Disclaimer: House, M.D. is 100% David Shore's possession.


(Okay, so I cannot begin to express how frustrated I am with EVERYONE right now! And I need to vent – sorry! First, Cuddy. I HATED how he entered her office during "Known Unknowns" and she just brushed off his presence in annoyance, when he hadn't even done or said anything yet. I don't care if that is how she is with him. It rankled. Then she lied to him when he offered to watch Rachel and that made me even more irritable. And then there's the whole thing with Lucas and the fact that she TOLD him EVERYTHING – which frankly, made me feel like she doesn't deserve House and never will (he respected her privacy with IVF after all and this was much more serious than that) and next, Lucas shoots off his mouth at the table and Cuddy doesn't shut him up as she should have immediately. Argh! David Shore, I'm not happy! And Wilson. What in the world?! He sat there at the table with House and just took everything in! What kind of friend does that?! House was so mature about it all – taking it in stride or something – but I just ached for him – even knowing in advance that Cuddy was seeing Lucas. Though I appreciate and can understand the benefits of how he handled it, I wanted House to react like House and walk away without comment, at least. Then tonight, Wilson continued to disappoint me. And Cameron – that was so hard to watch! I don't mind Cameron – I like her, but I couldn't believe how she blamed House for everything! People have to be responsible for their own decisions. Chase did wrong, but she euthanized a patient. I'm not condoning Chase's decision at all, but she's not exactly without her own history of making her own questionable decisions regarding the value of life, and she wasn't exactly a big fan of the murdering diplomat. So here you have House in this totally vulnerable state, trying to hold on to the people who made up his team in the past, needing to hold on to them after Cuddy's betrayal (and I loved that Shore used Thirteen to point in that direction – Wilson as well), and Cameron tells him – a man who is barely out of the asylum – that he's accountable for everything, it's his fault, and he's the one who turned Chase into the horror he's become! Who does that?! Foreman was in charge! Not House. House didn't even know about it until after the fact! Ay yi yi! I'm done with Cuddy, Wilson, and Cameron right now! Please Thirteen, be the one House needs right now. Stand in the gap. Someone needs to. The preview of next week assures me that it won't be Cuddy. I'm beginning to think Shore is destroying any and all affection I feel for her (& believe me, with the story that I've got in my head and pouring out of my fingertips onto my computer screen, I don't need his help there.)

Okay, so, here's what you need to know regarding this story. First, the only episodes I'm really taking into account this season in my story are Ep. 1 & 2, that of House's time in Mayfield. I think the few Huddy stories I've written on , have worked in the past because I've tried to stay true to happenings and events with the show. With this one, I'm not. Granted, the season's not complete enough to allow me to even attempt it, but this story generated in my head even before the season got underway. And for that reason, I'm not sure if this one will have any fans after the initial few chapters. Because honestly, in the relationship between House and Cuddy, it's always been about Cuddy saving him, rather than the other way around. She's been his doctor, his friend, his reviver, his hand holder, his imagined savior, etc. But she's never really needed him to return the favor – not really – not to any depth. And this story will go in that direction. But it's angsty and drama and there will be plenty of behavior completely out of character, both as a choice and as a result of trauma and frankly, it's going to cost House a lot in the end – this saving Cuddy business. So I tell you that right up front. I can't write stories without happy endings, but it's a long, complicated journey and you might as well know that from the get go. And I'll be lucky to complete it, with how torn up I am regarding how this season is shaping up! Though, I've oddly completed chapters here and there throughout this story, which I'm hoping only to tweak as I go. Also, I generally don't like songfics. But for whatever reason, I'm choosing to title each chap with a song and include the lyrics at the end. It's not usually my style, but since my House obsession started, I often find myself thinking of House and Cuddy when I hear certain songs and I'm going to go with it this once and see what happens. If you hate that kind of thing, ignore it. Next, I'd like to say I'm not having House go back to his old team. It was really hard for me to conceive Chase and Cameron leaving their positions for a blast in the past type set-up. And Cameron's a secondary character in my story so she won't be disappearing as she is from the show. Oh, and a warning. This story will end up M, not because I want it to but because there's no way it could be anything less and be the story I have in my head. I have no interest in publishing smut, nor do I intend to. But this story does deal with sex and its complications, so I doubt I can keep it as T, though I won't go into a whole lot of detail when things go in that direction. And by the way, if you are reading this because you've enjoyed any of my other stories, THANK YOU SO MUCH! This story eclipsed "Can't Stay Away" in my thoughts and I know that there are those who are probably waiting for me to pick it back up, but I was out of town for quite a while and slaving over this story in my absence. Maybe I will get back to it but I was honestly quite content with where it was at. We'll see! Thanks for reading and thanks for the nice reviews on past stories!)


