Fire and Brimstone
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The trunk was extremely uncomfortable and also somewhat smelly, though Foreman preferred not to think about that part. Additionally, the padding was wet, and he hoped it was just the coffee House had poured on them and not something questionable.
Harper shifted a little and rolled onto his hand.
“Sorry, it’s a little cramped.”
Foreman glared at the sole of the other man’s shoe. Harper knew something about what was happening in the hospital; Foreman had noticed the patient’s co-workers acting strangely, but he’d dismissed them as a group of eccentrics. Now he suspected more was going on than they admitted. Right now, though, his primary objective was just to get out of there.
“This sucks,” Harper said.
More silence. Really, he’d never thought it could be awkward being trapped in the trunk of a car with someone else. He’d always imagined there’d be more screaming.
“Want to fuck?” Harper asked.
“Well, nothing else to do.”
“Christ, six years of medical school, you never fucked a psycho?”
“Just a thought.”
The lobby area of the Governor's office building was almost empty. There weren't nearly as many people bustling around as Tosh had expected. Monty nodded at the receptionist as they passed, and then led her to an elevator, which he took to the second floor. As they were stepping out, Tosh's cell phone rang. She checked it and frowned when it wasn't a number she knew.
"Sorry," she said to Monty, answering it. "Hello?"
"Hi, Tosh, this is Ianto." He sounded a little out of breath and was speaking very quickly. "I'm calling from a pay phone at Union Station, look--"
"What?" she interrupted, flabbergasted. "Pay phone? Union Station? What the hell are you doing there?"
"Yes, sorry, cell phone got blown up, no time to explain, but look, I'm just calling to warn you. That guy you're with, watch out for him."
"Who, Monty? Why?"
"Er, well..." Ianto sounded uncomfortable. "It's a long story, but Jack and I have very good reason to think the aliens have heavily infiltrated the American government. You be careful up there. I'd better go make sure Jack isn't making a fool of himself. See you soon, Tosh, I hope." And with that, he hung up. Tosh gaped at her phone for a moment.
"Tosh? Everything okay?" Monty said from behind her. She whirled around, startled.
"Oh, yes, everything's fine. No worries! Anyway, let's get on with it. Lead the way!" She laughed nervously. Monty gave her a strange look, but clearly decided not to press.
"Well," he said, "the Governor shouldn't actually be in today. We can search his office if you like. I'm his aide, so we'll be able to get in without any trouble." She nodded.
"Lead the way."
The office was just down the hall. It was large enough to be a comfortable bedroom, and pretty posh to boot. There was a plush couch in one corner, and a dark wood desk in the middle with a nice-looking chair behind it. There were two slightly less fancy chairs in front of it, and a couple floor lamps, filing cabinets, bookcases, and other basic office furniture. Tosh couldn't see anything immediately suspicious, but that of course didn't mean anything.
"So, uh, what exactly are we looking for?" Monty asked, shutting the door behind him and carefully locking it. Ianto's warnings flashed through her head, but she forced her anxieties to the back of her mind. She could deal with that later.
"Anything that looks out of place. Anything that might be alien," she said. She walked over to the desk, as it seemed the best place to start, and watched Monty out of the corner of her eye as he paused for a moment and then headed towards one of the filing cabinets.
She searched the drawers and found nothing out of the ordinary. The contents were mostly just pencils and paper and pens and at the bottom on the last drawer, an old issue of Playboy magazine. She sniggered a little. The top of the desk was teetering somewhere between neat and messy, with a couple stacks of paper and an unusual amount of metal staplers, all in different colors. Disappointed, she gave up on the desk.
"Find anything?" she asked Monty. He shrugged his shoulders at her, still looking through filing cabinets.
"Just the normal boring papers and such. I helped file most of these, actually." Tosh wasn't sure if she was discouraged or relieved by this. On the one hand, if they got through the whole office without finding anything, it might mean that Ianto and Jack were wrong and Monty really was just a nice person. On the other hand, it would mean that they weren't any closer to gaining clues about the alien device.
As Tosh walked around the desk to go search a bookcase, she accidentally kicked her purse, which she'd left sitting on the floor. It toppled, spilling several things out onto the floor. Sighing in frustration, she bent to pick them up. The last thing was the alien device Monty had found. She picked it up without first remembering to check herself, then cursed as it flared and went off, sending a bolt in a random direction.
Monty shouted and ducked, and the bolt hit a floor lamp several feet to his right. For several moments, neither of them moved an inch. When it seemed like nothing was going to happen, Tosh quickly shoved the device back into her purse and stood.
"Right," she said. "Sorry about--" She was cut off by the lamp, which suddenly decided to attack her. She let out a shocked cry and staggered back, tripping over her heels and landing on her bottom. That was probably all that saved her, because the lamp flew over her head and crashed into the opposite wall. She screamed. Monty shouted a warning at her and threw himself at the lamp, which had recovered instantly and was aiming another lunge at her.
Monty tackled the lamp to the ground, but he couldn't hold it there. It seemed alive, twisting and writhing as though it wasn't made of metal but instead something organic. The casing around the light bulb slammed into Monty's forehead and Monty let go, pressing his palms to the point of impact and grit his teeth, trying to recover.
Tosh stood, faltering a little as she tried to regain her balance. The lamp lunged at her again and she swung her purse at it. It was knocked a little to the side, and she used the short amount of time she'd gained to duck behind a filing cabinet. The lamp either didn't notice or didn't care, because it came plowing right through a moment later. The whole cabinet tipped with a resounding crash and Tosh scrambled back some more.
On the other side of the room, Monty had recovered and was throwing random books at the lamp. It paused, seemingly unsure of which person to attack, then threw itself at Monty again.
Tosh recuperated quickly and yelled, "The door! We need to get out of here!"
"I'm a little busy here!" Monty yelled back, grappling with the lamp. The mess of staplers on the desk caught Tosh's eye and she hesitated only a moment before picking one up. It was metal and heavy and would probably do a fair amount of damage if thrown, even to a psychotic, alien-enhanced floor lamp. The only problem was that her aim wasn't good enough to ensure she wouldn't hit Monty. She stood there with a stapler in each hand, looking desperately for an opening as Monty wrestled with the lamp. They took out a small table and one of the chairs, and fell to the floor, rolling across.
