Categories > TV > House6 Reviews
Just how did Chase manage to make it where no other fellow had gone before.
According to IMDB, Jesse Spencer really does play the violin, and the additional Sherlock Holmes reference was too darn hard to pass up.
Massive thanks to Musamea for the beta. Feedback is loved as much as chocolate (and less caloric). Remember to feed your authors.
Playing for Position
You arrive early for your first day of work at Princeton-Plainsboro only to encounter an empty office and a note taped to the door. "A bunch of trees gave their lives so you'd get a parking space. Go directly to Human Resources, do not pass go, forget about the $200." You stare at the note for a moment, then wander off in search of HR, where you spend most of the day filling out forms (one clerk bemoaning the fact you aren't a U.S. citizen and therefore require even more paperwork). You catch only a glimpse of your boss before the day ends. You eventually discover that isn't unusual.
You find the dust-covered chess set on the back of a shelf you organized merely to give yourself something to do. You've been at Princeton-Plainsboro for 17 days and have read every medical journal in the office. Twice. House is zoned out in his office watching yet another pointless soap opera. You don't interrupt; you've had time to get acquainted with his habits and know better than to get between an addict and his fix. You tried it with your mother when you'd run out of other options. You always failed.
The shiny new board and the pieces are unscratched but dusty. You think of the exquisite antique set that sits under glass in your own apartment-your great grandfather's and one of the few items you've brought to New Jersey from home. No dust will ever touch it, but the pieces have a few nicks there, a scratch here. You remember the day you won it; the day you beat your father using its very pieces. The day you swore you saw just a hint of pride in the bastard's eyes. But he didn't say a word, just shook your hand and walked away from the table. Four months later he walked away from you. Sometimes you see it as a symbol of accomplishment, but more often it's an empty victory in a string of long defeats.
You idly toy with a knight. It's been a very long time since you've played. But you're bored, and you've already finished the N.Y. Times crossword, so the set comes off the shelf. You've barely had time to set up the pieces and make a few moves-you relish the challenge of playing both sides-when you're paged to Intensive Care. The dean of medicine, thrilled to have a rare intensivist on staff, insisted that you be held as an on-call reserve to the ICU when you were hired. You welcome the distraction and head out. You can always clean up the pieces later. You're good at that.
You get into the office and notice the chessboard's still on the table in the diagnostic lounge. An afternoon page became a late-night vigil, and you were too tired to tidy up when you left to catch a few hours of sleep at your apartment. But you persevered, your patient is breathing easier, and the chess set is still there. House is nowhere to be found; no doubt hiding from Cuddy to avoid clinic duty. It took you only 4 days to catch on to your boss's avoidance techniques. You've used many of them yourself.
You're about to wipe off the pieces and restore the set to its location on the shelf, but something strikes you and you sit down instead to ponder the board. It takes you only a minute to discover black's bishop has been moved since you last saw the game, threatening white's rook. Your rook. You stare for a moment at House's empty office. You wonder if this is one of those mind games you've heard so much about. Curious, you push a pawn forward, then head off to rounds in the ICU.
You spend your morning as you have every previous morning at the hospital-making your own amusements, covering the ICU, and doing clinic duty. You dutifully pass on edicts from Dr. Cuddy to your boss and House dutifully ignores them-and you. You heard all the rumors at how adept he is at making people miserable before you interviewed. You suppose a normal person would be frustrated and dispirited at this point (you've already lasted longer than some of House's previous fellows), but you're used to living in misery and this doesn't even come close. It's a relief. House needs to work on his cold shoulder treatment before you'll become nostalgic.
You arrive back from your morning rounds to discover your king tipped on its side. You scrutinize the board. You weren't in check, not even close to it. But you aren't stupid enough to protest just for the sake of argument. You know how futile that is too. It takes you 2 hours to discover that your previous move led to an inevitable downfall. You are upset with yourself for having missed it, but awed by the brilliance of the trap you fell into. You can appreciate that kind of artistry. It's why you're here.
You begin to pack up the set when something makes you stop. You've faced defeat before, but have only truly succumbed to it twice. And you've sworn never to allow that again. It's yet another reason you're here. After all, you could have walked away after you found out about the bloody phone call He made to House. There are days you wonder if he made it because he loves you or he hates you; you tell yourself every day that you don't care either way. Some days you actually believe that, some days you know better.
It takes only a few minutes to reset the pieces.
Pawn to King 4.
"How much is it up to?"
"$500. There's no way it'll last. I'm probably going to close it out to bets tomorrow."
You were called down to the ER to admit a patient to the ICU and are waiting for the nurses to finish with the paperwork. You are often bemused at how much gambling goes on inside the hospital. You reckon the resident bookie, the ER nurse currently gossiping in front of you, makes quite a penny just handling the local action. You wonder what the poll of choice is this time. Dr. Wilson's latest marriage, you muse. You got the scuttlebutt on the oncology chief's rep regarding wives and women in less than 2 weeks on the job. You like Wilson but have a hard time understanding his relationship with House. Sometimes it reminds you a lot of your parents' marriage, and that's something you try hard not to think about anymore.
