A cold drizzle pitter-pattered on the bedroom window as House lay in bed,
watching the drops as they smacked the glass
panes. His head lulled to one side
to check the clock on the nightstand; 4:42am stared back at him in bold, red
punctuated by the "alarm on" indicator that hung like a frozen blood
drop in the corner of the clock's face. He didn't
even know why he still
bothered to set the damn thing anymore; he couldn't remember the last time he'd
the night. The pain in his leg usually woke him in the wee hours,
just deep enough into the night that it simply wasn't
worth trying to drift back
into a Vicodin induced sleep. That didn't stop him, of course, from popping one
of his little
white pills before throwing off the blankets and trudging into the
House opened the overhead cabinets to
grab the coffee. He reached for the metal
can but just as he was about to place the first scoop into the filter basket,
mind cleared enough for him to remember what day it was. With a sigh of
disgust, he put the can back in it's place and
went to the fridge. Today of all
days, he deserved to treat himself to the special and expensive gourmet blend he
stashed away. He opened the airtight container, taking a deep breath as the
aroma drifted from the grounds within. He'd
not only make a few cups for now,
but he'd take some in a thermos to the hospital. Maybe it would make the day a
more tolerable. His first day back at the clinic had arrived much too
It had been a month since House had
completed his "hell week". Cuddy had lived
up to her end of the bargain, not once pestering or vainly attempting to guilt
into resuming his clinic duties earlier. She'd pretty much left him alone
for the last four weeks, which had been an extra
bonus. That would all come to a
crashing end later this morning; she'd probably be waiting for him at the door
he arrived, a stack of charts in her hands and a self-satisfied smirk
on her face. House poured a cup of coffee and took
a sip, savoring probably what
would be the most, if not only, pleasuralbe moment this day brought.
Taking the mug,
he limped his way back to the bedroom to start getting ready for
work. He'd placed a shirt and slacks on a chair the night
before. Well, not
exactly "placed"; more like tossed haphazardly towards the chair. If the
articles of clothing happend
to land on the seat, great. If not. who cared? He
was Gregory House the doctor, not Greggio the fashion model. His mother
chewed him out many times as a teenager for wadding up the freshly pressed
clothes she'd given him to put neatly
away in his closet. It wasn't that he
didn't appreciate his mom's efforts to make her son as presentable as possible;
just had better things to do than to hang up clothes that were just going to
get dirty and wrinkled again anyway. Besides,
it was much easier to just toss
them on the bed, or the floor, or wherever the gods of freshly laundered clothes
they should rest for the time being. Now it was a matter of pain
management; it simply hurt too much to drag clothes in
and out of the closet,
much less stand at an ironing board. It was all he could manage just to pick
them up and drop
them off at the cleaners on a weekly basis.
House stripped down to his boxers and, grabbing a clean pair, he headed
bathroom. It wasn't that he was particularly modest; he lived alone, no one to
be modest for, unless there were
some neighbors sneaking a peek from one of the
homes across the street and they were welcome to it. He just didn't want
completely in the buff in case something happened and he had to call for help.
Or worse, have someone find him
sprawled unconcious and naked on the floor. He
hooked his cane onto the towel hanger, finished undressing, and stepped
shower. He tensed as the initial spurt of cold water that proceeded the hot hit
his body which caused a slight
stab of pain to pierce his leg. The hot water
quickly relaxed the muscles as he dipped his head under the spray, wetting
hair. He stood there, his eyes closed, for a few moments then reached for the
shampoo. He quickly soaped up and
rinsed off before the stress of his
unsupported frame began to make his leg throb and ache. He was washed up, dried
and was limping back down the hall to his bedroom in clean boxers within
After getting dressed, he
returned to the kitchen and poured another cup of
coffee. He debated for a moment about whether or not to fix himself some
but decided against it. He'd never been a "breakfast person", which
had also worried his mom to no end. Many a morning
he'd dragged his feet getting
ready for school, cutting his timing just close enough so that he wouldn't be
mom would usually shove a piece of toast in his hand as he headed out
the door but even that would end up uneaten except
by the fortunate birds that
found it discarded along young Gregg's route to school. At least then he needed
intake; it wasn't like he'd be running any marathons now. After
killing a couple of hours on the internet, House pulled
on his jacket, filled
his thermos, put it in his shoulder bag, and headed out the door.
Cameron and Dr. Chase sat at the small table in the kitchenette connected to
Dr. House's office. There were no pressing
cases for them to go over so they
busied themselves reading the paper, Chase, the local news section, Cameron, the
The door opened behind them, and they instinctively dropped their
frivolous activities and reached for a medical folder
in an attempt to look as
if they were doing something constructive. They relaxed, however, when they
realized it was
"Is he here yet?" he asked, glancing around the office.
