ticcyyy: (Default)
ticcyyy ([personal profile] ticcyyy) wrote2009-03-28 10:05 am

Lead You Into The Night - chapter five & six

Title: Lead You Into The Night
Pairing: House/Cuddy, House/Wilson friendship
Rating: PG-13
Words: 35,000
Author's Notes & Credits: A big, HUGE thank you to my wonderful betas, [livejournal.com profile] ducks_in_a_row and [livejournal.com profile] topaz_eyes! Without the both of you, this story would not have come together anywhere near as smoothly as it has. The title of the fic is derived from the song Lead Me Into The Night by The Cardigans. It was a song I listened to a lot while hammering this story out; it, in some ways, set the tone of the story. The chapter titles are also derived from the song's lyrics. The banner was made by me.

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six

Leaking Like A Sieve But Made It To Land

"Not going to Cuddy's tonight?"

House looked up at Wilson standing in the doorway, startled. He scowled. "What're you still doing here?"

"I was about to ask you the same question."

House glanced at his watch. It was just after 6.30pm. His team had long gone home; the conference room was dark, much like his office, save for the light spilling in from the hallway. He'd lost track of the time, though he was too tired to care. He sat forward at his desk and reached for his Vicodin.

"So, you're brooding in the dark," Wilson continued after a pause. "What's going on?"

"I'm not brooding."

"No, of course not. You're just doing something that strongly resembles it."

He popped the bottle open and tipped two pills out onto his palm. "Just thinking," he said after he swallowed them.


He flashed Wilson an annoyed look. "You leaving."

"Sorry." Wilson gave an unapologetic shrug. "I never leave."

House sighed impatiently, though he didn't have the energy to argue with Wilson. He sat back and dropped a hand to his bad thigh and rubbed it. His leg had been bothering him all day, a persistent throb that refused to relent no matter how much he tried to walk the pain out or how much Vicodin he took.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"Do I look like I want to talk about it?"

"Yes, actually."

"Well, you're wrong."

"Why are you still here, then?"

Out in the corridor, a janitor pushed a cart stocked with cleaning equipment down the hall. The hospital was getting ready to close down for the night, not that hospitals ever really slept. That thought made House think about how tired he was and how little sleep he'd been getting lately. He found it impossible to sleep while Cuddy and Eva continually played on his mind.

He looked away. "Everything's changed."

"And that's why you're still here?"

"This is the only place left that hasn't."

"Hasn't what?"


Wilson paused. "Usually I can decipher your riddles, but you're going to have to help me out on this one."

House didn't say anything for a long few moments. He stared across the room. "You were right."

"About what?"

"Things changing."

He turned his eyes up to Wilson, who was peering back at him thoughtfully. "Contrary to what you think, House, change isn't necessarily a bad thing."

"It is when you don't want things to change."

"House, you were the one who agreed to help Cuddy get pregnant. Nobody forced you to do that. You can't offer to change something and then expect everything to stay the same."

House looked away again.

"Eva means something to you," Wilson realised.

House abruptly stood up. He grabbed his cane and reached down for his bag.

"So now you're going to run away?"

"Told you I don't want to talk about it."

"Running away isn't going to solve anything, House."

"I'm not running away. I'm leaving, seeing as you won't."

"To go where? Home, to brood some more?"

He stepped away from his desk, his coat now tucked under his arm, and started for the door.

"What about Cuddy? She needs you."

Halfway across the room, House reeled around sharply to face Wilson. "Exactly."


"She admitted that she's depressed."

"And that's bad because...?" Wilson blinked, bewildered. "That's half the battle won if a person recognises they're depressed and need help."

"I can't be what she needs. I can't help her."

"House, what have you been doing for the last two and a half months? You've been there for her. She's only been able to reach the point of admitting she's depressed because of you."

He glanced towards the door with a longing to escape - not just from Wilson but everything. The fight he'd had with Cuddy over the baby formula kept running through his mind, as well as the other times when he'd felt out of control, Cuddy turning up unannounced at his apartment, Cuddy crying in her bathroom, watching her almost shake the baby, all the times he'd been at a loss for what to do while Cuddy broke down in tears.

