"Gypsy of a strange and distant time

Travelling in a panic, all direction blind
Aching for the warmth of a burning sun
Freezing in the emptiness of where he'd come from
Left without a hope of coming home"

"Gypsy" – Justin Hayward – To Our Children's Children's Children

Tap. Tap. Tap.

"It must be nice for you, having such a… devoted friend. If you can find it in your heart to care about him at all, you should probably drop by and pay him a visit. Now."

Never had evening traffic moved so slow in his entire life. House finally resorted to weaving the bike in and out between vehicles, causing obscenities and horns to be directed at him. Didn't matter. All he could hear was the cold amusement of Tritter's voice behind Wilson's caller ID, the thud, the muffled sound of the cop washing up as House screamed into the phone. He heard all of that, plus the loud thud of his own heartbeat, felt the sudden craving for Vicodin, the screaming pain in his leg.

As much as he'd fucked up this friendship, this warped, twisted version of whatever-it-was that Wilson and he shared, he was not about to let it go. He'd meant it when he'd said he didn't want to break what they had. Problem was, Tritter was making sure that it was broken anyway.

The sound of screeching brakes brought him momentarily to the present and the task at hand – getting to Wilson's hotel room in one piece.

"Hey, asswipe, watch where the hell you're going!"

"Oh, go fuck yourself," House muttered, extending one long middle finger to the irate driver before changing lanes again. To his relief the hotel loomed into sight; he parked the bike on the sidewalk and shoved a twenty into the hand of the annoyed doorman before limp-hopping with his cane into the foyer, then up the elevator to Wilson's floor.

Nothing, though, prepared him for the sight that lay before him after he barged into Wilson's room. For a moment he froze, unable to even breathe.

Wilson. Don't panic. Move.


"Wilson!"

He drew up further into himself, shielding himself from further onslaught. No more. No more. Hands touched him and he flailed against them, the beginnings of a scream lodging in his throat.

"Wilson, it's me, House. For God's sake!"

Warmth of a blanket being pulled over him; he clawed and buried himself under it.

"Wilson, please…"

The touch was very light this time, a gentle hand grasping his shoulder. He shivered, allowing the hand to softly pat him. Not… hurting.

"James?"

Can't look. Might be… can't look.

The hand moved to slide under the blanket and smooth his hair. "James, it's House."

House? House was never nice. House was abrasive and cold and unfeeling. Certainly not…

"House?" A whisper. No, it was a scream, judging by the way that the hand grasped him more firmly and held him down.

"Stop it, Wilson, stop before you hurt yourself. Dammit, where's a good right leg when I need it the most?"

Might hurt House. Suddenly he stilled, feeling his breath go in and out in great, shuddering gasps. "Greg?"

"Yeah."

"Is he… gone?"

"Yeah." This time there was an undercurrent of anger, causing a ripple of fear to go through Wilson. He started to shrink away, only to have House pull him back, his hands bracing Wilson hard against him.

"Oh God, House, he…" At that point James Wilson finally caved in and began to sob, not seeing the look of cold fury in House's eyes.


Wilson refused to go to a hospital. That came as no surprise to House, given the fact that the two were well known at both Princeton hospitals. Finally he got Wilson to agree to at least move back over to House's apartment.

Actually, more like strong-armed, House thought ruefully as he called a cab for his friend. He hated doing that to Wilson, but right now the other man was in enough shock to at least let House guide him to a more secure and comfortable place of refuge. All Wilson had was a suitcase full of clothing and toiletries, which House set in the cab next to Wilson before giving the driver a few short instructions. He'd follow on the bike. If other drivers got in his way he'd make sure they'd wish they hadn't.

Once inside Wilson appeared to relax, although his eyes were darting side-to-side, as if he was unsure whether or not he'd be comfortable at House's. House watched Wilson as he suddenly turned and walked into the bathroom, mumbling something about a shower.

"Hey, you know better than that," House chided his friend. Wilson merely ignored him and reached down to turn on the shower faucet. Immediately House pulled him away, shaking his head. "I need to examine you first," he said firmly. Wilson clenched his jaw and shook his head.

"I'll pass on that," he muttered, his fingers fumbling with the buttons on his shirt. House let out an exasperated sigh, grasped his friend by the forearm and began leading him out of the bathroom to his bedroom. "Hey, don't I get a say in this?"

"Nope." House reached for the ratty-looking bathrobe hanging on a hook behind his bedroom door and tossed it onto the bed. "Change into that. I'll look you over, then you can shower or whatever." At Wilson's glare he added, "Dammit, you're a doctor. You know the score."

"Doesn't mean I have to like it," was Wilson's reply as he reluctantly unbuttoned his shirt. "And if your next suggestion is that I should go to the authorities, save your breath. Capisce?"

House rolled his eyes, then nodded and turned to limp out of the room to go off in search of medical supplies.

If it was the last damn thing he ever did he'd get that motherfucking Tritter.


"I don't know what I'm searching for
I never have opened the door
Tomorrow might find me at last
Turning my back on the past

But time will tell of stars that fell
A million years ago
Memories can never take you back
Home, sweet home
You can never go home anymore."

