By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: I happen to own the DVD set quoted from, that being it. If that wasn't all, this premise wouldn't even be necessary.

Summary: His mother laughed now, bitter and sarcastic. Her skin was translucent, her eyes bloodshot. "My God, you'd think we'd've pulled our heads out of our asses long before now -- when it would have helped you."

Notes: Considering I took the disturbing teasers and ran with them, this might be considered AU. Sequel to Bottleneck. Reviews are always encouraged and appreciated.

You can't just dig into me, shove twenty needles in my eyes and ask me what I see! - River Tam; 'Safe', Firefly

He never thought he'd walk out on his mother. He never thought she'd give him reason to. She didn't care if he hated his father -- still, not had -- what she wanted of him was more important than that. It didn't matter that his fingers trembled and he kept them shoved in his pockets so as not to alarm anyone.

It didn't matter that his words hadn't come out the way he'd -- no, she'd needed them to. He has no idea what he actually said (aphasia is a bitch, unconditionally), but the looks on the assorted mourners faces told him it probably wasn't what he'd meant. All he can say is that he hopes he didn't swear. He can't hope for much else.

She'd tried to catch his arm when it was over and they'd been directed to the cemetery for the military-regulated burial, but he'd dodged unsteadily and continued to the other side of the lobby.

He'd leaned against the glass wall of the vestibule to catch his breath but doesn't remember anything after that.

Never thought I'd walk away from you (I did), but it's a false sense of accomplishment...

When his eyes opened, it took him a moment to realize that the familiar sight of washed out walls and antiseptic smell wasn't from work. He's lying on his back in a hospital bed, but it's not a familiar place and the activity bustling around him were bodies and faces he doesn't recognize.

"The doctor says you've had several seizures," his mother's quiet voice (an emotion he can't recognize filters through her words, but he's too tired and sore to care) was coming from somewhere just to the side of his field of vision, but the idea of turning his head toward the sound was laughable. He felt his stomach turn over and could do little more than moan.

He's so tired of being sore and wasted.

"The doctor said your skull was fractured recently and that your brain bled. That everything that happened today was a result of damage..."

He couldn't move. All he wanted was to leave. He took a breath and felt nausea fall over him again. He grimaced and exhaled, an admirable belch sounded and the nausea abated somewhat.

His mother paused and he felt a hand closing around his. He tried to move away but he was too tired to manage it.

"Don't care." His throat was full of dirt and not enough water. The mud was grainy and stuck to his insides where he couldn't reach it.

"I care," she said and he chuckled before he could stop himself. He concentrated and finally snatched his hand away from her, slumping -- panting -- back further into the mattress beneath him. The guardrails, he realized belatedly, were wrapped with blankets and tape. He could see depressions where his body had impacted with the gaps in the bars.

"You...point-ly...do not."

Her breath hitched and she stopped trying to touch him. "I didn't..."

"Nope. Wasn't expected...expe'ting...to. Know...my place..."

Her face finally came into view as she stared down at him. Her hazel eyes were wide. There were tears staining the skin of her face. He averted his eyes and stared at the ceiling as his own eyes burned and tears began to leak out of them.

"You honestly think..."

Now he was angry, but more than that he was simply sick.

"Get out. Go bury...him...bury me back -- in denial. Don't...but -- bother..."

She sounded funny now, a low moaning sound and he drowned further.

"Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God, oh, God..." she was saying now, over and over and over and he wished he could burn his ears off so he didn't have to hear it anymore.


"You..." she was leaning over him again, her face awash in tears, her mouth twisted as more fell on him. "We made you think...I-I called Lisa to ask her what had happened to you. You w-were unconscious and the doctors here don't have your records. James says he's not your proxy anymore -- I-I called Lisa to find out and...she asked me what you'd done now?"

