Title: All in the Name of a Stranger
Author: Gomes
Fandom: House MD
Pairing: House/Cuddy friendship
Rating: PG
Spoilers: none
Summary: "If you could go back, and change your actions...would you?"
Disclaimer: All known characters and premises belong to their respective owners. So there.
Notes: Written for "cuddyfest" : 93. Cuddy has to choose between saving her entire career or the life of one young patient. Dedicated to Caroline for always being a constant supporter of my work. I love you!

She stood outside his office, watching him pace - a fluid movement interrupted only by a limp, as his mind was vocalized through muted words and precise arm movements. Her fingers dug into the thin folder that she held, nails causing creases in the yellowed cardboard that held a few sheets in captivity. She turned to leave but then stopped suddenly. Glancing back, she inhaled sharply and moved back to the glass window, slightly hidden by the half-drawn vertical blinds. She glanced at him again and repeated her attempted escape before returning back to her post.

She was running out of time and her mind was becoming more and more poisoned with thoughts of probabilities and actions that may not only affect the life of that in need, but those around her. She glanced down at the file, knowing that the whole hospital could be at risk. Eyes closed, she pushed open the door, staring at him but not listening to his now audible words.

"Pranced around enough?" The diagnostician muttered, jerking his head to the place where she had stood not a few moments before. "It was distracting albeit very sexy, though the team and I agree that you definitely have to work on your catwalk."

Cuddy ignored the three doctors sitting at the table, sheets of papers scattered about and coffee cups piling at one edge. "House." Her voice was soft and not in the commanding tone that the rest of them were used to hearing. "I need a..." She held out the file, eyes downcast. "...diagnosis. An opinion. Anything."

He pushed the file away. "Not paid enough, sorry." He limped towards the coffee machine, pouring himself a cup. "If you were maybe to give me an incentive..." He glanced at her over his shoulder, wiggling his brows.

"Fine. No clinic for a month. Just give me something."

A strained chain of words made their way to his ears and he almost dropped the mug. Setting it down on the table, he turned around and leaned against the counter. He watched her while his team watched him watching her. Only her eyes didn't hold someone's. He turned, added a bit of cream and one small packet of sweetener. Picking up the mug, he handed it to Cuddy, lightly grabbing her by the elbow and directing her to his office.

"Wonder what that was about?" Cameron asked, observing them until the vertical blinds cut off her line of view.

"None of our business." Foreman muttered, eyes looking over some random notes. He crossed out a few and added some more information before he nodded to himself and placed the sheet aside.

"Well, if it's a patient maybe we could help -"

" - yes," Foreman interrupted the immunologist, "but it's not the patient you're interested in."

Cameron glanced at Chase for support who merely shrugged, playing the situation diplomatically. He sat back and rested his feet on an empty chair, draping an arm over his eyes, effectively letting the two know that he didn't want any part in anything that didn't concern him.

House closed the glass door behind him, eyes on the woman before him. He drew the blinds shut in a fluid movement, listening to them clatter against each other before they settled, allowing them momentary privacy. He waited for the thin pieces of fabric to stop swaying before he took a step closer to the Princeton-Plainsboro's Dean of Medicine.

"House." She turned abruptly, holding out the file which pressed against his chest as he moved towards her. "What should I do."

He took the file from her hand, fingers grazing hers with purposeful intent. He glanced down before his eyes flickered back at her. "You know the answer." He handed her back the file but she wouldn't take it. "You know the answer, Cuddy...so why are you really here?"

She glanced at the file and turned, fiddling with random items on his desk. "I want to know what to do."

"It's written in this file - hell, it's painfully obvious."

"Could be an error." She offered, though her heart wasn't in testing him or in trying his patience, which in turn drained him from his desire to ruffle her feathers.

