Title: Soldiers, soldiers
Summary: He is the steadfast one-legged tin soldier, left out and ignored by his maker. Then who is she? The seemingly one-legged paper ballerina? Beautiful, but just as unfinished as he is?
Disclaimer/spoilers: Not mine. Spoilers up until season 4 and a little about season 5.
Author's Note 1: Again, not beta-ed. So sorry about that. It's near deadline and I thought it was better to post it now than later.
Author's Note 2: I always see House/Cameron as a fairytale couple, a doomed fairytale couple most of the time. And the couple I mention in this story is just one of those views. I actually have another image on how I want to play this plot but right now, I just want to make danceonstardust happy. Really, really hope she'll like it.
Author's Note 3: My prompts are 1. Nighttime walk at a park, 2. Good snark and 3. Sexual tensions. Jude also told me she would really love to see a jealous House. And... I kinda cheated on the last prompt. Sorry... There is a jealous House but you have to squint really hard or you could miss it entirely. I have to thank her, though, for the nighttime walk prompt. It inspires me something I never have thought before.
And last but not least, I hope you all get something, anything, out of it.
There was an underlying purpose behind a nighttime walk. People walk a nighttime walk because they want to escape something. Anything: A series of sleepless nights, snoring spouses, crying infants, monsters rattling under the bed, ghosts behind flowing curtains…
They both have walked their own nighttime walks. He with an army for a father, childhood friends waving goodbye to the back of a fleeing car, a mutilating lover, screeching pain, empty bottles, a dying blond and a lost best friend.
He with an army for a father, childhood friends waving goodbye to the back of a fleeing car, a mutilating lover, screeching pain, empty bottles, a dying blond and a lost best friend.
She with repulsing caresses and glances, a lost innocence, a dead old dog—grandmother—friends her age—husband, a denied love, meths, tough decisions, silent cries, a useless passion and car accidents, to name a few.
And somehow their steps have always led their ways towards each other.
Like the time when she found him in the morgue; a rotten cat carcass lying flat under his shaking right hand. She stayed behind the shadows, like an undead that she was.
Or like that first night he knew she was back and he limped to ER, watching her in her own castle. He remembered himself waiting on the hallway with his one good leg carrying the rest of his weight. His cane on his right hand; his very own personal fleeting gun.
He remembered her dropping the charts she was holding awkwardly. A male nurse stopped to pick them up on her behalf, receiving her solemn smile when he handed them to her, and took a moment to briefly admire her back view as she walked away to a patient. He remembered his own scoff.
He cursed silently when she finally noticed him.
He wished she hadn’t seen him.
She was treating a patient when he reached her. He was howling another rude remark to the poor guy. She didn’t bother to look up and cast her eyes downward instead. A different shade of red painted the front of her pink scrubs and she wished she were a smoker.
She was finally done with the invalid and made her way to the doctor’s lounge. A quick glance at a clock told her it was her shift to go home. He was following closely behind, she knew that. So closely that the door of the doctor’s lounge hit the tip of his nose when she swung it hard behind her—a little too harsh, she regretfully admitted.
It was funny, though, she thought as she changed to her casual shirt and jeans. Somehow she knew this was going to happen to her, once he got out of the surgery and Cuddy was there holding his hand. Silently she wished she didn’t resemble
She dropped her scrubs to her bag; the red glinting in the dark. She would have to go to the laundry. Maybe tomorrow; she was too tired tonight.
When she opened the door, House was still there. There was a slight smirk forming on his lips.
“Get lost, House!” It was all the reaction she could give. She brushed past him, heading towards the exit.
There were seconds of silence, as if he was scrutinizing the sincerity of her words. “Okay,” he said eventually; the sound of his footsteps echoing in her ears. “Just pretend I’m not here.”
“It would be highly appreciated if you’re not here—at all.”
She heard his voice from somewhere around her—too close to her dismay. “You were a lot nicer when you still worked for me. Wanna go back?”
“No.” It came as quickly as it went.
“Right. Can you say that one more time? Only this time, try to actually mean it.”
She said nothing and shook her head instead. The majority of these games they played were won by him, not her.
Staying silent was a way of avoiding more defeats.
