Warnings: House/Wilson established relationship.Passing mention of one sexual act but not in graphic detail. House/Wilson established relationship.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. *sniff*
Beta: The totally awesome rslworks!
A/N: Written for sickwilson_fest on LJ.
"Why are we doing this again?"
Wilson rolled his eyes as he focused on his task. "Because you said I could have anything I wanted for our anniversary."
"That sounds so unlike me."
He smirked without looking at his friend. "I had you in a rather… compromising position."
"Ah yes, the devious Doctor Wilson taking advantage of a cripple. I do remember that now."
"Is said cripple complaining?"
"Said cripple wants to know why you wanted this for your anniversary."
Wilson grinned triumphantly, holding up a successfully tied fishing lure. He shifted his gaze to House who seemed less than impressed with his feat. "You, me, a tent on a private lake… I thought you could do the math on that one."
"I'd rather it be you, me, and a five star hotel." House scowled from his camping chair as he swatted at a mosquito. "What's wrong with a little room service and an adult channel?"
The oncologist shook his head as he prepared to cast his line into the serene blue water before him. "Camping in the woods is supposed to be romantic."
"Some people think pee is romantic. Are you holding back on golden showers until next year?"
Wilson glared in irritation at his lover. "Remember the second part of our anniversary gift? The part where you promised not to complain?"
"That definitely doesn't sound like me."
"I meant it when I said compromising position, House."
"Fine," the older man growled as he swatted another insect. "Can I spend part of this fantasy of yours in the tent? These little flying vampires are almost as annoying as you."
"Why didn't you use the repellent I gave you?" Wilson barked.
"I did, idiot. I told you not to buy the cheap stuff."
"It's working fine for me."
"I guess that means that I'm just so sweet they can't stay away."
"Yeah, I'm sure that's the reason. Look, if you're going to sit there and be miserable I'd rather you just go inside the tent. I'll let you know when I've caught dinner."
"Right," House snorted as he limped away grumpily, leaving the younger man alone with his rod and reel and an inviting expanse of water. Wilson made sure that his friend was out of sight before pulling back his rod and executing a perfect cast. He smiled and let out a small sigh of relief. He'd been good at this a long time ago, but he wasn't sure if casting was like riding a bike and he hadn't wanted to give House yet another thing with which to belittle him.
He reeled his line in, careful to keep the motion smooth and steady as he felt for any tell-tale tugs. Soon the lure was shining at him from the edge of the bank, sans fish. Wilson wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead as he surveyed the water, calculating the best location to try next. It was a warm afternoon so he knew the fish were either out in the deeper water or up along the banks, sheltering from the sun in the shade of long grass and dense shrubbery. Ideally he would have liked to be doing this in the wee hours of the morning when the fish were more active, but House had vetoed leaving their apartment the night before, loudly insisting he had agreed to two days in the woods, not two nights.
A ripple drew Wilson's attention to a patch of water about ten yards away, completely shadowed by an expansive blackberry bush. Maybe he would be cooking fish after all, instead of settling for the pork and beans House had packed as a backup plan. Wilson carefully drew back his wrist, quickly snapping it forward and watching as the lure sailed through the air… landing in the blackberry bush. He growled and tightened his line, experimentally tugging on it to see if he could jar the lure loose. After several futile tries, Wilson wearily trudged to the offending bush.
He was greeted by a nightmare. His lure was sitting low in the middle of the bush, surrounded by several thorn-covered branches. Wilson knew he should probably cut his line and chalk one up to Mother Nature, but the lure held so much meaning for him that common sense quickly took a back seat. He sucked in a deep breath and carefully stuck his hand through a small gap in the wall of thorns, working his way to the ground with agonizing slowness. Despite his best efforts to avoid them, the larger thorns scratched along his arm while some off the smaller ones tore off in his skin. The pain was starting to make his nearly non-existent sense of self-preservation kick in, and he was just about to withdraw his arm when his forefinger brushed across smooth metal. He cautiously closed his fingers around the lure, immediately gasping as the hooks sunk into his hand. As quickly as he could without getting ripped to shreds, Wilson removed his arm from the bush and glared as the object slipped from his hand and landed in a patch grass.
