SUMMARY: Isn't there something to do around here?
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. Links to all chapters are here.
The problem with the blissful power of merstellin is that once the physical pain is dulled, there comes the mental agony of having nothing to do. Endless, mindless hours of lying uselessly in bed. It's making him wish they could just hit an asteroid and be done with it.
House fists his hand, bouncing it on the mattress at his side, thinking.
"I'm bored," he declares at last. He's been wary of saying anything; Wilson might start telling interesting anecdotes, and being bedridden, House wouldn't be able to escape. Still -- something has to change, so House plunges onward. "Boredom is stressful. Bad for the patient. A good doctor would do something about it."
"Sorry I'm not entertaining," Wilson quips, "but I left my sparkle-suit and soundbug back home on Delphus."
House winces at the thought. "Am I not suffering enough for you? Bring me a vidscreen. There's gotta be a portable somewhere on this lousy scow."
"I ... I have no idea. I'll have to go look." Yet Wilson isn't moving.
"What, in a few hours? Now."
"I should be getting paid for this," gripes Wilson, but he does get up and leave.
He's back in just a few minutes, empty-handed, saying nothing as he walks past House's bed.
"I said, I need --"
"Shut up," Wilson says, but he sounds more weary than annoyed. He opens the door of the infirmary's storage closet; House hears him sneeze. Dust. Of course. Things are thumping and shifting while Wilson roots around in there.
"Got one," he says, "but if it works as well as everything else on this ship, you'll probably get nothing but the Gandorian Universe of Bargains."
While House figures out the controls on the battered old remote, Wilson stands there with his hands on his hips, watching. The hopeful tilt of his head suggests that he's in as much need of amusement as House is.
They don't get Gandorian Universe of Bargains. They get all sorts of bizarre stuff, from something called Secret Fantasies (House hopes for porn, but it's a kids' show about imaginary adventures), to Storytellers of Ancient Earth, to the Thalma Cathedral Hour.
On signal 801 he happens across Night Terrors. He's seen this show before; he changes the channel before the vampires come and kill the poor, innocent humans. That would cause Wilson to start asking questions House has no desire to answer. Debunking stupid myths is a hobby of his, but it requires a kind of energy he just doesn't have right now.
He's still bored, his mind only half occupied with searching the subether. Other things are rattling around, bothering him.
"You didn't," says House, "give me a protein catalyst for my leg muscles. Why not?" Protein catalysts are standard vulgaris medicine for helping regenerate lost tissue, but Wilson hasn't tried to give him any, and that's interesting.
"The supplies we had were all way past their expiration dates." Wilson looks away, studies the cabinets on the other side of the room. "I'm ... I'm sorry."
"Did you have any control of the medical inventory?"
Wilson seems surprised by the question. "No."
"Then saying you're sorry is both meaningless and stupid, not to mention annoying. That stuff would've killed me anyway."
"Well, yes. A degenerated catalyst can --"
"It could've been manufactured yesterday and I'd still have died from liver failure," says House. "The fact that I'm alive is what led me to conclude that you hadn't used it. Forgot to tell you about that."
"An ... an allergy would cause anaphylactic shock, not liver failure. Your ... species, then?"
"You're smarter than you look," House allows, with a smirk, "but that's not saying much, pretty boy."
"How could you forget to tell me that you'd die from --? Wait; don't answer that." Wilson stands there with his hand pinching the bridge of his nose, like he's trying to hold a single thought in place. "Is there anything else I should know about?"
"Yeah. I'm hungry."
Wilson jumps slightly away, then takes a breath and starts to roll up his sleeve. Idiot.
"I don't mean you, you superstitious dolt. Got any more of that soup you gave me before? That was ... almost edible."
Wilson takes a deep breath and a slow step forward. "You said you'd need to ..." he begins, and holds up a reluctant arm.
"Disgusting, but true. I also need food."
"Now you're offended? No, you are not among my favorite menu items. Does your culture approve of cannibalism?"
"I ... didn't think of it that way."
"Stop thinking and bring me something," snaps House. "And as for my other dietary requirements, if you don't like it you can always kill me. Spare me from being stuck here with you."
"Remind me," says Wilson as he walks out the door, "to dump you on the next available planet."
The word House used wasn't quite the right one. It's not cannibalism, what he's done -- and will have to do again -- to Wilson. It's something else, but House damn sure doesn't feel like trying to explain. Wilson couldn't possibly understand about taking common blood. It isn't obscene, the way it would be to take from another haemovore. It's just something that isn't done, ever, unless there's no other option. Or unless you're a freak, or you come from Brielle where they think vulgaris-hunting is a sport.
Now that Wilson is gone, House picks up the vid remote and scrolls back until he finds Night Terrors again. The truth is that he watches this vapid, hateful show every time he chances across it; he has never been able to make himself look away. If anyone asked, he'd say that he watches because he prefers to know how his enemies think. The truth is less attractive: he watches because he's a little bit sick that way, frightened and fascinated by the deranged things the vulgaris imagine.
On the screen, a vampire leers, its human guise giving way to that of a slavering, hissing demon-thing. Its prey, a terrified young boy, cowers helplessly in a corner.
This time, when the valiant hero shows up -- just soon enough, as always -- and thrusts a spike of ancient rosewood through the vampire's undead heart, House's hand twitches on the remote. The image of the howling vampire fades away, replaced by an ad for Sirius Cybernetics. Pink, grotesquely grinning mechanical women mince across a glittering stage. Maid to order, just for you, their cloying, synthetic voices 'sing.'
House is ready to throw the remote across the room -- but then Wilson returns, bearing a tray.
Wilson sits down and flips through the subether feeds while House eats the first sort-of-decent meal he's had in a month. It's not great, but it's far better than the Medusa's cafeteria. He thinks about it and decides not to tell Wilson. The human ego is best left uninflated.
And speaking of uninflated, Wilson's looking positively flat.
"You'd better eat too," House tells him. "Something with lots of protein. You'll need it."
"By which you mean, you'll need it."
"Just because I have to do it, doesn't mean I want to discuss it."
"I'm not hungry." Wilson's voice is soft, his face devoid of emotion. He gets up, tosses the remote onto the bed at House's side, and walks out.