A/N: OK, OK, I know I was going to work on my epilogue story, and I am but I'm not ready to post it yet so I thought I would try something else. I was interested in trying to figure out why Chase and House forgave each other. So hope you enjoy. The first chapter is short because it is setting the stage. This takes place before my other story Conflicts.
Also, I could really use a beta reader. English isn't really my only first language (I learned Afrikaans and English at the same time) and I'm a veterinarian so most of what I write normally has to do with how much a calf or a dog weighs. If you are interested, leave me a message in the review section. Thanks
Disclaimer: I don't own these people and a good thing too because I'm not very nice to them.
It was 1:30 in the morning when Chase trudged up the six flights of stairs to his loft. He was so tired he didn't even bother to keep his eyes open as he walked, trusting that he knew the way well enough. He slowly managed to work the key into his front door and slid in, resting his back against the door once he had closed it. This was the first time he had been home in almost three days. He quickly fed his fish then staggered up to his bed. He didn't even bother taking off his scrubs, just kicked off his shoes and fell face first into his bed and was dead asleep before he even hit the pillow.
House had been on the rampage the last few weeks. He still hadn't forgiven Chase for talking to Vogler and the elder doctor was taking great joy in punishing him. It was nothing huge, mostly petty stuff like not letting Chase take lunch breaks or making him do grunt work but it was getting worse. He hadn't let the Aussie take a day off in almost seven weeks and between Cuddy's new rotations through ICU, clinic, and working for House, he working at least 16 hour days almost every day and sometimes up to 20 hours. He was so tired he could barely see straight.
At 4:30 his phone rang and Chase almost ignored, almost but didn't. He rolled over, knocking his glasses and a bottle of water off his side table trying to find the phone. It took him two tries to answer it; coordination wasn't his strong suit when he was half asleep.
"Hello." Chase mumbled into the receiver, face still half pressed into the pillow.
"Good morning, Chase." House intoned, much too chipper for this time of the night.
Chase squinted blearily at his clock finally managing to make out the time. "It's not morning; it's the middle of the bloody night." Chase groused.
"You say tomayto, I say tomoto." House answered. He had set his alarm for 4:15 so he could get up and wake Chase up. It was so very much fun to screw the Aussie. Foreman got mad, Cameron got hurt, but Chase just took everything in stride. He had now made it his personal challenge to find something that would make the youngest duckling yell at him. Maybe lack of sleep would get Chase grouchy enough to do it. He had come close a few weeks ago. He had mentioned in front of the other ducklings that Chase had only been hired because of Daddy's international pull. Foreman had laughed and said he knew it. Cameron and smiled and indulged the idea and Chase had looked furious. But in true Chase style, he had said nothing, seething internally and then went and ran 8 miles over his dinner break. House had then sent him to go baby sit sick people in the clinic.
"What do want House? You told me I didn't have to be in until 10am today. You were going to let me get some sleep." Chase mumbled even worse. He was quickly loosing his valiant fight to stay awake.
"Stop whining. We have a patient admitted through the ER last night. He is presenting with neurological symptoms. I need you to go check him out."
"If it is neurological, then call a neurologist. Wake up Foreman."
"No, Foreman gets grumpy when you wake him up. Besides, he needs his beauty sleep more than you. I told them you would be there at 5 am. I left the file on my desk. So you had best get up and get ready. And wear something nice today. I'm tired of you looking like an orderly running around in scrubs." House threw in, hiding a laugh.
"Fine." Chase hung up the phone and sat up immediately. He knew if he stayed lying down he would fall back asleep. He rubbed his hand over his stubbly jaw and aching head. He had been grinding his teeth while he slept and his jaw neck and head ached. The inside of his eye lids felt like they had sand paper on them. After one sigh, he curse at House, he got up, got ready, and headed to work.
He was slightly late, he got there at 5:10 am but who was counting. He decided to walk to work, hoping the cool air and movement would help wake him up. They did somewhat, but not as much as he chocolate covered espresso beans he had been eating.
