AN: Written for the challenge on the LJ community HouseficPens, to create 100-word drabbles using random song titles as prompts. I wasn't satisfied with the first set of drabbles I did (which are on under "Too Long In The Wasteland") and wanted to try again, this time with two sets of linked drabbles using the same prompts, one focusing on House and Wilson and their relationship with House's pain and pain meds, one of the evolution of House and Cuddy's relationship.

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Poor Lost Soul

Wilson hears the thud from the hallway. He glances through the door, waves off the nurse and walks in. He picks up the paperback from the floor. "I think you dropped this."

"Leave it."

Wilson tosses the book onto the dresser and picks up the newspaper. "Want this instead?"

"Can't concentrate. I keep reading the same paragraph over and over," House says. "We need to change the meds."

"You've only been on the OxyContin for two days, give it time."

"I can't think. I can't ..." House shakes his head. "Get them to change the meds." He stares at Wilson. "Please."

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One True Love

Vicodin isn't as strong as OxyContin. It isn't as non-addictive as ibuprofen. But House claims that it works.

Wilson sees House massage his thigh as it cramps up. "Hate to disagree with you, but ..."

"It works good enough," House says. "I can deal with this."

Wilson wonders how bad the pain was before, if this is what House now considers tolerable. But House isn't complaining about pain, only boredom.

Wilson opens his briefcase and pulls out the journals that had been gathering dust on House's desk. "I grabbed everything I could find."

House takes them with a nod. "Find more."

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Are We Almost There?

Wilson isn't sure when House begins taking two of the Vicodin regularly, rather than just one, but one day realizes that he downed two while they sat in his office. He sees him do the same thing the next night, then again a few days later.

"Bad morning," House says with a shrug. He shakes the bottle. "There should be enough to last until my appointment Friday when I have to convince Dr. Scrooge to pry open the pillbox."

"You been running out?"

"Not yet," House says. "We're just having a disagreement about the meaning of the words 'as needed.'"

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The Path of Thorns

"Simpson doesn't understand." House looks out the window into the rain.

"So convince him," Wilson says. "He's your doctor, I'm not. Or get Cuddy to write the prescription."

"He doesn't get pain. Neither does Cuddy. You do. Or at least that's what your patients say."

"That's different. I'm your friend, not your doctor. It's a bad idea to get those confused."

"You can be both," House says. "Be a friend and help me control my pain."

Wilson shakes his head. He taps his pen against the desk once, twice. He reaches for the prescription pad. "Just this once," he says.

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Dancing With the Women at the Bar

Wilson wishes they hadn't come. He hadn't even wanted a bachelor party. This will be his third marriage, Julie's second.

"We want to keep everything low key," he'd said.

"Right, so we'll only hit two strip clubs," House replied. "After all, we wouldn't want the new in-laws to think you're perverted."

He'd agreed to it because House was looking forward to it, and realized House hadn't been bar hopping since the infarction.

Two hours into the evening, he can see House leaning heavily on the cane, sees him down two Vicodin with a Coke, and wishes he hadn't given in.

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The Dress Looks Nice on You

There are just two attendants for the wedding. Originally they planned on three, but when Stacy left House, they decided to make it easy and cut the size of the wedding party.

When Julie's first bridesmaid appears, Wilson senses House stiffen beside him. He remembers seeing the cut and style of her dress when Stacy had modeled it -- a simple cocktail dress, in keeping with the simple plans for the wedding.

"You can sit, if you want," Wilson whispers.

House shakes his head. "I'm fine."

Wilson can see House's knuckles turn white as he tightens his grip on the cane.

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All My Loving

Wilson apologizes on his way out for the call that had woken Julie before 5 a.m., then apologizes that he'll be late tonight because of a meeting.

"Poor James," she says with a smile. "Everybody wishes there were more of you to go around."

House is at his office when he gets there. Wilson hands over one pill, then a second when House keeps his hand out.

"You should have told me you were running low," Wilson says. "I would have gotten you the scrip earlier, if you'd asked."

"Thought I could make it through the night. I was wrong."

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Free Money

Wilson looks over the brochures from the drug rep, focusing on the latest non-opioid pain killers.

Each comes with its own list of side effects. There's no way to predict how anyone will react to the meds. It's all trial and error, trying to find the right pill -- or the right combination of pills -- that will help.

"I've got some samples of that," the rep says.

Wilson wonders if House would be willing to try something new, or if he'll refuse -- again -- preferring to stick with what he knows.

"I'll take them," Wilson says. Maybe this time it will work.

