Stacy slowly turned off the ignition and sat back heavily in her car. She watched the activity in front of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital's front door. Automatically, her hand flew up to her chest and gently caressed the crucifix that lay against her chest. Her hand flipped the necklace over, and she twirled it, stroked it; her usual habit when she was scared or nervous or uncertain. She quickly took a sharp intake of air and opened the car door, striding towards the entrance before she could change her mind – again.
Princeton-Plainsboro gave her a bittersweet sensation. Its mixed signals pulsed through the air with each turn Stacy took. She knew the way like the back of her hand, but she went cautiously and warily. There were certain people she didn't want to bump into. She peered out in the hall before walking through it, her eyes sweeping over the faces. Her head pulsed with many thoughts and memories that she strived to ignore. Some made her happy, like a familiar patient getting better. But most made her cringe and feel hopeless. A couple celebrating after getting good news. A staircase leading to the rooftop. She passed by an office space, and she just about lost it. Intense feeling pulsed through the door and enveloped her. Here, House had told her he loved her. And then he'd left her.
She staggered slightly, reaching for her purse for a smoke. She leaned her head heavily against the wall. She had to focus, remember why she came. She straightened with a sigh and her face gradually set into her lawyer's expression. Almost to her destination; she'd make it.
Relief surged through her when she reached the painfully familiar office. She slipped in and closed the blinds before turning and simply standing in the dark space. She expected pain and loss to course through her, but to Stacy's surprise, she only felt numb. It didn't prepare her for the nostalgia that swept over her like the surf pounding over rocks, though.
Nothing had changed or moved, really. Everything was in the same place. The chair in the corner brought memories of stormy nights, where she and House had decided to wait out the blizzards, when she gently felt the fabric. It was his chair, so he'd claim it without contest; his legs sprawled out in front of him. Eventually, she'd sit on the arm and slide into his lap despite his growls and protests, which she'd pointedly ignore. After a while, he'd open up, taking her in his arms and cuddling with her but none the less he'd still be complaining. The wind would pick up and they'd watch the storm, House finally drifting off into silence as the snow whipped around outside. Other days, she'd burst into the office, a wreck after an exceptionally bad case at work. Even smoking hadn't helped her on those occasions. House would be sitting at his desk, either looking over a file or watching TV. At the beginning of their relationship, it was those rare times where he'd stop what he was doing, get up and embrace her, letting her go limp in his arms as they settled into the chair. Stacy would hide her face in his shoulder and let the tears fall, breathing in his familiar comforting scent and feeling safe and protected in his arms.
Pain engulfed her, and she reeled away from the chair, tears of anguish stinging at the back of her eyes. She nearly blindly stumbled into his desk. Blinking, she put a steadying hand on the table, the cold seeping through her fingers like unforgiving ice. She remembered leaning intently into the television screen, knowing the murderer was right behind the door. Just as the girl opened it – Stacy shrieked as House grabbed her shoulder. She whipped around to find him chuckling and she'd be so furious and embarrassed that she'd slap him playfully and turn back around. House would gently soothe her neck with his rough heads as they caressed and ebbed away her tension. She sighed deeply as goosebumps raced across her body and she relaxed, leaning on him. But the desk had seen many more unpleasant memories. She'd slip into his office late at night and give him a coffee or tell him he needed rest, and House would just explode. He'd sneer and his voice would be tinged with so much sarcasm that Stacy would fight to keep her patience. Sometimes, his will to fight for his patient's life would go out and he'd slump with rejection. She'd come around and have to say something brilliant to save the day and he'd make amends. Those blow-ups after a wrong diagnosis didn't often trouble her too much. They were frequent and she'd get used to handling them. What really worried her was when it had seemed his will had died. Those times, she'd then escape to the roof and steal a quick smoke.
Back in the present, Stacy sighed and straightened, glancing around the room and then at the time. Where was House? Impatiently, she crossed the room, anxiously tracing her fingers over the imprint on the glass. Gregory House, M.D. She traced it over again and again until it soothed her and calmed her boiling thoughts. She wasn't normally like this, so thoughtful and emotional. She pushed the thought away as she moved away from the door.
So many fights had taken place here. Threats would fly across the room, tears would be shed, and fingers would be pointed. They would both stand in the middle of the room, faces inches away and hands barely managing to keep away from each other's throats. One time, he'd been so unbearably insensitive that her rage had boiled over and she'd slapped him hard. She just couldn't take it. She playfully slapped him all the time, but this one was different. It had meaning, and she didn't regret it. The office immediately fell into silence as shock registered on both faces. House's had contorted into such an expression of pain and rage and even slight sorrow that Stacy couldn't begin to describe or feel the emotions coursing through his thick, stubborn blood. She tried to apologize, and he'd refuse – it was the beginning of the end.
Stacy looked down at her hands in the dark room. The place was just too full of him and his feelings. It even smelled like him. It was unbearable being there, so full of painful and regretted memories. She should leave; this had been a stupid mistake. She just had to accept and come to terms with the past and what it meant for her future. She was due to have a very busy life soon, anyway. And she had Mark… oh, Mark… How'd she explain all this to him?
"What the hell do you want?" House's cold voice pierced the tension, his voice taut and distraught. Slowly, Stacy turned to face him. She was shocked.
He appeared perfectly normal on the outside. No sign of misery or depression. She searched his once familiar blue eyes for an answer, and although his gaze remained firm, it was distant and cold. Grief and ache started chewing at her heart. No doubt he was hiding something. Still, it rubbed her the wrong way. She felt hurt that he hadn't even missed her. Maybe he had a new girl? Painfully, she tried to push the unbearable thought away.
His straightforwardness took her by surprise. She searched for an answer, even if it was just casual small talk. When she failed to find her voice, he limped by her and organized his papers, trying to avoid the awkward tension in the air.
"What kind of case are you working on?" Stacy asked innocently, desperately searching for a way to get to her point and then get the hell out of there. His movements stiffened, then relaxed, and he said in a controlling, even voice, "Give me three good reasons you're here, some good oral sex, and the number of the best hooker you know and then maybe I'll let you know. Until then, get out of my office."
She didn't move, and a ghost of a smile played out on her lips. She was glad to see he was still himself. He'd stopped shuffling through his papers and was staring at her. His head was still tilted downwards and only his gaze had turned on her. It was as cold as ice, unfriendly, and unforgiving. Her whole soul just about gave up.
His voice softened slightly. "Stacy…" he trailed off, and the cold returned to his eyes. "Sorry to cut it short, but I have places to go. People dying all the time, you know." He brushed by her again, but Stacy looped her arm in his, turning him around.
"Greg," she said quietly, finding her voice and strength again. He tilted his head skywards in exasperation, avoiding her gaze. Whenever her voice got like that… Something terrible was in it for him. He remained silent though.
And then it came like a bombshell. "I'm pregnant."