A/N: Long wait huh? I took my time on this section and still am not thrilled with it but I give up. When I can't enjoy my holiday in Hawaii (I ran the Iron Man there last weekend, forgive I'm proud of myself) because I am obsessing over whether I made House too nice or too mean, it is time to wash my hands of it and just post the stupid thing.
I know it's long, but hope you enjoy it anyway. And thanks for all the reviews glowing and otherwise.
Disclaimer: I don't own these people and a good thing too because I'm not very nice to them.
Sleeping Beauty 4
Chase slumped over the wheeley side table with his head pillowed on his bent arm. Foreman bustled around the room, readying his props to test Chase's neurological state and cognitive function. Chase closed his eyes under his glasses as his vision went double and wonky again. It was nauseating. He coughed, trying to cover up the fact he was about to hurl. He had slept nearly undisturbed since House and the other's left over 12 hours ago but was still tired enough to sleep another twelve.
"You ok, man? We can wait till later to do this." Foreman offered. He had dropped by about an hour and a half ago to test Chase, but sitting up had made the Aussie toss his cookies so Foreman decided to postpone it. Chase still looked pretty piss poor but he hadn't thrown up yet.
"No, if you insist on doing this, let's just get it over with. Even though I told you, I'm fine." Chase answered. He really didn't feel fine, but Foreman didn't need to know that. Even talking made his head explode in pain, coughing was even worse.
"Clearly, that's why you are lying in a bed in your precious ICU. Sorry if I don't believe you but you lost some serious street credit when it comes to your ability to gauge your own health. Considering you kept telling us you were 'fine, just tired' while you were walking around with a 104 fever and a potentially lethal brain infection."
"Hey, House finally let me take a day off, didn't he?" Chase defended himself, giving a weak smile. It hurt to smile.
Foreman laid a set of cards down in front of Chase. Each depicted a scene with a girl and a horse. Chase looked at them blandly, not even bothering to lift his head up. Foreman had a sneaking suspicion the blonde felt worse than he was letting on. There was no way Chase had recovered from full blown encephalitis this quickly. "Arrange these cards to make a story." He sat down, ready to take notes.
Chase looked at the cards for a moment. The first one showed a girl happily riding a horse, the second showed a girl walking up to a horse. The third showed a girl driving along a barn road. And the fourth showed the girl running with a saddle in hand. They were clearly supposed to go in the order of driving up, walking to the horse, putting on the saddle, then riding. Chase decided to screw with Foreman out of boredom. He arranged them so the girl was walking, riding, tacking, then driving. "Here." He handed them back to Foreman.
"What is the story behind these?" He asked, a little worried Chase had gotten them completely out of order but willing to give his colleague the benefit of the doubt.
"She walking up to the horse to meet him, I'm assuming a gelding because she is young and probably inexperienced. Then she takes him back to the barn where the stable hands tack him up for her while she puts on her pretty dressage coat and hat that mummy and daddy paid through the nose for because she wanted to ride white pony's like in the cartoons. Then she rides out on him and realizes that it isn't nearly as fun as heroines make it look and is a lot more work so she falls off. I'm reading that part into the story because there is no card for that. After she falls, she is angry and snatches off her saddle, which mummy and daddy probably paid for as well because Mitzy couldn't ride a school saddle. Then Mum picks her up and they are driving away while the horse has a self-satisfied horsey laugh at her." Chase had to stop twice during his story to cough.
"'Kay. What's dressage?" Foreman removed the cards, not sure how to note this part of the test.
"Philistine," Chase commented, "it's riding technique where you guide a horse through a sequence of predetermined maneuvers, while showing as little movement as possible on the part of the rider."
"Snob." Foreman shot back good naturedly. It wasn't often Chase let his upper class roots show, but anything dealing with horses or yachting was a dead give away. Foreman hadn't even seen a horse in person unless a policeman was riding it until he was well into his 20s. "Do you ride horses?"
"Not for a while. My horse lives with my grandparents and I haven't seen her for 5 or 6 years." Chase changed the subject back to the tests. He was starting to get really dizzy and queasy again and wanted Foreman gone before he fainted or something equally unpleasant. "That isn't really a fair test, you know. You can put the cards in any order and come up with a story to suit them."
"Next test. I'm going to ask you a series of math problems. I want you to give me the answers." Chase gave Foreman the thumbs up, coughing too hard to actually speak. "10 – 6?"
"4, and to save time, the last five answers are 36, 15, 9, 11, and 7. And the answer to the ultimate question is 42." Foreman stared at him confusedly. "Not a fan of science fiction, I see." Foreman looked peeved but pleased at the same time. "Give me something harder, I've given that same test to people in this same room hundreds of times. You don't think I have memorized the answers?" Chased coughed a few more times.
"So long term memory is ok. What is a nine letter word for iodine defiance in children?" Foreman thought to give his fellow duckling something hard to answer.
"Cretinism," Chase answered.
"Why should that remind you of something?" The elder doctor asked as he produced two pens and two sheets of paper.
"It was in a crossword I was working on before we worked on that lacrosse player, Dan."
"Very good. I couldn't remember which case it was. I thought it was the organophosphate kids." Foreman smiled at Chase. The Aussie was starting to look pretty tired and was coughing quite a bit.
"No, I was doing cryptograms that day but they are too easy."
"I always thought they were harder than crossword puzzles." Foreman suggested.
"No, cryptograms are easy because they are just pattern recognition." Chase answered, unconsciously rubbing the bridge of his nose, trying to massage away his headache.
"Ok, draw what I draw." Foreman drew a series of interconnecting circles, then interconnecting triangles, and finally two parallel squares. Chase mimicked them perfectly then turned the circles into a grinning bumble bee, the triangles into an angry centipede, and the squares into a sideways bottle of Vicodin. Not his best work because his vision was getting blurry again, but still not bad. Foreman looked at him and scowled as he then finished off by perfectly forging Foreman's signature like the one the eldest duckling was scribbling on his chart.
"Are we done now?" He coughed badly as he handed the sheet to Foreman. Even though there was only one light turned on in the room, it was hurting his eyes to keep them open and he was getting very sleepy.
"Yeah, we're done. You're fine."
"And if you would ever loosen up, you might be pretty cute too." Chase snarked at him innocently.
Foreman heard Chase start hacking even worse and looked over at him. "Did the respiratory specialist give you anything for that cough?"
"Sure." Chase motioned to an inhaler of Albuterol sitting on the other side table. Foreman handed it to him with a glass of water, both of which he refused; the water, because, he felt nauseous and the asthma meds out of pride. "I don't need it." He coughed again, lessening the reality of the statement.
"Just take it." Foreman grabbed Chase's hand and put the small blue nozzle in it, completely exasperated. The Aussie still refused. "For the love of God, take the stupid medication. If for no other reason, then the rest of the ward doesn't want to listen to you hack up a lung." Chase did nothing and Foreman glared almost menacingly at him, trying to hide his concern. He would hate to have to break in a new coworker. The blonde finally capitulated and inhaled the medication. It hit the back of his throat with a bitter, metallic twang and made him cough even more for a moment. But then he felt the tightness in his chest ease and his breaths came more easily. "See, that wasn't so bad. Now get some sleep." Foreman moved the table Chase had been draped across and lowered his fellow duckling's bed. He shut off the light and headed to check on the rest of their patients.
