Fandom: House MD/Dead Like Me crossover
Rating: R overall, for swearing and graphic description
Characters/pairings: House, Original Characters, mention of House/Stacy. Eventual House/Wilson.
Warnings: Afterlife!Fic. Thus, by necessity, also a death!fic, but not depressing. Also has spoilers for For Merry Little Christmas and Meaning.
Summary: "Life sucks, and then you die. And then it still sucks."
Obligatory Disclaimer: I don't own, write for, or produce either of these fabulous shows. I'm just a geek with too much time on her hands.
A/N: I'm borrowing the premise of Dead Like Me, not the characters or the plot. You don't need to see DLM to understand this (but you should watch it sometime, because it's fantastic.)
Unbeta'd. Anyone interested?
Concrit feedback is most welcome!
For every door that closes, a window opens somewhere else.
-some optimist with no sense of reality
It was a beautiful day, and Dr. Greg House woke up feeling less miserable than he was used to.
He was well-rested for a change. The week had been hell; he'd spent most of the last four nights at the hospital, working to diagnose a college student whose kidneys and liver were failing. He'd had, of all damn things, Weil Syndrome. Two weeks of antibiotics and rest and he'd probably be fine.
Sleeping in seemed like a just reward for solving a case and saving a young man's life, and he'd eventually unplugged the alarm after half an hour of hitting the snooze button. By the time he'd actually rolled out of bed, it had been almost ten. And by the time he had showered, washed down two Vicodin with a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal, and walked out the door, it was just past eleven.
It was one of those beautiful early spring days; the sun was out, and the wind blew warm and wet from the south, and the memory of a long, cold, horrible winter was clear enough to make him more appreciative of the balmy weather and the opportunities it afforded him.
A perfect day for a motorcycle ride. Bad day to be stuck in the hospital with annoying patients and Deans of Medicine trying to bully him into healing them. House decided to take the scenic route to the hospital.
House stopped for gas at a Mobil station on the way to Route 206. After limping inside to pay the cashier, he returned to find a woman, a pretty, well-dressed brunette in her early thirties, standing in front of the bike and looking at it admiringly.
"Nice bike," she said conversationally, turning to him.
"It's a chick magnet, obviously. Wanna ride?" He leered at her, hoping to scare her off.
"Sure!" she said, brightly. "I could use one. I'm running late for my appointment."
The woman swung a leg over the bike, and pulled her long brown hair into a ponytail. House stared at her. She returned the stare with a look that managed to be both expectant and patient. I could wait here all day, it said, but it would be better for both of us if you hurried the hell up.
"I wasn't serious," he eventually said.
"Then you shouldn't have offered." She opened her purse, took out a compact mirror, and checked her hair. House's mind went into automatic deduction mode. So she was vain. And attempting to appear unconcerned. Used to manipulating men. Interesting. Maybe she was an escort.
"What's the hurry? Will your pimp beat you if you're late meeting a john?" House waited for her to tell him to fuck off, but instead of expected blow up, the woman just smirked at her reflection.
"No, but he'll withhold my drugs. So what do you say, one junkie to another?"
That he hadn't expected.
"Anybody who rides a bike like this is an adrenaline addict," she said, without waiting for his response. She was grinning politely. "At the very least."
House, for once, couldn't think of anything to say, other than, "I don't have an extra helmet."
"Then be careful. But not too careful. I want to enjoy this." She put the mirror back in her purse and looked at him expectantly.
He thought about kicking her off the bike with a few well-chosen words or threats of violence, but then reconsidered. It was a beautiful day, and a pretty woman was practically begging him for a ride. He'd be an idiot not to. If nothing else came of it, it would at least give him something to boast about to Wilson and the fellows. Maybe he could make Wilson jealous. Maybe he could even get one of Cameron's trademark Disapproving Glares. He handed her the helmet and kick started the engine.
Three near death experiences, (cardiac arrest, a shooting, and an overdose in House's case), were enough to give anyone a healthy sense of their own mortality. In addition to that, House's occupation meant encountering death on a fairly regular basis. In such a situation, it was impossible to not think about one's own eventual demise.
House had an unwritten list, the product of endless musing on the subject. He called it:
The Top Five Ways House Thought He Would Die
1. Overdose on Vicodin. Or some other kind of drug, but the Vicodin were the most likely. After all, it had already happened once.
2. Alcohol related incident; either asphyxiating on his own vomit, or crashing his car, or mixing booze with the pills in the wrong way. The possibilities of that one were endless.
3. A fall. His leg would give out the wrong way at the wrong time and he'd crack his skull or break his neck. Statistically probable, even with the cane and the handrails in his bathroom.
4. Motorcycle crash. Again, statistics were against him. He wore a helmet and knew how to ride safely, but there was no accounting for the other idiots on the road.
5. Liver failure from aceteminophen poisoning. They'd never approve him for a transplant. He was nearing fifty, was an unrepentant narcotic addict, drank, and had pissed off the transplant board too many times to count.
House had another unwritten list, of ways that he'd hypothetically like to die. Heart failure during an orgy, for example. Being eaten by Godzilla. Spontaneous combustion. Struck by a meteor while he was too stoned to move out of the way. Or being struck down by an entirely new virus (that would hopefully have symptoms like euphoria and total insensitivity to pain), that would be named after him posthumously. He liked the sound of The House Virus. It would have been a nice legacy to leave behind.
