RINGMASTER

EnterCreativeName

Note: Not mine, just fun to play with. Don't sue.


CHAPTER 3 - I have you

Throbbing pain. The first feeling of a new day, one with Gregory House forcefully in my life, and the first thing I experience is throbbing pain. Great. I knew I should have gone to CVS with those prescriptions before I went home.

Or was it a hangover. Maybe it was instead my alarm blaring from above me as I realized I had just slept for several hours on the floor.

Since when did I have an alarm clock?

Note to self: never do whatever I did last night.

As I sat up I took a look at my surroundings: I was in a bedroom on the floor, but not mine. To my right was a colonial style bed with a wood headboard stained dark; a brown bedspread was haphazardly strewn about it with blue linens underneath and a man twisted in it muttering something about something or someone named Jimmy.

I leaned hard back on my left hand and tried to contain a small scream of pain: I had momentarily forgotten that I had burned it just last night. The man in the bed must have heard me as he breathed deeply.

"You're still here? I thought you would have left by now."

I looked around. I was still at Greg's apartment, wearing his overshirt, only his overshirt, and hugging one of the pillows from his bed.

"Tell me we didn't."

He took his cane and headed for the bathroom. "We didn't. But you were pretty interesting last night."

I tried to stand up and was greeted by more pain. I whimpered.

"I wouldn't try to make that walk of shame if I were you."

"Greg, what happened?" I was furious. And my right knee was now bandaged as well. When did that happen?

Greg continued in the bathroom, leaving me to fend for myself as I stood up and fell back to the floor as my knee gave out. "Greg!" I yelled in anger again as he came hobbling out of the shower wrapped in a towel from the waist down and offered me a hand. "Greg, what happened last night?"

"Let's just say one of us found some control last night. By the way, you're late for work."

I gave him a look of fury as he handed me a woman's suit. "Where'd you get this?"

"Why do you trust me so much? It's not healthy," he asked in response.

"Like you fit the definition of health."

Why did I trust him? I took the suit and looked at it. It was not mine. When I asked him to whom the clothing belonged to he said it didn't matter, she would never return to claim it. I knew instantly that this was Stacy's suit and was bitterly reminded of the previous night. I was in a moment of desperation, and apparently so was Greg. I needed the work, and he needed someone to distract him. We somehow bonded in some form of friendship over that.

"We didn't sleep together, if that's what you're angry about. Matter of fact, you hit on me after you came back, but I told you to go to sleep. And you did."

"How did I end up in your bedroom?"

"Compromise. Get dressed, we have to get to work."

"I want to shower."

"Picky. You already did." I looked over and saw the still-damp towel that was still near my pillow from the night before and instantly assumed that it was mine.

He then left me alone in his bedroom with his ex-girlfriend's clothing and without any other option.

"Greg, where are my other clothes?"

"Covered in blood."

Part of me, most of me, said that I was in over my head while the other part asked just what I had left in my life anyway that it really mattered. And the truth was, all I had now was that escort gig. My job on the janitorial staff at PPTH pretty much ended the second I ended up on the doorstep of a doctor from that hospital.

As I finished getting dressed I looked at the clock and saw it was 9:47 am. I was almost four hours late for the janitorial job. That clinched my fate of getting fired. I was about to yell at Greg for this entire mess when I heard him on the phone in the other room with Dr. Cuddy, the head of the hospital, confirming that he had money in his budget to hire a secretary for his department.

Secretary?

He came back into the bedroom and asked if I was ready to go. I was. I wanted out of that apartment. My parents were so right about the mess my life had become.


I arrived at the hospital later that morning to a fresh-faced Gregory House greeting me in his office by yelling at me for being late.

"And whose fault was that?" I asked as three doctors only a few years older than me watched in on our little argument from the next room.

"Shh. Not here." Greg whispered to me, disguising the gesture as a sneeze and then limping to his desk, sitting in an exaggerated motion that made the three doctors listening in suddenly jump back to the task they had previously been assigned to. "Now, I know that you were on the janitorial staff here. No secrets there, you were about to be fired anyway. But, consider the next few days and extra tips the answer to any of your questions from last night. On one condition: you will be my secretary until you figure out the puzzle."

Made sense. The agency had forewarned me about this guy and puzzles. It was cute while I had the Vicodin in my system, which for some odd reason he prescribed to me last night for my burned hand. A little overkill I thought. I looked at my hand again and felt like a young child trying to show off to her parents just how mature she actually was. Who was I kidding? I shouldn't have ever gone over to his apartment last night. I should have quit my job at the agency.

