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“Cam, I wish that you would talk to Angela.” Dr. Hodgins rarely poked his head into Dr. Saroyan’s office; in fact, she had to patrol the labs regularly if she hoped to catch him preparing to perform a particularly unorthodox or dangerous experiment. The fact that he was now hovering in her doorway, guileless blue eyes troubled, signaled the seriousness of the situation. “You’ve upset her.”

“The two of you have upset me. What are you doing back here with Dr. Brennan so sick?”

“Uh…” Hodgins pitched his voice lower. “Look, Angela has been advised to avoid being exposed to anything right now. We weren’t going to tell anyone for a while, but…” The shy grin on his face told her all that she needed to know.

“You’re pregnant?” she gasped, just as Brennan’s intern Wendell Bray appeared behind Hodgins, presumably to report on his progress with the indentations left by the murder weapon.

“Yeah,” Hodgins said in a small voice, shifting awkwardly and avoiding Wendell’s gaze.

“Seriously? Congratulations, man!” Wendell pulled him into a hearty hug and thumped him on the back. “That’s great news!”

“Really? You’re not… I mean-“

“No, of course not! I’m really happy for you! I’m gonna go find Angela!”

“I wish you… wouldn’t do that,” Hodgins said to Wendell’s rapidly receding back. “Crap.”

***

“Hannah,” Booth greeted his girlfriend gladly after taking his cellphone out into the hall, “how are you?”

“Great, except for wishing you were here. How’s Temperance doing?”

“Less great. Her doctors are conferring right now.”

“About that. Have you considered getting a second opinion?”

“A second opinion? We’ve got a whole team of experts working on her case here.”

“Gregory House’s team,” she clarified.

“Yeah. Like I told you.”

“Seeley, the man is a recovering drug addict who had his medical license suspended while he was in rehab. He’s been arrested for DUI, prescription forgery, possession, and intent to traffic. He even forcibly kidnapped his favorite soap opera star, although apparently charges were never filed.”

“Hey, Hannah, slow down there,” Booth said, retreating to a quiet corner of the corridor and lowering his voice. “Dr. House may be a piece of work, but he’s supposed to be the best diagnostician in the country, and right now that’s more important to me than anything you may have dredged up in his past.”

“Well, let’s look at his team. He’s been reprimanded for inadequate supervision of one of his fellows resulting in a patient’s death, another allegedly compromised an important clinical trial, and a notorious African dictator died in their care under very mysterious circumstances last year.”

“You work fast,” Booth said in reluctant admiration.

“This is what I do,” she pointed out.

“You must be really bored with the Press Corps.”

“You were right. If I’m going to stay in the States, I need to investigate stories I’m passionate about. Malpractice and corruption in the healthcare industry are a big deal these days, Seeley.”

“Well, then do that! Go find some whistleblowers and expose the heartlessness of the health insurance industry if you have to. But leave Brennan’s doctors out of it.”

He sensed an immediate chill on the other end of the line. “Are you telling me that I can’t write about this?” Hannah asked.

“No, of course not,” Booth said, rubbing the back of his neck. “But I’m asking you not to.”

There was a long pause. “Okay,” Hannah said at last.

Booth exhaled the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. “Thank you.”

***

“Ange?”

“Hodgins,” she acknowledged coolly, placing her hands on her hips.

“I, uh, saw Wendell leaving just now, so…”

Angela faced him squarely. “I thought that we agreed that we weren’t going to tell anyone yet.”

“I really didn’t mean for Wendell-“

“I meant Cam,” she corrected him crisply.

“Ange, I saw that you were upset; I thought if she knew, she’d back off.”

“Yeah,” Angela said. “I thought of that, too. And if I’d wanted her to know, I could have told her myself.”

“You’re right. Sorry,” Hodgins said sincerely. They looked at each other for a moment. “How’d Wendell take it?”

Angela waved a hand dismissively. “Oh, you know Wendell, he’s a doll. He’s very happy for us. But… a little warning would have been nice, you know?”

“Sorry,” Hodgins said again, moving towards her, and then against her once he felt her relax. They held each other, each tucking a chin over the other’s clavicle. “Feels more real now somehow, doesn’t it?” Hodgins asked after a moment.

“It does,” Angela agreed, sounding like she wasn’t quite sure how she felt about that.

