A/N: This is my first House fic, so please, if anyone has any suggestions or comments on the character's voices, let me know. There won't be any actual case involved - I'm in the writing mood, just not the researching mood.
Disclaimer: I don not own any of the characters associated herein, and am deriving no monetary gain from them, just the pleasure of playing.
Her toes curled into the carpeting under her desk as she stared at the pile of paperwork that never seemed to end in front of her. Some days, she felt like she did the same thing, over and over again. Sign this, balance that, memo this, contact them, play politics with donors, sign this, yell at House, approve that. Wash, rinse, repeat. Her days seemed like a never ending repetition at times. Except for the days it didn't, and those days usually involved their own routine. Argue about treatment with House, wait, argue about tests with House, wait, argue about diagnosis with House, get involved and somewhere along the way remember she was a doctor, and not just an administrator. It seemed like those days were happening more often now, and as much as she liked to play the hard ass with him, secretly, she liked it. Liked being reminded why exactly she was doing this job again. She didn't try to suck money out of rich donors clutches because she could, but because the money did something. Helped people, helped patients. And for that reason alone, she would keep House in her hospital. It wasn't the only reason, but it was a big one.
Frowning, she allowed her feet to play with her shoes which were abandoned under her desk, tilting one from foot to foot as her thoughts wandered away from the paperwork in front of her. She could pin point the exact moment he had become House to her. The exact moment she had referred to him that way, and the last moment she had ever called him Greg. What she couldn't quite pinpoint was when she had started thinking that way too. When had he just become House in her thoughts? The mere thought of it caused a cloying thickness to rise in her throat, because deep down she knew when Greg had become House. It was all part of her plan. The less she thought of him as Greg, the less she remembered him. Greg. The one who had challenged her in med school, the one who had laughed at her jokes, who had made her play just as hard as she worked. The man she had loved twenty years ago, and who, for some reason, she couldn't quite stop loving. She had tried – it had been the plan. She was good with plans, she should be. She planned almost every aspect of her life from where she went to school, to what hospital she worked in first, to what career accomplishments she achieved. All planned.
Her plans rarely failed, and usually when they did, it was his fault. She had planned on making him love her in school – but he had screwed that up just by being him. Closed off, unattainable. Friendly, but never too friendly right up until the point he left. Then he hadn't called, and she'd been too proud to do it for him, and it all sort of drifted after that. Until the day she hired him. When his file had crossed her desk, she had smiled to herself as that tiny little part of her heart had rejoiced. The corner that loves seeing ex-boyfriends years later, out of shape and unsuccessful. The part that sometimes sees those exes and still cares, just the tiniest little bit. He wasn't her ex, but she was in a position of power. So she had gone against everyone else's recommendations, and hired him. At the very least, she had known he was brilliant. And then he had walked into her hospital over ten years ago, and with him had been Stacy. And suddenly, just because he showed up – the plan had failed. She hadn't even been aware of the plan until that moment, but he had walked in with a smile, a hug and a girlfriend, and there with barely a whisper of a sound, her plan had shattered around her, laying on the spotless tiled floor.
So she walked around it, a smile hiding any disbelief in her eyes, and she had called him House. And other than a twitch of an eyebrow and a derisive snort, he had nodded, and called her Cuddy. So the last time she had called him Greg was on the phone, telling him that she had a position available, and would he be interested? The last time he called her Lisa was after he woke from the surgery. When he was so angry at her, at Stacy, at the world – he had tried everything to get rid of her and she refused to move. After all, what was a little abuse? She had stood by for the last three years and smiled and died on the inside slowly watching him be happy, watching Stacy be the one to touch him. Smiled as Stacy confided in her, thought that she was her friend, because naturally she was Greg's friend and that made them friends by proxy, right? Of course. She had hardened herself to the sight of him for three years, to the sound of his voice, resisting the urge to laugh when he made his dry wit known, tamped down any sign of affection until she was pretty sure it was dead. Almost. Nearly there. So when he had yelled, she had yelled back, pointing out that it was the only way to keep him alive and keep his leg, and she had firmly believed it at the time. Believed that he would get over it, until he had finally yelled her name and told her to get the hell out. It wasn't so much that he used her name for the first time in three years, it wasn't the way her heart constricted at the sound of it on his lips, but the depth of loathing behind it that had made her run from his room. Run from his life. Retreat into her office, and communicate as little as possible with him, or Wilson, or even Stacy.
