Disclaimer: I don't House. Never have, never will.
Cuddy was sitting at her desk working out her schedule when the lights went out.
"Damn it," she muttered. She had hoped that the storm wasn't that bad, but obviously, it was. The back-up generators would kick in soon enough, she knew, but power wouldn't come to the clinic.
Once her vision adjusted, she got up. Cuddy was intent on rounding up the doctors and nurses who could be put to better use and settling what chaos might have erupted.
She stepped out into the clinic and was pleasantly surprised to find no one screaming in terror just because it was dark. She heard Nurse Brenda barking out orders. So, this was her doing. Not a surprise really. Brenda was a great nurse, if a little scary.
Now, which doctors were on duty today? Sanders from Cardiology, someone whose name Cuddy couldn't quite remember, and…House.
Figures, she thought and ground a tooth or two. House would probably make up some excuse, say he's afraid of the dark or something, just so he wouldn't have to help out. If he was even in the clinic.
Still, worth a try. She opened the door to Exam Room One and heard nothing but a gentle snoring. Great, House had gone asleep.
"House," Cuddy almost yelled, her frustration plainly evident. She didn't hear any sounds of waking but she really didn't expect to. She stretched out her hand and walked forward until she felt what she guessed was his back. She slid her hand up until she was grasping his shoulder.
"House," she said again and shook him. He didn't do anything but roll over a little more.
She sighed loudly. "Fine. If you want it that way," she growled. She felt around some more and stopped when she felt the edge of the sink. She found that right handle and pulled. She cupped her hands and filled it with cold water. She shut off the water with her elbow, walked in the direction where the examination table was, and stopped when her knee hit it. Grinning evilly, she thought to herself, This is going to be fun. She placed her hands above where she was guessing his face was and let go.
Fortunately, House woke up. Unfortunately, he woke up with quite a start which was bad when you were sleeping on the edge.
"Oh shit," Cuddy cursed. She didn't expect such a violent reaction from him. She kneeled down beside him and placed a hand on his side. She heard short, frantic breaths and smothered sobs coming from him. She could feel him trembling and sweating underneath her hand. He was trying to escape from her touch but the table stopped him.
"House," she says, desperately trying to get through to him. He seemed completely unaware that it was her. The trembling and sobs got worse.
"I need some help in here!" she called, hoping someone would hear her. Something was definitely wrong.
House was having a nightmare. It was of his childhood and, more specifically, his father. This wasn't uncommon for him. However, he hadn't had one this vivid and horrible in months.
He dreamt he was nine years old. He was sitting in the middle of his room, waiting. Waiting for his imminent punishment. He heard footsteps behind him and felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.
"Let's go boy," his father growled. He lifted his hand off of House's shoulder which jostled him some. House almost let out a whimper but he knew that would only make it worse. He knew what was coming.
When House woke up he was immediately aware of the cold, darkness, water, and pain. What he wasn't aware of was that he wasn't a nine year old boy whose father was about to hurt him. He was still trapped in his nightmare.
Through the fog his mind had created, he felt the cold, hard floor underneath. He figured he must have passed out and his father must have dragged him out of his ice bath.
He curled up instinctively, trying to protect himself from whatever blows may come. The movement made him realize that most of his pain was coming from his right leg which, he was lying on top of. Before he could figure it out, he felt a hand on his side. He tried to scoot backwards, away from the touch, but there was something stopping him. Before he could stop himself, he let out a half-strangled sob. He tried to curl up even more but it hurt.
Once a wave of pain had passed, he heard someone saying his name. He suppressed a whimper and then dimly heard the voice calling out for help. Help? That didn't make sense.
He had almost put the pieces of the puzzle together when he felt more hands. This increased his panic and his thoughts were scattered again. There was still something nagging in the back of his mind but he's too frightened to pay much attention to it.
He saw a flash a light and, a few seconds later, a prick on his leg. He cried out even though it didn't hurt that much. Any extra stimuli and he'd fall off the edge.
He suddenly felt a calming sensation sweep through him and within a few moments, he passed out.
Nurse Brenda removed the needle from House's leg and stood back up. House had finally gone under. Cuddy let out a breath.
"Thank you," Cuddy told her more calmly than she felt. She squinted when the beam of Brenda's emergency flashlight hit her eyes before moving on to light up the unconscious figure on the floor. He was in bad shape. Still trembling a little and taking halting, shallow breaths.
"What was that?" Brenda questioned. She knew what it was, she just wanted to know what set it off.
"Panic attack. I woke him up, he fell, and must not have known he was awake. I would have just rode it out with him but the way he was trashing about, he could have really hurt himself," Cuddy said quietly .
