Cuddy frowned as she read the patient's file and there was a suspicious look on her face when she finally looked up and met his gaze. "John Smith?" she asked skeptically.
The man grinned at her. "Yes?"
She sighed to herself, silently taking in the long scarf that he had wrapped around his neck. His clothing wasn't exactly what could be considered "in style," but she supposed it wasn't that out of the ordinary for a cold winter's day. Considering that it was the middle of July, though, she was starting to get the impression that it was going to be one of those days. Well, maybe she'd get lucky and he was just a little unconventional.
"First of all, I'd like to apologize for Dr. House storming out on you earlier. He had another case come up, and he felt that a . . ." Cuddy glanced down at the chart again, ". . . temporary shortness of breath wasn't quite as an important."
He chuckled. "Of course," he said, his eyes twinkling, "and it had nothing to do with my companion calling him an idiotic ape and explaining the reasons she came to that conclusion in great detail."
Cuddy's mouth twitched. "I will admit," she replied after a moment's pause, "it was the first time that I've ever seen House speechless."
"Romana is good at that," the man replied, nodding.
She smiled as she pulled out her stethoscope. Maybe this John Smith wasn't entirely insane after all. A little eccentric, yes, but that wasn't too bad. "Where is your friend now?"
His grin broadened. "Oh, she's making sure that your Dr. House finds a cure to the alien virus his patient has before it has a chance to wipe out the entire planet."
Cuddy's smile grew a little forced as she placed the stethoscope against his chest. And, as usual, it looked as if she had spoken a little too soon. "Well then, Mr. Smith, I guess th--" She trailed off, her smile fading. Hesitantly, as if she couldn't believe what she was doing, she moved the stethoscope over to the other side of his chest. "What . . . ?"
She pulled away from the man, staring openly at him. He just grinned back.
"I need to get a second opinion," Cuddy said hurriedly, a shocked look on her face.
As she turned and practically dashed from the room, the Doctor shook his head in amusement. "Humans."
"I told you," Romana said primly, leaning back in her chair. "That's all you need to keep the virus from spreading."
Four sets of eyes stared back at her.
"Who are you again?" Chase asked slowly.
Foreman nodded. "And why hasn't House kicked you out yet?"
Romana glanced at House, and - after a moment - both Foreman and Chase followed her cue.
House just shrugged. "Both are valid questions."
"My name is Romana," she said, tilting head a bit. "And I assume it's because he knows that I'm correct."
Cameron let her gaze drift between the four of them for a second before finally settling on House. "Do you want us to try the drug combination she suggested?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. Her hand unconsciously slipped into her pocket for the third time since Romana had followed House into the room less than an hour earlier.
Romana shot her a thoughtful look. House, on the other hand, merely looked bored. "Yes, yes," he said, waving. "Foreman, Chase, go give the patient the cocktail our friend suggested."
Foreman cleared his throat. "Do you even know who she is?" he asked pointedly.
"Not a clue," House replied. "Are you going?"
"You're taking the advice of a complete stranger?" Chase said uncertainly. "You're giving a patient medicine based on the advice of a complete stranger? A complete stranger who probably isn't even a doctor?"
House shrugged. "It shouldn't kill him," he replied. "And she seems sure of herself."
They kept staring.
"Go!" House said, snapping his fingers impatiently.
Foreman and Chase shot each other incredulously looks, but they didn't say another word as they hurried from the room. Cameron looked over at House and just stood there, patiently waiting.
After several seconds, House finally glanced over at her. "What are you waiting for?"
"You haven't told me what you want me to do," Cameron replied.
House slowly started to grin, but - before he could say anything - Romana made a thoughtful sound. "Could you tell me what's in your pocket?" she asked, causing House to look at her askance.
Cameron blinked in surprise as she glanced down at her pocket, apparently just realizing that her hand was in it, but she obediently pulled it back out. An old pocket watch lay in the palm of her hand, its outside covered in ornate script. "It just a watch," she said, shrugging. "I keep it with me for good luck."
House snorted, but he kept his mouth shut when Cameron shot him a dirty look. Romana unconsciously reached up to rub her suddenly aching temples.
All right, call me Fred.
Romana stared at the watch, a thoroughly surprised look on her face. "Wherever did you get that?" she asked as she moved her gaze up to meet Cameron's.
Cameron shot her an odd look. "I've had it my entire life," she replied. "It's a family heirloom, I guess. I've never really thought about it."
"Have you never opened it?" Romana asked curiously.
Cameron blinked in surprise. "No," she said slowly. "Why would I? It's broken."
Romana raised an eyebrow. "How do you know?"
"Because . . ." Cameron trailed off, a confused look on her face, "isn't it obviously broken?"
