A Little Night Music
Unnecessary disclaimer: None of the characters, dialogue or storylines appearing in the TV show "House, M. D." belong to me. The same goes for all musical pieces and poetry referenced.
Abstract: House thinks he's alone. Cameron thinks she never knew him until this moment. Takes place prior to the old team leaving.
A/N: The piece referenced multiple times in this fic is Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt. Words by Goethe, music by Tchaikovsky, although there are many different musical settings of this poem by various composers such as Beethoven, Schumann, and Schubert. This beautiful piece is the inspiration for the story and I hope you'll check it out.
No one was quite sure where the piano had come from, but the upright stood in the corner of House's office with an air of indignance that you might even question its' right to be there.
Chase asked Foreman, who shrugged it off. Cameron asked Wilson, who didn't know. No one dared ask House.
Soon, the three of them had become accustomed to the piano's presence, and began to forget it was there. They never saw House touch it. Nothing had changed, save for the furniture arrangement in House's office.
One night Cameron had stayed late working in the lab and was finally heading home. She walked quickly through the dimly lit corridor. She hated being alone in this part of the hospital at night. The creeping shadows were her only companion as she hurried back to gather her things from the conference room.
She was glad when she finally reached the nearly-dark conference room, and bent down to gather her bag and coat. Just then she heard the sound of a few piano keys being gently struck. Though it was low and soft, it still made her jump, and she turned quickly toward the source of the music.
Her eyes immediately found their way to him, sitting at the piano bench with his back to her. He began to sing softly, as if he was the only soul in the world.
The words, in German, were unfamiliar to her, but in spite of herself she couldn't help but stand transfixed. When the piece faded away, it seemed as if it had only been a moment. Twenty minutes ago she had been ready to go home, but now the only thing that mattered is that she wanted the music to continue.
But, fearful of the repercussions of being discovered, she followed her judgment rather than her heart, slipping out just as he began another piece. The music followed her softly down the hallway, keeping her company until she reached the elevators. When she stepped out into the chaos of the hospital's first floor she felt as if she had entered another word.
When she reached home, she still couldn't get the music out of her mind.
The next day seemed to pass unbearably slowly. Cameron was filled with an excited sort of tension she couldn't quite explain. Would she somehow give herself away? She always felt as if he could see right through her, delving into her deepest secrets with a single look.
But most of all she was filled with nervous anticipation. She knew how ridiculous it was to stay late, when they had no case, for the sole purpose of waiting to see if he would play again, but she easily rationalized her misgivings away. What was she going to do at home, after all? Chores had never been appealing, and all other pastimes seemed to pale in comparison to the idea of hearing him play such beautiful music.
That evening she busied herself in other parts of the hospital until things quieted down—he would never play if he saw her in the conference room. There was a sort of emotion, a vulnerability that came out when he had played before. He would never willingly show that to another person, not even one who, like she, would be happy to keep his secret.
Of course, her intrusion upon it was an even larger crime. She didn't want to imagine what would happen if he found out. Even so, she couldn't help herself. She had to hear it.
It greeted her as soon as she entered the long, dark, hallway. Her heart began to beat faster immediately, stirring up a multitude of emotions. As she came closer she recognized the song, though he wasn't singing it. Stormy Weather was something she hadn't heard since she was a child. Her parents, when they had been alive, loved dancing to this kind of music.
While he played she slipped quietly into the conference room, thankful that his back was to her. She gently sat down at the desk, hoping that he wouldn't notice her there in the corner of the room. As she sat, he transitioned into another she recognized, I'll Be Seeing You.
These two she knew the lyrics to, and though she didn't know the German song from the night before, the tone had sounded as if it was full of sadness and longing. As she listened she closed her eyes, letting the music wash over her.
Vague memories of her parents dancing and laughing drifted through her mind, of happy times with them when she was a little girl. Their specters slipped away as quietly as they had appeared as her mind turned to House, wondering what it was that made him need this music, this expression of emotion he refused to show during the day.
She opened her eyes cautiously when she heard the music stop. His body was hunched over the piano, his hand slowly massaging his thigh. Cameron's heart ached for him as he reached for the orange bottle of pills, shaking one out and tossing it down his throat. She sometimes forgot how much pain he was in every single day. He paused for a moment after taking the pill, and Cameron was afraid he was going to get up to leave. Her fear of discovery abated as his fingers once again rested upon the ivory keys.
As he began to play once again (something classical that she didn't recognize), she slowly got up, deciding that she ought to go. Though she longed to stay, she had no desire to get caught.
Just around the corner she lingered a moment, taking in just a bit more before she went on her way.
This went on for days. Cameron slipped in an out of the conference room quiet as a mouse. She couldn't stop herself from going. Like a moth drawn to a flame she came back over and over again, waiting for the inevitable burning that never seemed to come.
She began to learn his favorite pieces, the ones that he played over and over, and he always seemed to amaze her with his ability. Every night she heard something new, and she had now heard him singing in Italian as well as German. The German piece was his favorite, she was certain. He played it more often than any other, and she was beginning to love it too. She caught herself singing bits of it at home sometimes, though she had no idea what the words meant.
One morning she was humming the piece as she unpacked her things in the conference room. She hardly knew what she was doing until she noticed House staring at her. She stopped abruptly, blushing in spite of herself. Her heart raced as she turned away from him, heading to the coffeepot for something to momentarily occupy herself.
All day she asked herself the question: did he know? She hardly knew what to think. He barely acknowledged her through the day except for a few piercing looks, as if he was trying to puzzle something out or make some kind of decision.
That night she stayed late in the lab, against her better judgment. She felt as if she had to go. He would most likely be ready to confront her, she decided, beginning to regret her decision to stay late, as she mused over it on her way upstairs.
But when she entered the long hallway, she already heard the music drifting down from his office. She had to enter the conference room—her purse and keys were in there—but she really wished she could run away instead. She entered as softly as she could, the piano sounding louder than before. Cameron realized with a shock that the door between the conference room and his office was open.
As she stood just inside the conference room doorway, trying to decide what to do, his piece came to a close. The two of them were enveloped by the silence that followed, a moment that felt to Cameron as if it stretched on forever.
"How long?" he asked, still facing away.
"Two weeks," she said softly.
After another unbearably long moment he began to play again. He sang a melody that had become very familiar to her. She drew nearer to him, unable to stop herself from coming closer.
When she reached his office door, the music slowed to a stop. "Do you understand German?" he asked.
"No," she said, wondering.
He began to play again, more slowly. Speaking over the music, he said, "Only one who knows what longing is can know how I suffer… Alone and parted from joy and gladness." Cameron found herself again moving towards him, stopping just a step or two away in breathless anticipation of the next words.
He turned towards her, and their eyes met. "My senses fail… a burning fire devours me."
Cameron's breath caught in her throat as House's piercing eyes held hers captive. His fingers came to a slow stop, leaving the song unfinished. Against her better judgment she slowly sat down on the bench beside him, never breaking away from his gaze.
Cameron could never quite explain what caused her to kiss him just then.
Their lips met softly at first, and then harder as passion began to take over. Neither could say how long it had really been when House slowly pulled away, studying her face with an indiscernible expression. For Cameron, it was over far too soon.
After a moment he stood, moving away from the piano to grab his cane.
From the door he looked down on her, this time with an expression that resembled regret. It was immediately masked by a small smile. The expression was nearly a smirk—an expression containing a challenge.
"See you tomorrow night," were his only words.
He stepped out the door and left her there on the piano bench, breathless, speechless, and wondering what tomorrow night would bring.