TITLE: Roses and Stuffed Animals
AUTHOR: Cuddlyfruit
PAIRING: House/Chase
WARNINGS: Well, it's slash, obviously. ; And long. And it contains slight kitten torment, but only because kittens are so cute when they attack! (No animals have been harmed during the making of this story.)
SUMMARY: House gets a kitten and tries to keep it secret. Unfortunately, Chase finds out but, really, maybe it's not so bad…
DISCLAIMER: I don't own House, and it breaks my heart every time I think about it.
NOTES: It's kind of long… 1,611 words. I have a problem with the lengths of my short stories… They're usually either very long or very short, not much middle ground. Oh well. Also, it was so late when I finished this that I didn't get to read over it as well as I wanted... Anyway. Please enjoy!

Roses and Stuffed Animals

House knew he wasn't the most positive person to ever walk the planet. He knew he definitely wasn't the sweetest. He didn't laugh or hug or even really smile. He didn't speak gently to his patients, preferring instead to spout the truth and watch them squirm. Not only did he not act sweet, but he didn't think sweet either. He didn't like faeries and unicorns. He never felt the urge to paint his room pink. He didn't go out of his way to keep from running over stray animals on the road. Most of all, he felt no affinity whatsoever for cuddly things.

So when he found himself dishing out 25 for a tiny fluffball of mewling black girl kitten, he was sure something must have burst in his brain, something that felt eerily similar to self-respect. He briefly considered going to the hospital and demanding someone take a look, but decided that the event was too embarrassing. If anyone ever found out that he had bought such a cute little thing, they he couldn't resist when he saw those beautiful green-blue eyes, they'd think he was softening up. Next thing he knew he'd find stuffed animals and roses everywhere. No, this had to be kept a secret.

The next morning, before going to work, House made sure to brush all the cat hair off his clothing. He cast the little mewling mass of fur one last look. Excalibur, named for her sharp little teeth and claws, glared through the bars of her cage, flexing her needlelike talons purposefully into her mouse toy. House raised a single eyebrow and she turned away to munch sulkily on the kitten food.

Work seemed to drag on. Patients were always complaining about various insignificant pains, and the ones that were actually sick never seemed to tell him what he needed to know to fix it. The ducklings were, of course, as incompetent as always. Sometimes he wondered if they had actually studied to become doctors or just got lucky on a multiple choice test. Then they'd do something extraordinary, something he could be proud of, but he couldn't rely on that happening every day.

The best part of his day, the time he waited for anxiously, was when he got home. Little sharp kitten cries greeted his arrival, and would continue until Excalibur was let out. From there, he would lie down on the couch and she would curl up on his stomach. He liked to feel her warmth beneath his hand. He liked how her whole body vibrated when she purred. They would go to bed, Excalibur snuggled against his cheek and once draped over his neck. In the morning, he'd lock her up in her little black cage and walk out the door. One day, seeing the woeful blue-green eyes (Why were those eyes so familiar? he wondered), he put her in the cage but didn't close it. The next day the cage was put up in a cupboard and every day he came home to find Excalibur mewling at his feet.

One tiring day, House was accosted by a mussed but still good-looking Chase as he was limping towards the door. He shifted impatiently, just wanting to get home. Excalibur knew his schedule now, was always waiting by the door when he was supposed to arrive home. He didn't want to find out what would happen if he was late. Would she accuse him of spending time with another cat? Maybe shred the couch just in case?

"Is there something specific you want or just me?" House almost winced as he said it. That sounded far too much like flirting, and, judging by the expression on his face, Chase thought so too.

"Uh," Chase opened and closed his mouth. "I was just wondering if I could stay at your place tonight. I know this might be crossing some kind of barrier, but Wilson said that you let him stay over sometimes, and I don't have anywhere to go tonight…"

"You want to stay over tonight," House repeated, picturing horrifying stuffed animals and roses on his desk. "At my place."

"Yeah," Chase nodded. "I know I probably should have asked earlier. It's just this is really weird for me, and I was nervous… Is this a bad time?"

"No," House replied, thinking too frantically to come up with a witty reply.

"Oh, good," Chase didn't sound particularly relieved. "You're not… Expecting anyone, are you?"