House had expected his time in Mayfield to be a nightmare and it had begun as such. Detox had been a living hell. Too weak to take care of himself, dependent on others to wipe the vomit from his face, the shaking, the restraints, the isolation and misery, feeling like he was out of his mind; all had contributed to it being a horror amongst horrors. It had been a fate worse than death, he thought at the time. Then, detox was complete and he found himself surprised to discover that the pain in his leg was actually tolerable with the aid of the non-narcotic prescription they had him on. He was ready to blow the joint. Amber was long gone; ancient history. The Vicodin was also a thing of the past. But then he had gone to Dr. Nolan's office, suitcase in hand and a stolen cap on his head, only to find out that he wouldn't be going anywhere. Well, that wasn't quite true. He would be leaving, but only to go to the long-term ward. It sucked. He was there voluntarily but if he didn't stay, he'd never get Dr. Nolan's recommendation. Without that, the restoral of his medical license could not take place. He was trapped. So he did what came natural in situations where he was going to lose. House aimed to make sure no one else won. He made his sole objective that of raising a little cain, and by that he wasn't referring to the thing he used to help him limp easier. He was going to pull an "Attica" and ensure that it worked a little better with Nolan and his posse than it had with Cuddy that one day when he'd half-heartedly yelled it over and over in protest while in her office.

And then that plan had crashed and burned, so he'd tried another and another. Each ended in failure. Though he had to say, the beat-down had been fun. And Alvie had been game. Wilson's refusal to help him in his attempt to blackmail Dr. Nolan; not so appreciated. Well, at least not at the time. But Freedom Master's fallout had been the worst of all. Yes, he had been stuck at that point. He had to cooperate. He had to give in order to get. He had to not simply accept that he was broken, for he'd known that for a long time now, but what he needed was to believe that "they," meaning the "enemy," might actually be able to mend what was broken in him. That was something he had a hard time swallowing; believing that meant believing what he was convinced was a lie.

He thought a lot about Lydia in the days immediately after his release. He wondered if she had been the highlight of his time there or if maybe the day of his release had eclipsed her significance in his life because of everything it symbolized. But reality was that she HAD been the best thing to happen to him in those three months. He realized then that while the day of his release had been wonderful, he would never have reached that day without the effect she had on his life in being a part of it. Lydia had made him believe maybe he did have a good heart, underneath all his disguises and facades. She had seen him in the loony bin, the one circumstance of his life that made him feel unworthy of any woman's love and affection since before his infarction (especially Cuddy's, whose love he had been secretly longing for, for such a long time, but which he now felt he'd never attain, Mayfield being the final nail in the coffin of any chance he ever stood with her), and yet, despite his status as a committed lunatic, Lydia had not merely been attracted to him, but had enjoyed him, maybe even loved him, despite where they had found each other and where their relationship had formed its essence. She could appreciate his playfulness, his propensity for stirring the waters, even join him in his attempts; all things that served to increase his attraction to her. But she had also been the first person with whom he genuinely tested out Nolan's theory, and found it true; that trusting others could be something pleasant, rather than something ending in the loss of someone's respect and things even worse than that. House was a man who needed to be respected, for something, because so much of him was not respectable or publically acceptable. Lydia had withstood the test. And he himself had reaped the rewards, finally making progress towards his return to the world outside. He would eternally be grateful to her for that.

