Disclaimer: I'd like to claim credit for them, but I think I'd just get beaten up....
“You’re going to die.” Dr. Gregory House told the young woman as she lay on hospital bed in front of him.
She was a small, almost petite brunette who couldn’t be much more than eighteen. She looked perfectly innocent and normal but to House she represented the most horrible thing in the world, a mystery that he couldn’t solve. She had been brought into the E.R. with a concussion and a fever. She had woken up from the concussion, but the fever had persisted. The E.R. had transferred her up to him when they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her.
“Well, duh!” The girl sneered at him, reaching up and pushing her sweat-soaked hair out behind her ear. “We all gotta’ go sometime, mister.”
“I gotta tell you,” House leaned on his cane and cocked his head at her, “When I tell that to most people they tend to freak out a little. But you don’t even seem fazed.”
"Been there, got the box top,” she shrugged, her eyes steady. “Trust me, last guy that told me that was a lot scarier. I mean, you got the whole intimidatin’ doctor thing going, but he had fangs.”
“Fangs?...,” House shrugged that off for later, “You know, I might be able to stop the whole dying thing if you would just tell me a bit about yourself. A name would be a good start.”
The girl had refused to give any information about herself to anyone, not even her name. Neither the police nor Children and Families, who had been called in case she was a minor, had been enough to intimidate her. All she would say was that she hadn’t been abused and that someone would come and get her.
House and his team had been forced to flounder around for the past three days with little to no information. They’d run every single type of test they could think of, from bacterial to autoimmune to viral, but nothing had come up. All they were left with was a steadily rising fever and a dying patient. Frankly, House was amazed she was still alive and lucid at this point.
“Sorry cane-man, no can do.” The girl told him flippantly, panting a little as her eyes drifted shut. “Rules is rules…not a bad way to go…just like sleep…”
“Shit,” House hobbled forward to hit the code button when the door swung open behind him with a bang!
“Oh goody,” a tall, slender red-head flowed into the room,past him before he could even blink. “I was really afraid I was gonna be too late. We lost track of you ‘cause the charm broke off and then we had to go through the records and then I had to get here and the traffic was just horrible and I really shouldn’t have bothered to drive, I should have just flown…here now, hold still.”
At the end of the longest running sentence House had ever heard come out of anyone’s mouth the woman pushed her hand down onto the girl’s chest and closed her eyes. As House watched disbelievingly there was a brief flash of light from her hand and the girl’s temperature and heart-rate dropped back out of the danger zone. Her breathing lightened and even her eye’s fluttered back open. All in the space of a few moments. It shouldn't have been possible.
“There you go,” the red-head opened her eyes and took her hand off the girl’s chest. She then placed it on the brunette’s forehead as if to test for her temperature. Seemingly satisfied, she smiled down at her. “All better now, okay?”
“Miss Willow,” the girl beamed up at the red-head, “I’m so glad you guys found me. I’ve been freaking out a little here.”
House stared as the girl, who’d seemed tough as nails before, broke down and wept a little against the red-head’s, Willow’s, chest. Whoever this woman was, she was obviously important to the girl. Now he was even more intrigued. It wasn’t often that he got entertainment like this handed to him on a platter.
“May I ask who you are?” He addressed Willow, in full doctor mode.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Willow jerked her head up and looked at him, “I didn’t realize anyone else was in here. Are you Sharon’s doctor?”
“I’m Doctor Gregory House,” he told her, “and you are?”
“I completely forgot my manners,” Willow managed to get a hand away from Sharon, it turned out his patient had an actual name, and reached out in invitation. “I’m Willow Rosenberg. I’m Sharon’s principal.”
“That’s a great student teacher relationship you have going on there,” House ignored the outstretched hand and waved his cane at the two.
“All my girls are special,” Willow frowned a little and dropped her hand.
“Special in what kind of way?” House leered.
“Special in the way that I’m gonna kick your ass for even thinkin’ that shit,” Sharon reared up off the bed with a fierce expression.
“It’s okay, Sharon,” the principal restrained her student with a hand on the shoulder. “Dr. House is just fishing.”
House raised a brow in admiration of her restraint and settled onto his cane. This was going to be fun.
“I’m afraid I don’t have time for your expeditions though, Doctor.” Willow straightened and addressed him formally. “I’d like to sign Sharon out now, if you please.”
“Only her guardian can do that,” House smirked. If the girl was a student she was obviously a minor. “How did you do that, make her temperature go down?”
“This gives me all the power I need,” Willow ignored his question as she showed him a piece of paper. It was court order ordering him to hand over custody of the girl and all her medical records to one Willow Rosenberg.
“Wait a minute,” House protested, “I can’t let you do this. We don’t know if she’s really cured or not. The temperature dropping could simply be a delay in the disease. We’re not even sure what caused it in the first place. It could flair up again.”
“Don’t worry,” she reassured him, “it’ll be taken care of if it does, but I doubt it’ll be an issue.”
“I can’t…,” House started.
