Author's Note: This was written by request for samanthaviner. She wanted a piece about House and Cuddy's trip to Mont Saint-Michel, which we never saw on screen. This fic contains sexual situations, so if that offends you, please turn away now.
Disclaimer: I don't own the show.
By Duckie Nicks
She was already regretting this trip with House.
And it hadn't even started.
Truthfully, Cuddy had not wanted to take a vacation. It was still so early in their relationship (they'd been together for two weeks) that she felt a trip out of town wasn't exactly necessary.
More importantly, due to said relationship, work had been more hectic as of late than usual. Half her employees judged her for dating House. Really, that was what it came down to: they judged her for her dating someone they all hated. Some even had become so resentful and defiant that it wasn't rare for a third of the decisions she made on any given day to feel like tug of war matches. And given that her control over the hospital was nominal at best at this point, she didn't feel like a vacation now was a good idea.
But it seemed to be so important to House.
From the second he'd brought it up, his tone had made it seem like less of a suggestion and more of a demand. He'd never been angry or raised his voice. But every time she showed the slightest bit of hesitation, he looked as though she were breaking his heart. And she quickly realized that, if she backed out, he would be hurt.
It sounded ridiculous in her own head, but there was no denying: House would take it personally, would feel as though she were rejecting him if she pulled the plug. And what would that mean for their budding relationship then?
Cuddy had already made up her mind never to find out.
But as they sat on the tarmac, their plane refusing to take off due to some sort of mechanical problem, she couldn't help but think how she would have much rather been at home.
Instantly, the thought had her glancing impatiently at her watch. And just as quickly, she wished she hadn't.
It was 7:30 p.m.
It also meant that they'd been sitting on the tarmac for a good hour now, but Cuddy didn't care about that. Well, she did, but more than anything, she resented the fact that she could have been home with her daughter and wasn't.
Not that she blamed House for any of this, of course. Cuddy might not have been thrilled with any of this, but she could appreciate his efforts. And obviously he hadn't anticipated any of the delays they were currently experiencing.
Had he, they obviously wouldn't have been here right now. Because as agitated as she was at this particular moment, he was visibly ten times worse.
"Relax," she told him reassuringly, as he shifted impatiently in his seat for what seemed to be the hundredth time.
He suppressed a glare in her direction. Apparently, the fun of annoying the stewardesses with various requests for wine and snacks had worn off. "We've been sitting here for an hour."
"And we've still got ten more to go," she said, reaching over so she could run her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck. "Pace yourself."
"Easy for you to say," he told her peevishly. He shifted on his leather seat once more, moving his legs about as though to let her know just how miserable he was. "You're the one who needed to go to France. I would have been happy just sitting at home in my underwear, watching Real Housewives, and eating pizza all weekend."
Cuddy had to turn her head and gaze out the window to hide the incredulous look on her face.
Was he really trying to act as though she'd been the one to insist on this trip? Was he actually so unaware of his behavior the last two weeks that he couldn't see how he'd been the one to force all of this to happen?
No, she immediately decided. House had a twisted mind, but he wasn't an idiot. If he'd been behaving a certain way the past couple of weeks, he'd been doing it knowingly and willingly. And if he were blaming her now, it could only be because he was annoyed that his plan wasn't going exactly according to plan.
Realizing that he'd probably envisioned every second of their trip down to the minutest of details, Cuddy could see why he was irritated by the delay. An hour on the tarmac was an hour out of the schedule he'd created for them. And though he wasn't a perfectionist, she knew that he wanted this weekend to go perfectly. Regardless of what she wanted, he'd made it very clear that this vacation was important to him. And if something were to screw that up, he would decidedly not be happy.
Unfortunately, the plane seemed to be determined to do just that: screw up his plans. So of course, he was acting like a five year old who needed a nap.
Knowing that, Cuddy forced herself to ignore his words. She wanted to point out that this wasn't for her, but she didn't. That wouldn't help matters, and he wouldn't believe her anyway.
Sighing, she turned back to look at him. "I know," she lied. "I'm sorry for making you do this."
He waved off her apology as though she didn't need to make it. Which obviously she didn't, because she'd done nothing wrong, but she kept that to herself.
