Written for the 6/14/08 Saturday Night Writing Challenge at the Fox Forum.
Prompt: gumball

Nurse Ruth Markel, three year veteran of the Cook County ER in Chicago and former Ladies Boxing Champion of the St. Francis CYO, braced herself for the scene that was about to ensue. Dr. Cuddy had pulled Nurse Markel from her shift in the Psych Ward specifically for this event, because Dr. Cuddy had the utmost faith that Nurse Markel could stand her ground. Or, at the very least, would know how to throw a punch and knock the smart-mouthed bastard down a peg or two if need be.

Dr. Gregory House stepped into the clinic, his best friend Dr. James Wilson close on his heels. House hadn't made it three limps into the clinic before he stopped abruptly, causing Wilson to trip over House's cane and fall rather spectacularly to the floor. Normally, House would never let such an eventuality go without comment, but at the moment he was preoccupied with a much more pressing matter.

The lollipop jar was missing.

House scanned the room quickly, attempting to ascertain if it's location had simply been moved without his knowledge. But to no avail; the jar was gone. House fixed his frosty blue eyes on the only likely suspect, the nurse behind the desk. Wilson pulled himself up off the floor, straightened his tie and then stopped, watching House and the as yet unknown nurse size each other up. In a cartoon, this would have been the point where a lazy tumbleweed rolled by.

"Where is it?" House demanded.

"Where's what?" the nurse retorted. House clenched his stubbled jaw. He had expected an innocent and timorous response, not this bold and intrepid cheek.

"You know what," House said, leveling the full power of his glare at the nurse.

"I don't know what," Wilson interjected.

House closed his eyes to avoid the frustration that overwhelmed him from shooting from his eye sockets in a billow of flames. Sometimes Wilson was a real pain in the ass.

"You know, it's very difficult to be properly intimidating when my sidekick doesn't know when to keep his big mouth shut," House said to Wilson, stressing the part he felt Wilson would need the most help understanding.

"The lollipop jar will not be returning," Nurse Markel said, once again garnering House's attention and clarifying for Wilson just what the hell was going on.

"And why not?" House asked.

"Dr. Cuddy ordered it's removal after that incident last week," Nurse Markel said crossing her arms over her chest.

"Are you kidding me? She didn't die!" House exploded.

"But she could have" Wilson offered.

"So because of one unfortunate accident, which happens all the time in other places around the world, the rest of us have to suffer?" House demanded of the nurse.

"That doesn't sound at all familiar," Wilson muttered.

"So far, the only one who has even noticed is you," Nurse Markel told House.

"And of course, Cuddy couldn't care less if I suffer," House glared at the nurse, daring her to confirm his theory.

"Apparently," Nurse Markel agreed.

Before House could even begin his tirade about how unfair it was that he should have to suffer through clinic duty sans candy Wilson interrupted. Again.

"She's probably been waiting for just such an opportunity."

House rolled his eyes and smashed his cane down on Wilson's toes. Sometimes Wilson could be a real pain in the ass.

"Don't think I'm done with this," House glowered at the nurse.

"Don't think I'm scared," she shot back at him. House made a face.

"Dr. House signing in at 11:45. Write it down," House barked at her.

"Dr. House in at 12:03, got it," she said sweetly and marked it down as such.

House turned to face the waiting room full of people. He grinned maniacally. "Good afternoon those of ill health. My name is Dr. House. I have chronic pain, chronic insomnia, chronic halitosis and am currently very grouchy due to a lack of refined sugar. If any of you would like to bother me with your alleged health issues, I will be in Exam Room One." He turned and limped off, slamming the door of the exam room behind him.

Wilson smiled at the stunned patients. "That time of the month." He made a quick stop at the candy machine for some ammunition, and then stalked into the exam room and confronted House, hands on hips and normally warm chocolaty brown eyes murky with annoyance.

"Do you want to tell me what the hell that was all about?"

"Some kid choked on a lollipop in the waiting room last week," House moaned.

"I know, I was here with you remember?" Wilson said. "What I mean is, why did you throw a temper tantrum in front of a dozen complete strangers?"

"Oh like they care," House whined. "Besides, I probably scared at least two or three of them off anyway. Less work for me."

"And more for some other doctor," Wilson pointed out.

"Not my problem," House shook his head. God Wilson was a thorn in his side sometimes.

"You can't really expect Cuddy to not act on this, can you? What if the family sues?" Wilson asked.

"Sues for what? She didn't die. She barely even had a sore throat when they left. And if the mother had been watching her…"

"The mother," Wilson interrupted him, "was a little preoccupied having a seizure at the moment."

"Well if she was that sick, why wasn't the kid at home?" House countered.

"She was a single mother!" Wilson exclaimed. "What should she have done, left the little girl at home alone?"

"If she had, the lollipop jar would still be out there," House mused. "On the other hand, if it wasn't her, it would've been somebody else. This was all a set up. It reeks of Cuddy."

"Yes, I'm sure Cuddy has nothing else to do with her limited spare time than search out a sick, single mom and then pay her to come into the clinic and have a seizure at the exact moment her daughter started choking on a lollipop just so she could remove your free candy source," Wilson said dryly. He sighed and reached into his pocket. "Here, I got you some gumballs. Now, I'm going out to the desk and sending you a patient."

House took the gumballs Wilson offered and watched him leave. He popped one in his mouth and chewed. Maybe Wilson wasn't completely useless. Just then a tentative knock sounded at the door and the patient Wilson had sent back opened it and stuck in her head.

"Dr. House?"

"The one and only," House said. He climbed off the exam table and used his cane to hook the stool in the corner and drag it over to himself to sit on. The patient, a slight woman in her early thirties with mousy brown hair, handed him a chart and sat on the exam table.

House sighed and flipped the chart open, wonder what fresh hell he would have to endure in the clinic that day. He glanced at the chief complaints, painful urination, lower abdominal pain and vaginal itch, and sighed more heavily. No fresh hell. The same hell over and over again.

"I assume you're sexually active?" House asked. The woman nodded. "And I also assume that since you didn't go see your regular gynecologist you suspect something a little funky is going on?" The woman blushed and nodded again. "We'll have to run some tests, but I'm going to go out on a limb and confirm your suspicions that you've got an STD. Probably Chlamydia."

"That's impossible," the woman blurted.

"Of course it is," House agreed sympathetically. "He seemed so nice, and swore to you that he was clean. There was no need to use a condom, because he loved you and you were going to be together forever."

The woman stared at House in open mouthed horror.

"Look Miss…" House glanced down at the file for the woman's name. He grinned. "Jane."

The woman nodded.

"Your name is Jane."

Another nod.

"I've been waiting thirty years to use this line, thank you."

"What line?" Jane asked in embarrassment.

"Jane you ignorant slut," House said. The woman gasped. House grinned. He reached into his pocket and pulled out another gumball. You know, sometimes that Wilson is okay, he though as he chewed.