Disclaimer: Don't Own, Etc., Except OCs

Halloween came and went. Cuddy and Andie took the kids around the neighborhood. Rachael was a princess, of course, and Catia was a sort of glam-witch. At first, House thought Michael's costume needed to be masculine to offset all the glitter around him. When he saw the prices of the tiny leather biker's costumes on-line, he quickly realized that Cuddy's discount store find of a pea pod was a good idea. Sure, it was a little humiliating, but if they took a lot of pictures, it had serious blackmail potential in future years if Michael brought home some girl House didn't approve of. The fact that no matter how much Cuddy struggled, she just couldn't get Michael's unruly patch of black hair to keep from sticking out from under the hat (stem) of the costume was just a smile-inducing bonus.

Wilson and House were tasked with manning their respective home stations. In Wilson's case, that consisted of feigning wildly exaggerated fear at the "scary" ghosts, goblins and ax-murder victims he saw who rang the doorbell, and handing out fistfuls of candy.

As would be expected, House dealt with the trick-or-treaters in his own inimitable style, which consisted of limping heavily to the door, while making as loud a thumping sound with his cane as possible, opening the door grumbling audibly about "damn pesky kids," and a doling out a single piece of candy to each child in a miserly fashion. The fact that he had taken a nap and his hair was sticking up wildly all over the place and that he was all in black, including a Black Sabbath t-shirt with a skull that contained bleeding eyeballs, just added to the effect. He was even able to use his totally terrifying diabolical laugh when some older kids gave him a hard time about his candy-distribution practices. They ran for their lives. House felt a great sense of accomplishment over that.

After Halloween, the adoption party preparations began in earnest. Cuddy organized everything in the house from top to bottom, including all of House's stuff, which, of course, made him complain when he couldn't find something exactly where he had left it. Cuddy also hired a cleaning service just to make sure everything was in top form. She didn't want to hear a lot of comments about the state of her home from her mother and sister. They still had a few rooms that could have used some more furniture. Cuddy was beating herself up about that when House reminded her they really hadn't had the time to do anything about it, what with settling in from the move, the wedding, honeymoon, the after-effects of the accident, Michael's birth, car shopping, returning to work and the adoption. Cuddy knew House was right, but she braced herself for some cutting remarks from her mother and sister nevertheless.

The party was at 1:00 in the afternoon. Andie and Wilson had volunteered to help set up, so they were due at noon. Cuddy made one last pass in the morning, picking up any stray toys or papers and cleaning any last-minute spills, stains or smudges. The bathrooms were so sparkling clean, House complained that he couldn't use them, and threatened to use a tree in the yard, or, if he had to take a dump, that he would be forced to go to the nearest gas station. His irritation abated quite a bit when he saw what Cuddy was wearing. Her top was perhaps a bit light for this time of year, but, in keeping with their plan, the fabric was thin enough to allow him an opportunity to cop a good feel of her breasts. Her black pants skimmed her body, showing off her curves, but also had enough room for House to get his hands into them to fondle her ass, or touch even more luscious parts.

Cuddy insisted House wear a turtleneck and a blazer. She didn't want to dig through three layers to get to his torso, plus, she loved the idea of "unwrapping" the base of his neck and kissing and nibbling on it. He also wore a pair of not-too-tight dress jeans, just so she could fondle his nether regions at will and when the opportunity presented itself.

Rachael, with no agenda other than to look pretty, wore her red velvet dress with the pendant House had given her. Cuddy hadn't known about House buying the necklace and having it engraved. When she came home from work the night the adoption was finalized and Rachael showed it to her, there had been quite a few tears. Later that evening after Rachael and Michael were asleep, Cuddy had rewarded House with a strip-tease and a lap dance, prompting House to wonder what Cuddy would do if he had bought some jewelry for her. Well, Hanukkah was coming.

Daniela arrived at noon to get Michael ready. Although Rachael had wanted her as a guest, Cuddy insisted on paying her for her time, knowing that she and House would be busy with their other guests, and, um, . . . things, and that they would need someone to watch Michael.

