He was born only ten minutes earlier, but whenever he visited Danny, Wilson always felt much, much older.
Today, Danny was sitting in his overstuffed reclining chair, staring vacantly out the window. The blue jeans and t-shirt he wore were hanging off him, his fingers picking absentmindedly at the knees of his jeans. His shoulder-length hair had grey streaks, but looked clean and healthy, and Wilson could smell Danny’s favorite Old Spice aftershave from the doorway.
He stood silently for several minutes and then walked over to stand beside his brother. He gazed out at the street directly below Danny’s second story bedroom, wondering what Danny saw.
“Hi, Danny,” Wilson said softly.
Eyes identical to his own, but seemingly years older, turned slowly and looked up at him.
“Jimmy,” Danny said quietly, his voice low and scratchy. A small smile revealed the deep dimple on his right cheek and the less defined one on his left, exactly the opposite of Wilson’s. “Is it Wednesday again?” he asked in his gentle voice. He looked behind Wilson. "Where's House?"
"Yeah, it's Wednesday, but just me today, little brother," Wilson explained as he pulled the room’s desk chair over beside the recliner and sat down. “How was your week?” he asked.
A slight lift of the thin shoulders was his only answer.
“They tell me you’re on new medication,” Wilson offered, still talking in a low, soothing voice. “Is it helping?”
“Guess,” Danny sighed and turned his attention back to the window.
“That…that’s good” Wilson replied.
“Guess,” Danny repeated.
Wilson took a deep breath. “I might not be able to see you again for a while, Dan,” he said.
Danny turned back and looked at Wilson, his eyes narrowing. “How long?” he asked, a slight frown on his face.
Wilson swallowed and cleared his throat. “I don’t really know. I’m going on a trip with House.”
Danny smiled at him and Wilson felt his heart swell. “That’s nice, Jimmy. House is funny. You’ll have a nice time.”
He looked out the window a moment and then turned back to Wilson.
“Will you bring me back a souvenir?” He actually grinned, revealing both dimples to their full depth, something Wilson had not seen for more than a dozen years.
Wilson grinned back. “Like the ones we used to get when Mom and Dad went to medical conventions?”
“Yeah,” Danny said. “Maybe a calculator or a ball point pen?” he said, laughing softly, his brown eyes shining.
“Remember when we got the desk sets?” Wilson laughed, enjoying the way his brother seemed so much like his old self right then.
“That was so weird,” Danny replied softly. “We didn’t even have desks!”
“Yeah,” Wilson grinned. "I still can’t believe you threw yours out the window!”
“It just seemed like it’d be really aerodynamic. It wanted to fly,” Danny smiled.
“Mom was really mad!” Wilson grinned. “Remember how she made us chase those calendar pages all the way down the block!”
“And then she made us apologize to Dad for ruining the set,” Danny answered.
A frown creased his forehead as he struggled with the memory. “What’d Dad say? I can’t remember,” he growled, angry with himself.
Wilson reached out and placed a hand on his brother’s forearm, rubbing it softly. “It’s okay, Danny. I do.”
Danny looked at him and smiled again.
Wilson smiled back. “He said we should’ve saved it for Grandpa and Grandma’s farm. He said it would have sailed for at least half a mile if we threw it out of the hayloft!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” Danny nodded. He turned back to the window, the smile still on his face. “Half a mile,” he said quietly and his eyes slowly wandered back to the action outdoors, the smile disappearing.
Wilson’s smile slipped away as he watched Danny lose himself in the view outside again. He shook his head and pulled his hand from his brother’s arm.
Then he stood up and moved to stand between Danny’s legs; he knelt and pulled the frail form into his arms.
“I love you, Danny,” he whispered, squeezing the unresisting form.
He felt Danny nod and then the thin arms wrapped around him, giving him a gentle hug back. “Love you, Jimmy. You and me, right?” the soft voice asked.
Wilson looked up at the ceiling to staunch the tears that threatened to fall and held on for another minute before pulling away. “Yeah, Bro, you and me,” he forced himself to answer.
He stood and looked down at the gentle smile on Danny's face as those brown eyes searched his face intently. “You okay, Jimmy?” Danny asked quietly.
Wilson reached out and stroked a thin cheekbone, then placed a hand on Danny’s head. “Sure, Danny,” he said, ruffling the soft hair. “I’m fine.”
Danny reached up and pushed Wilson’s hand off his head. “Don’t do that,” he ordered softly.
Wilson smiled sadly and put his hand down. Messing each other’s hair had always been one way they showed how much they loved each other. But the one on the receiving end of the ruffling always pretended to hate it.
“Sorry,” Wilson said, backing away. “I, uh, I gotta go now,” he murmured.
“Okay,” Danny replied. “See you next week?"
“Danny, I told you, I’m going on a trip with House,” Wilson reminded him.
“Oh, yeah, and you’ll bring me a souvenir, right?” he smiled again.
“Yeah, little brother,” Wilson choked out. “When I see you again, I’ll give you the best souvenir ever.”
“But no desk set, right?” Danny grinned.
“No, no desk set,” Wilson smiled sadly.
As he put the desk chair back he noticed a new picture of Aaron’s family sitting on the fireplace mantle that held a portrait of their parents, a shot of House and Wilson in tuxes, and a Wilson family portrait taken when the twins were 12-years-old and Aaron was 18. He knew his parents had given Danny the family pictures and House had given him the PPTH fundraiser photo for Hanukkah last year.
Wilson smiled to himself. Their older brother had called last Friday to say he would try to visit Danny regularly on Sundays. Apparently, he had kept that promise, at least last Sunday.
Wilson was glad; Danny would need someone else now.
He looked back at his brother who was staring out the window again.
“Bye, little brother,” Wilson said quietly.
“Bye, older brother,” Danny mumbled, lost in the outdoors once more.
“I love you,” Wilson whispered and left the room, pulling the door shut silently behind him.
He met no one on the way out of the group home their parents had placed Danny in last year when he was released from the local halfway house. Danny’s doctors were encouraged by his progress and there was talk of home visits soon.
Wilson closed the outside door and leaned against it, squeezing his eyes shut to stem the flow of tears.
“You okay?” a gruff voice asked quietly.
He opened his eyes to find his best friend watching him intently.
Wilson nodded, wiped his eyes, and walked down the steps to House who was sitting on his motorcycle, glasses and helmet still on to hide his identity.
“Thanks, House,” Wilson said. “I couldn’t leave without seeing him one more time. He and I…we were…so close.”
“I know, Wilson,” House said gently. “I understand.”
Wilson smiled gratefully and walked over to his own bike. He picked up his new biker jacket and slipped it on, then zipped it up. After putting on his sunglasses, he strapped on his helmet and turned to House who stared at him for a second, taking in the scruffy beard and blue jeans.
“Bitchin’,” he grinned.
"Let’s roll,” Wilson smiled sadly.
A few moments later, the two men turned the corner next to the group home and Wilson looked over and up. He saw his brother staring at him through his bedroom window and smiled, then waved, one last time. “Bye, Danny,” he whispered.
Danny Wilson waved once as his brother and House drove away, a single tear rolling down his face.
Aaron had told him the truth about Jimmy.
“Bye, Jimmy,” he whispered. “See you.”