I don’t own House or BTVS. No infringement is intended. Sadly, no profit will be made from this either.
Groaning, Buffy blindly grabbed for her annoyingly insistent ringing phone. Cuddling further into her couch, she snapped at whoever was calling. "What?"
"Yo, B. You alright?"
"Faith?" Buffy asked, finally fully awake from her, admittedly, unplanned Saturday afternoon nap. "Something wrong?"
"You've been asleep?" Faith asked curiously. "Something nasty going on I can help with?"
Blushing, glad Faith couldn't see her, Buffy sat up. "Nope. Nothing. Everything's fine. Great, actually." Stopping, Buffy took a deep breath to calm her, even to herself, too cheerful sounding voice.
"You sure?" Faith promptly asked unconvinced.
"Yeah. Slayed a Spandex-thingy on Tuesday, a few others baddies later on." Hearing Faith chuckle on the other end, Buffy furrowed her brow in confusion. "That's not that funny. You should have seen the Spandex demon. I'm still cringing just thinking about it's very, very wrong fashion sense."
Laughing, Faith asked, "Let me guess. Spandex suit?"
"Brightly coloured." Buffy shuddered just at the thought of it. "Bastard was snacking on the kids in the hospital."
"Ouch. Sounds nasty."
"Yeah. The bugger was quite uncooperative too. Trashed the room before he let me kill him," Buffy complained good naturedly. "And he ruined my outfit."
Faith snickered. "Bastard. How did the hospital explain the redecoration?"
"No idea. Took the kid to another room and he told everyone he's always been there." Buffy said, getting herself a drink from the kitchen. "Told him it'd be our secret."
"If it works. Anyway, you sure everything else is okay?" Faith asked, concern back in her voice.
Rolling her eyes, Buffy said, "Yes Mom!"
"Ouch." Faith commented.
This time it was Buffy who snickered. "All those teenage girls finally getting to you?"
"I'm sure Red put a spell on me to make me agree to this whole teaching thing," Faith complained. Though the fond tone it was said in clearly betrayed her words. "So, care to tell me why we suddenly have a whole bunch of demons from your area visiting with Clem?"
The glass with orange juice stopping in mid-air, Buffy asked confused, "Huh?"
"Couple of days ago Clem started to get more and more call from friends and acquaintances wanting to visit. Turns out their home turf got a bit too hot for them."
"And I repeat, huh?" Buffy said, putting the now empty glass onto the couch table.
Chuckling, Faith continued, "B, they're from the Princeton-Plainsboro area."
"There's some Big Bad
out here and nobody told me? That's just rude." Buffy pouted.
"Actually, it's more like a Small Good
." Faith chuckled. "Seems like you frightened the shit out of the demon population this last week."
"Who, me?" Buffy asked. One particular phrase finally reaching the appropriate parts of her brain, she pouted, "And Small Good
"Sorry, B." Faith audible smiled at her friend's pout.
"No you're not." Buffy kept on pouting. Knowing Faith couldn't see her didn't help either. "It's not my fault most people are too selfish to stop with the growing when I did," Buffy added grumbling.
"You're simply too modest, B," Faith commented helpfully.
Snickering again, Faith became more serious again. "So what brought on that not so little rampage of yours?"
Sighing, Buffy decided she might just as well tell Faith. She wouldn't judge her or come over to check up on her if Buffy didn't want to. Especially as she'd already dealt with the aftermath and was feeling much more balanced again. So, getting comfortable once more, Buffy told Faith about the confrontation with House and her little sweep through Princeton-Plainsboro's underworld.
And, long after finishing her conversation, Buffy discovered that she liked the idea of demons, good and bad, hiding from her. Okay, it wasn't a surprise. But it was nice to actually hear it spoken out loud.
So, just to keep her momentum going, she kept on doing thorough patrols throughout the weekend. Besides, being mean and scary was so much more fun when you were actually aware of it.
