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Bad Company

Aftershocks 37.1: Hurry Up and Wait

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Aftershocks 37.1: Hurry Up and Wait

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TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: Wilson has some time to think it over.
CHARACTERS: Wilson, Chase
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.


Hurry Up and Wait


Wilson stares at the door and tries not to wonder what the hell will happen next.

He made it through the night, barely, with the aid of more drugs than he really ought to be taking at this point. He had kept waking up with this awful feeling as if he were wrapped up in cotton, a thin layer of padding between himself and his horrible dreams. Once morning had come he'd slept in earnest, the combination of daylight and Chase (and a little more oxycodone) serving to push back his terror far enough to let him rest.

It's afternoon now and there's nothing on TV, nothing left to do around the apartment since Chase already made breakfast (such as it was) and cleaned up the kitchen. 

Wilson has already showered -- and had to resist, once again, the urge to scrub himself raw. He's brushed his teeth as well as he can, combed his hair, put on loose, clean clothes; he's all dressed up, but where could he go? He stands at the window and looks at the sidewalks, the buildings with their cheery window boxes full of marigolds.  Martin's out there somewhere. There might be more guns, another limo ride. Is it better to be a moving target, or a sitting duck?

House would know; House knows Martin. Unfortunately.

Chase seems to be at loose ends. He hasn't suggested that they play any games, hasn't tried to make small talk, and Wilson's glad for that. House must have told Chase to sit and stay, instead of coming to work, and how unfair is that? A man should know if he's being asked to risk life and limb.

It's not fair, but Wilson's not going to tell him, either.

Chase has taken up residence at House's desk. He's working on something on his own notebook computer, an article perhaps, or letters to loved ones in Australia, or oh, what the hell does it matter. Wilson can see the computer screen and he's somewhat relieved that Chase isn't surfing for porn. How wrong is it, Wilson wonders, that I've got all this time to waste and I don't even want to think about sex? 

He doesn't want to think about anything, really, and he curses his brain for its unwillingness to shut up.

House hasn't called, except for that thing at some ungodly hour last night, when the ringing phone had woken Wilson into an instant state of panic. He hadn't bothered explaining to Chase that House has been having nightmares. House thinks he's been hiding that unpleasant fact, but Wilson knows. If he doesn't tell Chase, though, it's not because he's guarding House's secret. Already there are a dozen unasked questions flickering behind Chase's calm gaze. It's bad enough.

Wilson turns away from the window, climbs back into bed and wonders whether sleep will come again. 





Sleep does not come, but it's time for General Hospital anyway.  In spite of himself, Wilson turns on the TV. The phone still doesn't ring. Wilson decides not to hate himself for wishing that it would.

Whatever it is that's between him and House, he can't name it. He's already tried every word he can think of, even the ones he dislikes, and none of them fit.

What fits is an image from a campy horror flick he saw as a kid, in which the monster could be shot, burned, crushed, stabbed in the back, or anything else you could imagine -- and it wouldn't die. It would slow down for a while; it would wail in ghastly agony; it would drag its sundered limbs back to its body and reunite by supernatural force.

There is no name for that, and that's how it is with him and House.

He holds up his right hand to the lamplight, inspecting the bruise and the little red cuts where his knuckles met with House's teeth. It was a fantastic right hook, and he's not the least bit sorry; it was so satisfying to watch the bastard reel in shock as his lip began to bleed. It's about time House bled a little. Being shot by a stranger didn't count, not for House, who has so little fear of death. But if Wilson drew blood, that was a whole other thing.

House doesn't need to know this yet, but the thing he's afraid of is not going to happen. Not now and not ever.

It's something Wilson had tried to imagine in the months after Tritter compelled House to fight authority and damn the torpedoes. House's case had been dismissed, but Wilson had remained on trial, with House's fury looming over him like a  sinister hand. He had dreamed of building another life, far from this place. In the weeks before he'd been taken, he'd gone so far as to reasearch other hospitals, other towns, other states. As if he really would have done it.

