A/N: I can't believe it's done. Finished. Over. sigh Of course I have the sequel to comfort me, which I will post soon. How soon depends on reviews. -laughs evully-
As always - many many thanks to Alias424 for beta-ing this. She rocks.
"Just for the record, my sperm could totally beat up 613's kids."
"Hell, my sperm could beat up his kids."
"Something you're not telling me?" He arched a brow at her as he spoke and she felt a grin stretch across her face in response. It felt unnatural – like she was so happy that at any given moment it would all go to hell. He'd stayed the night and woken her up twice – once in the inky dark of night with no light and no sight to guide their fumbling hands and mouths – and once again that morning, with warm arms and the rasp of whiskers against the side of her neck.
He waited for her response as he watched her over the rim of his red coffee cup, but she simply laughed and shrugged. "Nothing you need to know," she poked back, and he smiled reluctantly at her. The waking up had been fine. What came after waking up had been more than fine as well, but now it was an hour later and she could feel the tension creeping back up her spine until it burrowed into her scapula. She felt intensely happy, and absolutely terrified. It was nauseating and stressful. She didn't want to talk about it, but she couldn't seem to think of anything else to say. "House–"
He sighed heavily and drained his cup before shifting in his chair, leaning forward until his forearms rested against the chipped wood of her table. His fingers absently traced the swelling in the middle of the table from the rainstorm ten months ago. "Is this the part where you ask me if I know what I'm doing and I lie and say absolutely and you know I'm lying but you don't say anything, because really – what could you say?"
She frowned for a moment, staring at his intense gaze – electric blue and filled with a frankness she didn't want to see. She dropped her eyes to her own tea – pale amber as it sloshed against the rim of her own cheery yellow mug. She liked the red one better – but he had beaten her to it. "Well, when you put it like that." She spoke in a low tone, her tension forced into the words until they practically burst with it.
"Cuddy." He rolled her name off of his tongue with skill, and she met his eyes again, her breath held. "I don't like to lie to you. Am I raring to be Daddy of the year? No. This is – if you didn't want this –" He paused for a moment, struggling for words as he ran a hand through his hair in agitation. "You want a baby," he finally stated simply. "I don't – I can't watch you have someone else's baby. And I realize that makes me a selfish prick – but when have I not been that? If – when you get pregnant, I don't know how I'm going to deal with that. I'll try."
She didn't speak while he was attempting to explain. When he finished, she sat silent for a moment, her suddenly cold fingers wrapped around her mug – but her tea was already lukewarm. She turned his words over in her mind – acknowledging their utter truth and disappointment. She had a picture in her mind – of her and him, and soft yellow blankets and blue eyes. His hands were pressed against the swollen wood between them and she watched them – the white around his knuckles and the red tips of his fingernails. Considering where they had been a month ago – five months ago – hell, ten months ago, this was a huge leap forward. They weren't looking. But it was the definition of faith – and she had that in him.
"Nothing changes at work." She spoke in a rough voice and his hands reached for hers, his skin hot against her own.
"Right. So basically I make a bunch of comments about our sex life but now I have fresher material." She smiled at him with a slight laugh. He squeezed her hands with an unrepentant look, and she closed her eyes, seeing the same expression on a small curly-haired boy.
"I'm serious. Nothing here touches work – and nothing from work touches here." There were days – a lot of days – when they wanted to kill each other at work. She couldn't have him taking the anger home. Home. She smiled slightly at the thought.
"I get it. When you're stupid and I'm right – I can't bitch about it outside of your office." She pulled her hand back and smacked his lightly.
"Shut up," she growled, and he smiled back at her.
"Make me," he taunted, and she pushed her chair back slowly, standing and abandoning her sunshine mug to stalk around the table until she was practically on top of him. Her eyes dropped to his mouth seconds before her mouth did, and she pushed her hands against his chest as his tongue wrapped around her own, swallowing her moan.
His hand skimmed down her hip before circling behind and gripping her ass tightly, and she pulled back with a smile. "Too bad I can't shut you up like this at work."
"Less talking, more silencing woman."
"I need the tests!" He was standing in the middle of her office, glaring at her as though the power of his gaze alone could convince her. Which it normally could. But not on this particular day. Not in this particular moment, she corrected herself.
