Warnings: Takes place during season 4 when Wilson's dating Amber. A little AU from there because she doesn't end up the same way in this story as she does in the show. She's not actually present in this story but she's mentioned and she's not nice.
Disclaimer:
I don't own them. *sniff*
A/N:
This is a quickie, unbeta'd fic (so please forgive any mistakes) that popped into my head while I was trying to work on my next story for the 50 Ways Challenge. I'm beginning to think I'm never going to get that one finished…

House entered his apartment, shutting the door and leaning against it as he took a deep breath. He'd spent the whole day dealing with an idiotic patient while dodging an angry dean of medicine. His head ached, his leg hurt, and all he wanted to do was grab a beer, pop some Vicodin and get as close to comatose as he could while still being able to wake up in the morning. With a weary sigh, he pushed away from the door and walked into his living room, switching on the lamp behind his couch.

"Damn," he muttered as light illuminated a prone figure on his couch. So much for a quiet, vegetative evening, House thought. "Wilson, what the hell?"

The oncologist jerked awake, raising his head and blinking against the sudden brightness. "House?" he nervously queried.

"Well, duh," he snapped, impatiently tapping his cane on the floor. "It's my apartment, Wilson. Who the hell else would it be?"

"No one," Wilson answered with a hint of something akin to relief, wiping a hand across his forehead. He laid his head back down on the couch and watched as the diagnostician dropped into a chair.

"Why are you here? I thought you belonged to Amber tonight." House's interest was piqued when the color drained from his friend's face. "Wilson?" he prodded as he leaned forward to scrutinize the other man's face.

"She kicked me out."

"Panty peeler strike again?"

"Damn it, House!" Wilson yelled as he angrily pushed himself upright, only to sag back onto the cushions with a grimace. He sighed and when he spoke again, there was nothing but exhaustion in his voice. "Just once, could you not mock me?"

"I wouldn't be me, then would I?" House shot back, but the words were belied by his concerned tone.

Wilson offered a weak smile as way of an apology. "No, I guess you wouldn't."

House nodded at him and raised an eyebrow. "Want to share details?"

"Not really."

"Let me rephrase – want to tell me why you just winced?"

The other man remained silent, turning his head so that his face was buried in his arms.

"Talk to me, Wilson."

"She… she was really mad."

"Cut Throat Bitch was mad? There's a shocker." Upon hearing Wilson's angry sigh, House offered, "I was mocking her that time, not you."

"I was late getting home," the oncologist explained. "I was about to leave when an ER nurse paged me that one of my patients had been brought in."

"How dare those inconsiderate terminal baldies not die on schedule."

"This one wasn't terminal," Wilson answered, turning his head so that he could see his friend. "We beat the cancer. She went into remission a month ago."

House nodded for Wilson to continue.

"She was in a car accident tonight. An elderly driver nodded off and t-boned her."

House studied his friend's face, deciding to ask the question even though he suspected he already knew the answer. "Your patient make it?"

"No."

"That sucks, Wilson." The diagnostician leaned back in his chair, twirling his cane as he thought for a moment. "You didn't explain to The Bitch that's why you stayed late?"

"Oh, I explained," the oncologist replied with a mirthless laugh. "She just didn't believe me."

"And this leads to you lying on my couch in the dark, in some degree of discomfort because…?"

Wilson swallowed as he looked at the floor. "She pounced on me when I got home. I didn't even have time to set my keys down or anything. I was in the door and she was all over me, punching and kicking… I didn't want to hit back."

"There are allowable exceptions to the code of chivalry where you can hit a woman. Being attacked first is one of them."

"I thought she would calm down," Wilson offered.

"But she didn't," House stated, his stomach churning angrily as he envisioned his friend being pummeled by a heartless blond.

"No. She must've clipped my head with something because one minute she was attacking me in the living room and the next…" He swallowed again and House saw something approaching terror in his expression. "She had me tied face-down on the bed."

Under any other set of circumstances, the diagnostician would have been offering a suggestive comment. Instead, he nodded and gently urged, "Go on."

"She had some sort of metal thing – a piece of silverware or something, I don't know what for sure – but it was hot." He closed his eyes and House watched as Wilson shivered. "Hot enough to burn flesh."

"What?" House demanded as he lunged forward, landing painfully on his knees beside the couch. "You couldn't have started this story with something like, 'I'm hurt and I need help'?"

"It's probably not that bad," the prone man mumbled. "Not like I could see what she was doing back there."

"Probably not that bad," House parroted angrily. "Idiot." House's voice might have been angry and harsh, but his touch was feather-light and gentle as he carefully lifted the tail of Wilson's dress shirt and rested it on his shoulders. The sight that greeted him was hideous and painful-looking. "Don't move," House commanded as he went to fetch the first aid kit. When he returned, he was pleased to see that not only had Wilson not moved, but he seemed to have dozed off.

