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Friday 1st of June, 2007 - late afternoon
i am: hanging out in the kitchen
whatstheddx wrote in cuddys_house
"No offence," Wilson said, reaching for another fry from his plate, "but it's probably a combination of not just Cuddy being tired but I wouldn't be surprised if she's also seeing a little too much of you. Cabin House fever. You know how your charming presence rubs off on people."

Seated on the other side of the formica table in the cafe he and Wilson had decided to dine at for the night - one of their 'boys nights out' - House eyed Wilson while clutching his burger between his hands. Sauce dripped onto his plate, along with a couple of stray strands of shredded lettuce. He was unimpressed by Wilson's assessment, having confided in him over dinner what was going on between Cuddy and himself, but he also knew Wilson probably had a point. In fact, the thought that he and Cuddy were seeing too much of each other had already crossed his mind. Fatigue would only exacerbate that, too. It had been a few days since their somewhat horrendous day at home where Cuddy had lost the plot and he'd lost the plot even further.

He glanced down at the burger, then hunched over to take a large bite. "So, what are you suggesting?" he asked, his left cheek bulging out as he chewed. "I back off for a while? Pay only arranged visits to see Emma?"

Wilson was dabbing and dragging a small bunch of fries through a blob of ketchup he'd squirted on the edge of his plate. He shook his head. "Why do you always jump to the most extreme and ridiculous conclusion?"

"'Cabin House fever' doesn't exactly paint a quaint picture."

Wilson wiped his mouth with his napkin. "I was making a point."

"That point being?"

"That Cuddy needs a break. From you, from Emma. And she tired. Meaning, you should do something for her."

House thought about that for a moment. With nothing coming to mind, he asked, "Like what?"

Wilson gave a show of hands. "She's your girlfriend. You come up with something." He gave a quiet, exasperated sigh when House leaned in with a direct and prompting look on his face. "I don't know. Hire a babysitter. Take Cuddy out somewhere, somewhere she enjoys."

"As if Cuddy would leave Emma alone with a babysitter," House retorted.

Wilson couldn't deny House was wrong there. He shrugged. "You look after Emma, then. Let Cuddy go out for a day."

"She probably wouldn't want to do that, either. The kid is always permanently attached to some part of Cuddy's anatomy."

"Fine. Arrange something for Cuddy, so she has to go out. But make it something good, something special. Something she'd get something out of. Maybe as a token of appreciation for her on your part, as well."


"Like... something relaxing for her. A day spa, perhaps. A massage. A place where they do the whole pampering thing. You'd be giving her the best of both worlds then - relaxation and time away from you."

House turned his gaze away thoughtfully. That actually wasn't a bad idea, and one he hadn't even considered until right now. Cuddy had complained quite a few times of feeling bloated, fat, aching, a whole bunch of adjectives that he didn't agree with but there was no arguing a woman into common sense when she was convinced she looked as bad as she claimed she did. Setting his burger down, he reached across the table to snatch a few of Wilson's fries. "Every once in a while, you solve all my problems."

"Glad I could be of help. You have your own fries, by the way," Wilson replied impatiently.

House just shrugged and, feeling more relaxed now he had an idea in mind, smirked triumphantly as he popped the fries in his mouth.

* * *

It was heading for late afternoon when House pulled into Cuddy's driveway. He'd headed out earlier in the day to grab some groceries while Emma was down for a sleep, also to grab a few things from his apartment. He'd also done a bit of research into the local day spas around Princeton and came up trumps with a place that he was certain Cuddy would like.

The only thing that had had him hesitating was the number of packages and what the hell Cuddy would like most. Eventually, he'd settled on a gift certificate after the woman behind the desk had talked him through the different things the spa had to offer. It was an "essentials" package, which came with a facial, a Swedish massage, lunch, manicure and pedicure, and hair treatment - a full day at the spa and fully paid for once he handed over his credit card.

