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29 April 2007 @ 10:30 pm
Bytecode (You Are Still In The Matrix Remix) [House, House/Stacy, House/Wilson]  
Title: Bytecode (You Are Still In The Matrix Remix)
Summary: Five times House unplugged and thought he was somewhere else.
Fandom: House
Pairing(s): House/Stacy, House/Wilson
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: House and the other various characters do not belong to me. They belong to David Shore, Bat Hat Harry, etc.
Original story: Variations by zulu
Notes: Written for remix_redux. Big thanks go out to savemoony and leiascully for audiencing. This is a cyberpunk AU. Just warning y'all.



00100

"We have to go," his father said, his eyes tired and sad, his hand resting lightly on the handle of his gun. "Start packing."

Greg timed his response to his father's irritation, waiting just long enough to piss him off, but not long enough to get the long suffering sigh and the look of disappointment.

It was the fourth bunker they'd had to stay in for the last four months, and Greg couldn't even remember which state they were in. All the bunkers looked the same on the inside, dirt floors, metal walls, and they all felt the same, cold and echoing. Topside was different everywhere. Empty desert, crowded forests, endless grasslands. But he didn't see it often enough for it to matter.

The government was laying down new cable, even more enhanced fiber optics for the national network, and his father had been assigned to protect the crews as they worked. (Never knew who might want to carve potholes on the American information superhighway. The Chinese, maybe, or the Indians. Information was power and no one had ever believed it like they all did now.) Greg was just along for the ride, as his father followed them across the country.

It wasn't much, this whole thing, wasn't anything, but when he plugged in, the new cable was a bright neon blue in the Stream, and when he rode through it, the information parted for him like water.

When he unplugged, he never could remember where he was.



01111

House lived in a clockwork hospital, each dose timed to keep him asleep for exactly the right amount of time. A routine of pills and arguments, though it was just meat, and meat didn't matter much, not anymore.

They let him plug in when he wanted to, a jack easily accessible from the bed, letting him back into his real home, where he really lived. His leg didn't hurt while he rode through the wires (the cables laid down when he was a kid are dull and dingy now, dark and faded like a T-shirt left out in the sun), and it was better that way. So much better. (He'd been inside a patient when the pain first hit, not realizing what was happening until he pulled out and felt it all at once, his body already twisting and pulling into a ball.)

The technology turned off the pain receptors, but it left some limited awareness of the outside world, the moving things at the edges of his consciousness. He learned to tell them apart; Stacy clear silver, like stainless steel, Wilson dark brown, like earth. He'd unplug in the mornings to find them sleeping in a chair by his bedside, waiting. He never understood why.

When Stacy brought him home, he plugged in, lying down on the bed, sliding the jack into his wrist, riding the Stream until Stacy's bright silver faded into a dark, forest green.

He unplugged to a dark room, a throb in his thigh, and a ceiling that looked too strange and too familiar.



01100

"Adam Quong is seizing," Cameron said.

House unplugged to the bright sunlight of midday streaming through the windows, hurting his eyes. "What have we got him on?" he asked, tongue heavy and unfamiliar in his mouth. Was inside for too long. Does weird things to your body.

"Prednisone," Cameron said, "and he's crashing." She eyed him carefully, sizing him up, and House hated that, being looked at, watched.

"It's not Crohn's," House said. His brain raced ahead, proposing and rejecting tests, procedures, treatments, eager to get back in. Different network, same idea. Plugged into the nanites that would scour Quong's systems, searching and recording every stray twitch of his internal organs.

"We should take him off the prednisone--" Cameron started, a quick wave her hand, showing off the metal plating on the inside of her wrist, the cradle for the jack that could (would) take her inside (a body, the Stream).

"Too soon." House rolled to his feet. A second later he landed hard against his desk, his leg collapsing under him. Stupid. Stupid. The mind is willing. The body is weak.

Cameron rushed forward, arms out. "Are you--?" Still hadn't gotten his balance back from unplugging. Hadn't remembered the nerve damage and missing muscle tissue. (And he didn't understand how Dr. Jacobs managed to fuck up that procedure, way back when, but he did.)

"Shut up," House said. "Get moving." He followed her, snarling, aching once again for the cool feel of the Stream.



11001

It tastes

like blue, like the

feel of ice down the back

of his neck.

The world assembling the

world parsed and compiled to binary

around him.

He sees the sound of water running, the

stream of the Stream, and it bends for him,

moves for him. It blooms like a flower

and he moves moves moves feels no pain and moves moves moves.

Information sounds like the feel of a machine humming under your fingers vibrating vibrating vibrating.

Body is useless, empty. Mind is full, full. Jump from socket to socket, server to server, ride ride ride

jump jump jump. Piggy-back across packets.

A prick at his ear, just a tingle (not there not there), a warning, too long inside,

can't stay can't stay.

He unplugs

to an empty apartment

surprised and not at all.



j 0x01

He pulled out not knowing what time of day it was, the room dark around him, his arm useless at his side. It always felt numb after unplugging, deprived of sensation. The pain in his leg came back in waves, a slow slide of sensation. The air smelled humid, like fresh rain, like dirty puddles on asphalt.

He twisted, bumping the body next to him. It was Wilson, unplugging himself for a moment, his pupils tiny in the dim light (the brain fooled while in the Stream, thinking that it was bright, that it could see). "Okay?" Wilson asked.

"No," House said, because he was on the bed, staring at the wall (peach and ugly; he should have that repainted some day), because he was feeling and breathing and hurting, because he wasn't in the Stream. "Being annoyed by oncologists."

"Hmm," Wilson said, distracted, plugging back in, but not before pulling House closer to him, tucking his face into the crook of House's neck, his fingers curled over House's hip.

House closed his eyes for a moment, letting his mind sink back into his body, letting it rest for a moment.

He still didn't trust unplugging next to Wilson. (The real world was never what you wanted it to be.)

But plugging in (riding through sun-yellow wires in the Stream, a hand steady and solid at the edges of his awareness, a presence that felt like the taste of chocolate), was getting easier every time.


end

For anyone interested, there is a DVD commentary that can be found here.
 
 
 
triedunture on April 30th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
Wow. I hadn't read the original yet, so after this I ran back to it. This challenge was so interesting...this was definitely a cool and different take on the first fic. Very sharp. Good stuff.
thedeadparrot: going placesthedeadparrot on April 30th, 2007 01:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, I've really been digging remix_redux and all the stories that have been coming out of it as well.
sessilesessile29 on April 30th, 2007 07:35 am (UTC)
Hee - interesting concept, awesome delivery. House would thrive on being jacked in, on being able to affect reality with his mind alone. So cool. :)
thedeadparrot: save your mortal soulthedeadparrot on April 30th, 2007 02:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I wasn't sure whether or not anyone would be willing to accept the concept, so yeah, I'm glad you liked it.