Categories > TV > House > Pathology

Chapter 2

by MelantheVida 0 reviews

Two clinic patients, a trip to the pharmacy with Wilson, and an encounter with Cuddy later, House finally receives an actual case.

Category: House - Rating: R - Genres: Drama, Humor - Characters: Gregory House, James Wilson, Lisa Cuddy - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2006-07-13 - Updated: 2006-07-13 - 3734 words

"Come to pick up Pacman's urn?"

House stopped short at the sound of that familiar voice. Clipped. Sardonic. And always, always displeased. It was a shame too, because he'd nearly made it to the pharmacy intact, after having threaded his way carefully through the brush behind Wilson's office and letting himself in with the spare key he had borrowed (not stolen) from his friend's briefcase a month before. Obviously, his boss had been expecting this.

Turning, House put on his best sarcastic smile.

"I'd hoped to make the funeral, but you know how traffic is during these emergencies." He waved a hand at the parking lot, which was completely devoid of any firefighting equipment whatsoever.

"Well, the blaze only seemed to attack your office. Hence." Cuddy waved a hand at the parking lot as well.

House pretended to do a double-take. "X-men powers. Wow. I always wondered what Magma would look like in real life."

"It's a shame you hadn't come in earlier to look, then," she replied in her no-nonsense voice and then handed him a clipboard. "Exam Room One."

With obvious dread, House's gaze followed the direction of her finger through the glass doors of the clinic and into the common room, which was currently occupied by every manner of hacking, coughing, sneezing, or otherwise disease-spreading patient in the course of human existence, all just waiting to be cured by the divine hand of man.

...It was times like these that he wished more people would rely on faith healing.

"I'm pretty sure you don't mean that Exam Room One." Fake incredulity fairly dripped from his voice. "Because it would require, you know, walking through the equivalent of plague-ridden Russia."

"Yeah, God forbid there be sick people in a hospital." Cuddy rolled her eyes. "The most they have is the flu. And as far as I know, you've never gotten the flu anyway."

"I'd like to keep it that way."

"Then /deal/, or get vaccinated like the rest of us."

She marched off without another word, leaving House to flounder at the mercy of the masses.

The cold, unfeeling masses.

"Don't have /flu/." The last word was spat out as though it were a curse.

House closed the door behind him slowly in resignation, his movements that of a condemned man being led to the guillotine of human idiocy. The most dangerous kind, at that. His eyes scanned the owner of the voice - black hair (slight oil build-up of roughly two days), black eyes, painted eyebrows. Of the Asian variety.

He gingerly made his way toward her.

"Don't have flu," she repeated stubbornly.

"No, really?" he asked in mock-horror. "But influenza's all the rage these days!"

"Not! Flu!" She emitted a hacking cough, as though to prove her point. House carefully sidestepped the direction her mouth had been aimed in. "Sah-veeah ah-cute res-pee-rah-to-reeeh sin-drome."

Having walked clear to the other side of the room by now, House turned around slowly, one eyebrow raised. "Communist state finally decide to tell its people what they're dying of, eh? Or was that Google talking? Because you know, I always figured Google would become the new dictatorship someday. The stalker maps...the filtered images...the colorful, yet insidiously arranged banner motifs...great way to spread propaganda around."

There was a moment of silence as his "SARS" patient stared back at him blankly. House averted his gaze. Something about avoiding direct eye contact with the criminally insane, very shrewd advice considering the state of the last clinic patient who had wandered into here. Ever since that Russian conspiracy debacle, he'd been careful to screen all visitors.

After several minutes, the woman seemed to recover from his shocking accusation about despotic search engines and sniffled once, then rubbed her ear.

"S-A-R-S," she enunciated slowly, as though speaking to the deaf and senile. "It called SARS."

Yes, thank you for the clarification. Completely didn't comprehend that from your awful butchering of the name the first time.