He sat down in his chair with a sigh, fingers gently tapping an unknown beat on the folder. "Neonatal jaundice, age of four months which is earlier than average," he began, staring out the window. "Even had cardiac murmurs, which is quite rare. Biopsy later showed she was positive for -"

" - Alagille Syndrome, yes I know. Been suffering with bile build-up that's essentially eating away her liver and will probably move on to the other major organs. She's already having difficulty breathing and is susceptible to cardiac arrest. You don't have to summarize the report, House."

He swivelled, facing her. "Figured you wanted a bed-time story since you obviously know the answer." He twirled his cane, observing her. "What are you avoiding?"

Cuddy took a step forward, reaching for the file.

He moved his hand, effectively keeping it out of reach. "What are you hiding from, Cuddy? Because I can give you some tips." He gave her a slow smile. "I'm good at hiding."

"Cassandra. She's ten years old," she began, voice trembling a bit. "She's bright, she loves to be read to, she wants to be a soccer player when she grows up. And play the violin. And be a painter. And be a teacher."

"You're getting attached, Cuddy." House said cautiously, though still allowing her space for her words, for her emotions.

"She likes video games -"

"So you did steal my PSP this morning!" He stood up, challenging her.

"We have her on Rifambin, 10mg. Had her on Atarax before, but we ended up hurting her by having to force a catheter in her."

"Wimp." He mumbled, sitting back down.

"She's ten years old, House! What she's dealing with? It's not her fault! She...she unfortunately found herself in the percentage of people affected by their parents' genes." She sat down across from him, chewing on her lip. "Her mom was twenty-two when she passed away. Suffered her whole life with a failing liver that was disintegrating from the inside because they couldn't afford the medical bills."

"How old was the kid when her mother died?" He asked, opening the folder again.

"Seven months. Her father thinks that she died of a broken heart, of having sentenced her own daughter to death." Cuddy replied softly. "Treatments, drugs even hypnosis to deal with the pain. Nothing's worked and now..."

"Now her liver is going to join mommy in heaven."

"And Cassie will too, if we don't do something about it!" Her words were harsher than she intended, and she glanced away quickly, trying to collect her bearings.

"So do something." He got up, tossing the folder on the table in front of her. "You don't need me for that."

She grabbed his wrist though her eyes still wouldn't meet his. "There aren't any livers available." She swallowed hard. "She has roughly twenty hours to live and there aren't any livers available for a transplant."

"Want me to ask Foreman to find some on the black market?" He shrugged off her slumped shoulders. "What? He's black. He should know their market."

She let go of his wrist and picked up the folder, clutching it to her chest. She nodded a small thanks and walked out of his office.

House watched her leave before staring at the ceiling. He pushed open the door and joined his team, picking up where he left off.

"What's wrong with Dr. Cuddy?" Cameron asked, ignoring House's differential.

He stopped mid-sentence and glanced at her. "Cuddy is an idiot," he stated without threat. "But I don't doubt for a second that she'll make the right call." He turned and erased the whiteboard, tossing the marker cap at the blond Aussie, effectively waking him up. "Okay, Sleeping Beauty...where were we?"

She stepped into Cassandra's room, eyeing the girl playing with House's PSP.

"I almost finished the third level of Lemmings!" She exclaimed happily, not looking up.

Cuddy looked around, realizing that the girl was talking to her. "Hi Cassandra. I see you got the PSP that I gave your dad." She stated, trying to keep her voice level.

The little girl smiled, nodding her head as her auburn curls bounced around. She turned off the game and looked at Cuddy. "My dad went to the bathroom. You can talk medicine when he comes back and I'll listen to my music." She said, pointing to an old cassette player.

Cuddy picked up the cassette player, opening it up and looking at the labeled tape. "Britney, huh?"

"I'm allowed to listen to her music, but I'm not allowed to watch her videos, interviews or even think of dressing like her. Dad says she's dirty." The little girl replied, not looking up from her game.

Cuddy pulled up a chair and sat down beside the girl. "I actually wanted to introduce myself properly." She held out her hand. "I'm Dr. Cuddy but I want you to call me Lisa, okay?"

