House wandered into the PPTH cafeteria, where he saw Wilson, Chase, and Foreman huddled around a table, deep in conversation.
He limped over.
"What are you girls gossiping about?" he said.
"We're discussing the—" Chase started.
"Our Fantasy Football Teams," Wilson interrupted, shooting Chase a look.
House smirked at him.
"Quick thinking, Jimmy. Except it's March—and the football season is over. Also, 'exchanging ambrosia recipes' would've been a much more plausible reply." House folded his arms. "Spill it, girls: What are you really talking about?"
"A case," Foreman said quickly.
"Right, because whenever Chase starts talking about cases Wilson always cuts him off hastily with a lie while looking mortified."
Wilson rolled his eyes.
"We may as well tell him," he said in a defeated sort of way. "He's going to find out eventually." He turned to House. "If you must know, we're talking about tomorrow's PPTH gala."
"Triple dating?" House said. "How cute."
"We're all being auctioned off in the Charity Bachelor Auction," Chase said.
Now House's smirk turned into a full-fledged evil grin.
"I'm sorry. . . you're what?"
"You walk down a runway and single women bid on you for a date," Wilson said, shrinking into his seat. "It's for the cancer kids."
"And to think I wasn't going to go to the gala," House said.
"Please don't," Wilson said meekly.
"And how on earth did you get roped into this awesomely embarrassing event?"
"Cuddy asked us," Chase said, taking a bite of his sandwich.
House caught up to Cuddy as she was making her way to a board meeting.
"Why didn't you ask me to be a celebrity bachelor?" he said.
She looked at him, laughed derisively, and kept walking.
"I'm serious, Cuddy. I'm a doctor. I'm single. Unbelievably good looking. I'm the McDreamy of PPTH."
"But you're already in a committed relationship—with your own ego," Cuddy said, walking a little more quickly.
He caught up.
"Why'd you ask Chase, Foreman, and Wilson, but not me?"
"Cut the crap. House."
"We both know that you don't want to be auctioned off for charity. You're allergic to charity. And you would sooner attend a medical conference than stand on a stage and have horny middle aged women bid on you. You just want me to ask you to do it so you can say no. And I refuse to play along."
"You really think you have me figured out, don't you Cuddy?" he said, a tiny smile playing at his lips.
"I know I have you figured out."
They had arrived at the conference room door.
"But thanks for playing, House," Cuddy said, turning to enter.
Just then, Martha Tate, the assistant head of the board, strode by.
"Dr. Cuddy!" she said brightly. "I hope everything's in order for tomorrow night's auction."
"I'm all over it," Cuddy said.
"I certainly wouldn't want to leave any money on the table."
"Only on the blackjack table," Cuddy said, with a nervous laugh.
Martha turned to House, smiled flirtatiously.
"I look forward to watching the bidding on you, Dr. House. I'm sure PPTH's handsome star diagnostician will go for a pretty penny."
House smiled back at her in fake sort of way.
"Actually, I'd love to but I'm not going to—"
"Dr. House wouldn't miss it for the world!" Cuddy said brightly, cutting him off.
"Wonderful!" Martha said, pleased, heading inside.
House stared at Cuddy incredulously.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world?" he said.
"Hey, you said you wanted to be in the auction and now you are!" Cuddy said. "Congratulations House, you are officially Bachelor No 4."
Wilson, House, Chase, and Foreman—all clad in tuxedoes, peeked out from behind the curtain.
"Oh my God, they're like a pack of she-wolves in heat out there," Chase said.
"I'm in hell," House moaned.
"Don't worry House. The tux is black so no one can see you sweat," Wilson chuckled. The fact that House had somehow also gotten roped into the auction filled him with unmitigated glee.
A stage manager materialized beside them.
"Dr. James Wilson? You're up," he said, looking at a clipboard.
"I am?" Wilson blanched.
"Go get em Jimmy," House said. "Think 'blue steel.'"
"Shit," Wilson said. And he stumbled out from behind the curtain on stage, blinking at the audience.
"This is Doctor James Wilson, a 40 year old oncologist," the auctioneer intoned. "His hobbies include classical music, classic film noir, and antique shopping. His idea of a dream date is a 'Just a lazy Sunday afternoon with a wonderful woman, the day stretched out before us, and a copy of the Complete Works of Walt Whitman on the nightstand.'"
