WIP Amnesty huh? Here's a few of them. There's more I want to get rid of, but seeing as they suck beyond all belief, I don't want to subject any of you to them.
So, yeah, this was meant to be a five things fic, Five Ways House and Wilson Didn't Meet (But Could Have), but the ideas were kind of blah, and I lost interest, and one of the ideas got turned into a completely different story, so yeah. This is House and Wilson meeting as kids, and while I don't think it's as good as it could/should be, there are bits of it that I really like here.
James was ten when Houses moved in next door.
It happened in June, just as school was ending for that year. A big truck pulled into what used to be the Garfields' driveway, a U-Haul with a picture of the Grand Canyon on the side, orange and white colors shining in the summer sun.
"We should go over there and say hello," James' mother said with a smile and a glance out the window, "Make them feel welcome."
James was the only one at home at the time; his brothers were off at day camp, and his parents had insisted that he stay at home for another year. So of course, he went along with his mother, eager to see the new neighbors. James had always liked meeting new people, like the weird couple down the street with all the cats when they moved in a year ago, or when Zak was still the new kid in second grade and no one wanted to sit with him during lunch.
The Houses seemed nice enough. Mr. House was serious and gruff, but he still shook James' hand firmly and warmly, and Mrs. House smiled brightly at him. James liked that. They seemed nice. The Houses had a son, Greg, who was four years older and already in sullen teenager mode. He was tall and wiry, wearing a Who t-shirt and jeans, and James wasn't quite sure what to make of him. He reminded James of Jack, one his brother's friends, who liked to wear leather jackets and sunglasses. Cool ahead of his time.
The parents started talking about parent-y things, subtly pushing them off to the side, forcing them to bond. They sat on the steps to the front porch of the house, while the parents chatted on the driveway. Usually, James would have stayed behind and listened to the conversation, because it was generally interesting, seeing the ways adults talked to one another, but today there was another kid around, and that was so much better.
"So, you're going into high school, right?" James asked. Greg looked bored and uninterested. He had the sort of expression on his face that his brothers got when they thought James was too young to understand anything.
"Yeah," Greg said. "Whatever."
Off to the side, James could hear Mrs. House talking. "He's so smart. He could have skipped a grade, but he doesn't apply himself enough."
Greg rolled his eyes. "She says that every single time she meets parents. You would think she would have something else to say."
"Maybe she's just proud of you," James replied with a shrug. He liked it when his mom talked about him to other people's parents. It made him feel special.
Greg looked at him, and James realized that he had really blue eyes. Really, really blue eyes. James decided that they were kind of cool looking. "God, you're lame," Greg said with a sneer.
It sounded like Greg was trying to hurt his feelings, but James had grown up with two older brothers, both of whom went through phases where they became too cool to hang out with him anymore. He shrugged. "So?"
That seemed to surprise Greg, who was probably more used to people getting more hurt or defensive when he said things like that. "Also, your backyard sucks."
It did suck, James had to admit. The swing set in the back was beginning to rust, and neither of his parents had ever seemed to remember to get rid of it. Their back porch was in need of a new paint job. And even though his dad did mow the back lawn, he didn't bother perfecting it in the same way he did the front, so there were odd patches of grass that stuck out in odd areas. "Yeah," he said, almost sadly. "It does. Dad keeps saying he'll fix it, but he never goes through with it."
Greg barked out a laugh and smiled. It was an honest smile, and James decided that he liked it. He also got the impression that not a lot of people had seen it, either. Greg was that kind of kid.
"So your dad used to be a fighter pilot? That's pretty cool," James said, absently picking at his shoelaces.
Greg was leaning back on his hands, staring at the street and watching as cars went by. "Not really." He still looked bored, but it was a sort of inclusive boredness, like they were bored together, as opposed to bored separately.
They talked a bit more, though it was mostly just James listening to Greg, because Greg was four years older, and he had been everywhere, Egypt, Germany, Japan. Greg seemed to like having a captive audience, someone else who would hang on to every word, and it meant that he tolerated James' presence just that much longer.