The little girl put her small hand in that of the Dean's. "I'm Cassie."

Though her handshake was weak, Cuddy still felt some strength. "I'm glad you're a fighter, Cassie." Cuddy said, gently brushing some stray locks from the girl's face. "And...I think it's time you started being a part of all of this." She spread her arms, motioning the room and hospital. "I think you're smart enough to understand."

"I know that I'm very sick. Like mommy was." Cassandra said. "Daddy takes care of me, but it's hard."

"Your father is very strong. I think you get your courage from him." Cuddy told the girl sincerely. "Do you know what illness you have?"

"It's starts with an 'A'...but I can never remember. Daddy doesn't talk about it much."

"It's called Alagille. It's usually passed down from a parent and in your case, your mom. It does bad things to your liver." Cuddy said, gently placing her hand right underneath the girl's chest, to the right of the stomach. Cuddy glanced at the small timer as it beeped loudly. "You need your vitamin supplements." She said, reaching over and taking a small clear plastic cup with three pills inside. "You take them one at a time?"

Cassandra nodded, taking the cup from Cuddy. She picked one of them out and placed it in her mouth, reaching for the glass on the table in front of her.

Cuddy waited until she finished all three pills and smiled sadly at the little girl. "I need to talk to you about your liver." She finally said, taking a deep breath.

"Dr. Cuddy?"

Cuddy turned around, seeing the girl's father looking at her oddly. "Mr. Jonas. I was just chatting with Cassandra."

"Please, call me Steve." He took a few steps and joined his daughter on the other side of the bed. "Hey Red," he said, kissing his daughter on the top of her head.

"Hi Daddy! Lisa was just talking to me about my pains."

Steve glanced at the doctor uneasily. "I don't think she needs to be thinking about this."

"I disagree." Cuddy stood up, looking at the man across from her. "I think Cassie is very smart for her age. I think she deserves to know. It is her life after all."

"I don't want her getting sad. She doesn't need to be in pain physically and psychologically," he dropped his voice, knowing that Cuddy understood him even if she hadn't heard him, "in the last few hours of her life."

"Dad." Cassandra grabbed her father's hand, squeezing it as hard as she could. "I want to know."

Cuddy sat back down, taking Cassandra's hand in hers. "We don't have a liver for you. A new one."

Steve closed his eyes and turned his head away, trying to control his emotions. "How long - "

"Months before we can find a donor. Cassie doesn't have - " She stopped herself, looking at the young girl.

"Dad?" Cassandra looked at her father, tears in her eyes. "Daddy? I'm going to die?"

Cuddy bit the inside of her cheek, tears forming behind her eyes as she forced herself not to let them fall. House's words made their presence in her mind and she knew she was way too attached. She barely knew this girl and she found herself so effected. "But we're doing all we can - "

" - then save her." Bill interrupted, voice strained and eyes begging.

Cuddy nodded, as a tear escaped. "Excuse me." She took leave, heading straight for her office. Closing the door, she drew the blinds and sat down heavily on her couch as the tears escaped in numbers. She swiped angrily at them, irate that there was nothing that she could do.

"Find your answer yet?"

"God dammit, House!" She exclaimed, jumping slightly. She clenched her fists, not bothering to wipe the tear stains from her cheeks.

"I'm guessing...that would be a no." He motioned to her tears. "Can't save them all, Cuddy. No matter the age, sex or creed. Some people have to die."

"But why her?" Cuddy countered. "Technically, she could be saved..."

"...for the moment. Life expectancy is what, twenty odd years? She's doomed no matter what. Keep her alive and in pain?"

"There are treatments, House."

"Treatments cost money. Single parent raising a sick child is a death sentence in itself, with or without medical breakthrough. Everything you're doing...will it be worth it to know that she's going to die anyway?"

