Disclaimer: These characters belong to David Shore, FOX, and many others who aren't me. I'm making no money on them and will put them back when I'm done.




It's after midnight across the nation, even at his brother's place in California, two time zones away. Too late to call anyone, as if anyone wants to hear him repeat that life sucks, that he hurts, that he doesn't know what to do now. He's done so many things, and it feels like nothing, and there's no one to tell.

They've all heard it already, and even if they hadn't, he's tired of repeating the same damn words.

The heat of his body makes the sheets feel like an oven; the weight that has settled on his chest, the weight that hasn't left since That Day, pushes harder as he flips onto his back. Wilson breathes, forces the air in, pushes against that intangible, invincible force.

A car alarm is going off, somewhere down the street. Someone -- two someones -- are drunk on the sidewalk, two floors below his window.

" ... at Tom's tomorrow, yeah. What? Fuck, no!" says Drunkard Number One, laughing. "Bitch hates me."

"You're fuckin' ugly," mocks Drunkard Number Two. "I wouldn't fuck you either." Their footsteps and curses trail away down the street, as Wilson wonders whether they know any words other than "fuck." Fucking morons.

It's 3:35, and this night will never end, and the sheets are hot again and the sun is never, ever fucking going to come up.

Wallowing in self-pity isn't nearly as much fun as people think it is. He gets up, forces in another deep breath, and goes to lower the thermostat.

He's been a month away from home, and not a single thing has gotten better. Not one, and there's no one he can call and say that. His cell phone lies silent on the nightstand like a dead thing, a little bird that didn't know about windshields and cars, its wings folded in on itself.

God, he's maudlin. He should get back to sleep, except he keeps trying and it makes each minute take longer. He'd get in his car and just go for a drive, but he'd only feel stupid, out that late for no reason. He'd feel so stupid he might invent a reason, drive west and not stop, head for California as if there were really any gold there -- and destroy this new life, such as it is, before it can ever take hold.



No one at the staff meeting knows that Wilson didn't sleep last night. It's brief; it's polite; there are inspirational posters with mountains and soaring eagles on the beige-colored walls.

He hates the room and he hates the circumspection, the sympathy, in the faces of these strangers.

He's relieved when it's over, as relieved as he can be when all that's left of him is a dry husk wrapped in cotton. It's hard to feel anything at all.

Fortunately for Wilson, his specialty is to work without feeling too much. His patients don't know that their doctor is a dead man.



Drobnik and Winters invite him for cocktails, the kind of after-work chit-chat he loathes, and he goes because he's building a life here and sometimes, laying those foundations means doing crap that you hate. He goes, knowing they asked him out of pity, knowing that they all know he's not only bereaved but friendless in this town, knowing that they will talk about him later: It's so sad; he's so young, isn't he; did you hear he's been divorced three times?

The moment he approaches their group he feels the conversation shift like a tectonic plate. They're changing their landscape to accommodate the ghost at his side. He had thought that people would quit doing that once he left Princeton.

Wilson orders a gin and tonic. Scotch tastes like being on the sofa in a living room he has forever left behind, and one of the people here is his boss and she doesn't need to know that he likes whiskey.

He leaves early, claiming he has files to review, which he does, but he's lying.

If he stays he'll keep drinking, not to dull the pain over Amber but to drown out Drobnik's superior laugh and Winters' endless one-upsmanship and Tania Carver's blatant attempts to soothe him right into her bed.

If he stays, he'll end up drunk; if he gets drunk, he'll say something he shouldn't, something worthy of House.

They let him go when he starts reciting minutiae from the case files that await him. If you can't beat 'em, bore 'em, Wilson thinks, and then he wonders whether House made him this way or whether he came by it honestly.

They were friends for so long that he's really not sure anymore.