Author's Note: Set directly after Half-Wit. Enjoy.

Screwing up wasn't good for business. Whether it was his screw up or theirs, either way it caused problems. Consequently, sometimes he has to swallow his pride and deal with the more distasteful elements of humanity. Fellows. Ugh.

Clenching the doorknob he pulled the glass door open, warmth and noise spilling around him, a wave of empathy and emotion that threatened to wash him away. Reminding himself of the potential consequences if he doesn't go through with this is enough to push him through the door. The hostess takes one look at him, not a restaurant face in any way, shape or form, but her professionalism shines through.

"Welcome to the White Lion! Do you have a reservation this evening?" If not for the slightly insincere smile, he might actually feel welcome.

"Just seeing some colleagues. Won't be long." Flashing a grim smile clears the road for him quite effectively. Now the difficult bit, his cane tap-tapping as he strolls towards their table. She sees him, eyes not even moving but he knows she sees him.

Coming to a stop, he peers down at Chase.

"That seat taken?" Why couldn't he just go home, take a few vicodin and mellow out inside a bottle. From in there, this view would probably be pleasant. As it was, Cameron's disappointment, Chase's disapproval and Foreman's disgust was painful. It's not like he tried to mess up. They were too damn good at their jobs.

Chase starts to move as the girl and the thief pipe up with contradictory answers. Smirking at Foreman, he sits uncomfortably.

"Sorry Foreman, democracy trumps minority."

"What do you want House? Meeting your coke dealer?" She had an acerbic tongue when she was mad.

"If I were here for cocaine, I'd be in the bathroom not hanging out with you squares."

Foreman interjected, "What do you want, House?"

Go time. "To say I'm sorry. So... I'm sorry." Could've been less snarky. Still, probably not what they were expecting, given the silence.

"I realise that you were trying to help me, however misguided that notion might have been. If you weren't so irritatingly good at doing your jobs, well, you get what I'm saying."

Reaching out he stole and drained Chase's as yet untouched beer, slamming the glass down and standing.

"I'll tell her to send over another round." Taking to his heels before anybody could say anything seems like the best thing to do. They can take it or leave it, he tried.

Passing the hostess, he pauses, opening his wallet and extracting a credit card and handing it over.

"This pays for them. Run it when they ask for the cheque, then give it to the girl with the receipt."

He failed to hear what she said as he left, but it probably wasn't important, not as important as a vicodin anyway. The walk home was much nicer after that.

It was well past midnight when his doorbell rang. Wilson would let himself in, so when it rang again, he began the painful process of jacking himself up off the couch. Limping to the door, cane nowhere in sight, he leant against the frame to look through the peephole. Apparently his credit card was ringing the doorbell.

Swinging the door open, he turned his back, heading back to the couch. Sitting he looked over at her, what now.

"Could've brought that back tomorrow. Or Monday." Rough words, soft voice. She just smiled, moving to sit on the couch and nearly ending up in the remains of his dinner. Shifting the plate to the coffee table gingerly, she replied.

"I wanted to say thank you."

"Why? For buying you a meal? Most people would say I owed you. Dying trumps dinner." Of course, she isn't most people, the thought of him dying was probably a massive turn-on. He had to try hard to avoid smirking at his own joke.

"No. For showing you cared."

"I said sorry. Don't try to make this into something it isn't."

He hardly believed himself. Damn Wilson and his bright ideas. Why was she still here, she needs to leave before he says something stupid, he can feel it. Sinking into the couch, her pupils uneven in the darkness, watching him, she needs to leave right now.

Concentrating on the TV made it easier to hurt her, "Still fucking Chase?"

She spits, "Is that any of your business?"

Concentrating on his warm scotch, "Do you want it to be?" That spark is still there, she still feels something otherwise she wouldn't be looking at him quite like that. The distance between them is both too little and far too great. Her smirk is disconcerting, she doesn't smirk.

"Do you want to know what he thought we should do while searching this mess?" Admitting it was her idea might be a little too much disclosure for either of them.

"Gee, that's a tough one. Can I phone a friend? I guess I have to wash my sheets then."

"We didn't do anything, House."

His eyes roll, "No! I couldn't have predicted that unexpected turn of events. You're not that honest." He snorts, finishing his drink and standing to fetch another. She watches his ass, not drunk, but certainly not sober enough to say no to a good thing.

When he returns with two drinks, she raises an eyebrow, "Who said I was staying?"

"You don't look like you're going anywhere to me. Might as well have a drink while you're not going anywhere." The tumbler nestled between her fingers, undecided as to whether she should say no or fall further down the rabbit hole. She falls, the scotch burning all the way down.

The silence burns worse than the scotch though, neither willing to drink the potion or eat the cake. Both want something different, maybe something more, but reaching for it, that's the tricky bit.

Killing the TV with a flick of a finger, his eyes rest on her legs a moment, encased in formal slacks. She's watching him, but he lets them linger another moment.

"House?" Looking at her legs was probably not the wisest move, looking at her face was worse. This was going to get messy.


"Since you're so in touch with your feelings today, is there anything else you want to apologise for?" Smooth as a scalpel.

"Nope, I'm good."

She throws back her scotch, standing, "Then I guess I should leave you here to wallow."

His eyes flick to hers, "You can't drive. Sit down."

"I'll walk."

"You'll stay." No is not an acceptable answer.

Hands rest on her slender hips, the beautiful, skinny doctor challenging the twisted, old doctor. Pushing himself upright, he steps closer, leg complaining even as the alcohol in his system tells it to shut up. He wants to kiss her, she wants him to kiss her, fear still paralyzing them.

"Goodnight House." She doesn't move, not even flinch. He sways and she almost moves to steady him, his leg must be killing him. Instead she turns to leave, his hand on her arm before she's even turned around, pulling her back against him, the jostling too much as his leg gives out, planting them both messily back on the couch.

Anger swells in her, she's not his to toy with. He had more than enough chances.

"House, I'm leaving. I only came to bring back your card."

"Yeah, obviously, that's why you're still here."

"I'm still here because apparently you still want me here, but you can't come out and say it so instead you come up with lame excuses and when those fail, you grab me! Real mature House."

He wants to snarl, to snark, to punish her for her insolence. Instead, he clams up, unable to articulate, just like she says. Why does she have to be right all the time.

"Fine. I don't like you sleeping with Chase."

"Why not?"

"He's using you. You're better than that."

She smiles, turning and sitting on one of her legs, "But he isn't. I'm using him."

He snorts derisively, "Right."

"You think everybody has judgement as bad as yours? Some of us know how to have a little fun, House." She's leaning forwards, if he wasn't slouched they'd be kissing already. She lets a hand rest on his leg, just momentarily.

"Do you want to have some fun?" Her voice is sweet, tempting, baiting him, he can't refuse her.

His voice feels like it's going to crack, he takes a sip of scotch, trying to calm down.

"What do you have in mind?"

Unfurling, climbing over his lap, eyes roaming across his face, taking in every aspect of him. He can't look away as she presses her lips to kiss, softly, then harder, her lip in his mouth, it's so much better when she's not trying to stab him.

The kiss breaks quickly, she's on her feet.

"Call me."

By the time he reacts, the door has closed behind her. He grits his teeth, the taste of her so fresh, it takes another scotch to expunge her from his mouth.

Tomorrow. He'll call her tomorrow.