Eight months, House thinks. Eight months since Jimmy died. You'd think I'd be getting over it by now. Used to it. Whatever. He shifts restlessly on the bed, glancing at the illuminated numbers of the clock on the nightstand.

Four-fucking-thirty. Great.

Turning over, trying to ease the constant dull ache in his leg, he thinks again about the last minutes of James Wilson's life. He'd spent them bleeding to death on the floor of a convenience store four blocks away, trapped in a botched screwup of an armed robbery that had left no survivors.

House had sent him there, running a needless errand in House's last-ever game of Push Jimmy's Buttons.

He thinks of this every night, and lately the thoughts have brought with them a strange impulse.

Reaching for the cordless phone next to the bed, he turns it on and punches in a series of numbers.

Four rings before it's answered.

"I have to tell you something," House says, and there's a muffled noise from the other end, a female voice. "No! Don't hang up!" He waits, cautiously. Silence on the line, but no dial tone, and House relaxs just a tiny bit.

"I loved him," he says. "I kept telling myself to tell him, but I never did, and now it's too late. It's too fucking late."

The silent listener waits.

"I have to tell everyone now," House says. "He was my best friend and I loved him, and I have to tell somebody because if I don't it'll be like it never existed. Like he never existed."

The stranger on the other end gives a slight cough.

"I'm sorry," House whispers. It's not clear, even to himself, who he's apologizing to or for what. "Goodbye."

Before he breaks the connection, he looks at the number he's dialed.

A 406 area code. A woman in Montana now knows his secret. Last night it had been 501 -- a young man in Arkansas, and the night before that 620; a kid somewhere in Kansas. Sometimes he punches in a lot of numbers and ends up in Japan, France, Poland. Once he'd gotten Australia, and had almost laughed at the cosmic joke of hearing an accent like Chase's at the other end of the line.

No matter. The ghosts on the other end listen, and that's what's important. The only thing that's important, these days.

Clicking off the phone, he replaces it in it's cradle. It's the one he has to use; his cellphone bills go directly to the hospital and he can't let Cuddy find out what he's doing. She'd insist on therapy. Counseling. He doesn't need it; of this he's convinced himself. This is his therapy.

He crosses his arms behind his head and closes his eyes.

He wonders who'll pick up the phone tomorrow night.