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Title: Out Of Focus
Author: Namaste
Summary: It's more than a week before House realizes he didn't pack his glasses. Nine drabbles from House's first days at Mayfield. Gen, PG. Post Season-Five.
Author's note: Because [profile] coconut_ice22 mentioned House's glasses in the comment to another fic, I started wondering if House even bothered to bring them to Mayfield.
Sample: "Bet you'd like this wouldn't you?" Amber taunts him from behind a paper. The Sunday New York Times, one week ago. "Well, you can't have it."




It's more than a week before House realizes he didn't pack his glasses.


Day One:

There are forms. Lots of forms. House starts to say something about paperwork making people crazy, but doesn't. They'd only write it down, make some mark in his permanent record about talking to himself.

"Does this mean you're not going to talk to me anymore either?" Amber leans against the desk where he's sitting. Her shadow falls across the forms.

House doesn't bother reading them, just signs where there's a space for his name. It's what he'd do when Cameron shoved a form in his face, or Cuddy.

Cuddy.

He puts his hand over his eyes, pushes the papers away.

*************************************

Day Two:

They claim this is better than a cold turkey detox, that the meds they hand out, unidentified, in a paper cup will quell the nausea and take the edge off his pain.

They don't help, and they won't tell him what's in the cup.

"You're the patient now, Dr. House," they say.

House shakes the cup, shifting the pills around, looking for a name, a brand, a symbol -- anything -- on them. But his leg is screaming, his stomach churning. He can't see straight, couldn't read anything on them even if there was some marker there.

He swallows them down instead.


************************************

Day Three:

There are no distractions. No cases. No files. No books.

No friends. But, House thinks, that's nothing new.

He hasn't earned TV privileges. He's not even allowed out to watch the other crazies -- not yet.

"Not until you finish detox, and we finish our initial assessments," they tell him.

All he has is this room, and the pain, and Amber. Always Amber.

And time.

Every cliche of time passing slowly comes to him now.

"Bet you'd like this wouldn't you?" Amber taunts him from behind a paper. The Sunday New York Times, one week ago. "Well, you can't have it."


*****************************

Day Four:

There's a window, and a dim gray light matching the curtain of drugs and misery in his head.

He hears a rumble, but isn't sure if it's thunder, or just Dad clearing his throat from his chair across the room.

He swings his feet to the floor. He has no cane, but it's just a few steps over to the window. He wants to see lightning, to think about something other than the knotted loops of his mind.

Pain is a tsunami. He wants to stand fast, but manages only a few seconds before he falls back against the bed.


**************************

Day Five:

House tells them to change his meds, but they won't listen.

"Give it time," they say. "Be patient."

Life becomes one long, dull ache, punctuated by tasteless meals and pills that only nip at the edges of beast.

Finally he gives up, accepts that he's lost, and there will be no relief. Now familiar pain becomes something new, becomes a way to break up the hours.

He forces himself onto his feet again and again, standing until he nearly screams. And then until he does, his voice joining the chorus of the crippled and insane echoing off the stone walls.


*******************************

Day Six:

They change his pills and he can stand, even walk across the room, but now his brain won't settle. It flits around the room and his memories, bringing more ghosts to his side.

His grandfather tells him he can't stay, that he has to change the oil in a car that turned to rust decades ago.

His uncle still tells dirty jokes in a slight Dutch accent.

The woman who died on his first day of ER rotation in med school sits before him in blood stained clothing.

A Japanese doctor in janitor's clothes shakes his head, and says nothing.


********************************

Day Seven:


He counts the ceiling tiles, each one measuring a foot square. Nine of them across the width of the room. Twelve to the far wall.

The concrete blocks along the walls are eight inches by fifteen. House puts his palm against one. The paint cannot mask the rough texture beneath his hand. He spreads his fingers out, until he's reached the distance of an octave.

He closes his eyes and tries to imagine music, tries to bring the image of piano keys to mind, but his memory skips out of place and even the simplest tune leaps beyond his grasp.

**********************************


Day Eight:

When he was a boy, he made his mother read stories again and again, until he memorized them. She later joked she taught him to read so she'd enough time to cook supper.

Dr. Seuss, Encyclopedia Brown, Sherlock Holmes -- once he knew them all, quoted each line, each mystery.

He'd thought those words were gone, replaced by textbooks, symptoms and diseases, but in the quiet he stares at the ceiling and lets his mind wander further and further.

The first words. The first pages.

"I would not like them here or there," House mumbles. "I do not like them anywhere."


***********************************************


Day Nine:

There's a piano in the day room.

It's the first thing House sees. He doubts its in tune.

They tell him to mingle, meet the other patients, but he heads for the paperbacks at the far end of the room. There are old romances, dog-eared bestsellers, even a Western or two.

He picks up a mystery, tries to follow a wayward woman across a gritty street, but his eyes won't focus. He holds the book out further, then further, but the words won't form.

He tosses it back, sits on the piano bench, and stares out at the room.



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October 2011

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