SUMMARY: Dear God in heaven, make it stop.
CHARACTERS: Wilson, OFC, House.
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.
Carla Jean Fowler
She shows up right in the middle of The Rockford Files. She's tall, roundish and solid, and she must spend an hour each morning with Aqua-Net and a curling iron. Her hair is a careful, puffy sculpture, yet she has neglected her dye job. The brassy orange color stops an inch away from her head, so that the brightness seems to float above a band of dull brown.
Wilson listens to her just enough to gather that she thinks he was in a car crash. The agency must not have told her about the attack, and he's damn sure not going to do it.
"Ooohhhkayyy. Now let me have this arm and up we go. Ready? Good," she intones, and he wonders whether, if he's a very good boy, she'll read him a bedtime story when they're done. He's not going to make any cracks about that, though, because—God help him—she might do it. This woman has been jabbering nonstop since the moment she tromped through the door. He's been trying to tell her that he can do this all by himself, but his jaw is wired shut and hers is not. If ever Wilson needed evidence for the cruelty of the universe, this is it.
Her hands are large and cold on his skin. He winces, feels the gooseflesh raise all over his body, and forces himself to take several sharp breaths. Getting out of bed on his own is a slow and painful process, but he had to demonstrate the ability to do it before they'd let him out of the hospital. He really doesn't need assistance, especially not from pudgy, pushy strangers with annoying accents. Tomorrow—and the pain be damned—he'll make sure to be up before she arrives.
"That's right, now, you just breathe and hold tight onto Carla. You know, my Billy got so sick that one winter, back in ninety-two it was, after he fell off that bike of his and cracked a couple ribs. He didn't breathe deep enough and he got the pneumonia and for the longest time we had to walk like this. Oh, now would you look at that," she clucks, petting the hair that's standing upright on his arm. "Are you cold, Mister Williams?"
He tries to jerk away from her, but the twisting motion sends electric jolts of pain up and down his back. It's the chipped vertebrae saying hello.
"Doctor. Wilson." He enunciates the words as forcefully as he can, and in her surprise she lets go of him. He dodges away; it's hardly the graceful kind of escape he's used to making, but it works. He can make it the rest of the way to the bathroom quite well, thank you. Once inside, he locks the doorknob, which rattles slightly under his unsteady fingers.
She's still yammering when he opens the door again. "—and I remember because it was the year we went to Florida. He has brown eyes just like yours, my Billy does, and when he hurts I just always know. Now which drink do you mix your oxycodone into, sweetie?"
"Jus' pick one, 'kay? Sh'prise me."
While she flaps off into the kitchen, he takes the opportunity to get back into bed. He's cold, he's so cold and he's barely dressed, flopping around in a loose pair of cotton shorts and a t-shirt. All he wants are his blankets. He's almost safe, but lifting his legs up onto the mattress is a tricky maneuver. His abdominal muscles are badly damaged from the abuse and the surgery. He pulls his left leg onto the bed, then gasps and doubles over as those muscles twitch and spasm, forcing him to stop. The next thing he knows, she's back, setting down his cup of medicine-juice with a campy little flourish. Then her clammy hand constricts his right ankle, pulling it up from the floor and onto the bed.
Her fingers feel like shackles. If he doesn't curse or kick at her, it's only because the cramps have rendered him temporarily helpless. She lets go, but he still has to sit there, bent forward and with his back in agony while he waits for the muscle spasms to ease off.
The moment he's able, he eases back against the mattress, grateful that the raised head of the bed means he hasn't got far to go. He stretches out his good hand to pull his blessed blankets over his body. Their warmth and their scent is so welcome. The first, the one he keeps against his skin, is made of a cream colored velour that caresses him every time he moves. Over that there's House's quilt, a blue and white pattern of six-pointed stars, almost like the Star of David. It's made of old cotton calico, so well worn that it feels like the very softest flannel. It's a little heavy and Wilson likes that feeling too. He draws both blankets up over his chest, clutching at their edges, hiding the trembling in his hand.
"'M'really hungry," he says, although right now food is the last thing on his mind. "Thin' you c'd use eh blenner?"
She's thrilled to, naturally. That poor son of hers must be seriously screwed up. He's either in jail or he sells 'pre-owned' Toyotas—Wilson would bet on it. No, actually, he wouldn't. He wouldn't bet on anything, but he wonders if little Billy is a weekend drag queen. Gripping the edge of the quilt a little tighter, Wilson hopes to God that it'll be enough to keep her off him. He has to force himself to let go long enough to drink his oxycodone punch.
