House wandered into his favorite dive bar and was surprised (and more than slightly annoyed) to see a pretty brunette sitting at the bar stool he normally occupied.
When he got closer, he was even more surprised to see that it was his boss.
"Dr. Cuddy," he said, shaking the rain off his jacket—it was pouring out—and sliding into the barstool next to her. "You never struck me as the kind of woman who drowns her sorrows in a sleazy bar."
She had been deep in thought, but managed a small smile.
"And yet, why am I not the least bit surprised to see you here, Dr. House?" she said.
"I could leave," he said, gesturing to the door. "Unless, of course, you were also looking to drown your sorrows by picking up a strange man for sex. In which case, call me Bob."
Cuddy laughed. House's complete lack of sensitivity was perhaps just what the doctor ordered tonight.
"No sex. But you can stay. That way, you can protect me from any other stranger with ideas."
House gave a rueful glance at his leg.
"I'm afraid my damsel protecting days are behind me," he said.
"Oh sorry. . .I didn't think."
She felt like a jerk.
"It's okay," House said brightly. "When push comes to shove, I will bite. . .That was a bar fight reference, by the way, not a sex reference. Although it could definitely apply to either arena, if that's your thing."
"House. . ." she scolded.
He gave her a roguish grin.
"So how are you anyway?" he asked sincerely. "It looks like I walked in on some serious wallowing here."
"I'm okay," she said. "You know, it's been a rough few days. But at least Alfredo is going to live—thanks to you."
"Just doing my job, ma'am," House said in a deep voice, doffing an imaginary hat.
"And you were almost a human being today in my office. So thanks for that, too."
She gave him a grateful smile that he found completely alluring. Of course, Cuddy could ask for the latest budget report and House would find it alluring.
The bartender, Tony, came over to take his order.
"The usual?" he said.
"Make it two," House replied.
"I hope you're drinking both of those," Cuddy warned. "Because I'm drinking wine tonight."
"Wine is not a proper drown-your-sorrows beverage," House advised. "Whiskey is. Unless, of course, you can't handle it."
Cuddy gave him a look.
"Oh, I can handle it," she said.
She took the glass of whiskey that Tony had placed on the bar and gulped it down with a flourish. House grinned, impressed. He loved a woman who could hold her liquor.
"Two more, barkeep!" he said, downing the contents of his own glass. "And keep em coming."
Now this was going to be fun.
"If you're trying to get me drunk to take advantage of me, you're barking up the wrong Dean of Medicine," Cuddy said.
"I seem to recall more purring than barking last time we were this close," House said, leaning in and whispering in her ear. "Speaking of which, why does everyone think we had sex, anyway?"
"Um, because we did?" she said.
"I know that—although I never tire of hearing you say it. It's just that I figured your residual afterglow would have worn off after 8 or 9 years."
"Don't you mean residual shame?"
"Ha!" he said sarcastically. "Maybe everyone thinks we did it, because you've been boasting about our night of forbidden passion to a few of the nurses? I wouldn't blame you if you had."
"Or maybe it's because you're constantly leering at me?" she countered, taking another large swig of her drink.
"Not constantly," House demurred. "I take a little time off to leer at Stacy. . .and Cameron. . and that one nurse on the 3rd floor."
Cuddy rested her chin in her hand, looked at him with mock sympathy.
"It must be hard for you, House," she said. "You've got one employee with a crush on you. Your ex girlfriend is the hospital's head counsel. And you once had a"—she searched for the right word—"fling with your boss."
"I would hardly call a day I celebrate every year like a national holiday a fling," House said. "But yes, dealing with the Witches of Plainsboro is a cross I have to bear."
"Awww, poor baby." She made a pouty face.
"I know at least one way you could console me," he said.
"Dream on, House."
House smirked. Even her rejections felt like come-ons to him tonight.
An old song came on the juke box—"At Last" by Etta James. House wished briefly that this was the kind of bar people danced in—and, for that matter, that he was the kind of guy who asked women to dance.
"So tell me the truth, House," Cuddy said. "Have you and Dr. Cameron ever been. . . intimate?"
He feigned surprise. "Dr. Cuddy, I never took you for a gossip!"
"Just making conversation," she replied with a shrug. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
"No, Dr. Cameron and I have never 'been intimate,' as you so eloquently put it. Except for in her own mind, of course, when she plays Ken and Barbie: Teen Diagnosticians at home."
"Why not? She's very pretty. And she clearly worships the ground you walk on, poor deluded girl."
"She's not my type," House said. "Too . . ."
"Young?" Cuddy offered.
"Nice," House said.
"You don't want to hurt her," Cuddy said, getting it. "That's actually very gallant, House."
"How dare you!" he scoffed.
"I never knew you were such a softy," she said, rewarding him with a gentle touch on the arm.
House decided that he positively loved drunk Cuddy—every move she made was imbued with a kind of secret sensuality.
As it often did, his mind drifted to what she must look like naked. The last time he saw her body, it was pretty damn close to perfect—and it was obvious that the years had been kind. Back then, he was still young enough to take her beauty for granted. He promised himself that, if given the opportunity, he wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
He was jarred from his daydream by Tony, who came over to clear the empty glasses.
"So how come you never told me you had such a pretty girlfriend, House?" he said.
"Oh, it's not like that," Cuddy said hastily. "We're just co-workers."