As soon as Foreman left, Chase rolled over on to his side and curled up into a small ball. His head was pounding so much it made him feel like he wanted to hurl. The pain was almost unbearable and it was steeling away his ability to relax and sleep. It might not have been so bad if he had just told Foreman to come back later or had stopped in the middle of the test when the pain started getting excruciating. But he couldn't bring himself to admit to it in front of another duckling or anyone else. It was too ingrained in him to hide things away from other people. So he had done his best to be his usual self to Foreman even though he felt awful.
His neck was complaining, so he tried to move into a more comfortable position. It spiked pain through is head, making him feel bile rise in the back of his throat. He swallowed thickly, trying to fend off the urge to vomit even though he really wanted to. He had no desire to bother the nurses over something like that. After all, he had to work with these people and it would just be too embarrassing. So instead she stayed curled up with his head under the covers, counting backwards from 100 every few minutes until he finally fell asleep.
Back in the diagnostics office, House tossed his ball back and forth over his desk to Wilson. They talked about nothing of consequence, just relaxing and shooting the shit. They both needed to detox after the last few days. Wilson had been worried about House. House had been stressed about the outbreak and then more worried than he cared to admit about Chase. Now that things were getting back to normal they both just wanted something mindless to do.
Unfortunately, Foreman spoiled their fun. Cameron was in the clinic so they had been alone until the eldest duckling walked into the room without even knocking. Though to be fair, what is the point of knocking on glass doors; it isn't like the person behind it doesn't see you. House missed the ball as Wilson tossed it to him and it rolled behind his chair. Wilson immediately rose to fetch it for the older doctor. Foreman thought it was sad.
"So, how is wombat doing? Can he still wiggle his toes and recite his alphabet, even the silent letter and made up letters?"
"Silent letters?" Wilson questioned as he handed the ball back to House.
"The letter 'R' doesn't exist in Chase's repertoire. You never noticed that you don't drive a 'car' but a 'cah'. Then there is that imaginary vowel that falls somewhere between 'a' and 'e' and apparently can only be uttered directly through the sinuses." House pointed out. When Chase had started working for him, House had taken great delight in making the Aussie recite the alphabet to remind him that the letter 'R' existed. After a few weeks, House had noticed that Chase made an effort to suppress his accent at work and to not use any Aussie-ism like 'mate' or 'reckon.' At the time, he had thought it was interesting but hadn't given it much thought beyond Chase being tired of getting picked on. But now he realized that Chase had been willfully suppressing himself to try and fit in more and make House happy.
"At least he has gotten better about inflecting up at the end of every sentence like he is asking a question." Wilson pointed out.
"Are you two interested in the results or do you just want to sit around and pick apart the linguistic differences between Australia and the US?" Foreman snapped. He loved Wilson, it was hard not to. He respected House, even if he didn't technically like him. But when you got the two together, they tended to go slightly retarded. It drove him crazy, the constant bantering back and forth and saying nothing. What the hell was the point!
"Wow, someone got up on the wrong side of the drug rep this morning?" House scolded as he held his hand out for Chase's file. He then put it immediately on his desk. Foreman's writing was so bad even he couldn't decipher it half the time. "So what did you find?"
"I doubt there are going to be any permanent neurological problems. Reflexes are all good. His eyes still aren't tracking right but that is probably still from the lingering infection and I think he still has a pretty wicked headache but other than that he seems to be on the mend."
"He's annoying." Foreman answered. Chase knew the point of the tests, so why couldn't he just take them and get it over with excluding all the needless sarcasm and yanking of Foreman's chain.
"Why?" Wilson asked. He couldn't quite understand the persistent animosity between Chase and Foreman. He respected Foreman, it was difficult not to but he liked Chase. The Aussie could be really funny and was a good break from House every now and again. He and Chase often met in the park to run together on Saturdays and the blonde never complained about being asked to dog sit if he couldn't take his dog with him somewhere.
Foreman explained the results of the tests and even showed the picture Chase drew with the interconnecting shapes. House couldn't hide a grin at the Vicodin bottle. "I'm going to put this on the ice box." House said, admiring the drawing like a proud father. "So he seems better than OK. He seems back to his normal self, which probably means he is about to drop dead." House commented. "I'll check on him myself later." House commented and shooed Foreman out.
Chase was pretty much left alone for the next three hours. Cameron came by twice that he noticed, but he acted like he was asleep so he didn't have to deal with her. He knew it was rude but did it anyway. He wasn't in the mood for company. He hadn't realized how uncomfortable hospital beds where, how often ICU staff came in to bother the patients, and how hard it was to stay polite with a blinding headache. He wanted to go home, not eat his own food, throw up in his own trash can, and curl up in his own bed, under his own sheets, and sleep until this retched pain went away.
Around lunch time, House came strolling, or as much as he can stroll, into Chase's room with Wilson following him. In his good hand, the elder doctor carried a telephone from one of the conference rooms. He placed it on the table and plugged it in, just out of Chase's reach. The Aussie pushed him self up slightly and watched House quizzically.
"Hello, sleepy head." House said sweetly. Chase allowed his eyes to slide to the side table, where his book of fairy tales and rosary beads still rested. House looked slightly guilty.
"You sent Foreman to break into my flat." Chase accused.
"Don't be ridiculous. Wilson and I did it." Chase looked over at Wilson, who shifted his eyes away from meeting Chase's glare.
"Uh, you have a nice place, very open." Wilson commented and coughed. Chase continued to pout.
"Oh stop being such a whiner. I'm always having you and Foreman break into other people's homes. Why should you be any different?" House snapped to offset the feeling that he had been in the wrong to invade Chase's privacy. "Anyway, how are you feeling?"
"Fine." Chase mumbled. Sitting up had been a really bad idea. He rolled over and tried to curl back up, hoping House would leave and let him go back to sleep.
"Good. I have someone for you to talk to." House raised the top of Chase's bed up so that he could recline against it, and then started to dial a very long phone number. Chase had a sinking feeling in his gut but said nothing.
Several rings sounded and Chase could tell by the sound of them that it was not a US call. He was caught somewhere between wanting to throw up and wanting to deck House. Maybe he should just throw up on House. Chase mentally figured the 14 hour time difference and realized that it was about 4:30 in the morning back home in Melbourne.
"Hello." After five rings a sleepy, raspy voice answered. If Chase had been able to flee he would have run out of the room.
"Hello, Rowan." House said. "Thought I would try you at home this time, easier than sitting through phone menus."
"What do you want, House?" Rowan, now fully awake, sounded like he could frost metal with the freeze in his tone.
"I told you I'd call you if Chase junior died." He paused, hoping Rowan would make some emotional declaration of love to his only son but alas there was none.