"Not yet," replied Cameron, picking up her pen
and returning to her crossword.
Their boss' disposition had improved somewhat during his reprieve from clinic
His sentence resumed today, however, and none of them were looking
forward to it. House, although never a "ray of
sunshine", would be in a
particularly bad mood this morning and the young doctors had been trying to
for that inevitability for a few days now. It was like
preparing for the apocolypse: pointless but it gave them something
Foreman poured a cup of coffee and leaned against the counter. He actually hoped
they'd get no new cases for
at least a couple of days. He and House butted heads
under the best of circumstances; the added element of clinic duty
to the mix
after a month's abscence would only make their relationship more combative until
House resigned himself to
this necessary evil Foreman sat down at the table with
his collegues and picked up the sports section of the paper.
to see you guys hard at work." The three doctors looked up, startled to
see House standing in the doorway between his office
and the kitchenette. They
quickly put the newspaper away as he walked over to the cabinet, reached in, and
his red coffee mug. Taking the thermos out of his shoulder bag, House
poured some of his special brew.
said Chase, craning his neck to take in the full aroma.
"You can't have any," snapped House, screwing the lid back onto
"Didn't say I wanted any," Chase replied, going back to his own cup of oridinary
to. You commented on the smell. The next logical progression would
be to ask for a taste. Just as if I said to Foreman
his cologne smells like
crap. I would then ask what it was so I wouldn't waste my hard-earned money
buying it from the
same street vendor he probably got his from." House looked at
Foreman for a few silent seconds. "Well? It's not a rhetorical
you get the stink water from?" Foreman rolled his eyes, shook his head, and
reached for one of the
medical files on the table. He stole a glance at his
watch; it had been less than five minutes since House had walked in
the door and
he'd already sunk his verbal fangs into two of the three younger physcians. Any
hopes of Cameron escaping
attack quickly disappeared.
"Doing the crossword in pen. My aren't we overly confidant of our vocabulary
chose to ignore her boss' insult instead of pointing out that
she did the New York Times Sunday crossword, in pen, successfully
on a weekly
basis. She followed Foreman's lead and picked up a medical folder. Not wanting
to be left out or left open
to anymore of Houses verbal attacks, Chase grabbed
one as well. Satisfied his team was now ready to do some actual work,
started his morning staff meeting.
"OK people, what've we got?" he asked, seating himself in a chair by the dry
board, hoping a new case had come through the hospital doors during his
"Nothing really," replied Cameron.
"We just need to review the case files for
the last week."
"Come on. There has to be something," House pestered. The
three doctors shook
their heads collectively. That meant unless a case came through within the next
hour, House would
be headed downstairs to the clinic much sooner than he had
wanted. How inconvient for him that the citizens of the greater
decided to stay annoyingly healthy enough to not need his expertise but not
healthy enough to stay out of
As the morning meeting progressed, House sat, sullen, only half listening as
each of his staff rattled off
the various diagnoses, treatments, and prognoses
of the few patients they had encountered in the last week. He looked at
clock; they weren't eating up enough time. Why couldn't they talk slower? He
began to wish he'd hired someone with
a deep, slow, southern drawl; just getting
through the patients name would've taken twice as long as the rest of the
As Chase closed the last file, House sighed heavily and pushed himself
up from the chair.
"Well because of your unprecedented
efficiency, I guess I'll be heading down to
the clinic about an hour before I wanted to. Oh joy."
"Sorry for doing our
job so well," said Foreman. They just couldn't win with
this man. "For all the attention you were paying us, you should've
there in the first place."
"And miss seeing your bright, happy faces first thing in the morning? Never!
the memory of your shining contenance that will get me through my stay in
the dungeon. Along with these, of course." House
pulled out his Vicodin, popped
one in his mouth, and washed it down with the now cold gourmet coffee in his
had a month off. Besides, compared to what we usually have to handle,
the clinic would be a breeze." Foreman immediately
regretted his last statement
as soon as he saw the expression on House's face. Not anger, but a look that
said he was
processing some sort of devious thought, more than likely aimed at
Foreman and his young friends.
"So you think the
clinic is a breeze?" House's blue eyes fixed Foreman with an
uncomfortable stare, then moved to Cameron and Chase, who
sat, silent, not sure
how or why they were getting wrapped up in this. They hadn't said anything but
was they're mistake. House had taken their silence for agreement
with Foreman's opinion so their punishment would be equal
"Fine. Since there are no new cases, you guys get to work with me in the clinic
today. An hour a piece. So who
wants to go first?" Before anyone could answer or
protest, House made the choice for them. "Foreman, how good of you to
Let's see, it'll be about 9:30 by the time we get down there and check in so
Cameron, Chase you have until
about 10:25 to decide who goes next. Flip a coin,
play rock, paper, scissors--just make sure one of you is in the clinic
Let's go Foreman. We have patients to see."
