Lue, a young boy asleep in bed, wakes to the sound of someone -- or something -- entering his room. He's afraid to look. When he does, he sees a sinister-looking, disheveled old Asian woman. "Who are you?" he asks, nervously. She bares her teeth and growls at him, grabbing his throat and trying to choke him. "What are you doing?! Get out of here!" Lue yells. She keeps growling and attacking him.
"Lue? Lue?" It's Lue's mother, who came in to check on the commotion. "Are you OK?" There's no old hag. "Calm down. It's all right. You were just having another bad dream," his mom says. Lue can't relax enough to catch his breath. "Just take slow, deep breaths. There's nothing to be afraid of." He's trying, but he can't. Suddenly, he lapses into unconsciousness. "I've been paging you for over two hours," Foreman says to House as he arrives with Lue's case. Acute respiratory distress. No allergies or asthma, and his chest x-ray is clear. "He's been having night terrors. Woke up in the middle of one in full respiratory arrest."
House thinks that he's solved the case already: stress-induced panic attacks. "Tell the parents to lay off the grades. The world needs fry cooks, too."
Doesn't seem likely: Lue is a good student. His parents are divorced; the dad moved to another state, but it was amicable. "The dreams are about an ugly old hag trying to strangle him," Foreman says. "Family's Hmong." Well, that certainly got House's attention. "SUNDS: Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome." House wheels in a chair with multiple banker's boxes full of files on it to the team. "AKA, BS name for 'no one's figured out why they died.' Over 100 in the early '80s. Only male. Only Hmong. Healthy, right up until the moment they died in their sleep."
Chase asks what Lue was dreaming about. "Doesn't matter," Park says quickly. "It's a dream. It doesn't mean anything." Hmm . . . Park is very quick to dismiss the meaning of dreams, though she says that she was merely defending science. "You were defensively defending science," House says. She claims to never remember her dreams.
Lue's dream was about an ancient demon called a "dab." They rule out a heart problem and sleep apnea for Lue. "Lung damage from inhaled toxins could keep causing problems after he woke up," Park speculates. "Or an upper respiratory infection," Adams says.
House orders Chase and Park to start Lue on IV antibiotics for pneumonia and Taub and Adams to check the home for toxins. But Park wants to go with Taub to the house. "It was my idea," she says. "Right," House says. "Because for a moment there, I thought you were uncomfortable around Chase because you had a nocturnal Australian." "Do you believe a spirit could be hurting your son?" Chase asks Lue's mom, Lida. If she believes it's possible, then Lue might believe it, too, and it could be causing real physical symptoms. But Lida doesn't believe in spirits. "I'm an engineer," she says. "I know illnesses aren't caused by evil spirits." "I had a dream." House finds Wilson in the clinic performing a breast exam. "Relax, I'm a doctor," House tells the naked woman. "Your spectacular breasts mean nothing to me."
In the hallway, House explains that he had a sex dream about Dominika. Well, sort of. "It wasn't literally sex. Technically, it was flossing. But you know, teeth, testicles -- I think the symbolism is pretty clear. "I'll tell you what would be weirder: if you didn't dream about having sex with Chase." That's Taub's helpful bit of wisdom for Park, as they search Lue's home. "I work with him. I can't want to sleep with him," she says. Why does it smell like wet dog? They poke around, looking for the origin of the strange smell. Taub opens the door to Lue's room.
"Holy crap!" he says. There's blood on the walls, on the bed, on the floor. And a bloodied, severed pig's head in the middle of the room. It looked like a slaughterhouse," Taub tells Lida, who says she has no idea what he's talking about. "It was clean when we left." So a random person broke in and slaughtered a pig? "A pig?" Lida asks, sighing. "My father-in-law."
She rushes over to Xang, an older man, sitting on a couch in the hall. "What did you do?" she asks. "What you should have done weeks ago, when the dreams started," he says. Suddenly, Lue starts to crash. "He's stable, but we've obviously got a second symptom," Taub reports later. They tell House about the Hmong ceremonial ritual in Lue's room, meant to call back his soul. "The reason grandpa thinks the kid's soul is stolen is because he's convinced his son, the kid's father, had his stolen as well. He beat his boss to death. The dad didn't move away -- he's in prison."
Park shoots down Adams' theory that it could be PTSD, from hearing the story. It happened when Lue was a baby, and he was only ever told that his parents divorced and his dad moved away.
"What about acute pericarditis?" she suggests. "It's exacerbated by lying supine, so the symptoms would get worse when he goes to sleep." Just like the other cases.
