"I need your advice," House said.
He was standing in the doorway to Cuddy's office.
She was biting on a pen, reviewing her quarterly budget report.
"Just apologize," she said vaguely, not looking up from her paperwork.
"What?" he said, limping toward her.
She looked up.
"Whatever you did: Insult a patient. Piss off another doctor. Offend an entire ethnicity. Just apologize. That's my advice. I'm busy."
House made a face.
"That's not what I'm here for. . .I . . .met a woman."
"Masseuse or hooker?"
Now Cuddy did look up.
"What. . .?" she said.
"Listen for yourself."
He pulled out his cell phone, dialed his voicemail and put it on speakerphone.
"Hello Greg? This is Karen Fox. We met at Clyde's last night? You're either going to find this very impressive of me in a Nancy Drew sort of way or very creepy of me in a stalker sort of way, but I tracked down your phone number because I thought we had a connection last night and I find you really fascinating …and I was wondering if maybe you wanted to get dinner sometime? Oh God, even as the words are forming in my mouth I can tell it reads as creepy stalker. Please ignore this message. Or, better still, call me back. Yeah, okay. . . bye."
House shut the phone and looked at Cuddy.
"So you can see my problem," he said.
"That's a problem alright," she said.
"What should I do?"
"The thing is. . . I might like her."
"So I obviously need your help."
"My help? Ask Wilson"
"He's a man. I need the female perspective. Also, he's out of town for a few days."
"House, you're a grown man. You've dated women before."
"Not ones that I don't pay. And not ones who find me 'fascinating'—at least not in a very long time. . . "
"Well, it's not brain surgery."
"No, that would be easy."
She shook her head.
"Call her back," she said. "Ask her to dinner. Tell her some of your best friends are creepy stalkers. "
"House. I'm busy. I have the utmost faith in your ability to manage your own affairs."
"Where should I take her?"
"I don't know." She paused for a sec, got a slightly dreamy look in her eyes. "I've always thought Petite Jacques was pretty romantic."
"Okay. I'll report back later."
"I'll count the minutes."
The next day he was back in her office.
"We're having dinner tomorrow night," he said.
"Actually, I already have plans."
"Not you and me. Me and Karen Fox."
"Ahhh," she said, smiling. "Petite Jacques?"
"The very place."
"Good for you."
"She owns a gallery. You like art. Tell me some art things to say to her."
"I've always thought Manet was one of the better Renaissance painters."
"Very funny Cuddy," he said. "I didn't say I was a cultural illiterate. C'mon. I need something real here. Something that suggests I know the difference between a print and a lithograph."
"House, don't pretend to be something you're not. What you are is. . .more than enough. Trust me on this."
"Just gimme something. . . At Clyde's I seemed very fascinating to her because, well, we were both quite drunk."
"House, tell her about all the lives you pull back from the brink of death. You come across as a pretty impressive guy until a person gets to know you better."
He gave her a slightly exasperated look.
"Thanks for nothing, Cuddy."
As he was leaving the office, Cuddy took pity on him.
She said, "What are you wearing to dinner?"
He looked down at his outfit: Black t-shirt, jeans, rumpled blazer.
"For a first date? At Petite Jacques? I think not," Cuddy said.
"A suit then?"
"You have nothing in between haute hobo and a suit?"
"What do I know? I wear whatever's clean. . .ish."
Cuddy tapped a pencil on her desk.
"What time's your date?"
"I'll be over at 6:30."
She arrived at his place right on time.
She was in her weekend garb—a tank top and jeans.
House eyed her lecherously.
"Ooooh, Sporty Cuddy," he said. "I like."
She ignored him.
"Alright, let's see your wardrobe there, Mr. Blackwell."
She followed House into his bedroom.
She looked at his closet in dismay. There were 5 shirts, two blazers, one pair of Levi's (he was wearing another, identical pair), one pair of dress shoes, one suit—and about 20 pairs of tennis shoes.
"This is it?" Cuddy said.
