SUMMARY: It's not what he wants, but he gets what he needs.
CHARACTERS: Wilson, House, some 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 second part of the Distress Call universe. Links to all chapters are here.
"You look like shit," observes House, and that's how Wilson realizes that his -- what? Companion? Patient? Fellow refugee? Parasite? -- is awake again. He looks up from the ethertab in his hand; the latest news from home is just depressing him anyway.
"The fact that you're an ass -- is that a racial characteristic or is it just you?"
"I'm pretty sure I'm special. My mommy said so."
Like the good doctor that he is, Wilson assists his (caustic, angry, bitter) patient -- out of bed, into the bathroom, through the far too intimate rituals of daily life. It's not that House can't wipe his own ass; he's fine there, but someone has to make sure he doesn't fall down getting from the autochair onto the john.
In the bathroom they find a shower bench and a waterseal bandage, the gigantic kind that burn victims use. When House takes the opportunity, unwrapping the leg wound to apply the new dressing, Wilson doesn't mention that he's grateful. House doesn't exactly stink, but the smell is unsettling all the same.
Wilson leaves for a while, as the steam of the shower fills the little room.
"If you have to bite me," Wilson says, handing over towels and a nightshirt to his freshly-washed patient, "you could at least shave."
House does, but he sets the shaver to leave a lot of stubble, guaranteed to annoy his intended victim. It isn't, Wilson decides, a fight worth having. He glares at House but lets it go. He's finding it hard to argue while in such close proximity to the haemovore; there's something he needs more than that minor victory.
"You still look like shit," remarks House, grunting while he pulls himself sideways, out of the chair and back into bed. Makano has left pills on the bedside stand; he takes one. "Get cleaned up. If I have to bite you, you could at least not be disgusting."
"Pentaxanol," House says, while Wilson arranges himself on the bed beside him, "is not only a crappy painkiller, but nephrotoxic in haemovores."
"You mean ... you've got kidney damage now? I ... I thought you were an idiot when the only problem was that it didn't work."
"I'm not an idiot. Royston is, and so are you if you thought I wanted him to keep poking at me. I wasn't on the stuff long enough for anything irreversible to happen."
Wilson turns on his side, facing House as if this were no big deal, but the rapid pulse in his throat says otherwise. That round with symbiotic crisis has made the man afraid, and rightfully so, but the last thing House needs to deal with is a dangerously frightened source animal. A panicked sorel can be soothed, but a panicked vulgaris can think of ways to kill you.
"So you're ... fine."
House snorts at him.
"In the sense of not having kidney damage, I mean. So you're telling me about the pentaxanol because?"
"Because I'm stuck with you until I'm well enough to care for a sorel again." House snatches Wilson's arm and strikes halfway up the wrist, ignoring the startled yelp as his teeth sink so easily through that thin skin. He holds the bite for a moment, feels the familiar comfort of serum moving through his fangs. Pulling away, he clamps his fingers over the punctures.
"And," House continues, "because I need certain proteins. The kind that will bind to the pentaxanol and get it all out of my system."
"Proteins," Wilson echoes. House must have hit a major vein; Wilson's wits, his breathing and heart rate, are already slowing down. This process, so mundane in other animals, is intriguing in a vulgaris. He never knows what Wilson will say in this down-time between the bite and the sleep that follows. "Oh. You ... need more than ... usual."
"So do you," growls House, and bites again, pushing a second, larger dose beneath that soft human hide. More voracin in Wilson's body will trigger more hemoglobin production, more resiliency, more nutrients released into the bloodstream, more rapid healing for the haemovore.
More pain, most likely, for the animal when it has to come out of symbiosis. If House were a better man, he imagines he'd be sorry about that.
I'm going to need you for a while, he thinks, watching those brown eyes drift closed, but you're going to need me even more.
"I can't believe you're going along with this," House growls, while the young blond goon fastens a thin wire bracelet -- a tracking device -- around Wilson's left wrist. "A damn babysitter."
"His company is preferable to yours," retorts Wilson, and he's certainly got a point there, doesn't he? He walks out with that plainclothes guard at his side, his "escort." In that moment, House hates them both, them and their four good legs and smug faces and -- to hell with them. To hell with the half-credit tour of the ship or whatever inane pastime Wilson has in mind.
Subether 699 is the PornStar feed; House tries, but his body is so drugged he can't dredge up even a flicker of interest. He jams down the OFF button and throws the remote at the door as hard as he can.
A piece of plastic shoots like shrapnel across the room. Stronger, he thinks. I'm stronger than yesterday. He finally took enough from Wilson to really make a difference.
"Intercom," he growls, and it chimes into life. "Mistress De Santos! Where are you, you gun-toting --"
"Hello, Doctor House."
"If I'm a good little boy, will you take me to the museum?"
"No, but I'll send Carlos Malawa to ... accompany you."
"I wanted a girl."
"Doesn't everyone. Malawa will be there in ten minutes. Be presentable."
