Hooray, my first full length House story! Yes, I'm currently 'obsessing' over the whole House/Stacy relationship. Maybe I'll write something with a bit more humor next time. But until then, enjoy!
Author's Note: This takes place immediately after the end of episode 2x11, "Need to Know".
Disclaimer: I do not own any aspect of House, MD.
"Being miserable doesn't make you better than anybody else, House." A pause, in which a sigh would not have been out of place; but the caesura was cut off before the hypothetical exhalation could make itself heard. "It just makes you miserable."
A moment of imperceptible hesitation, then the soft shriek of the door swinging open; and, a second later, silence.
Just makes you miserable.
As much as the rebuke might sting, as much as it might twist uncomfortably inside him, House just couldn't bring himself to expend the mental energy needed to care. He was already having enough trouble wrestling with his self-induced emotions - he didn't need to deal with those caused by outside and completely irrelevant sources.
I.e., Wilson yelling at him.
A chill breeze fluttered uncaringly by, brushing his face, and House moistened his lips instinctively against the resulting dryness. There was a depressed slump to his shoulders, and he leaned heavily against the wall, staring out at the darkness beyond the hospital's island of light. Only the dull murmur of a passing vehicle or the scrape of fabric as he shivered and shifted slightly made any dent in the otherwise adamant silence.
It was growing increasingly colder; his hands, resting on wall or cane, were beginning to numb around the edges. But he shrugged it away. Physical discomfort he could takes in stride - besides, better cold and alone up here than having to endure constant company in the more moderate temperatures below.
A frown creased his unkempt face. Wilson had called him an idiot, which House felt was a distinct untruth. More interestingly, he hadn't been labeled a coward - and it was that unsaid accusation which House knew to be true. He hunched over slightly at the thought. Yes, he admitted grudgingly to himself, he was hiding up here. Because he didn't want to descend and face the consequences of what he had done.
He didn't intend to return until he was sure that Stacy had left.
The doctor in question was so used to that particular call that he didn't flinch, didn't even look around, but instead adjusted the backpack slung over one shoulder and started to walk away from his office door. The continuing click of heels behind him, however, indicated that his getaway was likely doomed to the status of "epic fail".
"Oh, God," House muttered in aggravation. It wasn't hard to deduce what was coming. He slowed his steps, then halted completely, turning just as Dr. Cuddy drew level.
He saw her open her mouth to speak, and immediately interrupted.
"Going home. See ya." His tone was pointed.
Typically, however, Cuddy was not to be deterred. "I just ran into Stacy on her way out," she began, looking up at her employee through hard eyes. "She was practically crying."
House shrugged, inching a step or two further toward the elevator. "Bad day, probably," he guessed.
"General 'bad days' don't make people burst into tears, normally."
"Sure they do," he refuted her. "I mean, seriously -" he lowered his voice - "happens to me all the time. Sometimes I have to take a hair dryer to the couch afterward."
"In public? House." Cuddy's voice was serious as she spread her hands. "What the hell did you say to her?"
House sighed, glancing around distractedly as though seeking guidance - a completely false impression. It was with obvious reluctance that he looked back at his boss.
"I told her she's better off without me," he said quietly, dropping his eyes again. He was getting a distinct feeling of déjà vu - it was the exact same thing he had told Wilson an hour earlier. But this time, the reaction was incredulous, rather than caustic.
"You just - sent her off?" Cuddy was disbelieving. "After you let this go - how far?"
House noted the change in tone, recognizing the last two words as a real question he was supposed to answer, not a rhetorical one. He turned his eyes upward, his lips compressed in irritation at Cuddy's prying. "Does it matter anymore?" he retorted sharply. "It's over, okay - just leave it, will you?" He turned away to leave, but she caught his arm.
"Um, yeah, it kind of does matter!" she disagreed vehemently, as though stating the obvious. "You've been raising hell about this for months, and now suddenly you just end it? House, she was ready to ditch Mark and run off with you - and from what she said, you two have been going a lot further than anybody realized!"
House looked at her strangely. "What did she say?" he asked slowly.
"I asked her what happened in Baltimore, and she told me that most of it happened after Baltimore. Which says, to me, that both of you are really screwing with each other - though I'm guessing that it's mostly you."
"Your intuition never fails to astound me," House congratulated her sarcastically. He leaned forward slightly, now not so adept at keeping his emotions in check, his voice rising. "What do you want from me? A full confession?"
"That would be.... unnecessary. And I probably don't want to know anyway -"
"Then what?" he demanded heatedly. "What?"
Cuddy seemed to steady herself. "Did you sleep with her, House?"
Stupid question, House thought savagely. "Yes, I slept with her!" he almost shouted. "Happy, now that I've unburdened my sinful soul?"
