I haven't written anything for awhile - and certainly nothing for House. Those warnings aside, this will definitely be Huddy (as it should be). Sadly, I don't own any of the characters, etc. - I'm just borrowing them to keep myself entertained. Here goes...
Chapter 1: Gambit
"So this guy's kidneys walk into a bar…."
"House," Cameron interrupted. "There's no way alcohol's causing all this."
"Did I mention the liver?"
"No, but – "
"I said his kidneys walked into a bar. And I didn't say they drank anything." He twirled his cane in one hand. "Maybe they tossed around a couple of darts, enjoyed some yummy peanuts soaked in somebody else's urine. Scored a couple of dirty hookers…."
"You think he might've picked up an STD somewhere?" Foreman asked.
House rolled his eyes, the ends of his cane spinning dangerously close to Chase's head as he reached over and grabbed a piece of paper off the table. "Did you even read these results?" He waved the blood tests wildly, crumpling the paper into a ball before tossing it in Cameron's direction. It fell short, and she lunged to catch it, missing and plucking the paper from the floor. "What a girly catch."
Cameron glanced up from the blood tests. "It was a lousy throw."
"When we take the kids to see the Special Olympics," House began, exaggerating his limp as he returned to the whiteboard, "you better stay at home."
"Could be a tumor," Foreman suggested. "If it's pressing on the – "
"Come on, people! Low calcium. High phosphate. Convulsions. It's not rocket science."
"Vitamin D deficiency," Chase offered.
"Hypoparathyroidism. It's textbook."
House smirked at the whiteboard. His back was to the door, but he would have known the voice even if he hadn't heard the familiar clicking heels approaching just seconds before. He had made a point of memorizing her footsteps when he had started at Princeton-Plainsboro. At first it had made avoiding her much easier. Then tracking her every move.
It was so much easier to catch your prey when it wore expensive heels.
He looked up. Cuddy was dressed in shades of blue today, a marked difference from the bright reds and pinks she had been sporting for over a week. Her blouse was buttoned too high to show any cleavage – a disappointment, but he could work around it. "Finally giving in and letting me play boss? Sweet."
She took a step inside the doorway, but didn't come any further. "Don't get any ideas. I still sign your paychecks."
There was none of the usual harshness in her words. Yesterday, she had marched after him into the men's room, practically tearing him from the urinal and frightening away the rest of the room's occupants as she had screeched about yet another rule he had broken. Today, she had announced her presence with a simple diagnosis and had yet to raise her voice. House was intrigued.
"I'll just wait until tonight." He grinned, waggling his eyebrows. "Your place at eight, right? You wear that Catholic schoolgirl outfit and I'll bring the ruler."
"Not everyone shares your idea of a good time, House," Cuddy sighed, leaning back against the doorframe.
"We know Chase does. And I'm sure Foreman can be easily persuaded." House turned toward his team, hiding his mouth from Cuddy with one hand and whispering loudly. "Seriously, those legs in a little plaid skirt and knee-highs – it's totally worth it."
His audience responded as usual: Cameron gawked; Foreman rolled his eyes; Chase shifted uncomfortably.
"House," Cuddy began, slowly, warningly. She had brushed off his comment gracefully, finding her shoes and focusing on them. "You were supp – "
"Little busy here," he interrupted, determined to get her to react. "The Scooby Gang's way off their A-game today."
Her eyes flicked to his for half a second, before quickly looking away. He waited just long enough to see her purse her lips before turning back to the board. He uncapped the marker with his teeth, enunciating the word as he scribbled. "Hy-po-para-thy-roid-ism."
"Fits perfectly," Foreman responded impatiently. "Except for the fact that we ruled it out half an hour ago. PTH levels were fine."
"Too many symptoms don't match," Cameron agreed. "This guy's like a train wreck."
"Tremor, muscle cramps," House stated, ticking them off on his fingers, "convulsions."
Foreman sighed. "All signs of a hundred other conditions that would also take into account the fever, bloody vomiting, and respiratory symptoms."
"Oh, so you want to treat him for a hundred other random conditions instead of one that might be right," House spat.
"No," Foreman countered, leaning back in his chair, "I just want to give him a treatment that will actually make him better."
"What a novel approach to medicine." Rather than glaring at Foreman, House glanced at Cuddy. She was being far too quiet, should have chimed in at least half a dozen times by now to counter him, or, at the very least, tell him why she was there. Her gaze swept in his direction, piercing his shoulder before traveling back to the floor.
Those few seconds studying Cuddy cost him control of the conversation, and Cameron swept in. "Sarcoidosis. It would explain the shortness of breath and fever."
