The perfect fit
"May I help you, sir?" The woman at the counter looked nice. Not like someone working at a state prison, anyway. She hung up the receiver, adjusted her police badge and directed all of her attention and a kind smile at an embarrassed Wilson not quite knowing what to do with his hands.
"Uh... er... Yes, I guess so." Wilson raised his brows. "Listen, officer... I take it you're keeping a friend of mine in here."
"You want to see your friend."
Wilson swallowed and raised his finger. "Yes, that's it. That's it. Thanks...?"
Fiona stood up and took some sheets from a drawer. She placed the forms on the counter and got a pen for Wilson.
"I need you to sign these, and leave your watch and pens and cellphone..."
"I'll just leave the entire briefcase."
"That'll be perfect."
Wilson grabbed the pen from the counter. His hand was shaking a bit. He dropped it back onto the counter and closed his eyes.
"Listen..." Fiona exhaled. "I see a lot of visitors. I know how it feels, to... uh... But you look different: you look normal. That doesn't mean you have to feel awkward."
"Yeah... I know. I guess."
"It's okay. You want to see someone who clearly did something bad. You still have the right to miss your friend."
Wilson furrowed his brows.
"I don't miss him." He turned from Fiona, pacing the room. "No, I miss him. I do. Like, a lot. But he... crossed the line, I guess. And I hate him. Damn, why am I even telling you." He turned back to Fiona.
"It's fine. You haven't visited since he got here, have you?"
"No... I couldn't."
"'Means you're normal. You have the right to be angry."
"You don't even know what he did."
"Did he kill someone?"
"No, for god's sake..."
"Well, he... it's complicated."
"He beat her. What's complicated about that?"
Fiona sat back. Wilson noticed a sincere concern betrayed by her features. She looked nice, and normal, and inquisitive in her own, compelling way.
"Then what happened?"
"He's my best friend. He's been my friend for... a long time."
"That I believe I knew already."
"He just... He's troubled. A lot. He tried to be happy, it even worked for a while. She was his savior, for many reasons. But he was just too much to deal with, in the end. And he can't tolerate failure. He drove his car into the wall of her living room, for some sick reason he doesn't even know. He fled the country, I didn't hear from him until he got arrested. I tried visiting, he refused, I never came back. It's been a year. And that's it." Overwhelmed by his compressed, slightly frantic recap of the facts, Wilson plopped down on a chair and took a long, deep breath.
"You're doctor House's friend."
Wilson stared at Fiona, wide-eyed. "You've got almost two thousand convicts. How on earth..."
"Well, that was huge. World famous doc, wasted his life like that. Real shame. He turned himself in, we didn't even have to handcuff him. He didn't hurt anyone, yet he looked at me as if he had just realized he was the worst piece of sh... well, I think he realized something bad about himself. Poor lad, must be pretty fucked up."
"Yeah... I guess he is."
"Yet, crazy son of a bitch."
Fiona stood up and took the form from Wilson's hands.
"Oh, damn. I'm sorry..."
"What? What is it?" Wilson checked the sheet. All looked fine.
"I've just realized today is Monday. I'm afraid you'll have to come back tomorrow. I thought you knew."
"Never cared about visiting before. Whatever. I'm sorry I bothered you." Wilson grabbed his briefcase and while crossing the threshold he felt his heart sinking just a bit deeper. So that was how wrong and badly synched they were. He missed House as much as he hated the man, and that made him so incredibly insecure: he needed to see him even just to yell at him how much of a sick bastard he had been. Yet, he felt like he knew the deeper, ill-fated reasons that had led House to the extreme: his friend was extreme in his own way, which could be either celestially good or inexorably twisted. Everything he did was extreme, everything he experienced was extreme: his pain, his job, his perception of life, his love for Cuddy. As hard as he was finding it to forgive him, and despite not being possibly ready yet, Wilson had formed a clear idea of why House had decided that since he didn't have anymore what he had given up his genius for – the only person who had loved him for what he was: a misfit, a failure in his soul and body –, then nothing mattered anymore.
