The first snow of the year, five inches, and Cuddy loved it. She knew by rights she shouldn’t---snow meant traffic snarls and accidents; late arrivals and excuses to call in
sick. Nevertheless the clean fluff drifting out of the sky still sent an inward thrill
through her as she marched in her boots through it to the front doors. She loved how
it blanketed everything and softened hard edges; how it made all things equally clean
The main front door rug was a mess, of course—not only had snow been tracked in
with every visitor, but also mud and rock salt residue. Sighing, Cuddy made a note to
tell maintenance to re-salt all the main walkways across campus. She noted the
Caution Wet Floor signs were already out and in place as she moved down the hall.
Carefully she unwound her scarf and shook her hair out, running a hand over it to
brush away melting flakes. Already wetness was seeping in at her shoulders and
elbows, and she hurried to her office, thinking of coffee.
As she unlocked it and stepped in, Cuddy glanced out the windows behind her desk, noting the fall was slowing. She didn’t have the balcony that the other offices had;
hers was off to the left. She knew it would be fluffily blanketed . . . . and then she
noticed the wet stains on the carpeting by the doorway.
Annoyed, Cuddy let her gaze go through the glass door to the balcony, and her lips
tightened as she noticed the white figure standing tall there. She stepped close
enough to the glass to fog it up with her breath, then wiped it away impatiently as she
kept staring out at it.
God. A snowman. No, not a snow man, not with the obvious and heavily packed
pair of rounded snow curves bulging out at the neckline of the figure. The snow had
been whittled down at the waist and allowed to flare at the hips, giving the thing an
hourglass figure. Someone had ingeniously sliced up an garbage bag for hair, and it
streamed over the snowwoman’s shoulders in long strands of black. Two rosy cheeks
of pink bologna, blue plastic bottle cap eyes and a tongue depressor nose rounded
out the face.
She might have been charmed and forgiven it all, if the creator hadn’t added two
perky nipples made of pill bottles jammed deeply into the snow of each breast. The
dark color made them stand out, and the jaunty angle of each told her immediately
who was responsible for this saucy work of art. With a growl, Cuddy yanked on her
balcony door and stormed out. She stalked around it, ignoring the snow drifting down
as she circled the offending display, trying not to be pleased that he’d made her
backside fairly trim . . .
No. She wasn’t going to be flattered. OR amused. House had broken into her office,
come out to her inner sanctum and created this . . . . monstrosity. The temptation to
kick it was strong, but . . .
Cuddy looked to the sky, into the falling snow and smiled.
* * *
House limped in, a good mood prevailing despite the ache in his thigh. The weather
was no treat, but he tended to overlook how it affected his leg simply because deep
down, he liked snow. It meant the holidays were coming, and despite all his outer Scrooginess, he enjoyed the lights and general spirit that permeated the hospital and
the city at large. There was something silly and foolish and fundamentally reassuring
about the way people annually tried to overcome their selfish natures if only for a few
He’d done all his shopping online. Wilson would never know (but definitely suspect)
who’d bought him a case of halvah, Chase would have to deal with six monogrammed SpongeBob sweaters, Foreman would be forced to eat his way through a peanut
brittle mansion, and Cameron would wonder worriedly if there was any symbolism to
the Barbie Hot Tub Van under her tree.
House had shopped for Cuddy too—it hadn’t been easy to decide between the
Hooters teeshirts and the book Artificial Insemination for Dummies, but in the end
he’d chosen the personalized panties, figuring she’d be just pragmatic enough to keep
them. Sunday through Saturday, each with a tasteful sentiment he himself had
chosen to cheerily decorate her crotch. His favorite was the last one for the workweek:
It’s Friday and these are SO off of me!, although each pair had saucy potential.
Musing over Cuddy’s panties, he lumbered along the hall, keeping an eye out for low
hanging lights and mistletoe. Wilson fell into step beside him, looking bemused.
“House, when you asked me for a trash bag, I assumed it was for trash.”
“You assumed wrong,” House agreed. “That’s your problem—you’ve always been a
“Sorry to follow the line of progressives, but my point is that the unauthorized use of a
trash bag to taunt the Dean of Medicine is an unwise move at any time, but especially
during the holiday season. Someone has to cover the clinic over Christmas, and with
your name on her lips amid a stream of accompanying profanity . . . “ Wilson trailed
off, looking over at House. The other man grinned briefly.
“She found the Snowbabe?”
“You could say that, yes.”
“How long before she stomped it into oblivion?” House asked with interest. Wilson
said nothing, but the purse of his mouth held back a grin.
House prodded him with his cane. “Decapitation then.”
Wilson shook his head, a twinkle in his brown eyes. “Noooo. Maybe you ought to
check out Cuddy’s balcony—and I mean the literal one, not the figurative one—and
see for yourself.”
Definitely intriguing. House sped up his rocking stride and made his way to Cuddy’s
office, wondering if there was any way to sneak a peek without going inside. He knew
her balcony was visible from the cafeteria—that was a prime factor in the creation of
the Snowbabe in the first place—so he bypassed her office and made his way there
House peered through the frosty windows, and noted there was now a second figure
on her balcony. This was taller than the first, and sported was looked like gravel
stubble on its face. The scowl looked familiar too, and House appreciated that the
stick cane was on the correct side. He stared harder, trying to see what (if anything)
was out of place. Finding nothing, he sighed and turned away.
It was only when he went into his office that he sensed something wasn’t quite right. Cameron blinked and ducked her head down into a patient file, her cheeks pink.
Foreman had on his “I’m-so-glad-Cuddy’s-not-after-ME’ face, and Chase was staring everywhere in a desperate attempt not to make eye contact.
House stared around the room and spotted it right way.
A kidney pan, sterile and metal, was carefully duct-taped to the white board. From it,
on a slender piece of cotton string dangled a glittering scalpel. Intrigued, House
lumbered over to it and looked in.
A pair of Hostess Sno Balls sat in the pan.