A little green package.
Wilson had just handed him a little green package. Wrapped with red ribbon.
He stood, staring down at it with a frown of confusion on his face. Then, he looked up to meet his friend's brown eyes.
"What the hell is this?"
Wilson smiled as if this was a response he had expected, and planted his hands on his hips. They were standing next to Wilson's car, which was parked in front of House's apartment. The hour was about nine or so P.M.; the sky was black, with only a few stars visible due to the heavy clouds that had been carrying snow, and was now depositing it. A streetlamp nearby gave off more than enough light for them. It shone golden through the snow flakes, on House's face and in Wilson's brown hair. This precise moment was odd for the older man, as he was reflecting upon what they'd done that day, which happened to be Sunday. He supposed they had both been merely bored with no work to do, but he never expected to end up spending the entire day with any one person. He'd been alienating people since he was three, yet, here was James Wilson, Boy Wonder Oncologist.
It wasn't as if he had meant it to happen. They'd gone out for breakfast that morning, and midway through, Wilson had received a call from his brother (the one who wasn't living on the streets - House had yet to meet him), and asked if he would like to have lunch later. House sensed the hesitation in Wilson's reply of yes, along with the tense of his shoulders. Well, that was interesting. So, of course, he had to become the third wheel to that party. The quickness with which Wilson agreed to his presence informed him that he would have been invited anyway.
It turned out that Wilson wasn't nearly as close with his brother as he once was, and talk was small and forced. Painful.
"Your Christmas present. Sometimes, friends give each other those."
"You haven't given me a gift in eleven years."
Wilson nodded toward him. "I bought you that cane."
"That doesn't count. Besides, I didn't get you anything, and I don't plan on it, in case that's what you're after."
"It's not. I know you're not the gift-giving type, but I saw...this, and couldn't help but think it was something you would appreciate."
House squinted at him suspiciously.
"Just...at least wait until you get inside before you throw it away. Or, better yet, open it, and then throw it away."
"Why is this so important to you?"
"Why do you think it's important to me?"
"You're trying to act nonchalant, but you're forgetting who you're with, and how long you've known who you're with."
Wilson sighed, and rolled his eyes. "Because, House. You're important to me. It's Christmas. Lighten up for once."
The family get-together lasted all of a half hour. Just enough time for pamphlets of each's well-being to be distributed, and just a couple of minutes past the point House was able to stand without making crude jokes or finding some way to humiliate Wilson's older brother. Once he began to do that, Wilson faked an emercency call and they escaped.
He was curious as to why there was so much tension between the siblings. So he asked. Wilson told him, point-blank, that he felt everyone in his family held some level of resentment toward him. He thought everyone blamed him for his younger brother Danny's homelessness, and for the fact that no one had heard from him in nine years. Danny had always looked up to him the most. Wilson felt that it had been his responsiblity to watch after him, but he failed because he hadn't given enough of a damn.
Musing such as these seemed to always occur after catching up with someone in his family, and House knew this because he'd met them all at least once. He always felt blamed for something or other. And maybe it would have made a difference if he'd taken it upon himself to look out for Danny, but nothing was able to be done about it now. It was the past.
"I got a tree this year," he mock-whined. "And you're Jewish. What do you care if it's Christmas?"
"It's a nice holiday," Wilson countered defensively. "A time to be nice to people. Get what I'm saying, Scrooge? Now stop over-analyzing."
"Who's analyzing? You've made it perfectly clear what you want."
"Which is what? Do tell."
"Gifts are given to show love and affection. Or to get laid." He cocked an eyebrow questioningly.
"God, they're both awful. Can I get a third option?"
"'Fraid not. Gifts don't lie."
"Oh, okay, I've got one. You're an ass."
After the semi-disasterous lunch, Wilson transcended into one of his pathetic, broken moods, and House trailed him for the rest of the day, offering his own special brand of moral support. He hadn't wanted to leave him alone. It seemed to help. Wilson seemed grateful for the company anyway, which was surprising because when he got into a mood, usually, all he wanted was to be left alone so that he could simmer in his pointless, unhealthy thoughts. So, later, House took him out for drinks so that he could let his liver simmer in pointless, unhealthy liquids. It actually loosened him up quite a bit, which was a relief because House was really no good with emotions. He liked the way Wilson got kind of silly when intoxicated.
"Hey, hic - House, I'm...uh...what was I s-saying? Oh yeah! I'm - hic - glad you follered me around...all day...You're a - hic - good friend." he'd said. House had grinned at the expressions his face had made while struggling to find the right words.
Presently, he mirrored that same grin. "How can I be an ass and a good friend, all in the same night?"
"Don't ask me to try and figure out your maze of a brain," Wilson retorted, screwing up his features as if he couldn't remember when exactly he had called him a good friend, causing House's grin to grow.
"Tonight, at the bar," he reminded him. "You were flirting with me."
"I was not flirting."
"You're still flirting. We spent the whole day together. We get here, and you give me a present. And you don't seem to want to leave. Your cheeks are pink. You're flirting."
"What are you doing then?"
