Chapter four: Thursday
Cuddy slept fitfully; never completely lapsing into deep sleep she drifted in and out of consciousness. At 5am she could take no more. Something wasn't right; she needed space, fresh air, something. Perhaps it was the room, the air hanging heavy around her with some intangible, stifling element she couldn't place. Maybe it was House- something about his behaviour perplexed her. She needed to get away, gain perspective, get some fresh air. Cuddy stumbled out of bed, quickly pulling on a singlet and a pair of sweatpants before heading for the door. She ran; feet slapping the sidewalk in time with her heartbeat, mind racing even faster, desperately hoping the rhythm of her movement would slow her brain. After five minutes she asked herself if she was running out of guilt, taking off to clear her head simply because he couldn't follow. After ten minutes reality struck; she'd just slept with a patient.
By the time Cuddy stumbled through the door some forty-five minutes later, she had almost convinced herself that House had instigated proceedings, therefore absolving her of any responsibility for her actions. Legs heavy from exertion, she slowly walked back into the bedroom, finding him still sprawled across the bed, sheets tangled around his waist, good leg hanging over the side of the bed. The room stank of sex, the scent hanging around him triumphantly as he dozed quietly; the combination of cream bed-sheets and the early morning sunlight streaming through the window giving him the aura of a slightly scruffy broken angel. Cuddy sighed; who was she kidding? It took to people to tango, be it vertical or horizontal. She wandered off to the bathroom, desperate to wash the smell of sweat and sex from her skin before she attached any unnecessary meaning to it.
House stirred, propping himself up on his elbows. He could smell bacon. He flicked the sheet away, searching for his shorts, and was suddenly acutely aware of the need to shower, a thin crust of dried semen tugging at the hair across the top of his thighs as he moved. House cast an appraising eye over his cock, unsure as to what to think about the night's events. Why Cuddy? Frustration, need, payment for services rendered, rebound... All of the above? After a period of brief consideration, he abandoned the search for his underwear and limped off to the bathroom.
Sipping coffee in quiet contemplation as she watched a handful of bacon strips crackling in the pan, Cuddy heard the shower spring to life. Part of her had silently been hoping he would sleep in, sparing them both the unique brand of discomfort that came with the obligatory morning after conversation. Still grappling with the reality of having slept with a patient, Cuddy's thoughts turned to the event itself. It was good, definitely good, but regardless of what angle she viewed it from, something wasn't quite right. House's motivation troubled her, need had been a big part of it, maybe obligation? Perhaps he thought of it as 'paying the rent' or something. Regardless of why, there was something about his demeanour that troubled Cuddy. Despite the fact it hadn't really concerned her too much at the time, the fact that he essentially refused to let her touch him had retrospectively thrown her. It couldn't be about her, she'd spent a considerable amount of time touching him over the last few months, admittedly in a professional setting... Again the same nagging thought; he was a patient, her patient. Cuddy poked absently at the bacon; any sexual hang-ups he had in light of the infarction had to be Stacy related. She had to give it to him though, even on one leg, the man was good at his work. Cuddy heard the now familiar sound of a single footstep followed by soft shuffling behind her. She turned around, House shuffled closer, pushing her against the counter, his free hand settling comfortably on her hip. He studied her face, his own expression thoughtful. Cuddy looked up at him; even half-slumped over the single crutch that held him upright he was still an imposingly tall man. She placed a hand on his chest; he smelt like soap, her soap. House tilted her chin up with a single finger, lips meeting hers in a tentative kiss. Mind instantly slipping back a few hours in time, Cuddy wound her arms around his neck, opening her mouth against his greedily. His arm snaked around her, hand finding the hollow of her back as he responded. Cuddy's eyes flashed open as his tongue met hers; it was the Vicodin, sour and acrid, coating the inside of his mouth. She drank it in, tasting his reality in the cold light of day, and it took every ounce of her willpower not to gag and pull away.
