Author's Note: This was originally written for the Livejournal community, Vday Huddy. The request was for something that could fit into season four, so hopefully this works. Spoilers through 4x12, "Don't Ever Change." Please read and review!

Special thanks to my beta, Olly, for all of her help and encouragement. I've never seen so many notes in my life, but I'm grateful for each and every one.

Disclaimer: I don't own the show, so don't sue me.

Down for the Count
By Duckie Nicks

She glanced at the clock again, for the third time in the last five minutes. Her date was supposed to pick her up at six, and it was already nearing seven. As though online dating on Valentine's Day weren't bad enough, Cuddy was facing the distinct possibility of being stood up. Taking another sip of her now cool red wine, she wondered if this guy was ever going to show.

The minutes ticked by, and she couldn't help but think… that maybe she was just destined to be alone.

Or perhaps not, she thought, as the doorbell rang twice, her spirits soaring at the sound. The brunette eagerly scrambled out of her chair, forcing herself to calmly walk towards the door. All the while she fixed her appearance, brushing a few strands of dark hair out of her face, adjusting her cleavage so that it would look just perfect against the red lace of her top. A quick glance in the hallway mirror told her that, if her date hadn't regretted being an hour late before, he would now.

But her good mood didn't last.

Pulling the door open, she saw him standing there, cane in one hand, bag of booze in the other. Quickly her smile turned downwards. And her arms instinctively wrapped around her midsection to ward off the February chill (and perhaps his leering eyes as well). "No, no, no, no, no," Cuddy said exasperated, her head raising to the heavens. This was just her luck. "Why are you here?"

"Wilson and I," House began, speaking as though he were telling a mythical story, "celebrated the last Valentine's Day with beer, Chinese, and female wrestling. It was a glorious day." His cane tapped twice against the ground.

"Then you should celebrate with him."

His blue eyes looked at her sadly. "Can't. He's out with the Bitch. So that means you've got custody for the evening."

In the back of her mind, Cuddy made a mental note to find some way to either get the curmudgeon new friends. Or better yet, find a way to disavow him of the notion that they were friends… even if it wasn't exactly untrue.

"Well, that's sad," she admitted, though the sympathy in her voice non-existent. "But I have a date myself." He looked away then, but it wasn't in guilt, she thought. It was the look he had – like a five year old child – when he had done something he thought was clever, and he wanted her to find out. Rolling her eyes, she asked, "What did you do, House?"

"I didn't do anything," the older man said, pretending to be offended at the accusation. "But I suppose someone did something. Say... broke into your office – it was Kutner, by the way – and searched your email. And then I guess it's possible that, after learning who the hunk-of-the-week was, a homey-turned-neurologist used his position at the hospital to gain Romeo's credit report and medical history." Looking at her innocently, House said, "Or something like that – I don't really know the specifics."

"So now you're not only interfering with my life, but you're also using your team and the hospital's resources to do it," she snapped angrily. Like that was anything new, a voice in the back of her mind chided.

"Not me – someone."

Cuddy bit down on the inside of her cheek. She would not kill him, she told herself over and over. She wouldn't stab him to death, because there was no way she'd be able to dispose of the body. And House was so annoying in life that, if she did murder him, he'd probably spend eternity haunting her.

Reluctantly playing along, she gritted out, "Okay, so this someone, lets call him…" She gestured angrily towards him as she found the words she wanted. "The moronic ass standing on my front porch, figured out that I had a date tonight. I can only assume that you – he – called my date."

His eyes glanced skyward, and he let out a breath between his teeth. "Well… not so much the date as your date's wife."

"He's not married," she said defensively.

"No," he drawled out slowly. "He just said he wasn't married. But I've got a copy of the marriage license, not illegally procured in any way, that says otherwise. Also have about a dozen screeching voice mails from the angry wife." His eyes brightened, his brow furrowing in mock confusion. Sounding incredulous, he said, "tell a girl her husband's cheating, and she wants to kill the messenger. No wonder he's eager to philander with you."

She couldn't help but frown at the news. It was at times impossible to know whether or not he was telling the truth. And there was something so… sad about that fact – that no matter how well she knew him, there would always be a part of him that could manipulate her.

But Cuddy wasn't ready to throw in the towel… even if it was almost inevitable that she would.

"Where's the proof?"

"In my office," House told her as didactically as possible. "It was either bring that or the beer, and I needed the booze to get you drunk."

