SUMMARY: Surprise, surprise.
CHARACTERS: Cuddy, House
RATING: R for language and themes.
WARNINGS: Details the aftermath of events in Bad Company, a rough, violent story. Aftermath isn't always pretty; may distress some readers. Adult themes and adult language.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Never will.
NOTES: The pieces of this shattered story are numbered. The first number signifies the number of days that have elapsed since the original event in Bad Company; the second number signifies when the fic occurs during that day.
That sharp, insistent rapping on her door can only mean one thing. House never uses the doorbell; he thinks it's way cooler to knock with the cane.
Cuddy sighs, puts down her book and uncurls herself from the sofa. On her way to the door, she slips into a tough, sauntering attitude, the way she'd put on a tailored coat, enjoying its perfect fit. Whatever he wants, he's going to have to work for it.
"How good of you to call before you dropped by," she says, opening the door just enough so that he can see her leaning her shoulder heavily against the inside frame. He's not going to push his way in, oh no. "If you wanted a date, you should've asked yesterday, so I could have turned you down in advance."
"I prefer stealth. Makes it easier for me to catch you and your latest internet stalker."
"You'd know all about stalking. What do you want, House?"
"Want? You wound me. I come bearing gifts."
For the first time she realizes that he has been holding his left hand out of her sight, behind his back. He shifts and brings forth a paper shopping bag that, oh God, looks like it might have come from one of those seedy little stores full of videos and lingerie. It's hot pink and has a cheaply printed pattern of leopard spots all over it. House dangles it in front of her, its twisted paper handles looped over his index finger. He's smiling at her, but it isn't the leering, crocodile grin she'd have expected. Some kind of strange hopefulness is peeking out like a rabbit from behind the thicket of defenses. It's just enough to keep her from shutting the door in his face.
"Shopping at Delilah's Den of Delights?" she asks, arching an eyebrow at him.
"Nope! The Livin' Large Ladies' Boutique. They had a much better selection."
"No matter what they taught you in kindergarten, House, you really shouldn't share all your toys." She starts to push the door closed but he pushes against it, wedging himself into place.
"It's not a toy," he huffs, rolling his eyes at her. "Jeez, you're such a spoilsport. It's harmless, okay? I swear it has nothing to do with the wild, screaming sex you want to have with me."
Her fingers tap against the door frame while she considers. Worst case scenario, she'll merely have to throw him out; she has done it before and it's really not too hard. That hopeful, almost pleading expression creeps into his eyes again. He's up to something, and in spite of herself she does want to know what it is. At the very least it's bound to be more interesting than the novel she's been reading.
She steps back and swings the door open wide.
"You make the craziest assumptions," says House as he steps in, holding the garish little bag up and out of her curious reach. "I never even said this was for you."
"I need your help with it, because you can sew. Believe it or not, I have that ability myself, but I don't have a sewing machine. You do."
Indeed she does, and he knows that because he explored every part of her home when he broke in. This is getting better by the second. What could he possibly want her to sew?
"House—" she leans in close, smiles up at him, and savors the momentary confusion—and distraction—that flashes across his features. He forgets to guard his treasure and she snatches it away, retreating quickly as she pulls the item out of its neon-leopard bag.
"Oh my God. What in the—this is the most—I'm ... glad it isn't for me, House, but ... "
"It's for Wilson," he says, and that rare, beautiful smile of his appears for just a moment. "It just needs some ... alterations."
"Wilson?!" She's starting to laugh; she can't help it. The thought of Wilson with this ... thing ...
"Let me explain."
"Yes. Yes, I can do that," she confirms. "It won't take long."
"Great! Love to stay and chat, but—"
"Not so fast!" she snaps. He freezes in his sneakered tracks, and she continues in a much softer, more sinuous tone, pulling him back to her as if by invisible strings. "You're only a little taller than he is," she murmurs, deliberately letting her gaze roam up and down his body. "Your measurements should work just fine for this."
His eyes widen in surprise before he recovers. "Sure your ruler's long enough?"
"That's you, House," she purrs, turning away to go get her measuring tape, "always the classiest guy in the room."
Only House would think of a project like this. It's juvenile, creative, glaringly tacky, possibly obscene and completely practical. Necessary, even. There's a bizarre sense of honor in being asked to assist.
She's glad that he can't see her grinning as she sashays out of the foyer. She was right. This is much more fun than her book.