Title: Meet Me Half Way
Disclaimer: I don't own House! (for the millionth time)
Description: Carefully, he lent forward – hand tightening around hers as he loomed above her. By touching her - he was in all likelihood absolutely and utterly screwed. Might as well make it worth his while.
"I know you like to bend the rules. To toe the line. Hell, half the time your switching between tip toeing along it and jumping up and down just to annoy me. I get that – really. You get some cheap...thrill out of this!" Her arms waved around dramatically. He blinked in response, "and I allow you to play what rule can I step over to drive Cuddy crazy, because it usually results in someone being cured. Saved. This does not mean you can take your damn cane and vault over said line!"
The characteristic smirk of one Dr. Gregory House twitched at the corners, an almost smile missed by Dr. Lisa Cuddy as she continued to pace the length of her desk. Quick, continuous movements in three by three angry strides complete with sharp one hundred degree turns at either end. To say she was mad was the understatement of the year. Livid, infuriated and antagonized thrown into a bowl and forced unceremoniously together was as close as Greg House could decipher, and boy was it a sight he wouldn't trade for the world. Sitting opposite her desk in the chairs meant for donors and grieving family members – he was pretty sure he had front row seats.
Eyes flashed somewhere between gray and blue, cheeks flushing red and unruly curls flying out in defiance from the clip he had seen her readjust not twenty minutes ago. Yes, an enraged Lisa Cuddy was a sight he rarely missed the opportunity to witness. "Have you been listening to a word I've been saying?" Busted.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Me evil – I get coal for Christmas. Go back to the pacing; the heavy breathing did wonderful things for the twins." He waited for the blow up. The get out of my office or I'll remove (insert vital organ here) and I mean it (this time). It didn't come, instead she dropped heavily into the chair next to him, the anger draining from her visibly as her shoulders slumped and her jaw unclenched. He frowned as her eyes slid closed with a soft sigh. Since when did Lisa Cuddy trust him enough to close her eyes when he was within fifty meters, let alone the same room.
Eyes racking across her features he took in the dark shadows under her eyes – not quite covered by an extra layer of makeup and the weariness of her limbs as they moved a few inches up before returning back to their original position in defeat. As if she were in fact attempting to return to the safe haven behind her desk – bringing the facade of I am boss! Hear me roar into full swing. Ignoring that he has in fact known her since she was eighteen. All large eyes and frizzy hair – knowing more of her then was strictly professional, but that was a very long time ago.
Exactly why he pushed past the rule established not quite that long ago, but which still felt like half a lifetime. The one where the term 'personal space' doesn't exist, but skin doesn't actually meet skin. He's not quite sure what pushed him to move and it was in all likelihood a stupid idea and he wasn't thinking. Then again, when you were thinking 'properly' you tended not to do stupid things. Long fingers inched out and tentatively hooked under and around her left knee.
Unceremoniously she flung herself into the chair situated way too close to a certain Diagnostician, eyes closing on their own accord as her body relaxed into the chair. She really should get up; paperwork did not just do its self because you thought real hard. Limbs protesting she let her arms drop once more after a futile effort of hoisting herself back up. She could feel eyes on her and a hum somewhere deep in her mind remembered House was still in her office. He probably couldn't set the place on fire with her still in the room, but he could sure as hell try. She let out a breath – she really needed to... finger wisps slid along the skin on her knee before moving along and wrapping around. Her breath hitched, what the hell was he doing.
Since when did he voluntarily touch her?
Imagining several scenarios ranging from him gripping her knee and pulling her off the chair, only to have her land on her ass to...the hand slid higher. She probably should be stopping that. Her hand reached out and what had intended to be a sharp slap turned into her hand lightly landing on his a little too high and to the left. Readjusting on it's own accord her hand slid lower and encased his as best it could with the severe difference in hand sizes.
She could feel the confusion generating from his general direction and resisted a smile. She knew why he was confused, she should have moved, shouted, jumped up and yelled bloody murder and yet here she was. Eyes still firmly closed and unmoving – the sound of air being captured and escaping from both their lungs filling her ears. Absently she thought about snapping her eyes open, he would probably snatch his hand back, turn tail and run out the door faster then any cripple had the right to do. He always had been an overachiever.
