Characters: Wilson, House
Word count: 1440
Spoilers: Season five through 5x20
A/N: It's my first House story since November, and I swear I wrote the whole thing before 5X21
Disclaimer: not mine
Summary: After the funeral, Wilson can’t get the damn music out of his head.
Lawrence Kutner was a man of gentle humor, a compassionate and intelligent man who turned out to be a boy, forever haunted by his long-dead mother and father, caught between worlds, hurting in ways that none of us can even begin to understand…
What a load of crap.
Wilson has no idea why he’s this angry. Normally, he’s pretty good at shoving these things down, and he’s been doing a decent job of it this week, until the moment he spots Kutner’s memorial handout lying on the end table next to a framed photograph of Amber. Seeing the two side-by-side like that makes something twist up in his chest, but there’s no handy bottle to throw against the wall.
He doesn’t think first. Wilson kicks the end table with his bare foot, knocking Amber’s framed photograph onto the floor. The funeral handout slides harmlessly underneath the couch, but the glass frame is broken. Wilson shakes his head at himself, disgusted at his own lack of self-control. Of course, he steps on the glass on his way to find the dustbin and broom and cuts himself, but he manages to get a band aid on it before tracking blood all over the floor.
He’s exhausted, but he makes his way back to clean up the rest of the mess. All he wants is to put an end to this day. Wilson almost envies House for finding a way out. The funeral's gotten under his skin.
The service had been even worse than he’d expected, what with the disconcerting line-up of speakers: the sobbing parents, the cousin from Iowa who really didn’t know Lawrence very well, the frat brother who rambled on about “Kutner: King of the Keggers...” Then toward the end, almost incongruously, a woman who ran some sort of Star Trek convention on Alaskan cruise-ships got up to talk about Kutner’s gift for Vulcan impersonations. Actually, that last one turned out to be the best part of Wilson’s day.
Wilson didn’t think Cuddy’s eulogy would ever end, even though Cameron told him later that it had lasted under five minutes. There was just something about hearing Kutner referred to as “a hardworking doctor with a kind, gentle manner who brought comfort and joy to his patients and family and friends and –” that made him want to kick tables.
Since Kutner’s death, Cuddy’s been handing out platitudes like placebos and expecting them to do some good. Wilson is glad that House never showed up to the funeral. He might have thrown his cane like a javelin at the podium, and Wilson doesn’t know if he would have tried to stop him. He's incredibly grateful that House hasn’t told her about Danny yet. Oddly enough, House has always been good at keeping Wilson’s secrets. Wilson can’t honestly say the same for himself, and he promises himself he's going to do better.
But the damn music from the funeral keeps playing in his head. He can hardly think about anything else.
Wilson picks the framed photo up off the floor. Amber’s still smiling up at him from underneath the broken glass, but appearances have always been deceiving when it comes to his dead girlfriend. If the dead take any interest in the living, Amber’s got to be pissed off right now. She’d have ended Kutner for doing anything so stupid as killing himself, when she’d fought so hard to live.
Tracing her face with his finger, Wilson has to smile. Amber never suffered fools lightly. This week, she’d have given House a run for his money. No telling how many grieving relatives she could’ve offended in just as short a span of time.
Damn, something hurts. Idiot that he is, he’s cut his finger. Instinctively, he sucks the blood out. He knows better—the human mouth is a filthy place, hosting over five hundred forms of bacteria, but he’s done it since he was a kid, and he needs all the comfort he can get.
Wilson gets a look at himself in the bathroom mirror, as he holds his bleeding finger under running water. His grandma always said little Jimmy was easy on the eyes, but that’s not so true any more. It’s almost a relief to screw with everyone else’s expectations. But as he reaches for the antibacterial soap, the hellish funeral dirge, forgotten for a moment, starts playing again. It’s the most depressing thing that Wilson’s ever heard, which is totally appropriate for a funeral, but Kutner would have hated it. Then again, Wilson never knew Kutner very well.
Back in the living room, Wilson slumps into his favorite chair and picks up the broken picture of Amber, careful not to cut himself this time. It’s his favorite picture of her. She’d been laughing at him for fiddling so much with the lighting before he took it, and she’s gorgeous and funny and bitchy, and he loves her so much, losing her makes him angry all over again. He measures their time in weeks and months, and Kutner threw it all away.
Wilson knows he’s being a bastard about this. It’s just that everyone keeps saying the same thing. “He must have been suffering so much. He must have felt so alone.”
Nobody is calling this what it is. Even House is backing away from the truth this time, looking for answers, calling it murder and all that crap. But Wilson knows selfishness when he sees it. He saw Kutner’s parents at the funeral and knows what this kind of pain is like. It’s not something you get over, and he can’t imagine intentionally putting someone through it. His training as an oncologist has taught him everything about the ravages of depression, but he can’t see doing this to someone that you love.
Wilson’s grief is all about the unquiet dead who sing to him at night. But now with Kutner’s damn funeral march stuck in his head, he wonders if it’s possible to exorcise music. He is just so tired of singing along.
That’s when he thinks about Amber’s song, the one House composed for her after she died. The one that he’d have never known about if he hadn’t arrived early to pick up House for bowling. It had already been months since she'd died, but Wilson heard House playing and he just knew. It was everything he loved about both of them, provocative and funny and terrifying, and it left him bereft and comforted all over again. He’d waited outside the door until House was done playing and hadn’t said a word about it. But he knew…he just knew who it was written for.
It took a couple weeks of snooping around, but he finally found the sheet music, titled “Volakis” and dated a week after she died. Wilson never asked and House never offered to play it.
But he’d give anything to hear it again.
House opens the door and glares, but then he gives Wilson a suspicious look-over.
“What happened to your finger?”
“Cut it. Cut my foot too. I want you to play the song.”
House looks like crap, but this gets his attention. “What song?”
“The song you wrote…the one you composed for Amber.”
“You’re not thinking about starting a copycat suicide cluster, are you? If so, you should probably go for your wrists instead.” House isn’t letting him in, but he’s not shutting the door either. “First year medical school teaches that there aren’t major arteries in fingers.”
“House, will you open the door and play Amber’s damn song for me? I need… I’ve got Kutner’s funeral music stuck in my head, and I need something to get it out.”
House arches an eyebrow, but he studies Wilson, the same way he always does. Wilson forces himself to stand up under it, no matter how tired he is.
“It doesn’t do any good, Jimmy. The dead stay dead, no matter how much you romanticize them.”
Wilson smiles a little. “But it doesn’t hurt either.”
House opens the door all the way. “Scotch is over the stove. Pour me one while you’re at it.”
By the time Wilson comes back with the drinks, House is waiting at the piano, fingers resting on the keys. When he begins to play, it’s just like Wilson remembers, only better this time, and the misery of the day begins to fade away.
There isn’t any sheet music out, and House has his eyes closed, but there’s no hesitation in the way he plays. Wilson sits on the bench beside him and closes his own eyes. This, they can share together. This song, they both know by heart.