Author's Note: This piece takes place in the future when Rachel is five; House and Cuddy are in an established relationship. This fic also contains sex. If any of those things bother you, please hit your back button.

Disclaimer: I don't own them.

Gift of Screws
Chapter One: Friday Night
By Duckie Nicks

"Essential oils are wrung:
The attar from the rose
Is not expressed by suns alone,
It is the gift of screws." – Emily Dickinson

He looked up from his book when he saw her come out of the bathroom. A white terry cloth towel was wrapped around her body, which was a delicate shade of pink from the heat; her hair was wet, the dark strands practically plastered to her face, and the entire look was one he couldn't resist much less ignore.

House wanted to, of course. He was not happy with her right now; having spent the morning snooping through the desk in her office, he'd spent the rest of the day being annoyed at her, and he wasn't ready for her body to leech the irritation out of him.

Luckily for him, Cuddy was in the mood to be annoying.

Sitting on the bed, she began to rub lotion into the smooth skin of her legs. And as she did so, she said sweetly, "House…"

In protest he started to read once more; from experience, he knew that she really only used the tone of voice she was using when she wanted something from him, and since he was angry with her, he was in no mood to give her anything. So he supposed it wasn't surprising when she, wanting an answer, asked him, "Did you break into my office today?"

He looked up at her innocently. "Does that sound like something I would do?"

Her fingers were massaging the curve of her knee when she answered "Yes. You do."

"Well, like the prophet Shaggy once said: it wasn't me."

She shifted her body on the bed, so she could face him. "I know it was you."

He scoffed at her tactics. Did she really think he was going to confess? "Oh really? How?"

Cuddy smirked at him, her lips on the verge of a predatory smile. "After we had to call a S.W.A.T. team to take care of a hostage situation in my office, I decided that it was a good idea to have cameras installed in the –"

"Yeah, because nothing stops a gunman from shooting like 'Surprise, you're on Candid Camera,'" House said, sarcasm and doubt laced in every tone.

Honestly, he didn't really care about her reasoning for having surveillance installed. If anything, it seemed more unusual that she hadn't had such precautions taken earlier in her career. Especially after what's-her-face had stolen drugs from the pharmacy, House recognized that it made sense to have everything recorded. But at the moment, he was willing to exploit the issue in order to distract Cuddy from what he'd done.

However, she wasn't interested in taking the bait.

"Don't change the subject," she ordered coolly. "Why did you break into my office?"

He rolled his eyes in response. "That's not the question you want to ask me."

"If I didn't want to ask it, I wouldn't have," she said through gritted teeth.

"Fine. It's the question you shouldn't be asking, because you already know the answer to it."

He wasn't yelling at her, but his voice had gotten distinctly louder, sharper. And to be honest, Cuddy was never anything but amused by that tendency of his. For as long as she had known him, he had done this, and it always made her wonder if he thought an increase in decibels somehow made his argument more potent.

Maybe he just thought it would scare her into shutting up.

She didn't really know, but she had news for him either way: whatever the motivation, he was wrong – period.

Undeterred, she pushed him further. "You're right. I do know the answer; I know that you're insane and that, in your mind, I have sex with you, so you have the right to snoop –"

"I'm the insane one if that's what you've deduced from this situation?" He made a face that was not unlike the one Rachel made when Cuddy made her eat Brussels sprouts.

"That's right."

He shook his head before setting his book aside. It was a curious situation indeed, the one that lie before him. She was making this all about his issues when really the more interesting aspect of all of this was her baggage. And even if that were simply a matter of opinion, any onlooker would have to agree that it was odd that she was focusing on his sanity and not on what he might have discovered in her desk.

Well, perhaps they wouldn't. But he definitely thought it was curious.

"Are you even listening to me?" Her voice was nothing short of a snarl, but House couldn't help but think that her anger was completely undermined by the fact that she was sitting on the bed in a towel that was just short enough to give him a glimpse of the promise land.

"Not really," he admitted easily. "I'm too busy wondering why you're not worried about what I might have found in your desk." Tossing a hand casually in the air, he added, "Granola bars, keys to the pharmacy, pornography – I could have found a whole slew of things in –"

"If there's pornography in my office, it would be there, because you put it there."

He gave her a pointed look. "Now you're just avoiding the point all together."

"I have nothing to hide."

As soon as the words had been uttered, Cuddy knew that she hardly sounded convincing. It was too perfunctory, too quick to be believed, and if her goal had been to shut House up, talking like that, she knew, had done the exact opposite.

"Really?" He looked at her doubtfully.

She threw her hands up in the air as best as she could while still maintaining hold of her towel. "No, you've caught me. I'm really sixteen and pregnant."

"I'd believe it," he admitted, moving his hands underneath the back of his head as he rested against the headboard. "Your breasts are certainly big and perky enough to –"

"Oh, I'm so glad we're going to turn this conversation into an ode to my cleavage."

"The way you're sitting, I can see your labia," he pointed out. "What the hell else am I supposed to talk about?"

Glancing down at her body, she sighed; she'd been so angry with him, so intent on yelling at him that she hadn't even bothered to get dressed before broaching the subject. And feeling just a little ridiculous for picking a fight while practically naked, Cuddy was determined to remedy that as quickly as possible.

Which was, of course, met with great protest.

As she moved towards her dresser, House said in a remorseful voice, "I wasn't suggesting you should get dressed."

"Too late," she replied with a satisfied smirk. At least now, she wouldn't feel like the only one who was miserable, she told herself as she pulled out gray pajama pants and a black sweatshirt.

House made a noise of disapproval. "The sweatshirt? Guess I won't be getting laid tonight."

"You're just figuring that out?" she asked as she yanked the pajama pants on.

He didn't answer the question, instead preferring to say, "Well, that's fine with me. My hand's looking a little friendlier at the moment anyway." But this time his words were the ones that didn't reach their full potential; because it was at the moment he'd started speaking that Cuddy had taken the towel away from her chest, and, although he was mad, he couldn't deny that her breasts did funny things to him. And that knowledge robbed his voice of the conviction he was feeling everywhere other than his dick.

Yet Cuddy didn't seem to notice.

Oddly enough, she actually seemed to understand the implication of his words and behavior. As she jammed her head through the neck hole of her sweatshirt, she said angrily, "You're mad at me?" She scoffed in disgust and didn't even give him a chance to reply before ordering, "Please, tell me what it is that you discovered that has you so upset."

"Upset? I'm not upset. I'm –"

"Just tell me what you found before someone discovered you in my office and made you get out," she ordered in frustration.

He eyed her carefully. "You don't know what you have stashed in your own desk? Or are you just hoping that I completely missed the notice you got about Rachel failing kindergarten?"

The words coming out of his mouth felt like a slap in the face.

Admittedly there was no anger or accusation in his tone; it was an undeniable fact that House had absolutely little to no feelings for Rachel, and he certainly had no interest in her education. So Cuddy knew that he was hardly judging her over the matter.

But God, it hurt to hear him state with such clarity Rachel's situation. It hurt so much that Cuddy had to avert her gaze from his penetrating one.

Forcing at least part of her attention on finding her hairbrush, she said quietly, "She's not failing." She let out a shaky breath. "They don't fail you."

"But they can recommend that she be held back, which is what they did do."

"Doesn't mean she will be." Her eyes catching sight of the brush she wanted, she stalked over to her bureau and grabbed it. And though she wasn't looking in his direction, she could tell that he was staring at her.

"Yeah, that makes perfect sense," he said doubtfully. "Force the school board to take your kid, even though she didn't meet the cut off date for starting kindergarten, and force them to push her through again when –"

"Did I ask for your opinion?" There was no denying how indignant she sounded as she spun around to face him once more.

But he wasn't going to be deterred by that. Had he ever been? He didn't know – or care about – the answer to that question and instead chose to shrug his shoulders. "Of course not. But since when has that mattered?"

Her hands on her hips, she answered the question briskly. "Since you decided that you wanted absolutely nothing to do with Rachel. Since you –"

"Oh, relax," he interrupted. She was getting worked up, and he didn't even care all that much about Rachel to begin with. And it was hardly, in his mind, the bigger discovery he'd made while snooping through Cuddy's office. "I don't care what you do with the tater tot. Pass her, fail her – hire her for all I care. God only knows she'd do a better job than half the nursing staff."

