Categories > TV > House0 Reviews
Wilson's finally tying up the last strings of his third divorce, and House decides to take him out for a drink. Vicodin tossing, shot glass stacking, and general destruction of property ensues.
Although it seemed contradictory, Wilson had always consumed more alcohol than House did when it came down to it. The exact reasons behind this were unknown. Perhaps it was because House had his Vicodin, whereas Wilson was stuck with the pathetic little tablets known as Advil and Tylenol to ease away his pain. Or maybe this was just another part of James's personality that he kept buried beneath innocent smiles and gentle words, the charming mask of the good, kindly doctor, around everyone except House. Either way, they'd only been here for less than an hour, and Wilson was already showing signs of intoxication - flushed skin, degeneration of mental comprehension, and a marked plummet in motor skills.
House gave a sideways glance from where he sat at the bar. It was actually a fairly decent place, a good several steps above those hole-in-the-walls he used to frequent in college. Not that he would expect Wilson to go anywhere rundown.
"Platform heels," he said. "Nine o'clock. Don't stare too hard at the lime green," he added confidentially, reaching for the glass of scotch the bartender (who resembled an older and plumper version of Foreman) had just placed in front of him. Having observed the inebriated from afar before, House could safely say that drunks were attracted to the bright colour like thank you's from dying patients were attracted to Wilson.
Dark eyebrows drew together as Wilson squinted in concentration. "You never tell me mine or yours. How am I supposed to know where?" He glanced down at his watch in an attempt to recall exactly where nine o'clock was located, then turned in that direction - to no avail.
"They're Swedish twins, how can you not know where?" House downed a healthy portion of his drink, the ice clinking against the glass as he set it back down on the counter. He started to lean back, but stopped just in time when he realized he was on a stool, not a chair. It wasn't a very comfortable stool either, with the seat made out of hard maple wood.
"You never said Swedish or twins, you said platforms." Wilson's tone was accusatory as he pushed the sleeves of his shirt up to his elbows. His tie (navy blue, white stripes, very...bar-hopping attire) was loosened, the collar of his shirt unbuttoned down past his neck. He spun somewhat unsteadily on his seat to face the floor of the bar, where the majority of the patrons were located, eyebrows raising as he finally caught sight of the girls House was talking about. Their long, blonde hair and shapely hourglass figures were slightly out of focus, and a large, overweight man soon blocked his view, but he had no doubt that the two were an eye-catcher.
"Hmm. They are twins." Wilson turned back around. "Thought you were just seeing double." He tapped the rim of his glass for a moment before downing the shot.
"I'd see quadruple if I were looking for that kind of entertainment." House scanned the bar again. "Alligator purse, 7:30 sharp. My 7:30," he said pointedly.
7:30? Wilson shifted. What exactly was 7:30? Was he supposed to look at the seven or the thirty that was really a six?
This was too confusing. He'd just take House's word for it.
"Real alligator?" he asked with entirely genuine curiosity. "It's always difficult to tell for certain, which is why I never quite know why people throw such a fuss over the real thing. I mean, what does alligator do to your social status? Especially when people can't tell."
"Oh, but they can." House motioned his drink in Wilson's direction to emphasize his point. "Or at least, PETA can. The more of that crowd you can get to froth at the mouth, the higher your standing is." The glass in his hand swirled thoughtfully. "Just look at Paris Hilton."
Wilson blinked twice rapidly and leaned closer to House, whispering almost urgently, "She's here?"
"Yup. Right on the big screen." He pointed at the television placed behind the counter, which at this point had switched over to an advertisement for razors.
Wilson frowned. "That's not Paris. She is blond, though." He tilted his head at the advertisement. "Pink razor and shiny legs, twelve o'clock." He downed another shot and glanced over at House. "You should get a pink razor."
"I should get pink earplugs to muffle the sound of your hairdryer every morning." A brief pause. "Don't get any ideas."
"Pink is good on you," Wilson went on, as though he'd never been interrupted. "It's absurd, like everything you stand for." He stopped suddenly, appearing to catch onto something. "You can hear my hairdryer all the way from where you are?"
