Tuesday, June 22, 2410
Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital
Earth, Centaurus Sector
Dr. Gregory House knew when he got up that morning that it was going to be a bad day. He wasn't in any way precognitive; it was just that he pretty much always knew when he got up that it was going to be a bad day. And it usually was, so the law of averages was on his side.
For about half of the day, though, it seemed he might be wrong. In fact, it started out as a nearly perfect day by House's standards. Nobody was bugging him to do anything irritating, like practice medicine. He had the morning to just sit around his office playing video games. In an hour or so, he figured he'd limp down to the cafeteria and steal the better-looking parts of Wilson's lunch. After that, perhaps he'd he'd track Foreman down and abuse him just on general principles. Wouldn't do to let the bastard get complacent just because he was the only fellow in the department who hadn't taken it on the lam.
House's office door opened without his consent, something that always annoyed him. He looked up to see Eric Foreman entering with another man on his heels. House didn't recognize the other guy specifically, but if he didn't know who he was, it was hard to mistake what he was. The black uniform and gold Greek-letter badge made that part pretty well unmistakable.
"Dammit, Foreman, how many times do I have to tell you?" House grumbled, putting down his GameZark Portable. "Don't bring patients to my office." With an expression of exaggerated distaste, he added, "They might have germs. And why is he wearing that ridiculous getup?"
The Psi Cop gave House a frosty look. "I see your reputation as an alleged wit is not entirely unearned, Dr. House," he said.
House raised his eyebrows. "Ooh," he said.
"This is Officer Baransky," Foreman said. "He's with the Psi Corps."
"Well, I'm glad we got that cleared up. I was starting to wonder if I'd missed the memo about Let's Play Dress-Up Day." House looked glum. "On the other hand, that probably means Cuddy isn't wearing the Hello Nurse outfit."
"Dr. House," Baransky cut imperturbably in. "I'm here to talk to you about the present whereabouts of your colleagues, Doctors Cameron and Chase."
House regarded the Psi Cop thoughtfully for a moment, then sighed and gave his desktop a regretful slap. He fished a prescription bottle out of his pocket, popped a couple of pills, and then said, "Okay, well, there's no point in lying to a Psi Cop, is there? I might as well level with you."
Baransky smiled thinly. "That would simplify matters."
House nodded, then said in the tone of a man admitting a shameful truth, "... I sent Cameron to Kooken's Pleasure Pit for remedial love slave training. Part of the department's continuing education requirement," he added helpfully. Then he hesitated and went on in an even more reluctant tone than before, "And I sold Chase to the Sisterhood of Ishtar."
Baransky's smile switched off like a light. "Doctor," he said testily.
"What? I needed cash and Venus needs men!" said House defensively. "They wouldn't take Foreman, though," he added, fixing the younger doctor with a venomous glare. "Seems they have a strict 'no Nightwatch moles' policy."
Foreman returned the glare with interest, but said nothing.
"You know," House went on thoughtfully, "I liked it better when you people could only harass other telepaths. This 'let's just let the Psi Corps investigate all security matters' thing is a huge pain in the ass."
"Dr. House, I'm trying to be patient with you owing to your reputation and your condition," Baransky said. "I have to say, though, that you are trying that patience gravely. If you persist in your flippancy, I will have no choice but to resort to more... invasive measures in order to ascertain what you know."
House half-smiled, his eyes twinkling with malicious glee. "To be honest," he said, "I doubt your head could hold what I know." Then, leaning back casually in his desk chair, he went on, "But in this case it wouldn't matter. I have no idea where the hell they are. They just up and didn't come into work one day. Ungrateful children. After all I've done for them." He gave the Psi Cop a look of utter sadness. "You work your fingers to the bone to provide for them and this is the thanks you get."
Baransky seemed undaunted. "The two of them worked for you for several years. No one would put up with you for that long without holding you in some kind of perverse esteem."
House agreed readily. "Well, sure. (In Chase's case, very perverse,)" he added confidentially. "Except for Foreman, of course. He had to stay because those were his orders. Poor bastard."
"As such," Baransky plowed on, "they would be quite unlikely to depart without leaving you some way of keeping in contact."
"If a Psi Cop barks up the wrong tree and no one's there to hear it, does it make a sound?" House asked philosophically. "I told you, I don't have a clue where they went or how to get in touch with them. All they left me was two months' worth of unfiled case notes. Young doctors today are such sloppy documentarians," he added self-righteously. "You want to find them, try wherever the hell Chase is from. Concord Dawn or New Brisbane or one of those other colonies where they don't talk right. They're probably kicking back on a beach and putting spork chops on the barbie or whatever it is they do in those places."
Baransky regarded House coldly for a few moments, then gave his thin smile again. "Well. I can see I'm not going to get anywhere with you, Doctor."
"Better late than never," House said. "Don't leave the door open when you leave. It causes a draft."
"If I can't impress on you the seriousness of this situation, perhaps someone else can," Baransky went on. House gave him a curious look, but the Psi Cop remained impassive until, a few moments later, another man entered the office, looking a trifle harried.
"Did you page me?" James Wilson asked House. Then he noticed the Psi Cop and did a double-take before turning back to House and asking, "What's he doing here?"
"Dr. Wilson," said Baransky calmly. "Please explain to your colleague here the true way of the world."
