Summary: "Guess you don't know me as well as you claim to." Better, he wants to say. House/Cuddy
Setting: Season 3
A/N: next chapter is already partially (halfway?) written so good news. bad news (maybe, depending on who you are) i'm feeling like this story may be winding down. it more than likely won't have many more than 10-15 chapters. anyway; read, enjoy, and review.
She must be plum crazy
I kinda think I like her
I kinda think I do
Cuddy turns the test over in her hands and House is sure, before she even says a word or makes a noise, of what it says by the expression on her face.
"Well?" he demands, his need to know overriding his momentary lapse into the realms of sensitivity. House is certain when his mind recounts and reviews all the evidence and clues that he already knows the results, but he needs definitive proof, a confirmation. He needs an answer.
He watches as she tugs nervously on her bottom lip with her teeth. He waits, feeling uncharacteristically unsettled, that moment in between him asking the question and her giving the answer seeming to stretch infinitely.
She doesn't know how long she stands there, leaning against the sink and holding the test in her hands, watching, waiting to make sure the pink plus sign she sees isn't a trick of the light or that if she blinks, it will simply fade away.
She opens her mouth to say something - what she doesn't know, but something needs to be said - but when she looks up, House is no longer standing in the doorway. Cuddy sets the test down on the counter beside the sink, breathing deeply, telling herself not to be surprised - but she is - that should've expected this and she shouldn't be disappointed - but she's filled with it. She sighs, breath escaping her lips shakily and quickly washes her hands before leaving the bathroom and stepping out into the hallway.
Cuddy stops just at the entrance to her kitchen, pausing at the sight of House leaning against the counter top next to the stove.
"I - you're still here," she murmurs. She tries, to the best of her ability, to hide the surprise and shock in her voice but she's certain that he notices anyway. She leans over his shoulder, her eyebrows furrowed as she finds the source of the scent starting to permeate through her kitchen. "You're making pancakes. And…tea?" she adds.
She watches him from her stance near the oak wood table as he moves about her kitchen, his familiarity with her space reminding her of those sporadic late night visits. "You're making tea," she can't help but repeat.
"You hate tea," she murmurs, frowning slightly, noting the observation out loud.
"Pancakes are for me. Tea's for you. You're a terrible hostess, by the way. Isn't the number one rule of Miss Manners' Guide to offer your guest a meal - especially after they've held your hair back while you vomited?"
"I'm surprised you're even aware of the existence of the Miss Manners' Guide, House. Also, I didn't invite you over," she points out.
"True," he admits, nodding. She stands beside him as he flips pancakes onto a plate sitting on the counter and the tea kettle whistles on the stove behind them.
He hands her the cup of tea once it's ready, which she accepts carefully. "I…Thanks." She wraps her hand around the mug, holding it close enough to attempt to blow it cool enough to take a sip. She feels his eyes on her, watching, but she doesn't look up. At least, not until he speaks.
"So this 'stunned into silence' bit cannot be just because the test came out positive," House notes abruptly. "As much as you've doubted it, you had to know it was a possibility. So I can only assume that it's either a) because I'm in the lead and the most likely candidate for paternity-"
She scowls. "You can't possibly know that."
"Or b)," he continues, pointedly ignoring her, "because you can't believe that I'm actually capable of doing-"
Cuddy sighs in exasperation, rolling her eyes. "It's not that I don't think you're capable, I'm just not naive enough to believe that you wouldn't do something without having an ulterior motive."
"You? Naive?" he scoffs, mocking her slightly. "So what is my motive, Cuddy? What am I getting out of this?"
"I - Something. There's always something."
"Right because this is exactly what I want."
"Isn't it?" He moves so that he's standing directly in front of her, his arms placed on either side of her, keeping her in place.
"…House," she whispers only because she can't think of anything else to say - not with him looking at her the way that he is, the tips of his thumbs brushing against her thighs, wisps of air from his exhale brushing across her lips seconds before he's kissing her hard, wholly and completely; she finds herself giving in without hesitation, her mouth opening underneath his once she feels his tongue pressing against the seam of her lips. He slides his hands through the messy curls of her hair and she pulls him closer by wrapping her legs low around his hips.
But then, just as suddenly as it started, it's over and he's pulling away from her and she's left standing in the middle of her kitchen, cold. It isn't until the front door slams shut, pulling her out of her reverie that her mind registers the smell of burnt pancakes filling the room.
The thin wax paper covering the exam table crinkles quietly beneath her as she shifts, somewhat nervously. The young nurse standing at her elbow, studiously adjusting the BP cuff around her bicep, smiles in a way that's supposed to be comforting. At least, Cuddy can only assume so. "Are you nervous?"
"Not at all," Cuddy lies smoothly. She smiles falsely, in spite of the fact that she knows her slightly elevated heart rate will betray her. Of course she's nervous. She can't think of a single reason not to be.
Cuddy startles slightly when the exam room door opens again, not having realized the nurse even left at all. Her doctor, Elizabeth Wright, the head of obstetrics at Princeton General enters the room a calm smile on her lips and a self-assured air surrounding her. "Dr. Wright. Good to see you."
"Lisa. Your labs came back-"
"And?" Inwardly, she cringes at her inability to just be patient. But still, she leans forward, waiting.
"And you were right." Here, Wright's smile widens. "Blood work confirms that you're definitely pregnant." Congratulations."
"And you're sure?" She feels compelled to ask, just to be certain, just to be sure. She can't take any chances with getting her hopes up.
"Absolutely. I know that you're concerned because of your history..."
"You probably think that I'm being paranoid-"
Wright rests her hand on top of hers. "Of course not. I was just going to suggest we do an ultrasound. No harm in that."
"This will be a little cold," Wright warns gently. Cuddy nods holding her breath with the paper gown pushed up so that it's resting just below her breasts. She gasps once the cool gel makes contact with her skin and waits for the inevitable.
And then she hears it.
"…There it is."
She opens her eyes as the sound of a strong steady heartbeat fills the room, echoing off the walls and the tiled floors, causing her own heart to swell and her eyes to fill instantly with tears. The image on the screen in front of her is barely the size of a small fruit, its small limbs and minute-sized head hard to discern, but it's real. It's there. "Everything seems to be perfectly fine and healthy," Wright says quietly.
Cuddy exhales a shaky sigh of relief, finally feeling as though she's reached the moment where she can breathe easy and just…allow herself to accept this and embrace it. She never really thought that she'd get here, never thought that she'd get to have this moment.
And though she came to this appointment alone, Cuddy knows, now that she's looking at the life growing inside of her, that there is only one person she wishes she had sitting next to her - in spite of everything and everyone else. The realization of who that is isn't surprising, really, but her walls and defenses are down as she holds onto a printout copy of the sonogram that she is hit with an almost stunning and dizzying clarity, nearly amplifying the tears in her eyes as she looks at the empty space next to her, once his name comes to mind: