Summary: He hadn't really come there to kiss her, most certainly not to seduce her, but there they were, their competitive nature still playing a role in an intimate dance of longing and lust…

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The Challenge of Victory

Cuddy groaned as the impatient knocking forced her from her book. She pulled at the zipper on her sweat shirt, making sure that it covered the tank top she was wearing beneath it as she padded down the hall to her door. The knocking continued in a steady beat. She wanted to yell at the person to leave, at the very least to shut up, but, instead, she just rolled her eyes and glanced out the peephole. Her brows knitted together and she considered yelling over the pounding for him to just leave. But she knew he wouldn't.

The knocking stopped as soon as she twisted the deadbolt. House stood there, leering at her- or, knowing him, her breasts. Unconsciously, she shifted her sweat shirt again. "House? What are you doing here?"

He looked up and caught her eye. She recognized the look; mischievous and playful. "Can I ask a hypothetical question?"

She rolled her eyes. "You're going to no matter what I say."

"What would you do if I kissed you right now?"

A confused sound left her lips. Her face scrunched together, her head tilting to the side. "Wh-what?" She looked back at him, finally noticing the telling gleam. "Are you high?"

"No more than usual." She laughed but the humour died before it reached her eyes. "Your reluctance to answer my question makes me think that maybe you wouldn't slap me."

Her hand gripped the notch in the door frame, steadying her as she leaned closer to him. A cocky smirk stretched the corners of her lips; her eyes gleamed with the challenge. "You willing to find out?"

He could only smirk in response. She watched as the options flashed through his mind. She could see his mind spinning, trying to decide how far to push her, trying to decide just what would win the game. He knew, just as well as she knew, that they could step back at any point. But she knew that he was too cocky to, just as she knew that she was too stubborn to. It was their game; she just wasn't sure what new level he was taking them to.

She watched and the seconds ticked by. She grinned. A speechless House was a loosing House. He had gone there knowing what he was doing and already he was loosing his own game.

Her breath caught when he leaned forward suddenly, one hand leaning heavily against his cane, the other holding the doorframe just above her own hand. She felt the need to flinch away from him, but she couldn't. That would be admitting defeat and she couldn't let House beat her.

But the moment his nose gently nuzzled against hers she could feel herself loosing the battle of wills. Her eyes fluttered closed against the onslaught of caresses- his nose brushing over her cheek, his hot breath warming her skin. She knew he was smirking. When she opened her eyes she could see that she was right. It was simply in the nature of their relationship for her to respond, for her to do something to push the ball into his court.

She reached her hand up to touch his chest, pushing him back just enough to be able to meet his gaze. He didn't seem surprised that she had pushed him away; she smirked when his eyes widened momentarily at the feel of her hand stroking his jaw, fingers grazing his neck.

Blue met blue as she dared him to top her. He could only shudder under the feel of her light touch. His eyes dropped to her lips but he didn't lean in to kiss her. Not yet.

He started with her forehead, caressing her smooth skin with his lips. He felt her tremble beneath him. Her eyes fell closed again and he smirked against soft skin as he kissed her eyelid. She even smiled when he kissed the tip of her nose.

"You haven't slapped me yet."

"You haven't actually kissed me yet… I still might."

He just smirked. "Do you want me to kiss you?"

She had always had a habit of biting her lip when she was trying to make up her mind. It was, as much as he hated to admit it, very cute. Her front teeth nibbled at her bottom lip and he watched, suddenly desperate to taste her, to feel her teeth scrapping against his own lips.

And then a stray lock of hair was falling against his nose and her breath was tickling his lips. She was poised, nearly kissing him but unsure if she should. He decided for her. His lips descended on hers before he could think to stop himself. He was sucking at her bottom lip, his own teeth grazing the warm flesh. He could feel her tense, shocked for only a moment, before she leaned into him, competing with him further as she ran her tongue over his lip, shocking him into opening his mouth to her.

It surprised him when he was the one to break off the kiss by leaning away from her. But he noted her smirk- a victorious smirk- and he did the only thing he could think of to make her loose it. His cane thudded against the wood floor as he moved. The door chain jangled against the wall. The door slammed shut. He just watched, his own grin growing as hers faltered. He took her moment of hesitation to wrap his arm around her waist, bringing her to him. She smiled even as she desperately tried to hide it; it only made him smirk wider.

He didn't kiss her, despite the temptation to. Instead he held her eye, one hand fingering the hem of her shirt. She cocked an eyebrow- an instant challenge. He had to hide his grin when she shivered under his touch. He had to hide his own shiver at the feel of her smooth, warm skin beneath his fingertips.

And then she leaned into him, her fingers splaying across his chest, and he worried for a moment that she would push him away. But she didn't. Her breath tickling the sensitive skin by his ear and she even nipped at the lobe, but she didn't pull away. He swallowed a groan and smirked at her as his hand dipped further up her shirt, teasing the clasp of her bra.

He forced his eyes to stay open when her one hand slid up his shoulder, coming to rest on the back of his neck, her fingers tangling themselves in his short curls. He felt the gentle tug, beckoning him to move closer, and he responded out of habit, his lips finding hers without any encouragement.

It was short, a sweet almost hesitant kiss. And suddenly he wondered if she was just responding to the challenge or if she was becoming as turned on as he was. But then she kissed him again, this time more forcefully, letting years of frustration and tension control the kiss.

At some point, his cane had clattered to the floor and her back had been pushed up against the door. He smirked against her lips when she moaned into his mouth- a sound of pleasure and lust that he knew would never leave him. He sucked at her bottom lip and his hands made their way to the front of her shirt. His fingers hesitated over the zipper, tugging at it just enough to cause pressure and not to actually yank it down; he broke away just long enough to see if she would stop him. But her hands cupped his face and brought his lips back to hers and he hesitated a moment longer, wondering which part of her had just given him permission.