House and Foreman checking in."
The nurse at the clinic intake desk looked up, startled. Whether it was by the
of House or Foreman was hard to tell. She'd noticed that House had
been gone for a few weeks and had assumed he was on
vacation. Quite frankly, it
had been a vacation for her and the other nurses as well. Doctors in general
could be hard
to deal with on a daily basis but House had the rest of them beat.
Everyone knew he hated working in the clinic; they knew
because he told them
everytime he walked through the door and announced his arrival to whoever the
poor soul was working
the desk. He'd then take a folder, grumble something under
his breath, and head for the assigned exam room. Now he had
a partner, who
looked equally unhappy to be there.
"Good morning. Welcome back, Dr.House," the nurse said, handing him
House glanced at the information and a smile curled the corner of his lips.
"Here you go Foreman. It's all
Foreman took the folder, a mixture of frustration and confusion on his face,
which House immediately noticed.
This was going to be more fun than he thought.
"Don't worry. I'm not going to leave you," House said with mock comfort
voice. "I'll be there in a supervisory capacity."
Foreman looked at the chart. "I think I can handle an earache,"
he smirked. If
House was trying to convince him clinic duty was difficult, he wasn't
"We'll see," replied
House as they made their way towards exam room 2. They
entered to find a young woman, in her early twenties, sitting on
the exam table,
talking on her cell phone.
"Did you see what Karen was wearing last night? Ugh! It was so last year!"
young woman said to the person on the other end. She hadn't acknowledged the
entrance of the two doctors so Foreman
"Good morning Miss McKenzie. I'm Dr. Foreman and this is Dr. House. Can you tell
woman held up a finger, stopping Foreman in mid-sentence as she
carried on her conversation. "I know! And that guy with
Lindsay--he was so hot!
What was he doing with her!"
House took a seat across the room, pulled out a celeb magazine
from his bag, and
pretended to read it. He didn't want to miss a moment of Foreman's discomfort
but didn't want the
young doctor to realize he was being observed.
"Miss McKenzie, I need to ask you some questions. Could you please hang
The young woman looked at Foreman like he'd asked her to burn her Prada purse.
She paused momentarily
then continued dishing the dirt with her friend. "Guess
what I heard about Kyle! You know that girl he was seeing, the
one he met over
the internet? Yeah, the one that SAID her dad was a CEO of some
telecommunications company. Well, I
Foreman looked over at House, seemingly engrossed in the latest celebrity
gossip. He cleared his throat
to get the older doctor's attention. House glanced
over the top of his reading material and noticed the frustrated look
Foreman's face. He listened for a moment to the young woman's inane chatter and
thought about stepping in, not to
help Foreman but to shut her up. He enjoyed
watching Foreman's helplessness at the situation, however, and simply mouthed,
to the increasingly annoyed man. What happened next was inevitable
and gave House some great entertainment Foreman reached
out and took the phone
from the young woman.
"She'll call you back," he told the person on the other end before disconnecting
The young woman sat stunned, her mouth open in mid-sentence.
"Miss McKenzie, in order for me to treat you, I need to be
able to talk to you
and you need to pay attention to me. Now, this earache, when..."
"Do...do you know who I am?" the
young woman sputtered angrily. A look of
annoyed bewilderment came over Foreman's face. "You're the whiney little bitch
ruining my morning," he thought.
"I'm Annette McKenzie. My dad's Roger Mckenzie," she stopped for a moment to let
information sink in. Suddenly, realization hit Foreman; in his minds eye,
he saw the large, raised, silver letters above
the double doors on the third
floor: McKenzie Wing. Noticing he'd made the connection between her name and
to the hospital, Annette continued her tyraid. "When I tell my
dad how rude you were to me, you'll be lucky to have a job
cleaning bed pans!"
She hopped off the exam table, grabbed her purse, and started for the door.
"Excuse me, Annette,"
House called as she reached the door. The young woman
turned around; she looked surprised to see another person in the
might want to try turning the volume down on your cell phone and alternating
which ear you put it up to when
you talk on it. I think you'll find that your
ear pain will disipate considerably." Annette flipped open the cell phone's
cover and giving Foreman a parting glare, left the room.
Foreman looked over at House, who had gone back to his
reading material. "You
knew who she was, didn't you?"
