Freestyle Fiasco presents …
Friendship is Magic featuring House MD
The name wasn't so much said as it was 'sighed' by a tall, dark brown earth-pony stallion that had two green snakes wrapped around a golden crown for his cutie mark. He didn't look happy to be standing there in the town square.
It was the most beautiful summer afternoon you could hope for, with the heat of the sun pouring down over the business of the day, blocked only once in awhile by a scattering of puffy white clouds that were chased across the sky by the cool breeze. Overhead, birds sang in flight, and on the ground other animals played in the streets. It looked like almost everypony was out enjoying themselves – whether they were actually working or just relaxing. The whole place was alive with the perfectly peaceful rhythms of just another summer day.
It was enough to make the earth-pony's eye twitch.
“Isn't it great?”
The pegasus-pony stallion standing next to the earth-pony had a voice laced with an accent – maybe Austallion with some Canterlot mixed in. He was shorter than the earth-pony but much better looking, and he seemed to know that about himself. His eyes glowed with a sense of confidence that was only out-shone by the way the sunlight caught in his luxurious golden mane, picking out every aspect of his physical perfection right down to his cutie mark – another crown, but this one was silver with two angelic wings wrapped around it.
“I could definitely get used to a place like this …” the pegasus-pony went on, hardly able to keep his eyes on all the mares in the town square at once.
His wings were spread wide right out there for everybody to see and he didn't even look embarrassed about it, the smile he was wearing the proof that he was almost drunk with excitement. The earth-pony he was with saw this and just rolled his eyes.
“What's the problem Foreman?”
“Oh nothing …” answered Foreman, his tone soaked through with sarcasm, “I just thought you'd want to try getting your job done first for once before you run off to ruin every mare in Ponyville –”
Both Foreman and Chase glanced back over their shoulders as a grizzled, gray unicorn-pony stepped up between them. Right away both the earth-pony and the pegasus-pony had to slow their pace for him. He walked with a heavy limp in the hind leg of his that was bandaged right down from his cutie mark – a gold and silver scepter with angelic wings surrounded by two green snakes. Everything about the way he held himself screamed “pain”, from his tense, lop-sided motions to the way he bit furiously into the apple he was floating in front of himself. His bright blue eyes were always moving, calculating, seething with intelligence.
His voice was as bitter as crabapples.
“Chase is just following one of his basic biological directives – to give every mare in Equestria a reason to hate him forever,” he went on, “Or is it to give every mare in Equestria a reason to hate herself forever? I don't know. Sometimes it's hard to tell.”
“House,” asked Foreman, “Where have you been?”
“Stealing things, homey,” answered House, floating the apple around in front of Foreman's face, “What about you? As much as I enjoy watching Chase 'work', I'd enjoy it even more if the job I sent you to do was done by now. So is it?”
House took another bite of his apple, staring straight at Foreman until the other pony had to lower his eyes.
“We're still looking for her …” answered Foreman.
“Oh … are you looking for somepony?”
All three stallions looked up at the sound of the softest voice that any of them had ever heard. What they saw was a mare, a yellow pegasus-pony with three butterflies for a cutie mark, standing there with her head down so that her pastel pink mane fell over one eye. That one eye was staring up at Foreman, a tint of red spreading across her cheek when he looked at her. She scuffled one hoof against the ground.
“Because … um … if there's somepony you're –”
“Did I ask for your help?”
Foreman's voice was as hard and flat as the concrete in his home of New Colt City, and the look he gave the young mare was as cold as Nightmare Moon's eternal darkness. It took just several seconds before the little pegasus-pony turned tail and ran without another word, tears shimmering at the corners of her eyes.
House and Chase watched her go.
“Awww,” gushed Chase in complete sarcasm, shattering the silence, “Foreman found somepony to flirt with!”
“That'a boy, Foreman,” said House.
“You two are …”
House never caught the rest of Foreman's comeback. In fact, he was already limping away from the other two ponies.
“Well hello …” said House, loud enough to catch some attention from Chase and Foreman, “This one looks like a winner.”
House made his way over across the street to a blueish-gray pegasus-pony that he had noticed because of her eyes, both bright yellow but – more importantly – each slanted off in a different direction. She was sitting on the side of the street with a letter dangling from her mouth, not moving at all except for those eyes – which swung slowly around and didn't seem to see anything at all.
“Hello,” said House as he came to stand in front of her, “I'm Doctor House.”
She didn't give the slightest reaction, not even when House's horn began to glow at the tip with a bright light, which he waved slowly in front of her face.
“Pupils are dilating at different rates,” said Chase from just behind House's shoulder.
“Could be an absent seizure …” mused Foreman, from just behind House's other shoulder.
“Excuse me,” said House, letting the light fade out on his horn while he gently took the letter from the mare with his magic, “Do you know what this is?”
“Muffin,” was the answer he got.
“Well at least she's smarter than both of you,” muttered House, “She wouldn't be able to answer me if this was an absent seizure. Try again?”
“Concussion?” guessed Chase.
“No sign of trauma …” said Foreman.
“Cancer can –”
“Shut up, Chase,” snapped House, “Before you remind me how incompetent of a doctor you really are....”
Nopony said anything more while House slowly waved the letter in front of the mare's face, watching her eyes slowly roll around at every angle, but never in the direction of the letter. Eventually, Foreman spoke up.
“So what do you think it is?”
House took his time with answering.
“I think … it's nothing to worry about,” he finally said, giving the mare back her letter.
“You're joking,” said Chase, his voice dry as his home in Austallion, “This pony obviously has something very wrong with her.”
“That may be true,” answered House, “But that doesn't make it lethal.”
“How do you know?” asked Foreman.
“Well I could be wrong,” answered House, “But she doesn't look like she was born yesterday. Something's wrong with her brain, but it hasn't killed her before she had the chance to grow up big enough to become a mail-pony.”
“You're assuming the symptoms didn't start recently,” replied Chase.
“I can usually tell with these things,” said House.
“How?” asked Foreman.
At the sound of House's shout, a bright pink earth-pony mare with a mess of even pinker hair and a cutie mark like three balloons stopped on her way down the street. At a gesture from House she bounced over to him, grinning like a clown.
“Ohmygosh! Are you new in town?!”
“Do you know this pony?” asked House, pointing to the pegasus-pony mare he'd been examining.
“Of course! That's Ditzy! Do you know her?! Well I guess you don't since you had to call me over just to ask …”
“See?” said House, tuning the earth-pony out as he turned toward Chase and Foreman, “That's 'Ditzy'.”
Chase just looked down at the ground while Foreman sighed, rolling his eyes. House had turned back to the earth-pony, who hadn't stopped talking for even a second.
“ … So then I asked Twilight Sparkle if she wanted to hear this joke and –”
“Here's a joke a for you,” said House, “Shut up and go away.”
Instantly the earth-pony burst into laughter. In no time at all she was clutching at her sides on the ground, tears streaming down her cheeks as her whole body shuddered with her laughs. One after the other they just kept coming, she kept laughing without even giving herself a chance to breathe. After a few seconds, Chase glanced at Foreman, who was also starting to look sort of uncomfortable. House just kept staring down at the earth-pony at his feet.
“I know that's a good one, but …” said House slowly, “Was it really that funny?”
No answer from the earth-pony on the ground. She'd been laughing like that for almost a minute, and it wasn't slowing down so much as it was getting weaker. The shudders that had shook her body before were now dwindling away to weak spasms, and the sound itself was becoming raspy, but still she kept laughing.
It was about that time Chase noticed something.
“Blue lips,” he said, bending down to take a closer look at the earth-pony, “She's going hypoxic.”
Foreman followed Chase, placing an ear against the earth-pony's chest.
“Tachycardia,” said Foreman, “Her heart's racing....”
House looked up in time to see another pegasus-pony come rushing over, a sky-blue mare with a rainbow-colored mane and a lightening-bolt cutie mark colored to match, concern making her eyes shine.
“What's happening to her?”
“You mean she isn't always like this?” asked House.
“What do you mean?!” snapped the other pegasus-pony, panic taking an edge to her tone, “What did you do to her?!”
She didn't even wait for an answer. The other pegasus-pony bent down next to Chase, whispering soft words to Pinkie Pie while she tried to choke back her tears. House only stood there, watching it all play out in front of him for maybe a moment longer, before he allowed himself a small smile.
He had just one thing to say.
Friendship is Magic featuring House MD
Get Happy : Part Two
Knock knock knock.
“Just a second!”
Knock knock knock knock knock!
“Spike, could you get that?”
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!!!
“Alright! Just hold your …”
Twilight Sparkle opened the front door to her home and lost her voice as her mouth fell open, her eyes going wide to finish off the expression of complete shock she must have felt right at that moment. To this day, there's no telling how long she might have stood there, frozen in what looked a little like awe, if Chase hadn't simply pushed past her.
“Sorry,” he said on his way in, “Sort of a heavy load here....”
Following Chase came Rarity and House, both of their horns ablaze with light under the strain of their magic, which they were using together to float Pinkie Pie through the door. The pink earth-pony's eyes were closed and she wasn't moving, but Twilight Sparkle couldn't even think straight enough to ask a single one of her countless questions before Rainbow Dash darted in after the other two unicorn-ponies, her watery eyes fixed on Pinkie Pie. Twilight Sparkle looked back toward the door just in time to see it shut behind Foreman.
Spike sounded confused as he came to stand beside his boss.
“What's going on? Why are all these ponies putting Pinkie Pie in your bed?”
Twilight Sparkle herself didn't answer, but instead she just looked expectantly at Foreman, her mouth still hanging open a little.
“Your friend is sick,” answered Foreman, “She's going to be alright, but we had to put her out with a standard sleeping spell. Your other friends told us we could bring her here for further examination.”
“What? What's wrong with her?” asked Spike.
“We don't know yet,” answered Foreman, “But she's going to be alright. We're –”
“The Royal Physicians …” Twilight Sparkle finished for him, her voice filled to the brim with a kind of respect Spike had only ever heard her speak to Princess Celestia with.
“Uh … yes,” agreed Foreman.
Twilight Sparkle was just starting to collect some focus again, and she looked like she wanted to say something else, but again she was interrupted – this time not by a knock, but by the door swinging open so suddenly it hit Foreman in the side and slammed him behind itself up against the wall.
“Twilight Sparkle!” shouted Applejack, her green eyes burning with rage, “Ya hear what some good fer nothin' earth-pony did to Flutteryshy jus' a lil' bit ago?”
“Ah don't know his name, Owlicious!” snapped Applejack at the little owl that had flow in to sit on Twilight Sparkle's head, “If ah did, what would ah be doin' here?”
“It was nothing really …” mumbled Fluttershy as she followed Applejack inside. Right then she looked a little more terrified of Applejack than she had been of the earth-pony that had bothered her in town earlier that day.
“Now don't say that, sugarcube,” Applejack carried on, “Ain't NOPONY treats my friends like that an' gits away with it! Why … when ah find that pony he's gonna wish he'd –”
The groan of pain drew everypony's attention back to the door as it slowly swung shut, leaving Foreman crumpled in a dazed heap near the wall. Owlicious had time to blink just once before Applejack noticed his unique cutie mark and sprang forward.
“YOU!” she yelled, murder in her eyes, “Yer the pony that –”
“Applejack!” said Twilight, quickly putting herself between her friend and Foreman, “This is Doctor Foreman, one of Princess Celestia's Royal Physicians!”
“Ah don't care WHO he is, Twilight Sparkle!” seethed Applejack, “Ah already told ya ain't NOPONY treats my friends –”
“You're right,” interrupted House from the top of the stairs leading to Twilight Sparkle's room, his voice calm but weighted with a thinly hidden threat, “Nopony is going to 'treat' your friend if you put a hoof on that pony, so you might want to get out of his way. Your friend needs him right now.”
“Pinkie Pie,” said Rarity, “answering” Owlicious as she came over to stand beside House at the top of the stairs.
“What's wrong with Pinkie Pie?” asked Applejack.
“She couldn't stop laughing in town,” answered Foreman, who was just gathering himself and getting back up, “She would have suffocated if we hadn't been there.”
“Y'all saved Pinkie Pie?” asked Applejack, her hotter emotions dying away to the colder ones like uncertainty and concern.
“Not yet,” answered House, “Foreman. Stop laying around and get up here.”
Without another word Foreman went up the stairs, Spike, Applejack, and Fluttershy following close behind – Twilight Sparkle following even closer than the rest.
Upstairs, Pinkie Pie was tucked away in Twilight Sparkle's bed. She looked fine, in fact, it would have been easy to pretend she was only sleeping, if not for the fact that Rainbow Dash ruined the image by sitting so close to the bed, looking down on her friend with the tear-stained expression of somebody suffering from a slowly breaking heart. House was pacing at the foot of the bed and Rarity had gone back to staring at Chase, who was still examining Pinkie Pie.
The ponies coming up the stairs had plenty of time to settle into the little space around Pinkie Pie before House finally spoke up.
“So what do we know?” he asked without pausing in his pacing.
“Earth-Pony mare collapses on the street,” answered Chase, “uncontrollable laughter leads to asphyxia and tachycardia.”
“Thank you, Chase, for the re-cap of what happened less than twenty minutes ago,” said House, “It was both pointless and wrong. The pathological laughter was a symptom, not the cause of the other two symptoms we saw.”
“The pathological laughter shows brain involvement,” offered Foreman, “add that to cardiovascular involvement and account for the rapid onset … and that suggests toxins.”
“I like it,” answered House, “What flavor?”
“We'd have to run a tox-lab and –”
“No,” interrupted House, “Even if there was time for that, you're making this too complicated. So think. Where have we seen a toxin like this before?”
Foreman opened his mouth and closed it again without saying anything else. The silence that followed dragged on for a painfully long time, broken only by the steady beat of House's pacing and the occasional sniffle from Rainbow Dash's direction. While Twilight Sparkle watched House and Applejack watched Foreman and Rarity watched Chase, Flutteryshy sidled over to Pinkie Pie's bedside and rested a hoof gently on her friend's forehead. In the end, it was Chase who finally had the next idea.
“Foreman's cutie mark story,” he said suddenly.
“I can not believe …” House said, ending his pacing to stop and stare at Foreman, “That Chase actually came up with that before you.”
Foreman could only keep his head down, nodding slowly in shame. Luck was on his side, though, because House didn't seem to be in a mood for games anymore.
He didn't press the issue.
“Has this pony been near any barns or stables recently?” asked House.
It took a minute for anypony to speak up, but soon enough Applejack had an answer.
“Well …” she said, “She was gettin' some apples from the farm jus' a lil' while ago....”
“Near a barn?” asked House.
“Um … yes …” answered Applejack.
“And can you show us which barn?” asked House.
“I reckon I can …” answered Applejack.
“Foreman,” said House, turning to the dark earth-pony, “You're going to the farm to wrassle me up the little varmint that did this. I want him alive. Take Apple-Bottom and your filly-friend over there so the three of you can work out your differences on the way.”
