SUMMARY: When you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself.
CHARACTERS: OMC, House and Wilson.
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.
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. The author of this section also wishes to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of two outside sources. Their identities will be revealed, for proper credit, at the final unmasking.
Wednesday In the Park With Martin
It's a beautiful, sunny day, and the park is populated largely by moms and boisterous kids. Martin settles himself on a bench at the very edge of the park, and permits a small sigh of tiredness to escape as he unfolds his newspaper.
Getting older, he thinks ruefully. Still haven't recovered from jet lag and it's been two days.
The Air France flight had been uneventful, the Business Class food superb. He had chatted politely with the flight attendants, and had later been amused to overhear them talking about the nice American businessman in 13A who spoke such excellent French.
Before that, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, he'd sat through PowerPoint presentations in banquet halls filled with large men with high Slavic cheekbones. They'd all seemed to be named Oleg or Alexei—Russian Organizatsiya members who insisted on clapping him on the back and calling him nazvany bratan, a sworn brother. Or, in the truest slang sense of the phrase, a bro. Ice-cold vodka and glistening black caviar direct from the fisheries in Astrakhan had been served at every meal—these were not the kind of men concerned with the fate of the imperiled Caspian sturgeon. They thought the Sierra Club was an exclusive American spa for rich Californians.
Martin had nodded, and talked, and nodded some more, and smoked endless rounds of cigarettes in small rooms so blue with tobacco it had made his eyes water. Through it all, in the back of his mind, he'd been thinking of his previous assignment from Georgie Reno. And the more he had thought, the more curious he had become.
His first day back in New York had been a virtual repeat of his time in Russia—an appointment book crowded with meetings in stifling, smoke-filled rooms. Some of the same Organizatsiya men had been there, their sharp eyes hooded and wary in the unfamiliar city-scape.
There had been vodka, but no beluga. The American fare was aged prime sirloin and equally prime single malt, and the attendees had wolfed down the steak from bloody plates and demanded more.
At night he went back to his quiet, well-lit room at the Four Seasons and tried to read a few pages of his old copy of Xenophon's Anabasis, but he had to put the book down, unable to concentrate. It wasn't until the afternoon of the next day, when a Mafiya chieftain had greeted him with "Zdorovo, bratan!" and he'd looked into the bluest eyes he had ever seen, that he'd finally realized what he had to do.
A follow-up. That's all, just a day trip to Princeton and back. Perhaps even talk to Greg again, or at the very least inquire discreetly about Dr. Wilson's condition from his other sources. It would be interesting to see if he had learned his lesson—that it was unwise for people like Dr. Wilson to befriend people like Greg House.
And so Martin had donned one of his most innocent and unobtrusive of guises, that of an insurance agent, and made some of those discreet inquiries. The information had been ridiculously easy to obtain; insurance agents were the true arbiters of the currency of knowledge, and people would tell them anything, hoping to gain an advantage over their neighbor. What he had learned had left him stunned.
Not only was Dr. Wilson on the road to recovery, he was recuperating at the private residence of one Dr. Gregory House.
This, Martin had thought, after the shock had worn off, I have to see.
Martin leans back on the park bench and stretches out his long legs, waggling his feet a little to flex his ankles. The sun feels good on his shoulders—it had been a cool summer in Russia, and New York seems perpetually shadowed these days.
In past reunions, all he had done was poke at Greg, minor provocations designed to get Greg to react, to acknowledge his presence. Perhaps it's time to raise the ante. Idly, he begins running small logistical exercises in his head.
A small team. Three men. Classic invasion and extraction—commercial locks a minor inconvenience. Take the doctor to the cellar I used for the Roland contract and conduct a full interrogation. The man is already injured. He'll break in no time.
Almost as quickly as he thinks of it, Martin dismisses the idea. A team would obviously mean other people, and somehow that doesn't seem right for what should be a personal affair. This is a matter of Martin's puzzlement, his curiosity, his compulsion to pull on the loose string until the woven garment unravels, giving up the secret of its weaving.
Besides, the answers he wants can only come from the two of them.
Something small-scale then, a one-man mission with everything he needs carried in a backpack, and what he'll need first in the pockets of a light jacket.
Watch the apartment. Who comes, who goes. Greg is working; the insurance company said he'd cancelled the home health service. If he wants anyone to check on the doctor during the day he'll be sending someone he knows. So it would be someone from the hospital, which means they can't stay all day. Couple of hours at the most. When that person leaves, go in.
Martin stretches a little more and tilts his head back. He closes his eyes against the brightness of the sunlight. He'll keep this scenario running for a little while.
