Disclaimer: Come on! If they were mine, would I really be here? Of course not! I'd be too busy hanging out with Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard!
Author's note: This is kind of a little AU, in which Foreman's gone but Chase and Cameron aren't. And my apologies for any similarities between this and my Bones story, "The New Squint". They were the result of seperate stories I made from a ridiculous crossover I tried to write, but couldn't make work. Please let me know if you like it, so I'll know whether or not to continue.
Cuddy had not seen House this excited since he had stopped the clinical funding on that migraine medicine his old rival had come up with. It immediately made her on her guard when he hurried into her office, waving a piece of paper in his hand. "I need your signature on this," he said, placing it in front of her folded so that all that was visible was the signature line.
It was a good try, but not that good. She had been doing this for a while, and could recognize a fund requisition form from a mile away. "I'm not signing this until you tell me what I'm buying. And no, season tickets to the Flyers can NOT be written off as 'mental health expenses'."
He pouted. "But all the violence of the hockey games is soothing to a stressed out doctor!" She seemed unmoved. "It's for a plane ticket and a hotel voucher."
"Where are you going?"
"I'm not going anywhere. I'm bringing someone here."
Now she was totally confused. "And this has to do with me how…?"
He was getting impatient. "You wanted me to replace Foreman."
She was surprised. House had to be pressured for months to hire first Chase, than even more for the others. "I wasn't even aware you were looking for another neurologist."
"I wasn't. And this kid's not a neurologist." He pulled a letter out of his pocket and placed it down on the desk in front of her. She scanned it quickly.
"Alex Gray. Why does that name sound familiar?"
"It's been all over the medical journals. This trauma and endocrinology wonder-child is supposed to be the most brilliant thing since Pasteur. And I got that letter a few days ago, inquiring about the position. I said we'd get a plane ticket and hotel voucher her way and get her up here for an interview."
"Her?" said Cuddy, putting things together. "What does she look like?"
House was a little surprised at the question. "What do you mean?"
Cuddy rolled her eyes. "Come on! I saw the nutritionist you tried to slip in. Let me guess: she's 5'10", long blond hair, and a size two waist?"
"Honestly?" House asked. "I have no idea. I've never so much as seen a picture."
Okay, it wasn't for her body. "Then what am I missing?"
House shook his head. It wasn't supposed to be this difficult. "She's perfect for the job." He sat down, sure that this was going to take a while. "She's absolutely brilliant." Cuddy was taken aback. House would NEVER give someone that kind of compliment. He continued. "With proper training, she could be almost as good as me!"
"And 'proper training' insinuates you?"
Cuddy sighed. "You know we don't pay travel expenses for job interviews."
House stood up. "For this kid, you do."
"Wilson!" House exclaimed, bursting into the office. "I need you."
A sigh came from the pile of papers House was sure was hiding the oncologist. "I miss you too dear," he replied, "But it's that time of the month." He shoved aside the stack of paperwork he was way behind on. "What is it you need?"
House was way too chipper, almost excited. "I want you to sit in on this meeting."
Wilson looked at his watch. "Oh, yeah. You have a job interview. You want me to be there for the House-to-English translation?"
"It's not a job interview."
He raised an eyebrow. "It's not? Come on, you're not doing this to get a date again, are you? Because even Cuddy saw through the thing with the nutritionist!"
House rolled his eyes. "It's not a job interview because the job is hers. I just have to convince her to settle for the peanuts they are offering for a salary. I just want your thoughts on her."
Now Wilson was intrigued. This was a mystery that would fascinate House, if he could see it from Wilson's point of view. He hated hiring new people, hated dealing with new people, hated change in general. What was so special about this doctor? "Okay…so, you need me for the translation, then?"
House smiled. "If I read this kid right, you won't have to."
Wilson was on his way to House's office to sit in on this non-interview when his damsel-in-distress radar went off. Just to his left he saw a girl on crutches struggling to get off the elevator. The door had closed on her right crutch, and was caught. He rushed to her aid, prying the doors open with his fingers. When he had opened it enough, she pulled it free and he let go. The doors slammed shut violently. He shrugged. "Sorry. Those doors have problems from time to time. Just a lucky thing that it wasn't an arm or leg."