“You can,” He turned to see Cuddy framed in the doorway, her hand on her hip. “You can let her do whatever she wants, House.”
“Excuse me,” House said, sarcasm dripping from every word, “are you telling me to let a patient, one we don’t know if their cured or not, out into the great wide world? Can you just imagine the lawsuits involved if she dies?”
“Don’t worry,” Cuddy interrupted his tirade with her usual dry wit. “We’ve taken care of all that. Miss Rosenberg has generously signed a waiver assuring us she will not sue if Sharon experiences any complications.”
“That’s so good of her,” House spat out. “I’m sure Sharon will feel just wonderful about it after she’s dead!”
“Hey, I’m cool,” Sharon said from her bed, stopping the argument in mid-blowup. “I trust Miss Willow.”
“That’s all very well and good…,” House started.
“We’re leaving, Dr. House,” Willow’s voice cut him off. Suddenly she wasn’t the fluffy, airheaded woman that had wandered into the room. “We’re leaving and we’re taking her records with us. That is all there is to it.”
“But…,” he started up again. House was nothing if not persistent.
“Leave it, House,” Cuddy stopped him with a shake of her head. “Get her signed out and then come see me about your clinic hours.”
Cuddy nodded a curt goodbye to Miss Rosenberg and her mystery girl and walked out. House turned and stared at the two for a moment, trying desperately to think of something he could do to get them to stay. Finding nothing, he was forced to huff and limp out of the room. He wasn’t giving up, not this easily.
“I guess telling you not to pursue this would be stupid,” Cuddy sighed in her chair as House slammed into her office a few hours later.
House paused in mid-tirade, deflating slightly. “I had a perfectly good argument ready, you know. Now you’ve gone and ruined it.”
“I’m sorry,” Cuddy replied dryly, raising a brow.
“It’s alright, I’ll just take sex as an apology,” House hobbled over to a chair and slid into it.
“Oh please,” Cuddy practically threw the file on her desk at him. “Here’s what you really want, though it’s not much. All I have on them is that the woman, Rosenberg, runs a private girls school in Cleveland. Sharon goes there.”
“What the hell are they doing in New Jersey?” House opened the file and started reviewing.
“No idea. They didn’t say. Rosenberg just dropped in here and started waving around papers. Papers that would give her access to God I might add,” Cuddy narrowed her eyes at him. “I won’t fight with you. I know you too well. But House, this woman is connected up the ass. I would suggest not pissing her off too badly.”
“I’ll be the model of restraint,” House vowed, slapping the file against his chest and rising to his feet.
“Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it,” Cuddy snorted as he stalked out of the office.
“Get your things, kiddies,” House sang as he poked his head around the door of the office, spying his team. “We’re going on a field trip!”
“We’re we going?” Cameron asked as the group scrambled for their gear.
“To confront a woman who Cuddy says can talk to God,” House declared inanely, waving his cane in the air before him.
“You’re kidding, right?” Foreman deadpanned.
“Not at all,” House slapped the doors of the hospital open and they stepped out onto the parking lot on a mission.
“I’d like to speak with Miss Rosenberg please,” House told the teenage girl as she glared up at him and his team suspiciously. They had arrived at the address on the summons fairly quickly. House didn’t know what he’d expected, but all this seemed fairly normal. It was a tri-level townhouse in an upper-level part of the New Jersey suburbs, quaint and unassuming. One would not suspect nefarious goings-on here. “You can tell her it’s Dr. Gregory House. She knows me.”
The girl nodded and shut the door in his face. A few moments went by as the team shifted uncomfortably behind him, wondering what the heck was going on. Then the girl opened the door again and waved her hand to beckon them in, not once speaking. Once they had entered she seemed to relax a bit and led them to the sitting room.
“I had a feeling I’d be seeing you again,” Willow Rosenberg smirked at him as she walked into the room, surveying them all. “But you brought some friends with you this time.”
“They’re not important,” House waved his hand as they all sat. “They're just my minions.”
“Never underestimate a good minion,” Willow smiled at his team as she sat down as well. “Now, what can I do for you?”
“You can give me back my patient so I can figure out what’s wrong with her.”
“No,” was her simple reply.
“Why not?” House tried reason.
“Because I don’t need to. I already know what’s wrong with her and it’s been taken care of.” She kept her eyes focused on him. “Remember, you saw it for yourself?”
“I don’t know what I saw,” House argued. “All that could have simply been a coincidence.”
“But you don’t really believe that, do you?” Willow asked, her voice calm.
“I believe in medicine, in facts, Miss Rosenberg. Not mumbo-jumbo,” House stated.
“Well then, you’ll never believe me,” Willow relaxed and slumped back into the couch, grinning. “But I’m okay with that.”
“Well I’m not,” House got serious, leaning forward. His team was forgotten, where he was had been forgotten, even the warning from Cuddy fell to the wayside. All that remained was the mystery. “I’m going to find out, you know. Even if I have to hire a million private detectives, I’m going to find out what’s going on here.”
