House, MD is the property of David Shore, Bad Hat Harry Productions, Heel and Toe Productions, and NBC Universal. I claim no ownership to any parts or characters.
Author's Note: House/Wilson established relationship, no graphics.
House's hands gripped the edge of the bar tighter and tighter as he continued to stare at the large television screen a few inches above his head. Each chant of anticipation continued to be accompanied by his left leg sliding further off of the rung of his stool and his butt sliding up off of the seat.
His voice blended in with the shouts of the other patrons crammed around them but Wilson could tell every time House spoke because he kept edging further and further to the side with excitement and knocking against his arm hard with an elbow. Wilson kept shoving him away but the elbow just came right back even harder as he kept moving.
House was drumming the bar top now, watching anxiously as the defense lineman for the Green Bay Packers continued to block the Baltimore Ravens quarterback with seconds left in the fourth quarter. Wilson scowled with annoyance again when he felt the hard jab against his side this time and tried to move further out of reach without falling off of the stool.
It was not an easy feat considering the two men pressed up against his other side were also moving as they cheered the game on and nearly squashing him. He could barely even lift the Heineken to his lips because he kept getting knocked into from both sides and was sure that he would end up with a lapful of beer instead of a mouthful.
"Yes-!" House practically stood up off of the stool with one foot, whooping as the quarterback was tackled before reaching the end zone, and Wilson had to slap his hand against the edge of the bar fast to keep from toppling right over. "Whoo! Yeah, baby! Yeah!"
"God damn it!" Wilson snapped angrily, finally not able to stand it anymore. "House, you better-"
"Ha! You see that?" House's weight was off of his side in an instant as the man swiveled around, bracing his weight against the stool. He was looking right over Wilson's head, gloating obnoxiously at the number of Packers' fans crowded around groaning. "Who called it, huh? Who called it?"
The tone of his voice was cockily familiar and made Wilson narrow his eyes guardedly. He wouldn't put it past House to have made bets with every single-
Before he even finished the thought House's hand was out gesturing. He rolled his eyes as he watched several men fishing out their wallets begrudgingly.
The smug expression on House's face just got even worse as bills were handed over to him. Wilson took a healthy swallow of beer and shook his head. Surprise, surprise.
"Thank you," House said mockingly, wearing a smile that oozed smarminess as he counted the bills theatrically. "Pleasure doing business with you."
"Asshole," Wilson heard someone say sourly.
Several other choice words were grumbled as the crowd began dispersing from around the bar. Someone began flipping the channel to another station while the noise level started spreading out evenly from all over like usual. House dropped back into the stool finally to face him with his trademark jackass smirk. He flashed the wad of bills in his direction.
"Whatcha think about that?" he crowed. "Pretty impressive, right?"
Wilson lifted his eyebrows mockingly. "Oh, absolutely," he deadpanned, rolling his eyes. "Takes a lot of skill to outsmart a bunch of drunks over two teams who both suck." He took another drink of beer and grinned. "How'd you pull that off, anyway? You hate the Ravens."
House just smiled wickedly. "You just have to know who's a moron," he said, tapping the side of his head knowingly. "Those guys are the best ones to go against. They wouldn't know a scam if it bit them on the ass and sat there chewing."
Wilson shook his head but smiled. House fanned a few of the bills out in his hand like a dealer. "Pick your poison," he went on.
Wilson continued drinking his beer unnoticing for a moment until he realized House has his eyebrows raised expectantly and then quirked his own eyebrow quizzically.
"Seriously," House said. "We can go for the premium tonight." He winked, folding bills between his fingers flashily. He lifted the drink menu off of the bar top and studied it. "What do you think…want to go on the edge and get the Hennessey?"
Swallowing the last of his beer, Wilson gazed back at House warningly. He had been sticking to the two beer limit they had agreed on upon arriving but it sounded like House had decided to add a few more to his quota. He could only imagine what adding cognac would do to the man.
House was giving him his most charming smile. He shook his head disapprovingly, wondering why House always managed to make him seem like a buzz kill all the time.
"Not a good idea," he said. He checked his watch and pushed away the Heineken bottle. "It's already 11. You know we've got to be at work in the morning." He pulled the menu away. "We should get going."
The other man pouted and Wilson had to fight not to grin. "Come on," he whined. "Don't be such a granny. We've got plenty of time."
Wilson cocked an eyebrow. House had a much higher tolerance for alcohol and they both knew it. Maybe he had plenty of time but Wilson would probably only need three sips of something stronger than vodka to become drunk.
