He sat staring morosely at the perfect ivory of the keyboard as his fingers absently traversed the keys in a melancholy improvisational piece in B minor. Head tilted toward the ceiling, his fingers danced toward a slow, burning climax that he greeted with closed eyes and an almost dramatic sigh, tinged with the base-level pleasure of creation.

There was a knock at his door, the obtrusive percussive rhythm clashing starkly with the elegant meter of his piece. Eyebrows arching above closed eyes, he endeavoured to ignore the interruption. The drumming persisted. He opened one eye, a look of frustration flickering across his face as his head returned to its normal tilt, hands pausing reluctantly above polished ivory.

"Fuck." He cursed under his breath, taking a long swallow from the glass of scotch that had left a distinct ring on the front page of a dog-eared medical journal he was using as a coaster. He retrieved his cane from atop the baby grand and stood, reluctantly limping toward the door.

"You'd better be bleeding Wilson!" He growled angrily, ensuring he would be heard on the other side of the door. He swung the door open emphatically only to be met by the stoic figure of one Dean of Medicine, watching him steely eyed, eyebrows raised in expectation.

"Cuddy." House stepped backward awkwardly, his expression a bemused mixture of suspicion and unabated surprise.

"Expecting someone else?" Cuddy attempted to hide her amusement as she regarded him standing before her, unshaven wearing loose sweatpants, a ripped t-shirt and odd socks.

"Yeah, four hookers and a trained seal." House regarded her with thinly veiled intrigue, running a hand through his hair. "Just waiting on the girls now." Unimpressed, Cuddy waved a bottle of Glenievlet in front of him.

"Invite me in." A statement, never a question.

"If you insist." House stepped to the side, holding the edge of the door, gesturing theatrically toward the expanse of his living room with his cane. Cuddy brushed past him, removing her fur overcoat to reveal a figure-hugging black party dress. House turned to watch her as she walked, pushing the door closed with his cane, admiring the movement of muscle beneath fabric as she disappeared into the kitchen.

"Had I have known this was a formal visit, I would have worn my good sweatpants." House called after her, a vague smile tickling his lips. House slowly limped back to the piano stool, leaning his cane against the side of the baby grand. He slid a silent finger along the length of a key in contemplation. A second glass appeared on the journal to his right. House shifted his gaze from the keys to Cuddy who leant with one elbow propped against the piano, her own glass in one hand, the bottle in the other, posture only serving to accentuate her cleavage.

"I suppose this is all the company you need?" She nodded toward the sheer black wood of the baby grand.

"So, what have I done to deserve the pleasure of your company this evening Dr Cuddy?" House downed the remainder of his previous drink in a single mouthful, ignoring her statement, eyes never shifting from her chest.

"I'm surprised you're not out somewhere with Wilson." Cuddy replied, pushing off the piano and walking the three steps to the couch before slowly lowering herself down onto the cushions.

"Foreman and I are mid-way through sorting out a joint custody agreement." House returned his attention to the keys. "I have Wilson on weekdays, he gets him on weekends and public holidays."

"What were you playing before?" Cuddy asked, setting the bottle down on the coffee table before sinking back into the couch to sip her scotch.

"Before I was interrupted?" House shifted to face her, lifting his bad leg over the stool to sit astride it.

"It was beautiful."

"Oh." House paused, staring at the floor in an attempt to hide his discomfort. A great many things never needed to be shared. "Thanks."

"So what exactly do you want?" House broke the silence in an attempt to regain control of the situation. "J Date New Year's party a fizzer? Or is that little number my reward for being such a good boy this year."

"Back off, I came bearing gifts." Cuddy shot him an icy sideways glance. She paused, thawing somewhat. "I've had a terrible evening. I don't want to talk about it."

"Again, why are you here?" House continued patiently, eyes wide in expectation.

"Well," Cuddy began. "It occurred to me in the car on the way home that spending the rest of the evening with you might actually make the rest of my day seem moderately pleasant in comparison."

"Well, I'm flattered." House smiled at her sweetly. "Does this mean I'm getting a New Year's kiss? I've been practicing on the back of my hand all year."

