Sit, Watch, Imagine.
Summary: Sometimes the right words are all you need...
Rating: General Audience. (No slash)
The park was refuge. It was strangers at a distance and peace. Sunshine fell on everyone equally and asked nothing back. Because that was all he felt capable of giving, it soothed him. Lately life had asked much of him and he had demanded much of it.
Neither got what they really wanted.
Ambers' cold body was a distant memory to Wilsons' frozen-over eyes. His anger had not abated nor the unspoken blame on his lips - both states reserved for whenever he looked at House across the cafeteria or chanced a glance in a crowded hallway. House had stopped looking back with hope.
Wilson would stay angry this time. Stay unforgiving - unyielding inside his chamber of grief. Wilson stayed away.
In the park a dragon fly landed on Houses' sleeve and he shook it away. If Wilson can't live there . . .
His missing muscles ached. How incredible it was that a person can be filled with a thing that is not there at all. A paradox of the human state. He was in pain from something that had gone missing years ago. Not only muscle and nerve. A lot had vanished. House felt abandoned and used up and so very tired. All of these empty states filled him.
He had a case but had left his puzzled underlings, their faces a stew of concern and irritation, to deal after a brief and unsatisfying differential. No answers there either. For weeks House had sensed something of his own disease descending on him like a dark haze. Weight like a mountain on broken shoulders, pressure like a anvil squeezing that twice injured thing in his chest down to the size of a water-drop. He felt if he just held his breath long enough - and that not long - what he was left inside would curl up into a molecule and leave his body. He would not feel it depart.
All the panic and horror and sorrow of that single day had left in their wake lethargy of being, numbness of soul and fruitless words thought but never uttered.
Wilson had given no quarter and House was too exhausted now to ask.
Better to just be quiet in this place. All he required was this park and this wood table and the nameless humans wandering through it undoubtedly on their way somewhere that had meaning and life; goodness for themselves and those they loved.
To House it was a place to sit and imagine himself staring back at his own face from the future.
A future he could no longer picture, the face he looked back on a featureless scape. House sighed but it no longer brought relief. Not even a relaxing of the tension that had piled and piled upon itself until it teetered crazily back and forth like a tower of loose bricks, inches or seconds away from toppling over for good.
House closed his eyes to the faceless sun and the strangers. To want. Even need he turned from in disgust. His leg throbbed for comfort and love from its owner and received instead a hard fist thumping down on its tender old wound again and again.
House sweated with the effort and the pain that followed, relentless even now, even here at the end. His leg would never learn. His hands that cured did not see, his ears that heard the requests for help would be deaf to their own demise. His feet that limped down hallways now were pointless appendages useful for sitting only. Bent on a wood table in a park near what his life used to be.
Plainsborough Hospital would be just fine. Foreman would get his promotion. Chase would probably return to work for him, Cameron would cry like a mourning dove and find a charity case over which to pet and coo. Wilson . . .
House drew out the full to the brim bottle of pills. Not Oxycodone this time. Not his Vicodin or anything so relatively innocuous.
Seconal. Heavy duty doses, each pill of the fifty in the orange vial. The park would disappear from his eyes. House pulled a can of soda from his other pocket and popped the lid of the pill bottle.
He didn't even hesitate. That decision felt good to him. He was still strong in one way at least.
"Do you remember me?"
House started and stared up at the small figure casting him in shadow from the sunlight that still shone but not for him.
Her voice was small and soft and sounded tired. Her face was a girls.
"I . . .don't know."
"You treated me a couple of years ago. I had an STD. I'd been raped."
As bald as that. Not even a name to call her yet. House thought he remembered but still he didn't care. He wanted to get on with a different kind of not caring. "Yes, I remember you." An exchange of pleasantries about the weather were to follow, or talk about what she had been doing since she'd been raped and aborted the unwanted child who had no knowledge that its father was a piece of shit and its mother a teenager fallen in with the wrong friends. But who could predict what a friend will do anyway?
She said nothing of the kind. "Why are you thinking of killing yourself? Don't you know it will accomplish nothing."
"That's the idea."
She sat beside him. "You want to be nothing? You want to die?"
House didn't say the answer. Nodding felt . . .safer. Because his death was not yet real, saying it aloud would be like a confession. Or a cry for help.
"Don't you have anyone who loves you?"
"Don't you have anywhere to be?" House did not want this conversation. Too many words at this juncture might break down resolve and injure his intent.
"Why are you here?"
"I come here all the time."
House shook his head. "I don't remember seeing you here since that day."
"Well, we don't always see what we want to. Did you see what would happen when you got on that bus?"
House felt a shot of anger. "How do you know about that?"
