Author's Notes: Several months late, this fic was written for autumnrain78. For her birthday, she wanted a fic where House and Cuddy have sex with another woman (not Cameron or Thirteen). As such, this piece contains adult situations including a threesome and femslash. If that offends you, please do not read. This fic is set during 7x08, "Small Sacrifices," right after the wedding.

Disclaimer: Not my show.

Folie à Trois
By Duckie Nicks

The champagne, or the sudden reminder of the greatest mistake of her life, had gone straight to her head. Was going straight to her head, she corrected, looking at herself in the bathroom mirror. Her reflection seemed vaguely worn, not drunk, because in spite of the fuzzy feeling inside of her, she wasn't drunk. She was just tired – of everything – and the liquor wasn't helping.

He wasn't helping.

Sick of fighting with him, Cuddy had planned on putting their fight on hold. He'd joked about getting her tipsy enough to sleep with him, but the truth was: that was what she intended to have happen. Slipping her glass under the champagne fountain a couple times, she wasn't going to get drunk. She was just going to give herself permission to forgive him long enough to have sex with him.

Looking at herself in the mirror, she couldn't believe it even needed to come to that. Her fingers toyed at the top of her dress, and she thought then that she shouldn't have gone strapless. It didn't look bad on her, admittedly; she thought she looked good – even now, long after she'd first put the garment on. But the gown was slightly rumpled now. The bust had gone askew, and now there wasn't a chance in the world that there'd be a time tonight where her boyfriend practically ripped her out of it to get to her body.

Then again, there'd never been a chance of that happening tonight. She was ready to suspend the argument; he got off on it continuing, on her giving up. He thought he'd done nothing wrong, and all he wanted now was for her to admit the same: that he had been right to lie and she had been wrong to even suggest that she deserved an apology.

He thought he could break her.

He'd yet to recognize that she was resolute, wouldn't – couldn't – let the matter go at this point. As a matter of pride, she needed the apology now. Even if he didn't mean it, she needed him to concede even superficially that he had hurt her and felt bad about that. And she wasn't going to forgive him until he said those words.

Earlier she'd been willing to set their fight to the side for one night – two if he'd gone to the rehearsal dinner with her. Angry as she was, she wasn't prepared to cut him off completely. She thought she would be. How long had she gone without sex over the years when she hadn't had anyone interested in her? How many times had Lucas left her unsatisfied and agitated and uninterested in having sex the next time? She thought that made her able to kick House out of her bed as punishment.

It didn't.

Regular sex with him, good sex with him, made it hard for her to give it up. She missed rolling over in the middle of the night and resting her cheek on his chest. She missed sex in the morning, the weight of his body against hers. Even just the feel of his kiss was something she longed for after this short period of time. So… she'd decided they would have sex tonight, and then he would apologize or they would return to fighting, but at least she would have a temporary reprieve from the situation.

And now there was no chance of that happening.

Because, she thought as she roughly ran her fingers through her hair, she was dating House. Because he was a jerk who could never admit that he was wrong, because he never thought he was wrong.

Her fingers caught in a tangled strand of hair at that thought. The pain of having her scalp tugged registered in her mind, but she was too angry to care. She was too focused on House's idiocy to consider what she was doing.

Which was why she was surprised when the door to the bathroom burst open and a voice said loudly, "Your boyfriend is an asshole."

There was no point in glancing around the empty bathroom to see if there were another woman behind her. Cuddy knew from the second she heard Sam's voice that this was about House. Asshole accusations were usually… always about him.

She turned to face Sam. "Believe me. I'm aware of that."

Having just glanced at herself, Cuddy could see that they both looked flustered, angry, and upset. Briefly she considered that she might not have been the only person House had gotten into a fight with that evening. But if that had been the case, why wasn't Sam talking to Wilson about this?

It wasn't as though Cuddy had any sort of friendship with the frazzled woman before her. There'd been one double date, which had ended almost as badly as tonight was going to. Clearly they weren't friends, and it was a little odd to be face to face with her now, when it was clear that she had somehow become Sam's confidant.

"I guess the first thing he teaches you is that nobody is capable of telling the truth," Sam said, as she moved in front of the mirror. Her fingers shook as she unsnapped her purse and reached inside for lip gloss. "Assume everyone's lying, right?"

Cuddy didn't respond right away. Her heart wasn't interested in an outright denial, given what she was currently fighting with House about. But she wasn't sure she wanted to agree with Sam either. Doing that would probably prolong a conversation between them, and nothing against Sam, but Cuddy really just wanted to go home and go to bed. House wasn't going to apologize. Not even for bringing up her past marriage, not tonight anyway, so what was the point in staying here?

In the end, she settled for a non-committal, "Something like that."

But it didn't matter what she said. Sam was too angry to truly hear the words.

"He proposed, you know?" she asked, uncapping the tube of lip gloss.

"I didn't know."

"We fell in love at a wedding so James thought…."

Her blond ponytail swayed back and forth as she shook her head. The make up brush sweeping fresh color onto her pout, it took her a moment for her to continue.

"Last week I asked him to review some of my cases. He thought I made a mistake, but I didn't. I told him I followed guidelines, and he said he believed me." She practically slammed her purse onto the countertop. "But apparently he decided I was so incompetent at my job that I wouldn't catch a mistake. Or, and this is the more likely scenario given that he probably talked to House, he assumed that I would lie to him about what I'd done."

Cuddy wasn't sure what to say. Sam was leaving several gaps in her story, which made it difficult for Cuddy to understand just what had happened. But one thing was obvious: if she were to say the wrong thing, the situation could easily turn into another fight for her. On any other day, perhaps she would have been willing to take the risk of offense. Doing that when she was already arguing with House, however, was out of the question. That was the last thing she wanted.

So she tried to keep things calm, tried to sound as nonjudgmental as possible, by saying, "That doesn't sound like Wilson."

"No." Sam snorted loudly. "It doesn't. It sounds like your boyfriend." Cuddy inclined her head to concede the point. "I knew things would be different with James this time. I knew that I would have House to contend with, and I... accepted that. I thought I had." Sam frowned deeply, every wrinkle on her face becoming prominent. "But he's different now. Obviously. He doesn't trust me so... I guess that's it."

"You broke up with him?" At that point, Cuddy thought it was a safe assumption to make but asked anyway.

"He asked me to marry him even though he thinks I'm a liar. How am I supposed to be with someone who values his best friend's opinion over what I say?"

There was nothing Cuddy could say to that. Although her problems with House were different, it didn't seem like it at that moment. If anything the opposite seemed to be true right then and there, as she listened to Sam vent about the lack of trust between her and Wilson. It seemed like they were having shades of the same argument, the line between their issues blurred. Wilson didn't want to believe his girlfriend, and that alone should have made Cuddy feel as though they were in completely different situations. She guessed it was possible that they were. But at that moment, she couldn't help but think that every problem in this room right now had one source:

House.

If he were more honest, if he could trust the goodness in others, things would be so different.

For everyone.

Most especially Cuddy herself... who had chosen to embark on a relationship with someone who was an unapologetic liar.

The bathroom no longer offering the respite she needed, she suggested suddenly, "Let's get drunk." It seemed to be the only logical solution, and Sam quickly agreed.

An hour later, they'd settled into a bar within walking distances of her home. House had driven, and Cuddy didn't feel like dealing with the inevitable hassle of calling a taxi after she'd become inebriated. Having abandoned champagne for mojitos for herself and Manhattans for Sam, both women agreed that the walk would be a pain in their dresses and heels. So too did they agree that any price paid was more than worth it if getting away from the wedding was the result.

As Sam finished her second drink, she said as much once more. "You have no idea how much better this is." She must have reconsidered that statement, because almost immediately she clarified, "Well, better than that wedding."

"You're lucky. You won't have to be around for the divorce and the wedding after that." Cuddy ran a finger around the lip of her glass. As she sat there, she began to suspect that what she'd said hadn't come out as neutral as she'd intended. A glance at Sam suggested she wasn't upset, but Cuddy didn't want the comment to be brought up later in anger. And given that they were both drinking and already irritated, it didn't seem out of the question that their camaraderie was only temporary.

Shaking her head, she said, "Sorry. I think the alcohol's putting me in an even worse mood if that's possible."

Sam looked at her with scrutiny. Although Cuddy had never had a fondness for any of Wilson's girlfriends or wives, she'd also never considered any of them stupid. As this moment was proving, Sam was no exception to that rule.

"Something happened with you and House."

There was no impulse to deny it. Since their fight, Cuddy hadn't said much to anyone about it. She hadn't told her sister, the person she would often vent to about House. Now that Cuddy was dating him, she didn't think it was wise to tell her sister about their problems. After all, it was going to be difficult enough for him to fit in with her family, should they get that far; she wasn't going to make it worse by giving her relatives a reason to dislike him. That just left Wilson, and with him the conversation had been one consisting of ways to force an apology from House. At no point had she just let out what she was feeling. And she wasn't sure if it was the liquor or the knowledge that she didn't care what Sam thought, but at that moment, she didn't think she could keep all of this to herself any longer.

"He lied to me about a patient," she confessed before taking a sip of her drink.

"That can't be the first time that's happened."

She shook her head. "No. I am well aware of his actions."

"But you were still surprised he –"

"No," she said, cutting Sam off. "I knew what I was getting into when I started dating him. I've known him since I was in college."

"Really?" Sam seemed surprised by that.

Cuddy nodded her head. "That long."

But the other woman's curiosity wasn't sated by that tidbit. "What was he like?"

"The same." She sighed. "Exactly the same. Of course, he was going to lie at some point. He can't help it. When he wants something, he'll do anything to have it." The explanation was naturally more for herself than it was for Sam. "I expected that to happen."

"Then –"

"I just want an apology. That's it. 'I'm sorry that I lied to you. I did what I felt was best for my patient, but I didn't mean to hurt you." That's all I want." The straw in her hand, Cuddy jabbed at the lime wedged between some ice in her glass. "But he won't say it, because he knows that he saved his patient. He was right. That's all that matters to him."

"I'm sure."

There were no words of reassurance offered, no condolences. Cuddy wasn't sure why she'd ever thought there would be. Like she'd said herself, she had gotten into this relationship knowing how House operated. She couldn't claim that she'd been duped into thinking honesty was his strong suit. She couldn't tell anyone that from the start of their relationship, there'd been an agreement that he would change.

There hadn't been.

Truth be told, if she'd said anything about his personality in those early days, it had been that she accepted him as he was. She'd never asked for change. Now she was beginning to suspect that he'd taken that to mean he had cart blanche to do whatever the hell he wanted without fear of consequence. Maybe that was her fault. Maybe she didn't deserve any sympathy.

"I should have made it more clear in the beginning I didn't want lies," she admitted slowly.

As she swallowed the rest of her drink, Sam disagreed. "No. That should have been obvious."

"Well, it's not – apparently." Cuddy set her glass down with a loud clunk. "He's been trying to prove that I approve of lying in relationships by trying to catch me in a lie."

"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."

"I know."

"I got engaged and broke up with my fiancé in two minutes, and what you're saying is still the dumbest thing I've ever heard, Lisa. Really."

"I know."

Sam looked down at their empty glasses. "We need more alcohol." After she motioned for the bartender to bring them another round, she turned her attention back to Cuddy. "Well, I'm assuming he caught you in a lie, or else you'd still be with him at the wedding."

"He did... I guess."

It was hard to consider it a lie when she believed she would have told him eventually. Her first marriage was something she didn't think about often, the event effectively blocked from her memory. As painful as it had been at the time, years had given her a sense of peace; she didn't look back and wonder; she didn't recall what had happened with hatred. It was merely something that had happened, something that had gone horribly wrong.

She hadn't told House, because it didn't seem like something he needed to know. Just as he didn't tell her about every prostitute he slept with, she didn't feel the need to explain every second of her past in detail. It wasn't a lie, because it wasn't something she was choosing to conceal from him.

Unlike his lie.

And though she had denied it tonight, again unlike his lie, she had planned on telling him the truth eventually. She would have told him about her marriage, because there was no real reason to hide it from him. If she'd chosen to lie to him tonight, it was because she didn't want a fight. She didn't want his curiosity.

She didn't want to explain.

Now that impulse seemed more trouble than it was worth.

"He figured out I was married a long time ago."

