Just a one shot on House's fragile background
House groaned as he caught a glimpse of the weather outside. It was hailing hard, balls of ice bouncing a foot off cars and the ground even as he watched. His leg twitched and hardened in protest, unwilling to stretch in order to get out of bed. He looked over at his alarm clock, gauging the time he had left before he was late to work past his own, rather extended, perception of acceptable timing. It was already half eight. He sighed and tried again to get out of bed. He managed to manoeuvre himself into a sitting position on the side of the bed, his leg still twitching with the removal of the warm blanket. House tried to lift himself onto his feet, testing how much weight the offending limb would hold. Just as he was about to let go of the bed, his leg gave out, and he stumbled backwards onto the mattress again in a well practiced, smooth movement to avoid striking it and causing a full blown spasm. He reached over and took a Vicodin, waited a moment and tried again. This time, he managed to make it all the way to the bathroom. He leant against the sink for a full five minutes, getting his breath back from the walk down the corridor. He slammed his fist down on the porcelain, angry at his own weakness, his inability to do even the simplest things. He jumped slightly at the shrill ringing of the phone, making his leg twitch in protest. He made his way as fast as he could to the phone at the other end of his apartment, but before he got there, the voice mail came on, and Cuddy's voice rang clear. He groaned slightly.
"House, you're already twenty minutes late for work, and you have to come to the conference to try and stop that couple suing you for malpractice after you pulled that IDIOTIC stunt the other day! It's at ten, so don't you DARE miss it, or I will come to your place and personally drag you here! Do you understand me?" House felt like picking up the phone and either throwing it across the room or shouting at her. He let himself fantasise about what he would tell her, the huge folder of journal entries for every day since his leg ten years ago, giving pain ratings, number of pills, various attempts at fixing it, even up to taking those experimental ones and performing surgery on himself in the bath. He had struggled to write that particular entry. He would tell her exactly how much it took, just to get up in the morning. He would tell her it took fifteen minutes just to persuade his idiotic limb to get out of bed without seizing. He would tell her how he only ate when Wilson made him, because he felt nauseous with pain most of the day. He would tell her how exhausting it was to walk from the furthest away disabled space to his office, how tired he was when he'd done just an hour or so of walking - limping - around her distinctly not-disabled-friendly hospital. How he would just about manage to stay awake until he sent his team away, close his eyes in his chair, only to be prodded awake and called lazy by his own boss, the one who'd mangled his leg in the first place. House decided, however, that picking up the phone was a bad choice. He took an ill timed step backwards, hitting the back of his bad leg on the coffee table. He toppled, almost in slow motion, backwards over the table, whacking his head on a lamp, shattering the bulb, and landing awkwardly on his side, an arm trapped under him, his leg locked in full spasm. He had to bite his lips shut to suppress a howl of pure agony. He couldn't move, the cramp in his leg so bad that he couldn't feel anything else, even as blood came in rivulets down his cheeks and chin from the glass he'd shattered and the force with which he was biting his lip. House let out a low whimper, like a trapped dog, and tried to make a grab at his leg. He couldn't move the arm stuck underneath him, and as he tried to kneed the muscle with the other, he realised it was not enough. The lamp suddenly fell on top of him, smacking him in the face, making his nose sting. When the lamp hit him he froze on the floor, his eyes wide with unfocused desperation, his mind pushing him into a flashback, forcing him back forty years in a second.
House House House
Greg broke the lamp. He had been holding it, dusting underneath, and it had got too heavy. Before he'd had a chance to put it down, it had slipped from his hand and broken in two on the floor. He stared at it, pure fear registering on his young face. Within seconds, John House was in the room. He took one look at the lamp on the floor and raised his eyes to the now quivering boy, his eyes filled with unadulterated fury.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, I'm sorry, please, please don't, I'm sorry" the attempts at avoiding the inevitable punishment burst out of his mouth. John advanced quickly, raising a hand to grab him as though he was about to bolt.
"Shut up" he said coldly. Greg stopped repeating his apology and backed away, his lips moving silently, begging. John grabbed the front of his t-shirt and pulled him up, so that the toes of his sneakers barely scraped the floor and he felt as though he couldn't breathe. Greg was shaking in fear, his ice blue eyes filling with unspilt tears. "Don't you dare cry, you little weakling"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, please, please I'm sorry" Greg flinched when the sharp slap hit his cheek. John dropped him suddenly, and he tumbled to the floor, gasping. He curled into a foetal position, trying to avoid the kicks that thumped him hard in the chest, back and head. He tried to protect his face, so that no one would find out at school. Whimpering in pain, he closed his eyes tight, trying to imagine he was someone else. Perhaps he could be Dan in his class. Dan was confident, bright and funny. Everyone liked Dan. No one had ever laughed at him for wearing the same clothes every day, or limping, or being late every morning because he had to run to school. No one ever laughed at Dan. Dan's father would never hurt him like this. He would never have to hide bruises, set his own broken toes, or try to clean the blood of his clothes. Greg tried so hard to imagine himself in Dan's home, sitting at his table with his father, not having spent the evening doing endless chores and then having to deal with this. He couldn't stay too long in his fantasy though, just then, John kicked him violently at the bottom of his spine, making him arch his back with a cry, unfurling him from the foetal position and allowing John a few kicks on his soft middle and neck. Greg felt his rib fracture, his breathing becoming laboured. Greg moaned in pain, taking painfully shallow breaths, tears spilling, unwanted, from his eyes.
