THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY

House was in the clinic with a patient. "What seems to be the problem?" It was almost lunchtime and the last thing House wanted to do was sit here and listen to some looser prattle on about a hangover gone wrong, not that hangovers ever went right, but that was even more reason to not want to hear about the wrong ones.

"I can read minds." It was such a matter of fact reply that House took a few seconds to be sure he had heard it right. Of all the things he was expecting, and it was a very long list, because House had been a doctor for a very long time, this would have to be squeezed somewhere between "Hey doc, I seem to have grown a second head" and "I fear I have been impregnated by aliens". The only reason the alien one was less expected was because House was facing a squat little potbellied man instead of some air headed buxom blonde, who would be way more likely to be abducted by aliens for the purposes of impregnation, don't you think?

"Alrighty then." House had regained his composure and was ready to play along. He didn't believe this guy any more than he would have believed the buxom blonde with the two headed alien baby, but he could use a good laugh. "Tell me what I am thinking right now." House closed his eyes real tight, and squinted up his face in his best, I'm thinking, pose. He looked as though he was about to give birth to his own two headed alien baby, but he wasn't. At least not right now. (You're an idiot. Get out of my sight.)

The wee little patient, for he was far too short to just be little, started to laugh. House didn't like this one bit. He much preferred being the laugher than the laughee. He hoped Wee Little would let him in on the joke. "What's so funny?"

"Oh, Dr. House, I have been called far worse than an idiot." House didn't doubt that statement one bit. He'd kind of wished he'd called Wee Little something worse than an idiot, but then, the man had thrown him for quite a loop. Given a head start, House was confident he could have come up with something better but he didn't feel it was worth loosing sleep over. "And I will get out of your sight as soon as you help me."

House took a moment to be shocked, but he felt it didn't suit him, so he stopped. It really was a neat trick the little man had played. Of course House felt that a lot of people must have called him an idiot, and he wasn't the sort of man one wanted to look at for too long, so in all, it was pretty safe to assume House was thinking exactly what he had been. "How'd you do that?" House didn't like unsolved mysteries. Plus, it would be loads of fun to play this trick on his friends.

"I've been cursed. I need you to read this poem to me to reverse the curse." The Idiot, House decided calling him that was easier than learning his name, took out a piece of old paper and handed it to House.

House stared at the piece of paper for a while before unfolding it. He was waiting for it to unfold itself, but figured that trick must be too advanced for the Idiot to pull off. It would have been a nice touch though.

House looked up at the clock. He had 15 minutes left of clinic duty. If he kicked this man out, he would have to see another patient. If he read the poem, he could probably stall long enough to get out of the clinic without seeing another patient. That would annoy Cuddy to no end, so that is what he was going to do.

He flicked the paper a few times in the air, apparently letting the words get some fresh air, before he began the poem in his best poet voice, which was just a deeper, louder, slower version of his regular voice:

The world is full of wonder,

The mind is greater still.

Upon other's thoughts you'll plunder,

What you learn can make you ill.

Use this gift wisely dear soul,

I pass it to you in good faith.

Perhaps it will return you whole,

When you hear what your friends sayeth.

House chuckled when he was done. "That was cute," he said, looking up. He started to wonder why he'd bothered. The room was empty. The wee little idiot had left. Of course House didn't miss him, but it was kind of rude to leave without saying goodbye. House balled the paper up and threw it into the waste basket. Ten points!

House and Wilson got in line in the cafeteria. House had been feeling a bit funny ever since his wee little visitor had left. He needed to tell Wilson all the gory details, stat. "You are never going to believe what happened in the clinic."

Wilson was eyeing a nice tuna sandwich on rye bread. He had a craving, so he grabbed it and slid his tray down toward dessert. (Here we go again), he thought.

"What's that supposed to mean?" House was mildly offended, but then, he was always mildly offended. Then he thought to himself that perhaps Wilson was referring to the tuna, so he gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Wilson looked over at House. Wilson hadn't said anything. All he'd done was pick up a tuna sandwich. It wasn't supposed to mean anything. Or was it? Why had he craved tuna? Was there some deep existential meaning to the choice of tuna, or was it the rye bread? It was Jewish rye. Perhaps House was feeling slighted by Wilson's non-secular food choice. "It doesn't mean anything. It's a sandwich."

"Right." House's brain cells were starting to shift into overdrive. Ever since that poem, people have been saying the strangest things to him, then pretending they hadn't said anything at all. It wasn't April Fools Day, and it wasn't House's birthday, so why all the hijinx? House was determined to figure it out, but first he was determined to eat.

"I'll have a Reuben sandwich, cold, no pickles." He was talking to the hair netted cafeteria line worker now. She was a rotund little woman who reminded him of his high school lunch lady. It might have been her for all he knew.

She glared back at him. If looks could kill, this one would have left a rather bad wound on his shoulder. (I've been serving you the same thing for over five years. I know I'm not a big shot doctor or anything, but I can remember a simple sandwich order.) She turned her back and grabbed the sandwich, shoving it onto his tray. She had it ready for him, not in anticipation of his arrival, but in anticipation of his quick departure.

House looked at her. He was pretty sure her lips hadn't moved, but then, if she was insulting him under her breath she really would be trying to conceal any lip movement. He decided to test his theory. "There's no need to get snippy. I was just making polite conversation."

She looked at him like he had two heads, but who hadn't. House was used to that look by now. It wasn't a look that killed, though it did scratch a little, so he turned and walked away.

House and Wilson found a table in the corner. House had a reason for wanting privacy, he just hoped Wilson didn't misinterpret it. They spent far too much time together for there to be no rumours. House found them funny, but Wilson's wife was far less amused.

"Wilson, if I tell you something, will you promise not to laugh?" It was the corniest thing House had ever said. He was shocked that Wilson wasn't laughing already.

"Promise."

"Aha, you're lying." House looked triumphant.

"of course I'm lying. Everyone lies when you ask them to promise not to laugh at something. It's an unwritten law." Wilson watched a large glob of tuna fall out of the back end of his sandwich and hit his plate with a soft splat. He put the sandwich down before any more escaped.

"Yes, but I KNOW you're lying." House was about to let it slip, but decided to think about it one more time before it left. The thought of hearing the next few words come out of his mouth were almost as traumatic as having to say the words. But this was Wilson. He could talk to Wilson about anything. Besides, it would be far more fun if he had someone to enjoy this with.

"Because what?" Wilson was stabbing at the tuna blob with his fork. It wasn't giving up without a fight, but finally Wilson had captured it, and quickly shoved it in his mouth. "You can read my mind?"

House was momentarily stunned. For a fraction of a split second House wondered if Wilson could read minds too. Maybe it was some sort of epidemic and everybody was doing it. House thought about that for a moment, and decided that one crazy person was much better than a whole hospital of crazy people, so he sent Wilson back to the non-mind reading category.

"yep!" House was not as fast as he once was, but he still managed to duck in time to avoid the projectile tuna that came flying from Wilson's mouth.

"Did the pharmacy mix up your pills again?" Wilson hadn't remembered there ever being a first pill mix up, but he figured there must have been, because that's what pharmacists did for kicks, wasn't it? (Or have you finally gone off the deep end?) It was a question House was not supposed to hear.

"I am still very much in the shallow water thank you." House looked over at Wilson and smiled. This game was kinda fun when it wasn't being played on him.

"How did you? That's not…I don't…" Wilson went searching his brain for a complete sentence, and to see if he could find the bug House planted. He came up empty on both counts. He thought the whole thing sounded a little fishy, so he took another bite of his tuna sandwich.

"this weird little man came in and gave me a poem to read."

"I didn't know you read poetry." Wilson's brain cells patted each other on the back and held a little victory party. Wilson was once again speaking like a fully functioning human being.

"I don't. See what you get for being nice to patients." House felt there was a good lesson in all this. He had read the poem to humour the little man, a gesture of kindness with just a hint of clinic avoidance to back it up. Now he was stuck hearing other people's thoughts. The constant chatter was giving him a headache.

Wilson was now humming a loud song in his head. It had no rhythm, and no beat, but he was only trying to keep House out of his head, so he really didn't need a beat, or rhythm, though it would have been nice.

"Wilson," House had to shout a bit to get Wilson's attention. "Can you play Baba O'Reilly on that thing?"

"You could hear that?" Wilson was amazed, and horrified.

House grinned. This could be fun. "Watch this." He turned to a couple of nurses at the next table. One of the nurses was looking straight at them. "Don't look, but that leggy nurse you've been flirting with. She's picturing you naked right now." House made a face, the kind of face kids made when they were forced to eat Brussels Sprouts. It wasn't pretty. "I would stay away from her Wilson. If she catches a look at the real thing she is bound to be disappointed. She's got quite a big imagination, that one." He smiled at Wilson.

"House," Wilson had decided to save his embarrassment for another time. "Do you know what you could do with this?" His eyes were twinkling.

House didn't feel the need for a verbal response. Instead, he gave the biggest shytiest eating grin he could. Anyone not in on their conversation, and that was pretty much everyone, was sure to think House had lost his mind. House could actually confirm that three nurses and two interns thought he'd escaped from the mental ward, even though the hospital didn't have a mental ward, and two doctors sitting behind Wilson wondered if House had taken the short bus to work today.

All their dessert was gone, and lunch was but a distant memory, so House and Wilson headed out of the cafeteria. House couldn't wait to try his new toy on all his friends. "Wilson, no one else knows about this, right?" House was drawing up a verbal contract for Wilson's verbal signature.

"Got it. Not a soul." Wilson signed readily. He couldn't wait to test drive House's new ability. The opportunity presented it self far sooner than he'd hoped. Foreman and Chase were just coming down the hall. Wilson gave House a nudge, and House smiled back in agreement.

