In an empty room, Dr. Gregory House sat in a visitors chair with his feet propped up on a bed. General Hospital burbled away on his portable television.
Dr. Lisa Cuddy barged into the room. House didn't look up, but he could feel her eyes staring daggers at him.
"What do you think you're doing?" She invariably asked that question in one form or another whenever she caught him hiding from clinic duty. He figured one these days he would break down and ask her why since she already knew the answer.
"I'm watching my soap," House said, turning up the volume just to annoy her. "Come back in about twenty minutes. Samantha's evil twin is about to return from the dead."
A file landed in his lap. "You have a patient waiting, Dr. House. Exam Room Three. Get in there. Now."
He tossed the file right back at her and turned back to his soap. "Why can't Cameron take care of it? Cameron actually likes people."
Another toss of the file. "Cameron doesn't owe me four hours of clinic duty this week"
"Then send Foreman."
"No! You. Exam Room Three." She snatched the television from his hands. "You can have this back when you finish up your clinic duty this week."
"Gee, thanks Mommy." House stood up and smirked. "Are you going to send me to bed without any dinner now?"
Looking at him, she could tell he was in one of his moods; he would do anything and everything possible to slowly drive her insane. Cuddy smiled and held up the television. "Exam Room Three, or else you get this back in pieces. Many many pieces."
House rolled his eyes. He opened the file and scowled. "What's the big hurry? If I don't see...ah, it's a him, if I don't see him before three o'clock is he going to turn into a pumpkin?"
"He's a detective from New York City. His partner is in there, too, though she doesn't need any medical care."
"And why should I care?"
Cuddy shrugged. "They solve cases for a living, and so do you. Maybe the three of you will find something to talk about."
House deliberately banged open the door of Exam Room Three. The detectives didn't even flinch.
Lounging on the exam table was his patient. House figured they were about the same height, but this guy had a good fifty pounds on him. He was forty-something with salt-and-pepper hair and three days growth of a beard; dressed in jeans, a fisherman's sweater and Doc Marten boots. Leaning against the counter was a blonde woman, dressed just as casually as her partner with his enormous leather jacket folded over her arm. House smiled slightly at the lady detective and left it at that. She could probably kick his ass up and down the block even if he didn't need a cane.
"I'm Dr. House," he said, dramatically opening the file. "Does someone in here have an injured ankle?"
The big detective hitched himself up onto his elbows. House could see the man's muddy brown eyes looking him up and down. "You're not wearing a white coat."
"It clashes with the rest of my wardrobe."
The brown eyes stopped on the cane. "Or you think the patients won't feel comfortable with a handicapped doctor so you don't advertise yourself as one."
"I heard through the grapevine you two are New York City detectives," House said cooly, changing the subject.
"That's right, " said the detective. "I'm Detective Robert Goren and this is Detective Alex Eames."
"Aren't you a little out of your jurisdiction?"
Both detectives snickered.
"Criminals and witnesses aren't always considerate enough to stay within the city limits," Eames said.
"You were chasing a bad guy." House was now genuinely intrigued. "Did you catch him?"
"Trying to track down a potential witness, actually. He skipped out on us." Goren frowned. "The only thing we found was a damn rabbit hole in his mother's front yard." He sat up, then nodded at his right foot. Behind him, Eames stifled a laugh.
The right cuff of Goren's jeans was smeared with grass stains and dirt. House gingerly hitched up the pant leg and was greeted with an ankle the size and color of an eggplant swelling over the Doc Marten boot. "Ouch." He gave the ankle a not-so-subtle jab.
"Ow!" yelped Goren. "Did you really have to do that?"
"No," House said, hobbling toward the cabinets. "I just wanted to see the big bad detective wince." He clanged around the supplies until he found a splint. House quietly marveled at the detective's calm and alert demeanor despite the agony his purple swollen ankle must be causing him. "You didn't hear or feel any bones break, did you?"
"No. I just felt my myself sprawled on this lady's lawn with my foot turned backwards."
"Hmmmm. You have what we doctors call a 'sprained ankle'. You're not going to be walking your beat for a while."
Detective Goren sighed and flopped back down on the table. "Dammit, don't say that."
House limped back over to Goren and began to carefully loosen up the laces of the boot. "Would you rather hear that you have an enlarged prostate? That's not going to change the fact your ankle is sprained." He slipped off the boot and tossed it to Goren, who caught it without blinking.
"He's right, Bobby," Eames said sternly, stepping up to the table.
"Dammit, Eames, we still gotta find this guy..."
With the splint snugly on Goren's ankle, House leaned on his cane and gave the detective his best "in all seriousness" stare. "I guess I'm going to have to phrase this in a language you will understand. You have the right to a sprained ankle. You have the right to keep said sprained ankle elevated above your heart for about three days with bags of ice on it. Don't walk on this ankle with your full weight. Now should you ignore these rights and do something incredibly stupid like, say, chase a bank robber or run a marathon out of spite, feel free to give me a call and we can go shopping for matching canes. Do you understand these rights, Detective?"
"That's more like it." House scribbled a prescription for painkillers and handed it to Goren. Then he turned his attention to Eames. "Make sure he doesn't violate his parole."
"You got it, Doc," she said, handing the jacket back to her partner. "Let's go, Bobby, before they send a search party for us."
Dr. House held the door open as Eames helped Goren hop out into the hall, then watched as she helped her partner down the hall and out the door.