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Bad Company

Aftershocks 1.3: Landfall



Aftershocks 1.3: Landfall

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TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: Wilson arrives in the ER. So does House.
CHARACTERS: House, Cuddy, OMCs
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.
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 orginal event in Bad Company; the second number signifies when the fic occurs during that day.


House barely gets the kickstand under the bike before he's off and heading for the ER doors. Cuddy is waiting to intercept him just inside, her hands fisted, her face reflecting the agitation of the trauma team assembled behind her.

"Where is he?" House shouts as soon as the doors begin to slide open.

"Not here yet," Cuddy replies and moves in front of him, trying to stop him in his tracks. "We need to keep the doors clear."

"I'm not the one doing the blocking," he grumbles and sidesteps around her.

She surprises him by grabbing his elbow and pulling insistently. "You need to stay out of the way."

They can hear the sirens approaching the hospital and House tries to peel away from her grasp. "Like hell I will," he growls. "What happened?"

"They think he was mugged and beaten. He was found in an alley." Even tottering on her heels, a determined Cuddy is a physical force to contend with, and he barely registers another set of hands on his shoulders, pulling him backwards, away from the doors and toward the admit desk.

"Where?" he shouts. He'd use his cane to beat his way past Cuddy and whoever else, if he didn't need to lean on it so badly.

"Close," she replies in a huff. He struggles, wonders why he's not making forward progress.

Cuddy is trying to keep his attention; House is trying to look everywhere but at her. "House, you have to let the trauma team do their job. They've been talking to the EMTs, they know his condition; I've got the best people on this." His cane arm wobbles and he gives her another shake, but she doesn't let go. "House, we need to stay here."

The sirens wail their last gasp right outside the doors, and House spots Chase among the people heading toward them. He stills, just enough that Cuddy stops pulling and simply holds onto his arm as he stands taut and tense. She nods behind them, and the hands on his shoulders drop away.

His height allows him an excellent view of the team transferring Wilson from the ambulance into the hospital. He manages to catch most of what the EMTs shout to the ER team: left hand is crushed; multiple rib fractures; he's in shock; fractured clavicle, left side; abdomen is rigid, internal bleeding; concussion likely; fractured mandible, we had to trach him.

Wilson is nearly naked on the gurney; House catches only glimpses, but every patch of skin he sees is a shade of red or purple. The man isn't recognizable as Wilson—only the hair indicates that the bloody, dark purple pulp could possibly be Wilson's face. The trach tube bobs in his throat, in time with the compressions from the ambu bag a nurse is holding.

The last thing he hears as the ER doors close behind them is Chase's voice, shouting for someone to check the status of the OR. Cuddy slips away, following the chaos.

House can't follow, no matter how much he wants to.

The seconds he's standing there, watching through the ER doors, watching the tornado surrounding Wilson, feel like hours. He tries to remember the last thing Wilson said to him, the last thing he said to Wilson. Before.

But the only things he can remember are muffled grunts and low moaning, followed by a snarled "Fucking Jew!" and a cry of pain. It plays on repeat, and only gets paused when his attention is caught by a new commotion from outside.

". . . get decked by a mostly-dead guy, Mike," a stocky EMT is saying as he leads a taller, skinnier EMT through the door.

"I think it's broken," Mike whines from behind a wad of bloody gauze.

"Well, I was trying to hold him down," Stocky EMT replies with a chuckle. "At least you can brag you got hit by a department head."

"Great," Skinny EMT whines again. "It's going to be forever before somebody looks at my nose." He yelps as his feet are swept from underneath him.

House really wants to use his cane to beat some respect into the man, but it stays tangled in the skinny guy's feet, so he settles for the next best thing. He falls forward, letting the EMT cushion his fall, landing hard with his elbows against the guy's ribs. He doesn't feel his knees hit the floor; the scream from his thigh is lost in the rush of blood pounding in his ears.

He wraps his fingers around the neck in front of him and growls angrily, "He's got a fucking tube in his throat and you're whining about a broken nose? Were you so worried about your precious nose that you ignored your patient?" House squeezes and shoves the man back against the floor, heedless of the hands tugging at his shoulders and the shouts from above him. "You know, the patient who doesn't have a face anymore?" He gets in one more good shove, with a satisfying thunk as the EMT's head hits the floor, before a second set of big hands wraps around his elbows and pulls him back.

"Now you've been decked by two department heads," House shouts as he's dragged off. He's quickly pinned to the floor; suddenly he's gone, feeling not the security guards' hands and knees but a heavy boot. A boot is on his chest and his knees are tangled, held together and down. He thrashes, arching his back and rolling his head.

"Don't touch me, you son of a bitch!" He's roaring now, and he's so much louder than he was back then, bigger and meaner and so much more menacing, but he still can't get up, he can never get up. "Let him go, he didn't do anything! Leave us alone! I don't want this, let me up you fucking bastard!"

Three sets of hands haul him to his feet; his right leg doesn't cooperate and turns under at the ankle. House tries to lunge forward anyway, but he's stopped by the hands on his shoulders and one small, cool hand on his chest. He tries to kick out, but his right leg isn't cooperating and his left is too busy holding his weight. He struggles, trying to use the weight in his shoulders to break his arms free, but he's held fast by bodies far thicker than his.

Cuddy's voice is sharp, penetrating; it cuts through the fog and carries over the rabid, unintelligible yelling that House can't place.  Slowly he manages to focus on her face, on the fact that she's shouting at him to calm down. A little voice (that sounds too much like Wilson) in the back of his mind says that shouting is really not the way to calm someone down. Eventually he realizes the rabid yelling is coming from him and he forces himself to stop.