She sighed. "We could at least try and give her a fighting chance. Who knows? In ten years there may be a miracle drug on the market that could delay the ailments or even cure them all together. Why rob her of that possibility?" Her shoulders slumped in defeat and she made her way to her desk, her safe haven where she felt the most powerful.

"You'll figure something out." He said finally, willing to fill in the silence. He looked at her sadly, before blinking away any incriminating emotion that whispered through. "Night."

Her exhausted eyes took in the auburn hues of the setting sun. Hand to the window, she tapped her fingernails against the glass, only turning when she heard a strong knock on her office door. "Mr. Gouldman, please come in." She motioned the seats in front of her desk.

Jeff Gouldman pushed past his father, and slumped in the chair in front of her, not bothering to offer her any acknowledgment. She glanced at him and then at his father who had just closed the door behind him.

"Dr. Cuddy, it's a pleasure to meet you." Bill Gouldman began, a thick Texan filtering through. He took a seat beside his son, patting the boy amicably on the shoulder. "Jeffery and I are both pleased that Jeffery's new liver arrived today."

"Yes, my assistant told me that she called you this morning, to let you know of the liver's arrival."

He nodded to the Dean, his voice boisterous. "Well, with the amount of funding we've offered Princeton-Plainsboro, I was surprised a red carpet wasn't issued for our arrival." He glanced at his son and then back at Cuddy. "That was a joke, Dr. Cuddy."

Cuddy swallowed her disgust, and smiled at him. "But of course, Mr. Gouldman." She turned to his son, forcing a smile. "And you, Jeffery, how are you feeling?"

"Whatever. Just want to get my liver out and done. I hate sleeping with that stupid thing inside of me." The twenty-two year old replied.

"Well, the catheter is necessary to filter out your body's waste. Without your liver functioning, you do need it else you can get ill." Cuddy explained, fighting the urge to speak through clenched teeth.

"I think Jeffrey just can't wait to start drinking again!" His father laughed, giving his son a playful slap on the back. "Will he learn from his mistakes and shoot his second liver? Who the hell knows, right? Kids will be kids..." He joked, throwing the Dean a wink.

Cuddy took a deep breath. "About the liver, Mr. Gouldman. I was wondering if you'd be willing to save a young child's life."

The Texan paused and then looked at his son. "Trust me, Dr. Cuddy, my money's saving someone, don't you fret."

"No, I mean...Cassandra is ten years old, Mr. Gouldman. And she needs a liver in the next couple of hours or she will die. I know it's inconvenient for Jeffery, but I was wondering if you would mind donating this liver to this child in need, and we'll get you a new liver in the next few days."

"Well Dr. Cuddy," Bill got up, motioning for his son to do the same, "I do wish you luck with your search, and I do hope that poor girl gets something to make her all hearty -"

" - so you're not going to help her." Cuddy stated, shaking her head sadly, though anger seemed ever present in her voice.

"Listen, my money paid for that liver and need I remind you that my money also paid for a wing in your precious hospital. My son deserves that liver."

"Your son deserves to be slapped across the face." The words were out before she could stop them. She pressed her lips into a fine line, standing by her outburst.

"Excuse me -"

"No, excuse me. What's happening to this little girl is not her fault. She was born with an illness that could be controlled, hell even cured! What happened to your son is his own damn fault due to substance abuse and the fact that he never even sought help! You didn't even offer help, Mr. Gouldman. You seem more than proud that your son is an alcoholic who's ruined his liver and who is literally taking the life from some little girl. Jeffery can survive another month. Cassandra won't survive another night."

"Well that's a heart warming story, Dr. Cuddy. Unfortunately, my son is getting that liver." The Texan turned, opening the door. "Don't go and try playing any tricks, Dr. Cuddy. No one messes with the Gouldman's. You come anywhere near that liver, and I'll make sure that you won't even be able to buy over-the-counter meds."

She rubbed her arms, trying to get rid of the goose bumps that littered her skin. Picking up the phone, she dialed her assistant's number. "Susan, when is the Gouldman's liver coming in?"

