Disclaimer: All rights belong to Fox and David Shore.
Author's Note: I was trying to work on any of the numerous chapter fics I'm planning, but I couldn't because something else needed to be written first. And it was this.
She showed up at his door in the middle of December. It was too late for even him to be awake, but he was almost expecting this.
"Where have you been?"
She placed her fingers to his bare arm, ice on warmth. He let the cold remain on him for a moment before taking a step back, allowing her to enter.
"How long have you been outside?"
She shrugged and stepped into his apartment.
"Does he know you're here?"
She shook her head as he closed the door behind her. He headed for the telephone on his coffee table.
"I'll call him. He's probably called the cops by now, the tight ass."
She reached out for him, her cold fingers grabbing him at the wrist. He stopped and she released him as he turned to face her.
"What are you doing here, Cuddy?"
Her chapped lips pressed together as she shook her head. She was frozen down to the marrow, unable to feel her feet, but aware that the bottom of her jeans were soaked from the slush and snow. He took a step toward her.
"I don't know," she finally said, her teeth chattering ever so slightly.
"Sit down," he told her. "I'll make you coffee."
He went into his kitchen, turning the light on in the process. She walked numbly toward his couch as she took off her wet jacket. She sat down on the couch and set her coat on his floor. Her fingers began to ache from the residual chill.
As he prepared her coffee, he kept his eye on her. Her legs were bouncing up and down due to either nerves or agitation. Her face was devoid of emotion, so he couldn't tell what she was thinking or how she was feeling.
Once her coffee finished brewing, he poured her a cup and added one sugar and a splash of milk. He limped from the kitchen and handed her the coffee.
She took the mug from him and held it close to her mouth. She blew on it, trying to cool it some before taking a very little sip. He watched her as he remained standing.
"You going to tell me what's going on?"
She sipped her coffee again.
"You should take your pants off."
Her eyes shot up to meet his.
"They're soaked from the knee down. I'll get you something else to put on."
He limped away from her as she examined her wet jeans. She couldn't register the cold in them. She set her mug on the coffee table as he limped back into the room carrying a pair of sweatpants.
"You can tighten them with the tie."
She stood from the couch and took the sweatpants from him. A bit unstable, she passed him and headed for his bathroom. After she closed the door, she slid off her soaked sneakers and socks. She unbuttoned her jeans and pulled them down, revealing her cold, red legs.
Sighing to herself, she pulled the jeans off, her arm brushing over one of her wet and frozen feet. She pulled on the sweatpants, much to big for her, and tightened them around her waist. She picked up her jeans, socks, and sneakers and took them with her as she left the bathroom.
He crossed over to her and took the items from her. He headed down his hallway and went into a room she had never been in. She made her way back to the couch and sat. She picked up her coffee and sipped.
A low hum started accompanied by the occasional thud of her sneakers hitting the walls of the dryer. He appeared back in the living room.
"You don't want to dry anything else, do you? The rest of you is still pretty wet."
She shook her head and set her mug back on the coffee table. He sat down next to her.
"Where've you been?"
"Out," her voice cracked.
"You left Tight Ass at your house?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Cuddy, he called me eight hours ago looking for you. What the hell?"
A shiver coursed through her. He took one of her hands between both of his. He shook his head and stood up, releasing her hand.
"You're still freezing. Come with me."
He waited until she stood before leading her down the hallway and into his bedroom. He limped to his dresser and extracted a faded Green Bay Packers sweatshirt. He tossed it to her.
"I'll wait outside."
Once the bedroom door was closed, she took off her partially wet sweater. She felt her bra to make sure it wasn't wet. She slipped his sweatshirt over herself and left his bedroom.
He was making his way towards her, her coat in hand. He took her sweater from her and disappeared into the same room as before. She lingered in the hall, listening as the dryer stopped, the clothes were added, and the dryer was started up once more.
She took a step back as he reappeared. He closed the door behind him as he made eye contact with her.
"Your coffee's getting cold."
She nodded and began down the hallway.
"And I should call Tight Ass."
That made her stop and turn. She shook her head.
"I don't give a shit that he doesn't know where you are, but I am curious as to why you don't give a shit that he doesn't know where you are."
She diverted her eyes to the floor.
"It's not that I don't give a shit... I didn't have anywhere else to go. And if I go home now, he'll keep me up talking and I don't... I don't want to talk. I want to rest. I need to rest."
She passed him and quickly headed down the hallway. She was aware that her body was beginning to heat up again as soft tingles coursed through her limbs.
