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Bad Company

Aftershocks 50.1: Reconstruction

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Aftershocks 50.1: Reconstruction

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TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: They take out old pieces of metal, and put new ones in.
CHARACTERS: House, Cuddy, Wilson
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.


Reconstruction


Wilson hasn't had breakfast or coffee this morning, on account of being scheduled for surgery. The longer he's awake, the worse he gets. 

By the time they get into the car -- which House insists upon driving because he has had plenty of hot, fresh, delicious caffeine -- Wilson looks as bleary and pale as an animated corpse.

"Bet you can't wait to see the Fabulous Doctor Nightingale again," snarks House. Everyone's treating Alan Hollister like he's the Eighth Wonder of the World. The Pioneer of Titanium Rhinoplasty! And he's coming all the way from New York City to fix Wilson's nose. Like it's really that much of a stretch.

"House, shut up," moans Wilson. He's no fun at all when he's like this. 

"I'm just saying that the gallant white knight is a selfish bastard just like everybody else."

"And this matters because?" Wilson's leaning back in his seat, with his eyes closed.

"Because it's true. It's not about giving you back your pretty face; it's about making himself look pretty for his colleagues. And the media. You know he'll get at least two newspaper articles out of it. I bet he'll even get laid."

"Yes, and you're jealous, but did it ever occur to you that maybe he also does want to help?"

"Only to make himself feel good."

"That's how human beings are wired, House," Wilson replies, yawning. "It gives us pleasure to do nice things for other human beings."

"Not me."

"How would you know? You've never tried it."

Now that's the Wilson he knows. House smiles, because Wilson's eyes are still closed and he won't see it. 





God, how long does it really take to give one little oncologist a nice new bionic honker?

They've been in there for two hours. Two hours and ... seventeen minutes, to be precise. Not that House is counting. He's just bored.

He has thought about going into Wilson's office, waiting there. But it feels like opening Pandora's box, letting loose a dangerous hope.

House has found himself unable to walk into that space for weeks now. 

There's the library, but that's all the way across campus and after last night, with the excitement and the sleeping on the sofa, no way in hell is he walking that far.

He forces himself off the bench, down the hall and into the elevator. Forces, because there are invisible chains that want to keep him right there, in the "waiting area," as close as possible to the room in which James Wilson lies unconscious, having his nose rebuilt (Stronger.  Faster.  Better.). Out of titanium. 

Like there's anything House could do if something went suddenly, absurdly wrong. He's being an idiot, and he knows it.

It won't take long to get to the gift shop newsstand and back. If he's going to be an idiot -- and it seems that he is -- he may as well be an idiot who's got something to read.





The sound of clicking heels makes him look up from the Enquirer. There's a distinctive rhythm to Cuddy's stride; he wonders if she knows. She stands in front of him, close enough so he notices that she's wearing a new scent, spicy and subtle.

"Whatever you want, take a number," he says. "Busy here." He looks back down and tries to ignore her, tries to lose himself in the latest sordid adventures of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. 

Her silence bothers him so much that he has to look up again. She's smiling at him, her gentle and genuine smile -- not that calculating one she gets when she's about to go all Spawn of Satan on him. He blinks; he'd expected the Spanish Inquisition, perhaps, but not ... not whatever this is.

"How long before they're finished?" she asks, her voice soft.

"Not sure. At least another hour before he's awake. Why? Is he behind on his staff evaluations?"

"House," she sighs, sitting down on the padded bench beside him, "if I haven't been around it's --"

"You're a busy woman."

"It's because I didn't think either of you wanted me hovering. I did what I knew I could, gave you the time when you needed it. Like today."
 
Today, he'll be playing taxi just as soon as they clear Wilson to go back home. That might be several hours.  House just wants to see him when the surgery is done -- just to make sure that Doctor Do-Right didn't screw anything up.

He rubs his eyes; he's so tired. "So you're hovering now because ...?"

"I want to help him come back, but I don't really know him that well," she says. "I never thought of that very much until this happened."

"He's been your accomplice, your mole, your double agent enough times."

"Only because he worries about you. That part, I know. I know the guy who comes in to work every day, and ... that's not enough."