"My other, walk-in closet is in my Swiss chalet," House said.
Cuddy frowned. There really wasn't much to work with.
"Where are your khakis?" she said.
"Laundry," he said.
Of his button-up shirts, there was a pink one, a white one, a light blue one, a light purple one, and a dark blue one.
"Let's go dark blue," she said. "It'll bring out your eyes."
"I don't want to be too devastatingly handsome on the first date," he said.
"And, let's go with. . .jeans, shall we?" she said sarcastically. (There was no other option). "And this gray blazer."
She sat cross-legged on his bed.
"Go. Change," she said.
She expected him to go into the bathroom. Instead he pulled off his tee-shirt right in front of her.
She tried not to stare, but couldn't help herself. He had a nice body—a fairly well defined chest matted with just the slightest bit of light chest hair, ropy arm muscles, a long narrow waist, and skin that was pale and slightly red around the clavicle, like a school boy who had spent too much time in the sun.
She looked down.
As he raised his arm to put on the shirt and she got a whiff of him.
"Jesus, House. You didn't shower?"
"Go shower. I'll wait."
"There's room for two," he said, grinning at her.
"Go," she said.
She heard the shower turn on, and took the opportunity to snoop around his room.
She opened the drawers—one was filled with boxers and socks, the others were crammed with t-shirts.
There was a bottle of aftershave on the bureau, which made her laugh. She'd never known House to wear aftershave. (Or to shave for that matter.)
On the nightstand, there was a small lamp and the book he was currently reading—something called "The Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. She opened the drawer. He had two boxes of condoms ("good boy," she said out loud), a pair of handcuffs ("huh," she said), and a framed picture of his parents, which she found kind of sweet. (Although the fact that it was in a drawer next to his handcuffs and condoms was telling.) Digging in further, she found a long handwritten letter from Stacy, that she was dying to read, but didn't and a —holy crap!—picture of herself, dressed as Sleeping Beauty from the PPTH Christmas party.
She felt a drop of water land on her neck.
She jumped, closed the drawer hastily.
He was standing mere inches away from her, wearing only a towel.
"Busted," she said.
"See anything interesting in there?" he asked.
"No," she lied, then gave a little smile. "But it's nice to know you're prepared to make a citizen's arrest if necessary."
He smiled back.
"I'm nothing if not a law abiding citizen," he said.
She looked at him.
"You need a haircut," she said, regarding his wet hair.
"What do you think, I'm dean by day, hairstylist by night?"
"All women can cut hair," House said.
She wrinkled her nose.
"It's true. I can probably improve it," she said. "Gimme a pair of scissors. And an electric trimmer if you have one."
"Negative on the trimmer," he said. "But I have scissors."
He went to another drawer, pulled out a velvet pouch that had about 10 different types of scissors inside.
"What are you, Dr. Mengele?" Cuddy said.
"Scissors are cool," he said idly.
She pulled two pairs from the pouch and pulled a chair into the bathroom.
"Sit," she commanded.
He was still wearing just the towel around his waist.
She put another towel over his shoulders, ruffled his hair a bit.
It was an unusual experience being this close to him—strange, yet oddly familiar.
"At the salon, they give me a scalp massage," House said.
"Like you go to a salon," Cuddy scoffed.
House shrugged, looked up at her.
"Stop squirming," Cuddy said.
"Can I at least expect a happy ending?"
"You really shouldn't harass a woman with scissors this close to your skull."
She trimmed the hair around his ears and on top of his head, tried to even it out a bit—it was stubborn, it poked straight up and into elaborate cowlicks. She smoothed it a bit, kept trimming, finally regarded her handiwork.
"Not half bad if I do say so myself," she said.
House looked at himself in the mirror, curled his lip in exaggerated admiration of his appearance.
"House, Greg House," he said in his best Sean Connery voice.
She looked at her watch.
"Shit. It's 7:30. Get changed."
He went to grab his clothing off the bed, was clearly about to drop his towel right in front of her, when she said: "In the bathroom, stud."
