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HOUSE M.D. FIC: A Valiant Woman (4/6)

For notes, please see Chapter 1.

Chapter 4: Sturdy Are Her Arms
“Good morning, sunshine!”

She honestly hadn’t seen this train wreck coming. Kutner’s death was a big deal, an upsetting shock for everyone, but she hadn’t realized how much it had affected House. When he had turned up in her office that night, looking as serious and lost as she’d ever seen him, she thought that he was just jerking her chain, threatening to quit so that she would give him another week of personal days or a special telephone account to use for a hooker hotline or something. She knew that she was running late to relieve the nanny, and she didn’t have time for this shit. She especially didn’t have time for his vicious crack about the little bastard child who made her feel good about herself.

She’d returned to work the next day somberly suited, determined to put him in his place. His filming her in her office was a little weird, but compared to some behaviors, nothing to get too worked up about. Their pissing contest about his clinic hours was just par for the course. The stool sample delivery in front of some of her biggest donors and the pirate stripper had her wondering a little. Was this what an apology from House looked like? If so, next time she’d forego the honor.

Then the real terrorist attack came as a blithe announcement from the balcony, and she quite literally went blind with rage.

She wondered that her shaking legs could even carry her along the corridor after him as tears ran down her face. Why not scream at him? The son of a bitch had left her no dignity to lose. And his response to her fury over his incredibly public insinuations about their sex life? “I was wondering if we should move in together.”

She was so taken aback that she could only laugh, a painful, ugly sound to her own ears, while he smiled smugly back at her.

“You’re fired,” she said finally. She managed to keep upright until the elevator doors closed behind her.

***

She was sitting on her sofa with the last sodden tissue wilted in her hand when he entered her office and asked some ridiculous random question about whether she had two lipsticks in the same shade. “How could that possibly be relevant to anything?”

He looked honestly puzzled, even a little hurt. There was no twinkle of malice in his eye, no jeering edge to his voice, as he asked, “You really don’t think you’re just… overreacting to the other night?”

“Fine,” she said, getting to her feet. “I am overreacting. You’ve said plenty of lousy things to me before. But reaching the final straw has been a good thing.” She took refuge behind her desk, wishing that it didn’t remind her that there was actually a spark of sweetness deep down under all that assholery. “It made me realize that we not only don’t have a personal relationship… we never could.”

House frowned, blinked, shook his head a little as if to clear it. Stammered, “You… you’ve been overreacting… to something I said?”

She shrugged, still not understanding. “You insulted me… I walked out.” She allowed just a little of the bitterness to bleed into her voice as she added, “It’s nothing that hasn’t happened a hundred times before.”

He stared at her, then through her. He swiveled to face the door, turned back to her, scrunched bewildered blue eyes shut. “No, no,” he said softly but urgently. “That’s not what happened.” He took an entreating step forward. “I told you that I needed you. You helped me!”

That was when it finally dawned on her that something was very, very wrong.

“Are you okay?” House reached into his jacket pocket, slowly opened his fist. As the vial of Vicodin plummeted to the rug, he stumbled backward as if it were a scorpion. She was already rounding the desk, reaching for him. “Are you okay?”

He closed his eyes for a long moment, clammy under her hand, then looked at her and said with a simplicity that squeezed her heart, “No. I’m not okay.”

Suddenly she had an almost visceral sensation of everything clicking into place. His office. The balcony. The hallway. House was hallucinating. He truly thought that they had… oh, God. She wrapped her arms around him as if this could still prevent him from shattering into pieces. He stood absolutely still, rigidly upright, staring over her shoulder with terror in his eyes. At last he uttered one imploring word: “Wilson.”

Some women might have called security at that point; Lisa only took House by the hand. Never for a second did she fear that he would lash out at her, and she had to get him help, get him out of here, get him to Wilson.

Wilson would know what to do.

More than anything else, his unprecedented lack of resistance almost broke her. They shambled through the late afternoon light to the elevator together, and he leaned into her hopelessly as she punched at the buttons.

They paused once along the way so that he could stumble into the men’s room to puke up a couple of pills into the sink. House stared down into the swirling water with an expression of exhausted disbelief. She had to cup her hand under the tap, rub it over his lips, tear off a piece of paper towel to dab them dry.

When she opened his office door, Wilson raised his head with an alacrity that told her he’d been waiting – waiting for this, or something like this, to happen. For a second, she could have killed him for keeping her in the dark, just snatched up the shiny steel letter opener lying on his desk and carved into his carotid. But there would be time enough for recriminations after. After.

Her mind refused to move beyond that after as she retreated alone to her office and put her aching head down on the desk.

 ***

Author’s Note: Ever since I read “A Thing with Feathers” by blackmare , House has stopped to puke on his way to Wilson’s office. It’s just how it is.

 
Read Chapter 5: Entrusting His Heart to Her

 

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