Isn't turn-about fair play?
Disclaimer: House, MD, it's characters, stories and situations are property of FOX and Creators/producers David Shore and Bryan Singer. However this piece of fanfiction may not be copied and re-published without the author's consent.
Author's Note: First House, MD fanfic I managed to finish and be somewhat satisfied with. For all that I luurve him, I'm finding Gregory House a terribly difficult character to write. Capturing his voice, as he's written by the real authors and portrayed by the wonderful Hugh Laurie, just plain daunts me. Oh well, just another reason to push myself!
Ps, the Sudoku bit was before I knew they actually played it on set. And there I was, thinking how clever I'd been in having them play it, and then they alreay did. Sigh.
When Dr. Cuddy stalked into the diagnostic lounge mid-morning on Wednesday and demanded to know where Dr. House was, Foreman, Cameron and Chase could only do variations of the "how-the-hell-should-I-know" theme. House had walked in on Monday morning complaining of an incoming cold, and ended up walking out before lunch saying he was taking two sick days on the lame –even for his standards- excuse of having to properly feed the cold off before it hit.
He had left his Fellows to a lot of boredom and their routine clinic duties, but that wasn't unusual, and they were coping as best as they could.
Chase had discovered Sudoku, Foreman had written and article he thought publishable and Cameron was working her way though a wordy, boring and pretentious journal. She had already decided she'd skip the offer for a 30 percent discount on the annual subscription.
"You mean he hasn't shown up yet?" Demanded Cuddy, royally pissed off.
"Well, he said he was taking a couple of days off…" said Cameron, confused and trying not to sound defensive.
"He did. I specifically told him he could take Monday and Tuesday off. He should have been here today. He was supposed to be here today." She seethed for a moment, then pulled herself together.
"I don't have time to deal with this on top of everything else. Send him to me as soon as he comes in," she muttered, turning to leave. She stopped at the door, hesitated then turned and shot them a collective, pointed look." Tell him to march straight to my office or I'm doubling his clinic hours."
They all sighed and exchanged looks. Chase made himself useful by picking up the phone and paging House, and they all returned to their previous activities.
"'Wonder what stung her," muttered Foreman.
"Just hope she doesn't fall through with her threat. Don't think I can handle House on double clinic duty at the start of the cold season," sniffed Chase, tapping his pencil against his paper.
"Don't we all," sighed Cameron.
At least House always answered his pager.
Either House hadn't answered his pager or he'd been playing a very elaborate game of Hide & Seek, because half an hour later Cuddy called back up, demanding House's head on a silver platter, pronto. Foreman got the sense she was not telling them something, and felt validated when she threatened them generically as well, as if they had been hiding House behind the potted plants.
With nothing better to do Cameron went to check the ob/gyn lounge and the cafeteria, Chase went to track down Dr Wilson and Foreman, on a hunch, went to the parking lot to check and see if House was even there at all. With a conspicuously absent 'vette, he had to come to the conclusion that House had gone MIA on them. They re-grouped in their lounge, none of them any wiser than when they had left it.
Chase called his home phone and left a message there.
Half an hour later both Foreman and Cameron had tried his home phone again and left another two messages.
Around three Cuddy called back up.
She had been holed up in her office with two suits all morning. One of the nurses told Chase they were prospective donors, another one told Cameron they were FBI agents, investigating a case, and both swore them to secrecy. Anyway Cuddy's phone call left them with little option. They had to find House, no matter what.
"Treat it like a medical case," was her unsolicited advise. "House must have taught you something about investigating. Use it."
They decided to take that to heart.
Chase said it was a bad idea in the car, when they were only ten minutes from their destination.
Foreman rationalized it for him.
Chase said it was still a bad idea when they arrived, and Cameron rationalized that one.
Both his white peers leaned forward like third graders on a field trip when Foreman began working on the lock, and he had to stop himself from sighing. He concentrated on the job and ignored them. Breaking into House's apartment may not have been the worst of ideas, as Chase put it, it was simply their only option. The man had managed to disappear so completely that they had no other option. Foreman repeated this in his head a couple of times. It sounded good, reasonable.
And, man, was he going to enjoy giving House a bit of payback.
The lock clicked, and the door opened. No alarms and no fuss, a silent apartment beckoned them in. The three young doctors shared a look, then Cameron pushed past the men and entered, loudly calling for House.