She sighed. Proof or not, the reality was that in this case, it didn't matter. He could be lying or telling the truth, but… either way, he'd ruined the date. If the mystery man showed up, anyway, House was here now, and that alone would drive anyone with a sense of self-preservation away. "Wonderful," Cuddy said sadly, her voice sounding tight.

"Aww, you should cheer up, Cuddy. You still have me."

Now there was a depressing thought. "Any way for me to get rid of you, by chance?"

"Well, there's always sexual slavery, but then who'd keep you from sleeping with all the losers you seem to attract?" And before she could say anything, House pushed his way past her. "Chinese will be here soon. You should get your wallet out."

He acted as though he owned the place with the way he dumped his cane on the couch and plunked the beer on the coffee table. "Who says you're staying?" she snapped as he shrugged himself out of his coat, letting it fall to the floor.

But House didn't even need to answer the question, because as soon as the doorbell rang again, she was instinctively digging through her purse for her wallet. She slapped a couple twenty-dollar bills in his hand. With him, there was no telling how much food he'd ordered. And frankly, Cuddy thought she'd rather lose a few dollars than give House a reason to snoop through her purse. "Pay for the food… I'm going to change." After all, there was no need to stay dressed up in new clothes for him.

However, the black yoga pants and white sweater she had in mind clearly didn't suit him. Because when she emerged from her bedroom and went back into the hallway, he asked, with lo mein dangling from his mouth, "That's what you're wearing?" He gestured with his chopsticks at her. "Your pasties in the wash?"

She frowned and padded her way to the kitchen, her feet encased with dark wool socks. Snatching up a few dishes, Cuddy returned to the room, where House had perched himself on her couch. "Use a plate," she ordered. "And, considering you haven't shaved or brushed your hair this week, you probably don't want to make fun of my appearance."

"I don't need a plate," he told her, as she set the light yellow dish in front of him. Sticking his chopsticks in another container, House shoveled more food into his mouth. She quickly grabbed the Chinese and jerked it out of his range.

"I mean it."

"Afraid I'm gonna spill?" His blue eyes bright and wide, he said in a child-like voice that wreaked of sarcasm, "I promise I'll be careful, Mommy."

"You're a pig, and I don't want to eat food that you've already slobbered on. God only knows where your mouth's been."

"Or where it's headed," House told her, his eyebrows waggling suggestively.

"Use the damn plate."

"Let me have control of the remote, and I will."

Cuddy knew that making deals with House wasn't the smartest thing in the world to do. And in this case, in the very least, giving up the remote would mean watching the most depraved television imaginable. What had he said that he liked to watch with Wilson? Female wrestling? That sounded like the exact kind of program that would send women's rights twenty years back.

On the other hand, watching House drool over young women slapping each other was surely preferable to having him drool on her food.

"Fine," she said, handing him the remote and a plate before settling down on the couch next to him. And almost immediately House began to flip through the channels, searching for his women in spandex. Or something else that was equally disgusting.

The way he rapidly hit the remote without needing to pay attention to the screen told her that he already knew what channel he wanted. But naturally just selecting the appropriate number on the remote would be too easy – and it certainly wouldn't annoy her that much, so it simply could not be done that way.

"There we go," he said to no one in particular, relaxing back onto the couch with his chopsticks in hand and his eyes glued to the TV. "Hand me a beer, wench," he ordered. The glare she gave him went unnoticed, and reluctantly, Cuddy handed him a cold green bottle.

For her part, the brunette tried her best not to watch the wrestling or listen to the way House uttered his appreciation for the "overflowing C cups" gracing the screen. Which was hard to do, given the screeching and grunting and over-the-top commentary filling the room.

But keeping her gray-blue eyes focused on her plate of fried rice and eggplant with garlic sauce in front of her wasn't exactly her idea of a good time. Taking a sip of her own beer, Cuddy thought that this was the exact opposite of how she had wanted to spend Valentine's Day.

To her mind, it didn't really seem like too much to ask for just… one day a year where someone would take an interest in her. Apparently, though, that was impossible, because either God hated her or because House existed (and the two weren't necessarily mutually exclusive). Hell, she thought, at this point she'd even settle for a night of good sex, if not a relationship.

But here she was – playing the role of Greg House's buddy a.k.a. James Wilson. And the oncologist was only gone, because he had a date. As House cheered at the sight of a blonde wrestling a brunette to the ground, Cuddy couldn't help but think just how unfair it was. Wilson had been married three times already. He'd literally had multiple opportunities to make it work and hadn't, so why was he continually able to find women interested in him?

