The Gauntlet

Chapter 56

A/N: go to youtube and find "Maurizio Pollini plays Chopin Nocturne no. 8 op. 27 no. 2" and listen as you read…

House ran his fingers evenly over the keys trickling out a rhythm like water running over a gentle brook. The music flowed from him, cascading out from his inside, down though his arms to his fingers like an electric current. He was immersed in the serenity of sound and feeling.

The delicate harmony filled the quiet space around him, mixing with the subtle crackle of the fire in the hearth beside him and the gentle tick of the clock over the cabinets in the kitchen. Thirteen was in the shower washing the remains of the day from herself while he relaxed, as he so often did, with a glass of bourbon and his music.

He hadn't really intended to buy her that lingerie tonight; it just came over him when they were there. A glimpse of something pink had caught his eye and it reminded him of the very first night they had sex… when she had come to him in a pink lace bra and panties. She was exquisite then, and he couldn't believe that she had been standing in front of him that night. She was, for all intents and purposes, the most beautiful woman he had ever had the pleasure of. Tonight, he wanted to celebrate that beauty by finding other garments that would be equally as enticing on her. Lingerie was fun… and when you had such a perfect canvas to paint on, well, it was like eye-candy even for the blind.

He sipped his drink, letting the warmth fill his mouth as he continued to play. He was feeling classical tonight. Fingers traipsing through a Schumann Etude, he recalled hours upon hours of practicing until it was just so; running scales crescendoing upward, higher and higher on the keys escalating to a feverish pitch. He closed his eyes, playing out the bottom chords, their reverberation filling his chest. He didn't have to see, he could feel and remember exactly where and how the fingers were supposed to go. The notes soared and swelled, taking him away on cloud of musical ease. He loved this time of day, when it was dark and quiet, and he could sit by the fire and play with a drink warming in the air on top of the piano. And now, with his amazing woman changing in the next room, he had something equally as wonderful to look forward to.

House could hear her shut off the water to the shower and putter around the bathroom. He loved having her around and enjoyed the little sounds that she made as she moved through his apartment. She was silent like a ninja. When she padded around in her bare feet, sometimes he could barely tell she was there. He always knew though, because even if she was quiet, her presence was big. He could feel her energy. It was peaceful and comforting. She was quiet and serene and she calmed him.

In his mind's eye, he could see her wrapped in one of the fuzzy towels, combing out her long auburn hair. Her skin would be dewy, freshly scrubbed from her shower. As he continued to play the rich classical music, he was reminded of those paintings by Degas of the bathers and he could imagine her dabbing on fragrant spots of that exotic cinnamon perfume. His body began to tighten in anticipation of her coming to him in the filmy lace negligee he bought for her. There was something so possessive and primal about it; a man waiting for a woman to come to him as she prepared for him to make love to her. It was predatorial, almost antiquated, yet the feeling was quite visceral.

He transitioned to a lyrical piece by Chopin, a Nocturne, which seemed fitting. It was another one of the many that he had memorized over the years. This one was very much like Thirteen, complicated in its base, simple in the melody, a study in contrasts, really, deep and rife with emotions but seemingly effortless when played correctly. His hands moved purposefully over the smooth ivory, reveling in the magic of smooth plastic and felted wood on a taughtly tuned string. He caressed the keys, making sweet music, just as he was going to caress her body in a short while as he made love to her. He would play her like a piano, making her hum and crescendo like a delicate and passionate piece of music.

Wordlessly, effortlessly, she came into the room. He glanced up when he felt her presence by the piano and she took his breath away. She was more beautiful that he could have ever imagined. Her long hair was damp, falling in twisted curls as it dried naturally of its own accord. Her skin was indeed, clean and dewy, soft and still supple from the heat of her shower. The lace camisole he had picked out for her looked like it had been made solely for her, the way it hugged her breasts gently lifting them to lovely mounds that curved softly over the thin, fine fabric tied with a delicate ribbon just begging to be pulled open.

His hands stilled, hovering over the keys and he flexed his fingers, aching to touch her. He swallowed hard as she stepped closer to him, a secretive smile playing on her lips. She was ready for him, seducing him with her mysteriously feminine aura. He reached out his hand for her and she ran her fingers up his forearm as he guided her hips in between his legs and the piano. Her ass bumped the keys as he placed her directly in front of him making an awkward sound that echoed into the silence of the room and she laughed melodiously as she brought her hands to rest on his shoulders.

