Author's note: So this is my first foray into the House universe. I should mention I haven't seen many episodes – and those I have jump from series to series – but one thing that struck me straight away was the friendship between House & Wilson. So this grew from that... I apologise if anything I've written doesn't tie in with those episodes I haven't seen!

The sound of his phone ringing made House jump, so engrossed was he in the car crash television that was the Jerry Springer Show. A young, busty blonde was trying to strangle another young, busty blonde who may or may not have been her sister and may or may not have been sleeping with her husband. It was hard to keep up sometimes.

He tutted with annoyance and leant over for the phone, picking it up distractedly.

"What?" he said, still giving most of his attention to the unfolding drama in front of him.

There was no reply, just background noise he couldn't quite make out. He frowned, diverting a little more attention to the call and straining to hear anything.

"If this is someone's idea of a crank call then could you at least make it interesting? I'm missing good TV here." he said, irritatedly.

"House?"

He sat up so fast he actually felt slightly dizzy. The voice was unmistakable but the tone was hesitant and weak and telegraphed that there was very definitely something wrong. And given the fact that the voice belonged to his best friend, House was now suddenly giving the call his full attention.

"Wilson? What is it – what's wrong?" he said, not bothering to cover the blatant concern in his voice. He could always deny it later.

Another pause, one which seemed to House to last an eternity, and then that weak sounding voice again.

"I had an accident."

The simple statement made House's blood run cold and he gripped the phone tighter, as if that would somehow help.

"What do you mean an accident?" he said, forcing himself to remain calm but already dragging himself up off the sofa and reaching for his cane.

"A car. It ran me off the road. Didn't even stop. And it's raining."

House glanced out the window as he limped to where his coat and shoes were and noticed it was indeed raining quite heavily. It appeared that at the very least Wilson had hit his head, and hard. He sounded totally out of it.

"Ok, where are you?" said House, already picking up his keys and heading for the front door.

"I'm not sure. About 10 minutes from the hospital, I think. There's a bend in the road. I came off there." came the reply after a moment.

House felt his stomach clench even more. "Came off?" he said and he heard a hiss of pain before Wilson answered again.

"Yeah, they pushed me right off the road. I went down the hill. I think my car might be a write off."

House closed his eyes. Right now he could have cared less about the car but the fact it seemed to be Wilson's main concern spoke volumes about his current state of mind.

"We can take care of the car later. What about you? Are you hurt?" he said.

"Yeah, a bit. I think I hit my head, and my ribs hurt. My wrist might be broken too. It's really cold." he said and House found himself panicking at the fact Wilson's voice was now down to barely a whisper.

"Shit." He muttered to himself. Cold wasn't good, especially combined with the fact Wilson must be completely soaked by now. In fact he could hear his friends teeth chattering over the phone and that was definitely a bad sign.

"Listen, I'm gonna have to put the phone down so I can get in the car ok? Just sit down somewhere safe and I'll be there as soon as I can. Did you dial 911?" he said, hovering just outside the open door and hating the fact that his phone didn't have the range to make it any further than the front porch.

There was a pause and House was almost about to repeat himself when Wilson answered, sounding slightly embarrassed.

"No. I just called you."

House felt something well up inside at those words and the simple faith behind them, although it would be a cold day in hell before he ever acknowledged exactly what it was.

Clearing his throat he prepared to briefly break the contact.

"Alright, well it doesn't matter. It'll probably be quicker to get to the hospital in my car anyway. Just sit tight ok? I'm on my way."

"Ok." came the quiet reply and House was surprised just how hard it was to end the call. Forcing himself to, simply because he was wasting time, he threw the phone back inside - not caring where it landed - and limped as fast as possible over to the car.

