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The Bound Man
TITLE: Rendezvous
SUMMARY: This isn't a vacation. There's a job to do.
CHARACTERS: House, Wilson, OC.
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: Links to all chapters of the Distress Call universe can be found here.

"He's not about to poison us, moron." House rolls his eyes and shoves a savory-smelling pastry-thing into his maw. "Drug us, maybe," he says, around a mouthful of food, "but he's eating too, so that seems unlikely."

Wilson's not so sure. Unlikely describes everything that's happened since he left Capinari. But House does seem at ease here, having breakfast in Eggie's startlingly drab and cluttered office. They must use a lot of paper on Exeter Prime; piles of it are everywhere. One of two beat-up old desks has had its surface cleared to make way for a huge coffee jug and a plate of those pastries. They're palm-sized, but Eggie picks up two; he has big hands. Probably just making sure he gets his share before House eats them all.

Wilson tries one. A little greasy, but not bad; it's filled with what seems to be the same shredded meat as last night's sandwich at the Third Shift Pub. "Do I even want to know," he asks, "what kind of animal this was?"

"Freight rat," House says. "Pest species, nice and tasty, but the freight crews won't --"

"Oh, shut the fuck up," says Eggie. "I haven't eaten that shit since I was ten. This is nutria."

"Nutria?" Wilson's never heard of such a thing. It sounds synthetic, but tastes better than that. "What exactly is --"

"Similar to bog spaka, but more meaty, less cute. Eat up. Eggie's got a patient for us."

Wilson eats. He's not going to ask what a bog spaka is. No point. "A ... patient. He told you this and I missed it?"

"He gets this gleam in his eye when he's about to use me to make money. By now, he's got a half dozen lackeys to do all the crap I used to do, so my old skill set is no longer needed. That just leaves the one I acquired since I left his sorry ass." He takes a second pastry while Wilson pours a cup of coffee, which House snatches away. "Thanks," he says. "Where's yours?"

It's too early for this; sparring with House will have to wait until after coffee, so Wilson sighs and pours another cup. "What sort of patient are we talking about?"

"Someone who'll pay Eggie well for our services. Someone who --"

"Is desperate enough," Eggie says, grinning, "to maybe tolerate your bullshit. Guy by the name of Evo Krater. His ship's in synchronous orbit by now, waiting on us."

"And he's not in a hospital on a civilized planet," House supplies, "because he's a criminal. What kind?"

"Like it fucking matters?" scoffs Eggie. "The kind you don't fuck with, that's what kind. Pack your bags, boys; you'll be staying aboard Chez Krater until you get him fixed up."

"A ... criminal. Of course." The pastry has gone dry in Wilson's mouth; he washes down the last of it with what's left of his coffee. "It matters to me what kind he is."

"What, it makes a difference if he sells drugs, sex, or pirated vidcrystals?"

"My money's on drugs." House smirks, like he's seen this all before. "They sample their own wares sooner or later, get hooked, flush their bodies right into the crap-tank."

"What's wrong with him?" Wilson's skin is prickling. He hopes it doesn't show.

"If they knew that, they'd be treating his ass instead of dicking around with you two." Eggie's got a third pastry now, but Wilson isn't hungry anymore. "And you're wrong," he says to House. "Krater's an arms merchant."

"Cool." House leans back against the desk and slurps down more coffee, like this was somehow normal.

"No," Wilson says, feeling his chest constrict. "Not cool. I am not getting on the ship of some crazed criminal gun-runner just because you want to make a few credits. You want us to see him, bring him here."

"And do what, you idiot? Fix him up right here in the garage?" There's something hard and dangerous creeping into Eggie's voice. "I made the deal I made. You ever want off this fucking rock, Doctor Wilson, you will do the fucking job. Go get your shit."

He watches those guys load their few things into the zheep and tries to figure why his world doesn't look quite right today, like the sun changed its angle or the sand shifted colors. His eyes keep coming back to James Wilson, who's thirty-five years old according to his records from Delphus, and looks twenty-two. Eggie can't tell, and that bugs him; he's made a living being able to tell.

