SUMMARY: It's not supposed to be this quiet with Wilson around.
CHARACTERS: House, Wilson.
RATING: 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 original event in Bad Company; the second number signifies when the fic occurs during that day.
While House has eaten, done dishes (no sense fighting over it now), and played Grand Theft Auto, Wilson has slept.
He has slept right through South Park and Reno 911!. Neither show is as funny as House remembers. Not once does he laugh. He had thought that he'd feel a lot better once Wilson was here and safe, but everything still seems all wrong.
Of course it's all wrong, Einstein. Got any more astute observations?
It's almost ten, television is crap, and Wilson hasn't had any dinner. The hospital provided packets of some kind of Powdered Food Substance, but House thinks that can wait for morning. Somehow he can't abide the thought of running the blender, shredding the quiet atmosphere of the apartment. He gimps off to the fridge, yanks open the door and pulls out a beer for himself and a can of Ensure for Wilson. Ensure: Nectar of the geriatric ward.
It could've been worse. As bad as this is, it could have been so much worse. Those visions he'd had in that alley could well have come true. A few weeks of Ensure is nothing compared to a lifetime of Depends. It's nothing.
He could've died.
House stands over the bed, the head of which is raised at a gentle angle so that Wilson's ruined nose won't swell and prevent him from breathing. It helps with watching TV, too—or it will help tomorrow, when Wilson's awake again. The journey home took a toll on him.
Now the question is: How does one wake a sleeping, mutilated, heavily drugged Wilson? Under normal circumstances he'd jolt Wilson awake with an abrupt exclamation, or prod him with the cane, or grab his shoulder and shake it.
No response. House raises his voice a little and tries again.
"Wilson. Come on. I fixed ... I brought ... " He drops back into quiet tones without meaning to. "Come on, Wilson. Wake up."
The building pressure in House's chest is completely irrational. Wilson's just conked out on opiates; he's always been a heavy sleeper anyway. It's nothing to worry about, except that badly injured bodies can develop clots. Sometimes people do have strokes in their sleep.
House turns back to the coffee table, where he sets down the beer and the can of liquid pablum. He rubs his hand briskly against his leg, drying the condensation from it and warming the skin. He's crazy. It shouldn't matter if his fingers are cold. It never would've mattered before.
He starts to reach for Wilson's arm, but his hand won't obey. For a moment he doesn't know why, and then he realizes that he's picturing what must have happened that day. There'd been five men—five animals. Wilson might not know whose hand this is. He might lash out in blind panic, the way he did when he broke that EMT's nose. That would be no big deal, but Wilson's got too many broken bones, too many stitches and staples holding him together.
Okay. Eliminate anything the thugs might have done to him. No yelling. No grabbing or shaking. What's that leave?
It leaves ... oh. Well, that's ... oh. He takes a deep breath. Well. What the hell.
Moving forward, he reaches out again, turns his palm inward and strokes the back of his hand across Wilson's cheek. What does it matter, really? He's already given Wilson a shave, for crying out loud. He repeats the soft motion, his fingers light and warm on Wilson's bruised skin.
Wilson's eyes finally open, blinking in bleary confusion, darting sideways to identify the source of the touch. There's such uncertainty there, in the way those eyes widen as Wilson realizes that yes, that's the hand of his bastard best friend. There's such simple beauty in the fact that Wilson is alive, conscious, and recognizes him.
House turns away, picks up the Ensure, shakes the can and pops it open. Without a word he takes the package of straws from the coffee table, picks one and drops it into the drink. As soon as Wilson takes it, House swiftly limps out of the room, leaving his beer untouched. He has to pee. He needs a shower. He needs to be in the bathroom where Wilson can't see him. He needs to stand there beneath the hot spray of water, remembering how to breathe.
He needs to be where there's water all around him and he won't even have to know it if he cries.