"OK, boys and girls. Guess what kind of animal Wacky Benny is making now?" Teenager Ben Parker, in full clown gear, is nervously trying to entertain a group of children at a birthday party. The kids are bored and the parents look worried, but Ben presses on with the job of twisting balloons into animal shapes. Pop!
"Is it a dead animal?" one of the kids cracks. Dad wants to put Ben out of his misery. Mom thinks Ben's never going to learn if they shut him down. "You're a sucky clown," the joker kid says. And then the kid punches Ben in the groin. "Hey! That is not OK," Ben tells him, grabbing his arm. The boy's dad races over to tell Ben to keep his hands off his son. "Tell him to keep his hands off me!" Ben says, but he starts to lose his balance and fall backward, collapsing in a heap. "I can't move my arm or leg!"
"So, how does a completely healthy teenager have a mini-stroke?" Taub starts off the DDx in House's office. Ben's head CT, cerebral angiogram, and clotting parameters were all normal.
But House is more interested in the "middle-aged clown," Taub, who's come to work with a strange wrinkled patch on his shirt, which House refuses to believe is the result of either a seat belt or a diaper bag. Hoping to deflect, Taub mentions that drugs, like cocaine, could have caused an arterial spasm in Ben's brain. But Ben tested clean for drugs. No, House is convinced Taub's shirt was messed up in a fight.
"I'm going to say it was the ex-girlfriend you cheated on, not the ex-wife you cheated with," House says. "Because if the latter was prone to violence, you'd have been scattered in various dumpsters years ago." Taub looks around the table for help from his colleagues. Silence. Chase reaches into his wallet to hand House some cash. "What's the action on the ex-wife?" Surrounded, Taub gives in.
"It was Rachel's boyfriend, Phil," Taub explains. "His company's moving back to Portland. He wants me to change my visitation orders so he can ask Rachel and my daughter to move out West with him. Things got a little heated."
Ben, on the other hand, was punched in the groin, which could have triggered a massive sympathetic discharge. But the carotid duplex was normal, so the focus quickly shifts back to Taub.
"Who's better qualified to be the daddy?" House asks. "The guy who spilled a little DNA in her gene pool or the guy who's going to be there day and night to pass on important values, like not schtooping Mommy after the divorce?" Taub is adamant that his daughter will remain nearby. Park thinks House might have a point, though. "A couple nights a week with each kid may make you feel better. It doesn't replace two round-the-clock parents."
But Chase says parenting is an impossible job, and there's no way not to mess it up. "Why shouldn't Taub be the one to do it?" he asks. House finds both Park's and Chase's views on parenting unsurprising, but what about Adams? "What did your screwed-up parents do to screw up your view of parenting?" She just shakes her head: "They were good parents." Not possible, according to House. Every parent screws up their kid.
Taub spots the flaw in his argument, asking, "So all parents screw up all children, but it makes some huge difference if I keep my daughter here or let her move?" That briefly shuts House down.
What about endocarditis? House orders a transesophageal echocardiogram to confirm, with a parting shot to Taub: "Screwed up is her 'best case.' Bouncing between a philandering, workaholic dad and an embittered, sexually betrayed mom - that's going to lead to screwed up, squared."
"Is endocarditis treatable?" Ben's mom, Janey, and her husband, Ron, are at his side as Chase and Taub set up the echo. They're relieved to know it's treatable with medication and he probably wouldn't even need surgery. "He's just taken up performing. And it's very stressful for him," Janey tells them. "Could that have caused this?"
"It's not stressful," Ben says, smiling. "I have fun." Stress wouldn't necessarily be relevant, but anything that increases his adrenaline could have made it worse. "Maybe we find you a new hobby," Janey says. "One you're a little better at." "I'm going to get better at it, and it's not a hobby," Ben tells her. "I think I want to get a job working as a circus clown. Making people laugh."
Janey looks stunned and confused. "Ben, I don't think that's a good idea," she says to him, laughing. "It was good enough for my dad," Ben says. Ron wonders if Ben's biological father's melanoma could be part of the problem, but according to Taub, that wouldn't be related, either. Janey doesn't understand why Ben would want to follow in the footsteps of a man he barely knew. "You're such a smart kid. You could aim a lot higher than face paint and seltzer bottles."
