I don’t own House or BTVS. No infringement is intended. Sadly, no profit will be made from this either.
The instant House's comment reached her, every single cell in her body stopped dead for a second. Buffy stood motionless, back still turned to the room, yet everyone could feel the temperature literally drop by several degrees.
When Buffy turned around her face set in stone, all of the fellows instinctively moved their chairs further into the room.
Away from her.
Away from the truly chill-inspiring look in her eyes.
Away from the coldness streaming from them and away from the raw power spiralling off of her, chilling all of them to the bone.
House, on the other hand, was both fascinated and, yes, maybe a little
scared, by the woman walking, no, stalking predator-like, towards him. She was the cold-blooded killer, he the prey that had been caught in the headlight. Literally. Even if he'd wanted to, which in all earnest he started to do, he was unable to move or even just look away from her.
With every step Buffy came closer it felt like the temperature around him dropped even more. Somewhere, in the part of his mind that was overlooking the unfolding scene with a professional detachment, he all but expected visible puffs of air coming out of his mouth any moment now.
Buffy, herself, was hurting. Oh so much hurting inside. Just as she had the day Mark died. And the days and weeks after.
Coming to Princeton-Plainsboro had been really good for her, something she only truly realised now. Especially the interaction with the man in front of her had helped her more than any conventional therapy could have. Even the squabbles with her supervisor had been good for regaining her inner strength.
Not to mention the knowledge of her biological mother being present, or the glimpses she got of her so far. Buffy might not have been ready to confront her directly yet, but she had been on a good way. Building up the courage to reveal her identity to her mother.
Now, just one stupid careless sentence later, she found herself at the beginning again. Even now, with the Slayer haven taken complete control of her body, she could feel the depression creeping back into all the places she'd managed to chase it out of during the last couple of months. Once more, the Slayer- and Buffy-parts of her very being were almost completely detached from each other.
And in some twisted way, it was even quite interesting for Buffy to watch herself as the Slayer.
Watch herself intimidating a whole room, causing real fear just by facing them.
See them subconsciously move away from her.
Smell their fear.
Giggling, a sound that bordered precariously close to Drusilla's insane giggles, her detached self wondered if Brenda could smell it. Taste it. Get high
on it? That thought caused another giggle to hollowly echo in her head.
On the outside, however, Buffy's eyes remained hard and cold. Icy, even. Her whole body was tight as a string and all but screamed power. Raw eternal power.
Stopping in front of House, yep, even the infamous House gave off the age-old scent of fear, the Slayer started to speak quietly. "Never ever
mentioned my fiancée
Her voice might have been quiet, but the tone in which those few and simple words were spoken made them echo unnaturally loud throughout the room. Chilling everyone to their core once more.
Keeping her eyes locked with House's for another few seconds, the Slayer allowed him a tiny glimpse into what she really
was capable of doing. Gave him a teeny tiny glimpse of her true power.
When, to the further shock of the fellows, House visibly gulped, the Slayer released him from her stare and, ignoring everyone else, walked out of the room, conveniently forgetting to take the coldness with her.
Mentally and physically shaken himself, House was still the first to come out of his Buffy-induced stupor. Looking up the stairs, towards the other entrance of the room, he found his eyes locking onto another, just as stunned, pair. Ignoring his prospective fellows completely, he grabbed his cane and walked to Cuddy, leaving the room with her.
However, just as he was stepping out, he stopped as if remembering something important. "Go…" House looked at his still dazed fellows and pondered his options for a couple of second. "Go and find out everything you can about Tesla's robbery."
Shaking his head as if to clear the mists, Henry looked at House as if he'd just grown another head. "Tesla as in the 'Tesla was robbed' comment on the blackboard from a few weeks back?"
Nodding, House smiled slightly for the first time since Buffy had left the room. "You just earned the right to keep working on our patient."
"House!" Cuddy said annoyed, slapping his arm disapprovingly.
Rolling his eyes, he turned to his fellows once more. "Right, the mean Dean decided you're all going back to working on our patient. Which means you've got to work on Tesla in your free time."
Ignoring their cries of protest, House firmly shut the door behind him and followed Cuddy to her office.
Cuddy had been looking for House to ask about his current patient. Of course, as luck would have it, she reached the room just as House made his last comment. She watched in fascination as time seemed to stop for a couple of seconds.