"Yeah? I need patient consent." She was leaning against her desk, her arms crossed as she stared at him unflinchingly. He always pounced on the slightest sign of weakness.
"He'd never agree to it – because he's a moron!" House shouted at her, waving his arm as he leaned against the cane heavily.
"No consent, no test," she reprimanded, and he rolled his eyes at her. Her own narrowed as she watched him walk toward her, his expression of anger melting into one of cunning.
"Cuddy..." he cajoled, his hand just barely brushing her hip. Not unusual for them to be in each other's personal space during an argument, but this was different. They were different, and she levelled a glare on him that would fell a lesser man. Or a smarter one.
"If you think touching me is going to make me all horny and complacent, you're wrong. No. Test," she stressed, and he sighed before looking at her with a pout.
"Honestly, what good is sleeping with the boss–"
"Shhh!" She smacked his arm, and he glanced pointedly around her empty office before lowering his voice to a whisper.
"What good is sexing you senseless and volunteering to be your baby Daddy if I can't get a test or two out of it?" She snorted at his words before rolling her eyes.
"Um, you get the sex? Which really isn't a requirement for the whole baby Daddy thing–"
"Oh no – we're doing this natural–"
"No, actually, we're not. The chances are better if we still do the IUI," she pointed out as he pulled back with horror.
"But then our baby won't be born out of love." His tone was scathing and she forced herself to remain calm, despite her heart's increase in rate.
"Oh, shut up. You get to go into a room, with porn you haven't seen, and jerk off – which, except for the porn you haven't seen – is a daily ritual for you." She frowned at him and he leaned towards her, crowding her against the desk as she sighed.
"What if I need help? Would you give me a hand?" He smiled as he spoke, and she choked back a laugh.
"God, I'm reproducing with a twelve-year-old," she sighed, and he tsked above her.
"That's illegal. You hussy." He was staring down her top as he spoke carelessly, and she sighed and braced her hands against his shoulders, shoving him back as she quickly escaped his overwhelming presence and put the desk between them.
"You'd think all the face time you've been getting with the girls lately, you'd cut back on the staring." She spoke in a lower tone and he grinned, finally meeting her eyes.
"If I stopped gazing at their opulence – it'd look odd. And we're compartmentalizing, remember?" He added helpfully, and she ran a hand through her hair as she sat down and pulled her chair up to the desk.
"Which reminds me – I have an appointment tomorrow with Robin – you should come." She was looking down at her calendar as she spoke and his laughter made her look up.
"Oh I will."
"Would you have it any other way?" she bit back triumphantly, and he shrugged and shook his head. She savoured the brief victory – because that's all they ever were with him.
"I have to go convince a patient that a test that will most likely kill him briefly, will actually save his life. Once I have your precious consent – I've got a green light, right?" He walked back toward the door, pausing with his hand on the knob to look back at her.
"Written consent, and yes," she responded, meeting his eyes and smiling.
"Uh huh, whatever. I might be stuck here for a bit –" he hedged awkwardly, and she watched his nervousness with her grin still in place.
"I'm working late anyway. Just swing by before you leave and update me on the patient."
"There's something wrong with House," Wilson announced solemnly as he placed his tray next to hers at her table.
"Tell me something new," she mumbled, and he looked at her in exasperation.
"I'm serious! He's been – smiling." Wilson waved his hands as he whispered, and she watched him in amusement before continuing to eat her salad. House had accompanied her to her appointment yesterday and had been predictably crude with Robin and generally annoying. His reaction when informed his sperm would be put through a cleansing cycle, had been priceless, however, and worth the embarrassment that was naturally born of House being in a gynaecologist's office.
The medical models alone were enough to keep him in all kinds of trouble.
"Oh no! Smiling? Alert the media." She was being purposefully obtuse with Wilson – and she felt a bit bad about it, but she wasn't about to blurt out that fantastic daily sex tended to improve one's outlook on life.
"Cuddy – you don't understand. This is House. House is never really happy – the world would implode if he were –"
"Are my ears burning?" House dropped into the seat on the other side of her, and Wilson sat back as though caught red-handed. "Cause I could swear I heard my name. Was it all good? Should I be blushing?" He picked up his sandwich as he spoke, and she smiled over at him for a moment.
"When is any discussion about you complimentary?" she sniped, and he looked over at her wide-eyed, with a mouth full of bread and meat.