"Is it, now? Say ah." He stuck a thermometer between her lips. "Let's see here. Runny nose, dry cough..." He pulled out the thermometer. "Temperature of a hundred and two. You keep messing with your ear - either you're deaf, or you've got an earache."

"Earache!" She nodded vigorously.

"Ahhh...see, the commies are always lying to you people." He scribbled out a quick prescription for an antibiotic and ripped the sheet off the pad with a flourish. "I deem you with a sinus infection. Now go get cured. Be happy."

She made no move to take the prescription. "Not sai-nus in-fec-shee-un. SARS."

Dear God.

I would like to let you know that I am feeling deeply religious today. This is even more unusual than Cuddy giving me a Get Out of Clinic Free card during PMS week, so in return for my rare moment of faith in you, please, in the name of Angelina Jolie's breasts, smite this woman down.

"Eat place. Chaaaiii-nah." Her fingers pantomimed a chopstick motion. "One month ago. /One/," she stated, holding up a single index finger to emphasize the number. "SARS."

"Eradication of SARS by WHO? Two years ago." House held up two fingers. "/Two/. No SARS." He dropped his hand and began pacing along the length of the room. Just fifteen minutes into clinic, and his leg pain was already flaring up more than usual. Distractedly, he reached into his pocket for another Vicodin pill. His last one. He'd need to make a pharmacy run within the next ten minutes if he wanted to avoid Cuddy returning from lunch. That is, should his English-challenged patient ever bother to...

House paused, the distinct feeling of twin eyes boring into his back. The woman was watching him intently.

"What? Mao Ze Dong got your tongue?"

"Your cane. Bad feng shui," she said, nodding gravely and coughing again. "Hold on left side. To balance."

For about two seconds, House was speechless. Then, he began contemplating the merits of physician-assisted suicide by way of blunt force trauma to the head. They did take into account overwhelming circumstances in court, after all.

In the end however, he bit his tongue and put on his best I-live-among-the-tortured look, leaning in to emphasize every single syllable of his next pronouncement.

"Your cough," House enunciated in the worst Chinese accent ever. "Bad eel-ness. Take thees medicine to ba-lance." He tapped the prescription with his cane - his cane, which was in his right hand - and turned to leave before the look of shock could disappear from the woman's face.

"Two a day," he said, as he walked out. "Morning. Night. Yin. Yang. Got it?"

He didn't look back to make sure she did.

"Stocking up, House? Or did Cuddy make you pick up your patients' prescriptions, too?"

House didn't even have to turn around to recognize the voice as Wilson's. "If it were the latter, I'd be upstairs in the psych ward." He tapped his cane impatiently against the countertop. "Praying."

As he waited with some irritation for his prescription to arrive, House glanced idly over at his companion, mind already singling out the details of dress for future analysis. Oxford shirt. Rolled up sleeves. Tie. Hm, blue and orange stripes today. Obviously, staff "appreciation" week was in full swing.

Wilson joined House at the counter, resting a casual arm on it as he regarded his friend. "So, how much of a head start on Cuddy did you give yourself?"

House tilted his head, pondering for a second as he peered into the air in deep thought. "As of right now? About two salads' worth. Three and a Ben & Jerry's if it's getting around to that time of the month."

Wilson gave him an incredulous look. "Food is your new timing system?"

"It's always been my timing system." House's voice took on an awed, hushed tone. "Can you imagine what would've happened if the Egyptians used salad bars instead of sundials for their clocks? Asparagus would be the new in!"

"Asparagus." There was definite skepticism in the other's voice. "And if it were the Greeks? Would it still be asparagus?"

"No, I'm thinking more along the lines of stuffed sausage. You know, like stuffed peppers, except without the vomit." House paused for a beat. "Or the peppers."

"I should notify Cuddy that my stuffed peppers can be used as a weapon against you."

