“See? I told you Cuddy had a heart.”
Greg wasn’t amused. Of all the holidays of which Cuddy would give Greg a break from his strenuous occupation, it couldn’t be Christmas. Thanksgiving. Easter. No, no.
It had to be Valentine’s Day. Which wasn’t even a real holiday, nothing banks and businesses closed their doors for.
He knew she did it just to spite him for his slacking clinic duty. The one day he’d want — no, crave — to doctor up a ten-year-old’s runny nose or cure a restless worker’s raging hemorrhoids, he was stuck at home with no one to kiss, hug, or hold warmly in his arms…except Wilson.
But Greg wasn’t that desperate.
“This is only so she doesn’t have any interruptions while she ravages her sex-retary,” Greg proclaims. James couldn’t help but enjoy a bout of laughter. Though the sole purpose for his presence at Greg’s apartment was to badger him about his lovelorn day, the conversation quickly runs dry…until he spots the freshly-cut bouquet of red roses, waiting patiently on the dining table to deliver a healthy dose of happiness to someone extraordinary.
“Something actually colorful and pretty in your apartment — that’s new,” Wilson refreshes the discussion. Looking over his shoulder at the collection of flowers, Greg follows an adroit smirk with “Do you need the florist’s number? Because you’ll probably need a few cases full for all your wives…”
“Very funny. Seriously, do you intend to give them to a special someone, or were you planning a day of picking the petals off one by one, asking a God you don’t believe in whether Stacy loves you or loves you not?”
Rising from his cushy recliner, Greg paints his face with a mysterious, embarrassed expression as he hobbles over to the dining table. “No, I…uh…”
“I got them for you, my dear, loving James. You are my heart’s one true desire, after all.”
James stands cemented to his spot, speechless.
“That warm, rich cologne you blanket yourself in each morning, those sexy ties you wear…all major turn-ons for me. And you should know I can’t help but fall victim to that sexy figure of yours…”
“All right, all right, all right! I won’t pry,” a cringing James finalizes the conversation as he tightly grips the apartment’s door knob. “But if it does involve someone from the hospital, you know I’ll find out. I have my people.” Wilson delivers a teasing wink as he exits the flat.
Greg knew who the flowers were meant for. But he was aware of all the emotions and feelings that would surface with them, too. Emotions, feelings, sudden bursts of happiness and joy…none of that was his field. He stood in the kitchen doorway, pondering the destiny of the crimson buds. He only assumed it a nice gesture, but even that was a stretch for him. He knew it would be so much easier to hand the spray of blossoms to her and run — well, not run…maybe hobble — but, he knew there would be repercussions, especially at the hospital.
Well…maybe he could avoid her by making up his clinic duty.
He knew what he was asking: the gift without the sentiment. And he knew it didn’t work like that. He knew he felt more. He always had. Their past together showed that. But the present prevented it.
He was damaged. In pain. Stressed. Tired. Aged. Any word you could use in replacement of “lonely”. He didn’t need anyone to hold, comfort and embrace him. He had made it this far without that, and without her; he could survive even longer without any of it, or so he attempted to convince himself.
The key to opening the door between him and her was staring him square in the eyes, waiting to live the remainder of their lives in a delicate vase with water.
It was Greg’s decision to either unlock and open the door with some dignity and hope following him in, or to go on with his lonely, damaged life knowing he never did.
This was his chance.
He was going to take it.
He would either win her heart, or get in, get out, and get on with his life, just as he would at a Chili’s restaurant.
Now was as good a time as any. The “other man” wasn’t there — she was at her apartment alone.
Greg boards his motorcycle, flowers tucked securely in his beaten leather jacket, cane snapped snug in its allotted slot, his black Oakleys shielding his baby blues from the sun, the wind waiting to gracefully intertwine itself through his silver hair. He drives like it’s his last day on Earth, fast enough to get where he’s going, slow enough to think about it all the way there.
This was good. A step towards something good, at least. Alone with his own thoughts was not the ideal location Greg wanted to be, but he at least was given a chance to prepare himself for the best or worst that could happen. The best? She forcefully scoops Greg into her arms and kisses him passionately, revealing the love for him that had lingered within her this whole time. The worst? She still won’t leave that train wreck of a man she’s with.
Greg had made his desires known to her. He’d even made his desires known to that other guy. It wasn’t news hot off the press. But Greg’s sudden drive to pursue it would bring the shock. His motivation to do nothing more than pop an occasional Vicodin and watch his usual soaps was predicted. But go and chase after the woman he loved? That wasn’t on his agenda.
He didn’t care. All of his feelings and inner temptations had brought him to this point — right in front of her apartment building.
The collection of roses seems to absorb and reflect all of his sentiments by shaking incessantly in his hand. But he wasn’t turning back after coming this far.
Even if he did, he was low on gas, and the least thing he needed was to be carrying around a bouquet of flowers around the greased-up slugs at the gas station.
The final trip in the elevator. That much closer to its end. Or its beginning. Who knew at this point? Greg felt like it was the end of everything — almost harder than saying farewell to Stacy as he drifted into his chemically-induced coma following the bypass for his infarction. This time, he couldn’t just drift away and be with himself for a while — he would receive his answer right there and then, and it was up to him to absorb it all, even in his most vulnerable state. But seeing what position he was probably putting her in made him feel a little less sorry for himself. A desperate, crippled, and yes, lonely, man coming up to your door with flowers, silently asking you for your heart - he was putting her on the spot too.
And all this went races through his mind in the time the elevator ascends four floors.
Knock, knock, knock, or bam, bam, bam. Whatever sound a wooden door makes when forcefully banged against by a nervous, sweaty fist. He hears the increasingly loud footsteps, which causes his stomach to do back flips.
The door frame’s paint job needed an update, he notes. Same for the ceiling. Anything to make time slow down a little.
The door knob turns. Greg takes a gigantic breath.
And there she was.
“House? What are you doing here?”
“I…wanted to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day real quick before I…”
Greg had no place to go. His hesitancy shows that. Even the slowness he implements in handing her the bouquet shows it.
“…go back home to your apartment, listen to sorrowful music and pop a few pills?”
Well, nothing got past her, did it?
There is a silence spent exchanging awkward looks and movements.
He had no other place to go. No other place. But he had to leave.
“I’m sorry to bother you…” and he turns to head back towards the elevator.
The grip on his arm stops him.
“Before you go…um…thank you. They are beautiful. Very beautiful.”
He didn’t look back at her.
He didn’t want to reveal the tear that been inching down his worn, rumpled cheek since he had turned away.
Beneath his breath, the words “You’re welcome” slip through. She loosens her grip and lets him go. He boards the elevator and, though Cameron hopes and prays he will, doesn’t come back.
She eases herself into her recliner, examining the roses tenderly. The silence said it all. And it was best left unspoken, really.
She had never felt so loved before.
She stands up, walks into her kitchen and, as she patiently seeks a vase in which to display the beautiful blossoms, one thought goes through her mind.
Don’t tell Wilson.