"But we're here now," she told him, her voice even and controlled. "There's nothing we can do about it. We can't get off the plane. We can't make it go any faster. So you may as well close your eyes and try to sleep –"
"It's not even eight o'clock yet," he interrupted immediately. "I can't fall asleep this early."
"Just close your eyes and try to relax."
It was the kind of thing Cuddy would tell Rachel when she refused to stay in her crib and sleep. It was not something she'd ever pictured having to tell her boyfriend.
But as House childishly shifted in his seat again, a pout on his face, she couldn't pretend he was the most mature adult on the planet.
In fact, sometimes when she was with him, she guiltily felt as though she were dating a child.
Closing her eyes, she couldn't help but think they were off to a questionable start.
She woke to the feel of his stubble scratching her shoulder and neck. His nose lightly bumped against her jaw, and he gently pressed a kiss to her skin. "Wake up," he whispered.
Cuddy fought the urge to groan.
Whatever time it was, her body told her it definitely was not morning. Her eyes closed, she slurred, "What's wrong?"
"Wake up," he repeated, not answering her question.
Immediately she could see how this conversation was going to go. She could continue asking what was wrong and try to get some idea of what he wanted. But he would never give her a direct answer until she was wide awake and paying attention to him.
Forcing her eyes open, she repeated with irritation, "What's wrong?"
"Wanna join the mile high club?"
She didn't even bother to consider if he'd meant that question to be seductive. It didn't matter, because the answer either way was a resounding, "No."
"No," she told him firmly. "Go to sleep."
Cuddy knew he wouldn't give up that easily. And when he began to let his hand slide towards her body, she quickly caught it. "Go to sleep," she repeated.
"Think about it," she interrupted impatiently. "You're over six feet tall. Bathrooms are small," she said quietly. "Your leg isn't –"
"Right. And I guess there's no way your ass could fit into –"
"I'm just saying it's not a good idea," she explained.
But as he turned away from her bitterly, all she could think was that things were decidedly not fine.
Their moods didn't exactly improve when they arrived in Paris the next morning. They had an hour to kill at Charles de Gaulle before their next flight, so they had breakfast in one of the cafes scattered along the airport. But it did little to make Cuddy feel better. In fact, if anything, the rush of caffeine from her coffee and sugar from her croissant just made her feel even less amused by this whole vacation.
House responded slightly more positively. With a belly full of eggs, prosciutto, brioche, coffee, and chocolate croissant, he seemed willing to talk to her once more. Perhaps he was just too full to care one way or the other. But either way, he seemed capable of putting behind him his disappointment over not having sex in an airplane bathroom.
On the other hand, the fact that they still had another flight and drive to handle was making him antsy. He didn't actually say the words, "Are we there yet?" But Cuddy could practically hear him thinking it, and with each second passing, that thought seemed to get louder and louder.
And it was annoying.
So by the time they actually made it to Mont Saint-Michel, they were both exhausted and irritated.
It should have been a romantic and joyous occasion as they crossed the causeway. They should have been happily discussing how beautiful it was, how warm it was, or playfully arguing about what they would do first.
Instead, they miserably headed straight for the hotel. House checked them in, speaking French flawlessly. Under normal circumstances, she would have thought it was a move meant to impress her. Hell, under normal circumstances, it would have been a move that probably did impress her. But today, she quietly stood by him and let him (more than likely) insult the desk clerk and get the keys for their room.
And by the time they actually got into the room, she was too tired to look at her surroundings. She simply crawled onto the bed and fell asleep.
They finally ventured out in the early evening. A short nap and phone call to her mother (plus one long shower) later, Cuddy felt her spirits renewed. But then she doubted it was possible to be unhappy in a place that was so gorgeous. Who could be miserable in a place like this?
The air was humid but not hot. The sun was bright, but there were plenty of clouds to keep it from being unbearable. All she'd really needed to do was throw on a soft, light purple cotton dress and some sandals, and she'd been ready to explore the museums and cathedral. Even House seemed… excited.
She hated using that word to describe him, because excited and House didn't really seem to go together. But after a shower of his own, he eagerly took her hand and guided her out of the hotel.
They'd barely walked for more than five minutes before she stopped. Knowing that she'd been wrong to be reluctant about the trip, she turned to face him. "You were right. This is nice."
As soon as she said the words, he looked unbearably smug. "Don't mention it. I mean, me being right… well, that never happens."
