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"Carry On"; House/Wilson Churchverse fic

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Jul. 22nd, 2007 | 12:11 pm
posted by: simple__man in simple__stuff

Title: Carry On

Pairing: House/Wilson (established) Warning: kid!fic, OC, aftermath of character death

A/N: Part of the Churchverse, which can be found at simple__stuff; Part of the timestamp meme, hermuchlearning asked for something after Church's talk with Jimmy that ended here.

Church always feels closest to his father while driving.

This does not change just because his father has the sudden, undeniable urge to not be alive anymore. Shuffling off this mortal coil will not save him from Church's horrendous singing.

Thinking about House's pained winces ("What, are you in heat? Stop that caterwauling before I throw a shoe at your head.") only makes Church crank the music up, his voice ratcheting up a few notches along with the dial. It has long been said that what he lacks in talent, he makes up for in enthusiasm; the beleaguered neighbors will attest to it, having heard his drunken rendition of "The Stroke" at unheard-of hours of the night more times than they care to count.

A cigarette dangles from his long, spindly fingers, and he always takes a drag just before the chorus of whatever song he's belting out; the smoke erupting from his mouth, fog-like, as he sings seems otherworldly, dangerous. He bobs his head violently at all the right parts, the dark mess of curls bobbing right along in time.

The cigarette arcs away into darkness, and he pushes the ever-hated curls away from his eyes, muttering his usual litany, "Gotta get this crap off my head, need a haircut so bad, why did I let it get this long..."

He hasn't cut his hair since the day before House's funeral. If asked, he couldn't say why, although somewhere inside himself, he knows.

Knows that House would have laughed himself silly over those curls, grabbing a handful and yelling with child-like glee "BOING!"; pretending that his own, equally elegant fingers are not playing in his grown son's hair with that sudden, out-of-the-blue affection that sometimes shocked them both.

The radio hasn't left the classic rock station, either, and it won't as long as Church has any say in the matter. He's shocked to find that he knows the words to most of the songs, although he shouldn't be. House and music were never far apart, long before Church was even a hope of a thought of a glimmer in his father's eye.

Not that House always listened to classic rock, mind you, but that had been the only music they could agree on over the years; House's tastes ran to the eclectic and all-encompassing, while Church's were no less eclectic, but that much more loud. He hasn't yet heard a song on this station that doesn't touch off some memory of time spent together; family jokes, embarrassing conversations, awkward silences, philosophical disagreements, planned mischief/mayhem, unplanned mischief/mayhem, Jimmy baiting...

Taking a deep breath, he launches into the chorus of one his particular favorites. It must have been one of House's, too, because he can see in his mind's eye that familiar not-grin, the smile that shouldn't have been a smile but was just the same. He is vaguely aware that he is no longer even approaching singing, he is screaming into the night, into the steering wheel; there is no one to hear him who is not dead, dead, dead.

If he believes in an afterlife (he doesn't, but wishes he did), Church would want it to be a place where he didn't always have an internal conversation rattling around in his skull. He wants, desperately, to get so shit-faced drunk that his thoughts will quiet, even if just for a moment. This will likely never happen, even if he does manage to give himself alcohol-poisoning. House had once confided to him, during an emotionally-fraught pizza run, that even death hadn't managed to shut his brain up.

He's drunk enough, though, to want petting and comforting, and he wants desperately to crawl in bed with one or the other of his two favorite people, but he's grieving, and he can't do that with them around. Not properly, at any rate. He hasn't cried, and he's beginning to think he never will. Besides, he's not talking to Jer, and Jimmy's not talking to him, and maybe they're talking to each other, but who can tell, because no one's actually talking to him.

He drives until he is no longer exactly sure where he is, then takes his time trying to find his way back. Even dead drunk, his brain is still sharper than most people's, so he won't be lost for very long. This irritates him.

Church stops only long enough to buy more beer and cigarettes. He doesn't think his words are slurred, although the look the clerk gives him is distinctly unfriendly. He credits it to the shitty neighborhood, but the awkward stumble as he tries to light his cigarette (the click of the Zippo filling him with nostalgia for Grandpa House and their last days spent together) and walk at the same time has probably done nothing to improve her opinion of him or his drunken state.

"Shouldn't have sold it to me, y' chinless sway-backed bitch," he mutters, blushing at the meanness of it. He's never quite gotten the hang of not feeling bad for the awful shit that rolls out of his mouth at times, but his guilt is never enough to actually keep the words shut up inside him.

As for the guilt he feels for the hypothetical men, women, children, small animals who might possibly be killed in the destructive path of his grief, Church finds that it helps to dull the nagging sense of unfinished business that has plagued him since the death of his father.

"There is a gating mechanism for pain..." Jimmy's voice in his head, and he's almost pathetically happy. So much better than House's last words to him, set on continuous, infinite replay. But, as it has been since he first heard the news that his father had passed on from this plane of existence, House's ominous baritone drowns out the sound of everything else, pounding at his psyche like dark waves against unforgiving rock.