“Now wait jus' a minute here –”
“Chase,” said House, ignoring Applejack, “I've got a grocery list for you. Poison Joke, Luna's Balm, nightcress, and magic mushrooms. You take the two unicorns and get back to me with as much of those things as the three of you can carry.”
“Are we really going to have time for all that, House?” asked Foreman.
“I'm going to make time,” answered House, “If I put the patient on ice, I can probably keep her fresh for another eight hours.”
“You think just slowing down her vitals like that is going to get you another eight hours?” said Foreman, sounding skeptical.
“Want to make a bet?” asked House
“And what about that other pegasus?” asked Chase, nodding in the direction of Rainbow Dash.
House looked over at her. She was sitting the same way she had since they'd first put Pinkie Pie in the bed. If she even noticed what was going on around her, she didn't react to it. She never took her eyes away from Pinkie Pie's face, or her hooves off the bed she lay in. Something was keeping Rainbow Dash far away from everypony else, and it would have certainly taken a lot to reach her. House didn't even try.
“Let her stay,” he said quietly.
“Pinkie Pie has a fever,” said Fluttershy.
It was just then that House seemed to really see Fluttershy for the first time. He paused, almost as though distracted by some unexpected thought, and when he did find his voice again, he was smiling a little.
“Fever is consistent with toxic exposure,” he replied.
“I want to stay …” said Fluttershy.
“Well you can't,” said House, as if it were matter of simple fact, “You're on Team Foreman. But don't worry. I'll take good care of Pink-Eye for you.”
“Pinkie Pie,” corrected Rarity.
“Whatever,” replied House.
“Spike,” said Twilight Sparkle, speaking up, “You stay here and make sure Doctor House has everything he needs.”
Spike was starting to look as scared as almost every other pony in the room, but he didn't argue with Twilight Sparkle. In fact, nopony said anything, or moved at all. There was a stillness that had settled in, and House had no patience for it.
“But if you really want to stand around and wait for her to die,” he said dryly, “Then by all means. I could make popcorn and then we could all …”
Nopony stuck around to hear the rest of all that.
“So … uh … Fluttershy, right?”
“Um … yes?”
Her voice was hardly above a squeak.
Walking up the road toward Sweet Apple Acres, Foreman felt as uncomfortable as Flutteryshy looked. She kept her head down and hidden behind her mane, while Applejack walked along on his other side, glaring silently at him since the three ponies had left the Library. It hadn't taken long for Foreman to decide he had to at least try and make some amends, for his sake if nopony else's.
“I just wanted to … apologize … for the way I spoke to you earlier today,” Foreman went on, searching for the right way to explain himself, “It's just … well … when you've been with House for as long as I have … sometimes you can't help … being that way....”
“It's … um … alright …” replied Fluttershy without looking up, “I know you're not a … bad pony … you're helping us … um … make Pinkie Pie better … right?”
“Right,” answered Foreman.
“That's mighty kind of you,” said Applejack. Even though it was a little hard to tell exactly what she meant by that, the way her eyes were softening toward Foreman suggested she wanted to make some amends as well.
“Just doing my job …” said Foreman, smiling, even if a little awkwardly.
Another moment passed in silence – uncomfortable for everypony except Fluttershy, who never minded the silence – before Applejack thought of something else to say.
“So … yer job …” she said slowly, “Twilight said yer a 'Royal Phsycian'. What's that?”
“A doctor that works for House,” explained Foreman.
“And what does workin' fer House have tuh do with anythin' 'Royal'?” asked Applejack.
“House is Princess Celestia's personal doctor,” answered Foreman.
“Yer jokin',” said Applejack, her eyes growing wide.
“Not at all,” said Foreman.
For a minute Applejack wasn't sure she could make herself believe it, but Foreman just didn't have a face anypony could argue with. There was sort of a look of raw honesty about him, something that seemed like it would be right at home on Sweet Apple Acres, and it was enough to make Applejack smile despite herself, just a little.
“Woo-wee ...” she whistled, “And what does a pony have tuh do to be the Princess's personal doctor?”
“I heard he brought a pony back from the dead!”
Twilight Sparkle was prancing around Chase like an excited little filly while he wound his way around the dark trees of the Everfree Forest beside Rarity, who was much too mesmerized by the handsome pegasus-pony to even speak. At the time their saddlebags weren't even half-full with the Poison Joke they'd carefully collected – they still had to find the magic mushrooms before they could leave the Everfree Forest for the meadows just outside Ponyville where Luna's Balm and nightcress grew wild – but Chase didn't seem to be in very much of a hurry. He looked to be enjoying the attention of the two young mares, maybe a little too much.
“That's true,” he said, answering Twilight Sparkle.
“Oh that's so incredible!” gushed Twilight Sparkle, “How did he do it? Did he use magic?”
“I wasn't there, so I couldn't tell you,” admitted Chase, “I was just a little colt at the time. I know it's true, though, because that's how House got his job.”
Twilight Sparkle didn't even look disappointed that she hadn't gotten the answer she'd asked for. Her eyes were aglow with the dreamy admiration that ponies only hold for their personal heroes. She was away in her own quiet contemplation of House for all of about a minute before she snapped out of it with another question.
“So how did you get your job?”
“I used to live with my parents in New Colt City, and back then I spent almost every summer with my cousin down south. One summer, I got bit by a corral snake while we were out playing.
The first symptom that presents with corral snake venom is giddiness, but if you've ever seen a colt playing outside in the summertime, you can understand how it can be hard to notice that first symptom. About twenty minutes after the bite, the venom reached my brain, causing uncontrollable laughter and a heart attack.
Nopony was around except my cousin, and he ran to get help. By the time he found somepony, though, I was already gone. Technically, I'd been dead for eight minutes. I had some real luck on my side that day, though, because the pony my cousin found was House. He brought me back … saved my life.
That was the day I got my cutie mark. I didn't see House again for awhile after that. I went home to New Colt City, but by Fall that same year my parents got a letter from House, offering to take me on as his personal student. I went to live with him in Canterlot, and … well … here we are.”
Foreman finished his story as they took their first steps on to Sweet Apple Acres. The sun was starting to sink lower into the golden sky, so that the long rays stained the undersides of the clouds a pale pink. Underneath it all the apple-tree fields stretched out for miles in every direction, their fresh apples shining in the deep green of the leaves like half-hidden rubies. Foreman looked like he would have stopped to admire it, if not for Applejack, who didn't miss a hoof-step on her way to the barn.
“I jus' can't believe anypony could … do somethin' like that ...” said Applejack, ahead of Foreman and Fluttershy. She lead them all down a winding dirt road to an old red barn at one edge of the farm. “To bring a pony back from the dead....”
“Let's just hope he doesn't have to prove he can do it,” said Foreman.
Applejack nodded slowly.
“So now he reckons the same thing happened to Pinkie Pie?”
“It looks that way,” answered Foreman.
“Um … excuse me?”
Foreman glanced over at Fluttershy, who began to blush again right away.
“I … um … I just wanted to ask what it was like?”
“Excuse me?” asked Foreman.
“Um …what was it like being dead?”
“She wants to know what it was like,” said Applejack.
“Being dead?” asked Foreman.
“Um … yes,” answered Fluttershy, “What was it like?”
“It was fantastic! I've been trying to do it again ever since the first time it happened!”
The sun had just set over Ponyville by the time Chase, Twilight Sparkle, and Rarity were on their way back into town, their saddlebags stuffed to bursting with the plants they'd gathered. The sky had slid into its many sleepy shades of dark violet, and like the glittering stars scattered above, the fireflies had come out to dance their way through the cool, sweet scented summer night. A symphony of crickets provided the music for the performance, and in the distance against the black silhouette of the town candles began to flicker to life in windows, one by one.
“Do you mean for me to actually believe,” laughed Rarity, “That the first pony you ever kissed was none other than Princess Celestia herself?”
“Of course,” replied Chase with a grin, “That's how I got my cutie mark.”
“Darling,” said Rarity, shaking her head but smiling nonetheless, “Now I know that simply isn't true!”
“Fine,” admitted Chase without losing his grin, “But I had you going there....”
“How did you get your cutie mark, Chase?” asked Twilight Sparkle.
“You don't want to hear about that …” replied Chase, “That story isn't anywhere near as interesting as the one I just told.”
“I'm sure it's still interesting …” insisted Twilight Sparkle.
“Oh yes, please do tell us, Chase,” encouraged Rarity.
“I don't know....”
“Pleeease?” begged both Twilight Sparkle and Rarity together.
“Alright, alright,” said Chase, giving in with a little shrug of his wings, “But don't say I didn't warn you. It's not a very nice story.”
So Chase began the story as Twilight Sparkle and Rarity settled into step with him, the fireflies playing around their hooves as they walked down the road back into town.
“It wasn't long after I became House's second personal student. I was still just a little colt, so young in fact that I had just learned to read when I met … her. Her name was Thirteen Feathers, and I thought she was the most beautiful pegasus-pony I had ever seen in my life, even though she was very sick the first time I saw her. She was one of House's patients. She made it all the way to him because her father was the Cloudsdale representative in Princess Celestia's Royal Court, and no doctor she had seen so far could diagnose her.
Disorientation, uncontrollable flailing, and seizures. Her brain was slowly losing control of her muscles. Not a good situation for anypony, much less a pegasus-pony with dreams of joining the Wonder Bolts. She was so sad … and all I wanted to do was make her smile for me just once. I knew I had to figure out what was making her sick. I had to make her better.
But House thought I was still too little to help much. Foreman got to help with everything, but all I got to do was sit in on the differentials. It drove me mad. I spent every minute I had to myself in the Royal Library, sounding out every twelve-syllable word in every bit of medical reading I could get my hooves on, and I mean everything – from Luna's Anatomy to the Neurotic Neurologist's Notes on Neuropathogens. At night, after House put us to bed, I would stay up with Foreman and hide with him under a blanket, and by candlelight he and I would use this toy chalkboard in our own differentials.
I lost count of the hours I put into that case. Days became weeks and we still weren't in sight of a diagnosis. Sometimes I think even House was getting ready to give up. But then, one morning while I was sitting with him and Foreman in a differential, some of the words House had written up on that board of his suddenly reminded me of something I'd read about somewhere. All at once everything fell into place, it just sort of came together in my head, just like that. I suggested Horsington's Disease, and right away House got that look he gets when something starts to make sense to him. By the end of that day, we confirmed Horsington's Disease, and I had my cutie mark.”
A moment of quiet followed the end of Chase's story, in which only the crickets made any sounds beside hooves hitting the ground. It seemed like the other two ponies were waiting for him to go on, and when he didn't, Rarity just had to ask the question....
“So did you and Thirteen Feathers …”
“Get together?” finished Chase, “No. We never did.”
“But why not?” asked Rarity, sounding surprised and maybe a little frustrated, “How could anypony possibly say 'no' to the doctor that saved her life?”
Chase shrugged and swallowed hard. There was the hint of some emotion clouding his eyes … he didn't seem to really see the road he was staring down at anymore … but when he spoke he kept his voice strong.
“She just … had to move on I guess,” replied Chase, “She told me she thought I was meant for somepony else.”
“Unbelievable …” sighed Rarity, shaking her head slowly, but when she looked up again and noticed the way Chase's wings were hanging at his sides, she smiled for him.
“Oh but please don't take it so hard, darling,” said Rarity, “It really is her loss, after all. A pony like you deserves so much better than that.”
Chase turned his head and looked straight into Rarity's eyes then.
“Well let me know when you find what I deserve,” he said with a little smile.
Rarity was probably thankful for the cover of night. It meant Chase couldn't really see her glance away suddenly, couldn't see the way his sad gaze had touched her. Twilight Sparkle began talking again, changing the subject to more academic matters, and Chase slipped easily back into the stream of lighter conversation.
Rarity remained silent.
The Library was thick with shadows.
Only a hoof-full of candles had been lit for the night.
During the day, House had Spike bring a table and all of Twilight Sparkle's chemistry equipment upstairs, as well as much of her kitchenware. He had made Twilight Sparkle's room into a make-shift laboratory, stocked with an almost random variety of ingredients stolen from all around her home. A beaker filled with some bright green concoction was boiling over a small burner by the time Chase, Twilight Sparkle, and Rarity made it up the stairs with their harvest.
Foreman, Applejack, and Fluttershy were already back, settled in to different spots around the bed. Rainbow Dash looked like she hadn't moved a feather all day.
House looked furious.
“So nice of you to join us,” snapped House as the ponies dropped their saddlebags off by the lab-table, “And I was just starting to think I wouldn't see any of you until your walk of shame tomorrow.”
“We got back as fast as we could, House,” said Chase with a small sigh.
“I don't doubt it,” House shot back, “My mistake for sending you off alone with two mares. I might have had you back sooner.”
Twilight Sparkle only looked confused at the comment, but Rarity's cheeks turned bright red as soon as she heard it. Chase was unfazed.
“Knock it off, House,” replied Chase.
“He's been like this,” said Foreman from his seat beside Applejack, “His leg hurts.”
“My leg always hurts,” muttered House, using his magic to rummage through the plants in the saddlebags.
“How's the patient?” asked Chase, moving over to rest a hoof on Pinkie Pie's damp forehead.
“There isn't a lot to say,” answered Foreman, “Cooling her helped with the fever, but it started rising again as soon as we finished thawing her. I think we're about ready to administer treatment, though....”
“You made it back just in time for the big finale …” said House, lifting the beaker with his magic to bring it to eye-level. He watched the liquid closely against the light of a candle until its bubbling settled. “It doesn't get much better than this....”
“What is that?”
Most everypony in the room jumped a little at the sound of Rainbow Dash's question. In all honesty, most of them had forgotten she was even there. While the rest of the ponies had been busy watching House work, she had finally wrenched her gaze away from Pinkie Pie long enough to take some interest in the beaker. Now everypony had eyes on her, all filled with quiet concern of course – except for House, who was looking at Pinkie Pie the way young colts might look at a firecracker they're going to explode.
“A little bit of this is household stuff,” explained House as he brought the beaker over to Pinkie Pie, taking a seat beside her, “But most of it is pure venom from the corral snake Foreman brought back. It's called 'antivenom'.”
“And that's gonna make her better?” asked Applejack, sounding more than a little uncertain.
“In ten seconds flat,” answered House, using his magic to pull the concoction out of the beaker and coat his horn in it, holding it there so it couldn't drip down his face. Shining through the concoction, the light of his magic turned a sickly green color. It reflected off the worried expressions of every pony in the room.
Pulling down the blankets just enough to expose a foreleg, House bent his horn toward Pinkie Pie. He had almost touched her when a voice made him pause.
“Wait!” said Rainbow Dash, “You're sure this is going to work?”
“Positive,” said House, and then he pricked Pinkie Pie with his horn.
Immediately the liquid surrounding his horn flowed straight to the tip and into the tiny cut he had made. She barely bled at all.
