black_cigarette (black_cigarette) wrote,
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black_cigarette

Aftershocks 23.3: Milton Bradley

TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: An evening's entertainment
CHARACTERS: Wilson, House
RATING:
R for language and themes (gen fic).
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.


Milton Bradley


"Y'gotta be kidding." Wilson's looking dolefully at the box that has just been set before him on the coffee table. House is giving him that curving little fishhook smile; he is kidding, but then again he's not. He sits down and pulls the lid off the thing: a game of Operation.

"It's on loan from Pediatrics," he says, but the light in his eyes says there was no "loan" at all.

"You stole it. Yer so weird."

"Says the man who organizes his ties by the weekday."

"Look in th' trash can."

"What?"

"Ties. Kitchen trash can."

"You did not."

"Did. Go see, if you don't b'lieve me."

"And fall victim to some evil prank? Fine, but not until after we have killed this patient. Who, it turns out, has no genitalia."

"How bad could he really wanna live?"

"Exactly! Too bad," House muses, "they don't explain how he lost his tools."

"Divorce?"

"Oh, Jimmy. I'd say that was cold, but I'm not the one who's oh-for-three."

"Hey, this's not fair. You get to use y'good hand."

House scoffs and gets to his feet. When he clomps off down the hall, Wilson figures there's been a change of mood and that the game's off.

And then House reappears with his right arm in the shower sling. Over the week, Wilson's become so accustomed to its outrageous ugliness that he barely even sees it anymore. But on House, the effect is astounding. The colors vibrate angrily against one another and collide at the edges with his red t-shirt. Wilson can't help chuckling.

"Bee-hold the Spandex gloh-ry, my brother," House pronounces, Baptist-preacher style. "And I thought your ties were atrocious," he adds, as he flops gracelessly onto the sofa beside Wilson. "I say you really should pitch 'em. First step in fashion rehab."

"Was nothin' wrong with 'em. But, toldja. Already did."

"Are you sick, Jimmy?" House gives him that blinking look of mock concern, and puts his free left hand on Wilson's forehead as if checking for fever. "Or are you an alien pod person? 'Cause if you ate Wilson's brain, that'd be -- well, the portion size wouldn't even have been worth -- ow!"

"Sorry," Wilson deadpans, as if he didn't really mean to jab his right elbow into House's ribs. "We gonna play, or not?"

So they play, the matched set of them, wrong-handed sling-wearing killers of eunuchs. That's how House describes them. Naturally House cheats, like the bastard he is. He does anything he can to destroy Wilson's concentration right at the critical moment. Wilson thinks of stabbing him with the tweezers, but decides against it, choosing instead to take a drink from his ever-present bottle of water. And then to pour a few drops of that water down House's back and--

BZZZZZT

House retaliates by deciding that it's time for a beer. Damn him and his flaunting of food and booze. He shuffles into the kitchen, where -- as Wilson knew it would -- his curiosity overtakes him. Wilson can hear the thunk of the trash can lid.

"Good God! There's enough silk in here to ... do something really witty that I can't think of right now." The fridge opens and there's a heavy clinking of glass, and then House is back with two bottles -- and one of Wilson's small plastic juice cups. "Your weepy, alcohol-deprived puppy faces are annoying," he announces, pouring a few ounces of beer into Wilson's cup.

"It's too soon," protests Wilson. "I shouldn't --"

"Okay!" House reaches for the sad little cup, but Wilson finds himself snatching it first. 

"Knew you'd want it. You're as bad as me. Admit it."

"You'd be drinkin' Scotch," Wilson quips. "This's not a drink. It's ... a condolence prize."

"So," House ponders, and sips greedily from his bottle, "wonderful as this news is, I've got to know." He leans back on the sofa and regards Wilson with intense curiosity. "What would cause James Wilson to send his precious pieces of neckwear to that Great Tie Rack in the Sky?"

"No," says Wilson, pausing to savor the taste of beer for the first time in what seems like years. "You don' hafta know. You wanna." Suddenly, he sounds a lot more serious than he meant to be. He didn't mean to be talking about this at all. "Think you wanna know, but you don't."

"Thinking I want to know is the same thing as wanting to know. Knock off the semantics."

"I din't like the taste." The words come out before his surprised brain can stop them. He doesn't want to think about this now. He's not even sure why the hell he told House about the ties in the first place.

"Taste? You know, you're not supposed to --"

Wilson glances over at him, willing him to either understand or shut up. Better yet, understand and shut up. House shuts up. The understanding takes only a few more seconds. There's a dawning horror in his eyes as the picture becomes clear. He looks down, fingering the strap of the spandex sling.

"That's what they used," he says, with quiet finality. "That's -- God, Wilson."

"Not 'they.' Just -- him." Wilson's staring straight ahead, into space, because he can't look at House and say these things. "Rest of th' time, I could scream if I wandid. Didn' help." In his peripheral vision he sees the flash of neon as House takes off that stupid sling and tosses it over the naked Operation man.  He wonders whether that gesture means House will have mercy on him, too.

"His name," says House, who is studying the floor, "is Martin."

"Oh."

"I never wanted you to know about him."

"Makes two've us." Wilson's silent for a while, his head throbbing at the thought of whatever might have happened to House all those years ago. He was only fourteen, and the monster was five years older, and that means House wouldn't have stood a chance. All House said was that he'd seen something Grey Eyes did. Wilson knows there's got to be more to it than that; House had to have suffered something worse than simply seeing.

"Whaddid he do t'you?"

House takes a long draw from his bottle of beer. "I owe you that story," he says, his voice soft, "but not now. Put it on my tab."

Wilson doesn't push. It's amazing that House has admitted there's a story at all, and anyway, Wilson's sick of this conversation. A minute ago he was almost happy, wasn't he? They'd been having fun. The game has lost its appeal, so Wilson wedges the pity beer between his knees and grabs the TV remote that's lying on the arm rest. He's hoping that House will just be House, in all his obnoxious splendor. So he turns on Trading Spaces.

"Do you watch anything that isn't lame? Give!"

Wilson feigns irritation as the remote vanishes from his hand. He can count on House to find something suitably stupid and tasteless. The manic channel-surfing no sooner starts, though, than it stops again. House sits still and looks at him.

What House wants is permission to touch. The request is halting, but open in its intent. He stretches out his hand toward Wilson's shoulder and then stops short, leaving room. There's a guarded, subtly questioning expression, all the disclaimers written clearly on his face: No big deal, I don't really care. Wilson, however, can read the fine print, which says Let me. Wilson's adept at playing dumb, as if he doesn't see the stark loneliness and the fear that House is hiding. He's pretending he doesn't know that House must grab hold of something and that if he can't reach his friend, he'll take whatever else he can find. The things House finds are never good for him.

As strange as this touching sometimes feels, Wilson always allows it. He leans very slightly to the right, toward House, who scoots closer even as he resumes the flipping of channels. He pushes his arm between the sofa cushions and Wilson's back, deftly avoiding the sore spots. They're close enough now so that Wilson can feel it when House chuckles, having finally found something to watch.

"Xena?"

"Don't knock it, Jimmy. Her outfit won an Emmy for best supporting role."

"I like th' blonde. Gabrielle."

"You watch this? Loser." He changes the channel.

"You don't? I's lesbians'n leather."

"WHAT?" House's eyes open wide, and then narrow in suspicion. "You're messing with me."

"You didn' know?" Wilson marvels, and snorts at him. "How c'd you not know? Yer hopeless." He would tell House to change it back, but House is already on it. Maybe this will be a decent evening, after all.
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