"Awwww," the crowd said collectively.
"Show us what you've got, Dr. Wilson!" the auctioneer said.
"What I've. . .got?" Wilson said.
"Show us your moves!"
"My. . .moves?"
"Dance for us!"
Wilson stared at the auctioneer, then stared back at the audience. Finally, he did a half-hearted little shimmy of his hips.
The audience screamed.
"I'll start the bidding at $500!" the auctioneer said.
"$500!" one woman said.
Ultimately, Wilson was sold for $1,400 to an overweight woman with a huge bosom and a wild head of frizzy, tomato-red hair.
He went backstage, looking a little shell-shocked.
"Walt Whitman?" House sneered. "You've never read a word of Walt Whitman in your life."
"It sounded romantic," Wilson admitted.
"I'm worried that woman might smother you," House said, looking at the lucky winner, who was still waving her bidding card triumphantly.
"I'm sure she's very. . .nurturing," Wilson said, skeptically.
Suddenly, a rather loud commotion erupted in the audience.
Turns out, Chase was on stage and a near fist fight had ensued between two competing bidders.
Finally, they were separated and the prettier of the two won Chase for $2500.
Chase came backstage, looking totally freaked out.
Now it was Foreman's turn.
"Take it off!" one woman in the crowd yelled, to everyone's delight.
Foreman took off his jacket and tie. Screams. Then he pretended to unbutton his shirt. More screams.
Finally, he flexed a muscle.
"Ohmygod, Foreman is taking them to the gun show," House groaned.
He was "sold" for $1,500.
"Next up," the auctioneer intoned, "Dr. Gregory House."
"Is it possible to get post traumatic stress before the trauma?" House asked.
"You'll do fine," Wilson said, straightening House's tie, and practically shoving him toward the stage. "Go get em tiger."
House limped onto the stage, looking miserable.
"This is Dr. Greg House, a 48 year old diagnostician. Hobbies include. . ." the auctioneer paused. "Um, collecting poisonous snakes, Monster Trucks, and the classic films of Jean Claude van Damme. His idea of a dream date is 'Watching you do his laundry, followed by dinner at Hooters.'"
A few boos came from the crowd.
"I'm pretty sure he's joking ladies," the auctioneer said. "Everyone loves a kidder, right? Shall we start the bidding at $300? Anyone? Anyone?"
A pause, then a pretty middle-aged woman, a Real Housewives of New Jersey type:
"Oh honey, I'll bid for Dr. Clint Eastwood anytime. $200!"
Then a super young woman—the daughter of a board member—giggled.
"Bad boys are hot!" she said, swinging her dirty blonde hair. "$500!"
"$600!" the middle aged woman said, glaring at her.
And back and forth they went, until the bidding had reached $2,000.
House smiled—half amused, half annoyed by the bidding war. He loved all this attention but his leg was beginning to cramp up.
"Do I hear $2,100?" the auctioneer said.
"2,1oo!" said the daughter.
"Do I hear 22?"
"Four thousand dollars!" came a female voice from the back of the room.
The room went silent.
The two bidders stared at each other, in a bit of shock.
"Too rich for my blood," said the middle aged woman.
"Daddy can I?" the daughter said. Her father shook his head sternly.
"I'm out," she said, putting down her bidding placard and pouting.
"Sold to the lovely surprise bidder in the back of the room," the auctioneer said. "What's your name, gorgeous?"
"Dr. Lisa Cuddy."
House caught up to Cuddy at the coat check area, where she was attempting to beat a hasty retreat.
When she saw him, she groaned a bit.
"Wow. Four thousand dollars," he gloated. "I'm touched, Cuddy."
"It's for charity," she said, giving her ticket to the coat check lady.
"Sure, Cuddy. And it had nothing to do with the fact that you couldn't stand seeing another woman have me, so you bought me for yourself."
"I make a donation to the hospital every year," Cuddy said huffily. "This was simply the most efficient way to make this year's donation."
"Wilson, Foreman, and Chase were also available," House pointed out.
"And you went last. I wanted to see how the bidding was going. . . "
"And then exceed the highest bid by $1,500," House said.
