The priest left shortly after the last of the congregation filed through the center aisle and out the doors. Several minutes later, the custodian disappeared into the basement, arms laden with linens.

House hooked his cane over the handrail of the first pew. Beside him, she loosened the white shawl around her head and let it drape over her shoulders.

"I never thought you'd show." She spoke with a delicate, breathy voice. Her fingers traced folds in the fabric of his sleeve.

House huffed a laugh. His attention flickered from her grin to her fingertips. "No one could resist irony like this."

She nodded. Her tongue swiped her bottom lip. Bright eyes settled on his cane, and she stepped close to him, raising her mouth to his ear. "A little longer," she teased, "and you could have been a participant. A shepherd, maybe."

Hot, hot breath in his ear made his cock twitch and forced all the bravado out of his reply. "Well," he said. "This staff is not my most impressive. I keep that one—"

Before he delivered the punch line, her hand dropped to his crotch and palmed his burgeoning erection. She raised one eyebrow and, over the rasp of his sharp inhale, asked, "In your pants?"

"I was going to say, 'in my closet'." He shut his eyes and breathed a quiet sigh. Another gasp when she squeezed him. "You're headed for a brutal stoning if someone catches you."

"So I'll make sure no one does."

In six fumbling steps, House was pressed against the rear wall of the Nativity stable. His breathing accelerated, muscles tensed, as her hands loosened his belt. "What," he choked out, "no room at the inn?"

"The inn is four miles away."

His head fell back against the rough wood, mouth agape and desperate for air, when she wrapped her fingers around him and pulled him from his pants. She stroked him until he hardened, thick and blood-hot.

"He is risen, indeed," she said.

He thought to comment that her joke was more Easter-appropriate, but she flashed a smirk and sank to her knees before his cotton-dry tongue formed the words. He closed his mouth to stifle a groan when the tip of her tongue dragged along the underside of his shaft. His head fell forward and eyes widened as cool air streamed across his skin. Pink, pursed lips hovered millimeters from the head, and the combined tease was enough to drive his hips forward—shamelessly eager and willing.

House dammed his mouth with his shoulder as she swallowed the length of him and a strained, muffled cry of relief rose from his chest. He gasped and panted, pushed away from the wall and into the slick-wet heat of her mouth—again, again, deeper, a little faster—until he came, palms flat against the wall, spine bowing, and the back of his skull grinding against wood.

When they separated, the hoarse sounds of their breaths resounded in the empty space, unnoticed and unanswered. She wiped her mouth as she rose to stand. House tucked himself into his pants and drummed his fingers on this thigh. An awkward silence fell over them. Both pairs of eyes averted to the floor. Feet shuffled. Two voices sounded at once. "I only have—" "I just wanted—" She motioned for him to speak.

"I, uh, only have about a hundred on me right now." He reached into his back pocket. His brow furrowed when she shook her head.

"No, it's okay," she said, then added wistfully, "It's more blessed to give than receive, right?"

He stared at her and swallowed convulsively as she rose to her tiptoes, her hands on his chest, and kissed his cheek.

"I just wanted to wish you a merry Christmas."