#1 Posted by Methos (40103 posts) - - Show Bio

Enigmatic Absurdities

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i make no claim to this piece of insanity... it was written by a friend of mine Eponine...

if you like it, head over to her Myspace page and let her know :D

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=70376630

“Honestly, you know how much I hate driving in weather,” she grumbled to her husband as she pushed a lock of graying brown hair behind her ear, where it refused to stay. “Look at this; barely even afternoon and yet we need headlights!”

“Easy, Linda,” he urged, wincing when it came out sounding more whiney and less soothing than he’d planned. “For God’s sake, it’s a bit of rain.”

She shook her head and peered through the windshield anxiously, knuckles white around the steering wheel. “I know, I know. I just wish I didn’t have to drive in it. You know how nervous it makes me.”

Phil rubbed his left shoulder with a grimace, silently admitting to himself that it was raining pretty hard. “I told you I’m perfectly capable of-“

“You most certainly are not,” she interrupted harshly. “I’ll not have you getting behind the wheel with liquor in your system.”

“’M more relaxed than you, anyways,” he grumbled quietly as he massaged the left side of his chest with his knuckles, but he didn’t bother pressing the argument he’d already lost several times before. She ignored him, choosing wisely to concentrate on the road instead.

“See that?” he said after several long minutes of silence. “Almost home. You did good.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes, but he noticed she also blushed a little at the compliment as she turned on to their street. “Should I bother with the back lot?” she asked.

“Nah, there’s an open space on the curb up ahead,” he said dismissively before smothering a loud burp with a clammy hand.

Taking note of the space he indicated and mentally lining up the parallel parking job ahead of her, she shook her head. “I told you not to get the ribs,” she scolded. “You always get the worst heartburn-“

“Linda, look out!” he shouted as a large figure shot out of the alleyway next to their building and rolled into the street just ahead of them. With a strangled shout, Linda managed to stomp down on the brakes just in time to avoid running over the tumbling figure, who had managed to land in an awkward crouch in the opposite lane.

“Oh, thank goodness,” Linda breathed the second it became clear she hadn’t hit the man. The words had barely even left her lips when an oncoming SUV slammed into the man she’d narrowly avoided.

“Call 911,” she gasped needlessly, her husband already punching the numbers into his cell phone.

//////\

Brow knotted in concentration, his fingers steady in a way only a medical professional’s could be, he carefully lowered another card into place. His eyes never left the structure before him as he took three more cards from the pile, aware that even the slightest tremble of breath upon the half-built wall would mean certain disaster. He’d considered using double-sided tape as a means to avert said catastrophe, but he didn’t actually have any cases to work on at the moment, so he had more than enough time to hunker down and be meticulous enough to accomplish his task sans cheating.

The rush of air as his door was thrown open had him catching his breath, his hand frozen mere centimetres from the structure as the threat thankfully passed without collapsing his fragile card wall. Given time he’d have an actual house of cards on his desk, please appreciate the play on words here, but thus far it was little more than a partition.

“Oh, good,” the business-mannered brunette announced as she breezed into his office, “I was hoping you were bored.”

“Dr. Cuddy, always a pleasure, though admittedly more so when you show a little cleavage. And who said I was bored?” House asked, still not looking away from his cards as he dropped a Queen of spades onto the horizontal bridge.

“Call it intuition,” she answered, rolling her eyes. Not that he actually saw her roll her eyes, as he was very preoccupied, but he was familiar with the tone of voice. She was probably glaring at his cards, too, he thought smugly.

“And whether or not I’m currently entertained is important to you because…” he trailed off, sounding disinterested enough that the statement couldn’t be confused for a question. Not that she wouldn’t answer, but she’d at least know that he didn’t particularly care.

She waved a manila file in front of his face, dangerously close to the card structure. “This,” she said smugly. “And I happen to know you don’t have any cases right now, so don’t even bother with excuses. I want you on it.”

House finally looked up at her, making sure to raise an eyebrow as he did so. He wordlessly took the file and leaned back in his seat to open it, all the while leveling a gaze on Dr. Cuddy that made it clear he was not expecting to be impressed. Scanning the papers inside, he found no reason to change his opinion. “You recall that I’m a diagnostician,” he stated dryly, knowing he’d have to lead her to the point if he wanted to get anything out of her.

“I do,” she responded, the shadow of a smirk letting House know she’d anticipated this line of questioning.

“And therefore I would have no interest in someone who was hit by a car,” he continued.

“Look at his BP,” she suggested.

Leaning forward over his desk, he did just that. Twice, actually, mentally cursing himself for doing an outright double-take in front of Cuddy. He hated letting on when she actually managed to surprise him.

“You’re assigning me to a corpse?” he asked, confused.

The hint of smirk remained. “He was pronounced dead at the scene. They were about to black bag him when he temporarily regained consciousness. The paramedics performed CPR on him while they rushed him here, but despite the fact that he regained consciousness several times during the trip, they never actually managed to get so much as a blip from his heart.”

House raised his eyebrow again, taking a few moment to flip through the file some more. “It still doesn’t exactly fall within my realm of expertise,” he reminded her.

“Nor does it fall into anybody else’s field,” she countered. “Quite frankly, we don’t have a clue what to do with him. I was hoping you’d at least get started on his case, maybe as a favour?”

After one more cursory glance at the chart, House leaned back in his chair and grinned, tossing the file onto his desk and completely decimating the stacked cards in the process. He steepled his hands and looked Dr. Cuddy in the eye.

“I’ll bite,” he said finally, “but you know these little favours I do for you come with a price.”

She rolled her eyes again. “I’ll take of six of your clinic hours.”

“Ooh, that’s quite the high starting offer from you,” House said cheekily. “Twelve.”

“Don’t push it,” Cuddy snapped. “Eight.”

“Ten, and you pretend to be my girlfriend for a week,” House suggested with a grin.

“You’re an ass,” she said evenly. “Eight.”

“Well aren’t we exceptionally humourless today. Fine- eight hours, but I’ll have you know I expect sexual compensation for this at a later date,” House agreed and started paging his staff. It was going to be a very interesting day.

“Cameron, how nice of you to join us this lovely afternoon,” House greeted cheerily from his seat on the edge of the table.

“Why is our patient restrained?” Cameron demanded, ignoring his greeting. House tried not to laugh at her indignant posture and angry pout.

“Excellent question,” he congratulated before turning to Chase and Foreman. “Any ideas?”

His other two staff members appeared to be at a loss, exchanging glances and shrugs.

“Oh, come on,” House scolded. “It’s not a trick question, I promise.”

Again with the exchanging of glances, but this time Chase spoke up. “The only reason to restrain a patient would be to prevent him from harming himself or others,” he said, knowing he was right even if he didn’t have a clue as to how it pertained to the case. House like that about Chase; he could almost always be counted on to give the obvious answer even when he admittedly didn’t know what House was getting at.

