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Bad Company

Aftershocks 45.3: Lifeline



Aftershocks 45.3: Lifeline

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TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: No one's going to give him his life back -- he has to take it.
CHARACTERS: Wilson and 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.


It's the music that begins to pull Wilson out of his deep sleep.

They'd gotten home around 3, and he'd been moving so slowly, his back aching, his collarbone throbbing, his jaw feeling like someone had smacked him in the face with an aluminum baseball bat. At the hospital, House had simply taken his car keys away from him, and Wilson had had neither the strength nor the desire to try and get them back.

He'd felt almost as bad as the very first time Jerry had helped him out of bed in the hospital, hauled him up like a little kid, and gently set him on his feet. Now he's back in a hospital bed, drugged and helpless by whatever House had quickly mixed up and shoved into his hand.

Wilson turns his head a little but doesn't move otherwise. He doesn't know what time it is, and there's no clock within his direct line of sight. From the shadows he guesses it's around six -- as the season has begun its slow change they've been getting longer, but the daytime temperatures haven't abated yet. Still, it's pleasantly cool in the apartment, and there's that music, someone playing a piano ...

House, he thinks, and smiles just a little, and doesn't it feel good to just smile with clean lips, lips that aren't coated with too-slick petroleum crap from a tube. He tries to open his mouth a little, to ask House what he's playing, but his jaw advises him otherwise and so he lies quietly, letting the music wash over him.

Whatever it is, it's beautifully structured, an architecturally perfect piece of music, that builds note upon note in a gorgeous, soaring expanse of sound. Sometimes House plays Chopin, or Debussy, or a playful, syncopated ragtime, but this sounds older, much older. The notes climb and double back, layering onto themselves in a dense, mathematical proof. Bach. Something from The Well-Tempered Clavier, or one of the Goldberg Variations. He frowns a little -- it seems like it's been a long time since House has played, not since ...

He turns his face into the pillow then, to stifle the tears that threaten to overtake him, and simply allows the music to bear him away.

It makes the bed seem to tilt gently, shift, float around -- something like the way it will seem to do when you go to sleep after having been out on a boat for several hours. He's drifting, not really awake but aware of where he is and still feeling that very interesting sensation, and it doesn't hurt and he would like it to continue for a while.

When James Wilson was seven, he helped his dad and his older brother build a treehouse in the big old oak in their backyard. That had been back when everything was still "normal," before it all broke down and no one had dared put it back together.

They'd pretended the floor of the treehouse was the deck of a pirate ship, a ship that rode the wind-swayed trunk of the great oak. The neighbor's house was Hispaniola, the mailman's little truck a merchant vessel ripe for plunder. One of the raw pine floorboards stuck out more than the others (James's father had forgotten to saw this one to match) and this became their "plank" that enemy sailors and fair maidens (like Teresa Firenze from down the street) were forced to walk.

Their prisoners never fell, though -- at the end of the plank, tied securely to a strong branch overhead, was a thick rope, and when the condemned got to the end of the plank, they grabbed onto the rope and swung out, out, with a wild whoop of triumph and joy bursting from their lungs. Then they'd swing back towards the "ship," still kicking and howling, and James's brother would gather them in because he was the biggest, strongest kid up there.

It's what he remembers now -- the feeling of swinging out into space, the utter freedom of it, and he wants to cry for all the lost boys and lost brothers who never found their way back home.

He won't do it. The music is beginning to frighten him, with its relentless logic, its inexorable progression. It's getting to him, weird as that is, and the last thing he really wants is to break in front of House for this, to start sobbing over a little bit of music, for God's sake. That's not who he was before all this started, and it's sure as hell not who he is now.

No one's going to give him his life back -- he has to take it.

He swings out again, wide and free over the boundless ocean, and for a moment it seems to beckon to him, calling him home.

What if I fall? he thinks. What if I let go?

And then he's hauled back, safe now, shifts on the bed and opens his eyes to ... blue eyes. Not his older brother's pale, ice-blue eyes, but eyes the color of the sea, of uncharted possibilities.

"Hey," House says. "Thought you'd never wake up."

