DISCLAIMER: I do not own House, MD. Nor do I make any money off of any of this.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is part two in a three part series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Coco


Cuddy laid in her bed that night, wrapped tightly in her comforter as an early spring snowstorm banged against the window, the wind rattling through the trees.

But Cuddy had slept through storms before, she was a remarkably deep sleeper, but her painfully unorthodox love life had her tossing that night. She'd lay on her side, facing the wall, imagining Stacy sliding into bed with her and wrapping her arms around her waist, squeezing gently, warming her with the heat of her body.

Cuddy closed her eyes and parted her lips, running her hands down her stomach, slipping into her panties. Stacy's teeth descended on her neck and she sunk her teeth playfully into the skin. Cuddy moaned softly, arching against Stacy's touch as her long slender fingers sought out her clit.

Cuddy gasped as she found it, rocking her hips against the touch, clutching her hands against her crotch as they worked quickly. Stacy's breathing deep in concentration, nibbling, licking and sucking at her neck as Cuddy bucked and moaned, arching and stretching until she cried out with her release.

As Cuddy's breathing evened out and she turned around to look into Stacy's eyes, cup her cheeks and kiss her like she meant it, she realized she was alone. She was alone and falling in love.

Falling in love with her married female best friend.

"Have you seen Lisa?" Stacy stopped Wilson in the hall the next day.

"She called in sick." He said with a little shrug, "I'm really not surprised she's staying home today. She's probably sick with embarrassment. The whole hospital did not need to hear that. I'm going to bring her paperwork to her later."

"Let me?"


"Let me bring the paperwork to her?" She asked again, he looked skeptical, "she's on my way anyway and you're on the other side of town."

He still didn't look wholly convinced that sending Stacy to Cuddy's house with the paperwork would ease her embarrassment any.

"I need to talk to her." Stacy said unrelentingly, and added, "I'm going to stop by her place tonight anyway whether I have the paperwork or not. No sense in you making the trip if I'm going anyway."

He sighed against her logic. "Ok, I'll drop it off in your office before I leave for the day."

She smiled, "thanks Jimmy."

He nodded, "want to do lunch today?"

"Greg's not joining us, is he?"

"He's too distracted by wreaking havoc in Cuddy's absence to bother with lunch," he laughed and so did she. "So how 'bout it?"

"Sounds good,"

House's motorcycle skidded to a halt in front of Cuddy's house, going up on the sidewalk, skimming the grass at the very edge. Cuddy hadn't hired a new landscaper since Alfredo fell off her roof almost a year prior, out of guilt on the off-chance she'd ruin another man's livelihood somehow.

The yard didn't look bad, the grass was mowed by one of the neighborhood boys who had offered to mow her lawn and trim her hedges for a few dollars. She'd given him 20 and his face lit up. He worked hard for nearly an entire afternoon and when the ice cream truck rumbled down the road she bought him an ice cream.

That October for the first time since she'd lived there the children stopped at her house for Halloween.

He walked up the walkway past the tiny leaves of the gladiola bulbs she planted at the beginning of the spring, cold amidst the snow from the night before. It was already melting but the bulbs probably wouldn't flower this year.

House knocked as softly as he could manage on the door, knocking the fake rock over with his cane and picking up the spare key he let himself in.

There was a wine bottle on the coffee table in the living room. He lifted it and concluded that it felt as if half the bottle was left. Cuddy moved in the kitchen and House froze for a moment.

He set his foot down softly, his cane landing very deliberately next to his right foot. One foot after the other, followed by cane, he crept very quietly down the hall. He stood in the doorway to the kitchen, hovering there, waiting for her to notice him.

She turned around and screamed in surprise. "House! What the hell?"

"You aren't at work. You know my day isn't complete without harassing you."

"You mean making my life a living hell?"

"Oh no, you do that to yourself."

She almost laughed. She sighed defeatedly, "would you like a cup of coffee?"

"I think a glass of that cabernet in the living room is calling my name." He hinted.

"You shouldn't mix alcohol and vicodin," she said as she handed him a wine glass and gestured for him to precede her down the hall. Her warnings falling on deaf ears, though she wasn't really worried.

They settled onto the couch in the living room. Cuddy tucked her legs up underneath her and despite Cuddy's withering look he put his feet up on the coffee table and lounged back against the couch.