House rolled his eyes. "A deaf man in Timbuktu could hear it all the way from where he is. What'd you buy, the Dead Waker 5000?"
Wilson regarded his friend with all the seriousness of a terminal cancer patient. "House...I really don't think there's such a thing as a silent hairdryer."
"But there is such a thing as a broken one."
Wilson eyed House suspiciously, taking another drink. "You're not planning on breaking my hairdryer are you? Don't touch my hairdryer." He waved towards the television, which was currently showing a brief clip of a man being taken into custody. "That happens if you touch my hairdryer."
House raised an eyebrow. "I get...extremely bad asthma with a side dish of rash? Gee, never knew anyone could become allergic to you." He squinted at the television, the camera now panning over a man in a hospital bed, and then cutting to an announcer standing outside some generic scenery, what was left of his hair waving in the breeze.
"...and causing undue pain," the reporter finished in that false-dramatic manner that journalists everywhere were required to master. "Doctors advise that senior citizens and children get their flu shots early this year, as the season winds up to be one of the worst in recent history. Back to you, John."
"Hmm...flu bug's real feisty this October, eh?" House glanced off into the distance. Michael...showed symptoms of the flu, didn't he? The only difference was that they were far more critical than your average flu, which commonly meant the flu was a symptom, not the actual diagnosis, or...or that...the flu...was -
Ah, it was too hard to get his thoughts organized at the moment. He'd ponder it later tonight.
House motioned at the screen. "Think I can use the advisory as an excuse to get off clinic duty?"
Wilson lifted a curious eyebrow. "The senior citizen or the child part?"
"Who says I can't be both?" House smirked, tossing back his newly ordered shot of whiskey. "Double the vacation time."
His friend seemed to take a moment to think that over. He nodded, finally. "That is very true. Of course, during your vacations, you seek out cases anyway, even ones that aren't assigned to you. Either that, or you get so completely bored, you invade my home and then make me invade yours." Wilson's expression darkened as he studied the grain of the wooden countertop carefully. "Though I suppose I'm rather...lacking a home at the moment. Again." He threw back another drink as silence descended over them.
"I take it," House began slowly, "Holiday Inn finally got sick of fielding your calls."
Wilson studied his left thumbnail with more interest than would be deemed normal in a healthy human being. His cuticles were going wild again, but he'd lost his cuticle cutters somewhere between House's apartment, Grace's place, and the Fischmanns'. The result was an unseemly mess of ragged edges along his fingertips.
"They never really fielded any calls," he replied, eyes still on the fingers wrapped around his glass. For some reason, he was feeling more sober now. "I just - " Wilson sighed. "I made the call. To my divorce lawyer, I mean. This afternoon." Or had it been morning? Did it even matter? He was fairly certain afternoon was more correct, though. The sun had been out, anyway, an oddly nice day for late October.
"He must've been pleased to hear from a paying client," House said, his voice quiet.
A short, half-laugh from Wilson. "Yeah, well. Date's been set to get everything that's supposed to be signed, signed. I'm probably fortunate there aren't any kids." He ran an index finger along the rim of his shot glass. "The way my marriages keep going, I probably should never have kids." He tossed back more tequila.
Alcohol was truly the chicken soup for the miserable - deep down, everybody knew it did nothing for their ailment, but they consumed it anyway because, well, maybe this time, it just might help.
Wilson gave a slight shake of his head. Damn it, this was absurd, now that he thought about it. For him to be wallowing in self-pity over just a (/three/) broken marriage (/marriages/) when a good percentage of his patients had six months or less to live, but -
But he wasn't at the office right now. He was with House. And around Greg, Wilson never felt the obligation to act in whatever manner he felt he rightly should.
House was looking at him in the way he looked at everybody, like a detective at a crime scene, deep in thought though his features never showed it, eyes flicking from one detail to another. There was no snide remark about James having children, despite the topic being an easy target.
"Guess I'll keep shelling out hotel money until I find another place to stay," Wilson said, breaking the silence at last - only to have another ensue as his current drinking partner simply studied the clear liquid in his glass.
