Author's Note: This was originally written for Cuddy Fest. The prompt I selected was Cuddy on Yom Kippur. Any factual errors (though I really hope there aren't any!) regarding the Jewish holy day are completely my own. A very special thanks to my beta, Olly, for being a rock star goddess beta. I definitely would have quit if it weren't for your advice and help and encouragement. And you know… thanks for convincing me Wilson is a cool character.
House isn't mine, so please do not sue me.
Running on Faith
By Duckie Nicks
"You see the world as it is and you see the world as it could be. What you don't see is what everybody else sees: the giant, gaping chasm in-between. If you did, you never would have hired me. You're not happy unless things are just right. Which means two things: you're a good boss and you'll never be happy." -- House on Cuddy
"You know, checking your Blackberry every block isn't actually going to make House screw up any sooner."
This marked the third time in fifteen minutes she'd looked. "Maybe I should call my voicemail," Cuddy said, not listening to Wilson's advice.
"Except you would have heard the phone ring," the oncologist countered.
"Not if he called me at home." She sounded peevish, Cuddy realized, and her stomach rumbled, an annoying reminder that she should have eaten before the fast started.
Wilson jammed his hands into his pockets, and they continued their walk to the synagogue. This was the first Yom Kippur they had celebrated together, but then again this was the first year they had really become friends; it was one of the few good things to come from all of House's antics, she thought. And with no desire to go through the holy day alone, she had asked Wilson to join her.
Cuddy had imagined Yom Kippur going differently. She'd thought that she'd be able to relish the day off. It was something she could afford now as the Dean of Medicine. Gone were the years where she would be on call and have to flee the synagogue embarrassed. Gone were the times when, as an intern, she couldn't even try to celebrate.
There didn't seem to be many perks lately to the Dean of Medicine title, but this was one of them. At least, it was supposed to be one of them, and it actually was until House had taken on a new case. Now she half-expected him to limp out from the shadows needing her approval for some horrendous treatment.
"Hey," Wilson said, interrupting her thoughts. He reached out and gently touched her forearm. "Why would he call –"
"Because it's House," she snapped. This was definitely not how she envisioned her day. "He would call at home," she started to explain, "because he would know I'm not there. And he'd know that because he, no doubt, has figured out which temple we're going to and when each service is. He probably had his whole team working on it – just in case, he needed my approval."
She scrolled through her Blackberry one more time before stashing it back in her purse. Cuddy didn't mean to sound so… harsh, but the truth was the entire day had been bothering her. There was House, but it was more than that. All through Erev Yom Kippur, she couldn't help but think of all the things she hadn't repented for. If only the Jew she wanted to be and the Jew she was matched up.
What felt like a lifetime ago, Lisa had been taught G-d couldn't forgive you for committing sins against other people. At least not until you had sought to make amends. Some of her sins were easy enough to fix.
Cuddy had felt guilty for taking away House's Vicodin the past winter. As much as she understood that he needed to learn limits, as much as she knew he could have taken the deal and ended the whole thing earlier, her choices were wrong. Cruel even. Because, while she knew he was an addict, she also understood that he was in pain. And Lisa doubted very much that G-d would want him to suffer at her hands.
With anyone else, she would have apologized. But House would have hated the sentimentality, would have called her narcissistic, and it would have, in short, been a disaster. Two days ago, she stuck an extra bottle of Vicodin in the stash he kept in his bottom desk drawer and pretended yesterday not to notice the way he eyed her breasts.
Other sins weren't so easy to fix. After all, how was she supposed to make amends against Tritter and the judge to whom she had lied under oath? How could she apologize to her unborn children who had left her body too soon? And what was Cuddy to about the things she felt guilty about but rationally knew weren't her fault?
They turned a corner then, and passed an Italian restaurant. The smell of garlic and tomatoes wafting through the air made her frown. She used to love the holy day, she thought, but now…
Wilson finally broke their silence. "Okay, I'm not even really sure what you said back there, but you should realize that House likes to avoid you."
"Not if it means giving up an opportunity to annoy me or cause me some humiliation," she interjected in an exasperated tone.
"Solving the puzzle comes first. It always will. Being a sick bastard is fun for him, but you're not there now. It'll be like a kid in the candy shop."
"Thanks," she said, not feeling thankful at all. "That makes me feel so much better." Feeling a migraine coming on, she rubbed one of her temples with her fingers.
"I'm just saying he won't burst into the synagogue shouting 'Heil Hitler.'" There was a pause in the conversation, perhaps both imagining such a scene. "Look: there's always a chance he'll do something… incredibly bad at the hospital. But those odds don't increase simply because you took the day off. If you were there, House would just…"
"Do what he wanted anyway," she finished. Wilson nodded his head curtly in agreement.
