black_cigarette (black_cigarette) wrote,

Aftershocks 45.3: Lifeline

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."


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