A/N: Postep for season 4 finale.
She isn't Wilson's first experience with death; she isn't even Wilson's first experience with a dead girlfriend, but still, somehow Amber is different.
He can't seem to process it the way he's supposed to. He's counted out his Five Stages, he's raged, he's cried, he's daydreamed and reminisced, he's done everything that is supposed to help him get his feet back under him and keep going.
It hasn't worked, and somehow he is still left feeling a great big hole where a wound is supposed to be. He walks around the apartment and he literally doesn't believe she's gone. He's not quite crazy enough to think he sees or hears her, but some part of him is always sure she's just in the other room, in the shower, asleep. Still around. He knows about phantom limbs... is it possible to have a whole phantom person?
He tries to rationalize it. People die. People die all the time. He sees people die all the time, people he cares about, people he's become close to. This will pass, the way Grace eventually did. It's only worse, he tells himself, because he was there with Amber at the very end, because he had no time to distance himself from her before it actually happened...
Horrible as it sounds, he is now glad that he and Grace separated when they did. He belatedly realizes he ought to have thanked House for coming between them...
But he can hardly even think House's name right now without becoming so angry his head hurts. His face feels hot, pressure builds behind his eyes at the mere mental mention of the name.
Amber would still be here if it weren't for House.
Once or twice he tells himself that that's not fair, but it doesn't help calm him. Eventually, when he can't let the idea rest, he decides he'll have to go give House a piece of his mind. Otherwise this will fester, and along with the (possible) love of his life, he'll have lost his best friend, too. Even though it currently twists his stomach to try and say House and friend in the same sentence, he knows that he will eventually want things to get better, which means they're going to have to clear the air between them.
He calls House but there's no answer.
He drives over, but the place is dark.
Of course, he thinks. House is at work. The whole world didn't come to a standstill just because I did.
He gets to the hospital, but the conference room is abandoned.
He's starting to kind of have a bad feeling now... after all, the last he saw House was in a hospital bed, with a cracked skull, slipping in and out of consciousness...
He tells himself firmly that nothing can be wrong, because someone would have called him.
Except - his stomach heaves. Except his phone's lying in pieces on his kitchen floor, because he couldn't stand either to look at Amber's texts anymore or to delete them.
He breaks into a run.
Cuddy's in her office, pretending to work. She's dressed to kill today, a flowery top with a plunging neckline she'd normally think twice about for a bar, let alone for the office, and a skirt so short her thighs stick to her chair.
She tells herself it's so that in case House is lucid today he'll have something nice to look at, but that's not really it and she knows it. She's bargaining, bargaining with House and whatever higher power exists out there, begging, promising I'll do my part, anything in my power, I'll give you/him whatever, just get better. Let him get better.
It frightens her that things have become so hopeless. And it frightens her how much it matters.
When Wilson comes in she starts crying, which makes him cry, and he demands to know whether House is okay and if so why isn't he allowed to see him.
The reason is because one of the few things House does say, when he's awake for any length of time, is Wilson hates me. Cuddy figures he is probably right, and that hearing it from Wilson himself isn't going to help any.
A week ago everything was fine, and now...
She breaks down again, stammers out half-sentences about how she can't lose him, and then starts apologizing, because Wilson's got his own problems, his own grief to worry about.
House is her responsibility now, her baby, and she has literally worried herself sick about him. Wilson stands there uncertainly, also crying. Finally it occurs to one of them that they should hug. They do.
Wilson stands there for a while before House senses a presence and opens his eyes.
"W-" he stops, clears his throat. It's been a while since he tried to talk. "Wilson. You really here?"
Wilson shifts on his feet. "No, I'm really at a strip joint. This is a hallucination."
"S-seriously?" House blinks. His eyes roll a little as he tries to focus them to look around.
Wilson gulps. "I'm here." He gets there fast, throws himself down in Cuddy's seat by the bed and grabs House's hands. "I'm here. I had no idea-..."
"I'm sorry," House says quietly. It's like he's rehearsed this for a long time and wants to get it right, fast, while he still can. "I'm so sorry, I know-..." he winces, then remembers what comes next. "Amber. I'm sorry, I couldn't-... I tried. If there was anything-"
"You'd have done it. I know. It's okay." At first Wilson is just saying whatever he can to be reassuring, but all of a sudden he remembers what's put House here in the first place. He's not kidding: he would do anything, he did do anything. Wilson squeezes his hand tight. "I know. Now get better, House, okay? You're scaring everyone."
House pulls free, shaking his head. "Screw it... I just wanna sleep. Amber...?"
"Yeah - she died. I held her and... turned it off." He's been told House is giving up and he can see it, but there would be no point begging him to fight. House never hears him when he begs; that's not their way.
He searches for a way to say it without words. He needs to remind him of all the past they have together, to ask for a future... to say all the things that House should know but under the present miserable circumstances is starting to doubt...
"Was she pissed? What did she say?"
And then he knows what to do. He doesn't even feel disloyal about this; Amber was a big proponent of using any means necessary to get the job done and he knows if she were here she'd be urging him on.
He shoulders his grief aside for the moment, and takes House's hand. "She was okay," he says. "I stayed with her, and held her, and she was okay." A deep breath. "And you owe me ten bucks."
He waits to see if House has gotten the message.
"Try the second drawer of my desk," House whispers finally. "And do me a favor: go to my place and feed Steve. Til I get home."
For people not rabid-fan enough to immediately remember the running bet: House gives Wilson 10 every time a patient thanks him for telling them they're dying. And I'd assume Amber would have said thankyou, knowing how hard it was for him to wake her up and tell her in person.
I superduper intend to update Pain Management soon. Sorry I've put it on hold this long, I don't know what's been wrong with me lately.
EDIT: 124 people have read this new chapter so far, and 1 has reviewed. So: props to cryingblacktears, and a great big kick to the collective pants of the rest of you.