Author: Anne Marsh
Title: Goodbye, Chickens, Farewell, Babies
Rating: I'm going to say a weak 'R' for angst and disturbing turns of conversation.
Pairing: pre Josh/Sam
Summary: Post-Noel angst, Josh speaks in metaphors.
Notes: Josh POV. Inspired by a conversation I had in another fandom, wherein this ep. was discussed. My, I'm prolific tonight.
Archive: Yes.
Feedback: Please.

Goodbye, Chickens, Farewell, Babies by Anne Marsh

"It was a chicken." I laughed bitterly.

"What?" Sam looked perplexed. And really, there is so no way I can blame him, as I have just intimated that a chicken scarred me for life, in a way which chickens generally do not.

"You know, the chicken. It was a chicken."

"No, I really don't know."

"Sorry, I'm being obtuse."

"Yes. Yes, you are. What's a chicken?"

"It's this funny little bird, good in soup."

"Seriously for a minute?"

"I don't know if I can do serious for a whole minute. Bad things happen when I mix with the world of serious for too long, Sam. Because I try, I really do, and then I just... it doesn't-- So I don't. You know?"

"I would like to understand. And it's become very difficult, now that you've brought chickens into things."

"Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen." I clarified. Well, okay, clarified might not be the right word, as Sam was still looking at me like maybe *I* was the chicken. Only, you know, human-sized and talking. "Have you ever seen the final episode of M*A*S*H? Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen."

Comprehension began to dawn, and then, decided not to. "Not helping me as much as you think you are." He said finally.

"In the last episode of M*A*S*H, you remember how Hawkeye goes crazy? And he's talking to the shrink, and he's telling him all about how this woman, on the bus where they were hiding, she smothers this chicken. And, um, the drink... it was a chicken."

"Things are starting to come together." He nodded. "I seem to remember he had himself halfway convinced it *was* a chicken. Only, it was her baby."

I nodded.

"You wanna keep talking?"

"No, not especially. But, I should. See, the drink, and the glass, and the-- the drink, it was my chicken. I said it over and over again, and I needed people to believe it, and I needed me to believe it, but there's no chicken, Sam."

"No, I guess not." He nodded. I could see the little crease worry his brow as he thought about what I'd told him. "What's the baby?"

I pointed to the drawn curtains. "Go take a look."

I didn't watch him. I heard him move across the room, because everything else inside was so quiet, because when you live in any city long enough, its regular traffic noises melt away. I heard curtains rustle, heard a soft gasp.

"Yeah." I said ruefully. "That would be the baby."

"I-- I don't understand."

"What's there to understand? I think... a man named Bob Geldof said it best. 'And he can see no reasons, 'cause there are no reasons, what reason do you need to die?'. I-- I can't explain it any more. It just-- happened."

He shook his head, I saw him out of the corner of my eye, still afraid to really look at him and see what he was thinking.

"These things don't just happen."

"They do when you're--" I cut myself off.

"When you're what?"

"Me. Crazy. I don't know. It happened." I rubbed at my hand, stopped when it hurt. "I really don't know what else to tell you."

"Tell me-- tell me you won't ever-- ever do it again." His voice was shaky. Sam's voice is never supposed to be shaky...

"Could've done worse. I was thinking about it all that week... Never knew why, just-- very preoccupied by things. Weird things. Dates. Things that happened, that must happen every day, but little things change them and make them important to you. People I never met who died. Why I didn't, when maybe I should have."

"You shouldn't have!" He said quickly, sharply, grasping my shoulders. "You shouldn't have, and you didn't, and you're alive!"

"I found out-- my heart stopped, in the hospital. What if it hadn't started again?"

"Don't do this..."

"And why should I be the guy who lives?"

"Nobody died that night."

"That night." I snorted. "What made that night different from all the other nights? It wasn't Passover, I can tell you that much. I-- I just can't help feeling like-- like maybe I'm supposed to be dead. And everything makes me think that-- reminds me-- I never knew why, you know? Why I was thinking those things, but I couldn't stop thinking them. And people did so die that night, it's a fact and you can't argue it."

"No one we know, no one we care about, no one who was the-- *supposed* to be there."

"I thought about-- how close, and... I mean, my heart *stopped*! Usually when that happens, you die!"

"But you didn't! Because you weren't supposed to!"

"Everyone else does. Did."

"What--? No! What do you mean everyone else-- That's just-- You know it--"

"Why do I always lose people? When I love someone, it just-- if I care about someone, they die. If I'm in a relationship, it dies."

"You're generalizing. You know that isn't all true."

"Have you ever seen a Thanksgiving at my house? Neither have I, since-- Just, since. You know why? There aren't any. Why bother, right? When everyone's gone, and-- and no one can ever stand *me* long enough to-- So *I* never--"

His arms wrapped around me, tight. "Stop. Don't think those things. You know what? You're not dead, and I'm not dead. Let's not change that, okay? And don't say no one can ever stand you long enough for a real relationship. I've known you for *years*, and-- I mean, I know it's not the same as *that* kind of relationship, but I'm still here."

"Don't-- don't tell anyone?" I sniffed. "About-- how-- the chicken?"

"Who knows?"

"You, me, and an accredited therapist."

"Then I won't tell a soul." He kissed the side of my head.

"You are still here..." I reasoned.

"And you're still here."

"It could've been all of me." I said absently, looking back over to the curtains.

"Don't make me live through that..." He whispered, holding me closer, rocking me. "Don't you ever make me live through that... because I don't know how I could take it."

"Sam..."

"I think I'd have chickens of my own if you did something like that..."

"Well..." I squeezed him back. He felt solid. Real. Not like so much of my life lately. "I wouldn't wish chickens on you, Sam."

"Promise me." His voice was firm, a choked and determined whisper.

"I promise. I won't give you chickens-- or babies."

"Josh, if you gave me babies, it would be a medical miracle."

I laughed. "Well, we could give it a shot, but I doubt it'd happen."

"You should go to bed." He ended the embrace we'd been in. "If you want, I can come by tomorrow morning and we can carpool, though."

"Aren't I a little out of your way?"

"No." He smiled, smoothing back my hair. "You're never out of my way."

~FIN~

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