"I need treatment for my type 2 diabetes." House is in the clinic with a patient, but he doesn't believe a word the man is saying. "I've been experiencing weight gain, fatigue, and sluggishness," the man dutifully reports. "Weight loss is a symptom of diabetes," House says. "Fatigue is a symptom of thinking you have a disease you don't actually have. And sluggishness is a synonym of fatigue." But the patient insists he needs insulin.
"As much as I'd like to kill you by dangerously lowering your blood sugar, murder violates my parole," House tells him. Now the man wants all-new blood work, claiming that the info House has is old. "I am the test!" House yells. "The test is negative. The test also thinks you're a giant pain in the ass."
The man won't budge, demanding that House take a new blood sample. House sighs. "Fine, wait here." He closes the exam room door behind him and calls to a nurse. "Sleep study," he says, pointing to the room. "Make sure he's not disturbed for the next eight hours."
"We need to talk about Saturday night," Wilson says, as he catches House at a nurse's station. "Oh, no no no," House says. "Historians will talk of Saturday night. Not us. The legendary night on which we watch Santos shatter Rubio's jaw, and you epically pay me $50 dollars." But Wilson might be able to watch the fight in person, because a patient has a pair of tickets he can't use. "And, obviously, you're under house and office arrest. I just wanted to make sure you were cool if I go to Atlantic City without you."
"Uh, no thanks. I'm afraid I'm going to have to decline your invitation to not spend Saturday night with you," House says, assuring Wilson he's not at all cool with it. "I'm going to that fight," Wilson tells him. House thinks for a second. "All right. I'll take the other ticket. Let me worry about logistics."
"Patient's heart valves are normal. It's not endocarditis. But he has a thickened pericardium, which makes no sense," Chase tells House when he gets back to his office. So he has a heart problem, but not one that would have caused his transient ischemic attack. Syphilitic vasculitis? The syph test was negative. "Plus, the kid's never been sexually active," Park tells House. "Yeah, I got that from the line on his chart that says 'birthday clown,'" he says.
It can't be histoplasmosis, because Ben's not immunocompromised. "What if he has a heightened immune system?" Adams asks. "SAgren's could have given him chronic pericarditis and cerebral arteritis." That sounds good to House so he orders IV immunosuppressants to treat Ben.
"This'll calm your immune system. You should be out of here within the week." Taub is prepping the IV in Ben's room. "My mom will be happy to hear that," Ben says, though he doesn't seem very pleased about it. "I've got an internship that starts in three weeks." It's at his step-dad's law office. "I know I'm not any good at being a clown yet, but when I do get a laugh, see those kids' eyes light up, that's how my dad made me feel when I was a kid." Taub's clearly moved.
"You need to hang on to that," he tells Ben. "My mom says he was a loving father, but always broke, always on the road," Ben says. "Stupid way to make a living," Ben laughs. "You're 16," Taub says. "Plenty of time to make money. Wanting to build a connection with your dad, pass on some of the joy that he gave you, that's not stupid at all." Suddenly, Ben's nose starts to bleed, and then blood gushes from his mouth. It's not SAgren's.
"TIA, thickened pericardium and now he's bleeding from his nose and mouth." Taub and the team present the new developments to House in his office, though Taub is somewhat distracted to see that House is holding one of his baby daughters in his lap. "What are you doing with her!" he yells, as he races over to retrieve her.
"'Her'? Surely this little bundle of fun has an actual name," House asks. Her name is Sophie. And his other daughter's name is Sophia. House smiles. Taub was not in any position to make demands. "It's different enough," he says. "They actually have two completely different derivations," Adams says. Taub looks at her. "No, they don't," she admits. His ex-girlfriend, Ruby, dropped off Sophie. "She seemed pretty upset," House says. "Apparently, someone forgot that it was daddy's night. She wasn't even going to leave her until I said I was letting you off early."
Taub's schedule has been a mess since he rejoined the team. He tries to get back on track with the diagnosis: "Patient has low platelets. Makes me think DIC." Sophie starts screaming. She doesn't like Taub's suggestion, and neither does House. Ben doesn't have any schistocytes in his smear. "He also has a low red count," Park says. "What if it's a retroperitoneal bleed?" But there's no Grey Turner's sign.
