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when they are in bloom you would waste words

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Cuddy's pager beeped as she was shuffling through what seemed like an endless ream of paperwork. The message was from House: Consult in Exam 3. Succinct. Professional. Probably completely bogus. She sighed and pushed the papers back into a folder that was about to split along the seam. The problem with House was that he never let anything go, and unfortunately it was also one of the things that made him a successful doctor, because it made him something of a shitty employee, and a difficult friend. So House called and she went, secretly grateful for the respite from the thousand forms she had to fill out, most of which were about him, and she hoped he had a decent reason for paging her.

He was sitting on the exam table, kicking his feet a little, no one else in sight. "Lock the door," he said, nodding toward her, and she did. The blinds were drawn.

"So where's the patient?" she asked, folding her arms.

"Did I say patient?" he asked, tipping his head, falsely quizzical. "I thought I said consult." He hopped off the table, wincing a little. He was still walking without the cane, but she knew the pain was coming back. "I need your opinion on something."

"What?" she said, shifting back as he came toward her, threatening to reach for the doorknob. He put his body between her and the lock, a little smile on his face.

"It's your birthday." He looked down at her and he was too close but she couldn't step away. Gregory House, prickly as hell, but always willing to crowd into your personal space as long as it was his idea. He had a bizarre magnetism when he was like this, the low hypnotic voice and the breadth of his shoulders under the blazer.

"You need my opinion on whether or not it's my birthday?" she muttered. "You never remember my birthday."

"On the contrary," he said. "I always remember your birthday. I just generally choose not to humiliate you by announcing that another year has gone by since you were a squalling infant." He stepped even closer. "I need your opinion on which dinner reservation to cancel."

"You made dinner reservations?" She studied the skin of his throat above the neck of his t-shirt and fought the urge to flatten her hand over his chest, where she knew the muscles were, and a couple of scars she didn't have histories for. The hormone injections hadn't made her too moody, but they had made her much more sensitive to the surges of desire she felt in his presence. Things had been different between them since the fertility treatments and the ketamine coma. He was softer, flirtier, but she wasn't sure how he meant it or how much longer she could resist him if he carried on being tender.

"Wilson did," he said, and he was so near that she could hear the rumble of his voice under his ribs. "The Ferry House, The Frenchtown Inn, or La Fontana."

"You couldn't spring for La Bonne Auberge?" she asked helplessly, trying to say anything but thank you. He chuckled and touched her face with one fingertip.

"We're just lowly heads of department," he said. "Can't drop the big bucks on kissing up to the boss."

"Are you trying to tell me you didn't get me a gift? The one year you remember to remember my birthday?" She was fishing, she knew, trying to say anything to keep from looking at his eyes and seeing whether he was serious or not about being sweet. She ended up looking at his mouth instead and that was almost worse.

"I think your rabbi would have some strong words to say about your attachment to worldly things, Cuddy," he said, but gently, teasing. "However, I did get you something tangible. You can have it later."

"I'm really more interested in instant gratification these days," she said, bold, trying to diffuse the strange aching tension between them.

"Well," he said, "generally I hate to repeat gifts, but I might have something for you. You could call it the gift that keeps on giving."

"When did you give me a present before?" she asked, stepping away just enough to see his face without tipping her head all the way back. It was half a mistake: his eyes were laughing and her resolve began to melt.

"Your twenty-first?"

"I don't really have time for five games of pool and a pitcher of Stella right now," she muttered. "Although it was sweet."

"I meant the rest of the night," he said, and kissed her. The frisson of startled desire that ran through her really was like she was twenty-one again, hands in the pockets of her jacket against the beginning of the autumn chill and House leaning in unexpectedly, the warmth of his mouth against hers. Her arms were crossed still against his chest and he had put his hand on her lower back and she could feel it very warm in the chill of the exam room. Her mouth opened under his, remembering. By the time she realized she had to breathe, her hands were somehow on his face, and his arms had worked their way under her jacket.

"Greg," she said into his mouth, and tried to break the kiss, but she couldn't really, just caught her breath in a series of tiny glancing kisses and then saw the warmth in his eyes and kissed him again, deeply. He drew one hand out from under her jacket and cupped his palm over her head, tipping her head back gently.

"I think we should have kids together," he said. "The old-fashioned way. I'm really not into large nurses forcing me into exam rooms with a porn tape and then examining my output with an eye for volume. I think it's clear that I'm about quality over quantity. Also, I hear their selection of tapes is terrible."

For a long moment she couldn't say anything. Then, very fast in a low voice, she said, "If you are joking about this, so help me, I will get Wilson to kill you in untraceable ways."

He stroked her hair, looking into her eyes with that broken smile. "Happy birthday, Lise."

