SUMMARY: The meaning of "safe" depends who you ask.
CHARACTERS: Wilson, House
RATING: R for language and themes (gen fic).
WARNINGS: This is a very alternate universe. Adult themes and adult language.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Never will.
NOTES: The stories from this ficverse are numbered by chapter and scene, rather than by day as we did before.
A link to all chapters is here.
The mud feels different, like it's hardened while he slept, and that strangeness is what begins to wake him.
He finds himself looking not at the now-familiar dirty brown sky, but at something clean, beige and well-lit. Curving panels, a ceiling. What the hell, House thinks -- and all at once the memory returns. Damn. Rescued. Just what I didn't need.
There's a thin sheet thrown over him, but other than that, he's nude. His leg isn't hurting much; he licks his lips, feels the feathery numbness that means he's been heavily dosed with painkillers. Polyfentalide is nowhere near that effective. Must be merstellin.
His clothes are in a tangled filthy heap, about a meter away.
Moving his arms, he's surprised to find an IV and no restraints. His would-be rescuer must not have scanned him very thoroughly. Yet.
"Where the hell am I?"
"Safe," replies the doctor, gently, like he's talking to a child. 'Safe' doesn't mean a damn thing; it isn't even true.
"Asked for a location. Not an opinion."
It looks as if the two of them are inside a small shuttle. That must be how they got off the surface of Mud World. He doesn't remember the flight. He remembers the idiot saying, 'I'm a doctor,' and he remembers laughing because that was perhaps the least comforting thing anyone could have said to him. And then there was a little relief from the pain, and a whole lot of darkness.
"Why are we still in the lifeboat?" The little craft's side hatch is open, the ramp down. Outside, he can see the bare walls of a larger ship's docking bay. He himself is lying on a body sled, mere inches off the floor.
"I'm not strong enough to move you again," sighs the doctor. "I barely got you into the shuttle. That was ... about five hours ago. You've had fluids, blood replacer, drugs."
"And the leg?"
"Cleaned up a little. It needs a lot more. I ... passed out, though. Had to rest."
For the first time, House really looks at his captor. The guy is young, his brown hair an oily, uncombed mess. His eyes are dark and dull, his lips gray. There's mud all over him except for his hands and forearms. He's slouched in the shuttle's only chair, and he's got an IV bag tethered around his neck, with the needle in his own right arm. He's so pale he almost matches the white wall behind him. How this pathetic creature ever pulled an object of House's size across Mud World and into a shuttle -- it's unbelievable.
"You're too manly to call for help?" House really does want to know. "Or too stupid?"
"There's no help to call," murmurs the idiot, and his head lolls back against the wall, and he's out again. Great. Just great.
But the doctor seems harmless for now, and apparently he's alone. Maybe going to sleep isn't such a bad idea after all.
He wakes again, with the whole right side of his body throbbing, and his leg -- he can't even think of a word to describe that. It must have been a few hours; the drugs have definitely worn off.
"Hey," he calls to the slumped figure in the chair. "Hey, you."
No response. For a moment House wonders if the man is dead. No; his chest is moving. His lips are pink now instead of gray. That's good. Maybe. It's good, as long as the guy will give him more drugs and not ask too many questions. It's good, as long as no one shoves House into a physioscanner.
House is going to die, but he could make it easier on himself. He could be nice, pretend to be grateful for being rescued, so that he can get the relief that he needs.
He won't. He's never lived that way and he's damn sure not going to die that way.
Something stinks, and he hopes it's just the filth on his discarded clothes, and not infection setting into his leg. Except, he reminds himself, it doesn't matter. Dying anyway. And oh, fuck, it hurts. Hurts doesn't actually come anywhere near to covering it; if he didn't know better he'd think the bone had shattered. He wants to scream but he's afraid if he starts, he won't stop.
House finds a box of plastic syringes on the floor at his side, picks it up and flings it. His aim is true: the missile strikes the center of the sleeping man's chest, making him jerk upright with a shout.
"I said," House pants, "Hey, you. Moron."
"What's wrong?" asks the moron, which just proves House's point, because it's obvious what's wrong. "And my name," says the moron, "is James Wilson. I'm a doctor."
"Told me that already. You look like a corpse."
"Yeah," the guy replies, while he removes the IV line from his arm and the empty bag from around his neck. "I feel like one, too. This drip was embalming fluid."
He tries to stand and his knees buckle; he has to catch himself on the arm of the chair. Perfect. The guy had meant it about not being strong enough to get him out of the shuttle.
"Lemme guess," House groans, trying to take his mind off the agony. "Your ship ... had a fit of automated compassion. Yanked you out of hybersleep to come save my sorry ass."
"Obviously ..." says Wilson, "... my ship had never met you." He leans over, wincing, and picks up the syringes. "I'll take this as a hint," he says. Carefully, he shuffles the few steps over and sits on the floor beside House. He pulls a clear vial from his pocket and draws up a dose.
"That's all?" House rasps. He could throttle the guy. "Six mil of merstellin won't --"
"Narcophilin. Much more than six mil of that, and you'll be painlessly dead." Wilson pauses, looking him in the eye. "But you know that, don't you?"
"I know a lot of things," growls House, but he holds still for the injection. Narcophilin is what he wants, a painkiller so strong that most doctors fear it, skittish about side effects and addiction. This doctor is either smarter, braver, or more reckless than most. That, or he knows I'm dying anyway.
"You're right," says the idiot, "about the hybersleep. The auto-wake kicked on when my ship got your signal. I'm ... I've definitely been better." He pauses as if to gather his wits. "There was a malfunction in the cells. I'm ... recovering."
"You're an imbecile." And he is, but he's an imbecile who administers good drugs. House's annoyance level decreases along with the pain. "You could've died dragging me around. Cell malfunction would have put you at risk for heart failure."
"Yeah," Wilson admits, "I know. I'd be dead anyway if the auto-wake hadn't kicked in. Everyone else ..." He looks away for a moment before he continues. "I'm the only one who lived."
"Wilson. James, if you'd prefer. So is there something I can call you?" Wilson asks, while his gentle, cold hands unwrap the bandages on House's mangled thigh. "You know -- other than 'asshole'?"
"House." Wilson sits there rubbing the back of his neck, shutting his red-rimmed eyes for a few seconds. "You're an asshole, House, but I really, really need you to live."