looking at the wall of drawers in the morgue. They were old;
stainless steel, with black handles and a little clip to hold the
the deceased within. The morgue at Princeton-Plainsboro
storage for over forty bodies at any given time; clearly the
have as much faith in medicine nearly a hundred years ago.
The brick floor had
long ago been replaced with tile and the overhead lamps
with fluorescent lights;
the drawers were refrigerated now, but their number
was still the same: four
tall, ten across of storage for the dead.
was nearly silent and in semi-darkness, with the only light
the door leading out hallway. House checked his watch,
longer it would take. Arliss, the M. E. wouldn’t be down
there was a
death tonight, which was unlikely. House settled his shoulders
back against the
cold tile wall and kept his gaze along the gleaming doors. It
was nearly two
twenty seven in the morning, and his leg was seriously
complaining about the
extra standing time, but House had already downed
another little helper that
would kick in soon.
the silver-headed cane loosely.
another ten minutes, he looked up, alerted out of his musings
Cuddy was a C 36 or 38. The creak was soft, but definite, and
gaze move along the wall of drawers in a quick, sharp scan.
the third row, three from the end, a morgue drawer door slowly
the hair on the back of his neck rise; felt his balls tighten. He
himself to stay perfectly still and overcome the primitive responses.
long moment, nothing happened. The door stayed open, revealing the
it had been covering, and House had to squint to see it properly. He
his hand into his pocket.
beats went by, and House smelt the traces of formaldehyde,
chlorine now tainted
with a hint of dead roses. He watched as quietly, the tray
rolled out of the
drawer in a slow glide of oiled metal. It clacked when it
reached the end of
its extension, and the body lying on it didn’t move.
didn’t move either, feeling his arms suddenly chill with
tighten in a reaction he couldn’t control. Shadows loomed
Finally, the feet flexed. The toe tag rattled softly; with a
body sat up. House pressed back against the wall, biting his lower
enough to taste a hint of blood.
turned her head stiffly, looking around the morgue. Her glance
passed over the
room for a moment, then she snapped her gaze to the right
so quickly that her
hair swung loosely.
his gaze on her paper gowned chest; he knew better than to
into her lurid
red stare, so like the banked glow of a pyre. He cocked his
forcing his shoulders to relax; his damp palm gripped the cane
more tightly and
the other hand flexed in his pocket.
slow sinuous movements of a pale viper, the body slipped
and got to her
bare feet; House noticed the pink polish on her toenails as
glided over to
him. All his nerves were on high alert, and the smell of dead
with the sharp stench of fruit long rotted and gray with mold.
himself to look at her chin, her neck of marble white. The urge to
raise his gaze
higher grew stronger with every step closer she came.
closed his eyes. He pulled his hand out of his pocket, and the soft
falling rice echoed off the tile walls of the morgue, the grains
everywhere in a cascade.
froze, her attention shifting instantly to the spilled mess. Rice
small polished bits rolling out of the darkness into the light coming
the hallway beyond the morgue. House held his breath, and for eternity
room stood in stillness.
to breathe. He wanted to look more closely at her and knew if
gaze he’d be lost in those gutted flames of her eyes.
moved, bending down to the rice. There was no sigh since there
but the slump of her shoulders in the paper gown made it clear
folklore was right. House waited until she turned a pale palm up
drop grains into it one by one before he shifted his weight
brushed by her.
carefully, not wanting to slip on the mess that was saving his life.
door he stepped through and looked down the hallway. Chances
ninety percent that she already had Arliss under her influence,
either see nothing when he came back to the morgue, or that
sustenance for the night if House couldn’t keep him out.
come to a decision. He had a room full of brains; good ones,
not likely to
dismiss his whim if he bullied them. Carefully he leaned on the
wrote a list of symptoms down, his letters thick and strong on
sensitivity to sunlight
Altered nutritional needs
Possible dental anomalies
House demanded with a smirk he didn’t feel. Cameron
taking the list
seriously; Foreman was leaning back, rolling his eyes and
Chase was trying not
House—watch too many Hammer horror films over the
Cameron looked slightly confused.
pulling our leg. Look at the symptoms—“ Chase
other two to add to that list would be negative respiration and
it, and shot House an incredulous look that he ignored as he
sipped his coffee.
Foreman finally gave a noisy sigh. “You really expect us
do a differential
diagnosis on vampirism?”
Got bigger plans today?” House shot back. “Call it
hypothetical thinking, an extended look at a malady with a
into account that it’s completely
arms. Chase cocked his head thoughtfully.
dunno--there had to be a basis for it somewhere though—too
many countries; too many similarities for sheer coincidence.”
consensus that most cases were probably attributable to
murmured, chin in hand, “erythropoietic porphyria more
House murmured, looking back at the whiteboard. “And that
long as the
patient is alive. It’s when the symptoms continue after
bothers me. Pumping a patient full of Hematin and haem
stopped breathing seems like such a waste of perfectly good
they’ve stopped breathing, they stop being our
become our pain in the necks—“ Chase punned,
himself a muffled giggle
from Cameron and a roll of the eyes from House.
Chase, Chase—something tells me you’re not taking
willing to speak up, why don’t you share with all of us what
treatment would be for our post-terminal patient.”
meter stake, preferably seasoned ash or rosewood, hammered
cavity with enough force to penetrate the four chambers of the
heart. If the
patient doesn’t spontaneously turn to dust, then filling the
is reccommended.” At the incredulous looks from Cameron
shrugged a little. “What can I say? My mother was a
Christopher Lee fan.”