Not that Amber Volakis was a prize, but still. The gap in their situations couldn't be more enormous: he was out with someone actually interested in him. He'd probably get laid tonight, where as she was with House, who would only, seemingly, sleep with women he could pay these days.

It just really wasn't fair. Wilson had plenty of chances, and it felt like Cuddy had had none. Glumly, she popped a piece of eggplant into her mouth. And part of her knew that if she continued to think this way, there'd be no pulling herself out of her depressed mood anytime tonight. But before she could stop herself, the brunette wondered if this too was just something she hadn't gotten the genes for; some people couldn't commit, no matter how many opportunities came their way. Others, like her, just never got the shot to show that they could do that.

Maybe… this wasn't something she did, wasn't even something House had ruined for her, but… an inherited trait. Cuddy had dark hair and blue eyes, a barren wasteland for a uterus, and a love life as cold as the Arctic. Just another part of her genetic make up.

"Don't eat all the egg rolls," she snapped, taking it out on House, as she caught his hand sneaking its way to the almost empty bag.

Naturally, like a little kid, he took the egg roll out, licking every inch of it, before asking, "You want it now?"

"No." Her voice came out through gritted teeth, sounding as exasperated as she felt. "You ruined my date, invited yourself over, and made me pay for the food you ordered – among other things. Couldn't you, just for once, not act like a complete child? It's Valentine's Day, and I'm stuck with you."

The way he slowly ate the crispy egg roll, the crunch filling the room, was all the answer she needed. She frowned, but he continued to rub it in, by audibly relishing each bite, and finally licking his fingers clean. "That was – I gotta tell you – really good."

"You just can't help yourself, can you?" she asked, continually becoming more aware of how big an ass he was.

Rolling his eyes, House looked at her. "Well, if you ask me –"

"I wasn't. And I'm not."

"You're being the selfish one," he finished, as though he hadn't heard what she's said at all.

"Really?" She folded her arms across her chest.

"I save you from a night out with a complete tool. I bring food –"

"Which I paid for –"

"And alcohol and the entertainment."

"Because Wilson's out on a date, House! Not because you actually want to spend any time with me."

"The point is," he continued loudly, "I had my choice of women I could spend tonight with."

"Great – me and prostitutes."

He rolled his eyes. "I gave up a night of good sex with some little nymphet for you. The least you could do is let me amuse myself."

"By torturing me."

"Unless you'd prefer the sex. Which I'm up for. Just let me watch the wrestling for a few more minutes to get me in the mood." He paused to take a good look at her up and down. "Probably going to need a few more beers too," he added.

"Aww, and what will we do with all that time left over?" she jabbed.

"Exactly what we're doing now."

"What, no post-coital nap?"

House smiled. "You're good, Cuddy, but not that good."

From anyone else, the insult would have stung. But when it came to this man, she knew that he didn't mean it. Not because he was the kind of guy who never meant the rude and cruel things he said; there'd been too many instances, too many flashes of that side of him for her to believe he was a harmless person.

When he wanted to cause someone pain, he could absolutely stun her with how good he was at it.

But in this case, she had memory on her side. Though faded with age and a desire to pretend like it never happened, a remembrance of things past told her that he was lying. "That's why you like to fantasize about me in the shower?"

"You were young and nubile then," House justified. "Now you're just old and decrepit."

"I am…" Cuddy searched for the right words, as he took a bite of something with beef in it, "Splendid in bed. Spectacular, actually."

Food still in his mouth, he taunted, "Why, cause your Rabbit says so?"

"I was wondering when you'd mention my vibrator."

He swallowed hard. "Well, you know, there is one way to prove it…"

"We're not having sex," she declared.

"Scientific method states that if you have a theory, you must test it. Although I suppose I could go to and set up a survey to see how the other guys rate you. But I prefer the hands on approach." He wiggled his fingers and looked down at her chest lecherously.

"No."

"You sure?"

"Not having sex with you!" she said just a little too loudly. She'd be lucky if the neighbors didn't here, despite the walls and two yards separating their homes.

He nodded his head. "Well, don't say I didn't offer."

She took a sip of her beer before plunking it down on a coaster. "I wasn't looking for an offer." But when he scoffed in reaction, Cuddy looked at him closely. "What?"

