"You slept with this patient's relative?" Wilson asked incredulously.
House twirled his cane as he continued to stare down at a stain on the floor.
"Yes...The real question you're wondering is how in a mental hospital did I pull that off." House said finally looking up to meet his best friend's gaze.
Wilson shook his head and stood up from the sofa.
"I don't need the logistics...I'm gonna get us some food." He said as he picked up his coat and began walking toward the door.
"You're not even a little curious to why I slept with her or why I liked her at all. I mean, you're usually not shy about psycho-analyzing me..."
"Well, you just had two months of psychoanalyzing I'd say you're good." Wilson said with a shy smile before he left the apartment.
House leaned back against the cushions and took in his surroundings. Living with Wilson, in an apartment that he once shared with Amber, would be weird. It seemed sacreligious. House sighed deeply and tried to close his eyes and nap.
"I'm really liking this new cooking hobby of yours." Wilson said as he chewed on a juicy fillet mignon that House had prepared.
"Oddly enough, I do to."
"So, any dessert?" Wilson asked as he wiped his mouth on a napkin. House drank down his Coke before answering.
"We're not on desserts yet...Next week I think is the start of pastries." House said with a faraway look.
"What's wrong? I mean besides the obvious stuff." He added quickly to his question before House could snark at him.
House pushed his carrots around on his plate.
"Cuddy, wants me to become a consultant to Diagnostics until I get my license back."
"Well, that's good. Did she come over to see you about it?" Wilson asked with noticeable excitement.
"What happened besides the job proposition?" Wilson asked hesitantly.
House picked up a baby carrot and chewed it for much longer than needed before responding.
"Nothing. Nothing at all."
"It's hard to believe how much she's grown." Wilson said as he rolled a pink ball to Rachel. Rachel giggled and rolled it back. This was a favorite game of hers with Uncle James.
Cuddy smiled at the sight and sat down in her recliner.
"She likes it when you come over. You are one of her favorite people."
"Well, she's one of mine. Next to her mommy that is."
Cuddy rolled her eyes playfully.
"Buttering me up for something?"
Wilson rolled the ball one more time before reaching for Rachel and picking her up. The little girl's hand pulled on his ear.
"He didn't mean what he said."
Cuddy's eyebrow arched.
"Which time? Before he fell into a deep delusion about me and him...or when I came over to tell him about the position, and he told me it was all a mistake...that it was just lust that he wanted to believe it was more." She said devoid of emotion.
Wilson put Rachel in her playpen and sat near Cuddy.
"He said those exact words?" Wilson asked in surprise.
"Those exact words."
"You don't seem angry or sad or..."
"It's over, James. He's my friend and always will be but I think...it's done."
"You just have to give this time. He's an idiot when it comes to love and he's still in a bad place since Mayfield...
Cuddy put up a hand to silence him.
"I can't be on the playground forever...I want to graduate to something...more." She said with a hint of sadness.
Wilson lay a hand over hers to give reassurance. She smiled weakly.
"Now, how about some dinner." She said with forced cheer.
"Foreman, in charge is really putting a cramp in my style." House said as he sauntered into Cuddy's office.
Cuddy looked up from her computer screen.
"Deal with it or forget about getting your license."
House looked her over for a second before sitting down across from her.
"You seem chipper this afternoon." He said as he leaned his chin on his cane.
Cuddy let out a sigh.
"Look, I had a long night with Rachel. She had a fever and some diarreha...Long story short I had a total of three hours of sleep..."
"Well, you don't look like it." He said sincerely. Cuddy's eyes widened at the genuine compliment.
House nodded in response and stood up.
"I have a soap to watch..."
Cuddy smiled softly and watched him limp out of her office door.
Cuddy turned around to see Lucas Douglass staring back at her. She couldn't help but to break into a smile at seeing him.
"Lucas, it's been a while." She said as she motioned for him to follow her to an empty exam room.
"Well, once Wilson was BFF with House again I knew my job was over...How have you been?" He asked as he leaned against the door.
"Good...I have a daughter now."
Lucas smiled and walked closer to her.
"Yeah, Rachel Cuddy...You found her at Christmas."
Cuddy rolled her eyes and folded her arms.
"Why on earth are you still investigating me?"
"I swear I haven't been looking up on you...well, until two nights ago when I realized I'd be back in this area." He answered with a stammer.
Cuddy unfolded her arms and grinned.
"Well, was your curiosity fed? Or will you be hiding in the trees that surround my house?" She asked as she moved closer into his personal space.
"I am not a peeping Tom...But I'll peep if you're into that."
