Mar. 23rd, 2009

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When House arrived at his apartment, he killed the engine of his car but stayed right where he was for a few minutes, staring numbly ahead of him at Cuddy's car parked on the curb. Leaving Cuddy back there on the street had been as hard - harder - than the time he'd left her on the side of the road to go home after telling her they should take a break. Walking away, knowing he'd utterly cut her to the core...

He'd stopped to look back, to see if she was still standing where he'd left her. But she'd disappeared into the crowd. Knowing she had to make her own way home, he'd immediately began worrying that she was all right. Pursuing her again wouldn't have solved anything, though, and he'd known it. So, it had been with huge sense of remorse and reluctance that he contined to his car to make his own way home, while Cuddy was somewhere on the streets of Princeton, doing God only knew what. Maybe she'd caught a cab home. Or a bus. Or maybe she'd parked herself on a bench somewhere and continued crying her eyes out. Or maybe...

He lifted a hand to his face and rubbed it. God. He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, dropping his hand to his lap. God, he was a stupid bastard. He was a stupid, stupid bastard. In a sudden fit of anger, he raised both his hands and slammed them on the steering wheel. He did it again, and then again, gritting his teeth, so angry with himself. He dropped his hands away and sat back with a slump. Ripping the key from the ignition, he climbed out, locked the car and trudged up the steps into his apartment. He flipped on the light, took off his coat and threw it and the scarf carelessly over the back of the couch, and headed straight for the kitchen. He grabbed a glass, the bottle of bourbon and planted himself on the couch, pouring himself a generous serving of the drink.

He downed it in a few gulps, the alcohol stinging the back of his throat and after he poured himself another glass, he glanced over at the phone. Maybe he could phone her to make sure she got home all right. Or maybe he call her cell phone to see if she needed to be picked up. Yeah, right. Like he had any right to do that. He turned his attention back to the glass and grabbed up the bottle. "You're such a stupid, fucking idiot, Greg," he muttered bitterly to himself. He poured another glass, recapped the bottle and slammed it down onto the coffee table. He swiped the glass up and took a big gulp. It was going to be a long night.

He got up from the couch a few times to look out the window, to see if Cuddy had decided to turn up to collect her car. Each time he checked, her car was still there and no sign of Cuddy anywhere. By his fourth glass of bourbon, he was becoming too drunk to walk straight and after checking out the window yet again, he stumbled and swayed his way back to the couch to pour himself another drink. He eventually lay down on the couch and sank into a dreamless, drunken stupor, startling awake in the middle of the night with a bladder so full it was verging on agonising. He staggered down the hall and pissed in the toilet, so drunk some of the pee landed on the floor instead of in the bowl. Completely oblivious to it, he careered out of the bathroom and into the bedroom, crashing onto the bed to fall straight back into a sleep that was distorted with a constant sensation of dizziness, thanks to the ethanol in the alcohol dehydrating him.

Come morning, he awoke with a pounding headache. He felt wretched. His eyes were dry, his mouth fuzzy with the aftertaste of stale alcohol and the slightest movement made his head spin. He made himself get up, though, when he became coherent enough to remember that Cuddy's car was still out front - or so he hoped - and he fumbled his way through his apartment and almost hissed in pain at the sunlight attacking his eyes when he looked out the window.

Her car was still there. Judging from how wet everything was outside, it had rained overnight, too. He fetched a glass of water and worked on hydrating himself, downing some painkillers with it, and every so often he kept returing to the window to see if Cuddy had showed up. She had to at some point to collect her car.

After pouring himself a mug of strong black coffee in attempt to shake himself out of the hangover, he returned to the window yet again. No sign of Cuddy. He went to pull back, his stomach knotted with unease from both the nausea of his hangover and a general unease about the night before, and suddenly spotted Cuddy across the street. His stomach did a sharp flip and his breath caught in his throat. He stepped back and wondered what the hell to do. Should he wait here and hope she'd come to the door? Should he go out to her and hope she'd talk to him? He couldn't remember if she'd taken her keys with her last night. Had she? He darted his eyes around the living room. He couldn't see them. She'd probably put them in her purse when she'd arrived here last night. Another quick glance to the window and he caught sight of Cuddy passing by just outside.

Without giving himself a chance to second guess anything, he limped quickly over to the coffee table, sloshing hot coffee onto it as he thumped his mug down, then limp-skipped over to the door. He didn't take any notice that he was still in the rumpled up, dishevelled clothes from the night before or that his feet were bare. He hurried out the door, grimacing in pain at the sunlight as he stepped outside onto the cold, wet front stoop. God, there she was. All the guilt and shame from the night before came flooding right back.

He swallowed. "Cuddy," he called tentatively. He hobbled down the steps, inwardly cursing himself for leaving his cane inside. No time to go back and get it, though - he was afraid if he did, she'd leave before he got a chance to say anything to her. Not that she'd likely listen. She'd have every right not to.

October 2010

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