When Stacy had left, she had hardly been surprised. If she loved him and ran, why wouldn't Stacy? She had hoped- for his sake if not her own- that Stacy could be the stronger one, and then she would know that she made the right choice. Followed the best plan. But again, because of Greg the plan had failed. He wasn't happy- he was miserable. His pain seemed to follow her around like a shadow, even though she refused to look at it directly. Wilson would stop by her office in the beginning, asking her to go see him. Talk to him. Save him. She was the only one, and despite all of her danger instincts screaming in her head, she had allowed herself to be convinced. She had gone there, and he had been drinking on top of his pain meds. And when he looked at her that night, it wasn't with his usual clear gaze, the one that pinned you down and forced you to stay there until you wanted the squirm. Instead his eyes had been cloudy and he had pinned her down with his hands, and his mouth and his words dripping off his tongue like acid. She had faltered between staying and running, but that stupid selfish part of her heart had wanted it. Wanted his hands to touch her, even in anger, loved the feel of the fingers biting into soft flesh, loved that none of it was gentle and there were no whispered words of platitude or caring. And afterward when he had passed out with Stacy's name on his lips, and the guilt had crashed into her with a nauseating force, she had slipped out of his painful grasp, and went home with the guilt wrapped around her like a cocoon to lick her wounds and memorize every single aspect of that night.
The next morning, she had steeled herself- it was time to kill Greg and replace him with House. She gave him another month before she called him and told him if he wasn't at work the next day he was fired. And in the days following when he bitched about being there, refused to actually interact with patients, demanded a team of doctors to do it for him – at first she had given in. The guilt hung around her like a horribly heavy piece of jewelery that was ugly and awkward but she continued to wear it every day. And every day she forced herself to think House, and not Greg. And it almost worked. In retrospect- she shouldn't have forced him to work on that patient. She shouldn't have planned with Wilson to get him back out there. But she had, and she did, and then she was faced with something much worse. A softening in their frosty silence, a return to the yelling, the arguing and the occasional glimpses of Greg. House was always there more though, taunting her, challenging her, being a pain in her ass. And now, she frowned thoughtfully, he was invading her thoughts too. She hadn't thought of Greg in a long time, hadn't really seen him either, which made her frown harder. She hadn't gotten over him, if anything she was now more under him than ever before. The problem was, Greg and House were two different people to her for so long that she couldn't pinpoint when she had started loving them both.
He meandered down the hallway past his office, purposely slowing and staring inside Wilson's office as he wandered past. Normally this speed was slow, even for him, but since he was on his way to the clinic, he felt little to no guilt about moving slower than usual. So slow that Wilson had ample time to not only notice him, but get up and get out of his office before he had even passed two feet from the door. Wilson stood there, hands on his hips glaring after him in his particular way, the one that said 'you're still human so act like one'. "House!"
"What?" He stopped, turning around. "I feel I should warn you that I am at this very moment on my way to do clinic hours, which you are currently keeping me from." Wilson's only response was to roll his eyes so hard he looked like a mid Victorian woman with a case of the vapors, and fall in step, or shuffle as the case may be, beside him.
"And I can see you're in such a rush to get there. I can walk and talk, you know."
"Oh James, you learned to multi- task, good for you!" He spoke with false cheer, clasping a hand to his chest as he spoke, but Wilson ignored him as usual, and moved beside him silently, just staring at him. "What?!"