On Monday, five days after the incident, House was paying Coma Guy another visit. It was General Hospital time.
He'd just settled down, feet up high on Coma Guy's bed, when Buffy strolled in. Like she hadn't ignored him for the better part of a week.
Shocked, to say the least, House was about to comment when a look into her eyes stopped him short. Gone were the cold eyes of a predator on the hunt but he could still the remnants of the pain he knew he'd caused. Yes, he'd only gotten a glimpse of that before the expression in Buffy's eyes became neutral once more, but he was also pretty sure she allowed him to see it on purpose.
So, for once, he refrained from commenting on the cut on her lip. The one that had wandered from top lip to bottom lip and was now matching his own injury he'd receive a couple of days ago. Instead, he took his clues from her actions and stood up.
Turning away, Buffy took towels and a couple of bottles out of the bag she brought with her. When she looked at House again, he'd taken his jeans off and, having pulled over another chair, had put his injured leg up.
Taking the bigger towel, Buffy carefully lifted his leg and put it under it. Squirting some kind of oil onto her hands, she started to work the muscles around his scar.
House watched in fascinating how her small but powerful hands kneaded the tense muscles. Or whatever was left of them. At the same time she managed to not only ignore him and his staring at her completely but not once did she end up obscuring his view of the television. Not that he really watched it. Observing Buffy was way more interesting. Besides, he'd programmed his TiVo at home anyway. For emergencies like this, of course.
Next to the once more split lip, though he wondered briefly why he couldn’t see any remnants of the other cut, he counted several more scratches and bruises on her body. One time her top had slipped up a bit while she was leaning over his leg and he could see the outlines of a nasty looking bruise appearing just under the hem of her shirt. Similar, when she rolled up the sleeves of her shirt, he could see four parallel lines of nasty looking scratches starting. Although, realising she'd rolled up her shirt too far, Buffy quickly pulled it down again.
Throughout their rather unconventional physiotherapy session the questions were sitting on top of his tongue. But one glance from Buffy, a clear warning written in those half-closed eyes, prevented him from speaking. Which was another thing puzzling him. Because, really, since when did he listen to hidden or not so hidden warnings? Weird.
Finally accepting that their wouldn’t be any talk today, House watched the final part of General Hospital while thinking back on his call to Rome. He'd finally managed to get the contact details for her references from her file and, naturally, hadn’t wasted anymore time and called them. The hospital could afford the occasional international call after all.
First thing he had learned was that Buffy was well liked and obviously knew what she was doing. Secondly, and more interesting to him, she'd hooked up with on of the course tutors quite early on. Naughty girl. And they'd been engaged. Ops. Interestingly, he'd been living in Rome for several years and never spoke of his family back here. Or showed any interest in moving back to the States. Yet, shortly after Buffy finished her course and had asked for references to apply to the program here at Princeton-Plainsboro, he'd started to hint that he was looking into leaving Italy too.
So, whatever the reason for Buffy to come here, he didn’t believe in coincidence or such nonsense after all, had nothing to do with her boyfriend. Well, fiancée. Also, as far as he could find out from the hospital in Rome – he'd managed to charm one of the references' secretary into revealing all the gossip she knew without her realising it – Buffy's family was in Rome as well. Or at least in Europe. So why would she want to come back to the States? To be closer to her mother's grave couldn’t be it. Seeing as it was on the bottom of what was now called Lake Sunnydale.
That was another remarkable connection. How could an entire town just be swallowed into a sinkhole? Without any prior warning? Because the possibility of a town being swallowed up would have made it on the national news. No questions asked. Stupid humanity and their often hypocritical wish to help others in need. They'd probably have stumbled over themselves just to get there first and help those poor souls.
Instead they only heard about it after the act. Yet the people from Sunnydale itself had left beforehand. Only they couldn't tell why. They just felt like leaving one morning and did it. What kind of rubbish was that?