He drove like a Nascar driver, breaking possibly every speed limit known to man. It only took him 15 minutes to reach the section of road Wilson thought he was on but it was the longest 15 minutes of House's life. As much as he would die before admitting it, Wilson was pretty much the most important person in his life. He was the only one who put up with everything House threw at him and still cared enough to come back for more. He knew he was a crappy friend most of the time but somehow the oncologist forgave him for that, although that fact said more about Wilson than it did about him. But the truth was however much he didn't want to admit it, Wilson was his best friend. His only friend actually, and the thought of him out there in the rain, hurt and alone, was one that was not sitting well with House right now.

He slowed down from warp speed as he approached the bed and saw the skid marks and the break in the fence where the car had gone through. His headlights picked out a shape lying beside the fence and he barely had the car stopped and in park before he was out of the door, half running over to where Wilson lay.

"Jimmy!"

He didn't care that his voice was telegraphing his panic, didn't care that in two seconds he was now soaked to the bone, or that he'd left his cane in the car. Adrenaline was powering him and he'd worry about the consequences later. The lump moved and Wilson managed to lift his head and blinked at House in the glare from the headlights.

"House?" came the weak query and House stopped next to his friend, leaning against the fence for balance and bending as low as he could.

"Who were you expecting? I'm the one you dragged out into the rain at this ungodly hour or are you suffering amnesia already?" he said, having to force the humour for once but not wanting to freak Wilson out by appearing too unlike his usual self.

Wilson gave a ghost of a smile but it didn't stay long, the tremors that were wracking his body making him tremble under House's hand as the diagnostician tried to feel for injuries.

"Sorry. I'll try and have an accident when it's good weather next time." he managed and House felt relief at the fairly normal response.

"If you could. Where does it hurt?" he said, using a businesslike tone to try and cover how hard it was seeing his friend in such obvious pain. Wilson looked truly pathetic sitting there, soaked to the skin with blood running down the side of his head and his face so pale it was practically translucent.

"Everywhere. Mostly my ribs and my wrist. And my head." Wilson managed to reply.

He sat there shivering as House moved his hand over the areas he'd just named, surprisingly tenderly given the fact it was after all House he was dealing with. He felt like an idiot for not calling the police or the paramedics but it had been pure instinct that had made him dial House's number when he'd finally staggered, dazed and bleeding, back onto the road.

For all the comments about the rain and the fact he was missing TV right now, House hadn't hesitated to come flying to his rescue and Wilson found himself wanting to giggle suddenly at the idea of House as his knight in shining armour. Only the fact that he was fairly certain laughing with ribs that were at the very least cracked would not improve his night made him resist the urge. As it was he suddenly felt compelled to say something, even though it would probably earn him a sarcastic reply.

"Thank you." he said and House paused in his ministrations and looked at him, seeing the gratitude in Wilson's eyes and the soft smile on his face.

He swallowed and told himself that it was the rain making his eyes feel like they were watering right now.

"Don't thank me, I'll be sending my bill in the post. And if you bleed on my seats you're getting it valeted." he said but Wilson's smile just grew. He knew House better than anyone and he'd seen the hint of a reaction to his words before his friend could hide it. He closed his eyes briefly as a wave of pain swept through his head and he had a feeling he'd have ended up back on the asphalt again had it not been for House's firm grip on his shoulder.

"Oh no you don't – you know as well as I do there's zero chance of me getting you to the car, unless you want me to drag you by your ankles. And you know how mad Cuddy will get if I do that to her golden boy." he said and was rewarded with Wilson opening his eyes again to blink blearily at him.

"I don't feel so good." he said and House's stomach flipped at the exhausted statement.

"Well, that would be on account of trying to go offroad in that crappy car of yours." he said and Wilson managed a half indignant look.

"It's not crappy." he said and House rolled his eyes.

"It certainly is now. Look, we need to get you to the hospital so they can get you patched up and I can get back to Jerry Springer." he said, even though they both knew there was no way he'd be leaving Wilson's side tonight. "You're gonna have to give me some help here."

Wilson nodded and braced himself. House leant his weight back on the fence and steadied himself, holding out one hand to Wilson. The oncologist took it with his good hand and gripped as firmly as he could.

"On three, ok? One, two, three!"