House looked up into her eyes and felt his pulse quicken with every second she held his gaze. Her grey blue eyes had deepened to a rich murky slate and a flush of heat graced the skin on her chest. Her tongue darted out licking her full lips as she lifted her chin urging him to kiss her. He held her eyes instead, absorbing the sensation of beauty. Deliberately, he placed his fingers on the flat plane of her stomach where the lace hung open, trailing his palm up the length of her abdomen, experiencing every inch of her smooth skin. She plunged her fingers into his hair when he followed that same path with his nose, teasing her with his breath. Her belly tightened reflexively underneath his touch they way it always did when he tickled her with his beard. Her skin smelled fresh and powdery, and he closed his eyes at the sound of her exhale.

Slowly pulling back from her, he dipped his fingers into his bourbon and painted a line down her stomach, filling her belly button with a drop of the amber liquid. A ghost of a smile hovered around the corners of her mouth and she gasped out loud when he flicked his tongue in to lick out the taste of bourbon on her skin. He inhaled a deep breath as the heady mixture of oak and flesh mingled on his lips.

Normally he would never consider this, but she was so intoxicating that he had to taste all of her right now. Grabbing her solidly by the hips, he lifted her to the top of the piano careful not to knock off the glass or damage his precious instrument. Her eyes were wide in heated fervor as he guided her feet to the keys, once more plunking out incompatible notes when her heels pressed the ivories and blacks in dissonance. Running his hands along the length of her inner thighs, she surrendered herself to him and laid her head languidly back against the shellacked surface of the piano, allowing him to have his way with her. Watching her, his fingers skimmed the damp triangle of pink lace that covered her curls. She let out a moan and arched herself toward him, silently begging for him to touch deeper. Slipping his finger underneath the lace, he stroked her gently working her silky smoothness to a moist bud.

Rising, House stood over her relishing how she stared deeply into his eyes, silently pleading with him to give her release. She reached her hand out to touch him and he clasped her fingers in his, kissing the tips one by one before suckling each one in turn.

He was making himself crazy, taking his time, but this wasn't about him. Right now this was about her and her pleasure. His would come later. Hooking his thumbs under the string of her panties, he slipped the scrap of lace off of her legs and tossed them aside gently kissing her ankles and knees as he guided her feet back to the keys. Taking the glass of bourbon in his hand, he dipped his fingers in again and carefully dripped a path of his favorite liquor onto her stomach and into the freshly cleaned tangle of hair between her legs. When he licked the trail off her skin, she nearly came off the top of the piano in ecstasy, her body taught with anticipation to have his tongue where she needed it most. Every path, every stroke elicited a moan sexier than the next. She was purring like a kitten by the time he sat back down on the piano seat and plunged his tongue into her dusky essence. She tasted so incredibly sweet mixed with the burn of his whiskey, a dizzying combination he wouldn't soon forget. His tongue delved into her moist heat, repeatedly flicking and teasing her to a feverish pitch, just like the rising scale he had memorized long ago. Her feet plunked out random chords as she writhed under him. The abstract sounds of her pleasure blended enthusiastically with her sighs and drove him further into her. Never in his life had he enjoyed such discord in his ears. Finally, she screamed out as her orgasm exploded deep within her.

Sated and breathing heavily, she lay back against the hard surface beneath her for a few breaths and House placed chaste kisses along the creamy flesh of her inner thigh. He waited for her to come back down to reality, gently running his fingers down the backs of her calves. Eventually, she sat up on the piano and smiled dreamily down into his face. Her eyes were heavy with desire. She was replete and pleasured, and he would have gladly gone to bed with the memory of her bliss fresh in his mind but she evidently had other designs for how this even was going to end. Cupping the back of his head in her hands, she leaned over and kissed him with a passion that reached down into his soul. His lungs burned with a feeling for her so heavy that he thought it might consume him.

