Fairytale of Princeton Plainsboro by DD Agent
Plot: After getting into a fight with Cuddy, House decides to organise the hospital Christmas party, but is it going to be a disaster or will it be a winter wonderland?
Spoilers: Okay, the whole story is initially based on a spoiler for "Joy to the World". There are other spoilers for "Joy"; "The Itch"; and "Let them Eat Cake".
This is set after my other story "Bentley". I know, I haven't finished that story yet but I do have it all planned out. I would have used a different character, but I needed Gwen's nephew, and for that I really needed Gwen.
And away we go!
Lisa Cuddy looked up when she heard a knock on her door. Calling out to let the person enter, she saw Aimee Pearson, the woman from social services that she had been liasing with. Accompanying her was a young girl, around four. She had thick brown hair and toy glasses on, and a little Barbie backpack.
"Hey Lisa. We were wondering if you could look after Elizabeth until after Christmas? You don't have to decide straight away, if you want you can take her for today and see how things work out," Aimee explained when Elizabeth was settled on one of Cuddy's chairs looking at her colouring book intently.
"Well I need to catch up on a lot of paperwork, but its all office based so we can stay in here and get to know each other."
"Great, this is great Lisa."
Aimee went over and talked to Elizabeth, and Lisa just sat back in her seat and let out a breath she had been holding. After Joy, she had considered fostering children, a way to take care of a child without as much heartbreak as she knew she would have to give them back. She had wanted to foster babies, but Elizabeth looked like a sweet young girl. She kind of reminded Lisa of herself when she was that age.
"Doctor Cuddy? Doctor Bentley said she was running a little late but should be here on time. Doctor Wilson said that he would be at New York shortly," explained her assistant Beth, smiling at the young Elizabeth as she coloured in her page expertly.
"Thank you very much."
She had forgotten that the lectures were today. Gwen Bentley, a brilliant doctor, was giving a series of lectures on Oncology today to the department and to some of the med students. She had left Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital to work at Mercy in New York after she had gotten into another fight with her head of diagnostics Gregory House. After the first time they had been roommates and their final argument, to her brief return followed by her longer return that had ended in an argument that shattered any relationship they did have, Gwen had avoided New Jersey like the plague.
But now she was here for the day, and surprisingly Wilson was in New York to talk to the head of Oncology there, Caleb Gissing.
"Cuddy, I need a word."
Her other problem of the day: House. They had been going somewhere, she had been sure of it. Now she was sure that they were heading to a black hole, and it was time to get out while the going was good. His 'gift' of her old med school desk she had sent back to her mother to be put in storage, she didn't want it in her office. She didn't want the reminder of him constantly in her office.
"What do you want?"
House was about to speak when he saw the young child scribbling endlessly with her crayons. He cocked an eyebrow in her direction, and when Elizabeth saw the doctor she smiled and held out her hand.
"Elizabeth Newman, pleased to meet you," she said, smiling under her toy glasses. House didn't respond, and suddenly felt a tug on his arm. Not really a tug, more like a painful jolt. It was Cuddy.
"You can be rude to me, but you will not be rude to her. Clear?" Cuddy released his arm and moved behind her desk. House took and shook Elizabeth's hand, and she returned to her colouring satisfied.
"You got a new desk. What happened to the other one?" House had just realised that the desk was not indeed the one he had shipped out from the Cuddy house, but was the one she had planned to have in the first place. She had replaced it. Suddenly House felt very cold.
"I put it back in storage, where it and everything else from Med School belongs." She could have slapped him; it probably would have hurt less. They had met each other in Michigan, shared one night that haunted him day to day and now she was rejecting that, like he had rejected her. He deserved it, but that didn't make it stop hurting. His one attempt at doing good had just blown back in his face.
"Oh, and House, if I catch you in here with a hooker again, I'll fire your ass so fast your cane will spin," Cuddy hissed, before waving him away. It didn't matter what he had come to talk to her about, she was too pissed off with him at the moment to even let him talk to her.
