Unidentified White Male
Summary: This story is not AU but more Alternative Scenario. Major spoilers for Houses' Head. Almost everything is else the same but Amber did not get on the bus!
Rating: M. Adult. NC-17 Slash, language.
Disclaimer: I manipulate the sexy House and others to my hearts content. No fee's, no earnings,...just fun!
Two things brought this story possibility to mind: House waking up in the peeler bar suffering partial amnesia and watching The Bourne Identity last night. Guilty! I'm borrowing the ideas and will try my own spin on it.
This story in no way is trying to "top" Houses' Head, I just wanted to explore where the episode could also have gone. I have also taken some liberties regarding scenes/dialogue from the episode.
Music pounded against his eardrum causing it to vibrate harshly in his inner ear and sending its language of noise and pain to an already overpowering headache.
In a dark room where the only illumination were gaudy lights of flashing red and blue, a stripper gyrated before him and smiled the phony grin of a woman horny for her customer but actually thinking about the hot bath waiting for her at home.
Gregory House, physician, sat still on a padded couch stained with many spilled drinks and watched the peeler with mild interest from nodding lids in a rough, handsome face. The peeler was very pretty, as they all were, but he was far more curious about --
--He couldn't remember. Someone.
The Diagnostician and the exotic dancer spoke of money exchanged and her performance. And his tired stare. They spoke of nothing really. Then she brought his attention to the blood trickling from his scalp.
He wiped at short brown and salt hair and his fingers were red, then, too. Suddenly he had to say, "Someone's going to die." Not knowing exactly why he said it or why it was terribly important.
Seeing the peelers startled look and quick retreat, he was quick to assure her, "Not you."
House stood and the peeler backed off, giving him room to limp away. He limped badly she noticed, like a man who ought to have a cane or something. Limpy man with the bloody hair passed from the interior of the bar and from her mind.
"You're sure you saw House get on a bus?"
"For the tenth time, yes. He insisted on taking the bus."
"I didn't notice."
"Why would he insist on taking the bus home?"
"Honey, you'll have to ask him that." Amber, her straight blonde hair pulled back by a hair comb, kissed Wilsons' distracted, but attractive, cheek and left for her afternoon shift at Plainsborough Hospital. Saturday was Wilsons' day off.
But it was not Houses' and he had not showed up for work.
Wilson dialed Houses' apartment for the sixth time. No one had heard from House since Friday night. Amber had been the last to see him when he called for a ride home from the bar he had spent the afternoon in, drinking himself into a state unfit to operate a motorcycle. When Amber had showed to ferry him home, House had refused the ride and gotten on a city bus. That was the last anyone had seen him.
The ringer trilled until Houses' answering machine spoke in his ear. "You have reached your Gigolo. Leave your name and number and the details of the naughtiness you plan to do to me on the beep. Three, two, one - BEEEP!"
Twenty minutes later, Amber called. "Babe. Late last night there was a really bad bus accident. Nineteen people were injured and sent here. House isn't one of them but I just thought it was a weird coincidence that House said he was taking a bus-"
"-and then disappearing."
Wilson thanked her, slipped into his jacket, grabbed his keys and drove to the hospital.
"I need to interview the injured. The patients from the bus accident." Wilson explained to Doctor Cameron. Cuddy had recruited everyone, including Houses' fellowships Hadley, Taub and Kutner to help deal with the sudden influx of the injured.
"Why?" Cuddy was busy checking the blackened eye of a patient. "You can go. Keep some ice on that eye for a while. It'll help with the swelling." She dismissed the patient and turned to Wilson.
"House -- Amber said House took a bus home from the bar last night."
"Well, he isn't here. It had to have been a different bus, one that didn't roll over twice."
"Yes. But this bus was a number Six Crosstown, that's the bus House would probably have taken to get home."
"Home from where?"
"He was at a bar. Sherrie's bar. The number Six passes right in front of it."
"Then maybe he's asleep in his bed?"
"I called six times. Isn't he supposed to work today? Since when does House miss work for anything?"
Cuddy finally considered. "He spends hours devising ways of going home after he gets here but, no, he hasn't missed a day since I hired him."
"Maybe he was injured but sent elsewhere. Are the paramedics still here?"
"I don't know."
Wilson hunted them down in the cafeteria but they could remember no man matching Houses' description. "But there were four ambulances." One of them offered. "Maybe one of them treated him?"
