Firstly yes, I do intend to update that other ficcy of mine. I just don't want to at the moment. I'm a temperamental artist, (read: lazy moron) so leave me alone.

Warnings:Well-deserved swearing on House's part (and mine) reference to grammatical systems that may cause retinal bleeding, and sarcastic comments about James Blunt music. And German, lots of that. Ye be warned.

Disclaimer: I didn't invent House, the show, or the characters. I also didn't invent German, as can be seen from my shocking grasp of the subtleties (read: FUCKING STUPID AND UNNECESSARY HARD BITS) of the language. If I had invented German, I would have bought everyone on this earth a gun and given them permission to shoot me at will.

Why the hell I did this: Because I'm a sadistic bastard with enough free time on my hands to subject House and co. to a language that should have died before it was invented. And because I'm slightly bitter about studying it. Could you tell?

Oh, yeah: I made the medical stuff up, so it's probably hideously incorrect (so's the German, for that matter.) Don't sue me, please.

Trivia: Feurwerk (Foyer-work) is a German textbook (means 'firework') in case you were wondering.

It was about two o'clock on a Thursday afternoon, and the tension was palpable as Cameron stood in the door of House's office, file loosely held in one arm and that I-am-mature-and-concerned look in her eyes.

"Patient's immuno-compromised," she was saying, "we need to think of something fast or he's in serious trouble."

There was a small pause, and an ever-so-subtle feeling of expectation in House's general direction. Unusually, a snarky comment was not forthcoming. Cameron's uncertainty faltered in the air. House looked up from the book on his desk, irritable.

"Well, think of something," he snapped. "One of those medical things I hired you for your ability to – do." He muttered a curse at the book he was staring at.

After a pause, Cameron left the office, looking disconcerted. House murmured something into the silence.

It sounded like "Ich habe, du hast, er-sie-es hat, ihr - fuck."

Chase came in moments later, dressed in surgical scrubs and wearing that look of terminal concentration he saved for special occasions, like when the patient had just gone into a coma.

"The patient's gone into a coma," Chase announced to the room at large. "Stats are way down and his tox screen – "

House lifted one silencing finger, blue eyes fixed unerringly on the page. His lips moved soundlessly for a moment, before he glanced up at Chase, apparently only just realizing he was there.

"Hallo, Chase."

"Is something wrong?"

"Keinen ist – wrong. Fixen Sie – der – patient. Das patient? Das - kranken - krankes... krankmann. No."

House sighed mournfully, before turning back to the page without a backward glance. Chase stared at him for a few moments, before turning and leaving.

"Los," House told the empty office, "keinen ist los." He flicked through the book to peer at another page, and the lines in his forehead deepened perceptibly.

Foreman strode in next, and Foreman had always been the best at that special sense of urgency.

"House!" he barked. "We need a differential now."

"Mmm. The patient's dying, isn't he?" House muttered irritably. "Alles ist los," he added with a degree of pride, before slamming the book shut with what Foreman considered unnecessary force. The neurologist eyed his more-irate-than-usual boss, before shaking his head and leaving the office.

A few minutes later, they were gathered in the conference room, and House wasn't scrawling on the whiteboard. When queried on this, he distractedly shoved the pens at Foreman, before returning his gimlet stare to the book. By this stage, all three of the minions were attempting to catch a look at the front cover of whatever it was that had taken House's snark clear away from him.

"Fee-your werk?" Chase queried softly, puzzlement in his eyes.

"It's pronounced foyer-verk for your information," House said testily, not looking up.

"What is it?" Cameron asked.

"A book. Are we fixing the dying guy or what?" The blue eyes remained fixed on the page, flicking back and forth. Occasionally, he'd mutter something under his breath.

They carried out the differential without him. It was a somber experience indeed.

"It's not as though we haven't done without him before," Cameron pointed out uneasily. The ducklings were clustered around a table in the canteen, looking very much like conspirators plotting the overthrow of the government. A security guard had his eye on them.

"True," Chase said, endeavoring to look thoughtful and failing dismally, "but we had him on speaker phone. And at least he was paying attention to us."

"I don't like that book," Foreman said darkly. "He's too interested in it. I haven't seen him this weird since Chase gave him that unsolvable Sudoku puzzle."

They all nodded. Chase crossed himself. That had been a most worrying week. The Australian doctor, knowing House's obsession with solving puzzles, had carefully whited out half of the numbers supplied on a jumbo Sudoku puzzle, rendering it impossible to complete, and left it casually on his boss's desk. House had come to work two mornings with huge circles under his eyes and a demeanor that made a bear with a sore head seem like the pinnacle of politeness, before Chase found the puzzle, wrinkled and coffee-stained, completed on House's desk.

"He did it by trial and error," Chase murmured wondrously. "He must have."

"Whatever that book's about, I don't like it," Cameron said flatly. "House is obsessed with it."

"And you'd rather he be obsessed with something else?" Foreman queried. A sly glint came into his eyes.

"Like you?" Chase added unnecessarily. Cameron glared at them both.

"I'm going to see Cuddy," she announced testily, before stalking away from the table.

A few floors above them, sitting in his closed office, House swore viciously and hurled his cane across the room. This was harder than he'd ever dreamed it would be, and House had some pretty weird dreams.

"Alright, what's House done now?" Cuddy asked testily. It was fast becoming her standard query of anyone marching into her office with a resolute look on their faces. Cameron deflated somewhat.

"It's more what he hasn't done."

"What hasn't House done now?"

"His job."

"Ah," Cuddy said wisely. Surreptitiously, she opened up a game of Solitaire on her computer, before giving Cameron her best 'I'm noting this all down in my head and will deal with it as soon as you're gone' look.

