House grabbed the nearest napkin and spit the bite of bagel from his mouth into it. "What the hell was that?!"
Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. "My mid-morning snack."
"That's not food! That's … that's poison
!" House said, looking at her as if she'd just told him General Hospital
had been cancelled.
"Then you shouldn't have stolen it, should you?" Buffy asked as she took another bite of the remaining bagel. "Besides, it's delicious
"No it's not!" House visible shuddered at the thought of what his poor taste buds just had gone through.
"What is not?" Allison asked curiously as she sat down next to Buffy. She'd never seen an expression like this on House's face before and couldn't wait for the explanation.
"First he's all with the snack stealing and then he's complaining about it," Buffy muttered, glaring darkly at House.
"Poison. You mean poi-son
," House said again, his face still showing as much disgust as when he had his first taste of Buffy's bagel.
Allison looked from House to Buffy and back. Then she looked at the food in front of Buffy and frowned. It looked like a perfectly normal cinnamon-raisin bagel to her. Next her eyes locked onto the small jar next to Buffy's plate – and she started laughing.
"Now you broke her," House said when Allison continued laughing for more than a minute or so.
"Me?" Buffy asked with raised eyebrows. "I haven't done anything. Besides, who do you think Cuddy is going to believe if we turn up with a broken Allison in tow?"
House opened his eyes in mock-shock. "But I haven't done
Buffy smiled innocently at him. "Good luck convincing your boss."
"Convincing me of what?" Lisa asked suspiciously as she stopped in front of their table. She looked at Allison who was still laughing but seemed to slowly calm down now.
"That he didn't break Allison," Buffy said.
"Because I didn't!" House replied.
Buffy just raised her eyebrow and pointed at her friend. "Doesn't look like that too me."
"You should've seen his face! It was hilarious!" Allison said while she brushed the tears from her face.
"I don't do hilarious faces," House grumbled, wondering when he had lost control of the situation so completely.
"Yes you do," Buffy countered, smiling sweetly at him. "Serves you right for stealing my food."
Lisa glared at House. "What did you do this time?"
"Nothing! Honestly!" House said, holding his hands up in front of him in defence. Then he pointed at Buffy. "She's
the evil one. She
tried to poison me."
"I didn't," Buffy said after she finished her bagel. "It's not my fault that you can't appreciate the rather yummy marmite-pineapple jam Dawn sent me."
Suddenly everything made sense to Lisa and she started to snicker, causing Allison to start again too. They'd both been on the receiving end of said delicacy from Dawn, though they had known what they had gotten into before they took a very tentative bite. Unlike House, who'd gotten a mouth-full of the stuff.
"Marmite-pineapple jam?" House all but shouted. "Are you trying to kill
Lisa shook her head at him, grinning. "You should know better than to steal food from a pregnant woman. You never know what kind of cravings she has at the moment."
"Yeah," Allison agreed while Buffy just smirked at him.
Huffing, House narrowed his eyes at them before he stood up. "Fine. Gang up on the cripple."
The women giggled even more.
House waggled his eyebrows as he played with his cane. "Well, I'll be off to plan my revenge."
"Good luck!" Buffy said cheerfully.
"You'll need it!" Lisa added, laughing as House glared at her in return before he left. Once he was gone, Lisa sighed, "Sorry, I need to go too. Uh, do you think you could spare some of that stuff?"
"Really?" Allison asked, scrunching up her nose. After all, she'd a taste a couple of days ago and, well, it was disgusting. "I thought you didn't like it?"
"I didn't." Lisa said, shrugging her shoulders. "But it kinda grows on you."
"I know," Buffy agreed, shoving the small jar over to her mother. "Just take this one, I've got more of them at home."
The next day, House looked around his conference room, watching his fellows as they argued over their current patient. He'd already made up his own diagnosis, which, of course, he could mention. Then again, it was so much more fun to watch them fight each other, trying to figure out whose idea was most likely the right one. Then he frowned as they, apart from Foreman that is, seemed to forget their surroundings completely in their discussions. Now this
House waited until he heard his own idea being mentioned. Then he got up and walked over to his whiteboard. He uncapped his pen, turned sideways and moved it to the board, ready to write. However, he stopped less then an inch away and ceased moving altogether – and watched his fellows while he waited for them to notice him. He even pulled some faces to amuse Foreman as he shook his head at his antics.
