Author's Notes: Thank you to my beta, Olly, for helping me with this fic. I really, really appreciate all of your hard work.

Disclaimer: I don't own the show.

The Practical Uses of Conversations Hearts
By Duckie Nicks

"Why does this just say 'and'? That doesn't make any sense."

Her lab coat hanging around her shoulders, Cuddy turned to face the intruder.

She was obviously going to need to change the locks on her office (again), because House lay sprawled out on her couch. Or as best as he could do that, his long legs, dangling over the wooden arm of the too-short sofa. And her blue eyes scanning him over from head to toe, she could see the glass candy dish, which she had set out only hours previously, on his lap. Filled with conversation hearts, the bowl was nestled between his stomach and legs.

"Feel free to continue with the strip tease. Don't mind me," he said, cocking his head in her direction – as though he expected her to continue.

Hanging her lab coat on her coat rack, she turned to House and asked, "What do you want?"

He stuffed a handful of multi-colored hearts into his mouth before saying, "Your new himbo let me in."

Cuddy sat down in her desk chair. As she started to stack files on her desk, she told herself that she didn't need to play House's game. She could get him out the door – and probably should have – if she bored him quickly. And yet, ignoring him always seemed like defeat to her. Because if she took the high road, then he would see that as a win for himself. And she had no desire to give him that.

"The temp agency sent him three days ago." Placing her hands on the desk, she turned her head and glared at house. "He was the only one willing to take the job, because everyone else refused to even consider it." She opened a file sitting in front of her, and picking up a pen to sign off on a patient's care, she said, "Probably heard about the crazed man who insists on breaking into my office at every opportunity."

Chomping down on some more candy, House countered, "Or they heard about the hyena of an administrator who likes to wear obscenely low-cut tops." His eyes seemed to naturally drift down to her cleavage at that.

"Don't think that would drive them away."

"True," he said, throwing some more conversation hearts into his mouth. And then somehow the conversation shifted, the terrain of their relationship cracking and altering itself in one fast jerk. "So… are you sleeping with him?"

The ink dry on the paper in front of her, Cuddy slapped the file shut. "Who?"

"Conan the Secretary. You knockin' boots?"

Her eyes narrowed on him. "No." Over the years, the hospital administrator had come to accept that, on any given day, House could be the rudest, most paranoid… ass imaginable – and that the best way to deal with that was to answer his questions, lest she make him more curious. "Why would you even think –"

"Because I saw him give you candy earlier," he said matter of factly, as though it explained everything.

Nodding her head, Cuddy replied, "So naturally I'm sleeping with him. Makes perfect sense. It couldn't possibly be that it's Valentine's Day, and he wanted to do something nice."

"It does seem rather unlikely."

She watched as the older man bit down on a pink heart. His features quickly contorted in a frown.

"I was being sarcastic," Cuddy explained in irritation.

"Well, I obviously wasn't," House sniped, spitting the candy into his hand. "What kind of flavor is that?" Without a second thought, he tossed the sticky confection towards her trashcan, the remnants of the heart flying through her office and landing with a clatter. Looking at her with innocent eyes, he then wiped his spit-covered palm on the fabric of her sofa.

"Don't you have a patient?" she asked, hoping to get him out of her office as soon as possible.

"Scooby gang's biopsying the liver as we speak."

"Clinic? You owe me three more hours this week."

Sticking his hand back into the glass dish, his dirty fingers rooted around for all the green hearts. "And yet I've met my monthly quota of swabbing crotches."

She sighed, knowing that there weren't many other options on getting House out of her office. "Wilson?"

"He is…" His voice trailed off, as he looked down towards his chest. "Having lunch with Wife Six or Sixty Six – who knows where the current tally stands," he finished sarcastically with an undercurrent of disdain.

And it all made sense then. "So that's what this is about," Cuddy said in understanding. "You're upset that Wilson has a life, and you're… what? Punishing me for it in the hopes that I'll punish Wilson, so he'll be stuck here with you?"

House scoffed at the idea. "No. This is about your new boy toy buying you candy."

Loudly, she exclaimed, "Not sleeping with him!"

"Not yet. But he wants to –"

"Because he bought me candy?" she asked doubtfully.

"He was flirting with you. And you were acting like a cat in heat."

Frowning, she looked away from his direction and focused on the paperwork at hand. "So you think what – if I haven't slept with him yet, I will, because he showed me some attention?"

"Worked for me," House said smoothly, shrugging his shoulders as he bit down on more hearts.

"Then I wouldn't complain about it," she snapped before viciously signing her signature on another file. "Isn't your soap on?"

Whatever retort he'd obviously hoped to share died on his lips as he glanced down at his watch. "You're right."

Mockingly she frowned and said, as though speaking to a small child, "Then I guess you'll have to go."

He stood then, shoveling more candy into his mouth before putting the dish back on her desk. His right cheek puffed out with all the hearts in his mouth, House told her, "Don't worry. I'll be back later."

"Great." Looking at him, Cuddy suggested, "Talk to Wilson."

"Right. I'll just tell him to get a divorce, and he'll –"

"Why does this bother you so much? What's so hard about saying, 'Wilson, you're my best friend, and I want to spend more time with you'?"

Looking down at the glass bowl once more, House asked her, "You know what I love most about these little things?" He picked up a heart and threw it. The tiny candy flew through the air, and her grayish eyes watched, followed its trajectory. And then, as he started to turn and walk away, she felt it. A slight sting on her collarbone and then the feel of something nestled in between her breasts. Looking down so that her chin touched her chest, she saw it and quickly snatched it out.

"Bye, mistress," he called, as her eyes gazed at the pink on white smiley staring back at her.

Cuddy sighed.

It was going to be a long day.

The End