House put all he could into pulling Wilson up and although Wilson couldn't help the cry of pain that escaped as his ribs shifted under the movement, he managed to get himself upright. He would have fallen however if it hadn't been for House grabbing hold of him firmly and steadying him with both hands.

"Whoa, take it easy for a second. I'm not dragging your ass up off the floor again." he said and Wilson took a couple of deep breaths, or at least as deep as he could with cracked ribs, taking strength from House's grip.

"You ready now or you wanna stick around for a little longer? You did pick a lovely spot." said House dryly and Wilson would have shaken his head if he weren't so certain it would fall off if he did so.

"I think I'm done." he replied and House smirked.

They managed to make it to the car without any further incident, although House wasn't sure quite who was supporting who. He was glad he'd left his cane in the car though, as he'd never have managed to manouver that and half carry Wilson at the same time. He got him settled in the passenger side and used the car to lean on as he made his way round to the driver's side. His leg was on fire but he ignored it, having far greater things to worry about for now.

Wilson had closed his eyes again and was leaning against the door, still shivering. If anything he'd somehow managed to get paler and House was suddenly worried about internal bleeding or something else he hadn't been able to see in the dark.

He reached across and put the seatbelt on, not wanting to take any chances given how Wilson's luck was going tonight, and as he switched on the engine he turned the heater up as high as it would go. He was pretty cold himself now thanks to the rain, and he didn't want to think about how much longer Wilson had been out in it than he had.

He turned the car round in one tight move and as soon as they were facing the right way he gunned the engine, preparing to set records again for the journey back to Princeton General. Wilson was silent all the way and House alternated between watching the road and throwing worried glances at his friend.

He'd never been so pleased to see the hospital come into view. Parking as close as he could to the doors in a disabled parking bay he switched off the engine and got out, this time remembering his cane as his leg was beginning to seize up from all the effort. Wilson practically fell out when House opened the door and it was only House's quick reflexes that stopped him.

The oncologist groaned at the movement and opened his eyes, peering up blearily at House.

"Are we here?" he said and House reached in to undo the seatbelt that was currently helping stop Wilson falling out of the car completely.

"No, I decided to stop and sightsee on the way. You weren't in a hurry were you?"

Wilson managed to co-ordinate his limbs long enough to crawl out of the car, with House's help.

"Would it kill you to give a straight answer now and again?" he said as House got his arm around him to help him into the hospital.

"Would it kill you not to ask stupid questions now and again?" retorted House, staggering a little as they began their weird shuffle once more to make it into the ER.

Wilson was too busy concentrating on breathing and not passing out to reply this time and House found himself quickening his pace, as much as possible anyway.

"I need some help here!" he yelled as soon as they were through the doors and Wilson winced.

"Could you not yell?" he whispered but House ignored him, putting all his effort into keeping them upright.

A nurse and an orderly came hurrying towards them and Wilson's weight was taken from him. House staggered a little and another nurse put her hand out to steady him. He shrugged her off as soon as he was relatively stable, his whole attention still focused on Wilson. They were loading the oncologist onto a gurney and he limped after them, not wanting to leave him just yet.

Apparently Wilson was having similar thoughts as his eyes snapped open as soon as he was horizontal, his gaze searching for his friend.

"House?" he called, a little frantically, and House managed to quicken his pace so he was next to the gurney and in eyeshot.

"Right here." he said, not even bothering with any witty remarks at this point.

The nurse looked at him.

"Dr House?" she said and House nodded distractedly.

"Yes. And this is Dr Wilson, from Oncology. He had an RTA about an hour ago. Came off the road and went down an embankment. He's complaining of pain in his head, ribs and left wrist. He may have been unconscious but he's fairly lucid now." he said, trying to sound businesslike and clinical about the whole thing. He did have a reputation to protect after all.

"And he's right here." came the slightly indignant response from the gurney. The nurse smiled at House and turned to Wilson.

