More Than You Know
"Would you please slow down?" Cuddy hissed, as House wove through the parked vehicles.
"Hey, I'm just trying to get you to the ER in a timely fashion," he protested."I hear there's an `Early Bird' discount if you check in before "
Decreasing his speed only slightly, he steered the car around the end of a row and then slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a car pulling out of a space in front of them. The driver of the other car honked his horn and lowered his window to make a rude gesture in their direction.
"Just ignore it, House," she warned, leaning over to put her hand upon the steering wheel."And back up a little bit to give him more room."
"He has plenty of room to get out if he turns the other way," he argued.
"Just do it," she said, her voice breaking into a screech.
"Geez, you're cranky when you don't get enough sleep," he observed, reluctantly shifting the car into reverse and backing it up a few feet.
The driver of the other car pulled all of the way out of the space, paused to shout a few obscenities in House's direction and then sped off away from them.
"Are you going to let him insult you like that?" House asked.
"Yes," she said."It's worth it for the parking space," she added, pointing at the now-vacated spot.
"Are you kidding?" he snorted, driving past the spot and swerving around the end of the row."These days I'm always guaranteed a ring-side seat," he boasted, the car wheels squealing again as he pulled a tight turn into another parking space.
"You can't park here," she told him.
"Why not?" he asked, turning off the engine and pulling the key out of the ignition.
She pointed at the sign posted directly in front of them."It's handicapped."
"I'm handicapped," he shrugged, picking up his cane from the dashboard."Is your memory failing again?"
"Yes, but my car doesn't have the special license plate or tags."
"Oh, don't worry," he said, digging into his jean pockets."I never leave home without this."He pulled out a card upon which was pictured the silhouette of a wheelchair and hooked it onto the rear-view mirror.
"You look a little pale," he observed, turning to look at her in the light flooding into the car from the Emergency Room entryway.
"I wonder why," she murmured sarcastically."I'm sure it has nothing to do with the white-knuckle ride I just took."
She reached into her purse and took out the compact and tube of lipstick.She quickly applied the lipstick to her mouth and then held the compact out at arm's length, tilting it as she tried to get a good look at her entire face.
"I wish I had brought some blush or mascara," she said, shaking her head.
"Don't worry, I'll pay extra and have them airbrush the wrinkles out of your MRI images," he assured her.
"How many times a day do people threaten to ram that cane down your throat?" she asked, throwing the makeup back into her purse.
"Counting co-workers?" he asked, screwing up his face."About three," he decided, "Actually, another orifice is the much more popular choice."
Grunting slightly, he opened the door and swung his legs over the side, once more having to support the right knee from underneath to move it.Using the cane, he rose to his feet and slammed his door shut before limping over to the passenger side.
Cuddy was sitting very still, her fingers tightly clutching the purse in her lap as she stared, unseeing, out the windshield at the Emergency Room doors.
House tapped his fingers against the glass, startling her.
"You look fine," he said, opening the door."C'mon let's go."
"House," she said quietly, looking up at him."Couldn't we go somewhere else?"
He tilted his head and considered her request."Well, Wal-Mart's open twenty-four hours," he said."Lowest prices in town, but they were sold out of imaging equipment the last time I was there."
"Another hospital?" she clarified.
He turned to his left and leaned against the car, looking over at the entrance."I know it looks like a dump from the outside, and I hear the Dean of Medicine is a nutcase at the moment.But, on the other hand, I hear they give out free lollipops."
"It's the best hospital in the state," she declared proudly.
"Oh, sure," he agreed, mockingly, looking down at her.
"But I could find adequate treatment at some other ER," she said, pausing to chew nervously on her lip.
"But you'd have to pay it all out-of-pocket for going outside the PPO," he pointed out.
"Fine with me," she shrugged, moving to shove him out of the way so she could pull the door closed again."Let's go."
"Cuddy," he said, refusing to budge."You know you are going to get the best-and quickest-treatment if you go here.And besides," he said, suddenly turning around and bending down to sit on the edge of the car seat."We might run into some problems if we go elsewhere."
"Like what?" she asked, suspiciously.
He placed both hands on his cane, propping his weight against it.
"Unfortunately," he admitted, "I've been thrown out of several of the neighboring Emergency Rooms."
He shrugged his shoulders."A malicious, obviously unsubstantiated rumor about `drug-seeking behavior'."
She sighed and dropped her head into her hands.
"I'm going to regret getting my memory back, aren't I?"
"Maybe when you start remembering things you really want to forget, I can whack you on the head with my cane," he suggested, rising to his feet."To see if I can induce selective amnesia."
"One of us needs a good whacking," she said, opening her eyes and getting out of the car.
"Oh, you little minx," he said, winking at her as he slammed the door and used the remote to lock the car."I keep telling you that we're just going to have to wait until you're all better."
They walked the few steps to the Emergency Room and entered through the automatic doors. As in the car trip, she felt the out-of-kilter sensation of being in a place that managed to be both comfortably familiar and weirdly strange at the same time.The layout of the department seemed little changed, but the colors of the walls, floors and chairs were not what she remembered at all.
"Where the hell is Foreman?" wondered House.
"Foreman?" she asked, turning to him.
"Neurologist, member of my team?" prompted House."About this tall?" he added, raising his hand.
An image of a young, attractive blond man suddenly appeared in her mind's eye."Yes," she said, excitedly."House," she said, turning to grab his arm, "I think I'm starting to remember."
"Praise Jesus!" he murmured, sarcastically, moving his arm from her grasp."Stay here while I look for him."
"What do I do if someone comes over and starts talking to me?" she asked, nervously.She had already noticed several of the employees turning their heads to look at them, obviously wondering what she and House were doing in the ER at this time of the morning.
