I've Seen Love
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: Not mine. The title comes from Interpol's 'Pace Is the Trick'. I swear it fits these two. There is a paraquote from American Beauty, which is my favorite movie, too.

Summary: He needs her to know that he's not going anywhere, either.

get-house-laid Prompt: 169. House/Cuddy -- "How long have you known me?" A lifelong passion burns brighter in its fourth decade.

Notes: Minor Cast: Benji Noah House - Lou Taylor Pucci, who looks exactly like my idea of a young Gregory House. Emily Rivka House - Eva Amurri, because she resembles Lisa Edelstein, herself, I think. This is just to give you an idea that they actually exist. Yes, House did name his daughter after a 'General Hospital' character just to spite Cuddy. Furthermore, I have decided they have dizygotic (fraternal) twins, who are both deaf. I am more than certain this possibility exists, given the right genetic and/or environmental circumstances.

Obviously, I took some liberties with setting up a plot because for some reason I find sign language to be...well, sexy and deeply endearing. It may be the lack of audio, but...

Inspiration: Agent Jethro Gibbs and Abby Sciuto from NCIS, who sign to one another all the time even though they're both hearing. I love them and Ducky so much and I wish I could include them in this prompt. Oh well. Hm. Maybe I can cheat them in...guess that makes it a slight crossover. Fullmetal Alchemist is another obsession of mine. sighs

...All to all the destruction it meant...And to all the corruption in my hands...

Cuddy had been sniffling and silent the entire way back to Princeton. The car ride, as had become long-habit, was silent, House's hands gripping the wheel and Cuddy's clasped in her lap and in his head House could count down the seconds until her hands flew free of their self-imposed prison and began to express the grief he could feel pouring out of her like water from a sieve. Sure enough, he reached to turn on the radio (for the first time in years) and her hand clamped around his wrist in a vise-like grip.

Don't.

Tears slipped out of Cuddy's eyes as she signed, her hands moving rapidly, the dam finally broken. House sighed and let his hand drop back to the steering wheel. He never bothered to remind her that neither Benji nor Emily actually minded when he played music around them. Benji had always thought it was funny as hell to see his father playing air guitar to Led Zepplin or The Grateful Dead even though he'd been unable to hear any of it, himself. Both his children would sit and watch their father for hours, playing one song after another, on the stereo, on the piano, neither ever seeming to care that the movements and keys being pressed remained unheard. He did always watch television on mute, though, with closed captioning or without, because he found it really a lot more fun. It had been an unexpected source of amusement, learning to read lips with them. When they laughed aloud, it was uneven and strangely pitched. When they cried, it was still there, but less obvious. He's always thought them perfect, relished figuring out their thoughts and feelings when speaking them had proven difficult at best. He remembers the day his parents found out. He'd taken the liberty of flipping his father off in ASL after the asshole had the nerve to say they were mistakes. That was when his mother reminded him that her own father had been deaf, signing rapidly herself with angry, vicious swipes and snaps of her hands and fingers. Reminded him that his own half-brother and people Jethro worked with were fluent in signing. House remembers relishing his father's attempts to say aloud that he'd forgotten. He hasn't spoken aloud to his mother since then, both of them enforcing an unspoken sign-only rule that has continued, even though his father is no longer alive to be shamed by it.

Give and take, he knows. Balance and equivalent exchange.

House had loved bringing his children to the hospital and letting them watch the people around them, unknowing lips telling them all sorts of supposedly private conversations. He thought it was good practice, but Cuddy called it 'espionage'. Even getting yelled at by her for 'exploiting' them hadn't been a sufficient deterrent. But then, he believes she should have figured that out a hell of a long time ago.

"How long have you known me?" he'd ask, yet again, and she'd lapse into signing, swearing viciously and they both had known she'd get away with it. He didn't call her a hypocrite, though. He sometimes wonders why. It's been a hell of a long time, he realizes, staring at the highway taking them away from Washington, D.C., something in him wishing for a stoplight so he could actually look at Lisa, seeing what she was saying, because by now it had just become a matter of course. It was intensely uncomfortable, he realized suddenly, not watching her, feeling like he was ignoring her.

Twenty years ago, thirty, forty...he wouldn't have felt like this, he knew. He had once been able to tune her out, tune everything out, when she got going because she'd be on like that for quite some time and he knew most of what she was going to say. That, he believes, is a side-effect of the kids. He wonders when he changed and why he didn't realize that.

