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Tempered III: Tying One On




The rain hadn’t delayed the flight, but still the grey clouds hung low over the island, making it a 
little cooler than it usually was. Cuddy let herself into the cottage and moved to the fireplace, 
switching the gas on, watching the flames pop up along the ceramic log. She opened the glass 
doors and stretched out her hands to the warmth, grateful for the heat.

 

It was nearly four in the afternoon of December 24th, and Cuddy found herself alternately 
keyed up and worried as she began to unpack and settle into the cottage. Out of habit she 
made her shopping list, adding a few extra things she knew House would like, and called the 
market. The phone rang a few times before being answered. “Lucky Conch, how can we help 
you?”

 

“Good afternoon Mr. Pepper, it’s Doctor Cuddy.”

 

“Doctor! I was just wondering when you’d phone. Geoffrey mentioned you were back on island--
the usual order?”

 

“Yes, with a few added things. How’s that ointment working for Clara’s rash?”

 

They chatted for a few moments, and by the time Cuddy had hung up, not only were her 
groceries ordered, but Mr. Pepper had insisted he’d be sending a sprite tree along as well. 
Cuddy didn’t have the heart to talk him out of it.

 

She puttered about a bit after that, feeling restless and slightly excited. Catching a glimpse of 
herself in the low mirror near the umbrella stand Cuddy stopped, staring for a long moment at 
her pale face, noting a fever brightness to her eyes.

 

“Chill out—“ she ordered herself, knowing it wouldn’t happen. “So he’s coming to join you in a 
few hours. For Christmas. Do NOT make this into anything more than it IS.”

 

Her reflection smirked back at her, and Cuddy gave in to the little flare of excitement deep in 
her stomach, letting herself enjoy the anticipation. In truth, she hadn’t felt this way about a 
holiday—or about a man--in years. Wandering back into the little living room she dropped 
herself onto the sofa and kicked her shoes off, then curled her feel under her, trying to settle 
down.

 

He drives me crazy, Cuddy sighed. And not just in the usual combative administrative buck-the-system maverick ways either anymore. No, now there was a new level, an 
undercurrent of desire and dread in her emotions, a tension fueled by memories of intimate 
passion.

 

 He drives me crazy, and God help me, I think I love him. What the hell am I going to do?

 

And there was no answer for that, no clear and simple course of action like there had been with 

Myron or Edward. House wasn’t agreeable, mild or responsible; he argued and provoked 
responses that left her either limp with exhaustion or charged with righteous wrath. The man 
never made anything easy and yet somehow so much came out . . . right. Cuddy realized with a 

little thrill deep in her stomach that she’d rather bicker with House than agree with anyone else.

 

On anything.

 

Abruptly she bit her lips, fighting back a little wave of panic. I can’t do this. This is House, the 
original Mr. Pain in the Ass.
He says it, but . . . and she couldn’t finish the thought, because 
the sweet sting of his words still sent shivers through her. House said things he didn’t mean; 
that was part of his charm and his curse, his twisted mantra about lies always drifted around 
him like a wreath of smoke.

 

 . . . he could be lying about this too.

 

***   ***   ***

 

House checked his watch for the third time, and tried to settle back in the seat of the plane. 
The low hum of the engines rattled through the cabin, and he felt it right through his leg, 
vibrating an extra frisson of pain through the nerves there. He’d already taken as much Vicodin 
as he dared but this added torture was setting his teeth on edge.

 

Fortunately the old man next to him was sound asleep, and House swiped the bag of honeyed 
peanuts from his tray without a second thought. Outside the tiny window the shredded 
cottonball clouds hung low over the rippled grey of the Atlantic. The sudden shift in vibration 
alerted him before the soft chime and the captain’s voice.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen we’re now approaching Bermuda International Airport and should be 
landing in approximately fifteen minutes. The local time is just after six-thirty and the weather is 
slightly overcast this Christmas Eve, with the temperature at about sixty-eight degrees.”

 

House sighed, tipping the bag of nuts into his mouth. He felt a tension in his stomach, a 
different sort than his usual annoyance with the universe. This one had a personal edge of acid, 
and had ever since he’d left Mrs. Farber’s house on South Lace Lane. He shifted himself a 
little, trying to keep the vibration of the plane away from his thigh as he pondered the issue 
sitting so heavily on his mind and stomach.