"You know..." House cleared his throat. "I hear there's a 221B Baker Street apartment up for rent." He glanced at his companion out of the corner of his eye. "Nice neighbourhood, great accommodations, one hell of a roommate to split the cost with. Just don't...mind the strange noises from the kitchen at night," he said, muttering the last into his drink.
Wilson gave his empty shot glass a half-hearted spin on the counter. It took a brief moment for his mind to reorganize, then match the address up with the ones he usually frequented, before he finally figured out what House was trying to say.
Apparently, the sensation of being sober was a short and illusive one.
"I may have heard of that place before," he replied slowly, with a nod. "The address sounds familiar, at least, though I'm not quite certain about the great accommodations bit." A slight pause. "Guess there's no hazard of Julie calling around anymore."
"No," House replied, his words point-blank. "There isn't." He caught Wilson's eye in the dim bar light, and for a moment, the other man thought he saw a glimmer of empathy in his friend's weathered gaze.
"I kept your hairdryer around, you know," House continued slowly, studying his drink. "Still a little dented from that accident, the handle's chipped and the cable has some nicks on it, but..." He shrugged, as though dismissing the thought. "You forgot it the day you left."
Of course. The Accident in which House had stolen several of Wilson's property and attempted to perform his newly mastered four-object juggle before discovering that juggling tennis balls was a lot different from juggling a hairdryer, a razor, a comb, and a bottle of shampoo. This discovery was quickly succeeded by an ear-shattering smash.
"I got a new one," Wilson said. "I figured that one was beat up, anyway."
House could practically see the "and" coming. "You're a salvager, though," he said, by way of prodding. "Certain things which hold value to you, you rescue until it can no longer be rescued."
Wilson frowned. "It's a hairdryer."
His friend raised an eyebrow. "Really? The way you looked at me after I dropped it, I almost thought I'd been juggling a newborn."
"Yeah, well." Wilson sighed, voice dropping to just under his breath. "We picked it out together, alright? Julie and I, I mean...I was the only one who ever used it. Probably why she made me take it with me when she kicked me out." He hadn't left it behind on purpose, but he couldn't bring himself to go back for it afterward. That would be too much like admitting to himself that he had a hard time letting things go.
"Next time, should've gotten a golf club. More durable." House paused, eyes softening slightly, as his next words were muffled by the press of lips against his glass. "Just ask Stacy."
His companion started at the mention of the name. "Yes, well." Wilson's gaze shifted over to the vodka. "Next time, I'll be better prepared for when my fourth marriage fails and buy that item instead. If I ever get a fourth."
"Still not satisfied with the masochism?"
"/No/ - I just - it's - " Wilson stopped in an attempt to reorganize his thoughts. "It's just...maybe the more I marry, the better my chances of..." Of what? Avoiding lawyers? Hiding divorce papers? Of not having to escape to House's apartment every other night, of -
"Getting a successful one," he finished finally, the words a dry crackle in his ears. He rested his elbow on the counter. "There are plenty of happily married couples out there," Wilson insisted vehemently. "Who married only /once/."
House glanced over at his companion from beneath lowered eyes, his own glass forgotten on the countertop. The other man had entered that stage of public drunkenness when everything faded to a blur, and the faked triumphs of others magnified the faults of the past into some big, heavy cloud that by the force of sheer idealism, he believed he could overcome. Santa Claus was real, unicorns existed, and yes, miracles did indeed happen. Despite everything in his life that spoke to the contrary, James still clung firmly to the belief that someday, somehow, he would find the perfect marriage to bring him eternal happiness. In that way, his friend was truly a romantic.
"Which either makes me an anomaly," Wilson continued, eyes now dropping to his glass, "or just extremely unlucky."
"Not true." House leaned in closer to highlight the significance of the point he was about to make. "You only think they're happily married. In reality, those people are the most delusional of all." This opinion of his was nothing new, especially to Wilson, but the point of it wasn't so much to reveal one of his brilliant theories as to get James to refocus his energies elsewhere. After all, the best way to cure one's misery was to concentrate on other people's misfortunes.
