SUMMARY: Still such a long way to go.
CHARACTERS: House, Wilson
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 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."
"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.