Disclaimer: I don't own them. *sniff*
Beta: The wonderfully talented rslworks!
A/N: Spoilers for 1.14 "Control" and 1.18 "Babies & Bathwater".
Wilson moaned as he became aware of an intense throbbing in his head.
"He's coming around."
"I'll make the call."
The proximity of two unfamiliar, cold voices jarred him fully awake. When Wilson opened his eyes, he immediately prayed he was still dreaming. He was seated in one of his own dining room chairs, his chest, arms, and legs securely lashed in place with layer upon layer of duct tape. His mouth was stuffed with what he suspected was one of his dishtowels, which had absorbed his saliva so that his throat and lips were painfully dry. He attempted to yell for help, but the makeshift gag was incredibly efficient, muffling his voice so that no sound escaped. Before he could examine his situation further, a cell phone was placed on the table in front of him.
"Doctor Wilson," a deep, familiar voice beckoned from the speaker. "So nice to speak to you again. I'd love to be there with you but I'm currently tied up…" Mocking laughter rang out from the phone. "…at a conference in Sacramento."
Wilson wracked his brain, trying to figure out why the man on the phone sounded so familiar.
"Normally I'm not one to condone the use of violence, but current economic times have made me a little more open minded."
The arrogant, polished voice stirred myriad feelings in Wilson's mind. Protectiveness, anger, vulnerability, triumph… Who the hell was this guy?
"You see, my father always taught me to turn the other cheek but, like several of his lessons, I discovered that one was pretty much useless. Revenge… that's the way to go. And believe me, Doctor Wilson, I want revenge so very badly for being pushed out of my position as chairman of the board at PPTH."
A deep sigh rumbled out of Vogler before he spoke again, and when he did he didn't bother sounding cool and collected. "I was so angry that I took my money and threw it at the first investment I found, without even bothering to do a background check on its owners. After a few good returns I started to put more and more money into it. Four years later, I find out it was a major Ponzi scheme and I'm completely ruined!"
The sheer anger and hatred in Vogler's voice caused a chill to race down Wilson's spine.
"I want my revenge on Cuddy and House and there's only one thing they have in common… you, which is great because I can kill two birds with one oncologist, so to speak. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my conference. Oh, and Doctor Wilson…" If possible, Vogler's voice turned even more menacing. "I've gone to the trouble of securing an alibi for tonight but if you tell anyone that I was behind this… Well, these two men would love some alone time with Cuddy and House."
As the line went dead, one of the two men pocketed it as the other moved closer to Wilson, who frantically shook his head.
"We're not going to kill you," the man with the phone assured him.
"But you may wish we had," the other man sneered as he pulled a knife from his pocket and reached for Wilson's left wrist, holding it in place as he cut the tape loose.
Wilson could only watch in horror as his freed hand was slammed palm down on the table, his fingers roughly splayed apart and held in place. The second man stood on Wilson's right side, dangling a large hammer in his face.
"What's that thing you doctors like to say?" he jeered. "Oh yeah, this might sting a little." He laughed cruelly as he lifted the hammer high in the air and brought it down on Wilson's vulnerable hand.
The sickening crunch and ensuing pain were too much for Wilson's frayed nerves to bear, and he mercifully slipped into darkness as the hammer poised for another strike.
Wilson's second return to consciousness was worse than the first. His head still throbbed but now his hands…
"My hands," he moaned.
Wilson flinched at the voice so close to his ear. Terrified he was about to be hurt again, he weakly struggled against his bonds.
"It's okay, Wilson." This time the familiar voice was accompanied by a warm, comforting hand coming to rest on his shoulder. "Try to keep still."
"H-House?" He rolled his head to the side, not daring to open his eyes until he knew for sure.
"I'm right here," his friend assured him. "Whoever did this is gone."
Wilson dragged his eyes open and found himself staring into a pair of fierce, blue eyes. "Safe?"
"You're safe now, Wilson. Even if they were stupid enough to come back, they'd have to get through me first," House growled protectively. "Besides, the police are on the way. Ambulance, too."
Wilson nodded, glancing down and discovering that he was still bound to his dining chair. "Why?"
"Ever since I got here, you've been half-delirious with pain. I was afraid if I cut you loose, you might fall out of the chair and do more damage to your hands."
At the mention of his damaged appendages, Wilson lifted his head to get a better look but House quickly seized his chin and turned his head away from the table. Brown eyes glistened with unshed tears. "Bad?"
