Word Count: 1000
Spoilers: 6.07 "Known Unknowns."
Summary: Post-ep for 6.07. "He does not ask questions."
Disclaimer: House belongs to FOX and David Shore and a bunch of other people. Not to me.
Author's note: Very quick one-shot because this episode just SCREAMED for fic. Experimenting with a couple of new stylistic things, and still trying to figure out the characters, so it's probably not perfect, but I couldn't help myself. What a fantastic episode.
He does not ask questions.
She does not offer an explanation.
The conference ends with another social event in which doctors gather and pretend to be normal people.
This time, there is no dancing and no heartfelt confession accompanied by a Cyndi Lauper song that once held significance.
She looks at him across the room and remembers.
He looks at her and tries to forget.
She remembers a night of passion and intrigue. She remembers a young man who, with one glance at her class schedule, knew her better than anyone. She signed up to audit his endocrinology class the next day. She remembers and wonders what it would have been like had he not been expelled from Michigan. She wonders if it would have lasted.
He wants to forget the way she felt at that party, the way she felt after the party, moving with him and around him and over him. He wants to forget the way she felt in his own personal hallucinogenic humiliation, beautiful and real and like the first breath after prolonged submersion. He wants to forget because if he can manage that, seeing her with someone else might not affect him.
She is happy, he thinks, and he never deserved her anyway.
He is miserable, she observes, moreso than usual, and it is her fault.
He would have called.
She would have answered.
He would have asked her dinner. Except he hates the formality of dinner, so he would have taken her somewhere else, he doesn't know where.
She thought he'd left school because of her. She was nineteen and a little narcissistic and thought that he'd taken off because he didn't want to face the reality of the morning after.
Maybe he loved her.
Maybe she loved him.
It matters little, in the grander scheme of things.
He moved on. Sort of.
She didn't. Not really.
And then she did and there was Lucas in her hotel room with her daughter and Lucas at the restaurant and Lucas telling him the details of his own fantasy world.
They were always dancing around each other.
But he has a cane and is at a distinct disadvantage.
He can still smell her perfume.
He wanted to kiss her on the dance floor.
She wanted him to kiss her.
She puts Rachel to sleep, cuddling close to her the only thing that makes sense anymore, the only part of her world that hasn't been turned on its axis.
He watches Wilson pack his suitcase and thinks about giving him his pants back, but ultimately decides against it.
She knocks on his door.
He lets Wilson answer.
And then Wilson is gone and she is there and they are alone.
"You don't have anything to be sorry for."
"You know I do."
"It doesn't matter. I don't have a say in what losers to decide to screw in your personal time."
Maybe he loved her once.
"Even if they are losers I introduced you to."
Maybe he still does.
"Yes, you do."
Maybe she loved him once.
"It's been twenty years, House."
Maybe she loves him now.
"You do have a say."
He wants to tell her to get rid of Lucas, to tell her that he can be reliable (even though he doesn't really think he can, he's willing to try), to tell her to pick him, choose him, love him (and at that moment, he realizes he's watched too many nighttime soap operas about fictional doctors with over-complicated love lives).
"Go back to your room, Cuddy. Be happy."
She wants to tell him that she can't find happiness there, at least she doesn't think so. She wants to tell him that maybe her happiness is here, as improbable as it may seem, given his nature and their propensity for arguing.
She walks to the door. She turns to him.
"I would have answered. If you had called."
He tries to smile.
So does she.
Neither is very successful.
His voice is so soft she almost thinks she might be imagining it.
"It would have been great."
She doesn't want to deal in 'would haves' anymore, in 'might have beens' or 'if onlys.'
"It still could."
And she is kissing him, like she had so many months before, like she had outside the bathroom at Bill Jennings' house party freshman year of college.
She is kissing him and he is kissing her back, pulling her to him, close, closer. So close. Like he'd devour her if he could and she is pulling back, tugging and reaching and molding herself into him.
Maybe this was worth waiting two decades for, she thinks.
He doesn't know what took him so long.
She feels the pangs of guilt tug at her, warring with the pangs of desire, equally strong.
But she has a man in her room, a man listening to the baby monitor to make sure her child was alright, a dependable man who deserved to know the truth.
She doesn't want dependable anymore.
She just wants him.
He knows she will pull away. He knows her good sense will get the better of her but he wanted one moment, one more moment with her before he could let her go for good.
"I'll be back."
He doesn't believe her. He wants to, but he can't.
He loved her once.
He loves her still.
She returns an hour later, sleepy baby in tow, and tells him Lucas was on his way back to Princeton, gone.
She loved him once.
That hasn't changed.