I had agreed to being picked up. I know, girl option, but Jimmy had the wheels in this outfit. I wasn't too keen on having him sit behind me on my bike just before dinner; it might turn my appetite away from food.
The creepy thing was, all three of the stooges were sitting on my front porch, waiting with me. Chase had tied my tie, Foreman had ordered me out of sneakers and into smooth black dress shoes, and Cameron was coaching me of the different etiquettes when dating a guy. She wasn't telling me how to be the girl, she was telling me what not to do: don't pull out his chair; don't compliment his shoes or something stupid like that.
It was creeping me out. How long had they been expecting this whole 'date' thing to happen? How long had they been preparing to get it just right? Why hadn't they told me, so I could practice, too?
Chase looked at his watch, and finally said, "Right, it's six fifty-five. Wilson'll be here in five minutes."
Foreman brought his hands up and dropped them back to his knees in an almost-shrug. "Our work here is done, I guess."
All of them stood up, and Cameron said what the others didn't. "Good luck, House. It'll work out."
They dispersed. I waited by myself for four minutes, wishing simultaneously that Jimmy would be both late and early. Still, it's Jimmy, so he arrive right on time. I had long ago set my watch to him, so the second hand was right the top when I said, "You have a bad habit of coming about five seconds early."
Hee, I could make that into a sexual joke. But then, that might ruin the mood, so I'll leave it in your imagination.
He just grinned and waved me into the car. What could I do except accept the invitation? I got in, and he merged back into traffic. Since there are so very many cars on my street, right?
We got to the restaurant. I was glad that Foreman had gotten dress shoes on me; this was one of those fancy-chancy places with twenty dollar lobster bisque as an appetizer. My stomach twisted itself like an Olympic medalist and I fervently hoped that I wouldn't get sick all over my…date.
Happy thought. The knots settled down.
We were seated (it's great, what 'Dr.' before a name will do with a reservation ledger) and I automatically pulled a chair out before realizing my mistake and sitting down. The nervousness was getting to me. I didn't blush, though, because crabby narcissistic jackasses don't blush. Jimmy, however, seeing the gesture, did.
Good sign, or bad? Did he think I had assumed that he was the girl? It was a sensitive subject, at least to me. I did not want to be the one that giggles and drops handkerchiefs. Hmm, first date was not the time to talk about it.
I took a sip for the wine we recieved, forcing my eyes to wander away from Jimmy as his did the same, saw two people being seated at the table nest to us, carefully swallowed, and set the glass down. Once I was sure that nothing would break if I suddenly released something suspiciously akin to the wine glass, I said, calmly but loud enough for the seated people to hear, "I don't believe in coincidences, you know."
Wilson's eyebrows rose with a question, but then one of the women I had been talking to turn in her seat. "Oh, Greg and James! I didn't know you two were going to be here!"
"Stacey, what are you and Cuddy doing here?" I asked, somewhat coldly. Really, really not the time for this. First date, it had to be perfect!
Stacey just smiled benignly as Cuddy said, "Wilson, I was meaning to ask you. How was your tiny 'vacation'? It was only two days, and House was looking all over for you. It can't have been relaxing."
"Well, it wouldn't have been anyway, since I was in divorce court." Stacey was suddenly very interested in the conversation. Ah, working in the hospital as a legal consultant, when was the last time she had been in court? She should thank me for giving her the opportunity (on more than one occasion).
What? No! I'm getting sidetracked! Must get them to leave!
Wilson was saying, "…And I didn't know he was there. He just said, loud enough for everyone to hear him, 'I object'. I knew that it wasn't going to end well. I tried to stay calm, but House said that he was there as a witness for the murder trial, but they hadn't found out yet…"
Stacey turned back to me, laughing. She really was beautiful, I'll give her that. That just meant I had good taste, though. "Greg, I can't believe you. You're so cute when you get addicted to someone."
Wilson stopped talking and turned to us. Cuddy, having not been listening, to the other conversation, turned as well.
I moved away from her in my chair, sulking. Great, now the night was ruined. She was going to start talking about that.
Since Jimmy, Stacey and I had all been there, this was for Cuddy's benefit. "Well, when we first met, Greg and I were just friends. He's never been good at friends, though, and, after about six months, he told me he loved me. It was…a shock, honestly. I hadn't really even considered it."
I took a generous sip of my wine and refused to meet Jimmy's eyes. He was looking right at me, as though he was figuring out the significance of the story in relation to him.
He said, "House talked about you all the time. It was obvious to everyone that he liked you."
"Well, okay, it had occurred to me, and I was attracted to him, so I agreed to go out with him. A few years later, we all know what happened."
Yes, we had met Cuddy by then. Yes, that was when the leg thing happened. Don't talk about it anymore. The night's already gone.
"He changed after that, and I couldn't change with him, so that was the end of it." She stopped talking for a moment and looked between us. "What are you guys doing here, anyway?"
I still refused to look at any of them. Obviously not on anything close to a date anymore. Jimmy wouldn't admit to something like that, anyway. Who was I fooling?
"Um, actually, we're on a date," Jimmy said, almost casually. I nearly passed out.
Judging by their knowing smiles, both had assumed it. Stacey smiled, looking at me. "So, you finally brought him around, James? That only took ten years."
What the hell?
I couldn't hear straight for a little while, but when I came back to myself, Jimmy had convinced them to leave us be. I just stared at him for a few seconds, mouth open.
Finally, I said, "Has everyone just been setting up this whole set of events?"
Jimmy look sheepish for a moment, and said, "None of it was planned until you said…that…and after I'd punched you."
"But everything after it was?"
I stared at him for longer this time. He fidgeted with his napkin, and eventually said, "Are you mad?"
"James, I love you." I realized I had said it a short while later. "I mean, not that I'm trying-"
"I love you, too," he mumbled. I stopped talking.
I almost passed out again.
The conversation, for the rest of dinner, was filled with the small talk that I so loathed - that is, I loathed it right up until it saved me from saying anything very humiliating.
We were parked outside of my house, in silence, for five minutes. At the end of the five minutes, I opened the door and stood up. Looking back expectantly, I said, "Well? Walk me to my door."
"What, are you the girl now?" he asked as I was looking for my keys. So he had been considering it. He laughed as I gave him a dirty look, and shifted his weight from foot to foot.
Screw the keys.
I grabbed his collar, shoved him against the door, and kissed him. After a second of stunned silence, he kissed back, and I groaned in the back of my throat.
Thirty seconds later, I was as close to him as physically possible (trust me, we're both doctors, we know these things), my tongue was in his mouth, and his hands were on my hips. I pulled away, both of us breathing heavily, and said, "If I'm the girl, why are you the one pressed against my door?"
He laughed more and pulled me back.
Maybe one more small addiction won't be so bad.