5. Her parents had paid a lot of money for Lisa to have a single room. She wasn't quite sure how much but she didn't think it was wise to ask. It wasn't that she was against having roommates – after all, she had lived with her parents for years – it was just that she had a very strict study routine. Lisa Cuddy was a very particular person. But she could hear the voices through the thin walls of girls giggling and decorating and to fend off the idea of loneliness, she propped open the door.
She nearly jumped out of her skin. He was standing there, leaning against the wall, starring at her.
"Can I help you?" she asked, pushing down her surprise.
"Took you long enough. You're the last room in this hall to open your door. Tell me, Lisa, are you hiding something?"
"What? No! Who are you?"
He peered around her.
"Ah, single room. Well that makes more sense. Either you're a prude, OCD, or daddy's super special little girl – probably all three." He shrugged, his skinny shoulders angular under his Rolling Stone's t-shirt. He had the bluest eyes she'd ever seen.
"Don't judge me," she said, anger creeping into her voice.
"Why not?" he asked.
"It's rude," she pointed out.
"Well," he said. "Miss Lisa. I'll go." He started walking away.
"How do you know my name?" she called.
"It's on the door," he said, without looking back. She saw the laminated name card and felt the blood rise to her face. She hoped she never saw him again.
4. Ever since she'd started med school, she'd kept up on House's articles in all the major journals. He would write voraciously for months and then publish nothing for a year. His articles were always oddly professional for it being House. The case was always stated clearly and he had a leisurely prose style that was easy to read and absorb but it was always honest and straightforward. Where was the backhandedness that resonated with his reputation?
He was writing from a private hospital in San Francisco and she thought he might be happy out there with the hippies' and the liberals and his article on AIDS made her tear up a little. She was a third year resident and when she flew across the country to attend a conference in Oakland; he was there in the lobby in jeans and a rumpled button down shirt. He had sunglasses on his head and an old Golden Lab on a leash at his feet. He stayed near the door as if he didn't want to – or couldn't – fully commit to attending.
Part of her wanted to break away from her group and talk to him; to reintroduce herself. She waited a few minutes and then walked toward him. She was cut off by a bell hop approaching him; informing him that the dog could not stay. He caught her eye and shrugged. He slipped his sunglasses down into place and left with the dog limping behind him.
She didn't see him again. His plastic name tag was always left on the check-in table. She wanted to take it home with her, but she wasn't that brave.
3. Two weeks ago, she was turning 32 alone in her brand new living room watching a VHS tape because her DVDs were still packed and now she was in the conference room of Princeton-Plainsboro teaching hospital in a black dress and heels, celebrating being instated as chief of medicine.
"Second youngest, first woman!" She'd heard it so many times that it was beginning to lose meaning. Her feet hurt, her new desk was covered in paperwork and she still couldn't unpack because the painters were behind schedule.
She smiled and shook hands and when the chatter died down, it was because of a scruffy looking man in jeans standing in the doorway, eyeing the catered food in an almost undignified way. She walked toward him.
"Dr. House?" she called. "What brings you to New Jersey?"
"This isn't where I parked my car!" he said, loudly. She excused herself and asked to speak to him in the hallway.
"Dr. House, can I help you in some way?"
"My girlfriend was just admitted. But she's drugged and boring and I heard you worked here now." he said.
"Is she okay?"
"Ovarian cyst," he said, waving it away. "Chief of medicine, huh?"
"I have big plans for this hospital." she said, proudly.
"Hmm," he said. "Welp, you look just the same. I'll be downstairs eating cafeteria food." He stuck his hands in his pockets and headed for the elevators.
It wasn't until way after the party, sitting in her bathtub soaking away the long night that she realized she'd already decided to hire him.
2. In some ways, he was just the same. He had the cane and the new pill popping habit, but he was still brilliant and rarely wrong. Still, the difference was there. Where he was once only clever and mildly demanding; now he was mean and more than a little angry. Cuddy could only avoid him for so long. He was and was not the man she hired. Stacy looked desperate all the time – like she was drowning. She looked, Cuddy though, like she was about to leave and then she did.
House couldn't keep up with his cases and so she consulted the board and called him into her office. He sat down and spun his cane. He'd gotten used to it, now, and she struggled to remember him without it.
"I'm giving your department more money." she said with a soft smile. "Enough to hire a team."
"Team," he repeated.
"Three doctors and you get first choice of all the applicants."
"Whoopee." he said, and looked so unexcited that her face fell.
"I thought you'd be happy," she said.
"I'm thrilled that you've noticed that I can't do my job up to your standards anymore."
"It isn't that," she said, trying to cover up that it was exactly that. He rolled his eyes.
"I'll do it," he said, effectively cutting her off before she started to appease him more. "I have clinic duty." He stood and hobbled away and she could only stare.
"Who are you?" she called to his back and the closing door.
1. It wasn't a widely known fact, but Cuddy and Wilson had gone on a date once before the whole fertility fiasco. In between wives, of course. Cuddy had been endeared to the idea of the chief of medicine and the head of the oncology department forming a perfect union. It was rubbish in the end, though, and she knew Wilson only asked her out again out of politeness and she only accepted for the same reason.
The second time, she didn't bother to change out of her work clothes and she sat down at the table in the restaurant first with a pen and a tongue depressor shoved through her hair to hold it up off her neck.
She waited 15 minutes before she thought about leaving. Instead, House appeared and sat down like he belonged.
"What?" she asked. "Why?"
"Wilson couldn't make it. Cancer blah blah blah." he said, and picked up the menu while leaning his cane out just far enough to trip a waiter.
"He could have called the restaurant." she grumbled.
"We're both people. We both eat." he aid. She crossed her arm and he smiled, but not genuinely.
"I have things I could be doing, House."
"But aren't my eyes dreamy?"
The waiter came by and he ordered for the both of them and she was startled when he did so flawlessly.
"Why are you here?" she asked.
"Wilson doesn't want to see you anymore."
"Well, duh." she said.
"Then why did you agree to go out again?"
"He asked!" she said, exasperatedly.
"Women," he grumbled.
They drank two bottles of wine and House paid with Wilson's credit card. She drove him home because he'd taken a cab and in the car he leaned in and kissed her. Her first instinct was not to spit but to press into the feel of him. She was a little drunk and really shouldn't have been driving.
"Stay," he said. She looked out the window and told him no. "Not for sex." he promised. "You nearly drove over here on the sidewalk."
He gave her the bed and hobbled to the leather couch. She stayed awake listening to him snore in her slip and she felt the moment she sobered up.
"Oh god," she whispered. She dressed quietly, purposely not looking at the lean shape of him as she left.