"Let's go," he says. Greg grunts in reply, lifting his right leg with his hand as he arranges himself in the passenger seat.

Doctor Wilson says nothing at all. Just sits in the back seat like a very displeased statue, his shoulders square. Fucking amazing, that this is the same guy who tagged in behind Greggo last night like a little boy who'd been lost in the desert in his good clothes. This morning he's impeccably clean and pressed; must've figured out how to get that fucking useless mini-mat to work. Funny to think of Doctor Cleanpants running around the raw edges of space with Greg House. Eggie gives it maybe, maximum, a hundred more days, their improvised partnership or fucky-friend deal or whatever the hell they've got going. One of them will throw out the other, provided they both survive. Young Wilson might not, but if he doesn't ... well, it'll be one less cred-job for Eggie to do, and he'll still have Greg. Greggo could live through anything.

He's fidgeting, the way he always did, unable to sit still for long. It doesn't help that zheeps have shitty suspension and this one's about to rattle all their teeth out. Greg squints against the glare and the dust, pulls some kind of pill-bottle out of his pocket, swallows a couple of 'em dry.

They're already well past the loose boundaries of Faucet, inhabited buildings giving way to empty shells and then to the Great Fucking Nothing. It's hardtrack desert, a thin scrim of dust over bedrock, without a tree or a hill or a boulder in sight. It's a hundred klicks across, too far to see the eastern mountains through the hot, polluted air.

Fortunately, Eggie only has to take them ten klicks in.

Not until the zheep stops does Jimmy Wilson speak a single fucking word. "Why," he asks, "are we meeting them out here? Why not just use the station?"

"No cover." House answers the question before Eggie can. "No ambush, no spying. We can't kill them, and if they decide they have to kill us, no witnesses."

"I was gonna say it's standard procedure," Eggie says, "'cause it is. But yeah, that's why it's standard procedure. It's all right, though. You're not armed, you got nothing to worry about." He shoves his wind-loosened hat back into place on his head. "These guys need you more than you need them."

"That's ... comforting," says Wilson, in a very not-comforted tone. The conversation ends there: the three of them clamber out of the cramped vehicle, stretching their legs, watching a speck in the sky as it grows to a spot and then a shape. Krater's runabout, coming to greet them.

Wilson sighs and starts to unload their small bags. Eggie sighs too: he has no desire whatsoever to talk to a second set of Evo Krater's lackeys. If he's lucky, he won't have to --

-- that's as far as his thoughts go before an invisible wrecking ball knocks him backward, into blackness.

Eggie wakes up lying on his back with a mouthful of dust. The sky looks oddly dim -- until he realizes that his nice white hat is pitched over his face like a tent. His head's pounding so hard he can fucking hear it, and hell, it's not just his head; it's his whole body bitching at him every time his heart beats.

The memories move like sludge through his brain. Painful fucking sludge. Krater's shuttle hovering, not a word, and then ... something hit him. Hard. Had to be a mag pulse. Not unheard-of. The bastards knocked everyone cold before they touched down; he's scared to even fucking ask whether they destroyed the zheep and left him out here to die. Take the doctors, never have to pay the second fifty percent; why the fuck not?

Fucking arms merchants.

He raises his arm, slowly, to remove the hat from his face. It feels like he got crushed by a rockbreaker, like all his joints are little bits of fucking bone-gravel instead of balls and sockets.

Looking sideways, he can see the zheep, which looks intact. He's not sure if he's surprised by that; Drex had said Krater was a known element, a man of business who didn't kill without good reason -- but who the fuck really knows what a 'good reason' is this week?

Eggie struggles to roll onto his side. Got to get up, get the hell out of here before he sticks to the ground like meat in a skillet. His hand bumps something warm and smooth on the ground. It's a bottle, and it's full of water. "Goatfuckers," mutters Eggie. He sits up, twists the cap off the bottle even though it feels like his fingers will break from the effort. "Thanks so ever-fucking much for your tender fucking mercies."

He drinks, glad at least that he won't have to share. Greggo and his pretty friend are gone.

