Rated T for now.

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Summary: Gregory House hates change, but when his life takes an abrupt and irrevocable turn into the unknown, someone has to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Chapter One: Morning Delight

House sat at his piano, clad in striped cloth pajama bottoms and a well-worn 'Boobs on Bikes, '09' tee-shirt, his fingertips resting lightly on the keyboard. He was in the mood to play, eager to lose himself in the music, yet the recurrent thoughts of her were a constant and unwelcome distraction.

He reached up and gingerly plucked the half empty glass of Single Malt from the lid of his baby grand and took a mouthful, relishing the burning sensation as it hit the back of his throat.

Generally, he found human contact awkward and invasive, but Cuddy's was the exception to the rule. She got to him. Her feminine fragrance, a familiar cocktail of Swiss vanilla cream, raspberries, and her own delicate scent were inebriating.

Brunettes had always been his preference; not because of any particularity, but because they reminded him of her: the bitch in heels. He knew Cuddy had a wild side beneath her uptight administrative persona - her 'inner Party Pants' - one that he seemed to unleash whenever he did something that a death sentence of clinic duty was regarded as a justified punishment. He could see it in her eyes; the way they seemed to change in accordance to her emotional state. The sudden transition from a deep, smouldering blue in fury - admittedly his favourite because she always looked incredibly sexy with flushed cheeks and a heaving bosom - to the irrepressible overcast grey/blue of her death glare, radiating ill-will and genuine pissed-offedness.

She had an enviable and deliciously sculpted body for a woman of forty-three, with assets to boot, but it wasn't just physical attraction, despite everyone's erroneous conviction . She was assertive, optimistic, resolute, knowledgeable, astute (to a degree), and she put up with his shit. She had metaphorical balls. Granted, she wasn't all kittens and candyfloss; several aspects of her personality annoyed him to no end, but that made her all the more engaging.

House swirled the amber liquid in the glass, staring absent-mindedly at the beverage before replacing it next to the near empty bottle of Woodstone Creek. He bit his bottom lip in aggravation, trying his damnedest to concentrate, his slender fingers brushing lightly along the ivory. Every drunken evasion brought him back to his boss.

He hated not being able to sleep, his recurrent insomnia getting the better of him most nights. Getting trashed and passing out in his own vomit seemed an inviting alternative to spending the next five-and-a-half hours with his brain in his crotch, but he knew the she-devil incarnate would, devoid of clemency, shackle him to the clinic (given that he'd crashed her latest rendezvous with another dickless, genetically challenged twat, she would no doubt assign Brenda the Barbarian as supervisor just to spite him) if he turned up an hour before his shift ended looking like a homeless beggar that had spent the night in a liquor cabinet.

House groaned, refusing to budge as the shrill ring of the phone cut into his thoughts, unconsciously letting his answering machine take the call.

A dismal 'what?' preceded the beep. Classic.

'House!' It was his Cuddy. His lips contorted into a lopsided smirk, faltering slightly in recognition of the possessive noun. He liked her. Fine. He'd grudgingly admit that...but in contention, she was shit hot. What heterosexual male wouldn't be attracted to a piece of ass like Cuddy? She did have a mighty fine one. And a great pair of ta-ta's. What's there not to like?

Wilson had once suggested, in a typical Wilson-like fit of frustration, that he ought to 'pee on her' after witnessing an episode of his illusory ownership regarding a patient that, in House's defence, had touched her inappropriately. After a week of endless diatribes concerning Wilson's 'Cupid's complex' , infinite number of failed marriages, and a conclusion that he needed to get laid, Wilson had learned his lesson.

'-Answer the damn phone, you vexatious ass.' House snickered.

'Coming, Mistress.' Yielding, he pushed his lanky frame from the bench, and limped in a drunken swagger, toward her voice, a dopey smile gracing his countenance. He picked up the receiver just as she was on the verge of hanging up - as he concluded from the familiar exasperated sigh - and spoke as he manoeuvred his way back towards his piano.

'Cuddles?' He inquired happily, albeit in a drunken slur, then added nonchalantly, 'It's a bit late for phone sex, but I'm more than willing if you're naked.'

She rolled her eyes at the affectionate pet name. Smirking, she replied coolly.

