Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Fox or the TV show House. I'm only borrowing some characters. The characters belong to David Shore and company.
Special Thanks to: Penny S Cartwright who squeezed my story into her Sunday itinerary and beta'd this 'til her eyes crossed from the length... Love you, Pen! :* Read her stories, people! Oh and her post-7x15 oneshot; our thought process practically mirrored each other's!
MeganKBaker for giving me her two cents re: this. :D
For more positive fics, RochelleRene also put up a roster of fics for therapy! ;D Go read, or write(it helps!)!
A/N: I wrote an ACTUAL ONESHOT! (gasp!) Though it took 17k+ words. LOL.
Anyway, this is not exactly how I wish things turned or will turn out... this was born out of the itching need to write something positive [for me and for you guys!] after the sucker punch we received after "Bombshells". I wouldn't go into detail about what I liked or disliked about the epi. but I'll say it wounded me just like everybody else... No, I won't stop writing just because of what happened. LOL. But Absence will be on hold until this semester is finished... *please hold on!* by 1st week of April. After that, it'll be summer vacay for me! YAY!
This oneshot was VERY therapeutic for me. And I just HAD to add that beautiful Pablo Neruda work!
I hope you guys love it!
For more or less twenty minutes of reading, I hope you guys would give up at least five minutes of your time into telling me if you liked it or felt it was missing something. :) I would really appreciate it :)
I'll spoil everyone now by saying this oneshot will have a happy ending. :)
I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
by Pablo Neruda
I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.
In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.
He stood there staring at her back as she walked away from him, from them. He saw her wiping furiously at her eyes as they watered and his heart stopped beating. Had he pushed her away for good? Had he sent her careening into that dead end and made her realize that he truly wasn't worth all the frustration, hurt, constant disappointment?
He couldn't have told her that he didn't take the vicodin because he did.
She was right. It wasn't the thought that she might die—or maybe not entirely, but it was his fear of feeling the pain.
The pain... He was afraid to feel the pain of losing her.
He was afraid of losing her and the pain it would bring him.
He just... couldn't.
And his pain, his fear of it, made him make everything revolve around him. Instead of making it about her— the way it should have been. She undoubtedly deserved better.
He loved her. He chose her. He'd always choose her. But it seems like the decision wasn't his to make. She'd gone. She walked away. He always knew she would. He always knew she would be the one to walk away.
Everything, every effort he made at making himself better, to make things work with her, to move towards a happiness he once didn't believe in, went down the drain. All because of a fucking pill he had taken to assuage his fear of emotional pain.
He saw her face, her disappointment and the hurt hovering over and enveloping her flesh before his eyes. He wounded her yet again.
He didn't deserve her. He didn't deserve anyone.
He would never be able to escape his fear of pain for anyone. He wouldn't be able to feel for anyone the way normal people do. He would never be able to be with someone, not even Cuddy, whenever they needed him most… because…
He just couldn't handle the emotional sting it would bring him.
He just… couldn't.
And he never would… and it didn't matter how badly he wanted to.
Why couldn't he do that?
With the rage and disappointment bubbling inside of him, House limped towards the door and slammed it shut as hard as he could, trying with all his strength to release at least an ounce of his self-loathing into the action. He wished he wasn't, but he was, truly, screwed up beyond repair. Why did she even believe in him in the first place? Why did he allow himself to believe he could change? Why did she tell him that she didn't want him to change when she wanted the opposite? The sound lifted an ounce of his guilt, and the rattle of the door frame awakened in him an anger in himself he hadn't expressed before. Stalking towards his desk, he placed both palms flat against it, staring at a distance, seething at his screwed up reflection on the window.
How could he have let temptation get to him when she needed him most? She needed him! All this time, she's been there for him, highs and lows, mad at him or not. She. Was. There.
But when it was time for him to step up to the plate and be there for her he bailed, and only reappeared with the help of narcotics… and he had been at her side... high. He did want to be there for her. HE DID. But he'd been one fucking coward to be there for her without any help from drugs. His fucked up psyche couldn't handle it anymore… It wasn't able to handle the emotions that had threatened to bubble onto the surface with every passing day, the news about her possibly dying. His gut wrenched at the thought of a world without her.
He couldn't make himself feel…
With the force of a raging tornado he brushed aside everything on his glass desk, uncaring if things broke or clattered to the floor, damaged. Damaged like the way he made others around him. He was toxic to everyone, even himself.
House slammed his fist against the glass desk, releasing his frustration on any inanimate object just because he couldn't take the ire of emotions inside him any longer. Three times, he hit it with both hands and it shattered under the brute force he had subjected it to.
He stood, panting, tears in his eyes, in the middle of his living room, his supposed solace, but now his own hell. He looked at the carnage at his feet, his hands bloodied by glass. He didn't feel the slightest bit relieved of any pinch of angst and anger towards himself and what he'd allowed to happen.
He quickly limped to his bathroom, gingerly dropping to lean back against his tub the way he had ten months ago. He took the orange pill bottle from his pocket and popped the cap off. He stared at the white salvation in front of him.
He had nothing to lose anymore.
He looked towards the wide-open door of his bathroom, remembering.
She wouldn't go walking in to save him this time... She just wouldn't.
He was as alone as the hours before she came waltzing in on his second-to-worst downfall, saving him.
House stared at the pills for a long while, contemplating taking them and drowning himself once again in misery. A misery he hadn't felt in months. It had been the most meaningful ten months of his life, notwithstanding those moments when either of them wanted to give up on each other.
Was it still salvageable, their relationship? Could it still be saved? Could he still be the man that she wanted him to be; the man he wanted himself to be for her? If he gave up the pills entirely, would she take him back and still love him as he was; crippled, emotionally-stunted, a bastard? He didn't know anymore.
The white pills taunted him, daring him. They called to him like demons, luring, seducing his senses, and urging him to just drown his agony with pills and alcohol.
Cuddy's face flashed into his mind… the night she'd been here for him. Out of nowhere, she came, saving him from himself yet again.
He had needed her, and she came.
But this time, she wouldn't be coming because she had just left. She left him to his pills, left him to his own self-destruction.
She had definitely given him the decision on what to do this time, not being there, not even planning to stop him from spiraling out of control again.
His fist closed around the pills while he tilted his head back, closing his eyes as he decided on what path he was going to take. It was a crucial decision which could change his life for the worse, or bring him back to his Ibuprofen days which were constantly filled with pain but made him less miserable; it would be back to square one.
You don't want to do this, not really… A part of him whispered. Don't go back there.
He could choose to continue taking the pills that had, almost two years ago, cost him his life, sanity, and brilliance, or he could choose to start all over again without the drugs.
He believed that people don't change, but as he thought of the ten months he had with Cuddy… he couldn't deny that he has changed. It didn't matter if he didn't do a complete 180, he did change. She made him a better person.
And though he was still the same selfish bastard he always was, he had toned down on being one. But he didn't understand why anything he did was not enough for Cuddy. He did care about her and her needs… and Rachel's.
Truth be told, she was his first priority. Hell, he chose her wholeheartedly over being a great doctor. He was willing to settle for 'good' for a change. He had told her that he'd always choose her. But her rank on his list was blurred out once he found out that there was a possibility that he could lose her. It scared the life out of him. And it fueled his fear from experiencing the pain of losing her, if it came down to it. He didn't know how he would have taken it if he lost her. He didn't know how to handle every ticking second knowing that the next could take her away from him.
So he distanced himself the way he had until he could find a way to be with her.
Thinking about it, he couldn't remember how it came down to taking vicodin so he could sit at her bedside.
He had desperately wanted to be with her, hold her hand, soothe her, and reassure her that everything would be alright. She knew that wasn't him. But she believed that he would come through for her and be with her.
Under the influence of drugs that had once too many a time destroyed him and his psyche. He'd been stoned when he came. Stoned because his convoluted mind thought the pills would numb the pain he felt when he knew she was sick and saw the state she was in. He was even able to make a joke about not sleeping with somebody else if she didn't make it. That had been the pills talking. He'd wanted to comfort her without the vicodin's presence in his system, but he truly was at a lost on how to do so.
So he took the pills, desperately wanting to be by her side. The thought of losing her was an incomparable torment; he had gone through enough. He took the pills to be by her side, the way she needed him to be, the way she deserved. He took the pills, to be able to monitor her closely and make sure she would pull through this health crisis that had befallen her.
That was where his logic had failed him.
He had taken the pills thinking that he was doing it for her when in fact, he did it for himself. Because of his cowardice. He had felt the need to protect himself somehow, shield himself. He had long been a slave to pain that he cowered away from any hint of it. And the vicodin had been his only source of solace. With or without reason, he'd taken them on his own convoluted volition.
And she found that out. Now there he was, alone again, staring at two demonic pills and lost in his own world of pain and misanthropy.
He stared down the pills in his palm, trying his best to keep a grip on his logical self.
For whatever reason, he'd been keeping his eyes on the pills but he couldn't bring it upon himself to go down that dark and lonely road again… he just couldn't.
After everything he'd gone through to rid himself of his addiction, he just couldn't relapse again. He couldn't let himself flush everything down the drain.
He had tasted happiness with Cuddy… he had found happiness with her, and he wouldn't admit it, but he found Rachel bearable and quite amusing at times.