Willow gazed at him, her eyes seeming to darken for a moment, and then she nodded. “I can see that you would do that, Dr. House. So unfortunately for you, you’re going to find your truth.”
Her hand came up and she snapped her fingers. House didn’t notice it at first, but then he realized. Everyone was frozen. Not just everyone, either, every thing stood still. A fly, paused in mid-flight in front of the window. Cameron stuck in mid-reach as she tried to scratch her elbow. Nothing was moving except him…and Willow Rosenberg of course.
“I won’t ask you to believe completely,” Willow told him as he flicked his gaze around frantically, trying to take in all the details and form a hypothesis. “I don’t think you’ve ever completely believed in anything in your life. I pity you a bit. I see horrible things in my line of work, but at least I have something to believe in absolutely.”
“Excuse me…what?” House tried to gather his thoughts. He should've been able to convince himself this was just a trick, but somehow he couldn't.
“You’re not the kind of person I can dissuade with simple threats of lawsuits and such and unfortunately you’re one-hundred percent human, so I can’t have you killed.” She seemed so casual in her speech. Like she was she was discussing what to have for dinner. “So I’m going to have to move the threats up a step.”
“How are you doing all this?” House found himself asking.
“Curiosity killed the cat, you know?” She smiled at him.
“But satisfaction brought it back*,” he told her, gathering his wits. “No one ever remembers the second half of the saying.”
“True, so here’s some knowledge. You’ve stumbled blindly into the middle of a war. It’s a war that’s been going on for a long time and will continue to go on for a long time coming. Note, we’re the good guys, so you’re lucky. The girl you treated was attacked by a virus that the bad guys created. I cured her using magick.”
“Magick doesn’t exist.” House told her.
“Whatever you want to believe is you’re business,” Willow shook her head at him. “But I can’t have you digging into mine or my girls’ lives, Dr. House. That’s just not going to work out. My girls are special, they’re heroes, and it’s my job to see that they stay hidden and safe so that they can do their job.”
“Bahhh,” House couldn’t seem to get a word out. As Willow spoke the air around him seemed to get more and more constricted, tightening in a thick band around his chest. It was hard to breath.
“Do you understand me, Dr. House?” Willow stood up. The room seemed to darken, shadows in the corners taking on a life of their own. Willow’s pupils constricted and her eye turned completely black. Her hair started to bleed black as well, covering the cheerful red. She thundered, “Do you understand that I would do just about anything to protect them, Dr. Gregory House?”
The words seemed to ring in his mind, pressing him down, and all he could do was cringe into his chair and nod frantically. House had never found himself this afraid of anything before. It was as if all his nightmares had come to life and attacked him.
“Good,” the light came back into the room and the air returned to his lungs, making him gasp, as Willow sat back down. She smiled at him, “I’m glad you get it, then.”
With a snap of her fingers the world returned to normal time. The fly continued on it’s path and Cameron scratched her itch. All as if nothing had happened. Chase coughed and brought House back to the real world.
“I think that explains everything,” Miss Rosenberg smiled sharply at House, “Don’t you, Dr. House?”
“Perfectly,” he managed to cough out. “Let’s go,” he told his team.
Ignoring the confusion on his team’s face House got up and let the girl who had let them in, escort them out. All the way back to the hospital he stared out the window of Chase’s car and ignored the questions of his team about what was going on. Eventually, they just put it off as being another of House’s eccentricities. Cuddy and Wilson, who had heard of the incident later, tried to pry the information out of him but got nothing. The whole incident faded from everyone else’s mind after a while. But it never faded from House’s.
“I just don’t get it,” Dr. Remy Hadley, or “Thirteen” as House called her, asked.
“Get what?” House asked, clicking the mouse on his desk, eyes on the screen.
“Why didn’t you take the case?” She persisted.
House’s eyes flicked down to the file containing the case in question, seven year old girl exhibiting weird symptoms. According to her parents she was experiencing vivid hallucinations at night, adrenaline rushes and increased aggression. They didn’t know what was going on. Cuddy had thought it weird enough to bring to him.
“Don’t worry,” House clicked his mouse again after typing a few lines. He'd never been able to force himself to go looking after his meeting with Willow, panic would well up every time he thought about it, but his keen sense of observation had put a few things together over the years. “She’ll be fine. I sent her file on to the people it needs to go to.”
“What?” Hadley asked, stumped.
“Some things, Thirteen,” he dragged the e-copy of the file over to a file on his desk marked ‘Mystery’ and turned to look her in the eye. She saw something in them that she never thought she’d see there, fear. “Some things are simply meant to remain a mystery.”
Whew! That one's been blocking up my head for the past couple weeks. Maybe now that I got it out I can focus on the big one. More than likely though, it'll just get filled up with another.
I love this show, House. All the characters are so intrguing, simply because they are so human. I don't know, people see 'flaws' as a bad thing. I like to think that they're what makes people interesting individuals. (I could just be saying this because I have so many of them, however!;)
*thanks to enderverse for catching this;)