Stepping back, House looked down at Pinkie Pie and began to silently count down from ten. He didn't move. Nopony moved. Not even time seemed to move for what felt like the longest ten seconds in Equestria History.
Then House's horn began to shine again.
“I'm going to wake her now.”
The spell was short, barely more than a pulse of light, and the effects were almost instant. Pinkie Pie's eyes fluttered open. For a hoof-full of heartbeats she looked like she was going to be just fine …
… but then she began to laugh.
It started slow but built up to the shuddering intensity of earlier that day in just seconds. Pinkie Pie clutched at her sides with both hooves, tears of pain streaming from her fear filled eyes. It was all so sudden that Rainbow Dash actually flinched backwards, fear rising in her own eyes. Chase came forward to hold Pinkie Pie by her shoulders.
“Everypony stay calm!” shouted House over the terrible sound of the laughter, “The antivenom's just taking longer to work!”
He seemed to be right. Pinkie Pie's laughs were starting to dwindle away. Her chest kept heaving as each laugh grew quieter and slower, until finally she wasn't laughing at all.
And her chest wasn't heaving.
And she wasn't even breathing.
Foreman was already moving by the time Pinkie Pie's head hit the pillow, her eyes rolling back up into head. He ripped the pillow out from under her, laying her out flat while Chase pulled back the covers. Without missing a moment Foreman climbed on top of Pinkie Pie, placing both hooves on her chest. He began pushing down on her in rhythm, forcing her to breathe. “Paralysis,” said Foreman while he worked to keep Pinkie Pie alive, “It's the antivenom.”
“Did you get the wrong snake?” asked Chase.
“No we didn't get the wrong snake!” snapped Foreman, “What are you doing just standing there?! We've got about a minute before it stops her heart!”
Chase didn't need to be told what to do. He turned and shoved past Rainbow Dash and Rarity to get to the lab-table. While he worked, Twilight Sparkle and Rarity did their best to hold Rainbow Dash back, who was trying with every ounce of strength she had to get to Pinkie Pie.
“House!” said Foreman, “I need you ready to push one horn of antielapidico! Stat!”
Through it all, Rainbow Dash just kept shouting the same thing over and over.
“What's happening to her?! What's happening to her?!”
No matter how many times she asked the question, House only had one answer.
“I don't know.”
Friendship is Magic featuring House MD
Get Happy : Part Three
Pinkie Pie was stable, resting quietly again in Twilight Sparkle's bed.
Rainbow Dash was unconscious, slumped over on the floor nearby.
After helping Foreman and Chase get the medicine in Pinkie Pie, House had put Rainbow Dash out with another quick sleeping spell. He didn't need any hysterical ponies where he was going.
It hadn't been hard to heard the rest of the ponies back down the stairs from Twilight Sparkle's room and into the study. Of course Foreman and Chase knew the routine, but everypony else was probably just too shaken by what they'd seen to say anything. Nopony – not even Applejack – put up any kind of fight when House had all the ponies take a seat together on the floor around a chalkboard covered in astronomic equations and other notes on the meteor shower that had taken place not so long ago.
House grabbed the eraser with his magic and wiped the board clean. Twilight Sparkle didn't say a word as her hard work ceased to exist. Everypony was dead quiet. There was only one sound in the Library and that was the chalk against the board, until House finished writing down what they knew.
“Differential diagnosis …” he said, turning around to face the ponies on the floor, “Go.”
“What if the pathological laughter is –”
“Ah ah ah,” House interrupted Chase, “Give a new pony a chance to play.”
But House didn't wait for anypony to volunteer.
In fact, he seemed to already have a pony in mind.
“You,” he said, pointing the chalk at Fluttershy, “Differential diagnosis.”
“M-me?!” squeaked Fluttershy, her eyes wide.
Almost right away Fluttershy began to tremble, but whether that was simply stage-fright or just because of the way House was staring at her … well … it was hard to tell.
“Um … oh my … well …” she struggled, unsure what to say, “Wh-what does 'differential diagnosis' mean?”
“You lose,” replied House without wasting another second, “Next?”
Twilight Sparkle raised her hoof.
“What've you got for me?” asked House, turning around so he'd be ready to write whatever Twilight Sparkle was about to say up on the board.
“Well,” said Twilight Sparkle, “I read in Shetland & Gotland's Principals of Immunology that equus can affect both the nervous system and the circulatory system....”
There was the sharp sound of chalk snapping. Both Foreman and Chase turned to stare at Twilight Sparkle at the same time. Chase's mouth was hanging open and even Foreman looked stunned. It took House several seconds to turn back around, but when he did his expression was unreadable. All he could do was stare at Twilight Sparkle, who laughed nervously when the silence stretched on.
“I'm not going to like you at all, am I?” said House at last.
“It's never equus,” said Foreman, cutting Twilight Sparkle's argument short.
“But what about –”
“I've got an idea,” said House, cutting Twilight Sparkle off yet again, “You're a unicorn. You can do magic. How about you go back upstairs and wake your friend up so you can explain to her the many benefits of using her 'indoor voice' when ponies are trying to do doctor stuff?”
Few times in her young life had Twilight Sparkle looked that crushed. She tried to say something else, but her voice caught in her throat. By then tears had sprung to the corners of her eyes. She never was the sort of pony that liked to cry in front of other ponies, though, so she left then without another argument. Hanging her head, she slipped out of the study. Chase watched her go.
“Did you really have to do that?” he asked as soon as she was gone.
“My mother always told me …” replied House, looking for another piece of chalk, “If you have something about equus to say, don't say anything at all.”
House turned around again, a new piece of chalk floating at the ready near the board, but almost nopony was paying attention to him anymore. Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, and even Spike were all staring at the floor. They looked miserable.
Maybe it was because of all the horrible things they'd watch happen to Pinkie Pie.
Maybe it was because House seemed so determined to make them all feel stupid.
Maybe it was because they were just so tired by then.
Whatever the reason, House didn't seem to know or care.
All that was important right then were the results.
So turning around again, he furiously scratched a single word out on the board.
Applejack shuddered just at the sight of the word, and Spike frowned, placing a comforting claw on her side.
“Everypony know what that is?” asked House, tapping the chalk beneath the word he'd just written, “That's what's going to happen to your friend upstairs if I don't hear some good ideas right now.”
“Toxic exposure,” snapped Foreman, “Cardiac dysrhythmia and neurological distress are textbook symptoms for almost all deadly toxins found in nature. Just because it's not snake venom doesn't mean it isn't a naturally occurring toxin.”
“Run the tox-screen,” said House as he wrote the diagnosis up on the board, “Take that white unicorn with you. She can help.”
Both Foreman and Rarity got up to leave.
Chase was ready with the next diagnosis by the time they were gone.
“Hay Fever,” he said, “Lunacy is its signature symptom. If it was in her cingulate cortex as well as her prefrontal cortex, that would cause the laughter, the dysrhythmia, and the fever.”
“We'd usually see euphoria as an early symptom in patients with Hay Fever …” said House, turning back around again to look at Applejack, “Would you say your friend was very, very happy when you saw her at the barn?”
“Um … yes,” admitted Applejack, “But she's kind'a always that way....”
“Well maybe she's always kind'a sick with Hay Fever …” muttered House, writing up Chase's diagnosis on the board, “Go treat for it, Chase.”
Chase didn't need to be told twice, so by the time House turned around again to check who he had left, all he found was Applejack, Fluttershy, and Spike.
House dropped the chalk down by the board.
“What's your name?” he asked, looking again at Fluttershy.
“Um … Fluttershy....”
“What?” asked House.
“It's … um –”
“Fluttershy,” finished Applejack for her friend.
“Okay,” said House, “And you are?”
“Applejack,” she answered.
“Makes sense …” muttered House, “Fluttershy, I want you to go upstairs and get that purple unicorn –”
“Twilight Sparkle,” corrected Applejack.
“– Twilight Sparkle and go find sleeping bags for everypony here,” finished House.
Fluttershy got up to do as she was told, but she stopped on her way back to Twilight Sparkle's room when she heard Applejack's voice.
“Now wait jus' a minute,” said Applejack, standing up as well, “Why in the Hay do we need sleepin' bags for everypony here?”
“Well if you really want to make things interesting we could get sleeping bags for just half the ponies here …” said House, his voice heavy with sarcasm.
“What? No!” replied Applejack, not really getting it, “What ah meant was why d'ya think anypony's sleepin' over?
“Do you want to leave?” asked House, “Because if you do, don't let me stop you. I only need ponies here that care enough about this case to see it through to the end.”
“Oh I'm stayin',” answered Applejack, taking a firm step forward, “But let me tell you somethin', Doctor House. I'm stayin' 'cause Pinkie Pie is my friend – NOT 'cause a some 'case'. Understand?”
“Nope. Not really,” replied House with a little grin.
For a moment Applejack just stood there, glaring at House and probably wrestling with some less than polite words, but there was Fluttershy still in the room and her father had taught her better than that. In the end, she just turned toward the stairs.
“Hmph” snorted Applejack on her way out, “I jus' don't know how such a good pony like Foreman got reared by such a bad pony like you.”
Once Applejack was gone, Fluttershy and Spike were left alone with House, who to their surprise didn't look the least bit hurt by the earth-pony's parting remarks. In fact, House seemed almost confused when he finally noticed them staring up at him, concern filling their eyes.
“Why are you still here?” asked House.
Both Fluttershy and Spike took the hint and left.
Alone, House turned to regard his board. After a moment, he grabbed the chalk with his magic to scrawl something there just above “Hay Fever” next to the word “infection”.
House woke up with his head down on the lab-table, surrounded by the plants and chemicals he'd been mixing when he fell asleep. At first he must not have heard what had woken him up, because all he did was roll over and try to go back to sleep again. When he did hear it, though, he sat up so fast he almost knocked off half of what was on the lab-table.
There was laughter. Not happy laughter. Sick laughter.
The same horrible laughter from yesterday.
Right away House whirled around, but Pinkie Pie was still resting peacefully behind him, Rainbow Dash asleep right there with her. Confusion clouded his blue eyes while House stared at Pinkie Pie, losing precious seconds to his sleepy, pain-addled mind as it tried to make sense of the facts:
He could hear laughter and his patient wasn't laughing.
Then he figured it out.
House practically threw himself down the stairs from Twilight Sparkle's room. He hit the floor hard and started limping as fast as his leg would let him. He was half-way down the stairs to the study when he almost tripped over Applejack.
She looked like she'd been trying to crawl up the stairs, no doubt looking for House. She was soaked in sweat and tears, curled up in a tight little ball against the agony, laughter shaking her from one end to the other. When she saw House coming she started to make some different noises – maybe she was trying to say something – but House couldn't tell and wasn't about to waste time wondering about it.
As soon as he saw her his horn pulsed with light, and just a second after that she relaxed, her eyes fluttering shut while her laughter faded away.
House was still standing on the stairs staring at her, panting under the pressure of his own pain, when Foreman and Chase came up the stairs from the other direction.
“What happened?” asked Chase. Foreman saw Applejack and didn't need to ask.
“W-we …” gasped House, sliding down to rest against the wall while he reached for his bandaged leg, “ … we were … p-playing tag and....”
“When did this happen?” said Foreman, deciding to ask a better question.
“Don't know …” answered House, “Just … heard it. Chase!”
“Got it,” said Chase, already understanding what House wanted. He slipped past the other ponies on the stairs and ran the rest of the way to the lab-table in Twilight Sparkle's room.
“F-Foreman …” said House, “Go … make sure … no … nopony … comes up here … yet....”
Foreman left, back down the stairs the way he came, and House didn't move until Chase came back holding a small leather bag, which he dropped into House's lap.
“Fresh out the beaker,” said Chase.
Opening the bag with his magic, House shook out three small, white cubes, which he dumped into his mouth and swallowed without a second thought. He then closed the bag and used its cord to tie it off around his neck. Sighing, he closed his eyes and waited for the relief to take him.
Chase examined Applejack while House's breathing slowed and became more regular. Not very long at all after Chase finished the examination, House smiled a little and opened his eyes again.
There was something different about House's eyes then. They seemed brighter and yet ... somehow … less focused. Despite all that, he did seem stronger. Without too much trouble, House stood up, hardly even wincing when he put weight back on his bandaged leg.
“Good morning Chase,” he said while carefully stepping over Applejack, “Sleep well?”
House didn't wait for an answer. When he got downstairs he found Foreman standing near the bottom steps, the rest of the healthy ponies gathered around him.
“But why can't we see Applejack right now?”
“You can,” said House, answering Rarity's complaint as all eyes turned on him, “Twilight can, too. In fact, the two of you should go on up there now and shove her in next to Pinkie Pie.”
Between the two unicorn-ponies, it didn't take long to get Applejack into Twilight Sparkle's spacious bed next to Pinkie Pie. Rainbow Dash had woken up when the they brought Applejack upstairs, and by the time House finally finished dragging his leg all the way back up to the lab-table, Foreman and Chase were just finishing their examinations of both ponies.
“Applejack's got a low fever,” reported Foreman.
“And Pinkie Pie's fever hasn't dropped at all,” muttered Chase, “Treatment isn't working.”
“Never said it would,” remarked House, “If it were Hay Fever, we'd all be sick.”
“Well at least you get to be right about us being wrong,” snapped Foreman, “Because since my tox-screen also came back negative for everything we tested, we're back at square one.”
“Not exactly,” said House, “I've got another idea.”
“Great,” sighed Foreman, “Want to share with the rest of the class?”
“Sure,” replied House, “After you take Twilight to go search the barn again and Chase takes White Power –”
“Rarity,” corrected Chase.
“ … to search Pinkie Pie's home,” finished House.
There wasn't any reason to argue or even to say anything else. Foreman and Chase took the stairs, Twilight Sparkle and Rarity following right behind them.
“Um … but …” everypony was well on their way out by the time Fluttershy finally asked the question, “What about breakfast?”
“Good idea,” said House, “You take Spike and search the kitchen for my breakfast.”
Spike might've had something to say to that, but all he did was sigh and go back to the kitchen. There was definitely something different about House that morning.
Even though only two ponies knew what it was …
… everypony could feel it.
“Now … how are you feeling?”
As soon as Fluttershy and Spike had left, House had turned his attention on Rainbow Dash, who was of course still sitting by Twilight Sparkle's bed.
“I'm alright …” muttered Rainbow Dash without looking away from Pinkie Pie and Applejack, “Just sore.”
“Where?” asked House.
“All over,” answered Rainbow Dash, turning then to look at House, “Why?”
“Probably because you've barely moved in the past twenty or so hours …” said House, his voice quiet and distracted, almost like he was talking more for his own sake than for Rainbow Dash.
“No,” said Rainbow Dash, “I mean why are you asking?”
“I'm a doctor,” House's tone was sarcastically sweet as he came out of whatever trance he'd spent the past second or so in, “I ask because I care.”