"Why didn't you say anything?'
"And spoil your fun!
Actually, I guess it would have been my fun that would've
Foreman shook his head, exasperated. "What
do we do now?"
"Nothing, until Cuddy calls us after Annette calls daddy. I'd say you have about
10 minutes to practice
your bed pan cleaning skills."
House sat across from Cuddy's desk. He'd been mistaken about how long it would
take her to call
him and Foreman into her office. Within 5 minutes after Annette
left in a huff, their beepers were going off.
had already given Foreman a lecture on treating patients with respect and
expressed her disappointment that he didn't recognize
this. After securing a
promise of a written apology to Annette, Foreman was dismissed; he gave House an
as he left. Now House settled in for his ass chewing, casually
tilting his cane back and forth.
"You want to explain
to me why Foreman was treating Miss McKenzie instead of
"I decided the he, along with Cameron and Chase, should
get some clinic
"You decided to get out of clinic duty for one more day."
"Hey, you're the one whose
always saying that working in that place makes us
better doctors. Besides, I was there. I was supervising."
Is that what you call sitting on your ass reading the newspaper?"
Cuddy was not buying what House was trying to sell.
of all, it was a magazine, not a newspaper. Second, if something happened
that Foreman couldn't handle, I would've stepped
in. He's supposed to be a
brilliant neurologist. I didn't think a simple earache was over his head."
"You know as well
as I do there's more to being a doctor than just treatment.
Just because you choose to ignore this fact, doesn't mean you
that attitude in your staff." Cuddy knew all this was going in one ear and out
the other. She had this
same basic discussion with House at least once a week in
hopes something would eventually click. Nothing was clicking with
"What was Foreman supposed to do? Pull up a chair and wait until Annette had
finished her idiotic conversation
with her friend? Your precious politeness
works both ways. If she wastes our time because she's too stupid to realize
on a cell phone 24/7 might cause some ear problems, the least she could
do is hang the damn thing up for ten minutes. Oh,
I forgot! If you give enough
money to this place, common courtesy doesn't apply to you!" House could tell his
had hit a nerve by the way Cuddy clenched her jaw and
straightened in her seat.
"That's not fair," she protested.
it is! If she'd been some poor factory worker whose hearing was damaged
from being in a noisy work environment 8 plus hours
a day, we wouldn't be having
this conversation. Probably because she wouldn't be able to afford a cell phone,
get my point." House's beeper went off and he checked the message.
Perfect timing. "Are we done here? Chase is on his way
down to meet me in the
"For now," Cuddy replied, somehow knowing he'd be back in her office before the
House made his way to the clinic. In the waiting room, a young man sat alone,
the chairs around him vacated,
their former occupants standing as far away as
possible. House smiled. He'd found Chase's patient.
I'm Dr. Chase. I'm here to meet Dr. House."
The nurse's eyes widened as she looked at the handsome young doctor standing
front of her. She wouldn't mind seeing him around on a regular basis. "He's in
exam room 1," she answered, smiling,
hoping there was nothing stuck in her
"Thanks," Chase smiled back and headed towards the room. He found House
outside, GameBoy in hand. "What are you doing out here?"
House paused his game and looked up at the innocent,
trusting face in front of
him. It would be a long time before he saw that face again. "You'll see. Or
should I say,
smell." He opened the door and an odor wafted out. Maybe "wafted"
isn't the right word; it charged out and smacked the
face of the unfortunate
soul who stood in its way. Chase took a step back and looked at House. He
glistening underneath the other man's nose and caught the
scent of eucalyptus. House had put Vicks vapor rub around his
nostrils to mask
the pungent smell.
"You got anymore of that stuff," Chase asked, pointing at House's nose.
but you can't have any. Your the attending physician. All your senses have
to be sharp."
Chase took a final, deep breath
of fresh air and stepped into the room; House
followed and settled in a corner and resumed his game.
The young man who
sat on the exam table looked homeless; his body and clothes
were covered with filth. Chase felt a surge of pity for him;
he didn't look much
younger than himself and he wondered how the young man came to be in this
Chase. What seems to be the problem?"
"It's my feet," the young man answered. Chase looked down and noticed this
man wore a pair of $300 athletic shoes, practically brand new. He
picked up the chart and looked at the information:
Jacob Conrad, age 19, student
at Princeton University. What the hell was going on?
"Jacob, there's no delicate way to
put this so I'm just going to ask: How long
has it been since you've bathed and changed your clothes?"
"Ten days. I'm
pledging a fraternity and as part of the initiation, I can't
shower or change clothes for two weeks. I was going to come
in after I was done,
but my feet are really messed up."