"Don't worry Dr Wilson, you're in good hands. We're just going to take you to exam 4 and I'll fetch one of the doctors to take a look at you. Would you be able to fill in the paperwork for him?" she said, glancing at House and he nodded.

"I'll be just out here, ok?" he said, not caring for a moment about appearing unemotional about the whole thing.

Wilson managed to meet his gaze and nodded slightly, even though he looked like he'd have preferred it if House could have gone with him.

House stopped and watched as they wheeled Wilson through the doors and out of sight. A few moments later the nurse came back out and went over to the desk, coming back with a clipboard which she handed him with a sympathetic smile. She obviously hadn't heard the stories about him, he reflected.

"If you could just fill these in." she said, giving him a pen to go with the forms and he nodded.

He made his way over to one of the chairs and dropped into it, wincing as his leg now really began to throb. He fumbled in his pocket for his pills and poured two into his palm, dry swallowing them with a grimace. He put the clipboard on the chair next to him and rested his head in his hands for a moment.

Now he'd handed over responsibility for Wilson to someone else he could feel the adrenaline draining out of him and it left him feeling like he'd just run a marathon. In his mind's eye he could still see his friend, lying in the rain, so still that for an awful moment House had thought..

He swallowed convulsively. He was definitely not going there, not now. Wilson was gonna be fine.

Pulling himself together he picked up the forms again and filled them out. He was just trying to decide if he had the energy to make it to the desk to hand them back when the nurse came back over again. She took the completed forms with a smile and told him that someone called Dr Carter would be out in a bit to tell him how Wilson was doing. He nodded and leant back in the chair, resting his head against the wall.

"Dr House?" he jerked upright, opening his eyes so fast that for a moment the light made him blink.

He looked up into Dr Chase's concerned gaze, the young Australian frowning as he looked at him.

"Is everything alright?" he said, taking in House's rumpled, damp clothing and the slightly haggard look on his face.

House sat up, wincing as his leg protested the movement.

"What are you doing here?" he said, deflecting the original question for a moment while he tried to get himself together.

"ER rotation. I'm on till 2 tonight." said Chase, still looking concerned.

"Lucky you." said House, dryly. He realised Chase was still waiting for an answer and tried to sound as matter of fact as he could.

"I'm waiting for Wilson. Some idiot ran his car off the road on his way home." he said.

Chase's frown deepened. He liked the oncologist, it was impossible not to, and it was pretty obvious from the state of House that it must have been fairly bad. Chase knew as well as everyone else did that while House might claim to care about nothing and nobody, Dr Wilson was the exception to that rule. Most people didn't understand the friendship between the two men who were polar opposites in every way, but understand it or not it was clear that Wilson was indeed important to House. And the diagnostician's current rumpled state and worried demeanour were testament to that.

"How bad is it?" he asked carefully and House shrugged.

"Not too bad. Concussion, probably, a few cracked ribs. Looks like a fractured wrist as well. They're just checking him out now." he said, his gaze straying to the doors through which Wilson had been taken.

Chase relaxed a little, pleased that the accident didn't sound too serious.

"Can I get you anything?" he asked and House looked up at him, sighing when he saw the sympathetic look there. Clearly his 'act' was off tonight but he found himself unable to care about it too much. Right now he was too busy worrying about his friend to be that interested in maintaining his reputation.

Besides, he could always threaten to fire Chase if he ever brought this up.

He wiped a hand tiredly over his face.

"Yeah, do you have your cell phone? I lost mine and I need to tell Cuddy she'll have to get someone to cover for Wilson for a while." he said.

"Sure." said Chase, digging the phone out and handing it to House. He went over to the desk to check what was happening with Dr Wilson and also to give House some privacy for the call.

Cuddy answered after the 5th ring, sounding as if she'd been asleep.

"Cuddy, it's House. Not disturbing anything am I?" he said and he heard her sigh.

"House, do you know what time it is? What could possibly be so urgent that it couldn't wait till morning?" she said, sounding annoyed and ignoring the loaded question.