“Very good,” House said, his tone predominantly sarcastic. “And does anyone know why I believe this precaution necessary with this particular patient?”

“Seeing as you haven’t actually filled us in on his condition yet, no,” Foreman said, not quite rolling his eyes.

“Did he attack someone?” Chase asked, ignoring Foreman’s sarcastic remark. “Perhaps he appeared violently delusional?”

“Oh for two,” House stated. “As a matter of fact, he has yet to regain full consciousness so far, and he shows no signs of doing so again any time soon. What else?”

“Was he exposed to a substance that might make him behave violently?” Foreman suggested. “A psychodysleptic, maybe?”

“Another perfectly reasonable answer,” House said. “Also wrong. Come on, people, why would I possible order double hard restraints on a man-“

“What do you mean by ‘double’?” Chase interrupted, earning himself a glare from House.

“He means exactly what it sounds like,” Cameron answered cuttingly. “He’s got him in two sets of hard restraints. That poor man is practically chained to the bed!”

“As I was saying,” House interjected, pulling them back to the conversation at hand, “why would I order double restraints on a comatose man with over a dozen broken bones throughout his body? Come on, people!”

His only answer was a dark look from Cameron. He let the silence continue for a few seconds, pretending to be inordinately interested in his cane, before giving an overly dramatic sigh.

“Alright, alright, so I didn’t actually expect any of you to know the answer,” he admitted. “Truth is, the reason is a little more personal than medical. Well, sort of, anyway. You know, now that I think of it, maybe it was a trick question.”

“You had a patient restrained for personal reasons?” Foreman asked incredulously.

“I said ‘sort of’,” House reminded him irritably. “Here’s the thing: pretty soon, I’m going to start writing things on that whiteboard over there, as I so often do. However, just to shake things up a bit, I’m going to write things that none of you will actually believe.”

“And this will accomplish… what, exactly?” Chase asked dryly, certain now that House was working his way to some obscure point that would probably teach the three of them some sort of lesson House deemed important.

“I’m not sure, really,” House said, making a show of rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “It could be a part of my campaign for world domination, but it may just end up being some elaborate ploy to get Cuddy into bed with me. Of course, I could just be trying to diagnose some poor schmuck’s bizarre and as of yet inexplicable symptoms, but how likely is that, really?”

Three blank faces answered him.

“Fine,” he sighed. “These unbelievable things I’m planning on sharing with you three are, in fact, the truth. The fact that I don’t expect you to believe them does nothing to alter their veracity.”

“I take it that there’s something a bit unusual about this case, then,” Chase observed.

“I was wondering when you were going to get around to stating the obvious,” House said as he got to his feet and began pacing. “As I’m sure you’re all aware, a great many of our cases are abnormal. That’s why they get assigned to us instead of being diagnosed at, say, the clinic. Generally what we see goes a bit beyond the average flu and food poisoning cases. We end up with the more challenging cases, rare diseases or uncommon presentations of more ordinary pathogens. This case, however, is a little further up the ladder of unusual than even we’re accustomed to. I’d even go as far as to label the man’s symptoms as impossible, if it weren’t for the fact that he is actually suffering from them.”

There was exactly one beat of silence before Cameron spoke up. “That still doesn’t tell us why you had him chained to the bed.”

House stopped pacing. “You’d think my announcement would be at least a little bit diversionary,” House grumbled. “And I’ll have you know that I have every reason to believe that this particular patient poses a significant threat to the entire hospital,” he added smugly.

“So you know what’s wrong with him,” Cameron stated questioningly.

House gave her a look, eyebrows cocked for maximum shaming effect. “If I did, then it wouldn’t be much of a case, now, would it?”

“Then how do you know-“ Chase started, but House cut him off.

“While it’s true that I don’t know what’s wrong with the man, I do have a bit of experience with a similar case. I’ve seen these symptoms before; only once, mind you, but the experience was fairly memorable.”

“What happened? Did you lose the patient?” Cameron asked, always on the lookout for something to be sympathetic about.

“I didn’t lose anybody: he wasn’t my patient,” House corrected. “And he was only lost in the most literal sense. He was brought in through the ER, completely unconscious after an MVA, much like our guy. Unlike our guy, he was pronounced dead. I happened to be there when they were wheeling him to the morgue.”

“Wait- he was pronounced dead? Our guy’s alive, right?” Foreman asked.

“Yes, he was, and yes, he is. We think,” House added before brushing over the odd statement. They’d get to that later. “As I was saying, I happened to be there when this guy, who had been pronounced dead, leapt off the gurney and tore a nurse’s throat out. Before anybody had time to react, the guy was off. By the time somebody called security, he was long gone and the nurse was bleeding out on the floor. Like I said, a memorable experience.”

Blank stares and blinking seemed to be the order of the day, judging by his staff.

“He tore out her throat?” Chase asked, wavering between disbelief and disgust.

“How very sexist of you, Dr. Chase,” House chided. “Yes, the patient tore out his throat. With his teeth, by the way. The whole incident was all very B horror movie.”

“If the patient was pronounced dead after an MVA and an autopsy was never preformed, how do you know that patient and this one display the same symptoms?” Foreman asked.

“We’re fast approaching the part where I write really weird stuff on the board,” House said, picking up a marker. “How do I know? Because both patients were pronounced dead, only to regain some sort of consciousness later. Luckily, ours didn’t become lucid enough to try and kill anyone, but it’s safer to assume he will at some later point. There’s a pun in here somewhere about watching our necks, I’m sure of it… At any rate, their apparent lack of a heartbeat-“ House uncapped the marker and wrote ‘NO PULSE’ in large letters- “is a distinctive enough symptom that I’m fairly confident in lumping the two cases together.”

Predictably, this revelation was met with yet more blank stares. House was not surprised.

Wilson sighed and tossed the last file onto his desk. Grinning, he looked at his watch and stood up, giving his office one last perfunctory scan before he left. He officially had nothing to do, which meant he was free to do what he always did when he’d fulfilled his obligations for the time being.

Even from halfway down the hall from the conference room, Wilson could see that today’s visit was going to be slightly more interesting than usual. Disagreements between House and his staff weren’t exactly abnormal, but from what Wilson could see through the large windows, they were in the middle of a doozy.

Not bothering to knock or otherwise announce his entrance, his presence at the doorway went pretty much unnoticed. Deciding to enjoy the show rather than jump right in, Wilson leaned against the door frame and watched.

“Because it isn’t possible,” Foreman said insistently, punctuating the sentence with gestures.

“This file seems to say otherwise,” House pointed out, waving his hand at the manila folder in question.

“Then that file has to be wrong,” Chase argued. “There is absolutely no medical precedent for this combination of symptoms! Everything we know about the human body says that this is impossible.”

