A/N: This was SUPPOSED to be a Christmas present for Air Condition… however, needless to say, it is a very late present. That and my Beta hasn't gotten back to me on it...
I also must give credit to Scribere Est Agere for letting me copy her style of writing. (Though, I must admit, this story is nowhere near as good as hers.)
Disclaimer: I don't own it, but I am having an affair with Hugh Laurie. (even if it is only in my dreams…)
Apparently it had started snowing at some point that night, because by the time Cuddy was ready to head home – after visiting the baby, making an appearance at the annual holiday party, and finishing up a bit of last-minute paperwork – there was a thick, substantial layer of snow on the ground.
She isn't typically a clumsy person, but there's always a first time for everything, she realizes as she slips on a patch of ice and begins descent to the snow-laden ground. She suddenly has a wonderful view of the sky and falling snow as the ground greets the back of her head with a resounding smack!
Damn, she thinks as darkness starts to close in on her view of the heavens. But, on the bright side, she is outside of a hospital. Which means that somebody will find her, right? Right.
She had dreamed of him, of course. She thought of all throughout the day, so it was only natural that she dream of him, right? Anyway, she had dreamed of him and it had been oddly amazing.
They were back in his office, alone, and staring into one another's eyes in that way that they did.
"Everybody knows this is going somewhere," She tells him quietly, searching his eyes for what, she's not sure. "I think we're supposed to kiss now." But this time before he can say anything – before he can go and be an ass – she kisses him. This time, unlike the last though, is soft and slow. Which is strange really, because she hadn't been expecting something like this from him.
When they pull apart she's surprisingly breathless, and he pulls her to his chest in an uncharacteristic gesture of affection.
"I love you." He whispers, his warm breath tickling her ear. Then he leans down to kiss her again…
Naturally, her alarm had to pick this moment to jolt her out of her dream and back into reality; where House is still House, and could never bring himself to admit any such emotion as love.
He had wanted to leave earlier but Wilson had started talking to him and somehow managed to convince him to stay at the Christmas party for a while. Stupid idea.
The Christmas party meant unnecessary contact with other hospital employees and boring conversations about trivial matters that didn't concern him at all.
Needless to say, the only thing on his mind as he walked out of PPTH was getting the hell out of there as fast as a limping cripple in a snow storm possibly could.
At first she was just an unusual crumpled mass on the sidewalk, it was only when he got closer that he realized that the 'mass' was indeed none other than the Dean of Medicine.
She was flat on her back, apparently having tripped on the ice, with an almost surreal sort of halo of blood painting the snow around her head.
He fought back small wave of panic that washed over him, refusing to think about the possibility of having feelings for her; now was not the time. Besides, he was not in love with his boss. Never. No way. Not possible. It was a ridiculous thing to consider for even a moment. And yet…
There is a bright, white-ish glow behind her eyelids. She feels like she's floating, just her and the interesting contrast of cold air, and strangely warm, searing pain in her head.
"-omebody get out here and help me!" The voice seems sharp in her hazy consciousness. With considerable effort she slowly forces her eyes open, despite the intense flare of pain in her head.
Now she can identify the owner of the voice: House. Of all the people to find her.
She knows there must be something really wrong, because there is concern written across his face, and she can count on one hand the number of times she has seen that him look at someone anyone like that, let alone her.
Then there is a nurse beside him, and they're saying something, but she can't hear what since the audio connection between her and the outside world seems to be faulty.
Reinforcements must have come, because the next thing she knows she's being lifted up and placed onto what she assumes is a gurney, but she can't be sure because as soon as she starts moving, the pain in her head becomes blinding and she can feel herself slowly slipping back into unconsciousness.
When she opens her eyes she's surprised, because she would have expected him to be home already, starting his own miserable Christmas celebration complete with alcohol, piano, and television. But obviously not since he's here, right beside her bed in a highly unexpected reversal of roles that makes her heart beat faster and her head spin because it means that maybe, just maybe he actually cares.
"Hey." He says, having noticed that she's awake.
"Hey." She responds weakly, her lips suddenly dry.
"You have… a hairline skull fracture, a moderate concussion, and 3 stitches in the back of your head." He said, his monotonous tone making the issues seem like a common occurrence and, in a hospital, they were. In her life, not so much.
"Oh." What else can you really say to that?