"You can't just walk away from Cuddy now, House. You can't do that."

"No, I can't," he agreed angrily. "This is exactly what I'm talking about. Everything's changed! This isn't the way things were supposed to go. None of this was supposed to matter!"

"And you want to bail because it does?"

House opened his mouth to argue but was too overridden with panic to get the words out. He looked down at the floor with a helpless sigh.

"Running away just because you're scared isn't going to solve anything," Wilson said.

He didn't want to hear any more. He continued towards the door, his stomach in knots and his leg throbbing with a renewed pain that made it feel like it was on fire.

"Where are you going?"


He shoved the door open and stepped out. He'd go home, he'd have a drink or several, he'd push Cuddy and Eva from his mind and hopefully forget about them for a while. But as he crossed the parking lot and reached his car, he began to doubt himself. He got in the car and gazed out the window for a few minutes. What was he going to do when he got home besides drink? Did he honestly think he could forget about Cuddy and Eva, no matter how much he tried?

He started the engine and pulled out into the drive, and when he reached the road he hit the indicator and turned in the direction of Cuddy's place.


The house was quiet when he let himself in. He peeked in the living room and with no sign of Cuddy, he walked down the hall. He checked Eva's room first; she was gurgling and cooing happily to herself while gazing up at the mobile of brightly coloured teddy bears hanging over her crib. Deciding to leave her be for the moment, he continued down the hall to Cuddy's room. He poked his head around the door and saw she was lying on the bed, facing the wall.

"You awake?"

She stirred. She was awake.

He hesitated, a big part of him wanting to back out of the room, out of the house, right out of Cuddy and Eva's lives. But instead, he opened the door wider and stepped in.

"The baby's awake," he said.

"I know."

"It's almost 7.30."

"I know."

He paused. He was quickly running out of things to say. "You eaten?"

"House, go away."

He frowned. "No."

"I mean it."

"So do I."

Cuddy slowly rolled to her back and looked at him. Not for the first time, House was struck by how fragile she appeared. "Why do you keep coming here?"

He froze, caught off-guard by her question.

"Why do you keep coming here, House?" she repeated when he failed to come up with a response.

"Because..." The confrontation he'd had with Wilson was more than enough for one night. He hadn't come here just to find himself confronted with more questions he couldn't -- wouldn't -- answer.

"What do you want from me?" Cuddy asked quietly.

He frowned again. "What kind of dumb question is that?"

"You expect me to believe you don't want something from me? That you're just doing this because you care? I've been nothing but an inconvenience to you. You hate people inconveniencing you, most of all me."

"Why does it matter?"

"Why does it matter?" Cuddy sat up, giving him an incredulous look. "You never wanted anything to do with this baby. You didn't even want anything to do with me. You barely spoke to me for the first few months after I got pregnant. And now you're here, almost every day. Why?"

"What's gotten into you?"

"Why does something have to have gotten into me? Just because I have questions? Questions I have the right to know the answers to?" Cuddy scooted towards the edge of the bed. "Do you think this is a joke? Coming around to my place every day, seeing how much of a mess my life is? Pointing out all my flaws and failures?"

"You're getting irrational."

"Oh, I'm irrational now, am I?" She stood up and House had to steel himself against wanting to step back from her. "And why do you assume I’m irrational? Because I'm depressed? Now I've admitted that I'm depressed, that gives you an excuse to blame how I feel on me being irrational?"

"Well, what else am I supposed to think?" he snapped.

Cuddy glared at him. "So, my feelings are invalid?"

"I never said that."

"You just said I'm irrational. If that's not invalidating how I feel, then I don't know what is."

"How you feel?" he exclaimed, feeling whiplashed at how sudden this was turning into an argument. "What do you mean, 'how you feel'? How you feel about what?"

"About you. About us."

He stared at her. "There is no 'us'."

"Then why do you keep coming here, House?"

"Because things change. Things happened that I didn't count on. You were emotionally neglecting your kid--"

"What the hell would you know about emotional neglect?"

"A lot more than you think."

"How, House? How? You're one of the most emotionally neglectful people I know."

