Disclaimer: Not Mine. All of the characters belong to Fox
I see monsters
The keys for the soda machine were around here somewhere, he thought, they had to be.
The fourth floor was a tube of shadow and flickering light; the back-up generator was only strong enough to keep the first, second and third floor in full illumination. He had a thick, rubber flashlight jammed into his mouth. He'd found it in the trunk of Wilson's car. The light was aimed on his long, dirty fingers and they were working to pick the storage cupboard lock. His makeshift key was two straightened paper clips. He'd been at it so long now his fingers had started to bleed a little. If only his mind would join in on the task, he meandered, mentally, and wasn't that the problem? his mind was a drifting sail boat on a misty lake – just rolling and bobbing.
Maybe his mind was just trying to help block out the smell for him, wandering here and there so he didn't focus too completely on that stench.
The smell was coming from inside the room he was trying to get into; he was clear on that point. That smell worried him. It was not the smell of death - he'd gotten used to that over the years. He could handle puss and the smell of infected intestines and exposed organs. The smell of the virus was like all of those things combined after they'd been baked in an August heat wave. The virus had a smell like nothing else on Earth. It hung around the hospital and jumped on House's gag reflex whenever he got the faintest whiff of it.
He was half scared out of his mind over what he might find behind the door, but he needed to get inside the room.
Survival was a stronger motivator than irrational fear. He needed the keys to the soda machines and he'd looked everywhere for them. The janitor would have them and House had searched the bodies - so many bodies - yet he hadn't been able to find Lou. Now the water wasn't running in the building anymore and he couldn't leave the teaching hospital – not yet. The cafeteria had been poorly stocked with food and water and those meagre supplies had ran out in the first week of the sick arriving there.
It had taken longer than two weeks but less than a month. He wasn't completely sure - his sense of certainty had been one of the first things to leave him. The very concept of time had taken on a fuzzy sort of haze, like that of a childhood memory, you could sort of remember but the edges weren't so clearly defined and there wasn't enough to hold onto. Time would never apply to life on Earth again. Not the way it once had. The virus had seen to that too, in its own way. It had taken longer than two weeks for everyone to be gone. Gone. Okay, gone wasn't quite the right word, they were all still here, physically. In had taken less than a month for everyone to die. The one cruel twist the virus had for him? a natural resistance.
'Of all the people, in all the world' his mind modified the famous line. Bogie had been drawling it over and over. It made him feel hysterical every time he thought of it but it was an intrusive thought - a trick he played on himself– it was hard to stop. And hadn't it always been? Hadn't he always had a hard time stopping before he went too far?
There was no one left to torture, so he was torturing himself.
He'd tried to stop thinking about that one in a million chance. He'd had plenty of opiate assistance in the first week on his own. Slumped behind the desk in his office - hospital blankets piled on top of him, that opiate fug to blur and smudge the horror out. The end of the world was an all you could eat Vicodin buffet, where you could have more than you'd ever need and then some, but he couldn't quite take enough to go into a sleep he wouldn't wake up from.
And then he'd wanted to feel sober, he needed to dig the holes. So he'd done that, and put his friends in them, and now he was back to a normal pain killing dose. Still following the parameters Wilson had sort of set out for him and he'd sort of avoided and abused.
Wilson. House swallowed and pushed the name away from him. He set it adrift on that misty lake inside his head and hoped it wouldn't come back. It wasn't easy. It was like being told not to think of orange penguins. If you tried not to it was all you could think about. He got a sense of a particular orange penguin standing just behind him, with his hands on his hips, giving him unhelpful tips on how to pick the damn lock.
'What are you doing, House? that'll never work. You should just go. Leave. She's not coming back. No one is coming. You're the last one.'
"You're dead." House said, no, whimpered. He ran a dirty hand over his eyes and shook his head.
'And you're hallucinating because you've taken too much Vicodin,' Wilson's voice chastised. 'House, you'll die too if you don't get out of here. Go to New York. Maybe it didn't get that far.'
House stopped to check and see if Wilson really was behind him, almost hoping, but of course he wasn't. He'd buried Wilson days ago. Wilson was in the ground. House shivered and continued to pick the lock. The voice piped up again and he bit down on his lip, hard, until he drew blood and the pain blocked Wilson's voice - coming from his own exhausted mind - out.
Why him? Why an asshole like him? Why was he resistant and yet so many others gone? Maybe because he was an asshole, perhaps; this was certainly worse than death. God did exist after all and he was PISSED.
House had stayed at the hospital. He'd been camping in his office for three weeks. He'd buried his best friends, side by side, in the small garden in front of Cuddy's office two days ago. Now he wasn't entirely sure what he should do next.
He needed to leave New Jersey; he knew that for sure but go where? No he had to wait just in case. He had to wait just in case she came back.
She'd promised and if there was one thing he could hold onto that might just be real, it was that Allison Cameron would keep her promise.
House continued to pick the lock.
It had taken her a week to get there from The New Jersey Centre for Disease Control.
House was staring at her very strangely, eyes wide, but slightly vacant. Not a critical look like she was used to, when he was trying to figure her out and turning all of her little quirks over in his mind. No, she couldn't pin-point this look. What was it? Wait, maybe she could. His look was the look of someone trying to work out if what he was looking at was real.
"Cameron?" House's voice had never sounded so unsure: it was childlike and scared. That fear brushed up against her own fear and hugged and warmed and nuzzled it until it made her stomach bob like his Adam's apple when he swallowed to get the moisture back into his mouth.
He'd been standing just outside his office when she'd found him. She'd been calling for what felt like hours but had probably been much less than. He looked a little stoned, but that was a sight for sore eyes today. She went to him and hugged him tightly to her and then closed her eyes. He didn't hug her back and she was glad that he didn't. Hugging House was like hugging a tree: it was nice to wrap your arms around the trunk as long as you didn't expect the branches to reach down and hug you back. A tactile, hugging House would have alarmed her. He'd been here the whole time - surrounded by death and the death of his friends, dealing with it alone. She'd been shielded from the worst of things in the bunker, where she'd been toiling with the others over the vaccine.
Eventually she felt the tension in House's posture evaporate, and his chin brushed the side of her cheek. "I didn't think..." emotion pinned her words down and wouldn't let them up. It wasn't the tearful kind. No, she'd cried herself raw on the way over here and didn't think she'd ever participate in that particular human emotion ever again. It was just the weight of relief in seeing him again.
She eventually whispered, "You must be resistant?"
"I must be," he agreed. "You?"
No, she didn't think so.
"I tested the cure on myself, and here I am. I needed to do further testing..."
Her words trailed off. She'd been part of the team working on the cure but the irony was there was no one left to cure now. The virus had spread so fast, like a wild and hungry fire eating eagerly through a dry forest until everything had been torched. Everything left black and damaged and beyond repair.
House finally moved away from her. His face was unreadable for a second, and then a flicker of the most profound, unimaginable grief crossed on and then off before it became unreadable again.
"Everyone," House answered. "You're the only real person I've seen in weeks."