She dropped his hand with a scowl on her face. "You know –"
His lips against hers shut her up immediately. He kissed her roughly, his fingers snagging in her curls as he explored her mouth.
Slowly she pulled away. "You can't –"
"Don't ruin the moment, sweetheart," he said snidely. "Stop talking."
Cuddy shoved him away from her, mock annoyance flooding her features. But he refused to stay away for more than a few seconds. One of his hands wrapping around her waist, he asked her seriously, "Where to?"
She had no idea. Ideally she would have had one; she would have researched where she wanted to go or what she wanted to do before actually getting to Mont Saint-Michel. But realistically, between House and Rachel and work, she just hadn't found the time.
Rather than admit that though, she simply pulled him along for the ride.
There was no denying it: Mont Saint-Michel was one of the most unusually beautiful places she'd ever been. The quickly changing tides bashed against the rocky ground, the noise somehow audible – like a constantly present pulse – no matter where you went. Grass and vegetation grew at awkward angles against jutting rock. She would spot tan granite ill formed one second and pristinely cut to form bricks for a crypt the next. Overhead, large spires loomed, a golden statue of Michael stretching for the pale blue sky.
Overall… it was an odd combination of things: beauty and practicality, a monument to human spirituality and a cold fortress that seemed almost unfriendly at times. But Cuddy could feel herself falling in love with this place.
House on the other hand… well, she wasn't quite so sure how he felt about it. Because as much as she loved it, she could understand why someone else might not.
At least, she could understand why he would not:
There was a lot of walking to do.
Her own leg muscles aching and burning, she couldn't imagine how painful some of their exploring was for him. Between the uneven ground beneath their feet and the inclines on each path, it couldn't have been easy for him.
But every time she tried to bring it up, he was quick to dismiss her. "I'm fine. Keep going."
Yet the longer they kept exploring, the more obvious it seemed: he was not okay. Everything about him looked pained. He was sweating a little, even though it wasn't hot. His limp was more pronounced than it had been when they'd started. His hand gripped his cane so tightly that his knuckles had turned white. And though she knew he didn't want her to say anything, she couldn't keep quiet anymore.
"House," she told him tentatively. "Maybe we should sit down."
He looked at her carefully, his mind obviously assessing her motives. He did not like what he saw. "I told you. I'm fine." The words came out angrily, and as soon as he said them, she could see that he regret it.
Tugging at her hand, he guided her into a quiet alley adjacent to where they'd been standing. It was clear by his intent that he didn't want to have this discussion in front of strangers. Which was odd, because fighting with her was hardly something he usually wanted to keep private. The fact that he seemed intent on telling the entire hospital she gave blow jobs was proof enough that privacy was a concept he didn't understand. But there he was, pulling her out of the fray anyway.
When they were in the shadows, he let her go.
"You're not fine," she insisted. "You're in pain."
"Yes," he practically hissed. "I'm in pain. What else is new?"
House clearly wanted to dismiss her concern. But even as he said that, he was reaching into his pocket for a prescription ibuprofen.
"You're in more pain," she corrected herself calmly. "I don't want that."
He swallowed the pill. "Well, what did you think was going to happen when we traveled to a place that requires you to walk everywhere? You think I was going to sprout wings and fly?"
"House…" she said carefully. "I didn't ask you to take me to France. You make it seem like I forced you to bring me here, but I didn't –"
"Would you stop?" he demanded. "I brought you here, because you wanted to come here. I –"
"No," she said quickly. He was not going to pin all of this on her. "I wanted to come here years ago. I didn't ask you to remember my screensaver. I didn't ask you to take me here. In fact, if you hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have even remembered –"
"It is not my fault for wanting to give my girlfriend a vacation," he snarled.
When he put it like that… Cuddy couldn't deny that he was right.
"It is not my fault for asking you to come. And it's definitely not my fault," he told her sternly. "That you can't deal with me being in pain."
She shook her head. "That's not – that's not what I'm doing." He didn't say anything. "I understand that you're hurting."
"Didn't say you didn't," he said with a wave of one of his hands.
Her brow wrinkled in confusion. "Then –"
"What you don't get is that I'm going to be in pain either way."
"House, I know –"
"Rationally, you understand," he conceded quickly. "But be honest. You're not used to having to face all of this outside of work."
