It is fall when it finally happens.

Late fall, the leaves already brown and falling slowly to a cold ground. The ambulance crushes them, leaves them a soggy mess on black concrete.

Wilson sits beside House, holding a thin hand. He hears the rain crash upon the window; thin droplets are running down, creating pools on the window sill. It always rains when he loses people he loves.

They have a few minutes, perhaps even an hour if they’re lucky, before House will slip into a coma that he won’t wake up from. Wilson hears every breath he takes, feels every second passing.

After surviving the infarction, getting shot, sticking a knife into the electrical socket, and about a million other stupid things House has managed to do during his life—dying from acute liver failure seems awfully common, so low-key and so totally unlike House, even though they all saw it coming after years of Vicodin overuse.

Tears course down Wilson’s cheeks and he doesn’t bother wiping them away, or try to hide them. For once, he wants to hear House mock him for being such a girl, for crying useless tears. House has mocked him through their years together – it’s his way of showing affection, his way of sharing himself. Wilson knows the ins and outs of House’s brain, although he doubts he’ll ever understand the man completely. It’s Wilson’s mystery, the one he can never quite solve, but will always be happy to try his hand at.

They’ve had years. Over a decade of friendship, and then another of being together. It has been the two of them against the world, fighting their way through life and somehow always ending up in each other’s arms in the end. House’s arms have been strong and warm around him, the kisses sometimes angrily passionate and sometimes chastely loving, their days sometimes uneventful but rarely dull.

There are dark shadows beneath House’s sunken in eyes. He has lost weight and looks like more like a skeleton than a man, and when Wilson first pointed out how skinny he was, weeks ago, House told him that he wouldn’t need to get such a big casket if just the skeleton remained.

Wilson hadn’t thought it funny then, and he doesn’t find it funny now.

He wonders what life will be like without House. He has tried to think about it before, but it has always hurt too much, and he’s locked the door to those thoughts. Now he imagines, though it stabs at his heart, waking up in the morning and not having House look back at him, eyes filled with energy and mischievousness, and even love sometimes, when House lets it show. A morning without it—it will be the most excruciating pain, and it makes the tears fall quicker down his cheeks.

“You’re thinking to much,” House whispers to him.

His voice is rough and rumbling, as though it takes all of his energy to say just those few words.

“Hard not to,” Wilson says, closing his eyes. His nose is stuffy after all the crying.

“Won’t help,” House says.

Life is running away from him even as Wilson watches. He can see it seep out, leaving House’s clear blue eyes, and the only thing that remains is a thin, frail shell of the man Wilson loves. Frail – it’s never been a word anyone could associate with House. A part of Wilson wants to leave, because he doesn’t want to remember this. He doesn’t want to have the image of House dying burnt into his mind. He’s seen more people die than most, but nothing can prepare him for the ache in his heart. But he doesn’t leave, he can’t leave, he won’t leave. He will sit there until all hope is lost and then—

“I want to die with you,” Wilson says quietly.

“Stupid,” House says, glancing at Wilson, and there’s fondness in his eyes. “Got things left to live for.”

Wilson doesn’t know what. He’s got his job, but it’s not like he’s irreplaceable – and that’s about it, because his mother is dead and he hasn’t seen his father or brother in two years, since her funeral, and he has no friends, because the only person he wants to hang out with is House. When he thinks about it like this, it dawns on him that House is the only thing he has – and he is slipping away.

He’s a doctor – getting his hands on medication he could overdose on wouldn’t be a problem. Really, he doesn’t need a prescription drug.

“Wilson,” House says, looking at him intently through tired eyes. “Don’t.”

House sees the wish in Wilson’s eyes, the wish for Wilson to stay alive.

Wilson gives a small nod, new tears tracing down his cheeks.

He pretends his fingers aren’t crossed behind his back.

Everybody lies.

They sit in silence. They are both waiting, and they both know that nothing they could possibly say will make anything any better. There are a million things he wants to tell House, but none make it past his lips.

Wilson has seen enough cancer patients fight for their lives, and he’s seen far more than enough of them lose that fight. He’s seen the waiting, but he hasn’t felt the longing before – the longing for just a minute longer, an hour more, a few more precious moments. As they are slipping away, each second becomes more important, and regrets bubble up within him. Why didn’t they get together sooner? Why did they fight so much? Why did they not quit their jobs to spend more time with each other, when they had the financial means?

The questions pour through his brain, escaping him in the form of sobs, and he leans his forehead against House’s hand.

He feels House’s shaking fingers thread slowly through his hair. House has loved playing with Wilson’s hair ever since they first became a couple. It has always calmed them both, this intimate gesture, and it calms Wilson even now, as House slowly dies in front of him.

He lifts his head to meet House’s eyes, because he knows each moment gone is a moment lost.

House speaks before Wilson has time to sort through his own thoughts to form a coherent sentence.

“I don’t regret anything.”

He squeezes Wilson’s hand. It is very weak, but Wilson feels it like an electrical shock through his system – House’s last movements. Wilson can see the last of House’s energy trickling out, and he keeps his gaze steadily on House’s as House’s eyelids fall slowly shut.

Wilson knows they won’t open again.

“I don’t either,” he whispers hoarsely through tears.

The rain keeps pouring down.

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