A/N: Well, here we are, at the end of the road... :( Yes, this is the final chapter. When I started this I wasn't sure how long it would go on for - I never really have any clue - but last chapter was very fluffy... And I don't usually write House/Cuddy fluff. So the fluffiness was I'm sure my muse telling me that this was nearing it's close.
I thought I'd wrap it up before I work on anything else so my mind is clear. It's a bit hectic atm, what with House Rules having just gone up and two ideas being penned (shameless self pimping, why not check it out if you liked this? :P)
Anyway, here is the end. So, how about one last review for old times sake? I have an idea, why doesn't everyone who has this on Alert or Favourite review? Then it'd be mammoth success... Or not. :P Kidding!
BIG BIG BIG Thank you to everyone who took the time to review, especially those who reviewed every chapter. I'm glad you've enjoyed it, hopefully as much as I've enjoyed writing it! :D XXX
Btw, I know this is quite short... But think of it as sort of an epilogue. They're usually shorter...right? xx
Blinking her eyes open, Cuddy slowly became aware of the world again. Sight, check. She could see the sun coming through the curtains. Hearing, check, she could hear her own breathing. Smell... ugh. She kind of wished that her sense of smell wasn't quite awake yet, as she smelled disgusting. She hadn't showered in like...two days? And that was just gross.
Breathing in deeply and wrinkling her nose at the odour, she frowned, catching the whiff of another person in the mix. It was partly the same as her, sweat and grit and dust (delightful), but...there was something else. Something distinctly manly.
She turned her head to the side and saw House sleeping there, his eyes closed and breathing evenly, indicating peaceful sleep. Back up... House was in her bed? Looking like...well, like he did. He was dusted a shade of grey and had pieces of rubble stuck in his hair. Cuddy had a though and reached up her own hand, only to scrub out the same cursory shower of tiny rocks.
So back to the big elephant in the room. House, and her, in bed. She assumed that they hadn't done anything - due to the fully clothed-ness and her deeply unattractive sling. Dear God, was the clompy velcro made for a 300lb man?
Then, in a rush of memory, it all came flooding back to her. The collapse, the ambulance, the hospital, Lucas... and House and her professing their love for each other. She felt her heart rate slow as it all sunk in a bit more. She remembered screaming to herself underground and promising to tell him how she felt. As she looked on proudly, she felt empowered. She never broke her promises. Well, rarely.
Laying her throbbing skull on her soft pillow, she marvelled at the wonders of morphine. Her memory of the last few days was hazy and clouded, and if she didn't have House asleep next to her as proof she would have just thought that everything had been a dream.
In fact, she couldn't remember House coming to bed with her. She remembered the drive home (stress at it's best) and getting Rachel in... But not House falling asleep beside her. Or, judging by the loose rocks on his t-shirt, her falling asleep on him. Watching him closely, she gleaned that he was a deep sleeper - well, her two minutes of observation and a life time of ignored middle of the night and nap time pages. So, very gently, she laid her head back on his broad chest.
She could hear his heartbeat in her ears and feel his chest moving up and down with respiration and she felt her drift shut. She knew that as soon as he woke up he would revert back to his normal persona and be all sarcastic and rude and what have you, so she especially savoured this rare moment of pure, unadulterated peace.
That was, of course, disrupted after less than sixty seconds.
House opened one eye. "Your hair is tickling my nose."
Cuddy squeezed her eyes shut even tighter than before. All she wanted was five minutes to pretend that hadn't just got involved with the most screwed up person in the world. Five minutes. Was that too much to ask?
"And are you breathing or is a steam train puffing? 'Cause I can't tell the difference," he groaned, swatting her head of his chest gently.
"Good morning to you too," she replied, head still buried in his chest, despite his whining.
"I'd be more okay with this arrangement if it was reversed," House said obnoxiously, though obviously. She wondered how long it would take him to say something - anything - about her breasts. This must be about three minutes into the day. Oh goody.
"House," she murmured, "I'm hungry."
"So am I," he replied, showing no signs of getting up.
"Please?" She asked wearily, not even joking. She was exhausted, hadn't taken any pain medication, and was utterly starving. "House, this is one of the few times where I'm actually going to need you to be a grown up for me."
