A/N: Something came up that I feel strongly enough about that I'd like to enlist my readers as eyes out there. Not that I think it's likely to happen, but just in case. Now that the possibility was brought up, it worries me. Regarding the chance of other stories in the Pranks universe not written by me, there will never be any - at least no authorized ones. I will never give anybody permission to use this world in their writing, and should any of you run across any stories that "borrow" it anyway without asking, I'd appreciate knowing. I have given somebody permission to translate one of the other stories (non Pranks, just a one-shot), into French, but even translation permission for anything in the Pranks world would be refused. I don't want Pranks that out of my control, in a language I can't read.

The reason is that this series is far too close to me. I've said before that the character of Jensen is based on my mother. She was always my best friend, but the mind is gone at this point. Only the body remains, and only I visit her regularly anymore. In a way, she lives on as she was in my writing, mainly at the moment in Pranks and in one other significant WIP (that's the one I hope to finish out next and ultimately publish, and I do mean actually publish). But no other author out there knew the original; thus, nobody else could ever quite hit Jensen right, with Mom's basic flavor mixed with some of her quirks and a couple of his own individual twists, and it would be beyond painful to me to see it done slightly off. With all due respect to the other talented authors out there, it wouldn't work.

It had honestly never occurred to me that anybody else might try to write a Pranks story or a spin-off from this 'verse, but now that it's been mentioned, if anybody ever does, I would appreciate knowing. I know it has been done with a few other AUs in fanfiction, but with the Pranks world, I would object to the point of asking for complete removal from all sites.

Also one further point. Like I said, the trial of Patrick Chandler does not occur in Three Cases. In fact, it hasn't even taken place yet at the time of that story; big criminal trials do often take an amazing amount of time to get heard, can even be over a year. So for all the "What about the formal trial" wonderers, the answer is, "I don't know." It might well occur in something past Three Cases. It might just be mentioned in summary in a later story (as opposed to just mentioning that the judicial ball is still rolling, which is what is mentioned in Three Cases). It's up to my muse, not me. But there will be no "just throw in a little story on this meanwhile, why don't you?" I could not possibly pre-empt her like that; it would backfire. My muse is in charge here, not me. If I had been expecting anything specifically, I would have expected the trial in the next story after Medical Homicide, too, but she obviously had other ideas. She may have others down the road involving the trial that I don't know yet. I can pretty much guarantee that Patrick gets what's coming to him, but beyond that, I don't know blow-by-blow details or if that appears as a main part of a story.

So summary of a longish A/N: First, this AU is mine, and nobody else has or ever will have my permission to use it. Please respect my wishes on this. Second, about the trial, I don't know, but I'm not going to try to slap something together on my own efforts just to show the trial and throw it in without my muse's participation. For one, the time line would be wrong. For another, the few times I have ever tried writing without her holding the reins, it didn't work. To put it mildly. I don't know that we won't get the trial. I don't know that we will. But we won't get it in Three Cases, for certain. Patience is a virtue. :)

Enjoy the end of Sick Day, and thanks for all the reviews.



Cuddy flushed the toilet and stood back up with a slight groan. She was now well into the vomiting stage of the virus herself and felt utterly miserable, and her side was progressively hurting more. Rachel had thrown up once more, but Abby hadn't. Hopefully Abby would come off lightly with this. House still seemed the sickest of all of them, although definitely better in terms of pain than he had been. She looked at her watch - late afternoon - and wondered how a day spent basically doing nothing could be so exhausting. With a sigh, she turned to exit the bathroom.

The family was in the living room at this point, House and Rachel both stubbornly insisting that they'd had enough of bed. He was, of course, sprawled across the couch instead with his leg up, not in a much different position than he would have been in the bedroom, but she guessed lying down in a different room was some kind of masculine victory. Abby and Rachel were both on the couch with him, Abby actually on top of him, as was Belle, but all three of his "girls" were being conspicuously careful of him, and he noticed. She saw the shadow in his eyes as she re-entered the living room.

Wilson was sitting in the recliner. The oncologist had cleaned their entire house at this point in between dispensing more fluids and meds for everybody and keeping track of temperatures - House still highest but slowly coming down. Now Wilson was taking a break and had borrowed House's laptop. He had a worried frown between his eyes. "It says here that the chances of in utero transmission with a primary infection are much greater than secondary."

"Yep," House replied. "I already told you that."