Wilson frowned as he assessed the damage to his aching limb. The scratches were mostly superficial and he was able to remove the handful of thorns that had lodged in his skin without much problem. The back of his hand was covered with the same shallow scratches but a closer look at his palm revealed two significant, oozing puncture wounds and small amount of swelling that seemed to be the source of the painful throbbing. They would need some antibiotic ointment and a bandage, but at least he was current on his tetanus shot.
Deciding that he was finished fishing for the day, he gathered up his lure and rod and headed back to the tent, all along the way trying to come up with a less embarrassing story to explain his injuries to House. Nothing came to him and he spent the last few feet of the trip wondering what was going to make his life worse that night: the constant teasing House was sure to dish out or the after effects of the beans they were going to have for supper.
"No fish?" House smirked as Wilson joined him the wooded area around their tent.
"They weren't biting," he nonchalantly replied as he leaned his rod against a tree.
House was about to lob another insult when he caught sight of Wilson's left arm. "What the hell happened to you?"
"I got my line snagged in a blackberry bush."
"You mean you lost a fight with a blackberry bush," House chuckled as the oncologist dug the first aid kit out of their rented SUV. "I knew you weren't much of a fighter, but still…"
Wilson glared at him as he sat in a camping chair and began pulling items out of the kit. "House, this is supposed to be my anniversary gift. Could you please stop with the mocking and help me with this?"
The diagnostician moved his chair in front of his friend and gently grasped his injured arm. "The scratches are pretty shallow."
"I know, but I'm not worried about those." Wilson turned his hand so House could see the puncture wounds.
"Ouch," he sympathized as he carefully prodded the area. "How the hell did you manage this?"
"The hooks on my lure got me while I was grabbing it."
House nodded as he cleaned the area with an antiseptic wipe, noting that the swelling seemed to be increasing at a fairly rapid rate. "You sure you did this on your hooks?"
"Too deep for thorns," Wilson shrugged. "What else could it be?"
"Are you really that big of a moron?" the other man demanded. "Snakes like to hide in blackberry bushes."
"I didn't see a snake."
"Hence my use of the word 'hide'," House grumbled as he hobbled to the SUV.
"What are you doing?"
He ignored Wilson's inquiry as he rummaged through the glove box. Once he found the item he was looking for, he limped back to his friend and grasped his wrist. "Just in case this is a snakebite," House began as he took his newly acquired pen and drew circles around the puncture wounds. "We'll need to be able to track the swelling."
Wilson swallowed nervously. "You really think… A snake?"
Fear-filled brown eyes fixated on blue ones, silently seeking reassurance. House knew that the more worried Wilson became, the faster his heart would beat, and the faster any potential toxin would spread. "I like to be cautious," he softly soothed. "I'm sure it was just that stupid lure."
"Maybe we should head back into town," the oncologist suggested meekly. "I don't want to seem like a baby, but-"
"You're not being a baby," House cut him off. "I think that's a great idea."
Wilson seemed immensely relieved that his lover hadn't teased him. "Let's get the stuff packed up-"
"No," the other man interrupted again. Taking the tent down and packing was a workout and that was the last thing Wilson needed. "I'll grab our wallets and the first aid kit but everything else can stay. We'll come back for it later."
Wilson reluctantly agreed and started to climb into the driver's seat only to have House order him into the passenger seat with the comment, "I drive faster than you."
"Faster, not better," Wilson snapped ten minutes later as their SUV sat in a deep rut.
"Maybe if you hadn't been nagging me about my speed," House growled back.
Wilson ignored him, closing his eyes and swallowing against the nausea that had been building since they left their camp. The cool hand that landed on his forehead startled him.
His heart warmed at the genuine concern in House's voice. "A little," he admitted.
"You've got a fever," the older man informed him. "You're sweating."
"It is July," the oncologist feebly argued.
"I'm not sweating."
"You're cool under pressure," Wilson commented with a breathy laugh. Suddenly his face creased into a frown, and he frantically clawed at the door handle. "Gonna be sick." The door swung open and he gracelessly flopped to the ground, depositing the contents of his stomach on the side of the dirt road. He was dimly aware of steadying hands latching onto his shoulders and soothing noises being whispered in his ear. Once the paroxysms ceased, strong arms tenderly wrapped around his waist and pulled him into comforting warmth.
"It's okay," he heard House's voice in his ear. "I've got you now. Nice, slow breaths, Wilson."