House made it to outside her door before his knuckles that were clutching his cane were so white that he feared that they would never unlock. There would be no flirting his way out of this, no jibes about her shirt to make her smile in the way he liked. There would be no back up, no good times, no one beside his bed holding his hand.
A sound came from his left hand, and he looked to see that he had been grasping his cane so hard that the wood had broken.
House was in his office, not really concentrating on the way his yoyo was going. The new and improved ducklings were in the other room working on their current case. It wasn't that interesting, just enough for him to take it. Cuddy was still on his mind, and he couldn't concentrate. Killing a patient would not help matters, although it would be nice to hear some yelling out of her mouth instead of the cold disappointment he heard at present.
"Hey House," announced a voice from the doorway, and looking up he was surprised to see that it was Gwen Bentley. Putting down his yoyo, he limped over to the door and gave her a hug. Her hair was darker this time, she seemed happier in her face. Her arm was stiff, and it didn't make all the way around him.
"Hey Bentley. Guess you're here for the Oncology lectures?" House asked, sitting down, as his leg was hurting. She nodded and smiled.
"I've got lectures this morning and a bit of this afternoon before going off to do a gig at my brother's bar and then some thing at the Country Club that my drummer's involved in," Gwen explained, and House nodded. Gwen had talked about getting a band together, and she had found some kindred spirits at Mercy who played instruments.
"I was wondering if you could do me a favour, you do owe me," House nodded as Gwen asked. She went out the door for a moment and came back holding a four year old in her arms. She dropped him on House's lap and smiled.
"I don't do kids."
"He's my nephew, only I can't take care of him. He's Caitlin's son, only she's in San Francisco trying to bail hubby out of a cell. Please House?" Gwen pleaded, desperate. House was about to give her some witty and demeaning comeback, but the incident with Cuddy had left him drained.
"Fine. I'll keep him till five, and then you better pick him up. And don't be blaming me for anything he picks up here, you are leaving him with me," House warned, and turned the small boy to face him. He had thick dark hair like his aunt, but had blue eyes that probably matched his fathers.
"He's four, and his name is Gregory Bentley. He's not named after you; he's named after my dope of a brother in law's father. Anyway, I'll be back around four, the Christmas party starts around five, and I don't really want to run into anyone."
Gwen kissed her nephew on his forehead and waved goodbye before she was out the door. House turned to his new visitor who looked at him with a sense of awe and wonder. He usually had that affect on children. Gwen was avoiding seeing Wilson, which considering what happened the last time they met was better for them and the hospital's legal team.
"I want to go to the Christmas party, I love Christmas," Gregory announced to House, his accent a mix of British and American.
"Well there isn't going to be a Christmas party, because no one…" It then hit House like a train what he could do to get on Cuddy's good side again. Picking up the small four year old upside down and putting him in his arms [still upside down], House used his cane to push open the door and enter the inner sanctum of the diagnostics department.
Three months ago, an email had gone round to the head of Radiology, the head of Diagnostics and the head of Neurology. It was their turn to either band together and plan the Christmas party, or let one department do it. The only reason House even received the email because it was his departments turn on the rota. House had orchestrated it so Thompson thought the head of Neurology was doing it, and Collins thought the head of Radiology was doing it.
But now, House could see a chance to make things up with Cuddy by planning an incredible Christmas party.
"Listen up ducklings, we're going to plan the Christmas party!" House announced. Taub looked uninterested, Thirteen looked surprised, Foreman looked confused, and Kutner looked excited.
"Okay: a, Thompson in Radiology is organising the Christmas party. B, even if he wasn't, we've got a patient. And c, why do you have a child with you?" Foreman questioned and House put Gregory back in the proper vertical position.
"Thompson thinks that Collins is doing it and vice versa. However, no one is doing the Christmas party. Thus, we are going to save Christmas!" Foreman and the gang looked even more confused. It wasn't like him to try and save anything bar patients.
"Cool, can I come?" asked Gregory, and House nodded. Sitting down, he placed Gregory on Kutner's lap and turned towards the white board.