The gift certificate was tucked away in his jeans pocket while he carted the groceries into the kitchen and brought in a backpack of stuff from his apartment. Emma was awake; after giving her belly a rub and tickling her chin while she lay on the floor, happy and kicking, he went back to the kitchen to help Cuddy put the groceries away. "She sleep long?" he asked, gesturing for Cuddy to pass over a few items so he could put them away in the pantry.

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"Well..." House tried to come up with a reason why she might not want to. Then he realised two seconds later that he didn't want her to come up with a reason not to. "Yeah," he reasoned. Yeah, only if she wanted to, because he would never demand or force her. But he definitely wasn't going to discourage her, either.

His interest piqued further when she popped his jeans button undone. He swallowed and shifted to get comfortable, though was still trying not to make it too obvious that he was now growing eagerer by the second. His stomach flexed slightly at the light touch of her hand brushing against it as she unzipped his fly and he bit his bottom lip with a still attempted neutral expression.

Seemed he wasn't doing a very good job of trying to remain indifferent towards this sudden and very interesting turn of events. He wanted to scowl at Cuddy at her smug remark and amused expression. "What else would you expect me to be?" he replied in a pretend sarcastic tone.

Lifting his head a little from the pillow, he met her kiss, closing his eyes as she tugged him out and began caressing him. He even tried to keep his kisses restrained in effort to not give Cuddy the satisfaction of jeering at him. But he was quickly growing harder in her hand and it wasn't more than two minutes later before he broke the kiss to get more comfortable.

"Hold that thought," he told her as he lifted his ass from the bed and shimmied his jeans and boxers down to the middle of his thighs. There. Nothing was in the way now. Truly unable to hide his eagerness now, he gave a luxurious stretch as he lay back down, his mouth upturned into a small, though affectionate and bright eyed smile that he sometimes got when he was getting lucky.

Reaching for Cuddy, he drew her back to him and kissed her tenderly, then let out a happy sigh, dropping his head back to the pillow as her hand started slowly working its magic on his erection. "Think I'm beginning to warm to the whole keeping you company thing."

Edited at 2010-01-06 02:15 am (UTC)

"A guy," she replied when he asked what she expected him to be. Although she got annoyed with him and his typically male reaction to sex or breasts or women in general--especially other women--it was also reassuring to know that for all his genius and his eccentricities, he was very much a typical man. His feelings were just like everyone else's, at least in the that respect. It made it easier for her to understand at least this part of him.

"There's a surprise," she said dryly when he admitted he was enjoying this. When he shoved his pants down she couldn't help thinking, what a horn dog. Still, she was enjoying it, too. Although she had no particular interest in sex at the moment, she liked being the one who gave him pleasure. It was a feeling of power and she always enjoyed that.

She kept her fist wrapped around his penis, pumping him slowly and steadily. At the same time, she watched his face, noticing the small muscle twitches, the fluttering of his eyelids that indicated just how much he was warming to the idea. Once he became fully erect, she grasped him more firmly, increasing the pressure of her hand around him. After a moment, though, she released him with a softly voiced, "Just a sec."

She rolled to her side and reached for the drawer in the bedside table. It only took her a couple of seconds to find a small bottle of lubricant. She squirted a small amount in her palm and then rolled back to his side. She ran her palm up and down and around the length of his penis, spreading a thin layer of lube.

"Better, yes?" she asked, looking at him. She could grip him more firmly and pump more vigorously now without having to worry about taking the friction to a painful level. Her fist glided smoothly along his length and she began to add little twists at the head to increase the stimulation.

House propped his hands back under his head as Cuddy stroked him with a slow firmness that for the moment felt incredibly relaxing. He closed his eyes to focus on it, his breathing steady and easy. It was when she dialled the stimulation up a few notches that he really started to feel less relaxed and more aroused.

He bit his bottom lip in between taking in slightly quicker breaths, and his toes and feet restlessly flexed as a reaction of needing an outlet for the slow burning excitement building in him. Cuddy suddenly stopping yanked him out of his reverie, though he patiently waited while she'd rolled away to rummage through the drawers. With her back to him, he stretched a hand out to rub her back, a gentle and loving caress that was also a hint that he was eager to get on with the show.

