Chapter 1 - Blood On His Jacket
A/N: This is my first fic, I hope you enjoy! This is AU starting halfway through "Moving On", right after House discharges himself.
Update 2015: This fic is being fully edited to lower crap factor.
House sighed deeply as he threw one leg over his motorcycle and haphazardly strapped on his helmet, not caring when he pinched his skin in the clasp. He just needed to get out, get away... get as far from the hospital as he could manage.
It was time to head home.
His leg was screaming with pain despite the dozen or so vicodin he'd taken since his surgery. He wasn't nearly as numb as he wanted to be right now, not even close. He had slammed shut the door on his feelings for Cuddy, but she kept sticking her foot in the damn doorframe. Let's talk, let's have our fight, stop playing games. He heard the same thing from Wilson, though phrased in a much more preachy, sanctimonious way.
What the hell good was talking going to do?
Talking would've helped months ago, maybe... but they were long past the point of no return, and sitting down, holding hands, and describing exactly how and why he felt like something had crawled inside his chest and died wasn't going to help anything.
God, he just wanted to be numb.
When he was numb, when he didn't think, that's when he was okay. That's when he was normal. The pain never stopped, the thoughts never stopped, and possibly worst of all, the feelings never stopped. The pills made it all go away. They gave him silence.
People underestimated the value of silence.
As he started up his motorcycle and rode smoothly out of PPTH parking lot, his thoughts flashed to his pledge to change.
Just how many times had he said he would change, again? It was always an empty promise. Always. And yet he kept making it. Made a whole crap lot of sense, especially given the fact that people don't change might as well have been his catch phrase.
Wilson, Cuddy, everyone, they blamed the pills. The alcohol. His leg. He wasn't the problem, his problems were the problem. No one ever seemed to consider the fact that maybe it was just him. Maybe there wasn't something wrong with him... he was just wrong.
He had been consistently alienating people since he learned how to talk. He had always been rude, always been selfish. Peel away the addictions and pain, both emotional and physical, you didn't have some self-sacrificing saint. He wasn't good, underneath it all.
He was just House.
A misanthropic, bitter, apathetic son of a bitch, he thought bitterly to himself as he came to a halt at a red light.
It didn't matter, he decided, whether he changed or not. Because he would always be miserable. He would always be the man that–
His admittedly self pitying thoughts were cut off by a blaring car horn. House had only time to see the massive headlights of an eighteen wheeler to his right before a slamming, unbelievable force crashed into him. He let out one choking, strangled noise, and then his entire world went black.
House's eyes opened.
Everything was white.
He wondered if he was dead. He probably should've been more concerned than he was.
He was sitting on something... a quick check of what was underneath him informed him that he was sitting on a bus seat. Of course. He didn't need to look beside him to know who's leg was brushing his. He could smell her perfume. Lavender.
"Amber," he acknowledged without looking at her.
"Observant even when you're teetering on the brink of death. Not bad," she commended, leaning forward in what he guessed was an attempt to meet his eyes. He stared pointedly at his feet.
"Brink of death?" he repeated in a monotone.
"What, you thought that semi was trying to give you a hug?"
"All I saw were the lights–"
"I know what happened, and I'm sure you believe that I'm an extension of you, so that means you know," she stated.
"Are you not an extension of me?" he asked warily.
"Would you believe me if I said I wasn't?" she asked with a small smile.
Reluctantly, House lifted his head to look at her.
She was just the same as she was before everything went wrong. Before the hospital bed and the tubes, before Wilson sobbing next to a body that wouldn't move and a bleeding brain that couldn't think fast enough to save her. Bright blue eyes, lips painted red, honey blonde hair starch straight.
He tried to ignored the traitorous whisper in the back of his mind of, "You killed her."
"Oh, come on. It was nearly four years ago," Amber said with a roll of her eyes. "You need to get over it."
"You want me to get over killing you?"
"Duh. Pretty sad that I moved on from my death before you did." She shook her head exasperatedly. "Anyway, the point is–" she began.
"There's a point?" House cut across her.
"Haven't you learned by now that there's always a point?" she asked. "I'm here to tell you something."
"Are you going to impart on me the meaning of life? Let me guess: we're all dust in the wind."
Amber just smiled at him.
"House," she said, eyes pinning him in place. "You're getting a second chance."
Then there was a bright flash, and House knew no more.
As the sun set on Princeton, Wilson began to grow worried.
He sat in his office, absent-mindedly rifling through patient files. He breathed heavily through his nose and leaned back, abandoning the pretense that he was actually working.
It was a typical day, really. House did something insane and self-destructive, and left him behind to worry about the consequences for House and everyone around him. Why the hell House would think it was a good idea to discharge himself so quickly after surgery was beyond him. Then again, most of what House did nowadays was beyond him.
He keeps getting worse.
