Warning: Here be fluff! This fic mentions many romantic films, but I tried to keep spoilers vague enough where it wouldn't ruin anything. Also, it's a Valentine's Day fic. I know it's a few days late, but I didn't finish on Sunday like I thought I would.

Saccharine Sentiments

Call it pathetic, or even predictable, but Wilson liked Valentine's Day. It wasn't his favourite holiday, but he enjoyed it as much as anybody else did. One whole day set aside solely with the purpose of celebrating love; why wouldn't he like it? When he'd been married or dating, Wilson had usually gone all out--not simply because it was expected of him, but because Wilson actually liked lavishing his loved one with attention and care. It was the one night a year when being a total sap actually paid off--and Wilson wasn't afraid to admit he was a bit of a sap.

Even when he was single, he couldn't bring himself to hate the holiday. He stared on at all the romantic couples and even if he felt a twinge of almost-jealousy, it filled him with something warm. Just because he was single didn't mean he had to seethe and rant about everyone else being lovey-dovey. If anything, a day all about love and romance was exactly what the world needed. There wasn't anything wrong about leaving cynicism and hate and selfishness behind for one day and being more concerned with gift-giving and love.

Since he wasn't currently dating anyone, though, Wilson didn't have anyone to lavish with expensive gifts and poetry. Still, Wilson was a bit of a romantic at heart and he wanted to celebrate Valentine's somehow. Seeing hearts and pink and more openly romantic gestures in public than usual got him in the mood for something, well, Valentine's Day-ish. So he went to Blockbuster and rented some movies--all romantic, of course--and rolled his eyes and gave the teenaged boy behind the counter a look that was supposed to say 'women, right?' and the boy nodded with an exasperated sigh and gave him the 'yeah, I hear ya' look that was expected.

It was actually Saturday, the night before Valentine's, but Wilson worked Sunday. He wasn't dating anyone, so it didn't seem fair to expect the day off, especially when half the hospital was celebrating with their families or other loved ones. House was working on a case so even though Wilson got out later than he normally did, he still managed to rent the films without annoying, cynical rants about commercialism or pointlessness of holidays. Wilson had heard the speech about Valentine's Day being invented by Hallmark and Hershey's; about how it was all about spending money and how it was stupid that the love you got free from your girlfriend the night before had to be earned on February fourteenth. He had heard it hundreds of times. He also knew that when House was with Stacy, he'd been just as excited (albeit subtly so) to celebrate it as Wilson had. The speech about selfish corporate executives might be true, but it was the thought behind the holiday that counted, and most people who complained about it were just bitter and single and could care less about their rants, anyway. House would deny it, but if he'd had someone to share it with, he'd be out making restaurant reservations and writing poetry, too.

Which meant there was no reason for Wilson to start when the door to the loft opened and he heard a cane ticking against the floor. He wasn't doing anything to be ashamed of, so it was unnecessary for him to blush and hope House wouldn't notice the stack of DVDs on the counter or the fact Wilson was currently watching something horribly cliché and romantic.

"I thought you had a patient?" Wilson called over his shoulder as he heard the shuffling of House putting away his coat.

"Cured him!" House shouted. "Apparently, he didn't think it was of dire importance to tell us he'd been having unprotected sex with horses."

"Well, I can see how that would be something one wouldn't want to talk about," Wilson admitted with a shrug. "It puts a whole new twist on Equus."

He heard House walking behind him and towards the couch, his steps getting nearer. Wilson eyed the remote, but knew if he suddenly switched the television off it would only be obvious he was hiding what he was watching, and there wasn't any reason to be embarrassed. Except that Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor were currently dancing on clouds with the Eiffel tower behind them, music filling the air. "A whole new twist? Um, wasn't the whole point of the play the fact he had a big ol' hankerin' for ponies?"

"Yes, but now I'm imagining you curing Daniel Radcliffe, and--"

"What the hell are you watching?" House asked, plopping down beside him on the couch. The arm rest was down (Wilson absolutely hated it when it was up; it made him feel cramped) and House's knee jostled his.

Wilson didn't blush. "Moulin Rouge," he answered casually.

With his peripherals, he saw House crane his head and look over at the kitchen counter--the counter they usually dumped their rented movies. The music swelled and her dress swished, and Ewan looked enraptured and completely, head over heels in love--

"What the hell?" House murmured. "You did not rent You've Got Mail."

Wilson shifted and stared at his lap. "Tomorrow's Valentine's Day."

"So you went out and rented chick flicks?"

"I rented romantic movies," he corrected.

House pushed himself off of the couch and limped over to the counter. Wilson kept his eyes trained on the television. He'd been hoping that House would work late, possibly even spend the night on the couch in his office, so he could watch the movies in peace. He knew it was stupid, but there were some things he didn't like House barging in on and ruining. It wasn't like Wilson watched chick flicks all the time, otherwise he would buy them, but he didn't see anything wrong with indulging in a cliché romantic comedy every now and then.

"You've Got Mail? God, like they needed another movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? And what's this? Much Ado About Nothing? It pretty much states in the title it's a load of crap. As Good As It Gets, that movie with John Cusak and the boombox, Moulin Rouge--also known as The Unoriginal Musical Full Of Cover Songs--and . . . Bed of Roses." House made an over-the-top gagging noise. "Ten Things I Hate About You, turning Shakespeare's woman-bashing romance-less bore-fest into a cliché pro-feministic chick flick bore-fest, and . . . PS I Love You."