Cuddy watched House as he carefully built his breakfast into a tidy bacon and egg sandwich, satisfied with the knowledge that she had managed to get him to eat two decent meals in the last three days. He was quiet though, too quiet. No snide remarks about table manners or living arrangements; no needling her for personal information or testing her pain threshold, just silence. Cuddy stared at him, still unsure what to think, unsure what she felt; between the guilt, the sex and her own over-riding sense of damaged professionalism she had no idea what she was doing. She checked her watch, 6.30. Cuddy stood, walked around the table and stood behind him, running her fingers through his hair. House gazed up at her; eyes clear for the first time in days but imbued with the most tragic sense of melancholy. She felt her heart breaking.
"Take it easy, okay?" Cuddy ached for him.
House nodded. Cuddy sighed, mentally steeling herself and left to collect her bag.
"Oh god, Greg." Cuddy mumbled to herself as she unlocked the pickup. "What has she done to you?"
House resumed his position in front of Cuddy's television with his box of Cheerios prepared for a solid day of channel surfing, but his heart wasn't in it; not even Cheech and Chong's 'Up in Smoke' could hold his attention. He switched the TV off. Gazing out the window, his mind flashed back to the previous night, vividly recalling the image of Cuddy moving above him; feeling her around him. House squeezed his eyes shut, lips disappearing inside his mouth and swallowed hard. It was the first time he'd been with anyone other than Stacy in five years. Stacy.
From the outset the sex had been explosive; every interaction characterised by the sort of extreme, passionate anger that saw them fucking anywhere and everywhere. Every emotion they were unable to verbalise they thrashed out in the bedroom, the scratches that adorned his torso the next morning a testimony to his ability. He was wild, controlling, uninhibited, and she fought him every step of the way. Within weeks of her moving in, he found himself getting hard whenever they argued; his mind skipping ahead in time to the hugely gratifying moment where he would hammer his point home in the most compelling manner, always ensuring she agreed, regardless of how long it took. After the infarction he found himself mentally deleting positions from his sexual repertory, in time he knew he'd regain his endurance, his leg would develop some mild degree of stability; but then there was Stacy. Consumed with guilt, she looked to atone for her actions on every level; driving him to his appointments, cooking every meal, and assuming every domestic role she had initially shirked from the moment they moved in together. At night she fucked him out of sheer guilt and pity, and he just lay there pretending it wasn't happening. Initially he pushed her away, but she always wanted to talk; eventually he reached the point where maintaining his state of silence was impossible, and he just lay back and let her do it, hating himself every time she sank down onto him. It was the ultimate insult; he couldn't fuck her the way he used to anymore, the fact that she insisted on doing it; screaming and moaning like some whacked-out porn star as she rode him only served to hammer the reality of his situation home. He had become a parody of his former self, now silent in anger and submissive where once he was shamelessly dominant and he hated it. More than anything he wanted to fuck her hard, so hard that she'd feel what he felt, the hollow, consuming pain of betrayal. However in reality it was impossible, and he hated it; hated her touching him, hated the fact that she assumed that she was entitled to some degree of intimacy in spite of what she had done to him; hated the fact that he had become an obligation, a chore, an object of pity.
Then there was Cuddy. He didn't really know what to think of last night, it was a strangely validating experience in a way. She came, he made sure of it; he had always taken pride in his ability in that department; but he was still essentially a spectator by his own standards, lying back watching as she did all the work. Not that he was complaining; Cuddy was a beautiful woman, watching her firm body and those perfect, full breasts in the moonlight as her body rolled against his was just… House felt a pleasant surge of feeling in his groin. Motivation was an issue though, Cuddy was keeping him here out of guilt; he just hoped it didn't extend into her bedroom. Still the whole situation presented him with more questions than answers, and he had a whole day to dwell on them.
"If I were you, I'd consider filing for divorce." House sighed, offering the bulge in his jeans some heartfelt advice.