Her words stung him in a way he couldn't explain. He swallowed hard. "Why do you think I hate my dad? You think I hate him because it's fun?"

"What's your dad got to do with it?" A sharp pause filled the room. All the anger on Cuddy's face suddenly drained away. "Oh God, House. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have said--"

"Shut up."

"I didn't mean--"

"Sure you didn't."


He turned away to storm out of the room but not without wanting to deliver a parting shot. He faced back to her. "If you want your kid to grow up hating you, emotionally neglecting it the way you are is the best way to go about it. You telling your kid you hate her? She'll turn that right back on you one day."

She gasped.

"You want your kid to hate you?"

Her face had fallen into a expression of utter devastation. She shook her head. "Of course I don't."

He turned to leave but again changed his mind. "Who else is here for you, Cuddy? Friends? Family? I don't see either of those around you anywhere. Because you have no real friends. And you're too proud to tell your family how much of a failure you think you are. But I'm here. And that means nothing to you."

"That's not true," she said in a small voice.

"Then why are you doubting me?"

"Because you're you."

"What happened to trusting me?"

Cuddy opened her mouth and formed a few silent vowels before she covered her face with her hands. "God, I don't know. I don't know." She let out a hitched breath. "I feel so confused. I feel like I don't know myself anymore. I feel like... I don't know what I feel anymore."

All the anger House felt began to slowly ebb away. Hearing Cuddy speak reminded him that this wasn't her fault. He staved off the desire to flee and took a hesitant step back towards her.

She wiped her eyes and raked her hair back. "I'm sorry."

"Stop that."

"I am."

"I don't care."

She crossed her arms over her middle and glanced up at him with a guilty expression. In the nursery, the baby was beginning to whine. House held Cuddy's gaze and he fought back an urge to reach out to her. "I better get Eva," she finally said. She took a step forward, then stopped. "Are you going to leave?"

He thought about her question for a moment. "I can stay if you want me to."

She nodded. She tightened her arms around her middle. "I'm sorry," she said again, softly.

He knew this time she wasn't apologising for her tears but for the fight they'd just had. He gave a small, remorseful nod in reply.


"Come on, kiddo," House said, lifting Eva out of the crib. "Mom's asleep. So we have to be really quiet."

A week had passed, a long, tense week that House was glad to see the end of when the weekend arrived. He was exhausted. His leg ached with a persistence that Vicodin only barely touched; his nights were spent sleeping restlessly while things churned over and over in his head.

The baby gurgled happily at him as he transferred her to the changing table. He stripped her diaper off and frowned at the red diaper rash forming on her bottom and around her groin. After he cleaned her, he smeared some zinc cream on the rash and fitted her with a fresh diaper. He'd performed the task of changing her so often now that he didn't really think about the mechanics of it. He picked her back up, flipped the light off and headed out to the kitchen.

"What time is it, Mr. Wolf?" he announced to Eva as he reached for the kettle. She stared at him, wide-eyed with interest. Her neck muscles were still a little weak, making her head bobble. He answered his own question, "It's dinner time!"

The animated tone of his voice made Eva break out into a big, gummy smile and House couldn't help smiling back at her. He saw movement in the doorway and turned to see Cuddy standing there, sleepy-eyed and messy-haired, a pillow line down the side of her face.

"I'll feed her," she said in a groggy voice.

"You sure?"

Cuddy nodded, yawning. He handed Eva over to her, turned the kettle off and went out to the living room. The baby sucked away noisily at her breast while he sat on the couch and surfed through the TV channels.

"Do you think I need to go on medication?"

House looked across at Cuddy in surprise. Time and time again, he'd debated with himself whether or not to broach the subject of medication with Cuddy. Each time he almost did, he changed his mind, dreading the potential argument that would possibly follow. He hadn't expected Cuddy would ever broach the subject herself.

"I don't think it would hurt."

She nodded and looked down at Eva. "I think I need to go on medication."

Relief flooded through him. "Okay. I can write you a scrip."

"What do you think I need?"