"Monty! Get away from it! I'm going to throw this!"
"How do you propose I do that?" he managed. The lamp "kicked" his shin with its base and he grunted and kicked it back. He was grabbing it around the pole with both hands, trying to keep it as far away from his body as possible.
"I don't know! Just do it!" With a great effort, Monty wrenched his lower body away from the squirming lamp and pushed off hard from the closest wall, letting his hands go at the same time and rolling across the floor. Tosh threw both staplers at the lamp as soon as Monty was out of reach. One of them hit dead-on and crushed the light bulb casing at the top. The other missed completely. Tosh picked up two more and hurled them as well, one after another.
"The door!" she shouted at Monty, who quickly sprang to his feet and ran over. He deftly unlocked it and opened it.
"Come on! Let's go!" The lamp had taken considerable damage from the staplers, but that didn't seem to slow it down at all. It made another lunge for Tosh, who screamed and ducked out of the way. She grabbed her purse from where she'd dropped it in place of the staplers and, hurling the last at the lamp, which was coming for her, dashed towards the open door. The stapler hit the lamp head on and it bought her just barely enough time to make it through.
Monty ducked through the doorway as well, then slammed it behind him not a moment too soon. They heard a loud THUMP on the other side as the lamp ran straight into the closed door without bothering to stop. Monty and Tosh held the door shut, gasping for breath. Monty fished around in his pocket desperately for the key to lock the door from the outside. At last he found it and shoved it into the hole. Once the door was locked, Tosh dragged a heavy and expensive-looking bench in front of it as well.
They both let go of the door and stood back apprehensively for a few seconds. The Tosh let out an explosive breath and both their shoulders sagged.
"Whew!" Tosh said. "That was really, really weird!"
"You're telling me," Monty replied. "Er, what now?"
"Well, I guess we'd better keep looking.... Just not in there, of course." She eyed the door.
"Don't you think we ought to put a sign on it or something? To keep people from going in?"
"What, you don't think the great big bench in front of it is enough of a clue?"
"Well, you know how it is around here. Some people are really pretty stupid."
"Ah well, it couldn't hurt." Monty fished a pen and a piece of notebook paper out of his pockets and wrote a short "Keep out, sorry about the mess" note. Tosh located some tape in a nearby office, and they taped it to the door. "Well, guess we'd better get moving. This place is a lot bigger than I thought it would be."
Ianto hung up the phone and rejoined Jack at the ticket counter where he was buying one train ticket to Princeton.
“The station’s only two miles from the university,” Ianto heard the clerk saying as he approached. “It’s no distance at all, I assure you.”
“Thank you,” Jack replied, “pleasure to meet you Ms., ah... Ms. Thompson.”
“Oh,” the woman cooed. “You have a good journey, Mr. Harkness.”
Ianto put his arm around Jack’s shoulders. “Yes, you enjoy yourself, darling.” He planted a kiss on Jack’s cheek and saw the woman’s eyes grow wide as saucers. Jack looked no less surprised, but he managed to take it in stride, grinning back at Ianto and pulling him in for a full kiss on the mouth. Ianto knew he’d made a mistake; there’d be no end to the sly looks and wry comments from Jack after this, but for a brief moment, he’d gotten the upper hand over his captain, and it was worth it.
A gunshot rang out.
They pulled apart in time to see the glass of the ticket counter shatter, and Ms. Thompson leapt back and screamed.
“Hey!” Jack looked offended. “It was just a kiss!”
“Freeze! Put your hands in the air!” a voice boomed through a megaphone. All around, doors burst open as SWAT teams charged in, weapons raised, to join the advance squad that fired the first shot. “Please do not panic; we have identified two terrorists bent on carrying out an attack on the nation’s railway system.”
“What, us?” Ianto asked Jack.
“Looks like it,” Jack said, putting his arms in the air. “On my mark, Ianto.”
A special operations team was threading through the rapidly panicking crowd. All around, commuters screamed and fanned out from the ticket counter as people began locating the source of the alleged threat. Jack waited until one of the law enforcement officers was close enough to hear, and then he said, “You’re talking about us? I assure you, we’re not looking to blow anything up.”
“You were seen fleeing the explosion at the Republican National Committee Headquarters.”
“Oh, that?” Jack said. “We had nothing to do with that. Look! Nothing on us; where would we keep the bombs?”
“Don’t move!” the man snapped, jerking his weapon in emphasis. Jack’s hands froze midway in their move to empty his pockets, as he didn’t even have a coat anymore. Ianto noticed, however, that this motion had conveniently brought his hands together so that Jack had ready access to his wristband.
“See, funny thing about sonic objects,” Jack said. “They’re so useless half the time; they can’t be used as weapons unless the beam is really, really focused, and then it drains the batteries so badly, but at the right frequencies, do you know they can resonate steel?”
“Stop showing off, sir,” Ianto said.
“Oh, well, right then.” Jack hit a button on the wristband, and an almost inaudible screech emanated from it. The guns shook in sympathy with the vibrations, and the policeman pulled the trigger, but there was an empty click and nothing happened. Jack grinned. “Looks like your weapons are jammed. Run!”
Jack grabbed Ianto’s hand and dragged him after him as he took off sprinting for the train. “Oh good, the train will leave right on time!”
“I don’t have a ticket, sir!” Ianto said.
“I think we’re beyond that now!”
The train was picking up speed by the time they reached the tracks. Jack pounded on the door, but the passengers understandably didn’t override the locks to let him in. Cursing, Jack blasted the doors with a second sonic wave, causing them to slide open. As he jumped on board, an agent caught up with them and tackled Ianto. Ianto managed to keep a grip on the door, however, and the train dragged both him and the agent onward. Jack looked like he was debating whether to disembark, but Ianto shook his head.
“Get back to the hospital!” he said, letting go. He went tumbling head over heels, ending up in a pile with the agent as the train rushed onward. Jack didn’t hesitate before he took off his wristband and threw it onto the platform.
“You’ll need it!” he yelled.
