SUMMARY: It is twenty-three minutes after nine.
CHARACTERS: House, OFC
RATING: R for language and themes.
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.
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.
A Damn Expensive Danish
It is twenty-three minutes after nine. For once in his life, House is early.
Adele turns out to be pretty and young. He wouldn't have thought it, with a name like that.
Her big green eyes widen a little as he drops the old military-issue backpack beside the bakery's cash register. Doubtless she's been expecting him, in the sense that she's been expecting someone with an important delivery. Whatever image she had in her head, he obviously doesn't match it.
He doesn't care. There's an obscene amount of money in that pack, carefully counted and carelessly thrown inside. It ought to hurt like hell to part with so much cash; maybe it does hurt, in fact. It's hard to tell when the rest of him hurts so bad already.
"Doctor House?" Her voice is quiet, her delicate fingers tucking a strand of light brown hair back behind her ear.
"Yeah." He leans on the counter, feeling as if he might simply collapse otherwise. He knows he looks less like a doctor than like a junkie convict out on parole—yet she doesn't back away from him.
She nods, and then gives him a steady look that conveys that she needs him to wait there for a moment. Swiftly she walks into the back of the bakery, the frayed old sack clutched in her fragile, pale hand.
When she returns, the money is gone. In its place she carries a little white pastry bag. She gives him that, and he stands in silence, feeling the heat seeping through the paper, warming his fingers. What the hell, he wonders, is this all about?
"I think," she says softly, "you already paid for it."
Oh, he's paid for it, but he doesn't need it and he doesn't need her pity. He tries to stare her down, to frighten her, but she doesn't move. He'd shove the little gift back in her face, or smash it on the floor with his foot and his cane, if he weren't too tired and too hungry to do either one. Whatever's in the bag, it smells good. He lets his shoulders drop and rests against the counter, taking the weight off his aching right side.
"What's one more dollar?" he mutters, jamming his hand into his pocket and pulling out a withered bill. "Gimme some coffee, too."