One Fine Mystifying Dance
Disclaimer: Shore, etc. own most. Not all. squees
Lyrics from If Only You Were Lonely by Hawthorne Heights.
T-shirt slogan from T-shirt Hell the site
The term of endearment, 'Evil Nurse Brenda' comes from Sara M., who usually writes the synopsis for House on Television Without Pity. cackles in remembrance at her description of 'Kids' I've never laughed so hard in my life. Poor Foreman.
Summary: It was like seeing an amalgamation of all the many things—and the few, in his case—that let her shine made manifest. The point of view skips around more than a little and I can only hope it adds to the quality of the story.
Inspiration: The aforementioned squee-filled comment threads; Life of Pi by Yann Martel; comment threads with blushingsigh and inkcat
Notes: Right, so I suppose I'm jumping on the speculation train regarding the equation, h+c? We'll see what develops.
Sleep, sleep little darling
I swear, I'm not trying to wear you out
I'm not trying to drag you down
It was always a blur, even now. Memories of dark blue eyes, brown hair, and giggles. Crying red faces and tears that used to bother him about children, but don't right now. Not from his. He supposes he's become accustomed to it. Intense observation on his part that started the moment Daniel was born hasn't allowed him to miss much. He wouldn't have it any other way. Every morning, they have traditions. The tying of shoes, the brushing of teeth, and questions.
"Daddy?" Daniel asks, his face creased in thought. "Why is red called 'red?'"
House looks over from the sink where he brushes his teeth and down at the small boy in the bathtub. Daniel—he hates being called 'Danny' by anyone but Cuddy and House wouldn't anyway—has suds in his hair and is systematically drowning his rubber duck. One, two, three—up for air. Dunk, one, two, three...rather like the Salem Witch Trials. It's amusing, in a sick sort of way. House, of course, is like that and so is Daniel. Cuddy tells him so every time she goes to Daniel's school after he's been sent to timeout three more times for correcting the teacher and managing to insult her at the same time.
House smirks and raises an eyebrow at the boy splashing around below him. "It's a social construct," he says cryptically, just to see if Daniel will take the bait.
"But what's a 'social construct?'" Daniel asks and House laughs. He doesn't really think the question is funny, but hearing that term out of a three-year-old's mouth—properly pronounced, nonetheless—is amusing all the same.
"It means that the color 'red' is called that for no good reason. People just like naming things."
"Why?" Daniel drowns his duck and House limps over to straighten his son's floor towel with his bare foot before taking the boy's hand and helping him out of the tub. House takes the small blue robe off the toilet and wraps Daniel in it, pulling the hood up the way he likes it.
"Because people don't like the unknown," House says as Daniel sits on the toilet lid while he dries his feet. House goes back to the sink, beginning his twice-a-week (if that) shave.
"Like Mommy?" Daniel asks and House cackles.
"Exactly like Mommy. If she doesn't know everything about the hospital at every possible second, her head will explode."
"I heard that," Cuddy says, ducking into the bathroom to swat him on the arm. She's already dressed, of course, and at least an hour ahead of his schedule, as usual.
"Hi, Mommy," Daniel says, getting up to follow her out the bathroom door. Cuddy gives him a big, toothy smile and a kiss. House snorts, dragging his razor down the left side of his face.
"You like him better than you like me," he insists petulantly and Cuddy scoffs back at him.
"Surely you knew that," she says, picking Daniel up and carrying him to his bedroom to dress him for the day. Daniel is coming with them to the hospital today because there was an in-service day at his school. Cuddy has already made him promise not to say mean things to Cameron no matter how many times he catches her staring at Daddy. He also had to promise not to make fun of Chase's clothes no matter how much his light orange shirts and light green tie and black pants makes him look like a washed out jack o' lantern. Daddy says that Chase is proof that black doesn't go with everything. Foreman only minds if Daniel plays with Daddy's thinking ball while he's trying to go through case notes. He says he can't think with all the bounce, bounce, bouncing of Daddy's ball. Uncle Jimmy says that if Daniel is good all the way until lunch time, he'll buy him some ice cream. If he's good all the way to the end of the day, Uncle Jimmy will take him to the bookstore.
Daniel confided in House that he really wants new books, but he doesn't know if he can be good for that long. It looks like hard work. House told him he'd buy him some anyway, so he shouldn't worry. Wilson glared at him and told him that he was giving his son leeway to run amok. House merely said he was saving his son's dignity. Never mind whether that made any sense—three-year-olds don't care about dignity, after all—Wilson stopped waiting for House to make sense a long time ago.