Wilson and Andie were there shortly after Daniela. Catia went to play with Rachael in her room. Rachael had decided not to invite any friends from school, because she and her friends were in a higher grade than Catia, and she was afraid they might leave Catia out or pick on her. Some of the girls in her class had already made fun of Rachael because of her friendship with the younger, darker-skinned girl. While Rachael didn't believe her friends would do that, she wasn't one-hundred percent positive that they wouldn't, maybe without thinking, and she didn't want to risk ruining the day. (House would have told her that's what Cuddy's family was for.)

Cuddy, Andie and Wilson put all the non-perishable food items on the dinette table in the alcove near the kitchen and had the perishable items ready to take out of the refrigerator at the proper time. They had the food that needed to be heated in the oven, warming up.

Cuddy had decided not to pay for wait staff, opting for a buffet. It saved a serious chunk of change, which made House happy. She also knew that if the wait staff wasn't one-hundred percent perfect, it would prompt comments from her mother and sister. The buffet forced them to serve themselves, so they would have no one to complain about.

Of course, Cuddy expected complaints about the food, that it was either too plain or too fancy, that it was either too hot or too cold or lukewarm, or that there wasn't enough or that there was too much. Every time she got tense about something, she remembered The Plan. At least it would give her someplace to put all that nervous energy.

Blythe had opted not to attend, saying it was difficult for her to travel all that way for a one-day event and that she would prefer to spend more time with them for the holidays, if that was okay. House was never one to miss an opportunity to avoid seeing his family, so he readily agreed. Rachael didn't seem too disappointed, remembering the conflict that had resulted during her grandmother's last visit. What was it with adults? It was bad enough kids didn't get along, but didn't adults know any better?

It was one o'clock, and the first to arrive were Hadley and Foreman. They never knew how tired she would get as the day went on, so much of their social life involved getting somewhere on time, and then leaving early if necessary. Taub and his wife were next, followed by Chase, Cameron and Randy. Cameron had just started her eight month. Because the rest of her was so small, she looked about ready to pop at any time.

The last to arrive were the Cuddy clan. Rather than take two cars, they all fit into David and Lena's van. When the doorbell rang, Cuddy braced herself and went to open it.

"Hello, dear," Judith said as Cuddy showed them in and gave her mother a peck on the cheek. "I never thought I'd actually get to see your new house."

House had come up behind Cuddy and planted a series of slow, soft kisses up the side of her neck.

"Aren't you even going to acknowledge us?" Cuddy's mom asked House in an irritated voice. Their plan already seemed to be getting under her skin, House observed happily. "Hello, Judith," House replied. He saw so little of her that he felt uncomfortable calling her by her first name, but since he was an adult past fifty, he was not going to call her "Mrs. Cuddy." And he sure as hell wasn't going to call her "mom." She'd have probably killed him if he did, anyway.

"Bill," House put out his hand to shake the one offered by his father-in-law. House was pretty sure Cuddy's father was not his biggest fan, but he was also sure that he accepted him simply because Cuddy married House and had his child. Bill seemed to be able to come to terms with the reality of the situation and to have at least some faith in his daughter's choices. Unlike his wife, he was also proud of her accomplishments.

David and Lena and their kids had come in behind Cuddy's parents, so Lena had seen House nuzzle Cuddy's neck and she was already slightly jealous. "Your front yard needs to be mowed," she remarked to Cuddy as they exchanged pecks on the cheek, "David can give you the name of our landscaper, if Greg isn't able to take care of the lawn."

"Nice to see you, too," Cuddy said, her voice sounding like she was joking, although House could hear the edge in it. He began to lightly stroke her shoulders, and he tenderly kissed the other side of her neck, starting at her collarbone and going up toward her face. Cuddy sighed contentedly," It's not that he can't do it. It's just that we never seem to find the time . . . " She leaned toward House and they kissed deeply. Since Cuddy was turning her head back to reach House, it was visible to everyone that some serious tongue was involved.

The kids blew past them to go find Rachael, who they liked well enough, even though they had informed her on a few occasions that since she was adopted, she wasn't really "real" family. Cuddy didn't get angry at them, since she assumed Lena had expressed that view frequently enough in front of them that they believed it was true. Cuddy had informed Andie about her sister's attitude toward adoption, just so she would know if they decided to say anything to Catia. Andie assured her she would straighten either the kids or Lena out, if it was necessary. Cuddy had no doubt she would.

