A/N: Okay this took forever to write, and may be inaccurate show wise, but any errors just ignore. I tried to be as true to the timeline the show has given us as I could be, considering how whacked out their version is anyway, lol. Also some present parts are references to the show, and some are just figments of my imagination. You'll know which is which. I'll be away and unable to write for the next month or so, so this is my parting gift. Reviews and comments are loved!
Disclaimer: I'm only in it for the fun, I do not own House or anything else herein.
He watches her walk away, a half smile threatening to emerge across his face as he watches the hemline of her pink skirt flutter around the backs of her knees, the soft fabric dancing on the breeze she created with her forceful movement. When she was pissed, there was always a certain something extra in her walk. It was something he enjoyed seeing, so over the years he had perfected pissing her off.
"Nice rack." Her eyes rolled and she heaved an impressive sigh as he stood behind her, too close for conventional comfort, waiting for her to dismiss him. He had been watching her for weeks, Lisa Cuddy who never seemed to stop and have fun and lived and breathed her studies. "No seriously, that is a great rack of research material you've got there." She pushed against the tan metal shelf, propelling herself backwards and forcing him to back off unless he wanted to get really inappropriate. Which he did, but not this second. When she turned to face him, the only thought he could grasp in his mind was how much nicer looking she was close up, and considering she had been hot enough to attract his attention from far away, that was saying something.
"Seriously? That's the best the great Greg House can do? Nice rack?" Her brow arched and her eyes sparkled with challenge. He tried to ignore the feeling shooting through him, evoked by the simple fact that she knew who he was.
"Pink's my favorite color." He let his eyes drift downward to settle on her white top, which was just low cut enough to allow the pink lace of her bra to peek out. "Now, anyway. I like long walks, and bad movies and even worse coffee. I like to read most anything and dislike going to class. I'm a Capricorn. What's your favorite color?"
She smiled archly, her eyes dancing as she eased herself away from his looming frame, moving out toward the open aisle of the library. She didn't respond, simply walked away from him chuckling.
"Wait! Don't I deserve an answer?" She paused as he called out, unwilling to let her go. Unwilling to fail. It wasn't something he took lightly.
"Not today. Maybe if you try again tomorrow." Her voice floated back to him, but she didn't turn his way again, choosing instead to walk away with her hips swaying and his eyes tracking her every move. Not a total failure then, just an aborted attempt. He smiled slightly as she disappeared from view. There was always tomorrow.
She's monochromatic today, all black and white and the only color around her is the berry lipstick that was staining her mouth, hours after being applied and mostly chewed off, but still altering the natural color of her lips to a deep pink. Her hair is a glossy brown, pulled back smoothly in a show of control and her eyes are blue, bright with flashing fire and smothered lust. Or so he likes to imagine, anyway. "I cannot believe you did that to the father of the patient! House! You do not-"
"He wasn't the father, and isn't that the point?" He speaks over her in a tone that is guaranteed to get her to acquiesce control of the conversation to him. She does so like clockwork, always faltering at the sound of his voice, listening despite the fact that it was he who cut her off. Her lips press together and he knows if he was close enough, he could hear her teeth grinding together. He loved that sound, rough and primal, like a warning from the carnivore before attack. He wished he was close enough to hear it.
"No." She speaks through her teeth, her hands gripping the back of her chair that she stands behind. As if the desk alone just wasn't enough space for her. "The point is that you ran an illegal, unasked for test-"
"That saved his kid's life. Really you think he wouldn't care that she's not his biological kid – nurture versus nature and all that. She's alive because I did it. And even you can't argue that." He moves forward, around the desk and the chair, giving into the sudden desire to hear that sound the next time. She deflates slightly, knowing he is right, knowing that the girl had been saved by him, even if his methods were questionable.
"Just- House-" Her tone is low and taut with warning as he stands over her suddenly, staring down at the face he had studied at various intervals for years. It amazes him constantly how little she had changed from that younger version of herself. He could look in her eyes at any given moment and see her dancing there, laughing with unspoken challenge as she watched him. She sounds tired now, though, and he can't see her there when he looks into her eyes. A Cuddy too tired to fight with him is not only unacceptable, it causes a pang of something he doesn't want to examine too closely to echo through his chest, radiating in between every other beat of his heart.
So his eyes drop from her face to travel along the halfway decent neckline of her white blouse. When he looks up again, he can see a slight spark in her eyes as she crosses her arms and glares at him. "So tell me, are you wearing our favorite color today? Clearly not that I can see, but it's the bits that I can't see that are so much more interesting, don't you think?" The spark ignites and he leans back happily, as she draws a deep breath to yell at him more.
"I've come back once a week for four weeks now. Just so you know, that officially makes you my longest relationship, despite me never taking you out, or getting what I am sure would be the extreme pleasure of touching you in your naughty places. Are you ever going to answer my question?" As usual, his question came out of the blue, while he watched her bend over the open textbook in front of her, one hand supporting her head, and the other holding a highlighter loosely, ready to drop at a moment's notice to grab the pen next to her hand laying in wait.