"So you're having lesbian fantasies about Stacy. I want to hear some of these."

She sighed heavily and rolled her eyes in agitation. "I'm not talking about that with you." She spat.

"Oh come on, I've slept with you and I've slept with Stacy… transitive property, you've slept with her too."

"I have slept with her." She snapped defensively before she had a chance to censor herself.

House watched her in astonishment, "really?"

She nodded once, sipping her wine resignedly.

"Before you had the fantasies?" She shook her head. "After-?" She nodded. "You did it in the hospital!"

"Don't tell anyone." It was a plea rather than an order and House sighed and reluctantly agreed that he wouldn't tell anyone, but he did however, reserve the right to tease her at awkward moments. She supposed she had to agree to his condition and also agreed.

She made angel hair pasta for lunch and despite his grumblings he ate a little over half of the pasta and spared her further annoyance by going home. She'd graciously consented to him taking the day off. (Secretly she was very much afraid that he'd run back and tell Wilson or harass Stacy if she'd made him go back to the hospital.)

Stacy got to Cuddy's house a little after 8. The lights were on in the livingroom and the stereo was playing something smooth and uptempo. She knocked on the door and peeked through the front window but couldn't see Cuddy.

She tried the knob. It was still unlocked from House earlier that day and she stepped inside. "Lisa?" She called.

Cuddy came into the room from the kitchen, a cup of coffee steaming in her hand. She smiled and set down the cup. Stacy smiled back, "hi."

Cuddy came up to Stacy and cupped her cheeks, pushing her back against the wall. Stacy's hands came up to grip Cuddy's gently, leaning her lips towards Cuddy's as Cuddy's descended on hers in a crushing kiss.

Cuddy pushed her knee between Stacy's legs and leaned into her, eliciting a soft moan. Stacy pushed back, gasping into the kiss as Cuddy's knee pressed against her clit through two layers of clothing.

Cuddy broke the kiss wordlessly, her hands moving to the hem of Stacy's shirt.

Stacy started coming to her senses and caught Cuddy's wrists, "Lisa we need to talk."

"You can't object, this is my dream." Cuddy protested with a little pout.

"Lisa, you aren't dreaming." Stacy said definitively, lifting her hands to touch her cheeks again.

"Oh." Cuddy said sheepishly, "I thought you felt pretty real." She let go of Stacy and backed up, blushing deeply. "I'm sorry…"

Stacy shook her head, suddenly feeling breathless.

"What brings you by?" Cuddy asked, putting more distance and the coffee table between them.

Stacy watched her sit down on the couch and cross her legs, her strong muscular runner's legs. Cuddy was her high school's resident track star and she placed very high on her college track team, though she only ran for two semesters.

Stacy's eyes ran from the perfectly curved arches of Cuddy's feet up to the hem of her skirt, which had slid up mid-thigh when she sat down. Cuddy watched her expectantly.

Stacy held up the paperwork wordlessly, unable to speak.

Cuddy's face fell, "oh." She tried to hide the disappointment in her voice. What did you expect, Lisa? For her to show up on your doorstep and ask you to run away with her? Pfft. Yeah right… "Is that all?"

"Um… no." She shook her head, "no, it isn't." She took a few steps forward, her back throbbed a little from where it had pressed against the woodwork. She laid the folders down on the coffee table.

Cuddy's eyes never left Stacy and she suddenly felt very self-conscious. "We need to talk."

"You mentioned."

"Yeah," Stacy didn't want to look Cuddy in the eyes but she forced herself to meet her gaze. "We can't do this." The words left a bad taste in her mouth and she immediately wanted to take the words back. Tell Cuddy she was just kidding and tell her that she wanted to stay with her forever.

Cuddy bit the inside of her lip and looked up at Stacy with cold dry eyes. Cuddy's stoicism belied her ache. Cuddy's hand subconsciously moved to her heart.

Stacy wished Cuddy would stop looking at her.

Cuddy nodded. "You're right." She said her voice cracking at the end of the sentence. There was an awkward pause. "You should probably go."

"Would you like to get lunch tomorrow?"

"Fuck you, Stacy." Cuddy rolled her eyes. "You can't just pretend like everything's ok."

"We can't… act like this didn't happen?"

"No." She looked away annoyedly.

"I don't want to lose you as a friend, Lisa!"

