A/N: And another wonderful ride comes to an end; this one was more like a roller coaster, though. There are absolutely no words to express my appreciation to all of you, and most especially to those who have stuck with this—and me—since the inception of 'The Devil, You Say.' mjf

Both of Wilson's friends turn to him as he enters, puzzled at his early return.

"Everything okay? Forget something?" Cuddy asks.

"Well, yeah, I forgot to give you report, and I'm kinda tired to be driving, and…." Wilson's voice trails off; he looks down at the floor.

In her mind's eye, Cuddy sees him, an eight-year-old boy, swaying back and forth and scuffing his feet as he prepares to make a request he's certain will be turned down. An important request.

"I pretty much got report figured out from your notes," she tells him. "And… uh… that's what cellphones are for, I think. But if you're too tired to drive, that's another matter entirely. I'm gonna go fix some breakfast for House; I'll let you two figure this out."

Wilson still hasn't looked up, and now he actually is scuffing his foot on the floor; Cuddy smiles and takes pity on him. "Do me a favor, and join House for breakfast. I've already eaten, and it wouldn't be much fun for him to eat alone."

Wilson finally looks up, and over at House, who leans towards him and whispers conspiratorially, "Hey, tell 'er you want your eggs fried."

Wilson relaxes just a little, and says to Cuddy, "You heard the man; fry 'em."

As Cuddy heads to the kitchen, House says to Wilson, "Gonna stand there all day? You're missing yesterday's General Hospital."

Wilson appreciates that both Cuddy and House have recognized that he feels ill at ease, and are trying to make it easier for him. But since House had interrupted his conversation with Cuddy, Wilson's discomfort at having been overheard by House hasn't abated. He wonders how much House had heard. And, while he wants to be happy that House doesn't resent his interference, he's not certain he believes it yet. And there's one more thing.

Wilson sits down in the chair, glances at House, and then away. He fidgets with his car keys, puts them in his pocket, removes them, fidgets some more.

"Something on your mind?" House asks, keeping his eyes trained on the TV screen.

"No," Wilson says. House nods without comment. But when Wilson starts tossing the keys hand to hand, and then adds the rhythmic tapping of his left foot on the floor, House sighs and mutes the television.

"So why don't you tell me what's not on your mind," he says to Wilson.

"Probably shouldn't be driving today; I'm really tired."

"Stating the obvious, glad we got that out of the way, always the hardest part," House says, but his tone isn't unkind.

"Well, I was thinking… my day off, right?" House nods patiently. "And I'm supposed to relax, do what I want to do." He looks hopefully at House.

Again House only nods; he's looking mildly amused—a benevolent cat with a mouse he has no intention of harming—but he has no intention of helping the mouse escape, either.

"See, it's like this, uh, I'd kinda like to… uh… just stay here. At… umm… home. If that's okay."

Now House isn't bothering to try to hide his amusement at Wilson's discomfiture. "Let me get this straight. Cuddy's given you a day off from me. And you want to spend it with… me. Not for medical reasons. Not 'cause Cuddy might need you for backup like the other day. Just because I'm such wonderful company?" House smirks at him.

"Yeah, that would be it," Wilson retorts sarcastically, as something inside him slips comfortably back into place. Yeah, that would be it. Can't think of a better place—or a better person—to spend a little free time with.

Cuddy enters the living room with their breakfast, and Wilson moves over to sit next to House on the couch. As soon as Cuddy's back is turned, House reaches over to spear some fried egg from Wilson's plate. He turns the volume back up on the TV, and starts explaining the convoluted plot to Wilson. After the second glorious food heist—which Wilson is, of course, obligated not to notice—Wilson casually picks up his plate so that it's out of House's reach, and tries to hide his smile.

House is so involved in trying to explain the TV show that he doesn't seem to be aware that he's actually eating his breakfast. But Wilson is very much aware, and exaggerates his reactions to House's comments, hoping to keep House engaged in the conversation, and not in the process of eating. It isn't until House's plate is empty, and House is shouting to Cuddy for a refill on his coffee, that Wilson allows his grin to widen. When House looks at him quizzically, Wilson indicates House's empty plate, his empty cup.

House grins too, and when Cuddy enters with the coffee pot, he says to her, "Hey, look mom! Finally made it into the Clean Plate Club."

Cuddy laughs. She picks up the empty plate, and the look of satisfaction on her face is unmistakable. "Keep this up, and we'll be able to run the TPN only at night," she tells House.

"Let's not get carried away just yet," Wilson says in his doctor voice. "It's only one meal, and--" He cuts himself off quickly when he sees that both House and Cuddy are glaring at him. "Sorry?" he offers, abashed. "Didn't mean to contradict the physician on duty, and I certainly didn't mean to take away from the accomplishment of finishing a meal, and… and… okay, I'll just shut up now," he finishes, lamely, when he sees that they're both still glaring at him.

"Shutting up; good plan. 'Cuz I can always fire you," House mutters darkly, but there's affectionate amusement in his eyes, and they all realize that he really has begun to reach acceptance, finally, in his years-long grieving process.

"You can't fire me," Wilson chances. "Took you too long to break me in; who else would put up with you?"

"Any doctor would be honored to have such a complex case, such an informed patient!" House protests.

"Doctor? Go ahead and fire me from that; give it back to Cuddy. I was talking about the position of best friend," Wilson says challengingly.

"Some best friend you are," House gripes. "Complaining all the time about having to buy me lunch, and the way I talk to patients, and the way I don't talk to patients, and the way I drive, and even accusing me of stealing your food, and--"

"House…." Cuddy warns.

Wilson's laughing. "No, let 'im go," he tells her. "Every insult he throws at me is just more proof of my job security. Who else would be insane enough to want it?"

"Got a point," Cuddy concedes, looking meaningfully at House, who's busy trying to come up with more insults.

Cuddy, Wilson, and House look at each other, and the three of them begin to laugh. And if House's laughter is a little louder, a little more forced than that of the other two, no one notices. And that's a good thing, House reflects, as he continues to laugh his way through the sudden sharp spasm in his left thigh. Because there's no damned way I'm gonna ruin their moment of triumph now. Something tells me they're really here for the long haul. I might mention it tomorrow.

And the genuine laughter of his self-made family continues past his pain.

A/N: Umm… sorry. But see, they still have three weeks off, so I had to leave something unresolved if this is gonna become a trilogy… didn't I? mjf