At some point between the ICU and the room where orderlies were currently filling a bathtub with cold water and ice, Bobby lost consciousness. House, who had been limping alongside of the gurney, spotted it first, and bellowed an order to the orderlies guiding the gurney.

“What are you waiting for? Move it! He needs to be in that tub yesterday!”

The orderlies broke into a fast jog, pushing the gurney along as fast as they dared. They wheeled it into the room, and immediately began stripping Bobby down to his shorts.

“Get him in there!” House snapped. “Now!”

Between Chase, Foreman and the two orderlies, they lifted Bobby off the gurney, sheet and all, and lowered him into the tub.

The reaction was immediate. The sudden change from burning to freezing threw Bobby almost violently back into awareness, and a strangled scream tore from his lips as the frigid cold of the ice took effect against his overheated flesh. He tried to lift himself out of the tub, but there were several pairs of hands there ready to hold him down and, in his weakened state, he couldn’t hope to fight them.

“Careful of that leg of his,” House warned. “When he starts thrashing, he could do himself damage.”

True to House’s prediction, Bobby went into a near flurry of involuntary convulsions, and all the while anguished screams split the air. It took Chase, Foreman, the orderlies and the nurses to hold Bobby down and keep him submerged up to his neck in the ice and water, and to keep him from hurting himself by thrashing around.

“Maybe we should bring his partner in,” Cameron suggested when Bobby showed no sign of calming down. House shot her a look that was nearly as frigid as the ice that Bobby had been immersed in.

“Don’t be an idiot. What good could she possibly do? We don’t need some hysterical female in here. One is more than enough.”

“I was just thinking that maybe…”

“No, you aren’t thinking. This is not the place for non-medical staff. Go out there and talk to them if you really want to, but do not let them in here.”

Alex, Mike and Carolyn had followed as far as they could, and now waited outside the room, listening in stricken silence to the anguished screams of their friend and colleague. Mike had an arm around each of the women as they cried, and all the while struggling not to give in and cry himself. Having to listen to Bobby’s tortured screams was just about more than any of them could cope with.

The door opened, and Dr Cameron slipped out, quickly closing it behind her before they could get a glimpse of what was going on inside. She favoured them with as reassuring a look as she could manage.

“It’s working,” she told them. “His temperature is going down. He’ll be okay.”

“For now, you mean,” Mike said hoarsely. “Did… Did this really have to happen? Like this, I mean… Wasn’t there another way to help him?”

“We had to act fast,” Cameron explained. “His temperature was dangerously high, and we had to reverse that. I know how awful it sounds, but it is helping him.”

Mike shook his head and was about to speak again when, with equally terrifying abruptness, the screams suddenly stopped. Alex looked up slowly, almost as disturbed by the sudden silence as she had been by her partner’s tormented cries.

“What… just happened?”

Cameron tried to smile reassuringly, but couldn’t quite pull it off. The truth was, she wasn’t entirely sure herself.

“I’m going in there,” Alex said abruptly, and started towards the door. Cameron almost tripped in her effort to stop her.

“No, I’m sorry, but you really do need to stay out here. Please, for your sake and for Bobby’s…”

“One minute he was screaming the place down,” Mike said in a dangerously quiet voice, “and now… nothing. What the hell is going on?”

Cameron shook her head.

“Please…you need to be patient…”

“Patient my ass!” Mike exploded. “Let us in there, now!”

He tried to step around her, but Cameron planted herself squarely in front of him, as though daring him to go through her. In her haste to stop Mike, though, she forgot about Alex and, in a move that was well-rehearsed on her part, Alex slipped around the doctor and into the room.

The sight that met Alex’s eyes as she walked into the room was, perhaps, one of the most frightening that she’d ever been confronted with in her life. The sight of her partner, almost completely immersed in ice and water and rigid from the shock, was just about enough to give her a heart attack. She started towards him, her heart pounding painfully, only to be stopped in her tracks by a pair of hands alighting firmly on her shoulders. She looked up in a daze to find herself held in place by Dr House.

“Get your hands off me,” she said hoarsely.

“No,” House answered, his voice taking on a tone of authority that surpassed her own. “You need to leave, now.”

“He needs me,” Alex whispered, tears flooding her eyes. “You don’t understand. He needs me…”

“Look at me,” House ordered her and she looked up, reluctantly tearing her gaze from Bobby. “He is going to be okay. His temperature is going down. If you really want to help, you’ll walk out that door and leave us to do our job.”

“C’mon, Detective,” Foreman murmured as he walked over and gently took her arm to guide her out. “Come and wait outside. You can be with him again as soon as we’re done. It won’t be long.”

Shaken, Alex allowed herself to be guided out of the room, the image of her stricken partner burned into her mind.

She came back out to find Mike on his cell phone, speaking in a low, though audibly distressed voice.

“Who…?” Alex asked of Carolyn.

“Captain Deakins,” Carolyn answered softly. Alex nodded miserably as she sank into the seat next to her friend, and buried her face in her hands.

Jimmy Deakins had just sat down to dinner with his wife and two daughters when his cell phone rang. Immediately, Angie shot him a glaring look, while the girls tried not to laugh. Normally they were the ones in trouble for having the cell phones at the dinner table, and not their father.

“Jimmy,” Angie growled as he pulled it out of his pocket, “you know my policy about cell phones at the table. Whoever it is, they can wait.”

Jimmy glanced at the caller ID, and felt his stomach roll. It was Logan.

“I’m sorry, Angie,” he apologised quietly. “I have to take this.”

Angie glowered angrily, but didn’t protest further as he answered the call.

“Mike? What’s happening?”

Mike’s voice came through clearly, clearly enough for Angie and the girls to hear what was being said.

