She blinked in disgust and tossed the stick of plastic into the garbage. Her second in-vitro attempt hadn't been any more successful than the first; and the initial disappointment she had made mental assurances to herself that she wouldn't get her hopes up; that she wouldn't invest in an empty idea. But again, the blow was crushing. Again her body had betrayed its most basic femininity. Again she was left devastated on the edge of her bathtub, with only the sound of the water heater and the incessant squeak that her tired eyes made when she blinked.
Where the hell was he?
Her life was grounded in the structure of consistency; she liked that she could rely on certain inevitabilities in her world. It was inevitable that her mother would call her at eight o'clock on Sunday and Thursday and that the conversation would run exactly one hour. It was inevitable that once a week the coffee shop she visited every morning would use skim milk in her latte rather than soy. She found confidence in inevitability; it meant she could anticipate Cameron's presence outside her office two days into a treatment of a patient and set aside the time it would take to deal with the young woman's boss. But there was one inevitability that she counted on more than the rest; one that had failed her twice. It was inevitable that House would be made right in a diagnosis; on two occasions that mattered to her, he hadn't been.
He had said he would be there soon.
Pushing herself up from the cool ceramic ledge of tub, Cuddy paused to look at herself in the mirror. The old adage that the eyes were the window to the soul reverberated through her sluggish mind; she was suddenly interested to see if her blue orbs appeared as empty as her soul felt. What she found was not emptiness; what she found was a level of fatigue unmatched by sixty straight hours of on call work. It was a fatigue that suffused the mental, stealing her energy to hope and despair. She left the bathroom and her disappointment with it.
He was an hour late.
The floor of her bedroom caught the skirt and shirt she tore from her body. From her drawer she extracted a soft cotton tank top and matching shorts. There was an internal divide between wanting to wrap her body in comfort and dressing in the sexiest lingerie she owned as though to remind herself that she was a woman.
Before she could cover her scantly clad form, the phone rang. Sighing, she rubbed a slender hand at her temple and glanced at the receiver's display. The name that appeared on the screen prompted her to lift the device to her ear.
"I haven't moved my house so you can't say you got lost." Cuddy forced levity into her tone.
"I was on my way there when the blue and white decided to cuff me and haul me in," he drawled evenly.
"I'm surprised it's taken them this long to arrest you. What were the charges? Assault with a sharp tongue and pompus ego?" She played into what she figured was his joke.
"Officially I think they're going with driving while impaired. But I'll recommend your charges to them," he deadpanned.
She was silent a beat as the wheels turned. "You're serious," she intoned with realization.
"Serious as a thermometer up a guys ass," the harder edge to his comment led Cuddy to believe he was glaring at someone. "Think you can justify bail money to accounting on my list of department expenses?"
"Thermom – ohhhh." Cuddy groaned. "You didn't apologize to the clinic guy."
"I'm sure I did. Something must have gotten lost in the translation." Houses' shrug was audible. "So what do ya say Cuddy, come spring me from the clank? I'm sure the kind officers will give us a bit of time to play out your naughty prisoner fantasy."
Rubbing her forehead in an effort to rid it of the tension House had managed to pile there, she sighed. "I'll be there soon. Do yourself a favour and keep your mouth shut," she warned and hung up.
Foregoing the pajama set, Cuddy chose a pair of dark jeans and a tight-knit sweater. She had been hoping that House would take her mind off the negative pregnancy test still taunting her from the hollows of her bathroom but once more she had underestimated the form the distraction had taken. Double checking her purse for cell phone, wallet and cheque book as she did each time she left the house she dropped into her Lexus and took off for the police station.
A young office opened the door to the holding cell, quirking an eyebrow at House who was sulking against the far wall. His cane had been confiscated for his safety and the safety of others in the enclosed space but he refused to sit. House merely leveled him with a smirk.
"Your wife posted bond for your sorry ass." He held out the cane on the other side of the barred door. More than a few of the guys on the force had fallen over themselves to help the dark haired woman with the soulful blue eyes.
"She happens to like my ass and she's not my wife." House took the cane from the officer. "I was hoping that would be Freddy over there," he pointed out the man who was passed out drunk sitting on the bench in the cell, "but you got here before I could ask him."