After the calls to Italy he'd snooped around the hospitals in the area and, unsurprisingly, found out Buffy's fiancée had indeed applied for jobs in several of them. Including Princeton-Plainsboro. And apparently rather successful too.
Oblivious to House's train of thoughts Buffy carefully worked on his leg. She'd contemplated finding him for the past days, but just couldn't face him. Luckily he must have talked to Dr Marmine, as he'd left her alone after informing her that Dr House had agreed for her to look after his leg. For now. Dr Marmine didn't seem happy about it. Not that she cared or anything as long as he left her to work in peace.
Then Faith had called and for the first time Buffy had actually talked about the downward spiral House's comment had sent her on. And, after Faith offered to come and play a few rounds with the doctor, Buffy had admitted that in the end she actually liked House. Despite everything that happened. Besides, after beating up enough demons and having time to think everything through, she admitted that the initial shock had worn off pretty fast and she wasn't that much worse for wear. So, this morning, she made the decision to hunt House down. Although with no intention of letting him off the hook easily.
What had left her more unsettled though was the fact that Lisa Cuddy seemed to watch her closely whenever their path crossed. She'd even pulled one of the ER doctors in this whole messed up affair. Well, that’s what Buffy thought, anyway. Friday, after a second night of almost no sleep but fight after demon fight, she'd been stopped by a young woman on her usual way through the open clinic.
"Hey, are you alright?" The blonde doctor had asked with a concern laced voice.
Buffy, having been deep in thought, had looked up in surprise. "Huh? Oh, sure. I'm fine."
Pointing towards her lip, the blonde doctor had continued, "That looks kinda nasty."
Buffy had just shrugged her shoulders and was about to walk away when the other woman had, admittedly gently, grabbed her arm. "I'm Allison Cameron, I'm working in the ER. I could have a closer look, you know?"
Biting her lip nervously – right on the fresh cut, of course – Buffy had shook her head. "Naw. That’s not necessary. Really."
"It's bleeding again." Allison had pointed out and, hand still on Buffy's arm, she had started to gently pull her towards the ER.
As Buffy had just seen Cuddy coming their way, she'd only grumbled something incoherent but had relented. She definitely hadn't wanted to talk to Cuddy so Buffy had decided to go with the lesser of two evils.
So for the next few minutes she had allowed Dr Cameron to fuss over her. Once she seemed to have finally finished, Buffy had started to get of the bed she'd been sitting on when the doctor had once more restrained her. Looking at Buffy passionately, she had said, "Don't take whatever Dr House says to your heart. You only end up hurting yourself while for him it's only a game."
At that Buffy had raised her eyebrows and looked at Cameron questioningly. There was obviously more behind her fussing over her than Buffy had given her credit for.
Sighing, Dr Cameron had taken a seat next to Buffy. "I've been working with House as one of his fellows for the past three years. Don't take me wrong, I've learned much more than I could've anywhere else. But his methods, inside and outside him practising medicine, are rather unique."
Snorting, Buffy had replied, "You mean often unconventional, illegal and highly inappropriate? I got that already."
"Then there are his people skills," Cameron had continued carefully.
Buffy had barely resisted to roll her eyes at that. Instead she had said rather ironically, "Well, I think I saw them hiding in the back of his bottom drawer once." Seeing the confused look Cameron had been giving her at that, Buffy had continued, "Look. I really appreciate your concern, Dr. Cameron-"
"- Right. Allison. But I can handle House. He might be a bastard, but at least he doesn’t try to hide it."
Scrutinising Buffy, Allison had finally nodded. Then, pointing to her lip, she had asked, "What about that lip? You aren’t in trouble, are you?"
Jumping off the bed, Buffy had given her a small, yet genuine, smile. "Nope. I can handle myself just fine." Even if she'd hurt her lip twice this week already. Stupid uncooperative demons. Turning around for a last time before leaving the ER, Buffy had added, "See you around, Allison."
