A/N Again, I'm sorry it's taken so long to get this posted. I've been dealing with a broken foot and trying to get ready to move my office to a new building. Thank you to everyone who's still reading this. And, hugs to everyone who has reviewed.
House was standing in front of the clinic desk when he heard the voice call his name. Smooth as honey, the slightly husky, Southern drawl could only belong to one person. He felt himself stiffen as he turned towards the sound. Looking up at him was the woman with whom he once thought he would spend his life.
"Hello, Greg," Stacey repeated as she rose up on her tip-toes to kiss his cheek. "How are you?"
"Stacy," House awkwardly greeted his ex. "What are you doing here?"
"I was in town and thought I would stop by for a visit," the lawyer told him. She kept one hand on his arm.
"Is Mark with you?" House asked as he took a step back. Her hand fell to her side.
"No," Stacey pretended she hadn't noticed him move away. "Mark and I are getting a divorce."
"I'm sorry to hear that," House told her with sincerity. He really didn't wish her ill. She had been an important part of his life for five years and then again when Mark was sick. House had hoped the couple could make their marriage last.
"Maybe we could go get a drink this evening and catch up?" Stacey asked him.
Before he could answer, House heard the unmistakable, rapid-fire click of heels on the tile behind him. He wasn't surprised when Cuddy stopped next to him. His wife gave his ex-girlfriend a polite, if frosty, smile.
"Stacey, what a surprise," Cuddy greeted the other woman.
Stacey's gaze dropped to where Cuddy's rounded tummy was visible under a dark purple blouse. "It looks like I'm not the only one who's full of surprises. Lisa, how are you?"
"I'm doing great." Cuddy smiled up at House. Only he would notice that the smile didn't quit reach her sapphire eyes. "I guess House didn't tell you the news. We're having twins."
Stacey flicked a glance at the wedding band on House's finger and then pasted on a rather constipated looking smile. "No, I just got here. He didn't have time. Congratulations."
"Thank you," Cuddy replied and then took House's left hand in her right. "Honey, I hate to interrupt, but we're going to be late for our appointment."
House tossed the chart he had been reading on the counter and grabbed his cane. Awkward didn't begin to describe this situation. He knew there would be hell to pay when Cuddy got him alone. 'Honey' was a sure sign that his wife was pissed.
"Stacey, it was great to see you again. Maybe we could get together for dinner while you're in town," Cuddy offered with the warmth of an iceberg.
"I would love to, but I'm only in town for a few hours." Stacey gave the couple a smile that didn't convince anyone. "It was good to see both of you again."
House said a quick goodbye as Cuddy led him to the elevator. They waited in silence for the door to open. Once they were inside the thankfully empty car, Cuddy jabbed at a random button and then rounded on him.
"What was she doing here?" Cuddy asked her husband.
"You can retract your claws," he told her. "I was as surprised as you were to see her."
"I don't want her anywhere near you," Cuddy stated in a tone that told him she meant business.
"Cuddy…" House started to explain but she cut him off.
"No, House. I mean it. I saw how she was looking at you. Her intentions couldn't have been clearer if she had been wearing a scarlet "A" on her chest." Cuddy dared him to deny her accusation.
"Are you finished?" House waited until she nodded. "That was just as uncomfortable for me as it was for you. You swooped in like the angel of death before I had a chance to tell her that we're married."
Cuddy blinked back tears. "I don't trust her."
"Neither do I," House quietly admitted. "I know she cheated on Mark."
"How?" Cuddy's blue eyes widened in understanding. "You and she….? When you were treating Mark?"
"Yeah," House looked at the floor. "It's not something I'm proud of. It was a huge mistake."
Cuddy looked up at him. "You promise you wouldn't…" She couldn't even make herself say the words.
House was truly horrified. "I can't believe you even have to ask. I thought you trusted me. Cuddy, since that night you came to my apartment, I haven't looked at another woman. Just the thought of it makes me feel sick."
"I do trust you, House. I just went a little nuts when I saw her kiss you. I think I just realized that I'm insanely jealous. I don't want another woman touching my husband." Cuddy looked down at herself and sighed. "And, I know I'm not exactly attractive right now."