House decided he might as well just get on with it, not having the heart to get his usual mileage out of winding up his boss.

"It's Wilson, he had a car accident on the way home. Some moron forced him off the road and didn't even have the courtesy to stop. They're patching him up now but you'll need someone to cover for him for at least a week, maybe longer. And you'll need someone to cover me tomorrow."

He could imagine her frowning. "Is he alright? And why will I need someone to cover for you tomorrow?" she said and House rolled his eyes even though she couldn't see him.

"He'll be fine. Concussion, cracked ribs, broken wrist – that's about it probably. That and being one big bruise by the morning. And I'll be babysitting the big bruise tomorrow, obviously. I leave him alone he'll probably trip over my coffee table and break his neck." said House, trying to sound as if it would be a chore.

"Why will you be babysitting?" asked Cuddy and House wondered if she'd been drinking or was just unusually slow tonight.

"Because he'll be at my house, of course."

"You're going to take him home with you? No offence, but you're not exactly Florence Nightingale, House. Why the sudden caring act?" said Cuddy.

There was silence for a moment and when House next spoke his voice had a tinge of something to it that could either have been anger or hurt. She wasn't sure which.

"Probably for the same reason he called me when he crashed instead of dialling 911." he said and disconnected the call before she could reply.

He resisted the urge to throw the phone at the wall, given the fact it was Chase's. I really am off my game he thought with a humourless grin.

He didn't know why Cuddy's question had bothered him so much. It was a reasonable enough assumption and one that would usually have made him happy that his reputation was perfectly intact. But for some reason tonight it hurt to think that she would assume he didn't care that Wilson had been injured. That he wouldn't volunteer to look after his best friend while he recovered.

He shook his head. Maybe he could blame it on being out in the rain too long.

Chase was making his way back over, slightly cautiously, and House threw him his phone without even looking. Chase's fast reflexes just managed to stop him getting smacked in the face with his own phone. He wondered what Cuddy had said to annoy House this time. From the look on the diagnostician's face it had been something pretty big.

Deciding he liked a full set of teeth and was therefore not going to pry, he simply put the phone back in his pocket and stood in front of House for a moment. House looked up.

"You need anything else?" he asked and House appreciated the casual tone of the question. The kid was learning.

"Unless you have a pot of real coffee hidden about your person, no." he said and Chase grinned and shook his head.

"Fraid not. I'd better be going then – give Dr Wilson my best, would you?" he said and House bit back the automatic response and just nodded.

He watched as Chase headed off then turned his attention back to the double doors. It was surprising just how fascinating doors could be. Especially when you were desperate for someone to walk through them and give you vitally important news. He glanced at his watch. It hadn't been that long, and they were going to need to x-ray Wilson's wrist and probably his ribs too.

He sighed, leaning back and closing his eyes again. This was definitely going to be a long night.

Almost ninety minutes later House was aware of two things. One, he was fairly certain he'd bonded with the crappy plastic chair he was sitting on in a way that was going to take a huge amount of effort to break and two, his clothes were no longer wet and were in fact at that annoying, uncomfortable, damp stage.

He pondered whether having a friend was really worth the hassle sometimes. Even though he already knew the answer to that question.

He was interrupted from his musings by the doors opening and a dark haired doctor that he vaguely recognised heading his way. He sat up straighter and grimaced as his leg came back to life.

"Dr House?"

He managed to stand, just.

"That'd be me. How's he doing?" said House, not in the mood by now for small talk.

Either Dr Carter had heard of House's reputation or he was a very quick judge of character. Either way he got down to business.

"He's doing pretty well, considering. His wrist has a hairline fracture so it's being plastered as we speak. His ribs are badly bruised from the seatbelt but fortunately none of them are broken. He has various bruises and lacerations that in themselves aren't serious and he also has a concussion. We'd normally prefer to keep him in overnight but he seems fairly reluctant." he said. House interrupted him before he could finish.

"That won't be a problem. I'll sign him out under my care." he said. Dr Carter didn't look entirely happy but given the fact House was a doctor he could hardly argue.