House and Cuddy broke the kiss and rested their cheeks against each other, smiling. Cuddy could see her mother's exasperation growing, and her sister's envy was written all over her face. The Plan was working great so far.

Cuddy' father was just about to ask where his grandson was when Daniela came out to the foyer with Michael. "Miguel, son tu abuelo y abuela," Daniela said, pointing to Bill and Judith, "Y son tu tio y tia."

"Lisa, please tell me you didn't hire a wetback to look after my grandchildren!" Judith exclaimed. For all her pride in her alleged Spanish ancestry, she had nothing but contempt for the living, breathing people who spoke the language and were actual cultural descendants of the country.

"I am a citizen of the United States," Daniela proclaimed proudly. "Doctor Cuddy asked me to use Spanish with the children so they could learn the language."

"Damn, my wife is clever." House stated as he placed a soft kiss on her cheek.

Daniela handed the baby to Cuddy's father. "What a handsome boy!" Bill proclaimed. "He has your hair, sweetheart."

"Good thing," Lena stated with a sneer, "If he took after his father, he'd be losing it prematurely."

"Thinning hair is just a sign of high testosterone levels," Cuddy said with a seductive smile as she pulled down House's turtleneck and kissed and nipped at this neck. She finished and said, "Besides, he has House's gorgeous blue eyes." She placed her hand on his cheek and gently pulled House's face toward her. She softly kissed each of his eyelids.

The PPTH contingent at the party was gathered around the dinette table, sampling the hors d'oeuvres. They were near the back of the house and couldn't hear what was being said, but they could see how House and Cuddy were behaving.

"What's the deal with them?" Foreman asked Wilson. "Is Cuddy back on the fertility meds and did you prescribe some blue pills for House?"

"Well," Wilson lowered his voice as he looked around conspiratorially, "I understand there's A Plan."

"What plan?" Taub inquired, as curious as Foreman about his boss's sudden and uncharacteristic fondness for PDAs.

"Cuddy only invited her family because Rachael asked her to," Wilson informed them. "Cuddy's mom and sister drive her crazy. My understanding is that House and Cuddy plan to annoy the hell out of them by engaging in nearly every form of affection in front of them, short of, you know . . . "

"Doing it?" Chase asked. "I wouldn't even mind seeing that, as long as I didn't have to see House naked. Seeing Cuddy undressed would be excellent."

"Ditto," Hadley agreed.

Foreman shot a glare at Hadley.

"Hey, I wouldn't mind seeing Greg naked. You remember that foursome we were talking about the other day?" Andie glanced at Wilson.

Of course, he turned bright red. "We were talking about getting a baby sitter to watch the kids so the four of us could go out to dinner," Wilson stated with exasperation.

"Sorry," Andie responded, a small smile playing on her lips. "My mistake."

"Don't you have a comment about who you'd like to see naked?" Chase asked Cameron, bracing himself for her to declare her undying attraction to House.

Cameron seemed distracted. "What? Oh, you, of course. Hey, does anyone know where the bathroom is. I really have to pee."

Cameron had obviously moved into the I-can't-wait-until-this-kid-is-born stage of the pregnancy. Wilson pointed out the powder room. "We should get a house all on one floor," Cameron called over her shoulder to Chase as she waddled across the family room.

"Somehow, I don't think she's really into The Plan," Taub observed dryly.

In the front of the house, Cuddy's dad had given Michael to Cuddy's mom. She held him rather awkwardly.

"He won't bite," House commented. "He's just starting to get teeth . . . " At that moment, a huge drop came of spit came out Michael's mouth on to Judith's sleeve. " . . . .So, watch for drool," House completed his sentence. "Oops," House said in mock consternation.

Cuddy handed her mom a burp cloth as Daniela took Michael. "I just bought this sweater," Cuddy mother said as she furiously dabbed the spot, obviously upset. "I hope the dry cleaner can get this out of cashmere."

"Stop making such a big deal out of it," Bill stated with irritation. "It's a little bit of spit. Lena's kids peed, pooped and puked all over you and you never said a thing."

"Would you like to hold him?" Daniela asked Lena.

"Um, no, that's okay," Lena demurred.

There was an awkward silence.