"You ask a lot of questions Greg House. Which one didn't I answer?" He smiled at his full name, she never called him Greg, like other girls, or House, like most of his male friends and teammates. She was also right. He did ask her a lot of questions. His first night back here, a week after his first attempt for her number, he had peppered her with questions that she had for the most part answered, asking only in return that she be allowed the same. Of course, while his questions were all about her, her parents, was she an only child – the answer was of course, yes, how else had she become such an over achiever? Did she have any pets, where she grew up, what was high school like? He had been pleasantly surprised to learn she was a cheerleader, a fact he filed away for future fantasy use. She however, had asked him nothing personal, rather damaging to his ego, instead opting to quiz him on tests, which professors were hard asses, and what course load to take.
"Your favorite color." She looked up from her book, and her eyes were bright with curiosity, despite the fact that her hair was pulled into a messy ponytail and he was pretty sure she had a streak of yellow highlighter on her cheek. She smiled suddenly, the force of it bright in the darkened library.
"Your longest relationship, huh? That's sad Greg House. What does that say about you, really? How old are you now? And four consecutive one night a week meetings is the longest relationship you've had?" Her grin played along her lips as she dropped the highlighter and it rolled on the table, coming to a stop next to her blue pen, falling into line neatly. He wasn't shocked by this fact, Lisa Cuddy was so organized he doubted a paper clip of hers ever dared to get tangled up with the others.
"It says I've been sadly misused by mean girls, and am in desperate need of someone's tender loving care."
"And such care involves certain aforementioned naughty bits, I suppose?" She was laughing now and he sat back in his chair, slouching down into the uncomfortable cheap black vinyl. "You've sat at my table for four weeks in a row. It hardly constitutes dinner, let alone a date."
"And if I asked you out?" He rose a brow and sat up again, leaning forward with interest. She simply smiled and was still.
She's blue today, soft muted colors. Gray skirt, blue blouse, blue shoes. He's not positive, but he's fairly certain he's never seen her in the same pair of shoes twice, and he wonders if that's why she has such a big house for just herself. She needed room for her shoes. It's not like it's a new affliction – she was the same way before. He watches her walk by surreptitiously, his eyes following her legs as she sails by, probably intent on making some poor intern cry. She has that predatory gleam in her eyes, which look bluer than they are today, so he hopes her target is a lowly intern as opposed to him.
She wore pink shoes on their first date. Strappy little heels, with an open toe and her nail polish had matched exactly. He only remembers because he had been fascinated by her feet as she walked beside him that night. He had been serious about the long walks, and she hadn't uttered a word of complaint, even though those shoes should have been killing her.
"Oh a bed, thank god!" She sank onto the mattress of his bed thankfully, kicking her shoes off in glee, and then looking at them sadly. "They're my favorite you know. But they kill my feet."
"Why didn't you say something? I asked you five times if you wanted to stop walking." He laughed in disbelief as she grinned up at him.
"Yeah, but that would mean you win."
"It's not a competition." He protested, both amazed by her stubborn nature and disbelieving that she thought this was a game. The light in her eyes changed, turning the blue a darker color, like a stormy sky. Her toes flexed as she pushed herself onto her knees, reaching across the empty space for him and pulling him closer.
"Are you sure? Because as of right now Greg House, I'm winning." He had a retort all ready, but her lips cut off any words he was about to say, and when she lifted her head, he had forgotten it. Her dress had been white, and it looked good against her pale skin. Everything else had matched her shoes, and he had been awash in a pink haze as his hands committed her body to memory. Much later, when he could barely talk, unable to catch his breath, she had whispered in his ear. "Pink."
She's the only one he thinks of in technicolor, and it never seems to surprise him. Other people in his life hover on the peripheral, never quite in full color, faded like an old water color. Others who are in the inner circle so to speak, like Wilson and at one time Stacy were views in blacks and grays, muted tans and off whites. She was always pinks and reds and blues, bright colors, that hurt to look at, especially against the faded colorless backdrop of his life. She's definitely red today, her red shoes whispering promises she wouldn't keep with each step. They match her skirt, also red and her lab coat looks sharp against it, a harsh relief of pristine white against the darker color. Her top today is cream, and low cut, giving him an excellent view as she stalked down the hall toward him. A file is clutched in her hand and even that is a dark wine color, painting her in shades of red today. An angry flush is on her cheeks and he wants to grin despite himself, but knows it's too late, she's too close to get away with it now.
He welcomes the color as she speaks her first words, and he finds comfort in her tone. It's never really angry, despite what her body language implies. Exasperated, yes, annoyed almost always. He's heard her really angry before. And this is not it.
"Get out." He had expected the coldness of it. Her steely resolve. It was how she was, even in anger she was cold and determined. Unfortunately for her, he was just as determined.
"No. Not until you listen to me-"
"Listen to what exactly? You tell me that it didn't mean anything and you really love me, and we can work this out?" She laughed, but the sound was hollow and bitter and he flinched away from it. "No, you know what this is a good thing. You're leaving anyway and we both know we would suck at the whole long distance thing. You have your life, and I have med school to finish and Tonya, Tanya, whatever her name was really just did us a favour. You can leave. I can concentrate. No mess."
