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Involuntary Commitment

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It is better to marry than to burn.

- Saint Paul, 1 Cor. 7 King James Version -

February 2007

Michael Tritter spied the object on his desk from across the precinct bullpen and frowned. He wasn't expecting any deliveries. He hadn't done anything recently to earn a gift. In fact, his last major bust—the one he'd dreamed about, the one that had kept his spirits up for weeks—had just ended, abruptly, with a plea bargain and the perp going free.

Or not exactly free. Court-ordered rehab wasn't freedom. It was still a damn sight better than prison, though, and more than the son of a bitch deserved. Tritter still ground his teeth every time he thought about it.

As he stalked towards his desk, the object revealed itself to be a large basket, its contents covered by a red-and-white checkered napkin and festooned with a ribbon. There was a small card tied to the top. He snatched it off and flipped it open.

The note inside read SUCK ON THIS and was signed with x's and o's and the name that would forever induce frothing, pulsing rage: House.

The basket contained a large pile of lemons.

Wilson made it almost fourteen hours before he found himself back in bed, his face pressed as close as he could get to the pillow—the one that still sort of smelled like House, if he concentrated—jerking off. His familiar left hand was a poor substitute, but his dick didn't seem to care. He'd been hard since he walked through the apartment door that evening, and no amount of medical journals, cancer case files, or reality television with dancing C-list celebrities could completely kill his arousal.

He couldn't help feeling that there was something vaguely pathetic about beating off under the circumstances—the circumstances being "missing House"—so he'd resisted for as long as possible. In the end, though, it was a losing battle. After all, he was a guy, and still relatively young, not to mention—oh, the hell with it—newly married. He'd gotten back into a rhythm (god, yes, perfect rhythm, hand sliding up and down the length of his cock) of getting off on a regular basis, and the habit was hard to break.

The lingering scent of sex in the bedroom was almost certainly a product of his imagination. Then again, maybe not. He'd had more sex the night before House started rehab than he'd had on his last honeymoon. It was as if House actually believed they could "store up" enough to get through the eight-week court-enforced celibacy period, or, perhaps more pragmatically, as if he believed that gorging himself on sex would make him stop wanting it for a while. A sex hangover, maybe.

Wilson hoped that House was having better luck with that plan than he was.

He squeezed his cock and breathed a low, frustrated groan into the pillow, trying to conjure up some pleasant fantasy. Unfortunately, all his brain would supply was the memory, scintillating but depressing, of their last encounter, in the blue-black hours of the previous morning.

He'd been woken first by the alarm beeping and a moment later by House's arm, falling heavily across Wilson's chest, preventing him from getting out of bed. It was strangely reassuring. He'd gone to sleep the night before half expecting House to sneak out in the middle of the night with Wilson's wallet and flee the country. He'd already been bracing himself for the phone call from somewhere in South America.

"Don't make this harder than it has to be," he'd begged, wondering how long House had been awake and pondering this last desperate attempt at getting out of rehab.

"Who, me?" House had answered flatly. His arm didn't move, but Wilson felt the rest of him slide closer, the better to pin Wilson down.

Wilson pursed his lips. "We made a deal with the prosecutor. It's only two months—"

"Shut up." The mattress shifted as House suddenly rolled away, only to return a moment later and thrust two objects into Wilson's hand, kissing him hard on the mouth. House had been awake for a while, apparently, and had indeed managed to get out of bed without disturbing Wilson. He tasted like spearmint toothpaste.

"Mmf," Wilson said. "What ..." But he had a condom and lube in one hand, and even half asleep, the answer to that one was pretty clear.

"Do it," House said quietly, lying on his front, with what sounded to Wilson like embarrassment.

He ran his hand down House's back, feeling the tension in his muscles, and thought about everything they'd done prior to falling asleep—something he immediately regretted, as most of the blood in his brain went straight to his dick, which was still protesting last night's abuses. "Aren't you sore?"

"Shut up," House repeated. "Come on."

Well, if he was going to be like that ... Wilson reasoned that he had no choice but to oblige. The matter was out of his hands. House was a stubborn bastard; if he wanted to be fucked, then Wilson had to fuck him, just as hard and as slow and as sweet as he pleased, knowing full well that it would make them late—knowing that it would be the last time for a very long time.

So he leaned over House's back, lips trailing over his neck and shoulders, sliding two slick fingers down the cleft of his ass. House's body was warm, pliant, yielding: everything the man himself wasn't. He moaned something indecipherable into a pillow as Wilson's fingers penetrated him.

"Eight weeks," House muttered a moment later.