"All work and no play makes Cuddy a bitchy girl."

She glanced up, giving her Diagnostician a frown before returning her attention back to the Chinese take-out in front of her.

He eyed the few boxes in front of her, eyebrows resting high on his forehead.

She rolled her eyes, handing him the take-out box she was eating from. "Butterfly shrimp." She stated, handing him her chopsticks.

He dropped his bag beside her desk and sat down in the seat in front of her. "Shiazia." He glanced up, shrugging off her confused look. "It means 'thank you'...in Shanghainese."


They fell into a companionable silence, one happily munching on pilfered food, the other in reflective silence. She swivelled in her chair, looking outside into the deep, dark night though only seeing his reflection in the glass.

"So, what are you up to?"

She turned to face him, leaning over and taking the chopsticks from his hand. "What do you mean?" She picked up another box and began slurping some noodles.

"Charming," he grimaced, taking a sip from her diet Coke. "I mean, what are you going to do?" He took the offered chop sticks back, finishing off the last of the butterfly shrimp. "About Cassandra." He clarified, between mouthfuls.

She took a sip of her drink and shrugged. "I don't know."

"C'mon. You're Cuddy, Cuddy. Of course you know. Hell, you even know what you're going to wear next month." He argued, now finishing off her drink. He reached out for the noodles, smirking when she handed them over to him, defeated. "So, tell me."

"There's nothing to tell. I don't have a secret plan, House. I'm not as...cunning as you are." She rolled her eyes, reaching into a brown paper bag to retrieve her dessert.

"Right. And I bet you have extra sprinkles on your vanilla and chocolate swirl ice-cream cup. So obviously, what you're planning on doing is either very dangerous and you're already aware of the consequences, or you've been starving yourself and you're binging." He sat back, eyes piercing into her with an annoyingly smug expression.

She left the offending cup inside the bag and casually tossed it in the garbage. "I don't know what you're talking about. And anyway, the less people that know, the better." She thrust her chin out defiantly, though she knew House saw past the facade.

"Fine." He picked up the empty take-out boxes and tossed them in the garbage. Standing up, he rested his cane in the crook of his arm. "Whatever it is, remember that you're going to have a big ol' poopy mess to clean up when all this is done."

She nodded, watching him turn and head towards the door. She turned and faced her window, once more staring into the darkness of the night. She knew there would be repercussions and she knew that there would be a lot of mess to clean up.

She also knew that the mess she would have to deal with, wouldn't be in the confines of this hospital. Of her hospital.

Glancing outside her window, she took in the lush greens that lay peacefully on the hospital's grounds. She watched as the sun's rays shone, making the grass appear even brighter. A new morning, and Cassandra had not had a pleasant night. She was still fighting, but Cuddy knew that it was a losing battle. She willed the little girl's body to follow her mind's lead, and fight the disease.

She opened up her lunch box, peering inside at the small portion of mixed greens composing her salad, a yogurt and an apple juice box. She closed the lid of her plastic lunch container, leaving it on her desk and headed out the door. Glancing at the nurses' station, she walked up to one of the women on duty. "Has the Gouldman liver come in today?"

The young woman smiled, handing Cuddy a chart to sign. "Yes, Dr. Cuddy. If you could just sign here, saying that it has been received."

The Dean smiled sweetly, picking up the pen and reading the chart. Her pager went off and she glanced down. "Oh, I need to take this call. I'll have my assistant send back the form for you to file." She called over her shoulder, turning and heading back to her office. Once inside, she turned off the alarm on her pager and sat down behind her desk. Her fingers made quick with retyping the form, and she quickly printed a new version of which she quickly signed.

She picked up her thermal lunch box and walked back to the nurses' station. "I'll just file it myself," she told the busy nurse, who nodded her thanks. She left her lunch box on table, beside the similar looking organ transportation box. She opened up the filing cabinet, slipping the form in a folder, in the J section.