He'd already thought about the different medicinal options Cuddy had, ever since he'd spoken to Wilson about suspecting she had postpartum depression. "I could start you on sertraline. Fewer side effects, won't affect the baby through breast feeding. Give it a few weeks to see if it has any effect. And if it doesn't, we'll try something else."

She nodded again. "Okay," she replied quietly.

He studied her while she disengaged the baby from her breast, turning her around to let her feed from the other side. "What made you decide you need meds?"

"I'm sick of feeling like I'm struggling to breathe underwater." She looked back up at him. "I want to enjoy my baby. If anything, she deserves that."

"You deserve it, too, Cuddy."

She flashed him a small, grateful smile.

Eva decided she had enough and Cuddy sat her up to burp her. House snorted when she let out a loud belch. "Nice meal?"

The baby turned her head in the direction of his voice and made a content cooing sound, milk dribbling down the corners of her mouth.

"Thought so."

Cuddy wiped her mouth with the cloth diaper she had draped over her shoulder. She tucked her sweater back over her breasts and got up to put Eva down on the play mat.

"Get down on the floor and play with her," House said as Cuddy resumed her seat.

She shook her head. "I'm too tired."

"Playing with a baby doesn't take any energy. All you have to do is sit there and pull faces or make noises."

She shook her head again, curling up on the armchair.

House studied her with a mildly frustrated sigh. He glanced at the baby, then dropped his feet from where they were propped on the coffee table. "Come on," he said, holding a hand out to Cuddy when he was in front of her.

"You play with her. You're better at it than me."

"That's bullcrap. Anybody can play with a baby."


"You want to bond with her or not?"

"Some other time. Right now..."

"I'm getting sick of your excuses."

"It's not an excuse. I just don't feel like it."

"You never feel like it."

"I'm tired."

"Don't care." He grabbed her wrist and yanked her up.


"Come on. Doesn't have to be for very long."

"I just said I'm too tired."

"So? That's what you signed up for. Complaining about it won't make it go away."

He led her over to the baby. Letting her go, he sat with a grunt beside Eva and stretched out on his side. She was half turned towards him, a toy clasped between her hands while she chewed on it.

"Lie down on the other side," he ordered Cuddy. With a heavy sigh, she reluctantly sat and drew her knees up to her chest. House gave her a look. "That's a very un-fun position to sit in."

"I'm not in the mood to be fun."

House rolled his eyes and looked down at Eva. "You hear that? Mommy's being a party pooper."

He reached for a bright yellow giraffe lying on the play mat and held it over the baby. Her eyes suddenly widened as though dazzled by the colour and she smiled up at it. House lowered the giraffe and tapped the end of Eva's nose. She jerked in mild fright and then shrieked in delight.

"So, what'll we call him?" he asked Eva. He turned the giraffe towards him and studied its face. "How about... hmm. What do you think?" He tapped the giraffe on her nose again and she let out another excited shriek. "That's an interesting name." He turned the giraffe back to him. "Hello... What did you say his name was again?" He bumped the giraffe on Eva's nose once more. Her legs and arms flailed enthusiastically. He heard a snort from Cuddy. He glanced up at her and saw she was smiling slightly.

He motioned impatiently for Cuddy to come closer. "Get over here."

"You're having fun on your own. You don't need me."

"Just get over here." He set the giraffe down and reached for another toy, the bright pink elephant that rattled when shaken. "Here, take this."

Cuddy reluctantly scooted closer and took the elephant and sat cross-legged next to Eva.

House picked the giraffe back up. "Who's that?" he asked Eva, pointing to Cuddy with the toy. The baby kicked her legs in the air. "That's right. It's Mommy. She's the person with the udders on her chest."


"Well, it's true. Talk to your kid."

"I don't know what to say to her."

"Make noises at her. Make faces, even. The only unconditional being in this world besides a pet is a baby because they've got no concept of hating you. Make the most of it while it lasts."

She gave him a look equal parts annoyed and guilty. Eva gurgled and as her fist came in contact with her mouth, she started sucking on it. "Don't tell me you're hungry again," Cuddy sighed.

"She's a growing kid," House replied. "Kids are facultative parasites. They can complete their life cycle independent of a host."