Sophie's still fussy with Taub, unlike how she was with House. "Maybe she likes the sound of my voice," House says. "Which is weird, because I have no genetic connection to her. Could it be that she doesn't know the difference?" "So many children of your own, no wonder you have such insight into my relationships with my babies," Taub says. "Good point," House tells him. "How could I comprehend that you're too despised to keep them from having the same name, too overwhelmed to remember your own calendar, and too vain to admit that at this stage, you don't matter to either baby?"
Adams brings them back to Ben: "Low white count suggests infection." House wonders if maybe they're all right. "Low platelets plus low red count plus low white count equals . . ." "Aplastic anemia," Chase says. Ben needs a bone marrow transplant.
"Everyone, except Adams, transfuse his platelets until you find a match," House orders, and they all march out, except for Adams. He's done some research on her. "You started college a semester late, because you left high school a semester late, because you had five Incompletes in your junior year." One bad semester is proof that her parents screwed her up? "Did OK before that, straight A's after that," House says. "I went through a rebellious phase," she offers, still not seeing what the big deal it. "Don't tell me - mom and dad were at each others' throats, and the academic crisis was a cry for help?" House guesses. She just laughs. "Sorry to mess with your world view, but I'm not messed up. So, my parents couldn't have messed me up."
"Mom's HLA is only a 3/6 match." Chase and the team are trying to find a donor for Ben in the lab. Taub comes in, after dropping Sophie off at the maternity ward. Adams notes that he's making House's argument for him about the baby not needing him specifically. "You've only got her a couple days a week, and most of that's spent with a rotating cast of nurses."
"That's how daddy likes to spend his time, too," Chase says. Ben's first cousin isn't a good match, either. "So much for genetics mattering," Park says, looking at Taub. "I'll try the marrow registry."
"Dr. Park is searching the marrow registry. Transfusing his platelets will keep him healthy while we wait." Taub and Chase are bringing Ben and his mom and step-dad up to speed. "You sure there's no one, on the father's side of the family. If one of them's a match, that would speed things up a lot," Chase says. Janey says that Ben's dad was an only child, with no living relatives. Ron asks if Ben is going to have to miss a lot of school. "I'm actually thinking of just getting my GED," Ben says. "How do you expect to get into a good college?" Janey asks. "I'm going to take classes, on magic and juggling," Ben tells her. "Try to make a go of this." Ron says if he keeps his grades up, he can do anything in the world. "Like what?" Ben asks. "Work at some boring office? I mean, do you think my father would have done that for ten minutes?"
Janey reminds him that he barely knew his father. "I want to build a connection with him. Pass on some of the joy that he gave me," Ben says. Then suddenly he starts fidgeting from back pain and his blood pressure drops.
"We think we've dealt with all the liability issues . . ." Foreman is video-conferencing in his office. Or at least he's trying to, as House maneuvers himself into Foreman's camera shot, displays bunny ears behind him and generally makes a nuisance of himself as he waits for his appointment with Foreman. Foreman gives in and shuts down his laptop.
"Just got this," he says, holding an envelope. "The American Association of Rheumatology wants you to speak. Nine o'clock. Saturday. In Atlantic City." Apparently another doctor canceled at the last minute. House feigns dismay. "I hate conferences." But Foreman encourages him. "This is a big one. And it's the premium slot," he says. "I'd like you to do it. I'll clear it with your parole officer." Foreman sighs. "Now what do I need to do for you?" "Halve the clinic hours that you recently doubled, and double the hooker budget that you recently halved. I think you refer to it as 'petty cash,'" House says.
"Fine," Foreman tells him. "Just one thing. I'm going to ask them to put you on in the morning. We're doing them a favor, why should you have to spend the night?" But wasn't nine o'clock the "premium spot?" "The place will be a madhouse," Foreman says. "Especially since it's two miles from the Rubio fight at the exact same time!" Foreman was on to House the whole time. He knows House called the conference, posing as the doctor who was scheduled to speak and canceled, suggesting himself as a replacement. "You go to that fight, you go to prison."
"Well, that'd be redundant," House says. "I've got an angry black guy waiting for me to drop the soap right here." "Better go do some of those clinic hours I recently doubled," Foreman tells him.
"Test my urine." It's the diabetes guy, back in the clinic. And he's holding up a cup of urine for House. "Looks like I was wrong about my diagnosis," House says. Not about him not having diabetes, but about him being a hypochondriac. If he was, he would have imagined a new disease after House shot down the first one. "So, whose urine is that? Diabetic girlfriend without health insurance?" The guy insists it's not a scam. "I'm sick! Now I have swollen ankles!" "The medical term is 'cankles,'" House says.
