Wilson couldn’t remember the last time he was alone on Valentine’s Day. It must have been in early high school, but even then, he recalled girls, faces filled with pimples just like his own, lashes enhanced with a bit too much mascara, and cheap flowers and chocolates that he could afford.

The first Valentine date he can remember clearly was with Adrianne Larsen, who had pretty blue eyes which Wilson had to remind himself to look into, rather than staring at the impressive chest a little bit further down. He was a senior in high school, she a junior, and he had taken her to The Tavern, which was his hometown’s most expensive restaurant. The dinner cleared out his savings account, but at the time, he thought it was money well spent, since he had been allowed to touch Adrianne’s boobs and other naughty places of hers that night.

Countless Valentine’s Days had passed since. Wives had passed, girlfriends even more so. He didn’t want to think about how much money had been spent on gifts – often jewellery – flowers and chocolate, each gift trying to outdo the previous to show the woman in question that she was special.

For some reason, Valentine’s Day was the one holiday Wilson had never spent with House, he realized suddenly. He could only assume that House hated the holiday with as much passion as he seemed to hate every other holiday, or day for that matter. However, they had spent Christmases together, and Independence Days, and Thanksgivings, and House hated those too, so that didn’t explain the lack of Valentine-House.

He wondered what House was doing on this particular night. Probably watching TV and drinking himself into oblivion, as he was wont to do, especially on holidays. Wilson wondered what House would say if he came over – had House too realized that they always spent Valentine’s Days apart? A part of him doubted it – it was a stupid holiday after all, nothing House cared about – but the other part, the part that wanted to go over there, wanted House to have realized, and wanted House to understand the significance of Wilson wanting to spend Valentine’s Day with him, had some secret hopes stashed away. They were quickly shut down, together with any feelings on the matter. He didn’t leave his bed. He didn’t dare; he couldn’t risk their friendship like that.

The hotel room felt cold and dull. The walls were pastel, but they felt grey. Outside, darkness had descended over Princeton, as Wilson pretended to rest on the bed. It was only pretence, because his mind couldn’t relax. He knew that Valentine’s Day was only a holiday invented by Hallmark, or perhaps the chocolate makers, to get him to spend money, but he still felt more alone on this particular night, than on other nights.

There was a knock on the door. Wilson glanced at the alarm clock – it was 10:34, so it was far too late for it to be housekeeping or any other hotel business.

He stood up and walked the short distance to the door. Just as he was about to open it, another series of knocks were fired off, and Wilson’s heart beat a little faster, knowing the impatience of those knocks just a little too well.

When he opened the door, he found House with his hand raised for a third knock.

“Took you long enough,” House grumbled.

Then he took a step forward and pressed his lips against Wilson’s. Wilson’s eyes were wide with shock, and he didn’t have the presence of mind to close them and enjoy the kiss. Instead, he just stood there, hands hanging down his sides and his mind empty. House’s lips were warm against his own, warm and hot and slightly wet. The tip of House’s tongue flicked out, teasing him.

Then House pulled back, breaking the kiss in the same sudden way that he had started it.

“Huh,” he said, and then turned and hobbled down the corridor, away from Wilson.

Wilson stared dazedly at House’s retreating back, all the while trying his best to get his head back on track. He played through the events of the last few seconds and even pinched his own arm to see if he had fallen asleep and was having a bizarre – but lovely, he had to amend – dream.

It seemed it wasn’t a dream – but House had now turned the corner of the corridor and had thereby disappeared. Wilson knew with sudden clarity that if he didn’t catch up with House now, then House would pretend that whatever had just happened never happened, and Wilson would go for the rest of his life without another kiss from House.

He only barely had the presence of mind to reach into the hotel room to grab his keys, and then he ran after House.

The elevator was on the ground floor already, and Wilson knew House was too. Waiting for the elevator to come up took too long, and instead, Wilson flew down the stairs.

The lobby was empty – it was late night in the middle of the week, and the hotel wasn’t busy. Wilson ran through it, and headed out the front doors.

House was just getting on his motorcycle.

“Are you insane?”

The words left Wilson’s mouth before he had much time to think, but when he did think about it, he figured it was as good a start as any.

House glanced at him, as though he’d known all along that Wilson would come running after him into the chilly February night. But Wilson thought he saw something, an unusual something, in House’s clear blue eyes.

“Possibly,” House shrugged. “I’ve been called worse, though.”

“By other men who you’ve simply gone up to and kissed?” Wilson asked.

“Admittedly, no, but that’s probably just because I usually pay them.”

House gave him a cheeky grin that wasn’t as sure as it normally would be. Wilson realized that House was nervous, and that was a kind of pleasant first. He didn’t think he’d ever made House nervous before. It was a bit intoxicating, the power he suddenly felt – but then he knew that the very same power could crush House if he wasn’t careful.

Wilson wasn’t certain if he wanted to believe that House had hired male hookers, but it was probably true, if House did it both ways.

“So what was that all about?”

House fidgeted, and leaned against his motorbike. “It’s Valentine’s Day.”

“It’s been Valentine’s Day a whole lot of other times and you’ve never come and kissed me before,” Wilson said.

Wilson wondered if House was answering Wilson’s prayers – did he realize that they’d never spent Valentine’s Day together?

House muttered something intelligible.

“What?” asked Wilson, frowning, because he hadn’t heard a word of what House had just said. He stepped closer, but they were still a good ten feet apart. It felt as though Wilson was nearing a wild animal, and any sudden movements would scare the animal off.

House glared at Wilson. “You need a hearing aid.”

“That wasn’t what you said,” Wilson said.

“No shit,” House said, in that grumpy voice that reminded Wilson of a child in his terrible two’s. “I said you’ve always had someone else before.”

Wilson’s eyebrows rose. He hadn’t thought House would dare to come out and say it.

He took a few hesitant steps closer to House.

“So was this just to cheer me up?” Wilson asked, slight smile on his lips.

“Yeah, ‘cause I always kiss my friends just to cheer them up,” House said.

“Luckily then, that you don’t have all that many friends.”

“Because I’m such a nice guy.”

Wilson chuckled. “You’re not so bad.”

House stilled, looking at Wilson with wide eyes. They weren’t quite so blue in the street light’s yellow glow, but they were lovely either way. Wilson wondered how long House had been waiting for Wilson to be alone on Valentine’s Day, or if it was simply a coincidence. He hoped it was the latter, because otherwise, they’d wasted a great deal of time.

Wilson took House’s hands in his own, letting them warm him, because he was standing outside in socks, pants and a thin shirt. He stepped closer, into House’s personal space and embrace, and let House’s arms wrap around him.

This time, Wilson initiated the kiss – and he remembered to close his eyes. He smiled against House’s lips. “Took you long enough.”

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