He indicated two people several feet away, sitting across from each other. "Couple in the corner. Blond hair, polo shirt." He paused momentarily for dramatic effect. "The wife's been sleeping with his best friend."
The only response from Wilson was a dubious look and a skeptical, "Really."
"See, now, what she doesn't know is that hubbie dearest caught on several weeks ago, has been planning this little excursion since Monday, in fact." He motioned with his glass emphatically. "Take her out, get her drunk, play the nice, innocent, sweet-talking guy...then, BAM." A sharp crack of glass on wood resounded loudly even over the din of the bar, as House slammed his drink on the counter. Several heads turned. "Spring the surprise attack," he announced, then shrugged. "I estimate a nuclear meltdown in...oh, about 10 minutes. 20 if she notices his shoes."
Wilson blinked. "What's his shoes got to do with anything?
"Because golden boy there has a little secret of his own." House smirked. "Gucci. Suede. You only wear that if you're gay."
Wilson shook his head in slight disbelief. "And you figured all this out from a pair shoes and the fact that two people are having a nice drink together."
"Elementary, my dear Wilson," House said, putting on a slightly mangled British accent. "Elementary."
There was a moment as Wilson paused to reflect. "It never occurs to you that exceptions might exist to the rules you lay out?"
House squinted into the air. "...Nope. My conjectures are always right. It's the people who have a problem accepting them."
"Or maybe you have trouble accepting the other people," Wilson shot back, then paused. "I mean, the other people's opinions. That you could be wrong." Damn, he wasn't making any sense. He downed a drink instead.
"I'll admit it when I see some irrefutable proof," House replied, apparently understanding Wilson anyway. "Otherwise..." He lifted his glass to his lips. "It's just like a gamble in a game." A sneaky side glance followed his words, blue eyes already gleaming with gleeful competition. "Drinking game, even."
Wilson watched House swallow his tequila. His thoughts were processing a little slower than usual, but the words did take on a familiar ring. "You're challenging me to a drinking game," he stated, finally catching on. He shook his head. "You know, I can drink you under the table any day."
A smirk. "Yeah. If Carmen Elektra were under there, too."
There were a couple of seconds when Wilson actually contemplated checking under the table to see if this really were the case, before he realized they were at a counter. A rather long and shiny one, in fact. He scoffed at House instead. "The only reason you're so confident is because you were too wasted the last time you challenged me to a drinking game to remember what happened afterwards."
"You mean..." House pretended to think. "You mean, when I dragged you home in the back of a beat-up van just east of the Moonlight Lounge strip club?"
Wilson furrowed his brow. "That wasn't the last time. The last time was when I almost had to carry you to the cab, then the cabbie wouldn't let you in because you almost threw up in his car, so I ended up having to drag you to the nearest motel within walking distance." He reconsidered. "Make that carrying distance."
"Cane dragging distance. And if you don't shut up and start picking out cues, I'm going to have to personally - " House snatched up the half-empty bottle of tequila and sloshed it into Wilson's glass. " - see to your demise."
There was an uncharacteristically immature huff from Wilson. "Fine. Since you're so convinced that every marriage is miserable, and misery loves alcohol, then you take a drink every time someone single walks in here."
"Agreed," House said immediately. "And since you're so convinced that true love is all a happy marriage needs, then you take a shot whenever Mr. Perfect Spouse comes wandering in with Ms. I-Just-Got-Laid-'n'-Paid in tow." He raised his glass. "May the most cynical man win."
Wilson toasted him, their glasses clinking briefly. "Deal." He turned along with House to face the entrance. It wasn't long before the door swung open, sending in a blast of cold air, as well as a casually dressed man who looked about in his thirties. Wilson immediately cast a glance at his left hand, trying not to be too obvious.
No ring. He looked at House smugly and waited for the other to take his first shot. Instead...
"He's got a tan line," House said. "Twenty bucks says that ring's in his pocket."
Wilson squinted, ready to point out that House was lying when he, too, spotted the clear line of white. He sighed and took his shot. "Twenty bucks says he'll be too drunk to remember to put it back on in the morning."
