Challenge/Prompt: fanfic100 071. Broken
BY THE WAY: Sequel(ish) to ‘circle’
Copyright: “Mr November” by The National.
Summary: Chase finally gets the breakdown following his father’s death.
Author’s Notes: a) I always wanted to have a stab at a proper hurt/comfort fic. Way too fun. b) While writing this I decided to research the whole thing properly. I ate 40 TicTacs in a row. Not quite a whole box, but I don’t recommend it. It is NOT FUN. c) Yes, every time I get upset about my dad’s death, I’ll probably write one of these. If you feel that the emotions in these things are too close to home and it makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to read them, but to be honest I don’t think they are my personal feelings, since I’m not sure what mine are. d) Dedicated to Neil Morgans. Not the best father in the world by any means, but mine. :)
If the song doesn’t fit the fic it doesn’t matter. That really isn’t why I’m using it.
This is nothing like it was in my room
You look at the white, blank word document waiting for words to be put on it. Your fingers sit over the keys waiting patiently. You’ve spent ten minutes reformatting the page set-up and choosing a font and so on and now you can’t procrastinate any longer. Except that the words don’t- can’t- come, because you doesn’t think you actually have any. Slowly, you flex your fingers, crack your knuckles, stretch your arms and shift your shoulders and still you can’t think of a single word. Perhaps you’ll never find the things you need to say.
Brushing blonde hair out of your eyes you think about loss and wonder whether that’s what they expect from you. Whether you’re supposed to discuss what pain feels like and how accepting it takes more time than anyone has and how you gain some things and lose so much more and sometimes you’re all right and sometimes you’re not and the whole thing is crazy and occasionally it’s irritating and most of the time it’s just downright exhausting.
Flexing your fingers one more time, you begin typing rapidly with the first things that come into your head. My father, Rowan Chase, was an incredible rheumatologist.
In my best clothes
Your hands won’t stop shaking and you carefully try to tie your tie. It doesn’t work. You’ve never been particularly good at ties no matter how many years you’ve been wearing them. You wonder vaguely whether your father is watching you and whether he’s ashamed. His only son, unable to write a speech for his memorial service, incapable of dressing up properly in formalwear, shaking like a teenager (like you never grew up). (Maybe you didn’t)
Your swallow hard and sigh and let the dark blue silk tie slip between your fingers. Your lean your forehead against the cold glass of the mirror, willing yourself to be calm, be empty, be together enough to deliver this speech. You look at your reflection, blurred from such close proximity, until your breath fogs up the mirror and erases you entirely, and you shut your eyes while your lips tremble and your fingers splay on the glass.
You can’t do it. You don’t want to do it. But you also know that you have to.
Trying to think of you
Your shoes are shiny and are plain black leather and you can only imagine what House would say about them. In your anxiety you’ve eaten an entire box of TicTacs, and though they’re not quite like Vicodin and they don’t have the same effect, you feel pretty damn numb. After enough they start tasting like headache pills anyway and you feel sick and every breath you take in is thick with minty mentholated taste and it’s obscurely cold too, and you decide then and there that eating that many breath mints in one go is something that you must never repeat.
There’s sunlight streaming through the windows and clutched in your left hand is a speech for you to read. You finally got it finished at great emotional cost and even though you swore you’d cried out all your tears months ago after it was finished and printed and saved you sat cross-legged under the table in your kitchen and sobbed into your palms for a while until it alleviated some of the pain and shock. Orphaned by thirty. Is there a certificate somewhere you can get?
He- Rowan- was your father and it’s confusing how you hated him so much when he was alive. Or at least, you wanted to hate him. Perhaps you were just disappointed and displaying that kicked-puppy syndrome you do so very, very well. You feel sick and light-headed and wonder whether it’s the TicTacs or the fact that you now love your father more with hindsight than you did when he was actually around.
The English are waiting and I don’t know what to do
When you clear your throat quietly you hear the sound reverberating around the room and wince. With shaky hands you lay the papers of your speech on the podium and tap your fingers on the edge, trying to find courage that apparently doesn’t exist. You must look like a druggie- hollow eyes, shaking violently, your words slurring together because they’re coming out in a rush. Obscurely you wish for a pencil or something to chew until you feel calm again.
