Disclaimer: I don't own 'em. Don't get your panties all in a bunch about borrowing the characters and messing around with them either. I'll put them back when I'm done. Honest.
Title: Warm and Fuzzy
Feedback: Sure! Love to hear your thoughts.
Chapter Summary: House saves yet another life, but this one's much smaller than all the rest…
Chapter One: Gimme, Gimme Shelter
Step-thump, step-thump, step-thump.
It was about eleven o'clock on a cold night, and Doctor Gregory House was making his way from his shiny, red Corvette to his apartment building after another late shift at the hospital, his breath coming out in white puffs of mist. He was tired, grouchy, and ready to snap. His leg hurt like hell from the cold, and all he wanted was his vicodin and his scotch, his means of forgettingthe events of the day; the patient that lied to him, almost costing his own life, the energy it took to get the truth... He wanted to play his piano. He wanted to…
House sighed wearily when he finally reached his door and scrubbed a hand over his whiskery face before he jammed his key into the lock.
That's when he heard it.
He paused for a moment, thinking that maybe it was just the sound of a floorboard creaking somewhere close by or maybe someone's protesting brakes, but…There it was again.
He turned around, pulling his key with him while listening for the sound again so as to pinpoint where it was coming from.
It was a pitiful sound, not too strong, and very high-pitched for a normal cat. More like a squeak.
Off to the left, in the bushes. House limped over to the sidewalk and scanned the area, looking for any sign of movement in the darkness.
There! Behind the second bush. For most certainly not the first time and also just as certainly not the last, he cursed his bum leg as he made his way on to the soft bark dust-covered ground towards the noise. He parted the leaves and stared.
There lay a kitten, no bigger than his hand, crawling around in the wood chips, crying its little fuzzy head off. House looked around for whoever might know where this little creature came from, but the street was empty. He heaved a great sigh; bending over really wasn't one of his strong points anymore, but he couldn't very well just leave the little furball out in the cold. Well, he could, but even he wasn't that much of a bastard. It was October, for Christ's sake.
Besides, it was people he had a problem with. Animals he usually got on with just fine.
He winced as he adjusted his cane so he could bend over and scoop up the kitten. In the dark, he couldn't really tell what color it was, but what he could tell when he finally was able to lift it off the ground was that it was very young, far too young to be away from mommy. In the dim orange light of the street lamps, he was able to tell it still had gray-blue baby eyes and looked as though as its ears still weren't fully open.
He estimated it was about a couple weeks old. Maybe three at most.
The little tyke started nuzzling into the warmth of his hand, desperately searching for something to suckle on. He stroked its side with his thumb and brought it closer to his chest as he made his way back to the car.
Time to go buy an eyedropper and some kitten formula.
Luckily for him the local pet store was twenty-four hour.
"That'll be $35.95," the teenaged sales clerk with bright purple hair informed him and he swiped his credit card. Maybe there was some way he could get the hospital to pay for all of this…Maybe he could tell Cuddy that he was taking care of a patient by making "House calls." The thought made him smirk. She might just go for it. Then again…she knew him too well.
House had tucked the kitten into his inner jacket pocket. He told himself he did this just to keep the thing from peeing all over his leather interior of his car, and if it happened to keep the kitten warm at the same time, well, so be it.
That leather was expensive.
At the moment, however, the girl behind the checkout stand was eyeing him strangely.
"What?" He demanded, glaring at her. "Do I have something stuck in my teeth?" The clerk, unphased, pointed to his chest.
"Something's moving in your jacket," Purple said matter-of-factly. He looked down and his jacket was indeed moving around. The kitten was so light that he hadn't even noticed the squirming. Finally a squeaky mew! escaped and the clerk looked at him accusingly. House scowled at her and reached into his pocket, producing the black and white kitten. It was still mewling unhappily. "You know they're not supposed to be away from their moms until they are at least six weeks."
"Really?" He responded, feigning shock. "I thought you could take them away the moment they were born!" She frowned at him. "Gimme." He reached across the counter and grabbed the bag full of the kitten necessities he'd purchased before making a break for the sliding doors.