"Pretend you recognize them and say you're here for a consult," he suggested, moving away from her and turning down one of the hallways.
She turned to see a middle-aged woman in scrubs bearing down upon her.
"Hi," she said, trying not to feel like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.
"This really isn't fair, Dr. Cuddy," the woman said, looking perturbed as she stopped and planted her hands on her hips.
"What isn't fair..." Cuddy's eyes dropped down to the employee name tag pinned to the woman's pocket and was relieved to find her name was printed in large letters."Dorothy?"
"I heard rumors that you might be springing surprise inspections on us-" she began.
"Oh, no. No.Not at all," Cuddy said, shaking her head."I'm...here for a consult...with Dr. House...and Dr. Foreman," she assured her, hoping she didn't sound nearly as stupid as she thought she did.
"The car accident with those teenagers?"
Oh, god, should she say yes or no?
"No," she said, raising a hand to brush the hair away from her forehead."Another case entirely," she said, waving her hand.
"All right," said Dorothy, looking slightly placated."I hope you understand why I was concerned."
"Of course I do," said Cuddy, nodding enthusiastically."You're a great employee and I appreciate all your hard work," she added.
The woman beamed."Why, thank you, Dr. Cuddy."
"Well," she said, shrugging her shoulders and spreading out her hands."I better go find them."
"Oh, I saw Dr. Foreman just a few minutes ago.If I see him again, I'll send him over."
"Gee, thanks, Dorothy."
Now, please, please, please just go away.
"No problem, Dr. Cuddy."
She sighed, closed her eyes and raised her fingers to her suddenly throbbing temples.Part of her wanted to go running down the hallway after House.But another part was afraid she might get lost and not find her way back to the ER.
She opened her eyes and smiled and nodded to a few more employees as they passed by her.It took a few bemused smiles from the passersby before she realized that she was still wearing House's leather jacket over her sweater.She hastily shrugged it off and folded it over her arms.
The minutes seemed to crawl by.
She turned and saw a handsome young black man in a white lab coat approaching her.His hair was shaved close to his scalp and he wore a neatly trimmed beard and moustache.
"How are you doing?" he asked, smiling at her in a very friendly manner.
Ok, this time I'm ready.
"Oh, I'm just fine," she assured him, breezily."I'm just here for a consult with Dr. House and Dr. Foreman, Dr.-"
She glanced down at his badge and her smile immediately disappeared.
She jumped as a hand unexpectedly materialized over her shoulder, moving to point out the name on the ID card.
"FORE-MAN," intoned House's voice."I see you've had a relapse," he murmured, moving to stand at her side."Were you tempted by Satan?" he added, in a broad southern accent.
"I thought I knew who Dr. Foreman was," she explained weakly."Tall, blond guy?" she asked.
"No, no, no," said House, sighing."Now, pay attention:Dr. Foreman is the dude with the `tude, and Dr. Chase is the ass-kissing Aussie."
"Oh, god, I'm so sorry," she said, turning back to Foreman.
"Don't apologize," he said, reaching out to reassuringly squeeze her shoulder."Believe me, I understand completely."
"Yeah, I usually don't remember his name either," said House."Hey, they all look alike to me," he added in a loud whisper.
Cuddy turned to glare at him. "Shut up, House!" she hissed.
He shrugged and reached into the pocket of his blazer, pulling out the bottle of Vicodin.Cuddy reached out and snatched it away from him, shoving it down into one of her own pockets.
"And stop gobbling those down like candy."
"Well, there's a definite memory impairment, but fortunately her personality appears to be in unchanged," Foreman said, smiling in amusement as he continued to study them.
"Fortunate for who?" grumbled House.
"Anyway, there's some bad news," said Foreman, crossing his arms."ER's been fairly quiet tonight, but a couple of hours ago we got in a carload of drunken teenagers who were involved in a rollover.They're keeping the imaging department pretty busy right now, so we're going to have to wait our turn to get in there."
House clucked his tongue."Oh, come on, this woman is obviously in desperate need of urgent medical care," he said, pointing at Cuddy."Besides," he added, "She's the Dean of Medicine.Can't the kids with the crushed craniums wait while we figure out a way to fit her incredibly large ass into the MRI?"
"Very funny, House," said Cuddy, looking even more annoyed."I, of all people, am not going to pull rank here.I'll be happy to wait my turn," she assured Dr. Foreman.
"You said there was bad news," said
House, frowning."Does that mean you
have some good news as well?"
"Actually, yes," said Foreman, uncrossing his arms and putting his hands on his hips."Turns out that Patel called off sick tonight and Cameron is covering for him in ER."
House looked puzzled."And that's good news because?"
"Because she's managed to arrange a pretty private place for us to do the exam.She's also pushed through the paperwork so that Dr. Cuddy doesn't have to go through the whole admission process.She just has to sign a few forms that Cameron will bring in with her.She'll be with us just as soon as she finishes up with her current patient."
"Dr. Foreman, I am shocked!" House said, indignantly."This woman just clearly stated that she wants absolutely no special treatment because of her position.She wants to wait her turn like everyone else."
"Oh, look!" he continued, pointing through the glass partition to the Emergency Room waiting area."There's even an empty chair for her to sit in."
Cuddy frowned and looked in the direction of his finger.
"See?" he asked, "That seat right there between the toddler with diarrhea running down his leg and the puking, urine-stained drunk."
To her distress Cuddy discovered that, for once, House was not exaggerating.She groaned slightly and took a moment to mull over the situation.
"Dr. Foreman," she said, turning towards him."Is there anyone here in the ER who is currently hemorrhaging, coding or seizing?"
"No," he said, shaking his head.
"Okay," she said, shrugging her shoulders."I'll jump to the head of the line just this once."
"Smart move," said House, nodding his approval.