Chase sat speechless, trying to figure out why anyone would
do this to
themselves; he was also putting off the inevitable. "Ok," he finally said,
"let's get your shoes off."
bent down and removed his footwear. The stench in the room magnified
tenfold. Chase instinctively covered his nose with
his hand, trying to block the
"Oh God!" came an exclamation from the far side of the room. House almost gave
the urge to get out of the room as fast as his cane could carry him but his
desire to see Chase suffer thru this overpowered
his urge to find the nearest
bathroom and vomit. He pulled out the jar of Vicks, nearly dropping both his
Vicodin on the floor, and globbed some more around his nose.
Jacob's socks were literally encrusted on his feet. There
was no way he'd be
able to pull them off if he had any open sores. Chase, his hand still over his
nose, grabbed a pair
of medical scissors from a drawer. He wouldn't be able to
do this with one hand so he also grabbed a surgical mask and
put it on while
holding his breath. After cutting the socks off, Chase saw, unsurprisingly, that
Jacob had a fungal
infection caused by his recent unhygenic habits.
"Well, the first thing you need to do is get a shower," said Chase, choking
every other word.
"But I can't! I might not get into the frat if I do," protested Jacob, oblivious
to the damage he'd
done to his body.
"Oh, you wouldn't want that," said House, his voice a mixture of sarcasm and
surpressed gag reflex.
"Those sweatshirts with the Greek letters on them are so
much cooler than having feet."
Chase turned the conversation
back to treatment. The sooner he could get this
done, the sooner he could get out of there and to the men's room. "He's
Jacob. If we don't take care of this now, you could develop gangreen and lose
one or both of your feet. Besides,
hazing is illegal."
"It's not hazing. Hazing is when you force people to do stuff. I did this
voluntarily." It was obvious
Jacob had rehearsed this definition in case the
subject ever came up.
"Then you're even dumber than I thought," said
House, getting up and heading for
the door. His olfactories and his stomach had taken all they could. "I'll have
nurse get some scrubs and wheel you to the shower room. Once you're cleaned
up, we'll bandage your feet and I'll write
a note to your frat brothers,
excusing you from anymore moronic behavior. Chase, stay here until I get back."
left and managed to get out "Scrubs...wheelchair...shower...room 1" as he
hurried past the admitting desk towards the men's
"Is Dr. Chase ok?" House turned from the admitting desk
and saw Wilson standing
beside him. "I just came out of the bathroom and he's in there, puking his guts
leaned towards his friend and took in a couple of sniffs. "Do you
have a cold? I smell Vicks."
to Wilson to follow him as they headed to exam room 1, it's door
tightly closed. He waited until his friend was standing
directly in front of the
doorway, took a deep breath, held it, and swung open the door.
"Ahh! Jesus! What the hell was
in there? A trailer full of pigs?" Wilson backed
away, his eyes watering from the stench.
"Worse. A frat pledge," said
House. "Chase and I were treating him."
"Chase? What was he doing in there? And why did this guy need two doctors?"
was the primary care physician. I just observed." House returned to the
admitting desk; he leaned against it, trying to
take some of the weight off his
"In other words, a month off wasn't enough. Now you've got your staff doing your
work for you." Wilson wasn't surprised at this turn of events; he was only
surprised House hadn't thought of it sooner.
I pointed out to Cuddy earlier, I thought it would be beneficial for them to
get some hours down here. Don't want them
to forget the basics of patient care."
"So Cuddy knows about this?"
"And she doesn't have a problem with it?"
course she has a problem with it. She has a problem with everything I do.
Why should that stop me? Besides, it's been a
learning experience for Foreman
and Chase." A smug grin creeped across House's face at the memory of the torment
had been infflicted on the young doctors. Although the brainless frat kid
had almost been as torturous on him as Chase,
he'd decided after vomiting almost
everything he'd ever ingested that it had been worth it.
"Really? And what exactly
have they learned?" Wilson asked, knowing the passing
of knowledge had not been House's primary goal.
"Don't screw with
me just before clinic duty," he replied. "Now if you'll excuse
me, Cameron will be here in about ten minutes and I'm still
working on my lesson
"Good luck. I don't think you could get her pissed at you or a patient, no
you manage to dredge up."
House picked up a chart; he glanced around the waiting room, looking for the
person who matched
the description on the admission form. He spotted her
quickly: a mom with three kids. Three cranky, tired, bored kids.
"Mrs. Carmichael?" Cameron called into the crowded waiting room. A woman stood
up and approached, three small children
"Yes, that's me," she said, the weariness evident in her voice. She carried one
child, a girl about two-years-old,
and another girl and a boy, seven and four
respectively, dragged their feet as they followed the doctor and their mother
exam room 2.
