Dr. Martin, Dominika, Dr. Chakravarti, Dr. Nolan, Thirteen, Henry Dobson and Martha Masters all looked at Chase, Foreman and Taub, the last of whom was grinning. Dylan Crandall had his seat tipped so far back it looked like it might fall over.
"All of this is a waste of time," said the panel chairman.
"If it was, Mr. Chairman, I would not have taken this case pro bono." Stacy smoothed the lapel of her navy jacket. The necklace with the tiny cross caught what light there was in the stuffy dark chamber. "In fact, none of us even know your names. No plates, no nametags...why is this inquiry being held anonymously?"
"There are reasons," said the chairman.
"Yeah, right," muttered Foreman.
"Innocent until proven guilty is not an option here, is it?" Stacy calmly picked up a folder. "I have read over the transcripts. It seems that this inquiry has gone by the principle of guilty until proven innocent." She proceeded to amble back and forth in front of the panelists' table. "The burden of proof should be on this panel, considering only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted." She looked at the woman Wilson called VB. "I'm not even sure what these people are being accused of.
"Oh, wait...Lisa Cuddy seduced Dr. House, a man known for using hookers both at home and in the hospital, who made continual remarks about her body, sabotaged her meetings with important hospital donors and suitors. Dr. Cuddy was in total control of their relationship at all times, as the transcripts of this inquiry would have it. Dr. House, you neglected to mention, kissed her the night she was devastated by losing the first child she had tried to adopt. It was both a lovely gesture, and the beginning of the more intimate stage of their relationship. Initiated by Dr. House.
"It's interesting, the facts you omit. Such as the fact that his head was scanned and cranial MRIs were performed both at the time of the deep brain stimulation and his return from Mayfield. Deep brain stimulation is not a life-threatening technique. Although apparently neither Dr. Wilson nor Dr. House knew that. As neurological experts have shown, for almost a decade DBS has been used successfully as a treatment for Parkinson's Disease, dystonia, depression, and," her mouth quirked ironically, "chronic pain."
"Are you claiming that the DBS, combined with the skull fracture and subdural hematoma had no lasting effects on Dr. House?" demanded VB.
"No, but it is highly unlikely. There have been shown to be few long-term risks unless the metal electrodes move to a more sensitive part of the brain, or the patient is put in an MRI. The DBS can cause hallucinations but that is a short-term complication and as such would not have been an issue more than a year later. Four weeks later, after Dr. House had awakened from his coma, the sutures and electrodes were removed. In that time, the hematoma had resolved. He was then given a cranial MRI. I am submitting into evidence articles and reviews of double-blind studies from the University of Pittsburgh, 2008; the US Department of Health, 2006, the Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 2006, and several others.
"Cranial and full-body MRIs were also performed at the time of his self-surgery to make certain that Dr. House had no other tumors in either his body or brain. So. You have your scans, and we have ours." Stacy resumed ambling back and forth before the panel table, head tilted coquettishly. "We shall have your scans tested for authenticity and compared side by side with our scans. Not that I am implying that there is any reason for the difference between the scans. It just seems a bit odd."
"Ms. Warner, sit down!" said the panel chair.
"Thank you, I'm quite comfortable," Stacy replied. "Moving on. Dr. Wilson is accused of—correct me if I'm wrong—being a bad friend. Under coercion, he said that he did not know how Dr. House was faring during Dr. Wilson's bereavement leave from the hospital. When in fact both Dr. Cuddy and Dr. Cameron visited him numerous times, and other fellows made telephone calls to check on him. Are you suggesting that none of his co-workers breathed a word about Dr. House's progress?
"The panel has shown a pattern of browbeating and harassing witnesses, asking leading questions, lying, and refusing to allow the witnesses to defend themselves. When Dr. Cuddy declined to discuss her relationship with Dr. House, she was told she had no choice. She was called "a business barracuda—" Stacy paused to consult the papers she held. "Give me a moment. Ah, yes, a quote: What are you – six? Aren't you a grownup? Don't you have control over your own life? Oh, and this- were you as manipulative and cruel to him on the job as you clearly were in your personal life? Forgive me, but I sense a lack of impartiality."
