It's so easy it's underwhelming. Once its electronic core is dead, all it takes to remove the anklet is a simple pair of cutters. The paperwork complete, House walks out a free man.

He goes home and changes; a table for two has long been booked at Princeton's finest French restaurant. The maƮtre asks whether they should wait for the other guest; House says he'll eat alone, but requests they leave the other half of the table set. The six-course degustation meal with matching wines is delicious, and all he needs to do is leave a tip since Wilson has payed in advance. On a whim, he gives the taxi driver not his home address but the PPTH one.

He walks into his office shortly after eleven. Everything is as usual, just quiet; 'James Wilson' is still written on the nearby door, as on a freshly carved stone hundreds of miles away, but there is no Wilson behind either.

House lies down on the Eames chair, grabs the labcoat-covered teddy bear, heavily stuffed with ashes, and holds it tight. Wilson's infarction hurts so much more than his own; freedom tastes as bitter as Vicodin, and is equally useless.