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The one where people escape from the car trunk - Eram quod es, eris quod sum
Sex and Medical Malpractice
randomhouses
randomhouses
The one where people escape from the car trunk
Eram quod es, eris quod sum

Chapter 7
God Does Not Play Dice
(Part 2 of 2)



Click image for sources used


“Guess what number I have behind my back,” Owen told Cameron.

“Four.” Foreman groaned from behind him.

“Stop cheating!”

“It’s a stupid game!”

“I don’t care. I’m not playing with you! You’re just trying to come up with excuses for the fact that you keep staring up at my crotch.”

“Ew!” Chase exclaimed from behind Foreman. Owen winked at Cameron, who looked simultaneously disgusted and aroused, which would’ve been a much more pleasant reaction if she wasn’t in Chase’s body.

“Look, arguing isn’t going to get us out of this trunk,” Cameron said. “But if we all work together--”

Thunk. With a creak, the boot opened up and light flooded in. Cameron let out a cry as she raised her arms up, indicating their invisible restraints were gone. A second later, she had scrambled out into the car park, followed by Chase. Owen had a lot more trouble, though, as he’d been locked in much longer and felt as nimble as a day-old corpse. He noticed, with an evil sort of glee, that Foreman was having similar problems, but soon, they had stretched and cracked their joints enough that blood was pounding through all their limbs, and they half-crawled and half-threw themselves from the car, determined never to look back.

The moment Owen hit the asphalt, an alarm shrieked, a high-pitched klaxon that emanated from the ground and the columns and even the car itself. They all threw their hands to their ears, trying to block out the sound, but even their skin seemed to be ringing in sympathy with the surrounding world.

“I think they know we escaped!” Chase screamed over the din.

Owen rolled his eyes. “You think? Run!

They broke apart, Chase and Cameron heading in one direction while Foreman and Owen instinctively went the other way. Owen had one moment to notice they were back in a central level of the car park rather than on the roof, as Cameron had described it earlier. The entire field must be down, he thought, but he didn’t intend to stick around waiting to see if the aliens would fix the problem.

The lift loomed as they reached the edge of the park, but not trusting its perilous confines, they turned and entered the stairwell in time to hear a number of pattering footsteps echo up toward them. Foreman grabbed Owen’s sleeve, as though hoping to retreat and find another way out, but the alarm was so unignorable Owen was sure the enemy would be covering every exit. And with unknown levels of technology at their disposal, he wasn’t about to try and hide.

Instead, he took advantage of Foreman’s grip to drag the doctor down the stairs alongside him. Two soldiers nearly ran into them as they rounded the landing of the next floor down. Owen dodged, throwing a punch at one of them and sending him flying down the stairs. The second reached out to grab him, his gun useless in such a close space, and Owen whipped Foreman around him and into the other man. Both went down in a heap, but Owen took a handful of Foreman’s jacket and pulled him back onto his feet before he could figure out what had happened. They jumped over the soldier moaning on the ground and continued running.

“Stop them!” a deep voice roared, trembling with subtle tones and guttural growls that originated from no human throat, and as though being jerked up by an unseen puppeteer, the soldier Owen punched sprang up and fired his gun. The two of them ducked and bullets pounded against the concrete wall beside where they’d been standing, bits of dust and cement tearing through the air. As they scrambled back to their feet, the other soldier -- the one Foreman knocked down -- leapt over the railings above them and fell a floor down, grabbing the wrought-iron bar of the railing beside Foreman and flipping back over it to land in front of them.

Heat waves shimmered through the air as the soldier’s features contorted, his skin melting and evaporating to reveal a grotesque, towering, bipedal iguana. Owen let out a great yell, throwing himself up the stairs as quickly as his hands and feet could manage, while a part of his brain kept screaming Throw the American at it; let it eat him first!

Foreman, meanwhile, was being quite obliging in regard to this plan. He simply stood there, frozen in absolute, abject terror. He wasn’t even trembling. His eyes grew wider and wider, though, and seemed in danger of rolling into his head. The iguana smiled and aimed its gun, which had transformed from a rifle into a small, red-barreled weapon with some resemblance to a caulking gun. Disintegrator. Owen remembered seeing something similar in the Torchwood archives, and this familiar, if extra-terrestrial, sight brought him back to his senses.

The alien was about to fire when a thought occurred to him. Surely Foreman’s not afraid of iguanas too? Gwen had always made fun of him about it, claiming he was the sole person in the entire world to have that particular phobia. “I bet they don’t even have a scientific name for it,” she’d teased.

He dodged the blast, throwing himself at Foreman’s feet. They both hit the landing with a grunt, but eye contact was broken and both were free from the terrible fear that’d gripped them. “Foreman, what did you see?” Owen gasped.

“My, my mother,” Foreman gasped. “And... she recognized me....” His voice drifted away, but Owen didn’t find now to be the time to ask why Foreman’s greatest fear was his mother.

“It’s a hallucination!”

Foreman glared shakily. “I know that. It was just... a surprise, that’s all.”

A whine announced the gun recharging, and they pushed apart in time for the alien to blast a hole in the landing. A creak, stretched out as though part of a slow-motion sequence, came from the quivering metal supports. Then the entire staircase collapsed, folding in on itself over and over as Foreman, Owen, and the alien--now turned into a wrinkled, leathery, tentacled mass--fell amidst twisting and snapping rods of metal.

“Oh Christ,” Owen muttered, feeling his neck to determine whether he’d pulled any muscles. Before his diagnosis got any further than Damn, my neck really hurts, he was distracted by more important issues, namely that of opening his eyes and discovering he was staring straight down the barrel of the disintegrator.