Sam looked confused. "And he's mad about –"

"No. He's not mad. He's elated. He found out something I never told him, which makes him right and gives him something to pick at for the rest of my life."

At that moment, the bartender began to set their drinks down. But oblivious to him, Cuddy couldn't help but blurt out the thought that was on her mind. "This is going to be ten times worse than when Wilson told him I had sex with my father's best friend." Both Sam and the bartender shot her a combined look of confusion and judgment. "He was attractive and polite" was her only attempt at a defense.

"So choosing bad men is a habit of yours," Sam said dryly.

"We can't all marry Wilson for a hobby."

"Good point."

The moment of tension dissipated, and they comfortably sat with another. Everything out on the table now, their drinks seemed to go down more quickly this round. Every once in a while, one of the women would voice a complaint, exasperatedly reveal something that had bothered them.

"We got in a fight over the dishwasher once."

"I'm not sure House knows what a dishwasher is."

It was cathartic, Cuddy thought, if not without its problems.

"'Leave early or else House will see you.' And then I see him naked anyway."

"Who?"

"House." Sam shuddered. "I could have gone many years – my whole life probably – without seeing that."

Cuddy crushed a piece of ice between her teeth. "Uh huh."

"I should have known better right then. If having sex with an ex means looking at that body in the morning –"

"And what exactly is wrong with House's body?"

"Nothing. It's fine. Not my type, but he's fine." It might have sounded as though Sam were backing down under the heat of Cuddy's harsh glare. That wasn't the case however. Her words were meant to mollify, nothing more. And then they didn't even do that, because she kept talking. "I mean he was a little small, you know, down –"

"He is not small."

"I don't know. He did say it was cold, but from what I could tell, there –"

"He's not small," Cuddy insisted.

"If you say so."

"I do. And I would know more than –"

"That's true."

There was a heated look between them. For a second, it seemed like they might actually get in a fight over this. But that possibility was promptly dashed when Cuddy thought of how smug House would be if he knew this argument were taking place. He wouldn't be happy that Sam was saying he was poorly endowed, admittedly, but he would cut that part out, ignore it until in his mind it no longer existed. Then he'd spend the rest of his days talking about how he once had two women, who he didn't even have to pay, fighting over his penis. Cuddy wasn't about to let that happen.

It was impossible to say whether Sam had similar thoughts. But whatever the reason, they both backed out of the conversation then as quickly as they'd gotten into it. There was no apology from Sam, and Cuddy didn't expect one. She also had no intention of offering her own, as she didn't believe she had done anything wrong. They just quietly drank and then eased into a different topic altogether. It was only afterwards, while they were walking back to her place, that they broached the subject once more.

"I don't know how you do it," Sam said in admiration. Reaching back, she pulled her hair free from its ponytail. Blond hair cascading down her back, she added as an aside, "I straightened my hair for this and now... no boyfriend."

"That's awful."

"Isn't it?"

They weren't drunk. Even though Cuddy stumbled along a crack in the sidewalk, she knew she wasn't at that point where she could call House to come over and fuck her and he could accept that she was saying those things because she was out-of-her-mind drunk. She could think clearly enough that she understood that that too would become something he held over her head if she gave into her desire for him.

"I have a boyfriend," she announced suddenly. "I have a boyfriend, and I look good –"

"You really do."

"And I'm still going to sleep alone tonight, so..." The end of the thought was too depressing to speak aloud. But in her head, she was forced to confront the reality: she was going to be alone; even though she had a boyfriend, she would still be denied sex. And she wasn't too drunk to ask for it and get away with asking for it, but she was definitely drunk enough to know that what she wanted more than anything right now was someone touching her, kissing her.

"You should have cut him off days ago," Sam said with a sternness that was almost comical.

"I did."

That was the sad truth, Cuddy thought. She had cut him off, and not even being denied sex had forced an apology from him.

Part of her was offended at the idea. Insecurity setting in briefly, it made her think momentarily that maybe he didn't enjoy sex with her enough to...

No, she thought abruptly. As always it had nothing to do with her. House was so focused on being right that he simply had no time for anything else. It wasn't that he didn't miss sex with her; he probably did. But he felt that what was important right now was outwitting her, proving to her that he had done nothing wrong. If sacrifices needed to be made, he was okay with that.

"Please." Sam's snort pulled Cuddy out of her thoughts. As they crossed the street, she gestured towards Cuddy's cleavage. "That's not cutting him off."

"No?"

"You're like walking sex."

Cuddy rolled her eyes. "That's kind of the point."

"You shouldn't even give him that much. He doesn't deserve it."

"No, he doesn't," she agreed, grabbing Sam by the wrist. They'd gotten to Cuddy's home, but having never been there, Sam didn't know that. And she too wasn't drunk enough to be free of responsibility for her own actions, but her delayed reaction meant she didn't see that Cuddy had stopped walking. "We're here."

"Oh. Really? That wasn't too far."

"No."

"'S probably a good thing. If you're dating House, a bar nearby sounds like a wise move."

"Well, that's why I moved here."

"Seriously?"

"No."

"Oh." Cuddy was reaching into her purse for her keys while Sam kept talking. "You know, we're both stupid."

"Are we? Why?"

"This whole dating men thing... I can't believe we haven't died out as a species if this is the crap we have to put up with." She was babbling, but Cuddy was only half listening anyway. Having dropped her keys, she was too busy picking them up and trying to find the ones that unlocked the front door to really care what was going on. "...But men. Man, they don't understand the importance of honesty, you know? I don't know. Maybe I'm a little drunk. No, I'm not drunk, but I just really think women don't need men. Or at least, I'm over it – James. God, they're so stupid."

"Agreed."

"Really?" Sam sounded touched, as though she didn't think Cuddy would ever agree with her. "That's so sweet."

"I guess. Look…."

She was about to explain that she was having trouble figuring out which keys were which, but she didn't have a chance. The second she turned away from the door, there was no way she could continue talking.

Sam was kissing her.

It took a second for Cuddy to realize what was happening. Her mind pausing at the sudden contact with an unfamiliar mouth, she did not kiss back. She didn't push Sam away either. She just stood there, keys dangling between her fingers, lips slightly parted in surprise.

Perhaps sensing her hesitation, Sam pulled away a little.

Cuddy started to ask, "What are you doing?"

But Sam instantly shushed her. "It's okay. You're beautiful."

She leaned in for another kiss. The fact that this was happening still hadn't sunk in for Cuddy. A tiny voice inside said that she should pull away or say no or do something, because to let this happen would be to betray House.

Yet she stayed exactly as she was. She didn't welcome the kiss, but she made no attempt to resist it either. A mouth hungrily on hers, awaking desire within her, was precisely what she'd wanted all evening. Though she had only imagined his body giving her that pleasure, she was not all that opposed to someone else in that second.

Inhibition waning, she kissed back. Mouth parted and wanting, she was ready to accept wherever this went.

But then right as Sam started to trace her lower lip with her tongue, a voice said in amusement, "Was not expecting that."

Immediately Cuddy pulled herself away from Sam, who looked both disappointed and irritated by the intrusion. For her part, Cuddy couldn't even begin to feel exasperated… or anything else.

She'd been caught by her boyfriend.

By a man who was far drunker than she or Sam were.

Not knowing how he was going to react, she didn't know how to behave. She didn't want a fight, not when it was clear he'd commiserated with Wilson over enough alcohol to fell a horse. But then thinking of what House had done, she didn't exactly care if they did get into a disagreement. Ambivalent, she let him make the first move.

"Thought I'd come over since you seemed in desperate need of a booty call," he explained, swaying a little back and forth.

"Desperate?" she questioned.

"I didn't realize another booty had answered the call." He turned his focus on Sam. "I'm assuming if you're making out with my girlfriend, you're not going to forgive Wilson."

Sam looked as though the last thing she wanted to do was talk about it. "I don't expect you to understand." She shook her head. "But there's nothing we can do to fix it. If I thought there were, I would try. But I know where this relationship is headed, because he doesn't trust me. So like I said, there's nothing we can do. He'll get over it."

"And you're getting over it by doing –"

"No one is doing anything," Cuddy interrupted tiredly.

"Not anything," he said. Frustration over her choice of words was apparent in each syllable. "You."

Stepping forward, he took her keys from her. He only needed a few seconds to open the door despite being drunk. As Sam tried to step inside, he turned his attention back to her once more. "You're free to answer that question anytime you like, by the way."

"Honestly, I don't know how to respond to the question. Would you be more upset that I hurt James or that I could have had sex with your girlfriend?"

Cuddy was about to object. She might have had a few drinks, but she was not so intoxicated as to be pliable to anyone else's desires. Kissing Sam, she'd come to enjoy it, and she couldn't say for sure now that she would have stopped things from continuing as they were. But the way Sam and House were talking, it almost sounded as though both assumed Cuddy would have absolutely had sex with her. It was a foregone conclusion in their minds.

She didn't have a chance to say anything though, because House beat her to the response.

Ushering the women inside, he said, "Oh, that? I don't care if you have sex with her."

"Excuse me?" Cuddy hissed.

He shut the door behind him calmly. If he were scared by her tone of voice, it didn't show. There was of course the possibility that alcohol had suppressed any sense of self-preservation. That didn't sound right though. Guard was never something he had to work for. It would take more than a night of drinking with Wilson or the shock of seeing her kiss another woman to change that.

Hadn't this argument proven as much?

All she wanted was for him to acknowledge that he had done something hurtful to her. That, even if he was right to save his patient, even though he couldn't say that he would never do it again, he felt bad for embarrassing her in front of her staff and for making her feel awful. But to say any of those things would be to admit that he had been wrong. And for a man who clung to being right, that was something he could not do. It would require him to let her see something vulnerable within him, and he didn't trust her enough to do that.

Not this time anyway.

So if he were undeterred by her ire, she thought then that it was probably because he couldn't even begin to let himself care about how any of this made her feel. If he did, he would want to say he was sorry; she had to believe that.

But if she wanted to think there was some goodness in him, he was doing his best to prove otherwise.

"Sorry." Under the circumstances, his sarcasm was even less appreciated than usual. "Don't care. Well all right that's a lie. I strongly approve of you fingering the fish, even if the fish is some –"

"If we could avoid referring to my vagina as fish, any kind of fish, I'd be really happy with that," Sam interjected. "And I have no interest in hurting James."

House wasn't convinced. "Then why –"

"Because she's a beautiful woman. I just broke up with my ex-husband who thinks I'm a liar, and I want to have some fun – not to hurt him but just so that I can end the night enjoying myself. Although," she said, cocking her head to the side. "Now that I know that it might actually be turning you on, my own enjoyment is in question."

"If it takes that little to make you reconsider, clearly you don't see how hot she really is."

Cuddy was sure he thought he was being flattering. The way he was looking at her, he not only meant for his words to be complimentary, but he also expected her to… thank him for it? Oh, he was out of his mind.

"If you two are going to fight, you can do it some place else. Like outside," she told them tiredly. "Or your apartment. Or –"

"We're not fighting," he insisted.

"Yet." Sick of the shoes pinching her feet, she reached down and started to take them off.

"No need to fight. I just want to be clear," he explained.

But she wasn't really listening to him. The momentary thrill of kissing Sam gone, she no longer cared how that conversation went. The evening for her seemed over, and so she decided to retreat towards the living room. Unfortunately House and Sam seemed to follow her.

"Clear about what?" Sam asked.

"That this is it. With Wilson." The tone of his voice left no doubt that he was being serious, Cuddy thought with a pang of jealousy.

House's friendship was clearly different than the relationship he had with her but still. He was protective of Wilson in a way that he wasn't – or at least wasn't going to be tonight – with her. The idea of Sam going back to Wilson bothered House, it would seem. But seeing the same woman make out with his girlfriend didn't?

"You're ridiculous," she muttered quietly, as she went about turning on the lights in the room.

House ignored the remark – or perhaps he didn't hear her at all. Either way, as soon as she allowed even a hint of her agitation to show, she regretted it. She didn't want to get into that conversation in front of Sam. If she worried that House could never truly love her because he would always consider putting Wilson above their relationship, Cuddy didn't think that was something Sam needed to know. And if House were ignoring what she'd said, maybe that was for the best.

For that reason, when he kept his attention on the other woman, she didn't fight him.

"You said you wouldn't be able to move past what happened tonight."

