Oh lord. I'm on a roll. Don't get too used to it! Just enjoy the ride. This one takes place during Mirror Mirror. I honestly can't believe I hadn't come up with this prompt earlier. xo, atd

House was fiddling with Mirror Man's IV drip when Cuddy stormed in.

"Please tell me it's just a rumor that one of your fellow candidates electrocuted himself with the defibrillators?"

"Okay," House said. "It's just a rumor."

She folded her arms.

"But it's not a rumor, is it? It actually happened!"

"You told me to tell you it's a rumor. Make up your mind, woman."

"And let me guess, it was the same guy who set the oxygen-rich room on fire?"

House squinted at her.

"Wait…do you actually want to guess or do you want me to tell you that, too? Your clichés are so confusing!"

"I hope you're firing the guy."

"He's currently the leading contender for the job. He reminds me of a young me. Uh, back I when I was a swarthy young Indian man."

Cuddy glared at him.

"Fine by me," she said, leadingly.

"Fine by you?"

"Yes, because when you hire the guy I'll have to take out more liability insurance for your department which will come out of your salary."

Then with a victorious smirk, she clomped away.

Patient X cocked his head, just a bit, so as to get a better look at her ass when she left.

"What a woman," he said.

House, still annoyed by the encounter, shrugged. "She's a bitch," he said.

"Exactly," Patient X said. "And I love a good bitch."

House turned to him, suddenly getting it. He'd forgotten that this guy was mirroring him.

"She's a supervillain in a power suit," he said. "She's… Genghis Thong."

"She's hard in all the right places. And soft in all the right places, too—if you know what I mean," Mirror Man said.

"Ewww," House said, frowning at him.

"I'm just saying: Break me off a piece of that."

"I don't talk that way," House said.

"Who said you did? Are you hearing voices or something? Maybe you should be the one in this bed."

Oh God, having a conversation with a poor simulacrum of himself was proving to be very annoying.

"If you like her so much, why don't you ask her out?" House said. (The idea of Patient X asking Cuddy out amused him to no end.)

"Look at me and look at her," Patient X said glumly. "You think a woman like that is going to give a guy like me the time of day?"

House wasn't sure whether or not he should be offended. Was X talking about himself—or House?

"Why not? You're a handsome guy," he said, cautiously. "Chicks dig you."

"I'm miserable. She knows I'm miserable."

"Lots of people are miserable," House countered.

"She's a smart lady. Beautiful. Successful. Got her shit together. Why would she want me?"

"She did want you—once," House said quietly, to himself.

"What?"

House looked back at Patient X.

"Forget it," he said.

#####

House had been so amused by the prospect of Patient X telling all his fellows things about themselves they didn't want to know, it never occurred to him the guy might tell him things about himself he didn't want to know.

How did the mirroring actually work, anyway? The guy was clearly observant. He picked up on body language, was a good mimic, had an unusually strong aptitude for reading people. But he wasn't psychic. He was just a sick dude lying in a hospital bed who didn't even know his own name.

And yet, House was compelled—almost despite himself—to visit Patient X the next day.

"How you feeling today?" he asked, breezily.

"Fantastic. I love my life," X said sarcastically. "It's better than Cats."

God, so annoying.

"And has the lovely Dr. Cuddy dropped by again to see you?"

"As a matter of fact, she came by for a few minutes earlier. Wanted to see if anyone else had set me on fire. I told her only she did."

"You did?" Patient X flirting with Cuddy when House wasn't in the room made no sense. Unless Cuddy was turned on by herself.

"I, uh, I think I said it," X said, suddenly confused. "I meant to say it."

"So when are you going to make your move, ask her out?" House said.

"I told you, she'd just shoot me down."

"What if I could guarantee you that she'd say yes?" House asked.

"I…I don't know."

"You don't know? I just created some wildly improbable scenario where you ask Dr. Cuddy out and she says yes. Why the hesitation?"

"Because…I like the way things are," X said.

House side-eyed him.

"With the way things are, you're not getting laid."