"Now, that would be an interesting scene." One could almost hear a collective sigh of relief as the pharmacist finally returned. House immediately swiped up the bag of Vicodin and rifled through it before turning a critical eye on the man behind the counter. "Child-proof bottles?" he demanded. "Where did you go to medical school?" He walked off without waiting for a response. "Because I just so happen to know that Cuddy and peppers go together about as well as clinic duty and me."

Wilson fell easily into step beside House. "Is that my cue to ask you how your time in the clinic went so you can complain?"

House pretended to seriously contemplate the question. "Only if it's my cue to mock you for actually caring for these idiots."

"They don't all remind me of you, you know."

"No?" House's voice took on a fake, wobbly tone. "Not even the brave cancer kid with the big puppy dog eyes?"

Wilson raised an eyebrow and chuckled. "I wouldn't call any part of you puppy." He wouldn't call any part of House animal at all, unless that animal consisted of a porcupine with a double layer of quills. And a limp. One wondered what redeeming qualities either of those had. "Speaking of puppies, I'm pretty sure none of your patients drew a cocker spaniel with a chocolate-scented marker only to eat the entire picture."

House paused for a beat, then curled his lips into a smirk. "Is this going where I think it's going?"

Wilson returned the smirk twofold. "You may have topped me last time, but you're not topping that particular patient."

"No, because only wonder boy oncologist is allowed to top patients around here." House gave a false gasp. "Oh, I'm sorry. Did I hit a nerve?"

Wilson paused in his steps for a split second before continuing on, the smirk disappearing from his lips. "Going for the cheap shots because you're lacking a story to share? Now that's new," he remarked dryly.

House frowned, considering. "Asian woman," he said finally. "30 years old. Absolutely convinced she was dying of a Communist disease called SARS." He glanced at Wilson, clearly amused. "Too bad her symptoms showed up about two years too late to make the cut."

They walked on for several moments in silence.

"...Is my feng shui bad?" he asked suddenly.

Wilson lifted an eyebrow, pretending to reflect seriously upon the question. "No, it's great. You're just bursting with positive energy."

"That's what my acupuncturist said right before she sued me." Suddenly, House made a sharp swerve down another hallway.

Wilson blinked in surprise before following uncertainly along. "What - where are you going?"

"Back to Kansas," the other hissed, eyes on a certain femme fatale who had just made an appearance by the pharmacy. "The Wicked Witch is looking for us." He quickly turned into the back of the prescription storage area.

"You mean she's looking for /you/," Wilson replied. He was two steps away from entering the storage room along with House, but the echo of heels from behind stopped him. So he slammed the door instead.

"Aiding and abetting?" Cuddy asked as she halted in front of him. There was a hint of irony in that tone.

Wilson just smiled sweetly and kept silent, guilt hidden beneath plenty of layers of "I have nothing to do with this" innocence.

Cuddy snorted. "You two are the worst liars ever." She moved past him to rap on the door. "House! I know you're in there."

House leaned against the wall beside the door, careful to remain on the unhinged side so as not to get smacked in the face should Cuddy force it open. "It's not what you think it is!" he called loudly. "I know it looks like we're ditching clinic duty, but we're actually having sex. Wilson's just bad at the closet-banging part." He bolted the door shut for emphasis.

The stretch of silence from Wilson this time was longer. House wondered briefly if his friend was blushing. Probably. Wilson always blushed when he mentioned sex around Cuddy, as if red-faced embarrassment could hide the fact that everyone knew he was actually an incorrigible lecher.

At last, the other man cleared his throat. "I'm actually on a legitimate break. Which is...over now, so I'm going to head back," he finished hastily, footsteps fading quickly as he made his escape.

Hmph. So much for undying loyalty.

Cuddy knocked on the door again. "If you're so adamant on staying in a room, I could easily lock you in Exam Room One. They're the same size."

"But this one's more comfy!" House whined mockingly. "Besides, it's got great accommodations - king size bed, panoramic view, a Vicodin stash that could last me into the next century..."