The laser blast missed his face by a bare centimeter, so close he could feel its heat on his cheek and hear the crackle and sizzle of the beam as it passed. Stunned that it had missed, he required a few seconds to notice Foreman standing where the alien had been. He’d pushed the creature aside just in time, knocking it over onto a jagged piece of railing and impaling it through the abdomen.

Behind Owen, a massive explosion forced him to whirl around in time to see what remained of the hospital’s back-up power generator soar up into the sky and take out a passing helicopter. Foreman watched the lights fade from the hospital windows with an expression similar to when he’d seen his mother. He licked his lips once, then said, “Maybe I should’ve let the laser hit you.”

“Yeah, thanks.” Owen was coming up with an even wittier comeback when a beeping interrupted his thoughts. The alien, drawing its last breaths, was eyeing him with a satisfied bent to its tentacles, and then he saw a device at its neck flashing mauve. “Bomb!” he cried, grabbing Foreman and running. They leapt the nearest wall and dropped to the grass as the concussive force of the detonation swept over them.

Foreman got back up first. “Hurry up!” he said, tugging at Owen. Owen grimaced, wondering what the fuss was about, before he looked up to see the entire car park collapsing.

“Right, I’m coming!” he said as Foreman threw himself to the right to avoid a falling piece of cement the size of a sumo wrestler. Scrambling to his feet, Owen dodged after Foreman, who didn’t look back as he ran for the hospital.

“There they are!” a woman’s voice cried from far away. Owen glanced in its direction and saw Chase and Cameron running toward them, both still moving a little awkwardly, probably due to the combination of suddenly switching bodies and then being trapped in a cramped space for a long time. Cars rained down all around them. Foreman hesitated a moment before changing course to meet with them.

“Is anyone following you?” he demanded as they approached.

Cameron shook her head, breathless, and Chase answered, “No, they cornered us on the ground floor when the explosion knocked them flat. Where do we go from here?”

All eyes turned to Owen. He scowled. “Back to the hospital. They’ll seal off the grounds as soon as they know we’re gone, and they’d have to be blind not to spot that blast.”

Cameron straightened from her hunched position with her hands on her knees and said wheezily, “The blackout will cause enough chaos to let us sneak in unnoticed.”

Owen glanced at the hospital and saw that all the lights were indeed out. The blast must have severed the power lines, and now, all that was left was the pale moonlight and the shifting glow of dying flames.

“Hurry,” Foreman said as several humvees roared past just a hundred meters away from them. “There’s a side entrance not far from here that leads into the stairwell.”

“Isn’t that an emergency exit?” Chase asked.

Foreman shrugged. “Another alarm or two isn’t going to make a difference, at this point. I just hope they can get the power back on soon.”

“Why?” Owen frowned. “That’s not going to help us.”

“It’s a hospital,” Cameron replied, sounding exasperated. “People are going to start dying if we can’t keep the machines running, and backup batteries only last so long. But I guess that doesn’t worry a great alien hunter like you.”

Owen reddened. “I’m a doctor too.”

“It’s hard to tell sometimes,” Cameron said, but her voice had softened.

The fire alarm did indeed ring the moment Foreman forced the door open, but they ignored it. “Where do we go from here?” Chase asked, pulling the door shut behind them.

“House was in the morgue with Gwen. We should find them; he might need help treating her condition.”

“What about Cuddy?” Chase asked.

“What about her?” Cameron replied.

“Well, I think we should find her.”

“Why?”

“Well, I’d feel better if we had Cuddy around.” Chase shrugged.

“No one’s going to fire you today.” Foreman scoffed. “No need to hide behind her skirts.”

“The window to her office is broken,” Chase countered. “I saw it from the garage.”

“You’re sure?” Cameron asked, her eyebrows raised. Chase nodded.

“Fine, we’ll look for House and Gwen, you two go find Cuddy,” Owen said. Foreman looked ready to dispute this division of labor, but Cameron gave him a stern look and he followed Owen down into the morgue. Above their heads, they heard the clatter of Chase and Cameron setting off upstairs.

“You’re not still trying to get me to sleep with you, are you?” Foreman asked suspiciously.

“You think those two are going to let each other out of sight? I mean, what if one of them gets the other’s body shot?”

Foreman sighed. “Alright. Mind you, I have no qualms with letting you get yourself shot.”

Owen sneered. “The feeling’s mutual.”

* * *


The car boot was musty and dark, smelling of moldy leather, gunpowder, and dead fish. Ianto couldn’t help feeling Susan had played a particularly unfunny joke on him. He was convinced her hair had been laughing at him as she closed the boot, but what was done was done.

He was brought out of his reverie by the sudden cessation of noise from the engine. The faint crackle of tires grinding to a halt on asphalt and stray stones drifted up from the underbody of the car, and then there were voices.

“How was the drive, Gordon?” someone asked. The driver made a noncommittal noise. The latch clicked, then a moment later, footsteps and the door slamming shut. Ianto waited for another minute until all the noise had died away before he grabbed the cord dangling enticingly by his head and the boot sprang open.

He surveyed his surroundings, taking in a vast expanse of fenced-in lawn and a Georgian mansion sitting in the midst of a decadent garden. Drumthwacket, he thought, recalling the governor’s mansion from the research he’d done prior to leaving Cardiff. No wonder I didn’t tell Susan where I was going. This is insane. Sending Tosh to infiltrate the place was one thing when she had someone who could bring her in and out safely, but to come here himself would endanger all three of them. Nevertheless, there must be something he had to discover that Tosh could not.

