Angie Deakins looked up as the door slid open and Alex walked in, pale-faced and red-eyed.


Alex came to a halt at the end of the bed, staring down at her partner's pallid features.

“He's going to die,” she whispered in distress. “Bobby's dying, and they can't stop it from happening.”

A moment later, tears spilled down her cheeks, and she broke down in heavy sobs.

“Oh, honey,” Angie murmured, and hurried around to wrap her arms around Alex in a supportive hug. “Don't give up yet. Bobby's strong, he's a fighter. He won't give up, and you can't either. Do you hear me?”

“They don't know what's wrong with him, though!” Alex choked out. “How can they help him when they don't even know what's wrong?”

“I don't know,” Angie murmured. “I wish I did, but I don't.”

The door slid open again, and Angie looked up as her husband walked back in, followed closely by Mike and Carolyn.

“Jimmy?” Angie asked softly.

“They don't know,” Deakins said in a strained voice. “They have no idea what's wrong with him. They don't even know where to start.”

“Maybe it's time we did a little detective work of our own,” Mike said, drawing the others' attention.

“What are you talking about, Mike?” Carolyn asked. “We're not doctors.”

“I know that, but let's look at what we know. Carolyn? You were with him when he first started getting sick. Bobby's symptoms... What were they? ”

“Uh... Well, he had this horrible cough, and a bad fever... He was coughing up blood... and he had pretty bad vertigo.”

“And after he collapsed, what symptoms did he display?” Mike pressed.

“The fever started coming and going... And he had fits of delirium.”

Alex's head came up slowly.

“Delirium? Bobby was delirius?”

“Apparently he started hallucinating in the ambulance on the way here, after he collapsed,” Carolyn explained.

“What are you thinking of, Alex?” Deakins asked, but she shook her head.

“Something... Something that happened on that mountain, but I can't quite remember. Damn it, why can't I remember?”

“Because you've spent the last two years doing your best to forget,” Deakins told her gently. “And I can understand why you want to forget, but now it seems that you have to start remembering.”

Mike walked around and took Alex by the shoulders, guiding her over to the window and sitting her down.

“You need to think this through carefully, Alex. Bobby told Carolyn that he remembered feeling like this once before, but he couldn't remember when. Is it possible that he was sick like this while you two were on Gore Mountain together?”

“He wasn't sick like this,” Alex said hoarsely. “I'd remember that.”

“Then maybe it was on a lesser scale,” Deakins suggested. “Maybe he was displaying some of the symptoms that he has now? The delirium seemed to ring a bell with you.”

Alex drew in a long, steadying breath as she reluctantly allowed her mind to wander back to those terrifying two days that she and Bobby had been on the run from Mathers. Yes, the delirium did ring a chord with her, but much from those two days was now just a blur, remembered clearly only in her nightmares, and she was not eager to recall any of it.

She glanced around, and her gaze went once more to her partner. Her eyes swept over him, taking in his too-pale features, and his too-still body. It was unnatural for Bobby to be so still, unnatural and frightening, and she knew that unless a solution was found soon, it was entirely possible that he would not wake up again.

They'd revived him once. She knew in her heart that if he went into cardiac arrest again, then there would be no reviving him a second time.

A sharp hiss of breath drew her attention away from her partner, back to her captain, and she looked to see him sitting there with a shocked expression.

“Jimmy?” Angie asked softly. “What is it?”

He didn't answer her immediately, caught up in his own memories. Specifically, memories of an evening in a hotel room in a little place called Denton... Talking with a man called Frost, and telling him the grim story of Bobby and Alex's ordeal on Gore Mountain.

He remembered watching as Bobby unbuttoned his shirt and lowered the collar to reveal puncture scars on his right shoulder blade, scars that had been made by a cruel device...

“The spikes,” Deakins whispered, raising his eyes to meet Alex's. For a brief moment, she looked puzzled. Then, suddenly, her eyes widened with shocked realisation.

“Oh god... the spikes... The poison...”

“What spikes?” Mike asked, frowning. Alex spoke quickly and urgently as the memories flooded back.

“When Mathers first caught up to us, he fired a home-made weapon at us. It was a little metal ball covered in spikes. Bobby put himself between it and me, and it hit him in the shoulder. I pulled it out, but two of the spikes broke off, and stayed inside his body. At first it didn't seem to affect him, and it wasn't long before we had a lot worse injuries to worry about. But the next day, we were sitting by a stream, trying to get some of our energy back so we could climb up that hill, and Bobby started hallucinating. He managed to fight it off, but we knew there had to be something in those spikes that was making him sick. The delirium wore off, but his temperature shot up… and he started getting dizzy, and nauseous…”

“That's it,” Mike said tensely. “That has to be it. It matches the symptoms he has now...”

“But wouldn't those spikes have been removed?” Carolyn wondered, baffled. “And wouldn't his body have been flushed out properly of the poison?”

“We thought it was,” Deakins said as he recalled what Bobby’s doctor had told him about the poison found in Bobby’s bloodstream. “There can only be one explanation for why it’s affecting him now.”

“There’s still a piece of one of the spikes in his body,” Alex guessed, and Deakins nodded.

“Right, and it’s still tipped with enough of Mathers’ poison to be making Bobby sick.”

“But that’s crazy!” Carolyn protested. “If that’s what it is, it would have made him sick long before now!”

“It’s the only explanation,” Deakins growled, suddenly on fire with fresh determination. “We have to tell those doctors. Mike, get on the phone and call St Clare’s Hospital, in Manhattan. Ask to speak to Dr Jack Evans. Tell him what the situation is, and that we need him to send a record of Bobby’s blood work from two years ago, after the Erik Mathers incident, to Dr House here at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Hurry, go!”