"And what is the subject of the latest pool?" you inquire of the nurses with the smile that has charmed many a reluctant patient to pony up embarrassing information. You are always polite to the nurses. House has nothing on them in the ability to make a doctor's life hell. They smile back.
"How long Dr. House's latest sacrificial lamb will last."
Strangely, you feel a twinge of anxiety about that, though you don't understand why.
"Ah," you finally utter, your smile never leaving your face. "I hear he eats them alive for breakfast."
"And lunch and dinner," Nurse Taylor, the bookie, says with a nod as she hands you your patient's admit forms.
"Know the new guy?" you ask casually.
"Nope. Not that it matters. The longest one in the last 5 years only made it 9 weeks before he quit."
You wonder if it's cheating to bet on yourself, but decide that you don't care. You flash the bookie an even brighter smile. "Mind if I get in on the action?"
She is happy to take your money when you lay $100 on 4 months. You will be happy to take hers.
You arrive in the office to a tipped king. The fifth time in a month. But in the past two weeks you've evaded numerous traps, executed one or two of your own (one, almost successful), and endured more than enough verbal assaults on your competence, ancestry, hair, sexual orientation, and accent to launch several lawsuits if you were a happy-to-sue-you American. The barrage has left you more amused than anything, and you've taken to returning some of the verbal jousts. You learned long ago that someone actually has to give a damn to work up enough energy to launch such an onslaught. Your father taught you that in spades. You prefer chess.
You grab a cup of coffee, then reset the pieces. House has you collating patient data for a journal article he's writing on vasculitis, but he won't be in for at least an hour and there's a variation on the Ruy Lopez that you want to try.
"You asked the patient? Does the patient have a medical degree that isn't on his chart? No. Last I looked that would be you, or do they let just anybody practice medicine in England? Of course they do, your best doctors are either famous for going bi-polar or talking to animals."
You tune out the rant and listen to the Beethoven that's blasting in the background. Your mother loved Beethoven, liked it when you played it for her. Passionate, temperamental, insightful, brilliant, and tortured. You prefer to take refuge in Bach. You don't bother responding to the tantrum-you've learned to keep track of the highs and lows, and he's leaning hard on his cane and riding a Vicodin downdraft.
"Go scan his head, on the assumption he may actually have something in it," he orders, finally getting to the point. You escape and leave House to brood.
Bishop to King's Knight 3. Black attacks; you move your knight and evade.
You have a patient. A real admit to the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and not a referred consult. Dr. Cuddy nearly dies of shock. Dr. Wilson looks relieved. You've had to call four terminals in the last two weeks of duty in the ICU and are thankful to work on a problem you might actually be able to fix. You hate how good you've gotten at breaking bad news to hopeful faces. You were once one of them.
House is flying higher than any jet and it has nothing to with the Vicodin. You play Plato to his Socrates at the whiteboard he's installed in the diagnostic lounge for more than an hour. You narrow down the possible suspects to a few manageable candidates and he sends you off to run tests while he hits his TV to think. He makes no mention of the chess set on the end of the table and neither do you.
Black's attacks in this game have been relentless, but strangely pointless until now. You arrive back with lab results and discover your bishop in serious trouble. If you are perplexed at the turn of events, you don't show it, opting to trade the piece for position before walking into House's office to report in. He's watching a soap, but you risk it anyway. The patient's labs are nothing short of bizarre, and you've been here long enough to know what offerings will stem the tide of an angry boss.
You commit your first felony on your 3-month anniversary...or maybe it's a misdemeanor--the U.S. legal system is strange enough that you aren't sure. House gave you the key to the patient's apartment, but you have a strong suspicion that the patient has no idea it's in your hand. House made sure to ask if you'd seen enough movies to know the whole "reading your rights thing" down pat before you left. You feel incredibly uncomfortable invading someone's privacy like this; you feel more uncomfortable at the thought of disappointing House. You wander through strange rooms and rifle drawers, and think of Australia for the first time in a long while.
Your pillaging is not in vain. You discover enough medications to stock a pharmacy in Mr. Lindberg's bathroom. It's a veritable cornucopia of possibilities for drug interactions. You are pleased, and you think House will be, too. You get a monologue on the evils of scrip-happy doctors before you're dispatched back to the lab to run more tests.
The response to your sacrifice the day before is not what you expect. A rather benign move by black offers you the run of the board. This is different. You sense a trap, but cannot find it. You find that unsettling. It is a long time before you cautiously push a pawn. You will be patient. You can afford it.
Your patient, the poster child against self-medication, goes home and House goes back into a funk. You're in a funk too, when you stroll past the rheumatology bulletin board and spot the notice for the scleroderma conference going on in Manhattan.
Black continues to move almost listlessly; you become a tad reckless. It comes back to bite you in the ass-you find a tipped king just before you leave for the night. When you get home, you break out the violin your father insisted you learn and tackle a Bach concerto you never could master. You excel at self-flagellation, if nothing else.