"Don't understand, how did he know? Did he know, or was it a coincidence? He knew things sometimes, remember my wreck, he saw it, dreamt about it...Jimmy's tumors, and his leg, he knew, but if he knew he was going to kick off...why didn't he tell me? Why wouldn't...was that his way of telling me, and I just didn't catch it...I don't..."

He doesn't know how long he's been driving, how many drinks he's had, how many songs he's brutalized, but he is no closer to an answer than he was when he first posed the question to himself, all those months ago. Hard to believe that House has been gone so long, harder to believe that he hasn't found some way to come back. He had always seemed capable of the most impossible things, it somehow seems unfair that cheating death would not be one of them.

Church finds a familiar street just as the sun begins to lighten the sky slightly; he's angry, now, he has class and work and a life to live, but he's lost another night to this nagging, insistent grief that chokes him, forces him from the warmth and comfort of his bed, refuses to answer him.

"Goddammit, I'm so tired. I'm tired of you, House, tired of hearing you in my head, but I don't want to sleep, don't want to shut you up, because I"m afraid, I'm so scared, you bastard, I know that one day I won't be able to hear you, one day your voice will fade, these memories will fade, and I'll have to search for the memories, grasp at them, and we'll go on with our lives, and it'll be like you were never here, until I hear a song that reminds me of you, or..."

He does not register the blue lights in his rearview mirror; his fingers are hovering, shaking, above the radio dial. Oh, how he hated this car when his parents first relinquished it to him, but...whatever memories have assaulted him about the car are lost in the swirl of emotion that swells threateningly in his stomach, goosebumps popping up on his skinny arms, cold sweat beading on his neck.

"No fucking way. Absolutely not, you utter shit, that's not even possible. Stop that, d'you hear, I won't believe it, I refuse..."

He fails his field sobriety test with utter abandon; his thoughts are too busy, too cluttered, to allow him to say his alphabet backwards or stand on one leg. He is under arrest, of course, and although this is not his first arrest--it's not even his first DWI--Church does something he's never done before, in all the times he's found himself in this same situation.

He sings.

Awfully, of course, because he might have inherited his father's long fingers, his blue blue eyes, his sharp tongue, his dark sense of humour, along with a thousand small, ridiculous things that no one else would even notice or care about, but the one thing he did not inherit was House's ability to actually carry a tune.

He's laughing as well, because he's not drunk enough to think that his father is actually speaking (or singing, as the case may be) to him from beyond the grave, but they'd joked together in that last phone conversation, and House had sung that damnable snatch of lyrics to him, in that funny way he did sometimes, as if trying to tell him something, and he--House--couldn't have known, and if he had, how could he--Church--have known, and it's so odd, it's so funny, it's such a coincidence, it makes him want to laugh and scream and cry...

"I'm crying," he tells the officer who is escorting him to his squad car. "I'm fucking crying." There is awe in his voice, and he wishes that he could touch the tears that are streaking his face, to be sure of their existence, but the handcuffs are quite unforgiving.

So is the officer, who gruffly tells him to watch his head, and Church ducks obediently into the backseat, shaky and exhausted. He's gotten somewhere tonight, even if it is just the Princeton drunk tank. He laughs, curls brushing his face, but he can only shake his head and hope they'll stop their infernal tickling.

The tears are back, and he is grateful, so profoundly grateful, he'll take whatever punishment is coming to him, but he's crying, and Jimmy will have to bail him out, Jimmy won't leave him to rot, Jimmy will come and he will bring his Jimmy-face and his Jimmy-voice and his Jimmy-self and there will be talking, he can do talking, he will make Jimmy talk to him because they're all they have left now and he has to do this, he has to carry on.

There is something quite House-like in this, something he rejoices and revels in; arrested and needing Jimmy's help, drunk and in trouble, unsure of his next move but sure that whatever move he makes will be the right one. He has direction, now, and maybe that's all he needed, just a push in the right direction. Even if it's quite impossible...

"I'm gonna sing," he announces to the officers, and despite their protests, proceeds to do just that. He's been sent a message, if not from Dad, then from the miserable depths of his own fucked-up mind, and he wants to share it with the world. Loudly. Off-key. And still somewhat drunkenly.

"Shut the fuck up!" he's told by the one in the passenger seat, his meaty fist pounding against the barrier with some agitation, but it can't dampen Church's enthusiasm. He's tired though, nearing total exhaustion, and almost against his will, lays his curly head (maybe Jimmy will take him to get a haircut, like old times) back against the seat, and closes his eyes, still whispering the words of the song, so comforting in their absurd rightness.

Church always feel closest to his father while driving, but this will do for now.

Carry on my wayward son, there'll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest, don't you cry no more.

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