Disclaimer: I'm a lying liar who lies.
Author's Notes: The summary quote is from an untitled tanka by Angela Leuck. I wanted to try a different (some might say pretentious) writing style, more lyrical and more narrative than my usual. Tanka is ideal for that, and I decided to look for one that spoke to me about the characters and go from there. This is set post-Wilson's Heart and contains spoilers for Season 5. Also, present-tense is my Moriarty; please let me know how I did!
The summer he turns fifty she plants him a garden.
The house she bought to free herself from Chase, to root her life in Princeton, is a fairytale cottage in the midst of the city, stone devoured by ivy, crooked plaster walls and old wiring. She can feel the weight of history in the rooms covering her like a favorite quilt.
She plants at night, knows the neighbours think her strange; but it is always dusk or later before she escapes the hospital and the sphere of his influence (House is like dark matter, drawing the unwilling bodies near him into orbit, slowly circling closer and closer). The seedlings she bought in catalogues and nursed on her windowsills in cups of loamy dark earth all through the reluctant spring are ready to bloom at last; she tucks them into the flowerbeds one by one like precious secrets, waters them under the waxing moon.
Three years ago she would have told him, I'm planting a garden for you, I bought a house with room for your piano... He would have mocked her until she wanted to hate him, although love is not so easily killed. Now she has the hard-won patience of a hundred lonely nights, of sipping coffee in the blue hour before dawn in a bed meant for two. When she sees him, she only smiles, smug and secret, and says nothing.
Wilson left six months ago and House looks as though he's not slept since. She worries uselessly; even if she found the courage to express her concern he would reject it, as he rejects all intimations that he is anything other than fine, self-reliant, capable, perfectly okay, happy being miserable.
She sees now, too late, what an admission it was for him to say, I'm damaged, how great the trust even as he was using his honesty to push her away. She feels their entire relationship has been composed of not enough and too late.
She plants the thistles in the back of the bed, an honour guard of silvery-green to watch over the other plants. She wears no gloves and the spears prick her hands but the pain is fleeting and a welcome distraction from her thoughts. One of the plants is almost ready to bloom, to reach out with feathery purple petals, and she is careful with the fragile bud. Wickedly sharp and delicate, fierce and beautiful, a weed to some and an emblem to others. She wouldn't be any kind of Scot without thistles in her flowerbed, but that is not her reason.
She plants them for him.
She wakes in the pearly-half light of a rainy dawn, her dream clinging to her like cobwebs. Before she opens her eyes she can still feel him there; the sharp press of his hipbones and the hot hard length of his cock inside her, one hand tangled in her hair, a sense memory of something that's never happened. She's on edge just from the thought and makes the mistake of opening her eyes, somehow expecting the impossible, to see his piercing blue gaze as he moves above her.
The feel of him vanishes, quick as a wish. She slams her eyes shut, locks her ankles together and comes without touching herself, body tense as a violin string longing for the expert touch of the bow.
She once believed that only action could accomplish anything in life. She once believed in a lot of things. But now
-they also serve who only sit and wait-
she hopes that patience will bring her what action could not. Him. In the past she was less careful, but she was also less sure...not of what she really wanted (because she has always only wanted him), but of what she could really have. Now she is sure that if she can't have him she doesn't want a substitute.
He corners her in the empty ER at 3 a.m. to satisfy his curiousity. "You left Chase."
"Still pining for me?" he mocks her, clearly expecting her anger instead of her candor.
"Yes." She doesn't meet his eyes, but sees him freeze beside her. "I decided it wasn't fair to stay with Chase when I'm in love with you." She can feel his discomfort build like thunderheads amassing on a distant horizon, and heads it off. "I'm not asking you for anything." Except forever. "It's just the truth, and I thought you should know."
"Why?" he barks.
She lifts one shoulder, pretends unconcern when she feels anything but. "If nothing else, it's always nice to know that someone loves you."
And for once, he has nothing to say. She savors the victory of that as she walks out to her car.
She is in the garden when he pulls up. He lets the engine idle for a moment, as though to ensure she knows he's there, but she does, of course she does. The landscaping lights illuminate her hands as she tugs weeds from the bed and leave the rest of her in shadow. He joins her on the lawn but doesn't say a word.
"You've got thistles in your bed," he observes at last.
"I know. I planted them there."
"Why?" Before his demand was a sharp bark; now he sounds tired.
"I like thistles."
"They're weeds, they're worthless."
"It depends on how you look at it." She glances up at him; his face is shadowed but his eyes gleam. "Would you like to come in?"
The spring before he turns fifty-one, she plants him a garden.
She's on maternity leave, and she plants in the early morning, when the dew is fresh.
So that's it...my first-ever House fic! Please tell me what you think!