High Stakes

By Ellie J

Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue.

A/N: This is the result of the Huddy Fic Exchange that I had signed up for. I do not know what happened with the Huddy Exchange. We were supposed to have our stories completed last week, and I never received any posting instructions. My challenge was to do an 'All In' related fic with poker and kissing. I know very little about poker so I hope this all makes sense. I've always wanted to do an 'All In' related fic to help deal with my bitterness regarding PianoSex!, and I was happy that this finally gave me the opportunity.


"I can't believe you invited Cuddy here to play poker!" House yelled at Wilson who was in the kitchen preparing food for the evening's 'festivities.'

Wilson rolled his eyes. This was House's seventh tantrum since Wilson had told him about inviting Cuddy over. "Okay, first of all, you're the one that told me I had to invite someone else to this little poker game because it's, and I quote, 'No fun playing your sorry white ass by yourself.' Secondly, you're the one who insisted on having this little makeup game in the first place."

"Only because your smugness at winning the tournament was becoming unbearably boring. I didn't mean for you to invite the Queen of Darkness into my poor defenseless home. I'll probably have to have an exorcism afterwards just for protection. You couldn't have invited anyone else?" he whined.

"I guess I could have always invited Julie over. I'm sure she'd love to spend some alone time with both of us in a room full of heavy objects. You could have invited your normal poker group," Wilson pointed out, allowing a little bitterness to seep into his tone.

House rolled his eyes. "For the last time, I am not inflicting you on my poker buddies!"

"Then don't complain about me inviting Cuddy over here."

"So this is some petty revenge because I won't let you play poker with my regular group?" House asked outraged.

"Says the King of Petty Revenge," Wilson said under his breath, but still loud enough for House to hear.

"Remember that when your time comes," House said darkly and returned to the television.

Wilson shook his head and returned to chopping the onion for the dip he was making. Annoying House was only a part of the reason he'd invited Cuddy tonight. She'd been … down lately. Her normally confident stride down the hospital hallways had lost some of its zip, and her eyes were shadowed with some unknown burden. The fundraiser had been the first time in a long time where he'd seen her actually relax and enjoy herself, but then her patient had gotten sick, and the evening had gone to hell, and since then she'd become even more subdued. Perhaps subdued wasn't the right word – it wasn't that obvious. It was more that she seemed to be in work mode all of the time, and it was starting to wear her out.

So when House had demanded a poker rematch and told him to get at least one more person there, he'd impulsively invited Cuddy. She'd been reluctant at first, but Wilson – who could be very persuasive when he wanted to be – had gone to work on her, and she'd finally agreed. He only hoped that House's obviously sour mood didn't make things even worse for her.


Cuddy made the turn onto House's street, wondering for the millionth time why she'd agreed to this. She'd declined when Wilson had first asked her to come, but he'd been persistent and … well … here she was. She supposed she couldn't help remember how relaxed she'd felt at the fundraiser when she was playing with them. It had been the first time in what seemed like forever that she'd felt like just 'Lisa' again and not Dr. Cuddy, M.D., Dean of Medicine. That lost 'Lisa' feeling, she hated to admit, was the reason she had been neglectful of her patient. She hadn't wanted to give it up, and because of that, a little boy had almost died. If it hadn't been for House and his white whale, she didn't like to think of what would have probably happened. Since then, she'd thrown herself into work as some sort of penance for her behavior that evening, but that was only making the root problem worse.

Cuddy had been thinking about her life a lot lately. She loved her job and was very good at it. She'd managed to obtain every professional goal she'd set for herself. Her personal goals, however, were a completely different matter. She wasn't really bothered about not being married and not having 2.2 kids. She was more bothered by the realization that she didn't even have a personal life anymore. She couldn't remember the last time she'd gone out with someone more that a couple of times, let alone the last time she'd been in a real relationship. Hell, she couldn't even remember the last time she'd taken a weekend off to just hang out with her friends. Cuddy was afraid that she was going to end up being one of those people who retired from work and realized that they didn't have anything to retire to. She had decided that she needed to find some balance to her life, and so here she was. Of course, poker with House and Wilson probably didn't constitute getting away from work, but it was better than nothing.

Cuddy looked up and was surprised to find herself already in front of House's apartment. She grabbed the bags of booze she had brought with her and made her way to his door and knocked. She heard Wilson yelling but couldn't make out the words.

"I'm not sure if it's safe to let her in," House yelled as he opened the door. "What's the rule about vampires?" he asked as he watched her stand there with the heavy bags.

"I have heavy bags, and if you don't let me in now, I will drop them on your foot," she threatened. House smiled and gestured for her to enter. Wilson came out from the kitchen and took the bags from her.