Ianto extricated himself from the agent and picked it up. “Aha!” he said, clasping it around his arm. Then five agents tackled him from three different directions, and they all went down in a heap.
Lisa Cuddy could feel her head pounding as she surveyed the mess that was House’s office. It was much too late to be worrying about why aliens wanted to invade her hospital, so for once, she realized following House’s lead wouldn’t be a bad idea and decided not to worry about silly questions like that.
“Hey, what’s this?” Cameron-in-Chase’s body asked, poking through the remains of one of the bodies. Cuddy heard Chase whimper behind her at the sight of his lab coat being dragged through murky green blood.
Cuddy saw House perk up and approach. Given his previous record with alien technology, she quickly cut him off and looked for herself. Cameron tossed aside what looked like a half-roasted digestive organ and picked up a small, metal box about three inches tall and two-by-four inches in area. Pinkish lights blinked at half-second intervals.
“It looks like it was hooked up to the organs,” Cameron said, indicating some frayed wires. “The blast must have broken it.”
House wheeled himself over on a cot and shoved Cuddy aside. This redirected the cart toward the divider between House’s office and the conference room, and with nothing to hold onto, House crashed into the wall, fell off the cot, and rolled across the floor into Cameron. She gasped, and the box fell from her hands, bouncing across the ground and stopping just inches from the window. There was a tense silence in which the lights began flashing faster and faster and an urgent beeping emitted from the object.
“It’s a bomb!” Chase screamed. He ran past, grabbing Cameron with one hand and House with his other. He dragged both of them out of the room, and Cuddy didn’t hesitate to grab Wilson’s arm and follow. The shockwave from the explosion threw them all down the hall as a cloud of flame and broken glass smashed through the wall opposite House’s office and into a restroom. Immediately, fountains of water erupted into the air from the broken pipes, filling the hall with smoke and mist.
“House!” Cuddy roared.
“She dropped it,” House said. “And you’d better not replace the carpet. It’s finally gaining some character.”
“Oh my god!” A nurse Cuddy recognized as Tracy Kindle ran up to them and stepped on Wilson’s hand. “What happened?”
“Ow!” Wilson screamed. He stood, downed two more pills, and ran away without looking back.
“Gas leak,” Cuddy replied. “Combined with House’s incendiary personality.”
“Wow, well the fire department sure responds fast, doesn’t it?” Tracy said.
Cuddy looked outside--now only a foot away, thanks to the absence of House’s office--and saw lights blinking in the distance. They were soon followed by the sound of alarms, but they didn’t sound right. The shapes of the approaching vehicles began to resolve themselves, and Cuddy felt a strange apprehension sweep over her. “Those aren’t fire trucks,” she said. Then she heard the thump-thump-thump of helicopter blades, and a black military chopper whirled past overhead.
“That’s the Department of Homeland Security,” House said.
“What could they want with us?” Chase wondered aloud.
“Hmm, I wonder,” Cameron replied, glaring at the remnants of House’s office.
“Except they were already on their way when the alien attack occurred,” House corrected her. He popped open his bottle of Vicodin and took three pills, ignoring Cuddy’s reproving look. “Oh, I know! They can predict events in advance! It’s like that movie with Tom Cruise and the really bad traffic system in Washington DC!”
At that moment, Tracy screamed and pointed down the hall, where a spider-like robot about two inches tall skittered through the smoke and, realizing it was spotted, dashed into the debris.
“Yes, Tracy?” Cuddy said as calmly as she could manage.
“Dr. House was right! There was a spider, robot, thing...” Tracy took from her pocket a yellow stress ball Cuddy recognized as belonging to the psych ward and started pumping it.
“I didn’t see anything,” Cuddy said, feeling somewhat guilty. “It must have been your imagination.”
“Or something in the water!” Cameron added. Well, no one could ever say she wasn’t a fast learner.
“Right, you three go get House a new cane, and I’ll deal with Homeland Security,” Cuddy said.
“Carry me?” House tugged Chase’s arm.
Chase shook his head. “Can’t with these puny arms.”
Cameron punched him.
“I’ll do it!” Tracy exclaimed. House’s eyes widened as she grabbed his arms and tried to throw him over her shoulder. It predictably didn’t work, and they both fell, jarring House’s leg and causing him to roar in agony. “Gee, you’re heavy, Dr. House. I’m going to have to use my stronger side, then.”
“No, no!“ House protested. “Really, that’s--“
She picked him up again, and House looked ready to hit her, but this time she tossed him effortlessly over her right shoulder. “I walk my dogs with this hand, so it’s a lot stronger,” she declared.
“What kind of dog do you own?” Cameron gaped.
“Four German Shepherds. Come on, he’s still heavy!”
“And don’t leave the hospital,” Cuddy called after them. “The shop sells canes.”
“Ooh, I love the little shop!” Chase said.
“Get off me!” Ianto yelled, punching wildly as the SWAT agents tried to handcuff him.
“You’re under arrest!” one of them yelled back. It was strange, Ianto mused, how humans tended to yell the most obvious things when under stress.
“If you don’t let go, I shall have to do something unfortunate!” Ianto replied, remembering how Jack had once told him about a button on the wristband that one should never press except under the most dire circumstances.
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
“I’m not sure!”
There was nothing for it. He wasn’t going to be able to throw off five officers at once, so he brought his hands together, as though giving in to the arrest, and then found the button and pressed it. Instantly, all the agents jumped back, as though expecting a bomb to go off. Ianto wasn’t sure they were wrong.
Then there was a loud screech of feedback from all the speakers in the station before the cacophony resolved into something even worse: “With a taste of your lips I’m on a ride. You’re toxic, I’m slipping under...”
“It’s Britney Spears! Run!”
As the crowd dispersed screaming, Ianto muttered, “That was low, Jack. That was really, really low.”
Vworp-vworp. Ianto jumped as he heard the sound of a TARDIS materializing, and he looked around for any sign of a blue police box. None appeared, however, and he leaned against a railing, confused, before he realized there’d been no railing on the platform earlier.
“AAAAAAGH!” he cried as a hand reached out and pulled him into empty space.
