Takes place a few weeks after One Day, One Room. I figured it's reasonable that House wouldn't try to follow up with the girl, but who says she wouldn't try to follow up with him?
"House. Exam room three. Now."
He sighed. He hadn't made it ten seconds without being tapped for clinic duty… of course, he was three hours late for work today…
There would be other fights he could pick with Cuddy. For now, he just rolled his eyes at her, barged into the exam room, and popped two pills before even speaking. "House in the house!"
A young woman sat cross-legged on the exam table. "Dr. House, hello. Do you, um… remember me?" He frowned, unable to place her at first, and she looked crushed.
The crushed look helped. "Rape girl!" he recognized, then winced. "That was incredibly insensitive of me."
"That's okay." She actually smiled a little. "Better than not being remembered, I guess."
He tossed her file down without looking at it and straddled a chair backwards. "So, what's the occasion? Are you actually sick, or do you just want to talk?"
He crammed a world of distaste and suspicion into the word, but she didn't get flustered. "Both."
"Let's do the fun, productive part first. What's wrong with you?"
"I haven't been sleeping well. I was wondering if you could prescribe some insomnia stuff. And also… when I was here last time they told me I should come back for… you know…"
"HIV testing," he realized. "But it's only been a couple of weeks, and you're supposed to wait at least... Ah. You knew that." She nodded, looking at the floor. "So, you're here because you can't sleep, and you want to talk. This isn't going to be fun at all. Why don't you try a psychiatrist?"
"No," she said firmly. "I tried. It made my skin crawl. I figured you'd understand." He didn't argue with her. "Also, I thought of you because… the reason I'm not sleeping is I'm alone now – my boyfriend left me. We broke up because he-" she choked up a little and took a breath.
"Because he found out what happened to you," House finished for her after a while. "Look, I'm sorry, but… I don't know what to tell you."
"Me neither – I don't know what I should have done. And I don't know who I can ask, either, because he's the only other person I even told about it." He knew something personal was coming by the way she looked at him, and braced himself. "Do you ever keep secrets?"
That was an easy bullet to dodge. "If I told them to you, then they wouldn't actually be secrets."
"Don't play with me," she snapped, angry all of a sudden. "How can you act that way to a-"
"To a what?" he demanded when she stopped. "A victim? Don't give me that – look at you, you're doing ten times better than half the women your age, raped or not. You're together. Time's passing. You'll heal."
"I was going to say to a friend," she said, "But then I realized that was- I have no idea where it came from. I'm sorry."
He shrugged it off uncomfortably. "It's fine. And I guess you're welcome to play the victim card if you want – the first word out of my mouth whenever I want something is cripple, so I can tell you for sure it works."
"I won't use it as an excuse, for anything. I don't like people to know," she said quietly, picking at her sweater. "I mean, how do you think it feels to have everything you do colored by people's guesses and assumptions… The counselors, the other doctor they tried to pawn me off on, they don't even know me, and they automatically think I'm… damaged."
"Gee, I don't know." House pointedly scratched the back of his neck with his cane. "Must suck."
"So keep it a secret," he suggested.
"Is that what you would do, if you could?"
House looked irritated that she had pointed the conversation back at him again. "Yes," he said firmly, "I would like to keep my pain secret, but I can't, because I need it to explain the Vicodin – which is definitely not a secret." He took out his bottle and dry-swallowed another pill for emphasis. She was watching him thoughtfully. "What?"
"If you really wanted to, you could hide or stop the Vicodin," she pointed out.
"But you're proud," she shot back. "It can't be easy to let people see you hurt all the time. Why do you really do it?"
"Remind me: who's the patient here, again?"
She wouldn't drop her eyes, and no matter where House looked he could feel them locked on him. "This is helping me. I want to understand what you're thinking." Her voice softened. "Please?"
He looked back at her and tried to seem annoyed. "Give it up – you can't make me feel sorry for you."
"And you can't shut me out. Talk."
He thought that skipping out on her and dealing with a bunch of other random clinic patients might actually be easier… and then told himself it was ridiculous to think that she could have gotten under his skin. "The pain explains my sunny and joyous personality," he muttered at last. "And that, unlike the Vicodin, I couldn't hide. No matter how much I wanted to."