"Hey Foreman, Chase." House made a casual greeting. He couldn't wait to use his new toy. "What do you think Mr. Lassiter's chances are?" Mr. Lassiter was House's latest case. House had started the man on a treatment, and had a feeling some of his little Ducklings didn't agree with it, though only the outspoken Foreman had said anything.

"Only time will tell, Dr. House." Chase was still on his best behaviour. (Of course in time the man's gonna die, but what do you care. You'll just blame me for it)

"I still don't think this is going to work Dr. House. I would much rather do the operation now." (But if you want to wait, that's your prerogative. Just don't think I'm gonna stand by and watch you kill a patient because you won't admit you're wrong.

House processed what he'd overheard. Where should he go from here. He didn't want to overplay his hand. "Chase, this was your suggestion, wasn't it?" It hadn't been Chase's suggestion, and he knew it, but he also knew that Chase expected to get blamed, and House didn't want to let him down.

"It wasn't my idea. I said to run another CT Scan, but you wouldn't listen." (You never listen. I don't know why I bother.)

"Maybe you should just stop making suggestions. It's not like I'm listening to them." There really wasn't all that much to Chase, at least not professionally. House would have to try toying with him again later. He decided to give Foreman a go. "So, Foreman, if I'm wrong, I trust you will go running to Cuddy like you did last time."

"Yes." It was a pretty straightforward answer, and House realized that Foreman was far more honest than House gave him credit for. "Hey, have either of you seen Cameron?" House knew she would be way more fun to play with.

Chase looked off in the distance, not at anything in particular, but he definitely saw something. (Cam is too good for you. Why can't you just stay away from her?)

House's eyes opened wide. He had finally hit something. So, Chase thought Cameron was too good for him. This could get interesting.

"I think she's in the lab." It was Foreman who answered, so House turned his attention that way. (Leave her alone, already.) This intrigued House to no end. Did both his little boys have a crush on the pretty Dr. Cameron? Oh, boy, was this going to be fun.

"Do I look OK?" House pretended to gussy himself up and then skipped off to the lab. Well, skipped is a bit strong. He only has full use of one leg, so it wasn't so much a skip as it was a gleeful shuffle, but he managed to get his point across just the same. He was going to flirt with his girl Cameron and there was nothing these two boys could do about it.

Cameron had her head over a report, so House snuck in quietly. It wasn't an easy thing for him, as he had to sort of slide his cane across the floor to cut down on his signature cane thud.

He put out his mind reading sensors. He was picking something up on the radar. He was in. (House isn't going to be happy about this. He was wrong. How can I let him know without upsetting him. He has such a fragile ego, I wouldn't want to…) House couldn't take it anymore, and slammed his cane hard against the tile floor.

Cameron spun around. "Oh." She exclaimed. It was all she could think of on such short notice. She recovered quickly. "Dr. House. You might want to look at this."

House walked over. Fragile ego my arse, he thought to himself. I'll show her fragile. He looked at the report. "Ah, so Chase was wrong." He smiled. Chase was going to hate him for that.

"Chase?" (But it was your idea House.)

"Yep, he didn't want to say anything, he's such a modest young man, but it was his idea to put the patient on hydrocodone. I told him, Chase, you should check for tranylcypromine, but did he listen?" House was thoroughly enjoying himself.

(That wasn't Chase's idea, it was yours!) Even without the audio House could tell she was shouting it. Now, if only she'd have the backbone to say it aloud. "Well, you could have told him the patient was on tranylcypromine."

"I could have, but how would the boy ever learn to read a proper history if I do his work for him."

(We are not talking about Chase. We're talking about you.) "Maybe if you told him to read the history he would have." (But, of course, you never read histories, so I don't know where you get off…)

House was tired of talking about work. That was for Foreman and Chase. He was far more interested in Cameron's other interests. But how to bring up the subject? He pondered what he could say, but realized a gesture was worth a thousand words, or something like that. He leaned over her shoulder to look at what else she had on the desk in front of her. He made a point of breathing heavily on her neck.

(Oh my God, oh my God. I can feel his breath on my neck. I think I'm going to die.) House just had to laugh. It was like being trapped in a teenage girls diary. "What's so funny?" Cameron sounded a little miffed. They were looking at charts showing that their patient had no choice but to die, and House found this amusing? (I know you're a heartless cad, but I thought you cared, deep down.)

"Oh, Cameron. You must think I'm a heartless cad to be laughing over a dying man's files." She looked up at him, startled. Here mind sent out a clear message. (We are soul mates.) He fought hard against his eyes, they really wanted to roll, clear back to the other side of his scull and them home again, but he didn't want them to. It just didn't seem like the right thing to do. "I really do care, you know. I am just trying to hide it behind this gruff exterior because I don't want anyone to see how much I hurt inside." He thought he was laying it on a bit thick, but what the hell.

Cameron looked up into his eyes. She was like an open book. (Oh, Dr. House. I just want to push you down on this desk right now and have my way with you.) House felt himself blush slightly, but he didn't interrupt her flow of thought. (I bet you wear boxers.) Her eyes moved down to his boxer area, then quickly up again. (Oh, I wish I were a pair of your boxers.) Now she was blushing. "I know you care, House. That's why you are a doctor." House didn't have the heart to tell her she was wrong. Especially knowing she wanted to be a pair of his underwear. He felt she had much bigger problems than being wrong about his choice of vocation.

"What can we do now?" It was an innocent question, but he tried his best to ask it in a not so innocent way, just to nudge her on a bit.

"Well, Dr. Foreman thinks we should go with surgery." (I think you should get down on one knee and propose to me.)

House was a bit frustrated with her answer, both verbal and non-verbal. "What do YOU think we should do?"

(Name our first baby Samuel. I've always liked that name.) "I think we should go with the surgery."

"Have you always thought that?" it was like pulling teeth. Even being able to read her mind he was having trouble getting her to admit the truth.

(If I say yes, he's going to yell at me again for not following my instincts. If I say no, he will ask me what I originally thought and I will have to come up with a lie. Better get this over with.) "Yes."

"And you didn't feel the need to tell me because…" There goes another tooth, a molar. A big, coffee stained bad boy. He'd really had to yank that one out. Now he knew why he had never become a dentist. He hated pulling teeth, even metaphorically.

(Because you scare the crap out of me) "Because I wasn't 100 sure."

"And you didn't want to be the one to kill him?" House was surprised to learn that she was scared of him. He hadn't expected that at all.

"No." (And I didn't want you to think I don't know what I'm doing.)

"You shouldn't worry about what people think." It was out of his mouth before he realized she'd only thought the last part. Oh, well, let's see what she does with it.

"I don't care what other people think of me. I just want to do the best job I can." She was getting huffy now.

House could almost see her nose growing. He did not know anyone who needed the approval of others more than Dr. Cameron. OK, maybe Dr. Chase, but it was a really close race.

House wanted to prod Cameron a little more, but his fun was interrupted by Dr. Foreman. "House, you'd better come quick." (Well, as quick as you can.) House smiled appreciatively at the unspoken joke, and hurried after Foreman, as quick as he could, with Cameron too close on his tail. Maybe she was serious about becoming his underwear.

Foreman led them to the patient's bedside. The patient was so delighted to see them that he was having convulsions. "What's wrong?" Cameron shot out from behind House. House wasn't so sure he liked the idea of her being behind him any more, so he moved off to one side where his boxer shorts would be far from her view.

Chase was already in the room trying to settle down the convulsing patient. House had no time now for games. Everyone set to work, and didn't stop until the patient had settled down. Once the dust had settled, House had a chance to collect his thoughts, and everyone else's for that matter. "So, Mr…." he stalled, looked down at the clip board, then looked up again. "Lassiter. Feeling better?"

(I am now that you're here) "A little."

Some people put way too much faith in their doctors. "Let me just check your pulse." House grabbed the man's wrist and looked at his watch.

(I could stay like this forever.) The man in the bed was smiling strangely up at House. It gave House the willies, which he tried to shake off, but which were holding on much too tightly, and cutting off the circulation in his brain. "Everything's fine there." House announced, and felt a collective sigh fill the room. They were all just hanging on his every word.

He found he needed to concentrate harder when there were this many people in a room, so he focused first on Foreman. (That was a close call. I hope House has learned his lesson.) House was dying to ask him what lesson that might be, but then he would have to tell them all the truth, like they would ever believe him. He thought Cameron might if he mentioned the whole boxer shorts thing.

This brought him over to Cameron's mind. (I knew he cared. When it came right down to it, here he was, helping save a man's life. My hero.) House had enough of that quite quickly and moved on to Chase.

(I could have done that.) Yep, that's Chase. The ducklings were boring. House wondered what his dying patient was thinking. How many times would he have the chance to probe a dying man's mind. What would one think about in the final days of his life. Maybe his regrets, the people he wanted to say goodbye to.

House looked down at the dying man. (Wow, those are the bluest eye's I've ever seen.) House looked around the room. He must be talking about Chase or Cameron. Did they have blue eyes? They both appeared to, but Mr. Lassiter couldn't have been able to see them from bed. (Oh, Doctor, I have a pain, right here in my heart, could you fix it?)

House pulled back so fast he nearly fell down. He suddenly didn't like the look in Mr. Lassiter's eyes. He walked over to Dr. Cameron and leaned in to whisper. "We'd better call his wife."

"He doesn't have one." (Could I be yours?)

"His girlfriend, live in love?" House was grasping at straws. He had had patients crush on him before, maybe so much that he now just assumed all his patients had a crush on him. He was desperate to prove this one didn't.

"There is only a Mr. Simon Fulton…" House tuned her out. He looked back over at Mr. Lassiter. He concentrated hard and was suddenly back in. (I hope I get to die in HIS arms). House ran from the room as fast as his one and a half legs and cane would carry him.

