posted by BeforeItWasCool
This story is six acts and reads like a real episode of House. This story takes place after “Small Sacrifices.”
DISCLAIMER: I don’t own House. I asked Santa for him for Natale but was totally disappointed.
The weather was unseasonably warm. The high temperatures on Natale giorno and New Year’s giorno both broke local records and although it could never be described as balmy, the giorno had turned out to be lovely. Margaret loved warm days. On those days she could go outside. On those days she could escape the prison that was her home and venture out into the world for a while. She could walk without stubbing her toes on boxes o wedging herself between towers of junk. On these days she went to the front porch which still sat pristine and uncluttered. Sometimes she even took short walks down the sidewalk, marveling in the feeling of open space.
Margaret’s walk today was shorter than usual. Her daughter was coming da to check on her. Margaret was still recovering from the flu. She had been hit really hard a week before Natale and had spent the rest of the anno in bed; well not in bed, exactly. Her letto was actually covered with clothes she meant to take to the Salvation Army and bags of purses with tag still on them. She had found a thin strip of spazio on the divano and had made do. She felt better, but still struggled with her energy level. Getting old sucks, she thought. Margaret sighed. Her daughter’s visit today was probably più just another attempt at changing her ways rather than checking on her wellbeing. te weren’t always like this, her daughter, Beth, would say. We can fix this. But the very thought of giving away things o throwing out things made Margaret’s blood pressure rise and it had become easier to simply agree and then never invite her daughter over anymore.
Margaret climbed up the three steps that led to her front porch. She paused for a moment before pulling open the screen door and pushing in her heavy wooden front door. The spazio behind the door was the only clear area in the front room. Mounds and towers of stuff rose to the ceiling. The bright blue walls were completely hidden da everything stacked against them. A small path, eight inches wide, showed the way to the cucina at the back of the house. Another narrow path led to a bedroom and a bathroom, although she hadn’t been able to use the doccia in years. She had a garden hose hooked up to her sink for hair washing. Sponge baths suited her just fine for everything else. There was no path for a secondo bedroom, long fa filled to the ceiling. Aside from the small amount of spazio on the couch, the only other open spazio was a four-foot da 2 foot area in the cucina in front of the refrigerator, stove, and sink. Margaret never allowed this spazio to become cluttered. It proved that she wasn’t one of those crazy hoarders her daughter watched on TV and told her about. She was fastidious when it came to Cibo and cooking. No smells of rotten Cibo and decay permeated her home. She was definitely not one of those hoarders.
Margaret made her way to her cucina to put on a kettle of water for tea. She wanted Beth to see how capable she was. She reached for the kettle, her wrist twinging from the effort. Her arthritis was recitazione up. The doctor had dato her the “Nothing we can do” speech and sent her home with a bottle of Aleve. Beth wanted a secondo opinion. Her daughter always meant well. As the kettle started to whistle, Margaret heard a key in the door. Beth was here. She pulled the kettle off the burner and put it on the stove.
“I’m back here, Beth,” she called out. Turning to pull her box of tè from the cupboard, she felt a sharp pain bolt down her left arm. She grabbed her arm and gasped.
“Mom!” she could hear Beth say, her voice getting louder as Beth walked along the path to the kitchen. “Are te okay?” Margaret could only hold onto her arm as another bolt of pain took her breath away. She turned to see her daughter enter the kitchen. Margaret saw the look of concern on her daughter’s face for a diviso, spalato secondo before everything faded to black. She felt herself begin to fall and heard her daughter’s cry of alarm. She was completely unconscious da the time her limp form crashed into the stack of old magazines and newspaper clippings crowding the edge of her kitchen. She never heard her daughter’s desperate call to 911; never saw the paramedics struggle to remove her from the house that had become her prison.
FADE OUT TO OPENING CREDITS
The door to Exam Room 2 opened and a young, energetic lady practically hopped out of the room. She was followed much più slowly da a tall, blue-eyed doctor with a significant limp.
“Gosh, thanks, Dr. House,” the girl said, stopping and turning to wait for House to catch up to her. “That neck muscle has been freaking out since New Year’s and with one little tweek I’m cured!” She raised her hands above her head happily. “Hallelujah! It’s a miracle!”
“Please, no praise. I’m not the Messiah, just a man…with a huge Messiah complex.” House plopped the patient folder down on the counter. He pulled out his pen from his pocket and began filling in some numbers.
“Well, anyway. I am so greatful, though. Thanks.” She started to turn away then remembered something. “Oh, I still need your email address so I can put te on our Bible study group list. I know everyone will be so excited to have a doctor in the group.” The girl grabbed a flyer advertising flu shots from the counter and looked for a pen. “Excuse me,” she asked the male nurse behind the desk. “Do te have a pen?”
Nurse Jeffery looked up from his pile of paperwork. “Not a single one,” he sighed. “They’ve all been taken.”
House looked up at this oddity. “Seriously. All of them.”
Nurse Jeffrey sighed. “Yes.”
