SUMMARY: Interest rate on repayment may lead to foreclosure ...
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.
Jerry Watson is a stubborn pain in the ass; that might in fact be why House had found him tolerable as a nurse. House had forgotten, but it's all coming back to him now. As he hangs up the phone, he wonders whether he could manage to get his money back. Maybe he could figure out a way to bill Wilson's insurance for the extra five hundred bucks.
He decides not to try. It'd be more trouble than it was worth. Anyway, what does he really care about a few more dollars, or a few hundred, after all this? It'll be no big deal, as long as Wilson doesn't find out how much House has just spent on him. Just for a couple lousy hours. Just so the two of them can have a break, put their scattered brains back together, and maybe not have any more discussions about god damn Martin fucking Grey.
He shouldn't even be thinking about that now. He has a case. Like most cases, though, it started with "hurry up" and now it's "hurry up and wait." Rule out everything it isn't until we can figure out what's left. Ruling things out takes time. House would take a nap if only his leg didn't feel like someone had attacked it with a machete. His destructive rage was well-earned, but he's paying for it anyway.
Coffee would be nice now: hot, soothing, and full of caffeine to boost the effect of his pills just a little. He wants coffee, and the coffee maker is all the way over there, and his left foot will throb with every step, as if the right thigh weren't bad enough. Damn shards of glass. Damn leg. Damn boredom. For this, they woke him up before dawn?
He's about to drag his worthless carcass over to the coffeepot when—wonder of wonders—Cameron shows up.
"Ah! A lackey! Just what I wanted. Actually, no. What I wanted was coffee, conveyed hither by the nearest available peon. That would be you."
"Good morning to you too."
"You're the one who woke me at five thirty to ... I can't seem to recall what you needed me to do. Come and tell you people to run a bunch of tests you already knew you'd need to run? Hold your hand while you told the patient we don't know what's killing her? Or did you just want to see if I'd rush over here in my jammies again, since you missed the show last time?"
"Does this have any medical relevance?"
"It—fine," she huffs. She turns around and heads for the coffeepot, with that stiff, choppy walk she always falls into when she's offended. Hopefully she will be bright enough to just hand him his mug and then get out, save herself. The other two were wise enough to flee from him, and House was glad for it.
Cameron already seems less angry than concerned by the time she sets the coffee on his desk. Those worried little wrinkles are settling into place on her forehead.
She blinks and stares at him.
"You're about to ask me how I'm doing. You already know the answer, so don't." House picks up the mug and takes a big, long sip, washing back the horrible things he wants to say to her. "If you have any sense, you will go away and not come back until you have something important to tell me." You have approximately five seconds before you become a target.
Her mouth opens slightly, but then she thinks better of whatever it is that she wants to say. She scowls at him and turns to go.
He has taught her pretty well, after all. She stops, turns only halfway back, and waits a moment.
"I did need this." He makes a slight gesture with the coffee mug.
"You're welcome," she says, and she's gone. He sighs over the mug, blowing steam across his hand and soothing the sore knuckles for a moment. Stupid thing to do. If he wanted to punch the wall he really should have thrown a left instead of using his cane hand. The plaster wouldn't have known what hit it either way.
He turns on his computer but only winds up staring at the screen. It would help if Chase and Foreman would hurry the hell up with those tests. The sooner he has fresh information, the sooner he can figure out what he doesn't know about the patient. As opposed to what he's doing now, thinking of what he does know about Wilson.
And don't forget, says that irritating part of his brain that seems so prevalent lately, all the things Wilson still doesn't know about you.
House tells the voice to shut up, and tells his leg it's a bitch and he should just cut it off. The things Wilson doesn't know won't hurt him. More importantly, they won't hurt House either.
He doesn't intend to ever talk about Martin's phone call that night, when Martin let him hear what was happening.
He doesn't plan to ever tell Wilson that he spent that whole night on the motorcycle, riding in circles and tangents, searching for anything, anything to tell him where to go. A star to follow, a falling meteor, or a hunch that would cause him to tail a particular car. House has never believed in any form of clairvoyance, but on that night he'd been certain that if he reached far enough, his mind could do the impossible: he'd find Wilson. Not that he'd have known what to do once he got there. It would've been insane to try. House has never owned a gun, and Martin and his thugs would've been very well armed. Still, he'd been determined. He'd think of something, if only he could get there, if only he could somehow—
He had wound up collapsed on a park bench, after getting so exhausted that he'd almost missed a curve on his bike and gone face-first into someone's garage. It was nearly dawn by then, and he managed only an hour's fitful sleep before the cop (God, he hates cops) accosted him. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been in that much pain; he'd been very glad for his ability to swallow his pills without water. This time, he waited and didn't take them until the cop went away.
From the start he had known there would be no point in searching. He wasn't sure if it was any more or less pathetic than the other option, which involved lying in a drunken stupor on the sofa where Wilson used to sleep. That was what he did the following night, after Wilson got out of surgery alive. By then, riding the bike was out of the question. The fatigue and grief, the guilt and Vicodin, would've conspired to kill him. He could've taken or left his own life just then, but who'd take care of Wilson?
He's trying now, but flexible straws and a bed in the living room are not going to be enough. The money he's paying Jerry is just one penny of a million dollar deficit. There's not enough gold in Fort Knox to repay what he owes Wilson, and his friend will be lost to him. It's just a matter of time. This poison is slow, insidious, the kind of thing you think you've banished until it seeps into your veins again and you find you're just as angry as you always were. It will do its job, just as Martin intended. As soon as he's well enough, Wilson will go. There are a dozen good reasons to get away from House, and House can't think of a single good reason to stay. I'm sorry and I need you do not count.
He thinks he'll never point out this obvious, painful inequity. Maybe if he doesn't, just maybe, James Wilson will—once again—choose to leave House's debts off the books. That hope is like a briar, thorny and tenacious, and he keeps hacking away at it, trying to kill it before it kills him. He can't. It springs back from the roots every time.
When the tangle is too much to handle, he goes riding or he goes to work. Either one will do.
"It's not lymphoma," says a soft Australian voice, coming in from the doorway, "but then you knew that."
"No sense gambling," House replies. The pills and the coffee are starting to help, finally. House checks his watch; it's still another couple hours before Jerry will show up to do the Wilson coddling for the day. It's worth five hundred dollars to not have to be there right now. House is a bastard, but he's sick of it. He needs to spend some time working on a problem he can actually solve.