A/N: This chapter directly follows the previous
"What do you mean you found nothing?" House demands, standing over the table where his team sits, with Rose seated under him and the marker board.
The ducklings stare at the files on the table, full of medical tests that all say the same thing: there's absolutely nothing wrong with Rose. And, because all House wanted to do was play a game, she wasn't getting worse. In fact, she'd already started on her first round of antiparasitics. She sits at the table, drinking coffee without giving anything away.
"Why the hell is she here anyway?" Demands Foreman, exasperated. "Patients belong in patient rooms, not in their own differential. We've never made exceptions for other doctors before."
House smirks. "Oh great dark one, making exceptions because she's a doctor is exactly what you've all been doing."
Rose nearly gags at the quip, but the other three, apparently used to House's prodding, just look at each other quizzically.
"Just because she's not in a patient room doesn't mean she isn't a patient. Everybody lies. Haven't I taught you that already?"
Foreman peers at Rose incredulously. "You're a doctor! Don't you know what's medically relevant?"
She sighs, glancing to House who nods. "I do, yes. Dr. House diagnosed me with African Trypanosomiasis in the clinic this morning, decided to use me to waste time, and instructed me to only answer questions that you guys asked- and no one mentioned travel."
House smirks approvingly, his team staring back open mouthed.
"Need I remind you," House adds, "that trypanosomiasis left untreated for much longer would have lead to irreversible damage? Don't take anything for granted. Now go find a real case, will you?"
The three younger doctors stalk off towards the ER and clinic, and Rose glances around, not knowing if she should leave or not and deciding to try and look occupied as House moves to erase the symptoms on the board behind her.
Halfway through, Rose sees him freeze out of the corner of her eye, hand still on the eraser. She can see his brow furrow and his eyes crinkle in pain, the cane in his right hand trembling dangerously.
Confused, Rose smoothly rises from the chair she was in, casually nudging it towards House's shaking figure, and crosses the room to refill her coffee cup, her back to the table. She hears the trademark clattering of a pill bottle, and busies herself fussing with the sugar container for a few moments more.
She returns to the table, sitting across from House, and there's a nearly imperceptible flash of gratitude in his eyes before they return to a cerulean indifference.
Both doctors drink in silence for a few moments more, perusing some files that had been left on the table from days before- cases House hadn't taken and didn't throw away- neither knowing how Rose is to make a graceful exit.
She scans through the symptoms curiously, patient privacy clearly not occurring to either physician.
Extremely febrile 102+ x3 days. Dermatitis, unspecified. Nausea and abd pain.
Afebrile after 4 days. Pitting edema. Rectal bleeding requiring whole blood transfusions x2
Patient reports no previous medical or surgical history. Minor instances of flu after business travel.
Rose quints, flipping through the file pages faster than before. Low white blood count is the only significant lab value, but given the obvious presence of infection, that's not a surprise.
"Did you take a look at this case at all?" she questions, looking up.
House puts his file down slowly, a mischievous look in his eye. "Why?" he asks, not indulging her.
"Is this patient here?" she asks, her voice taking a tone of urgency.
He takes the file from her, skimming the symptoms before flipping to the face sheet and pointing to a room number.
"Come on," she urges, rising and taking the file with her. He follows behind, curious.
Thankfully, only a nurse is in the patient room when Rose and House barge in, the man in the bed squirming with discomfort and half asleep with no other visitors.
"What's his latest blood pressure?" Rose inquires of her. The nurse scowls at House, who nods, prompting her answer.
Rose grabs a BP cuff off the supply cart in the ICU room, wrapping it around the man's arm and inflating it to 115, then dropping the bulb and staring at the man's forearm.
"What the hell are we doing?" The nurse hisses at Rose, mirroring House's own unspoken question.
Rose holds up a hand in response, and, after a few moments, points to the man's arm. It's covered in small red dots, having appeared before their eyes.
"See?" she says, slight arrogance pervading her tone. "Its hemorrhagic dengue fever. You're going to see organ involvement in the next few days, but he'll eventually recover if you draw hourly lyte panels and don't over correct.
The nurse says nothing, extending her arm to escort the doctors from the patient room- House's antics no stranger to her.
When Rose and House return to the office, he sits back down slowly, raising his eyebrows at her and cocking his head.
"It's a tourniquet test. There's no sure way to diagnose it, sometimes even with cultures and surely not in the jungle. I spent some time in Pakistan in the early 2000s and saw a lot of village medical centers do it. His previous instances of flu were probably minor cases of dengue, which increased the severity of this strain. The attending would have seen it if his platelets had tanked, but he was already on whole blood."
House shakes his head, smiling to himself.
"So what's with all this travel?" he asks, looking back to Rose. "Don't tell me you're one of those doctors without borders saps and can't be bothered to recognize the signs of African Sleeping sickness."
Rose laughs, shaking her head. "No, no, thankfully not. Uh, actually, I've been an FBI agent for the last fifteen years. I went to Harvard med, did my transplant surgery residency at the VA and… well as of two months ago I'm unemployed."
"How does one go through the work of a medical degree, only to end up a cop for fifteen years?"
His words are more judgemental than intended and Rose grunts, unfortunately agreeing with him.
"One follows in the footsteps of her father," she answers curtly.
He grimaces, saying nothing else, and Rose quickly tries to justify her answer.
"It wasn't all bad," she starts, sighing and looking up at nothing, "I ran lots of classified missions when I was younger… had a lot of fun. But more recently I'd been stateside, consulting around the country. It was… a lot like this actually… I came in when other departments couldn't solve the case." She gestures to the files and the white board, smiling a bit. "And then I took a travel case to Africa and got a bit… stuck. When I finally made it home, I quit."
She trails off, knowing her story sounds absurd and looking to House who awkwardly clears his throat.