Wilson bit the side of House's neck and pressed his fingers deeper. "You'll get through this."

"I'm not going to get any for eight weeks."

"I have it on good authority that you've survived longer dry spells. Turn over."

House rolled onto his back and let Wilson carefully shift him until his legs were resting on Wilson's thighs. Wilson tore open the condom, rolled it down over his dick, and then reached for House—only to find that he was completely soft.

Wilson sighed and leaned back. "Are you sure about this?" he asked. "We don't have to—"

House lifted his head. "How did you ever manage to get laid before me?" he snapped. "What do you want, an engraved invitation? James Wilson is cordially invited to fuck me already, while he's still—"

The rest of the tirade ended in a long groan as Wilson, tired and annoyed, dispensed with formalities and fucked him already. He slid in with one hand guiding his cock and the other carefully holding House's leg, wincing only slightly. It was a miracle he hadn't started chafing.

House's head fell backwards, hitting the pillow with a dull thump. "Wait." He grimaced.

Wilson thought about ignoring him, but they had enough problems already. It was getting lighter in the room, another reminder of the time they didn't have. He rested on his heels, muscles trembling, watching as House's face cleared and he nodded for Wilson to continue. He rocked forward, not too hard or fast, not that he could move that well in that position anyway. House's back arched even further off the bed, pushing to meet each slow thrust.

"You're obnoxious," Wilson huffed, sliding deeper into the tight heat.

House's face broke into an exhausted grin. "You love it."

"Not even close," Wilson assured him, lifting his hips slightly, repositioning House to take more of his cock.

They fucked for what felt like hours. To Wilson, the urgency of the situation was inescapable. In between staring at House and shutting his eyes against the pleasure, he kept glancing at the clock, timing how much longer they had, and incidentally staving off his orgasm in the process. Nothing killed the mood like an impending incarceration.

But not for House, it seemed, as he urged Wilson on with muttered expletives, one hand braced on the bed and the other on his own dick. He didn't appear to be the least bit bothered by the fact that he still wasn't hard. He rocked back and forward onto Wilson's cock, face twisted with pleasure.

Wilson stared hard at him, focused on making him feel good, and willed reality to leave them alone for just a few minutes longer.

House groaned and then opened his eyes wide before slamming them shut again. "Oh," he breathed, surprised. "Oh," and then Wilson watched in amazement as his face contorted, his hips bucked, and his entire body went through the obvious signs of orgasm. Almost his entire body.

Wilson stared. "Did you just? Without even—"

"Yeah. Thanks," House said, his mouth curving into a satisfied smile.

Now, alone in a bed that had never felt this big, Wilson jerked his own cock with almost punishing strokes and came, shuddering, making a slippery mess of his hand and abdomen. He caught his breath.

"This sucks," he announced to the empty apartment.

There was no one to listen to his complaint. Even Steve McQueen was gone, having been entrusted to Cameron's care. He doubted that House had taken Wilson's potential loneliness into consideration when outsourcing the rat-sitting duties. Then again, House had always been stellar at not taking Wilson into consideration, no matter the circumstances. Wilson took a moment to fume once more over the fact that House had waited until after they started fucking to decide to go to rehab. Before the fucking, Wilson wouldn't have realized how much he was missing.

He knew, of course, that their changed situation had a lot to do with House going to rehab in the first place—maybe everything to do with it. He'd been offered a deal—eight weeks in rehab in exchange for a plea of no contest—and he'd taken it, even though it had seemed certain at the time that he wouldn't need it. He could have walked away scot-free, but he didn't. He'd known that they couldn't go on the way things were before. Everything had changed.

It had seemed important that House know what this meant to Wilson, so on the tense drive to the rehab center that morning, Wilson had ventured a supportive, even affectionate comment.

"I know how difficult this is," he'd started.

"Screw you," House had bluntly answered from the passenger seat.

Wilson had pursed his lips and kept his eyes on the road.

House was sullen and silent the entire way to the rehab center. He was also sitting strangely, on one hip, like it hurt to sit normally, which gave Wilson a mean little twinge of pleasure. Wilson stole glances from time to time but refused to offer up any more seeds of conversation for House to quash. He didn't mind bearing the brunt of House's resentment, but he wasn't going to help the guy, so the rest of the drive passed quietly.

They'd struck a deal with the prosecutor that allowed them to choose from several accredited rehab centers in the state. The place they'd finally settled on was an hour and a half from Princeton and resembled a college campus more than a place where addicts went to detox. Even the name, Sea Harbor, sounded like a beach resort or gated community, which Wilson guessed was sort of the idea. It was easier to tell your friends and neighbors that you were going to "Sea Harbor" than to tell them you were going to drug rehab.