House grinned. "Looks like we're even." He'd wonder if Wilson ever had experience in that area before, given boy wonder's propensity for charming pretty young things into illicit affairs, except for the fact that Wilson never actually wore his wedding ring, at least, as far back as House could remember. And maybe this was the reason.
Don't have to explain why you forgot it if you never had it on in the first place.
The door swung open again, this time revealing a businessman with a much younger woman by his side. Her powder blue autumn sweater didn't hide her remarkably ample bosom, though it certainly set off every curve of her tall, buxom figure. A black shopping bag hung in her left hand, along with a white purse.
"Banker, late forties, just returning from a business trip," House announced. "How much you wanna bet that's not his first one-night stand of the evening?"
"Not quite." Wilson nodded in that direction. "Same hair colour, same eyes...and she's got a gift in a bag. No one hands off a gift without taking it out of the bag, so that means it's for him, and no one-night stand brings a gift for her male date." He waited a moment as the door opened again. "And the mother also has gift, which she will probably be presenting to her husband, as well."
"Damn." House grudgingly picked up his glass. "Since when was Maxwell's a family-friendly place?"
"People can surprise you, you know."
House didn't respond, instead peering absently through the now closed door. A few cars zoomed by outside, coloured streaks against the Princeton nightlife, as the soothing hum of city sounds mixed with the chatter of the bar. Across the way, neon signs reflected off of dark window glass, words blending like runny finger paint into some sort of intricate, indecipherable pattern - quite pretty, though about as legible as James's handwriting in the morning. The amber lights swam pleasantly in his vision.
Shaking his head, House fought off the first signs of intoxication and went back to searching the entrance for cues. No way he was going down with only five shots of vodka. A woman in six-inch pumps walked past the door, stumbling once as her heel got caught in the sidewalk crack. Her red purse dropped from her hands. Two seconds later, a man wearing a business suit slipped past her, ignoring the fact that he nearly stepped on her fingers as she bent down to retrieve her bag. His gold ring reflected slightly in the bar's dim light.
Wilson sighed and reached for his drink again.
"Not going to contest that one?"
The other man glanced up, surprised. "What, you think he's pretending to be married?"
"No." House tipped his head in contemplation, eyes narrowing thoughtfully. "Though that would be a neat trick." He picked up his cane to give it an absent twirl, as if to demonstrate just how neat that trick would be, only to jump slightly when it slipped out of his hands and clattered loudly to the floor. Damn. Hand-eye coordination was going as well.
"You're so soulfully devoted," House continued, voice muffled as he leaned down to pick up his cane, "that even the presence of a marital contract won't stand in the way of true love." After a few moments of grappling, he managed to retrieve it without actually having to slide off his seat. "The guy's divorced." House popped up again from underneath the counter and let the cane rest against the side of his stool. "Hasn't yet returned his wedding ring."
Wilson shook his head. "Sometimes, I think you're obsessive compulsive when it comes to relationships. You just have to search out some sort of failure within it."
"No, I'm just nosy. That guy is OCD." House pointed toward a twenty-something man sitting at the other end of the bar. Blond hair, but minus the Chase-like shine. The guy was meticulously stacking his shot glasses into a tall rectangular structure, sort of like a house of cards, if those cards were made of delicate and highly breakable crystal. It was actually fairly impressive. "Shot glass architect looks like he's building himself quite the Eiffel Tower over there..." He trailed off, a sly expression spreading over his features, one that Wilson almost immediately caught and recognized only all too well.
"House, these glasses are not Lego pieces."
"Yeah, but since when were Lego's worth 20 bucks a pop?" A wide rectangular base of glasses was already starting to form in front of him. House took a peek in the original creator's direction, but the guy hadn't noticed yet.
Wilson opened his mouth, then shut it and just poured himself another shot of whiskey. "Why do I even bother?" Good question, considering his friend never listened to what anyone had to say when he got that gleam in his eyes. There were several ways of delaying the inevitable, of course - rationalization, bribery, blackmail - but in the end, when Greg set his mind to something absolutely and irrevocably disastrous in nature, the best solution was to just duck and run. From liability, presumably. Four hospital administrators had learned that the hard way.