Her voice was softer when she responded. "Well… obviously you care on some level if you're this bent out of shape over –"

"Did I say that?" He pretended to go over their conversation in his head. "You asked me to tell you what I found. You surmised – you assumed – that I was, as you put it, upset." She didn't say anything as she tried to remember how the conversation had gone. "I told you that I found out about Rachel. I never said that it was upsetting to me."

Cuddy supposed that there was some logic to that. But she also couldn't ignore the fact that he clearly was bothered by something.

"Then what else did you find?" she asked. "Obviously, you found something that irritated you."

"You sure about that?"

"Yes," she said with a nod. "You hardly saw any patients, so you're not taking your anger out on me over that. We weren't fighting this morning. You and Wilson are fine." She was vocally going through the list of things that would typically send him spiraling. It was a mercifully short list, but one that frequently created problems for him (and therefore her) nonetheless. "So just tell me. All right?"

"What are you doing on Sunday?"

The question made absolutely no sense to her. Well, that wasn't exactly true; she understood what he was saying, but she didn't get why. Of course, she wasn't going to tell him that, instead choosing to hide her ignorance with "Not you, I can tell you that much."

He was not amused. "I'm being serious."

"At this point, House? So am I." She was furiously folding her towel, which was stupid, because he knew that she'd be doing laundry in the morning. Unless she'd randomly decided to change her routine, in which case he wanted to know why (there was always a reason).

But when she furiously stuffed the towel into the clothes hamper, House wrote behavior off as little more than her annoying tendency to become irrational. Of course, he wasn't going to say that out loud; she might have been content with her insanity, but he certainly wasn't going to offer proof of his own mental illness by doing something as crazy as saying, "You're crazy."

Instead, he clarified in irritation, "I mean what are your plans?"

She shrugged. "I don't have any."

It was a lie. The invitation he'd found, her day planner, the email on her computer – it was all proof that she was lying.


"You don't have anything to do that day."

"Yes," she replied annoyed. "That's what I'm telling you."

And the funny thing was that she didn't appear to be lying then. Obviously she was, but there was something about her demeanor that suggested that she wasn't aware of that fact. There was something beneath the irritation that looked in his estimation like earnestness.

But that emotion was fleeting as it gave way to a look of realization. As she climbed into bed next to him, she added dimly, "Oh. Okay. Every year Sanford Wells and his wife host a dinner party during Purim for all of the Jewish board members and donors. Since it's my job…" she explained hostilely. "To keep all of those people happy, they invited me – us – to the party, but –"

"And you what? Weren't going to tell me?" he asked with just a touch of accusation; tempted though he was to overdo it with the emotion, he knew that that would only make him seem just as upset as she seemed to think he was.

Yet that appeared to be exactly what she was going to do anyway. As she adjusted her pillows along the headboard, she asked curiously, "Are you actually upset that I didn't let you know that I had been invited to a party I knew you would have no interest in attending?"

"No." No, that wasn't it at all.

She stopped what she was doing to look at him carefully. "You are."

"Is that what I said?" he snapped, shoving the bedding out from underneath him so he could get under the covers. "Cause I don't think that's what I said."

At that point, it was clear that Cuddy was equally perturbed. "If that's not the issue, then please let me know. As fun as this conversation has been…" she said dryly. "I'm really not in the mood to play a guessing game that's going to end with you pretending your Hitler."

He didn't answer the question. "Are you going?"

Although she looked at him as though he were losing his mind, she did, thankfully, answer his question. "Of course. Why does it –"

"So you're going to be religious from now on."

He didn't sound like he was asking her. If anything, Cuddy thought he sounded convinced by his own words. Which wasn't surprising; when was House not convinced of his own genius?

All right, so she knew there were times when he wasn't, when doubt filled him like water in a ship riddled with holes. In those moments, when the fear of failure seemed to be all that he could hold onto, she held onto him as though nothing else in the world mattered. And in those few times she had seen him like that, she had always been reminded why she liked that arrogance in him to begin with; although it often bordered on being annoying, that assurance that he was almost always eventually right was comforting. It made things seem hopeful… even if they weren't.

