The Man That Got Away
Dr. Foreman exited the elevator and walked towards the offices of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine.Although it was now past daybreak, there were only a few meager rays of light creeping in through the windows from the grey, overcast sky outside.The white fluorescent glow from House's office made it easy to pick it out from the other dark, deserted rooms on the floor.
Foreman paused and gazed through the glass door of the office.House was seated at his desk, peering over the reading glasses that were perched on his nose to look at something on his computer monitor.His cap and blazer were thrown carelessly on the shelf behind him.Lying open and scattered all over his desk was an assortment of reference books and medical journals.He held a pen in his right hand, drumming it softly against one of these books, and when Foreman pushed open the door, he could hear music playing softly in the background.
House turned his head as the door opened, his eyes immediately fixing upon the long, thin envelope that Foreman was carrying in his hands.
"That took long enough," he grunted, tossing the pen aside."What's the verdict?" he asked, holding out his hand as he rose to his feet.
"See for yourself," replied Foreman, carefully keeping his voice and face free of emotion.
House undid the clasp and pulled out the enclosed MRI images.Leaving his cane propped up against the desk, he limped awkwardly over to the lightbox.
"I see you've already got the lab results," Foreman noted, sitting down and nodding at the sheets of paper lying on top of one of the magazines.He tossed a copy of the neurological exam he had performed next to the stack of lab reports.
"Yes, and they're all remarkably unremarkable," said House, fitting the films into the grooves of the lightbox and turning on the light.
Standing close to the screen and keeping his glasses on, he frowned and wordlessly scrutinized the images for several minutes.Then he stepped back and removed his glasses, absentmindedly chewing on the eyepiece as his eyes flicked over the pictures once more.
He turned and slowly made his way back to his chair, pulling the report towards him as he sat down.Putting his glasses back on, he read through the account, his fingers moving slowly down the pages as he read the details and studied the score Foreman had assigned to each element of the examination.
"So," he said, tossing the report to the side and placing his glasses on top of it, "do we have a zebra or a horse?"
"A horse," Foreman admitted, stretching tiredly.
"Damn, I knew I should have made you make a bet on it," said House, smirking broadly as he leaned back in his chair.
"After four years, I've at least learned not to make a wager with you," Foreman said, shaking his head.
"Because I'm always right?"
"No, because you usually never offer to make a bet with someone unless you've already rigged the outcome."
"Yeah," said House, "That's obviously what happened here.The truth is, I held a pillow over Cuddy's face while she slept, just so that I could lure you into the ER tonight and fleece you out of fifty bucks."
"I'll tell you one thing; I never would have bet that a thoroughbred like Cuddy would be willing to mate with a jackass like you," Foreman said, shaking his head.
House pursed his lips and shrugged."Hey, maybe she wants a mule," he suggested, raising his eyebrows high as the idea struck him."I hear they're a great hybrid, an ideal mixture of the best qualities of both animals."
"Well, I guess anything's possible, if both parents actually have good qualities, which I doubt in this case."
Foreman paused and screwed up his
face."I don't know, when I try to
picture the two of you having a kid, all I see is Cuddy with your stubble-or
you in one of her tight skirts."He
paused and shuddered for a moment."Either
way you look at it, it's not a very appealing prospect."
House pouted and peered at him disapprovingly."Now, won't you be embarrassed when we ask you to be Little Eric or Erica's godfather?So," he said, drumming his fingers against the desk, "is Cameron still determined to keep her overnight for observation?"
"Smooth segue, House," he observed, raising his eyebrow."Yes, she is, and she's not alone.We've already got a phone call from Bob Smithers saying he and some other board members want to make sure she's completely recovered before she's released."
"Smithers is a blithering idiot."
"Yeah, and I hear he's especially fond of you this morning."
"I promised Cuddy I'd let someone important know about her condition.Can I help it if he wants to shoot the messenger?"
"Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it.Or how loud you say it."
"The man has no appreciation for music."
"Anyway, they're insisting that she take at least a couple of days off before she comes back to work."
"Oh, those imbeciles," grumbled House, propping his left leg up on the desk."That means that when she does come back she'll be working eighty hours a week instead of her usual sixty, just to prove to them that she's fine.Which means twenty more hours a week hounding me to do my job."
"Yeah, it's such a pain to work for someone who actually takes pride in her work."
"I take pride in my work," protested House."I just take more pride in my ability to con other people into doing my work for me."
