Chapter 18

10th of December.

That's what the date was today. Barely the start of the second week of the month. Yet, the hospital – and New Jersey in general – was already imbued with holiday cheer. Only minutes ago, a fat guy in a red suit had hollered at Alex and scared the living daylights out of her. That's why she peeked around the next corner before rounding it, coffee cup firmly in hand.

An interesting kind of paranoia had overtaken her, one could say.

Though, all in all, she didn't mind the 'Santaphobia.' She actually liked the vibe it brought with it. See, while some people frowned at the early colourful decorations and wrinkled their noses at the nurses in red hats, she found something in it to enjoy. Something that made her happy and entertained her.

Current something being her good colleague Lawrence Kutner.

She came to a halt by the door to House's office, a large grin slowly appearing on her face. Having been gone for a few minutesto refill her coffee cup, she was glad to see that nothing had changed in the meanwhile. Kutner was still completely lost, covered in tinsel and bouncing up and down.

She didn't even bother trying to hide her grin as she sipped her coffee. Here she was, surveying a man, who had an amazing power to decorate and look like a rabid squirrel at the same time.

Remaining serious was impossible.

Overall, as far as the last few days went, events connected to decorations had sort of been the highlights of her days. There had been no cases that interested House. No interesting cases for him led to a lot of loitering for Alex. Loitering made the woman feel bored.

And while she and Kutner had brilliantly come to a conclusion that loitering together was slightly less boring, she still had some free time on her hands. Free time which she spent in three different ways: just hanging around pointlessly, the E.R and decorating – or watching others do it.

Yesterday, her idea had originally been to spend time in the E.R. Since House had been looking for someone with nothing useful to do, she had basically fled there as fast as she could.

Only, for some mysterious reason, there wasn't anything to really do there either. So once Taub had been given the paperwork, she had left, afraid Cameron would kick her out for trying to steal someone else's patient out of boredom.

It had happened before. By an accident.

Well… that's what Alex insisted on, anyways.

After leaving the E.R, Alex had ran into a group of nurses, who were doing their best to hang up some mistletoe. She, being pretty tall, managed to be useful there. So she spent ten minutes helping them place the little green nuisances and another ten making sure she could avoid them at all costs. Planning to return to House's office, she had then gone through the lobby.

Which is where she had found a rather large gathering of the hospital's employees. All huddled around the nurse's station, keeping an eye on what was going on by the Christmas tree they had brought in that day. She had joined them without hesitation, because she was a) bored and b) friggin' curious.

She had leant onto the counter, brows furrowed, and loudly wondered why no-one taller could help the poor guy in the corner. The poor guy being a scrawny and short orderly, standing on a small step-ladder, trying his damn hardest to hang a little shiny star on top of the enormous tree.

Chase had been the one to lean closer and shed light to the situation.

"It's tradition; happens every year." The blonde had grinned crookedly. "We have a betting pool going on about how long it'll take to get the star on top of it."

They had never found out what the 'scrawny lad' like Chase referred to him as, could actually do, because by the time Alex got settled in with the others, someone else had also noticed the unusual gathering. All good things must come to an end, they say. And this one was ended by none other than the Dean of Medicine herself.

Cuddy had casually passed through the lobby, when she noticed the large amount of people. Then, one glance at the corner later, she had merely sighed, and spoken,

"For god's sake, not again."

And before most people could even register her presence, she had ushered the tiny orderly away and climbed onto the top herself, securing the star as if she did it every year. Alex had later found out that she actually did and the betting pool was mostly meant for guessing when Cuddy would intervene. After having made two nurses a little richer, Cuddy had climbed down, looked at them and ordered them to go and do something useful.

For Alex, that meant loitering and being bored out of her mind.

But today, boredom didn't seem so likely. Not only had House told them they had a case, but Kutner was here to make sure she would not even think about being bored, by entertaining her far more than she thought humanly possible this early in the morning.

The man had been rather disappointed when he had arrived here yesterday just to realize that the office spaces had not been decorated like the rest of the hospital. And it would seem that today, he was trying to make up for it by as good as drowning the place in cheesy holiday decoration. Cursing on random intervals as he stood on his tippy toes on one of the chairs, trying so hard to make the tinsel actually stay on the lamp, he was just what Alex needed to enjoy her second cup of coffee even more than usual.

