Finally brought this one back from the dead to finish it up. Hate to leave a story hanging. As usual, I don't own them. :)

# # #

The two of them settled in on the couch, the pizzas spread out before them, conversation flowing easily between them. This whole 'getting to know you' thing was going much better than either one of them could have imagined as they shared childhood stories, and even House managed to come up with a few stories of good memories, stories that didn't involve his father. That was a can of worms he didn't want to get into, not when the night was so clearly moving in a positive direction.

Eventually they finished off the pizzas, and House caught Michelle eyeing the guitar once again. House rolled his eyes and huffed in mock irritation. "Just pick up the damn thing and play it already. You're drooling all over my couch."

"If you insist." Michelle's eyes lit up as she gracefully rose from the couch and picked up the instrument once again. She picked the individual strings, checking the tuning. The old guitar held its tune remarkably well and she strummed a few chords, trying to figure out what song she wanted to play. Every damn song that ran through her mind seemed to remind her of Shannon's father, and that was the last thing she wanted to be reminded of right now.

"Are you going to pick a song or what?" House's eyes seemed to bore into her from the other end of the couch.

"Maybe if you weren't staring me down I'd be able to." Michelle told him firmly.

House scowled and settled back into the couch, watching Michelle as she strummed out a few chords. She finally shook her head and handed the guitar back to House. "Forget it. I've got nothing."

There was more to the story than indecision, House was sure of that. But pushing her had gotten nowhere, and more prodding would only drive her away. He heaved himself from the couch and returned the guitar to its case, quietly closing it and returning it to the closet.

Michelle was sipping at her wine, a faraway look in her eyes as she sat with one foot tucked under her on the couch. House soon joined her, sitting closer than he had previously, lifting his damaged leg to rest on the coffee table. He reached out to touch her knee, covering it with his palm and stroking it with his thumb.

She flashed him a quick smile and covered his hand with her own. "Sorry, I don't know what happened. Don't mean to be such a downer."

"Trust me, you're not." House's hand started moving up her soft thigh, drifting near the hem of her shorts. He moved in closer, brushing his lips to her cheek while sliding his hand further up the leg of her shorts, stroking the soft skin underneath. "I don't think you ever could be."

"You don't know me very well, then." Michelle's voice went soft as House's hand roamed over her bare leg, his lips drifting over her jaw and throat.

"I know you well enough." House briefly kissed her before he pushed himself off the couch, holding out his hand. "Come on."

Michelle looked a little baffled, and House rolled his eyes with exasperation. "I've seen your bedroom. Figured you'd want to see mine."

A smile curled onto her lips as she rose gracefully from the couch and took House's hand, using it to pull herself close to House. She reached up on tiptoe to kiss him. "I would love to see your room."

House wrapped his arms around her, deepening the kiss as his hands drifted to her backside. "We won't make it there if you don't quit distracting me."

"Like you've got room to talk." Michelle laughed softly. "I think it's the other way around."

He released her and gently guided her toward the hallway that led to the bedroom. "Just go, woman. I'm..." He lightly smacked her on the rear. "...right behind you."

She glared at him before heading down the hallway. "You are in such trouble when you get there. Just you wait."

House grinned as he followed Michelle down the hall. He couldn't wait to see what sort of 'trouble' he was in. Knowing Michelle, it could only mean something good.

# # #

House turned on the bedside light against the growing darkness of his room as he climbed in beside Michelle. He wrapped an arm around her waist, pressing kisses along her jaw as his hand roamed under her shirt. "So...am I in big trouble?"

"Like you wouldn't believe." Michelle turned so that she was on her side, her lids shading her soft hazel eyes. She gently pushed House onto his back, carefully straddling him and bracing her hands on either side of his head before dropping in for a long, sweet, languorous kiss.

A soft groan escaped House as he moved to fumble with the button on her shorts, finally managing to undo it and the zipper to reach inside, shoving both shorts and underwear off her body in one move. She managed to shake them loose, and House ran his hands over her soft skin and luscious curves as he pulled her down to him to flip her onto her back.

He managed to straddle Michelle, pushing her shirt up to expose a simple black cotton bra, and he leaned down to run his tongue between her breasts, evoking a sharp gasp from her. The soft sounds of pleasure encouraged House further, and he reached under her to undo the hooks that held her in, slipping his hands underneath to roll her nipples between his fingers.