"You have to feed 'em every three to four hours!" Purple called after his retreating form. He didn't acknowledge her and pressed on until he got into the 'Vette.
Every three to four hours? He was almost positive that there was some sort of policy on animals not being allowed in the hospital, and he highly doubted Cuddy would go for the 'seeing-eye kitten' excuse. Maybe he could give it to someone.
Well, first things first. He pulled out the little animal blanket he'd bought from the paper bag and placed it on his lap. He placed the kitten on it and went to work preparing the kitten formula and filling the eyedropper with it. While he was doing this, the kitten crawled all over his lap, mewling pitifully every now and then and causing House to pet its tiny head with a finger soothingly.
He realized he was grateful that none of the doctors he worked closely with had any pets. That way there was absolutely no chance that they would be at a pet store to see him be remotely nice to anything.
He tried to get the fuzzball to take to the end of the eyedropper, but he just sniffed past it, uninterested. Undeterred, House tried again; same result.
"Come on, you have to eat," he said gruffly as he leaned back and blew out a breath, staring at the ceiling of his car. "You want to die, is that it? You make me come all the way out here to buy you a bunch of crap…" His words died off as the telltale sounds of suckling made their way to his ears over his tirade. He looked back down quickly, and the kitten was indeed drinking up the contents of the eyedropper. He squeezed his end of it to help the little guy (or gal) along, and the suckling continued.
"Greedy little bastard, aren't ya?" House said softly. Once the formula was all gone, he pulled the eyedropper away and put it back in the bag. The kitten once again mewed in protest. "Oh, cut the crap, will ya? I'll give you more in a little while. I don't want you to get sick in my car because you ate too much."
The kitten crawled around in his lap before settling down and curling up into a little ball of fluff. It purred the rest of the drive home.
House tried very hard not to notice how cute it was.
The next morning, House made his way up to his office cloak and dagger style. He effectively dodged Cuddy by slipping into a broom closet, and thankfully the kitten didn't make a sound as she walked by in her Prada heels. It was a good thing, too; she had the 'House is late for work' look on her face.
This look was very similar to the 'House is late for clinic duty' look, and could easily be confused with the former, but House knew them well enough to tell the difference.
He managed to get to the elevator, and, upon discovering that he was alone once inside, heaved a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived when the doors reopened and Doctor James Wilson stepped in, a cheery grin on his face.
"'Morning, Jimmy," House said with a smirk on his face. "Why, what puts you in such a good mood? What was her name again? Nurse Betty…?"
"Will you stop?" The grin instantly vanished and was replaced by a look of annoyance. "I'm not seeing any nurses…or anyone else for that matter!" He added quickly when he saw House open his mouth to retort.
"So…you're not seeing your wife, then?" His smirk grew bigger as his friend let out an exasperated puff.
The smirk disappeared.
Wilson stared at House.
"What did…what was that?" He noticed how House shifted his backpack uncomfortably; the movement in his shoulders as he did so subtle and barely noticeable to someone who didn't really know him, but to Wilson, it was sure sign of House being caught in the act of …something. There was a lengthy silence, and when House didn't respond, Wilson prompted, "Well?"
"Well what?" House put on his best confused face. Wilson didn't buy it for a second.
"That noise? What the hell was…"
"I have gas, okay? Sheesh, and you're supposed to be the one with all the bedside manner…" House huffed. The kitten was wriggling inside his coat, tickling him a little with its efforts.
"House…your coat…" House hung his head in resignation. The doors to the elevator opened and House walked out at a brisk pace.
"Are you coming? I haven't got all day, you know…I have Spacemonkeys to kill and General Hospital to watch…" Wilson caught up to him in a few quick strides and followed the diagnostician to his office.
The blinds were drawn and the room was quiet as Wilson stared open-mouthed at the little kitten now crawling around on the blanket House had smuggled into the hospital via his backpack.
"Where did you…How…?" Wilson finally managed when he found his voice, but apparently still hadn't reacquired the ability to form full sentences. Fortunately, House spoke Wilson-ese. Well, House might say unfortunately. House glared at him as he dug around in his bag for the formula and the eyedropper.