"Hey, none of that." House leaned his cane against the wall and pulled her to him. He ran his hands down her arms and then gently cupped the swollen mound of her stomach. "I meant it when I told you that you've never looked sexier. Seeing you carrying these babies we created together turns me on faster than anything ever has."
"I love you," Cuddy whispered as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
House bent and kissed her deeply. They finally broke apart at the not so subtle clearing of a throat. House looked over Cuddy's shoulder and found the elevator door was now open. Two nurses and a cardiologist were standing in the hall. Cuddy's cheeks were flaming as she beat a hasty exit from the elevator. House just smirked as he grabbed his cane and followed her down the hall.
He stopped and looked around. "Cuddy?" he called. When she turned to face him, House asked, "Why are we on the Cardiac floor?"
Cuddy stuck her nose in the air and stalked back to the elevator. House watched her pass and then turned to follow her. He had never met anyone as passionate before. That was part of what attracted him to her.
House stopped next to her and leaned on his cane. "Do I have to worry about you clawing the eyes out of any woman who looks at me?"
Cuddy stared up at the numbers and felt her lips twitch. "Only the ones you've slept with."
"Should I type up a list?" he asked with a grin.
"That won't be necessary," Cuddy told him with a dainty sniff. "I'm sure I'll be able to spot the ones who have climbed Mount Gregory."
House snorted. "You know this works both ways, right?"
Cuddy looked up at her husband and smiled. "My list would be much shorter. Besides, who would want to put the moves on the Hindenburg?"
"And, that's twenty dollars you owe me," House told her with a smirk.
"What? Why?" Cuddy looked at him in confusion.
"Because, I'm not going to let the incredibly hot, mother of my children talk about herself that way," House grinned down at her. "Just remember, Cuddles, you started this."
Cuddy rolled her eyes. "You really are a pain in the ass."
House stepped to the side to allow a group of people exit the elevator. He held the door open so Cuddy could enter and the followed her inside. When the door closed, he hesitated before pushing a button.
"We don't really have an appointment, do we?" he asked.
"Nope." Cuddy reached over and pushed the button for the fourth floor where they wouldn't be likely to run into Stacy if she was still hanging around.
House took her hand and smiled. "Thank you for protecting my honor."
Cuddy returned the smile. "I didn't think the board would approve of the dean being arrested for assault and battery."
As the door opened, House squeezed her hand and then limped off of the elevator beside his wife. Lisa Cuddy-House was one formidable woman. He was beginning to realize that once she decided she wanted him, he had never stood a chance.
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When his best friend slid into the booth across from him, James Wilson ignored the older man. He continued to study the file in front of him as House stole several of Wilson's fries. He didn't look up as he slid the napkin holder House's way. He turned a page in the file as half of his tuna sandwich disappeared from his plate.
Wilson's head jerked up and he stared at his friend when House casually mentioned, "Stacey showed up today."
"What? Stacey? Here? Why?" Wilson sputtered. His eyebrows were nearly touching his hairline and his chocolate eyes were huge.
House took a drink of Wilson's soda and grimaced. "She wanted to get together for drinks later. Diet? Seriously, Wilson? Since when do we drink Diet Coke?"
"I'm trying to lose a few pounds." Wilson reached across the table and plucked his drink from House's hand. "So, what did you tell her?"
"Didn't have to tell her anything." House munched on another fry. "Cuddy swooped in like a Klingon Bird of Prey. Photon torpedoes were set for kill."
"Oh, my God. Cuddy saw the two of you together?" Wilson shut the file and gave House his undivided attention.
"Cuddy saw Stacey kiss me on the cheek." House smirked. "For a second, I thought Cuddy was going to rip her lips off."
Wilson leaned forward. He was practically vibrating with concern. "What did you tell Cuddy?"
"That she has nothing to worry about." House sat back and laid his arms on the back of the booth. "I'm finally married to the luscious Lisa Cuddy. She's already given me one great kid. We have two more on the way. Why would I screw that up for a walk down memory lane? And, by that I mean for sex with a woman who left me at one of the lowest points in my life and then used me to cheat on her paralyzed husband?"