House orders an echocardiogram to check Lue's pericardium. "See if you can find any cardioactive toxins in the home samples. "The floss was mint," House says. "Probably because of this green g-string she hangs up to dry in the bathroom." House insists on telling Wilson the story of his dream. "Might want to forward your calls. You do not want the Readers' Digest version of this."
Wilson thinks that the floss might have another meaning. "The floss isn't sex," he says. "It's guilt. It's tying you up for throwing away the INS notification granting Dominika her citizenship. She can move out, but she still doesn't know it. Which means you're basically holding her prisoner. Tell her the truth and leave me alone."
"We work together every day, usually under a fair amount of stress. It's only natural I'd pop into a subconscious thought every once in a while." Chase is trying to put Park at ease while they test samples in the lab. But she's offended when he says he hasn't dreamt of her.
"This is becoming weird because you're making it weird," Chase says. "So you don't find the idea abhorrent?" Park asks. "I work with you. I don't have to answer that question," he says. Though Park thinks he just did."Echo was negative, but he has severe abdominal pain," Taub says. No intestinal blockages, but he's constipated. And there were no toxins in the samples. Adams wants to scope him and clear out his bowel. "We should biopsy his thyroid," Chase suggests. "Hashimoto's thyroiditis would explain his lung, heart, and intestinal involvement. And if you think we still need House's approval, it also explains dying in your sleep." "When you invite me for dinner, I thought maybe you take me to restaurant." House is eating Chinese with Dominika in his office. "Or have plates." He says he's got some news about her citizenship. "Because we hadn't heard anything, I called, and they said it's going to be a couple of weeks," House says. "Maybe a month, until they finalize their decision." She's disappointed -- not because she has to live with House. "You know, I just want to be legal." "No! Get away!" Lue doesn't want any more needles, and nothing his mom or the doctors say can convince him. Suddenly he starts speaking loudly, and angrily, in a foreign language. Adams asks Lida what he's saying. "I don't know," she says, frightened. Xang does: "He's saying it's too late. There's nothing we can do. It's Hmong."
How can that be? Lue doesn't speak Hmong. "He's never even heard it," Lida says. "It isn't him speaking," Xang says. "It's the dab." Just then Lue starts to seize. "Seizure rules out Hashimoto's," Chase reports to House, though Taub is more concerned with how Lue could be speaking a language he's never heard. House thinks that it was probably just gibberish -- the grandfather heard what he wanted to hear: "Because if his grandson really is possessed, then it means his son really is possessed, which is a giant step up from being a giant, sledgehammering psychopath."
Chase thinks that it must be a neurological symptom, whatever it was. "Rasmussen's encephalitis: diffuse body inflammation could hit the autonomic centers of the brain," Adams says. House orders an MRI to confirm.
"But, he'll be OK?" Lida asks Chase about the diagnosis, and he tells her that it's manageable with treatment. Xang is convinced they're wrong, and they're wasting Lue's time. Chase explains his theory about stress causing people to hear what they want to hear, but he's adamant.
"I know the difference between science and faith," Xang says. "And when my son started having the same dream my grandson is having, science couldn't help him." He says that his son was bright, caring, happy "until the bad dreams came. I don't want to watch it happen again."
"Please don't scare the boy," Chase says sternly. "It won't help him get better." "I . . . had another dream last night," Park tells Taub as Lue is in the MRI chamber. "This time, it was about you." "Really?" he says, clearly flattered. "See, that's how you're supposed to react," she says. "When a woman tells you she's dreamt about you, you should be thrilled. Even if you're not interested in her whatsoever." "Apparently there are some things about you I don't know." House takes Dominika to an indoor shooting range, and she drops bull's-eyes right through the face of the target. "I served one year in police unit," she says. House's beeper chimes.
"Absence of evidence on an MRI, which my team has mistaken for evidence of absence," he explains to Dominika. "This is what I am not understanding," she says. "How can you believe in dark matters but not in dark spirits? Is the idea of demon so different than the Higgs boson? We can't see it, but we can see the impact of its presence. I borrowed your physics book. I read while in bathroom."
"You're a dead-eye shot and enjoy reading quantum physics on the crapper," House notes, appreciatively. "I read in bathtub," she corrects him. "Better image. Thank you," he says. "Doctors say my brain is sick." Lue is talking to his grandfather later that night. Xang assures Lue that the doctors are trying their best. "But they're not looking in the right place. I know this is a lot to put on an eight-year-old, but you have angered our ancestors by ignoring them. Now, do you remember how to talk to them?" Lue folds his hands across his chest. "That's right, good. Now, close your eyes, and we'll ask for forgiveness together. You're doing good, but we have to do more. Evil spirits are in the air, and the only way to stop them is by stopping the air."
