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Sink or Swim (I'm Diving In); a new Churchverse fic

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Mar. 2nd, 2008 | 05:48 pm
location: Sick in bed *bleck*
mood: accomplished
music: Rooster; Alice in Chains
posted by: simple__man in simple__stuff

Title: Sink or Swim (I'm Diving In)
Author: simple__man
Pairing: House/Wilson established
Word Count: 2827
Warnings: 1st person/OC POV; kid!fic; mild cursing

Summary: Church talks about Jer, House, and Jimmy in the aftermath of House's death, and comes up with a typically Houseian plan to get his Jimmy back.

A/N: Part of the Church-verse, a guide to which can be found at my journal. In particular, this is a companion piece to Sink or Swim, and chronologically follows Carry On.



Nothing good ever comes of my having to wash the dishes.

I know, I know. You've heard it before, but it bears repeating.

You'd think that fifteen years (give or take, my memory just isn't what it used to be) would make some kind of difference, but alas, it is not to be. Every conversation that I don't want to have, every single piece of bad news that I would rather not hear, every "Church, I'm leaving" or "Your father's dead" or "He was sick for a while, but he made me promise not to tell you" talk, they all occur over a steaming sink full of soapy dishes.

No, actually, what you'd think is that we'd finally have a dishwasher. I mean, I'm twenty-eight years old, I've got a couple degrees, my dad just kicked over and left me a shitload of money he neglected to tell me he was saving for me...I can buy quite a few dishwashers if I want to, and I'm not talking Maytag or Kenmore. I'm thinking barely legal, barely dressed, and barely habla inglesing.

The asshole would have loved it. So would Jimmy, although he might fuss and look pained, all the while blushing and pretending that he's staring at their firm, jailbait asses.

As I was saying, before our lamentable side trip, it doesn't matter that I'm a grown man, nor does it matter that I want a dishwasher, nor does it matter that I've told everyone in my life that I would prefer not to be told bad news over the sink.

Still they come sidling up to me, with sidelong glances and pretending like they're helping, and then it's all 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!', and y'know what the worst part is? When they're done, and I'm all broken and bloodied (but unbowed), the only thing they leave me with is the damned dishes.

I actually am going somewhere with this, quit looking at me like that.

We had lasagna the night my dad died. I remember because I was raising hell with the "flavor of the week", as Jimmy so eloquently puts it. His name is...never mind, it doesn't matter now. At the advanced age of twenty-two, he's yet to figure out that you might want to put foil in the bottom of the baking dish. Where's the home-training, I ask you?

So there was scrubbing, and fussing, and more scrubbing, and cursing, yet more scrubbing and then the phone rang. My hands were hot and soapy, my sleeves were soaked, I was pissy from wrestling with recalcitrant lasagna remains, stupid limp curls straggling into my eyes, and my sort-of boyfriend handed me the phone and all of it just...fell away.

I couldn't hear anything, I couldn't see, my much-vaunted powers of speech deserted me, and it was all I could do not to punch the nearest person in his head. I think I hung up on Jimmy. I don't remember.

When I finally came back to my senses some time later--water cold, dishes still greasy--there's this guy that I sleep with who might as well be a stranger patting my back hesitantly, trying to talk me down.

Hell, I didn't even realize he was there. And I was trying to make plans, I wanted to be at home, I needed to see Jimmy right away, but even though I'd lived with this guy for months, he wasn't offering to drive me, he wasn't sure he could make the funeral, he had class and work and whatever.

And I called Jer, the ex, the guy who I hadn't spoken to in months, who should have been the last person on earth that I would call, who I'd treated like the absolute lowest piece of crawling filth, who also had class and work and whatever, and he immediately answered my call, just like I knew he would. He always does.

He was there before I was even halfway through packing; first he was helping me pack, then he sat me down and packed for me and carried my bag out to the car, even though I'm sure all he wanted to do was sleep or, barring that, beat the crap out of the sorry fuck who couldn't even be bothered to call in sick when his boyfriend's dad dies.

He was wearing those ugly plaid flannel pajama bottoms I gave him four years ago, a hoodie that's about two breaths away from rotting off his body, and those damn Birkenstocks I tried to give away to Goodwill when I left the last time. God in heaven only knows how he got them back. Witchcraft, maybe. So he'd basically fallen out of bed and come running as soon as I called. Not a thought, no excuses, no "Fuck off and die"; I say please, and he's there.