He lowered his foot and stood up, walking over to the end of his desk.To Foreman's surprise, he seated himself on the edge and stared up again at the lightbox.
"Has she started getting her memory back?" he asked, squinting in concentration.
"Not much, a few bits and pieces," Foreman admitted, wondering if he was searching for something specific."She's starting to get a little anxious about it."
"Did you point out to her that it's not been twenty-four hours yet?" he asked, getting up and switching off the lightbox.
House pulled the images from the viewing screen and began to align them into a neat stack."And that there's nothing we can do at this point but sit and wait?"
"Yes, but surprisingly she doesn't seem to derive much comfort from those cold, hard facts," Foreman observed tartly.
"Well, that's because she's not a logical, stone-hearted bastard like you," he quipped, "who knows when to call it a day."
House handed the film over to him.
"Right," said Foreman, shaking his head as he placed the images back into the envelope and closed the clasp.
"No, seriously," said House, sitting back down."Call it a day.Drop those off at Medical Records and go home.There is absolutely nothing more you can do right now."
"I could stay here and check in on her every once in a while to see how she is doing," he argued."That's the least someone could be doing."
"From the tone of your voice, I take it you're implying that someone should be me?" asked House, picking up his cane.
"If the horseshoe fits..."
"Go home and get some sleep," House said, drumming his cane against the floor.
"Is that an order, Boss?"
"Nope, it's just an eminently logical suggestion.Don't worry," he said, putting the cane down and leaning back in his chair, "she's not going to be alone, I have it covered."
"You don't even know where she is right now," Foreman protested.
"Well, according to the computer," House said, moving his chair to the side as he put his hand over the mouse and clicked on his monitor, "she's either in room 312 or on her way there."
He looked back up at Foreman.
"I know that sometimes it takes hours for them to physically move a patient from ER to the floor once they've been assigned a room, but I'm going to assume that they grease the skids a little bit for the Dean of Medicine."
"Okay," said Foreman, standing up and pushing back his chair."I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
"See you tomorrow," House agreed, picking up one of the magazines and placing his reading glasses back on his nose.
Foreman shook his head again and turned to go through the door that connected House's office to the staff room.Switching his labcoat for his jacket, he retrieved his briefcase from the table and went out the other door into the hallway.He cast a sidelong glance into House's office as he passed, and saw that he was apparently still engrossed in reading the article.
Eschewing the elevator, he pushed open the doorway leading into the stairwell.It took him several minutes to reach the drop box located outside the Medical Records Department, and several more to reach the hospital lobby.He paused to zip up his jacket and then stopped, suddenly spying a familiar figure pacing slowly back and forth near the entryway.
"You know about Cuddy?" asked
Foreman, obviously surprised, as he shook
"Well, not much, just that she's here and suffering from `temporary amnesia' according to House," he admitted.
Foreman nodded, taking in the
sweatshirt, jeans and athletic shoes that
"So, it can't be too serious if
you're going home," prodded
"No, it should be resolving itself anytime now," he said."Go on up," he said, pointing in the direction of the elevator."She's in 312 and I'm sure she'll be happy to see you."
He stopped and frowned for a minute."I mean, as long as she actually remembers who you are."
"Is there a chance she won't?" said
"Actually, yes," admitted Foreman."She didn't remember me at all; she kind of remembered Cameron, but the only person she seemed to really know was House."
"That's one word for it.Anyway, I guess the only way to find out is to go up there and see for yourself," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
"Well, I think I'll wait for Stacy
and Mark," said
"Mark and Stacy Warner?" asked Foreman, looking astounded.
Foreman considered this information for several seconds."Did you or House call her?" he asked, finally.
"House asked me to give her a call.Cuddy apparently mentioned Stacy by name, so he's at least certain she remembers who she is."
"That's very interesting," he said."Especially given the current situation."
"The current situation?"
Foreman smiled and laughed
"Sorry," said Foreman, again, holding out his hands and moving to walk past the other doctor.
"Is House here?"
"In his office!" he shouted back.
The early morning air was misty and cool, and he pulled his collar higher on his neck as he walked out to his car.He opened the door and tossed his briefcase onto the passenger seat before climbing behind the wheel.He turned the ignition and then paused to look back up at the hospital.It was easy to pick out House's office by the light shining through the windows on the otherwise empty floor.