He shook his head firmly. "No," he said. When House gave him the evil eye, he used the tone of voice saved for the times when House knew disagreeing would lead to a night on the couch. "House. I mean it. We need to go."
The other man continued to glare mutinously at him but Wilson stared right back, one eyebrow arched daringly. The stare-off continued for another minute and then House narrowed his eyes in a mocking manner before heaving a dramatic sigh. Wilson smiled, having known all along that he was going to win anyway. He had House wrapped around his finger and they both knew it, even as the man continuously claimed that he would sooner impale himself on a pitchfork than admit to it.
"Oh, al-right," House heaved theatrically. He pushed the menu away with a wistful frown that was threatening to become a grin and quickly glared at Wilson to cover it up. "You do realize that the quality of the booze gets lower every day that it's not on someone else's dime?"
"Tragedy," Wilson shot back as he got to his feet. He shrugged into his coat and grinned at House. "Think you can spare some of those earnings for the tab, you cheapskate?"
House growled at him threateningly and he just laughed. The other man grudgingly turned to slap some bills on the bar top, but not before Wilson saw the good natured twinkle sparkling in his eyes.
Cold wind was blowing forcefully when Wilson pushed through the doors out into the night air. He sucked in a chattering breath while House stepped up beside him on the sidewalk.
"Damn," he complained and fumbled into his gloves.
House pushed his shoulder playfully as they made their way to the parking lot. "Wuss," he said mockingly. "Suck it up and be a man.…you don't see me wearing any pussy gloves."
Wilson looked at him witheringly. "Oh," he replied. "So it was someone else who stole them from me yesterday on the way to work then?"
House looked straight ahead and sniffed indignantly without replying. He chuckled.
They continued walking in silence and it wasn't until a few moments later that it suddenly occurred to Wilson that House's car wasn't anywhere in sight of where they were heading toward his own. He stopped and looked around quizzically.
"Hey, wait," he said, staring after House as he continued ahead of him. The other man paused after a moment to glance back and Wilson stared at him, puzzled. "Where'd you park? I didn't see you when I came in."
They had driven to work separately that morning. One of Wilson's patients had been on the brink of passing away the night before and he had sat with the family through the difficult remaining hours before the man had slipped away. It was nearly 5 am before he had gotten home and he'd had to reschedule his morning appointments so that he could get some sleep. House had tried to convince Cuddy to let him come in to work later that day too and had been deeply offended when she shot down his argument that sleeping until it was time for Wilson to come in later would better his mental productivity.
He had come banging into Wilson's office later that evening proclaiming that the clinic duty he'd endured that day had put a fresh level of hell on the map and deserved to be intoxicated from his memory. Wilson had replied that he'd go anywhere House wanted if it meant leaving him alone to finish the overload of work that had been bombarding him since the second he'd arrived. By the time he had finally called it a day, he had forgotten all about getting a drink and had been almost to the apartment before retrieving House's voicemail to meet him at the bar he'd chosen.
House rolled his eyes. "Of course you didn't see me, moron," he said. "I managed to get here at a decent hour so I wouldn't have to park in the middle of Bum-fuck-ville like you."
Wilson had to admit that it really had sucked to see the parking situation when he had arrived. The place wasn't packed by any standard (it was still a Monday, after all) but it was also tiny, House having as usual delighting in dragging him out to some dive he'd never heard of that looked more at home in a hick farm town than Jersey.
"I told you no one was going to care if you got those stupid case reviews finished before you left," House went on. "You could have parked around front with all the rest of normal society and there'd be no need to even have this conversation."
He was continuing to stride along as he spoke, barely missing a beat as his long legs nearly outpaced Wilson's steps beside him.
"But did you listen to me? No-ooo."
The griping words were belied by teasing sarcasm. Wilson rolled his eyes, about to point out that House didn't have to walk all the way out here if his damn parking spot was so much better, but then stopped when he abruptly realized something.
House was walking him to his car. It was completely out of the way, inconvenient for his leg, and accompanied by as much complaining as possible to disguise the fact that House was ensuring he wouldn't be alone while going across the dark parking lot.
Wilson smiled warmly, knowing House couldn't see it, and kept silent.
They finally approached the Volvo, sitting lonely and forlorn in the corner "space" that Wilson had decided to create after driving around the full lot twice. He had wedged between a huge weeping willow separating the parking lot from an old house several hundred yards down the neighboring property and what looked like a neglected automotive garage that looked like it might be opened every three decades when the bar owners wanted to make sure the doors hadn't rusted shut.