"What is he doing?"

Alex grinned, sipping her drink.

"Bringing holiday cheer to us all."

Kutner heard that and aimed a frown towards his two colleagues by the doorway.

"You could help, you know?"

Alex shook her head just like she had when Kutner had first asked her. She was sure House would eventually mock the Indian for it and she just didn't feel like sharing that kind of joy with the guy today.

Foreman however simply looked at Kutner. A second later the Indian rolled his eyes and turned away. Reaching into the bag behind him, he pulled out a large stuffed Santa and admired it for just a moment. Then he casually placed it onto a shelf nearby.

Alex's grin widened when it fell down a moment later thanks to its big red and quite round behind. Kutner frowned, picked it up from the ground and shoved it back onto the shelf. He had barely turned, when it fell again.

"Are you kidding me?" The man spoke, evidentially to the Santa on the ground as he picked it up and stared at it. "Stay!"

Kutner then turned his menacing glare towards the shelves. Suddenly his expression changed. Brightened somehow. Alex kind of wished she had one of those portable light bulbs, because this would've been a perfect moment to use it. The man, showing the vast knowledge of physics he had acquired in all of his years in school, took the toy, shifted the books on the shelf into two piles and then shoved the Santa between them.


He turned towards them and Alex lifted her cup in a silent toast, letting her eyes wonder. It seemed that the guy was done. His bag, which he had claimed was full of holiday spirit earlier, lay on the table, looking empty. The office though looked like good ol' Holiday Spirit had gone and puked on it.

"So, what do you think?" His eager voice made her eyes flutter back to him. She opened her mouth to reply, brutal honesty seeming like the best solution, but didn't get to speak as a certain man brushed past her.

Finally deeming the room safe to move into, Foreman went past both of the doctors in silence. He proceeded to take a seat at the farther end of the table like he was used to and only then, after he had leant back in his chair and placed one of his hands on the table, he spoke, carelessly.

"It's not horrible."

Kutner's face fell at the praiseless reply.

"Okay, no candy canes for you," he responded snidely a second later, protectively clutching closer his last detail of the decor – a jar full of candy canes – as he turned towards Alex instead. "Thirteen?"

Alex, more than slightly annoyed by Foreman, decided telling the truth wasn't actually all that important. Besides, the guy had risked his own safety and health, while bringing her such joy. The least she could do was to return the favour.

"I... I like it," she spoke, seriously, nodding a little. "T'is the season."

When she looked back at the guy, Kutner was staring at her. The look on his face was just a tad bit creepy at first, but it kept getting creepier by every second he didn't blink. After a few long moments Alex seriously considered smacking him; just to see if he would react in any humane sort of way. However, a small grin appeared on Kutner's face then, widening a little as he held out his colourful jar towards her.

"Here," his brown eyes reminded her of a small puppy. "Have one of my candy canes. They're really yummy."

Alex blinked at the guy in silence, at first not moving a single move that would indicate her accepting his offer. However, when the man lifted up the jar, almost shoving her face in it, she finally gave him a small smile in return and pulled one out of the jar.

"Uh, thanks?"

"No problem," Kutner placed the rest of them onto the table. "You think House will be here soon?"

Alex shrugged, rolling the small candy cane between her fingers.

"Probably not," she spoke. "He's not even ten minutes late yet." She looked between the men, both of whom looked like they agreed with that statement. "So, I'm just gonna go, see what's holding Taub up in the lab. Be right back."

She casually discarded her now empty coffee cup on her way to the door, when she heard a small slapping sound.

"No! Don't touch those. You don't get to eat my candy canes, 'cause you're on my naughty list for mocking my hard work."

"I didn't even say much!"


Alex smirked to herself, as she departed from the office. Even the distant thought of Foreman doing anything naughty seemed ridiculous. And just to prevent her brain from reaching a point, where she would imagine Foreman do something naughty – and most likely scar herself for the rest of her natural life – she concentrated on something else.

Namely, the candy cane in her hand.

She really couldn't remember the last time she had had one of those. Or what one tasted like. She stared at it.

To suck or not to suck.