He had… gotten everything he ever wanted, with exception of the kid. But loving Cuddy meant loving, or putting up with, her child as well. And he'd managed to try and bond with the kid over the months he had started seeing her regularly at Cuddy's place.
He sat there, tears rimming his eyes once again at his failure. He could still feel the warmth of her palm against his cheek, the smoothness of her skin against his stubbly cheek. He could feel his heart pounding, remembering the final time she was to press her fingers there, on his chest. The last time wasn't ten months ago, no; it was almost two hours ago. Not with hope, no.
The last time was goodbye.
The silence descended upon him as his thoughts stopped flooding his mind. He stood up, pocketing the pills before exiting his bathroom.
He needed to get away…
Julia Cuddy was seated two feet away from her sister, watching helplessly as she cried her broken heart out. She'd been surprised when her sister suddenly said she'd be out for a while. She never expected that she'd break up with House that night. The man had it coming, if she was being honest to herself. But, in a way, a side of her understood what it felt like, the fear of loss.
At the moment, she wanted to gut him. Not only did he give her sister a hard time during her crisis, not even checking on her personally or comforting her the way she needed, but he also had to resort to drug use just to be able to be near her and comfort her. Who does that?
She wanted to reach out to her sister, but she couldn't. She wouldn't let her, so she sat there, heart breaking as tear by tear her sister revealed her anguished loss.
There was no doubt that she still loved him; so deeply that, breaking things off had cut her just as much as she thought her sister cut House as well. The man was an ass, but she knew he was also sensitive—she would have been able to deduce that from all the stories Lisa had told her, good or bad.
"Lisa…" she whispered, reaching for her sister's hand, trying yet again to physically reach out to her. She'd just pulled through a major health crisis and a surgery, she wasn't supposed to be stressed out, and she was already tired as it is.
The mention of her own name seemingly brought her sister to even more pain as she sobbed heartily in front of her. What was she supposed to do? Calling their mother was not an option despite her sister's boyfriend saving her life— her mother and sister's lives, to be exact.
Cuddy looked from her sister to the proffered hand. She bit her lip, shaking her head before bursting into tears again. She didn't know where to go from there, but she knew she had to pick herself up and move on if only for her daughter's sake.
"Oh honey," Julia cooed sadly, standing up from her position on the dining chair and walking towards her sister, bringing her trembling form into her warm embrace. Julia held her, dropping kisses on the crown of her sister's head whilst running her hands across her back. She knew her efforts were fruitless, but at least Lisa knew she wasn't alone.
They had never been that close, but she'd always be there for her when it deeply mattered.
The feel of the wind against his feverish skin was a welcomed feeling as he rode his bike to anyplace that could offer him solace. He felt temporarily liberated from any other thought but one: her. It was always her in his thoughts, in his dreams. He momentarily mulled why she couldn't be put first—as she claimed—before him and his own needs.
He cursed under his breath, tired of everything, every time being reminded of his failures and short-comings. He could never be the one for her. The one she needed.
But why did he still feel the need to prove himself to her? Why did a spark of hope amidst the waters of his despair remain lit inside him to be the one she deserved and needed him to be?
House shook his head and opted to focus on the road, body and mind. It was a hard thing to do. The disappointment in her face, the hurt and tears in her eyes, and the vicodin in his pocket distracted him to no end. He couldn't focus at all, no matter how hard he tried.
He couldn't live without her… After being with her for ten months, he just didn't know how to be happy without her. He knew he couldn't be.
A light suddenly blinded him a few feet away, pulling in his bike's brakes, hard, making him skid to a halt on the sidewalk in the blink of an eye, missing a trailer truck by a foot or two. His eyes trailed towards the speeding truck, cursing it under his breath, cursing himself for being too distracted to drive.
If he had plans on attempting suicide, that wasn't how he wanted it done. The white pills in his pocket could do it for him… painfully and tortuously slow— the way he feels he deserves to die. The way he'd always envisioned himself dying.
House shook himself from his thoughts, restarting his bike before spotting a hotel not far away. He needed a place where they wouldn't be able to find him. Somewhere he could either think or die alone in, someplace quiet.
Cuddy stood in the middle of her room, drained of every ounce of strength, mental and emotional. She couldn't bring herself to crawl into her bed, having spent so many nights, mornings and afternoons with him on it… talking and… not talking. She couldn't bring herself to submit herself to even more hurt. She knew she had to let it out at one point or another, but… she couldn't. Not tonight. She'd died enough for tonight.
But oh how she was being drawn to his side of the bed. Her heart and soul hungered for that unique, addictive scent of him she's been so used to have invading her nostrils almost every day and night. Her gaze traced the space on the floor where they'd been lying, kissing and flirting before everything started falling to pieces. It had been like shattered glass, pieces quickly nose-diving into the floor.
Cuddy bit her lip to keep from sobbing again, the fearful conjoined forces of her shattered heart and soul were overpowering her will to even try and sleep tonight.
She knew that… in the grand scheme of things, she'd done what was best.
But why didn't it feel like it? Why did she feel so incomplete regardless of her breaking up with him was right or wrong?
Cuddy's face contorted into a grimace as she tried to keep in the waterfall of tears about to burst from her eyes again and headed to her bathroom, needing to try and prepare herself for bed even if she wasn't, not in the slightest, going to get any rest that night. Not with a terrible broken and gutted heart.
She felt the water cool her heated skin, wishing she could be just as cold as it was, just for tonight… or a week, so she could try and numb the pain.
God… Delicately hunched over the sink, Cuddy's shoulders shook as she allowed herself to release her own pain over what had just transpired, and how she'd just crushed him, not only herself, by breaking things off.
She'd been devastated to find out that he had taken vicodin again, yes, but… No. No, she couldn't make excuses for him. She couldn't go down that road again.
He had to save himself this time… he had to be the one to choose. That night ten months ago, he had chosen her over the pills. There had been no questions when she announced that she ended things with Lucas, no judgment. He chose her. He had chosen to be with her, to try and be happy with her.
And she'd been happy. The happiest she'd ever been in a relationship despite all the drama, fights, and arguments, petty or not, here and there.
She'd been incandescently happy and in love with him. He wasn't the perfect boyfriend, God no. He wasn't even 'good' in the normal way, but for her, he'd been a great guy. He may never have been able to understand how, but he did, truly, make her a better person. He had breathed life back into her the way she had when he was at his lowest. He, along with Rachel, had made her feel more complete than ever.
Cuddy gripped the sink's edges, her forehead pressing onto the rim, cool porcelain caressing her skin as she sobbed vehemently at how the tables had turned in just one night, and by her doing.
The pain in her heart dulled the pain she was feeling from her surgery.
Her surgery… It only reminded her that House had also saved her life. He'd figured out what was wrong with her lungs. He had figured it out.
Her eyes met her own reflection, staring into her own broken soul. All she could see was despair. All she could see were his eyes as he begged her not to give up on him, on them.
She slid to the floor, her knees bent, before collapsing against the bathroom wall, her head tilting to the side as she cried her heart out, hating herself for what she'd done, and hating herself for evoking such desperate words from his mouth and his heart. She'd only seen him so explicitly, emotionally exposed a handful of times and she had felt her heart die each and every time.
"I'll always choose you…"
Her heart bled as those words seemingly reverberated inside her bathroom, his voice echoing inside the room she confined herself into.
"I can do better…"
Had she really given him a chance at all? Did she truly resolve herself into thinking that he wouldn't and couldn't do better, even if he tried? Had she inexorably deemed him incapable?
If so… why was her heart denying what her mind thought? Why did her heart say she was weak? That she herself was afraid of taking another chance…
"No…" she choked out in a raspy moan. She can't. She couldn't set herself up for the hurt again.
"You have to fight for him… for both of you," a part of her said. She shook her head. She was tired… she thought she could do it… them. She thought she could traverse the violent waters until they calmed. But maybe they were never meant to calm.
Maybe it had always been meant to stay that way until its end, or until the water in the seas ran dry.
Cuddy didn't know how long she had been sitting in that bathroom until her sister pulled her up and into her embrace once again and led her to the bed she wanted to avoid sleeping in for a while. Her sister eventually left her alone in bed when she was certain that Cuddy was asleep, planting a lingering kiss on her forehead before exiting the room.
Upon hearing the sound of her doorknob clicking shut, Cuddy opened her eyes before resting a hand on the pillow he'd been using for months now. His scent eventually magnetized her to his side of the bed, and she buried her nose into his pillow, taking in as much of him as she could for she was certain that she would never again have the comfort and security of his warm body in her bed.
Was this how it was going to be from now on?
She cried herself to a restless sleep, thinking of him alone, with his pillow clutched tightly to her chest.
The next day…
Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, 12:45 PM
"What are you doing here?" Wilson asked, visibly confused. She hadn't been at the hospital when he got in that morning. He knew she was on sick leave as per her doctor's orders. His brows furrowed with worry even more when all Cuddy did was shrug. He leaned closer and took in her face; she wouldn't have noticed as she was trying her best to busy herself with the file before her.
"You've been crying," he stated.
"Can't be thankful for not having cancer?" she spat out dryly, still not meeting his eyes.
He noticed that her voice was raspy as well. Wilson sighed, bringing his hands to his hips before asking, "What did he do now? You should be resting, not slaving yourself here all day."
