In a real dark night of the soul, it is always in the morning. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tonight’s the night. Wilson’s planned for this with his usual attention to detail. He’s saved two weeks’ worth of his sleeping pills—no one even questioned why he’d suddenly begun accepting them each evening—and, for good measure, he’s also got six of his antidepressants.
He’ll take all the pills shortly after , when the guard makes rounds, because the guard won’t come by again until —and by then it’ll be too late.
Wilson had thought he’d be able to handle prison; after all, two years isn’t forever. And maybe his career is gone, and that’s a blow—but he’d still have the other good thing in his life; he’d still have House. But House’s last visit, when Wilson had been injured, had changed everything. He could see that the guilt was destroying House—and Wilson can’t allow that to happen.
Sure, his suicide will upset his friend. But death is finite; it has a definite end, and the survivors move on, given time. Imprisonment, Wilson’s decided, goes on forever. Even after he’s served his sentence and been released, his continued presence on this Earth would be a daily reminder to House of the lost medical license, the lost two years. A reminder that, Wilson knows, would eventually kill House.
I’ve screwed up enough. My marriages. My career. I’ve already lost House’s trust; things might never be the same. And without House, there’s nothing left for me. Nothing. So Wilson will die instead.
Tonight’s the night. House has made no plans, said no goodbyes. But it’s time. So he retrieves his secret stash of morphine tablets—he’s not gonna die like a junkie, an empty syringe by his side—and the bottle of aged scotch he’d been saving for Wilson’s release from prison; it’ll wind up providing release for House instead.
It’s almost , the time he’s picked, at random, to start the process. He wants to be dead by dawn, doesn’t want to suffer through another cruel, cheerful sunrise.
House had thought he’d be able to handle his guilt about Wilson’s imprisonment. But his last visit to Wilson had changed everything. The look in Wilson’s eyes… the hurt. He’d needed something House couldn’t give; he’d needed a real friend, and House doesn’t know how to be that. House had realized then that Wilson wouldn’t ever be able to move on with his life as long as House was a part of it. So House will remove himself from Wilson’s life quickly, cleanly—no different than the surgical removal of a cancer, really.
Yeah, his suicide will upset Wilson. But Wilson’s a pragmatic guy; he’ll realize, eventually, that it’s for the best. When Wilson gets out of prison, it’ll be difficult enough establishing a new life—he doesn’t need the added anchor of being House’s friend to weigh him down further. That anchor would drown him, eventually. So House will drown himself first.
Wilson feigns sleep as the guard passes. Once the man is gone, Wilson goes to the small stainless steel sink in his cell. He divides the pills into two handfuls and places the first group of ten in his mouth, swallowing it quickly with a handful of the rusty-tasting water. He takes the second bunch of pills the same way, then returns to his cot.
House lays out the pills on the coffee table. He figures twenty ought to do it. Any more than that might cause him to throw them all up; any less, and his stupid body would probably just think it was at some awesome party, and then he’d wind up living through another mocking dawn.
As Wilson waits for his final sleep to overtake him, vivid pictures start to play in his mind. Holding House’s bruised, crushed hand between his own after Wilson’s plan to detox him had gone terribly wrong. Watching House lie in a coma of his own choosing, chasing the dream of having a normal life again. Thinking House had terminal brain cancer, and not being able to eat or sleep or even breathe that week, because House was dying. House, needing Wilson. House needsWilson.
House picks up the first bunch of pills and stares at them. But instead of seeing the chalky white ovals, he sees Wilson. Standing forlornly with a suitcase at House’s front door, his life falling apart and nowhere else to go. Yelling at House like a rebellious teenager over an affair with a patient that would’ve ruined Wilson’s career. Telling House that their friendship was one of the two good things he had, and listening to his voice crack and break as he said it.
Damn him—too stupid to know I’m no good for him. I pulled him down, and the fool let me do it. When I’m gone, the world’ll eat him alive—no one left to watch out for him. He’ll never make it; damn—Wilson needs me.
Wilson can’t do it; House needs him. He bolts from the cot to the toilet and forces his fingers down his throat. The pills and the bile burn as they come up, and Wilson gasps for air. When he can breathe again, he counts the pills, floating and dissolving in the water—they’re all there. He sighs in satisfaction; he’ll live.
House can’t do it; Wilson needs him. Slowly, he collects all the pills and puts them back in the amber bottle. Then he limps to the kitchen and carefully replaces the bottle of scotch in the cabinet. He returns to the couch and allows himself a frustrated sigh; screw it—he’ll live.
Hours later, the sun rises on another day, and they’re both awake to see it.