TRIAL & ERROR -B

This is definitely NOT part of my Comfort Series!

I wrote this after having a particularly nasty experience with some recent medical procedures… Anyway…

House is kidnapped and subjected to a forced drug trial by some unscrupulous and rather brutal research doctors. House has to try and keep his cool and survive the torment they inflict, and find some way to escape…

Rated M/Adult for language and mature themes (like ALL my stuff!!!)

All the usual and applicable disclaimers and warnings apply, such as don't like - don't read; I don't own House or any other characters, or anything or anybody else, blah, blah, blah…

NITEJASMINE

TRIAL & ERROR

House MD fanfic by NiteJasmine

#####

House struggled awake, it felt like he was trying to swim through mud. With a concentrated effort, he managed to open his eyes, blinking several times from the glare of the bright lights in the room. Slowly, the features of the room began to come into focus. Everything was intensely white. Walls, ceiling, lights. And no windows. The smell of sterile antiseptic assaulted his nostrils. Then he heard the familiar beeping of monitors. A hospital room. He was in a hospital room. His brain was still trying to wrestle itself out of it's deep slumber. He tried to lift a hand up, but it barely moved. He tried the other hand, more forcefully, but with the same result. He looked down, his mind shifting gears, finally coming to the realization that he was laying in a hospital bed, wearing only a light green hospital gown, and in full restraints. The monitors he heard were all connected to his body, he had clumps of wires attached all over him. And there was an IV in his left arm, which had an additional restraint on it, securing his elbow firmly to the bedrail. His breathing picked up as he tried again to move his limbs, but both of his wrists and both of his ankles were fastened securely and lashed to the to the bed. He was unable to move at all. He felt a wave of panic surge through him. What the hell was going on? Where the hell was he?

"Number 6 is awake," he heard a stern, thickly accented female voice say, from somewhere off to his left. It startled him. The voice then materialized next to his bed. A lean but muscular looking woman was standing there, wearing a white lab coat and holding a chart. She regarded him with steely cool gray-blue eyes, stoically serious. Her short blond hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. No makeup, no jewelry. He heard other voices, but couldn't recognize the language, he just knew that it was not English. The woman began checking the various wires and tubes connected to him with detached efficiency, then pulled a stethoscope out of her pocket, slipped it under the collar of his loosely fitting gown, and pressed it to his chest.

"Where… am I?" he asked. His voice sounded halting and a little slurred.

"Quiet," the woman snapped back. "Breathe," she told him. He obeyed, using the time to keep trying to fully wake up. She listened to several places on his chest, then replaced her stethoscope back into her pocket. A deep male voice outside the room asked a question in that odd foreign tongue… German? Russian? He couldn't tell. Could be fucking Peruvian Mountain Goat for all he knew. The woman by his bed scribbled on his chart and answered the question in clear but thickly accented English.

"Yes. Number 6 is stable. All vitals within parameters. Baseline established." She reached out and put her fingers against the side of his throat, staring at the monitor over his head, confirming his heart rate numbers.

Number 6? What the hell did that mean? He wondered to himself, his mind still trying to claw it's way into lucidity. Whatever it was, he decided it probably wasn't good. He balled his hands into fists, and tried pulling against his restraints again, not sure why, but not having anything else to do. He tried moving his legs, which brought a sharp pang of pain from his right thigh, making him wince and clench his teeth.

"Stop that." The woman said sharply. Then she looked down at him, irritated. "You are restrained for your own protection. You will only hurt yourself by resisting." She looked back up at the monitor. "So relax. You are not going anywhere."

"And who the hell are you? Where the fuck am I? What the hell is going on?" he demanded. She did not answer him, she simply turned, hung his chart back at the foot of his bed, and walked briskly out of the room.

He laid there, working to stay calm. Think, think. What's the last thing you remember? His mind grasping through the swirling fog of his memory. Long holiday weekend coming… he remembered. Gonna have a full 4 days off... He remembered walking through the parking garage, heading towards his bike, looking forward to being alone with his scotch and his piano… Then… nothing. He tried to refocus his thoughts, there had to be more. What happened? But the memories would not come. It was like an old movie film that had broken in the projector. Just a big blank wall. The only next tangible thought he had was waking up here. Wherever here was. And he certainly did not have a very good feeling about the situation he currently found himself in. So just relax, be smart. Gather as much information as you can. Bide your time until you can figure a way out of whatever the hell this is…

That was a great plan, but already, lying there strapped to the bed, his leg was starting to howl it's discomfort and demand his attention, giving him a small clue as to how long he may have been unconscious. Sharp, lancing pains were beginning to radiate out from his right thigh, like they always did when he happened to get late for some reason in taking his Vicodin. It was going to turn into a full blown screamer if he didn't get his meds into his system, pronto. He started hollering for someone.