Sam sat down on Cuddy's couch. Face briefly buried in her hands, it took her a moment to say, "Yeah. I meant it."

"Then don't talk yourself out of it. You want him back right now? Then go be with him. But if you're not sure or if your gut feeling is to break up with him, that has to be it. For his sake."

"I agree."

Cuddy knew that that would never be enough for House. He wouldn't be able to take Sam's word for it. She wasn't surprised he didn't leave it at that.

"You let him talk you back into this, I'll tell him I saw you kiss someone else," he threatened.

Cuddy did not appreciate that. "You're not going to tell him anything."

He rolled his eyes, annoyed. "Don't worry," he said, plopping down on the couch. As he lifted his bad leg with his hands to place his foot on her coffee table, he told her, "I won't tell him it was you. I'll just say that it was someone."

"That makes it sound like it was you," she pointed out.

"But he knows I can't stand Sam, so he'll never think it was me."

"But," she disagreed, quickly reaching down to shove his dirty shoes off the furniture. "That will make him think you're lying. It will make him want a name or proof –"

"And if she really doesn't think things will work out, she'll give it to him," he said with a shrug. "That's all I ask: that you leave him with absolutely no hope that this will work out. Because if you give him any hint that you'll forgive him, he won't let you go. He will chase you."

Sam looked down at her hands. "I know."

"Then we're on the same page."

She nodded her head. "We are."

"Wonderful," Cuddy said sarcastically.

"It is," House agreed, tugging her onto the couch next to him. As she sat, he told her, "Now you can continue making out with her."

The remark pushed her over the edge. She'd been fed up with him for a while, but the crude implication of his words was enough to send her head long into enraged territory. "Oh, can I? Do I have your permission? Because I'm pretty sure absolutely none of that was for you."

He was obviously not convinced. She had argued with him enough times to know when she'd gotten through to him and when she hadn't. Simply asserting the truth was never sufficient. He needed proof and lots of it. There could be no holes in her argument, not even the slightest bit of room for him to doubt. If there were, he never believed her. For that reason, she wasn't surprised he disagreed with her now.

"I don't know about that. Far as I can tell, you're pretty strictly dickly." He leaned closer to her. "I would know, right? Just like you would know that I would know you wanted sex tonight."

"I didn't –"

"Please. We both know why you were so fond of the champagne fountain. You wanted to get a little drunk and then let yourself have a little fun." Given that it was the truth, she didn't bother fighting the point; he wouldn't have let her get away with the lie anyway. Or he would use the lie as another reason to refrain from apologizing, and she was determined not to let that happen.

"Then we fought," he continued. "You left the party with her. You knew though that I was gonna come over later."

"So I did what exactly? Planned on leaving the bar with her at just the right time so you'd interrupt us?"

That was far fetched, even for him.

"If you'd left earlier, I would have walked in at a different stage. Later, and you would have kissed her the second you saw me. It all amounts to the same thing."

"You don't honestly believe that," Sam said with a smirk.

But Cuddy knew better. "Unfortunately he does. He's that arrogant."

"Yup." He puffed out his chest as though it were a compliment. "You're free to continue by the way." He gestured towards Sam as though the other woman were an open invitation. "You can let me know when you'd like me to step in."

"This isn't for you." Cuddy's voice was barely above a whisper, but there was no missing the anger in her words and tone.

"And she doesn't need you to step in," Sam added.

Still he didn't believe them. "Like I said, strictly dickly. As much as Wilson's told me about your mouth and its considerable skill, there are simply places your tongue can't reach."

The bait was obvious.

Cuddy didn't know about Sam, but she knew that she herself could see what House was trying to do. He wanted her to have sex with another woman. No, she thought; that wasn't precise enough. He would be left unsatisfied if he were left here while they went into the bedroom. He would need to watch – no, not watch. He would want to participate.

Of course he'd like that. Arrogant as it made her sound, she was hard pressed to think of a straight man who wouldn't want to be stuck in a bed with her or Sam. But his ordinariness offered no forgiveness or understanding from her. He was being so blatant, trying to goad her into giving him that fantasy, trying to challenge them into having sex. And for that reason, it wasn't going to work.

If she were going to do this, it wasn't going to be for him. If she had sex with another woman, it would not be for his benefit. It wouldn't have anything to do with him at all.

"That's not going to work," she said with a smirk. "You're not going to manipulate us into –"

"Not trying to manipulate. Just telling the truth."

Sam was quick to point out, "Except it's not the truth."

"If you say so," he said doubtfully.

"House." Cuddy's head was beginning to pound from the constant agitation he was providing. Decades into their relationship, she'd thought she'd gotten used to his continual provocations. At least, the frequency of her migraines had reduced once she'd accepted that he would always be a jackass. But right now her tolerance seemed non-existent. And she had no difficulty understanding why.

He was being unbearable.

And if he was going to be unrepentant and selfish and awful, then she saw no reason to rise above that. There was no point in her being mature, forgiving, or calm when he was doing his best to get a reaction from her. Part of her didn't want to give him the satisfaction of being annoyed and letting it show. He would absolutely see that as a victory. But at the same time, if she didn't fight back, he would take that as an even bigger win; knowing that she was pissed and that she wasn't going to challenge him, he would feel as though he'd been successful. And she wasn't about to let that happen.

Instantly she knew what needed to be done. Years ago, she would have needed time to consider a plan. These days ideas coalesced in her mind the second she needed them. As often as he had angered her, gotten the better of her, she had learned how to retaliate; he had taught her how to be better, and maybe things shouldn't have been like that, but she didn't care. Out of necessity, the result of some inexplicable draw, she had come to love the game.

She wouldn't back down now.

Standing up, she told him firmly, "You can stay on the couch, or you can leave." Then she turned to Sam. "You, come with me."

Sam stood up hesitantly but said nothing. House, on the other hand, voiced every concern he had. "What are you doing?"

"What you said I could," Cuddy replied easily.

"You're gonna have sex with her?"

"Yeah."

"You're going to have sex with her?" He was surprised, confused, doubtful. "No, you're not."

Cuddy broached the short distance between herself and the other woman. Hands reaching up, she slowly slipped her fingers through the long strands of blonde hair. In the back of her mind, she noted that Sam's locks were soft, lightly perfumed – the complete opposite of House's scratchy short hair that usually either smelled like soap or sweat.

Quickly, she pushed the thought of him out of her mind. If she thought of him, she wouldn't be able to do it.

Without hesitation, she then forced herself to kiss Sam once more. Eyes closed, she couldn't see the shocked look on House's face. But later on she would tell herself that there was no doubt he had been surprised. How could he not be? Her own amazement coiled in the pit of her stomach. Her heart raced with the forbiddenness of her mouth pressed against Sam's, against the very same lips Wilson had probably kissed this evening.

Best not to think of him either, she easily amended.

And that was easy. Sam had been taken off guard, but she was clearly a far more willing participant than Cuddy had been. Quickly enough Sam was flicking her tongue into Cuddy's mouth, and just as Cuddy started to moan, House interrupted.

"That's a nice show, girls," he said patronizingly, his voice irritating enough to break the kiss Cuddy had truly started to enjoy. "But anyone can kiss another woman. Kissing isn't sex."

"I know." Cuddy pretended to be sad as she continued, but it was hard to sound apologetic while smiling. "And I'm sure you have this idea that you can doubt me into having sex with her right in front of you, but that's not going to happen."

"I know," he said, echoing her words with far more irritation than she had displayed. "Which is why I said –"

"You don't understand. We're going to have sex." It was a statement that she'd expected to take Sam by surprise. But as she spoke, she could feel Sam's fingers coming to wrap around her waist. Palms pushed into her hipbones, it was clear that Sam was more than interested. "Sadly for you, you're going to stay here or leave, but either way, you're not going to participate."

He cocked his head to the side as if he couldn't quite get what her point was. "You're going to get your lady spelunking on, and that's supposed to make me upset?"

"I know you, House. You need to be the center of attention."

"You think?"

"I do," she insisted with a nod. "You don't believe I'll have sex with her without –"

"Oh I know you won't."

"Well, you're wrong." Looking at him, she could see that there was an inkling of doubt growing in his gaze. But this time it was not disbelief for her words and actions; that was nothing new. Instead, this was doubt for his own convictions. Her insistence was making him wonder just how far she would take this, just how far he'd pushed her. It was as she'd intended. "We're gonna go to the bedroom, and you're going to be stuck out here."

"No, you're not."

"I am."

"I am too," Sam supplied. "I'm going to enjoy making her come."

"That's not going to happen."

Cuddy smiled. "It is. And it's going to kill you to sit here and know –"

"I'll just walk in."

"I'll lock the door."

"Then I'll walk around to the side of the house and look in the windows."

She had an answer for that too. "Then I'll pull the drapes closed and lock the windows so you can't get in."

He had been beat. It was obvious to the both of them, though his mind no doubt raced for another option.

"That's not fair," he said eventually.

Cuddy grabbed Sam's hand. "No, what's not fair is that you can't admit that you were wrong. What's not fair is that you won't apologize for what you did but you'll never have any problem invading my privacy and then –"

"We're still on that fight?"

"What the hell do you think?"

He looked dismayed, as though he couldn't believe she was going to bring this up now, now when they had, in his opinion, far more important things to discuss.

Slowly, exhaling loudly, he said, "I'm not wrong to –"

"Don't care." At that moment she really didn't. "You want to watch, you apologize. If not... then too bad for you."

He blinked. "How did you turn drunkenly having sex with her into –"

"So apology then? Great."

She was quick to cut him off, admittedly. Tugging on Sam, Cuddy hurried down the hallway with her. And the entire time she knew she hadn't give him much of a chance to apologize. But she didn't think he deserved any longer.

He had had days to figure out how to say he was sorry. He had had so much time to realize that he'd done something wrong or at least accept that he would never manipulate his way out of an apology. Of course, she didn't doubt that he had discovered both truths already. He was too smart to actually believe he could avoid contrition. He was too calculating to not have the words well rehearsed and memorized in the back of his mind. She knew completely that he wasn't nearly as idiotic as he was allowing himself to be. He knew what he had to do, what he had to say. If he were reluctant, he was trying to see if she would back down. Or he was still so ambivalent about embarking on a relationship with her, he couldn't allow himself to do whatever was necessary to protect it.

Her teeth biting her lower lip, she was afraid it was the latter. And the second she shut the bedroom door behind Sam, that fear was something she could no longer contain.

"He's not going to apologize," she whispered. She didn't care if Sam heard or if House who was probably creeping down the hallway to listen got an earful either. But somehow she feared that saying it loudly would make it more true, and Cuddy wasn't ready for that.

As she locked the door, Sam tried to reassure her. Hands rubbing Cuddy's bare shoulders, Sam said, "He will. He doesn't want to admit he was wrong, but he will." She leaned down and pressed a kiss to Cuddy's neck. "The way you look right now? He's not going to want to let that go. Trust me."

Cuddy shrugged her off so that she could move away from the door. Rationally she knew she should thank Sam for the kind words. And on some level, she guessed that it was nice to hear another woman compliment her, more so with Sam because they had never really connected as friends. It was nice, she told herself. But it all just felt so... hollow.

Did she look good? Sure. Cuddy had been alive long enough to know what she had, to become comfortable with her body. And yet... that didn't make her feel any better when it came to this fight with House.

Obviously he was attracted to her. He had said as much (and demonstrated it) hundreds, maybe even thousands of times since they'd met. But it didn't make her feel good to know that he would only apologize because he wanted to have sex with her. She understood that she would be lucky to receive any kind of acknowledgment at all that he'd made a mistake. Whatever his motivation, it would never be easy for him to say he was sorry, and she should probably be grateful for whatever apology she ended up receiving. She got that. Hearing Sam say that he would give in to pretty much get into her pants though... it made Cuddy feel awful. It made her feel as though her relationship with him could never last if he were only interested in her body and his physical needs and not at all concerned with how he had made her feel emotionally.

"Right," she said bitterly, moving towards the bed. As she sat down, Sam approached her.

"He will apologize. I've tried to avoid spending time with him as much as possible, but from what I've gleaned, he –"

"Likes having sex with me. I know."

Sam sat down next to her, the mattress shifting under her weight. "I'm sure he will eventually feel bad for lying to you."

"Right."

"He's just stupid. He's going to need more time than others, because he's a selfish bastard."