He's given up telling himself that lie. There are other sanctuaries, but none where he could stay for long. House knows him, knows all the weaknesses, all the dirty spots, all his lies and betrayals. All the things Wilson would inevitably take with him wherever he went. House knows all the worst of it, and still House is there. He had abused and neglected Wilson for months, but he'd always been there. When it really, desperately mattered, House had still taken him home.

His gaze wanders over this now-too-familiar interior. He's reclining in the bed House brought in for him, with House's quilt wrapped around his shoulders. On the wall near the window there's a calendar. It features fluffy Golden Retriever puppies, altered expertly with a felt marker. Now they're suffering from mangy lesions, and they all have horns, and fangs that drip blood. Below their feet there's a wild jumble of multicolored X marks: House has been crossing off the days until the wires come out of Wilson's jaw.

If he left, he knows just how his new life would be. He'd dive into his new job, and he would lock these memories away. He'd pretend he'd never been here, never lived sad and alone in a hotel, never lied to the police or walked away from House on Christmas morning. Soon he'd have a beautiful lover, a dozen pleasant acquaintances and not a friend in the world. It's just how he is. He doesn't show himself; he doesn't know how. House, even at his worst, is the one true thing that Wilson has.

To trade that friend for anything is not a deal he can make. The grey-eyed psychopath had asked him whether House was worth all this. Of course he isn't; no one is, but it's an irrelevant question. A fifty-foot rope is worth ten dollars, unless you're hanging off the side of a cliff. House is non-negotiable.

But House, the rotten son of a bitch, can go on being afraid for a few more hours.





He wakes to the sound of the blender running and realizes that he dozed off before the end of the soap. It takes a moment for him to remember that it's Chase in the kitchen.

"Wish there was something better I could get you," Chase says, placing the huge cup on the coffee table. Wilson thinks of tomato bisque soup, and feels ill. Something in his mind whispers, Get me House; he mentally claps his hand over that murmuring voice.

"It's obvious you punched him," Chase states, quite abruptly but in a soft voice. "And I don't need to know why. But I know that you've been lying about the attack." Wilson shuts his eyes and sighs through his nose. This is so not what he needs right now.

"Don't worry. I'm not Cameron. Not going to broadcast it on CNN. I don't even want the real story. I just thought it might help to know you don't have to keep telling me the fake one."

"How?" Wilson asks, and counts on his expression to fill in the rest of the question.

"House. Not once did he ask what you were lying about. Therefore, he already knew. And obviously," Chase continues, looking around them with a faint smile, "he sides with you. I'm not saying you shouldn't have hit him," he adds, "because you must have had a damn good reason."

"I did," Wilson affirms, and reaches for his cup. "Your point?"

"I'm -- you've got no way of knowing. When you came in, he went completely insane. Security had to drag him away. Literally. I was with you at the time, but I heard all about it from the ER staff."

Wilson turns his head, not really wanting to hear this today. He doesn't figure on Chase's skill at reading people, until it's too late.

"Look, I don't want to know exactly what happened or why," Chase admits, slowly, "but. I can't help wondering. Is this somehow House's fault?"

"Yes. No." He puts down the cup and hides his eyes beneath his hand. "It -- God. If you tell him --"

"I won't."

"Partly. Bes' answer I can give. Unf'seen consequences. His fault, but he couldn'a known." There's an amazing relief in saying even that much. "House din't know. Tha's not why I hit 'im. Other reasons f'that."

"A whole list, no doubt."

Wilson sighs again. "He -- all I'm gonna say's he -- was tryin'a protect me. An' he picked a really stupid way." And now, says that same irritating part of Wilson's mind, we're both lying to you, not telling you about ..

He's startled out of that thought when he hears Chase softly chuckle.