Cuddy set the folder aside and took a deep breath before finally meeting Wilson's eyes. The oncologist's face fell instantly upon taking in how fatigued she looked, and that her makeup did nothing to hide how distressed she was.
"God, Cuddy… What did he do?"
"I… ended it." Her eyes blinked once, keeping herself from crying in front of the only person she could actually talk to about House. She pressed her forefinger and thumb against her forehead before letting out a heavy sigh.
"I ended it," she repeated, her own words echoing inside her, emphasizing how incomplete she felt.
"Why? Because of his lack of empathy during your health crisis…?" Wilson's face contorted into deep thought and confusion.
She wished she didn't have to voice it out, but she had to if she wanted to have someone to check on him. Wilson and his team would be the only ones who would do that. If not for her, for their respect for House not only as a boss and a mentor, but as their guardian as well… House would never admit it, but he truly did have their backs whenever they needed it, consciously or not. She let out a bitter smile at that.
"You are the most self-centered son-of-a-bitch on the face of the planet…"
Cuddy shook her head, face falling, ridding herself of her own thoughts regarding him and his selfishness. He wasn't selfish. The problem was he cared too much to the point of smothering.
She mentally slapped herself awake. She didn't need these thoughts. Not here. Not out in the open. The reason she was here was to escape the eerie silence and emptiness of her home.
"Cuddy!" Wilson called for the second time, noticing that she was deep in thought.
Cuddy forcefully shut her eyes, inhaling deeply before quietly telling him, "He relapsed. He took vicodin."
"What? When?" Wilson was alarmed though disappointment showed on his face instead of panic—but he was certain that the latter wasn't far behind.
"The night he finally had the decency to come see me," Cuddy mumbled bitterly before she started walking back to her office, not wanting to publicize the current fallout of her so-called romance with House. Wilson followed her, the wheels of his mind turning at a maniacally fast pace.
Wilson closed the door behind him and watched as Cuddy gingerly sat on the couch, bending forward so she could place her elbows on her knees and bury her face into her palms. "He came to be with me, but he wasn't. Not really. He was stoned."
"He was trying to be with you, Cuddy. He tried," Wilson explained, running a hand along his nape. "He went through denial first, when he came to see me. Then his fear took hold of him and he wanted to bail. I know he made it about him, I know that wasn't how it was supposed to be, so I told him just that."
"He couldn't embrace the pain, Wilson. Wanting to be there wasn't enough. He couldn't feel my pain because he could barely handle his own. He avoids pain, especially his own. How could I trust that he wouldn't run to the pills again if something like this happens again?"
"He's an addict, Cuddy. There was bound to be triggers for relapsing. Throughout his life he's experienced so much pain. We couldn't blame him if he ran from it. He already experiences enough physical pain every single day of his life, and though I think that doesn't exempt him from having to feel even more pain, I somehow understand why he doesn't want more in his life. And House is a sensitive man. He's afraid of pain because he feels too much. It isn't some sort of defense mechanism," Wilson told her in a soft voice as he sat down on the couch adjacent to her. "You of all people must know that. Hell, you know him even better than I do. I'm not making excuses for him, I'm just telling you what I think…"
"For ten months, I've forgotten that he was once an addict…"
"Cuddy… he chose to be with you either way. He wanted to be. He just didn't know how."
"He should learn how," Cuddy said, standing firm although internally, she wanted to just crawl up in a ball and cry again, "He's 51 years old, for God's sake, Wilson. How could he change that if he doesn't try?"
"From what I've seen, he's been trying, hard. It may not have been enough, but he tried. Have you even helped him change? I know you told him that you didn't want him to change, but have you asked yourself whether you actually helped him or just stood by and waited? There's a difference. You should have backed him up with positive reinforcement like what most normal women would do. Then again, neither of you are normal. You don't want him to change, I get it, but your expectations demanded it unconsciously and proved otherwise. And he was willing, Cuddy, god knows why but he was willing to change for you. He came into my office saying being himself was what you were supposed to love unconditionally, but he negated himself by doing everything it took to change or apologize. He did it for you."
Cuddy sat there, unable to look at him. A tear slipped from her eye. "He shouldn't do things just for me but for himself." She stubbornly said and wiped at her eye.
Wilson sighed, unmindful of what he had to do to try and fix things. "I'm… not pinning this on you, Cuddy. The two of you have your own shortcomings and faults. Since he's not here, I'm just reminding you of what I think are yours. He loves you, Cuddy. In my opinion, more than he ever did Stacy. And they were together for five years. It's either Stacy was able to see in him something you couldn't or she was just borderline mentally retarded. Five years, Cuddy, gnawed toothbrush or not, toilet seats up or down, they lived together for five years until the infarction happened."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Cuddy scowled.
Wilson dismissed her question with a shrug, leaving her to understand what he meant. He sighed deeply again before standing up. "I guess I'm at fault, too. I should have urged him to go to you instead of telling him I didn't want to be a part of anything and that I didn't want to pick up the pieces if you broke up with him. I guess… I chose the wrong time to turn my back on him. And I'm sorry. As your friend, too, I should have urged him to come see you. If I did, then maybe he wouldn't have had to resort to vicodin."
Wilson stood and walked towards her, placing a hand on her shoulder and squeezing her there. "Go home and rest. I'll take the rest of the day off," he told her before removing contact and walking towards the door.
"Where are you going?" Cuddy asked him, the boss in her couldn't help but inquire.
Wilson turned to look at her, his eyes determined. "Someone needs to check on him, Cuddy. I don't know what I'll do if he goes on a full-on relapse over this. He tried helping me when Sam left. I'll do my best to pick him up this time." Her eyes met his and she shivered though thankful House had him.
"I couldn't let my best friend flush nearly two years of sobriety over a failed relationship. He doesn't deserve it. He's tried his best to meet your standards and expectations. I don't want to see him back in that dark abyss of addiction and late nights drowning in his own pool of bile and alcohol." Wilson didn't mean to guilt her into anything. He just said what he felt he should get off his chest.
Cuddy nodded, her head hung low.
"I'll let you know if I find him…?" it was a question, not a statement.
"Please," Cuddy nodded gratefully.
"Cuddy, for what it's worth… I hope you two get back together," Wilson said before exiting the room to go to his office.
Cuddy gazed at Wilson's back until she could no longer see him and stood up. She made her way to her door, locking it before making her way to her private bathroom.
She had to liberate her heavy heart of liquid sorrow.
It seemed like she wouldn't be able to escape reality after all.
She could cry a hundred rivers, but it wouldn't change the fact that she broke herself and the only man she's ever truly loved with all that she was.
"I hope you two get back together…"
Even if they did, Cuddy questioned the hope she was willing and able to expend, wondering if she'd used up every ounce of it she'd had before everything fell apart.
She didn't know anymore…
"House, open up! I'll break your door down if you don't…" Wilson threatened as he turned the knob, trailing off as it turned freely. His brows creased and he frowned as he pushed the door open.
The moment he saw the wreckage that was once House's desk, he immediately took out his phone. It was already past lunch. If House hadn't been by the hospital yet, he'd start his motherly panic. "Don't think negatively, don't think worst-case," he told himself over and over again as he circled the shards of glass and objects on the floor. His desktop's monitor was LCD-less, broken as well.
Wilson searched his apartment for any signs of him or when he may have gone but he found nothing.
He also found no signs of vicodin.
"God, House…" Wilson murmured in fright, hoping to any deity listening that his friend wasn't drowning in his own misery and overdosed, or worse, lying somewhere, dead.
Wilson wanted to tell Cuddy, but he honestly didn't want her to look for him only because of guilt. House wouldn't want that. Wilson was positive that House wanted Cuddy back desperately, but he was aware of House's stubbornness. If he thought Cuddy was dead-set on ending things, and that he truly wasn't worth the trouble and tears, he wouldn't pursue Cuddy anymore even if he wanted to do so badly.
"Good afternoon, yes, I was wondering if you could please let me know if any charges had been made to this card…"
"Hey, Rachel," Cuddy greeted her daughter sweetly, missing her terribly. She'd love to have her with her, but with her stitches still new, she couldn't possibly take care of her daughter the way she would love to even if she had Marina come over.
"Hi, Momma," Rachel greeted, smiling over at her aunt as her mom's voice came through the phone. She gripped the phone with both hands, waiting for Momma to speak again.
"Whatcha doing, baby?" Cuddy asked, desperate for a story to calm her worried nerves. She hasn't heard from Wilson. She dared to call House's number but his cellphone wasn't on. She called his apartment, but it went to his answering machine after some rings. She felt the itching need to know if he was okay.
Of course he isn't, you know… She shook her head, meaning to focus on her daughter on the other end of the line.
"Puzzles," Rachel answered with a grin. Her cousins had brought out the big-pieced jigsaw puzzles and she was having fun trying to figure out how to complete it and make it as the same picture on the box' picture.
Cuddy smiled, imagining the sight. "Are you having fun?"
"Yes, Momma," she answered with a small grin.
"That's great, honey. Be good for Aunt Julia, okay?" a tear slipped from her eye, suddenly missing everything in her life; her daughter, her sister's embrace… and including one blue-eyed, curmudgeon diagnostician.
Rachel nodded, not speaking. Julia let out a light laugh at the sight, running her hands through her niece's hair. "Momma?"