It didn't exactly make Cuddy feel better, but at the moment, it was hard to want to defend him. "That's true."

"The second he thinks we've had sex, he'll be afraid that I might want to steal you from him too. And he'll apologize then."

The accuracy of Sam's words put a smile on Cuddy's face. If there was one thing she knew about her boyfriend, it was that he was like a little boy at times; he didn't like to share, didn't like it when someone else had something he didn't. If he didn't want it before, he suddenly did when someone else claimed it or even showed the slightest bit of interest in it.

Thinking that, she realized then why he had been so possessive of Wilson and anything but with her. House thought he had her. But that would surely change if she had sex with Sam. Even if he just thought they'd had sex, he would be jealous. Right?

He would be reluctant to acknowledge his feelings. She didn't think he would ever come right out and say that he couldn't handle anyone else showing her a little attention. She could work with that though. Because if he couldn't admit how he felt, then he would demonstrate his need in other ways. Perhaps he'd be desperate enough to apologize.

"You're right. He will."

Cuddy got the impression that Sam was relieved by her agreement. As though the possibility of having to convince her was too much to bear, Sam actually seemed pleased in that moment. And that belief was only furthered when she said, "Good. Because you shouldn't let him ruin your night when it's obvious he's just trying to buy time before he apologizes."

"Is that what you're doing?" Cuddy asked in a low voice. "Buying time before –"

"I apologize to James?"

"Before you forgive him or –"

"No," Sam said with an emphatic shake of her head. "I don't want an apology, and I'm not waiting for one." Cuddy must have given her a questioning look, because Sam freely explained, "Your thing with House is different. He's an idiot, but when's the last time he was in a relationship? How many times has he been in a relationship with you? He's an idiot," she repeated with disdain. "But he doesn't know better. Where as James should. But he doesn't."

"And you're not here hoping he'll try to –"

"I know what he'll try to do. I wish he wouldn't, but I know he will do his best to make me think that our problems can be fixed. If I go home now, he'll think I'm interested in working this out." Twisting the comforter beneath her hands, she accepted the truth in increments. Swallowing it whole seemed too much for her. "So I guess I am trying to avoid the inevitable."

"It's okay," Cuddy told her, both of them no doubt understanding that her response was pat at best. Instantly she regretted the words. She was getting along with her, Cuddy thought. Sam was being kind to her. Even though they were both going through their own problems, even though they'd never gotten along, Sam was being supportive. The least Cuddy could do was return the favor. "I'm the one pretending to cheat on my boyfriend in order to make him apologize, so I won't judge if you want to pretend with me to avoid Wilson."

Everything she was saying was ridiculous. Habit had made her awfully immune to the absurdity of her behavior when it came to House. But she was not so blind as to miss the new low they had clearly reached. She was painfully aware. And yet there was no embarrassment that came along with that understanding. Alcohol or exhaustion, possibly both, had left her pleasantly numb to her immature behavior. Feeling outside of her problems, she laughed a little.

"This is stupid," she confessed before lying back on the bed. Eyes closed, she could only feel the mattress dip with Sam's movements.

"It's not that bad."

The lie was as much a gift as everything else Sam had given her during this tentative, one-night-only friendship.

"Oh?"

"Sure."

Cuddy shook her head. "Faking having sex with someone else? No doubt he's huddled up against the door right now…." Her voice trailed off, the thought not needing an end.

"It could be worse."

"Yeah." She didn't believe that was possible, the sarcasm proving as much. Then again, maybe that wasn't true. "I guess we could actually be having sex," she muttered.

"Would that be so bad?"

Seconds hiccupped in her head. Time obviously carried on, Sam's question and questioning gaze pushing her for an answer. But Cuddy felt like her entire body was filled with emptiness. It had been a long day, and the softness of the bed beneath her had lulled her into a much-relished sense of peace. Although she understood Sam needed a response, the overwhelming need to bleed into the mattress, to disappear from this day, to forget it, bought her silence.

She didn't worry about that. Given what she was being propositioned to do, contemplation and the quiet it required seemed understandable. But the fact was Cuddy wasn't thinking about what she was being asked. She didn't consider whether it was right or wrong, what she wanted or not. She didn't care enough to do that.

Or maybe she just understood what she would think if she allowed her thoughts to form. If she gave herself enough time to judge, she would; fear would have her back out before she could even wonder if beginning was what she wanted. So she didn't let herself get that far. Her train of thought solely on how good her bed felt, she lazily answered, "No."

It was the permission Sam was looking for. A hand suddenly pressed to Cuddy's belly, Sam dragged her fingers along Cuddy's stomach to her hipbones before pausing. "It doesn't have to mean anything," she said, clearly not believing that Cuddy's acquiescence would last. Lips pressed to the top of her breast, long blonde hair tickling her arms, Sam told her, "We can just have a little fun together. One time only." Her breath was warm against her skin, but Cuddy felt her body shiver at the tiny whisper of air rushing over her with every syllable. "No one has to know."

"House will know."

Sam kissed her way to Cuddy's earlobe. Her body now curled up next to Cuddy, Sam reassured her in soft tones. "Who would believe him if he said anything? Besides, he wasn't exactly opposed to –"

"Because he doesn't think I'll go through with it."

"Somehow I don't think he'd hate you if you did."

Was that true? Following a thread of logic was an impossible task at that second. Every time she tried to pick up where she left off, she became confused with doubt. She'd start to think he wouldn't be an ass, because he'd let it get this far, and then wonder if that were true at all. He didn't believe she had it in her, and if she did, his mistake alone would drive him to agitation. He would be frustrated that he hadn't seen it, annoyed that she'd proven him wrong, and then he would take it out on her. Right? That made sense… she guessed. Maybe it would be the one thing that made him not apologize for what he'd done.

But then he was so reluctant to admit he'd behaved badly that any excuse to remain defiant would be welcome. If that were true (and it probably was), what was the point in trying to please him? She felt like an idiot for even thinking that she should behave like a good little girl; considering he couldn't even reciprocate and be a decent boyfriend, it felt stupid to worry about his feelings. Hurting her never stopped him. Why should she act any differently?

Because she wanted him to be different, she thought, her mind lurching into the opposite direction. Because if she did this out of anger, it wouldn't be fun. It would be about him, and he shouldn't have the kind of power that made her every choice about him. She didn't want to be the kind of woman who sought permission from her lover, especially not with House, when he would never be the type to look to her for the same.

But if she cut him out of the equation, she had to decide what it was that she wanted for herself. The strangeness of the situation obscured what might have been obvious another time. She had never had sex with another woman, never even dreamed of it. The path she had wanted to take (or at least was expected to take) had been laid out clearly for her from a young age. In all of her sexual fantasies, women had never played a part. She'd never considered it a possibility. And if she had, Sam certainly wouldn't have entered her mind in that way.

She was Wilson's girlfriend, ex-wife. She was competitive in a way Cuddy found off putting, openly ravenous for victory in a manner that made Cuddy self-conscious about that side of her own nature. It would have been a lie to say that Sam was worse than Amber had been or that her ambition matched the deceased's in any way. But so too were there similarities that Cuddy could not personally enjoy.

Unlike House, she would have never interfered in the minutiae of Wilson's relationships. Passing dalliances with concern might occur, but her dislike had been mostly just that: her own dislike.

Now though... alcohol was seducing her into comprehension. She could appreciate the soft, peach-tinted skin, the light wry smile almost always on Sam's face. Being the one Sam wanted, Cuddy could see the appeal in Sam's appetite for conquest. And she found then that she didn't mind being the object of such obvious want.

It should have scared her. But in Sam's almond-shaped eyes, the desire pulled from Cuddy the same feelings House could wrench from her. It seemed obvious then that years of being alone had truly affected her; because more than anything, more than the person desiring her themselves, what Cuddy wanted was to be wanted.

Sam was beautiful, technically speaking. No, not beautiful, Cuddy corrected; she was handsome. There was nothing subtle about her features, nothing delicately feminine. Curious green eyes and thick blonde hair that looked like it would withstand being pulled in the throes of passion, she was all sharp lines and toned muscle. Sleek and strong, she was powerful, both in presence and stature. Only her voice with its gentle lilt and sense of whimsy softened her natural jagged air, and Cuddy could understand her appeal to Wilson, because in that moment, Sam was pretty appealing to her as well.

House out of the equation, the mathematics became simple. If her needs had confused her before, she was now clearly in a state of subitism. As though her desires had clustered together in a simple formation, she could see, without having to think, exactly what it was she needed to do.

There was no warning that she would do it. She said nothing to indicate what her answer to Sam's proposition was. She didn't say anything at all. Lost in the newness of her predicament, Cuddy didn't know what words would even be right for such an occasion. Clueless she decided to go with what her body instinctively did. Giving herself over to her physical being entirely, she kept quiet and let herself be carried on this wave of impulse.

She turned onto her side abruptly. Through the mattress, she could feel Sam lean away from her. The sudden movement surprising her, Sam's first reaction was to back off.

Cuddy opened her eyes slowly. Their gazes meeting, the question between them was finally answered. There was no confusion or doubt, no concern for the man who was presumably in the other room. Selfishness created tunnel vision, and her focus had no intention of being divided.

Ache pulled her through her body, slowly dragging her to Sam's open, warm mouth. A kiss between them, and it felt like a swarm of hornets were fluttering throughout Cuddy, buzzing around her heart. Excitement made her pulse race. A tongue against her teeth, she felt alive with anticipation.

Her stomach clenched fully, nervousness and eagerness mixing together in a molten concoction that held the rest of her body captive. As though she were slowly climbing altitude in a roller coaster, she waited for the bottom to drop from her. Surely it would come; the moment would end.

But Sam's hands were warm against her waist. They were reassuring. Cuddy still didn't even like her that much, but in that moment, it was impossible not to trust her. Sam was too gentle to doubt, too sweet to fight. And that was something Cuddy had never thought she'd ever be able to say about Wilson's girlfriend. Here they were though.

Strangeness tinged her movements, hesitant at times, reluctant in off beat pauses that made Sam whisper, "It's okay."

It was. She believed that. But she could not erase the repeated thought: this was happening. She was kissing Sam. Her fingers were slipping beneath the straps of Sam's dress, nails lightly whispering against the soft skin there. Lying on their sides, face to face, they were doing this. And there was no regret, but it was hard to reconcile in her mind what was going on.

Sam's knee slipped between Cuddy's thighs. The material of their dresses rustled together loudly, the sound audible over the messy noise of their kissing. Knowing their window of opportunity was closing, the easy excuse of alcohol wearing off, they were – or at least she was – eager to further this along. The soft pressure on her vulva helped. Rocking her body lightly against Sam's knee, she had extra incentive to keep going.

Cuddy pulled away from Sam's kiss. Her mouth was soft and sweet, yes, the slight candy flavor of her lip gloss lingering on Cuddy's own lips and taste buds. But she hadn't come this far to stop at making out.

As her hands pushed the straps of Sam's dress down her body, Cuddy felt Sam's fingers clasping the zipper on her own dress. In a rush of silk and hands, it was difficult to strip. Kisses and caresses came at odd intervals. The zipper pulled an inch down, and there was a hand grabbing her ass. Sam's dress pushed beneath her breasts, and Cuddy made sure to have her mouth follow the trail the gown was taking.

Her face buried in Sam's cleavage, she kissed her, inhaled the cloying scent of her perfume. Mouth nipping at the lace of her bra, Cuddy tried not to focus on the hands pulling up the skirt of her dress. She tried not to notice fingertips slipping under the flimsy satin of her thong. But those small touches would not be denied her attention. Each stroke of a finger felt like a burn, the sensation so sharp and shocking that it almost hurt to want it as much as she did. Time around them seemed to melt under the heat of their bodies near one another.

Sweat pricked at her forehead, made her shut eyes see red stars behind her eyelids. The smell of sex seemed all encompassing, like a physical being in the bed with them. Impossible to ignore, the inevitability of their actions made her feel dizzy. Clothes disappeared in a blur, in heated silence that seemed to say everything – everything except the compliment to her ass that Sam offered when they'd managed to strip down to their underwear.

After the fact, Cuddy wouldn't remember the details of those moments before. Her disbelief made her mind hazy, and specifics slipped through her mind as easily as Sam's fingers slipped inside her.

