Wilson sets the box on the coffee table. He considers sitting next to House on the couch, but instinct tells him this isn't the time to encroach into House's personal space, so after a moment he perches uncomfortably on the edge of the table himself, facing House directly. "Why?" he asks again, knowing why, hating the anguish in his own voice. But he owes it to House to listen.
House is studying his face closely; Wilson knows he's weighing the odds, wondering if it's safe. Wilson looks back at him unguarded. Whatever House has to say, Wilson knows he deserves it. But there's no way he could've predicted, no way he could have readied himself for what comes next.
House is finished pretending a strength he doesn't have. His voice is almost inaudible; Wilson strains to catch the words. "The pain... the pills... maybe you were right. Maybe the pills changed me. And maybe I can... get off them, try something else, and...." House pauses and his eyes drift away from Wilson, fix on the ceiling. "Maybe we could... be okay again."
Wilson has to swallow hard before he speaks. "I was wrong, House. I was wrong. God knows, we've spent enough time rehashing all your sins, but I've committed a few of my own. When Amber died, I... it was easier to tell myself it never would've happened if you... if we weren't friends. You're a pain in the ass. You suck all the air out of any room you're in. You think the world revolves around you. Yeah... you're reckless. You're selfish and egotistical, and sometimes you're even dangerous, but you're also--why are you smiling?"
"Weirdest 'apology' I ever got," House says faintly.
Wilson smiles back. "Sorry; force of habit. What I'm trying to say is, you're who you are, and... that's good enough."
"No; I've changed. Before the leg, I--"
"Before the leg, you were still a pain in the ass. But we've both changed. We've made mistakes, said things we didn't mean, did things that weren't...." Wilson's voice trails off, but the sound of his regret hangs heavy in the air between them.
House is watching him warily, trying to process what he's saying. Wilson wishes he could give him all the time he needs, but House's health--or lack thereof--is just as critical an issue.
"House, you trusted me once. And I... I betrayed that trust. Hell--I abused it, twisted it, I... I used it like a weapon, and... I almost killed you with it."
Wilson stops speaking, because what he's seeing now isn't the man who's in front of him. It's that same man five months ago, strapped unquestioningly into that cold, unyielding chair. Sitting there, waiting to maybe give his life for me--like he thought I had a right to it, just because I asked. No fear.... He was so frail, so broken.... I was the only one who could've protected him then--
Wilson shakes his head to clear it--no time to wallow in guilt now, but maybe a chance to do things differently. He pulls the lockbox over to him, but he keeps his eyes on House.
"I have no right to ask you to give your trust back to me now; I know that. But I'm asking anyway. I'm asking you to forgive the choices I made, to forgive me. I need you to let me help you."
As he's been speaking, Wilson's been opening the box, preparing the medication, watching House watching him, waiting for House's permission to help him. Now, House's eyes are on the syringe, and Wilson's out of things to say.
Finally, some of the tension leaves House's body, his eyes soften, and he nods. Wilson stands slowly and helps House lift his legs onto the couch, holds him in an almost-hug as he lowers his head gently onto the pillows. And only when he's certain that House is as comfortable as possible, Wilson kneels by his side, picks up the syringe and reaches for his arm. Then, as gently as he can, he slips the needle in. No fear.
Two hours later, House is sleeping peacefully. He's managed to keep down a few ounces of Gatorade, and Wilson's beginning to relax. He sits beside him and reaches quietly to House's wrist for a pulse. As he nods his satisfaction and begins to pull away, House's fingers close around Wilson's wrist. Surprised, Wilson tries gently to untangle them--but they tighten even more. Must be having some sort of dream. He's exhausted; hate to wake him. Wilson tries again to loosen the fingers without disturbing House, but then House whispers his name. The tone is anguished, pleading.
Wilson frowns. Something wrong? "House?"
House opens his eyes, doesn't move his hand. An expression of disbelief crosses his face as he regards his friend, keeping vigil at his side. House licks his parched lips. His voice comes out rusty and broken. "Sticking around?" he asks.
Wilson reaches slowly into the pocket of his jeans and holds up the key. Then, making sure that House is still watching, he tucks it securely back into his pocket. He covers House's hand firmly with his own. "Go back to sleep," he says softly. "And by the way, you're still an idiot."
House's eyes are already closing. "Yup," he agrees as he drifts off again, the ghost of a smile on his face.