"Sorry," he apologized, gesturing towards House.

"I didn't actually expect him to be nice, so no problem," she answered.

House grunted in annoyance. "That's right. Talk about the poor cripple as if he weren't in the room. I'm just not a real person to you people," he groused. Cuddy and Wilson shared matching amused expressions before Wilson turned to go back into the kitchen to finish up with the food.

"Do you need any help?" Cuddy asked as she took off her jacket.

"I'm good," Wilson answered.

Cuddy turned towards House to ask him where to hang up her coat, but was stopped by the slack jawed expression on his face.

"House?" she asked.

"Hold on a moment," he said, raising his hand. "I'm just racking my brain for a fundraiser where you can wear those jeans. You would rake in money by the millions. We could build an entire new wing for the hospital: The Assets of Lisa Cuddy Memorial Wing. A picture of your ass in those jeans could hang above the entrance. I know I would come and pay my respects everyday."

Cuddy rolled her eyes even as she felt pleased at his compliment. It had felt good to put on the jeans and simple red V-neck shirt and to push her feet into comfortable sandals instead of her normal pumps. She was just 'Lisa' for tonight.

Cuddy raised the jacket in her hand and looked at House inquiringly. House gestured for her to put it anywhere and she laid it across the back of a chair.

"So…" she began, feeling a little uncomfortable. It had been a long time since she and House had 'hung' out away from the hospital. "Wilson wouldn't tell me why you wanted to organize this little poker party."

House sat down at the card table he had set up, and Cuddy sat down across from him. "I wanted to kick Wilson's ass," he replied, "but poker's no fun with just two people so I told him to invite some more friends. He doesn't have anyone else besides me, and, knowing that you have no life, he decided to ask you."

"Shut up. Just for that, I'm not bringing you one of the drinks that Cuddy so graciously provided," Wilson said from the kitchen.

"She probably just brought girly drinks," House protested with a smirk at Cuddy. She raised her eyebrow and smiled back.

"She brought your favorite beer," Wilson informed him as he brought out several glasses.

"Cuddy, I've told you a million times, it won't do you any good to try and get me drunk. I'm not sleeping with you again!" he said, taking the glass from Wilson's outstretched hand.

Cuddy took hers with a thankful smile. "Are you sure you don't need any help in there, Wilson?" she asked.

House answered for him. "Wilson is a complete Prima Donna in the kitchen. He won't let anyone else in there while he's creating his masterpieces. There's a two hundred dollar buy in for the game. Hand it over," House said, abruptly changing the subject and extending his hand out to get Cuddy's money.

"I want to see your money first," Cuddy said as opened her purse to retrieve her money.

"You don't trust me?" he asked in hurt voice.

Cuddy smiled wryly at him. "I know you." He grabbed a wooden box that he had on his mantle and opened it to show the small pile of money already inside. Cuddy handed House her money as she snuck a closer look at the box. She smiled. House had kept that box on his dresser when they had known each other in Michigan.

Cuddy shook her head and forced herself to look away from the box -- and the memories it caused -- to the rest of House's bric-a-brac. Most people would have thrown away many of the things he had proudly displayed, but then House was definitely not most people. It was an unusual assortment of items. Everything from rocks to art and from musical instruments to empty colored glass bottles – and all of it giving her a tiny insight into the wonder that was House's mind. Her gaze returned, once more, to the plain wooden box on the mantle.

"Don't think I'm not noticing you casing out the joint. If the money disappears, I'm siccing the cops on your delectable ass," he said, drawing her out of her silent contemplation as he handed her a stack of poker chips.

She blushed at having been caught looking at his things, but she met his gaze with amusement. "I'm just surprised that it's so clean. I expected to step over pizza boxes and the place smelling like dirty laundry with two swinging bachelors living here."

"Don't get too excited. Wilson's got a maid coming in to tidy up after us."

Cuddy snorted. "Wilson must pay really well for her to be willing to clean up after the two of you."

"Well," House whispered loudly, "Julie did think that they were doing the horizontal tango. Or maybe it's the vertical tango. I really don't know what positions Wilson likes."

"I am not sleeping with the maid," Wilson said in an exasperated voice as he brought out a plate of snacks.

"I think the Doc protests too much, don't you Cuddy?" House said as he grabbed a sandwich and took a big bite.

"Is she hot?" Cuddy asked, enjoying Wilson's flustered state far more than she should have.

"Oh yeah," House leered. "She's got that sultry Latina thing going for her. Wilson's been living la vida loca, all right."