Just when he thought he really understood House, the S.O.B. somehow always managed to surprise him.In the first place, he had honestly expected to find him sleeping, or at least dozing, when he walked into the office.A quick glance at the books sprawled over his desk had been enough for Foreman to realize House, despite his proclaimed absolute confidence in the diagnosis and prognosis, was desperately scouting out the latest research and information on TGA.He had certainly never, ever, seen House spend that much time examining an MRI, much less go back for a second look.He could also not recall House taking such an interest in reading a neurological exam report. It was interesting to see the preternaturally self-confident doctor double-checking his own conclusions.
He drummed his fingers against the wheel and pursed his lips thoughtfully.A part of him was dying to go back into the hospital and wait to see how this whole House/Cuddy/Stacy scenario was going to enfold.But, on the other hand, he really wanted to get home to enjoy at least part of his one remaining day off.
He also knew that he had already pushed his luck as far as he dared for the moment.House's abrupt change of subject earlier had made it clear that he was reaching the end of his admittedly short supply of patience.Once House was no longer distracted by Cuddy's condition, he would be sure to direct the full brunt of his displeasure in Foreman's direction.
The relationship between the two doctors had always been tenuous at best, and it had taken quite a while for a temporary truce to be declared after the initial skirmishes sparked by his return to the hospital.Foreman had the sneaking suspicion that, come Monday morning, there would open warfare between them once more.
No, the wisest thing to do would be to go home, get some rest, and build up his strength before stepping back into the arena with House.
He sighed, put the car in reverse, and backed out of the space, heading home to his apartment.
"Rise and shine, House!"
House held his hand over his eyes,
the combination of sunlight suddenly filling the room and the clattering sound
of the plastic vertical blinds being pulled apart instantly jolting him
awake.After a few moments, he managed
to pry his eyelids open enough to make out the outline of
"Don't you think is a little late to be sleeping in, even for you?" his friend asked, dropping the curtain cord and walking towards him.
"Not when I've been up half the night," retorted House.
He had been sleeping in the yellow reclining chair that occupied a corner of his office, his feet propped upon on the ottoman.He moved slowly and stiffly for a moment, boosting himself up in the chair before moving his feet to the floor and gingerly flexing both legs.
"Let's also factor in the amount of
"Oh, my god, you're right!" House exclaimed, reaching over to grab his Vicodin bottle, and down one of the pills."It would completely ruin their image of me as such a clean and sober guy," he snorted.
"What took you so long to get here?" House asked, picking up his cane and rising to his feet.
"But not here," House emphasized, pointing down at the rug with his cane to indicate he specifically meant his office.
"How is she?" asked House, grimacing as he paced back and forth, slowly placing more and more weight on his right leg as he walked.
"She seems to have made a complete recovery."
House paused and smiled, holding his hands out to his side."Ah, the healing powers of Dr. James Wilson," he intoned, and then resumed his pacing.
"No, it wasn't me at all," said
"Oh, I know.Stacy let her touch her crucifix.Guess Cuddy will be converting, huh?Maybe if you ask her nicely, she'll give you a deal on her collection of menorahs and Stars of David."
"No, that's not exactly what happened.Do you want to hear the story or not?"
"Oh, absolutely," House assured him, "I'm all ears."
"Well, let's see.To begin with, Cuddy clearly remembered both me and Stacy.But we had to introduce her to Mark, because she had absolutely no idea who he was."
"Lucky girl, wish I could say the same.Then what did you do?"
"We just sat around and chatted for awhile, talking about different things and trying to jog her memory."
"So how much of your history did she remember?" he asked, walking over to his desk and lowering himself into the chair.
"Well, she certainly seemed to remember me pretty well," he said, moving to sit in the chair opposite him."But she asked how Bonnie was doing."
House grinned mischievously."At which point you had to confess that she was now the second ex-Mrs. James Wilson, and that Julie had been wife number three."
"Did you mention that there's an `Amber alert' out for wife number four?"
House continued smiling as he leaned over and picked up the large red and white tennis ball that he kept at his desk.
"Did my name come up in the conversation?" he asked, much too casually, his eyes trained on the ball as he began tossing it up in the air.
House caught the ball in his hand
and turned to look at
"I believe they are separate, but
related events," corrected
"Meanwhile, good old Mark sat there quietly supporting his beautiful wife, just like the dutiful, salt-of-the-earth, absolutely boring husband he is," mocked House.
