Chapter One

Rozamund Alonza sat across from the Dean of Medicine's desk taking notes as Dr. Lisa Cuddy gave her a rundown on her duties.

"Aside from the usual clerical work, your position, first and foremost, is to be the gatekeeper. That anteroom - your office - needs to function like the locks on the Panama Canal. I've had doctors, drug reps and patients barging in. We need to get a handle on that."

"That shouldn't be a problem," Roz smiled. She was up for the challenge.

Cuddy laughed sardonically. "You haven't met Dr. House."

Roz grinned appreciatively. "His reputation precedes him. Trust me, I can handle it."

Dr. Gregory House entered his conference room, tossed his backpack on the table and proceeded to procure a cup of coffee. The team trickled in shortly afterwards and settled into what promised to be a boring day.

House turned to face his underlings proudly announcing: "Since we have no patients or clinic duty I thought we could catch up on the latest gossip."

Dr. Chris Taub unceremoniously dumped his just poured cup of coffee and headed for the door.

"Where're you going?"

"To see if they need help in the clinic."

"Have fun wiping crotches." House took Taub's seat, leaned across the table and said, "So, Thirteen, who's the new skirt Cuddy was interviewing?"

Dr. Remy Hadley leaned across the table in mock excitement. "Oh my god, you saw her too! She was so hot - I wanted to take her right there on Cuddy's desk."

"I wa-"

"She's Cuddy's new assistant," Foreman growled. "And if you would have read the memo-"

"I'm not sure, but I think that was the piece of paper I used to get the gum off the bottom of my cane." House looked contemplative. "I didn't get to read it first, and then it got all sticky and yuck-"

"House, if you want to get to Cuddy, now you're going to have to go through her assistant."

"I'm looking forward to it," House replied evilly.

Wilson knew exactly who was entering when his door opened. "House, you're late. I was expecting your interruption five minutes ago."

"Wanna go have some fun?"

"At who's expense?"

"Why Cuddy's, of course."

"And what diabolical plan have you cooked up this time?"

"It seems she has a new-"

"Stop right there." Wilson put his hands up in a plea to curtail House.

"I'm told I have to go through her assistant if I want to get to Cuddy." House began twirling his cane as if in time to the cogs of his brain turning. "I should be able to get by her with a few well-chosen words."

Wilson stood up in objection. "Come on, House. Give the girl a break. Let her at least get a full day's pay."

"Why do you always try to spoil my fun?" House stamped his cane in mock anger and gimped out of Wilson's office.

When the elevator doors opened on the ground floor, House looked both ways before exiting. He walked across the lobby to the main doors, all the while trying to use his peripheral vision to spot his mark just inside the clinic. At the doors he looked out, looked over his shoulder and decided he could get a better view if he was actually outside looking in. Once outside he realized he looked rather stupid staring in, so he pretended to be interested in the sky, his fingernails and any other thing he could think of to help him not look so conspicuous. He had garnered a few looks from Reception and decided it was no good.

House spied a fast food bag that had just been dumped in the trash can a few feet away. He picked it up and headed back into the building. The ladies at reception eyed him curiously. He held up the bag. "My lunch has arrived," and continued toward the clinic.

Nurse Brenda looked up as House entered the clinic and tossed the bag into the closest trash. He walked up the to the Nurse's Station and started looking through files, occasionally glancing toward the Dean of Medicine's office. Brenda was on guard. House in the clinic when he didn't need to be could only mean trouble. She went into an empty exam room and made a call.

"Dr. Cuddy."

"House is in the clinic."

"Good! Let me know how many patients he ends up seeing."

"House is in the clinic-the team completed his clinic duty for the month two days ago."

"This could be bad." Cuddy sighed with trepidation. "Thanks for the heads-up."

Cuddy decided to play House's game and see how well the new girl was going to fare. "I'm going to lunch. Be ready for anything that might come up-especially with Dr. House."

"He's been stalking you all morning," Roz said, barely containing her laughter.

"No, my dear, our Dr. House has YOU in his sights."

This time Roz did chuckle. "Well, I guess I should be honored."

