Archive: Anywhere, just let me know so I can brag...hehe.
Disclaimers: All known characters and premises belong to their respective owners. So there.
Summary: No, this sacrifice would be her own.
NOTES: Written for oravannahka for the House Het Ficathon. My requirements were:
3 things that must be included in the fic: a pencil, a phone, and an apple
3 things that cannot be included in the fic: suddenlynice!House, suddenlyabsent!Mark, magicallycured!House
She lay in bed, ruminating the man slumbering beside, lost in a tangle of legs and sheets. Legs that were slowly beginning to respond to commands; a body that was slowly healing. She brushed a hand through his hair, smiling sadly as she blinked away images of a lover once had.
Every human being experiences some form of guilt. Some brood, some mutilate themselves, some over-eat while others might drown away the evidence.
Some offer layered affection, misplaced and balancing out the wrong.
"You're awake early." Laden with sleep, his words spilled out heavily as his eyes remained closed as he settled himself, burying the side of his face deeper into the pillow.
She laughed a little, despite the situation offering no humour. She glanced down, guilt toying with her mind. Some sort of twisted courage put on a smile, it's forgery unseen by closed eyes. "Couldn't sleep." Her words were soft, fluffed and pillowed to his ears as he sailed back towards dreams; dreams she hoped didn't mirror the reality of her feelings. Of her wrongdoings. "I have work until five, but I'll leave early today." She placed a kiss on his forehead, smiling softly when he didn't respond. "What are they going to do...fire me?" She laughed to herself, forceful and empty. "I'm leaving him...for you." The words tumbled out in a whisper, and she held her breath for his stirring realization.
But he slept. Lived in a dream that she wanted to be a part of. A dream she knew he welcomed her in, kept her safe and loved her more than she deserved, more than she felt she deserved. A dream where she loved him more than reality. And that's where it sifted into fantasy.
She pushed herself out of bed, picking up her suit that had laid anxiously, waiting from the night before. She checked the clock, calculating a thirteen minute shower and seven minutes to get dressed. She showered with a controlled rapidity, her body methodically going through the actions while her mind continued to concoct the perfect schedule. Her itinerary needed to be perfect to balance out the imperfections that lay in her day. Some things were beyond her control, so she strived to hold command where she could.
Twenty minutes and seventeen seconds found her leaning against the counter, warm toast crumbs being whisked away by a crisp napkin while bitter coffee slipped down her throat. Two more minutes to finish breakfast and two more to get her bag, shoes and jacket and one to make her way to her car, start the engine and head to work. Thirty minutes with traffic, which allowed five minutes to settle in and begin the day. She sighed, staring straight ahead as she finished her coffee.
She jumped slightly, lost thoughts having infiltrated her otherwise keen sense of observation, of awareness.
"What are you doing up?" Her smile was sincere, laced with pride as she walked over to him, coffee still in hand.
Mark smiled, leaning heavily on his crutches, welcoming her embrace. He guided her cup to his lips, taking a small sip.
She finished off the rest, placing the cup in his hand. She began to put on her shoes, folding her jacket across her arm, and shouldering her bag. "I'll be – "
" – coming home early, yes I know."
She glanced up, lips slightly parted in a light shock. She tried to swallow her anxiety, unsure at how much of her morning babbling he had retained, wondering if, while on sleep's cusp, her words had manifested into his dreams.
He held her gaze, nodding towards the door. "You're point twenty-two seconds late, dear."
She broke into a smile, walking over and kissing him gently on the lips, breaking away after a few small pecks. "I'll call you during lunch." She grabbed an apple from the fruit basket and jogged to her car, pulling out of the driveway seconds later, knowing that she'd be two minutes late. She smiled secretly to herself, knowing those two minutes with him were well-worth it.
She found him still sitting in his office at the end of the day, phone still balancing on two fingers from the page she had received six minutes ago. She watched the back of his head, knowing he was watching her through the window he sat facing. She felt him sigh, watched his shoulders sag, defeated. "Tough case?" She ventured, letting the door swing quietly shut behind her.
"Is that what our relationship has come to? Small talk?" He spoke, still not facing her. "Ask me about the weather next..."
"I have to resort to small talk because there's no other way to keep our relationship civilized. We either fight, or fall into bed - "
" - both of which leave you feeling incredibly guilty." He interrupted, swivelling around, holding her gaze. "If you're guilty, go see Cuddy - she's also the Dean in that department." He distractedly twirled a pencil.
"We feel guilty because we're able to discern right from wrong, because we're able to care. Guilt is a human quality, Greg. Don't tell me you've never felt any guilt."
His eyes darkened, memories flashing of events experienced and those wished ending in a differing fate. "We all have our demons." The words were soft, reminiscent. "But its how we deal with them that allow us to deal with ourselves." He glanced down, eyes unfocused. "I have no trouble sleeping at night."
She smiled sadly, scoffing an exhalation. "You don't sleep." She moved towards him, finding comfort in memories. "You used to keep me up all night, fingers playing imaginary keys down my spine. My ribs became your xylophone - my stomach your drum." She leaned against his desk, looking down at his avoiding eyes. "I never could hear the music, but I could see it in your eyes, feel it in your pulse..." She took the pencil from his hand, scribbling down a number on his prescription pad, one that held more doodles and dirty jokes rather than actual healing intentions. "Call me sometime..."
"You know that won't happen." He replied, holding back the venom in his voice - anger towards himself, misdirected at her.
"A gal can dream." She replied.
"That same dream you're living now?" He asked, standing up and limping over to her. "You don't love him, you love me. You're with him because he treats you better, makes you feel better." He shook his head. "You're in love with the way he makes you feel...not him."
She reached up, gently cupping his face. "Don't spoil our goodbye," she whispered, thumb tracing over his lower lip. She leaned in, kissing him softly on the corner of his mouth. She turned, hands thrust in her pockets as she walked out, not daring to acknowledge his expression, knowing that his eyes still rested on her form.
"You were point-twenty-two seconds late...I began to worry."
She glanced up, smiling. "Hey." She walked up, kissing Mark on the lips, hands resting against his hips.
"Last day, huh?" He looked around the hospital, eyes avoiding the direction of his office. "All finished?"
Sacrifices had already been made, at the expense of one she loved. She refused to drag another into the abyss of her guilt. She glanced back, towards his office. "Pretty much, yeah." No, this sacrifice would be her own.