The man is convinced he must have diabetes because every male in his family is diagnosed with it at fifty, and he just turned fifty. "I need to get a jump on this thing!" Just then Chase and Taub burst in to tell House they had to halt the transfusion because Ben is having an allergic reaction to donor platelets. "No one in mom's family is a match, and as far as she knows, dad has no living relatives. It's been years since he died," Taub says. House takes a look at Ben's file. "The kid's dad died young of melanoma. How come the overprotective mom never took him to a dermatologist?"
Meanwhile, diabetes guy is getting impatient. "Are you going to test my urine, or what?" He holds out the cup again, and House takes it. He uncovers it, sniffs it like fine wine, takes a swig and then swirls it around in his mouth. He finally swallows and says, "Not diabetes." He turns to Chase and Taub, who look both horrified and disgusted: "Use cross-matched platelets to try to find the patient some blood that's closer to his own. And get the real story on Clown, Sr.'s death. Mom's hiding something. It's a good bet that it's medically relevant." And he takes another gulp from the cup. "Apple juice," he tells the man. "Easiest way to fake a spike in blood sugar."
"His family history of melanoma may have affected his . . . cellular outlook." Taub and Chase are trying to fish for info as best they can. They tell the parents that unless they can get more detail on the type of melanoma Ben's father had, they might not be able to find a match. Janey admits that he never had melanoma. Ron is shocked. Taub asks how he died. "He didn't," she says, starting to tear up. "He lives in Pennsauken, under a different name. Mitchell Gordon."
"How could you keep this from me?" Ron asks. "From Ben?" "He really needs to know his dad just breezed in and out of his life, drunk and incoherent? Better to think the man's dead but decent," Janey says.
"You realize I have to invite someone else to the Rubio fight?" Wilson and House are eating in the cafeteria. House still plans on going, however, even though he has a "LoJack" on his leg. Wilson tries to deflect with some parental talk. "Your biological father was a decent, God-fearing minister. The guy who raised you was a cold-hearted jerk. I'm trying to figure out why you're so convinced Adams has parentally inflicted damage. You have to believe that every parent screws up every child, or you were screwed out of a decent childhood." House reminds Wilson that his "decent" man-of-the-cloth father was being indecent with his married mom.
"Mitchell Gordon?" Park and Taub have found Ben's biological father, living next to a liquor store. "We're doctors," Taub tells him. "Your son, Ben, is in the hospital, at Princeton-Plainsboro. He's very sick." Mitchell just looks down and says he doesn't have a son. "Not anymore." "We know there are some issue there," Park says, "but your bone marrow could cure him." They offer to take him to a local hospital for a simple test. Why wouldn't they want him to go to Princeton-Plainsboro? "His mother feels it's better to do the test at a different hospital," Taub tells him. "Well, I guess I don't have a son anymore," Mitchell says, and slams the door.
"House isn't going to give up. Just tell him about your parents. Or make up a lie." Chase is giving Adams some friendly advice while they're in the lab working on Ben's blood. "I don't want to lie," she says. "I don't want to validate his ridiculous theory." Of course, Chase is the one who doesn't think it's ridiculous. "Even the best-intentioned parents end up damaging their kids." How much damage could Chase have? He's a smart, successful doctor. "You know how I got interested in medicine?" he asks her. "When my mother drank, she couldn't handle me, so she locked me in my father's study. There's only so many hours you can cry and bang on the door before you give up, find something to read. We all have family dysfunction. It's why we're successful. To fill that hole."
Adams comes clean: "My parents have a lot of money. But they didn't make it legally." Chase guesses white-collar crimes. "It started with card games," she says. "High-stakes poker. Then my dad got into narcotics. At first just selling, but then using, too. Or he never would have gotten into the slave trade. Children, mostly. Easier to pack in small crates, plus the shipping's a lot cheaper." And she reaches for Chase's phone before he can stop her. Of course, Chase has House on video chat so he could listen in while he extracted the big secret from Adams. "Won't even trust a coworker," House says. "What did your parents do to you?"
