SUMMARY: One of the classic blunders
CHARACTERS: Chase, Foreman, 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.
All the way over, Foreman bitched about House.
Once in the door, he might have said “Hello” to Wilson, but Chase can’t remember, as buried as the greetings were in Foreman’s avalanche of bitching about House.
Chase followed Wilson into the kitchen to help him get drinks for everyone, while Foreman stayed in the living room. And kindly raised his voice so they could continue to listen to him as he bitched about House.
Now Wilson’s in the bathroom – he walked down the hall quicker than was probably good for him, Chase noticed – and Foreman is… driving Chase right over the edge.
“Hey, Foreman,” Chase says explosively, interrupting a string of synonyms for “arrogant.”
From his perch on the piano bench, Foreman blinks twice and actually shuts his mouth, which leaves a nice empty silence for Chase’s next words.
“Your grandmother was a slut.”
Foreman’s look is one of pure bewilderment. “What?”
“Slut. S-l-u-t.” Leaning back into the sofa cushion and tilting his head slightly, Chase thinks for a second. “I was sure that was a word used in American vernacular. Well, in case not, it means a woman of loose morals who has sex with a lot of men.”
Now there’s some anger mixed in with the confusion. “Are you trying to play the dozens again? Because you really, really suck at it.”
“Nope,” Chase says casually. “Not a joke.”
“Then what the hell?” Foreman’s on his feet, stepping in front of Chase. His arms cross and his biceps flex. “How do you think you can get away with saying something like that about my grandmother?”
Sitting up straight, Chase lets the anger flow to his own face, lets his mouth tighten and his gaze harden. “Maybe the same way you can come into a man’s home, the only one he’s got, and insult the friend who’s taking care of him. And do it not once, but over and over and over.”
“That’s –” Foreman takes a step back, and his brow furrows. His eyes lose some focus, turn questioning. “That’s different. It’s House, and what I’m saying is true, not a lie, and –”
Foreman backs up again and sits on the bench. After a pause, he finishes, “It’s nothing Wilson hasn’t heard before.”
“But do you really think he wants to hear it now?” Or ever? is the follow-up question in Chase’s mind, but as long as Foreman shuts up today, Chase’ll wait until tomorrow to worry about tomorrow.
They sit in silence for a minute. Chase hauls the board game House insisted they bring over into his lap and opens up the box. It’s Risk, the game of global domination – completely House – and Chase tries to remember strategy from when he played this as a kid. His friends always tried to conquer Australia first, but was that strategy or just national pride? He gets a second to contemplate that conundrum before Foreman speaks up.
“I’ll apologize,” he says with a determined nod.
Chase rolls his eyes as he unfolds the game board onto the coffee table. “Or you could just drop it.”
“Apologizing now would be about you, not him. Drop it.” He doesn’t bother looking up to see Foreman’s don’t tell me what to do, damn it glare. “What color do you want?”
Petulantly, Foreman retorts, “How do you even know he wants to play?”
“’Zat Rshk?” Wilson asks eagerly, as he walks back into the room. “Bin ages since I played.”
“The coffee table’s too low to be a comfortable playing surface,” Foreman comments, because he’s got to be right about something.
Chase hides a smirk, and puts the board temporarily back into the box. “Where should it go then?”
After a few false starts, they end up with the game on Wilson’s bedside table, which adjusts low enough that Chase and Wilson can reach it from the couch. The piano bench is a few inches taller, so Foreman has to stoop to roll the dice, but he seems to have accepted that as a penance.
It takes a few minutes for the three of them to get used to the newer pieces of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. “Di’nt these used to be rum ’n nimmels?” Wilson asks, and Chase has to stop shuffling the cards, he’s so perplexed as to what nimmels could be. His brain wants to turn the word into “nipples” but there’s no way in hell that’s right.
“Yeah,” Foreman replies, laying down a piece in Brazil. “One, five, and ten. And, also a two or a three, I think.” He catches Chase’s confused look, and explains, “The pieces used to be plastic Roman numerals, remember?”
“Oh,” Chase says, and claims Irkutsk.
As the game progresses, Chase builds his base in Australia first and then slowly makes his way through Asia. Wilson gains a stronghold in Europe, while Foreman fortifies his troops in South America. North America and Africa are still being hotly contested when the phone rings and the answering machine clicks on.
“Statistically, three dice is always the best bet when attacking,” House says without preamble, “and speaking of kicking someone’s ass, you’d better not have distracted Wilson from eating his lunch or my Nikes will be making contact with your backsides. Yours too, Wilson.”
Chase is surprised to see that it’s almost one o’clock. “Sorry about that,” he says to Wilson, who has grabbed his cell phone and punched in the letters A-S-S.
