Dances With Motorbikes
by Topaz Eyes
(Written for the lovely ignipes, and beta'ed by jazzypom.)
It was nearing six forty-five in the evening on a quiet October Tuesday, as House shuffled his way out of the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. At this time of day the usual influx and efflux of patients had slowed to a dribble, so it wasn't too hard to navigate the corridors outside. It had been a very long day--not to mention vexing--and he was leaning on his cane a little more than usual, still shaking his head in exasperation at his ducklings. He was used to dressing down at least one of his junior team members on any given day for willful stupidity; it was a red-letter day when he got to tear down all three for missing their patient's atypical Huntington's chorea diagnosis completely.
Foreman, Cameron and Chase--what a gaggle. Too bad he couldn't just gag them sometimes.
Right now he simply looked forward to hopping on his motorbike, getting home to pop his nightly dose of Vicodin, and crashing on his sofa with a six-pack, take-out curry (for a change) and Doom version three. He'd wondered earlier if Wilson would want to join in the festivities (Wilson was almost as good at Doom as House), but he hadn't been able to track him down before he left. Hell, he'd just spent an extra half-hour doing that, when he could've left at six and been knee-deep in Doom-gore right now.
It had been raining all bloody day (which also did wonders for his leg, yeah right), but that had stopped thankfully (which was good, because House hated weaving between the raindrops on his bike). It wasn't the spray off the slick streets soaking his trousers that he minded; it was the splatter of raining mist on his visor that turned everything to spinning prisms and halos that he didn't appreciate. He got enough of that from the Vicodin and beer chasers thank you very much.
Out of the corner of his eye he noted Wilson standing just outside the sliding doors, constantly glancing at his watch and growing more anxious by the second. The man dressed impeccably at the worst of times; tonight though, his mauve silk tie perfectly complemented his charcoal-grey shirt and tastefully tailored Armani suit. Not a hair was out of place; he was clean-shaven, with no trace of a five o'clock shadow. His shoes were polished and gleaming. He looked like he was ready to dance--
So that was why Wilson was avoiding House today.
Someone couldn't possibly have--a date?
This could be interesting.
Especially since Wilson hadn't bothered to let him in on the exciting news...
That had to be rectified. In the most annoying way possible.
He sidled up to Wilson, as quietly as he could given each step was punctuated by the firm thump of rubber-tipped wood on tile. Wilson, however, seemed not to notice; he was that distracted.
"Dammit! Where is it?" Wilson snapped, exasperated, peering out into the driveway between mist droplets.
"Where's what?" House asked deadpan, standing beside him and leaning heavily on his cane, usual smirk on his face.
"My cab! It's late!" Wilson moaned, and House raised an eyebrow in his "Indeed" expression.
"I've been waiting half an hour already!" Wilson turned towards House, his normally boyish features furrowed in worry. "I have to meet Julie at Montagne's in--" he consulted his watch again. "Oh crap, fifteen minutes. It's a twenty minute drive from here!" Frustrated, Wilson ran his hand through his hair, inadvertently dislodging his perfect coiff.
House shrugged, feigning indifference. "So you're late. You're a doctor, if you haven't figured that out already, so you have any built in excuse you want. You can always claim a patient emergency kept you--"
"We're meeting to talk about maybe getting back together again." Wilson sounded oddly--contrite, and he wouldn't look at House.
House kept his features outwardly schooled to gross nonchalance, but inwardly he flinched. Wilson hadn't bothered telling him that.
Well, there was the reason why he'd been avoiding him.
Everyone lied. That was a given. Wilson didn't lie, really, except to his wives. Wilson was also terrible at secrets. House could read him like the proverbial book and Wilson knew it. Though he sometimes was a master at omission. Which was in itself, essentially, a lie. So it hurt, to know that Wilson indeed could lie to him. Or at least dance around the issue.
Well then. So could House.
Wilson's deep brown eyes met House's clear blue ones, quietly pleading his case. "This is our last chance, Greg."
OK. This had to be a serious attempt at reconciliation, because Wilson never called him by his given name unless it was really, really important.
"I can't be late for this, it'll kill any hope I have--"
Wilson still loved Julie then, at least at some level, and he still wanted to make it work with her.
Yet for some unfathomable reason that stung worse than even the shooting pain in his leg reminding him he was almost due for his evening date with his own Mistress Vicodin. He'd pop two now if he weren't driving, but he had no other way home, what with his own car in storage and Wilson's car in the shop.
