Characters and situations are the property of Bad Hat Harry, Davis/Panzer, CTW, Diane Duane, MMPR Productions/BVE/whoever owns Power Rangers these days, and It's a Laugh Productions. Also Disney and Universal. No copyright infringement is intended.
Thank you to my beta readers, Meg Freeman, Shaun Hately, and Athersgeo
"Come on, kid," Chase said absently, "don't give up on me now."
"At least he was wearing riding leathers." Foreman cut off the protective clothing to get a better idea of what they were looking at.
There had been a multiple vehicle accident on the turnpike on a snowy morning, and any doctors in the hospital had been called to the emergency room.
"His b.p. is dropping," Chase reported. "Pushing fluids."
"Multiple lacerations," Forman reported. "They could be worse though, we can work with this."
"Imagine if he'd been wearing jeans," Cameron replied, examining the boy's head for contusions.
"B.P. and heart rate are evening out," Chase reported. "Kind of fast for just fluids, but he's stabilizing, so I'm not complaining."
Cameron reached for the disinfectant. "Let's get him cleaned up so we can see just how bad..."
Bolts of electricity shot across the patient's wounds, leaving fresh, new skin in their wake.
"What the hell?" Foreman exclaimed.
"This can't be!" Chase hit the monitors. "His blood pressure and heart rate are normal!"
Cameron had turned pale, she was looking from the patient to the monitors. "Another one?"
Chase and Foreman looked at her as if she'd grown a second head.
"You've seen this before?" Chase asked.
"Cameron? When? What's going on?" Chase asked. "I've never seen anything like that before and if we don't figure out what's going on..."
The patient groaned.
Chase snapped out of it, throwing Cameron a meaningful glare. "You're at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. You were in a crash on your motorbike."
"Was in Jersey, not Australia," he muttered.
"You still are, Chase just can't get far enough away from home," Cameron quipped. "What's your name?"
"Richie what?" Foreman prompted.
"Um..." Richie winced as Chase shone a pen light into his eyes. "Redstone."
Foreman frowned, glancing at Cameron, who shrugged, looking unconcerned.
"Where were you headed, Richie?" Chase asked, grabbing a stethoscope.
"Boston," Richie replied.
"Can you take a deep breath for me?"
"I'm fine," Richie said.
Chase frowned. "Two minutes ago you had multiple lacerations and..."
"Must've scratched a capillary," Richie said. "Lots of blood, but less damage than it looked like."
Cameron handed him a wet washcloth. "You must not be that old if you really think that excuse is going to fool a doctor; yet alone three of them."
"Damnit, I told Joe..." Richie grabbed her left wrist, turning it over, staring at the pink skin of Cameron's wrist.
Chase yanked Richie's hand away from her. "What are you doing?"
"I... I uh..."
"Is his neck injured?" Cameron asked, throwing Chase a glare.
Her two colleagues stared at her.
Richie looked at her appraisingly. "I don't think I'd be awake."
Cameron nodded. "Your clothes are toast, I'll see if I can find you some scrubs. Is there someone I can call?"
Richie sighed, then nodded, writing on a pad that Cameron handed him.
"Adam Pierson?" Cameron asked, squinting at Richie's handwriting. "Have you ever been to med school?"
"Nope, just bad handwriting."
"Okay, while Dr. Cameron's doing that, I want to run some neurological tests," Foreman said.
Richie rolled eyes as Foreman started asking him to do things like follow his finger.
Cameron sighed, then headed out to the locker room where they kept the scrubs. Chase followed her.
"Shouldn't you go help Wilson or something?" Cameron asked testily.
"I think we still have a patient," Chase replied. "And you know what's wrong with him."
Cameron rolled her eyes. "Nothing's wrong with him, other than riding a motorcycle in an ice storm I mean."
"Cameron, you don't just recover from a crash like that, or electrocution by... where did that come from, anyway?"
"Chase, do yourself a favor, forget you ever saw that."
"Chase, there are at least a dozen patients who need you more than Richie Redstone right now, go help one of them."
A young intern called a code from a room just down the hall from where the two were standing.
"See," Cameron said, shoving him into the room.
* * *
"How did you know?" Richie asked about an hour later after Foreman's neurological tests were all normal, the emergency room situation was well in hand, and Cameron had finally had a chance to call Richie's friend.
Cameron looked at him quizzically.
"Look, you were the only reason I'm not being poked and prodded with needles to perform every test under the sun, and I'm grateful. But you're not an immortal and you're not a Watcher, so how do you know about immortals?"
"My husband was an immortal."
"Do you know who..."
"He... he had cancer," Cameron said, not letting Richie finish the sentence--it was clear he had the wrong impression. "He died and his best friend drove me home from the hospital. Two days later he shows up with this incredible story. We had to move, I took some time off from school, but... I tried. I just couldn't. Joe... understood."
"Joe Cameron? You were his wife?"
"You know him?" Cameron asked, gulping.
Richie chuckled. "Small world. My teacher, Duncan McLeod, met him in the morgue after some auto accident right after he woke up the first time."
"You know Duncan? How have we never met?"
"Duncan and I... weren't exactly on speaking terms at the time--really long story, he kinda thought I was dead. Anyway, at some point I had to admit I wasn't dead, and then Joe and I met, got into some trouble together. You know, the usual."
"Do you hear from him?" Cameron asked.
"Joe? He's in Philly, working for some ad firm. Loves it," Richie said, looking around a little nervously until broke into a smile of recognition. "He's pretty lonely though." Richie winked at her. "Here's my ride."
"Take care," Cameron said, choosing to ignore the wink.
"You'll handle your colleagues?" Richie asked.
Cameron nodded as a blue convertible pulled up.
"McLeod owes me for this," said the driver of the car. "Come on, Richie, let's go."
Richie opened the car door. "Thanks, Adam, I owe you one."
"Who is she?" Adam asked, cocking his head at Cameron.
"A friend," Richie replied smoothly.
"Nice to meet you, Richie's friend," Adam said, putting the car in gear. "Okay, Richie, where to?"
"The turnpike, we need to find my sword."
"Your wish is my command," Adam said in a sarcastic tone that would've made House envious.
* * *
Cameron walked to her car, digging through her purse for her keys.
