So I was cleaning up my computer files, and clicked on a random fanfiction, and this came up. My immediate reaction: "Oh yeah! This one! Why didn't I post this sooner?!"
I don't know why.
But here you go.
The familiar rapping, methodical knock on the door made Cuddy's blood turn to ice. She froze in the kitchen doorway, staring at the door with a look of utter dread on her face. Pain, hot and fresh , like a thousand stitches being ripped out, thundered through her blood and made its way to her heart and then to her mind. She felt lightheaded as her thoughts stormed over in agony and confusion, and everything seemed oddly dreamlike in this state. Feverish, she continued to stare at the door with her mouth slightly agape, her eyes in a deer-in-headlights expression as she stood motionless on spot.
He continued to knock, his movements mechanical and against his will. He pushed all thoughts away and focused on one thing: the woman behind that door. Although he dreaded it, he desperately needed to talk to her. To explain; to gain back her trust. The irony of that word was sour in his mouth in a strange sadistically melancholy way, provoking a grin from his deranged mind.
He thought about how funny it was that when he just started to trust something completely, to let himself be completely open and vulnerable and changeable, that it was snatched away from him. It was laughable how once things started to look good and happy they were completely and utterly destroyed. Even more interestingly, they were always destroyed as a sick consequence of what he did to make things better. He chuckled, as this thought was amusing. It was so cruel and so brutally repeated over and over again that he'd almost completely closed up. As House had seen it, this was his last chance. His last clinging, desperate hope.
Frozen, she didn't know what to do, what to say, what to feel. Helplessly, she stared at the door, pleading it wasn't who she thought it was. She wouldn't be able to handle it. The ache, the desire, the utter loathing and the utter longing, they all messed with her. She couldn't open that door. She couldn't face him, not yet, anyway. It was too soon, too fresh… too fragile. Nothing good could possibly come out of this. Her thoughts shook in time with the knocking, and with each thud against the door she knew how awful this confrontation would be. She refused to open the door. He stopped knocking, and Cuddy let herself relax slightly.
"I know you're in there." He said. "I can hear you trying to ignore me."
Damn it, she thought. "Talk to me tomorrow. Rachel's sick; I can't talk." She lied.
"I can hear you lying. Even if she did, you'd sound more tired than afraid and stressed."
Cuddy sighed, running a hand through her hair. "She has a fever."
"No she doesn't. Open the door; I have a patient about to die without your consent."
Cuddy closed her eyes. He probably didn't, he was just doing this to mess with her, but in her sane mind she knew she had to open that door, in case there was a patient.
"He's going to die!"
She blinked them open. It was unavoidable, she'd have to open that door at some point, but she dreaded doing it right now. Deep down, she knew she wasn't opening the door just for a patient. Uncrossing her arms, she started towards the door. With a quick whispered prayer, she turned the knob and opened the door.
The shock of him being there was enough for her to blink in surprise and awkwardness. The intensity of his eyes penetrated hers the second the door opened; searching with such passion she avoided his gaze after a second. Unfortunately, that second had done everything to her, throwing her into turmoil of mixed emotions.
She really shouldn't have opened that door that night.
Agony shot through him as their eyes met, but he managed to keep the perfect poker face; his eyes completely masked. He didn't speak as he searched them in the quick moment he got, and he found exactly what he was looking for.
Cuddy made a move to shut the door, not knowing what else to do. She couldn't do this tonight. He couldn't do this tonight. It was going to end painfully, and this whole encounter would be a huge mistake. It was just too soon, barely a few days, and there was no way either party could handle this.
Just as it was about to close, House stabbed his cane through the crack, preventing it from shutting. Cuddy rolled her eyes in an exasperated, angst-filled way as she stared at the cane. He inched the door open again, still staring at her eyes, as he shuffled his way into the house. Cuddy retreated backwards, glad to turn her back on him, though the way his gaze pierced through her back gave her the chills. She folded her arms across her chest.
House had done well, this he could read from her body language. He'd chosen the perfect moment to come back; to make his miserable move. She was on the brink of letting go of her love, but there was something holding her back. He had to take advantage of that. He didn't know what else to do.
"What's the problem?" Cuddy asked, talking about work… Most likely.
House took a deep breath, putting both hands on his cane and leaning on it. His demeanor was hesitant, uncertain, and cautious. He stopped looking at her and did that odd habit of searching the room to avoid her gaze. Cuddy knew it well- he was about to open up. She made a sudden movement as if to stop him, staring at him, pleading him not to do this. She was helpless, though, as he looked back at her.
"I'm in love." He said simply, down casting his eyes. Cuddy felt nauseous, every little bit of kind emotions towards him flooding to her heart. She wanted desperately to cave. But she knew this was his plan, and that she couldn't.
"That's great." She brushed it off, now finding it hard to look at him at all. "What do you need?"
