Remember Me

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: This is set after the season two finale. AU, I suppose, since I haven't seen season three. Please be aware that I have seen only eps 1, 2, and season 2. I haven't seen season one and I haven't seen season three. Here's hoping I haven't tread too heavily on canon. Also, not betaed, not even spell checked.

Johnny stared down at the pills in his hand and wished the damned things would show him something.

He'd thought at first that he'd picked the wrong method, that he wasn't being shown his death because he'd chosen the wrong method for it. So he'd tried fashioning a noose, but that didn't work either. Neither did the gun he bought, quietly, for himself. Or the knife he'd found for his wrists, or his car when he considered the carbon monoxide route. He didn't really want to jump off of anything--too public--so he didn't even try touching any of the buildings he might have chosen for a leap.

Eventually Johnny just had to resign himself to the fact that his visions weren't playing ball this time and went back to his first choice. Pills. Painkillers, specifically. They were intended to help him out with his leg when nothing Bruce could do would help, but they'd serve another purpose just as well. Unfortunately, the pills weren't strong enough to get him on their own, not just one bottle, so instead of waiting until he could reasonably ask Dr. Gibson for another prescription Johnny was counting on half a bottle of scotch to do the trick.

He'd already had two or three shots, just in case he didn't have the presence of mind--or the time--to get the rest down after he took the pills. Common sense and the instructions on the prescription bottle told him that it would take around forty minutes for the pills to dissolve and combine with the alcohol and get into his bloodstream, which meant he better get his ass in gear and swallow the damn things before someone came looking for him.

Still, he hesitated, fingering the little mound of pills in the hollow of his hand. It would be nice to get a little confirmation that his death would have the desired effect. His visions had given him enough headaches--literal and figurative--over the years. Surely a little reassurance at the end wasn't too much to ask for.

Well, at least if he died and it didn't do any good he wouldn't see the end of the world coming any more.

Letting out a slow breath, Johnny tossed the handful of painkillers into his mouth and washed them down with a swig of alcohol straight from the bottle. They stuck in his throat a little, but a few fast swallows suppressed the gag impulse and the pills went down. It didn't take much to finish off the bottle. When it was empty Johnny set it on the dining room table next to the prescription bottle.

At first the combination seemed to weigh heavily in his belly, as if he could really feel the insignificant volume of poison in his stomach. But the longer he sat there, knowing it was done, knowing everything was finished, the calmer Johnny got. It was all over. Soon Sarah wouldn't be torn between two men anymore. Soon Walt wouldn't have to worry about someone taking away his son. Soon JJ would forget about the near-stranger who kept showing up and bugging him. Soon Bruce could go back to a normal life, helping people regain their health instead of being hauled around as some kind of reference for Johnny's visions.

Bruce. Johnny figured Bruce would be the one to find him. It was why he'd chosen pills in the first place. All the other methods he could have chosen for his death were so gruesome. Bad enough that his best friend was going to have to deal with him corpse. He didn't need to with the kind of mess that induces nightmares, too. Not that the scene he would walk in on would be particularly clean. Johnny had seen enough death--real or visionary--to know that it was never clean. But at least there would be no blood and no hideously swinging body.

It took a moment for the soft electronic beeping to register. By the time Johnny realized what was happening and turned towards the door, Bruce was already through it, calling out cheerfully. Johnny lunged for the prescription bottle, hoping to tuck it out of sight and hope that his friend just thought he was drunk.

Instead, his fingers knocked it over and sent it rolling across the table, the lip of the lid turning it into a wide arc. The bottle fell off the edge of the table and bumped up against Bruce's running shoes. Johnny could feel the blood draining out of his face as Bruce crouched down and picked up the bottle, examining it with a puzzled expression.

"John," Bruce said, looked away from the bottle to meet Johnny's eyes, "if your leg was hurting..." He trailed off, eyes fixing on the empty bottle of scotch. "Oh, no," he breathed, eyes meeting Johnny's. "How many pills were left in the bottle?" he asked.

"Let it go, Bruce," Johnny said, standing shakily. "Just let it go."

Bruce's expression hardened. "Like hell I will!"

Johnny turned and actually got a few uneven running steps in before Bruce caught up with him, almost tackling him. They stumbled, but didn't actually go down to the floor. Johnny never had a chance to get his feet under him. Bruce kept shoving him, keeping him off balance, herding him into the bathroom.

"No!" Johnny shouted, balking at the door, but Bruce was stronger. Powerful arms forced Johnny down, his knees cracking painfully against the floor tiles. He was still gasping with the pain when a firm hand on his neck bent him over the bathtub and a relentless finger was shoved down his throat. He gagged heavily, trying to swallow it down, but Bruce just pushed harder, until reflex overcame will and Johnny heaved, spewing vomit into the bathtub.