"Wilson has a date tonight, and I don't usually have other people over," House replied, and it was true, because Excalibur was a kitten, not a person.

"Okay," And now Chase looked relieved, which House thought was a bit odd.

"Let's go, I guess."

When House opened his front door and turned on the light, there was a terrible yowling sound and a black flash. Chase started screaming something about giant rats as he turned crazy circles, wildly shaking his right leg. He knew it wasn't a good time to admire the way Chase's shaggy hair fluttered as he moved or how when he was panicked his eyes were bright green-blue… And then House was struck by a sudden realization. The green-blue eyes he'd seen every morning and every night for the past month were almost exactly the same hue as Chase's.

"Are you just going to stand there as I'm eaten alive!" Chase asked, voice high as he kicked around.

"If you stop moving, Excalibur will probably let go," House said, feigning boredom. "She's more scared of you than you are of her."

"Excalibur! You've named the rat!" Chase was making a visible effort to calm himself, and House was vaguely disappointed to lose the rare sight of a Chase that wasn't calm and composed.

"She's a kitten, and I should know the difference because she's killed a few mice and left them on my bed as a present," House said, watching as Excalibur loosened her hold on Chase's leg, and he felt sorry for her because he knew he'd have a hard time letting go of such a… Never mind, that was off track and dangerous territory. "See, that wasn't so hard. She's let go now. Now, if you're done abusing my pet, you can go clear the couch off because that's where you'll be sleeping."

"I didn't know you had a kitten," Chase said, his eyes following Excalibur as she stalked over to House and deftly climbed his pant leg. "That's very… Endearing."

"It's not endearing," House scowled. "And if you insist on saying so you'll find yourself sleeping outside."

Later that night, after the silence became unbearable, they did experiments on the cat. First they fed her varying amounts of peanut butter and timed how long she licked her chops. After that they wet their fingers and let the water drop onto her back to see how quickly she'd attack. They put her food bowl on the counter and pretended to eat it all, watching as she stalked and hissed angrily. They conversed on the couch and ignored her attempts for attention until she finally bit House's hand as hard as she could. It felt rather like a slumber party and it was all in the name of medical science, of course.

"Are you really that lonely?" Chase asked, his eyes following House's hand as he stroked a sulking Excalibur.

"Why would you think I'm lonely?" House didn't look up from the lazy green-blue eyes staring up at him.

"You don't strike me as a cat person," Chase said simply. "Why else would you buy one?"

"She has pretty eyes," House said without meaning to, and immediately regretted it.

"They're the same color as mine."

House made a noncommittal sound in the back of his throat. He stood slowly, muttering some excuse to Chase about being tired. He could feel two pairs of blue-green eyes watching him as he made his way to the bedroom; one from his arms and one from the couch.

A few minutes later, lying in bed with Excalibur at his cheek, the door creaked slowly open. There was a moment of silence and then the bed dipped down under the weight of another body. House turned his head to meet Chase's eyes. Excalibur, disturbed from sleep, jumped off the bed and slinked, unnoticed, away.

"I hope I'm not reading too much into things," Chase breathed out softly.

Before House could reply, soft lips were over his own. His breath caught in his throat. He brought a hand up to run through Chase's hair, pressing his fingers through the shaggy silk strands and down to rest against the nape of Chase's warm neck. He sighed softly as he felt the comfortable weight of a body over his own, a warmth he hadn't felt in a long time. A protest almost escaped when Chase pulled away, but he managed to stifle it behind a groan.

"Is this okay?" Chase asked, his fingers tracing House's lips.

"Hell yes," House sucked in a deep breath and his tongue just barely brushed over Chase's finger. He closed his eyes, shivering. "Don't stop now."

The next morning, Chase left for work early. When House got to his desk, there was a vase with a single red rose. Beside the vase was a small catnip mouse. He picked up a note tied to the stem of the rose.

I hope you like the rose. I saw it and, due to recent discoveries, thought maybe you weren't steel inside and might like something sweet sometimes. I didn't figure you'd like a stuffed animal, though, so I got the mouse for Excalibur.

He felt his lips twitch alarmingly.