He frowned down at the ball in his hand for a moment."Do you think he's cheating on her, now that he's regained full use of his lower body?" he asked, throwing the ball back up into the air.
House narrowed his eyes."Think she's balling-"
House caught the ball and placed it back upon his desk."It's so comforting that you, of all people, are so ready to vouch for a married couple's fidelity to one another."
"At least I'm consistently inconsistent," House retorted.
"But one thing we did not talk
about at all was Mark's illness, or the fact that Stacy had brought him to you
for a diagnosis," continued
House leaned back in his chair, looking exasperated.
"I've known her since college and she doesn't recall anything about my infarction, or the surgery, or the gunshot wounds and the failed Ketamine treatment, but she suddenly looks at this moron she hardly knows and remembers that he couldn't walk?"
"I didn't know this was a
competition to see whose illness she remembered first,"
House threw him an annoyed look."Stop being an over-analytical pain in the ass and continue with the story."
"Hallelujah," taunted House.""Not only is the lame man walking, but he's managed to raise Cuddy's memory from the dead.Maybe Stacy should throw Jesus away and wear a little figurine of `St. Mark' around her neck."
"I'll mention it to her the next
time I see her," promised
"So, why didn't everybody go home then?" asked House, propping his chin in his hand.
"Because the people in upper management want her to stay overnight and, strangely enough, the rest of us didn't feel like abandoning there in her room, like someone else I know."
"Hey, don't be too hard on him.I told Foreman to go home."
"Actually, Cuddy was even more anxious to talk after that, to make sure that she really was remembering things correctly."
Wilson sat back in his chair and folded his hands in his lap."Of course, the thing that none of us could figure out was why you weren't in there too, crashing the party."
"Well, that would have been an awkward situation, don't you think?" asked House, opening his eyes widely and clucking his tongue.
"Yes, and you, unlike normal people, thrive on socially awkward situations."
"I was here the whole time," House insisted.
"Yeah, I guess you were.Or else you're a hell of a lot better at hiding than you used to be.We took turns going out in the hallway and looking around to see if we could catch you spying on us.Maybe you've invested in a better disguise, but none of us spotted you in the usual places; peering out from behind the pillars or peeking around the corners.Stacy even looked under the bed.Cuddy finally insisted that she was really doing much better, and that we should be going."
"So, they're gone," said House, sitting forward and rolling his cane between his hands.
"Yes, they have tickets for a concert this afternoon, so they reluctantly left."
"You're on your way out too?"
"Not really," he answered."I told Cuddy I'd go out and bring her back some lunch."
"Are you insinuating that the cafeteria cuisine is less than edible?"
"Nope," said House, reaching back to pick up his blazer from the shelf.
"Since when do you turn down the
chance to make me pay for your food?" asked
"Nope," he repeated, pulling on the jacket and digging Cuddy's set of car keys out of the pocket."I'm going to pick her car up from the Emergency Room lot and you're going to meet me with your car at her regular parking space.You can give her the keys when you deliver lunch.That way she can drive herself home tomorrow when she finally breaks out of here.Meanwhile, you can drop me off at my place before you go pick up the food."
"Your place?" said
"Yeah, I do live in a kind of strange place.But, what the hell, it's home," said House, putting on his cap."Let's go."
Picking up his cane he walked over
to the office door.Pushing it open, he
glanced back over his shoulder and saw that
"All right," he said, resignedly, placing his cane across the desk."I'll play."
He sat down in his chair, propped himself up with his elbows on the desk and folded his hands.
"Gee, Dr. Wilson," he said, in a chirpy, prepubescent tone, "What do you mean, `that's strange'?" he asked."That is my line, right?" he added, in his normal register.
"No," said House, looking only vaguely interested."But, I'll bet you're going to tell me."
"She said," replied
"Are you saying I wouldn't be the logical person for her to call?" he asked, sitting back in his chair and looking puzzled.
"No, that makes sense," said
"Because she looked at her cell phone and saw my name and hit the speed dial," he said."Not exactly a big mystery, but I'm sure glad I could clear that up for you.Now, can we go?" he asked, starting to push himself out of the chair.
"Do you want to know what else I
thought was odd?" asked
"Not really," House said, settling back down into the chair."But I have the feeling you're going to force me to listen to you anyway."