"Hows der?" she asked, suddenly frowning.
"Rachel…" Cuddy heard Julia murmur softly.
Cuddy was quick to compose herself as she sat straight in the dining chair and answered, "No, baby, House is not here right now." I don't think he'll ever be again.
"Say goodbye to Momma, sweetie," Julia said, rubbing a comforting hand up and down her niece's back.
"I miss Howsss," Rachel said, pouting. She hasn't seen him in days.
"Rachel…" Julia hushed again, softly, but her niece ignored her. Like mother, like daughter, she thought in amusement as she stood straight, a grin on her face whilst her arms folded in front of her chest, resigned.
Cuddy bit her lip, nodding and admitting to the only person she'd tell, "I know, baby, I miss him too."
"You be a good girl for Aunt Julia, okay? Mommy will see you soon," she told her daughter.
"Love you, Momma," Rachel said in that shy and sweet, sweet whisper Cuddy has always loved.
"I love you more, Rachel," Cuddy replied, a hand cupping her jaw as she heard her sister talk to Rachel, playfully telling her to go join her cousins again before they finished the puzzle without her. Cuddy chuckled.
"Hey…" Julia greeted again, sitting on the chair Rachel had vacated. "I'm sorry about her mentioning—"
"It's okay, Jules. I shouldn't have been surprised," Cuddy replied, her voice low.
Despite herself, Julia couldn't help but prod, "She seems quite taken with him, huh?"
Cuddy let out a half-bitter, half-sad chuckle and said, "She is. She loves him."
"Just like you. Oh Lisa… is there no way you two could work it out?" Julia inquired hopefully. She saw how Rachel's face fell when her mom must have told her that he wasn't around. She would have been okay with them not being together, but seeing as their breakup would affect even Rachel… she just didn't know. "I know I'm not an expert on medicine or anything, but... And please, don't take this negatively, I just wanted to point a few things out, things that I couldn't bring myself to say—"
"Just spit it out Jules, I don't think I could be any more hurt than I already am," Cuddy encouraged, exasperated.
Julia heaved in a deep breath and released it before calmly and softly saying, "He relapsed because he couldn't handle the pain of losing you, he couldn't bring himself to be with you because if something happened, it'd be him left, hurt. It was like the first time Dad was in the hospital because of that accident and I couldn't bring myself to be near him at all. I couldn't bring myself to say a simple greeting, or walk into the room. But it didn't mean that I didn't love him, or that I didn't think of him. It didn't mean I loved him any less. Or that I didn't love him enough…
I was just… the pain I felt— was afraid of feeling, seeing him lying there, breathing through a tube, was so terrifyingly hard that I swear the fear of feeling so much pain was indescribable. I know I seemed like a heartless bitch back then, but I was beyond terrified to feel that pain. I wasn't strong enough to embrace it yet. I wasn't as strong as you or Mom. I couldn't step out of my shell to embrace it yet.
I know the logic is terribly flawed, and it wouldn't excuse what he did at all, but… couldn't you have let it slide temporarily and stopped him from falling over the edge, again, by breaking up with him? Couldn't you have supported him out of going back to the drugs and then reprimand him about it later? I don't know, Lisa, I just… I know he loves you. And I've never had that vibe from any previous boyfriends of yours that you've introduced us to...
All I'm saying is… I think you should give him another chance. Give him another chance to do better for himself and for you and Rachel."
Cuddy shook her head, the tears falling again from her sister's admittance. "I don't think I can…"
"I promise to give you the real last copy of the last picture Dad took of you before he died. You told me House ruined it, right? I promise to give you the copy I've hidden for years if you promise me you'll try," Julia persuaded her. She loved that picture of her sister. As far apart as they were before, when Dad died they signed a silent pact to be more involved in each other's lives.
"Why does this matter so much to you?" Cuddy whispered, tears framing her pale face.
Julia's face softened, smiling softly upon hearing the question.
"Because I have never seen you happier than when you are with him..."
"Sir, sir… Mr. House! Can you hear me?" the hotel manager said, voice loud as he shook the man surrounded by bottles of alcohol and an emptied pill bottle beside him.
The manager checked his pulse before looking towards one of the security guards he'd brought with him.
"Call an ambulance!"
The next day… 1 AM.
A good night's sleep would never grace her, it seemed. All she could think about was him. Everything she saw and smelled was him. His pillow was pressed tightly against her upper body, wishing it wouldn't run out.
It was pathetic, what she was doing. She broke up with him, and now she lay in bed, with his pillow in her arms and under her nose.
Was she just doing the same thing he's always done? Running away? Was she giving up now because…
She couldn't wait for him to grow up and man up. She shouldn't.
She couldn't help but think…
What was the real problem? What justified her breaking up with him?
Was it the fact that he took the drugs? Was it because he took it for him to be able to be by her side? Or was it because she couldn't see him on them again, ignoring the fact that she'd been ready to be with him, drugs or clean?
Had she been too… brash?
She'd been so happy and distracted that she'd forgotten that he was once an addict. How could she have scathed him so with her words?
She was wounded deeply, knowing that he couldn't be with her without some form of crutch. How could she know that it wouldn't happen the next time a crisis occured? How was he so sure that his taking the pills would be but a one-time thing?
Cuddy sighed, wishing she could just shutdown her brain for a while.
You can't always get what you want.
"You'll choose yourself over everybody else, over and over again, because that's just who you are…"
Did she really say that?
There'd been times that she'd witnessed him put others before himself. Even before his own safety. She could list so many things to prove that claim otherwise.
What had she meant when she let those words slip out of her mouth?
She didn't want him to focus on her solely.
She just… wanted him present.
Sadly, she wasn't able to get what she'd meant across the right way.
She had forgotten that she herself was a screw up, especially in relationships.
Cuddy stared at a distance, her mind unwilling to let her sleep just yet.
How could she have let go just like that? How could she just let him go?
Her eyes widened as she suddenly realized …
He'd been trying… so hard, and she'd… only been waiting on him to change.
He did try… she didn't.
All she did was… tally his shortcomings, overlooking her own.
Basically… all she's done was complain and control.
For her own fear of things not being the way they were supposed to be… the fear of losing him so quickly when they've only just begun… she screwed up. She controlled, or tried to control, him. And he'd allowed her to.
He tried to be what and who she thought she needed him to be… and not once did he use her own words against her. He just… pursued doing better.
Come to think of it, they were both selfish and stubborn. She'd been controlling… he'd been deferring.
He may not have been there when she needed him most; no hand-holding, no sweet talk, no comfort… but he'd been monitoring her from the shadows, making sure she was well-accounted for. She'd been prioritized more than his patient. So, yes, he used drugs to be able to hold her hand, but in the grand scheme of things, he pulled through and stood by her side eventually. And he'd sat by her until she'd woken up.
Cuddy carefully stood up from her bed and made her way to the bathroom, sleep entirely away from her own mind. She couldn't take the sudden influx of realizations anymore. Her earlier rationalizations were being overpowered by her heart's own logic taking precedence over her mind's rationale.
When was love ever right? She glanced at their toothbrushes, standing side by side; one with slightly disarrayed bristles, the other looked like it had been masticated. She let out a sad sigh, remembering the night he came to her office, telling her he could do better and that she should just give him a chance. She took it, allowing herself a small reminiscent smile upon recalling just how new the brush was and how ruined it looked now. She deliberated throwing it in the garbage in the room, but she couldn't do it, at least not yet. Seeing his belongings in her house had always made her feel safe. Sadly, he couldn't be there anymore. Probably not even as her friend.
"Funny… that's the last thing I want us to be…"
She cooled her face with the water, shaking off the guilt creeping into her veins, and allowing herself to take in the coldness of the water which rivaled what she felt in her heart. She had been as wrong as him when he needed her to have faith in and not give up on him.
She'd failed him just as he'd failed her.
Love… it may not always be enough, but… what she and House had wasn't just that. Their history and love ran deep, so deep that she hurt whenever the thought of actually being afar from him. It now made her ache for him. The distance she herself had induced not only broke him but her as well. It made her defenses crumble, subduing her instinct of picking herself up and moving on as quickly as she could.
She had no doubt that she would, in time, get over him… but the thing was, truth be told, she didn't want to.
She loved and needed him, maybe as much as he loved and needed her.
She wasn't entirely sure yet if she could bring herself to believe that he'd be able to be there for her, but saying she didn't want to get back together with him was like saying she was never in love with him to begin with.
All was said and done… by her own impetuous self.
And she didn't know if she could even bring herself to apologize.
She didn't know if she could try.
Maybe they were more alike than they themselves thought, she mused bitterly.
The tables had turned and she didn't know who had the upper hand because she sure as hell didn't feel that way. She didn't feel the least bit liberated. All she felt was emptiness.
Mercer County Hospital, 8 PM
"Dr. House… discharging AMA isn't advisable, you—"
"I think I'm well aware, got the degree and all the licenses too."
The attending nurse sighed. House lowered his head, outstretching his hand, "Just give me the damn discharge papers and I'll make your life a lot easier by disappearing."
The next day…
"How may I help you?" the manager greeted Wilson with a welcoming voice and posture.
"I was wondering if you could tell me if there's a Gregory House who checked in… if he's here or if he's already checked out?"
