All characters are the property of their respective creators - David Shore, Sydney Newman, Donald Wilson, Bryan Singer, and probably many others I am not aware of. Please don't sue me.
Day One, 17:06
Dr. Gregory House, head of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine at the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, rolled his eyes and turned to face his boss. "Doctor Cuddy? Is this a pressing medical concern? If so, please remove your shirt so I can get to play doctor. If not, I'm off the clock."
"You still owe me two hours of clinic duty this week." Dr. Lisa Cuddy crossed her arms, a scowl etched into her brow.
"I knew I shouldn't have drawn three cards. I shoulda just folded." House sighed. "Why couldn't you have brought this up when I was sitting in my office, doing nothing?"
"Because you wouldn't have objected as much." Cuddy held out a stack of folders. "I've got four waiting for you. Get them done, and we'll call that one hour."
House reluctantly took the folders. "So if I do them all in five minutes, I might still get to play golf. Great."
"Five minutes, and you can get back to your porn," quipped Cuddy. "Just get them done, all right?"
The man inhaled a lungful of air, and House shook his head. He dropped the stethoscope. "You have a mild cold. No problems with your lungs, just a bunch of congestion in your nose." He scribbled out a prescription. "Get this filled, follow the instructions on the bottle, and you'll have no further problems."
The man looked down at the slip. "Is this for cold medicine?"
"No. Potassium cyanide. It inhibits the body's ability to absorb oxygen, and then it won't matter if you have problems with your breathing. Of course it's cold medicine, you moron."
"I cut myself."
House examined the wound, on the woman's upper arm. "How did you manage to do this?"
"I tripped while unloading the dishwasher, and the knife went into my arm."
House nodded. "Who are you protecting?"
"The knife wound is in the back of the arm. You would have had to trip most impressively to cause this sort of injury, and then the wound would have been more extensive. If you were mugged, you would have just admitted it." House pulled open a drawer, and extracted a suture kit. "So let's get that sewn up, and then you can have a nice chat with the police."
"I've had this persistent headache for about a week now." The man was rubbing his temple, the hand jerky and trembling. "It's been keeping me from sleeping well, and making me cranky. My wife has been complaining."
"How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?"
"None." The man shook his head. "I don't like coffee. I drink green tea."
House rolled his eyes. "Green tea has more caffeine in it than the strongest of coffees."
"I thought it had less."
"You're suffering from caffeination." House stood up. "Cut back to, I'd say a third of whatever you're drinking at this point."
"And then I'll get better?"
"Sure, after about three weeks." He almost grinned at the poor goon. "But only after you get through the withdrawal. And trust me, that will make your current problems seem mild."
Last one; maybe he'd get to salvage his night after all. Purple stewardess' uniform, brown mop of hair, not unattractive..."You're a long way from Australia, miss..." He consulted the folder. "Tegan Jovanka."
"How did you know I was Australian?"
"Well, the Quantas uniform was a hint. Been a while since I've travelled Quantas, but I remember the purple." He glanced up at the woman's companion, a rather short blonde man wearing a light tan suit and...
"Is that a stalk of celery on your lapel?"
"Yes." The man's English was clear British Received. "It's handy, you see, for detecting certain gasses in the Praxis range that I happen to be allergic to."
"Celery does that?"
The man nodded. House shrugged.
Tegan decided to speak up. "Doctor--"
"Yes?" Both men answered, then looked at each other.
House was the first to speak. "I'm glad that you're not my patient. Doctors make miserable patients."
"Actually, my doctorate is honourary."
House snorted. "If I'd known that they were just giving the damn things away, I wouldn't have worked my ass off getting mine."
"Doctor!" Again, both men looked at her, and she sighed. "The scruffy-looking doctor. Please. The medical doctor."
House shrugged. "Guess I'm the scruffy looking one."
"Can we possibly get on with the medicine part?" Tegan rolled up her sleeve, and presented her arm.
"Hm." House looked over the exposed skin. "Edema in the hand and lower arm. Might be caused by exposure to an irritant." He glanced pointedly at Tegan's companion. "Speaking of which, I didn't catch your name."
"Name. Right. I normally just go by the Doctor."
"In a hospital, that is bound to produce confusion," House pointed out.
"Well, then, I suppose you can call me Doctor Smith."
"Oh, that'll narrow it down." House glanced back at Tegan. "Have you been exposed to any harsh chemicals recently?"
"More than I care to count," muttered Tegan bitterly.
"Cortisone cream." House scribbled the prescription on his pad. "Follow the directions on the bottle." He tore the slip off the pad and held it out. Tegan reached for it, but he snatched it back. "Wait."
"Gimme your hand." He took it gently, turning it over. "Damage to the cuticles." He squeezed the hand gently, causing her to yelp. "Tenderness. And from the look of the ring on your finger, your hands are swollen." He fished into a pocket, pulling out a small penlight, and shone it in her eyes. "Bloodshot eyes...Have you had a fever or headache?"
"Yes, that too."
"Have you been out of the country recently?"
"Just a bit." Again the same bitterness.
House sighed, and stepped back. "I'm having you both admitted, and confined to quarantine."
"What have I got?" There was abruptly a note of panic in her voice.
"I can't be certain, not until we run some tests. Please wait here; an orderly will escort you to your room."
House stepped out of the examining room, and sighed. He pulled a pair of gloves from his pocket, pulled them on, then fished a mask from a nearby box. The nurse's eyes widened. "Doctor--"
"Quarantine procedures, room three. Get security here, make sure they don't leave." He picked up the phone, dialled a number. "Chase? Get your ass back in here. No, call Cameron, then both of you get in here. I'll call Foreman."
"What's going on?"
"We might have a case of Ebola here."