An arched brow from Wilson was all he got in reply. "You don't think that you've been strange at all this week?" House shifted his eyes slightly to the left, making a show of studying the artwork that graced the halls every so often, just to remind patients that yes, they were in fact in a hospital where decorators took the word 'soothing' and ran with it past calm and straight into comatose. He made a non committal face as he walked, knowing Wilson was studying him intently in that creepy way of his. "Really- you don't think that you getting annoyed about me taking Cuddy out, then freaking me out- which I'm still pissed about, by the way – then worrying she was getting attached when she turned you down, then pestering my ex-wife and finally telling me to sleep with Cuddy wasn't at all odd, even for you?"
He hit the button for the elevator, hoping somehow this would be the end of the line for Wilson, even though he knew the hag would follow him onto the elevator and continue to pick away at him until he was somewhat satisfied. "Uh.. no?" He tried to look innocent, but since the look hadn't worked for him since about age two, he couldn't quite pull it off.
"Because I think it is strange. In fact if I didn't know any better I would think you were upset with me, or that your interest in whatever I do with Cuddy was a little too personal." Wilson spoke quickly as he stepped in the elevator after him.
"Fine you've got me. I am so incredibly jealous that she gets you and not me. Why James?!" He spat the words out uncomfortably, but with practised ease. It was what was expected of him, and he always tried to live down to expectations.
"Just admit it House- admit to me you have a problem with me seeing Cuddy and I'll back off." Wilson's face was serious and he looked up at the lit numbers above his head to escape his gaze. If he wanted to think about it- which he absolutely didn't, he would admit Wilson was right. He did have a problem with Cuddy seeing him. It was stupid and petty and defied logic, which made him uncomfortable. He had told himself he was protecting Cuddy, that's all. Wilson did not have the best track record with women, and it would be disastrous if Cuddy became the fourth Mrs.Wilson. Why? They're both your friends, what if they're happier? He shook his head silently, trying to dislodge the voice. They were both his friends, but they would be happier apart. It would be safer. Plus there was Cuddy's whole baby thing, and he just didn't think Wilson was quite prepared for that. "House?"
He looked up at Wilson's voice and found his friend watching him intently. "I uh- of course I don't-"
"Everybody lies, House. Even you. I'm just gonna go with my gut on this one." Wilson smiled smugly for a moment as the elevator slid to a halt and the doors separated. He stepped out and House stepped forward stopping the doors closure with the end of his cane.
"Wait- so what does that mean? Are you gonna ask her out again?" The question slipped out before he could think of something appropriately cutting enough to cover it.
"Are you?" Wilson laughed, turning around and striding down the hall quickly. "I guess we'll see." He threw over his shoulder just as the doors slid shut again, leaving House alone in the elevator and unable to see the smug smile on Wilson's face.
He sat in Exam room 3 with his iPod held loosely in his hands. He hadn't turned it on yet though, nor had he taken out his PSP, despite having been hiding in her for almost an hour. His conversation with Wilson still bothered him. James Wilson and Lisa Cuddy both bothered him, for different reasons usually, and it irritated him. Wilson didn't usually irritate him – well not much. He was a bit annoying when he tried to act like a girl and talk about their feelings. Mostly. Usually however, Wilson was not lingering on his mind. He took great pleasure in annoying him constantly, but that was only because he made it so easy.
Cuddy on the other hand, irritated him constantly. Even in school, she had argued with him, poked at him and worked her way in. The first time he saw her, he had one thought and one only. She would be a great lay. Nice rack, great eyes, and wicked legs. So he had hit on her. Somewhere along the course of the night he had realized he liked talking to her almost as much as he would like to sleep with her. He wasn't a commitment guy, not then, so he had decided having her as a friend was much better than sleeping with her once and never seeing her again. She was the only woman he had ever felt that way about. Even when they were friends though, she hadn't been very nice to him. She had challenged him at every turn. She pushed, he pushed back and they liked it. Their other friends were baffled by them, and often asked him if he disliked her so much, why did he keep hanging around her? He just laughed at them, never telling them that he didn't dislike her, far from it – she was one of the best friends he had.
