Starting Point

Sometimes Amber sleeps with House.

She grows tired of trying to rouse Wilson from the glassy-eyed stare he's been giving to everyone, trying to apologize for something she's not entirely sure she's even to blame for, but feels like she is, anyway.

When she looks into Wilson's eyes, she can see the question there: "Was it worth it?"

Was it worth it to trade his best friend for his girlfriend?

Wilson can barely look at House half the time, and the stress and guilt and pain and resentment all drive him to drown himself in bottles of scotch and Jager and Jack and anything else he can get his hands on.

He rarely shows up to work anymore. Amber quits her job anyway, because she can't quite trust Wilson to take care of House. It's not that he doesn't want to – after all, bringing him home had been Wilson's decision, given that Amber was in surgery and House was in a coma. But Wilson can't cope with the reality, that much is obvious – it makes him lock himself in the room and cry and break into millions of pieces.

The DBS that found the answer – that saved her life – has fried or restarted or they don't even quite know yet, can't quite say yet, we just have to wait and see and hope for the best – House's brain and it's left to Amber to re-teach him how to walk and talk and even remember who they are.

Wilson can't bear to look into House's blue eyes and see the momentary confusion, before a faint, painfully slow whimper of his name.

But at least House remembers Wilson's name. Amber he's only gotten correct a few times – most of the time he calls her Cameron, sometimes Cuddy and once in a while he calls her Stacy. She'd give anything to be Cutthroat Bitch again.

Amber quits her job because before she did, sometimes she'd come home to find Wilson passed out and curled into a ball in the corner and House clutching his leg in pain and confusion because he needs to be reminded to take his Vicodin.

She spends her days working with him, and by six months he's making progress, as slow and painful as extracting an impacted wisdom tooth but progress nonetheless; she begins to teach him games of strategy now. The first time House beats her in pool, she cries, and the tears hurt, like little shards of glass that are falling all over her face. She almost calls Wilson in to show him what she's done, but thinks better of it. He's already gotten angry and told her to just give up and let House be more than once.

She takes care of Wilson, too – sometimes she needs to remind him when to eat and when she doesn't mind getting glared at and yelled at sometimes she tries to take the bottle away, reminds him that he's an oncologist for God's sake and he ought to know what this is doing to him. He'll look at her blankly in response or snap back or just shrug.

Every month a rent check arrives at the address of Amber's landlord, exactly on schedule. Each month the check is signed by Dr. Lisa Cuddy.

Sometimes when Wilson comes in he'll react to the look of fear on House's face, and he'll rail at Amber and accuse her of hurting him, that he has no idea what she might do to him when he's not home. She doesn't have the heart to tell him that he only gives that look when Wilson comes in, when he's hungover and rail-thin and ten years older than he was earlier this year. That somewhere in House he must realize that Wilson hates what House is now, and House must hate what Wilson has become.

When things are particularly bad with Wilson, or particularly bad with House, when the diagnostician – former diagnostician – most needs someone, Amber crawls in his bed and curls her arms around him, whispering and telling him that it'll be okay, that she won't let anything happen to him.

She tries to believe that's so.

Eight months after the DBS, after the bus crash, after things fell apart, Amber goes to the grocery store. When she comes home, she finds Wilson crumpled in a heap, a bottle of pills by his side with the label torn off.

She grabs the phone and as she does she sees House's mouth move slowly, as if in stop-motion, not quite real and she sees the words before she hears them – the only ones that actually meet her ears are "treat with" before she realizes that House is telling her what Wilson took and how to treat it.

She doesn't remember fixing the needle with trembling hands, trying to keep the tears from clouding her line of vision.

Four days later, Wilson is home again.

When Foreman asks Amber to join his team, he's surprised when she agrees. No one has seen her for months.

When she arrives she's got House leaning on her shoulder as she carries his cane – no one says a word as they enter and take a seat next to Foreman. Foreman rises and begins to write on the whiteboard – "Bruising of the chest" he writes, then "trouble swallowing".

"Could be," House begins, and he makes a semi-strangled "a" sound before looking at Amber and reaching out, clutching her hand.

"Achalasia," she finishes.

"Or ch…"

"Chagas disease."

"Run a blood test for Achalasia or Chagas," Foreman tells Thirteen, Kutner, and Taub. He turns to follow them before looking through the glass and seeing Wilson standing there, watching the differential. He watches as the faintest hint of a smile creeps across the oncologist's lips.

"Looks like we got two doctors for the price of one," Thirteen says as they begin walking out the door.

"Three," Kutner corrects quietly. "We got three."