Bluebird of Happiness

Ruthless Bunny

House hated clinic. It was one of those immutable laws of nature, like gravity or inertia. Yet here he was babysitting hypochondriacs on one of the prettiest spring days he had ever seen. It's not like he was going to frolic in the daffodils, but he'd much rather be outdoors, perhaps at a baseball game or just watching the girls in their summer dresses.

He turned his attention to the young man before him. He assessed him before he even had a chance to speak to him. Tall, blond, robust and he seemed to exude happiness, a strange combination for a clinic patient. Most patients were dour, out of sorts with worry or sickness. "So what seems to be the problem?"

The young man nodded and smiled, "no problem."

"Great! Then I'll just clear you out and get back to my needlepoint." House moved toward the door, waiting for the patient to stop him with the real reason for his visit to the clinic.

"Okay, thanks." He sat on the exam table, beaming.

House reached for the door just as a young woman bustled in, nearly knocking him over in her enthusiasm. "So is the damn doctor here yet?" she demanded.

"Yes, the damned doctor is here, but he's a bit confused as to why he's here. Perhaps you can explain?" House checked her out. She was petite with dark brown hair pinned up with a hair clip used by most college students. Worry darkened her pretty features.

"I'm Courtney; this is Tim, my boyfriend. We went to a party a week ago and he's…changed since then." She blurted it all out.

House sat down on the stool that is a fixture in all doctors' offices. "I think we're going to be here a while."

Courtney gestured towards Tim, "Look at him, he's been grinning like that for a week. I mean that's not normal." It seemed obvious to her.

"So is his complaint that he's too happy?" He waited for her to realize how stupid it sounded.

She paced and chewed her lower lip. "Okay, we were at a party and I think he took something. At first I thought it was X, you know, because he was so….loving, but that wears off and he hasn't…" she paused with embarrassment "he hasn't had a headache, he hasn't puked and he hasn't come down. I'm worried, what if it gave him brain damage?"

House's interest was piqued, "Brain damage? Hmmm." He studied Tim more closely. After a thorough exam there were no obvious physical problems. No delayed reflexes, no disorientation, no mental or physical deterioration of any type. "Very odd." He considered what to do next. "Does he have insurance?"

"What?" Courtney was aghast at the crass question.

House rolled his eyes. "You kids and your ideals. He doesn't have any specific symptoms; all he is is happy. Not exactly a problem that justifies a round of expensive diagnostic testing, I mean, between the student loans that he's racked up and the splurging he's done on his first Visa card, Tim here has enough debt to worry about without going into hock with the hospital as well. If he has insurance, well, that's another story, we'll spare no expense."

Tim cleared his throat and reached for his wallet, "Blue Cross okay?" He proffered the card.

"Right then, let's do…," he grew thoughtful, "a PET scan to start with and we'll draw blood to see if we can determine what exactly it was that he took, that is unless you happen to have a tablet of the stuff." He waited. More embarrassed shuffling.

Tim reached into his pocket and withdrew a packet. It was an origami bird, when unfolded revealed a small egg shaped tablet. "They're called 'Bluebirds'."

House considered the bundle, "Good marketing. We'll still take blood, just to be on the safe side. Hang tight, you'll be here a while, I hope you brought something good to read."

Tim produced a well worn copy of P.G. Wodehouse's 'Very Good, Jeeves'. "I'm covered."

Within a week, more students came into the clinic with the same 'problem'; never-ending euphoria. There was concern at the University that this might be a permanent type of brain damage and the Diagnostic Team tested patients and tried to understand the cause.

House leaned on his cane and wielded the marker as he ticked off lines on the whiteboard. "So let's talk about what we do know. We know that these 'Bluebirds' are similar to Ecstasy in that they produce euphoria, but without the effects wearing off. We know that the PET scans show intense stimulation of the pleasure center of the brain, similar to that of cocaine, without actually killing off brain cells, as coke does. What about the tablets themselves."

Chase rustled his paperwork, "We put these through rigorous testing. It appears that the guy who made these was aiming for X, and got this instead. It has the same active ingredients, but instead of the usual starches used as inert ingredients, it seams that he's found one that goes into the brain and stays there. It looks like a nice, gentle buzz." He smiled.

House appealed to Foreman, a man not given to silliness. "What about long term effects?"

