Chapter Four

Jesse was already rethinking the offer he'd made, or rather the offer he'd deduced, by the time he and House arrived at the doctor's apartment. This all seemed way too easy, or way too weird, or some bizarre combination of the two. Not that "weird" was new for him; after all, ever since Mr. White had walked into his life, everything had been turned upside down and there hadn't been time and he hadn't had the ability to set it right again. There had been moments when things felt okay – Jane, things had felt okay with Jane – but that had fallen to hell too, because of him.

House was beginning to rethink the deal, too. As much as House hadn't ever shied away from risky or reckless behavior, this may have been setting some sort of new standard. After all, Jesse – if that was even his real name – had admitted to killing a man. He'd admitted to being a drug manufacturer. Even if he could help House with his addiction – that was, in keeping it going – it might just be way too much of a risk. If Jesse decided to knock House over and rob him blind, after all, what was House going to do to stop it?

But there wasn't much time to go back, which went it was pointless to dwell and rethink. House fished his key out of his pocket and unlocked his door, ushering Jesse inside.

In a way, as much as it was reckless, it was kind of exciting. Like being in an old Western – he could picture Jesse's photograph plastered in a poster at the post office, or maybe the Princeton Police Station, with "WANTED" written across it, with a beige tint to the whole thing. And any moment, the sheriff – maybe that asshole Tritter, if he was still snooping around – would come through the swinging doors with a gun and demand that Jesse put his hands in the air, because the town wasn't big enough for the both of them… which would lead to House making some kind of quip regarding Tritter's weight.

As awkward as it was to have his thoughts drift over to his old nemesis, it seemed more comforting than thinking about why he had invited this ne'er-do-well into his home. Was he just that lonely? Or was there some other reason?

House brushed it to the back of his mind. Forget it. If I wanted to analyze myself, I'd call Wilson.

"Welcome to the Casa… de Casa," House quipped dryly. "You can sleep on my couch. If you try and steal anything, I'll beat you over the head with my cane." The threat had no force behind it, and Jesse chuckled darkly.

"I don't steal, actually," he replied.

"But you're a drug dealer and a murderer… but you don't steal," House qualified, and Jesse shrugged.

"You're the one who wants my services. You're a drug addict, apparently – and, fuck it, so am I. I did the rehab thing."

"Oh? That's nice," House replied blandly. "So did I."

"Worked about as well for you?" Jesse asked, and House shrugged. "They tell you to… accept, but how can you accept when you do something horrible? When you destroy everything that's worth anything at all. When a life is on your hands."

House wished he couldn't relate, wanted to tell himself that he couldn't relate to this kid's words, but his mind kept piping away the name, Amber, Amber, Amber.

The name that had haunted him, had taken wing in hallucinations and accused him, reminded him of the part he played. Was that really so different than what Jesse had done?

"Life is on my hands in my job all the time," House said instead. There was no way that he wanted Jesse rooting around in his mind, even if he'd dressed in up in half-truths like he had with Eve that one time. He couldn't shake the feeling that Jesse would see right through to whatever he had really meant to say, so better not to tell him anything. Better, instead, to just figure this out and get what he needed, before getting Jesse Pinkman on his way and forever out of his life.

After all, that's what would be best for Pinkman, too, wouldn't it? Nothing good tended to come from any long-term involvement with Greg House.

Again the voice in his head whispered, Amber.

He hushed it by offering Jesse a drink, which the young man declined.

"I just… want to sit down and chill out, I guess," he explained. "I've been… I don't know. Not using and I can't sit still. I don't think drinking's good for me right now."

"And dehydration is?" House retorted. "I'll get you a glass of water." Jesse shrugged, and House made his way, cane alongside foot, to the kitchen while Jesse took a seat on the couch.

"This is all kinda weird," Jesse called from his spot. "I'm still not quite understanding this. But… that's okay, as long as I have somewhere to sleep." He laughed nervously. "I guess I'm still not convinced you don't want sex in exchange for letting me stay here. I mean you're kind of old and…"

"You're kind of hot?" House retorted, returning with a glass of water. "Tragically, my heart belongs to another. But thanks for playing. Keep mentioning it and I might suspect that you want that kind of trade." Jesse screwed his nose up.

"Um, no thanks," he replied as he reached out and took the water, bringing it to his lips and slowly taking a drink as his hands shook. "God, I need crystal. I need my life to be simple… and somewhere else. Fuck, I need anything… I don't know." He looked up at House. "What do you need?" House shrugged and moved to sit down next to Jesse on the couch. He moved uncomfortably close, getting a childish kick out of watching the younger man gaze at him nervously.

"I need things to be complicated," he replied simply. "So I guess you're fucked."