Fandom: House MD
Characters: Wilson, Chase (Cuddy, Foreman, Cameron)
Challenge/Prompt: fanfic100, 037. Sound
Genre: Gen (it’s meant as gen, read something else if you want actual slash)
Copyright: Two quotes from “Famous Blue Raincoat” by Leonard Cohen, because it was the most miserable song I could think of, and one quote from “Hamlet” by Shakespeare. Title taken from a Scissor Sisters song about dying (ish).
Warnings: CONTAINS MAJOR CHARACTER DEATH.
Summary: What if the events of “No Reason” actually turned out to be fatal?
Author’s Notes: Oops, I killed House.
Either he’s dead, or my watch has stopped.
Click… click… click
Two sets of high heels echo their way down the corridor, throwing out sharp staccato beats into the stale and tired air of Princeton/Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Robert Chase bites his thumbnail and watches Eric Foreman readjust his tie for about the twentieth time in as many seconds.
Click… click… click
Allison Cameron’s face is an impassive mask, held together with foundation and waterproof mascara. Lisa Cuddy is a blank, dark hair falling around her shoulders. They walk down the corridor side by side, shoes clicking in unison, visions in black. Robert bites his thumbnail harder, right down to the quick. It hurts and that’s a good thing, all things considered.
“James is…” Lisa’s voice falters. “…Already there.”
Robert nods to show he understands, forcibly removing his fingers from his mouth before they start bleeding any worse. It’s been a long week.
“Come on,” Eric says softly, like he knows he’s got to be the one in charge. “We don’t want to be late.”
-And the weather forecast for today is mostly sunny, with hints of cloud, but if you’re in-
Allison turns the radio off in a decisive manner, and they’re left in a mostly silent car. Eric taps his fingers on the steering wheel, gnawing his lower lip as he waits for the lights to change from red to green. Allison sits beside him in the passenger seat, fiddling with her fingernails, a strand of hair falling out of her neat bun and curling down her cheek. Robert and Lisa sit in the back, silent, biting their nails and fiddling with the hem of their skirt respectively.
Robert can only think that right now he’d rather be anywhere but here.
Crunch crunch crunch
The paths in the cemetery are made of gravel and it makes disconcerting scrunching sounds under their shoes. Robert clenches his hands in the pockets of his slacks and decides that it’s nice here. Nice enough for its purposes anyway. Allison nearly stumbles and he catches her arm, fingers digging in a little too hard because he’s forgotten all sorts of things, like how to touch without it hurting. She doesn’t say a word either way.
… will be very much missed by his family, friends and colleagues…
Robert wonders vaguely if there’s a class you go to in the later years of seminary school that teaches you how to have the right mix of melancholy and comfort in your voice. This priest certainly has it down pat. He licks his lips nervously and chances a look around at the unsettlingly large crowd of black-clad people.
House’s mother is sobbing into a handkerchief; her husband has his arm mechanically around her, his eyes downcast, military stiff upper lip lasting even now. Allison has her face buried in Eric’s shoulder. Lisa is twisting her hands together in determined silence. There are three women with a huge bouquet of white roses that Robert will later learn are James Wilson’s ex-wives. There are doctors and nurses and Crandall and his daughter (daughter?) standing next to a man Robert will find out is James’ older brother. Stacy, wan and traumatised, unable to make eye contact.
James himself is standing beside Robert, hands in his pockets, lips pressed together in a thin line. Expressionless. Emotionless. Trembling like a leaf anyway.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…
The priest closes the Bible with a soft, papery sound and House’s casket is lowered into the earth. Flowers rain down on the mahogany top, and Robert vaguely imagines hearing them say things like goodbye and I understand now and as the huge bouquet of white roses falls in Robert actually hears the three women murmur thank you for ruining my marriage. Some things will never change.