Slowly, she slid herself down from the piano guided by his hands. Once her feet were back on the floor, she reached her hand out to him summoning him toward the living room. House placed his free hand on his thigh for support as he followed her the few small steps away from the piano. He watched her as she turned and pushed the coffee table out of the way leaving a space on the carpet in front of the fireplace. Grabbing the blanket from the couch, she knelt down in front of him and began to undo the button of his jeans. He watched her intently as she took down his pants freeing him from the confines of his clothing. Gently, reverently, she ran her hands up his thighs and he didn't know why but he let her touch his scar. It wasn't scrutiny or analysis; it was pure erotic touch, as if the evidence of his disability wasn't even there. What was more was that she was face to face with the damage and it was like she wasn't even seeing the disfigured flesh before her eyes. Instead, she lifted the hem of his t-shirt and urged him to remove it before taking the full and aching length of him into her mouth.

House almost fell over as the exquisite torture of her tongue on him sent him swaying off balance. He reached out to hold onto something for stability, but couldn't find anything. He had to grab onto her head to stabilize himself, and it proved to be an even more erotic a move than he anticipated. Groaning, he threw his head back in rapture as she returned the favor and exacted superb torture on him. He was powerless to her touch; he couldn't move or balance himself. She had rendered him incapacitated in a few long, smooth strokes. He had only her to rely on and his equilibrium was fading fast.

Panting out a breath, he moaned and grunted, fighting the coming his release. "Remy… I can't."

Slowly, she stopped her exquisite torment and pulled back as she held out her hand to help him down to the floor next to her. He was breathing heavy as he knelt in front of her. House knew there was panic in his eyes, his vulnerability exposed like an open wound but she smiled lovingly at him and wrapped her arms around him swaying gently into his body. She didn't comfort him or condescend as she kissed him, instead she continued her pursuit of him and he wondered when this had turned from his masculine pursuit of her, to her exquisitely feminine making love to him.

None of it really mattered, though, when she eased him to the floor and straddled his hips, taking him fully inside her. Pausing for a moment, he simply breathed a few breaths, savoring the incredible feeling of her. He reached up and tugged on the rose-colored ribbon, letting the delicate lace fall away to the sides exposing her fully to him. The amber light from the fire illuminated her skin to a golden ocher, rich and buttery, like a hot summer sunset. His hands reached up to cup both of her breasts, tweaking her nipples between his fingers; tugging and playing with them causing her to bite on her lip as she moaned in pleasure. Fervently aware of her around him, he brought his hands down and held her hips as she began to rock against him slowly taking him in and out. She was liquid heaven, hot and moist, searing him inside her. They were both so close to the precipice that they soon exploded into a blinding climax in a few brief strokes. Pulling her down against his chest, he held her tightly to him, closing his eyes against her hair. He was shaking with raw emotion for her and he knew that he was irrevocably bound to her now more than ever. He loved her deep within his soul and he could no longer live without her by his side.

Swallowing, he ran his hand down the length of her back. "Move in with me. Stay here permanently." His breath was coming in gasps and his heart was pounding in his ears.

In the mere seconds it took for her to respond, House's world paused in a terrifying limbo. He wasn't sure what she would say. They had never discussed such a thing other than the apartment key issue the other night. He knew she was committed to him but she was fiercely independent and had been for a long time. He had no idea how she felt on the subject and wondered briefly if he had made a grave mistake by asking her.

Slowly, she lifted her head from his chest to look him in the eye. Momentary fear clutched at his heart, but he was immediately rewarded with a smile and a shimmer of tears in her eyes.


He brought his hand to her face, swiping at the moisture with his thumb, and he was lost in the crystal blue depths of her eyes. She bent to kiss him, laughing in sheer joy as she hugged him tightly.

House let out a sigh of relief, chuckling as she half laughed, half cried into his neck. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure," she replied.

"Because I don't want to tie you down, if you don't want to…" he said halfheartedly, praying that she wouldn't take the out he'd just given her.

"Babe, I would have moved in after you gave me the key for Christmas," she told him. "I've just been waiting for you to come around to it."

"I should have asked you then… I would have asked you then but…" his voice trailed off not really knowing what he wanted to say.

Running a finger along the length of his collarbone, she shrugged and smiled lovingly into his eyes. "No matter. You asked now and now's good."

