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Title: It's Later Than You Think
Rating: M (Themes of (assisted)suicide, depression and mild drug use)
Summary: It had been three months since Wilson had given up and gone running into the big bright light... Gregory House gave up his life so his best friend wouldn't have to spend his last moments alone. And now he is a ghost. What do ghosts do? They haunt the living, and this one has a promise to keep.

Originally posted here

**
It had been three months since Wilson had given up and gone running into the big bright light. The bastard.

Wilson was the guy that kept him going. The one constant in a life that enjoyed slapping him in the face. And kicking him in the leg. And kneeing him in the balls. Wilson stood buy and kept the earth turning. Polar opposite and exact replicate. They were both sarcastic assholes, honest—with each other at least—and for the last six months, in constant pain. But Wilson was good, in his heart. And House? He was a ghost. Given up his life for his best friend, there was nothing left for him in this world.

He'd been desiccating in their apartment for the last three months. Drinking himself stupid, drugging himself numb, wishing himself dead. But not dead. Death was boring. There was nothing in death. No puzzle, no obsession, no drugs. No pain, his mind whispered softly, in Cameron's voice, reminiscent of the burning building, the night he'd burnt Gregory House up, never wanting to look back. But now he was walking backwards, trying to remember when life wasn't a ball of steaming crap.

Suicide… The word sang through his ears like a siren song, alluring. Wouldn't be the first time he thought about it. Attempted it. But that wasn't why it played in his thoughts. What does a ghost do? It haunts the living. And even a ghost can keep their promises. No more Amber in his hallucinations. That would be too easy. Now, like a constant prissy little bastard whispering in his ear, was a conscience. Could you live with yourself if you didn't help her? Could you die happily? A conscience with Wilson's face.

So that's why he got up off of his ass, got dressed for the first time in three months and waded through mountains of take-out boxes and monster-truck DVDs to the front door.

He took care of his own pain first.

In his truck he drove the two motorcycles to a cliff-edge. Revved them up and watched them shoot off the edge of horizon, falling to scrap before even reaching the jagged rocks at the bottom of the Canyon.

Then he climbed into the truck and drove.

**

Every night, he appeared.

She was so drugged up to fight the pain she couldn't tell hallucinations from reality anymore, but the hallucination was always the same. He would turn up in her room, a ghost.

That was the ironic part.

Yeah, the guy was dead. The one person who was supposed to stay, to kill her when she couldn't stand to live anymore, couldn't take the pain. And the asshole had gone and died first. Killed himself. Man, he could have at least done her first.

But in her dreams, he was more alive than anything. He was the one reminding her what life was. Why it was worth living, fighting.

Endless strings of lovers would take on his face, take her into the throes of pleasure, of bliss. Then, every time in the worst possible moment, heavy, drug-addled eyes would flutter open, and the illusion would die. He would be gone. And she would lie back, wait for her bed mate to leave and cry herself to sleep. Wake up in agony, clutching her stomach, force down one of those nauseating nutrition supplement drinks and begin the whole bastard thing again.

Nursing a drink was the part when the knock sounded at the door.

Slowly, crawling though the gnawing, agonising pain towards the door, she managed to stand. Didn't know who it would be. Didn't care. When your body did whatever the hell it liked, wrenched you in the gut with pain, made you so dependant on painkillers they were the first thing you reached for every morning without even thinking, and made it almost impossible to force your starved ass outside of the front door afraid you wouldn't make it to the edge of the sidewalk before doubling over; you didn't care about a whole lot.

Wrenching open the door took up more energy that she would have liked. Looking at who was there sent it rushing back.

One hand reached out to touch his face. "House? Are you real?"

"No, I'm a vampire, back from the grave."

Thirteen raised an eyebrow. "Why aren't you dead?"

"The better question would be—"

She kneed him in the balls, using up all of her energy and making her pant. It was so worth it.

"Ow?"

"Had to make sure you weren't a hallucination. Are you coming inside?"

He used his cane to get back to his feet, then to keep the door from slamming in his face.

Three beers and a shared joint later, the two were sat in the living room, amongst the piles of dirty clothes, wine bottles and chemical smoke. "So Wilson…"

"Is dead. Yeah."

She looked at her troubled ex-boss. "And how are you…" Dealing with it? Coping? Managing to survive without the only person you really cared about that wasn't you?

He met her darkened eyes, red from crying, bags from sleeplessness, dry and tight from pain. "Well, I was just about ready to actually kill myself, then I remembered I promised to kill you first. Lo and behold!" He motioned to himself.

"Life sucks and then you die? That's not your mentality, House, you're more 'everything sucks, but dying is eternal sucking'. What are you gonna do, lie in the ground forever and wonder what life might have been?"

"No, dumbass, I'm gonna kill myself and lie in the ground forever and be dead."

