Author's Notes: This was written for the LJ community, CandyCaneDreams. Each author was to take the title of an episode and incorporate it into a fic. I received "Kids." A special thanks to my beta for doing what she always does – making my fics readable. Without you, Olly, there's no way any of this would be readable. Thanks for all your work and for turning me onto the House fandom to begin with.
Disclaimer: I don't own it so don't sue.
Two Scoop Month
By Duckie Nicks
The creamy frozen yogurt is a nice contrast to the hard, multi-colored sprinkles, she thinks. Cuddy also thinks that the treat should taste refreshing and comforting (despite the chilly temperature outside), but it does not. All she feels is tired and exposed.
It's odd that someone else should pick up on her behavior before she ever did. Feels as though her actions are no longer her own, and while she contemplated eating a day-old brownie hidden in her office instead… she wasn't – isn't – won't change this because of House.
Because either way, it all means one thing. Crying in the children's cancer ward and these cravings, whether acknowledged or not, means her body has rejected the egg. Again. And Lisa has decided that since she'll have her period soon enough, appearances be damned. House can read into her choices however he wants.
She jabs her plastic spoon into the yielding yogurt and winces as the utensil scratches against the Styrofoam bowl.
Part of her is amazed that she feels so much grief. As a doctor, Cuddy had been more than aware of the failure rate. The doctors had reminded her too, this time as a patient.
Knowing that IVF might not work, knowing that she'd be raising this baby by herself… it had given her pause. But desperate times (her own mind depressingly liked to emphasize the desperate part)... she had to try, even if there was the possibility of failure.
She'd known the risks, but she knows now that before, it had been entirely abstract to her. And now, each period is a reminder of a life that will never be, the foreshadowing of a lonely, barren future. In each drop of blood, Lisa hears the faint echo of cries and feels the sight of messy pigtails and rattles becoming blurred. It is the death of what might have been – each and every time.
The sound of squealing fills the mess, and she turns her head to see a mother with her child. And not for the first time, the dark-haired doctor wonders if she even has the ability to be a mother. Or if this is wishful thinking. If her body can barely go a month without rejecting the idea, then, she thinks, maybe it's a sign.
That House, despite the obvious lashing out, has concurred as much is further proof. Yes, the rational part of her had understood that he was in withdrawal and angry at being treated like a child unable to keep his hand out of the cookie jar. She knows that he had said the words to hurt her, knows that it should be easy to write off…
But it's not.
Because in the end, House had apologized to Wilson and not to her. The oncologist had been yelled at, but House had lent voice to the fears only previously whispered in her mind. And for that, there was no apology or even gratitude for committing perjury.
She takes another bite of the melting yogurt, and Cuddy thinks, for the first time, that it's too sweet. The sugar clings to her throat, and she wishes she'd bought some water to wash it down.
Sitting here, the doctor can still remember what she had told Wilson. She'd said it was the first time she'd seen House be cruel to truly hurt her. And that had been true enough.
But more than the actual words, Lisa thinks that it hurt because something in her – in her relationship with House – had changed. Greg had stumbled over many lines in his lifetime; it went with the maverick territory. She knows she's the opposite, tied to duty and sanity, but it didn't matter. Somehow, unintentionally, Cuddy knows they had crossed the line from friends and gone into… other territory.
Or maybe she had been the only one to feel that way. She doesn't know anymore.
She finishes the half-melted yogurt and is left unsatisfied. Her stomach feeling emptier than usual, Cuddy gets back in the short line and buys another cup.
No matter what House had felt, she had definitely started to feel something. And now, even with the spell seemingly lifted, she's not sure what happened – isn't sure how or when she started to want him. She doesn't know – only understands that House had become such an integral part of this baby business.
Knows that, without him, it's much harder to continue.
It had been nice to have him there, to have someone else give her the injections and to go through the motions with. True, he had spent a decent amount of time insulting the men and enjoying her ass, but… she had known that he cared, bizarre and roundabout as it was. And in some weird way, House had, in her mind, become the father in this whole enterprise.
In the end, it had been odd, but comforting to her. And at least the insults and ogling had detracted from the failures and rejection. At least then there had been more than frozen yogurt to keep her company.
Now he's not there, and there's nothing to distract her from the fact that she's not pregnant or that she's probably doomed to spend her life alone. And maybe that wouldn't be so hard to swallow if she'd never glimpsed what her life could be. Yogurt in hand, she returns to her table and nearly collapses into the metal chair.
Cuddy takes a bite, but it does nothing to fill the emptiness threatening to overwhelm her. The dessert is useless in erasing the knowledge that she had thought about asking House. As if to punish, her mind reiterates the thought: she'd considered asking House.
The idea hadn't come to her all at once. It wasn't love at first sight or perhaps anything even remotely resembling love. Instead, it had quietly crept into her mind at some point. She doesn't know exactly when.
Sure, Lisa had always found him cute – attractive physically with the big blue eyes. And though his personality exasperated her, the honesty he displayed – it was intriguing and maybe a bit brave.
He was smart and sexy and somehow with his wise cracks and open desire to sleep with her, she'd reciprocated. However those feelings came to be, it had been impossible to ignore. And she'd found herself unable to shun the image of their child, of a life with him.
Cuddy had dreamed a thousand scenarios of asking him. Had been able to push through the embarrassment, but just needed the right words.
In her mind, if (when?) he said yes, she had imagined the future with their baby, and the weekends where she'd invite him over. He would resist and she'd bribe him with vicodin or let him cop a feel in exchange for family time. And it was odd, but it made sense in her head. The whole scenario, she knows, wasn't the picture of domesticity, but it had seemed, if only for a moment, perfect.
And then Tritter happened, and she knows now how foolish it was to ever think…
House was a drug addict – is an addict – who would always put that need first, and it had been stupid to ever think otherwise. The seemingly perfect picture vanished the moment he had opened his mouth and lashed out at her.
She takes another bite of her yogurt and berates herself for mourning this. It hadn't even been real, but it's not easy to get over. Because all she can think about is the life they could have had. The baby that could have existed, but never will.
Cuddy thinks it should be easy, but it's not because all she has is herself and two bowls of frozen yogurt, and that hardly seems like anything at all.
She knows people say the past is the hardest to deal with, but… mourning a future that can never be is far worse. The doctor looks down at her hands and sees the now empty white Styrofoam bowl. But it feels as though her fingers have been holding onto a grain of sand – only to feel it slip away from her in the end.
And she wonders why she ever liked eating frozen yogurt to begin with. Because, surely, it couldn't fill the void inside – or take away from knowing that she was empty.
She thinks about it for another minute before realizing that the answer isn't something she wants. Cuddy doesn't care.
There had been a moment where she was pregnant, a brief time where she might not have gone through this alone. And now… there's only this ritual – only a woman in the cafeteria with frozen yogurt and the distinct end of possibility.