Three steps into his mission, he heard the unwelcome sound of alarms ringing through the building, followed moments later by barking that echoed across the grounds. Squinting against the light blazing from the house, he could make out six bloodhounds charging straight at him, and he retreated back to the car before realizing it was closed off and locked. Even the boot had been closed, and he cursed himself for his meticulousness.

Tosh must be in trouble, he thought, watching shadows dart back and forth across the windows. Of course, he was in trouble as well, and he wondered if Tosh was nearby if the governor’s dogs were being let loose here. Then he saw canine shapes slide around the side of the house as well, and his heart sank as he realized there must be a number of packs.

A glint of reflected moonlight caught his eye as he shifted his weight from foot to foot, preparing to dodge the first dog’s leap. Peering through the car window, he saw an aluminum baseball bat in the back seat. He shrugged off his coat without a second thought and wrapped it around his fist.

The window was a lot sturdier than he expected, and he bit back a curse as pain coursed up his arm, screaming hyperbole to his brain about broken knuckle bones. A web of cracks spread through the glass, though, and it broke with Ianto’s second punch.

He grabbed the bat, tearing his jacket sleeve on the jagged remains of the window as he pulled his arm back out in a wild swing that connected with a snout just as the first hound leapt at him. The dog whimpered and crashed into the car door to his left. He brought the bat down on a second dog but missed, and its bite tore through the jeans Susan had gone to such lengths to procure for him. With a grimace--as much due to his bleeding buttocks as to his psychological pain--he realized he only had one good suit remaining, though at least that one was safe in the Torchwood rental car.

A second jaw latching onto his shoe brought him back to reality, and he beat at the dog’s back to little effect. A fourth went for the offending hand that wielded the bat, and he had to throw himself back against the car to keep from getting bit. By this time, the first dog had recovered, and Ianto aimed a kick to its head to knock it out cold. Realizing he couldn’t outfight the entire pack, he took a step forward and nearly tripped as the dog attached to his shoe shook his foot back and forth, refusing to let go. He let the shoe slide off and ran for the house.

Immediately, a fifth hound grabbed his pant leg, bringing him crashing to the ground. He spat out a mouthful of dirt and grass as he swung blindly to keep the remaining hounds at a distance. Twice, he hit something tough and lumpy, the force of impact sending jolts up his arms. He began pulling himself away, still waving the bat back and forth. Chomping jaws, gnashing teeth, and globules of slobber gunning their way through the air filled his vision. The tear at his buttocks expanded, and he heard a loud RIIIIIIP as the entire waistline gave way and the pants collapsed, flat and unoccupied, onto the ground. He froze for the briefest of moments before his modesty lost precedence to the chance to escape, and he scrambled back to his feet and ran, his legs swinging in long arcs as he charged across the lawn at speeds faster than he’d ever achieved before.

The dogs kept pace behind him, but somehow, he managed to stay one step ahead of their sharp, yellow canines. They howled their fury at failing to outrun their prey, and he worried guards would come investigate the disturbance, but similar barks and yelps sounded all across the grounds, and before long, his pursuers fell silent as they devoted all their breath to keeping up the chase.

At last, the front door loomed up ahead, but he forced himself to turn right. No good to escape the dogs and get caught by worse, he thought, though his body vehemently protested this exercise of logic. He could see an open window leading into a darkened room, however, and his feet pounded against the concrete, a loud slap from his shoe followed by the soft thunk of his sock, as he raced up the front steps, threw himself through the hedges, and climbed in. The dogs tried to leap in after him but failed, and he collapsed onto the carpet, wheezing so hard he couldn’t even breathe a sigh of relief.

The dogs resumed their chorus of growls and howls as they hopped up and down outside the window, their heads popping into view long enough for them to bear their teeth before they fell out of sight again. Ianto dragged himself across the room, deciding he couldn’t afford to stay any longer, and threw himself through a door into the adjoining room.

The room looked to be a sitting area with cherry bookshelves lining the wonderfully windowless walls and a comfy forest green recliner sitting in the corner facing a coffee table and a silver tea set. He flung himself behind the chair to keep out of sight of the other door leading into the room, which he assumed led in from the hallway, and gave himself a few minutes to catch his breath before proceeding with an investigation of the manor.

When he finally ventured into the hall, the house was empty and silent. Floorboards creaked as he made his way toward the stairs, and though he winced at every squeak, no one appeared to challenge him. Of course, his first thought was to procure a new pair of pants, and he welcomed the lack of distractions.

Upon reaching the second floor, he listened at the first door he reached--which was to his left--and upon hearing no one on the other side, he eased it open and slid through. He had the drawers of the nearest wardrobe open before he realized his mistake, for the room was decorated in quite a feminine fashion and outfitted for one person. As if that wasn’t proof enough, a drawer full of panties stared back up at him.

“Well, well, well, what have we here?” a husky woman’s voice sounded from behind him?. He jumped and turned to see a woman in a floral pink nightgown leaning against the doorway he’d forgotten to close in his rush for clothes. She was a middle-aged woman with a touch of gray at her temples, but her skin was the smooth and burnished gold of a woman with the leisure time to care for herself and the wealth to ensure her care was of the best quality. She was eyeing him with a hawkish quality, as someone would an intruder whose appearance was a surprise but not necessarily an unpleasant one. Altogether unflustered, her posture indicated she had not a care in the world and no interest but in what she was seeing. Her fingers toyed with one slim, snow white cigarette whose burning end was smoking in an atmospherically sinister way, and she brought it to her mouth for a deep puff before drawing herself up to her full height.