"Sorry. It just reminds me of someone else I know," Chase says, and he's obviously suppressing his smile. "Who occasionally does some, ah, remarkable things. For the same reason, and with similar results." Chase makes a hasty retreat back to the kitchen and then there's the sound of water running, dishes being washed.

It's amazing how hard it can be to swallow a liquid lunch. There are strawberries in this stuff today, and they taste acidic and sour. He forces down enough to prevent nausea from the meds he's got to take, and then inspects his hand again. He can still see the cop, still hear that soft, reasonable voice. You're doing the right thing, Doctor Wilson.

Same reason; similar results. The only difference was that House chose to hit someone else.
  • Greetings!

    Gods, but one must appreciate that f-d up friendship of theirs. All the missteps and misunderstandings, and yet....

    Hopefully, things won't be put to too great a test in chapters to come. (Although overall, I should know better than to say such things. Y'all are, as has already been mentioned by so many, evil. :-D)

    -Katrina
  • What fits is an image from a campy horror flick he saw as a kid, in which the monster could be shot, burned, crushed, stabbed in the back, or anything else you could imagine -- and it wouldn't die. It would slow down for a while; it would wail in ghastly agony; it would drag its sundered limbs back to its body and reunite by supernatural force.

    There is no name for that, and that's how it is with him and House.


    BEST DESCRIPTION EVER. Seriously. That is the most apt way of explaining House and Wilson's relationship that I have ever heard. Just beautiful. This whole part is really, really beautiful. I love how Wilson just knows that, however angry he is with House (and, for that matter, however angry House might be with him), they are inextricably a part of each other's lives.

    Loved this line, too: A fifty-foot rope is worth ten dollars, unless you're hanging off the side of a cliff. House is non-negotiable.

    Just a really stunning chapter all around. Good job! <3
  • (Anonymous)
    "A fifty-foot rope is worth ten dollars, unless you're hanging off the side of a cliff."
    "Same reason; similar results. The only difference was that House chose to hit someone else."

    That's genius, right there. This story is amazing. You're all amazing. - Taiga
  • I love the purity of Wilson's feeling of deep connection to House, in spite of the messes in which they find themselves. It's like a lighthouse beam on a stormy night. My heart feels so warmed and yet, it makes me a little teary-eyed too :-)
  • I love Wilson's thought processes in this. He's doesn't flinch from what's true about himself, no matter how bleak the conclusion.

    House, even at his worst, is the one true thing that Wilson has.

    That is so right and yet so sad when one considers the consequences of Wilson's devotion to his "one true thing."
  • Sometimes all we need is an outside perspective to realize how much we have. Chase deserves a million lollipops for this. Seriously.

    Even if Wilson is in hell, it is something that House chooses to stay with him. Although for House, he deserves his hell while he would give anything to help Wilson escape all of it.

  • So complex. Wilson still wallowing - well after - the whole Tritter betrayal. Still not forgiving himself for the harm he caused. So painful. And somehow this helps him understand the fear and guilt that House is going through now. And he almost needs it - House's fear and anguish. It's what keeps him sane right now I think. The proof of their true friendship AND all the little things that he finally sees that House has always given him.

    • Still not forgiving himself

      Either that, or he figures that if he's going to forgive himself, he'll have to forgive House too.
  • yay for longer chapter!

    I love Chase in this fic! Poor little Wombat (as I call him) he's good at taking care of people, like his mum, and he always wanted to be counted as a friend of House and Wilson.

    And I just have to mention, I know the story is all yours, and I would never want anything to get in the way of its brilliance, but don't you think there could be at least one kiss? Nothing overly sexual, just affection, I know this isn't slash but a kiss isn't that slashy is it? Is there a chance? I think it would be sweet and wasn't sure if it was in the plan. Thanks for writing, you're all brilliant!
    • Thanks for your comments. We'll answer your question as best we can.

