(disclaimers et all in first chapter)


Chapter Four

He limped towards the reception desk, eyes trained on her form. "You vibrated me?" He asked with sickly sweetness, waving his pager in the air. His brow furrowed slightly, "you're dressed."

Her mouth fell open, and anger flashed behind her eyes.

"To go, I mean," he corrected himself, though an ambiguous smile did form as he fingered the material of her jacket.

She averted her gaze, batting his hand away and trying to collect her bearings. She could still feel the pressure of his hand against her tummy; that nightmarish fantasy from the day before. When morn had arisen and James had left, she had been too scared to even look at herself in the mirror - afraid to see some invisible mark still present on her skin. Her shower had been done with closed eyes and with efficient rapidity, a race against time to wash away any evidence. "You have a patient waiting for you in exam three," she held out a folder.

"It's ten to; if you get to duck out early, I'm leaving early." He took the folder, and smacked it on the counter, drawing the attention of a few nurses and patients awaiting to be seen.

Lisa glanced at the nurses and then back at Greg. "It's ten to five, and you still have time to see another patient." She picked up the folder and held it out again. "He's complaining of chest pains."

"Maybe he has a broken heart," Greg cried out melodramatically, placing a hand to his chest. "Oh, hey, isn't that your department? Maybe you'd be better for the job, Dr. Cuddy."

Tears burned behind her eyes but pride refused to let them fall. Though not seen, she knew he sensed her sadness - she had seen, reflected in his eyes, moment's realization of limits traversed. Dropping the file on the floor, she turned away from her conflicting emotions, her only defense being her retreat.

"Foot in mouth syndrome?"

Greg glanced to his left, feeling his best-friend's hand give him a pat on the shoulder. "Don't you know it," he mumbled, eyeing the oncologist's departure with a mixture of suspicion and jealousy. He limped to the door, following both hasty exits and watched them through the glass.

James walked out, breaking into a light jog. He stopped a few feet away, observing her carefully. "You okay?"

"He's such a jackass!" She exclaimed, pounding her fist on the hood of her car. "Does he get off on being cruel?"

He sighed, thrusting his hands into his jacket pockets. "Knowing House, malice is probably an aphrodisiac." He closed the distance between them, standing in front of her. "Look, you know he can be an asshole, I know he can be an asshole - anyone who has met him realizes that. But he's one of the good kind of assholes," James reasoned, unsure as to the point of his logic.

"He's still an asshole," Lisa exhaled, suddenly feeling exhausted.

"Exactly, so why let it get to you now?"

"Because I'm tired, Jimmy. I'm tired of always being his target. Eventually," she continued, shaking her head with a tired laugh. "Eventually it wears you down, it breaks down your defenses and actually...hurts."

His eyes softened upon hearing the sincerity in her voice, and he gave her a small nod. "Care for him, love him even...but don't let him get to you."

She took a step forward giving him a hug, face pressed against his chest, breathing in his scent through is jacket. She opened her car door, glancing at him over her shoulder. "If you get lonely..." she left the thought hanging. Keying the engine, she rolled down her window. "Oh and bring booze." She called out, before driving off.

James stood there, hands on hips, smiling before heading off to his own vehicle.

Greg watched them both, bright blues following his best-friends' cars as they pulled out of the parking lot. He didn't bother turning around when he heard a gruff voice call out his name.

"Dr. House? I'm Mike Leary. I've got these pains in my chest and I don't know why. So what do I do? What should I take?"

He turned around, eyeing the obese man who stood a little too close for comfort. Taking out his wallet, he pulled out two business cards, slapping them into Mike's chubby hand before walking off towards his office. "Your choice," he called, over his shoulder.

Mike glanced at the cards, sticky fingers spreading glaze over them. "I...don't get it..."

"Look," Greg turned around, misplaced anger bubbling. "Either you make a conscious choice now, of which I suggest the first card, or your body makes it for you and then, I suggest you call the latter ASAP." He grunted, walking away.

Mike glanced down, licking his thumb, lips sucking remnants of honey glaze from the doughnut he had roughly shoved in his mouth while seated in the waiting room. "So the first one, then?" He called after the retreating doctor, waving the business card in the air. He read the card, brow furrowed. "Jim's Gym." Shaking his head, he let out a raucous laugh. "A gym!" His eyes then fell upon the second card, thumb tracing the embossed picture of a casket, underneath the italicized 'Lotti Funeral Home'. He shuddered slightly and pocketed the first card, tossing the second into the trash.


He returned to his office, sitting down heavily in his chair. What exactly was his intent concerning Lisa. Did he just want a good time with her or was there actually a relationship in the making, a desire so secret that he himself wasn't even aware. Maybe he was just being territorial. He shook his head and gathered his backpack, slinging it over his left shoulder as he made his way to the elevators.

The sun was just setting as he stepped out the hospital, offering a crisp picture of the expanse of a cloudless-sky up above. Despite the brilliance in colour, the air grew colder without the fluffy blankets suspended in the Heavens. He focused on watching his breath materialize in front of him and then vanish with invisible currents of air, consequence of his own movements and those all around him.

For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. He sighed. Newton wasn't just theorizing on the laws of physics, but those of the psyche too.

–tbc–