These words were spit out like bad tasting food and his head moved back toward her face. She was gripping the padded side-rail as she apparently tried to keep from yelling. "I hung up on her. I'm not sure what I said before that, but...I managed to get the story out of James. Not that he was any better. I left him outside. I think he may have driven back to your hotel, I don't know. They were..."

His mother laughed now, bitter and sarcastic. Her skin was translucent, her eyes bloodshot. "My God, you'd think we'd've pulled our heads out of our asses long before now -- when it would have helped you."

He was staring now. She never swore.

"Why would you tell us? We don't listen unless we can see something in it for ourselves." She sank back into her chair now and covered her face with her hands.

"Used...to it..." he dragged out, his eyes fluttering shut again. He couldn't do this anymore. It's a fa├žade and he knew it. But at least he wasn't alone in it anymore.

He felt empty inside, like everything had been pulled out of him. Without opening his eyes, he flung an arm up and started feeling around for...his eyes opened as he remembered his chart went at the end of his bed. Scowling, he grunted, "Cha-art."

She scrambled to do as he asked and handed it to him, her eyes staying on him as he tried to read it. The page swam and he groaned again without meaning to and he let the hand holding the metal clipboard fall back to the bed. "Can't...bluh..."

Her hands grasped the offending pages again and she settled it into her lap. "The doctor said you'd probably been sick to your stomach for a while. James said he found a 'pick line' or something on you when you were in the ambulance. The doctors here used that instead of giving you an IV -- thanked him for saving them the effort. He said he didn't insert it. You have a different doctor."

House frowned and pressed the call button. A nurse came eventually and smiled down at him. It was such an alien sensation, being smiled at -- nurse or no.

"He's nauseated," his mother told her and the nurse smiled down at him again. "Well, we'll have to take care of that so you don't throw up again. Your TPN mixture is in the refrigerator. Dr. Talbot called Dr. Brittain at Princeton General and we made sure you weren't allergic to anything we were going to give you."

She injected the antiemetic (he guessed Zofran as he was still conscious afterward) and smiled again at the relief on his face. "We'll give you the TPN now and if you feel up to it tomorrow morning, you can try to eat a little for breakfast."

His surprise at not being shuffled off home must've shown, as well, because she gave him a stern look, "Dr. House, we're hardly going to leave you unsupervised in your state. Who on earth would do that?"

He didn't answer, looking back down at his blanketed legs. It occurred to him that they didn't hurt terribly even as he knew they'd performed the same psychotic gymnastics as the rest of him had. He frowned and wiggled his toes, watching them move under the covers and then motioned for his chart again.

"You're on morphine for now, Dr. House," the nurse told him helpfully, taking the chart away from him again and placing it back at the end of his bed. "The seizures triggered waves of breakthrough pain that destabilized you all over again whenever you stopped seizing. You'll be weaned off it as soon as possible, but not until you're completely stable."


The nurse smirked, then, "Do you want answers or not?" and he exhaled, managing a faint sound of amusement. "You're scheduled for a twenty-four hour EEG starting tomorrow morning. Dr. Trask is our head of neurology. He'll bring you his papers and hopefully, you'll see fit to let him treat you."

She left then and House found himself staring at his legs again, unable to think very much.

His mother's voice filtered over him again and he heard the bitterness in her voice. "If you're that shocked at being treated like an adult, I'm not sure I want to know why. But I suppose I deserve to see you looking like that as I'm one of the perpetrators in this crime."

He looked at her and felt himself sinking inside again. "I..."

His mother held up her hand. "Don't. Greg...don't think you have to make me feel better. This is my fault -- mine and John's. We didn't consider you and now you don't bother believing you deserve it. You didn't even think having been in a bus accident warranted our attention and why the hell should you? Lisa and James are treating you the same way now and I have no right to be angry with them for it, even though I am. I started it. And now that you're all I have left, I find out I almost lost you again and didn't know it. I didn't even want to hear why you hated your father. You're right -- I didn't care. I'm so sorry."

She was crying again, now, and all he could do was stare.