"I think you shouldn't have to hide who you are." She was raising her voice a little, sounding injured. "Not from people who care about you!"
Aha. The boyfriend again. House shrugged. "There are those who would hide parts of themselves because they care about someone," he explained. "Making sure the person doesn't stick around with them out of guilt. If you're actually damaged, hiding it does your friends a favor – frees them from the burden of treating you with kid gloves. Which is especially nice if you find the feel of kid gloves repellant."
"So you'd rather carry a burden all yourself than share it with your loved ones?"
"If you're strong enough, why not?"
"Personal questions are supposed to be answered with I, not you," she scolded. "Why do you do that? It's annoying."
"Then get lost," he said brightly. "Here's a scrip. Don't stay on it any longer than you need to. Come back when it's time for your HIV test." He hesitated, then tore off another sheet and wrote something else. "My cell – in case you need anything in the meantime."
She took it with raised eyebrows. "Like what, to talk?"
He shrugged and then, as though panicked by what he'd done, picked up his cane and headed out without another word or glance in her direction.
He wasn't twenty feet down the hall when his phone rang. He flipped it open and it was a text: "908 555 8842. My number. Same reason."
The office phone rang, an unfamiliar outside number. He picked it up. "House."
The voice on the other end was quiet. "Dr. House, hello. It's St-… um, it's Rape Girl."
"Rape Girl," he repeated brightly, mainly to shock his team. "How are ya?"
House swiveled his chair around for a little bit of privacy. "You need to schedule an HIV test and a pelvic exam to make sure everything's okay after the termination."
"I know. I'm scared." There was a short pause during which he guessed what was coming, and then she told him, "I want you to do it."
"No. I'll refer you to-"
"God, you're stubborn," he sighed, exasperated. "Were you always like this, or is it just an afterwards thing – you know, sharing the misery with everyone around you?"
She sucked in her breath fast, but didn't answer right away. "I'm onto you," she said a moment later. "You're just trying to piss me off. It won't work. I still want you.'
"Damn." His actual patient needed his attention, so House cut the conversation short rather than argue for another ten minutes. "Come by the clinic on Friday. We'll duke it out then."
When he hung up and turned back around, his team was all ready to jump down his throat. Cameron was first: "House, was that-"
"Please tell me you didn't just…" Chase said over her.
Foreman sounded shocked and disappointed. "Wilson told us you connected with her. How could you-"
At that moment his cell went off. Glad for the distraction, House answered it on the first ring. "Didn't I just hang up on you?" She asked if noon would be a good time. He told her noon was fine, and hung up again. He was still getting some very strange looks. "What?" he snapped at them.
"You're going to rearrange your lunch break for her?" Chase sounded a little jealous.
So did Cameron: "She has your cell?"
Foreman didn't say anything, but House snapped at all three of them anyway and sent them scurrying off in a panic to run a bunch of tests.
Friday at noon:
"Nice haircut," he said right away.
"Thanks." She tucked a loose lock of it behind her ear. "So… what's first?"
He found he didn't like the way her body language changed, the way she hugged herself, ducking her head.
"First we draw a little blood and send it over to the lab. Then, we send you to an OB/GYN." She shot him a look and crossed her arms over her chest. "Unless of course you decide you want an untrained amateur poking around down there instead of a qualified expert, in which case I toss you up in those stirrups and do it myself." Too harsh? "In a very… nonviolent and consensual way."
"You don't have to do that," she said, rolling her eyes. "It's okay to treat me normal."
He pulled up a chair and sat down. "Good, because as far as I'm concerned, you are normal," he said, opening her file. "A normal, healthy patient – who lies on her admission form."
"Said you're not taking any medications. In what world doesn't birth control qualify as a medication?"
"Oh. Ow," she complained at the stick of the needle. "Well, that's nobody's business but mine. And how did you know?"
"Nobody's business but yours – and your doctor's," he corrected. "And I knew because first off I assumed you might have started taking precautions after what happened, and also because it was either that or you got a very small and natural boob job, a new skin-care regimen, a-"
"Okay. I get it."
"What are you on?" He noted it in her file, then opened the door and limped over to the nurses' station and gave them the blood sample. When he got back, she was wearing a sulky, mulish look he recognized. "I said no," he insisted. "No means no, remember? I'd think you of all people-"
"Because I haven't had to stare at crotches for two weeks. I'm trying to keep my streak alive." This was a total lie – he'd swabbed half a dozen crotches since the weekend.