No, her eyes were remaining closed because if they were closed she couldn't be held accountable for any of her actions. She couldn't see him here with his hand looped softly under her knee – inching up her thigh (when he really shouldn't be anywhere near her upper thigh) and her hand wasn't laying over his – allowing it to inch up her thigh (because her hand should be ripping his away, accidentally snapping a few fingers in the process). It was .hapening.
Denial was a wonderful thing.
---Flashback---Eight years ago
A younger Gregory House with most of his hair, just a few strands of gray and a few less lines – despite the deep frown, which seemed to have taken up residence between his eyes - entered the doors of Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Leaning heavily on his cane he hobbled into the clinic; throwing a glare at the man who had sneezed in the general vicinity of where he was breathing, and entered the doors marked Lisa Cuddy M.D.
Absently, he noted the secretary was currently sitting behind her desk with her hands covering her eyes, some sort of mental breakdown, he mussed before throwing the double doors into the lair its self - open.
Lisa Cuddy looked up in surprise at the sudden onslaught on her doors and invasion of privacy as her past barreled into her office. For a split second the cane by his side was a lacrosse stick and the sneer was still there, but softer. Then it was gone (as quickly as the feeling in the pit of her stomach she forced herself to ignore), the cane was back - complete with the limp that she put there and smirk, which was decidedly his. "You missed our appointment" no hello, no how you been. Just a brash outburst from in front of her desk where he had decided he was going to situate himself.
She blinked and frowned, "Our appointment?" An eyebrow raised in question as she mentally checked her schedule and concluded no. There were no appointments with Gregory House anywhere in the near future.
"March 3rd. 1pm. You made the appointment. Old age affecting your memory already?"
Her lips pursed briefly before turning up in mild amusement. "That was March 3rd. 1pm. 2001." He looked at her blankly. "It's 2002"
"Uh." Cane tapped on the carpet twice between a pair of Nike sneakers. "Well no time like the present. I want a job."
"A job?" Only Gregory House would come a year late to an appointment and still believe he had every right to be there and be given the job – probably without an interview.
"Specifically a job in this hospital. You were babbling about some sort of department head last time I was here".
"Babbling?" Yes, last time he was here on a hospital bed, Stacey had left three weeks previously and he was not...coping. She had offered him a position here as head of Diagnostics – a department idea she had been toying with ever since she wound up thrown back into the wonderful world which revolved around Gregory House. March 3rd was the day she was supposed to interview him about the position. A year ago.
"Yes, babbling. To babble - uttering meaninglessly or confusing words and/or sounds"
"That position has been filled," she snapped abruptly. Amusement had quickly turned to anger. He was a year too late. A year. Just because he was Gregory I'm-an-ass House did not mean she was about to drop everything to fill his every whim. He shifted the weight from his leg to his cane and she beat the twinge of guilt away savagely. Not now.
His head cocked to one side, "Pretty hard to fill a position that doesn't exist yet."
So he had been listening. Which meant he was interested. Which meant she had him exactly where she wanted him. "It's also pretty hard to get a job for a position that doesn't exist." Didn't she have a secretary she thought absently – aren't they supposed to prevent people without an appointment from entering. Suddenly she didn't want him here. Anywhere near here. Then next consulate was too close.
His cane hit his shoulder with a thump as he swung it upwards and limped forwards without the walking aid. She knew what he was doing. It wasn't going to work. The second stab in her stomach in as many minutes suggested otherwise.
"The fancy lettering on the door suggests you're the big cheese around here. Even if you've only been around for three seconds you could still convince the big shots in the monkey suits to do what you want. That cleavage has got to be out there for more then just my enjoyment. Not to mention I can smell the guilt oozing from you, you're almost at an eight."
Ignoring the sudden urge to pull a sweater over her head and/or glance down at his leg she focused her energy on leveling him with a glare, which sent most humans scurrying. Apparently, Gregory House wasn't human. "Firstly I am the big cheese around here as you so kindly put it, so you might wanna try not making inappropriate comments about my clothing or annoying me. Secondly," she stood from her desk and walked around it "I have been in charge here for over a year now (almost two) and have trained the monkeys in suits to eat from the palm of my hand. Third, I don't want to hire you. Guilt and all." She smiled at him as she stopped directly in front of him.