"Because the three of us were there, I had to move the pile of Cuddy's clothes off a chair in order to find a place to sit.Funny thing was, it looked like Cuddy had worn sandals in to the ER."
"You've never seen Cuddy wear sandals before?"
"Who puts sandals on their feet to go into the ER at in the morning, particularly on a very chilly night like last night?"
"Did you notice that they were stylish sandals?" House argued, taking off his cap and tossing it down beside his cane."If Cuddy chose practicality over fashion, would she wear those skirts that cut off her circulation?"
"Oh, of course," said
House leaned down over the desk."Frilly underwear?" he whispered."Or was she `going commando'?"
"I believe that there was underwear in the stack, and I'm absolutely sure that you could describe it to me in detail.But, the really strange thing was, your leather jacket was there, mixed in with her clothes."
House frowned."You're the one who just said it was cold this morning."
"Yes, but why would Cuddy need to borrow your jacket if she was leaving from her own place?Wouldn't she have a closetful of her own coats to choose from?"
"Yeah, but since she was going with the leather sandals, she asked if she could wear the jacket, too.You know, going for a kind of matching ensemble thing."
House reared back in his chair, his
mouth opening wide as he gasped."
"Only one thing I can think of," he answered, calmly.
House clucked his tongue."That's because you have a dirty mind,
"How's your mind, House?" he asked."Have you suffered a loss of memory lately?"
"Well, I'm certainly going to try and forget this particular conversation as soon as possible," he informed him.
"You just asked me to drop you off at your apartment.Wouldn't your car be over at Cuddy's house if she was telling the truth?"
"Maybe I took a taxi over there."
They stared at each other in silence for several seconds before House leaned back in his chair, lacing his fingers behind his head.
"Don't look so smug," he admonished him, shaking his head."You have not just demonstrated brilliant powers of deductive reasoning, Cuddy just told a really stupid lie.Besides," he added, narrowing his eyes, "you, of all people, should know exactly what's going on," he said, putting his hands down and reaching over to pull open the middle drawer of his desk.
"Read `em and weep!" he said,
tossing a manila folder over to
"Just when I think your ego couldn't possibly get any larger," he murmured, shaking his head."You keep a copy of your semen analysis in the desk?Why don't you just have it laminated and framed?" he suggested.
House smiled and shrugged his shoulders, resting his arms on the side of the chair.He pushed the seat back and stretched out his legs underneath the desk.
"You also keep a copy of my semen analysis in your desk," he said, his voice a strangled whisper as he slowly lowered the page back down to the desk."Ok, House, you have now definitely crossed the line into creepy territory."
He glanced through the second report again."How in the world-"
"Dr Keel's not too careful about locking up his charts,' House explained."It was in the back of Cuddy's file, from when she was considering using you instead of me," he explained."I took the liberty of making a copy.Or two," he added, in a low breath.
"You have more of these?" screeched
"Is it any wonder why she went with me instead of you?Just look at those numbers."
"I'm sure this is a very scientific
exercise, but wouldn't it be easier to just get out a ruler and measure?"
"We have spent way too much time standing next to each other at the urinals for that even to be an issue," mocked House in return.
"My sperm count is twenty-seven
million per ml and yours is forty-five million.That means we're both well above the normal range of more than twenty
million per ml," protested
"Yeah, that's like saying a pair of aces is the same as a pair of tens just because they're both better than a pair of deuces," House sneered.
"Yes, but remember that this was
sprung on me as kind of a pop quiz," argued
"It might have helped a little bit," House admitted, grudgingly, "but still-"
"Fine, I concede the point.When it comes to numbers, your sperm can beat up my sperm with half their tails tied behind their heads."
Putting the sheets back down on the
"Our motility is exactly the same," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
"Does that surprise you?" asked House.
"No, but doesn't it bother you at all that your sperm are more mobile than you are?" he shot back."Hmm," he added, looking back down at the report, "I wonder if they saw any of them using little canes to get around?"
"Notice the volume?"
"Ah, I always knew you were sweeter and softer than me," House jeered.
"Of course," said
"Obviously," he replied, putting the papers back into the folder and tossing it back towards House."I and all other lesser males can only bow our heads in awe when in the presence of your prodigious procreative potency."
House picked up the folder and pulled out another piece of paper."You're just jealous because you never even made it to the postcoital test," he said, waving the report in the air.
