Title: Of unexpected meetings and friendship
Summary: Sometimes unexpected meetings lead to great friendships.
Season/Sequel: post Help me for House MD.
Archives: my website, others ask please, I never refuse
Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money; I just do it for fun.
Author's Note: Written for the Elizabeth Weir Fest on LJ (otl_fest) to the prompt: "Elizabeth Weir and Lisa Cuddy both had very difficult jobs and difficult men to handle". This is not in the same verse as my other Atlantis/House crossovers. Many thanks to Jaclyn for the beta job, as always!
"Why do we put up with them, again?" Lisa Cuddy asked the other woman at the table, who chuckled at the question.
"Sometimes, I do wonder."
Elizabeth Weir smiled at Cuddy's reply.
She had met the doctor in the lobby of the hotel they had both been staying at, two years ago. She had literally bumped into her and her, thankfully, lukewarm coffee had stained Cuddy's once immaculate shirt. She had apologized profusely and had even offered to pay for the cleaning, but the other woman had only agreed to a coffee.
After that first coffee, they had spent more time together, having found that they were more alike than what they would have thought. They were both women in charge in a men's world, and never backed down even when faced with challenges. All in all, the week they had had to spend in Washington, Elizabeth for meetings with the President and the IOA regarding Atlantis, and Cuddy for a medical conference, had gone by without any of them really noticing.
They had decided to keep in touch after that week, and exchanged e-mails at least once a week, more often if one or the other needed to vent about work and their colleagues.
This was how Elizabeth had first heard about one Doctor Gregory House. Whenever the head of the Diagnostic Department of PPTH did something to annoy his boss, which sometimes could happen once a day, she would receive an e-mail with many details on the best way to kill him. She hoped that Cuddy would never go through with her murderous ideas, otherwise she would be asked to be a witness for prosecution. She had also turned to Elizabeth after Joy's failed adoption, and her subsequent kiss with House, asking for advice on what to do next. She had been the first to know about her dating Lucas, and a few months later, about his proposal.
But Elizabeth hadn't been surprised at all when she received an e-mail the next day to tell her about the break-up with Lucas, and her decision to try and see if she and House could make it work. She had actually been the one to force Cuddy to confront her feelings for the other doctor, and never believed it when she was told that she didn't love him. She had known better and was happy that her friend had decided to give them a chance at a relationship.
In return, Elizabeth had sent Cuddy e-mails whenever things took a bad turn. She never went into details, never revealed classified information, but she had often asked her to be her rebound wall, to give her advice. With Cuddy, she could talk freely about everything and anything, something she couldn't do on Atlantis, not even with Teyla or John, her two closest friends there. They were working with and for her, and there were just some things she couldn't discuss with a co-worker.
She had also asked for her advice when her relationship with John evolved into something else, something more. It had happened after Carson's death; they had sought the other out, needing the comfort the other provided for them. That first night after that fateful Sunday, they had naturally crossed the line from friends and co-workers to lovers.
Cuddy had reassured her many times after she told her about the IOA breathing down their neck, and like any other girl friend had asked for details. Elizabeth had confided in her when their personal relationship had been strained by their working one, and had returned the advice after Cuddy started to date House.
They had often joked about how they should have a double date to see which of them got the worst of the two men, both claiming that they would win. But tonight, as Elizabeth and John were on Earth for a week, and visiting her mother, they were finally able to do it.
As they sat at the dining table, a very awake Rachel on her mother's lap despite the late hour, they watched their men argue about Johnny Cash Vs. The Rolling Stones. They didn't really know how that had started, and didn't really want to know.
"You think they'll end up agreeing?" Cuddy asked.
"Oh, they will agree. That the other is in the wrong, that is."
"Yeah, I thought so, too." She paused, before turning her gaze to the woman sitting across from her. "So, you're going to tell me where you work, one day?"
"Who knows? Maybe one day we'll need Greg's expertise..."
"Just as long as you give him back after you're done."
"You love it there."
It was more a statement than it was a question, and Elizabeth smiled in answer.
"Despite everything that can happen, the dangers lurking in the shadows, I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. It is home."
Cuddy could see in her eyes that she meant every word she said. She often wondered how a diplomat, who had spoken against the use of the armed force many times in the past, ended up working for the US Air Force. But she guessed, that unless one day, she found out what her job really was, she would never be able to understand it. But she supposed that whatever it was, it was worth it.
"You remember the six weeks I barely gave you any news?" Elizabeth asked, her eyes clouding as she remembered those days.
"Of course. I tried to make you talk, but I couldn't get through. You were avoiding my questions. And then, one day, you were back to the Elizabeth I know. As if it all changed overnight."
"Well, it did. I can't tell you everything, you know that, but I can explain a few things. During that time, I was back in the States. Something came up, and we all had to come back here. Without any warning. Despite everything we did. I settled in a new flat, and I started screening my calls, didn't talk to anyone, not even to the boys, even though they all tried. For six weeks."
"I wish we made our little intervention a bit sooner," John said, remembering that time, as he and House took their places back at the table.
"It wouldn't have changed anything, you and I both know that," she replied, squeezing the hand he was resting on the table. "Anyway. One evening, the boys finally talked me into dinner with them."
"We wouldn't take no for an answer," he interrupted her, earning him a glare.
