Title: On the Seventh Day
Pairings: Cuddy/Wilson, House/Chase
Warnings: Future tense, character death, angstfest.
Disclaimer: I make no attempt to pretend that I own House MD, or any of the associated characters.
Summary: For one week of her life, Lisa Cuddy will be happy
Notes: I was challenged to write this by my dear internet-wife Omnom. The prompt was this:
House/Chase (duh) with a side dish of, wait for it...Cuddy/Wilson. Also, it has to involve an actual case, something to do with Japan (whatever you like) and House air-playing along to a song in as silly a fashion as possible. Just to make things difficult :P If that doesn't work in future tense, present tense will do, too.
It ended up rather more Cuddy-centric than I intended. But extra Cuddy is always good, right? Another fic in the More Things Change 'Verse. You are advised to have a box of tissues on hand (I made myself cry). Oh, and apparently the reason House was smug about the betting pool on Wilson's next wife in 'The Hollow Men' was because he knew what no-one else did: that Wilson was with Cuddy.
The series goes in this order - links may be found in my profile, naturally.
1- The Hollow Men
2- On the Seventh Day
3- The More Things Change
For one week of her life, Lisa Cuddy will be happy.
This is how it will happen.
She will be at a conference in Kyoto. Her hair will be pinned elegantly atop her head, her suit will be neat and impeccably styled. She will smile and be charming and say all the right things to all the right people, and never will she let a hint slip of how much she longs for home and a warm, familiar embrace.
Her suitcase will be light, sparingly packed as she checks at long last into the airport. The end of the first day and the beginning of the second will pass unmarked: she will sleep on the plane in a fitful doze and be woken by a stewardess at 4am EST on the second day as the plane begins its descent. Her phone - silent in accordance with the airline's rules - will lie heavy in her pocket.
The early morning air will be sharp and chilly as she leaves the terminus to hail a cab: it will seem strange after the warmth of Kyoto. She will be surprised by a voice calling her name and turn to see Wilson waiting for her, leaning almost nonchalantly against the hood of his car. She will sit her suitcase down on the tarmac and let him wrap his arms around her, and she will lean up on tip-toe to kiss him. He will drive her home. And when he pulls into her driveway she will calmly remove the keys from the ignition and take his hand to lead him inside.
He will convince her she is too jet-lagged to go into work that next day. She will smile and nod and wait until he has left before going anyway.
It will be later than she normally gets in, a lot later. She will be unsurprised to find herself driving into the underground car park followed by House's red corvette. They will both park right at the front, the best spaces available - privileges of rank and disabled badges. She will raise an eyebrow as Chase climbs out of the passenger seat. The younger doctor will blush a little but hold her gaze. House of course will leer at her and make a crude comment about Wilson keeping her up late. Her retort will leave Chase bright red to the roots of his hair, and House's gaze on her retreating back will be approving.
She will be grateful no-one asks why she is grinning.
Later, she will walk past Diagnostics on some other errand, and she will stop dead and stare at the sight of House playing air-violin to Saint Saens' Danse Macabre. Over lunch she will relate the story to Wilson. It will take him ten minutes to stop laughing. He will then scold her for coming to work, but he will be unable to wipe the smirk off of his own face, and it will set her off laughing again. When they are finished she will take their trays up to the counter, still grinning like an idiot, and the serving lady will smile indulgently at her and offer her another slice of cheesecake. She will pat her stomach wryly and decline.
She will be exhausted though she will not admit it. Several members of staff will nag her to go home and rest, but the backlog of paperwork will be enormous. Only when she falls asleep at her desk, face-down on Cardiology's expenses report, will she concede defeat and go back to bed. She will almost literally walk straight into House on her way out - he will take one look at her and inform her that he is driving her home.
The seemingly altruistic gesture will make her suspicious, especially when no bargaining for fewer clinic hours is forthcoming. Only later will she realise that he is using it as an excuse to go home four hours early. By this point she will be too tired to care. She will thank him sleepily and go straight to bed.
And that will be the second day.
On the third day she will call in sick and only leave her bed when her bladder demands it.
The fourth day, a Friday, will dawn weak and watery as blue-black stormclouds gather, but she will stretch warm and contented as though basking in sunlight. For once it will not require a shocking effort to roll out of bed and head for the shower.
She will consider it the most compelling evidence of her good mood that she won't even be particularly irritated to receive a phone call from a major donor demanding to know what on earth is delaying his wife's treatment. The attending physician will admit to being absolutely mystified, and with a certain degree of satisfaction she will refer the case to Diagnostics. It won't more than a few hours before the donor, a man named Keppler, will be storming into her office, furiously asserting that he isn't having an affair and his wife doesn't take drugs. Their timid Mexican nanny will be standing behind him with two small children in tow and a frightened expression on her face.
She will have had many long years to become used to similar scenes: by then she will have achieved a certain zen-like acceptance of the price of employing the most gifted and most infuriating diagnostician in the country. She will handle the situation with tact and diplomacy and other qualities House completely lacks, and give her assurances that she will personally oversee the case.
There will be an argument in progress already as she walks into Diagnostics: House will be insisting that ecstacy addiction and the subsequent withdrawal would explain the symptoms, while two of his latest minions will be pushing MS and cancer respectively.
"The tox screen was negative for everything," the first minion, a determined young woman named Nicola Cheng will be pointing out; "It's not drugs. A brain tumour-"
"-would have shown up on the MRI," House will reply dismissively. The second minion - Samson? Swanson? Something like that - will draw breath as though about to speak only to be glared into submission by House.
"Having fun?" Cuddy will ask pointedly, folding her arms.
