Disclaimer: The characters and situations in this story belong to FOX, David Shore, Heel & Toe Films, and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

Spoilers: none really

For Cincoflex, with love!


He'd been getting funny looks all day, and it pissed him off.

House slumped behind his desk and snarled to himself. It should have been a good day; he'd managed to evade clinic duty altogether by ordering Foreman--by pager, yet--to handle it. Chase had seemed more cowed than usual, unable to meet House's eyes for some Austramoron reason that House didn't care about.

Cameron...House frowned. Cameron had some bug up her butt for sure; she had made every excuse possible to avoid staying in the same room as him. And every time she'd looked at him she'd blushed. He would have tormented the reason out of her if he'd been able to make her hold still long enough; it made life a little sweeter when he could frustrate her about something.

Cuddy would have been even better; there was nothing like bantering with the Queen Bitch of the Universe to raise his spirits. Cameron was way too easy sometimes. But he hadn't seen the good Dean all day thanks to a trustees meeting.

And Wilson was out of town, on the one medical conference per year that he didn't hate. House hadn't yet bothered to find out what the hell it was in Las Vegas, of all places, that pulled Jimmyboy back every year, but one of these days he'd get around to it.

Still. A good day by his standards. No clinic duty and he'd gotten in way late without getting caught. Nothing like turning an eight-hour day into a five-hour--

It came to House that he was bored.

He hissed under his breath. Boredom always made him feel like a four-year-old, but there were NO interesting cases, no ordinary ones he cared to waste his intelligence on, and nothing to dooooo. He'd played everything on his GameBoy, soaps were over for the day, and he still hadn't figured out how to get porn through the new hospital firewall. No Wilson to bother, no puzzle-patient to figure out, and he'd sent his minions off to handle labwork and other things that were beneath him.

Suddenly everything felt...blah. House eyed his desk with disfavor and his computer with ennui. Nothing appealed, not making paper airplanes out of the contents of his in-box nor the prospect of cleaning up in online poker. He didn't feel like tossing his ball around, and somehow the idea of going out to find a nurse to harass just didn't do it for him.

Unfortunately, neither did the thought of just going home. All the comforts of his swingin' bachelor pad seemed dull or dumb or too much effort.

Frustrated, House stood up and started wandering around his office, searching aimlessly for something interesting. He considered trying to turn his coffee machine into a still, contemplated writing dirty messages on his own windows with soap, and thought about claiming he'd seen a snake slithering into the ladies' locker room, but he simply couldn't...be...bothered.

When his door opened, it was almost a relief. House used his cane as a pivot to turn and face his visitor, managing to suppress an unholy grin when he found it was Cuddy. Ha, legitimate prey at last, and worthy prey at that. "Need some mouthwash, after all that ass-kissing?"

Okay, it was fairly lame, and Cuddy gave it the bare passing sneer it deserved, but her automatic glare faltered into rapid blinks as she came to a halt in the middle of his office. Then her mouth twisted into a dry, knowing grin.

"Habeneros, House? Really?"

House squinted at this non sequitur, trying to figure out if she meant his own breath, but he'd had the Reuben for lunch.

Cuddy carried on without a pause. "I see the rumors are true. I realize that this is probably another subtle protest against hospital administration, the American health care system, capitalism in general, and me specifically, but there are limits."

She seemed more amused than upset, which confused House further. Had he actually pulled a prank and forgotten about it? Given his penchant to nearly ruin them by hanging around smirking to watch the fun, it didn't seem likely.

"Limits are made to be broken," he riposted weakly. Could someone be framing him for something? Could Cuddy be yanking his chain in obscure revenge?

"There are also decency laws, and while I'm willing to budget for your medical foibles, I'm not going to have the hospital bail you out if you get arrested for indecent exposure."

Indecent ex--

House looked down.

Well, part of him thought in absurd calmness, it could have been worse. He could have chosen the Hot Mama boxers that morning instead of the hot pepper ones.

Resisting the urge to turn, House fumbled for his zipper and yanked it up, but he knew the flush rising on his cheeks was ruining any chance he had of coolness. Cuddy, damn her hide, was openly smirking now.

"You didn't do it on purpose, did you?" She shook her head, her voice going slightly strangled. "And you've got your staff so terrorized that none of them could actually bring themselves to mention it all shift."

"Well, my mother always told me to wear keen underwear," House managed sardonically. Fortunately for his abused dignity, Cuddy was controlling her urge to laugh, but he could just see all his accumulated points draining away. Still, if rumor had it that it was deliberate--

"What's it going to take to keep this quiet?" he asked sourly, knowing that Cuddy would understand what he meant.

She dimpled at him. "I'll let you know," she said sweetly, and spun, striding out the door before he could gather his wits. House gritted his teeth, torn between fury, embarrassment, and a certain sneaking admiration for the way Cuddy had one-upped him.

Then the door opened again, just wide enough for Cuddy to lean in. "I see the other rumors are true, too."

She...winked. "Nice package, Greg."

The door clicked shut. House stared at it for a long, long moment, processing all the implications of that. Finally, a slow, evil smile emerged, and he turned and limped back to his chair.

If that wasn't interest, he didn't know what was.

House definitely wasn't bored any more.