Disclaimer: I do not own House and co., but there are some original characters here.
A/N: And now for something completely different. It's rated M because the subject matter may get pretty gruesome, and because people will be swearing a lot more than usual. Sorry, but I'm taking a few liberties with the job of medical examiner, including some procedure and politics. This is eventually going to involve some supernatural elements, but at its core, this is a romance and a mystery. PLEASE R&R!
Dr. Greg House parked his car, not caring that he was in a no parking zone. He knew he wouldn't get a ticket. Hell, he knew most of the cops around here—he'd worked with them all at some point or another. That didn't mean they all liked him, but he couldn't help that, could he? With a huff, he threw open his car door and was momentarily blinded by the flashing police lights. House waited until his eyes adjusted, and then he limped to the back of his car, opened the trunk, and retrieved a bag of materials.
He took a quick peek around him, realizing that he was in a relatively quiet, residential neighborhood. Though the sight of three police cars zooming down a street was nothing new in New York City, the sight of three stopped on this street was probably a unique experience. A few neighbors had trekked outside in their nightgowns and bathrobes, probably waiting for an arrest or even something morbid.
If House was here, then it was definitely going to be morbid. But after five years as a city medical examiner, he'd just about seen everything. All he hoped for right now was that it would not be a kid. Three in the morning was not a great time for that. There was actually never a good time for a dead kid, but if there had to be, three in the morning was not it. He quickly rubbed his face, hoping to wipe away the residue of sleep.
Finally he approached an officer that he recognized. Though House worked as a medical examiner, his medical degree often led officers to seek him out when they had an…issue that they didn't want on their insurance. Or, in this officer's case, something he didn't want his wife to know about. At first, House had no desire to help anyone out; but he soon realized that the more secrets he knew about a person, the more likely he was to either disparage House less, or, in the best cases, leave him alone completely.
"Dr. House," the officer greeted. "Hope you're having a lovely evening."
"What have we got?" House asked, skipping the pleasantries. The officer was unfazed, however.
"Neighbors heard a scream. When the woman didn't answer her door, they called us. We show up, and find a dead body." He shrugged.
"Thanks for your help," House replied, his tiredness rendering him incapable of any niceties. Instead, the caustic tone of his voice only managed to piss the officer off.
"Fourth floor," he spat out. "There's no elevator, but that shouldn't be a problem. Oh, wait," he said, motioning to House's leg. "I completely forgot! You're a cripple! Too bad, but it can't be helped." He grinned, and House didn't like the malicious glint in his eye. He probably should have known what was coming next, but it still hit him like a punch in the stomach. "Be sure to say hi to Detective Tritter for me while you're up there."
"Tritter, you said?" House asked, his hand gripping his cane just a little more tightly. "He's working this case?"
"Sure he is! Oh, and House? If he decides to break any more of your fingers, ask him if he can do the pinky just for me." The officer laughed, and turned his back on House. House had to resist the urge to take his cane and shove it… He shook his head, trying to calm himself down. It wouldn't be a good idea to see Tritter while pissed off. The last time he did that, well, he ended up with three broken fingers. Most cops took House's crap because in the end, he did a good job and they caught the bad guy. Tritter, on the other hand, only saw the opportunity to break a spirit. House wouldn't be surprised to one day hear that Tritter had a secret basement filled with abused puppies. He was just that much of an ass.
House slowly made his way up to the apartment, often taking long breaks on the landings between flights of stairs. He was breathing heavily when he made it up to the fourth floor, and he wasn't sure that he could handle much more pain.
"I need a fucking assistant," he muttered, reaching for his Vicodin. Ever since he'd been fired from his old job, he hadn't had a doctor who was willing to prescribe him as much Vicodin as he actually needed. So, House being House, he usually found some through illegal channels. But it wouldn't do for Tritter to see him with his pills, so he quickly dry-swallowed two.
"Old habits die hard, don't they, Dr. House?" Busted. House quickly put the bottle back in his pocket, and turned to face Tritter. "Well, lucky for you, this patient is already dead, so there's not much more harm that you can do."
"Oh, goody," House replied, suddenly feeling as if what little energy he had left was slowly being sucked out of him. "Where's the body?"
Tritter, annoyingly calm as always, merely motioned to the door. With a glare, House stormed by him and into the apartment. But he froze in his tracks when he saw the body.
