TITLE: Destroying the Barriers
DISCLAIMER: I do not own House MD or the characters.
SUMMARY: Written for prompt 215. Cuddy discovers a kink in Thirteen's armour of the Cuddyfest. A fic full of angst. Thanks to ithilwenn for betaing.
A/N: Reviews are appreciated and welcomed. :-)
Listening to the steady beep of the machine before her, Thirteen found herself praying for a miracle. The patient, a young girl on life support, was unlikely to pull through. As the diagnostic department's latest case to solve, she had suffered through a battery of tests, before it was eventually discovered she was suffering from mercury poisoning. She'd been given the necessary cure; chelation therapy, but by the time it had taken effect her kidneys and central nervous system had already been damaged. Even if she did survive the poisoning; her prognosis was poor.
Inside, Thirteen felt a colossal amount of anger as she watched the girl's chest rise and fall, aided by the machine. Aged just eighteen years old, she should have her whole life ahead of her. Instead, she would be lucky to last the rest of the week. It was at times like this that Thirteen found herself wondering if there was a God. If there was, Thirteen mused, he was playing one sick game. How could you justify it when innocent youngsters suffered, whilst there were scumbags walking the streets? It was so very very wrong, and sometimes, it made her want to go crazy with fury.
Wiping at the angry tears that had started to leave her eyes, Thirteen willed herself not to get upset. She hated public displays of emotion on her part; she would rather cry within the privacy of her own home. For this reason, she wrenched her eyes away from the window through which she was observing the patient, and jumped in shock as her eyes fell upon the Dean of Medicine, Dr. Lisa Cuddy.
"Dr. Hadley," Cuddy addressed her immediately. "Are you…"
"Don't," Thirteen said firmly. "Don't ask me if I'm ok."
Concern flashed in Cuddy's eyes. She reached out towards Thirteen, intending on taking hold of her arm. However, Thirteen predicting this, took a step backwards and looked away, human contact being the last thing she wanted at this moment in time.
"Dr. Hadley," Cuddy paused for a second, deliberating the best move to make. "Thirteen. The patient… it isn't your fault."
"I know," Thirteen said through gritted teeth. "That doesn't mean that I don't feel guilty." She wished the older woman would go away and leave her to deal with her blame and remorse alone.
Cuddy sighed, moving closer to Thirteen. "You shouldn't. You feeling this way doesn't change the fact that she's lying in there. It doesn't change the fact that she might die."
"You think I don't know that?" Thirteen turned back to her boss. "I'm not stupid." Speaking to Cuddy like she had so far was disrespectful, she knew, but she didn't know how else to treat her without inviting further conversation.
"I know," Cuddy said patiently. "But you being here… you're not doing yourself any favors. Go home."
"Is that an order?" Thirteen asked petulantly.
Cuddy raised an eyebrow. "No. It's…" Her voice trailed off, the alarm of the machine drowning it out.
Horrorstruck, Thirteen spun back to face the patient. For a few seconds she remained rooted to the spot, before adrenaline kicked in and she made to enter the room, intending on shocking the girl out of cardiac arrest. Before she could get through the door, she felt someone holding her back, and turning, she saw it was Cuddy.
"What are you doing?!" She exclaimed. "I need to save her!"
Cuddy shook her head. "Let them do it." She gestured behind Thirteen, in the direction of Kutner and several nurses, who had just ran into the room, and had already began setting the patient up with the defibrillator.
Thirteen attempted to remove herself from Cuddy's grip, but Cuddy held on strong. Against her wishes, Thirteen found herself slightly comforted by the human contact, something which she hadn't had in as long as she could remember. She stopped struggling, and watched intently as Kutner shocked the patient, again and again. "Come on," She prayed aloud. "You can do it."
It seemed to go on forever. Countless times the defibrillator was charged, and time and time again there was no output. What seemed like far too soon to Thirteen, Kutner shook his head, and after briefly consulting with everyone else for agreement, pronounced the time of death. "No," Thirteen whispered. Then, more louder, "No!"