To say it wasn't unnerving when he smirked back would have made her a flat-out-liar.
Half an eye-roll later and suddenly, he was in her personal space. "Me thinks you are holding a certain night to hear..."
Abruptly she cut him off with a roll of anger, "Don't you dare bring that into this!" Personal space be damned she forced herself a hairs breath from him, anger flaring as she was forced to crane her neck to stare him in the eye. "Should I choose not to hire you; it is because you have been fired by four other hospitals! Because you are a good doctor who hates patients and because I wouldn't want to inflict working with you onto others!"
"So I'm a good doctor?"
Just like that – the anger was gone.
Blinking up at him in disbelief a smile blossomed across her face and she shook her head in wonder.
Ladies and gentlemen – I give you – Gregory House.
She took half a step back and just looked up at him. He stepped forward, forcing them back into close proximity. This time she took it as a challenge and didn't flutter an eyelash in response. "When can you start?"
"Well...I need to not clean my house...and then there's that road trip to Mexico I've always wanted to go on and I've been thinking about getting highlights," he ran a hand through his hair, "what do you think?" And they were back to normal.
"You can start on Monday." Had he always been this tall? She needed to start wearing higher heals.
He pulled a face "but muuuumm"
"And" she moved around and away from and back around her desk to where it was safe (a tactical retreat was not waving the white flag). She looked down at the meter in depth desk, which was apparently going to protect her from Gregory House. Right. Well at least she could get away before he either came around her desk...or went over it. Any other employee and that scenario wouldn't even enter her mind. "You will need to hire fellows."
"You know I don't play well with other kids." Fists gripping for a nanosecond before releasing again – somehow he had her between amusement and anger. How the hell did he do that!
"No you don't, but this is a teaching hospital and this is the only way I can get board approval." She started pulling up the file marked Diagnostics on her computer that she had never gotten around to deleting. Figures.
"Fine, but I want my own office away from the brats. A jacuzzi and hand picked hot interns every Wednesday and Friday to complete my every whim"
She rolled her eyes "I'll think about the office. No jacuzzi and no comment on the last one. I'll have resumes ready for you by Monday."
He didn't reply for a few seconds, but that was ok. You learnt to understand the strange language behind Gregory House's actions as a language all on their own. Him not objecting was him agreeing, not that he'd actually say as much. That would be too easy. "Here" she looked up in time to see him reach around his back and pull out a creased and coffee stained piece of paper before dropping it onto her desk.
Frowning she unfolded the paper, trying to touch as little of the stained parchment as possible and skimmed through a few lines. "This is a resume...but not yours...James Wilson...Oncology?"
He nodded, "Heard you needed a new head of Oncology, what happened to the last one. He die or something?"
"Dr. Osborne retired and you can tell this James Wilson that should he want a job here he may want to give his resume to someone who isn't going to keep it in his jeans pocket or you know actually bring the it in himself."
The smirk she was finding was growing on her reappeared on his face. "He doesn't know you have his resume does he?" one of theses days, she was going to stop being surprised by his antics.
"Nope" he looked altogether way too pleased with himself.
"Is he even qualified..."
"Of course, would I give you the resume of some quack off the street?" he ignored her raised eyebrow "Call him. You may be pleasantly surprised – not to mention he's going through his first divorce. Maybe he can relieve some of that administrative stress."
She felt her eyes roll involuntary and knew that was going to become a habit in this particular doctor's presence. "Whatever. Go...do something. Just be here Monday, this Monday by 9am"
Nodding once, he turned and limped out, an extra bounce in his step. This was gonna be fun.
"And House." he turned back around. "That's the last time you barge into my office unannounced."
He nodded "Of course. Never again."
House was presented with a conundrum, apparently, Lisa Cuddy had gone crazy and he hadn't noticed.
Why else would they be sitting in her office, their hands on each others – resting just below the hemline of her skirt? Unless he'd gone crazy (again). A pang of fear ran through him before he dismissed it quickly. Were he hallucinating, she wouldn't still be wearing that skirt or anything for that matter. So she had to be crazy, but he would have noticed that happening. Which left option three; yes he was entitled to make up options by will. She didn't care that his hand was that close to the promised land and he didn't care that her hand was using his as a leaning post, which meant...crap!