"Trust me, he's going to try to make you cry and quit. If I can give you a few words of advice: don't let him get to you...and no matter how much he harasses you, please don't quit!"

House watched as Cuddy and the assistant talked. Then Cuddy left and the game was on. He limped passed the patients, heading straight for Cuddy's office.

Roz saw him making a b-line to the office. He was coming to play her, and she wasn't sure which way to play him. Sometimes it was easier to make a person think they had won, simply by nipping the situation in the bud. Other times it was more entertaining to beat a person at their own game. Whichever she would choose, beating him was going to be fun.

House pushed open her door in a grandiose fashion, stepped across the threshold and approached her confidently. "I need to see Dr. Cuddy."

"Do you have an appointment?"

"Since when do I need an appointment?" He was indignant.

"Since nine o'clock this morning. Would you like to make an appointment?"

"I want to see Dr. Cuddy NOW!"

"Oh, I misunderstood. I thought you said you NEEDED to see Dr. Cuddy.

"If you NEED to see her, then you NEED to make an appointment. Clearly you said you WANTED to see Dr. Cuddy."

"Yes, I did."

"Then you'll WANT to make an appointment." Roz opened up her appointment book. "Her first opening is at two thirty a week from this Thursday."

"That's if I WANT an appointment." The merest hint of a smile crossed House's lips.

"Correct."

"What if I NEED an appointment?" There was a mischievous glint in his blue eyes.

Roz consulted the calendar. "Well then...I think I can squeeze you in Wednesday morning at nine."

"Two days from now," House was incredulous.

"Yes."

"What if I told you it was an emergency?"

"That changes things." Roz kept her face and her voice emotionless.

"Good!" House figured he finally had her.

"What's the nature of your emergency?"

"Are you a doctor?" He was starting to feel flustered.

"No, I'm the person who is trying to schedule your appointment."

House started to fidget, using his cane for emphasis.

"How am I supposed to prioritize or cancel an existing appointment if I don't know the nature of your emergency?"

House sighed, buying himself some time to make something up. "I have a patient that needs a trans-rectal craniotomy."

Roz almost burst out laughing. "That sounds very painful. I personally don't think Dr. Cuddy will approve that procedure unless the patient's head is so far up the ass they can see their appendix."

"Okay, you got me," House said dripping with sarcasm. "It's a personal emergency."

"Ahh...I see. I might have an opening sooner. Perhaps I could enquire as to the nature of this personal emergency." She saw House cringe and braced for an explosion. "Of course, I'm only asking so that I may facilitate all of the necessary forms and/or personnel needed to downgrade your emergency to a situation."

House leaned heavily on his cane, scrunched up his face as if a headache had suddenly hit and rubbed his brow with the heel of his left hand. His whole hand wiped down his face to settle on his chin and rubbed at his beard. All the while he was trying to think of a good excuse. "You've probably noticed I have a disability and have to use a cane." He gave her the sad puppy dog face.

Roz just offered him an encouraging smile.

"The parking lot has recently been resurfaced and relined."

"Are you having a problem with the new surface?"

"Not exactly. I'm having problems with the lines. The new parameters are now outside the limits not to be exceeded by my medical condition."

"I see." Roz opened a desk drawer and extracted a form.

"What's that?" House stood up a little straighter and tried to inconspicuously lean in to read the form.

"Request to move a reserved parking space." She pre-filled some of the information. "Now, how far outside of the parameters is the current space?"

"Five feet, three and one half inches." He thought he caught her rolling her eyes. "Every step is excruciating."

Roz recovered by trying to fish out a fictitious eyelash that supposedly caused her to roll her eyes. "I understand." She finished her pretense. "I'll get this to Dr. Cuddy as soon as she returns from lunch. I think I can convince her to change your spot to something that involves less walking. I'm sure she'll want to take care of this immediately."

House felt the smirk cross his lips. He quickly faked a yawn. "Thank you. Dr. Cuddy is not unreasonable, but I would hate to have to remind her about the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Roz put her hand up in protest. "Oh no, we wouldn't want that to happen. Lord knows Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital doesn't need a scandal. I'll make sure Dr. Cuddy gets on this right away."

House suppressed an evil grin. Man, this is going to be fun, he thought.