"Shh," Cuddy wrapped an arm around the young doctor's front, supporting her. "It's ok."
"No it's not!" Thirteen choked. "She's dead. On what level is that ok?" As she asked the question, she suddenly remember where she was, and embarrassed by the way she had behaved, she stood up straight, composing herself. She felt as if all eyes were on her, and feeling sick to the stomach, she pulled from Cuddy's grip and fled to the bathroom.
No sooner had she stumbled into a cubicle and threw her head over the toilet, she was violently sick. Thoughts of the dead girl kept her retching, and just when she thought it was over, she remembered her conversation with Cuddy, her behavior, and she retched again. She was just at the point of thinking that things couldn't possibly get any worse, when she felt a cooling hand on her forehead, pushing back her hair, and another hand on her back, gently moving in a rotating motion.
Without even looking she knew who it was, and somehow, the fact that Cuddy had cared enough to follow her and check that she was alright was enough to stop the vomiting. Shakily lifting her head, she remained facing the toilet, too humiliated to face Cuddy.
"Here," The Dean said, taking a tissue and handing it to Thirteen. As gracefully as possible, Thirteen wiped her mouth, wishing that this was just a horrible dream and she would wake up anytime now. "Do you think you're going to be sick again?"
Thirteen shook her head slightly, not wanting to move too much in case it caused her to throw up once more.
"Ok," Cuddy said gently, pulling Thirteen against her. "We'll stay here for a few more minutes, and then we're going to get out of here."
"Where to?" Thirteen mumbled, leaning her head into Cuddy's chest embarrassment forgotten for the moment.
"Back to mine," Cuddy informed her. "You shouldn't be alone right now."
Surprisingly, Thirteen found that she didn't have the energy to argue. Sniffing slightly, she remained leant into Cuddy as she nodded, not bothering, or wanting to argue.
Cuddy's home was nothing like Thirteen's. Whereas Thirteen's apartment was small, barely furnished, and extremely impersonal; Cuddy's house was grand, filled with matching furniture, and cozy, with photographs strewn everywhere. This only succeeded to make Thirteen feel twice as bad, imagining what she would feel like going back to her apartment after being here. She couldn't even call it a home. A home was warm and friendly, and her apartment was cold, sparse and meager.
Curled up on Cuddy's sofa, Thirteen attempted to stop shaking. She wasn't cold, she just couldn't seem to control the way her body was reacting to the event's of the evening. She was grateful when Cuddy handed her a steaming cup of peppermint tea, not only glad that it would get rid of the horrid taste of vomit out of her mouth, but hopeful that it would help to calm her.
"Feeling better now?" Cuddy asked kindly, taking a seat next to Thirteen.
Thirteen nodded, taking a sip of tea. Knowing she should thank Cuddy for what she had done for her. Quietly, she stated, "You didn't have to do all this."
Cuddy smiled. "I kinda did. If I hadn't then you would have been left by yourself."
"So this is pity?" Thirteen found herself asking sadly. The last thing she had wanted was for Cuddy to pity her.
"No," Cuddy shook her head vehemently. "This is me giving a damn." She reached out to Thirteen, taking hold of one of her hands, and squeezing it.
Squeezing it back, Thirteen managed a small smile. "Well… thank you."
"No problem," Cuddy replied, shifting closer to the younger woman. "There's just one thing I ask of you in return."
Apprehensively, Thirteen asked, "What is it?"
"That you talk to me," Cuddy said softly. "Tell me what you're thinking."
Thirteen's smile became a miserable one, no longer genuine and warm. "You really don't want to know what I'm thinking."
"I do," Cuddy disagreed. "So trust me?"
Thirteen sighed. She didn't want to give her feelings up, but she knew that she owed it to Cuddy. To tell her what she was thinking about the young patient wouldn't really be so bad; would it? Cuddy wouldn't tell anyone, of that she was sure. Therefore, after taking a deep breath, and placing her cup onto the coffee table, Thirteen began to speak. "When I looked at Katie, the patient, I saw in her everything that should be carefree and happy; but wasn't. She should have been allowed to live her life, grow up, marry, have children. Instead, she died in an impersonal hospital room, with her only relative, her mother, holed up in a police cell for poisoning her own flesh and blood." Thirteen paused, gathering her thoughts. "On what level is that right? This world is such a fucked up place, and sometimes, I find myself wondering how God, if he does exist, can sanction the things people are doing to each other."
