SUMMARY: Wilson finds his own ways to communicate. So does House.
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.
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.
That business card has lain on the bedside table for three weeks now, and it's stained with strawberry smoothie, but still perfectly legible.
House is pretending to watch TV and not to notice that Wilson's idly turning the thing over and over in his hand. Wilson wonders whether House thinks that he's really that oblivious, that he doesn't know he's being watched with intense and anxious interest.
House had handed over the card with obvious reluctance. Fear. "Cuddy," was all he had said, and nothing else had been needed. Wilson had looked it over, set it down, and composed a slow, one-handed email:
got psych card from house. thanks for your concern. i will think about it.
And he has thought about it, often. He has thought about the pressure to tell everything, to spill it all to a professional who's paid by the hour. He's thought about telling this woman all that happened, and he has discovered that the idea makes his head ache.
Wilson has met Elizabeth Simonds and he does not like her, but that's only part of the problem. Even if she's perfectly nice, she's yet one more perfectly nice stranger who wants to help him. Wilson can't tolerate any more of those. He's had his fill.
At last he fully understands why Eve rejected the qualified counselor and insisted on talking to House. Psychiatrists know what they're trained to know. House knows how it feels, what it is to live with an ache that never leaves. He projects that knowledge constantly; he always has, well before there was a cane and a bottle of pills.
House is a lousy therapist, of course. He's making himself look away, sitting far too still, thinking he's going to hide the hurt and fear that he's never been able to hide. If asked, he would say nothing's wrong.
Wilson would still much rather be here, in the living room of Denial himself, than in the office of any counselor. House is the devil he knows, the one who won't screw him up worse than he already is.
Someday, Wilson knows he will be strong enough to deal with counseling. He needs it, and he probably needs Wellbutrin. He'll deal with that whole mess later. At the moment, ironically, he's too badly hurt. He can't let someone else root around in his head. Can't let one more pair of clinical hands strip him down, assess the damage, try to fix him.
He fears the same thing House does. It was all there in House's eyes and in his posture, in the moment when he first handed over the card. House would have already imagined the shrink patiently telling Wilson, You've got to get out of that destructive relationship. Doctor House is not the kind of 'friend' you need.
Wilson has imagined it, too. He's too weak to hear that right now, too fragile to guard his own judgment against a professional opinion. House knows this; what he doesn't seem to know is that he's precisely the friend Wilson needs. He's the friend who understands just what happened and why. The one who knows how to take him in, surround him in pillows and quilts, and show not a shred of pity.
Someday, Wilson will be strong enough to dismiss anyone who tries to pull him away from House. He'll take the gamble on counseling then, when he can afford to do so.
Today is not that day, and neither is tomorrow. It's going to be a while.
Wilson gets up, the card still held between his fingers, and plucks two of his favorite comedies from the nearby DVD shelf. Those are for later in the evening; they're the variety of psychological help Wilson prefers right now. He sets the movies on the coffee table, merely glancing at House as he does so.
House is no longer pretending disinterest, but is openly watching every move Wilson makes; it's really quite amusing. Wilson keeps his expression carefully blank, gives nothing away. He makes his way toward the phone. With every step, he's aware of the increasing tension radiating from House. The phone, however, is not what Wilson wants. House has left his jacket slung across the kitchen counter next to the phone, and what Wilson wants is -- this. He fishes in the left jacket pocket and brings forth a cheap Bic lighter.
He's not wearing the sling at the moment -- Tomlinson's orders were to start spending some time out of it each day, exercising the shoulder joint -- but he's still only got one good hand. For what he wants to do, he'll need a volunteer from the audience.
Wilson holds the lighter and the card aloft, and aims a pointed look (a faint smirk, a raised eyebrow) at House, who is still on the sofa. Then he turns away and steps toward the kitchen sink, listening to the hasty shuffle of House's approach. He presents the lighter and House snatches it eagerly, flicking it into life. He's broadcasting his relief so powerfully that Wilson thinks human radio tower. Carefully, Wilson pinches one corner of the business card and holds it above the sink.
The little flame reflects in House's eyes as the card burns and curls and drops into the basin.
The last wisp of smoke rises; House puffs at it, blowing it into nothingness. Neither of them seems in a hurry to move. They stand there in the gloom, letting the evening light slip away from the window.
Wilson starts to turn away from the sink -- and feels a hand catch the sleeve of his shirt. Blinking, he turns in the other direction instead.
House says nothing. He stares like he's reading an x-ray, pulls Wilson's sleeve again, harder, and then his arms are around Wilson's sides, around his back.
Wilson does not question what this means, because he knows. He folds his own arms around House and stays that way, with his cracked ribs hurting a bit and House's chin hooked over his shoulder.
It's the safest feeling Wilson's had since that first, terrible day. He'll stay like this for as long as House is willing.