"You Can Never Go Home Anymore" – Justin Hayward – Every Good Boy Deserves Favour

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Thud.

Later that night the soft cry brought House out of where he'd been dozing on his sofa, his leg nearly giving way as he struggled to his feet. He hop-limped as fast as he could down the hall and into his bedroom, where he found Wilson sitting upright, gasping for air, tears streaking down his cheeks. House took one long look, did a rapid assessment and found himself doing something uncharacteristic, about as un-Houselike as it was possible to be.

Cautiously he sat on the edge of the bed, then reached out to smooth Wilson's hair, murmuring in a soft tone. Never mind his own heart was hammering a hundred miles a minute; never mind that the look of terror in Wilson's eyes was enough to trigger blind rage. He took a deep breath and squelched it. For now.

Eventually Wilson quieted, his eyes drooping with exhaustion. "Thanks," he muttered raggedly. "Damn."

"Yeah."

Wilson eased himself out of bed and left for the bathroom, while House stared down at his hands, realizing they were trembling at about the same rate as his heartbeat. Now that the anger had taken a little vacation he realized he didn't want to leave Wilson alone. Couldn't have him waking the building screaming like that again, he reasoned with himself, deciding that discretion was the better part of valor with regards to examining other motives.

Of course, Tritter's little stunt would make those motives take a hike, he thought glumly. He then winced when he realized just how fucking selfish that truly sounded. Whether or not he wanted to nail his best friend no longer mattered. Hell, Wilson would probably run screaming at the idea, especially since … Fuck.

"Uh, House?" He blinked himself to the present just in time to see Wilson pulling the blankets up to his chin, giving his friend a puzzled look. "Sorry. Just fantasizing how my fingers would feel wrapped around Tritter's throat." Well, at least that wasn't entirely a lie. "Damned if at the end all I could see were black iron bars."

"Inconvenient," Wilson commented dryly. House took a deep breath, let it out on a long sigh, started to open his mouth, hesitated until finally his friend added, "House, for fuck's sake, would you please tell me what it is you're trying not to tell me?"

"I, uh. Oh, hell," House muttered as he pulled back the sheets on the unslept-in side of the bed and crawled in. "You shouldn't be alone. Don't need to bring the damned building down and it's hard on my leg to play Superman and fly down the hall when you freak out."

"I appreciate your touching concern for my well-being," Wilson replied with a snort.

"Don't get too excited. This is a one-off kinda deal."

"Uh, huh."


I'm hanging out my heart to dry for the last time
I'll tell you the reason why for the last time
Laid-back, uptown turnaround people lie
Laid-back, uptown turnaround people wear disguises
Sorry, that's a word they only use too late
Sorry is a word that only ever means forgive my yesterdays…

"Sorry" – Ray Thomas – The Present

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Thud.

Drag.

It came to no surprise to find Wilson gone when House woke up the next morning. Wilson's belongings were still there, so at least he hadn't moved back out while his friend was sleeping. He could only surmise that Wilson had hurried off to work, and the discovery of a note stating so put him somewhat at rest.

It did come to somewhat of a surprise, though, to find out that Wilson was avoiding him. As the weeks passed Wilson would mumble something about being busy, then scurry off to whatever it was he claimed he was being busy with. And each time House grew more and more suspicious that there was more going on than he was aware of. Wilson had no trouble crawling into bed with him at night, though. It was all House could do to keep from pulling Wilson to him and showing him that everything was going to be fine. Instead, he didn't push the matter, afraid that Wilson would take the initiative to move out, or, worse yet, go looking for Wife Number Four.

So he endured, finally caving into the Vicodin and getting to sleep.

Until the Saturday morning several weeks later when House woke up to find Wilson spooned around him, his nascent erection pushing against House's backside. House being House, words tumbled out of his mouth before he had a chance to stop them.

"Morning glory, Wilson?"

"House?" Wilson's drowsy reply was more nonchalant than he expected.

"Yes, dear?"

"Go fuck yourself."

"Not exactly the kind of fucking I had in mind."

There it was. Said, and out in the open, House realized, waiting for Wilson to back off, make a joke, do anything other than what he did next, which was to tip House's head towards his and press their lips together. House paused, waited for the flight or fight reaction, found it absent, rolled onto his back and pulled Wilson on top of him, all within about two seconds.

"Finally," he breathed, groaning when Wilson's erection glided along his. Wilson echoed the moan and thrust again.

"I'd say… we're… overdue," he gasped out, his lips just brushing against House's.

"That why… you've been avoiding me?"

"Not exactly."

"Define… 'not exactly'."

"Well, think about it."

"You mean… Tritter, of course. I can't stop thinking about it," House muttered, gently rubbing Wilson's spine, savoring the feel of the muscles rippling along his lover's back.

"I've been wanting you for a long time, House. But…"

"Tritter."

"Yeah."

Suddenly Wilson thrust against him again and he groaned. Loudly.

"I don't want him to win, House."