"So, House, I see you've finally managed to corrupt her."
For a few seconds, Cuddy tried to tell herself that she was being paranoid, and that Dr. Foreman was only making a joke about her sudden willingness to bend the rules.But it took only one look at the smug way he was looking at House to convince her that the double entendre was completely intentional.
It was clear that House thought so too.He stared at Foreman for a few seconds in seeming disbelief and then a dangerous gleam appeared in his eyes as his upper lip slowly curled back, his mouth broadening into a smile that was anything but friendly.
The trio stood in an uneasy silence for several seconds, staring at each other until their attention was finally drawn to the sound of heels clicking down the hallway, moving in their direction.
"Here Dr. Cameron," said Cuddy.She was so anxious to distract their attention from the currently uncomfortable atmosphere that it took a few moments for her to realize that she had managed to identify her.
"You recognize her?" asked Foreman, sounding slightly suspicious.
"Yeah, I do," replied Cuddy, the surprise evident in her voice.
House studied the pretty young woman's figure as she approached them.
"Either that or she's learned to read barcodes," he commented, pointing at Cameron's chest.
Cameron looked down to where he was pointing.The badge she wore clipped to her labcoat had indeed flipped over, the side with her picture and name facing against her clothes and the white side embossed with a large black barcode facing outward.
"Oops," said Cameron, quickly turning the name tag over so that it was facing the right way.
"Go figure," said House, shrugging his shoulders."Maybe if you bleached your hair `Hooker Honey Blonde', she'd have recognized you too," he suggested to Foreman.
"She does not look like a hooker, House," said Cuddy, angrily."Your hair is lovely," she said to Cameron.
Cuddy took another look at the other woman's badge and sighed."But, since you have blonde hair in the picture, I'm guessing it's not all that new?"
Cameron smiled and shook her head."Over half a year now."
"Well," said House, twirling his cane like a baton."This is certainly a fascinating subject.I tell you what, since you gals obviously want to catch up with each other, why don't you just go on ahead and grab the table for us?" he said, pointing down the hallway."We'll give you a couple of minutes alone to have some `girl talk' about hair and clothes before we join you for the main course."
Cuddy and Cameron both turned to scowl at him.
"Foreman and I will stay here at the bar for a while, and do some guy stuff," he said."You know, drink a couple boilermakers, throw some darts, arm wrestle..."
"Sure," said Cameron shaking her head."No one's using Room C tonight," she explained to Cuddy."We'll head on down there and you can sign some forms while I get your vitals.Don't be too long," she called, looking back over her shoulder as she led the way.
Cuddy followed for a few steps and then turned back to look at the men."And don't kill each other," she admonished.
"Oh, we'll play nice," promised House, flashing another evil grin at Foreman.
House waited until they had disappeared around the corner and gestured for Foreman to follow him.He walked over to an alcove that held telephones, a drinking fountain and a row of chairs.He bent down and took a long drink out of the fountain as Foreman leaned against the wall with his arms folded, waiting for him to finish.
"So, House," he said, "I haven't seen any sign of Taub, Kutner or Thirteen."
"Why would you?" asked House, straightening up and wiping his mouth."I didn't call them."
"Because they're not needed," he said, shaking his head."You're here as a neurologist to help me complete an exam, not as part of the diagnostics team to solve a medical puzzle.Pretty straightforward case, don't you think?"
"Since when do you, of all people, hear hoof beats and immediately assume it's a horse and not a zebra?"
"When it actually is a horse, of course, or course," he replied widening his eyes."The complete lack of black and white stripes is a dead giveaway," he added in a confidential whisper.
"Right," said Foreman, sounding unconvinced."And you're sure you didn't miss any stripes because you did a very thorough examination?"
"Yes," said House, turning away and beginning to walk down the hallway.
"Since you and Cuddy just happened to be together in the middle of the night when this happened?"
"You know," said House, turning around and snapping his fingers."There's that odd tone in your voice again, almost like you're implying something.Got something on your mind, Dr. Foreman?" he asked, leaning on his cane.
"You got something to tell me, Dr. House?Or, are you going to act like most people who bring someone in and then lie to us about something that might actually have some medical significance to the patient's condition?"
"You're absolutely right," said House, nodding his head."Well, let me figure out the most delicate way to put this."He pushed his cap up as he thoughtfully scratched his head."I'm pretty sure we've got a horse here because-"
He paused and took a step towards Foreman, leaning down so that their faces were only inches apart.
"I rode that little filly pretty long and hard last night, and put her away wet," he hissed, staring directly into Foreman's eyes.
"Situation clear to you now?" he asked, pulling back.
"Absolutely," shrugged Foreman.
They walked halfway down the hallway before Foreman spoke again.
"You know, you make an awfully cute couple," he observed.
"And you know," said House, stopping and thrusting out his cane in front of the other man's body."That I can make your life a living hell."
Foreman snorted out loud."You do that anyway, House," he protested."At least now, I have something to make you squirm a little bit in return."
"Yeah, but I'd be very careful
about disseminating that particular piece of information," said House,
frowning."Remember that `My Friend
Flicka' here is the only administrator on the eastern half of the
"But on the other hand," said Foreman, walking around House's cane and continuing down the hall."She's going to feel a certain amount of gratitude to me for helping to cure her."
"You don't cure TGA," House pointed out, "It resolves on its own."
"If it is TGA."
"It is," House insisted.
"And if it isn't? Foreman asked, stopping and turning back to look at him.
"Well," replied House, tilting his head to consider the question."Let's just hope "My Little Pony" doesn't have a broken leg.Then we'll have to shoot her!"
By this time they were standing outside a pair of swinging double doors with glass windows at the top.House peered through one of the windows and saw that Cameron was pulling the privacy screen around the only bed that was occupied in the long, ward-like room.
