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Bad Company

Aftershocks 21.2: Mug Shot

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Aftershocks 21.2: Mug Shot

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TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: The female of the species is more deadly than the male.
CHARACTERS: House, Chase, Cuddy, Cameron
RATING:
R for language and themes (gen fic).
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.


Mug Shot



There is an uninvited object sitting on House's desk.

He crab-walks over to it, glaring suspiciously at the foreign thing, which appears to be a large thermal coffee mug. It's one of the "travel" breed, tall and capacious and with a brushed steel exterior. Its lid is on the desk, leaning against the mug's side. A rolled sheaf of papers juts out from the cup's top.

This whole questionable setup would reek of James Wilson, if only James Wilson were here. Which he isn't, and won't be for a while, and many thanks to whatever idiot just chose to remind House of that.

House can hear the voice of his father telling him again that he's lucky. His friend is alive. Angry, bitter, one-handed and suffering, but alive and spending at least half the day asleep in that damn hospital bed.

Wilson ... if you stretched him out on an air mattress in the middle of a swimming pool, he'd probably point due north.

House snorts at that idea. It's funny to think of Wilson turning into a compass, because he kind of always was. He was the thing House always carried in a pocket, forgetting about it until he got a little lost. Wilson had always been a necessary instrument, even when he pointed the wrong way.

The not-left-by-Wilson coffee mug shows no evidence of being the result of terrorist activity. No need to call in the bomb squad or the guys in hazmat suits. Yet. House picks it up and shakes the rolled sheets of paper out onto his desk. They've been that way for a while, it seems, because they do not want to uncurl. He smooths them down with a huffing noise that no one is around to hear.

Every sheet of paper is a recipe for bisque soup. Seafood bisque; artichoke bisque; broccoli-and-cheese bisque; mushroom bisque; tomato bisque; chicken bisque; there are at least a dozen different formulas here and most—shockingly enough—appear to be edible.

Bisque soups and a big insulated mug. There's no name tag on the offering, but whatever elf left it here might as well have written "WILSON" on it in shiny gold letters.

Whoever did this either actually cares about Wilson, or knows that House cares about him and wants to earn brownie points with House. Those two criteria rule out all but two people, one of whom just happens to be shuffling through the door right now.

"Sure you went into the right field, Emeril?"

"What?"

"Or do you think you're Wolfgang Puck?"

Chase cocks his head, scowls and blinks at him. "What?"

"Never mind," says House, tossing his name badge at Chase's chest, where it bounces off and falls to the rug. "Go be me instead. It's fun. You get to take a lot of drugs and hit people with a stick. Gotta get your own stick, though."

With a big, resigned sigh, Chase picks up House's name tag and clips it to his lab coat. He's well trained. He turns and heads for the clinic without another word. House smiles—not only because he's gotten out of clinic hours but because he now knows who the Soup Fairy is.





Cuddy hadn't understood a word that he said. Well, at least she hadn't admitted it. She had insisted that she'd had nothing to do with the Travel Mug of Mystery, and then she'd wanted to know why he wasn't in the clinic where he belonged.

Next time, House will remember that in the original stories, fairies weren't all gumdrops and cotton candy. They were powerful, capricious beings who would turn you into a hedgehog just for kicks.

Or they could send you down into Hades to get sneezed upon by a six-year-old whose sinuses were currently producing a sea of pea-green snot. Whatever House is getting paid, it's not enough to justify this kind of thing. What he really, really wants (other than freedom, his leg not to hurt, a few million tax-free dollars and lots of sex) is a very large mug of coffee.

The Evil Soup Fairy has sent Chase to the ER, and it's Foreman's day off. Fortunately for House, his remaining fellow is a perfectly capable fetcher of hot beverages.

As soon as the booger boy is gone, House uses some paper towels and alcohol to wipe the worst of the stuff off his clothes. Then he pages Cameron. She's going to hate him for this, which makes it even better: she's amusing when she's mad.





"In that nice shiny mug," he specifies. He's sitting on his rolling stool, using his cane to push himself a few inches to either side, back and forth. "The one that holds, like, a quart. Just what I need to survive the next two hours."

"You know that was for Wilson," she says, crossing her arms over her chest. Well, well, well. So the fairy wasn't Cuddy after all.

"Yep. And now I know where it came from," he retorts. "Surprisingly unsentimental. Was the gift shop out of teddy bears?"

"You should have waited to piss me off until after I brought the coffee." Leaning back against the exam room counter, she waits for his response—any reason he can give her to put sugar and not salt (or something worse) in his drink.

"You've gotta admit that was a weird present. For one thing, you seem to think I can cook." He can, in fact, but she doesn't need to know that.

"I think you're resourceful enough to get whatever you want. But," she qualifies it, smirking at him, "not from me."

"I'll give it to him, okay? Cross my cold, dead heart. I'll even ... figure something out about the soups. A change of diet might make him less bitchy."

"Maybe you should try it too, then," she says, and saunters (when did Cameron learn to saunter?) out the door.

Cameron doesn't know it, but those recipes are already tucked neatly into the inside pocket of House's leather jacket. She's gotten it right this time. He wonders whether telling her so would increase the chances of her actually bringing him that coffee.
 