Author's note: Nutria are real and yes, they're edible. Although we of the Collective would have to be very hungry.
  • (Anonymous)
    *sigh* finally. Thanks.

    RL interference is why I like to wait till an author(s) done before I read their story. Waiting drives me nuts. But now that you've got me well and truly hooked, not waiting drives me nutser. Or is that more nutseresque?

    Compared to some of your other chapters this one's almost . . . peaceful. Which according to the code of the Black Cigarette, if I'm not mistaken, means the next one will be decidedly not peaceful.

    Any idea on the timing for the rest of this arc?

    Hope RL treats y'all better,

    • We'll have to get back to you on the approximate timeline for the Krater arc; one of us will be pulling together all our drafts for it today and seeing where we are.

      RL is treating us well, but in ways that have left part of the Collective without a great deal of time to write. It's frustrating for us, too, but we are hanging in there. Thanks for sticking with us; it really does mean a lot.

      • (Anonymous)
        I find it interesting that Eggy knows House needs an animal but did not bring one with to the rendezvous site. Yet I doubt Eggy would have told the client about House's special needs. I know he feels House can survive anything, but bad guys aside, he's really put House in a bad spot hasn't he? I mean, we know he has Wilson but . . .

  • *combusts with glee* I almost didn't recognise this new entry on my Friend's page and scrolled past, then I went (O.O), scrolled back and have been in tachycardia ever since. Please note that I will be likely to remain so until th next chapter is released. No pressure - just letting you know how addictive you make this story. EET IZ MAI VORACIN~ *deranged look*

    "He watches those guys load their few things into the zheep and tries to figure why his world doesn't look quite right today, like the sun changed its angle or the sand shifted colors. His eyes keep coming back to James Wilson"

    My face probably went through all sorts of OMGhorrifiednegative!Expressions when I read the above. For some reason I was terrified that Eggy would find out that Wilson was House's "source animal". I see now that Eggy was the least of my worries in comparison to The Krater Scenario, because I can only hypothesize that those guys finding out would be infinitely worse. Not only because I'm concerned about what they may or may not know about Brielle or perhaps different cultures of haemovores (which is, in fact, the lesser of my worries at this time - them knowing that is, not the cultures or how members may react), but that whether they realise Wilson is House's source or not they seem like the types to use human guarantees as leverage. I mean... they have two doctors now, and presumably they only need one to treat (unless you play the "different specialties" card).

    Okay I may be wrong; my mind is going off on all the worst possible tangents ever. *rubs forehead* If I typed out all my worries at this point in the story it would already stretch to essay-length. *breathes shakily and tries to calm down* ... *fails* LKASHGLKAGHLJGASLDSJAGJA!!! D: !!

    "Eggie gives it maybe, maximum, a hundred more days, their improvised partnership or fucky-friend deal or whatever the hell they've got going."

    *muffles snort of laughter* "fucky-friend deal" :P Mmm-hmmm... Nice.

    ""One of them will throw out the other, provided they both survive. Young Wilson might not, but if he doesn't ... well, it'll be one less cred-job for Eggie to do, ..."

    *breaks into paroxyms of arm-flapping terror* ALSGHA NOOEZ!! o(TOT)o Eggyyyy~~ Don't think like that pleaaaaaaaaase. Not Wilson!

    "... and he'll still have Greg. Greggo could live through anything."

    I think we've seen already, both in the TV series and in this story, that survival does not necessitate a happy life. And this is only my personal opinion as a scientist and defacto Atheist/Agnostic - I do not pretend to know what's in the mind of House or Wilson - but if you only get to live once, then spending said one chance to experience living in complete misery, or alone, is a really sad way to spend a life. :(

    Speaking of which, your off-hand mentions of the ultimate fates of haemovores of Leppa Post in Silver Bay: Part 2.6 makes me want to weep. (;__;) It's difficult for me to accept that one sentence can be enough to tug at my heartstrings, but I suppose it's my M.O. - weep at written fiction that I may maintain a stronger appearance in real life.

    "Krater's shuttle hovering, not a word, and then ... something hit him. Hard. Had to be a mag pulse."