But then what would I have?

I'd have a part-time, minimum wage janitorial job at a hospital, no education, no boyfriend, and a very large debt from three and a half years in college. I could never afford that. Plus, as my apartment was part of what the agency gave me for employment, I'd lose that too and be homeless.

I should have listened to my parents all these years.

Greg continued to tell me the rules for when we were at the hospital. First, act like nothing had ever happened in the last twenty-four hours. Second, refer to him as Doctor House and his associates by their proper names, not anything we made up the previous night. Third, make sure Cuddy never finds out where he is or what he is doing; distract her at all costs. Finally, don't question the amount that will be on my paycheck.

That really didn't make sense.

He stood up and walked over to the room where the three doctors were sitting, pretending to be busy at their work but we all knew what they were really doing. He motioned for me to follow, and I did, regretting these last several days that led up to this one.

"Greetings my minions!" They all glared at Greg, wondering what he was up to now. "We have a new plaything. Her name is Paula. You may share when I'm not busy using her. She's my escort, as the new-fangled lingo you kids like to use go."

I wanted to throw up.

If it wasn't for the fact that I had no alternative to the job at the agency, which I was also told I needed to keep while I played secretary, I would have been out of that office in a heartbeat.

"Wait, you have a secretary?" The African American doctor asked House.

"I do as of the moment I promised Cuddy all of our reports would be in."

I was seriously screwed.

House continued with the meeting, rather painlessly, and finally introduced me to his staff. The first was a young Australian doctor, Robert Chase. He had been there for two and a half years. The second doctor that joined his team was a woman named Allison Cameron. The third and final doctor was named Eric Foreman, the African American who spoke earlier. These were three of the several people at the hospital I'd be observing over the next few days.


"Is House around?" I looked up at the desk and saw Dr. Cuddy standing in front of me. "Oh, it's you. Look, just don't do anything stupid and just maybe you'll still have that janitorial job when House fires you for gross negligence."

"Dr. Cuddy, oh, what are you doing here? I didn't expect you to come by." I had to play with this one.

"Look, I know you've been told to hide House from me for however long you are at this job, but just remember that I authorized him to hire you and that I still sign your paychecks. Or, did he work out a little deal on the side?"

She was on to me, but then again, anyone who would have to look after Greg would be. I continued to play with her. "Oh, no deal Dr. Cuddy. He just, enjoyed my, cleaning skills." All that time in the principal's office in high school actually did pay off.

I saw Cuddy look around the office and rather than call my obvious lie she gave me a warning, "Here's my pager number. The second House ever leaves this office; you page me and tell me where he's going. That's the only reason I let him hire you. Got it?"

"Oh yes Dr. Cuddy." I took the sheet of paper from her and made it look as if I was busy memorizing it. I had no intention of ratting Greg out to her, not with what he was paying me.

"By the way, Stacy will probably want her suit back before she leaves town."

That's what happened and why I smelled a woman's scent on Greg's shirt the night before. Dr. Cuddy turned around and cheerfully bounced out of the office. I looked over to a hallway intersection and saw Greg watching our interaction, making sure she was in the elevator before he came back.

"What did she give you?"

"Her pager number. Apparently, we're both on double-secret probation."

"She's into that you know; fraternity fantasies have always turned her on. It's the toga. By the way, new patient, need you to distract Cuddy while the kids try to get MRI time. Page her and tell her that I'm taking the cafeteria hostage."

"Can do boss." This was fun, much better than cleaning hospital toilets. "Where are you actually going?"

"Balcony. General Hospital's on in five minutes. Learn anything yet?"

I had to think. I had known Dr. Cuddy for a while so it was somewhat easier starting with her. Who was she? I knew she ran the hospital and was the Dean of Medicine. While I had never interacted with her at first, I had been in a few meetings that determined my fate. Even though I had been promoted to day shift shortly after being hired, there was still the problem of my being hung over in the morning that often made me late for work.

So, what had I learned? Greg is above Cuddy here, but then again, I had known that since the first day I started working here on the janitorial job. I don't know how many times the service staff somehow got conned into covering for him, and yet Cuddy always knew. She let him get away with a lot, but I knew that the answer of "Cuddy" wasn't right.

"Hurry up, don't want to miss my soap."

"I can't say yet seeing I've only been here three hours."

"Smart answer. Keep watching." With that, Greg went out onto the balcony and took out his portable TV and I went back to my paperwork confident that I'd soon find out more about this crazy circus of a hospital.