She nearly jumped, whirling around to face Chase and Foreman.
"Sorry," Chase said sheepishly. "I didn't mean to give you a fright."
Foreman didn't look the slightest bit sheepish. "You knew what was happening with Richie Redmond earlier in the day--and we want to know what it was. Especially since you seem to have made sure his chart got lost."
"It's probably better if you two forget about him."
"Come on, Cameron," Chase said. "We can't have this guy keeling over from internal injuries or a relapse or..."
"Chase, we don't have to worry about that."
"House, Cuddy, and the medical board might disagree," Chase said.
"I promise you, if you drag that kid back here, he'll be in perfect health--it'll be impossible to tell that he was even in an accident after he changes clothes. You're more likely to be committed than anything else," Cameron said.
Foreman sighed. "What makes you so sure?"
"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy," Cameron said, getting into her car.
Foreman and Chase exchanged glances and shrugged as Cameron pulled away.
"I hope that doesn't mean he was a ghost," Foreman said.
"Probably means we wouldn't believe it if she told us," Chase said.
Foreman sighed. "I'll see what I can turn up online."
"Good luck with that," Chase said. "At least Cameron lost his chart. If something happens, it's on her head." With that, he headed to the bus stop.
"Nothing out of the ordinary, Cameron," Chase reported over the cell phone as he and Foreman exited 123 Sesame Street. "Well, there's Twiddlebugs in the flower boxes and I know Luis said he always wears gardening gloves, but I suppose House is going to want us to test for Twaddlemites anyway.... Why don't we ask around before we go, rule out any psychoses, I mean we didn't meet any talking birds or anything. We'll poke around and then start driving back to Jersey."
"Excuse me," said a polite voice from behind them. "Did you say you know where Maria and Luis are? No one's seen them in awhile and we're all getting very worried."
Chase turned to see a tall, yellow bird with feathers sticking out of the top of his head. He had two orange legs banded with purple and three toed feed that seemed awfully flat and smooth for bird feet.
"Holy cricket," he said into the cell phone.
The bird cocked his head, looking perplexed. "I'm not a cricket, I'm Big Bird."
"Yes, you are," Chase said. He held up a finger, talking into the phone, but never taking his eyes off Big Bird. "A six foot yellow canary. I guess we can cross hallucinations off the symptoms list."
"It's not nice to stare," the bird scolded. "And aren't you going to introduce yourself?"
"We'll fill you in when we get back," Chase said, closing his cell phone. "I'm sorry, Big Bird, that was rather rude of me. My name is Dr. Chase and this is Dr. Foreman. We're Luis's doctors."
"Oh, no! Is he still sick?" Big Bird asked.
"I'm afraid so," Chase said, exchanging glances with Dr. Foreman. "Have you noticed anything odd about Luis lately?"
"Like what?" Big Bird asked, looking at the two men carefully.
"Every thing's odd about Luis," said a gravely voice to their left.
Chase started, turning to see... a green, hairy... he wasn't sure... with its head sticking out of the trash can.
"How so?" Foreman asked.
"He's nice," Oscar said.
Foreman glanced at Chase.
"Don't mind Oscar, he's a grouch," Big Bird said.
Chase wrinkled his nose. "What does that mean?"
"He doesn't like anybody!" Big Bird said.
"Does he carry a cane?" Chase asked.
"Huh?" Big Bird replied.
"Chase, why don't you talk to Big Bird and I'll see if Oscar here knows anything useful," Foreman interrupted, sending a venomous glare at the green occupant of the trash can.
"Maria said she was going to take Luis to a special doctor in New Jersey," Big Bird said. "Are you him?"
"He's my boss, actually. Have you noticed any changes in Luis's behavior? Like him changing moods very quickly or maybe you told him about something he'd usually remember and he forgot?"
"No, nothing like that." Big Bird glanced at the steps.
"Are you remembering something?" Chase prompted.
"I don't think it's important."
"Sometimes even little things can be important."
"Sometimes he makes faces when he climbs steps." Big Bird shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.
"That would be consistent with some of his other symptoms," Chase mused. "His knees might have been hurting him."
"Oh," Big Bird said.
Chase had a thought, but how to ask... "Are you okay, Big Bird?"
"I'm just worried about Luis, you don't know what's wrong with him do you?"
"Not really. We have a lot of theories and we're running a lot of tests, but those tests take time and sometimes we can learn which tests we need to run by looking at a patient's environment."
"Like sometimes people drink from mugs that they didn't realize were made with lead paint, or they're using household chemicals that are making them sick, or they don't tell their doctors--or us--about all the medicines they're taking and the combination makes them very ill. We also look for signs of vermin or bugs or sometimes unhealthy pets."
"Pets?" Big Bird asked.
"Yeah," Chase said. "Animals sometimes have endogenous microorganisms that can make people sick."
"Animals? Like birds?"
"Yeah, some birds can cause scardosis which..."
"You think I made Luis sick?"
"Now, Big Bird, I didn't mean..."
"It's all my fault isn't it?" The bird ran off, sobbing.
Chase started to follow, but his pager went off. "Damn."
Foreman grabbed his arm. "I don't think we're going to find out anything else out here anyway."
"Yeah, but I think I really upset Big Bird," Chase said.
"What's he going to do, go running to his really big mommy?" Foreman asked. "He'll forget all about you. Let's get back to Princeton before House kicks our asses."
"Yeah," Chase said, a knot twisting in his stomach.
* * *
When Chase and Foreman got back to the hospital, they got out of the car just in time to see Maria Fernandez, the patient's wife, stalking back into the building.
They exchanged glances, walking back in.
"Mrs. Fernandez?" Chase asked.
Maria turned, stalked up to Chase and threw him into a wall. "What were you thinking? How could you let Big Bird think what's happening to Luis is his fault?"
"Mrs. Fernandez, we just drove two hours round trip to try to figure out what is causing your husband's..."
"Big Bird is very sensitive, you had no right to let him think..."
"I was telling him why were on Sesame Street and he took something I said the wrong way, but he ran off before I could...."
"You're a jerk, you know that?" Maria stalked off.
Chase ran a nervous hand through his hair. He'd had some weird cases since coming to work for House but this one took the cake.