"Because hopeless cases - " Wilson's eyes widened slightly as one of the pieces tumbled off the counter. House fumbled a bit, just managing to catch it in time. " - are your specialty." His eyes didn't move once from his task.
The conversation having died off into an uneasy silence, Wilson leaned further against the countertop, gaze on House as the other worked his way through their collection of shot glasses. He looked ridiculously focused, as though he were actually building a real tower, some sort of architectural masterpiece to be put on display for all to see. Stacy had noted to Wilson once, a good several years back, that House could entertain himself with the tiniest things, and this was just one more piece of evidence to that effect. Two, actually, since he seemed to work better under competition.
...Speaking of which, the other guy had noticed finally at this point, and seemed to be taking on the challenge just as seriously as House.
Greg...I think you've found your soul mate.
No longer able to watch the increasingly precarious teeter of glasses, Wilson removed his wallet and dumped out his change. He may not be as ADD as his friend, but there was only so much of inactivity he could take (especially when drunk - no, mildly intoxicated), and his fingers twitched for something else to toy with now that their drinking game had stopped. Wilson separated his pennies from the rest of the coins, pulled aside one of the shot glasses House had collected without damaging the structure, and began tossing them in. The third one made it. The eighth nearly did. The rest clattered loudly and rolled along the countertop like misspent wheels.
A little annoyed at his constant misses, he turned his attention back to House. "If that thing topples over and shatters, I'm not paying or lending you my money."
"And if it stands, I get bragging rights and prove that I'm even cooler." House shot a pointed look at the scattering of copper coins. "Which is more than I can say about your penny shot aim." He carefully placed another glass on top of his creation, which currently stood at about four shot glasses high, with a base of two by two.
Wilson frowned and gave his penny shot one last attempt. It bounced off the other end of the counter.
"This is the first time I've ever seen a shot glass stacking competition," he said, pulling the tumbler he'd been aiming into closer to himself.
"They never held these at your frat house?" House looked bemused. "Must've joined the wrong group."
"By the time anyone commences this type of activity, they're too drunk to make it last for very long before it all topples over. You two, on the other hand, have actually managed to turn it into a legitimate competition."
"Well, then." House started to reach for another glass, but only grasped at empty air. He turned to look. Damn. Out already? He could've sworn Wilson drank a lot more than that. Sliding off his seat, he grabbed his cane.
Wilson looked up, surprised. "Where're you going?"
"Fishing," House replied with a matter-of-fact grin. He struggled for several moments before popping off the cap of his Vicodin and dry swallowing two pills. "Wish me luck," he called back brightly, then tossed the bottle blindly in Wilson's direction as he hobbled off toward his fierce competitor. Wilson fumbled with the object for a few seconds, before he finally managed to stop it from crashing into House's delicate tower.
He sputtered, a little flustered. "Good...luck?" He watched as House approached the other man with that usual arrogant air of his, then decided that whatever was going to occur next wasn't something he wanted to witness. Intoxicated House was bad enough, but intoxicated House with a competitive streak and a lack of diversions? That had impending apocalypse written all over it. Wilson set the Vicodin down beside him and tossed his final penny instead, hearing the satisfying ping of metal on glass.
Except now he was out.
His fingers drummed restlessly on the table. There was the option of moving onto nickels and dimes, maybe a stray quarter or two, but -
The translucent-orange pill bottle suddenly caught his eye. Wilson picked it up and studied it for a bit, then popped the top.
He was picking up the tab, anyway. If anything, House owed him.
Oblivious to the damage being done by Wilson, House approached the man with the Eiffel Tower and leaned against the counter beside him.
"So...date?" he began casually, as though asking about the weather. The guy spun around, confusion etched across his face. "Break-up? A little bit of both? Because that's an awfully big tower for just an ex-girlfriend," House continued thoughtfully. "I'm thinking...divorce. Third stage. You haven't told her yet, but the writing's on the wall and..." He squinted, feigning deep concentration. "It looks like it's permanent."