She arched upward at his touch, a louder moan falling out of her open mouth, and her eyelids fluttered over her eyes as she reached for the hem of House's shirt, tugging it until House took it off and threw it aside, not caring where it landed. Michelle pulled him down to her again, and his hands immediately found her breasts again, caressing them with his rough hands before taking first one nipple, then the other in his mouth, bringing them to full hardness before she finally stripped off the shirt and the bra.

Michelle lay naked before House, and he shifted so that he lay alongside her to get the full view of her soft, luscious body. House placed one hand on the inside of her thigh, slowly moving upward as he leaned over her to study her face.

Her lips were slightly parted, and her chest heaved up and down ever so slightly as his hand made its way up to her center. Suddenly her eyes flew open as House lightly stroked her, her desire obvious.

"Am I still in trouble?" He murmured in her ear, his voice low and seductive.

"Only if you stop." Michelle gasped softly, grabbing at the back of House's neck, squirming under House's touch.

"Well...we don't want that, do we?" House started working his way down, leaving a soft, wet trail of kisses from her throat, down her chest and stomach, brushing his lips just above the hair that surrounded her center.

He teased her with his tongue, lightly flicking at her as he slipped a finger inside, gently exploring her. She responded by arching her back, moaning as he brought her ever closer to the edge, fiercely grabbing the back of House's head, encouraging him further.

"My God...Greg...." Michelle's voice was a breathy gasp as she went over, and House could feeling her muscles contract over and over around his finger until she finally relaxed, lightly stroking the back of his head.

House pulled himself up to face Michelle, a slight grin on his face. "So...that was okay?"

A laugh bubbled up in her, and she pulled him down for a long kiss. "Better than okay."

"Good." House rolled over to his back, taking Michelle with him. She easily straddled him, her hands smoothing over his chest, running her fingers through his chest hair. He closed his eyes, just enjoying the feel of her hands over his body as she brushed her fingers along the waistline of his jeans, fingering his belt buckle.

He groaned at her teasing fingers, arching toward her touch. "Jesus, Michelle. You're killing me here."

"Am I?" Michelle's tone was deceptively light as she gently ran her fingernails down his stomach.

"Yes." House squirmed under her touch, and it sent a thrill through Michelle. She bent down to kiss him in the middle of his chest, working her way down to his belt buckle. Michelle slowly worked it loose, unbuttoning his jeans and taking her sweet time undoing the zipper. She could already feel his hardness through his jeans and boxers as she pulled them down, pushing them the rest of the way as House kicked them off his left leg.

Michelle took his shaft in her hand, bringing him to full hardness before taking him in her mouth, rolling her tongue all around him until she could feel him tense up. House's breaths came shorter and shorter as he gripped Michelle's head with one strong hand, holding her as he bucked upward, exploding into her mouth and relaxing with a loud groan. "Goddammit, woman. Come here."

She scooted up so that she lay next to House, curling up around him and laying her head on his shoulder. It would be so easy to just keep laying here, as if she had not a care in the world, no daughter waiting for her at home.

Michelle squeezed House around his waist and moved to get out of bed. He lifted his head, a baffled expression on his weathered face. "Where are you going?"

"Home." Michelle felt a bit of guilt clutch at her. "Don't want Shannon to worry about me."

"So call her." House rolled over so that he lay on his side, shifting to wrap an arm around her waist. "I'm sure she's fine. She's probably glad to get rid of you for a while."

"Oh, that's comforting." Michelle turned to give House a brief kiss. "Thanks, I think."

"That's not what I meant." House placed a small kiss on her lower back. "Just call the girl."

"Fine." Michelle rose from the bed, and House rolled over to watch her move around the bedroom. She was smooth, graceful, almost feline as she found her clothes and put them on.

"Don't know why you bothered with that." House growled. "You'll just have to take them off again."

Michelle laughed as she climbed back on the bed, straddling House and pressing a long kiss to his lips. "I don't mind giving you a show, but I don't need the neighbors checking me out. I'll be right back."

"You'd better." House lay back down on the bed, listening as Michelle padded down the hallway. He hoped that he could convince Michelle to stay, at least for a while, if not all night. It had been too long since a woman had shared his bed for longer than an hour or so, and he didn't want to admit it, but the nights got damned lonely.

House sighed and closed his eyes. Either she would return or she wouldn't, and he supposed he'd deal with whatever happened. He already knew which outcome he would prefer.

# # #

Michelle found her phone in her purse, picking her home number from her contacts and hitting send. As she suspected, nobody answered, so she hung up and tried Shannon's cell phone.

Shannon picked up on the first ring. "Hi, Mom. Where are you?"

"Still at Greg's." Michelle nearly choked on the words. "I...might be here for a while."