"We talk, we fight, we flirt. The possibility of sex—or more—always hangs in the air. It's exciting," X explained.

"How can that possibly be better than actually being with her? That's idiotic."

"Then I guess I'm an idiot."

#####

It bugged House to no end that Mirror Man saw him as some sort of wuss who was too afraid and insecure to go after the girl. He comforted himself this way: Sure, Patient X had been good at reading Kutner, Taub, Cutthroat Bitch, and Foreman, but he, Gregory House, was far too complex for that little weasel to read. Anyone with eyeballs could see that he was hot for Cuddy, but that was all. Everything else was just armchair—or in this case, hospital bed— psychology.

Still, the next day he found himself back in Patient X's room.

"Why did you mean by more?" House said, as he began hooking up a new IV. (His fellows had looked at House like he had just sprouted a second head when he volunteered to administer the meds.)

"Huh?"

"You said, the possibility of sex—or more—always hangs in the air between you and Dr. Cuddy. What did you mean by more?"

"I dunno. A relationship, I guess."

"A relationship? Like boyfriend and girlfriend relationship?"

"Why not? She's hot as hell. Smart. And I actually like her. Maybe you've noticed that I can barely stand most people."

House folded his arms and looked at him.

"But yesterday you said that even if you had a guarantee she'd go out with you, you still wouldn't ask her. It makes no sense."

"She likes me. She pretends she doesn't, but she does. But if she really got to know me, saw how totally fucked up I was…"

"She wouldn't like you anymore," House said, getting it.

"Exactly."

House suddenly felt a little queasy.

"You're a coward," he hissed.

"I'm not a coward," Patient X said. "I just don't like change."

"Then you'll be miserable forever," House said, and left.

#####

House couldn't sleep that night. He lay in bed, tossing and turning, rubbing his leg, thinking about what Patient X had said.

There was nothing worse than hearing your own worst self spit back at you. But some part of him knew that everything the little weasel had said was true. He did want Cuddy. And the only thing keeping him from making his move was fear of rejection and change.

If only his hypothetical to Patient X had been real: If only he had some sort of guarantee that Cuddy would say yes. And then he shot up in bed. Of course! He really was an idiot.

#####

Cuddy came rushing into Patient X's room.

"Where are your doctors?" she said, slightly out of breath.

"Running all over the hospital like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off, I suspect," he said.

House, who was lurking just outside the door, smiled. He was channeling Cuddy alright.

"I got a 911 page!" she said. She bent over his bed, checking his meds and vitals, just to be on the safe side. Everything checked out.

"Well, I certainly didn't page you," Patient X said.

"House," she said, shaking her head. Their little power struggle was still in full effect. "I'm going to wring his neck."

"I'd like to wring his neck and…other parts of his anatomy," Patient X said.

Cuddy gave him a funny look. And then she remembered. Mirror syndrome.

From his perch just outside the door, House grinned.

"I'll stick to his neck," Cuddy said.

"I find him very exciting."

"Car crashes are exciting."

"His mind is so…stimulating. It's thrilling to be around such a mind, don't you think?"

"Thrilling…exhausting…infuriating. Take your pick."

"Thrilling," Patient X said.

"That was rhetorical," Cuddy replied.

"You have to admit he's…sexy."

Cuddy chuckled. "I suppose. If you like that type."

"What type? Tall, gorgeous, and hung like a horse?"

House had to actually put his hand over his mouth to stifle a laugh.

Cuddy squinted at him, "How would you even know that he's... Nevermind."

"It's hard to concentrate when he's in the room, isn't it?" Patient X said.

"And yet, somehow I manage."

"Usually I pride myself on being in control, 24/7. But when House is around, I lose control."

She looked at him.

"That must be, um, hard for you."

"It is. I've always had to be a little bit better than everyone else. Smarter, better prepared, more willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. But when I'm around House, it's hard not to think about all the. . . things he could do to me, you know?"

House tilted his head closer to the door, delighted by this turn of events.

"No, but I'm sure you're about to tell me," Cuddy said.

"Like take me over his knee and spank me. Or fuck me up against a wall."