The medical community wanted to hold a memorial for your father and who were you to stop them, and you felt that you ought to give a speech when they asked you because it’s not like you went to funeral or anything. You’re seriously regretting that decision now, in this hotel conference room with a photograph of your father on the projector behind you and around fifty TicTacs metabolising in your system and nearly two hundred doctors staring at you and frowning as if to say this shuddering wreck is Rowan Chase’s son?
Except that two of them aren’t. James Wilson and Allison Cameron are dead centre and looking at you, willing you to have the strength and courage to pull yourself together and deliver this speech. You’re not sure why, but it’s oddly appropriate that these two turn up, even though you can’t help wondering why House isn’t here. And then you notice him. He’s sitting up the back, top right hand corner, and although he’s too far away to lipread, you can tell he’s mouthing something along the lines of get on with it at you.
You turn your attention back to Wilson and Cameron. Wilson winks at you and you cough and start again, the words coming out more smoothly than you could have expected.
In my best clothes
In the men’s bathroom you’ve got your face pressed firmly into your hands and God, you feel so, so fucking sick. It can’t just be the overdose of mint and the relief you feel that it’s all over. It can’t be. The top button of your shirt is undone and your tie’s been loosened. Not so smart any more and you’re fairly sure everyone is just sitting there going poor Rowan, the boy must have been such a disappointment to him. You don’t need reminding of that fact and so you just feel worse.
“I’m never going to be enough for you, am I?” you scream, fist connecting so hard with the mirror, the glass shattering and you’re probably pulverising the bones in your hand at the same time. You love it when you get two things for the price of one. Broken mirror fragments tumble into the sink with horrible little noises and you back away, clutching your bleeding and hurting hand to your chest, gasping, tasting menthol with every breath.
You’re getting blood on your clean shirt and you think something must be broken because it is complete agony. You sink to the floor, breathing too hard, head bowed and reflecting that you really must look a sight and you’re letting your father down again because it’s true; you never were enough and you never will be.
This is why I need you
The door opens eventually and you look up through your hair expecting either House or Cameron or someone you’ve never met before. Instead, it’s Wilson. His expression of utter calm doesn’t flicker when he sees you, and instead he sits down beside you on the floor, leaning his back against the bathroom stall door, loosening his own tie.
“Gating mechanism?” he enquires lightly, and part of you wants him to yell at you that you’re just being stupid and that you should get up and get over yourself. But House isn’t here and no one else is going to say that to you.
“No,” you mutter, sounding ungrateful and sulky and like the teenager that part of you still is. He sighs and you both sit in silence for a while in the beige hotel bathroom, looking at the mirror shards on the floor and the blood on your shirt and the mess you’ve made.
“Are you going to let me look at your hand?” Wilson asks you eventually. You turn and look at him.
“I think it’s broken.”
He takes your hand between two of his, warm and steady, doctor’s hands, and you close your eyes and lean your head against the wall and he seems to understand because he doesn’t say anything at all.
I’m the new blue blood
Your hand is splinted and you sit at the open hotel bar and drink steadily and the bartender has the good sense to keep bringing you drinks and not mention anything. You don’t know where Wilson went and you can’t even remember if you thanked him for bandaging you up and not asking questions. You do remember that House left you a fifty dollar bill to get yourself drunk on and that Cameron hugged you for an uncomfortably long time before they both left. They have work to do. They can’t stay.
Staring into an absolutely clear glass of vodka or something, you wonder vaguely whether Wilson and Cameron were holding hands behind the seats, whether they’re sleeping together. It’s a stupid thing to think about so you don’t let the thought drop because it’s better to think about stupid things and to lose yourself in meaningless speculation than think about the big things that you don’t have a fucking clue how to deal with. Maybe her kindness is rubbing off on him, maybe that’s why he fixed you up the way he did.
But whichever way you look at it you’re alone and you’re drunk and you’re tired and you’re miserable and your hand is throbbing in pain and that really isn’t a good combination.
I’m the great white hope
“Think I’m gonna be sick,” you mumble.
“That’s… a definite possibility,” Wilson agrees. You open your eyes and attempt to look up at him from your uncomfortable position on the hallway floor but there’s a light fixture behind his head which makes you squint until you feel blind and you have to crane your neck at an awkward and possibly physically impossible angle.
“I’m pathetic,” you whisper miserably.
