A/N - Set between the third and fourth episodes of season 8, contains spoilers up to episode 3.
"Thirteen's gone," House announced as he slumped onto one of Foreman's expensive couches in his plush office. "I fired her."
"You can't fire someone who didn't actually work for you, House. I don't know how often I have to tell you this but you have one employee, Doctor Park, and you only have her until her hearing."
House pulled a shocked face. "Why Foreman, I thought you knew, we have presumption of innocence in America, I don't know how they do things in Africa..."
"And if she has no case to answer she goes back to Neuro." Foreman ignored the jibe, thinking that those seven years practice were holding him in good stead now.
"She wants to work in diagnostics. Why did you get me out of jail if you weren't going to give me a team so I can do my job? I feel very unloved, Foreman, all those years in diagnostics with you pining after me, we had chemistry together, you and I, I thought you'd treat me better..."
Foreman sighed and put down the piece of paper he'd been trying to read. "I got you out of jail to save Wilson's patient. That's it House, there's no team, there's no money in the budget for a team. You want one, you work it out."
House stared at him, with that expression he got when he was figuring things out, and the pieces were falling into place.
"That's what you want. You want me to have a team because you know that's how I work best, but you can't get me the money."
"No bank robberies, no kidnapping, no drugging of anyone in the Forbes 400..."
"I could pimp Park out, no, too short, it would have to be Adams, she has the right shoes..."
"I could have had the money. If it was okay for Wilson to take the guy's kidney I could have had a lousy million bucks. Then all your troubles would be over."
"Wilson didn't get 'the guy's kidney', as you know. And they're not my troubles, I have plenty of staff, a good salary and a large office. Why don't you ask your patient now for a contribution, he's mentally sound, I'm sure he would be delighted to help you out, if you ask nicely."
"Too late, he woke up and found greed like the rest of humanity. Just as well he took a turn for the worse and they didn't take his kidney while he was still being Mr Generous."
"Yes, that was a very convenient downturn in the patient's condition," Foreman said with a straight face.
"If he hadn't there would be lawyers involved by now." House shot back, getting to his feet.
House bounced his cane up and down a couple of times and then started pacing around the office, poking at the furniture with his cane and fingering all of Foreman's expensive decorative pieces.
"Why did you agree to the kidney donation? I thought you were all about ethics, well, except for when it comes to drug trials, and African dictators."
Foreman flinched internally at the mention of Dibala, he'd come to terms with his interference in Remy's drug trial, but helping Chase cover up his murder was one thing Foreman could never live comfortably with. Outwardly he kept his composure, it wouldn't do for House to see he'd struck a nerve.
"There was no evidence at the time to suggest that your patient wasn't in a competent mental state and able to make the decision. Wilson's patient needed a kidney urgently..."
"You got me out of jail because Wilson's patient was dying and needed a new lung, and the first case I get after that Wilson's looking for one of his kidneys. Did he become a spare parts dealer while I was away?"
"You make it sound like you were on a vacation, House. You fled the country for three months and then spent ten months in jail. Things happened while you were 'away', people change."
"No, they don't. You haven't changed, you're still the same boring guy you always were, but now with added office accessories. Wilson hasn't changed. He's just become obsessed with harvesting organs for his patients. Surprised he didn't give the guy his own kidney when he couldn't get Mr Altruistic's. Wilson's always been touchy feely with his patients, but he's never been win-at-all-costs. He told me that I couldn't ask the guy for a few lousy bucks, then in the next minute he's taking his kidney out."
Foreman sat back in his chair and wondered if Cuddy had had to put up with these visits by House, and if so when she ever got any work done.
"House, does it occur to you that you're talking to the wrong person here?"
House made a shocked face. "I thought you were the boss, all powerful, all seeing, with super powers and everything. I seem to remember you telling me you had all this incredible power to make me do anything you wanted."
Foreman thought privately that there was no-one in the world who could 'make' House do anything he didn't want to do, besides Wilson occasionally, and even then it was an uphill struggle.
Still, right at this moment he'd settle for getting House out of his office.
"You need to talk to Wilson, House. Any time now would be good."