'Sorry, Greggles. I already have company willing to meet my sexual needs.'

House tossed the remainder of the whiskey down his throat and re-seated himself on the bench, his back to the piano.

'Your vibrator doesn't count,' he retorted smugly.

House immediately stilled and narrowed his eyes in suspicion as he heard the muffled sound of movement and hushed whispers exchanged on her end of the line. 'Who else is there?' he implored curiously.

Leaning forward, he snagged his Vicodin from the pocket of his jacket he'd tossed over the back of the couch, not giving it a second thought as it slipped to the floor. Absent-mindedly shaking the bottle, he tore off the cap and dropped two of the bitter, white pills into his mouth, tossing the empty prescription bottle onto the couch.

'Wilson,' she replied. 'I'm working late and he offered to stay and help me add the finishing touches to my presentation for the board meeting at eleven.'

House rolled his eyes, having lost interest after 'and'.

'Hoping for a lil' morning delight, Cuddlemuffin? I should warn you: he has a boil on his ass the size of a golfball.'

She laughed throatily, Wilson interrupting with a spluttered 'I do not!' having caught the end of what House had said.

He smiled, it was a rare privelege to hear her laugh like that, especially at something he'd said.

'You've seen Wilson's ass, House?'

He could hear the grin in her voice, cringing.

'Don't be jealous Cuddy. Yours is much bigger. And by much, I mean in planetary proportions.'

'It's still no match for your ego.'

'You've never complained about my huge ego before. In fact, I remember quite vividly-'

'House!'

He smirked, revelling in her embarrassment. Wilson still didn't know about their past in Michigan, and he had no intention of ever letting him find out.

He felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. His brow furrowed and he twisted around, his eyes drawn to the back door, which stood open.

'What do you...' His voice trailed off and he pulled the phone away from his ear, a confused expression on his face. That was locked...wasn't it?

Standing cautiously and ignoring the sudden bout of dizziness that accompanied the movement, he limped clumsily, without his cane, gradually making his way to the back door.

He pulled it open and stood on the threshold, one hand bracing himself on the frame tightly while the other hung at his side, phone in hand, and stared outside, eyes squinting in the unfamiliar darkness.

A gust of warm air, chaperoned by a rancid and sulphurous odour, swept into his apartment and he reflexively recoiled, the hand gripping the frame swiftly raised to press against his nose and mouth. He squeezed his burning eyes shut, calculating, his mind obsessively sifting through all possible explanations. Something wasn't right, obviously.

A resounding hiss rang violently in his ears, and his eyes snapped open in subdued terror.

What the FUCK was that?

He retreated promptly into his apartment and slammed the door shut, locking it with clammy, trembling fingers. The fine hairs on his arms bristled in the eerie atmosphere; the silence pierced by his heavy breathing and the concerned cries of his friends emanating from the cordless, clutched in a white-knuckled death grip. He timidly lifted the receiver to his ear, still dazed, but before any words left his mouth, his apartment was flooded with darkness, causing an unpremeditated, emasculate 'oh, shit' to escape him.

He heard a soft thud as something hit the floorboards, and glided swiftly to stand behind him, his breath catching in his throat. He jumped in fright at the loud 'crack' the phone made when it connected with the floor.

Fear repressed his curiosity; body immobilised.

Hot breath tickled the back of his neck, his own hitching as he felt his head being tilted to the side by a rough tug of his hair, managing a strangled yell as something sharp punctured his flesh, followed by a wet, rapacious mouth. His legs collapsed beneath him, and an arm wrapped possessively around his abdomen, keeping him upright as he was pulled against the soft, unnatural warmth of his captor.

Fatigue possessed him, the life draining from his exhausted body, his vision clouding into darkness.

He felt himself being lulled into the welcome embrace of emptiness, the vibrant, affectionate smile of his Lisa burning in his mind, until it, too, faded into obscurity as his consciousness abandoned him.

xxx

I tried to drag it out into a decent sized chapter, but I think I just succeeded in making the majority of it boring. My bad.

Additionally, I have no idea what Woodstone Creek tastes like, but I would imagine it tastes like crap because I have a strong aversion to anything alcoholic.

TBC