“And yet there it is, in black and white. Of course, if you’d rather see it in the flesh, you could just saunter down the hallway for a little look-see,” House said sarcastically.

Wilson decided it was getting to be about time to step in, as he wasn’t getting a whole lot of information on the discussion this way. “See what?”

“House’s imaginary patient,” Foreman answered.

“For god’s sake, this isn’t nursery school,” House grumbled. “We’re not playing make-believe.”

“He isn’t imaginary,” Cameron said.

“No, just his symptoms,” Foreman shot back.

“Imaginary or not,” Chase cut in, “we’ve got an extremely hypothermic patient on complete heart/lung bypass. We need to make a decision, and soon.”

“Do you have a donor lined up?” Wilson asked.

“He’s not a transplant patient,” House explained. “Some idiot in emergency medicine decided to put him life support.”

“I’m confused,” Wilson said.

“Join the club,” Foreman said under his breath.

“He’s on life support because he’s asystolic and he’s not breathing on his own,” Cameron supplied wearily.

“And you induced hypothermia because…” Wilson prompted.

“We didn’t,” House answered. “He did that all on his own.”

“What happened?” Wilson asked.

“MVA,” was House’s curt response.

“Okay, so now I’m very confused. Why are you taking care of a hypothermic auto accident victim? You’re a diagnostician,” Wilson pointed out.

“Because he was hypothermic before the accident,” House explained impatiently.

“How do you know?”

“His core body temperature was about 20º Celsius when they brought him in,” Chase offered.

“And he’s still alive?” Wilson exclaimed. “And how does that prove he was hypothermic first?”

“Depends on your definition,” Foreman supplied, “and because that temperature was taken about half an hour after he was hit.”

“How long was he in the water?” Wilson asked.

“What water?” House said, more statement than question.

“MVA victim with hypothermia, I assumed he drove into the river,” Wilson said with a shrug.

House shook his head, a touch of smugness in his expression. “Nope. Our guy was a pedestrian who got run over by an over-sized SUV. No water involved, unless you count the rain.”

“And his core temperature is down to 20º half an hour later? That’s… well, I hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure that’s not possible,” Wilson said apologetically.

“Preachin’ to the choir, here,” Foreman said, leaning back in his chair.

“If it weren’t possible, the guy wouldn’t be here,” House insisted.

“You said he was a pedestrian,” Wilson pointed out. “This implies he was upright at the time of the accident?”

“According to the witnesses, he was running,” House said.

“Running,” Wilson stated, earning an affirming eyebrow raise from House. “With severe hypothermia.”

“From all accounts, the guy was pretty limber,” House said. “Still is.”

“According to House, there’s absolutely no rigidity or hypoflexia evident in our patient,” Chase said disbelievingly, his superior’s name sounding like an accusation.

“At 20º, I’d expect rigor mortis to be setting in,” Wilson observed.

“Which it isn’t,” House informed him. “Between that and the noteworthy absence of a scary guy in a dark cloak with a sharp stick, we’re pretty sure he isn’t dead.”

“Pretty sure?”

“You’re not dead until you’re warm and dead,” House reminded him. “Besides, his brain’s a little active for a dead guy.”

“Pretty active for someone with hypothermia this severe, too,” Cameron interjected. “His EEG should be completely flatlined at this stage.”

“EEG?” Wilson asked weakly. He was starting to understand the duckling’s issues with the case.

House smirked. “Yup. ER doc fixed him up. Brain’s just motoring away in that ice-cube of a noggin of his.”

“What about hyperkalamia? Barbiturates? Sedatives?” Wilson asked, choosing to ignore the brain issue for the moment.

“Ooh, I’m so glad you asked!” House said gleefully. “I hadn’t gotten to this part yet.”

“This part?” Cameron gaped. “There’s more?”

“Of course there’s more,” House said smugly. “What I hadn’t gotten around to telling you yet is we also ran a few little blood tests, checked out his potassium levels, that sort of thing.”

“And?” Foreman prodded when he didn’t continue. “How’s his potassium?”

House shrugged. “I have no idea.”

“What do you mean, you have no idea?” Cameron asked. “Haven’t the tests come back?”

“Oh, the tests came back alright,” House told her. “I just don’t know how his potassium is.”

“I’m sorry?” Wilson sighed, knowing how much House was enjoying drawing this out.

“I don’t know how his potassium is because I have absolutely no idea what the potassium levels in his blood should be. His blood isn’t human.”

“He’s not… he’s not human?” Chase asked slowly, as if he wasn’t sure this was the question he was supposed to be asking.

Apparently, House seemed to think it was the perfect question. “Oh, he’s human,” he stated with a smirk. “It’s just his blood that’s not.”

“I don’t understand,” Cameron said.

“Just for kicks, we tested some of his other tissues. They all came up pretty much normal. His blood, however, appears to be a mixture of several different types of mammal blood. He also has trace amounts of human blood in two different blood types, as well as a little bit of something I’m told looks kind of like finger paint,” House read from the chart.

“Can I ask why you’re so… happy about all of this?” Wilson asked. “I mean, this case… its not diagnosable! There’s no way you can get this one right!”

“I’m happy,” House informed him solemnly, “because this case is not only driving Cuddy up the wall, it’s entirely outside the box.”

“But that’s the problem exactly, don’t you see?” Chase begged desperately. “The chances of us actually finding a cause for this thing are- are- astronomical! Absolute best case scenario, we end up calling it House’s Syndrome and watching him die!”

House just rolled his eyes. “As cool as it would be to have a disease named after me, I don’t think the guy is in any imminent danger of becoming deceased.”

“We’re still talking about the hypothermic corpse with brain waves, right?” Foreman asked sarcastically.

“The hypothermic corpse whose condition has been improving steadily since his admission,” House pointed out.

“I never thought I’d be accusing you of heedless optimism,” Wilson said, shaking his head.

“Says a man who’s on his third marriage,” House snarked.

“House, you’ve said it yourself,” Chase practically shouted in frustration. “The man’s autonomic nervous system is almost entirely unresponsive and we haven’t been able to coax his core temperature any higher than 32º! And that’s not to mention how long his brain went without oxygen. Even if he does somehow survive this, the chances of this man ever waking up-”

“Excellent moot point, Chase,” House interrupted, looking down at his beeper and walking toward the door to the conference room. “Let’s go.”

“What? Go where?” Cameron asked, voicing everyone’s bewilderment.

“Guy’s awake, come on,” House shouted back over his shoulder, not even looking to see if anyone followed. Wilson ran after him without waiting for House’s staff to finish gaping; they’d be along soon enough.

“I honestly don’t know if I’m more surprised that he’s awake or that you’re voluntarily going to visit a patient,” Wilson commented as he caught up to House.