Panic made him do stupid things, like attempt to pull his hand away but not wanting to literally rip his hand from under hers resulting somehow, in an odd twist of fate, his fingers sliding just under her hemline.
"House" It came out as a murmur, soft and altogether too husky for an employer to utter even if it was a half hearted attempt at stopping him. Her fingers moved lethargically as they found their way between her thigh and his hand. He expected her to push his hand away, slip it lower. Actually, he expected her to do pretty much anything but intertwine their fingers.
He froze, eyes widening and simply flicking between her face and their hands. They were holding hands. Gregory House was holding the hand of Lisa Cuddy and he wasn't running from the room – moving to the hills – never to be seen from again.
God, she could hear his mind running a million miles a minute.
He was the one who decided to break their almighty rule of not touching each other, oddly enough one rule he didn't march straight over (until now) and he could get them out of this without any help from her.
His hand jerked as if to escape, where she could force her eyes to stay closed until she could no longer hear the thump of cane on carpet and the status quo of life would continue. Simple. Poetic. Albeit unjust. Pointing finger to ring made it a hairs whisper underneath her skirt. They never were simple.
"House" she let out on the tail end of a groan, hand forced into motion to move. Reprimand (hold) the hand that had no and complete right to be where it was. Her fingers slid under his easily and traitorous that her hand was wiggled its way into his grasp.
In all honesty, she expected this to be the breaking point. For him to remember that he was Gregory i-don't-do-touching-stuff House and to snap out some form of sarcastic comment, leaving her to lick her wounds.
He would. She knew he would. In the next second...three...ten...?
---Flashback---Seven years ago
"Dr. House!" the clicking of sharp heals followed her down the hall as she hurried to catch up to the hobbling giant and sidekick who left the nurses weak in the knees. Ignoring the flare of annoyance as the limping twerp quickened his pace; she also increased hers and cut them off at the elevator.
"Hey Cuddy," Dr. Wilson said sheepishly as he ran a hand through his hair, despite his best efforts he couldn't get Gregory House to simply attempt to be nice to their boss.
"Dr. Wilson," she acknowledged before her steely eyes locked on House's. Here we go again he mussed, stepping back. He had learnt – the day after getting a call from Lisa Cuddy informing him she had a department position open (that he hadn't applied for) and that if his resume was accurate, he was perfect for (not that he'd given his resume out) and should he chose to come in he would practically be hired on the spot (which he was). His interview had of course been interrupted by a certain Diagnostician who had bailed him out of jail (not that he was going to mention that to his future boss.) Between House yelling about a brain biopsy and Cuddy snarling back about House making up symptoms, a hiss between clenched teeth – "Dr. Wilson, welcome to Princeton Plainsboro. Get out of my office – I don't want to see either of you until next week."
In short, he had learnt. Should House and Cuddy decided to kill each other, stand back and let it go.
"You can't pretend your patient is sicker then they really are to jump them up on the cue! There are other real sicker patients which take precedence."
"Well now Dr. Cuddy, that's kind of discriminatory of you. It's not exactly fair..."
"Fair!" she cut him off, her face half switching between disbelief and annoyance in a matter of seconds. "Fair would be you treating more then one patient a month, actually hiring the fellows you were supposed to hire over a month ago! (three) I'm putting the call out, expect resumes on your desk by the days end. Since I'm sure you've misplaced the ones I left there previously."
He pulled a face in response.
"James, make sure he actually looks at them."
That piked House's interest "James. Did I hear a James there Jimmy. Might I remind you, you are engaged to be married in a month! Mayhaps a certain administrator wants to be the blushing bride?"
Wilson rolled his eyes "The wedding is in a week and yes as the best man you have to be there," he added as House went to protest, "and James is my name. Not code for marriage"
"You shouldn't tell the devil your first name. It gives her control over you," he stage whispered in response.
"Standing right here," she interjected.
"I noticed. Hard to miss that rapidly expanding ass of yours." he met her glare with equal vigor until she broke the gaze as an aggravated sound emerged from her throat.