Calls to the other hospitals in the greater area produced only one usable bit of information. "I remember one guy. About fifty in a leather jacket but he was just standing around looking at the wreckage."
"Did he have a cane?"
"No. I asked him if he was okay. He didn't answer."
"Did he look okay?"
"I wiped some blood off his hands. Assumed he was a passerby who was being a good Samaritan."
"But he looked okay otherwise?"
"I honestly don't remember."
An hour later, Plainsborough received a call from a neighborhood medical clinic. A man had been found wandering in a park with a bleeding head.
Cuddy put the phone down and called Wilson. "No ID," She relayed the details. "But he matches Houses' description."
Wilson recruited Foreman and Chase in the unusual rescue operation.
Back at Plainsborough House seemed disoriented and had suffered a gash on his scalp but at least he remembered their names and his own.
"You don't remember anything else? How you got out of the bus or walking a mile? I don't how the hell you managed that. And without a cane." Wilson inquired gently.
House was perched on an exam table while Cameron carefully stitched the gash in his head.
In answer to Wilson's question, House shook his head.
"Stop moving." Cameron said. "Unless you want your nose stitched to your eye socket. And stop picking at your ear. It's bleeding."
"I don't remember much. Just waking up in the park." House frowned, his eyes narrowing and darting around like he was seeing something not there. "Someone's dying."
Cameron and Wilson exchanged looks. "You're fine, House. But your ear - we're getting you an MRI to be sure."
"I mean I'm not dying. It's someone else."
Foreman exchanged looks with Wilson over the top of Houses' head. House caught it. "And you can stop rolling your eyes at the sick man. I'm not imagining it."
"Who's dying?" Wilson asked.
House stared at him, his eyes going from certain to confused. "I don't know."
Foreman took Houses' arm to assist him off the table. "Well, you can think about it in the MRI."
Cuddy examined the MRI scan and told House. "You've got a lateral fracture of the Parietal bone."
"I banged my head."
"This is more than a banged head." She argued. "That's why the blood, and the dizziness and the memory loss."
"Someone's dying." House said again. His voice was quiet but the tone of his certainty had not faded.
Wilson shook his head. House was always after a mystery, but that was when he was sure there was a patient. "Why do you need to solve this? You've got a stack of medical mysteries on your desk. Why is this one so important? Why suddenly Batman?"
House shook his head. Less certain due to blank hole he found at the center of what should have been a horrific experience in a bus crash. He remembered none of it. He remembered waking up in a strip club and walking through a park. "I don't know."
Cuddy said sternly. "You have a fractured skull and a concussed brain. Go home. Go to sleep."
For once he accepted that the wisest course was to obey.
A stranger entered his slumber and spoke to him in riddles. " I was on the bus. I'm the answer."
"No you weren't. You're an anomaly."
Brown hair over beautiful confident eyes, stared at him from their blue depths. "I'm the answer. Look inside yourself."
She began to bleed from the roots of her hair until she was coated in red, her golden color draining away until she was a grey, dead thing sitting across from him on the Number Six Crosstown. Street lights and shopping malls were passed by where oblivious people strolled purchasing things reserved only for the living.
House woke in a sweat and a pounding heart, the unpleasant images swiftly fading from his memory, their metallic taste washing away in the soft shadows of his bedroom.
House spotted Cuddy in Emergency admitting, speaking to some new interns, giving them the standard pep talk. He interrupted. "I need to talk to the people who were on the bus."
Cuddy threw her newbies a small smile and steered him away from the impressionable group. "What are you doing back here?"
House had stayed away from the hospital for under a day. "House. Those people have gone home. Only the bus driver is still here. He broke both his legs."
"Then I need to talk to him."
Cuddy knew House would do it behind her back if she said no. Cuddy called Cameron. "Can you spare a minute? Show doctor House to the bus drivers' room. Give him five minutes with the man then kick Doctor Houses' ass home where it belongs."
Cameron, knowing a little about Houses' obsessive nature, walked away, knowing he would follow. "Come on."
One floor up, House met the small Asian man he remembered as the driver from the crash less than two days previous. House quickly observed the casts and the mans' grimace. House decided to eliminate him as the possible dying mystery passenger. "Broke your legs huh?"
The fellow nodded, then he noticed the cane gripped tightly in Houses right hand. "You were on the bus."
