This little fic is based off a prompt from my girl suzmum: It's a companion piece to my fic The Whim. What if, this time, Cuddy was the one who proposed to House?- atd
House and Cuddy were lying in bed, still slightly out-of-breath and giddy from great sex, and House had that proud look on his face—the one he got when he knew he had really gotten her off—and Cuddy thought to herself: This has been a nearly perfect night.
It had started with dinner with the Bakers—a night out with Cuddy's friends was always a recipe for potential disaster, but House had been on his best behavior tonight. He was witty and charming and at one point, Betsy Baker raised her eyebrows at Cuddy as if to say, "Well done, girl." (There had been previous disasters: The night with the Maloneys when House looked around the table and said, of Ben Maloney: "Am I the only one at this table who knows this guy's gay?" And the night out with the Shapiros when House had laughed at Dawn Shapiro's take on Middle Eastern politics and told her that she probably thought "Mahmoud Abbas was the band that sang Mamma Mia.") So yes, House was intentionally on his best behavior tonight—he'd been warned, in advance, by Cuddy, of course—but it was working. She was relaxed, enjoying herself, and she could tell he was too.
At one point during dinner, Cuddy looked down at her phone: "Hospital emergency," she apologized. "I need to borrow this guy for a second."
House had followed her, dutifully, into the restaurant corridor, where she had leaned against a wall and wrapped her right leg around him and began kissing him.
"Hi," she whispered in his ear.
"Why hello there," he said, with a surprised grin, kissing her back.
"You are such a turn-on to me when you're behaving," she said, shoving her tongue in his mouth.
"Oh, but I'm so much better when I misbehave," he had said, riding his hands up her skirt, biting her neck, and kissing her cleavage.
"Easy tiger," she said, slipping out from under him. "Let's try to make it through dinner first."
"As long as I know what's for dessert," he said, merrily.
Once they got home, clothing was rapidly shed and furniture knocked into as they made their way to the bedroom, and that's when Rachel appeared—rubbing her eyes and smiling up at them beatifically.
"I heard banging," she said.
House had his hand all the way up Cuddy's skirt at this point and he dropped it, hastily.
"You ain't heard nothing yet, kiddo," he cracked.
Cuddy swatted him.
"House and I just got home from our date," she said, buttoning her blouse and smoothing her skirt. "Did you have fun with Becca tonight?'
"Yes! We drew unicorns but her horn looked like a piece of poo on his head!"
Rachel burst into a fit of giggles at the mere thought of this poo-headed creature.
"And now it's time to go back to bed," Cuddy said.
"But I'm not sleepy!"
"You just think you're not sleepy," Cuddy said. "The minute your head hits the pillow again you'll fall right back asleep." Then, taking Rachel's hand, she said to House: "I got this."
"Let me," House said, raising his eyebrows. "You can…slip into something more comfortable, if you know what I mean."
"You are nothing if not predictable," she chuckled.
He took Rachel's hand and bent toward her.
"So it was a unicorn with poo, huh? A poo-nicorn?"
And Cuddy heard Rachel giggling some more as House led her to her bedroom.
The sex House and Cuddy had later was the best kind: Delay of gratification sex; we've-been-thinking-about-this-all night sex; and Cuddy marveled over the fact that, more than one year into their relationship, she still desired him so much. Also, no man had ever made her feel so desirable. ("The things you do to me, woman," he had groaned, into her ear.) That, of course, was part of the turn on.
So now, as she regained her breath, she pressed her face against the pillow, and turned to look at him.
"You make me so happy," she said, tracing his jaw with her finger.
"I aim to please, ma'am," he said, nuzzling her a bit.
"I'm serious. This past year has been, well, the best year of my life."
"Mine too," he said, kissing her.
"I love you so much," she said.
"I love you more," he said, kissing her a bit more hungrily.
"So let's make it official and get married," she said.
He had started fondling her in such a way that suggested he was up for another round, but now he stopped and pulled away abruptly.
"Very funny," he said.
"I'm being serious."
"Why?" She already felt her face beginning to get hot. "Because we're in love. Because we've been together for over a year. That's what people who are in love and living together do."
