Title: Man of Rubber, Man of Steel
Rating: T+ -- becuase I do use bad words in it.
Diclaimer: I don't own House, Skittles, slogans, any Cartoons/Movies mentioned or alluded to, and I also don't own the line: "Use your awesome might to save me from this hopeless plight" That belongs to the awesome movie 'Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang'
A/N: I really should sleep occasionally. Anywho, I must say: I wish there was more Kutner fanfiction. I absolutely love him. He's funny and he's got a tragic past. LOVELY! I was hoping he would stay in character, but to me it seems he fell out somewhere near the end... or maybe I never had him in in the first place? Oh well
Man of Rubber, Man of Steel:
Taste the Rainbow
Kutner thinks that maybe he isn't normal.
Who decides normal though? Who's to say what he does and doesn't do is, in fact, different from "the norm"?
At least that's what he thinks until he sees everyone else.
It had been three days since Amber had died. Cuddy has advised "taking as much time as we needed". House (who was recovering at an astounding rate; really, he's like Wolverine or something) was not so gracious. "You have Foreman. You have cases. Get to work you lazy asses."
None of them had been especially close to Amber, (except for Wilson. Wilson exceeded close though, so does that even count?) but she was still someone that they had known. A living, breathing person that had waded through the same shit they had to get where they were. (And that's pretty much Kutner's description of a friend.)
But Kutner had never expected the reactions that were so apparent in the others. Especially Thirteen.
He wasn't an idiot. Kutner could tell there was more than the death of an ex-colleague (if that was an appropriate description) affecting her. The disheveled hair, the dark-circles under her eyes, the un-pressed clothing, and the six cups of coffee (three sugars each) were more than enough to tip anyone off. But it was the three more sugars than usual, the bulge of extra tissues in her pocket, the rise in bathroom visits, and the wary glance at test results that clued him into the "something extra".
But Kutner wasn't an idiot. (Really, he wasn't. Irresponsible, immature, and reckless, sure, but not stupid.) He wouldn't press the matter.
Taub was a surprise too. The man was aloof to say the least, so Kutner hadn't really expected too much out of him. Maybe an awkward silence or two, and some supposedly "wise" advice. (Cause he's older, so obviously knows much more about life.) So it sufficiently surprised Kutner when the shorter, older (balder, he thinks to himself) man came in looking worse for wear. Well, "worse for wear" in Taub Standards, which isn't much to certain others. (Say, himself, for instance…)
It wasn't really that obvious, he supposes. (His Gran always said he paid too much attention. "And one day that will get you into a load of trouble you might not want to have been noticing" She'd say. And she was right… time and again.) His tie was crooked. That's the first thing he noticed. Really, he couldn't take his eyes off of it. Kutner was not one for formal things like ties. He couldn't stand 'em. (They itch like hell.) But Taub wore one everyday. And everyday it matched the shirt, and it was straight. An even, little triangle right in the center between the collar. Sometimes, when he saw it, he would think back to ninth grade, when he'd had his Geometry class in high school, and he'd imagine House making all of them take pop quizzes, and all the question were based on Taub's tie; "find the tangent ratio for angle theta"; "using trigonometric functions, find the area and volume of the triangle formed by Taub's tie".
But not today. Today it was off. Today the top right was bigger than the left. And it was off-center. Too far to the right. And when he sat down, it was a little harder than usual. A little more weighed down.
Definitely a surprise.
Foreman was the same as ever. Well, sort of.
It wasn't as if Amber was close to him, so it was understandable when his appearance hadn't changed. (Flawless? Yes, but no where near Taub's OCD level.) But it was his actions that had caught Kutner's eye.
Foreman did fidget-y things when he was nervous. Kutner had noticed this the first week he'd worked with him. (Well, the first week after eminent fire-ing danger was over.) With patients, when he was lying, or telling bad news, he would do certain things. One of the more obvious was the capping and uncapping of pens. Off; on; off; on; off… over and over. Other times he would lick his lips a lot. Not excessively, but enough for Kutner to notice. Also, he would narrow his eyes, almost looking as if he were annoyed.