She wanted to cry, but instead she kissed him, running her hands all over his back. He groaned a little as she squeezed his ass through his jeans and the noise following the words was an incredible turnon. She could feel the damp heat building between her legs. "Please," she said, and they walked tangled together to the exam table. She pushed against the little foot support, knocking her shoes off, and he lifted her a bit and she was sitting on the end of the table with his hand under her skirt, working her panties down. She undid his pants and pushed them down with one calf hooked around him, lifting her hips so he could push her skirt up to her waist. He pushed her jacket off her shoulders and she let it fall to the table, shivering in her thin silk blouse. She parted her thighs for him and he pushed in with a glad sigh, pulling her hips forward so that she was almost off the table and he was leaning against it. She wasn't sure how many years it had been, but it was so familiar, the way they moved together, though it had been an infrequent thing in the past.

"Still fits," she murmured into his shoulder, and thought he flinched, but only for a second.

"Still does," he agreed, and shrugged off his blazer. She caught it, reaching under his arms, and laid it across the table behind her, arching her back just to watch his face. It should have been tawdry, both of them clothed in the exam room where anyone could rattle the doorknob in puzzlement, but it was oddly sweet and gentle. He moved slowly in her, dropping soft kisses over her face, not even enough pressure to smudge her makeup, though the scrape of his stubble would cause some damage. She tried to swallow a moan, but it leaked out the corners of her mouth.

"Shhh," he said, smiling, and canted one shoulder forward, and she buried her face in his neck. Her hips were at a good angle. She could feel his head rubbing inside her, and the growing intensity of his thrusts despite the steady slow rhythm of his movements. Her hips jerked almost without her approval and she couldn't think of the nerves activated, just the delicious friction between them. Soon he had his face against her neck as well, and she had set her teeth against the seam of his t-shirt trying to muffle her pleasure. The side of her throat was pressed to his and she could feel the vibrations of the groans he was attempting to stifle, and it moved her in a way she couldn't express. Her desire for him, his desire for her, their apparently joint desire for a child or at least his attempt to make it mutual, and their attempt to steal a few minutes for themselves, all put together in these muted sounds.

They had been in the exam room too long. People would wonder. The nurses would schedule something, or someone would come looking for one of them, and no one would believe it hadn't been years and years of secrets instead of just months of significant glances, and nothing like this since college. She dragged her head up over the growth of stubble on his cheek and put her lips to his ear. "Faster." He grunted and surged into her, nipping at her shoulder, and they would have the matching marks of hot mouths to cover with jackets. She was dissolving in his arms and she pushed her hand down between them, touching herself, outpacing his strangled noises of pleasure, one of his hands over her mouth so that she put her tongue out to lick the salt from his palm. She gave a sort of squeak as she came, a moan on the inhale, and bit his finger by accident. He kissed her and eased her back, laying her down on the table, one hand under her back as best as he could manage and the other holding her hips in place, and she watched his face as he moved in her, the contortions of desire and the gleam in his eyes as he looked at her. She watched him the moment he came and she could feel it too and he was watching her and it was impossibly intimate. He bit his lip against the rush of pleasure and leaned down over the table, forearms trembling.

"Fuck, Cuddy," he breathed. "I...."

"Shhh," she said. She was so limp it was an effort to purse her lips to make the word. It would count if he said it, even in this post-coital mental shutdown, but it would be too much for one day. She thought of the way he said her name instead, the sexy flat sound of it, and smiled at him. He grinned back, revealing those hidden dimples, and then she felt his thigh quiver against her.

"Your leg," she said, trying to sit up, a little alarmed that she'd let him do this.

"It's fine," he said, holding her down gently. "Lie still a minute." He pulled out of her with great reluctance and reached for his jeans, holding the waistband up enough that he could walk without stumbling, and she draped one arm over her forehead and watched his slightly uneven stride with a critical eye. He was going to limp all day, she thought, but no doubt he'd come up with a snappy comeback for his overzealous, gossipy team. He ran water in the sink, soaped himself briefly, rinsed, and dried before dampening a few paper towels and washing her tenderly, one hand kneading her thigh.

"We should probably shower," he murmured, giving her a hand to sit up. She still felt shaky, but he had to have it worse. He ran his thumb down her cheekbone and over her lips. "Too bad we can't do that together."

"Maybe later," she said. "After dinner. At The Ferry House. Not the showering, the dinner. Showering at my place." She didn't look at him, just in case he was about to refuse, but he laughed.

"I've wanted to try out that bed for months," he said. "I'll let Wilson know about the dinner plans. Not the other plans. Wouldn't want him butting in on my action."

"You're impossible," she said, her eyes bright.

"That's what you like best about me." He picked up her panties from the floor and offered them to her. "Want to leave first? I stashed my tv in the cabinet, so people will think I'm just in here doing what I always do. You might want to storm a little."

"I'm sure I'm mussed enough that I can pull off angry," she said, easing off the table and into her panties. There were going to be aches by the end of the afternoon. She should probably hit the gym for a quick half hour as soon as she could walk properly again. She kicked her shoes upright so that she could step into them and straightened her skirt. House held out her jacket for her as if he were a real gentleman. He was still watching her, with that little House smirk that she wanted to kiss away.

"Gorgeous," he said, and took her hand and kissed her fingers. "Now scoot. I'll see you later."

"You're not the boss of me," she argued, and flung open the door, and it was shaping up to be an excellent birthday.