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Bad Company

Aftershocks 13.2: Suds

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Aftershocks 13.2: Suds

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TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY:
Simple things aren't that simple now.
CHARACTERS: Wilson, House.
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.


Suds



The water feels so, so good. Heat seeps like sunlight into the shadowy bruises that still cover his body; it's been almost two weeks and he's still several shades of red, purple, yellow and green. He remembers a piece of sodden newsprint, a ruined page of comics in a puddle on the asphalt. Standing beneath the spray, he shuts his eyes tight and wills all those images to wash down the drain.

House has brought him a bottle of blue shower gel that smells—blessedly—more or less like soap. Wilson's thankful for that; House might have picked lavender or freesia or something. There are two of those girly, fluffy scrubby things to go with it. One is just the puffball, and the other is attached to the end of a long, curving plastic handle. A back-washer. All these items sit in easy reach on a small shelf in the shower. This, Wilson thinks, should be no big deal.

Very shortly he discovers that he's wrong. House had helped him out of the sling, and Wilson was supposed to simply hold his left arm immobile in that same position while he got cleaned up. Tomlinson had said it would work. But the moment the restraint is gone, old patterns re-emerge. He starts to wash with his right hand, and it's awkward, and his left arm automatically begins to move. It wants to take over the task. To keep it still requires a level of concentration which he, drugged and damaged, currently does not possess. Soon, despite all his efforts, that collarbone is throbbing so hard that it feels as if the skin will break.

He stops just for a moment and stares at his surgical incision, a dark red line all the way down his belly. As badly as he's bruised, the cut doesn't stand out the way it otherwise would, but the staples that hold it together make it look like a zipper—either that or a weird miniature railroad. Train wreck, he thinks, and snorts a little, trying to scrub his stomach without letting the mesh pouf snag on the staples.

There are lumps all over his body, swellings beneath the darkened skin. By feel he finds seventeen tender, inflamed spots where he was kicked by someone wearing pointy-toed boots. That damage is deep. Those kinds of bruises take months to go away.

Everything he does hurts in one way or another, but Wilson's not willing to quit. He's not ready to give up on the heat and the lather, or on the satisfying abrasiveness of the scrubber. It's so good, and he feels filthy, as if there's an oily grime clinging to every inch of his body. He knows it isn't really that bad, but for some reason he can't stop trying to get rid of whatever is on him. He ignores the pain that's reaching outward from his spine, ignores the sharp reprimands from his ribs, and shampoos his hair twice.

His abdominal muscles rebel just as the shampoo is running down over his face. The spasm doubles him over, which sets off those chipped vertebrae. The combined pain makes him forget about his arm, and gravity pulls it downward, taking the broken clavicle out of its assigned position.

He isn't aware that he's howling until the water abruptly cuts off and a large white towel flops across his bent back. He doesn't want to be rescued, and he'd protest if it weren't for the pain, which has overthrown both modesty and pride. The howls degenerate into whimpers and gasps, but he still can't straighten himself. He can see his lower legs, his feet, and the pale wet tiles. House's feet are wearing gray socks, which are getting wet now, and House's hands are working the towel quickly downward. The cloth encircles his waist. He perceives only vaguely the small pressure of one towel-end getting tucked beneath the other; at present his main objective is to breathe and not pass out. Still, some small part of his brain issues a silent thanks that House is attempting to preserve whatever dignity he's got left.

There's a stuttering sound, the rubber-tipped feet of the shower chair being pushed into place behind him. "Sit," commands House, and that seems like a pretty good idea. It's painful and it's slow, and he's wobbling at the knees, but he sits. Almost at once, his stomach muscles begin to relax, and the cramps subside into irregular flutters and tugs. It's a small relief; his collarbone and back are not at all ready to forgive him.

A second white towel appears, falling across his shoulders. House leans down into Wilson's field of vision.

"Hold still."

That isn't a problem, since movement equals agony right now. He knows he's crying—the tears of pain are mixing with the water dripping out of his hair—but he doesn't dare try drying his face. He'll do what House said. Hold still. It hurts every time his heart beats, and he'd hold that still, too, if he could.