Limping to Rainbow Dash's side, House placed a hoof beneath her mussed, rainbow-stained bangs, feeling her temperature. Satisfied, he began to run his hooves down her body, searching for any signs of swelling. Rainbow Dash didn't pull away or push him away or even say anything at all. She just sat as still as she could while House examined her.
“You strike me as the 'look but don't touch' type,” remarked House, “This isn't bothering you?”
“I don't care,” replied Rainbow Dash.
“Is it because I'm not pretty like Chase?” asked House.
“You know what you're doing …” said Rainbow Dash, a blush beginning to spread across her cheeks as House took his examination lower.
“You really believe that?” asked House, standing back up, “After the way I … you know … almost killed your friend last night?”
“I've see the way Twilight looks at you,” answered Rainbow Dash.
“Tell me if the pain becomes unbearable,” said House, gently pushing the pegasus-pony's head down so that her chin touched her chest.
“Like a total fan-filly,” explained Rainbow Dash, “And Twilight's the smartest pony I
House released Rainbow Dash's head and moved on to her wings, running a hoof down her back until they snapped suddenly out to their full spread. Carefully, he began to press down on them to test their strength.
“So if you're anywhere near as smart as she thinks you are …” House finished off his examination as Rainbow Dash finished off her point, “Then obviously you know what you're doing.”
House sighed and limped back over to the lab-table to take a seat. He didn't say anything at first, he just looked at Rainbow Dash for a long time, like he lost in his own thoughts. When he did speak, his voice was actually … gentle.
“Rainbow Dash,” said House, “Are you in love with Pinkie Pie?”
Nopony in Ponyville ever looked more sincerely busted than Rainbow Dash did right then. She looked just like a filly that had just been caught with her hoof in the cookie jar – so truly terrified that she even forgot to try and cover for herself for about ten seconds.
“Wha-what?!” she stammered, blushing even harder than she had when House examined her, “Pinkie Pie's my friend and –”
“Do you love her?” repeated House.
For maybe half a minute Rainbow Dash tried to meet House's patient gaze, but she just couldn't last any longer. Looking down at her hooves, she shifted her wings uncomfortably and took a deep, shuddering breath.
“You … you won't … tell anypony … will you?” she asked quietly.
“I examined you, so that makes you my patient,” explained House, “We have doctor-patient confidentiality.”
“So you won't tell anypony?” she asked again.
“I won't,” answered House.
“Pinkie Pie promise?” asked Rainbow Dash, looking up hopefully.
“What now?” asked House, raising an eyebrow.
About a minute after Rainbow Dash had shown him how to “Pinkie Pie promise”, House was popping another one of the small white cubes into his mouth while he held one watering eye shut. Rainbow Dash was finally satisfied, though, and she told him what he wanted to know.
“I've been … in love with Pinkie Pie for kinda a long time,” she explained, “But we haven't been together … y'know … like that for very long. We were still trying to figure out how to tell our friends … or if we even wanted to tell them....”
Rainbow Dash's voice trailed away. She looked down again, rubbing the back of her neck with one hoof. House didn't say anything. Rainbow Dash seemed like she was almost waiting for him to say something … maybe like how wrong it was or how disgusting it was … but when he didn't, she just had to look back up at him. That's when she noticed him sitting there with the biggest grin on his face, staring at her like a cat staring at a bird. Rainbow Dash didn't like it at all.
“What?” she asked.
“You have sexually transmitted neurosyfillys,” said House.
“What?” said Rainbow Dash again, “But I feel fine!”
“You have the disease,” explained House, “But it's not making you sick because pegasi can only be carriers. Even if you don't get sick, though, you can still get another pony sick. Like your filly-friend there.”
“But ...” Rainbow Dash glanced over at Pinkie Pie and then back at House, “Why aren't all my friends sick?”
“Some diseases can only be caught by ponies that are close 'like that',” explained House, “You probably gave it to her while you two were having 'fun'.”
There was probably no way either House or Rainbow Dash could have known how much they were misunderstanding one another that morning. While House sat in smug satisfaction that he'd solved just another case, Rainbow Dash could hardly believe that she'd gone all this time without ever really realizing the medical dangers involved in pranking other ponies with her lover. It was a misunderstanding that was about to cause considerable problems for everypony.
“So if I gave it to Pinkie Pie …” said Rainbow Dash slowly, “How did Applejack get it?”
House smiled. This was, absolutely, his favorite part of the job – where he would reveal the crowning piece of the puzzle that completed his 'brilliant' diagnosis.
“Simple,” he said, “Pinkie Pie cheated on you.”
Friendship is Magic featuring House MD
Get Happy : Part Four
Ponyville was still quiet by the time Chase and Rarity came in sight of Sugarcube Corner.
The pale morning light hadn't warmed the cool, damp air enough to bring anypony outside yet. The only sounds were the songs of early birds as they played along the rooftops and on the empty streets.
“You've got to be kidding …” Chase's voice sounded louder somehow in the stillness, “She lives in a bakery?”
“Yes. Why?” asked Rarity, glancing nervously at Chase, “Is something the matter?”
“Depends on if House is right or not,” said Chase, trying his best to sound reassuring again after letting his bed-side manner slip like that, “It could just be nothing.”
But Rarity wasn't in the right mood to be played off so easily.
“What do you mean by that?” she asked, her eyes already round with fear.
Chase's answer came with a small sigh.
“I just wouldn't want to find a toxin or contagion where other ponies eat....”
It didn't take a Royal Physician to notice how shaken Rarity was by the condition Applejack had been found in. The poor unicorn-pony had spent practically the whole morning jumping at every stray shadow and strange sound. It had been one thing when only Pinkie Pie was sick and some strange poison seemed to be to blame, it was something entirely else when whatever had wasted Pinkie Pie could spread to Applejack …
… or any other pony....
Rarity shuddered just at the thought, and Chase took a step closer to her, extending a wing to rest comfortingly across her back. Right away Rarity looked over at Chase, who was forcing a smile for her sake, but just as quickly she had to look away to hide the blush she could feel rising in her cheeks.
She just still couldn't meet those wonderful eyes....
Chase took his wing away when they reached the door to Sugarcube Corner. First he tried the handle, and of course it was locked. Taking a few steps back, Chase bent his neck to look over the windows on the second floor. All the while Rarity watched him, her head tilted to one side as she tried to make sense of what she was watching.
“Whatever are you doing, Chase?” asked Rarity after awhile.
“Looking for a window I can use to get in,” he said.
“But the door was locked!” Rarity looked like she could hardly make herself even say it, “You'd be … trespassing!”
“Believe me,” replied Chase without looking away from the windows, “House isn't going to be happy if we go back because the door was locked.”
“But he can't possibly mean for you to invade somepony's privacy like that!”
Chase glanced back at Rarity, an eyebrow quirked at what she had just said. Here was a pony who obviously knew absolutely nothing about House. And there wasn't really time to explain it all right then and there....
“If it bothers you that much,” said Chase, giving his wings a few good flaps to get the blood flowing, “You can just wait outside.”
Had it been any other pony, Rarity might have done that. This was Chase, though, and even if nopony noticed it then, there was already a connection between the white unicorn and the golden pegasus that would work as well as any leash. He could have dragged her anywhere. No, waiting outside wasn't even an option.
“Just a moment!” Rarity rushed forward just before Chase had a chance to leap, “I have a better idea!”
Going back up to the door, Rarity bent her horn to the keyhole. There was the smallest glimmer of light and a soft click, and then Rarity pushed the door open. When she turned back around again, Chase was staring at her with wide eyes, his wings stretched out in shock. He didn't move until Rarity glanced down at her hooves nervously.
“How did you do that?” he asked on his way through the door. The notes of respect resonating in his voice were enough to send shivers of delight down her back.
“Oh it was nothing …” replied Rarity, “Twilight may know a bit more about magic, but my career in fashion has taught me a certain measure of … dexterity.”
Chase didn't have anything to say to that. By the time Rarity had finished speaking, he was already well inside. Staring into the shadows that filled Sugarcube Corner, Rarity looked almost desperate to follow, but still something held her hooves at the door. She stood there a hoof-full of seconds, trembling just like Fluttershy, before finally after one deep breath, she ran in after Chase.
Maybe she shouldn't have run, because almost as soon as she was inside she tripped on a chair, and she went clattering down to the floor with it, landing in a heap.
“What the Hay?!” hissed Chase, sticking his head up from behind a counter, “Rarity! Be quiet!”
“I … I'm so sorry!” whispered Rarity, tears glinting in her eyes.
By the time she was on her hooves again and had the chair in its place, she was back to trembling. Her eyes darted from one place to the next like she was trying to keep watch on the air itself. Her breath was slow and shallow, almost like she was trying to breathe as little as possible. It wasn't long before she was beside Chase, practically pressing against him and, of course, making it very hard for him to search the kitchen.
“You know? This isn't working,” whispered Chase after bumping into Rarity for at least the seventh time, “If I'm going to do this job right, I'm going to need some personal space.”
Rarity just nodded and gave him the personal space he needed, even thought it was probably going to drive her into a panic. You couldn't blame him, though. It was still very dim and he was focused on other things. Chase just didn't see the terror behind the tears in Rarity's eyes. After awhile the silence just got to be too much, and Rarity had to say something.
“What … what precisely are you doing … Chase?”
Rarity even managed a little smile for the pegasus-pony she had her eye on, but he was too busy shoving his head under the sink to notice.
“I'm looking for toxic mold,” came his muffled answer to the question.
In an instant Rarity was on the other side of the kitchen, as far away as she could get from Chase and the toxic mold he was looking for. Unfortunately, she moved too fast again, and this time she slammed her rear painfully into the counter on the other side of the kitchen. Taken by surprise, Rarity shrieked and whirled on the counter that had touched her. Backing away, slowly this time, from the counter, she was at her wits end by the time she felt something brush against her back....
“Rarity what –”
At least she had the good sense not to scream this time. Instead, Rarity just shrunk away from Chase's comforting wing, crying quietly without a word. For a moment Chase was too confused by what he was seeing to do anything but stare. When he did try to take a step toward Rarity, she stepped back, shaking her head.
“No!” she hissed, “Don't you come near me!”
“Rarity I –”
“Was it under there?!” she interrupted, “Was that … mold … under there?!”
“No … it wasn't …” whispered Chase slowly, “Under the sink was clean.”
That was all Rarity had to hear. She was back beside Chase so fast he almost fell over. She buried her head in his neck, her tears running down his shoulder while she sobbed silently there with him. He looked like he had no idea why any of this was happening, but he didn't let it stop him from draping his wings gently over her shoulders.
“Oh Chase …” After a moment, Rarity started to whisper between sobs, “It's here isn't it? Whatever awful thing did … that … to Pinkie Pie and Applejack … it's in here with us! We're next, aren't we? It's going to get us next! Just … one at a time it will get us all until there's nopony left and …”
A fresh round of tears drowned whatever was left of what Rarity had to say, but Chase had heard enough to finally make some sense of things. Still, he waited for Rarity to have her cry and calm down a little before he tried to say anything at all.
“Rarity …” Chase's voice was firm but gentle, “There is nothing here that is going to 'get' you.”
“But … but … y-you said …” whimpered Rarity, “There could be a … toxin or … a contagion … here with us....”
“Yes, I said there could be,” replied Chase, lying only as much as a good doctor should, “But that doesn't mean there is. And even if there is something to find here, that does not mean you or me or anypony else is going to get sick.”
Then Chase placed a hoof beneath Rarity's chin, and gently lifted her head until he could look down into her big, blue eyes and brush the tears back from her blushing cheeks.
“If there is something here to find,” finished Chase, “That would only mean everypony is going to get better.”
Staring up into Chase's eyes, smoldering like pools of molten gold in the morning light, Rarity began relax into the warmth she found there beneath those pegasus feathers. Slowly she let her face fall against his hoof, and while she watched the faintest blush appear over his face, she felt herself filled with a feeling she needed to share.
“Chase … I … I've never been afraid of anything …” Rarity said softly, still sniffling, “… not … really anyway. I was never afraid of the dark or the Boogie Pony or anything silly like that … but …”
Rarity had to swallow hard once.
“I've always been afraid of sickness,” she went on, her voice starting to crack, “The very idea of decay … rotting from the inside out … just the thought of my beautiful body slowly withering away like that … oh, I just couldn't stand it! I –”
Chase brought his face closer to hers just as Rarity looked like she was about to begin crying again, and although his voice was filled with compassion, it carried a conviction that seemed to surprise both ponies.
“I need you to stop crying now,” said Chase quietly, “I can't think when I'm watching you cry. When I see you like that I feel … I don't know. But I do know that, if I could just clear my head for a minute, there's no disease I couldn't cure for you. So if you just stop crying, I promise I can and will keep you safe. I promise you....”
By the time his voice trailed away, both ponies' hearts were beating fast enough to dizzy their heads and do away with their doubts. The moment became a momentum, pushing the two ponies closer together than they ever had been before. Slowly, without anymore words, the distance between them began to disappear, and as their lips were just about to touch …
… the lights suddenly came on.
“What in Celestia's wide world is happening here?!”
Before anypony could so much as blink, Chase and Rarity were standing apart again, both blushing at least a baker's dozen shades of red between them. They had been caught by Mr Cake, who had just come down from the top of the stairs, probably to find out what Rarity's scream had been about.
“Rarity? What are you …” Mr Cake looked understandably confused at first, but a second glance at the broken open door brought the anger into his voice, “Rarity, who is this pegasus-pony? And WHAT is he doing in my bakery?”
“Sweet-Ums?” a new voice called down from somewhere back up the stairs, “Who is it?”
“It's just Rarity, Honey-Bun!” Mr Cake called back, “With some pegasus-pony!”
“Well what are they doing down there?”
“That's what I want to know!”
Mr Cake turned a glare on Rarity, who was staring down at her hooves in shame. She was still trying to think of a way to explain herself when Chase stepped forward.
“Excuse me sir,” he said, “I'm Doctor Chase, Second Royal Physician to Her Majesties Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. I'm sorry for the intrusion, but it had to be done.”
Mr Cake frowned.
“Why?” he asked, not sounding at all convinced, but at least listening for an explanation.
“You know Pinkie Pie?” asked Chase.
“Of course,” answered Mr Cake, “What does she have to do with any of this?”
“Mr Cake,” said Chase, “There's something I need to tell you and your wife.”
Just minutes later, everypony was sitting around a table, while everypony except Rarity sipped at steaming cups of coffee. Rarity, of course, refused to touch any food in the place. Still, despite the story Chase had to tell and the risks it implied, Mrs Cake had insisted on brewing a pot for Sugarcube Corner's unexpected guests. Chase was just finishing his cup off when Mrs Cake finally asked the question that three of the greatest minds in Equestria still hadn't answered.
“But is the poor dear going to be alright?”
