DISCLAIMER: House, Wilson, Cuddy, Chase, Foreman, Cameron, Tritter and PPTH are the property of David Shore et al. not me.
Roy sat in the front passenger seat of his brother's car, looking out into the darkness. He tried to think of how he could turn the situation around, so that he ended up free, while House and Jimmy and Tritter all went to prison. He needed to remain calm so that he could make rational plans; he took calm slow breaths the way the anger management counsellors had suggested. The technique would work for about fifteen seconds until he thought about the situation he was in. He was an innocent non-combatant who had wandered into someone else's war. Now, both sides were shooting at him.
His brother James, in the driver's seat, was hardly in a better mood. He'd had to spend the entire day with Roy, since he was afraid to leave him alone in case he decided to run away or to alert Tritter to their plans. At first, Wilson had felt sorry for his brother, and had tried to make Roy's last day on the outside as pleasant as possible. He'd taken his brother to Roy's favourite strip joint, the most unwholesome place Wilson had ever been in his life. (The beer he ordered came in a glass so greasy that it slipped out of Wilson's hand when he tried to pick it up, and all the strippers had cold sores and visible needle marks.) He had even let Roy use his hotel room for a "date" with one of the club's lap dancers. There are, however, limits to anyone's patience, and James Wilson was sick of being compared to Judas and Benedict Arnold.
House sat in the back seat. Being on a stake-out with Wilson, he thought, would have been fun if only Roy had not been there. He stretched out, "accidentally" kicking Roy's seat with his good leg.
The car was parked at a turnoff a short distance from the storage facility. Except for the storage facility and, a half mile further on, the waste treatment plant, this area was scrubland. At some point, there must have had plans to develop the land into lots, because someone had used a bulldozer to clear access to the planned lots. The development had never taken place, and bush and weeds were gradually taking over the cleared areas. The dirt access roads to the individual lots were hard to spot in daylight and almost invisible at night. James Wilson had carefully backed his car into one of the dirt roads and had then walked back to make sure it could not be seen by passing motorists.
Wilson left the car to relieve himself. When he came back, he looked at Roy, scowling, emitting waves of animosity that Wilson could almost see and could certainly feel. Instead of taking the driver's seat, Wilson got into the back with House. He knew that Roy would see this as another snub, and that it would be additional fuel for his resentment, but Wilson didn't care anymore.
"Pass me one of those wet naps," he said. "Are there any fruit bars left?"
"How about oranges?" House passed him a wet nap and the last orange.
"If you knew anything about catering for a stake-out, you would have brought take-out. Greasy hamburgers and fries. Chow mein noodles and cold coffee in paper cups." House said. "High fibre fruit bars are not genre-appropriate. Neither are oranges."
"Quick energy," Wilson explained, leaning back against the head rest. "And oranges are genre- appropriate. You must have seen The Grifters."
"Angelica Huston in that movie reminds me of Cuddy - her hair and her clothes sense and of course her warm, compassionate personality."
"Shut up," Roy said. "I can see headlights. That has to be him"
The car was still a long way away. House had bought a pair of night vision goggles especially for the occasion. He watched the car for a moment and confirmed the driver's identity. They watched as the car came steadily closer and then turned off at the storage facility. The parking lot in front was brightly lit, so Tritter parked behind the building, where they could not see him. Wilson pulled out his cellphone, ready to call the police to report a break-in.
"Not yet. Wait a couple of minutes until we're sure he's actually in the building," House said.
"This isn't good enough," Roy said. "You told me I'd see him get arrested. I'm going to see."
He opened the door of the car and stepped out. Wilson made frantic gestures for him to return, but Roy ignored him. Roy had crossed the road and was walking towards the back of the building, carefully avoiding the illuminated parking area for the dark bushes on the side. Wilson swore quietly and put his cellphone back in his pocket.
"Don't call the police until we get back," he said, following Roy out into the night.
"Wait for me," House said. "If you idiots insist on playing follow the leader, I want to join in."
Tritter considered himself a good policeman. He was thorough and conscientious and, best of all, absolutely relentless. There were a couple of times where he'd done more to get a conviction than the rules and regulations allowed but never anything that weighed on his conscience. He knew that breaking and entering was crossing a line. It was something he could not have imagined himself doing when he'd joined the force. He'd always been an idealist.
Tritter had come to House as a patient and the man had humiliated him, but it was not only the memory of his humiliation that made Tritter loathe House. Tritter had seen House's kind of arrogance before - that same certainty that the law could never touch him - in the drunk driver who had killed his wife. He'd prevailed against Dwight Twillig, deputy district attorney and secret lush, and he'd thought that he would prevail against House. He hadn't though. He pulled every string he could, called in all his favours, and still House got away. His captain thought he'd lost perspective and suggested he see a counsellor. He could tell the captain didn't trust him anymore. Tritter was planning on retiring in a couple of years and he hated that his failure to convict House was all that anyone would remember about him.