Cuddy's day dragged; for some godforsaken reason every individual who strode through the clinic and into her office came equipped with the most mundane and ludicrous quibbles imaginable. Doctor Jeffries from ENT had stolen three staplers and a packet of copying paper from Cardiology. Half of the OBGYN department were boycotting clinic duty while they lobbied for additional funding to purchase a new couch for their staff lounge, and Psychiatry and Neurology were refusing to co-operate over the treatment of a patient and were intent on turning it into a political issue, members of either department appearing at twenty-minute intervals reciting 'he said-she said' scenarios. Cuddy grit her teeth head propped against her hand as pretended to listen. The added distraction of arriving home to the strangely detached man she seemed to have adopted consumed her thoughts. The Board Meeting was going to be hell.
House ate two pieces of dry toast for dinner and took a shower. An hour or so spent snooping through Cuddy's things had yielded a copy of the hospital's Annual Report for the previous financial year. In light of the fact he didn't have anything better to do, he settled down in bed with his box of Cheerios to read it. It was inexplicably dull; prepared by accountants for accountants but it served to give him an insight into the sort of operation Cuddy was running, and evidently running very well. In the three years she had been in charge, donations were up and losses were down; the woman ran a tight ship. House sighed, what he really wanted to look at was the fairly extensive looking packet of information she had been leafing through in preparation for her Board Meeting. He figured it would still be in her bag when she arrived home. The shrill chime of a telephone ring cut through his thoughts. House hauled himself off the bed and limped into the kitchen in time to hear the answering machine click on, smiling vaguely at Cuddy's typically business-like message.
"Hi, Lisa. It's Stacy here… I just rang to see whether Greg showed up for his appointment today. I can't get hold of him… I guess he's probably screening my calls or something. If you could give me a call back, I'm staying at my sister's 497-5683."
House stared at the machine; the urge to swat it off the counter with his crutch was almost overwhelming. He drew in a deep breath and hit the delete button before returning to bed.
Cuddy fell through the front door at a quarter to eleven. The meeting had dragged on for some three and a half hours, the lowlight being an extensive discussion covering the hospital's stationary provider at the end of General Business. According to the calculations of one Dr Jackson from Pathology, the hospital could save in excess of $500 a year by changing the brand of staples they purchased. Half an hour later Cuddy concluded that Jackson was not only painfully anally retentive, but also quite possibly insane, ensured it was minuted then promptly closed the meeting. On her way out of the hospital car park, she spotted Jackson and came screaming up behind him in House's ridiculous black pickup, bringing it to a screeching halt inches from him as he walked to his car; the older man almost falling over in shock. Cuddy howled with laughter, silently thanking House for having the sense to get a ridiculously dark window treatment on his truck. In that moment she understood why he bought it. Wandering through her lounge and down the passageway, she found House clad only in underwear sitting on her bed, back propped against the headboard, seemingly engrossed in the hospital's most recent Annual Report.
"You're not seriously reading that?" Cuddy dropped her bag onto the chair next to her dresser.
"How was the meeting?" House ignored her, dropping the report onto the nightstand.
"Don't ask." Cuddy growled, shrugging her jacket. "Are you eating Cheerios in my bed?"
"Come here." House patted the bed next to him.
Cuddy looked at him warily but complied nonetheless, kicking off her shoes and flopping onto the bed next to him. House cast his eyes along the length of her body; wild hair loosely held by a simple clasp, low-cut white blouse, navy-blue mid-length skirt and stockings; all concealing that wonderfully firm body. He smoothed his hand down her hip, settling his big palm against the bone simply because he liked how it fit in his hand. Cuddy watched him, finding the peculiar expression on his face bemusing, but resisting the urge to speak. House slowly began to undress her, having had plenty of time to think he had devised a plan. He was certain Cuddy would be expecting something, and ignoring her or denying the events of the previous evening would be showing her a lack of respect as a woman. House figured if he got her off and did his job well enough, there was a good chance that she'd happily go to sleep afterward, that way he wouldn't have to face the reality of having sex again for the time being. He didn't really know how or what she felt toward him, if anything at all; so with a bit of luck she'd be satisfied with one good orgasm and sleep, he could go back to reading the report and jerk off in the bathroom later if need be.