It wasn't long before the grey-eyed woman returned again, a look of absolute cold indifference on her face. House went quiet immediately upon her return to the room, panting for air. His eyes followed her as she walked over to the edge of his bed again, and hung a bag of clear liquid on his IV stand, but he couldn't see what it was.

"I had pills… in my jacket pocket," he ventured, still breathing a bit heavily from his hollering excursion as well as the building pain in his thigh. "Pain killers. I need them," he said, gritting his teeth as a new bolt of pain radiated from his strained and immobile leg.

"Ah, yes. Your Vicodin," the grey-eyed woman said coolly. Then a half smirk curled across her mouth. "You won't be needing those." She said it so matter-of-factly, it caused a new lance of fear to bolt through him. What the hell did they have planned for him?

He watched her pull a syringe from her lab coat pocket and reach for his IV lead, and his eyes widened.

"No, no… wait," he pleaded, unable to keep the fear from his voice as his eyes were glued to the needle she was holding.

"Quiet!" came her loud and sharp reply. "You will sleep now. We will begin in the morning."

Sleep? He had just managed to fucking wake up… No… fight it, fight it…

And he watched her as she slid the needle into his IV feed and push the plunger, which dumped whatever it was immediately into his vein. There was no fighting it. His vision fuzzed over as his eyes slid shut and blackness overtook him. He went limp on the bed. The woman calmly checked all of his vital signs, logged them onto the chart at the foot of his bed, and left the room, not bothering to dim the bright lights.

#####

Again, House struggled to wake up. Battling through a thick, drug-induced fog. Over the years since his surgery, he had experimented a lot, and had become quite accustomed to having various drugs in his system, both prescription and at times, illicit, sometimes even blended together, and many times trailed with a healthy chaser of tequila, scotch, whiskey, or whatever. And he always thought that he had developed a pretty high tolerance for being able to function 'under the influence.' But whatever these bastards were pumping into him to knock him out was some pretty heavy duty shit. He could barely force his eyes open.

As his body and mind pushed their way into the waking world, his leg pain took front and center stage. His pain escalated about 3 times as fast as his rise into the conscious world. Within minutes, he was in agonizing pain. The pain was pretty bad, but not intolerable. He had been in much worse pain than this before. But this was no walk in the park either. He could definitely feel the pronounced lack of any pain killers in his system whatsoever. Plus, he had been held in place, flat on his back, and limbs strapped down for who knew how long. And not only was his leg already howling, his back and shoulders ached as well. He grunted through his clenched teeth. He tried to be quiet, hoping to keep his suffering from his captors. But it was useless. He already had an audience.

"Number 6 is awake." He heard her thickly accented voice say, and knew that meant him. He managed to force his eyes open and look over at the grey-eyed woman sitting on a stool next to him. She still maintained that same cool, detached gaze, absolutely non-committal and completely non-caring.

He was battling with the waves of pain from his leg, and struggling to keep himself under control.

"I really need my painkillers," he said to her. "Please," he added. She could not have cared less.

"Pain scale. 1 to 10," she said, no smile at all. "Give me a number," she demanded flatly.

"Why are you doing this to me? What the fuck do you want?" he yelled, frustrated.

A smug look came to her face, and she leaned closer to him.

"Oh, you will see… soon enough…" she said, with a smile that was filled with evil malice.

"But know this, this can be good for you, or it can be very bad. So answer my question. Give me a number. And do not dare to lie to me. I will know."

He stared at her for a moment.

"Six," he finally answered, honestly.

"Good," she said. "Not high enough yet, but good."

What? Oh, Fuck. Not high enough? How long were they going to make him lay here and take this?

"How fucking high to you want it?!" he demanded.

He heard a low laugh from her that sent shivers through him. His plan was to just try and stay neutral, go along. Gather info and try to work and/or talk his way out of whatever this mess was. But this cold grey-eyed captor was enjoying his pain and suffering way too much. What the fuck were they trying to do? What did they want? He had no idea. But he knew if he wanted to survive this, he had better think of something.