When she returned to him, he tensed at first, at the coldness of the lubricant on his skin. It didn't take long at all for that to change to a wonderfully arousing sensation, though, as Cuddy rubbed and squeezed and resumed stroking him.

"Much better," he murmured lazily. Oh yeah, this was definitely much better, the way her hand glided in firm, faster strokes. He tried to relax so he could enjoy it for as long as he could but it wasn't long at all before he was squirming slightly with quicker breaths and small movements of his hips.

He turned his head towards her and opened his eyes. Tucking his arm around her, he rubbed her back and the back of her neck, small and encouraging massaging rubs, then lifted his other arm across to her to pull Cuddy into a kiss.

He sucked on her lips and slid a hand into her hair, holding her as close to him as he could. He wished he could pull her onto him, hold her tightly while he entered her because in some ways, as good as this felt it didn't feel like enough. He'd missed this kind of intimacy with Cuddy a lot.

"Faster," he murmured into her mouth before pressing another sucking kiss to her lips. He gasped quietly against them, his whole body now a little more rigid and restless.

It was just as well handjobs didn't require her full attention because House kept distracting her wanting kisses. She leaned on her free arm, pressed against his side so she could lower her head to capture his mouth. Or maybe he was capturing hers. This was one time when it didn't matter who was 'winning.'

She kept her hand moving steadily along his length although she varied the pace and pressure in an effort to find the right combination to increase his pleasure. Sometimes she lightened her grip until her hand was barely skimming the surface of his penis and rubbing her thumb in circles over the head. At the same time, she used her mouth to play with his, sucking at his lips and flicking her tongue over his lower lip when he gasped.

When he asked for more, she tightened her grip on him. She pumped him firmly, slowly increasing the pace that her fist was sliding up and down his length. She also slid her tongue sensuously along his, mimicking the stroke of her hand on his penis.

"Come for me," she murmured, pulling back just far enough to watch his face. "Show me how good it feels."

Each time Cuddy lightened her grip, it almost drove House insane with frustration. The kind of frustration where he was wanting constant momentum and any break in it was an interruption to his pleasure. Yet, each time she resumed holding him firmly, it was like relief and he squeezed his pelvic muscles to thrust gratefully into her hand.

He was getting less coordinated with the kisses, too, too distracted by his greediness for release. He managed to meet some of Cuddy's teasing kisses but was otherwise letting her take charge, his eyes closed and his lips parted. Pleasure was rapidly mounting like small waves within him, small but intense throbs of excitement pulsing through brief latent phases. He tightened his grip in her hair, clinging to her as she increased the rhythm. If she broke the momentum now, if she stopped or changed pace, he was going to be squirming with frustration.

He quietly panted against her mouth as her tongue teased along his. He pulled his hand from her hair and gripped her shoulder, his fingers digging in as the waves of pleasure grew steadily more intense. "Don't stop," he murmured in reply to her telling him to come.

He was so close now, right on the very brink between needing more and climax. He released her shoulder for a moment to fumble at his shirt, tugging it up to expose his stomach so semen wouldn't get on it. Then he returned to gripping her shoulder. His body stiffened everywhere and he gave a few frantic thrusts into her hand before his breathing suddenly changed to deep and helpless. Every muscle in his body felt like it was convulsing as the first spurts of semen shot out onto his stomach. His face twisted into an open mouthed expression of overwhelmed pleasure and he grunted and gasped, unconsciously pulling Cuddy closer to him.

His body and his grip on Cuddy eased within a matter of a few seconds, the most intense moment of his orgasm giving way pleasurable throbs that he wished lasted a lot longer than they did. Soon, he fully relaxed again, still holding onto Cuddy but now limp all over save for his penis still hard in her hand. He drew in a couple of deep, relieved breaths and lolled his head away from Cuddy while afterglow immediately washed over him. He dropped his hand from Cuddy's shoulder to his chest, quickly curling his fingers into his shirt and tugging it up a little more to keep it away from the mess on his belly.

Edited at 2010-01-09 10:14 pm (UTC)

There was really no reason to draw it out further. Well, no reason but the pleasure of making him beg, that was. Some days that would be reason enough but not that time. He just wanted release and she simply wanted to get back to cuddling. It seemed smarter to do as he asked and continue.

