"You." I can barely speak. I must be dreaming. He hands me the box and I half expect it disappear and then for me to wake up. Finally I reach out and hold onto it. "You got me a present?" I must have said that too loudly. House clamps a hand over my mouth.

"Would you shut up? Somebody's going to hear you." I nod. He lets go, just leaving me standing there with the small little box in my hand. "I haven't done this in a while, but uh—I," he stammers. It's weird. I've never seen him like this. He's kind of freaking me out. It's the most I've seen him open up to me, to anyone I think. He puts his hand on my face but he won't look me in the eyes. I don't think he can. I take his hand kissing it. Then he tries to pull away.

"Thank you." My hand touches his face turning it so he has to look at me. "It doesn't matter, what's inside the box."

"Yeah, yeah. It's the thought that counts, right?" a roll of the eyes from House and a deep sigh. "That's easy for you to say poetry boy," he says stepping back.

"I should 'ave known you'd use that against me." I knew I had to let him go. He reaches into his pocket again but puts the bottle back when he sees me glaring at him. House looks at me with an evil little grin

"Yes, you should have," he's still smiling. "But that doesn't mater. If I tell anyone about the poem you'll tell them about my gift," he says moping a little. "And we can't have that, now can we?"

"Cameron saw me," I admit and he looks up angrily. This time when he reaches for the prescription bottle no look from me, or anyone else could stop him.

"What did you say to her," he demands swallowing hard and replacing the bottle. Now it's my turn to look away. "Damn it." He pounds his fist against the desk.

"I'm sorry, I don't think she'll say anything and it's not like she knows about this." I shake the little box.

"Yeah, alright," he says rocking slowly. "Did you tell her what you were giving me?" I can only manage to shake my head. "Good, good." A few minutes pass. He sits down. The pills start to take effect and he relaxes a little. I start to peel the wrapping from the box. He looks up. He's trying to see the expression on my face when I open it. I still half expect it to explode or something. My hands are shaking. I have to stop.

"What is it," I ask putting the box down. "I just—did you," my voice trails off. He's laughing. Fucking Hell he planned this! He didn't get me a gift because he likes me or because he cares. He just wanted to watch me squirm.

Sometimes I hate him! I can't believe I wrote a poem for this man! He's a real bastard! He lives just to watch people suffer. He only got close to me so he could torture me. I'm a fool to think he'd ever care about me.

"Just open the box Robert. It's not a trick." I guess I must have rolled my own eyes because he gives me this look. He looks at me and everything else just falls away.

"I—I don't believe you," I admit. He hasn't exactly given me much reason to trust him. House just lets out this exasperated sigh. He doesn't try to defend himself or to anything to convince me that it's safe. He just sits there. And he sits. And he sits.

"Knock it off," he yells at me. "Just open the damn box already. You're completely ruining this." He gets up again, walking over to the desk. At first I'm sure he's going for the Gameboy but he doesn't. He comes right up next to me and puts hand on my shoulder. Then he leans in and kisses my forehead.

It's really weird. He's never treated me like this. He isn't nice. He isn't kind, or sweet, or gentle. He doesn't care about anyone. Even the sex is rough with him. You'd think with the leg and all he wouldn't be able to but he does it every time. God, we've been doing this thing, this dance, for eight months now. Eight fucking months and he's never done one nice or sweet or gentle thing. He's never even told me that he loves me.

"I can't." My voice barely comes out in a whisper. I'm sure I'm crying. God he's never going to let this go. I feel him breathing softly against my face. His hand brushes against my hair.

"Shh," he whispers kindly. I can't help but be scared. There's no way he's trying to comfort me. I just want all of this to stop. He takes the box from my hand. He takes the wrapping off and opens the box. Inside is a small piece of folded paper.

My hands reach down, trembling, and I unfold it. There's a small printed message inside. I feel tears slipping down my face as I read it and I feel like an idiot and a drama queen and he smiles. As I read the words over and over he leans down and whispers into my ear. "I told you," he whispers softly. I nod. He kisses me again. "Merry Christmas."

"Read it to me," I beg, wiping my eyes with my sleeve. House smiles and he takes the slip of paper away from me holding it up so he can se it.

"I love you," he says looking right into my eyes, his lips brushing against my cheek, and then my ear. "I love you," he repeats it again. I open my mouth to speak but my tongue is so dry it sticks to the roof of my mouth. House smiles. "Come on. You can do it. It's an easy one." I feel his hand on the back of my neck as if he's guiding my head into a nod.

"I love you." I've wanted to tell him that for a long time I just never thought he would listen. I figured he'd just laugh and it would be the end of everything. Then my pager goes off. His does too. I guess today is going to be busy after all.