SUMMARY: You can run, but you can't hide.
CHARACTERS: House, Wilson, OMC
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 Worst of All Possible Worlds
The couch in Wilson's office is squeaky and surprisingly comfortable, but after the emotional turmoil of the day House can't fall asleep easily, and so he spends a couple of long hours staring at the ceiling.
It's perhaps a measure of his desperation that he simply hadn't known where else to go. Cuddy would have asked too many questions and expected answers -- answers that he's still not ready to give. Wilson's office has a door that locks, so he'll camp out here, use the connecting balcony to appear in his own office tomorrow morning as if he's just come from the apartment. Everything will seem completely normal.
The operative word, of course, being "seem."
Wait him out, House thinks wearily. He'll tire of his game and leave when I don't react. He always does. Then I can try and pick up the pieces.
If there are any pieces left to be picked up, a soft little voice in his mind points out, and House is so, so sick of that little voice. And what if he doesn't go away this time? What if he decides to change the rules?
Bars on the windows. Gun. No, something bigger. A howitzer. Maybe that'll keep Martin away. He turns onto his left side, buries his face in the pillow Wilson keeps in his office.
The pillow smells faintly of Wilson -- aftershave, something cedar-y, and the clean, lemon hint of shampoo. The little voice has fallen silent.
Flamethrower. Bear trap. Bomb. That's it. Some kind of bomb. Blow Martin up into a million pieces, wipe him off the face of the earth.
And a bomb would be particularly apt, seeing as how this has blown up so spectacularly in his face.
Big bomb, House thinks. Big, big bomb.
It takes him a moment to realize where he is -- he's never woken up to Wilson's model sailboat, seemingly cruising towards him, an invisible wind in its rigging. He sits up slowly; his leg is aching from not sleeping in his own bed and he straightens it out carefully. He fishes his cellphone from his pocket and punches in his own number.
There's no answer.
House frowns and looks at the tiny backlit screen. Yup, that's the right number. He tries again.
There's an explanation, he tells himself. Wilson probably wanted one of those girly coffees from Starbucks and Chase went to get him one.
He tries Chase's cell.
No answer. He lets it ring ten times, twelve, fifteen. Fingers beginning to tremble, he pages Chase. Come on, he whispers, repeating it like a mantra. Come on, come on, come on, fucking answer!
But Chase doesn't answer, and House barely ties his shoelaces before he's out the door and on his bike.
The apartment door is closed and reassuringly locked, but House can't shake the terrible feeling that something's wrong, so deeply and unreservedly wrong that there aren't even words for it. The feeling only grows when he steps inside the apartment and calls for Wilson.
There's no response, not even the hollow thump of a fist against a wall, and his pulse begins to speed up. "Wilson?" he calls again, louder, as he locks the door behind him and sets his helmet on the table. "Chase?"
He's turning to take his jacket off when he spots it. The pink paper. A fucking Financial Times is tightly folded on his fucking coffee table.
"Oh, you sick son of a bitch," House mutters, and pivots quickly, looking around.
The living room is silent and empty; the blankets and top sheet of Wilson's bed lie in a twisted tangle on the floor. Telephone components are strewn around the living room; the receiver's been stomped into sharp plastic fragments and the phone cord, ripped from the wall outlet, resembles a thin beige snake coiled beside it. The coffee table and the sofa are shifted at odd angles, and the one good lamp has been tipped onto the sofa cushions.
Wilson's laptop is also on the floor. Its screen blinks frantically, scrolling bright green machine language as it tries to reboot itself.
House growls. He takes a deep breath and brings his cane up, holding it in front of him in both hands like a shinai in Japanese kendo. The adrenaline is pumping through his system like he's hotwired into some blazing biological circuit, and it takes all of his self-control to move cautiously down the hallway.
It's in this way that he almost trips over Chase.
Oh fuck, House breathes. Oh Jesus oh fuck. He kneels awkwardly; Chase is lying on his back, arms outflung. His mouth is open in a curious round "O", frozen forever in an expression of astonishment. The bullet hole in his right temple, where Martin administered the coup de grace, is surprisingly small, with a dark ring of powder burn around it. Reflexively, House touches his neck, feels for a pulse, but Chase's body is already cool.
House draws in a shuddering, gasping breath. He can see it all -- Martin at the door, cloaked in night. Getting Chase to open up, talking his way in, then turning cold eyes on Chase that make him back away, the gun coming up ...
Martin always did have a way with words. Charming, charming bastard --
There's a soft noise from the bedroom; House's head jerks up. Nothing he can do for Chase. He rises slowly and pushes open the door with his cane.
All the lights are on in the bedroom, and House blinks for a moment as his eyes adjust.
"Sherlock!" Martin's voice is jovial and welcoming. "We've been waiting for you!"
The fear in House's gut threatens to explode into an overwhelming panic as he surveys the scene in front of him, and he struggles to stay calm.
Martin is there, sitting comfortably in a kitchen chair. His craggy face brightens in a happy smile, and he pats Wilson's head affectionately.
"See?" he says. "I told you he'd come."
Wilson doesn't answer -- there's a strip of duct tape across his mouth. He's on his knees, hands tied behind his back, and Martin has him positioned between his legs like some kind of goddamn faithful dog. Wilson looks at House, his eyes clear and accusing.
Your fault, they seem to say. All your fault. Why didn't you stop him when you had the chance?
"I couldn't!" House says desperately. "I was just a kid! What --"
What the fuck is going on here?
Martin laughs; it's a joyous, rolling laugh, full of good humor and amusement, and he picks up something that's been resting in his lap the entire time. The knife glitters in the lamplight.
"We'll have fun, I think. Just like the old days."
"Martin ... no," House whispers. His tongue feels thick and heavy, and he stumbles over the words. His lips hurt. Why do his lips hurt? This is wrong, this is all wrong.
Martin stares at him; his voice is maddeningly calm.
"I'm using the eight-inch, just as you suggested," he says. He fists his right hand in Wilson's hair and yanks his head back.
"You should have kept the friend you had, Greg," Martin says softly. "In the end, the others will always leave you."
And with a swift, sure stroke, he draws the blade across Wilson's throat.
"NO!" House screams, and bolts upright.
There's a boat, its sails a ghostly white from the glow of the hospital streetlights outside. Wilson's office. He's in Wilson's office, on Wilson's couch, and it was all ...
House is breathing hard, panting like he's just run a marathon. He pulls his cellphone from his pocket and frantically punches in his own number.
It's ringing -- "Pick up, pick up," House chants out loud. "Pick up pick up will you pick up the fucking --"
Chase's voice, muzzy with sleep.
"Chase!" House barks.
"House? What's the -- are you okay?"
House hesitates. What can he say? No, I'm not okay; I just dreamed I got both you and Wilson killed by a psycho fuck who's succeeded in turning my goddamn life completely upside down? Something like that?
"House?" Chase's voice is sharper now, concerned.
"Nothing," House says at last. "Never mind. Just ... go back to sleep, okay?"
He snaps the phone shut before Chase can ask any more questions.
House repeats to himself, silently and in the dark, "They're safe. They're safe. They're -- "
You have to stop running, the little voice whispers.
He doesn't go back to sleep.