Chase looked over the file as he made his way to the ER. It looked pretty standard. Head trauma and mild neurological symptoms after a motor vehicle accident, which made no sense why House would be interested. But Chase would dutifully go and check on the patient like House told him to. Maybe, just maybe if he was good enough and obedient enough, House would finally forgive him. He knew he had made a mistake going to Vogler or rather taking Vogler up on his offer when the man had come to see him. But he had just been so angry at House for forcing him to face his father and so scared of losing his job he hadn't been able to think straight. Not that it mattered anymore. There was no longer anything even remotely appealing about his job. The only perk it still had was that it was 15,000k away from his father. But even that had a down side because he was ridiculously homesick, which was just adding to blue funk he had been in for the last few months.
He walked up to the duty nurse and smiled pleasantly at her. "I'm looking for Mr. Jenkins. Dr. House told me to come down and take a look at him."
Vera, an older nurse with at least 20 years of experience smiled back at him, hardened but still kind hearted. She pointed him towards one of the curtained off bays. Chase returned the smiled and left to go see his newest patient. He had taken House's advice and worn a pair of black trousers, a charcoal grey shirt with a dark tie. If House wanted him to look nice, he would look nice.
"Good morning, Mr. Jenkins, I'm Dr. Chase." He said as he walked in without looking up from the chart.
"Really," a small giggle, "call me Maxine." A fake nail bedecked hand was extended to him and he looked up into the face of a rather imposing drag queen.
Chase repeatedly cursed House in every language he knew as a constant litany inside his head as he pulled up a stool and sat down. "Maxine, then." He smiled, wishing he had stayed in his frumpy scrubs, damn House!
After an hour and a half of examining every bump, bruise, and imagined injury on the hypochondriac he-she, Chase was greatly relieved. Not only had 'it' spent the entire time flirting with him but Maxine had pinched his bum, and Chase was pretty sure she had gotten an erection while he was checking a cut on her leg. He wanted to go bathe in bleach. He felt even more sorry for the poor nurse, who was trying not to laugh.
House did this on purpose. He knew Chase hated people ogling him. If he didn't notice, that was one thing but this was just annoying and disgusting. Chase was very sensitive about being thought of as a mindless pretty boy. He hadn't been attractive while he was young and still didn't think he was that great looking but that didn't change the fact that he was sort of shy and insecure about people gawking at him. He wished he had never admitted such to House.
He handed the file back to Vera the nurse. "Here you go, ma'am, all done. Now I am going to go dip myself in the most caustic cleaner I can find." She laughed at him.
"What you need is a good night's sleep, Dr. Chase." She told him, concerned. Dr. Chase was a nice man for doctor. She didn't see him that often because he mostly stayed in the ICU but he did come down to help out occasionally. He was always polite and respectful of the nurses and was easy on the eyes. He wasn't high handed like Foreman, rude like House, or constantly looking for validation like Cameron.
"Tell House that." He sighed.
"I make it a point to never speak to House if it can be avoided." She was a wise woman.
"Maybe I need to employ that theory."
"Maybe you need to be employed in a different department."
"Maybe." He sighed. He used to love working with House. He greatly respected House and both his other colleagues. At least he respected their medical abilities if he didn't respect them as people. House could be very funny, when he wanted to be and the jibes didn't even bother him that much. They used to be in good fun and mostly about petty things like looks or his accent. But then things had changed. House made it quite clear that he had planned to fire Chase and that Chase had only gotten the job because Rowan had called in a favour. The fact that House had never actually respected him much less respected him now just plain hurt.
But he still didn't want to leave. Part was that Chase had been happy here. And part of it was that Chase had always had a pathologically hard time letting things go. He held grudges like crazy and horded joys, sorrows, and pain like they were wealth. He would definitely be the type of Captain, who went down with the ship always harbouring the small hope she could be saved. But he had learned a long time ago that most things couldn't be saved unless they wanted to be and that once something broke it was almost impossible to fix it again.
