A/N: Now it's definitely finished! Now I can catch up on some very neglected stories.
So, for those of you who managed to get this far, thanks. I know it's hard to read a NHEA. Just, many many thanks.
And here it is, taking place a couple of months after Cameron's death.
He looked up to see Wilson walking towards him on the picnic table. He didn't say anything as his friend sat beside him on top of the table.
They both stared ahead, watching a few people meander by, apparently happy to be out in the chill December air.
"How long have you been out here?"
Wilson glanced at his friend. "Well, Thirteen's, I can't believe I know her name and still call her Thirteen. Anyways, she's been looking for you for the past two hours."
"Yeah, they're trying to diagnose fart guy."
His mouth opened to ask for more details, but then he thought better of it. Instead, he sat there, quiet. He'd been doing that a lot more lately.
House sighed. "I'm...taking a vacation. Next week."
Wilson turned his head, but House was still staring at something he hadn't seen yet.
"I do love my half-naked baked women."
"Don't forget the drugs and drinks."
They both nodded. Each knew House was finished. There would be the occasional one night stand with a woman who almost always looked like her. A hooker would be called for twice when the thought of her, coupled with the ache in his thigh, needed distraction. His heart, though, was beyond repair. Thirteen would try. She'd fail. He would never shake the woman who took her last breath in his arms.
"Pacific Coast Highway. Apparently, it's the most dangerous road in America. Figured I'd give it a run for its money, starting with Oregon."
He wanted to tell the man to not try anything stupid. It would've been futile. He wanted to tell him that driving on that highway was too dangerous. This was a good lecture time. He wanted to take some of his pain away. He couldn't.
"That's good." He picked up the staring at nothing game. "That's good.
The screen showed the New Year's Ball still on top. Muted, it didn't hold as much anticipation as it usually did.
The lone beer on the coffee table, was halfway gone. Two weeks after she'd died, the table had been full of stale and fresh drinks. It'd been his breaking point, that day when he couldn't hold it in any longer and let himself go. Everyone had been expecting it, but no one had been able to pinpoint how long it would take for him to crack. Two weeks. It'd taken him fourteen days to cut work and drown his sorrows in the first bottle of scotch.
They'd let him. He wouldn't have stopped anyways. That third week was nothing but a vague sensation of cool tile and warm water mixed with the sour smell of raw vomit. Wilson had been there through the last two days of it. They didn't speak of it.
Beside the bottle, was a burnt orange vial filled with familiar white pills. He was back on the vicodin. He hurt. He needed relief. It helped. No one could tell him otherwise.
Nine minutes, forty-three seconds until the new year. He ran a hand through his hair, still not used to smelling fruit. He'd have to buy a new bottle soon.
The stillness of his apartment, made him uneasy these days. Sitting on his small couch, he could hear people hollering beyond his windows, cars honking horns, and even the occasional illegal firecracker. It happened beyond his small world. It happened without him.
He hadn't moved anything of hers. Not her spare shirts in his closet. Not her underwear and slacks in one drawer beside his. Not her brush, still holding a few strands of her hair. He'd do it eventually. One day, when the air was colder than it had ever been, he would put her things in one cardboard box and throw it out, watching the garbage man handle it ungraciously. It'd be the day he finally didn't expect her to walk into the kitchen, sleepy and groggy, reaching over him for some coffee.
Three minutes, two seconds to go. He thought about turning the sound on, but never reached for the remote control.
In his hand, was a picture of them. He was sitting. She was standing behind him with her arms falling over his shoulders and meeting at his chest. Her eyes were focused on him when the picture was taken. Her smile was wide, happy. His eyes looked straight forward, probably begging Wilson to get it over with. His smile wasn't wide, but it was happy.
Placed between a picture of her brother and name card for the dry cleaners, her brother had found it as he looked through her belongings. They'd stared at each other in his office since he couldn't bring himself to walk into an apartment that still held her memory. The brother shook his head as he handed the wallet sized photo over. At first, he'd made no move to receive it. That was when the brother lost his composure, falling into the unopen arms of the only man who would miss her as much as he had.
The ball dropped on Times Square. The confetti fell in dazzling colors. Banners ran high and low. Mouths opened wide, probably shouting out in delight. Couples kissed heatedly, oblivious or maybe not, to cameras. It was still silent in his apartment.
It was the only picture he had in his wallet, now. It was the only one he wanted on him at all times. It would be with him the day he died. It would be lost in the shuffle, only to be found by a young man working as a night janitor. Long battered and soft by then, it would tear as he fingered it. It would become scraps, pieces of a memory that would never be remembered by anyone. It would fade, along with his legacy, as the years danced by.
"Happy New Year," he said to someone who might or might not be alive in an afterlife he was starting to think of as possible.