you're the only one who can

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Afternoon, Thursday, 26 April
at the door
hbic_cuddy wrote in cuddys_house
Cuddy pulled into a parking space as close to the entrance of Mayfield Hospital as she could find. She'd made the drive by herself this time. Wilson had protested, of course--he really did take his white knight delusion seriously--but she'd insisted. She was perfectly fine. Junior was happily incubating away and showed no signs of popping out any time soon. She knew that could change in a heartbeat but she didn't intend to spend the remaining days until the baby's birth staying at home because she might go into labor at any moment. She'd be fine, and as long as Dr. Patil remained ignorant about all her 'traveling,' everyone would be happy.

She hadn't actually planned on being back at the hospital just yet. Between her obligations at work and the fact House had his own obligations as far as therapy sessions went, she hadn't planned on visiting on weekdays. However, House's doctor had called on Monday and asked if she'd be willing to join one of his one on one sessions with her. Well, what could she say to that? Of course she'd do it if his doctor thought it would be helpful. It's not like they were asking her to donate a vital organ or something. All she had to do was talk.

She couldn't help being a little nervous, though, because she didn't know what to expect. She hoped the doctor would be able to give her some guidance on how she should deal with House's issues. She'd really, really like to have some guidance on that because she clearly didn't know what to do. But she didn't have any experience with psychiatrists from the perspective of a patient, or loved one of a patient, so she was a bit in the dark as to what would happen in this session.

She pulled herself out of the car, which wasn't all that easy when she had to extricate herself from the seatbelt and squeeze Junior out from behind the steering wheel. She retrieved a small tote bag from the back seat before heading to the entrance. She'd gathered up the things House had asked for, thinking the sooner he got them, the sooner he might feel a little more at ease. Of course, once she got inside, she had to let them search the bag to make sure she wasn't bringing in anything he wasn't allowed to have. She'd been careful about her choices, though, so it didn't take too long before one of the orderlies was taking her into the ward.

She'd arrived a bit early because she wanted to make sure she'd have a few moments with House before the therapy session. She wanted to be able to give him his things and maybe steal a hug or a kiss. She still felt guilty remembering how despondant he'd looked when she'd left on Saturday. She knew this was the best place for him but boy, it was hard to think about him feeling so lonely and lost.

The orderly got all chivalrous on her and carried the bag down the hall to House's room. He gave a sharp rap on House's door. "Vistor for you, Greg." Then he handed the bag to her and smiled before he walked away. "Have a nice visit, ma'am."

"Thanks." Cuddy turned the doorknob and opened the door just a little. She didn't want to intrude if he wasn't quite ready for a visitor. "House, are you decent?" she asked just as she poked her head in.

  • 1
"I know," he replied shortly. "I know." He wasn't getting short with Cuddy so much as he was panicking a little because the constricting feeling in his chest was tightening even more and clawing its way up his throat. He wanted to put a stop to the conversation so he could get himself under control.

He glanced at Megan and not for the first time hated her and wished she'd at least stop looking at him. But when he looked back at Cuddy and she was telling him where she hoped they'd both be in a year's time, he gave her hand another squeeze.

"That's why I'm in here," he murmured to her. "Because I want that, too. I want to get past this ptsd, put all of that behind me. Cope better. Be a dad our kid would be proud of. And I know none of that's going to happen if I kept - keep - going the way I am."

Megan stayed silent while watching the emotional exchange between House and Cuddy. In some ways, she was learning more about him in this session than she'd learned in the last couple of weeks. House had definitely opened up more in this session than he had in previous ones, and that was probably due to the fact that Cuddy was there. She was a person he had an emotional connection to.

She decided this might be a good point to interrupt with a question she had. "Greg," she asked quietly, "did you do what I asked you to do in yesterday's session?" He gave a single nod. "Do you want to give it to her now? Now seems to be an appropriate time."

House looked at Megan. He thought about her question for a moment, then slipped his hand free from Cuddy's and sat back to reach into his pocket. He produced the folded up pieces of paper he'd retrieved from his drawer before coming to the session and held it out for Cuddy to take.