"It was a snake," he mumbled miserably. "Wasn't it?"
"Don't think about it," his lover commanded. "Just slow your breathing and your heart rate."
"I'm scared." The words were out before he could stop them.
"I know, but it's okay, Jimmy." Lips brushed against his temple. "I promise you'll be okay."
Wilson wearily nodded, the back of his head rubbing against his partner's shoulder. He felt House shifting behind him, followed by three high-pitched tones. In his dazed state, he heard his lover speaking to someone, using the words 'emergency', 'snake', and 'hurry'. After a moment of silence, House swore and angrily tossed the phone away from them.
A hand moved up to his forehead and combed through his hair. "Just calling for help, Jimmy. That's all."
"Mad at me?"
"Never," House whispered fiercely, tightening his arm around his lover's waist. "I'm mad at the rest of the damn world right now."
Wilson knitted his brows and fought against the fog in his brain. "What's new?" he managed breathlessly, wondering how it was possible to feel as exhausted as he did and still be alive.
"Squeeze my hand."
Wilson jolted awake – when had he gone to sleep? – he wondered, and tried to obey. He could feel House's hand in his good one and feebly curled his fingers around it.
"Tighter," House barked.
"Can't," the younger man whispered, his eyes growing moist.
"Yes you can," the diagnostician growled as he practically crushed the hand in his. "Try harder!"
"You should be sorry about this," House spat, his voice full of fear. "Why'd you stick your hand in that damn bush?"
"Had to get my lure."
"We could have bought you another one."
"Not the same." Wilson was too tired to argue and hoped House would let it go.
"What's so damn special about that one?"
The injured man ignored him, turning his head so that he could press his cheek against the comforting warmth of his lover's chest.
"Wilson." The voice was softer now, almost pleading. "Tell me. Please."
A tear escaped Wilson's eye, sliding down his cheek to soak into House's shirt. "Danny gave it to me. The last time we spent time together before…" He knew House could finish the sentence on his own.
"So the anniversary trip… You wanted to see if you could re-live the memory?"
"Not stupid," House disagreed. Wilson felt him rest his cheek on top of his head. "A little naïve, maybe."
Wilson closed his eyes in a desperate attempt to keep a second tear from escaping, but failed. "Is… Am I…" His voice broke and House's arms pulled him impossibly closer. "I don't want to die."
"You're not. Not here. Not in the middle of the damn woods. Not until we're old and cranky and scaring kids off our lawn. Picture it, Jimmy… me and my cane, you and your wheelchair… two old men out to rule the world."
Wilson nodded as tears flowed freely down his face. "S-sounds nice."
"It will be nice," House insisted. "Because it is going to happen, you got me?"
His friend's voice seemed to be coming from far away. "House?"
"Right here." The words were barely audible.
"Don't leave," Wilson sorrowfully begged. House spoke again but the words no longer made sense to the injured man. A numbing coldness began spreading through his body, robbing him of the warmth of his lover's embrace. He could sense death hovering above him like a vulture and he knew that there was one last thing he had to say. "I love you, House." As soon as the declaration was out, Wilson's eyes rolled back into his head and he knew no more.
House tapped his cane on the tile floor as he studied the man in the bed before him. Wilson's color had improved in the twenty-four hours that had passed since his ordeal had begun and, except for the bandages covering his left hand and forearm, he looked like he'd just settled down for a nap.
House had been impatiently perched by his bedside the entire time – first in the small hospital in Pennsylvania and now at PPTH. He almost preferred the former because he'd been able to be alone with his lover. As comfortable as the familiar surroundings of PPTH were, the endless stream of well-wishers was starting to grate on his frayed nerves. After all, what good could teddy bears and cards possibly do for an unconscious man?
"I'm getting bored," House suddenly complained to Wilson as he bumped the bed with his cane. "Open your eyes already."
Wilson remained still and House's ire increased.
"You owe me big time, Wilson. For dragging me to the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania and then scaring…" He swallowed the rest of his words and quickly looked down at the floor. "Damn you, I thought you were going to die right there in my arms."
