Title: Morning Rituals
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I know, I know, they're not mine...just wee play things. :(

House remembered waking up to the smell of coffee once. He remembered the warmth of a body, just vacated from the bed. The sounds of running water, softly creaking floor boards, hangers being moved in the closet: all of these had previously been part of his life. Until she left. Then his mornings had been obnoxiously quiet, and cold. The bed had felt empty for a year, he missed the steam from the shower that filtered into his room. He would get out of bed, ready to avoid a pair of boots, or a bra and find nothing on the floor but an empty bottle of vicodin and a book.

All this missing...until...until Wilson came along. He more than filled her shoes. If she had come back, her feet would be swimming in his boots. Wilson would stay in bed until the perfect moment, keeping House's chest warm with soft, hushed breaths. He would look up at him, ignoring the shrill alarm clock and smile, his morning breath dancing over House's face. His fingers would toy with House's face, or his fingers, or just dance across his chest. Then Wilson would push himself out of bed, tell House to go back to sleep, pull on some underwear and go to make coffee.

Everybody had their routine in the morning. Wilson's was House. House's was Wilson. House would reach for a pill bottle, pop off the cap, and think twice, setting it down. When he was happy – he didn't need the pills so much. He would roll over and stick his head back into the pillow, moaning while he listened to Wilson mess around in the kitchen.

Every morning, Wilson liked to iron their shirts (that had shocked everyone at work: the first time Greg House arrived with an ironed shirt since the whole...incident...with her). Most of the time House would continue to lay in bed, smelling his lover, drinking in the remaining post-coital bliss from the night before. But every now and then, he would push himself out of the warm cocoon, grab his cane, and limp into the living room. The light filtering in through the window usually threw him, but the hissing sound of steam being emitted from the iron guided him.

He liked it best when Wilson wore the old McGill t-shirt and his boxers. House would come up behind him, nose the tie draped over Wilson's neck and wrap his arms around him. Good God. How he loved the scent. Unwashed as of yet, smelling distinctly of the two of them. This was heaven. House liked to put his hand down the front of Wilson's pants – not really wanting to start anything, but just enough to reassure himself: We're an us now. Wilson would groan and smile, letting his head drop back onto House's shoulder, ignoring the iron for a moment (a few shirts with burns in them had been tossed into the garbage).

House liked to tip his head to the side, dropping heady kisses along Wilson's jaw line, peppering the soft skin with searing touches. Wilson would let his mouth gape open for a moment before laughing loudly and batting House's hand away. A chaste kiss on the lips, and he would tell House to "Go get a shower. You stink." And House knew it was a compliment, so he obeyed. They would drink their coffee, eat their breakfast, read the paper. It was usually in amicable silence, unless they were conversing about an article in the paper. House liked the way they held hands almost the entire time, trying to adjust to using utensils, flipping the page, drinking one handed. He liked the way that he tasted what Wilson tasted, and when they kissed before they left, it was like a reminder of the morning they had just shared together.

They would drive to the hospital together, and for the rest of the day, they were just friends again. But they had this, they had each other every morning. They had their morning rituals, and for now, that was enough.