Blondie stared, seemingly in shock. "I...have no clue what you're talking about, man." He turned away, reaching for another glass.
"Sure you do." House snatched up the object before the guy's fingers could even brush it.
"Do you mind - "
"It's late," House interrupted loudly, "you're drunk, the bar's about to close and you haven't even tried to make a pass at any of the three gorgeous ladies who've gone by your way. Instead, you've been stacking these babies - " He waved the glass in his hand. " - like an OCD on crystal meth."
"Yeah, and you haven't," Blondie shot back.
"Not as much as you." House tossed the shot glass up in the air and caught it, ignoring the fact that he was inches away from knocking over the entire tower. "So I'm wondering...how long before the prenups get signed, hm? A month? Two months?"
The man got up angrily. "I'm calling the bartender."
"A year?" House called after him. "You've gotta give her lawyer some notice, at least."
"/There is no fucking wedding/!" the man snarled, whirling around. The glass in his hand, contents originally intended for House, slipped out of his fingers and flew directly for the tower. An explosive crash followed. Yelps echoed, a few outright screams. The bartender rushed over, furious. All heads turned and kept on staring.
Wilson instantly looked away, shielding his face with his hand. "Oh my God," he said under his breath, horrified. This was wonderful. If House was going to get himself kicked out or otherwise hassled, he would be dragging Wilson right along with him. And considering the number of bars they'd been blacklisted from already, this was definitely, definitely not a good sign.
Feeling an unusual need to explain away his friend's radical behaviour, he turned to the man sitting to his right. "Greg's not always like this. He usually destroys lives more than he does property." He picked up another Vicodin tablet and tossed it. The pill sank to the bottom of the quarter of tequila remaining in the shot glass.
The patron he'd been speaking to finally responded. "That how he got his limp?"
"Nope," came a familiar voice.
Wilson started, glancing up at his friend's abrupt appearance. He wasn't sure how House got away from the mess intact, but it was likely there was a lot of lying and much playing up of his cripple status involved.
"Bear cub," House said, sitting down. "In the woods. Saved a starving child from danger."
Wilson rolled his eyes. "You wish," he muttered, taking a drink. He started to set his glass down, then jumped when he missed and hit it against the edge of the counter instead.
"And I win!" House leaned back in his seat, admiring his handiwork. "Who's ready to hand over the gold star, eh?" He reached for another shot glass, thinking to grace the top of his structure with one final decoration, but ended up picking up his Vicodin bottle instead. Not to worry. There were plenty of newly emptied glasses by Wilson's side (the other had always stolen drinks when he wasn't looking). House set the bottle back down without much thought, then paused. Lifted it again.
It seemed far lighter than before.
He peered inside the rather empty Vicodin bottle, pondering this puzzle, then caught sight of the normally clear amber of tequila sitting on the countertop. It was cloudy. A few small pills at the bottom of the shot glass were still in the process of dissolving.
House poked an incredulous finger at the crime. "My...Vicodin?!" He turned his shocked gaze onto Wilson, who didn't look the least bit guilty. Apparently, the puppy dog eyes had all been used up on Julie.
"I didn't have any more of those...those..." Wilson struggled to find the correct word. "Pennies. I ran out of pennies," he concluded, as though that explained everything. Judging from the amount of tequila (as well as the two light beers at the start) the oncologist had consumed, House suspected that in his friend's mind, it probably did.
Which did not at all help the situation at the moment.
"This," House said, shaking the bottle forcefully in Wilson's face, "was worth several dozen /dollars/." Which his insurance covered, but that was hardly the point. "Not to mention, at least two extra clinic hours from Cuddy." He spilled out the few remaining pills on the counter and began counting them.
Wilson motioned towards the glass he'd been aiming into. "Aren't they still effective dissolved, though?"
"Yeah. And that many together with the nice addition of alcohol also tends to cause opiate comas." He frowned, having lost count while speaking, then quickly started the process again.
"Ten?" he demanded when finished. "You only left me ten? That's forty bucks! You owe me." He made a grab at Wilson's wallet, which was lying on the table with its change pocket still open.