He was doing all three.
And really? The pen thing was driving him nuts.
Kutner couldn't wait for diagnostics to be over. (Usually it was his favorite time of the day) Being in a room full of grieving people was not his idea of fun.
Fun for Kutner never was normal. (But again: who says what's normal?) His fun was often borderline masochistic, and often ended in a visit to the emergency room.
But this was a little sick, even for Kutner.
Gotta keep that voice light but still borderline indifferent; anything else and he might kill you for defiling him with optimism.
The signature "Go away" that House supplies Kutner is nothing if not routine by now. (And he's only visited three times)
Kutner, plainly ignoring House's demand, plants himself in the chair next to House's recovery bed. He swings his feet up onto the bed and crosses them at the ankle. He pulls a bag of skittles from inside his pristine white coat and let's the silence continue for a while as he continues his breakfast.
While he picks out the purple ones (he always eats them first) he contemplates telling House about his Wolverine connection. They're both grumpy; they both have substance abuse; and they both, apparently, can never die.
As awesome as it would be to have an immortal boss, Kutner rethinks his decision when he's sees the glare House still has penned to him.
"Dude, you should have seen it in the Batcave," he loves calling the diagnostics room that; but does that make him Robin? "It was like a freakin' war zone or something." Sure, he was exaggerating, but it got the effect he was hoping for.
House's eyes, recently shining with something Kutner didn't want to think someone as impenetrable as his "sour-puss" (great, now he's using Gran's words) boss capable of, shined with something different: Curiosity.
"Foreman was all 'Alright everybody'," Kutner says in his best Foreman impression, "'it's time to get back to work! Rumph, rumph, rumph!'" he isn't sure why he added the effect of stomping away, but it got an eyebrow raise and skeptical smirk. That was something.
"And then Taub was all 'I don't see why we had to come to work when our own boss isn't even here. Gripe, gripe, gripe!'" His Taub impression, he feels, is spot on. All he has to do is sit up straight, put his hand over his hair (to give that whole "bald" impression, which was key), and make his voice sound like a twelve year old little girl.
"And then Thirteen was like 'Oh Kut-ty!'", he claps his hands together and looks to the side (the classic damsel in distress pose) and raises the pitch of his voice again. He realizes his Taub and Thirteen impressions sound eerily similar. "'Use your awesome might to save me from this hopeless plight!'"
He drops from the pose and flops back to his lax position in the chair, going back to his skittles.
"It was crazy." He smiles and looks on at House, waiting for his reaction. (And a clue on how to act)
House simply stares back for a while, and Kutner thinks maybe he won't react at all (maybe that's his clue?) and then his face becomes incredulous and a skeptical "Kut-ty?" escapes his lips.
"What?" Kutner asks, suddenly defensive. "I never liked my first name…" What kind of name was "Lawrence" anyway?
He snorts lightly and turns away. But he doesn't tell him to leave, so Kutner takes it as a victory.
Kutner hates serious conversations. He likes gossip, and joking around is what he was born for, but serious things bug him. It was hard for him to sit still while the social security lady was telling him his parents were dead; that's how you know you have issues. Wanting to fidget with the policeman's badge when your life is being shattered is not normal. (And this one he's sure of.)
That was one of the reason's he liked House so much. The man was big joke. Nothing to him was serious. Nothing was reality to him. Everything was a puzzle. Your parents were murdered? Figure out why they were murdered. You get angry at the child molesting father? Figure out who diddled you when you were little. Your girlfriend's dead? Let's figure out what killed her before we go getting all worked up about this.
But Kutner is smart enough to know not to avoid the topic when House asks an important question. (He tries not to fidget too.) And this is one of those important questions. He can tell by the tone.
"Tell me something, Kutner." His voice has that tone to it. That tone that is indisputably his own. Kutner counts it as another victory.
"What's that?" his tone is indifferent as he pops another skittle in his mouth (green this time) but inside he's stirred with emotions; hoping for a mind game from House. (Seriously: those are better than Sudoku)
"What do you think everyone did?" Kutner's is momentarily confused and is definitely let down. This doesn't sound like fun at all…
"What d'you mean?"