***

By early afternoon, House was ready to concede that the albendazole wasn’t working and another round of differentials was in order.

“Maybe we – and by “we,” I of course mean you - have been too quick to assume that her symptoms were due to a specifically tropical disease. Just because she spent the past seven months in the wilds of Indonesia doesn’t mean she couldn’t have contracted something else more recently right here in the good old US of A.”

“Bacterial food poisoning would have responded to the antibiotics,” Chase pointed out.

“Could still be a rotavirus or norovirus,” Foreman insisted. “But it would take days to check for all of them, and even if we identified it, there wouldn’t be much we could do.”

Taub caught the expression on House’s face and intuited, “But I take it you’re actually referring to something a little less obvious.”

“Yep. Chlamydia,” House said. “You ought to be intimately familiar with the symptoms given your numerous affairs of the… heart. Go on, share with the rest of the class.”

Taub rolled his eyes but recited gamely, “Fever, lower abdominal pain, and nausea are all common.”

“Wouldn’t the broad spectrum antibiotics have taken care of that?” Masters asked.

“Chlamydia responds better to tetracycline derivatives,” Chase shrugged, and then headed off her next question by reminding her, “The seizures could have been caused by the Cipro.”

“Then… we should collect a urine sample and start the patient on doxycycline,“ Masters said, looking hopefully to House for approval.

“And also start a series of PCRs to check for common stomach viruses,” Foreman added.

“Fine,” House said, grabbing his cane and levering himself to his feet. “But first, there are some sensitive questions to be asked. Give me a few minutes alone with the patient.” He stumped off, leaving his fellows to stare after him in surprise.

Chase voiced what they were all thinking: “Cuddy better watch her back.”

***

Wilson and Cuddy were both standing in the patient’s room chatting with Brennan and her hulking bodyguard, when House barged in and stated without preamble, “We want to rule out the possibility of any sexually transmitted diseases. How long have you and your partner been involved?”

“What? No – why does everyone always think that? Agent Booth and I are not dating. We’ve worked together closely for many years. A sexual relationship would be entirely inappropriate and potentially counterproductive.”

“Bones,” Booth hissed reprovingly as Cuddy compressed her lips, eyes darkening.

“What? Oh,” Brennan added with a knowing nod, “It’s different in your case, Doctor House. You and Doctor Wilson may be colleagues at the same institution, but you head entirely different departments and only occasionally collaborate.”

Cuddy coughed, and Wilson started to splutter, while House looked almost indecently amused. “Doctor Wilson and I aren’t dating either,” he said, “although this isn’t the first time we’ve been mistaken for a couple, is it, Snookums?” He reached behind him and did something that caused Wilson to jump slightly and redden even further.

“I seem to have been misinformed,” Brennan said.

“Now, I don’t know what Wilson’s been telling you,” House said, loudly enough to drown out his friend’s incoherent protests, “but as a matter of fact, I’m currently involved with that lovely lady over there.” He glanced over at Cuddy. “A little back-up, here, Boss.”

Cuddy rolled her eyes. “Nice try, but I’m afraid that today you’ll have to wait to be groped until after work. Dr. Brennan, please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you. And I want you in my office at 5 pm sharp to discuss some insurance allegations of double reimbursement,” she added, fixing House with a glare on her way out.

“That was a euphemism,” House said, staring admiringly after her. “Now, where were we?”

“I think you were suggesting that Dr. Brennan may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease,” Booth said belligerently.

“That was it,” House agreed with a grin of simulated gratitude. “How many partners have you had in the past year?” he asked, turning to Dr. Brennan. “Just a ballpark figure would be fine.”

“I’ll… be in my office,” Wilson said.

***

Later that afternoon while all of his fellows were in the lab, up to their elbows in PCR primers and polymerase, House stopped by Brennan’s room again to check on her progress. She was alone for once, and seemed to be sleeping until she turned her head at the sound of his step. “Dr. House,” she said weakly.

House sat down on the edge of the bed, tucking his cane between his thighs, then pressed his fingers to her throat and took her pulse. “How are you feeling?” he asked.

“A bit better,” she said cautiously.

“I see that your faithful watchdog has finally been able to leave your side.”

Brennan’s lips curved slightly in the prelude to a smile. “Booth went to find the chapel so that he could pray for my recovery.” She cocked her head at him conspiratorially. “My feeling better will probably just serve to encourage him.”