Cuddy laughed and Lucas took the opportunity to pull her into a kiss. She was caught off guard at first but soon kissed back. After a minute of heavy kissing the two came up for air.
"Lucas, what the hell..."
"Look, I know we only had like one date and it wasn't really a date because you were paying me to find dirt on House and I was just trying to get to know you and you were beautiful and smelled so good...
Cuddy placed a finger against his lips to shut him up.
"You're rambling. Just tell me why you're here." She said as she took her finger away.
"I'm in the area on a job, but I'm in this hospital because I wanted to ask you out on a proper date...no hidden agenda...I didn't mean to kiss you...I mean I loved it but that's not my intention...I mean I would like to do it again but you know...no pressure."
Cuddy placed a hand against his cheek. He finally stilled his breathing and leaned into her hand.
"I'm free tomorrow night."
"Another round of drinks, Wally. This is a celebration." Wilson yelled as he slapped House on the back.
"Wilson, I got my license back I didn't have a foursome with three women who looked like Angelina Jolie. Lay off the the drinks."
"What the hell is wrong with you? You are a real doctor again. You have your puzzles again. Why are you not as excited as I am?"
House took a swig of his scotch and looked at Wilson.
"Because I saw Cuddy bring Lucas home last night."
Wilson blinked in confusion a few times before speaking.
House looked at his friend in irritation.
"She didn't bring him home to help her with her leaky roof."
"So? Now you want her. You want her because now she wants someone else or because someone else wants her?"
"I don't want her...I just didn't think she'd have time for someone like him."
"You mean someone similar to you but much less caustic. Gee, I wonder why she likes him?"
House rolled his eyes.
"He may share my manipulation skills, deep need to know the truth, and uncanny musicianship but he is not even close to being me."
"Look, you said you only wanted friendship, and you can't expect her to not date...I've seen them together...it's interesting and not all bad."
"Yeah, you had a double date with them last week. You brought your new girlfriend, that I have yet to meet, and had a nice little dinner at that Thai restaurant near campus."
Wilson's jaw dropped.
"You hired another P.I. to follow your old P.I.?"
"No. I hired another P.I. to follow Cuddy. See, there's a difference." House said as he downed the rest of his scotch.
"How's your patient?" Cuddy asked House as she sat across from his desk.
He put his tennis ball down and looked up at her.
"Not responding to the treatment. He'll more than likely be dead within the next twelve hours."
Cuddy sighed sadly and began fiddling with her bracelet.
"It doesn't mean that you missed something. Sometimes it's beyond our best efforts."
"How can you be so sure I did everything right? How?" He asked in genuine despair.
Cuddy stood up and walked around to sit on the edge of the desk, in front of him.
"Because it only gets to you this bad when you know you did every procedure and tried every dangerous treatment and still couldn't cure your patient. But it's not because you've lost your ability, your gift..."
Her eyes were filled with a strong determined gaze. He was mesmerized by her gaze until something else caught his attention. He looked down at her neck and noticed a new necklace. He reached up and fingered the small pendant. A small sleeping angel was hanging from her neck.
She shivered at first from his touch but did not push him away.
"He gave you this?"
"Pretty on you...Thanks for the pep talk, but I think a hard drink will do me better." He said as he took his fingers away from her necklace and reached into his desk for his whiskey. Cuddy stood up from the desk.
"I'll make sure Wilson drives you home." She said sadly before leaving him alone.
"That was nice." Cuddy said breathlessly as she fell back against the pillows.
"Very nice." Lucas said as he also leaned against the pillows. The pair stared up at his skylight.
"I love your skylight. Looking at the stars from a comfortable bed is very..."
"Nice?" He said with a grin. She playfully nudged his arm. He laughed and placed a kiss on her shoulder.
"This is going well between you and me." She said as she fingered the necklace.
"I think so too."
Cuddy turned to look at him.
"I'm a mom. It's not just me you're getting now."
"I know. You know it has never been an issue for me...I love being with you and I'd love being with your daughter. It seems pretty simple."
"It does? We have been together for four months and you're ready for the long haul?"
"I'm ready when you're ready, Lisa." He said in a knowing tone.
Cuddy let out a breath and lay her head against his chest.
"Well, that's good isn't it?" Wilson asked her as they sat down at the outside picnic table with their lunches.
Cuddy smiled awkwardly and began to open up her snack.
"He's ready to be the father to my child, and I'm not even sure if we should move in together yet."
Wilson opened his chips.
"He's not the guy any of us pictured you with, but you've been happier since having him around."
