Nice little oneshot I found on my computer. I wrote it a while back and just thought I'd go ahead and post it.
House was wrenched out of a fitful sleep unmercifully by a spasm in his leg.
He arched forwards in an oft repeated action, automatically. A cramp was seizing his leg, working its way into a spasm. It hurt like a bitch. He frantically tried to rub the cramp away before it got worse, biting his lip at the pain.
When the bed rocked gently under him, he remembered he wasn't alone.
"House?" Cuddy asked sleepily, her voice thick with grogginess.
House paused for a second, trying to steady himself. "Hm?"
"Why're you awake?"
"Gotta pee. Go back to sleep."
Cuddy turned over and fell back to sleep, not ever having fully woken up in the first place.
House stared at the ceiling, gripping his thigh and closing his eyes. His breath was coming faster, in hitched little exclamations of pain.
Without warning, the leg launched into a spasm, sending screaming lightening bolts of pain into his body. He practically went through the ceiling, biting his cheek to keep from screaming out loud. Cuddy didn't need to see this.
On days like this, he'd have been reaching for the morphine. Now, of course, that wasn't an option. He was clean. For a year now.
He had what he wanted. A friendship with Wilson, a stable job, and a relationship with the woman he'd loved since he'd first set eyes on her. He wouldn't throw it away, even it meant he was in pain every waking moment of his life. Even if it meant that he'd be in agony all night long, wouldn't sleep, and would hardly be able to walk in the morning.
He felt a tear coursing down his cheek. Dammit, it hurt.
There was a light touch on his face, catching the tear.
He felt like sobbing. Now, not only was he in a mind numbing amount of pain, but his girlfriend was going to watch him, too.
She sounded wide awake now, and like she was trying not to panic. "Greg, what's wrong?"
He knew better than to open his mouth. He didn't want to vomit all over the love of his life.
Cuddy stroked his hair back, putting her forehead against his. "House. Your leg?"
He gave her a silent nod. Then the pain ramped up a few notches, and he could do nothing but make himself remember to breathe.
For a moment, the pain abated. It was like wave, ramping up and coming in, then sliding out and fading, if only for a moment. He opened his eyes almost fearfully, afraid of what he'd find in hers.
They were big and deep, looking at him with concern. "You better now?"
The leg was aching savagely, and would probably end up acting up again before the night was over. Hell, it would probably act up again in the next few seconds.
He finally allowed himself to speak, hating how weak his voice sounded even to himself. "Yeah."
Cuddy furrowed her eyebrows, not totally buying it. "What's your pain level?"
He hated this. He hated his lover treating him like he was a misbehaving patient. "I'm fine, Lisa."
His leg twitched, threatening to scream and make him eat his words. He forced himself to relax. "Just go back to sleep, please."
Cuddy shook her head slowly, turning on the lamp on the bed side table. "You aren't okay. Don't lie to me, Greg."
He looked down, away from her, feeling almost ashamed. "There's nothing you can do. Please, just…"
He tried to continue, but the pain in his leg ramped up to super nova, and he could only gasp.
Cuddy's alarmed shriek only barely pierced through. "House!"
"I… it… its… f… uhg…"
He couldn't even put a damn sentence together.
He felt Cuddy's warm hands on his leg. "I'm going to try to rub it out, okay?" she said, more than asked.
Without pausing for an okay, she gently but firmly kneaded into the tense muscle. "I… mmh…" House said, grunting in pain, unable to stop the tears from running down his face. "Hurts… Cud… Cuddy. Hurts."
"I know it hurts, House. I know."
"AH!" he said sharply, jerking as she hit a particularly sore spot. Her hands froze for a moment before continuing on. "Mmh. I'm… pa… pathet…ic." He said miserably, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes.
"No, you aren't, House," Cuddy said soothingly, still working hard on the tense muscle. "Any one else would be screaming."
"But you aren't. So shut up and let me help."
He obliged, only making sharp, pained noises every so often. When the cramp finally, finally began to ease, he fell back onto the bed, exhausted.
"Thank you…" he mumbled, already drifting off. The pain took so much out of him. "I love…"
He fell asleep.
Cuddy ran her hand through his sweat soaked hair, smiling sadly. "I love you too, House."
The next morning, Cuddy woke up a few minutes before her alarm. She reached over carefully, and unplugged it, still tuckered out from last night. Normally, she got up almost an hour before House, for her morning yoga, breakfast, and Rachel. Plus, she just required more time to get ready.
Since she and House had been dating, that was the routine they'd held to. Really, the only time they were together was during the night and after work.
Today, however, Cuddy decided that she was going to wait for House to get up before her. She wanted to see how he was doing- that is, how he was really doing, and not how he told her he was doing.
House woke up about the time he normally did, slowly opening his eyes. She watched him carefully through a slit in her own, just open enough to see, and not enough for him to see she was awake.
He registered surprise that she was still asleep, then his eyes softened. His eyes flickered to her unplugged alarm, then to his leg.
Then an expression she'd never seen on him before crossed his face.
He was actually guilty for keeping her up. She watched him choose to let her sleep, shaking his head.
Slowly, painfully slowly, he leaned up and uncovered himself, staring down. He seemed reluctant to move his legs.
With a practiced motion, he used both hands to move his right leg off the side of the bed, his left coming down to join it. He stretched his arms and back, arching his neck and letting everything pop itself out.
Then he reached out and grabbed the cane, his shoulders seeming to slump. He planted it firmly and slowly stood, all his weight on his left leg. He waivered for a moment, unsteady, and his left hand reached out to the bed to steady him.
