Yep, another new story. :) This takes place post-season 6 finale...my version of how things should end. As usual, I don't own anything but my precious O/Cs.
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House looked around his office one last time as he packed up his personal effects. He had been employed here longer than he had been anywhere else, thanks in part to Cuddy. Now he was leaving it all behind him. Ever since Wilson had rekindled things with his first ex-wife, House felt more alone than ever. It seemed as good a time as any to leave this place and move on. Where that was, House wasn't sure just yet. He just knew that Princeton no longer felt like home.
There was a knock on his office door, and he glanced up to see Wilson on the other side of the door. House waved him in.
Wilson looked around the room, his hands in his pants pockets. "So, this is it, huh?"
"Yep." House tossed his ball up and down a couple of times before tossing it to Wilson.
"Got any plans?" Wilson quickly caught the ball and threw it back to House.
"Not yet." House answered, throwing the ball back to Wilson one more time. "Keep the ball."
Wilson looked baffled. "Why? Not like you're going anywhere, right?"
House threw Wilson an irritated look. "I don't want anyone else to get their hands on the ball. Have you seen how Foreman eyes that thing? Creepy, if you ask me."
He tucked the box under his arm and started toward the door, Wilson not far behind.
"Are you okay?" Wilson asked in a concerned tone. "If you're having a hard time at your own apartment…"
"I'm not." House responded sharply, pushing the elevator button with the tip of his cane.
"Then what is it?" Wilson asked him. "What would drive you to leave? You've got no plan, nothing. What's going on?"
House glared at Wilson, already tired of his friend's line of questioning. "This is why I'm leaving. I don't need you up my ass all the damn time." He stepped onto the elevator, somewhat pained at the hurt expression on Wilson's face. "See you around, Wilson."
The elevator doors closed, and House let out a long sigh. Wilson was right. He didn't have a game plan. He had simply given notice to Cuddy, who had rolled her eyes in response. A fair reaction, given the number of times House had told her he was leaving in the past. She was surprised, to say the least, that this time he was serious. Goodbye to Princeton and the hospital, and hello to whatever might come next.
He was a free man now, he thought to himself as he strode through the lobby doors one last time. It was a warm spring day, perfect weather for a long ride on his bike.
He smiled a little at the idea. Maybe an extended road trip was just what he needed. The destination didn't matter, only the journey. It was something he hadn't done in many years, not since his pre-infarction days. Now he had nothing holding him back. He could ride as if there was no tomorrow.
It was a nice fantasy, but when his leg cramped as he tossed the box into the back seat of his car, House had to question the wisdom of the idea. No matter, he decided. He would find a way to make it happen. It had to be better than hanging around this place.
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House had been on the road for a couple of days, stopping every night at the cheapest motels he could find, as far off the beaten path as possible.
He wasn't exactly sure how far he had traveled. The last road sign he saw placed him somewhere in South Carolina. Or maybe it was Tennessee. Whatever. He was far away from Princeton, and that was all that really mattered right now.
The bike vibrated under him as he changed gears, leaning into the curves of the road. It was getting dark, and he knew he should have stopped at the last motel he spotted about twenty miles back.
It was too late for that now. There was bound to be another roadside dump before too long. House would just keep going until then.
Suddenly the bike jerked, the engine spluttering as it stated to die. House attempted to steer the machine to side of the road before the thing fell over on him.
He managed to hit the gravel shoulder just as the engine stalled, and House tried to restart the bike with no success.
"Dammit." House grumbled. This wasn't at all what he had in mind when he started this little road trip. He pulled out his cell phone and flipped it open, managing to get a weak signal.
Not that it mattered. Who the hell was he going to call? He huffed in frustration and tried to start the bike one more time.
The engine turned over, but refused to catch. House huffed in frustration and dragged his leg over the back of the seat, still unsure of his next move.
A bright light swept past him, but it passed before House could flag it down. A few minutes later, he spotted another bright light. The lights slowed down, passing by before pulling over to the side of the road just in front of House's bike.
Someone hopped down out of the vehicle, and House could just make out the outline of the pickup truck in the growing darkness and the figure that was awkwardly walking toward him.
"Havin' some trouble, sir?" The male voice twanged.
"Bike won't start." House was suspicious. Anything could happen to him out here. It paid to be careful.
"Mind if I take a look?"
"Sure." House shrugged, and the man returned to his truck, pulling a tool box and a long object out of the storage bin attached to the bed. He bent down next to the bike and pushed something on the long object.
House realized that it was a flashlight, one that was heavy enough to be used as a weapon. The man turned to House and waved him over. "Need you to hold this a sec."
House limped over and took the flashlight, feeling the weight in his hands. At least he was armed now if things got ugly.