"I don't know – I believe you prayed to God about me a few times – seemed complimentary to me." She froze at his words before watching Wilson roll his eyes and stab his own salad passive-aggressively. Shooting a glare at House, she deliberately ignored his words.
"Nothing. It was nothing." Wilson's voice was high, and House frowned across at him before shrugging and taking another bite.
"Smooth," she said out of the corner of her mouth, watching as Wilson flushed uncomfortably and twirled his fork in his food.
"Look at that!" Wilson's voice was even higher as he stood and pointed to his watch while attempting to hold his tray. "I have a patient – and I'm gonna be late – I'll talk to you later, Cuddy. House." He nodded emphatically – four times – before turning and dropping his tray with his untouched food and speeding toward the exit.
"You know – it's almost fun messing with him. I vote we never tell him. Even when you reach whale proportions – we'll just tell him it's gas." House spoke through his food and she rolled her eyes.
"If you ever call me a whale again, I'll stab you with a fork. And he isn't stupid, House – he'll figure it out eventually. Apparently you've been too happy lately. Tone it down."
"Dammit – I knew frolicking with those forest animals the other day would give me away." He sighed and she choked back a laugh as she watched him with a small smile. "It's not like I'm bursting into song or anything – your girly parts aren't that powerful."
"Denial doesn't make the truth go away, House. You can admit it – they are that good." He glared at her and she did laugh then, a throaty chuckle that made his gaze darken from ice to aqua. "He's your best friend – he knows you well enough to know that you aren't as miserable as usual."
"I'm about to tear up. You don't make me miserable – that's so touching." He waved a hand by his eyes to dry his non-existent tears before looking at her seriously. "It'll take him a while to put it all together. Besides, I'm barely accustomed to the idea I'm mating with the devil – let me get used to it first and then I'll tell him."
She didn't press the issue, because deep down, she was happy they weren't telling Wilson. It was familiar and comforting – they had never told him before – and she really didn't need to hear Wilson's 'House is a fragile flower, don't crush him' speech. At times, Wilson cared a little too much for her liking.
"Are you thinking about the shower this morning?" House's voice was low in her ear and she startled, glancing at him incredulously.
"What? No!" she denied, and he nodded thoughtfully. This morning had been – well, interesting to say the least. It was the first night she had stayed at his place, and he had made their morning more than interesting. A slight flush diffused through her skin, spreading down over her chest as she bit her lip thoughtfully.
"You are now, though, right?" His smile was wicked, and she shifted in her chair, the warmth spreading lower as she uncrossed and re-crossed her legs.
"I hate you," she muttered, and his grin grew as she stood up roughly.
"Your mouth says hate, but your panties say love," he teased as he stood as well, following her to the doorway, his hand 'accidentally' brushing her ass every few steps.
"Really, really hate you," she whispered as they entered the lobby, and she broke off toward her office without looking back. Despite that, she allowed her hips to undulate a little more slowly, knowing he was watching her walk away.
"So it says here that sex is recommended after implantation." She was lying on the sofa with her arms behind her head as he sat at her laptop reading.
"Oh please – like you need the recommendation to justify yourself." She spoke with her eyes closed and tried to remember to breathe in and out. Her final injection had been two hours ago – and they were going into Robin's office first thing tomorrow morning.
"I'm just pointing it out now – so you don't try to give me the 'I just got implanted and I have a headache' excuse tomorrow." His voice was distracted, and she could hear the mechanical clicks as he scrolled through the information.
"Uh huh." She heard the squeak of his chair turning and the tell-tale thump of his cane against the carpet as he moved closer to her. When she opened her eyes, he was just sitting next to her, looking down at her awkwardly.
"You're nervous." His voice was blunt, and she nodded. He watched her for a moment before lifting a hand and brushing her hair back clumsily. "You shouldn't be."
"Why not?" her voice was a whisper and he frowned down at her.
"How should I know – I was just hoping you'd follow the order, not look for explanation. I suck at the sensitivity thing, Cuddy." She laughed slightly at his words and his frown deepened. "Oh sure, mock my deficiencies. Want me to call Wilson? He's good at this crap." She sat up and leaned into him, hugging him tightly as he sat there and allowed her to.
"No. I feel better."
