Wilson understands pain, now. He understands its ability to end time; to erase the future and past and force him to exist only now, focused only on his distressed body. The pain scale, he decides, is useless. There is no quantifying this, this crippling pressure that turns his entire being into a pulse, throbbing, sending fire down his veins where blood should be. So he curls up; brings his knees to his chests and focuses on breathing, on staying alive. The muscles ache as he contracts, a dull, shallow pain that doesn't scratch the surface.

He's shaking; not sure why, but the movements are like pinpricks and he gasps quietly into sheets that smell of his own soap and her, that mix of almost too-heavy for day perfume and shampoo and her own natural scent and so he breathes in, pulls the molecules through his mouth and nose and tastes her, remembers his lips on her forehead, his hands in her hair, then down, exploring the long, lean lines that fit, so well, with him. It's then that he realizes there's a sound coming from him, an animal noise like a growl but lower, a sustained noise carried from his diaphragm. He claps a hand over his mouth but the noise fights through, echoes through the room, rebounds against the pale yellow walls she chose, and hits him again, vibrates through him and begins again.

It's not until he's sitting next to her that he realizes he's fallen asleep. She looks at him through her eyelashes and grins wickedly, presses against him and removes the space between until they're unified, moving together and Wilson thinks of how oddly fitting the situation is. Then he stops thinking, looks into her eyes and they writhe together until he wakes himself up by calling out her name.

When he's able to pry his eyes apart, he says it again, testing it, rolling it across his tongue.

"Amber."

He's not sure what time it is when he hears Cuddy's voice on his answering machine, but the general idea is for him to take some time off; to regroup, to collect himself, and then return to work. He lets his eyes shut and he listens to her deep, soothing voice. She'd be a good mother, he decides, drifting off to find Amber again.

The days run together and he's not sure how long it's been, but his clothes hang loose and his facial hair surpasses House's.

House.

The name comes to him unexpectedly, sneaks up on him and blue eyes and a helpless stare jump into his mind; he's back in the hospital, staring at another helpless body. He's not sure why, but he's mourning House too. He shakes the image away, rolls over to Amber's side of the bed and presses his face into the pillow, abandoning consciousness.

When Cuddy calls again, she sounds worried. She mentions a month; a measure of time now unfamiliar to Wilson. Yesterday was today is tomorrow. There isn't anything but now—doesn't she know that? Wilson shakes his head, reaches for the bureau, his hand returning with the last of her sleeping pills—to stop the thoughts, she had told him. She'd always had trouble sleeping; he'd awoken a few times to her walking quietly around the house.

He remembers the night he woke up to go the bathroom; upon returning he had noticed her absence, went quietly to the living room and saw her there, doing yoga in the moonlight. The pale white of the moon illuminated her hair, cast shadows and made her pale skin glow.

That was the night he whispered his love to her, when she finally fell asleep.

Sometimes, in the dreams, she turns into House. He's laying next to her on that bed, so carefully avoiding the cords of the machines that allow her to live, and she kisses him, tells him it's ok and he believes, for a second, before gasping against her lips. She slumps against him and when he opens his eyes, pulls back, House is in her place, looking up him, welcoming death with a trusting stare. House runs a hand across Wilson's lips, and the machines stop beeping. Wilson collapses into House's body, cries until he can't breathe and realizes hands are stroking his back; Amber is behind him. She asks if this feels better.

The hands carry him from illusion to reality. A finger runs down his arm, tracing a vein lightly. The finger is hard, calloused, and Wilson doesn't need to roll over to see that House lies next to him. Neither say anything, but when House reaches to grip his fingers, Wilson doesn't pull away. His hand is opened, his fingers splayed, the digits curled around the warmth of House's fingers. Together they fall away from the world, let their bodies relax, cease their quickened thoughts.

They wake together, limbs tangled, bodies pressed into one another, desperate for warmth, the need to touch. Wilson allows himself to be led to the bathroom, to be stripped, washed. He fights when House brings him to the mirror, turns away from his reflection. But House grips his wrists, turns him and he's greeted by the ghost of his old self; he's all angles; dark circles surround his eyes. He looks like he could be a cancer patient. Suddenly he's laughing, a great big noise that resonates through him until he's on the floor, gasping for breathe, wetness finding its way down his face, under his chin and down his neck. House is there, though, and arms encircle him until he runs out of energy. Wilson stands; House follows, props him against the sink and carefully lathers shaving cream on his face. With slow strokes, House moves a razor across Wilson's face, unearthing smooth skin beneath rough hair.

They move back to the bed, laying on their respective sides. Wilson breathes deeply, smells his and House's mingles scents and closes his eyes. The bed moves slightly; House sits, gets up to leave, but it stopped by Wilson's command:

"Stay."