House ran straight into Dr. Cuddy. How she managed to stay standing on those spiky little heels was a true sign of rebellion against the law of gravity. He grabbed her to keep himself from falling over. (Sure House, any excuse to grab my chest) House looked down his arm to his hand and realized it was exactly where she'd mentally accused it of being. He didn't remove it. At least not right away. It was quite content right were it was, and he didn't want an discontented hand on his hands, on his other hand.

"Hello there, Dr. Cuddy." He tried to sound like he crashed into hospital administrators all the time, for fun and profit, but since she was the only one he knew, and they hadn't crashed in a long time, he knew she wouldn't buy it. He decided this was probably a good time to remove his hand from her chest. Though he took a mental note that she hadn't put up any verbal protest.

"Dr. House. I'm glad I ran into you." (and your hand.)

"My pleasure Dr. Cuddy." He was smiling. This was going to be the crowning jewel of his mind reading career.

"I'm sure it was." (Of course my pleasure would involve throwing you down on my desk and doing things to you that would make your hair stand on end.) "But I have to talk to you about doing some extra clinic hours." (If I have to beat them out of you I will).

The thought made his leg shake. He was going to have to hunt down that crazy little man from this morning and give him a big wet kiss. Better yet, he could give it to Cuddy and she could give it to the little man. "You are going to have to flog me in the public square to get me to do more clinic duty."

Cuddy smiled. "Works for me." (And I bet you think I'm kidding.)

House cleared his throat nervously. "What are you going to do to me…for me if I do the extra hours." He purposely mixed up his words hoping it would get her thinking. It did. The things he saw cannot be repeated in a PG-13 fanfic, and will be left to the readers imagination. But, if it helps, House had to walk with the clipboard held around his boxer short region.

Cuddy seemed to notice none of this. She had enjoyed her mental porno and was ready to go back to business. "If you fill in for Dr. Yang, I will give you the next two weeks off."

House probed her mind to see if she was willing to offer him a better deal. She wasn't, so he accepted what was laid out before him. "That's just dandy."

Cuddy looked surprised. "That's it? No bargaining, no counter offer?" She was really disappointed.

"Nope. I know when I'm beaten."

(You have no idea.) "Very well then, I need you in the clinic at 5." She turned and left. (I bet he's looking at my ass. Oh, I want to turn around and find out. Don't do it Cuddy. Just keep walking.)

He smiled to himself. She was right. He was watching her ass. It was one of those rare occasions when she wasn't wearing her lab coat. She should not wear it more often.

House couldn't wait to catch up with Wilson and share everything. He'd invited Wilson out for drinks after work for just this purpose. House arrived at the Dog and Pony, their local pub, early and picked a table in the back with a good view of the room. He ordered a beer and a basket of curly fries and watched the door.

Wilson was predictably punctual. He looked around and spotted House quickly. It really wasn't all that hard to spot the six foot plus doctor waving his cane frantically like he was being attacked by a swarm of bees. Wilson had momentary second thoughts. Did he really want to be seen going to the table with the crazy man? He figured his reputation was already shot by being House's friend, he might as well just go with it.

He ordered a beer on his way to the table and sat down next to House. "So, how was your day?" He was dying to hear the details, but decided to try and play it cool.

"You know, the usual." House was teasing him.

(Spit it out man!) Wilson screamed in his head, hoping House had been eavesdropping on it.

House had, and he proceeded to tell Wilson all about Chase and Foreman. "They were a bit of a disappointment." House finished their story. He'd decided to skip over anything involving the randy Mr. Lassiter. He was still frightened of having nightmare's about that guy. "Now, the ladies where quite a bit more interesting."

"Come on." Wilson was practically falling out of his seat now.

House began with the love struck Cameron and her rather disturbing preoccupation with his underwear.

"She actually said that?" Wilson was shocked and amazed.

"No, she thought it. Big difference." Wilson couldn't see the difference really. He'd love it if a hot girl wanted to be his tighty whities.

"What about Cuddy?" He was a little afraid to ask about her. Cameron was all sweetness and innocence on the outside, so he really didn't expect anything too bad from her, but Cuddy, she was a totally different kettle of fish. If she was that blatently sexual on the outside, he couldn't imagine what was going on behind her baby blues.

House actually blushed. He gave Wilson the details of Cuddy's dirty mind. He left out some of the naughtier bits, simply because gentlemen don't discuss things like that. Oh, who was he trying to kid. He'd left out some parts because he thought he might like to try them someday, and didn't want Wilson to know about it.

"Wow." Wilson felt like he needed a cigarette, even though he had only ever tried one once, and even then hadn't inhaled. He was trying to picture it all in his head. "You really grabbed her boob? Oh, I wish I could have been there." He was now trying to picture it in his head, but was doing a shoddy job of it.

"They are actually bigger than they look." House tried correcting the image in Wilson's head. "At least they feel bigger." He smiled like a little kid at Christmas who has not only gotten everything he ever wanted, but also caught a glimpse of the hot, older neighbour girl taking a shower.

When Wilson was done fixing his mental image of that moment, he looked around the bar. He was now in a very randy mood. There were some cute girls sitting at the bar. They looked at Wilson then turned around and started to giggle the way underage girls who'd snuck into a bar are want to giggle after being ogled by an older man. Of course Wilson had no idea what the giggle was about, so he asked House. "What are they thinking?"

House checked them out, then turned back to Wilson. He didn't even need to read minds to answer this question. "Don't go there my friend."

"What? Why not? Just a little harmless flirting?" Wilson liked to flirt, even if he was married and nothing could come of it. It was fun, and he didn't want to get rusty, in case this marriage didn't last any longer than the last two. One had to cover one's bases.

"It's Misty's 16th birthday. They snuck in here to celebrate like adults. They want to try and seduce some poor fool into buying them drinks." Wilson looked at them. He suddenly felt very, very old.

Wilson noticed a couple of guys heading over to the girls. They obviously had more than harmless flirting on their minds. "House." Wilson called his friends attention to them. "Are they thinking what I think they're thinking?"

"Yep. They want to get laid." House said it matter of factly, but he was as disturbed by the threatening vibe these guys were sending as Wilson was. "Two of the girls seem to be up for it, but the other one, the one with the long blonde hair, she is not sure she likes the look of the guys. She's trying to tell her friends to back away. Her friends just want more alcohol."

"House, this isn't good. We have to do something." Wilson was polishing his shining armour as he spoke. Wilson sprung to his feet and headed toward the action. House shook his head, but got up and followed his friend.

"Why don't you leave these ladies alone?" Wilson asked in the politest possible manner. He had pushed his way between the damsels in distress and the big bad wolves and was standing firm.

"Why don't you leave? We saw them first." The bigger, badder wolf growled. House gave him the once over. This was the kind of guy who used guys like Wilson as dumbbells for their morning exercises. Why wasn't it ever the one armed half blind dwarfs who got into these barroom brawls?

House caught a flash of the guys intentions. He was going to punch Wilson right in the face. For just a flash of a half of a nanosecond House considered letting him. It would serve goody two shoes right for butting in where he didn't belong, but it passed more quickly than it came. House gave Wilson a good shove, not enough to drop him to the ground, but enough to get him out of the way of the oncoming fist. Then he shoved the service end of his cane into the guys crotch.

He wasn't quite sure what to do about the other guy, but the ex-Navy Seal bartender saved him the trouble. He was around the bar in a flash, and had both wolves by the neck. "Time to leave." He was a man of few words, and many battle scars. He dragged the two miscreants to the door and threw them out, literally. Boy where they going to be embarrassed when they sobered up.

Wilson was now comforting the girls, and telling them the dangers of such dens of iniquity as the Dog and Pony. They were hanging on his every word, and on his every arm. He could hear them squeeing. (What a man. He saved our lives.) and other such nonsense was bouncing off his cranium. He rolled his eyes as Wilson maneuvered the girls to the door. It wasn't an easy feat either. They were dripping off him like so much bling House couldn't bear to look.

"We'd better get you home." Wilson hailed a cab. (When did under aged girls get so well developed.) Wilson was fighting the thoughts in his head. (I'm a grown man. I'm a married man. They are just children.) He finally flashed back to House grabbing Cuddy's boob, and that seemed to satisfy him until the girls were long gone.

House spent the night in a fitful sleep. The images he'd seen in the minds of others were haunting him. Some of the haunting was quite pleasant, but wasn't helping him get any rest. He dreamt of the little man who had started it all. Why had he done this? Was House going to be like this forever? What if it was gone tomorrow? House tossed and turned all night.

The next morning he woke feeling not at all rested. He toyed with the idea of calling in sick, but if he still had his "gift" he wanted to give it another go. It really was too good to squander. He took his shower and began to get dressed. He opened his underwear drawer, and had to close it quickly.

He must have been more tired than he'd thought, either that or he was still asleep and this was all part of some demented dream. He opened the drawer again, slowly this time. He looked in carefully. He hoped he would not see the smiling face of Dr. Cameron again. He was in luck. His drawer was full of nothing but socks and boxer shorts. But the damage had been done. House grabbed a pair of socks and slammed the door shut. He would just have to go commando today. He didn't want to see Cameron's face every time he pulled down his pants.

He drove to the hospital slowly. The sounds of irate drivers filled his head. He was amazed at how angry the masses where, especially while driving. A sweet little grandmother of three had just mentally cursed out a teenage honor student who cut her off. A soccer mom had just thought things a drunken sailor would blush at. Did she kiss her children with that mind?

House was glad to be safely back at work. He semi-ran past administration, trying to avoid the complaints and grumblings of their underutilized minds. He did catch one particular secretary type cursing Cuddy and imagining ways to kill her. House would have to have a word with Cuddy about her staff. He decided to stick around and listen. He pretended to be tying his shoelace. (She thinks she's so special. Just because she graduated top of her class. Big whoop. She thinks she's doing me this huge favor letting me, LETTING me work at her hospital. Well, I'll show her. Ha ha ha. Let's see if she can sweet talk her way out of a law suit. Hmmm. I'll just erase this allergy here…. Law suit? That will be the least of her problems.)