House jerked his eyes back to her, startled at her choice of words. She met his gaze and immediately looked elsewhere as she realized it herself.
"I meant for your patient, of course."
House did his jerky nod. "Right."'
She raised an eyebrow and tilted her head forward. "And? He's dying…?"
"At some point. Could be tomorrow, could be in three years." House shrugged. Cuddy sighed and nodded, rubbing a hand across her forehead. This quite obviously wasn't about any patient. She hated this, and she'd had every right to utterly dread it. This brought memories back in the blink of an eye, and in all forms too. Ones from college and the book store mixed and deranged with those of a few nights ago, memories of her staying up all night stressing over his crazy antics mixed in with when she told Lucas she was leaving for House.
"We have a situation." He repeated. "I'm in love." He tilted his head, searching for her eyes which had suddenly found her feet quite interesting. She could see the flash of his blue irises scrutinizing her from the corner of her eye, making her slightly more than just a bit uncomfortable. She hated (loved) the way he forced you to look at him in the eyes silently and effortlessly, the way he noticed and absorbed every little insignificant detail. Oh, she missed him.
"I know." She said quietly. "But we're done."
Pain flashed in his eyes, true pain, taking her by surprise. She couldn't help but open her mouth to comment, deciding against it at the last moment. She stared blankly at him, her own hurt barely concealed, finding this difficult yet reassuring and oddly comforting. It was familiar having him there, knowing he wanted to discuss something she never wanted to, and predicting he'd pursue it anyway. That he'd test her, make her realize something about her and more rarely, reveal something about himself. She missed these tender moments.
"I can change. I've done it before." He pleaded, his voice straining to a higher octave as it did when he was desperate and terrified.
She shook her head. Tears flooded to her eyes. She tried to fight it, tried to lock it up behind doors. But she couldn't find the energy to repress her emotions anymore. She'd seen the toll enclosing your misery and unresolved feelings could have on people (ahem House ahem), and the last thing she wanted to do was end up like that. Lost, alone, and miserable.
So Cuddy had to let go. She admitted it: She wasn't over House.
But she was not about to give him that satisfaction.
"You can't. I'm sorry. And I know you tried, I know you were terrified about it, but you shouldn't change. I would like to see you happy, but I can't do that job. It's just the fact that I can't."
"Why can't you?" His voice was reasonably quiet, not angry, definitely guarded, even a hint of curiosity.
"I'm a single mom, in my forties, with responsibilities. You wouldn't understand, House. I don't live for me anymore, I live for Rachel. She makes me happy, and she's reliable. By making her happy it makes me happy. Like I said, you wouldn't understand."
He nodded. "I get it."
No you don't; Cuddy gave him a sidelong look. Was he stoned? Drunk? This was not the usual House behaviour. She got just distracted enough for him to fluidly grab her by the shoulders and thrust her against the wall. She didn't know what was happening, it was all confusing and therefore blurry, but she was aware of his hands and his movements. His hands held her shirt purposely but not terrifyingly, he pressed her against the wall firmly yet gently. She didn't feel threatened, she felt protected. She stared at his strong, handsome hands, and then was forced to look up at him.
This was exactly his plan. Force her to meet his gaze after having enough visible emotion for her to try to hide it. He had a talent that had to do with eyes: he could mask his own yet read past others'.
She felt the air escape her as she quietly thudded against the wall. Her eyes focused on his lips, barely inches apart, and then drifted up to his eyes. They penetrated hers as they dug and searched. She'd had this done to her before – not so awkwardly and forcefully as this occasion against the wall – but this time was different. Oddly so. His eyes demanded answers, but they also gave his own emotions away.
Gregory House was opening up to her.
At first, all she felt was shock. Shock that she had been thrust against her own wall by her ex-boyfriend, shock that he was acting so weird, shocked that she'd been stupid enough to let him in in the first place, and now shocked that he was revealing himself to her. She knew how much House hated vulnerability, since it meant pain, though he'd never admit it.
"I –" He started; hesitant, uncertain if he should really open up to her. "I-"
Cuddy stared at him, jaw set in a determined line, trying not to look terrified or desperate. You...? She wanted to scream.
"I-" His lips teased hers, so close, so damn close, but he didn't press them up to hers.
"I can't live without you. It feels like I'm suffocating, like I can't breathe." He stared at her lips.
She swallowed. "I know." It was barely a whisper. "But we can't."
House relaxed and stepped back, Cuddy pressed her palms against the wall. It felt like her knees were going to buckle.
"Of course we can't." He said gruffly, but with such resignation it made her heart twist. He refused to meet her gaze, and stood there only a second before limping out.
It felt like the wind was knocked out of her.
But, that was a good thing, maybe.
She watched his silhouette walk away into the night, having a sense that nothing could be the same again.