When he left school, he never meant to let that go. He had fully planned on calling her frequently so he could bother her long distance, but somehow every time he tried to pick up that phone, he would stop. He missed her. And that had scared him, because he knew that this coupled with the fact that he was also attracted to her was dangerous. He wasn't ready then. So he didn't call her. He figured that he could always get in touch with her after she graduated. Once they both started working. But somehow the years had slid by and he never did any of those things. Maybe it was self preservation – he didn't know. He knew where she was at all times though, he would hear her name mentioned at conferences and in medical journals, usually in the same breath as 'youngest female ever to' or 'aggressive ambition'.
He had known when he applied here that she was the newly appointed Dean of Medicine. He had been developing a bit of a reputation, and Stacy was riding him to just be nicer to patients. Something about them suing you less. So when she called and offered the job, it felt like the years just slid away at the sound of her voice, the same as ever, on the phone. Something had happened when he arrived though. She had called him by his last name, and kept doing it. At first he had put it down to her trying to be professional. She was the youngest Dean of Medicine the hospital had seen, and she needed to have even tighter control than the ones before her. He had assumed she just would be professional there and more personal out of the hospital. It took him three months to realize that she didn't intend on being personal. At all. He had been .. disappointed about that. There was no more arguing, no more laughing, no more Lisa. Just Cuddy.
He ran a hand over his face as he lay there. Why the hell was he even thinking about this shit anyway? It had been years. Years and more than enough bad blood had passed between them since. He tried not to think about their history. He tried hard. Because if he thought about it, he would want to examine it and just lately- since last year actually, the thought of examining it, them, her – scared the hell out of him. He blamed her. Her and her need to have a baby. It had changed something in her, and he was just fighting desperately to stick her back in the box she had been in for eight years. The one labeled 'Boss- Irritate for amusement'. He didn't want her thanking him for things, and laughing at him more and making him see Lisa in the Cuddy. He wanted her yelling at him and meaning it, he wanted her exasperated, annoyed, feeling dislike. Not amusement.
"God dammit House, how many times do I have to tell you to actually work? I mean, really is it too hard for you to do your damn job?" The door swung open and she stood there, her eyes sparking and an irritated look across her face.
"I do my job. I solve the unsolvable. No where in Diagnostics does it say 'do a job an intern could do'." He replied quickly, sitting up, but his tone was far from biting and bordering more on absent minded. "So – how was the art exhibit? Did Jimmy get to second base?" She glared at him, crossing her arms over her chest. He took a moment to stare, before adopting a serious face. "That bad huh? Want me to give him pointers? As I seem to remember you have a-" A folder was shoved into his chest and she practically hissed at him.
"Like you would remember much. And shut up- I had a good time actually." She was closer and he could see the small red and pink pattern gracing her top. Weren't pink and red not supposed to go together? She wore them anyway, and it was so typical of her to take two things that should clash and make them fit seamlessly together. Like they were always meant to go together and the rest of the female population were just too stupid to see it.
"A safe time?" He prodded her again, taking satisfaction when she let her breath out in a huff and stepped away.
"Shut up House, it's none of your business. You will see at least fifteen patients today or I will keep you chained in here." She opened the door and went to walk out.
"Now, now dear – those games are for home, not for work! Do you know how unsanitary that would be?!! This is a hospital!!" His voice rang out after her, and he smirked for a moment, knowing she was just fighting the urge to come in and kill him. Frowning, he looked down at the files in his hands and sighed. Maybe if he just saw the easy ones.. fifteen people could be prescribed cold medications and shoved out the door in less than an hour. Then he could retreat upstairs and avoid Cuddy and Wilson for the rest of the day. Or the week. Or however long Wilson took to marry and divorce her.