The first person Cuddy met was neither an emergency responder nor a policeman. It was a general. One General Casper Posey, to be precise, entering the lobby at the head of an entire squad of National Guardsmen.
“What is the meaning of this?” Cuddy demanded after they’d all made their introductions.
“We have orders to secure your hospital.”
“Orders from whom!”
“I’m not privileged to say, ma’am. Nevertheless, we would appreciate your cooperation.”
“What’s the reason for this, this lockdown!”
“A terrorist threat, and it appears we may have arrived too late.”
“We had an unexpected gas leak,” Cuddy responded stiffly, but the general seemed uninterested in her explanation. They already know, she thought. They’re here for the aliens.
She heard patients scream as soldiers began bursting into room after room, guns aimed high. A young couple tried to sneak through the front doors, but the police had already formed a perimeter around the building and refused to let anyone through, either in or out.
“What is the meaning of this?” Cuddy repeated, for lack of anything else to say.
“It’s none of your concern,” the general brushed her aside as he headed for the elevators, motioning for three soldiers to follow him. Cuddy paced after him.
“This is my hospital, and therefore everything that happens on these grounds is my concern! You’re frightening innocent civilians, and your actions could put them in harm’s way, and as a doctor, I won’t allow any injury, physical or psychological, done to those under my care!”
Posey’s finger hovered over the elevator’s “up” button, and then he gave her a smile that chilled her to the bone. “Admirable sentiments, Dr. Cuddy.” He reached into his pocket and withdrew a piece of paper. “We have a list of persons of interest, some of whom are on your staff.” He handed it over. “The raids stop when they’re in our custody.”
On the balcony overhead, two soldiers dragged one of her nurses past. She had blood all over her scrubs and was screaming, “You can’t enter! There’s a surgery going on!”
The general followed her gaze and spoke into his headsets, “All men are to cooperate with the hospital staff until further notice.”
The nurse wrenched her arm from their grips and stalked back toward the operating room, glaring at them but clearly shaken. Posey returned his eyes to Cuddy who snatched the paper from his hands. She took one look at the sheet and had to force back a sigh.
The first name on the list was: “Gregory House.”
“That one’s too long,” House complained, wondering how long Chase and Cameron would let him get away with this. Cameron sighed and showed him the next cane. “No, too short.”
Chase extracted one that House had thought was an umbrella and waved it in front of him. “I don’t suppose this one will be just right?”
“Just because you’re in her body doesn’t mean you have to use Cameron’s mouth,” House replied. “And yes, it’s just right... for a midget.”
House looked down to see a woman standing next to Cameron, her head at waist-level. “He said it!” House said, pointing at Cameron-in-Chase’s body.
The midget kicked her in the shins and stormed out. Cameron picked up a cane and stabbed it at House’s chest. “What do you think of this?”
“Aggressive, sexy, oh, you mean the cane? It’s hideous. I mean, it looks like it escaped from some sweat shop in Cambodia and swam here in the stomach of a shark.”
“Children die in those sweat shops!” Cameron said. “I’ve been attacked, shot at, and nearly eaten; I’m in no mood for your jokes, House!”
“Everybody relax!” Tracy said. “Squeeze your balls!”
“What?” Chase asked.
“If you can’t control your body, you’re the one who’s going to get fired,” House told him.
Chase shot Cameron a dark look and handed House a yellow cane with purple polka dots plastered all over it. House took one moment to wonder what it was doing in a hospital shop before rejecting it with a look of disgust. “Are you trying to kill my image?”
“I thought you’d like it,” Chase snapped. “It’s unique, it’s special.”
“Like everyone here!” Tracy exclaimed, clapping. House snatched the cane from Chase’s hands and whacked her over the head. For a moment, she was stunned into silence, but as she rubbed her head, her look turned from one of surprise into one of righteous fury. “Now look here, mister,” she said, waving a finger at him. “That was uncalled for.”
“You got on my nerves,” House replied. “If you hadn’t clapped, then it would’ve just been a jab at the shins.”
Tracy shoved her hand into House’s pocket and withdrew his wallet, all in one forceful motion. She stormed over to the cashier and threw down three twenties. “He’ll have that one he’s holding. Keep the change.”
“Um, actually, with tax it’s $60.03.”
“Oh,” Tracy deflated, then perked up again and gave him a one. “There!” she said, sticking her tongue out at House.
“What? Sixty dollars?” House exclaimed. “You couldn’t pay me enough to take it.”
“Well, too bad, it’s yours.”
House started limping over to the counter, but the cashier pointed at a sign and said, “No refunds.”
“I’ll buy another one,” House growled. “Damn shop.”
“I like the shop,” Chase muttered. “It has bunnies.” He indicated the top row of stuffed animals at the back of the shop.
The PA system turned on with a vengeful scream of feedback, and Cuddy announced, “Would Dr. Gregory House please report to the main lobby. This is Dr. Cuddy needing an urgent consult.”
“Since when does she use my full name?” House asked. Cameron shrugged while Chase ran out of the shop and peeked over the balcony to spy on Cuddy. He rushed back.
“There are soldiers everywhere,” he hissed.
“Oooh, it’s a trap!” Tracy said.
“Brilliant deduction, Admiral Ackbar,” House replied. “Cuddy and I really need to work out a secret code system. Like, ‘House, my ass is on fire’ for when she’s in trouble. Or when she’s alone. Or when she needs her fertility shot. Wow, so many possibilities, I guess we’ll need to depend on inflection and context for meaning, like Chinese, except with more screaming...”
“I think we should get out of here,” Cameron said as two soldiers marched past the shop entrance.
“Not until I get a better cane.” House climbed onto the counter and crossed his arms.
“I think he’s in the hospital shop.” Cuddy’s voice came through the intercom in a false whisper, as though she’d meant the words for the general’s ears only but accidentally spoke them too loudly. “Oh look, my finger’s still on the ‘send’ button. Haha, silly me.”
House felt vaguely disturbed as he and Cameron exchanged identical looks of exasperation.
“Silly indeed, Dr. Cuddy,” a man’s voice came across the PA system.
