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HOUSE M.D. FIC: Absolution

Title: Absolution
Fandom: House M.D.
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: House/Cameron, allusions to House/Cuddy, House/Wilson
Summary: She’s been waiting a long time.
Warning: Set shortly after major character death.

 

 

He - wakes up is wrong since it implies that he was sleeping; comes to is closer – sprawled on the sofa with a stiff neck and bursting bladder. Debris from his three day drunk litters the coffee table and creates a treacherous obstacle course on the floor. He squints against the unforgiving morning light, measures the last few fingers of Scotch in the nearest bottle by eye, then pushes it away with a sigh. Not now. Today is the day.

In the bathroom, he peels off the rank t-shirt and sweatpants and stuffs them into the hamper. His scar is livid and pulses with nauseating pain as he pisses. Two Tylenol, and if he had anything stronger to hand, no power in the ‘verse could stop him from taking advantage. He turns the shower on, hot enough to scald, and scrubs the acrid alcoholic residue from his pores.

Afterwards he shaves carefully, methodically, wondering when the face looking back at him became that of an old man. The crow’s feet, the dulled blue eyes, the sunken cheeks, liver spots starting to sprout – had they advanced imperceptibly, step by insidious step, or arrived and encamped victoriously more or less overnight?

The clothes are ready for him, set aside in his last moments of sobriety – the only decent suit that still fits, a relatively new gray silk shirt. His fingers shake only a little as they fasten on his armor. He can barely remember how to arrange the cranberry tie. Not the most tasteful option for a funeral, perhaps, but he considers it the most appropriate, and protocol be damned.

The doorbell shrills as he sinks onto the bed, socks in hand. He hesitates, calculates. Curiosity gets the better of him, as usual, so he reaches for his cane and limps down the long hallway, cursing.

She’s older than he remembers her, of course she is, more rounded at breast and belly and hip, the first furrows in her forehead and at the sides of her serious mouth. Strands of silver are starting to appear in her auburn hair. But her eyes are the same, alight with a fierce compassion, and unshadowed by the pity she knows he’d hate.

She doesn’t say, How are you holding up? or I know how much he meant to you or He’s in a better place now. She knows better than to bother with banalities, much less comforting fictions. At least he’s taught her that much.

What she says is, “I came as soon as I heard.”

The mild reproof, left unspoken, reminds him so strongly of Wilson that for a moment he fears that he is going to retch right in front of her. When he recovers, he rasps, “I called Stacy,” and watches her face while the shaft hits home.

“I know,” she says, no heat in her voice despite the telltale flush that stains her cheeks. “We’re staying at the same hotel.” She tilts her head, regarding him. “I looked for you at the loft first.”

His gaze shifts sideways despite himself. “Couldn’t sleep there,” he mumbles. She of all people will understand what he means. How Wilson could have stayed in Amber’s apartment, after, is something he has never understood. But then there were so many things he never understood about Wilson, and now it is too late.

She touches his sleeve, tentatively, seeking comfort or giving it, he isn’t sure which. When he looks back, her eyes are brimming with empathy. “You haven’t been able to sleep here, either.”

Now she brushes her fingertips softly against his face, and he is surprised to see that they’re wet when they come away. “You’ve been drinking your meals for days. You need food and rest. And… this.” She steps forward, rising on tiptoe, and against his will, he finds himself lowering his lips to hers, rough hands tangling in her hair. His cane clatters to the floor.

He’s dizzy when she draws away from him just far enough to murmur, “Invite me in.”

“If you think I’m dying, you’ve been misinformed,” he growls, but even as he twists the knife, it turns in his hand. He’s been dealt a mortal blow and knows it.

“We’re all dying,” she says, and slips in under his arm, and shuts the door behind her.

“I’m already dressed,” he points out. “Got places to go.”

"I didn't think you did funerals."

"In this case..." he finds that he can't continue. In this case, he'll make an exception. He always did, for Wilson.

She nods and extricates him, considerate as ever. “You look very handsome.” She encircles his wrist with her small, strong hand, fingers reaching only halfway round despite the weight he’s lost. “But the service isn’t for hours.”

He lets her lead him to the bedroom, bracing himself against the wall with his free hand, swallowing hard against the searing pain that shoots through his thigh with every other step. She lets go of him long enough to shrug out of her heavy coat, to unbutton her blouse and step out of her skirt. He fumbles behind her, finally succeeds in freeing her breasts even as she finishes unbuckling his belt and unzips his fly. They are heavy in his hands, generous and pliant, her nipples crinkling in the cool air.

“The tie,” he groans, and she unknots it with deft fingers and drapes it over her arm, then unbuttons his shirt and glides a hand over the cage of bone that encloses his hammering heart.

Undressed at last, they lie down together; he almost cries with relief when he can take the pressure off of his leg. She kisses him again, hooking a smooth, still-slim calf over his hip, and pulls him close.