"I am not screwing the maid!" Wilson yelled. Cuddy met House's gaze, and for one brief moment she and House were back at Michigan and laughing over a shared joke at the local watering hole. But then House looked away and Cuddy was forced back into the present.

"So are we ever going to get started?" Cuddy asked, needing to distract herself from the sudden trip down memory lane.

"That anxious to lose your clothing?" House asked with a faux-innocent smile.

"I am not playing strip poker with you, House," Cuddy replied without missing a beat.

"Wilson, you didn't tell her that it was a strip poker tournament? I'm ashamed of you getting her here on false pretenses."

"I'm not playing strip poker," she repeated in her no nonsense voice.

"Fine," House said with staged reluctance as he and opened up a deck of cards. "Ante up, everyone. The game is five-card draw; jokers are wild," he said as he began to shuffle. He placed the deck next to Wilson, who cut them, before picking them up again to deal them out.

Cuddy glanced at her cards before looking up to watch her opponents. House met her gaze with a smile that could have meant anything from, "I've got a royal flush," to "Your love pillows look very happy in that shirt." She met his gaze head on with a raised eyebrow. Wilson's expression was carefully blank.

Cuddy opened up the betting by throwing in a five dollar chip into the middle of the table.

"Hmmm… the lady starts up with a low bet. Does that mean she's got crappy cards?" House mused loudly.

"It could just mean that I don't want to take your money away from you too quickly. I could speed things up if you don't have the stamina to go all night," she said a little wickedly. Wilson, who was in the middle of taking a drink, spluttered all over himself.

House shot him an amused glance before returning to Cuddy's aggressive gaze. "No," he answered conversationally, "slow and steady works for me."

Wilson shot both of his friends a somewhat harried look before throwing his own chip into the pot. "Call," he said to draw their attention back to the game.

House peeked at his cards. "I'll see your five and raise you ten," he said, throwing fifteen dollars into the pot.

"Call," Cuddy said, throwing another ten into the pot.

"Call," Wilson followed.

"Do you want any cards, Dr. Cuddy?" House asked.

"One," she said as she put a card down and accepted one from House.

"Wilson?"

"I'll take two," he answered.

"And the dealer takes one."

Cuddy threw another chip into the middle of the table. "I'll raise ten."

"Fold," Wilson said as he threw down his cards.

"I'll see your ten and raise you another ten," House answered after he watched her for a moment.

"Call," Cuddy answered and laid down her cards. "Three Kings," she said gleefully.

"Two pair," House said a little sourly, and Cuddy scooped up her winnings with a giggle.

As the evening proceeded, House and Cuddy's piles both got bigger as Wilson's pile got smaller.

"I'm totally wearing a shirt tomorrow that says 'Dr. Wilson Sucks at Poker," House said triumphantly as Wilson folded his most recent hand.

Cuddy chuckled at Wilson's sour expression as she threw some chips in and raised the bet even more. House watched her closely. She'd been drinking steadily earlier in the evening, but had stopped for the last few hands. She was still very … mellow, however. This could be fun.

"Now if we were going to make it really interesting," House pretended to muse as he added his own chips to the pile, "we would bet for something besides money."

"I'm not drunk enough to play strip poker with you," she told him quickly, and he smiled wolfishly.

"I'm just saying we could be betting for clinic hours, lectures … or maybe sexual favors."

"You wish," Cuddy snorted. "Your money's good enough for me, House."

"What's the matter, Cuddy? You afraid your cards can't handle the extra pressure." Her eyes narrowed and he knew he almost had her. A relaxed Cuddy was a reckless Cuddy, and a reckless Cuddy was a Cuddy who hated to be called 'chicken'.

"What are you proposing?"

"It's simple. I win this hand, you do something for me. You win, and I do something for you."

"Something?" she asked distrustfully.

"Yes something," he answered smugly. "I'll even narrow it down for you. I'll either ask to play 'Five Minutes in Heaven' with you in the bathroom here – my closet's not big enough -- or I'll ask for a week off of clinic." He smiled as he watched her look at her cards and bite her lip as she thought his offer over. "Come on, Cuddy. You know you want to get me in some lecture hall somewhere to give a boring speech. This is your chance. A House never welshes on a bet."

Cuddy glanced at her cards once more before looking up to give House a wicked smile. "You're on. I win this hand, you have to give a two hour long speech at the symposium we're hosting next month. And you have to talk the entire two hours about a medically relevant topic," she added, knowing House would likely go up to the podium and do tricks with his cane for the entire two hours.

"Agreed."

Wilson almost felt like a voyeur as he watched them stare at each other, two sets of blue eyes glowing with anticipation. He desperately wanted to move, but for some reason he was frozen to his seat.

"Ladies first," House told her.