After a while, James' mom went to go pick up Issac and Jacob, and when they got back, James' brothers came over to join them on the steps. They got into a conversation about music, something James didn't really know much about, so after a few minutes of staring blankly at the three of them as they argued, he headed back home for the night.
The next morning, when the doorbell rang, he figured it was Greg, but he wasn't sure why Greg was coming over. His mother yelled for him to get the door, so he did. She was in the kitchen, preparing lunch.
"Hello," James said as he opened the door. "They're not here right now."
Greg stared at him. "What?"
"Issac and Jake. They're at camp right now." That was why he was over, right? To see his brothers. A bike was sitting in the driveway, where Greg left it, and James figured that he wanted to grab his brothers to do some exploring. it was a nice day for it, bright and clear.
Greg rolled his eyes. "I wasn't looking for them. I was looking for you."
James blinked. "Me?" He was ten. Fourteen-year-olds didn't hang out with ten-year-olds unless they were related or they were friends of people who were related.
"Yeah, you. You seem cool enough, and I could never spend that much time with people who believe Charlie Watts is a better drummer than Keith Moon." Greg was beginning to look impatient.
James was still confused. "But I don't even know who they are." Greg was wearing a Beatles t-shirt that day. James was pretty sure he knew all their names, but not really what instruments they played. Ringo was the one with the funny nose, right?
"You're just ignorant. Not outright stupid. That counts for something." That didn't really clear up any confusion on James' part, mostly because he didn't know what the word "ignorant" meant.
"So where are you going?" he asked, pointing to the bike. Greg wasn't wearing a helmet, which struck James as odd. He'd always worn a helmet.
"I heard that there's a lake around here, wanted to go check it out." It wasn't much bigger than a pond, really, but it made the kids feel important to call it a lake. The weather wasn't quite hot and humid enough yet for the area to become really gross and bug-infested, so it was still a pretty nice place to hang out.
"Yeah, it's just down the street. You kind of have to cut through the brush next to Mr. Daniels' house, but he doesn't really mind, and there's a path that's pretty easy to follow." This made sense; Greg just wanted directions, and he'd go off exploring by himself.
Greg nodded. "Cool," he said. He started walking back toward his bike, and James was about to close the door when he yelled out, "Hey, aren't you coming?"
James blinked. "Yeah," he said. He didn't need to be asked twice. Greg was offering to hang out with him, and James was kind of bored from sitting inside all day anyway. Plus, the lake was pretty cool.
He went into the garage and grabbed his bike, pulling on his helmet as he wheeled it out into the sunlight. Greg was waiting impatiently for him, already on his bike, ready to leave. "C'mon. Let's go." He pushed off and headed down the street without looking back.
James followed him. He didn't look back either.
A short Hughes one that I might want to finish, but probably won't. It's not much, but I kind of like it. A little.
The boy hides behind the remains of a stone wall. He is young, almost too young to remember a time when the wall was standing. But he does remember. He remembers that it was once a part of a house a friend lived in, and that it always smelled of ash in the winter and sand in the summer. He remembers watching the canons of the men in blue rip through the stone. He remembers the screams that came with them.
A man is sitting in the small courtyard where the boy and his friend once played, on the ledge where they used to sit when they were tired. The man is tall and dark haired with green eyes that mark him as an Asmestrian, even if his uniform did not, and his shoulders sag against the wall. The boy does not know that the man is tired, that he smiles even when he's sad, that the man has friends he doesn't see anymore too. The man does not know that the boy is there.
The boy peeks up, over the edge of his hiding spot, and the man sees him, because the man is wearing funny glass eyes that adults sometimes have. It probably should be scary for the boy, because the Asmestrians are scary, but this one is not. The man smiles, not in the mean way of many of the other soldiers, but in a way that reminds the boy of his father, though he hasn't seen his father for years.
