So here we go. Last chapter. Thanks guys for all your nice reviews. Thanks again to DIY sheep. :-)
Two weeks later House was bored during his night shift. Larry stepped in at half past 1.
"Bill, isn't here", House greeted him.
"I know. I came to see you", Larry told him.
"Another corn on your left foot? Those things are nasty, aren't they?"
"Don't get fresh, boy!", Larry warned him. "Get me some coffee."
House poured him a cup while Larry took a seat.
"So, what can I do for you?"
"I just came to thank you. You really saved my back. I love those exercises!"
"And you came here in the middle of the night to tell me that?", House wondered.
"Too many people around during the day. I won't tell it in public and you don't want to hear it then, right?"
House chuckled and nodded. The old man emptied his cup and left 5 minutes later.
"See you tomorrow, Greg."
House watched him for a moment walking down the street. He was about to return to his magazine when two guys approached Larry. First they just talked but then they got violent.
House grabbed his cane and hurried out.
"Hey!", he shouted as he walked towards them. "Leave him alone!"
"Oh watch it, pal. Here comes the cripple police", one of them laughed.
They let go of Larry and came towards him.
"What do you want, gimp?", the other yelled.
House was angry but he tried it peacefully once more.
"Nothing has happened so far. Just get out of here."
"Now I'm pissing my pants", they laughed.
One of them tried to grab House by his shirt but he shoved away the hand. A moment later his fist broke the guy's nose.
His buddy punched House in the face. He stumbled backwards but stayed on his feet. He raised his cane and punched the guy in the stomach. But the guy was not done, yet. He tried it again. House got another punch out of it. Hello black eye. Finally he kicked his elbow in the guy's face and he joined his buddy on the ground.
The cops who arrived at that moment had not seen how the two guys had attacked Larry or how House had tried to prevent a fight. They just saw a guy with a cane and two persons on the ground.
"Drop that cane and get your hands behind your back", one of the officers ordered him. House didn't even try to explain the situation. He just obeyed. He starred at the cop who pointed his gun at him.
The other cop inspected the guys on the floor. They were well known to the police.
"You are all under arrest", he informed the three of them.
His colleague pushed House against the police car and searched him. He cuffed his hands and put him in the car.
"Call Bill and stay in the store until he arrives, please", House told Larry. Those were the only words he spoke.
Larry still tried to explain the situation but the cops were still busy taking prisoners.
Half an hour later House sat on a chair in the precinct. The cop checked his personal data in the computer.
"Uh oh, someone is on parole here", he announced.
House just shrugged. He had already done the math. Two years. They would lock him up for two more years. He had just tried to help and this time nobody had died. It was not fair. Life had screwed him up once more. Maybe he was lucky and Weston had left the prison.
He ended up in the cell together with his two attackers and some other guys. The little bench was already occupied so he sat down on the floor in a corner.
Mr. Chambers showed up at 8 am. He looked inside the cell. House had buried his head between his pulled up knees.
"This is exactly the place I don't want to see you in, Greg", he said. His client looked up at him.
"It was not my….", he paused. "I'm sorry, Sir."
A cop came and opened up the cell.
"Let's go, Greg", his parole officer told him.
House was surprised. He followed him to the counter where he got his stuff back.
"Those two youngsters are well known for theft and robbery. Larry explained what happened. Next time you stay out of it and call the police. Got it?"
He nodded. Sure, he would watch those punks beating up a friend while he waited for the cops. Great idea!
Chambers drove him back to the gas station. Larry and Bill were glad to see him.
"Hey, you are back! Larry told me what happened. Don't worry, everything is fine."
He got him some crushed ice for his eye.
"Go home and get some sleep", his boss told him.
On his next free day House planned to go to New York. He knew he had to stay within the state but who cared? It would just be one day and how big where the chances that a cops asked him for his ID wondering if he might screw up his parole?
He had enough money for a train ticket to New York and he left his home early in the morning. House wore his suit again together with a dark gray shirt. He put his pills in the pocket and felt his old tie. He smiled. Wilson had given it to him so long ago when he had been in trouble. Everything had worked out back then. Hopefully it would also this time.
Three hours later he arrived at Grand Central Station in Manhattan. It had been a while since he had been in New York and usually he would have gotten on a cap. Confused he tried to find the right bus. It took him a while.
Wilson on the other hand had no trouble at all. He never drove his car in New York and he didn't mind using public transportation. Right now the oncologist was on his way to work. House had found the right bus line but another problem showed up. Somewhere between Trenton and New York he had lost his last 10 dollar. He pondered about this for a moment. But finally he decided to trust his luck once more and got on the bus anyway.
