“ . . . And after Ferguson announces his intent we’ll have a better idea of what we’ll
need and I can make a few calls. So--do you want to have dinner?”
The question shoots out of the blue. Well not really the blue, more along the lines of
grey, and Cuddy wishes she’d had a little more warning. Usually she does; she can
sense a shift in that voice that hints the question is coming, and like the good defensive
tennis player she is she can deflect it.
Not this time. No high lob you can see coming from a mile away, no, this zinger is net
height and right at the solar plexus.
She shakes her head, trying to make it look regretful, and shoots a meaningful look at
the glass walls of the office. Even though it’s late, and not many people would be
walking by, Cuddy understands it only takes one to make a careless remark. She’s
aware that people looked at her meaningfully when Vogler kept the two of them locked
up for hours and hours into the night.
She knows she’s starting to get comments about having her assistant sitting outside her
doors like a Rutger-weiller, as House calls him. It goes with the names he calls HER.
Hospital Head Honchette.
Queen of Darvon.
She lets them roll of her back most of the time, even when the nicknames have a sting.
Even when they hold a hint of affection. The less she reacts, the less people have as
grist for their rumor mill. House is forever trying to find the right one to make her flinch,
and he hasn’t succeeded yet.
“Oh come on, I know you’re hungry. It’s just dinner—“
Cuddy makes the mistake of looking into those brown eyes, warm and soft. A gaze with
a glint of hunger. A gaze that invites memories of a few nights now in the past.
Wine, laughs, and . . . kisses.
“With you, it always starts as dinner,” Cuddy returns, wishing her stomach didn’t tighten.
A low laugh, not denying it at all.
“Everyone has to eat sometime, Lisa. Would it make you feel better if I promised not to
“Yes.” Cuddy blurts, then blushes. Damn it, she hates sounding slightly breathless and panicked like that. It’s a sure sign she needs to get laid. Another low chuckle.
“You’re pink. It’s a good look on you,” that soft honeyed voice croons, bringing back
more memories. “ALL of you.”
Cuddy closes her eyes. Tennis. Hold the net, don’t let anything get past.
“We’re not going there, not any more.” She responds, fighting to keep her voice low and
even. She’s unprepared for the left hand that drops over hers, bigger than her own, and
warm; Cuddy sucks in a breath.
That was an unfair charge of the net. Oh yeah.
“If you say so . . . but I’m not going to stop . . . trying, you know. It’s always going to be
there between us.”
“I know.” Cuddy admits in a quiet voice. She can’t deny history, and for her history
means a few bad judgment calls that she’s learned to live with. But in the end, the wine
and kisses hadn’t been worth it. She knows that every time she looks into House’s eyes.
The betrayal would kill him. Maybe not quickly, but House has never been the sort to
take a relationship lightly.
“I want you.” Raw honesty now, and Cuddy wishes she could look anywhere but in
those dark, searching eyes.
This rally is hurting.
“I know that too. But you’re here for the job, not me. And we both owe it to . . . him.”
“Damn it.” A world of despair in those two words, and there it is, laid out like an Ace
serve, untouchable. “I hate it when you’re right. I hate having memories and dreams of
you I can’t do anything about. Sometimes . . . sometimes I wish—“
Cuddy freezes and the chill that runs through her comes from knowing what those next
words are going to be—
“—That he’d died.”
“No. You don’t MEAN that!” it’s a desperate shot, a backhand of an accusation but she
feels the palm over her fingers squeeze tightly, the wedding ring pressing down her
“You think it too, once in a while. And I know you think about us too, Lisa. You
remember all the lovemaking, all the nights going into the next mornings. I KNOW you
do. You remember the kisses and the promises. We had each other, we loved each
other in a way I’ve never forgotten. A way I can’t live without.”
God that voice. Soft and seductive as always, and the hell of it is yes, the memories
ARE there, ripe and sweet, that madness of the years back when House was the
Then—on a night of celebration, a night when too much wine put House to sleep on the downstairs sofa . . . Two lovers, one guilty secret upstairs.
“I . . . can.”
The forehand is strong now; Cuddy knows the years have put the power in her to serve
it up. Soft voice, soft touch, but in all that lost, lonely time the practice House has put
her through in taking the cheap shots pays off. Cuddy lifts her gaze and looks deeply
into the waiting stare, swallows hard and gently tugs her hand free, knuckle scraping
against the wedding ring.
And slowly, Stacy Warner blinks away a few tears.
Game. Set. Match.