"Alright. They should be done with the cast in a few minutes and then he can go. This is a prescription for painkillers – he'll be needing them with those ribs. I'm sure I don't need to tell you the drill with the concussion." he said, handing House the prescription. House resisted the urge to point out he'd been practising medicine longer than Carter had been alive and instead just nodded and tried to convey with his expression how inane that last comment had been.

Dr Carter did at least have the good grace to blush slightly and he made a quick exit. House remained standing, knowing if he sat down again his leg would never let him get up, and a few minutes later the nurse from earlier came to fetch him. He followed her, slowly, and was shown into a small room.

Wilson was lying on the bed, wearing a spare pair of scrubs that someone had managed to find for him but that were about two sizes too big, with one wrist in plaster and the other arm wrapped round his ribs. He was still pale and the harsh lights showed up the bruises that were already starting to form down the right side of his face. The cut on his head had been stitched and covered with a large cotton pad that made the bits of his hair nearest to it stick up. House couldn't help a small smile at that – Wilson was not going to enjoy that look much.

The smile quickly faded though as he took in the clenched muscle in Wilson's jaw that showed he was clearly in pain and the all round miserable look of his friend. The oversized scrubs weren't helping – he looked like one of those orphans abandoned on the street in a Charles Dickens novel.

House limped over and put his hand gently on Wilson's shoulder.

"Hey. You in there?" he said softly.

Wilson jumped slightly, a move House could tell he instantly regretted, before opening his eyes and looking up. He smiled tiredly when he saw House, who as far as Wilson was concerned looked a bit like he felt. There were circles under House's eyes that attested to his tiredness, his clothes looked like he'd slept in them, in the shower, and he had this air of concern and worry about him that was out of character and touching at the same time.

Although Wilson wasn't about to mention that. He had enough bruises as it was.

"Thanks for sticking around." he said softly and House shrugged, almost awkwardly.

"There was a hot nurse on reception. I was trying to impress her with my caring friend act." he said lightly.

Wilson chuckled, then winced and held his ribs a little tighter.

House clenched his jaw and made a note to get the prescription filled at the 24hr pharmacy on the way back to his place.

"You all set?" he said and Wilson nodded, slowly. He sat up gingerly and swung his legs over the bed. He slid off the mattress and promptly closed his eyes as the whole room tilted.

House grabbed him with his free hand and let Wilson rest his head on his shoulder. He told himself it was for practicality. There was no way he'd be able to get Wilson up off the floor if he fell on his ass. The fact it was probably comforting for the oncologist to having something to lean on right now had nothing to do with it. Nothing at all.

That was the view that greeted Cuddy as she looked through the open door. She'd felt strangely bad after House had hung up on her, as if she'd somehow gone that step too far. Of course given the person she was talking to it shouldn't matter. In fact it might be a good thing for House to realise for once what it was like to be on the receiving end of an ill thought out comment. But she wasn't House and she felt guilty, if for no other fact than in retrospect it had been clear how worried House was for his friend. She knew Wilson was House's one weak spot, his one small bit of humanity, and she'd somehow crossed the line when she'd implied he didn't care enough to want to take care of Wilson after his accident.

So here she was, despite the fact it was now nearly midnight, to check on both House and her Head of Oncology. She'd checked at the desk and read through the list of injuries, which thankfully could have been worse than they were. She'd also seen that House was signing him out and had come to find them – hence her now standing, unseen by both of them, observing a side to Gregory House that few people got to see.

The expression on House's face as he let Wilson lean on him, literally, was not the usual mask he liked to keep in place. Instead it was the expression of a concerned friend. One who had been shaken by the close call and who was now doing his best to just be there.

"You do realise you throw up on my jacket, I'm gonna let you fall on your face." she heard him say and she smiled to herself as she heard Wilson chuckle, knowing as well as he did there was no real feeling behind the threat.