"And what might that be called? Does it start with an 'F'?"
"Yes. I'm fighting against your attempts to seduce me."
"Alright. I'm going home." Wilson turned to open the driver's side door. He made to climb inside, but halfway there, he paused. House watched interestedly as he stood there for a second, appearing to be debating something with himself. Then, he turned, walked forward, and pressed a soft kiss to House's cheek. His lips were freezing, but House figured his cheek probably felt the same. He had a sudden urge to brush the snow out of Wilson's hair.
"I had a great time," his best friend said quietly. "Goodnight, House."
There was no trace of a smirk, yet there was no way that could have been real. House raised one eyebrow at him as he climbed into his car and shut the door. The engine started up, and House continued to stare as he began to pull away. Wilson rolled the window down.
"That was flirting," he called, driving away. The smirk was now evident.
House waited until he was far enough away to chuckle to himself. That manipulative bastard.
Glancing down at the little green package he was still holding, he walked up to his front door and let himself inside with a key that was in his pocket. The first thing he did was toss the gift onto his couch, as just simple contact with the thing gave him a very odd, uncomfortable feeling. He never intended to open it.
Once he had changed comfortably into his flanel pajama pants and a concert T-shirt, he headed back to the living room. Standing at the back of the leather couch, he gazed down at the innocent package. Just sitting there. He gingerly picked it up as if it was going to burst into powder the moment it touched his skin. Contemplating, and wanting it quite out of sight, he brought it back to his bedroom with him, thinking that perhaps he could hide it - store it - in the back of his closet. He would most likely be able to come up with a creative, yet cruel way to use it in the future. However, before he stuffed it into one of the shelves, a flash of white caught his eye. It was sticking out from under the red bow tied neatly on top. His curiosity spiked, he pinched the little corner and tugged. It was a note. His blue eyes widened.
Greg, Made me think of you.
Reading those words brought an unexpected reaction. He paused, staring hard at the hand-written note, and couldn't move. A mixture of warmth, guilt, and an odd sense of devastation flooded his stomach. That was definitely Wilson's barely legible handwriting. This was no joke. This wasn't like that little kiss. But maybe he was thinking too much of it. Maybe he was taking it too seriously. What did it mean that these simple words had such an effect on him? He almost wanted to give in to the desire to call Wilson right now, and tell him to come back so he could interrogate his brains out.
For the first time, he wanted to know what was in the package. But that would mean even further acknowledgement of whatever phase Wilson was going through that enabled him to start acting all sweet and caring. And stupid.
To prevent himself from doing it, House opened his closet door, and shoved the gift onto the topmost shelf. He still carried the note in his fist.
Shutting the door with his shoulder, facing his bed, he smoothed out the few crinkles with his thumbs and scrutinized the scrap of paper as if waiting for Wilson himself to pop out and yell, "Now, this is also flirting!" Nothing of the sort happened of course. That is - not right away, it didn't.
"I - I do that a lot."
House nearly fell over in his attempt to whirl around. The note crumpled in his hand.
Wilson was standing there, leaning against the doorframe casually, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. How long had he been there?
"Wilson, what the hell are you doing?" he hissed, allowing his frustration at being caught off-guard show through. But, quickly, he caught up with himself and fell silent at once with the air of a lightbulb fusing out.
Wilson cleared his throat lightly, nodding toward his clenched fist. "That...note."
House merely gazed at him, completely unsure, for once in his life, of what to say. His frustration and irritation evaporated, to be replaced by confusion, curiosity...hope? Maybe. Maybe not. Terror? He wasn't sure, and he didn't know how he felt about that either. He was always sure. Or was it, he was always right?
When he continued to say nothing, Wilson visibly swallowed, and said quietly, "What are you thinking?"
House felt a surge of anger. He had no idea what he was thinking! "Why are you here?" He instantly regretted his harsh tone when Wilson flinched, looking put-out, and attempted to rectify the situation. "Why did you come back?" he asked in a softer tone; he really didn't want Wilson upset with him. That never meant anything good. One could accuse him of being whipped if they wished.
"I'm here because..." Wilson trailed off, his expression clearly displaying nerves. After a moment, he started over. "I'm here because I think about you. Too much. And because you're curious."
"So you knew I would read the note. Contratulations."
His best friend sighed, his eyes focused on the floor, somewhere near House's left foot. "It's not like I planned - I didn't plan anything. I never planned on you bailing me out of jail in New Orleans, I never thought you'd end up the best friend I've ever had, and I never thought I'd - "
"Stop," House interrupted hastily, his heard slamming itself against his ribcage. "Just - Just wait a minute." He raised his fist, and dropped the crumpled note into his free hand (his cane was hanging on the closet doorknob at the moment). Reading the words over again, he raised his eyes to look at Wilson, who was, in turn, looking directly at him now. "This note. It...actually means something."
"That's why you came back?" House was barely able to control the skakiness of his deep voice. "You...thought of me, and figured - "
"No," Wilson said, taking one tiny step forward. "I always think of you."