"Oh," she cried out in surprise. Dresses strewn about the room, they were in their bras and panties, and rationally, this was where things were headed. But actually having it happen was different than knowing the moment would come. And as it actually occurred, as Sam slowly pumped her fingers, Cuddy felt her entire body clench with shock.

She was wet, thankfully. Penetration was not something she expected, but there was no pain, no discomfort, and certainly no effort on Sam's part to enter her. Still, Sam must have sensed that something was wrong. The surprise must have shown on Cuddy's face, because Sam stopped as quickly as she'd begun. Pulling her fingers out, she untangled her hand from Cuddy's panties.

"You okay?" she asked, concern Cuddy didn't know she possessed in the question.

Cuddy nodded her head. "Yeah." She felt silly leaving it at that, but she didn't know what else to say.

Sam reached up and stroked her cheek. "You don't have to do this."

"I want to."

The statement could have easily revealed hesitation should the emotion have been present. Yet in her voice, there was only earnestness, a full-hearted desire to have sex with Sam. No one would have been more surprised to discover that than Cuddy herself. But aware of just how much she wanted this, she didn't question the urge, no longer looked at it with suspicion or shock. She just thought: if this was what she wanted, she should give it to herself. There was no reason to deny herself, and to do so would naturally create regret. So she decided to go with it.

A sense of daring welling within, she said in an abrupt manner, "But I think we can do a little better than fingering with our underwear on." Sam nodded in agreement. They were acting like they were fifteen year olds who thought that if they kept something on, it didn't really count as sex. But unlike a teenager, Cuddy wanted it to count in every way imaginable. She certainly didn't want to go the night without seeing Sam naked. What she looked like beneath the black lace bra and panties, Cuddy wanted to see. "Take off your bra."

Sam slowly withdrew her hand from between Cuddy's thighs. Cuddy could feel her body long for the touch to last. Her skin savored the caress long after Sam's fingertips had stopped lingering along labia. But the disappointment she felt was relieved with knowing this wouldn't be the end. And the thrill of what was to come made it easy to forget about any temporary setbacks.

Impetuously Sam kissed her, enthusiasm practically humming from her skin. She wriggled as she reached behind her body to undo her bra clasp. Frantic with excitement, Cuddy was quick to take her own bra off, practically ripping through the material to be free of it.

She was rewarded for the act. As soon as her breasts were freed, Sam's hands were on them. Her palms were cool against Cuddy's chest, and Cuddy had to fight the urge to recoil under the frigid touch. The war only lasted a moment, the chill easily melting against the warmth of her breast and the heat created from the two women's connection. Then it was easy to stay where she was, to give herself over to Sam's hands.

A thumb lightly ran over Cuddy's nipple. It was little more than a gentle stroke, something to reassure her. But if it was meant to calm, all it did was make Cuddy feel frenzied. All day she had believed she would have sex tonight. She hadn't been naive enough to think that House would apologize (or maybe she had), but from the start, she'd begun her day with that assumption; there would be sex, even if nothing else changed. And because of that, it felt as though she had been putting off the inevitable for far too long. She'd been longing for sex, thinking about it... and still hadn't had it. Frustration reaching its zenith with one small move, Cuddy couldn't put it off for another second.

Carefully she began to move. Too fast, she thought, and she would make Sam think she was pushing her away. But there was no hesitation as she brought herself up, weight balanced on her hands. Palms pressed into the mattress, she allowed herself the momentary satisfaction of watching Sam. Across from Cuddy was a beautiful woman, half-naked, pale breasts and large pink nipples exposed, her hands on Cuddy's own chest.

As Sam began to tug at Cuddy's nipples, Cuddy shifted closer to her. There was no time for delicate acts; that wasn't what Cuddy was interested in. If she'd been accused of being dressed like sex, acting like she wanted it throughout the evening, then she was doing little to disprove that theory now.

Chin tucked to her chest, she batted Sam's hands away. She wanted full access to the breasts in front of her, and as soon as Sam's forearms had gotten out of the way, Cuddy leaned down. Mouth parted she ran her tongue along the curve of Sam's areola.

Instantly Sam's hands were in her hair. Fingers gripping the strands so tightly, it was impossible to miss what Sam wanted.

Cuddy was all too happy to oblige.

Lips spreading hotly, she quickly drew Sam's nipple into her mouth. Her tongue bobbed against Sam's stiffening nipple. And Cuddy gently began to suck at the tip, Sam cried out in pleasure.

The noise instantly had an effect on Cuddy. She would have never believed the sound of another woman moaning would make her wet, but that was precisely what was happening. Sam's desire was echoed in Cuddy's body now. That warm, heavy pull from within guiding her further into this, yes, she thought once more: she wanted this so badly.

With one last tug on Sam's nipple, Cuddy pulled away. But as soon as her mouth was free, Sam was guiding her head to the other breast. Once again, Cuddy was happy to give her what she wanted. Although Cuddy herself had never had nipples as sensitive as this, she could see that Sam very clearly enjoyed the feel of her lips and tongue on her flesh. And if the simple act of kissing and sucking could make her moan that loudly, Cuddy had every intention of continuing to do it.

In the back of her mind, she found herself thinking that it would be perfectly fine if House should hear the noise, if he should deduce that she was absolutely having sex with Sam right now. But that thought was promptly dismissed when Sam exhaled roughly into the air.

The raspy sound caught Cuddy's attention. Nipple still trapped between her tongue and the roof of her mouth, Cuddy cast her gaze upward. Sam's eyes were closed. Her lips were a violent pink, parted. Her cheeks were equally red, and shortly thereafter, the pleading came.

Cuddy was about to return to the first nipple when Sam started. "More. Touch me," she said with need apparent in the words.

Glancing at her, Cuddy got the feeling that they were of similar mind. They'd both been screwed over today. Going to a wedding and being surrounded by proclamations of love had lulled them into thinking that things could be okay. The problems that existed in their relationships could be conquered, the dragon slain if everyone just tried hard enough. There had been the promise of sex, perhaps not spoken in Sam's case. But the guarantee had been there nonetheless, the surrounding romance overpoweringly seductive. And in the end, they'd been hurt by the men who should have loved them – who did love them.

Just not enough to avoid hurting them.

But by the same token, this was not about revenge. She supposed she couldn't guarantee the same was true for Sam. For Cuddy herself though, this wasn't about hurting House. He'd driven her to this, teased her enough to make her want this as much as she did. And she was mad at him in general, but she couldn't resent him for that – not when she would reap all the rewards of that situation.

Lifting her head just a little, she made sure her words blew cool air on Sam's breast. "You don't have to tell me that. I have no intention of making you wait," she said, hands skimming Sam's sides.

Cuddy's thumbs hooked into the legs of Sam's underwear. Together they pulled her panties off, Sam lifting her ass off the bed to help Cuddy get the thong over Sam's hips and thighs.

Without thinking Cuddy tossed the underwear over the side of the bed. Absolutely, it would be more difficult for Sam to get dressed later on. She'd have to search for every article of clothing she'd had on her body, and that would make it harder for her to leave neatly and quickly. But setting things to the side delicately was an action Cuddy didn't have the patience or concentration for.

Sam was lying there in front of her. Pale thighs parted to reveal a tangle of blonde curls and her slick pussy. The sight was more attractive than Cuddy ever imagined possible. Brushing a strand of hair out of her face, Cuddy let the moment sink in. There was something deliciously torturous about not touching Sam's waiting body, about taking the view in without letting herself do anything about it.

But the appeal of that quickly wore off. The second Sam began to pinch her own nipples, any desire to savor the moment was gone.

Cuddy slipped a hand between Sam's warm thighs. The back of her index finger lazily stroked the coarse hair along Sam's labia. There was a need to rush things along, yes, a temptation to do so, but Cuddy didn't want the sex reflect that. This was only going to be a one-time thing. If she left Sam unsatisfied, that would be the one memory Sam took from all of this: that Cuddy was bad in bed. That was absolutely not going to happen.

Gingerly Cuddy ran a finger between Sam's slit, just lightly touching her clitoris. A soft complaint caught in the back of Sam's throat at the lack of contact. It was exactly what Cuddy wanted. Keeping Sam on edge, making her crave every step of the process, Cuddy knew what she was doing. She smiled to herself. With her eyes closed, there was no way Sam could see.

In tiny circles, Cuddy's index finger stroked Sam's clit. The method was one she'd practiced on herself for years, the act one Cuddy knew would work. There was something discombobulating about doing it to another woman, to see what she had done to get off for decades on someone else.

Cuddy closed her eyes to stop that feeling from spiraling into dizziness. She kissed Sam's stomach, laved over her hipbone with lips and tongue. Fingers crept toward Sam's wet hole. Without uttering a word, Cuddy eased a finger into her. Sam's hips bucked off the bed, her hot muscles clenching tightly.

Another finger pushed its way inside of her. Cuddy gave her a moment to get used to the feeling, for reality to set in for them both. Perhaps reality should have penetrated her hazy mind before, but with each step they took, Cuddy found it necessary to let it all sink in. As much as she could accept that this was happening, as much as each individual act easily became normal to her, the connective thread between each moment felt thin. Her mind cycling back around, she stumbled mentally over what she was doing. Not because it was wrong, not because she regretted it, but because she was so amazed that she could want this, that she could do this with Sam, and that it would turn both of them on as much as it obviously was.

The dampness around Cuddy's fingers and in her panties was proof of that.

And just like that, the confusion melted away. It would surely return, as it had so many times before, but in that second, Cuddy felt herself casting away any reluctance she might have possessed. Turning off that part of her mind, she focused on what she was doing.

Wanting to get Sam off, she started to pump her fingers in and out. Her pace was slow but sure, far more confident than Cuddy had felt seconds ago. Her neck stretched to pepper the underside of Sam's bare breasts with light kisses. Sam's fingers ran through her hair but did not grab.

Pulling away, Cuddy shifted once more. Slithering down the length of the mattress, she did her best to maintain the pressure of her thrusts. If she'd been willing to tease Sam before, that was the last thing she wanted to do now.

"Yes!" Sam cried when a third finger was added. Her wetness coated Cuddy's skin liberally. It seeped between the folds of her knuckles, clung to spaces between her fingers. Warm muscles around her, the vise tightening, it would only take a few more minutes before Sam came.

That fact made the heat spread within Cuddy. Her thong uncomfortably stuck to her slick folds, and she couldn't wait for Sam to do something. She had to be touched. The pulsating need inside of her had to have some outlet. Without it, she was sure she would physically burn right, melt into the bed from the fire within.

One handed she tried to pull her thong off. But that was taking too long, so she unceremoniously pushed her palm into the crotch of her underwear. Middle finger stroking her clit, she frantically tried to get herself as close to the edge as Sam was. Chances of that happening were small, but she was so turned on that it wasn't long before she was panting.

She pushed a couple fingers inside of herself and began to thrust in time to the motions her other hand was making. She was starting to sweat, panting. Her mouth descending on Sam's mound, Cuddy's tongue quickly found its way to Sam's clitoris. She teased the little bud with the tip, just the tiniest bit of Sam's juices making its way to her taste buds.

Sam was saltier than she expected but not unpleasant. Sweat from drinking mixed with her juices, but that somehow made it better; it just felt like her, as though her essence was right there for Cuddy to drink. Sam's taste was far less pungent than House's, and if Cuddy were being honest, this was just nicer overall. There was no need to suppress a gag reflex. There was no chance of her jaw hurting afterwards or her throat burning with the taste of semen. And while that would never stop her from the act, the absence of those things now was a nice change.

Her tongue lapped greedily at Sam's juices. Her fingers pumped in and out of the other woman and her own body. Sam was becoming increasingly loud. The closer she got, the more it seemed that House was destined to hear and know precisely what was happening. Hell, Sam was moaning so loudly the neighbors probably knew.

That just made Cuddy work harder, move faster. Her fingers spread inside Sam and herself to touch every centimeter she could. Her tongue laved over Sam's cunt, mouth kissing her sweet skin at uneven intervals.

And just as her own cries began making themselves known, Sam came in a heated moment that seemed to stop time altogether. Instantly Cuddy pulled her face away, wanting to see what was going on. The milliseconds it took to get that distance seemed to languidly pass by. The world hitched as Cuddy watched her orgasm noisily.