On neither of these lists was the way House actually died, though afterwards, he kind of appreciated the irony.
The woman thumped House lightly on the shoulder, and shouted above the din of the engine. "Let me off at Witherspoon and Valley Road!" He nodded to show he understood.
He had taken the extremely scenic route, and despite the woman's claims of having an appointment, she's said nothing to hurry him along. Last time House glanced at his watch, it was nearing noon.
It was obvious she'd ridden before. She knew how to lean into and out of the curves of the road, and didn't object when he'd laid the throttle open on a straight away, tearing down the tree lined road at almost eighty miles an hour. She'd just laughed.
It made him reluctantly nostalgic for the days before the infarction, when he'd kidnap Stacy during her lunch break and spend the hour riding through the hills outside of Princeton. It had been too long since he'd had somebody behind him on the bike. Having someone pressed up behind you, alternately laughing in your ear or crying out in fright when you took a curve too fast made riding more enjoyable.
Maybe he'd offer Wilson a ride back to his hotel tonight. He'd take the scenic route there, of course.
House was grinning, imagining how he could con Wilson onto the back of the motorcycle after work, as he pulled into a Texaco station on the corner of Witherspoon and Valley.
The woman swung her leg over the bike and stood, stretching. She pulled the helmet off and handed it back to him.
"Thanks for the ride."
"I hope I didn't make you too late. Wouldn't want you to be jonesing for your fix."
The woman laughed as she shook her hair out of its ponytail.
"Don't worry. I'll cut him if he tries that shit on me." She put her hand out. "I'm Delia McPherrin, by the way."
He took her hand. "Greg House. Maybe I'll see you again."
She just smiled wider, but now there was another emotion on her face. Was that... relief? "Doubt it," she said.
As though she had timed it, the gas station blew up behind them.
Sharon Benoit only smoked in her car. She had two kids and a self-righteous husband at home, gossiping co-workers and a boss with a wife with lung cancer at work. It was the only place she could smoke without anyone loudly judging her bad habit of choice.
She only smoked three a day; one Marlboro Light on the way to work, one during her lunch break, one on the way home. She used scented lotion and left the window open, so the smell wouldn't cling to her hands or clothes.
Today, at 12:04 pm, on her lunch break, the burning coal of her cigarette fell off in the wind from the open window and clung to her wool slacks. She didn't smell the burning fabric because of the tobacco smoke lingering in the car, and didn't feel the heat because of the calf-high leather boots she was wearing beneath them. She pulled over to the Texaco station on the corner of Witherspoon and Valley Road, went inside, pre paid for her gas. She didn't notice when the red-haired twenty-something year old behind her brushed her fingers over the arm of the tweed J. Crew jacket Sharon was wearing, after she saw the name on the credit card. She didn't notice the girl leaving the store afterwards without paying for the coffee and Danish in her hands, but neither did anyone else, including the cashier.
She didn't notice the older man straddling a motorcycle and talking to a younger woman a dozen yards away from the pumps. And she didn't notice the puddle of leaked gasoline that had collected under her car while she was in the store. But she sure as hell noticed when the still-burning ember fell from her pant leg into the puddle, causing the gas under, and then in, the car to ignite. But then she was already dead, along with the other person at the pumps, two of the customers in the store, the cashier, and Dr. Gregory House.
"What the fuck was that?" House shouted, over the din of car alarms, sirens, and human suffering. He was staring at the wreck of the Texaco, burning like the flames of Hell.
"That was a cigarette in a puddle of gasoline. A new way of being killed by smoking." The voice came from behind him. House turned around and saw a youngish girl, with short red hair sitting on the sidewalk behind him, eating a Danish and holding a cup of coffee. She was probably in her early twenties.
She seemed far too unconcerned about what was going on, judging by the way she ignoring the fire and falling debris in favor of her pastry. Probably suffering shock.
She looked up at him. "I'm fine," she said. "It takes more than this to shock me by now."
"More than this?" House gestured at the flames and the belching black smoke.
The girl shrugged, and took another bite of her Danish. It was then that he noticed he was alone. Oh shit, what about Delia?
"What happened to the woman I was standing with?" he asked the redhead.
"Delia?" the girl asked through a mouthful a pastry. She took a sip from her coffee and said quietly, "I think she's gone."
"Gone?" Shit. Then something else struck him. "You know her?"
"We work together." The girl stood, stuffing the rest of the Danish in her mouth and crumpling up the wax paper. "I'm Kaylin McKay. No jokes about the name, please. But you can call me Kay."
"Greg House," he responded absently. The surreality of the situation was beginning to overwhelm him. "Just call me House."
"Well, House, I think there's something you should probably see." She nodded to a point behind him. He turned, and saw she was gesturing to his motorcycle. It looked fine, miraculously. Then he noticed the spreading pool of blood beside it. Curious, he walked the few steps to the other side of the bike.
And saw himself. It was a little dizzying.
On the ground lay his body, clad in the leather jacket, jeans, and sneakers he'd dressed himself in that morning. Only now, his head was mostly separated from the rest of himself, attached only by a thin piece of gristle. A few feet away, among other debris from explosion, lay the object that had apparently done the damage; a now gore-encrusted CD of James Taylor's greatest hits.
"It was in the car at the pumps that exploded, I think. She seemed like a James Taylor fan," Kaylin McKay said from behind him.
House hated James Taylor.
Continued in part 2