Cuddy walked across the room. "Wilson, leave him alone. You'll have plenty of time to do research when he isn't sick."

Rachel immediately fired off her own supplemental command. "Leave him alone! Bad Wilson!"

House sighed and shook his head slightly. "I'm not going to break by answering a few questions, you two. It's just a virus." He trailed off, studying Cuddy as she came back to the couch. "You okay, Lisa?"

"Just a virus," she repeated, catching his own words and throwing them back at him.

"You're walking a little crooked."

She straightened up and hid the flinch. "My stomach is hurting. It goes along with the virus, plus I haven't exercised my throw-up muscles this much lately. To quote you, I'm not going to break." She picked up his head and sat down on the end of the couch, letting his head fall back gently into her lap. One hand unobtrusively brushed across the scar on his neck, trying to check his pulse. She knew the drugs should be wearing off on him soon.

He noticed, of course, and turned his head sharply, pulling away from her hand. Unfortunately, in his shifting, he bumped into the heat patch she had on her right side. So far, she had managed to keep him to her left. He immediately sat up, turning to raise her shirt.

Wilson looked up from his internet research. "Want me to watch the kids for a bit while you guys take a 'break'?"

"Shut up, Wilson," Cuddy snapped. "Greg, I'm fine." He finished working her shirt out from under her clamped-down arm and stared at the heat patch. "I thought it might help the nausea a bit," she tried. "I got one for me when I put one on your leg a while ago."

He shook his head firmly. "Stomach's more central and higher. That's more on the right side, and it's not because of nausea." He started running his hands along her side, and she flinched.

"I . . . think I pulled a muscle somehow. It's been bothering me all day, but it will get better. I'm sure the vomiting isn't helping much. It does feel better with the heat patch."

He studied her skeptically, not quite believing her words, then the blue eyes widened as he put it together. "Pulling me up from the floor this morning. You were moving a lot better before that, and that's about when the 'aches' started."

She sighed. "It's not your fault, Greg. You couldn't help it."

His eyes were glittering with annoyance now, annoyance with himself. He put the patch back on and lowered her shirt again, then shifted over to sit beside her - sitting down now, not stretching his leg out.

"Greg, you didn't mean to. And I'm sure the virus is making things worse."

He shook his head. "Should have been paying more attention. I'm sorry, Lisa."

Immediately, she leaned over and kissed him, ignoring the twinge in her side as she shifted.

Rachel and Abby had been watching this scene with interest, unsure now if they needed to worry about their other parent as well. Cuddy broke away from House and met two sets of concerned eyes. "I'm fine, girls. It's just a pulled muscle. Greg, stretch your leg back out."

"Mama okay?" Rachel asked.

"Yes. I'll be all better soon, just like the rest of us." Searching for a distraction, Cuddy seized Disney. "Why don't we watch the Aristocats?"

Rachel hopped off the couch and headed to get the movie. Abby was still looking at Cuddy, and House was looking away. Cuddy grasped his shoulders and pulled him back down, positioning his head carefully on her left leg. "It's okay, Greg. It's okay, Abby. Really."

Rachel returned with the movie, and Wilson put it in the DVD player. The entire House family, on the couch, settled down to watch, but House was still tense with perceived failure, and Abby and Rachel took longer to get absorbed in the movie than they usually did. Cuddy studiously watched it herself, trying to look perfectly all right to reassure her husband. The movie rolled on through about the first half when Rachel hopped off her father (carefully) to the floor. "Gotta go potty."

Wilson paused the cartoon. "Do you need to throw up, Rachel?" Cuddy asked.

Rachel shook her head. "Just potty." She headed back toward the bathroom.

Wilson stood up. "I'll help her; you guys stay put. That's good, at least. She's still keeping fluids going through." He disappeared down the hall, and Cuddy and House looked at each other with near identical assessing expressions, though different targets.

"You're bracing your side with your arm," he noted.

She pulled her arm away. "Makes it feel a little better. It's just a pulled muscle, Greg." Actually, she had noticed as the movie progressed that the muscle was grabbing her somewhat when she laughed now. She studied him. The skin around his eyes was tightened up again, and she could see the rising pain in his eyes. She took his pulse, not being subtle about it this time. "You need another shot, Greg."

"Maybe I could try a . . ."

"No. You haven't really kept down even ginger ale that well yet, and we don't want things to get out of hand again." Rachel and Wilson came back into the living room just then. "Wilson, would you go get some more medicine for Greg? Morphine and diazepam both."