House couldn't help but scoff incredulously. He knew that the place had been full when Wilson arrived, but seeing the sea of emptiness around them now just made the distance they had come to reach the car even more laughingly outrageous. The Volvo was quite literally in the middle of nowhere in relation to the bar.
"Wow," he said sarcastically, raising his eyebrows at Wilson. "Are you sure this was the best you do? That field two miles down the road could have been a great spot too."
"You can go ahead to your car now," Wilson replied dryly without missing a beat. He pressed the automatic lock on the key fob. "Wanna race to see who gets home first?"
"Shut up and get the heat on already," House grumbled, already dropping into the passenger seat. He glared at Wilson as he opened up his door. "If I can't feel my balls by the time you get over to my car I'm going to make you call Cuddy personally in the morning to explain why I won't be coming in."
"The horror," he quipped, grinning. House rubbed his hands together as Wilson stuck the key into the ignition and turned it. The grin faded when the engine caught weakly a few times with spluttering sounds. He tried it again and got the same result. "Aw, shit."
With an annoyed sigh he reached down and popped the hood. House scowled sourly as Wilson stepped back out.
"This is what happens when you-" The driver's side door was slammed shut in the midst of his sentence to muffle his words and Wilson grinned cheekily at him. He glared back playfully and opened his own door, sticking his head out so that he could yell the rest out. "Finish your work instead of leaving early to drink like the rest of us rebels…you bored your own car to death!"
"Quit bitching and get out here," Wilson said, lifting the hood and propping it open. "I need the flashlight. It's under your seat."
"Gee, really?" House fired back sarcastically, already reaching for it. As if he didn't know that…he had been the one who put the damn thing there in the first place a few months ago, after finding out during a raid for CDs that Mr. Prepared-For-Apocalypse had apparently broken the one that he kept in his trunk. "Are your arms broken?"
Leaving his cane where it had landed beside the seat, he heaved himself up and over the few steps to join Wilson in front of the car. He snorted at the sight of the other man bent over with his head buried under the hood.
"You don't have the slightest idea what you're even looking at," he said matter-of-factly with amusement.
"Will you-" The exasperation in Wilson's voice made his amusement grow. House would bet that he was just wishing he could put his hands on his hips. "Can you just give me some light here please?"
House smirked but switched on the flashlight and held it up. He moved closer so that he was able to get a view as well.
"It can't be the battery," Wilson said distantly, talking more to himself. He frowned as he tugged gently on the connector cable to check for looseness. "It's only a few months old. It shouldn't be dead…"
House was growing antsy. He switched the flashlight to his other hand and jiggled his weight where he was supporting his leg against the bumper frame. "Not getting any warmer here," he roused impatiently.
Wilson clucked in irritation, not even listening to him. His face screwed up with confusion as he continued checking different parts clumsily. "Maybe there's an oil leak?"
House was set to snipe again. He was cold, neither of them knew the first thing about the mechanics of a car, and standing here watching Wilson pretend he was a Boy Scout wasn't going to get the damn thing started. The increasing pressure from his bladder reminding him of the alcohol in his system really wasn't helping either.
But something was off. He couldn't tell what it was but it was making it difficult to focus on the current situation. He felt…anxious for some reason, to the point that he was having trouble keeping still.
Against his own volition, he took his gaze away from the car and began scanning their surroundings.
"…should have cables in the trunk-"
Wilson was still speaking but House barely heard him this time. The feeling had ratcheted up rapidly. He was feeling prickles on the back of his neck that weren't wind and his pulse was suddenly soaring.
This wasn't anxiety.
"House." Wilson raised his head slightly at the lack of response to his last words and glared sideways in annoyance when he saw that the man wasn't even paying attention. "I said go and get the-"
"Need a hand?" a deep voice interjected abruptly from behind them.
The alarm bells started clanging in House's head even before the person finished and his skin began to tingle like fire. Wilson began to straighten up beside him, relief evident in his voice as he started to thank the person while turning around.
Before he even realized what he was doing House was spinning to face the other person faster than a man with a bad leg should have been able to and pulling Wilson back behind him.
Wilson started with a slight squawk when he was yanked without warning, nearly tripping before finding himself suddenly pressed against the bumper of the car with House's back practically pinning him. He began to protest in surprise.
"House-!" He struggled to move around him. "What are you-"
His words dried up abruptly when he saw the knife.