“Personally, I’m more surprised at Cameron’s new highlights than anything,” House diverted as he pushed open the door to the mystery patient’s room. “You’re awake!” he announced. “Now you can tell us who the hell you are.”

The man, a tall guy in his mid-to-late-twenties with dark hair, regarded the doctors warily. “You first,” he stated.

“Oh, all right,” House sighed dramatically. “But only because you asked so nicely. I’m Dr. House, and I’m currently in charge of your case. This is Dr. Wilson. Now it’s your turn.”

“Angel,” he answered simply. House waited for more, but it didn’t come.

“And… that would be first or last?” he finally enquired.

“Am I in a hospital?” Angel asked, ignoring House’s question.

“Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital,” Wilson answered before House could antagonize the patient too much.

“Can I ask why, exactly?” Angel pressed, speaking a little slowly, as if he were trying to restrain either anger or frustration.

House just raised an eyebrow. “Because you got hit by a car. Of course, if what you’re actually asking is ‘why are you in the hospital as opposed to the morgue’, the answer’s a little more complicated.”

“We could always try ‘why am I chained to the bed?’” Angel said, nodding toward the restraints around his wrists, ankles, and waist.

“Because I’m kinky like that,” House answered sarcastically.

“Yes, please, by all means continue butting heads. I feel as if we’re finally getting somewhere with all of this,” Wilson muttered with a roll of his eyes as the ducklings filed in.

“Oh my god,” Cameron gasped before she could stop herself.

“Well, he does call himself ‘Angel’,” House said.

Cameron blushed. “Sorry, I just- umm…”

“She’s trying to tell you that she didn’t believe you were really awake without being insensitive,” House told Angel. “She’s funny that way.”

“You weren’t expecting me to wake up?” Angel asked cautiously. He didn’t sound surprised; more like he was attempting to get information without giving any.

“Between the severe hypothermia and the complete lack of any pulmonary or respiratory activity, most of the staff had you pegged as a bit of a long shot,” House explained.

Angel narrowed his eyes. “Has anyone ever told you what a wonderful bedside manner you have?”

“Most people find me charming,” House huffed, feigning hurt.

“Most people find your personality ‘grating and repulsive’,” Wilson told him. “And before you ask, yes, that is a direct quote.”

House just clucked his tongue and shook his head. “Unappreciated in my own time,” he said mournfully. “So, care to tell us why your body temperature was somewhere south of 68º?”

Angel suddenly looked very uncomfortable. “I- ah, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Alright. How about the anomalies in your blood work?” House asked, as if completely unconcerned with Angel’s evasion of the previous question.

“Blood work?” Angel repeated weakly.

“The results are interesting reading, that’s for sure. Something about multiple blood types, not to mention the part where the vast majority of the stuff in your veins isn’t human.”

Angel opened his mouth, but apparently thought the better of it and snapped it shut again.

“I thought as much,” House muttered.

“House, I’m not sure interrogating the patient like this is really going to get us anywhere,” Chase protested, sounding surprisingly confident in the face of such a bizarre situation. “I mean, your assuming he even knows what’s wrong-“

“Well, it’s not like he doesn’t have some idea,” House shot back. “He’s practically a walking, talking corpse full of pig’s blood.”

“House!” Cameron gasped, her look of horror mimicked to lesser degrees on her colleagues’ faces.

“What, like me being an insensitive prick is a surprise?” he asked sarcastically.

Cameron looked taken aback. “Well, no, but-“

House cut Chase off. “I know, I know, you’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, how thoughtless of me.” He turned to Angel. “Do you mind if I try something?”

Angel stared at him a minute before answering. “Go ahead.”

House limped over to the HLM, eyes on the wary patient the entire time. “You know what this is?” he asked, patting the machine in question.

“Some kind of life support, I assume,” Angel answered.

“Heart-Lung machine,” House confirmed. “Oxygenates your blood and pumps it through your system, since your pulmonary system seems to be sleeping on the job.”

Angel nodded in understanding. Seeing this, House moved his hand from the machine to its plug. Angel watched but made no move to protest. The two men exchanged a series of significant glances while they played what Wilson would always think of as the most terrifying game of ‘chicken’ he’d ever witnessed.

Apparently, the two men came to a conclusion. House pulled the plug.

“Are you insane?” Cameron exploded as she, Foreman, and Chase leapt across the room only to be stopped by House’s cane.

“Chill out. The guy said it was okay,” House said without even looking at his panicking staff. Wilson watched from across the room, hoping to hell his trust in House wasn’t misplaced and wondering if the Ducklings noticed just what it was House’s eyes were currently glued to.

“You’re killing him!” Chase cried as Angel began to gasp and convulse.

Foreman watched the unfolding scene in horror. “You’re fucking insane.”

Cameron tried again to push her way past House, unsuccessfully. Meanwhile Angel’s movements came to a crescendo before stopping entirely, leaving the constant tone indicating flatline from the electrocardiogram as the only sound in the small room.

“You killed him,” Cameron whispered, face white with shock.

House rolled his eyes. “I did not.”

“The man’s dead, House,” Chase disagreed, waving toward Angel’s body.

“He’s faking,” House proclaimed loudly.

“How’d you know?” Angel asked suspiciously, cracking an eye to glare at House.

“EEG,” House explained over the cries of surprise from his staff, waving his cane at the machine. “Never even blinked.”

Angel groaned.

“That machine also happens to be why you aren’t in the morgue right now,” House continued. “Pesky little piece of equipment, isn’t it?”

“I don’t understand,” Cameron said weakly.

“Neither do I, but I’m betting he does,” House said, nodding toward Angel. “Not that I think he’s going to tell us anything, seeing as he doesn’t trust us, but he knows.”

“Doesn’t trust you? You’ve got me chained to the bed!” Angel cried indignantly. “You unplugged my life support!”

“Yeah, and you said it was okay!” House reminded him.

Angel sighed and leaned back against his bed. “What are the chances of me getting out of here any time soon?”

House wasn’t the only one to raise an eyebrow at this question. “You’re hardly in any condition to be getting out of bed, let alone leaving the hospital!” Chase said. “You’re still severely hypothermic, not to mention the fact that for whatever reason you’re asystolic.”

“So I’ll leave against medical advice, or whatever,” Angel stated. “You can’t keep me here against my will.”

“It’s not that easy, I’m afraid,” House said smugly. “For one thing, we still don’t know what’s wrong with you, nor do we know if it can and how it might be transmitted to others. Nope, I’m afraid that you are a public health risk, and therefore I would be seriously remiss in my duties if I were to allow you to leave this hospital. And that’s not to mention the fact that I’m not convinced you wouldn’t attack us if we removed your restraints.”

“Attack you?” Angel cried. “Have I given you any indication that I’m dangerous?”