Cuddy's eyes widened. This conversation had just gone from mildly uncomfortable to deeply inappropriate.

"I should really….go," she said, bolting from the room. She beat such a hasty retreat that House didn't have time to escape. She practically collided with him in the doorway.

"Were you…eavesdropping?" she said, aghast.

"So you want me to spank you, huh?" he said, not able to conceal his glee. "Oh Dr. Cuddy, you're full of surprises."

"That wasn't me. That was your patient. Who is apparently gay."

"That was you. It's called Mirror Syndrome. He was just saying what you feel. Do you want me to spank you now or later? We could go back to my office. I'll lock the door. You can call me Dr. Pain."

"You're a pig."

"And you're a dirty, dirty girl."

"A word of this and you're fired."

"Is that part of our role playing? Do I spank you before or after you fire me?"

"Who's getting fired and who's getting spanked?"

Cuddy and House, who had practically been chest-to-chest, both stopped and turned to the sound of the voice. Wilson was standing there, his hands shoved deeply into the pockets of his lab coat, looking quizzical.

"Nobody is getting fired and nobody is getting spanked," Cuddy said, firmly.

"Well, somebody might be spanked, if she plays her cards right," House said, with a wink.

"House…"

"Mirror boy has picked up on Cuddy's kinks, apparently," House said.

Wilson folded his arms.

"And you somehow managed to overhear this?"

"He paged me," Cuddy said, glaring. "And then he was standing outside the door, eavesdropping,"

"Huh, why would he do that?" Wilson said.

"I just happened to be walking by," House said.

"Liar!" Cuddy and Wilson said, in unison.

"You paged Cuddy specifically so you could eavesdrop," Wilson said. "Seems only fair that you should flip the script and let Cuddy hear what Mirror Man has to say to you."

"Excellent idea," Cuddy agreed.

"Whose side are you on, Wilson?" House said, testily.

"I'm on the side of…you two no longer playing schoolyard pranks on each other and finally owning up to your feelings! So Cuddy wants you to spank her. Good for her…"

"I don't—" Cuddy protested, but Wilson silenced her with a raised hand.

"The real question is: What do you want Cuddy to do to you?" Wilson said to House.

"Hey, I'm wide open," House said, with a tiny leer. "The possibilities are literally limitless."

"Why don't we let Mirror Man tell us. I can't be in the room though." He turned to Cuddy, "Apparently, I'm the alpha in my relationship with House."

"We were in the OR and he was performing the surgery!" House objected, a bit too forcefully (somehow, it was very important to him that Cuddy saw him as more manly than Wilson).

"You just keep telling yourself that," Wilson said, giving House a patronizing pat on the shoulder. "Now why don't you go in there? Cuddy and I will be right outside."

"No," House said, folding his arms.

"No?"

"No!"

"What are you afraid of, House?" Cuddy said. Suddenly, she was the one loving this.

"Nothing. I refuse to take advantage of my patient's serious illness for your amusement."

Cuddy rolled her eyes.

"Try harder, House," she said.

"Oh, the irony is rich…" Wilson quipped.

"What makes you think he's going to bring up Cuddy anyway?" House sputtered.

"Your behavior. Right now," Wilson said.

House felt trapped.

"Fine," he said. "But prepare for disappointment." He inhaled and entered the room.

"You just missed Dr. Cuddy!" Patient X said. "When she bent over to check on my rash I could see up her blouse. It was very…arousing."

"How are you feeling?" House said, trying to change the subject.

"I told you, moron—aroused. Also, I've been thinking about what you said."

"I didn't say anything," House said, quickly.

"The thing about asking out Dr. Cuddy. About how not asking her out would keep me suspended in a permanent state of misery."

"I never. . ."

"You're right, if I want a real relationship with Dr. Cuddy, I need to man-up and ask her out."

In a panic, House looked down at his pager.

"Hospital emergency. Would love to stay and chat, but gotta go."

House bolted quickly from the room hoping that Wilson and Cuddy might actually buy the whole emergency routine. Instead, they blocked his path in the hallway.