House hated the place, of course, but he hated it less than all the others they'd looked at; what's more, by some miracle, the staff at Sea Harbor were actually willing to accept House, even after meeting him in person. Their services seemed promising, if not a little absurd. The web site boasted over five acres of manicured green space, which Wilson found soothing and House found to be a barrier against escape akin to the San Francisco Bay surrounding Alcatraz. It also advertised equine therapy. Searching for facilities, Wilson had smirked and said, "But this place has horses"; House had thrown a book at his head. He couldn't exactly see House taking to equine therapy unless it was for the purposes of hijacking an animal and galloping back to Princeton.

But Sea Harbor was one of the few residential treatment facilities in the area willing and able to work individually with each patient, with attention to his personal history and existing medical conditions, including disability and chronic pain—or at least that was what they said. In point of fact, Wilson had no real idea whether Sea Harbor was equipped to deal with House. He had been pretty sure that nobody was equipped to deal with House. He tried to stay optimistic, but there was only so far that luck could carry them, and they'd already stretched their chances pretty thin.

As Wilson pulled off at the exit, he felt the tremendous weight of a familiar sense of dread: the same dread that had typically preceded college exams, every single day of House's trial, and most of his weddings. House's face was inscrutable. It's not jail, Wilson told himself, and tried to breathe normally. At least it's not—

"Don't touch my car," House said.

Wilson frowned. "What?"

"You heard me. Don't touch it. Don't drive it."

"Uh huh. What are you going to do if I do touch it?"

House considered. "Something horrifying. When you least expect it."

"I'm quaking in my loafers," Wilson muttered, and signaled before turning into Sea Harbor's long, winding driveway.

The sensation of sinking grew stronger as they approached the main building, a solid, institutional structure. Wilson waited for House to make another crude deflection of the seriousness of their situation—maybe another complaint about having to abstain from sex for so long, like that was the issue—but none came.

He parked, and for a long moment they both stared at the blue sign with the white wheelchair outline marking their spot. Then House jerked the door handle and shoved his way out of the car. Wilson followed, hunching his shoulders against the bitter February chill.

The building opened to a waiting room that bore more than a passing resemblance to a dentist's office. A silk tree in a pot stood in a corner. One major difference: a uniformed security guard skulking by the door through which they'd just entered. Behind the high counter, women in multicolored scrubs shuffled clipboards and manila envelopes with smooth, nearly automated motions. They lifted their heads when House and Wilson stepped inside.

"Welcome to Sea Harbor. Can I help you?" one of them asked.

House didn't even glance over, leaving Wilson to answer, "Just a minute."

He dropped House's bag, which he'd been carrying. They'd already filled out the pre-admission paperwork. After chuckling bitterly at the three scant lines provided on the intake form for each of "current health," "current medications," and "legal problems," Wilson had simply written up a few pages of explanation and stapled them to the form.

There was nothing left now for him to do, but he couldn't quite bring himself to leave. Beside him, House's face was expressionless, blank.

Sea Harbor stipulated that all new patients had to undergo a seven-day blackout period, during which, barring an emergency, they would be unable to communicate with anyone outside the facility. No visits. No phone calls. House would be cut off from everything, cut off from him ...

"So," Wilson began. Everything will be fine, he wanted to say, but the words caught in his throat suddenly, choking him. He coughed instead.

They stood a few safe feet apart, the duffel bag on the floor between them, and stared evenly at each other.

"Good luck," Wilson managed to say, for which House gave him a reproachful, disappointed look. "Sorry," he added. "I know that's ..."

House ducked his head and stared at the floor for a while. The security guard by the door was starting to look suspicious.

Wilson wondered if he should hug House—kiss him, maybe. When they'd been faking a relationship that didn't exist, House had kissed him in a cafeteria full of their colleagues; now that it was real, they were both frozen in their places.

"Call me," Wilson said, and without touching House again, he left.

The last thing he saw as he turned the corner was House still staring after him with the same eerily empty expression on his face, the duffel bag sitting at his feet.

Later, Wilson had gone to work. He'd seen his patients, started catching up on his backlog of paperwork, and been mostly impervious to the curious looks of nearly every other PPTH employee who walked past him—and to a visit from Cameron, anxious to know anything Wilson might know about House's condition. News traveled fast. He'd stayed until Cuddy came by and threatened to fire him if he didn't go home, and then he'd gone back to an empty apartment, sat around feeling sorry for himself for a while, and jerked off alone.

So really, what else was new with his life?

This sucked.