"Read it... whenever," he told her. "Now, later..." He shrugged.

Edited at 2009-08-04 01:44 am (UTC)

Cuddy glanced at Megan, a puzzled frown on her face, wondering what House would have to give her. She'd noticed him taking some papers from his room. She'd assumed it was some kind of 'homework.' Maybe he was required to keep a journal to keep track of his PTSD symptoms or to write down his thoughts about an assigned subject or to list his goals. Writing was a frequently used tool in therapy and she hadn't asked about it because she assumed it was meant to be private.

She stared at the folded papers in her hand after House gave them to her. "I think I'd like to read it now," she said, glancing over at Megan to make sure it was okay. "And I need to walk a bit, if that's okay."

She did need to get up and move around but not so badly she couldn't have stayed in her seat if necessary. Truth was, she wanted to read House's message, whatever it might be, without the two of them staring at her. They could stare at her as she took a slow turn around the room, of course, but she wasn't quite so aware of it. She could ignore them for the moment and focus on what House had written.

She read through his letter once, then she went right back to the beginning to read it again. It was strange to read his words rather than hearing them. It was strange to see his thoughts laid out so calmly and concisely. His personality came through clearly, though. It seemed nothing, not being in the nuthouse, not the meds, could stop House from being House. And that was reassuring.

"First of all," she said, returning to her chair, the pages of the letter held firmly in her hand. "I so do not snore."

She gave him a little wink, then proceeded more seriously. He wasn't the only who hoped things would be different, better, when he came home. She knew treating some of his issues wasn't going to fix everything between them but she hoped if he were in a better place, emotionally speaking, it would be easier for them deal with their problems in a more productive, and less noisy, fashion. It certainly couldn't hurt.

"You know, a lot of this is the way I feel, too. The part about not knowing exactly how to define our relationship, not knowing what's 'normal' for us. Nothing is what I expected, not the good stuff or the bad stuff. It's okay, though, because it's ours and it's special and it will never be boring." She smiled at him. "And I really love the way you make me laugh, too."

House had hoped Cuddy would opt to read the letter later. Sitting in the chair, wanting to squirm while she read his honest thoughts wasn't something he particularly wanted to do. But when she said she wanted to read it now, all he could do was offer a nod. Megan nodded, too, when Cuddy said she wanted to get up and walk. House laced his fingers together and rested his joined hands on his lap, restlessly jiggling his legs while Cuddy got up to read the letter.

The silence in the room that followed was awkward, to say the least. Megan was simply sitting in her chair, politely waiting for Cuddy to finish reading the letter. House, on the other hand, wasn't sure where to look and he turned his gaze around the room, anywhere but at Cuddy. He didn't know how she was going to react, he didn't know if she was going to be upset - in a good or bad way - and he didn't know how much more of this talking he could do this session without going out of his mind with unease.

At last, Cuddy returned to her seat. She didn't seem upset which was a good enough start. And her remark about not snorting actually made him snort. Her little wink put him a bit more at ease, too. But then she got down to business and... he was actually surprised at what Cuddy said. He'd been expecting her to disagree with him or tell him he was misinterpreting her, or for her to argue with him and tell him he wasn't being considerate of her feelings. For what felt like the first time, well, ever it seemed he and Cuddy were finally on the same page. He even managed a small smile when she said she loved the way he made her laugh, the first smile he'd managed to crack all day.

"How do you feel about Lisa's response to your letter?" Megan asked him while he sat there, unsure how to respond.

"Uh..." He thought about that for a second. "Relieved."

"Why relieved?"

"Because I was expecting Cuddy to chew my ass out."

"And instead...?" Megan prompted, wanting more of an answer from him.

"And instead, we're finally on the same page. That doesn't happen very often."

Megan nodded. "Greg, yesterday you were extremely reluctant, to put it lightly, about writing Lisa a letter. How did it feel to actually put those words down on paper?"

"Frustrating. I never know if I'm going to end up saying the wrong thing. I have a history of that happening."

"Just frustrating?"