"I'm sorry," the manager said, walking closer towards the concierge before whispering, "We strictly don't give out information, but… May I know your relation to Mr. House first?"
"I'm his best friend," Wilson pulled out his wallet, pulling out his hospital ID card and showing it to the man, "We work together. I'm a doctor."
"Yes… I see." The man mulled it over for a while, before finally conceding.
"Mr. House checked in two nights ago. The other night we found him in his room unconscious and his pulse weak. We called for an ambulance and he was sent to the Mercer County Hospital. Last update we received was from yesterday after lunch; they said that he was still unconscious."
Wilson stared, frightened at what could be… or could have happened.
"Thank you," he said as he hurried out of the hotel, racing towards the parking area and his car.
When he reached the hospital, he was stunned to be informed that House had checked out the night before. Frustrated, Wilson thanked the nurse on the desk and ran a hand through his hair before making for his car again.
"So help me, House, if you went to finish the job, I'll kill you again when I get there."
PPTH, Cuddy's office
It was Sunday morning and she was at the hospital. She didn't want to be stuck at home, alone. And when did she actually take orders from Wilson? She needed something to keep her busy.
It had been three days without news about House; two nights without news from Wilson. House's team had come looking for him an hour ago and all she could say was that he had some personal matters he needed to attend to.
Her gut was churning with worry. For as disappointed and hurt as she was by what he'd done, she didn't want him dead. It was far from what she wanted. She wanted him to be okay.
But in the state she had left him in, she was almost a hundred percent certain that he was not okay. Not after he'd made himself vulnerable to the point of begging her not to end things between them.
She shook her head, focusing on work—or at least trying to.
"Don't do anything stupid," she mumbled under her breath, wishing for her sanity's sake that he was safe.
Just as she flipped open the folder she just retrieved from the stack, Cuddy's attention was brought to the door as Wilson rapped on it before entering, his face obviously worried and stressed.
"I couldn't find him…" he started, his voice low and… was that a tremble?
"Have you tried—" Cuddy's lips firmed into a thin line before worrying her lower lip in between her teeth, her hand fiddling with her pen the way she did when she was nervous.
"His apartment's a wreck," Cuddy brought a hand to her mouth, her eyes widening in fear. "I've spent yesterday trying to track him down. He checked into a hotel but…"
"Tell me, Wilson," she murmured quietly, knowing she'd regret asking him to.
"Management found him unconscious in his room and took him to Mercer County."
Cuddy gasped, hoping as hell that he was alright. "Did he… was he…" Wilson shook his head, telling her he didn't know.
"He demanded to be discharged AMA. The nurse couldn't have convinced him to stay," Wilson informed her.
"Oh my god," Cuddy whispered gravely, her mind racing through all the possible scenarios. "What if he—"
"Don't, Cuddy. Don't think that! This wouldn't have happened if you—"
"You're blaming me?" her eyes were watery, though her voice was pointed and her glare was lethal. She blamed herself.
Wilson ran a hand through his hair before dragging his palm to rub tiredly at his face. "I'm sorry… I'm just—"
"Just call me if you hear from him…" Cuddy mumbled resignedly, cutting him off.
"You're not going to try looking for him?" Wilson asked her, hands on his hips. Earlier that day, as he laid in bed thinking of places where House could be, he decided that he didn't care anymore if Cuddy tried to help him find House whether out of guilt or whatever. He just wanted his best friend back safe.
Cuddy's lowered head rose for a while, meeting his eyes. "I can't, Wilson," she whispered.
"Why the hell not?"
Wilson sighed. "I hope you know what you're doing, Cuddy."
"Me too…" she nodded, hanging her head low again.
Wilson stood there for a while, watching her busy herself before turning towards the door. He was about to put his hand on the knob when he heard Cuddy quietly admit:
"I don't want to lose him, Wilson. I can't. Lover or not, I need him in my life."
Wilson nodded, feeling a little better in knowing that Cuddy herself was just being afraid of what she might find while looking for him god-knows-where. "Cuddy… you already lost him," Wilson informed her, his face gravely and tired, "you lost him the night you ended it."
"I'll see what I can do to help find him from here," Cuddy opted to say, avoiding Wilson's gaze.
"Here," Wilson suddenly said, pulling something out of his pocket, "This was the only thing he left at the hotel." He laid the empty orange pill bottle on her desk before making his way towards her office's doors again. "I'll keep looking for him tonight," Wilson said before exiting the Dean's office.
Cuddy stared at the cap-less bottle on her desk, her heart beating frantically. It was empty. Did he flush them? Did he OD last night? Was that why he was rushed to a hospital? Where was he now?
If he'd taken the drugs, that meant he had given up on trying… and she couldn't actually blame him for that. She'd practically told him nothing he did would ever be enough, that he'd always put himself first.
To some extent, whatever happens to him would also end up being her fault. She had the chance to stop him from spiraling downward, tired as she was from always being the one to pick him up, the one standing as his crutch. She should have been there for him. Now, it just seemed like some sort of retaliation.
She shouldn't have left him…
Cuddy's house, 12:20 AM
He walked jaggedly up the stairs leading to her front door. He didn't even know what he was doing there. He didn't need anyone's pity, let alone hers.
From the hospital, he had driven to the Jersey shore, clearing his mind and listening to everything around him. The music of the waves crashing along the shore was a relief he hadn't felt in days. It easily lifted a part of him. It had also given him hope as the minutes ticked by that he could still be happy. That he hadn't entirely lost hope. He wanted to be with Cuddy. He wanted to be the man who would be there with her, dire need or not. He wanted to be right for her and do right by her and Rachel. Not just an incredible doctor, not just an asset. He wanted to reach out and be present.
Those thoughts had led him to where he was now; Cuddy's porch. He lifted a hand to rap at her door, but as he was about to do so… his hand fell to his side. It was too late, maybe in every meaning of the word.
He didn't want to wake her up and have her deal with him. He shook his head as he thought, "This was a bad idea."
But as he stood on the first step down her porch, he hesitated.
He wanted to fight for them even if she wouldn't. If she found out that— no. She'd still definitely leave him either way. She was tired of waiting for him to come around. Tired of him saying he'd do better when he couldn't seem to progress at all.
Some days, including now, he thought to himself, "What if I'd tried harder?"
House shivered; the cold creeping into his skin as the wind blew and the smell of raindrops hitting the pavements started filling his hearing. He sighed. As if he wasn't feeling sick enough as it is. He wanted to throw up badly. A warm blanket was among the things his body was craving at the moment.
What if he'd strived harder to improve himself? What if he'd just embraced the pain to be there for her? Why didn't he think of other ways?
His desperation left him with a lack of consideration for the consequences taking vicodin would inevitably cause. His desperation to hold her hand by whatever means possible without having to open himself up for the inevitable hurt and pain of seeing her afraid and possibly dying fueled his search for something to withhold having to feel. He was afraid of feeling. He had felt too much in his lifetime. Being emotionally stunted was terrible, he'd admit.
It was past midnight and the rain mirrored her emotions; angst, hurt, disappointment in herself and her just as flawed logic. She worried that something bad had happened and that was the reason there had been no sign of him or where he was.
You shouldn't have left him…
"I shouldn't have," she agreed in a regretful whisper.
She had thought twice about filing for a missing person report before deciding to wait, for now. Her patience was nearing anxiety though, and she longed to hear of any sighting of him just to know he was alive and not drowning himself in narcotics. She wished that he knew better than to do just that, but with House, you'd know better than to expect he'd take the high road. He was emotionally stunted and she knew exactly how he dealt with pain.
Self-destruction: drugs, alcohol, and prostitutes. It was how he withdrew himself from a reality he would inevitably have to face head-on.
She shuddered and a spark of jealousy bubbled in her gut at the thought of him trying to forget by busying himself with paying for distractions. She didn't want to think of it, but it was a possibility.
She was sitting on the couch, wrapped in her afghan, reading one of his medical journals. The man was a genius; there were no doubts about that. She was tired, physically and emotionally. She couldn't sleep properly due to the scent of him in her bed. She could have easily changed the sheets but she didn't have it in her to rid herself of his scent on her bed. She'd become so used to it invading her nostrils. Almost every part of her house reminded her of him. Even Rachel's room, surprisingly.
She's a smart kid, she'll be fine.
She herself was taken aback by his sudden comment. She hadn't been expecting any from him, but he stepped up that night. And she was even more surprised by seeing Rachel crawl onto his lap, burying her cheek against his chest.
Cuddy closed her eyes for a moment, Rachel's longing registering in her heart. She missed House just as much as Cuddy did.
She let out a sad smile.
She didn't want to explain to Rachel why House wouldn't be there anymore. Not that Rachel would even understand. She knew she'd eventually forget him too, given the right amount of caution in not mentioning the man for a while.
Just as the night she came to him, she wished that she didn't love him. A harsh wish as it was, being in love with House was as complicated as it was incredible. He completed her, and made her crazy in every way possible.
Cuddy sighed at how things ended up.
What was sadder was that she couldn't bring herself to look for him herself. To apologize for some of the things she needed to apologize for. For walking out when he needed her to anchor him back to sobriety.
She wasn't his keeper, no. She wasn't obligated to watch over him. But as his friend, ex-girlfriend and boss, she felt that she was supposed to. She owed him that at least.
She shook her head. There was nothing else she could do.
