He's been in prison for a grand total of two days when he finds himself pushed in the toolshed during outside exercise time. He has heard enough already that he's not surprised that among the four people in the shed with him there's Mendelsohn, nor that he's the one who speaks.
"I want painkillers."
"Sorry. I no longer have a prescription pad."
Mendelsohn doesn't smile, or even look surprised.
"I want your pills. One every day. You get four, shouldn't be a big deal."
He needs the four. He actually needs six, at least, and he wants many more.
"How am I going to do this? I have to swallow them in front of the nurse."
"Cheek them, then hand them over."
House shivers. There's authority in Mendelsohn's voice, and danger. He tries to sneak a look around the tall, muscular convict who's covering the part of the shed where there would normally be a door. He is almost large enough to fill the gap, still House can see that the guard on duty is looking another way.
"Why should I?"
There's a very tiny quivering in a corner of Mendelsohn's mouth. It's probably his smile. He snaps his fingers, and the other two men grab House when he can't defend himself, busy as he is trying to breathe after the vicious kick Mendelsohn aimed at his injured thigh.
When he regains consciousness, feeling that less than a minute has passed, it's because he's on all fours, his face tilted up to look at Mendelsohn, his knees spread out, and only one leg of his pants and underwear is where it should be.
There's someone behind him. Doing something which would hurt if all his ability to feel pain weren't concentrated in his right thigh.
"I own your ass, House, and that of any other convict in this jail. I hope I won't have to remind you again."
The person behind him is quick and businesslike, and in less than five minutes House is standing again, his prison uniform on, a knotted, lubed and still warm condom in his pocket.
"Don't take it personally. Sam deserves a treat, occasionally. If one day you feel lonely, it's five dollars for his mouth and ten for his ass. You ask Mickey there, he's the one who keeps track of it. And tomorrow I get the first pill."
He nods at the tall man in the doorframe. House sways. He knows he's going to be sick soon, but he doesn't want to do so in front of them. He doesn't know why, but it seems incredibly important. He doesn't trust himself to speak, so he nods.
They leave before he does. He makes it to the shower room, but not to the toilet. One of the guards that brings him to the infirmary was among those surveying the exercise ground. The guard gives him an evil, knowing smile, and quickly slaps his aching ass. House spends two hours lying down, trying to forget the recent past and the monotonous future. He knows he'll deliver the pills regularly.
Two days after he starts solitary he gets a care package. A couple of paperbacks, a cheap MP3 player with his favorite music. Comfortable underwear and two soft pajama pants for his thigh.
The best part of the package, of course, is the official form accompanying it, where most of the handwritten data (name, address, social security number and scrawny signature) is as familiar to him as his own. The value is indicated as fifty dollars. Near "relationship to inmate" the clerk has written "friend". He wonders whether the clerk knows that his "friend" never visited. Or that House broke his wrist. Probably not the latter, since Wilson never pressed charges.
Solitary isn't as bad as he would have thought, and not just because he doesn't have to share drugs.
He's very nervous the first day he rejoins the others, but Mendelsohn doesn't even look at him: not during meals, nor on the exercise ground. He gives Mickey one of his morning pills, and the tall man pockets it without a word. He doesn't answer when House says that he'll be back to his usual schedule. Nor when he adds that he's sorry. Maybe it's okay.
It is okay for four nights. On the fifth he wishes someone was sleeping on the upper bunk when he recognizes who has unlocked and entered his cell. They use a guard's handcuffs and gag to restrain and silence him.
When he's naked, his pajama pants in tatters in a corner, his chest on his bunk bed, his knees spread wide on the floor, Mendelsohn slides a sharp blade along his throat.
"It wasn't funny, House. You get Mickey instead of Sam, and it's the last warning."
He barely has time to wonder what this means, when two thumbs, barely slicked with spit, push unceremoniously inside his ass and start pulling his ring muscle open. They pull and pull until he can fell blood flowing. The pain is now starting to compare with his thigh's desperate fight against the kneeling position.
The thumbs slide out and an oily fingertip slips in. Three fingertips. Four. When the knuckles slide by, the pain that has been skyrocketing inside his bowels matches the one from the thigh; when his ass clamps down on a thick, manly wrist and a boxer-sized fist starts rotating inside him, his thigh is forgotten in the discovery of a new agony.
"You need to learn humility, House."
To make the concept clear, Mickey's free hand grabs House's cock and pulls and twists until his semen sprays on the bedcover. He's crying, boneless, defenseless, as the hand slips out: both hands get cleaned on his shirt, and gag and cuffs are removed.
He's still crying when minutes later a guard comes by, after they have left, and locks the cell door again.
The next evening Mendelsohn and Mickey sit near him at dinner. He's been alone all day, but the whispers and looks were clear enough: everyone knows what happened.
"Hope you learned your lesson."
House nods. He shifts on the hard plastic chair, still in terrible pain. Yet as far as he could check there is no serious damage: professionals, really.
"From now on I want two pills every day."
His head spins.
"I can't do that. I need the pills."
It's crazy. They may as well kill him. He's considering how to best say that when a picture lands in front of him, out of focus, obviously coming from a cheap home printer and a lousy cellphone. It's a car. A Volvo.
"I was told you're stubborn, House, but I'm sure you'll soon agree that it's a reasonable request. I've learned some things about you when you were locked up."
Before he can look at it better, another picture lands on top of the car. The apartment building where Wilson's condo is located, seen from the street. Followed, in close succession, by the corridor in front of Wilson's door. The living room, with the organ covered by a large piece of cloth. Wilson's office door. Wilson's desk, behind it his diplomas and the ridiculous teddy bear. The final picture is a surprisingly aged but perfectly recognizable Wilson eating a salad, alone in the hospital cafeteria.
House wants to pretend he doesn't understand. Mickey turns his head as if he were a rag doll, makes him look in Mendelsohn's eyes.
"Cute boyfriend. Next time you pull an idiotic stunt, it's his turn. And since he's not a state guest, my boys can do a much more thorough job. Two pills every day, and I'm being generous."
House nods. He shouldn't be shaking like a leaf, and he manages to keep his teeth from rattling. When Mickey grabs the photos and tears them to pieces, then throws them away with the food leftovers, House's tears start dribbling from his nose. He sniffs several times, then collapses face forward on the table, pretending he's sneezing and coughing. By the time he can lift his head up again, the others are gone.
He limps slowly to take back the tray, feeling strange. Different. It takes him until he's back in his cell to realize that, for the first time since he's been in prison, he's really afraid.