An angry step-thump echoes down the maternity corridor. All the nurses, and most of the doctors scatter before the sound like forest creatures hiding from native predators. All but Wilson, who rolls his eyes heavenward, and steals one long resigned sigh before turning and meeting his tracker straight in the eye.
Wilson dreads this day. He monitors the approaching portends on his calendar: Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine's Day, April 15th tax filing, and then the most unpleasant day of the year, April 28th.
He successfully avoided House and the hospital on this date for the last two years in a row, but the fates are not with him today.
Originally, he submitted a request for personal time off, planning to hide away in a cineplex, checking out the latest films, but his pager woke him before dawn, and it was necessary to come into the hospital to monitor a young patient with an adverse reaction to some new medication.
Other than checking on 9 year old Jennifer, his mission is to avoid House at any cost. Tired and hungry, he evades locations the older doctor will most likely check. Hospital personnel spy Dr. Wilson and his immaculate lab coat slipping around corners, and dodging down stairs, but no one has a clue as to where he is going, and frankly, neither does he. A little after 1:00 PM, he receives a message from his head Oncology nurse that Jen is stabilized. In preparation for his getaway, he slips off his coat, folding it over his arm and hurries to the nearest stairwell exit, foregoing the opportunity to return the coat to his office and running into House. He congratulates himself on his successful impersonation of a moving target when he hears the arrhythmic gait of one bull-headed doctor. His illusion of safety evaporates as House traps his slippery prey within the sights of twin blue lasers, marching directly up to Wilson and invading his personal space.
"Did you have lunch?" The menacing tone does not match the weight of the question.
"Y – Yes."
Wilson does not think it possible, but House moves a bit closer, sniffs, and notes the younger man's pallor, and drawn features, "By the hangdog look on your face, and slightly stale beer breath, I'd say you haven't eaten in 12 hours. Happy Birthday Wilson, it's time for your annual physical! The one you put off for the last three years."
Thinking the best offense is his best defense, Wilson bounces slightly on the balls of his feet, pinching his lips into a narrow line, "And, just why is it necessary for you to schedule my exam on my birthday?"
"Because, there isn't a thermometer's chance in hell that you plan to remind me, and I can't be bothered to remember any other day of the year, unless you want me to schedule the exam over all 8 days of Hanukkah . . ." House's voice takes on a steely quality, "and trust me, it will take that long"
Wilson wags his finger at House, opens and closes his mouth a couple of times planning to launch into lecture mode, then thinks better of it. Hanging his head down, he shrugs his shoulders in defeat, and follows House to the room reserved for the oncologist's annual exam.
Wilson's birthday is always a celebration for House, depending if he locates the man. He delights in including unlikely tests that exacts revenge for any sarcastic remark or underhanded scheme Wilson perpetrated during the year. Sometimes, he throws in one or two new experimental tests for good measure.
Wilson is pinched, prodded and probed until the only way he can take his mind off how sore and achy his body feels is by fantasizing about tripping House with his own cane. Finally, the testing ends. It's difficult to tell why House grants mercy. It's a toss up whether there are no more tests he can think of, or he overhears the dark haired man muttering under his breath about why he is the only Jew who endures Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, two times a year.
The diagnostician sits down with the barrage of tests and rakes his eyes over the results. The long silence begins to twist knots in Wilson's stomach, and he tries to reach out for the clipboard to see what House finds so interesting, but his hand is swatted away. House looks solemn as he brings his head up and catches his friend's gaze, "Well Jimmy, looks like you will survive another year . . . or three", and abruptly walks out of the exam room.
Wilson sighs in relief, but he's glad House isn't in the examination room to see it. He does not plan to give House the satisfaction of knowing how he feels after the torture he was put through. Instead, he buttons his shirt and prepares to drag up to his office and drop off his lab coat before he calls it a day. No need to beat a hasty exit now. Besides, he feels worn and drained. His hotel room and room service is just what the doctor ordered.
Thoughts of comfort slip away when the door reopens, and House limps back into the room carrying a small white prescription bag.
Shaking his head back and forth, Wilson raises his hands in a palms out gesture as if to push House away if he comes any closer, "If you thought of any more tests, you can just take them and the horse you rode in on . . . "
House puts his hand in the bag and pulls out a chocolate cupcake with a small pink candle on top. He passes the iced cake to his exhausted friend, "Eat this, it will give you a little energy to make it back to my place. The pizza and beer are on me"
Secretly, Wilson is touched by his friend's uncharacteristic kindness, but he can't resist earning points for next year's torture session, "This looks suspiciously like something you give someone for their birthday. Pizza and beer, too? You know in some cultures, those may be considered gifts."
A grumbling reply, "Cut the crap! The tests must have drained the brains right out your ears. Consider the food a bonus or even a peace offering for today's tests, but never confuse those with presents. The real birthday gift is the physical."
"And, that is because you actually like to cause pain and suffering?
"Don't give me cause to cram that blow-dried head of hair back into the MRI again!"
House turns his head away from Wilson for a moment, and when he looks back there is a boyish grin stamped across his face - one that Wilson never saw before. House swallows, and holds a beat as their eyes connect, It's because we always hurt the one we love."