House’s face grew serious as he leveled his gaze on the man. “I’ve had an experience with a patient before who, superficially, at least, appeared to have many of the same symptoms as you. When he regained consciousness, he reacted violently and killed a man. Until you awoke and regaled us all with this stunning display of rationality, I had no way of knowing that you wouldn’t behave in the same manner.”

Angel couldn’t find fault in his logic. “And now that I’m awake?”

House smirked. “Now that you’re awake you’ve expressed a desire to leave and suggested that you’re willing to do so against medical advice. Since you’re a public health risk and all, you’ve left me no choice.”

Wilson bit back the urge to point out that House didn’t seem to have any intention of actually contacting the CDC. He’d bring it up later, when they weren’t right in front of the patient.

Angel sighed, apparently conceding momentary defeat. “I need to make a phone call,” he stated.

“House,” Foreman warned, but House just waved his hand.

“Don’t worry, I’ll let him make a call,” he assured his staff. “It’s not like he’s a prisoner or anything.” He waited a few moments, staring at his staff expectantly. They stared back, clueless. “Well? How about some privacy, people?”

Cameron was the only one who had the decency to blush, but everyone except for House filed out of the room.

“So why are you still here?” Angel asked.

House grinned. “Somebody’s got to hold the phone for you.”

“You’re a real nosy bastard, aren’t you?” Angel grumbled.

“So I’ve been told. So- who are we calling?”

/////\

House casually took a seat at Angel’s beside, who glared at House balefully. House just pulled out his cell-phone and waited. “It’s long distance,” Angel warned.

House snorted. “Dude, I’m a doctor. I think I can afford it.”

“Fine.” Angel rattled off a number.

“Cleveland, huh?” House asked as the soft sound of the line ringing drifted from the tiny speaker. “You want me to put it on speaker phone?”

“Just give me the damn phone,” Angel grumbled irritably. House rolled his eyes and held the phone so Angel could wedge it between ear and shoulder. There was a long silence while the line continued to ring.

Finally, Angel’s face lit up. “Dawn! Hi! When did you get back to Cleveland?” He sounded genuinely surprised, though his expression quickly turned to exasperation as the other person spoke. “Um, no, I didn’t mean- Never mind. I’m actually in kind of a hurry here. Can you please get Giles on the phone?”

“Giles? You want to talk to the butler?” House muttered. Angel shot him a quick glare before focusing on the phone again.

“Fine, then. Look, just get me whoever’s in charge of- What? Um, no offense, Dawn, but I really don’t think he’d- Dawn-“ Angel rolled his eyes as the girl apparently steam-rollered his attempts. He listened impatiently for a few moments before managing to find room to speak again. “I’m sure he did, but how long was he expecting Robin to be gone? ... Uh-huh. That’s what I thought. You realize Giles is going to kill you if you screw this up… Whatever. I just need someone to come out and- What? No, New Jersey.” Angel flicked a nervous glance at House. “I was looking into a, um, a situation. Everything’s under control, but I need some help with a- uh- different situation.”

Angel was starting to look very embarrassed and flustered. House grinned as the man mumbled something completely unintelligible into the phone. “There’s no way she understood that, pal,” House chided.

Apparently, Angel’s friend agreed. “I’m in a hospital, alright?” he repeated. “I’m fine, but I need-“ Angel was cut off by a burst of maniacal laughter that even House could hear. Looking at the ceiling, Angel waited for the laughter to die down. Once it did, the girl must have asked a question, because Angel looked more sheepish than ever. “I got hit by a car… Ah, they actually won’t let me leave. Apparently I’m a, um, public health risk. I’m sort of chained to the bed.”

House couldn’t help but smirk at the renewed peals of laughter.

“Yeah, well, I’m glad I could be so amusing,” Angel shot crossly into the phone. “If you could just get someone here to help me- Whoever’s closest, I guess.” Angel went pale at her reply; quite a feat, given how pale he was to begin with. “What? No! Dawn, don’t you dare- Dawn? Dawn, do you hear me? Do not send Andrew! Dawn?”

“Oh, will you look at that?” House said, taking back his phone. “I think she hung up on you.”

Angel groaned. “Laugh it up. If she sends Andrew, I won’t be the only one suffering.”

“That bad?” House asked skeptically.

“He speaks six languages. Five of them were created for Star Trek and Lord of the Rings.”

House winced. “Lord of the geeks, I take it?”

Angel sighed wearily. “You have no idea.”

House got to his feet and pretended to dust off his hands. “Well, as much fun as this has been, I have to go talk about you behind your back. You want me to turn that thing back on?”

Angel followed House’s pointing finger to the HLM. “Um, I’d sort of prefer if you didn’t. It’s kind of uncomfortable,” he admitted sheepishly.

House grinned and slipped off Angel’s pulse monitor. “Oh, this is going to be fun. Hey, do me a favor and refrain from falling asleep for a few hours?” he asked as he made his way toward the door. “I really don’t want to take a trip down to the morgue looking for you.”

/////\

“What can you tell me?” House asked as he entered the conference room. His question was met with three hate-filled glares and one look of amused curiosity, the latter courtesy of Wilson.

“I can tell you that I honestly don’t know who is insane anymore,” Foreman answered.

“This case is- is- is- incredible!” Cameron cried, equal parts frustration and fascination. “The fact that this man can survive, can be lucid and- and communicative with no discernible source of oxygen to his brain, it’s- it’s-“

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, incredible,” House supplied. “So, Foreman, you’re the neurologist. Shouldn’t you be a little more excited about this?”

“I would be if it were even remotely possible,” Foreman said. “Everything we know about the brain says that this is impossible. There is simply no conceivable way for a brain to function without constant blood flow for longer than a few minutes, and even then, there would be considerable irreparable damage. Nothing about this case makes any sense.”

“Even if it weren’t for his lack of any pulmonary activity, the blood in his system shouldn’t be capable of delivering oxygen to any part of his body,” Chase pointed out. “His body should be so busy rejecting that ridiculous concoction in his veins to do anything else. For him to be conscious, it’s simply-“

“The next person who says ‘impossible’ is fired,” House interrupted. “I want you all to wipe that word from your vocabulary. If it weren’t possible, then it wouldn’t happen, end of story. That’s actually the definition of the word, if you’d care to look it up. The bottom line is, impossible things don’t happen. Whether or not we knew they were possible is completely beside the point. Whether or not we can explain how and why they happen is also beside the point, but seeing as the explaining part is, in this particular case, what we’re getting paid to do, we’d damn well better try. Any questions?” Nobody spoke up. “Good. Now, considering the complete and utter lack of any precedence in a case like this, we’re going to have to wing it as far as how we proceed. Since we don’t have a clue what we’re looking for, we’re just going to have to look at everything and see what looks funny.

