Love is lonely. Let's face it, Stacy thought to herself, there's no other way to preface the idea. She'd long ago given up hope of being demure and detached, of being aloof from the situation entirely. She'd claimed time and time again that there was nothing to be said, that she was being blasphemed by her nosy coworkers, but the fact remained that it was love, and it was lonely. What's more, the CD player had run out of batteries.
David Gray mournfully wound down into a slow, base monotone as the last vestiges of life left the machine. Stacy glared at it. It sputtered to a halt and stopped emitting music altogether. Like Medusa, she thought.
This morning she had looked like Medusa, as Mark had so eloquently put it, with tendrils of her usually kempt hair wisping out in all directions, creating a snakelike coronet. She'd spent hours tearing through them with a comb, watching stray unlucky hairs falling to the ground as the comb tore them unceremoniously from her head. Glamorous, she'd thought. Now all she had to show for it was a headache, and less hair.
Every day when she was younger, her mother had picked through her own hair looking for stray gray hairs to pluck out to make way for the highly colorized crop that she had sported until at least age eighty. Stacy found herself searching for them herself, young enough though she was. Doctor Gregory House was impending worry on one good leg. She'd be lucky to get out of this one grey-hair free.
Mark stepped through the half-open bedroom door without knocking. "You look fine," he said, glancing down at her disgruntled face in the mirror. "Throw something on, we're going out to dinner tonight."
Stacy blinked at him. "Tonight? I have a dinner date."
His eyes snapped down to meet hers. "A date? With whom?"
Stacy sighed. "With Lisa, thank you, Mark, just to catch up. Why didn't you tell me you wanted to go out to dinner?"
"She can't catch up in a full day at the hospital?" Mark asked skeptically, throwing his shirt in the general direction of the laundry bin, and missing. He pulled another out of the closet, and tossed one arm through the sleeve. "It's not like they don't see enough of you at that damn place. Not like I don't."
"Jesus, Mark, don't play the guilt game." Stacy stood up, and slipped his other arm through the other sleeve of his shirt, careful not to twist him. "You didn't say anything. I'm entitled to go out and have a girls' night now and again." She smiled, giving him a peck on the forehead. "Go out with some friends, have a good time."
"Yeah?" Mark muttered, "Like who?"
Stacy shrugged. "You could call Jack, or Ben, or Chris...there's a game on tonight, you could just stay in and get potato chip grease all over my couch, if you really want." She waited for a response, but didn't receive one. Mark stared balefully over her head at the blank television screen. With a sigh, Stacy slipped into her heels, and picked up Mark's abandoned shirt as she went for the door.
"I'll be back by eleven," she said. "There's fish in the freezer. I love you."
Stacy arrived at Lisa Cuddy's table at "Mariano's Italian," looking even more windswept than she already had.
"You've got this Medusa thing going on with your hair," Cuddy remarked as Stacy sat down with an apologetic look. "It's good, I like it. They'll be wearing it in Hollywood in months."
Stacy rolled her eyes. "Thanks for the thought." Cuddy slid a menu to her over the table, but didn't open her own, watching as Stacy perused the options with one finger running down the list of choices.
"So how've you been?" She asked. "You look great, you're finally moved in, how's it going?"
Stacy grimaced. She knew exactly what the underlying question was. "I'm just fine," she said, as matter-of-factly as she could muster. Emphasizing the "we," she added "We're really doing just fine."
"Good, good," Cuddy nodded, opening and glancing through her own menu. "I have to say, I'm ridiculously grateful for you staying on with us. It's a pain of a job, I know it better than most, I really do, and especially with Greg being such a pain himself!"
"Isn't he though," Stacy added. "The chicken looks really good. How's the chicken?"
"He really appreciates you, though," Cuddy continued. "You're the first person who's stayed on long enough to actually help him make some lasting wins. I think without you we'd have had to give him up long ago. God only knows his practice is anything but legal, and you've seen how brilliantly good I am at keeping the man in line."
"How," asked Stacy pointedly, "Is the chicken, Lisa?"
"Mmm?" Cuddy shrugged. "I don't know, I've never had it."
Authors Note: More when I don't have a headache. I promise. But seriously. This headache is monster. Wow. Leave comments! Good, bad, or ugly, I'm a writer, I can take it, I'm a big girl. ;)