House threw Cuddy's stockings across the room in the same direction he had thrown her skirt, lightly trailing his fingertips up and down the outside of her thigh. He smiled; for a professional woman Cuddy had great taste in underwear, black silk and a subtle sprinkling of lace- practical and sexy. A pleasant change from what he was used to. House hummed quietly to himself, lightly tracing the pattern of the lace across her panties with a fingertip as he contemplated his next move.
"Can you try not to tear these ones?" Cuddy asked in her most diplomatic voice, shivering in anticipation as his fingers drifted below the lace. House nodded, slipping his fingers under the sides of her panties; she lifted her hips obligingly and they too joined the rest of her clothing on the floor. He paused in a moment of silent admiration, enjoying the shadows that played across her skin in the soft glow of the lamplight. Cuddy shifted nervously, her own uncertainty and his strangely silent demeanour leaving her feeling particularly naked. Suddenly House gripped her hips, shifting her so she lay across the bed before stretching out on his stomach until his head was nestled comfortably between her thighs. It had been a while since he'd done this, gently nibbling at her inner thighs, stubble tickling her skin as he went; but he liked what he saw and smelled. She was wet already. This was going to be a lot more enjoyable than he'd anticipated. House slid his tongue upward in a long, leisurely stroke, fighting a smile as Cuddy groaned audibly above him. It was too easy.
Cuddy shifted slightly against him, slowly relaxing into the casual, deft movement of his tongue against her flesh. Suddenly she understood every man she had ever dated who came home from work demanding a blowjob. Yes, he was a patient, but here in her bed he was giving her exactly what she needed. Who was she to fight it? House's tongue curled firmly around her in a teasing caress that defied description.
"Ohh… Greg…" Cuddy moaned, fingers tangling through his hair, holding him firmly in place as she felt her hips start to move involuntarily in time with his tongue. House smiled inwardly, the entire experience leaving him pleasantly hard; everything about it was good, her taste, her smell, her fingers massaging his scalp as he worked. House picked up the pace, eager to finish her off before the pressure of the mattress against his leg became uncomfortable.
Cuddy felt the pressure beginning to build deep between her thighs, mind instantly flashing back to the previous evening, specifically how full she had felt when she came with him inside her. House began to suckle sharply at her flesh. She groaned, writhing in his grasp, so close now. Cuddy wanted him, desperate to feel his thick, perfect cock plunging deep inside her.
"God… Greg, I want you inside me…" Cuddy pleaded, desperate to stave off the inevitable. House ignored her, tightening his grip around her thighs as he slowed right down, gently teasing her with the tip of his tongue.
"Dammit, Greg!" Cuddy growled. He offered no response, quietly continuing in the manner that he saw fit, dragging his tongue across her in a series of long teasing licks before slowly easing back into a steady rhythm. Cuddy's mind raced; he had just declined an invitation to climb on top and finish her off. It was killing her, she was literally aching, desperate to feel him inside her now.
"Please Greg…" Cuddy moaned. "I want you…" A deft flick of his tongue saw her sentence end prematurely with a throaty groan. This wasn't fair. Cuddy shifted beneath him, agitated in spite of the incessant throbbing between her thighs. What was his problem? First she couldn't touch him, and now he wouldn't fuck her? She wasn't here to provide some sort of psycho-sexual counselling service. If he wanted to work through his issues he could do it somewhere other than between her thighs. Cuddy's hands left his head, clawing furiously at the bed beneath her, twisting two fistfuls of the sheet into knots at her sides. She grit her teeth, determined not to come. House felt her shifting above him, relishing the fight. She was on his turf now, the harder she fought him, the more violently she'd come when she finally let go.
House hummed gently as he worked, the vibration reverberating through Cuddy as she desperately sought to stave off the inevitable, writhing in his grasp and twisting the sheets until they came loose at the corners of the bed. Painfully hard and shamelessly aroused at the mere suggestion of a fight House began to grind himself against the mattress, the pressure on his thigh serving to quash any lingering thoughts he may have had of climbing on top of her afterward. The reality of his situation was too much; House decided to finish things, lapping mercilessly at her screaming flesh.