"Hey," he shot out at the grey-eyed woman. "You know my wife has got to know I'm missing. I'm sure she's already looking for me…" he tried.

He was met immediately with more cold laughter from her.

She leaned close into him, seeing him try to hide his fear and reveling in it.

"Nice try." She said with her thick accent. "You live alone. There is no wife. No girlfriend. No pets. Not even a goldfish. You also tend to avoid answering your phone or your pager," she leaned in even closer.

"There will be nobody looking for you. It will be days before anyone even realizes that you are missing. And by then, we will have what we want and it will not matter." She gave him a cruel, evil smile when she finished her explanation. He felt himself cringe, realizing that they had been watching him, that his being here was selective, not random.

Smugly satisfied for the time being, grey-eyes turned and left the room, leaving him alone with his pain.

He had no idea how long she was gone, it felt like hours. He had definitely climbed the pain scale higher since she had left. He was sweating and panting through clenched teeth, barely able to catch his breath. His leg was screaming.

Finally, the grey-eyed bitch returned.

"Pain scale." She said coolly. "Number."

He glared through his pain-filled eyes at the woman next to his bed.

"Eight," he grunted, closing his eyes and pulling against his restraints again, even though he knew it was futile. "Fuck. Eight…"

"Excellent," she answered, a thin smile coming to her face.

"Eyvon, da ve hekshen," she called loudly in their guttural mountain goat language, looking towards the hallway. The male voice responded with what sounded like a question. She looked back at House's face, gasping and twisted in pain. His grey-eyed captor fixed her gaze onto him, tilted her head, then smiled cruelly.

"Yes. Number 6 is ready…" he heard her purr. "We will begin Phase 1." And she turned and left the room again.

#####

She was not gone very long this time. When she returned, she went around his bed, tugging and tightening his restraints. He felt his fear and anxiety ratchet up another notch. When she was satisfied that he was strapped to the bed as securely as possible, she walked back to his side, snagging his chart and tucking it under her arm on the way. She pulled a syringe from her pocket, and held it up for him to see. The liquid inside it was a faint blue color.

"I'm going to inject you now," she said flatly, removing the needle guard and reaching for his IV. "You will be uncomfortable for a few moments. But it will pass." He had no time to mentally prepare any further before she shoved the needle into the junction tube and pushed the plunger.

The drug slammed through his body like a high speed train wreck. His fingers and toes curled up, and every muscle in his body went into a full blown seizure. His back arched up off the bed, pushing his head deeper into the small pillow, and all four of his limbs tried to bend themselves in half, pulling painfully hard against their bindings. He tried to scream, but no sound came out. His lungs were not working. He heard multiple monitor alarms and buzzers going off over his head, but the grey-eyed bitch was just standing there, calmly observing him, scribbling notes into his chart.

There was no way to know how long he had stayed frozen in full body seizure like that, but it felt like an eternity. His vision began to darken around the edges, his lungs demanding air that they were unable to get. Can't…. breathe… his mind screamed. Then, finally, mercifully, he felt the hellacious vice grips of the seizure begin to release their hold. Slowly, he began to sink back down into the bed, finally able to start getting some air into his oxygen starved lungs. He took small pulls of air at first, as much as his slowly relaxing muscles would allow, gradually getting deeper and deeper. The seizure finally passed completely, leaving his whole body limp and shaking, still loudly gulping huge lungfulls of air. The blaring of alarms from the monitors gradually stopped, and resumed their normal soft beeping tones. He struggled to relax and get his breathing back under control.

Holy fuck. That was their idea of uncomfortable?

"Pain scale," grey-eyes demanded. "Right now. Number."

He didn't want to play this game anymore.

"Fuck you," he rasped out, his throat dry from his ragged breathing.

She pounced on him immediately, her steel grey eyes glittering with malice. She grabbed his jaw with one strong hand and wrenched his face towards her, leaning closer to him.

"You will do what you are told," she hissed at him. "You will cooperate. If not, your participation will be terminated immediately. You will be put to sleep and you will not wake up. And that is only if I am feeling generous. Other options are much more painful." She moved her hand to his throat, and applied firm pressure there, letting him know that she could completely cut off his air supply or crush his windpipe whenever she felt like it.

"Do not test my patience. Give me a number. Now!" She demanded loudly.

