SUMMARY: While House hunts for clues, Krater has a private consult with Wilson.
CHARACTERS: Wilson, Krater
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: This is the third chapter of Part Five. The first chapters are New Hires and Scavenger Hunt. Links to all chapters of the Distress Call universe can be found here.
Krater watches Doctor Wilson's hands, clean and uncallused, making cautious movements on the ether feed's keypad.
He can clearly recall the days, not so long ago, when he would have been impatient with this process. Back when he wasn't so ill, and he thought he would get in and out of Fourtwenty Station without the Fourtwenty clan knowing who hit them. He and his crew had been wrong, and they are very rarely wrong, but once is enough to prove fatal.
He's too tired for impatience now, and he has nowhere to go. It is far from certain that his doctors can cure him, but he is acting as if they will, readying for the time when he will be well again and they will stop running and face their new enemies. It will not be pleasant, and even if they win the fight, there will be repercussions. The Fourtwenty clan has allies.
Krater sits in his autochair in the infirmary and carries on quiet exchanges by wrist-com, soothing himself with the flow of information. Natan is at the helm, flying them to nowhere, looking out for Fourtwenties or pirates. Dobie keeps an open link, so Krater knows that House is nosing through all his personal things, searching for a poison he's unlikely to find. The coolant system overhaul Krater ordered is going ahead as planned, because above all else, the engines have to work.
Len has discovered a potential new flaw in the security system, and is designing a fix. He checks in on occasion to talk about that and cast aspersions upon House, loudly enough for Doctor Wilson to hear -- and every time, Wilson's hands stop moving and take a moment to begin again.
"I found an archive on Tend," Wilson says, scrolling down the infirmary's main info monitor. "It ... it's old, and it may not be accurate. The civ-- the, ah, Focus planets eliminated the condition centuries ago."
"And how do you imagine the civilized worlds did that?" Krater taps a few keys on his ethertab, disabling even Len's surveillance of this room. The conversation he intends to have, he wishes to keep to himself.
"I know how they did it," Wilson admits, and takes a breath. "But that's not important." He doesn't look Krater in the eye, but it is not a matter of lying or of shame. "A definite diagnosis requires matching several samples. Blood, hair, and ..."
"Urine." Krater sighs. "Just as we did yesterday. You would not hesitate with any other patient; you are a professional. You think, what? The big, bad criminal will kill you for making him piss in a jar?" Wilson is a good doctor, but a frightened one. Fear leads to mistakes, and there have been enough mistakes on this ship.
"I don't --"
"You do, yes." He rolls the chair forward, closer to Wilson's side. "Oh, not for this one thing, but you imagine that you will save my life and then I will kill you. Had Poland not forced you, you would never be here."
Wilson turns and looks at him, at last. "Will you? Am I ... are we going to get off this ship alive?"
"You will live if I do, certainly. If I do not, it is beyond my control. But you believe I am a tyrant who murders for pleasure. Considering my trade, I suppose you cannot be blamed." He reaches up, finds two hairs atop his head and pulls them out. "Here is the first thing you need," he says. Wilson blinks, hastily pulls on a glove, grabs a spec-wrap and pinches the hairs inside it.
"I don't know what you are," he says. Wasting no time, he drops the hair sample into the spec. "I'm not even sure what I expected."
"Can I be any more strange," Krater asks, smiling softly, "than your friend who takes your blood?"
The doctor freezes, his face pale in the bright infirmary light. "I ... beg your pardon?"
"You care for him, so I do not think he forces you. Do not worry," he says, when Wilson looks quickly around the room as if waiting for some other voice to chime in. "We are alone here. I have my privacy when I want it."
"He isn't a ... we ... we were stranded." The doctor has gone from statue-stillness to agitated motion. He paces away from Krater and back again, hands fluttering over his hair, his face. The single, left-hand glove makes the gestures look comical. "He didn't even want ... I ... if you kill him, I'll die. Your crew --"
"They think you are lovers. Clever of you, and they find it very entertaining. I do not intend to tell them." He stretches out his arm, pushing the sleeve upward to expose the veins. "Calm down and do your job, Doctor Wilson."
Wilson's hands are trembling slightly as he pulls on a second glove and draws the blood. "Eggie told you?" he asks. Krater is almost sorry to have done this to him.
"He only told me, when pressed, how you and House had met. I looked up the Medusa, and Natan helped me gain access to the records at Century Corrections. Gregory House was on his way to be contract staff at Brielle Colony. Not a pleasant fate, but better than one of our own vulgar race could expect."
"Don't hurt him." Wilson's hand is shaky but gentle, pressing a sticky-swab into the puncture wound as he withdraws the needle. "You ... you knew this when you, ah, hired us?"
"It is why I hired you. You chose to save a stranger, regardless of the cost to yourself. He chose not to use and discard you. Once you got to Exeter, he could easily have bought an animal, killed you, and taken your little ship. I, too, wish not to be betrayed. You did not wonder why I chose the two of you?"
"I ... I may have been too busy wondering how long I had to live."
"A very long time, I hope," Krater says. He wheels himself to the cabinet where the sample vials are stored. "Now if you'll excuse me for a moment, we can get on with this, yes?"