"He didn't." Rowan stated matter of factly. "You would sound a great deal more down trodden or drunk if you had failed to cure him. So I'll take a leap and assume he is alive and kicking, probably even sitting in the room with you right now, along with your ever present side kick, Dr. Wilson." For once, it was House grinding his teeth. Ok, maybe now he understood why Chase always looked like he had a headache whenever someone mentioned his father. Stupid know-it-all doctor trying to make everyone else feel inferior!
"Hello, Rowan." Wilson said, somewhat embarrassed. He was not House's "side kick."
"Why exactly did you feel you needed to wake me up in the middle of the night, when a simple e-mail or phone message would have sufficed?" Rowan asked coldly. House looked over at his Chase and noticed he now had his arms wrapped around his knees and his head resting on them.
"I don't know, we thought we would be nice and let you talk to your son, since he almost died and everything." House snapped. This was really not going how he had hoped. One day, maybe, he would learn to keep his nose out of this particular relationship. All others were fair game though.
"Well, Robert. What do you have to say for yourself? What happened?"
"I got sick. I'm better now." Robert gave the shorted possible version of the story in between coughs.
"How?" Rowan sounded almost bored.
"I was infected with a virus. It multiplied. My immune system kicked in and produced antibodies against it. It's been nice talking to you. We'll chat again in another two years or when I feel like beating my head against a brick wall." Chase replied rather sarcastically. House hadn't been expecting Chase to take this so well. He had assumed that Chase would get all weepy and whiney, but he just seemed more annoyed than anything.
The elder Chase completely ignored the sarcasm and the brush off, much like he seemed to disregard everything his son said. "So tell me how exactly, you managed to contract a disease that exists solely in mosquitoes that live in billabongs?" Rowan asked, sounding rather blasé. House was slightly amused that Rowan at least cared enough to research the illness. Being in Australia he would have almost no cause to have ever seen Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
"I stuck my finger with a needle and was infected." Robert answered, embarrassed.
"And you didn't think to tell your superiors what had happened so that you could take the proper measures?" House could just imagine Rowan saying this while standing up, hands in pockets, looking down at his son.
"There was a code just after it happened and I forgot about it. I was distracted." Chase tried to make excuses in between coughs. He had closed his eyes for a moment and his forehead was wrinkled in pain.
Rowan sighed. "Robert, I am very disappointed in you. You should know better than that. It was a shameful disregard for procedure. Suppose that the disease had been something you could spread to others. Your wanton ignoring of what should have been done could have cost lives. Hospitals do not pay doctors to endanger the lives of patients, Dr. Chase. You are employed to help them." The lecture continued and Chase closed his eyes so he didn't have to look at the other two doctors. House thought the speech sounded like something a supervisor would administer to an underling. There was no warmth, compassion, or even familiarity in it. Nor, could he believe that Rowan had addressed his son by his title. He guessed that there was probably love buried somewhere under the sterile manner but he couldn't hear it. He wondered if Robert could. But then again, he had heard Robert be just as frigid when trying to push people away, usually Cameron or himself.
House looked at Wilson and the oncologist stood uncomfortably leaning against the door. He hadn't been happy with this scheme from the inception and was now even more disgruntled with it, as Robert tried to defend himself.
"I didn't know I was sick. I thought I was just really tired and had a migraine. If I had known I was ill I would have gone home." He seemed to plead to be believed. A thought struck House, if he had let his duckling go home when he had asked, Chase probably would not have survived. Without the drugs to keep his fever down and help his breathing, quite probably would have gone to sleep and never woken back up – chilling.
"Or you were just in some ridiculous pissing contest with Dr. Foreman, trying to prove who could work longer? I'm happy he is working with you. Dr. Foreman is a good doctor and you can learn from him."
Robert bit his lip and snapped. "Then maybe you should have trolled the ghettos of Los Angeles for a mother for your prodigal son rather than the ballet houses of Heidelberg. Though I don't think she's Baptist not Catholic." House was shocked to see Chase standing up for himself, especially against someone whose opinion mattered so much to him.
"Why do you always bring that woman up?" He sighed.
"Because she is the only thing we still have in common."
"Robert, this childish petulance is neither productive nor professional." Rowan scolded.
"I'm sorry, sir, I'll get my stethoscope and lab coat and we can talk about lupus and churg-strauss. I wasn't aware I was supposed to maintain a professional demeanor, while I am talking to my own father." Wilson slowly tried to sneak out of the room but House grabbed him and wouldn't let him leave, thoroughly enjoying the display.
"When was the last time you went to church?" Rowan asked, now that the worry had worn off he was angry with his son and trying to hurt him. He realized he was being a coldhearted ass but was too old to change. Besides if his son hated him maybe his death would be easier.
"When was the last time you visited your wife's grave?" Chase the younger countered. House sank into a chair, feeling guilty at the pleasure he was deriving from listening to the two fight. There was almost a certain beauty to listening to razor sharp insults being thinly veiled in polite indifference. But then Rowan seemed to wise up to the show they were putting on and snapped something in a language that House didn't understand. He guessed it was Czech. Chase answered in kind though more slowly. It was tough to gage anger and sarcasm in another language but they both still sounded pissed.
At one point, Rowan said something that made Robert's eyes fill with tears and House would have paid good money to know what was said. But finally the elder Dr. Chase switched back to English and said. "It's very late and I am going back to bed. When you wish to contact me again, I would appreciate that you do so at the office. That goes for you as well, Dr. House."
"Don't worry, IF I contact you again it will be through email." Chase answered and the line went dead. Chase buried his face in his knees, hiding it from the other two doctors. Wilson looked on sympathetically for a moment before moving to the bed and placing a reassuring hand on Chase's back. Chase stiffened at the touch and Wilson pulled away. After a moment he lifted his head up slowly, still clearly in a lot of physical pain and spoke quietly. There were tears in his eyes. "My head kind of hurts. Do you mind if I go to sleep?" He sounded like his normal docile self. Not the rude, snippy brat, who had just gotten off the phone.
"Sure, Chase, get some rest. If you need anything, just call." Wilson smiled at him, feeling awful that they had just put him through a sparing match with his old man when he was clearly not up to it.
"I'll be back." House told him and followed Wilson out. Once they were out of earshot he turned to the oncologist. "Wow, that was more exciting than I had hoped, almost as much fun as motor cross."
"Yeah, right." Wilson looked at him skeptically. He knew damn well that House was using jokes to cover up the fact he felt like shit for inflicting that on his sick duckling. "Almost as much fun as a trip to the dentist." He continued to follow the elder doctor to the pharmacy.
Back in the room, Chase ducked his head under the covers, trying to keep his breathing steady until House and Wilson were gone. Once he was sure he was alone, he bit his lip and allowed the tears to fall from his eyes. Damn his father! Damn him to hell! If any other father had heard that their son was as ill as Robert had been, they would have been concerned maybe they would have even come to see their child. But not Rowan, no, Rowan just lectured. That bastard had actually sat their and lectured his own son like an underling without even saying 'hello.'