Cuddy rests her cool hands on his cheeks, watches closely as he pulls himself back together.

He shakes his head and her hands drop away. House draws in a shuddering breath, lets more of his body weight fall into the hands holding him up. "Okay," he says loudly. He hangs his head and spreads his fingers wide, surrendering, and says more quietly, "Okay."

"Okay," Cuddy replies and sighs. "House, I know how you feel."

He keeps his gaze firmly on her stylish, tiny shoes. She can't possibly know; he can't bring himself to tell her how little she knows, not this time.

"But I can't let you stay here, not after this."

He looks up sharply; she wouldn't ask him to go home.

Her eyes are big, round, and entirely too pitying, but House decides he'll take it if she'll let him stay. "If you want to stay in the hospital, you're going to do it in your office."

He lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. "Okay," he says quietly. "Give me my cane and I'll go to my office."

Cuddy crosses her arms in front of her and shakes her head. "Oh, no. I'm not handing you a weapon. You can go in a wheelchair or you can be carried," she tilts her head at the men holding House up, "but you'll go to your office and you will stay there. I'm posting security outside your door."

House gives her a look. He hopes it's venomous, but right now all he can really muster is probably pitiful.

"The choice is yours, House. If you want to stay, it's them or this." She waves an orderly over with a wheelchair. The rest of the ER is clear, emptied of everyone but two nurses at the desk. Skinny EMT got to see his doctor after all.

He looks back at the floor and finally nods his head, once. He points with his right hand at the wheelchair, and the security guys dump him carelessly into it. He doesn't move once he lands, either; he lets himself slump over and stare at the floor. He stays silent as security flanks the wheelchair on the way to the elevators. He watches the tiles under his feet; his leg is screaming and he's hungry and crashing off a high of adrenaline and terror and he's so tired but he won't sleep. He won't sleep until he gets his cane back. He won't sleep until Wilson's out of surgery.
  • House's panic and guilt are very palpable here, especially in the moments where he just loses himself, confused, lost, unaware he's moving or shouting, and when he can't contain himself anymore and attacks the EMT (much in the way he would have attacked the guy in the alley, though far less violent here). Good for Cuddy for taking charge and making House pick an option instead of letting his stubbornness and passion overrule her as they sometimes do.

    Also love the hints you guys have been dropping as to what happened with House and Martin all those years ago; first Martin with the brick, now House with the boot. *happy tension*
  • This reads a little like a slow-motion scene from a movie, but better. The emotion is too much without choking you, making your heart stick in your throat without crushing you.
  • Skinny EMT so got what he deserved. I love the feel of House's confusion and blind rage.

    I think this one is Horsey's Hand. Do I get a hint? Are you guys going in a specifc order? Why am I the only one silly enough to guess?
    • There's no specific order to who wrote what--we each wrote what House and Wilson (or Martin, or Chase, or Georgie Reno) told us at the time. Sometimes there will be a stretch of fics all by the same author, sometimes there's all of us jumbled together.

      Please do keep guessing--we love that people are guessing, and we love seeing who gets guessed! (Um, wait, did that make sense?) You are very much not silly. :)
  • Oh, oh, oh. This endless waking nightmare coming true for House is just incredible to read. He's both out of control and held fast in the past here: . . . he's so much louder than he was back then, bigger and meaner and so much more menacing, but he still can't get up, he can never get up. That hurts so much.

    And I love how Cuddy manages to get House under control here. She's almost like someone gentling a terrified animal, so strong, empathetic and level-headed.
  • Awesome chapter - you mean, mean fabulous writers :)

    I love this line as House totally loses it and goes into an apparently dissociative state "Let him go, he didn't do anything! Leave us alone! It is delicious in terms of magnifying the result of House's stubbornness.

    And Cuddy is just awesome during their exchange. In control and yet sensitive to House's sheer terror over the cruel trick his decision has played on Wilson. This makes the Tritter arc look like child's play.

    And the unceremonious wheelchair dump by security was priceless.

    So much love for this fic.
  • Greetings!

    This ended better than I expected it would. Thank Goodness for Cuddy and for that bastard John House instilling the law of the pack into his son. Every cloud...

    Well, it was worth the wait. Both the weekend and the nearly five hours since I first sat down to read this and was Lurked into dealing with other things. This is a most effective tale to get one to do one's chores, for sure! :lol

  • This gets another 'eep!' from me - I can vividly see and feel what House is seeing and feeling. I can see where the EMT is coming from - it's his nose, after all - but I can very definitely see what House saw, and I love the way House improvises by falling on him when he can't use his cane as a weapon.

    Interesting thing - I've been privileged to see these before they were 'released', but I can't remember who wrote what :D That's a tribute to the way you all 'meld' into Black Cigarette!
  • I really like the dream/nightmare quality of this chapter, how you show House's overwhelmed state of mind through the disconnection he has with what is going on around him, but with the sharp dialogue cutting through the fog like searchlights. It is a shock to see House so helpless in his own territory, the hospital, a dreadful counterpart to Wilson's state. Gah, the tension is really spiralling!
  • Off on a bit of a tangent, must be the late hour but-oh no, Wilson, not the face. I know from the original story that the beating was brutal, nefarious but reading the words "bloody, dark purple pulp"...
    Okay, yes, back to the gist of the story here, House's angst was so well done.
  • That EMT is a serious dick, I'd have socked him too... :( Poor House... He can't even tell Cuddy all of what he's dealing with right now :(
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