All in the Head
(Part 2 of 2)
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Chase, Foreman, and Cameron were waiting for House for close to ten minutes before they realized he wasn’t showing up.
“Where’s House?” Cameron asked. “No way he’s still in the clinic.”
“Where have you been the last few years?” Foreman said.
“Uh, guys…” Chase was pacing by the window, and he pointed outside. “The light in Wilson’s office is on.”
“So?” said Foreman.
Chase ignored him and went through House’s office onto the balcony. Cameron shrugged and followed him out. Foreman just snickered, which Cameron thought was an exceedingly odd reaction.
Sure enough, House was in Wilson’s office. In fact, he was the only one in Wilson’s office. Sitting back in his chair, with his feet on the table, House was watching TV and twirling his cane around. The three of them clambered over the wall dividing the two balconies, and Chase tried the door. It was locked. He knocked, and House looked up.
“Let us in!” Chase said.
“Go around and use the front door like polite people.”
Foreman rolled his eyes but didn’t bother protesting. He turned and climbed back over the wall. Cameron followed.
“No, that’s ridiculous, House!” Chase said. “I’m staying here until you open the door.”
“Can’t you stand up to me on something useful?” House asked.
When they reached the door bearing Wilson’s name, they found it locked too, but House opened it for them. Cameron glanced at the side door and saw the balcony was empty.
“Where’s Chase?” she asked.
“He finally saw reason,” House replied, slamming the door shut. As he turned the lock, they heard a thump and the door shook on its hinges.
“Ow!” Chase’s muffled cry came from the other side.
“Sorry!” House said. “The door’s jammed! Try the balcony entrance!”
“Just let him in.” Cameron said.
“Don’t stand up for your lover.”
“I’m not sleeping with him!”
“Focus on your work, Cameron! I assume you’re here with the lab results, which will all be negative.”
Cameron sighed. “How did you know?”
“Because your suggestions were stupid!”
Foreman laid out several negatives on the desk. “MRI showed nothing; other than the stroke, her brain’s clean. What are you doing in Wilson’s office?”
“I’m office-sitting for him. His porn stash gets lonely.”
“TSH levels were normal,” Cameron said, “but she’s hypoglycemic, so insulinoma is still on the table.”
“Low blood sugar is also indicative of many other conditions,” House said.
“None of which explain the seizures, panic attacks, and vision.”
“Insulinoma doesn’t cause strokes. Her hypoglycemia occurred after her arrival, so it may simply be due to weight loss from the stroke. Check her heart, it’s the next most likely candidate to throw a clot in the brain.”
A knock showed Chase had made his way back to the balcony door. House got up, and Chase looked relieved until House plastered the MRI against the glass right in front of his face and yelled, “Get out of the way; you’re blocking the sun.”
“What are you looking for?” Cameron asked, suddenly wary.
“You idiots,” House said. “Foreman’s obsessed with the brain, but I expected you to know better. It’s all in the head, it always is, but whoever said the brain was the only thing in there?”
Chase tapped the glass. “It looks like there’s an angioma in her eye.”
“Wow, maybe I should’ve locked one of you outside instead. We assumed the loss of color vision was due to brain damage from the stroke, but we can already see at least one clot in her retina. What if there’s something wrong with the eye itself?”
“If it’s a cavernous hemangioma, it’s usually autosomal,” Foreman said.
“We managed to get a full medical history from the hospitals in Wales,” Cameron said. “There’s no family history of relevant diseases, and we have her parents’ DNA tests. It isn’t genetic.”
“Most people can go a lifetime without experiencing symptoms,” House replied. “But it could also be a simple clot, which would make it another symptom of an underlying condition.”
Chase suddenly turned and ran to the other end of the balcony. “Hey! What’s that? It looks like there’s someone in your office!”
“Well, tell the janitor that if he cleans up now, he’ll just have to do it again later!” House yelled. “Now back to the case; give her some starch and make sure her glucose level returns to normal, then monitor it and see if it changes. If it does, we’ll know it’s a new symptom.”
Chase was leaning over the very edge of the balcony now as he strained to get a better look into House’s office. “Hey! House! He’s going through your files! Get out of there!”