He thought for a moment. "Cathartic, too, I guess. I hate writing letters but... it was good to say what I wanted to say without any interruptions. Well, apart from the other neurotics in the common room who insisted on watching Jeopardy!."

Megan nodded again, ignoring his remark about 'the other neurotics'. "Greg, you seem a little bit more at ease. Is that because of giving Lisa the letter? It must feel good to be understood and listened to."

He drew in a breath and gave a single nod.

Megan turned to Cuddy. "How about you? How did it feel to read Greg's thoughts?" She paused and then added, "How do you feel about maybe doing the same thing? Writing Greg a letter that tells him everything you want him to understand and listen to?"

"This is good," Cuddy said, giving the pages of the letter a little shake. "House doesn't like to talk, not about this kind of stuff. I'm always pushing him to talk and that only makes him angry because he doesn't like being pushed either. He's getting better at it but I still feel like I don't really know what's going on in his head."

There had been far too many instances of one--or both of them--not knowing what the other was really thinking. They ended up guessing and sometimes their guesses were completely wrong. Those erroneous assumptions put them at odds and they ended up fighting over things that quite possibly could've been resolved more easily if they'd known the truth.

She got so incredibly frustrated at the way he shut her out of his thoughts and feelings that she probably pushed him at times when she shouldn't. By the same token, there were probably times when she should have pushed him and didn't. Then she got frustrated with herself because she seemed to get it wrong so often.

"I don't know that we're on the same page yet, not about a lot of issues. More like we're on the same page about not being on the same page. But this is a start, right?" she said, glancing at Megan for confirmation. She looked back to House then, hoping he'd understand she wasn't criticizing him. She was simply trying to sum up where they stood at the moment, and that where they stood was a good place to more forward from.

"As far as writing a letter myself...." It was if Megan was offering her a chance to do exactly what she was always trying to do--get House to listen to her. Of course she wasn't going to say no to that. "Well, if I wrote everything I want him to understand, it could end up being a book." She gave House a rueful smile because she knew he probably expected--even dreaded--that possibility. He knew she had a lot she wanted to say, a lot she wanted him to hear. Now that she had a captive audience--so to speak--she was going to use the opportunity but she didn't want to abuse it.

"I won't do that, though," she promised him. "I'll stick to a few things that are important to me. Things that are important for us. And if that doesn't make your head explode, we can move on to other things."

House frowned. Not on the same page? On the same page about not being on the same page? "But..." he began.

Megan was nodding at Cuddy's question about this being a start because it definitely was a start. If House felt less isolated and alienated, more connected to people who mattered to him and to whom he mattered, that would help his recovery immensely. "Greg," she interrupted him. "Let Lisa speak. It's important to hear what she has to say."

House shot Megan an annoyed look but he did as he was told. Maybe he was simplifying things way too much but he thought he'd covered a lot of issues in his letter. He'd hoped the letter would address everything and Cuddy would understand where he was coming from at last and things would be better.

He raised his brows in mild confusion when she said that if she wrote him everything it would be a book. What was she saying? She had way more issues with him than he had with her? His letter had only been five pages. "Gee, that sounds exciting," he said dryly when she said about his head exploding.

Megan looked at him. "You don't sound very happy about what Lisa said," she observed.

"What gave you that idea? I'm ecstatic," he replied, sarcastic.

She ignored his deflection. "What has upset you about Lisa's response?"

"I'm not upset."

"What are you feeling, then?"

House crossed his arms over his chest. He jiggled his good leg and glanced at Cuddy. "I knew Cuddy had a lot to say, but I didn't know she had that much to say."

"That surprises you?" Megan asked.

"Wouldn't it surprise you?"

"It's not my relationship, Greg. I can't make a comment on that." She leaned forward. "I understand it's difficult to hear Lisa has so much she wants to say to you. But it seems pretty reasonable to me that she's offering to address the issues in manageable sizes instead of one huge chunk. Tell me what you find stressful about knowing she has a lot she wants to say."

"The fact that she has a lot to say," he retorted.

