Cast: House/Wilson, Cuddy, Cameron, Foreman, Chase, Stacy, Mark.
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Greg House. Including his creators. And theirs. (The views of the characters are not necessarily the views of the author).
Summary: A violent relationship, an intervention, a restraining order, and some stalking. Afterwards, is there really any way to make amends?
Warning: Post-domestic abuse situation: will include flashbacks.
It's late. So late that to those who can sleep at nights it qualifies as early. A red dawn is breaking, bloody but brilliant, over a black-and-blue sky. Puffy clouds turn purple. In a half-furnished flat, a telephone screams. The first birds shy up into wakefulness and flee.
There's silence on the line: a long lingering stretch of static. It connects two hearts, beating rapidly, out of sync.
"Who is this?"
The caller ID is blank, bewildering, the number unknown. No. A pause between the flashes: no ID, no ID, no—number unlisted. Like his own. The receiver slips a little in his grasp, skating on the sweat that has broken out on his palm. Impossible. There's no way he could have found it. Not again. He hardens his voice to hide how much it wants to shake. Maybe, if it is—it can't be—but, if it is, if he hears him sound angry, he'll hang up…
"Who is this?"
More silence. A waiting silence. A taunting silence. Deliberate. Even after all this time, he can't attribute the click, click, click of the line to anything other than gruelling consideration. Never mind that the last five calls like this have been an automated dialling centre belonging to the high-tech security systems he uses every time he has to move. It out-sources its marketing department to India and can't seem to translate time zones.
He gulps a mouthful of scotch from the glass on the coffee table, steeling himself. He knows he should disconnect the call, unhook the phone, wait for the police to arrive. In his mind now there is no question: it's him. Instead, he licks lips that have already dried out and speaks:
His heart dips, swoops, soars – and crashes. Flames engulf him, burn him from the inside out, turn his face the colour of the dawn. He wipes his brow with a shivering hand, hot and cold and sick to his stomach.
"You found me."
"Well, you know, I missed you."
Brash and sarcastic that, reverberant with the bitter laugh, trapped inside his ribcage. It dares him. Mocks him. Provokes. Don't rise to it. Don't react. Don't, don't, don't ever step out of line.
"Of course I found you," House drawls. "What? Did you think I wouldn't need to know where you are, every second of every day of the rest of your life?"
The bitterness is on the surface now, sharp and cruel, ground up and spat at him from between clenched teeth.
"Nothing wrong with my head, after all. Not like what's wrong with yours. And your heart."
"You can't talk to me—"
"Like that, you mean? What are you going to do about it?"
"No, I mean, you can't talk to me. The restraining order."
"Oh, that." As if it were a mere trifle. "I had it rescinded."
He sits down, suddenly, on a box he hasn't yet unpacked; it whuffs at the shock of his weight. He's startled by it, more startled to realise that he'd been pacing, circling around and around like a beast in a cage.
"W-why would you do that?"
"Curiosity." The edge of laughter is back, same old smokescreen. But the words are direct. They slam into Wilson, knock all the breath out of him. He welcomes them. Deserves them. "And, yes, I know first-hand what that does to cats – and to Houses.
"But not this time, Jimmy. Not. This. Time. You can't track my call. You don't have my number. I have my answer, though. It's three a.m. and you picked up on the first ring. Not sleeping?"
"No." The phone creaks ominously in his grasp. He uncurls his fingers, one by one, stares in surprise at the bloody mess his nails have made of his palm. "Obviously."
"Good. I think you deserve a little insomnia, don't you?"
"That's it? You were calling to see if I could sleep at night?"
"No, I was calling to see if you wanted to come braid my hair and watch rom-coms."
That goddamn tone of his. The phone trembles, plastic groans, near to breaking.
"Yeah, that's why I was calling, Wilson – you fucking prick. I wanted to know if you could sleep at night after you tried to beat me to death with my own cane."