“If we can find what was making her sick? Absolutely,” replied Chase, deciding not for the first time that day that 'bed-side manner' meant never having to admit you didn't know if the patient was really going to pull through.
“Maybe you want to take a look in her room then,” said Mr Cake, putting down his cup, “I can take you up there if you like.”
“Sure! That'd be great!” Chase got up, glancing over at Rarity, “You know you don't have to come if you don't want to. You want to wait down here?”
Like he needed to ask....
After showing Chase to the door of Pinkie Pie's room, Mr Cake left him alone there with Rarity. Right away Chase went to the windows, to check the wood around the frame for any mold. Rarity watched him work from a safe spot near the door, a small smile gracing her still somewhat frightened features.
“It's almost as if you've done this before …” said Rarity softly.
“I have,” Chase stepped over to the shelves next to the windows, “Almost every time House gets a case, he has us search the places the patient probably caught the condition from.”
“But aren't you ever afraid that you'll get sick too?” asked Rarity.
“Actually …” replied Chase as he took his search down to the space beneath Pinkie Pie's bed, “I never really thought about it....”
“But if you're looking for what made the patient sick,” said Rarity, “Surely you must be at least a little worried it will make you sick when you find it....”
“I'm thinking about it now,” admitted Chase as he got up to go over to the bathroom, “And I'm still not bothered.”
Rarity's smile brightened at that, her gaze gleaming with admiration.
“You are so brave....”
In Pinkie Pie's bathroom, Chase checked over the sink and floor tiles but didn't see anything that caught his interest. He turned his attention toward the large bathtub, and the alligator sitting down in it.
“Oh!” shouted Chase, jumping back in surprise.
Gummy blinked twice, snapping out of his stupor when he saw Chase.
“Oh wow....” By that time Chase was already backing slowly toward the door.
Gummy only had to hiss once, and that was enough.
Chase ran out of there, practically screaming.
Friendship is Magic featuring House MD
Get Happy : Part Five
Freestyle Fiasco would like to thank ButterScotchSundae for the story that not only inspired the “Swayback Mountains”, but also helped inspire his love for pony-fiction.
Ponyville was still quiet by the time Foreman and Twilight Sparkle came in sight of Sweet Apple Acres.
The farm itself, on the other hoof, was already coming alive.
The day was hardly past dawn.
The weak, watery sunlight was just starting to slant in from over the Swayback Mountains far off in the distance, catching in the morning dew that made the apple orchards shimmer in the mist that shrouded them. That mist was thick with the sweet smell of fresh apples, carried over on a cool, damp breeze that ruffled the manes of both dark ponies standing at the gate.
Out there in front of them, in the orchards and fields, the Apple Family was well into their work: some ponies were bucking the orchards, other ponies were tending the fields, one particularly huge red stallion was dragging a wagon every bit as huge as himself, weighted down with apples of course, over toward the barn Foreman had visited with Applejack just the day before.
It made sense to try and get the day's jobs done before the sweltering summer sun had risen enough to make things uncomfortable, but Foreman was obviously still impressed by the early-to-rise attitude he was greeted with on the farm. He might have stood there and watched the work a little longer if Twilight Sparkle hadn't been so eager to start.
“Alright,” said Twilight Sparkle, confidence coming back into her tone since she'd lost the disheartened demeanor House had saddled her with the night before, “Just tell me which barn you searched yesterday, and I'll go search it today.”
“Whoa,” Foreman quirked an eyebrow at Twilight Sparkle, “I don't remember House telling you to search anything. How about I search the barn and you stay out of my way.”
That said, Foreman started toward the barn, but he didn't get very far before Twilight Sparkle got in front of him.
“Doctor Foreman, please,” said Twilight Sparkle, her voice starting to take an edge of desperation, “You already get to work with House whenever you want, but I need this second chance he gave me to prove I can pass his test!”
Foreman stopped right there in his tracks.
“What did you say?” He looked like he wasn't sure he'd heard her right.
“I said I need –”
“No,” interrupted Foreman, “What makes you think House is 'testing' anypony?”
“You know,” replied Twilight Sparkle, hurt welling up in her eyes, “I'm smart too, and I've taken enough tests in Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns to know when somepony is testing me.”
Foreman didn't say anything right away. For a minute he just stared at Twilight Sparkle, silently debating something with himself, like maybe he wanted to lie. In the end, he just shook his head and sighed.
“Fine,” said Foreman, “But what makes you think he gave you a second chance?”
“Well, I thought I failed last night when I tried to diagnose equus,” admitted Twilight Sparkle, brightening just a bit at the chance to talk about her theory, “But then this morning, he picked me to go with you instead of Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash. Fluttershy didn't know what a differential diagnosis was – so she failed – and Rainbow Dash wasn't even there. So I thought that, maybe, since everpony failed the test, he was giving me and Rarity a second chance....”
“That could be true,” said Foreman after thinking about it for a second, “Unless House just wanted to get two ponies he doesn't like out of the way while he tests this new idea of his with his actual favorite.”
“Fluttershy?” asked Twilight Sparkle, her eyes wide with envy.
“Himself,” answered Foreman, stepping around Twilight Sparkle so he could start walking toward the barn again, “Trust me, House doesn't like any of you.”
Two emotions flickered through Twilight Sparkle's gaze as she watched Foreman go, and for just a second she seemed like she might lose that confidence she'd walked on to the farm with. Confidence won out over doubt, though, and Twilight Sparkle galloped ahead to catch up with Foreman.
They were hardly half-way to the barn when another little pony came after them.
She was easy to miss at first, on account of being so small. She was just barely above Foreman's knees, with a wild red mane draped over her huge orange eyes, every bit as bright as the sun. She was missing her cutie mark, but none of her young spirit. She caught up to Foreman and Twilight Sparkle in no time.
“Twilight!” she yelled as she bounced up beside the unicorn-pony.
“Oh! Hello Apple Bloom!” said Twilight Sparkle when she finally noticed the little filly, forcing a smile that was supposed to look better than she felt, “How are you this morning?”
“Ahm fine,” replied Apple Bloom, “Who's yer friend?”
“This is Doctor Foreman,” said Twilight Sparkle.
“It's a pleasure to meet you young lady,” said Foreman.
“Likewise ahm sure …” Although Apple Bloom minded her manners, she seemed a little bothered by something – something she wasn't shy about taking up with Twilight Sparkle, “Hey Twilight … y'all hadn't seen Applejack around, had ya? She didn't come home last night and she's not here doin' her mornin' chores and ahm startin' to git mighty worried....”
Twilight Sparkle didn't answer right away, but instead glanced over at Foreman with a silent question in her gaze, which she got a silent answer to when Foreman nodded a second later.
“Apple Bloom,” Twilight Sparkle was careful to keep her tone steady as she looked back down at Applejack's sister, “Your sister is a little sick right now, so she slept over at my home. Don't worry, though. Doctor Foreman is here to make sure she gets better in no time at all!”
“Why's he here, though?” asked Apple Bloom, not looking convinced in the least, “Why isn't he with Applejack? An' what's she got anyway? Is it bad?”
“It's … nothing you should be worried about,” answered Twilight Sparkle, trying to keep the conversation calm, “Doctor Foreman just wanted to take a look around the barn to see if he could find what made Applejack sick in the first place.”
“Which barn?” asked Apple Bloom.
“That one,” answered Foreman, pointing to the barn he and Twilight Sparkle had been on their way to.
“Well why in tarnation would ya look over there?” asked Apple Bloom, staring at Foreman like he was stupid, “Applejack ain't but hardly been at that barn!”
“Then could you show us where she spends most of her time?”
Apple Bloom was more than happy to take Foreman over to the farm-house. Along the way, Twilight Sparkle kept her talking, so that by the time they came to the door, Apple Bloom had all but forgotten her troubles.
“Well here we are!” Apple Bloom was grinning, no doubt glad to have a chance to help, “The place Applejack spends most a her time: at her home!”
“Makes sense,” said Foreman.
“What are you ponies gonna do now?” asked Apple Bloom eagerly, “Maybe ah can –”
“Thanks Apple Bloom,” Twilight Sparkle cut in, “But I think we can handle it from here. Why don't you go play?”
“But Twilight!” whined Apple Bloom, “I want to help make mah sister better!”
“That's …” Twilight Sparkle had to think for a second, “ … a great idea! You could go over to the Library and see how she's feeling!”
Nopony seemed to notice Foreman silently put a hoof to his face and slowly shake his head.
“Ah could?” asked Apple Bloom, starting to sound excited.
“Of course!” answered Twilight Sparkle with a smile, “Maybe the other doctor there will let you help take care of her!”
“Like do doctor stuff?!” By then Apple Bloom looked like she couldn't even believe her luck, “Oh thank you thank you thank you Twilight! This could be our big chance to get cutie marks! Ah'll go get the others!”
Apple Bloom was gone before Foreman could blink and Twilight Sparkle even had enough time to raise a hoof to stop her. They were left in the dust watching the little filly gallop off in the direction of town, silently until Foreman finally said something.
“That was some impressive bed-side manner,” he said.
“You really think so?” asked Twilight Sparkle, looking a little hopeful.
“Yeah,” answered Foreman, nodding, “I especially liked the part where you convinced an innocent filly to go spend time with House and bring her friends. That should be an educational experience for everypony involved. It's just too bad you have to miss it.”
“Do you think they'll be alright?” Twilight Sparkle's face fell as she realized what she'd accidentally doomed Apple Bloom and the other Cutie Mark Crusaders to.
“No,” said Foreman, “Now show me where Applejack's bedroom is.”
Up a flight of creaky stairs and just down the hall was the door to Applejack's bedroom. Behind that door was the kind of clutter you'd expect from a pony who spent almost all her time outside. Even with the window drapes drawn, in that dim light, anypony could see that Applejack had brought her work home with her. There were a few pairs of muddy boots shoved into one corner, while a pulling collar crusted over with dirt hung from the edge of the unkempt bed. In fact, there was probably enough soil scattered around the room to start an indoor garden, and if certain species of mold had started growing in that garden …
… Foreman had a lot to look through.
He didn't waste any time. Neither did Twilight Sparkle. Foreman hadn't even touched a thing in the room before she spoke up, eager as ever.
“Can I help?”
“Pull those drapes back so I can see what I'm doing,” said Foreman.
Twilight Sparkle did as she was told. With the sunlight streaming right in through the window, it was even more apparent that Applejack hadn't cleaned in at least a century. It was like she was raised in a barn or something....
“Anything else I can help with?” asked Twilight Sparkle.
“I don't think so,” answered Foreman.
But Twilight Sparkle wasn't going to be put down easy like that.
“There has to be something I can do,” she insisted.
“This isn't something I can afford to screw up,” replied Foreman.
The message behind that wasn't hard to hear, and it hurt. To her credit, Twilight Sparkle held back the tears that wanted to sneak out around the corners of her eyes. She swallowed once and stayed strong by keeping faith in her filly-hood heroes. There was no way they'd want to be mean for no real reason, they were just being careful about which ponies they could let help.
That had to be it … and all she had to do was find a way to prove herself....
“You know, I wouldn't 'screw up' if you would just teach me,” said Twilight Sparkle, careful to keep her tone calm and courteous.
“I can't 'teach you' ten years of medical training fast enough for you to know what to look for here,” came Foreman's blunt answer, muffled by the closet he was busy searching.
“I'm a fast learner,” argued Twilight Sparkle, “I was Princess Celestia's personal student by the time I turned eight.”
“Yeah,” said Foreman, unimpressed, “I was House's personal student before I was seven.”
“I saved Ponyville from an Ursa Minor!”
“Why do you want to prove yourself to him?” asked Foreman, finally turning around to face Twilight Sparkle, “It sounds to me like you've already achieved enough in your life.”
“I want to pass his test,” answered Twilight Sparkle.
“Why?” said Foreman, sounding like he was getting just a touch frustrated with the girl, “You don't even know what happens if you pass!”
Right away Foreman could tell he was going to regret saying that. He could see the way the young unicorn-pony's eyes lit right up when it finally crossed her mind that there might be some sort of reward for passing the test. True to his own suspicions, Foreman hadn't even turned back around before Twilight Sparkle was asking him about it.
“What happens if you pass?”
“Nothing you'd be interested in,” replied Foreman.
“I'm interested,” insisted Twilight Sparkle, “That's why I'm asking.”
“Do you smell that?” said Foreman suddenly, glancing around. Without waiting for an answer, he turned and went back to the dresser, pulling open some drawers and shoving the clothes inside around as he looked for the … something.
Twilight Sparkle was surprised by the change of topic for a second, but then she sniffed tentatively. It was there – faint, but unmistakable – the scent of something sweet.
Moving around the room, sniffing here and there as he went, Foreman's search took a few minutes to lead him to Applejack's bed. At first he knelt down to check the space underneath, but when he didn't find anything that could explain the smell, he followed his nose up top to the bedding itself.
Twilight Sparkle watched him then pull the covers right off the bed. Foreman stared down at what he found there, his head tilting to one side in quiet curiosity.
Before more than a few heartbeats had passed between the two ponies, Twilight Sparkle's own curiosity got the better of her, and she stepped quietly over to Foreman's side.
“Does Applejack usually sweat that much?” he asked.
“She does work hard … but …” she answered slowly, “I don't know....”
The bedding beneath the covers was soaked through with what looked like sweat stains. Bending over close to the dark spots, Foreman sniffed cautiously.
“Tell me what that smells like to you,” he said as he stood back up again.
Twilight Sparkle started to do as she was told, but stopped when a sudden idea hit her. Straightening back up, she couldn't help but smile just a little as she glanced at Foreman out of the corner of her eye and played her brand new ace.
“Only if you tell me what happens if you pass.”
Foreman just rolled his eyes, sighed once, and folded right there.
No doubt holding down a joyful squeal of triumph, Twilight Sparkle sniffed at the bed and stood back up with her answer and a whole lot of confusion.
“It smells like …” Twilight Sparkle knew what she was thinking, she just didn't know why she was thinking it, “It smells like Pinkie Pie.”
“Exactly what I was thinking....”
By the time Twilight Sparkle turned ask Foreman why he'd be thinking anything like that in the first place, he was already through the door and running back down the stairs. Twilight Sparkle had to tear out of there just to keep up, yelling at Foreman while she ran.
“Foreman! You said –”
The answer he yelled back at her almost stopped her heart.
“House is looking for his Third Royal Physician!”
Friendship is Magic featuring House MD
Get Happy : Part Six
“What'cha got there?”
House had been so distracted by the book he was reading that he didn't even notice Chase and Rarity were right beside him until just then. Not much had changed since they left. House was still sitting at the lab-table with his two patients in bed near at hoof, although it was Fluttershy who was keeping watch by them, not Rainbow Dash. Spike was nowhere to be found, and House just couldn't be bothered. He didn't look up from the book when he answered Chase.
“It's called a 'book',” he said, tone sharpened by sarcasm.
