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Bad Company

Aftershocks 22.3: Cruelty

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Aftershocks 22.3: Cruelty

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TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: Right back where they started -- or maybe not.
CHARACTERS: Wilson, House.
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.


Cruelty



Wilson shifts uncomfortably in his recliner-bed. The wrinkled sheets have pressed creases into the backs of his thighs, causing the skin to itch when he moves. When he tries to reach the area to scratch it, his spine and back muscles give him hell. Just another rotten night in his new home. And House, for all his previous efforts, is back to being a complete prick. 

This had to happen. Wilson really should have known.

House has ordered pizza from Mama Leoni's, where they make the best crust in the known universe. Wilson does his best to ignore the scent of Italian sausage and melted mozzarella. He swallows, trying not to actually drool. Hunger is his constant affliction, because a liquid diet is never enough to take away the pangs. House is doing this on purpose, torturing him. Taking his revenge for the attack Wilson mounted a few hours ago.

To add insult to injury, House is also drinking beer. Wilson can almost taste it, cold and clean, faintly bitter, so much more refreshing than ginger ale or juice. Not to mention the soothing effect of the alcohol. Too bad the thugs beat him so badly that they lacerated his liver. The surgical repairs haven't fully healed yet, so he's stuck, unable to eat, or drink, or scream the way he sometimes wishes he could.

Even if he had anywhere else to go, he couldn't get in his car and drive away. He's tried to mimic the necessary motions, sitting up straight (painful), operating his turn signals (clumsy), steering with one hand (Okay until he feigned a sharp turn, which made his shoulder and back hurt.  A lot.) One wrong move and the chipped vertebrae remind him of why he's still on oxycodone. Every way his mind turns it finds another wall, and no way out.

But there is that scrip, isn't there? And he's sore, always sore. Tonight it's worse than it's been in a few days, and if that has anything to do with his fight with House, he'd rather not think about it. There's no reason not to kill the pain and go to sleep and just forget for a while.

Wilson shifts carefully and slides off the bed. He doesn't want the assistance that House doesn't offer. With the liquid oxy in hand, he shuffles slowly into the kitchen and pours a little juice. The dosage is five milligrams, but he measures out seven and then startles painfully at the drawling voice behind him.

"Overmedicating, are we?"

It's uncanny how silently House can move, when he tries. Glaring at him, Wilson defiantly raises the small glass to his lips and sucks down the juice as fast as he can. "Gotta get away f'm you somehow," he says.

"How the mighty have fallen," growls House. "Get out of my way. I want another beer." He gets a bottle from the fridge and rounds on Wilson again. "Oh, stop looking at me like that. What're you gonna do, hit me? Move out?"

Wilson throws the empty glass like a hand grenade. It hits the wall, exploding into a cloud of fragments. The swift movement causes so much pain to Wilson's back that his knees buckle; he sinks to the floor, gasping, his right hand clawing at the cabinets for support. House gives him an inscrutable look—of satisfaction, perhaps—and limps away, sipping his beer. Maybe he doesn't think Wilson belongs on his knees, but this time House is content to leave him there.

The microwave clock shows the agonizing passage of minutes. Ten of them go by before Wilson can muster enough courage to pull himself upright. When he finally does get back into the living room, he's hurting so bad that the extra medication isn't helping much. He hopes it's just a briefly delayed reaction. Right now, he'd almost rather be hit over the head and knocked out cold than wait for the oxy to work.

House seems to watch his every step, clinically cataloging the symptoms. Wilson's taking shallow breaths, trying not to disturb any muscle or bone unless he absolutely must. Almost there, almost to the bed. House approaches him just as he's starting to sit down.

"Go to hell," Wilson wheezes, settling ever so softly on the mattress, hoping not to cause himself any more pain.

"Do you get it now, Wilson? Or do I need to explain that you're miserable, depressed, and taking too many drugs?"

Wilson shuts his eyes, leans haltingly back against the elevated head of the bed, and wills his body to stop hurting. It works, a little. When he looks again House is gone, and then there's the sound of the kitchen microwave. A divine new scent drifts outward and wafts seductively around Wilson's body. That decides it. As soon as he's well enough, Wilson's going to ... beat House to death with his own cane. Yeah. That would be fitting.

Except that House returns, not with a plate of food but with a large, unfamiliar insulated coffee mug. He sets it down on the hinged tray table that's attached to the bed. That extraordinary fragrance is rising from it in steamy curls, compelling Wilson to have a look inside. 

It's tomato soup, but not the usual kind. This is a smooth bisque that's redolent of fresh basil and some kind of cheese. Without a word, House slowly raises the head of the bed a little more, sitting him upright enough to eat, and throws one of Wilson's ubiquitous bendy straws into the cup. Immediately House lurches back to the sofa and turns up the volume on the television, signaling that he has no desire to hear anything Wilson might have to say.

He'd love to refuse this gift, love to knock it off the table instead of eating it. But it smells marvelous, and he's so tired of strawberries and bananas, peanut butter and yogurt. He slips the straw through that gap in his teeth and takes a taste.

The soup is heaven. It's tangy, creamy, salty and rich, the best thing Wilson's had since that horrible day. It's better even than the fried-chicken smoothie Wilson himself had invented. It's so good that he could almost weep.

"I'll tell Mama Leoni you said thanks," mumbles House, and isn't that always the way. Just when Wilson's ready to send him to an early grave, House does some strange and irresistible thing, knocking Wilson's rage away as easily as he might flick a bug off his sleeve.