"Maybe the other guests would like to see Miguel," Daniela said, with obvious annoyance. She simply couldn't understand how an aunt and uncle and grandparents wouldn't be fawning all over this beautiful little boy. No wonder Dr. Cuddy didn't see her family very often.

Cuddy's father walked past House and Cuddy, following closely behind Daniela, at least showing some interest in his grandson. David went with them, no doubt checking to see if there was going to be any chance to get any action with the other female guests, House surmised.

"Well, would you like to see the house?" Cuddy asked.

"I guess," Judith answered.

House was about to snark that Cuddy's mom shouldn't drown them with her enthusiasm, when he remembered The Plan. As they turned around and walked in front of Judith and Lena, House slid his free hand down the back of Cuddy's pants and began to fondle her ass. Cuddy slid her hand in House's pants and did the same. They both smiled as they heard the sounds of disapproval coming from Cuddy's mother and sister.

The tour began with the library. "It could use more furniture," Lena remarked.

"We're working on it," Cuddy said.

"You've been in the house over six months, Lisa," Lena stated. "You should have more accomplished."

House thought about pointing out that Cuddy had been busy with a few life-changing events like moving, getting married, giving birth, recovering from a serious car accident, and the fact that she worked at least fifty hours a week, not including the work she brought home. Instead, he simply said, "she has other priorities." He took her face in his hands and kissed her tenderly on the cheeks, forehead, nose and chin. His lips met hers and he gave her so deep a kiss it was practically a tonsillectomy.

"Is that really necessary?" Judith asked.

"It's essential," Cuddy remarked as she came up for air. "Let's go to the dining room."

"This is your old dining room table, isn't it?" Lena said with disdain.

"Since the room is bigger, I'm finally able to use all the leaves and chairs," Cuddy stated triumphantly.

"Does it still have the water stains from when you had that leak in the roof?" Lena asked.

"It's distressed," House said, "That just makes it more valuable."

"By that logic, you must be worth a fortune," Lena commented, looking at House.

"He's absolutely priceless," Cuddy stated. Ordinarily, she would have said this with sarcasm, but her voice was nothing but gentleness and affection. She put her hands on the sides his face and he closed his eyes as she gave him a series of soft kisses. Her mouth found his and she playfully pulled on his bottom lip. This time it was her tongue seeking his tonsils.

"Lisa," Judith said sharply, "Can we get on with this?"

They broke the kiss and headed toward the children's rooms and the guest room, once again fondling each other's behinds as they walked in front of Cuddy's mom and sister.

Their next stop was the kitchen. "This is a lovely kitchen," Judith commented. Cuddy counted to herself, waiting for the other shoe to drop. "It's rather a waste, isn't it, since you can't cook?"

"Cuddy can cook," House responded. "You just have to know where her fire is." As he said this, his hands slipped down the front of her pants and one hand found her lips, while the other found her clit. He began to stroke both parts slowly.

"Ummm," Cuddy said, "that is delicious."

"Lisa!" Judith had finally been pushed over the edge. "I want this to stop."

"What?" Cuddy said with an innocent smile.

"You're practically having sex in front of us!" she exclaimed. "It's disgusting."

"A husband and wife loving and wanting each other, and not afraid to show it." Andie had entered the kitchen. "I think it's pretty hot."

"Who the hell are you?" Lena asked, sounding just about as angry as Judith had.

"Andie Miles, I live next door," Andie said, extending her hand. She was hardly surprised when Lena refused to shake it.

"This is a family matter," Judith stated. "It's none of your business."

"Oh," Andie replied. "You mean like helping your daughter move was none of your business? Or going to her wedding was none of your business? Or visiting her in the hospital when she was seriously injured in a car accident and your grandson was born was none of your business?"

"We were not invited to the wedding," Judith sniffed, "Nor were we welcome at any of the other events you've mentioned."

"Gee, I wonder why," Andie said sarcastically. "How's today going so far? Have you complimented your daughter on her new home? Have you congratulated her on her marriage? Have you even said anything the slightest bit positive about your own grandson?"

"I said she had a lovely kitchen," Judith replied defensively.

"Only as a set up to put her down by telling her she couldn't cook," Andie retorted. "Nice. You're almost as big a bitch as my mother, and that's saying something."

