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15 April 2007 @ 11:47 am
Circular Reasoning (The Third Law of Motion Remix) [House, Brenda/Cuddy, PG-13]  
Title: Circular Reasoning (The Third Law of Motion Remix)
Author: ijemanja
Summary: This is what she remembers.
Fandom: House
Pairing: Brenda/Cuddy
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Original story: Consequences by karaokegal.

But this is what she remembers:

"I'll admit, you pinged my gaydar. First time I saw you."

Lisa's nose crinkling in amusement, and the way her toes curl on the back of Brenda's calf.


(It's the nineties, and this is still funny. Vaguely.)


The bright orange face mask Lisa wears every Wednesday night come hell or high water. The smell of papaya while they watch bad Lifetime movies camped out on the sofa.

"'Bad Lifetime movie.' Kind of redundant," she can hear Lisa say even now, eight years after the fact, "don't you think?"

Lisa stumbling as she kicks off her shoes in the dark, literally falling into bed, sending the mattress bouncing under her weight and waking Brenda up:

"You should have just gone home, you have to be up in like five hours."

"I feel like I never see you. I'm sorry."

"I like my space. I think if you were around all the time, I might get sick of you."

"The disturbing thing is you actually mean that."

And laughing, as Lisa wraps herself around Brenda and swears to cling all night like a limpet, just to spite her.

And then (always this part):

Always Lisa, overtired and overworked, a patient who may or may not lose his leg or his life - and Brenda, bringing her a cup of coffee and a sympathetic smile on her break.

She offers Lisa a shoulder rub, and has no idea what's coming.


She doesn't want House dead.

He isn't worth such puerile claims but he is worth her disdain, which is put to best use when let out at opportune moments, such as when he's leaving the clinic half an hour early, or when there are irritating patients with questionable hygiene to funnel his way.

She sees no reason to give him a break, or go easy on him because he's in pain. (Like he's the only one.) She doesn't crack when he turns on the charm. She calls him Dr Gimp and fails to look contrite - does in fact, look the opposite of contrite - when Lisa overhears:

"Should I reserve a seat for you next to Dr House at the next 'Sensitivity in the Workplace' seminar?"

Brenda doesn't trust herself to respond to that. Lisa just rolls her eyes.

"Oh, you'd probably just enjoy it."

Sitting next to Cane-boy through three hours of torture? Why yes, she would. She also enjoys confirming that Lisa still knows her so well - but she keeps this to herself, too.

She watches them go at it, sometimes like bitter enemies, sometimes like old friends. Sometimes she thinks they enjoy it. Sometimes, she knows they do.

But that doesn't change things, not where it matters. For every time she's seen Lisa grin at him, amused, she's seen a strong, decisive woman driven to uncertainty, compromise, doubt.

She hates him for it. Strongly. And decisively.

Not as much as she hates the way Lisa's eyes slide over her sometimes, rather than acknowledge her - not always, not even often, but enough to rule out 'a lot on her mind', 'distracted', or 'sorry, didn't see you there' as an excuse.

She's been demoted. She hates that there are things in Lisa's life she doesn't even think of sharing with her, the person she once upon a time spent hours talking to about everything.

Often while naked.

Brenda's not pathetic. She hasn't let this go, no, and won't any time soon (hell no), but she has a life, or thereabouts. She doesn't spend all her time pining for her lost love, at least. She's got plenty better things to do.

She figured out how to do it, fast, after -

After. She learned to keep things short and to the point, and her personal feelings to herself. (Personal feelings, it should be noted, being different from opinions. Those she'll offer in spades.)

She was still a relatively new face, but she earned herself a name for being straightforward, professional, no-nonsense. Greg House, bastard extraordinaire, probably helped her career more than sleeping with her boss ever could have. The irony is not lost on her.

The point is, she's reliable, and people know it. Trusted employee - no one's ever actually used the word 'invaluable', but last time she went on vacation, she came back to a really kind of ridiculous amount of chaos and a frazzled Lisa who smiled like her face might split and said 'thank god you're back' which, no, she didn't hate - that's her.

But there was a time she was more. That's also the point.


They were both new. New nursing staff, new Dean of Medicine, both positions happened to be filled on the same day and they bonded over parking permits. Then Brenda was settling in and she didn't see the woman for days, buried, she assumed, under the weight of exciting new administrative duties and the prestige of her appointment.

Until an elevator ride, "it's Brenda, right?" and "Dr Cuddy, how's life treating you at the top?"

"Lisa, please. I haven't seen my apartment by daylight in two weeks, my neighbours probably think I'm a vampire, but other than that -"

"It suits you."

"Oh? The dark circles under my eyes?"

They stepped off the elevator together on the third floor, stopped there because they were heading in different directions so that Brenda could say: "My first job out of nursing school was in OB - I'd know that glow anywhere."

Then there was an argument, standing there in front of the elevators, about equating maternity with success for women and whether or not that was sexist. She can't remember who won.

When she's feeling mushy, she likes to think they both did.

Two years. It sounds like a long time, time enough for a couple to start thinking marriage (commitment ceremonies) or at least cohabitation.

Naturally, this is when it all fell apart.

And she'd always known Lisa was bi, but she never thought if a man came between them it would be like this - a man with a limp and an ego problem and a hold over Lisa she just can't contend with. Not then, not now.

Too many gestures, too much guilt and time spent (over-)compensating for what was never her fault to begin with. But Lisa likes her responsibility - even when what it amounts to is blame - and the penance that comes with it.

She's learned a lot about it from House, forgiveness, and what it costs. She watches Lisa turn herself inside out for a guy who'll never be quite worth the effort no matter how good he is, and it's these times the memories come, vivid and painful and utterly pointless.

Fond memories my ass, she will inevitably say to herself at this point, remind herself why choking a cripple with his own cane is a bad idea (a nice idea, but a bad one), and tell herself to get back to work.

It's what she's good at. It's all she has of Lisa, now - her job and her memories and a lingering grudge - and she may as well apply herself to all three.

So she does her damn job. She hates House, casually and not so casually.

And she tries to forget.

SWEEP THE LEG: it's what this moment needed: foremanijemanja on April 30th, 2007 06:30 am (UTC)
Ack, I have to say, I was so pleased to be matched up with you! What with the loving your fic and also the range of pairings you cover - so much to choose from! I actually started off remixing another ('Any Way You Want It', if you're curious, which I found and loved) all the while with the Brenda/Cuddy in the back of my mind and that's what I went with in the end. Anyway *gushes* it was a pleasure. :)
karaokegal: handsteamykaraokegal on April 30th, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
The mutual admiration could go on all day! I've just gone and re-pimped your story at my LJ including the credit this time.