"You've been begging for an offer."

"Begging?" Nodding her head, the brunette admitted, "I guess it's about time you started using the logic of rapists and abusive boyfriends."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." He took a swig of his beer, polishing it off, and instinctively, she handed him another. "Those guys just imagine their actions are warranted. But you actually are –"

"Begging for it," she finished in disbelief.

"Well let's see," he said. After a long pull from the green bottle, he started ticking off on his fingers. "One, you opened the door looking like a –"

"Watch it."

"I'm just saying – the hooker red and your produce all on display…" House gestured towards her chest area.

"Do you want me to hit you?"

"No, thank you." But it was obvious to her that he hadn't gotten the message at all, because he continued unconcerned for his own well being. "You looked hot. Desperate but hot. And that's not even beginning to take into consideration how you're sitting here, pouting, because nobody loves you."

"I wasn't –"

"Yeah, you were."

She turned to face him some more, her knees closing some of the distance between them. "You can't possibly know that."

House shifted his body to mirror hers. "Maybe not. But… I can see the way you're stabbing that eggplant – like some first year med student trying to draw blood. So I'm logically deducing that you're sitting there wondering why you can't find Mr. Right – or whatever the hell you wanna call it."

Cocking her head, Cuddy asked, "And you think that three minutes in the sack with you are going to fix everything?"

"More like… six minutes! Jeez, give a guy some credit," he told her sarcastically. There was a moment of silence then, and while she wanted to give her own quick quip, some part of her could see that he was hesitating to say more. And so she waited for him. His body shifted some more, and her eyes watched as he popped a Vicodin into his mouth.

The way his fingers quickly pressed the pill passed his lips intrigued her, and she waited to see what he would do next. The bottle rattling, House stuffed it back into his pocket. Then he admitted, "Making you…happy isn't something I'm good at."

"No, not really," she agreed. "So what – you thought propositioning me was a reasonable suggestion?"

Popping a piece of broccoli into his mouth, House said, "Didn't think it could hurt. Seemed better than letting you stew and ruin my Valentines with these angry hotties."

"Yes. God forbid I ruin your evening. Not like you didn't already do that to me!"

He sighed. "Fine, go ahead and pout. I'll just give my attention to the women who love me for me." And at that, he turned back towards the television, watching the wrestling intently.

Not interested in continuing the infuriating conversation, Cuddy followed suit. It wasn't hard to see what he loved about female wrestling. Toned women in skimpy outfits all sweaty and trying to kill one another? What wasn't there for him to like about that?

Of course, from her point of view, the… sport left something to be desired. Really, this was just one step above a catfight. And with all the hyper-stylized moves and trash talk, it felt like she was watching bad theatre more than anything else.

Eating some more of the eggplant on her plate, Cuddy didn't last more than five minutes before commenting, "This doesn't even look real."

"Huh?" he asked, slowly turning his head towards her. It was impossible to miss the glazed look in his eyes.

"How can you watch this?" she demanded to know. "It looks completely scripted and fake."

His answer – "It is" – was unexpected. Truth be told, Cuddy had anticipated House trying to defend the wholesomeness of female wrestling. That he didn't surprised her.

"Then why watch it if it's not real?"

The diagnostician didn't answer right away as he dumped some fried rice onto his plate. His fingers dug around in the mess of take out containers and cheap napkins, searching.

"Soy sauce?" she asked him.

When he nodded his head, Cuddy joined him in the search. It took a few minutes, but eventually she was victorious. Grabbing the last plastic pack, she tossed it to him. And he quickly ripped it open with his teeth and dumped the salty, black liquid onto his food.

"It's fake," he agreed, using his chopsticks to stir the rice. "But that doesn't make it any less enjoyable."

She asked doubtfully, "No?"

Taking a bite of his food, House explained further. "God's not real. People enjoy believing in Him a whole lot."

Her eyebrow raised on its own accord. "You don't believe in God. You don't see any point in religion. You do your best to destroy the faith of everyone you encounter."

He shrugged, sighing. "Okay. I'll give you a better example." House scarfed down some more of his fried rice. "All week, you've been trying to get ready for your date by telling yourself that you've still got it. So underneath your little lab coat, you've been wearing the most amazingly inappropriate clothes."

"Sometimes, House, I like to look –"

"Whatever," he said, waving off her retort. "On Tuesday, you wore a red push up bra to make your breasts perkier than they really are." Silently he moved closer to her. His voice low, he drawled, "That was an illusion… but one that I enjoyed nonetheless."

