Chapter 11, in which Wilson sobers up...

Sunday morning found House making his way over to Wilson's apartment, hoping to find his friend awake and sober. Thanksgiving was on the horizon and his old Marines unit were organising a big get-together as a ten-year anniversary celebration of their return from Afghanistan. His family were invited and he was planning to ask Wilson too. The man needed some cheering up after the sudden death of his wife. That wasn't even approaching the bigger issue; Wilson's arrival in this world as a stranger, his replacement by himself. House couldn't get his head around it; he only hoped Wilson could make more sense of it.

He parked his car and crutched to the elevator, taking it up to the sixth floor of the apartment building. He reached the end of the corridor and knocked sharply, hoping to rouse Wilson even if he was still asleep.

"Go 'way," a hoarse voice called from within.

"It's me," House called.

"Use your damn key."

House sighed and leaned against the doorframe, freeing one hand to rummage for his key in his pockets.

"I don't have it."

A sigh, then footsteps shuffled to the door. House balanced himself just in time before the door swung open, revealing a very dishevelled Wilson. His eyes were bleary and bloodshot, he reeked of alcohol and there was a faint whiff of vomit too. He was wearing a grubby shirt and the same jeans that House had seen him in a week ago, the ones with the sticky beer stain near the crotch. House coughed and went into the apartment to survey the mess. Cans littered the floor, a waste bin near the couch had vomit in it and there were liquor bottle scattered around on various flat surfaces. House sighed.

"Go and take a shower, Wilson, and put on clean clothes if you have any."

Wilson said nothing, just walked to the bathroom, leaving House to clean up the mess. The cans all went in the garbage, the liquor went down the drain, along with all the rest of the alcohol in the kitchen. House also found a small bag of white powder in the kitchen, which he also washed down the drain. He moved the entire vomit-containing bin outside the apartment. He'd throw the whole thing in a dumpster later.

The shower shut off and presently Wilson came back into the living room, looking a little more alive now. He slumped onto the couch and looked at House with mournful eyes.

"This has got to stop, Wilson! You can't just drink the rest of your existence away! And was that cocaine I found in there? Meth? What was it?"

Wilson looked vaguely panicked. "You threw that out?"

"Of course I did!"

"Never mind then."

"Right, you can come over for lunch and dinner today, but after that you are sobering up and looking after yourself again. I can't clean up your mess anymore."

Wilson had the decency to look ashamed. "I'm sorry House, I just… Bonnie just died, I got landed in this crazy fucking place just before that… I can't deal with it." Tears pricked his eyelids.

House relented and sat down next to his friend, putting an arm around his shoulders. Wilson seemed surprised at the contact.

"Okay, maybe I was a little harsh. But you do need to do something. Maybe get counselling for a while to help with losing Bonnie; about the whole switching universes thing, just try and figure out what caused it. Maybe if you find the decision that split the worlds, you can get back."

"I already figured out the decision- I think," Wilson replied mournfully. "It hasn't made the slightest bit of difference."

Curiosity sparked in House's eyes. "What was the decision?"

"Well… in my world, your father wasn't your real father. As far as I know, he abused you because of that, and so you hated him. It affected your life, long term. Whereas here-"

"My father's my real father," House cut in. "So I look up to him, respect him, follow in his footsteps."

"Yeah," Wilson agreed. "You actually become a well-rounded human being."

"So you think it was my mother's decision to what, cheat? Was she married at that point?"

"I think so, but the real decision is earlier still. It's in 1957, when your biological father chose to move from Princeton to Lexington, where you mother was. His friend was Hugh Everett, the guy who wrote the damn theories in the first place. He warned your father, Tom, not to go, but Tom did anyway. Well, in my world he did. Here he stayed in Princeton, never met your mother and your father is your father."

"Wow. How did you figure this out?"

"I dreamt it."

"You dreamt it?" House sounded sceptical.

Wilson shrugged. "I guess alcohol's good for something."

House gave a small laugh. "We'd better get going, Stacy's cooking lunch specially, seeing as I said I'd bring you over. I'll tell her about this stuff later."

"All right," said Wilson and they left the dingy apartment, stepping out into the cold November sunshine.