There was also the more petty and selfish side of him that wanted to stay to prove to his father that he could do it. Rowan had literally laughed in his face, when Robert had told him that he wanted to work for House. He had told his son that Robert wasn't good enough or smart enough to last a month with House. Rowan was more than willing to set his boy up with some cushy fellowship somewhere in Sydney or better yet if he would switch specialties, he would bring him on in the Rheumatology department at Monash University Hospital in Melbourne, where he worked. But Robert refused and went through with interviewing with House.
During the first face to face interview, House had mentioned that Rowan had called and Chase thought his head was going to explode. Chase hadn't bothered to finish the interview but politely thanked Drs Cuddy, Wilson, and House for their time then walked out. He guessed his father had won. Rowan had to have known that Robert wouldn't take any job that had been given to him through nepotism. Chase had sat in his hotel room that night, feeling sorry for himself and picking at his room service, when House had called him and offered him the fellowship. Chase had politely told him that he was no longer interested and he was sorry if he hadn't made that clear earlier, he would be returning to Sydney the next day. House had only said one thing to him. "Come on, the old man thought you couldn't do it on your own. Prove him wrong." Then House had hung up. A month later, Chase was working at PPTH with House.
The whole thing had been a double edged sword though. House had hired him because he realized there was trauma there but House found trauma interesting. So House picked and prodded trying to find the root of the cause, trying to find the wound, not to fix it but just to understand it. But Chase hated people being intrusive. He was extremely secretive because that was how he had been raised. He had spent his entire life covering up for other people's problems so hiding pain and weakness was as natural as breathing for him. House didn't like it and that was where they tended to lock horns, when House wanted to know something and Chase wanted to keep it secret.
House had found out a lot though, way more than Robert wanted. And now House was using it against him. Calling him names and belittling him in front of the other ducklings. Drawing attention to his faults and openly ridiculing his abilities. It made him feel like shit. He was quickly approaching how miserable he was before he left Australia to begin with. He didn't want to quit, but he also didn't know how much longer he could put up with this.
His self pity was interrupted by a shout of his name. Dr. Ramsey, the on call doctor in the ER needed help. There were four patients coming in, all with fevers well over 104 and rising. Chase flew into action, confident that he could at least be of some use down here.
Three hours later, six more patients had arrived with similar symptoms. Extremely high fevers, wet productive coughs, encephalitic, and meningitial presentations, but no rash, and nausea and vomiting were the universal ones. Two of the original patients were already dead. Chase had called them both about half an hour ago. All the ducklings were assembled and were waiting for House, who was late. Cuddy had assigned the cases to House without even waiting for him to complain.
Chase finally spoke up. "We might as well start on the blood work and CT scans while we wait for House. God only knows when he will get here."
"I'll set up the scans you guys get to work on getting us some blood." Foreman agreed, annoyed he hadn't been the one to suggest it.
"I think we should wait for House. He may have other tests he wants run." Good old Cameron, couldn't make a decision to save a drowning child. She wouldn't make a move until House told her to.
Before any of them could disagree, Chase's pager went off, saying nothing other than there was a Code and what room. He took off running towards the ICU. The other two stared at each other for a moment. It was never a good sign when Chase was the one that was paged first and was even worse when he took off at a dead run without telling them what was going on. It was Chase's job in the team to perform the mechanics of keeping patients alive. He ran the Codes, he generally performed the procedures, and he was the one who was usually waiting in recovery after surgeries. So if he was the first one paged, it meant someone was dying.
Within less than a minute, the other heard their pagers go off too and headed towards the correct room number. Chase was already barking orders. The ICU team moved in a smooth dance from months of working together. Foreman and Cameron were trying to figure out how to cut in, when Chase pulled out the paddles for the first shock. After that, the other two doctors pushed their way in to help their fellow duckling.