"If you're thinking that I went to the pet store and got myself a kitten because I needed a 'friend'," House punctuated his words with air quotation marks, "You can forget it; this thing found me."
"Isn't it a little…"
"Small? Young? Yes on both accounts. I already got the third degree from Miss Purple the pet store clerk. I don't need it from you." Wilson held up his hands defensively.
"I wasn't going…Miss Purple?"
There was the familiar swish of glass on carpet as Doctor Allison Cameron entered House's office; her pristine white labcoat trailing behind her elegantly as she moved to the pile of mail in House's inbox. She froze at the sight of Wilson and House both standing very close together and both not looking at her or each other.
"Um…Did I…interrupt something?" Cameron asked hesitantly. They were both acting like children caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. House's piercing gaze finally met hers when he heard the implication in her tone.
"Yes, Jimmy and I were talking about what we're going to do for our date next week," House replied caustically. "Weren't we, Jimmy?" He looked over to where Wilson stood, but the younger man was already bending over to scoop up the kitten. "Traitor." House muttered.
"House has found you all a new patient, Cameron," Wilson told her as he handed her the tiny furball.
"You're gonna sell me out to Cuddy, aren't you, you narc?" House asked accusingly.
"Nope, but she is going to find out eventually, so I suggest you figure out some excuses," Wilson informed him. "But I'm sure you've already thought of a few of those anyway. Have fun!" On that note, the oncologist left Cameron and House alone with the kitten.
The kitten was currently nestled against Cameron's chest purring loudly, and House couldn't help but be a little envious. Oh, to be cozied-up to Cameron's soft…
"Does he have a name?" Cameron's voice broke him out of his delightful reverie.
"Yes, at least I'm pretty sure it's a boy. I take it that means you haven't named him yet?"
"How do you know? There are plenty of unisex names out there to choose from," he told her. She frowned at him and turned her attention back to the soft kitten now asleep in her hand, safely clutched close to her body. House sighed again. "No, I haven't named him yet. I hadn't really planned on keeping him anyway. He's gotta belong to somebody."
"Wait a minute. You found him?" She asked incredulously. "Where?"
"Outside my place in the bushes, screaming for the entire world to hear," he answered. "It's really annoying, actually. I had to stay up all night to feed it…him." Cameron stared at him in response.
Doctor House stayed up all night with a kitten?
He wouldn't do that for most of his patients…unless they were clinically insane. Cameron regarded him with newfound respect, and her steady, beaming greenish-blue-eyed gaze was making House uncomfortable.
"What?" He asked sharply. "Why do people keep looking at me like that?"
"Looking at you like what?" Her brows knitted in confusion and shook her head. "Anyway, House, I don't think anyone's going to claim that they abandoned a kitten in some bushes, since that would mean they'd be liable for charges of animal abuse. You either have to keep him, put up "Free Kitten" posters, or give him to the Humane Society."
"Ah, but you're forgetting Super Secret Option Number Four," he said as he wagged his finger at her. "I could find him a home with a certain sickeningly sweet, nice immunologist who happens to be so warm and fuzzy herself that she would no doubt get along very well with a kitten…" He looked pointedly at her, his ice blue eyes intense. Maybe he could stare her into this.
She looked down at the innocent kitten huddled against her and sighed wistfully. As much as she would have liked to take this kitten home, she figured House needed him more than she did. Maybe it would do him some good to have someone waiting for him when he got home. Who knows? Maybe he was a cat person deep down inside.
"Sorry, House, you can't just dump him on me," she stated as she handed the tiny bundle of fur back to him. House reached up automatically to take him back and nearly smiled when the exchange did little to disturb the slumber of the miniature sleeping beast. "He's your responsibility, now." Their fingers brushed, sending a jolt of electricity to all of his nerve endings, before she dropped her arm back to her side.
She turned on her heel, grabbed the mail, and was gone before he could say, 'Bob's your uncle.'
