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Bad Company

Aftershocks 49.1: The Many Unknowns



Aftershocks 49.1: The Many Unknowns

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dark barn
TITLE: Aftershocks: A Story in Shattered Pieces
SUMMARY: Still such a long way to go.
CHARACTERS: House, Wilson
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 Many Unknowns

The sound wakes him with a vicious jolt, like a cattle prod. Wilson's screaming. Another damn nightmare, most likely, but House doesn't know, and even dreams can be dangerous. House is out of bed and down the hall with a speed that would be impressive for anyone, let alone a middle-aged cripple. His leg's instantly on fire but that can be dealt with in a minute.


Wilson doesn't answer. He's thrashing so hard that he's rattling the metal frame of his bed. Another inch and he's going to fall off the mattress, and if he breaks anything else -- any more bones --

"Wilson!" He's at the bedside, clamping one hand on Wilson's shoulder and the other on his knee, trying to shove him back onto the bed before he tumbles over the side. Wilson has left the railing down, which is stupid, and this is why it's stupid.

"NO!" yells Wilson, jerking away from House's grip. Then he's awake, gasping for air, his eyes and mouth open wide.

This sucks. It sucks because it's happening; it sucks because of the reason it's happening; it sucks because House does not know how to make it stop. If anything it's worse now that Wilson can open his mouth, now that he can talk and scream in his sleep. Maybe it's worse because he's taking fewer painkillers, and his mind is more active in the night.

Maybe it's just worse because it's worse. Because Martin isn't something you recover from in a month or two, like a case of pneumonia. Martin's something you live with, the way you live with a ruined leg. And this -- all of this, Wilson's injuries and his humor and his damn PTSD, House has chosen to live with. Indefinitely. Provided Wilson doesn't change his mind.

"Wilson. C'mon, reality check." Wilson sits up, whimpering a little as he bends forward. Chipped vertebrae are a whole world of pain, and they take forever to heal. "Screwed yourself up pretty bad, didn't you?"

Wilson moans a little in response, but it's his resigned moan, not his Oh God something else is wrong with me noise. Which means this is nothing but severe soreness and muscle spasms, and that Wilson's all right. In a manner of speaking.

He watches Wilson forcing himself to breathe deeply, to calm down, and wonders how long it'll be before they know just how badly injured he really is. There are things that don't show up on any scan or test. There are things Martin likes to cut out of a person, and there's no telling how much he really took from Wilson. What will come back, and what won't. What parts may have been damaged beyond repair.

For a moment House wonders whether burning that shrink's card was the right thing to do. Maybe Dr. Simonds could have helped. House doubts it, though. What could she actually do for Wilson? She'd probably give him books to read, journals to write, a list of Twelve Steps to Becoming a Happier Torture Victim. But the first thing she'd do is tell Wilson to get the hell away from his worthless, destructive best friend.

House should encourage Wilson to go see her anyway, but he won't. He isn't noble, he isn't willing and Wilson didn't want to go in the first place. Had he wanted that, he'd have gone whether House liked it or not. There's got to be someone, though, doesn't there? Some human being for Wilson to talk to.

Yeah, you idiot
, replies House's brain. Remember? You're not very human, but you're all he has.

"So." This is going to be unpleasant, but he has to. "You gonna tell me what the hell that was?" He hopes Wilson won't, won't want to talk or won't remember. He hopes Wilson will, because he wants to know what's happening, learn the symptoms, make a plan. A prognosis.

"Ever swallowed one of your own teeth?" Wilson asks. "I have. I thought it just happened again, only it was all of them this time. All broken." His face contorts as he continues, panting, "God, my back hurts."

House doesn't bother asking where Wilson was in the dream. He's become as familiar with that place as he is with his own bed. He knows it as well as he knows Wilson's office, or the clinic's exam rooms. Or that pretty sunlit meadow, the one no one else knows about because House has never, ever spoken of it.

"And my leg," grunts House, leaning heavily on his cane, "is telling me it wishes I'd just go ahead and cut it off. So which one of us is gonna go get the narcotics?"

Slowly, Wilson lowers his feet to the floor and leans forward to get up and --

He freezes, hissing and gasping, his eyes starting to glisten.

"Sit down, you dope. What's the matter with you?" House didn't think that Wilson would really try to get up. Of course, this is Wilson the Stupidly Selfless. House snorts at him and lurches into the kitchen, in no small amount of pain himself.

