Smoke Signals

If she was able to send out smoke signals, she would. She wouldn't hesitate to do so. She'd shoot a flare sky high if she had one. Hell, she'd use her pager or a phone or send an email if she could.

As it is, she is stuck aiming House pointed looks and tapping out Morse code with her index finger on her arm. S.O.S. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap-tap-tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

He raised an eyebrow the first time she did it and then lazily drew his eyes to the man beside her. The man is in his sixties with greying hair and a bald patch and startling green eyes. Also, he is annoying the hell out of her.

She hasn't been so irritated by a hospital donor in years. And never like this. Every little thing she's done as she showed him around has not escaped his attention and he keeps questioning her about it, about her.

It feels more like an awkward first date than an official meeting.

She sighs to herself and tries once more to get House's attention. If he can ask for a consult, anything to free her of this man without losing the donation he wishes to give the hospital, she swears she'll give him five hours off clinic duty. Maybe more.

Perhaps he can read her mind because in about ten seconds, he abruptly starts walking toward them. He is wearing an expression she can't get a read on.

"Need you," he says simply. "Now."

She tries not to sigh in relief. She turns to the donor. "Excuse me, Mr Cole. I have to take this. Can I call you later about the donation?"

The man smiles thinly and nods. He is clearly disappointed that their time has been cut short.

She shudders involuntarily.

Fortunately, Mr Cole is too busy sizing up House to notice.

"I'll call you," she says again. "Thank you for your time."

Mr Cole turns his gaze on her. "No problem at all, Dr Cuddy. Give me a call anytime."

Oh, god.

She ignores House's smirk.

"I will," she forces out. She fakes a smile as Mr Cole leaves. The moment he is out of sight, she sighs in relief. Loudly.

House leers at her.

"That man," she says frowning, "is insufferable."

"'I'll call you'," House says pointedly.

"I had to tell him that and you know it. What he can give this hospital – "

"Is worth getting hit on by someone old enough to be your dad?"

"Shut up." Her tone is tired, weak. He is right of course. She allowed Mr Cole the benefit of the doubt and for what? His money? How pathetic is that? She doesn't get long to wonder.

"So what do I get for rescuing from him?" Mocking.

She tries not to smile but biology wins out.

"You," she says deciding not to go with her previous choice to cut his clinic hours, "get the warm and fuzzy feeling inside that a person gets once they've done good."

He stares at her for a moment. "I think I'll pass on that. What's option number two?"

Shaking her head she slowly starts walking away from him. She quirks an eyebrow when he follows and offers him the same teasing look. "You know what? I think I'm starting to miss Mr Cole."