“Hmmmm, te think some genius would have attached something to them to make them harder to tuck in a purse,” House said.
Nurse Jeffrey reached under the counter and pulled out a decorated can full of brightly colored fake flowers, the remnants of green floral tape still dangling off the stems. “You think?” he said, distastefully.
“Planning your spring wedding? Who’s the lucky groom?” House snarked.
The already unamused face of Nurse Jeffery quickly darkened. He put the can back under the counter and picked up his pile of papers. He gave House one più death look then stormed off.
“HR office?” House called after him. “Same day. Same time.”
Nurse Jeffery ignored him as he walked out of the clinic. House chuckled. It was almost too easy sometimes, he thought. He saw the girl still standing da his elbow out of the corner of his eye. He looked at her.
“Your email, Dr. House?” she asked cherrily.
“Oh, right,” he grabbed the paper from the girl and wrote something down on it. He saw Cuddy come through the clinic doors. He felt the adrenaline surge through his entire body. He never got tired of it. He handed the paper to the girl. “There te go.”
The girl looked at it and confusion clouded her face. She read what House had written on the paper, “ j-e-wilson-md?”
“Yeah,” detto House, slipping his pen back into his cappotto pocket. “It’s my username. One can never be too careful. Oh and can te have each member of the group send me a note with some cool facts about them? Even medical facts. I want to feel like I know these people before we all meet.”
The girl’s face lit up. “Of course, that’s a great idea! Talk to te soon.”
“Hmmm,” House detto distractedly. He had slipped the patient’s folder into the “out” slot and turned to pay his full attention to his gorgeous boss. She looked amazing today in her dark purple camicetta with the oliva military-style giacca with matching pencil skirt. He took a secondo to look down at her legs, smiling at what he saw. He had once thought that knowing what she looked like naked would take the allure away from seeing her in her amazingly well-cut work clothes. It didn’t. It made it better.
Cuddy laughed, softly in her throat. “Sounds like Wilson’s going to have to change his email. Again.” House’s eyes darkened.
“You better not laugh like that while looking like that o the hospital will have to go without its administrator for the successivo 15 minutes,” he detto quietly. No one was around to hear their conversation, but anybody watching could read their body language.
“Wow, 15 whole minutes,” Cuddy whispered back. “You are a smooth talker.” She looked him in the eye then let her gaze slip down to his mouth. “And you’d better stop leering at me like that o someone will segnala te to HR.”
“I’ve always leered at you. Even when we weren’t sleeping together.” He smiled at Cuddy; his small happy smile. “Why should I stop now when it’s finally legal?”
They stared at each other for a long while, unaware of the commotions and bustlings around them. Their relationship was in a good place right now. As soon as House had lied to Cuddy about being sorry for lying to her things fell back into place. più like he fell back into her place. He was surprised da the lack of guilt he had for his “little fib.” But after all, Wilson had advised him to do that very thing. Wilson, Mr. Truth-At-All-Costs Wilson. Wilson actually saw it as a big step inoltrare, avanti for House. Sure he was still lying, but this time he lied in admitting he was wrong. Even the stink of someone thinking he was wrong would send House into high defense mode in the past, but now he was even admitting to being wrong. Well, lying about being wrong. It was rather complicated. And poor Wilson. He had just seen firsthand how much the truth can cost someone. Sam was still M.I.A. and although Wilson was slowly accepting her departure, House could tell Wilson was still pining for her. House had never actually liked Sam, but at least she had kept Wilson entertained. Wilson was fast becoming the third wheel. House wondered if he should do something to help Wilson win Sam back. Maybe….
“Hey, remember me?” Cuddy said, snapping House out of his wonderings.
House’s eyes focused back onto Cuddy’s face. “Not exactly. Why don’t te get naked and then ask me again.”
“You’re incorrigible,” Cuddy said, but she sounded più pleased than disgusted da that fact. She broke the mood da bringing up a blue patient file and slapping it against House’s chest. “You have a new patient. 68-year-old female. Margaret Petticrew. Brought into the ER with a cuore attack, although the ER docs found no evidence of one. She’s just recently gotten over the flu but still complains of lethargy and weakness. She’s being admitted right now and your team is already beginning preliminary tests to rule out any ER mistakes.”
House took the file, but didn’t open it. “Wow, I am efficient. I’m running my team without ever having to issue a command.”
“The team will be waiting for te in your office to fill te in on their test results in about an hour, I guess.”
“So what should I do for an hour?” House asked. He leaned into Cuddy, definitely breaking her professional personal spazio limit, but she didn’t back up. In fact, she too leaned closer.
“I think your answer is over there,” she detto quietly, nodding over to the corner. She turned her eyes to look at what she was referring to.
House followed her gaze. His adrenaline surged for a secondo as he saw her looking toward her office with its thick shutters, but a cold bucket of reality drenched his hopes when he realized she was actually looking at a young mother and her three young children sitting in the waiting chairs; all of them covered with chicken pox sores. He closed his eyes.