House nodded impatiently. "Yeah. Any pain anywhere else? Dizziness? Weakness? Nausea? Vision problems?"
The guy shook his head.
"We did check for those." Cameron piped in.
House nodded to her, acknowledging that she was not an idiot.
"What's going on?"
House shook his head, trying to dispel confusion or shake loose a memory. "Someone's dying. Someone who was on the bus that night."
"House. You have a cracked skull. With your obsessive nature, you see mysteries and conspiracies everywhere." She noticed a red drip from his right ear and dabbed at it with a pocket tissue. "And you're bleeding again. You need to go home."
House walked away, scratching at his ear. He turned back. "Were any tall pretty brunettes admitted from the accident?"
"Check with Admitting. They should still have the files, and you should go home."
"No." He whispered, confusion blanketing his features. "Somebody's dying because I can't remember." House limped away in a hurry towards the Emergency admitting window.
A quick search of the paperwork produced no tall brunette females. One short one. Mother of two. Healthy as a horse. Sent home with a facial cut.
Cameron walked up behind House who was still standing by the nurses window staring at nothing with narrowed eyes, wanting to see what wasn't in the room. Wanting to remember details that had abandoned him. She took his arm. "Satisfied?"
He shook his head, gently pulling his arm free. "I'm not imagining this." He said to her face that was almost crumpled with concern. "Maybe she got off the bus before the crash? She's dying but not from the accident."
"Then you'll never find her. And if she got off the bus then she's probably fine."
"She's not fine." House walked away. "She wasn't fine in the dream."
Cameron called Wilson.
Wilson found House at his desk. House was thinking with his eyes closed. Or sleeping. Wilson hoped it was the latter.
But House opened his eyes when his door opened. "I'm not going home." He said before Wilson could spring the words first.
"Oka-a-y." Wilson did not sit in the chair. He stood before House like a stern dad. "But there is no woman."
"Yes there was."
"Why? Why do you believe there was a woman? Or anyone whom you think is dying?"
"She was in my dream."
"I see. She was in your dream, therefore she's real?"
"I don't care how this sounds. I saw something and I know someone on that bus is dying. Just because I can't recall the details doesn't mean I'm wrong."
"But amnesia does explain why you can't remember the details. You're not even sure she was on the bus. You dreamed her. After the accident."
"She said she was the answer."
Wilson walked over and put a hand to Houses forehead. "You have a fever."
"A mild one. It's not making me imagine things."
"But your broken skull might be." Wilson let out a great sigh. "Tell you what, I'll help you research your dream. We'll try and find this woman. For twenty-four hours. We'll check the obituaries - I hope she's in there because that would end this - we'll call these other people who were on the bus and ask them if they remember her. Will that satisfy you?"
House played with his bottom lip. Then he reluctantly gave Wilson a nod and heaved himself to his feet. He swayed a bit and Wilson leaped forward to lend him a supportive arm.
House recovered quickly. "I'm fine."
"Actually, you're not." Wilson lead the way. "Come on. Let's go find your mystery woman."
In his office, Wilson spoke into his personal phone. "Are you sure? Thank you." He hit End and disconnected the call to the last person on the list of names and numbers they were able to obtain from Admittance. He crossed off the last name with a pencil with a curved end and painted with red and white stripes.
In answer to Houses' questioning look at it, "Gift from a ten year old last Christmas. Can we focus on the problem at hand? I mean the real one? - that my friend is losing his mind."
His dig elicited no reaction from House. "Okay." Wilson relented. "The fruitless calls are done. No one remembers her. What's next?" House sat in his visitors chair rubbing his leg with his right hand and picking at his ear with his left. "And stop picking. You want it to get infected?"
House stopped his finger but his mind went on. "Something's missing."
"Your memory." Wilson gestured to his pale face. "Your blood pressure. A healthy skull." Wilson threw down his pencil and it rolled off onto the floor. "I can almost, just barely, conceive of risking your life by sticking a knife into an electrical socket to answer the question Is there an afterlife? Or take possibly diseased blood into your veins to eliminate a wrong diagnosis. And maybe, maybe I can understand a deliberate overdose to punish me.
"But to risk your life to try a find a woman you dreamed about?" Wilson shook his head at his best friend. After almost fifteen years of friendship, he was beginning to realize he didn't really understand House. Or even know him the way he thought he had. "That is the definition of a cracked skull. You're sick, House. Go home."
