"Sometimes, I am wrong."
Aren't we all, Taub thinks, but he's surprised to hear House say that. The way he'd always heard it, House is either a madman who thinks he's a genius, or a genius who's actually a madman. He still hasn't decided what to believe.
Taub isn't certain yet if the t-shirt and jeans, the stubble and the unkempt hair is supposed to make House look like a genius or like a madman. Maybe it's a little of both. Taub met him once before. Well, not met, more like someone pointed House out across the room during a conference. It was years ago, when Taub was just finishing his residency and was on the hunt for a practice that was hiring. House didn't have the cane then.
The rumor was that House had just been fired and was looking for another job, but he wasn't making the rounds with the rest of the unemployed schlubs. No schmoozing between sessions, no invites to take a potential employer out for drinks. He'd ignored everyone, as if he expected them to come to him. And they did. Taub would see doctors sidle up to House's table during the lunch and dinner breaks. Sometimes he'd nod at them, and they'd pull out a chair and have a seat.
A year later, House was at PPTH and Taub was on track for a partnership. And now the partnership is gone, and Taub is at PPTH too.
If House is crazy, then maybe this is just the next step on Taub's rapid decline down the ladder of success. If he's not ... then maybe it's a chance to try something new.
"I have a gift for observation, for reading people in situations."
Hadley is almost convinced that House looks straight at her when he says that, and she glances away for a moment, adjusts the number that's hung around her neck. Thirteen. She isn't superstitious. She doesn't think it means anything. But maybe House suspects something. Maybe he already knows. Maybe assigning her the number Thirteen is his idea of a joke -- a comment on her bad luck in life. It sounds like something he'd do.
She met one of his former patients once -- a senator doing the rounds of wine and cheese parties to raise campaign money. A friend had dragged her there, and somehow their brief conversation wound its way from universal health care coverage, to his own recent health battles, to House.
"He'll find your flaws, and make sure you never forget them," the senator had said, and chuckled. "If he were here, he'd tell everyone in this room that they're fools for believing I have a chance at the White House."
"I've heard he's not a very nice person," Hadley had admitted.
The senator nodded. "He's not," he'd said, "but maybe he's right. And maybe we need people like that around to remind us of everything we'd like to forget."
"But sometimes, I am wrong."
What does it mean to be wrong here? Brennan asks himself. There are labs, blood tests, intensive care units, heart bypass machines, other specialists. Out there, in the real world, if you make a mistake someone else won't be there to fix it for you. You can't rely on anyone else. Make a mistake and someone dies. Send someone home without catching their virus, and an entire village may die. Hundreds of people with their blood on your hands. Brennan wonders if anyone else in the room understands what that means.
He takes a look around himself, sees nothing but white lab coats. No one here understands what medicine is about once you strip away the clean hospitals and sanitary conditions. They're living in a fantasy world.
House moves from the E string to the G, steadily increasing the tension on the string, changing its sound, turning it into something different. The note is still flat, and he adjusts it again. Brennan catches his eye for just a moment as House scans the room, then looks back down at his guitar.
Brennan leans forward, hunches down trying to get a better look at House's face, to convince himself that he wasn't just seeing what he wanted to see, and House looks up, stares him down.
Brennan allows himself to grin, just for a second, then sits back in his chair. It wasn't his imagination. House knows what happens when things go wrong. House understands.
"This will be the longest job interview of your life."
This, Henry thinks, is not a job interview. He looks around the room, sees a couple of guys in their 40s, a lot more people in their 30s, a few that look young enough to be his own kids. This is crazy. He's crazy for thinking he can compete with them.
He hopes House is a little crazy too.
He knows that House takes chances, that he doesn't play by the rules. Henry's tired of playing by the rules too. The rules say he should stick it out in the admissions office for another ten years, retire with a nice pension. Maybe buy a retirement condo down in Boca Raton.
He doesn't want to retire. He doesn't want to give up. He doesn't want to step down. So he's taking a chance. House takes chances. He's heard about them, again and again, from people he's liked, and people he ... Henry shakes his head. Life too short to say that he hates someone. And this interview will be too long to waste energy on being mad at someone. He needs to save himself for what's important.
Henry looks around the room. Maybe he's older than everyone else, but maybe he wants it more than they do.
He looks up at the front of the room, looks at the man perched on the stool. So House believes in doing things a little bit differently. Henry nods. Maybe being different will work for him.
"I will test you in ways that you will often consider unfair, demeaning and illegal, and you will often be right."
"Hell, yeah," Kutner whispers to himself. The twins in the row in front of him turn in unison and stare at him. He nods and raises his eyebrows at them and they both turn away again.
He leans forward, wondering what House will ask him to do first. He's heard about the burglaries -- even read up on how to pick locks once he heard about the opening. He knows that House has told people to lie to patients, that he's run tests without the patients' approval.
Anyone can practice medicine by the book, and Kutner tells himself that he's not just anyone. He's stood apart from the crowd his whole life. No white picket fence. No one to tell him what to do or how to think or how to live his life. So he's made his own rules, set his own priorities.
So has House.
Breaking rules? Breaking laws? Kutner knows he's smiling. He should be afraid -- and he is -- but he can't wait.
Look to your left. Now look to your right."
Amber ignores the others. They're not important. Instead she studies House at the front of the room.
He looks nothing like she expected -- both older and younger, broken down and clinging to youth at the same time. She's done her background checks, read every paper he's published, every paper by any of his fellows, any study he's ever taken part in.
She knows about his leg, even got her hands on the court transcripts when she heard rumors that he'd run into legal problems related to his pain meds earlier this year. She read up on chronic pain, to give herself another edge.
But now she sees him sitting there, his cane propped against the desk, lines cut deep across his face. She watches the way he lifts his leg to set it on a lower rung of the stool -- and all the while he tries to draw focus instead to the guitar, slowly tuning it, turning everyone's eyes to what's happening with his hands, rather than his leg. Suddenly she thinks she doesn't know enough. She needs to find out more.
By the end of six weeks, one of you will be gone, as will twenty-eight more of you.
Cole takes a deep breath to calm his nerves. This isn't what he was expecting. He'd packed up his son and traveled 2,000 miles thinking he had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study with one of the greatest diagnosticians in the world.
Instead, there's this.
He looks around the room, does a quick count on the number of other doctors there. He's pretty sure they're all at the top of their game, that they have the experience and CV needed to get House's attention.
He'd known for a long time that no one got House's attention easily -- patients, doctors, fellowship candidates. When he heard about the opening, Cole had made sure his CV and letter were the best he could make them. He tracked down impressive references. And what did that get him? It got him into a room with thirty other candidates.
But at least he's here, he reminds himself. A lot of other people never made it this far. And he still has a chance. Now all he has to do is get House's attention.
Wear a cup.