Cuddy looked at him.
"I could tell your leg was hurting, so I wanted to get it over with," she said.
That, temporarily at least, shut him up. (Cuddy was the only person in the whole room who could've possibly noticed that.)
Then he recovered.
"You know Cuddy…If you wanted to go on a date with me so badly," he said coyly. "All you had to do was ask nicely."
Cuddy watched the coats lurch slowly around the belt—would hers ever be found?—until her vintage Chanel swing coat was finally pulled out.
House took the coat, held it open for her.
"What's this? Gregory House being a gentleman?" Cuddy snorted. But she allowed him to put it on her.
"Just trying to give the lady what she paid for," House said. He tipped the coat check girl, then he leaned in, whispered hotly in Cuddy's ear, "Want a quick sample of the merchandise before you leave?"
"You're a pig," Cuddy said.
"A very high-class pig, apparently."
That Monday, at the end of the day, House limped into Cuddy's office. He was drinking the remains of a blue raspberry Big Gulp.
"Gregory House, reporting for Dream Date duty!" he said.
"What are you doing here, House?"
"What do you mean? You bought me fair and square. I'm here for our date."
Cuddy shook her head.
"We're not actually going on a date, House. It was a just a tax write-off."
"Okay, fine. No date. What else can I do for you? Any other way I can service you, Cuddy?"
"Too bad I didn't bid on Wilson," Cuddy said musingly. "At least he could've mowed my lawn."
She noticed House wince the tiniest bit at that—and felt bad.
"I'm sorry. Bad joke. Always remember House, the most important part of your anatomy works better than anyone else's."
Upon hearing that, House, who had just taken a sip of his Big Gulp, did an actual spit-take. Blue ice landed on Cuddy's carpet.
"I meant your brain," she said quickly.
"Oh," he coughed. Then he raised his eyebrows at her. "Another part of my anatomy works well, too: My hands. I give a mean massage. Back at Michigan they used to call me Greg 'Fingers' House."
"I'm pretty sure that's not why they called you that," Cuddy said dryly.
House smiled at her.
"What do you say?"
"Why not? Afraid that if I touch you, you won't be able to control yourself?"
"Yes, that's it exactly," she said.
"C'mon Cuddy. You won't let me buy you dinner. I can't mow your lawn as you so sensitively point out. Don't make me feel like the asshole who welched on his end of the bargain," House said.
Did she actually detect a note of sincerity in his voice?
She contemplated him.
"A massage, huh?" she said.
"You do look tense," he said.
"Just to be clear, there would be no happy ending involved," she said.
"The happy ending is for the massag-ee, not the massager," House said. "However, I will only provide a happy ending if you ask."
"Don't hold your breath," Cuddy said.
House looked at his watch.
"Your place? In an hour?"
Cuddy inhaled a bit.
"Okay," she said.
Something told her she was going to regret this.
An hour later, House arrived at Cuddy's house. Much to her surprise, he had managed to drag a massage table up her walkway. He had a duffel bag slung over his shoulder.
"Knead a lift?" he said, opening the table and dragging it into her living. "Get it? Knead with a k?"
"I got it."
They stared nervously at each other. House rubbed leg. Dragging that table had been no picnic.
"You might consider a glass of red wine, just for relaxation purposes," House said.
"I'm good," Cuddy said.
"I meant for me."
"Oh," she said. "Got it."
She went to her wine rack, pulled out a bottle of cab. As she opened it, House limped up to her stereo.
"May I?" he said.
"Knock yourself out," she said.
He pulled a CD out of his bag and put it on. Smooth jazz. Lots of saxophone. Sex music.
Cuddy poured two glasses of wine.
"Didn't want you to drink alone," she said, raising her glass. "To the most expensive massage I've ever gotten."
"So what's next?" she said.
"You get undressed," he said.
"Riiiiight," she said.
"Not entirely. There will be a sheet covering all your. . . good parts. You have had a massage before, right Cuddy?"
Cuddy took a swig of wine. Looked at him defiantly.
"I'll be right back," she said.
He watched her bedroom door hopefully.
When she re-emerged, she was wearing nothing but a towel.
"Hop on," he said, patting the table, trying to be professional.