“Oh yes, General Casper Posey, about forty-five years of age and two-hundred pounds with graying hair and a scar over his left eye. And look, my shirt is so inappropriately low-cut, don’t you think? And it’s getting very, very hot in here.”
Chase slapped his forehead. House grinned, “It’s like a bad porno radio play.”
“Oh, I love those!” Tracy said.
“Let’s go!” Cameron said, grabbing House’s arm and pulling him off the counter. It was too late, though, because five soldiers were entering the shop.
“Is there a back door?” House asked the clerk. “Stupid shop,” he said, when the clerk shook his head. House whacked Chase. “Go forth and let Cuddy’s example multiply.”
“What? No! I’m not doing that again!”
House filed this comment away as a line of inquiry to be pursued later. “Save your boss or you’re fired.”
“That’s sexual harassment.” Chase glared but set off nevertheless.
“Swing your hips more when you walk!” House added.
“And straighten your back!” Cameron contributed. “It’ll make your breasts look bigger.” House glanced at Cameron in surprise, but she returned his look with a cool gaze of her own. “What? Chase is hitting on the National Guard; it’s better than watching Grey’s Anatomy.”
“Um, hello,” Chase said. “Can I help you boys?”
“I can think of several ways,” one of the soldiers said, pinching Chase’s buttocks. He yelped, then changed the cry into a low growl.
“And she has an accent, too,” another one said. “I love foreign women.”
“Yeah, they can’t sue us.”
“Which one of them’s Dr. House?” a third asked.
Chase glanced back at them, looking panicked, then quickly turned to face the soldiers and started unbuttoning his shirt. “Is it me or is it getting hot in here?”
“Shoo, shoo,” House whispered as the soldiers all focused on Chase’s/Cameron’s chest. The three of them scampered toward the exit.
“Hey! There’s people leaving the shop,” a fourth soldier said, pointing. “I think she’s a whaddyacall’em? A distraction!”
“Nonsense,” Chase replied, pushing his breasts toward them. “Dr. House’s the one pretending to be the cashier.”
The fifth soldier squinted at the man, then shook his head. “Nope, that’s not him.”
“How do you know?” Chase asked.
“Because we’ve got pictures of the people on the wanted list!” he replied, holding up a set of photos.
“We do?” the third soldier said. “Oh hey, we do! Wait, you’re Dr. Cameron, then!”
“I’m on the list?” Chase said.
Cameron glanced at House. “We’re on the list?” she asked.
“See, if Cuddy had said, ‘Oops, I lost my bra,’ I’d have gotten the secret code message,” House said. “It’s all her fault.”
“Oh my, I must have forgotten to wear my bra today,” Cuddy said over the intercom. House could hear every male intern’s head turn.
“Close enough.” House shrugged. “RUN!”
From the corner of his eye, he could see Chase try to dash away, but the guards had him surrounded and they knocked him onto the floor and cuffed him.
“No copping a feel!” Chase screamed.
“What do we do?” Cameron asked, no longer amused.
“We go hide Gwen,” House replied.
“I don’t think now’s the time to be worrying about our patient!”
House stopped, in part to make a dramatic point, in part to acknowledge the fact that he wasn’t up for running long distances. “Why would Homeland Security be interested in us? I mean, the hospital, sure, with things blowing up and mysterious alien sightings all over the place, but us in particular? And who seems particularly knowledgeable about alien activities?”
“Oh my god.”
“And who’s the only person of that group left in the hospital, right now?”
He didn’t wait for an answer before he started running again. A soldier appeared around the corner up ahead. “Freeze!” he yelled, aiming his gun at them. House grabbed Tracy’s stress ball and threw it at him. It struck him straight in his forehead, and his aim went just wide enough to hit the wall over Cameron’s shoulder. They dodged past, and the way to Gwen’s room was clear. Then Cameron had to go and ask the question House knew she was going to ask.
“If the hospital’s locked down, what are we supposed to do after we get Gwen?”
Ianto’s head was pounding as he woke. He must have struck his head against something as he was being pulled in, but given that he was lying in front of the door, he must not have been out very long.
The interior of the TARDIS wouldn’t have been out of place in a 1950s Dracula film. This led Ianto to deduce two things. The first was that the Doctor hadn’t found a fully-functional TARDIS and decided to help Ianto out of a fix. The second was that Ianto didn’t want to meet the owner; after all, this was a decorator who’d probably blow up a planet at the sight of beaded curtains, and anyone who didn’t at least acknowledge the possibility of beaded curtains wasn’t worth knowing.
“Who are you!” a booming voice roared. A goateed man in a flaring robe with overlarge shoulder pads stormed out of a doorway.
“Who are you?” Ianto replied. “I mean, you abducted me and knocked me out; it’s only fair you answer a question first.”
“I know nothing of fairness!”
“Really? I have a dictionary here that might enlighten you.” Ianto extracted the little book from a pocket inside his suit jacket.
The man slapped the book out of his hand and raised an instrument at him. Ianto prepared to duck aside, but the device emanated a green light that swept over him and vanished a second later. “You're human,” the man growled. “No trace of background radiation.”
“Time vortex radiation, you fool!” the man roared. “You’re no companion of the Doctor!”
“Nope.” Ianto grinned. “You got the wrong person, it seems.”
“Ah, but did I?” The man swept a piece of paper up from the TARDIS console and put it next to Ianto’s head. On it was written: ‘WANTED: IANTO JONES’ with a picture of him from several years ago. “No one hides from the Master! I know everything!”
“So you’re the Master?”
“Damn it! No, no I’m not!”
“You just said you were.”
“Yes, I am! But I knew who you were first.”
“I always win!”
“Actually, the Doctor says you always screw up. What’s with all these titles for Time Lords, anyway?”
“So you do know the Doctor!”
“Well, not really.”
“We met briefly at a party.”
“A party? The Doctor does not party.”
“On the contrary, he has an extreme fondness for banana daiquiris.”
“You did meet him at a party! That bastard! I spend hundreds of years lost in time and space and he’s off partying like the day we found the Wine Cellar of Rassilon!”
“And then he did that party trick where he goes back in time and tells you what curses your mother was screaming when she gave birth to you,” Ianto said, wondering how long he could get away with blatant lies.