"She's not a parasite." Cuddy turned to Eva. "Don't listen to him. He's just a big meanie who likes nothing more than pick on other people."

"All part of the fun."

"For you, maybe."

"Well, who else matters but me? No one."

Cuddy rolled her eyes. She turned her gaze down to the baby, a blank look on her face as though she didn't know what to do with herself. She lifted the pink elephant and the baby's eyes widened again at the shock of colour. Cuddy shook the elephant, then drew it forward and beeped it against Eva's nose. The baby broke out into a big smile and made an excited noise. Cuddy did it again and again. House watched the whole time, observing the small smile slowly creeping onto Cuddy's face.

"You're beautiful," she said softly to Eva. She touched the elephant to her nose again. She set the elephant on Eva's chest so the baby could gaze up at it, which she did, her eyes wide with concentration. Cuddy lifted a hand to Eva's head and stroked it gently. She then pressed her pinkie into the baby's palm and the baby's little fingers grasped reflexively around it. Cuddy smiled again.

"You're a good mom, Cuddy," House said.

Cuddy looked up at him. He couldn't tell if her smile was sad or guilty. "No, I'm not."

"You have a happy baby. Be proud."

"I'm probably just going to screw her up."

"Of course you're going to screw her up. You're her mother."

"Thanks," she said dryly.

"Better to be screwed up by a good parent than be screwed up by a bad one. Trust me. I know."

"Is that why you agreed to help me get pregnant?"

"No. That was just a ploy to get you into bed."

She gave him a look. "House."

He shrugged a shoulder. "It doesn't matter why I agreed."

"It matters to me."

He shook the giraffe at Eva, who cooed at it. "Every kid has a right to know who their parents are. Nothing worse than being lied to."

"I wouldn't have lied to her if I'd gone with a donor."

"You did go with a donor. Just one you know instead of some faceless sperm in a cup."

"Does that mean you want Eva to know you're her father?"

House looked up at Cuddy. He didn't know how to answer her. "Play with your kid," he replied, handing the giraffe across to her. "Before she gets too tired and cranky."

"That's not an answer."

"Is this the part where I plead the Fifth?"

"You always plead the Fifth."

He swiped the pink elephant from Cuddy to continue playing with Eva. "In that case, I plead the Fifth."


"This is the starting dose," House said as he opened the package of Zoloft. "Give you fifty milligrams now, keep you on fifty for the week. If you start showing signs of improvement--"

"I know how these things work, House. I'm not an idiot."

"Just making conversation." He watched Cuddy's face as he popped a pill onto her palm. She stared down at it with an expression he couldn't quite decipher: resignation or possibly despair.

He'd wasted no time in getting the medication. The first thing he'd done when he got to work that morning was head straight to the pharmacy. It had been on his mind all day from that point on. He didn't know what he was going to arrive home to that afternoon, whether Cuddy would be glad to receive the medication or whether she'd have a change of heart. Or possibly indescribable, like she looked right now.

And then he'd wondered when on earth he'd started thinking of Cuddy's place as 'home'. That had ended up playing on his mind just as much for the rest of the day.

He reached down to his bad leg and tried to rub away a sudden stab of pain. Along with the thoughts constantly running in his mind, so had his leg been hurting. It made his whole body tense; it radiated through him in knots, right up to his shoulders where he felt the tension the most.

"I'll just go and get a glass of water," Cuddy said quietly. She stepped back, clutching the pill in her hand, and House watched her head out of the living room.

He sank to the armchair with a heavy sigh. Eva was asleep, the place was quiet albeit cluttered with mess, and House was positive this was the first moment during the day he'd managed to just be. Elbows resting on his knees, he ran his hands over his face and into his hair. It was one thing to treat someone with depression. It was another thing entirely to practically live with someone who had it.

The sound of glass smashing on in the kitchen startled him. He sat straighter. "Cuddy?" he called.

He listened for her reply and when nothing came, he got up to investigate. When he reached the kitchen, he was met with the sight of Cuddy standing in the middle of it, glass shattered around her bare feet and her hands pressed to her mouth.

"Everything okay?" he asked, noticing the distressed look on her face.

She frantically shook her head.

