Rating: PG-13 for swearing
Word Count: 1925
Spoilers: Major ones for 5x23 and 5x24
Summary: "She comes to visit every Monday and Thursday at 8, like clockwork."
Disclaimer: Not mine, they belong to David Shore and co.
Author's Notes: Still reeling over the finale. This is my way of coping. Thank you all for all of your kind words, they are much appreciated. Unbetaed, as always, so forgive anything that looks odd or out of place.
She comes to visit every Monday and Thursday night at 8, like clockwork.
The first time she came, two days after he'd been admitted, he hadn't been able to look at her, hadn't wanted her to see his fear and his pain and the beginning stages of detox. Being vulnerable with her was both the most difficult and the most natural thing in the world, and he never knew quite what to make of it.
On that first visit, she had stayed with him half an hour before leaving his room to talk to the doctors who had been poking and prodding at him practically nonstop since his arrival on Saturday afternoon. After she had finished with them, she had returned to him, sitting at the table where she'd left him, not having moved because the pain was too intense to focus on anything but breathing in and breathing out. She ran a hand gently through his hair, and murmured that she'd be back next week.
And she was back next week, and every week after that, a silent constant that he'd come to count on in a world unfamiliar and full of more change than he was comfortable with.
He isn't over it yet, can't shake the pictures from his mind. He looks at her, sitting across the table, and he sees the way she looked at him when she told him she'd audited his endocrinology class. She sighs a little when she realizes that their time for the evening is drawing to a close and he hears her breathing a little too loudly after a long night of detox (Air goes in, air goes out, she had said). He feels her hand on his as she tells him she'll be back on Thursday, and he feels her hands all over him, pulling, pushing, caressing. Taking and giving, making him as much part of her as she was of him.
It's hard to have her here, to see her and not remember, not yearn for the memories that don't exist, but he's glad that she comes.
They don't talk about it, about what happened, about where they are and why. She brings him red lollipops and patient files and they trade barbs and snark like they always have. He doesn't mention the sadness he sees in her eyes, and she pretends not to notice when he talks to Amber over her shoulder. They talk as they always did, arguing, bickering, challenging. He even asks her once if he can cut off a patients' head, just for old time's sake.
He still wants her. It surprises him to find that the feeling hasn't faded after nearly three weeks in this jailhouse, that it didn't disappear like her lipstick in his hand when he realized the truth. He can still taste her mouth on his, can still hear her moans and her cries and the sweetness of his name on her lips, can still feel her body reacting under his hands, his tongue, his body. When he closes his eyes and Amber disappears, he can still sense the tenuous intimacy surrounding them, tingling in the space between their bodies as the frantic pace of their lovemaking slowed and she raised her eyes to look at him with such honesty that he had to close his own.
He knows now that that moment should have clued him in, should have alerted him to the non-reality of the situation, because the real Cuddy wouldn't have let him close his eyes. She would have demanded he look at her, always his equal, never letting him leave her behind in anything, even this.
Of course, the real Cuddy wouldn't have slept with him at all, but that was another point entirely.
One Monday, after the vomiting had tapered away and the pain had lessened from excruciating to throbbing, he almost told her about his delusions and her role in them, but thought better of it. He could still hear her incredulous laughter at the idea of moving in with him, of a relationship that extended beyond boss/employee, and he wasn't sure he wanted to hear that again, and definitely not here.
He glances at the clock on the wall. 7:56.
"Five more minutes, buddy," the female voice lilts, teasing and taunting as she's done for what feels like forever. He's almost accepted her presence, no longer fights to ignore her or to pretend like she's not there. He has detoxed, tried psych meds, tried ECT, and she is still with him, less often now than she was at first, but he knows she's never far.
"Are you going to tell her today? Tell her you wuvvv her? Tell her that the sun and moon rise in her eyes?"
She laughs a lot, Amber does. Mostly at him, but sometimes at the doctors who tell him he's getting better, who try to assure him that their treatment is working.
"No," he answers, tired of having this conversation. Every time Cuddy comes, it's the same thing. Tell her you love her, tell her you slept with her, tell her you need her, tell her not to go, tell her you can change for her. Her words are perpetually accompanied by scoffing.
"Why would she want you?" she always asks, "You don't deserve her and we both know it. She knows it."
In an odd way, he feels like he's failed before he's even been given the chance to try.
