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It was a bright, sunny mid-morning in Jersey, and the Diagnostics team of Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital could hear their boss coming all the way from the elevator. Chase and Foreman exchanged amused glances over the heads of Taub and the new med student, Martha M. Masters, whom they had covertly dubbed Sweet Sixteen. Gilbert and Sullivan could only mean one thing: House had had a good night, and that meant that they were going to have a good day. Sure enough, when House appeared, he was clear-eyed, freshly shaven, and proudly sporting a blatant purpling bruise under one ear.

“Thirty-four-year-old female presenting with fever, aches, nausea, and abdominal pain,” House announced, tossing the file folder onto the conference room table and then stepping back with something suspiciously close to a smile.

“Seriously?” Foreman said in disgust. “She probably has the flu.”

“Either that,” Taub countered, “or she’s really hot.”

“Yeah. That’s why Cuddy assigned me her case. Either that, or because she’s been doing research in the Maluku Islands for the past seven months and might actually have contracted a rare and potentially fatal exotic disease. You pick.”

“The Maluku Islands are in Indonesia,” Chase observed.

“And all roads lead to Rome, except, apparently, Thirteen’s,” House quipped. “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was a geography quiz. Did you have something more, I don’t know, medical to add?”

Chase sat back, folded his arms, and responded coolly, “The most common tropical diseases with those symptoms that are endemic to that area are malaria, dengue, and typhoid.”

Great. So why are you all still sitting here?”

The med student looked around with a small frown as the others got to their feet. “Wait, that’s the differential? Do we have a plan?”

“We’re going to draw blood for a CBC, Chem 7, and bacterial cultures for the typhoid, which is the most urgent risk. But those cultures will take at least a day, so we should start treating with ciproflaxin immediately while we wait for confirmation,” Chase explained.

“In the meantime, we’ll also do a blood smear with Giemsa stain for malaria,” Foreman added.

“She’s already on IV hydration and compazine for the nausea. Dengue has no specific treatment and is not as likely if there’s no rash, but we’ll run an ELISA to check for it just in case,” Taub finished, looking pleased with himself.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” House said impatiently. “Tests to run, patients to save. One of you bring me back a frozen latte when you’re done. Not you,” he added, looking pointedly at Masters. “Let one of the boys bring it, or I’ll hear about it later from She Who Must Be Obeyed.”

***

Their patient was half-sitting up, propped against her pillows, her grey-blue eyes glassy and her face flushed with fever. A tall, solidly built man in a dark suit slumped by her bedside, his jacket unbuttoned and sliding far enough open to reveal an unusually brash belt buckle as well as the strap of a sidearm.

“Good morning Doctor Brennan, Agent Booth,” Foreman greeted them as the Diagnostics team filed into her room. “I’m Doctor Foreman, and these are Doctors Chase, Taub, and Masters.”

“Where is Doctor House?” Brennan asked.

Chase and Foreman distinctly did not look at each other. “Doctor House generally prefers to oversee his cases from afar,” Taub told Brennan.

“And usually his patients prefer it that way, too,” Chase added cheekily.

“How odd,” Brennan said. “Hands-on examination is essential when I am explaining diagnostic criteria to my research students.”

“Yes, well, your patients have the luxury of being dead,” Taub said, and was rewarded with a frown from Foreman.

“I don’t understand what that means,” Brennan said plaintively.

“Doctor Brennan,” Masters interrupted her older colleagues, obviously anxious to get on with the testing and saving, “we’d like to draw some blood today and then start treating you for suspected typhoid while we run the labs to confirm.”

“Typhoid seems very unlikely,” Brennan replied, “given how experienced I am at traveling in the tropics and taking all of the necessary precautions against food- and water-borne illness. Are you exploring any other alternatives?”

“We also want to rule out malaria and dengue fever,” Masters chirped.

“Those are both common in Indonesia, but, as always, I was very careful to protect myself against vector-borne diseases.” She frowned. “Although I must admit that my research partner was rather less cautious, particularly on our last day there.”

“Has your research partner experienced any similar symptoms?” Masters asked eagerly.

“Not that I’m aware of.” Brennan looked over at Booth. “There is a marked resemblance, isn’t there?”

“Before we go any further, we’ll need the name of your medical proxy, Doctor Brennan,” Foreman said, holding out a clipboard.

“Seeley Booth,” Brennan replied promptly, scrawling her signature and handing the clipboard to her partner.

“Me? Bones, are you sure? Isn’t it usually a family member? Or Cam, what about Cam? She’s a doctor.”

“Cam isn’t here, Booth, you are. Besides, if for some reason I do lose the capacity to make my own medical decisions… I trust you to do the right thing.”

He swallowed, then jerked his head in a nod and signed the paper.

***

“House has to meet this woman,” Chase chuckled as he prepared the blood smear to screen for Plasmodium.

“She’s a genius,” Masters said dreamily. “Literally; she got the McArthur Award in 2005 for her investigations of nutritional impacts on hormonal remodeling of Mesoamerican skeletons.”

“And what about that partner of hers? Do you think his vocabulary consists of more than monosyllabic grunts?” Chase snarked.

“He’s an FBI agent,” Foreman pointed out. “I’m sure he’s no dummy. You’re just being petty because you know he could kick your ass from here to Tuesday.”

“Can’t help it if Neanderthals make me nervous,” Chase said. “They are an odd couple, though, aren’t they?”

“Not as odd as some I could mention,” Taub supplied sotto voce.

“Yeah, speaking of things that make me nervous,” Chase said, shaking his head.

Masters looked from one man to the other. “I’m obviously missing something here.”

“House and Cuddy,” Chase clarified, slipping the slide in place on the microscope and adjusting the oculars.

“What about them? Doctor House seems very happy.”

“He is,” Foreman said. “And good for him.”

“Oh, sure, he’s happy now,” Chase agreed. “But when this is over – and it’s only a matter of time before Cuddy comes to her senses – the fallout will be-“

“Apocalyptic,” Taub enunciated precisely.

***

House and his overflowing tray joined Wilson in line at the cafeteria shortly before they reached the cashier. “Is there a supersonic whistle that tells you when I’m about to purchase a meal?” Wilson asked, resigned. “Maybe some kind of bat signal?”

“Thanks for sending us a new patient,” House grinned, grabbing an extra dessert. “Could be typhoid.” There was suddenly more space on either side as the line compressed before and behind them.

“You’re welcome. Her partner checked out fine, so at least they didn't make the trip for nothing. So do you think that Temperance Brennan is as beautiful as she looks on her back covers?”

“Dunno; haven’t met her.”

“Oh, come on, House, she’s a famous mystery author. Don’t think I’ve forgotten how you almost wet your pants when I told you we had Alice Tanner in our ER.”

“That was totally different,” House huffed. “I just happen to be a big fan of Jack and the whole Cannonverse.”

“Well, you should give the Kathy Reichs series a chance. They’re written by a world-renowned forensic anthropologist who has almost as good an eye for detail as you do,” Wilson pointed out as they sat down at their usual table. He lowered his voice and added, “Besides, the most recent one has some pretty amazing sex scenes.”

House snorted, but Wilson continued undeterred, “There’s this one thing on page 187 that Sam really wants me to try.” House only looked at him in exasperation. “Hey, maybe Cuddy would be interested, too. Want to borrow my copy?”

“No thanks, I’m already more man than Cuddy can handle,” House said, snagging one of Wilson’s biggest fries and waggling it up and down in his lips suggestively. “Just try not to hurt yourself. Nothing kills the mood like having to call 911 right before the big finish. And I should know.”

