A/N: Still not abandoned! And all messages and reviews are read, I'm just really bad at responding. Life has sucked a lot for the last year, and most of my time is spent dealing with that. But hopefully things will start looking up. At any rate, I can't believe I've been stuck on this one chapter for 6 months. Geez. Glad to finally get this out before the last 4 episodes of House come out...who knows what craziness is about to happen on the show. Hopefully not what the preview implied.
A million thoughts tumbled around in House's head. He would have to call the police, the insurance company. They would want to know what was stolen. Exactly what was stolen? House looked around, trying to take a mental inventory. What should be in the apartment but wasn't? He had brought his acoustic guitar with him to Wilson's condo, but had left the electrics, the resonator guitar, and the banjo. Were they still here? He glanced at the wall where his guitars should have hung and saw nothing but paint. Crap. He should have brought all of his instruments over to Wilson's a long time ago, but –
Wilson. He had better call Wilson to let the younger man know that he would be late getting home. He fumbled for his cell phone as he stalked into the kitchen.
Wilson answered on the first ring. "Where are you?" He sounded irritated.
"I'm at my place," House said, distracted. He opened each cabinet in the kitchen, knowing in one corner of his mind that no thief would make off with his crappy flatware, but needing on the other hand to double check every little detail.
"When are you coming home?" Wilson asked.
"That's why I'm calling." House moved on to his mugs. Yep, all there, safe and sound. "I'm going to be a little late. My apartment was broken into."
"What?" Wilson screeched. House closed the cabinet door and started pulling out the knives from the block.
"My. Apartment. Was. Broken. Into." he repeated slowly.
"Are you okay? When did this happen?"
"I'm fine. Not really sure – could have been any time in the past few months, really. Look, Wilson, I need to get off the phone so I can make some calls. Can we talk about this when I get home?"
House pressed the "Off" button without waiting for a response. He had been telling the truth; he did need to call several entities. But more than that, he just didn't feel like dealing with Wilson on top of everything else.
House checked the last knife, and suddenly felt at a loss. What should he check next? Should he even be touching anything? What if the police dusted for fingerprints? Or would they even do that for such a mundane crime? He really needed to sit down.
He limped out of the kitchen and collapsed onto his couch. Once down, he simply could not muster the energy to get back up. He felt completely overwhelmed. All he could manage was to stare at the empty table that had once held his t.v. He knew he should get up, or at least call the police, but he just kept staring ahead without moving. Why was it that things like this always happened to him? He was tired of dealing with the aftermath of his apparent bad luck. He had to continually find the energy to call a plumber after ripping apart his own shower pipe, or take his car in to the shop every time one of its fifteen year old parts wore down. He simply did not have any more energy to deal with these things.
He was still on the couch when Wilson found him.
"House?" Wilson asked, his voice full of concern. House moved his head slightly to meet Wilson's eyes, and then quickly looked away. He knew that by now he should have called the police and several other entities. He waited for Wilson to berate him for just sitting around instead of cleaning up this mess.
Wilson became even more concerned. From what he could tell, House was in shock. He sat down next to the older man.
"House," he repeated softly. House did not reply. Wilson placed a gentle hand on House's shoulder, not surprised at the resulting flinch. Wilson noticed that House was still gripping his cell phone, and gently took it out of the older man's hand, setting it on the coffee table.
"Sorry," House whispered.
Wilson frowned. "You didn't do anything wrong, House."
House still refused to meet Wilson's gaze.
"Are the police on their way? Do you want me to meet them at the door?" Wilson asked gently.
House shook his head. "Sorry."
"Why do you keep apologizing?" Wilson asked, bewildered.
House looked at Wilson, and Wilson could swear he was about to start crying. "I know I should have called them already...I just..."
Suddenly Wilson realized what was going on. Without even replying to House, Wilson pulled out his cell phone and dialed.
"Hello, I'd like to report a burglary," he began. As he described the situation to the police, he realized that House might mis-interpret his lack of response as annoyance. He grabbed House's hand in an attempt to reassure the man that he was not angry.
House squeezed back and waited for Wilson to finish his call.
Wilson ended up making all of the necessary calls, and the police arrived just as he was finishing up with the insurance company. Wilson did all of the talking, and let House just sit on the couch and watch. Once the police had given them permission to start cleaning, Wilson took charge of that, as well. He covered the hole in the window with some old cardboard, and made House a cup of tea. House raised an eyebrow but said nothing when he tasted it – it was liberally laced with whiskey. Finally, Wilson collapsed on the couch next to House.
"I can't think of anything else that needs to be done right now. Want to go home and come back tomorrow with fresh minds?"
House was slow to respond. "We have to go to work tomorrow."
Wilson shook his head. "I'm calling us both in. We both could use the rest, and one of us needs to wait for the window guy to come."
