Kith and Kin
By Ellie J.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue. I'm just playing with them. I do own my version of Cuddy's family.
A/N1: Well here's my next Huddy fic. Well, Huddy-ish. I think it's going to turn out to be more of a strong friendship/UST fic than actual romance, but who knows. This takes place during no particular timeframe, so no spoilers that I can think of.
Lisa Cuddy sat at her desk doing some of the interminable paperwork that seemed to fill her days. She sat back for a second and cracked her neck. She really needed to go to the spa and get a massage. Deciding to take a break, she minimized the program that she was currently in and opened her email. She was hoping to hear something from her half-brother Jack. He was graduating from high school soon, and he had been keeping her informed of his college search.
Cuddy had not been particularly close to her father's new family. He and her mother had divorced soon after she had graduated from high school, and he had not expended much effort to keep in touch with her since then. She had gone to his wedding to Cheryl, a woman not much older than she was, a few years later, and she had sent presents when her brothers were born. Her father then failed to attend her med school graduation and she had decided to stop hoping for a close relationship with him. It hurt too much. She sent the boys something for Christmas (they weren't Jewish) and their birthdays each year, and that was the extent of her relationship with them.
That was until about six months ago when Jack had emailed her saying that he wanted to get to know his older sister, and she had responded. They had been exchanging a couple of emails a week since then. Cuddy liked her younger brother. He had a wry sense of humor and seemed to enjoy his life. She had no idea if her father knew that they were communicating. Jack never mentioned him. She'd rather assume that Jack hadn't told him then to find out that her father didn't care enough to even say, "Tell your sister I said hi." Even after all of these years, his indifference still had the power to hurt her.
She scanned her email and felt a pang of disappointment that there was nothing there. Before she could get back to work, her door swung open violently and House ambled in waving a piece of paper around as his eyes glittered dangerously. Her newest secretary was right behind him.
"Dr. Cuddy, I'm so sorry. He just rushed past me."
"It's all right, Gladys," Cuddy assured the woman with an amused smile. "I was expecting Dr. House to drop by sometime this afternoon." She knew exactly what he was here about. Her secretary gave House a nervous smile and closed the door behind her.
House slammed the piece of paper down on her desk in front of her. "Why is there $250.00 taken out of my paycheck for 'Cafeteria Services'?" he asked angrily.
Cuddy picked up his paycheck and smiled at the deduction. "It's to cover those times when you forgot to pay for something at the cash register."
"$250.00! I haven't stolen anywhere near that amount of food!"
"Well I did tell the ladies in the cafeteria to estimate how much they thought you'd stolen this week. They must think you're a bigger thief than you actually are," Cuddy replied smoothly.
"They're the thieves!"
"Oh suck it up! If you want this to stop then you can, you know, actually pay for the damn food you take out of the cafeteria. You make a lot of money, House, and you live like a hermit. You can afford to pay a dollar for a bag of chips."
House stared at her for a moment. "So I can't steal from you, but it's all right for you to steal from me?"
"Please," Cuddy said with a snort. "You have stolen at least $250.00 worth of food in the six years since you've been here." She paused. "You have a choice, you can either start paying for your food or you can continue to allow the cafeteria ladies to estimate the amount of food that you've stolen. It's completely up to you."
He smiled. "Oh you think that you've won, but I'll find some other way to get you."
"I'm sure you will," Cuddy replied. "Now, you have clinic duty in fifteen minutes, and I have a meeting that I have to get ready for," she said to dismiss him. House just sat down and smiled at her.
"House," Cuddy began in a threatening tone.
"Like you said, I don't have to be at the clinic for fifteen minutes, and I thought we could talk about that request for a new staff member."
"You are not getting a Swedish masseuse named Heidi to be at your beck and call."
"Come on," he pleaded. "I'll even let you borrow her every once in a while. As long as you let me watch, of course."
Cuddy was prevented from replying by her phone ringing. She glared at House who sat back with a grin as she picked up the phone.
"Gladys, I don't have time to talk to anyone--," she started.
"I know, Dr. Cuddy, but there's a Jack on line one for you. He says he's your brother and that it's a family emergency."
Cuddy felt her stomach shift uncomfortably. "Okay. Thanks Gladys," she said. "You," she gestured to House. "Out."
House raised his eyes in surprise and got up and walked slowly to the door. Cuddy didn't pay him any attention as she pressed the line to connect to her brother.
"Jack, what's wrong?" she asked worriedly. House stopped at hearing her say a man's name and turned around with narrowed eyes.
Cuddy noticed that House had stopped moving. "Hold on a second," she instructed her younger brother. "Leave or I'll double your clinic hours this week," she said in a forceful tone. House examined her closely before turning around and leaving her office. Cuddy sighed in exasperation as she turned back to her brother. "I'm sorry, Jack. Go on," she instructed.
"It's Dad. He's been sick." Cuddy felt the shock shiver through her body. She couldn't imagine her father ill. He was never sick.
"What's wrong? Why didn't you tell me?" she asked.
"Things are so weird between the two of you; it was just easier not mentioning it. Besides, Dad's been acting like it's not a big deal so it's been easy to pretend that it wasn't serious."
"He's in the hospital. They don't know what's going on, and Mom's starting to freak out, and Dad's being Dad, and the doctor's a jerk who won't explain what's going on to us. Can you come?"
"Please, Lisa. Mom needs a doctor here that she trusts and who is patient enough to explain things to her. And I think Dad's about ready to go on a rampage here if he doesn't get some answers soon."
Cuddy took a shuddering breath. A part of her didn't want to see her father again. It had taken her a long time to accept her place --or lack thereof -- in his life. It still hurt. But what if this was her last chance to set things right between them? She felt like she had to at least try, or she would regret it.
