Genre: Angst, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort
Characters: House, Cuddy,
TimeLine: After episode 5.01, Dying Changes Everything and up to episode 5.05, Lucky Thirteen
A/N: Short, simple, and predictable—because sometimes, we find comfort in those things.
The next day, walking by
Cuddy moves in closer, to get a better look at the object which has so entranced House. It’s an almost shapeless, dried blob of clay, apparently meant to represent a heart; it’s painted Pepto-Bismol pink. “Dr. Wilson” has been scrawled in a child’s crooked hand across the front of it in glow-in-the-dark green marker. Cuddy reaches out her hand to take it, but House shakes his head and slips the bauble into his pocket.
“I’ll take care of it,” is all he says as he leaves the room. Cuddy stares after him, sadness in her eyes.
Over the next few days and weeks, Cuddy never knows where the little talisman will appear. Many days, House carries it inside his jacket pocket. Cuddy sees him, hand in pocket, surreptitiously running his fingers over its smooth, childishly-formed contours when he’s deep in thought, or thinks no one’s watching. Other times, when Cuddy knows House is alone, she’ll sneak a careful glance through the blinds and see the heart sitting on his desk, and House, leaning towards it, studying it intently, expectantly. Almost… almost as if they were deep in conversation, and he was awaiting an answer.
One night, after
The tiny heart is almost indistinguishable in the darkness; all that’s visible is Wilson’s glowing name—and two shot glasses, both full, one on either side of the heart. It’s the loneliest, most melancholy tableau Cuddy’s ever witnessed.
Two days later, Cuddy figures it out. The small ornament is much, much more than simply a souvenir, a reminder, for House; it’s become his touchstone, his poignant replacement for the heart of a man he’d loved, the only person he’d ever really trusted. It’s no wonder that he keeps the trinket hidden, keeps it safe in the way he couldn’t keep Wilson safe, couldn’t protect their friendship. So Cuddy keeps his secret safe, too.
A month later,
“What’s that?” he queries Cuddy; Cuddy recognizes it immediately. Sitting on the upper shelf is the gaudy little heart. Cuddy walks over and picks it up carefully; it’s still warm from having been tucked snugly inside House’s pocket.
“Something House found in here, a while back. He’s been… keeping it safe for you while you’ve been away.” She hands the heart slowly back to
Later that afternoon,
And House nods, and almost smiles.