Hello fellow crazy people! Okay, this is a fic that BH, tammy, rrennie and I cooked up on the Huddy FF Thread, which I just compiled here. Enjoy!
*****SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY READ THE PRESS RELEASE FOR "A POX ON OUR HOUSE"*****
It was the only way. Sometimes, in the struggle to save a life, the healer had to put his own life at risk. It was brave, it was heroic, it was something that a good person would do, a person who helped elderly people cross the street, who lived in an apartment with a mob of stray animals, who lived for the smiles that people gave him when he told them that they were going to be alright.
So, one of the conflicting emotions that deluged Lisa Cuddy when she turned the corner and saw House in the isolation room without a suit, without so much as a mask to cover his mouth, was shock. Shock, disbelief and pure fear. Enough to take her breath away, gasping and just catching herself from screaming NO, as if to ask, “why?”
As a doctor she knew only too well what could happen to House if he was wrong in taking such a chance...breathing the same air with this deadly contagion, for God’s sake! Telling herself that he was nearly always right was hardly a comforting thought…he was not always right. And this time, with this patient...
Cuddy recognized this one. It was the smallpox guy. Of course, he couldn't possibly have the disease, but whatever he did have was slowly killing him. And the chances that it was contagious were far too high for House to be sure that he wouldn't get the disease as well.
So why? Why was House, of all people, risking his life for a patient? Had Cuddy really changed him so much? Or had she not changed him at all? Perhaps this was proof that he still had a hard time finding things that made his life worth living.
Maybe he didn't really love her, after all.
All these thoughts blew through Cuddy's mind like a whirlwind, gone in a matter of seconds, but leaving a trail of devastation behind. She felt her heart thump faster as each step took her closer to the isolation room.
"House!" Cuddy yelled as she neared the room. Her voice came out torn, strangled.
At the sound of Cuddy's voice, House's head snapped around, and their eyes met. Her gray eyes, stormy with anger, uncertainty, and fear, met his sharp blue ones. And she saw that he was just as afraid as she was.
Their shared looks of fear through the glass wall were more painful than ever before. Now that they had crossed over this great divide, one that reached all the way back to another time when they were students, brought them back to the very real present, to their senses, loving each other body and soul. Mixed up souls, that is. However, the fear was short lived because House brushed it aside and remarked, in his usual manner, “Yeah, sweet irony huh? I could literally become what you all think of me, one giant throbbing pink pustule!”
But Cuddy was worried. “House please, you look flushed...running a temperature..you’re sweating.”
House tried to calm her down. “You definitely have that effect on me…and yes I am smokin’ hot! Okay, I’ve a small fever: could be any number of things at this stage.”
“I’m dealing with the CDC on this situation; they are putting the hospital in a lockdown,” Cuddy said desperately.
“I’m locked in just fine, here with this teenager and a mystery rash...and this, by the way,” House held up a silver bedpan, “makes for great company.”
Cuddy gazed at him with a worried expression. “I wish you wouldn’t have...I’ll be back House, as soon as I can.”
House sat there next to the sleeping girl, staring at her vitals and wracking his brain. Seeing Cuddy, however, and not being able to comfort her or to really even explain, was distracting him. He knew she was scared for him, and maybe he should have been more scared himself, but this wasn't the usual puzzle.
Authorities had come in and were wresting Cuddy's hospital away from her. They didn't know this girl, they didn't know House, and they didn't know how to do anything without obtaining 40 approval signatures first. This girl was going to die in the bed because no one could cut through the red tape to get near her.
After hours of trying to observe her through glass, wondering if that was sweat on her face or just a reflection, trying to see if her pupils were dilated, he'd just had enough. He had seen his opportunity and went in.
And he was thinking of Cuddy when he did it. He was thinking of her sitting there at her desk, with 15 men in suits overtaking her office, pleading with them to just let him and his team have a chance with this. He saw her losing her authority, and losing her faith in healing this person.
He wanted to solve the puzzle, yes, and to save the kid. But he also wanted to prove to Cuddy that she was right. She was always right.
House felt a little light-headed. His fever was returning. He popped acetominophin and checked the girl's temperature. It was also rising, but he'd wait a half hour before giving her anything, to make sure it all sat well with him first. He was treating himself to figure out how to treat her.
The head official for CDC was approaching Cuddy's office.
“Dr. Cuddy, we have put the hospital in lockdown. We are going to get the patient out of here and airlift her to our facility where we can monitor her,” he told her, a grim expression darkening his face.
"You can't do that", Cuddy said. “Dr. House is in there and he has been exposed. He is the leading diagnostician in the country and you need to give him a chance to get this diagnosed.”