Wilson, sober enough to realize House's intentions the moment the issue of money was brought up, counteracted his alcoholically slowed reflexes by reaching for his wallet before the other finished his sentence.
"I owe you nothing! If anything, you owe me for all the food you've stolen. And will steal in the future."
House snatched at the wallet again, succeeding this time. Wilson sighed in exasperation, but made no move to recover it.
"Hmm..." House began rifling through like a kid with a new jar of candy. "Two twenties, a few receipts, Visa MasterCard..." He blinked, then brought the item up closer to his face, eyebrows raised. "Wow, is that Debbie from accounting or did you just - "
"Hey!" Wilson flushed, grabbing for his wallet.
...And succeeded in only producing a stupendously loud crash, similar to the one just ten minutes ago.
"Oh my /Gawd/!" a girl shrieked.
He froze. Oh. Oh no.
House didn't seem to register the disaster. " - forget to remove the stock photo from the slip?"
"Perhaps we should..." Wilson trailed off as he stumbled slightly, standing up. "...We should discuss this outside." He glanced up at the approaching bartender, who looked decidedly more threatening with every passing minute, and fumbled for his words. "Uh..." Apology, apology, right. They had to get out of here. Wilson quickly pulled out a business card and grabbed a pencil from a nearby waitress, scribbling down House's home address, forgetting that he now lived there, too. His handwriting was slanted and messy and just barely above legible. "Mail the bill here." He grabbed House's arm, dragging him out.
"To a Dr. James H. Wilson," House called back. "Make sure he pays in full for destroying a priceless piece of art." He waved at the shattered shot glasses behind him, nearly taking out a young woman's eye, before following Wilson out the door.
"Lovely job, House," Wilson said the moment the door swung shut behind them.
"Hey, I'm not the one who overreacted to a supposed nude photo." House continued to limp ahead, eyebrows drawn in concentration as he attempted to properly work out his hand-cane coordination. It was dark outside. Probably the reason why he was having so much trouble.
"It wasn't - " Wilson sputtered. "Well, who told you to be so juvenile as to start a stacking contest with fragile shot glasses in the first place?"
"Mm..." House stopped walking for a moment, squinting in deep thought. "The little Devil on my left. He's always whispering naughty things." A rather salacious grin spread across his face.
"You have a miniature version of yourself?" Wilson asked skeptically, ignoring the fact that he was currently standing to House's left.
"Yup, just like in the cartoons." His friend swerved sharply at the corner streetlamp, apparently heading for something that had caught his eye.
Wilson stumbled as he tried to keep up with House's steps. "Wait, where're you going?" He increased his pace as best he could, catching up. "Are you - " He suddenly spotted the exact reason for House's abrupt change in direction. "House, that isn't your bike!"
"Really? Then why's it got a cane holder on it?"
"You're seeing things," Wilson said, without casting a look at whatever House had obviously mistaken for his cane holder. "House, stay away from it before you get us both arrested."
"Not a chance." The other man dug through his keys, nearly dropping them in the process. There was a jingle as he tried to find the right one. "This baby cost me a good eighty thou -"
A shrill wailing effectively cut him off.
"That is not yours." Wilson pulled House back, nearly tripping over his own feet in the process.
"Damn," House said, stumbling along. "I thought I disabled the alarm system."
"Yes, well, let's ponder the peculiarity of that anomaly later in safety." Wilson headed for the curb, where he kept a desperate lookout for a taxi. His car was here, but obviously neither of them could drive home, unless they were planning to show up tomorrow at work as patients in the ICU. Which...given their run-ins at the bar, seemed all too likely even without the help of fast-moving metal objects. Fortunately, only a few minutes passed before he managed to flag a taxi down.
Shoving House into the backseat, Wilson clambered quickly in beside him. The cushioned seat creaked beneath their weight. "Baker Street."
"The roadway, not the Gerry Rafferty song," House added with great emphasis, as he slammed his own door shut, seconds before the cabbie sped off.
He could still hear the alarm wailing away in the distance.