      As little sense as it may seem to make, writers often don't have a lot of control over the actions of the characters. There are things the characters will do, and things they won't. We can't simply make them do what we want, or what someone asks us for.

      We're happy that you're enjoying the story anyway. :-)
      • Actually, you gave us so much more than a kiss. There's nothing more senuous, sexy, riveting, beautiful, hot or compelling than a love that transcends traditional notions of love. We get to read House and Wilson's intimate thoughts about the many forms and gradations of their love for each other. We get to feel their need for each other, to peek inside its fragility and understand how it has withstood so much damage. There's been no sex but there has been physical intimacy and in many ways it's more powerful.

        This chapter was amazing. The truth has seeped out and now House and Wilson need to figure out how to get past this. This is often what happens with couples. In the beginning, it looks like the crisis will tear the relationship to shreads but in the end it just makes it stronger. Wilson sees House not telling him of Martin's return as a betrayal while House views it as his desire to protect Wilson from further hurt and trauma.

        I hope you'll continue to let the characters speak to you because afterall it is their story, their truth and it's just perfect :)
  • A most beautiful chapter, I really felt this help readers to get into Wilson's head. Also, it is a relieve that now we know Wilson isn't going to leave, and he thinks House is not negotiable.

    love these lines:
    A fifty-foot rope is worth ten dollars, unless you're hanging off the side of a cliff. House is non-negotiable.

    Something in his mind whispers, Get me House; he mentally claps his hand over that murmuring voice.

    Same reason; similar results. The only difference was that House chose to hit someone else.


    Love this chapter, can't wait for Wilson to tell House get his ass back 'home'.




  • There's so much wonderful, introspective information to digest here. It's amazing how clearly you convey such a solid understanding of their friendship. It's so difficult, it seems, for each of them to separate the other out, like they've fused to make one life. Not in a romantic way, but in a way that demonstrates their deeply-rooted, albeit convoluted and screwed up, friendship.

    I really love Chase in this series. I love how he's quietly observant and able to infer so much from what he sees happening around him. :)
  • I think you wrote the best definition of the H/W friendship/relationship/whatever that I've ever read.
    The comparison to that monster was awesome. As was Wilson thinking that House is not negotiable because he is the only one that really gets him.
    Wonderful chapter.
  • Alright. Now I'm all caught up. Which means that now the suspense is going to start killing me even more. lol

    But seriously, guys, this is absolutely brilliant, so eloquently and powerfully written, and... Gah.

    Things I'm still wondering about: House told Wilson that he'd tell him the story about what Martin had done to him. When will he? And was he referring to the stalking him his whole life thing and showing up to spook him? Or did something else happen when they were kids? And, obviously I'm also just incredibly tense about how this all turns out.
  • Your Chase is like the perfect combination of House and Wilson. The best sides of both of them, with House's clearsightedness and Wilson's empathy and the intelligence of both of them - plus the sense to know when to back off which it seems like none of them has. An intelligent and mature child will often understand both his parents better than they could ever understand each other, and Chase seems to play almost the part of House and Wilson's child here.

    A lovely chapter, sad but also hopeful. Especially since Wilson sees so clearly what House means to him, that this whole thing wasn't House's fault, and that House is really not a worse person than himself (just less manipulative and more unlucky). And it must be very cathartic for Wilson to be able to tell Chase even this tiny little bit of what's been going on. I would think getting this somewhat out of his own head and nightmares and into the open will make it easier for him to see things more clearly and to deal with House and reassure him somewhat.

    Hopefully soon. I feel heartsick for House right now.
  • ...wow. I adore how you write Wilson's pondering. It's not that he's naive, or that good to love House "in spite" of everything. It's just... there, and he doesn't deny it. Beautiful.
    Also, I'm a huge fan of your Chase. Unassuming, reassuring without being intrusive, and just fabulous to be around. I do hope nothing bad happens to him.