“Let’s hope she never went from stalker to
House looked around at the other two. Foreman managed a cynical smile.
you were supposed to cut their heads off. Vampire or not, that would
inhibit any ambulation from that point on,” he drawled.
you’d just get the patient to lie down on the exam table,
out a Bahco
number eight and just start sawing away,” Cameron smirked.
the consent form signed for a procedure like that.”
kin,” Chase pointed out knowingly. Or permission from the
party. Even a
verbal permission qualifies.”
wronged party . . . “ House mused. “So the standard
effective treatments.” Inwardly he was amused to see all
of them taking
the hypothetical situation with more interest.
prettily. “And sunlight. I suppose if you can’t get
to step out
into daylight you could always turn one of those Maglites on
it had to be natural sunlight—“ Chase objected.
could just flood
a cemetery with Klieg lights and be done with it, right?”
like we can put it to the test,” Foreman interrupted with
annoyance. “Since nobody’s been diagnosed with
officially. But consider: the disease basically transforms the patient
parasite, the search for a host or food source would become primary,
organisms adapt and strive to live—in this case the infection
acts as a
parasite within the host—our patient—who then
capacity to reproduce and pass on the original infectious
the ‘not officially’ part,” Foreman
impressed with the explanation,
but still not willing to give in completely. “Has a patient
all of these symptoms you’ve listed?”
the pause for a moment, not meeting anyone’s eyes. He set
marker down on
the tray and reluctantly sighed. “No. No patient has
here at the hospital.”
conversation with Wilson
hadn’t gone well.
stay up all night with me here at the hospital and hunt for
“Incredibly tempting as that is, I was planning
on going home and planting a
stake somewhere else tonight.”
you and Julie were on the outs.” House accused, studying the
other man’s face.
. . .
still have good sex,” Wilson
admitted with wry amusement. “Oddly,
the knowledge that we’re separating tends
to make things more interesting.”
rehearsing infidelity and getting off on the guilty pleasure.
House trailed off, making a moue.
For you, anyway. Fine. If you can’t make it, maybe I can
Cuddy to be my
girly sidekick. She doesn’t scream as well as you do, but
like her necklines
it a point to sob myself to sleep tonight. I hope you’re not
hauling around any stakes—Security will take them away from
as he picked up a chart from the desk and
stepped into exam room three in the
his back a withering look, and lumbered his way out again. He
hadn’t expected Wilson
to take him
seriously, but the company would have
moment he debated NOT going to Cuddy; despite his suspicions,
lack of hard
evidence bothered him. As a doctor and a scientist, it annoyed
him to harbor a
hypothesis with no factual data beyond sick leave and lost
supply records. A
pattern hinted at but not solid. The only bright spot was that
there was enough
of one there to intrigue the Dean of Medicine if he laid it
right. And if
all else failed he could argue with her until midnight and
his way to Cuddy’s office and quietly opened the door,
a smirk crossed his face.
to be pectoral implants . . . “ She muttered, flipping to the
page of the
beefcake calendar, oblivious to House slipping inside the
“ . . .
Cuddy, I’m SHOCKED!” House shot out, delighted to
brick red and
fumble with the calendar in her hands. She looked up at him and
dropping the glossy set of pages on her desk, but House loomed
over it and
sneered. “You sick little monkey.”
a break,” Cuddy muttered weakly. “My last clinic
to me as a
thank-you for clearing up his sinuses.”
story—so who was he? Mr. July?”
actually—“ Cuddy shot back, toying with her pearls,
be featured in
the month with the most hay fever cases. So, any reason for
you wipe the drool off your chin I need you to issue me a UP
evening,” House replied, still sneering at the calendar. He
over and began flipping through the months, his expression
him a withering stare.
universal pass key. And just why, pray tell, would I even CONSIDER
access through every door in this hospital, House?”
have a dangerous parasite located somewhere in this
replied, looking up at her so sharply she hesitated. When he
met him stare for stare.
what you’re talking about,” came her quiet order.
around her desk, unceremoniously pulling her keyboard towards
typing quickly. Slightly affronted, Cuddy watched him pull up a few
screens. When House glanced at her, she rolled her eyes and
up her seat
for him; he dropped himself into and finally did smirk.
“Get on with it,” Cuddy snapped, leaning on the
did. Moving one
long hand along the screen, he spoke in a low tone.
going back about a month, maybe five weeks—the ER has a
run on the blood
supply, but in the course of that, three units of O positive go
head nurse down there is good enough about keeping records
to note it, but
can’t account for where they’ve gone.”
Cuddy asked. House nodded, his attention on the screen.
later, it happens again. Three units missing from the
the ambulance restocking room, no accountability for
reports, no tainted disposal reports, no doctor authorization for
It’s pretty nice that almost all the records for the hospital
because it makes cross-referencing a lot easier.”
a little headshake of disbelief. “So we’ve got
stealing it and selling it. We’ve had problems with
but unlikely—the blood banks around here know our juice. I
checked—nobody’s been offering up any PPTH labeled
but there is
in the janitor’s log for a few days later that an empty
women’s bathroom down in Radiology.”
came her question as she stared intently at the screen. House
turned his head
and looked at her, his eyes narrowing. For a long silent
moment he glared hard;
slowly his expression shifted from professional
concern to controlled anger.
Cuddy closed her eyes a moment, then turned to
face him, meeting his flinty
gaze head on.
something,” he accused in a low compelling tone.
swallowed, not saying
anything for a moment. Then she dropped her gaze and
gave the tiniest of nods.