FIFTY-MINUTE HOUR: House
This is a crappy idea. Of course it is; it isn't his idea, it's Cuddy's. Which automatically makes it suspect, of course, but this time there's more. She's told House--in no uncertain terms--that if he doesn't keep this appointment she's set up for him, she'll suspend him. Indefinitely. An indefinite amount of time to mull over what his decisions have done to the only person in his life who's ever cared about him just because he's House.
Not because he's a phenomenal diagnostician, not because his presence at Princeton-Plainsboro brings in the big donations. Not even because they're somehow related and, well, you have to care about family. No; Wilson cares about House because he wants to. And House would never admit it, not even to himself, but that makes his friendship with Wilson worth more than all his other relationships put together. So House shows up at the stupid appointment.
The psychiatrist is young, and self-important--two strikes against him. The third strike comes when he asks the first question. "Dr. Cuddy tells me that you've been sleeping excessively, even at work; shall we talk about the issue you're trying to avoid?
Strike three, House thinks. You're out! He smiles at Dr. Arbeson, and it's a deceptively kind smile. "Sure," he says pleasantly. "What are the magic words that'll fix killing your best friend?"
House notes, with satisfaction, that the young man's eyes have just doubled in size. "You're... admitting to... committing a murder?" the psychiatrist asks hesitantly.
House leans back in the chair, closes his eyes. "Yup. Worst kind of crime, too. Kind I can't be punished for. Wilson's lost his medical license; he's in jail for two years, and he's lost me. I might not look like much of a prize to you, but that idiot's actually told me that the only two good things in his life are his job, and me--go figure, huh? So... I make sure he'll never work as a doctor again, and then I get him locked up for a couple of years. Not like I can stop by once in a while with a six-pack and a movie, is it? He's still breathing, but he's dead. Do you get that?"
"And you're... feeling a lot of guilt about this."
House lifts his head and regards the doctor with wry irony. "They pay you to figure that out? I'm in the wrong specialty!"
Dr. Arbeson has recovered his professional mask. "You need to come up with healthier coping mechanisms than avoidance; perhaps I can help you do that. Start by acknowledging your depression."
"I'm not depressed, you moron," House almost shouts. "I'm angry!"
Arbeson looks smug. "Depression," he says sagely, "is simply anger without enthusiasm."
House looks hard at Arbeson. "Here's something they didn't teach you at Harvard. Sometimes guilt is a valid feeling. Sometimes our choices have consequences. And sometimes people we care about have to live with those consequences, while we get off scot-free. Got a pill, or a bandage, or a nifty slogan for that?"
Arbeson simply stares back, and House sees, with cold amusement, that the psychiatrist is at a loss for words. House checks his watch.
"Seems I've used up nineteen minutes; gives you thirty-one minutes to dig out your DSM-IV. Maybe you can find the diagnostic criteria for 'crappy friend.' If I were you, I'd start under H. Then," he says as he stands and grabs the doorknob, "at least the insurance company'll know how to reimburse for this illuminating—" he checks his watch again, "—nineteen minutes and thirty-two seconds. And make sure you tell Cuddy I was here."
House is halfway out the door. He turns around and says one more thing. "Sometimes, guilt is just… guilt. No fancy names, no simple cures. And we live with it." And then he's gone.