"You can probably go home tonight provided you have someone at home with you." He says, but she's not sure why because they both know that she lives alone. "Otherwise, you'll have to stay here."
"Well then it looks like I'm stuck here for the night." She tries to sound somewhat optimistic, but it doesn't quite work out the way she planned.
"Nope, because I'm taking you home." She looks up at him but he just looks down at the cane that he's tapping against the floor, refusing to meet her eyes.
"R-really? Um, thanks…" She's not sure what to say because this is so unlike him that she wonders if maybe she's still unconscious and just dreaming all of this.
"Yeah. I'm gonna go get you discharged."
Her house is freezing! So he has to spend 5 minutes searching for the thermostat before finally giving up and asks her where it is. He turns the heat up to 65.
She's already in bed with her eyes closed and the covers pulled up to her neck. He wonders if she's asleep. His question is answered a second later when she opens her eyes.
"How do you feel?" He asks.
"Well, yeah. You did slam it into the pavement. Next time, try wearing a helmet."
"I was walking."
"So? Wear one anyway. Anything else?"
"Yeah, when I said 'anything else', what I really meant was 'anything else other than common side effects of nearly cracking your head open.'" He says, with a slight eye roll for effect.
"Oh. Well, other than the effects of the concussion, I'm fine."
"Well, at least you don't seem confused or disoriented."
"Why are you here?" She asks him from her bed.
"Huh. Maybe I spoke too soon on the confusion thing." He says with a thoughtful expression.
"No, I mean why are you doing this?" She clarifies.
"Because I was hoping for an opportunity to raid both your refrigerator and your underwear drawer." He answers with ease. She has a feeling that it's not the real reason, but she's suddenly really tired. Way too tired to bother wasting time attempting to drag an answer out of him.
"Hmm… 'm tired." She mumbles, her eyes sliding shut.
"That would be the concussion." A moment of silence ensues, and she thinks maybe he left the room.
"Yeah?" Apparently not.
"Thanks." They both know what she's thanking him for. Just before she falls asleep, she could swear that she hears him mutter a genuine 'You're welcome,' but she could have been mistaken.
Upon returning to wakefulness, she realizes with an eerie certainty that there is someone in her bed with her.
He's awake, and glances over at her as she stirs.
"What the hell are you doing here?!"
"Ah, I see the old Cuddy has returned."
"House, why are you in my bed?!"
"Well, usually when two people occupy a bed together it implies that –"
"No, I mean why are you in my bed? Because I know that you were definitely not here when I fell asleep last night."
"Is that your final answer?"
"House." She tried to muster up her most threatening voice, but it doesn't sound quite as good as she intends it to.
"Well, I sure as hell wasn't going to take the couch. Bad for my leg." He says, pointing to the extremity in question. "Plus I'm supposed to monitor you." He adds.
"How's your head?"
"Better." And it is. Much better.
"Good enough to make breakfast?" He inquires hopefully. She sighs again.
She winces as he shines a flashlight directly into her eyes, without warning. She tries to give him a withering glare, but fails miserably.
"I need to check your head." He tells her.
She stands patiently as he gently moves her hair to examine the stitches.
When she turns around, their proximity caused her breath to briefly catch in her throat. She finds herself frozen, locked to his eyes; searching for something – what, she doesn't know – almost afraid to make the first move. Fortunately he does it for her.
Somehow they end up back in her bed. It's awkward at first what with her being careful of his leg and him of her head, but eventually they let go and get caught up in just feeling as they gradually fell into slightly dysfunctional rhythm.
It was only when she was sure that he was asleep that she whispered those three words that she had felt for so long but had feared to voice.
"I love you."
The irony was that the one time she got up the nerve to say it; it was only to deaf ears.
Or so she thought.
He wasn't asleep. But he remained silent out of respect for her; because he knew his inability to echo the sentiment would only hurt her. Again. It seems he was good at that. However, just because he wasn't able to say it didn't mean that he did not feel it. He felt it; he just wasn't sure how he felt about feeling it. Which doesn't exactly make a whole lot of sense, then again, nothing ever does with him.
"I love you." He whispers in the dark toward her ceiling a week later. Cuddy's sleeping, so she doesn't hear it but that doesn't matter. All that matters is that he said it. And that means maybe someday he'll work up the nerve to say it to her face.