***

Shortly before five, Wilson dropped by House’s office to offer his unsolicited opinion.

“House, I think you should consider spending a little less time with this particular patient.”

“Now that’s something I don’t hear too often,” the other man remarked.

“I mean it. I saw you flirting with her earlier. You and Cuddy seem to have a good thing going right now. Don’t be an idiot.”

Seriously? You think that I would be tempted to cheat on Cuddy? That’s your M.O., not mine.” House narrowed his eyes. “Sure you aren’t projecting here? Do I sense trouble in paradise?”

“No,” Wilson snapped. “As a matter of fact, we… things are going fine.”

Now House was hot on the scent. “As a matter of fact you, what? Wilson?” When his friend refused to meet his eyes, he threw up his hands in disgust. “Oh, Christ. Don’t tell me. You would think that a guy would know better after the first time. Not to mention the second and third.”

“See, this is exactly why I didn’t say anything to you.”

“This is a really stupid idea,” House fumed. “And I am not gonna be your best man. Not even if you beg.”

“You know you’ll always be my best man,” Wilson said unexpectedly, and walked out, feeling the pressure of House’s eyes boring into his back.

***

By mutual agreement, House and Cuddy dropped the discussion of Diagnostics’ appalling patient billing records at the door of the hospital, although the excitement of their sparring session did not wear off during dinner or even until well after Rachel had been tucked into bed with four stories and a scratchy good-night kiss that made her turn her face away and shriek with mingled outrage and delight.

If the novelty of lovemaking had started to wear off in the intervening months, their intimate knowledge of each other’s bodies more than made up for the loss. Cuddy left nail marks down his back, and House smothered his hoarse shouts in the sweaty hollow between her neck and shoulder.

Afterwards, lying tangled in her silken sheets, House remarked in a carefully casual voice, “You’re on the Pill.”

Cuddy twisted around to stare at him from within the circle of his arm. “How do you know that?”

House just regarded her steadily in an unspoken reminder that a man who could monitor her menstrual cycle based on patterns of frozen yogurt consumption didn’t miss much. “You don’t want my kids,” he said finally.

She froze. “House,” she said, then caught herself. “Why would you even-“

“You weren’t on the pill with Lucas,” House stated. “You only started once we got together. You agreed not to use condoms, which sent the signal that you trust me enough to keep you safe from disease, but you’ve decided to protect yourself from pregnancy.”

They both watched her consider denying it. “The chances of my getting pregnant at this point are very low,” she began.

“Apparently not low enough.”

“I was protecting you,” she said. “You’ve never wanted kids.”

“When have I ever said that?” House inquired of the ceiling.

“I’m sure it was implied,” Cuddy said with a short laugh. Silence. “Hey. Look at me, please.” She took his hand, lacing her fingers between uncompromising cables of sinew and bone. “Are you saying that you would want to have one? I mean, if we could?”

He looked hard at her for a moment, than shook his head. She felt herself relax, her heartbeat slowing. “Okay. Because I think it’s really too soon to think about that.”

“Absolutely,” he agreed. As if two decades hadn’t been long enough.

They lay in silence after that, each of them certain that the other was only pretending to have fallen asleep.

Read Chapter Four: Buried Deep

 

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
jiraiyasgirl
Nov. 8th, 2010 09:00 am (UTC)
This cracked me the hell up!!!

“What? Oh,” Brennan added with a knowing nod, “It’s different in your case, Doctor House. You and Doctor Wilson may be colleagues at the same institution, but you head entirely different departments and only occasionally collaborate.”


Cuddy coughed, and Wilson started to splutter, while House looked almost indecently amused. “Doctor Wilson and I aren’t dating either,” he said, “although this isn’t the first time we’ve been mistaken for a couple, is it, Snookums?” He reached behind him and did something that caused Wilson to jump slightly and redden even further."

That last part was kinda sad...at this point even if he did maybe want a kid I doubt he'll admit to her now...

flywoman
Nov. 8th, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
I couldn't resist playing around a bit with the whole House/Cuddy vs House/Wilson debate, and Brennan is exactly the person to put her foot in it.

And yeah... the last bit was my attempt at a sad, season-appropriate example of why Huddy won't last. It seemed to fit well with the whole "precautionary measures" theme at the time, but... I'm still of two minds about it.

Thank you for commenting!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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