Limping down the hallway, Tritter stood unmoving at the end. His face was impassable as he eyed House's approach. No man desisted in their proverbial pissing contest but Tritter did shift to cross his arms over his chest. House stepped passed him but slowed when his low gravely tones washed over him.
"You're so determined to be a miserable prick that you don't even realize what you have," he accused.
House turned sideways, not wanting to give the man the benefit of his full attention. "You should think about a career change. There are professionals who make hundreds in an hour for the psychoanalysis you're handing out."
Tritter ignored him. His jaw clenched around his words, "There's a woman out there who seems to think there's something about you worth her time. She appears reasonable enough so there must be something redeemable; it's unfortunate that you're too self-serving to ever actually be redeemed." He took a step toward House. "It's only a matter of time before you make her as miserable as you are."
House continued down the hallway and out into the station. He told himself that he had refrained from responding to the Detective's snide conclusions because he didn't want to waste his time on the man but a tiny part of him acknowledged that that man had spoken a simple truth. His blue gaze caught Cuddy's across the bustling room – there was something in her cobalt orbs that he had rarely seen; she usually excelled at concealing her emotions but tonight they had surmounted her defenses. He tilted his head to the side in measured assessment but she forestalled him by shaking her head once and exiting the precinct.
The ride back to her house was short and made in silence. Cuddy was knee deep in her own thoughts and the effort to maneuver around other motorist. House had always appreciated that verbal communication was unnecessary between the two them but whatever was happening behind her blue eyes that evening - he was an unwanted visitor in her head.
"I'm gonna go to bed," Cuddy said as soon as they arrive in the house.
"Thanks for coming to get me," he shifted uncomfortably. "I'm really too pretty for prison," he smirked.
Cuddy smiled for the first time that night. "I already have four doctors who can't be on-call because of DUIs. The last thing you needed was a legitimate reason not to come into work on time."
"I'm going to grab a shower." House followed her back to her room.
Ten minutes later Cuddy felt the bed dip behind her. She didn't know what he was doing – they didn't sleep together – in any sense of the meaning. Soft fingertips floated down her arm and wrapped around her middle. In that instant she realized he knew. He had looked through her garbage in her office; it shouldn't surprise her that he did so in her bathroom. She tensed under his gentle caress.
"The in-vitro failed." His mouth was positioned directly over her shoulder, his breath warming the exposed skin. She was grateful for his wording whether he intended to soften the blow or not. The procedure had failed, not her.
"The guestroom's across the hall," she intoned quietly.
House ignored her comment. "The in-vitro isn't working cause the odds suck. Twenty percent success rate wouldn't even be a viable medical procedure in any other medical field. It was going to be my sperm anyway, let's use a procedure that will increase the odds." His lips brushed her shoulder while his hand slipped beneath the hem of her shirt.
Her eyes closed against the sensations her body had long been deprived of. "I'm not even ovulating," she breathed out in a sigh when his lips found her neck.
"John's Hopkins has promising research that suggests women ovulate more than once a month – sometimes up to three times depending on the woman."
His argument was weak but she needed this. She needed to feel loved and whole and she needed those things from him. Rolling over slightly, she shifted beneath him and captured his lips in a desperate kiss.
Five Weeks Later
He had beaten the charges with a little help from Cuddy and Wilson and had just finished solving another case. Pushing open the door to his office, he strode to his desk with more enthusiasm than he had felt since the effects of the Ketamine had begun to wane. Lately he had been feeling out a comfortable balance to the new dynamic in his longstanding relationship with Cuddy. They had always found time to spend together, now their time was merely spent on a larger variety of activities.
Atop his desk there was a small box with a green bow wrapped around the outside and a card sized envelope rested beside it. He looked up, flitting his gaze over the room, checking for the prying eyes of his staff before popping open the sealed flap of the card. The cardboard inside was store bought and muted in design on the front. His brow furrowed as he devoured the text with curious interest.
A Father Is,
A Father is someone who chases away the monster under the bed
A Father is someone who tells a joke to brighten a bad day
A Father is someone who can make right a wrong
A Father is….
He opened the card.
….the guy who knocked up my Mom!
Love, The Peanut.
In the bow tied box rested a piece of plastic similar to one he had seen in Cuddy's bathroom garbage over a month before. Only this test contained the letters POS in the small window. As it turned out, House was always, eventually right.