After sending the message off, Wilson tosses his cell back on the table and replies, “’M a big boy. Can handle m’own lunch.”
“But why bother,” Foreman asks, standing and stretching, “when you can have Chase make it for you?”
Presumptuous git, Chase thinks, but dismisses him and follows Wilson into the kitchen. Last time, it wasn’t too hard to make Wilson a smoothie; he can certainly do it again.
Wilson has the refrigerator door open and is staring glumly at the contents. “Not much here for you guys.”
“No need. We picked up sandwiches at Subway on the way over.”
Wilson’s lips stretch in what is clearly intended to be a sneer. He hands a recipe to Chase – cinnamon pumpkin milk shake – and then starts rummaging in a cabinet. “What kinda subs didja get?” he calls over his shoulder.
“Turkey,” replies Chase.
“Italian,” says Foreman, as he leans against the sink and watches Chase gather all the ingredients for the smoothie.
“Here.” Wilson tosses a little bottle Foreman’s way, and Foreman catches it easily. For a second, Chase thinks it’s a pill bottle, but it doesn’t rattle.
At Foreman’s questioning eyebrow, Wilson explains, “Seas’nin’ blend. Ensure’s got more flav’r ’n those subs.”
The thought would never have occurred to Chase – fast food is fast food – but when he tries it, the seasoning does give the sandwich a little spark. They’re all settled back in the living room, in different seats, by mutual unspoken consent taking a break from the game while they eat.
Foreman, sitting on the other side of the couch, eats his sub gingerly, as if he’s never eaten from a plate on his lap before, which is kind of strange. Wilson notices and smiles down at them from the hospital bed, where he’s molded himself into the raised headboard so deeply that he looks like he’s being absorbed into the mattress.
They pass the next few minutes companionably quiet, munching and sipping. Chase hadn’t realized how hungry he was until he took his first bite, and now he kind of wishes he had a second sandwich. Then he looks up at Wilson, whose face is every bit as sharp and thin as it was the last time Chase was here, and feels grateful that he’s even able to eat a sandwich at all.
Maudlin, he chastises himself, and he’s happy when Wilson starts the conversation again.
“So why ’zactly were you banished today?”
Foreman snorts loudly. Chase shoots him a warning look not to go off to the races again, but he’s just shaking his head. “For not being psychic.”
Wilson raises an eyebrow and slurps his shake loudly. Chase explains, “We had what we thought was a really interesting case. The lab results from the medical history weren’t matching what we were seeing now, and Foreman and I thought the patient’s condition was taking a new course.”
“All-day Clinic duty,” Chase explains.
“Based on everything we knew, it was the right conclusion,” Foreman insists, and crosses his arms. He’s still pissed at House, probably will be pissed for days, but he’s holding back from talking about it. Chase is kind of proud of him, as overly familiar as that may seem.
Wilson’s eyebrow has never gone down; he’s obviously waiting for the punch line.
“Massive transcription errors in the patient’s chart,” Chase confesses. “The numbers were all correct, but had been recorded in the wrong places.”
“It’s ridiculous, truly ridiculous,” Foreman interjects.
“Chart err’rs or you not catchin’ ’em?” It’s a harsh question wrapped in a kind tone. Chase admires how Wilson can do that.
Crumpling up his sandwich paper with more force than is necessary, Foreman leans forward. “That House expected us to know that the numbers had been flipped. They were all reasonable, so there was no way to pick up that they weren’t correct. If we’d seen, say, a patient temperature of 200 degrees, we would’ve known something was up.”
“Patt’rn didn’ seem strange?”
Foreman shakes his head. “Of course it did. House wouldn’t take a case unless it was strange.”
“Mm hm,” Wilson says, and puts down his shake. It’s obvious that he’s thinking something, but Chase doesn’t know what it is. “Wha’ happened to the patient?”
“Transferred to Cardiology,” Chase replies. “Once we got the chart figured out, she was pretty much textbook. Boring, as House would say.”
Wilson is slowly moving and turning to get off of the bed. It looks slightly painful, but Wilson’s eyes are twinkling. “’N to tranfer ’er you paged Michaels in Pu’m’nology ’stead of Michaels in Cardiology.”
Another mistaken switch, on top of the numbers in the chart… When Wilson puts it that way, it is kind of funny. Chase lets out a chuckle, and even Foreman’s got a twinge of a smile.
“How'd you know?” Foreman asks.
“Hint from House.” Wilson’s off the bed, standing tall. “You wanna drink, go get one, ’cause I’m ’bout to kick yer feeble butts outta North America.”
“You can try,” Foreman retorts on his way to the kitchen, and Chase laughs as he hands over the dice.