"Please? I'd rather have you than some random stranger."
"But I am some random stranger!"
"No," she corrected serenely, "You're my doctor. You just said so."
House was a little at a loss – he couldn't remember the last time someone had called him my doctor and meant anything beyond the guy currently working on my case. Anomalies were interesting… and although this one made him feel a little claustrophobic, he would admit that there was something a tiny bit nice about it too.
"Right," he said after a moment. "How's this: you go to somebody who does crotches for a living, and I'll be right here for when your test results come back."
He could tell she expected him to disappear as soon as her back was turned, but she let him deposit her in a room with an OB/GYN without any further trouble. He hung around the clinic, pretending to work, and waited.
After her exam, she was shocked to see him. "You waited?"
Of course not. This is an optical illusion. "Yeah. I'm your doctor, right?" He smiled when she did, then led her over to the waiting room and sat down. "I'm testing out new methods of not working," he explained. "They already know I hide in exam rooms, so I'm hoping with all the hustle and bustle and babies screaming, I won't be noticed here."
"So you're just sitting with me so you don't have to see any more patients?" she asked suspiciously.
"Yep." House fidgeted a bit and then turned to look at her. "Cept the just."
She turned a little shy and asked what he had been up to lately. He told her the first story that came to mind: the stolen parking space, and how he'd had to ride around in a wheelchair for a whole week to get it back.
She laughed in all the right places and afterwards said, "You never told me what happened to your leg."
"I never told a lot of people what happened to my leg."
"You weren't born with it?"
"No. Infarction. Treated with bed rest and antibiotics. Led to muscle death…" he was restless all of a sudden, twirling his cane between his hands and poking at the floor with it. "I know the file inside and out now, but when it actually happened…" He shrugged. "Took me three days."
"You? You shouldn't have had to diagnose yourself." She sounded almost reproachful.
"Would have been nice if I had, though, wouldn't it?"
She didn't miss the bitterness in his tone, or what it meant. "It's not your fault," she whispered.
"I know that."
"But you don't believe it." He gave an impatient shrug, and she shook her head. "How can you be so hard on yourself? It must have been terrifying…"
"I thought I was going to die," he said flatly. "Which is no excuse for not thinking." He stood up and started pacing. "Can we not talk about this?"
"Okay." She smiled a little and asked, "Should we talk about the weather?"
"Weather's fine," he said absently, watching the nurses' station. Someone had just brought in an armload of files, and they were looking through and looking around…
She followed his gaze. "Oh my God-"
All of a sudden she was gasping for breath. "Hey. Hey, calm down," he ordered. When that didn't work, he put both hands on her shoulders. She seized his wrist and hid her face against his forearm, so he called for someone to bring his file over here. The other runny-nose patients had begun edging away, giving them some space. "Let me see," he told the nurse quietly. She opened the file for him and held it up so he could look without detaching himself from the panicking patient. He scanned it quickly. "Clean – you're clean."
She burst into tears and hugged him around the waist. "Uh…" he tried clearing his throat but she wouldn't let go. Finally, his arms tired from holding them up away from her in the air, he dropped a hand to the back of her head. "Okay, well, whenever you're ready, it would be a great time for you to start letting go of me."
Eventually she pulled herself together and sat back. "Sorry. I just… the waiting…"
"I know, waiting sucks. But it's over now." So as not to start remembering how it had felt after the ketamine, waiting around wondering whether the leg pain was coming back, House reached for his pills and took one. "Yum. So you're done."
She got up and impulsively made a grab for his hand. "Walk me to my car? You could avoid seeing patients for another ten minutes…"
"You know me so well." But then he caught sight of Wilson hovering around the lobby and confessed: "But this is my lunch break. I should go."
"Oh. Okay. Well… goodbye, Dr. House. You've still got my number, if, you know… anything."
"Yeah. Same to you. Goodbye, um…"
"Right. Stephanie." As soon as she was gone he flipped open his phone and looked up R for Rape Girl. Edit Entry, said one button. Delete, said the other. He pursed his lips thoughtfully.
Comments are super appreciated. I have a longer story in mind I'm about to start on, so if my House needs tweaking, let me know now!