“Slumber 101,” answered House, “All You've Ever Wanted to Know About Slumber Parties but Were Afraid to Ask.”
“I am afraid to ask …” muttered Chase.
“I thought it might have something to do with lesbian pony sex,” explained House while idly turning a page, “Which I suspect is somehow related to this case.”
Chase glanced at Fluttershy when he heard a small squeak come from her direction. At the mention of “lesbian pony sex”, her innocent gaze – widened with shock – had shot up to House. She was holding a hoof over her mouth, only half hiding a blush every bit as red as Rarity's. Chase could only roll his eyes.
“You know something,” said Chase.
“Probably,” House finally closed the book and slid it aside so that he could give Chase his complete attention, “But first, tell me what you found at Chuckle's place.”
“I found what's making her sick,” said Chase with a grin.
“She has an alligator.”
“Excellent” said House, “So how do they treat for 'alligator' Down Unduh? Is there a medicine for that or do we need to find a really long pole and a –”
“Neighgleria” interrupted Chase, “Explains all the symptoms.”
“But not how Applejack caught it,” replied House, “Unless you think she's got an alligator, too. I guess it's possible. You can ask Foreman when he gets back.”
Before Chase could come up with another defense for his diagnosis, a shuffling sound from somewhere underneath the bed drew everypony's attention downward, just in time for Spike to come crawling out from there. He blinked twice, his eyes stained a blue-ish color and their pupils tightened to hair-line slits. There was something stupid about the way he swung his gaze slowly around the room, almost like he was having a hard time understanding what he was seeing. Eventually, he settled his bleary stare on Rarity. A sloppy smile spread across his face.
“Rawrety? Wha? Wherizat?”
Spike had barely finished garbling what he was trying to say before he tried to stand up. In less than a second of swaying, he fell forward, and he would have landed firmly on his face if Rarity hadn't moved to catch him before he could.
“Spike!” Rarity's voice was brimming with concern, “Whatever happened to you?!”
Spike only laughed slowly and let his head lull back.
“Iz thith reeeel life?”
That slurred, Spike started to drool, which was enough to get Rarity to dump him down on the floor with a startled shriek.
“He said his leg hurt after Rainbow Dash knocked him over on the stairs,” explained House, “So I let him in on my answer to leg pain.”
“You gave a baby dragon vicolick?” said Chase, so stunned by the sheer insanity of the idea it took him a second to even say the words.
“No, I prescribed pain medication to a patient with a pain problem. There's a difference,” House stopped to think for a second, “At least I think there is....”
“Iz thith gon be forevvvvur?”
“We can only hope, kid,” said House before turning back to Chase, “So you seriously found an alligator at her home?”
Chase had just opened his mouth to answer when Foreman's shout cut him off. About four seconds later, Foreman came running up the stairs with Twilight Sparkle hard on his hooves. Both ponies were panting.
“House …” gasped Foreman, trying to catch his breath and talk at the same time, “You need to … get everypony out of here....”
“Absolutely,” agreed House, “Just as soon as I'm done with them. I have this feeling at least two of them will die if I make them all leave right now.”
“It's Marecer!” Foreman almost shouted.
The dramatic way he delivered that diagnosis, Foreman probably wasn't expecting the reaction he got, which was actually no reaction at all. Most ponies in the room could only look confused, and the two that did understand what Foreman was trying to say didn't look convinced. The silence was so perfect a pony could almost here the crickets....
“Um … no it's not,” said House after a very long minute.
“It's neighgleria,” added Chase.
“What?” Foreman shot a look at Chase like he couldn't understand what broken logic brought him to the conclusion that neighgleria was the cause.
“Chase says he found an alligator at Pinkie Pie's home,” explained House, “Did you find one on the farm?”
For a moment Foreman didn't seem sure whether or not he should take any of this seriously. He seemed suspicious of some sort of trick. In the end, though, the answer was still the same, and it had to be said....
“No,” said Foreman, his breath slowing as he answered the bizarre question, “But we did find stains on Applejack's bed that looked like sweat. They smelled sweet. That's a symptom of Marecer.”
“And I helped figure that out!” insisted Twilight Sparkle, taking a step toward House.
“So …” House was looking at Twilight Sparkle like he couldn't figure out what her pleading stare was supposed to mean, “You want a gold star?”
“She … knows about the TRP Initiative,” admitted Foreman, his gaze drifting down to his hooves.
“You told her?” asked House, his face suddenly darkened by disbelief.
“She figured it out,” explained Foreman.
“Not a chance,” there was no way House was going to believe that right then, “You know, Foreman, you used to be my favorite....”
“Can I start the treatment for neighgleria now?” asked Chase, ruffling his wings.
“You're still on that?” snapped Foreman, rounding on the other Royal Physician, “Neighgleria is a direct-transmission infection! I don't care if you did find an alligator at Pinkie Pie's home, Applejack does not have neighgleria!”
“What about Marecer?” Chase shot back, his wings snapping wide open in anger, “It presents with abscesses on the skin! Both patients' skin looks fine to me!”
“Abscesses present on the skin in most cases but not all of them,” argued Foreman, “If the abscesses were in their brain, it would explain the neurological symptoms!”
“And if Applejack went over to Pinkie Pie's house to play with the alligator,” argued Chase, “That would explain how they both have neighgleria!”
Both Royal Physicians turned their attention around to House as he got up. By then both Twilight Sparkle and Rarity were staring at Foreman and Chase in silent apprehension of all the tension, and Fluttershy was cowering in a corner in fear of the coming fight. But none of that had anything to do with why House had decided to end the discussion.
“There's no reason you can't both be wrong,” he said on his way to the stairs, “Follow me.”
Slowly, everypony got up and followed House down the stairs, Foreman and Chase staying the closest to him. As he walked, House talked.
“While you two were out wasting your time on equally idiotic ideas, I more or less confirmed sexually transmitted neurosyfillys.”
“You think these little ponies have been having sex with one another?” Foreman couldn't have sounded more skeptical if he tried.
“Oh my …” squeaked Fluttershy.
“Now see here –” Rarity began to protest, before House interrupted.
“What's the matter? You ponies don't think so?” said House, taking an almost playful tone, “That's alright. You can ask Rainbow Dash yourself when we find her.”
“What happened to Rainbow Dash?” asked Twilight Sparkle, starting to sound worried.
“She ran away when I told her that her filly-friend was cheating on her,” answered House.
“Pinkie Pie,” said House to Owlicious as the ponies passed the owl's perch.
“Do you mean to tell us …” said Rarity, her voice quavering somewhere between disbelief and bewilderment, “That Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie are in a … a … relationship?”
“Personally?” replied House, “I don't think it's going to last.”
“Where are you taking us, House?” asked Chase, already losing the patience he had left for any more of House's games.
“To the only place anypony needs to look for a filly-fooler trying to hide herself from the world …” answered House as they finally came to the closet near the front door.
“Now when I open this,” House turned to face the ponies he had gathered there, “I think everypony should yell 'surprise'.”
Nopony had anything to say to that. Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, and Fluttershy couldn't even bring themselves to believe House was serious. Foreman and Chase were staring at House like they might have wanted to hit him. House just shrugged.
Then he turned and opened the closet door to have Rainbow Dash come tumbling right out. She hit the floor hard and didn't get back up. At first glance, the tear stains down her cheeks were enough to trick a pony into thinking that maybe she had just cried herself to sleep. It hardly took a second glance to tell something was seriously wrong.
She was just so … still. She didn't move at all while everypony stared down at her, and it took almost a minute before Chase moved forward, shoving suddenly past the other ponies so that he could kneel down and push his ear against Rainbow Dash's chest.
It was so quiet … and already so cold.
Chase pulled away from her and squinted his eyes shut for a second. Maybe he was praying. Then he put his head back down – pressed his ear harder against poor pegasus-pony's chest – but there was nothing. No matter how much he might have hoped for something or tried to hear anything, there was just nothing.
Foreman's voice brought Chase back, but standing up, he couldn't make himself turn around and face everypony. He just hung his head and kept his eyes shut tight against the part that came next. The worst part any doctor ever had to play....
The silence was suffocating. The three mares in the room were all glancing at one another like they didn't understand what was happening in front of them. Foreman, though, had seen this enough times before. There was a sort of nightmarish nostalgia – the worst kind of deja vu – that came with the calling Time of Death. He had a hard time with it … like he had to dig the next word out of his chest....
A shuddering gasp, something like a sob, slipped from Rarity. That was the next cue in the routine. It was time to call it, before everypony lost it. Chase took a deep breath, trying to stay calm so he could make the call. He waited just a second longer – out of sheer hope for some kind of miracle – but then …
… House made his move.
There was something feral about the way he said it, a vicious kind of conviction that made even Foreman flinch. House shoved Chase out of the way, almost knocking him to the floor. He needed the space for what came next....
A power like nopony besides Twilight Sparkle had ever felt before began to build in the air. House's horn began to spark with static magic, crackling as he channeled it from the deepest reserves of mystical force that fueled the heart of a unicorn-pony.
A low-pitched whine could be heard as the spell charged, House's eyes wide open and ablaze with light as his horn became blindingly bright. In just seconds the low-pitched whine reached a crescendo, and as it did House called a single word out over all other noise.
In the same second he said it, House bent his horn down to touch Rainbow Dash's chest. There was a sound like thunder and a flash like lightening. The spell slammed into Rainbow Dash so hard the shock of it almost pushed everypony off their hooves. By the time they could see again, House already had his ear pressed to to her chest.
Then, without wasting any time at all, he was back on his already trembling hooves, to start the spell all over again....
The windows shook in their frames as again the power gathered. Ponies folded their ears back in fear and wide eyed wonder at the sight of House standing there, his muscles straining beneath his skin to hold in check something he was hardly stubborn enough to control....
House hit her again. Again he fell forward and listened while everypony else watched, every single heart racing except one....
Several books fell from their places on the shelves, and there was the sound of something shattering somewhere in the kitchen. The whole tree was groaning under the stress of the spell, the power that was surging all around and through House as he let go and held nothing back.
That last shout rippled with force to match the thunder that came with the contact of horn to heart. It resounded like a command, a relentless demand that could not be denied. There was not a single pony that saw what happened that day, that doubted for even a second that House could literally drag Rainbow Dash back to life.
And he did....
By then her chest was blackened around a small spot where smoke curled up and away, but House didn't care. He put his head down again, ear pressed right over that singed spot, until after maybe half a minute through which nopony so much as moved their lungs, House slowly stood up.
He had never looked so old as he did then. Right away he began to shake, his breaths ragged and shallow. He held on only just long enough to say three more words....
“Normal … sinus … rhythm....”
Then the shaking took him down, and the seizure that followed took him out.
Friendship is Magic featuring House MD
Get Happy : Part Seven
On a beautiful summer afternoon in Ponyville's Town Square, a unicorn-pony, an earth-pony, and a pegasus-pony happened to stumble upon an unknown, contagious, deadly disease. Almost exactly twenty-four hours later, on an equally beautiful summer afternoon, a unicorn-pony, an earth-pony, and a pegasus-pony went in to Ponyville's Town Square to deal with that disease. These ponies were none other than the …
“CUTIE MARK CRUSADER DOCTORS YAY!!!”
The sounds of their cheering reached Ponyville long before the young ponies themselves. It had taken some time for Apple Bloom to find her friends. Scootaloo had gotten up early that day to drag Sweetie Belle out to the edge of the Everfree Forest for some sort of mischief. What exactly, Apple Bloom hadn't a clue. As soon as she'd found her friends, she'd wasted no more time before telling them all about what had been said on Sweet Apple Acres.
Mischief in the Everfree Forest was completely forgotten about. The only place the Cutie Mark Crusaders wanted to be was in the Library. Their little legs just couldn't get them there soon enough, so on the way, the three fillies spent every second talking over one another about their latest in a long legacy of “big chances” to get their cutie marks.
Scootaloo was especially excited. “I want mine to be a saw or something cool like that!”
Apple Bloom didn't get it. “A saw?” she said, “What's a saw got to do with doctorin'?”
Scootaloo just had to roll her eyes at that, but she didn't lose her smile. “Uh … duh, surgeons use saws for … um … surgeoning!”
“Surgery?” asked Sweetie Belle.
“Yeah!” agreed Scootaloo, “I want my special doctor talent to be surgery! I'll find out what's wrong with a pony and cut it out!”
“EW!” just the thought made Sweetie Belle's skin crawl, “That's so gross....”
Scootaloo had her mind made up, though. “No way! It's the best part of being a doctor!”
“Do ya think we'll get to see a brain?” asked Apple Bloom, hopping up and down happily, “Oh … Ah've always wanted to see mah Sis's brain! Hey! Maybe mah cutie mark will be mah Sis's brain!”
“ICK!” Sweetie Belle pulled a face of pure disgust, “I don't want to see anypony's brain!”
“Well what do ya wanna see?” asked Apple Bloom.
“Yeah!” Scootaloo spoke up, “What do you think your doctor cutie mark will be, Sweetie Belle?”
“Well … if it means I have to look at all that gross stuff …” Sweetie Belle had to think hard about it, “I don't want to be a doctor that has to see patients. I want to be a doctor that just makes them better! So maybe my cutie mark will be some pills or something....”
Both Scootaloo and Apple Bloom looked so disappointed by Sweetie Belle's answers to their questions. At least Scootaloo just looked bored by the whole idea, but Apple Bloom seemed to think it was absolutely stupid. She didn't mind saying so, either.
“But ya have to see patients, Sweetie Belle. That's what bein' a doctor is all about!”
“No, being a doctor is about making ponies better,” insisted Sweetie Bell, “Patients are just gross!”
The noise in the Town Square was louder than their little argument, but that didn't stop the Cutie Mark Crusaders from keeping it up as they went on their way to the Library, happy and healthy …
… for the time being....
Consciousness came back to House slowly, one sense at a time.
His hearing came back first. Somewhere out in oblivion he heard singing, the beautiful sound of a mare's lullaby. The fact that he understood what he was hearing was House's first real thought. Next, he noticed a taste. It was salty … no … bitter – blood. The taste was blood. Before House could think much more about the blood, the sense of smell returned. Right away House was distracted by the interesting aroma, a mixture of meadow flowers with just a blush of something warmer. About then touch crept back in to his body, so slowly that House had time to wonder at the gentle feeling of feathers just before …
… the pain.
The pain was incredible. Not just the old, familiar pain in his leg, which kicked back in like a petulant child, but the throbbing in his head that felt like it was going to break open his skull at any second. That pain made House's eyes snap open.
And sight finished the set....
He could tell by the way the ceiling was the first thing he saw that he was lying on his back in the study. The feathers he had felt belonged to Fluttershy's right wing, which she snatched back with a surprised gasp when she realized House was awake. Her distance from him – or lack thereof – explained the strange smell. Judging by the slight swelling of his tongue in his mouth, House bet he had bit it at some point during that seizure.
The seizure explained everything. Except for....
“Were you singing?”
