The Softer Side

By stepd81

Romance

Chapter 1

Dr. Gregory House could hear her playing the piano as he approached his door. ‘Elizabeth.’ He was early today; she only played when nobody was around. He stopped and listened, letting the haunting notes carry him away. He could imagine her sitting there, though he’d never seen her play. The picture in his mind was crystal clear. She’d be sitting there with the perfect posture, back straight, shoulders squared, but relaxed, fingers floating over the keys, caressing them, a lover’s touch. Her long dark hair would be pulled back in a loose ponytail to keep it out of her face, eyes closed, face peaceful, ivory skin glowing in the dimly lit room. She kept most of the lights off until he got home. He understood about that; it’s easier to hide in the dark.

The music stopped suddenly, and he could hear the beeping of the oven timer. ‘Dinner’s ready.’ He shook his head to bring himself into the present. As he opened the door, he was greeted with the aroma of chicken enchiladas wafting in from the kitchen. He closed the door with a smile; he loved her cooking.

“Greg?” She called, walking into the room. “You’re home early.” She gave him a small smile as she turned on the lamp, bathing the room in its soft glow.

“Just a few minutes; I couldn’t take any more of that clinic.” He answered and walked the rest of the way into the house, and followed her to the table.

She nodded sympathetically. “Well, you’re just in time actually, dinner just finished.”

“Yeah. It smells delicious.” He told her as he sat at the table.

She set their plates on the table and took her seat. “So, how was your day?”

“No bad. Got a new case, looks like an interesting one.” He answered, then took a bite. “Mmm. These may be your best yet.”

She chuckled. “This is only the second time I’ve made them.”

“Yeah…thus the best yet comment.” He replied sarcastically.

“Hmm. Sarcasm, that’s a new response.” She joked, her sarcasm as obvious as his.

He laughed. He laughed? He knew if his team could see him at home, with Elizabeth, they probably wouldn’t even recognize him. When he was with her, the bitterness and cynicism that were such a part of him just seemed to melt away a little. With her, he was open and honest, soft and compassionate. It was only when he left her, when he had to face the cold, cruel world on his own, that his defenses closed in around him like thick, unscalable walls. Although he had noticed himself softening even at work over the last month since first meeting her. His team hadn’t commented, but he had no doubt that they had noticed. He chuckled quietly.

Swallowing a bite, she broke the comfortable silence they so easily settled into. “Penny for your thoughts?”

He just shook his head and gave a half-shrug. “Nothing really, just thinking how soft I’ve become recently.”

She nodded with a sly smile. “Yeah. Well, if it would make you feel any better, I could help make you hard again.” She leveled her gaze on him, one eyebrow raised, dark blue eyes twinkling with mischief.

He groaned at the double entendre. “Tease.” He muttered.

She chuckled. The comfortable silence settled back over them as they finished their dinner.

After they ate, he moved to the living room to watch T.V. while she cleaned up, then joined him. After a couple of hours of T.V., he moved to the piano. She poured him a glass of scotch, then turned off the lamp before retaking her seat on the couch. It was their routine, and they went through the motions like it was an old, familiar dance. He played for a while, finally turning his head to watch her.

She was sitting on the couch, one leg folded under her, the other knee bent so she could rest her head on it. Her eyes were closed, and her face was bathed in moonlight. She looked innocent, angelic. She opened her eyes, and those drowning, dark blue pools met his bright, piercing gaze. She smiled shyly and rose from the couch.

“I’m sorry, listening to you play always relaxes me.” She kissed his forehead softly. “Goodnight, Greg.”

He smiled. “Goodnight, Elizabeth.” He watched her walk down the hall to her room, then began playing again, a little softer so he didn’t disturb her sleep. He shook his head at himself. “You’ve got it bad, man.” He whispered to the empty room.

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