Likely one more section coming! Thank you for reading/reviewing.
He heads to House's anyways, and sees him paging through a file at his desk through the glass. House looks up as soon as he enters, and he says, "Oh, no. Oh, no. Out."
"Hi, House," he says, stepping in.
"Did you not hear me?"
"I'm doing that thing where we ignore you."
"Did you not come up here expressly to mope and hold hands and cry with Cameron? If you need more testosterone in your support, go see Wilson. Or Chase. He might be sympathetic for two minutes."
"You think I came here looking for support, from you, when I have at least four other doctors to go to if I wanted to cry?"
"I think there's plenty more than four. Go check Oncology, Psych, and Peds, in that order."
"Nah, I just wanted to hang out."
"Seriously? We are not shooting the breeze."
He shrugs and sits down. "How's your latest case?"
"You cannot just hang out in my office."
He looks into the conference room. "Can I prank the new fellows?"
A thoughtful expression crosses House's face. "What do you have in mind?"
Kutner shrugs. "Take the screw out of the whiteboard, then you tell one of them they can touch it. It falls apart, you yell, they cry."
As House watches him carefully remove the screws, he suddenly groans and says, "Don't listen to Cameron. Whatever the hell she said."
He looks at House sideways. "We talked about Rocco."
"Like hell you did. Cameron's worldview says there's only one way of coping with thing x, and it's her way. And her way is the way that makes you feel best, but only if feeling smug and superior is how you feel best. So do whatever the hell you want and politely don't listen to her. Or not politely. It's up to you. Deal with it however the hell you want. If you wanna jump the chick, jump the chick. If not, well—something's probably wrong with you, but just go for it."
"Cut Cameron a break. It's not anything I haven't heard before."
"That's because Cameron is the queen of conventionalism."
"You really don't like the whole suburb routine they have down."
"Not really, because she's just redirecting and he's repressing, but the point is—dying changes everything. You were an idiot to fall for her but you did, and now you're here, and you shouldn't listen to Cameron preen on about how she wrecked her life playing tragic widow for a decade but now has just the bestest life ever."
"She's trying to help."
"She can't not help. You're fine, do whatever you want. Yeah, maybe everything changed, but guess what? Life goes on, and nobody cares that you move on, too. You already have gone on just because of the laws of time, so don't pull that crap about not being able to move on, either."
He stares carefully at the board. "I've got all the screws out."
"Perfect timing," House breathes. Kutner turns. The four fellows—slim, serious, dedicated young doctors—are walking down collegially. Two of them hold folders. He steps back, watches the differential. With a flourish and a half-bow, House hands the marker to the Asian guy. The board clatters to the ground with a splendid, thunderous noise, and House yells until all four leave.
House turns to face him and smirk. "Great plan, Kutner. Now you get to put it back together. I'm a cripple, and all."
Cuddy finds him still replacing the screws, and she hugs him before peppering him with questions about Johns Hopkins, the administrators, and their policies. This goes on for a good 20 minutes before House yells at the "little woman" to leave Kutner alone, so she finally tells him she's happy to see him, and she realizes the time of year, but "if you ever want to come back to work, here, please give me a call immediately and you will have a job before we hang up."
He finally leaves the hospital a little after 3:30, and decides to walk the three miles back to Chase and Cameron's. It's not long, and there are sidewalks the entire way. The day is a little hot for May, but not too bad, and he scrutinizes cloud shapes, trying to find a symbol or message. He fingers his cell phone and wonders whether he should feel guilty for not wanting to talk to Natesa, maybe ever. He has several missed calls and texts from Chase but knows he'll see him soon enough.
He detours for ice cream, though, and it's well past four when he finally makes it back to their house. Chase is in the kitchen with the girls; he's reading paperwork while Elizabeth and Sophie eat macaroni & cheese and Claire eats a PB&J. "Did you walk back from the hospital?" he asks in awe.
"Yeah. It's only three miles," he says. "I was talking to House." Chase raises his eyebrows but says nothing.