She was only a few centimeters shorter than Ianto, but given that he wasn’t wearing pants, she seemed much taller indeed. If push came to shove, Ianto was sure he could escape her, but he didn’t want to raise an uproar if at all possible. In this manner, he was trying to come up with some plausible explanation for his presence when she presented one for him.

“Finally,” the woman said, putting the cigarette out in the pot of a nearby houseplant. “I’ve been asking Ron to send me my bodyguard pantless for months now. I see he’s finally gotten the message through his thick, metal-plated skull.”

“R-R-Ron?” Ianto stammered, images of all the possible reasons she could want a pantless bodyguard flashing through his mind.

“Mr. Kendall, or Head of Security Kendall, if you prefer. You boys are always such sticklers for propriety.” She eyed him up and down, as though saying there were distinct bounds beyond which the definition of appropriate behavior became much more fluid and flexible.

“Um, well...” Surely she wouldn’t actually abuse her position of privilege to the extent that, say, Jack did. Would she? Then he realized who he was speaking to, for what other lady in the governor’s mansion would need a bodyguard? Of all the people to meet, it had to be his wife! “Well, that’s what I’m here for, er...” he wracked his mind for her name, “um, Mrs. Streed.”

“You’re bleeding,” she said, the lustiness dropping out of her voice. Suddenly all business, she strode over, grabbing his shoulders--her fingers possessing unexpected strength--and whirling him around. She ran one polished fingernail up along his thigh, ignoring his wince of pain as she examined the tears in his briefs. “You’re new, then. The dogs don’t take well to newbies, and that’d explain why I haven’t seen you before.”

She grabbed a small glass jar from the wardrobe and unscrewed the lid, running her fingers along the ointment within and rubbing it into his wounds. “This should take care of things.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Ianto said obediently.

“Call me Rebeca,” she whispered into his ear, rolling the ‘R’ much longer than Ianto felt she needed to.

“Uh, yes, Rebeca, ma’am.” Ianto jumped and squeaked as her hands jumped from his buttocks to his waistline and pulled his underwear down, down, down.

Her body now pressed against his, she moved her lips from his ear to his cheek, pushing the tip of her tongue against his skin. Their eyes met, and he didn’t think he’d ever seen anyone with eyes so big and round as hers. I’m getting mauled by a cougar! he thought.

“If you pull open that top drawer,” she said between kisses, “you’ll find handcuffs hidden in the back.”

Ianto whimpered but reached for the handle, at which point she suddenly pulled away from him and slapped his hand. “Honestly,” she snapped, “do you really think I’m stupid enough to believe you’re part of my security detail? You don’t know any of the protocols, and even if you did, I know who my bodyguards are.”

Ianto jumped, stunned--and also thoroughly relieved--by this new development, and then got tangled up in his briefs and fell in a heap on the other side of the bed. “You’re not calling for help, then, I assume?” he said from the floor.

“No, I suppose not,” she replied, sounding thoughtful. Ianto pulled his underwear back on and poked his head over the edge of the bed in time to see her tapping her finger against her chin and eyeing him thoughtfully. “Perhaps I should have seen how far you were willing to go. But no, I daresay we don’t have any time to waste.”

“What do you mean?”

She swept off into the bathroom, and for one terrifying moment, Ianto was sure she was going to come back with more sexually suggestive items, but all she carried was a magazine. Surely that can’t cause any problems, he thought, and then he groaned. It was Playboy.

“Look,” she said, tearing open the magazine as though to a random page, and she jabbed a finger at the first line of the article.

“‘Ho ho ho: Christmas comes early as archaeologists unearth nude sketches of rumored Pirate Queen,’” Ianto read aloud. The opposing page was devoted to a heavily smeared charcoal drawing of a woman whose beauty (and utterly X-rated nature) age and weather had failed to dull. Ianto thought the woman looked like that actress from Love, Actually and Pride and Prejudice. “Yes, so?”

Rebeca clucked, her own posture indicating she had little patience for his foolishness. “Not that actual article, or the title. We’re looking at the first letter of each sentence. Piece them together, and you get: ‘Jack Harkness, my fellow captain, we shall meet again at Shipwreck Island.’”

Ianto had to make an effort not to start. And yet, if she was working for her husband, she would’ve turned him in by now, unless she was meant to be feeding him false trails, yet what was Shipwreck Island? If they wanted to be misleading, they could at least choose a better ruse, and it was too much of a coincidence for the secret code to be a message that coherent, aimed at one of them.

“What issue is this?” Ianto asked.

Rebeca showed him the cover; it was from three months ago. Ianto sighed. Right when they began tracking new activity from the Rift. Clearly the world never intended to give him a break. “What do you think it means?” he said.

“I’ve been doing some research. There are no records of Shipwreck Island after the 1740s, and mentions of it before then are few and far between. I’d almost say someone’s been wiping out all trace of it, if I could think of a reason why.”

“But where is it? What is it?”

“It’s a mythical island, supposedly impenetrable except by those who know its secrets, and the stronghold of pirates.”

Pirates?

She grinned. “It’s connected to all sorts of myths. A Brethren Court of Pirate Lords, a final battle for the future of the seas, a great kraken larger than the grandest ship of the time, and even the Fountain of Youth. Think of any legend from the time period, and pirates following the codes of Shipwreck Island were linked to it.”