At least someone noticed the effort, she thought sadly. Honestly it was a little more than depressing that House was the only one who seemed to pay any attention to her looks. At the hospital, it wasn't often that someone else was attracted to her. They either thought it was a bad idea to hit on the boss; sometimes they thought she was intimidating. Or they'd heard the rumor that House had started and believed she'd been a man at one point in her life.

Internet dating hadn't been any more fruitful, and she wasn't really sure why. She was smart, funny, attractive… and none of them had heard about a potential sex change (though she supposed it was only a matter of time before House took to the Internet). And yet she was still alone, Cuddy thought once more.

"You're doing it again," House announced, his words muffled by all the food in his mouth.

Shaking her head, she decided it was time to put the conversation back on him. "Shouldn't you be out trying to break Wilson and Amber up?"

"Just think – if you'd actually slept with Wilson, you wouldn't be stuck here with me."

"I talked to him. I told him exactly what would happen if he continued to date her, and…" Her voice trailed off, as a thought hit her. "And you told Wilson that it was okay."

"Everybody lies" was his answer. But there seemed to be more to it than that, and when he shifted uncomfortably on the couch and reached for the Vicodin once more, she knew it to be true.

"Why lie?" she pushed.

He turned the tables back onto her. "I think the better question is why you talked to Wilson when you said I wouldn't lose him."

"Because Ifoolishly thought that if I did, you'd leave me alone."

"Amateur," he teased.

"And I thought he was making a mistake. There's a reason why her nickname is Cutthroat Bitch."

"Maybe she's changed," he suggested calmly, snatching another beer and shoving it into her hands. Apparently, she thought, he hadn't been kidding about wanting to get her drunk.

"'Maybe she's changed'?" Cuddy repeated in disbelief as she popped the top off of the green bottle. "You're the one who said that was impossible."

"Maybe I changed my mind" was uttered quietly as he leaned over to grab a beer for himself. Leaning back on the couch, he said, "Perhaps I've changed."

He immediately turned his attention back to the wrestling match, leaving her to her thoughts. She supposed it was possible for him to change…

But if that had happened, she thought ruefully, the apocalypse would have started raining down on them. And since hell hadn't broken loose, Cuddy could only wonder what was really going on.

House hated change, she told herself, as she nursed her beer thoughtfully. He wouldn't just… accept this relationship. He'd do what he'd done with every other one of Wilson's girlfriends and wives – act like a complete child and throw a tantrum. And then he'd investigate every little aspect of the couple until she'd either left or Wilson married the girl.

Since neither of those things had happened yet, something else must have been going on in her companion's mind. A quick glance at the graying man, who was sadly focusing on the television, next to her confirmed as much.

House… was terrible with change. This was a fact of life for him, one of those weird personality quirks. Over the years, the people he'd allowed into his inner circle had been obsessively kept close. At least, this was what she'd concluded from her own personal experience and from seeing him interact with Wilson and, to an extent, Stacy.

And then it hit her…Stacy.

Cuddy had never learned the whole story; House's ex had left in such a hurry that she'd only ever really heard bits and pieces of what happened, mainly from Wilson and the lawyer herself.

House had pushed Stacy away. That was what everyone had concluded. He'd… what had Wilson told her?

Her mind was drawing a blank; after everything that had happened around then, it had decidedly not been what House's best friend had said that stuck with her. Yes, she'd come to agree with Wilson that House's pain occasionally – hell, often – derived from emotional problems. But even with that, the words the oncologist had uttered to her over the phone in the middle of the night had long been forgotten. Because out of everything going on at the time, it was House, in her office, pulling his pants down, completely out of control, that stuck with her.

Glancing at him now, she thought that time almost seemed preferable to some of the stunts he pulled this year. Somehow… morphine paled in comparison to sticking a knife in a wall socket.

Cuddy instinctively took a long pull from her beer. And the words that she thought she'd forgotten so long ago forced themselves to the forefront of her mind: House needed to be miserable.

Wilson had said he wouldn't let himself be happy, and she had seen House's obsession with pushing relationships to the brink – just to see how much they really cared for him. He'd push the limits until they broke. And when that happened, she knew House would see it as proof – as a reason not to be close to others. So too was Cuddy sure that he would secretly harbor their rejection of him as rationale to hate himself. Because they, after all, wouldn't have left if he hadn't made them.