“Chase, Foreman, I want you to two go over every blood and tissue sample you can get from the guy with a fine-tooth comb. Test for anything and everything you can think of, no matter how ridiculous. Test for sea monkeys for all I care, but just find out what makes him different from normal, healthy human beings.”

“What about cat scans, MRI, that sort of thing?” Chase asked.

House just waved a hand. “We’ll worry about that sort of thing later. As far as the emergency room docs were concerned, he doesn’t seem to have any broken bones or internal bleeding. As long as he doesn’t seem to be in any immediate danger, I’d just as soon keep him in that bed.”

“What about me?” Cameron asked before Chase or Foreman could enquire further about their assignments. “What do you want me to do?”

“You are going to be doing some research,” House informed her.

She nodded. “You want me to get his medical history?”

“Nope,” he stated, surprising her. “Guy doesn’t trust us. We’re not getting anything out of him until the cavalry arrives. Right now he’s waiting on some buddies from work or something to come back him up, give him a hand with this whole deal, and until they do, I can pretty much guarantee he won’t give us anything useful.”

“So what am I researching?” she asked, confused.

House sighed and spun his cane a few times while his staff waited patiently for an explanation. “There’s a word, as I’m sure you’re all aware, that we’ve been avoiding ever since this patient came in. Several words, probably, but one in particular that no one has said because, to break my own rule, it’s impossible. I’m not saying, of course, that this word would accurately describe what’s wrong with him, but at this point we can’t afford to exclude any possibilities.”

“Are you saying you think that man’s a zombie?” Chase asked incredulously.

“For crying out loud,” House snorted. “Have you never seen a horror movie? Zombies rot. They drool. They do not hold intelligent conversations or lie to their doctors. And for the record, I’m not saying our patient is anything. I’m merely suggesting that we look at all the possibilities.”

“You want me to research vampires,” Cameron said flatly.

“For a start. I want you to research any less than conventional explanation for his condition. Vampires seem like the logical place to begin, but anywhere you go from there is fine with me. Supernatural, mythology, scientology, whatever.”

“What exactly do you expect me to find?” she asked.

House shrugged. “I’m not expecting anything. Chances are there’s a perfectly logical explanation for all of this. At the moment, however, I think we’re all pretty much at a loss for what that might be. The only way we’re going to solve this is by keeping an open mind, and if doing that means Cameron wading through the internet’s vast recesses of vampire-obsessed freaks and gothic pornography, then so be it.”

“Yet another noble sacrifice in the pursuit of truth from the great Gregory House,” Wilson said, shaking his head.

“For your information, I’m sacrificing plenty,” House said seriously. “Unless, of course, you want to be the one to talk to Cuddy about all of this.”

“Hey, don’t let me stand in the way of your heroism,” Wilson said, holding up his hands in mock capitulation.

“Chicken,” House muttered before turning a glare on his staff. “Well don’t just sit around gawking. Get up! Go! Learn something, for christ’s sake!”

His staff shared a few significant glances as they filed out of the room, but nobody made any protests.

“You’re really enjoying this, aren’t you?” Wilson asked, shaking his head.

House let a slow grin steal over his face. “Oh, yeah.”

“Well?”

House looked up to see Cuddy standing in the doorway to his office, arms crossed. “Well, what?”

“I heard your patient is awake,” she answered.

“I heard you have breast implants,” he shot back. “Anything else?”

“Oh, I don’t know, an update on his condition might be nice,” she told him patiently.

“His condition is perplexing,” he stated. “Also a little annoying, but that’s beside the point.”

She glared dangerously. “House…”

House threw his hands up in the air and feigned a defeated sigh. “Fine, you got me. The patient, whose name is Angel, is both alert and lucid, despite his hypothermia and lack of myocardic contractions. He’s very secretive and entirely too stubborn, as well as being a bit of a whiner, Chase has never seen a monster movie, and I’ve got Cameron researching things that go bump in the night, assuming she hasn’t gotten sidetracked by pictures of naked lesbian witchy voodoo rituals.”

Cuddy blinked. “Fine,” she snapped, turning to leave, “but you’re going to have to tell me what’s going on eventually.”

/////\

“What news do you bring? I want progress, people,” House announced loudly as his staff entered his office, Chase still looking over his files bewilderedly and Cameron looking decidedly disgruntled, Foreman resigned and a little grumpy.

“Define progress,” Foreman said bitterly.

With a sigh, House leaned back in his chair and set his feet on his desk. “Do we know more than we did before?”

“Considerably,” Chase told him, looking up briefly. “Unfortunately, none of it leads us toward any sort of cohesive theory.”

House nodded and pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Cameron, how about you?”

Shaking her head, she pushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “There’s just too much information,” she admitted as she shuffled through her papers. “The sheer volume of material out there is pretty daunting, and most of it’s completely worthless. I managed to find a few sites that examined mythology and the occult from more scientific and logical standpoints, but so far none of them have proven very helpful. There are a few leads I’m planning on following up on, but…” she trailed off and shrugged. “Quite frankly, I doubt I’ll be able to find anything useful, at least not without a lot more time.”

“Time that we have no idea whether or not we have,” Foreman pointed out.

House just shrugged. “He’s not rotting yet.”

“Yeah, but his heart still isn’t beating,” Chase reminded him.

“If that were a recent development, I might be worried. As is, I’m not planning on using it as a yardstick for his condition,” House replied easily.

Foreman sighed. “What exactly are you planning on using? Seriously, how are we going to know if his condition is deteriorating in any way?”

“Same way we always do,” he replied. “Watch for changes. The only difference this time is we don’t have a baseline for comparison. That doesn’t change the fact that as far as we’re concerned, more dead is probably bad, less dead is likely a sign of improvement. Case in point: he woke up. That’s a good thing.”

“And if he does show signs of worsening?” Cameron asked. “What then? Do we have even the slightest idea of how to actually treat this man?”

House let out a long, slow breath as he considered her question. “We’ll do the only thing we can do. We’ll treat his symptoms as if he were a regular patient. If it helps, it helps.”

“And… if it doesn’t?” Foreman asked.

“We do our best to not kill him.” House paused and considered his statement. “Or at least, we try not to make him any more dead than he already is. Beyond that? Not a whole lot we can do, not until we know more about his condition. Speaking of which, what do we know? I assume you guys learned something, even if it’s not immediately useful.”

“The tests we’ve run so far have been… interesting,” Chase hedged as he and Foreman exchanged wary glances.

“I’m guessing that by ‘interesting’ you actually mean ‘bizarre and kind of freaky’?” House suggested. Nobody argued.

“So far, we’ve mostly just gone over the blood and tissue samples we already had,” Chase explained. “As we didn’t have much of a starting point, we looked at… well, pretty much everything. Not all of the results are back yet, but what we have is…”

“Severely messed up,” Foreman finished. “A few of the tests came back completely normal, but for the most part? This guy’s just weird.”