“You’re not,” Wilson says patiently, reaching out a hand to help you to your feet, which you take with your undamaged hand and almost pull you both over. You collapse against him, drunk and dizzy. He sighs, shifts, and in a moment you find yourself in his arms, head against his shoulder, arms under your back and knees, carrying you like a child.
“Might be sick on you,” you mutter.
“I don’t like this shirt,” he replies with a trace of a smile in his voice. You feel impossibly embarrassed and young and uncomfortable so you just bury your face in the shoulder of his jacket.
“Gonna pass out,” you inform him because it’s been a long day and you’re tired and in pain and nauseous and very, very drunk. You don’t even hear his reply because you’re already sinking gratefully into blackness.
I won’t fuck us over
Wilson carries you back to your room (if you were awake you might be surprised at his knowing the number), shifts you so he can get one hand into your pocket for the key card, and lets you both in. He flicks on all the lights, which makes you moan even in your unconscious state, and carries you over to the bed, laying you down with almost excessive care. He sits down and looks at your unconscious form for a while as though making a decision, before picking the key card up from the table where he left it and leaving you alone for a few minutes as he heads back downstairs.
Eventually he returns, leaving a small black bag against the wall before walking back across to where you are.
“Robert,” he says softly. You don’t stir. He wasn’t expecting you to. He bites his lips together and then sighs and goes to unzip your suitcase where you dumped it on the floor, finding the clean t-shirt and boxers you left in there for sleeping in, and with steady, impassive hands undresses you and changes your clothes, neatly laying your suit over a chair in the corner and carrying your shirt into the bathroom for an overnight soak in the sink to try and remove some of the blood. If you were even slightly awake you might wonder at his ability to do this so calmly and efficiently, but then you don’t know about all the nights that he’s done this for House and he’d never tell you even if you asked.
Finally, he turns off most of the lights and carefully tucks you into the bed, smoothing messy hair away from your forehead to press the lightest of kisses to your skin. Perhaps you’d flush and push him away if you knew he was doing this. Perhaps you wouldn’t. It doesn’t matter and he deliberately doesn’t think about either possibility. Instead, he unlaces his shoes, lines them up against the wall, and lies down on top of the covers beside you to watch you sleep and make sure that you’re all right.
I’m Mr November
There’s too much light when you first wake up and you realise that as well as the light slipping through the blinds the lamp beside your bed is on. You reach out with a shaking hand to flip it off and after a few goes you manage it. Your hands are trembling crazily and the nausea is much, much worse. And for no apparent reason you have Blondie’s Sunday Girl stuck in your head, which grates across the headache pounding your skull. Your hand is throbbing with pain. All in all, it’s not a good morning.
Rolling over slightly and praying that you won’t start throwing up for a little while longer, you get the shock of your life when you see the man sleeping beside you. Wilson looks a lot different when he’s asleep, a lot more vulnerable and for a moment you wonder exactly what happened last night, until you realise that you’re both fully clothed and Wilson is lying on top of the covers, head pillowed on his arm, a little frown on his face. In a different world and a different time you might allow yourself to think that he looks rather adorable when he’s sleeping. Right now you just feel far too self-absorbed.
Part of you wants to open your mouth and ask him exactly why he’s here and what he’s doing and how much do you owe him anyway but unfortunately the moment you do bile rises in your throat and instead you have to stumble towards the ensuite bathroom before you actually are sick all over the room.
I wish that I believed in fate
After what feels like an eternity of throwing up you finally realise that Wilson is sitting cross-legged beside you, still in the shirt and smart black slacks he wore yesterday, gently rubbing your back while you tremble. He holds a glass of water to your mouth and you manage to take a few sips before you start vomiting again, fringe in your eyes, the warm heat of Wilson’s comforting fingers burning through your t-shirt.
Your stomach settles down eventually, and you rest your forehead against the toilet enamel, breathing shallowly and doing your best to suppress your gag reflex, and Wilson doesn’t take his hand away and for a moment of nausea and dizziness you actually feel safe, you actually feel all right.
“You should have a shower,” Wilson murmurs eventually. You like the idea of that, clean water washing everything away, and he gets slowly to his feet and then helps you up. After telling you that you need to make sure that your bandage remains dry, he leaves you alone.