He walked up to the storage facility's rear entrance, which was illuminated by a single light bulb. Even though there was no one around to see him, Tritter reached up and unscrewed the light bulb with his gloved hand. He shone a penlight on the alarm box. It was a cheap model that was easy to disable. The lock, too, was no deterrent to anyone with experience. Dr. Wilson, he thought, should have picked a better location to hide all his incriminating photos.
Tritter heard a sound and turned around. He switched off the penlight and allowed his eyes to adjust the darkness. His hand was on his gun. He spotted a shape moving in the bushes.
"I see you," he called. "You might as well come out."
Roy stepped out from the bushes. Tritter was annoyed to see him, but not concerned. He thought that Roy had changed his mind and decided to take part in the robbery.
"That was not smart," he said to Roy. "You could have been shot. Now that you're here, you can hold the penlight while I work on the alarm."
He tossed Roy the penlight and turned back to his work. Roy came up behind him and shone the light as directed.
"I didn't appreciate you breaking into my apartment," he said. "We are supposed to be partners. I didn't like that at all."
"We are not partners," Tritter said. "Be quiet; I need to concentrate."
He disabled the alarm and picked the lock. Then he entered the building. Roy followed him and shut the door behind him. They wondered through a labyrinth of corridors, looking for Unit 149. If there was a logic to the numbering system this place used, it wasn't obvious.
Wilson and House were hidden in the bushes that bordered the parking lot. They watched the two men enter the building.
"I'm phoning the police," House whispered.
"Not yet. Give Roy time to get out of the building first. Please."
Standing on the uneven ground was making House's leg ache. He popped a Vicodin.
"You should go back to the car," whispered Wilson.
"I don't want to miss anything."
Tritter had finally found Unit 149. The lock was so cheap that you could open it with a butter knife. He shone the penlight on neat stacks of labelled boxes. He found one labelled 'correspondence' and opened it. The first letter was from Wilson's divorce lawyer. So was the next.
"What would you do," Roy said," if I told you this was a set-up?"
"What do you mean?"
"House and my brother playing games with you. Getting you to break in and then calling the cops."
Tritter turned around to face the ex-convict.
"I bet the cops are on their way right now, "Roy grinned.
Tritter shone his penlight into Roy's face. He saw Roy's confident smile and knew that Roy was telling the truth. He quickly walked past the ex-convict, heading for the exit. Roy followed.
"They're coming," he said. "If you drive off now, you'll pass them going the other way. How are you going to explain being on this empty road at two in the morning? You're stuck." He laughed in the policeman's face.
Tritter was tired of Roy's taunts. "I'll tell them that I was nearby when I heard the dispatcher mention a break-in over the radio. When I got here to investigate, I found you."
Despite this threat, Tritter knew his best chance was to get away before the police arrived. Framing Roy would be a last resort. He continued walking rapidly through the maze of corridors. At last he reached the exit. He walked out the building and headed for his car. Roy followed after him, shouting abuse.
"You are not getting away, you fucking bastard! If I have to go to prison, so do you!"
Roy tried to grab the policeman, who evaded his grip. When Roy continued to advance toward him, Tritter pulled his weapon. He backed away, still heading toward his car. The ex-convict seemed to be oblivious of the gun pointed at him.
When James Wilson saw Tritter point the gun toward his brother, he stepped out of the bushes where he had been waiting. He had to intervene. He could not let the policeman shoot Roy.
"Let him go, Roy," he urged.
Tritter continued to keep his eyes on Roy, but Roy was distracted by the sound of his brother's voice. He looked away from the policeman and spotted Wilson, who was little more than a silhouette in the dark. Wilson stepped out on to the parking lot. House was a little further back in the shadows; neither Roy nor Tritter noticed that he was there. Tritter took advantage of Roy's momentary inattention to get to his car.
Roy's anger now was directed at Wilson, who had allowed Tritter to get away. Furious, Roy launched himself at his brother. Wilson was thrown to the ground. Roy sat on Wilson's chest, pinning him with his legs. He pounded Wilson's head into the asphalt surface of the parking lot. Wilson struggled but he was no match for Roy. He began to lose consciousness. House tried to pull Roy off his brother. When that didn't work, he swung at him with his cane, but Roy hardly noticed the blow. He looked up at House but didn't seem to recognize him at all. His teeth were bared and his face was locked in a rictus of unreasoning rage. House involuntarily took a step back in shock, and Roy returned his attention to battering Wilson. House swung his cane at Roy again, delivering a blow to the head that should have knocked him dizzy. Roy ignored the blow, ignored the blood dripping down into his eyes. He seemed something inhuman and unstoppable.
Tritter stepped out of his car. He couldn't watch Roy kill Dr. Wilson and do nothing. He was still too much a cop to do that.
"Get away from him or I'll shoot."
House was still trying to pull Roy off Wilson. He looked towards Tritter, who motioned for him to get out of the line of fire. House hesitated for a fraction of a second, and then moved aside.
"Roy, step away from Dr. Wilson or I will shoot you," Tritter said.