House snapped his fingers. "You," he said to Romana, "stop confusing my doctors. That's my job." He looked over at Cameron. "Go help Foreman and Chase before they go running to Cuddy."
Cameron looked at Romana for another second, a hint of vague recognition buried deep in her eyes, before glancing over at House and nodding. She slipped the watch back in her pocket and hurried from the room, not looking back.
Romana watched her leave. "Now that was unexpected," she said, almost unaware that House was even still in the room. "I'll have to make sure the Doctor comes back here sometime in the future."
House cleared his throat, and Romana waved her hand as she looked over at him. "It's nothing you would understand," she said. "Now, tell me, why did you listen to what I had to say about your patient?"
He smirked at her. "Maybe that's for me to know."
Before she had a chance to reply, there was a knock at the door. Wilson poked his head in, briefly shooting Romana a curious look before turning his attention toward House. "Cuddy wants you to take back a patient you had earlier."
House raised an eyebrow. "I only had one patient earlier, and he was faking an illness so that he could sneak a friend into the hospital."
Romana glanced over at him. "Maybe you're not as idiotic as I thought," she said thoughtfully. House snorted.
"He has two hearts, one on each side of his chest," Wilson said pointedly. "We both checked."
House smirked. "Really?" he asked. "I'm shocked and amazed to hear that bit of information."
A suspicious look appeared on Romana's face as she glanced over at House. "You've met the Doctor before," she said accusingly.
The smirk on House's face grew even larger as he ignored her and turned his attention to Wilson. "Has Cuddy convinced herself that she's crazy yet?" he asked, leaning forward a bit. "If she hasn't, then I think we should leave Mr. John Smith as her problem for a little longer."
Cameron dropped down in an empty chair, slipping her hand into her pocket and pulling out the watch that she kept there. The last twenty-four hours had been crazier than usual, and - now that the patient seemed to be out of danger - she just wanted to collapse for awhile and get some rest.
She frowned as she glanced down at the watch in her hand. It was odd now that she thought about it, but she'd never once opened it over the years. Like Romana had said, how did she know it didn't work? It really wasn't obvious from the outside, but. . . it had to be broken.
Cameron bit her lip and, for the first time, really looked at the watch in her hand. It was more ornate than she'd realized, covered in beautiful markings that were familiar even though she wasn't sure where she had seen them. Where had she gotten it? It had to have come from somewhere, but she didn't actually remember a time when she hadn't had it.
It's funny, but you know, before I met you, I was actually willing to be impressed.
She gasped in surprise as a voice filled her head, achingly familiar yet wrong at the same time. The watch in her hand suddenly felt heavy, as if it realized she had noticed it and wanted to keep her attention. Of course, that was ridiculous. It was just a watch, nothing more.
You do know that sarcasm's an adjustive stress reaction?
Cameron looked down at the watch, surprised to find it difficult to keep her gaze on it. Even though she knew it was there, it was almost as if something didn't want her noticing it. Cameron narrowed her eyes, focusing her gaze on the watch as she took in a deep breath. It took almost all of her concentration, but she slowly started to open it.
I thought you told me Earth was civilized now.
"Cameron!" Chase suddenly flung the door open, looking for all the world like a child who had just been told that Christmas had come early. "You're never going to believe what's going on out here."
She jumped slightly in surprise as she quickly met his gaze. The watch in her hand snapped shut, already forgotten now that her attention had been drawn away from it. "What?"
Chase grinned at her. "Remember that clinic patient of House's from last night?" he asked. "The one who came in with the mystery woman who told us how to cure our patient?"
Cameron raised an eyebrow. "The one that Cuddy was freaking out over," she asked, thinking back. "Wasn't his name John Smith or something like that?"
"Yeah, not that anyone actually believed that was his name," Chase said, waving his hand dismissively.
"I remember hearing about him," she said, shaking her hand as she unconsciously slipped the watch back into his pocket. "Why?"
If it was possible, Chase's grin seemed to grow even broader. "Apparently there's a guy out there acting like he's the same person."
Cameron stared at him.
"It's a completely different guy," Chase said, his smile fading a bit when he noticed that she didn't seem that amused. "He's got to be at least ten years younger, and he's all dressed up in a suit with - get this - a pair of Converse."
She kept staring. "And this is such a big deal because. . . ?"
Chase leaned in, his eyes twinkling. "House is convinced that it's the same guy."
"You're kidding," Cameron said disbelievingly.
He shook his head. "I think he's almost got Wilson and Cuddy persuaded."
The incredulous look on her face didn't fade.
"Come on," Chase said, waving her forward, "you've got to come see this. Seriously, I'm not making it up."
Cameron shot him another uncertain look, but she didn't argue as she slipped past him and out into the hall. A quiet voice whispered almost inaudibly to her as she walked, and her hand slowly slipped into her pocket and wrapped itself around the watch.