Dawn, wearing a grin that matched House's, waved at her sister. "Hi!"
"What's going on?" Buffy asked suspiciously. "What are you two up to? And didn't I tell you to stay away from House?"
"Younger sibling syndrome," House and Dawn said in unison.
Rubbing his hands together in glee, House switched the portable TV off. "I'm TiVo-ing it anyway." Patting the examination table, he said. "Hop up. I even had evil nurse Brenda change the sheets for the occasion."
"Nu-huh. That’s your place, not mine. Physiotherapy, remember?" Buffy said with her arms crossed in front of her chest.
House shook his head and pulled a machine from the corner of the room, moving it next to the bed. "Welcome to round two of Parasite Watch
Buffy frowned as she recognised the ultrasound machine House had used last time. "Been there, done that, got the picture."
House snorted. "Four weeks ago. Time for another check-up."
Buffy still didn't move but glared alternately at House and Dawn.
"What?" House raised his eyebrows. "I happen to know that you haven't gone and gotten yourself another doctor. So, as a concerned member of the medical profession-"
Buffy snorted at his accentuation of the word concerned, causing House to smirk and bow slightly before he continued, "- it is my duty to monitor the progress of your spawn."
Dawn coughed, looking innocently at her sister. "It's either this or I'll tell mom and she'll drag you to someone else. Someone you don't know. Who might be evil. Or, worse, uber-friendly and happy!"
Rolling her eyes, Dawn dropped her mask and said seriously, "Please? I want to see the little one before I have to go back."
Looking at House, who was giving her a mock-pleading look, she sighed. "Fine," she grumbled. It wasn't like she had a choice. Dawn was right after all, if Lisa found out that she hadn't been to a doctor for a month, she'd make sure that Buffy would get checked-out. So, she figured, better go with the devil you know. "Just an ultrasound, right? Nothing more … invasive, right?" Buffy asked with a blush while pointing south of her belly.
"Eww!" House and Dawn said at the same time, pulling a face to match. "Ultrasound, blood pressure, weight and some blood. If everything's within the norm and you don't have any problems, then there's no need for anything else." Apart from a little maternity test, of course.
"Good! Good," Buffy said, her face still bright red. Then she frowned again. "Blood? As in poking me with evil needles?"
House waggled his eyebrows. "Don't worry. I've trained the needles in evilness myself. I'm only using the best of the best. Or the evilest of the evilest, in this case."
Giggling, Dawn took Buffy's hand in hers. "Don't worry, I'll just beat him up if he misbehaves. He can't even run away with that bum leg, so it would be a piece of cake."
"Hey!" House protested. "I thought we were buddies!"
Dawn shrugged and smiled sweetly at him.
She didn't let go of Buffy's hand throughout the whole examination. Both her and her sister stared at the small screen in fascination, going as far as shedding a little happy tear when the small foetus moved – even if it was only to show them his or her backside as House was quick to point out. Satisfied with both the size of the foetus and his heartbeat, House threw Dawn a paper towel to clean her sisters tummy off the ultrasound gel while he got the blood sample he needed.
Despite everything, Buffy had to admit that he was good at it – quick and hitting the vein at the first try when, in her experience, most people had trouble to hit any of her veins, not to mention in their first try. Once her clothes were back in order, Buffy looked at her sister and House. "So, since when are you two bestest buddies?"
"Yesterday," Dawn said absently, smiling at the ultrasound picture in her hand. Belatedly realising she had been tricked she blushed. "Oops?"
Buffy nodded in agreement. "Uh huh."
House, having conveniently lost
one of the blood vials somewhere in his pockets, watched the two sisters argue in amusement.
"What did you do?" Buffy asked with a sigh. "And don't tell me nothing
, because we both know that'd be a lie."
Dawn played with the hem of her shirt. "Uh. You might wanna avoid any coke coming from Marmine? Oh. And coffee too."
"Coffee?" House asked in surprise.
Dawn shrugged her shoulders. "I figured it'd be a waste of a perfectly fine break-in into his office to only taint his supply of coke."
"Nice!" House smirked, nodding his head in approval.
"Hello-o!" Buffy tapped her foot impatiently on the floor. "I'm still here and waiting for an explanation!"