But right now, he was so wrong there was no way he would ever get this right. He was so wrong that it would take millions of years for the light of "eventually right" to dawn on him. If he were left to his own devices anyway, and she had no intention of letting his ignorance affect her any longer.

As she angled her body to face his, she told him coolly, "I have to go. Were you listening to me at all? It's my job to keep those individuals happy and –"

"So that's all this is? Your job?"

House was clearly searching for some sort of reassurance that she didn't know how to give – or want to give in this case. Considering he wasn't even saying what the issue was, considering how he was letting her flounder around as she tried to understand his insanity, she had no desire to make him feel better.

"That's part of it. Yes," she told him irritably.

The way she phrased her answer made him suspicious. "What's the rest of it?"

She rolled her eyes. "Well, I am Jewish, so –"

"So this is about religion." He couldn't (and didn't really try to) hide the disdain in his voice.

And Cuddy immediately picked up on that. "I'm Jewish, House. Why is it surprising that I observe a –"

"Oh, so now you're observing Purim. Tell me, what else do you have planned for this weekend of fun?"

As soon as the words had left his mouth, she was out of bed and heading toward the bathroom. Her feet practically stomping on the ground, she thought to herself that this was precisely the problem with dating House:

He gave her too many headaches.

Quickly searching for the aspirin in her medicine cabinet, she tried to calm herself down. She tried to remind herself that she'd chosen to be with House for a reason. Years ago, when she'd had the opportunity to be with Lucas, to be with someone who was as uncomplicated as they came, she'd decided to be with House instead. She'd decided to be with the person who she… loved.

And even though that meant being with the person she often wanted to slap, Cuddy told herself that it was worth it for what she was getting in return.

God, that was hard to keep in mind though.

Swallowing the two tablets she managed to scrounge up, she slowly returned to the bedroom. And when she did, House was watching her, his eyes trained on her as though she were a foreign creature.

She ignored the look as she silently got into bed. Part of her hoped he would take the hint and drop the subject all together.

But she should have known better.

"So," he said brightly, the blankets only around her knees. "Suddenly, you're being a good Jew?"

Inwardly she sighed. He knew just what to say to loosen her tongue.

One of her eyebrows raised, she repeated, "'Suddenly'?"

He nodded his head. "First, there was Hanukkah, and now –"

She couldn't help but roll her eyes at where this was headed. "Two holidays that I've celebrated regularly –"

"Didn't do Purim last year."

"Last year, you decided to go to Atlantic City with Wilson," she pointed out. "The year before that, you had a patient and holed yourself up in your office. The year before that, we were fighting, and before that, we weren't together."

Cuddy didn't necessarily enjoy that she could list off the top of her head what had (or in this case hadn't) happened the last four years during Purim. Truth be told, it made her sound a little crazy.

But there was no helping it, she supposed; she remembered, because the moments she'd had with Rachel in those last four years had permanently crystallized every event from that time. Her surroundings then coated in a mental resin, it was impossible to forget any of those things that had occurred.

"If you had been here, you would have known that this isn't new," she finished.

House, of course, had no idea whether or not she was telling the truth. He guessed that she would almost have to be, considering how much time it would take to construct such an elaborate lie.

But then again, it hardly mattered whether or not it was true. At the moment, the only thing that mattered to him was that Cuddy was participating in this crap at all.

"So you have a history of believing in things that aren't real. Good for you," he told her sarcastically. "I'm sure Rachel will really appreciate it when she finds out that it's all a lie."

Cuddy pulled the blankets to her shoulders before turning away from him. Her dark hair spilling out on the pillow as she got comfortable, she simply told him, "Good night, House."

He couldn't see her face from this angle; he would have needed to sit up straighter to do that. In this case though, he didn't need to see her face. She was lying on her side, thus giving him a view of her back. And even though she was wearing an oversized sweatshirt, he could see the stiffness of her spine and muscles. He could tell that she was tense, angry.

And it was proof that he should stop, that he should let it go.

But he couldn't.

"What, no defense?" Cuddy said nothing, so he continued. "You're not going to try and convince me that Jesus loves the little children?"