Cuddy smiled as she put her cards down. "A flush," she said with a smile.

House looked at and shook his head. "That's a good hand. Just not as good as mine. Queens full of eights!" he said triumphantly as he laid down a full house. "Now as to my prize," he said as he waggled his eyebrows. "What will it be? Five minutes with you alone in my bathroom, or a week off of clinic duty?"

Cuddy looked over to Wilson, suddenly remembering that he was there, and blushed. House blatantly looked Cuddy over as he pretended to make up his mind. She was sure that he was just toying with her, but one was never really sure with House. She forced a bored expression onto her face as she met his gaze.

"I guess," he finally said in a drawn out manner, "I'm going to go with the clinic hours. I seriously doubt that five minutes would be enough time to get you to relax enough to cop a decent feel."

Cuddy snorted as she fought to push down a tiny pang of something like regret. "And I thought with your little trigger problem, you would have a difficult time lasting the whole five minutes," she shot back.

"Trigger problem?" Wilson asked with a chuckle.

House shot him an annoyed look. "She's just upset that I don't want to make the effort to get her all hot and bothered and so she's trying to start a horrible – and blatantly untrue – rumor about me."

"I'm trying to start a rumor about you?" she asked, her voice going up an octave in outrage. "From the man who told his staff that I was a fully functional hermaphrodite!"

"Only the one," House protested.

"Who?" Wilson asked.

"Chase," House answered unapologetically, "and the look on his face every time he was in the same room with you was totally worth it."

Cuddy opened her mouth to make a scathing reply, but an image of Chase's red face as he studiously avoided looking at her entered her mind, and she ended up laughing instead. "God, he didn't look at me for the first month he was here. I finally cornered him and asked him what the hell was going on."

"What did he say?" Wilson asked.

"Something about him trying to overcome his prejudices, and that it was a problem with him and that he was working on it. I could have easily killed you that day," she told House as she continued to laugh.

House smiled as he watched Cuddy laugh and allowed a warm feeling to overtake him for a moment because he put that smile on her face. The moment was quickly over as Cuddy glanced at the clock, and he could see the Dean of Medicine make a reappearance.

"We should probably cash in," she said regretfully.

"Come on, Cuddy," he whined. We haven't even bankrupted Wilson yet."

"At least have a cup of coffee before you go to help get the last bit of alcohol out of your system," Wilson suggested.

"You know, coffee really doesn't help sober a person up," House said.

"Then you won't care either way," Wilson said as he went into the kitchen to start making the coffee.

Cuddy also got up. "I'm going to go to the restroom."

"Put the seat back up when you're done," House called after her. She turned around and laughed for a moment before continuing down his hallway. House's eyes followed her every move. Damn, she looked good in jeans. House stared at the closed bathroom door in contemplation for a few moments before looking over to Wilson, who was busily grinding the coffee beans. He carefully got up.

"Whip up some more of those cheese and sausage things. I'm going to get something out of my bedroom," he called to Wilson in as normal a voice as possible and headed down the hall. He paused in front of the bathroom door and listened. He could hear the water in the sink going as Cuddy washed her hands. It stopped and House waited for his moment.

The door opened, and Cuddy jumped to see House looming outside of the door.

"What --," she began to say before House covered her mouth with his hand and herded her back into the restroom.

"I changed my mind," he whispered as he leaned down and kissed her. Cuddy was too shocked, at first, to respond. House's mouth left hers as he kissed a trail to her ear and she couldn't control the shudder of delight that passed through her. "It's not really going to take me the whole five minutes to get you to loosen up, is it?" he whispered.

She pulled back in surprise and saw the challenge twinkle in his eye. She returned his grin and wrapped her arms around him and pulled him in for another kiss. Liquid fire passed between them as they teased each other mercilessly with their lips. House slowly moved her backwards until she ran into the sink. She gasped as he pushed her so that she was sitting on top of it, and she instinctively parted her legs and pulled him closer to her. His hands caressed their way down her back until he found the hem of her shirt. She felt him smile against her mouth as she trembled when he began to make lazy patterns with his fingers against her bare back. Deciding that turnabout was fair play, she moved her own hands down under his shirt and chuckled into his mouth when his fingers tightened against her back.

"Cuddy, your coffee's almost ready," Wilson yelled through the door, destroying the moment. Cuddy pulled away – gasping for breath – as she tried to force her brain to start working again.

"Cuddy, are you all right in there?" Wilson asked, his voice becoming concerned.

"I'm fine. I'll be out in a minute." she answered. Relief flooded her body when she heard him walk away, oblivious to the tension in her voice. She slowly turned to meet House's hot gaze and squelched the desire to pull him against her again. What the hell had just happened?