"You should have thought about that! You can't fuck with me like that, Stacy."

"You were pretty eager to fuck-"

"I'm not talking about sex! Not just about sex, anyway." She stood up, feeling her body tense, completely on the defense, "it's about how I was confused! I was having a sexual identity crisis, I'm still in the middle of my sexual identity crisis! And you took advantage of me!"

"You didn't do anything you didn't want to do!"

"I mean you took advantage of the fact that I was so eager, jesus, you shouldn't have let me. You should have had the decency to realize that you're an adulterating whore before we had sex."

Stacy stared at her dumbly. "Lisa… I can't… I can't believe you just said that!"

"If the shoe fits…"

"I can't stand your holier than thou attitude." Stacy sneered.

"Hey, at least I'm not so weak that I cheat on my husband whenever someone so much as smiles at me."

"You did a lot more than smile at me and at least I'm not so much of a prude and so unaware that I didn't realize I was gay for 30 years."

"I'm not gay! I'm having feelings for you, not whatever woman chances across my path." Cuddy shook her head, "you should really just leave. I'll see you at work tomorrow." Cuddy opened the door for her and cast her eyes away from Stacy.

Stacy sighed a little, "Lisa…" her voice and eyes softened and she took a step towards Cuddy. She sighed again when Cuddy looked further away, clearly ignoring her word of protest.

She ducked her head, almost submissively, conceding to Cuddy's command and left the house.

Cuddy shut the door behind her and closed her eyes, feeling them well up with tears and felt the hot salty droplets stream down her cheeks.

Stacy got to her car, finding herself vexed by a similar affliction of tears. She wiped at her eyes, distractedly missing the key slot a few times before she managed to open the door. She sat in her car for a few long moments before getting back out and running up the stairs to Cuddy's house.

She burst in the front door. "Lisa?"

Cuddy looked over at her in surprise, wiping at her tears embarrassedly, opening her mouth to say something.

Stacy cupped her cheeks and pressed her lips to Cuddy's, effectively silencing her.

They broke apart a few moments later and Cuddy searched her eyes for an explanation.

"For the record, maybe I was taking advantage of your eagerness. But it was because many times I have often wondered what it would be like to hold you and touch you and kiss you and, yes, when the opportunity came up I was very eager to take you up on it. I am sorry if that was selfish and unfair of me, but I really like you, Lisa. I like you more than just a friend. I've liked you for a very long time, even before Greg and I were together. Do you remember that first time we met?"

Cuddy paused to remember, but eventually shook her head no.

"It was at a benefit for cancer research and I was there with a friend of mine in research and you were there with Jimmy. I'll never forget it," she smiled, "you smiled and said hello and I got you a glass of champagne and spent the rest of the night wishing I had the balls to ask you to dance."

Cuddy blushed shyly.

"You were stunning, Lisa, and you're even moreso now." She searched her eyes. "And if you'll still have me I'd like to see where this could go,"

"If I'd still…" she said breathlessly, "oh Stacy…" she closed her eyes leaning up and kissing her, running her fingers through her hair. "I'd like nothing more," she whispered against her lips.

That night Cuddy fell asleep wrapped in Stacy's arms, warmed generously by her body heat and awoke the next morning alone again.

And that's the way it was almost every night that week.

At work they ate lunch together like they always had but they always ate where other people could see them and were never alone too long lest people start talking again. But according to Wilson the nurses, interns and nosey doctors had all but forgotten about Cuddy's angry and lustful outburst and had moved onto bigger and better things. (Nurse Nancy left with Dr. Garber four times last week!)

But perhaps the best part was that House didn't seem overly suspicious.

"So how's the lesbian fantasy thing going?" House asked annoyingly, with a huge grin plastered on his face.

Cuddy rolled her eyes, "leave me alone, House."

"Hey, hey, don't get upset with me. I've been dumped by Stacy, too. I'm on your side."

She rolled her eyes again, "House, drop it."

"If it makes you feel any better you're still having sex with her in my dreams."

"House!" She cried, "shut-up!"

The staff bustling about halted for a moment at the outburst, but seeing it was just Cuddy yelling at House it was assessed to be business as normal and they carried on.

"Fine, fine. I was just being supportive, but whatever." He mumbled with mock hurt. "I guess I'll go now…"

Cuddy watched him expectantly. He rolled his eyes a little and turned to leave, almost running into Stacy on the way. "Tease!" He spat accusingly at her as he left.