There is something you could do. You're just refusing to do it. You're running.
She shook her head again, standing up from the couch. When had her mind started sounding like Wilson?
She switched off the lights in her living room and made her way to Rachel's room, laying down on her daughter's couch. She wouldn't get any rest again if she stayed in her bed with their mixed scents penetrating her nostrils. Her daughter's own baby aroma would be her reprieve tonight.
Besides, she should start forgetting how he smelled and how he felt pressed up against her or her against him. She should change her bed sheets and start putting away his belongings. She should learn to move on from him. She had to.
The entirety of her but her brain didn't want to.
An hour into her slumber, Cuddy was awaken by the shrill ring of her home phone. She ignored it, brain fuzzy with sleep, or lack of it. It rang incessantly, making her hurry towards it eventually. It could be Wilson. It could be related to him.
"Uhm, Miss Cuddy? It's Carlos from across the street…" the teenager hesitantly spoke, something in his voice reluctant or cautious to inform Cuddy about something.
"Carlos… could you please make it quick? It's one in the morning, I—"
"Sorry… Miss Cuddy, I was wondering if you knew that there's a man lying on your porch?"
"What?" Cuddy asked, wiping her face with her hand, visibly confused.
"I got what you meant, Carlos…" Cuddy's eyes suddenly widened and her heart started beating faster at the thought of… House being the man on her porch.
"Don't call the cops. I'll check on it right now," Cuddy told her neighbor's son, tying her robe around her more securely. "And thank you, Carlos."
"Take care, Miss Cuddy," Carlos said before hanging up, wanting to watch over his neighbor from his window for a while, to make sure she'd be okay.
Cuddy padded along her hallway before, as quietly as she could, unlocked her front door and opened it to see who Carlos was referring to. She inaudibly gasped upon seeing House on her porch, his cheek from her point of view ashen, and shivering. It was still raining hard and he was there, sitting on her porch, drenched.
She burst through her door and knelt beside him, instinctively checking his pulse. He was burning up. Her brows creased in concern, her heart thumping against its cavity.
"Damn it, House…" she choked out in a nervous tone of voice. "This is not how you're supposed to win me back," she hissed at his unconscious form, confused as to whether to worry or be annoyed—he has always had that effect on her; it drove her insane, how he could do that.
She felt his temperature, trying to gauge how high it was. She frowned. Was he going through withdrawal? Why was he here? Was he stoned?
Upon habit, she stroked his stubbly cheek, shivering herself at the feel of the bristly hair pricking her smooth palm. She's missed him terribly. She fought to keep herself from tearing up. Cuddy stood up and hurried inside her house, grabbing her penlight and a damp, warm towel.
She knelt beside him again, checking his pupils. They weren't dilated much. He was sick, drenched and shivering; she had to get him inside. She sighed. How the hell was she to do that?
"What am I going to do with you?" she wearily asked in a quiet whisper, tenderly tracing his feverish skin with her fingers. It's only been three days… three days, and she was already craving his touch, his voice… his love. Cuddy bit her lower lip, worrying it between her teeth. No… she couldn't succumb to love again. She'd only hurt them both even more.
House shifted, opening his eyes, blearily looking at her, through her soul. "Hi," he huskily, almost inaudibly, murmured.
"Hi," she greeted nervously, part of her relieved to see him awake. The other part, terrified of what he'd say, terrified of the conversation that would inevitably come unless she pushed him away.
"I'm tired," he miserably mumbled, closing his eyes again and sighing deeply.
It was a mistake, being there, he thought to himself. He felt pathetic, lying on her porch, sick.
Cuddy pursed her lips. She didn't have the heart to push him away, especially not now when he was safe, with her, and probably not high—she would have been able to tell by his pupils and his pulse. The empty pill bottle inside her House nagged at her to know though. Know if he'd taken any more than he already had the night he came to her.
"How much did you take?" she asked him seriously, her voice almost unheard due to the rain pouring madly.
He was silent.
"House… I need to know," her voice trembled, dreading his forthcoming answer.
"Don't lie to me," she brokenly reprimanded him, her voice lacking its usual lethality.
"I drank…" he admitted, "But I didn't use. Not a pill." The thought of his empty vicodin bottle told her otherwise.
"You're lying," she indicted.
He shook his aching head, negating her accusation wordlessly. She slapped a hand on his chest, tears forming in her eyes. She hastily wiped at them, not wanting to give him the pleasure of seeing her breakdown over this. She shouldn't be surprised, she told herself.
She hit him again, hating herself for hurting him, but feeling a bit of relief in the action.
House sighed shakily before gripping her wrists as gently as he could.
"I flushed them," he announced quietly, "down the drain."
Cuddy knelt beside him, her tears cascading down her face as she stared at him in shock. His grip on her hands was gentle and he loosened them when he thought he wouldn't be harangued with blows by his revelation.
"I couldn't…" he quietly started, opening his eyes to meet her grey watery ones, "I can't go back."
Cuddy stared at him, slack-jawed.
They remained quiet for a while, House hating himself for what he'd done, Cuddy unable to process what she'd just heard.
The rain came down harder, mimicking the beat of Cuddy's heart. They were both getting wet despite being covered by the roof.
"Let's get you inside," she finally spoke, her voice void of any emotion. Wordlessly, she helped him heave his body off her porch into a standing position.
The warmth of her hand against his feverish skin was a welcome comfort for House as he allowed himself to be helped. Their eyes met for a beat, telling each other without words that as of the moment, things were alright between them. He allowed himself a single tear, turning his head away before she could see it.
He stumbled on the first step he took, his leg slightly giving up on him.
"House!" she quietly gasped, her arms supporting him in an instant. Her heart broke, seeing him hang his head in shame.
Pathetic excuse for a man… echoed something in House's subconscious.
"I'll just go," he suddenly told her, his confidence lacking, unable to look into her eyes.
She tried to understand this sudden change in his demeanor, but she didn't want to push him. He had already been through a lot the past few days following her ending things between them.
"Is that what you want?" Stay. She asked him, her brows creasing.
"No. But it's what you need. It's what Rachel needs. Me to stay away," He painfully told her, looking into her eyes. He was ready to resign, to leave.
Cuddy shook her head as he straightened himself and faced her, his eyes poignant as they studied her own. She dared to touch his cheek, running her thumb against his jaw. They were standing in the middle of her porch, their show free for the rest of the world to see, covered by curtains of rain in every visible angle.
"What I need you to be… is to be present in our lives. I need you to be physically there for me. I need you to fight your pain to be with me."
"You're looking at the wrong person, then," He said, turning his head to glance at their feet.
"I think I knew that, coming into our relationship."
"So we're in a relationship again?" he looked at her, a smirk on his lips.
Cuddy pursed her lips, near-crying again. "Please don't deflect. Not now," she pled, a palm coming in between them to rest against his chest the way she had before she broke up with him.
House screwed his eyes shut upon the contact. He'd never thought he'd feel her palm there again. Although this time, it looked the other way around with him convincing her it was over, her trying to win him back. Was she really trying to win him back? Or did she just want him out of the damn rain?
House sighed, opening his eyes again. "You may not want me to change, but you need me to change. I can neither change nor do better. You and Rachel are better off without me. I shouldn't have stopped you from leaving that morning," her eyes widened and she felt like her heart was being crushed as she understood what morning he was referring to, "I was right from the beginning; it was never bound to work."
Why was he really here? To tell her she was right? House internally chuckled bitterly at the sudden change of plans. He came here to try and fix things between them, but as time ticked by, he realized… it wouldn't change a thing. They'd be happy again for a while, a few months again maybe, and she'd want him to do better again, and he'd disappoint her, again.
It wasn't worth yet another heartbreak; he was barely coping with this current one.
Cuddy shook her head, unwilling to let him go this time. She was certain that he'd definitely not return to her once she let him go. She didn't want him away from her, lover or not; she wanted him inhabiting the same area she was. They were both selfish, and at the moment, she mentally owned up to it.
"This is you, wanting to run," she told him, her eyes pointedly staring him down.
He maintained her gaze. "Yes," he admitted freely, "and it's also me, realizing that… you were right. I never should have come," he shook his head, "And I don't want to lead you on, thinking I could do better anymore. We both saw I couldn't." He looked into her eyes, "I'm sorry, Cuddy, I really wanted to be who you wanted and needed me to be."
He shook his head as Cuddy's eyes softened, internally alarmed by his painful sincerity. He was laid out open and naked in front of her. In another context she would have been proud, but in this one, she ached from seeing him like this.
"I wanted you to be yourself. I needed you to be present and prepared to embrace any pain that would have come our way… I—"
"Being myself will never be enough. You'll eventually get tired of my bullshit. What I do… will never be enough. Not for you," he negated, his head hung low in failure.
"I love you," she desperately reminded him, a tear falling from her cheek. She didn't care a bit about it.
"You know I feel the same. I only need you more. But love is never enough, we're not adolescents. For one Lisa Cuddy, love will never be enough. You're not naïve," his hand hazarded cupping her tearstained cheek, crying like the rain pouring around them. He stroked her cheek, brushing away her tears.
Cuddy leaned into his touch, wanting to be as near him as she could and wanting to cling to him.
"And as selfish as I am… I don't want you to settle for some pitiful excuse for a man."