“Oh, I hate it when he does that!” the Master roared, crumpling up Ianto’s wanted poster. “I was not a fat fetus! My mother just had narrow hips!”
“And he used the ‘my pants are bigger on the inside too’ pick-up line.”
“Do you know Marilyn Monroe fell for that one?”
“But Jack always insisted she was smarter than she looked.”
The Master leaned forward menacingly. “Captain Jack Harkness?”
Gwen woke with a start when House burst into her room. “What’s going on?” she asked. House extracted a sedative from his pocket and jabbed it into her arm. “Hey! What’s that for?” She moved to slap his hand away, but then she fell asleep.
“That was uncalled for,” Cameron said.
“You think it’s better for her health if she’s screaming while we send her bed careening through the halls?”
“Yes,” House said as he saw the elevator began disgorging soldier after soldier. “Like this!”
He gave the bed a shove and it flew down the hall straight at the group of armed men. House clambered onto the bed and yelled, “Jump on!”
He was pleased to see neither of them hesitated in following his orders.
“Halt!” one of the soldiers yelled.
“Medical emergency!” House replied. “She urgently needs a hippocampus transplant!”
“That sounds dangerous,” the man said, stepping aside.
“Thanks!” House waved his cane at them as they passed. “God bless America!”
Gwen moaned. “Huh, wha--?”
House gave Cameron an accusatory look. She shrugged. “You must have picked up a placebo.”
“Then why’d she fall asleep in the first place?”
“I didn’t have time to replace all of it with saline.”
“We’re going to have a talk when this is over, Cameron.”
“Cameron?” Tracy seemed to realize for the first time that there’d been a number of strange conversations in her presence. “Why’d you call him Cameron? Isn’t Cameron the bitchy, self-righteous one with gorgeous hair?”
“Aww, thank you,” Cameron said. “About the hair, I mean. Yours isn’t bad either.”
“Thanks, it’s just naturally glossy.”
“Whoa, down girl,” said House.
“Why are we slowing down?” Gwen asked.
The bed squeaked to a halt in front of the stairwell.
“Oh my god!” Cuddy’s voice drifted up from the first floor. “I think my panties are missing too.”
“I promise you we’ll look for your panties after I have House in my custody, Dr. Cuddy.”
“Well, what are you waiting for?” House whacked Cameron over the head, because hitting Tracy was clearly a risky proposition. “Get off and push!”
Cameron and Tracy jumped off the bed and gave it a shove. House and Gwen went flying, and Tracy staggered and fell. Cameron paused, as though preparing to help her back up, but House grabbed her hand and pulled her along after him. “Jump on, you idiot! She called you a bitch, remember?”
“Hey!” Tracy yelled.
“They’re not after you!” House reminded her. “Distract them!”
“Oh, ok.” Tracy turned toward the stairwell and waved. “Hello Mr. General, you look stressed. Have you squeezed your balls today?”
House was sorely disappointed when he caught a flash of what looked like Cuddy in lingerie just as the bed rounded a corner. He poked Gwen. “How do you get two people out of a car trunk? Your co-worker and my employee are both stuck and apparently can’t get out, and I’d like to have at least one of them back.”
Cameron lifted an eyebrow. “You care about saving Foreman?”
“In movies, monsters always eat the minorities first.”
“Foreman already got eaten once, remember?”
“Yeah, but if we get him out, they can eat him again! Come on, you had a close call once already; you wouldn’t to ruin that beautiful hair, would you?”
“I’m in Chase’s body.”
“Exactly. Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed how soft it is. It must be because you two share shampoo.”
“We don’t share shampoo!”
“Smell your hair!”
Cameron sniffed. “Oh my god, it is the same shampoo! That stalker!”
Either the two of them weren’t sleeping together or Cameron was a better actress than House had given her credit for. There was only one way to resolve the issue, but since the hospital charity play was several months away, that would have to wait. A plot began brewing in his mind about how to make Cuddy and Cameron assent to a performance of The Vagina Monologues for all the pre-teen cancer patients.
“You mean they’re trapped by alien technology?” Gwen asked.
“Uh, House?” Cameron tugged his sleeve.
“I think I can figure something out if you can get me to the parking structure.”
“You’re not well enough to leave the building. Plus, the police sort of have us surrounded.”
“House?” Cameron’s voice grew more insistent.
“Then get me some walkie-talkies and I’ll walk someone through some possible solutions.”
“What?” House snapped his gaze from Gwen to Cameron.
“Look that way.” Cameron pointed behind him.
He turned in time to see the railing of the balcony rush toward them. “Oh hell,” he said, and then the bed smashed into the barrier, and the three of them flew into the air. There was a lot of screaming and Cameron shut her eyes, but an emergency response team was wheeling in a stretcher with a teenaged boy on it, and they landed atop him.
“Oh my god!” the boy screamed.
“Sorry, I’m terribly sorry,” Cameron said as she climbed off him.
“Oh God, I promise you I’ll never do drugs again!” he cried.
“Well, Vicodin isn’t bad,” House told him as Cameron lifted Gwen up and ran for the elevator. He limped after her.
“House!” one of the emergency response team snapped.
As one, all the soldiers in the lobby turned to face him. Even some of the police outside, who were reforming their blockade after letting the overdosing boy through, peered in through the glass.
“Gregory House?” a soldier asked.
“Nonono, lo siento, me llamo Carlos House, y yo no hablo ingles,” House replied.
“What?” someone said.
The soldier shrugged. “I don’t know. Damn Canadians and their weird Canadianian.”
“Ciao!” House said. He took the walkie-talkies of the two nearest soldiers and followed Cameron away before they could react. Once out of sight, they dashed into the closest stairwell and headed into the basement.
“Where are we headed?” Cameron asked. “Or do you not have any clue and just hope to rely on the continued stupidity of our pursuers?”
“Well, you're breaking through the blockade and heading for the parking garage to free Foreman,” House explained. “We're headed for the morgue!”
“So let me guess,” Ianto said. “You want to defeat the Doctor, your old arch-enemy, so you decided to kidnap Jack in hopes of using his connection to lure the Doctor into a trap, but you got the wrong person and kidnapped his co-worker instead.”