Pushing down against the concrete with both hands, Chase swung himself onto the wall and charged House’s office, but his feet came down against some dirt and lost their traction. The sudden loss of footing sent Chase crashing down onto the divider. He began sliding backwards. “Oh shit!” he said, grabbing for any handhold within reach, but it was too late, and a second later, he slid over the edge and vanished. This was soon followed by a loud thump.
“Chase!” Cameron cried, pushing House aside and running to the edge. Foreman and House followed close behind. She saw Chase sprawled on the ground a floor below.
“I’m fine!” Chase groaned. “I’m fine. Ow!”
“Come on, we’d better make sure he’s ok,” Foreman said, and he ran back into the office, dragging House behind him.
“Wait, what about the intruder?” Cameron called after them, but they were gone. She glanced back over the wall and saw that Chase was indeed correct. The man had stopped for a moment to see what the commotion was about, but as Cameron met his gaze, he turned away and nonchalantly began going through House’s drawers.
Taking care not to make the same mistake Chase had, Cameron vaulted over the wall and threw open the door.
“What are you doing?” she demanded. The man ignored her. She walked forward and grabbed his shoulder. “Sir, you need to leave immediately or I’ll call security.”
The man swung around and twisted her arm, slamming her against House’s desk. His face seemed to shimmer, momentarily revealing something scaly and dark beneath his skin, and then he hissed at her, sending small, almost aerosolized, droplets of ice cold spittle against her neck. She tried to twist away, but his grip was too strong.
“Dr. Cameron, don’t move!”
Two gunshots rang out, and she felt the pressure from the man’s weight disappear. She turned around and saw him spin apart into a cloud of black smoke. Two bullets clattered from mid-air onto the floor. Ianto Jones ran up to her and pulled her away from the desk with one hand, his other still pointing the gun around as he searched the room for where the man, or the thing, or whatever it was, had gone.
“You’re not supposed to have a gun in the hospital!” she said.
Ianto gave her an incredulous look. Right at that moment, wisps of smoke drew together out of thin-air and the creature re-materialized, this time as a towering, reptilian biped with fangs and six-inch long claws. It roared and slashed Ianto’s hand, sending the gun flying. Falling back, Ianto pushed her toward the door and lunged for the fallen weapon. The creature leapt on him, its claws tearing at his sides. Ianto screamed as the creature lifted him up and brought him toward its yawning jaws, but then it stopped, making a curious sniffing motion before tossing Ianto aside like a rag doll. He slammed into House’s desk with such force it collapsed about him.
Cameron had almost reached the door when the creature spoke, its voice boring into her head and grabbing hold of her as though she’d been conditioned to obey its every command. “You are contaminated. You know where the artifact is.” Its voice echoed within her mind, repeating over and over, and every time she heard it, her muscles seemed to lock down further.
She stood frozen in place, unable to will herself to escape as the creature took step after step forward, drawing ever closer. Behind it, she saw Ianto groaning as he struggled from the remains of House’s desk. Right as the creature came within arm’s-length of her, he reached his gun.
“RUN!” he screamed, firing.
The force of his voice drove the creature’s out of her head, and suddenly her limbs were her own again. The bullet struck the creature’s shoulder. Its skin flickered and faded like a hologram in a movie, leaving only a burst of smoke in its place. Then the same thing happened to its front as the bullet passed through its body and whistled past Cameron’s ear. She screamed and ran.
The creature howled in outrage. It spun toward Ianto and bellowed, “You will stay put!”
Then it turned and started bounding down the hallway after her, closing the distance between them with impossible speed.
“Somebody help me!” she screamed, watching it draw closer out of the corner of her eye. Right at that moment, a door opened before her, blocking her way. She screamed again, dodging to the side.
Surprisingly, it was Wilson who staggered out of what was apparently a custodial closet. His shirt was half-opened and his expression was somewhere between terrified and half-mad.
“Wilson, come back!” she heard Brenda’s voice calling in desperation.
Then Cameron was past the door, missing it with inches to spare. The creature was not quite as mobile, though, and its momentum carried it straight into Wilson. The poor man didn’t even see it coming. He let out a garbled cry as he and the creature tore the door off its hinges and went soaring down the hall past Cameron. She yelped, turned on her heels, and headed back the other way.
