Wilson woke up the on top of the covers, still fully dressed including his shoes. For a moment, he had no idea why, until he saw the now crumpled envelope in his hand. And then it all came rushing back to him, engulfing him like a tsunami. Wracked with grief, he started to cry again.
He cried for some time, unaware of time passing. He finally forced himself up and off the bed, and into the shower. He couldn't remember the last time he had showered. He forcibly evaded anything that was a reminder of . . . He couldn't even think her name without his eyes welling with tears.
After showering, he located a sweatshirt and jeans and pulled them on. He cared little about his appearance, not even bothering to comb his hair. That daunting task completed, Wilson wandered into the kitchen and poured a bowl of cereal. He forced it down, knowing he had to keep going, somehow. It was then he noticed the answering machine, flashing an indication of a message. He sighed heavily, and pressed play, terrified it would be her voice he heard. It wasn't. It was Cuddy's. She sounded tired but to the point. "Wilson," she said, "I'm so sorry. If there is anything I can do." Her voice trailed off, and became faint. "He's out of the coma." She paused. "He's not," she started again and then stopped. "I . . .I thought you should know." She disconnected the call. Wilson promptly grabbed the machine and threw it against the wall, smashing it in hundreds of pieces. He barely made it to the bathroom before he vomited up his cereal.
Exhausted and drained by these simple, yet overwhelming tasks, he returned to the bedroom and climbed into bed, pulling the covers up and over his head. He hoped to smell her distinctive scent on them; a reminder. There was nothing but a faint scent of fabric softener. He sobbed again, heavily, until sleep enveloped him.
Weeks passed and Wilson found himself back at the hotel. After the funeral, he was unable stay on at the apartment; too many memories, too many ghosts. Amber had no family left, so her clothes were given to a charity that helped homeless women find employment; her books donated to a local public library. He threw himself into his work, often working late into the night. He had nothing left to go home to.
House had yet to come back to work. From the snippets of conversation he overheard (no one had dared breach the subject with him), he knew House was still recovering from the after affects of the seizure and subsequent coma. Finally after one paperwork-filled night, Wilson pulled House's file. What he discovered astonished him. House was not speaking. He had yet to speak one word to anyone since moments before the seizure. He was also undergoing extensive physical therapy to regain hand-eye coordination. What shocked him the most was the last note in the chart. "Patient still refuses any and all pain medication."
Without realizing how he arrived there, he found himself in Cuddy's office.
"I wondered how long it would take you," she said.
"No pain medication? Nothing?"
"No. He absolutely refuses. He's in agony, I'm sure."
"But, why? I don't understand."
Cuddy sighed. "Wilson." She paused for a moment, checking her emotions. "James, he blames himself. He's punishing himself for what he did. For what he did to you. For not being able to save her."
Wilson stood there for a very long time, unable to speak. Finally, he nodded, and walked out the door of her office.
He drove the familiar roads to House's apartment on autopilot, wondering, yet terrified at what he would find. When he arrived there, he found the apartment dark, with no light emanating from the windows. He knocked, hesitantly. There was no answer. Wilson pulled out his once frequently used key, and let himself in.
House's apartment was clean and orderly and totally out of character, which Wilson noticed once he turned on the light. A light film of dust covered the coffee table and piano. It was then that he heard the sobs. Wilson followed the sound down the hallway to the bedroom. He was taken aback to see the state that House was in. House was in bed, curled up and bent over his mangled right leg. And he was sobbing, deep wracking sobs. Wilson stood there, paralyzed, unaware of his own tears cascading down his face. Finally, he forced himself to cross the threshold.
Seeing House like that, in agony, finally brought Wilson to the realization that he had been punishing House for events that neither of them could have possibly imagined. Wilson remembered one of the last things House had said to him. "I just wanted to find you." He had no idea Amber would come for him, that her fate was to be sealed that evening.
Wilson sank down on the bed next to House, and placed his hand on his shoulder. If House could have jumped in the position he was in, he would have. When House realized who it was sitting with him and comforting him, he began to sob anew. Wilson turned on the small lamp by the bedside. When he finally could see House clearly, he was speechless and overcome with emotion. House's eyes so blue, full of pain and anguish, just stared at him, as if he was unsure he was real.
"House," Wilson started to speak. House reached up and put his fingers over Wilson's lips and shook his head. "Wilson," he whispered. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I failed you."
Wilson pulled House to him and held him tight. They were both weeping now. It took Wilson a few minutes to be able to speak. "You didn't fail me. You nearly died. You did everything you could. It's not your fault." And for the first time, Wilson really believed it.
They stayed like that until the dawn awoke a new day and a fresh start . . . . for both of them.