Wilson shifted awkwardly and watched Ewan proclaim that he wasn't a duke.

"I would've rented Fight Club."

"First off, we already own that movie, and second . . . It's Valentine's Day. I wanted to rent romantic movies."

House sat down on the couch again and stared at the screen wit ha disapproving eyebrow raise. "Then I would've rented Die Hard."

"Once again, we already own that, and--"

"There's kissing. It's romantic." He pointed over to the counter and Wilson's stare moved from the screen to the DVDs piled on the countertop. "Those aren't romantic," he pointed out as if that made sense, and when Wilson looked at him and blinked, House held his gaze for a second, then looked at the TV.

"House, they're chick flicks. They're romantic movies. And you probably haven't seen most of them, anyway."

"I have. I think I've seen this one," he gestured at the television, "five times. And it's like the eighth time you've rented Much Ado About Fake Suicide and Really Fake Crying. The Christian Slater monstrosity was on television when they were going through the post-prison Look How Great Christian Slater Was At Acting Before He Gave Up Coke marathon and as for You've Got Mail, Stacy went through a Tom Hanks phase. You sobbed the last time you rented PS I Love You and I give everything with Jack Nicholson a chance. Everybody's seen Say Anything."

Wilson shifted uncomfortably in his spot. "I did not sob."

"I distinctly remember tears streaming down your face when James Marsters downed that shot during the stereotypical drunken Irish boyo's funeral."

"Shedding a tear or two is not sobbing."

"Excuse me if my thesaurus is not as updated as yours," House replied with a shrug. "The point is, those movies are not romantic, and you wasted your money. You should've rented movies like . . . Oh, The Transporter 3 or, I don't know . . . Ninja Turtles."

"Because nothing says romance like two bickering sidekicks surrounded by mutant turtles," Wilson muttered with an eye-roll.

"I'll have you know that Casey Jones is a badass and one of my personal heroes."

Wilson raised his eyebrows at him. "Sounds like someone has a crush."

House just shrugged. "Well, you know, something about hockey-stick wielding vigilantes gets my motor running. The point is that the movies you rented overshot romance by about five miles."

Wilson watched as The Duke very nearly caught Ewan having A Moment with Nicole, then sighed. "They're just movies, House. They're not meant as a personal insult specifically for you. I hate to ruin your self-absorbed delusion, but you're not quite that important."

"They're movies dubbed as 'romantic' when they aren't. That's not real romance. It's just histrionic, attention-getting over-the-top delusions of romance. It's an exaggeration. People go out of their way to rent these so called 'romantic films' and get their hopes up, and have these idiotic ideas about what real love is supposed to be like. 'Oh, boo hoo, Claudio thinks I'm cheating so I'm gonna fake my death to get back at him.' Oh, yeah, that's real romantic. 'Oh, wah, some girl's goldfish died; I'm gonna put Sprite in her petunias.' I'm swooning as we speak just thinking about it."

"They're just movies, House. Fantasy. Sometimes, people like to escape real life by watching things that would never happen. It's not meant to be an instructional film on how to woo women."

"No, but then women get it in their heads that their boyfriends are going to stand outside their window with Peter Gabriel blaring on a boombox every time they have a fight, or that when one of them inevitably dies it'll be beautiful and in each other's arms or there'll be post-mortem, creepy letters in the mail. These 'romantic movies' set the bar of acceptable, everyday romance here," he began, lifting one hand high above his head, "when men can really only get to here," he put his hand about a foot lower than his first hand, "and that's on the really rare occasions. Normally, romance really only makes it to here." He moved that hand about half a foot beneath where it had previously been. "So that makes all the girls in all the world perpetually pissed off about how he never shows her the attention she deserves."

Wilson thought over House' rant for a few seconds, then smiled thinly. "You know what I think?"

"Do I ever?" House asked rhetorically.

"I think you don't like romantic movies because, in reality, you're alone and bitter about not having anyone to be romantic with. It's not about illusions of the grandeur, over-the-top romance brainwashing women--it's that you hate being reminded of what you can't have."

"You mean to tell me that, deep down, I'm just an over-emotional thirteen-year-old girl with a poster of Leo and Kate on my wall, wishing that one day I might find my soul mate?" House scoffed. "I don't like Valentine's and I don't like chick flicks because I'm a cynical, heartless bastard."

"That what you like people thinking. You want this just as much as everybody else does. You're just too afraid to admit that to yourself, and so you spout off all these cynical diatribes when really you're afraid to admit that you're just as sentimental as every other person on this planet.

"That, and you're incapable of putting yourself on the line by doing something romantic and admitting that you like someone enough to embarrass yourself with flowers and platitudes and Peter Gabriel."

"I'm incapable of being over-the-top?" House asked with a ironic little smirk.

Wilson scoffed and rolled his eyes. "When it comes wooing someone? Yes. It's much simpler to be an asshole than to seriously admit you care about someone. You'd rather ruin the moment by groping Cuddy's breast than open yourself enough to show her you're more than a cold-hearted jackass."

House blinked at him and tilted his head. "Hmm," he hummed, then turned to the television.

House was uncharacteristically silent the rest of the film, and Wilson wondered if perhaps what he'd said had hit a little too close to home. He hadn't meant for it to be an insult--well, just in the friendly way they always insulted each other. Still, House was rarely silent, and he was watching Moulin Rouge with an intensity that meant he was either highly interested in the proceedings, or trying to avoiding thinking about something else.

Knowing that if he flat-out apologized for his comment House would mock him and act like he didn't care, he offered to watch Fight Club once the movie was over. House merely shook his head and told him to put in one of the rented movies.

House quietly watched the next movie without making a comment, and even when Wilson went to bed, the sounds of the cliché-ridden chick flicks were audible through the walls, though muffled.

The last thing Wilson heard before falling asleep was Heath Ledger singing and he got an awkward (but pleasant) jolt when he heard House's dulcet tones joining.

When the alarm blared, Wilson groaned tiredly, more than a little annoyed about being ripped out of his dream. He couldn't remember what it had been about, just that it had been pleasant and had somehow involved House, and that being woken up irritated him more than it should have. He groaned again, as if by making his annoyance known time would stop and allow him return to the hazy contentment that was his dream, but it obviously doesn't work. The alarm keeps blaring, and the remnant of whatever he'd been thinking of was slipping away from behind his eyelids, like a watercolour painting being washed back to the boring piece of paper it had once been.

The beeping grated on his nerves, and he wondered if it was just the irritation that made him feel so cramped suddenly. He rolled over to reach for his alarm when his chest smacked something and the sound of clinking filled his ears. A second later, he felt something cold seep into his chest and he froze, looking downward, his vision still blurry and the sound of his alarm continually assaulting his ears. Half-sitting, arm outstretched for the alarm, and head fuzzy, it didn't occur to him what had happened until a few seconds later.

He'd knocked over a tray of food. A tray with a bowl of cereal, a cup of orange juice, and a rose in a vase. He quickly grabbed the vase and placed it on the bedside table beside the alarm, which he turned off with a glare, and then put the rose inside.

Chest wet and cold, he stepped out of his bed, milk and orange juice dripping down and hitting his floor. He rubbed his face tiredly and went over to the light switch. He turned it on and then stared at his bed, still not sure he wasn't still dreaming. The tray was on its side, a bowl tipped upside down with Cheerios beside it, and the juice bled into his sheets, growing wider and wider.

"Oh," he realized aloud.

Breakfast in bed.

On Valentine's Day.

With a chuckle, he cleaned up the mess. He really didn't understand what House was trying to accomplish, except maybe that he was capable of being 'romantic.' It was a nice notion, really--it was a shame that he had dumped it all over his chest. Then again, had House been awake to hand it to him, instead of place it over his body and leave (probably because he didn't want to be in the same room when Wilson woke up; House didn't exactly do nice things, and when he did, he ran off much like a child would after breaking his mother's vase) he probably wouldn't have spilled it all over himself.

House was already awake, eating breakfast on the couch. Ever since he'd gotten out of Mayfield, House had usually come in with Wilson to work. It had originally started out that way because neither of them trusted House enough to be left alone (not that they would ever admit to it) but after awhile it just became easier. There were times House stayed later, and Wilson was proud that he didn't even have to worry anymore or check up on him. Still, even though they came in to work at the same time on most days, House never woke up before Wilson unless his leg was acting up, in which case he would've been soaking in his tub. He wasn't, though. Instead he was sitting on the couch, eating a bowl of cereal.

House didn't say anything as Wilson put the tray and the dishes in the sink, nor did he speak when Wilson went over and squeezed his shoulder as a nonverbal way of saying thank you. He noticed that the DVDs were spread out on the floor, and that House was currently watching something hopelessly and obviously romantic, but it wasn't one of the movies he had rented and so Wilson only assumed it was on one of their channels.

As he showered, he smiled, and found himself humming. He didn't realize it was from the dream he'd been having until he stepped out of the shower and plugged in his hair dryer.

They didn't talk about the breakfast in bed, simply because they didn't talk about that sort of thing. Of course, they talked about everything else--about how lame it was that people still requested Celine Dion on the radio, and how if anyone ever requested My Heart Will Go On for them, they would probably die of embarrassment. They laughed at a car decorated with window paint with hearts and a 'will you marry me?' scribbled on the back window, and joked about Wilson's proposal a few weeks back, saying that while it cock-blocked House spectacularly, at least it didn't impair traffic visibility.

When the doors to the hospital opened and they walked inside, they were assaulted with pink and red and white decorations. It wasn't overly done, like some places were bound to be, but it was noticeably Valentine's Day.

"It looks like a thirteen-year-old Hannah Montana groupie just vomited all over the place," House commented with a scowl.

Wilson shrugged as they walked, arms bumping as they usually did, towards the elevator. "Because generally, vomit is frilly and cute."

"It is if you're thirteen years old."

"Must be why bulimia is so popular with young girls," Wilson replied dryly, realizing that was the sort of humour he would have never used around one of his girlfriends or wives.

"Still, Valentine's isn't so bad," House said with a shrug that Wilson felt more than saw.

"This coming from the cynical cold-hearted bastard who hates romance."

House didn't reply. In fact, his impassive expression and hip-driven gait seemed to imply he hadn't even heard Wilson's comment. Of course he had, but still, his non-reaction was a little out-of-character, which meant that maybe Wilson had gone a little too far with what he'd said the night before, and by bringing it up again, he could have been going a bit too harsh at the moment, too.

Still, he couldn't think of a way to say he was sorry that wouldn't be scoffed at and so he didn't say anything until House pushed the call button to the elevator with his cane. "So, sex with horses, huh?" he asked.