"I told you, eight." he grunted back at her through clenched teeth.

"No!" she shouted at him. "You're lying!" She lowered her voice, and got even closer to his face. "Take a moment, and think very hard. And give me a real number." She studied his face, searching his eyes, trying to pry open his mind.

He turned his attention to his wilted body, quickly assessing the inputs. He focused on his right leg, and felt… nothing. He went quiet, and stilled himself. He tentatively wiggled it, just a little, expecting it to erupt in brutal agony, but there was nothing at all. There was absolutely no pain coming from his leg, or any other part of his body. Nothing. He couldn't keep the look of disbelief off his face. His grey-eyed captor saw it too. She released her grip on his neck and stood back up, smugly folding her arms and curling a wicked smile across her lips.

"Ahhh haahhh, yes," she cooed. "The pain. It is gone, yes?"

He was shocked. He kept waiting for the pain to come exploding back, but his leg remained quiet. He looked up at her and nodded. All he felt was a weird kind of cool tingling sensation, like he had just brushed against a frosty window, but it was all over him. Like a faint buzzing throughout his body.

"Well then. I would say that all things considered," she waved a hand dismissively over his body, and looking at his restraints. "That presently you would be at about… a 1, correct?" She asked.

"Yeah," he answered, his voice still a little hoarse. "One," he said, nodding.

"Very good," she said. Then the evil smile broadened on her face. "Enjoy it while you can. It is only temporary." She chuckled softly as she turned and walked away from him, pausing to scribble more notes on his chart, and replacing it at the foot of his bed. Then she looked up at him again.

"There will be attendants coming shortly. They will see to your maintenance needs. They will bathe you. You will cooperate with them. There will be no resistance. Understood?" She asked, all smiles gone.

"Yes," he answered, a little weakly. He was feeling drained after the morning's ordeal, and just wanted to rest. He didn't have the strength or the energy to fight anybody. And as much as he hated to admit it, it was deliciously nice to not be in writhing pain for a change. He laid his head back and closed his eyes as he heard her leave the room, feeling wrung out and exhausted. He still had that soft fuzzy tingle throughout his body, but no pain whatsoever.

Not long after that, the 'attendants' arrived. Two lean, trim males dressed in green scrubs. They released him from his restraints, and methodically went about seeing to his needs. They exchanged minimal words with each other, in their own foreign tongue, as they completed their tasks. Changing his catheter bags, checking his monitor and IV leads. And then they had bathed him from head to toe, and dressed him in a fresh but still very loose light green gown. They finished by rolling him and replacing his bed sheets with clean fresh linens. All done very professionally and with detached efficiency. He was completely compliant, he did not resist. When they were done, they reattached his restraints, but not as tightly as before. Then they quietly left the room. Even with the bright lights glaring, he fell asleep almost immediately.

#####

He woke up to find grey-eyes standing next to his bed, scribbling on his chart. She verbally informed the invisible man in the hallway that number 6 was awake.

He had no way of knowing how long he had been asleep, but he felt well rested. And since there were no drugs to fight through this time, his brain sprang into consciousness fairly quickly. His attention went immediately to his right leg. It was still quiet. He moved it around, as much as the restraints would allow. Nothing. No pain at all, just the light buzzing tingle all over. His brain struggled to balance the fact that he was strapped to a hospital bed against his will, being injected by snarling strangers with mystery drugs, but at the same time, God, he hadn't felt this good in years.

"What did you give me?" He asked cautiously.

"You do not ask the questions," she replied sharply, leveling an even stare at him. She thought for a moment, then put the chart down.

"However, you are a doctor," she said, still studying his face. "You are progressing well, and you have been cooperative. So I will answer you."

"The drug you were given is a neuro micronic phaso inhibitor," she continued. "It bonds itself to the body's central nervous system, altering how pain signals are processed and interpreted by the brain. It is called "Ice." It is responsible for the tingling feeling that you are experiencing. The violent seizures that occur upon introduction are an unfortunate side effect that we have unable to eliminate. However, the pain eradicating effect of the drug is long term."

"But you said the effect was only temporary," he countered.

Her evil grin returned immediately.

"Ahh, yes. It is only temporary for you," she smiled. "You see, this is only the first part of the test. We have confirmed that we can control and eliminate your naturally induced pain. Now the real portion of the test begins." She picked up his chart, walked down and replaced it at the foot of his bed.