"No problem, Mom." Shannon's cheerful voice carried over the phone. "You should stay. I mean, if you're having a good time, you know."

Michelle smiled. Shannon had no idea. Actually, she probably did, and the notion bothered Michelle a little. "In that case...maybe I'll just stay all night."

"Mom!" Shannon giggled. "You're terrible!"

Michelle chuckled at her daughter's apparent discomfort. "Okay, maybe not all night, but it'll probably be a late one. Don't bother waiting up for me."

"Okay." Shannon answered. "I'll see you when I see you. Love you."

"Love you too, kid. See you later."

Shannon hung up, setting her phone on her bedside table and returning to her magazine. It was about time that her mom started getting back out there. She had wondered if her mom would ever stop hovering over her long enough to start dating again. It seemed that this Doctor House was, well, just what the doctor ordered. Not that she thought her mom should get married or anything, but she definitely needed to get out and get a life of her own.

On the other end of the phone, Michelle closed her phone and tucked it in her pocket. She would leave it within easy reach, just in case of emergency. She headed back down the hall, where House was sprawled out across the bed, eyes closed, but not snoring.

House's eyes popped open the moment Michelle entered the room and sat down on the bed. "So...what's the word?"

"The kid's fine." Michelle turned a warm smile toward House. "Looks like you're stuck with me for a while."

House's face broke out in a small grin. "What are you waiting for? Get naked and get in here."

Michelle laughed. "Are you sure you can handle it?"

"Only one way to find out." House stretched an arm across the bed, inviting Michelle in.

She quickly undressed and climbed back into bed, curling up next to House and letting him wrap an arm around her. He dropped a gentle kiss on top of her head and pulled her in close to him, inhaling the fruity scent of her shampoo while he collected his thoughts.

It hit him how much he genuinely liked the woman that lay across his chest. Not that he was in love with her or anything, but he was...interested. Interested enough that he didn't want to share her with anyone else.

"Hey." House gently squeezed Michelle's arm. "You still awake?"

"Mm-hm." Michelle answered sleepily. "What's up?"

"Kind of wanted to ask you something."

There was a long pause before Michelle verbally encouraged him. "Well? Don't leave me hanging."

House shifted awkwardly. "Are you...you know...into anyone else?"

Michelle laughed softly. "No, Greg. I haven't been out in...well, a while. Let's just put it that way. Why?"

"No reason." House quickly answered. "Just curious."

"Right." Michelle snuggled a little closer to House, taking in the scent of his soap. "What about you?"

"Hello, have we met?" House snorted. "Trust me, you're it."

"Nothing wrong with that, is there?" Michelle wasn't quite sure where this conversation was going.

"Nope." House seemed to relax a bit. "Makes things a hell of a lot easier."

Michelle shifted so that she lay across his chest, looking into those bright blue eyes. "What things?"

"God woman, don't be dense." House rolled his eyes. This was a lot harder than he'd bargained for. "I just thought maybe we...could just see each other. You know, exclusively."

A slow smile spread across Michelle's face, lighting it up. "I think I'd like that very much."

House let out the breath he didn't even know he'd been holding. "Excellent. Glad we got that settled."

Michelle returned to her previous position, the smile still on her face. "So...I guess I can call you my boyfriend now?"

House groaned. "We're kind of old for that, don't you think?"

"I suppose we are." Michelle agreed. "It doesn't really matter, does it?"

"Nah, not really." House squeezed her affectionately. "Now quit yapping and go to sleep, woman."

Michelle laughed softly and curled into House as he wrapped both arms around her, and she soon fell asleep. There went the last of her rules, right out the window. Normally she'd be upset, but she supposed all those rules weren't really necessary anymore anyway. Shannon would soon be starting her new life at Penn State, so it seemed only right that she start a new life, too. The thought warmed her as she sank into sleep, oddly soothed by the snoring man next to her. It was different, but she liked it. She really liked it.

# # #

House woke the next morning to find Michelle gone. He was oddly disappointed until he spotted the note next to the assorted items on his night stand.

Greg--

Thank you for a lovely night. All rules are out the window now. :)

Michelle

He slowly smiled and folded the note carefully, sticking it in his jeans pocket after he showered and dressed. Wilson was going to be in for one hell of a visit this morning. House hoped the young oncologist had a clear schedule.

House made his way into the hospital, and he heard a few whispers behind him about his uncharacteristically good mood. He paused near the clinic, where both Michelle and Sarah were hard at work registering patients and entering patient files. A sharp female voice reached his ear.