The mirror shows you a terrible reflection and you turn away, wincing slightly, and then a thought occurs to you. You open the bathroom door and lean into the room. Wilson is finally changing out of his clothes and it almost strikes you as funny that neither of you care he’s not wearing a shirt right now.
“The mirror,” you say softly, “That I broke. What-”
“I took care of it,” he replies shortly, shrugging a t-shirt over his head.
“You didn’t have to do that,” you tell him.
“Go and have a shower,” is the only reply you get, so you obediently do so.
I wish I didn’t sleep so late
There’s a club sandwich, a bottle of water and a glass of fruit juice waiting for you when you walk back into the room. Wilson is sprawled out on one of the beds, channel hopping in a t-shirt and jeans.
“You need to eat something,” he says to you, indicating the room service he’s obviously called up. You want to say something, but you can’t find the words, so instead you obediently sit down on the floor and get eating. As the food drops into your completely empty stomach you start to feel better, more solid somehow. The shaking subsides a little and even though you still don’t feel quite right, the plate is clean pretty quickly. Wilson drops the TV remote into your hand.
“I’m going to take a quick shower myself,” he says, and those words are completely laden with the undertone don’t do anything stupid. But you’re too lethargic to even move, so you listen to him padding off to the bathroom and then watch TV without taking any of it in.
You don’t see Wilson standing in the small bathroom, studying his trembling hands for a while, swallowing hard over and over. You don’t see him rubbing at his eyes helplessly from too little sleep and maybe something else. And you don’t see him lean his head against the shower wall with water beating down on him. It’s probably just as well that the tiles are the only thing that can see the look on his face.
I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders
“I don’t want to go home,” you say the moment Wilson comes out of the bathroom. If he’s surprised that you were waiting outside the door for him, he doesn’t mention it.
“…Ever? Or just for a while?” he enquires, raising an eyebrow, talking in the calm tone he reserves for placating House or pissed-off patients. That irritates you slightly as he walks past you to sit on the bed again.
“I don’t know,” you say, and it comes out sounding more like a sulky child than you meant it to. For some reason you find yourself staring at his bare feet and the slightly frayed hems of his jeans, because that makes him slightly more human, somehow. Less like he’s an impossibly competent doctor and you’re a spoilt teenager incapable of behaving. “You don’t need to stay too,” you add, “You should get back. They need you back at the hospital.”
“But you need me more,” he says. Actually, he doesn’t, but for a moment you pretend that he had instead of that little shrug that could mean anything.
“We can stay here for as long as you need,” he replies, stretching out. “I’ll book a room later. I’m sure we can square the time off later.”
“Ok,” you whisper, biting at your thumb, not sure what to do because everything is confusing and you didn’t have enough time for a breakdown at the time of your father’s death and maybe you’ll get it now, a couple of months later. Maybe you won’t.
“Come here,” Wilson says softly, indicating the half of the bed that he’s not sitting on, and you once again obey him to lie down beside him and watch the TV, because as it turns out there really isn’t much to do in hotel rooms if you haven’t packed a book or a packet of condoms.
You swallow hard, because you have no idea where that thought came from.
I’m the new blue blood
For a while you study Wilson’s face in profile, the muted planes of his cheekbones, the shadows his eyelashes cast on his skin. And before you can stop yourself you’re straddling his hips and kissing him desperately, your fingers tangling in his hair, eyes closing. And he’s kissing you back just as feverishly, while you shove your leg between his and his tongue curls around yours. He’s hardening against your thigh and that’s what you want; to be fucked until nothing matters anymore, until you can’t feel anything at all.
“Chase, stop,” Wilson says, voice of reason as ever. He pushes you back by your shoulders and holds you away from him.
“But-” you protest.
“You don’t want to do this,” he adds, and you’ve never seen eyes with more misery in them than his right at this moment.
“But it’s what you want,” you say, reaching for him, and he pushes you away again.
“What I want doesn’t matter,” he replies, and you wonder vaguely and cruelly if he’s ever said that to anyone else in his life, “But tell me, seriously: do you want this?”
You open your mouth to say ‘yes’ but can’t get it out; he’s looking at you with such a firm yet vulnerable expression that you can’t bring yourself to do this to him.
“No,” you admit quietly. A smirk quirks the corner of his lips.