Finally, the guilt that he can hardly believe he's feeling starts crawling over his skin like an outbreak of poison sumac and he forces himself to pull into the service drive and up to a road that will allow him to park somewhere. He finds a rest stop and parks the car, turning the engine off and turning to watch her, his heart breaking a tiny bit as he finally takes in the tears tracking down his wife's face, some small part of him noticing that she didn't wear mascara today and putting together that she'd known she'd fall apart. She's clenching her hands into fists over her thighs and he takes them and lifts them in front of her, letting them slide out of his and begin a flurry of movement.

They're gone. she keeps saying over and over, more tears leaking out of her already reddened eyes. And he gently grabs her hands again, knowing that this is really quite rude but he'll always take being rude over her hyperventilating any day.

"They're not gone," he'd said softly, nodding back toward the way they've come, to the only university in the country where neither would be the 'different' ones for the first time in their lives. "They're just living their lives without us. It was bound to happen sometime. Tradition dictates this stage usually sets in after--"

"Shut up," she snaps, and he looks down at his own hands. He's been signing while he speaks for nearly this entire time and hadn't noticed. Then again, he never does anymore.

They get home and her house (they've retained the apartment because it's useful and he still has that habit of compartmentalizing everything) is silent in a way that even deafness has never been able to penetrate. After all, they are both capable of hearing and their children were certainly not quiet even if they weren't. The idea for the larger part of the next nine months or so, the footsteps of Emily's combat boots that she gained from a dying John House just to see her father's scowl won't reverberate through the floorboards--that Cuddy won't look up from the mountain of paperwork she's brought home to see her son dash past in his swim trunks on a hot summer day, his high-pitched, uneven laughter nothing more than a feeling in his chest...none of it has sunken in.

She almost doesn't notice when House speaks to her, his voice too loud in the sudden emptiness of her life, her heart, and it's all she can do not to start crying. His face is blank but for his eyes--he's never been able to mask the emotion they show, try as he has for longer than she's known him--and he looks to her like he's making a decision. She doesn't know what he's thinking but right now she can't seem to care.

He shakes his head, turning away and shrugging sharply and she can picture without effort the frown that accompanies the sign for angry, or in House's case, I'm pissed, fuck you. She can't begrudge him. Not when, in her head, it's as if a newsreel is trailing her indexes down her cheeks over and over in a neverending loop. Crying. The blurriness in her soul is apparent and she doesn't care if he knows it or not.

She certainly doesn't expect it when he grabs her hand and drags her toward the hall, his step-thudding gait hurried and hesitant all at once and she's never known how he can be so many things all rolled into one, but long ago accepted that it was pointless to ponder.

They're in the bedroom before she has a chance to think anything and her first instinct is to stop him closing the door, but he does, slamming it and the sound of wood on a metal doorframe leaves her nerves all the more frayed and she's this close to screaming at him to stop, just stop hurting her like he must know he's doing, that she doesn't notice at first that he's right in front of her now, his hands (callused, warm, nimble as always) are sliding up the front of her blouse, playing around hips made soft by hard-won childbirth.

Her breath rushes out of her in a gasp, unshed tears cascading downward, and she whimpers as his mouth comes down to kiss each line of saline, his tongue darting out as if he's trying to taste her sadness, truly understanding the hole in her heart. It's then that the scratchiness she's learned to adore brushes against her face, his cheek sliding down to alight upon her neck, his lips trailing a well-worn path up and back behind her ear. The moan leaves her before she can stop it and she finds herself clinging to his shirttails, her eyes opening wide. His hair has gone grey with flashes of white streaked through it and the stubble is no different. For a split second it occurs to her to wonder how she looks to him this very second, her own hair going grey, tears and half-madness of loss splashed all over her face. Then he's kissing her again and for all she knows, she's a med student again, cocksure and curious with a sight lined on her future and hell to pay for anyone that blocked her shot.

Then he does something else to her ear and it's rather hard to form another thought at all, but she's pretty sure her knees have turned to jelly.

He remembers the first time he saw her, dashing her stunning little ass off all over the tennis court. This image is superimposed over the woman who captures his attention like no one has before or since--not even Stacy, because as good as she gave, she hated losing too much to make it worthwhile. He likes it when Cuddy makes those lovely little mewling sounds of protest--God, yes, there they are--but moves closer, more than half convinced before her brain has had time to process what he's doing to her body. He likes keeping her on her metaphorical toes like that, especially since neither of them can do it in real-life. There are a laundry list of reasons why everyone and no one thought this would work...whatever it is. They've been ensnared in each other's clutches for forty years, but sometimes, like right now, it doesn't feel like more than a second's passed.