"Well, we can't all settle for ducks."

Wilson blushed. "I did not have sex with a duck."

"No, but that would've been less embarrassing for everyone involved if you had," he admitted with a smirk, which only made Wilson blush deeper.

The doors slid open with a ding and several people walked out, although one person stayed. They walked onto the elevator, Wilson ducking his head to hide the fact he was sure his cheeks were bright pink.

"You know, for your next bachelor party, we should take a trip to Mexico and watch a donkey show," House suggested brightly.

"Your patient the one who gave you the idea?" he asked with an eye-roll.

"Well, it's not every day you meet a hippophiliac. I just had to sit down for some tea and crumpets," he explained. "I mean, he'd enjoyed the horse rutting him up the ass; I figure, some girls must like swallowing donkey spunk, so--"

The other person in the elevator cleared his throat pointedly and Wilson winced. "House, I'm not sure I want to discuss this."

"Why not? Come on, it's not like it's that deviant. Everybody's half-wondered about clicking on the donkey-show links on porn sites."

"I haven't," Wilson told him proudly.

House scoffed and rolled his eyes. "Well, what else are we supposed to do at your next bachelor party? Kinda hard to top the last one I threw."

"Which is why I decided to elope," he revealed.

"Oh, please. You enjoyed it."

"Not as much as you might think," Wilson lied, and he knew House could tell.

"The duck tells me otherwise," he teased as the elevator stopped. As soon as the door opened the other person left hurriedly, obviously uncomfortable with their topic.

Wilson shifted uncomfortably. "You know, some people don't enjoy embarrassing their best friends by mentioning bestiality and bachelor parties best forgotten in front of a radiologist."

"Yeah, but they don't get to party like we do."

"Yes. Because parties are just so common around you."

"Bachelor parties, maybe, if you keep up the trend. I bet you'll go through four more wives before the end of the year. If you play your cards right, you could probably get the first one today. Girls are suckers for Valentine's."

"That's just what every girl longs to hear. 'Would you mind getting married today? I know we don't know each other very well, but my best friend promised me a donkey show for my next bachelor party.' Somehow, I don't think that would work."

House shrugged. "I bet Thirteen would be down for some pretty kinky stuff. She's just your type. Recently single. Dying. Plus the chances of a threesome are doubled."

"I've been in threesomes before, House," Wilson revealed with a sigh.

It was just coincidence the doors pinged at that precise moment, but the sound was satisfyingly appropriate. Wilson strolled out first, and then House hurried after him, his cane ticking against the linoleum. "What? You've been in threesomes? Plural? Why don't I know about this?"

They stopped outside of Wilson's office, Wilson fishing for his keys with the hand not holding his briefcase. "Contrary to popular belief, my sex life is not for your perusal."

"Uh, since when?"

"Since it involved sex without you being present," he answered.

"Come on, Wilson--you tell me everything," he urged.

"Apparently not."

"Amber. Amber seemed like the adventurous type."

Wilson sighed and rolled his eyes, pretending that it was a great injustice having to tell House the truth. In actuality, he was half-bragging. "If you must know, yes. It was with Amber."

"And?" he urged.

Wilson smirked, knowing that it was the best way to torture him. "Nobody you know," he replied, turning around to stick the key into the lock. House limped away quickly and Wilson furrowed his brows; he'd expected House to drag the details out of him or at least tease him some more. He hadn't expected him to just walk off like that.

When he pushed open the door, he froze in the doorframe just as he heard House's glass door swing shut.

His office was filled with flowers. Daisies, to be specific. Vases littered the desk, the flowers bright and perky; they were on stands around the floor, the daisies tied near the top; they were somehow pinned to the walls and hung from the ceilings. The scent of the flowers filled him suddenly, soft and barely-there and caressing. Wilson had never been one to tell the difference between flowers just by smelling them; the scent had always been vague and uninteresting, but now was completely different. He'd never been in a room full of them before.

He blinked a few times and finally stepped inside, shutting the door behind him. He walked, slower than was necessary, to his desk and sat heavily. He expected something to renounce it--not that he could think of anything would. Maybe it wasn't House; maybe it was some anonymous admirer, or a patient, or Cuddy--except that he knew who had sent the flowers. It wasn't like House could stick his head in the office, say; "Just kidding!" then snap his fingers and all the flowers would disappear. Still, the irrational fear it would all go away remained.

Until he saw the card on his desk, right next to the nearest vase. He picked it up, and read what was scrawled there.

Roses are red,

violets are blue,

sugar is sweet

and so are you.

But the roses have wilted,

the violets are dead,

the sugar bowl's empty

and so is your head.

He laughed.

He'd only had one meeting with a patient before lunch, which had gone smoothly. She'd been curious as to the flowers--he'd had to move the vases on his desk onto the floor beside it so that he could talk to her--and when she asked if his girlfriend had sent them, he'd said no. When she'd asked if his boyfriend had, he'd spluttered and blushed which she took as a yes. Not really sure how he would explain something he wasn't quite sure of himself, he just swiftly started their conversation and left the discussion of flowers behind.

He had no idea why House was making him breakfast in bed or filling his office with flowers on Valentine's Day. House, except for when he was with Stacy, had always been the one either completely ignoring the holiday, or railing against it. As far as anyone else was concerned, he was just a jackass with a typical hatred of anything celebrating cheeriness and love. To those closest to him (which was basically just him) it was a reminder of what he'd lost. He'd given everything he could to Stacy; opened up to her in ways she couldn't possibly realize, and she had taken that from him when she'd left him. House liked to pretend he was impervious to harm, but really he was more sensitive about people leaving him than most people Wilson had met.

