Categories > TV > House > Pathology

Chapter 1

by MelantheVida 0 reviews

House receives an unwelcomed call from Cuddy. The whiteboard and Pacman are threatened.

Category: House - Rating: R - Genres: Drama, Humor - Characters: Gregory House, Lisa Cuddy - Published: 2006-07-13 - Updated: 2006-07-13 - 1609 words

The phone was ringing.

Its abrupt shrillness cut through the melody of the piano for the second time in the past sixty minutes, causing a skip and a pause from the maestro at the ivory keys. House glanced up for roughly two seconds before turning back to his music, obstinately ignoring the discordant clash of the two sounds. Answering machines were invented for a reason. He'd switched the voice mail settings to the lowest number of rings possible upon purchasing the device, his personal theory being that, if it didn't warrant his attention by the third mind-numbing peal, then the person on the other line wasn't likely to convince him otherwise.

...With one unfortunate exception. House sighed and halted his playing, his mood lost after that last thought. Of course, there was the slim chance that this time, it was merely a wrong number, or even a telemarketer--at least then he could practice his Mandarin and have some fun--but he doubted he would be so fortunate.

No, the odds of it being Cuddy on the other line was a statistical anomaly comparable in size to his Vicodin tally within the next hour if these calls didn't let up. Half hour, even, given their persistence. And the odds that she was going to stick him with clinic duty once he picked up the call, as he inevitably would when his painkillers ran out (she always made good use of the pharmaceutical advantage), well, that was mathematical certainty considering the previous two voice mails had been direct deposit straight from the seventh circle of hell. No, scratch that. Hell would be far more amusing. Cuddy in clinic, on the other hand, was simply flu season run amok. Nothing even as remotely entertaining as pitchforks and flames and a guy with twin horns who sported the world's worst case of skin cancer (Wilson could vouch for it; he'd had dinner with the Devil not too long ago, after all).

As his answering machine kicked in with the all-too-familiar voice of his boss on the other line, House finally gave in and popped one of the little white pills sitting on his piano top. There was only so much a man could take, after all.

"House. The hospital's burning down." That flat, matter-of-fact declaration stopped him right in his pill-to-mouth tracks. "You might want to come in and remove your things before the firemen use them to barricade the flames." She paused thoughtfully, then added, "Also, your whiteboard's been doused in sodium bicarbonate. Have a nice day." The phone clicked off, leaving House to sit in deafening silence.

He blinked once, then slowly allowed the pill to finish its path into his mouth and down his throat.

So...statistical calculations. Not so effective with Cuddy, it seemed. House pondered the message idly, as his fingers counted off the number of Vicodin tablets left within his possession before he had to restock. The woman was getting creative. First, the lice issues. Then, a shutdown of network power. And now, she had him cornered with a hospital fire. At this rate, they'd be killing firstborns by daybreak. Not that he was really worried, of course. This last message was just another instance of Cuddy getting back at him for ten unanswered house calls, five pager rings, and a week's worth of hiding out in the ob-gyn lounge, his current sanctum from the wiles of the Wicked Witch. House was pretty sure that if there really was a fire at Princeton-Plainsboro, his belongings wouldn't rate very high on her list of Things Not to Barbeque.

But. The Vicodin. Dejectedly, he looked down at the six remaining pills sitting on his piano top. House figured the likelihood of these lasting him for the rest of the day amounted to just under nil, somewhere between really unlikely and hey, is that a chess piece in your pocket or did you just get sold into netspeak slavery? He'd have to go to the pharmacy at some point, whether he liked it or not. The only question at this point was, how many painkillers would he spare to battle the Mistress of Misery (Purveyor of Pain, Afflicter of Agony, Destroyer of Doom...he still couldn't come up with something for "Queen" though) who would be invariably greeting him there.

Facing Cuddy on empty was not too bright of a notion.

...Particularly if she had doused his whiteboard, as she'd claimed. Because he really did like his whiteboard. It was the only object in his office that could mock Foreman just by virtue of standing there.
Reluctantly easing himself off the hardwood bench, House made his way over to where his phone sat and picked up the receiver, pushing the redial button as he began to count off the seconds until he received an answer.