She was about to pick up the plastic container when she saw Bill Gouldman march in the hospital, followed by a hired-help who was wheeling his apathetic-looking son in a wheelchair. She ducked down behind the counter, ignoring the curious looks her staff was giving her. She reached up and grabbed the container, checking the contents before making her escape. Satisfied with what she found, she began to crawl towards her office, unseen.

She stopped suddenly, seeing a cane blocking her path. She glanced up, container handle clasped in her mouth.

"Bad. Bad bad Cuddy! Are you doing a no-no in your own hospital?" He teased, tapping her shoulder lightly with his cane. "If you beg, I'll give you a treat."

She eyed him irritably, grasping his cane in the middle and using it to lift herself up. "Please, like any woman would beg for you." She stated, strategically placing herself behind House. She watched as the nurse pointed to the plastic container that sat atop the counter, and ordered another nurse to take it to the OR.

"Have you seen my cane?" He twirled it around, standing up slightly taller, helping conceal her.

"Ah. Compensation."

"No ... scale."

"Oh, you mean width wise." She stated sweetly, two fingers gripping the cane, lightly gliding them up and down the cylindrical wooden surface.

He stared at her fingers for a beat. "I'll have you know that women call out my name in -"

" - yeah, when they're pointing you out in a sex offenders' line-up." She glanced over his shoulder, content that the Texan was busy filling out various forms. She walked past House, the organ transportation box tightly clasped.


It was soft and she wasn't sure she even heard it. She turned around, suddenly vulnerable.

He lumbered towards her, leaning on his cane and observing her. He watched her bow her head slightly, knowing she was chastising herself for her decisions. For her actions. Knuckles gently grazed the side of her jaw in a tender stroke that forced her eyes to his.

He nodded his respect, knowing she needed support to calm her mind. "I'm behind you..."

She smiled, giving him a sad nod.

"...using you as a shield when the shit's going to hit the fan."

She let out a soft chuckle, her eyes glistening. "It's going to be messy, huh?"

"You'll have a hell of a lot to clean up. I suggest renting one of those sexy French Maid outfits. You know, to help me through the hard times."

She didn't miss a beat. "I won't be here." With that, she placed a hand on his shoulder, giving it a small squeeze before moving past him and heading towards the Pediatric section of the hospital.

"I know." House watched her as she disappeared behind the elevator doors.

House scowled at the nurse who had not only cut him off in the parking lot, but also failed to hold the door open for him. "Thank you for respecting us cripples!" He yelled at the young nurse, fighting the urge to club him in the kneecap with his cane. He was grumpy that it was the start of another week. "Do you think if the weekend began on Sunday and ended up on Monday night, people would be more pleasant in the morning? Or would Tuesday just become the new Monday?" He asked his best-friend, who joined him on the elevator.

"I take it you don't follow much with office politics, do you?" Wilson asked him, handing him a folder with two sheets. "Find me later."

House opened the folder, face remaining impassive. "Yeah." He muttered, not bothering to look up when his friend exited the elevator. He pressed the ground floor, stepping out and heading to the Dean of Medicine's office. He ignored her assistant and barged in, words falling out of his mouth before he even stepped into the room. "I always knew you were a sly one but forging a donor application is - " His words fell short when he glanced around the empty room. No coats hanging near the door. No picture frames or tacky-yet-distracting ornaments and trinkets adorning the once cluttered desk. No sign of life. "...is stupid."

She paused, seeing movement in the back row before clearing her throat and continuing. She glanced at the now full room, her nerves completely at ease. "Thus, all this to say that when you head out into the field, no matter the area that you specialize in, you have to be aware of consequences. Sometimes it's a slap on the wrist. Sometimes it's far worse. And sometimes, it's bittersweet, leaving you proud yet angry, wishing you could change it but at the same time, not wanting to."

She glanced up, motioning to the young girl sitting in the front row. "And was it worth it?"

