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Bad Company

Aftershocks 10.2: Nightfall

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Aftershocks 10.2: Nightfall

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Mare littlemoon
TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: It's not supposed to be this quiet with Wilson around.
CHARACTERS: House, Wilson.
RATING:
R for language and themes.
WARNINGS: Details the aftermath of events in Bad Company, a rough, violent story. Aftermath isn't always pretty; may distress some readers. Adult themes and adult language.
SPOILERS: No.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Never will.
NOTES: The pieces of this shattered story are numbered. The first number signifies the number of days that have elapsed since the original event in Bad Company; the second number signifies when the fic occurs during that day.



Nightfall


While House has eaten, done dishes (no sense fighting over it now), and played Grand Theft Auto, Wilson has slept.

He has slept right through South Park and Reno 911!. Neither show is as funny as House remembers. Not once does he laugh. He had thought that he'd feel a lot better once Wilson was here and safe, but everything still seems all wrong.

Of course it's all wrong, Einstein. Got any more astute observations?

It's almost ten, television is crap, and Wilson hasn't had any dinner. The hospital provided packets of some kind of Powdered Food Substance, but House thinks that can wait for morning. Somehow he can't abide the thought of running the blender, shredding the quiet atmosphere of the apartment. He gimps off to the fridge, yanks open the door and pulls out a beer for himself and a can of Ensure for Wilson. Ensure: Nectar of the geriatric ward. 

It could've been worse. As bad as this is, it could have been so much worse. Those visions he'd had in that alley could well have come true. A few weeks of Ensure is nothing compared to a lifetime of Depends. It's nothing.

He could've died. 

House stands over the bed, the head of which is raised at a gentle angle so that Wilson's ruined nose won't swell and prevent him from breathing. It helps with watching TV, too—or it will help tomorrow, when Wilson's awake again. The journey home took a toll on him.

Now the question is: How does one wake a sleeping, mutilated, heavily drugged Wilson? Under normal circumstances he'd jolt Wilson awake with an abrupt exclamation, or prod him with the cane, or grab his shoulder and shake it. 

"Wilson?" 

No response. House raises his voice a little and tries again.

"Wilson. Come on. I fixed ... I brought ... " He drops back into quiet tones without meaning to. "Come on, Wilson. Wake up." 

The building pressure in House's chest is completely irrational. Wilson's just conked out on opiates; he's always been a heavy sleeper anyway. It's nothing to worry about, except that badly injured bodies can develop clots. Sometimes people do have strokes in their sleep.

House turns back to the coffee table, where he sets down the beer and the can of liquid pablum. He rubs his hand briskly against his leg, drying the condensation from it and warming the skin. He's crazy. It shouldn't matter if his fingers are cold. It never would've mattered before.

He starts to reach for Wilson's arm, but his hand won't obey. For a moment he doesn't know why, and then he realizes that he's picturing what must have happened that day. There'd been five men—five animals. Wilson might not know whose hand this is. He might lash out in blind panic, the way he did when he broke that EMT's nose. That would be no big deal, but Wilson's got too many broken bones, too many stitches and staples holding him together. 

Okay. Eliminate anything the thugs might have done to him. No yelling. No grabbing or shaking. What's that leave?

It leaves ... oh. Well, that's ... oh.
He takes a deep breath. Well. What the hell.

Moving forward, he reaches out again, turns his palm inward and strokes the back of his hand across Wilson's cheek. What does it matter, really? He's already given Wilson a shave, for crying out loud. He repeats the soft motion, his fingers light and warm on Wilson's bruised skin.

Wilson's eyes finally open, blinking in bleary confusion, darting sideways to identify the source of the touch. There's such uncertainty there, in the way those eyes widen as Wilson realizes that yes, that's the hand of his bastard best friend. There's such simple beauty in the fact that Wilson is alive, conscious, and recognizes him. 

House turns away, picks up the Ensure, shakes the can and pops it open. Without a word he takes the package of straws from the coffee table, picks one and drops it into the drink. As soon as Wilson takes it, House swiftly limps out of the room, leaving his beer untouched. He has to pee. He needs a shower. He needs to be in the bathroom where Wilson can't see him. He needs to stand there beneath the hot spray of water, remembering how to breathe.

He needs to be where there's water all around him and he won't even have to know it if he cries.
 
 
  • He needs to be where there's water all around him and he won't even have to know it if he cries.


    *cries* Very powerful. I am enjoying this whole series. Thanks :)
  • (Anonymous)
    I think I'm crying too.
  • D:

    I could see the last part clear in my head. The sudden jolt of fear House feels and the realization that he just might lose Wilson in the most unexpected way possible.... *cries*

    He needs to be where there's water all around him and he won't even have to know it if he cries.
    My goodness, what a powerful line.


    You guys are brilliant. I always tend to love hurt and comfort in such a sickly fashion, and you guys make it so excellent I'm loving every bit of the twinge of pain I feel xD
    • *smiles*

      We've had a number of folks tell us that this isn't the "usual" brand of hurt/comfort; we suspect that's because it's hard to know who's really hurting the most this time.

      Thanks so much for commenting. And, yeah. That last line just about killed us, too.
  • I've been terrible about commenting on this series, but of course I read every one of them, and this one is probably the best yet.
    • *smiles*

      We thought you'd been great about leaving feedback, actually. Relax. We know you're out there watching.

      This piece was a very unexpected gift. House just started quietly talking to one of us, late last night, and this was the result.