"And why does that stress you?"

"Because!" he exclaimed. "She has that many issues with me?!"

"She didn't say that," Megan pointed out. "Lisa's exact words were 'things that are important to me'. Think about that phrase. She's not accusing you of anything, Greg. She's pointing out that she has things she wants to talk about and all she wants you to do is listen, just like she listened to you and what you had to say in your letter."

House shifted on the chair restlessly.

"You're very quick to jump to the defensive," Megan observed.

"So's she," he replied, pointing at Cuddy.

"Does she?" Megan raised her brows at House when he looked at her. "Obviously, I don't know Lisa as well as you do - I've only met her for the first time today. But so far, she's demonstrated to me that she's reasonable and easy to reason with."

"Are you saying I'm not?"

"No, I'm not. That's not what I'm saying." She motioned to him. "It's interesting that's your immediate reaction and assumption, however."

"I'm probably going to regret asking this, but how is it interesting?"

"It's interesting because the way in which people react and respond to others says a great deal about themselves, more than it does about the person they're reacting to." She paused to let him say something if he wanted to; she pressed on when he seemed to have nothing to respond with. "Do you think it might be possible that the reason Lisa reacts defensively is because you react defensively?"

"So, this is my fault," he surmised in an accusing tone.

"No," Megan said firmly. She sighed, getting slightly frustrated. "Greg, think about how you're responding right now. Tell me why you're interpreting what I'm saying as an attack."

"You just told me that you think Cuddy reacts defensively because I do. Ergo, it's my fault."

Megan shook her head. "No. I'm asking you to think about your reaction. Your feelings. May I make an observation you probably won't like?"

"What if I say no? You're probably going to tell me anyway, right?"

"I think you react the way you do because you're insecure. You confessed to not liking yourself - are you afraid that Lisa is telling you she doesn't love you when she criticises you?"

"Of course that's what I'm afraid of," he snapped immediately. The moment the words were out of his mouth, he clenched his jaw and looked at Cuddy.

"But it's very obvious to me that Lisa loves you deeply," Megan said, her tone gentler. "Do you think it says more about Lisa or more about you how you feel? That may sound like a silly question but think about it." She paused. "Do you think it's possible you're reacting strongly to the fact that Lisa has a lot of things she wants to say to you because you're aware of all the issues you need to work through?"

"I know I have a lot of issues I have to work through," he shot back.

Megan nodded encouragingly. "You do. And you deserve to give yourself credit for the fact that you are acknowledging that." She gestured to Cuddy. "Lisa's issues are not your issues, you realise. I'm not saying those issues have nothing to do with you, but I am saying that what she feels and thinks belong to her. They don't belong to you. The only job you have to do is listen to her when she wants to express her thoughts and feelings."

She turned to Cuddy. "Am I making sense?"

Cuddy stared at House, a stunned expression on her face. She didn't understand where his anger was coming from. She honestly didn't think she'd said anything negative. She'd admitted they had a long way to go but she was just being honest. They did have a lot of work to do, and he knew it. She didn't understand why he took it as an attack on him.

"I didn't say that," Cuddy insisted when he started going on about how she had so many issues with him. She couldn't say any more, though, because Megan once again stepped in. Cuddy was tempted to tell her butt out and let her talk to House directly. Fortunately, she had enough sense to realize that wasn't a good idea. She stayed silent although she was growing increasingly frustrated and upset.

"Yes, of course," she said curtly when Megan asked if she understood. "I never...and he knows...." Cuddy lifted her hand to her forehead, shading her eyes as she took a few deep breaths. She felt that pressure building, the pressure that made her want to yell or scream or tear her hair out, anything to relieve the pressure. She fought it back, though, holding it inside.

"I think we should forget about me writing a letter," she said in a low voice. She shouldn't let him upset her. She shouldn't let this hurt her. It was nothing new. It was typical House behavior and she shouldn't get her hopes up that was going to change in any significant way, not any time soon.

"I don't think it's a good idea," she continued, dropping her hand to her stomach although she kept her gaze directed toward the floor. "Not until he stops seeing me as the enemy."