* * *
Later, Chase was flipping through an article he'd found about the more unusual denizens of Sesame Street while he waited for Luis's lab results.
Cameron walked up. "I take back what I said to you and Foreman about hallucinogens, that room is full of people, monsters, someone I'm pretty sure is a vampire and there's a really tall yellow bird sitting on a chair right outside.
"Big Bird's there?" Chase asked.
"I didn't catch his name, but it would certainly be apropos."
"Relax, Cameron, they're not dangerous. Take a look." He handed her the reprint.
Cameron read the abstract. "Why would anyone want to study these... whatever they are?"
"Look at the acknowledgments," Chase said.
Cameron flipped to the end of the article and read out loud. "The authors wish to thank Hooper's Store and The Muppet Theater Troupe for their generous support of this endeavor."
"There's a Mr. Hooper's Store on Sesame Street--at least according to Super Pages," Chase said.
"And the Muppet Theater Troupe?"
"I found a few fan sites--apparently the members all disbanded to do movies awhile ago.".
At that moment, Gwendolyn came back with the folder of lab results. "Which one of you wants it?"
"I'll take it." Chase accepted the folder and opened it so that Cameron could read it at the same time. "Maybe you shouldn't be so quick to rule out hallucinogens."
"If it is, someone in that room must be dispersing it into the air, because I think I see it too," Cameron said.
"We'll have to show it to House to confirm," Chase decided. "He's the only one who hasn't been exposed."
"He'll probably make us run the test again," Cameron pointed out.
"That might not be a bad idea," Chase agreed.
As if on cue, House and Cuddy stalked by, arguing.
"Dr. House," Cameron said, hoping that Cuddy wouldn't bristle at the interruption.
"See, my team needs me." House took the folder. "What do we have?"
Cuddy snatched the folder from House, nearly throwing it open. "It looks like we have a diagnosis to me." She slammed the folder shut, slapping it against Chase's test. "Go start treating your patient for Lupus and for god's sake, don't let House intimidate you into trying to get him out of clinic duty again."
"Lupus?" House asked, mouth dropping open.
"You. Clinic. Now," Cuddy said.
"Rerun the ANA after you start the treatment," House ordered.
Cameron sighed. "Back to the monsters and vampires and things."
"I'll come with you." Chase fell into step as they started for Luis's room. "I'd think you'd fit right in with this lot, Cameron."
"It's just... so weird."
* * *
As Chase and Cameron approached Luis's room, to find an argument going on outside of it.
"Come on, Big Bird, come in and say 'hi' to Luis," said a black man with a mustache and a shaved head.
"No, Gordon! I could make him sick!"
"That's not true, Big Bird," Chase said gently.
He walked up to where the Bird was sitting on the floor.
"Chase," Cameron said.
"Go ahead, Dr. Cameron, I'll be along in a minute."
Cameron sighed, walking into the room. A long procession of humans, monsters, and other odd creatures soon started filing out.
"You can go in as soon as Cameron's done explaining things to Luis and Maria," Chase said.
"But you said..."
Chase shook his head. "We mostly run into pet birds--parrots, canaries."
"Oscar sometimes says I'm a big yellow canary," Big Bird pointed out.
"Well, yes, but most pet birds don't use a toilet and then wash their hands afterwards." Chase grinned. "Most pet birds don't even have hands."
"I know, but I am a bird."
"Most of the infections we see don't come from the birds so much as from their feces."
"Their what?" Big Bird asked.
"Their um, poop," Chase said. "And even so, everyone has different types of bacteria living on their skin--and the ones on your skin are closer to what lives on human skin than what lives on bird skin."
"Yeah, really, it's all in here." Chase held up the paper. "Didn't Dr. Honeydew tell you what he found?"
"Who's Dr. Honeydew?" Big Bird asked.
"Big Bird was around two when that study was done," Gordon explained. "I doubt he remembers it."
"It was four years ago," Big Bird said.
"You're six?" Chase asked, shocked.
"He's fully grown," Gordon said. "We think. He hasn't grown since he was four at any rate."
"How tall was he when he was two?" Chase wondered.
"About my height," Gordon replied.
"You can go back in now." Cameron came out of the room and glared daggers at Chase.
"Go get 'im, Big Bird." Chase winked.
"Oh, boy!" Big Bird got up and dashed into the room.
Gordon and a few of the other neighbors filed after him, Maria pulling Gordon aside.
Chase turned to go.
"Dr. Chase!" Maria came out of the room, nearly running after him.
"Can we please skip round two?" Chase asked.
"I'm really sorry about earlier. And thank you."
"Just doing my job," Chase said. "And Doctors Foreman and Cameron helped."
"Not just for what you did for Luis; for what you did for Big Bird."
Chase gawked. "I didn't want him thinking..."
"Yes, but I'm sure a lot of doctors wouldn't have bothered. Thank you."
"You're welcome," Chase said, flushing.
"I'm sorry I called you a jerk," Maria added.
"Don't worry about it. I've been called much worse for much less reason."
"Maria!" A small red bundle of energy came running up to her, followed by what appeared to be a walking trash can.
"Hi, Elmo," Maria said
"How's Luis?" Elmo asked, bouncing up and down He turned to Chase. "Are you his doctor?"
"I am," Chase replied.
"Luis is going to be just fine," Maria added.
"Yay!" Elmo said. He hugged Maria.
Chase started to slip off, but he was nearly bowled over by a large bear hug from behind.
"Thank you, Doctor!"
"Um, you're welcome, Elmo," Chase said, aghast.
He'd never been hugged by a patient's family member before. Hugs were usually reserved for Cameron or Foreman.
"Hey!" said a gravely voice.
Chase looked up to see an empty pill bottle smack House squarely in the forehead.
"Hey, do I go chucking empty bottles into your home?" Oscar asked, his face rising out of the trash can.
"No, but I don't live in a trash can," House sneered.
"Well, that's no reason to take it out on me!" Oscar replied.
Chase smiled. "I think Dr. House just met his match."
"That's Dr. House?" Maria asked.
"Yes," Chase said.
"Maybe it's just as well he doesn't like to see patients," Maria said.