Behind her, the creature lifted Wilson up by his arms and pinned him against the wall. “You are contaminated too.”
A light seemed to emanate from the creature’s entire body as a bluish-red glow spread from it to Wilson, eventually enveloping both of them in a giant bubble. This lasted a few seconds, along with a low, bass-like hum, before the light vanished, like a bubble breaking, and the creature let Wilson slide to the ground.
As Cameron passed House’s office, a hand grabbed her, and she screamed, but it was just Ianto.
“How did you get out?” she asked.
“I’ve been trained to resist psychic attacks,” Ianto replied as they approached an intersection. “Though this... this is different. Turn right!”
“Where are we going?” Cameron demanded.
“I’m not sure!”
“Well that’s great!” The creature was rapidly gaining ground.
“Might be a good idea to get it out of the hospital,” Ianto suggested. “DUCK!”
The creature leapt as Ianto pushed her to the ground. It sailed past overhead, and Cameron winced as she felt its claws tug at her back, but it just snagged her lab coat and tore it off, leaving a trail of white fabric in its wake. Ianto fired once more, and the bullet went through it just like the ones before it had. He cursed and threw the gun to the floor, its clip empty.
“That’s all you have?”
“No weapons allowed in a hospital,” Ianto muttered.
The creature was staggering back to its feet, but just as it was ready to charge, Jack Harkness ran up screaming behind it and tackled it. For a moment, Cameron felt her spirits rise, as she saw Ianto’s body language relax upon the appearance of his boss. Then the creature picked Jack up and swung him around twice before launching him through the nearest window.
“Oh my god!” Cameron exclaimed. “Will he be all right?”
“Most likely,” Ianto said grimly as the creature roared at them. “Well, here goes nothing.” He let out a yell and charged the creature in the same manner Jack had.
“Ianto, are you mad?!” Cameron cried out, grabbing the remnants of his shirt collar. Ianto let out a choked gargle as he fell backward, but at least he wasn’t going to get himself killed. Of course, the blood stains his fall left on the floor weren’t encouraging, either. Before the creature could reach them, however, Jack Harkness burst screaming out of the stairwell and tried to tackle the creature again. This time, it simply ducked, sideswiping Jack’s attack and sending him flying back out the window a second time.
“This isn’t going to work.” Ianto groaned. “Do you keep extra clothes here?” he asked her.
“Yeah, in the office, why?”
“Go change, and get rid of the clothes you’re wearing now.”
“If I get attacked again, I’m going to need to buy more lab coats,” Cameron grumbled to herself.
“Yeah, and I’m going to need to buy more suits. Now go!”
While the alien’s back was still turned to them from pushing Jack out the window, Ianto ran up behind it and grabbed the remnants of Cameron’s lab coat. He quickly draped it around himself and kicked the alien.
“Hey! After me!”
The alien turned around, sniffed, and roared, “You are contaminated!”
Cameron dodged down the hallway. As she was about to enter the conference room, she noticed a dazed Wilson edging along the wall toward her. She ran up to him and grabbed his arm.
“AAAAH!” Wilson screamed before his eyes refocused. “Oh, it’s you. What happened?”
“Uh, a patient got loose.”
“A patient? That was a patient?”
“Well, of course it was a patient; what’d you think it was? A rampaging bipedal crocodile?”
“Well, no, of course not, but there was kind of some... slobbering... I think...”
“That’s ‘cause he was an Alzheimer’s patient. A really, really young... and mobile... Alzheimer’s patient. Who tackles people. Come on,” Cameron said softly, feeling bad for the terrified oncologist. “Here, follow me and you’ll be safe, ok?”
“All right, sure.” Wilson nodded, clinging onto her arm.
She quickly guided him into the conference room where she picked up her bag. Then they proceeded to the women’s restroom. When they arrived at the door, however, Wilson froze.
“Wait, where are we going?”
“Shhh, no one will find us in there; I just need to change my clothes.”
“You want me to watch you change?” Wilson went bug-eyed. “Are you seducing me, Cameron?”
Wilson backed away from her until he crashed into a wall and fell to the floor. He kept trying to back away, however, resulting in his arms and legs moving about in a weird, flailing pattern. “Back away, you evil seductress!” he yelled. “All you women, all you ever want to do is sleep with me! But I’ve had enough! I’m never sleeping with a woman again!”