"We have a couple vacancies this morning, and you don't have a case." Cuddy was at his side, arms behind her as she spoke to House. "I'll see you in the clinic in fifteen."

House scowled as the elevator opened and he stepped on. "Fine. No more than two hours."

"I'm thinking four." Cuddy countered. "Two for this week and two for your backlog."

House rolled his eyes. "Fine, whatever. I'll be there."

Cuddy smirked to herself as the doors closed. If hospital scuttlebutt was right, she suspected that House would mind clinic duty a lot less than he used to. Sometimes fate worked in very interesting ways, and in this case it worked to Cuddy's advantage. That couldn't possibly be a bad thing.

House stepped off the elevator and made his way into his office. A slow smile made its way onto his face as he saw the small bouquet on his desk. He could well guess who they were from, but he stopped to open the card anyway.

Greg--

See you in the clinic.

Michelle

He smirked and dumped his backpack, hanging his jacket on the coat hook. Clutching his cup of coffee, he started down the hallway before he realized he had forgotten something.

House dug into the inside pocket of his leather jacket, glancing around to make sure no one was looking as he fished the orange rose out of the pocket. He tucked the rose in his front jeans pocket, checking that his shirttail covered up the head.

As he waited for the elevator, he noticed Wilson come up beside him. House glanced over at him. "Sarah's back today. I guess your date wasn't as traumatic as you thought it was."

"Guess not." Wilson was dreading the clinic this morning, knowing that Sarah would be there. He was kind of hoping for an opportunity to clear things up between them, even if it didn't lead to another date. Matter of fact, he'd rather it didn't lead to another date. The woman had...issues. "And how did things go with Michelle?"

"Glad you asked, Jimmy." House was a little too loud and cheerful as the two men stepped onto the elevator and into the crowd. "Pizza, music, good conversation, and a whole lot of something-something, if you know what I mean. And I do mean...a whole lot." He was exaggerating, but it had been a great night. Unbelievable, really. "I think I officially have a...what do you call a woman that you spend a lot of time with and occasionally have sex with?"

Wilson rolled his eyes. "Girlfriend?"

"Yes, that's exactly the word I was looking for." House grinned a little too wide for Wilson's comfort, then tapped his cane on the floor. "I've got a girlfriend."

"Good for you, House." Wilson couldn't help but smile at House's newfound happiness.

The elevator door opened and the two men headed toward the clinic. House signed in, Wilson right behind him. Wilson quickly took a case file off the desk, purposely avoiding Sarah. House, on the other hand, leaned over the desk, waiting for Michelle to notice.

"Got your note this morning." House's scent floated over the desk, immediately grabbing Michelle's attention.

"Oh good." Michelle's hazel eyes rose to meet House's bright blues. "I didn't want you to think I bolted on you."

He glanced around, dropping his voice. "Free for dinner?"

"I was going to cook up a little something." Michelle answered. "Shannon's going to be around for a change, and I figured we'd hang out. You're welcome to stop by. Dinner's around seven."

"I'll be there if I don't have a case." House took the file that Michelle held out, feeling that same jolt he usually felt between them. "See you later."

House worked his way through the pile of patients that filled the clinic that morning, easily fulfilling his obligation to Cuddy. After his last patient left, he took a moment to pull the quickly dying rose out of his pocket and stick it in the file folder.

He strode up to the desk, handing the file to Michelle and signing out on the clipboard. "2:00. Doctor House signing out."

"Right on time." Michelle's mouth quirked in a small smile. "See you later."

"Yes you will." House lumbered out of the clinic, humming to himself as he headed to the elevator that would carry him back up to his office. He kind of wished he had stuck around to see Michelle's reaction when she opened up that folder. Guess he would just have to find out from her later, and he would most definitely be seeing her later.

Meanwhile, down in the clinic, Michelle opened up the file folder House had just handed her. To her surprise and delight, a note and an orange rose fell out of the folder. She quickly picked up the note and read it.

Michelle--

Not much for words, but I saw this rose and thought of you. Look up the meaning on the Internet if you're interested.

See you tonight.

G.

Curious, Michelle quickly got online and found the meaning of the orange rose. "...admiration and attraction...with an underlying message of passion and excitement..." If that didn't describe she and House, she didn't know what did.

She smiled as she changed out the dying carnations for the one orange rose, pouring some of the water from her bottle into the small vase. It amazed her how quickly things had changed over such a short time. And to think...it had all started with a simple birthday bouquet.

The End

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Thanks to those of you who supported this story, and stuck with it. Read and review. :)