"What if I want a mess? Lisa... I was drunk. And I know that's not an excuse, but it is a reason. I was mad at you about the med school thing-"
"Well pardon the hell out of me for including you as a factor in my choice." She bit the words out and he winced.
"I felt like it was pressure- which is stupid, because now all I want is that pressure back-"
"It's not coming back." She silenced him with a glare and uncrossed her arms. He could feel her leaving, not physically, she was still right in front of him, but panic was setting in and he could feel it building inside him.
"Lisa, come on, please. Don't do this." She jerked away from his touch roughly, almost falling over but the look on her face stopped him from touching her again. "I didn't- I know it doesn't make a difference but I didn't sleep with her. I stopped. She wasn't you." Tears filled her eyes and she shoved at him angrily, her hands cold and her eyes hot.
"Shut up. I don't want to hear this. Just shut up." She was whispering, but the sounds were harsh in the relatively silent room. Like gunshots in a suburb. Out of place and echoing.
"Lisa- please-" He was pleading now, and was shocked that he didn't care. The panic had risen so high inside of him that he was sure she could see it clawing it's way out. "I-"
Her hands pushed harder against his chest at his words and he was sure there would be a bruise later. "No! Don't you dare say it now. Here. Like this. I can't do this right now. You're leaving me, a little at a time and it hurts Greg. So please- please just do it all at once. Don't keep parts of you here with me when you know in the end it won't do any good. Do you honestly think this is it for you?" Her questions were quite and desperate and so angry they felt like a physical assault. And he wanted to shock her. He wanted to take her breath away with his answer and say that yes, she was it for him. His track record with commitment hissed through his head like white noise on a tv though, and he knew before he opened his mouth. She could very well be it, but he would screw up again. She would hurt, and maybe forgive him, and he would do it all over again. Her hands were clutching the fabric of his shirt, squeezed together as she waited in hope for an answer.
He couldn't answer her. If he said no, it would be a lie. If he said yes, it would be a lie. Neither answer would give her absolution, so he remained silent. Raising a hand to her face, he ran a finger along the line of her neck, one more time. Her hands tightened and suddenly released, smoothing the fabric back down across his chest gently as she fought to keep the tears at bay. She sniffed slightly, and blinked rapidly as her breathing slowed and steadied. Standing on tip toe, she pressed her face against his neck and he could feel the heat and the wetness there. His arms wrapped around her reflexively, and if his grip was harder than usual, he didn't notice. Her shoulders shook, and he felt a wavering sense of loss gripping his chest in a vice like grip. It hurt to breath. It hurt to hold her. It just hurt. Her breathing was erratic and her sobs muffled as she tried to speak.
"Please – please just go." The words were punctuated by painful tears, staining him with hot guilt and his hands tightened on her hips as he crushed her to him. He held her for a moment, a brief second where he could feel her heart thundering and almost feel her pain. He did the only thing he could then. He let go.
She's all white today, blindingly so. Hovering in the background, mere feet away from where he was but unnoticed by everyone but him. Her lab coat is wrapped around her as she watches, a cloak of white that she thinks makes her invisible.
"She's going to fire you one of these days." Wilson's voice was a furtive whisper as he helped wheel the unconscious patient down the hall to the the operating room she wasn't supposed to be in, to do the brain biopsy she wasn't supposed to get.
"No she won't." His response was sure, as he handed the patient off to the two surgical nurses he had been able to bribe and the one surgeon he had been able to blackmail.
"Well at the very least, she'll kill you."
"No, she won't." He watches for a moment as the flurry of activity goes on behind the large doors, before turning away from the window and fishing around in his pocket for his stash of lollipops.
"You can't know that-"
"Sure I can. Cuddy is guilty. And believes in second chances. She gave me one, I gave her one. We're even. And deep down, in some small part of her, she knows I'm always right. She prefers it this way. She can't morally recommend this procedure because it could kill the girl. She, in her position, can't really say 'oh go for it House.' So she says no, knowing full well I'll do it anyway. Then she can do what she's best at- damage control. Hopefully it will work, and the girl will be saved. She prefers it this way." Wilson's scoffing laughter echoes down the silent hall and he stops walking, disbelief written all over his face.
"You are out of your mind, if you think she prefers it this way-"
"Tell me something." He rounds on his friend, leaning heavily on his cane and fighting the urge to bite the lollipop in his mouth. "Do you honestly think I could schedule an OR, find a surgeon, get two nurses and an anaesthesiologist all without her being suspicious in the slightest? Are you seriously that naive?"
"Well, I- she might have- you can be sneaky sometimes." Wilson finishes defensively as he laughs and turns away. When he glances to the left again, she's gone from her earlier observation point, leaving nothing but still air and a white haze in his vision. She would always give him a second and third and fourth and two hundred and seventy first chance. She always had before.
He had been at PPTH for three years already when he first saw her. Scurrying down the corridor ahead of him, he almost hadn't recognized her. Her white lab coat was too large and the blue scrubs under it wrinkled as if she had been wearing them for days. Her hair was piled on top of her head, and overall she looked like she had been working for three days straight.
