Physician, Heal Thyself

Ch. 9

Last chapter!! I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed, especially those who reviewed every chapter--you know who you are, THANK YOU! You guys have been amazingly kind. I hoped you enjoyed it as much as I did. Please leave an exit review to tell me your thoughts!

House and Cuddy lay in each others' arms, moonlight through the window softly outlining their bodies and the tangled sheets around them. House nuzzled Cuddy's neck, and thought, why did it take me twenty years to do this again?

Then he had a flash of insight. He sat up suddenly. "I know where it's from!" He crowed triumphantly.

Cuddy looked up at him, bewildered. "What?"

"How I knew you audited my class," House said.

Cuddy sat up too, gathering the sheets around her and laying her head against the headboard. "You're still on about that?" She asked wearily. Honestly, that man. He couldn't stop thinking and analyzing even after amazing sex? But Cuddy knew inside that this was what she loved most about him. "All right, House. How didyou know that I audited your class twenty years ago, even though I have no idea why it's so important to you?"

"I like how you call me House in bed," he said. "It's sexy."

Cuddy huffed in frustration. "I'm going back to sleep if you don't—"

"You told me," House interrupted, "twenty years ago."

"Did I?" Cuddy frowned. "I don't remember—"

"Twenty years ago," House said loudly, in the tones of a storyteller, "there was a little girl…" he glanced sideways at Cuddy slyly, to see if she had an issue with being called little. But Cuddy refused to talk for fear of prolonging his monologue longer than it had to be. So he went on. "…a little girl who was curious about a charming and extremely good looking legend on campus."

Cuddy rolled her eyes.

"So she decided to audit the endocrinology class of that legend. And did not happen to inform the legend of this fact, even after they began to talk, and he began to cheat off her tests, a fact she was fully aware of, by the way," House said pointedly. "She let him cheat because she was infatuated with the said legend."

Cuddy raised her eyebrows at him, and gave him a fake smile.

"And the legend was deluded into thinking that she was older than she really was," House continued. "And because she was hot, and…not annoying to talk to," he said in a softer voice, "he started hanging out with her more often."

Cuddy's eyes were wider and softer now, as she was brought back to the sun-filled early days of their relationship.

"One night, the day before he left Michigan…they had sex," House said quietly, raising his hand to gently trace the contour of her cheek in the dark. "Damn good sex," he added.

Cuddy chuckled.

"And the little girl evidently had a huge guilt complex even then," House said, "because she confessed that she wasn't really in his class, that she was just auditing it. But in addition to having a guilt complex, she happened to also be a sneaky bitch," he said, smiling at her, "because she whispered it after he had fallen asleep after the sex. And only his subconscious had heard her. So in this way, she satisfied her conscience and the legend did not remember anything…until now," he finished.

Cuddy brought her hands together and clapped slowly. "Well done," she said. "You've figured out my diabolical plan. It only took you twenty years."

"As I always say…" House said, tangling his fingers in her curls and bringing her face closer to kiss her, "better late than never."

It was as though floodgates in her heart had opened that moment, because she was suddenly drowned in a wave of powerful emotion. There was no doubt in her mind now: she did not just want Gregory House—she loved him, without reserve, without doubts. She never wanted any other man but him, for as long as she lived.

"Any other secrets you'd like to share?" House murmured, moving to trail kisses on her neck.

"I have one," she said, and flipped over to straddle him. She placed kisses along his jawline up to his ear, where she whispered, "Gregory House…I love you."

He pulled back slightly, and for a second Cuddy was scared that he was going to freak out, or that he didn't feel the same way. But he was smiling. "Hate to break it to you…but that's not a secret," he said.

"And that's not the proper response," she said, playfully smacking him on the arm.

"You want the proper response?" House asked with a twinkle in his eye. In sudden movement, he flipped her over so that she was on the bottom. "Lisa Cuddy…" he said, dropping a kiss on her sternum, "I love you," he murmured against her lips before giving her a long, soul-searing kiss. Then he pulled back to look at her in the eyes with a lopsided grin. "That good enough?"

She pulled his head down for another kiss. "Perfect."

But just as things were heating up again, she was suddenly besieged by a horrible thought. She pulled back and buried her head in his chest, trying to shake off her misgivings.

"What's wrong?" House asked, concern evident in his voice.

"Are we moving too fast?" She asked, her voice muffled in his chest. She hated to ruin the moment, but her paranoid and obsessive self wouldn't let this go.

"Hmm," House said thoughtfully. "Could you possibly be talking about the fact that you jumped me the day I got back to work, we moved in a day later, and now we're professing our love to each other?"

"Yes," she mumbled, not daring to look up at him.

"Hey." House pulled back slightly, and tipped her chin up so their eyes could meet. "I don't think we moved fast enough," he said honestly.

Cuddy looked up into his clear blue eyes, normally icy, hard, and analytical. Now they were none of those things; instead, they were tender and full of love. It took her breath away like nothing else to know that these feelings were directed at her, and her only.

She thought back to all the years that they had known each other. First Stacy, then the infraction, then her being his boss…even after the kiss they shared when she had lost Joy, they danced around the issue and avoided it. It was not until House had his delusion that he finally admitted to himself that he was in love with her. And it wasn't until she'd discovered that he had a delusion that she finally realized that he wasn't the unfeeling bastard he seemed. She cringed at all the cruel things she said to him when he announced to the whole hospital that he had slept with her. She had thought it was just another prank to undermine her authority and to make fun of her feelings. People who get close to you get hurt…It's a good thing this happened, because it made me realize that I could never have a relationship with you…

But she was wrong. She knew that now. House was capable of deep attachment and loyalty, if only she had let him prove it to her. With him, you had to see the rude remarks for what they really are—an attempt at concealing emotion, and to look past them for the wounded, but nevertheless beautiful soul inside.

Although the delusion was a horrible thing to happen, in the end it turned out to be the catalyst they needed. It was like a bomb that shocked them both out of their self-pitying shells.

Maybe it was true…things did always happen for a reason.

House appeared to be thinking the same thing as her. He absentmindedly tucked a curl behind her ear. "All this time we lost…" he whispered, almost to himself.

Cuddy smiled brightly at him. "Better late than never," she echoed, kissing him deeply.