He felt a tear drip from under his closed lid and slide down his nose, only to dangle on the tip before dropping onto the pillowcase. He wished he could work up the energy to hate his father but he was too tired. He used to hate him, years ago, and he also used to love him. He guessed he still did, loved and hated him, but not to the same degree. He was just worn down and exhausted by the whole thing. He was tired of fighting, tired of being angry, tired of bowing and scrapping for attention then being ignored anyway, tired of trying not to care when it hurt so badly, he was just plan worn out. He couldn't understand why once, just once, the great Dr. Rowan Chase couldn't stop being a doctor and be a father. Chase hated to admit it, even to himself, but all he wanted was for once his father to say that he loved him. So that Chase would know that he was at least as important as Rowan's patients or his research.
The Aussie had almost heard it, when Rowan had been in New Jersey and told his son that the he had missed him. Robert had felt something constrict in his chest then. It was too close to what he had always longed for. Believing it would have made him too happy so he distrusted it. He was too afraid to believe his father because he might get hurt. It was a lot less painful not to hope. He used to hope, when he was much younger. Every few months Rowan would show up, driven by Catholic guilt, and take Robert out to a Cricket match or a Football match. Seeing Rowan would get his son's hopes up that maybe his father would stick around. But always Rowan would drop him off in front of his mother's house with a promise that they would do something after Church on Sunday. Robert would sit in his room and wait for hours on Sunday and Rowan wouldn't come. It would be months before he saw his father again. Robert would stupidly always be hopeful again when he came back. After his mother died, something inside of Robert had broken irreparably and he hadn't been able to hope again after that.
He wished that he could convince himself that it was Rowan who had missed out by not being around him but he couldn't. It had always been painfully obvious that Rowan hadn't needed his son as much as Robert had needed his father. Chase felt like someone was tearing his chest apart from the strain of not screaming. He was mad at his father for hurting him and mad at House for interfering in his personal life again, but most of all he was mad at himself for still being hurt by something that he should have out grown. He coughed into his hands and left them over his face, trying not to cry. He knew with a sickening certainty he would call his father back and apologize, even though Rowan didn't deserve it.
Fifteen minutes later, House came limping back in and Chase almost groaned. He wanted to be left alone, damn it! Crying had been a really bad idea because it made his head hurt even more and he was pretty sure he was going to throw up from it. He tried to pretend he was asleep but House wasn't as easily fooled as Cameron. "I know you aren't asleep." The elder doctor accused.
Chase hastily wiped his face, trying to obliterate any sign of tears before he finally peeped his head out from under the covers where it was warm. The only real complaint he ever had about working in the ICU, was that it was always kept way too cold. He watched House fish two needles from his pocket and uncap one with his teeth. The Aussie reached over and pulled the IV line out of House's grip. "What are those?" He asked.
"They are for your head." House answered around the cap in his teeth.
"What are they?" He refused to relinquish the line back to House until he knew what the elder doctor was giving him.
"Hydromorphone for the pain and orphenadrine to help keep your muscles relaxed. It'll help with your chest and prevent muscle strain from not being able to move your head around." He grabbed the plastic tube back from Chase.
"I know what they are for." He snapped. "I don't want them." He added petulantly.
"Too bad, you're getting them." House stuck the first needle into the injection site of tube and pushed in the liquid. Chase glared at him. House could easily see the red, puffy eyes and tear tracks on the younger doctor's face even though the Aussie had tried to wipe them away. Maybe he had made a slight miscalculation in contacting the Czech Chase.
"Do you ever listen to what other people say to you?" He asked, contemplating clawing out his IV to prevent the drugs from hitting his system but then he felt the slight burn that told him they were already present. He cursed internally. He hated taking pain meds. It just seemed like a cop out to him. He was liberal with their use on his patients and never begrudged House his Vicodin, well almost never, but he just wouldn't use them on himself. It was too easy to try and use them on things other than physical pain and sometimes pain was like a sort of penance.
"Not usually." He injected the muscle relaxant into the tube and watched Chase try to glare at him while the drugs took effect. It only took about four minutes before his duckling was out cold. After Chase was fast asleep his looked down at the Aussie and wiped away the last of the tears that Chase had missed. He felt awful that he had forced his duckling into dealing with his father again. He had just been so sure that it would help this time.
Keeping the secret of Rowan's illness was much harder than he thought it would be, partially because he was a gossip and liked to talk about people and partially because he had been very angry at Chase and wanted to punish him. However, it was mostly because he didn't want to think about how devastated Chase was going to be when Rowan finally died. He couldn't imagine how bad the feeling of betrayal would be, when Chase found out that Rowan had been sick for months but never told his own son. And he had to admit that he was more than a little worried that Chase would never forgive him for not coming clean. He was slightly afraid that after Chase senior was no more, there would be no reason for Chase junior to stay on this side of the globe to finish his fellowship. He had voiced this to Wilson and the oncologist had politely pointed out that Chase might want to stay if House weren't such a bastard to him. House had thrown Skittles at his friend for that. But maybe Wilson was right. Maybe the Aussie needed a friend for a little while, not that he was volunteering. Maybe Wilson would do it.
Since there was no one else around, House stroked Chase's hair off his forehead. It was a very paternal gesture and it felt good, not that he would ever admit it. The only reason he had allowed himself the luxury was that he knew Chase wasn't likely to wake up. After a few pets, his guilt was assuaged and he summoned the nurses to move Chase to a more private room. He didn't think there was any reason for his duckling to still be in the ICU so he was having him moved closer to his own office. Now was as good a time as any because Chase wasn't likely to wake up. He limped back to his office, and called Wilson, it was time for lunch.
About seven hours later, House limped into Chase's room. He had been dozing in his chair since he and Wilson had returned from lunch. When he arrived, he saw Cameron handing a fuzzy, white bear to her fellow duckling. He put it beside a large stuffed panda that had been a gift from Cuddy. Cameron was fawning and mothering him and House could see the look of sheer misery on the Aussie's face. He walked in without knocking and took Chase's dinner, a bowl of homemade chicken soup courtesy of Dr. Gardner. She was a great cook and always bringing Chase left over, which House loved stealing.
"Cameron, go home." He motioned for her to leave. She gave him her cute, pouty, annoyed face but left.
Chase smiled at her and waved goodbye, saying a silent prayer of thanks that she was gone. He appreciated her concern but he was about to strangle her if she didn't stop trying to take care of him. She had already brought him flowers, a stuffed bear, cookies, crossword puzzles (American ones rather than the English or Aussie ones he did, which was bad because Americans don't know how to spell), and tea bags (those he would enjoy later) and he hadn't been awake for even a day. He didn't even want to think what she would be like if she found out that the needle prick had been her fault.
"She really needs to have children." House commented as he looked around the room.
"I'm sure she would be more than happy if you were to volunteer for the task of siring them." Chase commented as he sank down into his bed. This bed was slightly better than the ICU ones but not much. He was dizzy and queasy from sitting up too long and the pain meds were all but gone now making his head pound mercilessly.
