"What happened? You were…" Wilson wanted to say fine, but somehow that didn't seem appropriate. "You were doing okay, and now you are going off the rails again. Pissing off Cameron. Pissing off Cuddy."

"I'm fine," said House as he rummaged through the fridge. "Which side is the beer on again?"

"Left, bottom shelf," he said automatically. What happened outside the store?"

House froze for a second, but then continued with his search. "My cane got broken. That's it."

"Bullshit," spat Wilson, but House didn't rise to the bait. Wilson heard the clinking of the beer bottles as House pulled one out and popped the top.

After a moments silence Wilson practically twirled around in a circle in exasperation. "You are not fine. You have to be a little more… something. You have to help yourself."

House slammed his beer down on the kitchen counter. Beer overflowed from the bottle and started to pool and drip. "I'm fine," he growled.

"Do you want me to send you back to the third floor? Is that what you want?" said Wilson in an unconscious Taxi Driver impersonation. He came round the couch and stuck his face close to House's. "I'll do it," he threatened.


That threw Wilson. He groped for an answer. "I don't want you to get hurt," he said uncertainly.

House said nothing for a moment. Then he nodded and laughed softly to himself. "Great Jimmy. It is good to know that you are there for me. Always watching my back." He threw Wilson's words back at him. "Making sure I don't get hurt. Jimmy Wilson: the great protector."

House abandoned his beer, still foaming over the kitchen counter and pushed past Wilson, either intentionally or unintentionally knocking his shoulder as he made his way to the bedroom.

Wilson just stood there. He closed his eyes and looked into the darkness House saw every single moment of every single day. Fuck it House. It had been one night. One stupid night.

"What aren't you telling me?" said Cuddy.

"About what?"

"You know perfectly well."

"You know what happened."

"No, I know how it happened. I don't know why it happened."

He rubbed the back of his neck. "Let's just say: a lot happened."

A lot can happen in twelve hours.

Twelve hours they left him. Just another stupid drunk. Let him sleep it off. He was overlooked they said. Someone lost the paperwork. Twelve hours of agony while the chemicals burned his sight out of him. Twelve hours before someone realized he was there. Twelve hours before someone realized he wasn't moaning because he was hung over. Twelve hours before someone tried to wash his eyes out.

It did no good. It took four of them to hold him down and he just kept on screaming and screaming.

Twelve hours before they called a doctor. Twelve hours before he hissed between agonized breaths the doctor was a moron and that it was an allergic reaction.

Too long before they got him to a hospital.

And where were you Jimmy boy? Where were you?

You should have been there. Because it was your fault.

And where were you?

Wilson blearily opened his eyes. Where was he? Home… House's couch. Hungover and stinking of vomit. He levered himself painfully up and staggered off to the bathroom. A good thirty minute shower later and he emerged, disgusted with himself, but clean. He knocked softly on the door of House's room and peaked in. Perhaps House remembered. Oh, he was sure House remembered and would give him hell for whatever travesty he had made of himself last night. But House wasn't there. His bed was unmade, but un-slept in.

House must have gone off somewhere. He plodded into the kitchen for some coffee. It was only when he saw Steve squeaking furiously at him in a rat-esque plea for food that he got an uneasy feeling in his gut. House ate bad, drank too much and didn't think Wilson knew about the morphine stash on the top shelf, but no matter what House always fed Steve.

A lot can happen in twelve hours.

In twelve hours you can go from being relatively happy to blind (now there was a word) drunk because your wife was cheating on you. In twelve hours you can blind your best friend.

You were the one who was drunk. He only had one beer because he was only there to look after you. You were the one who started the fight because you were angry. He was the one who came out to look after you and stopped you getting pummeled into next Thursday. You were the one who was dragged away; too incoherent to tell the police it wasn't him. He was the one they thought was holding a weapon. The last thing you saw before you passed out was the back of the taxi. The last thing he saw was the cop with the mace.

"You're angry."

"Of course I'm angry," yelled House as he waved his fists.

"At me?"

That stopped him. "What?" House paused. "No. Not at you." He suddenly realized. "I'm angry at being blind. I'm angry at you for feeling guilty. I'm angry at life in general. You know me. I am always angry."

House pointed to his bad leg. "This was stupidity," he said.

Then he pointed to his eyes. His face had a look on it that practically screamed 'Wilson's an idiot'. "This I would do again in a heartbeat," he said simply as if amazed that Wilson hadn't realised.

Wilson was glad House was blind. He couldn't see the quiet tears in his eyes. It was so simple to House he hadn't even thought it needed explaining: Wilson was Wilson and Wilson was worth it. Now that was some kick ass alliteration.

Breaking the impasse House limped over and tugged on Wilson's tie in a silent question. Another Housism. He never said: he did.

"Quack quack," said Wilson. "It's always been quack quack. I never bought any others."

"You lied to me," said House in amazement.

"I always lie to you. It's great. You can never tell."

House pouted. "Your barstardness, which we will discuss in greater depth later, aside. You really never bought any of those other ties."

Wilson looked thoughtful. "Well, being practical – did I really need to?"

"You conniving cheap bastard."

Wilson smiled and gave a mock bow. "Thank you, I leaned from the master."

"So have you been wearing it all along or were you still wearing the ugly ones?"

"Nope, just Daffy."

"What happened to all the ugly ones?"

"I ditched them."

The look on House's face was priceless. "Do you mean you have been wearing a Daffy Duck tie to board meetings?" he said incredulously.

Wilson involuntarily blushed and in that instant House had his hand on Wilson's cheek.

"You have too," he said with a smile.

"Are we OK?"

"Remember the time I got you really really drunk and I stole your trousers and handcuffed you to a streetlight?"

"Not something you forget very easily. At least you had the courtesy to bail me out."

"And yet – here you are. Still talking to me."

"I presume that was some sort of cryptic, but ultimately revealing metaphor that I am meant to ponder in the early hours of the morning because actually getting a straight answer out of you is like drawing blood from a stone."

"I'd use a more imaginative metaphor than blood from a stone, but you've got it in one Jimmy. Got it in one. You see I'm the deep and complex one the chicks dig. You on the other hand are as deep as a fish bowl."

A lot can happen in twelve hours.

In twelve hours you can go from miserable to sort of content. In twelve hours your best friend can go from wanting punch your lights out to happily falling asleep on the couch.

And where were you Jimmy Boy? Where were you?

Right next to him.