Galapagos Islands

House wants to walk in Darwin's footsteps. He doesn't want the tourist islands, with their watered down brand of tourist science.

He wants to chase Darwin's finches across the rocks, to measure their beaks, to watch every seed that they eat. He wants to see evolution as it happens, to hold the answer to everything in his hands.

But there's no dock on Darwin's islands. You jump from a small ship to a narrow ledge, then scramble up the rock cliff. House's leg aches when it rains, and hates crossing the parking lot.

He takes the Galapagos off his list.

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Cambodia

House thinks he never really understood evil until Tritter -- until he looked into Tritter's eyes and saw nothing. No remorse. No caring. Nothing remotely human.

He wonders if that's what happened in Cambodia, where a nation killed a third of its own. Maybe there, someone can tell him what turns a human being into something that isn't.

But in Cambodia, he would've been among the first to die, and someone like Tritter would have been the one waiting to bash his head in. He's not ready to look into another face like that again.

He takes Cambodia off the list.

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Mount Aconcagua

John House lived his life at sea level -- when he was at home -- and at 50,000 feet when he wasn't.

Aconcagua tops out in between, and House likes the idea of occupying the space in the middle that his father couldn't. During the summer, he'd picked up some adventuring magazines, back when he allowed himself to imagine a different world for himself, and read that it was an easy climb.

But then he stares at the cane leaning against his desk, and calculates the steps between base camp and the summit, then back down.

He takes Aconcagua off the list.

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Vancouver Island

House tells himself and everyone else kayaks are the answer. No legs required, he says.

It's the sensible thing to do. His arms are strong, though his right shoulder still aches deep down sometimes. Wilson and Cuddy would say the pain is a reminder of his guilt. The physical therapist would blame worn cartilage.

House just pops another Vicodin and tries to tell himself that it's not cheating, that he's not giving up on everything he'd hoped for during the summer, when Ketamine seemed to offer him the world.

He can't quite convince himself. He takes Vancouver off the list.

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Princeton

The German study mentioned something about an alternative in Russia, so House buys himself a Russian-English dictionary and goes in search of the paperwork. So far, he's only found promises and blind alleys leading back to the same cocktail of drugs and therapy that everyone else uses.

But he remembers a footnote in one of the Indian journals on Weber's meds that mentioned a pain management technique he wants to check out.

Someone in New Zealand has offered to send him information about a conference in Singapore.

House picks up one of the papers. He sits back and settles in.