AN: I'm calling this a 'side-story', because it's technically possible for it to have happened without changing anything in the actual show. I sensed so much tension (sexual?) between House and Thirteen in this episode ('Last Resort'), so I thought I'd try to explore that. Let me know where you think I could go with this, I'd like to write some additional chapters if you think the idea has potential.

Disclaimer: I do not own 'House' or any of the characters on the show (if I did, Thirteen wouldn't have left *sad face*).

"She takes everything that I take. I don't want anything that cross-reacts."

When he turned around, she was already injecting herself. As she pulled the strip of white elastic from her arm, she began to gasp for breath and fell towards the floor. His stomach lurched, but he knew he couldn't show any signs of excessive concern for her; it would only put them in greater danger.

Thankfully, she avoided obtaining any more injuries by using the table to lower herself onto the carpet. He rushed to her side as calmly as he could and placed his fingers on her neck to feel her pulse. He tried not to register how her skin seemed like silk and the thought that it could lose all its warmth far too soon with everything that was going on around them.

"The martyr's heart is beating dangerously slow," he said to the patient – lunatic – whatever you wanted to call him. "She needs water, now, before her condition gets any worse."

The patient started to panic. "No one's leaving here to get water."

"The bathroom," House retorted, starting to lose his patience, "only has one entry, through this room, and I don't think it'll be too easy for the cripple and the sick girl to climb out the window. If you're that concerned, though, you can have your gun ready to shoot us as soon as you hear our feet on the lid of the toilet."

"You're not shutting the door," the patient informed him as he threw Thirteen's arm around his neck, attempting to lift her up.

"No problem," he grunted as he struggled to keep his balance under her weight. "I'll just close it half-way so you don't have to see her vomiting from the lack of oxygen to her brain." The nurse shot him a look, no doubt confused about his actions and worried he was going to get them all killed. He ignored her and kept limping toward the bathroom, Thirteen stumbling along beside him. The young boy with curly hair shifted the table enough so that the door could be opened and then stepped aside to let them pass.

When they made it through the door, he dropped her as gently as he could onto the tiles and let her rest her head against the wall. He tried to get her to look at him, but her eyes were glassy and refused to focus.

"Thirteen," he kept his voice as soft as possible. "Thirteen, I need you to stay conscious. Keep taking deep breaths and move your arms and legs if you feel yourself slipping away." He stood up and walked back into the office.

"She's lost consciousness, thanks to you," he directed at the patient, "so we're going to be a while." When the crazed man began to protest, House continued: "Unless you'd like us to bring another doctor in – or one of the armed guards. If we ask for extra help, it could be either-or." He took the patient's hostile silence as an agreement and headed back into the bathroom.

Turning on the taps to conceal their voices, he kneeled down in front of his employee and, ignoring the sharp pain in his right leg, lifted his hand to stroke her cheek. Her eyes were closed and it occurred to him that she might have stopped breathing. He moved his hand in front of her face to see whether he could feel any air come out and held his own breath in fear. As he turned his head to see what was happening in the office through the crack in the door, he felt Thirteen's hands take his own and press it to her lips. A wave of relief washed over him and he turned back to her, making himself more comfortable on the cold, hard floor.

"You have some serious explaining to do." He pulled his hand away and tried to instil a menacing tone in his voice, to no avail.

"Is now really the most appropriate time," she replied weakly, "with a gun-wielding psycho in the next room?"

"I'm not letting you back into that situation until your heart rate's returned to normal."

"House, he hasn't gone away just because you've taken me into the bathroom," she paused for a minute to catch her breath. "He's still there, with the gun, and so are all those other people who won't be safe until you solve this case."

"I can't do anything more with this case until I know that you're stable."

"My condition has nothing to do with it," she whispered, intending to sound livid but only managing to make her vulnerability more obvious.

"It has everything to do with it," House whispered back to her, and looking into her dark-rimmed eyes, all he wanted to do was protect her and enable her to live, but he was stuck, terrified that any action he took would make that impossible. He goes back in to diagnose the patient and Thirteen gets force-fed medication that will destroy her; he stays here with her and they both get killed by aforementioned patient. Crazy with anxiety and indecision, he leant forward, slowly closing the gap between him and Thirteen. His lips brushed against hers and she sighed, parting her lips to allow him to deepen the kiss.

After a moment, he pulled back in order to gauge how she was recovering from the drugs and instantly regretted it. The feel of her tongue tangled up with his own had been amazing beyond words and the sudden absence of that sensation made him realise that he would probably never experience it again. He had to admit to himself that he did the right thing, though, as he observed her laboured breathing and the pain shining through her eyes. Little did he know that the greater part of these symptoms were due to the exact same thoughts and feelings that were assailing him.

"Why did you stop?" she asked him weakly, afraid of being heard and of working herself up.

"I'm trying to make a point," he told her. "You're throwing your body around like you couldn't give a crap if you died before tomorrow gets here – "

"Tomorrow never gets here," she replied with cynicism, "and it's hard to care that you're dead once you've already died."

"Exactly." She shot him a look that she didn't have the energy to give. "You deserve to keep experiencing life for as long as you can. The people around you deserve to have you in their lives for as long as they can." The shock in her eyes when she heard him speak these words made his stomach flip and his mind start shouting recriminations at him. What the hell are you trying to achieve here? He had no idea.

"And do you count yourself as one of those people?" she asked him, her voice still soft but filled with bewilderment. This compassion had come out of nowhere and she was scared about where it might lead. She was scared about lots of things.

"I would consider myself responsible if I stood idly by while you sacrificed yourself for no good reason."

"Saving all those people out there isn't a good reason?"

"Not when there are other options. Not when it's simply to eradicate your own fears."

"I'm not scared," she lied.

"Good, because we're going back into Cuddy's office now to cure a maniac and you're going to come out of it alive, whether you like it or not."

"Is that an order?" He couldn't tell whether her lips were spreading in a smile or a grimace. He didn't want to know.

"Yes, sir. Now, let's splash some water on your face so they don't get suspicious." He managed to haul himself up to a standing position by holding onto the towel rack and limped over to the sink, collecting some water in his hands. Thirteen's expression when he actually did throw it into her face made him glad that he had chosen to fight her. He wouldn't let her give up.