Sam's muscles seized her in a slick embrace. Nails scratching at the mattress pad, Sam rode the feeling out. Her hips bucked against Cuddy's hand, and Cuddy was grateful then that she'd pulled her face away. Someone would have gotten hurt otherwise.

It was a sobering thought. Realizing some need for control, she slowed the movement of her fingers, pulled them out of her vagina. She didn't want to come like this anyway, on her own hand while Sam recovered. But then Sam did seem to be taking an awful long time to relax once more. Cuddy reminded herself that that was a good sign; it meant she'd done a damn good job getting the other woman off. And yet… waiting for her to stop exhaling roughly and just lying there was difficult for Cuddy. Turned on she needed more.

Frustratingly enough, a long, painful pause made it seem unlikely that she would ever get what she wanted. But the second she gave into need, right as she started to finger herself once more, Sam grabbed her wrist.

"That's not how you want to come, baby."

Cuddy allowed her hand to be pulled out of her underwear. "No, it's not," she said darkly.

"Don't worry," Sam nearly purred. Her fingers still clasped around Cuddy's wrist, she pulled Cuddy's hand toward her. Sucking on the fingers that had been previously inside Cuddy, Sam licked off all of the fluid on Cuddy's skin. As she let the digits slip out of her mouth, she told her, "I promise you: I'm worth the wait."

There was no reason to doubt her.

At least, there wasn't until she said while nibbling on Cuddy's palm, "You know what would make this even hotter? Get House in here."

Cuddy allowed herself to be kissed. Internally though, she thought about the proposition before her. Would it be nice to include House? Of course. On her own, Sam would be more than enough at this point to get her off. But bringing House into the mix would drive Cuddy out of her mind with pleasure. Sam and House working together to get her off? Cuddy had a hard time seeing the downside in that… probably because she was too suspicious of Sam's motives to truly consider anything else.

Obviously Sam had grown to dislike House. She held him at least partially responsible for the demise of her relationship with Wilson, a relationship House had interfered in as much as possible since it had started. True, there had been a few occasions where the two had gotten along. But sporadic periods of ambivalence between them hardly meant that they should have sex.

Cuddy pulled away from Sam's mouth. "Why?" she asked suddenly.

"Why… would it be better if your boyfriend got involved?" Sam asked slowly. She didn't seem to understand. "I think if I have to explain that to you, you –"

"I know why I'd like him to join. What I can't figure out is why you would be interested."

She shrugged as though what they were discussing really wasn't that big of a deal. "Because it would be hot, like I said."

"But you aren't attracted to him."

"So?"

"You think his penis is small."

"Well I don't need it to get me off," she said with a smirk. "You already took care of that." She leaned forward and kissed her gently. Cuddy could feel the smile against her mouth. "And you've been kinder to me tonight than… I ever thought possible," she murmured against Cuddy's lips, every so often offering her a brief kiss. "You've listened to me all evening long."

"We needed to commiserate." The logic of the sentiment was infallible yet still managed to sound flat in her lusty tones.

"And this is my way of thanking you." Cuddy wasn't sure it was appreciation motivating Sam. Gratitude seemed too nice of an emotion for this group of people, especially when they were all drunk and miserable and fighting. A gift in the form of a threesome was twisted enough for them, but its inherent kindness didn't fit.

God. Cuddy had to fight the urge to roll her eyes. She sounded like House. She'd been cynical before, but dating him had made her even more so. Suspicion was not the byproduct she wanted from this relationship, and fearing that it might be, she was determined to behave differently. She would run in the opposite direction as quickly as she could go.

Still she had to ask, "That's your way of thanking me?"

"I know it sounds stupid," Sam admitted. "It is stupid when I put it like that. I just…. I want to be honest with you: this is never going to happen again."

"Of course it isn't."

"This is just a one time thing, one night that I'm going to allow myself to do whatever I want, because I've broken up with my ex-husband who I thought I would be with again for…." She sighed and didn't finish the thought. "I can do whatever I want. Maybe you feel differently, but I just thought that if you were willing to go as far as you have… why not go a step further?"

"You don't like him."

"That's why he's perfect. That's why you and I have been able to have sex. We both know there are no feelings involved, no friendship. When it's over, it's over, and we can go on with our lives with no one the wiser."

Her words seemed to make sense. Honestly they were probably accurate, as best as Cuddy could see. And yet… "You can't believe that that will still be true if House –"

"He has more of a reason to be quiet if he's involved, not less."

"If he's had a threesome, he's going to want to talk about that."

"Then I guess it's lucky for you he's spent time in a mental –"

"Don't."

"No one would believe that –"

"You don't know what you're talking about."

There was no room for discussion. Cuddy was making sure of that. Sam's point was obvious: no one would believe House if he were to say something; given his history, no one would even blink an eye if he started talking about how he'd had sex with two women at once. And if they did pay attention to him, they would assume he was back on the Vicodin, sick and hallucinating events that would never take place in reality.

Sam was using that possibility as a means to reassure. What she failed to take into consideration was that Cuddy loved him and she had seen him when he was ill. This was not a factoid she'd learned of after the fact. She had been there. She'd experienced the fear firsthand, watched with horror as the insanity breached his constant wish for secrecy. Whether he'd hallucinated her or not, whether he'd treated her terribly as a result or not, she could never look on that time with any emotional distance. She would certainly never be comfortable with others referring to that awful event flippantly. And any attempt Sam was making to comfort her was doomed to fail as a result.

Almost immediately Sam seemed to realize this, as she quickly backed off. "You're right," she said hastily. "I shouldn't have brought it up."

"No," Cuddy agreed. "You shouldn't."

Tension grew between them. The fact that they were not friends asserted itself, and gradually it seemed the night was going to end right then and there. How could they move on from this was the question they both faced, a question that went unanswered in Cuddy's mind.

But Sam was more resolved. "I'm sorry," she said out of obligation. "If you're not interested, that's fine. We can… keep going as we were. Or I can… leave if you want."

"No," Cuddy said quietly, honestly. As irritated as she was, she didn't want this to end yet. For all of Sam's mistakes, she had been right about one thing: this was going to be a singular event, something they'd both remember with fondness and absolutely no desire for a repeat scenario. Cuddy hadn't wished for any of this to happen. But now that she was neck deep in it, she found it hard to want to walk away.

Eventually, of course, things would have to end. She didn't want that to happen now though. She wanted to come – on Sam's tongue, on House's dick. Wrong as it was to even contemplate going forward, the alternative was less of an option.

There was nothing Sam could say that would make Cuddy want this more or less. The possibility of House's actions afterward couldn't deter her either. None of this had been Cuddy's idea, but this fantasy was now hers as much as it was Sam's. Nothing would stop her from seeing it through.

Immediately she stood up. "Stay here," she told Sam before turning toward the bedroom door.

Leaving she didn't bother to put any clothes on; her thong would suffice, and frankly the less dressed she was, the more likely it was that House would welcome the idea.

But her first thought when she saw him was that he wasn't going to be interested. She found him in the living room where she'd left him. Now though he was watching television and had a carton of milk in his hand. He looked just as drunk as before, eyes heavily lidded and gaze marginally unfocused. His suit coat was rumpled on the couch next to him; his hair was messy, as though he'd fallen asleep or tried to. He looked tired and uncomfortable. He did not seem to be in the mood for a threesome. At the same time though, he displayed none of the jealousy she'd anticipated.

"Are you okay?" she asked, a little worried.

His head turned in her direction. He clearly noticed her naked breasts but called no attention to it.

"Heartburn," he muttered before taking a sip of milk.

It was tempting to chastise him for not using a glass, but they were beyond niceties. He'd been lying to her without any remorse. He'd dug deeply into her past to prove a point without any concern for how she might feel to have her mistakes used against her. And she'd just had sex with another woman, an act that ensured that she was no better than he was. Additionally she was going to be the one trying to convince him to have a threesome. So all in all, it seemed silly to bring up the issue of a cup. They were just never going to be a couple that emphasized or exercised much politeness.

Part of her wishing otherwise, she was still tempted to say something. But she knew it wouldn't do any good. Instead, walking towards him, she admonished, "You shouldn't be drinking."

But he knew that. He was aware of the dangers of mixing alcohol and his medication. For that reason, the rehearsed response he gave her wasn't unexpected.

"He thought he was getting married, and he got dumped. Again. And," he added uncomfortably, his body shifting on the couch nervously. She felt the unhappy energy practically radiating off him as she sat down next to him. Her palm cradled against his upper stomach, he finished, "After the last one croaked too. If I didn't get him drunk, he was gonna kill himself. And if I didn't get drunk while listening to him blubber on about losing the love of his life, I would kill myself."

"That bad?" she asked gently.

"He's going to be unbearable. He'll want to do things. Museums, movies –"

"A friend who wants to go out and socialize? Imagine that."

He shot her a dirty look. "You think it's amusing now.

"I really don't."

"Well… in a week, when you want to out on a date and I can't –"

"Then we should make the most of tonight," she concluded. Granted this really wouldn't be an opportunity to spend time alone; having sex with another person involved pretty much excluded that. But she felt it wasn't worth mentioning that part right now.

"You're still mad at me."

"I am."

He squirmed about until his head was resting on her chest. As he rubbed his stubbled cheek against her skin, he pointed out, "You've just had sex with someone else, and I let you do it, and you're mad at me?" There was no real venom in the words. Even as he said it, he was obviously finding himself distracted by her breasts. Cupping one with his hands, he said, "Your boobs are perfect."

She smiled lightly. "Let's focus on that then."

"Your tits?" A drunken chuckle caught in the back of his throat. "Seems easy enough. And by 'easy enough,' I'm referring to my ability to concentrate on sex and not you – although the phrase would apply."

"Are you mad?"

He looked up at her, his eyes curious. "That you did Wilson's ex?" He shook his head. "No. It's a little pathetic, given whose muff you've been diving in, but I'm not mad. It's interesting."

"You're just making fun of me because you can."

"Obviously."

"You're not jealous."

"Of her? No. I get to tap this," he said, hand bobbing one of her breasts up and done. "Regularly. And of you? I'd never want to hit that, so no."

"So then you don't want to join us."

Immediately he pulled away. He looked at her as though he'd never seen her before. Shock contorted his features, making it less surprising when he said, "You've lost your mind."

She didn't bother to deny it. "Is that a no?"

"No. That's me wondering if you're all right."

"You're the one who was trying to trick me into –"

"I never expected you to do it. Or this." His eyes looked at her for some sign that she was all right.

"I'm fine."

He didn't believe her. "You're suggesting –"

"A threesome," she said calmly. "There's nothing wrong with that."

"Agreed. But you're kind of drunk, and you're pissed at me, and you've never said anything about having sex with another woman – with or without me involved too," he listed in a way best described as coolly logical.

"I'm not being manipulated."

In the back of her mind, she realized that, if she were being manipulated, she probably wasn't in a state to recognize that. But in order for that to happen, Sam would have to have outwitted her. That definitely was not the case.

"Not saying you are," he replied. "Just mentioning that this isn't normal for you."

"Yeah, unfortunately for you, I don't participate in threesomes regularly."

She was becoming frustrated, what she was saying a reflection of that. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate his feelings; it was nice to know that, in spite of everything he'd done, he still possessed a modicum of concern for her wellbeing. But what Cuddy hated was that he was questioning what she really did want. He could lie to her without any worries for how she would feel, but when it was something she'd enjoy, he became suspicious.

Tired of the fighting, the miscues, and banter, she decided to get to the crux of the argument. "Are you interested or not? Because if you're not, I'm going back to the bedroom."

"No need to get your panties in a wad. I –"

"Yes or no, House."

"Well, see now I don't know how to respond. Having sex with you and another woman is a fundamental yes situation. But Sam makes that kind of a no, so –"

"Yes or no."

He grimaced a little, perhaps sensing just how serious she was. For a moment, he seemed to contemplate his options and then – "Fine. If that's what you want –"

"It is," she said honestly.

"Okay."

The way he capitulated made her feel as though she'd pressured him into agreeing. Not wanting that at all, she felt sick at the idea that that might have happened.

"Are you sure? You're not just saying that –"

"I'm agreeing because you obviously want this," he said dismissively. "And I can't stand her, but she's hot –"

"You think she's attractive?" she interrupted, jealousy burning in the back of her throat.

He ignored her and kept talking. "Enough, and at the end of the day, it's sex with you and another woman, which is always good. Besides." His fingers roughly pinched one of her nipples. "With these hanging out, it's kind of hard to say no."