"Liar," he whispered into her hair, and she pulled back, getting lost in the blue of eyes for a moment.
"That I can do," he mumbled before lowering his head to hers. She kept her eyes open, feeling the warmth of his mouth and drowning in so much blue she couldn't think of anything else.
"I didn't think there would be this much waiting." She flopped back against the exam table and he snorted from beside her.
"Please. All you've done so far is taken off your pants. I've been subjected to bad porn –"
"Oh the horrors." She quipped dryly, and he shot a glare at her.
"Some nurse who looks like she should be named Helga snatching my magic man juice before I even pulled my pants up – and now they're 'treating it' – and for the record, it's probably taking so long because there's just so much –"
"Helga? Really? And if the porn was bad –"
"I just thought about you in that little short set you wear. Instant gratification." He spoke quickly and she rolled her eyes before pulling herself up onto her elbows.
"You are such a –"
"Are we all ready?" Robin said brightly as she breezed into the room with barely a knock.
"We? Are any of your body parts directly involved?" House sniped, and Robin just grinned.
"Do my hands count? I think they do. How are you feeling, Lisa? Nervous?" Robin placed a reassuring hand on Cuddy's shoulder as she spoke.
"A bit," Cuddy hedged, trying not to smile at the faces House was pulling behind Robin's shoulder.
"Just try to relax. You know the success rates – if it doesn't happen this month, we just try again next month." Robin's eyes were warm as she stepped back and moved to the foot of the table.
Cuddy nodded and laid back, her head feeling unnaturally heavy as she turned to stare at House, who was sitting beside her and bouncing his cane off the floor repeatedly. He didn't want to be there, she knew. Which meant that his presence alone meant more to her than anyone else who would hold her hand and sooth her.
"Are you ready?" Robin's voice was muffled, and Cuddy nodded in response, even though Robin couldn't see her.
She felt an odd sensation – a pinch and a push, and she closed her eyes, trying to think positive thoughts. When she opened them, House was staring at her with serious eyes, and she smiled to show him she was fine. He frowned for a moment before reaching out and taking her hand in his as he leaned closer.
"I hope you know what you're getting into." Her tension seeped away at his words and she chuckled before squeezing his hand and letting it go.
"God, I hope so, too."
"I think we should do it again. Just to be sure." His voice was out of breath and he was panting lightly as she laughed, wrapping the sheet over her shoulder as she rolled over and tucked her head below his chin.
"Yeah, but if this one doesn't take – I need you alive." Her own breathing was unsteady and she could hear his heart below her ear as her fingers traced along his ribs.
"Are you saying I can't handle round – wait – which round are we on again?"
"The Viagra-sponsored one?" she teased, and he huffed loudly.
"I don't think so," he denied quickly, and she laughed gently, tilting her head so she could look up at him with a smile.
"Does this ever feel odd to you?"
"This as in us naked – or this as in us purposely trying to knock you up?" He answered her question with two of his own.
"Both." She waited patiently for his answer, watching as he stared up at the ceiling thoughtfully and hearing his breathing slow and steady below her ear.
"All the time. I mean – the naked part we've had some experience with – I don't know if you remember–" His tone was light, but she frowned at the darker memories his words brought up. She remembered everything. The happier times were few and far between the more painful images that clouded her mind whenever she reminisced. Her hand flattened against his chest, right next to her cheek, and she could feel the steady one-two-three of his heartbeat below her skin.
"Yeah." Her voice was soft, and his arm wrapped around her, warming her suddenly chilled skin.
"Cuddy?" He spoke her name tentatively, and she glanced back up at him enquiringly. "Do you think our kid could take over the world? I'm pretty sure between my brains and your work ethic – of course, it could get screwed up, and it could get your brains and my work ethic –" She laughed at that and smacked him lightly.
"Shut up and go to sleep." He nodded in response and rolled over, pushing her so that she had little choice but to roll over as well. He didn't let go, though, and she closed her eyes with an exhausted smile and his warmth at her back.
"Can I have this guy?" House burst into her office after fifteen minutes in the clinic – it had to be a personal record.
"Sure." She didn't even glance at the file he was waving as she frowned down at performance evaluations – they were stacked high all over her desk. "After you finish your clinic hours."
"But Moooom! He has a swollen tongue!"
"Give him an epi." She finally looked up at him with a glare and he rolled his eyes.