Her head shifted on the pillow a little bit, but still, she didn't speak. Which surprised him, to be quite honest, because he would have expected her to say something – even if it were just a "shut up." But she just stayed silent.

"Oh come on," he said insistently. "I didn't even use a Jewish reference there! You don't have anything to say to that?"

When she still didn't respond, House knew he needed to recalibrate his approach. Clearly she wasn't going to be provoked into reason, and he knew he needed to try something else. But what?

The answer came to him almost immediately: placate her, try to understand – something along those lines. The precise way to proceed was unclear to him. Or at least, the exact things he needed to say to get the result he wanted were unknown to him. And that wasn't all that surprising.

Almost every day of his life, House was wrangling somebody, trying to convince someone to let him do something. But in most of those cases, he could railroad them with reason or the most basic forms of manipulation.

With Cuddy though… none of that was going to work. And instead, he would need to be… tactful and kind – two things he very rarely was these days.

Still, it was worth a shot. If it got him out of having to deal with Cuddy's apparent religious beliefs, it was absolutely worth it.

So with that thought in mind, he slowly got under the covers and spooned up against her. He didn't want to go too fast; doing that would only make her more suspicious than she surely already was. Obviously there was no avoiding her suspicion all together. She was too smart to think that the body pressed against hers and the arm around her waist were there for much besides an answer.

Pressing a light kiss against her neck, he asked her quietly, "Mad?" She shrugged but said nothing, and House was once again forced to continue. "Tell me that this is actually something you believe in. Tell me that you seriously believe that the world was created in a couple days and –"

"And what? You'll leave me alone? I doubt it," she interrupted, her silence finally broken. "And don't even try the I'm-actually-interested-in-what-you-think-about-the-universe routine," she warned darkly. "We both know you couldn't care less."

When he didn't protest, Cuddy knew that that was the truth: he didn't care. Not really anyway, because it was only incidental to his belief, which was that religion was pointless; the exact nature of her Judaism hardly mattered after that, because she was already an idiot in his mind.

"I don't care what you believe," he agreed, his tone harder than it had been moments previously. "I just want to know why."

Truth be told, she didn't want to explain herself. God only knew she didn't need to do that; after beating around the bush, he certainly hadn't earned an explanation.



Maybe giving House some context would help.

Perhaps he would be more understanding if she were to tell him that her attachment to her heritage, her insistence on passing it on to her own child had nothing to do with God.

But that seemed like a long shot.

A really long shot.

And ultimately, it just didn't seem like a risk worth taking. Showing him that part of herself when he might not understand… it didn't seem worth it. There already seemed to be too many reasons to break up with him, too many reasons to walk away. She loved him, but there were too many days where that seemed like an impossible task.

She didn't want this to be another reason, another day, another doubt in her mind.

So she decided that it was time to end the conversation once and for all. Her voice firm, she told him, "House, you can either stay here this weekend and behave yourself or you can go stay with Wilson until Monday. It's your choice."

He offered her no immediate answer. He probably had no idea what to say. Especially when he had no idea what behaving himself would entail (she'd only been forced to admit to the party), he probably didn't want to commit to anything right away.

Because of that, it came as no surprise to feel him exhale warmly on the back of her neck and to hear him ask, "And what exactly would I have to do?"

"What I tell you to do," she snapped back. "Go to the party. Keep your thoughts on God and Jews to yourself. Come with me to Rachel's dance recital –"

"That's not even during Purim," House whined.

"It'll be Purim somewhere" was her cold response.

And the more he thought about it, the more he understood why she would insist on him doing that. Aside from the fact that she was always pushing him towards Rachel, Cuddy was also probably aware that having him watch the little hippopotamus dance was easier than trying to explain why he'd sat that event out but participated in everything else that weekend. So he could see why she would make that part of her list of requirements.

But that didn't mean he liked it.

Truthfully, there were many things House wouldn't have minded doing for the woman whose ass was pressed against him right now. There were many, many things he would do for that booty – too many to count, he told himself. Watching Rachel and her fellow crotch fruit dance around for however long though…

He wasn't sure that would be one of them.

