The box that Wilson had left on Cuddy's desk was wrapped with striped, foil wrapping paper. Ribbons cascaded over the corners. In the center, Wilson had placed a patterned bow, its folds delicate and thin, spreading like a cluster of butterfly wings. Cuddy almost never opened it, reluctant to disturb the packaging to uncover the gift inside. For most of the morning, she intermittently studied the neat edges, crisp corners, precise folds. There were no wrinkles, no tears.

When Cuddy opened her desk drawer to search for her scissors, she discovered a plain-white, folded piece of paper, probably stolen from her office printer. A message, written in blue ink, trailed across the unlined page. One corner was creased, another wrinkled into a curled wave.

Later, she set Wilson's gift-a book, "Good Food Fast: 100 Healthy Recipes for Fast-Paced People"-alongside her other cookbooks. She tucked House's into a pocket of her wallet to carry with her, withdrawing it before she slept to read House's slanted scrawl.

I don't mind waking up in the mornings anymore. Thank you.
Happy Birthday.