She wanted to let them know she was there but she also didn't want to disturb them so instead she hovered, waiting for Wilson to gather himself before she announced her presence. As she watched she realised that this is what most people missed when they looked at House.

Those that knew of the friendship between the diagnostician and the oncologist were confused by it. Dr Wilson was likeable, caring, compassionate, dedicated and about as different as you could get from the crotchety, tactless, self opinionated Dr House. They would wonder aloud why Wilson put up with him, but the reason was right there for anyone to see.

For all his act, for all his declarations that he had no feelings, House did care about Wilson. It was there in his voice when he told her Wilson had had an accident. It was there in the fact he'd driven to Wilson's aid as soon as he called him for help. It was there in the fact that he'd clearly waited, soaking wet, while Wilson had been treated and was now going to take him home and look after him. All the while complaining and moaning without ever meaning a word of it. And it was there most blatantly in the look on his face as he let Wilson lean on him until he got enough strength to stand on his own.

Even though it was probably killing his leg.

Yes. She was right to feel guilty about her thoughtless comment earlier.

The room had stopped spinning now and Wilson felt secure enough to attempt standing on his own. He pulled back slowly and House kept his hand on Wilson's shoulder until he was certain that his friend wasn't going to fall over.

Wilson tried to give him a reassuring look, which was half successful, and it was then that he suddenly noticed Cuddy standing in the doorway. He blushed slightly as he wondered if she'd seen him using House to lean on.

"Hi." he said and House turned round as he realised they had company. He stiffened when he saw who it was and gave Cuddy a glare which she thought she probably deserved this time.

"Hi." she said warmly, stepping into the room. "How are you feeling?"

"Not too bad." said Wilson and House raised his eyebrow at him at the obvious lie. Wilson attempted to ignore him.

She stepped a little nearer, looking at House almost nervously. He in turn simply returned the look coolly, clearly not about to let her off the hook anytime soon.

"I just wanted to check how you were doing, although I see you're in capable hands." she said.

House looked surprised and narrowed his gaze as he tried to assess how sincere she was. Apparently she must have passed whatever test he'd set in his head and his posture relaxed a little.

"Can I have that in writing?" he said sardonically and Wilson looked at him disapprovingly.

"Play nice." he said softly and House just smirked at him.

"Is there anything I can help with or are you all set?" she asked and Wilson smiled at her.

"We're fine, thanks. I've got the case files for my current patients on my desk and I have about five appointments in the morning." he began but House cut him off.

"All of which Cuddy is more than capable of dealing with. You just bounced down a hill on your head, work should be the least of your worries. Now come on, I for one would like to change into something that isn't soaking wet sometime tonight." he said.

Wilson looked like he was about to apologise for the fact House had had to wait for him in wet clothes, but House held up a finger warningly at him.

"Don't even think about it." was all he said and Wilson blushed but wisely kept his mouth shut. He forgot sometimes, how well House knew him. Even if most of the time he pretended not to pay attention to anything Wilson said.

Cuddy stood back to let them pass, noting how House stuck close enough to make a grab for Wilson if he faltered and how for once it was him who had to slow his pace to match Wilson's.

Wilson flashed her a grateful smile as they walked by and House simply looked at a for a few seconds before giving the briefest of nods. She guessed that was a sign she was almost forgiven for her earlier comment.

She watched as they made their way down the hall and reflected that she really had meant what she said before. Wilson was in good hands.

By the time they reached House's car Wilson was starting to regret not agreeing to be admitted overnight. His ribs were burning and his vision was slightly blurred. Only sheer stubbornness was keeping him on his feet right now.

That and not wanting to give House any ammunition by falling on his ass in the parking lot.

House meanwhile didn't say a word but he was watching Wilson out of the corner of his eyes the whole time. They were definitely stopping at the pharmacy on the way home.

He opened the car door and waited while Wilson slid painfully into the seat. Once he was sure his friend was settled, he closed the door gently and limped round to the other side. He got in gingerly himself, wondering if he could get away with some more Vicodin before he went to bed. He dismissed it almost immediately. He wanted to be alert in case Wilson needed him during the night and he'd be no good to either of them if he ended up passed out from too many painkillers.