That was indeed the question.

After all, as a doctor, a new one here after all, it was hardly appropriate for her to paddle around sucking on a piece of candy. On the other hand though, she really wanted to know what that thing tasted like. Almost by the elevator now, she made up her mind, wrapping her lips around the end of the candy.

Sweet mother of elephants.

She did not recall this thing being so awesomely delicious. Making a mental note to suck up just a tad to Kutner later, she pressed the button of the elevator, without removing the candy from her mouth. The doors opened a second later and she leant against the wall, letting the young men pass her, as she enjoyed her holiday treat. One of the men grinned at her, another one winked.

She didn't give a damn.

With how this thing tasted, there was nothing in the world that would make her stop. All innuendos be damned.

She entered the elevator, pressed the little pad with one on it and casually stepped towards the back of the elevator. Experience had thought her that around this time most of the oncology department ran in here. Experience of being ran into had made her smarter. So now she cautiously waited by the very back, nibbling on the candy and keeping her eyes on the doors that were sliding open.

The first face she found herself staring at definitely didn't belong to oncology.

Oh crap.


Marissa didn't say anything.

Not a word.

She had just entered, pushed the button and then stood as far away from the doctor as physically possible. In silence. Without as much as a hello.

Not that Alex minded. Not that she even cared. It wasn't like she had hid her candy the moment she noticed the other woman looking at her. She definitely hadn't opened her mouth at least ten times by now, each time intending to say anything. She didn't feel awkward at all and she absolutely was not planning to murder the oncology guys for not being here to act as a physical block between her and Marissa.

She glanced at the tall brunette, quickly glancing away again as soon as she seemed to take notice of her gaze. Instead, she now looked at the interesting doors in front of her, trying hard to ignore the fact that Marissa smelled really friggin' good.

She exhaled louder than she had meant to and felt her heart skip a beat, when Marissa's head tilted towards her.

She hoped she would say something.

She didn't.

Her gaze hardened on the elevator doors when they passed floor 2. Unluckily for them, nobody had wanted to hitch a ride from there, leaving them by themselves. Her foot tapped against the floor on its own accord. She was so going to have to talk to someone about speeding these things up. Really, how long could it take to pass two friggin' floors?

Once again, she sensed Marissa's eyes on her. Realizing that she was still tapping her foot, looking like a nervous fool, she stopped. To be honest, up until now, she had never really understood how a silence can be deafening. She was learning now.

Marissa shifted her weight.

Immediately, Alex's head snapped towards her companion. Marissa glanced right back at her.

And then the doors opened.

Marissa was out of the elevator, before Alex even had a chance to push herself off the wall. She followed the path of the younger woman, slowly, a small pang of guilt bothering her. They couldn't even be in the same room with each other.

That was a relatively new thing for the two of them. And honestly, Alex didn't like it. She casually eyed the brunette, who stopped by the nurses' station, as she weighed her options. All of them were pretty crappy. The most obvious one, talking things out, was pretty much out of the picture. She was sure she wouldn't be able to pull it off.

It's not like she had nothing to say. She had plenty of things she would like to say, but Marissa... Well, in face-to-face encounters, Marissa seemed to overpower her sometimes. And while usually Alex was completely okay with it, often even enjoying the whole overpowering thing in... many, many ways, it was sometimes a lot to handle. The girl had always had a way to mess with her head; to make her think and say things she really shouldn't think and say. Thus, remembering the things she wanted to discuss, could become an issue.

Personally, Alex blamed the eyes. Seriously, who needs eyes that are so large and so damn green?

Stupid eyes.

Deep in thought, Alex didn't notice a leather clad guy heading her way, until he bumped into her. She struggled to keep her footing, annoyed when the guy just kept going without even as much as a sorry, still glued onto his cell phone.


It's official. She truly should Google portable light bulbs and order herself one. Moments like these practically required one. Besides, if she would follow House around with it, she would probably have the chance to light it up at least once per week. It would totally be worth the investment.

Back to the subject, though.

A cell phone.

That was the dominating word in her light bulb moment. She fished out her own and quickly typed, keeping an eye on the striking brunette still at the nurses' station. When she finished, she pressed send and casually picked up a random chart by the door nearby, trying to blend into the bustling hospital life going on around her. She sneakily peeked over the edge of it, to see what Marissa would do.