Just about everyone on the floor stopped and stared at them. Cameron waved nervously and retreated into the restroom.
As Ianto ran down the hallway, he noted that Cameron really needed to find a different brand of perfume, because the one she had reminded him of Scottish sheep on a rainy day. His sides burned from the creature’s claws, and he could feel his legs weakening with every breath he took. Maybe that was just the cloying perfume from the lab coat, though. No wonder the alien thought she was contaminated.
He let out a breath of relief when he turned into a stairwell, hoping to lose the alien, and saw Jack running up the stairs toward him.
“You got it away from Cameron?”
Ianto nodded. “She doesn’t have the artifact because she was clean when I scanned her earlier in the day.” They burst through the door leading to the first floor. “I told her to change because her level of exposure should mean very little radiation got onto her body.”
“You will stop running!” The alien’s voice echoed down the stairwell and through the corridor at him. Ianto’s legs spasmed as his muscles try to seize while his brain fought the psychic impulse. Jack didn’t seem to have any problem at all, but it was clear neither of them could keep up the chase forever. Ianto was losing blood fast, and the creature could outrun either of them even on a good day.
“In there!” Ianto pointed. They raced into an exam room and started blockading the entrance with anything they could find. The bed, chairs, shelves, buckets, everything piled against the door until they could barely make it out.
When the alien arrived, it thumped at the frame and the entire room seemed to shake. Their barricade wouldn’t last long, and apart from a window, there was no avenue of escape.
“Bullets don’t work against it, but something else has to!” Ianto said, rummaging through the drawers. Jack quickly followed his lead and began to search the other side of the room.
Ianto nearly cut himself as he found the medical equipment. A quick search revealed nothing more deadly than a cutting tool, but that was better than nothing. He picked it up, telling Jack, “I’ve got a scalpel!”
“Great! I’ve got, uh... a, uh, well, a...”
“What? A gun? A needle? Laser? X-ray machine?”
“Remind me to apologize to the Doctor next time we meet.”
“What do you have?”
“A screwdriver.” Jack held up a small, miniature screwdriver with a yellow handle, similar to the sort used to fix glasses. “And it’s not even sonic,” he added mournfully.
The alien’s insistent thumping stopped. They both watched the door, waiting for the brief reprieve to end, feeling like characters in a horror movie. The seconds dragged on, the tense silence broken only by Jack throwing the screwdriver away in disgust. Ianto handed him a second scalpel, which he accepted gratefully, if dubiously.
Suddenly, Jack charged the window and began stabbing into thin-air. At the same moment, wisps of black smoke began creeping through the edges of the door in exactly the same way the alien had dematerialized earlier.
“Jack, what are you doing? It’s coming through the door!” Ianto said, backing away as the smoke drew closer and closer. There was no escape, though. For some reason, Jack was still grappling with some invisible monster, and all the while, the smoke drew closer and closer. Ianto screamed as it closed around him and forced itself into his mouth and nostrils. The world went black. “Jack! Jack! Help me! I’m going blind! It’s killing me!”
Ianto sank to the floor, twitching in agony.
“Ianto, stop moving!” He heard a crash, as though Jack was being thrown against the barricade, but the next instant, he could feel his captain’s arms around him. “Calm down, Ianto, and kiss me.”
“I hardly think this is the time for that, sir,” Ianto replied weakly.
Jack ignored him, and Ianto felt the pressure of his lips against his. The next instant, however, he felt something completely new, or almost completely new. A sort of warmth, like a rush of electric fire, passed from Jack’s mouth to his, and Ianto could feel the heat spread through his body. The only other time he’d felt this sensation was back in the Hub after Lisa had knocked him unconscious, and Jack had woken him with a kiss....
Ianto opened his eyes with a gasp and was relieved when light flooded his vision. He could see again! His gaze quickly shifted from Jack to the metallic object behind him. A five-foot wide, spider-like droid was struggling to escape from where it had been pinned against the ground by the bed. A faint, shimmering blue glow surrounded its body like an aura, and it moved on thick, tentacle-like legs. Their tips opened and closed, revealing razor-sharp blades hidden within, which it was currently using to try to file its way out from the bedpost. Jack had apparently sliced some of its circuitry, so it couldn’t shift itself to bring its weight to bear against the bed. Jack grinned. “So you see it now?”
