House was biding his time.
He already knew how to get the DNA sample he needed for the maternity test and even though he'd love to get his little scheme running immediately, he decided to try something else. Like building up a bit of anticipation. Though not too long, mind you. Just for a few days. Besides, it also had the benefits of escaping Cuddy's watchful eyes.
The morning after the big showdown in his conference room, Cuddy had called him into her office. She had warned him not to talk about the previous day's incident. Repeatedly. Neither was he to do something about Buffy's and Wilson's involvement in the whole thing.
He had left her office with a big grin on his face. Yep. Cuddy and Buffy were related.
Of course, just because he was following Cuddy's orders for once – not because she wanted him to but because it was part of his plan – didn't mean he couldn't enjoy himself in other ways.
Like stalking that idiot Marmine and getting lots of useful information on him, his fiancée and, most importantly, her family. Although, he had to admit he was disappointed with one thing. Cuddy hadn't ripped him a new one. True, he had been summoned to her office – but he had left rather intact afterwards.
Despite this House could have sworn there was steam coming out of her ears every time she caught sight of Marmine. Yet there had been no blow-up. And it wasn't for his
lack of trying. Having learned Marmine's schedule by heart, House more than once managed to lure Cuddy to an unsuspicious area of the hospital just in time to have her cross Marmine's path.
Oh, she had glowered. And there had been the aforementioned steaming ears. But she hadn't erupted. If it wasn't for her obvious struggle to keep herself in check whenever she saw Marmine, House might have thought again about his assumption of Cuddy being related to Buffy. Maybe.
Grinning evilly – and scaring the hypochondriac currently babbling at him in examination room two to death by doing so – House decided to raise the stakes.
Lisa thoughtfully closed her bottle of water, staring unseeingly out of her office window.
Dawn was as much her flesh and blood as Buffy was. She didn't need a blood test to confirm this. It was just like Allison Cameron had observed already; Dawn was much more like her in appearance and demeanour than Buffy was. If anything, the last few days in Buffy's and Dawn's presence had shown her as much.
Then there was Allison Cameron herself. When she had first met her, Cuddy never thought Cameron would survive for as long as she had. She had been too nice. Too sensitive. Too gullible. Too much in awe of House.
But, to Cuddy's astonishment, that had changed. The 'too' in front of nice and sensitive had vanished, the gullibility had gone almost completely – even if she made most people believe that she was still too naïve and easy to take advantage of. But, unbeknownst to them, she deliberately used it to her advantage.
Yes, she was still looking for the best in each person, but she now accepted that sometimes people simply weren't nice. Also, although she still looked up to House for his ability to diagnose the most obscure cases, she wasn't in awe of him anymore. In other words, she had become a better doctor and much more secure person during her time with House.
And now she had become a good friend of Buffy. Her daughter had told her once that she found Allison's general positive outlook on most things fascinating as it was a stark contrast to her own experiences. That she found Allison's ability to see the good in almost everyone reassuring as it meant that her fight against the creatures of the night wasn't in vain. That it actually made for a better world for most of mankind.
Most of all, Allison brought back a sense of normality to Buffy's life that she had missed since Mark's death. Only last night Buffy had admitted to her and Dawn that Allison was the first normal, none-Vampire & Co., Inc.
-initiated, female friend she had. That this kind of friendship was something Buffy had unknowingly craved for a very long time. And that now, with the baby on the way, this was something she needed more than ever.
Cuddy blinked a lone tear away. The thought of her daughter craving something as simple as this made her heart ache in a way only a mother's heart could ache. Somehow it made her feel like she had failed her own flesh and blood – despite knowing there was nothing she could have done. Even if the Council hadn't stolen her daughter from her, Buffy would still have been called as the Slayer.
And, if she was truly honest with herself, Cuddy feared she would have gotten her own daughter killed. Not because she wouldn't
have understood Buffy, but because she would
have. Cuddy would have done anything to protect Buffy, even if it meant to help her fight. Learning more and more about her daughter, Cuddy also knew that this would have been their demise.
Helping Buffy would have meant to put herself into danger.
