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Bad Company

Aftershocks 22.2: Sacrifices

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Aftershocks 22.2: Sacrifices

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red barn
TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: No direction home.
CHARACTERS: House, Wilson, OFC
RATING:
R for language and themes (gen fic).
WARNINGS: Details the aftermath of events in Bad Company, a rough, violent story. Aftermath isn't always pretty; may distress some readers. Adult themes and adult language.
SPOILERS: No.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Never will.
NOTES: The pieces of this shattered story are numbered. The first number signifies the number of days that have elapsed since the original event in Bad Company; the second number signifies when the fic occurs during that day.
 

Sacrifices


It wasn't that he was trying to be mean. All he'd done was ask (all right, maybe in a tone he shouldn't have used, but there's such a delicious sense of turnabout in all of this) whether Jimmy had done his PT today.

Lemme alone, House. You've had enough practice at that.

He should turn to the right, toward the track, just like Wilson said.

Go play with your new friends. 'M sure they miss you.

Of course they don't, and he damn sure doesn't miss them, but he should go anyway just because Wilson said so. That'd teach him, wouldn't it? Yeah. Because that lesson went so well the first time, right? 

He turns left instead, westward, out of town. The sun is down behind the trees, its glare giving way to a velvety light that shades the grass and sky with a soft, hazy gold. It should be beautiful; it is beautiful in fact. House glances downward and notes that the orange sides of his bike seem to glow from within. 

The Honda whines like an enormous, angry, fiery wasp as he opens up the throttle. 

It's not enough. The powerful engine, the hollow rush of air over his helmet, the constantly shifting feel of the asphalt beneath the tires—not enough this time.  He doesn't even know where the hell he's going. Certainly not to the hospital (that, too, would've been the right turn he'd chosen not to take). There's no point going to a bar. Even if he wanted to drink—and he doesn't, right now—he'd then be unable to get himself home. He'd have to call a cab, and that would mean Wilson would know what he'd done, and—no. It's not that it matters if Wilson knows that he gets drunk now and then. It's just that if Wilson picks at him tonight, and House is drunk, there's no telling what House will say to him.

It might sound something like fuck you. And that was exactly why House left the scene, left Wilson there to stew through the evening on his own. 

There are green hills all around House now, hills dotted with big round bales of hay. He can smell mown grass and the occasional, somewhat less pleasant scent of livestock. He rounds a curve, leaning into the force of the turn, and sees an old red barn set back from the road. 

Fighting a wave of dizziness, he twists the throttle back, slows to a crawl and pulls into the nearest disused driveway. The gravel's packed tight with clay and weeds; it holds the bike easily, provides a good surface for the kickstand. It's an entry to a pasture, that's all. House pulls off his helmet and stumps over to the fence, still feeling as if the ground isn't quite as solid as he'd like. He leans on the old gate, listening to the rusted hinges creak. A dark horse is watching him from halfway across the field, its head held high, ears pricked. 

House doesn't see any cows. 

There's a mourning dove calling from the power lines across the road. Somewhere else, not as close, an owl hoos softly in response. 

This what you wanted? 'M just like you now. Wilson's words sink ever more deeply into House's mind, down his throat, into his stomach. 

No, it wasn't what he wanted. And if he's very, very lucky, Wilson was lying and he'll never be like House. It's too hard a thing even to think of, Wilson all shot through with House's anger, his bitterness. What House wanted—and this is pretty damn sad—was his friend. Not a warden, or a hopeless lying martyr. Most certainly House hadn't wanted a therapist or a parent or any of the other crappy things Wilson had tried to be, screwing up House's whole life in the process. What House had wanted was for Wilson to stop all that and just—stop it.  

A gentle sound makes House look up. He hadn't noticed the approaching horse, which is now just a yard away and stretching out its nose, cautiously puffing and sniffing the air around him. It has a long forelock, and deep brown eyes that look black in the gathering dusk. It's tall and sleek, a Thoroughbred perhaps. House thinks of chasing it off, but he's curious now. The horse, a dark bay gelding, lazily shakes its head as it steps forward.

It delivers a swift, hard bite to House's forearm and then wheels merrily, squeals and runs. 