"During dinner, our cell phones rang," she continued. "Something had happened. Again, you know I can't get into details. We didn't think about what could happen to us, we just went back there, defying direct orders. And then we were home."
"And that was when you started writing long e-mails again."
Tears welled up in Elizabeth's eyes as she remembered that time. Those six weeks were still something she didn't like to talk about to anyone, not even to John. She had felt lost without Atlantis. As if sensing her feelings, John pressed a quick kiss to her temple, and squeezed her hand.
"How can your work be so important to you?" House asked, ending the moment.
"You don't understand," John was the one to reply. "This may look like just like any other job for you, but for us, not just for me and Elizabeth but for everyone else too, this means so much more. This is home. The only place some of us can call home for a very long time. And we have a duty here, one we can't just turn our backs to."
"You military...," House muttered but they could all hear him clearly.
"You always put your work above anything else, always try to make people see your way..."
"House!" Cuddy stopped him. "That was not necessary."
"Leave him, Lisa. I can understand what he thinks, and why he thinks that. I was quite the same before. Maybe less cynical, but basically the same."
"Before what?" House couldn't help but ask, wondering what could have made her change her views on the military."
"Well, before a meeting with the President. Of the United States," she added, knowing that the question was on their minds. "It seems like a lifetime ago, now." She paused, remembering the first time she had heard about the Stargate Program. "You know. I hope that one day, we can show you. That one day, you will be able to understand what we mean."
"I think I do, in a way," Cuddy said, smiling at Elizabeth. "You feel responsible for your work, and for everything there. It's just logical that you felt that way when something took it away from you."
"Of course, you would understand as you feel just the same for your precious little baby. I was talking about the hospital here, not Rachel," he added when she sent him a look. "Now about our previous conversation," he said, turning towards John. "I still say the Rolling Stones win hands down!"
"What? No! Have you ever listened to Johnny Cash's songs? The lyrics are so powerful, they..."
Elizabeth and Cuddy rolled their eyes at them, tuning them out as they left the table and went to the other side of the room to argue. They both still thought that they were right and that the other was wrong, meaning that no one could win the argument any time soon.
"About your question," Elizabeth started, but as she saw Cuddy's blank look, she clarified. "The 'why do we bother putting up with them' one."
"Oh, that one! So, what about it?"
"I think I know the answer. We put up with them because we love them. I think it's as simple as that."
"Yeah, you might be right. But we'd better not tell them that. They would think they can do anything they want just because of that."
"And we don't want that."
They started to laugh, and when Rachel started clapping her hands as if she approved with what had been said, they laughed even louder. Finally, after a good minute or two, they calmed down, wiping a few tears from their eyes. They could still hear John and House arguing in the corner, as if they didn't even hear them.
"Rachel has gotten so big," Elizabeth mused out loud, remembering the first time Lisa had sent her photos of the infant who had turned into the toddler sitting before her.
"I know. Believe me, I know. I can't believe she'll turn two in a few weeks. It still feels like yesterday when I first held her in my arms."
"How is it going lately, between House and her?"
"Better and better. She loves it when he plays the piano, and often asks that he plays for her. It's a good thing they're bonding around that, and I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up playing the piano too, one day. She called him papa for the first time, the other day. He was completely stunned by it, and I'm not sure he completely recovered, even now. I don't even know where she picked it up! I didn't say anything, and I don't think Marina did."
"Who knows how kid's brains work? Maybe she picked it up in one of her cartoons and decided she had to call Greg that." Elizabeth shrugged, smiling, before she continued. "I'm happy for you, Lisa. I'm happy that you have finally got everything you wanted."
"Thank you. It's been a long road, but we're finally there. What about you? Anything you'd like to tell me?" she asked, looking at her straight in the eyes, a smile playing on her lips.
"No, nothing. We... Well, we talked about it, and we've decided to try for a baby," Elizabeth finally admitted under her friend's scrutiny.
"That's wonderful news. You'll make a great mother. I've seen you earlier with Rachel, when I was making dinner. You're a natural."
"Well, let's hope that you're right. But we have time for that."
"Time for what?" John asked as he and House joined them again, apparently done with their disagreement for the night.
As soon as he had sat down, House had Rachel on his lap, as she had asked for him. Elizabeth smiled at the sight, wondering once more if it was the same Gregory House that Cuddy once described as someone who couldn't stand children.
"Time for what?" John repeated his question, jolting her from her thoughts.
"I was telling Lisa about our little project," she replied, and she saw on his face that he immediately understood what she meant.
"What? You got a bun in the oven?"
"No, not yet," she answered, rolling her eyes at him, playfully.
"So, you're done with arguing who's the best singer of all time?" Cuddy asked, wondering who had won it in the end.
"We agree to disagree," John told her, and House narrowed his eyes at him.
"I still think..."
"Come on, House," Cuddy interrupted him, not wanting them to continue arguing. "Be fair play. Remember what the great philosopher Jagger said: 'You can't always get what you want'," she said, throwing what he told her once, years ago, back at him.
"Yeah, yeah. Well, you could help us, actually. So, the Rolling Stones or Johnny Cash?" he asked, and he and John both looked at them expectantly.
Elizabeth and Cuddy looked at each other, shared a smile, and answered at the same time.
They watched as their men's eyes widened, as if they had suddenly grown a second head, and started to laugh again.