She heard the soft chords of the piano filtering throughout the house and sighed as she stepped inside. Keys fell into their place; her coat shrugged off her shoulders; her feet cast away the restrictive shoes. She sighed as she saw him- perfect posture, perfect hands, perfect rhythm, perfect everything. He was talented and he would never admit to it. A soft smile came to her as she watched him. He had her face, she could see it in his cheekbones and in his nose, but he had his father's eyes and smile, there was no denying it. And he had his father's skill.
For a time, she stood there watching him. She no longer saw him but a memory of someone else. Seeing him play there only brought her back to an image of his young father sitting at the old college music hall's piano, tall back perfectly straight, long fingers curled expertly over the keys, eyes glazed over as his hands played the notes on their own. It wasn't the first time she had seen him; they had been awkward friends at that point.
She didn't know why she had trusted him when they first meet. Her concentration, her focus, her stubbornness had caught his attention. He was obnoxious and sarcastic and witty and annoyingly persistent and for some reason it amused her. The way his face softened just so in her presence; the way he challenged her to think; the way he made her fight for her opinion and just about everything else. It all made her value his friendship even more.
She had always trusted the man. Something about him had installed that into her the very first day they had meet- despite the air of annoyance she might have displayed- and he had never truly done anything to disappoint that trust. He was an ass, but that was simply part of his charm. Even after college, when they had begun to loose touch, she had still harboured those feelings. When he came to her, jobless and unsure, she took a leap of faith. When the infarction happened, she trusted him to understand why she had made the choice she had made; he hadn't and that hurt her more than anything ever had, but she never let him know it.
The room vibrated with a softer tone, a slower, stiller song. Her eyes fluttered closed as she listened. House had bought him his first piano- a tiny baby piano with five coloured keys that glowed and made a hideous amount of noise. She had threatened to make it a "Daddy's house toy" but didn't have the heart after he fell in love with it. And he had loved it since. House had bought him his second piano as well- sending it along on his fifth birthday. His tenth birthday saw his third piano- a baby grand; a gorgeous addition to a too bare living room. She opened her eyes to that baby grand, smiling faintly at the memory. Six years later and it still played beautifully; still furnished their home.
She watched as he reached up, brushing long dark locks out of his eyes, using his other to fumble with the music. He never seemed to use it- he was always staring off, his eyes glanced, just like his father- but he always had it set up. She supposed he glanced at the beginning. She watched him, his eyes skimming the music, his shoulders arching back, his fingers stretching, and then he began, just like that. His fingers stroked the keys, an intimate dance across familiar surface, and he stared off into a place only he knew.
He was eerily too much like his father. Some days it bothered her; most days it just made her remember.
Sometimes, she didn't hate herself for what she did and she didn't hate him for what he didn't do.
She pretended that she didn't know why she asked him, but in reality she knew very well why. She trusted him and, god save her, she even liked him. But, despite that, she knew him and she knew he would help and he wouldn't feel obligated to get too close or to talk too much. And she appreciated that. He hadn't been too pushy. He hadn't tried to convince her that natural was the way to go, though he hinted at it once or twice. He checked in on her often, invited himself over for dinner, and generally became something she nearly wanted to call a friend. When their son was born, he'd surprised her by standing by her and letting her squeeze his hand until he was wincing in worse pain than her. He had slept on her couch during the first month, and practically lived with her for the next few months. When she returned to work, he returned to his house.
His fingers sped up over the keys and she smiled at the familiar tune. It was one of the first he had learned and over the years he had enjoyed spicing it up, improvising upon the childhood tune. It was her favourite mostly because it was never the same. With every time he played it, it changed according to his mood. Sometimes she could interpret his mood just by listening; this new tune was fast, upbeat, and yet it held a sorrow to it. Melancholy. It was nearly his birthday.
There were days- many days and many lonely nights- when she had truly dreaded her decision. There were times when she regretted her stubbornness and his as well. His stubbornness, his loyalty… just him in every regard.
They had had a fight. It wasn't just about the change in scenery, or the new job, or the other doctor who had taken her place while away on maternity leave, as most people thought. That was why she left for Massachusetts.
The last note brought a frown to Cuddy's lips. Her son sighed, rubbing his eye. She watched him glancing through the music, trying to find where he made the mistake. He rubbed at his eye again and then started over.
She found it oddly comforting that House never deviated from his pattern. He came to every piano concert, to every lacrosse game, and to every track meet. He never missed a birthday- he never came to them, but he always sent a nice card and a nice present and every year he crushed their son's heart. Their son would never let her know that his hopes swelled with the week leading up to his birthday, only to be deflated when he once again never met the man. But she knew. House stood off in the corner. He never came and talked to him. He never came and confronted her. Never. She sometimes wished that he would.
He had once. Or rather, several times. Their son was only a few months old and, not for the first time, she had been offered an administrative position at another hospital. That time, she had considered it. House pushed back. She had feared that it would happen, that he would grow too accustomed to their awkward arrangement and want more. And he had. She wouldn't marry him, but he hadn't asked her too. She wouldn't let him move it, even though he practically had. She wouldn't sleep with him, even though it had seemed inevitable.
She wondered how different- if at all- their son would be. Somehow she imagined that he would already be treating patients, diagnosing them, putting in IVs, playing with the MIR… Oh sure, she had encouraged his interest in medicine. She had given him books and he had drunk in every word of them. She took him to her hospital and he loved it- harassing doctors, helping nurses- but she would never allow half of what she knew House would allow. He loved the piano, and that alone made her smile. He was already bright, observant, and his smile was devastating. Just like his father.
She had left, bringing their six month year old son with her. She couldn't say why she had taken the job- maybe to see just how serious House was. She had expected him to chase after her, but that wasn't House's style, not exactly. He was too damned stubborn, and so was she. She had never said he couldn't see their son. And yet he had never spoken to their son after that last encounter, and some days she hated him for that. Some days she hated herself for that.
The first few lines came to me and I just kind of went for it. Ended up being kind of depressing, sorry about that.
Hope you enjoyed anyway. Hugs, JD