A/N: This is my second Huddy fic and I'm attempting to do a chapter thing out of it. Feedback and constructive criticism welcomed.
Synopsis: Centers around the origin of the Huddy desk. Starts during "Painless" and goes from there.
Having grown bored of waiting for her in his own office, House now waited impatiently for her in her office. He had called her over two hours ago, and her response had been short, to the point, and completely unfocused.
This was not her. Not the Dr. Lisa Cuddy he knew.
He leaned back against her new old desk, a gnawing sense of memory pestering him as he felt the solid oak wood beneath his fingers.
* * *
"I can't do this!" Lisa attempted to the throw the heavy textbook across the Shapiro Science Library, failing quit pitifully as it smacked her study desk in an anticlimactic thud.
"Don't worry. I'm sure I can find a position for you somewhere."
She didn't even look up as she heard the familiar voice. She had had a massive crush on him until he actually spoke to her at an Alpha Phi mixer he crashed on a rainy October evening. From that night on, they hadn't been able to have a conversation that didn't immediately morph into the verbal equivalent of a fist fight. "Go away, House."
"I thought you wanted my brilliance?" He waggled his eyebrows and finagled the book from her hands. "Organic chemistry? This stuff is basic, Lisa."
"Don't you have something to do? Cadavers to cut instead of me?" She looked at him pointedly.
He grinned at her. She was cute when she tried to be bossy and assertive. "Get your things. Come on."
"I have to study—" But he had already swept her books and papers up and was well on his way to the exit.
"You're not doing anything but slaying yourself with fear and idiotic guilt," he called over his shoulder. She sunk down in mortification as everyone in the library turned and looked at the infamous Gregory House, making another scene that unfortunately included her this time. "Get off your ass and come with me, you Debbie Sampson, you."
And there was nothing else to do but slink out of her chair, die of embarrassment, and follow him.
His apartment was different than the undergrad boys she dated. He had books everywhere—not just medical books, but books of travel, anthropology, world history, erotic novels. It was intimidating, to say the least. She considered herself a good student, but there was something exciting about being around a person who was brilliant, and much as her ego hated to admit it, someone who could teach her something.
Even if he was the biggest asshole she had ever met in her life.
"C'mere," House called from the opposite side of his living room.
But Cuddy stayed in place, her eyes glazing over his library collection. "You have so many books."
"Want to borrow one?" She nearly jumped as his snuck up behind her and whispered in her ear.
She jabbed him with her elbow, making him scoot back. But not forgetting his offer, "Really?"
"Sure. You'll die if you always have your snozz buried in science books." House grazed over his collection, his eyes twinkling as he spotted the perfect loan for her. "Here. Take this."
"The Delta of Venus," she read the title slowly. He waited for recognition; happily there wasn't any.
"You read it?" He asked nonchalantly.
She shook her head innocently.
"Good. I think it'll help you." He grinned devilishly.
"What does that mean?" She scooted around him, skimming through the pages as if she were more interested in it than her sparring partner.
He looked directly at her, smiling knowingly. "'And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.'"
Her arm dropped, the book forgotten, and she glared at him. "You can't just say what you mean, can you?"
"I could, but it's much more fun to watch you get all sparky."
"I do not spark."
"Then I guess you just like me." He grinned, waiting for her to blush or get offended, but she just stood there defiantly, her eyes searching his, trying to figure him out.
"I—" He cut her off before she could start another tirade.
"Sparky. It's okay. I can't teach you everything in a day." He grabbed her wrist and pulled her across the room. "Come on. Sit. Open your book."
She stepped around the mahogany desk, again awestruck by its handsomeness. It sat in solitude against a large window, the only bright spot in his moody apartment.
"This desk is awesome." She ran her hand against the wood, feeling her hand all the way to the chair.
"Lisa." His hands slapped down on the front of the desk. "Are we going to study or would you rather play house?"
"House." She grinned at him, sitting in his desk chair, propping her feet up on his desk.
"Fine. My mom gave it to me when I got into John Hopkins," he sighed, his hands circling her ankles and lifting them off the desk.
"It's beautiful," she said softly. She knew about him getting kicked out, but they had never really discussed the details of his expulsion. She always assumed it was something he almost took pride in, but in this moment, she knew that it was anything but pride that he felt.
"And lookee-here!" He dropped her feet to the ground and flipped open her organic chemistry book. "It's yours to borrow for the next 4 hours."
She crossed her arms, raising her eyebrows. "Fine. Let's go. Give me your best shot."
* * *
Five and a half hours later, they sat close beside each other, sunlight from the window gone, House's desk lamp casting shadows over notes and equations and formulas. House took a deep breath, his leg cramping under the desk. He had never studied this long or consistently…ever. But there was something fascinating about watching her grapple with each new problem, trying to find the answer, guessing, getting it right, getting it wrong. He had never seen anyone put so much effort into her work, especially a sophomore struggling with organic chemistry. Eighteen people in his class had dropped their pre-med major because of this class, but he didn't dare tell her. He couldn't decide if it was because she was so determined, or because he could see straight down her shirt from their close proximity.