House was likely passed out on his couch at that very moment, an empty bottle of vicodin in his hand and a drained bottle of bourbon on his coffee table. Wilson had been struggling to decide whether he should stop filling out vicodin scrips for House. Some days, Wilson wanted to burn his prescription pad and call every doctor in the tri-state area and make sure that Greg House never got his hands on anything stronger than Ibuprofen.
Unfortunately, as House put it, he needed unreasonable amounts of vicodin, because he pained in unreasonable ways. And House in pain (moreso than usual) could be a danger to himself and everyone around him.
But House had been doing just fine off of vicodin for the past year in a half. Before Cuddy broke up with him, he had been doing... good? He wasn't sure that House did 'good', but nevertheless, he'd been in the best state he'd been in since he and Stacy were together... before the infarction. Before everything went sideways.
Wilson had honestly thought of calling Dr. Nolan. Perhaps House's former psychiatrist could have some insight on how to react to House's recent insanity. First he jumps out of a fifteenth story window, goes on a drugs, booze, and hooker-filled rampage, gets married, starts taking experimental drugs that had only been tested on rats, and then to top it all off, he tried to perform surgery on himself in his bathtub with only local anesthetic.
What was next? Could it even get worse?
It's House, he reminded himself. It can and will always get worse.
His best friend wasn't exactly on the road to recovery.
Wilson rubbed his forehead and sighed. He needed to get his mind off of House, or he'd be killing himself with worry. He decided to call him and just talk to him. Speed dial two was pressed, and moments later he was listening to House's voicemail with a furrowed brow.
"Hello! You've reached Dr. Gregory House. If you're a patient seeking a consult, bother someone else. If you're a doctor seeking a consult, also bother someone else. Or try Web MD. If you're one of my lackeys and actually have something relevant to a case, keep calling, and maybe I'll pick up if I get bored enough. If you're Cuddy or Wilson, yes I'm still alive, and no I don't want to talk about my feelings."
The long beep then came, and Wilson left a brief message.
"House, it's me. Call me back."
He jammed his thumb on the end button and pushed his cell phone back into his pants pocket. Wilson shoved himself out of his chair and decided to head down to the clinic. He had six hours that needed doing, and he wasn't accomplishing anything by sitting in his office and staring at the wall, wondering what House was doing. If he didn't call back, he'd go to his apartment after work and check on him.
On his way to the third floor elevator, he ran into Thirteen. Remy, he mentally corrected himself. He had been wanting to stop using that nickname for a long time, now. Wilson thought it was too cruel a reminder of the ticking time bomb of a neurological disease that would eventually kill her.
"Hey," Wilson greeted her, and she nodded at him as they stepped into the elevator together.
"What floor?" she asked with a raised eyebrow and light tone.
"Clinic," he replied. Another nod, and she hit the button for the ground floor.
"Same here. We discharged our 'artist', and House hasn't decide to grace us with his presence or let us know if we're free to go, so I figure I might as well kill time in the clinic," she informed him.
"What are the others doing?" he asked. Thirteen let out a snort of derision in response.
"Please. The minute House was gone, they bolted out the door."
"Men," Wilson said sarcastically. Thirteen smirked at him.
"So..." And that was really all she needed to say.
"I don't know," Wilson answered, more harsh than he meant to. Thirteen didn't seem taken aback.
"Don't know what?"
"I don't know how House is doing. I assumed that's what you were going to ask. He discharged himself an hour ago and I don't know where he is, how he is, or what he's doing," he said in a tired tone as the elevator door binged open to reveal the ER bay.
"Ah," was Thirteen's only response. "Are you worried?"
Wilson thought about how to respond, and deemed the younger doctor trustworthy.
"...Yes. Yes, I'm worried. I called him, but he didn't pick up."
"Foreman tried to call him about fifteen minutes ago. No answer with him either."
Wilson remained silent at this statement. His worry had only increased now. It was unusual for House to ignore calls on his phone. The diagnostician may act flippant and uncaring towards his patient, but his phone rarely got the chance to ring more than once before he picked it up to see if there was something wrong with his patient of the week.
Thirteen and Wilson plodded silently through the ER. He tried to avoid looking at the patients. He guessed by the open ER bay doors and rush of gurneys and shouting, that there had been an accident of some kind. Car accidents were always the worst, always. Before Amber, they hadn't fazed him.
That wasn't the case anymore.
Still, he couldn't keep his eyes from landing on the newest patient of PPTH. A man, covered in blood, broken, and near death. There was something familiar about him that Wilson couldn't place. The left side of his head was so completely caked in blood, and Wilson thought he saw what he guessed was brain matter. A crumpled, destroyed arm lay jammed against the gurney railing, and both of his legs looked equally damaged. Wilson felt a surge of compassion; it wasn't likely he would make it through the night, with injuries like that–
Wilson abruptly froze in his tracks and his thoughts.
His eyes were glued to the jacket the man was wearing. It was a black leather motorcycle jacket, with a red stripe over the breast...