She pumped him strongly, watching his face for signs that it wasn't enough or that it was too much. The lube allowed her to work her hand at a rapid pace without the threat of rubbing the skin right off his penis. She was pretty sure he wouldn't have appreciated that, although by that time she figured he didn't care about anything but getting off.

When his body tensed, she eased her grip just a touch and slowed the pace of her hand to match the pulsing of his penis as he ejaculated. She watched the expression on his face go from an almost agonized look to one of pleasure and then go slack. Normally she didn't get to watch him, not like this. Usually she was just as involved in the lovemaking and she was either seeking her own release or her brain was hazed with post-coital pleasure. Although she wasn't 'in the mood' she did enjoy getting to watch the way he reacted.

She gave his penis a few more gentle strokes but stopped before he could get too sensitive. After a moment, she released him and lifted her hand to look at it. Lube and semen had made a sticky mess. She considered simply wiping her hand on his shirt even after he'd gone to pains to keep it clean. After a moment, though, she gave a sigh and dragged herself off the bed instead.

In the bathroom, she quickly washed her hand, then she wet a washcloth with warm water. She carried the cloth back to the bed and gently cleaned him up, wiping the semen that had splattered on his stomach and getting the worst of the lube off his penis. She carried the cloth back and tossed it the sink, leaving it to deal with later.

Back on the bed, she scooted over until she was snuggled up at his side. She draped her arm over his chest and settled down so her forehead was just resting against the side of his jaw. She figured he'd be happily relaxing in afterglow for a while, and that was always the best time to cuddle with him. Hell, he might even be a nice, quiet pillow for her now.

House quickly lifted his head from the pillow to look down at the mess on his stomach and cleaning it away before it all turned runny would have been a good idea. But instead of bothering to ask Cuddy for tissues, he simply dropped his head back to the pillow, uttering an almost inaudible groan of satisfaction while he stretched his legs out.

He rolled his head towards Cuddy to watch her scoot off the bed. Really, could he love that woman any more than he already did? It was just a handjob, something second best to a blow job or sex. But Cuddy could have easily refused to indulge him. Or she could have resented him for wanting attention after the fight they'd come close to having, or she could have complained that she was simply too tired.

He lazily let his eyes fall closed, basking in the afterglow still rippling through him. Orgasms truly were the best kind of sedative. All the tension in his body had dissipated for now. He stayed still, eyes closed even when Cuddy returned to wipe him clean. Only when she was cleaning his penis did he open an eye to peer at her, then watched her climb off the bed for the bathroom again.

House tugged his shirt down over his stomach, pulled his pants up over his hips and raised his arms above his head to stretch. When Cuddy was again by his side, he slipped an arm under and around her shoulders as she cuddled up to him. Too content to bother moving or even speaking, he kept his eyes closed and allowed himself to drift off into a light doze.

Orgasm did seem to have improved House's performance as a pillow. He was quiet and relaxed and it was easy for Cuddy to relax with her head resting on his shoulder.

She closed her eyes, lulled by the sound of his slow, even breathing. As always she had a million things rattling around her brain. Most of those things were small--the routine stuff of day to day life. She also thought about how she and House were doing, though. She was fully aware they'd come close to another full-blown argument, and over something not all that important. It made her aware that they still had a long way to go.

She was grateful he was getting treatment. Without the therapy and the meds, she was afraid to think of where they'd be. She was pretty sure they wouldn't be together, not as a family. She believed he'd still be trying to do the right thing, that he'd be trying to be a father to Emma, but she wasn't sure he would've been able to handle it psychologically.

Even with treatment, his moods were erratic, changing without warning. She wasn't much better either. Fatigue and hormones did not make for a rational woman. Still, they were together as a family. They were slowly finding their way, not always successfully but they were working at it.

After a few moments, she surrendered to sleep. And what seemed like only a few moments after that, she was awoken by Emma's demands to be fed coming through the baby monitor. She sighed, reluctant to move when she was snuggled up with House, but a short nap was better than nothing. She pushed herself up and leaned over to kiss him on the forehead.