"Okay. I need to get some things straightened out here before I head over to Philly. What hospital is he in, and who is his doctor?"
"He's at Franklin. It seems like he's got about a million doctors, but Smythe is the name of the guy who seems to be leading the pack. He's an ass though."
Cuddy chuckled a little into the phone. "Dealing with asses is my specialty. I'll call you back and let you know when I should get there. Jack, did you tell Dad and your mom that you were going to call me?" she asked
He was silent for a moment. "No," he confessed.
Cuddy exhaled. "Okay, I need for you to tell them before I call you back. I don't want it to be a big surprise when I get there."
"I will," he promised and then hung up. Cuddy pulled up her calendar on the computer and started rescheduling and delegating her appointments and responsibilities.
House closed the door to Cuddy's office behind him. 'Who the hell is Jack?' he wondered to himself in annoyance. House prided himself on his ability to keep informed about the comings and goings of Cuddy's life, and the thought that she might have someone new in her life that he knew nothing about was … unsettling.
He gave a quick glance to Cuddy's new secretary. (Well, he admitted to himself, newest secretary. Cuddy's secretaries rarely stayed long enough to deserve to be called her old secretary. She blamed him, of course. But was it really his fault if she continued to hire people who couldn't take a joke? He didn't think so).
The new one was an older, round-faced woman who was looking at him nervously. He offered her his most charming smile. She might, he decided, know who this Jack character was.
"I'm sorry about before," he said in an apologetic voice. "Dr. Cuddy did something that surprised me a bit, and I lost my temper. I didn't mean to take it out on you."
The woman (What was her name? Glade? Glenys?) looked at him in surprise, but returned his smile.
"That's all right, Dr. House. Thank you for the apology."
"Well when I'm wrong, I feel like I should admit it," he told her as he walked to her desk and sat down on the corner of it.
She smiled at him and pulled out a bag of cookies from under her desk. "Would you like a cookie?" she asked shyly.
"Chocolate chip?" he asked and reached out his hand when she nodded. He bit into the cookie. He barely controlled his gag reflex and managed, what he hoped was, a pleasure-filled smile at the noxious tasting monstrosity that was torturing his taste buds.
"Mmmmm," he said. "Homemade?" he asked.
"Yes. It's my own recipe."
"They're as … delightful as you are," House said with a forced smile as he immediately decided that this lady had to go. She was a public health danger with these cookies. "Well," he said wanting to get his information so he could go wash out his mouth, "Jack certainly put Cuddy in a bad mood."
"Well he did say it was a family emergency," she responded. She then looked thoughtful. "I didn't realize that Dr. Cuddy had such a young brother. He sounded barely old enough to be in college," she commented.
The proverbial light bulb went off in House's head. He remembered her mentioning back at Michigan that she had two younger half-brothers from her father's second marriage. He did some quick calculating in his head and he figured out that the oldest one was probably either a senior in high school or in the middle of his first year of college.
He realized that Gladiola was talking again. "Of course, some people just sound young. My dear Hubert always sounded much younger than he was-,"
"Oh would you look at the time? I've got clinic duty." He got off the desk and headed towards the clinic. "Dr. Cuddy pulls out the whips if I'm even thirty seconds late," he said a fearful voice.
He stopped and got some chewing gum from the candy machines before he signed in, grabbed a patient, quickly diagnosed him with crotch rot, and sent him on his merry way. House stretched out on the exam table and continued his earlier musings about Cuddy and her family.
It was surprising, really, that for as long as they'd known each other, he knew very little about her family. The only reason that he knew about her brothers was that he'd run into while she was shopping for a birthday present or something. Cuddy had always shied away from talking about her family, and since he had a similar reluctance to talk about his, he hadn't pressed her at the time.
If it was a family emergency then that probably meant that Papa Cuddy was sick. He closed his eyes and remembered Cuddy's expression for those brief seconds before she kicked him out of her office. She's been worried, that was for sure, but there was also a hint of … trepidation.
He mulled over the fact that it was her brother who had called to give Cuddy the bad news and not her stepmother. Did that mean that she was incapacitated too? Had they both been in some sort of accident?
House closed his eyes and let his mind follow the different possibilities. He was so engrossed in his musings that he didn't hear the exam room door open and close again.
Cuddy was torn between amusement and annoyance as she watched House lying on the exam table with his hands laced behind his head. He wasn't asleep. His face wasn't relaxed enough, but he definitely wasn't doing his job.
She approached the table and the clicking of her heels tore him from whatever daydream he had been lost in. He turned towards her and gave her a small smile.
"You've only seen one patient this morning," she chided him.
"I've been distracted by personal problems," he told her as he sat up.
"Personal problems? You?"
"Not my personal problems," he corrected. "Yours."
"Mine?" she asked, her voice rising.
"I'm trying to figure out if it's just your dad that's sick or if your step mom is in the hospital too."
Cuddy's eyes widened in shock and House enjoyed the moment. "Do you have my office bugged?" she asked.
Cuddy rolled her eyes and sighed. "It's my father," she told him as she sat down next to him on the table. I'm leaving tonight for Philly. I would ask you to behave, but I know that's an impossibility."
"So I'm telling Cameron to keep me informed of any wild and unethical procedures that you want to perform."
"Babysitter," Cuddy corrected and felt herself relax for the first time since Jack's call.
Bantering with House had somehow helped her to regain her equilibrium. She was Dr. Lisa Cuddy, and if she could deal with Gregory House on a daily basis, then she could certainly handle her father.
They sat there for a moment in companionable silence before Cuddy scooted back off the table. "Anyways, you need to see at least three more patients before you leave today," she said in her best administrative tone of voice.
He groaned in response.
"And House," she said with a warning in her voice. "Don't blow anything up while I'm gone."
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