"I don't see you as an enemy," House exclaimed, but even as the words were out of his mouth he realised how wrong he was. He threw his hands up and looked away.

Megan had been giving Cuddy an assessing look but when House spoke, she turned her attention to him. "You don't?" she pressed.

House looked at her sharply. He opened his mouth, ready to argue, but then looked away again with a relenting sigh. He remembered the time he'd confessed to Wilson that he didn't want to treat Cuddy like an enemy, the way he'd done to Stacy, and had told Wilson he was afraid he was doing the same thing. Just like he was doing now. He shrugged. "Maybe," he admitted in a murmur.

"Is Lisa your enemy or is she on your side, like we talked about?" Megan asked. It seemed like a stupidly simple question but the question wasn't asked for her benefit. It was for his benefit, to get him to talk his feelings out and to think rationally about his responses.

House refused to respond. He knew the answer. He didn't want to admit he was wrong - he'd done more than enough admitting of that in today's session.

When it became apparent House wasn't going to respond, Megan turned to Cuddy. "It probably seems a bit jolting to you to be experiencing Greg's rapid mood swings," she said. "Though, he's been unwell for a quite of a number of months, so perhaps you're used to them. I'm not sure how much you've read up on PTSD or how familiar you are with it as a doctor, but one of the major symptoms of PTSD is severe mood swings, along with heightened paranoia of others, struggles with relationships, major depression, physical symptoms such as jumpiness, nightmares..."

She ticked the symptoms off with her fingers as she spoke. "It's very difficult for a person suffering PTSD to control their reactions because the trauma that they've experienced has manifested in a way that affects their mental processing. Coupled with feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness that comes with depression..." She gestured to House. "This is largely why Greg reacts to you the way he does. And that's one of the things he and I are working on in therapy, with the aid of medication: so he can learn ways to better manage his mood and his responses to others, to cope and move past the trauma. Because while the trauma that happened to him is eight or more months in the past, for Greg it's still in the present."

She gave Cuddy a small, encouraging smile, hoping she'd understand what she was saying. "Obviously, it's your decision if you want to write it or not," she continued. "But I actually think writing that letter would be a good thing. It's good because you would have had time to think about what you want to say and you can say it without interruption, and it may actually help Greg understand your feelings if they're written down in concise order. There won't be any explosive emotions, no explosive arguments...

"I strongly urge you to reconsider my suggestion. It's obvious that this is affecting you, too, and you need to be able to work through it as well. The best way you can do that is to find a way to communicate with Greg, and if writing letters is the only way for now, then so be it. It's a start, just like you said."

Edited at 2009-08-05 03:00 am (UTC)

"I know that. I do," Cuddy murmured. She lifted her hands in a helpless little wave before letting them drop to the arms of the chair again. "It's just.... It's exhausting. It's completely and utterly exhausting to always have to watch everything I say or do, to never know how he's going to react from one moment to the next. I feel like I have to keep all my feelings bottled up inside because they're going to make him angry or depressed. Only I can't because no one can keep everything inside."

Cuddy pushed up from her chair suddenly, or as suddenly as she could maneuver her bulk out of the chair. She turned away and took a few steps, needing a moment to compose herself. She wiped her hand harshly over her eyes and sniffed a couple of times. She refused to lose control. Tears weren't going to help anything and she hadn't come here today to make things worse. Besides, if she needed to cry, she could do it when she got home. It wasn't like there'd be anyone there to be bothered by it.

"I'm sorry," she murmured. She took another deep breath before she turned back to face Megan and House, her expression tightly controlled. "This is supposed to be about House, not me. And if you think writing a letter will help, then I'll do it." She wasn't sure she'd want to be around when House read the letter but she supposed she have to let him, and Megan, make that decision.

Megan nodded sympathetically as Cuddy talked. "It is exhausting," she agreed. "It's very exhausting. Being the partner of someone going through something as troubling as Greg is very hard."