Foreman shrugged, "We test them daily. They retain whatever mental acuity they always had and it hasn't impaired their ability to learn new things. They are themselves, just happy and horny."

"Is this a new miracle drug then? The proverbial 'happy pill'? Take one and you don't have any more problems, except the problem of finding someone to schtup? Sign me up." House winced in pain, his morning Vicodin was wearing off and he fished around in his pocket for his bottle. He popped the pill, unaware of the irony, and continued, "I don't believe it, there's something inherently…creepy about this. We need to continue to monitor the group, and we need to understand exactly what this pill does, how it does it, and what to do to counteract it."

Cameron looked up from her charts, "Why? What's so bad about being happy? Maybe this drug is a breakthrough for depression and it might give us clues to other psych problems."

"It's like the car that runs on water. It's an urban legend, it can't exist. You don't get something for nothing. You don't just take a pill and become happy. There's a cure for this. Like Narcan for opiates. Now, let's get to the bottom of this and get these kids back to normal." He thought for a moment, "let's try Narcan, and see if it does anything. I'm going to sit with them and see if there's another explanation for this."

After he limped out the doctors scribbled their notes. Cameron sighed, "Trust House to try and find a cure for happiness."

House found the affected students in a large conference room. In the middle of the table sat a picked-over platter of sandwiches and a few cups of soda. Someone had figured out the A/V system and music played quietly in the background. The students did their homework as they waited for further instructions from the hospital staff. A couple was necking in the corner.

"So who's the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi here?" House asked crankily. The heads bobbed up and he could see their insipid smiles. "Right, all of you. I have questions; it will help us help you if you answer them truthfully. You in the corner. This isn't the Motel 6. Let's take a quick poll, how many of you first got the drug at a party?"

All responded in the affirmative. "Good to know that you all aren't wasting your valuable college years in the library. How many of you had alcohol at that party?" Again hands in the air. "You're all over twenty-one?" A giggle traveled around the room. "I didn't think so. What kind of alcohol?" He pointed at a student at the distant end of the table.

"There was a keg, so I had a beer. Um…a shot luge, so some red, sweet stuff and….what was that stuff in the bathtub? Oh! Purple Jesus punch." He smiled sweetly. "I think that's it."

House looked askance, "And you didn't lose any IQ points? Amazing. So at what point did you get the Bluebird?"

"I was sitting on the couch and a buddy of mine said that he had scored some X. So I took it. That was between the shots and the Purple Jesus." He added helpfully.

"Tell me what you remember about the effects." House sat down and pulled the platter towards him, thumbing through the sandwiches. He settled on a turkey on whole wheat.

"At first I thought it was a dud. I didn't feel sick, or dizzy."

House swallowed, "So that's when you decided to check out the punch?" He reached for one of the cups of soda.

The kid smiled, "Yeah, I got thirsty so I got some punch. I drank that and then I started to feel really good. Not just high y'know? But loose and happy. There were some really pretty girls there and I remember thinking how cool it was that God made women so beautiful, so I decided to see if there was anyone who wanted to hook up."

House nodded, mentally logging all the variables that might have contributed to the reaction that the kids were all enjoying. "So did you?"

"Did I what?" The kid asked.

"Hook up. Get laid. Hide the salami. Get your freak on. Have sex. Did someone take pity on you?"

Again, a smile, "Oh yeah, and it was AWESOME!"

"Thanks!" two of the girls answered simultaneously, and then they giggled.

"Oh Christ." House rolled his eyes.

"You know, maybe you should try it, you're sort of harshing our buzz here," a kid in a ratty sweater and cargo pants observed.

"Harshing your buzz? Is it possible to do that? What else harshes your buzz?" House leaned forward, eager to hear of something that diminished the effects of the drug.

"Psyche! Not really dude, but you need to mellow out, you're always so grouchy."

"You'd be grouchy too, if you were me." House muttered.

One of the cuddle twins came over and rubbed his leg, "Is it because of the pain?"

House moved her hand from his thigh. "Enough about me, I want to know about you. So let's imagine that something has 'bummed' you out. How does that effect how you feel?"

"Amber, of course it's the pain, that's why he's got the Vicodin." Her friend replied, ignoring House.

"Dude, you take Vicodin? Sweet! I had that after a skateboard accident; that stuff rocks!"