Mike fled the room to do as Deakins had told him. Deakins looked back at Alex, and inclined his head towards the door.

“Alex, I need you to come with me. You have to tell them about this. It can’t just come from me.”

Alex looked back at Bobby, torn, and Angie hugged her again reassuringly.

“Carolyn and I will stay right here. We won’t leave him alone, I promise.”

Carolyn nodded in agreement.

“Go ahead, Alex. We’ll look after him.”

Still reluctant, but knowing they were right, Alex hurried out of the room, after her captain.

“What now?” House snapped when Deakins strode into his office, with Alex in tow. Deakins frowned, but didn't waste his breath fighting over the doctor's attitude.

“We think we know what's wrong with Bobby.”

House snorted derisively.

Everybody's a doctor.”

“He was poisoned,” Alex burst out, and House raised an eyebrow at her.

“Confessing, Detective?”

“I didn't poison him, you asshole,” Alex snarled. “When we were on that mountain, two years ago, Bobby was hit in the shoulder by a metal spiked ball. Two of the spikes broke off when I pulled it out of his shoulder. They were tipped with a poison that was mixed by the man who took us. It made him feverish, dizzy, and caused him to start hallucinating...”

House was on his feet almost before Alex had finished speaking, barking an order at Cameron.

“Contact the hospital in New York where Bobby was treated. I want full details of all his bloodwork...”

“Don't bother,” Deakins cut him off. “I've already had Detective Logan make the call.”

House froze, then threw an irritated look at the captain.

“Captain Deakins, I appreciate that you're worried about your detective. I really do. But would you please leave the doctoring to us doctors? And I promise that the next time I'm in New York, I won't come and interfere with your job.”

Deakins couldn't suppress the wry smile that fought its way onto his lips.

“Point taken, Dr House. My apologies.”

House nodded, satisfied that his point had finally been made.

“Thankyou. Now, I suggest you go back and sit with Bobby, and let us do our job.”

Conceding, Deakins took Alex gently by the shoulders and guided her out of the office. Once they were gone, House turned back to Cameron.

“Get on the phone. Contact the hospital... St Clare's, I think it was. Order the records of bloodwork.”

Cameron regarded him bemusedly.

“But you heard him. That Detective Logan already...”

“He's a cop, not a doctor,” House snapped. “And we don't have the time to wait for a subpeona. Make the call, Cameron. Where are Chase and Foreman?”

“Organising to have new scans done, like you told them,” Cameron replied even as she turned away and picked up the phone. Making a snap decision, House snatched up his cane and walked out of the office as fast as his crippled leg would allow him to.

“Definitely the blonde,” Foreman said with a snort of laughter. “There's one lady I do not want to meet in a dark alley.”

Chase smirked.

“I think it'd be eye-opening to see the two of them in action. They'd be pretty intimidating in an interrogation room.”

“Well, she scares me,” Foreman retorted.

“She scares House,” Chase pointed out. “She's the first person I've ever seen him retreat from.”

“Well, she did threaten to shoot him,” Foreman mused.

“Not the first time that's happened,” Chase said, and Foreman had to concede.

“Right, the mafia... But even they didn't scare House like this woman does. Did you see him talking to her after we put Bobby in the ice bath?”

“Cameron told me about it,” Chase said. “She said he actually apologised to her! Can you believe that? The great, omnipotent House, actually apologising to someone? And meaning it!”

The two of them laughed, blissfully unaware that the object of their mirth had materialised right behind them.

“If you two are done,” he snapped, and both men froze at the sound of his voice. “We have a possible lead. The blonde has finally remembered something useful.”

“So, no scans?” Foreman queried.

“Au contraire, Dr Foreman. Run the scans, and take x-rays.”

“Of his chest...?” Chase wondered.

“Of his entire body,” House ordered them. “We're looking for foreign bodies. But I still want to check for pneumonia, as well.”

“But if there's another explanation...” Chase argued. House glared at him even as he began to turn to leave.

“I told you, I don't like to be wrong.”

“He still thinks Bobby has pneumonia?” Mike asked incredulously half an hour later, when Bobby had been taken for the scans and x-rays. Deakins nodded.


“But we figured it out,” Carolyn said. “At least, we hope we did.”

“You know,” Angie pointed out, “it's enirely possible that he does have pneumonia. If there is part of one of those awful spikes still in his body, and it's been slowly leaking that poison into his body all this time, then it would have had to have taken something serious to trigger these sorts of effects.”

Deakins grinned at his wife.

“You've been reading Rebekah's medical books.”

She smiled unapologetically.

“It never hurts to be informed.”

“So, it's possible that this poison has been present in his body all along,” Mike said, “but it wasn't until he got sick with something else that it really started to do serious damage?”

“It makes sense,” Alex said from where she sat by the window. “Mathers' poison was never intended for killing. It was just meant to slow his victims down... disorient them, so he could catch them. It was his safeguard in case he took someone who actually might have escaped.”

“He started using it with his New York victims,” Deakins confirmed. “The poison wasn't present in the blood of any of the Miami victims. He didn't start using it until after that man escaped him in Florida.”

“The only problem is,” Alex pointed out, “they never were able to identify the chemical makeup of the poison.”

“I don't know that much effort went into trying to find out,” Deakins mused. “Mathers was dead... Bobby was recovering... It didn't seem to have a prolonged effect on him. I think that in the end, it just got put on ice.”

Alex looked away, back out the window.

“Let's hope that Dr House is as smart as he claims to be, and that he can figure out what it is, before it's 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!