The man started examining the engine, wiggling a few wires and shaking his head. "Don't see nothin' right off. Sorry."
House shrugged. He hadn't really expected much of anything. At least the man had bothered to stop. "Thanks anyway."
"No problem." The man rose and wiped his hands off on his jeans before extending a hand to House. "Name's Rob."
"Greg." House warily gripped Rob's hand in a firm handshake.
Rob gestured to the truck. "We can put your bike in the back. There's bound to be someone in town that can work on it in the mornin'." He gave House a questioning look. "I know you're not from around here. Where're you from?"
"Rode down from Jersey." House answered him.
"You got a place to stay?"
"I hadn't gotten that far." House admitted, thinking about the motel he had passed.
Rob nodded. "Well, I can either run you up to that motel a few miles back, or you can come crash at my place. Up to you. Might be easier to get into town tomorrow if you stay with me."
House was still suspicious. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I think I hear banjos."
Rob laughed and shook his head. "You don't have nothin' to worry about with me. Straight as an arrow."
"Good to know." House nodded as he considered his options. He still couldn't quite believe what this stranger was offering. If Rob knew House at all, he never would have made the offer. Finally he shrugged. "Guess I'll come back with you."
Rob nodded and gestured toward the truck. "Roll that thing over here, and we'll heave it into the truck. Got some tiedowns in the back."
House wasn't sure how he was going to get his bike into the truck bed, but pushed his bike over there anyway. Rob gave him a puzzled look. "You hurt?"
"Old injury." House answered, not wanting to go into detail. "No big."
Rob gave him a skeptical look, but said nothing else as he took hold of the bike. "On three."
He counted, and the two of them managed to get the bike into the truck bed. Rob pushed himself into the bed with a grunt and bent down to tie down the bike.
House gestured to the bike. "Need that cane that's clipped to the side."
Rob felt around for the cane, quickly popping it out and bringing it with him as he made his way down from the truck bed. "There ya go. Ready now?"
House nodded, hitching his backpack over his shoulder, and the men climbed into the small truck. When Rob started the truck, House's ears were assaulted by the sounds of screaming guitar and a warbling voice.
"Sorry 'bout that." Rob laughed nervously as he turned down the radio. "Guess it was a little louder than I thought."
"Not that big a deal." House answered as he dug a prescription bottle out of the front pocket of his backpack.
Rob noticed, gesturing toward the small extended cab on the back. "Got a whole case of water back there if you need one."
Normally House wouldn't have bothered, having honed his pill-popping skills over a decade. However, it had been a long day of riding, and it had been a long damned time since his last food and drink stop. He grabbed a bottle from behind him and drank half of it in one shot after taking a couple of his meds. "Thanks."
"No problem, man." They drove down the road in silence, Rob occasionally humming along with the radio until he turned down a gravel road that led to a small house where the road dead ended.
The floodlight over the garage flashed on as soon as Rob pulled up, and a dog started barking, joined by another. "Don't worry 'bout the dogs. They're friendly. They just like to make a hell of a lot of noise."
House eased out of the truck and followed Rob up the short flight of wooden steps that led to a small porch. The dogs were now scratching and whining at the door as Rob opened it.
"Elsa, Baxter, enough!" Rob barked as they entered, and both dogs calmed down, pushing their noses into Rob's hands and wagging their tails. "That's it. Good job." He grabbed a box of Milk Bones from a nearby counter and took out two, giving one to each dog.
The dogs eagerly gobbled their treats and trotted out of the kitchen, leaving the two men alone. "You hungry?"
House already felt as if he were imposing enough. "More tired than anything else."
Rob nodded and gestured for House to follow him. He led House through the kitchen, into the living room, and down a hallway. "Bedroom's right there, bathroom's across the hall. You need anything, just sing out."
"Thanks." House nodded as he entered the small room, simply furnished with a full size bed, a dresser, and a nightstand with a digital alarm clock. "Looks like this room already belongs to someone."
Rob grinned a little. "Yeah. It belongs to you tonight."
"Right." House was skeptical. He didn't want to put the guy out of his own bed.
"Serious." Rob told him firmly. "The room's all yours. See you in the mornin'."
Rob closed the door behind him, leaving House alone. House tossed his backpack on the bed, digging through it for his sleep pants and changing into them.
He emptied out his pockets, briefly glancing at his cell phone before tossing it on the nightstand. Even if he were able to get a good signal out here in BFE, chances were good no one was trying to contact him anyway.
House turned out the overhead light and climbed into the bed. Hopefully he'd be able to get his bike fixed in the morning, and he'd be on his way. Where that was, he wasn't sure. Right now, he was so tired that it didn't matter. He'd figure that out tomorrow.
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