"Here's what's going to happen. We are going to plan the most awesome Christmas party ever so Cuddy will stop hating me. Foreman and Taub will sort out the patient. Thirteen and Kutner will be my little elves. Now scram, we have to brainstorm."
Foreman and Taub sidled out of the office, with a "too late for that" remark from Taub about him and Cuddy, leaving Gregory, Kutner, and Thirteen looking at House in confusion.
"What stuff do we have at Christmas?" House asked the group, preparing to write on the white board.
"A big Christmas tree."
"Lots of food"
"Santa!" cried Kutner and Gregory at the same time, and House [who at that point had been writing everything earnestly down] turned around to face the four-year-old boy and the grown Doctor who should know better.
"Santa doesn't exist," House shot back, but Gregory snapped.
House decided to face off with the four year old; he wasn't going to be usurped by a kid just out of diapers.
"Your Mommy and Daddy wrap your presents up and put them under the tree. Santa doesn't exist." Kutner looked shocked, while Thirteen was glaring at House. Gregory, however, didn't cry like House thought he would. He was definitely a Bentley.
"Maybe your Mummy and Daddy did because Santa wouldn't go near you because you're so mean!"
House smirked at the retort; he was beginning to like this kid. He swallowed a couple of vicodin before writing something down and handing it to Thirteen.
"I want you and the nurses to put up a giant Christmas tree in the lobby, and cover everything with tinsel and the like. Set up for some drinks and food from the cafeteria. Then I want you to email everyone and tell them that the party will be at five, and everyone is to wear black tie. Then send a message that there was a severe accident at the front of the lobby, and everyone will have to go around the back for the time being," House explained, and Thirteen nodded before leaving the way Taub and Foreman had gone.
"As for little Gregory here, you're going to keep Cuddy busy today. She's got a little girl with her."
"I don't like girls."
"Don't worry, that will change. Kutner, take him down and come back up here so we can get started."
Cuddy was colouring in a Princess and her castle with Elizabeth when there was another knock at the door. Instead of House or anyone else she was annoyed with, it was Doctor Kutner holding a young boy about four.
"Doctor Cuddy, I am so very sorry, but I need to ask you a favour."
Elizabeth waved brightly at the two new arrivals, and Kutner smiled back but the young boy looked completely disinterested. Elizabeth slightly frowned at his lack of interest, she liked being liked.
"This is Gregory Bentley, Doctor Bentley's nephew. She left him with House, which personally was stupid. We're in the middle of a case; we can't take care of him. I know this is really cheeky to ask, but could you…"
"Put him here next to Elizabeth, he can do some colouring," Cuddy stated, and watched as Kutner placed him in the chair next to the young girl. The Hospital Administrator thought they had an area for children, it was called a crèche, she was very sure of this fact. Kutner should at least know that unless…House was up to something. Sighing, Cuddy watched as Gregory took two of the M and Ms he had out of his pocket and swallowed them in one gulp. Maybe it was a good thing that he was away from House.
Then there were two. Kutner and House had dragged the white board into his office, and they were now in the process of drawing a really big picture of what was going to happen.
"Okay, so we block off the lobby and use the outside as the main party. Over here we have the band, on the right we have Santa. Food and drink will be kept under the canopy over here…what do we think?"
"I love Christmas."
House gave a cocky smile to Kutner as they overlooked their plans for the Christmas party.
"Okay, I need you to call a couple of contractors and have them block off that way to the lobby and put up all we need: the tree, the bandstand. Do that, and come back to me. We need to go shopping for Santa's presents."
"I lied, he does exist."
House grabbed his cane and decided to wander down to the lecture hall to grab Gwen. They were going shopping, and they were going to need some money. When in doubt, always go to the rich kid. There was a vibrating in his pocket, and he pulled out his cell. Wilson.
"Let me guess. You travelled all the way to New York to talk to someone, but really talk to Gwen. When you got there you realised that she wasn't there but was here."
"Yes. Have you seen her?" Wilson asked, the sound of hospital going-ons in the background. House sighed and muttered the affirmative.
"I don't think she wants to talk to you."
"And she wants to talk to you?"
