Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Them That Help Themselves

Them That Help Themselves

by Mara

Summary: What if Cuddy had talked to House instead of Wilson at the end of “Painless”?

Story Notes:
This is pretty much my dad’s fault, for calling me when I was working and talking to me about this House episode. And he made one important comment about House himself…
Lisa turned, her hands full of dirty baby clothing, and it was only long practice that kept her from leaping into the air when she found House leaning against the living room wall, watching her. He had that intent expression he got sometimes around her, the one she could never entirely interpret. It wasn’t the one that said he was looking at her breasts, or the one that said he had some new and interesting work-related torture to inflict on her…

“What do you want, House?” she asked, knowing that polite behavior would be wasted on him.

He pushed off the doorway, leaning on his cane, unable to entirely disguise the tiny stumble that meant his Vicodin was wearing off. “Who says I want anything?”

“Right, because you drop by my house to say hi all the time.” She dropped the clothing into a basket on the floor, and went back to trying to shovel herself out of the mess she and Rachel had made. “Try that on Dr. Hadley. She might still believe it.”

He was uncharacteristically silent and she turned back to him. He was looking at her again, slightly hunched and grim. “So when do the cops come to take the kid?”

“What?” She stared at him, too tired to even come up with a snappy rejoinder.

“The home inspection.”

“I passed.” She felt her mouth twist with the words as she started sorting out bills from envelopes.

“Right, which is why you look like someone kicked your puppy.” He turned his head, theatrically examining the room.

Lisa felt her hands clench into fists, and consciously relaxed them. “I passed. I’m off the hook for a year.” And she grabbed the basket of clothing from the floor and strode down the hall, knowing that ordering him out was the best way to make him stick around.

House didn’t follow her down the hall, but she felt his eyes on her as she slowed, unable to resist peeking into Rachel’s room and checking for the reassuring rise and fall of her chest as she napped.

Lisa put the laundry in, tidied up some papers in her bedroom, made the bed, and finally, reluctantly went back to the living room. House, bad leg propped up on a pile of newspapers on the coffee table, was reading a copy of Parenting magazine. He peered over the top. “Twelve Baby Surprises and Shockers? Why do women read this stuff?”

She yanked the magazine out of his hand. “Says the man who once threatened to let a patient die if he didn’t get his soap opera back.”

“Right, but that was important.” He slumped further into her couch, hands resting across his stomach.

Lisa thought it might be a bad sign for her mental health (or at least how much sleep she’d been missing lately) that she couldn’t decide if the pose made her mad or horny and she gave up trying to outwait him. “Go away. I have things to do this evening and they don’t include entertaining you.”

“Just entertaining little Mowgli?”

“Rachel is much less demanding than you.”

House glanced around. “I can see that. So how’d you pass the visit? Didja sleep with the guy or what?”

“I won’t even dignify that with an answer.”

House’s eyes widened in faux excitement. “Oooh, I want details. Did you just give him a blowjob or was there nudity?”

“Shut up.”

“If you didn’t sleep with him, then how’d you pass with this pigsty?”

She knew he was goading her. She knew it. She did. “I passed by their meager standards. I failed by mine.”

Damn it, she hadn’t intended to answer. He flicked another quick glance around the room, but before he could open his mouth, she yanked the newspapers out from under his leg, dropping it onto the table with a smack. It obviously hurt, because he actually grimaced and grabbed his upper thigh. “Nice,” he said after a moment catching his breath.

Closing her eyes, clutching the newspapers to her chest, Lisa centered herself. “I…I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re not.” He sat up straighter.

“You’re right, I’m not. Are you proud?”

“Very.” He gave her one of those sexy grins. “You’re halfway to the Marquis de Sade already. I’ve always known you had it in you. Now if only you’d let me–”

“Go. Away. Before I forget that I didn’t intend to fire you this week.”

“But I’m having so much fun.”

“My heart bleeds. Go stalk Wilson. Hire a whore. I don’t care.” She tossed the newspapers back onto the coffee table in annoyance.

“Uh-huh,” he said, without moving, and still studying her. “I’m still not following why you’re not happy about the home visit.”

Restless, she started stacking books to reshelve. “I’m not interested in your diagnosis.”

“You passed, so you get to keep the kid, but that’s not enough for you. What, you wanted them to give you the title of SuperMom too?”

Sucking in a breath, Lisa was glad she was facing away, so House couldn’t see the tears in her eyes.

“Oho, little miss Cuddy figured everything should have been perfect, because she’s supposed to be perfect.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She turned around, grabbing the newspapers again and walking toward the kitchen to recycle them.

Unfortunately, his voice traveled perfectly through the house. “Do you think the kid cares about you being perfect? Do you think she’d really be better off with someone else?”

“No.” She was back in the living room before she’d even thought about it, glaring at him as he slowly stood, leaning on his cane. “No, you don’t get to talk about this. Not after all the shit you’ve given me. Not after telling me I’d suck at being a mother.”

He had that unreadable expression again. “That was…different. I also told you you’d be a great mother.”

Heart racing as she remembered that moment and the kiss, Lisa concentrated on staying calm. “We’re not doing this. I tried and you rejected me. Several times, as I recall. So we’re not doing this.”

His lips twitched in an ironic smile. “Fine. But for once I wasn’t actually asking you to have sex. Although if you decide–” She glared at him and he swiftly changed gears. “I was pointing out that you’re a stubborn idiot.”

“Coming from the king of stubborn idiots, that’s rich,” she said, crossing her arms.

“You passed the inspection. You’ve got the kid. You’ve got a job that pays big bucks. Any guy who had your job would have a dozen people to help. Hire another damn nanny. Hire a few maids. Hire an assistant.” House tapped his cane on the floor to punctuate his points. “Just don’t ask me to babysit.”

The image of House with a crying baby was enough to make her smile. “No babysitting.”

“And no more pouting. It gives you more wrinkles than you’ve already got.”

Shaking her head, she studied him. “You’re really a piece of work. But I’ll hire a maid. Or two. Happy?”

He shrugged.

“Go home,” she said quietly. Before I do something we’ll both regret, she didn’t say.

Nodding, he headed toward the front door, Lisa right behind him. She leaned against the doorway, weary, but somehow feeling better. “House?”

“Hmm?” He turned. “Changed your mind about the sex?”

She rolled her eyes. “Thank you.”

“I didn’t do it for you.” He stomped toward the steps.

“I know,” she said softly as he maneuvered down. “I was thanking you for worrying about Rachel.”

She didn’t know if he heard, but she watched him walk all the way to his motorcycle before going back to cleaning.


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