"Can't. Not without the cops hauling me off to the slammer, remember?"
"There are phones."
"You could arrange it so I could go Wilson's condo. You know, using your Dean of Medicine superpowers."
"I don't think I can arrange exceptions to your parole conditions so you can go on a social call, House."
"All those years working for me and you haven't learned how to lie to get what I want? Don't tell them it's a social call - tell them it's a House call."
The usual predictable range of emotions chased across Wilson's face when he opened the door to find House standing there. House had a bet with himself on what the first words out of Wilson's mouth would be and he wasn't disappointed.
"House! You shouldn't be here. You'll get arrested."
"Relax. The Man himself arranged it, I have until midnight before I turn into a pumpkin. It's only a one time thing though so don't get used to it."
Wilson did that blinking thing he did when his world was getting rearranged and then he stepped aside to let House into the condo.
"If I knew you were coming..."
"You would have baked a cake, I know."
"I would have hidden the booze." Wilson finished dryly and House smiled, still the same Wilson.
"What's for dinner?" House asked, throwing himself down on the couch and looking around curiously, not much had changed from the look of things.
"Well, I had pasta, two hours ago. If you haven't eaten you can make yourself something, you know where the kitchen is."
"I'm used to having my meals served to me," House complained. He didn't bother to tell Wilson that those meals were, to a large extent, inedible and he'd mostly survived on what he could buy at the canteen from his meager janitor's wages. Foreman's 'minimum wage' was a veritable fortune compared to his prison earnings.
Wilson shrugged and sat down. House stared at Wilson, Wilson stared at House. Finally House sighed and took out his cell phone, calling the pizza place for a delivery.
"You'd rather call for pizza than drag yourself to the kitchen to make something?"
"With what's in your kitchen? No thanks. When did this 'giving up red meat' crap start anyway? That was your big life change while I was rotting in jail? What's the matter, was the yoga class full?"
"No, the 'my best friend tried to kill me and then disappeared off the face of the earth' therapy classes were full," Wilson shot back and despite Wilson's obvious irritation House smiled a little, he'd missed this while he'd been away.
"Hey, I let you slug me one, we're even now."
"No, House, we're not. " Wilson stared at the television set blankly. "I want our friendship, but I can't forget what happened, not just like that."
There wasn't much House could say to that, he couldn't change what had happened. He had paid for it, he was still paying for it, Wilson would either have to accept it or not. He levered himself to his feet again, deciding to check the condo over, see if he could get some clue to what Wilson had been doing for the last year, besides apparently trying to save every one of Princeton's cancer patients single handedly.
"Bathroom," he announced succinctly.
Wilson looked at him with narrowed eyes but didn't get up as House made his way out of the room.
House took care of business quickly, using Wilson's bathroom of course. Wilson's bedroom and bathroom were their normal pristine selves. He had new sheets since the last time House had been here but that wasn't diagnostic, Wilson had a tendency to buy new sheets far more often than House deemed necessary.
He quickly looked in on his old bedroom, the one he used when he was staying here. It was also much the same, but in the corner of the bedroom was the organ that Wilson had bought for him (just before kicking you out , he added to himself). Wilson had probably just wanted to get it out of the way, Wilson didn't play after all. House resisted the urge to sit down at it and play a few notes.
It wasn't until he was sitting back on the couch that he realised what was different about the condo.
"Where's the cat?" he asked. Wilson's diabetic cat, Sarah, was nowhere in evidence, there wasn't a trace of cat hair in the place and he hadn't seen a bowl, or a litter tray anywhere.
Wilson twitched and then settled back against the couch, not looking at House.
Oh. Was that it? Wilson was trying to save the world because his cat died? His diabetic cat?
House mentally rifled through his store of 'dead cat' jokes and decided not to play that card.
"It's okay, House, you don't have to try and pretend you care. She was a fairly old cat, and sick, and she just died. About a month or so after you disappeared off the face of the planet without a word."
Oh. Wilson had always had a fear of losing those he cared about. House had disappeared, his cat had died, and Cuddy had moved away. He wasn't close to his parents or his elder brother, that just left one person who might have added to his current tailspin.