"SHIT!"

He's startled and his arm hurts like hell, but House understands. The damn horse wants to play with him. Tag, you're It. 

"Sorry, Wildfire. Can't keep up. You'll have to pick a non-cripple next time." So much for the peaceful countryside.





He can't even remember how he got so far out of civilization, but getting back is easy enough: point the bike eastward and go. Sooner or later he'll find one of the familiar north/south roads that'll take him home.

That thought isn't as pleasant as it once was.

Home means the sound of that blender, the endless yakking of the television, and Wilson's hollow silence underneath the noise. Home used to be his refuge, and now it's like being stretched out on an altar, waiting for his best friend to go all ancient-Aztec and cut out his heart.

Five minutes away, he spots Mama Leoni's and realizes that he's hungry. He's hungry, dammit, and Wilson will just have to deal with his limitations. If House can't get anything else that he wants, he can get this.





"Give me that," she snaps at him, her clean, blunt-nailed fingers snatching the folded paper out of his hand. She flips it open and squints down at the recipe and then up again at him, like she's comparing his face to a photo on a wanted poster. "No," she says. "No, I can't make this for you, Biker Boy. I don't cook swill." She scowls and wrinkles her nose, wads up the paper and tosses it into the nearest trash bin. "You even read it? That idiot said to use Campbell's tomato soup. And paprika, for God's sake. What's wrong with people? Hm?"

"Don't ask me," House retorts, "unless you have all night." 

"So, what? A Biker Boy Special and ... how much soup?  A quart?"

"Yeah. That'd work."

"Good, then. I'll send Toby over in an hour." She starts on a beeline for the kitchen, but he calls out to stop her.

"How much?"

"Fifteen for the pie. You stiff Toby his tip again, I swear I'm putting anchovies on your next one." She'll do it, too. Toby's a twerp, but you don't mess with Mama Leoni, and he's probably her nephew or something.

"And the soup?"

"Is a mystery," she says, "'cause you don't eat soup. Who's it for? Somebody get sick?"

"Guy with wires in his jaw. My friend." Short brunettes, House thinks, are entirely too perceptive. Especially if they're Sicilian. 

"That soup'll be too thick for him. Unless he's lost a tooth or two?"

House winces and nods. How is she so familiar with the problems of broken jaws? He decides he doesn't want that information. He'd rather continue to know her as Pizza Lady, and let her call him Biker Boy, and leave it at that. When he looks again she's standing with her hands on her hips, dark brown eyes assessing him from head to toe.

"Get out of here," she commands, "and you let me worry about the soup." 





Wilson has hardly said a word since House got back. That isn't very surprising, considering that for all Wilson knows, House did go to the track. Spite is an ugly thing, and they both know House isn't above it. 

He may not have gone to the track, but he doesn't have to tell Wilson that. If Wilson thinks House is that stupid, that unable to learn, it's his own damn fault. 

Toby shows up with the pizza and the soup, and Wilson doesn't even turn around to see what's happening. He's either sulking or he's half asleep. Too bad, because the delivery kid is always amusing. He wears a dress shirt and tie on his pizza rounds, and manages to get tomato sauce on himself every time. Moron.

"Put that in the kitchen," House tells him, and Toby eagerly does. You'd never know he'd been stiffed last time. That kind of cheerfulness is not rational; it has to be a sign of mental deficiency. When he returns, House shoves a ten dollar bill at him. "Tell the Pizza Lady to call off the hounds," he says.

"Sure thing!" chimes Toby, as House practically shoves him out the door.

When House looks back into the living room, he sees Wilson glaring at him, clearly pissed off at the unfairness of life. There's Leoni's pizza on hand and all poor Jimmy has had is yet another nutritious smoothie. The hell with him. He can bitch about unfairness on the day he wakes up and realizes that he'll always, forever, as long as he lives, be in pain.

House has an offering that will probably please him, but the God of the Guilty Conscience can just damn well wait.
 
 
  • Loved this chapter. And the previous one, too. I am very, very, very glad that we fans have many more chapters coming.

    This isn't your ordinary hurt/comfort story--it's hard to tell which of them is suffering more. Looking forward to the day when they'll finally manage to work something out (because each of them obviously has a lot to get off his chest).

