Gregory House had been dreading Christmas.
Who in his situation wouldn't? How is a person supposed to tell his mother that he's living with a woman half his age and her infant child fathered by another man?
But in spite of his many, many misgivings, Cameron insisted that he allow his mother to come for Christmas. Her brother and his wife were coming too, she had told him. The more the merrier, right?
It took him another glass of scotch before he could respond to that.
But damn it, she made it so impossible to refuse her anything when she looked at him with those big eyes of hers.
Fine, but I'm not cooking anything, he'd said.
Her eyes had sparkled so brightly. I'm sure your mother will be happy to help.
He wasn't quite sure how he'd managed to survive the day. His mother, Cameron, and her sister-in-law had been in the kitchen all morning, their feminine laughter constantly drifting into the living room where he and Jim sat watching TV.
He and Cameron's brother didn't talk much—House doubted they had much in common, and besides, the man seemed pretty intent on playing with his infant niece. Less intent once Eleanor needed a diaper change, of course. Then the bastard handed the baby to House.
Considering the fact that House was technicall not father, he had changed far too many diapers.
He couldn't lie to himself though—he adored the kid. As a general rule, kids were pretty annoying. But Eleanor couldn't actually talk yet, which helped. And, honestly, not many people were nearly as happy to see him as she always was. Every time Eleanor saw him, she smiled and reached for him. Even House had a hard time resistin that.
But after a few diaper changes, a lot of noise from the kitchen, and one tasty meal, he'd gotten through the day. All family members had been removed to their respective hotels, and Cameron was putting the baby to sleep. It was the first quiet moment he'd had since waking up that morning.
Cameron smiled as she reentered the living room, sitting down in her customary place by House's side. "So?" she asked playfully. "Was it as bad as you expected?"
"Worse," House grumbled, and Cameron kissed his cheek.
"Then thank you for behaving," she told him. "For my sake."
"It was a big sacrifice," he insisted, eyes beginning to twinkle. "I think you owe me."
She grinned. "Let me guess. Bedroom?" But before Cameron could get up, House grabbed her hand, keeping her on the couch with him.
"I have another gift for you," he told her, and she looked at him strangely.
"Something important enough to delay sex?" she teased gently. "Lingerie?" she guessed. "Toy? Handcuffs?"
House smiled slightly. "Now that you mention it..." he joked, trailing off. "But no. Nothing like that."
She frowned slightly in her confusion, but her voice was gentle. "What, then?" she asked.
He reached into his pocket for a tiny package, something he'd been saving until after everyone else had gone. He placed it in her hand.
Cameron peeled the paper away slowly, enjoying the suspense as she always did. But when the tiny box opened to reveal a diamond ring, she was silent, staring first at the ring and then at him.
House had felt so confident before, but now he was afraid. It was the first time it occurred to him that she might say no.
He took a deep breath. "This is how you can make it up to me. Marry me."
Cameron finally seemed to find her voice. "But Greg…" She seemed at a loss. "Are you sure? We haven't even been together a year, and with the baby I thought—"
He stilled her lips with a finger, and then reached for her hand. "Allison," he began, "We've known each other for a long time now. We've worked together, we've argued, we've had amazing sex." He paused a moment to smirk at that, but quickly turned serious. "I don't need more time, Allison. We've wasted enough time already."
He took a shaky breath. This was harder than he'd realized it would be. "I want to be Eleanor's father," he finally told her. "I want you to be my wife. I don't just want to live together. That isn't enough. Not anymore."
Cameron's eyes shone. "Okay," she said softly, and smiled. "I'll marry you."
The ring completely forgotten, she leaned over to kiss him, first gently and then passionately.
When House finally pulled away, he grinned. "Now he bedroom," he told her.
Afterwards, House lay content with a sleeping Allison Cameron in his arms. It really hadn't been such a terrible Christmas after all.
Might have even been the best one yet.
Garrus was very, very confused when he exited the main battery first thing in the morning.
He made his way down the corridor slowly and cautiously. What were all these small red… boot things(?) doing hanging on the walls? They were each labeled with the name of a crew member. He peeked inside one of them. Candy. In a boot. A soft, bright red boot with fuzzy trim.
And then he noticed the lights. Strange little lights that hung from a string, blinking in bright colors. It was too early to even try to understand this.
When he entered the mess hall, it got even weirder. Why were there plants indoors? Decorated plants. Who would decorate a plant? And where would they get a tree in the middle of space anyways?
It got worse. There was some kind of fluffy white stuff covering the floor of the mess hall. None of this made any sense at all. He saw Tali at the table and headed over to sit by her. Maybe she would know what was going on.
Tali gave him a nod in acknowledgement as he sat down beside her. "Any idea what's going on?" he asked her.
All she did was shrug. "No idea," she said wearily. "Must be some weird human thing."
"Must be," he agreed.
Garrus munched some breakfast as others slowly filtered in, watching them to see how they reacted. Some seemed annoyed, others confused, and a few smiled. He heard a few words he didn't know the meaning of, but didn't ask. He was just going to let the crazy humans do their thing.
And then Shepard came in.
"Merry Christmas!" she cried out with a wide grin. There were those words again.
She was decked out in a strange suit that matched the boots down the hallway, with a tiny N7 logo stitched on the shoulder. Slung over her back was a bulky sack that she dropped next to the table.
"What in the Goddess' name is Christmas?" Liara asked as she approached, looking just as confused as Garrus felt.
"It's a holiday back on Earth," Cortez helpfully cut in, coming up behind the commander. "People give gifts and spend time with the people they care about."
Garrus looked around the room. That explained why many of the crew didn't seem as cheerful as Shepard did—they'd rather be with family, if they even knew where their families were right now. The war had thrown things into total chaos. Garrus himself didn't know if his dad and sister were okay.
Shepard's voice interrupted his reverie. "Gather around everyone!" she called out. "I'm going to tell a story to explain the meaning of Christmas."
He heard James groan as he sat down, Cortez elbowing him in the ribs. A few lower-ranked crewmen managed to escape, but most of them were stuck, a captive audience This will be fun, arrus thought sarcastically.
Shepard cleared her throat, and everyone gave her their attention. She was obviously loving this. "Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…"
"…Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!" she finished, looking extremely self-satisfied, in spite of the lack of enthusiasm in her audience.
"We done?" James asked rudely, earning himself a glare from the commander.
"No," she told him. "Now it's time for presents."
James visibly brightened, but Garrus felt wary. "Do we really have to do this, Shepard?" he finally asked. "I still don't understand what this holiday is about. The fat guy in a red suit? Whit stuff n the floor? What kind of weapon is a 'missle-toe'?"
Shepard shook her head at him. "You're such a grinch, Garrus."
He threw his hands in the air. "I'm not even going to ask what that one means."
Shepard started pulling things from the bag, but Garrus wasn't paying much attention anymore. Humans were so weird.
And then she was standing in front of him, holding out a beautiful shiny new Widow sniper rifle.
He stared. "This is for me?" he finally asked.
Shepard grinned and shrugged. "It's Christmas," she said simply.
Garrus reached out for the Widow and stroked it reverently, everything else forgotten.
"I love Christmas!"
Typos are courtesy of LiveJournal. They can't manage to import my text properly, apparently. It keeps removing letters and punctuation marks.