"No!" Cuddy snapped at him. "Look, I've had a crappy night and I just want some company, okay? I've spent the last three New Years at the hospital trying to catch up on paperwork. I've finally got one off and I just didn't want to be alone tonight, so could you lay off the sarcasm and rhetoric for maybe the next hour or so?"

"See," House smiled, his face softening somewhat. "That wasn't too hard, was it?"

Cuddy drained her glass and promptly refilled it.

"Do you want to tell me what happened?" House asked gently.

"No." Cuddy replied curtly. She studied him, finding truth in his eyes. "A friend of mine talked me into going out with her to this party, which I didn't really want to go to…" Cuddy began in spite of herself. "Unbeknownst to me, she had decided to set me up with this asshole." She paused. "It's silly really… I just really wanted to have a good time tonight, is that really too much to ask?"

"What did he say to you?" House prompted, the tenderness in his voice surprised him.

"No." Cuddy sighed, waving her hand dismissively. "I don't even know why I'm letting this get to me. He said I was too old, too bossy and too highly strung."

"Hey." House purred in mock-objection, the ambient light adding to the alluring glint in his eyes. "I'm the only one who gets to speak to you like that."

"But I know I'm not getting any younger," Cuddy continued, somewhat downcast. "I am bossy… Do you think I'm highly strung?"

"No… Well, yeah." House mulled over his choice of words. "You're all that and sooo much more…" House paused, smirking. "The guy must have either been blind or incredibly stupid, I mean the girls are in fine form tonight." House nodded toward Cuddy's chest.

"Thanks." A vaguely appreciative smile spread across Cuddy's lips. She kicked her stilettos off and swung her legs up onto the couch, lying down so that the arm of the couch was nestled under her armpit, hands folded neatly on top.

"Play me something?" Cuddy asked softly.

"You got anything in mind?" House physically shifted his bad leg back over to the piano side of the bench. He leant backward, head tilted theatrically in Cuddy's direction. "Any requests for the piano man?" He offered a quick flourish of his right hand, fingers eliciting a fluid A major scale.

"No." Cuddy sighed. "Just play something." She paused, "something for me." As the words left her lips she realised what she had asked for.

House looked over his shoulder at her, studying her face before shifting his attention to the keyboard in contemplation. Cuddy held her breath, half expecting him to belt out a few verses of 'Yes, we have no bananas.'

"Hmm." House's fingers drifted silently over the keys. "Cuddy…" He mused, index finger caressing the slightly rounded near edge of an F sharp. Cuddy watched in fascination, eyes drawn almost immediately to the slow, deliberate movement of his index finger over the raised end of the key. Trapped somewhere between being marginally disturbed by the implications of her previous request and being somewhat aroused by House's subsequent seemingly subconscious reaction.

House slowly struck a handful of keys, offering a few slow, opening bars in F sharp, which progressed into a steady, somewhat edgy piece. Eyes closed, he was once again immersed in the sheer auditory pleasure of creation, this creation; music in the key of Cuddy. And his subject lay curled on his couch; chin resting on hands, largely in awe of him as he offered the musical equivalent of an impressionist portrait, every note lost for all eternity as it faded into the night. Thoughts manifesting as melody, the piece shifted from quietly confident, to confrontational, to erratic, then tragic, before a key change from major to minor swung the tone from somewhat morose and tinged with regret to something more enticing, more dangerous. It was dark, jazzy and bordered on erotic. Cuddy sat up, leaning forward in her seat entranced by the sheer intensity of the moment. Houses' head swayed slowly from side to side, eyes closed, eyebrows raised, Cuddy thought she may have heard him groan, eyes squeezed shut as he built the piece to an erratic, throbbing crescendo. Eyes open, gazing at the ceiling he slowed the tempo as his playing began to soften and taper away. Cuddy stood, closing the distance between herself and the musician until her knees touched the edge of the piano bench. Sensing her proximity, House lent back into her.

"That was…" Cuddy sighed, fingers tangling through his hair.

"For you." House finished her sentence, craning his neck backward to look up at her, grinning like the man who invented the g-string, fingers still striking the odd key.

Cuddy smiled down at him, fingers firmly massaging his scalp.

"You are just so…" Cuddy lightly tugged at his hair. "Brilliant."

"Talented…" House smiled at her sweetly. Cuddy tugged his head back sharply.