"Well," Dawn drawled out. "It was like this."
Listening to her sister's explanation, Buffy could only shake her head in disbelief. If anything, it only proved her point that a meeting between House and her sister would end badly. Very badly. Well, at least if her pee started to turn blue, she knew whom to turn to. Still shaking her head at her sister, she stopped short when she saw an expression of concentration cross her sister's face. "What now?"
"Nothing?" Dawn tried but Buffy only shook her head. Sighing, Dawn admitted, "Uh, remember that scary fairy tale about everyone losing their voice?"
"Dawn," Buffy said warningly.
"It's House's fault, really!" Dawn defended herself. "He told this cute patient of Wilson's how to pretend that he has lost his voice as a side-effect of his treatment. I mean, the poor guy was really bored and Wilson deserved the prank. I wasn't going to do anything, but then I saw his notepad with all those drawings. He looked so unhappy that I thought I might cheer him up by asking him to draw something for me. That's all."
Buffy raised her eyebrows expectantly.
Shuffling her feet, Dawn finished sheepishly, "I might have given him a description of some creepy gentleman."
Groaning, Buffy shook her head. "Dawn. You know I'll have to tell Giles about this."
"Wha-" Dawn exclaimed, eyes bulging out in shock. "You can't do that! He'll try to give me one of his super-boring and super-long lectures about appropriate behaviour and stuff! I'll probably get extra weird translations too!"
"That's … that's just mean, you know!"
Buffy grinned. "I know."
Pouting, Dawn crossed her arms in front of her chest. "He'll probably steal one of my brownies too."
In the background, House smirked. This was better entertainment than he had in quite a while. He almost laughed out loud at Dawn's last brownie-comment, knowing that this Giles would experience some blue pee in the near future. Still grinning, he watched the two bickering sisters leave the examination room.
Not only did he have one of the most entertaining hours in the clinic for a while, he also got around his physiotherapy session.
Or so he thought.
Because, only a minute after the two had left, the door opened again and a middle-aged man entered. Holding the file he was carrying in his hand out to House, he said, "The nurse sent me in. And I'm supposed to tell you that your physiotherapy session has been moved to tomorrow."
House couldn't help but grin – tomorrow was Saturday and he wondered if Buffy really came to hunt him down for the physiotherapy session. Then again, he wouldn't be too surprised. The Summers' sisters were sure as close to a match to him as he had seen in a long time.
Dawn hugged Buffy and Lisa tightly, unwilling to let them go any time soon. Albeit reluctantly, Lisa eventually broke the contact between them. "You need to go if you don't want to miss your plane."
"Maybe I want to." Dawn said rather petulantly.
Buffy rubbed her sister's arm. "I'll miss you too but you need to finish your studies."
"I could do it here!"
"No." Buffy shook her head firmly. "We both know you're at the best school already. And I happen to know that you love it there."
Dawn had to admit that Buffy was right. "But what about the baby? I'm going to miss everything!"
Lisa hugged Dawn to her side. "I'll make sure to take lots and lots of photos."
"Of fat and bloated Buffy too?" Dawn asked mischievously, causing Lisa to laugh out loud – and Buffy to protest. "Hey!"
"Of everything," Lisa assured her, patting Buffy's head slightly.
Dawn chuckled then frowned as her eyes landed on her sister. "Uh oh, Buffy, tears!"
"What! Where?" Buffy looked frantically at her clothes. "I've not gotten fatter overnight again and ripped my clothes open, have I?"
Flabbergasted at Buffy's unexpected reply, Dawn exchanged a look with Lisa before the two of them broke out laughing. In fact, they laughed so hard that they had to keep each other from falling over.
"Hey! Stop with the laughing at the pregnant woman!" Buffy pouted, crossing her arms in front of her. She really didn't know what the other two were laughing at.
"Tears!" Dawn finally managed to wheeze. "I meant you were crying, not have a tear in your clothes!"
"Fine." Buffy grumbled. "Just laugh at the one with the crazy hormones."
"Uh oh," Dawn stage-whispered, "mood-swings too!"
Buffy huffed, glaring at her sister. "You better watch out before my mood-swings throw you towards your exit!"