A few minutes later and Kutner finally noticed him. "Uh, guys?" he said, pointing towards the whiteboard.
"House?" Thirteen asked with an eye-roll. "What are you doing now?"
He wrote 2:47 on the board before turning fully to his fellows. "That's how long it took you to notice something was off. If you want to diagnose all your patients properly, you need to pay attention to every detail. No matter how small or insignificant it seems. And you shouldn't let anything distract you from diagnosing your patient – or you might miss that final little piece of the puzzle. Understood?"
Everyone nodded. "Good," House said. "Now, differential diagnosis of smelly guy, if you please."
"Mr Anderson," Taub pointed out.
"And that's helping his diagnosis how?" House asked. "Let's try again, what are smelly guy's symptoms?"
"Dizziness and frequent fainting spells," Thirteen started.
"Very common and, hence, boring on its own," House said but wrote it on his white-board anyway. "So, anything interesting coming with it?"
House smirked as he recognised the voice and wrote it on the board. "Why?"
Faith, once again wearing tight leather pants with a matching top, sauntered into the room, hips swaying seductively. "'Cause nurses get high on pestering patients. Someone smells, he's sent to the showers. Or given a sponge bath. He still smells afterwards, he's either got a lazy nurse or something's probably wrong with him."
"Want a job?" House said. Nodding towards the table with his fellows, he added, "Just pick the one you want to replace."
"Hm," Faith said, her eyes wandering from one fellow to the next. "What are they good for?"
"Kutner is for entertainment. He likes to set things on fire," House explained. "Taub knows how to cheat his way around the rules. He even has some medical knowledge. Thirteen is for excitement amongst other things – she likes to keep secrets and I like to solve them."
"What about that one?" Faith asked, pointing at Foreman.
House put on a mock-pout. "Lost puppy. Juvenile record and all. Cuddy won't allow me to fire him."
"O-oh, poor House," Faith said as she came to stand next to him, patting his back. Leaning into him, pressing her chest into his side, she added, "Want me to make it all better?"
House pulled a face, sticking out his bottom lip. Blinking repeatedly, he nodded pleadingly. "Yes please!"
Faith stood on her toes and nibbled on his ear. Then she moved slightly, obscuring the fellows' view of her mouth, whispering into his ear, "How am I doing so far?"
House moaned, squeezing her hip. Faith took this as a 'good'
and pressed in even closer. "Billiard, tonight?"
He moaned again, shifting slightly. "Eight? Bring your cash machine so we can have some food beforehand?"
At the table, Thirteen shared a look with Foreman who rolled his eyes and shook his head. Next to him, Taub and Kutner grinned at each other like adolescent schoolboys.
Faith eventually disentangled herself from House. Facing the fellows, she adjusted her top. Then she pulled a set of keys from her small bag. Handing them to House, she said, "Nice ride you've got."
House smirked as he took the keys to his bike. "I know."
Leaning in again, Faith brushed a kiss against his lips. "See you tonight."
A moment later, she was gone. House smirked at his fellows, adjusting his jeans – though it was more for show than anything else. While he couldn't deny Faith was one sexy chick, he was surprisingly content with playing with her the way they had done just now, shocking people along the way – without actually wanting to go any further. Maybe he was getting old or something. Or maybe Faith had made it clear enough how far she'd go herself. Either way, his fellows didn't know there was nothing between them and he sure as hell wasn't going to tell them.
Still smirking, he asked, "Next symptom?"
Buffy looked at the now silent phone in shock. She had just received a call from Linda, Mark's only relative who had been showing an interest in him for the past few years. The call in itself wasn't that unusual as they had stayed in loose contact after Mark's funeral. No, the shock came from what Linda had told her.