Still, he supposed he could work with what Cuddy was offering. "If I do what you want," he said slowly. "What do I get in return?"

"Why would I give you something for being respectful of how I choose to raise my daughter?" She didn't give him a chance to respond; somehow she knew that the point would never be stomached, and so she capitulated almost instantly. "Fine. Lets pretend I agree to this. How much sex are you going to want in return?"

She could feel his smile on the nape of her neck and his hand running along her stomach up toward her breast. "So smart and sexy," he practically cooed. And though part of her was sure that he wasn't being sarcastic, another side was suspicious nevertheless.

As his thumb brushed against her nipple, she warned him, "I'm serious. How much time am I going to have to spend on my back?"

He snickered. "You want an exact number of hours?"

"Just an idea of what you have in mind," she said tiredly.

He gave her an immediate response. "I was thinking: you do what I want in the bedroom; I'll do what you want outside of it."

The words came out of his mouth easily, so easily in fact that, if she weren't paying attention, his terms probably wouldn't seem all that bad.

Okay, so they weren't all that bad.

There were certainly worse things than having sex with House; most things were worse than having sex with him, she corrected. And yet she still felt… annoyed at the whole idea. Why should she have to give him anything?

It was such a childish question.

Such a childish question.

And she didn't know if it was the shame she suddenly felt or the knowledge that she wouldn't be getting a better offer that made her agree, but she did. "Fine. Sex for the weekend."

House squeezed the breast he'd been palming. "Any way I want it. Anywhere I want it," he told her, clarifying his terms.

She practically barked out, "I said fine."

And with those angry words, the deal was made. Neither spoke right away, but they didn't need to; the knowledge that they'd made this hellish bargain at all weighed heavily on both.

Eventually though, House, needing to pretend that his weekend wasn't going to suck, said, "So… wanna have sex?"


He pulled her body closer to his. "Come on, Cuddy. You like make up sex…"

"Make up sex?" She made a noise that was something between a scoff and a laugh. "I'm still mad at you, you idiot."

But he wasn't dissuaded. "Angry sex then. I'll let you –"

"House." She sounded completely fed up; she was fed up, and so she was entirely serious when she said, "You are giving me a migraine, so I will have sex with you right now if you just stop talking."

He knew how to take the hint. Within seconds, his hand tunneled underneath her heavy sweatshirt, so he could greedily cup her breasts. Her skin was hot from the fleece-lined top, and the way his fingers plucked at her nipples made her feel even warmer.

But given all of the fighting she had done with House, Cuddy couldn't quite manage to enjoy it. And so, as his lips descended to her neck, she told him, "Do me a favor – just use me and get off, all right?"

He stopped what he was doing. "Really?" he asked surprised.



She shrugged. "Skip it."

It was all the permission he needed.

Quickly he sat up and pushed the covers off of their bodies. And he was about to spoon against her once more when he realized there might be an issue. "Think we're going to need lube?"

As soon as the question had been asked, Cuddy's hands disappeared into the waistband of her pants. She shoved the bottoms down to her knees with as much vigor as House had used with the sheets. As she kicked her way out of her pajamas, she told him, "No. We'll be fine."

His gaze instinctively trained itself on her bare ass and thighs.


It felt as though whatever blood was in his body had instantly shot to his cock. She was so toned, so perfect in his eyes that she never failed to make him hard, never failed to make him want her. So much so that it didn't matter that they'd been fighting only minutes earlier. It didn't matter that he had made this deal with her, didn't matter that she was constantly taking him farther and farther from the godless, childless life he'd always envisioned for himself.

In that moment, all that mattered was her, her body.

And he couldn't resist touching her.

He cupped her ass, his palm running along the soft curve of her backside. His fingertips lightly danced around her bared hipbone, and he silently marveled at how pale her skin had become in the winter months. She probably hated the lack of color, of course, but for House, it was an unexpected turn on.

It just made her look… pristine – virginal and untouched, and he felt the overwhelming desire to touch her, mark her, make her his.

Leaning down, he kissed the upturned part of her bottom. His nose pressed against her, he could smell her desire, and knowing that she wanted him made him want her so much more.

His voice hoarse, he ordered, "Pull up your shirt."