    *totally wants to see House pining* ;]
  • Mm -- wonderful descriptions of the unkillable monster that is House and Wilson's friendship, House being a priceless necessity despite all his faults, and how much and why Wilson needs him.

    Chase to the rescue again with his incisive yet gently delivered insight. It must be such a relief for Wilson to talk to somebody besides House about what happened, even this much. The laying on of, and release from, guilt is something he so desperately needs to do, but not something he can discuss even with his therapist.

    What worries me is this:

    House doesn't need to know this yet, but the thing he's afraid of is not going to happen. Not now and not ever. [...] In the weeks before he'd been taken, he'd gone so far as to reasearch other hospitals, other towns, other states.

    Because Wilson hasn't reassured House (again) that he's not leaving, never leaving, and House wanted to spy on Wilson's laptop, and if he finds that old research, of course he's going to jump to the wrong conclusion and start this anxious misunderstanding over again.
  • Thank you for summing up the Wilson-House dynamic so perfectly here - If he left, he knows just how his new life would be. He'd dive into his new job, and he would lock these memories away. He'd pretend he'd never been here, never lived sad and alone in a hotel, never lied to the police or walked away from House on Christmas morning. Soon he'd have a beautiful lover, a dozen pleasant acquaintances and not a friend in the world. It's just how he is. He doesn't show himself; he doesn't know how. House, even at his worst, is the one true thing that Wilson has. - and so on... because so little real exploration is given in most fics as to why Wilson sticks to House. It's refreshing to see it written without being some romantic spew or worryingly clinical. This story feels so real.

    Going from this to other fanfiction - or even original stories - is going to be like going from 10mg morphine to 5mg oxycodone in one go. I hope you appreciate me being wracked with withdrawals. Though this is entirely less pleasantly fuzzy than a morphine solute would be.

    Still avidly reading,
    -Nighteyes

    P.S.
    You made me fail at cake-baking. It's a lump of charcoal.
    • Thank you. The four of us share the conviction that Wilson needs House every bit as much as House needs Wilson.

      It's a lump of charcoal.

      That's what timers are for. :-)
  • Fantastic chapter, great allusions to the Tritter arc. I love your Chase.

    "House must have told Chase to sit and stay, instead of coming to work, and how unfair is that?"
    Ah yes, Chase, the golden retriever of the original Cottages.

    "In spite of himself, Wilson turns on the TV. The phone still doesn't ring. Wilson decides not to hate himself for wishing that it would."
    And on the other side of the line, House is hating himself and wishing he could dare to hope that Wilson felt this way.

    "Below their feet there's a wild jumble of multicolored X marks: House has been crossing off the days until the wires come out of Wilson's jaw."
    Crossing off the days until Wilson will leave.

    So nice to see Wilson openly acknowledging to himself the nature of his indissoluble bond with House... and demonstrating that he's no saint by deciding to torture his friend for a little while longer by keeping silent about it.

    I'm guessing Mare wrote this section.
  • (Anonymous)
    Well, I've been slowly reading this one for ... oh, six months? Heh. And I thought I'd wait to the end to comment. It's all so wonderful, I can barely pick out the parts I want to praise in each chapter.

    But this:

    "Soon he'd have a beautiful lover, a dozen pleasant acquaintances and not a friend in the world. It's just how he is. He doesn't show himself; he doesn't know how. House, even at his worst, is the one true thing that Wilson has.

    To trade that friend for anything is not a deal he can make. The grey-eyed psychopath had asked him whether House was worth all this. Of course he isn't; no one is, but it's an irrelevant question. A fifty-foot rope is worth ten dollars, unless you're hanging off the side of a cliff. House is non-negotiable."

    It's the most true, beautiful, perfect answer I've ever seen to that question, "Why has Wilson remained friends with House all those years?"

    I adore your understanding of their relationship.
  • Oh God... Poor Wilson! (Though I've been saying that a lot now.) I love Chase... and Tritter still creeps me out, even when he's only a flashback :P
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