    This part is brilliant, by the way:

    What House wanted -- and this is pretty damn sad -- was his friend. Not a warden, or a hopeless lying martyr. Most certainly House hadn't wanted a therapist or a parent or any of the other crappy things Wilson had tried to be, screwing up House's whole life in the process. What House had wanted was for Wilson to stop all that and just -- stop it.
    • Yes I thought that was an interesting too. On one level it makes sense for House to see the relationship only in terms of how Wilson's actions have affected him. I can also see how much he loves and needs his friedn Wilson. But when is House going to take responsibility. Really, when are they both going to take responsibility?
  • OMG!!! How could you? How could you do this? Today is Friday and I'm going to have to read this over and over again. And even though the imagery is heavenly perfection and the voices pitch perfect, it hurts. My poor baby Wilson is fuming and my poor baby House is hurt. Wilson can't yell and shout at House because his jaw is wired. And House he's feeling guilty and so scared of losing the only person that has ever mattered to him.

    When's the psychiatrist coming?

    By the way, I have a HL/RSL picture in the October issue of Seventeen (Hoocheteen) Magazine. I posting it but I'm not good with images. If anyone would like to post it, email me at gametheory@sbcglobal.net

    I'll delete this message at 12midnight and repost w/o my email address.
  • I caught myself giving a little gasp when House noticed the barn. Chilling. The descriptions are amazing.

    I also like how we're continually introduced to original characters for short amounts of time, but we get a good image and idea of who these people are. It really enriches an already wonderful story for me.
  • Greetings!

    Ok... I know it does absolutely no good to ask this, but I'm going to ask anyway, b/c I've just got this really bad feeling w/putting icon and direction of travel together - House isn't going to find the barn, is he?

    I want to know and I don't want to know... ya know? :-/

    *shivers and goes back to chat, postponing the inevitable for just a little longer*
    -Katrina
    • You saw what happened. He got bitten by a horse and decided to go home.

      House has absolutely no desire to do something as pointless as finding that particular barn.

      :-)
      • Greetings!

        Which is all the more reason the Universe might well lead him there without his conscious knowledge. Besides... it's really better for all concerned, I suspect, if he has his hoo elsewhere. Just as well there as anywhere else, and possibly better, as it would force him to deal beyond his capacity for ducking, which, as we all know, is quite impressive.

        Wilson can't save him this time, if indeed he ever could, and there isn't really anyone else, except perhaps for Cuddy, and I'm not sure House would be willing to turn to her. She's female and she doesn't know what happened - the true extent of his guilt. For both these reasons, I'm fairly certain he wouldn't go there.

        One of two things would happen. Either he gets through a major sticking point and comes back far better able to help himself and Wilson get through this... or he never comes back at all. I'm not so sure I see a third option. Everyone has their breaking point, after all, and guilt and grief have a nasty habit of pushing folk to theirs and beyond.

        Btw, thank'ee's for replying, Blackmare. It was comforting, in an odd way, and much appreciated. :-)

        (Monday's only a day away now - and then there shall be more story! :-D)

        -Katrina
  • Greetings!

    And the ambiguity remains even afterward. *is somehow relieved* Tho' I still suspect... just b/c there were no cows there that evening, doesn't mean they don't exist. There is this pasture we pass on I-94 every time we head West, and I swear every time we go past it, the composition of the herd is a little different. Horses, cows, even the occasional donkey. *shrug* Day, date, and time.

    I love the horse trying to play tag. And House's understanding, even through the pain.

    Like others, I say this paragraph rules!
    "What House wanted -- and this is pretty damn sad -- was his friend. Not a warden, or a hopeless lying martyr. Most certainly House hadn't wanted a therapist or a parent or any of the other crappy things Wilson had tried to be, screwing up House's whole life in the process. What House had wanted was for Wilson to stop all that and just -- stop it."

    Although I would argue about the first part of that paragraph.
    "And if he's very, very lucky, Wilson was lying and he'll never be like House. It's too hard a thing even to think of, Wilson all shot through with House's anger, his bitterness."
    The problem is... he already was like House, but unknowing of the fact, or at least unwilling to face its truth. What this current hell offers, if he is but willing to seize, or at least acknowledge, the opportunity, is a chance to escape the ever-decreasing sphere that is threatening to crush him into something considerably less than a diamond if he doesn't do something soon.