"No, I didn't," admitted
"Oh, sure you could," said House,
putting the page back into the folder."Just close your eyes and think of
"If I had pursued this with her, it would have been through artificial insemination."
"Just another reason why I won the gig."
"Cuddy didn't even ask you until I
had told her that I had definitely decided against it,"
"Because you chickened out," scoffed House.
"Yes, I did," he admitted."It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make.It was very hard for me to turn her down, because I knew how much this meant to her.But, I finally had to face the fact that there was just no way I could stand by and pretend to remain emotionally uninvolved at the sight of Cuddy carrying and raising my own child.."
"And that won't be a problem with me?"
"Absolutely not," he replied.
House cocked his head to the side."I'm surprised to hear you admit that."
"I wasn't hiding, I was sleeping," House insisted.
"Yes, well, you finally drank enough liquor to pass out for awhile," he said."If you really wanted to sleep, House, you would have gone home.But, there was no way," he said, leaning over and pointing his finger in House's face, "that you were going to leave here until you were sure that she was okay.But, you sure as hell didn't want anyone to know how concerned you were.Luckily enough, you knew that I was coming in and that I would come up here and let you know the moment she recovered or if she got any worse."
"Of course I'm concerned," said House."If something happens to her, I might end up with a boss that actually expected me to show up to work.Or someone who wouldn't be offering those neat fringe benefits I've been getting lately."He paused and grimaced."Or I might end up with a guy who demands those extra fringe benefits."
"Which just proves I don't want to see her wasting her time on losers, not that I want to be involved with her," he protested.
"Well, that's what I live for, to make people happy," House sniffled, raising a hand to his brow.
"I'm obviously wasting my breath here," he said, shaking his head.
"It's never stopped you before," said House."Besides," he said, getting to his feet, "I just love getting relationship advice from the guy with three exes to his credit."
of exes," said
House studied his face for a moment."And was Mark in the room when she gave them to you?" he asked, his voice keen with interest.
"No, it was
his turn to be out in the hallway looking for you," said
He paused and screwed up his face in concentration.
"Tell Greg that I guess someone else has developed a taste for Vindaloo curry," he said, slowly, trying to be sure he was remembering the words correctly.
House smiled and reached down for his cap."Just one of those special little `code words' between ex-lovers," he assured him, as he placed the hat on his head."What was the second message?"
"She said, and I quote:`Also tell him that if he keeps acting like a jerk towards Lisa that I'm going to come back here and kick his balls off'."
House blinked several times before replying.
"Think that means she's looking for an excuse to come and see me?" he asked, walking around the desk and heading towards the door.
"No, but I think I'd invest in a
pair of iron-clad boxers if I were you,"
Cuddy sighed and flipped through the pages of the thick report that she was holding, counting how many pages were left to read.She was sorely tempted to just sign her name on the final page, but she knew she was going to have to get through the details of the new medical school curriculum sooner or later.Raising her left hand to her face, she closed her eyes and pushed her glasses up, tiredly pinching the bridge of her nose.She opened her eyes and stared back down at the page for a moment before tossing the report aside.
The tray table that was pulled over the bed was filled with paperwork.A small pile of completed work was on the left side of the tray, and a large stack of unread reports loomed ominously on the other side.With a shake of her head, she put the report she had been reading on the bottom of the right-hand stack and began looking for a smaller report to work on in its place.
A tap at the door interrupted her search.She raised her head and saw that House was striding into the hospital room, a plastic shopping bag dangling from his wrist.
"I knew you wouldn't be resting," he said, raising his cane to point accusingly at the tray."Why didn't you just ask them to wheel your bed down to your office?"
"Because then you would demand that we put a bed in your office, too," she replied, taking off her glasses and setting them down on the tray."And we both know you spend enough time sleeping there as it is," she said, smiling up at him.
She was wearing a fresh hospital gown, and her hair was no longer pulled back into a ponytail.Judging from its scent and sheen, she had found time to take a shower before settling down to work.
He studied her for a moment, wrinkling his nose.
"Something wrong?" she asked.
"Well, the color's slightly better than the last one you had on," he said, gesturing at her gown."But, it's still not you," he declared, throwing the bag down onto the tray.
She cautiously loosened the strings and peered into the bag.After a moment, she laughed and reached in to pull out a pair of sweatpants and a tee shirt.
said, "this looks just like the clothes I had in the bottom drawer of my
desk.Gosh, I could swear I told
"Oh, he did," House assured her, motioning for her to lift her arms off of the tray.He pushed the table to the side and sat down on the edge of her bed."The drawer was locked, too.Boy, you're really getting paranoid these days."