He got to about one - half of one, in fact - before Cuddy snapped it up. "They're moving out your bookshelves right now. Shall I tell them to hold out on the desk?"

House shifted slightly, tapping his cane against the floor while he held the receiver in his other hand. "So my desk has been promoted from object to patient status now?"

"From the amount of patients you've seen this week, that's actually a good sign."

"I've seen plenty of patients," House replied, adding an air of mock-insult to his voice as he headed over to the kitchen. Listening to Cuddy in PMS mode always required copious amounts of refreshment to sustain. "ER's on reruns now, you know," he continued.

He yanked open the fridge, resting one arm on the door. Ever since Wilson left, the interior of his refrigerator had been pitifully devoid of much food (at least, that of the stove-cooked and edible kind), but he still recalled keeping a few items stashed away in the back. House rifled around, pushing aside a half-empty can of Campbell's soup, various slices of sandwich meat, peanut butter, old take-out containers, Red Bull, and a neatly-wrapped platter of stuffed peppers with the "Property of James Wilson" label still stuck on it. House paused, thumbing the note. He couldn't say why he hadn't thrown the thing out yet; it'd been nearly a month since James's impromptu stay had ended, after all, cut short by a flurry of phone calls and the other's inability to keep his pants up around pretty damsels in distress. House hoped cancer patient #2473 was having the remission of her life back in Florence.

Cuddy's voice interrupted his thoughts. "Right. And all of them had their bills sent to Princeton-Plainsboro." A loud clank sounded in the background, followed by several people yelling. The ruckus stopped House's prepared retort short. What were they doing now, disemboweling his cabinet range? Busting out his windows? Was nothing sacred under the reign of the Wicked Witch?

Shrugging aside the thought, House removed the remnants of the Reuben sandwich he was looking for and took a bite, chewing purposefully loud to irritate Cuddy on the other line. "Oh look, there goes your state-of-the-art computer into the flames." Her voice took on a smug tone. "So much for Pacman the rest of this month, huh?"

House paused for a second, mid-chew, then swallowed. He still didn't think the hospital was on fire, but he also didn't think his computer was safe either.

"Well, now," he said finally, "Chase is going to be upset - I didn't get a chance to back up his porn yet."

"Ah, but luckily, Chase also arrived for work on time today. Something I can't say for you," Cuddy replied without missing a beat. There was another, louder clank from inside her room, followed by the unmistakable rush of water. Several seconds went by before it stopped. "I'll give you ten minutes to get in here, House, or else your office is fried."

That last, inexorable click effectively sealed his Vicodin quota for the day.

House set the receiver down on the kitchen counter with a sigh and shoved his sandwich back into the fridge. Fire or not, he wasn't about to risk the loss of his beloved computer, with all its high scores in Minesweeper, Freecell, Hearts, Pinball, Backgammon, Breakout, Metroid, Swarm, and yes, even Pacman (he had nearly beaten the last level before Chase walked in and ruined his streak) saved on it. The cost-benefit ratio had just tipped dramatically. With a resigned air, he began gathering his things, silently ticking off the activities he'd rather be engaging in than travel into an infected air zone. Getting sick was bad enough, but with the flu? The common, garden variety /flu/? That was just an insult to his immune system! House always figured that if he was going to come down with an illness, it had to at least begin with some sort of baffling collapse and progress into a series of ever more outrageous, unexplainable symptoms that consisted of more than just toilet bowl prayer and a box of Kleenex.

No better way to impress the ladies, after all, than to tell them you have one of the last known Western strains of Oropouche virus.

Perhaps he could bribe Cuddy into setting up a webcam over the clinic area so he could diagnose patients without even having to enter the waiting room. It would be like his own reality TV show, complete with stupid people doing stupid things. Maybe if he was lucky, he'd get to witness the making of a Darwin Award in person.

...And maybe, just maybe, if he was really lucky, someone would run into the clinic with an illness that wasn't symptomatic of the failure of the human race.
Sign up to rate and review this story