He likes that title he's just invented for Wilson, so he distracts himself from his angry leg by coming up with more of them. It's something to do while he performs the mindless routine of pills for himself and a potent oxy-cocktail for his patient. 

Sir James the Eternally Stressed. Wilson the Overly Wedded. His Lordship the Duke of Alimony. The First Earl of Pancake. This is fun; he'll have to use these sometime. Wilson the Always Annoyed. No, that's not nearly clever enough. House glances into the living room, to the hunched figure on the bed, and tries again. Wilson the Weirdly Innocent, says House's brain, and now the game isn't so funny anymore. House stops playing and makes his lopsided way back. He puts the drugged cup into Wilson's waiting hand, and settles himself on the sofa.

Wilson asks no questions. He takes what he's given, shuts his eyes and drinks. He could take pills now, but this works faster. 

In the darkened room, Wilson looks almost like his old self. The tilted cup momentarily hides his badly mangled nose. The surgery for that is in the morning.

The elastic bands that held Wilson's mouth shut have been gone for a few days now, but the lateral anchoring wires are still in place, drilled into the bone. The surgeon's going to remove those while Wilson's under anesthesia for the nose job. He hadn't planned to do it that way, but House had convinced him. Well, he'd convinced Cuddy, and she'd talked to Doctor Know-it-all.

House has read all about the un-wiring procedure. It's very medieval, very painful. Pliers are involved. The guys who'd been through it said it felt like having your mouth attacked by a Weedeater. Wilson might have a hell of a flashback, and House doesn't doubt for a moment that he would hurt someone.

Wilson the Innocent. He looks it right now. Strange thought, given that the guy's a habitual liar, an adulterer, and the friend of Gregory House. Wilson is, in some weird way, such an innocent soul. He never means any harm, so he hates to believe that anyone else does, either. Maybe that's why he can be so loyal to an angry jerk who breaks every damn thing he touches. Maybe it's one of the things House ... enjoys about Wilson, who is so unlike him in that way.

House was innocent once, relatively speaking, and then Martin ... then there was that day. Wilson still doesn't know about that, but this is not the time to tell him. They've already missed too much sleep.

"You know the rest of the dream," Wilson says, quietly, as he puts down his cup. "You know what was happening." House does know, and even if he didn't, the violent struggle against invisible assailants would have told him. "So I won't bore you with it again."

"Jimmy --"

"I'm serious. I just ... I want to sleep. Soon as the drugs kick in." Wilson's not looking at him, because Wilson is -- ashamed? Yeah, that's what it is. Shame. Which is stupid. But it's after one in the morning, and the surgery's at nine. If Wilson wants to be dumb it'll take too long to talk him out of it. House huffs, pries himself up off the couch (those pills can kick in any time now, really), and goes back to his room without another word.

When he returns, carrying a pillow and blanket, the surprise on Wilson's face is almost enough to make up for the pain of the trek.

"Wake me up again," House grumbles, as he lies down on the sofa, "and I'll whack you with my cane."

But he won't. He won't, and they both know it.

    That was simultaneously depressing and cute as all hell.
  • "Wilson the Stupidly Selfless"

    Perfection. I don't think anyone could have summed him up better than that!

    Anxiously awaiting the next chapter!!

  • Haven't commented in a while and I need to. I love every single minute. I've been re-reading it from the beginning. It's funny how much you forget. I need to go back and comment on the last six or so chapters. I can't tell you how much joy I experience clicking on Back_cigarette and seeing a new chapter. I don't know what I'll do when this is over. Can never get enough of House taking care of Wilson and Wilson suffering. One of my favorites was "a list of Twelve Steps to Becoming a Happier Torture Victim". Can't wait to hear about the unwiring and nose surgery. So much to look forward too. LOL You are all doing such an awesome job! Love it! Thanks!
  • *curls up under blanket, shivery*

    When I started reading this chapter, I was excited for some good old fashioned nightmare hurt/comfort; but then, because you guys are you guys, it morphed into something quietly, weirdly disturbing, or haunting, or both (his mind is more active in the night, and "Ever swallowed one of your own teeth?", and the thought that benevolent doctors prying out wires could hurt you as badly as the thugs who landed you in their care to begin with), and then made me laugh (First Earl of Pancake), and finally shifted again into this powerful and hopeful ending where these two hopelessly fucked-up men ('scuse) manage to find comfort and strength in each other. Or at least House manages to let Wilson find comfort and strength in him.