House glanced away, suddenly unable to meet Wilson's vulnerable gaze. He swallowed deeply and when he spoke, his voice was hoarse with emotion. "They, uh… They look pretty bad."
"How bad?" Wilson tearfully pled.
"I don't know," House quietly confessed, wincing as Wilson let out a heartrending sob. House lifted his head and pressed his forehead against his friend's, lightly tracing his thumbs over Wilson's cheekbones. "What I do know is that we're going to find you the best specialists in the whole damn world. I'll do everything in my power to help you get through this, Wilson. I swear."
Wilson nodded, knowing his friend would stay true to his word, but he still couldn't hold back the tears that ran down his cheeks. He wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around House and take shelter in his embrace, but knew that doing so could result in more damage to his mangled hands. Fortunately, House seemed to be a mind reader, tucking Wilson's head in the crook of his neck and tightly wrapping his arms around the trembling man's shoulders.
"I've got you," he crooned to his injured friend. House clung to him, continuing the litany of comforting words long after Wilson slipped back into unconsciousness.
The third time Wilson regained consciousness, he was relieved to find that his situation had greatly improved. He was lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by beeping monitors and soft snoring. He carefully turned his head to the right and smiled softly when he discovered House sleeping in a recliner nearby, his hand snaking through the bedrails where it rested on Wilson's upper arm. A different sounding snore drew his attention to his left side, and his smile grew as he discovered a mirror image of the one on his right, only this time it was Cuddy who was asleep with her hand on his shoulder.
His spirits bolstered by the presence of his friends, Wilson decided to sneak a peek at his hands. He carefully lifted his head and glanced down, frowning at the pair of matching casts.
"About time you woke up," House groused, his voice gravelly with sleep.
Wilson let his head drop onto the pillow and closed his eyes. "How bad is it?"
"You want to hear it from the orthopaedist or me?"
"I want to hear it now," Wilson barked, raising his voice loud enough to wake Cuddy.
"You're awake!" she stated with delight. "How do you feel?"
"Frustrated!" Wilson growled. "I want someone to tell me what's going on with my hands!"
"Calm down," House commanded when the heart monitor screeched a warning tone. "Getting yourself worked up isn't going to help."
Wilson closed his eyes and breathed deeply until the monitor went back to its steady, annoying, beeping rhythm. "Better?"
"Much," House approved.
"So my hands…?"
House began speaking, relaying the severity of his injuries and how the surgeons had repaired as much as they could but there was going to be permanent damage. House's voice faded away until all Wilson could hear were his own despondent thoughts, echoing loudly in his head.
No more surgeries. No more biopsies. No more shaking hands with potential donors. No more career.
No more driving. No more cooking. No more stealing the remote from House. No more… life.
Wilson couldn't take it any more and raised his hands to cover his ears, only to be reminded of his new handicap when the hard plaster casts painfully bumped into his temples. In his delicate emotional state, the new type of pain was a welcome distraction and he hit himself again and again.
Eventually his arms were wrenched away from his head and pressed onto the bed at his sides. He bucked against the people holding him down, only vaguely aware of Cuddy calling for a set of restraints and House demanding 2 ml of Ativan.
As he slipped into darkness, Wilson prayed that he wouldn't wake up again.
"How's he doing?"
House looked up from Wilson's pale face and nodded to Lucas. "He hasn't freaked out again."
"So that means he's better, right?"
House shrugged. "He's still depressed."
"Well yeah," Lucas nodded. "I would be too if someone screwed up my hands like that."
When Wilson groaned and shifted, House gestured at the door. "Let's take this outside."
Lucas obeyed, but not before he caught a glimpse of House tenderly smoothing a strand of hair from Wilson's forehead. He allowed himself to smile slightly at the action, before slipping his poker face back on. "What's up?" he asked when House joined him in the hallway.
"I know who was behind this attack."
"How? I thought Wilson was refusing to talk."
House studied the floor, his cheeks flushing in shame. "He had a nightmare last night. I was about to wake him up, but he started talking and I heard a name – Vogler."
"Never heard of him."
"He came to this hospital about five years ago and demanded to be chairman of the board."
"He brought with him a donation of one hundred million dollars."
"Oh. Less ballsy, then."
"He wanted to get rid of me, but Wilson stood up for me and ruined his plan, so he sacked Wilson."