She looks so lost right now, sitting there trying to figure out what to do about, or for, Wilson. Her eyes are wide and sad, the way they often are when she's not playing Wonder Woman or pretending to be a hardass.

"You're asking me how to handle Wilson." Wonders never cease.

"He called to talk to me about getting back to work, but when I asked what he'd need he --"

"Said he was Superman and told you not to worry, because he's a moron."

"I preferred the way you came back, after your leg. Pushy, bitchy and demanding, I can deal with. At least it's telling me something."

"Fine. He needs a really hot new assistant, and season tickets to the Jersey Devils for himself and a friend."

"House."

"I'll think about it. I might even attempt to talk to him, but I can't make any promises."

"Thank you."

"On one condition."

Her eyebrow quirks up. Now she looks more like the Cuddy he knows and irritates.

"You make dinner tonight. Or buy it and bring it; I don't care. But he'll be flat on his back, and I am not playing both chauffeur and cook in one day."

"See? Pushy and demanding, I can handle."

"I'll give that clue to Wilson, and tell him to go collect the rest. He needs a hobby."

"See you at seven-thirty, House." She smiles again and gets up to leave, trailing that scent -- jasmine and sandalwood -- in her wake.





"You know, darling," says House, looking down into Wilson's glassy, barely-open eyes, "if we keep meeting like this, people will talk."

Wilson's face makes a strange maneuver that appears to be a badly drugged attempt at a smile. For a moment House can see the edges of his upper teeth, pink with a film of blood. That would be from the dozens of little holes in his gums, where the wires were just removed. The guy who yanked 'em out was one of Princeton's own -- the same oral surgeon who put the things in. He had to "assist," as if Hollister the Plastic Surgery God couldn't have handled a simple pair of pliers.

Surgeons are so damn territorial. Each one thinks they own a little piece of Wilson.

"You're never gonna get through airport security again," House continues, just trying to make up for Wilson's seeming inability to talk. "It'll be buses and trains for you from now on."

"Housh," mumbles Wilson, "shud up." 

House does shut up. He may as well, because Wilson has drifted right back to sleep.

  • I'm sorry but it has to be said: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

    Great chapter. I like Cuddy's quiet bewilderment.
  • The thought of the holes in Wilson's gums just squicks me.

    But this is a nice trend of happy little stories. Their world is coming back together. But where's Martin?
    • It's not nice to ask about Martin on Friday but since you broke protocol, I'll go ahead and tell you. He's being dipped in and out of a really hot acid bath in a rusted tub somewhere on Reno's property. So far he's lost a buttcheek and a leg.
    • Idonmatrix, you did see our latest update post, yes?

      Wherein we said we've only got two more chapters after this, and we're going to post them tomorrow and Sunday?

      Protocol has already been broken.
      • *peeks in*

        It's...it's...it's gonna be over? :(

        Whoa! I think I really did just get misty eyed over that :)

        I can't believe how sucked into this whole thing I've gotten! Waiting anxiously each day for that tell-tale livejournal notification email promising a post from black_cigarette.

        I may have to get a life now :)

        • Well, but there are also three Epilogue pieces on the way in a week or two.

          After that, we of the Collective will have to get lives, too. Hee.

      • wah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        I want my mommy wah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • Yeah! Keep going. Dip a little further. Mid-waist at least.

      Mick
  • It's Friday and House and Wilson's world is coming back into focus : I loved the House/Cuddy conversation. And the ending will keep me smiling and rereading this chapter all weekend
    "Housh," mumbles Wilson, "shud up."
  • :D Nobody exepects the Spanish Inquisition! Except House. HE never expects lupus.

    I'mm loving all of these non-Martiny chapters because Martin scares the heck out of me, but they're also making me think Martin will pop up at any time. D:
  • I'm going to be sad when this is all said and done. I've enjoyed reading aand waiting and anticipating. In fact, I think Aftershocks is better than S4. Thank you so much for writing!
    • WORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So much word!!! I don't know what I'm going to do without Aftershocks. It's just not right. :((((((((

      BC, are you all going to combine all chapters into a pdf?
      • Yes, there'll be a PDF. A reader is helping us with it - I think it's going to be over 300 pages when the epilogue's in there.

