SUMMARY: There's only one logical conclusion.
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.
House glances up. The pale creature hustling through the infirmary door, looking terribly frayed around the edges, is suddenly way more interesting than the question of whether Marceia's baby belongs to Alfonso or that thick-necked goon named ... whatever his name is. The seri-mance instantly loses its appeal.
"I don't see schematics in your hand," House observes, "but I do see tremors. You're too young for most degenerative diseases, so I'll assume you found something scary."
"I ... no. No schematics, so I ..." Wilson inhales as if he hasn't breathed in a week. " ... checked the cylinder closet. The regulators. Plural. A really old one that runs the first three cells, and a newer one, smaller, a ... whole separate system. Mine. Same set of failures; two systems." He begins to pace like an agitated animal. "House ... am I crazy?"
"You're letting a patient drug you and drink your blood, and you think you're nuts because you've figured out you were sabotaged?"
Wilson squawks, "I mean it! I'm ... I'm serious."
"So am I. Why'd you think I wanted the schematics?"
"Why would anyone want to kill me?" Wilson's eyes are wide like he's an innocent kid, but everybody hides things. Everybody lies.
"I was hoping you'd tell me. Provided it was you they wanted dead. Four people on board; that means a seventy-five percent chance that you weren't the target. Unless you pissed someone off."
"No! I didn't do anything, and Ullman ... no. She never ... oh, God. Norfolk." Wilson stops pacing, runs a hand through his hair, scrubs at his face. "Rupert Alfred Norfolk the Fourth. Bastard of the first order. Him, I could see someone wanting to kill."
"More of a bastard than me?" That would be kind of impressive, really.
"Is a bastard ... more of a bastard when he pretends he's not?"
"Definitely. Lack of pretense is one of the few things I have in my favor."
"It ... could have been Sutherlin. That someone was after. The owner, pilot. I didn't know him. You really think ... can we really be sure it was murder?"
"Weighing human nature against the minute chance that both systems could have suffered the same two failures independently, at the same time? Yeah. You only lived because the saboteur didn't bother to disable the distress protocols. They wouldn't have thought of it. Thanks to the rise of piracy, modern ships don't have the automatic response program."
"But this is an elegant old ... junkheap. As I've learned the hard way by trying to ... to navigate the damn thing." Wilson's breathing hard, the stress of the whole situation apparently becoming too much for his poor vulgaris brain. "Someone killed them. Tried to kill me. Even if they only wanted ... wanted one of us ... they didn't have to ..."
"Yes, they did. Logically, they'd have had no way of knowing who would sleep in which cell, so the safest route --"
"Shut up," Wilson pants. His feet take him in a small circle in the middle of the room.
"No. This is reality. Someone tried to kill everyone on this ship, and they probably think they've succeeded, so stop freaking out about a crisis that's over."
"You think the crisis is over?!" rasps Wilson, gulping for air like a fish on a shoreline. "I'll bet that's why I can't get the nav system to work. Sabotaged that too, and --"
"The murder part is over. Obviously not the part where our out-of-control ship hits a planet. Or a star, or gets caught in a gravitational well and falls into a nebula; take your pick." When Wilson goes a little more pale, House decides to see how far he can push. "Might not happen, though," he says, amicably. "We could just drift until we run out of food. Starvation's a bitch. Which one of us you think would carve up the other one first?" House grins. "Nah, don't worry," he says. "We'll get killed by pirates way before then."
"Not helping," says Wilson, like that isn't obvious from the physical symptoms. It's actually kind of amazing that he's holding together at all. "Not helping. You don't ... no. Of course you don't care; why should you --"
"Shut up and roll your bed over here."
"Bed. Here. Now. You need to lie down."
"You're going to ... you'll --"
"Sedate you. How is that a bad thing?"
Wilson walks in another senseless little circle, while the seri-mance ends and an announcer drones on about the benefits of the Home Genetic Databank and how it protects you against unwanted lawsuits. He paws at his hair again, rubs the back of his neck, pinches the bridge of his nose. When Wilson finally makes the decision, it's emphatic. His bed jostles against House's as Wilson shoves it into place at House's right side.
"I don't know who would kill me," Wilson says, as he climbs into the bed. He lies on his back and looks at the ceiling instead of at House. "I don't know, and that means ... that means that ... maybe even if we live, I can't go home."
House reaches over and grabs the man's arm, stretching it out. Wilson resists only for a moment, but this isn't going to work. The injured leg prevents House from rolling over to take blood from Wilson's upturned wrist.
"Need you to face me. Lie on your side."
Only a second is required for Wilson to understand. He turns over, scoots a little closer and holds out a cautious, stiff right arm. "You're not even listening," he says, but he's wrong.
House takes that wrist in both hands, holds it over his lips to sense the heat pattern that tells him where and how deep to strike. "Am so," he replies, and bites into a branch of the brachial artery, injecting a good, large dose. Automatically he covers the site of injection with his fingers, pressing on it to seal the punctures and push the drug firmly into the (human) animal's system.
"I can't go home either," House says, watching Wilson watching him. The damn vidscreen is still running, so House stretches until he can grab the remote from its location next to Wilson's stomach, and turns it off. In the sudden silence, Wilson exhales, his body beginning at last to relax.
House picks up the man's arm again, extends one fang, and makes a little cut so he can feed.
House is becoming resigned to this routine with alarming speed. The clean flow of blood brings relief, not unlike the relief he gets from the merstellin that soothes his pain. He's a haemovore; he's hard-wired to want this taste, to crave it because he needs it to survive.
He holds onto Wilson's wrist, shuts his eyes and takes, just as he would from any other animal. Soon, nothing else exists for him except the blood in his mouth and the comforting heat of the living creature beside him. The vulgaris-smell is clean, a little spicy, and already there's the faintest hint of ...
... oh. Oh, no. House pauses, momentarily sealing the vein-cut with the tip of his tongue. Damn it. There's no available data on rates of acclimation in human beings, since no respectable haemovore ever acclimates one. He'd thought it would take longer than this, but the scent-marker is already developing, and that's --
Irrelevant, insists a more practical voice in his mind. Completely irrelevant, given the overwhelming likelihood that you're both going to die.
He has to admit that he does have a point. In any case, he can't take back the dose he just injected; there are no do-overs in this biological roulette. He may as well take what he needs. House sighs, releases the pressure on the cut and sucks gently to start the flow of blood again. As the outside world fades once more from his awareness, he wonders hazily whether, or when, he will tell his new source animal the whole truth.