Roy looked up at Tritter. He had been clutching his brother by his neck and shoulders and he abruptly dropped his grip. Wilson's head fell against the asphalt with a sickening thud. Roy stood up and faced Tritter. Wilson was still; House couldn't tell if he was breathing. He brushed past Roy to get to his friend, but Roy did not react. Tritter lowered his gun but kept the weapon ready. He took a couple of steps towards the injured man, but never took his eyes off Roy.
Wilson was unconscious but still breathing. There was too much blood for House to examine his head wound properly. That didn't mean much, House told himself; scalp wounds bleed profusely. Wilson probably had a couple of broken ribs. He hoped there were no internal injuries. He took off the light weight summer jacket he was wearing and covered Wilson with it.
Roy glanced down at his brother in mild curiosity, as if he had had nothing to do with his injuries. He put his head to his own forehead, where House had hit him with the cane, and then looked at the blood on his hands. He seemed surprised to find that he was hurt.
"I didn't mean to do that, but he makes me so mad sometimes. Where are the cops?" he asked House. "Aren't they taking a long time?"
"Wilson wanted to wait until you were out of the building before we called the cops. He didn't want you to be there when they came. He wanted to protect you," House said bitterly.
House took his cellphone out to call an ambulance but Roy snatched it from his hands. He had a brilliant idea.
"This could still work," he said to Tritter. "We could still come out on top. The cops aren't coming. Nobody knows we're here. You get rid of the witnesses and we both walk away."
"Get rid of the witnesses?" Tritter repeated.
Roy was annoyed that the policeman could be so obtuse.
"You think I could kill two people in cold blood. You think I'm like you. Fuck you, Roy. Give Dr. House his cellphone."
Roy threw the cellphone as far as he could into the bushes. House reached into Wilson's pocket to get his phone but Roy kicked him hard in his bad leg. House cried out in pain and fell to the ground. Roy neatly leaned down and took Wilson's cellphone. It went into the bushes too. He smiled triumphantly.
Tritter pointed his handgun at the ex-convict.
"I've got a phone in my jacket pocket. Dr. House, come over here and take it. It's in my jacket pocket. Call 9-1-1."
House tried to stand up, but his leg would not bear any weight at all. He began to drag himself towards Tritter. Roy watched for a minute, laughing, and then walked toward Wilson.
"Don't, House" he said. "I'll kill him. Jimmy doesn't look very good. It wouldn't be difficult. One good kick to the head."
House didn't move.
"I'll call 9-1-1 myself," Tritter said.
Still keeping his gun pointed at Roy, he used his other hand to get his cellphone. Tritter only took his eyes off the ex-convict for a second, and that was all Roy needed. He covered the ground between him and the policeman astonishingly quickly. Tritter fired his gun, but he was aiming one-handed, and he wasn't sure whether he hit Roy. The ex-convict was on top of him, his hands around his throat. Tritter still had the gun in his hand, so he swung it at Roy's head as hard as he could. Roy's grip finally faltered, and Tritter pushed him off. He felt shaky and nauseous. He'd been in the police force for twenty years, but he'd never had to use his firearm before.
"Is he dead?" Tritter asked.
House pulled himself up with difficulty and managed a few faltering steps before collapsing next to Tritter.
"I hope so," said House. He put out his hand for Tritter's cellphone.
Wilson had been drifting in and out for hours, but this time he seemed more decisively awake. He was paying attention to his surroundings.
"What time is it?" he asked House, who was sitting in a wheelchair beside Wilson's bed. "Are you eating my pudding?"
"It two-thirty in the afternoon and yes, but it's banana and you're not missing anything."
"Hector," Wilson said. "I meant to be back a lot sooner."
"Don't worry about Hector. The Lollipop Guild is looking after him."
"The Lollipop Guild?"
"Cameron, Chase and Foreman."
"But Hector's at Bonnie's and they don't have her address or her key."
"The Great and Powerful Oz has arranged everything."
Wilson looked confused.
"I am the Great and Powerful Oz," House explained.
"Simple declarative sentences, please," said Wilson. "I'm not up to metaphor and allusion yet."
"He's dead. You told me that before. Or somebody told me. I'm going to have to phone my parents."
"I can phone them."
"No, House. It's my responsibility," Wilson tried to sit up, but his body protested. "I'm sorry about Roy. You were right about him. I wanted him to be better than he was. Did he hurt you?"
"He whacked me pretty good. It's a good thing that I'm used to excruciating pain," House said. "The police are going to want to talk to you. It's not going to be pleasant. They had a lot to say to me about 'amateur sting operations' and 'people playing detective.' Whatever you do, don't mention Alfred Hitchcock."
"I'll try to leave him out of it," Wilson said wryly. "Thank you, House."
Wilson went back to sleep, and House watched him intently for a minute, to make sure that it was natural sleep, and not coma. Then he opened the box of chocolates Cuddy had bought for Wilson and picked out a caramel.