"Wake up, lazy," she murmured. She gave his shoulder a little shake for good measure, then scooted off the bed. "See if you scrounge up something for supper while I feed Emma, okay?"

She rubbed her eyes as she walked to Emma's room, clucking her tongue as she entered the room. "Yes, yes, we hear you," she said quietly as she scooped Emma up from the crib. "Did you really think we'd forget you?" Emma simply sucked at her fingers, wide-eyed and eager to get down to business. Cuddy let out an amused snort as she carried her to the rocking chair and settled down to nurse her.

"Hmmn," House grunted at being shaken awake. His eyes opened sleepily for all of a second before drooping shut again. He so wasn't ready to get up. He'd be ready to get up in... probably another eight hours or more. He heard Cuddy say something about supper, too groggy to piece together her words. Something about scrounging and supper and Emma.

Without really being aware of it, he rolled over onto his side and sank straight back into a doze the moment he was comfortable. His breathing immediately evened out, punctuated with a slight snore at the end of each inhale.

Images of Emma and other fragmented, distorted scenes of the day flashed through his mind in dream sequences. His body jerked with small twitches every now and then until he suddenly jolted awake at the sound of a sharp, wailing noise. It took him a moment to realise it was Emma being fussy, perhaps having her diaper changed or being burped - Cuddy said she was feeding her, right? He couldn't quite remember - and he just knew Cuddy had asked him to do something but he couldn't recall what that was.

He'd rolled onto his back and looked over at the baby monitor, trying to jog his memory. Something about... slippers? Something about...? His head was too fuzzy with sleep. He grunted, rolling onto his other side. "Fuck it," he muttered to himself, cuddling up to the pillow. Whatever it was, it couldn't have been that important.

He easily slipped back into a doze again, mouth slack and once more snoring at the end of each inhale. His shirt had twisted up around his stomach, the plackets of his jeans were wide open from the handjob Cuddy had given him, and his limp penis was peeking out from the fly of his boxers.

By the time she finished nursing, Emma had filled both her stomach and her diaper. Cuddy made a quiet tsking noise as she got her breasts back under cover and carried Emma to the changing table.

"That's a tad disgusting, you know?" she said as she unfastened the soiled diaper and efficiently wiped Emma's bottom. Emma screwed her face up into something resembling a frown. She didn't like having a wet or dirty diaper but she wasn't crazy about having her butt bared and wiped either. She didn't have time to work up much of a protest, though, because Cuddy had her securely wrapped in a clean diaper in no time.

"I mean, I realize everyone poops but they don't usually do it while they're eating." Cuddy picked Emma up and held her at eye level in front of her own face. Emma, of course, could not have cared less about the etiquette of poop. She acted purely on biological need and now that she'd taken care of all of her biggest needs--sleep, food, and poop--she was happy.

Cuddy set her in the crib for a few moments so she could go take care of some of her own needs. After she finished up in the bathroom, she returned to the nursery and gathered Emma up.

She had noticed the house being suspiciously quiet which meant House was being suspiciously quiet. Suspicious, that was, because he was supposed to be making supper and he normally wasn't quiet about that. She wasn't terribly surprised when she carried Emma to the bedroom and saw House sound asleep...and half dressed.

"Men," Cuddy muttered. Emma gurgled and Cuddy took that as agreement. She leaned over and shook House's shoulder. "Rise and shine."

House had been having a nice sleep. When he was groggy, nothing felt better than succumbing to sleep. That was only if he was left to sleep peacefully. Being rudely awoken wasn't at all conducive to relaxing and at the first shake to his shoulder he jerked awake and snapped his sleepy-looking, slightly red eyes up at Cuddy with bewilderment bordering on immediate irritability from the surprise he received from being shaken.