"Yeah, almost like I'm afraid some deranged employee is out to prove that he can break into my private property anytime he likes, no matter how often I change the locks."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that too loud," he warned her."Someone might overhear you and get the idea that I've been in your drawers lately," he whispered.
"Yeah, let's nip that rumor in the bud," she agreed."Thanks," she said, tossing the clothes onto the bedside table, "I really didn't want to spend a third day in those," she said, nodding towards the clothes piled on one of the chairs.
"Oh, and don't forget these," said House, digging down into the pocket of his blazer.
He tossed two small pieces of leopard-patterned fabric into her lap.
"What is this?" she asked, picking them up and regarding them dubiously.
" underwear," he informed her.
"No, House," she said, tossing them back to him."There is not nearly enough fabric there to count as underwear.I'd get more coverage out of a cork and a pair of Vicodin strung together."
"I can arrange that," he assured her."Oh, all right," he said, putting them back into his pocket."We'll save these for one of our `special theme nights'."
That's a slightly less well-known pair, but I admit you're more `Queen of the Jungle' than I am `Lord of the Apes."
"Not necessarily," she said, shaking her head.
"Wait until you see what I have in my other pocket," he said, reaching down to retrieve something."I even put in a fresh battery."
"Do we have to pull the shades?" she asked, and then began to laugh as he showed her that it was only his penlight.
She held still as he bent over and examined her pupils.
Flicking off the light, he leaned over and gently knocked his fingers against her forehead."Doesn't sound as empty as it did this morning," he commented, sitting back and putting the light back into his pocket.
"It seems to have gotten refilled," she said, pulling up the covers slightly as she sat back.
"All memories returned?" he asked, sitting back further onto the bed as he placed his cane on top of the blanket.
"Everything except for the twelve hours or so before it happened," she replied."Which I guess is pretty typical for these attacks?"
"Yep," he said, nodding his head."Since you had a power outage, so to speak, those files were lost somewhere between the short- and long-term memory storage systems.Poof."
"That's a shame," she said, shaking her head."All I can recall about yesterday is getting dressed to come over to your place.Judging by how much better it's been getting over the past four months, yesterday must have been pretty fantastic."
"It was," House assured her."Now, if you'd only let me videotape us like I keep asking you, you'd be able to see for yourself."
"You really are a much better lover than you used to be, House," she said, grinning as she raised her hands up behind her head.
"Thanks, I think," he said, narrowing his eyes."I guess I've improved with age, like wine."
"Well, the Cialis might be helping just a bit too," she teased."Though I think the real problem with our one-night stand years ago was too much wine, for both of us."
"For both of us?You're the one who threw up right afterwards."
"Yeah, but you're the one who passed out and hit his head on the toilet."
"At least I made it to the toilet," he said."I guess yesterday was a slight improvement over that," he admitted.
She lowered her hands and tilted her head to the side."Three times, House?" she whispered.
"All right," he said, shrugging his shoulders, "it was only twice.But we were headed for three until you decided to kick me," he argued.
"I'm sorry," she said, raising her hand up to brush a strand of hair away from her temple.
"Sure," he replied, nodding his head."It was just an accident," he said, skeptically, raising his fingers to indicate quotation marks.
"No, I mean it, House," she said, dropping her gaze to study the sheet for a moment."I'm really sorry for all this," she added, looking back up at him.
"This?" he asked gesturing around the room."Yeah, I'm really pissed at you for having an unexpected and completely involuntary interruption of the blood flow to your brain like that.It was very careless of you.Try and have a little more self-control next time," he urged, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth as he teased her.
She leaned forward, cupping her chin in her hand."How difficult is Foreman going to be?"
"I believe his exact words were that he is looking forward to `making me squirm'," he replied.
Cuddy groaned and closed her eyes."Maybe I'll just take the next month off," she moaned, leaning back against the pillows again."Or wait until a cease fire has been announced."
"I think it's more likely than one of us will kill the other," House assured her."But," he added, "he will respect your confidentiality.As much as he is going to be needling me and possibly you, he won't be blabbing to anyone about it."
Cuddy nodded in agreement.
"Cameron and Wilson, likewise, will not be announcing this on the PA system.On the other hand, be prepared for them to be brimming over with helpful advice."