House didn't even need to hear her answer. He could just as easily tell by her cheeks that he'd caught Fluttershy red-hoofed … or red-faced as the case stood.
But Fluttershy wasn't quite as “pathetic” as House probably would have liked to think – at least not when she was with a patient. When House tried to sit up, he found himself shoved back to the floor by a firm hoof. Fluttershy was staring down at him.
“Now don't try to move, Doctor House,” she said without stuttering for the first time since House had met her, “Doctor Foreman and Doctor Chase said you need your rest because you had a –”
“A seizure. Yeah. I figured that out.” House had no intentions of staying down just because either of his Royal Physicians thought he should, but when he tried to sit up again he found himself shoved back to the floor like the first time. Grimacing because of the pain all the up-and-down was putting his head through, House shot Fluttershy a glare smoldering with every ounce of hate he could find in his heart.
It didn't work. All he got back was The Stare, and not even House was half a match for that. Defeated by Fluttershy, he gave up trying to get up.
“Have it your way then,” sighed House, “Show me a hoof.”
“Put one of your hooves in front of my face,” said House, making sure he sounded as frustrated as he felt.
Fluttershy did as she was told. She held a hoof about a foot above House's face.
“Um … like this?”
“Perfect. Now move it side-to-side slowly.”
While Fluttershy waved her hoof, House focused on it.
“Am I following it with my eyes?” asked House after a few seconds.
“Um … yes?” answered Fluttershy, still not sure what she was doing.
“Good. Now get out of my way. I'm fine.”
That time, when House tried to sit up, it wasn't Fluttershy that stopped him. The pain wouldn't even let him get half-way before it took him down. House fell back and would have hit his head hard if Fluttershy hadn't caught him and eased him the rest of the way.
“Oh you poor thing....”
“Shut up,”snapped House, maybe a little too loud. He winced at the sound of his own voice. “Where's my vicolick?”
Fluttershy left just long enough to bring the bag over to House, who's horn could only sputter and spark while he tried hopelessly to use magic to grab one of the little cubes. The pain in his head made it impossible, and it took all the force of will House had left just to not whimper in agony while Fluttershy was watching.
Fluttershy, for her part, almost felt her heart break watching House act this way, so weak. Whether he yelled at her again or not, Fluttershy was set on helping him.
“Here. Let me get that for you....”
Reaching into the bag, Fluttershy pulled out one of the vicolick, which was a strange feeling for her to say the least. As soon as her lips touched the powdery cube, they began to tingle. In no time at all they were completely numb. The sensations surprised her, but she was careful not to drop the vicolick before she got it to House.
He hardly waited for her to let go with her lips before he reached up and grabbed it with his. Fluttershy couldn't help but flinch away, heat rising in her face. House wasn't paying any attention. As soon as he'd swallowed the vicolick he'd closed his eyes again with a slow sigh, waiting for the relief to soak through his body and put out the pain.
It wasn't a long wait. Just a little bit and he was back on the case.
“How's the patient …” murmured House, “The new one … Rainbow Dash....”
“She's upstairs. Alive. Thanks to you....”
House shook his head without opening his eyes. “Don't thank me. She's still dying … unless I missed something … did she laugh?”
“Oh. Yes. Twilight put her to sleep after you –”
House didn't want to hear it. “Yeah yeah yeah. I was there for that part.” He took a minute to think of his next question. “How long have I been out?”
“Um … maybe an hour....”
“Too long …” muttered House, “Time to get up.”
Again, House started to try and stand up. He might have made it that time, too, if Fluttershy hadn't stopped him – again. But even high on vicolick, House wasn't in the mood to play the game any longer.
“Look, this whole mare-on-top thing you're trying on could actually be very sexy if you were wearing something in leather, but you're not, so it's just getting on my nerves. Now you can help me up so I can do my job and save your friends, or you can keep pushing me down until I push you out of my way.”
The spin House had put on the whole situation was probably enough to embarrass Fluttershy into backing off, but on the other hoof, the way he laid down how things could happen didn't leave a lot to think about. Without a word, Fluttershy decided to help House get back on his hooves.
“Good girl,” House winced as he eased back into his own weight, “Now go get the others....”
“House, what are you doing?”
Foreman did not sound happy as he came down the stairs into the study with the other ponies House had sent Fluttershy to gather. House turned around from the chalkboard when he heard the question, trying his best to look the picture of puzzled innocence.
“Is that a trick question?”
“You're supposed to be resting,” snapped Foreman.
House shrugged. “Power nap. I'm all better.”
“You almost died!”
“Yeah,” House nodded once, “I saw all the really cool ponies doing it, so … you know … I thought I'd just try it once.”
“You think this is some kind of joke?” Foreman's voice was loud with frustration … but underneath … still tinged with fear. He had been badly shaken.
“No,” House answered slowly, “I think this is a differential.”
“How are you feeling, House?” The concern was clearer in Chase's question.
“Great. Until Foreman came down here. Now I need more vicolick. Fluttershy!”
All he had to do was call her name, and Fluttershy came over with the little bag of vicolick around her neck. House didn't hesitate for a second or say even one word to her before he dug his nose right down into the bag to get out two cubes of vicolick. By the time he had swallowed them, everypony was staring awkwardly.
“She's my little helper,” explained House. Then he turned and tried to pick up a piece of chalk, but his horn still could only manage a couple pathetic sparks. “And that's why she's my little helper,” grumbled House, just before his blue gaze picked Rarity out of the crowd of ponies, “You can be my other little helper.”
“Me?” Rarity looked like she'd rather not.
“Yes you,” said House, “Get up here and grab some chalk.”
“But whatever's the matter with your horn?”
“You can't do magic anymore?”
“Was that the same come-back-to-life spell you used on Foreman?”
“How did you do it?”
“Hey! A good magician never reveals his secrets,” was the only answer House gave to the clamor of questions he suddenly had to face.
But that wasn't good enough for anypony, and Foreman never was the sort of pony that could walk away without the answers he wanted. “House,” said Foreman, “This differential isn't happening until you explain what you did back there with Rainbow Dash.”
On the other hoof … House never was the sort of pony that could take being told what to do.... Foreman could tell by House's tone that he'd have to try something else. “What you did back there was impossible for a unicorn like you,” said Foreman, taking his next shot at House's pride, “Judging by the kinetic ripple effect alone, that spell was at least an eight-point-five on the Black Magic Metaphysical Scale of Power, and you're not rated past a seven.”
“Did Black Magic tell you I was a seven?” asked House, “That slut. She told me I was a nine....”
“The point is,” Foreman spoke quickly, trying to spare the mares in the room anything else they wouldn't want to hear, “After your first seizure, you went tachycardic, then you went bradychardic, then your heart went asystolic, then you came back and went tachycardic again while you had your second seizure – and that was all before anypony had enough time to get a horn of phenobroncotal in you. I've spent my entire life studying medicine under you and some of the best doctors in Canterlot, and I still can't figure out how any of that is even medically possible – how you're even still alive – much less whether or not you're ready to be working on a case....”
House let his half-smile fall to a frown, and then let his gaze drift down to his hooves. He stood there like that – like he was searching for the words he needed to say – only as long as it took to have everypony holding their breath. Then, finally.... “That does sound like the start of a differential,” he snapped out of his reverie so suddenly Fluttershy almost jumped out of her feathers, “But, unfortunately, you didn't pick the patient I want to hear about. Thanks for playing, though. You will get a home version of the game. Chase, want to make daddy proud?”
It wasn't really a question. Chase always wanted to make “daddy” proud. He also knew exactly which patient House wanted to hear about. “Rainbow Dash presented with hypoxia and tachycardia when she regained consciousness. She couldn't stop laughing, so we put her out before that had a chance to kill her … again. She's stable now, and the fact that she could laugh probably means she won't be a vegetable, but because we have to keep her unconscious we won't know what kind of damage … um … death … did to her higher brain functions until we cure what's making her sick in the first place. Either way, I doubt she'll ever fly again.”
“And if that turns out to be true …” Twilight Sparkle looked as absolutely horrified as each of her friends, “She might not want to live....” Those words were enough to send a slow shudder through Fluttershy. It wasn't a future anypony wanted to think about.
Except House, of course, who couldn't care less. “Sad,” he said, “But diagnostically boring. What about her other symptoms?”
“Same as everypony else's,” sighed Foreman, “Low fever that's getting higher every time we check it.”
“I assume at least one of you had the common sense to test a theory?”
“We treated for neighgleria,” answered Foreman, “Antiparasitics had no effect.”
“Seriously?” House was sincerely surprised, “You let Chase treat for neighgleria before you tried treating for Marecer? That's not very Foreman of you....”
“We don't have the panaceallin to make trotracycline,” explained Foreman.
“So we have no effective way to treat for Marecer.”
“Then go back upstairs and look for an ineffective way to treat for Marecer!” snapped House.
Foreman was out of the study before Twilight Sparkle even had a chance to speak up for him. “We were talking about going out to get some mushrooms to extract panaceallin from before you woke up....”
House, however, only shook his head. “If it is Marecer, there's a good chance we're all infected by now. Nopony is leaving this library until we know what we're dealing with.” But just then, a nervous twitch of Chase's wings gave House an idea. “Except maybe Chase and Fluttershy....”
“Fluttershy,” said House, ignoring Chase's confusion in favor of the pegasus-pony still standing near at hoof, “Do you know where Rainbow Dash lives?”
“Um … yes.”
“Chase,” said House, turning back to the only winged Royal Physician, “Take Fluttershy and see if you can find something else for us at Rainbow Dash's home. Toxins, molds, bad lifestyle choices – I don't care what it is as long as it puts us closer to a diagnosis that makes more sense than Marecer. Fly the entire way there and back.”
“F-fly?!” Just at the mention of the word Chase had lost his warm gold shine for a pale champagne color. His wings were standing on edge and trembling in what might have been something close to terror. He stared at House with wide, pleading eyes, but those blue eyes that stared back were very cold and quite pointedly didn't care at all.
“That's not going to be a problem, is it?”
Chase looked like he wanted to say something, but before he could he caught a glance at Rarity standing there, staring at him curiously. After that one glance at her, Chase still looked like he wanted to say something to House – just something much less polite. He held back, though, as much for her sake as for his own.
“Nope,” Chase forced a stiff smile on his way out of the study, “No problem at all.”
Fluttershy followed, but just before he left, Chase turned back around to look at Rarity, real concern shining in his eyes. “Are you going to be alright while I'm gone?”
“Oh Chase …” Rarity smiled sweetly, lost in the romance of the gesture and completely oblivious to what was really going on, “Of course I'll be alright. Just don't forget your promise and hurry back!”
Chase smiled at her, but very weakly. Then he dragged himself away from the door to the study and was gone with Fluttershy, leaving House alone watching Rarity like a new game he just couldn't wait to play. He didn't wait, either.
Poor Rarity had been ready to tell somepony all about Chase since she'd got back with him from Sugarcube Corner. House didn't have to ask twice for all the answers he wanted.
“Oh!” gushed Rarity, “Chase promised that he would protect me from that awful sickness everypony's catching here. He said there's no sickness in Equestria he can't cure for me! Isn't he the sweetest?”
House did a very half-way sort of job of stifling a laugh, which got him a glare from Rarity, who looked like she was somewhere between annoyed and embarrassed by his reaction. “Is there something funny about that, House?”
“Yeah,” replied House, “The part where you think Chase is going to save you from this disease. That's a good one.”
“He is a Royal Physician, is he not?” Rarity frowned, “I understand that means he's one of the best. A doctor hoof-picked by you, House, for his exceptional talent. If there's anypony here that can save us, it's going to be Chase!”
“If anypony here's going to save us, it is not going to be Chase.”
“Whatever's the matter?” asked Rarity, straining to keep her calm composure, “Worried that your help might discover what's the matter with the ponies upstairs before you do?”
“Nope,” answered House, “I just can't remember a time when Chase ever saved a patient.”
Rarity had never heard anything so ridiculous. She had to remind herself that House wasn't serious. There was no possible way he was serious. She had the proof. “You can't expect me to believe that. Surely you must remember how he saved Thirteen Feathers and earned his cutie mark.”
“Oh he told you that story?” House had to correct himself, “That's right – you're pretty – of course he told you that story. But did he tell you the end of that story?”
“He diagnosed Horsington's,” Rarity held herself high with confidence, without the slightest clue what was coming next, “And saved Thirteen Feathers.”
“Chase didn't save Thirteen Feathers,” said House, “Horsington's Disease doesn't have a cure.”
“But …” Rarity's confidence was beginning to crack, “He told me …”
“He probably told you that he diagnosed Horsington's Disease,” House had lost his sarcastic tone, “That's what he tells all the mares – and that part is true. It was a good catch, but there was nothing he could do … except stand outside the room and watch her die in her parents arms. Chase hasn't been right about a diagnosis since then.”
You could have heard her heart shatter in the silence that followed, a complete stillness that stretched on and on and on. At first Rarity looked like maybe she couldn't believe what House was telling her – she didn't want to believe – but slowly the flame Chase had lit in her began to fade behind her failing smile. She looked straight into House's eyes, desperately hoping to find some cruel joke there, but all she could see was his brutal honesty.
“He … lied to me?”
“Would it make you feel better if I told you he did it because he really, really wants to sleep with you?” asked House.
“He lied to me!”
Rarity ran out of the room while House and Twilight Sparkle watched in silence. At least Twilight Sparkle had lifted a hoof to stop her friend – maybe say something to make her feel sort of better – but it was too little too late. She was left with that same hoof hanging in the air and House standing there wearing a picture-perfect poker face. He only spoke after Twilight Sparkle started to leave.
“Oh let her have her cry.”
“She wouldn't be crying in the first place if it weren't for you,” snapped Twilight Sparkle, turning back to face House.
“Me?” House faked an expression of hurt, “What did I do? I just told her the truth about Chase's evil lies and wicked deceit.”
“You didn't have to tell her, though!” argued Twilight Sparkle.
House tilted his head to one side, like he didn't get it. “You think I should have lied to protect her from lies?” House spoke slowly, like he was working it out as he went along, “Is that what you would do? Wow. You're kind of messed up, aren't you?”
The the doorbell rang, and before Twilight Sparkle even had a chance to tell House he had it all wrong, the old unicorn-pony was limping away in the direction of the front door. Still, he wasn't getting away just like that. After all, Twilight Sparkle had five things House didn't: youth, and four working legs.
“You know Rarity really cares about Chase,” said Twilight Sparkle when she caught up to House.
“I also really care about Chase,” said House, “I just don't really care about Rarity.”
Twilight Sparkle followed House, but not to the front door. Instead, he took her to a window overlooking the front door, which he pushed open so both himself and Twilight Sparkle could look out on the three little ponies that were waiting there.
“Hey Twilight! Is that the doctor?”