"I dreamed about her because she was there!" House stood and paced, angry. And tired of his word not being believed. "She is not a figment of my aching head or a hallucination. She was on the bus."
"Fine." Wilson sat back, resting his aching back against the lumbar correct desk chair. "Why do you believe she was sick? It can't be because you just looked at her. Even you're not that good. So what were her symptoms? Were there any symptoms? One symptom?"
House stopped and stared at Wilsons' pencil on the carpet. "She was hurt before she got on the bus." A memory stirred and took a misshapen outline. "She was already sick when she got on the bus."
"This woman you dreamed about after the accident." Wilson felt worn out.
House spun on him but had to grab the back of the chair to stop his dizzying momentum and falling down. "Yes. I know. I'm obsessing. I saw a woman I have never seen before in a dream about the accident who was hurt or sick. Who was - is - dying! If I'm wrong so what? If I'm right, it's worth looking into. Was I wrong the other time? With soldier boy?"
Wilson had to admit House had be right. But he had not had a cracked skull then, just a kinked urethra. "Suggestions?" Wilson ventured. He was fresh out.
House looked away.
Wilson stood. "Go home. Maybe you'll dream about her some more. Maybe you'll learn something more that will lead to a diagnosis. Or even a name and address might be good. That's your standard procedure, isn't it? Try to learn more? Wait for something to change?"
House finally conceded, mumbled thanks to his friend, and left.
Wilson watched him limp away down the hall. "See you tomorrow."
"How fah do you wownt thet ticket fowah?"
The heavy diphthong and yawning vowels of the far south invaded the aching drum chorus in his brain and settled down into their own particular choice corner of splitting agony.
"What?" He tried to see the brunette with blue eyes through the red shifted haze through which he saw the world. He could feel the blood rushing through his ears, adding its high pitched insect whine to the beat of his aching head. After a few hard blinks and shake of his delicately balanced and painful noggin, things became clearer - clear enough that he was able to respond.
A blonde woman sat staring at him with barely contained annoyance. "Um. Where am I right now?" He asked her. Was this a dream also? "How did I get here?" He was not on a bus. "Where are you?" House called to the tall brunette whom he could not see.
The older, platinum haired woman shifted her glasses in the telltale mannerism that said she was a busy woman and he her newest irritant. She snapped her cherry flavored gum. "A'm raht heyah. Look, Mistah, Ah got customers. You wownt thet ticket oah nawt?"
Tired blue eyes stared back then drifted to a sign on the wall above her head. Tallulah - Birth Place of the Indoor Shopping Mall.
"West." He said. Over her head was a small mirrored picture of a green and yellow field of corn into which he peered, staring at the stranger that was himself staring back, blank of face. Blank wasn't good. Blank was frightening.
He was a tall man with medium brown turning salt and pepper hair clipped to within two inches of his scalp. It was a bit mussed up. His eyes were as blue as the Mediterranean sea and appeared as confused as he felt. He was wearing jeans and a black tee-shirt with something about a pawn shop written on it. He looked down and saw sneakers on his feet. Over the tee-shirt was a tan colored long sleeve cotton shirt. He felt around in his jeans pockets and came up with no wallet or keys. He patted himself down. Nothing.
In his hand, gripped tightly, was an old mans' cane, curved wooden handle and all.
"Hey, mistah." She got his attention back, stamped the piece of paper in her hand and tucked away the money he had evidently handed her prior to looking at her for the first time. He took the ticket she held out to him. "You kin wait over they-ah."
Rows of hard chairs joined at the seat lined one window-less wall. Only two of the dozen were occupied.
This was his first time here he thought. Only time, he reasoned because he couldn't actually remember stepping up to her ticket window or where he got the money in his hand or how he got to the bus station he found himself in.
What day was it? What time was it? He was certain there was someplace he was suppose to be but he couldn't put a finger on where or, even if he knew the address, how to get there.
But west was good, wasn't it? West was away from her unhappy gaze and cherry denture breath. Away from the oppressive heat that was making little trails of sweat break out all over his body and trickle uncomfortably down his flesh.
His head hurt. West sounded like the thing to do.
He accepted the ticket with a large, rough hand he didn't recognize and said in a voice belonging to a man he did not know, "Thanks."
(Yes, that IS how this part ends)
Part II ASAP!