She smiled a little, knowing that she was getting to him. It was so easy to turn him on. And though she knew the reverse was also true, at the moment, she liked seeing the desire in his eyes. She liked knowing that she was the cause.

Her gaze trained on him, she slowly slid her sweatshirt up to her neck. She used her chin to keep the material in place, which was, admittedly uncomfortable. Yet that discomfort dissipated when she saw his eyes widen at the sight of her bare breasts. Impressed with herself, she watched him lick his lips, watched him swallow hard. And she wasn't surprised when he confessed, "God, I want you."

She nodded her head, her sweatshirt slipping a little. "I know."

He seemed a little frozen, so she reached for him. As she pulled him back down toward the bed, he was tempted to tell her that he loved her. After all, who else would have put up with any of his crap and still be willing to have sex with him afterwards?

Well, he knew the answer: no one.

Nobody other than Cuddy would do this for him.

And he knew too that, if he didn't make this work with her, he would never be with anyone. It was her or nobody, and he also knew which one of those options was the preferable one.

Yet, as he kissed her neck and fumbled to pull his dick out of his pajama pants, he stayed silent. He understood all too well that intimacy in sex had the tendency to seem false. To confess his love now would be to open himself up to the possibility of her rejection.

No, he corrected instantly; it wouldn't be a possibility. It would be the inevitability, because she would never believe him in this context. And frankly that would have upset him if not for the fact that he knew he wouldn't have believed her either if she'd been the one to say it. So he kept his mouth shut as he eased his body up against hers.

They were lying side by side once more now. His erection was trapped between them, pleasantly so, the feel of her warm ass against his most intimate flesh a nice one. Definitely a nice one, but also one that made him feel crazy with the need to screw her.

Cuddy must have picked up on that, because she shifted her body then to accommodate him. Moving her top leg back and up over his hip, she gave him the space he would need to penetrate her. "Bendy," he murmured in approval.

"You're welcome," she told him dryly. "I do the yoga just for you."

He smirked at her sarcasm, but the light mood between them didn't last. Stroking his penis once with his hand, he then eagerly guided himself toward her moist opening. She sighed her approval as he pushed himself into her, and quiet, save for their labored breathing, filled the air around them.

There was a brief moment of calm between them, a short instant where just being inside of her, just being connected to her like this was enough. He could feel her slick muscles clench every so often around him, her warmth spreading to him, consuming him.

One of his arms burrowed under her body, so he could reach around and cup her breast once more. His other hand gripped her hip tightly for traction, making sure that when he pulled out and pumped himself back into her, she would be there, right where he wanted her.

Everything where he wanted it, he rocked his hips away from her.

The movement made her moan quietly, and he took that to mean one thing: she'd told him to just hurry up and get off, yes, but she was already worked up enough that her own orgasm was likely. Unavoidable even, if he were to play his cards right.

Knowing that, he pulled out completely, much to Cuddy's dismay.

She hadn't really been interested in sex when he'd proposed it. But now that she'd had a chance to see how much he wanted her, now that she'd felt him inside of her and could still feel the head of his penis parting her labia, she wanted it – him.

"House…" It sounded more like a plea than she would have wanted it to. Yet it seemed to be exactly what he wanted to hear; as soon as his name had been uttered, he pushed himself back inside of her, her pussy suddenly full once more.

He groaned a little in her ear before asking her, "How in the hell do you get so wet?" She didn't answer the what she assumed was a rhetorical question and instead craned her head back to kiss him.

As her lips met his, he began to rock back and forth against her. The grip on her breast tightened ever so slightly, two of his fingers plucking her nipple until it had hardened to his liking. To her liking, she amended as she felt little waves of pleasure rippling throughout her body.

His tongue gently rubbed along hers, their mouths mimicking the pace the rest of their bodies had set.

It was slow, the way he moved inside of her. They were spooned against each other, and his thigh coupled with her leg draped on top of him limited the amount of thrusting he could do. But House knew he was getting the job done. He could feel how wet she was getting.

From this angle, he was rubbing her in all the right places. Each thrust, though short, stimulated her g-spot, and the feel of her ass pressed against his thighs and lower stomach (even through his t-shirt) was doing a lot for him.