 

He could talk her into it.

 

Hell, they were already halfway there for all intents and purposes; a clear tribute to his powers 
of persuasion thus far. He had the license already and now a ring—with the right bit of 
emotional connection House was pretty certain he could get Cuddy to say yes. She might try to 
take it back a second later, but that didn’t worry him. He’d had plenty of practice in getting his 
way with her already.

 

The problem was in the actual . . . process. House scowled, wondering if he should have 
consulted Jimmy first; after all, if anyone was an expert on proposing, it would be James 
Wilson, Serial Husband.

 

“Ladies and Gentleman we’re beginning our descent, so I’ll ask you to fasten your seatbelts,” 
came the soft murmur of the pilot’s voice. Clumsily House fastened his belt and gingerly set his sneaker back on the floor. He sighed softly.

 

The best approach with She-Beast had always been a direct steamroller one; overwhelming 
her before she had a chance to think about the implications or consequences. It worked with 
their professional disagreements, and the track record for their personal ones gave him hope 
too—not that House wanted it to be a battle. He absently ran a hand over his chin, feeling an 
inner shiver stir his chest.

 

Next to him the old man yawned and shot House a tired smile. “What a long strange trip it’s 
been, huh?”

 

House slowly nodded back. “Truer than you know.”

 

***   ***   ***

 

The doorbell rang again; Wilson cursed it as Oliver gave a single, feeble bark. His duty 
discharged, the elderly dog settled back down under the coffee table dropping off to sleep 
again. On the sofa, Emily giggled and wriggled. Wilson cupped his hands around her bare 
chest once more and lightly squeezed, happily admiring the sweet swell of her breasts against 
his palms.

 

“I’ll get rid of whoever it is. You stay put—“ he told her quietly but firmly. “This gift unwrapping is 
NOT done.”

 

“James—“ she sighed, tugging the edges of her blouse closed, “Just . . . hurry.”

 

He gave a grunt of agreement and ran a hand through his hair, trying to calm down enough to 
answer the door; whoever it was had a lot of nerve to be out on Christmas Eve. Padding 
barefoot across the foyer Wilson took a moment to check the peephole in the door, and the 
sudden chill of recognition ran through his system, dousing his libido in one guilty flash.

 

Wilson let his forehead thunk against the door before unlocking it.

 

“Mom, Dad . . . . come in, why didn’t you call?” he called out loudly, hoping his voice would carry through the house. He opened the door wider, letting them enter. The gust of cold air followed 
as the couple walked in; the woman hugged Wilson tightly and he hugged back feeling both 
guilty and delighted.

 

Leah Wilson was a bubbly woman, curvy and just slightly heavy, with big brown eyes, ash 
blonde hair and an infectious laugh. She pulled back and cupped her son’s face, eyeing him 
carefully. “Hello my baby oh, you look feverish, Jimmy—are you all right?”

 

“I’m fine, Mom,” he assured her, hoping he didn’t have lip gloss on his face anywhere. She 
frowned.

 

“Nathan, I think he looks flushed, what do YOU think?”

 

“I think you ought to let the doctor in the family decide for himself if he feels all right, Leah. Hey 
Jim—“ his father rumbled, giving Wilson a quick hug. “Thought we’d come and take you to 
dinner. We’re on our way to the Goldsteins.”

 

Nathan Wilson towered over both his wife and son, a lean man in a three-piece suit, nearly bald 
with thick glasses forever sliding down his long nose. Wilson sighed.

 

The thudding footfalls of Oliver grew louder and the dog wandered in, tail wagging; instantly 
Nathan bent to pat him. “Hey Ollie.”

 

“HE looks good,” Leah agreed, patting him as well. Wilson looked to the ceiling helplessly.

 

“Yes, he doesn’t have a fever either Mom. So, ah—“ he began softly, “I—“

 

“James?” Emily wandered in, smiling gently. Wilson goggled at how quickly she’d fixed herself 
up: hair pinned back up, blouse re-buttoned, shoes back on. Leah looked at her cautiously.