"Well she's currently on my lap, so I'll just ask her." House pressed the end button. He knew that if he filled Wilson in on his grand scheme, then he would have to deal with more of his extensive analysing. Maybe it was because House didn't want to hear the truth right now, and deal with a very smug Wilson.
Pushing the door open with his cane, he saw Gwen at the front labelling a diagram in front of some twenty eager med students. She looked up when he entered and glared bitterly, but he sat down at the back of the class and waved her to continue.
"So, if you ever feel like you need help giving a diagnosis…"
"Don't listen to her, her technique made a patient mad enough to try and…"
Gwen slammed the book she had been using hard on the desk, scaring the three med students in the front row and shaking House. He had seen Gwen angry before, but this was different. He had touched a very sensitive nerve.
"What do you fucking want House?" she snapped, and the med students sidled out of the room. In the end it was just her standing up there with tears in the corner of her eyes and him sitting alone in the empty lecture hall. There was a moment of silence before he spoke.
"I'm an ass, I'm a screw up. Its Christmas, and for one day out of the year I want to do what no one expects and do something nice. Because I don't care what people who I don't know think of me, but I don't like being hated by people I call friends."
"That is such bull."
"Think what you will. But I need your money and I need you. Wilson isn't here and Kutner makes a crap sidekick. I need you Gwen."
Gwen relented on her anger and gave House a smile before moving over to him and embracing him. They held each other close for a moment before they broke away from each other. Just as House gave Gwen a smug grin, she pulled her fist back and punched him in the jaw, causing him to fall several feet away from her.
"Now we're good."
"Good. Nice punch."
"Lets go shopping."
They had taken House's car, mostly because Gwen didn't want hers getting scratched and House wanted to drive her Mercedes. They drove past two high street shops, which carried some things until they came to a small shopping mall, which carried everything they would need. Armed with Gwen's credit, Thirteen's list of everyone who needed presents, Kutner's large trolley and House's commanding cane, they began to shop.
Elsewhere, Taub and Foreman were dealing with the current patient. They had run a series of tests, an MRI and done a full blood work, and they were close to cracking the case. When that was done, Taub planned to escape from House's grasp and go home and Foreman was planning to continue on with his drug trial.
Cuddy was doing some paperwork while watching Elizabeth trying to persuade Gregory to do some colouring.
"Colouring is fun! C'mon Gregory, its really good."
"Don't wanna. Playing on my game boy."
Lisa sighed when she realised that it was like her and House had shrunk to make up Elizabeth and Gregory. She noticed how much Elizabeth tried to engage her companion, but nothing. She never gave up, she always came back after doing some colouring. When she did so, she saw that Gregory was looking anxiously at what she was doing but his pride kept him from joining her.
Wilson was holding out for a taxi as his own car had broken down. As he tried to hail unsuccessfully for the third time, it began to snow. Breathing in deeply, he huddled to the image of him and Gwen two summers ago. It kept him warm and anxious to see her again.
At the shopping centre, the gang had hit the bookshop. They had got most of the gifts there for the majority of the department heads. Elsewhere, they had gotten large boxes of chocolates for the nursing staff, especially those who were putting decorations up in the lobby as a lead in to House's plan.
"Okay, who do we have left?" House asked, looking through the large trolley they had taken at the front of the mega store.
"We have Cuddy, Wilson, Cameron, Chase, Foreman, Taub, Kutner, me, you and Gwen," Thirteen explained, ticking things off the list. House nodded and steered them all to a small café in the centre of the mall. He ordered hot chocolates and doughnuts for everyone as they bounced ideas off each other.
"A training bra for Cameron."
"A giant head for Foreman."
"We can't get him that!"
"Well what do you suggest Thirteen?"
"I don't know yet. Let me think on it."
Kutner just smiled at the two arguing doctors while he sipped his hot chocolate. ""What about presents for Gregory and Elizabeth? Means we get to look in the toy shops!"
"I knew there was a reason why I hired you."