That was all well and good, but what did it have to do with Jack? Surely he’d never been that far back in the past? Jack had many secrets, but...

And then he realized what had been bothering him since he first heard the message, the real reason, he now realized, for his being so skeptical about its authenticity. We shall meet again. If the message was real, was the author a fellow time traveler, or a fellow immortal, or both?

Fountain of Youth... But no, that had no bearing on the present situation. Even if the aliens were after immortality, their actions were not those of seekers of a mystical Earth legend. Besides, the message was aimed at Jack. From a three-hundred year-old pirate? Unless the magazine itself was a hallucination brought on by a psychic field he couldn’t sense around the house, or maybe an elaborate hoax. But if the aliens had that level of technology, why didn’t they just use it on the hospital? Why weren’t they using it to capture him right now?

“You think I’m insane, don’t you?” Rebeca looked disappointed and vaguely hostile at the same time. “That’s what my husband thought. Well this”--a raised middle finger--“is for him.

“Why are you showing me this?”

“You’re from Torchwood.”

Ianto would’ve groaned if he didn’t think she might take it the wrong way. Was there no shred of secrecy left around their organization?

“You’ve been spying on your husband.”

“I also know you know who Jack Harkness is.” She shook a finger at him. “Naughty boy, keeping secrets to yourself, and after I procured a pair of pants for you.”

“Where?” he asked, suddenly acutely aware of the breeze from the air conditioning caressing his buttocks. “I don’t see any pants.”

“I’ll bring them to you if you cooperate. But they’re as good as here already.” She looked almost pouty, as though offended he didn’t trust her. Well, he didn’t, but if she could bring him pants...

“I have no idea what the message means,” he said honestly. “Jack’s never been further back in Earth history than 1850, or if he has, he’s never told me or any of my co-workers.”

“My husband’s working with aliens,” she deadpanned. Ianto frowned.

“I know,” he replied. “But you don’t think he’s an alien himself?”

“Lord no!” she exclaimed. “I mean, if you’ve seen some of his personal habits, well, those he certainly didn’t pick up from Mars. Florida, more likely. I’ve heard the men are very strange and disgusting there.”

“What exactly do you want me to do!”

“Take me with you.”

He sighed. That was what he’d expected, but... “I can’t.” Expecting some form of violent reaction, he tensed himself to intercept any move she might make, but instead, she stood, her face completely smooth, and swept out of the room. She returned a minute later with a pair of jeans.

“My husband’s about the same size as you,” she announced, stuffing it into his hands.

“You’re not going to argue?”

Her voice was sultry as she replied, “I’ll get what I want.”

He tried to suppress a shiver and failed. Before she left to replace the Playboy, her eyes held a determination that reminded him of Jack. And Jack always got his way.

* * *


“My mother never loved me!” Jarrod Talmage wailed, almost blowing his nose on Wilson’s coat sleeve (he dodged just in time). The oncologist was fairly certain a gentle pat on the shoulder might be helpful right about then, but his other arm was also occupied--by the other soldier in the elevator, who was going on at length about the drug problems he’d had in middle school and how he felt they’d help him fit in after being labeled a teacher’s pet.

“I’m sure she just didn’t know how to show it,” Wilson said. “You see, it’s fairly common for parents to project their own wishes and desires on their children, sometimes to the point that it blinds them as to who their children really are. And because of that, even though your mother was doing what she thought best for you, it now seems she didn’t love you. It’s a classic case of breakdown in communication.”

“But I just wanted to be a ballet dancer!”

The other man, Orrin Meeks, sat up straight. “Queer,” he spat. Wilson punched him.

“This is a safe zone, Orrin,” he reprimanded. “Everyone should feel loved.”

“It’s not fair!” Orrin retorted. “I was never loved! Never! Except by my teacher. And if she really loved me, she wouldn’t have loved me!”

“Uh...”

I love you, Orrin!” Jarrod blinked. “Not like that, of course. It takes a real man to do ballet.”

“How so?” Orrin looked thoughtful. “I mean, you’re swinging around women dressed in tutus. It’s the adult equivalent of playing with Barbie dolls.”

“A Barbie with a real pussy! And you wouldn’t think it, but damn, those anorexic chicks are heavy to toss around.”

“Let’s get back on topic,” Wilson said. Orrin had a light in his eyes that suggested he was rethinking the manliness of ballet-dancing. “Come on, group hug!”

“I feel loved!” Orrin proclaimed after said hugging session was completed.

“Isn’t that, like, step 7 of the recovery program for addicts?” Jarrod said, eyeing Wilson suspiciously. “Are you suggesting we’re addicts?”

“Everyone craves love,” Wilson said, rather enjoying himself. There was nothing like brightening someone else’s day to make oneself feel better. “It’s a fundamental human drive.”

The two soldiers thought this over and decided to go to Broadway together once they finished their service.

A few more minutes passed, and Wilson announced, “I’m fairly certain rescue isn’t forthcoming. I think it’s time we tried to escape.”

Jarrod’s jaw dropped as his gaze moved up to the ceiling panel so often used in movies to escape similar situations. “You tricked us into talking for three and a half hours!”

Wilson shrugged. “What can I say. I’m good at that. You don’t regret it, do you?”

At first, the two seemed on the verge of exploding into violence, but then Orrin shrugged and knocked out the panel. “You’re lighter,” he said, pointing at Wilson. “We’ll lift you out first.”

Forming a platform with their hands, they boosted Wilson up, and he soon found himself in the elevator shaft. An eerie silence had settled over the entire hospital so that no noise came through from the sealed exits above and below him. The car creaked as his weight shifted it about, sending the cables quivering and rattling.