"You might try telling the dean of medicine that," Chase said.
"I just might," Maria said, heading back to Luis's room.
* * *
Epilogue: Some Years Later
"Empire Relocation Services."
"Yes, this is Doctor Robert Chase, I'm starting work at..."
"Yes, I have your file right here Dr. Chase. How much do you know about the New York City area?"
"Not a whole lot, but I have an idea of where I might like to live. Do you know of any apartments available on the 100 block of Sesame Street?"
Cameron hurried to her locker. There was something odd about the three kids who were waiting for news on their latest patient. She hoped she knew what it was--getting a bit of truth out of them could be quite useful. She opened her locker, pulled out her manual, and flipped to the directory page. Yes, there it was: Callahan, Juanita T., with Nita and Dairine's home address, and under it the address of their hotel in Princeton. Her status was listed as "Family crisis, last resort emergencies only." Dairine was listed underneath her, as was Kit--interestingly there was no Princeton address for him, he must have traveled especially to sit with Nita in the waiting room. As House would say, interesting, but medically irrelevant.
Cameron shoved her manual back into her locker, spinning the dial carefully. She then returned to the waiting room. "Kit? Nita? Dairi? May I speak to you three in private please?"
The three nodded, following her silently into an empty exam room in the clinic.
"Dai staiho, cousins," Cameron said.
"Dai," Kit replied.
Dairine blinked in shock, and Nita ran a frustrated hand through her hair.
Cameron smiled reassuringly. "I'm not on errantry. I just thought... Is there anything else you can tell me about what happened to your father, Nita? Any strange magic?"
"Alien visitors out the wazoo," Kit said.
"Nothing major," Nita said. "And nothing new--I've been mostly doing research lately."
"Me too," Dairine said. "I've been too busy recovering from the last crisis."
"And being a Senior," Nita added.
Cameron nodded, not wanting to think about when she'd forgotten all about her wizardry. "My wizardry specialty is healing, I'll try to spend some quality time with the manual and..." She stopped in mid sentence as her pager went off. She smiled. "Your dad's awake. We'll need to talk to him and then you can see him, all right? In the meantime, see if you can make me a list of any alien species that your dad or any of you had contact with, just in case it's relevant."
"Sure," Kit said. "Is it all right if we stay in here?"
"Of course," Cameron said. "I'll come get you when Mr. Callahan is ready to receive visitors."
Cameron left, noting that Kit was definitely taking care of both of the girls at that moment. Of course, Cameron gathered that they'd recently lost their mother, so that was only to be expected.
* * *
"I need to see Nita," Mr. Callahan said when Cameron and Chase entered.
"Just as soon as we've examined you," Chase said soothingly.
"I need to see Nita *now*, before she does something desperate," Mr. Callahan insisted.
"Are you concerned that she's suicidal?" Chase asked, frowning.
He shook his head weakly. "I need to see her," Mr. Callahan repeated.
"Don't worry," Cameron said, "Kit and Dairine are with her. We'll let them see you very soon."
Mr. Callahan studied Cameron carefully, then nodded. "What do you need to know?"
* * *
"There you are, Dr. Cameron," Kit said, handing her a piece of paper folded in quarters.
Cameron smiled shyly at Kit, glad that he'd approached her while Chase and Foreman were still busy with Nita and Dairine's father--the last thing she needed was the two of them asking questions that Cameron couldn't answer.
"Nita's father seems very worried about her. Did she attempt suicide after her mother's death? Does she need to speak to someone up at psychiatric?"
"She took a big risk when her mom was very sick by trying to manipulate her mother's kernel," Kit replied. "That's probably what Mr. Callahan is worried about Nita doing. She hasn't said anything to me, but I'll sic our seniors on her if I need to."
"Has someone contacted anyone else in the Callahan family?"
"Nita contacted her Aunt Annie, but she's flying in from Ireland, so it'll be awhile," Kit said. "Is there anything we can do to help?"
Cameron scanned the list, and frowned. "Hmm. You and Nita have been to the Crossings?"
"Yeah," Kit asked, sounding concerned.
Cameron frowned. "Wizards seem to have a lot of natural immunities that regular people don't. I wonder if one of you carried something in."
"You're saying this could be our fault?" Kit asked.
Cameron patted his shoulder. "Even if that's what happened, you couldn't have known. Do you know what the chances of that happening are?"
Kit shook his head.
"You have a better chance of winning the lottery," Cameron said reassuringly.
Kit smiled tentatively.
"I'll have to make sure I'm the first one to look at the blood cultures under the scope is all."
"Let me know if you need a distraction or something," Kit said.
Cameron laughed. "I'll keep that in mind."
* * *
Cameron got up in the small hours of the morning to check on the blood cultures. She did a quick Gram staining and slid the slide under the microscope.
An hour's work with the Manual and she determined that what Mr. Callahan had contracted was a rare form of Wellakhan Rkaharnaa. The bacterial strain might have been rare, but full of heterologs to the Earth bound gram positive bacteria's penicillin binding proteins.
Cameron plated several bacterial lawns and dispersed antibiotic containing disks onto the plates. She put these into the incubator and then turned back to the manual, looking to see if any human wizards had tried to cure Rkharnaa before.
They had. Successfully.
* * *
"Penicillin," Cameron said as House walked into the office at 9:30.
"What?" House added.
"I'm still doing the work on identifying the bacterial strain," Cameron lied, mentally reminding herself to "lose" the samples once Mr. Callahan had recovered, "but it's gram positive and likely to respond to beta-lactam antibiotics. I started a disk test, but it'll take twenty four hours to get the results and I'm not sure Mr. Callahan has that long."
House raised an eyebrow. "OK, go do it."
At that moment, Foreman and Chase strode in.
"You're too late," House said. "Cameron's all ready solved the case."
Cameron blushed as she hurried off to talk to Mr. Callahan.
* * *
"So what was it?" Mr. Callahan asked as Dr. Cameron as she declared that the penicillin treatment was working.
"Pripionibacterium ja'shin," Cameron said. "It's a rare form that grows on Wellekah---distantly related to the bacteria that are used to make Swiss cheese."
"And those made me sick?"
Cameron shrugged. "Even on Wellekah this would've been a one in a million case. Of course, they have slight differences in their immune system that make them less susceptible."