"C'mon, you're a doctor," he said, raising his eyebrows. "And it's not like you haven't seen it before."
"House. Bathroom. Now," she said.
The next day, curiosity got the best of her and she called him.
"How'd the date go?" she asked.
"I don't know. Why don't you ask her yourself—she's right here."
Cuddy felt her stomach drop a bit.
"Just kidding," House said. "It went fine, I guess. But something didn't compute: I bought her dinner, I was witty, charming, freshly shorn, as you know, and all I got was a tiny peck goodnight."
"Oh my God, is she some sort of nun? Or Amish?"
"That's what I'm sayin'," House said.
"House, most women don't put out on the first date, you know," she said.
"You did," he said.
"That wasn't a date. That was a college hookup," Cuddy said.
"Stacy did," he said.
"Shut up!" Cuddy said.
"I'm serious. I met her at a paintball party. She fired her paint gun at me and later I fired my paint gun at her, if you know what I mean."
"Go Stacy," Cuddy said, impressed.
"And look how that worked out. I got the cow for free but I still bought the milk."
"You do work in mysterious ways, House," Cuddy said.
"And don't pretend you don't put out. What about you and smarmy Lube guy last month?"
"We'll never know what might've happened that night, will we?" Cuddy said. "Because somebody felt compelled to come over and cock block me."
"Cock block? Classy, Cuddy."
She ignored him.
"So tell me more about this Karen Fox lady," she said. "Pretty?"
"As if you have to ask," House boasted.
Prettier than me? Cuddy wanted to ask, but didn't.
"You would think that a red-headed woman named Fox would be a little sluttier, huh?" he mused. "And unless you come over and groom me before every date, that's the best I'm ever going to look for her. My window of opportunity may have closed."
"So you're going to see her again?" Cuddy said cautiously.
"Yeah. . . I'm going to some sort of opening at her gallery on Thursday."
"Wow. Greg House at an art gallery. You really do want to sleep with this woman," Cuddy said.
"I don't know. I kinda like her," he said. "She's smart. Funny. You'd like her, too."
"I'm sure we'll be besties in no time," Cuddy said.
She was trying to convince herself that the pang she felt was one of irritation and not jealousy.
On Thursday, he marched into her office.
"Lunch plans?" he said.
"Nope," she said. "You heading to the cafeteria?"
"No, I'm heading to Bloomingdale's. And you're coming with me. I need help shopping for this gallery thingie."
"I can't, House. I can't afford to take a 2 hour lunch just because you have the wardrobe of a teenage boy."
"Sure you can. That's the beauty of being the boss. Who's going to fire you—you? Besides, you got me into this mess, you have to help get me out of it."
"I got you into this mess?"
"If you hadn't cut my hair and made me smell good, there probably would be no second date."
"As always, your logic is. . . self-serving," she said.
"C'mon Cuddy. You know I'm helpless without you."
"Alright, give me five minutes to finish writing this email."
At Bloomingdale's, the saleswoman mistook them for a married couple.
"Your wife has good taste," she said to House.
"I'm not his. . ." Cuddy started.
"She's actually my stylist," House explained. "And pimp."
"He's just kidding," Cuddy said.
"Yeah, she's not really my stylist."
Cuddy found him a maroon-checked shirt, navy blue Paul Smith blazer, and dark tan trousers, that he, remarkably, agreed to wear. He looked amazing, if she did say so herself.
He called her from the gallery.
"I'm drowning in a sea of pretentiousness," he said.
"Buck up," she said.
"On the bright side, Karen said I looked—and I quote—'hot.'"
"So tonight's the night?"
"Good lord, I hope so. . . I'm at a gallery for fuck's sake."
"Where's Karen now?"
"Working the room. She's very 'head bitch in charge' tonight. It's a turn on. Reminds me of someone else I know. . ."
Why is he flirting with me when he's on a date with some other woman?
"Oh, gotta go, Cuddy. She's about to introduce me to the artist."
And he hung up.
He called her the next day.