House had never seen the magic inside him, the spark, the long for raising up and winning against life's worst: it was all too entangled and wrapped up in the superficial cover to be taken into serious account: what House did not know, was that the people around him had a clear perception of this feeble yet strenuous fire burning in his blue irises. That light was what people like Wilson and Cuddy had always followed: the lead to House's hidden, delicate soul. However, and much to Wilson's wishful thinking and famous naiveness, doing justice to his true self was not one of House's abilities: rotting in prison for some crazy shit was more true to his outer self than anything else. Wilson pushed the door.
"Hey, doctor Wilson."
He turned back. Fiona stood holding the receiver, smiling.
"You know what? I can make a call to my Captain, see if I can do something about that visit."
Wilson placed the briefcase back on the floor and took off his jacket.
She blushed a little and disappeared behind the back door to her office. The guard at the restricted area entrance smirked at Wilson.
"Dude, that was impressive. I've been trying to win her for a shitl... well, for years."
Wilson raised his brows.
"I probably just look pitiful."
"I'd ask her out. She's cool as f... uhm. She's nice. And sexy."
"Thanks for the tip." Wilson whispered unenthusiastically.
"What the hell is wrong with you? Meh." The guard adjusted his gun into the pouch and crossed his arms, checking the wall monitors perplexedly. Then, the door opened and Fiona came back, her smile now faded. Wilson stood up.
"What. What is it?"
She shook her head.
"I'm sorry. He's not here. Not anymore."
"How on god's green earth could you..."
The door slammed open, and a tall, thin man in a uniform walked in, furiously followed by Wilson.
"Sir, that was not a court order. He accepted a deal..."
"I don't care about your motherfucking deals, Captain!"
"How..." Wilson brought both hands to his head, pacing the room, while the Captain was sitting at his desk. Wilson quit walking and stood motionless, hands on his hips.
"How the hell is this supposed to work out? Now you tell me, because I frankly can't see..."
"He's going to be of better use. It was his decision."
"Damn his decisions! It was your responsibility to make him pay for what he did." Wilson turned back to the Captain, pointing his finger at him. "It was your fucking decision how he would do that."
"Turns out it's not, in fact."
"Oh, don't try and sell me your crap, Captain."
"Doctor Wilson, sit down. This is an order."
Wilson exhaled. He plopped down on a chair facing the Captain's desk.
"I'm not buying it, Captain. I can't possibly imagine..."
"Sir, the judge offered him a deal. He accepted it. We just kept him here throughout the whole thing, because we had him arrested in the first place. What happens in the courthouse is none of our business: we get people, we keep them locked up when a judge sends them to custody, we make the system work. We don't make decisions about our convicts. When they accept a deal, we let them go: parole, bail, stuff like that."
"Yes, goddamn army as well."
Wilson shook his head, his voice coming out in a whisper.
"Where is he now?"
"That, sir, I can't possibly know."
"He is... He can't survive whatever crap they'll put him through."
"They have standards he must meet, if they haven't sent him back to us already."
"No, listen... This is serious." Wilson entwined his hands, stare fixed into the Captain's. "He can't do this. Doctor House is handicapped. He can't move properly, walk stairs, run."
"He is a doctor. He's probably not firing guns or bombing places, or doing anything requiring physical skills."
"Jesus, Captain. Are you even a cop? They must have tests or something. He's not eligible!"
The Captain stood up and held out his hand to shake Wilson's. That meeting was clearly over.
"Thing is," he said, "House is the perfect fit. When you exchange jail time for service and you're the best doctor in the Country, there's no requirement you can not meet. He offered himself on a damn silver plate."
Wilson's grip on the Captain's hand just wore off like the effect of a useless pill. Wearily, the oncologist walked up to the door and grabbed the handle. The Captain's last comment hit him from behind.
"Doctor Wilson, your friend is not a criminal: he doesn't belong here."
But he's not normal. And he'll also get himself killed.
Again, and for the billionth time ever since he had walked for the first time those foreign, dangerous grounds, House was pushed down to the floor, flat on his stomach. A deafening blast was heard.
"All right, I'm crawling like a damn bug, is that fine?"
"Fine, doctor Hows."
"Now please get off me, Amir."
Amir rolled away from House's back and adjusted the shirt on his bandages. All around them, it was only the almost intolerable, whistling and whooshing noise of fighter jets opening cuts in the skies of Kandahar.
"Ayesha! Hey, Ayesha!" House's voice echoed in the silent, empty room. Then someone's strong indian accent came from underneath a bed.