House will smirk at her. "Oh yeah. Of course the party couldn't really start until you got here. Would you prefer to strip now or later?"
"House, be quiet."
"You're right, better to wait - the anticipation makes it more fun..."
"Last time I checked you still had a patient. What have we got?"
"Thirty-four year old female," Swanson will say helpfully, looking down at his notes; "Suffering from blurred vision, muscle weakness, anxiety, nausea, and depression."
"The first two can be caused by ecstacy or amphetamines," House will say in a bored tone, tapping his cane idly off the leg of the whiteboard; "And the others are classic withdrawal symptoms."
"Her tox screen was clean," Cheng will reiterate in a tone which will suggest that she's been saying it at regular intervals all day. "It isn't-"
"She'd been passed from doctor to doctor for three days before she came to us," House will cut her off again; "An addict can metabolise drugs in less than two. Leave her in her room to wait out the sweats and she'll be fine."
Cuddy will look over the file before setting it down on the table. "It probably is drugs," she'll say; "But do a contrast MRI just in case. If that comes up blank, keep her under observation."
"Jawohl, mein commandant," House will reply with a mocking salute.
They will turn at the sound of running feet, the stacatto beat of heels on a hard floor. The third and final minion, a short, round girl with blonde hair, will skid to a halt just inside the open door.
"What is it, Evans?" House will ask with an odd mixture of curiosity and exasperation.
"She's started hallucinating," Evans will gasp out.
This will set off a fresh flurry of bickering. Cuddy will observe the argument with an expression of vaguely bemused indulgence, and after a while will excuse herself. They will not notice her departure.
She will spend Friday night at Wilson's apartment. He will cook spaghetti carbonara and they will watch the Usual Suspects curled up on the sofa together. She will fall asleep with her head in his lap and a smile on her lips, and he won't have the heart to wake her.
She will pass the fifth day shut in her office, working away on the backlog of paperwork which will have built up during her stay in Kyoto. It will require very little thought and attention, and she will sign papers on autopilot. She will drop in briefly on Diagnostic to find that Mrs. Keppler is being treated for an acanthamoeba infection. Instructions will be left for her to be paged if there is an emergency, and she will go home early.
The sixth day will be a Sunday. Under ordinary circumstances she would have taken Sunday as her day off, but there will still be a substantial backlog, and the memory of the Thursday she took off will nag at her until she will climb out of bed with a sigh and get dressed. Her pager will not have gone off, and there will be no messages on her answering machine. She will consider this a good sign.
Of course it will be too good to last. She will be contemplating taking a break for lunch when her pager will start beeping frantically. At twelve twenty-eight pm, Elaine Keppler's heart will stop beating.
Her pulse will be present again, if somewhat erratic, within moments thanks to the swift action of her doctors. Cuddy will arrive on the scene just in time to see Mr. Keppler punching her Head of Diagnostics.
Swanson and Cheng will restrain Keppler, and Evans - a new recruit at that point - will hover on the edges of the scene with a look of shock and fear on her face. Cuddy will view the incident with the resignation of long familiarity and reach out a hand to help House to his feet.
"My wife does not take drugs," Keppler will spit, shaking with anger.
"She agrees with you," House will reply, smirking despite the split lip dripping blood down his chin. He will wave a sheet of paper; "Her tox screen, however, doesn't."
"I thought you said the tox screen was negative," Cuddy will say.
"It was," House will agree, inordinately cheerful under the circumstances; "When she came in on Friday morning. It wasn't any more after her obedient little nanny brought her more of Friday afternoon."
The nanny will look absolutely terrified as Keppler rounds on her, and Cuddy will feel a stab of sympathy for the poor woman, who would have lost her job no matter what she did.
House will be swaying slightly on the spot, but he will have been punched by a member of a patient's family often enough by that point not to let a mere concussion slow him down. Cuddy will pretend not to notice, and they will both pretend he won't be leaning on her for support. Keppler's right hook will have been rather impressive.
Swanson will reassure a still-rattled Evans that it happens all the time and Cheng will retrieve House's cane from the other side of the corridor. He will limp determinedly off in the direction of Diagnostics, leaving Cuddy to sort out the details of Mrs. Keppler's transfer to an observation ward where her withdrawal and recovery will be monitored.
Cuudy will do so, satisfied in the knowledge that the afterglow of solving a case would keep House out of her hair for a few days.
Her good mood will persist all evening and into the next day. Rain will be sheeting down from the sky as though the ocean will have decided to reclaim New Jersey for its own. She will see House's bike parked on her way in and roll her eyes.
She will be smiling to herself as she sorts through her email inbox. For a little while, life will be good.
She will not know that as she leaves that evening, she will see Wilson running for the ICU with a look of panic on his face, and her heart will freeze in sudden terror. She will not know that for the rest of her life she will dream of tears streaming silently down Wilson's face and Cameron's wrenching sobs. She will not know that forever she will carry with her the moment of shocked, disbelieving horror as she recognises the shattered, bleeding body on the stretcher.
She will not know that she will stare blankly at the wall, unable to process, until what finally breaks through is the look of black, grief-stricken guilt in Chase's eyes as the surgeon steps forward and says simply I'm sorry. Then she will cry in desperate gasping sobs, and hate the little part of her mind which will already be running through possible candidates for a new Head of Diagnostics.
She will know none of this, humming cheerfully despite the pouring rain, as she appears to read a report while in reality planning what she's going to wear to Cameron's wedding. She will not know that in the end she will wear the neat black pants suit she is considering to a funeral.
For one shining, beautiful week, she will be happy.