"True, but I'm not suicidal. I would much rather be smothered to death by breasts than by kindness." He raised his eye brows and Chase gave him an indulgent smile. "So, did she offer to move in and take care of you? Your place could use a woman's touch."
"I think you interrupted her before she could and there is nothing wrong with my flat." Chase closed his eyes, hoping House would take the hint and leave.
"Your apartment," House stressed the word, "looks like a train station." Chase ignored him. "Aren't you going to eat your dinner, its damn good?" House put the Tupperware container of soup back on the table in front of Chase. His duckling turned a bit green looking at it.
"Maybe now." House handed him a spoon and sat down in the comfy chair beside the bed. He reached over and turned the TV on to watch the OC, ignoring the way the flickering lights made Chase squint.
"I'm not hungry." Chase tried to push the table away but House stopped it with his cane. He was nauseous, in pain, and grumpy. He wanted to be left alone. He felt awful and was tired of people poking at him, testing him, and generally bothering him. He just wanted to sleep. No wonder patients were so pissy all the time.
"I'm sorry. I don't recall asking if you were hungry. I think I told you to eat." House didn't even turn around from the TV while he talked. In the commercial he finally looked over and noticed Chase was stirring the soup quite a bit but not actually swallowing any of it. House guessed he should probably get the nurse to bring him some anti-nausea meds so Chase could eat. He was about to press the button to summon her, when the Aussie finally spooned some in his mouth, annoyed by House's scrutiny. "See, that's not so bad." House turned back to his show but kept count of how many spoonfuls his Aussie ate. He would be happy as long as Chase at five.
The blonde ate 6 spoonfuls but no noodles before pushing the table away to lie down. "There I ate. Can I go to sleep now?" He really felt like he was about to be sick and wanted to lie down until the dizzy, ill feeling passed.
"Good, puppy." House told him and took the soup for himself. Once Chase's eyes were closed, he helped himself to the cookies Cameron had brought as well. He hoped they were as good as the ones Cassie had sent. He and Wilson had split those.
House remained in the room, foot propped up, munching on cookies for the next half hour. The OC was over half way through and starting to get pretty interesting when Chase pushed himself back up. House watched him critically, realizing what was about to happen, he handed Chase the ugly pink, plastic basin from his bedside table. His duckling sat hanging over the basin for nearly a minute, drooling then unceremoniously emptied his gut into it. House watched, mentally cursing himself for not dosing Chase with anti emetics earlier. All the other patients had moderate to severe nausea and vomiting, why would Chase be different. He was different because he hadn't complained. He hadn't said that he wanted anything for it or even that he felt sick.
After nearly two minutes of hacking and retching, House lowered the bed rail and sat down facing Chase. He attempted to get the Aussie to lie down on his side because he wasn't doing much more than dry heaving. Chase fought him but eventually relented and rolled over onto his side, one hand holding his stomach and the other steadying the basin. House rubbed soothing circles on the young man's back, while pressing the button to summon the nurse. When she finally arrived he looked at Chase as he spoke. "25 ml of promethazine." Chase slowly and painfully nodded his head yes. Right now he would have ballet danced en pointe for the devil if it meant that this horrible retching would stop.
When the nurse returned, House quickly weighed the options. He knew he should inject it into the IV bag and let it drip at no more 10 ml per minutes but that meant that Chase would have to wait much longer for it to take effect. So instead, he jabbed the needle straight into the Aussie's deltoid muscle and injected the mediation intramuscularly. Chase barely flinched and House sat back down beside the Aussie. The blonde was curled around his stomach with his hand covering his eyes. "That should make you feel better pretty quick." He soothed as he pushed slightly sweaty hair out of his duckling's face. Chase gave him a slight smile but other than that didn't move. "Are there any other symptoms that you would like to tell me about?" Chase gave his head a minute shake to signal 'no.' His head was pounding worse than ever now and it was making him really nauseous again. It hurt so much he almost asked House for more painkillers but didn't bother because he knew the anti-emetic the elder doctor gave him would put him to sleep. He swallowed a few times trying to stop himself from retching again, with little success. Strangely, House remained beside him holding the basin and patting his back until he finally drifted off to sleep.
As Chase was drifting off, he was reminded of when he had been six years old and had been ill. He had had his tonsils taken out, like many children, but he had had a bad reaction to the anesthetic that had made him very ill for hours. His father had stayed with him then, petting his hair, reading to him, and holding him. He knew that had been 20 plus years ago but part of him still thought that if he looked up, he would see his father sitting beside him. Which, only made the kick in the gut worse, when he finally looked up and didn't see him. The only people he had to take care of him now were hospital staff. He closed his eyes before he could get too depressed over that thought.
As soon as he was sure Chase would stay asleep, House limped from the room over to Wilson's office. Much as he expected, the head of oncology was still sitting at his desk, doing paper work. House barged in without knocking. Wilson didn't look up until House started talking. He had gotten used to House's rather rude entrances and exits. Sometimes House came to him to talk, sometimes just for silent company. He always let the elder man set the pace. It was just easier that way.
"Chase is throwing up." House said by way of a conversation opener.
"Not surprising, nausea is one of the most common symptoms of encephalitis. Give him from Phenergan or Zofran and light meals. Next thing you are going to tell me is that he is lethargic and has a headache." Wilson suggested.
"I did. But he is miserable and a lot sicker than he is letting on." House took a stackable magnet game of off the desk and started playing with it.
"Then if you know that, what is the problem? Treat him for what you know he has rather than what he says is wrong with him. I should not be having to tell this to you, of all people. If you can't be objective about his case because you are too close, then step away and let another doctor handle it." Wilson scolded.
"I can be objective. I just don't want to brow beat him into anything he doesn't want because," House trailed off.
"Because, you respect him?" Wilson teased.
"He's a doctor. He was treating the other patients. He knows there is really nothing we can do for him other than make him comfortable and let his body fight the virus on its own."
Wilson leaned back and smiled at his friend, enjoying the uncharacteristic streak of conscience. "You just don't like seeing him sick because it makes you want to hold his hand and make him feel better."
"I do not." House protested, glad that Wilson didn't know that was precisely what he had been doing.
"Yes you do. You can't stand to see people you care about get hurt. I still remember what you were like when I had those kidney stones two years ago. You were worse than my Jewish mother." That was the one thing most people never realized about House, that he cared far more about Wilson than himself. Had Vogler figured out all he had to do to control House was threaten Wilson, life would have been much different now.
"I am so not worse than your hovering smother. I just happen to know how dangerous kidney stones can be." House sounded waspish, defending himself.
"About as dangerous as a root canal. Face it, bro, it's pissing you off that he feels like shit and there is nothing you can do about it. Face it and move on."
They were silent for a moment, while House manipulated the magnets and metal rods into the shape of a stick figure playing with himself. "How do you deal with it? I mean being so close to patients that are suffering all the time. They're such a downer. You have to more masochistic than Chase to put up with that."