"If you're here to wallow, get out, I've got my own life to mourn, I don't need to add Wilson's and yours to my list. If you're here to be a friend, and support me, the couch is all yours." She got to her feet, struggling a little—she was very weak—and began walking away from him. Her slim body was now almost skeletal. The girl was sick, more than House had first realized.

"And the third option?"

She faced him, eyes sparkling, more alive than she'd looked in a while. "If you're here to remind me what it means to be alive, take your clothes off." Smirking, she turned her back on him and closed her bedroom door.

She wanted him, had done for longer than she realized. And if he came in, she would let him make her feel alive. But God, she was tired. It wouldn't hurt to lie down, rest her eyes for a second, would it? Her body made the decision, drifting into oblivion before she could make a conscious decision.

**

Gregory House arrived at Remy Hadley's door at 4am. Knocked on the door. The Window. Kicked the door. Nothing. "Thirteen!" Kicked again. "Thirteen, get you ass out here!" Nothing. He launched himself at the door, it took three knocks before finally giving way. "Thirteen! Remy?" He was using her real name. It was bad. There was still no reply.

The apartment was black. Darkness was not to blame. The walls caked in dust, clothes strewn in messy piles, some not even hers. The place reeked of marijuana, the smell weaving into his skin and clothes. There was a chemical smell too, other drugs, some prescription, some illegal, some just plain deadly. Pill bottles littered the hallway.

The kitchen had no food in it. The trash was empty.

The bedroom was a mess; just like the hallway but with a bed messily made as it's focal point. In it's centre a huddled figure lay contorted in tiredness and incomparable pain. Even through clothes that the body swam in, stark, sharp bones protruded from transparent skin. Her sexy slanted eyes marred by the heavy black circles weighing them down, purple veins visible beneath tightly stretched skin. He touched her hollowed out cheek. "Thirteen?" She was cold.

"Pretend I did this. Pretend I saved you."

He would find her lying in the hallway, convulsing in pain, broken, but breathing. He would lift her in his arms. She would be too frail, too weightless. But she would still be alive. "House." She would whisper, voice cracked and almost soundless, "are you really here?"

"Yes."

"Are you here to kill me?" Her face buries itself in his shoulder, he cradles her like a child. Her body would be wrong, waif-thin and sharp, not soft and gently curved. She would still be beautiful.

"Shh."

He would place her body down on the bed, huddled in pain. Her arm raises, pointing into the bathroom, shaking wracking her body with barely contained violence. "It's in the cabinet. I knew it was stupid, but I always hoped someone, anyone, would come and help me. I hoped it would be you."

He would slowly step inside the bathroom, careful to not take his eyes off of her, like she might fade if his eyes don't follow her. It's Wilson all over again. It's so different, so the same. He would open the bathroom cabinet. It's bare, but for one empty syringe and a bottle of clear liquid.

"It's not the Swiss stuff, just what I could swipe from the hospital. It should still work." Euthanasia.

He would nod and turn to face her. Wander back into her bedroom and lay on the bed beside her, pulling her head into his lap with an arm around her waist. Intimate, innocent, soft. He would kiss her forehead.

"Is it time to say goodnight?" She would laugh softly, not comprehending the finality of the moment. The syringe full of death's toxicity slips inside the back of her hand. A tear she doesn't understand would fall slowly down a sallow cheek, the calloused hand that wipes it away rough on fragile skin.

The plunger would be pushed slowly downwards, death infecting her bloodstream. She would sigh slightly, exhaustion like weights on tired eyes, pulling down lids slowly. Remy Hadley would fall into a sleep. He would hold her tightly as the life drained from her body. Then he would be holding a corpse. And he did it, he let her die.

But he didn't. That was a lie.

If the room didn't already resemble a bomb site, he would have torn it to shreds, feeling the insatiable urge to destroy something, or scream or do anything. It wasn't fair. Dammit! How could he feel so damn hopeless, helpless? Jesus Christ. His leg pain thrummed to life, screaming at him to fix the crap pile that had become of the world. But that was just it, wasn't it? God's final slap in the face, kick in the nuts. He was worthless and had no power. He could do nothing to save anyone anymore, not even those he cared about. He just watched as everything died and he couldn't do a damn thing about any of it.

He'd screwed up, left it too late. The Huntington's had gotten her. No, that wasn't right; she'd OD'd. Or starved to death. God, he was so lost, so damn tired that he couldn't care enough to work it out. Him. Gregory House didn't want to solve the puzzle. Too much had changed, too much had hurt. Everyone had died on him, but then, hadn't he died on all of them first? He wasn't exactly real anymore, not really alive; and by this point he didn't want to be. He was such a screw up, such a worthless bastard that he couldn't even kill someone right. What kind of doctor was he? What the hell was he anymore? But he knew:

He was too late.
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