"Ask me if I got lucky last night," he said.
She rolled her eyes, but played along.
"Did you get lucky last night?"
"A gentleman never tells."
Three weeks later, House was in Wilson's office, digging through his candy jar to find a cherry lollypop.
Wilson gave him a look.
"What's that look for? I like the red ones."
"Not that. Why didn't you tell me you were seeing somebody?"
"You've been talking to Cuddy," House said, pleased.
"She mentioned that you were dating a gallery owner? Someone named Karen."
"Yeah. Actually, Karen and I only had two dates. She was frigid."
"Then why is Cuddy under the impression that you're still with her?"
"Just messing with her," he said.
"Why would you do a thing like that?"
"Because she's insanely jealous and just won't admit it to herself."
Wilson folded his arms.
"Uh huh," he said.
"What's 'uh huh' supposed to mean?" House said.
"House, just ask Cuddy out. It would really be so much easier."
"I don't want to ask her out. I want her to realize how hot she is for me."
"Right. . .and this has nothing to do with the fact that she's been coming over, giving you haircuts, giving you romantic advice, getting closer to you."
"Nothing," House said, rubbing the top of his head. "But I am overdue for another haircut."
He stood up.
"Don't tell Cuddy, okay? You'll ruin everything."
"House, ask her out."
"What's the appropriate gift to give a woman on your one-month anniversary?" House said to Cuddy.
They were having lunch in the cafeteria. Ever since Cuddy had become his Cyrano, they were eating together more often.
She almost choked on a piece of lettuce.
"You're buying her a gift?"
He smiled slightly.
"Seems the thing to do," he said.
"Who are you and what have you done with Greg House?"
"I like this woman," he said, somewhat defensively. "It's the longest relationship—by 29 days and 23 hours to be precise—that I've had in years. I just don't want to screw it up."
"No," Cuddy said, taking a sip of her drink. "I think it's sweet that you want to buy her something."
"So what should I get her?"
"Flowers are always nice," she offered.
"How shockingly original," House said.
"I don't know. She's an art lover. How about that new coffee table book on Georgia O'Keefe? Or. . .tickets to an exhibit at the Met?"
"What would you want?" he said, studying her face.
"Me? I don't know." She gave a sexy little shrug. "I always like lingerie."
Now it was House's turn to almost choke on his food.
"Whoa," he said.
He told her he was making Karen dinner for their one month anniversary.
"I need you to come over and help me prep," he said.
"House, I'm not cooking dinner for your girlfriend. I draw the line there."
"Chillax Cuddy. I'm cooking dinner. I just need you to give the place a once-over. Let me know if there's anything here that might turn her off."
Like maybe your handcuffs or that picture of me as Sleeping Beauty you jerk off to, Cuddy thought, but didn't say.
"She hasn't been to your place yet?" she asked instead.
"We always go to her place. So this is sort of a 'big deal.'"
Cuddy wasn't sure. Her mind flashed to a conversation she'd had with Julia the night before.
"Why are you helping House romance this woman?" Julia had asked.
"Because he's my friend, and he's clueless about this sort of thing."
"So what's the right answer?" Cuddy said, already annoyed.
"You're helping him with another woman because you want to be close to him. It's a classic female mistake."
"You obviously don't know my relationship with House," she said. "We're just good friends. And, uh, occasional enemies. Well, frenemies."
"Who you just happen to have the hots for," Julia said.
"Yeah, I think he's attractive, but so what? I also think Wilson's attractive. You don't accuse me of wanting to jump his bones."
"If only you wanted to jump Wilson's bones," Julia sighed. "All of our lives would be so much less complicated."
As usual, Cuddy ignored her sister's advice.
"What time is she coming?" she asked House.
"7:30," he said.
"I'll be over at 6."
When she got there, the apartment was wonderfully redolent of fish and fennel and saffron.
House was in the kitchen, wearing a blue apron, stirring a big pot with a wooden spoon.
"Whatya got there?" she asked him, peering over his shoulder.
