Title: Life on Freakin' Mercury Retrograde
Author: entercreativename (aka: azmatazz, arizonamyrie)
Beta: girlofsoccer (aka: Hail the Random)
Prompt: unprompted – ENB meets Life on Mars
Characters: Evil Nurse Brenda, House, Cuddy, Annie Cartwright (LoM), Sam Tyler (LoM), Gene Hunt (LoM)
Warning: mild swearing, 1970s
Disclaimer: Not mine. Characters belong to their respective creators in Hollywood and Cardiff
Summary: Brenda has a small accident in the clinic and wakes up in 1973 Manchester. House/Life on Mars crossover. Written for the ENBFest at LiveJournal
Late. L-A-T-E. Late.
1.) Happening, coming, etc… after the usual, proper, or expected time; tardy; behindhand.
2.) Having recently died.
Brenda was late and she knew it. She looked down at her watch and a few swearwords popped out of her mouth as she ran from her car at the back of the parking lot to the employee entrance at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. She wasn't normally late. In fact she was never late. But there was always that annoying coworker lurking in the corner waiting for her, just to say those two little words: "You're late." Well, one word and a contraction. Did that still count?
It was 8:17 am and she was due in the walk-in clinic over half an hour ago to process early patients. It was the middle of April and a light shower had just dampened the blackened pavement beneath her feet. She had oatmeal for breakfast, and managed to spill the first spoonful of it on her first set of scrubs. As she ran from her car towards the hospital, she thought of all the wonderful excuses she could try. She could say her alarm clock didn't go off, which in reality, it didn't. She could say her car broke down, and really, the starter was sticky that morning and the car's electronics were a mess. Or traffic, there was a backup on her way in, which of course was really due to the ten-car pileup just ahead of the highway exit closest to the hospital. That Detective Gene Hunt took his time explaining it all to her as he pulled her over on that ramp for reckless driving. But her real reason for being late? She was up late watching British television.
Brenda skidded into the clinic, her heavy breaths barely discernable to the usual banter and shuffling of the hospital. She ran fast, hard, and then skidded, her purse spilling across the floor of the nurses' station and her water bottle breaking, splashing water all over her and a computer inches away from her head. Whoever said those things were indestructible lied, and she had every intention of hunting them down. She laid on the floor in the puddle of water, staring at the ceiling. A few nurses were running to her when she heard the unmistakable squeaking of an obnoxious, pompous doctor's cane behind her head.
"Oops," he said as he stole the sucker that spilled from her purse.
"House!" Brenda yelled as she shot up to steal the sucker back from him but he was too fast and was walking away. The nurses, seeing that their supervisor was okay went back to their own work. "House! Come back here this instant!"
"You are not my mother. And YOU are late." House looked down at his watch and popped the sucker out of his mouth. "Twenty minutes past eight. You know how long I've waited for you to come and yell at me?" He popped the sucker back into his mouth, just to annoy her. "Twenty minutes."
"You were on time?"
"Well, no. But the principle still stands." He flashed her a toothy grin and started to walk away.
Brenda picked up a stack of patient charts next to her and looked down at them, studying the one on top: a Sam Tyler, a new detective in Princeton with a sore throat and botched insurance. "Dr. House, you may need these," she said, following behind him, walking, then running. For a man needing a cane, he could really move fast. She broke into a faster pace when suddenly her foot hit something other than the floor. Patient files flew everywhere and she fell backwards, hitting her head on the edge of a countertop on the way down.
"Augh!" she called out as she felt herself fall backwards, the lights growing brighter around her, sounds growing louder. One face was discernable in front of her own. House. She felt him touch her forehead and saw him shine a penlight in her eyes, one, then the other. She heard him call for a gurney and check her pulse. Then there was another flash and all went dark. Brenda had one thought, and one thought only: Damn you, House!
Lights started to flash in front of her eyes as she slowly rose from the depths of consciousness to the world around her, followed by the sounds of phones ringing and typewriters clanking. Typewriters? She opened her eyes and was hit with the blinding light of a lamp above her head; cigarette smoke hit her nose next and she began to cough. She never smoked a day in her life and the scent only irritated her further due to her secret desire to at some point become a chain smoker. She closed her eyes again to protect them from the harsh chemicals.
"Sam, she's coming to!" a woman with a British accent shouted from near her head. Did she just hear that right?
"I'll be right over," a man, presumably Sam, answered with a similar accent as Brenda opened her eyes. The cigarette smoke that loomed in the air made them water and she began to rub them.
"It's okay dear. You hit your head and have a concussion, that's all," the woman said again. Brenda looked her up and down. She was a woman with shoulder length hair reminiscent of a shorter, darker version of Farrah Faucet's stared back at her, wearing a very seventies shirt, vest, and skirt combo. A man walked across the room wearing a similar shirt, corduroys, and a black leather jacket. He offered Brenda a cup of water.
"Here," the man said as the woman helped her sit up straight. "This will help."
Brenda looked around and tried to figure out where she was and what was going on. "This isn't the hospital."
"No, it's not," the woman said. "I'm WDC Annie Cartwright, you can call me Annie, and this is DI Sam Tyler."
"Sam," he said and blocked the doorframe from view. The occasional glance was shot through to the room behind him and back to Annie.
"Do you remember what happened?"
Brenda looked around again, still dazed and confused as to why she was laying on a couch in what appeared to be a locker room and why the two other people didn't speak the same as her. She sat up but was dizzy for the moment.
"Easy there," Annie said as Sam leaned down to help ease Brenda back down on the couch. It was at this moment that Brenda realized she was no longer wearing her scrubs. In fact, she was wearing what looked to be a woman's police uniform from the United Kingdom. 1970s United Kingdom.