Cuddy dresses Daniel in black jeans and a new t-shirt House bought on the computer. It says My IQ is Higher Than the President's. He hears her start to giggle but she stops. She ties his shoes and lets him jump back down from his bed. For breakfast, he gets Honey Bunches of Oats with Bananas. It's House's favorite, too. He calls it a box of sweet, sweet crack, but Daniel doesn't know what that means. His son asked both Cuddy and Wilson, but both refused to answer; choosing instead to give House glares of death. They like to lie, obviously, because he's still here. The three of them are still the Limping Twerp, Boy Wonder, and Dr. Fun Bags after more than a decade. Daniel is, of course, a universe unto himself. He likes it that way.
When they get to the hospital, Daniel jumps out of his car seat and runs up to the automatic doors, breezing through them, his arms spread wide. The pigeons ("Rats with wings," House mutters as he follows his son through the doors) scatter in fright at the fireball running at them. Evil Nurse Brenda gives Daniel her customary glare, but he pays her no mind. She swears she's going to lock him up in a morgue cabinet if he doesn't behave. He doesn't believe her because as soon as she thinks he's not looking, she always smiles at him.
House and Cuddy enter after their son, House leaning forward on his cane and grabbing the back of Daniel's shirt to keep him from careening into a patient leaving the hospital on crutches. Keeping a tight hold on the boy's shirt, he marches Daniel up to his office, making sure that Daniel's fingerprints don't coat his mother's precious glass walls. House, after all, would never hear the end of it. Cuddy gives Daniel one last kiss and heads off to her office within the Clinic. He lets go after he's managed to push open his office door.
Daniel runs over to the thinking ball and begins to bounce it against the left-hand wall. They're left to themselves for about thirty or so minutes until House's Ducklings come in and report to the Diagnostics Department. House likes to use this time, like any other, to think. More often than not, now, his pre-work thoughts center on the child trying in vain to do a handstand before him. He understands that there are things he won't be able to do for his son, such as roughhouse or play contact sports. Luckily for him, this is the Son of House—God, that sounds like the title for a B horror movie—after all. Daniel, like House before him, has no interest in football or other 'normal boy' things. His father had been confused and, eventually, gravely disappointed by the way Greg had turned out. House has no affection for his own father, just as John House has none for him that he can see. House knows that it breaks his mother's heart, but there it is.
House swears that he doesn't believe in God. He's tried to convince himself of that for a very long time. It's just his luck that so many things in his life don't deserve to be put down to chance. It's easier, he tells himself, to believe that everything in the universe is the result of well-timed accidents, rather than a finely-finessed plan. It used to be, at least.
He watches as Daniel tumbles end over end onto the carpeted floor before him. The mass of brown hair on his head, like House's own, sticks up in defiance of Cuddy's attempts at brushing it down. Dark blue eyes, shining in concentration; pale skin and angular cheekbones that resisted the concerted efforts of donors' wives' pinching. The mouth, of course, is all his and House is filled with naughty pride every time Cuddy receives notification of Daniel's behavior. His mother would laugh herself silly and say there must be a smart-mouthed allele somewhere in his genetic make-up. For him, it was like seeing an amalgamation of all the many things—and the few, in his case—that let her shine made manifest. He was a cynical, misanthropic, troublemaking, faithless—or so he told himself—angry, asshole. He sees absolutely no reason for why Cuddy has put up with him for so long. He remembers when he first suggested being her sperm donor. He remembers telling Wilson that if Cuddy ever left for any reason he would have to train a whole new boss, which would take time. Wilson had known better and so had he. He hears the faint steps of his colleagues and the banter they now-easily toss between themselves after having known one another for going-on five years. Why any of them stayed after their fellowships were completed is beyond him, though he suspects that Cameron just wants to be around long enough to convince Daniel to begin calling her 'Aunt Cameron.'
He told her she was trying too hard.
Dr. Gregory House's Ducklings stroll in, Cameron immediately persisting in making pleasantries with a not-even-remotely interested Daniel House. He ignores her in favor of the piece of paper Chase has given him with the periodic table of elements printed on it. He tells Daniel he'll quiz him on them later. Foreman tells her for the millionth time to lay off and leave Daniel alone before she regrets it. House can't resist grinning evilly in her direction. Cameron frowns and heads off to her own office, the other two following suit quickly thereafter. Soon, a patient will come in—House has taken on more and more as the years go by, having been amply rewarded by Cuddy for his efforts at playing nice with the human race—and the day will officially begin.
For now, the self-interested games of a little boy are like one of Beethoven's concertos: music to his ears.