The CDC official opened his mouth to reply, but she turned away impatiently. Whipping out her cell phone, she dialed the DA’s number. Her foot tapped restlessly on the tile floor as a woman’s voice cut off the ringing on the other end of the line.
"Hi, I’m Dr. Lisa Cuddy, Dean of Medicine at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. There is an emergency here at and I need Dr. House's team released to help with an emergency diagnosis", Cuddy said, her frantic note entering her voice. "Lives are hanging in the balance here. I will pay the bond and be responsible for them. Please," she added in desperation.
Cuddy went to the room that House had locked himself and the patient in. She told him she was trying to get the team released. The CDC had decided to give her two hours.
Cuddy looked at House and asked him if he had any ideas. As he looked at her, he told her he had plenty of ideas. Her dancing in a cheerleading outfit was among the top five. The other four were very similar.
Cuddy looked at him with tears welling up in her eyes. “You looked flushed and tired…do you feel okay?” House nodded.
But his words did not comfort her. She could not keep the concern from flooding over her face as she put her hand up to the glass. House placed his hand on it to mirror hers.
House slid down the glass wall of the isolation room and rested his head on his knees. It felt like it was on fire, and his leg throbbed painfully. Cuddy was in her office negotiating some more with the CDC guy. His team had managed to get themselves arrested. House was alone, and most likely dying. He knew that his body was in the early stages of the disease, but if he didn't come up with a diagnosis in two hours, he and the patient were going to be airlifted out. That would only waste more time, valuable time, and they would probably both end up dead.
House rubbed his temples, thinking. He could feel the heat emanating from his forehead, but he also knew that the acetominophin would be useless now. He closed his eyes.
What scared House more than anything else, was how much he didn't want to die. Not so long ago, death would have been preferable to what he was going through. But now...
He tried to clear his head, to string all the symptoms together and come up with something, anything. But all House could think of was Cuddy. How, if he did die, he would never be able to wake up next to her again, to hold her in his arms, to see that radiant smile...he didn't believe in heaven. Even if there was one, he had sinned far too much over the course of his life to be offered a place there. But knowing that, believing that, meant that he would have to spend an eternity without her. And he suddenly realized how unbearable that seemed.
For the first time in a long time, House had something to live for; it was refreshing, but also frightening. With an effort, he opened his eyes and looked over at the patient, who was squirming in pain on the bed. He had to figure out what the disease was, the thing that was slowly killing them both, because he did not want to die. For once, he had something to lose.
Time was of the essence. With the team locked up, House locked in, and the hospital locked down, odds that a diagnosis was coming soon were not looking good. House couldn’t just sit here and observe the failing conditions in isolation…the clock was tick tick ticking. He knew he needed to confirm his hunches with laboratory tests, like a skin biopsy shoved under an electron microscope ASAP, damn it! He was counting on Cuddy’s help...he needed her.
House was trying to focus, but for a quick second, he thought of his talks with Nolan, the time Wilson had asked him to move out. He imagined his two best friends wondering and worrying about him again. Of course, House knew his impulsive actions were never suicidal. He wasn’t driven by some twisted god complex or death wish. Only a man obsessed, believing in his own deductive powers above all else, and slightly sociopathic as House was, would do what he had done. At times, the need to prove that he was right overpowered all else. House was House. Such was his dedication.
Along with diagnosing the disease, House’s pounding heart was sending messages to his rational mind, an overwhelming anguish deep down in his gut and conscience, an awareness that Cuddy was part of this equation now. Risking all or nothing included her.
House was still slumped against the wall of the isolation room, but he slowly lifted his steaming head off both knees and stared at his arm, so surreal, large beads of sweat the size of Vicodin pills popping up on the skin, his body working overtime to cool itself down. He closed his eyes tightly, feeling sharp aching pain in his joints, slowly falling into a feverish kind of dream state…
He could see himself walking along a beach with huge waves crashing onto the shoreline, but it felt good and cooling while nearly knocking his bad leg out from under him. Suddenly a curiosity caught his eye as he knelt down to pick up what looked like an ancient ceramic vessel, covered in seaweed and sand. He knew that somehow, this medicine jar was a sign. House needed to figure out what it meant. Suddenly, he thought of Cuddy as if to will her into this picture, this scene, thinking he never had a woman such as her to tell his dreams to...
The rumbling crash of waves against sandy shore exploded in the air, but steadily lost its force until it drifted lazily around House's ears, muffling them in the stifling serenity of the hallucination. His eyelids fluttered open. The brightness of the colors, the shimmering quality of the light, and the clarity of his thoughts immediately made House realize that he was hallucinating. Slowly, he sat up, absentmindedly rubbed his temples, blinking and trying to clear his sleep-clouded vision.
