Written as a present for the hw_santa exchange on LJ. Merry late Christmas!

Wilson was headed for a total disaster. Again. It was really quite baffling; House couldn't even wrap his mind around the leap of logic that would convince anyone that this was a good idea. But he really shouldn't have been surprised; Wilson had been baffling him since before he'd even known the guy's name. The only logical explanation House could think of for Wilson's reckless behavior was that the man was unaware that he was standing directly beneath the mistletoe that someone had stupidly decided to hang by the nurse's station. It was probably the only way those evil trolls could get any affection.

It certainly seemed as if the two newest candidates for Mrs. Wilson the fourth hadn't noticed Wilson's precarious position yet. The two women, a pretty young lawyer who had just lost her father to prostate cancer and a brazen red headed intern going through the ugliest divorce the state had ever seen, were huddled close together, only about 10 feet from the object of their mutual desire, laughing and whispering like old friends. Though House would be hard pressed to explain why either woman needed to be on this floor at all, much less so close to lunch.

Wilson had never tried to 'rescue' two women at once before; House thought it was a little greedy of him. But then again, Wilson liked to pretend they were both just good friends in need. Bonnie had been right about one thing, Wilson never saw it coming until somebody jumped him. And the small sprig of Christmas cheer over Wilson's head was going to give one of them just the excuse they needed. House was reaching for his pager, intent on getting Wilson out of the danger zone, when Cameron arrived on scene and changed the game.

As House watched, Cameron slid next to the unsuspecting oncologist and gave him a small peck on the cheek. Three sets of jealous eyes narrowed at the impertinence of the smiling bleached blonde girl. Wilson looked startled but not unhappy as he turned a quizzical expression to his companion. She glanced up. Wilson followed the direction of her gaze, smiled and said something that House couldn't hear. Cameron laughed, inexplicably (and unnecessarily in House's opinion) kissed Wilson's cheek again and wandered away.

House took a moment to study the scenario like chess pieces on a board. Sure enough, Wilson's little friends had finally been clued in. Their smiles stayed in place, but House could feel the tension from across the room. Any minute now, one of them would make a break for it, and Wilson would find himself in yet another accidental relationship. He played the game out in his head to its logical conclusion and didn't like where it ended – with him the loser, playing best man again.

House briefly considered the joy of arranging a surprise bachelor party that involved only himself draped artfully over the couch, naked. But it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility that Wilson wouldn't take the hint, laugh it off and order a pizza. Or worse, Wilson would understand, maybe even take what was offered, but still insist on going through with the wedding. His sense of honor was just screwed up enough to think that standing a woman up at the altar was worse than cheating on her before their wedding. Obviously, House was going to have to intervene this time. Neither of those women could be allowed to use the mistletoe to their advantage, but it didn't take a genius to work out that House wouldn't be able to reach Wilson before either of the harpies. Luckily, House had bigger guns in his arsenal than speed.

"Wilson!" he bellowed as he hobbled across the room. Wilson looked up, no trace of alarm or surprise on his face. House didn't have time to analyze the cocky grin being leveled at him: he had a crisis to avert. "If you wanted a kiss, you could have just asked. No need to stand under some poisonous parasite like the man whore you are."

Having stunned his rivals into stillness, House reached his quarry as he finished speaking. He casually threw his cane in the direction of the nearest person, took Wilson's face in his hands, and captured those tempting lips with his own. House knew he had to make this look convincing if he wanted to kill the competition permanently. His plan was to swoop in for a fast, dirty kiss before Wilson's shock and/or disgust could be telegraphed through his body language and give him away.

To his surprise, Wilson didn't stiffen, didn't even hesitate. Before there was time to actually set the fast and dirty plan in motion, there was a strong arm wrapped tightly around his waist, a steady hand clenched to his hip, and House was sure that later, when he had room among all the other emotions swirling through him, he would be embarrassed by the soft needy sound Wilson had wrung from him with the first swipe of his tongue over House's lower lip.

