A short one tonight, wrapping up the hospital visit and the evening after.

Thanks for all the great comments. Keep 'em coming. You know we writers love them even more than chocolate.


The children and their chaperones went back to the lobby with Cuddy to wait for their school bus.

"Dr. Cuddy, thank you so much for making this day possible," Mrs.

Bean said, in all sincerity. "Despite everything, I think the

children had a great time and learned a lot." She looked around at the many smiling faces.

"I know it wasn't all perfect, but I agree. They did enjoy it," Cuddy

said. "I'm especially grateful to you and Mrs. Swenson and Mrs.

Chung for remaining calm through everything."

"To tell you the truth, I found it fascinating myself," Mrs. Chung


"Well, although Tommy won't be in my class next year," Mrs. Bean said "I

hope that I can bring my next class to the hospital for a visit."

"Of course," Cuddy agreed. "We can make it a yearly thing."

In a corner near the door, Gretchen asked Audra, "Do you still hate hospitals?"

The shorter girl studied her. "I guess I always will."

"But why?" Gretchen had grown up around hospitals and really couldn't


"You're comfortable here because your parents are doctors," Audra

began. "But...but every time I've ever been in a hospital something

disastrous happened. Even today. I just hope Elizabeth isn't going

to die like my mother did." Audra was practically in tears.

Her grandmother came over to her and put a comforting arm around her


Gretchen looked at her friend's face and felt the need to reassure

her. "Oh, Audra, my mom and dad are wonderful doctors. They'll find

out what's wrong with Elizabeth and she'll be just fine. I...I didn't

know about your mother."

Mrs. Swenson looked at Gretchen's caring eyes and told her, "Audra's

mother was very sick for a long time. I wanted to be with her on

this trip because I was afraid that being in a hospital would upset

her." She turned to her granddaughter. "Audra, you've done very well

today. And I hope you'll learn that hospitals really aren't scary or

bad places. Just as Gretchen says, the doctors do all they can to

cure people."

Audra nodded but didn't seem convinced.

"Jahzara!" they suddenly heard Tommy cry out. Gretchen looked up and

saw the bronze-skinned teenager entering the hospital, wearing a

candy-stripers outfit and accompanied by a tall, slender brunette.

"Hi, Tommy" Jahzara said. "What are you doing here?"

"We had a class trip to tour the hospital," he responded.

Gretchen walked over to them. "Hi Jahzara," she said, smiling. "I

didn't know you volunteered here."

"Yes, I just started a few weeks ago. And this is a friend of mine,

Maria Hays. She's starting today." Jahzara told her. "I knew you'd

moved here. Uncle Eric told me. But I didn't know you were in Tommy's


"Yes, isn't that outrageous?" Gretchen asked.

"Well, we'd better go, but I hope we see you soon. Bye." And the two

teens headed to the elevators.

"What else did Dr. House say before he left?" Cameron asked


"He asked how long we'd lived here," Lydia answered for her daughter.

"How long?" Cameron wanted to know too.

"We moved here at the end of August, just before school started,"

Lydia told her. "My husband is here for a two-year visiting

professorship at the University."

"And before that you lived in England."

"That's right," Lydia confirmed.

"Mom, Dr. House left just after you told him about Aunt Lucinda,"

Elizabeth remembered.

"Aunt Lucinda?" Cameron asked.

"We spent two weeks with my sister in Costa Rica before we came


"Oh!" Now Cameron knew where House was and what he was probably

doing. "Elizabeth, did you feel sick at all when you first arrived

in New Jersey?"

"No," the girl said shaking her head, but there was a lack of

conviction. "Well, you know, I guess I had the sniffles then, but

Mom said it was because of the change of climate or something."

"The climate in New Jersey isn't that different than that in England

and the vegetation isn't too different either. You may have picked

up an infection of some kind in Costa Rica. We just have to find out

which one." Cameron turned to Sullivan. "We should probably start

her on a broad spectrum antibiotic until we know what it is."

Sully nodded and went to order what they needed.

Before she returned, House entered the room, a slight smile on his


"I just checked the CDC reports. There's an epidemic of strep in

Costa Rica," he reported. "Do a throat culture and start her on IVIG."

Cameron breathed a sigh of relief. If that's what it was, it was

easily treatable. The girl hadn't developed Scarlet Fever so it was

likely she had a mild case.


"Will Elizabeth be OK?" Gretchen asked her parents that evening.

"You know we can't talk about a patient's diagnosis," Cameron began.

"She'll be OK," House finished.

"The other kids in the class were worried about her," Gretchen said.

They'd asked Cuddy several times whether she was really sick.

"But I think they liked the hospital trip today. Well, all except

Audra. She still hates hospitals."

"Blondie? Yeah, what's up with her?" House asked out of curiosity.

He remembered how Gretchen had approved his selection of Audra to

push the wheelchair.

"Her Mom was very sick and in a hospital for a long time before she

died. I guess hospitals remind her of that time," Gretchen explained.

"She lives with her grandparents," Cameron told him. "Her grandmother,

Mrs. Swenson, says she's really sad a lot. She's happy Audra has

Gretchen for a friend."

Gretchen looked at her parents but thought about Audra's situation.

"I know how I'd feel if I ever lost either one of you. I am sooo

lucky to have such great parents."

"Oh, Sweetie. We both love you very much," her mother said. "You're

everything anyone would ever want in a child."

Gretchen smiled, but she knew that was how her mother felt about

her. Then her father surprised her by adding. "You are one terrific

kid, you know. Every day you do something else that makes me proud

to be your dad."

She hugged him tightly, then hugged her mother just as tightly.

"I guess that wasn't a complete disaster," Cuddy told her husband as

they cleared the table after dinner. Tommy had eaten and then

disappeared into his room to finish his homework so he could watch

his favorite TV show later.

"Actually, I think it went very well," Wilson said, carrying the

plates to the dishwasher. Lisa was too hard on herself, he thought.

"Do you think that Davidson was right? Jim, do I allow my 'friends'

to get away with things?" She didn't wait for him to answer these

questions. "I know people have been saying for years that I'm way

too easy on House."

"Lisa, don't listen to Davidson. It's just...sour grapes. He had

Taylor convinced that he walked on water and you pulled that out

from under him by asking Taylor to hire Cameron. Now she's running

rings around him, showing what a really excellent doctor can do."

"Do you really think that's all it is?" Cuddy was willing to be


He put everything down and put his hands on her shoulders. "You have

run that hospital for over fifteen years. You've made it a successful

and respected teaching hospital. You. No one else. Whatever you did.

However you did it. It worked." He looked at her anxious face. "And

that jerk Davidson has no right, no cause to question you or any of

your actions."

"Oh, Jimmy, I love you." She threw her arms around his neck and

kissed him passionately. "Let's just leave all this for later and

let me show you how much."