"How dare you!" Judith shouted.

At this point, Rachael came in to the kitchen. "Grandma, why are you and Aunt Andie fighting?"

"Aunt Andie?" Judith questioned angrily. "Lisa, how can you possibly let your child call this horrible woman 'Aunt'"?

"Mom, Andie's been kinder to me in the last seven months than you and Lena have been in the last twenty years!" Cuddy defended her friend.

"Hey!" Rachael jumped in. "Isn't this supposed to be a party? Aren't we supposed to be celebrating Daddy adopting me?"

"I'm not sure that having him for a father is anything to celebrate," Lena said in her most cutting voice.

"Shut up!" Rachael yelled. "Stop saying those awful things about my Daddy!" she ran to House and put her arms around him.

"It's okay, kid. Don't let it upset you," House said, trying to reassure her. "I'm used to it."

"Well, you shouldn't be!" She continued, shouting.

To Cuddy, it was obvious Rachael was very wound up at this point. Cuddy was sure Rachael had wanted the perfect party, and here the adults were messing it up for her. Cuddy also saw that, as usual, Rachael was extremely protective of House.

"It's not a big deal," House continued trying to soothe her.

"It is a big deal!" Rachael was really beyond calming down. "You don't deserve to have people treat you like that! You're a wonderful father . . . I wouldn't . . . love you . . . so much . . . if you weren't . . . " Rachael was hiccupping and sobbing at this point.

House sat down in one of the chairs next to the island and pulled Rachael on to his lap. "Don't cry, baby girl, it's okay," he said as she sobbed into his shoulder. He held her in his arms, rocking her and lightly stroking her hair. "I love you, too," he murmured softly.

While this drama was playing out, everyone else at the party had come into the kitchen. Wilson and Andie weren't surprised to see House comforting Rachael, and Cameron had seen House do it in the ER after the car accident, but it was a bit of a shock to Chase and House's team.

And, of course, Cuddy's family was completely astonished. Cuddy's father was pleased to see the tender side of House. It explained why his little girl loved this man so much. He wasn't a total jerk after all. Of course, Cuddy's mom and sister didn't like this display. It seriously messed with their view of House as evil incarnate.

Rachael had calmed down a bit. "Don't let your party be ruined by a bunch of idiots, okay, kid?" House asked as she blew her nose and wiped her face with a tissue Cuddy had given her.

"Okay," she agreed, smiling at what House said. She hugged him and kissed him, and climbed down from his lap.

"Did you see the necklace Daddy gave me?" she said to the PPTH contingent. House became uncomfortable. He had imagined it would be sort of a thing between him and Rachael, and, possibly Cuddy. He didn't know it would go public. He was sure he'd have to deal with some serious mocking from Wilson and his team.

"Can I see it, sweetie?" Bill asked.

"Sure, Grandpa," Rachael said.

"What does it mean?" He asked.

"It's a symbol for adoption," Rachael explained to everyone, as House had explained it to her. "The two triangles are for the birth family and the adoption family. The heart is the love they both have for the child, who is me.'

"On the front is my name and the date we went to court, when the judge told us we were a family with the law," she continued. "And on the back it says I love you always, Daddy. Do you know why that's on the back?"

"No," Bill replied. "Why?"

"Because when I wear it, it's closest to my heart," Rachael said. "I figured that out without Daddy even telling me."

House felt like he was about to sink into the floor from embarrassment. Wilson and his team would have a field day with this. Heck, even Cameron had become cynical enough to make fun of him. And the worst part was that it wasn't going to happen now, in front of Rachael. He would have to wait for Monday morning. And anticipate it all weekend. Great.

But then the thought occurred to House that if it made Rachael happy to show it off, he supposed he could live with the disdain. He'd certainly lived through worse in his life. Much worse.

"What, no comments?" Andie asked as she looked at Cuddy's mom and sister.

"It's nice," Judith choked out, as though it was killing her to admit it.

"Gee, thanks," House acknowledged, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

"It is beautiful," Rachael said, her innocent eyes shining. "I promised Daddy I would wear it every day for the rest of my life."

Although he was afraid of the mocking he would see there, House looked at Wilson and his current and former team. All he saw was respect.