Something warm and terribly heart-wrenching erupted in the pit of House's stomach, and he was unprepared for it. He sucked in a rapid breath, knowing what it meant. Exactly what it meant. Still didn't mean he was prepared for what was happening. Tears stung his eyes harshly, but he did not dare let them fall or even let them make his gaze watery for longer than a moment. He blinked hard and cleared his throat.
"Wilson...you know what you're doing. You understand - "
"Of course I do," Wilson told him, taking a more noticeable step forward this time, his eyes soft and sad. Almost pleading. "Of course."
Swallowing a tennis ball, House gazed at him desperately, needing to hear more words, and yet hoping there weren't any to be said. He was afraid to walk forward and meet him, he was afraid to say anything, he was afraid of what all this meant and he was afraid of what was going to happen now. Wilson was his best friend. If he didn't have that, what did he have? He couldn't lose -
"Tell me you don't think about me," Wilson interrupted his thoughts with that tone and expression, which both held actual worry and fear, but at the same time, something that could resemble affection and longing, and House's heart hammered even more relentlessly into his rib cage. Without memory of having made a decision, he had crossed the room in two strides, and cupped Wilson's face in both hands. Once he realized how close they were, and that Wilson, in fact, had an extremely light dusting of freckles across his nose, he inhaled and stepped back, but couldn't resist touching him in some way. He ran a hand through the thick brown hair, and then dropped it until he was squeezing the oncologist's own hand.
"In every way known to man," he said hoarsely. "That's...okay?"
Wilson wet his bottom lip, staring intently at him, and placed both of House's hands back on his face. "It's...absurdly okay."
Slowly, he nodded, fascinated with the entire situation, but especially so by the fact that their noses were nearly brushing, and Wilson's eyes were a darker shade of brown than he had originally observed. Although that could be his inner poet speaking, the darker shade symbolizing the intense emotions that not only belonged to Wilson, but to him as well, and they were reflecting. He wondered what his own blue eyes looked like at the moment.
"So it's okay if I..." House trailed off, glancing not-so-subtly at his lips. His long fingers slid up into soft hair, exploring gently.
Wilson leaned into him, and pressed a tender kiss to the corner of his mouth. House did the same, and was honestly not embarrassed to say that his stomach kept clenching painfully with nerves. Wilson kissed his mouth and pulled back. House did the same, his thumb gliding over the tip of his ear. It seemed silly, but that was the first time he'd ever felt that ear. He wanted to feel so much more...He wanted to feel more of his mouth and his tongue, and he wanted to feel the pulse in his neck under his palm, and he wanted to feel his shoulders and his back - just his body in general. What he didn't want was to rush anything, however, so, despite the fact that it would be very easy to press Wilson up against the nearest wall, House merely kissed his mouth a second time, savoring that feeling. They kissed timidly and very softly for a while, their lips just brushing past each other, until Wilson issued a demand that could not be ignored. His firm hands traveled lightly up House's arms, creating goosebumps.
"Kiss me," he said, looking him in the eye, and House had to swallow a tennis ball again because of how familiar that voice was. It was unlike any other voice he'd ever heard, and he wasn't being cliche or biased. He never imagined he would ever hear that command in that voice directed at him. But that certainly didn't stop him. Their lips met once more, and House slid his tongue in between both sets. Wilson moaned somewhere deep in his throat and, soon, their tongues were greeting each other, mapping each other out, and exploring new space.
There were no other sounds in the room other than the sounds of wet kissing, heavy breathing when they parted for air, and small groans from both men. Finally, House broke them apart - this was when it came to his attention just how close they were. Wilson had his arms wrapped firmly around his slim waist, the fingertips on his left hand having slipped underneath the waistband of House's stretchable pajama bottoms, and House had likewise slid one arm inside Wilson's jacket, wrapping it around his waist, while his other hand remained on his face, stroking it and smoothing back his hair.
Wilson looked at him, and House pressed their foreheads together, still breathing rather heavily. "What do you want? No games."
For a moment, Wilson seemed confused, but then he caught on. "I want a relationship with you," he said firmly.
"We already have a relationship, idiot," House responded, trying and failing to ignore the sensation that his heart was expanding past its usual limit.
A corner of Wilson's mouth lifted. "Then, what do you - ?" He stopped and turned pink. Pig pink. He didn't say another word.
"Say it," House urged.
Wilson's cheeks positively flooded with more color. House wasn't sure he'd ever even witnessed this before in all the time they had known each other; Wilson was never embarrassed around him - and he'd seen him fall down a flight of stairs, drunk. Of course, he couldn't blame him. This was total unfamiliar territory.
"Don't go shy on me," House teased him, pecking his mouth quickly. "Adorable as it may be. Your guts seem to have been made of steel up until now."
"House..." Wilson grinned shiftily. He cleared his throat. "Can you...I mean, can we - "
"Seriously. Say it. Channel your inner teenage boy."
Wilson cleared his throat again, and House caught of flash of undefinable emotion in his eyes. "Do me."
House's throat closed up entirely. Once he managed to unstick it, he responded thickly, "How could I say no?"