House was impressed he was able to keep his mask intact. His gaze shifted from Wilson's face to a point above his head, assuming an amused considering expression, wondering if he were more peeved because of Wilson not telling him why, or because--no, he wasn't going to go there just yet.
But looking at his friend's desperate expression, he couldn't abandon him.
Bros before hos, man.
"I can get you there in five minutes," House offered finally.
Wilson cocked his head at him. "On your motorbike," he said doubtfully.
"What else? You don't even have to pay a fare. One time offer, take it or leave it."
Wilson hesitated. "I don't know, driving with you in your car is hairy most times, the motorbike--"
Yet they were already making their way down to the handicapped stall where House's bike was parked; the click of Wilson's heels and the thump-dub of House's cane-assisted gait seemed magnified by the wet concrete. It was almost comical, how such a relatively small bike hogged all that prime real estate in the parking lot. How ironic that his disability allowed him that; but House wasn't above taking full advantage of it either.
"I'm reckless, Jimmy, I'm not stupid."
"You mean there's a difference?"
House ignored that one. "Offer's dying. Going once, going twice--"
"All right, all right! Seeing as I don't have any other choice if I want to be on time. Unless you have plans on killing us in a fiery blaze of misanthropic glory." They stopped beside the bike, gleaming from the rain and the lone streetlight shining above it.
House grinned and quickly wiped down the damp seat with a towel stashed in the sidebag. "Don't worry. I promise I won't kill you on this thing. Today."
Wilson cocked an amused eyebrow. "Thank you for being so considerate. But you don't even have a second--"
House withdrew a helmet from the sidebag and thrust it out at Wilson.
"You always ride around with two helmets?" Wilson spat in disbelief.
"Just in case I have to rescue damsels in distress." House smirked.
"Really? I thought it was because your head was inflated enough to need two."
"Just put the damn thing on, you're wasting your own valuable time," House growled.
Wilson reluctantly slid the helmet down over his head. But somehow he had difficulty adjusting the straps around his chin, his fingers slipping over the unfamiliar clasp.
House rolled his eyes. "And they call you a cancer surgeon, Jimmy? Are you sure you don't leave all sorts of new orifices in your patients?"
"I'm an oncologist," Wilson retorted.
"You're clumsy. Just how did you get through medical school? No, don't answer that, we all know it was your boyish charm. Oh here, let me," he murmured with his best put-upon tone, reaching down to tighten the sliding strap around Wilson's chin.
Wilson raised his chin for better access and closed his eyes involuntarily, his lips--oh for Chrissake!--pouting just ever so slightly. House rolled his eyes again--yet for an infinitesimal moment, House's breath caught in his throat and his own fingers fumbled a bit. A small part of his brain (a very small part, mind) was considering how easy it would be to sweep his thumb along the clean line of Wilson's jaw, to lean in right now and brush'"so instead he concentrated all his attention on pulling the webbing to just the right tightness under his chin.
"Done," he said, a little more breathlessly than he'd intended, and Wilson smirked slightly, his eyes still closed. He'd meant to do that, the bastard. House swatted him offside the helmet with his hand. Maybe he should have used his cane.
"Let's go slowpoke, your date's a'wasting."
House slammed his own helmet on and fastened the strap in one smooth motion. He snapped his cane into its holder on one side, swung his bad leg over the seat and patted the seat behind him. Wilson bit his lip and sighed as if resigning himself to the inevitable; he clambered on behind him, gingerly resting his hands on House's waist. House revved the engine and they tore out of the handicapped parking spot.
Turning onto the rain-glistening expressway, House could feel the tires hydroplaning in the oily asphalt grooves on the roads. It may have stopped raining but the air was still damp, cold and prickling on his face beneath his visor. It would be winter soon (dammit) and he'd have to put the bike away in storage after the first snow, but until then there was nothing quite like melding with this contraption of metal and rubber beneath his body, moving as one intact unit, no barriers to hold him back (no canes), slicing through the air and wending down slick roads at breakneck speed in all sorts of weather at any time of day or night.
Of course he was reckless. He liked tap dancing on the edge. Pushing himself and everyone else to see just how far they could go until they fell...
Wilson, he knew, most definitely did not like dancing on the edge. Most times that was what held House back. Anyone else was fair game but not Wilson.
Strange, that. This stupid screwed-up friendship they had offered that protection.
Well, except for the motorbike tonight.
Although he'd always wondered why Wilson had actually let him keep the damn thing, especially after he'd found out that was why House had borrowed the money from him.