"Do we need to worry about the girls getting sick? Or Kit?" Mr. Callahan asked.
"No," Cameron said. "There's something about wizardry that tends to protect us from these sorts of bizarre pathogens."
Mr. Callahan shook his head. "Of course."
"Okay, I'll send the kids in and you can tell them the good news," Cameron said. "I have to go 'accidentally' put some culture samples in the biohazard trash."
She walked out, winking at Kit and Nita, and cocking her head towards Mr. Callahan's room.
"I'm fine, Wes," Eric said. "And I don't see why we had to come all the way to New Jersey just to see this House character. I'm *fine*."
"I wouldn't call dizzy spells and blurred vision that no one can figure out 'fine', Eric."
"Stop it, Eric."
"I'm *fine*," Eric said. "Honestly, I can't figure out who's worse, you or Taylor."
"Mr. Myers? My name is Dr. Cameron, we spoke on the phone."
"We did?" Eric said.
Wes has the grace to blush. "Actually you talked to me. My name is Wesley Collins. I'm a friend of Eric's and he's... having trouble admitting that he's sick."
"Wes, I'm fine. Dana thinks it was dehydration."
"Dana didn't see you still sick after three days of twice the amount of Gatorade you should be drinking."
"He's paranoid," Eric said. "I'm fine." He stood up sharply and then nearly toppled over.
Cameron and Wes ran to support him.
"You were saying?" Wes asked tolerantly.
"Let's get him on the exam table," Cameron said.
* * *
"Thirty year old male presents with persistent dizziness and blurred vision," Cameron said, plunking the folder down onto the table.
"And you think this is interesting?" House asked.
"Attending in California found normal blood count, blood sugar, and no signs of a stroke," Cameron said.
"How long has the patient been exhibiting symptoms?" Chase asked.
"Difficult to say," Cameron said. "His friend noticed them about a week ago, but..."
"His friend?" House asked. "The patient didn't notice..."
"The patient was telling me he was fine one second and nearly keeling over the next," Cameron said. "I get the impression he wouldn't have even seen a doctor if he hadn't been dragged in here."
"By his girlfriend."
"By his male friend," Cameron said with a shrug. "His girlfriend is apparently going to be arriving from California later today."
House raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure she's not fictional?"
"What does this have to do with the patient?" Foreman asked.
House rolled his eyes. "Who knows what else they're lying about. Maybe he has a problem with amphetamines that he doesn't want his boyfriend knowing about."
Chase flipped through the chart. "The tox screen was negative. What about transient ischemic attack? Those are harder to diagnose."
"I'd be worrying about what caused it," Cameron said. "He's extremely muscular and his blood panels look better than mine."
"Someone's got a crush," Chase chanted.
"Grow up," Cameron said. "A brain tumor could be throwing clots."
"Has he seen an ear specialist?" Foreman asked. "It could be something simple like a balance disorder."
"ENG," Chase said, pushing the chart to Foreman.
"Rerun it," House said. "And the blood work. Then get an MRI. Chances are it's either brain cancer or a screwed up test. Call in Wilson if you have to. Otherwise, call me if something interesting happens."
"House," Cuddy said from the doorway.
"In private," Cuddy said, indicating House's office.
"There's no point in getting me alone, they all know you want me," House replied, but he walked into his office anyway.
Cuddy followed, shutting the door. "This patient has some pretty powerful connections. Don't... be you."
"You don't want me to treat him?"
"I want you to treat him, I just don't want you to harass him."
House crossed his arms.
"I've had calls from Alexander Collins at Biolab and several well placed people at NASADA," Cuddy said. "Just... don't do anything you usually would do to get all these people to pitch fits. It could wreak havoc with our funding. And you still owe me 10 million dollars for the Vogler debacle."
House held up a finger, poking his head out into the Diagnostics lounge. "You three, go forth and test, chop chop." He turned back to Cuddy. "You should forgive the debt on the basis that I got rid of that thorn in your ass."
"What about the broken MRI machine and all the clinic hours you owe me?"
"Just try not add anything to your lawsuit tab, all right?" Cuddy said, and stalked out.
* * *
"My doctors in California all ready did blood work," Eric grumbled.
"Well, we're doing it again," Chase said matter of factly. "Doctor House doesn't trust other doctors."
"He doesn't trust anyone who's not himself," Chase replied.
"I can get behind that."
Chase raised an eyebrow. "What about that guy who dragged you here? Wesley Collins?"
"That's complicated," Eric said gruffly. "Ow!"
"Sorry," Chase said. "Your veins keep rolling. I think we'd better try to get it from your hand."
Eric sighed, offering Chase his hand. Chase frowned. "What did you do to your fingernails?"
"What do you think I am? A chick?" Eric asked. "I have no idea."
"Have they been brittle lately?" Chase asked.
"Again, no idea," Eric replied.
Chase felt them, frowning. "They're concave."
"Is that bad?"
"It's a classic sign of anemia," Chase said. "The blood test will tell us more."
Eric rolled his eyes and tried to keep his hand still.
* * *
"Damn," Chase said, flipping through the test results. He thumped the folder on the table. "It's not anemia, his blood count's normal."
"As are his blood sugar, blood chemistry, and every other test we ran," Foreman added.
"The ENG?" House asked.
"It's lined up for tomorrow morning," Chase replied.
House glared at him.
"They're sneaking him in on a cancellation. The patient is uncomfortable but stable," Chase said. "It's not exactly a matter of life or death. The only reason we even admitted him is that he almost passed out on Cameron."
Foreman huffed. "Are you sure he wasn't faking?"
"What?" House asked. "You haven't even seen this guy and you think he's faking."
"I knew him," Foreman said. "Well, until he turned tail and ran away from prep school."
"You went to prep school?" Chase asked.
"I was on scholarship," Foreman replied.
"The patient dropped out of prep school?" House asked.
"What, now you're interested?" Cameron asked.
"It could be relevant."
"There were some snooty kids who were pretty rude to the scholarship students," Foreman said. "Myers couldn't take it."
"You could?" House asked, sounding unimpressed.
"You're a cakewalk by comparison."