"So," said Foreman, standing behind him."Is this going to be one of those cases where you've already settled on a diagnosis and ignore any test results that don't support your hypothesis?"
"Absolutely not," said House, turning back to face him."It's going to be one of those cases where you stop wasting time by arguing with me, do the tests I tell you to do and prove that I'm right."
Using his elbow to push open the door, he strode into the room.
"Happy trails to you," he warbled, pushing the curtains aside.
Cuddy was sitting on the end of the bed and Cameron was putting a blood pressure cuff around her arm.They stared blankly as House grinned broadly at both of them.
"You're comparing me to Dale Evans for some reason?" asked Cuddy, uncertainly, squinting her eyes.
"Close, but no cigar," House said, reaching over to pick her chart up from the bed.
"Ask Foreman, I hear he's anxious to talk to you about it," he said, quickly flipping through the few pieces of paper contained within the slim folder."Something about trigger factors," he said, tossing the file onto a nearby cart.
Cuddy's eyes flicked over to Foreman, who only shook his head and bent down to take a seat on a stool next to the cart.He picked up the chart and began reading it.
"You can put down 80 over 60 as the BP," murmured Cameron, removing the stethoscope from her ears and releasing the pressure from the cuff.
Foreman nodded and took a pen out of his pocket to note the numbers down on the chart.
"What's wrong with this picture?" murmured House, stepping back and tilting his head to the side.
"I know," said Cameron, smiling."It's very difficult to get used to the idea of a fellow physician as a patient," she said, patting Cuddy on the shoulder.
"No," said House, shaking his head."I mean, what's up with this?" he asked, stepping forward and feeling the sleeve of Cuddy's hospital gown."Are you sure this is the only style it comes in?" he asked, dropping his hand."She'd really prefer something a little more low-cut, maybe with slits up the sides?"
Cuddy rolled her eyes and turned to look at Cameron, who was tying a tourniquet around her left arm and preparing to draw blood.
"Why are you using Betadine?" asked House, leaning over and pointing at the orange oval that Cameron had just painted upon Cuddy's arm.
"Because I'm drawing a blood culture," replied Cameron, her tone implying that the answer was obvious as she inserted the needle.
"Yeah," snorted House, "Temperature of 98.6, normal pulse and respiration, complete lack of chills," he noted."My first guess would be septicemia too!"
"An infection could cause clots, which could cause strokes," she replied, her eyes focused on her task as she switched tubes.
"But she didn't have a stroke," insisted House.
"Well, after we get the blood tests back, we should be able to confirm that," murmured Cameron.
Cuddy remained still, turning only her head back and forth as they debated.
"No wonder this hospital is so hard up for money that we had to start charging for cable," he fumed, "with all this unnecessary testing being performed."
Cameron looked up at Cuddy."Remind me to tell you about the time he fried the MRI magnet trying to use it on a guy with bullet fragments in his head."
"House!" said Cuddy, turning to him in outrage.
"The guy was already dead," he said."Tattletale!" he added, glaring at Cameron.
"Yeah," she murmured, reaching up to release the tourniquet."Hold this," she said to Cuddy, pressing a piece of cotton gauze against her arm as she removed the needle.
"So, what did you plan on ordering?" he asked, stepping over to study the tubes she had drawn.
"CBC, CMP, INR, PTT, D-Dimer and blood cultures," she replied, placing a piece of tape over the gauze to hold it in place."Pretty standard stuff."
"Except for the blood culture," sniffed House."You drew plenty of extra too," he noted.
"For whatever weird, esoteric tests you ask me to run later," she said, grinning up at him.
"My turn now," asked Foreman, moving the stool closer to the end of the bed.
"Sure," said House, stepping back and sitting down on the side of the bed.
"Dr. Cuddy," he began, throwing her a friendly smile."Please know that I don't mean to be at all condescending-"
"Yeah, right," interjected House.
Cuddy threw him an annoyed glance and then returned her attention to Foreman.
"But your memory is a little impaired at the moment and since your specialty is not neurology, I want to make sure that you know what we think we are dealing with here, and why."
"Oh, don't be so delicate, Foreman," House urged."The woman has been a hospital administrator for nearly a decade.We all know that whatever medical knowledge she possessed was sucked out of her brain years ago, along with her soul."
This time, both Foreman and Cuddy ignored him completely.
"When a patient presents with amnesia, we first determine what information appears to have been forgotten.You obviously know who you are, you're capable of carrying on a conversation, there is no apparent change in personality, but you have seemingly lost your memory of recent and some not-so-recent events."
"But you and Dr. House don't think I've had a stroke," she said.
"No," he said shaking his head, "Although I am not going to rule that out until we get the labwork and imaging studies back," he said, glancing over her shoulder at House."You do not appear to have any problem with speech or mobility, and you're showing no sign of paralysis or weakness in your limbs," he continued."Your memory since the attack seems to be fine.For example," he said, leaning towards her, "if I asked you how you got to the Emergency Room?"
"Dr House drove me here in my car," she replied, swiftly."Since his own car was in the shop."
Foreman blinked and turned to look at House."Your car was working fine when you left here Friday afternoon," he said, suspiciously.
"Yeah," House agreed, nodding his head.
Cuddy looked puzzled for a moment, and then she groaned and clucked her tongue.
"You lied to me," she hissed, turning to stare at House.
"Hey," he shrugged, without a trace of guilt, "would you have let me drive your precious BMW otherwise?"
"Anyway," said Foreman, "it would appear much more likely that you are suffering from TGA, or Transient Global Amnesia."
"Which sounds like a fancy way to say I'm suffering from a temporary but extensive loss of memory," she said, smiling.
"Exactly," Foreman replied, nodding his head.