She stopped talking when Cuddy suddenly stood up. She could see Cuddy needed a moment to herself, so Megan gave her that respect. She looked over at House instead. He had his chin resting against his knuckles, watching Cuddy walk across the room. He looked away when he realised Megan was looking at him. He'd listened to her explanation of PTSD and while he identified with everything she'd said, and had had it explained to him by Megan herself in previous therapy sessions, he didn't feel any better knowing that he'd hurt Cuddy regardless.

He didn't know what to say to Cuddy now, either. Megan could see he was feeling guilty and she wanted to explain to him that guilt wasn't going to make anyone feel any better. But then Cuddy was turning back to her and speaking.

"You have nothing to be sorry about," she assured Cuddy with a small smile. "And this is about you. This affects you just as much as it affects Greg, even if you're not the person suffering what he's going through. That's why I thought it was important that you come in today."

She motioned for Cuddy to resume her seat because she had something else to suggest to Cuddy. Once she had sat back down, Megan turned more towards her. "How would you feel about attending a support group for partners of those going through things like what Greg is going through?" she asked. "A lot of the times, all the focus is put on the patient and getting the patient better. Oftentimes, the partner of the patient, the family members, are forgotten. When I say forgotten, I mean people forget that this impacts the patient's loved ones in a big way. You said that you can't keep everything inside and that's true. And maybe being in the company of others who'd understand what you're going through would help. You'd be able to talk out your feelings with others who'd understand what you're going through in their own way.

"We run a support programme here once a week, on Thursday nights. It starts at about 7.30, goes for about an hour. It's led by one of the clinical psychologists who work here. Most people turn up at around 7 for coffee and to have casual chat beforehand, to have time to relax. Do you feel that would be something you might be interested in attending?"

Edited at 2009-08-05 04:00 am (UTC)

Cuddy took her seat stiffly, still feeling tense and unsettled. Objectively she knew mental illness--well, any kind of illness really--put a strain on the family and friends of the patient. House didn't exist in a vacuum. Everything he did affected her, affected Wilson, his fellows. It was a ripple effect; every wave House caused spread around him. The waves that hit her weren't as strong as the ones he felt but they could still knock her off balance.

"I don't know," she said softly when Megan suggested a support group. The only person Cuddy could talk to was Wilson because he was the only one who knew where House was and what he was doing. She did talk to him, too, but they were both sort of fumbling around, unable to do more than simply provide an ear for each other.

"I mean, it's probably a good idea. I'm just not sure about having to make the round trip out here at night."

If the meeting didn't start until 7:30, it would likely be late when it got over. She'd be driving alone, every week more heavily pregnant and every week more tired. Making the effort to visit the hospital for House's sake was one thing. She intended to do her best to be there when he wanted her. Doing it for herself, though, didn't seem worth the effort.

"Could you give me the information? And I'll check around for something a little closer to home." She wasn't sure how much she'd get out of a support group. She tended to be fairly reserved with strangers. Not as much as House but she still wasn't one to go crying on any available shoulder. Still, if there was a chance it could help, if it could help her sort out her issues so she didn't have to drag them into her time with House, then it was worth giving it a shot.

She turned to face House then. "And don't start thinking this is your fault or that I'm blaming you. It's my choice to be with you. Right now, that means I'm also choosing to deal with this stuff. And the reality is, some days, I'm not going to deal well with it. That doesn't mean I don't love you. It just means I'm not as strong as I'd like to be."

"Of course," Megan replied. She understood Cuddy's concern about driving all the way out here, especially heavily pregnant. There'd been no harm in suggesting it, though, and when Cuddy said about wanting more information Megan immediately rolled her chair back to her desk to find a pamphlet.

House still didn't know where to look. Once again, he'd reacted without thinking, and right in front of Megan, and now felt like disappearing into the floor out of shame. He rolled his eyes as she talked, though it wasn't at her. He was rolling his eyes at how awkward he felt. He wished he could get something right. He almost had, with the letter he wrote. But then he'd opened his big mouth.

He really hadn't liked it when Megan talked about him and his 'condition' like he wasn't in the room. But she probably explained it better than he could. Or, at the very least, she could explain it without getting Cuddy angry or upset.