House turned his head slowly and saw Cuddy, her head nestled in the hollow of his neck, her breath tickling his skin. They were leaning against a bleached, hollow log. In the comfort of the fantasy, House did not find the suddenness of her appearance strange.
"Hey," he murmured, lightly nuzzling the top of her head. They were silent for a long time, an eternity, the waves rolling in and out, the sun a blazing splash of blinding white in the sky. She leaned back, he held her closer in his arms, and they remained there: a photograph that had long since lost its luster, unceremoniously stuffed under a pile of books in the attic, where not even the dusty summer sunbeams that filtered lazily through the tiny window could make it shine once more.
But this eternity, trapped in the adrenaline rush of a single moment, was gone. Cuddy spoke after a few seconds had passed.
"We should go."
"Why?" House asked, his tone slipping into a whine, less surprised than he should have been at her sudden decision to leave. "It's nice here." It was warmth, and glowing light, and comfort, and safety, and paradise. Why would he want to be anywhere else?
Cuddy shifted her head to gaze up at House, a familiar glare of incredulity hardening her storm-gray eyes. "Are you serious?" she asked, the sharp, ragged edges of anger seeping into her voice. "This is really where you should be right now?"
With an effort, House furrowed his brow and stared into Cuddy's eyes. In his peripheral vision, he saw the beach, the sand, the waves all disappearing around them as the blues darkened, the grays sharpened, and the temperature sank thirty degrees. House suddenly became aware of an ice-cold object in his hands. He looked down and saw a ceramic jar, crudely shaped and with a sinister-looking engraving of three ships. The frozen ice of reality began to creep into his heart as the fire in his head slowly grew again and all the aches and pains of life rammed through the walls of the dream and into his body. His thoughts began to grow foggy, and he knew enough to wrench his gaze from the jar and back to Cuddy's face. Just one more glimpse. But her eyes were cold. They repelled him. Their hardness was trying to tell him something, and a sense of urgency billowed up inside him: paradise was not the place to be. He knew something now, something important. He had to go back.
Cuddy stood at the glass, slowly becoming more anxious. House was sweating profusely and had been delirious for a couple of hours now. He wasn't responding to her.
"House you have to wake up,” she said urgently. “Please, open your eyes. Talk to me!”
House was still in a hallucinatory state. Cuddy could hear him mumbling but it made no sense.
He was taking one last glimpse of her in his dream, wanting to stay at the beach and never leave. He could hear her calling him. He knew he had to go back. He knew she must be worried sick.
He wondered if she knew how much he had come to love her.
She had made him better, and the thought he could have possibly made her better seemed overwhelming to him.
The Cuddy of House’s hallucination began to rise to her knees.
"Please don't go," he begged, his eyes gazing at her in longing as he grabbed her elbow. “I just want to hold you. We are safe here. This is our world
"We have to go back", Cuddy said.
“There’s something important here", House replied urgently. "Not yet." He glanced around in sudden desperation, trying to remember what it was that he had to find out…
"Wait!" he yelled. “There’s a ship over there, on the horizon…on the side it says "Santa Maria". Columbus? What the…?”
As House came of the hallucinatory state, he opened his eyes ever so weakly and mumbled to Cuddy, "Santa Maria…Columbus…” before his eyes rolled back in his head and he faded back into unconsciousness.
“House! House!! Wake up and tell me what that means,” Cuddy cried frantically, but House was already back in the land of his dreams.
"What does he mean?” Cuddy asked, turning to Martha.
Martha looked at her and said, “Dr. House is just delirious. You can’t really listen to what he’s saying.”
“No, he’s trying to tell me something,” Cuddy persisted. She turned back toward the glass and looked at him.
"What are you trying to tell me?"
She knew in her heart that it was important…and then it hit her.
Cuddy turned to Martha. “Please go to my office and get my laptop,” she said urgently. Martha ran to Cuddy’s office and was back in seconds. Cuddy began to type "Columbus" into her search box and found the article she was looking for. Paying attention in her medical history class may have just paid off. The article read as follows:
Syphilis was known as “the mimic’s disease”. It began with a small rash that mimicked smallpox (the variola virus). Hence it was given the name the ‘Pox’ and ‘Greatpox’ and was mistaken for smallpox whenever it killed a royal (as in the case of the Duke of Gloucester and his mother Queen Anne). The name ‘Syphilis’ was drawn from the name of a shepherd in one of Leonardo da Vinci’s poems.
The first recorded outbreak of syphilis occurred in Naples (a transport epicentre) in 1494, with links to Columbus’ crew. The Italians called it ‘the Spanish disease’. When it spread to the French Army it was called ‘the French disease’. The French then called it the English disease’, the Russians called it ‘the Polish disease’ and the Arabs called it ‘the disease of the Christians’. None wanted to take the blame for “Miss Siff”.