"Oh, God." Cuddy put a hand to her forehead. "So you essentially seduced her, slept with her, and then tossed her back to Mark? House -"
"I did not seduce her," House shot back, stung. "You're as blind as Wilson is - you're both acting like I don't give a damn about what she feels!" He gestured agitatedly around him. "I didn't want to end this - I did it because I had to, because it's what's best for her! All right, fine, so maybe I was an ass to encourage it - what're you, or Wilson, or anybody going to do about it now?"
"There's nothing I can do!" answered Cuddy, throwing up her hands. "I'll just accept her resignation and hope that this will all work out for her."
"Right." House barely noticed that he had spoken; he was too distracted by Cuddy's confirmation of what he had known Stacy would do. He had expected that she would leave - some shameful part of him had even hoped for it - but that didn't make the loss any less of a blow.
They stood there for several moments in awkward silence. Then House finally pulled himself back to reality, avoiding Cuddy's gaze.
"I'm going home now," he muttered, almost to himself. "You can finish lecturing me in the morning." After a second's hesitation, he turned away and started walking toward the elevator. This time, no one followed him.
By the time House returned to his apartment, he was calm enough to recognize that some part of his brain was fighting to just ignore the evening's events - and failing badly. It was this rational part to which he normally listened, the silent voice that urged him to accept the past and move on. And it perturbed him more than a little to find that his usual logic in dealing with emotional problems seemed to be having only minimal impact on his current thinking processes.
At a loss to determine if he was angry or upset - or both - and at whom - he closed the door behind him with more force than was really needed and then remained where he was, staring dully at the darkened room. He was painfully aware of how empty, how lonely, it seemed.
House caught himself suddenly. Had he truly been affected this badly, to actually experience melancholia at the prospect of being alone again?
Get over it, he told himself firmly. He hooked his cane up on the lintel of the doorway, pulled off his jacket, and negligently threw the latter object across the back of a nearby chair. His face, well trained, showed no evidence of the painful spasms in his thigh as he limped across the room, over to the piano. He wasn't sure exactly why he bee-lined for the instrument - it just felt like the right thing to do at this given moment.
A whisper of a sigh left his lips as he sat down. The room was still shadowed - House hadn't even bothered to turn the lights on - but he didn't necessarily need his eyes.
As though of their own accord, his hands lifted, fingers drifting across the keys, that black and white road turned uniformly grey by the night. Slight pressure, gently now - and suddenly, there, a simple chord, reverberating in the stillness.
He closed his eyes, and began to play.
It wasn't a happy piece, certainly, but nor was it sad - it simply invoked a kind of somber, regretful longing, which happened (not so coincidentally) to fit the pianist's mood perfectly. The notes brought to mind particular colors - rich mahogany, subtle crimson, and a shade so deep as to be almost but not quite black. But more important than the colors were the images that faded into vivid detail as House pulled his mind back from the physical and retreated into the sanctuary of his memory. The vibrant sound of her laughter in response to his witticisms; the sweet, dusty scent of her hair, so close as their lips touch; the sensuality of her skin beneath his hand as they lie nestled together in an impenetrable cocoon of love -
A finger slipped, and the spell was broken in one jarring moment of discord.
"Damn it," House muttered quietly. He let his hands fall away, staring down at the now silent keys. The final echoing vestiges of music hovered and were gone, never to return, except in recollection.
Never to return.
Abruptly, House rose, one hand instinctively dropping to massage his right thigh. Without returning to retrieve his cane, he limped back through the apartment to his bedroom, where he sank down onto the mattress with an exhalation of relief. His eyes closed briefly again as the gentle movement of his hand continued its attempts to soothe his leg's agonizing fires. Somehow, it didn't surprise him that the pain level was so elevated.
Grimacing a bit, he reached into his pocket and helped himself to the benefits of one of his generally trusted little white friends. Next the sneakers came off, but that effort seemed to sap what little energy he had left, and it was without undressing further that House slowly swung his legs up onto the bed and lay back. Yet another sigh left him.
He whispered her name silently to the unmoving darkness, marveling at how tongue and lips worked in harmony to produce each individual sound.
A twinge of intense pain made him gasp softly, wincing, clutching at his leg in retrained desperation.
It occurred to him that there might be some connection here, but he immediately dismissed the idea. It was ridiculous, to think that his mind could get over this while his body could not. He bit his lip sharply and turned over onto his side, confronting the place where Stacy had stretched beside him. Empty now, cold.
Closing his eyes yet again, House twisted over even more, pressing the side of his face into the pillow. Sleep, he hoped, would be the escape tunnel from the emotions he was still fighting to suppress.
The damp of his skin against the fabric said otherwise.
Unable to find rest behind their lids, his eyes reluctantly opened again, blinking rapidly with pain and moisture. Resignedly, House surrendered himself to the control of his nerves. They seemed destined to win out anyway.
He knew it was going to be a long and uncomfortable night.
Hope this proved to be a good read - please take the time to review! May the Force be with you.