"I'm still not doing clinic duty next week," House said after a few moments of silence. He grinned at her raised eyebrows. "That was nowhere near five minutes." She chuckled at the joke, and he leaned down and kissed her gently.

"He's going to come back if I don't get out there soon," she said against his lips.

"I know," he whispered. He reluctantly pulled away and helped her off the sink. She picked up his cane where it had fallen sometime during the kiss and handed it to him. Cuddy turned to quickly inspect her reflection and ignored House's proud smirk as she ran her fingers through her hair to make it look less mussed. There was not much she could do about her slightly bruised lips. She turned to face him again, unsure of what to say.

House was looking at her with an almost tender expression on his face. "You've been pushing yourself too hard lately," he whispered as he pushed some hair behind her ear. Cuddy looked away as she felt tears prick at her eyes.

"I know."

"Stop it," he said with a small smile.

She laughed sadly. "I'm trying."

House studied the floor for a few seconds. "I might be able to help out with that, you know, the getting away from work thing." he finally said. Cuddy's breath caught in her throat as she inspected House's still turned away face.

"I … think I might like that," she answered once she could breathe again.

"Okay," he said, looking oddly relieved. "We'll … talk about this later. You've got to get out there before Wilson comes back and demands a threesome." He opened up the door and peeked out. "The coast is clear," he said and Cuddy hurried out and headed back to the living room, her head still swimming with the implications of what had just happened.

"There you are," Wilson said. "I was about ready to send out a search party."

"Wilson, I'm surprised at you," House said as he walked down the hallway. "You've been married how many times and you don't know that you can't rush a woman in the bathroom." He leaned in closer to Wilson and whispered conspiratorially, "Girls are different from us – you know – down there."

Wilson rolled his eyes as he handed Cuddy her coffee. She accepted it gratefully and took a sip, happy that House had deflected Wilson's attention away from her. She sat down and started to count her chips as she drank her coffee. She handed them to House and said, "I'll take my money now, thank you very much."

House went to get the wooden box and carefully counted her money and handed it to her. "Here you go, Dr. Cuddy. You know, you're not half bad at this poker stuff. Maybe you'd like to join my regular poker game?"

"What!" Wilson asked in an outraged voice. "You're inviting 'The Queen of Darkness' to play poker with your regular group. It's not fair."

"I'm sorry Cameron, when did you take over Wilson's body? I don't care about being fair. She's a better poker player than you, and if I get her drunk enough, there's always the chance of getting her to agree to strip poker."

"I'd have to be drunker than I've ever been in my entire life for that to happen, House."

"Wow," he said, "I've seen you pretty drunk too. Remember that night at Michigan during the Alpha Gamma Rho spring fling party where you –."

"I have no idea what you're talking about, House," Cuddy said firmly, interrupting him before he could tell the story.

"You know, just because you can't remember that something happened, doesn't mean that it didn't happen," House lectured.

"I don't remember anything because there's nothing to remember," she told him. He opened his mouth to speak again, but she covered his mouth with her hand and said, "House," in a serious tone.

He removed her hand and stroked her palm softly with his thumb before letting it go. Her eyes softened a bit and he decided that it probably wouldn't be prudent to push her too far. He didn't want her to change her mind.

"Oh, I wanna hear this story," Wilson said, not noticing the silent communication between them. Cuddy turned around and Wilson felt the full force of her glare. He squirmed there for a moment before finally saying, "Okay, maybe I don't need to hear this story."

"Wimp," House chided.

"How do you handle it when she looks at you like that?" Wilson asked.

"I just imagine her standing there in a catsuit with a whip. Very sexy."

"On that note, I really think I should be going," Cuddy said.

"Come on, Cuddy," House whined. "I didn't even get to the part where you tied me to the bed.

"Only if I had a ball gag," she said as she put on her coat. "I'll see you both at the hospital," she said as she opened the door to leave.

"Cuddy," Wilson said, putting his hand on her shoulder. "You've been working too hard lately. I'm starting to get worried about you."

Cuddy quickly glanced over at House before facing Wilson with a mysterious smile. "I'm going to be getting some help with that soon," she said before closing the door behind her.

Wilson looked over at House with a puzzled expression on his face. "What do you think she meant by that?"

House shrugged and turned away so Wilson couldn't see his expression. "Maybe she's going to hire a male escort to help relieve all that sexual frustration." Wilson rolled his eyes and went to the kitchen to start to clean up, and House finally allowed himself to smile at Cuddy's words. This was definitely going to be a lot of fun.

The End

Whew! I'm glad it's done. Now I can get back to work on K&K. Drop me a line and let me know what you think!