“We know that,” House reminded them. “Weird how?”

“Weird dead, mostly,” Foreman answered. “None of his tissue shows any signs of cellular respiration. There are no traces of waste products, no ATP, no oxidized particles, nothing. The cells are where they’re supposed to be, but they aren’t active in any way.”

“Which leads us to the question of how his body is able to heal itself,” Chase said. “Its obvious that he is able to overcome injuries, seeing as many of the visible contusions that were present at the time of his admittance to the hospital are now partially healed. In fact, as far as we can tell, he’s healing at an incredibly accelerated rate. Already most of his wounds look days old. This suggests that despite the lack of cell respiration, his tissue is able to regenerate somehow. His body is also extremely resilient to injury; other than his prolonged period of unconsciousness, he appeared to suffer very little for such a serious accident. He had no bone fractures of any kind; in fact, his worse injury aside from the head trauma was a dislocated shoulder. If it weren’t for the other anomalies in his physiology, I’d write it off as sheer luck, but as it stands, I’m inclined to believe his lack of broken bones is due to some other quality. I’d like to test his bone density at some point, but I haven’t gotten around to it just yet.”

Foreman picked up the thread of conversation again. “We also ran blood gas and a full tox screen. I’m not sure what the results mean, as none of the blood inside this guy actually seems to belong to him, but we’ve got ‘em if we need them. The tox screen came up with a few random steroids that are mostly used on pigs and cattle, not surprising since the majority of his blood appears to have come from livestock. The blood gas doesn’t make any sense; some levels are extremely low, while others are through the roof. His potassium in particular is well beyond lethal, and as far as I can tell, most of it’s coming from the trace amounts of the unidentified substance in his blood.”

“Any luck on figuring out what that stuff is?” House asked.

Foreman just shook his head and shrugged, at a complete loss. “I managed to isolate a few of the anomalous cells under a microscope; whatever it is, it isn’t human. It has some of the same characteristics as red blood cells, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you where it came from. Whatever it is, it should be poisonous- it’s got extremely high levels of potassium and lead. It also contains a lot of iron oxide and lead pigments, which are generally used to color paint and dyes.”

“Not particularly useful in oxygenating the body, but at least he bleeds pretty,” House commented. “So, anything else before I send you folks back to the salt mines? Questions, comments, final words?”

“You’re just going to accept everything we just told you?” Chase asked, surprised. “All of it, no questions asked?”

“I don’t see why not,” House said with a shrug. “The guy’s got no pulse. I’d be more surprised if everything came back normal.”

As there was no arguing with that simple logic, his staff shared a few significant glances and returned, if somewhat grudgingly, to their work.

“Nice place you got set up here.”

Angel looked up and scowled. “Xander.”

“Good to see you too, old buddy,” the one-eyed Scooby greeted cheerily. “So, get hit by any good cars lately?”

“I thought you were in Africa,” Angel said, glaring.

Xander just shrugged. “Off and on. What about you? I heard you were busy with some apocalypse in LA- causing it or stopping it or something, nobody was terribly clear about that part.”

“It went down about four months ago,” he said with a slightly shadowed look in his eyes.

“Loose anybody?” Xander asked quietly, showing the serious side Angel rarely saw and usually forgot he possessed.

“Wes.”

“Sucks.”

“Yup.” The two stared at the wall for a few minutes. “Well,” Angel sighed, “I guess you’re at least better than Andrew.”

Xander grinned. “He’s parking the car.”

//////\

House was in his office looking over some of the test results Foreman had sent up to him when he felt someone staring at him. He hadn’t heard anyone approach, which was unusual, as few people in the hospital cared to even try to walk quietly. Looking up, he found a young brunette woman lounging in his doorway, eyes assessing him with an almost disturbing intensity.

“Nice to see Cuddy finally took me seriously when I said I wanted a hooker for my birthday,” he greeted.

She grinned widely and sauntered over to his desk. “Only if you’ve been a very, very bad boy,” she purred.

Smirking, he nodded his approval. He liked this girl. “So how can I help you?”

Turning the sexuality down a notch, which House assumed was the closest she got to “getting down to business”, she hopped up and sat on the corner of his desk. “I’m looking for somebody.”

“Somebody in particular, or would any rugged, good-looking doctor with a cane do?”

Her chuckle was deep and throaty, matching well with her smoky eyes and full lips. “A patient. A very specific one, as a matter of fact.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You know, there’s this great nurse’s station where they try to keep track of all the patients. Also, unlike me, they’ll actually pretend to give a rat’s ass about visitors. It’s probably in your best interest to go bother them.”

“I came in the back way,” she said breezily. “So, where can I find my boy Angel?”

“Ah! So you’d be a ‘friend’ of our favorite quasi-corpse, then,” he said, giving her a significant head-to-toe look on the emphasized word.

“Give the boy a prize,” she said with a smirk, obviously enjoying House’s game.

“I don’t suppose the ‘prize’ is you telling me why your friend seems to think it’s okay to just waltz in here and make a complete mockery of medical science,” he probed.

“If I say no, do we get to the part where you start spanking me with that cane of yours?” she countered, leaning in with a sultry look.

“Ah, er…” Wilson stuttered from the doorway, announcing both his presence and his discomfort.

The brunette turned and gave him a good, long look up and down, making the oncologist squirm in his lab coat. Apparently, something about his expression amused her, making her chuckle to herself as she glanced back at House.

“Something you want to share with the class?” House enquired.

“Just thinking maybe somebody wants to play doctor,” she said with an evil smirk as she pushed herself off the desk and pulled a vibrating cell phone out of her pocket.

“Excuse me?” Wilson gaped as she flipped the phone open, earning himself a wink and a wave.

“Faith,” she announced into the phone. “Yeah, I was just… looking for his room,” she said with a significant pause. “You find him?” After a brief wait for a reply, she snapped the phone shut and paused in the doorway. “I’m off. Don’t wait up on my account,” she told the doctors suggestively.

“Down the hall a ways and on your right,” House told her.

“Thanks a bunch, doc,” she said with a wink as she disappeared.

Wilson stared after her. “Did she just-“

“Insinuate that you want to have sex with me and then leave us to our own naughty devices?” House supplied. “That she did.”

“Just checking,” Wilson said weakly.

“I think it’s about time we go check on our patient, don’t you think?” House asked as he got to his feet.

“Um, yeah, sure. Why not,” Wilson replied dazedly as he waited to follow House.

//////\

“Faith? What are you doing here?” Angel asked as the brunette in question waltzed into his room.

“Yo, Fang,” she greeted with a smirk. “What’s this, no hug?”

