Notes and disclaimer in Part One.

Further A/N: I'm done playing, at least for now, so I'm posting the final chapter. This one's shorter, but brings us right up the pilot. Thanks for all the kind words - House fanfic is fun! Now if only the second season wasn't still still over a month away...

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed.

Greg was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Irony reared it ugly head again and it was getting old. Doomed to follow him for the rest of his life.

Wilson took away some of his Vicodin because of the lung infection and his pill bottle was lower than he or his leg felt comfortable with. But he was no longer taking up space in a hospital room, so he supposed that was an improvement.

Still, it didn't stop him from combing his nearly empty and useless medicine cabinet for any old prescriptions. Ha, he almost laughed at the thought. Like his leg would leave no Vicodin untouched.

House lucked out. He could hardly believe it. Tucked in the very corner was an old pill bottle. He looked at the date. Yep, they were old. They dated back to the very first days of the infarction when he tried to go without the Vicodin. Before he realized that that was probably the stupidest thing he had ever decided to try.

Before Stacy left.

He leaned across the bathroom sink and stared at the bottle. That's when he realized what he was about to do. What the hell was he thinking? He was actually contemplating taking medication that was close to five years old.

He left the bottle and lowered himself onto the toilet, rubbing at his thigh.

Stupid pills. Stupid leg. Stupid pneumonia.

Stupid Stacy.

No, that wasn't right. Or completely fair. Stacy was far from stupid, and although he could never forgive her, couldn't stop blaming her, he couldn't say she was an idiot. She always knew what she was doing. She was a lawyer; it was her job to think about consequences.

He closed his eyes. God, he missed her. Couldn't look at her without seeing guilt or his own stupidity in her eyes, but he still missed her.

Still loved her.

More irony, all wrapped up in a long expired bottle of Vicodin. He pushed himself up and pulled the bottle off its shelf and found his eyes once again staring at the faded label.

Hours later, Wilson stopped by and Greg was sitting at his piano, plucking out a melancholy tune. A glass of scotch sat on top of piano, half-full.

The Vicodin was in the trash, untouched.

Prolonged use or taking dosages greater than prescribed can lead to physical tolerance or physical and emotional dependence. Withdrawl symptoms can occur if Vicodin is discontinued after prolonged use. The longer you wait the more difficult it can be to kick your habit.

Three days later, he felt it. He was back in his office, yet another CV in hand, when he knew he'd done something stupid.

He'd dumped the odd prescription. But then he decided to try cutting down the Vicodin again. He wasn't sure why. Maybe he was trying to prove something to himself. Maybe he was trying to forget. Either way, less Vicodin meant more Scotch.

A trade. One vice for another.

He'd also been avoiding Wilson. He was snappy and unpleasant, even more so than he usually was, and Wilson would notice. Greg knew what it meant and he didn't like it, couldn't admit it, and didn't need James to point it out.


He was concentrating so hard on not thinking about the pain or the Vicodin that he didn't see or hear Wilson enter. He looked at the new bottle of pills Wilson had placed on the desk.

"You're out," he repeated. "You were out yesterday. You didn't drop by."

"I know," he said softly and he reached for the bottle. He flipped the lid and tipped a pill out. He let it sit in his hand.

Wilson nodded and sat down. There was a silence for a moment.

"I tried. I survived, even. That has to count for something, right?"

"It does."

House stared at the pill a moment longer before popping it into his mouth. The familiar bitterness sat on his tongue and he savored it. That scared him, but he wasn't ready to deal with it. He just wanted to move forward and function.

He wasn't addicted. Wasn't dependant. The Vicodin was the only thing that worked and he wasn't ready to try something else. He was different. It wasn't a drastic change, at least not to him, but it was a change.

He wondered if Wilson understood. He looked at his friend and then turned back to his piles of resumes.

"I'm going to hire Foreman."

"You haven't interviewed him."

"Don't need to. He has something that Chase and Cameron don't have." He'd dug through Foreman's file and with a little hunting, had found the man's one indiscretion with the law. Foreman had street smarts. Very useful.

Wilson gave him a small smile. "Missing puzzle piece, huh?"

He shook his head. "The puzzle is never finished. That's what makes it so interesting."

Hydrocodone is habit forming. It is possible become physically and/ or psychologically dependent on the medication. Do not take more than the prescribed amount of medication or take it for longer than is directed by your doctor. Withdrawal effects may occur if acetaminophen and hydrocodone is stopped suddenly after several weeks of continuous use. Your doctor may recommend a gradual reduction in dose.

November came. Foreman started. Chase did another crossword and Cameron still politely answered his discarded consult requests.

Three days later, he walked down the hall with Wilson, and for the first time in ages, he noticed the stares again.

"29 year old female, first seizure one month ago, lost the ability to speak. Babbled like a baby. Present deterioration of mental status."

"See that? They all assume I'm a patient because of this cane."

"So put on a white coat like the rest of us."

No way in hell. He leaned heavier on the cane. Might as well give the gawkers a show. "I don't want them to think I'm a doctor."

"You see where the administration might have a problem with that attitude."

Or just Cuddy.

"People don't want a sick doctor." Did he mean that; was sick really the right word?

"Fair enough. I don't like healthy patients. The 29 year old femaleā€¦"

"The one who can't talk, I liked that part."

Wilson was convinced that House should take the case. So much so that he played the 'cousin' card again. House popped a Vicodin. It didn't really matter if it was true or not, it got a reaction, and Wilson knew it would. Just like grabbing someone's cane and keeping him from getting on the elevator and heading back up to his empty office and empty caseload did.

"I already had her transferred from Trenton General."

Yes, Wilson was still trying.

He wondered when he had stopped.

He looked at James, who still had a hand grasping his cane, not willing to give up. Whether if was on the patient or his friend, Greg wasn't sure, but determination reigned in his gaze.

He took the file.


That's it! Until the next one :). If you enjoyed, the review button's just below...