“It’s all about cash,” House said. He was standing in Wilson’s office, hands wrapped around his cane, knuckles turning white, bones nearly visible through the flesh. “These big companies want to make more—as if they didn’t have enough already—so they take an old drug, change it a tiny bit, market it as a new drug that’s just as useless. I won’t do it.”
Wilson looked at him. For a moment, there was déjà vu, and he thought that he’d experience a heated confrontation in his office again. Soon.
“You have to,” he said quietly, already knowing House wouldn’t.
A wonton slid into House’s mouth. He bit down twice, with a satisfying click of molars, smacked his lips in that way which annoyed Wilson because the noise was loud enough to bypass the sound of the television, and grinned. Wilson eyed him.
“I paid,” House said indignantly.
“Only because I don’t have any money!”
“Which proves nothing, other than the fact that you’re a chump!”
“What have I done for you?”
“Uh—” Wilson was caught off guard.
House deftly flipped another morsel of food into his mouth. “Another one bites the dust,” he said, and smirked.
“Look. You can’t keep this up forever,” House said. He leaned on his cane and watched the man, every movement the man made. A formidable opponent.
“Questioning my—” House paused. He’d been going to say “my friends.” Wilson was his friend, but his fellows? Ah, who cared?
“Freezing bank accounts—you have no case. This can’t be legal.”
“Maybe if I tell the truth—that I did forge them—you’ll—”
His voice was the only sound.
House sighed and lowered his head. When he looked up, the bathroom mirror was motionless.
He’d have to do something eventually.
Oh God, that was wonderful, heavenly, glorious. For years he’d longed, known he couldn’t, suppressed the desire—now his muscles were aching in a way that didn’t make him reach for the bottle—he didn’t have the bottle, how great was it to be freed of that old ball and chain? He was breathless in a way that didn’t scream spasm, he was happy again.
He’d do this every day if he could, and for the first time in what seemed like an eternity he hoped. Maybe he could.
He climbed into the fountain, threw his head back and laughed.
When he was lying in bed, tubes running from what felt like every orifice, helpless to do anything without asking for help, House spent a lot of time staring at that vacated blue plastic chair (fitting because blue was a sad color, the color your lips turned when you couldn’t breathe). He lay, staring and wondering.
She’d done it out of love. She hadn’t wanted him to kill himself. She’d lied to him, tricked him. He’d be in pain for the rest of his life.
“Because you loved me,” he whispered, his voice hoarse. This was what came of love?
The couch was wet.
This was the first thing Wilson thought upon waking. The couch was wet, couches were not normally wet, and said couch had not been wet last night as he’d fallen asleep. Dry couch at night, wet couch in morning—sailors take warning? What the hell was he talking about?
But this couch was not wet with water.
Wilson sprang to his feet. Good Lord, it wasn’t wet with water.
Was he regressing to childhood? Did he need therapy?
Then he spotted the lone glass in the sink, and things clicked abruptly into place.
House would pay.
Two years ago Cameron had been naïve, a child with a crush, smiling shyly, expecting him to tap-dance with that cane, present her with a dew-damp rose, escort her to restaurants and pull out her chair—well, maybe not all that, but she’d had a crush just the same.
Now she stuck to working for him. If she felt affectionately toward him, this was no more than she felt for Foreman. Or Chase.
And then he put his hand on her shoulder, and he murmured to her, and after he’d left her tears flowed afresh—partially for a different man.
“He’s my brother, for God’s sake. I just want to see him.”
“He doesn’t have a brother.”
“Please. He hasn’t seen me in years.”
“And he can’t see you now. But this is when everyone decides to crawl out of the woodwork, right? Get their pound of flesh? He can’t see anybody. Get the hell out of here.”
“Look—it was hard enough to find him. It took awhile to get the news. Don’t normally read the obits. Can’t I just—?”
“He didn’t forget you.”
“It ate at him.”
“Don’t let me stop you.”