To live again

Abstract: House is struggling with some previously unacknowledged personal issues after being released from prison. But maybe he's not really as alone as he seems to think he is.

Timeframe: This is set after the third episode of season 8.

The usual disclaimers apply – nothing here is mine.

Chapter 1

Dr. Gregory House, medicine-man extraordinaire, never wrong about patients and human beings in general, hard-ass, bastard, not giving a crap about anyone, ever. Really. Pushing away from the rail above the large entrance hall of the hospital he scowled bitterly to himself.

What the fuck got into him to 'save' Thirteen? And just when things started to look up for a change – he got Wilson's reluctant friendship back, his office, the patient-puzzle was solved, thus proving again that altruism was nothing more than a symptom... in short, life was beginning to be, well, livable again. So, why send Thirteen on her way just as he got her to take his bait and come back? The previous train of thought returned, playing like an annoying mantra in his head '...hard-ass, bastard, not giving a crap about anyone...'. Right. No problem then. With this he could live, he had for a long time now. And if he chose to ignore the fact that sending Thirteen on her way and into her girlfriend's waiting arms was essentially an altruistic act, who could blame him? It must have been just a computer error, a neuron misfiring, a side effect of...something.

Unlocking his apartment door with a tired sigh he gave up trying to find a suitable rationalization. Uh, explanation. He had, after all, other means to stop the thinking and keep his self-image intact. Getting out of prison must be celebratory enough to break out the 15 years old bottle of scotch, for sure.

He realized the error of his ways much too late - the scotch was in fact the worst possible solution. A long time without alcohol lowered his tolerance level drastically, he thought as he swirled the brown liquid around in his only third glass of the evening. And, apparently, by some unwanted miracle, the previously reliable combination of alcohol and Vicodin brought up everything he really didn't want to think about. No euphoria, no numbness, no un-clarity, nothing. Just clear, cold, sharp bits of thought that he just couldn't push away anymore. Fuck. Somebody up there must really hate him.

Guitar, blaring stereo, even idiotic TV shows – he would try anything, anything to stop his mind from firing. Of course, nothing worked, the sharp painful arrows of thought continuing to drill through his brain. Maybe it's karma. Another one. 'Get the hell out of my head, Wilson, you had no problem getting out of my life'. Aaa, and there's a big one. House knew very well how bad his screw-up was, knew he had to be punished, which is why he refused a lawyer and went to prison. Rationally he knew it was bound to alienate everybody, hell, he had enough time to think about that. The problem was that reason was one thing and emotions another. So, yeah, maybe the 'not giving a crap about anyone' part was bull. The mask he always wore was just that, a mask. Not that he was a big soft teddy-bear underneath, but he wasn't a hard-ass 'I don't need anybody' either. Somehow, stupidly, he expected certain people to see through that, to see him, even with all the smoke-screens he threw. Well, wasn't that a failure. Cuddy turned around and left him at the first screw-up, and that was still painful. Maybe he wasn't in love with her anymore, 'and thank God for that', but the rejection still stung deeply. After everything, after all the 'I know you and I don't want you to change' talks, she left and didn't once look back. That easy. And Wilson...his best friend, his only friend really, not one visit, not one phone call, nothing. It's like House didn't exist anymore. Again, that easy. Foreman, Chase, Taub...maybe they weren't exactly friends, but still... And Thirteen, another punch to the gut. A bigger, fresher one this time, momentarily cutting the air to his lungs and making his fists clench. While she wasn't a 'let's-go-to-the-ball-game-together' kind of a friend, House always felt some sort of a connection with her. Like she was somebody who could read him better than most, somebody who understood.

The road trip from after she got out of prison, the few drunken late-night talks a while after that - he thought, again stupidly, that she felt the connection too. But she also left without looking back, more than once, actually. He didn't blame her for today, hell, he was the one to send her away and he was really... pleased for her. Yeah, she deserved a little happiness, and if sending her away didn't sit well with his self-image, well, he'd have to live with that. He resolutely ignored the painful tightening in his heart at the thought of how...expendable he really was to her and all the others. Fuck them, fuck them all, he didn't need anybody and didn't care about anybody, right? Right.