"If it's not a stroke, what's going on in my brain to cause this?" she asked.
"If it is TGA, the MRI and PET should show that you have areas of hypoperfusion in the mesial temporal structure and/or the thalamus, and that they are probably already beginning to resolve on their own."
"So, I have had a temporary disruption of blood flow to my brain which has affected my memory centers, but it hasn't progressed to an actual infarction and tissue death."
Foreman nodded again.
"But, what would have caused this temporary disruption?" she asked.
Foreman shrugged."A number of seemingly benign actions have been proven to cause a significant congestion of venous blood flow, leading to temporarily impaired cranial circulation.Some cases of TGA are believed to have been triggered by something as simple as the patient performing a Valsalva maneuver."
"Sneezing?" asked Cuddy, her eyes widening in disbelief.
"Technically, it's purposefully keeping your mouth and nose shut while trying to forcibly exhale, but, yeah, some patients have caused it by trying to suppress a really large sneeze," he said, raising his fingers to pinch his nose and miming the action.
"You know what else can cause it?" House said, rising to his feet.
Cameron, Cuddy and Foreman all turned to look at him.
"Humping!" he said, energetically pumping his pelvis into the air a few times."Your turn," he said, pointing at Cameron."This is better than charades!" he enthused.
It was immensely satisfying to House that, even after all these years, he could manage to provoke that, `Ew, I don't believe you just did that!" look on Cameron's face.For his part, Foreman was sitting back on the stool, arms folded over his chest, regarding House with one of his patented one-eyebrow-raised stares.The daggers being thrown from Cuddy's icy blue eyes would have reduced a lesser man to a quivering mass of jelly.
House smiled broadly and stepped over to throw his arm around Cuddy's shoulder."We were having a sneezing contest," he quickly assured them, before leaning back and giving Cameron and Foreman an exaggerated wink."She was cheating," he added, as Cuddy shrugged away from him.
"How do we proceed from here?" asked Cuddy, returning her attention to Foreman.
"Well, I'll be performing a full neurological exam to make sure we aren't missing any abnormalities, and we make sure the blood tests and scans are all consistent with our tentative diagnosis.Then you basically just sit back and wait for your memory to return on your own."
"How soon will that be?"
"Should be twenty-four hours tops, and maybe as little as three or four," he assured her.
"But, I'll probably want to keep you overnight anyway," Cameron said, walking over to her other side and beginning to put the tourniquet around her right arm.
"Because she's always way more cautious than she needs to be," said House."Which is why you are drawing more blood?" he asked.
"Just getting a second blood culture," she replied, leaning over to gather her supplies.
House reached over and jerked the knot loose, causing the end of the latex strip to snap loudly against Cuddy's arm.
"Ouch!" she said, rubbing her reddened skin.
"She didn't need the first one," House insisted, tossing the tourniquet over to Cameron.
"And you know what House?" said Cameron, catching it in her fingers as she raised herself to her full height and planted her hands on her hips, "It's not your call."
He narrowed his eyes and stared down at her.
"She's in the ER and I am her attending physician at the moment," she said, her nostrils flaring slightly."Foreman is here as a consulting neurologist and you," she said, pointing a finger at his chest, "are just the guy that brought the patient in."
They glared at each other for a few seconds and then House stepped back and feigned wiping a tear away from his eye."Ah, my little girl is all growed up and ordering tests on her own," he said, walking back to the side of the bed."Fine," he said, sitting down again, "draw your stupid blood culture."
"I will," Cameron assured him, tying the tourniquet around Cuddy's arm again.
"I'll just sit here and be quiet."
"That'll be the day," murmured Cameron, rolling her eyes.
"No, I mean it," he said, lying back on the pillows and lifting his feet up on the mattress."I'm not going to say a word," he promised, pulling his cap over his eyes and crossing his long legs.
The three other doctors stared at him suspiciously.
"Especially," he said, lifting his head so that he could squint at Cameron, "when you ask `Anna Anderson' here if she can tell you anything about her current medical history."
Cameron's hand hovered over Cuddy's arm, an orange-colored swab gripped in fingers.She looked at House for a moment and then turned to meet Cuddy's gaze.
"Your chart here is pretty slim," she admitted, shrugging her shoulders."All we have is your pre-employment physical, your latest Hepatitis B titers and your yearly TB tests."
She hesitated for a few seconds more and then reached up to release the tourniquet.
"You win," she said to House, straightening up and tossing the iodine swab into the garbage.
He smiled and pushed the cap back off his forehead."Don't do the talk if you can't do the walk," he advised, rising back to a sitting position."Ready to write?" he asked.
By this time Cameron had settled herself into a chair and had picked up the chart.Taking a pen from her pocket, she nodded her head.
"The patient is a healthy, fairly buxom and exceptionally well-assed female-," he began.
Cuddy groaned and closed her eyes.
"-who has, in the past two years, been consulting with doctors Irwin and Keel at the Trenton Fertility Clinic.She has also obviously not chosen to have copies of her treatment there sent to her chart here at the hospital."
"Approximately two years ago, the patient began investigating the possibility of becoming pregnant by utilizing `In Vitro Fertilization'.The initial testing revealed that, to her doctors' surprise, the patient was not only in possession of female reproductive organs, but that they appeared to be in reasonable working order."
Opening her eyes, Cuddy sighed and crossed her arms.She noted that Dr. Foreman and Dr. Cameron were doing their best to keep their expressions noncommittal.
"After a self-medicated course of `Red Clover', the patient embarked on a series of injectable gonadotropins and used really stupid criteria to select an anonymous sperm donor before undergoing oocyte retrieval and fertilization."
Cuddy turned to glare at House.