"Well maybe you should go talk to your old classmate, see if you can figure out what he's hiding."
Foreman sniffed. "It'd be easier to figure out what he *isn't* hiding."
"Go do that then."
Foreman gave House a weird look.
"What, do I have to light up the Black Signal for you to do your job?" House asked.
Foreman grabbed Eric's chart, rolling his eyes.
* * *
Foreman sighed and walked into the room, then nearly dropped Eric's chart. "Wes?"
"Eric Foreman!" Wes got up, reaching out to shake Foreman's hand.
Foreman shook firmly. "Are you still hanging out with Myers here?"
"He's like a puppy dog, I can't shake him," Eric deadpanned.
"You managed it back in school," Foreman said. "What changed?"
"We work together," Eric replied.
Foreman arched an eyebrow. "Last I heard, Wes was on the fast track to head Biolab and you'd joined the Marine Corps."
"Times change," Wes said, evasively.
Foreman frowned. It was clear they were, in fact, hiding something. The problem was while they had greatly varying social skills in school, neither of them was exactly stupid. How was he going to pump them for information without *looking* like he was pumping them for information?
"Is it your turn to play vampire?" Eric asked.
Foreman rolled his eyes. "Even less creative than you were in school, I see. Actually, Dr. House was hoping since you knew me that you'd be willing to give me a more detailed medical history."
"It should be all in there," Eric replied.
"Why'd you leave the Marines?" Foreman asked.
"My tour was up," Eric replied.
"I'm still surprised he was never court martialed for insubordination," said a female voice from the doorway.
"Taylor, finally, I was afraid I was going to have to tie Eric to the bed to keep him from leaving," Wes teased.
"That's my job." Taylor thwacked Wes on the arm.
Foreman wondered if maybe Chase should handle this history.
"Careful, Taylor," Wes said, "Eric here always did take things too literally."
"He knew I was joking, didn't you, honey?" Taylor asked, kissing Eric lightly on the lips.
"Dr. Eric Foreman," he offered the woman his hand to shake, "I went to school with Wes and Eric. And it would seem Mr. Collins here is up to his old tricks in trying to confuse people."
Taylor smacked Wes upside the head. "Are you sure it's not your fault he dropped out?"
"Careful, Taylor, you don't want both of us in here," Eric deadpanned.
"No kidding, I'd have Alyssa nagging me for sure," Taylor retorted.
Foreman rolled his eyes. "Eric, when was your last physical exam?"
"Um, six months ago?" He glanced at Taylor.
"Seven," she corrected.
Foreman raised an eyebrow. Eric Myers was the last person Forman would have figured to be keeping his girlfriend in the loop about his medical appointments.
"Did Dr. Davis do the physical?" Foreman asked, flipping through the charts.
"No," Eric replied reasonably.
"Dr. Dana Mit--er, Grayson," Eric replied.
"Why wasn't it transferred with the rest of your medical files?" Foreman asked. "Actually, before this started, there's precious little information in here that dates from after 2001."
"Dana has most of them," Eric said quietly.
"Did she see you for this?"
"Not really," Taylor said. "She nagged him into drinking more the day of her wedding, but it got worse and she's still on her honeymoon."
"You need to have her office fax over the records."
Wes, Taylor, and Eric all exchanged glances.
Foreman frowned, he had a bad feeling about this. This had to be whatever Eric--and possibly the other two--were lying about.
"Don't tell me she married her receptionist," Foreman said, lightly.
"Carter's a firefighter."
"How do you know your doctor so well anyway?"
He was met with more silence.
* * *
Foreman slapped the chart onto the table. "Myers is even more annoying then when we were in school! And suddenly Wes is no better. His primary care doctor seems to be a friend, and not only do they seem unable to supply his health records, they don't seem to want to either."
"What else causes blurred vision and dizziness?" Chase asked.
"Multiple sclerosis, Down's syndrome..."
"He may be many things, but mentally retarded is not one of them," Foreman snapped.
"We could threaten him with a cerebrospinal fluids test," Chase said. "Maybe he'll suddenly decide to cough up his medical records."
"Those aren't that big a deal," Cameron pointed out.
"No, but the consent form is pretty scary if you present it just right," Chase said.
Foreman shook his head. "And here I thought the Australian prep school system was supposed to be scarier than the American one. You won't convince Eric of anything that way."
"Have you tried getting his friend alone?" Cameron asked. "He seems very concerned, you might be able to work with that."
Foreman's brow furrowed, considering.
"Why don't you send Cameron in there in a low cut top, the way that friend is hovering over the patient he can't possibly have a girlfriend. Hey, if Cameron's really lucky...."
"I'll talk to him if you promise to shut up," Cameron said.
House walked back into his office without a word.
"I can't believe that worked," Foreman said. "Come on, I'll keep Eric and his girlfriend busy while you grill Wes."
"Maybe I'd better come to," Chase said, eying House warily.
* * *
The three fellows arrived at the same time as a hispanic kid of about nineteen or twenty. He wore a black and white patterned shirt that reminded Foreman of a comic book and had a messenger bag slung over his shoulder.
He eyed them warily as he entered. "Um, is one of you Eric Myers?"
Eric raised an eyebrow at him. "I'm Eric."
"Uh, sign here, sir," the kid said, reaching into his pocket for a scrap of paper.
At this point, Taylor fixed him with a withering glare. The kid cocked his head at the three fellows.
Eric was nearly laughing as he signed the papers. "Thanks for hauling up here from school, Trent."
"Tell your dad I owe him a favor now instead of the other way around," Wes said, winking.
The kid flushed. "Um, yeah, okay, sure." With that he double timed it out of the room.
"I think you wanted these," Eric said, handing the files to Foreman.
"The results of your last physical would be.... Um, did Dr. Grayson test for Polycythemia vera?"
"For what?" Eric asked.
"Too many blood cells," Cameron said, "but if these are your baseline test results, why are you feeling sick when..."
Foreman placed the two test results side by side. "Hey, Cameron, I think we might need to embrace your aunt paradigm."
"You know, the one who has a fever when she has a temperature of 98.6," Foreman said.
Chase peered over Foreman's shoulder. "I think you might be right."
"What?" Eric asked. "Hey, my body you're talking about here."