"Yeah," she said, "I'm sure they will be."
"Are you going to take the advice she gave you earlier?"
She looked at him blankly.
"About repeating the HCG in a couple of days," he clarified.
She frowned and shook her head."No," she said quietly."I've been disappointed too many times already.If I saw the level rising, I'd get my hopes up, even though it wouldn't be definite.I also don't want to find out I am pregnant and then miscarry early again, like last time," she admitted."It'll be easier just to pretend it's a late period."
"When would you do a pregnancy test?" he asked.
"Not until I'm at least a week late."
She paused and looked down at her fingernails.
"She didn't come out and say it, but I'm pretty sure Stacy has also figured out there's something going on between us," she murmured.
"Yeah, I have two good reasons to believe that," House said.
She looked at him quizzically.
"She said something to
She chewed on her lip for a moment.
"But, this hasn't completely messed things up, has it?" she asked, anxiously."I mean, it did seem to be a real shock to everyone.So I would say that our behavior over the past four months hasn't made anyone suspicious, right?"
"Apparently not," he replied.
"I do think that, once I get back to work, we should be extra discreet though, don't you?"
"Sure," he said, nodding his head in agreement.
"Good," she said, taking in a deep breath and smiling."So, we're on for next month?"
"Absolutely.If your cycle stays consistent," he said, wrinkling his forehead as he calculated, "you're due to ovulate again four weeks from tomorrow?"
She nodded her head
"I'll put it on my calendar.But, don't worry, I'll be discreet," he assured her."I'll just write `Spawn with Cuddy' in big red letters across the date."
She rolled her eyes as he got up off the bed.
"Unless, of course," he said, leaning over to pick up his cane, "it actually took this time, and you're no longer in need of my services."
She hesitated for just a moment."Of course," she said, raising her eyebrows and smiling again."That would be great, wouldn't it?"
"Here," he said, transferring his cane to his left hand and digging in his shirt pocket for something."Almost forgot to give you this," he said, handing over her cell phone.
"Thanks," she said, reaching out to take it."Is it safe for me to have it now?" she teased.
"Yeah, those bigwigs have told everyone to leave you alone for a few days, so you can recover," he said."By the way, I programmed in a few new numbers for you, you might want to check them out."
She narrowed her eyes suspiciously and then flipped the phone open and searched her directory.She took one look, groaned loudly, and glared up at him
"Oh, great, just the numbers I wanted at the top of my list:Hot Girlz, Sexy Babes, and Wet Chicks," she read aloud, shaking her head."You know, House, this telephone is actually hospital property," she said."They periodically check to see what numbers are dialed."
"Yeah, right, they're supposed to be monitoring the internet use also.Never stopped me from downloading porn," he announced, proudly.
"Believe me, I know," she said, snapping the phone closed and tossing it over on top of the clothes he had brought to her.
He had gone over to the stack of her other clothes and was digging his leather jacket out from under the pile.
"Thanks for letting me borrow that," she said, as he stood up.
"No problem," he said, folding it over his arm.
"I guess I'll see you on Wednesday," she said."They want me to take tomorrow and Tuesday off."
"So I heard," he said, turning towards the door.
"You want to push that table back?" she asked, pulling the covers up around her again and pointing towards the tray table.
"Nope," he said, shaking his head and walking back towards the bed."It's been a long day and you look exhausted," he said, looking down at her."The work will wait until tomorrow, `Superdean'.Get some sleep," he ordered.
He put out his hand and for just a moment she thought he was going to caress her cheek.Instead, she felt the smooth leather of the jacket brush against her face as he bent over to switch off the light that was mounted above the bed.
"Good night, Cuddy," he said, and turned towards the door.
"Good night, House," she whispered.
He limped to the door and turned off the other light switch.He walked out into the hallway and there was a soft swooshing sound as the door closed automatically behind him.She remained sitting up in bed, watching as he walked slowly but steadily down the hall, not once pausing or turning back to look at her.She waited until he had disappeared around the corner before she pulled the covers up around her neck and turned over to lie down.
She lay quietly for a few moments and then sat up again and began trying to punch and pound the pillows into a more comfortable position.
"You just told the man to be discreet," she murmured out loud. "Did you really expect him to kiss you goodbye?" she harrumphed, as she lay down again.
"No," said a quiet voice inside her head, "But you sure hoped that he would."