He's about to tell Amber to fuck off when he hears the click of the latch as Cuddy lets herself in and greets him. Normally, in this place, guests are escorted by security guards or doctors for their own safety, but she always comes alone, having somehow talked one of the higher-ups into letting her fend for herself. For that, he is grateful.
"Busting in without a knock, Cuddy?" he feigns offense, "I could have been naked and you would have corrupted my—"
She cuts him off. "Corrupted your innocence, ruined your reputation, blah blah blah." She is smiling, glowing. "How are you?"
"I'm still in this hellhole. How do you think I am?" his response is more acerbic than he intends, but she takes it in stride.
"She's in a good mood today," Amber warns. "I wonder why that might be."
"Dr. Castillo thinks that you're doing well."
"Maybe she's seeing somebody."
"He said that they've put you back on oxycodone for the leg…"
"Look at her. She looks relaxed, doesn't she? Like she's gone a round or two in the sack…"
"… and that your pain levels are down and the hallucinations are decreasing in frequency."
"I wonder what he's like. She goes for the tall, dark, and handsome type, right?"
"The hallucinations," he says, looking straight at Amber and then back at Cuddy, "are worse today."
"What about Wilson? She likes him, they're friends. They went on a couple of dates two years ago."
She nods apologetically. "They always seem to be worse when I'm here, don't they?"
"Wilson's a catch. Great in bed. Won't fuck it up like you will."
He doesn't want to tell her because he doesn't want her to feel guilty, but he can't lie to her, so he just nods, Amber's words still ringing in his ears.
"Or maybe it's not Wilson."
"Got a case for me today?" he motions for her to sit down next to him on his bed, hoping to see her procure a blue file folder from her purse, desperate for something to take his mind off of the chattering blonde proof of his insanity.
"Maybe I'm screwing Chase. Or Foreman," he looked at Amber again and noted that she wasn't Amber anymore, that her hair had darkened, her eyes had intensified, her ass had grown threefold. He looked at Cuddy, the real Cuddy, digging through her bag looking for a patient file, and then looked at Hallucination Cuddy and sighed.
"Or maybe Thirteen. You'd like that wouldn't you?" she leaned in to him, murmuring in his ear and he swears he can feel her breath on his neck.
"Eleven year old girl showing symptoms of Alzheimer's." Cuddy handed him the folder and continued to describe the patient's condition.
"Oh, but wait. You really wouldn't like that at all, because it's not you I'm fucking. It's not your mouth making me moan…"
"… CT's are normal…"
"…not your body between my thighs…"
"… nothing on the MRI…"
"… not your name I scream when I orgasm…"
"… Foreman and Thirteen searched her home…"
"… not your ears that hear me when I say 'I love you,'…"
"STOP!" He yells, and both Cuddys turn and look at him, one worried and the other gleeful. The Cuddy on his left puts a hand on his arm and asks if he's okay, even though they both know he's not and that the question is pointless. The Cuddy on his right pouts and morphs back into Amber, disappearing for a second only to reappear in the corner of the room, smug and proud of herself.
He looks at Cuddy, apologetic. "Not you."
"Who was it this time?" she knows his hallucinations take different forms. He thinks she must've read it in his file, because he never told her.
"Amber." He always lies to her about this.
"You're lying." She always knows when he lies.
He doesn't answer, he just looks at her, broken and sad and wanting it all to be over so he could go back to his real life, to solving puzzles and making jokes and stealing Wilson's food and Cuddy's birth control pills. He doesn't want to be here, but he knows that he has no other choice.
"What happened?" she asks, her hand still running up and down his bicep, comforting and soothing and reminding him of her presence, and they both know she's talking about more than just now.
"Don't tell her," Amber warns, leaning against the doorframe and examining her nails, "She'll only laugh at you."
He feels his hatred swell and balls his hands into fists, kneading the crisp white sheet that has made it into his grasp.
"No, if I tell you…" he can't finish the sentence, can't find the words to tell her that she'll leave him and never come back, that she'll be shocked and horrified and offended by his delusions, that she'll think him crazier than she already does when he tells her that he wishes with every part of him that it had been true.
"I'm not going anywhere." Her hand leaves his arm and goes to his face, turning his head to look at her, and as she brings her eyes to his, he sees such honesty that he has to close his own.
"Look at me, House," she commands, and he does. "I'm not going anywhere."
He takes a moment to collect himself, hearing Amber's pleas to stay silent but ignoring them until they are nothing more than whispers, and he begins.
"Do you remember that night in your office?"