"Please... Please... Please stop now. I'm sorry, I won't do it again, I'm sorry"
"Shut up, Gregory" John placed a few well aimed kicks on his torso. He took a step back, inviting the boy to get up quickly.
"I'm sorry, sir, I didn't mean to"
"Saying sorry isn't good enough. What happened here?"
"I was cleaning underneath, and it fell out of my hand, sir"
"You mean you dropped it"
"So not only have you shown me today that you are cowardly, by trying to get out of just punishment, weak, by nearly crying when you were punished, but now you're a clumsy little shit too. We're going to have to practice your balance"
"Yes sir, sorry sir"
"What are you feeling, Gregory?" The boy looked up in surprise
"Um... It hurts, sir, and I'm tired"
"Wrong answer" John reached out a large hand to cup his son's chin. He looked into his eyes as though searching for something. When he couldn't find it, his other arm recoiled and sprang forward to punch him in the face. Greg's nose exploded with blood, dripping into his mouth and over his clothes, the spatter covering his entire face.
"What are you feeling?" He asked again, his hand now around Greg's throat
"I-I don't know" he spluttered, droplets of blood spraying from his mouth
"Wrong answer" he said, grunting with the effort of putting pressure on the boy's neck
"S-sorry" Greg choked out, panicking. He had no idea what the right answer was.
"What are you feeling?"
"I-I... nothing" he said with resignation. His neck was released from it's vice, and he managed to stay on his feet, putting his hands to his throat and trying to massage air back down.
"Good lad. You feel nothing. That is what soldiers are meant to feel. Only little girls feel anything, Gregory. If I ever catch you showing emotion, except in front of your mother, I will beat you so hard you won't go to school for a week. Do you understand me?"
"Yes" Greg muttered, looking at the floor, still touching his neck.
"Yes Sir" Greg chanted, repositioning his body to a hard military pose
"Good. Stay there until I come back. Don't move an inch, you understand?"
"Yes sir" John stalked away, and Greg was left, blood all over his face, dripping down his neck now, itching his mouth. He couldn't try and massage his fractured rib, or his bruised back, or his head. He was helpless.
House House House
House was twitching, his eyes refusing to focus on anything, darting around in blind terror. There was a familiar knock on his front door. No! No, Wilson couldn't come in and find him here, like this. Before he had time to think, Wilson had let himself inside, and immediately ran to his friend.
"House! What the hell! How?" and then he noticed the fear in his eyes, the flinch at his shout, House looking childlike, frightened at his raised hand. Wilson lowered his arm slowly and knelt down beside his friend. "What's wrong?"
"I didn't mean to. I didn't mean to. I'm sorry" he said, locked in memories triggered by the agony in his leg.
"What's wrong, House? What happened?"
"I... I dropped it. He said to stay there, and I failed. I failed... He'll be so mad" House whispered, sounding like a terrified child.
"Hey, hey, it's okay, no one's mad at you. You're okay, House, I promise" Wilson tried to sound soothing, but he was as scared as his friend seemed.
"I... I... Wilson?" He croaked, coming out of it slightly.
"Hey, hey, I'm here, it's okay"
"He... He said I couldn't move. I had to move. He caught me, wiping the blood away... I was in so much trouble... I made it worse... I had a week off school..."
"It's okay, it's all over now. You're not in trouble anymore"
"Wilson... I... Sorry"
"You've got nothing to be sorry for. Come on, let's get you up" Wilson stood up and took hold of both of House's arms. He was worried, but not shocked, at how little he weighed. As soon as House reached near vertical levels, however, he cried out, the spasm in his leg coming back fully, his eyes focusing on the present, his face becoming clearer, then clouding again in agony. "Shit, I'm sorry House"
"Ahh" he moaned
"Come on, just sit on the couch. I'll get a heating pad. Where are your pills?"
"B-bedside t-table" he forced out between laboured, shuddering breaths. He collapsed on the couch, his hands going instantly to his mutilated thigh, rocking slightly in an effort not to scream. Wilson skidded unprofessionally back into the room, heating pad in one hand and amber vial in another. House looked at the pills longingly, and Wilson shook two out and put them onto his friend's outstretched tongue. He swallowed, the burn of dry pills stinging his throat. Wilson switched on the heating pad and laid it gently over the hard, twitching muscle. House removed his hands and pushed the heels into his eye sockets. When he finally relaxed enough to get his breathing back to normal, he looked up at Wilson. The other man was biting his lip, worry etched into every line on his face.
"Are you okay?" Wilson asked
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean for you to see..."
"It's okay, you don't need to worry. I can deal"
"I didn't mean to fall"
"No one does"
"I wanted to be on time"
"Cuddy rang. I'm late. I should be there. I was trying"
"I thought you didn't care about being late?"
"It takes me on average three hours to get up"
"Shit" they sat in silence for a while, watching each other "do you want to talk about what that was?"
"I really do think it would be a good idea, get it out"
"I don't want-" he broke off his platitude as he looked at the younger doctor. "I had a flashback, that's all"
"House... Did he hurt you?"
"Yeah" he whispered "the one I went to, just then, I dropped a lamp" Wilson looked over at the broken lamp on the floor "he... he didn't like it"
"No. Doesn't sound like it"
"It was years ago. It doesn't matter"
"Yes, it does matter. But anyway, how are you feeling now?" He regretted it as House flinched and tensed up "hey, hey, it's okay"
"Nothing" House whispered on autopilot "I feel nothing"