"D'uh. I did. Not allergies. And you should hear him try to talk - DucktorHouwse – it's priceless. Want me to bring him in here and make him tell you about his food preferences?" She stared at him as he grinned at her unrepentantly.
"House! It's infection – or toxins –" She finally reached past the highest pile of papers, leaning over and grabbing the file from his hands.
"Or it could be none of those things."
"He has a fever."
"And a funny speaking voice," House countered, and she sighed.
"You're avoiding clinic," she pointed out, and he nodded.
"Like the plague. Except I wouldn't actually avoid the plague – that could be fun. Point is you don't know what's wrong with him, and my kids need a case anyway." She glanced heavenward for a moment before sighing and tossing the file back to him.
"Fine. But you will finish your clinic hours while they're running pointless tests because it's an infection." He frowned at her words and she shrugged. "Final offer."
"You know – I'm gonna put this bitchiness down to hormones – and forgive you for it." He walked toward the door as she watched in exasperation. "Oh and the boobs look a little firmer. You think it's a sign?" She didn't have a chance to respond – or throw something at him – before he ducked through the door with a triumphant grin.
Her eyes fell back to the piles of paper around her and she sighed heavily – something very like regret rushing through her as he escaped, along with any excuse for distraction.
She ran a hand over her face as she stared at the umpteenth report. She hated evaluations. Not just because of the amount of work they represented, but she hated the vague unspecific feedback most department heads gave. Everyone was so PC in these things – never saying outright that this person needed to go or that person was fantastic. Everything – good or bad – was qualified.
Except of course, House's reports. Evaluations were the one thing he loved to hand in on time – each year's report more outlandish than the next. Equally annoying – but at least they were a change.
"Dr. Cuddy!" Brenda burst into her office, her skin unnaturally pale and her hands shaking. Brenda was absolutely unflappable, and upon seeing Brenda's shaken demeanour, Cuddy felt everything around her slow down imperceptibly. Her stomach lurched and sank rapidly, causing bile to rise in her throat and the muscles of her abdomen to clench nervously.
"Brenda?" Her voice was thick, and she heard the words slowly, like they were pushing out of her mouth and through a physical barrier to get to her eardrums. She wanted to move – stand or shift to the left, or raise her hands and press them against her desk. Something – anything to brace herself for the bad news she instinctively knew was coming. Her mind was running through the possibilities as she waited – a fire in the hospital, or a security crisis, or a patient bleeding out all over the clinic.
"There was a shooting," Brenda started, and she felt the blood in her body drop five degrees and trudge through her veins as her thoughts turned to patients and security and calling the police. The thoughts should have been rapid but they too were pushing through the semi-frozen slush of her grey matter, and Brenda looked entirely too upset for this to be a patient shot. Staff member, maybe – and then her synapses fired in a slow thumping beat – like and odd funeral march as she imagined first one staff member and then another.
"Dr. House is being taken down to the ER– " Brenda was still speaking – at least Cuddy was fairly sure she was, because her mouth was still moving, but all Cuddy could hear was the loud buzzing in her ears. House. Shooting. ER.
She felt like every particle of air was being sucked out of the room, leaving her in a vacuum of nothingness and white noise and a non-reality. She was dreaming. This was a bad dream, because who would hurt – who would shoot –
"Dr. Cuddy?!" Brenda's hand was on her arm, and she tried to shrug her off, but she couldn't seem to move. Couldn't seem to make her brain think the command, couldn't make herself get up and face him – he was probably laughing about this right now – because of course only his sick twisted mind would come up with such a joke. Brenda would never help him. And just as she thought her mind had slowed to the point of not existing, it suddenly sped up and slammed right into the wall of reality.
Brenda would never help him.
Brenda would never call her Lisa.
"He's asking for you –"
House would never ask for her.
"– going to the ER –"
She couldn't watch him die. Again.
"– lost a lot of blood –"
Her hands wrapped around his blood and hers.
"– straight through, they'll try to repair –"
His and hers.
"– security got the shooter –"
Hers and his.
"You need to come with me, Lisa. Now."
Her body stood, and she stumbled before Brenda's hands steadied her. Her hands dropped down to her stomach and she pressed them there for a moment before feeling time slip away in a blinding rush of seconds and minutes.
He asked for her.