House straightened up quickly; too quickly. He felt a bit lightheaded and grabbed the wall to right himself. When the dizziness passed, he hurried off to Cuddy's office. She was in with Wilson, so he burst in. "Cuddy, I have to tell you something."

She was irritated. (I hate that you've seen me naked). House felt a short burst of laughter erupt from his mouth before he could get a rope around it and pull it back down. This only irritated her more. House didn't notice. He was too busy remembering that night…so long ago….

"House!" She shouted him out of his daydream. He'd have to bookmark it and get back to it when he really had time to enjoy it. For now, he had something far more important to attend to.

"One of your admin girls is trying to sabotage a patient." He realized it didn't sound right. Cuddy was looking at him like she might be considering an innocent by reason of insanity plea, but Wilson looked at him knowingly. (Who was it) Wilson was thinking at him.

"I don't know her name, old girl, seems to know you, seems to hate you. She said you're doing her a favor letting her work here…" he didn't need to finish. He could see she was starting to believe him.

"Monica? Monica Bauer?" She said it like she expected House to confirm of deny the name, but House really didn't know who the girl was.

"Tall, heavy, mud brown hair, hanging down to her shoulders?" It was an unflattering description for an unflattering woman.

"Yes, that's Monica. Now, what did you say she did?"

This was the part that was going to be a hard sell. "She is trying to get revenge against you. What did you do, steal her boyfriend in high school?" He looked her up and down and had no doubt she could steal anyone's boyfriend had she wanted to.

Cuddy made the executive decision to not answer, which was her prerogative, being the executive and all, so House didn't push it. "She erased something from a patient's chart, an allergy. She wants you to give the patient something that will cause an allergic reaction. She wants you to get sued. She probably wants you to loose your job, but that's just a guess."

House pushed his way into her mind to figure out if she believed him. She seemed to have stopped listening to him all together. (Is he not wearing underwear? I could swear he's not wearing underwear? I wonder why. Did he run out of clean ones? I've never met a man who let that stop him. Maybe he has a hot date tonight. Hmmm.)

"Would you listen to me!" House was the one who was irritated now.

"I am listening to you. Monica is out to get me, blah, blah, blah."

"Yeah, well, it's the blah, blah, blah part that could save a patients life." Why did she never take him seriously?

"How do you know all this anyway?" Ah, she'd said it. He was waiting for this question, but he still didn't have an answer.

House and Wilson looked at each other. (I got nothing), Wilson thought. House wished he could think something back to him, but it only seemed to go one way. "I overheard her telling someone."

"Look, I know Monica is pretty dim, but do you expect me to believe that she told someone how she is plotting to harm a patient to get at me?" Her mind was wondering again, and she was slowly removing his clothes with his mind.

"Stop undressing me with your eyes!" House put his hands in front of his special bits. Did she always do this to him? He suddenly felt very vulnerable in front of her.

"Don't flatter yourself." She pretended she was doing no such thing, but House now knew better. She was now mentally undoing his pants.

House grabbed a file off her desk and threw it over his crotch. "Can we just focus on Maniac Monica please?" He felt so violated.

Wilson was sitting in the corner enjoying the show. He knew he should probably be coming to his friend's defense, but this was just too good to stop.

"Fine, House. Let's go." She started out the room, expecting him to follow.

"Where are you going?" He didn't want to leave. It was bad enough when someone was imagining you standing in one place naked, but it was a whole different thing when she was imagining you naked while you walked around in public places. Ewe.

"To talk to Monica. We need to straighten this out."

"Shouldn't you call her in here? Don't want to make a public scene." And my goodies don't want to be seen in public, even just in your pretty little head.

"Fine. We'll do it your way." (We always do) She picked up the phone and paged Monica. While they waited she decided to finish what she'd started, couldn't leave House mentally half naked when there was plenty of time to get him fully naked. She smiled at him. He'd seen that smile before and wondered if it was her special, I'm picturing you naked smile. He hoped not, because, if memory serves, he's seen that smile a lot.

Monica came to his rescue. Cuddy's attentions were switched quickly to her. (Oh, would it kill you to run a comb through that hair. I am never doing another favor for my father as long as I live.) This intrigued House. There was something very odd going on between these two women, and, mentally naked or not, he was going to figure out what it was.

"So, you're Monica." House looked her over. She seemed to be about Cuddy's age, but had obviously not spent the same amount of time trying to keep herself up. She was saggy and unkempt. Her hair was a snarled mess, her clothes were untucked and she looked like she could skip a few meals and feed a small nation with them. "You and Cuddy go back a long way?"

Cuddy glared at him. (Don't push it, House.) She wasn't picturing him naked anymore, which was supposed to be a good thing, but didn't quite feel good.

"We lived next door to each other back in high school." Monica didn't seem to care if House knew the truth. He liked her for that. "Our parents are good friends." Oh, so that explains the favor to her father. It wasn't as exciting as House had hoped.

"Monica." Cuddy interrupted before too much more of her life was given away. "Dr. House has accused you of something pretty harsh. I want to hear your side of it before I make any decisions." Monica glared at House, but it paled in comparison to one of Cuddy's glares, so he wasn't too concerned. "Dr. House overheard you plotting to purposely mistreat a patient. Is this true?"

House watched Monica closely. He hoped that at some point she had said it to someone. (How the hell did he know about that?) Apparently she hadn't. "I have no idea what you are talking about. I would never do that." She seemed to be quite the good actress.

"I thought you might say that." Cuddy didn't seem to believe her. She picked up her phone and called the front desk. She asked for all the files Monica had been working on. "We will go through the patients one by one, see if we can find anything out of the ordinary." (House, you better be right about this.) She sounded very nervous, not out loud, but in her head. She was taking a risk believing him.

A few minutes later, another admin walked in with a small pile of folders. She placed them on Cuddy's desk. Cuddy sat down and began to look through them. House and Wilson flanked her on either side and read over her shoulder. (How am I supposed to concentrate with you breathing down my neck?) Her mind was starting to wander. House leaned in a little closer and breathed a little harder. This was fun. (House, oh God. Stop that. You know it drives me nuts) He could almost feel her heart racing.

Wilson put a finger down on one of the files. "This looks interesting." The box that said yes under the question "does patient suffer from any allergies" was marked yes, but there were no allergies listed, and it looked like someone had tried to get rid of the check, but was interrupted by a page from Dr. Cuddy.

Cuddy looked up at Monica. "Why would you do something like this?" She was furious. More furious than House had ever seen her.

Monica looked frightened, so House peaked into her head. (How the hell did he know what I was doing? I didn't tell anyone. Damn him. Damn her. She gets everything she wants. I'll be back. I'll get her, someday. I'll get her.) House rushed back out of her head. That was scary. This woman was definitely 45 cards short of a deck.

Unfortunately, House had gotten out before Monica made her escape plan, so he wasn't quick enough to stop her as she darted out of the office and down the corridor. (Wilson, go get her. NOW!) Wilson started after her, but Cuddy stopped him. "Don't worry about it. She's harmless." Wilson kept going. He knew House must have seen, heard, whatever something pretty bad.

"What!" House couldn't help it. "She is far from harmless Cuddy. She wants revenge. I don't know what for, but she is not going to stop until she gets it. Trust me." Of course he couldn't think of one good reason why she should trust him, except that he could read the woman's mind, but then, Cuddy didn't know that, did she.

"How do you know this? Did you get a hold of her diary or something?" (Seriously House, you are taking paranoia to a whole new level. Why do you care so much, anyway?)

"Just be careful. I've finally gotten you nice and broken in and I don't want to have to train a new administrator if something happens." He turned and headed for the door. (Nice arse. You should go commando more often.) He blushed and quickened his pace.

House turned a corner and nearly collided with Stacy. (Can't you watch where you're going?) She hadn't even looked up yet, and she was already pissed. When she finally looked up she tried to act all apologetic, but House now knew better. "Oh, House, I'm so sorry. Are you OK?"

"I've been better. But then again, I've been worse." He smiled at her. He hadn't gotten a chance to work his new magic on her yesterday. "How are you?"

"Not bad. Mark is doing good." (But of course you don't care about Mark. You probably hope he dies so I will go running back to you. You always were the most selfish boostard I've ever met. I don't know why I ever loved you, or why I still do. Get a grip, Stacy, you are not in love with this man. Well, maybe just a little.)

House waited patiently while she went through this little chat amongst herself. "I'm glad to hear it. He seems to be in very good spirits." He knew that would irritate her, his talking about Mark, reminding her she's married.

(Oh, right, like you've gone to check on Mark. One of your Ducklings must have given you a report on him.) "Yes, he's so happy to have his family around. It was great of Dr. Cuddy to give me my job back so we could stay." (So stop blaming me for everything and blame her for a change. Or can Saint Lisa and her Orbs of Wonder do no wrong?)

House couldn't help it, he had to laugh. That statement, "her Orbs of Wonder" it deserved a laugh, and House didn't want to be rude.

"What's so funny?" (You arrogant jerk. Do you laugh at all your patients, or just the one's you make miserable until they can't take it anymore and leave. Why do I still love you? Am I a glutton for punishment? Or is it those eyes? Stop looking in his eyes. No good can come of it.)

"Uh…" House no longer felt like laughing. He no longer felt like having this conversation. He needed a way out. "I was just remembering a joke Wilson told me at lunch yesterday."

"You are talking about the fate of my husband and it reminds you of a joke?" She was trying to sound as offended as possible. (It's a good thing you haven't figured out that I only brought him here so I could see you again.)