Why waste it on him, though? Why not Cuddy? All right, that would be a horrible idea, seeing as she was currently dating Lucas and was probably aware that they had bought the loft she'd wanted (he didn't believe Lucas at all when he said she had no idea.)

Just as he was expecting House to stop by and demand food, the door opened. It wasn't House who peeked inside, though--it was Thirteen. "I am sent to bid you come into dinner," she said, with one eyebrow perched higher than the other.

Wilson blinked. "I'm sorry?" He had heard her, but for some reason it sounded strange, as if he'd heard it before but he couldn't remember where.

"I am sent to bid you come into dinner," she repeated, slower and louder this time.

He blinked. "Um, it's only lunch-time," was his intelligent reply. Something about it sounded odd; old-fashioned or rehearsed.

"I know. House told me I was supposed to say it. He wants you in the cafeteria." With that, she smiled knowingly at him, then shut the door.

Wilson read over the final paragraph of the release forms a second time and hastily scribbled his name. It didn't occur to him until he was out of his office and heading towards the elevator that what Thirteen had said had come from one of the movies he'd rented. Probably the Shakespeare one.

He expected House to accost him the moment he set foot in the cafeteria, but it didn't happen. In fact, upon closer inspection, he wasn't even in the cafeteria. He wondered what House was planning on doing, because Wilson had known him long enough that coming to a House-free cafeteria after Thirteen had relayed her message was not an accident or coincidence. House didn't simply leave to use the restroom at the wrong time.

He gathered his food slowly, looking over his shoulder. House didn't pop up beside him and tell him what food he wanted or start piling lettuce on top of a steak. For that reason, Wilson put more food on his plate than he normally would--almost double, although it wouldn't quite fit on his plate--and paid.

He had almost forgotten he was supposed to meet House by the time he registered a familiar limping frame. He was, however, a little surprised when he didn't sit down--instead, he moved to stand on the table. The half-eaten fry dropped out of Wilson's mouth and he blinked, confused for a second, then stood to help him stand on the table (out of habit, naturally; he didn't want House to exhaust his thigh muscle.)

"Don't help me stand, idiot," he snapped.

"But, your le--"

"Sit down," he ordered and Wilson obeyed, a little dumbstruck and confused.

It was then he realized everybody was staring at them, and that the loud, chattering noises had dulled into whispers. His cheeks burned. "House, um, what--" he began, hiding his face with his hand.

"Romancing you. I hope you don't find this too 'over-the-top,'" he piped and Wilson ducked his head lower, chin pressed against his chest while he draped his palm over his eyes. "Look at me. I'm not trying to impress the top of your head."

It took a long second for Wilson to lower his hand and force his eyes on House--and only House. He tried not to think of the employees, employees' friends, and patients' relatives surrounding them; watching them.

For no reason at all, why House was doing this all made sense.

He figured his face was etched with dawning comprehension because House smirked in a way only he could manage. With an obnoxiously loud throat clearing, which was unnecessary since everybody was already staring, he declared; "My Jimmy's eyes are nothing like the sun!"

Wilson groaned. Oh, God.

"Coral is far more red than his lips red; if snow be white, why then his chest is dun; if hairs be wires, brown wires grow on his head!" The thing about House was that he had the perfect voice for projection. Any theatre teacher would've been clamouring to get him on stage, and nobody in the audience would complain of not being able to hear.

Which, of course, was not good for Wilson.

"I have seen roses damasked, red, and white, but so such roses see I in his cheeks," he continued, loudly, with amazing inflection. He really understood the poem; he wasn't just reading it off like a nervous high school student in front of the class. He put meaning behind each syllable. "And in some perfumes is there more delight than in the breath that from my Jimmy reeks."

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Chase and Foreman. He heard them laughing. Cuddy was in the lunch line, but he could only see her with his peripherals. He couldn't see her expression.

"I love to hear him speak, yet well I know that music hath a far more pleasing sound," he insisted with an ironic curl to his words and mouth, eyes boring into Wilson's. "I grant I never saw a goddess go; my Jimmy when he walks treads on the ground."

Wilson was going to kill him.

"And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare as any he belied with false compare," he finished, and the way he tilted his head and stared at him just then--his voice deep and trembling slightly--made Wilson's heart skip a beat. He almost believed him, but forced the thought out of his mind. He wasn't going to go down the road of false hope; not after so long of stopping himself.

There was a beat, and then Chase clapped, which of course made everyone clap, although it was overlapped with laughter and loud murmurs.

Wilson didn't bother offering to help House off of the table. In fact, if he got a sore thigh, the bastard deserved it. His cheeks flamed with embarrassment, his stomach churned, and his heart thumped wildly in his chest, pushing warmth through his veins. Emotions swirled through him; contradicting each other and making him half want to kill House and half want to. . . Well, he wasn't going to contemplate the other half.

When House sat down across from him, he stole one of his fries as if nothing odd at happened.

"You're an asshole," he gritted out between his teeth, pinching the bridge of his nose.

"Wait, so the over-the-top garishly romantic gesture wasn't romantic at all, but horribly embarrassing? And here I was, thinking you'd swoon." Wilson removed his palm form his nose and glared, but was unable to stop his lips from pressing into a tight smile.