He's got his eyes shut, but opens them again when he hears House approach. When he tries to look up, his back protests the shifting weight. With a moan, he lets his head tip downward again.

"Told you to hold still," says House, and without further comment he pokes a straw into Wilson's mouth. He's holding a small cup of something or other—and who cares what it is, as long as there's morphine in it. Wilson doesn't ask, doesn't question the dosage or fret about addiction. He drinks until the straw will bring up nothing but air.

"I'd ask what you did to yourself," grumbles House, "but I don't wanna hear it." House had tried to tell him he'd need to use the shower chair, and Wilson had foolishly declined. "Don't move until the morphine kicks in. Gonna listen to me now?"

"Mmmmhhh."

"Good." House's voice has softened. The towel lifts from Wilson's shoulders. He sits there, in too much pain to be as astonished as he should be when House dries his hair and his face. "Gonna take a few minutes," he says, "and I have better things to do than stand here and wait." He drapes the towel across Wilson's back again and gimps out of the room. Wilson can hear him moving back and forth in the hall.

For once, Wilson's thankful that his liquid diet leaves him constantly hungry. The fuzzy opiate warmth spreads through his system with surprising speed. By the time House returns, sling in hand, he's able to straighten up enough to accept it. House leans over him and works quietly, putting the arm into its proper position. He stops, though, with the sling only halfway on. He's staring at something. Looking down toward his left shoulder, Wilson sees that the skin is inflamed. The areas that aren't covered in bruises are a vivid, startling pink.

"Either you're having a reaction to the morphine," House says, "or you were trying to strip off your skin."

"Dunno," mumbles Wilson. The drug is dulling everything, including any sensation from the harsh scrubbing he gave himself. "Fel' greasy. Couldn' get clean."

"If you'd gotten much cleaner, you'd have been bleeding." House finishes fastening the sling in place, and holds out his hand. "C'mon. Back to bed, moron."

That, Wilson thinks, is a wonderful idea. They hobble together into the living room, as Wilson's pain is shrouded ever more thickly in the incoming fog. That must've been a pretty good dose he took. He's practically sleepwalking by the time they get to the bed; he doesn't even notice when the towels fall away from his body as House helps him slide beneath the blankets.

At last the world is soft and warm, and all he knows is sleep.
 
 
  • Though this -- It hurts every time his heart beats, and he'd hold that still, too, if he could. -- is about physical pain on the surface, it says volumes about Wilson's emotional pain. And that made me cry just a little bit.
  • *whimper*

    Oh, Wilson. You need to have a good breakdown and then you can start to feel better, a little at a time.

    House continues to be an excellent caretaker, reading the smallest of signs and working from experience in the other position.

    In other news, you know Wilson totally knows what a loofah is. :D He is fooling no one.
    • Yes, I agree with you about the good breakdown. I have this picture in my head about Wilson having a PTSD moment where he throws his arms up to protect his head, bangs himself in the face with his hand apparatus, and begins sobbing uncontrollably.

      This is what he needs. Release.
    • a good breakdown

      Ahem.

      Stay tuned. Tonight's segments go up soon.

      *smiles wickedly*
  • The part about him scrubbing his skin raw really got to me. Poor Wilson is in so much physical pain it seems to be masking his emotional pain. He feels filthy. As someone else said, the rape was one of the most painful things he endured. And now he has suffered more physical pain because of the emotional pain!

    He needs to heal so he can start to Heal.

    Thanks for the update. I am glad everything was OK yesterday ;^)
  • That was awesome. Wilson tries to "scrub" away his emotional trauma. And I especially liked this line But the moment the restraint is gone, old patterns re-emerge.
    And this line At last the world is soft and warm, and all he knows is sleep. House's immediate reaction to Wilson's screams was articulated so perfectly.
    How is Wilson going to react when he realizes he's nude? Embarassed, frightened, angry?
    • Hm. We suppose that you'll have to imagine Wilson's reaction upon waking up. It's nice, we think, to leave certain open spaces in the story.