When House asked her why she had kissed him that first time, Lydia had given him the gift of knowing he was worthy of her finding him likeable. And in return, he'd given her the only gift he knew how to give, playing a song for her on the piano to show her that he also liked her, because he couldn't yet say that in words. Voicing his feelings was not just awkward but still something out of reach. She'd brought him Dvorák so that they could play together, something as complicated as he was, as complicated as any relationship between them could and would prove to be, something that required the two of them because neither one could pull it off themselves. But he had walked away, pushing her away, as he always did when he was scared. Amazingly enough, when he came back to her, he had admitted to her that fear was why he'd done it. When did he ever admit fear to anyone?! Feelings were meant to be buried or deflected, not exposed. But Lydia had freed him to expose himself, at least in small doses. Progress was progress. He'd danced with her then, comforted her in her sorrow over her sister-in-law, Annie's continual lack of progress and her own self-declared status of being "pathetic." He'd made love to her. It HADN'T been sex. Not like what he generally paid for anyway. If you could set aside the fact that she was married, it had been a thing of beauty; slow, tender, and racked with emotion. He hadn't experienced that in a very long time, certainly not with any woman since Stacy. Of course, the only women since Stacy had been prostitutes, but…still.

The very act between Lydia and himself that night had brought a dose of unexpected and overwhelming healing to him. She had made things "good," rather than miserable or just barely survivable. He suddenly found himself not wanting to ever live without that feeling again, which for House meant he didn't want to live without her either. Because she was the only one who seemed able to give that to him now.

Dr. Nolan had once asked him what the ending to the story would be. House hadn't known. He couldn't. You never knew the end until the story actually…ended. You could guess, but you couldn't know for certain. How could he know that the event which would bring her the most happiness, Annie's sudden recovery, would be the event leading to his greatest personal sorrow while in Mayfield? How could he have known when he took her hand that day, taking such pleasure in the simple act and the knowledge that she was about to experience a taste of what surely for her would be heaven on earth and that he'd be a part of giving her that, that the end was right there around the corner? It turned out that the ending to the story was that Lydia would leave, and while he wanted to, he wouldn't be able to prevent it. He hadn't wanted her to go. She hadn't necessarily wanted to either. She had said as much. But he couldn't fault her for choosing her children over tearing her family apart to be with him. Neither life, nor love, was ever without complications. And he knew that his real issue was that he didn't want it to change, not that they wouldn't both be able to pick up and move on, without one another. He hadn't yet loved her, loved her; but he had been willing to. He had reached the point of considering that maybe he'd be capable of not messing up quite so much in a relationship, or that just possibly, his mess-ups could be overcome. And then she was gone. Who knew in being lost without her, he'd be found, or at least, offered liberty from Mayfield to try and return to the world beyond?

House had climbed on the bus upon his release from the psychiatric hospital with one goal in sight. And that goal was to restore his life, maybe even find some happiness in the process. He contemplated what that would require. The first was obvious and he would do whatever it took to get his job back at PPTH. The second took much longer to acknowledge, though it had always been there within him, just never admitted to himself, especially after Mayfield for it seemed to be the impossible dream; he would become a better man, and the real purpose of that was to end up being the man he had to be to win Lisa Cuddy's heart, if that was even possible. But again, that wasn't something he recognized immediately upon his departure. Lydia had meant too much and the grief of losing her was still too real, to acknowledge willingly that Lydia might not be the one he was destined to spend his life with, the one he'd loved all along.

Now, here he was, somehow agreeing to live with Wilson temporarily while he picked up the pieces of his life he'd dropped prior to his departure for Mayfield. He was making strides towards rebuilding. He was back at PPTH, even though that didn't mean he was back in the role he'd had before. But he was there, and he was working, waiting for his medical license to be restored and trying to comply with Cuddy's rules of "no procedures, no patient contact" until he was given back what he'd lost in temporarily losing his mind. The wonderful part of that was, at least he didn't have clinic to do. The hard part of that was he still didn't have what he wanted, and therefore, happiness proved elusive.

-----

"Let us pause in life's pleasures and count it's many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears
Oh, hard times come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times come again no more
Many days you have lingered
Around my cabin door
Oh, hard times come again no more

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh, hard times come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times come again no more
Many days you have lingered
Around my cabin door
Oh, hard times come again no more

'Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave
'Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
'Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh, hard times come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times come again no more
Many days you have lingered
Around my cabin door
Oh, hard times come again no more

Oh, hard times come again no more"


Song: "Hard Times Come Again No More" (Kate & Anna McGarrigle)