"Other people!" he said, in an agitated sort of way. "Regular, boring people! Not us. Common is common, right? You said so yourself."
Cuddy sat up. The muscles in her neck were tensing.
"Are you honestly saying you don't want to marry me?"
House now sat up, too. The blissed out mood between them was completely broken. There was an edgy tension in the room.
"I'm saying I don't want to get married to anyone!" he said. "Whatever gave you the impression that I wanted to get married?"
Cuddy felt herself beginning to cry. She hadn't planned on proposing—it had been a spontaneous gesture, born out of feeling so utterly happy—but she expected House to be pleased, elated even. This reaction completely blindsided her.
"Excuse me," she said, getting up from the bed.
She went into the bathroom, closed the door, and allowed herself to cry, her tears muffled by a towel.
House knocked on the door.
"Cuddy?" he said.
"Just give me a minute," she sniffed.
"I'm sorry. I had no idea you wanted to get married."
She dabbed her eyes.
"I had no idea you didn't!"
"It's just that marriage is this completely archaic institution created to bind a man to a woman—financially at least—in perpetuity. For one thing, you don't need my money. And for another, we don't need a piece of paper to prove that I'm bound to you forever. I'm not going anywhere."
Cuddy was silent.
He leaned his head against the door.
"Still breathing in there?" he said, gently.
"Yes," Cuddy said, flushing the toilet, although she wasn't fooling anyone. "I'll be out in a second."
"If I was ever going to get married, it would most definitely be to you," he said, hoping it was a romantic thing to say.
She emerged from the bathroom, shot him a dirty look, and climbed back into bed.
He followed, immediately put his arms around her. She squirmed away.
"I'm tired," she said. "I just want to go to sleep."
In the morning, he ambled into the kitchen, still in his pajamas. Cuddy was sitting at the table, fully dressed, her briefcase on the table in front of her, gulping down some coffee and wheat toast. House could hear the nanny playing with Rachel in her room.
"Good morning, sunshine!" he said, cheerily.
(The cheerfulness was a bit of a front. He was hoping that last night's "proposal" was the result of good vibes and good sex and that both her desire to get married and her anger at him, were temporary states.)
"There's coffee left," she said, standing up, a piece of toast still dangling from her mouth.
"Thanks," he said, eyeing her.
"I gotta run."
She took one last gulp of coffee, slammed the mug on the table, grabbed her briefcase, and headed for the door.
It was all House could do not to be the kind of pathetic loser who whined, "What, no kiss?" when his girlfriend left for work without kissing him. Instead, he said: "I'll clean up." But she probably hadn't even heard him because she was already halfway out the door.
"Fuck," he said, under his breath.
He grabbed a piece of the leftover toast and popped it in his mouth, then frowned. How could she eat this cardboard? He poured himself a mug of coffee, sat down and put his head in his hands.
He needed to think.
Several hours later, he found her alone in her office.
When she saw him, she pursed her lips.
"I'm busy," she said.
"I'm an idiot," he said.
She looked up, softening a bit.
"No arguments here," she said.
"I don't know what I was thinking," he said.
He sat down, looked at her earnestly.
"Why didn't you tell me you were pregnant?"
She stared at him, aghast, which he mistook as his cue to say more:
"If it's that important to you that the kid not be born out of wedlock, or what have you, of course we can get married. A justice of the peace thing. Just to make it official. But even if we're not married, it'll be my kid…forev…."
"I'm not pregnant!" she spat out.
He blinked at her. His mouth formed a little o.
"You're not?" (When he figured out that she was pregnant, it seemed like such a eureka moment, he hadn't for a second doubted it.)
"Of course not, you moron. Why would you think I was pregnant?"
"Because of last night's…proposition. I mean, it just came out of the blue so I assumed that you..."
"House, I'm not pregnant. I just wanted to marry you. Wanted, past tense. Now get out of my office so I can get some work done."
He sat there, frozen in his seat.
"Don't you think we should talk about this some more?"
"Out! Now!" she said, pointing to the door.
House got up reluctantly.
"We'll talk more tonight," he said, nervously. "After work."
She looked down at her paperwork, ignoring him.
But when he got home that night, the house was empty.