Felt the cold creeping into the room, trying to reach out to her as well. Watched the cold quickly being followed by an unexplainable fear as Buffy had turned and taken in the room in just one quick and yet disturbing glance.
Somehow, it was strangely familiar. As if she'd seen something similar before. Possibly even experienced
it before. Yet, no matter how hard Cuddy tried, she couldn't place it. It was like the memory was sitting just out of her reach, mocking her as it kept on slipping through her grasp.
Instead, she stood and watched the events unfold with a creepy fascination. Buffy's presence seemed to grow with every step she took towards House. There and then, Cuddy wouldn't have been surprised if Buffy would have stabbed House right in the heart. However, with the tone her words were spoken in, she didn't even need a weapon to do any damage. Her voice was icy and hard enough on it's own. More importantly, House felt it too. She could see him twitch, even cringe at every single uttered word.
When his eyes had finally left the door Buffy had left minutes earlier, they met hers. And, probably most surprising in this whole situation, Cuddy could see some kind of regret in them. Not breaking their stare, she waited for him at the top of the stairs.
Then again, listening to the subsequent dialogue with his fellows, she wondered if she maybe had imagined his regret. Wishful thinking and all that. Leading House to her office, knowing he'd follow her at least out of curiosity, she vowed to find out.
Even the smallest possibility of House regretting something was too intriguing to not follow up.
Mentally shaking her head at that last thought, she – not for the first time either – wondered if she'd already spent too much time with him so that his curiosity was starting to rub off on her.
Quietly closing the door behind her, Cuddy followed House to her office couch. He was sitting on its edge, chin resting on his hands on top of his cane.
"I guess I don't have to tell you that this was way out of order. Even for you," Cuddy more stated than asked after several minutes of silence.
Snorting, House finally leaned back into the couch, putting his aching leg up onto the low table in front of it. "Well done, Sherlock."
"House," Cuddy sighed annoyed.
"What!?" House all but snarled back at her. "It's not like I can miraculously turn back time. Can you?"
Looking at him more closely, Cuddy said astonished, "You really are sorry." So she hadn't just imagined things. Despite him quickly reverting back to his old ways with his fellows.
Making a dismissive hand gesture, House went back to staring into the distance. Cuddy, knowing him well enough to realise he needed to muddle through his reasons for being, well, upset at his own actions, before sending him back to work, figured she might just as well get some work in. That way, at least one of them was doing what they were paid for.
Cuddy was in the middle of going over the data from the paediatricians ward again when she was startled by House suddenly speaking up. "What aren't you telling me?"
Her brain still working numbers, Cuddy had trouble catching up onto his train of thoughts. "Huh?"
"Summers." House clarified exasperatedly. "I might have been wrong in making that comment, but her reaction was way beyond normal."
Frowning, House was right after all, Cuddy slowly shook her head. "I don't know anything apart from what I told you already."
At Cuddy's answer House started to tap his fingers on his good leg. "Why not?"
Leaning back into her chair, Cuddy crossed her arms in front of her. "Because this is a hospital, not a police station?" she stated sarcastically. "It's called private life for a reason."
"Cuddy." Sighing, House rubbed his face tiredly. "Look. I know I was probably wrong. But … did you actually
see my fellows moving away from her? Did you actually
see the fear in their eyes?"
"Sure, I used my patented looking-around-corners look to see your fellows' eyes despite standing behind them," Cuddy said, rolling her eyes at him. But I could see it in your posture, she added in her mind. Which tells more than all the fear-eyed fellows in this hospital taken together.
House couldn't help himself but smiled at her droll announcement, nodding in acceptance.
Closing her eyes in an attempt to fend off the threatening headache, Cuddy continued wearily, "Just leave her alone."
Because she's none of your business. Because it's the right thing to do. Because you hurt her enough. Because ... because seeing her like this changed something. Visibly shaking her head to get rid of her ever growing confusion of just why it mattered so much, Cuddy replied almost too quietly for House to hear, saying only one word. "Because."
Furrowing his brows, House slowly stood up and limped to her desk while watching her closely. Reaching forward to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear, his hand stopped only inches away from its destination. Rolling his eyes at himself, he quickly retrieved his wayward appendage and tucked it safely into his pants pocket. "That's not a reason."