"Ohh… Greg…" Cuddy groaned, eyes wide. She was dangerously close, but she wouldn't come. Not for him, not in this lifetime. A deep, throaty growl forced its way out from between her lips, muscles tightening as an all-consuming wave of pleasure swept down though her. She arched her back, eyes wide, hips bucking uncontrollably against his face. "Fuck me…" She gasped, the unbridled desperation in her voice wrapping itself snugly around his balls. House squeezed his eyes shut, slowing down as she rode it out. Oh god he wanted to, she had to know that. But he couldn't, not the way she needed him to.
Cuddy finally fell limp beneath him. House pushed himself up, shifting so that he sat with his back propped against the headboard, legs stretched out in front of him. He sighed heavily, reaching for the Annual Report that he had dropped on the nightstand.
"Greg?" Cuddy sat up, utterly puzzled. House was painfully hard, his thick, perfect cock bulging against the loose, white cotton of his shorts as he flipped open the report. He gazed over at her sadly as she glared at him, wild-eyed, hair dishevelled, her blouse hanging half open. Cuddy crawled over to him, snatching the report away and flinging it across the room. She didn't care anymore; she wanted him so much that something ached in the pit of her stomach. Desperate to feel him inside her, Cuddy straddled his lap. House looked away; delicious wet heat soaking through his shorts as she settled on top. God he wanted her; wanted to flip her onto her back and fuck her so hard and so deep that she'd feel him every time she moved for the next week and swear that she'd never had better. House gritted his teeth and cursed his reality, swallowing hard.
"Greg?" Cuddy craned her neck, twisting on his lap to try and meet his eyes. She grabbed his chin, straightening his head on his shoulders and studied his face. "This isn't about guilt or pity.
"I know, I know." He whispered, closing his eyes and fighting to turn his head away. Cuddy let go of his chin, hand shifting to cover her own mouth. He stared at the window, eyes glassy in the lamplight. She lightly traced the firm line of muscle down the side of his neck with her fingertips, leaning forward to kiss him lightly along the same path her fingers had taken. House placed his palm firmly in the centre of her chest; he couldn't do it. Cuddy sat back reluctantly. He slowly turned his head back to face her; the pain and hopelessness in his eyes tore at her.
"I just feel so fucking useless…" House whispered. He dropped his head, pressing his nose to his shoulder briefly before returning to meet her gaze. The muscles in his neck and jaw tightened. "I can't fuck you the way I want to."
"Greg.," Cuddy smoothed a hand through his hair; he inhaled sharply, gritting his teeth as a single silent tear rolled down his cheek. She took his hand, slipping it beneath her and between her thighs.
"Feel that?" She whispered, eyes scouring his face for something, anything. His fingers teased through fur, slipping inside her. House gazed at the ceiling, sadness and tormented frustration tearing across his features. She was so hot, so wet…
"That's all you, Greg." Cuddy whispered hoarsely. "You're not useless. I don't care how you do it… I just want you… Need you inside me." House met her gaze, finding her clear blue eyes dark with lust as he stared at her. For the first time he saw her; and she wasn't Stacy. There was no pity, no obligation; only need and feverish desperation. He swallowed hard, blinking away a handful of obstinant tears. House slipped a hand behind her head, sliding the clip from her hair; dark curls cascading wildly around her shoulders. He tangled a hand roughly through her hair, pulling her in toward him; kissing her hard as their lips met. Cuddy groaned desperately into his mouth, grinding her hips against him shamelessly as he deepened their kiss. Her mind swam, every sensation rippling down through her and pooling between her thighs, god she wanted him. House tore at her blouse, buttons popping as he dragged it off her shoulders and pushed it away, along with her bra, fingers splaying along her spine in its wake, pulling her to him, breasts smashed against his chest as they kissed.