"Stock up later, House," the other replied dryly. "There's no Apocalypse yet. Are you going to come out or does there need to be another fire?"

A moment's pause before House opened the door and stuck his head out. "Foreman must be really good at getting away with arson then."

Cuddy gave a humorless smile. "If only you were so good at getting away with deserting your post."

House snapped his fingers in disappointment. "Damn, so that's what screwed up my GPA in medical school."

He only received a look in response before Cuddy pushed the chart into his hand. "New patient, and no flu as a bonus. Get back to work."

"Hi, my name is Dr. Gregory House, I'll be your attending physician today. I am also obligated to inform you that my current pain medication - " He brandished his Vicodin bottle " - has the unfortunate tendency to throw me into random fits of uncontrollable rage, hysteria, madness, and acute, homicidal psychosis preceded by repeated banging of my head against the wall."

/Or your head against my cane/, he added silently to himself.

"So. Should you feel the need to leave at any time, please /run/, do not walk, to the nearest exit. A resident serf will be right with you."

That should just about do it. If the patient wasn't already heading for the door, he most definitely would be by the third dose of Vicodin. House congratulated himself on a job well done.

And turned to witness the bloodiest sight since that box cutter circumcision several weeks ago.

"...I was clipping my scrotum."

House wrinkled his nose. "With what, the garden shears?"

He regretted asking almost immediately.

"You know how your pubic hair'll sometimes get caught in the mouth of your penis, so when you go to pee, it squirts one way and then another and you end up peeing on yourself?"


"Well." The patient blinked. "Yours is probably bigger than mine then."

"Was it the cane that gave it away?" House asked mockingly.

Turning, he rifled through the drawers for some bandages and disinfectant. Paused temptingly over the scissors. A swipe. One swipe, and all of humanity would be saved. The Hippocratic Oath was overrated anyway.

Meanwhile, the patient continued babbling on, completely oblivious to how close his family jewels were from becoming permanently removed. ", I was trimming my hair when I accidentally slipped and - "

/Fell out of the gene pool/, House prayed.

" - cut off a piece of my skin down, um, there, and it was bleeding a lot, and I couldn't get a bandaid on it, and the medical kit was too far away, so..."

"Yeah, yeah, get to the point already. Did you saw it off yourself, or were you waiting for the surgeon to give you the go-ahea...oh, good GOD." House froze mid-turn, his eyes riveted by the horrible sight before him. The patient had dropped his pants.

"Is that a...?"

"So I used a Cheetos bag clip instead." The man shifted uncomfortably under the other's stare. "Is that, uh, not safe?"

Famous last words of the omega male. House decided to have some fun at the expense of the village idiot.

"Not safe?! Do you realize how much pressure those clips can put on you?" House frowned in the most ominous way possible, voice taking on a dark, somber tone like those TV doctors when they were informing a patient of a particularly dangerous and debilitating disease. The end result resembled something of a grim reaper. "Several dozen pounds! Cuts off the blood flow /entirely/, makes the appendage go flaccid and numb like a fish within hours of application. I've seen amputations resulting from severe R.A.P.E syndrome."

"Oh, my God!" With a cry, the man yanked the clip off his scrotum and threw it straight across the room, eyes bulging in fear. The clip flipped twice in mid-air, bounced once on the wall, made a perfect backspin, before finally skittering to a halt next to the corner trash can.

The patient eyed it with all the wariness of a cornered hyena.

"So, what exactly does...uh...R.A.P - whatever that thing is, stand for?" he tentatively asked after several moments of silence.

House couldn't resist a smirk. "Reverse Aggravated Penis Envy."

For a moment, the other man was speechless. "They should...they should caution consumers about this! Expose these companies! Just the horror of the thought alone makes me want to..."

"Yeah, those things really should have warning labels. Wouldn't want someone to mistake the bright yellow safety clip for a bandaid." House's sarcasm had reached toxic levels by now.

...And the patient finally caught on.