“Can you take our guns?” Jarrod said, handing his rifle up to Wilson. Orrin simply tossed his into the air, causing Wilson to make a wild snatch for it.

“Shoot!” He cursed, which was a very appropriate thing to say, because at that moment, he lost his balance and knocked the rifle against the wall whereupon it discharged, sending a flurry of bullets ricocheting through the shaft. Sparks flew, and then a new sound entered the mix; it was the sound of fraying cables. “Uh guys...” Wilson said. “Brace yourselves.”

The cable snapped, and the car plummeted. Steel girders raced up past him as Wilson grabbed hold of the opening into the cart and held on for his life. The elevator hit bottom with a jarring crash, sending Wilson through the open panel and into a jumble on the floor. Jarrod and Orrin were slammed against the walls, but despite the debris and dust that filled the car, both appeared relatively uninjured.

Wilson looked up and saw the doors had been forced open by the impact. Three soldiers stood outside, expressions of shock on their face. Then one pointed at him and screamed, “He’s a terrorist!”

Wilson sighed and put his hands into the air.

* * *


The first sensation Jack felt was pain. A throbbing in his chest mixed with tingling as his muscles, skin and bones re-grew, expelling the bullet from his body.

Taste was the second sense to return, and he knew there was blood in his mouth. Even as he became aware of the tangy bitterness, however, it faded, flowing back down his throat and reuniting with his body. That part of the process, he reflected absently, had always felt really weird.

The smell of smoke filled his nostrils. It stung and carried an acrid tang like fumes from a burning battery. Then he heard sirens outside. That was a good sign; he hadn’t been buried alive. He hated it when that happened.

His heart began beating now, and he could hear pounding as his eardrums throbbed in sympathy with the flow of blood, mirroring the contractions in his chest. The tickling sensation of skin knitting itself back together faded away, and he knew it was time again.

A deep gasp accompanied the rush of oxygen back into his lungs, and his body spasmed as though revived by a defibrillator. Sitting up, his eyes opened. The room was as he’d left it: dark, messy and covered in blood. At first, he didn’t see the two bodies crumpled in the shadow of Cuddy’s desk, but as he stood, he noticed a glint of moonlight off something metallic. He gasped as he realized it was Cuddy’s watch, still attached to a hand extending from beneath a corpse that had a high-heeled shoe sticking out of its neck.

He threw the body off her and was relieved to find Cuddy’s chest still rising and falling. And jiggling... just a little bit.

With Posey’s weight off her, Cuddy groaned and her eyes shot open. When she saw Jack, she screamed and threw herself backward away from him. Clutching her chest, she glared at him and remarked, “I thought you were dead.”

“I was,” Jack replied, offering her a hand. She took it, and he pulled her to her feet. “And then I came back to life.”

"You came back to life," she echoed in a deadpan.

"Yes," Jack confirmed briskly. "And I'd appreciate it if you didn't mention this to House."

"You died, and then came back to life."

"Er, that is what I said, yes. And don't tell House."

Cuddy spared the corpse an unreadable glance and then appeared to give up. “Oh, I don’t intend to,” she said, and Jack wasn't sure if that was because she didn't believe him or if she was lying. He thought she was taking the news quite well, but then again, a woman who would kill someone with her shoe was not one to take lightly.

“We should get out of here before Smythe comes,” she added.

Jack’s reply was cut off by the door bursting open. Cuddy let out a little shriek and grabbed Jack’s arm, but Chase and Cameron turned out to be the new arrivals.

“Oh my god, what happened?” Chase exclaimed.

“You’re covered in blood!” Cameron noted.

“Why are the lights off?” Jack asked, realizing the room was darker than it should be.

“Because aliens blew up the power generator,” Chase replied. “And the parking garage,” he added as an afterthought.

Cuddy closed her eyes and groaned, not bothering to check the view outside her window. Instead, she reached for the phone on her desk and hit the speed dial.

“House is only number 6 on your list?” Cameron asked.

“He's number 6 because there isn't a speed dial number 666,” Cuddy replied. “Yes, House, where are you?”

Jack leaned closer and heard the man reply, “I’m in the middle of a surgery, Cuddy. We can have phone sex after I sew Gwen up.”

“You’re operating on Gwen?” Jack roared. Cuddy sighed and turned on the speakerphone, replacing the receiver. “In the middle of a blackout!”

"I'm a little more worried about the fact that you answered your phone in the middle of it," she told him.

“Well, strictly speaking, a dedicated team from the Mayo clinic is operating with the room hooked up to a back-up generator that they brought specifically for this purpose.”

Cuddy’s jaw dropped. “Where did they come from? And are they free to give a lecture to the students sometime this week?” Jack glared at her.

“A man named Bilis went back in time and scheduled an appointment. He evidently doesn’t trust me or Weinbacher to mess with his precious Gwen.”

“Bilis! Precious?” Jack could feel his brain trying to commit suicide. “The Bilis with the cravat?”

“Yes,” House replied rather sullenly.

Weinbacher?” Cuddy said. “That crazy plastic surgeon I fired two years ago?”

“He got fired?” a woman screamed from House’s end. “House! I’m going to kill you!”

“That’s Tracy,” House said. “She gets rather overwrought. It’s the ovaries, you know.”

“Why is Weinbacher in my hospital?” Cuddy shrieked. “He tried to give breast implants to two unconscious lupus patients!”

“You never managed to fire him. I stole the papers and used them to line Steve’s cage. I have to steal a lot of your papers, because he pees a lot.”