Though his heart was hammering, House's mind was already running through their options. From their position he had the possibility of a vantage point. Keeping one hand firmly on the hood of the car beside him would allow him to keep upright while taking weight from his bad leg. He just had to make sure he didn't give this nut job the chance to notice that he couldn't walk.
Giving his most intimidating glare, House lifted his chin authoritatively while keeping his other arm back to make sure Wilson stayed shielded behind him. The man was shorter than both of them and appeared stocky, but that could have just been because of the huge puffed jacket he was wearing. There was a ski cap on his head and he hadn't bothered covering his face, not that it made any difference considering how dark it was. The only thing House could really tell obviously was that the guy wasn't black.
"What do you want?" he asked in a low voice.
House tried to make his tone threatening while keeping his eye trained on the man's knife hand. He was holding the weapon out toward them but hadn't raised it in preparation to strike. Yet.
As long as he kept the man from raising that knife, they might be alright.
"Wallets." The man's voice was slightly hoarse like he might have been a heavy smoker. He jerked the knife toward the ground for a second before pointing it back at House menacingly. "Cash, credit cards, all of it. Dump it there. Now."
Sneering, House carefully removed his hand from the anchor of the car and balanced himself without moving. He dug into his pocket and tossed his wallet, not taking his eyes from the man's face. Wilson's wallet joined his a second later.
The man shifted slightly towards the right and House mirrored the action while pushing Wilson in the same direction behind him. He pressed his other hand carefully onto the hood again as he turned so that his weight was transferred smoothly onto his right foot without pressing back down with his left.
Eyes narrowed, he watched as the man looked them over and then glanced at the car behind them. Disappointment tugged at his face when he saw that the Volvo was out of commission and House swallowed indiscreetly, hoping against hope that it wasn't going to piss the guy off enough to fly off the handle.
The eyes jerked back to them again, squinting in determination. House felt his heart jump into his throat when the man suddenly lunged forward.
"Give me that," he snapped. "Take it off."
It wasn't until he felt himself being pushed aside that he realized the guy was trying to get at Wilson and white-hot panic crashed over him. Then nothing made sense. The man was screaming and he was shouting and his hand was shoving back against Wilson in a frenzy trying to barricade him further behind his body while pushing his chest forward against the man.
"Don't touch him," he snarled. "Don't you fucking touch him!"
"Get back!" the man yelled. "Get the hell back, I'll kill you-"
House could feel himself practically squishing Wilson with his back but he didn't care, he didn't care because he couldn't tell where the knife was. He knew for certain that the man was about to stab and fuck he couldn't tell where the knife was moving.
"House! House, don't!"
Wilson was yelling behind him, trying to push his way out around him. House just planted his arm even more firmly onto the hood to brace his stance and keep him blocked, the warning expression he had aimed at the man before them never faltering. It was going to hurt like a bitch when this guy stabbed him but he could go straight to hell if he thought House was going to let him get to Wilson. Right straight to hell.
"No, no, please-" Wilson's voice was shaking slightly and House could hear him fumbling with his hands. He couldn't risk looking back, his deadly stare still burned equal with the man's face. "Here, look-you can have it, you can have it. Please, let me just-"
There was the sound of a small snap and then a flash flew past House's periphery as Wilson's watch landed near their discarded wallets. He heard it when Wilson swallowed but felt him staying completely still against his back.
The sudden crinkle of a beer can being tossed onto the gravel broke in from a distance abruptly, followed closely by the sound of rowdy laughter and talking from a few people coming out of the bar. The man jumped, his face becoming anxious, and House tensed against Wilson defensively again.
The knife was brandished toward them once more but the man wasted no time scooping up the wallets and watch. Then he was making a mad dash past them, his feet crunching the gravel as he hightailed toward the back of the garage and disappearing so quickly that House felt the air swishing with the movement.
The pair of them stood where they were for several seconds, stunned and still trying to process what had just occurred. After a minute Wilson's breathing become short, winded gasps and he swallowed over and over as the shock fully registered.
House felt the residual disbelief and panic wash through him again and suddenly couldn't take it. He stalked away from Wilson quickly enough to feel the physical sensation of absence and let each howl from his leg fuel his igniting fury.
God damn that asshole!
Growling with rage, he slammed his fists into the passenger door over and over.
All of our money, all of our cards, everything. Everything! God Damn him, threatening us…threatening Wilson, God damn him!
He snarled in breaths. His hands were shaking.