Wilson ran a quick differential on House himself. "Right. Be right back."

"I don't need much," House protested. "Not like last time."

Rachel climbed carefully back on him and touched his leg gently. "Take 'cine, Dada."

House rolled his eyes up to look at Cuddy. "You taught her that."

"I . . .didn't exactly teach her that. I just told her that sometimes you didn't want to take it when you should and got stubborn instead."

"And so she should ask me to. Because I'll do anything for my daughters." The annoyance was rising again. "I can just see this, for the rest of my life, every other minute, they'll be trying to . . ."

"I told her it doesn't always hurt so badly. She knows it's usually better than this. But tonight isn't the rest of your life, Greg."

He was still mad, she could tell. So could Abby, who, sitting on top of him and propped against the back of the couch, reached forward and touched his face. "Okay?" she asked.

"I'm fine," he snapped, then immediately looked guilty. "I apologize, Abby. I shouldn't have used that tone with you. I'm okay." He looked down at Rachel, who was starting to pat gently around his leg in her own quasi-exam.

Cuddy started to wonder herself if she'd overdone things with Rachel earlier. "Leave it alone, Rachel. Wilson went to get some more medicine; that's all he needs. Poking it won't help."

"She wasn't poking it," House noted. "She was being very careful. Since I'm so fragile, you know."

Wilson returned down the hall with two syringes and an alcohol pad. House sighed but held out his right arm without further resistance, and Rachel flinched in sympathy and Abby watched in interest as the needles plunged home. House slowly relaxed. "Anybody need a refill on the drinks before we start the show again?" Wilson asked. He checked glasses - Cuddy's mostly empty, House's mostly still full, the girls pretty well down their sippy cups - and took three out of four into the kitchen for refills.

House took another few sips of his ginger ale while the pain was down about as far as it was going to get. Wilson obligingly hadn't given him as much that time, not enough to knock him clear out, but he could definitely feel the effects of the drugs. His mind had scattered clouds drifting through it. He sighed and closed his eyes. In marked contrast to everything most people had believed of him over the years, he really did not like feeling numbed out or having his thoughts slightly scrambled. His mind had been the one constant he could rely on, the one thing he had had control of through his childhood and on into adulthood, especially after the infarction. The whole reason he'd selected Vicodin, and he had indeed tried several other meds, is that it kept the pain tolerable, though sometimes barely, without interfering with the razor edge of his cognitive abilities. Anything else he had tried either did not work well enough or worked too well.

Cuddy stroked his hair lightly. "Is that better, Greg?" Even with his eyes closed, she could tell he was thinking and wasn't enjoying his thoughts that much. Not solely the girls finding out he had chronic pain, not at the moment, anyway.

"Mmm hmm. Terms of the leg, anyway." He sounded somewhat drowsy, but his tone still had an edge on it.

She kissed him again, a silent apology, and then stood up herself, gently moving his head over. "I think I'll take a trip through the bathroom too before you restart the movie, Wilson. And no, not to throw up." She returned a few minutes later, arm braced against her side again as she came back over to the couch.

House watched her, his slightly hazy thoughts trying to grasp onto something important. Puzzle pieces, albeit slightly fuzzy ones, clicking into place. He sat up, moving the girls over. "Lisa, I don't think this is a pulled muscle."

She dismissed the thought with a brisk shake of the head. "I first noticed it helping you up. It's been slowly focusing all day right along the muscles of the side."

"Nausea, vomiting, low grade fever, slowly localizing pain from general abdomen to right lower quadrant." He reached for her side again, fingers probing, and she jumped. "Lisa, I don't think you've got the virus, at least not in isolation if you do. I think you've got appendicitis."

"That's ridiculous. It's just a bug, same as the rest of you have."

"Why is that ridiculous?" he challenged. "You think it's impossible for you to get appendicitis? Or, let me guess, you haven't got time for it." He turned to the oncologist. "Wilson, come over here. Second opinion. Right along McBurney's point."

The oncologist stood up from his chair and came over, unable to resist a sideways apologetic glance at House, as if ensuring permission, as he reached for his best friend's wife. He palpated the relevant area, and Cuddy pulled back with a slight hiss of indrawn breath. "I really think he's right," Wilson confirmed. "They didn't take her appendix out when they did all that surgery last year?"