 
  • "This whole questionable setup would reek of James Wilson, if only James Wilson were here. Which he isn't, and won't be for a while, and many thanks to whatever idiot just chose to remind House of that."

    oof! i can just picture the way house reacts to that in my head.

    i liked the way you referred to wilson as being something house forgets about until he needs him. very true sometimes.
  • House snorts at that idea. It's funny to think of Wilson turning into a compass, because he kind of always was. He was the thing House always carried in a pocket, forgetting about it until he got a little lost. Wilson had always been a necessary instrument, even when he pointed the wrong way.


    Oh, so much love for this part...
  • (Anonymous)
    "Whoever did this either actually cares about Wilson, or knows that House cares about him and wants to earn brownie points with House. Those two criteria rule out all but two people"
    Three, but it's so sad that in the large hospital that Wilson has devoted his life to House can only think of only one person who cares about Wilson (I'm assuming Chase fell in the latter category).
    Count me in as loving the Wilson-as-compass metaphor.
    Taiga
  • Greetings!

    Wonderful combination of humor and pathos.

    "The not-left-by-Wilson coffee mug shows no evidence of being the result of terrorist activity. No need to call in the bomb squad or the guys in hazmat suits. Yet."

    "Next time, House will remember that in the original stories, fairies weren't all gumdrops and cotton candy. They were powerful, capricious beings who would turn you into a hedgehog just for kicks."

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA to both! :lol

    And...
    "Cameron doesn't know it, but those recipes are already tucked neatly into the inside pocket of House's leather jacket. She's gotten it right this time. He wonders whether telling her so would increase the chances of her actually bringing him that coffee."
    ...is just the perfect combination of the two. *vision of comedy/tragedy masks*

    -Katrina


    • PS - Oh, yes, and there was the simply delightful "There is an uninvited object sitting on House's desk." What a wonderfully perfect description!!! -K
  • Awesome, awesome, awesome!!!
    God I loved this description of House approaching the mug He crab-walks over to it, glaring suspiciously at the foreign thing, which appears to be a large thermal coffee mug. It's one of the "travel" breed, tall and capacious and with a brushed steel exterior.

    And this It's funny to think of Wilson turning into a compass, because he kind of always was. He was the thing House always carried in a pocket, forgetting about it until he got a little lost. It says that House knows he's taken Wilson for granted. An absolutely perfect metaphor - David Shore eat your heart out - too bad you're not this clever!!

    And so much love for this description of the mug - The not-left-by-Wilson coffee mug

    I also liked the exchange between Cameron and House. And Cameron's come back to House's Wilson's been bitchy remark Maybe you should try it too, then

    I hope we get a chapter on House attempting make some of these cream-based soups.
  • What everybody else has said, plus my appreciation for highlighting how much Cameron has learned and grown over the course of the show to the person she is now.
  • This piece has so much (humor, great metaphor, hurt and soupy comfort to come) packed into such a delightful small package.

    Writing like this is inspiring, I feel I should go over my own fic and take out all the unnecessary words.

    Thank you!
    (Joining the crowd in loving the compass metaphor.)
  • Count me among those who just love the Wilson-as-compass metaphor. (As if there was any doubt . . . :) )

    Cross my cold, dead heart. Hehee. You gotta love House for saying stuff like that to Cameron. It's so absolutely true to his character, and her riposte to his line is so terrifically zesty.
  • You guys have me so paranoid I spent most of the fic being worried that this was some conspiracy to physically poison Wilson to go along with the psychological poison. I’m suffer from post-traumatic stress too. *runs off to make herself comforting tomato bisque and grilled cheese. :)
  • house....can cook...?

    love this chappie!
    love cameron doing something helpful for once!
  • I just love those last few lines of repartee. Cameron!snark is underappreciated.

    Other favorite parts here... House's remark about fairies being capricious, the paragraph about the clinic and what he really, really wants (you know he'd say it like the Spice Girls did), and his father's voice in his head telling him to be grateful.

    P.S. With all those recipe descriptions, you made me go out and get cream of chicken soup yesterday.
  • LOL for House tricking Cameron into giving herself away. But (I can't believe I'm saying this!) good for her for sauntering!

    So House can cook *and* sew (when he wants to). I wonder what other skills he won't let anyone else see.

    It's so interesting how even little things -- like his offhand thought of the compass -- make House pause and reflect on Wilson. Maybe because the two of them are unable to talk things out openly?

    I always worry a bit after I read a lighthearted chapter... what if you're making us let down our guard for something scary in the next?
  • Don't mind me, I'm rereading.

    It's funny to think of Wilson turning into a compass, because he kind of always was. He was the thing House always carried in a pocket, forgetting about it until he got a little lost.

    I love this comparision, because House is admitting that he does need Wilson, but before he didn't acknowledge his importance. I realize I missed some subtle details my first time reading this, mostly because you guys had us in a blind panic 24/7. Martin is so scary.
  • Ah, I did indeed complain too soon ;). Actually, Cameron learned to snark and saunter right around the middle of S2, as House should well remember. Her line here is actually quite reminiscent of the time she starts to tell House that love is similar to happiness and then decides that maybe she needs to choose a more relatable example. And how did House not think of her as one of the people who cares about both him and Wilson? Wilson has been Cameron's mentor, or at least tried to be, which seems appropriate given that they are damaged in similar ways. I could go on, but I will have mercy ;). Anyway, I'm very glad that Cameron got it right, and I also hope to see House whipping up some bisque for Wilson soon.
  • Haha!! :D I love it...

    "The not-left-by-Wilson coffee mug shows no evidence of being the result of terrorist activity."

    Can I marry this line? Please?
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