Title: Reality Hurts
Disclaimer: I don't own House MD, Thirteen or Cuddy. If I did, do you really think I'd be sitting here writing fic about them?
Spoilers: Major spoilers for Season 5 Ep 5, 'Lucky Thirteen'.
Summary: Oneshot set after 'Lucky Thirteen'. If you like angry!Cuddy and nonchalent!Thirteen then this is the fic for you.
She should have known it was going to be an awful day the moment she woke up to see that it was seven forty five and fuck she'd overslept by three quarters of an hour. She suspected that God actually hated her. As if the whole genetic disease thing wasn't enough, he had to screw with her job too. For a few, brief seconds she'd thought today was actually going to be bearable; mislead by the fact that she'd rolled over to see that anono-blonde had already left, therefore preventing the need for Thirteen to explain that in actual fact, she couldn't care less that she didn't know her name, and had no desire to learn it.
With barely any time to shower and get dressed let alone make herself breakfast, Thirteen hurriedly dialled Kutner's number; begging him to cover for her until she arrived at the hospital. It wasn't like she had to worry about House finding out; he didn't stroll into the hospital until nine am at the earliest. No, she was worried about Cuddy deciding to check up on her given the events of the past few days. There was a niggling feeling in the pit of Thirteen's stomach that she hadn't gotten away with the entire IV situation, and she was sure that given the right opportunity, Cuddy would be looking for the smallest of slip ups.
Fortunately, Kutner assured her that covering would be no problem; of course he would. Thanking him profusely, Thirteen hopped into a clean pair of black pants, pulled a white v-neck tee over her head, and grabbed her car keys, before rushing out of the apartment and down to her car. When the engine wouldn't start the first time she turned the key, she impatiently turned it again. The second time, she laughed out loud, coming to the end of her tether. When the key snapped off as she tried a third time, Thirteen quit fighting a losing battle and called for a taxi. At least now there was no suspecting about it, she supposed.
God definitely hated her.
At just gone eight fifteen Thirteen walked through the doors of Princeton Plainsborough Teaching Hospital, keeping her head low so she could get to diagnostics without drawing any attention to herself. She was only quarter of an hour late, but that wasn't the point, especially as she knew Cuddy wouldn't see it that way. Reaching the lift, she raised her hand to press the upwards button when she felt a hand on her forearm. Feeling a shiver run through her at the contact, she swallowed hard the moment she looked down, catching sight of the sleeve of a suit that could only belong to one person.
"Dr. Cuddy," Thirteen said warily, turning to face the Dean of Medicine.
"Dr. Hadley," Cuddy replied, though her voice was far from wary, and way closer to fury. "My office."
"I realise I'm late," Thirteen intended on nipping things in the bud before Cuddy ended up in a full blown rage at her. "But I assure you that it was a one off, my car wouldn't start and…"
"I don't want to hear it!" Cuddy interrupted angrily. "Just get inside my office and I'll talk to you there."
Admitting defeat, Thirteen did as was asked of her and sloped towards Cuddy's office. Hot on her heels, Cuddy followed, shutting the door firmly behind them, and motioning for Thirteen to sit down. Without a word, Thirteen did so, sure that she was about to get fired.
"I'm not even bothered about the fact that you're late," Cuddy started, though her voice was far calmer that it had been previously. "And far more concerned about how you think you're fit to practice medicine when you're nothing but a glorified zombie."
'Ouch' Thirteen found herself thinking. 'That stung.' She didn't voice this aloud, however, still remaining silent.
"So I'm going to ask you once again," Cuddy continued. "To take a drugs test."
"No," Thirteen refused.
"If you want to continue working here then you don't have a choice," Cuddy informed her. "I'll take your refusal as a sign that you have something to hide."
"No," Thirteen repeated softly.
Cuddy sighed. "Dr. Hadley…"
"I don't want to," Thirteen spoke over Cuddy, knowing there was no way out this time; House wouldn't save her. But that didn't mean she would submit to Cuddy's request. She'd do this her way. So she could control how this happened. "And there's no point. I'll test positive for pot, acid, meth, and various other pills, and quite frankly, Dr. Cuddy, I'm sick of taking tests that I know are going to come out positive."
As Thirteen finished her speech, Cuddy watched her, seemingly wondering how to reply to Thirteen's admission. For a moment, Thirteen thought of her reaction as the calm before the storm. However, she then caught what she was sure was a flash of sympathy in Cuddy's eyes, though it was gone the moment she blinked. 'Either you're still fucked or you're seeing things,' Thirteen told herself.
Eventually, Cuddy cleared her throat and leant forward. "Ok."
Puzzled, Thirteen frowned. "Ok? Ok as in I'm fired, right?"
"No," Cuddy shook her head. "Just… ok. Now go on up to diagnostics before House arrives, Dr. Hadley."
Thirteen stood up and protested, "But…"
"But nothing," Thirteen watched Cuddy reach for some papers, ignoring her and her confusion. "Go."
Thirteen had no idea what was wrong with Cuddy, but decided to heed her instructions. Maybe she wanted time to think about what she was going to do before she told Thirteen. Deciding she could ponder this outside the confines of Cuddy's office, Thirteen made to leave as she was told to.
