Author's Note: While I enjoy seeing different facets of the Doctor, I miss his lighter side . . . And House, M.D. didn't have a proper Christmas episode this year (in my opinion), so here's my attempt at taking care of both 'problems' at once.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything associated with Doctor Who or House M.D.. This idea and any original characters I may happen to come up with, however, are mine.
Timelines: Set during Smith and Jones in season 3 for the 10th Doctor and after Wilson in season 6 for House.
A Tale of Two Doctors
Snowflakes vainly tried to fill in the footprints marring the once-pristine surface in front of the entryway to the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Not helping their efforts was a tall, lanky man in a long brown coat with a multi-colored scarf wrapped around his neck, his once-white Chuck Taylor trainers blending in with the dirty snow. His hands tucked deep into his pockets, he stopped far enough away from the front doors so as not to trigger the auto-open mechanism. He made a visual scan of the front of the building, his brow furrowed as the snow coated his ruffled dark brown hair.
"Huh," the man known galaxies over as the Doctor said to himself. He made his way to the far right side of the building, nimbly stepping out of the way of an older-looking man with a scowl and a cane. The energy signature the Doctor had been tracking had ended here but now . . . He pulled a smallish Y-shaped object from his inside coat pocket and gave it a shake before holding it up to his ear. It was still working. "Very clever, whoever you are," he said as his gaze darted over the front of the building. "But not as clever as me!" He smiled and was about to say something else before catching himself.
Ducking his head down briefly the Doctor found himself wondering if he should have just jumped immediately back to the day he met one Martha Jones in a hospital thousands of miles away. Not that he was looking for a replacement for . . . Rose . . . Nah, he reminded himself with a shake of his head. He was just missing having a friend, a mate, and a hand to hold if he was honest. And he was. Sometimes. But then the TARDIS decided they had to change course and follow the energy signal straight away to the good ol' U S of A. And on the day before Christmas (22 hours and 10 seconds before, in fact). Ah, Christmas . . .
The Doctor rocked back slightly on his heels, bringing his focus back to the building in front of him. Martha definitely would have made it easier for him to gain entrance to the hospital. She was almost a fully recognized-on-Earth doctor for one. And she was brilliant. (He had known that since she deftly hid her surprise upon hearing the echo of his second heart beating in his chest that day at the Royal Hope Hospital in England.) As it was now, the Doctor was left with one option to get into the hospital for any respectable amount of time: stopping his right heart. (Of all the times for the TARDIS to hide the psychic paper.) Yes, he had done it before — the day before he met Martha, in fact — but he didn't like it. It wore him out, it did, even when he was just lying around, never mind when there was running involved.
But things were what they were at the moment and he really did need to determine if the energy signature either grew cold here or was merely hiding. So the Doctor made his way into the hospital to search out a more secluded area in which to sit while he set about the task of temporarily shutting down the necessary heart. He ducked down a hallway and quickly came upon a single-occupancy loo. Ignoring the 'For Personnel Only' sign, he stepped in and used his sonic screwdriver on the door's lock to ensure he would have the uninterrupted block of time necessary to get the job done.
Exactly five minutes later (three of which were used to make sure he was reasonably steady on his feet), the Doctor stepped back into the hallway and made his way to the main reception area.
"Excuse me," he said to one of the nursing staff, letting his smile morph into a grimace when a brown-haired woman turned around, "I got a bit turned around and -"
"The walk-in clinic is straight through the doors to your left," she interjected as she gave him an efficient and stern once-over.
"Oh, you're good," the Doctor replied, wrapping an arm around his stomach as if experiencing a brief spasm of pain before pushing off from the counter and heading in the direction indicated by the nurse. He quickly settled himself down with the necessary paperwork from the clinic nurse, surreptitiously checking the energy signature tracker while awaiting his turn for the walk-in clinic.