"If we take your physical as a normal baseline, then your blood work would be consistent with anemia," Chase said.
"Do you really think that or are you just agreeing with me because it would mean you were right?"
"Concave fingernails," Chase said.
"His are too brittle too," Taylor piped up.
Chase winked at Eric.
"See, chick," Eric said.
Taylor thwapped him upside the head.
"Careful, you don't want to cut him, he's all ready low on blood platelets," Foreman asked. "But why?"
"You grill Mr. Myers about his diet," Chase said, flipping through the chart, "I'll go requisition some O- blood."
"That's my blood type," Wes said.
"I trust Wes," Eric said.
"All right, come on then."
* * *
"Bugger," Chase said, staring at the scope.
"What is it?" Cameron asked, where she was poring over another test designed to determine what might have caused the patient's "anemia."
"The friend's blood count is fifty milliliters per kilogram."
"You're saying he's polycythemic as well?"
"Or there's something very weird going on here," Chase said. "Don't they both work for Biolab?"
* * *
"It's nothing to worry about," Eric said.
"We don't work with the chemicals," Wes added.
"Look, first of all, Mr. Collins, I can't possibly believe that you're asymptomatic with a blood count this high," Chase said.
"Well, I am."
"And second of all I can't in good conscience give Eric that blood when..."
"That's the best treatment," said a blonde woman from the doorway.
"Dana?" Eric asked.
"No, I'm Kira Ford under an aging spell."
"Do you want me to kill Tommy or is Carter all ready on that?" Eric offered.
"We had a layover here anyway, so I figured I'd come over here and save your butt," Dana said, snatching the chart from a startled Chase. She looked it over. "That is very low for Eric, and that's pretty well in Wes's normal range. It's perfectly safe to do the transfusion. And it really would be better if you used Wes's blood."
Chase frowned. "Who are you?"
"Dr. Dana Mitchell-Grayson, Eric's primary care physician," Dana replied, crisply.
"I see," Chase said. He left the room, making a bee line for Cuddy's office.
* * *
Cuddy was just as happy to treat Eric as Dr. Grayson ordered--so long as the patient signed off on it.
Three days later, Eric was nearly ready to be discharged, but the three Diagnostics fellows were no nearer to discovering the cause of his or Wes's normally elevated blood count.
"This doesn't make any sense," Foreman said.
"Huh," Chase said.
"Can you quit doing the online crossword puzzles, and help?" Cameron asked.
"I'm waiting for three different tests and googling that doctor of theirs," Chase said. "Have either of you heard of something called Lightspeed Rescue?"
Foreman frowned. "Back in L.A. They were supposedly a group of Power Rangers."
"I thought those were comic book characters," Cameron said.
"There are several small towns in California that swear otherwise... it started with just Angel Grove, but it's spread to places like Blue Bay Harbor and Silver Hills," Foreman said.
"Isn't that where these two are from?" Chase asked.
"Yeah, why?" Foreman asked.
"Check this out," Chase said. "That's our Dr. Grayson right there, is it not?"
"You're saying that doctor is a pink Power Ranger?" Cameron asked, unable to keep the laughter out of her voice.
"Can you think of another connection between those three other than that Dana is a Power Ranger and those two come from a town that claimed to have Power Rangers?" Chase asked.
"What about that messenger kid? What did Eric call him?" Foreman asked.
"Trent," Chase said.
"Thought so, Wes claimed to know his father," Foreman said.
"Long story how I know, but Anton Mercer--like Mercer Industries, has a son named Trent--and he was doing a crappy job of trying to cover up that he knew them," Foreman said.
"Mercer Industries is headquartered in Reefside--which also claims to boast a Ranger team," Chase said after some more Google searching.
"What are we going to tell House?" Chase asked. "I mean, 'the patient has a high blood count because he's a super hero'? He'll never buy that."
"Maybe we can get Eric to confess," Foreman said.
* * *
"Foreman, I think that Farrely guy hit you upside the head one too many times in school," Eric said, laughing.
"Or you're imbibing on the job," Wes added.
"I think we have a breathalyzer in the car," Eric put in.
"Really, dear, I didn't think he was your type." Taylor rolled her eyes.
"Come on, Taylor, I'm a cop, I make cop jokes." Eric finished tying his shoes. "You are the first and last person I will ever pick up by giving them a speeding ticket." He hopped into the wheelchair. "Come on, let's get out of here before these guys decide to do more vampire impressions."
Foreman sighed with exasperation and one of the nurses wheeled Eric out of the room.
"House is going to kill us," Chase said.
"I'll protect you if you get him to take this case," Cuddy said, slapping a folder into Foreman's chest.
Foreman flipped through the chart as Chase and Cameron strained to see.
"Oh, yeah, this should distract him," Foreman said. The three headed up to the Diagnostics office to present House with their next case.
"Every thing's pretty posh for a middle management type," Foreman said. "I"m still amazed you talked your way past that doorman. I still don't see why he let you in."
The door gave way, and Chase opened the door.
"Swanky," Foreman said.
"With a side of kitsch," Chase said, indicating a hula girl lamp. "It's like an expensive decorator came through and then the patient topped it off with a side of redneck garage sales."
"I'll start with the Master bedroom, you take the kitchen," Foreman said.
* * *
"How long did they say they'd been in town from LA?" Chase asked, leaning in the doorway of the bathroom.
"A couple of weeks."
"There's only a couple of take out leftover containers in the fridge," Chase said. "What did this guy say he did again?"
"Some type of middle manager," Foreman replied. "He was pretty vague."
"With homes in New York and LA and take out for dinner every night?" Chase frowned. "I couldn't have managed that before...."
"It is odd," Foreman said, "but not exactly medically relevant."
"Anything helpful on your end?"
"Not a thing," Foreman said.
"Think we should be paranoid and check the kids' bedrooms?" Chase asked.
"You think there's something in there that the dad's reacting to more quickly?"
Foreman walked into the master bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet. "Oh, great."
"Have fun, I'll take a peek in the girl's bedroom next door. Shout if you need me."
Chase's eyes bulged as he took in the bedroom. "Very posh," he murmured as realized there was an en suite bathroom there was well.