"What's wrong?"

"I dropped the glass," she whispered from behind her hands.

"Okay," he replied slowly. "No biggie. Just clean it up."

She shook her head again.

"Why not?"

"I'm such a failure."


"I'm a failure. I'm a..."

He frowned in bewilderment. "It's just a glass, Cuddy."


He paused, uncertain. "Yes. It is."

"No. It's not. It's not. I'm a failure. I'm a bad mother. I can't do anything right."

"Because you dropped a glass on the floor?"

She covered her face with her hands.

"It's just a glass, Cuddy. So what?"

"No. It's everything. Everything. I can't... I'm a failure as a mother. I hate myself. I hate how unhappy I feel. I'm a failure." She let out a sob. "I couldn't even give birth properly."

House stared at her. How had she surmised all of that from dropping a single glass on the floor? "Don't be ridiculous."

"I can't help it. I can't."

"It's just a damn glass," he repeated firmly. "Get over it!"

She looked up at him, eyes red and face contorted in anguish. "It's got nothing to do with the glass, you asshole!" she shouted. "Don't you get it? Don't you get how I feel? I'm a failure. I've failed my child. I've failed myself. I've had to go on fucking antidepressants--"

"For God's sake, Cuddy--"

"I'm a failure."

"Stop saying that."

"I hate myself."

"Shut up, Cuddy. Where's the pill I gave you?"

"I don't--"

"Where is it?"

"On the floor somewhere. I dropped it. I don't know."

House watched with a feeling of complete helplessness and frustration as Cuddy crumpled into tears. He started into the kitchen towards her, his shoes crunching over the glass. He slapped his cane down on the counter and then grabbed Cuddy's arms.

"Come on," he ordered. "Stop it."

"I can't."

"Yes, you can. You're not a failure. You're depressed. You're not a bad mother. You're none of those things."

"Yes, I am."

"No, you're not, Cuddy. You're not." He shook her, and shook her again even harder, until she looked up at him. "Who cares how you gave birth? You have a healthy kid."

"I can't even look after her properly."

"Of course you can."

"No," she shouted. "I can't. I have to rely on you to help me."

"So what?"

"This isn't the way it's supposed to be."

"Nothing ever is," he snapped. "Life is never how we want it to be. You can't control everything."

"I wanted so badly to be a good mother--"

"Stop that bullshit. You are a good mother. You're a great mother."


"Just shut up."

"Please," she begged, grabbing onto his arms.

"Cuddy, shut up. Get a grip on yourself."

"I can't. I can't. I--"

"You have to. You can't just give up."

"I know that. I know. But--"

"There's no 'buts', Cuddy! Your kid needs you. Our kid needs you."

Cuddy stared at him and he stared right back at her. He realised in the silence that followed, that his heart was hammering and his throat was tight with an ugly emotion that was threatening to spill over.

She sagged against him and pressed her face to his chest. She gripped onto him tight enough that he staggered back slightly against her weight and he grabbed hold of her to steady himself. He went to shove her back but as she let out another sob, he couldn't bring himself to do it. He wrapped his arms around her instead. He held her stiffly at first, darting his eyes around the kitchen frantically while wracking his brain for some clue as to what to do or what to say. Cuddy's sobs turned close to uncontrollable and House was left with no choice but to hold her.

"Come on," he urged. "Stop it. Come on, Cuddy." He squeezed his arms around her and pressed his cheek to hers. He closed his eyes and clamped down on the feelings building up inside him. He focused on holding Cuddy tight and eventually she began to calm down, until she was leaning heavily against him, still and quiet.

"Forget the pill on the floor. I'll get you another one," he said as he began to pull back.

Cuddy gripped him tighter, her hands fisted into his shirt. "Stay with me."

"I'm not going anywhere. Just going to the living room."

"Please. Just stay with me."


He looked down at her, her face raw and weary. His leg throbbed. His chest was tight with an ache that he knew would explode into something uncontrollable if he let it go. He drew in a deep, shaky breath and let it out slowly before he brought Cuddy back against him. She slipped her arms around his waist, her cheek pressed to his chest, and he settled his chin on the crown of her head.