      Our next segments (up very soon this evening) happen later. We think you'll approve.
  • God, reading this made my skin itch. I could barely stand it and felt the urge to run and take a shower. I'm going to agree with bironic that Wilson not only knows what a loofah is but even has a prefered brand. I love how good House is at taking care of Wilson and this
    Wilson can hear him moving back and forth in the hall.
    just about broke me, because House knows what it feels and he knows he can't take away the pain. There both powerless.
  • Poor guy :(

    Sad that his happy shower moment was ruined
  • Oh, it's terribly sad to think of Wilson scrubbing himself raw and finding his only respite from the emotional and physical pain in the numby haze of morphine. House at his best here dealing with so much and still being quietly strong (loved the image of him drying Wilson's hair).
    And ending the piece by having everything falling off Wilson, the towel, the pain, cognition and returning to his bed naked in both senses of the word.
  • Greetings!

    Wilson really needs to remember that House has been there before - why on Earth reinvent such a painful Wheel?????!!!!!

    "It hurts every time his heart beats, and he'd hold that still, too, if he could."
    Beautiful line.

    "He's holding a small cup of something or other—and who cares what it is, as long as there's morphine in it. Wilson doesn't ask, doesn't question the dosage or fret about addiction. He drinks until the straw will bring up nothing but air. "
    Yeah, the shoe is def. on the other foot, now... pity the knowledge had to be bought at such a painful price, but the most painful lessons are the deepest learned, so perhaps now it will stick. One can only hope.

    ""I'd ask what you did to yourself," grumbles House, "but I don't wanna hear it." House had tried to tell him he'd need to use the shower chair, and Wilson had foolishly declined. "Don't move until the morphine kicks in. Gonna listen to me now?"
    "Mmmmhhh."
    "Good." House's voice has softened. "
    ""Gonna take a few minutes," he says, "and I have better things to do than stand here and wait.""
    "Wilson can hear him moving back and forth in the hall. "
    Love the gruff caring and concern that suffuses this... you know he's out pacing in the hall, but he leaves Wilson alone to do, as he had wanted it, help, not taking-over. Again, his own knowledge becomes of use, providing a needed silver lining and knowledge base for House and a source of useful information for Wilson, if he will but listen to it.

    "At last the world is soft and warm, and all he knows is sleep."
    Beautiful.

    -Katrina

    PS - Not a loofah. Plastic net scrubby. Loofahs are ex-plant-life and therefore not plastic. *grumbles gently at fellow readers* -K
  • Ow. Ow. Ow.

    Poor Wilson. The pain just seems to be surrounding him like a fog, both inside and out, as though that is all that he can breath.
  • I was going to be a stalker and read but not comment on this ongoing saga (especially considering how, ah, belated I am compared to the other readers) but this chapter really, really resonated me. I had major surgery back in May and of all the things that you think would be the hardest thing to deal with, showering was the worst. I remember the first time I tried it, thinking, just like Wilson, that it would be no big deal. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do by myself, and on the top ten list of the most painful - both physically (just being so damn, damn, damn sore) and emotionally (having to look down and, again, like Wilson, see the horrible bruising and the very things that were holding my skin together).

    There, done with my novel. I just really wanted to...say...that I can't get my words together in my brain. No, I wanted to say that I love this story (and I've got a ways to go) and I just...love the attention to detail and how real everything seems. I mean...really real.

    Yes. I...yes. I may comment again a few pieces ahead, if I've got my thoughts turned into words by then.
    • Oh, thank you so much for this. We love to know that people are still reading and enjoying this story; we put so much effort into it. Reader feedback is never "too late;" it is always delightful.

      This is blackmare -- and it happens that Suds was one of the chapters I wrote. I have a little post-surgical experience myself.

      Hope to hear from you again.

      • Yes, I would have guessed Mare for this one. Something about the poetic opening lines and the explicit demonstrations of House's sensitivity to Wilson's dignity, even as he's pretending that he has better things to do than hover over his friend while the drugs kick in. You may not write slash, Mare, but you write H/W romance of the first order.
        • *smiles*

          Thank you. I write 'em like I see 'em, and what I see on the show is pretty much a romance, regardless of the absence of sex. And if you're liking this, I recommend Damascus by Nightdog. Will leave you feeling very warm and fuzzy. Trust me.
  • I felt Wilson's pain in this chapter so much :( I don't think I'll ever take being able to shower for granted again, either. Thank God for opiates <3
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