The detached, calculated man of the night before was gone. House didn't care who she was or why she was there anymore; the simple fact was she was there. This beautiful, incredible woman; he wanted to kiss her, feel her, immerse himself in her just to feel something other than pain and forget himself for a few precious moments. His hands were everywhere, touch firm and desperate; Cuddy moved with him as they kissed, his thick silky tongue massaging hers, stubble rasping against her skin driving her to the point of total sensory overload. Cuddy tasted salt and had no idea whose tears were on her lips. She reluctantly broke away from him, delicately kissing her way down the length of his neck. She dragged her tongue along his collarbone, mouthing her way down his chest to gently bite a nipple. House's fingers tangled through her hair; this was good, he wanted this, groaning loudly as she traced the muscles in his stomach with her tongue. Cuddy's fingertips slid under the elastic of his shorts, teasing him as she lightly mouthed at the thick ridge of his cock through the thin, damp cotton that hid it from her view. She gazed up at him from between his thighs, suggestively biting at his groin. House bit his bottom lip, nodding. Cuddy shifted, slowly pulling his underwear down his thighs and over his calves. She moved back up gently blowing cool air over his throbbing cock, gazing up at him. House propped her chin up with a single finger; her eyes told him she'd return the favour with interest in a heartbeat, but as soon as soon she wrapped those gorgeous lips around him he'd be finished.
"Come here." House rasped, the pressure in his balls momentarily over-riding both common sense and the pain in his thigh. Cuddy gazed up at him, and in a simple act of acceptance placed a single kiss on top of the puckered skin at the midpoint of the angry scar that tore down his thigh. She shifted back up to his lap, catching his mouth in another fervent kiss; grinding against him as he struggled to comprehend what he'd just seen. House braced himself, back against the headboard; good leg propped up behind her gripping her hips firmly. He lifted her up off his lap; Cuddy broke their kiss, dropping a hand down beneath her to angle him up toward her. She sank down fractionally, heat coating his head as she shifted her hands to grip the headboard either side of his shoulders. House steadied himself, eyes locked on hers. He pulled her down onto him hard, lifting his hips off the bed at the same time, watching her eyes as he buried himself deeply inside her; that moment, the look of sheer exhilaration and desire that flooded her eyes were all his.
"Greg…" Cuddy moaned as she exhaled, never breaking eye contact. House grunted in satisfaction, pushing deeply into her again. He worked into a steady rhythm, Cuddy moving slowly, luxuriously in compliment; but it was all him as thrust up into her, nuzzling her tits as they rose and fell in front of him. And in that moment time stood still as he fucked her; slowly, gently; exactly how he wanted to. By some wonderful coincidence, they came together; House driving deeply into her as she clung to him desperately, teeth sinking into his shoulder when he took her over the edge with him.
They stayed like that, fused together for god knows how long until House broke the silence.
"You know," He mused, trailing his fingertips along the length of her spine as she lay slumped across his chest. "Every time you have sex from now on, you'll think of me."
Cuddy sat back and glared at him. He was probably right.
For the first time in a long time Cuddy slept through her alarm. House reached over her and snapped it off, downing his morning Vicodin in the process. She stirred without waking, snuggling into the space between his arm and his chest. House lightly dragged his fingers across her upper arm. It occurred to him at that moment that he needed to go through her bag. Everything was beginning to make sense. He slid out from underneath her with as much stealth as he was physically capable, wrapping a bed sheet around his waist before grabbing her bag and his crutch and limping into the kitchen. He dropped Cuddy's leather executive bag down onto the table and made a coffee before sitting down to read.
Cuddy staggered into the kitchen at 7.30 feeling pleasantly sore in a few places and thoroughly satisfied. She spotted House sitting at the table wearing his bed sheet, papers strewn everywhere, clearly engrossed in whatever it was that had caught his attention.
"Didn't know we were having a toga party." Cuddy slid her arms around his neck from behind, gently biting his earlobe.
"Keg's in the kitchen." He tilted his head to look at her, noticing her bathrobe. "You're overdressed." He shifted in his seat yanking at the tie that held it closed.
