Summary: House finds Cuddy crying in her office.


To most, House had no schedule, no perception of time to answer to. He existed in his own way.

But not many studied him to know that certain things were constants about him. Certain things could simply be counted on happening every day.

And that Tuesday morning was no different.

He would begin his day by arriving late- not too late as to be kept from missing anything good but not too early to get saddled with anything he didn't want. He would first hobble his way to his office, glance over the files he had, the paperwork he hadn't yet finished, and then he would be off again. It was important that no one could ever count on him being there around any particular time, other wise they might get to him before he could take off on the next part of his day.

Cuddy was his next step. Her office lay only a hobble or two away and down an elevator and on most days he took his time getting there. He wanted to catch her after her briefing, when she was more irritable than normal. He would barge in before the secretary- "assistant"- had time to stop him. On that Tuesday, it was Jules. Jules, because he was a smart young lad, had stopped putting up any sort of resistance weeks before. He only glanced up and offered a word of warning about her recent moodiness; House shrugged it off.

"Guten morgen, Herr Doktor." He called before he even found where in her office she was hiding. His eyes went first to the desk- where she always was- but she wasn't there. They went next to her couch, but no sitting or sleeping beauty awaited him. He finally slowed down enough to find her standing at the window, her hands curled around her arm. It was a peculiar stance for her, one he saw only when something was truly bothering her. Not something like him- not a headache that wouldn't go away- but a serious problem. The last time she had stood like that had been when her uncle had died. She stood in that same spot and her shoulders trembled in that same way and he knew when he got closer he would see the same moisture and silent tears. He wondered who had died- he didn't know much about her family.

He hadn't walked away last time, though he had considered it. She had tensed and wiped away the moisture. He had tried to reach out to her, but she had run away, hoisting her tired body back down into her desk chair. She had barked at him to leave and so he had reverted to banter and sarcasm. He hadn't helped.

He watched her, standing, trembling at the window. He considered leaving, to keep from making it harder on her. But he didn't move- overcome with a desire to stay there and comfort her and overcome with the necessity to leave before he made it worse.

He wondered randomly if it was the hormones playing with her system. Had someone at the board meeting said something to start the waterworks. But he doubted it. Something about the stance, about her position, about everything he knew about her told him it was something else and it was that understanding that led him deeper into the room. She heard him, he could tell by the way she stiffened slightly and her head tilted to the side as if turning to see him. He paused, giving her a chance to compose herself and sit if she wanted. She didn't. She continued to stand there; he even imagined that her tears began anew.

She didn't pull away as he expected her to- like last time- when he gently placed a hand on her elbow. He stood behind her so that he couldn't see her tears, even through he knew they were there. Slowly, nervously, his hand moved up from her elbow and onto her back. She didn't flinch away; he was surprised that she actually leaned back into the gentle caress. Her trembling had even stilled. It was encouragement for his hand to wrap around her shoulder. He shuffled closer, pulling her into his chest. He truly expected her to push him away, to wipe her checks with the back of her hand, and collapse into her desk chair. She would yell at him then for invading her privacy. Instead she twisted in his arms and tucked her head under his chin; he was overcome by the soft feel of her hair and the delicate fragrance of her shampoo.

He wanted to know what had upset her- upset her so much that she would seek comfort in him. But he didn't dare ask and risk watching her push away and shut back down. He thought hard, but nothing struck him. Hormones was all he could come up with. His jaw slacked and his eyes widened slightly as the solution came to him.

"I'm sorry. I probably got mascara on your jacket."

"It's okay."

The contact had lasted too long and he knew that she would pull away soon. And she did, but only a little, enough to find his eyes. They were red and puffy, tears moistened beneath her eyes- making the blue orbs sparkle in the sunlight. And she was right, mascara had run off, following the tear streaks down her face. He just smiled, a gentle smirk that he saved for rare moments like that.

"It didn't work." He just nodded.

"I'm sorry," he said in a sigh. With his cane leaning against his leg, he reached up, gently brushing away the tears and streaks of black.

"We can try again, if you want."

She sighed but nodded back to him. "Yeah."

"It'll be all right."

She just looked at him, a shadow of a smile gracing her sad eyes. "Thank-you."