He debated whether or not to approach her. She looked almost exactly the same, he was comforted by the familiarity of her shape, the flare of her hips, the shape of her arms. The way she walked was even like watching a live memory. He had been unconsciously following her, despite having been on his way to check on the progress of his latest patient. She had been reading the file clutched in her hand, but suddenly turned around fully, and he had almost ploughed into her before catching himself. She looked shocked when she looked up.
"Oh my god.. Greg?" She smiled, her face effused with warmth and he stood there, basking in the reflected glow for a moment while he caught his breath. "You look.. I can't believe it's you. What are you doing here?"
"I work here. What's your excuse?" He looked her over more closely now that she was facing him, his eyes travelling along her form to rest on her face. It was leaner, less full, and there were small lines in places that had been smooth But her skin was still like pale ivory and her eyes were still a warm blue, and he found himself smiling widely just from the pleasure of seeing her.
"I'm doing my fellowship here. With Dr. Rossi." She leaned against the wall of the hallway, keeping out of the busier middle section as she relaxed for a moment and watched him. The circles under her eyes clearly told him she was on the last hours of a 72 hour shift.
"Rossi's a moron." He spoke in a harsh tone, but she just smiled again and nodded in agreement.
"Endocrinology. Huh. I never would have put you in that field. That's.. bizarre." She laughed slightly, shrugging. "Wait. What did you do your residency in? I can't picture obstetrics. So pediatrics or internal medicine?"
"I wanted to do peds, but it doesn't really place you on the fast track does it? Internal medicine. I'll finish my fellowship in a year-"
"That's half the time of a normal fellowship." He pointed out the obvious and she chuckled again and he rolled his eyes slightly. "For a normal human being. No surprise that Lisa Cuddy is probably working twice the amount of hours to finish faster. So I take it your social life is non-existent then. You must be working more than ninety hours a week."
"Well, no one ever gets anywhere by doing the bare minimum. I plan on staying on here though. The Dean is due to retire in a few years, and by that time.." She trailed off and he stared at her in shock for a moment.
"You really do have plans, don't you?" She smiled, the crooked half smile that he had loved so much as she nodded.
"What about you?" He leaned next to her, catching the slight scent of coconut as he did so, and a grin broke across his face. She had used the same shampoo in school, he could remember more than one occasion when he was forced to use it after staying at her place, standing in the shower thankful that at least it wasn't roses or some other girly scent.
"I'm an infectiologist here. I've actually worked with Rossi more times than I care to. I wasn't kidding when I said he was a moron."
"I know it. All he lets me do are run labs, minimal patient interaction. It's the price I had to pay to be here." She shrugged and he watched her intently for a moment.
"What'd you do, have a flow chart that determined which hospital would allow you to advance the quickest?" A tell tale flush crept up her cheeks and he grinned.
"Shit. I'm late." She glanced at her watch and sighed. "I guess I'll be seeing you a lot more then." She nodded as she spoke, standing up abruptly. He reached across the space between them, grabbing her hand in his. She stopped, looking down at his hand covering hers for a silent moment. He didn't speak, just watched as his thumb caressed the skin on the back of her hand as if it had a will of it's own. Her hands were cold and smooth under his and he looked up into her eyes wishing for just a moment that he could go back in time, and change that day he had walked out. Maybe this was some bizarre second chance being handed to him.
"Lisa- I-" She shook her head, looking away from him and swallowing painfully. She didn't want to discuss the past, and he couldn't blame her. So he let go, watching her hands slide out of his and marvelling at how pale her skin looked next to his. Her pale pink nail polish slid along his skin, the nails themselves scratching lightly and then when he looked up once again, she was gone.
Today is definitely black. As she stands in her office, cloaked by darkness, no lights illuminating her except those in the courtyard, flickering valiantly against the inky night. Even if she wasn't dressed in black, per say, she's definitely black today anyway. Her shoulders are rolled forward, sagging in what she thinks is a private moment. He doesn't breath, afraid she will hear him, but her House sense must be tingling because she breaks the silence in a tired voice.
"I don't want to do this anymore." He moves closer behind her, holding his breath and staring at her silently for a moment. When she turns her face to him, he can see the film of tears she's trying not to let fall and the guilt – he assumes that's what it must be, this twisted, acidic feeling that keeps churning in his stomach, making his skin clammy and his mouth dry – twists just that much harder. He hates to see her cry, because she so rarely does it. "When I got this job, House- I thought I was going to change the world. I was the youngest female Dean of Medicine ever. I was going to do good things, save lives. I put every single other dream I've ever had on hold because of this. And now.. why? Why am I doing this? Why am I arguing with you every day. Becoming someone I don't want to be for donors? I'm so damn tired of this job. This life." He swallows heavily, somehow aware that this is his fault. He had created this mood in her, by forcing her into this decision. Him or Vogler. Now he had no clue how to fix it. Nothing he could offer her in the way of comfort. His hand tightens on his cane painfully as he resists the urge to touch her.
"Cuddy-" His voice is hoarse and she holds up a hand to silence him.
"Don't. I don't want you to apologize, or tell me it will all be alright. Nothing I do will make it alright. Nothing will give me those years back – let me just be satisfied with being a doctor. It's too late now."