Dodging a few speeding cars, they crossed the street to where the temple was. As they approached, the oncologist mentioned, "You seem nervous."
"I'm always nervous when it comes to House."
"I mean… you seem more nervous than normal."
"I am," she said quietly as they walked up the stone steps and into the synagogue. As much as she had come to trust Wilson, she didn't feel like giving voice to her demons and was grateful for the imposed silence. They slid into a pew together. And through the guise of prayer and ceremony, Cuddy let her thoughts wander.
It wasn't that she hated the day. Truth was she used to love when Yom Kippur occurred, appreciated how it required everyone to admit their sins and ask for forgiveness. But now … it seemed like an annual reminder of all the things she couldn't fix. Of all the things for which no apology would suffice. Each year, sins in this category (the untreatable ones) grew, seemingly exponentially.
And most of them began and ended or involved House somehow. Which was why she couldn't stop thinking about what he might be doing in that hospital…
She straightened her posture, pressed her shoulders back firmly into the pew. Wilson was right, Cuddy told herself, setting herself straight. House wasn't any more likely to do something stupid. Certainly, her guilt complex (or what he had diagnosed as narcissism) didn't make him any less likely to misbehave.
Nothing had truly changed, but this was a time to repent. A brief moment when G-d was willing to forgive you for what you had done, and this was something she had not fixed. Another year passed, and nothing had changed because House hadn't changed. And even if he wasn't setting the hospital on fire (please don't be setting the hospital on fire, she prayed), the curmudgeon was still messing around with her salvation.
Rationally, Lisa understood that what happened to him wasn't her fault. There was the incompetent doctor and a misdiagnosis, and there was Stacy who had saved his life by going against what House wanted. And even House himself – he'd refused physical therapy, refused to be anything but miserable. Her culpability was there, but she was in good company at least.
Nevertheless, it didn't matter. She could tell herself that it wasn't her fault, but her actions continually betrayed that. Cuddy was aware of that much, at least; it was hard not to be because she let House get away with everything. Humiliate his patients, refuse to treat them – he could do whatever he wanted.
Cuddy suspected that House thought he had the right to do this because of his talent. Because he was a great doctor and people wanted to be cured so everyone turned a blind eye to him. It made sense, but for her part, there was more to it than that. He was a world-class doctor, but she trusted his judgments out of necessity. As long as he was right, she could temporarily avoid feeling guilty.
As long as his mind kept solving puzzles, there was no need to focus on the leg. They had that much in common with one another.
House had free reign, and no matter the consequences, he didn't have to pay for it. That was the job of his colleagues, patients, and the select few he considered friends.
By now the service was almost over, and Cuddy knew she should focus more on it, should beg for G-d's forgiveness before the holy day had ended. But she sat there, mutely, frozen despite the stuffy air, thinking only of House.
What did paying attention matter anyway? He hadn't forgiven her yet, and that was all there was to it.
Lisa had learned that a person must ask for forgiveness a total of three times from the wronged person before giving up. And by those standards, she should have felt in the clear. Even by her own standards – she already knew that if this were happening to someone else, she would tell the person to give up.
She had apologized to House in every humanly possible way. It should have been enough. Anyone else, she told herself again, would have told her that this – that the way House was – wasn't her fault. That she had absolved herself.
She'd gone above and beyond the minimum. She should feel free of this guilt, but… obviously not. Because, in her mind, even though she had followed the rules, she didn't like her salvation decided by an arbitrary number. If you had to have the person's forgiveness, then that was all there was to it.
And until that happened… she could be so close to the promise land, could do everything else right in her life, but this would be her downfall year after year. It was almost ironic, she though, that the both of them should be forever tied to this one decision, their entire beings slave to his leg.
But it shouldn't be that way, Lisa thought. She didn't want it to be that way. Because there was more to House than his cane and more to her than one procedure, which she hadn't performed on her own.
She was a good person, she told herself. She was a great doctor, and at that thought, she nodded her head up and down once. The movement made Wilson look at her strangely, but Cuddy shrugged off his concern. It wasn't even needed, Cuddy thought. This was the happiest she'd been all day.
Which wasn't very happy. But some part of her truly hoped that at some point, House would forgive her. That even though he tried to hide it, he did care for her and would absolve her of this guilt. And until then…
Well, she'd just have to hope that she didn't get hit by a bus.
The in-between would probably kill her. Would at least continue to make her miserable. But there was no other choice.
The Holy Ark closed then; Yom Kippur was over, and while some seemed relived to have confessed all of their sins, Lisa could only hope that she would some day also feel the same way. That eventually she would actually be the Jew she always wanted to be and that House would no longer punish himself and everyone else. That some day the puzzle would remain unfinished and they'd all be okay with that.