice medicine again when you got out, and you’re still clean, yet you’re disillusioned with the process.”

He moved closer, sat down in the chair opposite House, and leaned his elbows on the desk, steepling his fingers. The other man only watched him, eyes narrowed, but objections stilled, at least temporarily, by curiosity.

“Something about your circumstances changed. Therapy wasn’t working anymore. You came very close to relapsing into your old self-destructive patterns, but then you found another solution.” If Sweets had shown any hesitation, any doubts about his interpretation, he knew that House would squash him like a particularly annoying insect, so he pressed on. “Only now you’re scared. You miss the things you’ve lost, and you don’t think this is a sustainable solution. And you’re probably right.”

House finally stood up, blue eyes unreadable in the late afternoon light. “You aren’t really here to talk about my patient, are you? Who brought you in? It was Wilson, wasn’t it?”

Sweets remained seated. “On the contrary, Dr. House. I was just demonstrating my credentials in the only manner that a man like you respects.”

“What exactly is it that you want, Lance?”

“To consult on Dr. Brennan’s case, as I said.”

“I really don’t think that you’re any use to her right now.”

“Dr. House, I’ve heard that Dr. Brennan is experiencing hallucinations and paranoid delusions. I might be able to help calm her down. Barring that, there’s a good chance that the content of her delusions may be informative.”

“With respect to this case? I doubt it.”

“Perhaps not to this case, but if in her current state she reveals deep-seated anxieties or desires, I could gain insights that will assist me with future treatment.”

“Assuming that we’re able to discover the underlying cause of her symptoms and release her from the hospital,” House said darkly.

“I have every confidence,” Sweets said. House stared at him stonily for a moment, then sank slowly into his seat.

“Well, she’s non compos mentis at the moment. You’ll have to get permission from her medical proxy.”

“No problem,” Sweets smiled, getting to his feet and holding out his hand. “Thank you, Dr. House.” When House made no move to take it, Sweets withdrew his hand and headed to Brennan’s room.


“You want to do what?” Booth was already shaking his head. “No way, Sweets. If Bones weren’t so out of it right now, she’d tell you to go to hell.”

“I just want to observe, Agent Booth. Come on.” He winced, waiting for Booth to mock him for the whiny Daaaad, you said I could have the car note in his voice.

“You mean, you just want to spy on her. Take advantage of this opportunity to find out how she ticks deep down.” Booth held up his hand. “Sorry, the answer’s no. It was bad enough when you wrote that ridiculous book about us.”

“A book I’ll never be able to publish, all because you were holding out on me.”

“Yeah, cry me a river, Sweets. Forget it.” Just then, Brennan stirred and moaned behind him. Booth spun around and was at her side in an instant. “Bones? Bones, you all right?”

“Booth,” she murmured. Then, more urgently, “Booth!”

“Yeah, Bones, it’s me, I’m here.” He reached for her hand, not even noticing as Sweets quietly followed him into the room.

Brennan began thrashing her head from side to side, struggling against her restraints. Her eyes were open, but she seemed to be looking right through him. “Booth!” she whimpered. “Where are you? Don’t leave me alone!”

“Bones, I’m here,” he said more loudly, chafing the clenched fingers he held. “I haven’t left you. I’m not going anywhere. Feel, Bones. I’m right here.” He knelt by the bed and pressed his cheek to the back of her bandaged hand, but Brennan continued to writhe and plead.

Attention attracted by the noise on his way past the door, Foreman entered abruptly, brushing by Sweets, and rummaged in the medical storage cart for an ampule and a syringe. Booth lifted his head to glare suspiciously at him, and if his face was wet, no one dared call attention to that fact. “I’m just giving her something to help her relax,” Foreman assured him, deftly disengaging her fluid line and injecting into the IV.

Brennan’s movements grew weaker as the panic in her face stilled. “Booth,” she muttered one more time, before her mouth went slack and she closed her eyes, head lolling to the side. Foreman checked her pulse and nodded once at Booth, looking sympathetic, before leaving the room.

Sweets cautiously moved forward and placed a hand on Booth’s shoulder. “Agent Booth, I know that this is very upsetting. But I just want to make sure that you’re not missing the big picture here. Brennan’s hallucinations are telling us that what she fears most is being abandoned by you. This is huge.”

“Sweets,” Booth growled, swiping at his face, “- and I mean this in the nicest possible way - get the hell out.”

Read Chapter Five: Some Days




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