    ... This seems to be an unwritten protocol in picking up unfamiliar passengers in this much more advanced yet gritty interplanetary/system world you've created. Knock them out first, ask questions later. Jerome did something similar as I recall. Th mentality evokes memories of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, where Barbossa says, "People are easier to search when they're dead".

    And to be completely off-topic for a brief moment, every time I think of the name Jerome I end up thinking of Ethan Hawkes in Gattaca and the rhyme "Jerome, Jerome, the metronome".

    Finally, :D high-five to the word "zheeps", and I am LOVING this story and what you guys are doing with it. I hope this rambling review hasn't run past the LJ comment limit...
    • I am just sitting here grinning so big, you have no idea.

      Just ... wow. Thank you so much!

      We did try to indicate that Eggie has reason to think House and Wilson will be relatively safe on this job:

      Looking sideways, he can see the zheep, which looks intact. He's not sure if he's surprised by that; Drex had said Krater was a known element, a man of business who didn't kill without good reason

      And they left him with water, and covered his face so he wouldn't get burned to a crisp by the sun before he woke up. All of which Eggie regarded as something of a mocking gesture, but you notice he's drinking the water.

      And with that -- and still grinning -- time to get back to the drafts for the next chapters.
      • (=__=) I blame it on adrenaline. I was running too high on it, and whilst I read the beginning of the chapter with rapt attention, I admittedly sped through the ending because, well, "House and Wilson aren't there and PPFT! to Eggie OMGwhathappenedtomyfavouritepair!! D: askhsaljgalg" was my reaction. My great apologies. *bows down till head touches floor*

        That'll teach me to not read every detail/section through thoroughly... If I had, those hints would have jumped out at me and hopefully put me at ease.

        ... A little.


        Illogically, it was also Teh Icon of D00M that set me off as well. At first glance my memory passed it off as The Fool, but then the information niggled at the back of my head until the proper identification of The Hanged Man popped forth, and then my reaction was "OMG 'THE TRAITOR' DDDDD8!!!!!!!!!!! *flailflailFLAIL*". I know it denotes sacrifice for the greater good as well, but neither scenario made me feel safe. :P

        Glad to know I was just inattentive.
        • Hey, no apologies!


          I think everyone does that sometimes; I certainly have gotten into stories and gone racing breathless through sections I later re-read and went ... "Oh, wow. How'd I miss that?"

          Teh Icon of D00M


          Oh my. We had that icon as "The Bound Man" not "The Traitor" (as far as I know, none of the Collective are actually into tarot at all, and although one of us did do a bit of homework, our ignorance may be showing). It's good to know that there's a different interpretation.

          And you've paid an amazing amount of attention for an "inattentive" reader. Just ... wow. We are really flattered.
          • Glad to know I'm not the only one who does a Roadrunner with fiction then. Out of love, of course, not because one cannot be bothered to read properly.

            To be perfectly honest, I don't believe in Tarot, but I was interested in the symbology and how one could interpret them/combinations of them. As a result I had a passing fascination with them as a teenager; not to divinate my love life, but as an exercise on psychology/society/imagery/symbology and how it relates to the evolution of common themes in history.

            The Bound Man is the same as The Hanged Man I think, in modern day terms. 'The Traitor' was the name for The Hanged Man in some of the really old decks - I don't think it's used much anymore but well, my mind flew back to it anyway since it was essentially the same card hundreds of years ago.

            *unleashes Google-fu skillz* This basically explains it in a page. Doesn't mention The Bound Man, but I'm sure I've read it referred to that as well when I was in my teens.

            Oh please, a reader is supposed to thank and flatter the writer! :) Not the other way round. If I'm attentive to your story details, it's because you guys have made the story worth paying attention to. The fact that these tiny details even exist for me to pick up on would suggest something grand in the making, which I need to pay attention to.