…No, I know, it came as such a shock…
No one actively wants to be at the wake. No one intimately close to House wants to be, anyway. Robert finds a flight of steps to sit on with a glass of tonic water and draws his knees up to his chest and listens to fragments of conversations around him. He decides then and there that he won’t go to the memorial.
“James,” he says, as the other man walks close enough to him. “Come and sit down.”
James obeys, sitting down beside him on the steps, looking tired and awkward. Robert offers him his glass. James takes a sip.
“It’s not that sort of day.” At the look on James’ face, Robert adds: “Not yet, anyway.”
Scratch. Scratch scratch.
One week after the funeral and Robert is sprawled uncomfortably on a couch on the third floor, talking to a psychiatrist because when your boss has been shot dead in front of you you apparently need some kind of therapy. She’s scribbling away on her pad, and Robert frowns, since he hasn’t yet said a word.
“Can we not do this right now?” he asks hopefully.
“Dr Chase, we need to-”
“Yes, and we will,” he agrees quickly. “Just… not now. Ok?”
“Ok,” she smiles, and they sit together in almost companionable silence for a while.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
It’s late. There’s this patient dying. Or not dying. There’s no House to diagnose her and Robert and Allison and Eric can’t work out what’s wrong with her.
“I don’t know how to fix you,” Robert whispers to her helplessly. The glass door behind him swishes open and he turns to see James walk in. He knows that James has heard him but there’s nothing they can do because they both know that without House a whole lot of people will become unfixable.
Tick… tick… tick
The wristwatch on Robert’s watch is making just about the loudest sound in the room. James sits quietly on one side of his desk and folds a sheet of paper into an origami crane, just to give himself something to do with his hands.
“You need to talk to someone,” Robert says softly.
“I’m in just as much therapy as you are,” James tells him.
“We both know that’s not what I meant.” There’s no House, no Julie, Lisa’s a wreck, and James is trapped alone and potentially traumatised.
“I have a patient,” James says swiftly, “You need to go.”
Robert doesn’t push it.
“Astonishing, isn’t it? Who would want to hurt you?”
And the whiteboard was on the ground and Cameron was gasping and Foreman and Chase were trying to come forward but so terrified because how many shots did he have left? and House was bleeding out and the gun raised for another shot.
There was another shot that blew most of House’s face open and Cameron was instantly sick and Chase couldn’t breathe because it wasn’t ever supposed to end like this.
Robert has this nightmare more often than he wants to admit; it’s too close, still, this death and the murder and he’ll have to testify at the trial and all he really wants to do is cry.
You’re living for nothing now, I hope that you’re keeping some kind of record…
It’s a night for Leonard Cohen and misery and the taste of tears on his lips. Robert has acknowledged this and prepared and there’s an unopened bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the coffee table, waiting for him to make his choice. It’s late and he’s tired and his black suit is still crumpled on the floor in the bedroom and he realises that he is still resoundingly in shock and that he may never stop being unable to think straight.
Knock. Knock. Knock knock knock “Robert!”
“I wasn’t expecting you,” Robert says, pulling open his door to find James standing uncomfortably in the doorway. “Please, come in.”
It’s awkward but it could be more awkward and to be honest Robert is grateful for the company. He gets James to sit on his sofa and offers him a drink and then the tears break for both of them, finally. Finally.
On the last time we saw you you looked so much older- your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
There’s nothing in the room but Leonard Cohen and his permanently miserable slow tone, and the helpless sounds of sobs that can’t and won’t be held down any longer.
It’s catharsis. But it really isn’t.
Tap. Tap tap. Tap.
Robert sits at the table in the diagnostics department and sips his coffee and keeps his eyes closed. His head aches and he’s so, so damn tired. And his mind keeps fixating on one thing.
It’s the sound you don’t really notice and won’t miss until it’s gone.
Tap. Tap tap. Tap.
The sound of a cane on cleanly varnished floors. Gone. Completely gone. Irreversibly gone.
Tap. Tap tap. Tap.
The rest is silence.