He waits until Wilson has finished, and then gets up again. Swinging the tray table aside, he takes hold of Wilson's shirt. "That was a really dumb thing you did," he says, as he peels the fabric upward to examine the body beneath. Wilson allows this because he's too tired and sore to fight, and it's been a few days since House last checked him. He knows that if anything even begins to go wrong, chances are that House will spot it first. So he sits still and holds his breath, because while House hasn't hurt him any of the other times they've done this, it's always possible. It would be so like him to poke too hard at a spot he knows is especially tender.

That doesn't happen, though. House is efficient, thorough, and prods only as much as he must. It's as if there's nothing the matter. "Sure you're all right?" he asks, when he fails to find anything to be alarmed about. "Because I paid good money for that soup, and I'm gonna be pissed if you puke it all up."

"Do I look all right? And'm not gonna puke."

"You never answered my question," House says, looking down at him with—what? Anger? Hope? Contrition? This being House, maybe it's all three. Wilson can't even remember what the question was. House's expression changes, this time to something recognizable: annoyance. "Do you get it?" he repeats, and under the exasperation Wilson can hear a dozen layers of hurt.

"Yeah," he replies at last. "I think I do."

He thinks he does get it; he's learned what it is to take a chemical escape route when all others are blocked. He has learned how it feels to be so proud that he'd stay on the floor, in agony, neither asking for nor expecting any help.

He slides cautiously out of bed to go brush his teeth as well as he can, a routine that involves a water pik and a lot of mouthwash. It takes so much longer than it used to, and not only because he's got to use the wrong hand. Every movement of his arm causes stabbing aches in his ribs and back. By the time he's done, the living room is dark except for the dim yellow glow of the range light, coming from the kitchen. They leave that on as insurance that he won't hurt himself if he has to get up in the night. The television's off. House has gone to bed and taken all his contradictions with him.

Well—almost all of them. There's a small cup of juice on Wilson's tray table and a large scrawly note which reads, 3 mg. You need it. Drink. He sighs and waits for the room to stop spinning. The dizziness is a side effect of either the pain, or the oxy, or House, who really ought to come with a warning label. House, who accused him and brought him soup and left him in misery on the floor—it's too much to try and make sense of right now. Probably this gift means I'm sorry, but he'll think about that tomorrow.

This much is certain: if House says you need this, then you do. If there's one thing House knows about, it's pain. The cranberry cocktail tastes bitter and metallic after all that toothpaste and mouthwash, so Wilson gets it down quickly.

A few minutes later, he eases into the first deep, comfortable sleep he's had in two days.
 
 
  • "Do you get it now, Wilson? Or do I need to explain that you're miserable, depressed, and taking too many drugs?"

    Ouch. House so desperately wants Wilson to understand what he (House) has to deal with with his leg and the Vicodin and still he's kind enough to leave the cran-meds. Wilson's physical pain here was wince inducing as he falls to his knees in the kitchen (sigh, and that line about being left on his knees harkening back to that harrowing confession). There's so much to this and to them, it's lovely writing.
  • Greetings!

    Those two apologize in the WEIRDEST ways! Is it the ownership of male genitalia, or just those two examples thereof? :-D

    "He thinks he does get it; he's learned what it is to take a chemical escape route when all others are blocked. He has learned how it feels to be so proud that he'd stay on the floor, in agony, neither asking for nor expecting any help."

    Wow.

    And in spite of it all, House takes care of his friend, here as elsewhere. Who indeed is the unworthy one? *re-watching S3 and getting more furious w/Wilson by the minute*

    -Katrina
    • PS - And it's not just pride - it's fear. What if you ask... and they say no? Much safer to suffer alone than take the risk of rejection. -K
  • House, who really ought to come with a warning label
    So true.

    This is a very realistic and powerful scene. House would never apologize to Wilson before getting across his point.
  • Was the leaving Wilson on the floor mirroring how Wilson left him alone on Christmas?

    After being furious and ready to kill House myself...there is the soup, which I had forgotten about (a weekend is a long time!). I hope this is the end of House's ass-ery!

    And 2 more parts to read! Feel spoiled! :D
  • What this and "No Little Charity" have done, in different ways, is force Wilson into understanding House better by putting him in a similar position -- in pain, helpless, proud, angry, depressed. I like that House continues to be a jerk through it all, in some mix of offense-as-defense and guilt and retribution and hurt.

    House, who accused him and brought him soup and left him in misery on the floor

    And doesn't that just capture how House treats his friends? Two punches for every caress. Hell, Wilson's lucky he got the soup. Season Three House would hardly have bothered.
  • Both House and Wilson's frustration is so completely understandable that it hurts. This seemed like a close shave, and I was really worried when Wilson threw the glass and House initially ignored the painful aftermath. It is amazing how hot food and a thoughtful gesture can help soothe even deep, bleeding wounds.

    I think Wilson *has* been uncomfortably sanctimonious about House's pain medication regime in the past, even if he thought it was for House's own good. But I wonder if possibly by the same token, House had been making light of Wilson's emotional pain (thinking about how Wilson needed antidepressants late in Season 3, though I'm not sure that is part of this universe). These guys learn everything the hard way!

    You know, I can practically taste the soup from here! What a gorgeous, evocative image. I want Mama's recipe!
    • I think Wilson *has* been uncomfortably sanctimonious about House's pain medication regime in the past, even if he thought it was for House's own good. But I wonder if possibly by the same token, House had been making light of Wilson's emotional pain Exactly the way I feel. It's strange how those two can be so blind with each other, and yet so close...
  • Marvelous chapter. Having Wilson throw the glass - not at House, but against the wall - was terribly prescient of you ;). And I thank you on behalf of all short, insightful brunettes who make heavenly soup.
  • Oh damn... So many ups and downs in this chapter and showing the many sides of both of them <3 I'm still wincing for Wilson. And now I want pizza. This story keeps compelling me towards food, I had to go to Popeye's yesterday :P
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