She hopped on, flat on her stomach, still wearing the towel. He covered her lower half with a sheet.
"Ready to lose the towel?" he said.
"Yeah," she said softly. And he yanked it to the ground.
Now he was looking at her graceful bare back and the sides of her breasts, smooshed tantalizingly against the table. He tried not to stare. He had placed the sheet just low enough on her hips that at some angles, he could see the very top of her ass.
He pulled a bottle of massage oil out of his bag of tricks—it smelled vaguely of grapefruit—and began massaging her.
He started on her shoulders, then her neck, then moved his hands slowly down her back.
Damn, he hadn't been joking. His hands really did feel good.
Cuddy moaned a bit, involuntarily.
"Feel good?" he asked. He was kneading the middle of her back, working his hands luxuriously into her knots.
"Yes," she said.
His hands moved to her lower back, just to the edge of the sheet.
Her whole body was beginning to vibrate—and not in a "I'm getting a good massage" kind of way. Something about the music, his strong hands, the wine—she realized that she wanted him to remove the sheet, massage her ass, turn her over, massage her breasts.
She was trying to communicate with him telepathically.
It's okay to remove the sheet. It's okay to touch the good parts.
Instead he pounded on her back: The universal sign for "the massage is over."
"That's it?" she said, disappointed.
"Did you want anything else?" he said.
"No, I. . ."
She snapped out of it.
"No, thank you. That was great," she said, sitting up, wrapping herself in the sheet. "Best massage I ever got."
Which was true.
"I aim to please," he said.
Was she imagining it or was his face red? And was that a bottle of massage oil in his pocket or. . .?
House folded the table, got his CD, grabbed his bag.
"Goodnight Cuddy," he said.
A week later, he was back in her office.
"Ready for another massage?"
"I get another one?"
"Oh sure. That massage was good. But not $4,000 good."
Her mind flashed to the feel of his hands on her neck—to that tingly, warm sensation that had wafted throughout her entire body.
"8 o clock?" she said.
"Perfect," he said.
They repeated the routine. The music. The wine. The oil.
And once again, Cuddy felt an overwhelming urge to turn around, to give herself to him completely.
And once again: The pounded back. Massage over. Now she peered at him out of the corner of her eye. There was no doubt about the enormous bulge in his pants this time.
What was his game?
"Anything else?" he said.
"I, uh, guess not."
He stared at her.
"Anything else?" he repeated.
What was he driving at?
"I don't. . ."
"Say it, Cuddy," he whispered, with some urgency. "Say it."
And suddenly she knew. She closed her eyes.
"I want a happy ending," she whispered back.
"Thank God," he sighed.
With a quick stroke, he removed the sheet and she was naked. She heard him take a sharp breath. He began massaging her ass, taking his sweet time, lavishing as much attention on her ass as he had the rest of her body.
Then he gently turned her over.
"Oh fuuuuuck. . ." he said, almost to himself.
He poured oil on her breasts, began rubbing them in a circular motion. Then he leaned toward her, began to slowly lick off the oil, teasing her nipples with the tip of his tongue, finally mouthing her entire breast.
Mmmmm. Cuddy had a vague thought, Maybe his college nickname should've been Greg 'The Tongue' House.
His mouth then moved to her neck, then found her mouth.
The kiss was already a sex kiss—thick and hot. He kissed her some more—he could't stop kissing her. His hands were now roaming her body completely. His shirt had somehow been unbuttoned (maybe she had unbuttoned it?)—and when he leaned over her now, she could feel the hairs of his chest against her and his skin, sticky with sweat and desire. They both knew that neither could wait another moment.
"House, get inside me," she demanded.
"I can't climb up there," he whispered hoarsely.
And she got off the table, wrapped her legs around him, and they fell back on the rug.
"What's happier than a happy ending?" she mused afterwards. "Because this was that."
They were lying naked, side by side on the rug. The sheet was haphazardly, inadequately covering them both.
"The promise of a sequel," House said, idly kissing her shoulder.
"Ahhh," she said.
"Little know fact," House said, his mouth moving to her collar bone. "Each massage is $40. I still owe you 98 more."
"You don't say?" she said.
"I do say," he said.
Cuddy climbed on top of him.
"Best $4,000 I ever spent," she said.