Too soon, Carla brings the cup of sludge that passes for his lunch. When he reaches to take it, she grabs his wrist. He jerks so hard that she almost loses her balance, but he's so blinded by the pain that he doesn't even notice. The sooner that oxy kicks in, the better.
"Aren't you the nervous one? I'll remember that you startle easy. Now let's get that pulse," she insists, and he stiffens and holds his breath while she does it. There's one of those tacky multicolored family birthstone rings on her hand. The gems are red, blue, and pink, like flavors of Jello. For a moment his brain asks whether she removes the godawful thing before she puts on latex gloves. Then her voice, which reminds him of a particularly talkative parrot, scatters those thoughts. "Oh, that's way too high. About a hundred fifteen."
"Hurt w'en I jumped," he growls at her, but she seems to credit the physical pain and the wires for the way he sounds. "Betta inna minute." As soon as you get the hell away from me. "Trus' me. 'M a doctor."
He's nicer than this, isn't he? He wants to be nicer; he thought he wasn't the kind of guy who had mean, spiteful thoughts about the sons of cheerfully smothering women. That's House's gig, and he truly wishes House were here to say all these things so that he could stop thinking them.
If Wilson had a cane, he thinks he would hit her with it. Purely in self-defense, of course. He might hate himself for doing it, but he'd do it all the same.
By the time she leaves, his show is over and the whole apartment seems to reek of hairspray and mint gum. He lies back, pulls the blankets up over his face, and wills the universe itself to go away.
The noise of afternoon cartoons is drifting faintly right through the door. It makes House smile for a moment; Wilson has such dubious taste in television. Also, the sound means that Wilson's actually awake today.
Already they've established certain rules without ever having talked about them. One is: Don't startle the guy who's got broken bones and PTSD. Announce yourself as you come in the door.
"Hey Luuuucy, I'm ho-ome," House chimes, as he hangs his jacket on its hook. He doesn't expect a response, but he's surprised to turn around and not see Wilson at all.
Actually, he does see Wilson, but what he sees makes his knees feel like Silly Putty. He sees the shape of a body, with the blankets drawn up entirely over its head, as if—but no. The body is breathing; he's sure he saw it breathe.
Quietly he approaches, and the motion of breathing becomes more obvious, but his mind is running away with him. On the tray table there's an empty juice cup and a tumbler full of some kind of rose-colored sludge. That must have been Wilson's lunch, but it hasn't been touched. Oxycodone but no food? It's no wonder he's out cold.
Something's wrong, House thinks. Wilson should have eaten. He's always, always hungry these days.
Are you sure that's Wilson? asks a crazy voice in House's mind. For all he knows, Wilson might be lying dead in the bathroom and it could be Martin in the bed, waiting. He rubs his hand across his face, berating himself for having such a completely stupid thought. It's hard to help that, though. He's had so many damn nightmares lately, and after all this is Martin they're dealing with. It's ridiculous, but ...
Carefully, he creeps up behind the bed and lifts the blankets just enough to see a familiar bit of brown hair. It shines softly in the dim light of the living room, and House bites back the urge to touch it and feel the texture—to make sure that what he's seeing is real. He replaces the covers and picks up the tumbler full of liquid Wilson Chow. This must have been the "fruit-flavored" packet he'd avoided using for Wilson's breakfast this morning, favoring the "vanilla" powder instead. It's pink as bubble gum, and smells interestingly weird, so he sips a little through the straw.
Weird is an understatement. House's face scrunches up as the stuff spreads across his tongue. It tastes like ... a combination of milk, chalk, pancake syrup, and ... strawberry Kool-Aid. The worthless home-care droid didn't even bother to add one of the bananas that House left on the counter. He has tasted worse things, but not since his last bout of nausea. For Wilson—he of the magical cooking skills—this is the ultimate addition of insult to injury.
House scrubs his hand over his face again. He's been meaning to go and get food for a while now, and putting it off because ... he supposes because there could've been so many complications. Wilson might so easily have been kept in the hospital longer than they'd expected. He might even have demanded another place to stay; hell, he still might do that. Wouldn't be the first time.
It occurs to House that his chances will probably improve as soon as the food improves. Already he has plenty of recipes, if you can call them that. He pops two Vicodin, heaves a heavy sigh and picks up the keys to his old car. He'll need it. Can't haul groceries on the bike.
He walks back out the door, leaving the television on. Scooby and the gang will have to watch over Wilson for now. As he turns the key to lock Wilson inside, he can hear a distant Ruh-roh! from the TV.
It's stupid, but it's all he can do to turn away and leave.