"It's nothing. Hey, I was wondering, couldn't any of the doctors in Chicago figure out what was wrong with Mark? His illness really isn't all that rare, you know." Ha, let's see you talk your way out of this one miss lawyer.

(Damn. I knew this was coming sooner or later. Why couldn't it be later? Think fast, we've been over this, I have the answer, come on, stay calm.) "I took him to a few specialists, but after being misdiagnosed a few times, he kind of gave up. The only reason we ended up here is because of his family. He wanted to see them one last time before he died, and I managed to convince him to see you before he gave up completely."

It sounded reasonable. He was impressed. Of course it was all a crock of bull, but she pulled it off well. He decided to let her off the hook, a little bit anyway. "Well, it's a good thing that his family live so close to the best diagnostics specialist in the world." He knew she would just eat up that arrogant remark.

(You are unbelievable.) "You are unbelievable. I can't believe you're arrogance. You think I came here to see you, don't you?" She waited for an answer.

"Can you think of a better reason?"

"I just told you the reason."

"Yes, but it isn't better than coming here to see me." She'd always accused him of supreme arrogance, so he thought he would go with it. Push all the right buttons.

"I can't believe you." (So what if you are the best doctor in the world; and the best looking. You are also the most arrogant, difficult, abrasive…) She seemed to have run out of words, so she stopped and tried to avoid gazing into his eyes.

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I don't exist."

(You think you're God! I am not getting into this argument. Mark needs me to stay calm, to stay focused. I am not going to fight with you.) "I have to go see my husband now."

House watched her walk off. That had hurt. He made a mental note to hunt her down later and toy with her some more. He didn't feel so guilty about it now that he knew how she really felt about him.

House headed off for the Clinic. He had wanted to help Wilson chase down the bad guy, or girl, in this case it was kind of hard to tell, but he wasn't as spry as he used to be. It would have been a great excuse to get out of Clinic duty though, protecting Cuddy from evil. She would have to give him time off for that.

House wasn't dreading Clinic duty as much as he usually did. It would be kind of fun to torment the huddled masses with his great new super power. If he were in a comic book, he might call himself The Thinker, or something more dangerous, like The Mind Melter. Yeah, that was a good super hero name.

House called his first patient in. Great, it was a little kid. Their minds were terribly dull. "Hi there." House said as the kids mother plopped him onto the bed.

"Hi." The kids eyes were puffy.

"What seems to be the trouble?" He was now talking to the mother. Had she been 10 years younger and 50 pounds lighter he might have been interested in what was on her mind, but she wasn't, so neither was he.

"My son hasn't been eating, and he has been awfully cranky. Is he sick?" There was little else in her head except worried mother stuff, and worried "how much is this going to cost me" stuff.

House looked at the boy. Come on little fella, tell The Mind Melter what's wrong.

(Tummy hurt.)

"It seems he has a tummy ache." House translated for the woman. (I'm paying you God knows how much to tell me my boy has a tummy ache? No shyte Sherlock. What are you going to do about it?) She glared at him.

House looked back at the kid. I need more, brat.

(peebutter. Baaad. Make go rummbly.)

House had to think on this one for a moment. "He has an allergy to peanut butter. Stop giving it to him, and he will be all better."

House pushed the mother and her sticky fingered brat out the door and called his next patient. A leggy blonde walked toward him. She was holding her hand over one eye. She scooted through the door, passing closer to him than she'd needed to and sitting on the edge of the bed.

House was gonna like this one. "What seems to be troubling you?"

"My eye." She lowered her hand. (Don't look) Her eye was all black and puffy. There was some sort of white puss coming out of it. (It's too gross)

House tried not to make a face. It really was pretty gross. "Can you tell me what happened?" He couldn't wait to hear this.

She blushed. (I can't tell the truth, what can I say? Think.) I got stung by a bee.

Yeah, right, House thought to himself. He looked at her closely. Come on, tell me the truth.

(He doesn't believe me. I can't tell him my boyfriend nearly poked my eye out with his thingy. What would he think.) Even in her own mind she couldn't say the word for her boyfriends anatomically correct member. She couldn't have been much more than 19, if even.

House's shoulders shook uncontrollably. It was the closest he could get to not laughing. "Don't worry, miss, I've heard everything. There was this one girl once who had her boyfriends you know what shot into her mouth, nearly choked her to death." House hoped that would open her up a bit. It seemed to work.

"Really? That sort of stuff happens?" (I'm not the only complete freak out there?)

"All the time." And you are certainly not the only freak in the world. Why I have this one guy working for me who likes to….House decided he'd have to check in on Chase a little later, get some facts straight.

"Well, then…" she giggled nervously as she told House the whole story. He took care of everything for her, and she gave him a spontaneous kiss on the cheek on her way out. "Thank you doctor. I feel much better now."

"Just wear protective eyewear next time, OK?" He joked with her. He liked her, for a silly young girl she had taken things very well. Once her initial embarrassment had worn off, she was really quite a good sport about it all.

"Thanks for the tip. I will." She skipped into the waiting arms of her boyfriend, the incredibly poor shot. House wondered if she would tell him that she told her doctor everything. It wasn't really the sort of thing teenage boys wanted known, so he figured she would just lie.

House skipped out of Clinic duty early. He really wanted to get his claws into Chase. He'd forgotten how familiar Chase had been with the world of S & M. He wanted to explore that more, now that he could really get to the bottom of things.

He found Chase in the cafeteria. Foreman and Cameron were not with him. It was strange to see one of his little ducklings without the others. He wondered if they could function properly if they weren't in the same room together.

"Hey, Chase. This seat taken?" House was already in the seat when he asked the question, so Chase didn't have much to say on the matter.

(Great, so much for a nice, peaceful lunch.) Chase started pushing his spaghetti around with his fork.

"I've been meaning to ask you about something." House was warming him up.

(Oh joy) "What?"

"That Dominatrix that was here a few months ago?" House left it hanging while Chase processed the info.

(Doesn't this man forget anything?)

"I was just wondering if you got her number." House smirked. This was too easy.

"No. I didn't get her number." Chase sounded offended. (I already have it, not that I'm gonna tell you that.)

"Oh, so you already had it then?"

Chase went white for just a moment, thought it clashed with his lab coat, and returned to his regular coloring. "Of course not. I told you, it was my girlfriend that was into that stuff, not me." (Not then, at least)

"Yeah, but you went with her. You must have acquired a taste for it." This was way more fun than making Chase do meaningless tasks as punishment for his betrayal.

(Just leave me alone!) "What I do in my private time is none of your business." (So what if I like a little spanking now and then. Who doesn't?)

"Since when has that stopped me? If you have a predilection to certain, ways of life, I need to know this. It would help me know when to turn to you for expert advice." It was a crock, and House couldn't convince himself it sounded good, but there it was, and Chase was free to dissect it any way he chose.

"You don't need to know. You are just trying to torture me. Well, it's not working anymore. I'm not taking the bait. If you want to fire me, do it. Otherwise, let me finish eating in peace."

House was shocked. Chase was the wimpy one. Since when did Chase fight back?

(Wow, Foreman was right. I feel much better. I should keep going. Tell House what I really think of him….Oh, don't say something you're going to regret. Besides, you don't really hate him. And the last thing you want is for him to know you look up to him. He would never let you live that down.)

"Well, good for your Chase. You finally spoke your mind." Sort of. "I'm proud of you."

"Does this mean you are going to stop torturing me?" (Wow, he's actually proud of me. No one has ever said that to me before. Certainly not my own father. I wish House was my father.)

"Um." House was thrown. Chase wanted him as a father? Chase really was a masochist. But somehow, picking on him now just seemed cruel. "I'll see." His heart just wasn't in it now. It was like kicking a puppy. "Finish eating and get back to work." House stormed off. Chase had rained on his parade with all that "be my daddy" stuff. It was unsettling.

House hid in his office for a while. This gift of his was definitely taking it's toll. What had he learned? Cameron wanted to be in his pants. Foreman pretty much told him the truth, had nothing to hide, Wilson had a predilection for young women, duh, which healthy American male didn't, Cuddy was far more imaginative than he'd ever given her credit for, and was apparently always picturing him naked, which was a little disturbing, and Chase wanted him to be his daddy. House shuddered.

"Dr. House? Can I talk to you?" It was Cameron. Here we go again, House thought.

"Come in. Sit down. What's up?" He didn't want to poke around in her head anymore, but he felt compelled to do so. He couldn't avoid it.

(You are so beautiful, to me.) Was she singing? House shivered. "Are you cold? I can turn down the air if you want." She was getting up, but he motioned her back down. (I would do anything for you Gregory House. Dr. Gregory House. Mrs. Dr. Gregory House. Mrs. Allison House. Mrs. Dr…..) She went on, but House was feeling a bit ill and started to list all the diseases he could think of, in alphabetical order. It was a long list, and he hoped that she would be done thinking of her new monogram by the time he was done.

"This came in the mail for you. It said urgent, and only to be opened by Dr. G. House, so I thought I would bring it in." (It was an excuse to look into your beautiful eyes. I could have just left it on your desk. Oh, I hope he doesn't think I'm being too pushy again.)

House didn't like the look of the envelope one bit. It was the same old, heavy paper the little man had given him in the clinic a couple days ago. With hesitation he opened the envelope and began reading. He didn't know why he was reading it, but he did anyway.

Turn around is just fair play,

This you must come to know.

Sometimes it's the only way,

To get someone to learn and grow.

What you knew you know not now,

It's a bitter pill we all must swallow.

Your dearest friends will now know how.

What's yet to come will leave you hollow.

"Oh, crap." House had read the poem silently, but he couldn't help but speak out at last. (This can't be good.) he thought to himself.

"What can't be good? What does it say?"

House looked up at her with a "Huh?" look on his face. (Did she just hear that?)