"That body is missing a heart," he stated. "Cool." House slowly limped toward the body, staring at the huge hole in her chest. He was somewhat disheartened—no pun intended—to see the pretty, youthful face, even in death, contorted in fear and pain. "At least we have a pretty good idea of cause of death," he mumbled, mostly to himself.
"Can you tell us anything about what was used to remove the heart?" Tritter asked, squatting beside the body. House thought about that for a moment, staring at the torn skin.
"Well, it looks like she was still alive when she was cut open," he started, using his cane to lift the victim's sleeves. "I don't see any initial indication of bondage, so I would wonder if she'd been drugged. We'll have to do a tox screen." House frowned, leaning forward to inspect the offending wound a little more closely. "That's impossible," he said.
"What is?" Tritter asked, a smirk on his face.
"It's just… If I didn't know any better, I would say that it looked like the heart had been ripped out." He leaned even closer to the body, his brow furrowed in concentration.
"Why?" Tritter took out a pen from his jacket pocket, and flipped open a small notebook.
"Because I've seen enough surgeries in my day to know what all those pesky veins and arteries would look like if they'd just been cut. Whatever happened here, it was unbelievably violent." House had to resist the urge to shudder. Imagining what this young woman had been through made him glad that he'd had a light dinner. Straightening himself, House started to look around the apartment.
As he would expect, it was relatively comfortable. There was a definite feminine touch, though. Clean.
"I'm assuming she lived alone," House said. Tritter was following him, as usual. House was never sure if it was because Tritter didn't trust House, which he didn't, or because he enjoyed listening to what House came up with. He imagined it would be an interesting mix of both.
"You'd be correct in that assumption." The two walked into the small kitchen, and Tritter waited patiently while House checked the sink, fridge, and dishwasher.
"No recently used utensils, so either the murderer took time to do the dishes after he drugged and killed her, or he drugged her using another method. Perhaps a syringe. If your guys happen upon a syringe, you'll let me know, right?" House couldn't help the edge that roughened his tone when he addressed Tritter directly.
"I'll be sure to do that, Dr. House."
They entered the bedroom. House had never been above breaking into a patient's home when he'd been at the hospital, but it was different when the patient was already dead. Any drugs, chemicals, or other possibly harmful materials that House could find here would never save someone's life. They would only let House know how that person died.
He sighed, noticing the line of pictures on the dresser. Usually House would try to avoid anything that would give the dead body lying on the living room floor—the one that he would be cutting up later—any semblance of life, but he was drawn to the photos. Hesitantly, he picked up a frame. All the pictures were all of the woman in the living room and another woman who had to be her sister. The two women in the photo that House had picked up looked too similar for there to be any relation but that of siblings. They looked like they were in a park somewhere, eating a picnic. The woman in the living room had her arms around her sister, and the two were looking at each other, smiling. House frowned, feeling those first stirrings of guilt deep in his gut. These two sisters—they'd never see each other again. The picture was quickly placed back on the dresser.
"Pretty, no?" Tritter's voice brought House out of his temporary reverie.
"Both, I guess."
"Well, now you know there's a sister you should probably be contacting," House said, clearly evading the original question. He turned to look at the bed, his gaze focusing on the bedside table. Suddenly impatient, House opened the top drawer, looking for anything useful. Nothing. Next drawer, the same. House huffed, and sat down on the bed. What he had overlooked, though, was a letter left on the table. There was a pen thrown next to it, still uncapped. He reached for the letter, and began to read.
I'm so sorry for what happened in the past. I know how difficult it was for you to lose Matthew, and I should never have pushed you like I did. But I hope you know that I did it only because I thought it was for the best. I never, ever, ever wanted to hurt you.
I need to see you, Allie. I can't explain why, but it's urgent. I have to
And that's where it broke off.
"Interesting," House said.
"May I see?" Tritter asked, holding his hand out.
"Seems that the happy sisters weren't so happy." Tritter grunted in response. "I also wonder why she didn't just send an email."
"I didn't see a computer anywhere," Tritter offered.
"Still," House mused. "If she was so desperate to talk to her sister, then she could have borrowed a friend's computer. Or, she could have gone to the library. Or…"
"But it seems like she thought she was in trouble," Tritter interrupted.
"Well, considering she's dead and currently missing a heart, I'd say she had a good reason to think that."
"I'm going to try to get a hold of the sister," Tritter announced, completely ignoring House.
"Have fun!" House said, waving. "Don't come back too soon!"