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Blush

The first massage had been a gift from Julie.

"Ingrid's amazing," she'd said. "She'll make you feel like a new man."

"I thought you liked the man I was now," he'd teased.

Julie hadn't mentioned Ingrid's stunning looks, and Wilson hesitates a moment before getting undressed, embarrassed by his own reaction. But as he lies on his stomach, he feels her fingers loosen the tight muscles along his shoulders, and at the base of his neck, relieving years of stress in minutes. He wonders how much training she's had, and how she would work with damaged nerves and thigh muscle.

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Terry

Wilson checks with the new pharmacist on his first day and tries to calm the waters even before House has shown up. House has used other pharmacies when he has to, but PPTH is the easiest place to pick up his supply. It's also easiest on everyone else when there aren't any glitches in the system.

"Call my office, any time you need authorization," Wilson says. "We'll clear the prescription."

"You know I'll need something in writing."

"You will," Wilson assures him. "I appreciate your understanding." Terry seems comfortable with the situation. Wilson isn't sure if that's a good thing.

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Orphan Girl

The first few days after House handles Crandall's daughter's case he seems calmer, more relaxed -- the pain back under control.

"I took something," House says.

Wilson doesn't ask anything, but House knows what he's thinking.

"One of your sleeping potions," House says. "I must have slept for twelve hours and didn't do anything for another ten after that. It must have worked itself out overnight."

Wilson wants to believe him. He's seen House's pain level ebb and flow before, so he ignores the voice in the back of his head trying to tell him that's not what happened this time.

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The Sun Comes Through

House passes through the worst of the Vicodin detox while he's sleeping through the Ketamine coma.

When he's ready to check out Cameron brings House's jacket from his office. He pulls it on, and they hear a rattle in the pocket. House holds the half-filled bottle in his hand, staring at the plastic, at his name on the label. He tosses it to Wilson. "Throw those out, will you?" he says. "I won't be needing them."

Wilson finds himself hesitating, just as House had. He sees his own name on the bottle, just above House's. He lets the bottle fall.

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Settle For Me

When House shows up with the cane, Wilson feels his stomach clench. He pushes down the emotion, forces himself to keep a neutral look on his face.

House taps the end of the cane against the wood. "I'll take those off your hands now."

Wilson reaches into his desk drawer. His hands touch the bottle of Vicodin stashed there a day earlier. He hands it over, but can't bring himself to look House in the eye.

"I'll even make it easy on you and avoid the uncomfortable phrase 'I told you so,' just to ease your guilty conscience," House says.

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The Dress Looks Nice On You

Jeans would be more practical, but Cuddy is tired of looking just like everyone else on campus. She leaves the denim in the closet, and instead puts on a skirt and blouse that cling perfectly to her body, then adds her grandmother's silver necklace.

"If you're trying to make an impression, it's working," comes a familiar voice from a table at the coffee shop window when she stops for a break. "Of course, the impression is that you're relying on your breasts, rather than your brains, to get ahead -- which I would guess isn't the one you were going for."

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Free Money

Cuddy hates the job at the Student Union, forced to smile and give out campus information and directions, but she needs it for her scholarship.

The misery almost seems worth it when she sees House there, with two people who must be his parents. She's picked the most embarrassing anecdote possible by the time they near her desk.

"And next year," his mother is saying, "he'll be a full doctor, isn't that wonderful John?"

"He'd be a doctor already, if he hadn't screwed up," his father says. House just shakes his head.

Cuddy lets them pass, without saying a word.

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Dancing With The Women At The Bar

Some of the students talk Cuddy into coming with them to the Blind Pig. She's put them off for weeks, focusing on the MCAT, but she's too tired to argue.

It's Tuesday, no cover charge and half-priced drinks before 10 p.m. Cuddy doesn't recognize the name of the band that's playing. Some local group, someone says, and she walks in time to the beat.

She comes to a stop when she recognizes House on stage. He doesn't see her beyond the spotlights. He's bent over the keyboard and Cuddy realizes that it's the first time she's seen him look happy.

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Terry

Cuddy hates that she can't stop crying. He's a jerk. She knew that, but allowed herself to think he'd change.

The party continues on even as she makes her escape. She finds her coat, her purse, steps outside. Alone in the cold night air, the tears form again. Suddenly someone is there, handing over a package of tissues.

"I suppose this is the wrong time to say I told you so," House says, "about him being an idiot, I mean, not that you're gullible, though I suppose that's true too."

Cuddy wipes her eyes.