    "Home used to be his refuge, and now it's like being stretched out on an altar, waiting for his best friend to go all ancient-Aztec and cut out his heart."
    Powerful stuff.

    Love the long-time feuding bet. Biker Boy and Pizza Lady. Can SO see it! That would be the kind of rel. that House has w/the non-medical folk in his life. It's the one he has w/the medical folk in his life after all... tho' in its own odd way, perhaps w/a bit more perception that occurs at PPTH, speaking of sad, but true.

    I'd managed to space the fact that it was Friday, and thus the long wait until Monday, until reminded by one of the other comments.

    *sigh*

    *settles in to wait*

    -Katrina

    • A very meaty, painful and enjoyable chapter. House wanting his friend back -- leaving the room before he said something awful but still freely admitting that he's not above spite -- considering, even for a moment, going to the track to teach them both a lesson -- the horse playing with him and suddenly causing him pain, sort of a neat metaphor for what happened to Wilson -- the glimpse into House's "relationship" with the Pizza Lady and Delivery Boy -- and in the end, doing right by Wilson but not giving him an easy time of it. Love the complexity you're maintaining for everyone, refusing to let anyone be all good or all bad, all martyr or all guilty party.
  • I can't really express properly how much I am loving this story, but I really am.
    It's a story that doesn't take the easy way out, and for that only it's great.
    It's riveting, and each chapter enfolds something new and powerful.
    Thanks for writing it.

    You probably don't want to tell, but just in case, I thought I'd ask: do you know how long is it going to be? I mean, are we at 30%, 50% of the total story? just to have an idea.
    I'm asking because I absolutely love this story and I don't want it to end, but at the same time long stories make me anxious... having a deadline would help me. But of course feel free not to tell me if you think it's not good for the story!
    :)
    • You know ... you may just have to live with the anxiety.

      It's not that we're trying to be evil (well, okay, yeah, but not in that particular way). It's just that we keep writing more of this as we go. These last two chapters? Didn't exist a week ago. They presented themselves to us on the fly, as have almost half of the things we've posted so far.

      Had we only stuck with the original sixty pieces we had when we started posting, we'd be almost done by now. As it is ... we're along for the ride almost as much as you are.
    • that makes me happy, because there is so much more to explore here... like.. it's beautiful the way you have set it up!

      I love this story! Keep up the great work!
    • I hope the boys keep talking to you because I lam as addicted to this ficverse as I am to TV H/W.
  • I keep thinking about Martin's poison, and how it's the virulent, slow toxin of blame. It was one thing, I think, for House to be crippled by a random event of biology and quite another for Wilson to be crippled as a result of House's actions. That blame, and the guilt and anger are doing all kinds of interesting, sorrowful things to their reactions and their relationship.

    The whole section of House on his motorcycle is marvelous. I just love the vivid description of his flight to nowhere.
  • I get the feeling House and Wilson must have had some good times bonding over Leoni's pizza in the past, when they could just enjoy each other's company and House's place was a refuge from the cruel world for *both* of them.

    I don't know if I should be relieved or unsettled at House returning to bastard!form. On the one hand, normality should be a good thing, but... bastard!House is what got them into this predicament. Still, House has many levels of bastard in him so maybe it will be okay. *clings to shreds of hope*

    At least they *are* still together, as in the old days, and there is still Mama Leoni's cooking!
  • (Anonymous)
    I love the last two chapters. I think it is a good thing Wilson is finally getting it all out and I really loved this chapter as well. This is my favorite line "...like being stretched out on an altar, waiting for his best friend to go all ancient-Aztec and cut out his heart."
  • Loved the description of the countryside as House is riding out of town and the fact that it's not enough for House; that he can't let himself off the hook and run away from all those icky emotions waiting for him back home. Sure he's being a bit a of a prick but he brought the soup and he came back.
  • I have to wonder whether Mama Leoni is connected with the Mafia... Random thought :D
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