Disclaimer: Don't own House. Smeg. Any factual errors are accidental and apologised for in advance. Contains implied slashy House/Wilson, an evil Tritter (yeah, that's new) and ambiguous consent.

AN: Set after ep 3:10, after everyone finds out that Wilson cut a deal with Tritter. Ignore the events of 3:11 – they never happened… Apologies about the TNR font if it appears that way - trust me, it's not the font of choice.

I: More Than Anything

The world seems bleaker at Christmas for the ones who end up alone, unsheltered by the safe bubble of warm fires, expensive poultry and demanding families. The protection of triviality, maybe – but protection nonetheless.

This is all my fault.

Wilson sat in his car numbly, mindlessly watching the tiny snowflakes fall on his windscreen, slowly but surely building up an intricate pattern that would eventually shield the world beyond from his view.

If only it could be as simple as that…

What had he hoped to achieve by seeking Tritter? By promising to betray the one person in the world that he truly considered a friend? The questions kept running through his mind, as they had been even before he walked into his darkened office to meet the leering detective intent on sending them all to the depths of hell.

Incessant doubts demanding his consideration with every cold interruption by Dr Cameron as they searched for diagnoses, with every flicker of disgust that passed across Dr Foreman's face when he happened to lay eyes on Wilson, with the apologetic helplessness so visible in Dr Chase's eyes…

And worse of all, the weary disappointment in Dr Cuddy's face as she looked away again and again, unable to deny House anything and unable to forgive Wilson for doing so.

They all thought it was about him. Wilson wants his car. Wilson wants his money. Wilson wants his fucking cancer patients.

He'd never felt so disconnected in his entire life. Even after all this time, after all the years he'd been at the hospital, always helping when he could, always forcing himself to see the good in everything and everyone, never anything less than he was expected to be…

And now they just assumed his friendship with House had been pushed too far, that this was it – breaking point – and he'd thrown in the towel, ratted out House so he could try and piece the broken fragments of his life back together.

Well, news flash – his life been falling apart long before Tritter came on the scene.

He knew they could all see the changes. House had never been like this before, not ever. He'd been dependent on the Vicodin, taking it constantly for the pain.

But after the shooting, the operation, the so-called miraculous 'cure', its failure – House's dependency had escalated into something of dangerous psychological proportions. He was desperate, couldn't operate unless he had the pills, going through withdrawal in a matter of minutes after he was 'due' to have pills, hiding them everywhere, going to surprising extremes...

It was a problem. House was sick. Why couldn't anyone see where this would inevitably head? Didn't they realise that a little girl's life could have been wrongly destroyed because of House's disoriented judgement? House wasn't just a danger to the patients, he was a danger to the people around him. To himself.

Finding him lying in his own vomit with that stolen Oxycodone prescription only reaffirmed everything Wilson believed. House needed help. It would be painful, yes, but the alternatives were far worse. He needed to make a change, or the addiction would grow and grow, consuming and eroding the brilliant mind that was House.

Making a deal with Tritter had been the only way to save Chase from taking the fall Tritter had been setting him up for, and in all honesty it was something that needed to be done. To help House.

So why did he feel like such a dirty, traitorous bastard?

Because Tritter's got all the cards and he bloody well knows it.

After finding House, and leaving him there, Wilson had returned to his car. He'd driven off towards home, but found he had to pull over when the angry tears burning from his eyes were blurring the road beyond focus. He'd steered the car to a jerky stop, let the stupid tears fall until he felt empty, and now was just staring into space trying to find a ray of hope in this disastrous situation.

Because, after all, it is your fault.

His fault for making the wrong choice at a terrible time. His fault for not seeing House spiralling down into this distorted reality of junkie dependency. His fault for not protecting House – for not being the friend he was supposed to be.

But there had to be some way to make this all right. There had to be a way to set things straight. If House was too stubborn to back down, then there had to be something that would fix things around his unabashed pride.

Tritter was the key – this was all about his extremist vendetta to try and get back at House for embarrassing him. If he'd just back down, if he'd let it go, then the interest in the case would rapidly dissipate.