"Maybe, I am friends with you." Wilson smile at him, taking years and worries off his face. "I try not too get too attached. But if I do, I drink a lot, I womanize, and I do penance by letting you verbally abuse me."
"Lovely. So I should get drunk, get laid, and say scathing things to myself?"
"No, but a drink would probably help." Wilson produced a bottle of cognac and two glasses out of his desk drawer, pouring two fingers for each of them. Wilson drank a lot; it was just a fact of being around Wilson. He rarely drank to point of drunkenness, but he would enjoy a drink after work nearly every night. "How do you think Chase is actually doing?"
"I think he is on the mend but still in excruciating pain. He can't sit up for very long without being sick and looks like his is being tortured if you shine a pen light in his eyes. He'll live but he is going to need someone to take care of him for awhile when he gets home. I can reasonably keep him here for maybe another two days but after that he'll be on his own and he really shouldn't be."
"Maybe Cameron can stay with him?" Wilson suggested
"I suspect he would throw himself out of the window if she tried."
"Hasn't he ever mentioned any friends in the area or maybe any family members other than daddy dearest?" Wilson questioned.
"No, in fact, he never even mentioned Rowan, I'm the one who brought him up first."
"Don't worry; you can cross that bridge in two days when you release him. After all, you can always stay with him and take care of him." Wilson smiled evilly.
"Oh no, Jimmy, I would never spend the night with someone other than you. You are the one, who is always cheating on me with that wife of yours." House taunted. Wilson laughed and the two spend the next half hour drinking and relaxing.
Wilson left at 9pm and House went back to Chase's room. He knew he should probably go home, but he wanted to be close by. So he had the nurse get him some Ensure, chocolate because Chase liked chocolate, and sat down to play his game. Chase hadn't moved since he had left, but that wasn't surprising. Promethazine, or as it was usually called Phenergan, was a powerful antihistamine and in large doses was used as an anti-emetic. It had three common side effects, dry mouth, dizziness, and practically inducing a chemical coma, though the manufacturers called it a 'light sleep'. He guessed he could roll Chase off the roof of the hospital and the duckling wouldn't wake up.
However, he needed the Aussie to wake up now. House guessed, in his expertly educated medical opinion, that part of the reason Chase was so nauseous was that he hadn't eaten anything in nearly four days. All that time, his duckling's digestive system had still been producing acid and bile irritating the lining of his stomach. Chase had to start eating and drinking very small meals to get his stomach used to accepting food again and heal what was probably a pretty uncomfortable case of gastritis.
So, he shook Chase to wake him and make him drink a few sips of his nasty tasting Ensure. It took three shakes before the blonde opened his eyes and squinted at House. He looked completely stoned. "Drink this." House held a straw to Chase's mouth. Chase ignored it and tried to go back to sleep. House yanked the hair on his temple and forced the straw between his lips. "Drink! Just a sip or two for now." Chase closed his eyes and didn't drink. House peeled the younger man's right eyelid open and said, "I'm not letting you go back to sleep until you do." The Aussie relented and took a small sip. House let go of him and he fell almost immediately back to sleep.
They repeated this scene every hour for the next five hours. It was getting easier to wake Chase up, but he was more reluctant to drink because the anti emetic was wearing off. House wondered if he should dose him with more when he looked up from his game boy as he heard a ruckus outside at the nurses' station. He slowly rose and hobbled towards the door. He wouldn't normally care but something about the Commonwealth voice being raised in indignation sounded familiar. He peeked his head out of the door to see a nurse trying to dissuade a woman who was intent on getting to the rooms beyond. House enjoyed the show, he didn't like the nurse on duty, she was rude and told him to keep his TV turned down and always turned him in if he hid in on of the beds on her floor. He was glad she had to deal with an indignant relative.
Just as he was about to go back to his seat at the end of Chase's bed and enjoy his game of Super Mario Brothers, he heard something that made him limp out into the hallway. "Damnit woman! Do you know who I am? I can buy and sell this bloody hospital. Now take me to Robert Chase's room before I have you fired!" She was almost screaming now. House was somewhat amazed that such a relatively small woman could make so much noise.
"Don't worry about it Dorris." House placated, recognizing the woman from Chase's pictures. The big Roman nose was a dead give away even though she wore a Sydney Swans cap and had her long brown hair braided in two pig tails.
"Deloris." The over worked and extremely irritated nurse corrected. "Visiting hours are over. Come back tomorrow."
"Come on." House motioned for the woman to follow him, completely ignoring the nurse. "You must be Cassandra." He turned to look at her, when they were outside of Chase's door. He supposed she was pretty even if she looked tired. She had dark brown hair with unnatural light highlights. Olive skin and a brown eyes. She was dressed in yoga chic clothes that were awfully tight, not that he minded because she had a very athletic body but her hips were perhaps a bit wide for the proportion of the rest of her. She certainly didn't look like the type of woman Chase would date.
"And you must be Dr. House." She stared back levelly at him. She had spent a life time around Dr. Chase senior and obnoxious agents, manager, producers, and directors. She was not easily intimidated, unlike Chase.
"What gave it away?" He asked. He noticed that she looked tired.
"The gimp. How is he?" She asked.
"Better. Mostly out of the woods. He still has a wicked headache and some nausea and vomiting but he is doing much better than he was." He was quite surprised to see her shoulder sag and quickly cross herself. Apparently she shared the same Catholic affliction as Chase.
"Can I see him?" Cass questioned, feeling almost weak from relief but she knew her fears would persist until she actually saw him.
"Yeah, whatever." House told her and led the way into Chase's room, trying to figure out why he felt almost jealous that someone else would be sitting with his duckling. He conceptually knew they all had lives outside of the hospital but, damn it, inside the hospital he was supposed to be the center of their universes.
She hesitated at the door, watching Chase sleep. She thought he looked awful, pale, and thin but she didn't think she had ever been happier to see him. "Robin." She breathed quietly, not wanting to wake him but she wanted to hear his voice, to make sure he was alright.
House seemed to understand her dilemma and intervened. "Chase, wake up." The youngest duckling woke quickly to the sound of House calling his name. After all, House had been waking him up every hour or so to either eat or drink. Then there was also the 18 months of working with the surly doctor and having his name barked at him for whatever reason.
Chase slowly sat up; trying to avoid the searing pain he knew would erupt in his head from being upright. His anti-emetics were starting to wear off and he was getting queasy again. He really hoped House wasn't going to try and make him eat. Once he was mostly sitting up, he squinted towards the bright light in the doorway and his eyes grew wide with shock. "Cass?" He questioned, disbelieving his eyes.
Hearing his voice seemed to wake her from her trance and she literally muscled House out of the way to get to her friend. "Robin." She said as she wrapped her arms around him, burying her face in his neck. House watched unabashedly, squirreling away blackmail material for later. He couldn't help but smile though as he noticed that Chase looked like he had opened every Christmas present he had ever received. He would remember to point out to Wilson that even though calling Rowan had been a swing and a miss, calling Cassie had been a home run. After nearly a minute, she pulled away and removed her cap, playfully swatting at his chest with it. "Damn you, for scaring me. You know you aren't allowed to get sick." She told him with tears in her eyes.