The least he can do is make that second stretch, as the dearly departed Lester Burnham said, like an ocean of time. He trails his hands all over her, molding his palms over the familiar hills and valleys of her breasts and hips, leaning down to kiss the silken skin revealed by the shirt he has yet to remove. Why the hell hasn't he done that yet? he wonders momentarily before skilled fingers deftly slip those annoying little obstacles through their grudging barriers and letting the heavy globes he adores lay beholden to him, encased for now in some filmy damned thing that he'd ordinarily take the time to treasure, but right now the growing pressure radiating around his groin won't let him take his time. If he still had something to learn, that might have been a problem, but he doesn't and there's nothing stopping him from going back later.

He takes gentle hold of her arms, moving them upward and pushing her backward until she's just barely touching the end of the bed. She hooks her arms around his shoulders and they both fall, years of practice allowing him to land easily on his elbows, each of their weight shifting until everything's where it should be. She's divesting him of his boxer briefs now, one hand deftly sliding them downward while the other works around his erection, molding and stroking until he's groaning into her throat. He slides back, his own hands caressing her hips and his lips tracing a line along the hem of her panties. I love you, he signs, his lips shaping the words on her skin. Why should they talk? There's truly no need.

He looks up, her eyes locking on his, eyes heavy-lidded and listens to her breathe. They're more attuned to one another's slightest looks and gestures than ever before, simple knowledge delving into necessity, and he can tell just by glancing at her where she needs him. He anchors his left hand to the side of the bed to give himself a little extra traction and with one swift movement, he's inside her and she's sobbing again, but this time there's an edge of gratitude to the sound. There won't be any more children, they both know, but he needs her to see that there's not been any loss. Their little anklebiters will be on the TDD with detailed demands of care packages that Cuddy, in all her industrious glory, will have half-filled before they can even send the messages.

He needs her to know that he's not going anywhere, either.

"Forty years and we haven't killed each other yet, Cuddy," he whispers, and the sound of her breathy laugh brings the smile back to his lips. "They've got...well, the term 'hella' comes to mind, and you may slap me and tell me I have no business using slang, but I really don't give a damn--genes and brains to match. Now quit acting like they're moving halfway around the world and won't be back, ransacking your kitchen before you can blink."

"In other words, quit worrying and fuck you."

"I..." he thinks for a moment. "Direct and to the point." He grins wolfishly. "I knew there was a reason I loved you."

"Kiss my ass, House," Cuddy retorts, but the snideness in her voice is belied by a smile. "I should have killed you long ago. God knows you've worked overtime to drive me crazy. And taught Emily and Benji to pick up wherever you've left off..."

"Ahem, Em and Ben don't need instructions from me, thank you very much."

"Of course not, they're your spawn. They come by their affinity for irritating everyone around them naturally."

"Don't forget micromanaging--Mommy Dearest taught them everything she knows."

"Do I need to repeat myself about you kissing my ass?"

"I'm retired, you're going to have to do a lot more wheedling now."

"Please, if you'd had your way, you'd still be driving the lawyers and everyone else insane. It's your specialty."

"You know you--" but her hands have found their way back down around the base of his cock now and he's been caught by surprise as she gives it a little twist that has him biting back a scream. He can feel his balls tightening and wonders when just talking got him halfway around the bend. Maybe it's the sound of her voice.

"I need you," she whispers and he feels her shift beneath him, her nails coming to dig into his shoulderblades and part of him wonders if this might be when she kills him, but in the next moment, she's flipped them both over and is rising and falling and he takes her hands and spreads them wide and to hell with thinking and speaking, he'd rather watch any day.

"You don't need to worry, I'm just saying," he gasps, feeling his heart start pounding as the pressure in his balls reach a zenith and he thinks to himself of that one time he read about them--God, why does he think of the oddest medical stories during sex? What the fuck is wrong with him and why has everyone put up with him this long, least of all her?

"I know..." she says, her own quickened breathing forcing her words out in abrupt bursts. "I...God, House..."

"You read my mind," he moans, feeling her inner walls clenching around his cock and sending him into a tailspin. It's like a palette of colors bursting and boiling before his eyes and sometimes he wonders if she secretly drops acid, but knows better than that.

He should probably hate it, that there are still parts of her that remain mysteries, and he'll be damned if he lets her go before finding them all out.

"How long have you known me?" she asks, a smirk on her face now that the ecstasy has faded to mere bliss (this would be the part where she called him a narcissistic son of a bitch, but based on the sounds she makes, he'd have to say it's the truth) and they lay together as she traces her fingers around his face.

"Not long enough," he whispers, unable to hide his smile.

FIN