"Oh, crap." Brenda said as she saw what was happening. "House! Come out right this instance! I know it's you behind this!"
"Shh, no. Please don't shout!" Sam whispered, trying to quiet Brenda down. He offered her the glass of water again.
"Fine," Brenda said, taking a sip of water. "Where am I?"
"Manchester. You're in the main police station. You're a WPC, recently assigned here from Plainsboro, B division," Sam said. "Or at least we think. We just found you in here as is."
"You took my job," Annie offered a small wave at Brenda. "It's not that bad."
Brenda started laughing. "Okay, right. I'm a nurse at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital at Princeton University. The year's 2008, and last I checked, I was wearing pink scrubs. I hit my head in the clinic and fell down, this was right after House did something…"
"Concussion," Annie held a cold rag to Brenda's head. Sam looked back down at them.
"Well, we can't have the Guv knowing what's happened."
"The Guv?" Brenda asked. And on cue a man appeared in the doorway, glass of a tannish colored liquid in his hand that she could smell from ten feet away.
"Well, what are you two love birds doing in here? And who's she?" he glanced down at Brenda.
"Excuse me? Who are you? Where is House?" Brenda ran up to the man in the doorway despite Sam's and Annie's best efforts at keeping her on the couch. Brenda had a sudden rush of dizziness that fought to overtake her.
"Guv, give us a minute-"
"Don't Guv me, Tyler. You're insane enough as is, we don't need another nutter around here."
"Excuse me!" Brenda tried again.
"Who's the bird?" the man asked to Sam, but it was Annie who answered him.
"She's my replacement for the WPC position. It's no bother really. She brought up some paperwork and slipped on someone's spilled coffee. Hit her head, she'll be fine." Annie tried charming her way with the man, but it obviously wasn't working.
Brenda looked at the older man and said, "You pulled me over this morning! A block from the hospital."
"Did not!" the man yelled.
"Did too. You're Detective Gene Hunt. You pulled me over for reckless driving right after I got through the accident zone. Then, as a nurse, you wouldn't let me help out at the scene. The hospital was just a few blocks away."
"Where was this?" Hunt asked.
"Princeton. New Jersey. The United States. North America-"
"This is Manchester. England. Europe." Hunt took a sip of his drink.
"Why am I in Manchester?" Brenda asked. "I don't want to be in Manchester!"
"Well, you should have thought of that sooner," Hunt barked at her. "Ev'ry day I ask myself that question, and ev'ry day's worse than the last. Clean 'er up and get 'er outta here," Hunt walked out of the room, sipping his whiskey or bourbon or whatever the hell it was he was drinking while in a police station in England. Sam and Annie waited for the door to fully close once again before they gave their attention back to Brenda.
"Look, it's really not as bad as you think."
"Like you would know Sam – wait. Why are you here?"
"I work here," Sam said.
"No, you don't. I saw you today."
"I had an accident, and I woke up here. It's complicated."
Brenda looked up and down at the man. "I gathered that already but I don't know how. But you were in the clinic, I had your chart in my hand. You have a sore throat, fever, probably just strep. But your insurance is botched." Sam looked at Brenda, about to ask her a question, but she ignored him and pushed Annie aside. "Look I have to get back. It's bad enough that House is going to lord this over me as is, but now I'm hallucinating I'm on a TV show." As Brenda took a step forward, a wave of nausea overtook her and her knees buckled.
"Steady there," Sam caught her.
"But I have to get out of here." She stood up taller, and Sam, noticing her change in posture, let go of her arm. "First things first, to tell your boss that he shouldn't have pulled me over this morning."
"Okay," Sam said, not really bothering to take in a word of it.
"Next, tell House that the joke is up, and great job redecorating the locker room. Oh, and finding a 1970s policewoman's uniform. From Great Britain. Kudos to that.
"We'll remember that, sweetie," Annie replied, pressing a cool damp cloth to Brenda's forehead.
"And thirdly, thirdly…" Brenda's voice began to trail off as the room lurched around her; Sam and Annie helped her lay back onto the sofa.
Her name was the last thing Brenda heard Annie say as the world around her went dark.
"She's coming to…" a woman said from behind Brenda's head. "That's a nasty bump there, but with a couple of days to rest, you should be fine."
Brenda opened her eyes with caution, not quite sure of what sight would greet her – a hospital in 2008 or a police station in 1973.
"Welcome back to the land of the not drugged up. My name's Greg House and I'll be your tormentor today."
"Can it House," Brenda whispered as he shone a penlight in her eyes. The world was still spinning around her, but she could make out the faces of House, Cuddy, and Gloria, one of the nurses she worked with in the clinic. She smoothed her hands over her thighs, feeling the cotton of her scrubs under them, not the polyester of a policewoman's uniform skirt. "As for drugged, I don't think I can ever match you House."
"Concussions do that," Cuddy said. "And I think you'll be taking it easy for a few days. Worker's comp will help. Do you remember what happened?"
"I slipped on something, fell and hit my head I think. House was there. Then, I was in 1973, in Manchester."
"Life on Mars marathon last night?" House asked, and Brenda could see he was preparing some quip to get back at her with.
"House, don't bother her. She's just had a brain injury."
"Thank you," Brenda said to Cuddy as House left the exam room.
"Take it easy for a few days, Brenda, and everything will be good as new."
"Good as new," Brenda said, leaning back onto the gurney. Cuddy and Gloria walked out of the room, leaving Brenda alone on the gurney. The flickering of the lights hurt her eyes, so she closed them and listened to herself breathing in and out in the quiet of the hospital room.
"Brenda! Wake up!" Brenda heard Sam yell. Her eyes shot open and she sat up on the gurney, but was met by an empty room. She should have never stayed up to watch TV.