"He'll never let us live this down, you know," droned Chase, looking around uncomfortably.
"Then we better dig up the dirt on him, and defend ourselves with blackmail," replied Foreman, quirking his eyebrows. Chase had to grin.
Cameron, meanwhile, having received no answer, was checking the answering machine. Seven messages, which they skipped as their own voices echoed back to them from the morning. Cuddy and Wilson had also called, and they skipped their messages as well, because one added nothing they didn't already know and the other was too menacing to behold.
"Where is he?" Asked Cameron, exasperated.
"Where would he go?" Countered Foreman, checking out the kitchen.
A lengthy grocery list was magnetized to the fridge, consisting of a surprising amount of healthy food. For some reason Foreman always envisioned House with those TV dinners, but someone would have to go through the trouble of actually cooking that stuff. He took the list and flipped it. An equally long list of candies, trash food and liquor waited on the other side. Foreman snorted.
"So, we need clues as to what he'd be up to," said Chase, walking in circles in the living room, looking around more generally than the others.
Cameron had made a beeline for the piano, and was looking through the music sheets. "Did you know he plays? And this is pencilled… he's writing his own music!"
"I saw him doing air piano and air guitar a few times, but never thought much of it," supplied Chase, giving a cursory glance at the various papers lying about on the couch and generally everywhere.
Books, magazines, what looked like a French dictionary and just papers, printed and handwritten, covered almost every horizontal space.
"It looks like he was researching something. This is a two month old issue of the New England Medical Journal." He continued, sorting through the mess on the only armchair. "It's marked at a general article on air-borne germs and seasonal maladies."
"This one's in Spanish… but that's the structure of this year's flu virus," said Cameron, sifting through the pile on the coffee table.
"He's printed two articles from the net on the common cold, here. Is House developing the cure for the common cold now?" Said Foreman, still in the kitchen area.
"No, but he's just dying to hear your explanation," supplied another male voice.
The three young doctors looked up to the doorway to the corridor, which now framed the figure of their boss. The sogging wet, probably naked if not for the bathrobe, figure of their boss, to be precise.
They gaped at him, horror slowly dawning on their faces.
"Oh, this is going to be good, I can already tell," he said pleasantly, limping to the piano bench and sitting down. As no one dared to speak, he noisily closed the lid on the keys and parked his elbow on it.
"We were worried-"
"Where have you-"
"Dr. Cuddy ordered us-"
They stopped, in 'sync as they had started.
House cocked an eyebrow and waited, with a terrifying grin of polite interest. "You better get your stories straightened out before the police arrives, you know."
"What!" Jumped Chase, followed by Cameron's "You didn't!" And Foreman's "Come on, why would you?"
House chuckled. "Breaking and entering is still very much illegal. Now, let's see if I can figure this out, since you're not very forthcoming. Might this have something to do with Cuddy trying to get me back to work while I'm on sick leave?"
"She gave you two days."
"On Monday. It's Wednesday."
"Which comes precisely two days after Monday, by my count. Or are we on a different calendar system? Because I'm pretty sure we switched to the Gregorian one a few centuries ago."
"No, but she meant two days including Monday."
"I came to work on Monday."
"You were gone by eleven."
"I still came in. I'm still entitled- all right, no point discussing fine legal matters with three petty thieves. Now, while I straighten this out, Foreman, you can go and procure every item you see on that list you're clutching- yes, that's the one. And if you can't find extra-creamy, get chunky. None of that regular stuff. Cameron, you get to go down to the post office and pay my cable and water bills. They're right there next to the phone, along with an envelope with exact change. And Chase, m'boy, I'm afraid I ran out of cool chores with these two. You'll have to settle with taking out the garbage. Oh, what the hell, I'm too generous. You can wax and shine the 'Vette. Supplies are in that closet, keys next to the door. Any questions?"
"Why, exactly, should we do this?"
"Because, Dr. Foreman, at the risk of repeating myself, you three just broke and entered into my apartment and that's illegal. Plus you don't have a good excuse and I caught you. Very badly organized. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd rather be dried and clothed before I face Cuddy." With that he got to his feet and disappeared down the corridor.
"Don't say it," warned Foreman, glaring at Chase.
"All right, I won't," he replied, heading to the closet.
"Damn," added Cameron, whipping away bills and envelope as she strode out.