Putting herself into danger would have meant for Buffy to have one more person to worry about. And not just any person, but her mother.
A worried Buffy would have meant a distracted Buffy.
And, in the end, a distracted Buffy could have easily, and eventually would have, led to a dead Buffy.
Being so caught up in her own thoughts, Lisa didn't hear the knock on her door. Or hear it opening and quietly close again. Or hear the lock being turned.
Dawn smiled as she left the ER. She had raided the mall for baby stuff in the morning and then had come to the hospital and shown said stuff off to Allison, as Buffy had been busy. Allison had only been too ready for a break when Dawn appeared and, as it had been fairly quiet, had managed to go on a short break.
Taking Dawn to a small staff room, they both had 'oh-ed' and 'ah-ed' over the tiny clothes and cuddly toys. Allison had downright laughed when Dawn produced a baby-sized stuffed Count Dracula. Dawn had pouted good-naturedly and told Allison that if she wasn't going to hold onto it until the baby was born, so she could give it to Buffy in Dawn's stead in case she was still in tweed-country, she would never ever share her ice cream again.
Yep, it had been fun goofing around with Allison.
But now she was on another mission. Finding House. In the last few days Lisa had tried rather hard to prevent Dawn from coming to the hospital for a visit. Too hard, where Dawn was concerned. Then a little conversation with Buffy last night had shed some more light onto it. Dawn couldn't help but grin.
According to Buffy, their mother might simply be too scared of what she and House would come up with. After all, Buffy had told Lisa a lot about the pranks they used to and still did play on each other – and whose idea Buffy's special break-in security had been. So, Buffy had concluded, Lisa might just be afraid to bring the two pranksters – House and Dawn – together in case they started talking and got strange ideas, creating havoc in Lisa's hospital. In fact, after Buffy had explained this to her, she had gotten this far-away look in her eyes and then told Dawn to stay away from the hospital. No matter what.
Barely preventing herself from skipping to the open clinic to see if House was there, Dawn was almost passed Lisa's office already when she saw her mother's hunched figure staring out the window. Yearlong experience told her that, most likely, something was bothering her. Chewing on her bottom lip, Dawn contemplated her options. She could give Lisa time and space to work it out herself or she could intrude and try and help. Even if Lisa's problem might be completely hospital related.
Dawn was still thinking when Lisa's secretary stood up and quickly hurry away, vanishing into the nearest bathroom. The former Key shrugged and quickly entered the anteroom to Lisa's office.
Lisa literally jumped when a hand came to rest on her shoulder.
"Sorry! I didn't mean to startle you," Dawn said sheepishly, blushing slightly.
"Oh!" Lisa took several deep breaths to calm her racing heart. "Oh. I didn't hear you come in."
"I didn't notice," Dawn deadpanned, drawing a weak smile from her mother. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." Lisa shook her head, walking back to her desk and getting ready to sit down.
"No," Dawn said quickly. "Couch."
Shrugging her shoulders, Lisa let herself be let over to the couch.
Once seated, Dawn studied her mother in concern. "Since when does nothing
make you cry?"
"I didn't-" Lisa stopped when her fingers touched her cheeks and found them covered in tears. "I hadn't noticed."
"Uh huh." Dawn shuffled closer and took Lisa's hands in hers. "Spill." Frowning, she added as an afterthought, "Unless it's some really, really gooey and icky hospital thing."
Lisa couldn't help but chuckle at the look of utter disgust on Dawn's face. "And here I got the impression you're used to all sort of icky and smelly demon goo?"
"Exactly." Dawn said while wrinkling her nose with a shudder. "I don't need to hear about the human stuff too." Raising her eyebrows, she looked at Lisa expectantly.
Sighing, she finally admitted, "I've been thinking."
Dawn groaned in mock-despair. "That's when things go wrong!"
"Sorry." Dawn made a zipping motion over her mouth, nodding for her mother to continue. However, she couldn't help the smile as she noticed a matching one on her mother's face. Which meant it couldn't be all that bad, right?
"I've been thinking how things would have been different if the Council hadn't stolen Buffy," she admitted quietly.