"Don't… don't let him win."

"House?"

"Yeah?" God damn, things were getting messy and wet as precum made their cocks slide against each other nicely. Yeah, definitely overdue. But…

"Less talking."

"I feel like I'm … taking … advantage…"

At that Wilson paused, let out a gusty sigh and dropped his head to rest against House's shoulder. "I started this," he muttered. "You're not taking advantage of me. But," another sigh escaped him, "there are things I probably won't be able to do. At least for a while. Can you live with that?"

"Wilson?"

Wilson lifted his head to gaze into House's eyes, then cried out when House reached down and grasped both of their erections together.

"What was it you said?"

"Less talking."

"Then LESS TALKING. More of this. For you I'll wait as long as it takes."

"God, you sound just like a girl."

"Does … this," Wilson trembled when House gave a slight twist at the heads of their cocks, "feel like a girl handling you?"

"Fuck, no."

Afterwards, still sticky with sweat and cum, they lay wrapped around each other, Wilson clinging, House's grip more protective than he ever thought possible. He had this man now, he thought grimly, forcing himself to relax. He supposed he owed Tritter that much, at the least.

Of course, what it was he owed him was another issue entirely. Fortunately Wilson's face was buried in his neck, or he would have seen the sudden, unholy glimmer in House's eyes to match the equally unpleasant smile that began spreading across his features.


Tap. Tap. Tap.

Thud.

Drag.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

"Then the tide rushes in and washes my castles away
Then I'm really not so sure which side of the bed I should lay."

"And The Tide Rushes In" – Ray Thomas – A Question of Balance

Sometimes it's the little things that tip a person over the edge. In House's case, it was one more nightmare, one more whimper, one more voice sobbing in the darkness which became the straw that broke the camel's back.

It had been so easy, House thought ruefully as he shut his cell phone. One little phone call. True, the man on the other end had sounded groggy – who wouldn't at two in the morning? Still, once House explained the situation he'd come to alertness surprisingly quick.

During the entire call he'd not taken his eyes off his lover, who was sitting calmly, his expression relaxed, as if they'd just ordered Chinese food or pranked Cuddy.

"Amazing what one little phone call can accomplish," Wilson said softly.

"All it takes is the right connection."

"Now what?"

"We wait."


Tap. Tap. Tap.

Arms pulled up his back, just short of being out of their sockets.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

"Cold-hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colour from our sight
Red is gray, and yellow white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion."

"Late Lament" – Graeme Edge – Days of Future Passed

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

He looked up from his position on the concrete floor, watching the tip of the cane bounce slowly up and down, in time with a soft distant drip of water. You fucking idiot, he raged to himself, trying to twist himself free, only to feel his left arm snap. He would have screamed if not for the duct tape across his mouth.

"Now be a good cop," Bill Arnello crooned in his ear. "I can make this go quick, or slow. Trust me, you want quick."

"Mostly." House's agreeable voice came from within the darkness. "Mostly quick. You know which part I want slow. Right, Wilson?"

Wilson emerged from the dark and knelt next to Tritter, grasping the cop's battered face in his hands. "Look at me, Tritter. You…" He could feel Wilson's hands tremble, but not with fear. No, the look in the man's eyes was pure hate. "You took something away from me that I may never get back."

"You will, Wilson. You don't want the fucker to win after he's dead, do you?"

Wilson released him, rose back up, then stepped back into the darkness, where all Tritter could see was the shine on the oncologist's dress shoes, and the pair of Nike Shox that he knew led up to his worst nightmare. Then, there was that damned fucking cane, tapping slowly. Up. Down. Up. Down. He wanted to scream at House to stop tapping it.

"You, Detective Tritter, are going to confess to everything. In writing." House's voice sounded eerily calm. "In fact…" A gloved hand laid a print-out in front of him on what Tritter then noticed was a clear drop-cloth. "Sign it."

Tritter shook his head, then struggled with a scream as he felt Arnello break his left pinky finger.

"One by one, Tritter. Slow or fast. Decide. Now."

He felt the grip loosen slightly on his right wrist, then drag his arm forward. Arnello placed a pen in his shaky grip, then leaned over to smile at him. "Such a good, good cop. You may get out of this quickly after all. Now, sign it."

Tears finally rolling down his face, Tritter signed it, then let his head sag to the floor as the same gloved hand whisked the paper and pen away.

"Now, Doctor House?"

"Now, Mr. Arnello. Just remember, I want trophies."


Tap. Tap. Tap.

Muffled scream.

Silence.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

By Monday the word went out that Michael Tritter was missing. At the end of the week it was concluded that there was no finding him anywhere. There were rumors that he'd written a confession of his wrongdoings, then left the country. As Chase told him, with any kind of luck the man would stay gone and not bother any of them anymore.

Although, House mused as he sat with his feet up on his desk, if the detectives who had questioned him had bothered to really look around they may have gotten a clue. As it was, they failed to notice the jar with two items preserved in formaldehyde that resided on the top of his shelf.

If nothing else, House could say that he finally had Michael Tritter by the balls.