"Yes she just heard that, and she is in the room, so you don't have to talk about her in the third person." Cameron had been so preoccupied with his eyes that she hadn't noticed his lips weren't moving.

(No Fing Way!)

"House!" Cameron was blushing at his language. If nothing else, it was highly unprofessional. Suddenly it seemed odd to her that House had taken up ventriloquism. "House, were you just saying something?"

(Finally the light bulb comes on. What is she using, 2 watts?) It slipped into his head before he had a chance to stop it. (Doh).

"What? I can't believe you just said that." She was shocked. House could be rude, but he was rarely ever flat out insulting.

"I didn't." (Come on, figure it out.) Damn, he'd done it again.

"Don't patronize me. What is going on here?"

House tried to get into her head, see if it worked both ways now. Nope. She had full access to his thoughts, but he had no access to hers. This sucked. He began singing a very loud tune in his head. He went with Led Zepplin's Dazed and Confused. After all, it's how he felt.

"What is that noise?" Cameron was starting to get the gist of what was going on, though she didn't believe it for one moment, but the loud music was making it hard to think.

"Just making sure my most secret thoughts remain that way."

"I can read you mind, can't I?"

"How should I know, you're the mind reader." House was still shouting out the words to the song. He only knew so many words, and was now repeating them over and over again.

"Can you stop that?" Cameron was getting a headache. "What is going on?"

"You are a mind reader. I think it's pretty simple really." House didn't want to get into the fact that he could read minds first. It might get a little complicated, so he kept singing, (Dazed and confused for so long it's not true.)

"I need to get out of here." Cameron ran out the door. This was more than she could handle right now. She thought about all the things she had been thinking about around House. Thank God it wasn't him reading my thoughts, she thought to herself, as she ran into her own office and shut the door.

House sat in his office thinking. He reread the poem. He was getting a really bad feeling. It crept up the back of his neck and wiggled into his ear and it was now nesting quietly in the back of his mind. This sneaking suspicion of his was whispering to him. Cameron's not the only one, you know.

He was not pleased when he looked up to see Wilson standing in his doorway. "Hey, House." Wilson sauntered in and sat down.

"Hi." House decided Wilson was the best guinea pig he could ask for, so he sent a mental message. (If you can read this, you are too close)

"What?" Wilson took a minute to process this bizarre comment, made even more bizarre by the fact that House had his mouth clamped tight. "You didn't say that." Wilson was quick on the uptake, having been privy to the prior mind reading powers of House himself.

"'Fraid not." House slid the poem over to Wilson. (Wait till you get a load of this).

Wilson read the poem in his head, at least House assumed he did, but since he couldn't read Wilson's mind anymore, he just had to guess.

"Yes, House, I read the poem. So what? You think it reversed?"

"So far both you and Cameron can read my mind." House looked like he was in prison.

"Oh boy. Cameron can read your mind? This could get interesting."

"I can't stay here." House was frantic. (This can't be happening. I have to get out of here)

"Calm down, House. It's not as bad as all that. What is the worst that can happen?"

"What is the worst that can happen? You're joking, right?" (Chase could find out I don't hate him, Foreman could find out I respect him, Cuddy could find out I have the hots for her, Cameron could find out I don't have the hots for her. You could find out…..Born to be wiiiiillldd, Born to be wiiiiiillllld)

"House." Wilson covered his ears, but quickly figured out that since the singing was happening in his head, his ears really had nothing to do with it at all. "Stop that. Fine don't tell me what you think of me. I don't care, but it isn't the end of the world for people to know you are actually a human being."

"Yes it is. You have to cover for me. Tell Cuddy I'm sick. Tell her I died, I don't care, just tell her I left and am not sure when I'm coming back."

"She isn't going to like that."

(I don't care.) "Tell her I'm contagious, and don't want to get everyone sick."

"Oh, yeah, she's really going to believe that one."

"No she won't." The voice came from behind Wilson, and he turned so hard he got whiplash.

"Dr. Cuddy!" It was House who spoke, and followed it with an uncontrollable (Oh crap).

"I heard that House." She tilted her head to one side and looked at him hard. His lips hadn't moved. She'd have noticed if those luscious beauties had moved. The most definitely hadn't.

"I know you did." (Damn.) House couldn't stop himself. He never really thought clearly when she was around.

Cuddy smiled. It was a big, jubilant, triumphant smile. "I don't know what is going on here, but I have a feeling it's something good." She walked over to the boys. She looked at Wilson, nothing. She looked at House. (Don't think, don't think, don't think.) Cuddy looked at him, a cross between amusement and confusion covered her face and caused her forehead to wrinkle.

(Don't do that, your face might freeze that way.) She laughed. "Oh, House, I don't know what you did, but I think I could get used to this." She walked over to his side of the desk. "Dr. Wilson, could I have a word with Dr. House, in private?" It wasn't really a question, but she was polite enough to make it sound like one.

(Don't you dare leave me here!) House was panicking now. Wilson didn't know what to do. "I…he's really not feeling well. I shouldn't leave him alone."

"He has a sudden bout of cancer?" She wasn't buying it for a second.

"Well, it's…I need to drive him home. He is too weak to do it himself."

"You have patients to see, Dr. Wilson. I can drive Dr. House home." She had check mated him in one move. Wilson looked at House with pleading eyes.

(Don't. No, tell, her…tell her….)

"Tell her what, Dr. House?" He had forgotten that they could both read his mind. This really wasn't at all fair.

Wilson looked nervously down at his pager. "Uh, gotta run." He took off so fast House didn't even have a chance to think insults at him.

Cuddy's pager went off as soon as Wilson was out of sight. She had a not so sneaking suspicion that it was Wilson, but as the sometimes only responsible person in the hospital, she couldn't take the chance. "I'll be back." She warned, then walked out. (Nice arse). That time House didn't mind her hearing what he was thinking. He smiled when she glared back at him.

House breathed a sigh of relieve. He gathered his things and waited for Wilson to pop his head back in. A head did indeed pop back in, but it wasn't Wilson. It was Cameron. "You looked like you could use some saving."

"You paged Cuddy?" (I'm impressed)

Cameron blushed and had her body follow her head into the office. Together they sat in a chair in front of House's desk. "Yeah, a little bird told me you wanted her to leave." She laughed girlishly at her own little joke.

(No one ever gets her jokes). House looked at her nervously. He hadn't meant to think that. He was really going to have to watch himself. (Oh, say can you seee. By the dawn's early lighhhht).

"I have to ask you something." She'd decided to ignore both his comment and his singing.

(Oh no. No, no, no, no, no). House knew the moment she figured out what was going on that she would trap him. (Please no. Please, please no) He knew his pleading was useless, but it might at least make her feel bad for taking advantage of the situation.

"I know I have asked you before, but, something has changed, and I think I have to ask you now if I am ever going to get an honest answer. Do you like me?" She'd said it. She was thinking about saying it ever since she began to suspect she could read his mind. This was it. This… was the moment of truth. Real truth.

"Dr. House." It was an out of breath Foreman. "Mr. Lassiter is getting worse, fast. We need you now."

House had never been so relieved in his life. He wanted to give Foreman a big fat kiss on his big black head. Foreman had a look of horror on his face. He thought to himself, do not find yourself alone with Dr. House.

The trio rushed to Lassiter's room. Fortunately, House was a very competent doctor, so the only thing on his mind was saving his patient. Everything else left his head the second he walked through that door.

The Ducklings found helping the patient so much easier this time around. House was shouting out orders to them instead of standing in the background like he usually did. They were all too busy to realize that he hadn't spoken a word the whole time.

When House knew Mr. Lassiter was out of the danger zone, he quietly slipped out of the room, and made a run for the front doors. He made it to his car, and sped off home. He wasn't going to come out until whatever it was that had happened to him was long over.

House woke up a few days later to a knock on the door. He had ignored the constant ringing of the phone, so he couldn't understand why anyone thought the door would work better. It was probably Cuddy coming to sexually harass him, or Cameron wanting to probe his brain for his feelings.

He waited until the knocking had long faded into his memory, then chanced opening the door. You never know. It could have been Ed McMahon telling him he'd just one $100,000,000. If it was Ed, he hoped he'd left a check under the door mat. He could sign it over to Cuddy and maybe get off her shyte list. Wait a minute. She got to picture him naked. That would make them even. He could keep the money and fly off to Fiji.

House opened the door just a crack, and stuck his head out. He looked both ways. No one seemed to be waiting in the bushes to grab him and pull him back to the hospital, so he opened it a little more. There was something shoved under the doormat. For a fleeting moment House thought it just might be a check from Ed McMahon, but then he remembered that he hadn't had his coffee yet, and wasn't thinking all that clearly.

He went back inside, reading the note as he went. "Not again!" It was that familiar old paper, and that crisp, frilly writing he had come to fear. He took a deep breath, and read. How much worse could things really get?

You can run,

You can hide,

But it's more fun,

To enjoy the ride.

It was shorter than the others, and it made just as little sense as the others did. Still, House had a feeling he knew exactly what it meant. This wasn't going to be over until he faced his demons, or his friends, which were really kind of the same thing.

House fixed himself a big cup of black coffee and got dressed. If this was the only way to get his mind back, then he might as well go for it.

The ride to work was a long one. He kept hoping he would get into an accident, but that might damage his sweet red baby, so he continued to drive with relative caution.

The hospital was hopping with activity. It was almost lunchtime when he finally arrived, and everyone was talking food. House suddenly realized he was starving. He headed off toward Wilson's office.

Wilson looked up. "House! You're back." He was surprised to see his ragged looking friend standing in his doorway.

"I need to go to lunch." (Out of the building).

"We could go to the Dog and Pony, but you just got here. Shouldn't you let Cuddy know where you've been? She's been going nuts."

"It will have to wait." (Do you really think I want to face her like this?)