"Hullo," the man says. He sees that the boy is skinny, even frail, that his clothes are rags, that his eyes are wide. The man holds out a hand, beckoning, and the boy emerges slowly. His face is blank, frozen into a mask stillness, but his eyes are alive, blood-red and wary. The man does not touch the boy, but watches him instead, head titled to the side.
"What's your name?" the man asks.
The boy shakes his head and looks away.
An Alias one, and it's ancient. I was going to write something for that Verona Beach AU challenge from way back when, because Verona Beach is an amazingly realized place, and I thought it would be cool to do it. It was meant to be basically be Macbeth, with Jack as Duncan, Sloane as Machbeth, Sydney as Malcolm, Nadia as Lady Macbeth, which kind of comes through, but yeah, I kind of wish I finished it, but at this point, I only vaguely remember how it was supposed to go. If I were writing it from scratch, I probably would have written it differently, but whatever.
Jack steps through the automatic doors as they open with a slight woosh. It's a sweltering hot day in Verona Beach, so humid you could cut the air with a knife. Behind him, the door opens again as another man in a suit steps through, and the cool air-conditioning from the hotel's lobby chills the back of his neck, where sweat has already begun to form. The man nods politely, acknowledging Jack's own dark suit. They're not really here for the same reasons, but the formality of a business suit can rarely be seen here, among the gaudier Hawaiian shirts and bullet-proof vests.
He signals to one of the waiting cabs that cluster underneath the overhang in front of the hotel, perpetually waiting for a customer. The drivers seem to huddle in that corner, Latin music blaring from their speakers with windows that are always rolled down because air-conditioning is expensive. The cab that pulls up to him is checkered yellow and blue, like all the others in this city.
The driver turns down the radio and doesn't ask Jack any questions about why he's in Verona Beach, why he wants to visit the OmniFam building, or what kind of family Jack has back home. That in itself earns him several points in Jack's book. The relative silence (punctuated by bursts of horns or engines from outside the car) gives Jack time to think and strategize. Not that he hasn't already, but he needs to double check. Sloane may be obsessive, but he's still as brilliant as he was when they were younger. More so, even.
It's not surprising that Sloane returned to OmniFam after stealing back the Sphere of Life, and Jack's not sure why the CIA hasn't shut it down yet. Maybe they hope to get Sloane to rejoin their side, bring his expertise in Rambaldi to their mutual benefit. Jack's not going to let them get that chance.
They pass a large Jesus statue, arguably the only real tourist attraction this hellhole has to offer. It stands between the two Montague and Capulet buildings, a separator, a dividing line. Jack's always wondered what was the appeal or religion, of putting faith into someone or something else. He's tried before and it's never worked. Arguably, that's the reason why they're in this mess right now.
The OmniFam building is newer than anything else in Verona Beach, only one or two years old, and all gleaming chrome and smooth, black marble. Jack squints in the too-bright sun that's more orange than yellow. He hates this place. It's too humid, too trashy. He's not sure why Sloane chose Verona Beach as a sort of safe house, but he has, and Jack has things he has to do in order to ensure Sydney's safety.
He pays the cab driver easily, without making a fuss. Jack's learned how to be forgettable.
Jack walks into the building along with a few other suits, blending into the crowd as best he can without being conspicuous. It's the most he can do, though the security cameras probably have him and Sloane has time to disappears again. Jack doesn't mind really. Let Sloane run. Let him run until he can't run anymore. Jack has the patience to beat him. As he enters, he's met by a blast of cool air, that dries the sweat on his arms and face and neck.
There's anticipation, sparking across his skin. Jack would never admit that he gets this too, the adrenaline high. He would never admit that sometimes he wants to act on it. Jack doesn't like being out of control of anything, least of all himself. Everything sharpens around him, every detail important. He can hear the slight squeak someone else's shoes make on the floor as they walk farther and farther away. He can practically smell the staleness of the air, the processed cold of it. He can feel the recoil of the gun as he pulls the trigger and creates a new hole in Arvin Sloane's brain.