"Wow." Wilson sat back and looked at his best friend with admiration. "House, I'm impressed. You really have changed."
"Maybe." House grinned. Messing with his best friend's head was his favorite pastime. "Or, maybe this is the real Greg House who's been hiding behind the miserable bastard."
Wilson raised an eyebrow. Before he had a chance to respond, Cuddy slid into the booth next to House. The younger man watched as the couple kissed. He couldn't miss the way House's right arm immediately wrapped around his wife and his hand unconsciously rubbed her stomach.
"Hola, Mamacita," House greeted his wife before he gave her another quick kiss.
Cuddy giggled as she returned the kiss and then turned her attention to Wilson.
"Wilson, I left a copy of the budget pages on your desk. The board will want to review them before we publish the final version." Cuddy smiled at her assistant dean. "I added that twenty-five thousand dollars we discussed to the Diagnostic Department's budget."
"Does this mean I get to hire a secretary?" House asked his wife.
"That twenty-five thousand is going into what I call your General Mayhem fund, House." Cuddy patted her husband's hand. "If you could refrain from destroying hospital property and keep your malpractice suits down, you could afford a secretary for yourself and each member of your team."
House heaved a theatrical sigh. "I guess Masters will have to keep answering my mail and returning my phone calls."
House was immediately concerned when Cuddy grimaced and stretched to the side. "What's wrong?" he asked as soon as he felt her stiffen.
"I think someone's doing jumping-jacks on my bladder." Cuddy stood and then leaned down to kiss her husband again. "As soon as I go pee, I'm going home. Will you be home for dinner?"
"I should be." House held her hand and looked up at her with concern. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Cuddy rolled her eyes. "I'm fine, House. But, I won't be if I don't get to a bathroom soon. I'll see you later."
House turned in the booth and he and Wilson watched as Cuddy quickly strode from the cafeteria.
"She's already starting to waddle," House remarked as he turned back around.
"I dare you to tell her that," Wilson quipped.
"I'm not stupid. I want to keep Little Greg attached to my body, thank you," House shot back.
"Chicken," Wilson couldn't resist taunting his friend.
"Dam straight," House answered unashamedly. "I believe in self-preservation. That little woman's scary when she's pissed. With all the hormones surging through her bloodstream, teasing her is like poking a stick at a rattlesnake."
Wilson laughed. "You could make a fortune offering pregnancy survival advice to other expectant husbands."
"That's not a bad idea. I could have a website." House toyed with one of Wilson's fries and studied the pattern on his friend's very ugly tie. He finally asked, "So, how would you feel about babysitting Junior this weekend?"
"Why?" Call him paranoid, but James Wilson was instantly suspicious. House never asked politely for anything. In Wilson's experience, House never asked. He manipulated.
"I want to take Cuddy into the city for an adult's only weekend." House finally looked at his friend. "We spent our honeymoon with a two year old and Cuddy was recovering from surgery. Made it kind of hard to get my freak on."
Wilson gave his friend a smug grin. "Must not have been too hard. You managed to get her pregnant."
"What can I say? My swimmers are as superior as the rest of me." House informed the younger man and then laughed when Wilson choked on his Diet Coke. When Wilson had stopped coughing, House asked, "So, will you babysit Saturday night?"
"Sure," Wilson replied with one condition. "Just make sure you hide the Beauty and the Beast DVD. I don't want that stupid song stuck in my head all weekend."
"Jimmy, you know that's her favorite movie." House smirked at Wilson. "Do you really want to deal with the meltdown when she can't find it? Cause, I gotta warn you, it ain't pretty."
"I take it you speak from experience." Wilson conceded defeat graciously. He naively figured he could distract the little girl with other choices.
"I gotta go make sure the children haven't killed our patient." House grabbed his cane and slid from the booth.
Wilson watched the older man limp from the cafeteria. He knew that he had been watching and waiting for House to return to his former, misanthropic state. And, he wasn't willing to relax his guard just yet. But even James Wilson, eternal pessimist concerning all things House, had to admit his best friend was different from the shell of a man who had suffered through a miserable, lonely existence. Wilson glanced at his now empty plate and sighed. House was still House. And, Wilson was surprised to realize that it was comforting that some things never changed.