"Who did everyone picture me with?" She asked in a bitter tone.
"Well, someone established,a little more worldly, maybe even..."
"Terribly stubborn, childish, and closed off." She added with annoyance.
"Yeah, that'd be House alright." Wilson said with a smirk.
"I know I should stop pushing it. But Lise, you can't honestly tell me that it's completely done."
"I can and I have...Look, Lucas may not be the one but I don't know if House is either."
"Fair enough. You gonna eat those fries?"
"You're in love with him." Lucas stated as he watched Cuddy put on her robe and sit at the foot of the bed.
"No, I'm not." She said with her arms crossed in front of her chest. Lucas sighed and lay down on his pillow.
"I know you care about me, but I'm giving you the easy out that you've been looking for."
Cuddy chuckled bitterly and moved up the bed to be closer to him.
"Don't tell me what I want or what to do with my own heart."
"It's called a pre-emptive measure. You're not suppose to be happy about it."
Cuddy rolled her eyes and lay on her side to see his face.
"He's someone who will always be a part of my life but that doesn't mean he's my future."
"You are in denial and I get why." He said as he trailed a finger against her collar bone.
"Lucas, please stop this..."
"I would love to mean as much to you as he does...It's too bad he always takes you for granted. He doesn't know how amazing you are."
A stray tear fell from her eye. He reached out to wipe it away.
"Love takes time, Lucas. Just give me time."
He smiled weakly and leaned in to kiss her lips very briefly.
"I'd give you all the time in the world if I thought it would change anything. But I'm no longer in denial about us..."
"Guess what." Wilson said to House as he joined him in the cafetaria.
"You've met the future fourth ex-Mrs.Wilson today?" He replied as he ate his pudding.
"Zing. You got me. You know you really need to work on the jabs at my relationship history. I think that's the third time I've heard that one."
"Oh, Jimmy I promise I'll work on it."
"Anyway, you and me have been invited to a medical conference in Vienna. And before you opt out just know that you don't have a choice in this matter. Cuddy is making you go." He finished saying as he drank his Sprite.
"Why is she making me? I've jumped through enough hoops these last few months to get my job back and please the board..."
"But you need to jump through a few more for the reputation of the hospital. She wants you to give a speech at the Diagnostic meeting."
House rolled his eyes and stole a fry from Wilson's plate.
"She can think I gave a speech because you'll tell her I did but instead..."
"Oh, and she's going too." Wilson said with a huge smile before stealing his fry back.
"I've never flown first class. This is amazing." Wilson said as he leaned his chair back.
"I have...much to Cuddy's chagrin." House said with a smirk.
"She told me about that little stunt of yours coming back from Singapore. Don't try anything stupid like that this time she really isn't in the mood for it." Wilson warned in his father knows best tone.
"When is she ever? Jim, what do you know that I don't?"
"Something I'll tell you when we get to the hotel because Cuddy is heading back here." He said turning his gaze out the window. Cuddy walked to sit across the isle from them.
"Long bathroom break you had there. Is someone getting sick?" House asked as he leaned over into her space.
"I just wanted to freshen up a bit. Read your 'Lesbian Tales of Bondage,' and let me get some rest." She replied as she pulled her blanket up around her. House looked at her eyes carefully and noticed a redness.
"Fine, Cuddy...But you're only delaying the inevitable:You in a compromising situation and my camera phone as a witness."
"Goodnight, House." She said as she turned away from him.
"This is a nice suite." Wilson stated in awe as he put his suitcase on his bed and walked to stand in front of the fireplace.
"It is pretty sweet." House said as he placed his luggage down by the door and sat on his bed.
"We even have a kitchen!" Wilson exclaimed happily as he walked into the small kitchen nook and looked through the cupboards.
"So, what is up with Cuddy?" House asked abruptly.
"Gee, I thought you'd at least wait until after dinner before..."
"Wilson, we have flown for seven hours and I am more than jet-lagged. Just tell me."
Wilson rubbed the bridge of his nose and sat down on his own bed.
"Cuddy and Lucas broke up."
House's eyes went noticeably wide.
"Who ended it?"
House's eyes once again went wide.
"Says the man who told her the delusion he had meant nothing more than sex."
"The whole delusion centered on me screwing her brains out so how is it not about sex?"
Wilson sighed in exasperation.
"Yes it was about sex but it was also about intimacy and trust and dare I say, love."
"That's why her eyes were red." House said to himself as he ignored Wilson's statement.
"I'm gonna go see if she wants to eat dinner with us." House said as he stood up with his cane in hand and headed toward the door.
