A/N: This came to me when my father brought back some Dutch licorice from Amsterdam. As with all things, it led back to House. This House/Cuddy established relationship, and as for where it takes place in canon, lets just say that I firmly believe I hallucinated season 7. Enjoy!
Zoute Drop is the Danish term for "salty licorice." It contains large amounts of sal ammoniac (a salt of ammonia) that give it its signature salty taste with a hint of ammonia.
"They're hosting the Tenth European Meeting on the Molecular Biology of the Pneumococcus."
"Yep. Fascinating stuff. Even by my standards."
"And the fact that it's in Amsterdam has absolutely nothing to do with you wanting to attend."
"Nope. Can't say it does. EuroPneumo 2011 on the other hand-"
"Oh so suddenly now you want to go to a medical conference? I've practically had to drag you to every one you've been to since I hired you. If you want to study Streptococcus pneumoniae get your ass down to the clinic on a more regular basis."
"What can I say, people change. I've decided I want to broaden my horizons. Maybe work on my international relations."
Cuddy rolled her eyes at the accompanying lecherous wink.
"No they don't, no you don't and no you won't."
"That's it? I can go now?"
"Sure. But you may want to consider the fact that I am required, as per the contract that you drafted, to attend a medical conference every other year. And as per the board of this hospital – as a result of the events that took place during the International Conference on Immune Tolerance 2004 in Moscow – you are obliged to accompany me to every conference I attend. You may also want to consider the fact that Amsterdam is one of the few places on earth where my hedonistic behavior falls within the boundaries of the laws you're contractually obligated to prevent me from breaking."
"Fine. I'll take this up with the board at tomorrow's meeting."
"Excessive consumption of liquorice or liquorice candy is known to be toxic to the liverand cardiovascular system, and may produce hypertensionand edema."
"Hey, remember the last time we were on a plane together?"
"I'd really rather not."
Ordinarily, the prospect of spending 8 hours with House wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. But there were always qualifiers; the fact that they were on a hospital-funded trip, surrounded by other people, and going to an event that Cuddy decidedly did not want to go to made the whole thing a grueling test of her (not inconsiderable) patience.
House turned toward the back of the plane. "Do I spy a vacancy sign on that bathroom door?" he elbowed her in the ribs. "Can you tell from here?"
"House, the plane has not even left the gate. Keep this up and I will get you kicked off."
"No you won't, because then you'll have to explain to the board why you couldn't get me under control, and then they'll start questioning the power dynamic in our relationship, which will lead them to question your ability to do your job in regards to me, which-"
"I think I get it."
"How did you manage to retain your official position?"
There had been, of course, some questions raised at the board meeting about the changed dynamic of her relationship with House and her subsequent ability to "manage" (she had almost laughed when they had said that at the meeting – she thought they knew by now that no one "managed" House) him. But, of course, getting someone else to go to a medical conference with House meant someone had to volunteer for that job.
"Oh, I had to fight tooth and nail," she remarked dryly. "Everyone was just lining up to spend a long weekend with you in Amsterdam."
The flight was, as expected, an eight hour long headache. House had been insufferable through most of it, as an under-stimulated genius with a touch of ADD tends to be when presented with nothing but an iPod and a lackluster selection of in-flight movies to amuse him for the duration. By the time they reached Amsterdam, Cuddy was jet-lagged, cranky and seriously contemplating homicide.
"This... is your fault."
She gestured loosely to her body. "This."
"You know, I don't even like weed," she said, attempting to sound authoritative. "It just makes me sleepy."
House used to think that angry Cuddy was the most attractive version, but high-and-attempting-to-be-angry Cuddy was rapidly turning into a serious contender.
"Did you learn nothing about peer pressure in high school, Cuddy? 'Just Say No?'"
She giggled and then flashed him one of her mega-watt smiles that always made him want to kiss her even more than usual. He leaned over and planted a soft one on the corner of her mouth.
"On second thought, it's pretty obvious you didn't learn that lesson. Frankly, you're terrible at saying no."