He looked down at the little creature, whose life now rested, quite literally, in his hands.
Funny, he didn't have a problem with this so-called 'responsibility'.
When Doctor Lisa Cuddy walked into the Diagnostics Department, the last thing she expected was for the head of said department to be sleeping in his computer chair. When she opened her mouth to yell at him for not only showing up for late work but for being late for clinic duty and sleeping on the job, something stalled the words in her throat.
There was something…fuzzy on House's chest. And it was breathing.
Could it be…?
She silently crossed the floor to his desk so she could get a closer look at this anomaly. House brought up a large hand to rest on top of it, covering most of its body.
Cuddy gasped, and House's eyes flew open.
"Doctor Cuddy! How nice of you to drop by!" House stood up faster than she'd seen him move in a long time, and he quickly put some distance between himself and the Dean. "To what, dare I ask, do I owe this privilege?" He performed a bow, hand still holding the, yes it was indeed a kitten, to his chest as he bent at the waist.
Cuddy begrudgingly admitted to herself that despite all of his misgivings and his injury, House was still a graceful man.
She would die from torture before ever admitting that to his face, however. The man's ego was already the size of a small country.
"You were late getting in this morning, and you're now late for clinic duty," she informed him. "And I don't even want to start on how many health codes you're breaking right now with that…thing."
"Oh, what, him? He's harmless…wouldn't hurt a fly," House paused for a moment, appearing thoughtful. "Well, he might, but that's only because he's a cat, and they like to eat bugs…"
"Come to think of it, he might actually be good for the hospital, keep the cockroach and mice population to a minimum, you know, like they do on farms…"
"What if I told you he promises to be on his best behavior?"
"HOUSE!" Her shriek bounced of the glass walls into the ringing silence that followed her outburst.
The kitten mewed in protest and sent, House swears it's true, a death glare towards Cuddy for disturbing his nap.
He was so making sure that the kitten got some treats later.
"Jeez, Cuddy, have some tact!" He changed his tone to baby-talk. "Did that mean, scary lady wake you up? Don't worry; she just likes to strut around like she owns the place…"
"I'm going to overlook the fact that you just compared this hospital to a farmhouse, but you need to get that thing out of here before someone sees you!"
"Sorry, I can't leave him alone," House told her. "He was abandoned outside my building, so I had to take him in. He requires constant attention and care. I guess I'll just take him with me to the clinic and hope that the patients aren't allergic…"
"No!" Cuddy cut him off. "No. Find someone else to take care of him. You have work to do."
"No buts!" She turned to leave.
"Please?" She paused midstep. Cuddy turned slowly, not quite believing that that word had passed House's lips in such a sincere tone. Apparently, he was just as taken aback by it as she was judging by the surprised look on his face. She stared at him for a few moments, her mind working quickly.
"Fine, take a few days off to get stuff arranged for your…pet," she relented and she made to leave again but turned around in time to see him to a victory arm pump. She grinned evilly. You celebrate too soon, Dr. House. "But you owe me make-up hours in the clinic when you get back."
His only response was to attempt to use his latent super powers to burn two holes in the back of her head with laser beams from his eyes as she walked away, the clip-clop of her heels echoing in the corridor with what House would swear was an annoying air of superiority.
When Cameron returned shortly after having sorted House's mail, she noticed he was packing up some of his stuff into his backpack while the kitten was still crawling around on the blanket he'd brought for him.
"Leaving so soon?" She tried hard not to sound disappointed, but judging by the look he gave her she was unsuccessful. It was an odd look, like somewhere between vexed and amused. If there really is such an expression.
"Aw, what's the matter, you gonna miss me?" He sneered. "I'm touched, really, I am! But, unfortunately, I have to go home and play 'House'." The corners of his mouth twitched at his own joke and she graced him with a wide smile.
