A/N: This fic started as an entry for a scene writing contest on another site. The scene was for a guest appearance by Stephen Fry on House. The winning entry (in fact every entry except mine) went for comedy. But you guys know me, I went for the drama. Anyway, although it didn't win I was encouraged to continue it, so I have.

Saying Goodbye

House stood at the pharmacy counter, impatiently waiting for his Vicodin. He noticed the tall man in military dress entering the lobby, but was distracted by the arrival of his prescription. Popping a pill in his mouth and turning, he was startled to find himself face to face with the vaguely familiar man.

"Greg?" the man addressed him. House frowned; he knew this man, but from where? "Or do you still go by PITA?"

Instantly, House's mind flashed back to the rock-climbing incident he'd just been telling Wilson about. William, once a scrappy lad of fifteen and now a decorated Marine, had been House's best friend while stationed with his parents in Japan.

They weren't supposed to be rock-climbing. But the nickname PITA, an acronym for Pain in the Ass, hadn't been bestowed upon him without cause. Rebellious teenagers were a dime a dozen on military bases, but House's often frightening intellect, insatiable curiosity and endless boredom landed him in more spectacular trouble than most of his peers.

William, a well-mannered, obedient, industrious young man had been an odd companion for young House, but a strange sort of friendship developed regardless. House's father approved immediately, hoping William would be a good influence on House. In perhaps predictable fashion, this was hardly the case. In fact, several months into their alliance, William had been the one to suggest the rock-climbing trip. House had been in charge of getting away with it.

House hadn't intended for them to get caught. And certainly, he had never intended to get caught rushing an unconscious and bleeding William to the nearest hospital. House remembered watching the rock slip from William's grasp and his own desperate lunge to catch him. He also remembered the beating he'd gotten from his father that night, quite possibly the worst of his life.

"William," House said hoarsely, only now noticing the two MPs flanking him. He tried to crack wise, but he'd seen this formation too many times before.

"Your parents were touring the base where I was just stationed while on their way back from a trip to Italy. There was an accident," William paused and House nodded, knowing exactly what was coming next. "I'm sorry, Greg. They're both dead."

House stood over his desk, rifling aimlessly through the papers scattered across its surface. William had taken care of the arrangements to have his parents' bodies flown back to the States and contacted their attorney about the funeral services. Really, there was nothing for House to do but have his black suit pressed. William informed him that his mother had requested he speak at the funeral and he'd nodded, not trusting his voice and determined that nobody know what was going on.

Frustrated at his inability to find what he was looking for, although if asked he wouldn't have been able to say precisely what that was, House abruptly grabbed his cane and swept the desk top clean. His red and gray tennis ball rolled lazily across the floor, coming to rest between the glossy tips of Wilson's leather shoes.

"Clinic that bad?" Wilson asked.

"Not in the mood," House replied tensely. He rested the whitened knuckles of his clenched fists on the now bare desk and hung his head low.

"What happened?" Wilson asked with concern.

"Seriously, not in the mood. Go play twenty questions with Chase, you'll win," House said, the words typical but not the tone.

"House, you can talk to me about whatever is bothering you," Wilson attempted.

"Right now, you're bothering me," House deflected Wilson's concern. He wasn't ready. He lifted his head and met Wilson's gaze. "If you want to remain my friend, leave now."

Wilson studied him for a moment and then nodded. Whatever House was going through, he would talk about when he was ready and not before. Wilson could only hope House would be ready to talk before he was ready to swallow an entire bottle of Vicodin.

"I'll be next door all day," Wilson said as he backed out of the office.

Disgusted with himself for letting his feelings get the best of him, and annoyed with Wilson for having the timing to catch him, House dropped into his chair and leaned back. He swallowed two Vicodin, barely even aware he was doing it, and closed his eyes.