“Umm, a little tied up, here,” Angel said, pulling at his wrist restraint to illustrate his point.

The smirk grew. “Kinky. I like,” she purred as she slunk on to his bed and threw a leg over his waist.

“I’m afraid we ask that you do not climb on the patients,” Dr. House announced as he strode into the room, a still slightly gob-smacked Wilson in tow.

“Ah! Dr. Mengele, I presume,” Xander greeted from his chair, feet perched against the railing of Angel’s bed. He offered a hand, but didn’t get up.

House tisked and gave Angel a chastising look. “Somebody’s been telling stories,” he said, shaking a finger for added emphasis.

“Dr. House, these are my associates, Xander Harris and Faith,” Angel introduced. “Guys, this is the insane doctor I was telling you about.”

“I’m flattered,” House said, rolling his eyes and shaking Xander’s offered hand. “So, seriously, this is your cavalry? The poster girl for sexual liberation and a pirate?”

“Hey, I’m a carpenter pirate, thank you very much,” Xander corrected. “And there’s also the uber-nerd, but he’s-“

“Greetings and salutations, oh fallen warrior of the light!” a young blonde man crowed as he entered the room.

“-Right there,” Xander finished. “Andrew, Dr. House and some other guy who hasn’t been introduced. Dr. House, Other Guy: uber-nerd.”

“Dr. Wilson,” Wilson supplied, reaching out to shake Andrew’s hand.

“Is this guy for real?” House asked incredulously, gesturing toward Andrew.

“Hey, standing right here!” Andrew reminded him indignantly.

House rolled his eyes. “I can see that. I was being dismissive.”

“So, the Great Concusso here tells me that you guys are having a little trouble diagnosing him, but you won’t let him leave?” Xander cut in before Andrew could reply or, worse yet, whine.

“Sounds about right,” House replied. “Until we know what’s wrong with him and how it’s transmitted, we can’t afford to let him back among the general population.”

Xander blinked a few times. “And that’s bullshit doctor-speak for what now?”

“I’m curious about him and I have a perfectly legal excuse to keep him here,” House explained.

“You realize our lawyers are going to kill you, right?” Wilson groaned.

House just rolled his eyes. “If they were going to sue me, it would be about me unplugging his life support. They’d have a way better case for it.”

“Anyway, you’re saying you’re going to keep him here until you know what’s wrong with him,” Faith elaborated.

“You guys aren’t in any way military, are you?” Xander asked suspiciously.

“Nope,” House responded simply. “So, are you guys going to tell me what’s going on with your pulse-less friend over here?”

“I’m afraid it’s not that easy,” Andrew told him solemnly. “You must understand that secrecy is of the utmost importance to our people.”

“These ‘people’ being, what, some super-secret sect of socially incompetent D&D freaks?” House snarked.

“Hey!” Andrew pouted with all the expertise of someone a third his age. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re really mean?”

“You know, I may have heard someone mention that, yes,” Wilson said to House.

“Oh, I’m sorry, did I hurt the widdle poindexter's feelings?” House said sarcastically.

Andrew stamped his foot huffily. “Jerk! Honey works better than vinegar, pal!”

“You're assuming I would actually want to catch flies,” House pointed out.

“I’ll have you know that mine is among the oldest and most dignified professions-“

“Right up there with turning tricks, I’m sure,” House interrupted. “Although I have to tell you, you’re probably better off sticking with your day job.”

“Xander!” Andrew wailed. “Seriously, he’s being a total smeghead! Make him stop!”

Doing his best to hide the twitching at the corners of his lips, Xander pulled out his wallet instead. “How about this- I saw a great little comic shop about two blocks over. Here’s twenty bucks.”

Andrew glared at the bill in Xander’s hand. “You said you wouldn’t try to get rid of me! You promised.”

“I’m not,” he protested. “This is, um… a reward! You know, for standing up for the council and… stuff.”

Andrew looked at him suspiciously, not quite buying it.

“I heard the latest Uncanny X-Men is out,” Xander sing-songed.

“Fine,” Andrew snapped, grabbing the twenty and whirling to face House. “But don’t you go thinking this is over, mister,” he spat before stomping out.

House just stared after him. “Seriously, is he for real?”

/////\

“So, here’s the thing,” Xander announced, breaking the silence.

“There’s a thing?” House asked when Xander paused to ensure he had everyone’s attention.

“There’s always a thing, baby,” Faith responded. House smirked while Wilson tried not to look uncomfortable.

Sighing, Xander continued, “We need to know what you guys have figured out so far.”

“So far?” House said as he referred to the file at the foot of Angel’s bed. “So far we know that Angel here doesn’t remember if he had any childhood illnesses, doesn’t remember if he has any family history of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or mental illness, and- get this- doesn’t remember if he’s ever received any vaccinations.”

“He made me fill out some kind of patient history form,” Angel explained to Faith and Xander apologetically.

“Fat lot of good it did us,” House muttered. “There’s not one useful answer on here.”

Angel looked hurt. “I told you that I’m not on any medications-“

“But it looks like that chances of you actually remembering if you were are slim to none, so pardon me if I remain skeptical,” House interrupted.

“Great. So now that you’ve told us what Angel told you, how about you tell us what you’ve managed to learn on your own?” Xander prompted.

“You know, I’ve never been very good at the whole ‘medical ethics’ thing, but I’m pretty sure there’s some kind of confidentiality clause in there somewhere,” House said thoughtfully as Wilson rolled his eyes.

Xander grabbed the knapsack at his feet and pulled out a stack of papers. “Read ‘em and weep.”

House quickly skimmed through the first few pages and raised his eyebrows at Xander. “Is it okay if I chuckle instead?”

“Go ahead, I did,” Xander said with a grin.

“What? What’s going on?” Angel asked. “Those look like legal documents.”

“Pretty impressive ones, too,” Wilson observed as he read over House’s shoulder.

“According to this, these guys can ask me pretty much anything they want,” House told him. “They also have Power of Attorney, all the rights of next of kin, and, assuming I’m reading this correctly, the right to lock you in a small, reinforced cell if someone named ‘Rupert Giles’ deems it necessary. Man, these guys own your ass.”

“They what? ” Angel shouted, not nearly as amused as everyone else in the room.

“Yeah, sorry about that. The locking you in a cell part isn’t supposed to be included in this copy,” Xander explained gleefully. “Dawn must have accidentally slipped it in before she printed it out for me.”

“Let me see those,” Angel demanded.

“I would, but gee, I’m not sure I’m legally allowed to do that without their permission. I wouldn't want to break the law or anything,” House said smugly, holding the papers out of Angel’s line of sight.

“We’ll show you later,” Xander assured him. “Don’t worry about it. They’re just something Willow drew up in case… well, in case something li

#2 Posted by Final Arrow (24359 posts) - - Show Bio

LMAO