And it became so clear to her now – House was doing the exact same thing with Wilson, only the shrewd diagnostician had gotten better with the mechanics of it all. Instead of loud, open affronts, he was using much more insidious means.

He spoke of changing and stepping aside, but all House was really doing was giving Wilson the ability to completely alter their friendship. And knowing both men, she thought that this new plan might just work, which would make them all miserable.

So… Cuddy would just have to take care of it.

Wilson at least had the right to know what she was thinking. And she resolved to do just that. But it could wait another night, she decided, because as she glanced at House, a new thought occurred.

He was doing the same thing to her – testing her loyalties, though in a much more obnoxious way. Not even a year ago, she'd accused him of wanting her for himself. But the truth was, she realized, that, in a way, by interfering, House had already staked his claim. And it hit her – just how sad it was.

He was so smart but so incapable of expressing his concern and affection in any way that remotely approached normal.

Setting her beer down, Cuddy couldn't help but wonder if she really wanted that though – normalcy. After all, there had been plenty of times to fire him, many more reasons to do so, and she hadn't. Because… well, she didn't really know, but perhaps, the brunette simply understood him in some twisted way.

And looking at him once more, she couldn't decide whether she wanted to kiss him or beat him over the head with his cane. He was good at it too – stirring up so many conflicting emotions. Even when he wasn't trying all that hard, he could wreak utter havoc on her. And it – he – was just so damn infuriating.

"You are such an ass," she finally said, before closing the distance between them and giving him a loose hug. His body stiffened immediately, and it was awkward, laying her head down on his shoulder. But she did it anyway… even if he couldn't ever admit to appreciate it. She could feel his mouth open and close a few times.

The quick wit he was so desperately trying to find eventually made itself known. "Some might say you're sending me mixed messages."

"Shut up," she said, her grip tightening on him slightly.

He bristled at the order but thankfully did shut up. But there was only a small fraction of a second where he settled quietly against her before he started to shift and crane his head. "Hey, if you're gonna keep doing that, can you at least move your hair out of the way so I can try and get a glimpse of the fun bags?"

"You really do have to ruin every good moment that comes your way, don't you?"

"Do have a knack for it," he admitted. Though he couldn't see it, she rolled her eyes. House did have that uncanny ability, but at least he hadn't pushed her away… which was something. "I should warn you," he started to say, her cheek feeling the vibrations of every word. "If you don't move, I'm going to have to tell everyone we slept together."

She turned her head upward to see the mischievous grin on his face, and a smile of her own played on her lips. "You could, but no one would believe you, House."

"I don't know – it's hard to miss the stench of desperation you constantly emit." He shifted on the sofa. "Besides, you're on my couch cushion. In an hour or so, a few beers later, who knows? You might decide to take up residence on my penis. Game's not over yet."

It would figure that House would be an optimist in this particular area of life. But unfortunately for him, she'd already decided it wasn't going to happen, because having sex with him was only asking for trouble. Like lighting a match while covered in gasoline, being with him would consume her – burn until she was completely ruined. Because they worked best in innuendo and their own brand of respect. The boundaries they'd established, such as they were, allowed them both to do their jobs well. And sex, dating… love would only make a complicated situation impossible.

In the very least, if she said yes to him now, Cuddy would never be able to say no to him again.

But knowing that didn't stop her from smiling sadly and kiss his stubbled cheek. Her soft lips against his sandpaper skin just for a moment, she quickly pulled away. "Happy Valentine's Day, House," she half-whispered before retreating to her side of the couch.

He looked over toward her… stunned or as shocked as someone who enjoyed watching dolphin porn at work could be. "But,' she said, putting a halt to any ideas he had burgeoning in his head. "We're not having sex."

"Uh huh."

"Screwing around with you is about as likely as me deciding to become a female wrestler."

His eyes widened at the possibilities; his voice excited, he said, "Cool. Can I pick out your outfit?"

"No."

"Please?"

"I'm not actually going to be a wrestler," she said slowly.

"You just said –"

"Shut up," she growled. Grabbing her beer once more, Cuddy asked with no malice behind the words, "Why do I put up with you?"

"I don't know," he answered automatically, and she couldn't help but think there was probably some truth in it. "I don't know," House repeated. The "But I'm glad you do" went unsaid, but somehow it managed to echo throughout the room, the words loud and clear.

The End