Oh boy. So much for it not being bad. Well, it could turn out either way, depending on the conclusion – if any – Lisa had come to. Her smile never leaving her face, she nodded encouragingly for her mother to continue.
So Lisa did, explaining her thoughts to her younger daughter. It was funny, really, how – despite knowing Dawn was technically Buffy's – she had readily accepted her as her own daughter. Although she kept that little detail to herself.
In the end, Dawn was just as emotionally involved as Lisa, both their faces spotting a couple of tear tracks. Leaning over, Dawn hugged Lisa. Hard. "Thank you."
Lisa stared at Dawn in confusion. "Why?"
"For understanding." Dawn explained. "Mom would have liked you, you know."
"She did a great job with the two of you," Lisa said. "I think I would have liked her too."
Nodding, Dawn hugged her again. Leaning back, she tilted her head to watch the emotions playing on Lisa's face. "It doesn't make it any easier though, huh?"
Unsuccessfully fighting a fresh bout of tears, Lisa shook her head. Dawn went through her bag for a clean tissue and handed it to Lisa who nodded gratefully. "Sorry, I don't know where all those tears come from."
"Emotional overload?" Dawn suggested cheekily. "Cause, you know, getting two beautiful, clever and amazing daughter's for the price of one would make anyone cry!"
Laughing, Lisa removed the latest tears from her face, shaking her head at the silly grin Dawn was giving her. "How did you get in here anyway? My secretary wouldn't just have you let pass without an announcement."
"Well, you see, I was conspiring with Allison and just on my way out when I passed your office. I didn't want to disturb you or anything but your secretary suddenly jumped up and ran out, wearing a very funny 'My bladder is going to burst if I don't go now'
-face. So I kinda sneaked in without her noticing."
"Yep. That's me. I'm a younger sister, remember?" Dawn winked at her mother. "Sneakiness is an absolute requirement in passing the annoying-little-sister exam."
Snorting, Lisa ruffled Dawn's hair in affection. "I'll remember that. But conspiring with Allison? You're not corrupting my employees, are you?"
"Never," Dawn exclaimed wholeheartedly. "I just gave her something to hold on to for me. You know, in case I'm not here when the baby is born." Dawn nodded innocently. "See, completely harmless!"
"Why am I not convinced?" Lisa asked suspiciously.
"Because Buffy can't keep her mouth shut and told you about a few little explorations of mine?" Dawn offered cheekily. Before Lisa could reply, Dawn got up and walked towards the door. "Anyway, gotta go now. See you tonight, right?"
Lisa only had time to give her a quick nod before Dawn vanished through the door.
Yep. She was definitely up to something. Well, she'd just have to wait and see.
Sighing, Lisa got up and went to the small bathroom, repairing any damage her rampant emotions had done to her make-up.
After leaving her mother's office, Dawn went to the open clinic, seeing if she could spot House. Of course, that would have been too easy. However, as luck would have it, she came across two of the people who had been in the conference room with him the other day. Quickly hiding behind a pillar, she listened in to their conversation, hoping to get a clue as of where to find him.
Smiling when they vanished around a corner, she slipped out of her hiding place and towards the stairs.
They had mentioned something about closed blinds and locked office doors. Glancing at her watch, she grinned. Buffy had told her of his obsession with General Hospital and which happened to be aired at this very minute.
Arriving at his office, she knocked and tried to open it. But, just like the fellows had said, it was locked and the closed blinds prevented her from looking in. Putting her ear against the door, she could hear some faint noises coming from inside.
Grinning, she took the lock-picks she had so conveniently put into her pockets and – after making sure no one was paying particular attention to her - opened the doors to House's office within a few seconds.
Entering, she grinned cheerfully at the flabbergasted figure greeting her.
--A/N: Now Muse has finally done it. She sneaked something passed me that I hadn't noticed but the majority of reviewers pointed out! Dawn and House having a bit of fun in the hospital! Well, I really like the idea … but am kinda low on Ideas as of what exactly they could be up to. Any suggestions? Hand Muse a shovel – or part thereof – so she can get out of the grave she dug herself, please?