"Hey," Wilson said, "there's a ton of food here. Why don't we eat?"

They put the all the food on the dinette table and the kitchen island. Thankfully, it got a lot quieter when everyone was eating.

After they finished, there was still a major amount of food left. Cuddy braced herself for her mom or her sister to chastise her for the excess, but they remain unusually (and mercifully) quiet. Andie (and her assistant, Wilson), spent their time in the kitchen, dividing the leftovers for everyone to take home.

It was time for cake. Cuddy brought it out and put it on the dinette table.

"Happy Other Birthday, Rachael," Taub read. "Isn't that confusing?"

"Hey, Jews get to celebrate New Year's twice a year, so why can't the kid celebrate a second time?" House asked.

Both Lena and Judith opened their mouths to say something, but Cuddy shot them a glare that effectively kept them quiet.

Rachael blew out the single candle and everyone clapped. They cut the cake, and, again, everyone was quiet as they ate.

Foreman was probably the only one who noticed the slight tremor in Hadley's hand as she finished her cake. They were the first to leave.

Chase and Cameron were next. Randy wasn't overtired, but Cameron was in serious need of a nap.

Next were Taub and his wife. They thanked Cuddy, and Taub managed not to make any comments to House about Rachael and the necklace, since he decided he needed to keep his current employment.

Next were Cuddy's family. Her father kissed Michael several times as the little boy gurgled happily. "Do you mind if I stop by some time? Maybe some weekday afternoon? Would that be too much of a bother?"

"Ask Daniela, since she's the one most likely to be here," Cuddy replied.

"A father is always an honored guest in his daughter's home," Daniela insisted. "Especially when he comes to see his grandchildren."

Judith and Lena gave Cuddy very quick, perfunctory pecks on the cheek. No mention was made of either of them stopping by.

Daniela was leaving.

"Gracias para todo, Senora" House said.

"Doctor Cuddy . . . Su familia . . . " Daniela shook her head.

"Yo se," House concurred.

"What are you two talking about?" Cuddy asked.

"Just agreeing," House answered quickly.

Wilson, Andie and Catia were heading next door.

"Thanks for helping," Cuddy said as she hugged Andie, "With everything." It was obvious Cuddy was referring to more than the food.

"I feel like I'm wasting my time as a professor. I should start up a company: Tell-Off-A-Mom." Andie stated. "Are you an adult still having difficulty dealing with your mom? Call Tell-Off-A-Mom and Andie will do it for you!"

A smile tugged at the corners of House's mouth. "You do seem to have a talent."

"The irony is, I've never actually confronted my own mother," Andie admitted.

"Hey, I'll do it for you," House said.

"I'd pay for tickets to that," Wilson stated.

"Let's go," Andie said, looking lovingly at Wilson and giving him a kiss on the cheek that lasted a good five seconds.

After they left, Cuddy heard Michael waking up from his nap. She went to feed him.

"I'm sorry that the party wasn't perfect, kid," House said.

"It was good enough, though," Rachael replied. "I mean the food and everything."

House sensed she wanted to ask him something. "What is it?"

"Why are Grandma Cuddy and Aunt Lena so mean to Mommy?" she asked.

"I don't know," House answered honestly. "Sometimes people don't get along."

"Even when they are in the same family?" Rachael questioned.

"Especially when they are part of the same family," House replied.

"That doesn't make any sense," Rachael stated.

"When it comes to emotions, it rarely does," House admitted.

"Do you think we'll ever be that way?" Rachael asked fearfully. "Not nice to each other?"

"I'm not nice now, kid," House answered.

"I mean, not loving each other," Rachael questioned.

House knew through bitter personal experience that there were no guarantees, so he was just as likely setting himself up for failure as anything else. Rachael could easily wind up loathing him -- the old, crippled, misanthropic bastard -- when she was a teenager. When he realized this, a pain shot through him that was worse than anything associated with his leg. He simply couldn't let that happen. Of course, he had no clue how to prevent it. What had Wilson said? Welcome to life as a human parent.

"Hey, we'll be okay. We have it engraved, remember?" House said, setting his uncertainty aside, at least for the moment.

"Can I watch TV with you?" Rachael asked.

"I TiVo'ed a monster truck rally on Thursday," House responded. "Come on."