"Uh-huh. Do you know why it happened?" Brenda needled.
"No. It might have been the darkness, though I doubt that. I did splash some water on his face. That might have something to do with it," Cuddy mused out loud.
"What happened?" a voice behind them said. Brenda whipped around. Her flashlight revealed a small crowd had gathered with Sanders at the front.
"Panic attack. We've got it under control," Cuddy said, irritated. Took him long enough. Not much he could have done, but she needed her doctors to be fast.
Cuddy moved a little to conceal what of House she could. If she could help it, she would try to keep his identity a secret.
When they didn't seem to be leaving she said, "I believe there are other people you could be helping, Dr. Sanders."
He looked reluctant to go, but he turned to leave along with the rest of the crowd. Cuddy turned to Brenda.
"Brenda, could you…" she gestured vaguely at the departing group.
"Sure thing Dr. Cuddy." she answered and handed Cuddy the flashlight. With one last glance at House, she went to go organize all the people in the clinic, closing the door behind her.
Cuddy tried to make herself as comfortable as she could on the floor. She turned the flashlight on House. The tremors had almost completely disappeared and he was now taking in deeper breaths. It seemed the worse was over now.
"What happened, House?" she whispered. As she predicted, he had no response. She doubted she would have gotten a real answer even if he was awake.
After a few minutes of just watching and waiting, the lights turn back on. Cuddy breathes a sigh of relief. At least the hospital hadn't crumbled to pieces and they had power now. She clicked off the flashlight and continued to watch House, like she always does. All that was left was for him to wake up.
House woke up from a dreamless state. He remembered he had nightmare before but that had passed on before it got too bad. It took him a while, but he was suddenly aware of the blinding pain that was his right thigh. He grabbed it and tried to ease away the pain. After it had dimmed a little, he let his head drop to the side and was surprised to see Cuddy sitting up against the door staring back at him.
"That's a little creepy, you know," he got out before wondering why she was sitting there and why he was lying on the exam room floor, currently in agony.
Cuddy let one corner of her mouth tug upward before letting it fall again. "Do…do you remember what happened?" she asked tentatively.
House screwed up his face in confusion. What had happened? All that he could figure out was that he fell off the exam table. Hmm. She must have somehow pushed him off and was now feeling guilty. He couldn't imagine why or how but that would account for her anxiety. He didn't see how that would affect his memory. Must have hit head hard. Didn't feel that bad though.
"Must have fallen off the table," he says once he had worked what he could out.
"Yes, you did," she says slowly, " but you don't remember the, uh, panic attack?"
Now House was really confused. He hasn't had a panic attack before and he couldn't think of why he would now. All he had had was a nightmare but she wouldn't know about that.
Cuddy easily picked up on his bewilderment. "The power cut off and I came to get you so you could help those who needed it. You wouldn't wake up so I dumped some water on your face. You woke up with a start and fell off the exam table. I knelt down beside and saw you were having a panic attack so I called for help and Nurse Brenda gave you a sedative," she explained. She looked House in the eyes and asked, "What caused this?" She was determined to get a straight answer from him.
House shook his head. "I was having a nightmare but I can't remember what about."
"House," she said forcefully. He dropped his gaze and appeared to be thinking about something. She sighed. Obviously, she wasn't going to get much out of him and she didn't really want to push him too far, given what had happened.
"Gave us quite a scare," she said after a pause, trying to get him to talk.
"Yeah, well, I'm pretty sure my attack was a reaction to the clinic. I shouldn't come here anymore," House replied.
Cuddy snorted but didn't come up with a retort. After a moment spent lost in her thoughts, she pushed herself off the ground and held a hand out to House, praying he would take it. Thankfully, he did and grimaced when he got steady. Cuddy handed him his cane.
"You okay?" she asked even though she knew he would hate it.
"I'll be fine," he told her.
She nodded and said, "You can take the rest of the day off. Only about an hour left for the clinic anyway. If this is going to be a problem, you need to tell me." Back to business as usual.
"I'll be fine," he said again.
Cuddy gave him a skeptical look before turning to leave. His voice stopped her when her hand was on the doorknob.
"Cuddy, my nightmare was of my father," House almost whispered.
Cuddy did her best to conceal her shock and was pretty sure she pulled it off.
"Just don't go waking me with cold water anymore. At least now I have an excuse to sleep in the clinic," he said, obviously trying to make his voice light.
Cuddy gave him a sad smile. "Don't count on it," she said and went off to get lost in her thoughts, leaving House there to try and escape his.