Remember how jazzed I was about intoabar? And then my assignment came and I got even more excited? Well, here's the result: a meeting between two of my favorite TV characters ever, New Girl's Nick Miller and Pushing Daisies's Emerson Cod. These two have so much in common that it's hard to believe there's not more fic about them out there. Well, I had fun dreaming up one conversation they could have had, anyway. In terms of PD, I set it in some vague timeline after which Olive has started investigating with Emerson but his book has not yet been published; in terms of NG, it takes place just after the action of 2x02 ("Katie"). My thanks to musesfool, who betaed this despite not having seen New Girl and who assured me that she laughed anyway.
"Pepperwood's a Snappy Dresser"
Emerson Cod had no intention of being anyone's muse when he walked into the bar. Nor did he have any intention of being ignored when all he wanted was an old-fashioned, ice still snapping, on the bar in front of him by the time he sat down and dried off.
The cocktail failed to materialize, as did a bartender, though the place looked well-managed, the wood of the bar polished to a deep glow and the leather of the booths clean and whole. Emerson sank onto the barstool furthest from the damp rag crumpled on the counter; the stool wheezed and he sighed, exhausted from investigating the nefarious Clucklebenn twins, only to start and bleat in surprise when a young man popped up from behind the bar.
Emerson's keen investigative eye told him that the bartender was in his mid-thirties, that the stubble on his face was more a matter of a cursory-at-best grooming regimen than any desire to emulate the blank-eyed men in magazines, and, most importantly, that in his hand was the old-fashioned that Emerson had been desiring.
"On the house, man; it's a practice run," the bartender said, and Emerson wasted no time in doffing his fedora and pouring the cold drink down his throat.
"Practice for what?" Emerson thought to ask a moment later, wishing he had a slice of cherry crumble to enhance the smokiness of the whiskey.
"It's kind of a long story - I got an apology to make. To a girl I -" The bartender cut himself off, looking like he'd rather be on the other side of the conversational flow. Emerson nearly rolled his eyes - like he needed another big-eyed white boy with dippity-do in his hair asking questions he would've known the answers to if he'd had the sense of a billy-goat - but refrained, as the old-fashioned had been perfectly crafted. Emerson decided drinks that good were worth the risk of conversation and rose to remove his overcoat, still dotted with beads of water.
"Sir, I don't say this very often to other men, or really even to women, which is its own problem, but you are wearing the hell out of that shirt. Round two's on me."
It was good to know not all these whippersnappers were ignorant of the difference a fine silk shirt could make. "I make it a policy never to take a favor from a man I don't know."
The man had good instincts, taking that for an invitation instead of a rebuff, not to mention that he kept working. "Nick Miller," he said, pushing another old-fashioned Emerson's way.
"Emerson Cod." He savored the first long sip, grunting his approval.
Nick's face brightened, and Emerson revised his estimate of the kid's age. Barely thirty, but the boy had an old soul if he could make a drink like that. "That's a great name. Sounds like a PI or a renegade cop. Or a secret agent who spent the war posing as a dance instructor and seducing the lady spies," Nick said, slicing the remaining fruit and cleaning his workstation.
"You hit the nail on the head with the first of those swings," Emerson allowed, pulling the bowl of pistachios Nick had just set on the bar a little closer.
"Seriously? You're a pri-"
"Private eye. Don't nobody need to talk about my dick but me," Emerson interrupted; that theme song from Shaft had done a lot of damage to the biz.
"Hey, I've got a book I'm working on. My second book, actually," Nick said, but his eye twitched in that tell-tale way Emerson had observed on the Pie Maker.
"Mm-hmm," he said, doing a stellar impression of that grumpy coroner as he rattled the ice in his glass. The boy might have big dreams but he clearly hadn't written a word; neither book was more than a twinkle in his eye. "And the main character's a world-weary PI," he prompted as patiently as he could.
"Yeah, exactly, but there's a twist." Nick dropped the towel with which he'd been buffing the bar to a higher gloss to spread his hands dramatically. "All of his clients are dead."
The last ice cube, studded with sugar, caught in Emerson's throat and he choked a bit. "What -" he wheezed, irritably waving off Nick's clearly broadcast fears that he'd need the Heimlich; didn't that fool realize the ice would melt in his mouth quicker than it could get lodged somewhere bad?
"I know, I know," Nick said, slumping a little. "If they're dead, why do they need a PI?"
Emerson got himself together and managed a nonchalant shrug, relieved that Nick had not been fishing for an inkling of any zombie-touching investigative partner up Papen County way. "Why they dead? Do they know who killed them?"
"No, they're zombies," Nick said, getting all fired up again; the boy was like a rollercoaster. "The zombie in the first book - his name's Mike Jr. - falls in love with a normal girl named Carol, but she breaks his heart and she maybe dies. And also she lied about her age."
Emerson, taken aback by the level of detail Nick offered regarding his unwritten masterpiece, waited patiently for the stream to slow to a trickle. "So, is Junior in this book too?"
"Yeah! He'll be the PI's first client, and then word of mouth will get all the other zombies to Pepperwood's door. So what should Pepperwood know, to be the best PI on the mountain?"
"You got to understand," Emerson said expansively, leaning forward conspiratorially and pleased as punch when Nick came closer to hear his pearls of wisdom, "I've been investigating homicides in the big city, not why there's undead wandering around a mountain. So it ain't like my work's gonna translate exactly." He was well aware that he needed no one but himself to immortalize his storied career; if he could ever get it published, Li'l Gumshoe would sell like gangbusters. "But the principles still apply: your Pepperwood's gonna need some friends. A gal Friday is always a good idea," he said, thinking of Itty-Bitty, who had a real nose for clues, "but he should be able to go it alone, even when he don't want to."
"Yeah, I got you, man," Nick said. His brow was furrowed in thought, but there was a small smile on his face.
"Don't kill off all his friends. They're what's gonna get him through the whole zombie uprising. And there's always a zombie uprising." He stood and peeled a fifty from the concealed cash cozy strapped beneath his shoulder holster. He slapped the tip down and slid the fedora onto his head in a move he'd perfected over the years; Nick's eyes grew gratifyingly round as he took in the smooth motion, and Emerson smiled, willing to bet all the cash he was carrying that Pepperwood would be a snappy dresser as well as a damn genius. "Give Pepperwood the best of you," he counseled, tugging on his overcoat. "And your apology is gonna go great." With a way of mixing drinks like that, the kid couldn't fail.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think!
This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/425524.html.