“And Jack’s immortal! It’s all I want, to live forever, is that really so much to ask?” The Master let out a choked sob. “But things always go wrong. I mean, you saw the Doctor at that party, and it must have been some party, wasn’t it?”
Ianto made some noncommittal noises.
“And he was the life of the party! He always does that! He overshadows everyone, and everybody loves him and in the excitement, no one remembers you exist, and it just makes me want to blow something up, or at least redecorate.”
“Maybe, uh, you should consider shaving the goatee. It’s very last decade.”
“No! Never!” the Master roared, spittle flying from his mouth onto Ianto’s face. “I did that briefly, and it didn’t work out very well. It is my good luck charm! In fact, when I find myself in especial need for luck, I don’t wash it for weeks on end!”
“I, I can tell,” Ianto stammered, trying to ignore the ghastly, tortured remains of what looked like lutefisk staring at him from the depths of the Master’s beard. “By the way, where are we?”
“We’re still in Washington DC, present day time.”
“So, uh, we haven’t traveled anywhere?”
“Well, not far, anyway.”
“I could help you find Jack, if you promise not to hurt him. You just need to let me out. That button unlocks the door?”
“Great! See you later!” Ianto slammed his fist onto the button and ran for the door. The Master leapt after him, but Ianto was already outside and he slammed the door on his face.
“Ow! You-- oh my Gallifreyan ginger ale! My beard is caught! It hurts, it hurts!”
Ianto sighed in relief, realizing the Master wasn’t about to leave his TARDIS any time soon. Then he noticed his surroundings, and he realized what the Master meant about not traveling far. The office was very white and very oval and very, very presidential.
It was also filled with Secret Service agents.
“What are you doing here?” one of them demanded.
“Uh.” Ianto turned to look for the TARDIS, still expecting to see a blue police box, but there was nothing there. Closer inspection revealed it to be the desk, but no one was going to believe that. “Would anyone like coffee?” he tried.
“You’re on the terrorist list!”
“No, no wait!” But it was too late. The seven agents raised their guns and fired at him.
Cameron skidded around a corner and onto the seventh floor of the parking garage.
"Okay, I'm here! Where's the car?" she gasped into her walkie-talkie, out of breath from outrunning and dodging Homeland Security thugs.
"How should I know?" House asked from the other end.
"Ask Gwen!" There was some muffled conversation.
"She doesn't know either! Why would she know? She's been in a hospital for the last two days."
"Fine! What does it look like?"
"Wait, never mind, I think I see it," Cameron cut him off. She was pretty sure the minivan in front of her was the right car because there was something obviously bizarre about the space around it. For example, the four foot square of roof that was hovering over it: She was sure that wasn't normal.
She quickly opened the front door, a little surprised it wasn't locked, located the lever to pop the trunk, and pulled it. She heard the trunk open, and then--
"Oh thank god!"
"Get us out of here! He's crazy!"
"Foreman! Owen!" she yelled, running around to the other side of the car.
"Cameron, hurry it up, will you?" House demanded through the phone.
"I'm trying!" she said to House, then addressed Owen and Foreman. "Wow, you guys look uncomfortable."
"No shit," Owen said sarcastically. "Get us out!"
"Okay, okay, I'm trying!" Cameron grabbed Owen by the shoulders and pulled. She only got him up an inch before he seemed to hit an invisible barrier, and no matter how hard she pulled, she couldn't get him past it.
"Ow, you're hurting me, man!" Owen shouted at her.
"Well, sorry! I'm trying to help!" she shouted back, frustrated.
"Well, help in a less painful way!"
"And by the way, I'm not a man!"
"Will you two calm down and figure out how to get us out of here? It's really cramped," Foreman interrupted. Cameron threw up her hands and let go of Owen, who shot her an incredulous look.
"You look like a man to me," he insisted.
"House," she said into the receiver, ignoring Owen while Foreman quickly explained that even though she looked like Chase, she wasn't. "Put Gwen on." With surprisingly few sarcastic comments about Cameron's ineptitude and a couple predictable snickers from Owen, House complied. "Gwen, you're the alien person. What should I do?"
"Alien person?" Gwen asked incredulously.
"Expert? Who cares? Just tell me what to do!" Cameron shouted.
"I don't know! Jack's the expert!"
"You must have some ideas!"
"Uh, whack it with a sledgehammer?" Gwen suggested. Cameron brightened.
"Good idea!" She glanced around her. "Wait right here, I'll be right back," she added to Foreman and Owen.
"Where the hell do you think we're going to go?" they shouted at her in unison as she took off running towards the stairwell. She slammed open the door and rushed inside.
"There must be some kind of supply closet around here. There always is," she muttered to herself. There wasn't, but there was one on the sixth floor, and it was locked. She kicked it ineffectually a few times in frustration before getting a hold of herself. She took a few deep breaths to calm down, then glanced at her feet. Right next to them was a paper clip. "Yes!" she cried, picking it up.
She didn't really know the correct way to go about picking a lock, but the lock on the closet wasn't a very good one and a couple random twists and pokes got it open. It occurred to her belatedly that the likelihood of finding anything other than some oil and tires in a parking garage supply closet was pretty slim, but she yanked the door open anyway.
It wasn't a very big closet, and as expected, there was no sign of any sort of hammer.
"I can't find one," she said to the phone.
"Look in the west stairwell fourth floor supply closet," came House's voice.
"I don't even want to know how you'd know that," Cameron said as she took off running. The west stairwell was on the other side of the building.
"I keep one there for emergencies," House explained.
"What sort of emergencies would require you to have a sledgehammer in a parking garage?!" Cameron wheezed at him, cursing the fact that Chase's body was apparently more out of shape than her own. She reached the stairwell and legged it down two flights.
"Well, for starters, the one you're in now," House quipped. Cameron made a noise halfway between a grunt and a whine and pulled the supply closet door open. This one wasn't locked, which was a good thing since she hadn't brought the paper clip with her.