"It's just you, House," she said as she kissed him back.
She briefly wondered how he could be so persuasive in the face of her jet-lag, headache, and crappy mood, but it was dismissed when he pulled her into another perfect kiss. It was cliché, but he really did feel like an addiction sometimes. They had a relationship that most sane people couldn't understand, and their default mode of communication was arguing. But for some fucked up reason, Cuddy couldn't live without him. He made her miserable, but he also made her the happiest she'd ever been; and she kept coming back for more.
"You ever have sex high?" he asked as he unbuttoned her shirt.
"You knew me in college. What do you think?" she asked as his belt hit the floor.
It felt like her eyes were burning a hole through him. "Well, there's a first time for everything," he replied.
Her back hit the mattress and she suddenly stilled. "It just can't be simple, can it? This being in love with you thing."
His grin matched hers as he unhooked her bra. "Would you be happy if it was?"
"OH DEAR GOD [double-salted black licorice is] [...] brutal! I hear the double-salted variety is an acquired taste, but I don't see myself EVER acquiring a taste for that much ammonia."
"What the hell, Cuddy?"
"What's wrong?" she asked, sticking her head out of the bathroom.
"What the fuck is this?"
The bag he was holding up had looked innocuous enough. A friendly-looking confectioner was taking round candies out of an oven amidst a background of soothing blue hues. The stuff even looked like candy – little coins of black licorice.
"It's Dutch licorice. What? You don't like it? Is it too much for you?" she taunted as she put one into her mouth.
"How can you even eat that? It tastes like rat poison."
"It's an acquired taste. Get changed, we have to be at the conference in a half hour."
"Acquired taste my ass. Differential for a female in her early 40's, presenting with a taste disorder, irritablility and-"
"A chronic pain in her ass. You know you're not wearing that, right?" she said as he fastened her pearls. He adjusted them from behind her, his fingers lightly brushing her neck where he knew she was most sensitive.
"Really, though, how can you eat that stuff?"
"I like it. And again, you are not wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt to a conference on bacterial genetics. Change."
"I didn't even think you ate candy." It was much to House's disdain that her pantry was stocked with only healthy, organic foods that tasted like cardboard. The woman would like candy that didn't even taste like candy (or, for that matter, was remotely edible).
"They don't sell it anywhere in the US. Here, wear the sky blue one."
"Yeah, because they have an import ban on the stuff."
She smoothed his collar and fastened the top button of his shirt.
"Behave yourself today, please? I think they'll be keeping an eye on you after yesterday's little scene."
"Like most things that taste really wrong and bizarre at first, it is quite addictive."
She was asleep on the couch when he finally got to her place. There was an empty bag of that disgusting licorice on the coffee table next to her, and she looked exhausted. But when the couch dipped underneath her, she opened her eyes and smiled sleepily at him.
"Took you long enough to get here. I made you some dinner. It's on the counter."
"You finished an entire bag of these?"
"Rachel had some," she said as she grabbed it out of his hands. "She happens to like them too."
"I'm starting think there might be an environmental cause," he said, following her into the kitchen.
"Well, I happen to know that your patient leaves the house for work every morning at 9 and her sitter takes her daughter to school at 9:30. That should give you about a half-hour window to search the place."
"Have I ever told you that you make an excellent partner in crime?"
"Oh, so that's why we're together," she laughed.
In truth, she was hardly thinking about that anymore. She had never come up with a definitive answer. House was sarcastic, misanthropic, caustic, and frequently infuriating. Most of the people she worked with hated him. His patients, if they had the pleasure of meeting him, usually couldn't stand him. But she loved him, more than she had ever loved anyone else. It was exhausting to think about, and frankly, Cuddy thought, she shouldn't waste that brainpower. She needed every bit of it, for god's sake, just to hold a conversation about candy with the man. And, especially during moments like these, when it seemed as though they were the only two people on earth, she didn't particularly care.
A/N2: Thanks for reading! Any kind of review is always appreciated!