 

“You have company,” she murmured in a neutral voice. Emily’s smile deepened and she 
cocked her head. Wilson spoke up quickly.

 

“Mom, this is Emily Mansfield—“ at the mention of her name, Leah softened instantly and 
stepped forward to catch Emily’s hands, squeezing them gently.

 

“Emily! The girl we hardly know anything about except Jimmy mentions you every time we talk 
on the phone! THAT Emily--”

 

Emily flushed a little. “It’s good to finally meet you, Mrs. Wilson. I see where James gets his 
amazing eyes.”

 

It was the right thing to say; Leah laughed and even Nathan chuckled a bit, the two of them 
flashing a quick smile at each other. Emily looked puzzled; Wilson explained.

 

“Family joke. Dad’s first words to Mom were quote, ‘you have amazing eyes’, unquote.”

 

“And I’m Leah, my dear. I’m SO glad to meet you—Jimmy told me all about your move and your practice and how the two of you’ve been sharing his office these past months . . .” So saying, 
Leah gently dragged Emily off towards the kitchen, chattering away and leaving Wilson with his 
father in the foyer. Nathan shot his son a dry, amused look, waiting until the women were out of earshot.

 

“You have lipstick on your neck, under your ear. So--company, eh?”

 

Wilson flushed, wiping a hand over the indicated area while his father smirked a little. “I didn’t 
know you two were stopping by.”

 

His father rolled his eyes, shrugging his big shoulders. “Neither did I, but your mother got it into 
her head that we’d go see Ruth and Aaron, maybe do Atlantic City over the weekend. And . . .” 
here his father looked uncomfortable, shifting from foot to foot. “ . . . Well, this time of the 
season you know. We both wanted . . . to check . . . “

 

Wilson felt the old sadness well up in him; he reached out to pat his father’s shoulder, 
squeezing it tightly as he studied the older man’s sorrowful face. He shook his head in the slow 
painful moment between them.

 

“ . . . I already did, Dad. Still nothing.” It hurt him to say it, and the older man’s shoulders 
slumped as hope died yet again. Wordlessly the two men hugged once more, and this time
Wilson
clasped his father much harder.

 

The ghost of Joseph lingered between them for a moment.

 

Then Nathan gently released his son and pushed his glasses up, blinking fiercely. He looked 
up, a tremulous smile in place, his gaze resigned. “So it stays in God’s hands. So be it. Shall we 
go see what the girls are up to?”

 

***   ***   ***

 

Cuddy fretted. Outside darkness was stealing over the horizon, and as she glanced through the 
sliding glass door at the ocean twilight, a pang deep inside her echoed sadly. The clock over 
the mantel said it was nearly seven forty, and her cell phone on the kitchen counter remained stubbornly silent. Cuddy went to the tiny refrigerator and poured herself a glass of wine.

 

There were still groceries to unpack; Mr. Pepper had sent them up nearly half an hour ago, 
and with resignation Cuddy began to sort through the three paper bags, carefully stocking the 
pantry shelves. Nothing looked particularly appealing until she hefted the bag of rice. Maybe a 
quick Paella . . .

 

The knock at the front door startled her badly; she dropped the rice and the plastic bag split at 
the seam, part of the contents spilling out on the linoleum. Cuddy winced at the mess, but 
stepped over it, hurrying to the door and not even thinking about why she was doing it, just 
letting her anxiety carry her forward as she pried open the little deadbolt and tugged the door 
wide.

 

They stood for a second, looking at each other, staring with quick, painful intensity, registering 
each other’s reactions, feeling the mutual surge rise up in a quick flash of deep indefinable 
emotion.

 

“About TIME,” Cuddy finally croaked, reaching up to curl her fingers around the edge of his 
leather jacket. House leaned forward, eyes bright with mischief and pleasure.

 

“You’ve been waiting for me. You LIKE me.”

 

“House—“ she instantly responded, rising to his tone as she always did. This time he cut her 
off with a rubbing of his nose against hers, his mouth barely brushing her lips.

 

“I like it that you like me, She-Beast,” he whispered softly.