He looked over at Megan who was still by her desk in pursuit of a pamphlet, though her attention was on him and Cuddy. He then looked away again, churning Cuddy's words over in his head. He gave his forehead a rub before glancing down at where his cane was. He reached down for it and picked it up, stood up from his seat and it looked like he was about to walk out of the room.

But instead of walking to the door, he limped slowly over to Cuddy. He leaned over to brace his hand on the arm of her chair and awkwardly crouched down to get on his knees. He was aware of Megan's eyes on him but he adamantly refused to acknowledge her. He could've stayed seated in his chair to tell Cuddy what he wanted to say but he wanted to be within reach of her while he said it.

"When I said in my letter that you're strong, I wasn't just saying that," he said, murmuring. He didn't really want Megan to hear. He knew she would anyway, but keeping his voice low made him feel like he was having a private conversation with Cuddy.

"This whole thing isn't easy. I blame you for blaming me because... because it's not easy facing up to this stuff. I've never really had to." He placed his hand on her knee and looked into her eyes. "Write me that letter. I want you to. Send it to me. In the mail. That way, if you're worried about how I might react..."

Well, she wouldn't have to worry about how he'd react if she sent it because he'd read it in his own time. That was probably for the best anyway because he'd want to read it on his own without anyone looking at him. He looked down to his hand on her knee, then back up at her face again.

"Talk to someone," he murmured. "Doesn't matter who. A support group. A counsellor. Just talk to someone. Don't be an idiot like me and refuse help. It's not worth it in the long run, doesn't matter how much you think you can cope on your own."

Cuddy relaxed slightly when Megan turned to her desk. It was a small relief to have the focus off her for a moment. She'd never intended to be the focus, certainly not because she had trouble coping with House's illness. She was there because it was supposed to help him get better. She wasn't sure what she'd do about the support group. She knew it was probably a good idea and she'd give it a try. She did need someone to talk to and Wilson, as much as he loved to rescue damsels in distress, couldn't and shouldn't have to provide her sole support.

House got up from his chair then and Cuddy looked up at him, worried he was going to leave. She couldn't let that happen. This was supposed to be for his benefit. If she was interfering in his therapy, then she would leave. He needed his treatment.

Her expression grew puzzled as he walked toward her and not away from her. Her eyes widened as he got down on his knees, something she knew wasn't easy for him to do. She shook her head faintly when he told her she was strong. She knew she was, usually, but some days she didn't feel very strong. Some days she simply didn't deal well with the stress of everything that was going on. She'd manage, though. She always did.

"Don't worry about me," she said quietly. "It's not just about you even. I'm trying to stay on top of things at work and I'm tired from lugging Junior around. It all piles up until I feel like I can't see my way through it."

She merely nodded when he told her to write the letter. Megan had already said it would be beneficial so she'd do it. Mailing it to him seemed like the best solution, though, because she knew she'd get upset if he reacted badly to what she wrote. If he could work through his reaction before speaking to her, it would probably go more smoothly when they did speak.

She leaned forward and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. She pressed her cheek against his, taking a moment to simply feel him, the worn cotton of his shirt under her fingers, the scratch of his beard against her cheek. She didn't miss chaos their relationship seemed to create but god, she missed him.

"I love you," she whispered into his ear. "I don't always do it well but I do love you. I just want you to get well and come home."

"All the more reason to talk to someone," he replied, his voice still low. "Or do something. You know I'm serious when I actually agree with someone, and I agree with Dr. Lecter that you should talk to someone."

The truth was being trapped in his own situation, unable to see past himself especially since coming to the hospital, had caused him to not even think of factors like Cuddy struggling with work and pregnancy on top of everything else. Maybe that was stupid of him. Maybe he should have taken something so obvious into consideration. But he hadn't. In the past two weeks, his world had narrowed right down to this hospital and his own introspection about where he was at in life.