"Real loser," he said, shaking his head."To continue," he said, frowning in concentration, "there were three subsequent attempts to implant a fertilized embryo.The first two were unsuccessful, and the third implanted but was spontaneously aborted after only a few days."
There was a short silence.
"I'm sorry," said Cameron, reaching out to pat Cuddy's knee."I had no idea," she said, gently.
"Well, obviously, in my current condition, I don't either," said Cuddy, trying to make a joke.
She stared down at her feet, resisting the urge to rub her hand over her stomach.Even though a moment ago she had not known about the loss of the child she had so briefly carried, her womb felt curiously empty.
"After the third attempt had failed-"
Cuddy squeezed her eyes shut and tried not to flinch at the word.
"-there was serious discussion between the patient and her doctors as to whether another course of IVF was advisable.Although no specific structural or hormonal abnormalities had been encountered during the IVF attempts, the patient ultimately decidedly that she preferred not to continue pursuing this expensive and invasive process."
"Instead," he said stretching out his legs and massaging his thigh, "the patient decided to pursue the possibility of becoming pregnant using fertility-enhancing drugs.To that end, she was placed temporarily on oral contraceptives in order to re-establish a normal menstrual cycle.The oral contraceptives were withdrawn, and the subsequent hormone level measurements and continuation of a regular cycle confirmed that the patient was still capable of ovulation.For the past four months, the patient has been taking clomiphene citrate, beginning with a 50 mg dose that has subsequently been increased to 100 mg.The patient is carefully monitoring her ovulation by using a commercially available fertility kit in combination with close observation of her rectal temperature.When it appears she is ovulating, she is spiritedly engaging in coitus with her new, improved sperm donor, Dr. Gregory House."
He waited for Cameron to finish writing before continuing.
"Dr. Cameron will please note in the chart that these acts of copulation were confined to the interior of Dr. House's apartment, and at no time did he and Dr. Cuddy attempt to have carnal knowledge of each other while on hospital property; say in the janitor's closet or a bed in the Sleep Disorder Laboratory."
"What?" said Cuddy, startled, "Who-"
"Not important," House assured her waving his hand."I'm sure that no one here would think of gossiping about anyone's sex life," he said."At least I wasn't sleeping with a drug rep," he added, smiling at Dr. Foreman.
"Earlier this morning, at approximately , Dr. House was awakened from a post-coital slumber by Dr. Cuddy.Although Dr. House first attributed Dr. Cuddy's agitation to the fact that she had obviously been experiencing a nightmare, after she physically assaulted him he began to suspect that her condition was potentially much more serious.It quickly became clear that she was suffering from more than post-nightmare confusion, and since she had only had two glasses of wine the previous night, it did not appear to be an alcohol-induced blackout.After calming the patient down and performing a brief neurological exam, Dr. House delivered the patient to the Emergency Room at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital.
"She assaulted you?" asked Foreman, looking at him with interest.
"She kicked me in the thigh," he said."The right thigh," he added.
"Given the circumstances, you probably got off lightly," commented Cameron."I wouldn't have aimed for his leg," she said, looking at Cuddy.
"I wasn't aiming at anything," Cuddy protested, "it just kind of happened."
"You're just a fountain of compassion," House said to Cameron."It really hurt," he whined, rubbing his leg again.
"Yeah," said Cameron, nodding.
"Will you write me a Vicodin script?"
"No," she said, shaking her head."So, is there a chance..."
She had begun to direct the question to Dr. Cuddy, but realized mid-sentence that she would have to ask House instead, and turned back to him.
"-that she is pregnant now?"
"As of yesterday, she was ovulating.Since then, she's had over a billion chances to get pregnant," he replied.
He shrugged."You know, about four hundred to five hundred million sperm per release times three releases," he explained.
He turned and smiled again at Foreman.
"Sure it's not your Viagra that you need refilled?" asked Foreman, dryly."Or are you using Cialis?"
"No, it's okay," said House, shaking his head."Dr. Irwin wrote me a script for that."He was quiet for a moment."But, the bastard wouldn't write me one for Vicodin, even after I explained that it was medically necessary for some of those positions they recommended."
"House, they do not need a `blow by blow' description of everything we do," Cuddy protested.
"No blowing," said House, laughing derisively. "That would kind of be defeating the purpose of why you were there.I mean, your anatomy's not that screwed up."
"Anyway," interjected Cameron, "I guess we could go ahead and run a quantitative HCG."
"Even that test isn't sensitive enough to detect if she's been pregnant less than twenty four hours," protested House.
"No, but we could get a baseline and test it again in a few days and see if it's at least rising," said Cameron.
House considered this for a moment."All right," he said, nodding his head."As long as you delete the blood culture."
"No," said Cameron, reaching over for a lab requisition and beginning to fill it out."I am going to do it in addition to all the other tests, plus run an LFT panel since you're on Clomid," she told Cuddy.
"Do you think that this problem was at all caused by my medication?" Cuddy asked, directing her question at Foreman.
"No," he said, "To tell you the truth, the typical patient presenting with TGA is usually over fifty, and some studies have indicated that women's attacks are more commonly associated with an emotional trigger like high stress situations rather than a physical cause."
"So, this may not even have been caused by the sex?" she asked.
"Maybe by the stress of having sex with me," House suggested."They were both too polite to say that, but we know they were thinking it," he whispered to Cuddy.
"Then why did you have to tell them every detail?" sputtered Cuddy.
"Hey, I didn't tell them every detail!For example, I didn't tell them that we started out on the couch and-"
"Don't you dare, House!" exclaimed Cuddy, her face instantly flushing an angry red.
"Cuddy, you're not going to die of embarrassment because of what I've just told them," said House, rising to his feet."But, as Dr. Foreman pointed out to me in the hallway, I have often had a patient end up on death's doorstep because either he or his family felt something was a little too embarrassing or a detail too unimportant to mention to us.I am absolutely sure that you are suffering from TGA, but if it turns out that you're not," he said, holding out his hands, "then maybe something I've revealed here will turn out to be absolutely vital to the diagnosis."