House's heart squeezed in his chest. Though they never would be the marrying kind, they were profoundly devoted to each other. He loved her more than he could ever really express. Living together was a final step for him, a promise to be faithful and true to her. He didn't need a ceremony or a piece of paper to tell him he was hers or that she was his. Her presence by his side everyday was proof enough. Now, finally after all of the shitty experiences he'd been through, he was happy, content and at peace for the first time in a long, long time. This incredibly fascinating woman in his arms made him feel oddly, strangely… utterly complete.

She was his nocturne, his study in contrasts… she was his Thirteen.

Remy lay next him, curled up in the blanket, listening to the soft steady sound of his heartbeat in his chest, the soft crackle of the fire filling the space between. She was content, sated, supremely happy.

If anyone had told Remy Hadley when she first walked into Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital six months ago that she would have fallen so deeply in love with the most difficult, brilliantly fanatical man in the world she would never have believed them. If they had told her she would be in an intensely sexual and loving relationship with him, she would have thought they were delusional. From the very first minute she laid eyes on him, Gregory House was unattainable, untouchable, unlovable.

He was… House.

In the beginning she hated him… She truly hated him. He was rude, insensitive, obnoxious and overly demanding. He made all of their lives a living nightmare in a survival quest for a coveted job that seemed like only the rash and foolhardy wanted or needed. There were days when Remy had wanted to just walk away, to run screaming from the hallowed halls of Diagnostics toward some semblance of sanity. But something had kept her there; something had amused her about him and told her that this, whatever it may have amounted to, was meant to be. If she had known then what she knew now, she would have laughed herself silly.

Since that first day, she had killed a patient and his dog, repeatedly committed Breaking and Entering, had survived to the Final Four and then wound up fired. She did drugs with him, proposed a sexual liaison with him and got it; and oh boy was it good. She had fallen in love with him that very first night at his place. She was sure of it now; somewhere between the wine, the stupid rules, the breaking glass and the morning she woke up in his arms, she fell irrevocably head over heals for him. He had broken her heart in a swift moment of indecision but had then won her back in the sweetest most selfless gesture. Ever since then, he hadn't let her go. She knew then that she would have followed him to the ends of the Earth.

Now, Remy loved him… truly, deeply, ardently loved him with a passion that set fire to her core. He grounded her, filled her, taught her and challenged her to be so much more than she ever expected she could be; as a doctor, as a woman and as a lover. The closer they became the more she was secure and stable in her decisions, confident in the choices that she had made and accepting of the potential for her death if it were to ever come to light. They had opened themselves to one another and had allowed each other access to their fiercely protected souls.

The House she had come to know was so much more than he portrayed to the world. With her, he was gentle and caring, loving and affectionate. He allowed himself to be vulnerable in front of her and he had come to trust her. There was a deeply compassionate side to him that no one, not even his closest friend was permitted to see. And that very fact made her feel special, chosen and very deeply loved.

To say that she was the happiest she had been in her life would be an understatement. To believe that it was because of the love of a man who shut the rest of the world out with derision would have been absurd. To hold fast that she wouldn't have had it any other way should have been insane. But she was Remy Hadley; she thrived on the unique, the interesting, the slightly off kilter. She wanted her life to be atypical; she wanted her life to matter and to know that she had made a difference in the world before she was gone from it. She knew that in the six short months that she had been here, with him, she had already achieved that and more. She had made a difference, for their patients and definitely for him. Most importantly, she had made a difference for herself. She was stronger, she was smarter and she was happy.

For however long this love affair lasted for them, Remy knew that she would cherish every single moment of it. She had a rare glimpse into pure bliss and every other thing; every other person would pale in comparison.

Remy Hadley loved Greg House.

It wasn't fairytale.

It wasn't even Middle America suburban.

It was uniquely theirs... and whatever it was, it was happily ever after.


A/N: Thank you to all of you readers who have favorited, alerted and reviewed along the way (and even you silent ones). I am grateful for your time and your enthusiastic support.

Special thanks to Kwaish for coming to the dark side with me, brainstorming and adding ALL those commas! Thanks to Vanamo for always being on the dark side and for letting me bounce ideas off your head.

This has been a great ride and I have LOVED every minute of it. I adore these two as a couple and could surely have written an epic of domesticity and mundanities but, alas all good things must come to an end.

One day I will revisit them. I have this story about a dog…

Ciao for now my friends!

Love you all,