SUMMARY: The only way to give anything to House is to make him think he's stealing it.
CHARACTERS: Cuddy, House
RATING: R for language and themes (gen fic).
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.
Let's Make a Deal
"What now, House?" she sighs as she hears her office door swing open.
"Is that the way you greet your favorite department head?"
"No. That would be, 'What can I do for you, Doctor Wilson?' You're not even my second favorite. At present you're in a dead heat with the head of Janitorial."
"Liar. You'd never have paid a hundred million for the Tidy Bowl Man."
"This hospital's independence was worth a hundred million. You were just a dubious perk."
"I'm good at being dubious, but perky? You wouldn't know about that unless you had -- ohhh, that's right, you did sleep with me!"
"And I out-perked you by a two-to-one margin. So," she purrs, offering her most cunning smile, "are you headed for the clinic all by yourself, or do I have to have the nice men in uniform show you the way?"
"This is the fourth time in two hours you've interrupted my work. Care to bet?"
House shuts his mouth but does not turn to go. He leans on his cane at a slightly odd angle, and Cuddy notes that his right hand is bandaged. She decides not to ask what happened because first of all, she probably does not want to know and second, he will use the question to divert her from ... well, who knows from what. He stands there and stares at her -- not the leering stare of a moment ago, but the troubled, guarded one that makes her think of ghosts, of half-formed figures moving behind a pane of glass.
"You want something. Just tell me what it is, so I can say no and we can get it over with." What she means is, Tell me what you need and I'll do my best to help. Life would be so much easier if she could just offer and he could just accept, but that's not how it works with him. She has long since learned that the only way to give anything to House is to make him think he's stealing it.
"I want you to --" He looks away, down at his hands, and then at the door. "You should go see Wilson."
"Is he doing all right?"
"If by 'doing all right' you mean 'being a constant pain in my ass', sure. He's demanding, whiny, always hungry, and I'm sick of it. You agree to come over for an evening, do your maternal nurturing thing, and I'll ... leave you alone for the rest of the day."
"If by 'leave me alone' you mean you'll go to the Clinic ..."
"Fine." He's caving far too quickly, but she's not going to call him on it, not going to tell him that she knows damn well he isn't sick of Wilson. "Sadist," he growls at her. "I just thought you might want to go play mommy for a while, since Wilson's real mommy doesn't love him anymore."
"You mean his family --?"
"AWOL. Or MIA, or whatever set of letters mean 'uncaring selfish hypocrites' these days."
"They're still on that cruise?"
"The Rhine must have frozen over," House mutters, and then he's gone as suddenly as he appeared. He must be distracted; he never even waited for her answer. She picks up her pager and sends him a quick message: tonight 6.
Cuddy stares down at the calendar on her desk, but instead of dates she sees Wilson in his hospital bed, surrounded by cards, flowers, pastel trinkets and no people. His isolation had bothered her then, but she never thought House cared about that. He had always seemed to like having Wilson all to himself.
Maybe he's just careful who he shares with, she thinks, feeling a sad little smile tug at her mouth. She wonders what she should bring when she visits, and decides that she'll have to ask House. No one else would know as well as he would, and she can't ask Wilson himself. Hard as it is to give anything to House, with Wilson it's almost impossible. House at least will admit that there are things he wants.
She's jarred out of her thoughts by the ringing of her phone. It's the line from the Clinic's admitting desk.
"Six is good," says House. "Wear something sexy." He hangs up before she can say anything, and she hates herself for immediately thinking of that red silk tank she hasn't pulled out of the closet in ages.
Well, what the hell. The color makes her feel happy, and maybe James will like it. He's got to be tired of looking at wrinkles and stubble.