Wilson's watch… The fury spread suddenly again, his vision becoming almost black. His dad gave him that, he loves that watch.
He grabbed the door frame with both hands and heaved up and down. He wished it was that sorry fucker's body between his palms instead.
"Damn it!" he yelled out in rage. He gave the door another mighty shake, wanting to rip it from its hinges. "DAMN IT!"
His chest throbbed and he leaned against the car, forced to catch his breath.
This shouldn't have happened. They shouldn't have come to this fucking bar, he shouldn't have directed them towards Wilson's car first, shouldn't have let himself get distracted and make them into targets.
Damn it. This shouldn't have happened.
House tipped his head, inhaling and exhaling several times while his heart slowed down automatically. When he looked up, he was a little startled to see Wilson near the edge of car closest to him. He hadn't heard him move. Then again, he hadn't really heard anything during his outburst except angry ringing in his ears.
House exhaled again and shook his head to get himself back together. Then he got a closer look. Wilson was swallowing, his throat constricting and Adams apple bobbing repeatedly. House could see now that his fingers were trembling from where his hands lay stiffly by his sides.
His eyes closed, shame slamming into his gut like a boulder.
He never admitted feeling fear. He expressed all of his feelings through anger and bitterness, it was just his way. Sometimes he still couldn't seal off the panic and it made his lashing out especially colorful, like in this case. The incident had shaken him. There was no denying it.
He hadn't considered Wilson at all. He had been scared too, of course he had. And then he'd had to watch House go postal.
Smart move there, dumb ass. He just experienced his life being threatened and then you turn into the Incredible Hulk. That's really a good thing to witness after having the shit scared out of him.
His insides twisted painfully as he made his way toward him slowly. Wilson didn't move, didn't raise his head when he stepped up next to him and House winced sympathetically.
"Wilson," he said softly.
He gently laid his palm across Wilson's temple but received no response for a long, painful moment. Then Wilson slowly raised his head to reveal brown eyes wobbling with held-in tears and House lost his breath at the stark horror he saw there.
"Come here," he breathed, pulling the younger man against him. "Come here."
He had Wilson in a tight hug before he thought about it. His stomach was swirling. For a few moments all he could do was breathe, inhaling into Wilson's hair and pressing his hands deeply into the warm back.
He had been thinking about their money. God, he felt sick. That guy could have stabbed Wilson in the blink of an eye and taken him away forever. He could have lost the most precious part of his entire existence mere minutes ago-
And he had been thinking about their money.
Feeling Wilson trembling against him only made him feel worse. House swallowed and then dropped his head down to hook over Wilson's shoulder possessively.
"It's alright," he said against Wilson's ear. He lifted his lips and pressed them to the temple, breathing warmly against it. "We're both safe. That's all that counts." He pressed his forehead against Wilson's. "Nothing else matters, nothing else in the world."
Wilson nodded shakily, his eyes closed. House reached down and took one of his hands. He squeezed warmly, feeling it trembling.
"Here, come on," he said, tugging encouragingly.
Keeping Wilson's hand firmly in his, he began leading them around toward the passenger side of the car. One step had his leg shooting fiery shards of agony deep into his nerves and he couldn't hold back the wince. He opened up the door and pulled Wilson by his side.
"Sit down," he said while pushing the other man gently downward. "Hand me my cane by your feet."
Wilson leaned forward immediately to retrieve it. House planted it down and took the weight from his leg the moment the cane was in his hand. He had to breathe for a moment to beat the pain back under control before he could concentrate.
"Alright," he said. He reached out and brushed Wilson's cheek. "This is what we're going to do. I'm going to call back inside and have someone come out here to give us a ride over to my car. There's no way my leg's going to let me make the walk-"
House gave Wilson a crooked affectionate smile. "There's also no way I'm going to let you out of my sight right now, either." He stroked Wilson's cheek with his thumb and was pleased to see a small smile in return. "We'll come back for your car tomorrow, have someone meet us out here to take a look and see what might be wrong with it." He paused and added lightly, "During the day."
Wilson nodded quickly in agreement. House gently nudged at him until he shifted to slide over into the driver's seat and then sank down in relief into the warm spot Wilson left. He let his leg settle down gratefully while he dug around in his jeans pocket for his phone.
Wilson closed his eyes, sinking his chin to his chest as listened to House speak on the phone, and let his hand fall to the gear shift.
House reached over without pausing from his sentence. He wrapped his hand around Wilson's and squeezed his fingers.
He kept their joined hands rested between them and Wilson didn't let go.