Lisa tried, although only partially successful, to hide her smile. "Hush, both of you."
The sisters looked first at their mother, than at each other and shrugged their shoulders in unison. Hugging once again, Dawn asked, "You really don't want Giles and the others to know?"
Buffy shook her head. "No. I'm not ready yet. But you can always talk to mom and Allison and Faith, okay?"
Leaning back but still keeping her arms around her sister, Dawn frowned. "I still don't get why Faith and not anyone else."
"When was the last time Faith tried to command you around? Tried to tell you what's best for you?"
Dawn sighed and nodded, finally understanding. An understanding, she suddenly realised, that was only possible in its completeness now that she had seen Buffy interact with their mom, Allison, House and the other people from the hospital – including evil Marmine. They treated her as, well, as just Buffy Summers – no title attached. "But you have to tell them eventually, you know."
"I will," Buffy promised. Kissing her sister's forehead, Buffy gently pushed her towards the exit. "Now go. Be safe."
Dawn nodded and, after hugging her newfound mom for a final time, made her way to her plane.
"So," Lisa said after they had been staring for a while at the spot where they had lost sight of Dawn, "Ice cream?"
Blinking a tear away, Buffy nodded.
House looked at the closed envelope lying on his desk. The envelope that had been waiting for him for the past three days. He just hadn't had the time needed to appreciate and ponder the results inside, so he had surprised even himself by opting to keep it closed for a little while longer.
But now, with the latest case solved – and his final team of fellows chosen to his liking – House had closed the blinds to his office, locked the doors and put his stereo on to drown out any noises coming from the outside.
He leaned back into his chair and put his feet up his desk. Playing with the envelope, House contemplated the possible significance of it. And if it was right to open it in the first place.
Then he snorted. Since when did he bother about his actions being right or wrong? Shaking his head, he ripped the envelope open.
Unfolding the sheet of paper inside, House deliberately took the time to read every single line instead of going right down to the result.
When he finally read the conclusion, a slow smile started to spread across his lips.
"Cuddy, Cuddy, Cuddy."
At the exact same moment, Cuddy was praying to the porcelain god.
Once her stomach was empty of anything entering it during the past twelve hours or so, she sat back, resting her head against the cool bathroom tiles. Thankfully she had been in her office and could use her own private bathroom rather than having to use one of the hospital ones.
She knew she should have passed on the vegan eggplant-parmesan dish she had eaten last night. But, wanting to get the most out of the new potential donor, she had followed his suggestion and ordered it instead of her usual choice. True, it had been delicious, but now she had to pay the price for eating it.
Sighing, she finally got up and rinsed her mouth, putting on an extra layer of make-up to cover-up her pale face. At least the queasy feeling in her stomach had almost vanished now. It wouldn't do her any good to run out in the middle of the hospital board meeting that started in less than half an hour.
Feeling marginally better, she stepped out of her bathroom and went back to her desk. There was still enough time to go through her report for a final time and check for new emails. In fact, some of the colour returned to her face as soon as she opened her email account. She had a new email from Dawn awaiting her attention and, going by the previous ones, it would be more than enough to distract her from her mild case of food poisoning.
Twenty minutes later Lisa headed towards her meeting with a small smile playing along her lips. Just as she had predicted, Dawn's email had been just what she had needed. She had almost reached her final destination when an all too well known cane blocked her path.
"House. What do you want now?"
"What, no big thank you
for choosing my team?" House said in mock-hurt.
Rolling her eyes, she shook her head. "My head still hurts from trying to figure out how to pay three instead of two additional fellows," she deadpanned.
Looking at her in shock, his hands pressed over his heart, House said, "But you told me to hire Thirteen
"You manipulated me into doing so!" Cuddy hissed at him.
"We seem a bit tense today." House waggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Looks like someone needs to get laid!"
"Are we getting prude with age?" House mocked her. "Maybe you should start looking for a grandchild, then?"
Cuddy stared at him in utter disbelief. He didn't just say this, did he?
By the time she had recovered, House was gone.
--A/N: I've been pondering the question if House should be initiated to the supernatural world. I'm leaning towards no and Muse hasn't said anything yet, so I wondered what you think? Any insights that might be helpful? Thanks!