They were already at the hospital’s front door and she turned left, away from the parking space.
House called from behind her, “Hey! Your car’s right there!”
“I’m avoiding you!”
She kept her steps steady and fast but it wasn’t long before she sensed a movement nearby and suddenly he was already beside her, leveling her steps.
“I need you to talk to him,” muttered House under his breath, “again.”
“I did, House,” she replied. Her voice was a mixture of anger and exhaustion.
“I know. That’s why I said again.”
In her attempt to escape him, she walked absentmindedly through the trees and shrubs of the hospital’s park. She has failed, she knew. And worse! Not only she was feet away from her original destination, she was also utterly, without a doubt, lost. And he was still by her side, waiting for her answer, which she finally, resignedly, gave.
“You talk to him!”
“Yeah, tried that.”
She stopped and turned her head to his direction. He had stopped, too; his brows furrowed from frustration. And she knew there were moments when he really just hated her; and perhaps this was one of those. So she let out a smirk and locked her eyes with his, basking in her brief glory.
A figure of a man—stranger walked past them, glaring at them as he did so. She wasn’t aware of his presence until then. Did she and House talk too loud? Could he hear what they were talking about? Did she know him? She wasn’t wearing her glasses.
“I just thought that maybe he’d listen to you if you push him hard enough. I know he wouldn’t do the same for me,” he said, whispering ever so subtly, she could hear a splash of water —meters from where they stood, followed by sounds of cheery laughter. Some unfortunate kid was having his/her birthday celebrated.
She merely sighed and resumed her walk—their walks. She looked around her; what an odd-looking plant!
The non-existence of her reply seemed to him a cue to move on. “I’m not that scared of him, you know,” he said, referring to his latest appeal on
“Right,” she replied, smirking. “You’re the courageous steadfast one-legged tin soldier!”
She could hear him snorting. “And who are you supposed to be? The seemingly one-legged paper ballerina?”
There was a second of silence as his suggestion evaporated before them. It was too honest. Too… Suggestive. She still didn’t know where they were.
She let out a question instead. “What was the ending again?” she asked, finally turning to face him again. He was already looking at her. She wondered how long he had been doing that.
“Crash and burn,” he answered, solemnly. He widened his eyes for a dramatic effect. Her crooked smile was his reward. “The goblin inside the box got jealous of his ardent gaze at her, then magically makes the boy throw the soldier to the fireplace.”
“And the ballerina quickly followed…”
“The airhead was flown by the wind to the same fire that was eating his boyfriend alive. There’s a moral lesson for you. It’s never good to be too skinny!”
“…And leaving only a paper rose,” she said, ignoring him.
“And a tin heart from him.”
“Ha! He has a heart after all!”
“And what do you know!? The ballerina stuffed tissue papers under her clothes to make her breasts look bigger!”
She rolled her eyes. There was another smirk coming from his side, and she sighed just for a retort.
A light was coming from some place in front of them. A sound of screeching tires reached them. Bustles and buzzes of a gurney being pushed and pulled inside; shrieks and muffled wails as a door hissed and automatically opened and closed. All of these, they drifted her mind to something red and pink folding together inside her bag. She has caught House looking at it secretly from the corner of his eyes when they were walking to the doctor’s lounge, and apparently thought it was too trivial compared to his crucial predicament.
Her voice seemed to materialize on its own. “It’s not getting easier, is it?”
For once, he stayed silent.
And the silence stayed on. The one they so often found—and fell into. She must remind herself not to get too comfortable.
The pavements they walked on were getting familiar now. So were the signs around them. Her—their—steps were firmer as they passed another recognizable lamppost. And beyond that was the same sliding front door, the one they had passed—minutes, hours ago. The patient she had so carefully tended waved at her on his way out, deliberately overlooking House. The same nurse Cameron had passed on her way to the doctor’s lounge earlier, staring dumbfounded at her, surprised to see that she hadn’t headed home yet—with House standing next to her.
Both of them stopped walking at the same time, breathing everything in.
And that was when he realized something. He closed his eyes, trying to shake the revelation off and shuddered when he knew he had failed.
People walk nighttime walks because they want to escape something. Anything. But they all end in one thing.
(And Cuddy made a good goblin).