"Come on. I'll walk you home."

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Are We Almost There?

Cuddy catches a glimpse of House in the hallway his last week before heading east for his residency. He sold or gave away most of his stuff, only keeping what would fit in his car.

She doesn't know what she should say to him, or if she should say anything at all. She wonders if he'll remember her, or if she'll just become a slightly vague face from his past.

She tells herself she isn't sensing hero worship, no pedestal. He's an ass, she thinks. She always knew this. But then she wonders why she'll miss him when he's gone.

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Blush

It doesn't take Cuddy long to learn she needs a thick skin for hospital administration. The first time she chairs a committee and can veto decisions, people want to throw her off her game, make her so uncomfortable she'll give in.

"See the new study on the gender difference in science aptitude?" one guy asks.

"How badly did the boys do this time?"

"I've been hearing some complaints about the way you dress."

"Are those from the same people complaining about your bedside manner?"

Cuddy really should thank House some day. Compared to him, everyone else is easy to handle.

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Poor Lost Soul

Cuddy takes a chance on Princeton-Plainsboro. She's only been there once. She doesn't have any friends there, no mentors.

But every other hospital she's worked at hasn't quite fit. In Boston she felt never felt comfortable in the country club atmosphere that was the doctor's lounge. At Cleveland she was just another name.

When it's time to move on, she interviews at PPTH and Drew King in LA. House is on staff at Princeton. They never spoke when she was there. No one even brought up his name. But something tells her that this is the place she finally belongs.

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Settle For Me

Someone on the board suggests a lump sum payment to House, before House has even been discharged. His girlfriend is an attorney, they say. The two of them will take PPTH for everything they can.

Cuddy convinces them to wait. They haven't heard anyone threatening legal action, not even the whisper of a lawsuit. They may not take things to court at all.

Privately she doesn't expect House to come looking for an easy payoff. She thinks he wouldn't want to put a price on his leg. Besides, the hospital may have something to offer him more valuable than cash.

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The Path of Thorns

"Why is it so hard for you to grasp this concept?" Cuddy stands in House's new office, the duty roster for the clinic in her hand. "It's part of your contract, you're required to work in the clinic, and it's only two hours out of your life once a week."

"Exactly, two hours of my life wasted, Cuddy, and I've lost so much already." House taps his cane against the floor.

"Ten o'clock tomorrow, House. I'll be waiting." Cuddy heads out the door.

"Bring a book," House says. "It'll help you pass the hours when you're waiting all by yourself."

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The Sun Comes Through

House drops the charts onto Cuddy's desk. "Updated through January," he says. "Happy now?"

"Mildly pleased." She doesn't bother looking up from her papers. "I'll be happy when you're actually up to date on every month, not just three out of the past twelve."

"I thought slavery had been abolished."

"It's not slavery if you get paid."

"You stole my staff and put them to work in other departments. That's got to be illegal. Indentured servitude. Something like that."

"They're getting paid too," Cuddy says. "And they haven't complained at all in the past week. I wonder why. Any ideas?"

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Orphan Girl

The black eyed susans in Cuddy's back yard came from her mother's house. Alfredo had helped her transplant them after the funeral.

She remembers how tenderly he treated the flowers, cradling them in his hands before transferring them into the ground.

Now Cuddy watches from across the hallway as the occupational therapist talks to Alfredo. She tries to tell herself that he would have died if he hadn't gotten prompt treatment, but her thoughts aren't very convincing.

She turns to head back to her office, and catches sight of House, standing at the far end of the hall, watching her.

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All My Loving

House hasn't asked why she's pursuing the IVF. Cuddy guesses that it's because he'd rather figure it out on his own, but she's grateful she hasn't had to put it in words.

It would be easy to make excuses about biological clocks. But it's more than that.

She looks at the photo of her nieces. Inside her purse, there's a drawing one of them made during their last visit. There's her house in the background, her trees, her fence. The stick figure that's supposed to be her stands alone, two hands reaching out, with nothing and no one to grasp.

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One True Love

Cuddy clips her badge onto her lab coat. Every week she assigns herself to the same clinic duty that everyone else sees. She looks forward to it. Sure there are whiners, malingerers and hypochondriacs. but it's the only time she stops being an administrator.

Once she thought about stepping away from her desk, giving up the dean's title to practice medicine full time again. Then Andie was admitted, and somehow House gave her another year of life. Another year with her mother.

If House wasn't there, Andie wouldn't be there either. And if Cuddy wasn't there, where would House be?