"You're good at what you do. And you made the right choice tonight-"
"I made the only choice tonight." She turns to face him then and her face is shadowed, hiding the lines and making her appear younger, more vulnerable. "I almost let him do it. I wasn't noble, or brave. I didn't go in there with the intent of protecting you. I just sat there, and suddenly everything felt so wrong. And I wondered, how in the hell didn't I see this before? How did I miss how controlling this man was? I'm a bad judge of character-"
"No, you're not." His protest is automatic and she rolls her eyes in response.
"Yes I am." She turns back to the window, her eyes searching the darkness for something that she wasn't seeing. "Makes me wonder.." She mutters, and he barely hears her words, but his grip becomes white knuckled as he does. "Just... go home House. You don't need to be here. I don't need you here."
"You've always been a terrible liar Cuddy."
Her building was big. Bigger than he expected when he had broken into the personnel database to get her address. It had irritated him that he had to do it that way. Of course, it had irritated him that it had been Wilson to notice her missing, and Wilson who found out the reason why. He had been involved in a case, and it wasn't as if they talked every day. In fact, at times, he could go well over a week without crossing her path. It was rare, but it happened.
They had settled into some type of routine. She stopped by his office sometimes, to rifle through his library of medical journals or just to ask an opinion. She would have lunch with he and Wilson sometimes, but never just him alone. He understood the line she was drawing, and accommodated it. She was his friend, of sorts, and he was hers. He didn't call her, and she never called him. They didn't go anywhere outside of work together, the way he and Wilson did. She had never been to his place, and he didn't even know where she lived. What he did do was buy pink Post-it's and flag interesting articles on thyroid issues and hormonal therapy that he read. She would go to his office every few weeks, sometimes when he was there, sometimes when he wasn't, and slowly the pink flags would disappear from the pages. He did buy her lunch often – a fact he hid from Wilson since he never paid for his own lunch, why would he pay for hers? - and drop by her desk, leaving it there with the words 'Eat Me' scrawled in blue pen on the bag. She did buy two coffees sometimes, leaving one on his desk in the morning with a pink Post-it attached to the top, which let him know she had bought it and not Wilson. Pink wasn't really Wilson's color.
He still hadn't noticed when she wasn't at work for a week though. Only when the case had wrapped up and he realized that her perfume didn't linger on the air of his office, did he ask Wilson about her. Wilson had stammered apologetically, stating that she had gone home for a week. For her father's funeral. So he had done the mental math, and broken into the files, and now he was standing in front of her door, uncertain what to expect when she opened it.
She was wrapped in a robe when she did peek through the crack in the door. He could see it was blue, and when she sighed and closed the door again to undo the chain, he frowned down at his hands. She opened the door fully a moment later and motioned him in tiredly. She was barefoot, and her hair was a mess, but what else did he expect at one in the morning?
"I don't need a babysitter." She didn't waste time asking why he was there, because she knew. He didn't bother explaining how he found out, because it would only be a waste of time.
"Did I wake you?" Her gaze slid away to the left and he knew she had been sitting in her bed, alone in the dark, wide awake. "I thought so. Maybe you don't need a baby sitter Lisa, maybe you need company though."
"I'm a big girl-"
"Trust me, I've noticed." He grinned and she laughed slightly. It wasn't much of a laugh, but it was a start. Truthfully he didn't know what the hell he was doing there. He couldn't comfort her, or relate to her loss. Hell, if his father died, he'd probably be throwing a party in Time's Square.
"Greg-" Her hands were twisting in the pockets of her robe, parting the bottom half and allowing him to spy white pyjama shorts underneath, decorated with pale pink and green flowers.
"Nope. Not listening. You're just going to stand there and lie to me and say you're fine, when you're not. I'm not going to make you talk about it or let it all out or any of that crap, but I'm not going to leave you alone either." His voice was gruff and he felt like he had growled half of it, but her calm facade broke for a moment and a second later her hands were in his hair and her mouth was on his.
He knew he should stop it. Stop her, but she needed this. So did he. And he was never one to examine the ethics of a situation too closely. All he knew was she felt exactly the same, and the sensation of it was almost better than he remembered.
Later, when they were both naked and pressed against each other, he whispered about the patient he had lost that. Misdiagnoses had killed her, and if he had been given her case sooner... but he hadn't and he would remember that woman for the rest of his days. An unsolved puzzle. She listened, glad for the distraction from her own thoughts, her only discussion of what had happened, was a softly whispered thought about what her mother would do as he held her in the dark.
The next morning, he could feel the regret ease into before he even opened his eyes. Her mind was racing ahead, as it was wont to do, weighing the pros and cons, as he held his breath awaiting judgement. She gave him a mumbled speech of thanks while telling him at the same time that it was a one time thing. She had her career, and didn't know if she was ready to trust him. He wanted to be angry about that, but since she had plenty of reason not to trust him, he let it go, choosing instead to nod and wave it off, keeping their friendship intact at least. She didn't need to know that he was angry about it, or that he felt the need to break the tension her friendship created by drinking heavily one night, stumbling into a coffee shop in the early hours. Outside he met Stacy.