        Foof.
    • I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!
    • (Anonymous)
      *g* The epilogue's going to begin on page 301.
  • oh sad :( no more Aftershocks...but it was quite AMAZING so thank you! ^_^ it gave me something to look forward after school

    :P
  • It's sad to be closing in on the end. :( I'm sure there will be some relief on your end, though. Thanks in advance for sharing such a wonderful story with us. :)

    Anyway, I loved Cuddy here. The interactions between Cuddy and House have been just golden in this story. :) I also loved House's insistence on staying as close to Wilson as possible when he's in surgery, especially considering how he picked on people in general for doing that very thing (in Honeymoon, I think). When it's Wilson, and him, it's as though all the rules change.

    Surgeons are so damn territorial. Ha! Seems to me that House has a little case of 'the pot calling the kettle black'.
  • I like that Wilson's slowly coming back to pre-attack. And that House notices. Also: '...they own a little piece of Wilson.' Not possible, he belongs to House. Only House and Wilson know that of course, but the others can dream ~smile~

    Only two more slices of pie? I need more pie!! ~tantrums like a two-year-old~

    Okay...two more then ~sigh~

    Or it could be like Star Wars (don't get me started!) and the parts could just keep coming as epilogues (rather than prologues) forever n ever n ever?
  • So much love for worried House and I love that idea that Cuddy goes to House to know how to handle Wilson. I am now forced to think Stronger. Faster. Better. everytime I look at Wilson's nose. So great that I embarassingly had to read it out loud. I miss this universe. *sniff, sniff
  • "You know, darling," says House, looking down into Wilson's glassy, barely-open eyes, "if we keep meeting like this, people will talk."

    <3 <3 Win.

    And I'll have to find a new hobby when this story's been completed... *sad face*
  • (Anonymous)
    "if I haven't been around it's because I didn't think either of you wanted me hovering. I did what I knew I could, gave you the time when you needed it."
    I loved that you gave an explanation for Cuddy staying away, because in all honesty I was wondering about that. Now, with Cuddy admitting she doesn't know Wilson very well (who does except House?) and asking House for advice on how to help him, I can bask in my Cuddy love again.
    I hope the plastic surgeon god was successful in giving Wilson back his lovely nose.
    I'm both looking forward to and dreading finding out what will happen with Martin. You can't keep House and Wilson on pins and needles for ten years! ~ Taiga
  • Today's dialogue really got to me -- the banter was sparkly, but there was a deeper, serious kind of caring being expressed, I think, in all three conversations. :-)
  • *reads everyone's comments about The Quickly Approaching End of this fabulous fic*

    I don't know what you're saving for the finale, but you've built up a marvelous story. Congratulations :] Cuddy's appearance is lovely, and House bitching at his own concern is beyond cute.

    I miss the ducklings, but I think that their absence here draws perfectly well the circle of focus of House's life. When it's about Wilson, then everything else may damn well cease, because he'll drop it anyway. And he might just let Cuddy in, simply because. This description owns me:

    Her eyes are wide and sad, the way they often are when she's not playing Wonder Woman or pretending to be a hardass.

    ...so true. I guess in some ways House admires and feels sorry for Cuddy, much like she does for him. When they're not alternating fury/flirting, that is. House, Cuddy and Wilson are all mature (chronically! It's just that "middle-aged" doesn't feel quite right for Cuddy), accomplished and spectacularly broken human beings.
    • spectacularly broken

      What a wonderful phrase, and so apt for these characters.

      Thank you so much for your comments. We really enjoy them, even if we don't always have time to respond as we'd like.

  • (Anonymous)
    Aww. After this, will there be another hurt Wilson series?
  • "We can rebuild him, we have the technology...." If only the doctors could piece Wilson (and House) back together again. Alas, they can only try to accelerate their physical healing and smooth over the cosmetic defects covering the real hurt.

    Nice to see Cuddy again!
  • :D "Doctor Do-Right"... And I love Cuddy here! :D
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