Back to the mothership...

title: carry you home (au)
author: the unreliable narratress
fandom: House MD
episode/spoiler: 3.20 House Training, references to the end of season 5
characters: Foreman, Alicia Forman, Taub, Thirteen, House and a surprise guest star
rating: pg, gen, au
warning: minor character death (not Foreman, though)

summary: Foreman's mom visits and he decides to bring her home. House wants to come along for the ride. (short, one-shot)
a/n: I woke up this morning with the idea on my mind, had to sit down and write it up, even before I had any breakfast. So send all complaints directly to my empty stomach, please.

disclaimer: I have to feed a seven year old wabbit and a half a year old computer so please don't sue me. Seriously: I hope the idea to this story is mine, but I do not intend to touch the rights of the owner of the characters from House MD Iíve used. No moneymaking, no offence meant. Lyrics belong to James Blunt.

She says it's high time she went away,
I know what it means and I'll carry you home.
I'll carry you home.
If she had wings she would fly away,
And another day God will give her some.

A knock to the glass doors of the conference room caused several heads to rise. Only one of them recognized the slender woman standing in front of it, her hand still raised. Gentle but slight absent eyes in a wrinkled face, silver-grey hair surrounding her face almost like a halo.

Forman got up, surprise shining in his face and words. "Mom?" he asked, opening the door. He took her elbow, gently steering into the room. "What are you doing here? Where's Dad?"

"Oh... he is around, I think. Somewhere," Alicia Foreman answered with an indulgent smile, patting her son's cheek. "I came to see you, darling."

She moved to embrace him and Foreman exchanged slightly embarrassed gazes with his colleagues, while he carefully returned the hug. She felt fragile and small in his arms. Easy to break.

Taub had the decency to look away after a moment - or perhaps he felt bored.

Thirteen smiled - a smile involuntarily tinged with sadness - and got up to step over to mother and son.

"Mom, this is Remy," Foreman said, pulling back. "Do you remember? I told you about her, the last time we talked on the phone."

"Of course I remember, silly," Alicia said, reaching out to shake Thirteen's hand. "I'm may be getting too old for my son to visit anymore, but my memory works just fine."

"I'm delighted to finally meet you," Thirteen said. "Eric told me a lot about you."

Alicia looked at her with wonder. "Oh, so you know both of my sons?"

"Mom," Foreman tried to intervene, sensing the sudden wrong tone in the conversation. "Look at me."

However, Alicia didn't listen to him. She studied Thirteen. "My son told me, you had been in a terrible accident with a bus, my dear," she said. "But you look just fine."

Foreman closed his eyes in resignation, all the hope he entertained despite knowing better crumpling to pieces. Thirteen flinched and became suddenly very interested in the pattern of the carpet beneath her feet. Even Taub lifted his head from the file he had been reading to look over.

"Mom." Foreman opened his eyes and gently grasped her shoulders, turning her to face him. "Look at me. I am Eric, not Mark. Mark is not here."

She gazed at him, puzzlement and indulgence mixed in her features, than lifted her hand to pat his cheek again. "Everything is fine, my darling."

"Where is Dad?" Foreman asked. "I can't believe he let you wander around on your own."

"I'm sure he's already looking for her." Thirteen pulled her cell phone out of a pocket. "I'll call the admittance desk; they can direct him here if he comes to ask."

Alicia didn't pay any attention to their exchange. She stood next to her son, one hand on his arm and studied the room. "It's very nice in here," she said. "But for the life of me I can't understand why did you have to get a home with so many windows, darling. It must be a dread to clean them all."

* * *

Several phone calls and a trip to the clinic by Taub later, there was still no sign of Rodney Foreman and Eric realized that his mother obviously managed to slip away undetected. He tried to call his father at home but nobody answered. He was probably out to look for his wife. How did a woman with Alzheimerís travel all on her own to Princeton? Foreman decided to think about details later. It was more important to get his mother out of the hospital.

"Why don't you take a personal day and get her home by yourself?" Thirteen asked after leaving Alicia with a cup of tea and Taub to keep her company at the conference table. "You can drive up there, talk to your Dad and maybe even to her doctor and still be back by tonight."

"I think you're right." Foreman sighed. "This is not the first time she wandered away, but usually she doesn't make it out of the neighborhood. I simply can't imagine how she could make it to Princeton on her own. I think..." he hesitated, looking at Remy, "...maybe it is time to get her into some kind of... home. My father isn't getting any younger; he can't take care of her all alone - all the time. And he's often away working with the Church."

"Then you should go. Take her home and talk to your dad." Thirteen's eyes went to the woman on the table, than back to her lover. "We don't have a case at the moment and if something should come up, we'll manage without you for the day. I promise not to let kill House any patients in the meantime."