It took Ianto a moment to realize what Jack meant. “That’s the alien?”
“The alien scout bot. Didn’t you wonder why it acted so stupid, like it was following pre-programmed protocols?”
Ianto shook his head. “Too busy. I was... concerned for the other people... in the hospital.”
Jack took off his army coat and applied it against Ianto’s wounds. “You’re losing blood.”
Ianto realized he was shivering, but even so, he tried to push Jack’s hands away. “You’ll... ruin the coat. Blood’s... impossible to get out.”
Jack shook his head, “What’s an army coat without a few bloodstains? Besides, you think this is my only one?”
Ianto tried to relax, but he was feeling weaker by the moment. The fact that Jack wasn’t calling for help meant it wasn’t too serious, though, so he tried to distract himself by talking. “So if it’s a hallucination... why can I see it now?”
Jack looked annoyed as the bot’s constant skittering grew more and more frantic. He had retrieved the screwdriver sometime while Ianto had been blinded, and now he stabbed it straight into the droid’s body. Its machinery failed with a high-pitched whine that built to an shrill intensity before suddenly dying out. Sparks flew as its legs went limp and the glow faded from its surface. Jack shrugged. “It was programmed to self-destruct if we tried to analyze it, anyway. Without further study, I can’t say for certain, but it seems the hallucinations were generated by a psionic emitter specifically targeted at human brain waves. I didn’t realize you weren’t seeing the same thing as me until you told me it was coming through the door, but then it all became clear.”
“Wait, but you’re human; you’re not like the Doctor. Why weren’t you affected?”
“Same reason you weren’t a few seconds ago. It was thanks to Tosh that the thought ever occurred to me, though. Remember back when she had the mind-reading pendant, and she could read everyone’s thoughts but mine? I had to make a conscious effort to get my brainwaves through to her.”
“So what’s the only difference between you and me? Other than the fact that you can make a devastating cup of coffee.”
Ianto’s eyes widened. “You can’t die.”
“More precisely, I can’t die because I’m infused with energy from the time vortex, which apparently creates an interference field that blocks psionic waves, so my thoughts don’t get through and mind-altering devices don’t affect me.”
“Is that why you didn’t see anything when Bilis was trying to convince us to open the Rift?”
“Yes,” Jack said, but he drew the word out a little too long, and Ianto knew he was lying. He decided to ignore the fact.
“And by kissing me, you transferred some of the energy to me.”
Jack nodded. “Yes. Unfortunately, the effect doesn’t last in your case, but it was just strong enough to bring you back. The level of control it was exerting over your brain, it was obvious it was trying to shut it down, kill you.” For a moment, Jack looked frightened. “I might’ve lost you if I’d delayed a few seconds longer.”
Ianto buried his face in the cloth of Jack’s coat and tried to control the quaver in his voice. “Yes, and who would do the filing then?”
Jack smiled as though indulging a child. His brows were furrowed, however. “What did it want, though?”
“It was going after the radiation, calling it contamination, and saying it was linked to an ‘artifact.’ It’s got the same goal as us.”
“And Cameron had a large dose of it on her. So did I.”
“So did Wilson, sir. It cornered him in the hall, too.”
“Yet none of us have the artifact.” Jack frowned. “What’s the common link?”
The thought hit them at the same time. “House!” they both exclaimed.
“It was going through his office,” Ianto added.
Jack stood and frantically began unblocking the door. “Keep applying pressure, Ianto, I’ll send help!” He finally got the entrance cleared. He paused a moment before he left and said, “Of all the people it could be, it had to be House.”
“Hurry and stop him,” Ianto said.
“The man’s got more curiosity than a freshly-dead cat,” Jack added. With that, he charged off.
“I’m fine, seriously,” Chase protested, trying to get up from the gurney. Cuddy pushed him back down again.
“You’re not getting up until we get these x-rays.”
“House is the best diagnostician around; if he agrees I’m fine, I’m fine.”
“He isn’t Superman.”
“Funny, that’s not what you said yesterday while we were having sex in the backseat of your car,” House said. He whacked Chase in the leg. “Does that hurt?”
