Challenge/Prompt: 7snogs, #7 Milk
Summary: Set not too long after the infarction. Uh. That's not really a summary, is it.
Author's Notes: My first proper stab at H/C. Feedback is love.
Seven months after the infarction. Four months after the break-up with Stacy. Three months after she hired him. Lisa Cuddy sat at her desk and tapped her fingernails on one of the numerous heaps of files in front of her.
“You are supposed to have a patient,” she said with every shred of calm left within her.
“My leg hurts,” House replied, slouching just a little more in his chair. Lisa resisted the urge to murmur you don’t say.
“Oddly enough, I do know that,” she replied.
“Yeah. My leg hurts. I can’t possibly do any work today,” he said in a self-satisfied kind of way, fingers tapping out a tattoo on his right knee. There was a challenge in his eyes; a challenge, but also unbelievable pain. And accusation. Lots of accusation. Never mind that Stacy had signed the papers, never mind that Wilson had been on his left hand side, begging him to have the surgery, never mind that none of them had inflicted the infarction on him; no, that didn’t matter to House. Stacy had walked out and Wilson wasn’t here right now and Lisa had been running his case and right now that made it all her fault.
“Just how long are you going to milk this for?” she asked, genuinely interested in spite of her frustration. House leant forward, penetrating blue gaze making Lisa feel cold all over.
“How likely is it that my nerves are going to regenerate?” he enquired, a wolfish smirk hovering around his lips.
“And how long am I going to be in pain for then?”
“The rest of your life,” Lisa ground out. House gave a satisfied smile and sat back in his chair again.
“So when am I going to stop ‘milking’ it?”
Lisa sighed heavily. “Never.”
“That doesn’t mean you can’t do any work,” Lisa muttered, ignoring his remark because that road would lead to nowhere. He tried puppy dog eyes on her.
“House, I need you to do some work,” she said, leaning forward, trying to catch his gaze, but it kept roving around the room.
“You’re not going to fire the cripple,” House told her in a confident tone. What she could hear in his tone, though, was you’re not going to fire the man you crippled.
House sighed, and brought an orange-tinted plastic pot out of the pocket of his jacket. He tipped a white Vicodin pill into his palm, and dry-swallowed it. Lisa watched, frowning.
“That’s your second Vicodin in an hour.”
“It is?” He feigned a horrified expression.
“House, you know how dangerous a Vicodin addiction could be-”
“I can’t help it if you’re making me feel in pain!” What she could hear in his tone, though, was I can’t help it that you put me in pain.
Lisa bit her lips together, resisting the urge to tell him that it wasn’t her fault, because that was playing his game, and over the years she’d got the hang of not playing his games. She tried to tell herself that it wasn’t only her that he was treating badly; after all, Stacy had walked out for a reason. Wilson was bearing the brunt of House’s abuse, looking constantly pale and tired. Lisa hated what House was doing to them; to all of them. But she hated more what they had all done to him first. If his constant complaints were penance then…
House’s cool little smile told her that he knew exactly what she was thinking, and that he’d won some kind of contest. Lisa resisted the urge to scream.
“I’m not going to feel guilty forever,” she murmured, apropos of nothing, except that the whole conversation had been leading to this.
“Yeah,” House shrugged, “You are. Every wince, every time I stumble, every time you catch sight of the cane, every Vicodin pill, and you’ll be back on that guilt trip. I suggest you pack some snacks. You’re not going to be returning any time soon.”
“No,” Lisa shook her head. “I’ll stop feeling guilty when I remember that you would have died without the surgery. That you wouldn’t have recovered. That surgery meant that you could live.”
“And gee, what a life,” House murmured with every drop of sarcasm he could wring from the words.
“Stop it,” Lisa ordered, looking right at him. “In time, I won’t beat myself up over it and you have to stop beating me up.” It wasn’t my fault, she wanted to wail, but she couldn’t, so she dug her fingernails into her palms instead.
“Do you honestly think you can make the guilt switch off like that?” House asked, looking amused, snapping his fingers. Lisa sighed.
“You know what? Forget it. Go back to whatever you were doing before I called you in here.”
She got to her feet, unconsciously smoothing her skirt, indicating that he could leave. House pulled himself up, pain lancing through his eyes for a second that made her heart stop, before straightening up. He was much taller than her, but even the inches between them didn’t stop his gaze from burning.
Lisa leaned up and pressed her lips to his, firmly and without a trace of tenderness. She could practically taste the words he’d never, never say to her; I will never forgive you for this. Maybe he wouldn’t. It was exactly what she’d expected from him anyway. House had a tendency to cling onto resentment far longer than was healthy. Her mouth opened under his, thighs pressed uncomfortably into the edge of the desk as she leaned forward slightly, eyes fluttering closed. House pulled back.
“See? Guilty conscience. You’d kiss me for no other reason that you feel you owe me one.”
That’s not why I did it, Lisa thought. And I hate that you think I would. But she didn’t tell him, could never tell him, so she just shrugged.
“Forever is a very long time, Cuddy,” House told her, fingers tightening their grip on the head of his cane.
“Have fun milking it then,” she said, only it came out more as a sigh, and House smirked in a satisfied manner as he made his way to the door.