For a second, Cuddy saw those auburn curls bounce, and a small freckled nose wrinkle. She smiled, and blinked the image away. "Definitely." She replied softly, bowing her head and trying to control her near-watering eyes. She sighed, thanking the higher-ups for allowing the bell to ring, signaling the end of class. "Next week, there will be a special lecture on administration so if managing a hospital interests you, please show up at 1pm in this classroom." She nodded, smiling at students who came up to her, thanking her for the lecture.

He watched her chat with a few students, one leg resting on the back of the chair in front of him and cap pulled down, covering his eyes. He waited until the last of the students filtered out, and stood up, taking his time to meander down the stairs. "Interesting lecture, Professor. A few falters here and there, but you had my attention for the most part."

"Well thank you, House - "

"And by you, I meant your breasts." He leered, obviously not embarrassed by his crude behaviour.

"Why are you here? And I know it's not because of my lecture. You practically wrote the book on 'on the job consequences.'"

"Came to check up on you. You kind of left in a hurry, didn't leave a forwarding address...weren't answering your cell, or your door. I think your mother has my number permanently blocked..." He mused. "Guess she didn't like how much I was charging for the phone sex..." He babbled, pleased when he saw an irritated smile. "Missed that." He pointed to her mouth.

"Missed what?" She asked, suddenly self-conscious.

"That. That pissed off smile that you always gave me. And only me. The new Dean isn't as nice as you were. And by nice, I mean doesn't have funbags as sexy as yours."

"Well, you're the only one who could piss me off but still make me laugh and I hope that Dr. Hal Dunn doesn't have a rack that rivals mine." She admitted, packing up her things.

"We can't all be blessed with multi-faceted personalities. Dr. Hal does have a cleavage that rivals yours though. Man boobs the size of cantaloups, I kid you not." He took a step closer to her.

She snorted, humouring him. "Yeah, you're the ninth wonder of the world, House."

"Working my way up to number one, don't you know." He retorted, slowly advancing on her. He stopped in front of her, waiting for her to turn and face him.

She shouldered her bag and turned, almost running into him. They were close. A little too close for comfort and she fought to take a step back, not willing to let him know that he still had an effect on her. "Why did you come, House. And not to my lecture. You've been to every lecture I've given since I started working here at Robert Wood Johnson. So why now? Why here?" She motioned around them.

He tilted his head downwards, looking at her through his lashes. "Well, since we're no longer under scrutiny of the higher-ups..." His eyes flickered to her lips, before meeting her blues once more. "We could always..."

She parted her lips. "Because I'm the last person in the world who could actually tolerate a relationship with you?" She asked, a hidden smile caressing her words.

"Hey, Wilson and I have gotten very cosy since you've been gone, before he found his own plaything." He replied defensively. His eyes roamed her face, settling once more on her gaze and analyzing the intent in her eyes. He could make out arousal and fear, noting that the former seemed to take control. He leaned in, brushing his lips gently against her, pulling back quickly to observe her shocked yet serene state.

Eyes still closed, lips still parted, she breathed deeply, letting herself be affected by the kiss. She opened her eyes slowly, watching him watch her. "That's it? What, am I, sloppy seconds? Rebound girl because precious Wilson is too busy to play in the sandbox with you?" She teased, folding her arms across her chest.

He leaned in, kissing her a little more insistently, one hand slipping around her waist. He pulled back abruptly, holding his long-lost PSP up, having just snatched it from her open bag. "Actually, I lied. The past few weeks have just been research while this week, I decided to carry out my extraction mission and free my kidnaped PSP from the arms of the She-Devil. I see my searing kisses of power have distracted you - rendered you helpless as I save my dear friend." He turned and began to walk up the stairs.

"So...that's it?" She asked, swallowing hard.

"Well, foul being, you can make it up to me. It involves coming home with me. Late at night. Both of us in a comfy yet required position..."

She rolled her eyes, huffing slightly as she followed his lead up the stairs. "Fine! I'll watch the L-Word with you! Geez!"