"Come on, Cuddy," he said, shaking his head."Would I have handed all this ammunition to Foreman if I thought I could have avoided it?"
She looked at him uncertainly for a moment.
"Okay," he said, lowering his head for a moment, "you don't remember Dr. Foreman well enough to make that call."He raised his eyes back to her face."But you can believe me when I say that there is no way in hell I wanted anyone in this hospital to know what we were doing, much less why," he said, tiredly.
She studied his face for a moment, and then nodded.
There was a long silence in the room.
"One more thing," said Cameron.
Cuddy turned to look at her.
"We're going to need a urine sample too," she said, holding out a collection cup.
"You think the less-sensitive urine test is better than the quantitative serum one?" said House.
"No," she said, shaking her head."But, since you are suffering from loss of memory, we do need to run a tox screen on you just to be sure there's nothing else causing it."
House slapped his palm against his head."A urine drug screen!" he exclaimed.He peered over at Cuddy, "Now, why didn't you think of that?"
Cuddy just made a face at House and put her hand out for the cup as she jumped off the end of the bed.
"I'll go with you," said Cameron.
"You don't have to," Cuddy said, pulling back the privacy curtain."Surprisingly enough, I seem to remember where the bathrooms are at this place."
"Makes sense to me," House called after her."After all, you spent all that time writing your name and phone number on all the walls."
"That's how we hooked up," he said, directing this to Foreman and Cameron.
Cameron just shook her head and focused on finishing writing up the lab requisition and labeling the tubes.
House sat down on the edge of the bed again."Check to see how long it's going to be to get the MRI," he said to Foreman.
He nodded and walked over to the wall phone and dialed a number.After a short conversation, he replaced the receiver back on the hook and turned to House.
"Still about half an hour to forty-five minutes before we can get in," he said, sounding slightly frustrated.
"Good," said House, standing up.
"That gives you plenty of time to do a full neurological exam and to get some of the labwork back before you take her in.Be sure to include all the `bells and whistles', and let me know if you find anything wrong, even if it's slight," he said."Since, if it is TGA, we expect to find absolutely nothing."
House walked over to the stack of Cuddy's discarded clothes, which were lying on another cart, and began fishing through the pockets.Finally finding the bottle of Vicodin she had taken away from him, he transferred it to the pocket of his blazer.
"And when you get the imaging results, come wake me up," he said, beginning to walk out of the cubicle.
"Wake you up?" asked Foreman.
House nodded."I'm going to be in my office sleeping."
Both Cameron and Foreman looked at him with puzzled expressions upon their faces.
"It's the middle of the night people, at least one of us should be sleeping," he observed."I nominate me," he said, pushing the curtain aside and limping out of the room.
He was halfway to the elevator before he heard her heels clicking down the hallway behind him.He ignored it and attempted to quicken his pace, although he knew there was no chance that he could outrun her.
Cameron finally caught up with him and grabbed him by the elbow, forcing him to stop and turn towards her.He saw that she was carrying a clear, plastic bag that held Cuddy's blood samples in her other hand.
"Where are you going?" she asked, sounding clearly annoyed.
He reared back, his eyebrows knitted together."I'm going to my office," he said, sounding surprised."Don't you remember," he asked, sounding concerned.
"Hmm, epidemic amnesia, maybe this isn't TGA," he mused, out loud."Unless-" he said, slowly, snapping his fingers.
"Did you and Dr. Foreman just have sex?" he asked, at the top of his voice.He was immediately gratified to see that his exclamation had caused at least half a dozen of nearby employees to stop in their tracks and gaze curiously at them.
Cameron ignored them completely and continued scowling at House.
"Why aren't you staying with her?"
"You think I need to stay in there while Foreman gives the exam?Why?"He tilted his head to the side."You think they're going to have sex, now that he's discovered how easy she is?"
"Do you have any idea of how scared she is right now?"
He stared down at her silently for several seconds.
"What exactly is it that you want me to do?" he said, finally."Stay in there and hold her hand?" he asked, facetiously.
"Maybe," she replied.
"I hate to shatter your illusions, Cameron, but most guys, after they've gotten to third base, aren't really interested in going back to the `holding hands' stage," he confided to her.
She just shook her head in disbelief.
"But, you know someone who is very good at holding hands?" he asked."You are," he said, patting her shoulder."Go hold her hand," he urged, turning away from her.
He had taken only one step before she had managed to stride past him and block his way.
"I would, House, except for two things.In the first place, you are apparently the only person she really remembers at the moment.And secondly, I have other patients I have to attend to right now."
"Oh, yeah, that's right," he said, breaking into a smile."You have other patients, but I don't, do I?In fact," he added, leaning on his cane, "I have no patients at the moment, remember?You specifically told me that I'm not her physician, right?"
"House," she began, sounding frustrated.
"And you know what else, Cameron?" he asked, his voice beginning to rise in anger."I'm not her husband either.Or her boyfriend.I am sure your inherently rose-colored nature has already painted a romantic glow over this whole situation, but the fact is-"
He bent down to move closer to her."I'm just her fucking sperm donor.The fact that it's being delivered via a penis rather than a syringe and she's getting a little incidental pleasure doesn't mean she's any more emotionally involved with me than she was with her last donor."
Her mouth dropped open in shock, and a look of absolute disgust crossed her face.But, it lasted just a moment before a being replaced by a look of dawning comprehension.
"Oh, god," House groaned, closing his eyes for a moment."Let me guess, you're about to give me some advice?" he asked, resignedly.