Cuddy shook her head, negating what he just described himself as. She didn't pity him, she didn't think of him that way.
"Goodbye, Lisa," he closed the gap between them, pressing his lips against the corner of her mouth before relinquishing his hold on her cheek, afraid that he'd never want to let go if he kept contact for more than a minute.
The use of her first name stunned her beyond words. It froze her in her place. She watched as he was about to turn.
Don't let him go… Ask him!
A second later, she was thankful to have regained her voice. "House… no, don't. Stay. Please," she begged, just as he told her that poignant night.
"I don't have a reason to. If you're worried about the rain, it's just water. I'll live through it."
She didn't want to think whatever else he could have possibly meant by that, grasping his biceps, feeling the slight shivering of his body and taking a last shot at making him stay, saying, "If you loved me at all, please, do this last thing for me. Stay. At least for tonight… It's late and you're sick. My infamous guilt complex would never let me live it down if something happened to you."
"You wouldn't want that on your conscience," she added, her eyes telling him she needed at least this one last thing.
He stared at the ceiling, illuminated by the lampshade near the couch he was in. She'd handed him a change of clothes, throwing his drenched ones in the dryer so he could wear it when he left. She'd left him a pillow and a blanket while he took a quick bath in the guest bathroom. She'd also left a glass of water and a Tylenol on the side table next to the couch.
He hasn't seen her since the moment she took his clothes to dry.
What was she thinking at the moment?
Were the same questions plaguing her as they did him?
Where do they go from here?
Was he supposed to leave in the morning? Or would she be the first to go, using work as her excuse?
He knew he could just go. But he didn't want to make her feel worse. He hadn't asked her how she was doing, because he knew she was doing fine—although he didn't know how she was taking their breakup. Medically, he knew she was healing fine. She hadn't gingerly stood when she helped him stand.
He knew he did the right thing by her and Rachel, choosing to stay away. He knew what he was planning to do would be for the better.
But it didn't feel right.
House sighed before switching off the lamp next to him. Morning wasn't that far away. He'd deal with everything then. For now, he needed an amnesty from real life, he needed rest.
Cuddy couldn't sleep with him a few feet away from her. Now more than ever, she realized that she needed him in her life just as much as he needed her. That she loved him just as much as he did her.
That she didn't want to be free of him.
But… he had decided.
It was all because of her.
What was happening now was her doing. She shouldn't have come to him in the shocked state that she was. Though admittedly, they both needed the wakeup call. Things couldn't be all submission and control between them. It should have been an equal mixture of give and take. She'd been taking and demanding too much. He was unable to give her some things she had definitely needed but gave into her other needs of him to change.
Their conversation just a few minutes ago triggered in her two realizations:
One, they could never live without each other, and two, things between them would never be perfect or conventional in a normal context.
Her tears hadn't stopped; they just paused when they got in the house. The influx of tears had continued when she entered her bedroom, feeling so close to him yet so far, and at the same time knowing it was her fault.
He had called her by her first name. The degree of his seriousness had alarmed her. She knew he was planning on doing something to give her what he thought she ultimately wanted: to be free of him.
Except just an hour ago, she realized and embraced the fact that being apart would do her more harm and heartache than good. She believed it to be the same for him.
She had to connect with him once again, in a way that would make both of them realize what they needed to realize: That they were not House and Cuddy without the other present.
Oh how the finality in his decision haunted her at the moment, making her fear that she'd hear her front door shut the next minute; she wouldn't put it past him to do just that. She laid quiet, save for her heavy breathing.
She took a moment to reflect on what she wanted, what she really wanted.
Her eyes opened after a while.
She didn't want it to be over between them.
House startled as he felt her hand caressing his face, opening his eyes to see her looking at him longingly, eyes wet from tears, red-rimmed. She leant forward and surprised him as she pressed her supple lips against his own; savoring the moment she thought she'd never have again.
He kissed back before pulling away, visibly confused as to what to do and what to say next. He sat up, looking at her, through her. She stood up and took hold of his hand, leading him to her bedroom.
Once they entered, she faced him, her hands settling on his chest, feeling his heart beating rapidly under her touch.
She trailed her eyes from her hands on his chest to his mesmerizing eyes.
"I don't want it to be over," she finally told him in a firm whisper, her heart racing now as she waited for his answer.
"You don't want to do this, you really don't want to be with me," he negated, taking hold of her wrists.
"I do," she insisted.
"You'll regret it in the morning, you'll have changed your mind," he stated sadly, shaking his head. This would serve to hurt them more. It would make moving on from her even more impossible.
"I won't, God, I won't," she said, breaking free of his grip and cupping his face with a hand, stepping closer.
"You will," he told her, his own resolve crumbling at the way her eyes told him she needed this, she needed them.
Her hand slid to his nape, pulling his head down to capture his lips, thankful that he didn't pull back. She gently parted her lips and kissed him, trying to convey what words couldn't.
"Don't think…" she whispered, covering his lips with her own. "Just stay with me. At least for tonight, if you're saying goodbye."
Something in House's mind knew this wasn't for the better, but he couldn't deny her request. Not because he was a man, but because this was probably the last thing he could give her, the last need of hers he could actually do perfectly. He owed her that.
"Love me tonight, if only for the last time…" she whispered against his lips, looking into his eyes.
He didn't answer, just caught her parted lips with his own, returning her previous kiss with as much tenderness and love as he could. She sighed into his mouth, thankful that they'd at least have this one last moment if she couldn't ultimately convince him to take a chance on them again.
Her arms anchored atop his shoulders, dangling loosely behind his neck. She opened her mouth to him, her tongue seeking his own as they slowly meshed their lips together, breathing each other in. She felt her heart flutter with a ray of hope as his lean arms wrapped around her slender waist, his left arm being cautious as it was pressed against her stitches.
He broke free from their lips as he remembered this. She shook her head, pulling him in tighter, "I'm alright. Don't worry about me," she told him in a soft whisper.
With reassurance, House proceeded to kiss her like they had all the time in the world until she pulled away and took hold of the hem of his pajama top and pulling it up over his head, his arms raising to help her out. She looked into his eyes as he pulled her camisole as gently as he could up and over her head, thankful that she wasn't in this alone. That he was with her. His eyes gazed at the gauze on her side, tracing his fingers, guilt-laden, along the area, making her eyes water as he said, "I'm sorry."
"It wasn't your fault, you actually saved me," she acknowledged, her mind far away from what he'd done before showing up.
"I wasn't there when you needed me," he whispered, painfully kneeling in front of her. She held on to his broad shoulders as he carefully lifted the gauze's taped sides, revealing her stitches.
"Don't…" she gasped, her eyes planted on his expression. "It's ugly."
"You've seen mine. This is nothing compared to what you've kissed," he quietly told her, tenderly pressing his lips on the area as if in apology of not being present without the help of hydrocodone. "It doesn't make you ugly," he said as she helped him stand upright again after he fastened the tape again. "It makes you human." He never thought he'd say that in his lifetime.
"I love you," she whispered against his neck when he enfolded her in his strong arms, holding her as if she'd break with any added pressure.
"I love you too, but it was bound to end between us eventually. It was never meant to work out," he whispered against her ear.
"You've got my breasts pressed against your chest… I was thinking I'd get the upper hand at seducing you," she quipped in deadpan, trying to lighten the mood and forget what he'd said.
He sighed, though a smile played at his lips. "Who said I'm not affected by it? Your rubber nipples are pressed against my torso." She let out a breathy chuckle, glad he was riding along.
"It didn't work out because I let go," she disclosed, "And I was wrong in doing that. I shouldn't have let go. I was emotional, I thought I was dying; I didn't want to leave without you having even been by my bedside, telling me you loved me. I was hurting. And to find out that you probably wouldn't have come to me had you not resorted to vicodin, I… it killed me."
"I know," he whispered, squeezing her tighter, his head dropping to rest on her shoulder, his face pressed against her neck, muffling his voice. "And I'm sorry."
She pulled away from their hug and took his hand again, moving towards the bed. She settled herself on it, waiting for him to climb in as well, to cover her body with his.
He did, a second later.
"I need you in my life, House," she murmured as he placed tender kisses along her neck, knowing she loved it.
"Selfish," he teased along her jaw, smiling at her admission. It was giving him hope he earlier wouldn't have allowed himself to feel. "I need you in mine, too," he admitted, whispering into her ear. Her hands ran along his back, his feverish skin making her shiver.
"Love me," she whispered against his mouth, tilting her head to welcome his tongue.
They kissed the minutes away, savoring the feel of being in each other's arms after more than a week of not being intimate, saddened that it would probably be the last time. He brushed his fingers along the smooth expanse of her skin, aching at the thought of being unable to hold her come tomorrow. He had to leave if he wanted her to find another chance at happiness. He wanted her happy, he wasn't entirely selfish.
Some minutes later they were skin on skin, House cradled in between her legs. There was no hurry, no time limit.
She gazed up at the most incredible man she'd ever known, longing already at the thought of not being with him like she was at the moment. The thought of losing him shot daggers through her heart. She wished that this wasn't goodbye. She wished with everything she had in her that goodbye wasn't how it was going to end.
"Don't leave me," she mumbled against his neck, her arms around him, nails deliciously scraping his skin, reawakening him.
Their mouths collided passionately, recapturing each other and recalling the moments like this that reminded them of their need of each other's presence in their lives.