There was a note on the dining room table. He read it, then sat down, picked up his phone:
"Wilson. Get over here. Immediately."
Wilson read the note out loud:
Just needed a few days to lick my wounds. I took Rachel. Don't try to find us. We'll be back on Monday. This is not me leaving you. This is just me taking a little break.
Wilson sighed, handed the note back to him.
"So?" House said.
"What does it mean?"
"It means she's mad at you and doing the adult thing and cooling off. What did you do?"
House poured himself a glass of bourbon, then raised the bottle toward Wilson to see if he wanted any.
"I'm good," Wilson said. "What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything. We had this amazing night last night—nice dinner, toe-curling sex."
Wilson held up hand: "I don't need to know…"
"And then, out of thin air, she proposed to me."
Wilson's jaw dropped.
"Cuddy proposed? To you?"
"I know, right? "
"And you said no?"
"Of course I said no. Do I seem like the marrying type to you? All I ever do is make fun of you for getting roped into being married so many times."
"But you love her," Wilson said.
"Of course I love her. What's love got to do with it?"
"She wants to marry you."
"And I'm supposed to do everything Cuddy asks me to do?"
"Basically, yes. . ."
House scratched his head and took a gulp of his bourbon. Then he looked back over the letter.
"See how she signed it? 'C.' She couldn't even be bothered to use her whole name. And not 'love, C' or even 'xo, C' just 'C.'"
"It is her initial," Wilson offered.
"And what about this 'Don't try to find me' bullshit? Is that a threat? Is that a 'find me and we're through?'"
"I think it means, don't try to find her," Wilson said.
"Then there's this whole 'This is not me leaving you' part? Why would she even say that? Why even go there?"
"I think she's trying to be reassuring."
"It's not Wilson. It's not reassuring."
"I have a solution," Wilson said.
"Believe it or not, I was hoping you were going to say that."
House rolled his eyes.
"First of all, I told you. I'm not the marrying kind. Second of all, it's too late now. She told me doesn't want to marry me anymore."
"Of course she does. She said so herself, she's just off licking her wounds."
"I just don't get what the big deal about marriage is. She knows I love her. She knows I'd go to the moon and back for her—or whatever romantic metaphor women like to use. Why does she need a piece of paper to confirm that?"
"I don't know House, but apparently she does. So the next question is: What are you going to do about it?"
It wasn't that hard to figure out where she was. He basically had two options, both unpleasant: Julia's or Arlene's.
He gave her 24 hours. Twenty four hours alone in that house, driving himself crazy, re-reading that damn note 500 times, that was more than enough. When she didn't call, he got in his car and rode to Julia's.
He banged on the door, loudly.
Julia answered, looking annoyed.
"Of course," she said.
"I need to see her," he said.
"She's not here," Julia said.
House set his jaw a bit.
"Her car's in the fucking driveway, Julia."
"Okay, she's here, but she doesn't want to see you."
"I just need five minutes of her time."
"Are you so emotionally stunted that you can't let her be for one weekend?"
"Julia, you don't know a thing about this."
"No, I don't, you're right. I know you two had a fight. I know she said she was mad at you but it wasn't really your fault and she wanted to stay here until she cooled off. That seems like the mature thing to do, so I'm sure it's completely bewildering to you."
"Then ask her if she's cooled off yet," House said, hopefully.
Julia bellowed into the house, "Are you cooled off yet?"
"No!" Cuddy said back.
Upon hearing her voice, House grew more agitated: "Cuddy!" he yelled.
"Tell him to go away," Cuddy said quietly (but loud enough for House to hear.)
"She wants you to go away," Julia said.
"I heard her." Then, poking his head through the door, "Cuddy please!"
"Stop yelling," Julia said. "What are you, Stanley Kowalski? We have sleeping children in the house!"
House grit his teeth and sighed heavily.
"Tell her I'm going to go sit in my car. I'm not leaving until she comes out to talk to me."
"I hope you have heat in your car. Because you're going to be out there a long time," Julia said.
"Just tell her," House said.
And he limped back to his car.
Cuddy was sitting on the couch, in skinny jeans and a gauzy white sweater, her legs folded under her.
"What did he say?" she said, when Julia came back in the room.