"I live around here. Word gets out."
"You blame yourself for her death just like he does."
House felt a chill go through him and chanced a look at the pill bottle to see if he had actually taken them already and was hallucinating the girl and the knowledge she should not have. Ah. He had the answer. "You obviously see more in me than most. You said it yourself. It's like I'm hurt too. It makes sense that you would guess I'd blame myself for it."
"You are hurt. You're dying. You're lying on the grass beside the table. Blood is trickling form your mouth and your heart is slowing."
"You're a . . .creepy little thing you know."
"But I'm right."
"Sure. You're trying to scare me into not taking the pills."
"No. I want you to take the pills."
House stared at her silently. "I take it back. You're a freaky little thing."
"Take the pills House."
He shifted his position a little to put a few more inches between himself and her. "No."
He would defy her because she asked. He would take the pills, but not because of her or for her twisted, sick little game. The kid ought to have been admitted to the psychiatric ward. Hadn't Stone see the signs?
"You know you want to. You know you''re tired of all this. You hate the loneliness and the blame. You hate Wilson."
"I don't hate Wilson. He hates me."
"Then what are you waiting for? Eat the pills."
Houses' eyes fell to the full bottle in his hand. "Why do you want me to take the pills? I helped you back then. I helped you find a reason to be happy again."
"Even our greatest efforts can fail in the end. You tried to help Amber, you tried to save her for Wilson. You failed. He hates you now. Take the damn pills!"
"I'm not going to take them and not because you want me to but because I will when I'm ready."
"When you're talking to a ghost, you're ready."
"Three days after you discharged me from the hospital, I killed myself."
"Not that I believe you but why?"
"You convinced me to abort. I did it because you convinced me to do what you thought was the right thing. For me, it was the worst thing. I couldn't live with it."
Houses' heart beat rapidly and the bile rose in his throat, threatening to spew all over himself and her. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I'm lonely too and you're the only friend I have now in this town. Take the pills."
House gasped for air, trying to get enough oxygen into his stymied lungs and terrified mind. "No."
"You want to die. But you won't take the pills." She said. "You. Want. To. Die. But. You. Won't. Take. The. Pills." She said again, each word a stab to his aching chest.
"I don't . . .want . . ." House looked at the pill bottle, clutching it fiercely. He dropped the soda can and it leaked out onto the worn grass beneath the picnic table, soaking it with liquid sugar. A sure meal for the ants.
When he looked up, she was gone.
House found himself shaking from head to toe. He put the pill bottle back in his pocket, found the cane he had abandoned nearby and slowly made his way back to the hospital.
This time he allowed no quarter and entered Wilsons' office without permission or announcement. Wilson looked startled to see his old friend boldly seat himself in the usual chair as though nothing had transpired that had changed them and everything between them. His small frown and ready quip on grim lips were halted by the vial of pills House withdrew from his pocket and set on the desk.
Wilson picked it up but did not read the label. "Cuddy turn you down?"
House started speaking like she had, quickly out of the surrounding quiet, a sharp, long knife cutting air until everything is revealed too nakedly for misunderstanding. "I went to the park today to kill myself. But-" House sat forward, his chin resting on his cane just like old times. Stacey and love-life days. "-at the last minute I didn't."
Wilson swallowed so hard it was audible to his own ears. "Why d-didn't you?" House went to the park to commit suicide.
"Because a little voice convinced me that I needed to live, that my death would be pointless."
"Oh." A little voice. Thank little voices. Thank . . .thank . . .
"I didn't kill her, Wilson. Circumstances killed her. Almost killed me. I'm sorry you can't forgive me but I'm not going to give anyone or anything the satisfaction of a sacrifice so they'll feel better. Amber's dead. I'm still alive. I've been blaming myself for that and grieving you. I'm done with remorse over this." He stood up and walked to the door. "See ya'."
Wilson picked up the vial and placed in his right drawer, locking it. "Who - what . . .I'm almost done with some things too." Wilson scratched his head uncomfortably. Then looked up at his friend whom he had almost lost today and decided right then. An immediate and all encompassing forgiveness. Feeling actually began in a spark. He felt its tiny burn. No more death. No more coldness to match the insides. "I'm glad you came here. I . .I'd like to come . . .see you, I mean, if that's okay? T-tonight maybe?"
House turned back and saw his friend rise from his desk and walk toward him. His feet ate up the space in about two strides of shaking legs and demanded the embrace he wrapped him in. House relinquished all possible barriers. Resentment was disallowed.
Wilson let him go, a bit reluctantly. "Next time you go to the park, I wouldn't mind coming with?"
House nodded. "I'd like you to."
Refuge changed addresses again.