In fact, Allison had come up to her during her earlier lunch break today. Buffy had just gotten a sandwich and something to drink before finding a quiet bank in the nearby park. A couple of minutes later Allison had sat down next to her. After giving Buffy a, badly, concealed once-over to check for further injuries, Allison had eaten her lunch in silence. Actually making an effort in dispersing any concern directed towards her, Buffy had asked Allison what she knew about House's preferred hiding places and, after explaining why she wanted to know, Allison had told her just what she needed to know.
Coming back to the present, Buffy finished with House's leg and wondered if he realised there was a small, but growing, group of people considering him something like a friend. And that, slowly but surely, he was dragging her into it this group as well.
This didn't mean she was going to forgive him for his comment and the fresh pain it caused anytime soon. Well, at least she wasn't going to tell him she'd forgiven him anytime soon. But she also couldn't see herself keeping away from him – on a personal level that is – forever. She'd already accepted that, as weird as it may sound, he was good for her. Just like she'd told Faith a couple of days ago.
Or she wouldn't be here, having just given him his first treatment. And feel strangely comforted by it.
Lifting a once again closed bag, Buffy looked at House for the first time openly since she entered the room almost an hour earlier. "See you Wednesday."
Nodding, House silently accepted. At least the pained look had vanished from her eyes. And he was pretty sure he'd even seen the tiniest of smiles on her lips at one time during their session.
Not bothering with knocking, House opened the door to Wilson's office and let himself fall onto his friend's couch with a satisfied sigh. Getting comfortable, he grinned at an irritated Wilson.
"What? It's not like you've got a patient in here," House said, motioning around the room. At Wilson's exasperated sigh, House eyes twinkled mischievously. "Unless you've hidden her?"
Shaking his head, Wilson denied House's question.
"Him?" House asked, eyebrows wandering high up his forehead.
"House!" Wilson replied resigned before covering his face with his hands. "What do you want this time."
"Brag about my rendezvous in Coma Guy's room," House replied smugly, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
"Ha ha. Very funny." As with House around there was no way he'd get some work done, Wilson figured he might just as well have a break. Opening one of his drawer, he got a banana and started to peel it.
"There was naked flesh, my naked flesh," Holding up his hand for Wilson to see, House ticked off his fingers one by one as he continued. "Female hands on said naked flesh, towels to soak up any fluids, lots of scented oil and
I actually have to watch the TiVo-ed episode of General Hospital as I missed most of it."
Staring at House open-mouthed, Wilson was thankfully saved from doing some embarrassing sounds by a knock on his door. Giving his friend another incredulous look, Wilson asked his saviour to enter.
"Dr Cuddy," Wilson greeted her enthusiastically.
Eyebrows shooting skywards, Cuddy looked from him to House and back. Judging by House's smug appearance, he'd obviously done or said something to throw Wilson off. Again. "What did House do now."
Sitting up, House shrugged his shoulders innocently. "Just told him about my … visit with Coma Guy."
"And?" Cuddy prompted. "Was General Hospital that
Pressing his hands over his heart, House answered in mock hurt. "Ouch. I went to show my compassion for that poor guy as he never gets any visitors and you blatantly imply me insincere motives!"
Wilson just snorted while Cuddy rolled her eyes. "As if any of us would believe that."
"Apparently he missed today's episode because of a rendezvous including nakedness and scented oils," Wilson added, still unsure as of what to make of this.
Face lightening up with a dazzling smile, Cuddy turned to House. "So you enjoyed yourself then?"
His eyes coming dangerously close to popping out, Wilson looked flabbergasted between his two friends. "Wha- … How?"
"One of Dr Marmine's fellows pinned him down for a first of those massages House agreed to a couple of weeks ago," Cuddy replied, taking pity on Wilson. Looking back at House, she added playfully, "And he obviously enjoyed it."
Huffing, House crossed his arms. "Way to go to destroy what little fun I have in life," he announced in a clear pout, looking darkly at Cuddy. "How do you know anyway?"
Smiling, she settled on the edge of Wilson's desk. "I've got my sources."