  • Mmm, the joy of long sagas is that they can have their subtle way with us. Nothing has to be rushed. I find myself really looking forward to each day's installment, which is odd b/c before I was afraid it would be too upsetting. Instead, the delicate spiderweb of motivations and reactions is addictive. :D

    Poor, poor House. Each hurdle seems just so hard to climb over (especially with a bad leg) and once he's over it... there's another hurdle. The combination of hope and dread is really shredding House's armour... I wonder what's underneath. Something tender and afraid perhaps.

  • What a nice surprise to see you posted a chapter on saturday!

    And I almost cry here... Almost!

    There's such simple beauty in the fact that Wilson is alive, conscious, and recognizes him.

    This so perfectly translates all the things that are going through House's mind: his fear, his relief, his guilty, his worries, his love for his friend.
    No wonder he needs water to disguise his tears.

    Beautiful!
  • Greetings!

    "This piece took us by surprise at the last minute. Yes, we know we said we wouldn't be posting anything on the weekends. Everybody lies."

    *hehehehehe* Well, it makes up for the only-one-post yesterday.... *content*

    "It shouldn't matter if his fingers are cold. It never would've mattered before."

    "There'd been five men -- five animals. Wilson might not know whose hand this is. He might lash out in blind panic, the way he did when he broke that EMT's nose. That would be no big deal, but Wilson's got too many broken bones, too many stitches and staples holding him together. "

    "Moving forward, he reaches out again, turns his palm inward and strokes the back of his hand across Wilson's cheek. What does it matter, really? He's already given Wilson a shave, for crying out loud. He repeats the soft motion, his fingers light and warm on Wilson's bruised skin."

    House is willing to do the work required... this is why he has earned forgiveness....

    Just made the connection... that's how you touch an animal... palms can grab and hurt, the back of a hand is safe.

    "As soon as Wilson takes it, House swiftly limps out of the room, leaving his beer untouched. He has to pee. He needs a shower. He needs to be in the bathroom where Wilson can't see him. He needs to stand there beneath the hot spray of water, remembering how to breathe.

    He needs to be where there's water all around him and he won't even have to know it if he cries."

    Stunningly crafted... so beautiful... so sad.... One step at a time....

    And I agree w/purridot... there is something quite wonderful about living a story this way... very similar to how you live it when you write.

    Thank'ee's so much, ladies!!!
    -Katrina

    PS - May I make a request? On Monday, I shall be leaving town for a week for a show. Would it be possible for Monday's editions to be posted before 2p EDT or so? I doubt I'll have internet where I'm going, and it would be nice to get a little more story b/f I go. If that's not possible, that's ok. I got today's post, which was more than I was expecting. Thank'ee's! -K








  • Oh, mercy, but that last line is so beautiful and it hurts so much.

    Once again, what's stunning about this is how it's changed so many small details of their lives. House now has to consider how to wake up Wilson, has to change everything he does around him. It's not just Wilson that's broken into a thousand pieces. It's House, too, and it makes me shiver, because that's exactly what Martin and Georgie intended.

    And the line about not wanting to turn on the blender -- shredding the quiet atmosphere -- is just magic.
    • *nods*

      That's it exactly. There's something of a shock for House in having Wilson in this comfy, familiar place. In a way it simply underscores how strange and difficult everything is now. He has to think hard about things that used to be automatic.

      Glad you enjoyed this. It was a very unexpected gift for us.
  • You bastards!

    That was a killing last line.
  • Oh, that is beautiful. Beautiful and heartbreaking. Everyone, especially Wilson, has always wanted House to act a little more considerately, to be more sensitive to other people's feelings, but for it to happen like this, because of this ... no one would have wished for it.
  • *runs off to shower*
    *is totally not crying*
    *really*
    *I mean it*
    *everybody lies*
  • I'm greatly enjoying this whole series, although I don't think I've commented yet. This part was very touching. I wonder if there will be a reaction-shot from Wilson's POV? It must have been very confusing for him to have House wake him up by petting him, then shove a can of Ensure at him and run away. Our poor boys.
    • Yes, we've thought of just how weird this scene must have been from Wilson's perspective. Yet he isn't talking to us about it, so that part is left for us to imagine.

      petting him Hee. Oh, House would so whack you with his cane for putting it that way. We, however, are very amused.

      Thanks so much for the note. It's great to hear from new de-lurkers.
  • Isn't it great how little parts just sneak up on you and demand to be written? Getting some lovely ones from you guys as a result!

    And yeah, curious about what Wilson would think to House's reaction. I do have a feeling that Wilson might have a suspicion about what happened.

    I am wondering how many parts there will be by the end of this. You ad said around 30...now I have seen 3 or 4? pop up that didn't seem to be in the plans. (which gives a nice thrill and a giggle because I don't want to see this end. Ever. :D)
    • Ah, *ahem*, we just did a quick count, and this one is number 27. And our original estimate, when we started posting, was around 60 fics and ficlets. Which is probably going to be closer to 70, or 75, at the rate we're going. If the characters keep talking, we'll keep writing. It might be finished by the time the new season starts. Maybe. :)
  • Oh, wow. That was amazing. The tense vulnerability in this scene just killed me.
  • *delurks* This is brilliant, and not once have you veered into melodrama.
    I am such a huge fan of this collaborative venture. *fangirls*
    • Welcome, delurker! We love to see you.

      Thank you so much for reading, and the fangirling! We don't know if we've ever been fangirled before. *are flattered*
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