"Thanks," she said. The girl was trying to get her freed crutch under her, but it had been damaged by the elevator door, and snapped under her weight. Wilson caught her before she hit the ground. She giggled as he helped her steady herself on her feet again. He glanced around self-consciously, hoping to not have to explain to any passers-by why he had his arms around the waist of this obviously underage girl. He may have a reputation as a panty chaser, but he didn't need rumors that he was taking this kid to the prom. Soon she was steady enough on her one remaining crutch, and he got a decent look at her. She looked to be about 16, with curly red hair that wasn't quite shoulder length pulled back in a white cotton headband. An ortho-glass splint covered her left ankle almost to her knee. "It isn't often a white knight shows up just when I need one. Doesn't anyone feed the elevators around here?"
He laughed a little, surprised by her joke. "Can I help you get somewhere?" he asked, picking up the broken pieces of her useless crutch. "I'll go get you a set of aluminum ones from the clinic once you get where you're going. I'm Dr. Wilson, by the way." He extended his hand, and she shook it, leaning heavily on her remaining crutch.
"Alex," she replied. "And I'm just going right up here." She motioned down the hallway, and he fell into step with her awkward gait. It wasn't difficult, given all his years matching step with House, but this was the painful steps of a new injury coupled with the recent loss of half her support. He couldn't imagine what she could be doing on this floor. Unless she had cancer, but she hadn't responded to his name, so probably not one of his. He was still pondering this when she stopped in front of House's office. She gave him a vaguely charming smile, as if she wasn't used to asking for help. "Could you get the door, please?"
It took a second for all of it to come together in his mind. "What did you say your name was again?" He pulled the door open.
"Dr. Alexis Gray. You can call me Alex." She hobbled into the office, a bewildered Wilson a few steps behind.
House was sitting behind the desk playing his PSP, so totally engrossed in his game that he didn't even notice his visitors until she was lowering herself into the chair opposite him, and Wilson the other one. Finally, he looked up as she lost her balance and sat down hard in the chair. "Are you lost?" He asked.
She looked at him carefully for a moment. "No," she said slowly. "I'm supposed to interview with Dr. House. According to the door over there, you are either him or some weird janitor hiding in Dr. House's office. Are you Dr. House, or should I have security paged."
House smiled. "You're Dr. Gray! Wow, you look a lot younger than you are."
Wilson took this opportunity to voice his thoughts. "House, you kept saying 'kid', but I didn't know you meant…How old are you?"
She rolled her eyes. "I'm 24. Yes, I'm young. Yes, I look younger. I'm also a damn good doctor, and I assume that's why I'm here."
Wilson's mouth gaped like a fish. 24? No way! House, however, wasn't surprised. "So," he said, gesturing toward her remaining crutch. "What happened to you?"
"Street hockey," she replied. "What happened to you?" His cane was leaning against the desk.
"Blood clot," he replied just as quickly.
"Ouch," she commented. "Bet mine was more fun."
House hid his grin. He definitely liked the kid. "Did you get the goal?"
"You bet. And the penalty shot, too."
"On a broken ankle?"
"Just a grade 3 sprain. No big deal."
"Not bad. So, let's cut to the chase. Why do you think this is the place for you?"
She shrugged. "You're the best. I'm going to be the best. Logic follows that the best way to get there is for you to teach me."
"Can't argue with that," House replied. "So, tomorrow, 9 a.m.?"
She struggled to her feet, with Wilson's help. "I'll go get you some better crutches," he said, "just wait right here." He disappeared out the door.
Not willing to risk sitting down again, she leaned against the wall. House got a chance to get a good look at his latest fellow. She was tall for a woman, about 5'9", slight, athletic built. "Oh, and you can just dress normal tomorrow," he tossed out there. "You don't have to go out of your way to dress up for this job."
Alex looked down at her new outfit, wondering what gave it away. Scanning her khakis and olive green sweater, she saw it. "The creases in the pants. They're too deep to have been done by a regular iron."
He nodded, impressed. "Yeah, they had to have come that way. Only an industrial iron could have done that, and it's a pretty safe bet that a girl who doesn't wear makeup to a job interview wouldn't own an industrial iron."
She blushed. "I don't wear much makeup…"
"Nothing wrong with that. We have more important things to worry about, here. For instance, can you make good coffee?"
She grinned. "You bet. Wouldn't have made it this far this fast if I couldn't."
Through the glass, they saw Wilson headed their way with a set of aluminum crutches, so she started hobbling toward the door. "Hey, kid!" House called, just before she reached the exit, and she turned, almost losing her balance. "The 'inspected by #14' tag is still on your sweater."
She looked down at the bottom of the sweater, and blushed as she plucked it off. "See ya' tomorrow, boss!"
House grinned as he watched Wilson help her switch out the one weak wooden crutches for the two sturdy aluminum ones. Yeah, this was going to be fun. He definitely liked this kid.