He cleared his throat, realizing it was time to move on to the next problem. "The pKas of H2CO3 are 6.4 and 10.3. The pKa of HOBr is 8.7. If equimolar amounts of Na2CO3 and HOBr are dissolved in water what will be the predominant anionic species in the resulting solution?"
Dark curls fell in her eyes as she scribbled on her notebook. Her face was flushed, and he realized they had gone this entire time without eating anything. Just as he was about to suggest delivery, she placed her pencil down and passed the problem over to him for inspection. "Um….Check it….CO3-2 and 2 BrO-1…. Is that right?"
He looked at her pale skin and tired blue eyes. They had been doing this too long. He picked up her pencil, ready to order pizza and introduce her to his sofa. "Close, don't add here though… you need to….see? HCO3-1 and BrO-1 . Hydrogen stays. Make sense?"
She sighed and covered her eyes in frustration.
"Maybe I'm not meant to be a doctor." That's when it happened. House slapped her cheek hard; it wouldn't leave a mark, but it certainly made her wake up.
They stared at each other, both shocked out of their textbook lethargy.
"What—? House, you…you just hit me," she stated obviously, almost not believing it.
"I'll do it again too. Take it back," he growled at her. He was angry now. They had spent all evening studying. He had spent almost six hours pressed against her, initially he thought to score with the hot undergrad, but now he was just pissed off. She was better than this.
"I should go. I can't be around someone—" Tears sprang to her eyes, reacting instantly to the shock and hurt.
He dropped the pencil down and shut the book. "I never thought you'd be like everyone else. But if you can live with mediocrity, then you should go."
"I'm not like you, House," she admitted hoarsely, "I can't just read it once and know everything. Some of us have to study!"
"Then study it and read it twenty five times if you have to, damn it."
"You're a jerk." She grabbed the book and stood from the desk.
"Maybe, but I'm doing exactly what I want. Can you say the same, Lisa?" He asked, waiting. She hesitated only for a second before she ran out of his apartment.
"Go to hell."
He watched the door slam, knowing she would never be back.
House inhaled sharply as she barreled into the room, clearly put out with him. He met her angry eyes; she didn't want to be here, so he launched into his case, choosing to ignore her feelings. "I need to cut off a guy's head. I gotta figure out if his pains coming from brain or his body. A stiff shot of latican below the brain stem should numb him all the way down to his tippy-toes."
She turned around and walked straight out the way she came, stopping at the door. "And hearing me say no over the phone wasn't good enough?"
"I'm inconveniencing you because you inconvenience me," he threw her earlier words back in her face.
"You know that foster care official is coming in the morning."
"If there weren't, there would be no inconvenience." He couldn't help the bitterness in his words, but the way she was acting wasn't natural. It wasn't them.
"Do not try to force and me to choose between my child and—"
"I'm forcing you to do your job. If you can't also—" He cut her off before she could say it. They didn't have a relationship; they weren't an us. He just needed her to be here.
But she wasn't. And he had no idea how to get her back.
The knock was so tentative he almost didn't answer the door. But there she was, standing there, her white shirt and jean skirt now rumpled from the day. He peered into her uncertain eyes and knew his method of attack. "I thought you'd be halfway to Admissions by now. You'd be a great nurse, Lisa."
She shook her head, not prepared for what he had to say. "Wait a minute. First you slap me because I miss a problem—"
"That's not what happened—" He turned around, leading her back into his apartment.
"And then you tell me I'll be a great nurse? What were the last five hours about?" She dropped her bag and books on the floor. "I'm not sleeping with you, House."
"6 hours," he corrected, leaning against the desk.
"What?" She pushed a fallen curl out of her face.
"it was 6 hours, and when did I say anything about sleeping together?" He tilted his head, peering at her condescendingly, making her feel all of her nineteen years and not a day over.
She swallowed nervously, wondering if the idea was something that had ever had any basis or if it had just manifested itself from his reputation. "No."
"No." He reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her closer. She stared at their hands, felt the closing space between them. He had said no, but his hands clearly said yes.
"You don't say anything you mean," she said wisely, unknowing how right she was.
"Do you? Are you really quitting?" He asked quietly, slipping his fingers through her belt loops, holding her captive now.
She didn't know what do to with her hands. They were against his chest because of proximity, but she didn't know whether to move them or not. "I don't know," answering his and her questions.
"You'll be brilliant." Cuddy tore her eyes away from his shirt and looked into his eyes. She had no idea what he wanted. It could be the sweetest of lies or the brutal truth; she had no way of knowing. But standing there with him, with his own certainty, she knew she wanted to find out.
Her heels dropped to the floor as she stood up on her tippy-toes.
"Really think so?"
House nodded and pulled her between his legs.
"Liar." She grinned as their lips met slowly in a first kiss that lasted so long it took them twice as long to find her shoes when it was over.