Thanks: To nightdog_barks for permission and to jezziejay for speedy beta

He hasn't shared this bed with anyone since Amber, and if he'd had to guess whose body would press into the mattress beside him first… well, he isn't sure, exactly, but it sure as hell wouldn't have been House's. And certainly not that of this House, his hair silvered and close-cropped, his torso thickened by meds and months of inactivity. Wilson supposes, grimly, that it's fitting in a weird way: Amber isn't here because of him, and he is here at least in part because of Amber (and Kutner, and his father, and enough Vicodin to stun a stallion).

House is wide awake.

Wilson knows this because, although the other man has not moved for many minutes, his breathing has thus far failed to slow and deepen. He tries to remember what House sounds like when he sleeps, and realizes that the last time he heard him was when he had crashed on the other man's couch after washing up on his doorstep along with the detritus of his most recent marriage. He had padded barefoot into House's bedroom in the middle of the night, grabbing his cane and carrying it back to the living room for a minor adjustment, then replaced it just as stealthily. So Wilson knows that while House doesn't usually snore, his unconscious exhalations have an uneasy heaviness that is absent now.

Back then he'd been so pissed at House at first, unable to understand why he was being subjected to stolen meals and dirty dishes and the humiliation of soggy pajama bottoms instead of the slightest bit of sympathy. Eventually he'd caught on to the fact that House was just practicing his own twisted version of the Golden Rule, and now he knows enough to go one better, treating his friend the way that House wishes to be treated.

So he hasn't mentioned Mayfield. He provided Indian food and lowbrow television and an uncurious ear, and in the evening he wordlessly slipped two more pillows into clean cases and placed them on House's preferred side of the bed. He knows it isn't enough, though, and it isn't even all he can do. What House needs now is a distraction. Wilson feels himself frowning a little as he ponders the options available to him.

Beside him, House shifts in the bed, but slowly, cautiously. Either the pain is bad enough that he's switched out of his usual mild hypochondriac mode and is struggling to hide it, or he genuinely doesn't want to disturb his bedmate. Wilson would like to think that if it's the second case, it's not just because House fears being exiled to the sofa.

Sounds on the street outside, including a dully thumping bass line, which Wilson tries to drown out by burrowing farther into the pillow. Once the car passes, he hears the rhythm of House's breathing change, and knows instinctively that there are old anxieties being aired, remote connections being made.

"House," he mumbles, and feels the swiftly suppressed jerk of surprise. He fumbles in the dark and pats the rigid shoulder, as if House were a skittish horse.

"Can hear you thinking all the way over here." And then more gently, "Go to sleep." He turns over, hears but refrains from acknowledging the soft "sorry" out of consideration for his friend's currently fragile dignity.

Tomorrow he'll go see Cuddy about getting House's old job back.