Their mutual glare lasted about five seconds before Wilson chuckled, shook his head, and took a drink of his soda as House cleverly stole yet another fry.

He had been stupid to think it was over. He had thought, since he'd obviously learned his lesson that the 'histrionic, attention-seeking declarations of love' were often more embarrassing than charming in reality, that it would end. That maybe, since he had realized that House was taking him up on the challenge he had unwittingly presented on the couch the night before, that there was no purpose in him continuing it.

Which explained why, when he'd grabbed the folder for the next clinic patient, the nurse smiling prettily at him, he was so shocked to hear House's voice over the intercom.

Singing along as he strummed a familiar beat on his guitar.

"Pardon the way that I stare," he sang, and at first, Wilson could do nothing but stare, unblinkingly, at whatever was in front of him. Which happened to be the prettily smiling nurse, who was no longer smiling but staring at the ceiling in confusion. "There's nothing else to compare . . ."

"Oh God," Wilson stated, knowing his face was still blank, and the folder was still open for his perusal.

"You'd be like heaven to touch . . ."

Everybody else stopped moving and stared at the ceiling too, as if confused at where the sound was coming from. Wilson wondered how'd he gotten control of the intercom--who had he paid or blackmailed? How long could he keep it up without Cuddy finding him?

"I wanna hold you so much," he continued, unaware that people were not whispering and pointing at Wilson, who stood stock-still. He could feel heat rushing up the back of his neck and flood into his cheeks.

"Damn him," he whispered, although the corners of his lips were curling upwards. It wasn't supposed to be endearing--it was embarrassing; humiliating. And it definitely was--in part, anyway. Although, a part of him was enjoying the attention--not from the people around him; from House.

"At long last love has arrived . . ."

For the first time since the intercom switched on, Wilson realized he'd never actually heard House sing, except for along with the radio, and through the walls last night.

". . . and I thank God I'm alive . . ."

He had an amazing voice.

"You're just too good to be true . . ."

He sounded so serious; not a note of sarcasm or silliness.

". . . can't take my eyes off of you."

Wilson grinned like an idiot to the nurse and closed the folder. When Cuddy ran out of her office as House struck up the livelier, more energetic part of the song, she immediately asked Wilson what the hell House thought he was doing; first the thing in the cafeteria, now this? All Wilson could do was shrug, tell her he had no idea where House was, how he did it, or why, and then he ambled off towards the only empty clinic room, away from staring eyes and inquisitive whispers and annoyed bosses.

His heart leapt into his throat, and he couldn't help but hum along quietly as House demanded beautifully; "Let me love you, baby, let me love you."

After clinic, Wilson went back to his office, where politely brushed off anybody who came asking for answers as to what House was doing, although most of them pretended to be there for some other reason. He had a meeting with one patient who had gone into remission but worried that the cancer had returned, and Wilson scheduled an appointment. One patient went into remission, another decided he wanted to spend his remaining months at home with a live-in health care provider, he scheduled one surgery to remove a tumour despite it being benign, and he scheduled two biopsies. In between and after each meeting, he worked on his paperwork.

The scent of flowers would randomly wane and then hit him full force every few minutes, and he'd stare at them, feeling a strange, but familiar, tingle fill him. He knew it was just a joke, but still, he couldn't help but let his mind go down the road he often told himself he'd never go down; inevitably, every now and again he would and he'd hate himself for it because he knew that there wasn't a chance.

He loved House. He'd known it for ages now, but he'd never once considered that it would be reciprocated. He mostly managed to keep the feelings quelled and shoved into a part of his brain he never thought about, but every now and then it would be all he thought about.

He thought of the serious glint in House's eye as he'd recited the edited sonnet in the cafeteria, and how, although playful, he hadn't chuckled or sounded like he was kidding around. He remembered how beautiful his singing has sounded, as sappy as it was for Wilson to think that way, and how it had been so damn embarrassing both times--and yet his heart missed a beat every time he thought about it.

He sighed, and wondered if it was selfish of him to enjoy the attention, even if he knew it was just House proving Wilson wrong--a prank, of sorts.

He wondered if Cuddy had ever tracked House down and yelled at him. He hadn't seen him since lunch, which had been shorter than normal anyway. They hadn't talked much, and House had left sooner than he normally would have. Maybe he was making himself scarce on purpose. Then again, if he had used the intercom to prank his best friend without Cuddy's knowledge, he would've been scarce, too.

The knocks on his door preceded Taub, who walked in, eyed the flowers with all the interest of someone noticing the colour of the carpet, and handed over an envelope. "From House," he explained, then left his office as quickly and uninterestingly as he'd entered.

Wilson, more than a little intrigued (and a strange fluttering sensation in his belly) opened the envelope.

Dear Wilson,

Yeah, I know I'm not dead, but I wasn't about to off myself all for the sake of a moronic cliché. I mean, really. I'm not that committed.

So, I guess, if you want, you can pretend I'm dead. I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time. Just imagine that, months ago, you got sick of me and put a pillow lovingly over my face. Don't act like you haven't thought about it.

Oh, dear, loving, wonderful Wilson--it's been awhile since you suffocated me unexpectedly in my sleep. Foreseeing this issue (I am a genius after all and let's face it--I'm enough of a jackass that getting murdered is something I prepared for) I wrote you a letter. A post-mortem letter delivered to you by Taub. And I am, in no way, scribbling this out at two in the morning while making arrangements for your office to be filled with daisies.