 

Cuddy couldn’t control a deep shiver at the feel of his mouth, his words, and she wanted to turn 
away but House caught her chin, cupping it gently. “Come on, tell me you missed me.”

 

“All right, I missed you,” she hissed gently, no sting to her words. “Though God knows why I 
should after the way you embarrassed me at the staff party.”

 

“Nothing any more outrageous than what I usually do, and you know it. Gonna kiss me?”

 

Cuddy made a moue and right in the middle of it House pulled her to him, his mouth dropping on 
hers warmly; the kiss flared through them both with sweet heat. They pulled out of it reluctantly, 
and Cuddy shook her head a little, chest heaving. “Damn it, Greg—“

 

“Shhh, Santa’s coming to town. Wouldn’t do to make his naughty list at the last minute you know. 
Got any beer?”

 

 

Cuddy cleaned up the rice and cooked the unspilled part of it; House stretched out on the sofa 
in the living room.

 

“Is it about Wilson and Doctor Mansfield?” Cuddy called, trying to open a can of peas. From 
around the corner House made an affirmative sound. They were on the seventh question of 
Twenty Questions and he took a sip of beer, staring at the tiny Christmas tree on the coffee 
table. House felt smug, looking at the presents that engulfed it, the ones he had smuggled out 
when Cuddy went into the kitchen. Sure the wrapping jobs weren’t very good, and a few looked 
slightly squashed from being in his backpack, but on the whole—

 

“Are they dating?”

 

“Sort of.”

 

“So that’s the news?”

 

“Nope. There’s more.”

 

“Can you give me a hint?”


“No.”

 

Lot of help YOU are.” Cuddy snorted. “I’ve never known you to hold back on gossip before.” 
She came around the corner and paused a second, looking at the little tree and pile of presents around it. A twisted smile crossed her face and she dropped her hands on her hips. House 
glanced at her, then away as he sipped his beer, feigning nonchalance.

 

“MY family always opened stuff on Christmas Eve,” he announced. “And I see no reason to 
break with tradition just because you have an overdressed twig instead of a real tree.”

 

Cuddy walked around the coffee table and gently poked a package or two, amused at the 
amateur wrapping jobs and touched by the sentiment. “So it’s tradition, huh?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Okay then,” she told him, moving towards the bedroom. “Let’s see what Santa brought YOU, Hasi-Greggie.”

 

 

House craned his neck, watching as Cuddy returned with two gift bags, a large package and 
two smaller ones, all stylishly wrapped. His lower lip went out in a pout.

 

“I wrapped mine MYSELF,” he announced in a slightly peeved tone. Cuddy gave a pointed 
stare at the Jezebel’s box and he relented, “Okay, except for that one.”

 

“Oh I could never tell—“ Cuddy told him with big eyes, her mock sincerity making him snarl 
playfully at her for a moment. It was almost too much and they both looked away for a second. 
Cuddy settled herself on the carpet, resting her weight on one hip as she reached up and toyed 
with the tiny tree. House used his cane to push a present towards her.

 

“Only because Farber would insist on ladies first.”

 

“Un huh,” Cuddy carefully peeled open the paper, taking her time. House rolled his eyes.

 

“You’re as bad as Wilson—just RIP it already.”

 

“No. I hate shreds,” she told him as she stared at the bizarre ceramic item in front of her. It 
looked like a bright pink ashtray with an erection, and she picked it up, studying it from all sides. 
“Okay I give up. What IS it?”

 

“It’s for spoons,” House muttered, moving to sit up. “Has something to do with them anyway, 
according to the nutless wonder who sold it to me at the Big Lots store. I think you park them on 
it.”

 

Cuddy bit the inside of her cheek trying not to laugh; the spoon rest was garish and poorly 
made, with weird designs along the edges that looked like mating paisleys. She stroked the 
heavily glazed bowl on it and nodded, touched that House had even remembered that she 
collected spoons. “I’ll treasure it.”

 

House snorted, but her words sent a little vibration through him that bounced off in the insides 
of his chest because despite the light tease in her words there was a kernel of truth to them. 
Cuddy WOULD treasure it; part of him knew that.

