House isn't sure what wakes him. The kitchen sink drips a little, makes a steady tap tap tap, but he's slept through it, so he knows that can't be it. His alarm hasn't gone off, and when he rolls over to check, just in case, he sees why. The iridescent red light that penetrates his eyelids, forcing him to sleep with his back to the damn thing, reads 3:15. And now he's up. His mind is alert; drowsiness has let go of him and it pulls back the wispy tendrils of sleep that he fights to reclaim.
House rolls onto his back and gazes at the ceiling. There's nothing of interest to look at, so he closes his eyes and breathes deeply. Maybe he can trick his body.
House is so focused on trying to recapture the slumber that's avoiding him like a bad date that he doesn't hear the slight rustling in the kitchen at first. But then the noise, like the crinkling of wrapping paper, takes precedent over sleep. He sits up, focuses all his energy on listening. Maybe it's just Steve; his mind tries to reassure him, but then there's a shuffling noise and a very human voice cursing quietly.
House is out of his bed instantly; his leg twinges, telling him he will pay later. He crouches, fumbling under the bed as silently as possible when he feels the cool steel of his nine iron. He lifts it like a bat and moves slowly toward the kitchen, using the wall as support. Though this is his domain, his apartment is alien. Shadows stretch across the hall, throwing off the length and dousing it in a threatening blackness; someone could be watching, waiting, and he'd be none the wiser. But House breathes evenly, tries to tell himself he's not scared and keeps moving slowly until he's pressed against the wall perpendicular to the kitchen. He stretches his hand out, feels for the light switch. It's under his fingers and he's about to turn it on when the voice speaks again.
He pauses; he knows this voice.
"Goddamn House. Never keeps anything in here besides peanut butter and beer."
House flicks the light on then, and Wilson stands there, peanut butter in hand, looking like a kid who's been caught with his hand up a skirt.
"God House, are you trying to give me a heart attack?" Wilson's looking at the older man (who's still clutching his golf club) with saucers for eyes.
"In the norms of society, it's usually the person whose house has been broken into that's supposed to express surprise."
"I tried to call, but you wouldn't pick up."
"Whatever. Why are you here?" The question deflates the younger man as soon as it's asked; Wilson's shoulders slump and his gaze moves to the floor.
"I—tried to—my wife. You were right. It's all about sex."
"You told her?"
"No, she told me. After I walked in on them. After he punched me." Sure enough, under the pale light of his dying 40-watt bulb, House sees the faint outline of what will surely be an amalgam of colors in the morning. He moves closer and sees that Wilson's lip is cut open as well. Blood swells in the scratch, but it doesn't flow. His fingers are on Wilson's face before he realizes what he's doing, and then they're gently tracing the injuries. Wilson winces under the light pressure, but keeps his eyes on House.
"Wow." House breathes, letting his hand drop. "He really got you."
"Yeah. Which is when I tried to call you, but you didn't pick up. But you're predictable; I can't believe you actually leave the key under your mat."
"Yeah, yeah yeah. Blankets are in the closet. Couch is yours." House turns away, but is stopped when a hand wraps around his wrist. He snatches it away, but for more than the usual 'no touching' rule.
"God, you're freezing!" He rubs his wrist idly, feeling like he's been wearing a dry ice bracelet.
"I'm sorry; I walked around for awhile before I came here; I didn't have enough gas after to use the heat in my car." Wilson tremors as he says this; his lips are slightly blue. House rolls his eyes and drags him into the bathroom, where he turns on the shower.
"Strip." Wilson tries to work the buttons on his shirt, but his hands shake so hard he can't grip the buttons. House sees this and mutters a few phrases that let Wilson know i exactly /i how he feels, but then pushes Wilson's hands away.
"Just let me." House is surprised when Wilson doesn't argue, when the younger man relaxes under his nimble grip. The skin under House's hands begins to tremble violently; by the time Wilson is naked before him, the man can barely stand up.
"Wilson," he growls. "You so owe me." House resigns himself to bathing Wilson until his temperature rises and undresses quickly.
Wilson tries to focus, but he's so tired. House's voice is so far away; faint. Then hands are on his waist and there's heat. He's pulled back and he sees House's eyes, his hair, his concerned expression. There's a moment where time freezes, and he's staring into House, looking as hard as he can and seeing something that fits with him, that makes him want to stay forever. But then time speeds up and his eyes are closed. He opens them to see the closed eyes of House, and there's warmth on his mouth, warmth and movement. And then he's lowered down and there's something tickling his back. His hands hit shaggy carpet and then his eyes close again.
He never makes it into the shower, but the steam pushes its warmth into him, as does House, who lays beside him after breathing heavy. Their sticky bodies touch, then Wilson's lifted with some struggle and moved into bed with House, who insist that they stay close (to keep Wilson's temperature up, of course).
The pale light of the next morning wakes House, who gets up without bothering to dress. He doesn't see Wilson, but there's a note next to his phone. All it says is 'Remember me.' House frowns, but figures Wilson's just gone to get clothes; he'll see the younger man at work.
His eyes are drawn to the flashing red button on his phone that tells him he's got a message. He knows it's just Wilson, but he wants to hear his voice, even if it's angry at him.
But when he presses the button, it's not Wilson's caramel voice that greets him. It's Cuddy, and he can barely understand he because she's trying not to cry.
"House." She begins, her voice shaking. "Wilson—last night—oh, god. (She clears her throat.) Wilson was walking out of the hospital last night and—oh—he, some kids, they beat him, he gave them his wallet, but by the time they found him it was too—" And then she loses it, gasps into the phone. But a shaking breath is drawn.
"He was DOA. Don't come in today, ok? I'll arrange your cases. I'll call you later, ok?"
House stands there for a moment, then his eyes go back to the note.