Three of the most adorable fillies House had ever seen were staring up at him, huge round eyes all aglow with childish wonder, the smiles on their innocent little faces brighter than the light of Celestia herself. For awhile all House could do was stand there, taking in the sweet scene with a quiet frown. Twilight Sparkle didn't dare say anything – she could tell by the tension in the air around House that her life, in all likelihood, hung in the balance of that moment. She felt like she was waiting for an execution. She didn't have to wait long.
“Can we come up?” asked Scootaloo excitedly.
House tilted his head to one side so that he could stare at Twilight Sparkle, who laughed weakly around her nervous smile. House looked back down at the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and then back up at Twilight Sparkle – twice – before he said anything.
“What … is this?”
“We're the Cutie Mark –”
“They're relatives of some of the patients,” said Twilight Sparkle, quick to cut Sweetie Belle off, “I told them they could come over.”
“Oh,” said House, nodding slowly, “I get it now.... Infant immune systems … highly contagious disease … I was just thinking: 'You know what we all need right now?' Dead baby jokes – three of them.”
“Twilight said we could help!”
“Yeah! We wanna be doctors!”
“Sorry!” House called down to Apple Bloom, “The Ponyville-Library-Hospital is no longer accepting resumes at this time, but feel free to complain to our new Dean of Medicine: Twilight Sparkle.”
With that problem solved as much as he cared to solve it, House went back inside and left Twilight Sparkle to the three crestfallen Cutie Mark Crusaders, each so cruelly cheated out of their chance to earn a cutie mark.
“Twilight!” whined Apple Bloom, “You said …”
“I know! I know!” said Twilight Sparkle, every bit as frustrated as the fillies, “I'm sorry girls, but we're just too busy right now to let you help.”
“But if y'all really are that busy than y'all need our help!” argued Apple Bloom.
“Yeah!” agreed Scootaloo, “We could bring you the saws for your surgeries!”
“Or the medicine for your patients!” added Sweetie Belle.
She didn't know it before she said it, but Sweetie Belle had just stumbled upon the perfect magic word that could change House's mind in a hurry. He was back at the window before Twilight Sparkle even knew what was happening.
“What did you say?”
“I said –” But House wasn't interested in what Scootaloo had to say.
“Not you,” he said, “Her.”
“Me?” Sweetie Belle didn't seem to understand why House was staring at her, “I just thought we could bring you medicine for your patients … if you wanted....”
Twilight Sparkle glanced at House, his staring making her as nervous as Sweetie Belle. House just smiled, though. He had a new idea. “I think we might have three job openings after all....”
“We can be doctors?!”
“Nope,” answered House, watching the three excited smiles disappear as quickly as they'd come back, “But you can be pharmacists.”
“Pharma-whats-its?” said Scootaloo, tilting her head to the side in confusion the Cutie Mark Crusaders shared.
House decided he'd have to go with something easier for children to understand. He thought back to the days when he would watch Foreman throw Chase in a pretend pillow-jail. “Fine. Drug dealers. You know what they do?”
One by one, each filly started to shake her head. House sighed. “Drug dealers bring medicine to doctors so they can treat their patients.”
Out of the three, Sweetie Belle was the first to start taking an interest. “What kind of medicine?”
“Something called panaceallin,” said House, “You can find it in blue and purple mushrooms. Do you know where those grow?”
“Yeah,” answered Apple Bloom, who knew almost everything about anything that grew on and around Sweet Apple Acres, “But how do we get the medicine out when we find 'em?”
“You don't. Just bring the mushrooms here.”
“So all we get to do is bring some mushrooms to you?” Scootaloo wasn't liking the job description at all, “That sounds so lame!”
“It isn't,” insisted House, “There's this one doctor I know, Foreman, and where he comes from everpony loves drug dealers. They're basically heroes.”
House took a quick survey of the fillies' faces. Two out of three little ponies didn't seem convinced that working as a “drug dealer” was a worthwhile way to get a cutie mark. House could tell at least Sweetie Belle was sold, but it didn't look like she was going anywhere without her friends. They just stood there glancing at one another, taking their sweet time to decide whether or not they were interested enough to save some lives, and there was something in that House had to relate to. He could only hope he had sold his case.
“So are we in business? What do you say?”
One by one, so very slowly, the Cutie Mark Crusaders came to some sort of silent conclusion. They were smiling together when they shouted their answer:
“CUTIE MARK CRUSADER DRUG DEALERS ARE ON THE JOB!!!”
Friendship is Magic featuring House MD
Get Happy : Part Eight
Fluttershy landed as lightly as a feather on the clouds that Rainbow Dash's home floated over Ponyville upon. The afternoon had been hot, but up in the sky the cool winds that hadn't reached the ground blew steady and strong, making it a fantastic day for flying. Gliding was so easy a pegasus-pony didn't even need to be an athlete to pull off some serious speed. Still, it took Fluttershy and Chase at least four hours to reach Rainbow Dash's home.
Chase was …
Fluttershy glanced around quickly, starting to panic almost the second she noticed Chase wasn't beside her. After watching how he handled himself in the air that afternoon, she couldn't help but jump right to the idea that maybe he had …
But no, there he was – laying in a heap on a cloud not so far away. As soon as she saw that he was safe, Fluttershy managed to get her breathing under control. When she felt just a little better and her heart wasn't beating quite so fast, Fluttershy jumped back off into the air and soared over to the other cloud, flapping her wings in such a rhythm so that she could hover easily near at hoof.
Chase was a wreck. He was panting so hard he was probably going to pass out, and his heaving sides were soaked in sweat. He hugged the cloud he had collapsed on with all four hooves and kept his head buried in the white fluff, his wings hanging like he'd forgotten about them. Fluttershy didn't want to say anything to make him even more miserable than he already was, but luck was on her side and he spoke first.
“I can't make it....”
It was a little hard to hear over the dull roar of the wind at that altitude, but Fluttershy was an expert at holding quiet conversations. She frowned when she heard what Chase had said.
“But you're almost there!” encouragement warming every word she spoke, “It's just a little jump over to the next cloud. I know you can make it....”
Chase pulled his head out of the clouds long enough to take one long, terrified look at the place Fluttershy was talking about. Then he went right back down again.
“There is no way....”
“Oh Chase, it'll be alright …” Fluttershy flapped her wings a few times to get a little closer, so she could put a gentle hoof on his back, “I'll be right here with you the whole way. I won't let anything bad happen to you.”
There probably weren't many pegasus-ponies that could have handled the whole matter better than Fluttershy. Chase pulled his head up again, took another long look at where he needed to be, but instead of backing down, that time he got to his hooves. He was shaking at the knees, but he nodded bravely and did his best to at least seem determined. With one deep breath, he lifted his wings and …
A sudden gust caught beneath his feathers and flung him forward into the sky.
Watching Chase fly was sort of like watching House talk three fillies into trying out careers as drug dealers. It was just wrong.
When Chase should have let the wind do work, he was flapping too hard and too fast to fly forward. When he did stretch his wings to try a glide, the speed would scare him so that he'd pull them back in and take a dive. When that happened, he'd start frantically flapping again to gain altitude. A little bit of that and he'd get brave again, but by then it would be time to flap and he was going for another glide. It was anypony's guess how he could even stay in the air at all.
Fluttershy took it easy, flapping just enough to steady herself while she floated slowly along and kept a close watch over Chase. She didn't say anything until he crashed himself on the cloud that held up Rainbow Dash's home. Then she landed beside him and did her best to sound supportive.
“See? You made it!”
“I hate House …” muttered Chase, looking only marginally less miserable as he picked himself up again and started his slow, shaky way on in through the door.
“Um …” Fluttershy had a question that just had to have answer, but she knew she had to be very careful about the way she chose to ask for that answer, “Didn't anypony at Summer Flight Camp ever teach you not to flap your wings so much? I mean … you wouldn't get so tired if –”
“I never went to Summer Flight Camp.”
Fluttershy couldn't tell if Chase was bothered by that or not. Still, one answer only led to another question. “But I thought all pegasus-ponies went to Summer Flight Camp....”
“They do,” answered Chase, “Unless they're too busy sitting in Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns.”
Fluttershy stopped in the door, too shocked to take another step. “You went to Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns?”
“Of course,” Chase glanced back over his shoulder, a lot of his smooth composure coming back as soon as he was inside and not so … up in the air.
“But you're –”
“Not a unicorn,” sighed Chase, like he was reciting something he had heard before, “Believe me, there weren't a lot of school days I made it through without somepony reminding me of that.”
Fluttershy knew what it was like to be teased, and she felt a little bad for even bringing it up. Still, it didn't stop her from asking.... “Why did you go?”
“It was House's idea,” answered Chase, “He said the two of us – Foreman and I – needed to understand how unicorn magic works, since it's the framework for a lot of modern medicine.”
By then Chase was on his way up the stairs to the second floor of Rainbow Dash's home, and Fluttershy had to follow to keep the conversation going. She was just too curious about how Chase had gotten into the most exclusive school for unicorns in Equestria.
“But aren't unicorns the only kind of pony allowed in?”
“Typically, yes,” answered Chase while he wound his way around the spiral staircase that could take him and Fluttershy to the top floor, “But House talked Princess Celestia into giving us seats in a full course of classes. Practical Application classes and Labs, we just watched. Every other class, we were treated like any other student. At least by the teachers. The kids …”
“I know,” Fluttershy's voice was soft with sympathy, “I know what it's like....”
“I didn't have a lot of friends,” Chase went on as they walked, “And almost everypony around me was a unicorn. I didn't even know any pegasai. I taught myself to fly. Sort of.”
The two ponies got off the stairs on the third floor, Fluttershy following Chase while he wandered from one room to the next. Rainbow Dash did not keep a warm home. The whole place was cold in that it was pristine, completely white and so empty – spartan in that there wasn't a useless decoration or piece of art anywhere to be found. Fluttershy thought she could almost hear herself echo as she asked her next question.
“But if House knows nopony ever taught you how to fly, why did he make you fly here?”
“Marecer is an extremely contagious bacterial infection, capable of interspecies-transmission” explained Chase, “By flying here, we limit our contact with other ponies and avoid risking a pandemic outbreak.”
Fluttershy frowned at the feeling that she wasn't getting the whole story. Still, she stayed quiet, watching Chase do his work and search through the things in Rainbow Dash's room. The few material possessions Rainbow Dash could call her own were all carefully put in their place on shelves or in closets. For everything that she had in common in with Applejack, this was where Rainbow Dash came closer to Rarity.
Fluttershy might have taken more of an interest in discovering this side of her friend if she hadn't so desperately wanted to ask another question. She really did try her best to stop bothering Chase so he could concentrate, but before very long she just had to ask …
“Um … if you know … um … 'Marecer' is what's making everypony sick … what are you looking for in Rainbow Dash's room?”
Chase stopped right in the middle of his search through the bed-side drawer, more than a little surprised Fluttershy had asked such a thing. He glanced over his shoulder at her, and just had to grin when he saw her staring back – the picture of innocent curiosity. She was asking all the right questions, and she didn't even seem to know it.
“I think I get why House likes you so much,” said Chase, starting his search again.
“Who? Me?” Fluttershy wasn't completely sure she had heard him correctly, “Oh goodness no. Doctor House doesn't like me. He probably ha … h-hates me....”
“Is that why he gave you his vicolick?”
Fluttershy looked down at the little leather bag still hanging around her neck. She had completely forgotten she still had it when she left Twilight Sparkle's library with Chase.
“That vicolick is more than just a pain-killer for House's leg,” Chase kept on talking as he closed the drawer and walked around Fluttershy on his way to the closet, “It's like … batteries for his brain … or something. It helps him think. In the fifteen years I've known House there are only two reasons I've ever see him without that bag of vicolick around his neck. The first is that Princess Celestia took it away from him, like she did just before we came to Ponyville. The second is that he gave it to somepony … somepony he trusts with something that important to him.”
Fluttershy was speechless, but that was no surprise. What's a pony supposed to say to something like that? All she could do was stare down at that boring brown bag around her neck like it was the seventh Element of Harmony or something just as amazing. Fluttershy stood there – stunned – for what felt to her like a long time, before she finally tore her attention away from the vicolick bag and found Chase still searching the closet.
“Oh um … did you … find anything yet?”
“No,” was Chase's muffled reply, “And I don't expect to.”
Which of course just brought Fluttershy right back to the question Chase wouldn't answer before. “But then why are we here?”
With a slow sigh, Chase backed out of the closet and turned to meet Fluttershy's gaze with his own. Maybe he was looking for something in her … courage … anything that would help her handle the whole truth he'd been trying to hide from her. All Chase could see was Kindness. Warm … gentle … useless. He didn't want to tell her. He didn't have a choice.
“The reason is going to scare me, isn't it?”
“Please tell me anyway.”
Chase sighed again. He looked down at his hooves, but even if looking away from Fluttershy helped, he already knew it was going to hurt to tell her. “House is getting desperate,” he said, “Even if he wants to think it's Marecer, he knows that's a long shot at best. He needs it to be something, though, because if we can't figure out what it is soon, he'll have to declare the situation a BioSafety Level Three.”
Fluttershy didn't like the sound of that at all, even if she had no idea what most of it meant. Just the thought of House getting desperate was enough to make her wings unfurl in fear. Still, she had to know … “What's a 'BioSafety Level Three'?”
“Unidentified, contagious, deadly,” explained Chase, his voice a lot calmer than either pony felt, “It means we have to quarantine the patients and anypony that came in contact with them. Since … that's all of us … we'll probably lock ourselves up somewhere out of the way and try to stop the infection before …”
Chase didn't have the heart to finish. He hardly had it left in him to look at Fluttershy. When he did finally look at her, though, he didn't find anything even close to the panic he'd been bracing himself to deal with. Sure, her wings were wide open and she was shaking on her hooves, but her quiet frown held a simple message:
“I want to go back,” she said.
That was the last thing Chase thought he would hear from her … or any other pony that really understood the situation. Maybe she didn't. “You … do?”
Fluttershy managed one tiny, timid nod. “But I don't want to go back with empty hooves,” she carried on, keeping her voice strong, “I want to … bring something back for House. I want to help.”
Fluttershy started to blush when Chase just kept staring without saying anything. She must have thought he was staring at her – silenced by her moment of courage – but that just wasn't the case. Because Chase was actually staring at something behind Fluttershy …
“Is that Rainbow Dash's ball?”
Fluttershy looked over her shoulder and saw the rubber ball Rainbow Dash liked to play with sometimes, sitting in a basket on a shelf. “Um … yes.” She could only wonder why Chase would be so interested in it.
“House would like that,” said Chase, like he was thinking out loud, “You could bring that back to him.”
Fluttershy frowned in disappointment – she felt like Chase didn't understand her at all. “Oh … that's not what I meant …” Fluttershy spoke softly, “I meant I wanted to bring something back that could help House diagnose my friends.”
But Chase did understand her.... “Then grab that ball, and let's go,” he said, already starting on his way out, “Before this is all over, that ball could save somepony's life.”