I’m sorry to call you now, Captain, but you wanted to know if anything happened. Something has. Bobby just took a turn for the worst. His temperature sky-rocketed…”

“What do you mean, sky-rocketed?”

I mean, it went from a hundred and two to a hundred and six within twenty minutes. Captain They had to put him in an ice bath to stop his brain from cooking.”

“An ice bath?” Deakins echoed in shock, mentally cringing at the pain he knew it had to have caused Bobby. “They still do that?”

Yeah, they still do that, and let me tell you, it must’ve hurt like hell. He just about screamed the roof down.

Deakins felt his stomach roll unpleasantly. All of a sudden, he had no appetite.

“Is he all right?”

For the moment, yeah. I think so, anyway. They still have him in there. They won’t let us in. Alex tried, and just got booted out again. It really isn’t good, Captain. Alex is just about on the verge of a breakdown It just isn’t good.

Deakins shut his eyes. That settled it. He couldn’t just sit back and stay a distant observer. Regardless of what the brass might say, he had to be there, in New Jersey.

“Mike, I’m coming out there. I’ll be on the first flight to New Jersey that I can get.”

He ended the call before Mike had a chance to argue, and finally looked up to find his wife and daughters staring at him in confused horror.

“Jimmy, what on earth is going on?” Angie asked, all anger gone from her voice.

“Bobby Goren is sick,” Deakins explained. “I mean, really sick. He collapsed this morning in the middle of giving a lecture at Princeton in New Jersey, and was admitted to the teaching hospital there. I sent Mike Logan and Alex Eames, and they got there late this afternoon… apparently just in time to witness Bobby going into cardiac arrest. Now, apparently, Bobby’s temperature shot up so much that he had to be put into an ice bath.”

“Oh, god,” nineteen year old Chloe Deakins whispered in horror. Twenty-six year old Rebekah stared at her father in dismay. As a resident at Mt Sinai, she comprehended the effects of such a treatment even more than her younger sister.

“But… his bad leg… It’d be agony for him!”

Deakins nodded in grim agreement. The same had occurred to him, as well.

“You’re really going to go to New Jersey?” Angie asked. Deakins looked over at her apologetically.

“Yes. I have to. I’m sorry, Angie, but you know I have power of attorney for Bobby, and I’m also his medical proxy. If it really is as bad as Logan said, then they’re going to need me there to make decisions for him. I don’t like it, but it’s the way it has to be.”

He strategically avoided mentioning that he’d already had Bobby sign medical proxy over to Mike. Angie rose up and walked around to him.

“It’s all right, Jimmy. I do understand. And… I suppose that this time, at least, I can be sure you won’t get shot at with bullets or arrows.”

Deakins went red at the subtle reminder. As understanding as Angie was with his protectiveness of his detectives – and of Bobby, in particular – the last time especially had proved a strain on their marriage. It had not been all that long since things had settled down between them once more. Slipping her arms around his shoulders, Angie went on quietly.

“Just tell me one thing, and be honest. How serious is it? Really…?”

Deakins tilted his head back to look his wife as directly in the eye as he was able.

“He could be dying, Angie. And according to Logan, they don’t even know what’s wrong with him yet.”

She leaned down to kiss him gently on the forehead.

“Then book the flight. But make it two seats, not one. I’m coming with you.”

Mike ended the call, and looked over at Alex and Carolyn who, in turn, were watching him with matching red-rimmed eyes.

“Captain’s coming on the first flight he can get,” Mike told them softly. “I think he nearly had a stroke when I told him they’d had to put Bobby in an ice bath.”

Alex gave a strangled sob.

“You know it’s bad when it gets Deakins out of New York.”

Mike was at a loss to respond to that. Before he had a chance to try, though, the door finally opened, and House emerged slowly.

“Well?” Carolyn asked hoarsely. House stood wordlessly for a long moment, looking at the three of them before answering grimly.

“The good news is that the ice bath brought his temperature down. The bad news is that it sent his body into shock.”

“Shock?” Mike echoed. “Well… what does that mean?”

“His organs started to shut down,” House answered. “Specifically, his lungs shut down. We had to intubate him and connect him to a ventilator while he was still in the bath, to get him breathing again.”

“Oh god,” Alex whispered, suddenly going weak at the knees. “This is too much…”

“He’s stable for the moment,” House told them. “But it’s more important now than ever that I hear the rest of your story, Detective Eames. I’m more positive now than ever that the cause of this lies with something that happened on that mountain. You need to tell me everything.”

“I tried,” Alex said tensely, still clinging to Mike to for support. “You just ridiculed me.”

House drew in a long, slow breath. If he was going to get the information he needed, it would mean swallowing his pride and, in all honesty, he just wasn’t sure if he could do that.

“I know I did,” he answered softly. If Foreman, Chase or Cameron were to walk out of the room at that point, he would probably kill them himself, just to save himself the humiliation. “I’m sorry. I promise you it won’t happen again.”

Alex stood stiffly, in two minds over whether to accept the apology, when another voice spoke, tinged heavily with amusement.

“I’d accept it, if I were you. I think that’s the first genuine apology he’s given in… Actually, I think that’s the first genuine apology he’s ever given, period.”

House felt his mood plummet even further. Cuddy…

“All right,” Alex conceded finally. “Accepted. You want to know everything? I’ll tell you everything.”

House nodded, trying to ignore his boss’s amused smirk.

“Good. I just hope it’s not too late.

Back                         Home                              Law and Order: Criminal Intent Main Page                              Next

Your Name or Alias:      Your E-mail (optional):

Please type your review below. Only positive reviews and constructive criticism will be posted!