"And yet he still works here, so…"
"Seeing what he did to Wilson must have stirred something in Cuddy because she got the board to stand up to Vogler and send him packing."
Lucas nodded. "And men with money don't like to be told what to do. But why would he go after Wilson? Sounds like he hated you."
"He does hate me, and Cuddy, too, since she was the main reason the board stood up to him. What better way to get your revenge on a hospital's dean of medicine than to go after her charming star oncologist?"
"Makes sense," Lucas agreed. "But why now?"
"I read that he lost most of his fortune in a Ponzi scheme earlier this year. Maybe being financially ruined pushed him over the edge?"
"Could be," Lucas mused thoughtfully. He looked at House with a questioning gaze. "Why are you telling me all this?"
"Vogler was at a conference when Wilson was attacked. The police have no usable evidence from our condo to even start looking for Wilson's assailants, which means no way to prove Vogler hired anyone."
"So you want me to…"
House held up a hand. "Ostensibly I'm hiring you to look for evidence the police missed. But while you do that, I want you to keep in mind that Vogler hurt Wilson in order to hurt me and Cuddy. That aside from the condo incident, Wilson has never done anything to hurt Cuddy. You even said it yourself, she considers him a friend."
"And you fit into this how?"
"Vogler hurt my best friend," House snarled. "Wilson's life has already been irrevocably changed by his physical injuries. I'll be damned if I watch him crumble emotionally out of fear that Vogler may come after him again."
"Yeah, okay," Lucas nodded. "Well, I've got to get going now. Got an early flight in the morning. Tell Wilson I hope he feels better."
House watched Lucas disappear down the corridor, confident that Vogler would finally get what was coming to him.
Wilson's cry jolted House from his restless slumber. He quickly reached out and shook his friend's shoulder. "Wilson! Wake up!"
The oncologist's eyelids shot open, his brown eyes anxiously darting back and forth as he lifted his head.
"You're okay," House said as he rubbed gentle circles on Wilson's shoulder. "You were dreaming."
"Dreaming," Wilson panted as he shakily nodded. "Right. Just a dream." He sagged back against his pillow and groaned. "I want this to stop."
"I know you do." House sat back down in his recliner, but left his hand resting on his friend's shoulder. He glanced down at the newspaper on the floor next to him. "I know who did this."
Wilson jerked his head toward House, his eyes as wide as saucers. "Y-you can't."
"You mentioned a name during one of your nightmares."
Wilson pushed himself to a sitting position, reaching out and lightly thumping his cast against House's arm. "You can't tell," he plaintively begged. "He said he'd hurt you and Cuddy if I told."
"I'm not going to tell anyone," House promised him. "But… Well, there's a headline in the paper you might want to see." When Wilson nodded, House lifted the newspaper from the floor and held it up for him to read.
"'Former Billionaire Loses Fortune, Commits Suicide.' H-he's really dead?"
"As a doornail," House promised. "He can't hurt you anymore."
"We're all safe," Wilson sighed, sinking back onto the bed.
"Which means we can all move on with our lives."
Wilson looked down at his casted hands. "Yeah, move on. Right."
"Hey!" House threw the newspaper on the floor and roughly grabbed Wilson's chin, forcing him to meet his gaze. "I wanted to give up after the infarction screwed my leg up, but if I recall correctly Doctor Glass-Is-Half-Full wouldn't let me. Something about overcoming adversity and adapting to change. Sound familiar?"
"But both of my hands…"
"They're not amputated, you idiot! Yes, your fine motor skills are probably a thing of the past. So what?"
"How the hell am I supposed to do my job?"
"The same way as before. So you won't perform surgeries or biopsies anymore," House shrugged. "Big freakin' deal. You can still hold your patients' charts and x-rays; still consult for me and my team. And I really doubt you've lost your magical, manipulative abilities."
Wilson allowed a small smile to cross his face. "I guess you're right."
"I'm always right."
Wilson snorted, which prompted House to stick out his tongue. He laughed at his friend's twisted expression, which encouraged House to pull another face – a cycle that was repeated until both men were shedding tears of laughter.
Later, as Wilson drifted off into his first peaceful slumber since the attack, House found his gaze drawn to the paper on the floor. The headline about Vogler stared him in the face, prompting a satisfied smile.
Lucas was going to get one hell of a bonus when he got back from Sacramento.