Not much in the world that can be counted on, but that man never fails to answer a phone call in the middle of the night. It'd probably be better for him if he did, but what can you do? I need, and he needs me to need him. So he picks me up, and he helps me pack, and he drives me to my parents' and he's there for me through the funeral, and there's something...I don't know, it's all very "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" of me.

Of course we're getting back together, it's about as inevitable as bad news and dirty dishes, isn't it?

Don't look at me like that. You've never taken someone back after they've broken your fragile heart, cut it out and sent it to you in a box, stole it from you and buried it, then dug it up, doused it in gasoline, set it on fire and danced in the ashes?

What did he do? Have you been paying attention all these years, or do you just doodle in the margins to make it look like you're doing actual work? I'm talking about me, and my regrettable tendency to pick up the very worst habits of all of my parents.

Yes, I fucked him over, on more than one occasion. Yes, I'll probably fuck him over again, most likely in the very near future. Yes, I realize that it's bad and wrong and he deserves better and he'll eventually figure that out and leave me for someone a little more decent and loving and trustworthy.

Can we talk about my dead father now?

I didn't know he was dying. I knew he wasn't feeling well, but House in general never felt particularly spiffy. All those years of Vicodin and alcohol? All the problems with his leg? All the other crap he put into his body that we didn't know about or pretended not to know about? Not to mention the fact that emotional things that he didn't deal with often showed up as physical symptoms. Oh, he was a piece of work, my father was. A masterpiece, there's no denying it, but something was always a little off in the composition.

Jimmy knew, for months and months, that House was likely to shuffle off the old mortal coil, but did he say a word to me about it? No, he did not. Not a hint, not an intimation, not so much as a "Y'know, Church, that father of yours sure isn't feeling like himself these days." Nothing. Not a goddamned thing did he even whisper to me about it, even though I talk to him every single fucking day, excepting Tuesdays and Thursdays, because Tuesdays are meeting days and are therefore extremely, woefully busy and Thursdays are Thursdays and therefore sacrosanct.

To be honest, I don't know if I'll ever forgive him for it.

I know, I know, House made him promise not to tell me, and House was his best friend, his lover, his husband, his world, his life, his everything, and it makes sense that his first loyalty was and is to House. But why couldn't he...what about me? I feel like chopped liver over here, y'know. I don't rate a scribbled note, a hasty email, a telegram, perhaps a signal flare?

No, not me, I'm always the afterthought, aren't I?

You don't think so? Well, that's another topic for another session, I suppose. Make a note of it, would you? I'll prepare some opening comments, bring in evidence, maybe some witnesses for the prosecution...I'm rambling. I'll stop now. Back to the topic of the day.

Sink talks. I hate them, I'm sure I've mentioned that before.

I suppose you already know about my little brush with the law? I know Jimmy was in here a few days ago, I'm sure it made its way into conversation. It sounds awfully self-centered of me, but you didn't seem surprised when I brought it up. Not that I'm not self-centered, mind you.

Oh, don't worry, it wasn't so much "I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy" as it was "When I drink alone, I prefer to be myself." Which is, of course, not all that unusual for me. What is unusual is that Jimmy and I haven't exactly been communicating at full capacity since the old bastard died, and I haven't had the first notion as to how to remedy the situation.

After he bailed me out (with Jer in tow), we argued. Actually, that's a bit of an under-exaggeration. We raised hell is what we did, and then we hugged and laughed and then we raised a little bit more hell, but he never would talk about House or his death.

And so, when he finally decides to end his months-long silence, am I surprised that it occurs over a pile of dirty dishes? No, not so much. It all comes back to that whole Theory of Inevitability I've got going on. And what does he say, but that he knew all along, and it's like ripping my lungs and my spleen and my pancreas out and forcing me to eat them raw, because I never never never thought that Jimmy would lie to me. Not about that.

Lying about the Tooth Fairy or what happened to Mr. Whiskers, lying about not being disappointed in my life choices, lying about never wanting another child, lying about how much he likes my newest boyfriend whose name he never bothers to learn...lying to protect me, these are Jimmy lies. These are the lies that I've come to expect. Not this, not a betrayal. Not choosing to protect House's wishes, knowing that it would hurt me. Knowing, and then not having the damned decency to keep it to himself. Knowing that I'd have to live with it.

God, it makes me sick to think of it. I've cried more in the past months than I have in my entire life, you know, and I don't know whose loss I mourn the most. It's pathetic, the state we've let our relationship get into, and yet I can't see my way clear to repairing it.

