House stared up at the ceiling of the dark bedroom. It was late, or early depending on how you looked at it, but he couldn't sleep. His leg spasmed and tightened under his hand and House suck in a deep breath. Beside him, Cuddy stirred slightly, but didn't wake.
House slowly sat up. This pain wasn't going away, and he was determined not to wake Cuddy. He'd dealt with his pain on his own for years. Besides, he didn't want her to see him like this; he didn't want pity from anyone, but especially not her.
He shuffled slowly across the room, biting down hard on his lip to prevent himself crying out as the pain flared. He closed the door softly behind himself and then began the treacherous journey down the stairs. Breathing heavily by the time he reached the bottom, House collapsed on the couch. He stuffed the corner of a throw pillow in his mouth, groaning aloud as he vigorously massaged his thigh.
He wasn't sure how long he lied there before he felt a hand on his shoulder. House jumped in surprise.
"Sorry, sorry, it's just me," Cuddy said softly.
House moved the pillow he was holding so it covered his leg. She didn't need to see it.
"How long have you been down here?" Cuddy asked.
"No clue," House answered honestly, "Did I wake you up?"
"No," she shook her head, "I woke up and you were gone. I was worried."
"Think I did a runner in the middle of the night?"
"Well your pants were still on my floor so I figured the odds were good you were still in the house," she smiled gently at him, concern clear in her eyes. "How bad is it?"
"I'm fine," House said right away.
"House," Cuddy placed her hand on his cheek, "You can tell me the truth, I want to help."
House was quiet for a moment, "You should always have to look after me."
"You're allowed to accept help," Cuddy said, "I know it's hard for you, especially with your leg, and I don't want to push you. But it's okay to share your pain. That's what people do when they love each other. You take care of me and I take care of you. Please, let me help."
He hesitated another moment before removing the pillow,
Cuddy could clearly see the muscle tightening and clenching.
"May I?" she asked, her hand hovering over the scar.
House nodded and she slowly started massaging the mangled leg. He sucked in a breath and closed his eyes, tipping his head back as she worked.
"Any better?" she asked after a while.
"Bit," He nodded truthfully. It still hurt like hell and he knew it would come back full force soon, but some of the tension had eased off a bit for now. Maybe even enough he could get some more sleep.
"Good," she said, "You don't have to hide stuff like this from me, okay? If you're in pain, I want you to tell me. You don't have to deal with this stuff alone anymore."
House nodded, not meeting her eyes for a moment.
"I'll try," he said.
Cuddy smiled, that was more than she'd been expecting.
"Thank you," she said, "Think you're up to going back to bed?"
"Might need some help with the stairs," he admitted.
She stood immediately and held out her hand. He took it and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, leaning slightly against her as they made their way slowly back up the stairs.
They made it to the top and were heading to Cuddy's bedroom when Rachel stepped out of the bathroom. All three stopped and Rachel's gaze drifted to House's leg. He shifted, trying to hide it from her view.
"Rachel, honey, go back to your bed, okay? I'll com tuck you back in in a minute," Cuddy said gently.
Rachel didn't move right away, her gaze flicking back and forth between House's face and his leg.
"Rachel, back to bed," Cuddy said.
"What happened to your leg?" Rachel asked, completely ignoring her mother.
"Rachel," Cuddy said warningly.
"It's fine," House murmured to her, and Cuddy glanced at him in surprise. He hated talking about his leg, he'd just proved that downstairs, but he'd said he would try, so…
She gestured for Rachel to follow them, and they proceeded into Cuddy's bedroom. She helped House settled back against the headboard as Rachel climbed onto the bed. She sat on her knees and faced him.
"What happened to your leg?" she asked again.
House looked at her for a moment. He'd said it was fine, but now he was faced with actually talking to her… How do you explain and infarction to a four-year-old?
"It got hurt, a long time ago," Cuddy supplied. She could see the uncertainty on his face as he tried to figure out how to explain.
House nodded at her to go on.
"House went to the hospital because his leg was hurt," she explained, "And to make him better, the doctors had to do an operation and they took some of the muscles out of hs leg."
"Did it hurt?" Rachel asked, looking at House with wide eyes.
"Yeah, it did," he nodded.
She looked at his scar thoughtfully for a moment.
"Does it still hurt?" she asked. She looked as she asked which confused House greatly.
"Sometimes, yeah," he nodded again. He didn't want to scare her, but he also wasn't going to lie to her about this. Cuddy had said if they were going to work, they needed to be honest. And that meant Rachel needed to understand that, sometimes, House was in pain.
"I don't want you to hurt," she said sadly, tears gathering in her eyes.
House looked helplessly at Cuddy. He had been expecting disgust or fear, he didn't expect her to be upset.
"Oh honey," Cuddy gathered the little girl in her arms. "I know you don't want House to hurt, I don't like it when he hurts either." She met House's eyes as she spoke.
"Unfortunately, sometimes people we love do hurt and we can't always stop that. What we can do is try to make things a little easier for House when he's hurting, or support him when he needs it."
House sat silently as Cuddy explained all this to her daughter. Normally he would hate someone talking about him like this, but he knew there was no way he'd be able to explain this to Rachel properly.
"I know this might be confusing so if you have any questions you can ask, okay?" Cuddy said.
Rachel thought for a moment before she climbed off the bed and ran out of the room. She returned a moment later, climbing over to sit on House's good leg, and held out both of her hands.
"Which one?" she asked.
He stared down at her hands, confused for a moment. He looked at the girl who was staring at him with a look of utmost seriousness on her face. He pointed to her left hand, and she nodded. House sat quietly as she pulled the package open and placed the Elmo band-aid over his scar. She bent down and pressed a kiss to the top of the band-aid.
"Mommy always give me a band-aid and a kiss when I'm hurt," she explained, "Did it help your leg?"
House swallowed around the unexpected lump in his throat and glanced at Cuddy who had her own tears gathering.
"Yeah," he nodded, swallowing again, "Thanks Rach."
She smiled widely and then yawned.
"Alright sweet girl, time to get back to bed," Cuddy told her, "Say goodnight to House."
"Night House," Rachel leaned forward and hugged him tightly, surprising him yet again.
"Goodnight, Rachel." House patted her slightly awkwardly on the back, but the girl didn't seem to notice as she hopped off the bed and took her mother's hand.
House remained where he was as he waited for Cuddy to return, going over everything that had occurred tonight. He was so used to shutting people out and dealing with things – dealing with his pain – on his own. The only one who really stuck around was Wilson and that was only cause he was too stupid to run for the hills any of the times House tried to chase him off. But this…
He looked down at the tiny child-sized band-aid, the bright colours standing out in stark contrast to the jagged scar and mangled flesh of his thigh.
"You okay?" Cuddy asked, crawling back into bed and leaning against his side.
"Yeah," he nodded, "Doesn't hurt anymore."
I'm still annoyed at what they did with House and Cuddy, I loved the two of them together and I would have loved to see House and Rachel bonding more
Thanks for reading!