"You're not going to have any trouble getting the body downstairs, are you, Dr. House? Because I think my men and I are going to be too busy to help you with that." Tritter smirked when House's glare turned murderous. "Maybe next time you'll try to be a bit more polite."
"Shit," House muttered, imagining the fun he was going to have dragging that body down the stairs. He knew that he shouldn't antagonize Tritter, but he just couldn't help it. Something about that man just pissed him off.
House sighed, resolving to search the rest of the bedroom before trying to haul the body downstairs. It was going to be a long night.
"Cameron? Cameron? Can you hear me?" Allison Cameron slowly opened her eyes, taking a moment to focus on the face in front of her.
"Dr. Wilson?" She sounded groggy. "What happened?" Cameron turned her head, noticing the crowd of people standing around her. Confused, she furrowed her brow and repeated her question.
"You fainted," he explained, helping her to sit up. Once Cameron was sitting, he sent a glare in the direction of the crowd, who immediately dispersed. "Actually, you screamed, and then you fainted," he whispered. In that moment, everything came back to Cameron.
Her sister. Eva. Screaming. She was… Tears started to gather in the corners of her eyes, and she felt her throat tighten. Unbeknownst to her, she'd started to breathe heavily, which worried Wilson.
"Whoa, whoa.Allison," he said her name firmly, grabbing hold of both arms. "I need you to calm down. What happened?"
How was she supposed to tell him the truth?
"I-I don't know. I'm sorry. It's probably because I haven't eaten or slept much recently." Wilson grunted in response, helping her to stand.
"Well, if you work in a hospital, that happens sometimes. Especially after a long day dealing with a meningitis epidemic." He smiled. "But I'm going to have to insist that you go home and sleep. Better yet, let's get you something to eat first. I'll treat you to something from the vending machine."
"Oh, you don't have to," she stammered, much preferring to get home and call her sister. Maybe, just maybe, what she'd felt and seen was a mistake. Maybe Eva was still alive, and instead of dead, she was just injured. Deep down, Cameron knew that she was wrong. Eva was dead. There'd been that dream…
"I insist," Wilson repeated, smiling. Cameron couldn't help but smile back—Wilson was a charmer. She didn't know him too well, though. Occasionally the Immunology department crossed paths with the Oncology department, but not too often. Most of what she knew about Wilson came from gossip.
Three wives, multiple affairs? Yup, but those weren't as interesting as the reason why the third, and last, marriage ended. Word through the grapevine was that it ended after Wilson's best friend, and the hospital's most brilliant doctor, Greg House had been fired. No one knew for sure why House had been fired, but the facts surrounding his departure were damning in and of themselves. A patient had died, and House had been found passed out in his office, nearly dead after an overdose of Vicodin and, it was whispered, a fair amount of scotch. Two and two together makes a dangerous liability. But apparently Wilson hadn't taken it well. Not well at all. Matters were apparently only aggravated after House refused rehab and left, never to be seen nor heard from again.
"So, what would you like?" Wilson asked, dramatically motioning to the contents of the vending machine. "We have a wide variety on tonight's menu."
"Uh, how about a Milky Way?"
"Ooh, interesting choice. We'll have an orange juice, as well, garçon." He inserted several coins into the machine, pressed a few buttons, and waited patiently for their food. He repeated the process several times, until both he and Cameron were in possession of candy bars and orange juice.
"Thanks, Dr. Wilson," Cameron said, smiling. But it was a forced smile.
"What else is going on, Cameron?" he asked, suddenly serious.
"Nothing, I'm just worried about my sister. I have… a feeling that something bad happened to her." Cameron looked down at her candy bar, and ripped open the wrapper.
"Dr. Cameron!" A nurse was running towards them. "Dr. Cameron! There's a Detective Tritter on the phone for you. He says it's urgent; something about your sister." Cameron nodded, though Wilson saw all of the color drain from her face. For a moment he was worried she might faint again, and he even took a step closer to her, but she answered in a steady voice.
"I'll be right there. Thank you." She turned to look at Wilson. "Thank you, Wilson. I'll… I'll see you around, I guess." With that, Cameron started to walk away.
"Cameron?" Wilson called out. "If you need anything, please call." She didn't answer, but only nodded. After a hesitant wave, she turned away. Wilson stood there until she was out of sight.
He felt a sudden sense of dread, as if a ball had just been sent rolling, or as if a chapter had been finished. All he could think was: something big is happening.