 

House coughed artificially, and Cuddy pointed to one of the gift bags. He leaned over and 
picked it up, slightly annoyed. “Bags—nothing to RIP with these babies.”

 

“Easier to wrap—“ she countered. “And before you get your boxers in a twist, yes I DO save 
the bags.”

 

He rolled his eyes and shoved his hand deep into the fluted tissue, pulling out the Gameboy DS, 
and blinking at this unexpected largess. Cuddy beamed, delighted that she’d actually stunned 
him into momentary silence.

 

After a second, House cleared his throat. “You’re encouraging my inattention to clinic by giving 
me this. You KNOW that.”

 

“I’ll just make you give it to me before you go.”

 

“Fat chance, She-Beast. You’ll have to wrestle it out of my grip . . . which could be sort of fun in 
and of itself, actually,” House brightened, shooting her an invitingly smutty look. Cuddy laughed; 
a sweet, husky sound.

 

“I’m not wrestling you for a TOY, House. I’ve got more dignity than that.”

 

“Not if I can help it,” he warned her, leaning forward to push another badly wrapped package 
towards her. Cuddy carefully peeled the paper back amid a few annoyed hoots from the sofa, 
feeling a queer tightness in her shoulders.

 

The lump of glass was in the shape of a fat Koi, the heavy smooth form more the artistic 
suggestion of a fish rather than the clear image of it. Within the clear depths were long trails of translucent green glass spiraling through it in beautiful artistic tendrils along with tiny embedded bubbles. The entire thing fit into her two hands, the cool weight of expensive crystal fluidly 
evident.

 

“It’s a fish,” House pointed out slowly and clearly, as if speaking to an idiot. Cuddy shifted her 
gaze from the figurine to him, her expression torn between dazed delight and annoyance.

 

“It’s an Imakato glass Koi, Greg! These . . . these are collector’s items, they’re worth hundreds 
of dollars! My GOD, you got me an Imakato?” As if this had just sunk in, Cuddy clutched the 
little glass statue to her chest and hyperventilated a tiny bit. House cocked his head, amused 
and gratified at her reaction.

 

“Hey, hey--if ANYTHING gets pressed to your sweater meat with that sort of passion it’s going 
to be ME, not a glass fish—“

 

Cuddy glanced down and blushed, aware that the figurine was indeed nestled into her cleavage. 
With an attempt a dignity she pulled it away and set it on the coffee table, hands trembling a tiny 
bit. She rose up and padded around to him slipping her arms around his neck and pulling his 
face forward.

 

House instantly grabbed her ass, snuffling happily into her décolletage while she squirmed and laughed, her fingers raking through his hair.

 

“No biting and no hickies—“ she ordered. In response he blew a wet raspberry between her 
breasts; the tickle of it made Cuddy squeak. “Greg!”

 

“My turn to unwrap something—“ came his muffled comment as his hands found the zipper of 
her skirt. She reached back and smacked his hand lightly. “Ow!”

 

“Thank you for the fish, it’s gorgeous,” Cuddy spoke up, ignoring his wounded expression. 
“Here, open this—“ she pushed the other gift bag towards him as she pulled out of his embrace 
and sat next to him on the sofa.

 

House made a great show out of sulking for a moment, but let his attention return to the bag. 
He reached into it and his expression grew slightly perplexed. When he withdrew his hand it 
held a leather-bound book, heavy and worn, with gilt-edged pages. Slowly he read the title out 
loud. “Diseases of the Urinary Organs, A Compendium of Their Diagnosis, Pathology and 
Treatment . . . “ Carefully House flipped open the cover, scanning the verso of the title page, 
his eyebrows going up. “First Edition, published in eighteen fifty-eight—somebody dropped a 
bundle on this.”

 

Cuddy shrugged to cover her embarrassment. “Yeah, well every specialist needs a few 
collectables. Consider it your hedge against inflation.”

 

“Pawnshop collateral,” he jibed, even as he reverently opened it to the hand-colored plates in 
the center of the book. For a long moment he studied the drawings while Cuddy did the same 
for his profile. Then House turned and caught her gaze; his smile held a rare sweetness to it, 
and she squirmed as he softly murmured, “Thank you.”