It took him a couple of seconds to come to his senses enough to work out what was going on. Emma was in Cuddy's arm, happy and probably fed. He remembered being woken before but still couldn't recall what Cuddy had said to him. He groaned in mild protest and rolled onto his back, scrubbing his hands over his face. At the same time, he noticed his shirt felt tight and twisted around his middle. Pulling his hands from his face, he lifted his head from the pillow and looked down, spying not only the way his shirt was rucked up and tangled around his mid-section, but also his penis hanging slack out of his pants.

"Oops," he said, lifting his hips up. He quickly tucked himself in and tugged his jeans up. Once his fly was zipped, he rearranged his shirt while scooting back until he was sitting up against the headboard. Again he scrubbed his face with his hands and tried to blink away the heavy hanging grogginess, but then lifted his hands towards Emma and motioned for Cuddy to hand her over.

"Come here, kiddo," he said to Emma and once she was in his hands, he plopped her on his lap, facing him. He peered down at her with a sleepy, almost cranky-looking expression, though he wasn't cranky at all, just groggy as hell. Emma stared back up at him with that perpetually curious expression of hers.

"You look way happier to be awake than I feel," he grumbled at her.

Cuddy took the precaution of stepping back one step after she shook House. She could never be sure how he'd react but he usually didn't like being woken. It was like dragging a hibernating bear from his den--he could be really, really cranky.

She watched him as his brain slowly sorted out where he was and what he was doing, gently swaying Emma in her arms. One little hand had clutched onto Cuddy's shirt but Emma's eyes were roaming aimlessly.... Well, it seemed aimless to Cuddy but for all she knew, Emma was deliberately taking in as much information about her surroundings as she could. Fortunately, she was incapable of seeing House tuck himself away and zip up his jeans. Emma would never have remembered seeing it, of course, but still, Cuddy thought she was a bit young to start understanding with gender differences. There'd be plenty of time to get confused by that later.

"Pretty much everyone looks happier to be awake than you do," Cuddy said after handing Emma to him. He didn't look unhappy to her, just groggy. Emma definitely looked happier and more alert than he did, though. Cuddy herself was...she wasn't too bad. She always felt tired but the short nap had actually juiced up her batteries a smidge. She knew she probably looked worn down but she felt reasonably good. Good enough to be aware of how hungry she was and to do something about it.

"Since someone decided to extend his siesta instead of slaving over a hot stove...." She wasn't angry at him for falling back asleep. Heaven knew there'd been plenty of times she'd wanted to do the same thing. It would've been nice to have a freshly made meal waiting for her but at that moment, all she really cared about was getting something in her stomach and she wasn't going to fuss over who made it.

"Keep an eye on her and I'll go defrost something for supper."

Oh, so that was what Cuddy had told him when she'd first woken him - she'd wanted him to make supper. He pursed his lips in a manner as though to say, "oops". But seeing Cuddy didn't seem annoyed beyond mildly chiding him, he decided to let it drop the way she was and just gave a slightly sheepish shrug.

"Your fault for telling me while I was half-asleep," he replied, though he looked over at her while bouncing Emma lightly on his lap, to silently say that he'd look after the baby. He considered interrupting and telling Cuddy he'd deal with supper. Being she didn't seem too unhappy about making supper herself, however, he let her go. Perhaps she wanted a break from Emma, which was fine with him.

He turned back to the baby when Cuddy had left the room. He enjoyed having Emma with him and he allowed himself a small smile as she gurgled with bored look on her face. He pulled her up to a 'standing' position, her feet resting on his legs, and the shift in position seemed to have piqued her interest. She now looked a little perplexed by the unusual stimulation of being held like this.

"Sorry to have disturbed you," he said to her. "You just seemed a little bored of sitting there with nothing to do." He watched the way her little legs kicked and squirmed, drawing up towards her body protectively every now and again. He brought Emma closer to him until he was almost nose to nose, something else which startled her and made her eyes go wide with intrigue or confusion.

He held her like that for a moment, staring into her eyes, then leaned that bit closer and ripped the tip of his nose against hers. When he pulled her back, he sat her on his lap again. For a little while, he simply studied her, occasionally rubbing his thumb across her temple and the side of her head and sometimes giving her chest a rub while supporting her with his other hand.