"You have to go see him yourself. He wouldn't even come to the door a second time." Taub and Park are trying to persuade Janey to talk to Mitchell. Just as she agrees to make the trip, suddenly alarms sound in Ben's room. He's sitting up, struggling to breathe. Taub and Park race in. It's a pleural effusion. "He had a bleeding problem earlier. Must be bleeding into his lungs," Park says. But there's no blood in the chest tube. Janey doesn't have to worry about driving to see Mitchell. "The problem isn't his marrow. It's his liver."
"Liver failure explains everything. The question is: what explains the liver failure?" House and the team have reconvened in his office. Another question would be: why is a there a strange man messing around with House's ankle monitor? They know Ben doesn't have an infection, because they tried antibiotics and he didn't respond. House is also curious why Janey lied about Mitchell.
"This is how you plan to get to your boxing game?" Park asks, as the man is clearly trying to disable or remove the monitor. House is stunned. "Match, bout, fight, contest, Day, Helena - almost anything works after 'boxing,' except the word 'game.'" But Adams thinks his larger problem is that the people who design ankle monitors have probably thought of anything they're trying to do.
"It's a synthetic problem," Taub says of Ben. "His liver's not synthesizing protein, so fluid is leaking out of his blood vessels. And mom's a selfish jerk. She traded up. Married a lawyer. Wants to forget the lowly circus clown." "You're defending the father because you feel like a jerk for baking buns in two different ovens," House says. "You want to believe the mythical biological connection excuses being a man slut." Chase thinks it's more likely Ben has a hyperammonemic problem. "His liver's not cleaning out his blood. The build-up of toxins is causing everything."
Taub maintains he's defending the father because the father got screwed. "After he lost his son, he lost his job, been in and out of rehab, gave up clowning. Yes, as a parent, I empathize. I say we tell the kid." But Ben is a minor and Janey is his guardian, and it's not even medically relevant. "She robbed them of 12 years together," Taub says. "Or, she ripped off the Band-Aid too late," House says. "That memory that she let Son of Bozo establish is making him chase his father's moronic profession."
Suddenly, House's monitor starts flashing. "This is where you dazzle me with your contingency plan," he tells the man, who instead chooses to grab as many of his tools as he can and run away. So, what about Ben? They can't treat for both synthetic and hyperammonemic. One requires hemodialysis and the other a liver transplant, which doesn't seem likely since they couldn't even find him a marrow match. "Get the mom's consent to pump him full of protein. If it's a synthetic problem, more fluid will leak into his chest and his heart will fail. If it's hyperammonemic, toxins will overwhelm his body and he'll go into a coma," House says. "Do you only like tests that involve the risk of death?" Park asks. "There are some slower, less conclusive tests. But why take that risk?" House says.
"There are very serious risks, but if we don't figure out what he has, we can't treat him at all." Taub is talking to Janey and Ron. Janey signs off on the procedure. "I may be a little out-of-bounds here," Taub says, "but in case there are complications, it might be a good time to come clean to your son, and let his father visit."
Janey thinks it's more than a little out-of-bounds. "I don't know the history, but everyone makes mistakes. Your son worships him," Taub says. "Mitchell is not Ben's father any more than a sperm donor would have been," Janey tells him.
"Dr. House. My husband saw you in the clinic. Wants treatment for diabetes." A woman has come to see House in his office. "He keeps imagining symptoms. And now I have to make him these awful, anti-diabetic meals." She wants House to write a fake insulin prescription. "The advantage of fake prescriptions is you don't have to be a real doctor to write one," he says. But she wants to know what she can safely inject into her husband's thigh. "His 'symptoms' will go away and then I can show him he was never sick," she says. House tells her that imaginary medicine is not his specialty. "I do have an imaginary colleague, who's just sent me an imaginary page. Imagine how sorry I am."
"Still mad about what happened in the lab?" Chase and Adams are handing off protein drinks to Ben. Adams isn't mad; she's being "professional." "You claim you're not screwed up," Chase says, "and you may even believe it. But House doesn't, and I don't. So you can wait until he camps out on your parents' lawn, or you can admit you don't live on some higher plane and thank me later." Ben complains of a weird feeling in his eye. It's bulging. "What's happening to me?"
