Another one after 'Wilson's Heart'. I was struck by the way the team each dealt with Amber's loss. Kutner was the one who advocated seeing Amber, insisting that they liked her, but his way of dealing with her death involved a bowl of cereal. It seemed out of character. This is my attempt to make a little sense out of it. Minor referral to the Christian deity. I definitely can't claim ownership of Him.
Everyone mourns differently. Some people spend time with their loved ones. Some seek solace in religion. Kutner has Lucky Charms.
House had been critical, but stable, when Kutner had gone by. Dr Cuddy had been sitting at his bedside, holding his hand. She'd looked up at him defiantly, but Kutner had said nothing, merely shuffling in to stand across from her for a moment. He'd picked up House's other hand, being careful to avoid the IV taped to the top. His heartrate was steady, his oxygen saturation good. Given the skull fracture and the injury stemming from the attempt to stimulate his hypothalamus with voltage, Kutner wasn't certain what to expect. They'd drilled a hole into his skull and shot five volts of electricity directly into his brain. They'd disrupted the natural electrical balance in House's brain and worsened his skull fracture, triggering a bleed and causing him to lapse into a coma.
It wasn't a surprise, he knew. That kind of injury would cause the brain to shut down, to protect itself from further trauma.
What was surprising was Wilson. The man had initially rejected House's offer to try the procedure, but when Amber worsened, he'd suddenly changed his mind. Kutner shook his head sadly; unable to imagine the way that House had felt when he'd learned his friend was willing to sacrifice him for a slim chance to save his girlfriend.
"He's going to be all right." Cuddy told him quietly.
"He was right, you know." Kutner told her. "She had amantadine poisoning."
"She's gone." Kutner said softly. "I went to go see her."
"I know. That's good, that you went to see her. I'm sure Wilson appreciated it." Cuddy told him. She fidgeted with House's hospital bracelet for a moment before meeting his gaze.
"Why did Wilson ask him to do it?" Kutner asked, and Cuddy bit her lip.
"I don't know." She admitted.
"I knew what Wilson wanted when he asked him that. House had to know. Why did he do it? He had to know what he was risking."
"He did." Cuddy swallowed; there were tears in her eyes.
"It's just…it's what he does." Kutner said slowly. "House is House. He's a genius. What if now, he's not?"
"He's going to be fine." Cuddy said sharply. She rubbed her forehead tiredly. "You should go home." She told him a few minutes later. "All of you. I'll page you if there's any change."
Kutner nodded, and gently set House's hand down on his stomach. He patted his arm awkwardly before nodding at Cuddy. He left the ICU quietly, and returned to the conference room. The rest of the team looked up at him expectantly, while he put his hands in his lab coat and stared at the floor for a moment before speaking.
"Cuddy says we should head home. There's nothing we can do for House right now."
Foreman met his eyes steadily, and nodded, reaching to shuffle the charts into a pile before picking up the handle of his briefcase and murmuring a 'good night' to everyone. Taub, too, packed up his notes and took his briefcase, scurrying from the room. Thirteen paused to put her coffee mug in the sink and rinsed it out.
"I'm going to make sure House's computer's shut down." She told him, and jerked her thumb in the direction of his office. Kutner nodded dumbly, and snatched his backpack from its forgotten place in a chair. He dimmed the lights, and drew the blinds before leaving the office. As he stepped into the hall, he spotted Thirteen leaving House's office and moving away from the elevators. He wondered where she was going—she'd bypassed the elevators—but he lacked the energy and inclination to follow.
He'd leaned tiredly against the elevator wall on the way down, and stumbled out into the lobby. It was late, he noted; without the bustle in the clinic the lobby was sinister and dark. Out through the main doors, he dragged himself down to the parking garage. His car was still in his spot, and he idly admired the light as it reflected off the sign that read; Kutner, M.D.
Voices echoed from within the garage, and Kutner looked up to find Dr Chase and Dr Cameron arm in arm as they crossed the lot. They slowed when they drew close to him.
"Kutner." Chase called.
"Dr Chase. Dr Cameron." He greeted.
"We're going out for a drink." Chase smiled. "It's been a hell of a day."
"Care to join us?" Cameron asked.
"No thanks." Kutner jiggled his keys nervously. "I think I'll go home." He said quietly.
"If you change your mind, we'll be at Jack's on seventh." Cameron smiled at him again, and they left together. Kutner shook his head, and unlocked his car. Crawling inside, he sat for a moment in the darkness before starting the car and backing out of his space.
It was after eleven when he'd gotten home. He'd dropped his backpack at the door, and flung his keys on the table. Snatching the remote off the table, he turned the TV on, selected Adult Swim and let the channel change while he strode into the kitchen. Pausing, head bowed, he opened the cupboard and let his hand settle on the box of Lucky Charms. As he'd told Thirteen, he'd been six when his parents had been killed. He'd spent most of a night in the police station, answering questions, hoping against hope that his parents really were okay. When his grandmother had shown up just past three in the morning, he'd known they were really gone. She'd clucked and fussed and gathered him close. She'd guided him into her kitchen and sat him down on a chair, knelt before him. He'd stared at her, wide-eyed, when she explained to him that his mom and dad were gone forever. It didn't mean they loved him less. It didn't mean he didn't love them. Sometimes, she'd said, accidents happened. But everything happened for a reason. It meant that he could live with her. He would always have a place to live, and someone would always take care of him. God would see to that. She'd asked if he had anything he wanted to know. He'd considered it, biting his lip and meeting her gaze shyly, tangling his fingers together and twisting them slightly.
"Lucky Charms." He'd said, and she'd blinked in surprise before laughing aloud. He'd smiled then, uncertain why she'd laughed but pleased that he had made her do so. It was late, he was hungry. He'd always liked the marshmallows and the way the milk was sweet after he'd eaten every single piece. She'd brushed his hair away from his face and gotten up to get him a bowl.
He poured himself a bowl, and added milk. Turning off the kitchen light, he sunk his spoon into the bowl and scooped up a clump of marshmallows. Sometimes accidents happened, he told himself. Everything happened for a reason. It didn't mean Wilson hadn't loved Amber. It didn't mean House hadn't loved Wilson. Everything would work out, somehow.
God would see to that.