Soon, though, she began to get a little restless. He spread his legs and settled her on the mattress between them to let her kick and stretch to her heart's content. "Getting bored?" he asked. He pressed his fingers into her palms, which she grasped tightly onto, and he slowly pulled her into a sitting position before letting her lie back down. Then he extracted his fingers from her grasp and took hold of both her feet.

He leaned over to look at her. "How about a nursery rhyme?" he asked her. "Mom taught you any of those yet? Yeah, didn't think so." He playfully tugged at her feet. "I can teach you some. Let me see..." He thought for a moment, then looked back down to Emma and with an animated voice and face, he said, "Mary had a little lamb, her father shot it dead. Now it goes to school with her between two chunks of bread."

"Yeah, 'oops'," Cuddy said dryly when House mouthed the word. At another time she might've been irritated with him for falling asleep on the job but he'd actually been pretty dependable lately. He'd been taking care of one of Emma's nighttime feedings among other things. So she was willing to cut him a little slack this time. She wouldn't make any promises about the next time, though.

She ignored him when he tried to pin the blame on her, even though it was true she should know better than to talk to him when he wasn't fully awake. The truth didn't matter, though--he would've tried to shift the blame to her no matter what the circumstances. So she did what she usually did and ignored his attempts.

She left him to tend to Emma and headed into the kitchen. For a moment she simply stood in the middle of the room and thought. She was hungry but she simply didn't have the motivation to do any real cooking. She looked through some of the dishes she'd cooked and frozen before Emma's birth and settled on a casserole with brown rice, mushrooms and sausage.

While the casserole heated up in the microwave, she got out the plates and silverware and glasses. In less than fifteen minutes she had drinks poured and plates of hot casserole set on the coffee table in the living room. Some day she'd like to eat in the dining room again--since that was sort of its purpose--but for now it was much easier to keep an eye on Emma in the living room. There she could lie on the floor and kick or watch her toys while Cuddy and House ate.

She headed back into the bedroom to tell House dinner was ready, walking in just as he finished his version of a nursery rhyme. "Don't you think it's a bit soon to twisting her psyche with that kind of thing?" Cuddy gave him a look of mild warning but Emma, of course, was fascinated by House's voice. That's all she cared about, and likely even when she did get old enough to understand the words, she'd still be fascinated. Kids did tend to like the gross and morbid. She couldn't imagine House's child being any different.

"Supper's ready," she said. She leaned down and blew a soft raspberry on Emma's stomach. "Not for you, though. You've already had yours."

House looked over at the door as Cuddy entered. "Not twisting. Encouraging." He turned back to Emma and leaned in closer to her with a mischievous little smirk on his lips, as though sharing a conspiring secret with her. "You're Daddy's little girl, aren't you? Means you're gonna be just like Daddy."

Hopefully not exactly like him. The last thing he wanted was for his daughter to end up with the kind of life he'd ended up with - troubled, miserable, lonely. He didn't even want to be like himself, let alone Emma ending up like him. He wanted her to be her own person, whatever that was going to end up being. But he also couldn't help hoping she'd end up with a somewhat twisted sense of humour, like his. And Cuddy's - she wasn't without her own offbeat humour herself.

He sat back, resting his head against the headboard just before Cuddy informed him of supper and leaned over to blow a raspberry on Emma's belly. Emma reacted with a reflexive squirm, her arms jerking outwards. At the same time, she let out a whoop.

"Mo-om," House interpreted for her. He threw Cuddy a mock annoyed look, too. "That's so embarrassing." He glanced down at Emma, adding, "I know. Mothers are like the humiliators from hell." He almost added that his mother could be incredibly embarrassing - but the moment the thought entered his head, so did the reminder that his mom didn't know about Emma.

He faltered for a second, then quickly swept the thought and any feeling of guilt it had dredged up aside, and he was swift to scoop Emma up. "Come on, then." He started scooting to the edge of the bed, propping the baby up against his shoulder and he held her there with one hand secure on her back. He used his other free hand to help himself get off the mattress.

"You heard Mom," he continued. "Supper time. You may not be hungry, but I'm famished."

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