"You mean the emergency surgery while she was unstable and trying to bleed out?" House reminded him. "They were hardly thinking of 'while we're in the abdominal neighborhood anyway' procedures right then."

The girls had been watching this silently, eyes growing more and more concerned, but now Rachel couldn't keep quiet any longer. "Mama?

"I'm fine," Cuddy insisted. "Your father is just imagining things. . ." Probably even subconsciously to divert the attention and concern of his daughters off himself.

House cut her off, turning to his daughter. "Rachel, your mother is sick. Worse than any of us right now. She'll be fine, as long as she goes to the doctor tonight. But she's being stubborn and doesn't want to go. She needs to go to the doctor so she'll get well. They'll fix her right up there."

"That is so unfair," Cuddy protested.

Rachel slid off the couch and trotted around her father to Cuddy, putting a hand on her arm. "Go doctor, Mama."

"Come on," House urged. "One ultrasound in the ER. That will be diagnostic. If I'm wrong, I'll wear a lab coat at work for the next 6 months. Isn't winning that bet worth an hour of your evening in the ER? And if I'm right, and this is early, they can try doing it laparoscopically. It's not exactly at the old surgery site; maybe adhesions wouldn't be bad enough just there to make them go to open. If they can do laparoscopic, you'll be home tomorrow morning and back at work in a week. Nothing to it." He stood up, wobbling at first, nearly overbalancing, and then catching himself on the cane. "Wilson, stay here with the girls. I'll take Lisa. . ."

The oncologist put a firm hand on his friend's arm. "House, you can't drive. Not with what I just gave you."

House looked so crestfallen, as if this, too, were a failure on his part, that Cuddy suddenly yielded, standing up and briskly taking charge. "He's right, Greg. You aren't safe to drive right now. Okay, I'll go to the ER, although I still think you're wrong. But the lab coat is worth proving that to you. Wilson drives, though. And we'll call Marina to come stay with the girls." She marched to the phone with her firm, administrative step, even if her arm was still braced against the pain in her side.


The ER was humming with weekend activity, the one point of the hospital more busy than during the week as the true emergencies were supplemented by people encountering cases of emergency sniffles - or the 24-hour stomach bug, which was indeed going around - and thinking they would die before their doctor opened in the morning. Cuddy was accelerated through the line, though. No point in having rank if you didn't pull it now and then, as House said. She lay in a cubicle now, House sitting down on one side of her, Wilson hovering but unable to find anything to do at the moment. "Greg, this is crazy," she insisted again. "It's just a pulled muscle crossed with a bug."

He looked at her. "I thought you trusted me at least medically," he said, unable to keep a bit of pain from showing through his tone. He still looked like he wasn't feeling close to well himself.

Cuddy sighed and squeezed his hand. "I do trust you, Greg. Medically and personally. But you started thinking something more was wrong right after getting those extra meds. You know they affect your thoughts a bit. I think you're chemically imagining things."

"And Wilson, too?" he asked.

The curtain pulled back, and the radiology tech entered with the portable ultrasound on a cart. "Good evening, Dr. Cuddy."

House glared at her. "If this were a good evening, would we be spending it here?"

The tech ignored him, exposing Cuddy's lower abdomen and applying the gel. They all watched as the wand moved over her right lower quadrant. "Definitely appendicitis," the tech confirmed. "Not too inflamed yet, though. You caught it early; that's good." She stood up and handed Cuddy some tissues to wipe the gel off. "They'll get surgery in for a consult."

Cuddy closed her eyes. That couldn't be right. She didn't have time for this. But the ultrasound, as House had said, was diagnostic. House. She opened her eyes again, looking at her husband in apology, but not a trace of "I told you so" was in his eyes. He squeezed her hand.

"They'll try it laparoscopic, Lisa. That's not that big a deal at all, much faster to get over. And I'll watch to make sure they do it right, won't let them go to open unless I agree there's no chance the easy way."

She sighed. "I'm sorry."

He kissed her deeply. "And how is getting appendicitis your fault?"

"I mean not trusting you. Even drugged, you can diagnose circles around any other doctor on staff. This isn't how Christmas was supposed to go, though. We were trying so hard to make it different for you, to get some new replacement memories this year. This isn't quite what we had in mind."