The discussion devolved into a comparison of drugs and their effects.

"HEY!" House bellowed, "Focus. I need to know what this drug does so that I can help you, so lets get back to…" his pager went off. "Damn! Don't go anywhere, I'm coming right back. And don't touch my sandwich; I'm not finished with it."

He left to deal with a small crisis. Tim smiled and watched him disappear around a corner. "I think we should turn him on."

They all laughed, "That would be hilarious." Amber observed, "I wonder what kind of kisser he is."

Angela, her friend squealed, and admitted, "He's got pretty eyes, but he's like, as old as your Dad."

Jorge, who had been quiet up until now, commented, "An older guy can teach you things. Things worth knowing."

"Dude, seriously?" The skater asked.

"Yeah, it's deep." He affirmed. "I can show you." Jorge offered.

"Cool." Skater-boy nodded.

Tim reached into his backpack, "I had been saving this one, but I don't think I need it." He unwrapped the bird shaped, blue packet and produced the tablet. "I'm sharing this with our friend House." He dropped it into the plastic cup containing the soda House had been drinking.

When House returned he found the kids speculating on his sexual preference. Amber seemed to be the most intent on getting to the bottom of it. "I think he's got a thing for that female doctor, Cameron. So that makes him straight." She pronounced.

Jorge laughed, "or Bi at least. Wouldn't that be cool? A little for everyone!"

House blushed and took a sip of his soda. "Let's get back to our discussion. What harshes your buzz?"

Amber sidled up to him, "You are very cute, in a craggy kind of way. So, like, what would a girl need to do to get close to you?"

House moved away from her, using his cane as a tool for creating distance, "this is as close as I like to be to my patients."

Amber sulked, "you're mean."

"Yes I am. So you're rejected. Tell me how you feel." House prodded her.

Amber smiled, "well, I'm disappointed, but that's life," she shrugged, "I'll go home and take care of my own business." She winked.

The Skater touched her hand, "can I help?"

House sighed, "You aren't being very helpful to me." He finished his soda. "Get out all of you, we're done for today, stop at the clinic for some new medications. I'll see you all tomorrow afternoon. Shoo! Shoo!"

They gathered their things and each tried to make eye contact with him as they left, he deliberately found his shoes fascinating. He was still contemplating his Nikes when he felt a presence at his back. "I'm not going to screw you, so you can just…" He turned around and found Cuddy staring at him.

"Oh, sorry, I thought you were…"

She shook her head, "I don't even want to know."

He got up, "No. You don't. I'm really puzzled by this. The only thing similar to it is that case in California with the heroin addicts." They walked down the hall towards his office.

"These are university students, not heroin addicts, how are the situations similar?" Cuddy headed back to her office.

"You have people taking an illegal substance for the express purpose of getting high. The drug does not work as expected and it has a lasting and permanent effect on the user. Pretty much exactly the same."

Cuddy thought back to her journals, "that was in 1982 and the permanent effect was Parkinson's disease. These kids appear to be relatively unharmed, if there's no long term effect. They also appear to have benefited from the experience. Not really the same."

"Okay, okay, there are some kinks to work out in my analogy. In the case of the Parkinson's, there was MPTP in the heroin. If I can figure out what caused the X to morph into…what we would call this… the Bluebird of Happiness, then maybe we'll know how to reverse it. It's not natural." He stopped in the hall, making her stop too.

"House, all I want is an assurance that the effects aren't harmful. That's all the university wants and all the kids' parents want. So far, is there anything that indicates that this drug is harmful?" Cuddy tapped her foot impatiently.

House stared down at it and admired her shoes. High heels. "Oh, yes, after an exhaustive battery of tests we can confirm that the drug is not harmful. Except for the preoccupation with sex. Speaking of which…it's been awhile hasn't it?" He gave her a meaningful look.

Cuddy stared into his steel blue eyes and felt herself melt. It had been too long. As she well knew, House was dangerous; and if she had to admit it, delicious. "Dream on." She hightailed it to her office, leaving him to watch her lab coat as it swayed from side to side.

"Boy, I really could go for some of that." He turned around and headed towards his office. "Huh, it's been a while since I've been led around by my gonads. I wonder what Cameron is doing." He turned around and went searching for his Immunologist.

