Title: Strange Things
Category: Fluff, Future Fic
Spoilers: General spoilers from "Big Baby"
Warning: Pure, pointless fluff. Embarrassing, I know.
Disclaimers: Neither House, M.D. nor any of its characters belongs to me.
Summary: House and Rachel at Cuddy's wedding.
House watched as they danced past the table - the bride, in her long white gown, flowers in her hair, and her father.
"Cuddy looks beautiful," said Wilson, who was sitting next to him.
"Yeah," House said, for once having nothing cynical, demeaning, or crude to add. Wilson's observation was true. Although House privately thought Cuddy was always beautiful (he would never tell Wilson that), today, on her wedding day, she was even more so. It wasn't just the dress, the make-up, or the hair - he knew that it was happiness - real, genuine happiness - that gave her that extraordinary air.
Cuddy glanced at the groom, offering him a blinding smile; a funny, indescribable, but somehow familiar feeling settled in House's chest. Absently, his hand massaged his scarred leg.
Six-year-old Rachel suddenly appeared at House's side. She had been on her very best behavior throughout the entire ceremony and had successfully fulfilled the role of flower girl. House wondered if, excitement dwindling, she would now revert back to the trouble-making she-devil-in-training he knew her to be.
"How long are Mommy and Grandpa going to dance?" Rachel asked.
"Impatient, runt?" House said.
"Only for a few more minutes," Wilson reassured her, worried that she was bored. (Perhaps it was her constant contact with House that made a bored Rachel a dangerous Rachel.) Her response, however, surprised both men.
"How come I don't get to dance?" Rachel said.
"Do you want to dance?" Wilson said, and Rachel nodded.
"Who would you dance with?" House inquired.
"Grandma said this dance is for daddies and their daughters. So I want to dance with my daddy," Rachel reasoned.
"That does make sense," Wilson said.
"Too bad, runt," House said. "Your new daddy's tired. Your mom wore him out."
Sensing (from experience) the beginning of a potentially messy situation, House said, "How about dancing with your Uncle Jimmy instead?"
"Sure, Rachel-" Wilson began, happy to help, but stopped at the mutinous look on Rachel's face.
"Not Uncle Jimmy," Rachel said, clearly displeased with the suggested stand-in. She fixed House with her most intense stare - House recognized it, having been on the receiving end of it countless times. It was, after all, Cuddy's stare. "I want to dance with you," Rachel said, voice determined, as though that demand were perfectly reasonable.
"No can do," House replied immediately.
"You're too short. I don't dance with midgets."
Rachel, even at six already used to House's sense of humor, let the insult slide. "Please?" She gave him her best pleading look, the one she had swiped from Cameron.
"Pretty please with sugar on top?" Rachel insisted, now using the puppy-dog eyes she had learned from Kutner.
"Is that real sugar? You can't try to bribe me with the fake crap, you know."
Wilson watched the exchange, amused. "Just dance with her, House."
"You're on her side now?"
Changing tactics, Rachel said, "Mommy will yell at you if you don't."
House wanted to say he wasn't scared of Cuddy (a lie), but the identical looks on Wilson's and Rachel's faces (yes, Rachel could imitate Wilson, too) shut him up. Besides, as embarrassing as it was to admit (which is why he never had), House almost always gave in to Rachel. Eventually, anyway. It sucked for his image and tarnished his rep, but there was just something about the little brat he couldn't say no to.
"Fine," House conceded, grudgingly. "One dance."
Rachel gave House a brilliant smile that was all her own. She tugged on his hand.
"Duh," Rachel said, and House was thankful Cuddy wasn't around to hear that word come from her daughter's mouth.
House could feel everyone's eyes on them as Rachel led him, caneless, to the dance floor. He had to bend over in order to hold Rachel's hands, which she gave to him gravely. Though House was not sure he'd call what they were doing "dancing," more swaying from side to side, with a few spins every now and then, Rachel seemed happy.
House looked up to see Cuddy watching them, smiling and looking suspiciously close to tears. He shifted his gaze away, uncomfortable. Women, he thought. Show a little kindness to a kid, and they got all weepy.
Still, he never could have predicted, six years ago, standing at Cuddy's side as they stared into the face of a tiny, nameless, drooling creature, that one day he'd be dancing (sort of) with said creature at Cuddy's wedding. Time did strange things to people.
The song ended, pulling House from his thoughts. At the center of the floor, Cuddy received a kiss on the cheek from her father. Rachel, seeing this, looked up at House expectantly.
"You've got to be kidding," House said.
Rachel's face was perfectly serious, earnestly hopeful. House sighed; he really did care for the little spawn, as aggravating as that was, and the little spawn's mother would most definitely kick his ass if he made her cry. Feeling like a total softie, but not able to completely hate himself for it, he stooped to quickly kiss Rachel on her cheek.
"There," House said, affecting annoyance. "Happy, runt?"
Rachel beamed and launched herself recklessly at his legs. "I love you."
"Hey! No hugging!" House protested as she clung to him.
Cuddy approached them. "That was very sweet, House," she said, smiling, looking more beautiful up close.
"You mean mortifying," House corrected. "She's your kid, so I expect you to fully compensate me for the public humiliation I had to endure."
"Oh, poor baby," Cuddy mocked, her eyes very bright. "How's this for compensation?" She leaned over Rachel and kissed him on the lips. Gentle, at first, and then not. To House's delight, she tasted like champagne and chocolate cake.
"Damn, Cuddy," House breathed when the kiss ended.
"Daddy!" Rachel sounded scandalized.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Bad word, little ears, blah blah blah." House patted Rachel on the head. "Now scram, your dad's gotta dance with Grandma now."
"Come on, sweetie," Cuddy said conspiratorially to Rachel, taking her daughter's hand as they moved off the dance floor. "Uncle Jimmy will help us think up ways of punishing Daddy for his dirty mouth."
"There better be handcuffs involved!" House called after them, as usual not caring whether anyone else heard.
Cuddy only threw him a coy, white smile over her shoulder. That funny, indescribable feeling from earlier hit him again. This time, however, he thought he recognized it.