I wrote this quite a while back, but it was only posted on my livejournal. Please, let me know how you like it.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveller,
long I stood and looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
She'd always stood on the outside. Somehow for years he'd known her name, her passions; even her grades. She'd stood on the sideline, thinking she was different, unnoticed, unattainable and utterly unimpressed by his antics, his brilliance; his arrogance. But there had always been a sideways glance where she was concerned. When her friends were dragging her away from the Lacrosse match they'd dragged her to, she'd notice him watching silently, lost in his own little world whilst simultaneously chatting up a girl he'd never remember the name of in the morning. But, what did that really matter - if she was blatantly un-phased by his honest appreciation of a woman twenty yards away and three years his junior, she likely wasn't worth remembrance.
It had baffled her the day she'd realized just how much she knew about him without even attempting to seek out the information. She blamed it on rumour and gossip floating around the group of young women who had claimed her as a 'friend' simply because she was brilliant, regardless of how many people hadn't been told and that she was the one the guys stared at. It could have been because she didn't reciprocate - she didn't seek out the attention - and college boys were known for liking a challenge, he even more-so, and on the odd occasion it made her blush when his blues scanned her new outfit in silent appraisal.
She could have fallen victim to his battle cry, calling her to fight him, to temper him, to butt horns with him if only to sleep with him in the end. But she stood her ground. For three years she fought the urge to speak to him beyond the courteous 'hello' and 'goodbye' that she would have to bestow upon him if the floor party just happened to find it's epicentre in his room. She'd trusted him to the point of not questioning the drink he would place in her hand; a further courtesy that she wouldn't bestow on just anyone. But beyond that, beyond his requests, his suggestions, his insistence that, one day, she would love him with every fibre of her being, she stayed away from him.
Her choices were clear and she was smart. Smarter than she was sometimes given credit for in the beginning and sometimes that made her think that perhaps the rumours of her brilliance were spread by him. Because who else would be able to convince a hall of students that she was smarter than Professor Mann if not the man who had proven himself such, three times over with irrefutable evidence.
She could be with him, or not. It had been simple when spoken aloud. When his face wasn't mere inches from her, her breath laced with the sweet smell of one too many margaritas, and his shirt wasn't missing three buttons more at the top. It was simple when she didn't have to fight the fact that he really did smell like sweat and cinnamon and if she was honest with herself, sex. It was easy when he wasn't close enough to kiss, to touch, close enough that she just might agree to love him.
It was simple until she started to admit to herself that, really, it had never been as simple as that. Nothing with him had or ever would be as simple as 'yes' or 'no'. No question she asked would get her a straight answer, nothing she wanted would come without a look and expectance that he'd get something in return. Nothing she did would ever receive the praise that she thought she'd been searching for all her life, until she met him and she realized that that wasn't what she needed.
To be with him was a dark road. To be with him was the unknown, and, looking down at him as he sat on the floor of her apartment all those years ago with blue eyes glazed with the bliss of a rare alcoholic binge, she'd realized, in that moment, that even though the path was dark and twisted and un-chartable, he'd always be there to carry a torch for her.
Then took the other,
as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim,
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that the passing there,
Had worn them really about the same.
She, as brilliance would dictate, passed her classes with all the flying colours of a thanks-giving day parade. The words 'first woman', 'youngest ever' and 'silent achiever' were thrown around – none of which were honestly, completely, true - as she graduated a year before the scowling faces of all those who had stood with her on induction day. Sharing their first scary professor's ranting speech, their first school tour, their first run-in with him and the story that would forever be etched in the back of her mind, consistently associated with that tilted devious smirk.
The story of how that one group of freshmen had seen him stealing a cadaver. Never proven, of course, and who would really believe them anyway?
She'd kissed him tenderly that final day, knowing without saying, that they would cross paths again. She never knew how or that, under the circumstances of their future meeting, she'd regret not dragging him with her wherever she went, hoping that he wouldn't fight being tied down to a woman whose career would always come before him. He'd known that of course, that while they were rather famous around campus – the misanthrope and the woman who seemed to carry an undiagnosed immunity to him – he knew that there was no way he could ride on her coat tails and no way he would wish her to be any less than all she could be, to share brilliance in a world of averages would be too hard a cross to bear for them both.
Mutually they'd always known the extent of what one would do for the other, what path they'd take and how, when, why or if what they had would ever end. A part of her knew that he'd be in her life forever. A part of her knew that he'd always be there, looking in - if not coming in sometimes, warming himself silently by the fire, before stepping outside again - just watching.
In the years following school she'd fought her way to the top, she'd haggled with the possibility of not being the second youngest Dean of Medicine on record, first woman. And she'd won that battle of course, but she honestly couldn't think of one person that had doubted her drive. She had started to wonder; at which point in the road had she become so selfish? At which point had she stopped caring or noticing that all her friends had left her alone?
But, as she realized that she'd been without him so long, lived a life of virtual solitude – as all paths up and over must be – it was as wearing as it had been back then. Back when he had pushed her buttons and caused her to fight for a cause he never disclosed, never proved was an honest cause nor denied was just.
When he'd become her patient, screaming in agony and begging for reprieve, the road had only darkened. The trees had started to block her way and she'd stared at the woman by his bedside for several moments, unsure of what to make of her, unsure if the world was out to spite her with how easily this woman could hold his hand.
And both that morning equally lay,
in leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
Stacy hadn't been built for it, she didn't carry an immunity; she wasn't sturdy enough to resist his anger and his undeniable hate. To love is the only road to complete and utter loathing. You cannot hate without love, and perhaps, she wondered, that's why she bore the brunt and Stacy was left to leave, his pain and anger lost in the wake of her guilt. They'd shared a different love that didn't mean dark roads were lit. That didn't mean she'd walk through them, shadows and all just because she had the will to stand. He'd loved Stacy; she knew that with honesty and just a little jealousy. But they'd had street-lights on their road, easy-street, as some would call it, with lights that went out when it got just a little too hard.
Three months after the infarction and Stacy's note, he stood unsteadily on her front doorstep with a metaphorical flashlight and a drunken smile.
And she'd let him in; because there was no point in her life where she was emotionally able to completely shut him out.
I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less travelled by,
Far back in college she could remember hearing his name and snickering with disdain that someone so arrogant, so sarcastically jovial and so downright childish could occupy the upper echelon of their little world within a college campus. That his mere name could arouse such awe, troubled and it had, for a time, annoyed the hell out of her. She had been presented so many times in their twenty years, with the chance to choose the road so many had walked, the road that led away from him and the pain he inflicted on everything he touched.
None of them had realized that the pain had been inflicted with a tender hand. None of them had been aware that while arrogant, self-loathing and utterly genius he was, he was tainted too. She still, twenty years on, didn't know what it was that created such a cynical legend. But she was glad for it, in a small part.
Twenty years ago she'd stood at the fork in two roads. One led on to the amazing wonders of a life she 'could' have had. It led to a place with bright lights, to where she could be amazing, talented, a brilliant doctor...hidden in the background. But then there was the other road, the road covered in shadows, shrubs and dark critters crawling across the beaten down sign that read "Danger: Do Not Cross". The path that she had taken one step down then looked back at the glistening light of the other and for a moment, regretted her choice.
But then he stood there. He bore promises of a life of misery, heartache, longing and betrayal. He had a look on his face that would always, without fail, demand more of her. But he stood there, Gregory House, on the path none dared to travel and few understood, with a torch that would light her way.
He stood there twenty years ago, holding his hand out and she took it. And when her hand slipped into his with a nervous twitch of soft skin against sweaty palm, she never looked back again.
And that has made all the difference.