"You think she's attractive?" Cuddy wasn't going to move past that point until he answered.

He smirked, went to kiss her. She resisted. That just made him smile widely. "Are you jealous?" When she didn't answer, he said sarcastically, "This is going to be a great threesome." He obviously knew though that she wouldn't be satisfied without a response, so he added, "To answer your question, sure. Not my type, but seeing as how she has two breasts and a vagina and she's legal, I guess she's technically hot."

She toyed with the idea that this wouldn't work then. He wasn't saying anything awful, but it didn't exactly make her feel any better. Because in the end, he was admitting that a very tiny part of him was attracted to Sam, and Cuddy hated that. And if she hated that, how exactly could she have sex with both of them?

"I don't care about her," he said, reaching up and cupping her chin. His grip firm, he kissed her, not giving her a chance to turn away. "I want you. Watching you with her? Great, which is why I said yes. But you could throw her out and I'd be fine with that too. Actually, throw her out and –"

"That's not going to happen."

He might have been content to get rid of Sam, but she wasn't. This was something he could deny himself if he wanted, but Cuddy wasn't in the same position. She wanted this. If he were opposed, that would be one thing. Since that didn't seem to be the case, she had no reason to even consider making Sam leave.

"I never thought you'd be the one insisting on the threesome. Next thing I know you'll be wanting to add a hooker to the mix."

She shook her head. "No."

"No? So then you're the one attracted to her." There was no accusation, no jealousy. It was obvious that he would be okay if she said she was.

"This isn't about her."

He didn't believe her. "Obviously it is. If you just wanted to have sex with another woman and me, a prostitute –"

"Sam has less of a reason to talk than –"

"Hookers who talk don't generally get away with that. Pimps don't exactly –"

"And you wonder why I don't want to involve a prostitute," she said with disgust.

"Oh I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were clinging to your ideals while simultaneously indulging in every straight man's fantasy."

"This isn't about you."

"So you've said."

And then she understood: he wanted to know why. He couldn't just participate; he had to get it. So far he'd eliminated inebriation, the possibility that she'd been manipulated. But that wasn't an explanation. Exclusion of one theory was different than comprehension, and House being House, he couldn't move forward until he knew the logic behind the act. As always, the facts needed a reason behind their existence. Observation alone was not enough.

But they were at odds with their desires in that moment, him and her. He wanted to understand her motivation. She didn't. He wanted to look carefully at her behavior; she wanted to avoid that as best she could. Close examination of her choices might have made him feel better, but she didn't care why she was behaving this way. Maybe the desire for self-reflection would come at some point, but right now, she just wanted to have some fun.

"Can't we just do this?" she asked with a sigh. She sounded more tired than angry or frustrated. "You can dissect my motives afterwards."

"You don't want to think about what you're doing."

"I want to actually do it. I just want to forget our problems and have a little fun. Because that's what I deserve right now. If there's some deeper reason, surely you can figure that out later."

She found his patronizing concern still scrutinizing her for answers. He couldn't help it. His initial response to anything was to wonder why, and that wouldn't stop just because she wanted it to.

In increments, however, he seemed to understand his behavior wasn't appreciated; she wasn't mad, but he wasn't dumb enough, surely, to think that was all that mattered. He might have been motivated out of love for her, but if he overanalyzed this, ruined it for her, she would resent him for it. Not that that ever stopped him, she thought. But perhaps he realized he wasn't going to get anywhere without her cooperation. And she was too distracted with need to be much help right now.

So he gave in.

She could see him do it before he said anything. His body relaxed, stopped assessing her for tells and hints of an explanation. He just quit, though he would be back at it soon enough.

"All right," he said with mock frustration. "You win." The remark was aimed at her breasts, as though the body part had convinced him. "If I must have sex with another woman while you watch…."

He started to stand up, but she grabbed his hand roughly. "Let's get one thing straight," she told him, as she pulled him back down onto the couch. "You're not having sex with her."

He looked at her as though she were crazy. "Exactly how do you envision this going if –"

"Make out with her. Let her suck your dick. I don't care. But no penetration."

She was offering nothing more than simple declarations. Having been his boss for years, she was used to short sentences, orders demanding obedience, and the small zip of power uttering the words offered her. For this though she was unprepared. Talking like that about sex was something she hadn't experienced before, not like this. The occasional order for him to go harder or faster, to touch her clit, or spank her ass – she'd done that. But those had all been short moments in time, things moaned in the heat of sex and forgotten seconds later.

It had never been as powerful as this was.

Perhaps Sam had just worked her up that much. Whatever the cause, her words were making her warm all over but nowhere more so than between her legs. Her pussy tightened with promise, and her heart seemed to beat with begging.

For more.

For it to happen now.

She went with the feeling.

"Finger her if you want. If she lets you. But your dick doesn't go anywhere near that." The thrill of the language was making her wild with power and lust.

House looked just as maddened by her voice. One glance at his crotch, his pants forming a tent, and it was easy to see that he was enjoying this side of her as much as she was. His eyes blazed with desire, and there was no chance he would stop her now.

She went a step further, egged on by his approval. "When you come, you come in me," she nearly barked.

It was the last straw for him.

Abruptly he stood up, his actions frantic with need. He pushed her legs apart and grabbed at her thong. Part of her thought she didn't want to come like this. But she did nothing to stop him from pulling her underwear off. As he crouched over her, she welcomed his mouth on hers and his fingers roughly being shoved into her cunt.

She could have stopped him, should have if a threesome was the goal. Instead, she unbuttoned his shirt.

"You do want this," he said in a gravelly voice. He was pleased. But just as she pushed his button down off of him, he pulled away. "Come on."

She didn't need anything else from him. It was easy to get off the couch. Making it down the hallway, however, was considerably more difficult.

They couldn't keep their hands off one another. If he'd been feeling ill minutes ago, the possibility of sex had pulled him out of it. He hastily kicked off his shoes as they walked, his hands using her shoulders, breasts, hips, and ass to help him maintain his balance.

She palmed him through his pants – enough to make him grunt. But Cuddy made sure to keep him wanting. He didn't know it, but she couldn't forget what Sam had said earlier. The comments about the size of his dick were still in the forefront of her mind, and Cuddy wasn't going to do anything to encourage him to orgasm before it was time. Then again, even if he didn't have anything to prove, she wanted to ensure this would last.

Yet thoughts of prolonging the act left her the second they pushed through the bedroom door. House was behind her, grinding his erection against her bare ass. Sam was crouched on the bed, mouth and thighs parted and waiting. Suddenly then there was no consideration for making anything last. Cuddy just wanted to come.

With both of them.

Everyone seemed to be in agreement there. Words weren't spoken, but they all shared a look of understanding. They were going to have sex.

Nevertheless their first moves were tentative. House cautiously stepped further into the room. Sam silently reached out for her, and Cuddy went to her without a sound. As he watched on, they kissed, their breasts lightly touching.

In the quiet, Cuddy could hear the effect it was having on House. He was undoing his belt buckle, hurrying to strip himself of his pants and his socks. If he'd ever really been ambivalent, there was no confusion as to what he wanted now. It was obvious.

Sam pulled away from her and turned her attention toward him. She seemed satisfied by what she saw. Not too long ago, criticism about his body had come from her with ease, but that had just been talk. Cuddy could tell as much. Sam was attracted to him, her hand gesturing for him to come closer.

He did, and then he leaned over her. Their first kiss was an unsure one, as coldly assessing as a kiss could be. They were careful, quietly feeling one another out, perhaps to get a sense that this was something they could do.

Fearful it wasn't, Cuddy set out to prove that they could get past their distrust. Without uttering a word, she sat down on the bed once more. Next to Sam, she leaned over and pulled Sam's nipple into her mouth again. As she worked the soft flesh into a tight nub, she reached over for Sam's hand. Sam, who had begun to groan in pleasure, easily allowed her palm to be guided towards House's penis.

Cuddy manipulated Sam's hand to show her how he liked to be touched. But after a few seconds, that effort was unnecessary. House was hard, his cock straining toward Sam's fingers. He was breathing hard, the sound hushed only by Sam's mouth. There was no question he enjoyed her ministrations, which Cuddy found to be a relief.

She was working overtime to make both of them happy. They were deciding whether or not they were capable of doing this; she'd already understood that she could, and as such, she was determined to get the same answer from them.

Her thumb crept towards Sam's clit once more. But the second she touched her, Sam pulled away from House. Questioning Cuddy looked up, afraid of the rejection she might see.

But what she saw was Sam with a half-smile on her face. What she saw was Sam's fingers tucking into the band of House's shorts and slowly pushing them down. When his erection sprang free, Sam had no comment. If she were unimpressed (Cuddy knew she wasn't), she thankfully didn't let that show. She just reached out and began stroking his cock.

He let her, his eyes closing and one of his hands running through Cuddy's hair. But it was that contact with her that seemed to bring him out of the moment.

"Stop," he told Sam gently. With one final run of her thumb along the underside of his dick, she pulled away. "Unless I heard wrong, you already got yours."

She smiled. "Your girlfriend knows how to eat –"

"Of course she does." He was being matter of fact, nonchalant. "You don't get to be Dean of Medicine without great oral skills."

When Cuddy shot him a look of annoyance, he ran a hand along her back. And when that wasn't enough to soothe her irritation, he kissed her.

There was no hesitation on his part this time. He was gentle, his lips soft. But this was a kiss of apology, something that depended on their understanding of one another in order work. And it did work. Sam had to suss the situation out with him, because they had no baseline of comprehension between them. Cuddy, on the other hand, knew him. She could tell when he said things he didn't mean (like now), could feel thousands of I'm sorries with every minute motion of his lips and tongue. And she could forgive him for the slight, both of them understanding that, on this anyway, she'd never really been mad to begin with.

The kiss suddenly turned bittersweet. They both knew what the other was thinking, and sadly for the mood, they were thinking of their other problem – their real issue. It would take more than a kiss. That was what was in their heads. The fight had gone on for so long it would now require an apology and probably not just that anymore. It would require an I'm sorry and some change. At least, she suspected it would; having not received an apology or anything else, she couldn't really say what it would take.

They pulled apart further strained than they had been. But the unspoken agreement between them at that moment said the temporary solution was to ignore the fight. Doing Sam was more important.

"But unless I got it wrong," he said, leaping at the opportunity to finish his initial thought. "She hasn't come yet."

Sam didn't deny it. "You're right."

"So maybe you should focus on her. Or am I going to have to do all the work when it comes to getting her off?"

The question managed to set off a competition between them. Instantly all of their attention was focused on Cuddy. Sam's fingers were in her once more. House cupped her breasts and kissed her back. They took turns telling her what they were going to do, muttering encouragements throughout. They talked about how Sam thought she was beautiful, how she couldn't wait to taste her, how good it was that she was so wet and ready for both of them.

Cuddy basked in the attention. Sex with House had never left her wanting more, but she could see the benefits of having threesomes. Two sets of hands instead of one, two mouths – it was like nothing she'd ever experienced before.

His hands were on her shoulders, Sam's on her ankles. Before she even knew what was happening, they were laying her out on the bed. Her stomach knotted with anticipation. Sam started to lower her head, and Cuddy could only think over and over excitedly that this was about to happen.

House's mouth abruptly fitted over hers, she cried out into him when Sam's tongue first made contact. Sam's grip on her hips and his on her breasts were the only things that kept her relaxed on the mattress. Cuddy wanted to grind against them, wanted to move her pussy against Sam's eager mouth. But she didn't want a single thing to change about this moment. It was just too perfect.

Sam's breath was hot against her wet skin. Her tongue was darting in and out of Cuddy's body, and with each movement, Cuddy felt herself losing more control, more sense of herself.

House pulled away from her, replacing his mouth with his dick. Her lips were already parted. She'd had no trouble breathing through her nose, but need clamored in her body. There was nothing for her to do other than receive pleasure, and yet her body teemed with energy, begged for motion and purpose. Her fingers threaded through the bed sheets, and she was beginning to moan, and then in a blurred moment of confusion, she started to taste the salt of his skin and the bitterness of his precum.

He was above her, balls brushing against her hair. From the angle, it was going to be impossible for her to deep throat him without choking. And the way Sam was making her want to scream with pleasure, Cuddy understood there was no point in even trying to get him off. Or at least she would have if she were in the right mind for rational thought.