Purple is a smug color, it must be because she looks triumphant as she wears it. Maybe that's why royalty wear it so much. Her smile is all knowing and he wants to shake her, but he knows it won't do any good. She's convinced she knows best, and nothing he says will change her mind. The color around her is glowing in the sunlight, and just this once, he wants her on his side.
It doesn't happen often anymore, and he wonders if he has finally beaten it all out of her. Forced her to back off, push him further away. Forced an unbridgeable chasm in their friendship. His hands itch with the urge to go find some rope quickly, and start building, but she is looking away from him now, uncomfortable and he knows that today is not the day to build. It will have to be one day soon though, or soon it will be too late.
She found out from Wilson. Almost a month after Stacy moved in, and he couldn't find a way to tell her. He felt like he was having an affair, even though nothing he was doing was wrong. Still, he couldn't find the words to tell her, so she found out from Wilson, accidentally. After that, she stopped coming by his office. He would sit and stare at his stack of pink Post-it's and frown, feeling an odd vacancy in his chest, a painful gap where his heart echoed oddly. It was for the best. The pain would fade eventually.
He didn't really miss her anyway. He still saw her often enough, scurrying to and from the lab, head always bent, as if she had a House radar, and knew just when to avoid all eye contact. After three months, he was willing to admit that he missed her friendship. She had been at Wilson's second wedding a week ago, and even though Stacy was standing at his side, his eyes had been watching her. He had to make her understand. He needed something to fill the void she left. It was partly her fault too.
He didn't send flowers, or chocolates, because she was Lisa Cuddy, and she was above those sad attempts. So he sent her a journal he had found, in which there were no less than eleven flagged articles for her. He left it on her desk, and waited, wondering if she understood. The next morning there was coffee on his desk, and he felt he could breathe a little easier.
She started having lunch with him and Wilson again, a fact which Wilson was eternally grateful for, as she provided him with a much needed female opinion on his marital issues. Slowly but surely, they could inch back to where they were before. She never mentioned that night, and still never called him. On the rare days Stacy would drop by and eat with him, she never approached their table, or sought to introduce herself, instead picking up her lunch and disappearing through the double doors with it.
She finished her fellowship only two months later than she said she would, and was immediately offered a position at the hospital. He and Stacy became closer, and he felt that perhaps, in the end, everything had worked out the way it was meant to.
She hardly ever wears yellow, even though when she does, he thinks it looks good on her. Happy. Like something you would want to see in your doctor. She is hardly ever somebody's doctor, though, so perhaps she doesn't feel the need to keep up the false pretence of cheer. In the end, the pink is most comforting anyway. Pink is the color of caring. Warmth. Good feelings.
He watches her sometimes, as she quietly creeps into the paediatric wing, visiting the children there, laughing. Or when she walks down one floor to maternity and stands at the glass window, staring at the infants inside, a forlorn expression on her face. He has become an excellent observer, following her around, watching as her shoulders sink further down and he step drags a little more slowly. She's an internal person, she rarely wears her emotions on her sleeve, and if her hurt is starting to show through, he knows it must be eating away at her on the inside. If they were better friends, he would ask her about it, offer a shoulder, be supportive. But they've never been that kind of friends. At least, he hasn't.
She was department head already, an almost unbelievable feat, but there it was. They had a celebratory lunch at work, in her brand new office as he and Wilson toasted her with champagne he had brought in, and she laughed, almost giddy with her glee. Her walls were only half covered, some of her diplomas laying stacked against the wall, waiting to be hung. She was happier than he had seen her in a long time though, and he felt the tightness in his chest ease a bit more at the site.
Wilson gave her an antique silver letter opener, one of those useless things that people place on their desks for other people to sit there and wonder what in the hell it was. He gave her a box of elastic bands.
"Not because I'm cheap, but because they help you think. Like this." He demonstrated and she rolled her eyes, laughing.
"It's because you're cheap."
"It's a lifetime supply. Anytime you run out, let me know and I'll steal you some more." She just shook her head, laughing and they carried on until Wilson got up regretfully stating that he had a patient at one. After he left, a tension seeped into the room, sucking all of the giddiness out of the air. He stood awkwardly, looking around the small room with a smile. "You'll be my boss soon."
"God help me." She spoke dryly. He just grinned, leaning down and brushing a soft kiss to her cheek.
"Congratulations." He left, wondering when she would find his real gift, a drawer filled with pink Post-it's and pink highlighters, and a gold plated desk plate with the words Dr. Lisa Cuddy engraved across it. He didn't get to see her reaction, because four days later, he was fired.
Red again as she asks for his help, furtively hiding them away in her office. She holds up the syringe, and it's almost symbolic. A hypodermic olive branch that he can cut into supplies to start building. This is her reward, for him keeping her secret, and this is his chance, to re build, to pay her back. He's not sure, but he'll do anything she asks at this point, to get them back on even footing.