The rest of the evening passes as a blur. Cameron has packed garment bags for each girl, and they load into the car and get to the high school early so that another mother can do their hair. Chase and Kutner go pick up Rocco, sit with other parents and save a seat for Cameron, who rushes in. The dance recital is deadly dull, but the girls all seem to enjoy it, and everyone goes out to ice cream before they take the kids home. After Chase helps get the sugared-up kids into bed, he hauls Kutner to a bar. They drink without speaking and Kutner throws up in the restroom before they head home.
The next morning—Saturday—he's awake immediately, no heady, hungover in-between. His eyes snap open, and that's that. He rolls them over to the clock and notices that it's a little before eight. He's not sure how he feels about that. Tossing on his bathrobe, he pads out to the kitchen. Cameron is there, in several pink tank tops and a blue-gray wrap cardigan and pink-and-green striped pajama pants.
"Morning," she says, quiet and surprised. "Would you like coffee?" She gets up to pour him a cup before he even says yes. She puts it in front of him before asking, "How did you sleep?"
He shrugs and sits down, tugs the sports section loose. "Restlessly," he finally replies.
"The girls should be out for another several hours," her volume is nearly at 'mute.'
He nods. He doesn't know what to say, and neither does he. The weight of the One Year Anniversary is beginning to sink in. He wonders if he should feel any freer, because he doesn't.
"Would you like something to eat?" she asks.
"Not hungry," he manages, shaking his head.
"You sure? I can … make something."
He's tasted Cameron's 'somethings,' multiple times, so he shakes his head again. "It wasn't this nice, last year, was it?" he questions, staring at the perfect May sky.
"No. I think it was cloudy," she says.
"I don't really remember," he finally admits. "We were inside most of the day." She had died late, around 10:00 p.m., after insisting she be taken off the respirator.
"True," Cameron says, and he sees her, hovering on the edges of his memories. "The … service was on a beautiful day, though."
"Do you ever wonder if the weather means something? Like, would bad weather be a good sign?" He sees it almost as an inverse omen of good: Rainy, cloudy weather signifies a mourning world. A mourning world is a world that will be worse without Remy. Staring into his coffee, he remembers both those days; he feels aches where he once felt pain. The fact that he can only feel how the pain once felt means something, he knows, but he can't quite face it yet, because the realization fills him with sadness again.
"I don't know," she finally says. "The day he died it was a squall. Awful October weather in Chicago."
"That's what I mean," he says. "Someone was pissed that day." He doesn't believe in 'up there' but it's nice right now.
Chase comes in, hair sticking up comically, and yawns before beelining toward the coffee.
"Are the kids up, Rob?" Cameron asks, drumming her fingers on the coffee cup.
"You'd know if they were," he replies. He looks at Kutner and nods briefly. "Sleep well? That mattress is a bitch."
"Chase," Cameron hisses warningly.
"Sod it, they're asleep," he rolls his eyes.
They're not for long, though, and there's shrieking and crying and somehow Chase knows how to make them laugh and Cameron knows how to comfort them.
"Kutner," Claire tugs on his arm. "Can you pour my cereal please? I'm not allowed to." He shakes himself loose and pours the Kellogs obediently. She hugs him tightly in return. This is, of course, Claire—who would try and hug a snake if her mother would let her, because she loves hugging—but they way her soft hair knocks into his stomach lands a sucker-punch to the gut. Once she lets go she reaches for his sleeve again, and he bends down to meet her. She's rapturously beautiful, with messy dark hair and wide green eyes.
"Do you remember Remy?" she asks in her shy voice. "You were always with her."
His life catches in his throat. "Yes."
"I miss her. You two were fun," she says.
"Claire! Claire! Look! Milk bubbles," Sophie yells, and Claire's attention is diverted before he can respond. Her words hit like sucker-punches. He sinks into a chair and Cameron and Chase maneuver the girls around his ragged form. After the girls finally head upstairs (to change for their dance recital encore) he stands and says, "I think I'll go on a run."