They had already decided not to split up, but House went off on his own to pick up Cuddy's present. Thirteen and Kutner exchanged knowing looks, while Gwen just smiled and took hold of the trolley. They picked up a silk shirt for Cameron [extra small]; a skiing calendar for Chase; a new John Grisham novel for Foreman [Thirteen had heard him talking about it] and digital photography paper for Taub.
The three next headed over to the toy section. They had managed to find a Doctors dressing up kit for Gregory, with a little lab coat and a stethoscope as well. While Thirteen and Gwen looked at all the dress up outfits, Kutner had managed to find the perfect gift for Elizabeth. Unfortunately, there was only one left and a man was about to take it.
"Hey! I was going to buy that!"
"Too late, I'm taking it!"
"Well that's just mean! Can't we talk about this?"
"Honey?" Kutner looked over to see Thirteen with a bulging belly. He looked at her in confusion until she slung an arm around him and cooed over the doll the man was about to take away. She gave a smile to him, until she clutched her stomach and began to groan.
"Hey, dude, find someone to call an ambulance! I think my wife is going into labour!"
When the man had ran off to find the manager and get hold of an ambulance, Gwen rushed in with the trolley and they placed the doll inside. Thirteen stopped clutching her stomach in agony and pulled out the large pillow they had gotten for the person in charge of the Sleep Lab.
"Nice." Kutner and Thirteen high fived and then they all rushed off before the man could come back
While they paid for their goods, House was busy getting everyone else's gifts. He bought a box set of Babylon 5 for Kutner; a necklace with an amethyst gemstone on for Thirteen; a book entitled 'Three divorces and no one loves you?' for Wilson and a book on Diagnosis Murder for Gwen.
He was still looking for the perfect present for Cuddy, and he found it in the jewellery section. There were three pairs of earrings he liked that would go very well with her sense of style. Pointing at one, the shop assistant got them out so he could have a better look. Satisfied, he pulled out his own cash. Gwen wasn't going to pay for this purchase.
Cameron was eating her lunch when she caught sight of Collins. She had seen the memo about the Christmas party today, and wanted to congratulate him on doing a better job than last year.
"Hey Collins! Nice job on the Christmas party," She complimented, noting that he looked slightly confused.
"I'm not doing the Christmas party, Thompson is."
It was at that point that Thompson entered the cafeteria and caught the last statement of Collins.
"I'm not doing the party, you are."
"I think not friend. I was told in an email that you were."
Cameron waved both of them off and they fell quiet. "Who else was in the rota to do the Christmas party apart from you two?"
The two men thought for a moment, and inwardly groaned when they remembered who it was. Turning to each other, they said it in unison.
It was then unanimously decided that they would go to see Doctor Cuddy right that minute. Cameron knocked on the door, and was allowed in by a four-year-old girl who had pen over her face. Going into the office further, she could see that another four year old holding a marker pen was standing facing the corner. Cuddy came over and picked up the girl and began to scrub her face more.
"Doctor Cameron, I'm kind of busy right now. What can I do for you?"
"Thompson thinks that Collins is doing the Christmas party and vice versa. In reality, neither of them are doing it."
Cuddy stopped scrubbing the girls face at that point and turned to the three doctors, her hand shaking and her shoulders already defeated. This was House's scheme.
"Don't tell me, House was the other person in the rota."
Cameron slowly nodded and Cuddy groaned.
"Find House and drag him here. I want to remind him that I still have his balls." Thompson and Collins nodded, and Cameron did so too, but also looked slightly angry at Cuddy as she walked back to her desk. Her relationship with House was seriously starting to grate.
"We've got all the presents, the decorations are being set up, and Santa's sleigh is getting ready. Now we just need a band."
House nodded to Kutner as Gwen and Thirteen stashed the presents in some black bin liners in his office.
"Gwen's got a band. What's it called?"
"Bentley and the Med Students. But we've got two gigs tonight, we can't possibly play at the party."
House turned around to her and stuck his bottom lip out. Gwen stood fast and stuck her own tongue out at him.
"You've got to make it worth my while."
"I'll give you a job on my diagnostics team."