Wilson saw him immediately. He sat in the back when House got in. First he thought it was a hallucination. House took a seat and glanced out of the window. Wilson could imagine House's destination but he wanted to be sure. So he just observed him. His plan was foiled when two ticket inspectors showed up at the next station.
They made their way through the bus coming closer to House. Wilson could see his buddy was getting very nervous.
"That son of a bitch", Wilson thought. He got his own ticket out of his wallet and got up.
One of the inspectors approached House now.
"May I see your ticket, Sir?"
Of course. Why would he be lucky for once in his life? Now he would end up in prison again. They would ask for his ID find out about his parole and Chambers would be happy to fill in the paperwork.
"Excuse me, Sir?", the inspector came again.
"There you are", Wilson spoke up and sat down next to him.
"I told you to wait for me. Almost missed the bus. Anyway, here's your ticket." He shoved it into House's hand.
"You know this man?", the guy asked him now.
"Sure. Since he has some trouble with his leg I got our tickets."
"Can I see them?"
"Of course", House mumbled and handed it over. He got it back a moment later while Wilson searched his pockets.
"That's impossible. I had it a minute ago. Damn it, I must have lost it", he finally admitted.
"Sir, I fear you have to pay a fine. I need your personal details."
Wilson handed over his ID and the inspector wrote a report.
They got off the bus at the next station. House had been silent the entire time. Now he looked at Wilson. "Thank you.", he said. Wilson could tell he felt embarrassed.
"You're welcome. But here's some advice. Next time you leave the state illegally, buy a ticket."
"Right.", House mumbled.
"So where are you going?", Wilson asked him now.
"New York General hospital."
"What are you doing there?"
House smirked for a moment.
"I wanted to see a friend."
Wilson smiled. Finally.
"Well, I get bad news for you. He won't show up at work today."
House looked surprised. "I thought you were on your way there."
Wilson nodded. "Yeah. But then this buddy of mine showed up and I had to buy him lunch. I haven't done this in years."
"Hey you just got a 50 bucks ticket because of me.", he mumbled, ashamed.
"50 bucks is lot of money.", House explained.
"Yes. You are right. But still, I have to show you that place where they sell top Reuben's. Come on, my treat."
They had a nice lunch together. House was relieved that Wilson was still talking to him. The oncologist knew how to handle this. He didn't mention the past at all. He knew House would do this himself sooner or later. Instead he told House how he ended up in New York and House told his friend about his new life.
"Come on. I have to show you something.", Wilson finally told him.
They took a cap back to Wilson's place.
"Nice.", House said when they entered the building. "You should see the pit hole I live in."
They entered Wilson's apartment and went into the living room. House stopped immediately. That was not possible. There in the corner of the room stood his beloved piano. He just starred at it for nearly a minute.
"Wilson.", he finally whispered his eyes still on the instrument.
"I didn't forge your signature."
"I know, House", Wilson said.
House went over and ran his hand over the piano. He still couldn't believe it. It was in perfect shape. Finally he sat down and opened the lid.
"Did you learn how to play?", he asked Wilson.
"No. I wouldn't dare touching your holy keys."
House started to play. "I told you to sell it."
"I did. I made you a very good price."
"Damn it. I should have let you sell my bike as well. So it's yours now. You can play it", House told him.
"Forget it. I got some of your stuff downstairs. Come on, I give you a ride back home."
They got the two boxes in Wilson's car and drove back to Trenton.
"I miss New Jersey sometimes", Wilson mumbled while they drove through the countryside.
"I hear Trenton has some hospitals", House explained.
"You hate Trenton, House."
"It's ok once you get to know it", House admitted.
"You think I should come back?", Wilson asked him now.
"Your job in New York sucks anyway. Nobody wants to work under Dr. Bilmer."
"How would you know that?", Wilson wondered.
"Hello! I was a doctor for a while. Bilmer had been there forever. No way he would leave. Plus it would be nice to have the piano closer to my place."
They arrived at House's apartment. Wilson got the tour around the place. He startled when suddenly a cat jumped of the bed.
House chuckled. "See, I can't leave this place. I can't move with Jimmy. So you have to come here."
"You got a cat named Jimmy?", Wilson wondered.
House grinned. "He reminded me of you. One day he brought home a mouse but instead of eating it he took care of its broken paw."
While House fed his pet Wilson got his wallet.
"I got something for you", he told his buddy and handed over a folded paper. House looked at it. It was an old paper and looked like it had been in that wallet for years. It was the bailout check. Wilson had never cashed it.
House shook his head. "I can't take it. It's your money."
"I don't want it. So burn it or use it. You bailed me out once in New Orleans and I returned the favor. We are even."