The hallways are gray and monotonous, Jack's perceptions of which are probably influenced by the bright white of the APO offices. He walks on black tile, flecked with gray, and the simple, generic paintings hung on the grays walls do nothing to break up the blandness of it all.
There is no secretary waiting for him, something that should surprise Jack, but it doesn't indicate much, one way or the other, so he lets it go. Moving through the offices, he finds that Sloane isn't in his, though Jack does find some interesting trinkets here and there. Most revealing are a picture of Sloane and Emily together from years ago, probably even before they were married, and one of Sloane and Nadia together, taken fairly recently. Sloane smiles brightly in both of them, looking like the doting husband and father he was (is).
Jack absently fingers stray papers, looking for anything of interest, anything the government can use. But there's nothing, just paperwork and the OmniFam logo. This is merely tangential, though. Sloane signed his deal with the devil years ago, and now he's going to collect. With a little help from Jack, of course.
As he moves through the offices, careful not to make a sound, Jack hears shuffling from a boardroom. It's Sloane, most likely. Jack recognizes the rhythm of Sloane's shuffle. There's no need for stealth, really, as it sounds as if Sloane's alone. Even if it is someone else, Jack can apologize and smile and invent a reason for being here. He twists the knob and pushes open the door, knowing what he has to do.
Sloane smiles at him as he enters, looking wise and benevolent. Jack doesn't trust it one bit. "Jack," Sloane says, smile never wavering, tone laced with both condescension and affection.
"Let's skip the small talk, Arvin," Jack replies. This needs to end quickly.
The room is larger than most of the others here, and the large floor-to-ceiling windows face out, giving them a beautiful view of the city. Sloane stands there, obviously admiring the encroaching sunset, as Jack merely watches him from the doorway.
"I knew you'd come," Arvin says, sounding almost pleased, something that automatically puts Jack on guard.
"How?" he asks. He's more guarded now, knowing that Sloane probably has something up his sleeve. Sloane moves away from the windows and walks toward Jack without saying a word, smile still in place. There's a long black table in the center of the room between them, and Sloane takes his time making his way around it.
Jack watches him, but keeps his guard relaxed. Sloane has never actively tried to kill him before, what little is left of their friendship protecting him. Perhaps Sloane thinks that Jack extends the same courtesy to him. Jack isn't exactly happy to prove him wrong, but he doesn't mind.
When they're finally face to face, Jack expects some sort of lecture, another offer from Sloane to join him in his quest for Rambaldi. What happens is entirely different.
Jack reaches for his gun, tucked neatly underneath his shirt, but he hears the click of pistol being cocked behind him. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," Sloane says, smile tugging at the corner of his lips. Jack turns, just a fraction, to confirm that there is, in fact, one Sloane's security guards behind him. There is.
Sloane takes his weapon easily from it's holster at Jack's side, and Jack fights down the urge to attack him. Contrary to popular belief, he does value his life. Sloane's expression changes as he does so, becoming sadder, regretful. "I am truly sorry for this, Jack," he says.
"For what?" Jack asks, because there's a long fucking list, and he doubts that Sloane regrets all of it.
Sloane's expression just turns sadder and more resigned, and Jack knows that it is not a good sign.
Jack does see the knife flash, catching the light for a moment, but his mind doesn't process it quickly enough to block. It slides into his stomach easily, without sound. Sloane pulls up, and Jack recognizes the move from CIA training. It's designed to be fatal, and Jack knows Sloane wouldn't use it unless he wanted Jack dead.
The wound throbs, and Jack falls to his knees involuntarily. His hands are pressing up against it, futilely trying to stem the flow of blood, and to keep all of his internal organs internal. Jack knows he won't survive this. His vision is going hazy at the edges, and all he can see is Sloane's black turtleneck. There are hands holding his face, and he thinks that Sloane may be saying something, but he can only pick up a few phrases.