He feels a slight thrill to be holding it in his hand, and he watches as the black and white of her skirt give way to the creamy peach of her skin. Memories flash through his mind, of his hands, gripping her hips, pulling her against him, the way she felt, the way she smelled. He pushes the thoughts out of his mind, forcing them back so he can concentrate on the task at hand. Stabbing a needle and re building a friendship.
She slid into the room, out of breath and wide eyed with panic. He almost didn't see her through the haze of pain, permanent red over his vision as he claws at the bed sheets furtively. Stacy had left to go find a doctor and she magically appeared. Maybe she's psychic, or – a laughable thought – they're just that connected. Whatever the reason, she has a syringe full of morphine in her hand, and she's giving it to him spinally, something risky and not approved of by his doctor's, but he's not about to stop her. He hoped his expression conveyed his thanks as the drug slid through his veins and he felt that familiar fiery tingle across his skin, easing the pain and leaving a pleasant warmth in it's path. He can't quite articulate it yet.
"I'm so sorry. God, I'm so sorry." She put the drug in her pocket, and reached out to grip his hand in hers, pressing it tightly between her hands as she bowed her head above him. "Greg- I'm so sorry."
"S'not your fault." His words were long and drawn out, his speech slow from the narcotic. He patted her hands clumsily, thinking she's upset about his diagnosis, or lack there of. "You didn't do it-"
"No, Greg. I should have been there. You should have felt comfortable calling me- I would have come down to the clinic- I should have been a better friend. I'm sorry." He wondered why exactly she's crying, but when he opened his mouth to ask, the words can't seem to come out. As he felt himself begin to doze, her hand slipped out of his and he reached blindly, searching for the comfort that was no longer there. He felt a slight pressure on his head, and a whispered apology, and he couldn't open his eyes to tell her that everything was fine. He'd be fine.
She used to wear pink more, in years gone by. But this year- this year in which he almost destroyed her through his words and deeds, she is tending more toward blacks and greys. Maybe she's in mourning. He feels like he should be too. She yells at him more often now, and she smiles less while doing it. He listens to her sometimes, argues with her others. Anything that will make all of it seem normal again, and let him pretend for a moment that the pain isn't worse now. That he wasn't better off before the ketamine. That he doesn't ask why he didn't just die some nights.
He wonders if she'll give him another chance this time. Oh he still has his job, still has a semblance of a life. He still has Wilson, but she is missing lately. And he is left feeling unsatisfied, staring at the incomplete puzzle that is his life. He doesn't try to fool himself that she would make everything better, but he does acknowledge that she would go a long way to filling the gaping void that is there.
He watches her walk away, again, but he can watch it with a sense of calm this time. She's not leaving him behind entirely. She's still there, behind him, supporting him, even after everything they have done to one another in the past. Even now, in the quite of the jail cell, after Wilson has heaved an exasperated sigh and gone home, he knows that despite everything, she is still there. She is still on his side, a fact that makes him weak with relief. Nothing has been destroyed yet, and it was time for him to ensure it stays that way.
She stood at the end of his bed when he woke up. When he realized that not only was the pain still there – lower in level, but a constant ache – but that part of his leg was missing. Maybe not the whole thing, and it could have been worse, but he felt the absence of muscle there, as if they had carved it out of him while he was awake. His anger was so black and dark it almost choked him, and his gaze swung off of Lisa and onto Stacy who sat in the same position at the side of his bed, with the same guilt ridden expression and choked back tears as when he went under. He wanted to choke her, wanted to make her hurt as much as she made him hurt – permanently. But he's weak, and in pain, and all he could do was glare at her and whisper for her to get out. At first she didn't seem to believe him, but after he choked out a few choice words, and the anger caused him to surge forward on adrenaline alone and shove her away from the side of the bed, she seemed to get the message. A hand pressed to her mouth, she fled the room with choked sobs and he watched her go, feeling oddly satisfied.
"How's your pain level?" Lisa was leaning over him, and he blinked, having forgotten she was in the room.
"How do you think? Get out I want another doctor." She didn't blink, just watched his pulse on the monitor as it slowed and checked his eyes, despite his lack of co-operation. She had taken his case, despite it not being her area, after she had discovered what had happened. He had thanked her at the time, knowing that she was Lisa. His friend. His.. she would do what was best for him. She would listen to his wishes.
"No other doctor would have you right now Greg. I'm going to give you some morphine-"
"I don't want the drugs! I want you gone. Out. Now, Dr. Cuddy." She paused at that and stared at him for a moment. He knew he was too angry, but he didn't care. Something broke in her expression and her face twisted for a moment before smoothing into a professional calm.
"Alright Dr. House. I'll have a nurse administer the meds. But you are still under my care until you leave this hospital. After that if you want to find another doctor- you can." She pressed the call button behind him, and ran her hands down her white lab coat. The fabric darkened slightly where she touched it and he felt a small stab of guilt which he brushed off immediately. It should be her guilt that made her palms sweaty, not his. She made a note in his chart, and turned to leave the room, only turning back to look at him once. "I told her to do it. I told her about the surgery, the third option. She was listening to my medical advice." She exited the room before he could throw something at her, before he could feel the rage choke him until he sobbed. He wanted to hate her, for what she had done, for taking all the blame. He wanted to hate her for the pain, for the rest of his life. He wanted to hate her because even now, watching her walk away, he was terrified he had pushed too far. And he hated that most of all.