She was wearing skinny jeans, a fashionably oversized white t-shirt, and heels.
"Bouillabaisse," he said, ladling a spoonful and feeding her. "Careful it's hot."
She blew on the spoon, tasted it.
"Wow. That's amazing. I had no idea you could cook, House."
"I think it needs more saffron," he said, wrinkling his nose.
He was drinking a glass of pinot grigio.
"Want some?" he asked.
"Sure. Why not."
He poured her a glass.
"I already hid all my porn and my Monster Truck magazines," he said breezily. "Anything else scream, 'Guy who hasn't dated in 8 years and only sleeps with skanks' to you?"
She looked around the apartment. It was clean and well-decorated, in an understated but masculine way. The medical texts combined with the piano and guitar, plus a few well-placed framed black and white photographs, seemed to suggest that he was smart but sensitive. Which, she supposed, in his own screwed up way, he was.
"It's a certified den of seduction," she said.
"You might throw in a plant, next time. It would say: I can take care of a living thing."
"The only living thing in this apartment is my yogurt," House said.
She chuckled, looked at her watch.
"I should, uh, probably go. . ."
"No! Stay. Finish your wine. She won't be here for another hour."
He turned the burner down.
"I've got to let this simmer for a bit anyway," he said.
"Okay," Cuddy said.
She sat down on the couch and he put on a Miles Davis CD, then sat next to her.
They sat in a comfortable silence, both drinking their wine and listening to the music.
A few minutes later, his phone rang.
"Hi babe," he said into the phone. "Oh no… you're kidding. Do you want me to come over? I can pick up some medicine. Bring you chicken soup—well, fish soup from Provence, but close enough."
Cuddy looked at him out of the corner of her eye.
"Okay. . .yeah. I understand. Absolutely. . .Feel better. I'll call you tomorrow."
He hung up.
"So much for my big dinner date," he said, looking pitiful.
"Some sort of stomach bug," he said. "Damn."
"That sucks," Cuddy said. "Sorry House."
"Hungry?" he said, perking up.
"What? You want me to stay for dinner?"
"It shouldn't go to waste," he said.
"Just freeze it. You can recreate this night when she feels better."
"No. . . half the joy of this dish is the way it makes the apartment smell when you're cooking it," he said.
"It does smell great," she admitted.
"So stay. . .Unless you have other plans."
"Nope. No plans."
They finished the pinot grigio and then polished off a bottle of rose. House asked for Cuddy's help with the dishes.
"Some host you are," she said.
"Hey, it's not our one month anniversary," he said.
He washed, she dried.
When they were done, she smiled at him.
"I had fun tonight," she said. She went to grab her purse, as if getting ready to leave.
"Don't go," he said. "I want to show you something first."
He limped into the bedroom and indicated that she should follow.
"I took your advice," he said.
There was a box on the bed. He opened it. Tucked underneath folds of tissue paper, was a champagne-colored silk teddy. It looked expensive.
"It's pretty," she said, lightly fingering the silk.
"You and Karen are roughly the same size," he whispered to her.
"Is that a fact?" she said, flirtatiously.
"Try it on."
Until this moment they had been two friends having dinner, flirting a little, as they always did, nothing out of the ordinary. But now in the dim light of his bedroom, with the slightly inebriated huskiness of his voice, and the somewhat intense way he was looking at her, she felt her face get hot.
"I don't think Karen would take kindly to me trying on her lingerie," Cuddy joked.
"Then it's yours," he said.
"No, it's. . . hers," Cuddy stammered.
"It'll look a lot better on you," House said.
And he lifted the bottom of her shirt and his finger lightly grazed her stomach.
"House, what are you doing?" she asked.
"Take off your clothing," he said.
"I feel like Karen's understudy," Cuddy said, still trying to make light.
He ignored her. Took hold of her t-shirt and, with one quick motion, pulled it over her head. She was just wearing her black bra now, and jeans.
She felt vulnerable and foolish and deeply aroused all at the same time.