“Didn’t think so,” he murmurs. You feel worse somehow at the look on his face, that resignation tinged with something else.
“I’m sorry,” you tell him.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about,” he smiles, letting go of your shoulders. You find yourself falling onto him again anyway, and his arms wrap around you and you rest your head on his chest and listen to his heart beating too fast and too hard for a while. His fingers stroke gently through your hair like he can’t deny himself the contact and you close your eyes and feel yourself falling asleep again, safe in the knowledge that he’s there, and although you’re not ok yet, you will be.
I’m the great white hope
The two of you spend two days in the hotel room doing absolutely nothing, which is unbelievably relaxing. You like hotel rooms. Other people might find them impersonal or soul destroying but you like the anonymity and the possibilities of them. You sleep a lot and don’t cry because you don’t need to and eat room service and watch stupid TV shows you haven’t had time to watch in a couple of years. You don’t speak a lot and Wilson has a book packed into the black bag he brought with him and he’s content to read it while you sit around thinking about nothing. Part of you does wonder quite how he managed to be so prepared and if he was expecting you to do this, but you don’t know how to put the thoughts into words, so you don’t.
The idea of the two of you having sex isn’t brought up again, and neither is Wilson’s wife who must be at home wondering where the hell he is, and you’re both surprised and suspicious that House hasn’t called you yet and chewed you out over the phone. You don’t see Wilson calling him when you’re in the shower and begging for time on your behalf. You don’t hear the concern in his voice or you don’t watch him rubbing his hand across his face like this whole thing is killing his soul more than he’d like to admit.
You don’t hear him screaming at his wife either, although perhaps it would be easier on you if you did.
I won’t fuck us over
On the morning of the fourth day you wake up to find Wilson packing with immense care, folding things and placing them both in your suitcase and his black bag. When you’ve cleared the sleep out of your eyes a little you notice that he’s stealing the hotel towels and bathrobes, sharing them equally between the two of you.
“Have you taken all the soaps and the sewing kit?” you enquire.
“They’re next on my list,” he replies, and you grin because you’re starting to think that that’s Wilson all over- pretending to be the good and capable doctor, while stealing the hotel’s property.
“Are we taking the sheets?”
“Do you need a new sheet?”
“Not so much,” you admit, easing yourself out of bed. It will be weird to get home again. Weird but ok. You can’t stay in the peaceful limbo of the hotel forever, although you’d like to. Instead, you stumble off to the bathroom for a quick shower and when the water has got you clean and you haven’t got the bandage around your hand wet (yet again; you should get marks for that, somehow) Wilson has finished packing, and is watching it rain outside with an ambivalent expression.
“There should be a cab downstairs soon,” he tells you as you attempt to lace up your shoes one-handed.
“Good,” you murmur, but it tastes remarkably like a lie. You aren’t too sure about how you feel. It’ll be good in the long run. Perhaps. Wilson watches you struggle with your shoes for a while, then sighs and comes over.
“Let me do it,” he replies, kneeling down and reaching out to knot the laces quickly and easily. You sigh silently. House is going to be setting you all sorts of tasks when you get back, just to see how much you can take. Same old same old. No wonder why you always end up grinning through your teeth instead of saying ‘no’.
Wilson looks up at you and for one moment it really could go either way. But then he gets to his feet, brushing the knees of his slacks awkwardly before turning away.
“Come on,” he says quietly, “We have to get back to life again.”
“James,” you begin, but he shakes his head.
“We’ll be late if we don’t get a move on.”
I’m Mr November
House makes a lot of comments that obviously amuse him about different ways you might have broken your hand, even though he knows damn well how you managed it. You don’t even blush. You don’t need to. Foreman doesn’t really care and you let Cameron hug you as much as she feels she wants to. Wilson is actively avoiding you to a point that makes you miserable. You regard him as a friend now, even if you can’t want him the way that he wants you.
Eventually, you corner him in his office, chewing your lower lip.
“James,” you say, and refuse to let him interrupt, “I want to thank you. I don’t care what your motives were and I’m sorry that I can’t be what you want me to be, but thank you so, so much.”
Wilson looks at you for what feels uncomfortably like an eternity with so many raw emotions on his face that you force yourself not to try and count them.
“Any time,” he says, with what at least appears to be a genuine smile.
I won’t fuck us over