Where's the phone? They're paying for a hospital bed, so there might be a cell phone on the bedside tray. Layout of the apartment can't have changed much in ten years, so the bed will be ... here. Martin pinpoints a spot in his mind, between the bookcase and sofa. Have to move fast, but I've got the element of surprise. The doctor will certainly never have expected to see me again.
The ambient noise of the park fades away as Martin works.
He'll be getting up, trying to rise and reach for the phone at the same time. Stupid. Better off doing just the latter, but the human instinct is to move, classic fight or flight. He stops the exercise for a moment, calculating distances. I can cross that space in ... five or six good strides. Three or four seconds. Not enough time to react. He won't have made it to his feet, and if he has, he won't have made it away from the bed.
A small child screams nearby, but Martin ignores it.
One punch, directly on the broken left clavicle. Take him right down. Shove him back onto the bed. Never mind his left hand, that'll still be in a sling. Get the right wrist secured to the guardrail. Standard leather restraints, Velcro tabs. Rip it open, slap it closed. Martin's hands are resting lightly on his thighs. His fingers twitch. Struggling? Punch him again, same place or in the nose. Not in the mouth. Need for him to be able to talk. Hold him down with my weight. Cut the sling, get that left wrist out and strapped. Watch out for his feet, the battle's already won and it would be stupid to get kicked in the head. Strap the ankles to the rails. Don't stop yet—recheck the restraints, pull them tight because he'll be fighting them. Rope in the backpack, you can use that if necessary. Done?
Martin opens his eyes.
"Done," he whispers.
Martin uses the same hunting knife he'd cut the sling with to cut off the doctor's t-shirt and shorts. His captive has stopped struggling, but he grunts and tries to twist his hips away when the cold steel blade glides along his thigh. Martin pays no attention and continues stripping him.
"No," the bound man whispers, the word gritted out between wired jaws.
"Now, Doctor," Martin drawls. He tosses the pieces of clothing aside and lays a gentle hand on the man's warm stomach. "Is that any way to greet an old friend?" He begins to rub the doctor's belly, then moves up to his prisoner's chest. He watches the doctor's face; the man has squeezed his eyes shut and is holding himself in a rigid, unyielding line. Martin allows his hand to drift lower and gives a playful tweak to the doctor's flaccid penis. The man gasps; his right hand clenches into a fist and he yanks helplessly at his tethers. Martin brings his hand back up and casually, almost as an afterthought, pokes roughly at the physician's healing splenectomy incision. The doctor jerks; the muscles and tendons in his shoulders and biceps stand out as he strains to pull his wrists free. Martin wraps one large hand around the doctor's throat and pushes him back down, holds him there until his captive stops struggling.
"We're going to have a talk now," Martin advises him softly.
"Go t'hell," the doctor whispers, and Martin feels the thrum of vocal cords beneath his palm, the rapid pulse of the carotid under his thumb.
The physician's eyes belie his defiance. They're welling with tears, the result of pain, humiliation, and the inability to lash out at his tormentor.
Martin's seen it all before.
"But you don't even know what we'll be discussing," he chides. "You wouldn't want to miss out on the surprise, now would you?"
He chuckles as the doctor's eyes widen.
"But first," Martin continues, "a libation, so you'll be in the right frame of mind to tell me all your little ... secrets." He looks around the room, then nods in satisfaction. The doctor moans as Martin pulls the IV stand from its storage place behind the piano.
"No," he murmurs, then "No!" as Martin sets the rigging beside the bed. He begins to fight again, twisting and writhing, and in the end Martin is glad he brought the rope.
He works slowly, taking his time, and when he pulls the last cord taut with a tight knot, the doctor is unable to move. His eyes are wide and filled with terror, and he's still chanting that "No!" as Martin wipes down a vein in the crook of his left arm with a cool antiseptic swab. A wordless wail rises in its place when Martin slips the cannula home.
"Compazine," Martin says calmly, as he secures the IV with surgical tape. "I'd rather you didn't choke on your own vomit before we've finished our little chat." He doesn't tell the doctor what's in the other syringes that he'll push into the drip.
A small amount of morphine—a gift. Versed, to relax the doctor's muscles and increase his sensation of helplessness. A low dose of ketamine, to reduce his social inhibitions and loosen his tongue. As backups, Martin has brought along sodium thiopental and LSD.
For some reason, he thinks wryly, interrogation subjects often find it easier to tell their deep, dark secrets to large pink rabbits.