"House . . ." she said.
"Take off the rest," he said.
She looked at him. He stared back, unblinking, always so damn sure of himself.
She hesitated, then undid the the snaps on her jeans, pulled them off. Then took off her bra.
He took in her naked body a long time. Handed her the teddy.
"Put it on."
She could see the erection bulging in his jeans and, somehow, it spurred on her own desire. His voice was calm, but his insides were roiling, the same as hers.
She slowly slipped the teddy over her head.
"Look at you, Lisa Cuddy," he said, almost to himself. "Look at you."
He began rubbing all over the teddy, almost massaging her with the silk. He rubbed the fabric against her breasts, grinded it against her ass.
He kissed her chest, then kissed her breasts, bit lightly on her nipples, still over the fabric.
Eventually, he reached under the silk—she let out a tiny shiver as his flesh finally touched hers— and he pulled off her thong. Then he unbuttoned his pants.
They had sex twice—once on the haircut chair ("told you I'd get my happy ending," he whispered) and once in the bed.
Afterward, she got up quickly, feeling guilty.
"You don't have to go right away," he said, drowsily.
"Yeah. I do. I shouldn't have. . . we shouldn't have. . . "
He watched her getting dressed from the bed.
"You can't possibly regret what just happened."
"You girlfriend is sick. I ate her bouillabaisse. And then you fucked me in her teddy."
He tried to conceal a smile.
"It's your teddy now," he said. "It's, uh, stained."
"I'm a horrible human being," she groaned.
"It'll be our secret," he said.
She looked at him, bit her lip, and left.
"Success!" House said, bursting into Wilson's office with glee.
"You made it to Level 6 of Grand Theft Auto?" Wilson said.
"No, I slept with Cuddy. Twice. . . In a row."
Wilson gave a half-hearted smile.
"Congratulations House. It must've been like Christmas in April for you."
"Christmas and my birthday and two-for-one lap dance night at the Genie Club all rolled into one."
"Well, the good news is, you don't have to keep up this Karen charade anymore."
House looked at him like he had two heads.
"Au contraire, my friend. It's this 'Karen charade' that got her to sleep with me in the first place.'"
"No, I'm pretty sure it's the fact that you two have been spending so much time together."
"No, it's because I'm dating someone else."
"Actually, you're not."
"Okay, because she thinks I'm dating someone else. It is a well known fact that all men become more attractive when they are mating with another female member of the clan."
"Yes, because you're a caveman, not a doctor."
"Actually I am a caveman. But that's the beauty of it. She thinks I've suddenly acquired a sensitivity chip. That I'm the kind of guy who makes bouillabaisse and buys lingerie for his girlfriend."
"Apparently, you are the kind of guy who makes bouillabaisse and buys lingerie for his girlfriend."
House shot him a look.
"You're trying to undermine my triumph," he said. "But it won't work! I came, I schemed, I conquered Cuddy."
"Mazel tov, House."
A few days later, Cuddy was having lunch with her friend Anna at a café near the hospital, when a pretty, stylish redhead stopped by the table.
"Anna?" the woman said.
Anna looked up quizzically.
"It's Karen Fox. You once bought an oil painting once from my gallery?"
"Oh, Karen!" Anna said, recognizing her. "How are you?"
Cuddy felt her face go red.
"You're Karen Fox," she said, getting a better look. Definitely House's type—glamorous, very feminine, impeccably put together. But she was about 6 inches taller than Cuddy and more slender in the hips. Cuddy was trying to figure out how that teddy would've fit her.
"I'm Lisa Cuddy, a friend of Greg House's?" she said.
Karen gave a stiff smile.
"How is Greg?" she asked, somewhat curtly.
"You probably know better than I do. I haven't seen him in a few days."
Karen's smile faded.
"I haven't seen Greg in over a month. He came to an opening at my gallery, and never called me again."
Cuddy hoped the shock didn't register too obviously on her face.
"Oh, I'm sorry. . .I was under the impression you two were still seeing each other."
