Anger carries her fist towards the door. Knuckles, blooming blotchy red, rap on wood. "Open up, you selfish son of a bitch."
Her hair flutters around her face when the door swings open. Momentum propels her fist into his breastbone, and he staggers. She steps inside, gathers handfuls of his shirt, and drives him against the door. Air rushes out of him, and he tries, too late, to cover the shock on his face.
"You should really consider going out for the Jets' next open try-outs," he says.
"No. No jokes." Cuddy stands on her tiptoes, nose to nose with him. "Three times, House."
He blinks. His wide gaze flickers from her eyes to her lips.
"I've had to watch you die three times."
"Almost die, and technically you only had to watch twice. The Bitch got the VIP treatment this time."
"And next time?" She presses her fists into his chest.
House pauses; he works his jaw, but produces no words. When he manages to speak, he addresses the floor. "Cuddy, I—"
"I work so hard to keep you alive, House." She butts his shoulder with her forehead. Her hands flatten on his chest. His heart beats, strong and fast. "But you—" She drags her fingertips down his body. Warm, solid, alive. "—you don't care."
He toys with a curl of her hair. "I know you do," he says. His finger traces her jaw and raises her chin. "I care." He breathes the words against the corner of her mouth and presses a kiss to her bottom lip, tentative and chaste. House's hands rest on her shoulders. Purple-red burns color the skin of his left.
Another kiss falls on her cheek.
Her chest aches, twists, as she steps backwards. House's arms drop to his sides and his mouth hangs agape at her. "Cuddy," he says. He reaches for her hand. "I care."
Cuddy shakes her head. She sidesteps him and curls her fingers around the doorknob. The warmth of his kisses still burns on her skin. Her breath catches—a hiccup in her throat. "Not enough, House," she whispers.
Through a watery blur, she turns the knob and steps over the threshold.