"I'm Dr. Cameron but you can call me Allison. What seems to be the problem?"
Mrs. Carmicheal cast
a leary glance at the grown man sitting in the corner
playing GameBoy, a cane hooked to the back of his chair. She worried
doctor had accidently put her in a room with another patient. "That's Dr.
House," said Cameron, noticing the
woman's concern. "He'll be observing, if
that's alright with you."
"Oh, that's fine," Mrs. Carmichael replied, her confidence
in the young woman
restored although she still wasn't sure about this Dr. House fellow. He didn't
even look up from
his video game when he was introduced. She sat her youngest on
the exam table then hopped up beside her. Her two oldest,
zeroed in on the
prescence of a video game, eyed House, sizing him up as a potential playmate.
"I've had a cold and
sore throat for about a week and I can't seem to shake it.
Now Sara seems to be coming down with it so I figured I'd just
come in, and get
us both checked out."
"I didn't realize the clinic was running a two-for-one special," the two
who'd started their approach to get a better look at the gaming action
jumped slightly at the sound of the man's voice.
Somehow, they didn't expect it
to be as deep, or as gruff. "Was there a coupon in the paper?"
Mrs. Carmicheal opened
her mouth to respond, unsure if House's tone was
sarcastic or sincere. Cameron, noticing the discomfort, reassured her,
fine. It's no problem checking you both out." She looked at the chart and
noticed there was only paperwork for
the mother. "I'll need you to fill out a
patient form for Sara. Are her medical records at this hospital?"
at Dr. Harold Mason's office on the corner of sixth and Sycamore.
He's her pediatrician. He's on vacation--that's why I
didn't go there."
"He also doesn't see patients older than 18. Unless you started having kids in
I'd say you're past the age criteria." Now that was
definitely sarcastic, thought Mrs. Carmicheal as she shot House a disapproving
OK. I'll just have his office fax over her records. Let me get that
medical form for you. Dr. House, could I speak to you
"Uh oh. Looks like I'm in trouble," said House. He paused the GameBoy and, to
the dismay of the older Carmicheal
children, stuck it in the pocket of his
disheaveled jacket as he followed Cameron out of the exam room.
"Would it kill
you not to have a pissy attitude for five minutes?" she asked as
she made her way to the admitting desk.
My system would be so shocked, I'm not sure my poor old heart could
take it. Question is, why don't you have a pissy attitude,
you're being taken advantage of."
Cameron turned her attention to the nurse sitting at the desk. "Could
I get a
blank patient form. And could you contact pediatrician Dr. Harold Mason. His
office is located at sixth and
Sycamore; tell them I need them to fax me the
records of Sara Carmicheal." She turned back to House, who leaned against
wall behind him. "You think I'm being take advantage of because I actually like
being with patients?"
Mom in there has you doing double the work for half the price."
"If she and Sara have the same medical issue, what's the
big deal? I'll check
them over, write them a couple of scripts, and they'll be on their way."
"Have you asked yourself
why she didn't go ahead and fill out two patient forms
while she was waiting for an hour out here?"
"Maybe because she
has three kids, she's sick, she's exhausted, and she just
forgot," said Cameron.
Poor girl, thought House. She's always
so willing to see only the best in
people. That had been evident from day one; she never failed to rise to his
when things got messy, no matter how beligerant he became or who stood
against him. Although this quality had helped him,
it did not help her. She
needed to learn that not all people had pure motives, whether it was the family
of a deathly
ill patient or a mother deftly bypassing clinic protocols.
"You don't think it might have been because she knew if she
filled out two forms
she'd have to see two doctors or that she'd be advised to take her daughter to
From Cameron's reaction, House could tell that this
possibility had, indeed, never crossed her mind.
"If that is the
reason, which I don't think it is, can you blame her? She has
three small children. The less she has to drag them from
place to place, the
better. Besides, Dr. Mason isn't in his office, remember? He's on vacation."
"You believe that?"
House asked. "I bet if you called his office, he'd be there,
treating other snot-nosed kids. And I would also bet this
isn't the first time
she's done this."
"And you base this on?" Cameron asked, still not convinced of House's arguement.
fact that she gave you Dr. Mason's first name and address instead of a
phone number. She knew if you called, you'd find
out she's lying."
"That's right. I forgot. 'Everybody lies' according to your twisted view of the
world." Cameron had
grown tired of this mantra and decided this would be a
chance to prove him wrong. "Tell you what. If she's lying, I'll
do your laundry
for a week."
