Cuddy finished typing the last letter of the impending proposal and began to close all the windows that were open on her computer. She shut them down one by one, glad that House's case had been solved and that she had no paperwork to moderate, or risky procedures to not approve.
It also meant that she got to leave relatively early. Early enough that Rachel would still be a bundle of energy when she got home. She knew House was already there, probably gloating at his own ability to diagnose someone based on the colour of their shoes.
Victory sex for him tonight, she smirked. His leg would be at it's most painless and so they'd get the chance to really enjoy each other, and take their time.
She clipped her briefcase shut and walked out of her office, locking the door behind her. The clinic was empty and closed, and all the night nurses were assigned to other floors. It was eerily quiet, but she scoffed at herself, rationalizing that there was nothing to be worried about.
She still couldn't shake that feeling, though.
The elevator got to the darkened parking garage, and Cuddy made a mental note to tell maintenance to replace the bulbs. It was almost impossible to find her keys, she thought, as she searched through her handbag.
There was a noise on from the other side of the carpark, and Cuddy stiffened. She turned around slowly and breathed out when she saw that nothing was there - even though she already knew that.
Shaking her head at her own pathetic-ness, she went back to the task at hand. She was so lost in her own thoughts that she didn't even have time to register someone coming up behind her, and whacking the back of her head.
He even caught her before she hit the concrete, so she didn't make a sound.
"House," Rachel asked, putting on her most angelic face, "where's Mommy?"
House sighed. "I don't know."
"Why?" She wheedled, having become increasingly inquisitive in recent months. Her favourite thing to answer with was 'why', and House was exhausted from having to explain everything that piqued the little girl's interest.
"That's a dumb answer."
Rachel stuck her hands on her skinny hips. "You're boring when you're tired."
"And you're annoying when you're awake," he countered, not feeling particularly considerate of Rachel's feelings.
Her vigour faded. "I just asked where Mom was," she murmured, looking hurt.
"She's... on her way. That's the best I can do."
"Okay," Rachel accepted, then shuffled out of the room.
House winced, knowing that she would tell Cuddy about this. And then Cuddy would get mad, and he would get mad back, and...they'd shout and end up seething for the night.
Checking the time, House whipped out his phone. If the fight was inevitable, he'd rather get it over with. He got Cuddy's voicemail.
Hey, you've reached Dr Lisa Cuddy, please leave a messa -
House hung up, and dialed another number automatically. "Where are you?"
"At work," Wilson replied, "where are you?"
"At home. I've just made the kid cry, and I'm going to be punished." He paused. "And not in a good way."
"What? House, what did you - "
"I'm not calling for a lecture - though no doubt you're going to give it to me anyway. Listen, I need you to go down to Cuddy's office and tell her to hurry her big ass home."
"You know that I'm not your errand boy, right?" Wilson answered.
"Past experience would tell me differently," he replied. "Come on. We both know that all those people you're currently charting on are going to be dead before the ink is even dry."
"House, some of us take our professional responsibilities seriously."
"Yeah, yeah, I'm a bad person with no morals, get over it." He paused. "I'm still waiting to hear you walking to Cuddy's office."
"You're impossible, you know that?" Wilson said, but he got up all the same and began walking.
"Atta boy, Wilson," House crowed, hearing footsteps. "You're looking more and more like a doormat everyday."
"You know I'm doing something for you, right? Usually you don't insult someone who's helping you out."
"Actually, usually I do. Just one of the many things Cuddy find's so irresistable about me," he joked, pressing the phone into his ear. "My hand is getting tired, can we hurry this up? Break into a run, or a skip."
"As attractive as that would be, I'd rather not break my ankle," Wilson said as he pressed the elevator button. "So... how are things with Cuddy?"
There was pause. "Good? House, my cereal this morning was good. What's going on?"
"Nothing. Everything's fine, we're going great. She sexy, smart, funny... Practically a goddess of a woman. And I am very happy to be the one groping her on a daily basis. Better?" House smirked.
"Yes," Wilson answered warily as he walked through the clinic. "Why did you sound so... odd when I asked first?"
"I didn't want you stick that nose of yours into my business."
Wilson chuckled. "You think after three years together you'd be okay with people knowing you have a strong relationship..."
"And you'd think that after three years together you'd stop asking me incessantly how things are going. Wilson, we can handle it."
"Alright," Wilson muttered, opening the door to Cuddy's office. "House, she's not here."
"Unless she's hiding under the desk, yes, I'm sure," Wilson quipped.
"House, talk to Rachel. Cuddy must be on her way home, so if you and Rachel patch things up before then, I doubt there'll be a fight. Make sense?"
"Perfectly. There's no way I'm gonna do it, but it makes sense all the same."
Wilson sighed. "Night House."
Wilson was making his way down to the parking garage about half an hour later, texting Sam that he was going to be home soon.
