A/N: There it is, chapter number two. This one is mostly happening in poor Wilson's head, but bare with me, I just need to get him to where he's going and then the fun will begin.
Wilson woke up and immediately regretted it. His head was pounding, there was a truly horrible taste in his mouth and his entire body felt as if someone jumped up and down on it. Repeatedly.
Did he really get that drunk last night? He remembered a few drinks at the hotel bar, but nothing that would explain feeling like a stomped-on cockroach in the morning.
He felt brave enough to open one eye a tiny fraction and to his surprise all he saw was darkness. That was even stranger. He went to bed late and slightly tipsy, he shouldn't have woken up before the wake-up call he'd ordered for eight thirty in the morning. The curtains were open and the sun was up long before that even in November.
His surprise seemed to wake him up more fully and he begun to register other things, which he missed it those first, confused minutes.
First of all, he was laying on something hard and rather cold. Second of all, he could hear cars outside, but the sound was coming from above, as if he were in some kind of a basement. And finally, there was a smell, pervasive and unpleasant, but hard to identify. He took a deep breath. Hmm. Wet concrete. Rust. Old newspapers. Rats.
Wilson's mind skidded to a halt. Since when did concrete have a smell? Since when did he know what rats smelled like?!
"What the hell is going on here!" he yelled, jumping to his feet.
The fact that there were four of them, combined with an angry feline yowl that came from his mouth instead of words, made him fall promptly on his face.
Wilson was never one to deny reality, when it was staring him right in a face. Oh, he'd been tempted, many times. Usually after someone mentioned Gregory House and his latest mind-boggling insanity, to which the first reaction of any sane mind was invariably "You've got to be kidding me." After which came the chilling realization that once again no kidding was involved and the facts, hard as it may be, had to be faced. James Wilson had a lot of practice with accepting the seemingly impossible reality.
What he didn't have practice with was finding himself in a situation that required said accepting as a result of something he had done himself. That was new. For one moment he wondered whether he should be proud of himself, or worried out of his apparently slipping mind. Then he got a grip on himself.
Right. Face the facts. Accept the reality.
"I'm a cat," said Wilson. It might have made him feel better, if only it hadn't sounded so much like "Meow"...
Well, there was nothing for it. He fervently hoped that someone or something would change him back into his proper form any minute now, but since the dark basement room remained stubbornly empty, Wilson decided to do something.
"First things first," he muttered to himself and jumped a little when a soft, rumbling purr emanated from his throat. It sent a tingling sensation through his entire body, which would probably be quite pleasant, if only it didn't startle him like that. Wilson shook himself, decided that investigating purring was not a priority and did what he intended to do in the first place – attempted to stand up.
Attempted being the operative word. After several unsuccessful tries he felt slightly bruised and so frustrated that his tail was brushing the concrete floor with rhythmical, angry twitches. It turned out that four legs, some of them with knees bending the wrong way, were much harder to coordinate than just two.
"I can't sit here like this forever!" he yelled. He sounded almost exactly like Lincoln, his aunt's cat, did, just before he scratched Wilson's brother so badly that he still had tiny scars on his arm twenty years later.
He tried again, not very hopeful he'd succeed. His mind wandered back to that day with his family, when Danny was still a kid, healthy and happy. It took him few seconds to notice that he was actually walking towards door, barely visible in the dark. It surprised him so much that he stumbled and was about to fall again, but then his tail moved there and there and he regained his balance.
It seemed that the cat in him knew what it was doing, as long as he wasn't complicating things by over-thinking something as simple as walking. A tiny voice in his head, sounding very much like House, laughed at him mockingly. Wilson wisely decided to ignore it.
Since he was able to move around (as long as he didn't try too hard), he decided it was high time he got out of this dump and into the (relatively) fresh air. He sniffed and decided that the corridor on the left smelled more like the outside. That was almost as strange as having a tail, but he followed his nose. In order to keep it from getting in a way of walking, he focused his brain on remembering last night and searching for anything that might somehow explain this insanity.
He remembered disjointed fragments of a really bizarre dream, involving the pale stranger from the hotel bar, an Egyptian goddess with cat's head and, for some reason, a janitor who had a carved pumpkin where his head should be. It seemed important somehow, which didn't make any sense.
Nothing does this morning, so I might just as well try to remember, thought Wilson and focused on his confused and fading memories.
The stranger. He was in the middle of all this mess, that one thing was clear. In Wilson's dream he seemed more real that he was in that hotel bar. Who could be more real in a dream than in the waking world? What did the man say? Why couldn't he remember?
If he could swear, he would – colorfully enough to make even House proud. This was supposed to stop him from panicking, not make him even more anxious.
Suddenly he heard a rustling sound and his head whipped to the right, all his muscles tensing. Something moved in the dark, getting closer, and finally he saw it. And froze. Any other day a rat would not scare him at all, but then, any other day it wouldn't be half his size.
Wilson realized that while he was a cat, and as such a natural predator and hunter, he was a rather small cal.
Swallowing his panic he jumped back and sprinted in a direction of the exit (or at least so he hoped) as fast as he could, which, fortunately, was quite fast indeed.
Twenty seconds later he was crouching at the top of the stairs to the basement, with his heart pounding so fast that if he were still human, it would probably explode. He peered cautiously into a brightly lit hallway. It seemed to be a rather run-down residential building, with dirty floor tiles and once-white walls. In the distance he could see a young woman, impossibly tall. She took some letters from her mailbox, locked it and started walking towards the stairs. Towards Wilson.
He jumped back, almost falling down the top step. He didn't suspect the woman would want to hurt him in any way, but the cat's instinct worked before any conscious decision could be made. I'll have to watch out for that, thought Wilson, imagining other cat-things he might find himself doing without meaning to, most of them involving other cats in one way or another.
The woman walked up the stairs, her steps thundering impossibly loud above Wilson's head. He glanced behind him, suddenly remembering the monster rat he had run away from before, but fortunately he was alone.
He heard another set of footsteps a minute later, this time coming down. He tensed, preparing himself for a dash towards the door. A teenage boy came into view. Wilson silently followed him, trying to plaster himself to the wall and become as small as possible. Then the door was open and he sprang forward, past the boy, who let out a startled yelp, down the flight of stone steps, wet with freezing rain, across the sidewalk and finally into the relative, and extremely smelly, safety under a parked car. Wilson took a deep breath of relief and almost gagged when the choking odor of metal, motor oil, exhaust and old trash hit him.
Doing his very best to ignore the stench, he crawled cautiously to the other side of the car. He looked out from under it and gasped. He was staring at the very familiar door of House's apartment building.