 

The two other small gifts took far less time: a collection of naughty bathsoaps for Cuddy and liquor-scented whiteboard pens for House.

 

“These are obscene!” She examined the lavender penis and testicles while House inhaled the 
hearty perfume of whisky from the brown marker in his hands.

 

“That’s kind of the POINT, She-Beast. Now open THIS one—“ he handed her a soft lumpy 
package in Rudolph paper. Cuddy squeezed it suspiciously for a moment before gently peeling 
the tape back from one corner. She tugged, and a bundle of whisper light lace slid into her lap. 
Cuddy picked one up and stared at it.

 

“You and gloves . . . out of all the damned things to have a fetish over . . . “

 

“Shhhhh, cater to my sick little whim—you know you WANT to,” House whispered back, leaning 
closer. Cuddy was already drawing one on, sliding it over her slender forearm with sultry grace. 
Her pale skin showed through the gauzy designs, and after she’d pulled on both of them she 
flexed her fingers.

 

“Okay, they have a certain amount of . . . class . . . “ came her observation. House let his 
fingers circle her wrist; he brought her palm to his chest and his gaze traveled down the length 
of her arm.

 

“They make you look like an evil princess.”

 

“Maybe I AM an evil princess.”

 

“I don’t think there’s any ‘maybe’ about it,” House growled. He pulled up the last gift for her; the 
one expertly wrapped. “Here,” he added; a slightly strangled note of desperation in his voice. 
Cuddy took the box, letting her gloved fingertips slide over the big bow, toying with it. She was 
delighted to note that House’s hot blue gaze never left her hands.

 

Carefully, as if she had hours of time Cuddy tugged on the ribbon and undid the bow in a 
teasing fashion. Next to her on the sofa House shifted a little. “Stop seducing the box already 
and open it.”

 

“Pushy, pushy—“ she complained gently as she lifted the lid off and folded back the sparkly 
tissue paper. Cuddy stared, and a rosy flush crept up her face. For a moment neither of them 
said a word, and then she reached for the gold envelope.

 

House watched her carefully, noting the quick beat of her pulse at Cuddy’s throat, the flutter of 
her lashes as she read the card. Quicksilver excitement surged through his system in little 
alternating charges of hope and caution.

 

Cuddy looked over the top of the card at him, her eyes glinting now in that shade of sea storm 
blue that always intrigued him.

 

“Do you really mean this?” came her demand, soft and urgent as she waved the card at him. 
House nodded. He had no idea what the card said, but clearly it was doing the trick; Cuddy was 
right on the edge, almost ready to acquiesce.

 

“Yep.”

 

A beat; Cuddy waited a moment then drew in a deep breath, rising up with the box in her gloved 
hands. “All right then. I will get into this outfit on ONE condition, Gregory Phillip House, and one 
condition only.”

 

“Yeeeess?” he encouraged cautiously. Cuddy pointed with her chin at the last present on the 
table; the package wrapped in nearly identical paper to the box in her hands.

 

“You have to do the same.”

 

House paused, delicately. His mind raced through the possibilities with the speed of a computer 
and finally he nodded, feeling the warmth of a successful bluff—after all, the worst case 
scenario would probably be a pair of outré boxers he could always shove to the back of his 
underwear drawer in later days.

 

Cuddy flashed him a smile, “Lovely. I’ll go change and then it will be YOUR turn.” She sauntered 
into the bedroom and he settled back, fighting the rising gloat of sheer masculine delight. He 
folded his hands behind his head, listening happily to the rustle of clothing in the other room as 
it mingled with the sound of the ocean outside.

 

“Merry Christmas to ME, “ he softly chanted.

 

A few minutes later he heard the soft footsteps coming back out; House turned in quick 
anticipation that fell at the sight of Cuddy in her velour bathrobe. She shook her head.

 

“No peeking until you’re . . . dressed.”

 

House glared at her. She leaned against the doorway, and let part of the robe open slightly. 
Enough to make him blink and reach for his cane, fumbling a little. “No maybe about it at ALL. 
Okay, we’ll play this little Christmas cheer YOUR way for the moment, oh Evil Princess. But 
once I’m back out be prepared to pay.”