"I mean," he's stressing the words, he must be impatient, "to get over her death. What do you think my little duckling's did?"
Ignoring House's obvious avoidance of Amber's name, Kutner thinks on House's question. It's a loaded one that's for sure. It's obvious House is not without his own guilt and hang-ups over what happened, and for a minute Kutner is apprehensive about saying the wrong thing. (Not scared though, he's never truly scared.) Then the feeling is replaced. Replaced by that same shine in House's eyes, and the feeling of suddenly needing to impress someone. But not just someone: someone important to you. Like your dad, or your favorite teacher, or your counselor, or your social worker.
Kutner's had this feeling many times.
"What do I think they did..." he muses out loud. His eyes never leave House's and he's sure his own mirror that fleck of sadistic joy.
"I think… I think Foreman had a beer. He probably went out with someone too." He'd seen the supportive smile from Dr. Cameron and the "Go get 'em, Tiger!" pat on the back from Dr. Chase. Lame, but for some reason they actually seemed to help Dr. Foreman.
"Probably everyone's favorite same-sex couple here at the hospital." House quips.
"Then he probably tried to get laid." Kutner continues. "Maybe he called up an old girlfriend; he probably got the answering machine. Then he watched some lame movie or watched a sports game or something. The next day he thought about calling his parents, and he probably did." He finishes smugly.
House smirks and motions with his hand to continue. Kutner does. He thinks maybe he's getting too caught up in everything he's learned from them over the few months together, and that maybe he's completely wrong about their reactions… but hell, this was fun.
"I think Taub went home and cried a little. And appreciated his wife a little more. And then he probably cheated on her again." The last part was a joke, and was glad House had caught that.
"And Thirteen?" He asks, but there's something else to it. There's something under the prompt, and Kutner thinks maybe he's been had. What exactly did House want to know about Thirteen?
He hesitates as he tries to think of what House wants, then supplies him with his answer:
"I think… I don't know what she did." He admits, "I know she cried. A lot. But something else happened."
"What?" Again, that House-ian tone. Somewhat cruel, but smothered with curiosity.
"I don't know. And I don't think I want to…" it was the truth.
After that it's silent for a while. Kutner isn't surprised by House's next question.
"What did you do?"
He watched the old Transformers cartoons and ate Captain Crunch. The same as when his parents died. Then he watched all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and went to bed. The day after that, He got laid. Periodically, he came to check on your sorry ass to make sure he still had a job.
"The same I guess." He smiles, but by the look House is giving him, he's pretty sure it didn't work. (Its not like he expected it to.)
"Yeah, sure." It would appear 20 questions will resume at a later date.
Kutner stands and stretches. He hopes he's never forced to have a serious conversation with House again. It's taxing.
"Well, Logan, I'm gonna head home." He smiles at his own joke and pats House on the arm (a bold move) while he places the left over Skittles bag on House's stomach.
House watches his youngest (and strangest) underling leave the room, an unusually jovial hop in his step. (Disconcerting considering he'd spent half an hour with the House. Really, if people see this sort of reaction to "Quality Time with House" his reputation as 'Will Crusher' will go down. Not that anyone calls him that. Yet.)
He looks down at the nearly empty bag the reckless doctor left. He opens it up to find only the red Skittles left in the bag.
"That kid has serious problems…" He mumbles to himself. If anyone had seen him then, they would have seen the shine in his eyes again.
Another win for Kutner.
Kutner knows he's not "normal".
Not by Taub Standards. Or Foreman Standards. Or House Standards. Or, hell, anyone's standards, really.
But then again, who ever said he aimed to be normal?
Did this seem kind of slash-y to anyone else? it honestly wasn't meant to be... and I'd preferr it to be mentor/protege kind of thing, ya know? let's just leave it at that...
R&R please. (I really wanna know what anyone thinks of this...)
PS: No, I have no idea what the Skittles were a metaphor for... they just appeared...
PPS: Does ANYONE else get the title, or is that just me?!