The witnesses laughed. Cuddy smiled, Rachel wiggling in her lap. "What's funny, Mommy?"
"The funny lady at the end, sweetie."
"Dr. Cuddy has been accused of seducing a shattered wreck of a man and destroying him during their relationship. This is assuming that a world-famous diagnostician, a man who decided which cases to take, a man who ordered his staff around as if they were interns, had no free will nor the internal strength to make his own choices? Did he or did he not choose to get involved with Dr. Cuddy? Did he or did he not choose to rage at her in a threatening manner when she asked him to talk about their breakup? Did he or did he not choose to drive his car at 80 miles per hour into a room full of people, and," she pointed to Rachel, "a small child? A child whose mother you would force into unemployment and homelessness?"
"The room was empty, we have already determined that," said the chairman.
"Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it? At the time, Dr. House could not have known the room was empty, nor would he have known that Rachel was not in fact playing on the floor. In fact, it's a miracle that no one was hurt by flying glass or other debris."
You go, Stacy, thought Wilson. It was almost too bad she and House had broken up.
"The witnesses have been accused of lack of ethics, lack of humanity, lack of knowledge, by a group of individuals who show exactly that. None were informed of their rights in this inquiry, such the right to counsel or the right not to answer self-incriminating questions. Further, the panel has asked questions based on knowledge that may have been obtained illegally, such as wiretapping or bugging homes and offices."
"Ms. Warner, you have no right to make those charges," said VB.
"That's for the actual court to decide. I am reporting Dr. Chakravarti to the DOJ and the FBI for health insurance fraud, billing for services not provided and forging Dr. Wilson's signature signing off on the treatments. Dr. Chakravarti claimed he was Dr. House's pain management specialist, but in fact only saw Dr. House for a few appointments."
"Second, I am reporting Dr. Nolan to the American Psychiatry Association Ethics Committee for violation of patient privacy, not only here, but divulging further information to a large group of nonprofessionals, pertaining to the fact that Dr. House went with Dr. Nolan to visit his dying father. The Ethics Committee will be very interested in that. As will the Board of Directors at Mayfield Hospital."
"Ms. Warner, I'm warning you—" said the panel chairman.
"About what, sir?" Stacy stared him down. "I am ever so grateful that you had every word of these sessions recorded. I shall be turning over a set of transcripts to the DOJ and let them decide whether or not this was a legal inquiry and whether or not any of the panel should be fined or punished for illegal or unlawful conduct.
"Finally, my clients James Wilson and Lisa Cuddy are filing suit against each member of this panel, alleging Invasion of Privacy. Under New Jersey state law this includes intrusion-invading his or her home, eavesdropping or prying into personal affairs; public disclosure of private facts; placing the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye, which need not be defamatory, but must be something that would be objectionable to the ordinary reasonable person.
"Both Dr. Cuddy and Dr. Wilson have endured tremendous strain during this inquiry, and both are completely traumatized. Therefore, each plaintiff is suing for $2.5 million for damages. And an additional $25 million dollars for emotional stress. In addition, Drs. Cuddy and Wilson are suing each individual on this panel for defamation of character. Hundreds of slanderous statements have been made during this inquiry, and fortunately, they are all recorded. Along with your names and personal information." She patted the folder of transcripts. "Nothing further."
Stacy sat down next to Wilson, smiling.
The chairman stared at her, staggered. It appeared no one had ever challenged his authority, at least not since the Korean War. The panelists looked at each other, obviously not knowing what to say.
"Thank you, Ms. Warner," he said unsteadily. "This inquiry is adjourned."
"See you in court!" Cuddy said happily, snuggling up to Rachel.
As the panel filed out, the witnesses—most of them—whooped, hollered, and fist-bumped each other. Wilson threw his arms around Cuddy and Rachel. "This calls for a celebration!"
"Drinks on me!" said Foreman, patting Wilson on the back.
"That was some show." Dylan Crandall eyed Stacy and winked.
"Don't even think about it," she said. He gulped.
The happy group left the room, until only Cuddy, holding Rachel's hand, was left. "Come on, sweetie, let's ditch this popsicle stand," she said, remembering a phrase that House used.
She took a last look around, and turned off the light.
THE END...or is it?