He drove slower this time, now the danger was passed, and by the time he pulled up in front of the pharmacy Wilson was asleep against the window. He dragged himself out of the car, grateful that at this time of night there was no waiting, and ten minutes later they were on their way again. He pulled into his driveway with a relieved sigh and got out stiffly.

He knocked on the window to wake Wilson up, not wanting to try and catch him if he just opened the door, and Wilson blinked owlishly at him before it sunk in that they were at House's place.

He sat up so House could open the door and got out slowly, using the car to lean on.

"You didn't have to bring me here – I'd have been fine at the hotel." he said and House didn't even dignify that with a response. He waited for Wilson to get moving under his own steam and kept one eye on him as he unlocked the door.

He stood back to let Wilson in first, then shut it behind them. He threw his keys on the table and limped towards the kitchen.

"Sit down before you fall down." he called over his shoulder and he heard a mumbled response. When he came back with a glass of water in one hand Wilson was lying on the couch.

"Here." he said and Wilson looked up at him. He pushed himself upwards with a grimace and took the glass of water. House then pulled the bottle of pills out of his pocket, popped the lid with practised ease and tipped two into Wilson's hand. He watched as the oncologist swallowed them with two mouthfuls of water and looked satisfied. He put the pills on the table and disappeared into the bedroom, returning a few minutes later with a blanket and several pillows.

"Sit up a minute." he said and Wilson complied, too tired to ponder the bizarreness of House's sudden nursemaid routine. Minutes later he was lowering himself back down against pillows that immediately took the pressure off his ribs and eased the ache in his head. As he let of a sigh of relief House just smirked and covered him with the blanket.

Wilson looked up at him, raising one eyebrow.

"Did you just tuck me in?" he said, sounding amused, and House glared at him.

"Repeat that thought out loud ever again and I'm gonna put laxatives in your coffee." he said and Wilson just grinned.

House straightened up.

"I'm gonna go take a shower so try not to kill yourself while I'm gone. I'll be waking you up in a few hours to find out if you're more stupid than usual, so you might as well rest till then." he said.

As he walked away to get some clean and more importantly, dry, clothes to change into Wilson suddenly said his name. He turned back and saw Wilson looking at him with an expression he couldn't quite decipher.

"Thanks – for all this." said Wilson softly after a moment, and House looked uncomfortable.

"I'm just trying to get brownie points with Cuddy. Besides, it gives me a good excuse to have a day off tomorrow." he said dismissively but Wilson could see through the lie. It didn't matter really if House would admit why he'd done what he had. They both knew the truth and at the end of the day, that was enough.

Wilson closed his eyes and House got his things. As he walked past the couch to go to the bathroom he looked down at his sleeping friend and allowed himself to smile. Not his usual sardonic smile, or the fake smile he used when he was trying to get around people. This was a genuine smile, of affection and relief.

He knew things could have been so much worse and he was grateful to whichever cosmic force had been looking out for Wilson. In the morning he'd call the cops and report the accident, and with any luck there'd be enough evidence for them to catch the son of a bitch who had forced his friend off the road.

He wouldn't mind five minutes alone with them when they did.

But in the end even that didn't really matter. All that mattered was that Wilson was here, in relatively one piece, and when it come down to it the rest was irrelevant.

He moved the blanket so it was covering Wilson a little better, telling himself he was absolutely not tucking the oncologist in, and as he went to move away he whispered quietly.

"Thanks for calling me first."

As the bathroom door shut Wilson opened his eyes and smiled softly. He wouldn't let House know he'd been awake for that bit. He knew his friend placed far too much value on appearances even when both of them knew they were just that. But it was enough that he'd heard it and recognised the surprised gratitude in the words.

He shifted slightly to get more comfortable and closed his eyes again. Just before he drifted off a single thought ran through his head.

"I'm glad I did."