Wilson gave the Psi Cop a baffled look. "Huh?"
Baransky's air of imperturbability slipped a little. "I said," he repeated, "please explain to Dr. House the true way of the world."
Wilson looked utterly confused. "... I don't follow you," he said.
House laughed, causing all three of the other men in his office to turn identical incredulous looks his way.
"Trying to activate Wilson's sleeper personality? Don't bother," House said. "I destroyed it."
"You what?!" Wilson blurted, and then, "My what?!"
"That symposium you went to six months ago," said House conversationally as he got to his feet, picked up his cane, and limped around his desk. "You thought you got some bad shellfish at the opening dinner? What you got was an overnight stay in a Psi Corps processing center, some memory editing, and an implanted shell personality. They figured they'd need someone on this place's board eventually, when the time came to start forcing members of the staff to take part in their weird science."
"A shell personality?" said Wilson, horrified.
"Yep! A replacement Wilson. Same qualifications, more... malleable ethics. And totally loyal to the Cause, of course. I noticed when you got back that you spent a week or so yawning a lot, but the real clincher was the touch of temporary proxyglossolalia you had. It's a trademark symptom of neural overlay programming." House turned a sympathetic look to Baransky. "Sorry. I told Bill the orbital mind control lasers were the better way to go."
"But... why would they do that?" Wilson asked.
"Same reason Cameron and Chase took off," House answered, shrugging. "The Dome is getting into some strange areas, medically speaking, and there aren't enough qualified people willingly signing up to be their Mengeles. Won't be long before they have to start drafting. Isn't that right, Officer Baransky?"
Baransky tried on his thin, cold smile again, though it rather lacked conviction. "You'll never prove any of that," he said. "In fact, when I'm through with you, you won't even remember it."
"Ah, I wouldn't," said House. "Those pills I took a few minutes ago? One thousand milligrams of chlorozaphrexadine sulfate hydrochloride. I'm tripping my ass off. Come into my head now and you'll probably never find your way out again." At the Psi Cop's incredulous stare, he added with a regretful shake of his head, "It's a sad little trick of evolution, really. All that power wasted on such a tiny intellect."
"You planned this all out very well, Doctor," said Baransky grudgingly.
"I've had a lot of time to think about it," House replied. "I've known this was coming since the Ministry of Peace planted Foreman on me. It's the real reason why Cuddy's never been able to fire me. The Dome wanted to make sure it knew where to find me when the time came."
"You are clever, Dr. House," Baransky admitted. Then, his voice hardening, he produced a compact plasma pistol from inside his uniform tunic and added, "And you're under arrest."
House seemed unimpressed by the weapon. "No," he said, "I don't think so."
"And why not?" Baransky inquired.
"Because," House replied mildly. "You made one of the elementary mistakes." He smiled darkly. "You turned your back on Foreman."
"What are you - ... oh," said Baransky, and then he keeled over and sprawled face-down on the floor.
Wilson blinked at the scene, looking from House to Foreman as the former picked up Baransky's PPG and the latter pocketed a spray-hypo.
"... I thought House just said you were a Nightwatch mole," Wilson said to Foreman.
"I am," Foreman replied. "Among other things. You two had better get out of here. Baransky probably paged for backup. They'll hit this place with everything they've got trying to keep you from escaping."
"I'm very confused," said Wilson.
House picked up a duffel bag from the floor next to his desk, chucked a few things into it from his desktop and bookshelves, and tossed it to Wilson. "Come on," he said. "We've got to get to the roof, and you know how much I love stairs." He started to lead the way out of the office, then paused and turned back.
"You didn't do this out of any love of justice, and you certainly didn't do it for love of me," he said to Foreman.
"You're right. I didn't," Foreman replied. Then he added with a smug grin, "And now there's at least one thing I know you don't know."
House regarded him expressionlessly for a moment, then smirked slightly.
"Except you just gave it away," he said before pivoting on his good leg and hobbling off down the hall.
"What the hell just happened?" Wilson demanded.
"Not now," House replied.
"I had a sleeper personality?!"
"Are you still hung up on that?" House grumbled as he struggled up the fire stairs. "Yes. You did. It's gone now. Don't be such a baby."
"Gone, gone how? I've read about those things. They don't just go away."
"Remember last month when I whacked you up on L-dopa and Cortex Bomb?"
"Let me see, do I remember that - oh, yes, I do remember suffering an induced serotonin storm, now that you mention it," Wilson blustered.
"You're welcome," said House as he flung the roof access door open. "I didn't do that just because your reactions were entertaining." He paused. "Although they were."
"I - you - they were - ... fine. What are we doing on the roof?"
"My calculations indicated that it would be difficult to launch an escape shuttle from the basement," House replied sarcastically.
Wilson stopped in his tracks, staring in amazement at the small, blocky vehicle parked near the air conditioning stacks. His mouth worked ineffectively for a moment before he finally found the voice to ask,
"Where are we going?"
House punched an access code into the keypad next to the shuttle door before replying:
"Anywhere but here."
"Anywhere But Here" - A Future Imperfect Mini-Story by Benjamin D. Hutchins
Based on characters from House, MD created by David Shore
Special to the Eyrie Productions, Unlimited Discussion Forum
© 2007 Eyrie Productions, Unlimited