She watched him with surprise for a moment. "Ok…"


"Yeah, he's Greg, I know." She smiled a little.

"What can I do for you, Stacy?" Cuddy smiled.

"A case I'm working on. I came to give you the files."

"A case- you weren't assigned a case." Cuddy watched her with curiousity.

Stacy slid the file across Cuddy's desk and Cuddy looked down at it. She smiled up at her, "thank you, Stacy."

"You're welcome." Stacy tried not to grin. "Oh, and I was wondering if I could leave a little early tonight."

She nodded, "of course. Special plans?"

"I'm hoping so."

"Enjoy it." Cuddy bit the inside of her lip.

"Thank you." Stacy turned and left the office.

Cuddy tucked the piece of paper into her pocket and put the empty manilla folder into her middle desk drawer.

Stacy gathered her things together and left the hospital. Cuddy tried to concentrate on her work but she found herself looking at the clock every few minutes. She put her pen to her paperwork, trying to work but just found herself chewing on the end of her pen and staring off into space.

When 6 finally rolled around… alright, 5:47 but that was close enough, right? …she was ready to dart out the door. She was ready to grab her coat and run.

"So I was thinking..." House said, strolling into the office.

Cuddy whimpered. "Hold that thought until Monday!"

House was taken aback. She… she was leaving? On time? She was anxious? "Whoa. Hold up. Where are you going?"

"My…my… my father's not doing well and the whole family's going to Connecticut to see him." It was a bold faced lie. She knew it. She knew he would find out soon enough. But she planned to be out of his radar by the time he hacked into the US Airways passenger log.

She also knew that House would let her go. Just in case she was telling the truth. He wasn't cruel enough to make her miss seeing her sick father. He wasn't that sure she was lying.

But he was still pretty sure.

He shrugged a little, almost defeatedly and she grabbed her coat and hurried out of the office, throwing a "lock up!" over her shoulder.

She had too much bounce in her step, he thought. He was going to get to the bottom of this, damnit.

"House!" Wilson jumped up annoyedly from his desk. "What-"

"Cuddy's trash."

"Again?" He sighed heavily, "can't you just leave the poor woman alone?"

"She's up to something."

"You're paranoid. Drop it!"

House started rooting through the trash that he dumped on Wilson's desk. "There's no flight confirmation in her trash. What do you say to that?"

"…most people don't throw away their confirmation e-mails. Some people don't even print them out. House, leave the poor woman alone she told you her father's sick, you should just respect that."

House studied him for a moment. "You really believe that, don't you?"

Wilson rolled his eyes.

Cuddy's car rolled to a stop in front of the Bed and Breakfast in Ocean City, the drive seemed to take a record long time.

She cut the engine and hurried up the front steps.

The woman at reception smiled sweetly upon seeing Cuddy. "Checking in?"

"Stacy Warner." Cuddy said, almost out of breath. She was here. She was finally here. And Stacy was right upstairs. "She's expecting me."

"Ah yes, Miss Cuddy-"

"Doctor Cuddy." She corrected absently.

"Dr. Cuddy, I'm sorry, she's in room 11, you can go right on up."

Cuddy took the stairs two at a time before slowing herself and calmly taking the last three. She scanned the numbers on the doors and stopped on 11. She took a deep breath and knocked.

Stacy called from inside, "who is it?"

Cuddy smiled at the sound of her voice. "It's me."

Stacy smiled. Cuddy could tell. She almost swooned. "Just a moment," she purred softly. Cuddy shifted from one foot to the other, waiting.

The door opened and Cuddy's hands cupped Stacy's cheeks, pressing her lips hard to Stacy's and pushing her in the door, closing it with her foot.

"I missed you too." Stacy murmured against Cuddy's velvety soft lips. Stacy pulled the drawstring of her robe loose and let it fall to the floor revealing a lacy black bra and panties set.

Cuddy mmed her approval.

"You like?" Stacy grinned smugly.

"You know I do."

"They're new."

"No one's touched them on you?" Cuddy grinned slowly.

"No one's laid so much as a pinky finger on me in them." Stacy grinned, pulling Cuddy back towards the bed until Stacy sat on the edge.

