Whipping through the autumn air, the cool wind coaxed the dry leaves from their branches. Falling in a cascade of reds and golds, the once green foliage rustled in the air as it came to rest on Lisa Cuddy's driveway.
Pressing the tiny button to open her garage door, Cuddy walked out into the crisp fall air. Ever since she was a little girl Lisa had loved the months that chased away the summer heat. She loved the cool breezes and the rustling leaves. And it didn't end with the weather either.
No, there was also the promise of holiday treats. The woman craved candy corn like a junkie craved his drugs. During the fall months she always kept a steady supply of the colorful treat on her dining room table. From the first time she saw candy corn in the drug store in September and until it went on clearance November first.
From an early age Lisa had embraced everything about Halloween. She had always picked out her costume with an extreme attention to detail. She'd even searched for the perfect bucket to trick or treat with every year. There was, however, one thing that the woman loved more than all of the leaves, caramel apples, and candy corn combined.
It was a time-honored tradition that always began with going to the local pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin. After the perfect gourd was selected came cutting open the top and scooping out the guts. And then there was the most important part of any soon to be jack-o-lantern... Drawing on a scary face that she would then carve onto the orange fruit.
Last but not least was the soft flickering of the candle in its eyes and mouth, the sight had always seemed to fill her heart with warmth. All of this led up to the gentle smell of warm pumpkin as the flame dried out the top of the pumpkin. To the raven-haired woman, jack-o-lanterns were the epitome of Halloween perfection.
It just didn't get any better than coming home to a smiling pumpkin on her front porch after a long day at the hospital.
Wrapping her slender arms around her body to block out the afternoon chill, the woman smiled at the man, pumpkin in hand, walking up her driveway.
Rushing forward, Cuddy took the soon to be jack-o-lantern from Wilson's hands. He protested, but she insisted, even though the pumpkin looked relatively heavy.
Taking the gourd from James, Lisa looked down, refusing to meet the man's gaze as their hands brushed. Not daring to look up, the woman was unable to search the man's face for any acknowledgement of the contact. But a nervous little laugh told her everything she needed to know.
"This way. I set up a table in the garage." Hoisting the pumpkin up a little, she led Wilson towards the small card table. It was covered with news paper and carving utensils. The table seemed to be begging for a pumpkin.
"Ok. I… I could take that for you." Watching the woman stumble towards the table, the oncologist fought the urge to rush forward and grab the heavy pumpkin before she dropped it. Instead, he hung back and looked her over as she walked away.
He wasn't checking her out or tracing the curves of her backside with his eyes. No, the man was marveling at how… comfortable and relaxed Cuddy seemed. Wilson had never seen the woman this calm and happy, and the effect was amazing.
Lisa Cuddy was always beautiful, but today, in a zip up sweatshirt and jeans, she was radiant.
"No, I've got -" With a small 'hmph,' she heaved the pumpkin onto the table, hoping that it wouldn't collapse under the weight. Brushing the palms of her hands off on the back of her pants, Lisa looked at the man for the first time since they'd touched. The woman shrugged off her unease as being the by-product of Wilson seeing her home for the first time. With the pumpkin in place, Cuddy finally turned around and looked him in the eye.
The look on his face was a mixture of contentment, amusement, and curiosity. Smiling slightly, the woman tilted her head to the side. "What?" She had meant for the question to sound causal, but instead, her voice was hesitant. Worried.
"I've just never seen you this happy. That's all."
If someone else had commented on her happiness level, Lisa would have forced them to explain what they meant. But the smile in Wilson's voice was soothing. More complimentary than personal assessment. She could have explained her love of everything fall and how the season always warmed the deepest parts of her heart and soul, but she decided not to. Instead she let her face split into a wide smile as she placed the palms of her hands on the cool pumpkin.
Lisa had countered his compliment with a smile, and that was enough for him. James didn't need for her to return the gesture or make one of her own. "So, what first? Cut open the top or draw on the face?"
Placing his hands on the table, Wilson watched as Lisa's fingers slid lovingly over the curves of the orange gourd. Studying the slender digits that ended in perfectly polished half-moon nails, the oncologist noticed that the raven-haired woman seemed to be entranced by the object.
His question about where to start was left forgotten, and the silence allowed another something else to creep into his mind. It was something he'd been trying not to wonder about since she'd first invited him over. "Not to sound… rude, but why me?" His voice sounded more hesitant than he would have liked, and he'd have done anything to take back the next question that fell from his lips. "Why not House?"