Twenty minutes later he had tracked her down in the Clinic. She had been supervising the injection of Narcan. The last of the patients had left and she made her notes, unaware of House's intense interest in her handwriting. He cleared his throat.

Allison turned around and saw her boss staring at her, "yes?"

"Can I speak with you in my office?" He smiled at her.

Allison, puzzled and intrigued followed him around the corner. She watched as he closed the blinds and locked the door…for privacy? "T-th-the injections went well, no one had any reaction. Positive or otherwise." Her back was to him as she spoke and she could feel his eyes boring into her from behind.

House moved so that he was just a few centimeters away from her, not quite touching, but close to touching. "I don't really care about that right now Allison, I didn't think it would work, but I like to look busy for my bosses. Now, about you…"

She drew her breath in quickly, if it wasn't completely impossible she would think that he was coming on to her. "Me?"

"You. You once asked me if I liked you and I said that I didn't. I lied." He smiled at her.

"You're smiling." Allison tried to back up, but found herself penned in with chairs, his cane and his person.

"Am I? Interesting, I don't smile that often. But enough about me, I want to know about you, tell me the name of the first boy you ever kissed." He pushed a lock of her hair behind her ear.

"What?" Allison had often speculated about his approach, but never expected that he would be so aggressive.

"Who got your first, sweet kiss? I've often imagined that it was some tow-headed lad with a lisp. Someone you could pity. Like me. Do you pity me?" He turned her around so that she could look him in the eye.

"Pity you?" She did a little, but mostly she just worshipped him. "I don't pity you."

"No? Huh. Damn. So if not pity, what will it take to get you to make love to me?" He pulled her close, inhaling the fragrance of her hair, "Mmm. You smell good."

"Dr. House!" Allison objected. She pulled away from him.

"Greg. Call me Greg when I'm kissing you. You can save the doctor part for when we're working together." His eyes smoldered while he looked at her.

"What's wrong with you? You're my boss!" Allison barked her shin on one of his chairs as she tried escape.

"Oh. Are you going to accuse me of inappropriate sexual behavior? I mean, you'd be well within your rights, but I was sort of hoping to capitalize on that crush you have on me. It could be special." He leaned on his cane and waited for her to answer.

"Crush?" Allison blushed.

"Do you deny that you have a crush on me?"

Allison took a deep breath, "It's none of your business."

"That's your position is it? Perhaps you're right. It is none of my business, but you can't deny that you don't fantasize about this sometimes. You know, I suddenly turn into a completely different person and take you in my arms, call you my 'little peanut' and then we dissolve in a mist of kissing and…."

"STOP!" Allison felt a tear slide down her cheek, "God, you can be such a prick sometimes."

"I thought I was a prick all of the time. I must be losing my edge. Look, do you want to screw or not? Seriously, I think it could be fun." He sat in his desk chair and waited for her answer. He spun around in it.

"What is wrong with you?" Allison's anger turned to concern.

"Is something wrong with me? Does something have to be wrong with me? I'm a man, you're a woman. Do the math. All the parts fit. Maybe I'm just horny." He startled himself. "Allison, I'm horny."

"I get that. You also seem….happy."

House considered for a moment. "They doped me. Those addle-headed, lotus-eaters put something in my drink."

"They gave you a Bluebird?" She giggled. "They experimented on you for a change."

"Son of a bitch." He was lost in thought for a moment, then he shrugged, "its water under the bridge now. So what do you think of my proposition?"

"You're under the effects of a drug we don't understand, you're horny and happy and you want to make love to me?"

"Good summation. Quit stalling, yes or no. If its no, I've got to work on my options."

"What if I say yes? What's in it for me?"

"That's my girl! I have it on good authority that older guys can teach you things worth knowing." He fixed her with a disquieting stare.

She gulped, if what she had learned academically from him was any indication, he had quite a bit to teach. "It's an intriguing offer."

"It's obvious that you want to say yes. I'm harder than Chinese algebra right now, so just tell me what I have to say to get your panties off."

"Is this drinks, dinner and a movie stuff, or is it just sex?" Allison decided to claim some power; she got dizzy thinking about the possibilities.

"Oh, it's definitely just sex, no romance whatsoever. I'd have you sign a waiver, but that would take too long, you'd want to read it and all. Does it mess with your fantasy for it to be just sex?" He adjusted himself as he spoke.