Just as well, House thought. This isn't going to be particularly pleasant for either one of us. Making sure that his friend was actually asleep, he pulled out his cell phone and turned on the camera. He took several photos of Wilson's back, grateful that the click of the shutter didn't rouse the slumbering man. Once he'd captured the damage from every conceivable angle, House opened the first aid kit and set about cleaning the angry, red burns, cursing himself for not picking up on the fact that his friend was seriously injured earlier than he had. Wilson had been demonstrating enough signs of trauma that a first year med student could have come up with the diagnosis, yet House had been too busy trying to gage his friend's mental state to pick up on them. "That's what I get for being around you and your mumbo-jumbo pysch crap all the time," House muttered to his sleeping friend.

Having thoroughly cleaned the burns, House carefully examined Wilson's wrists, finding the skin there red and raw, a testament to just how painfully he'd struggled during his assault. Satisfied the skin wasn't broken and posed no threat of infection, House limped to the bathroom and soaked some of his softest washcloths in cool water. He returned to Wilson's side and gently covered the burns with the cloths, whispering soothing words when his patient moaned in discomfort. He quietly moved back to his chair, sitting back and giving the cool compresses time to work. He flipped open his phone and pulled up the pictures he'd just taken, finding himself wanting to do nothing but go to Amber's apartment and kill her right then and there.

She'd apparently started just above the small of Wilson's back, burning the word PROPERTY into the pale flesh. Beneath that, she had burned OF CTB just high enough to avoid being aggravated by the waistband of Wilson's pants. How thoughtful of her, House sneered silently.

A soft whimper drew House's attention back to the couch where he discovered his charge was trying to sit up.

"Easy, Wilson," he soothed as he moved to his friend's side. "You need to lie still."

"Hurts," Wilson mumbled painfully.

Glancing down at his watch, House decided the compresses could come off. He tenderly lifted them away from the abused flesh, and set them on the coffee table behind him. He turned back to Wilson and held out two ibuprofen. "Take these." The fact that Wilson dry-swallowed them without complaint spoke volumes to his level of discomfort. "You think you'd feel better on my bed? You could at least stretch your arms and legs out a little."

"What about you?" Wilson wearily protested.

"I'm not tired," House assured him. "I'll stay in here and watch some TV."

Wilson cocked an eyebrow at him and quirked his lip in an awkward smile. "You gonna stand guard all night?"

The other man smiled, his teeth gleaming menacingly. "You bet your ass. And I kind of hope she does try something because I've been wanting to get a new cane and this would be the perfect excuse."

"You're a good friend, House. Thanks."

"Anytime," House assured him. "Unless I'm watching The L Word, monster trucks, or Cuddy's breasts… then you might have to wait a while."

"Amend that to you're a good ass."

"So amended," House nodded as he held out his hand. "Let's get you settled somewhere more comfortable."

Wilson grasped his hand and, after several painful minutes, he was lying on his stomach on House's bed, while his friend removed his shoes and socks. "House?" he called softly.

"Yeah?"

"What's it say?"

The diagnostician pulled the sheet up to Wilson's waist and perched on the edge of the bed. "Property of CTB."

"Oh."

"Maybe it won't scar."

Wilson snorted and looked over his shoulder at his friend. "Yeah, because that's the kind of luck I always have."

"Okay, well maybe we can do some skin grafts," House countered. He tenderly laid a hand on Wilson's shoulder and squeezed. "Whatever it takes, we'll make it go away."

Wilson nodded but House could see lingering doubt in the sad, brown eyes.

"Or maybe you could keep it and we could tell Cuddy it stands for Property of Cuddy The Boss. Just think, Jimmy, with that kind of ass-kissing we could get about 26 weeks of vacation every year!"

"You mean I could," Wilson chuckled, his eyes regaining some of their usual sparkle. "Why would she let you go?"

"Because I'd have Property of JEW on my back, courtesy of permanent markers and one James Evan Wilson."

Wilson smiled brightly and cocked his head. "Oh, well you can't argue with logic like that."

"I know," House nodded smugly.

"No, I mean you literally can't argue with logic like that; it's laughable."

"Which is just what the doctor ordered tonight." House gently squeezed Wilson's shoulder one more time before pulling his hand away. "Think you can get some sleep now?"

Wilson opened his mouth to answer, but a yawn slipped out instead.

"I think that answers my question," the other man laughed as he moved to the doorway. "I'll call Cuddy and let her know we won't be in tomorrow."

"Okay," the injured man nodded as he lay his head down.

"In the morning I'll take you to the police station so you can file a report."

Wilson was silent for a moment before nodding against the pillow.

"I'll be there with you, every step if the way."

"Thanks, House. You're the best ass a guy could have."

"Hey," House shrugged as he turned off the light. "What are asses for?"

~end~