He followed after her and stopped just inside of the living room, watching as she sat herself on his couch once more. She sipped her coffee and then set it back down as her legs began to bounce up and down again.
"What'd you fight about this time?"
He crossed to the couch.
She curled up on the end of his couch, drawing her knees in and wedging her feet between the cushions. He took a seat in the space she wasn't taking up. She looked down at him.
"I don't know what to tell you," she said.
She looked away before closing her eyes. He leaned back into the couch cushions, a sigh wanting to escape.
"Where've you been?"
"I needed out. I just... I couldn't. He was saying all these things about– about everything. And, God, I wish I cared about him like that."
"But, you don't."
She opened her eyes and looked back down at him.
"No," she agreed quietly and sat up. "I felt claustrophobic. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I've never felt that way before. I wanted to feel what he was feeling. In my heart, I wanted to feel it, but I... I don't. And my head's reenforcing that I don't feel what he's feeling. How could I go home? How could I face him after running out on him like that?" She stared at him, utter desperation scrawled across her face. "I feel awful."
"So, you thought you'd freeze to death?"
She sighed and leaned forward, placing her face in her hands. He scooted closer to her and placed a hand just above her knee.
"I don't want to do this to him," she spoke from beneath her hands. "Why can't I just care for him like he cares for me? Why can't I just love him? He's a great guy... he is."
"It's not always pick and choose, Cuddy," he replied. "Can't help who you love... or don't love."
She sat up straighter and he removed his hand. Her eyes went to him and he stared back into her misty blues.
A moment passed.
He lowered his eyes and she reached for her coffee. She drank from it, starting to warm from the inside now. He stood to his feet.
"It's after three. You can sleep on the couch."
He walked toward the hallway, her eyes following him.
"And I'm not going to mention how stupid it was to be walking around by yourself in the wee hours of the morning."
He disappeared from her view and she curled back up into a little ball. He returned a few minutes later with a pillow and a few blankets.
She took the pillow and shoved it underneath her messy, wet hair. He unfolded the blankets and spread them over her.
He turned from her and headed out of the room, turning off the lamp along the way. She rested against the pillow, her eyes closing. She could hear the sound of the dryer going, her sneakers thumping, and then his bedroom door shutting.
Within minutes, she was asleep.
She awoke to the sound of voices.
"–didn't even know she was here."
"How could you not?"
"She's got a key. In case of emergencies."
"Where is she?"
"Well, aren't you going to let me in?"
"When you stop being a tight ass."
She sat up and looked toward the front door. She met eyes with the man House was trying to keep out.
"Lisa. What the fuck happened to you yesterday?"
"Calm down, there, sonny."
She climbed from the couch. "How did you know I was here?"
"House called me when he woke up and found you on his couch."
She looked to House, feeling betrayed. House merely responded with a small shrug. Cuddy looked back to the man whose heart she had never wanted to break.
"I need to change."
She hurried down the hallway and into the room that contained the dryer. It was a small room and held another two full bookcases along with the washer and dryer.
Cuddy extracted her clothes from the dryer and quickly changed into them. After she finished, she leaned her back against the dryer, coat in her arms and tears springing to her eyes.
There was a knock on the door.
The door opened and House stepped in.
"Tight Ass went to the car to heat it up."
She looked to the floor and sniffed back her tears. He let the door close behind him.
"Why did you call him?"
"Had to. You need to tell him."
"He's going to hate me."
"So? You're breaking up with him. He'll never see you again."
She lifted her eyes back up to him.
"He said things to me, House. I can't just do this to him."
"Okay. Then, marry him and live unhappily."
A soft snort escaped. "What do you know about happiness?"
"That you don't have it."
She toyed with the fabric of her coat as she bit her bottom lip. He was waiting for her cue.
"We ever going to talk about us?"
"I can't make you happy, Lisa."
"Neither can he. At least, not with... not when we're..."
She combed her frizzy, unkempt hair with her hand. He stepped closer to her, his hand sliding alongside of her face. Her hand dropped to his shoulder and her lips connected with his. He opened his mouth wider, his tongue mingling with hers.
With a small shake of her head, she pulled back, her breath catching in her throat.
"He's waiting for me."
Releasing a shaky breath, she slid her coat on and stepped around him. She left the room and headed from his apartment. He sighed and ran an agitated hand over his stubbly chin, his thoughts on her.
They were both wrong for each other, yet they were both right about each other. He didn't know anything about happiness and she couldn't help who she loved... or didn't love.