He sighed and tried to take a step forward with his left leg.
Cuddy forced herself not to cry out when his right collapsed under the weight. His hand shot out and supported him on the bed in what looked like a painfully practiced movement. His breath came in short, pained shots as he pulled himself up with just his left hand.
He was back on the bed now, massaging his leg with both hands, his head bowed. After a long few minutes, he got back up, hesitantly trying another step. This time, his leg held him, but just barely. She could see it trembling under the strain, and how much weight he placed on the cane. He gripped the door frame as he went into the bathroom, then the counter as he closed the door.
She let loose a breath she'd been holding, and sat up. House had just revealed more to her in that painful ten minutes than he'd ever said to her in the twenty years they'd known each other.
She'd known he was in pain, oh sure. She was a doctor; she knew what that operation had done to him. But the harsh reality of his disability often slipped her mind. Day to day, he was a huge presence in her life, and a commanding one at that. He almost never intentionally called attention to his pain, even less so after Mayfield.
Even after nearly a year of dating, she'd never even seen how long it took him to get out of bed in the morning.
Cuddy was ashamed of herself. How often had House had attacks like that in the past, and she hadn't noticed? He didn't seemed surprised or frightened by it, almost like he'd found it normal. She felt slightly sick.
When he finished showering, she was already up and taking care of Rachel, talking to her while she chopped up an apple for her to munch on. He sat in a kitchen chair wearily, sending her a quick glance to make sure she wasn't watching before he rubbed his thigh again.
Cuddy decided not to beat around the bush.
"House," she began, still cutting and not looking up. "How often does that happen?"
He froze, staring at her. No. She wasn't playing the game right. He and Wilson had done it for years; Wilson had been there when he most needed him, and hadn't mentioned it when he was relatively okay. Wilson was remarkable about keeping his mouth shut, except when it came to the drugs.
Now that the drugs were gone, House was afraid to tell the truth about his pain levels. He was sure that anyone he told would immediately think he was drug seeking.
He wasn't. He was just tired of being in pain.
Cuddy stopped cutting the apple, turning to look at him. He stared back at her silently, his eyes hesitant.
Cuddy was pretty sure she knew the thoughts that were going through his head. "Answer me, House, and answer me honestly. I'm not going to judge you."
His eyes were still suspicious, and hers softened. "I swear."
He looked down, like he was ashamed to admit any potential weakness on his part. "Maybe once or twice a month. Not that often."
She sat down, careful to keep her face blank. Rachel was silent in the highchair, like she knew this was an important moment for them. Cuddy took the moment while he was looking down to really study him.
He'd thinned, since Mayfield. Grayed, too. It was like he was imploding before her eyes, and she hated it.
"Seriously, House. Since Mayfield, how have your pain levels been?"
He still didn't meet her eyes. "… High."
"A number? I mean, on a daily basis."
He swallowed, closing his eyes. His hand gripped his thigh. "Six or seven."
"Consistently?" Cuddy exclaimed, dismayed.
He visibly flinched, sure she was upset with him. "Pretty much baseline. On a good day."
She studied him. "House. You haven't gotten below a six in nearly a year?"
He finally met her eyes, sadness and distrust in his. "I knew you wouldn't believe me."
She felt tears in her eyes. "House, I do."
His eyes widened, shocked. "What?"
"I don't doubt that you're in pain. I just didn't realize it was quite that bad."
He warily watched her, looking for any signs of doubt on her. Finding none, he relaxed slightly.
She reached out across the table, taking his hand. He allowed it, still looking into her eyes. "Maybe you should see a pain specialist, House." She suggested softly.
He looked away again. "Wilson prescribes for me. He's my proxy. You're my doctor. There's no reason to see anyone else, you're both competent."
She shook her head. "We obviously aren't doing a very good job, House. I think seeing someone who doesn't know your history would be good for you."
He looked up sharply, hurt. "I'm not looking for vicodin, Cuddy. I'm clean and I plan on staying that way."
She smiled. "I know, and I don't doubt you at all," she replied soothingly, watching him relax slightly. "I just meant that we have a prior, biased opinion on you that are obviously based on some false assumptions. An outside eye would be good."
He furrowed his brow. "False assumptions?"
She gave him a long look, filled with love and absent of pity. "Does even Wilson know the process you go through to get up every morning?"
He paled visibly, taking his hand away. "I- I thought you were asleep!"
She shook her head. "I had a theory and wanted to test it. Is falling like that normal?"
He closed his eyes, looking a bit sick. "I don't want to have this conversation with you."
"Too bad, it's happening. I repeat, is that normal?"
He shuddered, rubbing his thigh. "Not every morning but yeah, I'm used to it."
She stood and sat closer to him, touching his left side with her right. "That's just what I mean. You feel the need to hide things like that from us, but from a stranger there should be no limitations."
He met her eyes, gripping her tightly, finally seeming to come to terms with the idea. "Okay. If that's what you want."
"It should be what you want, House. I'm not going to force you to do anything you don't want to do."
A slight smile curved his lips, and she quickly amended the statement. "Except clinic duty, of course. And the odd donor party."
He buried his face in her hair, sighing. "I've actually forgotten what it feels like to not be in pain, Cuddy," he said wonderingly, his eyes distant. "And I think it's killing me."
She closed her eyes. "I'll set you up an appointment today, then."
His exhale in her ear seemed to agree.
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