"I can't go naked? In my culture a waving penis is the customary sign of friendly greeting."
"You'd need a magnification screen, wouldn't you?"
"Nice." Pretty sharp, really. He waits for her retort, but the air is silent, a resolute kind of silence that tells him it'll be no good shouting any more, so he turns the chair away and heads across the room, revving the subsonic gears and slamming on the brake, allowing himself to indulge in some vague pretense that he's an andretti driver at a Race Brickyard track.
Some kind of real clothing is in order, something to hide the huge bandage, the pale-skinned legs. The clothes they've given him are stacked on top of the dresser because it's hard for a guy in an autochair to open drawers. He brings the chair to a halt, looks at the dresser. He starts to reach for the topmost bundle, then stops.
Socks, House thinks, and looks down at his feet.
The socks are nice, as socks go -- the deep russet color of a maple-fox pelt, knit from fine-spun cashlope thread, soft and thick and warm, just the thing to keep an invalid's feet from developing chilblains. He doesn't know how they got there, if it was Makano or that idiot Royston ... hell, it might have been Wilson, gently lifting one ankle and then the other to slip the footwear on. One of those gestures of caring doctors are so good at, making themselves feel better when all they've done is forestall the inevitable.
House wiggles his toes. The socks do feel good.
House can't pull them up.
Oh, he can if he's sitting down. In the autochair. But standing up? Precariously balancing himself, one hand on a steady support, the bedside, the desk, the vulgaris' shoulder -- he can do that, after a fashion. But to put pants on ...
A realization hits him, hits so hard that it makes an acrid metallic flavor rise up in the back of his throat. He's not going anywhere, and he's damn sure not explaining why.
When Malawa arrives, House summarily sends him on his way.
Wilson, by the time he returns, has apparently heard all about it. The knowledge, the reproach, is there in his shrewdly narrowed eyes as soon as he walks through the door.
"Fuck off," says House, and turns his chair away. He's going to cut this off before it begins. He hears a tiny metallic sound, Wilson's tracking device being removed, and then Wilson's oh-so-polite thank you and the soft noise of the door as Blond Goon takes his leave.
Nothing else. House glances over to find the vulgaris standing in the middle of the room, surveying it, hands on his hips.
"You didn't want out?"
"'Fuck off' is understood, by those who aren't imbeciles, to mean fuck off."
"So you ... threw your clothes everywhere just to improve the decor." Wilson bends, picking up a pair of brown pants from the rug. "Because throwing things doesn't hurt, whereas bending far enough to get dressed ..."
"Fuck. Off." He's rasping, so angry that he'd attack if he could; his mind gives him vivid images of the damage he might do. If Wilson bends down, tries to get those damn pants over House's feet, House will swing the chair around, knock the man flat, run the wheels over his hands for good measure.
Wilson leaves the rest of the clothing strewn across the floor, but folds the pants neatly and puts them back atop the dresser.
They pass the rest of the evening in silence, not even speaking when the time for their ritual arrives.
The next morning, Wilson submits to his prisoner-bracelet again and leaves. House doesn't bother asking where or why. It means he gets left the hell alone, which is what he wants.
When he returns, about three hours later, there are two slender metal objects in Wilson's grasp. He hands the things to House and steps away, making small talk with Blond Goon, who naturally seems to like him, because Blond Goon is an able-bodied moron.
The metal sticks have pincers at one end and handles at the other. Pressure-sensitive controls for ... pinching things. Also, they telescope, adjusting to various lengths.
"What the hell are these?" House demands, once the Goon has gone. The things have many obvious uses; it's Wilson's intentions that aren't so clear.
"They extend your possible range for grabbing De Santos' ass."
Okay, Wilson. Well played. "Where did you --"
"You'd be amazed," Wilson cuts in, blinking and shaking his head, "the things people will do for you if you're nice to them." With that, he steps away into the kitchen, breaking the line of sight between them in an act of wordless mercy. House can hear coffee being ground, water running.
Pride and resentment tussle with desperate boredom until, finally, House wheels himself to the dresser where yesterday's pants sit, still mocking his helplessness. He'd rather rip them apart than wear them, but if he wants out of here he'll have to satisfy his anger some other way. The ass-grabber sticks, pants-grabber sticks, do work, even if he feels like vomiting over the fact that he needs the fucking things.
By the time the coffee is made, House is dressed, really dressed for the first time since the crash.
"Get me some crutches," he says.
"Meaning, call the people you don't feel like calling, even though you're perfectly capable of asking them yourself?" Wilson brings two cups of coffee, setting one into House's waiting hand. "You're lame, not mute." He settles luxuriantly into the room's only cushioned armchair. "Unfortunately."
House pays him back by yelling at the top of his lungs for someone to get the hell in here with some crutches, already.
The vulgaris just glares at him. They hate each other now, him and Wilson. At least House hopes they do.
It'll be easier that way in the long run.