            Plus it House and Wilson in questionable and uncontrollably sensual circumstances. Why wouldn't I be paying attention? HEE. :D
  • I like the idea that Wilson frustrates a guy like Eggie, because he can't read him. It makes you wonder why such a 'nice guy' is so good at hiding. I do so love Wilson many layers. I might have to wait until a few chapters are posted in this part. I'm not sure I can stand the panic of the bad guys getting their hands on House and even more so Wilson. Eggie is right. House can surive anything. :)
    • *g*

      Yes, you got it! Eggie's definitely bothered by just how difficult Wilson is to read. Very glad that it comes across that well.

      And we wonder the same thing in canon, don't we? How and why did Wilson learn to camouflage himself so well?
  • An exciting new chapter! Delays between updates are tolerable only because the Collective can be trusted not to abandon this story (nods).
    For his sake I hope Wilson is a quick learner...
    • Wilson in canon is a quick learner most of the time, but not at all in certain areas (marriages come to mind), so you can look for the same pattern here.

      Thanks for sticking with us. :-)
  • Great update. Sound like the boys are in way over their heads.
    • *g*

      Aren't they always in over their heads, even on the show?

      So glad you've been enjoying this ride. We've been reading your comments while drafting & revising the next chapter tonight.
  • Awesome update :) Couldn't read sooner because RL sort of got in the way - BIG TIME. I love this chpater which is what I say about all the chapetsr. I cannot enough of the way the Collective creates such beautiful and powerful. Really, Shore needs to take a lesson from the Collective's playbook.

    I too am extremely anxious because I feel as though Wilson is in peril at both ends - Eggie and Krater.

    House better protect my baby Wilson.
  • Oh, can't wait to see what happens next. I love you guys. Glad to see Wilson is back and a little edgie. That's Wilson! LOL

    Just had to comment on the Nutria. We have those in Va. Beach. When I first moved here about 10 years ago and I was taking my Jack Russell for a walk when we came across one. I thought it was a Beaver except it's tail wasn't flat. I didn't know what it was. I had never heard of them before. I've inserted a link on them.


    If anyone is interested. You may have to cut and paste it into the browser.

    thanks for the update! :D
    • OMGOMGOMG ♥ :D Thank you!! ♥

      A friend of mine living in Japan was given an exceedingly cute postcard book focusing on those animals, and we had no idea what they were. And we couldn't find out either because the only thing we had to go on was "brown, cute, and beaver-ish-like". (^_^)

      *cough* Okay, so forgive me for bursting that out like a random person, but yeah, thanks. :)
  • (Anonymous)
    Hiya, I don't know if I'm posting in the right place, and I don't mean to be all whiny and pushy, but please tell me you haven't abandoned this story! I'd kinda like to see how it ends.

    Wishing y'all a wonderful new year,

    • Hi there!

      We are still ... good heavens, no, this hasn't been abandoned. The next segment (and various RL things) has been making us a bit nuts, but the story is very much alive.

      Have a great New Year too!
      • (Anonymous)
        I too have been following and have been concerned with no updates for so long. Anxious to have the story continued, because it is a great written piece and I enjoy it so much. Thanks for what you have already written but so hope it can continue and sooner rather than later.

        • Hey. It's good to hear from you.

          We're in the midst of something we need to research and think through, with the next segment. It's getting there. I wish I could give you a firm timeline, but that's not possible, particularly with the real-life stuff some of our Collective partners are dealing with of late. What I can give you is my assurance that we are very much with this thing and it is very much alive.

          We can't wait to see what everyone thinks of Krater. *g*
  • Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!! That's it? Please tell me there is a sequel!!! I am so enthralled with this it's classic sci-fi and House rolled into one fabulously savory yummy delicacy.I am in nerdvana....major major SQUEEEE. You are filled with WIN!!!!
    • *laughs*

      This is absolutely NOT IT. It's moving really slowly for us, because we've been getting kicked in the butt by real life and are a little stuck on a medical case in the next part (our man Krater is very, very ill), but what you see so far is only the beginning.

      You have made a rather stressful evening happier for me (got deadline pressure for some paintings, one of which I'm working on right now, but the easel and computer are very close together). Thank you so much. I'm going to make sure the rest of the Collective sees what you said.
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