The moment that the other man's name filled the air, Cuddy's fingers stopped tracing the pumpkin. James had pulled her from her dreams and he was worried that their… whatever this was, was over. Half holding his breath, he waited for her response.
"I just… we went to the play. And the art exhibit -"
Trailing off, Lisa's voice held the faintest trace of hurt, and James couldn't help but interrupt her. "Oh! Good. I'm glad that you…" There was no real point to what he was saying. Wilson was trying desperately to gloss the moment over, and it just wasn't working. At that moment, the oncologist could not help but feel completely and utterly pathetic.
Thankfully Lisa seemed to have noticed and took it upon herself to put the bumbling man out of his misery.
"Carve first. That way, the marker won't smear if it gets wet." Deep down, Lisa was sure that James knew how to carve a pumpkin. But she was thankful for any excuse to move away from the topic at hand.
The sweet smile spread over the woman's face filled her dark eyes as she pressed the tip of her carving knife into the top of the pumpkin. Moving the blade through the orange flesh with the precision of a surgeon, Lisa bit down on her lower lip. Making her way around the pumpkin's top she made sure to cut little slits for the smoke to escape.
Even he thought that he had been uncomfortable before, it was nothing compared to how he felt now. Watching the woman work the top of the gourd loose, James racked his brain for something, anything to say that would make him not sound like a fool once again.
A small 'aha' and the squishy pop of the pumpkin coming apart saved them both from any further embarrassment. Wilson seized the moment, reaching out; the oncologist was careful to avoid brushing the woman's hands again as he took the top from her.
Holding the pumpkin top steady, James observed the woman as she cut off the slimy strings and seeds attached to what was going to be lid of their jack-o-lantern. He had no idea that the strong and independent woman he saw at work could be this relaxed and happy. It wasn't that she was uptight or tightly wound, but Lisa always seemed so… harassed at the hospital. Watching her eyes twinkle as she scooped the seeds into a bowl, Wilson couldn't help but wonder what had made the woman so happy.
"You seem really into this." Mentally chastising himself for being completely lame, Wilson couldn't figure out why he didn't quit while he was ahead. Unfortunately, it seemed as though he were completely beyond salvation.
Taking the top of the pumpkin back, Lisa placed it on the rickety table. Ready to dig into the mushy insides of the orange fruit, she pushed up her sleeves. "Yeah, I've always loved fall and Halloween."
The whole time she'd been cutting open the pumpkin, Lisa had felt James's eyes searching her face. It should have made her uncomfortable than it did. For some reason, his gaze had always managed to touch her deeply. Perhaps it was the warmth behind his soft irises or the fact that she knew he genuinely cared about her. Either way, the raven-haired woman almost enjoyed the feeling of Wilson watching her.
"And now… we get to clean it out. Just make sure that you throw everything into the bowl. I'm going to roast the seeds later." As the wind rustled the leaves on the ground, a few more fell from the tree in her front yard, joining the mixture of red and gold. It was a chilly, and the insides of the pumpkin were sure to be cold, but that was ok. It was part of the fall experience after all.
Preparing to plunge her slender fingers into the slime, the beaming woman looked up at Wilson. The look on his face, however, was not what she had expected to see. Standing on the other side of the card table, the man was holding one of the large serving spoons and wearing a look that could only be described as confusion. Lisa could only assume that the look on his face was a reaction to her sticking her bare hands into the mushy insides of the pumpkin.
Not bothering to hide her amusement, Lisa took the spoon away from her guest. "No. No. No. You have to reach in and pull out the slime… with your hands."
"But then why do you have the spoons?"
Placing the spoon on the table, Lisa shook her head, causing her black curls to sway back and forth. "You use those to clean around the edges when you're done." Watching the man before her, she couldn't help thinking he still didn't look convinced about sticking his hands into the pumpkin.
Plunging her own fingers into the oversized gourd's slimy depths, Cuddy began to scoop out the plump white seeds. "Look, you're a doctor; you've stuck your hands into thing that are way worse than this." Plopping a large glob of goo into the bowl, Lisa chuckled slightly. Watching the man grimace as he finally sticking his hands into the slimy mess she smiled.
The pumpkin was relatively large so the woman put her slimy hands back into the pumpkin along with the oncologist's.
From the outside, the orange fruit had looked big enough for two people. But from the inside… was another story.