"How's Danny?" he asked.
Bingo! Wilson's whole body language screamed that House had hit the problem head on. Last House had heard Danny had moved into 'transitional' housing and Wilson had been in regular contact with him.
"He's back in the hospital," Wilson said flatly.
"The loony bin you mean?" When Wilson looked at him angrily he just shrugged, "hey, I'm reclaiming the term, I can do that seeing as I spent a couple of months in one."
"Danny isn't like you, you got better."
"And Danny won't?"
The buzzer sounded and Wilson gestured to House. "Your pizza."
House got to his feet with an exaggerated motion, trying to convey to Wilson just how much effort he was asking of House. Wilson didn't budge and House limped to the door, damn, this meant he'd have to pay as well.
He came back with the pizza, after having shut the door on the disgruntled pizza delivery guy, and sat down on the couch again, throwing the box onto the table. Opening the box he took a slice out and shoved it into his mouth. He'd missed pizza while he was in prison, and Chinese, and Thai, and sex with something other than his own hand, and, well, he'd missed Wilson too he guessed. Not that he would ever tell Wilson that.
"I suppose suggesting you go and get a plate from the kitchen would be futile?"
"Yep. You can go and get one though."
House was mildly surprised when Wilson shoved himself up and went into the kitchen. When Wilson returned with the plate House put his hand out for it, might as well give in on that if was going to stop Wilson keep frowning at him. Wilson ignored his outstretched hand and made a dive for the pizza, snaffling a couple of slices and putting them on his newly acquired plate.
"Hey!" House grabbed the box and put it on his lap protectively. "That's mine."
"And I'm letting you eat it on my couch. We're even." Wilson said, eating the first slice.
"Thought you'd gone all healthy food, that pizza isn't even pretending to be good for you."
Wilson shrugged. "I decided to make some changes while you were off starring in your own prison drama, doesn't mean I've given up everything fun."
House thought it was lucky that Wilson's standard measurement for 'fun' was low, apparently kidnapping him and going to a funeral counted, and now eating pizza on his couch qualified. Still he would take what he could get. He looked around for the remote and flicked the television on, he'd about reached his limit of serious conversation for the night.
The evening passed amiably enough, with first the pizza, then a couple of beers, and House got to decide the television viewing schedule. House realised that his own definition of 'fun' had been drastically altered when he found himself enjoying this more than anything else he'd done in the last year or so, although to be fair, he thought, most of that time he was in prison where the pinnacle of his entertainment had been a chess match before bed.
At eleven-thirty he got up to go. Foreman hadn't been kidding about the 'being home by midnight' thing and he had no wish to have the cops turn up and haul him home, or to prison. Wilson looked up at him, his face relaxed and open as it hadn't been since House had returned.
"You can't save everyone," House told him, "and when you can't, it's not your fault. Stop trying to fix the world, one organ at a time."
"I know, I just.." Wilson sighed and rubbed his back of his neck, "I know."
"And stay away from my patients if you go looking for body parts, the clinic is seething with people who wouldn't notice if they went home less a kidney, or a brain."
Wilson smiled weakly but then rubbed his neck again. "Your patient, you dosed him didn't you? So that we wouldn't be able to go through with the surgery and take his kidney."
"He was sick, it would have been wrong, you told me that when I wanted his money."
"And then I forgot. Thanks."
"Don't thank me, your patient died."
"Sometimes they do, I just have to remember that."
"Hey, patients are like buses, there's always another one coming along, or in your case another few dozen." House glanced at his watch, it was getting late. Wilson saw him and smiled ruefully.
"Yeah, yeah I know. The whole turning into a pumpkin thing. Go."
House nodded and went to the door, leaving without another word. Then when the door had shut behind him he turned around and bashed on it a few times with his cane.
An annoyed looking Wilson opened it.
"And get another damned cat." House said as a parting shot. He shut the door again and limped off, full of pizza and beer and good company.
His apartment was empty and quiet and as he lay in his bed he tried not to think about the empty bedroom in Wilson's condo with the organ in the corner.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it, if you did please think about leaving a review to let me know :)