"You look tired." Ruby stops by Taub's to pick up Sophie later that night. "I hate it when people say that," she tells him. "I know I look bad." Instead of going to bed early, she went out with friends, to pretend she had a life and "flirt with guys who'd have no interest in a mom, miss the baby I couldn't wait to get rid of, then get yelled at by my mom for staying out too late." She wants her own place. Taub suggests she go back to working at the hospital, but day care costs more than she makes. He offers her the guest room in his place so she can get a good night's sleep. Of course, just then his pager goes off, but he ignores it. He's happy to be able to spend more time to his daughter. He holds Sophie in the air. "It makes a difference . . . doesn't it?"
"You didn't answer your page last night." It's the next morning, and the team files in to the office. Taub claims his pager battery died. Chase and Adams were able to get Ben's eye back in place with steroid injections. "Mom's determination to keep dad away even as her kid gets sicker and sicker means she's got more to hide," House thinks. But now Taub wants to let it drop, since it's not diagnostically relevant. "I've been trying to persuade the mother," he says, "but it's her son so it's her call." "That's very evolved of you," House notes. "You don't usually see Darwinian changes over breakfast."
"Angioneurotic edema can cause rapid swelling," Adams says. There's no abdominal pain, though. Anasarca? The swelling would have followed gravity. "Swelling that fast and localized has to come from the lymph nodes. Burkitt's lymphoma," Park says. That gets House to thinking. "Swelling . . . cankles . . ." "That's not a symptom of Burkitt's," Taub says, "are you saying . . . ?" "It's Burkitt's," House tells them. "Prep him for chemo."
"I think you should give House permission to go to Atlantic City." Wilson has come to Foreman's office on House's behalf. "The guy has earned the right to go to one boxing match. He's done everything you've asked. Funded and staffed his own department. Hasn't even broken as much as a traffic law."
"You're right," Foreman says. But he's not going to let House go. "My job is to be the jerk. House has to believe that I have authority over him." "He can't function under someone's thumb," Wilson says. "I know, which is why you can't go either," Foreman tells him. "Your job is to be his friend. To stay here and sit with him and watch the fight on Pay-Per-View while bitching about me. If we both do our jobs, we might actually get him through his parole." Wilson is stunned, but he agrees with Foreman, and he pulls the tickets out of his coat pocket.
"Sorry to show up like this." Rachel and Phil catch up with Taub in the hallway. Taub was expecting a battery of lawyers. "No lawyers," Rachel says. "Phil had something that he would like to say. So I thought that he should say it in person."
"It was wrong of me to confront you about taking Rachel to Portland," Phil says. Rachel does want to move to Portland, but she won't do it without Taub's support. "So, you guys are trying to manipulate me, by playing Good Cop / Good Cop," Taub says. "Is that how little you think of me?" Rachel asks. "It's clear you're back working for House. I will see you this weekend when you pick up Sophie."
"Sophia," Taub corrects her. "We actually started calling her Sophie," she says. "Great. It's cute," Taub says as they walk away.
"Cankles." House is rolling down the socks of the diabetes guy in a clinic exam room, while his wife watches. "Is there some problem with the prescription . . . you gave me?" she asks. "I'm faint, I've been gaining more weight. I think I need a bigger dose," the man says. "If you double his placebo, he might drown," House says, pulling over a heart rate monitor. "Also, you forgot to mention that your heart rate is slow. Those awful, anti-diabetic meals you've been eating, do they contain bok choy?" "A pound of it. Every day," the wife says. "Bok choy has glucosinolates, which inhibit thyroid function, and account for all your symptoms," House says. He doesn't have diabetes. "You have a bad case of irony. The food that you're eating to stop making you sick is making you sick." The man is relieved. "Maybe I don't have my father's crummy genes after all." "On the other hand," House says, "maybe you're fat enough to get diabetes even without them."
"I can't believe I have cancer." Ben is getting ready for his chemo. Park assures him they caught it early, so he should be OK. "I could die. Never went anywhere, did anything. If my father had lived, everything would have been different," Ben says. "Your mom and step-dad love you," Taub says. "They've given you a great home. That counts for a lot." Suddenly, Ben starts to crash.
"Renal failure, lung failure, heart failure. All before we started chemo." Chase and the team are outside Ben's room in intensive care. Burkitt's couldn't have moved this fast. They are surprised to see Mitchell walk into Ben's room. "What are you doing here?" Janey asks. "I was told this might be my last time to see my son," Mitchell says.