Leaning forward at the same time, James and Lisa ended up a breath away from being cheek to cheek. Pulling at the stringy insides of the pumpkin, Wilson tried to stay as still as possible. From the lack of movement next to him, it seemed like the woman on the other side of the table felt the same way. The thought that Lisa Cuddy seemed to feel like he did caused the bats that were flapping around his stomach to multiply. Not wanting to break the moment, Wilson bit back a tiny smile and allowed the giddy silence to wash over him.
Wrapped up in the woman next to him, the oncologist absentmindedly swirled his hand over the insides of the gourd. Not really caring about whether he was actually scooping up any seeds he barely noticed the slimy strings slipping over his fingers.
Another gust of autumn wind rattled the trees on Cuddy's front lawn, sending a swirl of colorful foliage over the driveway. As their fingers brushed again, a few of the leaves blew into the clean garage, scraping over the cement floor.
Inside of the pumpkin, the slender digits of Lisa's hand slipped over the curves of the pumpkins walls. Gooey strings wrapped themselves around her fingers, and cool seeds slipped over her knuckles. Closing her hand over a messy clump of pumpkin innards, the woman felt the tips of her fingers slide over something that was neither seed nor slimy string.
Under her fingertips, James's hand was cool to the touch, his skin cold from the chilly wind and the mushy pumpkin. It was just an accidental brush of fingers. Their skin brushed again, but this time more purpose. Biting back a shy smile, Lisa couldn't help but feel like the swirling leaves were now in her stomach.
Covered in pumpkin guts, the man and woman's fingers experimentally slid over one another inside the orange gourd. Neither daring to make eye contact, they both stood over the pumpkin, trying to not hold their breath. Standing in Lisa's garage, the brisk autumn wind slipped into to meet them as the silently asked one another for permission to acknowledge what was happening.
As her touch became surer under his, James allowed a breath that he hadn't realized he'd been holding to escape. Gently twisting the tips of his fingers around hers, Wilson smiled slightly. The whole thing seemed so surreal. Being at Cuddy's house on a Saturday afternoon. Carving a pumpkin with her. It was really quite wonderful.
Holding onto her fingers for a few seconds longer than the moment before, Wilson froze as another sensation took him by surprise. Pressed gently against his cheek, her lips were softer than he could have ever imagined. It was only a tiny peck, nothing more. But, the touch encouraged a part of him that had been dead for quite some time.
Her lips lingered on his cheek for only a moment, and as she pulled away, he noticed the edges of her lips curling in a soft smile that mirrored his own. The heat of her warm lips against his cool skin had left a mark that the man could still feel burning on his face.
Tingling on his skin, the ghostly mark told James to reach through the mushy mixture of pumpkin slime and seeds and twine his fingers through hers. As the tingling touch began to fade, it whispered one other thing to the man.
Tightening his grip around her fingers, James Wilson turned to face Cuddy for the first time since they'd begun cleaning out the soon to be jack-o-lantern. Not bothering to search her blue eyes for some sign of approval, the man leaned forward closing the breath of space between them.
A tender press of lips against another, the kiss was tentative and nervous, everything a first kiss should be.
Encouraging the caress to continue, James allowed his eyes to drop closed along with Lisa's. With their hands still laced together inside of the pumpkin, the two forgot about the chilly seeds and the rickety table, allowing themselves to be lost in the excitement of the moment.
Pulling her free hand from the bowl of orange mush, Lisa placed her palm on James's cheek. His reaction, however, was not what she'd expected.
The moment the palm of her slimy hand cupped his jaw, Wilson pulled back slightly, a small sound of disgust escaping his throat. Opening her eyes as quickly as possible, Lisa couldn't help but wonder what she'd done wrong. It wasn't until she saw the slimy guts sticking to James's cheek that realization hit.
Laughing gently, Lisa reached out and pulled the gooey string away from the man's cheek. Reaching her eyes, the amusement on her face threatened to send her into a fit of giggles as James continued to look thoroughly disgusted. Pressing her hand to his face once again, just to see his reaction, she couldn't stop the laughter that flowed through her words.
"Relax. It's just pumpkin goop."
Squeeka Cuomo's Chart
- Originally written for the lj community Wilson Fest (Prompt: Wilson and Cuddy carve a pumpkin.).
- Also written for the lj community alphabetasoup (Q is for Quixotic).
- I have always loved Halloween and really, this fic is just me indulging my love of the holiday. I hope that you all have a very happy Halloween. :)
- Katie, I can very safely say that this fic would not have been finished without your amazing support. Thank you so much. I could not have done it without your help. :duck: