"Meeting," Cuddy addressed the man as he swiftly walked away from her in the opposite direction.
"Ooh, sorry. Important 'doctor business' to attend to," he ducked his head, pretending to busy himself with the empty folder in his hands.
"House, you don't read charts," the woman called his bluff. "Meeting, now."
And that was how he found himself seated at the long table in the meeting room.
Dr. Gregory House glanced boredly around the table assessing those present. Cuddy- his boss; Chase, Cameron and Foreman -his team; and then Wilson. He smiled. Good old Wilson.
"Hey, Jimmy," he gave his best salesman's smile "Take notes for me, alright? I have some things to do."
"Sorry House." Wilson returned, choosing to ignore the nickname. He had decided long ago that it was best to pick your battles with House. "You have to be here for this one; t'is the season," he remarked.
The unkempt doctor's face fell. "Oh," He replied in a dull voice, "That meeting."
"As you know," Cuddy smiled at the assembled group. "There's only a month left until the Christmas party. Most of the planning and preparations have already been finished, which leaves only one matter to attend to." So saying, she withdrew a ratty looking stocking from under the table and proceeded to hand out scraps of paper to all the of the assembled. "Now remember, just your name. It's up to your Secret Santa to figure out what you want for Christmas."
Cameron raised her hand.
Ah, Cameron. House mused a little cynically, the ever-proper school girl. When was she going to get it through her head that nobody really believed she was that bland, catholic-school oatmeal innocent?
Cuddy nodded to her. "I think Dr. House should have to write what he wants on his," she announced.
House looked up, a bit surprised.
"He's impossible to shop for, and getting the wrong thing could result in weeks of humiliation. It isn't worth the stress."
"I second that." Foreman agreed.
"Aww, come on," House protested. "I like the singing wall fish. You can't still be upset about that!"
Cuddy raised an eyebrow, seeming to take the arguments into serious consideration. "Alright," she decided. "Let's put it to a vote then. Raise your hand if you think House should have to write what he wants along with his name."
Five hands shot up instantly. House shot Wilson a glare.
"I hate the fish." Wilson replied seriously, and House had to grin. He'd recently discovered a new form of entertainment in relocating the fish around his apartment so that whenever Wilson came to visit, he could watch the man jump every time the fish assailed him with "Moon River" from an unexpected new location.
"Fine," House grumped, scribbling his name on his strip of paper. "Ah Christmas; the season of peace, love and democracy." He thought a few seconds, trying to come up with either the most abstract or offensive gift he could think of. Finally, he grinned to himself, printing hottie with a body neatly at the bottom of his paper before folding it in half and stuffing it into the stocking.
House waited as patiently as could be expected for House as his turn came to draw a name out of the stocking. He peered down at the paper and grinned. James Wilson. That was easy. Wilson would be a snap to shop for. He glanced over at the man who was carefully studying his own piece of paper. Yah, Wilson would want a… a… he'd want… crap.
Though he'd thought and thought, this was one diagnosis the usually apt doctor could not fathom. What the heck would Wilson want for Christmas? He glanced up to the man who was distractedly mouthing the end of a pen as he went over some old reports, trying o figure out where best to file them. Lucky Pen. House thought.
"Hey," he called. "Hey Jimmy,"
The man's head shot up with an annoyed glare. "House, I've told you before, I don't like it when you call me-"
"Yah yah," House waved him off. "So… who'd you get?"
Wilson raised an eyebrow. "We're not supposed to tell, remember?"
"Aww, come on…" House whined.
The oncologist rolled his eyes. "Cuddy." He told him.
House grimaced. "Lucky you."
The older man cocked his head to the side. "Well what?"
Wilson sighed exasperatedly. "Aren't you gonna tell me who you got?"
House clicked his tongue disapprovingly. "Why Dr. Wilson! I'm ashamed of you. We're not supposed to tell, you know." He grinned at the man's obvious annoyance. "Chase." He told him.
"Ah," Wilson replied, seemingly losing interest.
"So what would one get for a young doctor these days?" House wondered aloud.
Wilson shrugged. "Buy him a tie."
"Har har." House returned. "Well what would you want?" He smiled, giving himself a mental pat on the back for his own sneakiness.
Wilson shrugged, turning back to his paperwork. "I don't want anything."
"Bull." House accused. "Everybody wants something. The only reason anyone buys gifts for anyone else is so that next year they'll feel guilty and buy something for us."
Wilson stared at him. "Your lack of philanthropy staggers even me."
"A new pocket protector?" House suggested with a grin. "Or maybe a toaster oven at work so that when the little wife kicks you out again-"
"House," Wilson's voice was sharp. "I don't want to talk about that."
The older man was silent for a moment. Something was up and Wilson wasn't talking about it, and he could have kicked himself for not noticing sooner. "Wilson…"
"It doesn't matter anyway…" he seemed to be talking to himself. "All I want… is someone who will love me for who I am, not for who they think they can make me into."
House paused. "Couldn't we just get you a puppy instead?"
Wilson snorted. "Don't feel bad. Even God hasn't been able to fill that one."
"That's pretty deep…" the older doctor noted, "Assuming you believe in God."
"Oh, and you don't?" Wilson quirked an eyebrow.
House thought a moment. "Well someone's been thwarting my evil plans, so I guess there's got to be some kind og God."
"Yah… but I guess he just doesn't listen to anyone's prayers anymore." The man sighed despondently.
House raised an eyebrow. "You…?"
"She filed for divorce." Wilson admitted, then pursed his lips, turning back to his paperwork.
House stared for a long minute. Maybe God did still answer prayers. "Even though it's a real cramp to my style," he began, a little over-loud to cover up any actual emotion that might leak through. "I've got a pretty big apartment still, and the fridge has been pretty empty since you moved out…"
"I'll get my stuff." Wilson replied, ignoring the sarcastic jabs. He stood, then turned slowly, meeting House's eyes with his own. They were blue and dazzling and full of so much pain that it nearly toppled the other man. "Thanks, House." He told him softly, turning away quickly.