Cuddy straddled Stacy's thighs, pulling her in for a searing kiss. Cuddy wrapped her arms around Stacy possessively. The kiss was deep and sensual and only ended because they needed air.

"You are mine mine mine all night…" Cuddy whispered against her lips, coaxing Stacy to lay back down on the bed, covering her body with her own.

"All weekend…" Stacy whispered, nipping at her lip, holding her tightly to her body.

"Even better." Cuddy turned them over in one quick movement. Stacy gasped and giggled softly, straddling her hips hard.

Stacy had chosen this specific bed and breakfast because of the view. It probably would have been more practical to take a room in a big chain hotel. More anynimity. Although, it wasn't as if Mark would assume she was cheating on him with Cuddy. Who would guess that? Seriously! But the view really was worth it and bed and breakfasts were always more home-y and charming, Stacy mused.

But that morning as the sun washed the room in warm light she couldn't give a damn about the view. The only thing she had eyes for was Lisa Cuddy, stretched luxuriously naked in the bed beside her.

Stacy ran her hand slowly up her hip, dipping her head to kiss her neck. Cuddy stirred gently, smiling sleepily. "Good morning." She whispered.

"Good morning, beautiful."

Stacy gently tucked a lock of Cuddy's hair behind her ear, leaning over and kissing her.

Cuddy smiled, wrapping her arms around Stacy and pulling her close, covering her lips with her own. Cuddy ran her hand down Stacy's side, gripping her ass gently and pulling her leg up over her hipbone. Stacy moaned softly.

"You're shameless." Stacy teased, grinding her hips against Cuddy's. Stacy laid back and pulled Cuddy on top of her.

Three or four hours later Stacy and Cuddy were walking down the sidewalk, their fingers threaded together and a comfortable silence hanging between them.

"I like this." Stacy said at long last.

"So do I." Cuddy smiled, "we almost feel like a normal couple."

"We are a normal couple." Stacy objected and Cuddy just stared at her. "Ok. We're not a normal couple. But so what? We're a very unique couple."

"We're not really a couple though."

"Sure we are."

"No. Stacy, we're not. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. We just aren't a couple."

That night Stacy's arms were wrapped protectively around Cuddy, she was sleeping contentedly. Cuddy was wide awake though, stroking Stacy's hand absently. She sighed softly and tried in vain to fall asleep again.

Cuddy slipped out of Stacy's arms after long deliberation.

Stacy stirred and murmured sleepily, "Lisa?"

"I'm just going to the bathroom, go back to sleep, beautiful." She whispered, the moonlight making the room brighter than it normally would be and Stacy squinted against the unexpected light.

Stacy watched her for a moment. Cuddy was sure that Stacy knew she was lying. Cuddy felt like Stacy's eyes burned right through her, baring her to Stacy in every way possible. But Stacy nodded and her eyes closed again and Cuddy knew she was out cold.

Cuddy sat down in the arm chair, watching Stacy sleeping soundly. She had something she knew she had to say. She knew she wouldn't be able to sleep a wink until she said it, but she didn't want to rob Stacy of a good night's sleep. So she resigned herself to waiting the remaining four hours until their wake up call was supposed to wake them.

Cuddy awoke with a kiss to her forehead. She hadn't realized she'd dozed. She looked surprisedly up at Stacy. She felt no relaxation that one is supposed to feel after sleep, she felt like she had blinked rather than slept.

Stacy set down a tray of coffee and a couple of muffins. "I was thinking. Do you want to spend the day here in Ocean City or we could find something else to do on the way back to Princeton. I passed a few signs on the way and I think-"

"Stacy." Cuddy stopped her, "I have to say something, can you come here for a moment?"

"What is it, beautiful?" Stacy smiled, kneeling in front of her.

"Stacy, I love you-"

"Oh, Lisa." Stacy smiled adoringly, "I love you, too," she leaned up to kiss her.

"Please let me finish…" Cuddy faltered but only for a second. She fought back tears just thinking the words. "But I can't do this anymore."

Stacy stared at her dumbly. "Lisa… no… Lisa…" Stacy's eyes welled up with tears.

Cuddy closed her eyes, covering them with her hand. "Don't make this any harder than it has to be." She pleaded. "I just can't do this anymore because you're not all mine and I can't get over that. Besides, you're married and this… is destined to end sooner or later and I think before things get even more complicated that it… it… we… we should just… stop."