"Sorry... I didn't want to... didn't believe, Jack... loved her too... "
Sloane presses his lips to Jack's forehead, in a strangely gentle kiss, and Jack almost wants to laugh at the irony of the situation.
Blood creeps into Jack's mouth, the bitter, metallic taste on his tongue. He should reply, curse at himself for underestimating how well Sloane knows him, not realizing that Sloane knew he would come. But he doesn't, because he knows this is the end, and Sloane's already won.
Sydney, he thinks. There's still Sydney.
Jack's never had more regrets than this very moment, when he can't even keep himself safe, much less her. She's capable, he knows, but he wants (needs) to be there to protect her. That's his purpose, his only one. He can only trust her to take care of herself up to a certain point.
And now he's bleeding to death on Sloane's black-gray tile. The irony is astounding. Somewhere, somehow God (or Rambaldi) is laughing at him.
Sloane's leaning in so close Jack's nose is rubbing up against the soft material of his shirt and whispering something into Jack's ear that he can't hear over the silence. The wound is cold now, strange in contrast to the hot blood that is pouring into his hands. He's breathing heavily, and his muscles aren't receiving enough oxygen.
Hands steady his shoulders, and Jack's eyes slip shut. He wants to fight this, but he can't.
He falls backward, knowing that this is the end. Sydney, he thinks. I did this for you. I'm sorry I failed. I'll never be able to say this, but I love you.
And then everything stops.
Verona Beach's is airport is old and short, the floor a dingy yellow that used to be white and windows that don't look like they've been cleaned in years. It's hardly the worst airport Sydney has been in, but there's something about it that strongly reminds her that she's not in LA anymore.
She puts on her aviator glasses as she leaves the cargo plane, knowing that it's a sign to her companions that she doesn't want to talk at the moment. She has to focus.
Vaughn looks concerned, an expression so familiar Sydney almost wants to smile. She needs as much familiarity as she can get. He's tried to get her to talk, about her father's death, about her sister's betrayal, but sympathy will accomplish nothing. She needs vengeance for this, and nothing but Sloane's life will suffice.
She isn't wearing a disguise today, preferring to keep her normal hair and accent and identity for this mission. She wants Sloane to see her when she kills him.
Sydney has always had an appreciation for symbolism.
It surprises her, this need for revenge. It was easier with Danny, because SD-6 was something obviously "bad" and Sloane was a part of it, and Sydney could bring it down and Sloane down and it would be everything she needed to do.
But it wouldn't even be close to enough this time.
Dixon hovers quietly, not saying a word, and Sydney knows that she just needs him to be here. He's Dixon, and when he's looking quiet and grave and supportive like that, he reminds her of her father. She needs his strength more now more than ever.
The weather is dark and muggy with a thick wind blowing through. It's going to rain soon. Sydney wants to get some things done before it hits, though, and so she speeds up her pace just a bit, and she hears Dixon and Vaughn catching up behind her.
Dixon drives. Vaughn watches Sydney. They've taken turns, ever since LA, and Sydney's grateful. She really is. But they have to realize that she's not going to do anything drastic. Not really.
She's not sure she wants to make eye contact with Vaughn, just because she knows that he'll ask her if she's all right, and she's getting sick of telling people that she's fine. So she stares out the car window, taking in the clogged streets, the loud shirts, and the fairly obvious weaponry.
"Sydney," Vaughn says quietly, and despite her need for some time alone, she turns to look at him. " I just wanted to say that your father was my..." his voice trails off and a small, grim smile pulls at the edge of his mouth, "I want to say 'friend', but that doesn't seem right, does it?"
Sydney smiles at that, and the expression feels a little strange on her face after so long without it. "I know," she says. "But thank you, anyway, for telling me."
Vaughn nods, "I want you to know that he meant something to me, too. You're not the only one who's been hurt by this." Sydney can tell that he just got something off his chest. Maybe not something big, not something that important, but still something. So she smiles a little wider (a little faker), trying to reassure him.