"Don't you usually two people to play the parents?" Her eyes widened slightly, realizing that she was trying to invite herself over to his apartment, but she decided to roll with it. He stared at her for a long moment, carefully contemplating his next words, his steely gaze searching hers as if he could see right to her core. She spoke up before he could snark at her. "Um, I mean, if you want, I could help you with…I mean, I've had a few kittens before and…"
"You've had kittens?" He blinked at her slowly. "What, are you part feline? I mean, I knew there was something weird about you, but you think I would have noticed a tail by now…" He deliberately tried to get a good long look at her rump.
"You want my help or not?" She interrupted, a hand on her hip and her chin lifted defiantly.
"Don't you have some work to do?"
"Not really. We don't have any new cases and I, unlike you, I am already caught up with my clinic hours. So, you can give me time off, boss." He considered her for a minute or two before bending over to pick up the kitten.
"Fine, but you get to clean up the pee and poo," he said gruffly as he handed her the small bundle of purring fur. "I don't know if he's house-trained." She smiled and nodded in agreement before nuzzling the kitten.
"Have you picked out a name for him yet?"
"Mick Jagger," he answered, his eyes twinkling with mirth. "When I found him I could've sworn he was squeaking 'Gimme, gimme shelter'." She laughed softly and held 'Mick' in front of her face so she could get a closer look at him.
His soft baby fur was a sleek black, and he had white tuxedo markings on his chest, a little white spot on his tummy, white toes, white whiskers, and a slim white stripe on his tiny nose. She could already tell his eyes weren't going to stay gray and were possibly going to turn yellow or gold.
"Hello, Mickey," she said softly as she touched her nose to his. In response he stuck out his paw and put it on the tip of her nose. She giggled until she suddenly realized that she was under the scrutiny of one very amused diagnostician. "What?"
"Mickey?" His barely contained smile was starting to surface. "He's not a mouse, he's a cat."
"He's a baby, and babies are required to have nicknames," Cameron informed him matter-of-factly.
"Of course, how did I not know that?" He smacked his forehead. "Duh!"
"Besides, it's cute," she said more quietly.
"Oh, great," House scoffed. "You're going to take away his manhood before he's even a man. Tomcat. Whatever." He waved his hand around impatiently. "The point is, how's he gonna get all the lady-cats if you're making him a sissy-la-la cat?"
Cameron was saved from having to retort by the sudden entrance of Doctors Eric Foreman and Robert Chase.
"Where are you going?" Foreman asked House when he saw he had his backpack slung over his shoulder.
"Home. Cuddy's given me a few days off. Had to do a few sexual favors, but it looks like I finally broke her." He quipped and Foreman raised his hands as though to ward off House's pretend over sharing. Even if it didn't really happen, it didn't make a very pretty picture in his head. "Oh, and Cameron's going home, too." At this point, Foreman and Chase both looked at Cameron quizzically. Chase noticed Mick first.
"Whoa, Allison, when d'you get a cat?" The Australian asked.
"It's…Um…" She stammered, looking to House for help.
"It's the reason she gets to go home," he told them. Not exactly a lie, but not exactly the truth either. "Anyway, I'm off. I have some very important television to watch when I get home." He limped between them, forcing them to make way for him and left the office. Foreman and Chase stared after him while Cameron quickly got her things together. She handed Mick to a dumbfounded Foreman while she got ready and shut her laptop off. She took off her labcoat, hung it on the nearby rack, grabbed her duffel bag, and gently took Mickey back from Foreman before following House's suit. She left clutching the little black kitten close while she carried her bag over her shoulder.
"I…don't know what just happened," Chase admitted slowly. Foreman nodded.
"Yeah, and I get the feeling we don't want to know."
House was waiting for her in the parking garage.
"Your car or mine?" He gestured with his cane in the general direction of the cars.
"Yours," she smiled. "And…Um…" She looked away, suddenly unable to meet his gaze.
"If you're going to thank me again, don't," he said flatly.
"No, I mean, yes, thank you," she paused when he growled at her, but continued, "I was going to ask if you could…put the top down." He looked at her sharply and gave her a half-grin when she finally met his gaze. He limped off ahead of her.
"Last one there's a rotten egg!"
A/N: The song I'm using in the story is called "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones. Please R/R! Lemme know what you think? Should I continue on?