"If… if that's what you want to do." Stacy was putting on her brave face.

"It's what we need to do." Cuddy whispered, getting up and pulling on the rest of her clothing.

Stacy sat there silently for a moment before pulling herself up and sitting on the bed. "I'm going to hang out here for the rest of the day." She said softly.

Cuddy picked up her small bag and nodded. "I'll see you tomorrow at work." She whispered.

"Actually, can I take a few days vacation time?" She asked, speaking normally again. "There are a lot of things I need to do around the house and… well, I just sort of need a break."

Cuddy nodded, "of course."

There was a silence and Cuddy nodded again. "Bye, Stacy."

Stacy nodded but avoided eye contact.

Two songs that are apro pos to this story at this point:

"Almost Lover" by A Fine Frenzy - Cuddy's POV

Goodbye, my almost lover
Goodbye, my hopeless dream
I'm trying not to think about you
Can't you just let me be?
So long, my luckless romance
My back is turned on you
Should've known you'd bring me heartache
Almost lovers always do

"Take a Chance on Me" by the A-Teens - Stacy's POV

Take a chance on me
Oh you can take your time baby, I'm in no hurry, know I'm gonna get you
You don't wanna hurt me, baby don't worry, I ain't gonna let you
Let me tell you now
My love is strong enough to last when things are rough
It's magic
You say that I waste my time but I can't get you off my mind
No I can't let go
'Cause I love you so

Cuddy drove straight to work. She'd do some paperwork and then pass out on the couch. She had another change of clothes in her bag and there would be peace today. It was Sunday. And House doesn't work Sundays. Thank god for Sundays.

She got a few hours of paperwork done before she ordered a pizza for lunch, leftover pizza for dinner and cold pizza for breakfast. She made a huge dent in her mountain of paperwork and she was never happier to have paperwork in her life.

Her solitude was broken by House first thing Monday morning. He had come in early, brimming proudly with the knowledge of her lie.

"You're having an affair with Stacy! And your father isn't sick."

Cuddy looked up at him slowly, she was in no mood. Her eyes were red and swollen as though she'd been crying, though she'd spent her time desperately trying not to cry and House's expression softened.

"Who ended it?" He asked softly.

"I did." She whispered. She stood up, grabbing a pile of papers, "and I'm done talking about it." She crossed the room to her filing cabinet to put the file away.

The exhileration of figuring out her dirty secret melted away despite himself and he was left feeling nothing but empathy for Cuddy. He caught her by the wrist. She looked up at him, surprised, she opened her mouth to say something but he pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her. She buried her face in his chest and let herself cry for the first time, really cry.

"Leave Cuddy alone." Wilson's hands were on his hips and a no-nonsense expression on his face. Wilson had seen Cuddy leaving House's office three times in the past two days. That wasn't a surprise though. The surprise was that Cuddy smiled. She was smiling every time she left. And House actually did clinic duty two days in a row without fighting tooth and nail with Cuddy. It was weird.

"What?" House looked up.

"I know what you're doing."

"And just what is it that I'm doing? Since you're so omniscient."

"You're taking advantage of her."

"What?" House demanded.

"She's distraught and upset and you're taking advantage of her by being all nice and cuddly just to get into her pants!"

"She doesn't wear pants."

"So not the point."

"I'm just being nice."

"You're never nice. Not unless you want something. And I think we all know you just want to get Cuddy into bed."

"You're the one who's always telling me to be nice!"

"But you don't listen to me!"

House shook his head, putting his head phones on, he didn't want to deal with Wilson being a jerk right now.

"I don't care if you believe it or not I am capable of compassion." House said, sincerely wanting to be believed. The one time he was doing something nice just to be nice, no ulterior motive, no selfishness, just nice, and he was getting the third degree. It bothered him that Wilson, of all people, didn't believe that he could be decent.

Wilson rubbed his forehead tiredly.

"Stacy broke her heart, I'm an expert in this." House paused and sighed, "and when Stacy and I broke up she was there for me." He said, uncharacteristically honest and vulnerable. "Whether it was out of guilt for my leg or it was kindness Cuddy took care of me. I owe her that much."

"I know all your tricks. And this fake sensitive act is not working on me, House. Just admit you're taking advantage of Cuddy!"

House rolled his eyes and pulled his headphones on.

Wilson hit the pause button on House's iPod, "I'm not done."