“Better do a full scan.”
“Dammit, House, you’re just trying to get into her pants by agreeing with her!” There was a momentary awkward silence as Chase realized the subject of his comment was standing right next to him. He quickly rubbed his head, “Uh, I think I might have suffered some head trauma, though. I’m feeling a little woozy.”
Cuddy looked like she was going to ask for House’s cane, or at least let him hit his employee again. House wasn’t about to disagree. “No, Chase, sex by sucking up is what you do,” he told him.
A draft announced the entrance of Cameron and Wilson. For some reason, Cameron was missing her lab coat and wearing a completely different outfit.
“Wilson, did you do naughty things to Cameron’s clothes?” he said.
Wilson glared. Cuddy drew herself up. “Wilson, I’ve been hearing complaints about you from the staff,” she said. “I must admit, I’m surprised, but the sheer number of comments is stunning.”
Wilson sighed, “What have they been saying?”
House slammed the butt of his cane against the floor and yelled, “Discrimination! Just because the man likes to get it on with men is no reason for you to side against him in a case where evil nurses are clearly trying to slander our good oncologist. For shame, Cuddy, for shame!”
Cuddy’s jaw dropped. “That’s not what I’ve been hearing. Is this true?”
Wilson frowned. “If that’s not what you’ve been hearing, then what have people been saying?”
“They said you misled and sexually harassed one of the nurses.”
“I would do no such thing! I have been slapped, hit, abused, and intimidated by the nursing staff, but I have never done those things in return to anyone!”
Cameron suddenly turned to Wilson. “You’re gay?”
Foreman groaned. “Yes. Not everyone wants to date you, Cameron.”
Wilson looked embarrassed. “Not per se, necessarily.” He pulled out a prescription bottle and popped two pills into his mouth. House could hear everyone’s attention being drawn toward this trivial action.
Cuddy sighed. “The staff is gossiping about you, patients are complaining about you, and now you’re taking drugs? House is a bad influence.”
“Hey, hey.” House tried to look offended. “Monkey see, monkey do. Don’t blame the human.”
“I had to prescribe him some sedatives,” Cameron said, “because he wouldn’t calm down otherwise.”
“He doesn’t seem very calm right now,” House observed.
“Trust me, he was far worse earlier.”
“Yes, I was,” Wilson said cheerfully.
“He got attacked by a senile patient.”
“Typical,” Cuddy said. “I leave the hospital for ten minutes to grab lunch, and everything goes to hell.”
“Don’t worry, Cuddy, I’m sure it had nothing to do with you,” House said. She glared at him. He decided the conversation was beginning to bore him. As the others argued, House settled himself into an uncomfortable chair in the corner and watched. His mind wandered, and he thought briefly of his patient--what was her name again? Not that it mattered--but he soon dismissed that train as having no destination.
Casting his mind about for something more interesting to contemplate, he absent-mindedly reached into his jacket pocket for the crossword he'd stuck there yesterday. His eyebrows shot up when his right hand closed around something smooth and rounded. He pulled the mysterious object out of his pocket and examined it, turning it slowly in his hands. He'd completely forgotten that he'd found it the morning before, which was odd considering the less-than-normal circumstances under which it had turned up.
It was vaguely lemon-shaped and small--only about four inches from point to point, and perhaps a little more than two inches wide in the middle, at its fattest point. It was grey, though it also had a dark blue-ish tint to it when the light shone on it, and it felt impossibly smooth. There was a square of lighter grey about one by one and a half inches centered on the object that looked to House like some sort of screen, but he could feel no seam around its edges. There was nothing else, no marks or indentations or buttons, just... smoothness, to the point of seeming almost frictionless.
There was also something undeniably strange about its weight. He had not felt its presence at all when it had been in his pocket, as if it had weighed no more than a pencil or a handkerchief, but now that it was resting in his palm it felt much heavier, very heavy for its size, like it was made of condensed heavy metals. The weight was almost comforting, and this seemed bizarre to House. He would have thought there was nothing at all comforting about an object found in his own home that he'd never seen before and that appeared to have several seemingly abstract features.
Frowning, House tossed it gently into the air. It rose no more than an inch before falling back into his hand. His frown deepened and he tossed it up again, this time with a little more force. And again, it only rose an inch before dropping back down.