"Stubborn fool. He says he's not leaving until you talk to him. He's waiting in the car."
Cuddy rolled her eyes, grabbed her coat.
"You're going? Just let him stew out there for a bit. He'll leave eventually."
"Oh Jules, you obviously don't know House. He's not going anywhere. He'll sit in that car until he runs out of gas and dies of frostbite. I may as well get this over with."
She stepped outside.
House looked genuinely relieved to see her.
He pressed the button to unlock the door.
"You didn't say a word and you just left," he said, poutily, once she sat down.
"I left a note."
"I've been going crazy. Was that your plan? To drive me completely crazy? Because it's working."
"I had no plan. I just didn't want to see for a few days. My feeling are hurt, okay?"
"But why?" he said. "I couldn't love you anymore than I do. You show me 100 husbands and I'll show you a hundred guys who love their wives less than I love you."
"Then why not marry me?" she said, trying not to sound as hurt as she felt.
"You know why," he said. "I'm a nonconformist. A rebel. I don't do things like everyone else. That's part of what you like about me!"
"So you're too cool to get married?" There was a slight edge to her voice.
"I never said that," he mumbled.
House looked down at his hands, which were uselessly gripping the steering wheel.
"Everything's great between us," he muttered. "Better than great. Perfect. Why would we mess with that?"
Cuddy looked at him. And suddenly she had her eureka moment.
"You don't hate the institution of marriage," she said, as the thought formed in her head. "You're afraid to get married because things will change."
House looked at his hands. Said nothing.
"I'm talking to the man who wanted the same carpet in his office, after he got shot," she said. "You fear change. You think things will be different between us."
Finally, he looked at her, his eyes wide and vulnerable: "Won't they be?" he said softly.
"I don't know, House. Maybe yes. Maybe no. Maybe they'll change for the better."
"But what if they change for the worse? There are different expectations on a husband than a boyfriend. You might suddenly find me. . . lacking."
"House, I already find you lacking."
She smiled. "But you compensate, in a big way, by also being so wonderful."
"Oh," he said, sheepishly.
"I don't want to be with any man besides you," she said, taking his hand. "I want to walk down the aisle and tell the world: This is my guy. I choose him. And he chooses me."
"But why is that so important to you? Why mess with a good thing?"
"Because I'm proud of you. Of us. Aren't you?"
"Of course I am," he said.
"And I always dreamed of marrying the man I love. Is that so outrageous?"
"No," he said.
"Then let's do it," she said, encouragingly. "Let's get married."
He looked at her. Closed his eyes for a long second, thinking it over.
"Okay," he said finally. Then he nodded, as though giving himself a little internal pep talk. "Okay, let's do this thing."
"I'm so happy!" she said, leaping on him girlishly.
And they began to kiss—ardently, possessively—like it had been 24 days, not 24 hours since they'd last seen each other.
When they parted, House said: "You gotta promise me things won't change too much."
"I can't promise that," she said. "But I promise that if they do, we'll get through it together."
They walked back up the path to Julia's house.
The door was locked.
"Hey! Open up!" Cuddy shouted, giddily. "You locked us out!"
When Julia opened the door, she took them in: Arms wrapped around each other, both their lips smeared with lipstick, laughing breathlessly—positively drunk off each other's love.
"Oh, great," she muttered.
"Break out the bubbly, sis!" Cuddy said.
"Let me guess: You've cooled off. You're moving back in with him?"
"Better," House said, triumphantly. "We're getting married!"
Julia's mouth dropped open.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me."
"It's true!" Cuddy sang.
"Then where's the ring?"
"The ring…the ring…" House said, patting himself down mirthfully. "I must've left it in my other coat."
"Either that or in your other department store jewelry case," Cuddy snorted.
"Or that," House said, kissing the top of her head.
"I don't get it," Julia said, squinting at them. "Half an hour ago you were barely talking to him."
"Because he didn't want to get married."
"And now he does?"
"Yup," House said. "Most definitely."
"Most definitely," Cuddy echoed.
"Okay," Julia said wearily. "I'll see if I have any champagne in the wine cellar. I must say, you guys always do things in a most . . . unique way."
House and Cuddy exchanged a look:
"Common is common," they said in unison.