"Doctor? Is there anything else I can..."
"No, it's all fine. Just checking on you. 'You all right?"
"Okay then. Come out. Let's try and get to the damn shelter."
Ayesha snuck out from underneath the bed. She was a twenty-something Indian nurse: curly-haired, dark eyes resembling those haitian pearls you buy once in life because they are too expensive. Shy, a little nerdy, brave like a soldier. Ayesha, House and Amir had taken all of House's patients to the shelter hours before. They had been planning something like that for ages, knowing that the Taliban rebels were going to be attacked from above in an attempt to set the city free again. Losing Kandahar could not happen: it was like losing the war.
Amir flashed a glance at Ayesha.
"You will be my first wife, and the most loved." He whispered.
"Shut up, Amir. I can't marry you. Too poor, and not even Hindu."
"I will convince you. You will fall for me."
"You said I'll be the first one! I don't wanna be the first one."
"I'm joking. You be the only."
"You are 19!"
"You 21, what the difference? Two years?"
"That is so not gonna happen."
Ayesha blushed and House could not avoid noticing. She liked Amir, and that was reciprocal. The boy was just a little too blunt for that delicate flower. Their foreplay had been going on for three months. House muttered his idea on the whole matter.
"You two, stop the banter. I'm getting diabetes here."
"Doctor House, tell her I'm a good man."
"He's a good man, Ayesha."
"You're welcome, Amir."
Ayesha didn't speak. She crawled up to House's left shoulder and got to his ear.
"We're out of shots for him. I need a refill of antibiotics here or the burns will get infected. And not only his."
House turned to her.
Ayesha reached the stairs and stood up.
"Come on. We need to check on the patients before heading to the ER. It's gonna be a mess over there."
She disappeared down the stairs, shortly followed by Amir. House grabbed the hand rail and tried keeping his grip steady, but suddenly the leg was pulsating in short-range stings. That was his private way of freaking out. In the middle of an air strike, when his hospital could be blown up entirely any time, when his patients silently prayed in a language he didn't know, when his stash of medicines was getting smaller and smaller from isolation... that was when it all got back at him. With a suppressed moan, he got to his feet and limped his way down the stairs. He needed to survive that damn air strike. For what, he did not know. But he felt like dying was not his first option at the moment. When he got downstairs, the pain was gone: he checked on the patients one by one, wishing the other doctors in the other shelters were as fine as he was, hoping this time no one would get killed. Then, he slid down on the floor and closed his eyes for a second.
"I'm gonna marry her, doc."
What the hell.
There was no need for House to check. Amir had just sat down by his side.
"What's with arranged marriages? Wasn't that how you people do it?"
"But we are a love match, doc!"
"Jeez, Amir. She's Indian. You're what... Pashtun?"
"Yeah, whatever. I thought you guys did not specialize in interracial marriages."
"I not care. I love her. We're the perfect fit."
"Right. You don't even go out."
Amir's eyes glistened.
House turned to him.
"Hey, look. I'm sorry. I just..."
"It's okay. I forgived you already."
"You forgave me already."
"I forgived you already."
"So, what are you going to do?"
"Proposal. I go to her dad, if he say no we run away to America."
"She's from an upper-class Mumbai family. And you're so broke, son."
"I not care. When war finish, I finish college, I become professor, I get rich."
House furrowed his brow.
"You went to college."
"I said when, not where."
"Two years ago."
House was now completely drawn into Amir's words.
"You weren't here two years ago?"
"My dad worked for new Government, he discussed economic aid with Indian people. For build roads, hospitals, open schools back. We lived there since 2001. Ten years, doc!"
"I didn't know that, Amir."
"I was good in school, they accepted me before time."
"Then, we came back last year, and they set the house to fire and my parents died."
"Guess I know that."
Someone had killed Amir's parents because they were involved in the reconstruction. So far, so good. House had never knew anything about Amir's burns except that three months earlier he had pulled him in from the arms of an upset Jordan, through the doors of the ER. Amir was in pretty bad shape, but the fire had not reached his bedroom and he had gotten burned while trying to escape. Not enough to be fatal.
"What did you study?"
"It is. I'm gonna marry her, doc."
A bang, and the lights went out.