***

As he was returning from the lab with the negative results of the ELISA and Giemsa stains later that afternoon, Chase ran into a couple standing outside of his patient’s room. The man was compactly built, with sandy blond curls and expressive blue eyes, while the woman was a Eurasian beauty, probably mixed Filipina, dressed with loose-fitting Bohemian flair. “Hello, I’m Doctor Chase,” he said, holding out his hand. “Are you here to see Doctor Brennan?”

“Jack Hodgins,” the man said, shaking it. “This is my wife, Angela Montenegro.” Something about the pride with which he made that simple statement caused Chase’s heart to lurch.

“Hi, Doctor Chase,” Angela said warmly, taking his hand and squeezing it. “We work with Doctor Brennan at the Jeffersonian. How’s she doing? Do you know what’s wrong?”

“I’ve just returned with the results of some of her tests, but there’s nothing definitive yet,” Chase replied smoothly. “But we could go look in on her, if you like. Just stay well away from the bed, since we don’t know for sure if she’s contagious.”

“Do you think it could be bird flu?” Angela asked anxiously.

“No, that wouldn’t really fit with Dr. Brennan’s symptoms. But there are other a lot of other possibilities. Best to be on the safe side.”

At least for the moment, Booth was nowhere to be seen, but Brennan opened her eyes groggily as they entered. “Angela, Hodgins,” she said with a wan smile. “You shouldn’t be here.”

“Oh, sweetie,” Angela said immediately. “Wild horses couldn’t keep us away.”

“She means that we were worried about you,” Hodgins put in.

“I understood what she meant by that colloquialism, but thank you,” Brennan said solemnly. “But Angela, you need to be careful. The baby.”

Chase cocked his head, suddenly alert. “The baby? Are you pregnant, Ms. Montenegro?”

“Well, yes, but we’re not telling everyone just yet.”

“I’ll have to ask you to leave immediately. Not only could Doctor Brennan have a contagious disease, she is being treated with an antibiotic that could seriously harm the development of your fetus.”

“Oh, God,” Angela said, looking ashen. “Of course. I’m sorry, sweetie. I’ll be right outside.” She hurried out, arms reflexively cradling the so-far invisible convexity below her breasts.

Brennan closed her eyes with what Chase assumed was relief, then opened them again. “I’ve been having a terrible headache,” she said. “And I feel very…” Suddenly her head snapped back as her entire body convulsed. Hodgins stared in horror as Chase grabbed him by the shoulder and pushed him none too gently towards the door. “I need some help in here!” he bawled, rushing back to the bed to restrain Brennan.

As he reached her, a hulking shadow appeared in the doorway, squeezing by Hodgins, and before Chase could quite work out what was going on, he had been supplanted by the man whom he’d seen sitting silently by Brennan’s side that morning. “I got her, Doc,” the guy grunted, turning his partner firmly but gently on her side and holding her almost effortlessly in place against the spasms. “This a seizure or something?”

“Looks like,” Chase said, nonplussed, and even more so when he almost got a gun in the eye as he bent over Brennan to examine her pupils after administering the diazepam into her IV. A pair of nurses rushed into the room belatedly, and Chase waved them away. “She seems to be stable now. Has she had seizures before?”

“Not since I’ve known her,” Booth replied, his stony face softening now that the immediate danger had passed. He stroked Brennan’s face, clumsily smoothing a stray lock of hair away from her eye. “Have you figured out what’s wrong with her yet?”

If I don’t, will you kill me? Chase was tempted to ask, but all he said was, “This is a new symptom. We’ll have to look at the results of today’s tests and go from there.” He left Booth staring down at Brennan, his own heart pounding, and not just from the suddenness of the response necessitated by the seizure.

Read Chapter Two: Too Much Information

 

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
jiraiyasgirl
Nov. 8th, 2010 08:44 am (UTC)
I love Taub he always amuses me I could just hear the word Apocolyptic in the dry tone of his!
flywoman
Nov. 8th, 2010 12:26 pm (UTC)
Hee! I'm sorry that Taub didn't get more lines in this fic.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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