A/N: Okay, I know what some of you are thinking. House/Cuddy?? What?! Has she gone crazy? Has she 'jumped ship'? No, none of those. This was yet another story I wrote for the Saturday Night Writing Challenge at the House Fox Forum. I tried, I really did, to write this with Cameron, but it just didn't work. And then it occurred to me how much easier it would be if was a Cuddy story. I hemmed and hawed and almost scrapped the whole thing. But then I wrote it, because it's a challenge, after all. So for any Huddy fans who happen upon this, I hope I did it justice.
Disclaimer: If House really belonged to me, this would never, ever happen.
How I Negotiated For Your Mother
"It was a dark and stormy night," House began.
"No it wasn't," his wife interrupted, without raising her eyes from the book she was reading.
"Yes it was," House insisted. He turned back to his audience, the both of them, seated on the living room floor cross-legged. "It was a dark and stormy night…"
"Not even close to true," his wife insisted, her eyes still glued to the novel in her slender hands.
"Who is telling this story?" House demanded, turning to give her his patented annoyed face.
"I was, until you barged in," she replied.
"Because I tell it better," House argued.
She finally lowered the paperback a few inches, glancing amusedly at him over the tops of her reading glasses. "How can your story be any better than mine? It's the same story."
"Yours is boring," House whined.
"Mine is true," she countered. She raised an eyebrow at him and tilted her head ever so slightly. "Are you saying that the story of how we finally became a couple is boring on its own?"
House paused. Yes, she looked amused now, but he was treading in some deep and dangerous waters here. He recognized the willful set of her chin and the directness of her stare. She meant business. He smiled tentatively, but she remained stoic. Check that, deep, dangerous and shark infested waters. His answer would either bring him a rescue chopper or slice open a vein to create a chum line that would surely bring him certain death. Or a night spent sleeping in the guest room. Alone.
"Not boring. Perfect," he said.
"Then there's no sense in embellishing an already perfect story with extraneous and untrue details," she reasoned. "Is there?"
"Right," House said, his tone indicating he acquiesced but in no way agreed with her. He turned his back to his wife and faced his audience again. He made a face to indicate she was obviously insane, and they giggled. House looked at them sternly and they composed themselves, just in time to catch the glint in their mother's eyes as she raised the book to resume reading.
"So, the real story of how your mother and I got together, in painstakingly accurate detail," House announced.
"Not too much detail."
House mimicked her speaking. The audience giggled again. "Are you guys trying to get me into trouble?"
"Dad, just tell it already," six year old Kayla whined. "Mom could have told the whole thing by now!"
"Ankle biter," House snarked.
"Drama queen," Kayla's twin sister Daria snapped back.
"Fine, jeez, give an old man a break," House protested. "So, it was a bright but slightly breezy summer evening. The hospital had arranged a fundraiser for something …"
"Cardio Vascular …"
"Whatever. And be quiet, you're the one who said not too much detail…"
"I hate these things," House grumbled at Wilson as he tapped his cane impatiently at the bar while the bartender took forever bringing his drink.
"Really, because you don't show it all," Wilson said. He'd known he was going to hear this from House at least a dozen times during the function. Unfortunately, he'd only come up with eight clever retorts to use.
"Look at all these people pretending to like each other, pretending to care about whatever they're supposed to be caring about, nodding somberly at each other when the only reason they came at all was to dress up and get tanked on the hospital's dime," House groaned.
"And that's so different from why you're here," Wilson interjected.
"Yes, I'm completely uninterested in whatever the topic at hand is and everyone knows the only reason I came was to avoid being punished with a month of clinic duty," House defended, snatching the glass of amber liquid the bartender now placed in front of him.
"So, the fact that you're honest about why you came makes it okay to get tanked on the hospital's dime," Wilson said. He picked up the glass of wine the bartender offered and put a dollar in the tip jar. House rolled his eyes and limped toward the table where a silent auction had been arranged.