Cuddy looked away from him. He wasn't being harsh or critical then. Even though he'd seemed angry moments ago, she could see now that he wasn't exactly mad. Frustrated seemed like a better adjective. And she guessed she understood that now.
He was right, of course.
She wasn't prepared for this part of their relationship.
Having been one of the people involved with removing the dead muscle in his leg, she knew, obviously, that he suffered from chronic pain. Others might not have known, but she was more than aware of what that pain had driven him to do over the years. And even though his pain levels had gone down after he'd been taken off the Vicodin, it had been impossible to miss the instances where he still seemed consumed by his own pain. Yet, he was right: she hadn't had to deal with it on any real personal level.
Throughout the years, she'd seen him in various states of desperation, yes. But at the end of the day, she'd always been able to divorce herself from his reality when she'd chosen to. She'd been able to go home and focus on other things.
Now… she couldn't.
House wasn't just her friend or her employee.
He was her lover.
And now, she had to be willing to face his pain in times and places that weren't convenient for her. She had to deal with it, just as he had had to. There was to be no divorcing herself from this, not if she wanted their relationship to work.
And part of that meant she needed to accept:
She couldn't make it all go away.
It didn't matter what she did or didn't do. It didn't matter if they went back to the hotel now or had stayed at home.
He would hurt either way.
Knowing that, she felt guilty immediately. If she hadn't insisted on the surgery….
"It's not your fault," he reassured her quietly.
She blinked slowly. Sometimes it still surprised her how well he knew her, knew her thoughts, and right now, it stunned her into silence.
"There's nothing you can do," he continued.
Her tongue touching her teeth, she struggled to find the right words. "I hate that," she finally admitted. "I wish –"
"You want to make this better?" She didn't have time to say yes or nod her head before he told her, "First, you can stop asking me if I'm okay. It's annoying."
"Okay." Her voice was meek. She hadn't meant to offend him, but clearly she had.
"Secondly, trust that if something's wrong, I'll let you know. If I want to stop and return to the hotel, I'll say that."
Cuddy doubted that that was true. She strongly suspected that he would have carried on for her.
"Thirdly," he said quickly, speaking before she could object. "If you really want to make this better…." His voice became dangerously low. "Take off your panties right now."
She couldn't help but laugh a little out of nervousness. "You're asking me to have sex… here?"
"I'm not asking to borrow a pair of underwear."
She was fully clothed, but at that moment, with the way his bright eyes looked at her hungrily… she couldn't help but feel completely naked… vulnerable. Nervously she licked her lips. "But –"
"I said I'm fine. Besides, endorphins –"
"That's not what I was going to say," she interrupted before he had a chance to become angry. "I was going to say it's still light out."
The words sounded stupid, even to her own ears. But it had been what she was thinking. Although the sun was slowly sinking in the horizon, it was still fairly bright out. The sky might have had beautiful hues of pinks and yellow streaking through it, but that wouldn't stop anyone from seeing them having sex in an alley.
"No one can see us from here," he said calmly. "You'd have to purposely turn down this street and walk a couple feet before you even caught sight of us. And by that time, we would have heard them anyway."
Part of her felt that she should say no. If they got caught or arrested, it would be hard to explain to... whomever why she'd felt the need to have sex with her boyfriend in a shady alley.
"I think we're standing next to a church," Cuddy explained, patting the wall of tan, aged brick next to her.
He simply shrugged. "That would be a problem if either of us were Catholic. But since you're a Jew and I don't give a –"
"That doesn't mean we should have sex near one," she said in a voice that was barely a whisper. She wasn't sure why she spoke so quietly, but part of her was stupidly convinced that using a normal voice meant she would be caught.
House's reaction was to lead her gently into the enclave they were standing in.
Barely more than a few inches away from the brick walls, she felt as though she were trapped between the buildings and House's body.
But she didn't resent that.
If anything she felt… safe. In spite of everything – the odd surroundings, the likelihood that they would be caught – she felt safe with him, protected.
"I won't let anything happen to you."
Had he known those were the words she needed him to say? She couldn't be sure.
On the other hand, she knew that that was precisely what she wanted to hear.
Her head nodding a little, she didn't say okay, yes, or anything else for that matter. She didn't need to say anything. Kissing him, she hoped, would be more than enough to give her consent to him.
He seemed to understand completely.
As her mouth parted, he pressed her back against one of the brick walls. In the back of her mind, she thought that maybe it wasn't a good idea to do that. The walls gave the illusion of being smooth, but the reality was they could still scrape and scratch her. And since most of the walls on Mont Saint-Michel were old and lightly dusted with moss or algae or something along those lines, she rationally understood that rubbing her dress against them was probably not a good idea either.
But he felt so good against her.
So she wasn't going to stop him.
Not for that.
As it was, he couldn't even pause long enough to set his cane down. Instead choosing to let it fall to the ground with a loud clatter, he didn't seem to care about anything other than her.
His hands now free, he immediately set them upon her. One cupped her cheek as he kissed her. His lips pressed firmly against hers, his other hand ran the length of her side, from her hip to her breast.
She pulled away from him, a bead of saliva connecting them even as their mouths parted.
"Hand over the panties," he said, echoing his earlier words.
She cringed. "Panties?" She shook her head. "I hate that word."
He quickly pressed his hand to her crotch, the thin material of her dress catching between her thighs. "Whatever you're wearing right there," he said. "Take it off."
Cuddy smiled at his irritation. Even as she carefully reached under her dress, she told him, "It's not a good word."
"I don't care," he snapped, grabbing the underwear out of her hands instantly.
She shrugged, noticing that he pocketed her thong. She made a mental note to demand it back. "Well, I guess I do."
"Listen to me, Cuddy," he said warningly. The look in his eyes was dark, lewd, and he slowly unzipped his pants. "We're about to have sex in public. Near a church, even."
She wasn't sure why he felt it was important to mention the church now, especially when he felt so compelled to dismiss its existence earlier. But she kept all of that to herself.
"This probably isn't the best time to discuss vocabulary." She nodded her head in agreement. It definitely wasn't.
And with that matter settled, he gripped her wrist with one of his hands. Roughly spinning her around, he pushed her towards the wall.
She had to hold her palms up to stop herself from crashing head first into the brick. But House didn't care about that.
Her legs spreading on their own accord, she could hear him shuffling around to pull his dick out. She swallowed hard, as the denim of his jeans brushed against the back of her legs and ass.
Sensing what was about to happen, she tried to crane her head to see him. But he quickly barked at her, "Face the wall."
She did as he was told. It wasn't easy, however, to stare at her hands flat against the wall, all the while knowing he was about to enter her. But she did as he had ordered.
If he could work so hard to give her this vacation, then she could certainly do what he wanted for the next several minutes.
Yet all of that thinking went down the drain when she felt his knuckles brush against her inner thighs.
He was, she realized hotly, guiding his cock to her opening. And though she hadn't planned on looking back, she couldn't help but do so at the first feel of his dick.
House used one of his hands to roughly grab her neck. "No. Nice try though."
She forced herself to face the wall once more.
Of course, she didn't want to. But the funny thing about their relationship was that, as young as it was, she already knew how it worked. Other couples would still be grappling for the most cursory of understandings about one another, but Cuddy already knew what their dynamic was and how it shifted in certain situations.
So she knew, when he wanted something, when he wanted it as much as he seemed to want this, it was pointless to fight him.
He would win.
And when it came to sex, fighting him was even more unnecessary. Because to give him what he wanted was to, in the end, get precisely what she needed.
This was no different.
As soon as she faced the wall, he once more began to slowly guide himself into her wet pussy.
Tentatively he pushed inside of her. Urgency swelled within her body as palpably as his cock filled her body, but there was no rushing this. Even if she wanted him to, they couldn't.
It was too awkward of a position for that.
Perhaps if she'd worn heels, it would have been easier. But in flats, their height difference was most pronounced. And House was careful with his first several thrusts. He was testing the situation out, trying to find the right angle and movement to use.
"That feel okay?" he asked after a minute or two of gently penetrating her.
Her laugh caught in the back of her throat. "God, House, if you have to ask that…."
At that, he settled behind her. His hands quickly bunched her dress between the small of her back and his stomach. When he was satisfied the material wouldn't get in the way, he let go. Quickly, his palms covered her fingertips, which were pressed against the wall. His chin coming to rest on her shoulder, he began to move in her with confidence.
His pubic hair tickled her soft ass as he pushed in her deeply. He was hot and so close to her, making her feel so cocooned, despite their surroundings.
Perhaps she should have been worried about someone catching them. But as he rocked his hips against her, all she could think of was him and how much he was turning her own.
Her stomach churned with that heavy fullness she only felt when she was desperate to be filled and fucked. Her inner muscles slicked with desire, she knew it wouldn't take her long.
And he knew it as well. His fingers lacing in between hers, she could feel how sweaty his palms were becoming. She wouldn't be the only one coming soon.
But his voice was cool and controlled when he asked her, "You still worried about someone catching us?"
"No," she answered immediately. Her clitoris twitched as he went especially deep. And her response was the truth: she didn't care about that at all. She couldn't even if she'd tried.
"No?" he repeated, pretending to be surprised by her answer. "You mean if someone were to come walking down the street right now…." He took a moment to grunt as she squeezed his cock with her muscles. "You'd want me to keep fucking you?"
She refused to answer yes. Instead she nodded her head, her forehead nearly banging against the wall as she did so.
"Yes?" Again he pretended to be surprised. "Well, aren't you a dirty girl," he cooed in her ear. He quickened his pace. "You like being taken where other people can see you?"
She shook her head. That wasn't what she'd meant.
But House wasn't going to play it like that. "No? That's not what you just said," he told her, moving one hand to her ass. "Are you lying to me?"
"No," she forced herself to say.
"Touch yourself," he said immediately. "Touch your little pussy and tell me you aren't sopping wet at the idea of someone coming along and watching you."
Obviously, Cuddy knew she wasn't turned on by that idea. But she wasn't going to refuse touching herself. Not when she was so close.
The second her middle finger stroked herself, she gasped loudly.
"You like this," he said knowingly.
"Yes." Her response was eager and loud.
"Shhh," he whispered in her ear. "Unless you want people to know what a naughty little girl you are, I'd keep it down."
Through gritted teeth, to stop herself from screaming it, she muttered, "I do not like the idea of other people watching."
He rubbed her ass encouragingly. "Then you better come soon or –"
How that sentence ended, she would never know.
Louder than she'd wanted, she came at that moment, taking him noisily over the edge with her.
Later that night, they'd decided to take a bath. Admittedly, as a general rule, Cuddy wasn't a fan of taking baths in hotel tubs. There was something off putting about not knowing who else had been in there. But this one looked reasonably clean, and she couldn't exactly pass up a naked and wet House when he asked her to join him.
Yet, she found herself regretting that decision the second she settled in the hot water. The upper part of her back and the palms of her hand were covered with tiny invisible scratches. And soaking those parts of her body in the water made them ache painfully.
Immediately pulling her hands out of the water, she looked back at House. "That's the last time I have sex with you against a brick wall."
He simply shrugged and kissed her neck. "Well, it was fun while it lasted."
She snorted unceremoniously as he pulled her hands into his. As he began to play with her fingers, he added, "And as long as you're okay with other walls…."
To be completely honest, his good mood surprised her. After their long trip, after all of the walking they did, she'd expected him to be… miserable, actually. He was in pain after all, and pain usually made him act like an ass. But right now, in that moment, he was surprisingly content to be with her.
She didn't know if it was the sex, their relationship, or something else making him so complacent. But in that particular instant, she didn't care. Leaning back against him, she simply allowed herself to enjoy the moment.
She woke up to him looking absolutely crushed.
He was standing in front of one of the windows in the room, his profile visible to her. He was frowning. He looked sad… depressed even.
Immediately she sat up.
"What's wrong?" she asked, her voice hoarse with sleep.
He blinked in surprise. He hadn't noticed her waking up, apparently.
Slowly turning to face her, he explained, "It's raining outside."
She shrugged. "So?"
"So," he said annoyed. "I thought you'd want the morning to explore some more before we have to leave."
Truthfully, she would have liked that. But she would never admit that, not when he looked so unhappy that his plans had been interrupted.
"That's okay," she told him in a sympathetic voice.
"No, it's not." He shook his head. "The day's ruined."
Standing up, she let the sheets fall off her naked form. As she headed towards him, she offered him a genuine smile. Pressing her body to his, she brushed her lips over his chest.
"Oh, I don't know about that," she said knowingly. "I'm sure we can think of something to do that doesn't involve going outside."
Slowly he returned the smile, realizing just how right she was about that.