House looked panicked, as if he could not handle any more tasks. Wilson gently rubbed his arm.
"I'll do that. Let's just get you home right now."
Wilson got up, and House slowly followed. Wilson could not shake the feeling that House was only following orders – who know how long he might have sat on the couch with no intervention? Yes, he was definitely in shock, and the whiskey hadn't seemed to help.
Wilson drove them home. He figured they could always pick up House's car in the morning – if they weren't going to work, they would have plenty of time to work out that and other details.
They entered the condo, and Wilson led House to the older man's bedroom. After House did nothing but stand and look at the floor for about thirty seconds, Wilson began rifling through the dresser drawers to find some pajamas. He pulled out a pair of sleep pants and handed them to House. House took the hint and changed into them.
Wilson tried to hide his shock. This was the first time House had changed in front of him. He wondered if House even realized he had done it. At any rate, the man needed rest, and it was time to go to bed.
"Good night, House," Wilson said softly, as he left for his own room. He changed into his own pajamas and climbed into bed, burrowing under the covers. He had just closed his eyes when he heard uneven footsteps coming into his room. The mattress dipped as House climbed into bed with him. Wilson smiled. He lay still, waiting to see what House would do. House snuggled up against Wilson and wrapped his arms around him, holding on tight. Wilson drifted off to sleep, wondering if House would still be holding him in the morning.
House didn't realize he was holding his breath until he felt Wilson grow limp next to him. Once Wilson was asleep, House relaxed, as well. He had no idea what he would have done tonight without Wilson. The stress of the situation had been more than he could handle, and Wilson had swooped in and dealt with everything for him. Normally that sort of meddling behavior from Wilson annoyed House, but tonight it felt like Wilson was the one person in the world who was there to catch House when he fell – he was the one person who had House's back.
Now, sleeping next to him, House felt safe. It was a feeling he almost never got from other people. All his life, he had worked to make himself feel this way – paid his own bills, bought soft bedding, microwaved his own chicken soup when he was sick. It felt wonderful that another person had made him feel safe tonight. He tightened his arms around Wilson and breathed in the younger man's scent, finally joining him in sleep.
When Wilson awoke, House was still entangled with him. Wilson smiled and brought his own hand up to rest on top of House's. He felt the man beside him shift at this, and froze. He hadn't meant to wake House. A few seconds later, House began snoring, and Wilson relaxed. He wanted to stay in bed and enjoy this moment for as long as possible, because he had doubts as to whether it may ever be repeated.
House had been so vulnerable last night that Wilson probably could have made him do anything. He couldn't remember any other time in which House had been so out of it, with the exception of the few flashbacks he had been witness to. But this was a different kind of emotional state – House had been completely suggestible, and Wilson wasn't even completely sure whether it was over, or whether House would still be that way when he woke up.
He supposed he had to get out of bed fairly soon. They would both need coffee, and the window place he had called last night had scheduled them for ten in the morning. That meant that at least one of them had to be up, showered, and over at House's place before then – and even though Wilson had volunteered to meet the window guy, he frankly did not like the idea of leaving House alone in the condo. Not until he was more certain about the older man's mental state.
Reluctantly, Wilson pushed House's arm aside and slid out of bed. This did wake House, who watched Wilson undress with some interest.
"If you're going somewhere, you're supposed to put clothes on, not take them off," House said quietly. Wilson looked over at him, startled.
"I'm taking a shower," he explained, now down to his underwear. House raised an eyebrow.
"Well in that case, you do have to take those off," he said, gesturing to Wilson's boxer briefs. Wilson blushed.
"I didn't mean to wake you up," he said, changing the subject.
House smiled. "I'm glad you did."
Seeing Wilson turn an even deeper shade of red, House rolled over and averted his eyes.
"I don't hear you getting naked," he encouraged.
Wilson took the hint and stripped all the way, then hightailed it into the bathroom. When House was sure it was safe, he rolled back over and began his morning "get the leg ready to wake up" ritual. After five minutes of massaging his thigh, he hoisted himself up and went searching in the kitchen for coffee.
Ten minutes later, Wilson came into the kitchen looking squeaky clean. House smiled and poured him a mug of coffee. Wilson sat down and took it, smiling at House. House sat too, drinking his own coffee and watching Wilson's wet hair drip onto the table.
"You going to be ready to leave in about half an hour?" Wilson asked. House knew what he was really asking.
"Yeah," he said, pushing his mug away. If he was going to be ready, he would need to take a shower. He got up, leaving the mug on the table. He got all the way to the living room before hesitating and turning around.
"Wilson?" he called. Wilson raised an eyebrow.
House struggled with what to say. "Let's stop for donuts on the way," he finally came up with.
Wilson smiled. He knew what House was really saying.