Sure enough, right in the back of the small closet, behind the wheel jack, was a big sledgehammer with a long wooden handle. She grabbed it, stumbled for a moment when it was heavier than she'd thought it would be, then hauled it up three flights of stairs and back across the garage to the minivan.
"Okay!" she announced when she'd gotten there, then paused to catch her breath.
"You actually found one? Where?" asked Foreman.
"Long story. Now," she added to House, "is it really okay for me to destroy their car?"
"It's just a rental! Do it!" House yelled at her.
"Cool," she said, satisfied. "Okay, I don't think I can swing this thing with one hand, so I'm dropping the walkie-talkie. I'll call again if it doesn't work! Bye!" She turned it off without bothering to listen to House's reply. "I have no idea how good my aim is with one of these, so sorry if I hit you," she told Owen and Foreman as she pulled any remaining luggage out from around them and tossed it onto the ground behind her.
"What?!" they both shouted. Chase may not have had as much stamina as she did, but his arms were definitely more muscled, and it was easier than she'd expected to lift the heavy sledgehammer over her head. Owen screamed and Foreman whimpered and they both curled up a little tighter in the fetal position. She rolled her eyes and brought the metal head of the sledgehammer down hard on the side of the trunk.
The metal crumpled under the force of the onslaught. When she pulled the hammer away, there was a sizable dent. She grinned in satisfaction and lifted the hammer over her head again. This time, however, she misjudged how far back it was and overbalanced, falling hard on her bottom and losing her grip, which caused the hammer to fall to the concrete and make a deafening sound that echoed for several minutes. Cameron froze.
"Oops," she said. "I hope no one bad heard that."
"Why? Was that so much louder than you whacking at the car?" cried Foreman, who was by now a little hysterical.
"Dunno." Cameron shrugged and picked herself off the ground. She hoisted the hammer over her head again and brought it down a couple inches from her last hit. The dent grew. She grimaced at the noise it made, but drew it up and slammed it down again.
When she was satisfied that the left side of the minivan was satisfactorily mangled, she went to work on the other. Foreman and Owen were whimpering in terror. She finished banging on the left side, and wiped her brow on her sleeve.
"Okay, maybe that destroyed the, uh, force field or whatever it is," she said, grabbing Owen's shoulders again and pulling. He didn't come free. "Dammit! Okay, I'm going to get House again."
Cameron turned the walkie-talkie back on and pressed send, but there was no answer. She was whining about how unreliable House was when something exploded on the floor below. She slammed the trunk shut and made to duck behind the van, but something big and slimy grabbed her from behind.
She screamed and twisted, barely catching sight of the giant, red alien that held her, before they both vanished.
The morgue was dark and suffused with an eerie seasick-vomit-green light. There was also an incessant drip-drip even though House felt sure Cuddy would throttle someone if there was a pipe leak in the hospital. He decided to ignore the fact that he’d blown up an entire bathroom earlier, and it’d ended with Cuddy stripping for a man in a uniform.
On second thought, maybe that was a fact he should keep in mind.
“House, what’s that sound?” Gwen whispered.
House listened but didn’t hear anything. “It’s just your imagination,” he said, calling for Cameron again. He got nothing but static, which was strange. Gwen grabbed the walkie-talkie.
“Did you hear that? A slight electronic distortion in the background?”
“Yeah?” House said, itching for a marker to write “Paranoia” on his differential board. “What about it?”
“The aliens are tracing our transmission!”
“That’s ridiculous.” His head snapped up as he heard what Gwen was talking about: the sound of boots thumping against vinyl. “Damn, you’re right!”
The doors burst open and soldiers flooded in. House put up his hands. “I surrender! Can’t speak for the cane, though; it’s a little spotty.”
“Are those guns?” Gwen exclaimed.
House eyed her, then recognizing a few tell-tale signs of impending psychosis, shuffled a few feet away from her bed.
“Those are guns! Put down those guns!”
“You’re hardly in a position to make demands, missy,” a captain said.
“Oh yeah?” Gwen pushed herself up and leapt out of the bed with perfect coordination. In a blink, she was standing in front of the captain. “How about if I do this!”
The man gurgled as she grabbed him by the neck and threw him two stories up the staircase. The other soldiers began backing away, but it was too late. Gwen let out a piercing shriek, grabbed an autopsy table and swung it at them. It sent five men flying, and then she grabbed another soldier by the arm and swung him around like a club, beating people over the head with him.
Three seconds after her rage attack began, all the soldiers were sprawled on the floor, unconscious. Gwen then turned to face House, and he took several steps back before regaining control over his instincts. “Hey, I’m a friend,” House said, keeping his hands in the air. He indicated his leg. “Look, cripple!”
Gwen’s expression slackened, and then she gasped and clutched her chest. “House... help me!”
She crumpled onto the floor, and House ran to her, turning her over and feeling for a pulse.
“Oh god,” he said, wondering why his employees were always so incompetent. “It’s a heart attack.”
The third floor was mostly devoid of people. The reason was probably because screaming attracted attention, and there had been an awful lot of screaming from the lower levels a few minutes ago. Ironically, this was the same reason why Wilson was still on the third floor at all. He'd had all he could deal with of screams and craziness, so he wandered the halls aimlessly, wondering if he dared to make a dash for the relative sanctuary of his office.
He was pacing in front of the stairwell and trying to decide if it was worth it to risk going down when a small, slightly feminine old man literally appeared out of thin air right in front of him.
Wilson reeled back, his mind rebelling against yet another impossibility. With a great mental effort, he forced himself to keep on his feet and take in the man's bizarre entrance. Aside from being old, the man was dressed in the type of clothing that had gone out of style a couple hundred years ago and was smiling at him in a slightly creepy way.
"Uh..." Wilson stuttered, unsure of what sort of greeting was customary in such circumstances.
"Hello," said the man, apparently completely unfazed by his unorthodox appearance. "My name is Bilis Manger. Could you please direct me to the room where a Miss Gwen Cooper is staying?"
To Interlude: A Break from Death
Back to Chapter 4: Part 2
Summary: Chase gets arrested for using Cameron’s breasts against the National Guard. A lamp attacks Tosh. One of the Doctor’s old nemeses kidnaps Ianto. House uses Gwen as a battering ram.