"Really?" Cameron's boldness in throwing down the gauntlet suprised House He
couldn't pass up the opportunity to skip the cleaners for a week.
"And what do I get if I win?" asked Cameron.
applicable. I don't make losing bets." House turned to the nurse, who'd
been listening to all this in a not so discreet
manner. " Call Dr. Mason's
office and have him beep Dr. Cameron ASAP." House headed back to the exam room
and took up
his seat in the corner, ready to resume his battle against the alien
overlords of the GameBoy universe.
"Here you go,"
said Cameron, handing Mrs. Carmichael the medical form. "Why
don't I go ahead and take a look at Sara while you fill that
The two older children, bored by all the grown-up stuff going on around them,
turned their attention again towards
House. The boy edged his way over, close
enough to see the action on the tiny screen.
After a few moments of working
up his courage, he tenatively spoke up. "Cool!
Can I play?"
"Sure, why not?" House said, not sure what sparked this
sudden onset of
"Absolutely not, Caleb!" the boy's hand stopped in mid-reach as his mother
to chastise, more for House's benefit than her son's. "Those games are
violent! It's unhealthy for a child your age."
the jelly doughnuts he had for breakfast are way up there in the
nutritional hierarchy," House responded, his eyes drawing
attention to the
mixture of raspberry jam and powedered sugar on the boy's shirt. He knew
by putting the game in his pocket would help both the mom
and Cameron, which is exactly why he went right back to playing.
polite knock on the door followed by a nurse coming in with some papers
momentarily distracted the increasingly ansy children.
are those records, Dr. Cameron," she said, handing her the papers. Cameron
quickly looked them over. "Well, it looks like
Sara just has a cold. I'll give
you a couple of prescriptions to help with the symptoms. However, according to
records, she is overdue for her measles vaccination."
"Sara's getting a shot! Sara's getting a shot," Caleb piped up in
voice. His sister quickly joined in. If they couldn't play video games,
tormenting their youngest sibling
was equally entertaining.
At the sound of the word "shot," Sara let out a wail that pierced Cameron's
ears. Even House's
spine stiffened as the siren-like cry filled the small room.
"Caleb! Michelle! Stop it!" their mother pleaded.
no, no, Sara. You're not going to get a shot," comforted Cameron. Sara
stopped crying momentarily, searching the doctor's
kind face to see if she was
telling the truth. She immediately decided she wasn't, and resumed her wailing.
your lying," said House. "Even a two-year-old can tell when you're
not being truthful. You know as well as I do hospital
policy is to update
childhood immunizations if necessary."
"She's only a couple of months overdue," said Cameron. "She's
in no danger..."
"Yes, but Mrs. Carmicheal is a busy mom. Who knows when she'll get to Dr.
Mason's office to get that
vaccination updated, right?" He looked over at the
mom, who was torn between not wanting to upset her daughter but wanting
what was best for her health.
"If she's overdue, I guess we better go ahead and get the booster today." she
said. Cameron gave House her best dirty look, which wasn't very good, he
noticed, as she prepared the syringe.
Sara, just hold still and it'll all be over in a few seconds." Cameron
quickly swabbed down a spot on the girl's arm and
administered the shot amid the
child's continued screams. Cameron reached into her lab coat's pocket and pulled
a sucker. "Here you go sweetheart. All done." Mrs. Carmicheal opened her
mouth as if to protest but reconsidered when she
realized that Sara was less
likely to keep screaming with the candy in her mouth. She removed the wrapper
for her daughter
and sighed with relief as the sucker entered the child's mouth
and the high-pitched crying ceased
"Now lets check you
out," Cameron said with a hint of exhaustion creeping into
her voice. She took the stethoscope and leaned in to listen
to Mrs. Carmicheal's
lungs. Absorbed in her task, Cameron didn't feel the slight tugging on her hair
at first. Suddenly,
her head jerked to one side and she turned just in time to
see Sara's sticky little hands pull away, the sucker now gone.
put her hand to the side of her head and felt the hard, wet, paper handle, then
the candy it was attached
to, now entwined in her long, dark locks. "Oh please
don't let House have seen this," she prayed silently. One glance in
direction told her those prayers were unanswered; a grin creased his face as he
tried to contain the laughter
desperately begging to burst forth. "This couldn't
get any more humiliating," she thought. Just then, her beeper went off.
pulled it from her pocket to check the message; "damn it," she thought as she
"Unscented detergent and
softener. And go easy on the starch when you press the
shirts," House instructed as he left, leaving a visibly pissed off
Cameron and a
bewildered Mrs. Carmicheal in his wake.
Cameron cried out, grabbing the side of her head.
