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Aftershocks 18.1: Role Reversal

TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: Didn't you used to be someone else?
CHARACTERS: Wilson, House, OFC
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.
SPOILERS: No.
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.


Role Reversal


House has become Wilson's father, and if that's not some weird Freudian shit, then Wilson hasn't been smoking enough cigars or watching enough trains go into tunnels.

House stands there, feet planted solidly on the floor, leaning on his cane, saying, "You're not getting the keys to the car. Not the Volvo, not the 'Vette. No way are you ready to drive yet."

"House ... " Wilson's sitting up on the edge of his bed; he already knows he's going to lose this argument and right now that hurts almost as much as everything else.

He's never been this helpless, so dependant on others before, and it's got him twisted up in knots inside because it's not supposed to be this way. He's the helper, the fixer, the one who takes care of those in need. Now he doesn't even know where the car keys are.

"Nope," House is saying. "I can see it now—you'd take your right hand off the wheel to hit the turn signal, drift into another lane and get creamed by a Hummer."

Wilson is tempted to flop back on the bed and say Oh, dad!, but there's a headache rapidly developing behind his left eye and so all he says is "cab."

"No." House's tone is flat and absolutely final, and Wilson stares at him. "No cabs. No ... " and Wilson has the sudden, unshakable certainty that the next word is going to be "strangers," but House simply turns away and pulls the keys to the Volvo from his jeans pocket, where they've been hidden the entire time.





The drive to the rehab center is made in sullen silence; Wilson knows House spent all day yesterday diagnosing a patient who'd turned out to have a simple staph infection. House is still on call today, but he's left work early and turned his pager off in order to ferry Wilson to this appointment.

At the center, Wilson is momentarily discomfited to hear that he'll be seeing Shoshana Weinstein. The name from the past startles him, but then he shrugs. The hits just keep on coming. He even manages to smile when she comes through the door; it collapses quickly into a wince, but she doesn't seem to notice.

It hurts even to smile these days.

"Dr. Wilson," Shana says, and her voice is just the way he remembered it—cool and husky, with a faintly lilting quality that wraps itself around your heart like smoke. She looks pretty much the way he remembers, too—all planes and angles, with her dark hair cut short like a wild animal's pelt and her deep green eyes watching his every move.

Strangers sometimes think she's a sabra, but Wilson knows she's a Midwestern girl from East Sandusky.

"Sh'shnna." With his jaws clamped shut, her name comes out all "zhh"s and softly slurred, the way it might be pronounced if she really was an Israeli. "Thot you wen' back t'school."

And this is something else he knows—she did go back to school, back to Tufts to get her Master's in Occupational Therapy.

"It's been fun, James," she'd said, kissing him on the cheek. "I hope you find whoever you're looking for." He'd wondered if he should ask her to marry him, but it was already too late. Then Julie had come along, and that had been that.

Shana smiles at him, amused. "I did," she says. "And then I came back here. I'm the Assistant Director of this clinic."

Assistant Director. Wilson feels like he's sinking in quicksand. Means she doesn't have to do this. God, save me from people taking a personal interest in me.

She laughs when she catches his look and guesses immediately what he's thinking.

"Don't worry," she says. "I'm not going to be your regular therapist. I heard on the news about your ... about what happened, and I wanted to see for myself how you're doing." That said, she runs a critical eye over him. Wilson submits quietly, knowing what she's seeing—a guy who's paid a visit to a dark corner of Hell and lived to tell about it. After a while she shakes her head, just a little.

"I've seen worse," she says at last, and Wilson wants to bark out "Where, the morgue?"

She's opening his folder and the moment passes. "You're staying with someone?" she asks.

Wilson looks at his hands. "A fren'," he replies softly. "Dr. Greg House."

Shana's right eyebrow twitches up. "The big guy in the waiting room? With the cane? Looks like he'd rather be anywhere but here?"

"You ... know him?" He's genuinely surprised; he'd always believed Shoshana was one of his few lovers whose existence he had managed to keep a secret from House's prying eyes. Of course, that had been the old days, the B.G. days. The days before House had realized he needed to keep a tighter leash on him.

"I know of him," she says. She's silent, reading one of the reports. "Looks like Dr. Tomlinson did a great job on your left hand," she murmurs, then shuts the file. "But with it still in that brace we'll have to concentrate on your right to begin with."

Wilson nods. It's what he'd expected.

"You're probably fine for large gripping tasks—picking things up, opening jars." She holds out her hands. "Let's see how much strength is there."

He raises his arm, grimacing a little at the pull in his back muscles. Shana's hands are large, like House's, her fingernails cut short and filed smooth, and as she takes his right hand in hers he can feel the tendons and ligaments underneath the skin, and the rough calluses from years of showing patients how to grip the rubberized handles of therapy weights.

"Squeeze," she commands, and Wilson squeezes, feeling the bones shift in both her hands and his. He wonders for just a moment if this is what House's hand would feel like.

Shana nods. "Good," she pronounces. "It's the fine motor control most people have problems with. Have you ever tried signing your name with your right hand?"

No, but House has, Wilson almost says, but Shana's already moving on.

"I don't foresee any complications," she concludes. "We'll set up a schedule right away." She smiles then, an open smile, full of warmth and remembered affection.

"It's been good to see you, James," she says. "I wish it were under better circumstances, but perhaps when you've recovered a little more we could meet again. Rosh Hashanah, maybe—celebrate the New Year, hope it's a little sweeter than the last. I'm sure my partner would love to meet you."

Startled, Wilson glances instinctively at her left hand. No ring. When he looks back up, Shana's eyes are crinkled with humor, and for the first time he notices the tiny crow's-feet in the corners.

"My partner," Shana repeats. "Dina Fedorov. She teaches at the university—Latin Prose Composition and Latin Poetry of the Empire."

"Um," Wilson says.

Shana cocks her head, grins at him. "You could bring Dr. House along, if you like."

"Um," Wilson says again, helplessly.

Shana takes it in stride. "Think about it," she says. "It really was good to see you again." And with the lightest brush of soft lips against his forehead, she's gone.





"How'd it go? You were in there long enough."

House is out-of-sorts from waiting, and he settles himself into the Volvo's driver's seat with a long-suffering sigh.

"Fine," Wilson mumbles. "Wen' fine." He pauses a beat. "We're 'nvited to a party. In th'fall."

House stares at him. "What?" he says. "You've moved on from nurses, now you're picking up occupational therapists?"

Wilson schools his face into as innocent an expression as possible, and after a moment House grunts and shoves the key into the ignition.

"All I can say is they better be hot," he grumbles.

Wilson looks out the window to hide his smile.

They'll be home soon.


 
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