Best of the season, whatever or however you celebrate!


It was well past quitting time by the time House and his ragtag team of fellows got their latest patient back on the road to dubious health, but when House glanced across the balcony, he saw that he wasn't the only department head working late. Triumph made him hungry, so he packed up for the day and let himself into Wilson's office, hoping to score a free meal. He was distracted, however, by an anomaly.

"What happened to you?" he demanded, staring at Wilson's left hand suspiciously. The wrist was wrapped in a brace just peeking past the cuff of his dress shirt. That alone was unusual - Wilson always rolled his sleeves up when he was working in his office. House liked to watch his little ritual: hang up the lab coat, uncuff the left sleeve and roll it up, uncuff the right sleeve and roll it up, and pretend that equalled casual.

Wilson was deeply involved in the latest issue of We Haven't Cured Cancer, But We'll Write Really Boring Articles About Our Failures, and didn't immediately look up. When he finally glanced at House he appeared puzzled, as if he couldn't quite place what House was talking about.

"Repetitive strain injury?" House suggested, jerking his own wrist suggestively. "I know the hotel room is lonely, but don't you alternate hands?"

Wilson frowned. "I don't jerk off with the hand I use to brush my teeth," he replied primly and resumed reading the article.

"It's worse than I thought," House proclaimed. "Obviously your funny bone's been compromised as well."

Wilson sighed and closed the journal. "I suppose you think that's humerus," he parried weakly.

"On the first day of Christmas, my best friend gave to me, one really crappy pun," House retorted. "If you can't be funny, be honest. Why the brace?"

Wilson rubbed his wrist self-consciously. "Old tendon injury," he muttered. "Acts up every once in awhile."

"Like when the weather changes?" House guessed, thinking of the six inches of fresh snow that had greeted him that morning. House hated snow. It was cold, it made his leg ache and it disguised patches of treacherous ice.

Wilson shrugged. "Or overuse." He grinned. "Though not the way you mean." He inclined his head towards the stacks of holiday cards piled on the couch. "Patients. Colleagues. Staff. Suppliers. Business associates." He glared at another pile on the corner of his desk. "Then Cuddy dropped off ones for all the donors, half of them needing personal messages. Why can't we just send emails?" he grumbled.

"That's not the holiday spirit, Jimmy," House chided.

"Easy for you to say. You made Cameron sign your name the last three years." His expression brightened. "What are you going to do this year? Thirteen's more likely to vivisect you than do your paperwork."

House wondered if that little flicker of holiday joy was at the thought of House's internal organs being dissected or the possibility that House might have to do his own work. "Kutner's so full of Christmas spirit you could bottle him. I'll tell him he can listen to carols while he signs the cards and he'll be all over it." Kutner was like having Cameron and Chase rolled into one over-eager ball of kiss-ass, but with the added bonus of an accident scene waiting to happen. He still couldn't believe Cuddy hadn't over-ruled that hiring decision. He totally owned her.

Wilson looked faintly envious as he reached for the pile of unsigned cards and flexed his hand tentatively. He couldn't quite hide a wince when he signed his name to the first card, checked the recipient's name, and scrawled a few personal words.

A dozen cards and half a dozen winces later, House almost felt sympathetic. "Do you need a cortisone injection?" he asked. When in doubt, go straight for the good drugs.

"Maybe later," Wilson said, which told House the winces weren't just Wilson being a drama queen. "It's not going to do me much good right now." He scribbled on, a line deepening between his brows from a combination of pain and concentration.

House couldn't take it any longer. There was nothing more annoying than Wilson in full martyr mode. He pulled the visitor's chair closer to the desk and grabbed an unsigned card.

"What are you doing?"

"Coding messages to the Allies." He rolled his eyes. "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm signing politically correct not-Christmas cards for you."

Wilson tried to look disapproving. "Right. Because it worked out so well for us the last time you tried to forge my name."

"Unless Cuddy is sending a card to Tritter, I don't think it'll be a problem," House retorted. "Besides, I've been practicing. But if you don't want my help..." He leaned back in the chair and waited.

The line deepened briefly and then smoothed out. "I wouldn't want you to compromise your principles."

"It's not like I'm signing my own name," House pointed out. "But I'm not writing any sappy holiday greetings, so give me the ones that only need your signature."

Wilson shuffled through the cards and handed House a stack, smiling gratefully. "Thanks," he said. "I appreciate it."

House looked away before he did something embarrassing, like smiling back. "Don't thank me. I'm just sparing your wrist so you can make dinner for me later. I've got a hankering for stir fry."

"Of course," Wilson replied, and House could hear the smile in his voice. "I forgot altruism doesn't exist in your universe. Unfortunately neither do fresh vegetables in your crisper, so I'm not sure where that stir fry is coming from."

"We'll stop at Whole Foods on the way back," House said. "If you're good, I'll let you squeeze the melons."

"I'm always good," Wilson bragged, signing his name again with a flourish and a wince.

It was true, House thought, even when it wasn't. And because House could sometimes be good too, he even signed (almost) all the cards with Wilson's name.