Summary: She was an addict. She could admit it to herself; she could even admit it to House. But never once had she told another soul who knew her name. And never once had that bothered her.

Author's Note: Time period? Um… I envisioned it as way back when, probably before the infarction. But I don't mentioned specifics, so you can really make it whenever you want.

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Addiction

She didn't know why she did it in the first place. She had been operating on fifty-six hours of consciousness and with no sleep in sight. It was four in the morning, another of her patients had just been admitted to surgery for an abdominal hemorrhage, and there it was. She didn't know what she was doing as her hand reached out, picking up the small cup and tipping its contents into her mouth. But with a suddenness she wasn't prepared for, fifty hours of sleeplessness escaped her. The nurse walking in startled her but she jumped mostly because of the extra energy she suddenly possessed. She didn't say a word to the nurse and the woman hardly spared her a glance.

Even after the second time, she didn't feel worried. She didn't even think about it all that much later. She was tired again- another long night, another tough case, another day of hard work. Her patient refused the medicine she had tried to give him. She was supposed to return it to the pharmacy; somehow she found herself swallowing it instead.

It happened so slowly that she hardly noticed. At some point she started thinking about it. She found her gaze straying on the pharmacy just too long when she walked by. She found herself detouring to pass by there far too often. But it never worried her. It was an understandable impulse. She was tired and before it had helped. But that was all. It wasn't a problem unless she actually did it.

Even after Mr. Tomkins had arrived under her care, she still didn't think anything about it. She wrote out a script for a stimulant. He only needed two- just for that night- but the pharmacist handed her four. She had slipped the two into her pocket. The pharmacist never questioned her; Mr. Tomkins never knew; no one ever saw her when she tipped the pills into her mouth.

She still didn't think she had a problem even as she started doctoring the scripts she wrote. An extra pill here; another there. She was getting more sleep. They hadn't had a problematic patient in weeks. She even had a long weekend away from work. She didn't worry about the fact that she wasn't tired anymore even as she swallowed the pills out of everyone's sight. She didn't think about the fact that she was slowly adding more extra pills to patient's scripts. She didn't worry because she didn't have a problem.

It was the first time that she wrote a script for an imaginary patient that she worried. She didn't worry as she wrote it. She didn't worry as she walked down to the pharmacy to fill it. She didn't worry as she opened it and down the top two pills in the bottle. She didn't worry until she turned, her hand dropping the bottle into her lab coat pocket, to see House standing there. He was looking at her awkwardly. She tried to smile hello and walk around him but his hand grabbed her wrist. The look on his face twisted her gut. For the first time she felt guilty.

She noticed that he was watching her more, but he never said anything. It took three months for anyone to say anything. In one week, she was late to work twice. Her boss noticed; she was never late, it just wasn't in her. She had claimed she was sick.

Two weeks later, House was in her office when she walked in. He just sat in her chair, feet on her desk, as he watched her huff at him. She ignored him, setting her purse on the coat rack, shortly followed by her coat. He commented on her weight loss; she told him that she had been sick. He commented on how much she had been eating lately; she teased him about stalking her. He commented on the four days she had been late to work; she brought back the fact that she had been sick; he didn't buy that as an excuse. He asked about the pill bottle she kept hidden in her lab coat pocket; she kicked him out of her office.

She had gone to medical school; she knew the symptoms. But she didn't want to see hers. Not until she nearly killed a patient. She couldn't focus and she didn't pay attention when she looked over her patient's file. She missed something important, something obvious. It was the first time she felt lucky that House was constantly looking over her shoulder. He was the only reason her patient was still alive.

House didn't look surprised the first time she told him. Her didn't turn away from her or scold her; he didn't yell at her for her stupidity or her blindness. He didn't claim that she had endangered every patient under her for the past months. He knew that she had already thought of all that. Instead he held out his hand and she pulled the bottle from her pocket. He glanced at it, confirming what she knew he already knew. He offered comfort through his eyes and through the gentle way he spoke to her.

She never went to rehab. House controlled how many pills she had, slowly weaning her off them. She felt odd going to him every couple of hours to get her fix. She felt even worse at the idea that she had to stop herself from going too soon. She felt horrible at the way her mind would wander away from her patient when it became time to go find House again. She altered her schedule to keep from walking by the pharmacy; sometimes she even had House fill her prescriptions for her. She couldn't believe how easily she had let a tiny thing control her life.

The first day she went to House and he had nothing for her, she was surprised at her reaction. She wanted to yell at him. She wanted to claim that he was withholding it from her. He told her she was ready to be without it. She didn't know how he did it, but he got her out of work that day. It was a slow recovery. Baby steps, he had told her. He stopped filling prescriptions for her; she stopped detouring to avoid the pharmacy. She started going to meetings; he checked in on her. And then at some point she stopped thinking about it, the patterns they had fallen into started to degrade, and suddenly it was a secret in the past that neither of them would ever talk about again.

She was an addict. She could admit it to herself; she could even admit it to House. But never once had she told another soul who knew her name. And never once had that bothered her.

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Author's Note: I originally wanted to do something with House's addiction and then insert these little snippets of her past in between. But then I couldn't figure out the House part and decided to leave it simply all about Cuddy.

I hope you like it. Hugs,

JD