"Smug." She growled at him playfully. "But," Cuddy's fingers resumed caressing his skull. "That was… wonderful, and um, intense."

"That feels nice." House smiled, his eyes flickered shut fingers falling silent above the keys as he leant against her.

"And I thought all that stuff about music soothing the savage beast was just pointless rhetoric." Cuddy teased, fingers sliding down the back of his neck and along the collar of his t-shirt.

"Grrr." House offered half-heartedly in response as Cuddy's deft fingers shifted to the strips of lean muscle that ran from his neck to his shoulders, slowly kneading them.

"I can't believe how relaxed you are." Cuddy located a single knot just above his right shoulder blade, more than likely attributable to cane use. She marked the area through his t-shirt with her thumb before sinking her knuckle into it.

House inhaled sharply, exhaling with a deliciously low groan as the pain caused by her knuckle breaking up knotted muscle fibre dissolved into the ultimately pleasant sensation of blood coursing through the area. Secretly delighted at the effect she was having, Cuddy found herself shivering involuntarily at the sound.

"I'm yours." House pressed his head back against Cuddy's chest, gazing up at her, desperately fighting the urge to bite the nipple just above his right ear through the sheer black fabric of her dress.

"What makes you think I'd even be interested?" Cuddy inquired, fingers actively seeking more knots.

"Well," House shifted his head to the right, gently nuzzling her breast. "The headlights are on high beam. I'd say you're definitely interested."

"My what?" Cuddy paused for a moment; House seized the opportunity and lightly nibbled at the painfully hard bud he had been eyeing off earlier. Cuddy gasped. "You may actually be the single most uninhibited person I've met in my life."

"Rubbish." House mumbled into her chest. "I'm a model of self-control and restraint."

Cuddy's searching fingers uncovered a second knot further down his back, below his shoulder blade and just to the left of his spine. This time she slid her hand up under his t-shirt before sinking her knuckle into his flesh.

"Uhhh." House sighed, back arching against her, relishing the sensation of her warm fingers on his skin. "So utterly ruthless."

"Was that good?" Cuddy inquired sweetly before digging her knuckle in again.

"Ahhh… you have no idea." House closed his eyes, as blood began to shift south, increasing tension in a different group of muscles.

"You know," Cuddy paused, hands shifting to sit motionless on Houses' shoulders. House opened one eye, less than impressed. "It's twenty minutes past twelve."

"Oh." House paused momentarily, attempting to recall the significance of time. He swung his good leg over the piano stool before lifting his bad leg over to join it. House paused momentarily, hands on his thighs looking Cuddy up and down. "I remember now. The dress…" House shifted his hands to Cuddy's waist, slowly and deliberately smoothing the sheer fabric of her dress against the curve of her hips before sharply pulling her toward him. Obligingly, Cuddy hitched her dress up and straddled him, carefully sinking down onto his lap.

"Do you want me to play 'Auld Lang Sine' or something?" House asked, fingertips gliding up her spine.

"Not on the piano." Cuddy purred into his ear.

"Ooo." House chuckled. "You saucy minx. You've got a banjo in the trunk of your car haven't you?"

"No." Cuddy replied, employing her best school headmaster voice. She snared one of his hands and placed it on her inner thigh in that magical space where stocking ended and flesh began.

"I saw what you were doing to that piano key before." Cuddy growled into his ear. "You want to play Auld Lang Sine, play it on me."

"You've never slept with a musician before, have you?" House smiled at her lasciviously, a single finger trailing up her inner thigh.

"Happy New Year, House." Cuddy whispered, biting his earlobe before dragging her nose across his unshaven cheek.

"Is this where we do the whole kissing bit?" House asked, lips brushing hers with every word. "I spent all of last year practicing."

"Show me," Cuddy nipped at his bottom lip.

"Okay," House mumbled, lips meeting hers gently before dragging her into a mind-bendingly deep kiss. It occurred to Cuddy that at that very moment with his hands firmly gripping her hips and his deliciously soft tongue entangled with hers that she may have actually been drowning, not that she'd ever admit it in the light of day.

"Mmmm." Cuddy broke their kiss with a degree of reluctance, shifting against the ample bulge in his sweatpants. "Do you generally get this hard when you're kissing the back of your hand?"

"No, only when Wilson does it."

"Shut up House."