SUMMARY: Truth hurts.
CHARACTERS: House, Wilson, Chase
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.
No interesting case means House gets home while it's still daylight. Well, sorta, he thinks as he looks up at the twilight sky before heading into the building. He finally has the unlocking of the new lock and deadbolt down to an automatic sequence, and he makes sure to call for Wilson as he steps inside.
There's no response, not even the thump of a fist against a wall, and his heart speeds up just a little. "Wilson?" he calls again, louder, as he locks the door behind him and sets his helmet on the table.
He's turning to take off his jacket when he spots the paper lying on the floor by the front door. The pink paper. A fucking Financial Times is tightly folded on his fucking floor.
"Oh, you sick fuck," House mutters under his breath, then he takes off for the kitchen. He can be fast when he needs to be, and all the while he's hoping, hell, praying that Wilson's still in the apartment and that they're the only ones in the apartment.
The kitchen is empty, the block of knives overturned on the counter. Back in the living room, the phone—handset, base, wires—is strewn over the floor. Each piece is intact but that doesn't mean it's a good sign. The couch and coffee table are shifted at odd angles, and the one good lamp has been tipped onto the couch cushions. House growls.
The hallway is longer than he remembers; the bathroom is empty, the bedroom door is closed. House takes a deep breath and shifts his grip on the cane, holding it like a club. Slowly, he pushes open the door.
The bedroom is cast in shadows, and House can't make out anything except the bulk of the bed. House breathes a grunt of almost-relief—if the sick bastard were here, he'd have revealed himself by now.
"Wilson?" he calls again, and his heart races in the silence that greets him. Wilson had better be—
He becomes aware of a soft panting sound, and House looks down to see Wilson, sitting curled next to the doorway, his knees drawn up tight against his chest. The light from the hall glints off the large knife Wilson's holding in his good hand.
The grunt House had let out earlier is nothing compared to the way his body relaxes at the sight. He shifts until he's leaning back against the door and facing Wilson. He says, quietly, "The eleven-inch knife's overkill, don't you think? I'd've gone with the eight, myself."
Wilson's panting slows, just a little. He's staring resolutely at the bedpost across the room.
House leans harder against the door and the cane; he needs the brace against the weakness in his knees. "Doesn't really matter, I guess," he continues, working hard to keep his voice steady. "I'm just glad you didn't stick me with that thing."
"Heard," Wilson half-whispers. His breathing is getting closer to normal, but the knife is still shaking and his eyes don't move. "Knew 't was you."
House is glad for the support of the door; he's surprised by how much he needed Wilson to still be in there. Only now he doesn't know what else to say. He silently curses psychiatry, psychology, and his own stubborn self. Had he not been so dismissive during his psych rotations, he might be able to handle this without making it worse. He briefly thinks of the card Cuddy gave him, on the end table next to Wilson's bed, but quickly banishes the thought. A third party right now would definitely make it worse.
He takes a deep breath and lets it out in a slow sigh. Wilson mimics the action.
"So," House says after a moment.
One of Wilson's eyelids twitch, but that's all the response House gets.
"You want to put down the knife now?"
"No," Wilson replies, his knuckles flexing white as he tightens his grip on the handle.
House transfers his cane, rubs his palm on his jeans, and resumes his original position. "Okay, then how about unclenching yourself? You're not doing your ribs any favors."
Wilson blinks, slowly, like he's finally reconnecting with all his nerve endings. He tenses as if to try to move, but hisses in a breath and relaxes again almost immediately. With one arm strapped to his chest and the other occupied by the knife, he's got no way of helping himself unfold his knees. "Can't," he says miserably.
"Okay," House says quietly as he slowly lowers himself to the floor. "Okay, I'm going to help you, then." He keeps talking as he scoots himself closer. "We've got to straighten you out first. To do that, I'm going to have to pull on your ankles." He looks up; Wilson is finally looking at him from behind the knife blade. "Wilson?"
Wilson nods his head.
"Don't stab me," House mutters as he wraps one hand around Wilson's ankle and rests the other on his knee. Wilson's body tenses under his fingers, then shudders and relaxes. Gingerly, House straightens first one leg, then the other. He looks up to find Wilson watching him intently.
He rubs his face with one hand. "I don't think I can help you off this floor if you don't put the knife down," he admits. When Wilson glances away, he says quickly, "But we can stay here until you're ready. Okay?"
Wilson looks back.
"Comfortable?" House asks.
Wilson nods, once. House scoots back until he's once again leaning against the door.
It's fully dark outside before Wilson finally speaks. "He was here."
Again House wishes that he had some idea of what the hell he was doing, some idea about how to fix the unfixable. "I saw," he replies quietly. "He didn't—"
"No," Wilson cuts him off. "The door never opened." His fingers flex around the knife handle again.
House really wants to grab Wilson by the shoulders and pepper him with questions. But that would get him stabbed, so he keeps quiet.
"I wen' to the kitchen. I was gonna make sm 'mato soup. I wandid oo take a nap 'fore you got home." Wilson's words are quiet and coming fast; House has to strain to understand him. "I was sittin' on the bed when the paper came through the mail slot." He starts to shake again.
"Jesus," House mutters and scrubs at his face with both hands. "Fuck."
"That fucking pink paper," Wilson whispers. He sits for a moment, then his breath hitches. "Wait. You saw what?"
House twitches, looking up to see Wilson staring at him intently. "I...saw the...on the floor. The paper."
"But you knew what it meant. You were panicked."
House shifts uncomfortably, reluctant to look at Wilson.
"You've been acting weird, even for you. What aren't you telling me?" For the first time in weeks, Wilson looks like his entire focus is on something other than himself. House is not particularly happy that Wilson's new focus is on him.
"I never told you about the paper," Wilson says harshly.
"He always reads that paper," House replies quickly. He's busy studying the drapes on the other side of the room, so he startles when Wilson sends the knife skidding across the floor under his bed. Somehow Wilson has managed to regain his feet by the time House stands up, and House barely has his cane under him when Wilson steps up close, forcing him back against the door. Wilson is so close House can't look away; maybe that's his intention.
"When he was nineteen?" Wilson whispers. House can almost see the gears turning, wishes for a moment that Wilson wasn't as smart as he was. "You're a fucking liar. He showed you. You saw him. You knew he wasn't gone."
House swallows, hard. "Yeah," he croaks.
House could lie, but standing this close, Wilson would see it. Wilson can see him contemplating it even now and shoves his shoulder into the door.
"Almost two weeks," House barely whispers, and Wilson's eyes widen. "I just...see him. He makes himself seen. On the street, in the grocery store. He wanted me to know he's still in town."
Wilson steps back. "And you never though' to tell me." He sounds quiet, almost crushed.
"What was I going to say?" House says loudly. "Hey, Wilson, that sadistic bastard who fucked us both over hasn't left town yet? You're getting better; you didn't need to know."
"Yeah, much better to find out this way." Wilson shoulders past House and starts painfully down the hall.
House follows; he's not done yet. "Wilson, this is what he does. He shows up, he fucks with me for a while, he leaves. I didn't think he'd involve you."
"You see where that kind of thinking has gotten us." Wilson's standing near the hospital bed, his good hand on the pillow, his back to House.
House knows better than to touch him. "The only way to get through it is to keep our heads down and not panic. Eventually he'll go away."
Wilson turns to face House, slowly, and shakes his head. His eyes are wide, incredulous. He gurgles harshly in his chest; it takes House a beat to realize Wilson is laughing. Almost hysterically, definitely painfully, but laughing nonetheless. "Tha's great, House. We won' panic."
"It's a game to him. He gets off on it, on fu—"
His words are smashed, along with his lips, back into his teeth as Wilson's fist connects solidly with his face.
He staggers backward, prevented from falling only by the corner of the hallway wall jamming painfully between his shoulderblades. For a moment, he leans against the wall and watches Wilson, standing with his right hand still clenched in a fist, his eyes flat and dark and narrow. Wilson isn't laughing now.
House brings his free hand to his face, glances down at the blood slicked across his fingertips. "Jesus, Wilson," he whispers through swelling lips.
Wilson's face is emotionless now, made more mask-like by the odd way his lips stretch over the wires. "Call Chase," he says. "And get out."
House makes no move as Wilson brushes past him. He listens to Wilson's painful steps down the hallway and the snick of the bathroom door closing. He wants to shout, to growl, to break open the door and make sure Wilson's okay, make him listen to reason. Instead he looks back down at his bloody fingers and breathes, "Fuck."
House manages to get mostly cleaned up while waiting for Chase to arrive. He can feel his face swelling, but he's stopped bleeding and in the dim light of the living room it's not too obvious. The sound of the shower effectively stops House from attempting to open the bathroom door, so he hangs a change of clothes on the knob. He comes back to the desk, where Wilson's luggage lays open, keeping his things in easy reach. Even with one hand, Wilson has somehow managed to keep his t-shirts folded. House glances around the living room, cataloging Wilson's other belongings. It won't take long for Chase to pack Wilson up.
Chase looks almost surprised by the speed with which House answers his knock. He glances at House's face, down at the bloody spot on his shirt, then looks over House's shoulder into the apartment. "Hey," he mutters. He doesn't look entirely happy about being called into service.
House isn't exactly happy about having to call him, either. He scowls and steps back to let Chase in.
"So, same orders as before?" Chase asks with forced lightness as he pulls his bag over his shoulder and turns back to House, who hasn't closed the door. "Fetch and carry, entertain and amuse?"
House points down the hallway. "He's in the shower. Make sure he's okay, give him his meds, feed him. Make sure he sleeps. You can sleep on the couch." He tucks a wad of cash in Chase's shirt pocket. "Wilson's your master now; do whatever he asks. But don't even think about leaving him alone. And don't open the door, for anyone, for any reason. Not even wet and naked Carmen Electra." He glares until Chase nods his understanding. "Lock the door behind me."
With that, House turns, grabs his helmet from the side table, and leaves.