Was it the stubborn side that could never back down to his challenge? Was it the horny side that needed someone that night? Or was there actually a side of her that wanted him?

He sighed against her lips, kissing his way from there to her neck as his fingers took their time pulling down at an agonizingly slow rate. He could almost hear her rolling her eyes in frustration.

He had always imagined that, if they ever were to actually have sex, it would be quick and rushed. It would be a surge of alcohol induced hormones or simply the need to feel needed. He had imagined a night of awkward silence where each battled for dominance over the other, and then a morning of awkward avoidance as each battled for dominance over their confusion.

But what he was experiencing was nothing like that.

Her hands had travelled from his neck to his back. They were under his shirt, caressing his back in slow, agonizing strokes. He stopped his task long enough to shake his button down shirt off. She pulled back, reluctantly loosing the feel of his lips against her heated skin to tug at his shirt. He raised his arms for her, holding her gaze as his shirt was pulled over his head.

Almost instantly, his lips were back on hers, his tongue teasing her lips, his teeth gently scrapping at them. His fingers finally tugged apart the zipper of her sweat shirt, but he didn't take it off just then. Instead his lips kissed the side of her mouth, then her jaw, then trailed down her neck and to her collar. His hands, at the same time, were making their way up her torso, pulling up the tank top as he went. His hands were touching skin just enough to make it tickle. He smirked against her skin when she flinched, mentally reminding himself of that exact spot. The tips of his fingers grazed her shoulders, making her shiver against his touch.

In one motion, his hands had slipped the sweat shirt over her shoulders; and in another, his lips met the newly exposed flesh. Kisses peppered her shoulder as his hands gently led her shirt over and down her arms. His cheek brushed against her neck; he could feel her nerves come alive at the feel of his rough stubble. His nose pushed aside the strap to her tank top just as his hands grazed her arms. Covering her ribs for a moment, his hands simply let themselves soak in the feel of her flushed skin and her toned abs. He pulled back so he could look at her as his hands slide under the inbuilt bra. He smiled at the way she watched him through half opened eyes and the way her lips parted and an almost inaudible sound escaped her at the first feel of his palms scrapping over her nipples.

When he imagined them having sex, he imagined himself ripping at her clothing in a mad dash to finish before either of them could think about it twice. He saw a frenzy of lust. But as she kissed him- slowly and firmly, caressing the subtle that adorned his face- he could no longer imagine that. Passion showed itself in gentle caresses and soft kisses. It was a rare moment for him that wild impulses were quieted and slowed.

He kissed her jaw carefully as his hands travelled back up her arms, detouring to find her breast. He caressed them, softly playing with her hardening nipples.

Her hands ran over his chest, pushing him back just slightly. Her lips found his ear, her teeth scrapping and her tongue stroking it. That time he didn't stop the moan from passing his lips and he knew she was smirking. Then she kissed his jaw and whispered to him, "We should probably move this out of the hall."

"You think?"

"I think you'll have some trouble doing this against the door."

He grunted but she knew it was because he was probably already feeling the effects of standing there for so long. He didn't move away from her, instead he led the way in a stumbling effort to reach her room. She laughed as they nearly tripped walking into the living room and she laughed harder he tickled her on purpose. He stopped them in the middle of the living room, five steps from her bedroom, by capturing her lips with his and pulling playfully at the zipper of her jeans. Once again he pulled back a little, cocking an eyebrow at her. She leaned forward, kissing him on the side of his lips. And he smiled- a true smile- for the first time that evening. She hadn't done that in a very long time.

Then she caught his lips with hers, smirking against his lips. She ran her hands through his chest hair as his fingers teased her. His hands rested over her hips, slowly inching the material down. She was growing impatient but he just smirked, continuing to take his time.

He ran his hands over her buttock, pulling her closer to him as she stepped out of the jeans pooled at her feet. Her hand curled around his neck, pulling him down to meet his lips in another shy kiss.

She had always imagined that there would come a day when sexual frustration finally led them into each others' arms. But she had always assumed that it would be rushed, an urgent need for someone and not for intimacy. She imagined that they wouldn't speak, afraid of what they might say. She imagined that she would wake to the sight of an empty bed or that she would wake and slip out before he woke up to convince her otherwise.

But there they were, laughing and teasing, tasting and exploring, slowly and with an intimacy they hadn't shared in a very long time. She knew, just as she knew when it started, that it would be a battle of wills to see who would stop them first. But at some point competition gave way to passion and desire and desperation and even if he had asked her, she wouldn't have told him to stop.

By the time they had made it to the bed, all of their clothes had been discarded. He laid beneath her, taking in the sight of her above him. He ran his hands down her legs. Perfectly sculpted- a runner's legs. His hands travelled back up, running over a firm ass, and then a wonderfully smooth back. The tips of his fingers ran circles on her back; one hand tangled itself into her dark curls. It made him chuckle the way her hair fell into his face, ticking his nose and getting into his mouth. Both hands brushed her hair out of their faces, bringing her closer.

But mostly he chuckled at the answer he had gotten to his question. He hadn't really come there to kiss her, most certainly not to seduce her, but there they were, their competitive nature still playing a role in an intimate dance of longing and lust and plenty of other things that had built up over time.

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Author's Note: So… not sure if the reason House arrive was very realistic, but I hope that what followed was as close as in character as possible considering the plot. Either way, it was fun to write.

Hope you enjoyed. Hugs, JD