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A Temporary Insanity

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“So, happy Valentine’s Day.”

House snorted and shoveled another forkful of eggs into his mouth. “And here I thought you’d forgotten,” he retorted with a mock sob. “I got you a 25-foot tapeworm, but I’m afraid I left it in the office.” House’s cane inched out into the aisle just long enough to trip a waiter carrying a tray of water glasses. The waiter let out a yelp, but managed to keep his balance. He refused to give House the satisfaction of a glare as he passed; House pouted in response.

Wilson fought not to smile; it wasn’t every day that someone beat House at his own game by turning the other cheek. “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a tapeworm,” he concluded, carefully cutting his pancakes into neat little squares so that House couldn’t see that Wilson was not so secretly laughing at him.

“It comes straight from the heart…or, rather, from my last patient’s intestines. But, really, who bothers to keep track of these things?”

“The thing that touches me the most, I think, is the time and effort you put into your presents,” Wilson commented with false nostalgia. “Remember that time you gave me six months of your paperwork for my birthday?”

“Your lips said ‘no,’ but your eyes said ‘take me, you big hunky jerk!’” House’s own lips were threatening to curve into a smile now. “One of these days, you really need to get over your whole ‘bad boy’ obsession.”

“Too true. Mother always warned me, but did I listen?” Wilson shook his head ruefully. “It’s one of the great tragedies of my life.”

“Speaking of which, where’s my present?”

Wilson swallowed his bite of pancakes before pointing his fork at House in an accusing manner. “If I get you a present, that would mean that I’m your Valentine.”

“Does not.”

“Does so.”

“I can’t just be an ass and demand presents every time Hallmark jacks up their prices?”

Wilson rolled his eyes at the frankly ridiculous pleading expression House had put on. “No.”

“Aww, you’re no fun. Maybe I don’t want you to be my Valentine after all.”

“Does this mean that tapeworm won’t be appearing in my office in the near future?”

“You wish.”

“Oh, House.” Wilson pretended to brush aside a tear, just for added drama. “You do love me!”

They got an odd look from the customers at the next table in response to Wilson’s very unheartfelt declaration. House gave them a jaunty little wave for eavesdropping, and they quickly returned to their plates in order to better pretend that they weren’t listening.

“Heaven only knows why,” House responded to Wilson after he’d successfully intimidated all those in his vicinity into leaving him alone. “You’re such a pain to put up with.” He offered Wilson a secretive little grin over the brim of his coffee mug.

Wilson smirked back. “Whereas you’re such a people person.”

“I am well-known for my generosity and kindness.” House was coughing into his coffee now he was laughing so hard. “Unlike some people, who didn’t even bother to get me a present.”

“I’m paying for breakfast,” Wilson pointed out.

“Like there was ever any doubt about that.” House shook his head stubbornly. “Nope, doesn’t count.”

“What about the clear conscience that goes with knowing that I prevented you from committing dangerous, unnecessary, and entirely selfish spinal surgery upon a patient?” Wilson replied loftily.

“No fair. You get to take away my nerve biopsy, and that counts as a present?”

“Absolutely. Totally fair.”

House narrowed his eyes. “How so?”

“In compensation, I’m stuck being your Valentine,” Wilson concluded with a triumphant whirl of his toast.

House considered that for a moment. “Fine, you win.” He stabbed a sausage with almost frightening brutality. “But I’m not putting out.”

“On Valentine’s Day? That’s harsh.”

“I’m a total bastard,” House agreed. “But I have such dreamy blue eyes.”

“I am all a-swoon,” Wilson said in the driest tone of voice he could manage.

“It’s all settled then,” House concluded with satisfaction.

“Oh?” Wilson finished his coffee and watched House unscrew the lid to the sugar jar.

“You’ll just have to remain in mad, unrequited love with me for another year. I’ll do everything I can to ease your pining.”

“You’re too kind.”

House returned the sabotaged sugar jar to the rest of the condiments and eyed Wilson’s empty coffee mug. Obviously, he was on his worst behavior this morning, just for Wilson. “Are we all set to go then?”

Wilson grunted and eased his way out of the booth. “You want a ride home or back to the hospital?” he asked, averting his eyes as House made his more difficult escape from his seat.

“Home. You can drive me in on Monday, since you forgot to get me anything for Valentine’s Day and all.” House finally got to his feet and sorted his cane out properly.

Wilson left an extra large tip to compensate for House’s earlier crack to the waitress about whether melons were in season; he’d become something of an expert over the years at paying for House’s offenses. The two of them got a very pointed glare from the buxom blonde in question as they exited the restaurant. Almost instantly, their table was seized upon as if their presence couldn’t be erased quickly enough.

House loitered in the doorway, fiddling with his gloves, while Wilson settled their bill. “Any plans for this afternoon?”

Wilson gave him a slightly incredulous look and signed on the dotted line. “Sleep?”

House snorted and glanced anxiously over Wilson’s shoulder. Now he was most definitely stalling… “Fine. This evening?”

“More sleep?”

A crash and some frustrated swearing sounded from behind him. Wilson didn’t even have to turn around to know that the new customers at their table had tried to use the sugar.

“Spoil sport,” House retorted and headed out the door in as close to a run as House could manage.

Wilson looked over his shoulder to see the waitress, hands clenched into fists, barreling towards them like an angry mother elephant. Discretion being the better part of valor – especially when one was friends with House – he ran for it too.

“You are such an ass,” he informed House as they all but fled into his car, but he could no longer succeed in keeping the amused, frustrated, and hopelessly affectionate smile off of his face.

House’s lips quirked into his own little smirk as he set his cane down neatly between the door and seat. “Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too.”