House turned around to see Gwen, noticeably surprised. He had offered her a job on the basis that she wouldn't take it, and acknowledge it as a joke. House then realised that that was the reason she was back at Princeton Plainsboro, because she wanted a job at the hospital again. It would be interesting to work with her, she was another vicodin addict, and it meant that he could have an oncologist on tap. House could also annoy Wilson about his love life for a change.
"Better be one hell of a set."
"House, Cuddy wants to see you in her office," said Cameron, appearing in the doorway. House turned around and rolled his eyes before joining her. Cameron eyed Gwen nervously, subconsciously touching her nose before she left with him.
By the time they had made it down to Cuddy's office, Cameron was sick of Christmas songs and sick of House. He had sung Jingle Bells, commented on how Cuddy had the hots for him, sung his version of All I want for Christmas [House wanted a convertible and Cuddy's breasts apparently].
"Please, take him," Cameron muttered before walking out at a fast pace. Why did everything have to revolve around Cuddy?
House noticed that Gregory and Elizabeth were outside with the nurses enjoying free lollipops. It was just House and Cuddy in the office.
"Your master plan is to ruin the Christmas party? Pathetic. Pathetic and sad."
"I didn't want to ruin it, I wanted to have a good one. There are decorations up in the lobby for gods sake!" House defended, his surprise wasn't going the way he had hoped.
"Which the nurses put up on request from Doctor Hadley. House, I've had enough of you. You're on suspension till the end of the year."
House looked down at the floor, realising that Cuddy was shaking as she rested both of her hands on her desk, with her back to him. She had been threatening to do it ever since he had started, but now was the first time he had ever pushed her so far that she was left with no choice but to suspend him. Moving over to her, he rested a hand on her shoulder and kissed her head.
"I'm sorry I disappointed you Lisa."
And then he was gone, and Elizabeth and Gregory came into her office, and all she could do was wipe away her tears and join both sedate children in a game of Clue.
Kutner, Thirteen, Taub, Foreman, and Gwen were in the office when House had returned. The nurses, who had been listening outside, had already told most of the hospital what had happened. When House turned up at the door, Gwen left her chair and rested a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry House."
"Why? We've still got two hours before the party. I want Foreman to sign the patient's release forms; Gwen needs to get her band ready. As for the three of you, I have a special job for you guys."
Foreman nodded as he once again left the room. Taub looked worried, Gwen looked happy and Thirteen and Kutner were both excited and a little concerned because House had a plan, and his plan didn't involve doing what Cuddy told him to.
XFive p.m. Two hours later and the start of the party
Lisa Cuddy looked down at the lobby. There was a small amount of food and drink, a large Christmas tree with music and decorations. Mostly everyone had got changed and was wearing formal wear, although there were those who had just come off shifts that hadn't had time.
She was wearing a low cut scarlet dress with a flowing skirt. She had called her assistant to pick it up from her house, as well as buy a small party dress for Elizabeth. She was still with Gregory, and if he moved she followed and if she moved he followed.
"Nice party. House did well," Wilson stated, passing her a glass of champagne. He had managed to locate his way from New York to New Jersey, but had missed Gwen. She wasn't in the hospital anymore, although Cuddy did say she would be back to pick up her nephew at five. Wilson's demeanour hadn't changed, he was still sad.
"If everyone would like to follow me, the main event of the party is about to begin," announced an usher at the entrance of the lobby, causing most people to mutter in confusion. Another two ushers opened the doors, and Cuddy with Elizabeth and Gregory around her feet made her way outside. It was freezing, but there was something in the air.
Suddenly, floodlights opened up the area of the car park that had been closed for most of the day, and Cuddy could see what House had done. There was a huge decorated Christmas tree in the centre of the area, and the ground was covered by fake snow. There was Santa's sleigh to the right and a bandstand with a large band present.
"Merry Christmas Princeton Plainsboro!" cried the lead singer, which turned out to be Gwen. The band then started out into a rendition of "Merry Christmas Everyone", with Gwen singing most of the vocals, backed by the pianist, which was House. House who was wearing black tie and smiling at Cuddy.