    Other things I loved here:

    - and now the game isn't so funny anymore. Because for all his callousness, House can't laugh when he thinks about Wilson in pain and his own still-present guilt; and because it brings to mind House and Martin laughing as kids until everything suddenly went horribly, irreversibly wrong.

    - House thinking about the burdens he's agreed to take on by moving in with Wilson. It's all too easy to think about what Wilson's going to have to put up with, and you addressed that well in a recent segment (was it yesterday's? two days ago's?), so seeing the flipside is great.

    - House demonstrating that he can and will take care of Wilson, even if he's still House: from the moment he wakes up and rushes into the other room all the way to the end where he sleeps on the couch to keep (unconscious) vigil and ward Wilson's nightmares away simply by being there, and in between where he gets Wilson to talk about his nightmare without being Cameron-sympathetic and then tests him with the crack about who'll fetch the drugs; House will always be an ass and he will always call Wilson an idiot, but nobody else could help Wilson recover, or at least not as well.

    - The passage about Martin having taken things from Wilson that won't show up on scans and can't be measured or even identified until time has passed.

    - Martin isn't something you recover from in a month or two, like a case of pneumonia. Martin's something you live with, the way you live with a ruined leg. House would certainly know; and Wilson is learning that, too. Another way in which they're uniquely suited to each other now.
  • Have been reading religiously while at work, and finally found time to comment. A beautiful moving twist in the series. Although it was in the works so long, it's less of a twist and more of an elegant curve.
  • *Shiver* And the ghosts come out to play. They are inside House and Wilson now, I think.

    He never means any harm, so he hates to believe that anyone else does, either. What a lovely, and probably extremely accurate, psychological insight!
  • *hugs both House and Wilson tight*
    another lovely chapter.

    House comforting Wilson in his own way, which is the right way for Wilson.
    House thinking that moving in with Wilson won't be so simple - it's pretty evident that House will be a difficult housemate, but I always love when you point out that Wilson is not that easy to live with. More so because of what happened, of course, but that's not the only reason.

    Strange thought, given that the guy's a habitual liar, an adulterer, and the friend of Gregory House. Wilson is, in some weird way, such an innocent soul.
    This is what makes Wilson such an interesting character. He's so complex, a mix of innocence and naughtiness, strength and weakness. And you put it so well.
    • Thanks. We couldn't have written this without making clear that House has thought about this and knows what he's getting into.

  • Each chapter gets more special. I love how House is self-deprecating, and doesn't offer Wilson the usual comfort routine, and most of all how Wilson can really understand and appreciate what House has to offer him. That's just... how they work.

    May I use your Wilson titles for icons? The First Earl of Pancake cracks me up. I can see House buying Wilson an apron with the title hand-sewn in it. *giggles*
    • You can use the Many Titles of Wilson for icons on one condition:

      We get to narf those icons for our own use as well.


  • Oh my! Oh my!!! I can't stop grinning. That was totally awesome. And the ending - just perfect. I cannot express how much I love this ficverse. It's my anchor in Houseverse. Truly, you all are love :)
  • Wilson's quick question about swallowing one of his own teeth just took my breath away. The nightmare and House keeping him company afterward points directly back to his fear of the coming night in "Sustenance," when he waited for House to come home and keep the dark at bay, and that is so lovely.

    You're not very human, but you're all he has. House's greatest puzzle is himself, and I don't think he yet realizes how much he's been forced to grow as a human being -- and a friend -- by this experience.
    • Heh. House is House. He's going to insist -- especially to himself -- that he hasn't really changed one bit. Because, you know, human beings don't change. Certainly not for the better, anyway.

      That's what House will tell himself. Even while he stumps around with Wilson, looking at real estate.
  • aw. you guys are so awesome at angsting House and Wilson, and then simultaneously backing off so it's not annoying at all. you just...rock. nuff said.
    also...um, could you please stop teasing us and just tell us what happened to House in that field, because i get all the subtle hints and stuff, and all that, but it's House so there's GOT to be something more and just-agh!!!! *gives puppy dog eyes in hopes of appealing to sensitve/cuddly side...if there is one there...*
  • I love House's protectiveness of Wilson, even if he hides it in teasing him <3
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