Title: Dinner Hour
Characters: House, Cuddy
Word Count: 800
Summary: Cuddy has something to say, on Wilson's behalf.. The previous vignettes, in order, are: Visiting Hour, Happy Hour, Midnight Hour, Fifty-Minute Hour, Random Hour, Painful Hour, Dark Hour , Desperate Hour, Witching Hour , and Lonely Hour.
Cuddy’s already seated at a secluded table in the restaurant when House arrives. For once, she’s very happy to see him leaning more heavily than usual on his cane, moving slowly through the room. Once he’s seated across from her, she casually reaches over and grabs the cane, which he’s hung on the back of his chair. Then she smiles mischievously at him.
“Niiice,” House says as he regards her appraisingly. “Any reason my mobility’s posing a particular threat to you tonight?”
Cuddy’s still smiling. “Nope. Having a captive audience is a secret fantasy of mine; that’s all.”
Now House leers at her. “Care to share any more… fantasies?”
The smile disappears rapidly from Cuddy’s face. “Yes, actually, I do. I’ve got this crazy dream that you’ll go visit Wilson next Tuesday. And the Tuesday after that. And so on.”
House no longer looks amused, either. “Sorry. Not happening. And—since it seems you got me here under false pretenses—I’d appreciate the return of my cane. Need to be going now.”
“The pretense wasn’t false. I told you I needed to go over some paperwork with you. In private. And I do.” Cuddy reaches into her purse and hands House two folded sheets of paper.
House begins to read the first page, then tosses the papers to the tabletop. “Also not happening. This letter is addressed to you. It’s a violation of federal law for me to stick my nose into your mail. Don’t wanna break any laws.”
Cuddy smiles. “Fine. Then let me summarize for you. Wilson knew you wouldn’t read anything he sent you. So he wrote to me, because there are some things he wants you to know. Says he figures that for all the times I’ve used him as a go-between, when I was trying to get you to listen, I owe him this one. And he’s right.”
House reaches for his cane; Cuddy pulls it further away. House sighs in resignation. “Gimme the condensed version. And then give me my cane.”
They’re interrupted briefly by the waiter. Cuddy orders a meal; House says he won’t be staying and asks for a glass of water.
Once the waiter leaves, Cuddy picks up Wilson’s letter. “The first thing he says is that you’ve done nothing wrong.”
House makes a scoffing, disbelieving noise, and Cuddy laughs. “The second thing he says is you don’t believe that. And that I’m going to have to explain it to you.” She sets the letter down on the table and meets House’s eyes.
“Wilson says that throughout the entire investigation, you were the only one of us who stuck by your principles, never wavered. He’s right, you know. Says what you did was admirable, and that you were his role model for the choices he eventually made—and that he doesn’t regret one single thing he did. He says you taught him about real honesty, and it’s a lesson that’ll always be with him. And that a couple of years in prison is a cheap price for such a valuable lesson.”
The waiter reappears with Cuddy’s food, and sets a glass of water in front of House. The interruption annoys Cuddy, but House seems relieved by the enforced break in the conversation. So Cuddy fidgets until the waiter departs, and forces herself to sit quietly until House drains the glass of water, then returns his attention to her.
House has been listening intently to everything Cuddy’s telling him, and she knows that the time will never be better to impart to him the most important point Wilson wants him to know. So she locks her eyes with his, and grabs both his hands across the table; he has to know that Wilson means this.
“Wilson wants you to know that he’s proud to be your friend. He says that you need to remember just one thing, and you’ll be okay. He wants you to remember that… he’s proud of you. He says to tell you that… you were right. You did the right thing.” Cuddy releases House’s hands and watches his face.
House’s eyes are unreadable as he nods slowly at her. He holds his hand out for the cane; she returns it to him, and he stands.
“I need some time off,” he says. “Not sure how long—need to take care of something.”
Cuddy isn’t certain what’s going on, but her instincts tell her that it’s good. “Take all the time you need, House.” She watches him as he takes Wilson’s letter from the table, then folds it carefully and puts it in his pocket.
Then House reaches across the table and grabs a handful of fries from Cuddy’s plate.
“That’s for Wilson,” he tells her as he stalks off. Cuddy sees the small smile on his face, just before he turns to leave, and—for the first time—she’s beginning to believe that House and Wilson might just be all right.
And on to Legal Hour