House winked at Tony and made a face suggesting that Cuddy was merely being discreet. When Tony walked away, he turned to her, delighted:
"Oh. My. Gawd. Even Tony thinks we're doing it!"
"Shut up, House."
The intrusion of a third party into their little pas de deux seemed to throw her. She looked at her watch.
"I should go," she said. "It's late."
"Noooo!" he protested. "We were just starting to have fun."
"You only have yourself to blame, House. I've had too much of this horrible swill you've been force-feeding me."
"I'll drive you home," he said firmly.
"I can get myself home," she said.
"It's still raining. And you, Dr. Cuddy, are drunk."
"You drank as much as I did!"
"Yeah, and I have about 100 pounds on you."
She stood up—staggered a bit, but straightened herself regally. If the move was meant to prove how sober she was, it didn't quite have the desired effect.
House slapped some money on the bar and followed her to the doorway. It was still pouring. Neither of them had an umbrella.
House took his jacket, put it over his head like a tent and grabbed Cuddy, pulling her in tight.
"Wanna make a limp for it?" he said.
They made their way to his car, but his makeshift umbrella hadn't been particularly effective—they were both drenched. She didn't even protest as he unlocked the passenger side and let her in. They sat in the car, laughing.
"You're soaked," Cuddy said.
"So are you," he replied.
He leaned across her slowly. For a heart-stopping second, it appeared he was going in for a kiss. Instead, he pulled a napkin out of the glove compartment.
"This might help?" he said.
She dried her face—then took the napkin and patted House's face and neck, giggling at her lack of success. She was merely smearing his face with more moisture.
She looked so damn cute, with her wet, curly hair, her laughing eyes. He wanted desperately to kiss her. He had to keep reminding himself that she was his boss.
"Home, Cuddy?" he said, chauffeur-style.
"Okay," she gave in.
"I could pretend that I don't know where you live, but we both know I performed a B&E at your house just yesterday," he said.
"True," Cuddy said. "Speaking of which, I want my pink thong back."
'I didn't take your. . .!"
"Gotcha," she said mischievously.
They drove to her place.
He put the car in park. There was a long silence. She looked at him.
"House, turns out you were exactly what I needed tonight," she said. "So thanks."
"You're welcome," he said.
She went to give him a kiss. It was meant to be friendly kiss on the cheek, but somehow their lips found each other, lingered a bit too long. A bit of her wet hair stuck to his cheek.
Neither of them dared to move a muscle. The car was quiet, save for the sounds of their breathing and the gentle hum of the engine.
"I should probably. . ." House said.
"Doyouwanttocomein?" she asked—the words all came out in a rush.
"That's a really bad idea, right?" he said, trying to convince himself.
"Right," she agreed.
She got out of the car reluctantly. Started walking in the rain toward her front door.
He watched her for a second until he couldn't take it any more.
"House, you idiot," he said to himself.
He threw open the car door.
"Cuddy!" he shouted.
He limped quickly after her. Grabbed her face with both hands, pulled her toward him. They kissed, their wet clothing clinging to them, the intensity of the rain only fueling their desire.
They managed to find her keys, open the door, stagger inside. Cuddy was already tugging at his shirt, which was now unbuttoned. He pulled off her still-soaked blouse and unclasped her bra—licked the rain off her neck, kissed her breasts. She moaned his name in a throaty sort of way that made him feel like he was about to explode.
But he remembered his promise to himself. He stopped—took in the sight of naked Lisa Cuddy—the taut plain of her stomach, the undeniable perfection of her breasts, the gentle slope of her hips.
"Beautiful," he thought. (Or had he said it out loud?)
But unlike him, Cuddy wasn't in the mood for mental photographs. She pushed him up against a wall, wrapped her legs around him.
The only thing hotter than 21 year old Lisa Cuddy, House decided, was 36 year old Lisa Cuddy—his boss—wet, naked, and climbing all over him.
Some things were actually worth the wait.
The next day, around 3 pm, Stacy wandered into his office.
"Have you spoken to Cuddy?" she asked.
House was slightly taken aback by her question. He tapped a pencil nervously on his desk.
"No," he said quickly. "Why?"
"She was in pretty bad shape yesterday. I was just wondering if she was okay."
"Oh," he said, relaxing. "I'm sure she's fine. She's a trooper."
He gave a little smile.
"And what are you so smiley about anyway?" Stacey said suspiciously.
"Yeah. . You've had that same look on your face all day. Like the cat who ate the canary."
"What? I'm not allowed to be in a good mood?"
"You don't do good moods, House. . ." She gave him a knowing look. "You got laid last night, didn't you?"
"A gentleman never tells."
"I don't think it's necessary to protect the virtue of hookers, House."
House smiled at her.
"See you later, counselor."
She shook her head, made her way downstairs and into Cuddy's office.
Lisa was sitting at her desk, looking over some files. Her eyes were a little bloodshot, but besides that, she looked as impossibly put together as ever.
"How you feelin' today?" Stacy asked.
"I'm good. Much better, thanks for asking," Cuddy said.
"You do seem better," Stacy said, squinting at her. "You're actually kind of . . .glowing."
"I wouldn't get carried away," Cuddy replied quickly, trying not to blush. "I'm just glad everything worked out the way it did."
"Alright, well let me know if you need a shoulder to cry on."
"Thanks Stacy. I will."
Stacy exited her office. As she stood in the hall, a thought drifted into her mind and wouldn't quite go away. . .They couldn't have . . .Could they?
She shook the thought off.