 

He passed her, his fingers stroking the collar of her robe, attempting to flick it open but Cuddy 
merely laughed at him. “Greg—don’t forget to read the card,” she called before pushing herself 
away from the doorframe and walking over to the sofa. In her head she began counting even as 
she listened to the tearing of the paper, One, two, three, four—

 

The quick sharp taps of cane and outraged man made the floorboards creak; House glaring 
from the doorway, his glower seeming to throw sparks of annoyance; even his hair seem to 
curl with indignation.

 

“You,” he began in a low and threatening tone, “Have GOT to be snorting crack, She-Beast. 
The House love python isn’t going to FIT in that . . . hackysack!”

 

The effort of not bursting into gales of laughter was hard, hard hard—Cuddy bit her lips and felt 
her face go red with the effort. She gulped a deep breath and looked over the back of the sofa 
at him, her eyes watering.

 

“Did you . . . read the card?”

 

“Sorry, I was too distracted by the flame-covered GAFF you bought me!” House growled. 
Cuddy gripped the cushions tightly and fought down more hilarity.

 

“Read it—just, read it.”

 

With an exasperated sigh House turned reluctantly back into the bedroom; Cuddy heard him 
fumbling with paper. A few more seconds went by and she held her breath. Then House’s voice 
rolled out, his tone low. And slightly dangerous. “Oh God. NOT fair.”

 

“All’s fair in love and underwear, Greg.”

 

“Damn it. I want it on the record that for you, and ONLY for you would I even consider this,” 
came his unhappy grouse.

 

“Noted. Are you coming out?”

 

“In this damned thing, from every angle, apparently—I think you need to come in here.” His tone 
turned wheedling. “Where this nice big bed is, you know?”

 

Laughing, Cuddy pushed herself up from the sofa and slowly walked into the bedroom. House 
was there on the bed, propped up with his back against the headboard, his arms folded across 
his chest in absolute defiance. He wore nothing but a sour expression and the greatly 
expanded posing pouch; Cuddy admired the bulging flames.

 

“Any and all camera phones will be confiscated and put where the sun don’t shine—“ House 
warned. Cuddy threw her robe off in a lazy confident gesture, dropping her gloved hands on her 
hips.

 

“Do I look like I could HIDE a camera phone anywhere on this?”

 

House blinked. “I better check . . . “ he muttered in a low, rapid voice. “In fact I insist. Top to 
bottom, She-Beast every secret little place onyousogetthe hellOVERhererightNOW.”

 

Cuddy sauntered, rolling her hips in ways that would have done Lily St. Cyr proud; House he 
leaned forward to snag her but she pulled back and smoothed her gloved hands over her 
bustier corset, grinning.

 

“Like it?”

 

“The very image of you is seared on my libido, my Evil Princess. The only way to douse these 
flames,” he gestured vaguely towards his significantly increased bulge, “Would be to drown 
them in bodily fluids.”

 

“Mmmmm,” she agreed throatily. Cuddy climbed onto the bed and lightly straddled House’s 
knees. She dropped forward a bit, giving him a breathtaking view of her pushed up cleavage 
and ran a lace-covered finger along the straining pouch. “I think you’re going to pop it.”

 

“No shit,” House snapped. “You made a promise on that card, so make with the teeth, 
She-Beast.”

 

At that Cuddy laughed, letting her giddy arousal echo in the sound. The sight of nearly naked 
Greg was always a thrill, but the added naughty touch of seeing the best part of him bound up in 
flame-printed silk was utterly delightful. She bent lower and breathed on the pouch as House 
groaned, his hands sliding onto her shoulders.

 

“Get your jollies now because once I am out of this thing it’s history . . . oohhhhhhhyeah—“ his 
words died away as Cuddy wetly mouthed the thin silk, the heat and dampness of her tongue 
sending shivers all through his frame. He closed his eyes for a moment and Cuddy lightly 
nibbled.