"This is different, Lisa. We're together. And we'll still do the tree some time in a day or two when Rachel and I are well. You can supervise from the couch and administrate it. You'll be perfectly fine by Christmas itself. Today was already a loss from original plans even before this. And even at that, it was a family day. Never had anything like that while I was growing up, not being together in spite of things, trust me. It is a replacement memory." He lurched to his feet, catching his balance. "And we'll continue this conversation in just a minute after I go throw up." He pushed through the privacy curtain, heading for the nearby ER bathroom.

Cuddy gave a sad smile. Even being sick together as a family was a positive memory for him, a stark contrast to childhood. "Wilson, follow him, would you? Make sure he can get back up." The oncologist promptly answered the call of duty, exiting the cubicle himself. A couple with a small child in their arms was just following a nurse through the ER, and he hesitated to let them pass, noting the mutual concern, the physical and emotional closeness that was obvious. Those two, as well, were a family, even here in the ER. With a sigh, Wilson continued his trek to the bathroom to check on House.


House sat next to Cuddy's bed in the recovery area. The surgery had been like clockwork, a refreshingly routine case, just a few adhesions to dodge. They had done it laparoscopically, and now, he was waiting for her to wake up.

Wilson entered the long room and came over to Cuddy's bed, holding out a can of ginger ale and a small packet to House. His friend took the one and looked suspiciously at the other. "Zofran sample," Wilson stated. "My office is full of them. Merry Christmas."

House unwrapped the pill and swallowed. "Thanks. A gift with some real thought put into it; we'll mark this down under future memories to share, too."

"How is she?"

"Perfectly stable. Hasn't woken up yet, but she will soon." House tilted his head, looking at his friend. Even weak, slightly bloodshot, and slightly hazy, the blue eyes still had their diagnostic fire. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Wilson insisted. "Nothing new, anyway; consult your previous list."

House shook his head. "Uh uh. Something is definitely more wrong than it was 15 minutes ago when you left to go get me a drink. Let's see, not long enough time for a patient to die. Besides, your personal guilt index is even higher. Ergo, you called Sandra while you were up getting the Zofran from your office to update her. So something is more wrong with her than it was before, and you just found this out. Let me guess; does she have the virus, too?"

Wilson sighed. "Why on earth do I ever try to avoid telling you things? It's just a challenge for you."

"So go home and be there for her."

"But you're sick yourself, and Cuddy just had surgery." The oncologist was definitely stuck between two opposing duties at the moment, being there for his friend versus hurrying home to try to be there for Sandra, to try to do something, even if minor, to make things easier for her after he had made them so impossibly more difficult.

"Routine surgery, not a hitch. And I'm starting to feel a little better than I was, definitely better than this morning. Really. And I'm also in the hospital with help all over the place if needed. I'll be careful, I promise, and not even enter bathrooms alone for a while. Scram, Wilson. You can actually do something to help her at the moment. Seize the day; it will help show her you still care."

Wilson studied his friend, gauging his sincerity. "Cuddy would kill me for leaving you alone here."

"I'm not alone, and the situation here is stable. Really, I'm okay with it. This isn't a crisis; it's just a pothole in the road. Go be there for Sandra."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. I'd get up and give you a boost out the door, but I'm not quite feeling like physically evicting you yet. So save me the trouble and leave."

Wilson gave a relieved sigh. While he felt he should be with House, he really did want to be with Sandra right now to try to help ease things for her. "Okay. But you have to tell Cuddy this was your idea."

"I will. You're too useful at times for me to let her kill you. And Wilson," House added as his friend turned toward the door.

The oncologist stopped, looking back. "Yes?"

House dropped the sarcasm. "Thanks for helping us out today."

Wilson smiled, feeling a little better suddenly. "You're welcome, House."

House sat there by Cuddy's side, holding her hand, his still slightly cloudy thoughts drifting through the past and the present. He hadn't been lying to Wilson, and that fact suddenly struck him as amazing. So many times through life, he had pushed people away, had lied about how he felt, but he wasn't right now. He really was okay. Yes, he still felt sick; yes, tonight had been stressful; but he truly felt he was okay and was dealing with it all as well as he could. It was still, as he'd told Cuddy, a good replacement memory. They had gone through the day together. He had a family and friends, a support system, and he had used it, but right now, he appreciated the private moment of introspection.

He was okay. He had handled a tough day and was coming out fairly sound on the other side. Even if he hadn't known Jensen was sick this weekend, too, though probably starting to feel better by now, he wouldn't have felt the need to disrupt the psychiatrist's evening with an emergency call to talk tonight. Other things he needed to talk about, yes, but nothing at this point tonight was an emergency. He was suddenly completely content, just sitting here watching his wife. Today had been a bad day, but there would be other good ones. This was family. This was what he had now. The past was over, and his life was getting better.