After he'd blacked out, the oncologist's body had begun convulsing and the older man had only been able to tighten his grip and pray that help was almost there. Then his lover had pulled out all the stops and decided to stop breathing, stilling his heart as he did. Their rescuers arrived about thirty seconds before House's own heart and lungs gave out from performing CPR on the most important person in his life. The paramedics had shoved him to the side and he'd been helpless to do anything except watch as they coaxed Wilson into returning to the land of the living. Twenty-four hours, ten vials of antivenin, and two hospitals later, doctors announced that Wilson was in the clear and should be waking up soon.
"You even know what 'soon' means?" House snapped as he raised his head and found himself looking into a pair of weary brown eyes. His anger melted away and he smiled warmly. "About time you decided to wake up."
Wilson nodded and made a rasping noise.
House immediately grabbed for the glass of water he'd prepared for this occasion. He carefully guided the straw between his partner's dry lips. "I'm not a nurse, you know," he groused as Wilson took his sweet time.
The injured man turned his head to indicate he was finished. "Too bad," he spoke, his voice rusty from sleep and disuse. "I had… this fantasy."
House's eyebrows arched in surprise as he stored the information for later. He nodded toward Wilson's left arm. "How's it feeling?"
He glanced at his limb and tentatively wiggled his fingers, immediately squeezing his eyes shut as pain shot up his arm.
"I didn't tell you to move it," House snapped as he leaned closer and grasped Wilson's good hand, massaging gently along his knuckles. "Deep breaths, Jimmy. The pain will go away in a minute."
The oncologist concentrated on the other man's voice until the shooting pains receded to a dull ache. "It was a snake?"
"Yes. The paramedics told me they had an increased population of cottonmouths this year. You seemed to have found a cranky one."
"Lucky me." Wilson looked at his bandaged forearm. "The scratches get infected?"
"You wish. The swelling from the snake bite had gotten so bad that you had to have a fasciotomy to relieve the pressure."
The injured man paled. "Skin grafts?"
"You lucked out," House smiled. "It should heal up on its own."
"What about our stuff?"
"Wilson, you moron, I really wasn't thinking about our stuff. Kind of busy trying to save your life."
The disappointment in his friend's voice was obvious, and House knew Wilson was thinking about the fishing lure Danny had given him. "Get some rest, Jimmy."
"Been resting," he protested as he tried to keep his eyes open.
"Rest some more," House softly urged. "You're going to be fine and I need a shower." To emphasize his point, he sniffed loudly and wrinkled his nose. "I smell like the not-so-great outdoors."
Wilson's only answer was a soft snore.
"Ow!" Wilson shouted in pain.
"Sorry about that."
"When you said you had a surprise for me, I didn't know you meant you were going to try to break my shin."
"I didn't see the table," House stated.
"I'm the one who's blindfolded!"
"Just a few more steps. Oh, watch out…"
"…for the couch."
"That's it," Wilson stated as he raised his right hand. "I'm taking this thing off."
The hand stilled. "Okay?"
"You can see your surprise now."
Wilson cautiously removed the blindfold, wincing in anticipation of something that only House would think was wonderful. As he got a good look at their living room, his face lit up and he stepped forward. "It's… perfect."
House had pitched a tent in the middle of the living room, which was currently being lit by two battery-powered lanterns. He'd also set out two camping chairs in front of the TV with the remote placed in the built-in drink holder.
"Adult film channel," House offered at Wilson's inquiring look.
The oncologist chuckled and stuck his head inside the tent, grinning ear to ear as he discovered an air mattress and a bottle of lube. "Thoughtful," he nodded approvingly. He withdrew his head and a colorful object next to the tent drew his attention.
House hugged him from behind and whispered in his ear, "For my favorite angler."
It was a child's fishing game, with a circle of fish that spun and popped up at random and the player tried to catch them with a small magnet on the end of a tiny plastic rod. Only instead of a magnet…
"House," Wilson breathed as his eyes teared up.
"I knew how much it meant to you so I stuck it in my pocket when we were leaving the camp. On a completely unrelated note, it's not advisable to stick an object with sharp points on it into your pants' pocket."
Wilson turned in his lover's embrace and placed a gentle kiss on House's lips. "This is perfect. You are perfect."
"It's not perfect yet," House whispered as he placed his hand on Wilson's cheek. "I didn't get a chance to say something earlier."
The younger man cocked an eyebrow.
"I love you, too."
With an affectionate grin, Wilson took House's hand and led him into the tent.