These are interconnected drabbles, using song titles from my collection. Since Simon and Garfunkel won the 'most popular on shuffle' award, the overall title is taken from one of their songs.
Song for the Asking
Baggy Trousers (Madness)
Lisa does, grinning as Dad goofs around behind Mom, making Carol and Anna giggle. Mom takes the picture, turning to look at Dad, smiling as he falls over his own feet. When she goes over to help him, Dad pulls her down on top of him, the laughter rising as Lisa's sisters bundle in.
Lisa watches for a moment, enjoying the sun on her face, the grass scent in the air and the sounds of her family. Then she runs over and throws herself onto the pile of bodies, flinging her arms as wide open as she can.
Spanish Eyes (Al Martino)
She's stronger than this.
As she stands in the bathroom, leaning on the sink, she forces herself to meet her eye in the mirror. She can't help being smart. She can't help being different. She can help being weak.
Running cold water, she splashes some on her hot cheeks, imagining it washing away the humiliation. High school isn't going to beat her. Petty, stupid, spiteful little girls and boys aren't going to beat her. The color rises in her face again, but this time it's from anger. This is something she can use.
She's stronger than this.
Livin' Thing (ELO)
She knows a nice girl wouldn't do this, letting the boy she likes corner her, push her against the wall and press his mouth against hers. Her first adolescent kiss is mostly what she expected, warm and wet, with a hint of the candy he was eating earlier. Not that she was watching him.
She pushes away his hand as he gropes at her blouse, making up for it by twining their fingers together and letting him slide his tongue against hers. She's willing to wait for now, enjoying the game and knowing she can make him play her way.
Go your own way (Fleetwood Mac)
She says doesn't care about going alone to the prom. Strange as it seems, she means it. She'll look good and having a guy is not going to make her look better. If one of them had asked, she'd have thought about it, but since they didn't, she's decided not to care.
She knows all eyes will turn to her, and not just because she's filled out faster than most of her classmates. She knows she'll smile as she walks into the hall, not for them, but for herself, for looking good and for letting them all go to hell.
New Favorite (Alison Krauss and Union Station)
No-one ever warned her how horrible being broken up with would be. Breaking up is always painful. Being dumped hurts like hell. She knows she will survive, get over it, move on, do whatever it is you're supposed to do, but it doesn't help with the here and now. Chocolate does help, as do phone calls to sympathetic sisters. Imagining painful diseases almost cheers her for ten minutes.
When she's done with the crying, she fixes her hair, slaps on the war paint and heads out of the door. This is one experience that she has no intention of repeating.
Always on my mind (Willie Nelson)
College is everything and nothing like Lisa expected. Medschool will be more. She studies, learns, forgets and learns over, doing the best she can with all the energy she has. She goes to class, reads books, debates, writes, beats seven kinds of hell out of Pamela on the tennis court. She's bright and preppy and smart and fun and brilliant. She's tired.
The course asks for her life, and she gives it, trusting that the rewards will be worth the effort. She knows this will pay off in the end. And along the way, she may even save some lives.
Fall at Your Feet (Crowded House)
She enjoys being the center of attention, queen of her own rowdy, celebratory crowd. They all fall silent as he comes over, looming over the table. He doesn't look impressed, but then neither does she.
"I hear you did well," he says.
"I hear you didn't." She sips her drink, holding his steady gaze.
"Better things to do. Congratulations." He tips his beer in her direction, gives the rest of them a sneer and ambles off again. She shrugs away the others' comments.
"He's not all that." But he is, and she won't forget that he came looking for her.
Blessed (Simon and Garfunkel)
She alternates between pushing the speed limit and slowing for every amber light. Committing a traffic offence is not in the plan for tonight, but getting there as soon as possible is. She hates rental cars, swearing as the gears grind again.
All hospitals feel the same, and it's not until she's halfway down a corridor that she realizes she doesn't know where she's going. She manages to follow the directions and hears voices as she turns the corner.
She pushes through the doors, searching her sister's face. Then she looks down to see her first niece.
This Old Heart of Mine (The Isley Brothers)
She bumps into Greg House – literally – at the graduation drinking. He grabs her, strong fingers gripping her arm, his body warm and solid against hers.
She presses against him, looking up into his face. He's not exactly handsome but his eyes seem glow in the bar's dim light. His expression is almost feral as he grins down at her.
"Nice catch," she purrs.
"Nice rack." Before she can respond to the come on, he dumps her back in her seat and pats her paternally on the head. "Make sure you put some aspirin by the bed for the morning."
Star Carol (Simon and Garfunkel)
Lisa sits on Maria's bed, holding her hand and glaring at inquisitive visitors. She doesn't need to hear the conversations for them to echo in her head. She wonders why her roommate said nothing. It wasn't a choice to face alone.
When asked, Lisa's non-committal, but she drops a set of classes, picking up ethics instead. She couldn't have looked the guy in the face. When she meets Greg House in the corridor, they don't speak, but she nods to his unspoken question.
When the other guy turns up with a black eye, House shrugs. "Lacrosse is a contact sport."
The Truth (Author: Terry Pratchett)
There's nothing more she could have done. She didn't stab the guy, didn't leave him to bleed, wasn't alone in the hospital when they brought him in. But she wonders if it will always feel like this to lose a patient. It's gut-wrenching every time.