Oh, and did you like my poem? I wrote it especially for you. I also painted the Mona Lisa. The secret? She's you in drag. Anyway . . .

Knowing you, you're probably in tears over the guilt of murdering your only friend, and you probably miss me too (you big sap) so, in an effort to help you with your grieving process (because writing you letters after forcing you to go to my sham, disgrace of a funeral won't screw you up mentally or anything) I wrote you a letter. Telling you to get over it.

Oh, and also, to go out on your balcony. I've got a surprise for you.



Wilson couldn't help but laugh at the letter. He carefully folded it up and placed it back in the envelope.

When he walked out onto the balcony, he expected House to be there, but he was conspicuously absent. It wasn't until Wilson looked over the balcony wall and onto the streets below he saw House, waving energetically at him and shouting; "Hey, Wilson!"

He could barely hear him, he was so far below and surrounded by the noises of faraway traffic.

House lifted a boombox high above his head, music blaring from it. Wilson laughed and ran a palm over his face, shaking his head. It was nothing more then a teenaged girl's fantasy to have John Cusak holding a radio above his head, and yet, having House do it instead, a stupid, silly grin on his face that Wilson could barely see from where he was, made him inappropriately giddy.

He had to stop laughing and strain to hear that it was, in fact, Peter Gabriel blasting out of the speakers.

He waited until the song ended and House put the radio down. They looked at each other, far away but eyes still meeting so that it felt like they were only inches apart, and then House limped back into the hospital.

He was grinning when he turned around and saw that House's team was watching him. He gave a small wave and went back into his office.

"Ready to go home, lover-boy?" House teased, sticking his head into his office. Wilson realized it was the first time he'd actually been inside his office that day; as if he hadn't wanted to see the flowers.

"It depends. Are you planning on asking me to prom?"

"Nah. Turns out, they're a little picky about creepy old guys hanging out in high schools. Can't imagine why." He stepped fully into the office and tapped his cane against the carpeted floor. "I told them to water them with Sprite. I don't know if they listened."

"It's the thought that counts," Wilson brushed off with a small, barely there smile. He tried to quell it, but he really couldn't.

House didn't move to the chair or to the couch. He stood still while Wilson signed his name on the last bit of paperwork for the day. "Meg Ryan told Tom Hanks her favourite flowers were daisies," he reminded after a few seconds in which Wilson wondered had felt awkward for House, although he had felt rather comfortable.

He blinked. "I know. I have to run these down to Records, and then we can go."

He stood out of his desk and put the folders in his briefcase. He had removed his lab coat when he'd finished with clinic duty; for a minute he'd forgotten and it disoriented him, but then he stood and put on his coat. He reached into his pocket, checked to make sure the keys were still there, and House remained silent the entire time, which in itself was strange.

He stood there, tapping his cane against the floor, and Wilson walked past him.

House grabbed his upper arm, the two of them facing opposite directions. Wilson's chest tightened; his breath hitched. He turned to House to ask what he was doing, but nothing came out; his throat was too dry. House turned to face him too and let go of his arm. He opened his mouth, eyes focused and serious, but then he cleared his throat. "Well, come one. We best get a move on," House said instead, although it was clear that had not been what he'd intended to say.

As they made their way to Records, House remained quiet. He stood beside him in the elevator, studiously looking ahead. His cane remained planted in front of him, fingers curled tightly around the curve. He was distancing himself, probably for the same reason he hadn't set foot in his office earlier, or why he'd made himself scarce after lunch. Despite the fact he'd been lavishing him with embarrassing clichés, Wilson actually hadn't seen him all that much. Lunch had been short, their conversation half-hearted, and they hadn't really talked much other than that. Normally House spent as much time annoying him as possible--sending him inappropriate pages, bursting into his office, stalking him, asking him for unnecessary consults . . .

Frowning, Wilson went to Records, and pointedly didn't ask how House managed to get the flowers in his office without his key; he didn't care how he planned on removing them.

Their ride back to the loft was awkward. House looked out the window, his cane between his legs and hands clasped on top. Whenever Wilson did try to talk, House answered curtly and didn't look at him. Every now and then House would turn his head and open his mouth to say something, but then he'd shake his head, make a comment about Cuddy's breasts, and return to staring out the window.

Despite the fact Wilson had been the one embarrassed, House was the one acting strangely. Perhaps doing all that had caused people to talk more than they already did about their relationship, and House had heard something unpleasant. Or maybe Wilson's good mood had tipped him off about his feelings, and now House was awkward around him.

If Wilson didn't know any better, he'd think House was acting nervous although he couldn't think of any reason why.

When they went into their loft, House ambled towards the living room quickly although Wilson took his time putting away his coat. "So, how was you day, then?" he asked loudly, which was just his way of asking if House was okay.

"All right," House answered. Since he was in a different room, Wilson couldn't read body language or facial expressions, and so he had no idea what that meant in House-speak.

Wilson rubbed the back of his neck and stepped into the living room, and that was when House started playing the piano. It took him awhile to recognize the tune, but when he realized it was My Gift is My Song, he just smiled.

The evening still wasn't done.

They weren't in the hospital surrounded by people, and Wilson didn't feel the burning flush of embarrassment either. He just sat and watched as House played but didn't sing. It sounded different somehow; slower, more pensive.

