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True at the Time

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Sometimes Cuddy looked at House and she just wanted to weep. There was so much wrong with him, he was so out of sync with the real world. He was so delusional with his limp and his angst and his motorcycle.

Most of the time, though, she looked at House and she wanted to jump him. It had been nearly a decade of working with him and he still looked down the front of her shirt and that's what kept her wanting. He hadn't gotten tired of her yet, and she appreciated that.

Things started happening. Stacy left, and then there was the ketamine and the eight weeks of him showing up at her house at odd hours sweaty and pestering her for a water bottle. Then there were the fertility treatments and he'd told everyone in the hospital – including patients that she was pregnant. He'd apparently been convincing too, since the hospital board had hauled her into their meeting to demand if the rumor was true. That had been embarrassing. House had convinced Cameron for five whole minutes that he was the father. Granted, Cameron (though a perfectly respectable doctor) was kind of gullible, but still, she couldn't let that one go.

"Dr. Gregory House, please report to Dr. Cuddy's office immediately."

In his office, House looked up and groaned. She only used the intercom when she was really pissed off. She knew it made his feel like he was being summoned to the principal's office. It was useless to wait, however. The last time he ignored the intercom, she'd send assistant after assistant to his office to summon him, she'd deny authorization of any and all treatments and tests for patients and when he did finally heed her call, she'd double his clinic time.

She was waiting for him, leaning on her desk with her arms crossed. It was a rare day in that she wore pants instead of a skirt, but her heels were still high and her blouse had the first two buttons undone and he helped himself to a glance at her cleavage.

"You rang?" he asked.

"You did not impregnate me," she said, through her teeth.

"Yeah," he scratched the back of this head, "I don't really know what I'm supposed to say to that."

"Say that you'll stop telling people you did!" she said.

"Cameron isn't people, she's like getting suckered personified!" he argued.

"House, you really have to learn how to pick your battles," she seethed. "Why don't you focus on the very real cop who is going to very really end your career instead of my fake pregnancy?"

He looked down, hung is head in that sheepish dog way that made her want to punch him, and just barely met her eyes.

"It isn't working, is it?" he asked, quietly.

"Just, promise me you'll shut the hell up," she said.

"We both know that the natural way is the best way," House said.

"I'm calling you in here like a punk school kid because I want you to stop talking about the fertility treatments and all you can do is talk about it," she said. "What is happening with you? Going crazy about your carpet? Baiting this cop? Alienating Dr. Chase?"

"I still haven't forgiven him for Vogler," House grumbled. She put her hands on her hips but her expression softened.

"It isn't working, no," she said.

"Let me help you," he said.

She laughed, a barking laughter, incredulous.


He shrugged a little but his gaze didn't waver. Her laughter faltered and faded.

"You can't be serious," she said.

"I am," he said.

"Well," she said, flustered now. "Let me think about it. In the meantime, let your lawyer help you and try not to drag Dr. Wilson or the rest of the hospital down with you."

"I make absolutely no promises," he said and limped out.

That night in bed she could only think about House and what 'the natural way' might be like with him. Two hours after she usually fell asleep (and one orgasm later); she was frustrated, hot and bothered, and lonely. Not to mention ovulating. When she called him, he didn't seem surprised.

"You should come over," she said, trying not to blush despite the fact he couldn't see her.

"Fine," he said and hung up. She looked at the silent phone in her hand and felt suddenly that easy was never easy with House. She felt like she swallowed a brick and wished she could take it back but calling him and telling him not to come would be far worse. She got up to make herself a cup of tea, hoping it would calm her, help her hands to stop shaking. She saw her reflection in the kitchen window and realized she looked like hell. Her hair was curly and large and she didn't have any make-up on. She wore a pair of faded pink boxers and an almost see-through white tank top. Her toes were unpolished and it was too late to fix anything. House arrived just as the kettle began to scream on the stove. She turned off the burner and opened the door for him.

"Hi," he said, and she crossed her arms over her chest.

"Come in," she said. "I just made tea, do you want some?"

"No," he said. He watched her pour the hot water and add the tea bag. She didn't know what to say. He was in jeans and his leather jacket and he needed a hair cut. He rubbed his leg. "It's cold out."