Since she wasn't, she sought out mindless pleasure to both give and receive. Her tongue darted out and swept across the head of his cock. He shifted on his feet, which moved his penis along her mouth. Every inch she could touch, she did, placing wet kisses along the vein lining his erection, nibbling lightly on his balls like he liked.

But the contact wasn't enough.

Sam pinched Cuddy's clit between two fingers, eliciting a scream she could no longer hold back. Her pussy clenched hard though she didn't come. It was as though her entire body had been shocked by the action, forced to tremble with want for Sam's tongue to lick and lap and conquer.

Cuddy wasn't left waiting for long.

Sam pinched her clit again, this time with a slight increase in force. Sam's tongue slipped between Cuddy's slick labia and into her pussy, and the full feeling of wet on wet sent Cuddy into a hard orgasm.

Her eyes were wide as she came. His cock and tiny, silver stars were all she saw as she broke apart. Heat ran through her like a crackle of lightning in water, and she felt tears bead at the corner of her vision.

It had happened, she thought, and the last seconds of release were filled with the relief that knowledge provided her.

They had done it, and there was no going back now.

She didn't want to.

They had done it, and all she wanted was to see this through to the end.

That made it easy for her body to be manipulated by them.

Sam crawled on the bed once more. Cuddy watched as she looked over to House, a silent plan forming between them. She didn't understand as Sam lay down on her back. Fingers tapping Cuddy's ankle, she didn't get it at first.

Then House pulled her up by the armpits. He was rough, insistent, which matched the way he told her, "Eat that."

By "that" he meant Sam.

If he'd spoken that way in any other situation, he would have been denied. Even when it came to sex, she preferred to be the one giving the orders instead of taking them. Certainly, Cuddy didn't relish being directed or controlled in front of anyone else. And he knew that, just as she knew he was behaving this way now because he could. She was too far gone to say no, too interested in doing what he wanted to care about how it might look to someone else. That she challenged him at all had far more to do with instinct than any sort of reluctance.

"Are you going to join us this time or would you prefer to jerk off in a corner?"

As he guided her over Sam's body, he said, "You'll know the answer to that in a minute."

It wasn't even entertaining banter. They were used to having conversations that led nowhere. Sometimes the verbal sparring was irritating, at others one of the funner aspects of their relationship. This was neither.

They were talking out of habit, clinging to something familiar, even as she was placing her knees on either side of Sam's head. It was pointless and stupid, but it was something they recognized, something to root them.

Sam didn't care either way, of course. Regardless of what they were doing, she seemed intent on having sex. Her nails scraped at Cuddy's side possessively and dug into her hips. Soon after Sam's mouth was on Cuddy's bare mound.

It was just what Cuddy needed to push her back into the moment.

She braced all of her weight on her forearms, which were on either side of Sam's hips. Instinctively she knew how House would take her, and she didn't want Sam to absorb all of the force from the powerful motion.

As Cuddy fitted her lips to Sam's clitoris, House pushed himself into Cuddy with one solid heft. Instantly she was full, his dick reaching every inch of her.

She gasped into Sam's flesh, the sensation prompting Sam to do the same thing to her.

The sensations were hitting Cuddy all at once, and her control was quickly slipping. Her first orgasm should have helped stave off this all-encompassing need for a little while, but it didn't. Nothing could have lessened the pleasure assaulting her senses at that moment.

House was pounding her, his dick moving inside and against her. His balls slapped her ass as he thrust in harsh motions. Sam's tongue was on her clitoris, laving the tiny bud in languid strokes that made Cuddy cry with each flicker of movement. And throughout this, there was the taste of Sam's pussy on her lips, the feel of the other woman's juices dribbling onto her chin.

Sweat and sex surrounded her. The sound of flesh against flesh filled her ears and the silence between her heart pounding. Ecstasy was all around her. It seeped into her skin, poured through her.

Sam swept her tongue along the length of Cuddy's cunt, down to House's penis. Cuddy knew that was the case, because House exclaimed at that second, "Yeah!"

Other sounds escaped him after that, but that was the only word that made any sense. And hearing him lose his mind was the last straw for Cuddy. She was being driven to the edge faster than she could bear.

Granted, there seemed to be something embarrassing about being the first of three to come, but there was no way she could hold off.

Desperate to make her lovers orgasm with her, she scrambled to replace her tongue with her fingers. Frantically she rubbed the little bundle of nerves, thrust into Sam's pussy. Her pace was as fast and hard as she could make it, her hand mimicking the speed with which House was fucking her.

She squeezed her muscles for him. She wanted to be so tight and wet and warm for him that he would never be satisfied with any other woman. She wanted him – them both to know that they would never have it as good with anyone else. And the chance that she'd wrecked them for other people was the thought that was her undoing. Fueled by possessiveness, she came with a sound that caught violently in the back of her throat.

Her body screwed House back, her hips circling to maximize her pleasure, theirs. Her being rocked on its own accord, her mind lost in a haze of need being satisfied. She might have screamed God, might have made her voice hoarse as she felt herself drown in waves of burning senselessness.

And then, as she thought it couldn't get any better, she was awash with them. Sam came on her fingers, voice muffled by House's balls. Her orgasm triggering his own, Cuddy felt him grab her ass painfully hard.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he grunted, spilling his semen inside of her.

As Cuddy had told him to.

She nearly came again at the thought. Her muscles twitched against his dick as if daring him to keep going.

But they'd all been drinking tonight.

They were all middle aged.

And what they had done had taken its toll.

Shortly after, Sam turned her head away from them first, a sign that she was done. Cuddy couldn't see it, of course, but she could feel the change going on beneath her. House must have as well, because he pulled away immediately.

Breathless he sat down on the bed next to them. As he helped Cuddy off of Sam, she thought she saw a little disappointment in his eyes. That was not surprising. After sex, he liked to stay inside of her, liked to hold her close for a few minutes – at least until their need to be close was superceded by something else. So she guessed it was to be expected that he didn't like being forced away from her before he was ready.

Or maybe, she thought as he lay back on the bed, he'd just thought this would continue on throughout the night. Cuddy couldn't blame him for that line of thinking; it had been more wishful than anything else, but she could understand the unspoken question in his mind: that was it?

Thinking much the same thing, Cuddy curled up against him on the bed. Her cheek resting on his chest, she closed her eyes. It had been a long day, and the alcohol wasn't helping her to stay awake. Exhausted she could only feel the mattress move as Sam got up.

She listened to Sam rummage through the room. The task of finding her clothing wasn't going to be an easy one, given the speed with which they'd stripped. But Cuddy had no energy in her to offer aid, nor did she say anything when House spoke up, "Where are you going?" He was suspicious.

"Home." Sam's underwear snapped as she slid it back on.

"Home?"

"I need to pack…. He won't be there, right?"

Cuddy opened her eyes to see how he would respond. If everyone had gotten along before, there was no reason why that would last. If she didn't keep an eye on them both, a fight would easily erupt.

Thankfully House's response was calm. "I doubt it. When I left him at the bar, he was getting hit on by –"

"House." Cuddy didn't want him to finish the sentence.

He didn't get it. "What? I'm not saying he went home with any of them. He won't."

"And you're sure?" Sam asked as she finished putting her bra on.

"You asking because you want him back?"

Sam rolled her eyes and reached for her dress. "I'm asking because I want to know if he'll be there when I move out."

"You should be fine," he said with a shrug. "He's not going to have sex. Unlike you, he thinks he still has a chance of getting back together. He'll be drunk enough to contemplate screwing someone else, but –"

"I should go then," Sam interrupted.

"Not so fast." The change in his demeanor made Cuddy roll away from him. There was an edge to his voice. When he was like that, he was dangerous, and she didn't want to be caught in the crossfire. "You did her. Now it's time for you to keep up your end of the bargain."

"Bargain?"

"Don't consider getting back together with him. You ended it, so be done with him."

"I don't plan on doing that. But if I change my mind, what exactly are you going to do, House?" She started to zip up her dress.

"I'll tell him you had sex with someone else," he threatened.

"No, you're not."

"You think? You sure?"

"We're not friends. James would assume you were lying, because I would never tell you I'd had sex with someone else or give you access to –"

"That's true, which is why he'd just assume I'd stalked to you."

"You'd stalk me while your girlfriend is angry? I don't think so," Sam pointed out. "James is a good man. He sees the best in you, and he would rather believe that you'd try to fix things with her than waste your time with me."

Cuddy didn't appreciate hearing her problems being used as part of a point. She liked even less knowing that Sam was right about Wilson. He would want to believe that House was busy fixing his own relationship… but he was wrong, Cuddy thought bitterly.

"If you push him hard enough," Sam continued. "You lose either way. He'll think you're lying, and your need to invent reasons for doubt will convince him that we should be together. You'll push him into my arms, which would put a strain on your relationship with him. Or he'd eventually believe you were telling the truth, and then he'd wonder how you'd known I'd had sex."

House started to laugh. It was clear he wasn't actually amused, the sound completely devoid of joy. "Oh, you're good. Putting your little mind to work. But I can assure you: Wilson will never think I had sex with you."

"But you did."

"Barely."

"It still counts."

"Maybe. Doesn't change anything."

"Maybe," she parroted. "But before you go down that road, I'd advise you to consider how this is going to end for you."

"Assuming you even consider getting back together," Cuddy interrupted finally.

This was not how she imagined her night ending. This certainly wasn't how she wanted things to end. And she resented them both for being so quick to return to the status quo. The fact that they were fighting over a hypothetical only amplified her agitation.

"You're fighting about something that may never actually happen."

Sam looked at her apologetically, perhaps understanding that Cuddy deserved better than this. "No fighting. Not anymore anyway, because I think we're clear."

"We are," House insisted.

"Good. Then I'll go."

"Feel free" was his sarcastic reply.

Cuddy didn't admonish him until after Sam had left. He'd earned the humiliation, but she had no interest in sparking another round of who knew Wilson best. Since any criticism would inevitably bait them both, she stayed silent until the front door had shut loudly.

Then she turned to him and said, "You couldn't just let her leave. You had to say something."

She was angrier than she should have been, more frustrated than she'd anticipated. He didn't seem to be surprised that though.

"That's not what you're mad about," he said knowingly. He shifted on the bed to face her more easily. "You're mad about –"

"I know what I'm angry about," she snapped.

The threesome had been a nice reprieve, but now that Sam was gone, reality was tunneling in – and fast. Fury returned quicker than Cuddy had expected. The betrayal, the disgust – it was all there, no longer buried beneath alcohol and desire and the self-awareness created from having a third party present.

"I want an apology," she demanded. "I deserve one."

He didn't deny it. For the first time, he wasn't arguing within seconds that lies were good, necessary. He wasn't telling her that, if the situation were reversed, she'd have done the same thing, that she had done the same thing with her marriage.

She wanted to believe that that was a sign of progress, but she didn't trust it.

She wasn't wrong to do so.

House abruptly sat up. "I forgot to put away the milk," he announced. There was something… cool about his tone, dutiful and detached.

In her marrow, she knew that he knew he was wrong. He didn't care about the milk. He just wanted a way out of the conversation. Knowing that he'd screwed up didn't translate into an instant apology, and she thought with disgust that it would be some time before it did.

By her estimation, he wouldn't come back to bed before she'd fallen asleep. He wouldn't leave, because he would be aware that this would be the closest they'd be for a while. Until he apologized, there would be no more nights together. This was his last chance. But he also clearly wasn't ready for or interested in having this discussion with her tonight.

Given how tired she was, she was willing to let him go. Part of her wanted to force the matter. Well, obviously, that was true. Her irritation was proof of that. But he would do everything he could right now to avoid the conversation. And she didn't have the energy to drag him into the conversation and then force him to see her point of view. As much as she wanted this to be over, she was resigned to going to sleep with this fight looming over them.

Considering how many nights lately she'd fallen asleep like that, it was quickly becoming their new normal.

Cuddy hated that.

Fed up, she made her position absolutely clear, so that there was no confusion as to what she wanted, how she felt. "I have to have one, House. We can't move on otherwise. I won't."

His gaze dropped to the ground. "I know" was all he could say before stepping into the dark hallway.

He knew.

She just wasn't sure anymore that he would ever be able to do anything about it.

The End