"I am." House turned it up and turned away from Wilson.

Wilson sighed exasperatedly and left the room.

"The university charity ball. You're going. I'm taking you." House said, dropping the two tickets on her desk.

"Yeah… I wasn't going to go."

"I know. That's why you didn't buy your ticket. That's why I bought it for you." He pushed the tickets closer.


"No buts. You've sealed yourself away for weeks, since… well, you know, Stacy, but I know exactly what you need."

"And what's that?"

"You need to go to the ball and get a little tipsy and flirt with Jackson from pediatrics. Or Whitner or whatever." He pushed the tickets closer again, hoping to encourage her to pick them up. "This is what you do, this is what you like. Don't let a break up destroy you."

"Talk about the pot calling the kettle black…"

"Don't be me."

She picked up the tickets after a few moments' thought. "Pick me up at 7."

The ball was already under way when Cuddy and House arrived. House normally had to be dragged kicking and screaming by Wilson to these things – unless there was gambling involved, that was so worth it.

Wilson saw them enter together and he rolled his eyes exasperatedly and grabbed himself another champagne.

House took Cuddy's coat and handed it to one of the kids hired to take coats and assist the staff, guests and donors.

Cuddy saw Wilson and expected House to seat them at the table with Wilson, there were still five empty chairs and she was more than a little surprised that House seated them almost as far as possible. She looked at him and opened her mouth to say something but she decided against it.

If House wanted to talk about it, he'd bring it up.

"Champagne?" He asked.

She looked up and shook her head, "I don't think so. You go ahead."

"Cuuuuddddyyy." House whined. "Look, I'm getting up." He stood up, "and my leg hurts. I'm going to go get you alcohol and you're going to drink it."

She couldn't help but smile a little. "Fine." She said softly.

She watched him walk awkwardly around the people on the dancefloor. She was grateful for House's support, more than even he realized.

She looked around the room to see who else was here. The Dean of the University and his wife and office staff were at another table, there were a lot people she vaguely recognized who she reasoned must be professors. Whitner and many other researchers were there and there were still a lot of people yet to come.

The music was soft and pretty and people were dancing already. Cuddy resolved to have a good time, to not let Stacy keep making her miserable. She'd been through break ups before, but this… this was just different. But she was done feeling sorry for herself. She was going to have a good time. She was going to follow House's advice and get drunk and flirt with whomever crossed her path.

"May I have this dance, Lisa?"

Cuddy looked up at the extended hand and her eyes travelled upward, seeing the woman it was attached to.

"Stacy…" She breathed.

"It took me nearly 10 years to work up the courage to ask you to dance. Please?"

Cuddy took her hand and stood up, but shook her head. "No. Stacy, I can't." She pulled her hand back gently, "I'm… getting over you and I can't do that if I'm around you."

"Lisa, I talked to Mark." She said and Cuddy watched her, waiting for her to go on, "I've thought a lot about what you said and I told Mark about what happened between us."

Stacy took Cuddy's hands in hers and she looked down. Something felt different. It was then that she realized Stacy wasn't wearing her wedding ring.

"And, well, like I said, I've thought a lot about what you said I did a lot of re-evaluating and I can't bear to lose you. Mark and I are getting a divorce. I want to be with you and nobody else."

"Forever?" Cuddy asked, softly in a voice that sounded foreign to her own ears.

"For as long as you'll have me." Stacy whispered, giving Cuddy's hands a gentle squeeze.

Cuddy's eyes welled up with mirthful tears.

"So how about that dance?" Stacy smiled, tears of her own falling down her cheeks.

Cuddy couldn't speak, she only nodded, smiling. She let Stacy guide her onto the dance floor.

Stacy's arms wrapped around Cuddy's svelte waist and pulled her close as Cuddy's arms encircled Stacy's neck. Cuddy buried her face against Stacy's neck, shutting her eyes as they swayed to the music.

Wilson came up to House who was standing at the bar. "Looks like your plans to bed Cuddy have been foiled again."

"Jesus, Wilson." House put down his cane and pushed himself off. "Go to Hell." He called over his shoulder as he made his way back to the table.

Cuddy smiled at Stacy, leaning up, "let the gossip begin." She whispered as her lips pressed against Stacy's. Stacy cupped her cheeks, kissing her deeply and adoringly.

The End

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