Chase pulled her back against him, "I'm sorry. I just really, really wanted a vacation." He smiled down at her, looking happier than he had in months. She pulled away from him and kissed him on the forehead. He looked down at her chest, tilting his head sideways slightly and commented. "Those are new."
"You like them. I just got them a few weeks ago." She thrust her now much larger breast towards him.
"They are very perky." He answered seriously. She smiled and laced her fingers though his, holding his hand tight. "Why are you here?" He questioned. Cass gave him a scowl and he hastily added, "It isn't that I'm not happy to see you, just I thought you were in Europe."
"I was. Dr. House called me and told me you were sick." No other explanation was needed between them. She was the closest thing to a family he had and she thought of him as her brother in all but name. They both knew that had the situation been reversed, he would have defied God himself to get to her just so she wasn't alone. Of course there was the subtle difference that had it been Cass who was ill, she would have had her mother, her father, her grandmother, her cousins, and her elder siblings there as well. But he would be the only one she would probably want to see.
"Why would House have called you?" He asked her but looked at House.
"I was deeply concerned about you and didn't want you to be alone." House feigned, trying to sound kind.
"You went through the call log on my phone, didn't you?" Chase accused.
"It was for your own good. You have a lot of women in your contacts list, you know." House tried to change the subject.
"And you have a lot of porn sites in your favourites folder." Chase shot back. Cass watched, vaguely amused. "You didn't call her because you were trying to find me a friend. You needed something." Chase paused for a moment and watched House shift his weight more to his cane. The elder doctor was in pain and it was late. "You needed her to convince my father to release my medical records, didn't you?" Cassie's giggle was answer enough for him.
"Well the bastard wouldn't do it and we needed to know your history. That you were asthmatic was the key to me figuring out what happened." House defended himself.
"Go home House." Chase told him. The older doctor didn't move though. "Go on. I'll be fine now. And thank you." He said in a softer voice.
"Fine. I'll tell the nurse to have meds ready for you if you want them. I'll see you tomorrow." He started to limp out.
"It was a pleasure to meet you, Dr. House." Cass called after him, as Chase shifted over to make room for her to lie down beside him. The last thing House heard as he walked away was. "I don't know, I figured he would have been younger looking if Dr. Cameron was so in love with him."
The next morning when House arrived, he dropped his things off in his office then ambled over to Chase's room. The temperature had nose dived last night and it was quite chilly out. His duckling was asleep on his side, drooling on Cameron's teddy bear. He heard the shower being shut off in the bathroom and suspected that Cass was in there. He walked up to the bed and read the chart. It looked like he was given more anti-emetics a few hours ago but no more pain meds. Neither was surprising.
Before House could do much more than finish reading, Cassie emerged from the bathroom, pulling a comb through her wet hair. She had on baggy cargo pants and an oversized fleece pullover, certainly not the normal clothes for a pop star. She looked at him suspiciously. House looked back at her exactly the same way.
"How was he last night?" The doctor finally asked, tired of the staring contest. He wanted to take a look at her new breasts, which was tough to do if he was staring at her face.
"Ok, I guess. He got pretty sick and started throwing up around five this morning. The nurse gave him something for it and he hasn't moved since." She finished combing her hair and put in a long braid down her back. He wandered if it was real.
"Phenergan is a drug for nausea. It causes drowsiness." House looked at the rest of Chase's vitals. They looked normal. He still had a low grade fever and his white count was still high but nothing that was unexpected. If he could hold food down today, then he could go home. "So he fell asleep hugging a stuffed bear?" He pointed to the white bear the blonde had tucked loosely under his arm.
"No. I put it there because it made him look cute." She smiled down at her friend, then looked up at House angrily. "Why did you do it?"
"I couldn't help it. It was only once. I promise it doesn't change the way I feel about you." He answered her ridiculous question in an equally stupid manner.
She seemed unamused. "Why did you make him deal with his father? That bastard isn't worthy of getting the time of day from Robin."
"Could you be more specific? I've actually done it more than once." House tried to side step the question.
"I have been well informed by everyone I've met since setting foot in this hospital that you are an ass but why would you put him through that when he is sick. Why would you ever put him through it? He doesn't deserve it."
"How do you know what he deserves? I don't recall you being here."
"You don't know him. You don't know what he has been through and you don't know what Rowan has done to him, still does to him. You are his boss. You have no right to meddle in his personal life and no right to treat him like a pet."
"And you are a chick with fake tits." House answered her indignation, not wanting to admit that he agreed with her. He wouldn't say he was friends with Chase because that implied too high of a level of commitment. However, Chase was more than just a mere employee.
"And you are a bastard. Now that we have stated the obvious," was as far as she got before the voices woke Chase. He stared blearily at them, taking in the fuzzy images of his boss and best friend, both standing in defensive positions. He had a sinking feeling that they had been fighting about something. One reason he had never introduced Cass to anyone he worked with at PPTH was that she was a typical hot headed Italian and had a tendency to be a little combative.
"Good morning Dr. House." He tried to speak as clearly as he could. He was still groggy and cotton mouthed.
"Chase." House answered. Cass on the other hand went straight to him, sitting beside him on the bed.
"How are you feeling, luv?"
"Better." He coughed. He felt like he was trying to breath through a straw.
House turned to her, and allowed his natural humour to show. "You, go away." He used his thumb to indicate the door.
"Excuse me?" She snapped at him. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Yes you are." He smiled, itching to call security on her.
"Cass, please, Dr. House just needs to examine me and it is common practice to have the patient alone." She looked at him, annoyed. "Why don't you go get something to eat, you must be starving?"
"I ate while you were asleep." He looked up at her with adorable puppy dog eyes and she gave in. "Is there a church near here?"
"Yes, four blocks west then two blocks north." He answered as she removed his rosaries from where House left them as a bookmark. She ran her hand over them sadly noticing the state of tarnish. She would clean them for him.
"Fine, I'll be back in about an hour." She rustled through her large bag and pulled out a set of beads that were a perfect replica of his, only hers were mother of pearl rather than onyx. She kissed his forehead and left, sparing a singular scowl for House.
"She's charming." House commented as he sat down in the now vacated chair. He didn't bother with the doctor's stool, this was more comfortable.
"She doesn't like you." Chase commented, trying to stretch his neck out, immediately regretting it.
"Have you been telling her nasty things about me?"
"No, just the truth."
"I didn't think it would be that bad. No wonder she hates me." House joked. "So why did you send her out of the building, we have a chapel downstairs?"
"A chapel, she wanted a church." Chase commented as he pulled his knees up, trying to work the kinks out of his back.
"What's the difference? Did they teach you in Seminary that god would only listen if you were staring at some scary picture of the Crucifixion?"
"No, nothing like that. She probably wanted to make a donation in the name of a saint or maybe light a candle in thanks. You can't do that in a hospital chapel." Chase shrugged. "It's a Catholic thing."