He let Cuddy pull him to her and reached a hand up to clutch her upper arm while she pressed her cheek to his and whispered by his ear. He squeezed her arm. He already felt guilty for going off at Cuddy just before. He felt even guiltier now she'd told him just how hard she was finding it to cope with the other stress factors she was struggling with.

"I know," he whispered back. "I want to come home, too. More than anything." He turned his head and pressed his lips to her cheek. "I love you," he whispered against it.

Megan was quietly watching the whole time. She'd aborted looking for the pamphlet for the time being not just to observe but to let House and Cuddy say whatever they needed to say to each other without distraction. It was moving, to say the least, to see them as they were - very much in love with each other but weighed down with baggage and problems.

House pulled away from Cuddy and lightly kissed her on the lips before he struggled to his feet to return to his seat. Kneeling put too much strain on his bad leg if he stayed on his knees for too long. Megan chose the moment to continue looking for the pamphlet. She found one stacked in one of the many folder compartments lined along the shelf above her desk and she rolled her chair back to House and Cuddy with the pamphlet clutched in her hand.

"Here's some information," she said to Cuddy, handing it over to her. "It just gives some information about what the support group covers, who runs it, what the aim of the group is. Like you said, and it's completely understandable, coming out all this way while heavily pregnant is a big burden and would be very tiring. But maybe have a look through that pamphlet to get more of an idea of what partner support is all about, and maybe you'll be able to find something or someone closer to home. I really do think it's important you get some support somewhere. You have a lot on your plate. And think about it like this: just like Greg needs to be able to help himself before he can help with your relationship, you need to be kind to yourself and find your own support network before you can be the support that Greg needs."

She gave Cuddy a hopeful smile. She then crossed her legs. "May I just make an outsider's observation before we continue?" she said, gesturing to both House and Cuddy. "There's an immense amount of love between you both. I was watching you both just now and it was really lovely to see the way you both interact with each other, even if this is a rather stressful situation for you both to be in. It's really hopeful to see that, while this is a really difficult time for you, you still have that connection with each other."

She looked at Cuddy. "This is a bit of a sidetrack question but I think it's an important one to address, and it might even be something you'll talk about in your letter to Greg if you do decide to write it. But how do you view your relationship with Greg? Start with the good things."

Cuddy drew her hand lightly across his cheek as House pulled back and struggled to his feet. She felt a bit calmer now. Having an opportunity to hold him for a minute and reaffirm that, despite everything, they still loved each other, soothed her frazzled nerves. She was still overwhelmed, feeling the pressure of all the problems that had to be solved, but just that simple moment of connection gave her an emotional boost and made her feel like she was capable of continuing to fight for them.

"Thank you," she said, accepting the pamphlet from Megan. She skimmed the contents quickly before tucking it beside her in the chair. Even if she found something closer to home--and she surely could--this information would help her understand and prepare. She knew what happened in support groups, of course, but she'd never been involved in one. Being who she was, she wanted to know as much as possible before she jumped right in.

"I will find something," she said, looking at House, promising him she'd look after herself. Objectively, she knew she had take care of herself in order to be able to take care of everything else. She also wanted to make sure he didn't worry about her because he needed to devote his energy to his own recovery.

"How...? Um...." She was momentarily nonplussed. Megan certainly had a knack for throwing curve balls. And this was such a broad question she hardly knew where to begin.

"Well...I can't imagine my life without him. Seriously. I've known him since college. One way or another he's always been there." She crossed her hands over her belly as she tried to organize her thoughts. "I've always admired his intelligence, naturally, but I think I was really attracted to his attitude. Sounds crazy, I know, because he really is an ass. But he was always so sure of himself. Nothing intimidated him. He never hesitated to tell his professors they were idiots. What made it okay was that he was always right. And they were idiots.

"I guess that's something I take from him," she said with faintly embarrassed shrug. "Not that I want to be like him but.... I'm intelligent. I'm a hard worker, even ambitious. I don't have the courage to take chances, though. I mean, when I take a chance, it's all been carefully calculated so it's not really a risk. He motivates me to believe in myself more and be willing to act on that belief. And I think that's a good thing to have from a partner."

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