Columbus claiming already occupied America backed by the Santa Maria, Nina and Pinta; surrounded by Court beauties; and a Santa Maria sailing replica. The World Neurological complications of syphilis included personality changes, emotionalism, hyperactive reflexes, small and irregular pupils, a disordered spinal cord, a shuffling walk, bobbing head, hallucinations, insanity and death.
Syphilis came back with Columbus and return trips became necessary to get treatments for the disease that so cleverly concealed itself as "Small Pox".
"Columbus…Santa Maria, it’s syphilis! House is trying to tell me that it’s syphilis!” Cuddy realized in astonishment. She frantically turned to Martha. "Go get me vancomyacin and Cipro stat!” Martha hurried off, and Cuddy moved back to the glass.
“Oh God, House, is that what you are trying to tell me?"
Martha came back with the vancomyacin and the CDC official was right behind her. Cuddy was already suiting up to go in and administer the medicine. The CDC official hurried forward and ordered her not to go in, but Lisa Cuddy was not about to let him stop her.
“I am the Dean of Medicine, and this is my hospital. Until the time that I am removed from that position, the decisions are made by me,” she told the official, a fire burning deep in her eyes. He was taken aback for a moment, then told her to let them test the cultures they had and see if it was actually syphilis. “Dr. Cuddy, we can’t go in there until we know,” he pleaded.
Cuddy hesitated, then decided that she was being reckless. She was letting her passion take over, and wasn’t thinking rationally. Administering the wrong treatment would only waste more time. Cuddy handed the CDC official the medicine, and settled down to wait.
After what felt like hours, the tests came back. They were positive for resistant syphilis. Cuddy jumped up, and she and Martha suited up, went inside the isolation room, and administered the medicine. They stood next to House’s unmoving body, and Cuddy grasped his hand.
"Please open your eyes, House,” she pleaded. With a jolt of surprise, she realized that there were tears streaming down her face. She was so afraid that they were too late.
Cuddy put her hand on House’s face.
“It is as if I have loved you all my life. I can't remember a time when I didn't love you. I never want my heart to know what it is to live without you again,” she told him through her sobs. Martha backed away and quietly left the room. She knew that this was a very personal moment for Cuddy.
“House…” Cuddy whispered, about to give up all hope. And, at that moment she felt him touch her hand.
House’s eyelids drifted open, the filmy blur of unconsciousness slow to recede from his eyes. Vaguely, he heard a voice calling him, but he was still in the groggy waters of the dream. His thoughts were incoherent and slow to form.
And suddenly, House’s head broke the surface and it was like a blast of fresh air had hit him in the face. The colors, the shapes, the sounds, all of it came rushing back to him.
“House! House…oh come on, just say something, just tell me if you’re…” Cuddy was sobbing, kneeling on the tile floor next to him, her hands clenched tightly around his as if he would blow away in the wind if she let go. House was alarmed. He had never seen her lose control like this.
“Your hand…” he whispered. His voice was ragged, his breathing made difficult by the disease that had not fully left his body. But at the sound of his voice, Cuddy’s head snapped up. She leaned towards him, her eyes frantically searching for his. House’s head was still leaned back against the glass wall, his eyes gazing at the ceiling. Cuddy’s strangling grip on his hand was painful, and he had wanted to say, “Your hand’s hurting me. I’m not going anywhere, you know.” But then House looked down and saw Cuddy staring at him. Sky-blue met stormy gray, and he suddenly realized that he did not want her to let go.
House had tried to avoid thinking about this for a long time. He was afraid that the thought might be too much for him. His heart had not been whole for a while now, after all. But, as House gazed into Cuddy’s eyes, he realized something. Somehow, without his really knowing it, he had let himself fall for her. There was no turning back.
This revelation scared House, but it was also exhilarating, something reminiscent of a new beginning. He dwelled on this new, warm, wonderful feeling as he pulled Cuddy close to him and wrapped his arms around her. She pressed her face against his chest and hiccupped slightly.
“I thought…” she began, but House shushed her.
“We don’t need to talk about that,” he said gently. Suddenly, an insane thought occurred to him. “Hey, do you want to go to the beach?”
Cuddy looked up at House, slightly incredulous, but then her face relaxed into a grin. She settled back into his arms. “Mmm,” she said.
But those were just words after all. There really was no need for them, House thought. His urge to go to the beach, to relive his hallucination, was a mere trifle. What really mattered was the almost impossible reality that she was his, that he had somehow become an irremovable part of her very soul. House pulled Cuddy closer into him, and rested his cheek against her temple. No, nothing else mattered now. As long as she was still in his arms, as long as tears could still turn into laughter, as long as their hearts could still beat together…
That would always be enough.