"SANTA! I knew he existed!"
Cuddy was powerless to stop Elizabeth and Gregory from running towards Santa's sleigh. The rest of them followed the small children to find Santa Claus, or rather a very tired Taub dressed up as Santa. On the back of his sleigh were a ton of presents and two elves, or rather Thirteen and Kutner.
"Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! I am going to kill House, but after Christmas," Taub muttered after his joyful bellow, picking up the two four year olds and depositing them next to him on the sleigh. The elves then started handing out presents to everyone, and they opened them with smiles on their faces.
Chase was impressed with his calendar, and Cameron held hers up to her torso before kissing her boyfriend. Foreman laughed at the choice of book and planted a kiss on the cheek of Elf Thirteen who was rather cold in her green skirt and pixie boots. Wilson groaned at his, but smiled secretly as he knew it was from House. A present arrived over his shoulder, and he took it, looking back to see the face of Gwen. She looked more beautiful in the moonlight, a fact that he didn't want to keep from her.
Wilson gave her a long smile before ripping open his present. It was a small box with a key inside.
"I'm moving back to Princeton. Thought you might like a key."
"How about a dance?"
Gwen beamed as she was taken onto the dance floor by Wilson, and he twirled her into his arms. Even from a distance away, Cuddy could see the love they felt for each other in their eyes.
"What do you think Doctor Cuddy?"
"Its…nice," she managed to say before giving House a long smile, which he returned. He then proceeded to dive into Santa's sleigh to pull out a present for her. It was a small box, and she took it anxiously from him.
"Merry Christmas Lisa."
It was the second time he had said her first name and this time it made her blush. Opening up the box she found a pair of crimson earrings that matched her dress.
"Thank you House. I don't know what to say."
"I'm sure you'll think of something."
He leaned in for a kiss, and for a split second she thought about rejecting him like he had before. But he had done all this, put a smile on the faces of the staff and on hers. Any more debate was put off when she felt his lips touch hers. It was gentle, not like their latest kiss, which had been furious and passionate. It was over before it had really begun, but it lingered on their lips for a long time.
"Merry Christmas House."
Cuddy looked out on her staff enjoying themselves and dancing to the band. Looking behind, she saw Taub getting Gregory in a little lab coat and Elizabeth playing patients with her new dolly. Gwen and Wilson had joined Thirteen and Kutner at the back of the sleigh who were trying to find their presents. Eventually, Cuddy heard a whoop of joy as the presents were discovered and she turned around to watch them.
"Diagnosis Murder? House I love you! Look Jimmy!" Gwen squealed as she kissed Wilson on the cheek and marvelled at the Dick Van Dyke medical drama.
"Babylon 5? Oh that rocks, Claudia Christian is so hot."
"This is beautiful House, thank you," Thirteen stated, asking a very willing Foreman to attach the necklace around her neck.
"Here you go Santa," said Kutner as he threw Taub his present. They got a genuine smile off of him as he saw his photography paper.
Cuddy leant her head on House's shoulder, shivering slightly. He removed his suit jacket and put it around her shoulders. For the first time in New Jersey that day, it began to snow.
"So, I guess this means I'm not suspended."
"Not exactly. You're suspended from diagnostics, but I'm going to get you teaching."
House groaned, causing Cuddy to smirk wickedly. Behind them, Elizabeth and Gregory started shouting at the snow, smiling as Santa gave them a candy cane each. Elf Thirteen danced with Foreman, neither of them keeping their eyes off each other. Gwen and Wilson were kissing each other in the snow. Cameron and Chase were nowhere to be found, but Cuddy had seen Cameron leave the party followed by a worried Chase. Kutner was talking to one of the band members that had taken a break. House and Cuddy were standing alone, taking it all in.
"I've got some mistletoe in my pocket if you're interested. We could go back to your office…"
"Not until I've got my new desk in."
House smiled and brought Cuddy up to him for another light kiss, before watching the snow flurry mixing in with the lights of the Princeton Plainsboro Christmas party.End