Maybe the next time will be better. She's not idiot enough to think that there won't be a next time. But she is idiot enough to have the next drink and the one after, and to hope that there's some kind of comfort to be found in them. The last thing she needed was to run into House again, although at that moment, if he'd made an offer, she would have accepted without a second thought.
"Just don't do anything stupid," he says, not smiling at her over his beer. "You'll have a better death-life ratio than most of these cretins."
Later, comfort does present itself, blond, blue-eyed and nameless. She needs not to be alone tonight.
When she wakes, she's alone in tumbled sheets, but at least it's her own place. She showers, gulps down her coffee and turns up to work only an hour late. Hopefully that will get better too, next time.
Albatross (Fleetwood Mac)
Lisa knows she should celebrate, somehow mark the achievement. Youngest department head. Only female department head in the hospital. You go, girl.
When she gets home, it's blissfully quiet compared to the hospital. She settles down to read, glass of wine nearby, blanket across her legs. She memorizes names as she goes, noting what they're working on. One day, she may want them to work for her. She'll have to do something about that. When she's done, she turns out the light, she relaxes into the peaceful darkness.
That night, she moves her pillows to the middle of the bed.
Crazy (from 'Starlight Express')
The debate had been fierce.
"That's just plain wrong."
Lisa shakes her head. "In eight out of ten cases-"
"Right." He leans back in his chair. "And the other two can just find somewhere quiet to go die."
Later, she locates the great Doctor Gregory House lurking in a dark corner by the bar. She doesn't bother to say hello.
"Do you really care about the two out of ten?"
"If they're my two out of ten, I try to."
"Good." She holds out her card. "Then call me when you next get fired."
She walks away without looking back.
The Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel)
He should have started work today. His office is ready and she runs her fingers over the name on the door. He's not really a friend, never was a lover and had done nothing to make her life easy. She's not even sure she likes him. He's just someone she used to know. Someone she offered a job.
But when he breathed again and his eyes opened, she felt her own heart racing. When she heard him shouting, days later, she allowed herself to hope.
He hasn't spoken to her in three weeks. She wonders if he ever will again.
Bridge over Troubled Water (Simon and Garfunkel)
She doesn't need to ask why James is here.
"What did he do this time?"
"Nothing, which is the problem. I think the clinic nurses are forming a lynch mob."
"If I don't go join them, I'll talk to him."
"Make it work this time? Please?"
She smiles. "I'm sorry I couldn't make Julie's birthday party. The meeting-"
"It's fine." He waves it away. "Is everything ok?"
She considers lying to him, but doesn't need to. "Privately, the board's getting restless."
"As always. I'll handle it, with your help."
"As always." He smiles. "Take it easy."
"When I can."
Why don't you write me? (Simon and Garfunkel)
She's never disappointed her parents. She's been a good daughter, sister, aunt. They love knowing that their Lisa is someone important.
She watches her sister break-up a childish fight, aware of her mother watching her.
"It's not too late." Mom pats her hand.
"Maybe. But where do I find time?"
"You can always find it for the things you really want. You just have to decide what that is."
"I play tennis, have dinner parties, do drinks." Lisa sighs. "Never enough hours in the day."
"For any of us." Mom smiles and they go back to watching the children play.
All I Ask of You (from 'The Phantom of the Opera')
When she has to call and cancel for the third time, Lisa knows he's not going to phone again. Her work is important, networking matters and if it means she courts rich donors rather than nice men, she can live with that. These people are more important to the hospital than her boyfriends. She knows House once called this place her baby, and there's nothing she wouldn't do for it.
But she knows this isn't forever. This is one of the things that doesn't last, however important it is right now. She wonders what she'll do when it's all over.
The Long Run (The Eagles)
She's a good patient, taking notes, asking the right questions and doing as her doctors advise. She's also a good doctor, and knows how to boost her chances. There have been moments of doubt, uncertainty and fear, but then this is the first thing selfish she's done in years. This one's just for her, not the hospital, her family, her career. This one is forever, and is going to be the one she's most of proud of. So she's going to do the reading, take the meds, look after herself properly for a change. She's going to do this right.
One day I'll fly away (Nicole Kidman)
It's probably a bad idea. Lisa hates being backed into a corner, hates feeling like there's no choice. But no matter which way she throws the problem, the same answer comes up. Sometimes, you just have to forget what you know, forget who you are. If you want to fly, you've got to step off the cliff. She's never given in to her fears before.
Swallowing her pride is never easy, but for this, she's willing to give up more than just her ego. So she takes a deep breath, and asks the nurse which exam room House is in.
Adagio for strings (Samuel Barber)
The first failure comes while House is comatose. It comes after a budget report and the latest review of security procedures. Disappointment has no respect for people or timing. Neither does House, and she's secretly relieved that he's not in a position to know about it. She doesn't know what would be worse, his derision or his sympathy.
She's never questioned what she's doing; it feels so completely right. This is no time for second guesses or doubts. Instead, later on in the day, she pulls the phone towards her, opens her schedule and makes the call for another appointment.
What It Is (Mark Knopfler)
House will be back on Monday. She thinks she can feel the hospital bracing itself, holding its breath, waiting for him. Brenda has hidden the lollipops.
Lisa is taking the weekend off, her first in months. Stress hormones don't help her chances, and she knows they'll go through the roof next week. She's going to leave it all behind for two days, try to remember who she is when she's away from the hospital.
She turns out the light and heads for home, knowing that this baby has grown up enough to look after itself. She's made sure of it.