Cameron was probably peering at him expectantly – no doubt waiting eagerly to be shot down – but she was just out of his peripheral vision. Cuddy was fingering her pearls.
"Vitamin D deficiency." This was Chase's input. Again.
Exasperated, House turned his attention from the Dean. "It would have been a lot less annoying if you had just given your lab coat to a parrot and stayed home today."
Chase straightened defiantly. "If it fits, I don't see why – "
"Thirty seconds for rebuttal." House interrupted, jabbing his cane at Cuddy.
She only needed one word. "Pseudo." Her arms still crossed, she looked past him out the window.
"Never cross a female endocrinologist when it's that time of the month," he informed his team, squeezing pseudo in front of hypoparathyroidism on the whiteboard. "They know how to get the most out of those raging hormones. Or in this case…."
The swish of a door broke his concentration. Cuddy had left the conference room and was making her way across his office next door with obvious intent. Her target: his phone, and she pounced on it immediately, twisting her head and cradling the receiver on her shoulder.
"You really should pay more attention to the calendar. It's color-coded. Red." He nodded at Cuddy, turning to face his team and pointing at Cameron. "Yellow. Chase, you're blue."
Chase ignored his comment. "When have you ever admitted Cuddy's right?"
"When has she ever been right?"
His pager went off, but he didn't bother to check it, glancing instead through the glass behind him. Cuddy hung up his phone, meeting and holding his stare for the first time, her eyes hard in an effort to mask something underneath. He knew it was there - now only needed to figure out what it was.
"IV calcium. MRI the head and neck. Check out the kidneys," he stated, pointing to Cameron, Foreman, and Chase in turn. "Treat this, then figure out what's killing him."
He limped through the door to his office without waiting for any response. Cuddy had seated herself behind his desk, effortlessly assuming as much authority as she did behind her own. She didn't get up as he approached, so he leaned on his cane, the desk between them, and gave his best Addams Family impression. "You rang."
"Phone works," was her quick reply. She leaned back in his chair, folding her arms over her chest. "Pager, too."
"Technology's so great, isn't it?"
"You were supposed to be in my office at eleven." Her voice was thin but steady, didn't quite match her usual frustrated force. Anyone else might not have noticed. "The Llewellyn-Kowalczyks stormed out after waiting for you for 45 minutes."
"The parents of the kid who will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, because you went against my orders and biopsied his brain." Her answer was quick but not as biting as it should have been. She didn't stand or raise her voice.
"But he does have a life, right?" Keeping up his end of their usual power play was second nature and his tone was sharp and jeering. He wondered how close he's have to get to her before she'd actually look him in the eye, and sidled around his desk, taking objects off it and making a show of peering underneath them. "People who insist on hyphenating names like those shouldn't be allowed to breed."
Cuddy had rested her forehead on one hand, massaging a temple with her thumb. She looked pale without anyone but him to impress, and for a moment he thought he saw through her careful makeup to the dark circles under her eyes. There was more to this than a paralyzed kid with a idiot parents. There had to be.
"House. You can't just…." Her voice trailed off, his chair squeaking as she shifted, sighing tiredly. "What are you doing?"
He ignored her, continuing his slow shuffle towards her, examining the objects on his desk. "Want me to help you find it?" Fully behind the desk now, he made a point of brushing up against her as he bent to look in his drawers. She sprung up and backed away from him just a little too quickly.
He offered her his most innocent smile, but she exchanged it for a frown. "Find what?"
"Your sense of humor." He nudged her aside with his cane and peered behind the TV. "It couldn't have gotten very far. We both know it's a little slow…."
She rolled her eyes, and that was a start. All he wanted was for her to respond to him as she normally would – with horror, disgust, wit, exasperation. He could feed off almost any verbal emotion, twist it and toss it back to the speaker. He didn't do well with silence.
"I don't have time for this," Cuddy murmured, her soft tone disappointing him. "And you should've been down in the clinic twenty minutes ago."
"Well, I'll just run down now and make up for lost time."
Cuddy nodded once, sidestepping him and leaving his office, not even seeming to notice that she had finally silenced him – without a word. He followed her as far as the door, fishing for his bottle of Vicodin, popping it open and swallowing a pill as he watched her make her way down the hall. She had never failed to remind him that he couldn't run anywhere.
What was it now – four months ago? Five? Either Cuddy hadn't yet realized the similar track they seemed to be taking or she was loath to admit it – he had all his chips on the latter. They had neither anticipated nor spoken of it that first time, and certainly wouldn't again. To all outward appearances and even between the two of them, nothing had changed.
There was a very good chance that this was going to be fun.
Please let me know what you think. I have a couple more chapters in the works, if you want them, and your reviews will help feed my muse.