Title: Who Are You, When You're At Home?

By: lbc

The slender but scruffy figure of Dr. Greg House slumped into one of his large overstuffed chairs. He had been home only a few minutes. His leg was killing him, but since his acknowledgement of his addiction to the painkiller several weeks ago, he had been trying to stop "popping" them without, at least, thinking first.

It had been a very long. They had all been long days, lately, and he couldn't blame it on Cuddy or that Spawn of Satan, Vogler. Perhaps, that wasn't fair, but Greg House, diagnostician extraordinaire wasn't really too worried about being fair. Life wasn't fair either and never had been, and it sure wasn't fair when a person who was friendless lost his only friend.

House wiped his forehead as his nerves tingled and the pain began to seep through his entire body. He told himself to wait a few more minutes. Don't succumb so quickly, after all it had been (looking at his watch) only been three hours since his last fix. The need at that time had been truly necessary he had just had a confrontation with Vogler and then with his nerves still raw, he had argued with Wilson.

No, argue wasn't right. Can you argue with someone if they don't say a word? The look on Wilson's face had ended the argument as he walked away, House had to admit to himself. I sure lost that one.

His unshaven chin dropped to his chest as he pondered the word, need. Need I don't need anybody. Everybody knows I don't even need to see a patient to do a diagnosis. I've spent the last 20 years of my life not needing anyone, and now what have I done I've alienated the only person who . . . really means something to me. God, how stupid can I be?"

House clenched his hand into a fist, fighting the need for the Vicodin. I'm a diagnostician, and I can't even decide if the pain I have now is worse than the pain of three hours ago. House sat there contemplating degrees of pain. Finally, his tired mind admitted what he had truly been fighting Of course, I hurt more now than I did three hours ago, but is it my leg that hurts so much or is it my non-existent heart?

House raised his head, looking around the living room of his condo. The grand piano was like an old friend. He had hauled it to New Jersey when he had accepted the position eight years ago. Wilson had helped him move in that day. He had even followed House to Princeton-Plainsboro when the Oncology position had opened up. I've never really asked him why he did that? God knows he should have been grateful to finally get rid of me.

House looked at his watch once again. It was now five minutes later than his previous check. Why couldn't I just keep my mouth shut? Why can't I just accept that he's married? Why have I been gloating albeit secretly that his marriage seems to be on the rocks? Why can't I just be honest with . . . myself?

It was getting dark outside. Darkness or bright sunshine didn't really make any difference to the world's greatest diagnostician; House laughed at himself. Everybody knows you're a bastard and bad tempered. You don't really think your three ducklings really admire you, do you?

The images of Chase, Cameron, and Foreman appeared in House's mind. The narc, the whiner, and the prig not a pretty picture was it? Why had it been so difficult to comply with Cuddy's edict to fire one of them? None of them meant a hill of beans to him. They were there to learn, to work and . . . do whatever I want, this isn't a popularity contest. But why . . . why is Wilson there? With his credentials, he could be a consultant anywhere in the US? Why?

Looking at his watch, House realized that better than a half hour had passed. He reached into his pocket and found the plastic pill bottle that contained . . . relief . . . relief from the agonizing pain of dead muscle tissue. There were so few left. How humiliating it had been when he had ranted and raved at the pharmacist when he had run out. Popping the Vicodin into his mouth, he felt the relief almost immediately although he admitted to himself that his mind was telling him the pain was less, not his leg.

Looking around the room, he tried to get up to go to the kitchen to fix . . . "something". It wasn't fun anymore to experiment with various cuisines now that Jay wasn't here. Funny, nothing seemed like fun anymore unless Jay was here. The tired face smiled as he remembered the overwhelming feeling of comfort and ease that he'd felt that night they drove the corvette through town.

Suddenly, his tired blue eyes saddened as the memory of James Wilson's hurt came thundering back into his mind. Why couldn't I have just kept my mouth shut? I know I'm a moody, sharp tongued bastard, but why did I have to lash out at Jay?

House's body was telegraphing all sorts of messages to him. His leg was feeling better, but the rest of him was not. He had no use for food; he had no use for booze; music sometimes soothed him, but nothing would do this time. He needed to see Wilson; to talk to him; to . . . apologize, but why would Jay even think of seeing him?

Limping more than usual; his cane was the only thing holding him up. Suddenly, the door buzzer sounded. His mind and body grimaced with the thought of facing anyone. Walking slowly, in hopes that the person wouldn't wait around, the slender figure opened the door. James Wilson, exhausted, angry, hesitant, stood there.