After that the smell was enough to keep him going. There was barely enough time to gasp enough breath before another mouthful of scotch and pills and bile came up. It seemed like an eternity before he was finished, but when at last there was nothing to spit out but bitter saliva, Bruce was speaking into the phone.

"...more than ten minutes. The pills hadn't had much time to dissolve yet," he was saying. 911, Johnny guessed. The papers are going to love this. "Yeah," Bruce went on. "And something alcoholic. I'm guessing scotch or whiskey, about half a bottle from what I saw. Yeah. Listen, can I get off the line now? I know. I know I'm supposed to stay on, but I think I need to talk to my friend here. Yeah, he's conscious. No. No. I'm hanging up now." There was a quiet beep.

Weakly, Johnny turned his head and found Bruce glaring at him from where he sat across the bathroom doorway, back to the sink and legs extended as if he was guarding against an escape attempt. "You want to tell me what the hell this was about before the ambulance gets here?" Bruced demanded, gesturing at the now filthy bathtub. Johnny swallowed heavily and managed to keep his gorge down this time.

"I think that's obvious," he said after a moment. "I was trying to kill myself. You have incredible timing, Bruce. I don't think enough of the alcohol even got into my system to get me drunk." He certainly felt disgustingly sober. Maybe it was the sour smell of puke. It was almost enough to get him out of the bathroom, if only he didn't have to go past Bruce.

"You want to tell me why you were trying to kill yourself?"

Relentless, Johnny sighed and managed to turn over from a kneeling position into a sitting one. "Does it really matter?"

"It does if you don't want to be put on a suicide watch," Bruce said bluntly.

"I had a vision," Johnny said softly. "Christopher showed me. A magazine cover. 'Will this man cause the end of the world?'"

Bruce stared at him for a long moment. "A magazine cover. John, that's not proof that you're responsible. That's a media gloryhound looking for sales."

Johnny shook his head. "The Cleaves Mills press takes me seriously, Bruce, not the national press. Unless you count the National Enquirer. For a cover like that...there had to be a reason. My life isn't worth the end of the world. It's the biggest variable I can change. Besides, I'm already on bonus time." He waved one hand. "Just restoring the balance."

"And what if your death doesn't change anything?" Bruce demanded. "What if killing yourself took away the last chance there was to stop it from happening?"

"At least you wouldn't know it was coming," Johnny said tiredly. "At least you could believe things had changed enough to stop it."

"John," Bruce said. His voice was low but intense, and he didn't go on until Johnny raised his head and met his gaze. "You're the one who changes things. How could it be different unless you were there?"

Not for the first time, Johnny wasn't quite sure what to say in the face of Bruce's faith in him. It was different than Gene Purdy's faith, which was laden with religious implications that Johnny couldn't quite swallow. Bruce's faith was infinitely more personal. When Bruce backed him up, even John believed he could really make things better. Even his most unlikely visions felt a little more real when he told Bruce about them.

"Well," Jonny sighed, "at least now I know why I couldn't see my death."

"I know you're tired, man." Bruce's eyes were warm and understanding. His hold on Johnny's gaze was almost tangible. "I know you better than to think that that magazine is the only reason you did this. You just remember: you're not alone here. If you need a little more strength, you've got more to lean on than that cane."

Johnny shook his head. "You'd be better off without me," he muttered, rubbing a hand over his face. "You, Walt, Sarah,'d all be better off without me. I wasn't supposed to wake up. I shouldn't have woken up."

"Is that what you think?" Bruce snorted. "Johnny, you are one of the most ridiculously selfless people I know. Hell, you are the most ridiculously selfless person I know. Having someone like that in our lives can only make them better. And if you don't believe me," he held out his hand, "see for yourself."

Smiling despite himself, Johnny waved his hand away. "I don't need a vision, Bruce. I believe you."

Bruce smiled back. "Look anyway."

Hesitently, even with a friend, Johnny slowly clasped the offered hand.

Sometimes the visions struck like a punch. Sometimes they were physically painful. This time, it was more like stepping into a warm shower. Moments from their shared pasted rained down on him, dozens of fragments of memory.

Bruce laughing and applauding as he took his first steps since waking up.

Bruce's startled disbelief and momentary wonder at the first vision Johnny shared with him.

His own face, smiling wryly.

The two of them running after...

...driving towards...

...sneaking up on someone who needed something they didn't want and hadn't asked for.

Woven through it all was a thread of trust and warmth that didn't surprise Johnny at all until he realized that it wasn't his, it was Bruce's. That was how Bruce felt about him. Blinking, Johnny came slowly back to reality, his eyes meeting his friend's across their clasped hands.

"Don't give up on me now, John," Bruce said intently. "I've put too much work into you."

John smiled. "I think I'm going to need reminding every now and then," he admitted, giving Bruce's hand a little squeeze.

Bruce squeezed back. "That's what I'm here for, my friend."