There's something Wilson understands better than House, which is why this morning is his responsibility. He realised that the moment his eyes flickered open and took in his surroundings and now, stretching the night's kinks out of his muscles, he wonders how on Earth he's going to get them safely to work without a scene. That's his role. He doesn't know if he can live up to it.

His toes curl against the freshly laundered sheets. The pillows smell clean and are luxuriously comfy. And, most tellingly of all, there are no dirty clothes strewn all over the room. Wilson can't stop the smile that creeps onto his lips as he realises House must have been planning this for days, maybe even weeks.

Last night was utterly under House's control, right down to the tiniest of details – from the out of the blue dinner invitation, the ironed shirt and the awkward embrace on the doorstep right down to the expensive French wine at the kitchen table and the making-out on the couch. It was House who persuaded him to stay the night, mostly by filling him with so much alcohol he could barely steer himself, never mind his car, and it was House who reasoned that if he was going to stay anyway, he might as well go the whole hog and sleep in the bed. And from there the only logical step, at their stage of inebriation, was desperate, fumbling sex with the light still on and House's bad leg still trapped in his jeans for convenience's sake.

Wilson wondered, briefly, before his eyes finally flickered shut, whether he would regret it in the morning. Even now he isn't sure. The light is still on, but House must have managed to free himself from the last of his clothing during the night. Outside the still-parted curtains, dawn is reluctantly breaking. Without looking at the clock Wilson knows it's a little after five and there's no chance of him snoozing any longer.

He congratulates his own ninja stealth as he gathers his clothes and creeps into the bathroom without waking House. He showers carefully and doesn't dare dry his hair with anything noisier than a towel. House probably won't bother trying to understand why, but Wilson knows he will appreciate the sentiment. His mind is racing as he dresses in yesterday's shirt and tie – will anyone notice? Is it obvious? Will House blab the instant they set foot over the hospital threshold? Wilson tells himself it doesn't matter, but he hasn't caught his own eye in the mirror this morning.

Breakfast. That's the important thing. There's only one detail – besides him – that all three of his ex-wives have in common, and that's their first breakfast together. If he wants things to go smoothly with House, he knows the rule; have breakfast ready and waiting, smile throughout, don't read the paper when you could be making small-talk, and offer to wash up. That last one is a no-brainer, he muses, but the rest is important.

He moves easily round the kitchen, frying bacon with one hand while he fixes coffee with the other. The tiles are warm under his bare feet, and he doesn't have to think twice about the contents of each cupboard. House's apartment is a home from home, and he begins to relax as the routine of cooking washes over him like a lullaby, soothing away his worries with a gentle, familiar rhythm. Only one niggle remains at the back of his mind, nestled under his cerebellum and grating slightly against the inside of his skull; he doesn't want to marry House, even if he could. He doesn't know what he wants, but he isn't going down that route again.

Nevertheless, breakfast comes together on the dining table. Wilson loves the smell of breakfast, perhaps because it's associated with the start of the day, before anything has a chance to go wrong or blow up in his face. As the epilogue to a good night's sleep, the breakfast table is the final resting place for last night's issues – it's where you decide what, and how, problems from yesterday are going to effect you today. Wilson likes the illusion of control even more than he likes the real thing.

This morning is fully under his control. He understands the one thing House doesn't, which is why he has a mug of coffee ready to press into his friend's hand as soon as he limps into the kitchen.

"Uh," says House.

Wilson's lips twitch. "Sleep well?"


The bacon turns its fevered sizzling up a notch, and Wilson flicks the gas off, reaches for a pair of tongs to fish the rashers out of the miniature hell of the frying pan. Four buttered slices are already laid out on the breadboard, a bottle of ketchup standing by. Behind him the fridge opens, closes, and there's the unmistakable sound of milk added to cereal. House likes to let the milk soak in before he'll touch it.

"You, uh…"

Wilson smiles at the bacon, can't look at House yet. Any minute now his friend will remember how to make coherent noises, and they'll have to talk, or avoid talking, or talk about talking. Wilson knows how to field this one when he's dealing with women, but this time could be a little more difficult. He knows what he wants to say, but doesn't know whether the words he needs exist or not.

He's got to get it right. This is his field of expertise. This is his job. House is good at the puzzle – the what, where and why. It has taken him decades, but he's finally diagnosed whatever it is he and Wilson have between them, and he's acted, and it's worked. Where Wilson comes into his own is the aftermath. He has spent every day of his career helping to piece together the fragments of shattered lives, and now he has to hold together his own.

For House, the entire story is all about the twist in the penultimate chapter – the whole point of the symphony is the scherzo. Wilson knows the crucial moment of any book is the final page, where the plot ebbs away into the sunset like a distant memory, and the characters design new routines for themselves, or revert back to old ones. If the author signs off on the wrong note, the entire book is ruined – irreparable. When the silence falls, the final echoes must be perfect.

He's lost in thought when House grips his hips, tugs him close from behind. The lips pressing against his earlobe are rough and dry, but a tingle of arousal runs through him anyway. House is murmuring something, a question maybe, but Wilson can't figure out what it is. He nods anyway, and the embrace tightens, one hand sliding down his thigh then back up, the gesture stunning in its gentleness. Apparently nodding was the right thing to do.

When those lips find the back of his neck they've been moistened a little. Not enough, but Wilson decides it feel right. There are a couple more reassuring caresses to his hips and ass before House is loosening his belt and Wilson's fingers claw frantically against the counter.

Molten butter seeps over the crusts of two untouched bacon sandwiches, while on the table the cereal congeals and takes on an unhealthy rubbery texture. Sunlight floods the room, warms their skin.

Wilson doesn't get a chance to wonder exactly when he lost control.