"At least it isn't snowing," she said. "Thanks for coming over."

"You're the boss," he said. She took her cup of tea, warm in her hands, and he followed her to the back of the house, where the bedroom was. He had, of course, been in her bedroom before – he'd been in her underwear drawer before, but it was different when he had an invitation. Her bed was unmade and the room was dim with only one lamp on. She set the tea down on the nightstand and looked at him. He took off his jacket and sat down on the bed to take off his shoes.

"This… this isn't just sex, you know," she said, looking at the wall just above his head.

"I know," he said.

"Because if we do this right, there's going to be a whole other person," she continued.

"I know how to do it right, Cuddy," he assured her.

"Why are you here?" she asked. "I mean really?"

"Because you asked me," he said. "I don't have any tricks up my sleeve this time."

She wanted to believe him.

They started off slow and new, like perfect strangers or teenagers. His hands were warm and dry on her arms and all her hair stood on end in anticipation. He smelled clean, like a white bar of soap and she could feel his eyelashes when he blinked on her skin.

She wanted a little baby with blue eyes so badly it made her short of breath.

She lifted her hips to let him pull down her shorts and she already wasn't wearing any underwear. When she was little, she used to pull off all her clothes and run around in the bright back yard completely naked. She was fast, even as a child, and her dad would come and scoop her up and she would laugh when he tickled her belly. Inside, her mother would put her in dresses with lace that itched.

House had his mouth on her breast and her skin was in goose bumps from the cold air and warm mouth. She bit his shoulder. This was real, it was so real. The clock behind him read 2:47am and he had a thin layer of sweat that gathered along his spine.

When House had first started at the hospital, Stacy had brought him lunches in brown paper bags and they would eat in the cafeteria with diet sodas and sandwiches cut diagonally. He would let his fingers rest on her knee while they ate. Stacy had asked her once, jokingly, if they'd ever been together in that unobtrusive southern way that she had and Cuddy had told her no, no of course not because it had been true at the time.

This was her first time with House, pressing her mouth to his and feeling him all the way inside her, his bony hips leaving bruises on hers. He rocked into her at an angle, all his weight on one leg and it made it unpredictable and good.

His forehead was clammy against her neck and she could see him curling his toes, testing for the pain that was going to come when he rolled off of her. She made circles on his lower back with her fingers and wanted to thank him without it feeling cliché.

"Please stay," she said and he looked up at her. She had stubble burn everywhere and he had a snide little smile on his face but his eyes were glassy and he looked tired. "I'll get your pills," she said. He hissed when he flipped on to his back and she fished the prescription bottle from his jacket pocket and handed him two pills so he would sleep well. She pulled the duvet up from the floor and flipped it over him. Under the covers, he put his arm across her ribs and she tried to think about his sperm traveling up, up, up and the baby growing. Positive thinking, it was called. It was easier to do with someone else in the bed with her. Swim! she thought. Next to her, House was already asleep.

In the morning, she woke up to him moving on top of her, using his knee to nudge her legs apart.

"One for the road," he said, and she draped her arms around his neck.

When her period came later in the month – bright red spots against the lining of her underwear, she burst into real, heaving sobs. She was locked into the handicapped stall of the restroom just down the hall from her office. She didn't know who heard her, but they got Cameron, who got Wilson, who sent House into bang on the metal door with the rubber foot of his cane. She unlocked the door to let him in and he locked it again behind them. He didn't have to ask what the matter was, there was still red in the white bowl of the toilet, dispersing into the water.

"We try again," he said. She put her face against her chest and felt like some one was squeezing her heart. "Again and again," he said, petting her hair.

She'd been so happy all week. She could smell the baby powder in the air; feel the velvety, new skull of a baby under her fingers. She'd bought a soft white blanket from a baby store on her lunch hour because she didn't know how to make something like that. Now all she had was blood.

House flushed the toilet with his cane and wiped the trail of mascara from her left cheek.

"Okay?" he said.

"Okay," she said.

He drove her home later in her car with the windows rolled up and the radio playing classic rock turned down low. She let her head rest against the window and he kept his hand on her knee as they drove.