He wasn't sure how long he held her for but by the time she pulled away, Eva had woken up and started to cry.


"You know what I think?" House said to Eva. He lay beside her on the floor, his head propped up on his hand. "I think I'm ready to go to sleep. You ready to go to sleep yet?"

Eva batted at the toy zebra dangling over her with a closed fist and made a happy babbling sound.

"Thought not." He closed his eyes and yawned. Cuddy had long since retired to bed. After helping her clean up the broken glass in the kitchen, he'd given her another pill and watched her swallow it. Within half an hour, she'd complained of feeling woozy and nauseous, a common side effect during the first week or so of taking SSRIs, and left Eva with him once she finished feeding. And now, he himself was on the brink of collapsing with tiredness.

He opened his eyes again when he heard Eva squeal and watched her batting more at the toy. Each day, she was developing; her head control was improving, her arm-leg coordination was strengthening, she could roll onto her front and was beginning to learn how to hold her head and chest up like she was doing mini push-ups. She smiled and she made noises that resembled a laugh. Most of all, she was beginning to recognise familiar faces and voices. His was one of the most familiar faces to her, and the way she always responded to him was unlike anything he'd ever known.

She kicked her legs hard enough to cause herself to roll onto her side, her hand now stuffed in her mouth. She sucked on it contentedly. House reached for her. He shifted onto his back as he drew Eva up onto his chest, laying her on her stomach. She stared down at him, wide-eyed at the new perspective of the world.

"I look different from up there, huh?" he asked her, amused by the expression on her face. He puffed his cheeks out and blew a raspberry, which made her smile. He did it again and Eva squealed in delight. She kicked her legs and tried pushing herself up with her arms.

"You're going to do push-ups on me?" he asked her. "Let's see how many you can do. One... two... two and a half--"

He flinched as a sudden string of milky vomit oozed from her mouth and onto his shirt. The vomit did little to curb her enthusiasm; she kept wriggling energetically. "Now look what you've done." He craned his head up to look at the mess. It wasn't much -- just a small dollop. "My favourite shirt, too."

Eva continued to wriggle while he reached across for the cloth diaper near the play mat. Just as he was wiping her mouth, he caught sight of Cuddy standing in the doorway.

He was instantly self-conscious; as tired as he was, he was enjoying his time alone with Eva but he wasn't used to letting anyone see what an effect she had on him. "You're up," he said to Cuddy, quickly sitting up with Eva now perched on his lap.

"Only to get a glass of water." Cuddy wiped a hand over her weary face. "I feel like crap. I knew antidepressants had side effects but I had no idea just how revolting they can make you feel."

"Everything gets worse before it gets better."

"Great," she sighed. "Want me to put Eva to bed?"

"I can do it."

She stepped into the room. "I'll do it." She added to Eva once she reached his side, her arms outstretched, "Come here. Mommy'll put you to bed."

House handed the baby over to her and resumed wiping the vomit off his shirt. He stood once he was done and stretched his back before moving out to the hallway to fetch his coat. It was past 11pm and he knew if he didn't start making tracks now, he'd be too tired to drive.

"Going home?" Cuddy asked when she came back into the hall.

He wrapped his scarf around his neck. "Yeah. Tired."

She nodded as she folded her arms across her chest. "Are you okay?" she added after a pause.

He picked his bag up. "I'm peachy."


He gestured towards her bedroom. "Go back to bed."

As he turned towards the door, Cuddy said, "Did you really mean what you said?"

He looked back at her. "About what?"

"About Eva?"

He turned back to the door. "Get some sleep," he replied dismissively. "I'll see you tomorrow."


He stopped again and faced Cuddy once more.

"Stay with me? Just for tonight?"

He frowned in surprise. "What for?"

"I don't want to be alone."

He studied her for a moment. "Things don't need to be any more complicated than they already are."

"I'm not interested in complicated. I just don't want to be by myself."

House looked at the door again, debating what to do. Leaving would be for the best. For whom, he wasn't sure. For himself. Probably for Cuddy, too. But even if he went home, he wouldn't really be escaping anything. He knew he'd end up lying in bed, wide awake in spite of fatigue, while his mind continued to race at a hundred miles an hour.

