SUMMARY: Wilson has developed a new reflex.
CHARACTERS: Wilson, 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.
Wilson flinches away from the hand of the nurse, as they head for Radiology to check him over again before they let him go home. They can't use the MRI; there's way too much hardware in Wilson's body now.
It's the flinch that's preoccupying House, though. He'd first noticed it on Friday, immediately before he'd ejected Norma Jean or whatever her name was. At the time he hadn't thought too hard about it. Anyone would have wanted to run in terror from that woman.
But then last night it happened again. Wilson had startled at every touch as they arrived at the ER. He'd damn near kicked House in the groin as House helped move him onto the gurney. Yes, the reaction had stopped pretty quickly, but the fact that it started in the first place is ... troubling.
Today's nurse is a lithe and gentle-mannered blonde, the kind that typically causes Wilson to stand slightly too close and put on that little-boy smile. If Wilson doesn't want her hand on him, that means—well, House isn't sure what it means. He will have to observe this new response very carefully, like a symptom of an infection that might spread.
House doesn't want that reaction to get any worse, because it has become necessary for him to touch Wilson so often. There are injuries to tend. That sling requires frequent readjustments. Every morning and evening House has to examine his patient, checking for heat, inflammation, anything that might indicate a problem. There's all of that practical stuff, but there's another thing, too.
The other thing is irrational and weird and has never happened before. He's been finding excuses to put his hands on Wilson, because House's brain has gone haywire and it refuses to believe that Wilson is here and he's real and he's safe. They might have killed him, but they didn't. House's mind keeps demanding proof of that, and the only proof it will accept is the tactile sensation of Wilson's warm and living body.
House should be stronger than that, but some part of him seems to be stuck in the past, on the phone with Martin on that endless night. Some part of him is still helplessly listening to Wilson being beaten, broken. Taken. It makes his guts ache every time he thinks of it, and he thinks of it far too often. It's over and he shouldn't need solace now; he's a grown man and he knows better. He's a grown man, so he keeps a secret bottle of scotch in his bedroom, and tries to soothe himself without Wilson knowing. It doesn't work very well, but he's got to do something more brave than wrapping his arms around Wilson and holding on for dear life. Wilson probably wouldn't appreciate that anyway.
Of the two of them, it's Wilson who's always been more reticent about touch. House puts his hands on everything, while Wilson's hands stay tucked safely in his pockets, or planted on his hips, or clasping some file or other. There are very limited parameters, with him. If you're not either a patient or a lover, Wilson won't touch you. He avoids contact so well, so deftly. He glides past, slips gently away and you—if you're an average, unobservant cretin—never even notice that he's doing it. People think of Wilson as soft and cuddly, and he isn't. He's as detached as a crane in flight. Or he was, until Martin and his band of apes shot him out of the sky.
There he is now, barefoot and in pajamas in the middle of the day, hobbling down the corridor under the sympathetic eye of that RN. It is suddenly unbearable to see her walking away with him. House charges after them.
"He's not brain damaged, you know," he snaps at the nurse as he approaches. "He remembers how to get there."
"I'm supposed to help with the—"
"Not anymore you're not. Anyone bitches at you, send 'em after me; I could use some fresh meat."
House says nothing about the expression of weary relief that washes briefly across Wilson's face as she leaves. Instead, he brings his hand to Wilson's shoulder and rests it there. There's no flinch, no nervous reaction, just a softly exhaled breath. A ravenous hope uncoils itself in House's chest as he limps slowly toward Radiology, alongside his friend.