Because House means more to you than… than…

Fingers trembling, Wilson clutched at his phone and shakily pushed the button to bring up his recently dialled numbers list. He selected one number, his heart beating fast in his chest. No matter what, he had to convince Tritter to leave House alone.

At any cost. His car, his money – possessions were meaningless now.

He pressed the call button.

It rang a couple of times, but then the cell at the other end picked up.

"Hello, Tritter here," said the rough voice, sounding completely alert even though it was nearly three in the morning.

Does the man ever sleep?

"Tritter," Wilson said, trying to keep his voice steady as an image of the unconscious House drifted through his mind. "It's Dr Wilson."

"I know who it is."

"I… House-"

"The deal is off," Tritter said shortly. "Your testimony, my friend, is not needed any longer. Hard evidence will speak miles on your behalf."

Wilson felt his stomach turn.

"There's… new evidence?"

"That's right, doctor," said Tritter, his voice mocking and scornful. "Both you and House will be going off to prison very soon."

"Tritter, please," Wilson said, hearing the desperation in his voice. He tried to sound reasonable. "There must be something that will stop you from persecuting Dr House. He's a good man, an incomparable doctor…"

"He's a bully, a sociopath and a blatant drug addict," Tritter said tersely, his voice cold.

"I can give you money-"

"Bribing a law officer is a further charge you want to add to your already impressive list of criminal offences, is it?"

"Please," Wilson pleaded into the cell phone. "Don't send House to jail. Anything you want."

The man on the other end of the line was silent.

The line crackled, the reception wavering with some coming snow storm.

"Detective-" Wilson started finally, but he was cut off.

"Okay, Dr Wilson," Tritter said at last, his voice level. "There may be a fare I am willing to accept… but are you willing to pay it?"

"Yes," Wilson said immediately.

"Your loyalty to Dr House runs deep, doctor, very deep."

Wilson didn't reply, because he didn't know what to say.

"I think I am right," continued Tritter, "in guessing that such devotion goes somewhat beyond the mere level of friendship on your part. And yet I don't know if it's mutual, Dr Wilson. I don't know if he's even aware of how you feel about him."

"Don't," Wilson protested weakly. He didn't need to hear it from Tritter, of all people.

"I'll come to your hotel in one hour. Just you – no one else there or the deal's off. You agree to my proposition, and I'll go back to the rehab deal, forget the new evidence. House doesn't go to jail."

"Your proposition – what is it?" Wilson asked unsurely.

"You're a good man, Dr Wilson. You're young, good looking and successful. Some people would find that appealing."

Wilson's brow furrowed at the flattery. He was unsure of what to make of such a strange and sudden change in Tritter's icy disposition.

"And some people would, perhaps," Tritter continued softly, dangerously, "like to find out if the inside of you is as pure and selfless as the flawless outside."

Wilson breathed in sharply, suddenly understanding. He felt his cheeks grow hot, his throat dry.

"O-oh," he stammered quickly before he could think it through. "I get it. An hour, at my hotel room. I'll be there."

"Good," Tritter said measuredly. "A deal, then."

"Yes," Wilson whispered dully to the dial tone. "A deal."

The windscreen was completely white now.

The skies were cloudy above, heavy and dark with snow that promised to fall before the morning came. Well, good riddance. House hoped it fell forever.

He sat on the park bench moodily, feeling the cold air seeping through his clothes and chilling him to the bone. Somehow, he couldn't seem to bring himself to care. What was waiting for him at home? A rapidly fermenting pile of pungent vomit in an empty apartment that still reeled from the violation of being searched by police.

That bastard Tritter.

It had been the hardest thing for him to do, hobbling into that seedy police office to admit a reluctant defeat. Did he want to go to rehab? No, not particularly. But this stupid feud wasn't worth his licence. Wilson had tried to make him see that, but it was only now that he understood.

He had a problem.

House didn't know when it had shifted from treatment of pain to an addiction pushing him to extremes he couldn't believe he had entertained. The increasing desperation of the past day had opened his eyes to just how much of an issue it was becoming. He didn't want it to be like this. He didn't want to be so dependent on Vicodin; it was destroying him.

