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and all our little agonies

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"You're looking much better today, House," Eudora said.

House swore he could feel the healthful, numbing influence of the vicodin rushing through his veins. "I guess I am. No thanks to you, anyway."

That morning had been nothing short of bliss. Lying in his bed was a sweet heaven he never wanted to leave. But, as the pain dimmed, his appetite returned. He came to work in search of lunch and company. House sat in his familiar chair in Eudora's room, arms loaded with a huge sub sandwich, three Snickers bars, two bags of Fritos, and a giant soda. The familiar weight of a vicodin bottle in his pocket was nothing short of a miracle.

"No chemo today, so you had better plan on sharing some of that enormous repast with me," Eudora said.

"Don't worry, it's a moveable feast." And wasn't that about the corniest thing House had said in forever.

"Ah, the literary joke. A fragile thing, at best. But wonderful to those who understand it."

"Hemingway should have been more careful with his titles if he wanted to remain joke-free." House tossed a snickers bar on the bed, then opened one for himself.

Eudora grimaced as he took a huge bite. "I suppose I couldn't ask for manners after your pain-induced starvation. So, enjoy."

"Thanks," House replied, speaking around a mouthful of chocolate and peanut. Her casual reference to his personal hell made it seem even more distant while it dragged his memories hiding on the horizon back to his immediate shore. "I've had a most productive day."

Eudora, eating her candy bar in a much more delicate manner, had still managed to get a smear of melted chocolate on her face. "Busy with a new puzzle?"

"You could say that. Fate, or what have you, has smiled on me today. Miracles and wonders abound."

Opportunities presented themselves in record numbers that day, and House couldn't decide if this was some twisted form of fate or if he simply had been too pain-addled to notice them. House outlined his day of unmatched activity to Eudora.

First, he realized that both Cuddy and Wilson had decided to avoid him, rather than deal with their current issues. House, ever willing to be the light of reason in a troubled world, snuck into Wilson's office, looking for ammunition for their upcoming fight of epic proportions. Logging on to his computer, House intended to favorite as many fetish porn websites as he could, alerting the hospital's watchdog network. However, a quick perusal of Wilson's history files revealed his purchase of tickets to see Puccini's Tosca.

Even though House was certain Cuddy would enjoy a night of cultured entertainment, he decided to do yet another favor for his ungrateful friend. House canceled the Tosca order, buying tickets for an altogether more exciting event.

"What are those two getting in to?" Eudora asked.

"Well, I was going to send them to a monster truck rally, but something better came along."

"Better than knowing Cuddy would be covered in mud, surrounded by New Jersey's finest hillbillies?"

"Front row seats to the Ultimate Fighting tour."

Eudora's eyes lit up. "That is good. But what if they just decide not to go?"

"No refunds on fight night. And those tickets cost too much for Wilson to stay home, no matter what."

"Either way, a win-win situation." Eudora balled up her candy wrapper and tossed it at the waste basket. She missed by about a foot. "Oh well. Is there more?"

"Candy or stories?"


House handed over the last Snickers. Buoyed by his good fortune with Wilson, he had gone in search of his team. At the end of the hall, House saw Chase furtively exiting the staff locker room, shoving a large wad of plastic wrapping into a trash can before he walked away.

Not one to ignore his capricious nature, House went into the locker room to investigate. Almost immediately, he spotted a few stray red rose petals on the floor in front of a locker marked: Alison Cameron. It was easy to jimmy the lock, but a torrential amount of long-stemmed roses cascaded on House the second he pried the metal door open.

House held out his palms to Eudora; they were covered in light scratches. "That idiot didn't even think about the thorns. So, to reward his stupidity, I put all the roses in Nurse Barbie's locker."

"But how will she know who they're from?"

"I wrote another card and left it inside. It's very...explicit."

"Harlequin romance explicit or Ron Jeremy explicit?"

"He would have approved."

Even House felt satisfied with the brewing mayhem he'd planned as he left the staff locker room. But, just as he was about to leave for the cafeteria, Nurse Barbie emerged out of a patient's room, head bent low over a clipboard. House couldn't resist a chance to intercept. He walked past her, sticking out his cane at a subtle enough angle to trip the nurse up without looking like he'd done it on purpose.

It was better than he'd expected: she tripped and the clipboard flung forward, smacking her soundly on the forehead.

"Oh, are you okay?" House asked, slumping his shoulders in an attempt to look frail.