This was different, because House wasn't running away. With the breakfast, he had placed it over his chest and left; he hadn't been around with the flowers; he'd been distanced and awkward at lunch, and had even left before Wilson had; he'd been somewhere else when he sang over the intercom; he'd been stories beneath him while he held the boombox, barely audible over the muted traffic. Now, though, they were alone, at home, and he was playing the piano--not with Wilson conveniently nearby and just happening to listen. No, he was playing for him.

The familiar notes swelled and washed over him, and when House played for him, it sounded as if that was how it was meant to be heard. He tilted his head and watched House stare at the keys in concentration, fingers dancing across the ivories.

When the song came to its conclusion, House sat at the piano for a few long seconds and Wilson didn't move; just stood there, watching.

"You know, it wasn't fair that Helen Hunt knocked down his door just to say she wouldn't sleep with him. Then she demanded he become less of who he was just so they could be together," he muttered a moment later.

It took him awhile to realize House was talking about As Good As It Gets. Wilson had only seen it once or twice when it first came out. He had noticed some similarities between Jack Nicholson and House, of course, but now it held a different meaning. That was before the whole situation with Cuddy and Lucas and Rachel. He remembered Cuddy telling him she needed someone she could depend on at the last medical conference. He thought of House, watching that movie late at night, probably sleepy and half-aware, and noticing the similarities.

Suddenly, Wilson thought that Helen Hunt didn't deserve him.

House sat there for a few seconds longer before holding his thigh and swinging off of the piano bench. He walked over to Wilson, eyes searching the loft and focusing on anything but him. When he finally stood in front of Wilson, an eternity and no time at all later, he stared at their shoes instead of his face. Wilson didn't know why House couldn't look at him. It was weird. House usually didn't have much problem looking at him.

The cane was still leaning against the piano, Wilson realized belatedly. He wondered if House would have been hiding behind it as he had earlier. Wilson went to ask him if everything was all right, but nothing came out. House had slipped his hands through Wilson's, holding them; entwining them.

The jolt that went through his arm went straight to his heart and bloomed there. Wilson tried to remind himself it was just part of House's prank, except that there wasn't anybody around to watch; no way to embarrass him. Hand-holding wasn't especially cliché, either.

House muttered something, but it was quiet and slurred. Wilson's blood was whooshing past his ears too loudly for him to hear, anyway.

"What?" he asked quietly; he wondered if House heard him.

"You make me want to be a better man," House repeated, and his voice was too thick for it to be just a joke; for it to just be a quote.

It hit him suddenly. The barb he'd thrown on the couch had hurt him; not because House was thinking about Cuddy, but because he'd been thinking about . . .

House and Cuddy had been so close to getting together several times, and House had deliberately sabotaged it. Groping her breast, pushing her away . . .

"You're fine as is," Wilson promised. He wasn't lying; anything less than what he was would make him something other than House.

House didn't look up. He stared at their entwined hands. He stepped closer, head still bowed. House didn't do romance--not unless he really cared about someone. He hadn't done it for Cuddy--in fact, he blatantly destroyed anything sweet and romantic he could have had with Cuddy. Even if he did care about her and like her and possibly love her, it hadn't been worth serenading her to prove her wrong. If anything, all House ever did was go out of his way to prove her right--that he was, indeed, a jackass.

But with Wilson, one slightly-too-harsh barb turned into House proving him wrong--not that he needed that to be proved or anything. It had been a joke.

This, however, wasn't.

The rasp of House's beard shouldn't have surprised him, but it did. He should have anticipated the taste of House's mouth, but he really didn't. He'd seen House turn his face upward, head so close that he hadn't needed to push forward to kiss, and yet it was the sensation of his stubble scraping his skin and the taste of his lips and saliva that pushed the realization home. They were kissing. In the back of his mind, he must have not been all that caught off-guard, since he'd been ready for it--he hadn't frozen, or waited, or kept his eyes open in shock. He'd met House's mouth willingly and nudged his lips.

Fireworks didn't explode; not really. It was more gradual than that--deeper. A small fire caught onto some dry grass inside him and grew into a forest-wide blaze. His heart leapt in his throat and his hands clutched absently at House's shirt and their mouths opened, tongues touching and pressing and caressing. House's hands were warm against his cheeks as he held his face, and Wilson delved deeper; kissed him firmer.

House's lips were softer than Wilson had expected and the stubble harsher than he'd imagined; it was an interesting contrast--much like House could be, he supposed. Much like they were.

With a sharp tug at his bottom lip with his teeth and a more insistent sweep of his tongue the kiss deepened, and Wilson gasped into House's mouth. Fingers skirted across House's shirt and underneath, touching bare skin and cloth and dancing along ribs. House tried to mirror Wilson's movements, but his shirt was tucked inside his pants, and so House settled for threading his fingers through his hair and devouring his mouth hungrily.

Eventually they pulled apart, small bursts of warm air mingling in midair while they pressed their brows together, Wilson leaning forward every few seconds to nip at House's mouth while he ran his hands across his shirt.

"I'd love to keep this up," House breathed, flicking his tongue against Wilson's mouth, "but I've really gotta pee."

A/N--All right, obviously I don't own any of the movies or songs mentioned. Shakespeare owns sonnet 130, although I made some edits obviously, and the song House sings over the intercom is sung by different people--like Lauryn Hill and Jerry Vale--so take your pick really. As a side note, it was my intention to be incredibly fluffy and sappy--someone I know insinuated I couldn't do it. This is my attempt at proving her wrong.