House lifted Cuddy's hand to his lips and kissed the fingers lightly. "Thank you," he whispered.


Late that night, Cuddy opened her eyes again in her private room after a couple more hours of sleep. She remembered waking up briefly in recovery, House assuring her that the surgery had gone well and had been the minimally invasive procedure, but the anesthesia had still pulled her back down quickly into sleep. She definitely felt better now, though slightly sore. In fact, she felt better than she had all day, making her wonder if she had had the virus after all, as he'd said. Of course, if she hadn't, she might yet, but it was, as they'd been saying all day, just a virus.

House was asleep in the chair by her bed, his head lolled sideways, his leg stretched out straight, though not propped up. An acutely uncomfortable-looking position. She squeezed his fingers, which were still holding hers, and he quickly woke up. "Hi," she said.

"Hi. Feeling better?"

"Yes, I am. How are the girls?"

"I called Marina about three hours ago for another check and to tell them you were out of surgery and fine. Fevers down for both of them, and nobody has thrown up anymore. Abby actually had the lightest case of this." He grinned. "She's getting stronger, Lisa."

"Yes." She looked around the room, realizing suddenly who was missing. "Where's Wilson?"

"I sent him home. Sandra has the bug, too; probably picked it up at the hospital somewhere. He went to take care of her."

Cuddy frowned. "And left you alone here at the hospital when I'd just had surgery?"

"It was my idea. He would have stayed. And I wasn't alone. Really, Lisa. I was okay with it."

She analyzed his gaze, but she couldn't find anything but truth there. He did look like he was okay with it. "How are you feeling yourself, Greg?"

"Slowly a little better. Wilson gave me some Zofran samples he had in his office. I've had a can of ginger ale, and I took a Vicodin about 45 minutes ago. So far, it's staying down."

"Good." She shifted slightly in the hospital bed, exploring her abdomen with her hand. The incisions were tiny.

House saw the motion. "It was perfectly routine. You'll be released in the morning; could have been released tonight if it hadn't been so late when they started the procedure. You'll be back to work before you know it."

"Go home, Greg. You need a good night's sleep in a bed yourself so you can keep getting better."

He shook his head. "I'll stay here."

"Greg, you don't need to sleep in that visitor's chair. Your leg is bothering you enough today already."

He looked down. "I . . . I don't want to sleep in our bed alone. I know everything's okay now, but I just . . . I need to see you right now. Just to keep reminding myself. I don't want to be apart tonight."

A surge of memory washed over her, remembering how last year, she couldn't abide the thought of leaving the hospital without him. "I understand. But still, you're going to kill your leg in that position." She wiggled over a bit gingerly in the hospital bed. "C'mere."

"You sure? You just had surgery."

"Routine, textbook surgery, like you said. Come on up, Greg."

Slowly he got to his feet and climbed in on her right side, being infinitely careful. They snuggled down against each other, the bandages and the IV suddenly not mattering. "It really is okay, Lisa," he said. "I wasn't lying earlier. This is a replacement memory, and it's a good one. I'm not alone anymore."

She captured his hand again, squeezing it, tracing his gold wedding band. "I'm not, either. Thank you, Greg."

"Thank you."

The kiss was tender, gentle rather than passionate, both of them being careful at the moment, but it was somehow even more precious for that. Just lying next to each other at the end of a tough day was enough for the moment. She could tell he had a fever still, but it was lower than it had been. They were all right. Everything would be all right.

Her eyelids were drifting closed again, and she opened them. "Go on to sleep," he urged.

"Not until you do. Why are you fighting it yourself, Greg?"

He looked at his watch. "In five minutes, it will be midnight. I wasn't kidding; this day will be a good memory. But still, I'm kind of glad to see it end. We can do a lot better than this one, Lisa."

She laughed and flinched as the incisions pulled slightly. "A lot better," she agreed. "Okay, Greg, we'll watch the rest of the day out together."

He held his watch where they both could see it, and in silent companionship, they counted the seconds down. Midnight. The day was over.

Cuddy relaxed and closed her eyes, feeling the reassuring presence of her husband next to her. "Good night, Greg."

She heard the smile in his voice, one of his private smiles, one of the ones just for her and the girls. "Good night, Lisa."

Together, they slept.