He set his bag back on the floor and shrugged out of his coat again. He walked towards the living room; he'd sleep on the couch. But he was stopped by Cuddy taking his hand. He was confused as to what she wanted until she began tentatively tugging him to follow her down the hall. He lingered by the door as Cuddy let him go and moved across to the bed. She climbed under the covers.

"Come here," she said quietly, patting the empty side of the mattress.

He ran his fingers over his chin uncertainly. He was slow to strip out of his shirt and jeans, wondering to himself the whole time if this was the right thing to do. He felt like he was revisiting everything between Cuddy and himself that he'd run away from as he joined her beneath the sheets.

Cuddy turned the lamp off and he listened to the sound of her breathing as he gazed up at the ceiling. The moonlight shining in from the window threw shadows across the room in bent angles. He turned his head to look at Cuddy through the darkness and found she was looking right back at him.

"Thank you for staying," she said softly.

"I wish you'd stop saying that."

"I mean it."

"I don't care."

He stiffened as she reached for him. She touched the side of his face with a gentleness he hadn't felt in a long time, feeling her fingers running through his hair and down over his jaw.

"Thought you didn't want complicated," he murmured.

"I don't."

"Then what are you doing?"

"Does it matter?"

"It does if you don't want complicated."

"Aren't things complicated enough as they already are?"

He didn't answer. He didn't need to. Cuddy was right -- things were more complicated than ever now. More complicated than sex without commitment. Much more complicated than a simple sperm donation.

Cuddy shifted close, her body warm and real against his. He reached a hand under the covers and settled it on her leg. She leaned in and House closed his eyes as her lips pressed against his in a soft kiss. The kiss lingered with a familiar tenderness that reminded him why he'd pushed her away all those months ago.

"Good night, House," she whispered when she pulled back.

He swallowed as she ran her hand over his cheek again before she moved back to her side of the bed. "Good night, Cuddy."


Walk With Me Into The Night

Cuddy was still asleep when House awoke. The sun shone bright through the window and birds chirruped outside in the trees. He didn't feel rested; his sleep had been interrupted with restless dreams, leg pain and the constant awareness that Cuddy was by his side. She'd gotten up in the middle of the night and he'd listened to her shushing Eva as the baby cried. When she'd returned to the bed, he'd turned towards her and rubbed his aching leg while she sank back to sleep. For hours, he'd had a longing to touch her. He'd held back from wanting to shift in close and spoon up behind her.

Now that he was awake, the reality of being in her bed hit him. Nothing had happened, nothing beyond the small kiss they'd exchanged, but that had been more than enough. He needed time to think. Or maybe not to think.

He sat up and quietly got out of bed, a shiver running through his body as his feet hit the cold floor. He dressed and headed out of the room. After he pulled his coat on and picked up his bag, he stepped to the front door, but stopped just before he opened it. He looked back down the hall. Slowly, he turned and walked to Eva's room.

He approached her crib. She was asleep on her back, her arms sprawled up on either side of her head. She was making quiet sucking sounds, her pursed lips working in the motion of feeding from Cuddy's breast. He studied the slope of her nose, the tufts of hair spiking up on her head, her long eyelashes and her small double chin. Her face was still too immature to determine who she was going to take after. The only thing that was distinguishable was her eyes -- she had his eyes.

He reached into the crib and pulled the blanket up over her. She jerked her arm and turned her head and for a moment he thought she was going to wake up. The little snore she gave told him otherwise. He smiled faintly. Of all the complicated ways that everything had changed, Eva made things most complicated of all. He wanted to resent her for it, just like he wanted to resent Cuddy. He hated change. But he couldn't hate Eva. He couldn't even bring himself to resent her for the way she'd turned his life upside down. He stroked her cheek with his knuckles and gently caressed her head before he stepped back and left the room.

He stopped by the living room to scrawl a note and left it on the coffee table for Cuddy to read when she got up. He buttoned up his coat, shifted his bag onto his shoulder, and slipped out the door into the frosty spring morning.


Still want me to sign that affidavit?