"I hope your short rest has renewed your strength. You will need it."

"Number 6 is ready for Phase 2," she said, and left the room.

#####

Again, she was not gone for long. And, once again, she went around his bed, pulling and tugging on his restraints. Only this time, she pulled them as tight as they would go. He tried to fight down the fear and panic that he felt rising up inside. The grey-eyed bitch really seemed to be enjoying herself, watching his valiant attempts to stay calm.

"These must be as tight as possible," she said evenly. "You will be more than a little uncomfortable this time." She stopped and studied his reaction, seeing his fear and anxiety building, relishing it.

She walked over and stood next to him, pulling the syringe from her pocket. The liquid inside this one was a pale pink. Grey-eyes got very serious as she held the needle up for him to see it.

"This is nicknamed "Fire." It can undeniably kill you. This is the first of three doses you will be given. I do not intend to allow you to die at this point in the test, so if you want to stay alive, you must follow my instructions. I must know where you are on the pain scale at specific intervals and times. So, when I ask for a number, you must answer me immediately. It is the only way that you will survive this and stay alive. Understood?" She reached for his IV. "Oh, and if you wish to scream, go right ahead, it does not bother me." She finished with a sneering smile.

"Don't, please," he said, not caring if he sounded like he was begging. At this point, he certainly wasn't above that. "Please, no…" but he may as well have been talking to the wall. She shoved the needle into his IV and pushed the plunger, then picked up his chart and stood there watching him, waiting.

He didn't feel anything instantly, not like the inhibitor drug. Just a slow creeping warmth, coming from the center of his body and radiating outward to the tips of his fingers and toes. The temperature began increasing. Getting hotter and hotter. His breathing and heart rate picked up. He made a move to ball his hands into fists, but that only made the heat in his hands jump higher where his skin touched anything, so he flattened his hands back out again. The burning sensations were painful, but this was actually not as bad as he had expected, at least not so far. He was determined to try to keep that little fact a secret from his female tormentor.

"Number." The bitch demanded.

"Six," he answered quickly.

"Don't lie to me!" She snapped.

"God Dammit, alright, alright. Four," he answered honestly, closing his eyes for a moment before opening them again, pissed at himself for apparently being such a lousy liar.

"Good," she replied, and marked his chart. Then she pulled the second syringe from her pocket.

Oh, Fuck, No, no. Not so fast… Was all he got the chance to think before the second dose was shoved in and delivered.

The heat factor went through the roof. The burning tore through him like white hot lightning bolts. It was quickly getting even hotter, scorching every nerve ending throughout his entire body. The blistering heat also began to pool in his right thigh, tapping into those damaged nerves and sending out sharp jolts of very familiar pain that rapidly increased in intensity. He was breathing hard, trying not to move and cause even more pain, but it was getting more and more difficult. His gasping and groaning was getting steadily louder, even through his clenched teeth.

"Number," again from the bitch.

"Seven," he said first, followed quickly by "Eight!" which he nearly howled, as he felt his right leg reawaken with a vengeance. It exploded in agony, battling for top honors with the red hot drug ravaging his body.

He saw the cold grey-eyed bitch grin and mark his chart. Then she pulled the third syringe out and reach for his IV.

"Nooooo!" he yelled out, "No, noooo, no more! Stop! Please, please stop!!!" he was desperate to say anything that would stop her, but of course, it did not. She calmly delivered the third dose.

It felt like his blood had turned to liquid, molten lava. And his right leg was screaming. The pain was excruciating. All rational thoughts left his mind. He began thrashing on the bed, pulling hard against the restraints that would not budge. His entire body was on fire. He was being burned alive. He was going to die.

"Number," he vaguely heard the voice demand.

He opened his mouth, and screamed.

The grey-eyed bitch wrote a number on his chart. She looked down proudly at it. 10.

He had no idea how long he was being forced to endure their brutal torture. He had no concept of time. He screamed over and over again, thrashing on the bed, pulling so hard against his bindings that dark rings of purple bruises were forming at his wrists and ankles. It felt like eternity in the lowest pit of hell.

Then suddenly, he went into a full body seizure. His screaming stopped abruptly, as his lungs were seemingly frozen in place, unable to function. His mind screamed for air, but his body could not provide it. He was vaguely aware of the monitor alarms blaring overhead. Seconds later, blackness overtook him.