He gripped hard on the accelerator, roaring down the turnpike at eighty instead of sixty. The alternating lights and shadows on the road blurred to one grey tunnel in his peripheral vision; the vehicles they passed while weaving in and out were simply metal snails. He felt Wilson's grip around his waist tighten in panic and House's grin grew wider. Any wider and he'd become the Cheshire cat and disappear. If he took Wilson with him all the better.
"You all right back there?" House called cheerfully over the howl of wind in his ear.
"Are we there yet?" Wilson replied through gritted teeth, voice almost lost over the wind. House knew Wilson's eyes were squeezed shut. He was probably murmuring a prayer for his very life too.
"Few more minutes!"
As they whizzed up to the next turnoff, for a second he toyed with missing it and taking the long way round to the restaurant, adding a few extra minutes to the trip, but he decided against it. That was being unnecessarily cruel to Wilson.
Canceling Wilson's cab on him was punishment enough.
House took the cloverleaf off the expressway just a little too sharply and with just a little bit too much speed. The bike tipped precipitously on one wheel edge, dipping the bike and the riders at a forty-five degree angle to the road.
"HOUSE!" Wilson screamed, and House felt Wilson press in against his back and hold on for dear life.
"YEAH!!" House shouted, exhilarated, pulling out of the curve and straightening the bike upright again. Who cared about road rash? Off the turn, he gripped even harder on the accelerator and zipped like a shot down the centre of the thankfully empty street, laughing into the wind.
Wilson did not once relax his grip on House until they skidded to a halt in front of the restaurant, sending a spray of oily water up onto the sidewalk. House threw the stand, took off his helmet and leaned on the front handlebars, steadying the bike with his good leg so Wilson could extricate himself and dismount.
"Here you are," House grinned with a flourish. He glanced at his watch. "Door to door service with five minutes to spare."
He watched with a smirk as Wilson stood shakily to take his own helmet off. His fingers trembled badly as he did so, but he managed to do it by himself this time, and he thrust the helmet at House. House quickly packed the helmet away. Noticeably calmer now he was on solid sidewalk again, Wilson looked down at his oil-and-spray spattered dress slacks with a wry twist on his face.
"So much for these pants," he lamented.
"Beggars can't be choosers," House replied amiably. "You needed a ride, I came through, right place, right time. At least you're here in one piece, instead of pining back at the hospital."
Wilson shot House a shrewd look. "And you wouldn't have happened to have planned any of this either, would you? Perhaps by canceling my cab on me?"
"You wound me with that accusation, Jimmy," House gasped, deadpan, mock-clutching his chest.
Wilson regarded House for a few seconds, his face thoughtful in the half-shadow, back-lit by the muted light through the frosted glass windows and looking terribly, terribly young. "I wouldn't blame you if you did," he said softly.
House blinked, face completely slack with astonishment.
"Thanks for the ride, Greg."
Recovering quickly, House did reach out then, to brush a fleck of dirt off Wilson's lapel. "Get going or you will be late, Julie will have your head and my sacrifice would have been for nothing," he said gruffly. He batted Wilson away.
Wilson grinned at him, that special little smile that somehow was always reserved just for House, and turned to enter through the burnished brass doors of the restaurant.
House leaned on the bars, watching Wilson's retreating back, and allowed himself another, faintly wistful grin. They'd been doing this strange dance for years and this was just another step. Two steps forward, one step back. Wilson never knew that it was these rare moments that kept the dance going--these few and far-between reckless moments of closeness that House took any way he could--even if it meant stealing them.
Or perhaps, given Wilson's final remark, he did know. Maybe even appreciated.
Still grinning, House sat back on the bike and put his helmet back on. This had definitely been a forward night. His leg complained again however, so he revved the engine to head home. Yep, he'd be dancing with Mistress Vicodin soon. But instead of Doom he felt like playing the piano now.
Some minuets. Waltzes. Maybe even a couple of slow, shuffling tunes.
Yep, those sounded really good right now.
He turned the bike around and tore off back down the street.
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Legal Disclaimer: The authors published here make no claims on the ownership of Dr. Gregory House and the other fictional residents of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Like the television show House (and quite possibly Dr. Wilson's pocket protector), they are the property of Fox Television, David Shore and undoubtedly other individuals of whom I am only peripherally aware. The fan fiction authors published here receive no monetary benefit from their work and intend no copyright infringement nor slight to the actual owners. We love the characters and we love the show, otherwise we wouldn't be here.