Looking up at hearing his voice so close to her when just moments before he'd still been seated on her office couch, Cuddy just glared at him. It's not like he was going to listen to her anyway.
"What about her references?" He suddenly asked.
That question threw her off. "You mean you haven't checked them out?"
Shaking his head in confirmation, House smirked down at her.
"That's a first." Brows furrowing in concentration, Cuddy watched him closely. "How do you know – what
do you know – about her boyfriend, then?"
House shrugged his shoulders impassively. "Got run over by a drunk driver shortly before Buffy came here." This wasn't all that interesting. Things like that happened all the time, after all. He was more interested in how such a small person like Buffy could radiate so much raw power.
"What!" Fuming, Cuddy forcefully stood up and walked around her desk. Stabbing him repeatedly with her index finger, her voice became dangerously low. "What the hell were you thinking?"
"Split lip, professionally covered black eye are commonly accepted signs of domestic violence."
Stabbing him for a final time, Cuddy threw his arms in the air in frustration. "She just lost her boyfriend. She is obviously still grieving. You can't just throw a comment like that at her!"
"And her eye and lip?" House asked just as heatedly.
Snorting, House walked towards the office door. Opening it, he turned his head towards Cuddy and added, voice dripping with venom, "Said the repeatedly beaten wife before ending up in a body bag."
Cuddy could only stare after him open mouthed. Sitting back down again she suddenly realised his comment was, in some very twisted way, his way of showing concern towards Buffy's injuries.
Leaning back, Cuddy laughed humourlessly. She'd only seen the young woman a few times, spoke to her even less, and yet Buffy Summers kept popping up on her radar more and more. And after today's, admittedly, fairly disturbing display in the lecture theatre – despite it being House's fault and only his – she won't have a choice but keep an eye on her.
She just couldn't lose the niggling feeling that she was missing something. Something big.
As luck would have it, Dr Marmine came up to Buffy shortly after she had left the small lecture theatre, asking why she wasn't with Dr House like he had asked her to do. Buffy simply ignored him and just went on to her already waiting patient. As one of Dr Marmine's rules was to not fight in front of any patients, bad for business and all that, he didn't followed her in. If it had been her shared office with any other of her co-workers present it would have clearly been a different matter.
When she was in-between patients, Buffy went onto the roof. On the way back after her first break there she found an 'Closed until further notice' sign on the door. Seemed like House really was sorry. In fact, she'd seen something in his eyes the very moment she locked onto them after his comment. This was probably the only reason the Slayer hadn't literally ripped him into pieces on the spot. Witnesses present or not.
If asked later she wouldn't be able to say how, but Buffy managed to go through the rest of her work day. True, her body was on autopilot, or rather Slayer-pilot, but she made it. If barely.
Luckily Kamil, Julian and Keelan, her immediate co-workers, sensed that something was off and Buffy craved nothing but space and solitude. Still, they managed to get her to drink and eat a few snippets between patients. They just were there whenever Buffy exited a room, a cup of water, a piece of fruit or similar in hand. As eating or drinking meant she couldn't talk, Buffy took the offered things and in return was left alone.
Glad that the day was finally over, Buffy took the quickest route home. All she wanted now was to crawl into bed and hide under the duvet. Forever. Or at least a very long time. The Slayer, however, had other things in mind. Being as mentally exhausted as Buffy was, she didn't put up much of a fight and, after changing, went for the nearest demon bar.
However, no matter how hard the Slayer tried, none of the physical pain inflicted on her by the sheer amount of demons she pissed of that night could reduce Buffy's mental pain. Could lessen the renewed heart ache for her fiancée.
If anything, House's action made the Princeton-Plainsboro area much securer for the next couple of weeks.
Not that Buffy went out every night, no, she'd only gone hunting for two days when the general demon population decided that whatever had the Slayer pissed off, they better let it settle down before they set another foot into Plainsboro again. Or Princeton. Or anywhere else close by. Naturally, the D.E. Moon travel agency for 'The Unusual Holiday' made a nice profit during that time.
--A/N: Just to explain how important reviews are for me: I wasn't completely happy with parts of this chapter. After reading your reviews, I rewrote big chunks of it and am much happier now! And figured that one of the things not right was that I had written House too nice! In other words, I really appreciate the time you are taking to review! Thanks.