"Hey!" Cuddy spotted her bag on the table. "You're reading my notes from the board meeting?"
"Yep." House looked at her earnestly. "It's a good thing I'm here, I can solve all of your problems."
"What are you going to do?" Cuddy looked at him incredulously. "Have sex with everyone on the board?"
"Not all of them." House looked at her incredulously, "Well at least not all of them at once."
"Okay then genius." Cuddy sat down at the table across from him. "Solve all my problems."
"According to these figures, you've had 38 major diagnostic errors in the last six months." House began. "Including me."
"Not a statistic I'm proud of." Cuddy reached over, taking a sip of his coffee. "But continue."
"What you need is a specialist diagnostic department to take the pressure off the rest of the hospital." House continued. "It's a relatively new idea here, but it's fairly common in Europe."
"Interesting concept." Cuddy folded her arms across her chest. "And who exactly is going to run this diagnostic department?"
"Well, evidently no one in your hospital knows what they're doing," He watched her carefully, a strangely smug expression drifting across his face. "And I know an exceptional candidate who just happens to be on the market right now."
"So, I guess you can start on Monday then, Doctor House." Cuddy snapped at him, agitated. "You're not serious are you?"
'Why not?" House glared at her. "Diagnostics is my bag. I'm ideal."
"Why, because you slept with me?" Cuddy was less than impressed.
"No, but I can do it again if it'll help?" House raised an eyebrow at her suggestively.
"Oh god." Cuddy shook her head. "You're serious. I suppose you just think you can walk in and start on Monday?"
"I was thinking closer to Wednesday…" House began.
"Have you looked in a mirror at any stage this week?" Cuddy glared at him. "You're sick. If you walked into my office on Monday I'd hand you admission papers, not an employment contract."
"I'm fine." House glared at her. "I've just had a couple of bad days."
"Really." Cuddy retorted flatly. "So the whole turning up at the clinic partially drunk practically begging for drugs was just something I imagined?"
"Hey!" House snapped at her. "I'm dealing with a lot of shit right now."
"And you'll be dealing with it for the rest of your life." Cuddy leant forward, eyeballing him across the table. "You're a mess! You're barely mobile, a month behind in your physical therapy and you've been self medicating. Six months ago if I heard you were out of work I would have tracked you down on reputation alone and offered you a job, but I can't give you one now, you look worse than most of my patients."
"So I'll go back to physical therapy." House glared at her. "Or I could start drinking again, wipe myself out a few times…"
"You're one of my patients for crying out loud." Cuddy sought to exercise some common sense, running a hand through her hair in exasperation. "I can't just give you a job, it's unprofessional."
"You slept with a patient." House stated the obvious. "Twice actually. That's got to be the absolute pinnacle of unprofessionalism. Hang on, is that a word?" House paused. "I can spend the rest of my days sitting on your couch moping if you want, I'm assuming you'll keep feeding me if I put out?"
"This is ridiculous." Cuddy glared at him. "I'm not giving you a job out of guilt."
"This isn't about guilt." House snapped at her. "Your hospital has a problem, I'm offering a solution." House leaned forward, meeting her gaze. "Lisa I know who I am, and I know how my record reads. I've been fired four times, I'm a huge liability in a professional sense as well as a personal one, but I can do this… And if I pull it off, you're the one who gets all the credit."
Cuddy dropped her head down into her hands, massaging her temples. This was insane; she needed time.
"Okay, I'll give you one month." Cuddy began, her voice measured. "You get your life together, go back to physical therapy and walk into my office looking like a doctor and not a patient, with a fully-costed proposal for your Diagnostic Department and we'll talk." She glared at him. "I can't guarantee anything though, it has to be approved by the hospital board, and you'll need Certification in Diagnostics if you're going to run this thing. If they hear about this though…" Cuddy trailed off, waving her hand at him. "You don't have a chance in hell."
"Okay." House glared at her. "I'm taking all of your budget and staffing reports, and you're taking me home."
"What?" Cuddy sat up, entirely unprepared for this moment.
"You heard, take me home."