"No, but I do have a message for him if you see him," Karen said.
"I'll, uh, be sure to pass it along."
Two days later, House was in Cuddy's office, trying to get a her feedback on a menu plan for his makeup dinner with Karen, when her phone rang.
She answered it.
"Hi Daniel," Cuddy said. House watched her entire body language change. She smiled, curled up kittenishly into her chair. "Yeah, me too," she whispered.
She held up a finger toward House, indicating the phone call would just take a minute.
"Tonight? That sounds great." She began girlishly twirling a lock of her hair. "But I have a better idea. Why not come to my place? I'll make dinner. . .Right, great. 8 o clock? I look forward to it."
She hung up, gave a dreamy sigh.
"Where were we?"
His mouth dropped open.
"Who the hell was that?"
"Just a guy my friend Anna set me up with last week. A lawyer named Daniel."
"And what . . .you're having him over to your place tonight? For a second date? Isn't that a little . . .aggressive?"
"He's nice. I'm attracted to him."
"You don't have to sleep with every guy you're attracted to, you know."
"But aren't you glad I do?" she teased.
"I don't think you should sleep with this guy," House said, slightly frantic. He had a lost a little bit of his usual cool.
"Because. . . You're better than that. You're not a skank. You should make the guy wait."
"Oh House. It's 2007. Not 1954. Get over it."
That night, House tried to get his mind off Cuddy's dinner date, but found it impossible.
He played Grand Theft Auto, but kept crashing out at Level 1.
Then he tried to play the piano, but he couldn't string together any coherent melodies.
He tried to watch porn, but kept thinking about Cuddy's face when she had succumbed to him, put on that negligee.
He paced, looked at his watch. It was 10 pm.
"Screw this," he said.
He got on his bike and drove a block away from her house, cut the engine, and hobbled the rest of the way.
The house was dark, except for a dim light in the bedroom. House crept to the side of the house, tried to peer into her room, but the curtains were drawn. He heard R&B music playing lightly on a stereo. There was a tiny crack of an opening in the curtain. If he could just get himself in the right angle in the bushes. . .
He stepped toward the bushes, but found they made a horribly loud crunching sound. He leaned a bit, putting all of his weight on his cane, craned his neck. He could see a bedpost now and a trunk at the foot of the bed, but no sign of Cuddy. He leaned a bit further and. . . landed with a thud in the bushes.
Cuddy came to the window, opened it.
"Spying much?" she asked.
"A little help here?" he said.
"I'll be right out," she chuckled.
She disappeared and then materialized next to him, wearing a robe and slippers over her nightie. She held out her hand, helped him up.
He fished for his cane in the dark, then imperiously brushed some leaves and dirt off his clothing.
"Are you okay?" she said.
"Never better," he said, still trying to look in the room. "Is loverboy in there?"
"He never made it. Some sort of stomach bug? I think he may have caught it from Karen."
House squinted at her, getting it.
"There is no Daniel," he said, profoundly relieved.
"And you cut Karen loose a month ago," she said.
"Whoops," he said.
"What kind of game were you playing, House?"
"Obviously a successful one," he said.
"Was it really necessary?"
"Let's see. We've worked together now—what—eight years? And you never so much let me steal a kiss in an exam room. I start dating Karen and you're modeling lingerie for me and grinding up against me in a chair."
"You're a pig," she said.
"And you love it," he said.
"Go home, House."
"Cute robe, Cuddy."
He stepped toward her.
"Now who's playing games? We both know that we want the same thing."
He went to kiss her.
She put her hand on his chest, backing him off.
"Maybe I do. But I'm at least owed a proper date."
"Okay, I promise to take you out to dinner this weekend," he said. "Can we have sex now?"
"But I'm not a skank, right? I'm supposed to make the guy wait."
"But you already put out! You pre-put out! You can't revise history now."
"You revised your history, I'm revising mine."
His shoulders slumped.
"Petite Jacques? 8 pm Friday. I'll pick you up," he said.
"That would be lovely."