House looked at the check in his hand and then back at Wilson.
"No. We are not even. We'll never be. I owe you. And I don't deserve you."
Out of a sudden House stepped forward and hugged him. Not because he just got 30,000 dollars but because Wilson had always been there for him. He had never given up on him. Even in times House had told himself that Wilson was not a part of his life anymore and when he had pushed the oncologist out of his life. But Wilson had stuck with him because he had no choice. These two men were bound to each other for the rest of their lives.
Wilson rolled his eyes. "Oh my God. They brainwashed you in jail. Seriously man, that's very nice of you to say. But don't tell me ever again. I'm just glad I got you back."
House let go of him. "Sorry. I don't know what got over me. Now buy me some dinner."
Wilson chuckled. "Welcome back, House. By the way, that check isn't worth a single cent. I put it in a new account for you."
Six months later
At the end of his shift Greg tidied up his stuff. Ever since Wilson had moved to Trenton his little practice had been better supplied. Wilson obviously used more bandages, tongue depressors and other stuff than anyone else during their clinic hours but nobody cared.
And in the Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital certain doctors of the diagnostic department, the ER and even a certain surgeon prescribed more drugs than needed sometimes so Cuddy could fill another bag and deliver it to the gas station once a month. No serious stuff. Antibiotics, some minor painkillers or cough medicine. House wanted to pay for it but Cuddy waved away.
"The evil pharmaceutical companies can take care for it.", she told him.
Cuddy was happy to have him back in her life. She would visit him every now and then. Sometimes he invited her for dinner because he felt ashamed of getting all the drugs from her.
Slowly he started to open up to her. But he never mentioned his time in prison with a single word. They had developed a beautiful friendship and both of them were satisfied with it. Cuddy loved the fact that he still had his great sense of humor and could make her laugh. She was glad that he was living his life and seemed to be satisfied with it. He had reduced his Vicodin consume as well because they were expensive and because after nearly four years with four pills a day his body had gotten used to that dosage.
Now his boss approached him.
"I put a little bonus on your paycheck. You've been doing a good job lately."
"Thank you", he answered and took the envelope. He got some beer from the fridge and put 5 bucks on the counter but Harper stuffed in his tip box.
"Forget it. Have a nice evening."
"See you tomorrow, Bill", House said and left.
It was a beautiful day. Colored leaves showed him that fall wasn't far away but it was still warm. He took the bus across the city and walked the last steps down to the river. Half an hour later Wilson sat down next to him on the bench. "You are late.", House told him and gave him a beer.
"Sorry, dying patient. And my paperwork took forever", Wilson explained.
"Oh poor doctor. You should experience the problems of the working classes for a while."
Wilson chuckled. "Actually, I was late because I had to go to three stores to find your favorite sandwich", he handed him a brown bag.
"See, I work at the source. We never run out of beer", House explained.
"Because you always refill the fridge in time. House: the employee of the year! But I brought us a special treat today", he said and showed House a bottle of fine Scotch.
"What's the reason? You getting married again?", House wondered.
"You should know it better than me. Your parole expired today. Congratulations. You are officially a free man again."
House looked confused. "Hmm. Totally forgot."
Wilson looked surprised. "How could you forget this?"
House chuckled. "Don't worry. My parole officer reminded me this morning. Feels good."
They enjoyed their dinner and watched the river for a while. Sun set down and gave them a wonderful scenery. It was like in earlier times. At that moment they could have been still the two department heads sitting on their balconies out of their offices. But things had changed for the two men on the bench.
The younger one was "just" an oncologist in Trenton who skipped his clinic hours every time he could and was annoyed about too much paperwork. And the elder one, the smarter one worked at a little gas station and used his medical skills to help people there.
A hurricane had shattered House's life completely and it had taken him long enough to form a new life. He had lost many things and he didn't live the perfect life but still he was satisfied. Their friendship had survived and there was nothing more important for him. Same went for Wilson. Sometimes he would glance at his friend and think about it for a moment. House had lost so much. He had taken a trip to hell and back but he had still his genius and his dignity. They could never take away those from him.
House pondered about it every now and then. His life was not shattered to pieces anymore like the bottles he had broken all those years ago. He had picked up the pieces and glued them back together. There was still visible damage and it would never be the same but it was ok.
Yes, his obsession had killed a patient. He was still guilty for a death. But he had also saved a life back in prison when the young guard was about to die. And now he was helping people every day when they asked for his advice. People that couldn't afford a trip to the doctor. So maybe Peter Elliot had not died for nothing.
House looked at his friend right next to him and smirked.
"Did I ever tell you about the picture Cuddy sent me once?"
Thank you for reading!