But it made little difference. Like the two before, no amount of trying would bring them back and Chase signed this third death certificate for the morning. It wasn't a good morning. Chase went to go talk to the family, Foreman went to set up scans, and Cameron stood staring at the dead body as the nurses finished disconnecting it from the machines. She just didn't understand how Chase and Foreman could be so nonchalant about the fact that someone just died.
She wanted to weep. She hated seeing loss even though as a doctor she should be immune from the pain. All she could think of was this poor man's family and friends. How they had woken up this morning and everything was fine and now everything was wrong. She wouldn't let herself cry in public but she would when she got home. Alone to her pillow she would release the pain of her and the teams' failure.
Foreman, he was angry. He took death a personal affront to his skill. Dying patients were annoying because they couldn't be controlled or bullied into doing what he wanted. He would be in a pissy mood for the rest of the day. Then he would go home, talk to his girlfriend and blame someone else. Because if a patient died, it was someone's fault and it was someone other than him. Chase ran the Code and the patient didn't live, so it must be Chase's fault. He already felt better.
Chase didn't react much at all. He was used to it. Being an intensivist, most of his patients were half dead to begin with. If you could still breathe on your own, than you weren't that interesting to him. But it wasn't like it didn't bother him. He just didn't show it. What was the point? He had done everything he could and it was just that man's time to go. Life and death were decided by God and they were things that couldn't be controlled by mortals. At least that was what he told himself as he went to face the weeping widow.
It took Chase almost an hour to get the family calmed down and answer all their questions. They were most put out that the body wouldn't be immediately returned to them but kept for an autopsy. He rubbed his hand over his face as he walked into the lab to find Cameron preparing the kits to take blood. It was only quarter after eleven and he was exhausted. While he was talking to the family had been the first time he had sat down for more than a few minutes since 4:30 in the morning.
Cameron looked over at Chase. He looked tired. "How did the family take it?" She asked.
"About how I expected. A lot of screaming, wailing, gnashing of teeth, and that was just me." He smiled at her, trying to lighten the mood.
"I can't believe you are joking about this. Those poor people just lost a member of their family. There lives will never be the same." She snapped. She hated the glib way Chase dealt with death. He obviously didn't understand how horrible it could be to loose someone you love.
"Have you never heard of gallows humour?" Chase asked.
"Yes, and I don't find it funny in the least. You should have more respect. If it was someone you cared about, would you want the doctors laughing about it behind your back? I know I wouldn't. One day you will learn how awful it is to lose someone." She sniffled.
'You'd be surprised what I know about loss sweetheart.' Chase thought but out loud he said. "Let's just go get the samples and start working on them." Why did he ever try having a conversation with this woman? Everything ended up about House, how you should love everyone and everything, or about how terrible her life had been. It made his head hurt.
They made their way to the ICU and Chase checked the vitals of each patient and filled out the charts as Cameron took blood. When they were with the last patient, Ms. Cooper, a 23 year old administrative assistant and bible school teacher House arrived. Cameron had just removed the needle when she saw him.
"Dr. House." She smiled pleasantly. He motioned for them to come out of the room to talk to them and Cameron dropped everything to answer his summons. Chase told her to go. He wasn't finished yet and didn't want to watch her flirt with their boss. But House wasn't about to be ignored.
"Chase, how is Mr. Jenkins?"
"You mean Maxine? She is fine. I left her case notes upstairs for you to sign off on, when you get the time." Chase answered pleasantly. He wasn't about to give House the satisfaction of seeing him mad. He turned back to the patient and noticed blood dripping from her arm. Cameron hadn't bothered to tape up the hole she had taken the blood from, too concerned with getting to House. Chase sighed and reached for the woman's arm to bandage it. While he was sliding her arm back under the covers, he felt a sharp prick in left index finger. He looked down and noticed that Cameron had left the flobodomy needle on the side of the bed in her hurry to get to House.
He grabbed the offending needle and threw it in the disposal bin, about to examine his finger when he heard loud angry beeps from across the hall. A fourth patient was coding. Without thinking, he and Cameron raced to aid the dying teenager.