#####

He slowly regained consciousness and realized that there were other people in the room. Multiple voices. Bizarre guttural words he could not understand. Speaking to each other quickly in low but urgent tones.

He fluttered his eyes open. Through his hazy vision he saw a crash cart next to his bed, where grey-eyes usually stood. But she wasn't there. Instead there was a tall woman with short black hair standing there, holding the defib paddles. Upon seeing him open his eyes, the woman silently turned and handed the paddles to a man behind her. The chatter from the others turned a bit more excited, and they hurriedly collected their code gear and hustled out of the room.

The woman leaned closer to him.

"Can you hear me?" Came her soft voice. No cruel, guttural accent whatsoever. Her voice was warm, caring, and definitely American.

He looked at her and weakly nodded.

She pulled out a small light and checked both of his eyes.

"You were given the inhibitor. The seizure stopped your heart, but we shocked it back into rhythm. Pain gone?" She asked. He was exhausted and traumatized, but all he felt was the cool tingling buzz of the inhibitor drug. He nodded again.

"Good," she said with a heavy sigh. "Get some rest…"

"Help me," he croaked out, his voice hoarse and parched from his screaming. "Please. They're going to kill me. I can't… take any more… please…" his ragged voice faded to a whisper.

"You're going to be OK. I won't let them…" she started to say, when suddenly, the grey-eyed bitch burst into the room and yanked the other woman harshly back away from the bed. He groaned in fear and frustration.

"Get away from my patient!" the grey-eyed bitch yelled. "Get out!"

The American recovered quickly, and stopped short, pulling her arm back from the bitch's grip.

"No! You nearly killed him!" She yelled back.

"He is not dead," grey-eyes hissed.

"You are reckless," the American fired. "You gave him too much too fast."

"Irrelevant. Why waste time? It is the result I want. I needed a level 10. And the result is the same, regardless of the time it takes to achieve it." She paused, and looked over at House's drained, still form laying on the bed. "He is pain free again, yes?"

The American was quiet for a moment. "Yes," she answered finally.

"Well then, congratulations are in order!" The bitch boasted loudly. "Fire and Ice is a success! Your inhibitor drug works perfectly, both for naturally induced pain as well as maximum dosages of the chemical pain-inducing drug that we have synthesized. Now, interrogations can be done without killing so many subjects. Whole new information extraction techniques can be developed! This will be an extremely profitable tool. I know there are many countries who will be very interested in getting their hands on it, and paying top dollar. You should be very proud."

The American looked over at him, but there was only sadness on her face.

"My inhibitor was never meant to be used in chemical torture," she spat, looking back at the bitch. "Fire and Ice is your twisted creation, not mine. You brought me here and forced me to produce the Ice, but you cannot force me to condone what you are doing with it."

Grey-eyes moved closer to the American, her steel cold eyes glittering with menace, like a predator about to pounce on it's prey.

"You be careful with your tone," she warned, "Or perhaps you would like to be on the receiving end of our little achievement, eh doctor?" And grey-eyes let out a harsh cruel laugh, but it only lasted for a minute. Then she got serious again.

"Alright, enough celebration. You got his heart started again. Your work is done. Now get out."

The American did not move. "No."

The bitch glared at her. "What did you say?"

"You heard me," the American said, holding her ground. "No. I'm staying with him."

The bitch thought about it for a moment, then shrugged her shoulders.

"Very well," she said flippantly. "Stay here with the lab rat if you wish. See that he gets some rest. We will begin the Final Phase as soon as he is ready." And grey-eyes turned and walked out of the room. She paused and spoke again to someone else in the hallway. "Keep an eye on her," and then her footsteps faded away.

He had laid there still and quiet, listening to their entire exchange. It explained everything. He was just a lab rat. He shuddered inside to think what the final phase might be. Although he was feeling the tingle of the inhibitor, he wasn't sure how much more of this kind of punishment he could take. Both his body and his sanity were close to their breaking points.

The American pulled a chair over next to his bed and sat down. She studied his drawn, tired face for a moment.

"I'll stay here and keep the vultures away from you for a while," she said softly. "You should get some sleep."

He was too exhausted to consider doing anything else. He closed his eyes with a faint sigh and slipped quickly into a deep sleep.