They don't know where Sloane is, despite many CIA attempts to track him. Sydney doesn't really care at this point, she'll chase him across the world and back again simply for the chance to get her revenge. She's not proud of it, but she's beginning to learn how to be honest with herself. It's not like anyone else will.
Her father was found in a back alley, stabbed in the stomach. It's not an incredibly rare occurrence in Verona, considering the city's history of gang violence, but Sydney knows that her father was close to finding Sloane's position, and that he might have went ahead by himself. Sydney wouldn't put it past him. She does know that it would take more than random gang violence to bring her father down. Call it a hunch.
She tucks her hair behind her ear without thinking and bites her lip. The car pulls into the back alley where her father was supposedly killed, long since cleaned of blood and chalk marks. Sydney has seen the photos, even though Vaughn tried to keep them from her. She needed to see them, the same way she needed to find her mother's body, the same way she needed to stay and fight after Danny's death. The same way she needs to get Sloane now.
It's possible that the authorities missed something here, that Sloane's men were careless enough to leave something behind, but Sydney's not sure that there's anything of use. Sloane is good at covering his tracks. Always has been.
Still, she steps out of the car, prepared for anything. She can hear Vaughn and Dixon slam their doors shut behind her.
She can recognize this place, just from the pictures. She committed them to memory a long time ago, and it's a little disconcerting to see it without the strange lighting of the flash of the camera. She has to squint a bit to make out the edges of the alley, where the walls bleed into each other in the shadows.
Dixon clicks on a flashlight, sweeping the beam over the dumpster in the back corner. "Let's get to work," he says. And they do.
They find nothing, just as Sydney suspected.
She wonders if Sloane did the job himself, if he had the guts to take a knife and plunge it into her father's stomach. He didn't kill Danny directly, of course. He had Shepard do that. But her father was different. Whatever differences between them, they were friends, even at the end. Sydney doubts she'll ever understand that, but it was there.
She walks back to the car, careful not to look either Vaughn or Dixon in the eye. She knows that they're worried about her, about the things that are coming, and maybe, just maybe, they're mourning her father too.
Whatever adrenaline that has been fueling her for the past few days drains out of her, leaving her feeling empty and tired. She leans against the window of the car and resists the urge to bite her fingernails. She kicked that habit in third grade, but sometimes, when she's feeling especially young, it comes back with a vengeance.
Dixon says something
She rubs her arms, feeling cold even in the thick humid air. "There were times when I wished he was dead, when I was younger. Even with what happened to my mother. What I thought happened to my mother." she says, because it's the truth. "I said it to his face sometimes, and he would just look at me, like he didn't care."
Dixon nods as she rambles, eyes focused on her.
"It makes me mad, you know? I was almost beginning to trust Sloane again, after all that he's done to me, to the people close to me. And I let him get away with it again."
Dixon places a reassuring hand on her shoulder, and she's not sure she can say anything else without crying. "I can't remember the last time I saw him smile," she chokes out. "It always made me hopeful. Like if there was something in this world that could get even him to smile, it was worth it."
She tries to keep the tears in, because she's so sick of crying over her life, over the fucking tragedy of it all. But they spill out anyway, the tears, the anger, the pain. "We're going to find that bastard, and we're going to destroy him. No mercy. No forgiveness. Nothing." Her voice remains surprisingly steady and clear, despite the tears she can feel streaking down her face.
Dixon just nods, gestures to the car. "Let's go, then."
Nadia likes to think that she's too young to have regrets, even though she knows it's not true.
Verona Beach reminds her of Argentina occasionally, when she hears a few snatches of Spanish near the snack bar or when the humidity is so thick you could almost choke on it. She likes it here, likes it better than any other place they've been before.
At the moment, she's sitting at the edge of the snack bar, watching as the gangs (packs) frolic through the sand and surf with their brightly-colored shirts, weapons proudly displayed. She wants to laugh at that, their flashy displays of power. Real power, she knows, can be obtained without the theatrics, the macho posturing.