* * *
"Yo Chase," Foreman said from the door to the bedroom.
"Nothing," Chase sighed. "Not a drive you want to be a waste of time when gas is three dollars a gallon."
"So what were you so interested in that you didn't hear me?" Foreman asked.
"I was listening."
"It's not like the bathroom is that much farther from the Master bedroom," Foreman said. "Even if you were in there there's no reason shouldn't hear me." Foreman frowned, stepped outside and into the master bedroom.
He walked to and fro. Chase, who had followed his colleague, watched him with some confusion on his face. "What?"
"Or is it?"
He walked into the girl's bedroom again, counting paces to the wall it shared with the master bedroom. He repeated the process in the master bedroom, then between the two doors.
"They don't add up," Foreman said. "Not unless that wall is six paces deep."
"You probably added wrong," Chase said.
"Check my work then." Foreman made a sweeping motion with his arms.
Chase repeated Foreman's pacing, ending in the girl's bedroom then furrowed his brow. "You're right."
Chase knocked on the wall. "Hollow."
"Crack in the wallpaper," Foreman said, tracing it along the side.
Chase eyed the nearby desk. "Funny how there's papers on every surface in this room except for that jewelry box."
"So the girl likes her jewelry."
"Miley wasn't wearing any jewelry," Chase replied, approaching the jewelry box.
"You know her name? Are we going to have to watch you with the patients' kids now too?"
"Andie was an exception," Chase practically growled as he opened the jewelry box. He glanced back at Foreman--in the jewelry box was a switch. Chase flipped it.
The wall swung inwards to reveal another closet, stuffed to the brim with sequined outfits, fancy shoes, and awards hanging on the wall.
"Gold record?" Foreman asked. "Best of Both Worlds by Hannah Montana? Do they sell these things on Ebay?"
"And if they did, why hide it?" Chase added. "Unless..." he picked up a blonde wig, showing it to Foreman, and then pointing at the poster of the blonde pop star on the wall.
"Little Miley is really a teeny bopper pop star?" Foreman asked. "What's this have to do with her dad?"
"Maybe a lot. Like we have an inaccurate travel history."
Foreman's eyes widened. "His symptoms do match a whole bunch of conditions we ruled out because he hasn't been out of the country. What do you think, do we go to the Hannah Montana web site or grill the kids?"
"We'll have a better idea of where the dad's been if we ask the kids. Let's bring this." Chase flipped the wig in the air and caught it again.
"Cuddy will flip if we threaten to blackmail the kid," Foreman pointed out.
"I don't want to blackmail her," Chase said. "We should probably start by reminding her about doctor patient confidentiality. It'll just be easier to get the truth out of her if we can prove that we know her secret."
* * *
Cameron met Chase and Foreman at the door to Robert Stewart's room. "The patient's sleeping, but the kids are awake," she informed them. "They're pretty freaked out, but why didn't you want me to talk to them before you got back?"
"You were lacking props." Chase held up the blonde wig. He poked his head into the room. "Miley? Jackson? We'd like a few words with you if you don't mind."
The teens exchanged worried glances and followed Chase, Cameron, and Foreman down the hall to an empty room. Chase made a big show of closing the door behind them.
Miley took a step behind Jackson, gripping his arm with one hand and practically hiding her face behind his shoulder.
"Miley, are you all right?" Chase asked kindly.
"Is this the part where you tell us our dad's dying?" Miley asked quietly.
"Don't talk like that Miles, the nice doctors are just pulling us out of Dad's room to... why are you pulling us out of Dad's room?" Jackson asked, eying them skeptically and nearly backing into the examination table.
Chase, Cameron, and Foreman exchanged glances.
Miley straightened up. "Well, is he?"
"Not if we can help it," Chase said, gently. "But we need your help."
"What can we do?" Jackson asked. "We're just kids."
"You can give us the list of places where your dad's traveled to lately," Cameron said.
"We all ready did."
Chase raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure about that?" He produced the wig from underneath his lab coat.
"What's that?" Miley asked, voice shaking.
"We have some... unconventional diagnostic techniques," Foreman replied. "We were checking your home for toxins, any medications that your dad might have left off of his history."
"Find anything?" Jackson asked, voice cracking.
"Just an extra closet in your sister's room," Chase said. "With this, and a bunch of gold records belonging to one Hannah Montana."
"Who's that?" Miley asked, her knuckles turning white on Jackson's shoulder.
"Your other identity," Chase said. "Look, Miley, we're not going to tell anyone, I promise. But I'm pretty sure I read something about Hannah Montana going on a world tour--we need to know everywhere your dad's been, it could help us figure out what's wrong with him."
Jackson and Miley exchanged glances.
"Not a word to anyone?" Miley asked. "Promise."
Chase smiled reassuringly. "You're not going to make me cross my heart, are you?"
"He means it too," Cameron added, "he was almost a priest."
Chase glared at her.
"What, you were!"
Miley bit her lip. "Okay, but you're probably going to need a pen."
* * *
"Well?" Miley asked as Chase beckoned her and Jackson back into the room.
"I can go home tomorrow," Robbie Ray Stewart says.
"But he needs to take it easy," Chase said. "So no running off or all night partying or anything."
"Who me?" Miley asked, batting her eyes innocently.
Jackson and Chase looked at each other, both rolling their eyes.
"Just remember..." Chase said.
"Be sure to give my doctors a complete travel history in future, I know, I know," Mr. Stewart said.
"Don't worry, Doctor Chase, we'll make sure he does." Miley gave her father a stern look.
"Now that you two know I'm all right, will you humor your daddy and go get something to eat?"
"Sure thing, Daddy," Jackson said.
"Miley, make sure he eats his vegetables--and not beans!"
"Sure thing, Daddy," Miley said, and the two kids filed out of the room.
Mr. Stewart scrubbed a hand over his face.
"They'll be fine, they just had a good scare is all." Chase reached over to double check Mr. Stewart's pulse.
"I wish I could be so sure."
"It's scary enough losing one parent growing up," Chase replied. "You'll be fine, and so will they."
"Sounds like you're speaking from experience there, partner."
"I am." Chase shifted uncomfortable and nearly sighed with relief when his beeper went off. "Excuse me."