He felt sick when he remembered the hurt, disappointed look on Wilson's face as he'd been lying on the shiny polished floor of his apartment. Wilson had stuck by him through a lot, putting up with an incredible amount of crap. But now he was walking away, and the childish, stubborn part of House was clinging to Wilson like a child holding onto a toy being worn away by years of possession.

No, that wasn't fair. It wasn't as simple as that. House didn't show his emotions much of the time at all, because he'd learnt the hard way of the advantages of a poker face. And when it came to Wilson, he was perhaps keeping up the best façade of all.

Despite the callous, carefree attitude with which he seemed to view their friendship, Wilson meant more to House than a lot of things and people in his life. He wasn't stupid – he knew exactly why he treated Wilson the way he did. It was a matter of self-preservation; Stacey had already left once, and House didn't know what he'd do if Wilson was the next one to walk away for good. By pretending not to care, it was easier to force himself to believe it.

But Wilson was so close to giving up on him now that the panic was beginning to grow unabashedly. That was why he'd forced himself to go crawling so pathetically back to Tritter. And now – now it didn't matter.

Where to from here? House didn't have any brilliant ideas. He didn't have any clue as to what he was going to do now. The situation wasn't anything like the things he usually puzzled over. It wasn't a sickness to diagnose.

It was just humans. Humans and their stupid, frivolous interactions.

He was at a loss.

The pain was still there, but the cold had dulled it down to a distant ache. In not feeling anything at all, being near frozen out in the snowy weather, it was stopping him from feeling pain.

Is it better that way? Not to feel, in order not to feel pain?

House sighed.

He wondered where Wilson was now.

Wilson tensed at the sound of the three slow knocks on his apartment door. He swallowed, and steadily got to his feet, heading to the door and unlocking it. He opened it, allowing the expectant Tritter to stride assuredly into his apartment.

Wilson found himself staring into the wood grain of the door as he slowly closed it, dead-locking it with the chain. Finally, he turned and faced Tritter.

The detective was sitting in the same chair he'd been in the other day, when pressing Wilson for condemning information about House. He was looking at Wilson with an amused and calculating expression on his face, icy blue eyes narrowed.

Wilson hesitantly walked towards him, hands in his pockets, sitting down on the edge of his bed silently.

"Why are you so intent on making House pay?" he asked, staring at his grey-socked feet as if they might answer him. Tritter didn't answer right away, but he did remove his gun and badge, placing them deliberately onto the empty table.

"Dr House has abused his power for far too long," Tritter said softly, getting up from the chair and moving towards Wilson. "He has abused the people around him as well as his position as a doctor, and that needs to be addressed accordingly."

"He saves lives," Wilson said quietly, as Tritter sat down next to him. "He saves people that no one else can."

He tried not to flinch as Tritter traced one hand along his trembling leg, as slowly and consciously as everything the detective ever did. He allowed Tritter to loosen his tie, to pull it over his head, and just sat there obediently, trying to focus on House – the reason for everything he did nowadays.

He gritted his teeth when Tritter firmly grabbed his chin, turning his face towards him.

"No, Dr Wilson," he said in a dangerous tone. "You don't get to play the victim here…"


"This," Tritter breathed, his face only centimetres from Wilson's, "is a trade you willingly made. Remember that."

"Why do you want to… with me…?" Wilson couldn't bring himself to say it directly, especially as he looked into Tritter's lined face. He suppressed the shudder as Tritter smiled.

"Because I like you," he said mockingly, with a smirk.

They both knew it wasn't true. Wilson looked down, away from Tritter's piercing gaze.

"You'll let him take the rehab deal, then?" he mumbled, his cheeks flushing.

"Sure," Tritter said, his hand stroking Wilson's cheek. Wilson closed his eyes, trying now not to think of House, struggling to not bring thoughts of him to this dark place. In the end, though, this was all for him – everything was – because Wilson would willingly do anything to save House. Even if it had to be this.

He hoped one day House would understand that.

Endnote: Well… reviews and comments are definitely welcome! Based on the response, I'll decide on whether to go on with the fic. I've got some ideas for a few more chapters, but not too drawn out! But I guess I'm okay at leaving this as a one shot. Let me know what you think! Thanks! \(+.+)/

- Amalialia -