She could feel him pressed against her stomach, hard and arrogant. She moaned as he lapped at her jugular, the slowness torturous as it was tender. Her arms dangled around his neck, fingers and nails raking and running through his hair, egging him on in silent encouragement.
She moaned as he lavished her chest with attention, nibbling, biting, teasing, and sucking. He was drinking her pleasure like wine to a parched throat. He was savoring what could be the final time he'd make love to her, show her with his body how much love and passion he held and would always hold for her.
She took hold of him, stroking him to his perfect length and girth, looking into his eyes and arching up to capture his lips thirstily. She'd crave for this feeling from time to time if this was the last. She desperately wished there was something she could do to change his mind.
Her eyes watered as she felt him enter her, reality hitting her like a bullet to the heart. She wrapped her legs around him, urging him to drive into her as deeply as virtually possible. She wanted him to occupy every inch of her, be one with her.
"I don't want us to end," she sighed as he hit a spot inside her that invoked a tremble from her insides. "Don't leave me," she whispered against his neck, moaning at his next gentle thrust.
He was silent, focusing on her alone, wanting to feel her wrapped around him in every way possible, committing this poignant moment in his memory. He slipped an arm around her waist, cushioning her back. He was worried about her stitches, not wanting to hurt her. It was the last thing he wanted to do.
"There," she suddenly gasped, her nails digging into his biceps as the pleasure spread through her like wildfire. He worked at it, slowly surging and retreating from her as he peppered her neck and jaw with openmouthed kisses, occasionally nibbling.
"Cuddy," he moaned, feeling her wrapped so tightly around him, his senses heightened by the gravity of what was to come. She wrapped her legs tighter around him; the last thing she would allow him to do was retreat and leave her forever.
He wiped the tears from her face with the pad of his thumb, cradling her cranium with his large hand. He gently brought her head back onto the pillow, looking into her bloodshot eyes. She was still beautiful in his eyes; she'd always be stunning in his eyes. It cut him to see her breaking down as they made love for the final time.
Her emotions burst into the surface as she sobbed, ashamed to have a breakdown at that moment. He stopped all movements but didn't pull out. He held her, anchored by his left arm while his right gently ran up and down her vertebrae, losing himself in her silkiness.
You're running away from her…
No, he corrected the voice, he was going to do the right thing for her. He loved her enough to let her go and find happiness. She'd hurt for a while, but Cuddy was strong; she'd eventually get over him.
She will never get over him, Cuddy thought. No matter how hard she tried to convince herself that she would be able to, eventually, she wouldn't. He had ruined her for any other man. She would never find someone like him.
Don't let him go…
She'd do her hardest to convince him of staying.
"Take another chance on me," she begged, the back of her hand stroking his stubbly cheek as her eyes continuously let out tears of desperation and fear of him being gone from her.
"You don't want that," he negated, shaking his head and sliding the arm he had under her up to cup her cheek, brushing her tears away again.
"It is what I want and what I need," she disclosed with finality, her voice stern but weak and trembling. "I can't lose you. I just can't." Now she knew how afraid he felt whilst trying to find a way to be with her.
House didn't answer. He braced himself on his elbows, bringing their bodies closer while she pressed her palms against his chest, looking into his eyes as he picked up where he left off. She could feel his heart beating rapidly; at the moment, she wished it was more from his crumbling resolve rather than pleasure.
He brought her to a haven of pleasure, rolling in and out of her like calm waves, gently crashing and retreating from the shore. He was being tender. It was rare, them being tender; most of the time they were passionate, heated, and incredibly satiating, blowing each other's minds away.
His hand cupped her breast, teasing her pert nipple with his thumb, making her moan into his exploring mouth, nipping at his tongue in return. He massaged her tongue with his own, their breaths mingling and mirroring the movement of their bodies.
Her hands encircled his broad shoulders, her fingers clinging onto his clavicles, and her legs tightened around him, urging him wordlessly to fill her and quicken his pace. He listened, pressing his forehead onto hers as he moved into a sinuous, intoxicating rhythm, feeling her meet his every thrust.
He watched as her face contorted into that of pleasure and satisfaction with every thrust, although her eyes took every chance they could in gazing at him, seeing through his soul. Did she know what he was planning? Did he know how much he wished it wouldn't have come down to him leaving?
He moved faster, occupying as much of her as he could, being cautious as to not offend her stitched side. She was panting beneath him, her skin warm and sweaty as his fiery one. He panted into her neck, his breath scorching her skin deliciously. She wanted this to last, she didn't want it to end; so did he.
But things would have to end eventually. Nothing ever lasted. He knew he was running away; ironically, she wanted him back.
You're not doing the right thing… You're running the way she had. Don't leave her.
He should, he knew he should.
But he couldn't voice it just yet.
Their intimacy, their closeness, the act, everything was making his resolve crumble. That wasn't an easy thing to do. Hearing her sounds of elation and asking him not to leave tore at him, ringing through his ears like an ensemble. He wasn't too keen on reaching the inevitable finale.
His heightened senses opposed what he was planning on doing later that day, telling him it would be the biggest mistake of his life. Seeing her cry beneath him struck him hard. Knowing she was truly in love with him, that she was willing to have a second go around at a relationship… her admitting that she'd been fault and that he'd equally had his fair share of it… they had a chance at actually doing better; both of them. All wasn't lost.
He just wasn't ready to admit what he wanted.
He knew what he wanted. But he thought he knew what would be best for her. It wouldn't be best for him, but he was inclined to do right by her and her daughter. They didn't need him and his over weighted baggage. He didn't even know why she wanted him back.
You know. You're just refusing to admit you do.
"I won't go anywhere," he finally decided, his voice as quiet as the wind, almost inaudible from the rains pelting her roof and the world outside.
Her heart blossomed as she gazed gratefully up at him, her smile having the power to light up a city. Her tears started again and she captured his lips with a sob, pulling him in tighter, clinging onto him with all the strength her tired body had.
He'd given in. He was taking another chance on her. On them. She was beyond thankful.
"Thank you," she whispered breathlessly, his thrusts speeding up.
He didn't respond, only moved to bring them to that nirvana they were dangling on the edge of. Her sounds were growing louder, the intensity of their sudden reunion overpowering her senses, bringing her to even greater heights. She met his rocking and rotating hips with fervor. The feeling of his wet lips showering her neck with kisses never felt so divine. Knowing he was hers again, knowing they were giving a relationship another try, revived her dying heart.
Climaxes were fast approaching as he took them there. Whimpers, groans, keens and moans joined the music of the rain as they mutually sought release, getting closer and closer. She was lost in everything that was him; the sight, his scent, his strength, and the feel of him powerful in between her legs, loving was happy again, elated.
He kissed her, she kissed back; an apology, forgiveness, given and sealed with a kiss. They were bound by a chain, eternally linking them together, inseparable.
She arched forward, resting into the curve of his arm, her grip on him tight as she clenched just as tightly around his hardness, orgasm not too far.
She expelled a breath she'd been holding in, it was coming… they were coming.
He thrust again and she came, capturing her mouth with his, swallowing her orgasmic cries. He wasn't too far behind as he felt her muscles clutch him, clenching so firmly around him. She writhed beneath him, her nails and her rocking hips giving him that final shove he needed to fall over the edge.
He exploded into her, filling her with the proof of his love and desire for her, saturating her. He continually thrust languorously in and out of her until their spasms, writhing, and orgasms ebbed into memory. He placed a kiss onto her parted mouth then her forehead before collapsing beside her, pulling her into him.
She nestled into his side, satiated and complete. He buried his nose in her hair, stroking her elbow with his callous fingers.
They would talk in the morning. For now, everything was forgiven and peaceful.
He wasn't going anywhere.
He glanced down at her, and the moment he saw her smile, he knew what he did was best for both of them, because he felt his heart swell with happiness again.
Everything and everyone, he mused, was in their rightful place.
It seemed like the tables have turned again…
With both of them having the upper hand, beating Fate, creating their own.
Morning came, blinding House with its rays of sunlight coming through the window. He wiped at his face, remembering the night before. He opened his eyes wider, feeling someone gazing at him, feeling her gaze on him.
"Good morning," she greeted breathily, breathing out through her nose and resting her arms, crossed, atop his chest.
"Morning," he replied, a hand instinctively finding its way towards her smooth back.
"I didn't fight for us… you did. I'm sorry," she suddenly apologized, knowing he deserved to hear that she'd finally learned that he wasn't the only one who screwed things up.
"You did," he countered. "Last night."
She smiled, inching forward to kiss him. "I love you," she murmured in between kisses. He said it back as he returned her kiss, content in just lying in bed with her all day… catching up.
She pulled away and sighed, sliding to his side and burrowing against his warm body. His fever had gone down, but it hadn't broken yet.
"So… now what?" he asked, looking from the ceiling to her beautiful sapphire orbs.
She grinned lopsidedly at the memory of the first time.
"We start over?" he asked, pursing his lips.
She shook her head against his shoulder, smiling contentedly.
"No… we move forward."
A/N: Loved, liked, disliked, felt like bawling upon remembering what happened in 7x15? Drop a review on your way out and let me know what you think, please! :)
Hope this was therapeutic for you guys as it was for my poor Huddy heart!
Thank you for reading!