"He's got some kind of book and he's reading it and muttering to himself, and the patient's dying and he doesn't care and we can't fix it and it isn't fair," Cameron finished plaintively, eyes brimming with indignant tears.

"Is it a book of Sudoku?" Cuddy asked, looking interested.

"No. It's called foyer-work and he's obsessed with it," Cameron breathed. "Like – more obsessed than he is with his motorbike."

The two women shared a brief moment of awe at this fact, before Cuddy broke it briskly.

"Well, I'll see. Go back to trying to fix Mr. Whatsisface. I'm sure you can do it without House."

Cameron left. Cuddy quietly celebrated a new record in Solitaire victory time.

(AN: Swearing starts in earnest here. Just a heads-up.)

Wilson was worried. He'd been standing in the doorway to House's office for three minutes now, wearing a bright orange tie, and House hadn't said anything even remotely snarky.

"House?" he ventured. House looked up from the book. The look in his eye was something close to panic.

"What kind of a sick bastard would put ten different forms of 'the' into one fucking language?"

"Bad time?"

"How sadistic do you need to be to put a fucking gender on every single noun, totally devoid of any kind of pattern?"

"Bad time."

"No wonder they started two world wars."

"Oh, are you learning German?" Wilson said brightly, crossing to stand in front of the desk and peer at the book upside-down. The fixed mania in House's eyes caused him to take a step back.

"Learning? Learning! Try being assaulted by. Try fighting with and failing. Try screaming at a brick wall that's encased in soundproof foam, underwater."

"Not going too well, then?" Wilson queried sympathetically. "Got to the dative case yet?"

The heavy breathing served as an affirmative answer. Wilson nodded sagely.

"There a particular reason you're learning German?"

"There was," House said moodily. "I can't remember, though, on account of the fact that most of my mind appears to be a seething vat of homicidal urges."

"The past imperfect can do that to a person."

"How d'you know about the past imperfect?"

"I studied German for twelve years."

"You can speak it?" House looked very much like a man who was seeing light at the end of a tunnel.

"Oh, God no," Wilson replied, looking horrified, and House deflated.

"You studied for twelve years and you can't speak it?"

"No. But I know how to structure a sentence," Wilson added happily.

"How do they function?" House demanded mournfully, dropping his head onto the desk and dislodging his sheet of prepositions. Wilson peered at it.

"This may not be the time, but zu takes the dative," he said helpfully. House rose to his feet and stalked out of the office, swinging his bag over his shoulder as he went. Wilson shrugged, before settling at House's desk and proceeding to correct his adjective endings.

Two days later, House strode through the hallways with a look of dire concentration in his bloodshot eyes. He looked, quite frankly, like death warmed over with a ten-watt light bulb, and in his eyes were horrors no mortal man should ever have to endure. He marched into a room and began to speak with the air of a man clinging to his last thread of sanity.

"Du. Mann. Sprech mit mir."

"Ja, was ist es?"

"Wie gehts?"

"Uh – nicht so gut. Ich bin im Krankenhaus, nein? Tut mir leid – wer sind Sie?"

"Das macht nichts. Haben sie – fuck - Herz...shmerzen?"

"Uh. Kummer?"

"Nein, Herzschmerzen. Tut dein Herz weh?"

"Ein bißchen, vielleicht. Warum?"

" Richtig," House said grimly. He went to leave, before turning back. "Lern Englisch," he instructed. "Bitte. Es ist furchtbar einfacher als Deutsch."

"Ich kenne Englisch."

"You do not."

"I do."

There was a silence. House broke it in aponderous kind of way that threatened to become all-out lunacy within about four minutes.

"Well, fuck."

"Someone could have told me," House hissed to the room at large. His head was in his hands, and whenever he spoke, the ducklings flinched. Cuddy was in the doorway, trying not to look amused.

"I only said he was German," she pointed out mildly, "I didn't say he spoke it exclusively."

"Someone could have told me," House repeated. Foreman rolled his eyes.

"You could have mentioned that you wanted to know if he had chest pains," he pointed out patiently. "Then we could have asked him, and he could have told us."

"Shut up, Foreman."

"Didn't you wonder how we got the history?" Cameron said blandly.

"No. I was too busy learning how to conjugate haben, which is fucking hard for your information. Habe, hast, hat," he added, mostly to himself, and faint pride shone through the anguish.

"At least we fixed the guy," Chase pointed out helpfully. "He's going home now."

"Back to German-land, where nouns have genders and the syllable sie can mean sixteen totally separate things," House muttered.

"He lives twenty minutes from here."

"Go away, Chase."

Chase went away. After a brief pause, the others followed, leaving a thoroughly broken House staring at the wall.

It was some time later.

"So, are you planning on telling him you maliciously withheld the fact that the patient spoke fluent English from him?" Wilson queried, one eyebrow raised.

"No," Cuddy responded blankly. "It all worked out well. House didn't make anyone angry for three days, the patient got cured, and I got three days of peace. And a high-score in Solitaire," she added with some satisfaction. "Everyone wins."

"But House studied German for three days," Wilson pointed out. People have said "But they fed him shards of broken glass, chopped off all his toes and put him in a hessian sack that contained four rabid porcupines with anger management problemswhile forcing him to listen to James Blunt's new song fifty times over" in much the same tone. Cuddy shrugged.

"Every silver lining has a cloud."


Meanwhile, House got so thoroughly drunk that he forgot his name, his address, where he worked, the chief export of Belgium, and (thank God) the dative form of 'ihr'.

So everyone was happy, really.

Except for the millions of people for whom German is the only way of communicating with one another, butthey brought it upon themselves byinventing the language, so that's their problem.