Xang covers Lue's mouth and squeezes his throat, as Lue struggles. "You have to be brave. I'm not trying to hurt you," he tells the boy. "This will help you. I know it will." Then, suddenly -- "Lue? Are you OK?"
It's daytime, and Taub and Lida rush into Lue's room while he's in the throes of a night terror. "You're safe! You're in the hospital!" Taub yells, shaking him.
Lue insists that it was real -- his grandfather grabbed his neck. Taub sees marks on Lue's neck. "Those bruises weren't there before," he says. "He had the dream, and then he had the bruises," Taub says to the team. House thinks it's the opposite. He had the pain in his neck, and his brain came up with the dream to explain it. Taub thinks it's possible for a dream to have physical manifestations.
"Is that right, Dr. Park?" House asks. "Did you wake up this morning and experience physical changes? It's medically relevant." "The dream doesn't mean anything. Can we start acting like it doesn't mean anything?" Chase asks.
"Sure," House says. "We can also act like walls don't mean anything. But then we'd hurt our noses. You've been taking the high road, and haven't been teasing in an obviously tease-able situation, because you know it does mean something. She hates the dream because it makes her feel vulnerable. You love the dream because it makes you feel superior. Poor lass who can't help but fall sway to your charms, and you're bestowing upon her the gift of illusory relevance."
But about Lue, he says, "Liver failure could cause gibberish from encephalopathy and constipation, bruising, and breathing problems." He wants a biopsy of Lue's liver. "He keeps having these nightmares, that become real." Lida is talking to Adams and Taub while they biopsy Lue's liver. "They really hurt him. I don't want to believe that a nightmare can do that, but . . ." Taub tells her that he's struggling with it as well, although he's sure it can be explained medically. "But, you haven't," she says. "Every doctor, every idea they've had, it's been wrong." "Liver biopsy's back. Team's about to meet." Park finds Chase in the doctors' lounge, and he notices that she's back to not looking him in the eyes. "Want me to gaze longingly into your eyes as I tell you the test results?" she asks, sarcastically.
"I want you to treat me like a friend, which means getting over the fact that you like me more than I like you," he says. "Yeah, egotism and preening really turn me on," she says. "Well, too bad I'm not attracted to androgyny and self-pity or you'd have it made," he tells her. "Because anyone who hasn't gotten wet from your petri dish of STDs clearly has low self-esteem," Park says. "Bitch," Chase says. "Dick," Park answers.
They begin to passionately embrace, and Park pushes Chase to the couch and rips his shirt open . . . "Chase, are you coming?" Chase was dreaming, awakened by Park asking him to come to the team meeting about the liver biopsy. "So, once again you don't know what's wrong." Lida is frustrated to hear the biopsy was negative. "It's always good to rule out the bad things," Taub reminds her.
"Doctors!" A nurse from Lue's room calls them, but when they walk in, they can't believe what they see: Lue appears to levitate off the bed by about six inches, before slowly wafting back down. The only other person in the room just before: the grandfather. "Cool. So the one thing we know for sure is, he was not levitating." House is not taking Adams' and Taub's word on the levitation. "It was his whole body. He was levitating," Taub insists. House thinks it's a trick -- the kid is an unwitting assistant to the grandfather. But they checked the bed. No platforms or wires.
Meanwhile, House is now consumed with figuring out if Chase is trying to prove that he's not avoiding Park and, if so, why today and not yesterday. House orders electrolytes and beta blockers for Lue, thinking the problem might be calcium-related. "And good news for Park. I think Chase had a sex dream about you." "Dreams don't mean anything,"Chase says, hurrying out of the room. "I don't know. Nothing you've done has helped." Lida isn't sure whether to allow the team to administer treatment, but Chase warns her that another seizure could result in permanent neurological damage. "My father-in-law, he thinks the calling ceremony didn't work because Lue wasn't there." She doesn't know what to think anymore. She wants to take Lue home, since they can't perform the ritual in the hospital. Just a day ago, she was insulted when Chase asked if she believed in spirits. But maybe Xang was right about Lue's father. "The man I loved wasn't evil, and would never do what he did," she says. "He was possessed. And my son needs his soul back." "Why not? As long as he doesn't feed the kid anything or put anything on his skin that we haven't verified is harmless, what's the problem?" House takes the issue to Foreman, who doesn't seem to have a problem with Xang holding the ritual in the hospital. "It's no different than having a priest or rabbi lead a prayer vigil. The mom is scared, and confused and desperate for anything that will give her hope."