House opened his mouth to reply with a childish "I'm never going be a grown up" remark, but decided against it. He knew that she took a big risk for him by leaving Lucas, and he knew that if he wanted this to work out - which he most certainly did - he'd have to give a little to get a little.
Still, being House, he tried giving it one more shot. "My leg hurts."
"I hurt," Cuddy countered, "I want the blueberry muffin from the breadbin."
"Yes mistress," he answered grumpily, not seeing the smile she was giving his back when he went off to get it.
He returned quickly with preferred breakfast at hand, along with some food for himself, and practically threw it at her. "Eat, woman," he commanded, "then we can talk."
She raised an eyebrow. "We're talking n - "
"Shh!" He interrupted, holding his hand up. "Food first, then words."
She knitted her eyebrows, not sure what he meant. Then she reminded herself that this was House and if she was actually going to make a go of this properly she was going to have to get used to his oddities. Cautiously, she took a bite of her muffin. As soon as the starchy mix hit her mouth, she realised that she didn't want to eat this. She did vaguely remember someone saying to stay off solids for a few days - something that evidently forgotten.
She turned to him. "Want to eat my muffin, honey?" She smirked.
House smiled at her. "Right now? I wouldn't have thought you'd be up to it, but I'm game if you are..." He slid his hand up her thigh, deliberately misunderstanding and referring to a different "muffin".
She gave him a reproachful look...and shoved the muffin into his open mouth. "Shut up," she told him, and for once, he had to.
Cuddy watched on as he struggled to free himself from her evilly inflicted muffin torture. If this was how their relationship was after five minutes, could they last five hours? Let alone a month, or more. Not that she didn't enjoy it... But she wasn't sure how it would last.
Only time would tell, she accepted, settling along for the ride.
One Year Later.
House and Cuddy hurriedly jumped off his motorbike together, surveying the damage. They'd all been called out, a skyscraper-in-progress had collapsed over during the construction, causing chaos and all types of unbridled destruction.
"Reminds me of something..." House shouted to her, his hands resting protectively on her hips. Somehow, magically, miraculously, they had managed to be together for a whole year. It had been accompanied with many fights, many shouting matches, tricks, inappropriate physical relations in inappropriate public places and a whole multitude of things that Cuddy hadn't imagined herself ever to be doing.
"Me too!" She shouted back, pulling away, desperate to get in there and help people. She knew that this time it was important for them to check all the nooks and crannies for trapped people. She'd been lucky last time that there were people around. She heard about a woman called Hannah, or Anna, or something, who'd been trapped in a completely out of the way location and hadn't made it. She didn't want that to happen to anyone else.
"I'm going over there!" She yelled to him.
"Be careful!" He replied. Cuddy had been amazed that while he'd been the same old jerk mostly, he was oddly protective of her. And, safe to say, she liked it.
"I will," she smiled, kissing him hurriedly before sprinting off to assist with the emergency care.
House turned and hobbled off, ready to find some place to sit quietly in until Cuddy came a lookin'. Just because she thought he was assisting with the chaos didn't mean he was, or anything. She knew him well enough for that.
He barely been sitting for fifteen minutes when Cuddy ran over. "I need your cane," she panted, holding her outstretched palm out.
"Why?" He inquired, clutching it tighter.
"Because I'm going to use it to go and dig out a tunnel," she explained, tripping over her words and mangling her english.
"Careful," he warned, handing it over.
"Yeah," she murmured, not paying attention.
He watched her nimbly clamber up the mangled rock and slip in through a minute hole in it. He felt his chest tighten. Not once in the past year had she ended up in a potentially deathly situation, so House had forgotten this feeling, the one where - not for lack of trying - his heart beat a hundred times faster until he saw her or held her again.
It just goes to show that -
House was jolted from his thoughts by an almighty boom that came from somewhere up ahead. He glanced up fearfully, then saw that then abstract rock face was no longer there, just a cloud of swirling dust.
"She's trapped under there!"
"There's two people down there!"
"We need to get them out!"
"We need eyes down there!"
Choruses of words that were all too familiar to House rang through the air, alerting him and enlightening him to what was really happening.
Oh great, he thought, here we go again...