And suddenly, it was House who was stiffening with surprise and confusion, unsure what game Wilson was playing at, unaware Wilson was even in on the game, but then the arm around his waist loosened, drifting up to rub gently at House's back in a move that somehow communicated more intimacy than the tongue dueling with his own. Belatedly, House's genius kicked in, and he realized that this was no game. Or maybe it was, but that didn't make the stakes any less real. Wilson wasn't kissing like a man humoring a friend; Wilson was kissing like a man who'd been waiting for this moment his whole life.

"Get a room," an amused voice told them. House jerked back, startled into awareness of his surroundings, and would have fallen if Wilson hadn't refused to release the grip he had on his friend's hip and back. House turned his head to the source of the interruption to find Nurse Brenda, Evil Overlord of Sadistic Nurses, smiling at them affectionately. Clearly hell had frozen over sometime in the past ten minutes or so. "Number 312's open," she told them with a wink.

Wilson flashed her a smile that was entirely too flirtatious for a man whose lips were still swollen from kissing his best friend and retrieved House's cane from the person who'd caught it earlier, a shell shocked looking Kutner.

"Come along, Casanova," Wilson said as he guided House to the relative privacy of room 312. As soon as the door closed behind them, Wilson stepped back into House's personal space, too close even for best friends with no boundaries and kissed him again - softly, slowly, like he had all the time in the world. When he pulled back, seconds or hours later he whispered, "What took you so long?"

House's brain took a moment to get caught up on the current situation. Wilson wanted him. Wilson had been waiting for him. Wilson was, in fact, still waiting – for an answer. House swallowed and responded with a confidence he didn't really feel. "I was going to wait until your next wedding. But I saw those two predators out there going for the kill. It's too bad; I really wanted to stand up and confess my undying devotion when they asked if anyone had objections."

"That's," Wilson paused, considering, "strangely romantic."

Against his will, House's pulse jumped. Romantic, Wilson wanted romance. From him. That meant he wasn't just looking for a quick roll in the hay. Didn't it? "The look on Cuddy's face would've been priceless."

Wilson laughed and actually looked a little wistful at the loss of that moment. "So, instead you decided to be my hero, rescue me for a change," he teased.

"I thought it'd be a nice change of pace. I hope I haven't damaged your hero complex too much."

"It'll survive." Wilson swayed even closer, until they were pressed flush together. "How can I ever thank you?"

House's breath caught in his throat at the dirty promise in Wilson's voice. "Why don't you show your gratitude the way your bimbos always do?" House leered.

Wilson pretended to misunderstand. "You want me to manipulate you into marrying me?"

"I was really hoping we could start with the part where they jump you." House rolled his hips suggestively. "You can try your hand at manipulation when I'm post coital."

"Really?" Wilson didn't even try to keep the interest out of his voice. House suppressed a triumphant smile. Definitely not just a roll in the hay. Then he remembered what they were talking about.

"Oh my god! None of those women had to manipulate you, did they? You're addicted to marriage," House accused.

"No, I'm addicted to you," Wilson said matter-of-factly. "I'm just trying to ensure a steady supply of my drug of choice." His teasing smile disappeared; and, for the first time, he looked uncertain, "Do you think I'm moving too fast?"

"After 20 years of unrequited love? I think not," House mentally cringed at his careless use of the L word. He'd meant to save that as a 'get out of jail free' card for the next time he screwed up.

But Wilson didn't seem to be tripping up over the L word as much as the U word. "Hey," he said, suddenly serious, all attention completely focused on House; he pulled back just enough to make eye contact, trying to use the force of his gaze to make House see the truth of his next words. "Not unrequited. Fully requited. Totally requiting here. I love you."

House could feel the corners of his mouth trying to tug up in a goofy smile, but he manfully fought it back. He glared to cover the joy threatening to bubble out; he didn't want Wilson to think he was going soft. "Then why were you standing under the mistletoe in front of your love struck stalkers?"

Wilson closed the small gap between them. "Because I was hoping my original love struck stalker would make a move." Brown eyes laughed at him. "And he did."

House couldn't argue with that, so he wiped the smug smile off of Wilson's face with another kiss and made plans to pick up some more mistletoe on the way home.