Cuddy rinsed her face and pulled her hair back in a ponytail. She was about to change into her sleepwear when she heard a hard knock at her hotel door.
"House? I was going to sleep."
"It's only seven...And the time difference has messed up your circadian rythm...eat dinner with me and Wilson." He stated nonchalantly.
Cuddy blinked twice before shaking her head.
"I don't know what you're up to but I know the last thing you want is me cramping your buddy time with Wilson especially since there are three strip clubs nearby."
House grinned and sat on her bed.
"You do know me well and there will be time for that but I'm really just hungry for a steak right now.You know you are too."
"I don't eat red meat."
"Then get some fish or duck. Just come on."
Cuddy bit back a smile and nodded in agreement.
"Good." He said as he continued to sit on her bed watching her.
"Well, get out. I have to get dressed if we're going out."
"I've seen it all before."
"Don't remind me." She said with a playful rise of her eyebrow as she placed her hands on her hips. He smiled back and got up.
"Wilson, how's the haddock?" Cuddy asked as she cut in to her grilled chicken.
"Really good. Here try some." He said as he handed her some on a fork. Cuddy leaned in and ate from the fork. House bristled at the intimacy of the interaction. To an outsider it would appear that Wilson was her boyfriend and feeding her his meal.
"That is yummy." She said finally.
"So, what the hell to I have to say at this conference?" House asked as he tried to pull Cuddy's focus back on to him.
"God, you act like you don't like having people listen to you talk about how great of a doctor you are." She said with a roll of her eyes as she bit into her chicken.
"I don't like being forced to do anything..."
"Yeah, like you'd do this voluntarily." Wilson chimed in.
"And,I, more than anyone knows you don't like to do anything someone wants you to do." Cuddy added with a tone of scorn not missed by either man.
"I'm a rebel in that way."
Cuddy snickered and downed her glass of white wine.
"More like an ass."
"Someone's ready for a visit from Aunt Flo." House said from the side of his mouth. Wilson brought a hand to his forehead.
"No, I'm not due for that until two more weeks...And you already knew that." She said with another gulp of her drink.
"Oh, right this attitude has to do with your poor broken heart."
Cuddy's mouth dropped and her heated gaze immediately fell on Wilson.
"Cuddy, I didn't mean to tell him."
"You never mean to..."
"So, I guess you weren't pleasing him in the boudoir in all the ways that he likes..." House began to say but stopped when Cuddy stood up.
"I'll see you tomorrow at the conference." She said as quickly as she could before she left the restaurant.
"Well, that went well." Wilson said as he looked disapprovingly at House.
"God, will that wind bag ever shut up." House exclaimed as he propped his leg on an empty chair.
"He's almost done...Then it's my turn." Wilson said as he organized his index cards.
"Lucky you. I have to wait a whole day before I get this hell over with."
"Have you talked to Cuddy since last night?" Wilson asked suddenly.
"No...She was out this morning when I knocked."
"Why did you act like that last night? If this is how you woo her back I'd hate to see how you tell her you love her."
"It's too damn early to get into this, Wilson."
"Yeah, or too late...She's hurting enough you don't have to pour the salt into her wounds."
"Drinking in the dark? I thought that was my thing." House said as he entered her room and sat on the bed. Cuddy sat on the window seat looking out at the lit up city of Vienna.
"I knew it wouldn't last. I don't know why I'm taking it so hard." She said as she trailed a finger on the rim of her glass.
House pushed his cane aside and leaned against a pillow.
"Because you thought you'd be the one to end it...You thought you'd get your power back..."
"I never lost my power."
"No. You never lost it, but some part of you feels that way...ever since last summer...I'm guessing." He said looking sadly in to her eyes.
She put the glass down and stared back at him.
"I wish you had let me see you when you were there." She said in a low voice.
"You wouldn't have liked what you saw...I could barely look in the mirror."
Cuddy smiled weakly and turned her gaze back out the window.
"It wasn't just lust...when you kissed me after Joy."
He looked down at his shoes.
"It was about mutual pain." He stated before looking up. Her gaze remained on the lights outside.
"Loneliness is a part of the human condition. It follows you your whole life...but in that moment I felt less alone." She said as a tear trailed down her cheek. House was startled by her open emotion and moved to stand. He walked behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Cuddy, I'm sorry..."
She looked up at him.
"Goodnight, House." She said softly.
He stared at her a long time and then turned around, picked up his cane, and headed for the door.
"Goodnight,Cuddy." He said weakly before closing the door behind him.