A lot.

With each jerk of his hips, he moaned into her mouth, his desire quickly getting the better of him.

And he wasn't alone in that at all. As he became more incessant, so did she. His balls slapping against her, the feathery brush of his pubic hair and pajama pants against her half-naked body – it was making her feverish with need.

He tore his mouth away from hers, breathing through his nose no longer enough to sustain him. Pushing into her, rocking against her over and over and over, he gasped for breath, for release. His palm was sweaty against her hip, and his fingers dug into her harder to maintain his grip on her.

Egging him on, Cuddy began to thrust her own hips in time with his, allowing him to penetrate her further. And the change in angle, he recognized, was going to be his undoing.

He buried his face in her dark hair, which was still damp from her bath. "Close," he warned her. Her slick muscles squeezed him encouragingly, her body silently giving him permission that he didn't want.

Closing his eyes, he said, "Don't. I – I'll –"

"It's okay," she told him quietly.

He wanted to wait.

He really did.

But he couldn't.

The hand on her hip shot down to the place their bodies were joined in a last-ditch effort to please her. His fingers parted her wet folds, and he eagerly sought out her clitoris. But he'd just started to rub his thumb along her warm body when he felt the heat well within him.

He was at that point of no return now.

And even if he wanted to hold off, he couldn't do it any longer.

The desire to come all consuming, his thrusts became more erratic, harder, faster. His pants and t-shirt were becoming slick with sweat, the material sticking to him uncomfortably.

But he didn't care about that.

At all.

Cuddy was moaning her approval loudly beside him, a low and guttural "yes" escaping her parted lips.

If either had been in their right mind, they would have considered the possibility of waking Rachel. Yet they obviously were not thinking clearly; Rachel was of no concern to them at that moment. The only thing they were considering was the motion between them and the heat it was creating.

House thrust into her a couple more times as roughly as he could. Every muscle in his body strained to be closer to Cuddy. And when she pushed herself back against him, that was the second he came. For a brief moment in time, he felt as though someone had set fire to him, a hot sensation that did not burn filling his cock. And then it was gone, passing through him, and into her, a noisy half-groan, half-sob from him bursting into the air as his fluids filled her body.

He kept thrusting out of instinct, and whether it was that or the sensation of his semen inside of her that did the trick, she didn't know.

Or care.

As her own orgasm took her by surprise, she had not a concern in the world. Her muscles squeezed him hard, rhythmically, and though it certainly wasn't the best sex they'd ever had, Cuddy would have been lying if she'd said she hadn't enjoyed it. The warm feeling of satisfaction tingling from her fingertips to her toes, she knew all too well that this had been nice.

They never had nice sex, she thought as House practically wheezed in her ear. Passionate, angry, dominating, quick – the kind of sex they had usually could be described by one of those words. But as she calmed down and became more aware of her senses, she could see that this was different for them.

It really had been nice sex, the kind of sex you probably had when you'd been married for a long time. It was… domestic and sweet, reassuring in a way that hadn't required too much emotional upheaval. And House would naturally consider that terrifying and unacceptable (which was why she didn't tell him). But for Cuddy, the act of normalcy was a welcome change.

Slowly getting out of bed to fetch the pajama pants that had fallen to the floor during the act, she could see how welcome it really was. She couldn't deny that she loved the more lively aspects to her relationship with House. Although she didn't love the fighting, she did enjoy the challenge and the way they forced one another to be as present and in the moment as they knew how.

But truth be told, she'd always wondered how long that could last. She'd wondered how long she could force Rachel to live in that kind of environment before Cuddy would need to make a choice.

As she put her pants on and headed toward the bathroom, she felt relieved that she might have been turning the corner with House. That there might be some sort of domesticity in their future, that there was the possibility that they could be a family made her feel more hopeful than she'd ever been in this relationship.

And when, moments later, she returned to House's side, her face burrowed into his now bare chest (she guessed his t-shirt had gotten too warm for him), she smiled into his skin. And when he asked, "Mad?" the answer was one she freely gave him:


As her eyes fluttered shut, she could only hope that she'd still be able to say the same thing after this weekend.

To be continued…