Cuddy gritted her teeth, her fingers reaching unconsciously for the high-heel still embedded in Posey’s neck. Breathing heavily, she managed to control herself long enough to ask, “Where are you, House?”

House gave the room number and then added, “I really wish I could see your breasts heave right now.”

Cuddy slammed down the “End Call” button and rounded on Chase and Cameron.

“We didn’t know, I swear!” Chase squeaked. “I’ve never even heard of Weinbacher!”

When they arrived at the room, Tracy met them outside. “Where’s House?” Cuddy demanded.

Tracy grimaced. “He’s not here. He said he needed to pee, and that was right about when you hung up.”

Which was over ten minutes ago, given the amount of time it took to sneak through the hospital while avoiding detection. Jack had suggested they hide under cardboard boxes to avoid suspicion, but Cameron thought that was a terminally stupid tactic.

“So you two escaped?” Tracy said brightly. “House told me all about your rescue attempt, Dr. Cameron.”

“We all did. That’s why the garage exploded,” Cameron said. “Foreman and Owen went to the morgue to look for House, but clearly he’s not there anymore. We should really pick them up.”

“How’s Gwen?” Jack asked.

“House found a tumor on the adrenal gland which caused the stroke and violent mood swings. The surgery to remove it is very dangerous, but the doctors finished an hour ago--House was lying on the phone--and she should be fine. However, a pheochromocytoma is very rare and House thinks it is a symptom of something else, so we still have to find the root cause, but at least she won’t be in danger of dying anymore.”

Jack breathed a sigh of relief. The door opened and a doctor poked his head out. “Uh, Nurse Kindle? She’s waking up.”

Tracy frowned. “The sedative shouldn’t wear off this soon.”

“There was some adrenaline released during the operation. We think that might be the reason. She’s asking to see someone, though.”

“Jack?” Tracy said, looking straight at him. He nodded thanks and entered. The doctors handed him a pair of shoes with suction cups on them, and he stared at it for a moment before noticing the blood on the floor.

“That’s not Gwen’s, is it?” he asked. The doctor shook his head, so Jack turned to Cuddy and whispered, “No matter what you see when you enter, don’t scream.

Cuddy sighed.

Gwen was lying on a cot, having been moved from the operating table and carted to the end of the room. She was covered in blankets so that he could only see her face and a halo of black hair pillowed out under her head. She looked weak, and when she saw him, she could barely manage the smallest of smiles, but her eyes were expressive enough to make up for the lack. “You’re back,” she whispered.

“How are you feeling?” Jack asked, kneeling beside her.

“Awful.”

A thousand things to say rushed through Jack’s mind, from Bilis to House to the aliens to whether she was in pain, but nothing seemed appropriate. One and a half centuries had taught him the effectiveness of silence, though, so he smiled back at her, and she seemed satisfied.

“I’m going to kill House,” Cuddy proclaimed, squishing her way through the room. “Where the hell could he be? He’s a wanted man!”

“House?” Gwen said. “House is missing?”

“Don’t worry about that, we’ll find him,” Jack said.

Gwen shook her head, the barest shifting of her head left and right. “He was acting... weird.”

“Umm...” Tracy said, the utterance carrying the meaning: House is always weird. And I’m going to kill him.

“No, it was... after the soldiers came in.”

“You were conscious during that?”

“The doctors gave me a second sedative while you were yelling at House. But... oh my god.

“What? Is something wrong?” Jack asked. “Are you in pain?”

“The soldiers! They were wearing radiation scanners. And House saw them. And he knows we’re searching for... check my bag!

Jack strode over to a nearby chair where all of Gwen’s belongings had been moved from the old room. Opening it, he checked the various pockets and found nothing. “Damn it,” he muttered.

“What’s happened?” Cuddy asked.

“House stole Gwen’s radiation scanner. He’s not hiding; he’s searching for the alien artifact!”

“That thing’s dangerous!” Cameron said. “I’m sure as hell not letting House get his hands on that again.”

“Then we have to find it before he does,” Cuddy replied. “Damn him and damn his curiosity.”

“Whoa, who said anything about ‘we’?” Jack threw his hands into the air. “You’re not coming with me.”

“We have a stake in this too, now,” Cameron said.

“And your team is missing,” Chase pointed out. “You need all the help you can get.”

Jack hesitated. Half a minute passed without him making a decision, and he knew that alone was a mistake, but what they said was true, and they weren’t incompetent. Finally, Gwen made the decision for him as she said, “I trust them, Jack.”

Well, maybe it wouldn’t hurt for Torchwood to gain a few more members. Besides, everything was going to change--it just wasn’t supposed to happen like this. “All right, fine,” he said, and he couldn’t help but feel they’d all just committed to much more than a simple search.

To Chapter 8: Falling

Back to Chapter 7: Part 1



Summary: Been a long, long time, but we hope this chapter’s worth the wait as we build up steam to the big Princeton finale. In today’s episode: House and Tracy engage in the medical equivalent of mudwrestling, Jack and Cuddy bleed all over each other in her office, Monty and Tosh are emo, Ianto gets mauled by attack dogs, Wilson is stuck in an elevator, and everyone else is stuck in Torchwood’s car trunk. This is the halfway point of Arc 1, which will have 13 chapters.