"Oh, and Dr. Hadley?" Cuddy called her name once again, though when Thirteen turned she saw that Cuddy was still looking down at her paperwork.
"Yes?" Thirteen replied tentatively.
"This conversation?" Cuddy nonchalantly flicked a few pages, "It never happened."
Thirteen was seriously freaked out by Cuddy's reaction to her confession. She couldn't logically see a reason for why Cuddy would sweep this under the carpet, ignore protocol. It wasn't as if they were friends, Thirteen mused, and therefore Cuddy would have no reason to want to lie for her. She could quite easily get rid of Thirteen; and she'd be saving money for the hospital in the process. After all, the original budget for diagnostics had only allowed for House to have three team members; not four.
With winter fast approaching; Thirteen walked home in the bitter cold. She could have called for a taxi but she didn't mind walking with the wind blowing against her face. Somehow, it made her feel real. Alive. Unlike others her age, she didn't have the luxury of knowing she probably had years and years ahead of her, time to savour the little things in life. And so, feeling alive was about the only thing she could feel, apart from drunk or high.
"Need a lift?" The voice from her left was most definitely familiar, and Thirteen turned, making eye contact with the woman she was currently thinking about. Knowing it would be rude to refuse considering what had happened, Thirteen nodded, uttering "Thanks," as she climbed into the car next to Cuddy, and fastened her seatbelt.
For a minute or so, Cuddy drove in silence, before Thirteen realised she hadn't even told her where she lived. Though she opened her mouth to inform Cuddy, the other woman beat her to it.
"I already know where you live," she said simply.
Once again confused, Thirteen checked, "You do?"
"Hmm," Cuddy kept her eyes on the road as she spoke. "Looked it up in your file a couple of days ago."
"A couple of days ago being when you found me with the IV fluids, right?"
"Right," Cuddy agreed.
Thirteen knew it was a bad idea to ask questions, but her need to know why Cuddy was behaving so strangely was far too strong. Taking a deep breath, she tried to sound as polite as possible as she question Cuddy. "I'm sorry to bring this up, but why?"
"I was trying to find out as much as I could about you," Cuddy replied.
It took Thirteen a few seconds before she figured out Cuddy didn't understand what she was asking. "What? No, I mean today, why did you…"
"I know what you meant," Cuddy stated. "I was hoping you'd get the hint and shut up."
"It's just us here," Thirteen pressed on. "No one is going to know that we're discussing it."
"I will," Cuddy countered. "And unlike you, I still have a conscience."
Thirteen's mouth dropped open in disbelief, and she twisted her seatbelt as she turned her body to face Cuddy directly. "Just because I take drugs, it doesn't mean that I don't have a conscience."
Cuddy denied, "For once, I'm not referring to the drugs. Not entirely, anyway." She drove into a parking space, and it was only then that Thirteen realised they'd already arrived outside her apartment. "But the fact that you're doing drugs when other people's lives are in your hands should make you feel like crap. Using women for sex; that should also make you feel like crap."
"I see someone's been talking to House," Thirteen muttered. "Look, I don't do drugs when I'm working. And the whole point of the IV fluids the other day was so that I could do my job."
"Really?" Cuddy snapped. "Or was it so you didn't get found out?"
"Why do you even care?!" Thirteen yelled. The loudness of her voice made Cuddy flinch, and was even a shock to her own ears. Lowering her voice again she said softly, "If you really think that then you might as well fire me anyway."
"No," Cuddy replied, surprising Thirteen with her gentle tones. "I just… I wanted to know that you felt something. That monosyllabic, emotionless tone that implies you don't give a shit you've been using lately; has been driving me up the wall."
Thirteen couldn't help but smile. "I give a shit about a lot of stuff," she announced. "Just not myself."
Turning off the engine, Cuddy faced Thirteen, her sapphire blue eyes locking with Thirteen's own emerald greens. "You should," Cuddy murmured as she leant in towards Thirteen. "You need to take care of yourself, Thirteen."
"Don't want to," Thirteen whispered, unclipping her seatbelt. She too leaned forward, feeling her skin tingle as Cuddy placed a hand against the small patch of skin on her hip, where her top had ridden up. She sucked in a breath as Cuddy's lips touched her own, and she reciprocated, her tongue coming into contact with Cuddy's. She closed her eyes, raised a hand to trace swirls on Cuddy's cheek, and nibbled on her bottom lip, tasting her, savouring her. She couldn't help but moan into the kiss, feeling Cuddy's hand climb higher up her back, skimming against her bones, intensifying the lust between them. She wasn't drunk and she wasn't high; this was reality.
"I can't do this," Thirteen gasped, wrenching herself out of Cuddy's hold. "I'm sorry, but I've got to go."
Throwing the car door open, Thirteen stumbled out, ignoring Cuddy's pleas for her to come back, that they didn't have to do anything but talk. Not listening, Thirteen made it into the safety of the building, the lift, her apartment, where she finally shut the door to the outside world and collapsed onto the floor.
Cuddy Huntington's Drugs Sex. Thirteen didn't know what exactly was around the corner, but there was something she knew for sure.
All of them, one of them, would be the death of her.
She just didn't want it to be Cuddy.