Nurse Barbie rubbed her forehead, seemingly unaware of his deliberation. "I'm okay. Just a little bump on the head. But, wait, maybe you can help me?"

House resisted the urge to mention only idiots needed to phrase everything as if it were a question needing conformation. "Sure. What's up?"

"Well, Doctor Foreman wants me to do a treatment on his sarcoidosis patient, but got paged about Jane Doe while he was writing down his instructions, so it looks all scribbly and messy. Can you read it for me?"

Nurse Barbie held the clipboard out to House with a plaintive expression on her face she probably used on every man in the hospital. Even though he was sure "scribbly" was not a word, for the third time that day, he couldn't resist the golden opportunity resting at his feet.

"Sure I can. You know, Foreman does have a kindergartener's handwriting." House gave the nurse his cheesiest smile, reserved for schmoozing donors when he absolutely had to.

Nurse Barbie giggled. "I know, right? Where do you suppose he learned to write like that?"

"I don't know... kindergarten?" House perused the clipboard, able to read Foreman's hurried penmanship, as it was still better than his own on the best of days. As treatment for his patient's sarcoidosis, Foreman had prescribed an alternating day regimen of prednisone. A simple enough answer, if the patient's symptoms weren't so severe. Foreman was using corticosteroids as a stalling point until he could get up the nerve to try another, more risky treatment. House was more than willing to ramp up the treatment for him.

"It says here that he wants the patient on a round of methotrexate as soon as possible."

"I'm on it," Nurse Barbie said, smiling her sunniest smile.

House smiled back until she left, feeling nauseated and victorious all at once. It was a combination he hadn't experienced since college. He walked off his sick feeling and, when he reached the cafeteria, he was flush with satisfaction.

"And that's the end," House said, eating the last of his chips. The remains of his sandwich lay on the little table between the chair and the bed.

"What an inspiring story. Makes me wish I could get out of bed to see the fallout of your diabolical schemes." Eudora fiddled with her IV.

House let silence fall between them, musing over what he could say to make her feel better. Eudora had improved, but recovery from any type of brain cancer was risky business, at best. He felt compelled to lie, but couldn't quite bring himself to do it.

"Look who's out there—is that the creepy girl you've been telling me about?" Eudora pointed at her glass door.

There was Nurse Barbie rolling Creepy Girl in a wheelchair down the hall—to one of Foreman's tests, House presumed. It shocked him to realize he hadn't worked on a diagnosis in so long, but he didn't feel guilty about it. Sitting in that chair, full of vicodin and junk food, was excellent.

"That's her."

"I'm guessing her arms and legs are strapped down because she bit her caseworker."

Visions of yesterday's gore flitted through House's mind in red-tinged snapshots, but it felt like a distant nightmare, a horror movie he'd seen ages ago and promptly forgotten until now. "She's probably strapped down and under constant supervision after everything."

But the girl wasn't moving in the wheelchair, wasn't fighting against the restraints that bound her. Nurse Barbie was chatting at her patient, the lilt of her voice reaching their ears in the quiet room, as she slowly pushed her down the hall. As the duo passed the door, Creepy Girl pulled herself out of her strange catatonia once more.

Her head swiveled, but House was hidden from her view. Creepy Girl focused on Eudora, head cocked, lips deepening into an almost comical frown. House pushed himself further back into his chair, but Eudora placed a firm hand on his shoulder.

"Could you please go shut the blinds? We don't need to let her gawking ruin our lunch." Her reasonable tone compelled House out of his seat against his better instincts. Even though he passed into Creepy Girl's sightline, she didn't take her eyes off Eudora.

The vertical blinds stretched across the door and, with a sharp turn of his wrist, they slid shut. A howl wrenched itself from Creepy Girl's throat, raw and inhuman sounding. House, pushing one blind aside, saw Creepy Girl convulsing against her restraints, howling and grunting over Nurse Barbie's pleas.

"I need a doctor here, now," she shouted, trying to keep her limbs away from Creepy Girl's jaw, which began snapping open and closed with swift flashes of her white teeth.

House let the single blind slip from his fingers, then returned to his seat by Eudora. Her face was grim, but not scared. They both felt the weight of House's avoidance between them, but it didn't shove them apart. They were complicit in this act, as if Eudora had broken an oath also.

They waited together in silence, listening to the sounds of footsteps running to aid Nurse Barbie.