"Just hire three. Qualified. Doctors. It's not that hard House." And with that she turned on a heal and strode away.
Wilson turned away from the retreating form of Lisa Cuddy, albeit reluctantly and attempted to decipher the emotion currently flicking through House's eyes. There was something more to the two of them then employee, employer and he was going to find out exactly what that something was.
Uncharacteristic nervous habit of ones upper teeth biting into lower lip broke House's dead stair at their hands. Since when did he bit his lip? Maybe he had something. Some strange and rare disease that made him hold hands and bite his lip. Wilson bit his lip. Wilson's disease? Damn, already taken. His mind tumbled through a variety of possible names for the disease of handholding and lip biting. Honestly, anything but thinking about his current situation was by far a better thought process, even if it was about Wilson.
Obviously, she wasn't going to deal with this situation. Her eyes were still closed, long lashes caressing her cheeks – breath moving out in even strokes. If he didn't know any better he would say she had fallen asleep, but he did know better. He knew what a sleeping Cuddy looked like (yes that was as creepy as it sounded) hey, if the several hundred year old sparkling virginal vampire could do it then so could he...and he was thinking about her again. Argh.
Ok, treat it like a differential (because you could so fit all the facts about Lisa Cuddy on a white board). He figured he could either; take his hand back (for some reason he rejected that option almost immediately – not particularly wanting to focus on that, he moved on). He could do something to change the dynamic. Situation. Whatever this was. With as little awkwardness as possible (sure) or he could simply sit like this. Forever.
He felt the soft pressure of her hand wrap around his before releasing and relaxing again so his hand was doing most of the holding. She was telling him he could leave and she wouldn't hold this against him or bring it up again. A way out – just like she always did.
What if he didn't want a way out this time.
Eyes lingered on her face, dropping from her closed eyes to her mouth. It was a strange feeling being able to study her so closely without the fear of being caught, of blue eyes watching him knowingly while his tried to tell her she was crazy and he wasn't looking at her at all.
No, no way out this time.
Carefully, he lent forward – hand tightening around hers as he loomed above her. He'd already done something weird, strange, foreign. By touching her - he was in all likelihood absolutely and utterly screwed. Might as well make it worth his while. His lips lowered to hers.
He wasn't moving.
He wasn't going to move?
What was he going to do – sit here forever!
Not panicking in the slightest, Lisa Cuddy forced her breathing to remain even and made sure to not move. She almost scoffed at herself, since when was she afraid of what Gregory House did...best not to dwell on that. Apparently, she needed to do something because he wasn't going to play the game (as usual) exactly what she wasn't precisely sure of what just yet. Opening her eyes was out of the question. She was not going to deal with the awkwardness or the look in his eyes when she pulled her hand away from his and sat behind her desk. No, she would much rather deal with her own pain then his.
A strange thought entered her mind and she almost ignored it; but really was sitting here trying to figure out the inner workings of House's mind going to help her in the slightest. What if he was trying not to hurt her?
It certainty explained why he had not pulled his hand away, rubbed it on his jacket, explaining that girls had cooties. Like that was a normal thing for a man his age to worry about. She knew he cared about her in his own strange way, it was just the what, where, how and why that she had yet to figure out.
So she gave him a way out, carefully she squeezed his hand with hers a second longer then she had intended too. Hoping he would understand that it was ok. He could let go. Let her go.
She felt his eyes linger on her face. She always knew when he was looking at her and occasionally caught him as he turned away quickly or scowled at her as if to say 'how dare you be where my eyes were looking'. His hand tightened around hers in response and she prepared for the loss of contact, for his much larger hand to pull away from hers to never touch again because undoubtedly this was a mistake. Just like the one they made twenty years ago. Two mistakes in twenty years – she looked forward to the next one in another ten.
This being said, she was decidedly unprepared for hot lips to graze across hers.
---Flashback---Seven years and a bit later
"House" he muttered into the phone, the caller ID had identified that the caller was from somewhere in England and if the person was in England it wasn't Cuddy ringing to yell at him for not hiring anyone yet (still).
"Dr. House, my name is Dr. Rowan Chase I'm..."