  • Wonderful chapter.
  • I love Wilson's conscious decision to take back his life. And the line about House's eyes -- uncharted possibilities -- is just so lovely in the implication that he and House still have voyaging to do together.
  • *warm fuzzies*
  • *weeps*
    Lovely work as always.
  • This was nice. Nicely pleasant and hopeful.
  • This would make a beautiful last chapter if only Martin's thread weren't still hanging loose. Oh, those last lines.
    • ...And I've just realized what House's words remind me of: the episode of Firefly where Simon whispers to his beloved, broken sister, "No, mei-mei, it's time to wake up."
    • Loose Thread. Oh, but were it a noose, instead that Martin was hanging from!!!

      "But what if i fall? What if I let go?"

      Wow. Isn't that the question we all ask, when the thin veil of control that we think we have in life is reveled for what it is?
  • What if I fall? he thinks. What if I let go?

    And then he's hauled back, safe now, shifts on the bed and opens his eyes to ... blue eyes. Not his older brother's pale, ice-blue eyes, but eyes the color of the sea, of uncharted possibilities.

    "Hey," House says. "Thought you'd never wake up."

  • Just beautiful. I loved the description of the music as mathematical, that feels so absolutely right to me.
  • Truly beautiful writing. The descriptions and analogies were pitch perfect. I could hear the music. Bravo.
  • Beautiful description of the tree house, and of the music.

    I really want to know what happened after the last line, I can't help but think that the readers are missing out on a scene containing hugs and kisses (yes, I'm ever hopeful like that).

  • What if I fall? he thinks. What if I let go?

    Sometimes, our biggest threat is ourselves. It's even okay, sometimes, to fear falling, gravity. But what I personally fear more is that one time a person might decide to let go. This is where everything gets a little more complicated. When its all in your hands and you can't blame it on gravity.

    Brilliant work.
  • Beautiful chapter. Just couldn't read it without commenting and telling the author--whoever he/she/they may be--that his/her/their writing is simply beautiful.
  • I agree *points above* that that would have been a lovely line to end the series on, but there are too many unresolved issues...okay, one big one, Martin.

    Loved Wilson's dream/memory. Touching.
  • Oh so beautifully melodic. How the hell do you all do that? love, love, and more love!!!!
  • (Anonymous)
    What is all this talk about this being a nice end to the series ? Martin is still out there; Wilson can hardly handle walking around for a few hours, not to mention the freakout that is due eventually; House won't lose his paranoia just because Martin may disappear.... there are years of stories still in this, people !

    Seriously, I really liked this part because it gives me hope all will be well. But even if Martin gets killed today, things won't be fine for Wilson (and thus House) for a long time. I am hoping for many more parts óf this fabulous story!
    -the one without LJ-
  • Yes, Wilson has to take his life back. But if he falls, House is there to catch him, this time.

    lovely part, and with a wonderful musical flow.
  • When I thought this story couldn't get any more beautiful, came this chapter. It's complex, simple, Wilson and perfect. I love how you wove House's presence in a non-intrusive way.
  • Can this story go on forever please?
  • Thought-provoking and tautly-written as always.
  • ...you know...I have been reading religiously, daily coming by for my "fix", and suffering through the weekends while you absurdly gifted writers dream up the best fanfic I've ever read;
    and I have a confession to make...I'm not a big commenter because a lot of what I would have said is often said by others better than I could say it...yet I am starting to feel guilty that I have not commented more, just to let you all know how insanely good the writing is.
    You guys have a fan in me, and I am sorry to see this one drawing to a close. It has been amazing...
    So...I'm turning over a new leaf and commenting more with the last few chapters...(better late than never, I guess.)
    Loved this line:"Hey," House says. "Thought you'd never wake up."
    I might be reading too much into it, but what a great way to say that Wilson is coming to himself again, and that House is seeing it...that he saw that Wilson had nearly lost himself...that he'd nearly let it take him, and that it nearly killed him in more ways than just the physical.
    Even more telling on House's part was that he was watching...expecting Wilson to be alright, and that he sees the beginning of it, and has hope that it will all be alright...
    Interesting to see House hope...interesting to see Wilson do more than cope...
    Well done.
    • Thank you for commenting. We love to hear what people think -- and your analysis is so very good.
  • Love it <3 And Firenze!! HP reference? :D
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