"Who actually bids on this stuff?" House said as he glanced at the items available for the auction. Tickets to a Nicks game, a weekend at a spa/resort, a year of free car washes and detailing services. A familiar name caught his eye and he turned on Wilson instantly. "Why are you bidding on season tickets to the Princeton Repertory Theater?"
Wilson blushed appropriately. He had hoped House would be so uninterested in the silent auction that he wouldn't bother looking, but he should have known that his curiosity was insatiable and unchecked by triviality.
"I … appreciate the arts," Wilson said.
"You are looking to impress some young, tight nurse and get laid," House negated him. Wilson didn't respond.
House continued limping down the tables, making the occasional sarcastic remark about the merits or lack thereof of the remaining auction items. When he reached the final item displayed, he stopped short and squinted his eyes. He cocked his head to one side and pursed his lips slightly. Wilson became nervous; House was planning something.
"What's this?" he asked.
"Forgotten how to read suddenly?" Wilson teased. He looked down at the item in question and immediately sensed trouble. "Cuddy put this here to try to encourage some doctors to bid on items. Whoever makes the highest bid gets to negotiate with her about something she's turned down in the past, and if any funds are required the hospital will use whatever the bid was."
"So she's selling herself to highest bidder," House remarked. "She could have just asked me if she needed a little extra money, I know a madam who's always looking for a new girl."
"House. She's not selling herself. She's giving the department heads a chance to negotiate for something. Like maybe a plasma TV for your office," Wilson said, hoping House would leave this alone.
House merely nodded and limped off. Wilson sighed with relief when House made his way back to the bar for another drink. He wandered off in another direction to speak to a young nurse from the physical therapy department, and didn't notice House saunter back unevenly and place a bid.
Cuddy sighed on Monday morning as she began shifting through the numerous messages, faxes and charts that had accumulated on her desk over the course of the weekend. Her eyes landed on a report about the fundraiser from the accounting department and she dug it out from the pile. Pleased with the results, she was about to place it back in her Inbox when a name from the list of auction winners jumped off the page at her.
Dr. G. House.
House bid on something? Cuddy wondered what could possibly have tempted him, and then groaned as she read. Negotiation with Dr. L. Cuddy re: Departmental Needs.
At this opportune moment, Cuddy's office door flew open and House limped in looking arrogant as ever.
"If you think for one minute I'm going to let you negotiate with me about eliminating, reducing or reassigning your clinic hours I'm afraid you're about to be disappointed," Cuddy warned.
"Pfft … clinic hours are a joy," House said as he settled himself in one of the chairs in front of her desk and kicked his feet atop it. "I've got a much tastier fish to fry."
Cuddy frowned and looked at him carefully. Clinic hours were the only thing he'd ever complained about seriously.
"What do you want?" she asked slowly.
"What I'm after isn't so much for the department as it is for keeping the department head happy," House began.
Cuddy rolled her eyes and stood from her chair. She stepped out from behind her desk, ignoring the way House so obviously looked her up and down. She walked to the file cabinet and opened the top drawer.
"Well you can also forget about my allowing you to have your 'professional ladies' visit you during office hours," Cuddy said. She turned and was surprised to find House standing barely an inch away.
She looked up into his eyes and for just a second he seemed nervous.
"Close, but not quite what I had in mind," House answered her. He continued to stare deeply into her eyes until Cuddy began to feel uncomfortable.
"Well what did you have mind?" she asked saucily. House flirted with her all the time, in his trademark crass way, and usually she could get him to back off by reciprocating. That seemed to have backfired on her this time, as he grinned.
"Dinner. With me. Saturday."
Cuddy allowed the corners of her mouth to turn up in a faint smile.
"Eight. Wear something fun."
"That's it?" Kayla said. "Mom, I thought you told us we should never let anyone talk us into something, especially a boy."
"Nobody can resist my master manipulator mojo," House said. He dropped a kiss on Cuddy's head as he limped out of the room toward the kitchen.
"You're absolutely right, sweetheart," Cuddy called after his retreating back. She winked at the girls, who giggled. "He didn't stand a chance," she whispered to them.