Author's Notes: This is my second foray into the 'House' fan fic world. It's an idea that turned into a story line which turned into a full-blown story. I'm going to continue with this for a bit, though I may also do another story based on another little thread located in this fic.
'Inside Out' is still on-going. I have my next chapter mostly hand written up. I just need to tweak.
House, M.D.: Dea Ex Machina
When Dulciana (Dulcie) Willis saw the memo, she nearly leapt for joy. An opportunity she had waited years for had finally come. When her assistant, Maggie Appleton, had said that she had some good news, Dulcie had been dubious. Reading the note, however, she found that it while it wasn't exactly 'good' news per say, to Dulcie, it was wonderful news. She looked up from the memo and turned her gaze to the photographs on her desk. One picture in particular caught her eye. It was of a newly minted 'Doctor and Chief of Medicine' Dulcie with her younger sister, Celeste. It was a happy time, one of the last they'd had together before Celeste was diagnosed with cancer. She'd held on for 5 hard years until she'd finally passed away.
The other doctors had said that the disease had been too voracious, but Dulcie had known better. Her sister had been allowed to die by the man mentioned in the memo on her desk. Well, she had to do something, and now seemed to be the time to do it. Edward Vogler had already tried to squeeze her hospital, and now he seemed to have another firmly in his grasp. She couldn't let another facility fall victim. Picking up the phone, she called one of her fellow female administrator colleagues, Dr. Lisa Cuddy.
"I need a favor," Lisa Cuddy said, shortly when Dr. Greg House limped into her office. House didn't sit down, but rather stayed standing, leaning on the cane he'd used after a leg infarction left him crippled. His scruffy face was weary—no doubt either a result of either his dealings with patients in the clinic or with Edward Vogler, the hospital's new Chairman of the Board.
"What kind of favor?" House asked. His desire to do any sort of favors for Cuddy had shrunk rapidly after Vogler had come on the scene. Any favors asked of House were automatically viewed as another hoop for him to jump through. Cuddy looked at House.
"Dulciana Willis. You know her?" House's attention perked slightly. Dulcie Willis was world-renown doctor. She'd been published in numerous medical articles. Her hospital in Maine had been well-known also until mysterious circumstances had caused a deep fall from grace.
"Yes," House said, brusquely. "I know her. But what does she have to do with me?"
"She's coming here for—I don't know. Visiting for some reason or other. I'm sticking her with you." House's blue eyes were penetrating. If he had to fire one of his team, then why was Cuddy getting a replacement? Or was there something else at work here?
"Sticking her with me. In what capacity? Is she going to be working in my department or are you having her stay in my apartment while she's here?"
"Both," Cuddy replied, sighing. "Look, she has some sort of history with Vogler. The two of you can commiserate. House, I need you to do this. Please?"
House considered for a moment before shrugging. "Fine. Tell her to come find me in my office when she gets in."
"Okay. 2:30 this afternoon it is."
House's eyes widened. "She's coming in today? What if I had said 'no'?" Cuddy's expression told him that she wouldn't have taken 'no' for an answer.
Dulcie strode through the hallways of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital to Dr. House's office. When she got to it, she stopped, staring in amazement. She had expected a neat, organized man wearing a pressed lab coat working on cases or paperwork, maybe classical music playing in the background. Instead, she saw a disheveled doctor with no lab coat, playing a GameBoy, and listening to Bryan Adams, his feet up on the desk.
She opened the door and walked in, somewhat tentatively. "Dr. House?"
He looked up and Dulcie found herself lost in his eyes. Those deep, beautiful, blue eyes. Amazing how clear the color was. Dulcie mentally slapped herself. No relationships right now, and certainly not with this man. Dulcie held out a hand. "Hello. I'm-"
"Dr. Dulciana Willis. Nice to meet you." Dulcie withdrew her hand. This guy wasn't into handshakes, apparently. Trying again to make conversation, she asked, "What game are you playing?"
Her interest made House's brain perk slightly. "'Last Chance'. Level 5."
Dulcie sat down and asked, "Which cop are you playing as?"
"If you go to the coffee shop on Main when you're low on points, you can get extra lives. Select 'espresso and a bear claw' from the counter." House saved his game and shut the system off.
"How do you know that?" he asked, curiously.
Dulcie grinned as she reached into her bag and pulled out her own GameBoy. "I've played a time or two." Putting the unit away, she said, "I expected someone a little more… organized. Especially with Vogler around. And I should tell you, he hates Bryan Adams."
House gave a rare smile. "So why don't you like him?"
Dulcie swallowed. "Because he killed my sister."
Unusual behavior was common place in House's office. But when Dr. Allison Cameron looked into her boss's office, she was more than shocked to see a tall, red-haired woman standing behind House, leaning over his shoulder, watching him play on his GameBoy. Every once in a while, she would point to something on the screen and a moment later, he would give her a look of slight amazement. Realizing that she was staring, Cameron sighed and opened the door, deciding to just get to the day's work. House and the mystery woman looked up. "Ahh, you must be Dr. Cameron," the woman said, coming up to her holding out her hand.
Cameron shook it, smiling. "And you are?"
The woman laughed, her green eyes, twinkling. "Dr. Dulciana Willis. But please call me 'Dulcie'. 'Dr. Willis' makes me sound like an actual professional." When Cameron heard the name 'Dr. Dulciana Willis' she mentally froze. What was going on? "And again," Dulcie said, "my reputation precedes me. Relax, Dr. Cameron. I'm just—handling some unpleasant business." No sooner had she said this than the 'unpleasant business' himself strode into the room. Dulcie's eyes flamed at the sight of Vogler. Vogler's eyes had the slightest flicker of recognition, but he quickly hid it.
"Dr. Willis. I was told you were coming. It's a pleasure to have you here." He held out his hand in a gesture of welcome, but Dulcie didn't take it. How dare he try to be all nice and polite when he was the reason her sister was dead!
"Yes, well. I have business to attend to. Excuse me." Dulcie pushed past Cameron and Vogler and headed out of the office. Hurrying down the steps, she stopped at the entrance to the out-patient clinic. Sinking to the ground, with her back to the wall, she pulled her legs up to her chest and hugged her knees. "Damn him. Damn the man."
"You're either talking about Dr. House or Vogler," said a deep male voice from beside her.
Dulcie looked around, then up. A handsome black doctor with deep brown eyes looked at her with concern. "Oh, I-I-I thought I was alone. Um, I-I'm…"
"Dr. Willis. Yeah, I know. I've seen your publications." The doctor held out a hand, and Dulcie took it, pulling herself up.
"And who are you?"
"Dr. Eric Foreman. I'm a neurologist." Dulcie composed herself, and then smiled. "It's nice to meet you, Dr. Foreman.'
"So which one has you upset: House or Vogler?"
"Vogler. It's… complicated." Foreman gave her a kind smile of his own.
"Well, I'm about to go for lunch. How about you come with me and try to explain?" Dulcie nodded. "I'd like that." Foreman offered his arm to her, and they headed downstairs to the cafeteria.
"What was that about?" Cameron asked when she and House were alone in the meeting room connected to House's office.
House poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table before answering. "Dulcie's sister died of cancer."
Cameron looked sympathetic, but still confused. "That's… sad, but what does that have to do with-"
"Willis blames Vogler. He wouldn't approve the drugs to help treat her sister, and she died."
"Wait, this was at-"
"-At Dulcie's hospital in Maine, yes." House fixed Cameron with a firm gaze. "Cameron, I know you want to know exactly what's going on, but I can't tell you. All I can say is that it's a very bad situation." Cameron nodded, still not really understanding. After a while, Dr. Robert Chase came in looking oddly at ease, considering that he could possibly be fired.
"I saw Cuddy in the hallway," Chase said as he got himself a cup of coffee from the pot on the counter. "She told me that Dulciana Willis was here. Any idea why?"
Cameron shrugged, but House actually replied. "No idea on specifics. Only that it has something to do with Vogler. Some problem about 5 years ago." Cameron raised her eyebrows at House who gave her a look of his own. Chase looked thoughtful. "Well, it should be interesting to work with her for a while. I should get going. Patients to see, and all that." And with that, he left, his coffee untouched. Cameron looked at Chase's mug, then at House who gave a miniscule nod.
Lisa Cuddy had many secrets. One, she enjoyed soap operas and watched 'Passions' on NBC almost religiously. Two, she did like Dr. Greg House, if only because she admired his tenacity and ability to get to the bottom of most medical mysteries. Three… she hated Vogler. Oh, she made a good enough show of being accommodating and liking him, but deep down, she agreed with House. Vogler had an agenda, and it was probably not one that would ultimately benefit the hospital. Vogler had Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in a tight grip—one that wasn't likely to be relaxed any time soon. When Dr. Willis called her, Cuddy felt that maybe this was a way to free her staff—more specifically the Department of Diagnostic Medicine—from Vogler's reign.
Cuddy was used to scheming. When the son of one of the hospital donors had come in with something resembling a strange version of pneumonia—in actuality the boy had leprosy—Cuddy knew that House was the only one who would be able to get to the bottom of it. But knowing his mood towards the families of donors, she knew she had to keep his attention on the case. So she'd asked a nurse to swipe House's newly filled prescription of vicodin, and then hide one of the pills in his office. Then Cuddy had made her bet with House. If he couldn't find the pill by the time she was done presenting the case, he'd have to take it. Otherwise, she'd leave it alone. That plan had worked like a charm. The stranger aspects had started to get House's interest just as he found his wayward painkiller.
This time, however, she was dealing with bigger, more dangerous fish. Vogler wasn't as easy to satiate. She'd have to be cautious, and crafty. More importantly, she'd have to plan without Vogler knowing she was plotting against him. That was why she had put House and Willis together. If they couldn't come up with a plan, no one could.
"So Vogler said that he couldn't get the treatment for financial reasons?" Foreman asked, as Dulcie filled him in on her history.
Dulcie nodded, sadly. "We had the money. But he wouldn't let Celeste be treated. The wo-worst was when Celeste asked me—every damn day—why she couldn't be treated. And I had to lie to her—every damn day. I told her that the other hospital couldn't send it, that tests had shown her cancer was too severe… On the day she died, I told her the truth. I told her I tried, but that Vogler had… He killed her," Dulcie, said, her eyes tearing.
Foreman couldn't say anything to this. This was horrible. How could someone do that to an innocent woman? But apparently Dulcie had more to tell. "When we held Celeste's funeral, Vogler was there. It took me, my father and two of my uncles to restrain my mother. She was screaming at him. 'You killed my daughter, you monster! How DARE you come here!' Then he looked at my family and said in this sickeningly consolatory tone, 'I'm sorry for your loss. I really am.' Then he looked at me and said again, 'I'm sorry.' But it was like 'I'm sorry you chose to make me do this.' Two weeks later, all our patients started leaving or requesting transfers. I don't know what Vogler did, but he ruined us. Ruined our reputation."
Foreman looked into Dulcie's dark green eyes. "And now you want to ruin him?"
Dulcie nodded, then sighed. "I want him to pay for what he has done. For the lives he's ruined." Foreman looked at his watch and saw that he was already late for clinic duty. It was a long shot, but maybe asking Dulcie to help him with the patients would cheer her up somehow.
"Listen," he said, still looking into her eyes. "I'm due at the clinic. Do you want to come with me?"
"I, uh… sure. Why not?" Standing up, she asked, "Do you have a spare lab coat I can wear?"
"This is very interesting," Edward Vogler said, calmly as Robert Chase finished giving his brief report. Chase was quiet for a moment, and then asked, "What are you going to do, sir?"
"Nothing. Yet. Miss Willis has nothing but her word against mine. And while the death of her sister is very tragic, things like that happen when a young woman has a very serious form of cancer."
Chase didn't want to reveal his discomfort at the situation, but he had questions and needed answers. "What exactly is your connection to Miss Willis, if I may ask, sir?"
Vogler looked mildly interested. "Why do you want to know, Chase?"
This was one question Chase already had an answer to. "If House, Foreman or Cameron start to ask questions, then I need to know how to head them off. You know, divert their attention."
Vogler looked impressed. "Very good. You're certainly a clever person, Chase."
"I just want to keep my job, sir."
"23-year-old female, complains of a minor sharp pain in her ankle," Dulcie read, as she looked at one of the clinic files. Foreman rolled his eyes. "That should be interesting.'
"It might be. She's also said she's had some numbness."
This perked Foreman's interest. "Could be a pinched nerve. What room?"
Dulcie grinned. "Exam one. Come on, let's go see what's up." Foreman followed Dulcie, who opened the door, and smiled. "Hi. I'm Dr. Willis. I understand you've been having ankle problems."
The young woman nodded. "It's like a quick, sharp pain. Some times it's a little numb."
Dulcie gave a quick nod to Foreman who stepped forward. "I'm going to need to take a look at your ankle." The girl stuck out the offending foot. Foreman checked her out, then told her to wait while he ordered an x-ray and an MRI.
When he left the room, Dulcie followed. "So what do you think?"
"Probably it's just a pinched nerve. Nothing too serious. She should be-" Foreman was cut off by Cameron hurrying up.
"Dr. Willis, House wants to see you. Now." Dulcie looked confused, but headed off. Foreman looked at Cameron. "What does House want her for?"
"House didn't say anything. Foreman… Chase is the one who's reporting to Vogler." Foreman looked stunned. In a hushed voice, he said, "Chase? Hardly seems the type."
"And I do seem like the type?"
Foreman sighed. "I didn't mean that. Look, we need to keep our heads down. If Dulcie-"
"Since when are the two of you on a first name basis?" Cameron asked, raising an eyebrow. Foreman started to backtrack.
"She asked me to call her by her first name and…"
"You like her," Cameron said, a slight accusation in her voice.
Foreman took the offensive. "Yes, I like her. She's a brilliant doctor, she's an intelligent person, she has a great personality."
"Oh, my God. I can not believe you. You're falling for her."
"No, I'm not. I'm just trying to help her. She's got some baggage."
"And you thought you could help her carry it?" Foreman didn't reply, but Cameron wasn't finished. "You're just going after her before House has a chance."
Foreman laughed at that remark. "House? You think he's interested in Dulcie?"
Cameron smirked at Foreman. "Again with the use of her first name. And…yes. I think House is somewhat taken with her."
"Taken, maybe. But it's you that he's got the hots for," Foreman said, quietly, watching Cameron closely.
Cameron looked confused, and just slightly hurt. "He doesn't like me. He said so himself."
"Well, then… he lied. The man loves you," Foreman said, as he turned to go back to the clinic.
Cameron looked at him, then asked, "Are you sure?"
Foreman turned around and gave Cameron a smile. "Yeah. I'm pretty damn sure."