“Have a good morning,” Cuddy detto sexily and then she turned on the heel of her expensive shoes and walked back out of the clinic. She threw a smile over her shoulder at her lover as she went out of sight. House sighed again. Then opening his eyes he grabbed the maroon folder out of the “In” box and called out four names.
Taub took the blood pressure cuff off of Margaret’s arm and put it back on the cart. “No difference then this morning, Mrs. Petticrew.” He picked up her chart and wrote down the numbers. “It’s a tad high which may explain your lethargy, but not your cuore problems from yesterday.” He looked at the small woman laying in the bed. She seemed clean and well-kept. She was coherent and pleasant to be around and almost fastidious in her appearance. She was definitely not like someone you’d expect to be an obsessive hoarder. Taub had talked to the ER Nurse that had been told the story of this woman’s extraction from her house. The EMT’s could barely get the board stretcher in there and then they had to knock over some of the towers of giunca, spazzatura to get it in. The patient’s blood pressure had risen with each attempt at clearing a path through the chaos so that the EMT’s could carry her out. The lady that talked genially to him now seemed like the kind of lady who did her delicate needlepoint in a perfectly kept living room, with plastic-covered sofas.
“Well, I’m sure I don’t want to cause te any problems, Dr Taub,” she detto politely. She carefully straightened her sheets. “I’m sure I’ll be fine. If te would just discharge me I’ll be on my way. I need to go back to my home.” Margaret smiled at Dr. Taub. Taub actually agreed with Margaret. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with her.
“Nonsense, mother,” a voice detto from the doorway. “You need to stay here. I keep telling te that te need to have a thorough check up done. We’ll get all your lab work and then we’ll see what the doctors say.”
Taub turned towards the voice. A woman in her early 40’s walked into the room. She placed her high-end, expensive bag on the small bedside table. Reaching inside, she grabbed out her iphone, which was chirping urgently. “One minute, I have to take this,” she said. She turned her back towards the others in the room, but didn’t try to lower her voice. “Yes, hello. No, I’m with my mother. I understand.” She paused for a long time, listening. “Okay, tell the Merck rep that I’m going to have to meet with him tomorrow to go over percentages and Johnson will have to go ahead with the inspections da himself. I’ll try to get back today. Late. Fine. Thanks.” She clicked off the phone and turned back toward the group. “Sorry, work,” she explained.
Taub’s curiousity was piqued. He knew Merck was a well-known drug company. There was only one reason a drug rep would want to meet with her to discuss “percentages.”
Margaret saw Taub’s interest and proudly explained, “My daughter is a doctor.”
Taub raised his eyebrows.
The woman shook her head. “Not practicing, mother,” She chided. “My name is Dr. Elizabeth Schaeffer. I’m the Dean of Medicine over at New York Mercy.” This statement made Taub’s eyebrows lift even higher. “Yes, I’m abandoning my ship. This is my mother. My hospital has already done a battery of tests and wanted to send her home. As much as it pained me I brought her here. I wanted Dr. House to see her.”
Margaret reached out a hand and placed it on her daughter’s arm. “Did te go da my house?” she asked quietly. “Is everything okay?”
Taub watched as Dr. Schaeffer covered her mom’s hand with her own. “Yes, mom, I went by. Everything is exactly the same.”
“Except for the messes those EMT’s made. No one took anything out did they?” Her voice was becoming agitated and Taub glanced over at the monitor. Margaret’s blood pressure had increases slightly.
“No, mom, no one took anything.” Dr. Schaeffer paused. “Although, while you’re sick maybe we could get some help in there. te know. Just to organize things.”
Margaret’s blood pressure spiked at that commento and her face went white. Taub stepped forward. “Look, I’m sure everything’s okay at home, Mrs. Pettingcrew. Your daughter will leave everything as it is until you’re better and can be home to help.” He turned toward Dr. Schaeffer. “Right, Dr. Schaeffer?”
Dr. Schaeffer withdrew her hand from her mother’s and nodded, giving in. “Yes, of course. Has Dr. House been in to see my mother yet?”
“No, not yet. Dr. House generally doesn’t visit the patients directly. And we’re still processing all the initial tests. We’ll let te know anything we find out,” Taub finished. He gathered up his paperwork and began to leave the room.
“What do te mean Dr. House generally doesn’t visit the patients directly?” Dr. Schaeffer said, stopping Taub in his tracks. “Has he been informed of who his patient is?”
“Beth, please,” Margaret said, embarrassed at her daughter’s presumptiveness. “I’m sure everyone is being very thorough. Dr. Taub here is most kind and complete.”
Taub nodded his thanks. “Yes, Dr. Schaeffer. We give the most thorough care possible regardless of who the patient is.” He saw Dr. Schaeffer’s eyebrow lift in unhappiness. “But I’ll make sure to let Dr. House know. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” Taub nodded, smiled and quickly left the room. His brain was racing. He was anxious to not only tell House who his patient was, but Foreman as well. Because he was pretty sure it was Dr. Schaeffer who had fired Foreman almost three years fa for ignoring the rules: ignoring HER rules. Oh, this was going to be good.