 

Working slowly, she nipped at the strap as it rose along his left hip, finding the little hook hidden 
in the elastic. Carefully, Cuddy managed to undo it, and used her teeth to peel back the pouch. 
Once the cloth shifted, House’s turgid shaft flexed forward, free at last, rising thickly from the 
tangle of wiry fur around the base and grazing her cheek.

 

“Nice,” came her whisper. Cuddy turned her face and deliberately brought her gloved hands up 
to caress the veiny pillar of his cock. House fought a deep shudder of intense pleasure. He 
watched her intently, and flexed against the tickle of lace against his sensitive flesh.

 

She slid her gloved fingers up and around his prick, teasing it to straining stiffness, and House 
began to breathe erratically, his own hands tightening on her shoulders after a few slow 
delicious moments of her teasing.

 

“I want to bury myself in you—“ he groaned, “deep. And stay there all night, Lisa.”

 

Cuddy squeezed her eyes shut, fighting tears and the shocking flood of desire that surged 
through her body. She nodded, her long hair spilling over her shoulders as she scooted up and straddled his hips. Carefully House guided himself against the hothouse flower of her pussy, 
working the thick head of his shaft back and forth along the outside of her until the slickness of 
her arousal drenched him.

 

“Now—“ she whispered, her hands sliding around his wide shoulders. “God Greg, I want you, 
please, NOW.”

 

“No,” came his gasp from between clenched teeth. “I need something more, She-Beast. You 
know what I want.”

 

“Greg . . .” Cuddy whimpered, trying to push herself onto him. House had a firm grip around the 
head of his cock, holding back, preventing her. She tugged at his wrist, her gloved fingers too 
small to fully grip it. House used his other hand to cup the back of her slender neck and pull her 
face to his; as his mouth touched hers he spoke again, his voice a quiet plea.

 

“Say it! I KNOW it, Lisa, but God damn it, you’re going to SAY it if you want me!”

 

Something within her soared and burst; Cuddy felt as if a boulder had been rolled off her chest. 
“I love you Greg. I’ve loved you for a long, long time,” she gasped, kissing him frantically. 
“Longer than you’ll ever know. Longer than I want to admit, okay? And most days I told myself it 
was stupid and wrong and completely screwed up because you’d never know and even if you 
did know you’d never love me back. Now for God’s sake FUCK me!”

 

House thrust.

 

Cuddy grunted, her spine arching as she swiftly sank onto him, mad for the solid slick heat of 
his arrogant cock, the rub of fur to fur. She locked her hands behind his neck, moving her body 
in the hard rhythm it demanded, the pleasurable impalement filling her tightly. House’s hands 
cupped her taut ass, hands splaying to grip it as he pulled her onto him and his hips rocked up 
into hers.

 

“Come on, come on sweetheart—“ House urged hoarsely, his whisper against her cheek 
compelling and hungry as he pumped, “Come for me because I’m not going to last, not with you 
fucking my cock like this . . . . oh God, Lisa---“

 

The sound of his voice as he pressed his lips to her ear, his normally smug tone now 
desperate and thick with pleasure did it, and Cuddy felt her body clench and the slow blissful 
waves of raw magic surged through her, rising from her tender bud to resonate through every 
muscle of her body. She gave one sob, clinging tightly to House’s damp chest, burying her face against his neck as he groaned and the searing splashes of his orgasm gushed deep within 
her.

 

***   ***   ***

 

It was a few hours later in the quiet darkness of the night that House woke up. He smiled into 
the darkness, savoring the feel of Cuddy sleeping on him, splayed over his chest like a 
contented cat.

 

He had a plan. Carefully, he reached for her limp right hand and slowly slid the beautiful lace 
glove off, working unhurriedly in the darkness. House did the same for the left, and tossed them 
to the floor.

 

Gently he shifted her off of him, amid some tiny protests, but she rolled over as he sat up and 
made his way to the bathroom. By the time he returned she was curled on her side, breathing shallowly. House reached down for his pants and fished in the pocket. With care, he opened 
his pills and popped two, then climbed back into bed.

 

He slid his left arm over hers, gliding his fingers down until he reached her hand, then very 
gently began sliding the ring onto her finger, moving it up until it nestled snugly and perfectly on 
her hand.

 

House curled up behind her, sighing gently.

 

 

 



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