At least he wasn't eating a cold turkey sandwich with someone's housesitter Greg House thought with a smirk as he dumped his backpack on his desk. Pulling out his chair, he sank down into it with a small groan as the constant ache in his right thigh decided to make its presence more acutely known. The cold weather was never kind to his leg, which at times begged the question as to why he didn't just move somewhere warmer. It wasn't like he couldn't find a job outside the walls of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. He had done so before, in fact, and could do it again. Maybe Wilson would — his office door swinging open kept House from further contemplations.
"Happy Chrismukhah!" House said by way of greeting to his visitor, running a hand over his closely cropped steel-grey hair. "Have you been naughty or nice?" He waggled his eyebrows at his boss as he rested both his hands on top of his cane.
"House," Lisa Cuddy said with a sigh, looking down briefly as she tucked a strand of her long dark hair behind her right ear. "Just, don't." She folded her arms in front of her chest with another sigh as she stopped a few feet away from his desk.
"Scrooge," House replied with a mock pout, absently wondering if her boyfriend appreciated the way she filled out the cranberry-red dress she was wearing. "And," he continued, giving no hint as to where his thoughts had been, "along a similar vein I suppose you're here to make sure I do my clinic hours today?"
"Yes," she replied, her posture relaxing marginally. "And your team is under threat of being called in tomorrow if they cover for you. That includes Wilson," she added as she turned to leave.
House let out a small chuckle, causing Cuddy to stop in the open doorway. "What?" she said, looking over her shoulder with a frown.
"Oh, you know me," House replied, pulling his tall frame out of his chair and making his way towards her, "I just have so much Christmas joy in my heart it spills right out of m -" He stopped as he caught sight of the sprig of mistletoe taped above the doorway. He wondered briefly who had hung it up and when before deciding it didn't really matter at the moment. Before Cuddy could step away from him House placed a soft, chaste kiss on her cheek. "Merry Christmas, Lisa," he said quietly as he stepped around her and out of his office. He wasn't surprised to hear the click of her high heels on the floor as she went in the opposite direction of him.
Whistling a random Christmas tune House made his way down to the clinic, mentally bracing himself for the pre-holiday crazies. Why they didn't all just stock up on vitamin C, chicken soup, and — for the inevitable over-indulgence — antacids and leave him alone he didn't know. His team would call it karma, his best friend would roll his eyes in exasperation, and his boss would tell him to just do his job for once. With a sigh House grabbed the nearest file folder and scanned its contents, frowning slightly when he read the patient's name. If his next patient was Jane Doe Wilson owed him ten bucks.
"John Smith," House called out. A pale-skinned, freckle-faced man shoved something into the inside pocket of his long camel-coloured overcoat as he stood up and looked House's way. House nodded at the man once before turning in the direction of exam room number two.
"So what seems to be the problem?" House asked as Smith made himself comfortable on the exam table. "Sniffles? Flu? Too much fruit cake?"
Smith briefly looked up at the ceiling as if it somehow held the answer. "No, no," he replied in a clear British accent. "Never too much fruit cake, me, and no sniffles or flu. Or so I think. Besides, if I knew what was the matter," he said with a toothy grin, "then I wouldn't need a doctor now would I?" The grin got bigger as Smith barreled on. "I am, however, knackered or, as you Yanks would say, under the weather or plumb wore out. Or maybe 'blah' would be a better fit." He paused, a thoughtful look on his face. "Yup." House winced at the popped 'p' while Smith reiterated, "'Blah' sums it up quite nicely."
Idiot — a crazy idiot, House thought with an internal grimace. He grabbed a tongue depressor and a pen light before going to stand in front of Smith, who opened his mouth wide and let out a long 'ah' before House could even open his own mouth to speak. And annoying, House added to his mental checklist as he clicked on the pen light only to be interrupted by a cacophony of whirs and beeps sounding from Smith's coat.
House took a step back. "What the —?"
"Be with you in a tick," Smith said, fumbling around in the inside coat pocket for several seconds before the noise stopped. "Now," he said brightly, his hands back beside him on the exam table, "where were we again? Oh yes!" And with that he again opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue.
"Not so fast," House said with a nod at Smith's coat. "How did you manage to stuff practically your whole arm into the inside pocket?"