On a whim, he placed the object on the floor by his feet and gave it a little push. Instead of rolling across the floor as it ought to have, it appeared to roll in place. House watched and waited until it had stopped its gentle spinning, then picked it up again.
"Huh," he muttered to himself, slowly running his fingertips over the mysterious object, once again feeling the impossible seamlessness. When he turned it back over and glanced at the "screen," he was surprised to find that it was no longer blank, and he wondered what he might have done. Now, there were three black dots in an L-ish shape in the center of the screen, and one black dot in the upper right corner. He stared at it.
At that moment, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Startled, he whirled around to see Cameron looking worried and Chase looking annoyed. He was a little peeved that he'd been so lost in his own thoughts he hadn't even noticed them approaching. Cuddy had apparently taken Wilson out of the room so they could be empathetic together, and Foreman had wandered off in disgust--good man. Chase had clearly grown bored waiting for someone to perform an unnecessary procedure on him, so he’d limped over with Cameron to annoy House, as the two of them were wont to do.
"What's that?" Cameron asked, moving the hand she had rested on House's shoulder downwards in an attempt to take the object from him. He started, instinctively jerking his hand away and causing it to collide with the hard arm of the chair. The sudden, though minor, pain caused him to drop the object, and Cameron made a small sound of surprise. It fell to the floor and House, Cameron, and Chase stared as it spun calmly in place. House tried to come up with a suitably scathing comment, but before he thought of one he liked, Chase bent down and picked it up.
"Well that's curious, isn't it?" he mused, holding it at arms length between his fingertips, as if he thought it would bite him. Knowing Chase, he probably does, thought House, feeling a little peeved.
"Let me see." Cameron reached out to take it from him, but as her hand closed around it, her fingers pressed gently on the "screen", and it reacted by caving in.
What followed was not a loud bang or an inconvenient explosion, but a moment of utter silence. Not mere quiet, but rather the complete absence of any type of sound. When thinking of 'silence', people might imagine the lull in sound that comes from being alone in a room, or the awkward pauses that sometimes plague conversations. This could not compare. Even in those situations, there were the ever-present sounds of breathing and other bodily functions, of rustling fabric, of other background noises that tended to be ignored because people were used to them being there. In that moment, there was nothing.
And then it was over. The doors burst open once more and Jack Harkness entered with a shout, running over to them. He was followed by a pretty, Asian woman with excellent legs and a man with disturbingly prominent sideburns. House's ears were ringing and he could feel the beginnings of a massive headache, as well as an indefinable sense of sensory division that he couldn't even begin to logic away. Chase and Cameron were on the floor, but House couldn't remember how they had gotten there. There had seemed to have been no time or movement in between them standing and them lying there. The headache intensified.
"What happened?" shouted Harkness as he knelt down beside them. House ignored him in favor of first futilely massaging his temples and then conducting a thorough--but subtle, because he wasn't stupid--search for the object.
It was definitely gone. Somehow, this didn't surprise House in the slightest. Harkness shouted at him some more, but House ignored him and instead turned to the pretty Asian girl. If he had to talk to someone, a pretty girl--or Wilson, but he wasn't here--was always preferable to an angry yelling man who probably didn't like him anyway.
"What happened?" he demanded. She spared him an exasperated glare.
"You tell us. You were the one who was here!"
House stared at her blankly for a moment more, trying in vain to collect his thoughts. She did have a point, he conceded, but not out loud because it didn't actually matter.
“Well?” Harkness demanded.
“You clearly know something about it,” House said, preferring to be the accuser.
Harkness put his hands on his hips. “I asked first.”
Well, his argument certainly won over the flippant side of House’s mind, but even if he was in any mood to be helpful, he had no idea what had happened, so instead of answering, he turned dramatically on his heel--impressive for a man with a bum leg, he thought smugly--and swept out of the room. Eh... limped. But sweepingly. He needed to find Wilson, lots of coffee, and somewhere quiet and sane where he could carefully assess the last five minutes.
To Interlude: The Mastermind
Back to Chapter 3: Part 1
Summary: Part 2 of chapter 3, because it was too long to fit in one post. Huge chase sequence with aliens and guns and screwdrivers.