"Yes," said Cameron, nodding."Don't do this, House," she said, quietly.
"Don't do what?" he snapped, screwing up his eyes and mouth.
"Don't do this to yourself and please don't do this to her," she whispered.
"What?" he asked, throwing out his hands.
"Don't push her away like this," she her voice a mixture of sadness and concern.
For the briefest of moments, she hoped that he might actually listen to her.But instead, she found herself involuntarily jumping backwards as he suddenly raised his cane to her shoulder.
"Can I push you away like this?" he asked, mockingly, shoving her back with the cane."Hey, it works!" he noted, happily.
"House," she began, and then immediately recoiled as he lurched towards her again.
"Tell you what though," he said, snatching the bag out of her fingers."Since the lab is on my way to the office, I'll go ahead and deliver it for you."He turned and began to limp away from her.
Her head dropped tiredly to her chest, and she rubbed her hand wearily across her forehead.The sudden sound of shattering glass made her jump and turn in surprise.
House was standing next to a plastic biohazard waste container that was mounted on the wall.
"By the way," he said, resealing the bag."Expect a call from the lab in a few minutes, complaining that you ordered a blood culture but they can't find the tube."
He smiled triumphantly.
"Told you not to draw it."
With a sigh, she turned to make her way back to the ER.
A few minutes later, he was at his desk, turning on the lamp and rubbing his eyes with his fingers as he waited for his computer to boot up.
He took Cuddy's cell phone out of his pocket and switched it on, searching her directory, looking for the names of various members of the board and hospital administration.Finally finding the name of the person he hated most, and who therefore would give him the greatest pleasure in awakening at this ungodly hour, he punched a button to begin the call.He only let it ring one time, however, when he abruptly switched the phone off.
Pulling out a desk drawer, he searched for a while before finally pulling out a piece of paper which he placed on top of the desk.Consulting the numbers written upon it, he reached for his desk phone and dialed.
There were two rings before a beep sounded and a mechanical voice informed him that `The number you have reached is not a working number.'
Sighing, he reached over and pressed down on the receiver hook.Lifting the receiver to his ear, he reached over and dialed a different number.After four rings, a sleepy female voice answered on the other end.
Oh, great, she had to answer.
There was a slight pause."Is this House?" asked the voice.
"Is this Cut Throat Bitch?" he asked,
his voice rising in feigned surprise."Hey, I didn't expect you to be there,
"Sorry, House."It was
"No, but thanks for asking," he said.
There was a short pause.
"I assume that you have Stacy's new unlisted phone number?"
He could imagine each and every one
"House," he said, slowly, his mind still obviously trying to process all the possibilities, "are you drunk?"
"No, but thanks for asking," he repeated.
"House, I know this is a completely unproductive exercise, because you're obviously going to find some way to get her number whether I give it to you or not, but I'm going to take a swing at it anyway."
House sighed and lifted his legs to
the desk, knowing he was in for one of
"It's taken them over two years, but Stacy and Mark have just managed to get their marriage back on track," he began.
"And you know this because?"
There was another short pause and
"Oh, my, that must have been cozy," observed House, tilting his chair back.What special celebrations are they planning this year?"
"Well, they're trying to find an arena big enough to hold the annual `Burn House in Effigy' event.Unfortunately, The Meadowlands seems to be pretty booked up this year."
There was another pause.
"Do me a favor, House, please wait until Monday morning and then, if you're still determined to talk to her-"
"I think that will be too late," said House, frowning."I'm sure she'll be discharged by then."
"Who'll be discharged?"
"Are you serious?"
"Am I ever anything but?"
"Look at your caller ID, Wilson, I'm calling from my office."
He heard the bed creak as
"And Cuddy is in the ER right now, getting a neurological exam and waiting her turn, like a good girl, for the MRI."
"Oh, my god, House, what is it?"
"Oh, just a touch of amnesia, you know, the twenty-four-hour kind."
"We're not starting that again," he informed him."Anyway, her overconscientious doctor seems to think that it might be beneficial to her to have someone she knows nearby for a while, and I guess she may be right.I have no idea who she considers a close personal friend at the moment-"
"Yeah, right," House snorted."But, she did specifically mention Stacy's name earlier, so I'm betting that it wouldn't hurt for her to come out.You know, hold her hand for awhile."
"Thanks, and be sure to give Mark my regards," he said."Hey, by the way, ask him how that whole walking thing is going."
"I hate to break this to you, House, but he has actually recovered full use of his legs."
House laughed shortly."Just when I thought my night couldn't get any better," he murmured.
"House?"Are you okay?"
"Of course, my memory is absolutely, remorselessly clear at the moment."
"Do you want me to come in?"
He considered the question for a moment."Sure," he said, shrugging his shoulders."Unless Foreman's really messed up the exam, she still has the use of both hands.You can come hold one too."
House's finger pressed down on the
hook before he could finish his sentence.He released the hook and then placed the receiver next to the phone,
With a grimace, he lowered his feet to the floor and then bent down to open another drawer.This time, there was no need to search, and he grasped the whiskey bottle by the neck with his right hand while unscrewing the lid with his left.He raised it to his lips and took a large swallow.He placed it on the desk and then searched in his pockets.Bringing out the Vicodin bottle, he dispensed another pill into his hand and then reached for the liquor, taking another swig to swallow it down.
He smiled and turned over to his music system, switching on the turntable and lifting the stylus to place it on the third grooved section of the disc.The strains of a loud, jazzy song immediately rang out in the empty office.He reached over to turn the volume up a couple of notches and then reached over to pick up Cuddy's cell phone.He punched in the number again, and tapped his fingers in rhythm with the music as he waited for his call to be answered.
"Hi!" he shouted over the music."Is this Bob Smithers?Sorry to wake you up so early on Sunday morning..."