"Yeah, well, I don't think you're going to have much choice. As soon as she knows you're back she is going to hunt you down."

"I know. So can we get out of here. Vamoose."

"Yeah, yeah, fine." Wilson grabbed his jacket and followed House out of the building. They headed to the pub down the corner on foot. It wasn't worth driving, and it was a nice day. House needed the fresh air. His head was killing him.

"Been overdoing it?" Wilson asked, but already knew the answer. House's brain had hangover written all over it.

"Do you know what Cameron said to me, last time I saw her?"

"Ooh, wait, let me guess." Wilson was sort of enjoying himself. He shut his eyes and concentrated on House. (F off!) "Oh, that's not nice. I let you into my head."

"Barely. She asked me if I like her. I can't answer that."

"Because you do like her?"

"No, because I don't. Not the way she means. I mean, I could like her, but I'm not going to. She's a sweet kid, but she has all these romantic ideas. Walks in the park, tickle fights on the beach. That's not my thing. It's your thing, but it's not my thing."

"So, I don't see what the problem is. Tell her the truth and let her see it in your head. Then she will know, and she will be able to get over you."

(Will she?) "I think you're missing the point. I like her not knowing. It keeps her on her toes."

Wilson snickered because he'd caught a glimpse of the truth. "You like that she likes you. You like being Mr. Unattainable, Mr. Idol. If she knows she doesn't stand a chance with you, she won't be your own personal fan club anymore. You old dog, you want her to like you."

House glared at him. (BITE ME!)

"I think I'll leave that to your fan club."

They were in the pub now, and the waitress was waiting for their order. Once she got it, she got away from the table as quick as her stubby, tired legs would carry her.

(Do you think she wears those orthopedic shoes in the sack?) Wilson burst out laughing, spraying his just drunk water across the table. House had the forethought to hold up a menu, and avoid getting rained on.

Lunch eventually came to an end, and House was forced to return to the hospital. He wasn't really forced, it's not like Wilson held him at gunpoint or anything like that. House could have made the decision to stay at the pub forever, or even to go roaming the streets, but he chose to face the music and returned with Wilson to the hospital.

House was not at all surprised when the first person he saw upon entering the hospital was Dr. Cameron. "I need to talk to you." She was certainly tenacious. House waved Wilson away, and led Cameron to his office, humming all the way.

Once they sat down, Cameron jumped right in. "Do you like me?"

House had been preparing himself for this as much as he could. "No." (But if you want to knock boots, I'm totally there). He smiled at her.

"Are all men pigs?" She was disappointed in his reply. She wasn't sure what she expected, but she had hoped House was above the average man.

"I don't know what you are talking about?" House tried his best to look innocent. (But if you take your clothes off we can discuss it.)

"My God!" She was getting more repulsed by the minute. House's evil plan was working. He just had to keep it up a little longer.

"I thought you didn't believe in God."

"I don't. It's just a saying. I..I have to go." She turned and walked out. She could feel House's eyes undressing her as she left. She covered her butt with her hands and ran out of the room.

Wilson, who must have been lurking in the doorway stepped in when she was well out of sight. "That must have gone well." He sat down and took a peek into House's head. (Better than I thought.) There was something else in his head, though. Was it regret?

"You feel bad. What did you do?"

"I chased her away." (I hurt her). House was growing to hate his current situation. Things were so much easier when no one knew what he was thinking.

"She'll come around. I don't think she can stay mad at you for too long. Speaking of which, when are you going to see Cuddy."

(I can't face her. She'll eat me alive!) "I can't face her..."

"I know, I know, she'll eat you alive."

"You know, that is very annoying."

"Tell me about it." Wilson laughed.

House spend a good part of the afternoon hiding in his office. If he could just avoid Cuddy he would be OK. If she found out she could read his mind, he would be toast. There were many things he didn't want her knowing, and she wasn't the kind of person who would respect his privacy. She'd be poking around in every corner of his head. She'd snoop around in places even he hadn't been in years. No, as long as he avoided Cuddy until this passed, he would be just fine.

Chase walked into the office, a little nervous, but obviously hopeful that House would talk to him. "What is it?" House was harsher than he'd meant to be. (I hope you don't need me to tell you how to wipe your arse.)

"I beg your pardon?" Chase looked at him with a puzzled expression.

"I said I hope you don't need me to help you with the MRI's." It wasn't a good cover, but it was all House could think of on such short notice, without thinking loud enough for Chase to hear.

"What MRIs?" Chase was a brilliant doctor, but he wasn't very swift. "Wow." Chase looked both pleased and stunned. (Damn, he heard that.) "Heard what?" Chase really wasn't getting it.

"That sound, didn't you hear it? It sounded like it was coming from outside." House stood up like he was going to rush out the door, but Chase just stood there, looking at him.

"Why are you doing this to me? I thought we had come to an agreement. I thought you said you would back off."

"You came to an agreement. I just agreed to tell you I would back off so I could get out of the conversation." (You putz).

Chase looked wounded. "That's real nice, House. I came hear to ask your advice on something, and you just sit there and abuse me."

"Actually, I was standing when I abused you." House had sat back down since then, but technically he was still standing when the abusive phrasing took place.

"Do you think we should rerun the blood test on Mr. Lassiter? I mean, I've been thinking about it, and I think he may have a INSERT RARE DECEASE HERE . I just don't want to run another set of tests unless you think it's worth it. He has already lost a great deal of blood."

(Sometimes you are an excellent doctor.) House was having trouble blocking out his thoughts. It was almost like the poem had caught him trying to cheat, and had removed the edit box from his brain. "Are you a doctor..." He squinted and looked at the badge on Chase's lab coat. "Must be, it says so right there on your lab coat, unless you stole that from the real Dr. Chase. Are you the real Dr. Chase?" House was hoping that a barrage of insulting rhetoric would make Chase forget House had called him a good doctor. "Because, if you are Dr. Chase, then I would think you've been through med school. If you've been through med school, and gotten grades that could be called passing, then you get this cool little piece of paper. This piece of paper, if you get it, means that you are a doctor, which means that you can make really important doctory decisions, like whether or not to run a blood test. Unless, of course you bought your cool little piece of paper off E-Bay, then you are only qualified to play a doctor on TV." House had run out of steam. Hopefully this was enough to distract Chase.

The big grin on Chase's face told House it wasn't, but House was relieved that Chase's repressed upbringing caused him to say nothing. Although House really could have done without the ostentatious smile. "I will get right on it. Thanks House." Chase practically skipped out of the room. When he was gone House made a mental note to be even more mean to Chase next time he saw him.

House ventured out of his office to fulfill a call of nature. He'd thought about peeing in his trash can, but the smell could get pretty bad, and the cleaning crew would probably do a lousy job cleaning it up. The office would stink for days, and House would be left to explain why. He felt it best to risk going out in public, and rushed to the nearest men's room.

His first impulse, upon entering, was to turn and run out. Dr. Foreman was just unzipping his fly at one of the urinals, but it was too late. Foreman had caught sight of House and broken House's cardinal rule of urinal etiquette. He started up a conversation. "Hey, House. Did Chase talk to you about the blood tests?"

"Yep." House began unzipping his fly, and humming to himself softly. He didn't want to alert Foreman to his condition by humming loudly, but he also didn't want Foreman to overhear anything damaging.

"Do you hear that?" Foreman had heard the humming, but didn't know what it was. Best of both worlds. "Anyway, I think Chase might be on to something." Foreman was just shaking off, then he zipped up again.

House followed suit. They were washing their hands when House spoke. "Yeah, I had him run some more tests. I wondered how long it would take him to figure it out." (hum, humdy, hum, hum)

"Right, because you knew the answer all along but decided to risk a patient's life to see if we could figure it out." Foreman held the door open for House then followed him out of the bathroom and down the hall."

(How far are you planning to follow me.) The edit button had failed him once again.

"Until we are done talking." Foreman had been watching where he was going, so he thought nothing of the question. "I want you to admit that you didn't know what was wrong with Mr. Lassiter."

(You are a tough one, aren't you). He was slipping further and further away from self control.

"Yes. You knew that when you hired me. I think that's why you hired me. That and my criminal record, which you seem to find so fascinating."

(I hired you because you are the best at what you do. The criminal record was just a perk)

"You really are impossible, you know that. My criminal record is nothing. I was a kid, it was a dare. We went through all this in my interview. As for my being the best at what I do, if you think that, then why do you treat me like I don't know what I'm doing? You act like you know everything. If you do, then what do you need me for, or Dr. Chase, or Dr. Cameron for that matter?"

(Oh, someone needs a nap)

"I do not need a nap!" Foreman had finally stopped walking and was looking at House now. House was trying to look anywhere but at Foreman. "I think maybe you need a Vicodin, or five." Foreman stormed off. They had reached House's office door, so House went inside.

Something wasn't right. (Something's not right). He never left his chair turned around like that, and he didn't remember it having such shapely legs.

"Thanks for noticing." The chair spoke as it turned itself around. House nearly jumped out of his skin when he found out the chair was being controlled by Dr. Cuddy. Actually, he really wished he had jumped out of his skin, and left it there in all it's imagined naked glory to distract Cuddy as his skeleton and all the other good stuff hiding under his skin ran for the hills.

"I, uh, I was going to stop by later." He didn't know what to say. He didn't want to say anything because saying things meant you had to think them, and thinking things usually required thinking of other things before deciding on the thing you were going to say, and he never could think quite straight when she was around.

"Am I scaring you Dr. House?" She was watching him carefully. Her arms where folded, which was her official, "I am very serious about this" position. He knew he was in trouble. He thought of the words to that poem. Turn around is fair play.

"Not at all." He walked over. He might as well jump in with both feet. If he was going to drown, it was better to do it quickly than to drag his feet and shout out songs in his head. Besides, he didn't really want her to hear the songs he was thinking of right now.