After she heard the soft beep in the pocket of her jeans, Marissa excused herself from a conversation she had been having with one of the nurses and took out her phone. Immediately her eyes fell onto the unexpected name on her screen. She turned around, and of course, found Alex trying to stealthily hide from her view with a clipboard in front of her face. Curious now, she opened the message and read it. Twice, just to make sure this was real.

Alex saw the expression on her face and immediately knew that she should smack her brain somehow for thinking that this would be a good idea. The narrowed eyes and clenched jaw, which she could even see from here, did not promise anything she would enjoy. She was ready to do the next thing on her list of ways to handle this – namely flee – when her own phone beeped. As soon as she noticed Marissa still holding her own phone, her stomach flip-flopped.

She fished the phone out of her coat pocket and read the message.


She placed the chart back in its holder, before she could actually smack herself with it like she had planned. So much for her brilliant idea. Smothering her first instinct to flee anyways, she pocketed her left hand, her candy still in her right, lowered her head and wordlessly followed Marissa through the lobby and into a hallway.

She wasn't sure how Marissa knew which room was empty, but there they were a minute later. An empty on-call room; her by the doorway, Marissa by the bed nearby. And she did not look happy.

"A text message, Alex?"

The doctor softly shrugged her shoulders, glancing around the small room.

"It's early, I've had too much coffee. Wasn't really thinking all that straight," she murmured, before briefly skimming her eyes over the other woman. "You kinda have that effect on me."

A shadow of a smile almost appeared on Marissa's face before she wrapped her arms around herself, placing her weight on the bunk bed nearby. Then, quietly, she asked,

"What are you sorry about anyways?"

Alex's eyes closed for a moment. Damn it. This is why she didn't want to do this. What was the correct answer here? Especially considering she wasn't all so sure about what she had done wrong or what she should've done differently. Unable to come up with anything, she went with a classic.


Marissa's face softened, before she shook her head at the doctor, almost sadly.

"It's not like you have anything to be sorry for. It - it wasn't a big deal."

"It wasn't?"

"Was it?"

Alex found herself looking at those damn green eyes and she averted her gaze to the wall nearby. Stupid eyes. She thought about a reply that wouldn't make her sound crazy, obsessive or a bitch, but never got the chance to use it.

"Listen, I have to meet a client," Marissa had already interpreted the loss of eye contact her own way. She cleared her throat. "And I have to ask you for a favour. You might be seeing me in a ... kind of formal setting later today and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't look at me. I mean, you can look at me but not the way you looked at me in the elevator."

And here Alex had thought she had peeked all sneakishly. However...

"What way?"

Marissa's reaction was visible. Her eyelids fluttered, her gaze was averted. She seemed almost embarrassed, a tad bit shy even with her lip between her teeth. When she peered back at Alex, her answer was a quiet one.

"Like you've seen me naked. Often."

Of course, Alex being the charming woman she was – someone who just knew her way around the ladies – she had a dazzling reply.


Marissa swallowed and straightened up, smoothing out the non-existent wrinkles on her jeans.

"Yeah, so, I'm just going to go see if the client is here and ... yeah."

She stepped towards the door, hoping that the other woman would understand and step away. However, Alex didn't move.

"Hold on," the doctor frowned at her instead, keeping her casual stance and blocking the door. "If a client is meeting you here and you might be seeing me later..." Her blue eyes narrowed, suspicious. "Are you suing this hospital now?"

Marissa, admirably, didn't waver under the surprisingly strong gaze directed at her, as she responded.



This made the lawyer raise an eyebrow.

"Why do lawyers sue people?"

"No. Why are you suing House?" Alex crossed her hands across her chest and her brows furrowed softly. Her stance seemed to agitate the taller brunette in front of her, as Marissa shifted her weight. "I thought you didn't have any cases."

"It's a recent development."

"How recent?"

"Okay. Enough," Marissa's tone had gained an edge as well. "I don't know what kind of a weird 20-questions game you want to play, but I really have to go and meet someone, so if you don't mind moving..."