I won't lie to you. He broke my heart, my Jimmy did, and I don't know if things will ever be the same between us.

I suppose that's inevitable, too, the change in our relationship. Because things are different now, so much more than I could ever have thought possible. Who knew how much we relied on House? Not me. I would have said that he leaned on Jimmy, but I see now that they were always propping each other up. And me. And me. And me.

What can I say? I don't know what to do, I don't know what to say, I don't know where to go. Everything I've ever done in life has been connected to these two people, whether to spite them or show them or get their attention or make them proud or make them worry, and it doesn't work now, with just one, and I don't know why. My life is broken, and I can't fix it, and the one person who I trust above all others to fix everything ever just...can't.

Of course I know it's unhealthy, and I'll even go so far as to say that it's insane, but dammit, can't you see, it's us? It's always been this way, and now it isn't, and I can't handle it.

Don't you think I know it's selfish? Don't you think I know it's the height of arrogance, that the continued happy state of my existence should somehow trump my mother's grief over my father's death? Aren't I guilty enough for you? What do you want from me, blood?

Is that what I want from myself? What kind of fucked-up question is that?

No, I suppose you've got a point. I'd give him House if I could, I'd trade my life for House's if I could, but I can't, and it's killing me. And I know Jimmy needs to grieve, but his grief is so massive, so all-encompassing, so insurmountable...I'm losing him. I'm about to lose them both, and if that happens, I won't survive it. I don't want to survive it.

So what do I do? How can I repair what might not be repairable? This isn't my job, I've never had to do this, there's always been Jimmy to do it for me. And now...now I have to be Jimmy? Can I do that? Am I capable of doing that?

Most importantly, what happens if I don't? What happens if I just let it go on as it has, with nothing changing and nothing ever being right between us again. Can I live with that?

No, of course not. Absolutely, emphatically, without a doubt, no. But I've learned from the best, haven't I? I've got all the tools I need, they gave them to me. House stubbornness, Cuddy ingenuity, and Wilson...love. No other way to put it, and the only way to get his love back is to remind him how it's done. Show him all the lessons on love that he's shown me. Let him know what I learned at his knee.

I love him, maybe more than he loves himself right now, but I can love him enough for House and me and himself and the rest of the whole damned world if I have to. He's not leaving me, he's not getting out of this that easily. I let House go, I let him escape, but Jimmy's stuck with me. I know what I have to do now. I have a plan.

I'm coming home, and I'm staying. Fuck school, fuck everything. I'll quit my job, I'll get arrested, I'll drink myself brain-dead and stupid, I'll gamble away my unwanted-inheritance, I'll put chemicals in my body with unpronounceable names, I'll pass out on the concrete and sleep outside in the rain, I'll steal his silver, I'll throw rocks at stray cats, I won't take a bath or shave or cut my hair, hell, I'll get knocked up if that's what it takes.

Don't laugh at me, I'm completely serious. Whatever it takes, because he'll have to stop me from self-destructing, he'll have to take care of me, he won't have a choice...I'll give him something to live for, even if it kills me.

And one day, when he's gotten my hair into some semblance of order, and he's fattened me up as much as he likes, and he's browbeaten me back to class, and he's begged and pleaded and howled at Cuddy until she's made up a completely unnecessary position for me at the hospital, and he's supplied me with a litter of ugly-but-lovable kittens, and he's moved Jer in and he's forced us to get married at gunpoint, and he's pointedly leaving adoption agency pamphlets strewn about the house and he's almost approaching something that might be called happy...

Then we're gonna have a talk. A sink talk, I'm sure, because that's always where the action happens. I'll be washing dishes, and he'll sidle up to me, and I'll lay my head on his shoulder, and he'll dry the dishes for me, and maybe we won't even have to talk, maybe he'll just know like he does sometimes, maybe he'll have known all along, and...

I don't know, maybe something good will come out of my having to do the dishes after all.

Well, that's us, I suppose. The timer, I mean. It's been awhile, but it wasn't that bad, was it? You're actually kind of helpful when you don't open your mouth. Don't worry, I'll be around a lot more now, so I'll be able to see you more often.

Now, don't look at me like that, I can see right through you. I know we're still your favorites.

Oh. Well. Yes...thank you. He really...he really was a good man. I...I'm sorry for his loss, too.

(more than you'll ever know)

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