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21 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
jane_olive From: jane_olive Date: September 15th, 2007 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I love this story, its great. Hope the updates come soon.
randomhouses From: randomhouses Date: September 18th, 2007 05:19 am (UTC) (Link)
hey, thank you! We appreciate you taking the time to comment! Our updates will be weekly to twice a month, on average, just to let you know, because college is unfortunately very time consuming.
tiggerbrasilf From: tiggerbrasilf Date: September 15th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
This story is totally hilarious I'm loving the mix of the 2 shows (: It'll be interesting to see how it all sorts itself out (:
randomhouses From: randomhouses Date: September 18th, 2007 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
hey, thanks for continuing to bear with us through all the delays! Also, if you're interested, feel free to fill out the poll at http://randomhouses.livejournal.com/13829.html about forthcoming fandom additions.
tiggerbrasilf From: tiggerbrasilf Date: September 18th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Delays happen to everyone sometimes (: Its certainly a fun read and I'll have a look at your poll (:
suziq_phoenix From: suziq_phoenix Date: September 18th, 2007 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)
So basically right now you are my favourite person. It took me a long time to read this, but since I never turn off my laptop, it was always waiting for me... university takes up so much time! Anyhoo, I love this fic like woah. You better not let us down on the Jack/House/Wilson because when I read that I was like "OMG OMG OMG! TEH HOT!" So yes.

YOU MUST WRITE! PLEEEEEAAAAAASE! *wants*
randomhouses From: randomhouses Date: September 18th, 2007 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)
thank you for the lovely comment! And I also felt obligated to tell you that I love your icon!!!

By the way, this is actually a co-authored fic, written by suninos (me!) and muskratio (the crazy one). So if anything goes wrong, it's her fault!! Haha, just kidding. Anyway, I've agreed to a Jack/House/Wilson plotline somewhere down the line--I'm a rather adamant Jack/Ianto shipper, but muskratio won that argument. Oh, and updates should come on a weekly to twice monthly basis, because college is evil.
suziq_phoenix From: suziq_phoenix Date: September 18th, 2007 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
If it takes Jack to bring House and Wilson together, I'm all for it. Then he can go back to Ianto. Oh, Wilson, you must get your man! *g*

But weekly to twice monthly?? Oh ho! That means something soon then! *waits excitedly*
randomhouses From: randomhouses Date: September 20th, 2007 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
(this is Muskratio now - this joint account thing is confusing. (: )
Oh, I hope soon. XD The next installment is going to be an interlude, though, but right now I'm trudging through a BORING (to me) part, so it's taking me a while. D:
And yeah, college takes up SO MUCH time, that's also part of my excuse for taking forever. XD
kelly_holden From: kelly_holden Date: September 22nd, 2007 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Got linked to chapter 1 a few days ago. I love this story, and I'm friending you to keep track of updates.
randomhouses From: randomhouses Date: September 24th, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! Glad you like. :D
elenariel From: elenariel Date: October 12th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
As usual, I am loving this! :D And you have no idea the amount of squeeage you caused by adding in Jack Sparrow.:D
randomhouses From: randomhouses Date: October 16th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh? Who said it's Jack Sparrow?

*gets slapped*

Well, ok, yeah, it most likely is. :)

-suninos
elenariel From: elenariel Date: October 17th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
:D Haha to be fair I read this chapter a few days ago and was going off what I remembered. But still, much aceness if it is Jack Sparrow.;)
lyonie17 From: lyonie17 Date: October 17th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I just read this whole thing in like two days. While I was working.
It's great. It's insane, and it all works, and I love it.


Thanks for the add, by the way! It was so late last night I just knew I didn't want to lose you, but couldn't compose any coherent thoughts for feedback... Anyway, keep up the excellent work!
randomhouses From: randomhouses Date: October 17th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for the add and the wonderful comment. I'm sorry we cut into your productivity, though, haha.

Unfortunately, we've definitely hit a point in our college careers where writing additional chapters is difficult, so we're on a sort of once every 6 weeks update schedule... more or... more. In any case, hope you'll stick with us, and I'll definitely have to find time to read some of the promising-looking fics on your journal as well, though I haven't seen Supernatural.

-suninos
lyonie17 From: lyonie17 Date: October 17th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I certainly understand about college. (I work at one.) So no worries there. Do what you gotta do.

Supernatural is ... well ... it's kinda like Torchwood only with two brothers instead of a team, and no Hub, or pteradactyl, but they do have a 67 Chevy Impala, and there's demons instead of aliens. Kind of. You should definitely check it out, when the schoolwork's light. That being said, none of my fics should spoil you in any way for the show.
randomhouses From: randomhouses Date: October 17th, 2007 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Supernatural has always sounded interesting and it's one of those shows where I'm like "I'll look it up next semester" and then get distracted again. I'm not worried about spoilers though (all my friends know I'm spoiled rotten for everything that I watch), and I also watched (*sob*) Veronica Mars, so there were all those spoilerific, horrible CW promos last year for Supernatural.

-suninos
From: tortured_727 Date: January 18th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC) (Link)

hey

i love this
a LOT!
I'm only new to live journal cause i joined just to be able to tell you that you rock and keep tabs on things
=)

can't wait for the next chapter!
while I'm waiting i might read it again
see if i missed anything
randomhouses From: randomhouses Date: March 20th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: hey

hey, thanks for the comment! Your enthusiasm is much appreciated. I've gotta admit, we were surprised to see your comment, as we haven't posted in something like 5 months and we had no clue people could still find the fic. Nevertheless, the next chapter is actually done, so expect to see something new within 7 days.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 20th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: hey

yea i was just searching for some good fanfic
took a bit to find it
but i was bored and it worked out it was worth it!
21 comments or Leave a comment