"Kutner—" Cameron starts, but Chase very obviously shushes her. He's out the door in five minutes flat, running in a way he hasn't done since he was six.
Princeton was actually quite small, despite everyone's instant familiarity with its famous name, and it only took him half an hour to jog to the cemetery. He finds the small off-white stone easily, and remembers the battle he had with her father to let her rest here, and not in New Brunswick. It's simple and engraved. He sits in front of the stone, and suddenly has nothing to say. So he leans against the one opposite and catches his breath. He's not one to talk to inanimate objects, and so he sits, and waits, and watches. For what he's not sure. He thinks of the waves, the waves of grief, and realizes one is cresting right now.
Finally, after an indeterminate amount of time, he says, "I miss you," as a test. Nothing happens. It's impossible to get a benediction or a blessing from a god you don't really believe in, and sitting in front of a stone and not a person is not a conversation.
It's hot and sunny and he's lured into a silent, sleepy stupor for a while, where he can't cry nor move. But it's calming, a break from decisions, and he contemplates literally staying there all day.
But then something eclipses his sunlight, and he opens his eyes to barely make out the outline of Taub's face.
"Don't you live in Florida now?"
"Yeah, I do," Taub says, crossing his arms and squinting even though he's wearing sunglasses. "Chase invited me to go out for a drink tonight." He wonders who else he can expect to offer support. Wilson? Cuddy? Foreman? The last thought makes him want to laugh maniacally.
"You're a little early for a drink."
"Yeah, well, flights from Florida are unpredictable." He sat down, leaning against the next stone. "Not bad. Warmer than I thought."
"Why are you here?"
"I got to Chase's. I called him because they weren't home. Apparently the girls had to be at the dance recital at noon, and so they were there, but he said that you'd gone on a run. I thought I'd find you here."
"I'm not that creative," he says, as a way of rationalizing Taub's appearance, here.
"You're extremely creative. You're also predictable."
"Everything's predictable if you look hard enough," he replies automatically, tying into Taub's secret desire to actually be House. Implying that he has solved something masterful will inflate his ego. "How's Rachel?" he asks.
"Good. Busy, with Sarah."
"Good. She's liking kindergarten. How're you?"
"That's why you're sitting at a grave?"
"My girlfriend died a year ago today. Excuse me."
"Thirteen would laugh her ass off at the thought of you trying to commune with stones," Taub points out. "How long you been our here?"
"I'm commemorating. Meditating."
"Yeah, she wouldn't like that much either. She was always one for action," he says. Kutner remembers what House eventually dubbed her "lesbian phase" and knows that he would have to agree.
"I can get one day to do it my way," he says instead.
"You got that day. You've had 365 of those days. Hell, you could have started mourning the day you first hooked up." Taub's voice is not unkind, which is a big deal, coming from Taub, but his words are too blunt. "She did."
His breath hitches. He knew that, of course, that Remy had accepted and coldly anticipated her death since long before they became anything. He knows that he was probably more invested in them than she was because of this, and he knows he was stupid for actually pretending it might not happen. You don't beat a genetic disease.
But he looked before he leapt and now he's here, stuck between wanting to move on and wanting to remember, and knowing that House is right, because House is always right, and that he's moved on already.
"Is this helping?" Taub asks, impatiently.
"Not when you're just standing there," Kutner lobs back. "I just want … a minute, okay?"
Taub looks at him appraisingly, and Kutner knows he wants to call him an idiot. He can't explain it, so he doesn't try; Taub finally retreats to behind a tree.
He can't decipher his feelings, though, can't separate the shock from the numb and the anticipated from the actual. Frustrated, he turns and meetings Taub, waiting expectantly at the tree.
"Do you feel emotionally whole again?" Taub says, not unkindly.
"Can you give me a ride back?"
"That's why I'm here."
They trek across the shiny grass for a while, before Kutner finally says, "Do you think Cameron invited Foreman?"
Taub snorts and shakes his head, and they head back to the house.