"I know who you are," he interrupted absently, he was becoming bored with the conversation quickly. He wondered what Cuddy was wearing today.
"Then you will take me seriously when I say I am ringing in regards to Robert Chase."
"I'm assuming relative? Do I owe him money? Because if I do, I'm un-contactable."
"My son. To my knowledge he is one of the applicants for the Diagnostics Department," House glanced over at the stack of resumes thrown hazardously across his office floor, "I'll take your word for it."
An amused tone entered the mans voice as he continued "I was hoping by my calling..."
"You want me to hire him," lifting his cane up from where it had been leaning against the desk he knocked one of the more evenly stacked piles over, spotted the file labeled Chase, R and used his cane to drag it over to him. He flicked through it absently, not crazy, not stupid. "Alrighty."
"Thank you, Dr. House I'm extremely..."
"Don't mention it. Seriously." He hung up and flicked to a contact number before dialing Robert Chase.
"H-hello?" a sleepy voice muttered from the other end.
"This is Gregory House. Congratulations you've been hired, report to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital tomorrow morning. Go straight to Diagnostics. Bring breakfast," he hung up abruptly.
"House! It's been three weeks and you've only managed to hire one person."
House looked up as Cuddy walked in, gazed down at the discarded resumes and bent down to organize them with a huff.
"These things take time. What do you want me to do, hire all of them then eliminate them one by one like some sick game show?"
She rolled her eyes in response and stacked the files on his desk. "Two more, you need one more by the end of the week."
"Fine," he picked the two files on top and practically threw them at her. With a glare she returned them to an upright position and glanced at both, "you can't have three male employees."
"Yeah, that's not sexist at all!"
The files hit his desk in a frustrated thump. Watching her, he could tell she was counting to ten. Very. Slowly.
"Look, here." she pushed an opened file towards him "Allison Cameron – in the top of her class, internship in..."
"Forget what she's done, shes hawt!" he pulled the file with attached photograph towards himself before picking his phone up and dialing the number attached.
"You're hiring someone based on what they look like," she said dryly. "Of course you are." Quickly she pulled the file back and read through it, he was not hiring a complete moron in her hospital. She checked out ok (thankfully.)
"Yes hello, is this...I've forgotten you're name. This is Greg House, who did I ring?"
She rolled her eyes and left his office.
Wilson stood outside what appeared to be a gym, inside a school, somewhere – during work hours. How did he get talked into these things.
The door to the gym swung open and a cane, then a man came into view.
"Exactly why are we here?" Wilson mused out loud as he matched House's stride back to the car and hospital (hopefully.)
"I was doing a little research on a future employee of mine. He passed with flying colours."
"Okay...so why am I here?" he asked as they reached the car, Wilson making sure he was the one driving.
"To drive me here. Buy me lunch and return me safely." House replied as he pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed the number for Eric Foreman.
"Right," was all Wilson could get out.
"Eric Foreman? Can you come down to the ghetto tomorrow and bring a joint to share? By ghetto I mean Princeton Plainsboro and by joint, I mean joint."
Again, how did he talk him into theses things?
This so wasn't a good idea.
Her mouth parted, tongue sliding into his mouth as the hand not holding his reached up and nestled at the back of his neck. Effectively pulling him much closer. He was a genius!
Oh my God.
What had initially intended to be nothing more then pressure from his mouth to hers rapidly changed direction as contact was made. She pulled his mouth down hard as he pulled her towards him, lifting her from her chair and across his lap in one fluid motion. Their hands separating as they found better means for them. His slid around her waist, gripping her hips whilst hers weaved through his hair, a moan escaping from her throat as his mouth descended on her neck. Heated nips rippled through her skin as he nibbled and licked before lips crashed once more. Slowly, the kisses softened, became less frantic and tight grips on skin became light caress.
They parted, her eyes opening carefully. He couldn't remember a time when they had looked so blue.
Her mouth opened. Then closed. Then opened again. Her skin turning a lovely shade of pink as she realized she was straddling her employee, in her office and she honestly didn't care; he was loosing a battle with himself as the corners of his mouth turned upwards
"Hey," he went for.
She smiled "Hey."
First and probably only one shot I'll ever write. Soo...any good?