The previous weekend Linda had been to a family gathering. As had Mark's parents, his brother and sister. Of course, someone had asked about the missing son, even though everyone knew he'd fallen into disgrace with his parents. But they were still shocked to hear of his death. Unfortunately, it didn't end there.
Jonathan, Mark's older brother, had given a dismissive answer to yet another question about his brother. Linda, having overheard the comment, had told Jonathan he was an idiot before walking away. Unbeknownst to Linda, Heather had been there as well and had followed Linda to ask her what was going on.
One word had let to another and Linda and Heather had realised that they seemed to be talking about two completely different persons. So they had found a quiet corner and they had started to compare notes in earnest. To both their surprise - and shock - they hadn't added up. At all.
When Heather had talked about unanswered letters, Linda had talked about letters being returned unopened. And unreturned phone calls. After that Heather had asked about Mark's death – and Linda had told her what she knew. Which, of course, lead to her mentioning Mark being engaged – and everything his fiancée's family and friends had tried to contact Mark's parents. Only to be ignored. Then Linda had told Heather how, after the funeral, she'd eventually been fed up with it and had told the secretary of Heather's parents' law firm about Mark's death.
After that last revelation, Heather had been too shocked to talk for a long time. Eventually she had asked Linda if she was still in contact with Mark's fiancée.
Which, in the end, had led to the phone conversation Buffy just had with Linda.
Heather wanted to contact her – not knowing they already had met.
House casually strolled through the clinic, heading in the general direction of Cuddy's office. Peeking into the anteroom, he saw the secretary typing away on her computer. Smirking, House quickly made his way passed her. "No need to announce me. I don't have an appointment, nor am I interested in getting one and, let's be honest, Cuddy doesn't expect me to have or get one either!"
Not waiting for a reply, he opened the door to Cuddy's office, entered and closed the door behind him. Standing by the door, leaning on his cane in front of him, House tilted his head and watched Cuddy ignore him. Then his eyes focused on a little jar on her desk and amusement turned into curiosity.
He quickly made his way over, picking up the offending jar as soon as he reached her desk.
Huffing, Cuddy saved the file she'd been working on and looked up at House. "House."
"Trying to save your spawn from food-poisoning?" he asked, shaking the jar with the marmite-pineapple jam.
Narrowing her eyes at him, Cuddy stood up and snatched the jar from House. "It's mine."
House grinned mischievously at her. "Cuddles, Cuddles. We've got some strange cravings lately, haven't we?"
"Huh?" Cuddy frowned as she looked a the jar a final time before putting it down. "What do you mean?"
House waggled his eyebrows, "Well, well, well. If there isn't a-"
"What?" Cuddy asked confused when House stopped mid-sentence, looking like he'd just had an unexpected epiphany. And a big one at that. "If there isn't a what
"Hm?" House blinked a couple of times when Cuddy's question finally registered in his brain, then he turned around and left for the door. He had some important thinking to do.
"House! What the hell is going on here?"
His hand already on the door handle, he threw her a grin over his shoulder. "I'm off pretending to do my clinic hours."
Cuddy groaned. There was definitely something
going on in his brain. She just hoped the hospital – or, more likely, she
– would survive whatever kind of mischief he bred in that mind of his now.
However, for once House wasn't thinking about playing one of his games but rather surprised by his own thoughts. After leaving Cuddy's office he went straight for the solitude of the roof. He leaned onto the balustrade and just looked out at the park, trying to avoid thinking for a while. Or rather preventing his thoughts from going one particular direction.
He stood there for a long time before he allowed his thoughts to carefully drift to that one topic again.
In the end, he simply accepted where his mind had been taking him in Cuddy's office before he stopped himself from completing and voicing his own thoughts.
Now he just had to figure out what to make of this new situation.
And how to handle it.
--A/N: Well, a sequel to that little baby of mine is becoming more and more likely. Or so Muse told me while writing this chapter. Of course, she didn't bother to ask me first – she just told me that's the way it's going to be. Bah. Muses!
Anyway, the marmite-pineapple jam isn't mine but Blueboo's who mentioned it in a review several chapters back. Muse was just waiting for the perfect time to sneak it in!