She gestured towards the handle which she could not get to unless she was willing to press herself completely against the doctor and try to reach it from behind her back. And being in that kind of position with Alex Kelly was not something she was sure she could handle right now.

"Yeah, in a second," Alex's tongue slid over her lips and, secretly, she found pleasure in the way Marissa's eyes darted to them. All sort of ideas popped into her mind. After all, they were in an empty on-call room with beds, but before she could even entertain the idea of trying something, she really had to know this. "Just... does it have anything to do with us?"

Almost immediately she regretted it.

The atmosphere in the room changed. While a second ago, Alex thought she might actually be able to kiss Marissa and get away with it, then now she was worried about even saying something. The lawyer's face had gone from a little bit flustered to completely emotionless in less than a tenth of a second. The way her gaze, now cold, searched her face made her want to just hit some sort of magical rewind button.

"Really?" Marissa couldn't almost believe this. That one button, her ability as a lawyer, was something nobody should press. "That's something you think I would do?"

The doctor shook her head even before she realized she was doing it.

"That's not what I meant."

"Yes it is." Marissa's tone got icier. "You actually expect me to sue your boss as a personal vendetta. What? Is that something your other one-night-stands do?"


"Just because I come from a wealthy family and because I wasn't all that studious when I was in high school, doesn't mean I'm not a good lawyer now, Alex. That I didn't work for this. You'd think you would get that." She breathed, before sliding a hand over her hair, agitated. "And I'd never just... because..."

Suddenly her posture changed. Her hand dropped, her gaze locked on Alex and she spoke,

"Because that thing didn't mean anything."

She was lying. She had to be.

"Don't lie to me."

"I'm not," something akin to challenge shone in those green eyes, now lit up with anger. "It was no big deal. Nothing special." She squared her jaw, looking at the spot she imagined the door handle to be. "Now, could you get out of my way?"

"That's what you're going to go with," Alex complete disregarded her request, stepping a little bit closer to the brunette, without leaving an opening for the door. "Then what was it, huh?"

"It was just sex."

She herself had spoken those countless of times. She knew those words inside and out, they were practically her motto lately. And yet hearing them from Marissa right now made her want to both hit the girl and fuck her against the wall.

She didn't even really think about it, before she walked and pushed the other girl against the bunk bed nearby. Her leg slid between those of Marissa's, her grip strong on her waist. Their breathing, which was already a little heavy because of their anger, got just a little bit heavier.

"Really?" Her jaw clenched. She was getting worked up with this. She always did with this woman. Marissa just had to go and make her do stupid things. "So what the two of us did, you do with everyone?"


Marissa's soft warning did nothing to make her feel calmer; on the contrary the husky tone made her shift closer to the girl. If this is what she was going to play at, she could join in.

"So what we did on the table," her hand slowly slid on the lawyer's hip, fingering the waistband. "The way you writhed and moaned. It wasn't anything special for you?"

"Don't." But the earlier look of defiance was beginning to fade and the tone wasn't so certain anymore. Alex smirked at the response. It would seem Marissa wasn't the only one able to rile the other up in this relationship.

"Why? It's no big, right? As a matter of fact, according to you, I could fuck you right here and now, and it wouldn't mean a thing." A flush spread across the lawyer's face, as she begun to grasp the situation. Alex's fingers found the button on her jeans, as she added. "It's just sex."

She didn't get to open the button however, as two slender – but surprisingly strong – hands pushed her away.

"Fuck you."

"I was aiming for that, yes."

Joking didn't seem to be a good approach however, as Marissa's face hardened. She grabbed her purse, tugged down her top and spoke again,

"Seriously. Fuck you."

And then she left.

Alex didn't even try to stop her. Marissa Cooper was something she just couldn't seem to hold on to and once again, she wasn't sure why.

Her eyes landed on the piece of candy she had dropped when she had decided to assault her ex-girlfriend. Yet another thing she has lost.

Then again, she wasn't in the mood for sucking anything anymore.


A/N – So how about that drama? I can even ruin Christmas. *Sigh* I'm ashamed too. Oh and guys, especially the ones reviewing today/yesterday – totally dedicate this to you. Sometimes I just really need that kick in the backside to get me to it ^^

Thanks, for real,