"True," House says. "But in the long run, I think you'll be happier having our lawyer declare her unfit, that way you won't be ratifying superstition over science. And I'll still be working here." "And why would that make me happier?" Foreman asks. "You're not going anywhere. We're not ratifying their beliefs; we're respecting them." Does he realize it may involve animal sacrifice? "People who live in glass hospitals should not throw exorcisms," House says. Foreman tells him he'll talk to the mother.
"I don't want to deny him the medicine," Lida tells Foreman. "I just want to make sure I try everything I can." But she has to understand it's a hospital, not a temple, and they can't allow Lue to leave while he's so sick. "I spoke to a lawyer," she says. "He told me as long as I wasn't saying no to your treatment, you couldn't say no to my religion." Foreman asks her for 24 hours. When House gets home, Dominika is having a fiery conversation on the phone with her mother, while holding a letter that looks suspiciously like the INS letter House threw away.
When she hangs up, House begins to apologize. "I should have told you." But it turns out the letter is about an uncle who was placed in a nursing home two months ago, which Dominika is only finding out about now. "My mother, I talk to her twice a week and she never even mentioned it," she says, crying on House's shoulder. "Are you going out tonight?" she asks. "I could stay," he says. "He's still barely breathing," Lida tells Adams the next morning. Adams tries to rouse him but there's no response. "You're wrong again?" Lida asks. "I'm calling his grandfather."
Xang has the room set up and he begins the ritual, as the doctors gather in House's office. But House is less-than-enthused about the case now. "Who cares? The mom's given up, why shouldn't I?" Plus, if they cure Lue now, the grandpa and his "magic beads" get all the credit. "Kid's better off dead. As soon as she's done appeasing the gods, let's talk."
But the team continues: Chase suggests Kawasaki disease. "Which means he needs a coronary bypass," Adams says. House doesn't think it's Kawasaki -- he thinks it's a patent ductus arteriosus, which Adams called a "billion to one" shot, but which would be treated just by ibuprofen. "You're not going to let us save an eight-year-old because one more person might embrace religion?" Chase asks.
"Well, then, I have decided, for today only, to respect your opinions. We will proceed according to your diagnosis . . . and nothing else," House says, ominously. "That's an order. Good luck. "Taub and Adams are getting consent for the surgery from Lida, surrounded by the sounds of Xang shaking beads, when Lue crashes. Lida doesn't know what to do. "You need to stop this!" Adams says, pointing at Xang. Lida shakes her head. "I'm giving him the ibuprofen," Adams says. "Dinner's almost ready." Dominika finds House laying on his bed, opting for a liquid dinner and a sulk about whether he or religion is killing Lue. She climbs on top of him. "What are you doing?" House asks. "I'm comforting my husband after a hard day," she says, and starts kissing him. They're interrupted by a ringing phone. Dominika sees from the caller ID it's the INS, and she races to pick it up. "This is Mrs. House! Please give good news so my husband and I can go back to sex," she says.
She gets the good news about her application. "It's fantastic." And then she gets the less-good news. "How many notices you send me?" she asks, as House looks down. "OK, I come pick up naturalization certificate. Thank you for calling." She's devastated. "He's gonna be OK," Taub tells Lida and Xang. Lue's vitals are improving, and he's stabilizing. Lida looks at Xang: "It worked!" They don't believe that ibuprofen could have cured such a serious condition. "I know it seems hard to believe, but it's true," Adams says. "And I know this seems hard for you to believe," Lida says. "Honey," she says to Lue, "Grandpa was right. He saved you." "There were two things we thought were impossible. One of them wasn't. That's all we know," Taub says. Dominika packs up her things, crying. House's apartment is back to its sad, old self. She gives him a halfhearted hug before she leaves. "Was I good?" Park teases Chase as they get on the elevator. "Doesn't mean anything," Chase says. "Idea got planted. It was probably inevitable." Park disagrees. "It could mean the obvious: that you want some of this. Or, it could just mean that we like each other. I'm weird, and you're pretty, but we connect. We feel safe. We trust each other." "Maybe," Chase says. Then Park farts in the elevator, smiling. "Just testing my theory." Chase laughs. "Adams defied me. There's one more zealot in the world. And Dominika moved out," House tells Wilson. "She was fun. She was hot. She fixed my blender -- that is not a metaphor. You know any good fake divorce lawyers? I am surprisingly depressed by this."
Wilson hesitates, not sure of how to say what he wants to say. "I have cancer," he tells House, who tries to laugh it off. "You were a little short with me the other day. You do need an excuse; cancer may be overplaying it."
But Wilson is not joking. "Stage 2 thymoma," he says. "I didn't want to tell you until I had it confirmed." House is stunned. "I got the tests back this morning. I have cancer, House."