"I didn't want it to get infected!"

"Right. So you used processed cheese instead of hydrogen peroxide." Sadly, it was time to send the village idiot on his way. House quickly scribbled off a prescription for a Td booster and gel foam dressing, then shoved the piece of paper at the other man. "Give this to one of the nurses when you go out. They'll get it fixed up." Turning to leave, he couldn't resist adding one more snide quip.

"Oh, and next time you clip your Cheeto? May want to leave it on longer. You could win an award."

House left the patient to ponder which kind of award it might be.

Escaping the dreaded Exam Room One yet again, House slunk along the hallway, cane in hand, eyes set on the destination that would mean his salvation from eternal stupidity. The ob-gyn lounge. Reclining couch, widescreen TV, a location as far away from the clinic as physically possible (well, technically, the neonatal ward was farthest, but that option presented its own set of long and arduous problems, not the least of which involved Chase)...All he had to do now was make it through the next five seconds without being stopped by -


Speak of the devil. Literally.

House paused in his footsteps and sighed, turning reluctantly to face the source of the nagging voice. Cuddy had ambushed him again. From the stairs, no less. Sometimes, he wondered if this weren't the real curse of having a lame leg.

"What?" he asked. "I'm on a legitimate break here. I have fifteen minutes, or did that slip your mind?"

"Yeah." Cuddy strode forward. "And you used them up at the pharmacy, or did that slip your mind?"

"You can't yell at me and then say I was on a legitimate break," House replied, waving his cane briefly in her direction. "You can't have your dictatorship and run it too. Just look at what happened to Germany."

"Are you comparing me to a Nazi?" Cuddy asked in disbelief.

"Is that what they call them these days?" he responded with equal incredulity.

There's a moment when he's sure he finally crossed the line from just mildly irritated Cuddy to I'm-gonna-lock-you-into-clinic-for-a-week Cuddy. Which, given the current circumstances, wasn't much of a change.

But then, his boss just rolled her eyes in exasperation. "That metaphor makes no sense anyway." She whipped out a folder and shoved it in his hands for the third time in the past two hours. "New patient - "

House waved a hand. "I'm familiar. Exam Room One, etcetera, etcetera. Can't we just print stickers that say FLU in bold red letters and hand them out to the patients? It'll be like a business promotion."

"Non clinic patient," Cuddy said, raising an eyebrow.

House immediately took the folder. "See, now why didn't you say that earlier?" He began walking away, expertly balancing the folder open with his left hand while he manipulated his cane with his right, weaving through the throngs of nurses nearby. It only took him a few steps before it clicked that the symptoms apparently added up to -

The flu.

Wonderful. Why had Cuddy even given this to him?

He turned around, but his boss had expertly disappeared. To be replaced by an elderly woman with the largest bundle of Kleenex ever. House surreptitiously continued on his way.

/Maybe it's a "special" flu/, he thought dryly, swinging open the door to the hospital room to see a young guy of about eighteen, surrounded by a bunch of his friends.


House blinked. "Grim Reapers come to harvest souls?" he remarked, eyeing the black cloaks each had on. "The hospital must be having a yard sale."

He made his way to the foot of the bed and tapped his cane against the metal frame. "So. Michael. Mike?" He tilted his head, considering momentarily. "Anyway. Nausea, dizziness, fever, collapse due to fatigue. You caught the flu strain that's been going around, nothing serious." He gave a casual shrug. "Might let you hang around overnight. Why'd you even call 911?"

One of the boys scratched his head. "I - well, he collapsed and kinda blacked out for a sec - "

"Wait." House flipped through the file. "Doesn't say anything about him blacking out, just says he collapsed."

"Just for a bit," Michael said.

"Define 'a bit.'"

Another of his friends stepped forward this time. "Maybe four, five minutes max."

House glanced down at the file again. Still probably wasn't anything serious. But nothing was as boring as the flu.

He'd take what he could get for now.
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