Foreman smiled and moved to kiss her cheek. "Thank you." He straightened and went over to the table. "Mom, come on. I'll take you home."

Alicia looked up, obviously surprised to see him. "Mark, what are you doing here?" she asked delighted. "Your brother said you couldn't come to visit us this Christmas."

"Everything's okay, Mom," Foreman said. "I'll get you home. Come with me." He took her hand and helped her getting up. "We can talk in the car."

Taub cleared his throat. "Why don't I talk to Cuddy and explain, what happened? Might you save some time?" He shrugged, his hands hidden in the pockets of his lab coat.

Foreman hesitated for a moment, watching his mom walk away to ask Remy if she had seen her son Eric. He nodded. "Thank you."

Taub shrugged once more.

* * *

He left his mother in Remy's company while he went to get his car, parking it in front of the building. After saying goodbye to Thirteen, he directed his mom through the lobby and out of the hospital. He opened the door of his door - but the passenger seat had already been taken.

House idly swirled his cane between his fingers, looking for all the world as if he had every right to be there. "Took you long enough."

"Get out," Foreman felt no necessary for polite chitchat. "I have no time to indulge your childish attics." How did House...?

"No," House answered in a singsong voice. "The cripple's got to ride shotgun. Don't you know it's all about size," he added with a fake leer.

"House! I don't have time for this. Get out of my car."

"Make me." House leaned back in his seat and started to fiddle with the knobs of the radio.

Foreman blinked.

"You know we can stand here all day and argue, but I wonít get out of the car," House said without looking at him. "If I get back in there, Cuddy'll chain me to a table in the clinic. So no way, Jose, I'm not going back."

For a moment Foreman felt tempted to call Security and have them drag House out of the car - House managed to piss off most of the guards the years, they would be only too happy to comply - but he feared to scare his mom with all the commotion. He opened the back door and helped Alicia to sit on the backseat, carefully strapping her in herself.

House leant back in his seat, his eyes closed, singing along with the music from the radio, when Foreman took the driver's seat. He signed. It would prove a very long drive...

* * *

The first few minutes, turning finally into half an hour, went by in suspicious peace. House seemed to have dozen off. Alicia kept in the backseat a running commentary on their neighbors, informing him about things which happened when he was a child, some he even suspected to stem from a time before his birth. At least for the moment she seemed to know where she was, if not who he was. Given her state, she might think of him as a cab driver as well as Obama. Perhaps he should be grateful she thought he was Mark, seen, as it was better than her actually seeing his brother.

"Darling, who is this woman?"

His mother's voice startled Foreman from his thoughts. He didn't think much of her words, assuming she saw somebody outside walking by.

House suddenly opened his eyes to turn his head. He smirked. "Now, now, seeing dead people is my thing. I gonna have to sue you for copyright infringement."

"What now, House?" Frustrated Foreman stopped the car in front of a red light and turned his head to check up on his mother. Next to her actually sat a woman. He couldn't suppress a startled gasp.

Lupe met his eyes with a tightlipped smile. She was dressed in a hospital gown. "What's up, Doc?"

Behind them, the driver of the other cars started to honk their horns, but Foreman couldn't move, starring at the dead woman sitting in his backseat...

The honking turned into the insistent ringing of his cell phone. By the time Foreman had come back to his senses, it had stopped. He sat up - right, he was alone, he and Remy had decided to spent the night in their own beds - and rubbed a hand over his face, wiping away the sweat and probably tears on his cheeks.

Getting out of bed, he went straight into the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and drank half of it, before he even started to think about the strange dream he had.

There was a rational explanation for any of it, he assured himself.

It wasn't a secret anymore that House hallucinated Amber. Somehow, this manifested itself in his dream - with the difference he saw Lupe, the patient he killed a few years ago.

As to dreaming of his mother's visit... that might have something to do with the letter he got from his father days ago, asking him to come home to a family reunion. With Mark's release from prison and his mother's declining health, he wasn't too thrilled to follow up the invitation.

And House... he had enough of the man haunting his days, he really didn't need him in his dreams, too.

Still unable to shake the uneasy feeling that had settled upon him, he went back to the bedroom to pick up his phone and call Remy - when he remembered the ringing of the cell phone woke him earlier. He picked it up and 'missed calls' showed the number of his parent's home.

Tiny ice needles slid up and down his back, causing him to shiver. Calling himself an idiot, Foreman dialed.

Despite the early hour, almost at once someone picked up.

"Dad? It's Eric. I'm sorry, I missed your call."

"Eric... my son... your mother... God decided to call your mother to his side. I need you to come home..."

Foreman's cell phone hit the carpet with a dull thud.