Allison deliberated; her body ached with desire but her brain screamed at her to get away from the situation. Her brain lost, "Oh, what the hell?"

"Great, I've already scoped out a room we can use. Does it bother you that a guy died in there?" He grabbed his cane and unlocked the door with shaky hands.

Allison preceded him out of the office, "That describes every room in the hospital."

"Wait, we've got to go to Radiology."

"Why?" Allison was afraid she'd lose her nerve.


"Radiology?" Allison asked; then she remembered, "Oh, right, they use them on some of the instruments. Forget that; let me get to my locker." She ran the short distance down the hall and returned cramming something in her pocket.

"You have condoms? You vixen." House teased as they made their way to the empty room.

"I don't have condoms, but Chase does. I know the combination to his locker." She smiled smugly at her resourcefulness.

"Who doesn't? 36-24-36." House opened the door to room 209 and flipped the curtain aside. "Help me up; these things are so far off the ground."

Alison let him lean against her as he clumsily hoisted himself into the bed. He lay back and assessed her expectantly. His gaze went from her now disheveled hair to her bright eyes, her lips smiled softly at him and her neck was long and elegant. Her body promised him softness and pleasure, but it was her face that enjoyed looking at the most. He wanted to know her secret expressions.

"What?" Allison grew self-conscious, "is something wrong?"

"Everything is wrong. This is dangerous business. That door doesn't lock and that's just the beginning. Wow, are you beautiful, now get naked."

"You first." She waited for him, just in case it was a cruel joke.

"Fine, promise you won't laugh?" He took off his shirt without unbuttoning it and then he peeled off his pants. "Now you."

She reached into her pocket and grabbed the foil wrapped packages. She placed them on the tray next to the bed.

"You got more than one? Optimistic." He started to open one. "If I wanted a stripper I would have gone to The Cheetah, come on, hurry up."

She shed everything but her bra and panties. He was surprised to note that she wore yellow lace. She hopped up and he embraced her. "Now we're talking."

Luckily, they were uninterrupted for the next two hours.

House stayed behind to watch General Hospital and Allison returned to her duties. Just as the credits rolled Wilson poked his head in. "House, you in here?"

"What do you think?" He lay back in the bed, his clothes still scattered on the linoleum floor.

"What's all this?" Wilson's gaze went from the piles of clothing to his friend in the bed, looking positively elated.

"Just a bit of afternoon delight. I don't suppose I could get you to go fetch me a coke, Oprah's about to come on, I think she's going to have Tom Cruise on." He settled back on the pillows and smiled.

"Greg? What's going on? Are you alright?"

House sighed, "You're my friend; I can trust you."

Wilson smiled, "Yes, I'm your friend. So what's up?"

"You know the Bluebirds we've been studying? Well, I'm doing some personal research."

Wilson was shocked, even for House; that was a bit much, "You took a Bluebird as an experiment? Are you crazy?"

House rubbed his leg, which had begun to throb, it was hours past time for his pain killers. "No, the kids drugged me without my knowledge. Root around in my pants and see if you can't find my pills."

Wilson bent down and tossed the pants to House. "I love you but we're not that close."

"Fine, have it your way, although I'm intrigued by this love you claim to have for me. Care to prove it in a meaningful way? I mean, I've never known the love that dares not speak its name, but I'm not opposed to experimentation."

"I'm not going anywhere near that. Literally or figuratively. So what are you going to do about being under the influence?" He watched as House downed a pill.

"As long as I'm here I guess I'll go along for the ride. One thing I now know is that while I am mildly euphoric, it's not doing a thing to help my pain. I'll see if Foreman can do something with that information. In the meantime, I guess I'll just prowl the halls looking for my next conquest, the horniness aspect of this thing is really distracting." He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and waited for some help.

Wilson gathered up House's things and piled them at the foot of the bed, "Your next conquest? Who was your first, or don't I want to know?"

House pondered, "A gentleman never tells. Neither do I. Now, mes gants, mon chapeau, et le whangee de monsieur."

The next afternoon the students were met by a slightly different Dr. House than the one they had left the previous day.

"First of all, I am not amused, not amused at all. I could have you up on charges for assault. What were you thinking by slipping me a Bluebird?" He was trying to be serious, but they were all so adorable.

Amber giggled, "We wanted you to be happy, you're kind of a miserable guy."

