SUMMARY: Some improvements matter more than others.
CHARACTERS: Wilson, House, OCs
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 beginning of the second part of the Distress Call Universe. Links to all chapters of this wild AU are here.
"Captain ordered better quarters and a good meal for you, sirs," says Interchangeable Peon Number One. Peon Number Two mutely guides the autochair into place beside the bed.
They're armed, House notes. Of course. Both guards watch him, either aware of his nature or just sensing, with whatever remnant instincts the vulgaris still have, that even in his injured state House is more dangerous than Wilson.
Wilson says nothing, simply standing by and waiting.
"Define 'better,'" House demands, but the peons have nothing more to tell him.
The walls in here are a clean, calm, pale blue. House supposes it's meant to be soothing, the color of a gentle lake, a cloudless sky. A nice, fresh vial of merstellin.
Damn, his leg hurts. The pain travels like poison, up past the hip and into his spine, into his gut. While Wilson scarfs every scrap of brownduck and rice, fresh salad, cream custard, House can barely manage three bites. With each taste, his body telegraphs its distress. If he pushes this, he'll wish he hadn't.
"You've got to eat," insists Wilson, pointing his fork at House. House would like to stab him with it. "It's good."
"I'm in pain, you nitwit. Stay close. When I vomit, I'll aim for your shoes."
"I'll ... take this away, then," Wilson says, clearing both their plates from the table. "I've cleaned up too much of your puke as it is."
"If we're having a 'poor me' competition, you lose."
"I lose at ... being a loser?" Wilson's putting everything -- except House's dessert, which he's eating -- into the coolbox. "Doesn't that mean I win?"
"Do you ever shut up?" A fresh wave of pain rolls outward from House's thigh, ending what little patience he might have had for this game.
Wilson takes the hint, turning his attention to their new, improved cage. He actually seems interested in this place, as if there were something he could learn by testing the beds, feeling the texture of the sheets, inspecting the tiny, spotless kitchen.
Better quarters and better food are worthless to House; all he really wants are better drugs.
"There's a caff unit," Wilson remarks. "The real kind. Coffee." He seems to hope that somehow, this will improve House's mood.
"I know what a caff unit is, you moron."
Wilson stops yammering and climbs onto one of the beds. He turns the vidscreen on, flipping quietly through subether feeds, ignoring House.
Good, House thinks, and then wonders if it'll be possible to sleep in the damn autochair. He'd much rather be in bed, but the pain of the transition would be too great to overcome without chemical assistance. Like it or not, he's staying put.
"Is that ... pentaxanol?" Wilson demands, staring at the vial of pink pills in Royston's puffy hand. "That's what you've been giving him? Have you even seen his leg?"
"Mister Wilson --"
"Doctor Wilson." Wilson stands up, his hands moving to his hips in that universal symbol of disapproval.
"Wilson," growls House, "shut up. It's fine."
"It is not fine. You need merstellin."
"I'm not dispensing something that strong," Royston huffs, "without evidence of significant nerve damage."
"The pain," Wilson insists, "is all the evidence you should need." It's a great point Wilson has there, but now is not the time. "Your patient can barely eat."
"Shut up, Wilson."
Wilson doesn't move, doesn't look away from Royston's twitchy pink face. "We're either prisoners, or we're not. If we're not, he's due the medical treatment he needs. If we are, we have a right to know what offense we've committed. If you can't explain our situation, I'm sure your Captain can."
"Very well." Royston puffs himself up in a stance that's probably meant to convey authority, but looks more like a groundling trying to ward off a wasptiger. The (armed, naturally) green-uniformed goon who came with him glances at House with what looks like apology, or pity, or some other useless sentiment, before trailing Royston out the door.
Bastards. They're all bastards, including -- especially -- the ever-helpful Wilson.
"You're going to get me killed," says House, flatly, after the men have gone, "and I'd like to remind you that your own health will suffer if that happens."
"You mean it isn't suffering already?" House is still surprised at the sharpness that hides beneath the soft surface of Wilson's voice. "I've been meaning to ask how many years of my life you've been draining away."
"You have asked. None." It's the truth; it's just not the whole truth. House will -- provided they live through their Adventures with Captain Jerome -- get rid of Wilson long before the whole truth needs to be told. "None," House repeats, and when he turns his back, Wilson doesn't bother talking to him any more.
Jerome doesn't show up. Another doctor does, with that same poor schlep of a guard who'd accompanied Royston.
This doctor is short, with sleek black hair pulled into a tidy ponytail. Her name tag reads Makano. Half Royston's size, she moves quietly, easily, with no particular grace but also with no fear. It's apparent Wilson appreciates that, although from the way House feels it would be difficult for anyone to be frightened of the big bad blood-sucker right now. He's nauseated, sweating profusely, and his usual verbal barbs require more energy than he can spare.
"Give me that," House orders, reaching for the syringe in her coat pocket even as Makano swabs a spot inside his elbow. She steps back.
"I can't allow you --"
"Yes, you can," Wilson interrupts, gently. "He's a doctor. Didn't Jerome tell you?"
"Insurance regulations are not negotiable. Hold still, Doctor House."
"Nine milligrams," House rasps. It comes out almost as a plea, and he grimaces in disgust.
Makano blinks, but she draws up the full nine mil.
The last thing House feels as he drifts away on the pretty merstellin-clouds are the hands of his damn pet vulgaris, slipping under his arms to help him to bed.
Idiot, House thinks. Don't want ... your help. Got to --
And then he's gone.