Already the doctor's respiration is slowing, and his hands are limp in their shackles. His eyes have become glassy, the pupils shrinking, and he seems to be looking at something far away.
Martin smiles and brushes the doctor's tousled hair, damp with sweat, away from his forehead. His captive mumbles something and tries to turn his head aside but can't quite complete the motion. Martin settles back to wait for the cocktail of drugs to take full effect. Something nudges against his right leg, and he looks down.
Plaintive brown eyes are gazing into his own, and Martin blinks. The big black Lab pants happily, grinning a sloppy doggy grin, and pushes at Martin's leg again, urging him to take the slimy tennis ball it's holding in its big drooling mouth. The noises of the public park rise around them.
Martin curses—he's just broken one of his own cardinal rules, but at the same time he realizes it's better to drift off on a campus park bench in Princeton than, say, Moscow, where the Chechen Obshchina might find him and set him on fire just for the hell of it. Even the strong men of the Russian Organizatsiya had been scared of the Chechens. He's schooled himself to calmness and is petting the dog when a child, a little girl who can't be more than nine or ten, joins the animal.
"I'm sorry, mister," she pipes breathlessly. "Badge doesn't usually bother strangers like this."
"Quite all right," Martin reassures her. The dog pushes into his hand, and for a moment Martin takes pleasure in the sensual contrast of soft fur and the hardness of canine skull under the skin. He gently removes the ball from the animal's mouth and throws it—the dog gives a deep-throated woof! of joy and bounds after it.
"Animals love me."
Martin picks up his newspaper again, but gives it only a cursory glance before he sets it back down.
And then? He narrows his eyes, surveying the park. I ask the doctor questions. When did he and Greg meet? How? All the answers, so that I'll understand the why and the wherefore, the seen and the unseen, what Greg takes and what, if anything, he gives.
A blue jay squawks at Martin from a nearby tree, and others of its kind take up the call.
And when Greg walks in the door? Martin considers the question, turning it over in his mind and examining it from every angle. He'll be ... surprised, at first, he admits. But then his true nature will take over, after I show him what I've done. Greg has always had a sharp scientific curiosity, a brilliant, inquiring mind, and he'll be intrigued. Drawn in.
What if the doctor objects? Martin rolls his shoulders in a mock shrug; the muscles are warm and loose now from the sun's heat. Tape his mouth shut. He's not part of this conversation. He looks around lazily. As a matter of fact, the doctor's usefulness will be at an end anyway. Administer a surgical dose of pancuronium—the IV is already set up and the three or four minutes it takes for him to suffocate will be much cleaner than slitting his throat.
Martin stands up at last and rubs his palms together briskly. He tucks the paper under his arm and slips on his sunglasses.
Everything's open, everything's a possibility, he thinks, then stares as a pair of familiar figures make their slow way into the park.
At first he laughs softly—the oversize green trucker's hat looks ridiculous on the doctor's head, but he's not really surprised by it. Many of Martin's guests in the past have felt the need to hide after experiencing his brand of hospitality.
He watches, amused, as the two men settle themselves on a bench. Dr. Wilson is obviously exhausted from the short excursion and doesn't raise his head. Greg, on the other hand, is alert, scanning the park for possible signs of danger.
Good boy, Martin thinks approvingly. Smart boy. He continues to watch, willing himself into the background of other parkgoers as he sees Greg begin to relax, gradually letting his guard down. Only then does Martin raise his hand in a jaunty wave.
Greg's reaction is immediate—and gratifying. It's the shock of instant recognition, and yet he remains still, giving almost nothing away. What he does next, though, both surprises and puzzles Martin—Greg stands up, and places himself between Martin and the doctor.
Well now. Martin cocks his head, watching as Greg helps the other man to his feet. They leave the park even more slowly than they entered, and Martin takes note of every time they stop for a moment so that Dr. Wilson can rest.
He leans against Greg, and Greg allows it.
Martin stands for a long moment, lost in thought.
I will have to ... give this more consideration, he concludes at last. It was just a mental drill anyway—it would be an odd exercise, to say the least, to force a captive to talk about ... what? "Love"? Admittedly, it's a word with which Martin is unfamiliar, and it certainly has never come up in his line of work. Then again, this isn't work.
It is a puzzle, though, and while Martin has always been attracted to puzzles, he's also a professional and knows he shouldn't get more involved than he already is.
No. He certainly shouldn't.
Still, he could make a few more day trips.
Martin savors the stretch of his lips as he smiles. A small child begins to cry.
He'll watch. Observe. Play some small games.
And then he'll decide.