White moves Pawn to King 4. You start another game before taking refuge in the clinic. House has spent the past 3 months pointing your faults out, and he can add stubborn to the list.
You spend the day treating patients and wondering if He'll call you. You hate yourself for the latter because you know he won't. And you certainly won't call Him. You arrive to find black has mirrored your move. Black's openings are getting more predictable, and your game is sharpening. You offer the King's Gambit and spend most of the night drowning your brain in the body of an accountant you met at a bar the previous week.
Nurse Taylor is both unhappy with and in awe of you when you show up to collect your cash, but she pays up. She is incredulous when you offer to double the bet for another 3 months. But she doesn't take the bait. You feel oddly reassured by that-and you wonder why because it's only a job, isn't it?
It's a miserable, gray day, which matches your mood as you survey the nightmare staring up at you from the chessboard. Your queen is pinned and your remaining bishop is in serious danger. But your king remains upright, and you know better than to second-guess House. If he could torture you with a loss, he would. He seemed, at first, to take it as a personal affront that you wouldn't quit, but he's stopped lately and you wonder if he's given up or is just dreaming up new methods. House is creative. But so are you. You move your rook to threaten his queen.
For the first time in months, you're actually surprised. A new game's been started when you arrive back from the weekly M&M conference. House almost never attends unless he's served up a chance to take a swipe at another doctor. You realize that you've played to a draw and oddly feel more satisfaction for that then you did for beating your father all those years ago.
White's made the first move: Pawn to Queen's Bishop 4. You've earned the right to play on your own terms. Not too many people like playing black, but you do. No less creativity needed, but you can wait, you can anticipate, and then you can act. You prefer that.
"Not with this kind of liver involvement."
You were paged to the ER the day before to admit a Mr. Vinikoor to the ICU and found in him a present gift-wrapped for your boss. A mess of symptoms and crazy labs guaranteed to make House happy. And he is happy. And focused. And so are you. You've spent all morning working on possible diagnoses, but the board is still loaded with too many possibilities.
"He's got too many bloody symptoms. If he weren't a man we could add TSS to the damn list, too," you grouse aloud.
"TSS," he repeats, staring at the chess set that's still on the end of the table.
"I like it," he says finally. "Streptococcal TSS is politically correct; doesn't care how you throw a ball. And it fits all the symptoms. Culture the rash, do a chest radiograph, an ECG, and redo the blood work."
It's not exactly praise, but your mood lifts as you hurry out of the room...you've spotted Cuddy making her way towards the office and she looks steamed. Watching Cuddy interact with House is sort of like watching a car wreck-one derives a certain atavistic pleasure in the voyeurism, but the aftermath is always unpleasant.
You spend the rest of the day running tests and keeping Mr. Vinikoor alive. By the end of the day (or, more accurately, the middle of the night), you're too tired to contemplate the game that's still in progress. Besides, you're nearing the end game and you've learned that rushing gains you nothing. You're comfortable and you're not going anywhere.
You've spent the past five days keeping your patient, Mr. Vinikoor, from leaving via the morgue. TSS became necrotizing fasciitis, and a host of secondary infections. You've had to think a lot on your feet-and spent a lot of time on your feet-but the tide is slowly turning in your favor. House actually tells you to go home and get some rest before you end up his patient. You can think of few things more frightening.
Amazing what sleep can do for a man. The board is ever so clear as you move your knight to force white's king out into the open.
The morning's labs are more than promising. Mr. Vinikoor will walk out of the hospital and you will add his name to the only black book you've ever kept. The one an attending told you to start keeping when you started your residency in intensive care. He told you that you needed to keep a list of the ones who walked away because you'd never forget the ones who didn't. You thought he was full of shit. Three weeks later, you got plastered after you watched an 8-year-old succumb to end-stage leukemia. The day-after's hangover and your mother's picture convinced you that you'd seen enough emotional alcoholic binging in your lifetime. You started writing. Your book is pretty full. There are days when you need that.
You walk into the diagnostic lounge and catch sight of the chessboard. White's king is tipped. You find the victory more satisfying than exciting, but you smile anyway. You've wondered what it would feel like and now you know. For a moment you wish you could have seen House's face. You wonder if this is just another empty victory. But it's Friday night, your patient is stable, and you have a date that looks promising, so you push the thought out of your mind and head out. Time will tell. It always does.
The chess set is gone when you arrive on Monday. In its place is a CV for an Allison Cameron, M.D. You're reading it when House finally limps in to collect his morning overdose of caffeine. You look up, a raised eyebrow your only question.
"I've decided, my blond-haired wonder, that you're ready to have a playmate in your sandbox," he observes with the gleeful smile that you've learned signals impending danger. For whom, you aren't sure. "Congratulations. It's a girl. She arrives on Wednesday. Go take my clinic hours."
"Just as long as she doesn't hog all the toys," you joke, tossing the CV back on the table. House heads into his office without saying another word, but there's a hint of a smile on his face. You rise from your chair feeling oddly euphoric, even better than the day you won your grandfather's chess set. Idly, you wonder if Dr. Allison Cameron plays chess.