"You want a relationship with me?" Cuddy said, her eyes dancing.

"No!" House said, aghast.

"Not asking me out would make you miserable?" she asked.

"No!"

"Hey, at least my conversation was about sex. You seem to be in love with me."

"Shut up!"

"Never!"

"I'd take you over my knee, but you would apparently like that!"

"You wish!"

They were chest-to-chest again, yelling, at this point just hurling random, incoherent invectives at each other.

Bringing his two index fingers to his mouth, Wilson gave a loud whistle.

They both stopped, stunned. They'd forgotten he was there.

"What part of, 'We're standing in a hospital hallway' have you two forgotten?"

House and Cuddy exchanged a guilty look. Cuddy smoothed her skirt as though they actually had just been having sex.

"Sorry, you're right," Cuddy said. "We'll pick this up in my office. And we promise to keep our voices down."

"You do that," Wilson said, knowingly.

House cautiously followed Cuddy toward her office, not knowing what to expect. Had he gone too far this time? Was he in real trouble? But when they were halfway there, Cuddy turned to him and whispered, "Are you as horny as I am right now?"

"Ohmygod, more," he said.

#####

When they got to Cuddy's office, she locked the door and lowered the blinds and House stared at her, with a mixture of awe and excitement. This was really happening. It was 3 o clock in the afternoon.

He dove for her, hungrily, and she reciprocated in kind. They were passionately kissing, scratching, groping—she had managed to wrap her leg around him in this extremely acrobatic way and he reached up her skirt, feeling between her thighs, and he was so hot for her, so consumed with desire, he could barely perform. But he managed pull down his pants and enter her, even on his bum leg—covering Cuddy's mouth with his hand as she started to scream (she bit his hand, which turned him on further), using all his will to contain his own moans and grunts as he thrust. And when they both came, they sank slowly, side-by-side on the floor of her office.

"House," Cuddy giggled. "You just fucked me up against a wall."

"It would appear so," House said.

"But no spanking"—and then she gave him a dirty smile—"yet."

#####

You would think that House would be on cloud nine, not just because of the totally unexpected, mindblowing sex, but because for the next few weeks, they continued to have sex, all around the hospital and eventually, back at Cuddy's place, where there was no spanking, but one day—with a sexy "go figure" look on her face—Cuddy cheekily brandished a pair of handcuffs. (Having Cuddy squirm with pleasure under him as she was chained to the bedpost was quite literally the greatest turn-on of his life.)

Mirror Man—whose real name, it turned out was Robert Eliot—was long gone, but House didn't need that guy to tell him what was eating away at him. He feared that he was Cuddy's dirty little secret, a way for her to get off, but that it was never going to progress beyond sex. (They hadn't even told Wilson they were hooking up. "We agreed to disagree," House had lied, lamely, when his friend inquired about the resolution of their argument.)

And every time Cuddy came to talk to him—whether about a work matter or to arrange their next rendezvous—his heart raced a little because he was afraid she was going to end it, tell him that she'd washed him out of her system and was ready to move on.

He was at his desk, having this anxious thought, when he heard Cuddy say, "Hi."

He looked up.

"Hi back," he said.

She shuffled her feet girlishly.

"You free tonight?"

He exhaled a bit, as he always did when the news was good.

"I was going to rearrange my sock drawer, but it can probably wait," he said, dumbly grinning at her.

"Good," she said, grinning back.

"Usual time?" he asked.

"Sure…" and then she hesitated. "Unless?"

"Unless what?"

"Unless you'd like to come earlier. I could make dinner. I defrosted a chicken. No big deal, as you'll find out soon enough. I'm a terrible cook. . ."

She was going on now about some recipe she was thinking of trying and how her sister Julia was a great cook but she hadn't inherited the gene and how she had a nice bottle of pinot grigio she was saving for a special occasion and this seemed like as good a time as any and how if she cooked, he was doing the dishes, no questions asked—but House was so happy, he could barely hear her.

"I'd absolutely love to," he said.

THE END