Janey is furious at Taub for interfering, but it was actually Ron who called. "This man's Ben's hero. Let them spend five minutes together." But Janey angrily pushes Mitchell out of the room. He looks at the team for a second, then turns around and walks away, but House notices something peculiar about the way he walks. "Wait," House says, and Mitchell turns around. "You sexually molested your son. Your walk - Tabes dorsalis. You have late-stage syphilis. Which you gave to our patient, presumably 12 years ago. Which also explains why mom isn't big on family reunions." It's clear from both Janey and Mitchell that House is right.
"I shouldn't be here," Mitchell says, and shuffles off. But they tested Ben for syphilis already, and he was negative. "After 12 years, the active infection would have died down," House says. "Everywhere except the arteries in his brain where it could hide out from our tests. When that six-year-old heckler punched him in his juggling pins, it kicked up the dormant bacteria in his pelvis. The immunosuppressants we gave him sent it into overdrive. The antibiotics we gave him actually started destroying the syphilis, but like pouring water on a fire that led to a trail of toxic smoke and ash, it made his immune system overcompensate. Severe Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction." Ron asks Janey if it's true about the molestation.
"I found stains on his clothes. He didn't understand. And he didn't seem traumatized. I kept trying to talk to him, but before long he'd forgotten, and he seemed happy and he seemed normal." So she sent Mitchell away and made sure Ben wouldn't go looking for him. House orders IV penicillin, and anti-TNF antibodies. "He'll be fine. Apart from the whole daddy rape thing."
"We're not done," Adams says, following House out of Ben's room. "No, you're not," he agrees. "Notify the dad's sexual partners, notify his employer, his landlord, notify the police." But she meant Ben. "We're not going to tell him he was molested?" she asks. "To make him miserable, or to forfeit your license?" House asks. "To tell him the truth," she says. "He's a virgin. How do we explain the STD. It's a medical diagnosis. Screw the parents, the kid's our patient."
"Well, then I guess Taub's got a tough choice to make when the kid wakes up," House says. "Why is it my choice?" Taub wants to know. "Because you're a dad. How could the rest of us possibly understand," House tells him.
"What was wrong with me?" Ben is awake, with Janey and Ron by his side, while Taub is hanging the IV. "It's called syphilis," he says. Ben's understandably confused. "You can get that without having sex?" Taub takes a second and says, "It's rare, but it can happen."
"I didn't tell him," Taub reports back to House in his office. "Your heart said he needed to know. Your brain knew he's better off without it," House says. "Following your heart is easy. Following your brain is tough. Especially after years of following that much smaller, third organ. That's why all parents screw up all children."
"Clever tactic. Pretending you're not interested anymore." Adams comments on House's cessation of probing questions about her childhood as they ride the elevator down. "How could that possibly work as a tactic?" House asks. "The fact is, once I saw those Incompletes, I knew your parents screwed you up. Details are just gravy."
Adams insists he's wrong. "The only evidence you have is proof of something else. I ran away from home." Because she had lousy parents? "Because I didn't," she says. "All my friends' parents were divorced or having affairs or barely knew their kids' birthdays." "You envied their dysfunction?" he asks. "I thought it made them deeper somehow," she says. "It was stupid. I hitchhiked to Manhattan, moved in with an older guy, in two months came running home. It took my parents years to get over it."
"That's when you started to excel," House figures. "You were making it up to them. Your parents screwed you up by not screwing you up." "How does briefly wishing I were screwed up make me screwed up?" she asks. "It's normal to be screwed up. It's really screwed up to romanticize it," he says. "Guess that's why you wanted to work with prisoners."
"It's why I wanted to work with you," she tells him, as they reach the hospital lobby. House pauses for a second. "It was a tactic," he says, and walks away.
Taub practices a little speech before knocking on Rachel and Phil's door. "I need to talk to you and Phil." He looks at Sophia, in Rachel's arms. "I can't let you move," he says. "You drove all the way out here to tell us what you already told us?" Rachel asks. "I'm sorry," he says.
"House, open up! I don't want to miss the opening bell." Wilson is pounding on House's door. Finally he lets himself in, but there's no one there. "House?" Wilson makes himself at home on the couch, with his pizza and beer, and turns on the television. In the first row, drinking beers right behind the sportscaster doing a pre-announce, sit House and Foreman. All Wilson can do is laugh, eat his pizza, and sit back and watch the fight.