"Sorry," said Chase. With a pair of tweezers, he gently pulled strands
hair away from the entangled mass surrounding the sucker.
"You'll never get that out. You might as well decide
on a short hairstyle and
make an emergency appointment with your hairdresser," said Foreman, watching all
this as he
relaxed at the kitchenette table.
"I am NOT getting my hair cut!" protested Cameron. "Do you know how long it took
to grow it out? It's bad enough that I have to wash House's laundry for a
"What the hell possessed you to make
that bet?" asked Chase, pulling another
"I thought I was right! She's there with her three kids; I didn't
lie to our faces with them standing right there! What kind of example is she
trying to set, anyway? Ow!"
She looked over and saw a smirk on Foreman's face.
"You find my pain amusing?"
"No. I find the thought of you scrubbing
House's undies amusing," he said
Cameron felt her face flushing with anger. "Don't you have a letter of apology
Chase piped in. "Make sure you put it in your best ass-kissing tone.
Don't want Miss McKenzie running to daddy again."
the way you ran to the bathroom, puking your guts out like a first year
med student," Foreman shot back.
"Hey! You weren't
in there! Even House lost it!" Chase said defensively.
"Stop it!" Cameron jumped in before the verbal arrows could continue
"Look at what he's got us doing. Sniping at each other like schoolchildren."
Chase and Foreman relaxed, letting
the tension in the room evaporate. "Look. We
all had some bad experiences today but it's over. House got called to Cuddy's
just as I was leaving. She's probably chewing him out right now and
forbidding him from putting us down there again."
the contrary." House stood in the doorway, his approach as silent as the one
that took his staff off-guard that morning.
Cameron instictively turned her head
in the direction of his voice and immediately regretted the action as pain shot
again through her scalp. "You might want to try some baby oil to loosen
that up," House said as he made is way to one of
the chairs. He settled down,
propping his leg up on the table, preparing to savor the coming moment. "Dr.
it would be an excellent idea for you guys to start pulling clinic
duty." He smiled as the unpleasantly surprised look
developed on his staff's
"You're joking," said Chase.
"Nope. Although I find this whole turn of events hilarious,
Dr. Cuddy is dead
serious. Here are your schedules." House dropped three sheets of paper on the
table, one for each
of the young doctors. Still not sure if this was their boss'
idea of a cruel joke, they picked up the papers, realizing
he was telling the
truth when they saw Cuddy's signature at the bottom of each page.
"Don't you want to know why?" asked
House. "Oh, please say 'yes'" He was
practically coming out of his seat in anticipation of the explanation. The three
stunned doctors stood silent so House continued before they could protest.
"Dr. Cuddy is concerned about how you each handled
yourself. Foreman, she thinks
you need to work on your doctor/patient relationship skills."
"Oh come on! We'd still
be down there listening to that girl jabbering on her
cell phone if I hadn't put a stop to it!" Foreman couldn't believe
he was being
accused of rudeness by House of all people.
"Cuddy seems to think you could have handled the situation
And Chase, it seems Cuddy thinks the sight of one of the hospital's doctors bent
isn't exactly a confidence booster for patients so she thinks you
need more experience handling the more 'unpleasant' aspects
of patient care.
Expect quite a few nasty conditions to be sent your way."
"What! You got sick too!" Chase became nauseaus
at the thought of anything more
disgusting than the frat pledge.
"True. But I explained my pukefest as a result of some
bad cafeteria food
Besides, Cuddy knows she's already inflicted the worse punishment by making me
work in the clinic,
so really, she has no where to go with me." House looked
over at Cameron, one section of her hair a tangled mess with a
poking out of it. "As for you, Cuddy feels you need to learn how to read people
better. Mrs. Carmicheal
should've taken her daughter to the kid's pediatrician
since she didn't have a life-threatening condition. Instead, she
was able to con
the nice lady doctor into treating two people, causing patients who were really
sick to have to wait
"I'm sorry I'm not an expert like you," said Cameron, which, in a way, she
"You don't have to be.
A simple call to Dr. Mason's office would've saved you
not only a bit of time but also your hair. Not to mention doing
a few extra
loads of laundry this week. Instead, you took one look at this woman and
immediately trusted her because
she had her three tykes in tow. Now, if you'll
excuse me, I'm meeting Wilson for lunch." House pushed himself up from the
to leave. He paused momentarily at the doorway to look at the three doctors,
still looking like deer caught in
the headlights. His mouth widened into a
smile, bigger than they had seen in quite some time. "Oh, I can't wait to tell
about this!" With that, he limped down the hallway towards the elevators,
leaving his staff to ponder their new predicament.
This day had turned out to be
a pretty good one after all.