House didn't know what to do with that. It never occurred to him that the kids were trying to do something nice for him. "Oh."

Tim smiled, "You're worried about us, you want us to be healthy and safe, that's really nice. We just wanted you to be happy like we are."

"So you've infected me with your disease? Next time send a Hallmark." He shook his head, what was wrong with this generation?

"So what's it like? Did you get any?" Skater dude asked.

"That's not important." House said, trying to turn the conversation back to his analysis of symptoms and possible side effects.

Angela laughed, "Oh he got some. Dr. Cameron has a BIG smile on her face."

House blanched. Was it that obvious? Thankfully his pager went off and he escaped into the hall.

Cameron and Chase met him there, both were burbling with excitement. "We isolated it!"

"Isolated it? So you know what it is?" House moved with them towards the conference room.

He walked in and there was a chemical diagram on the whiteboard. He studied the structure. "Wow, that really is nearly Ecstasy, all except for this here." He circled the one, rogue bond. "How close are we to an antidote?"

Foreman wiggled a vial of clear liquid. "I think this is it. How do we test it?"

House sat down, "we could get a little mouse high, then we could bring him down, or you can just give me some. I'll be your clinical trial."

Foreman looked shocked, "You took a dose?"

"Inadvertently." House explained.

"But you're not…I mean…Uh, okay." Foreman needed to blot the perspiration from his brown.

"I know, I'm not all lovable and kind and I'm not out chasing My Pretty Pony in a meadow. Apparently this drug doesn't alter your personality, once a dick, always a dick, it's just that I'm happier about the whole thing. No real benefit to the rest of the world. Well I've got work to do. It's distracting having such a sunny disposition. Cameron, how do you do it? Oh, never mind, just give me some of the antidote and let me get back to work."

Chase cleared his throat, "antidote? Have they…you…been poisoned?"

House fiddled with the end of his cane. "Yes. People poison themselves all the time, too much sugar, too much alcohol, I won't even go into the licit and illicit drugs that people consume like so many tic-tacs, speaking of which," he reached into his pocket for his pills, "at any rate, it's not natural for people to be that happy for a prolonged length of time."

Foreman, as ever was the devils advocate for medical ethics, "what if they don't want to take it? What if they want to stay in their euphoric state?"

"Well they can't. I'm giving them the antidote and that's that."

"Isn't it their choice? Don't they get a say?" Cameron chimed in.

"No. Do we give them a say when they're freaking out on PCP? Do we give them a say when they're addicted to heroin?" He swallowed his pill.

"But those drugs threaten their health. From what we can tell, this drug is completely harmless."

"No it isn't. Any time you alter a perfectly good consciousness you are tampering with what your body intends."

"What about depression?" Foreman again.

"Depression has origins in chemical imbalance. When we prescribe for that, we're fixing something broken. This drug is being used for recreation only. If they want to get happy, let them go to Disneyland. That's recreation enough. Let's get this going. Work out a dose and let's get me back to normal." Foreman and Chase left to prepare a syringe.

Allison looked at him, "Greg, I'm going to miss you."

"What do you mean?" He sat back and looked into her moist eyes.

"I liked you unguarded, free, uninhibited. Now, you'll go back to…" She stopped and took a deep breath.

"That's my point. I am the same person I always was. What happened, well, sure, the horniness prompted it, but everything I said, that was what I thought and felt. Trust me, you wouldn't want me anyway, I'm old, I'm set in my ways and I don't keep cats." He averted his eyes, he had hurt her and that was the last thing he wanted. "Hey, none of this, you signed a waiver, remember?"

"I lied." She left before the tears rolled.


The antidote worked, and rather than being upset, the students were happy to be returned to their normal lives. Tim found Dr. House in his office. "Hey, are you busy?"

"As a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest." House looked up at him.

"I just wanted to thank you and apologize for drugging you too." He extended his hand.

House stood up to shake, "You had the best of intentions, just stay away from homemade drugs."

"You know, they never did figure out how that batch got messed up. They can't repeat it either."

"So the whole thing dies off and we're the only ones to have experienced it?"

"Yeah, and there aren't any more left either. Well, except for this one." Tim handed him the blue origami package. "In case of emergency." He smiled.

"Uh, thanks. I think." He placed it carefully on the edge of his desk. He might need it some day.