A cocoon. White and enveloping; all encompassing. The silence was a blessing (if blessings actually exist) because everything had been too loud and too constant: a barrage that not even Jimmy Hendrix could drown. Glass shattering, the searing squeal of shredded metal and the screech of useless brakes; voices arguing, eyes accusing—that was the loudest, it seemed. And here it was quiet; it was almost as if he had been struck by lightning, but of the gentlest kind (as oxymoronic as that sounded).

The crush of memories that from it ensued wracked his consciousness along with his conscience as reality set in. Dial-a-Wilson, this time, brought death, and he was tossed into the maelstrom: participant and spectator. Trapped with nowhere to run, and Wilson by his side, he couldn't lie; couldn't evade; couldn't hide. He simply had to "be." Pure truth has its price.

And now House knew; the last piece of a cubist (and hence impossible) jigsaw puzzle put in place before shattering in a rain of glass and horror. "Don't do it," he whispered from his 20/20 hindsight's vantage; but the past cannot be altered. What's done is done. What's gone is gone; what's dead is dead.

"Why her?" he inquired of a God that did not exist for him. "Why her? Why not me?" he implored. Sure it sounded trite, but it was an honest question, and one he wanted answered. One he needed answered.

"I…I…I asked her to find you," the words stammered in disbelief as the pain of perfect knowledge seared House's damaged brain. The power of speech abandoned him as Wilson finished the rest of his thought, gasping with recognition and a quiet fury that would have stopped anyone else in his tracks. But House knew the rest had to come out, had to be told; he had to know. "The truth will set you free," the thought randomly pinging off a new electrical impulse in House's battered brain. "But not today; not this truth," another ping responded, sending an frozen wave through his nervous system.

"He's seizing." An echo from somewhere in the room, distant concentric circles of sound. And then nothing. It was quiet; warm and cool; safe. And for the first time in nearly two years, there was no pain. It no longer hurt, he was no longer unaccountably sad. Or angry; and he wanted to stay. There were no Moriartys nipping relentlessly at his mind; no ephemeral sirens whispering in his ear, telling him things he did not want to hear. There was nothing; all thought had fled and he simply "was." It felt safe now, to open his eyes; the shaking had stopped and he no longer felt that he would go into free fall if he opened them.

House was taken by surprise at the brightness of the room, which, at last recollection was bathed in only the dim light of the procedure room. But, he then realized, he was no longer in the procedure room; the apparatus had been removed from his head. A bus? Where was Wils….?

Amber. Of course. But she was dead, wasn't she? "Am I dead, too?" he asked, not really caring which way the response went.

"Not yet," sly seductive. She was beautiful; had to give Wilson that, he pondered before remembering. It wasn't fair, he argued, that she should be dead. She had found a way off the path; found redemption through Saint Wilson. Had won his love. It wasn't fair.

"I should be." But life isn't fair. Had she said that, or was it his own conscience? Did it matter, since they were now apparently one and the same? There were no ghosts; no afterlife; no white light other than the brain simply shutting down when it was over. For good. She was no damn angel, that's for sure. "I can stay here with you:" A question; a prayer; a plea.

"Why?" He felt compelled to explain, to be honest, as brutal as that seemed. He was afraid and it felt safe here; his father a distant, fuzzy memory: he could no longer feel the burning pain of his childhood. Not here; not with her. If this is dead, then bring it on. His leg, too. Ah, the leg: when had it stopped throbbing? It felt good; it felt whole. All pain had fled and was now but a distant memory.

The ache in his heart had long since become dull; the yearning for Stacy scarred over and fading, but never quite gone—until now. He felt at peace and at home. And of course there was Wilson, whose eyes burned into him from a vantage too close as House revealed the truth about that night. "You killed her," said Wilson's eyes.

"It doesn't hurt here…." The words emerged with difficulty. "I…I don't want to be in pain…I…" Amber glanced over at her seatmate on the white bus, and her heart shattered into a million pieces as she watched him openly weep." She didn't know he had it in him; or maybe she did, but not that close to the surface. It hurt her to tell him that he couldn't stay; it was not his time.

"You can't always get what you want…" And he willingly walked away from the light and back into his own darkness: the fog and the pain. And it hurt everywhere and suddenly like an anvil had fallen on him. His head; his leg; his heart all tried to cry out: "go back…go back," fading and folding into the chaos of his mind. His eyes fluttered open, and he was disappointed somewhere in the back reaches of his mind.

A gasp to his left, but it hurt too much to turn towards it. Cuddy. "Blink if you can hear me," her voice warm as honey and kinder than he deserved. An urge to speak to Wilson overwhelmed him. "I…I've got…" It was a hoarse whisper. Was it even audible, he wondered?

"Ssssh, ssssh, don't try to talk; rest now." She was so close, he was enfolded by the lilac of her spring perfume. His eyes closed again and he felt Cuddy's hand on his, curling around it as if to hold him here among the living. He'd never known her to be cruel, but her touch compelled him to stay and not to float back towards the cocoon of light that, anyway, seemed to have faded into the distant reaches of memory.