He walked across the parking lot to his car, and was about to unlock it when he saw the familiar black hybrid parked a few spots away.
It looked like Cuddy's car.
Frowning, he went to investigate. The car looked fine, but when he rounded it he saw Cuddy's bag on the floor and a suspicious dark stain next to it.
He gulped. He knew what blood looked like.
He whipped out his phone and dialed 911. "I think... I'm not sure what's happened, but my friend is gone and her bag and blood is on the floor. Yes. Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital."
He hung up, heart beating faster. "House," he said when the line picked up, "I think you should get down here."
House groaned. "I don't care how fast they're dying, I don't want another case!"
"Spit it out," he hurried.
"Cuddy's car is still here, but she's not in the hospital. Her bag is on the floor and there's blood next to it." Wilson said as fast as could.
There was silence on the other end, then, "I'll be there in five."
Then all Wilson heard was the dial tone.
House raced down to Rachel room, where she was dressing up a doll. "Come on," he instructed, picking her up from under the arms and tucking on his hip.
"House!" Rachel squealed. "Put me down!"
"We're going to find Mommy," he said, grabbing his cane and running out the door.
"But - you said - I... I don't understand!" Rachel whimpered, as House shoved her in the backseat.
"Just... Ssh, kid, alright? Something's..." He stopped as he turned on the ignition. He didn't want to scare the kid.
Rachel sat quietly in the back, and House kept peering in the mirror so he could see. He knew he was driving way too fast, but... But something could have happened. To his Cuddy. There wasn't a speed limit in the world that would keep him from getting there as fast as he could.
"House?" Rachel asked quietly. "I haven't... got any shoes."
"S'okay," House replied immediately, pulling into the carpark. He winced when he saw the two squad cars that were there.
"Why are there cops?" Rachel asked, again quietly. She could sense that something was wrong.
"I don't know," House muttered, opening the door. "Come on, kid."
"But I haven't got any - " Rachel began, pointing to her bare feet. "Shoes," she finished, and burst into tears.
House was long out of the car. "What happened?" He demanded as he found Wilson.
"They're looking now. Apparently there's evidence of foul play," Wilson relayed.
"Since she's gone, I'd say it was 'apparent'." House snarled.
"House..." Wilson started. "They don't know anything for sure yet. That blood might not even be hers! Some kid could've scraped their knee."
"It's fresh, Wilson."
"I know but - "
"It's not a coincidence."
There was a frosty silence. One of the policemen saw him, and moved over. "Are you Greg House?"
"Yeah," he answered.
"Can we ask you a couple questions?" The detective asked.
"Sure," House ran a hand through his hair.
"Can you think of anyone who might want to hurt your partner?"
House thought. Sure, there were some people who didn't like her but he honestly couldn't think of anyone who'd take her. Not like this. "No."
"Can you think of anyone who might want to hurt you?"
House froze. "Are you saying this is my fault?"
The detective looked up from his notepad. "These are just routine questions, doctor." The detective narrowed his eyes. "Do you have a reason to think that this might be your fault?"
House swallowed. "Nothing directly."
"Indirectly?" The detective pressed.
House knew that there were many people out there who seriously did want to hurt him. He also knew that lots of those people he wasn't aware of, and wasn't therefore aware of what they were capable of. "A lot of people don't like me," he settled with.
The detective made a note. "Dr House..." he trailed off. "I've seen a picture of Lisa..."
"So?" House growled.
"Are you aware of the string of abductions that have been taking place in and around New Jersey over the last couple of years?"
"What?" House asked.
"Successful women between thirty and forty-five. Usually dark-haired." He paused. "I don't want to alarm you but she definitely fits the pattern. And all the other victims were taken in a similar way."
"Eight other women, over two years."
"What happened to them?" House demanded.
"Dr House, until we have more evidence then I don't think we should discuss the specifics. I was just warning you that that is path we'll explore. I'll take your number and if we find anything you'll be the first to know." The detective assured.
"Tell me." House said lowly.
"It's not necessary now," the detective said diplomatically. "It's more important that you focus on taking care of your daughter."
the detective frowned. "The little girl who came with you, who's with your friend?"
"Oh... Of course," he straightened up. "How long were these women gone for?"
"I told you that I can't - "
"Did they survive?"
"That's a no then," House put his head in his hands.
"We're going to do everything that we can to find her," the detective promised.
"No," House replied, "do more."
Cuddy blinked her eyes open, but she could barely see anything.
It was pitch black.
She could feel a throbbing in the back of her head, and moved back to touch it. She felt something wet and knew that it was blood.
Where the hell was she?
She leapt back, slamming herself against the freezing stone of the wall. Her heart was racing and the adrenaline was pumping through her veins.
She was crying.
"It's okay..." A voice said, from somewhere.
Then a hand reached out to cup her cheek. She flinched, so the hand took a forceful hold. "Don't worry, sweetheart, we're going to take things slow..."