He decides he doesn't like her in black. Little black dresses that she wears for other men, that she answers the door in with her face flushed and no bra. Black was definitely not on his favorite color list, even if he had enjoyed her in it many times before. His over involvement is bordering on stalker like behaviour, but she never seems upset by it, just slightly amused. He's mostly just happy that the expression is back on her face. She can even pull the door closed, and tease him about it, playing his word game and winning by a mile with five simple words.
It's not really fair, since she knows he can't answer them right now. You can't go into the attic when you're only working on the foundation. So he didn't answer, didn't smooth his hands along her hair like he wants to, and definitely didn't go inside and kick Dan or Dave or whatever the hell his name is out. He does climb back on his bike though, and drive up the street a bit before pulling over again and watching as a man exits the door and heads to his car. When he pulls away again, he has a smile on his face.
"Cuddy." He wasn't sure if he dialled her number right, it wasn't like he had such experience with it anyway, and his vision was blurred from the pain when he was fumbling through the dirty phone book he found on the ground next to the phone booth. He stuck to her last name, because he's pretty sure if he says Lisa right now, the memories and the pain combined will break him.
"House? Why are you calling at three in the morning? Where are you?" Her voice progressed from sleepy and muffled to clear and worried. He knew he shouldn't feel good about the level of panic present, but he does anyway.
"I need- can you help me? I can't- it hurts and I have no pills." He breaks off, hating that he has to do this, hating that she's his only option. "I'm a block from your house. I can make it- but can you.." His voice trailed off and he heard her soft sigh, relieved and exasperated all at once.
"Stay there." She hung up, and he dropped the phone, leaning heavily on his cane as he made his way up the street. Halfway there, she met him, still in pyjama pants and a tank top. Her feet were shoved into pink high heels which looked ridiculous, but she didn't seem to care as she slid an arm around his waist and helped him back to her house. Inside, she sat him on the edge of her bed while he was still wondering how the hell they got all the way to the bedroom already. A moment later she pressed a handful of pills and a glass of water into his hands. He swallowed them gratefully, not asking what it was, or looking to see how many. She could have given him a lethal dose and he would have taken it willingly.
"You look like crap." Her voice was soft as he sat still, waiting for the pain to go away. Her hands were running up and down his bad leg, and he wanted to stop her, push her hands away, but it felt good and was distracting him from the pain, so he let her continue.
"And you're super hot yourself too. Love the bouncing bunnies." His voice was snide and she glanced down at her pants with a rueful smile.
"Well, at least I showered." Her retort wasn't as stinging as it should have been and he shrugged.
"Showers aren't so fun when they shut off the hot water. Or the heating." He wasn't looking at her as he spoke, because he knew what he'd see there, the look of concern bordering on pity.
"Can you get up?" She pulled him up without waiting for an answer, and lead him to her bathroom, a purple monstrosity that he laughed at under his breath.
"Should be pink." He mumbled as she turned on the hot spray and pulled his shirt over his head like a small child. She got rid of his pants and boxers too quickly for him to protest and a moment later she pushed him under the warm spray. He leaned against the purple tile and she shoved soap into his hands, which he took clumsily and began to lather. He moved methodically and halfway through the pills kicked in and he felt like he could breathe again, and was halfway human. When he exited the shower, smelling of her soap and shampoo, she handed him a towel and lead him back to the room. He shivered in the cooler air, and she pushed him down on the bed, wrapping the blankets around him. "Love it when you're rough." He mumbled incoherently before passing out.
Hours later, he woke up with his lips on her neck. Her pulse was strong and he could feel her skin jump beneath his mouth, like her skin was begging to be touched. Each beat was a plea. Her skin smelled like a mixture of heated cotton and clean soap. When he licked his lips, her skin jumped at the contact and he felt his body stir. The pain was still a dull ache, but it was more manageable than it has been in days. His hands moved down to her waist, tiny in his grasp as he gripped her hips firmly. She stirred slightly, arching against him, obviously not quite still awake, and he took advantage of that fact. It's been so long since he's seen her. Since Stacy left him, since he condemned her for what he now knew was Stacy's choice. He wanted to be transported, back to their university days. Back to her only touching him with love, back to when he was a whole man. Back to when he had a choice about where his life was going. He made the wrong choice then, but not now.
She was awake now, but not protesting as he peeled her shirt over her head, and his hands worshipped her skin. Neither of them spoke, and the room was still in the hush of the early dawn, painting her skin a glowing pink. She felt soft against him, and her breath tickled his skin as she panted lightly next to him. The position was awkward, but manageable and when his release came, he closed his eyes and was surrounded by a wash of pink.
Four days later he got an offer of employment from Princeton Plainsboro as Head of Diagnostics. The signature at the bottom declared her Lisa Cuddy, M.D. Dean of Medicine.
He still likes her best in pink. He teases her more, the sight of the color against her skin makes him more relaxed. He wonders if she knows this, and uses it to her advantage. He doesn't really care if she does, because out of her many colors, it will always be his favorite.