He doesn’t want to think about how many years have passed since he’s been with a woman – Lisa was the last – and in the meantime, his aging body seems to have lost the knack. Even as he half-hardens against her, light-headed with the slightly spicy scent of her flesh, he knows that this is a no-go. Her eyes miss nothing; she slides her hand from his shoulder to the small of his back, a gentling motion, a wordless absolution.

He rolls away with an apologetic grimace, but she follows his movement, wrapping her arms around his waist, and fits her cheek between his scapulas, against the bony curve of his spine. His heartbeat slows; the reflexive erection subsides. A wave of heaviness washes over him, his eyes closing despite himself.

“Sleep,” she whispers, breath warm against his back, and he does. 

 

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
barefootpuddles
Feb. 8th, 2011 03:52 am (UTC)
Yikes!!! Not Wiiiillllssssooonnnnn!

Though I have yet to see tonight's episode, I understand he might as well, be, you know (I refuse to say it).

I liked your Cameron, and she is honestly the only character I ever really disliked, so yay! for you for redeeming her. :)

Oh, and I think this is probably what House would be like if the thing i won't even mention ever happens. Very IC.
flywoman
Feb. 8th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC)
Much as I enjoy tormenting House, I've said it before - if Wilson ever really leaves, for any reason, the show is over for me. I'm hoping that his current scarcity will be explained by, I dunno, jealousy and despair over his apparent loss of House to Cuddy, and redeemed by the end of the season. I think that I can exercise that much patience.

I liked your Cameron, and she is honestly the only character I ever really disliked, so yay! for you for redeeming her. :)

Thank you, that's a great compliment!
jezziejay
Feb. 8th, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
Loved House's understated but still palpable grief. Loved him shaving and uncovering the man he is now. Loved the present tense narration - gives it a lovely flow and really captures the moment. My heart just broke for House here but I was glad that Cameron could provide some comfort for him.

Lovely.
flywoman
Feb. 9th, 2011 12:30 am (UTC)
These brief, lyrical, bittersweet pieces used to be my signature style. I like the present tense here, too - it's hard to sustain over a long story, but it makes everything feel more immediate and raw.

Thank you for your comments - it's been so quiet around here lately!
(Deleted comment)
flywoman
Feb. 9th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
You do an awesome Cameron, untainted by later seasons.
Thank you! I'd really like to hear more about this - how do you perceive Cameron as changing in later seasons? And are we talking post-S2 or post-S3 or what?

The shaving, the clothes - a sign of respect for Wilson or a distraction to himself?
I think of it as out of respect, and also symbolic of stepping up to be his own Wilson now that his foil and would-be conscience is gone. Also the tie was a gift from Wilson during the Tritter arc, and I'd like to think that he saves it for truly special occasions.

"We're all dying." Doesn't House say that to Thirteen?
I was positive that House had said it to somebody; I honestly couldn't remember to whom.
(Deleted comment)
spotandpunk
Feb. 10th, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
Gosh, I liked this! Nice and moody and I really like the way you've woven in the dialogue - very cool. I'd love to see more of this - do you have any plans to continue? Brilliant one-shot though too!
flywoman
Feb. 11th, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
Thanks very much! I can't say that I have any concrete plans to continue this, but I really enjoyed writing it, and if another chapter appeared at my door, I certainly wouldn't turn it away!
damigella_314
Feb. 23rd, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
First of all I have to repeat what barefootpuddles says, you make even Cameron trying to have sex with House right and positive. You're a magician.

I like to think that House is shaving because he knew Wilson liked him with a stubble, and now it doesn't really matter. I also like to think that many, many happy years have passed for the two of them. And that Wilson would have preferred being the first to go. His biggest fear is seeing House die.

And I find it perfect that you don't write why Wilson is dead. Because it's irrelevant.
flywoman
Feb. 23rd, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
First of all I have to repeat what barefootpuddles says, you make even Cameron trying to have sex with House right and positive.
I consider it to be a great compliment when people enjoy something of mine that lies well outside of their usual fic preferences.

I like to think that House is shaving because he knew Wilson liked him with a stubble, and now it doesn't really matter.
Good point!

I also like to think that many, many happy years have passed for the two of them.
While I did not specify how many, I hope I successfully implied that this was the case.

His biggest fear is seeing House die.
I like to think that neither one of them would prefer to be left alone when the other goes.

And I find it perfect that you don't write why Wilson is dead. Because it's irrelevant.
Exactly. The important thing is that House is now experiencing Life After Wilson.

Edited to say, Thanks very much for your comments!
damigella_314
Feb. 24th, 2011 11:46 am (UTC)
"neither one of them would prefer to be left alone when the other goes."
That's one of my favorite themes. What I'm impressed by is your clever way to have House nt alone. At least for a few hours.

If you can stomach unbeta'ed deathfics, you can see my take on the same issue in the last two chapters of
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6680589/1/The_Longest_Journey
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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