He started undressing her with his mind. That aught to get the ball rolling quite nicely.

"House?" She sounded confused and nervous. "What are you doing?"

"What does it look like I'm doing?" (and could you uncross you're arms, it's making it difficult to unbutton your blouse).

"What?" Cuddy still wasn't quite sure what was going on, but she instinctively unfolded her arms and laid them on the arms of the chair.

(Good girl). House began mentally undoing her blouse with his teeth.

Cuddy closed her eyes for a minute. She wanted to be absolutely sure about what she was seeing. Then she opened them quick, to make sure what she was seeing wasn't actually happening. "House, are you undressing me with your eyes?" Good old Cuddy, she always went right in for the kill. No beating around the bush for her.

"Actually it's my mind, but I guess it really doesn't matter." (Now move that leg over to the left.)

"I am not going to be your mental whore." She wanted very much to comply, but she wasn't going to on principle.

"You're a great one to talk. You spend all day imagining me naked. I try to undress you one time, and you flip out." He had her fully undressed now, and he was quite enjoying it.

"Stop that. And how do you know I picture you naked?" Oops, she hadn't meant to say it like that. She had meant to deny it, really, but loosing all her clothes in his mind had distracted her to no end.

"Aha! So you admit it."

"I've admitted nothing. And stop looking at me."

"The real you says no, but my imaginary you is already down on her knees." House was smiling.

"HOUSE!" She could see exactly what he was seeing, and it was not as unpleasant as she knew it should be. "Stop it! House!" He was paying no attention to her.

Cuddy stopped. Protesting wasn't going to work. She had to find another way to get him to stop. She took a moment, shook his image out of her head. She needed to think clearly. There had to be a way to get past what he was trying to show her, and see what was going on behind it.

She concentrated really hard. He was too distracted to notice. She broke through the pornographic image of her and slammed into a wall of fear. House was terrified of something. Now, if she could only figure out what. She kept probing. Part of her was wondering what House was up to now, but she didn't have time to join his sordid fantasies. She was on a mission.

"What are you so afraid of, House?" She hoped to bring this fear to the forefront, by making House think about it.

"What?" His mind snapped back to reality. His little ruse hadn't worked. Instead of driving her away, it had sent her exactly where he didn't want her to be.(GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!) He kept shouting it over and over.

Cuddy blanched. "Oh, that's real mature."

"Not half as mature as this." He stuck out his tongue, then started shouting in his head (I wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day...)

"Cute."

"Why won't you just go away?" That's all he really wanted.

"Fine, House. You win. Go home, get some rest. Come back when you are back to normal, whatever that is for you."

House nearly knocked her over trying to get out of his office. He did not pass go, he did not collect $200. He headed straight home and he locked the doors, closed the shades, and unplugged the phone. He wasn't coming out until that evil little man fixed him.

House lived off of old take out, and tap water. He didn't even want to go outside to buy groceries. He'd thought about asking Wilson to bring him some food and water, but even that seemed too risky. He would just wait this out and hope for the nightmare to end.

House realized that he had no way of knowing whether or not he was better. There wasn't anyone at home to read his thoughts, if they still could. He would need Wilson's help after all. He rang Wilson up at work. "I need you to come over and test me." Wilson hadn't had to ask what House meant. He agreed to swing by after work.

There was a knock on the door. It was almost 6:30, it must be Wilson. House listened carefully. The knock came in a rhythmic pattern. It was Wilson. He was using the special knock House had instructed him to use. House got up and answered the door.

"Hey, House. I found this under your mat." Wilson held up a piece of paper. House recoiled from it as if Wilson had just held out a snake. "Aren't you going to read it?"

House took the piece of paper. He didn't want to read it. Who knows what would happen next. He slowly unfolded the paper. It had one word written in beautiful penmanship in the center of the page. "Undone." House stared at it for an eternity, which was only several seconds to Wilson.

"What is it?" Wilson wasn't getting anything from House, so he wondered if the curse had been undone.

"You don't know?" House tried to send the word to Wilson.

"No, House, are you cured?"

"I do believe I am." He did his best to jump up and click his heels, but it came off more as him lifting his heels and thinking about turning them toward each other.

"Well, we should celebrate."

House was not about to turn that offer down. "How about the Dog and Pony?"

"Do you ever go anywhere else?"

"I really like their curly fries."

"The Dog and Pony it is." The two friends laughed the night away, enjoying each others company, and enjoying not knowing each others thoughts. House got home late. He felt a slight buz that was quickly replaced by the dread of having to face Cameron and Cuddy the next day.

House crept into the hospital the next day. He knew Cuddy was in a meeting because he had called ahead and checked, but Cameron could be anywhere. He thought for a moment that she might have left. He would have left if his boss had said the things he'd said, or thought, to her. "Dr. House?" Apparently Cameron had bigger balls then his.

"Dr. Cameron." He tried to sound caring, but not too caring,.

"I wanted to talk to you about the other day. Are you...back?" She didn't know how to put it. It wasn't every day that you had to ask your boss if he could or couldn't read you mind, and at the same time figure out if you could or couldn't read his. There really was no protocol for this sort of thing.

"I am back, Cam, thanks for asking." It actually felt good to be back. He could think anything he wanted now. He was free. Oddly enough, he really didn't have anything to think about at the moment.

"Dr. House, I've been hearing things."

"You might want to have that looked at. I know a man..."

"No! Rumours, House. Rumours that you were reading people's minds before...before..."

"Before you went barging into mine?"

"I didn't go barging in. I didn't even know I was in. You could have said something, seeing as how you'd already been through it."

"Right, oh, Cam, by the way, I am having an open house in my brain, would you like to stop by for a visit, look around, see if there is anything nice you might want to steal?"

"House!" He was getting her off track. "I just want to know, what did you hear? What was I thinking when you could...you know?"

Believe me, little girl, you don't want to know. House thought to himself, and only himself. It felt good to have no eavesdroppers. "Nothing much. It was during that whole crisis with Mr. Lassiter, so it was mostly medical stuff. Oh, I should tell you, you need to speak up when you have a medical opinion. You seem to have no problem shouting out your personal opinions."

"Oh," she hung her head. "Well, I just wanted to apologize for, you know, using your problem to my advantage. It was wrong of me. I had no right trying to find out what you didn't want to tell me." She looked up at him.

He felt a pang of guilt. It had to be guilt because he didn't recognize it, and he couldn't remember the last time he'd felt guilty. But he now had the luxury of not letting her know that. He felt like he'd gotten a new lease on life.

"I appreciate your apology Allison. Let's not discuss it ever again." He put a hand on her arm. He thought it would help her forget all the bad things he'd thought to her. She pulled away, but she looked up at him regretfully. She wasn't lost to him forever, just temporarily miffed.

House went to the Clinic. Cuddy wasn't giving him any time off. He had to make up all the Clinic hours he'd missed over the past week. He called in his first patient. He could have dropped a pin and they would have heard it in China. A short, round little man walked in. It was the same short, round little man who had started this whole mess.

"What are you doing here?" House couldn't hide his contempt.

"I'm hear for a follow up."

"I didn't schedule a follow up."

"I didn't say it was my follow up." He popped up onto the bed to get closer to House's eye level. "So, Dr. House, have you learned anything this week?"

"Have I learned anything?" House was incredulous. "I have learned never to read poetry. I have learned not to trust creepy little men who give me poetry."

"Have you learned anything about yourself, about your friends?" The little man was nonplused by House's attitude. He didn't expect it to change in a week.

"No." House wasn't even going to dignify that with a real response.

"Well, I guess I will just have to try again later." The little man hopped back off the bed.

"Try what again? Get back here. What are you talking about?" House chased the little man out of the room, but couldn't see him anywhere in the waiting area. He must have been a fast little bugger.

House suffered through the rest of his patients. He only had one left. He opened the door to call his next patient and was startled by the cross armed figure of Dr. Cuddy. He could tell by the look on her face that she wasn't undressing him with her mind.

"Dr. Cuddy. What can I do for you?" She pushed past him and into the room. House instinctively closed the door and faced her. Better to get this over with. He'd lived a nice long life. If this was his time, it was his time.

"Dr. House. Feeling better?"

"I was." He was now feeling sweaty and lightheaded. If he were a doctor he would say he was suffering from a bad case of nerves and should go hide in a dark corner and not come out for about 8 years.

"That was an interesting little adventure." She was toying with him. He could tell she had tried to get into his head, but was unable to do so. He'd tried the same thing. If he knew what she was thinking, he'd have known when to duck.

"Yes. Glad it's over, though."

"Are you?" Damn she was good. He felt like he'd just been caught robbing a bank and was trying to claim it wasn't him even though he was still wearing his ski mask and carrying a bag full of money.

"Oh yeah." He had decided to stop being scared. If she'd been really mad she would have started screaming by now. She was just swatting at him like he was a dust bunny under her perfect designer sofa. "If I had to look at you naked one more time, I think I might have screamed."

"Hmm, and would you have screamed "I wanna rock and roll all night?" Or would you have gone for something more subtle like "ooh yeah, baby, just the way I like it."?" She said it so matter of factly, like she was rattling off the monthly revenue that he had to laugh.

"Actually I think it was something like "come on baby, take off all your clothes. Speaking of which, are you picturing me naked right now?"

"Wouldn't you like to know?" She smiled mysteriously.

"On second thought, I'd rather not know." He didn't like the way she was looking at him. "On third thought, yes, I would like to know."

"Fine. Right this moment, no, I am not picturing you naked." She smiled. "But I don't think the same can be said for this moment."

Stop it! He thought in his head, but realized she couldn't hear him, so he said it out loud. "Stop it."

She laughed and headed out the door. "Glad you're back, Dr. House. Now get back to work."