#####

He awoke sometime later to the feel of firm hands on him. He slowly opened his eyes to find the same two attendants calmly and efficiently cleaning, bathing, dressing and tending to him. He looked to his left, and the American woman was still there, her chair pushed back against the wall. She looked very tired. Once the two men had finished and left, she moved her chair back up closer to the bed.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

"OK," he answered. He still felt weak and drained, but there was no pain.

"What's your name?" she asked.

"Greg."

"I'm Amanda. Amanda Martelli."

He was quiet for a moment. "You created the inhibitor drug?"

"Yeah," she said, sighing heavily. "Sure did. All those years of R & D in the lab to end up here. With my little wonder drug being used in tandem with chemical torture. Quite an achievement." She said bitterly.

"It's an incredible achievement. It works," he told her.

"Yeah, thanks," she answered, looking down at the floor. "But it doesn't matter now. The bastards brought me here and forced me to produce it for them. For their twisted use."

"I have no idea where we are," he said quietly, "but we have to get out of here. Before we both end up dead."

"I don't know where we are either, but you'll be going home soon, you're the last one," she told him, looking up at him tiredly. "They won't kill me, I'm the only one who knows how to produce my drug. And they won't kill you either. It's one of the things I demanded in order to keep producing the inhibitor for them, I personally oversee all of the subjects being released and returned home. That's what the Final Phase preps you for. You will receive two injections. The first one scrubs and purges the inhibitor from your system. The second knocks you out and fogs your memory. You already experienced that one when they brought you here. By this time tomorrow, you will be waking up in your own bed. You'll be tired and sore, and what little pieces you do manage to remember from all of this will just seem like a bad dream."

Purge the inhibitor? No…

"You're going to put my pain back?" he asked, his eyes going wide. "No. You can't. You can't do that."

"You'll be exactly like you were before you came here…" she began, but he interrupted her.

"NO! That's what I don't want!" he said, his voice rising. "I live with relentless chronic pain, every day. Every fucking day. Your Ice takes it away. After everything I've gone through, at least let me keep this. Don't put the pain back. Please."

"It's not up to me," her voice was heavy with sadness. "The bitch with the sadist complex handles all the injections."

"No," he said weakly, laying his head back and closing his eyes.

The American went quiet. Five minutes later, the grey-eyed bitch came back into the room, carrying two needles.

#####

House rolled over in his own bed, and slowly opened his eyes. Rain was pelting his bedroom window. He laid there, staring at the ceiling, and struggled to get his brain working. He blinked a couple times, trying to clear away the fog. What the hell was wrong with him? He felt like he had gotten run over by a truck. Twice. His whole body was sore, and his leg was howling with it's familiar relentless pain. Had he passed out? Downed too much scotch last night? He couldn't remember. It was all a blank. Why couldn't he remember anything? He never blacked out. Well, there's always a first time. He thought to himself. And speaking of time, what time is it? Hell, what day is it? What the fuck did I do to myself?

He rolled over and sat up, his hands helping swing his right leg onto the floor, grimacing as he got a vicious stab of pain from it. He reached a hand up for his Vicodin bottle, which was sitting right there next to his bedside. He stopped halfway there and froze, staring at his wrist. There were dark purple rings of bruises around it. What the hell? He checked his other wrist, it had the same marks. How did those get there? He searched his memory, he had no explanation whatsoever. Then he got a brief flash of an image in his head. Tied down. Strapped to a bed. Struggling, fighting… And just as quickly, the flash was gone. He shook his head. This was crazy. What the hell had happened to him?

Another image snapped into his head, like a camera shutter clicking. IVs, wires, needles. Lots of needles. Screaming in pain… The image vanished again, just as quickly. Was he losing his mind? No. There had to be a rational explanation. He had just had too much to drink, and must have hurt himself somehow getting to bed. God knows he had certainly done things like that enough times before. And I must have had one zinger of a nightmare. That's all. Yeah, that's what it had to be.

And he certainly wasn't going to be sharing this little story with anyone. Especially Wilson. His overprotective friend would have a field day with something like this.

He rubbed his howling leg, then reached again for his Vicodin bottle. He picked it up, thumbed the cap off, and spilled a couple of the little white pills into his palm. But something else came tumbling out of the bottle with them. He saw the top end of a glass tube. He dropped the pills on the bed, and pulled the thing out of the bottle. It was a long, slender vial. He picked it up and looked at it, holding it up to the dim gray light coming from the window. The liquid inside had a faint blue color…

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