"So a brown haired, brown eyed oncologist, huh?"
She smirks, nodding.
"We could use another one of those around here, I think," he starts, "or rather, it'd be nice to have one full time. Having to walk around the corner for consults is really getting old." He taps his cane emphatically, flaring his nostrils as he tries not to grin.
Rose looks at him, dumbfounded, but he holds her gaze evenly, as though he suggested they get coffee instead of offered her a job she was utterly unqualified for. She opens her mouth to speak, but just before she can, House shouts out the door at a passing woman with jet black hair.
"Oh, Cuddy!" he calls, and the woman freezes, slowly turning on her heel and strutting into the room.
"Do I have budget room for another fellow?"
The woman sighs visibly, but seems surprised when she lays eyes on Rose, noting that she is not some just out of medical school bimbo, as she'd assumed she might be.
"Dr. Lisa Cuddy, Dean of Medicine," the woman offers, sitting down at the head of the conference table.
"Rosemary St. John. Pleased to meet you.
The woman looks between the two, frowning. "House, I can't give her a fellowship. Its not like she's just topped out of residency."
He shrugs, not dropping the woman's gaze. "Fine, a partnership then."
Cuddy laughs aloud, looking at him with amusement. "I don't know anyone who'd be foolish enough to accept a partnership with you."
"Dr. Cuddy, there's no reason for all this," Rose starts, rising from the table. "I apologize, I'll just be-"
House stands before Rose can finish, striding to his private office and fixing Cuddy with a look until she follows. Rose widens her eyes at the other woman, trying to indicate that she's not in on whatever shenanigans House is working on.
Rose watches through the glass as House gestures widely at Cuddy, who merely stands with her arms crossed and an indignant look on her face.
After a few minutes, Cuddy gestures for her to join them, and House leaves the room without another word.
"I can't give you a fellowship after holding a medical degree for fifteen years, regardless of how unimpressive your CV is. The board won't allow it and neither will the budget, in theory."
Rose nods, remaining neutral until Cuddy finishes explaining.
"However, all departments are allowed multiple administrative positions, regardless of size. So, in theory, you and House could be co-heads. You'd be House's partner. It pays more, you'd have authority, all that nonsense, but what you have to realize is-"
She sighs hard, fixing Rose with as serious a look as she can muster. "The advantage of working for House is the learning and carrying his name on your resume. It's his signature on a letter of recommendation. All you have to do is keep your head down and try not to piss him off too bad and absorb as much of what he says as humanly possible. He solves the impossible cases. He's a better doctor than I'll ever hope to be. That being said…
"Working with House is an entirely different arena. You haven't seen him with an actual case yet. You haven't seen how he... gets. Working with him means you have to question him, You have to go up against him and deal with him and keep up with him. And trust me, House is not easy to work with for the most experienced of physicians."
Rose blinks a few times, carefully measuring her words. "Truly, I don't know what I'm getting myself into and I see your warning very clearly Dr. Cuddy. I could go on all day about having experience with difficult people and solving puzzles and it wouldn't matter. But…" she trails off, admitting her next words to herself as she says them. "I also don't have anything to lose. It's not about the money and we both know I wouldn't get an offer at any other teaching hospitals. And, to be honest, I not only have missed being a doctor, I also miss cases. I miss solving puzzles."
Cuddy chuckles at that, getting a slight glimpse into what House must see in Rose. "Alright Dr. St. John. I'll try not to use you as a go between too often, but don't be surprised when you find yourself citing ethical guidelines to me before the week is out."
"I'll find a way to deal, don't worry," Rose quips back, smiling at the other woman.
They walk back into the conference room, neither knowing what was to come of this new arrangement.
"Don't say I didn't warn you when you lose your tolerance for him." Cuddy jabs her thumb in House's direction, teasing Rose for his benefit. "Oh, and I forgot to tell you, your new colleague also volunteered you as a fill in for Dr. Wilson's department, so long as he has no objections. I'll get the board paperwork started later."
Cuddy turns to leave, and House glances to Rose, smirking. "That was easier than it should have been," he mutters.
Having heard him, Cuddy whirls back around. "Don't get too excited House- I'll be glad to have someone who can handle going up against you as an equal." She stops, shaking her head at her own words. "Dr. St. John, your position won't be confirmed until next week, so you won't have any privileges until then, but I suppose you can start consulting whenever House decides to do any real work."
Rose nods again, smirking, just as Wilson strides into the office, throwing a slight questioning look in the direction of the two women.
"House it's after six. Are we going to get dinner or not?"
"Take the newest diagnostician in this hospital with you," Cuddy chides, exiting the office without further explanation.
Wilson narrows his eyes at House, who says nothing, instead grabbing his bag and walking out ahead of the other two.
Once seated and eating and drinking at a small, dank bar not far from the hospital, House leaves momentarilyy to use the bathroom.
As soon as he's out of earshot, Wilson slams his beer mug on the table, staring at Rose.
"Do you have any idea what this means? Coming from House?" Wilson demands.
Rose takes a slow sip of beer, swallowing before answering. "What what means, James?"
"That he took three seconds to listen to you about your case. That he hired you, no merit. That he took you on as an equal. That he even respects you as a doctor period. Even that we're here, out to dinner?"
Rose shrugs, chewing a bite of food. She'd met a few characters like House in her career. People who were damn good at what they did, at the top of their game, and had an ego to match. Hell, she'd been one of them before the debacle in Africa. She knew what it meant, theoretically, but she suspected there was more beyond what Wilson was implying, and she knew better than to dig into that prematurely.
House returns then, and Wilson just shakes his head slightly, continuing to eat and the three returning to light hearted banter and sarcastic conversation as the night wares on.
To an observer, it would've seemed that Rose was as old a friend to the two men as House and Wilson were to each other.