"You're right," Cuddy said simply. "The world in general is fucked up. But not all the people walking, talking and breathing at this very moment in time are. There are good people out there. Working within a hospital, in that environment, we see a lot more of the bad stuff than others. But that doesn't mean that the entire world is evil."
Thirteen remained silent. Cuddy tried again. "Look, Remy… may I call you that?" Thirteen nodded. "I think you need to aim to have some form of emotional detachment from patients." Thirteen opened her mouth to argue, but Cuddy held up a hand, stopping her. "I know that is easier said than done. But if you don't, then you're going to drive yourself crazy with blame."
Thirteen closed her mouth, a small part of her starting to realize Cuddy spoke the truth. She was pleasantly surprised to realize she had stopped shaking, and so, she managed to relax a little. Sensing this, Cuddy continued on with her questioning. "What are you thinking right now?"
"I'm thinking that… maybe you're right," She said honestly, grateful for the fact that Cuddy's hand was still in hers. Then, smiling her first real smile since she'd arrived at Cuddy's; she said, "I'm also thinking that you're not half as bad as House says you are."
Cuddy returned the smile. "I know I'm the she-devil in his eyes, but contrary to what he says, I am a human female."
"I had noticed," Thirteen blurted out, without thinking. When she realized she'd spoke aloud, she blushed. Detracting the attention from herself, she added in a quieter voice, "So… what are you thinking?"
Looking down before replying, Cuddy appeared to think about her answer. Eventually, she raised her eyes, and she said, "I'm wondering what happened to make you so cynical at such a young age."
Thirteen frowned. "I'm not cynical, I…"
"And thinking I'm glad you're here," Cuddy continued, speaking over Thirteen.
Stopping what she was previously saying, Thirteen instead stuttered, "Wh…what?"
"I'm glad you're here," Cuddy repeated.
Swallowing, Thirteen suddenly found that she was extremely warm. Looking into Cuddy's eyes wasn't helping; all she saw was the deep blueness, and she found herself becoming lost in them. By the time she had snapped out of it, Cuddy was closer to her, and somehow, Cuddy's mouth was upon hers gently pushing her tongue into Thirteen's mouth, kissing her. At the same time, the hand that wasn't holding Thirteen's snaked it's way up Thirteen's back, and Cuddy softly stroked her skin, making Thirteen shiver under her touch.
All too soon it was over, and brushing hair back from her eyes, Cuddy stated, "We should stop this."
Hurt, Thirteen looked downwards. "Sure," She said, trying not to sound rejected.
"It's not that I don't want you," Cuddy said gently. "I just don't want this when you're vulnerable."
"I'm not vulnerable," Thirteen denied.
"Yes you are," Cuddy insisted. "And that doesn't make you weak."
"So what does it make me?!" Thirteen exclaimed.
Cuddy placed a hand against her chest, placating her. "It makes you human."
Once again, Cuddy had managed to calm Thirteen, though Thirteen had no idea how she had achieved this. Clearing her throat, she said reluctantly, "Then I guess I should go."
Cuddy shook her head vehemently. "I want you to stay."
Confused, Thirteen said, "But… I thought you said you didn't want this?"
"That doesn't mean I don't want you to stay," Cuddy smiled. "Let's just… let's just sleep. Besides, you left your car at the hospital. If you stay then I'll give you a lift in tomorrow morning."
Thirteen agreed, "Ok." She even managed to smile at Cuddy. Still clinging to Cuddy's hand as they stood to make their way to the bedroom, Thirteen felt something other than the emptiness she usually felt. The proposition of a warm bed, and another to share it with, was the best offer she'd had in a long time. With hope in her heart, and something that almost resembled happiness, Thirteen followed Cuddy out of the room, and up the stairs.