"I see. So how are you doing this morning?"
"Sort of surprised that Cameron and Foreman haven't come by yet?"
"I told them I discharged you so you could get some peace and quiet."
"You really do have a heart of gold buried under all that evil, don't you?" Chase stared lovingly at his boss for a moment before smiling to let him know it was a joke.
"So other than lonely, are you going to tell me the truth about how you're feeling?" House propped his leg up on the bed.
Chase looked away from his doctor. He was torn between wanting to go home and not wanting to flat out lie. "I was a little sick to my stomach last night but I feel better now."
"How about your head? Still dizzy, still hurt, still seeing double?"
"It still hurts but not as much. I'm still a little dizzy but not really seeing double anymore." Chase paused. "Cass said she would stay with me as long as I wanted her there so when can I go home?"
"Let's see how your blood work looks." His duckling looked truly depressed. "But if things don't look any worse AND you manage to keep down your breakfast, you can leave this evening."
"So, your friend is hot. She better not over exert you too soon." House was fishing for information. He always had trouble picturing Chase in a long term relationship with anyone. The Aussie just seemed too private and jumpy.
"We are just friends." Chase corrected him.
"Hey, friends can have sex too."
"Is that an offer or brief view into yours and Wilson's relationship?"
"Neither. I'm just saying, being friends does not mean you two aren't doing the horizontal tango, when no one is looking."
"Well why the hell not?"
"We're friends. I think of her like a sister." Chase knew he couldn't possibly explain his relationship with Cass to House. They had known each other their entire lives and knew all of the other's secrets. But also there was Chase's common Catholic hang ups about sex, having gone to Seminary had only helped to cripple him further. He had always had a problem having sex with people he liked. He had been taught his whole life that sex was dirty and evil so why would he want to inflict something like that on someone he cared about? Just one of the many reasons he tended to stick to one night stands.
"Sucks to be you." House commented as he turned the TV on to the Cartoon Network. "We'll start you off with some water. If that goes well you get your choice of Jell-O or Ensure."
"Jell-O. I don't ever want to look at another Ensure as long as I live." Chase recalled from a few hours ago that they tasted equally as bad coming back up as they did going down.
True to his word, House let Chase leave after he managed to go the entire day without vomiting and took a short walk down the hall. He even allowed his duckling to take a brief shower and clean himself up, with the help of a very lucky nurse. He chose Brenda, even though Chase asked for Carol, just because she tended to annoy Foreman as much as she annoyed him. So at 8:30, House signed the papers and his wombat was free to go home with strict instructions to not leave his bed or his couch for at least three day.
The drive to Chase's loft was silent between the two friends. Cass was concentrating on driving an American car on the wrong side of the road and Chase was concentrating on not hurling. They quickly arrived in front of his building and he lurched to his feet and staggered towards the door. Cass had to steady him because he still couldn't walk straight and had a terribly hard time keeping his balance. He opted to take the lift, rather than traversing the 7 flights of stairs to reach the top floor. He had a quick, private chuckle that House had to walk up all those stairs.
He leaned against the wall as he told Cass the numbers to punch in to open the lift. Once inside he rested against the corner, letting the walls hold him up. The movement of the car made him nauseous and dizzy. He was beginning to think leaving the hospital was a bad idea about the same time he started to see blue and white dots dance in sickening patterns in front of his eyes. He felt a cool hand touch his cheek, making him open his eyes.
"You ok? You look really, really pale. You aren't going to pass out or anything, are you?" Cass looked at her best mate. Chase had started looking increasingly worse as they left the hospital. Now he looked like he could barely stand and was so sallow he looked grey.
"I don't think so." He mumbled, not entirely sure of his answer.
Soon the door opened on Chase's loft and he didn't think he had ever been so happy to see somewhere before. Cass helped him stumble in and stopped in front of his couch. "Do you want to rest here while I get the bags?" She asked, worried. He looked really, really bad.
"No. I just want lie down." He almost murmured as he moved towards the steps to his bedroom. The stairs were not easy to manage because they were open and only had wire cables as railings but eventually he made it into his bedroom and stopped at the top of the steps, pressing his face into the side of his wardrobe.
"Come on, luv, we're almost there." Cass encouraged, wanting to get him into bed as fast as possible.
"Wait." He gasped, trying to steady himself enough to move. He felt really nauseous and didn't want to get sick on his floor. He gave up and wobbled as fast as he could into the bathroom and dropped in front of the toilet to be sick. He hated life about now.
Cass stood uncertainly outside of the bathroom, biting her lip. She didn't really want to go in there with him, but didn't want to leave him alone when he was sick either. She was a sympathetic puker and no one but Robin could make her think about staying. After a particularly loud retch, she called to him, "Robin, sweetheart, I'm going to go get the rest of the bags. I'll be right back." She flew down the stairs before he could answer.
Chase ignored her in favour of hanging his head over the toilet. He felt awful and wanted to lie down right where he was and go to sleep. But unfortunately, he had to get into his bed. When he stood up, he nearly fainted so instead he crawled on his hands and knees to his bed and burrowed under the covers. He felt like his head was spinning and was afraid he was going to get sick again.
That was how Cassie found him. She knelt beside him and pushed his hair back. "Are you feeling better?" She asked quietly.
"No." He whimpered. "I hate to do this to you, but can you get me bucket or something. There are some under the sink downstairs."
"Sure, babe, I'll be right back." She patted his hand and scurried off downstairs. She took longer than she needed to, hoping he would get it out of his system before she got back. But eventually she came back up the stairs baring a mop pail. "Here, sorry I took so long."
"That's ok. I feel better now. I think I was just standing for too long." He answered, barely cracking open one of his eyes.
"Good. If you don't need anything else, I'm going to get some sleep. I'm exhausted." She started to pull off her clothes and root through his drawers for a tee shirt to sleep in. "Where can I sleep?" He didn't answer, but pulled the covers down on the other side of the bed. She climbed in beside him and he immediately turned around to curl against her.
He rested his head on her shoulder then fidgeted a few times, pointing at her breast he told her. "I think I like the old ones better. They were more comfortable."
She tugged his hair where she had been petting it. "Go to sleep." And he did, happy to be home.
A day and a half later, House stopped by Wilson's office at 6pm. "Come on, let's go." House turned out his friend's light before he had even gotten out of his chair.
"Go where?" Wilson asked as he rose and followed his friend, shrugging on his coat.
"To Chase's dump. He needs a follow up and you're driving." They were quiet until they got into Wilson's car.
"So all this because Chase needs a follow up?" He already knew the answer.
"Nothing else?" Wilson knew damn well that House wanted to talk to his duckling. He missed having Chase around to beat up on and House really wanted to make sure the Aussie was ok.
"Why would there be anything else?" House was purposely being obtuse.
"Nothing like wanting to talk to him about what a bastard you have been the last few months? Or explaining to him why you keep trying to shove him and his father together?" Wilson raised his eyebrows.
"Nothing like that. Just want to make sure he will be sound to return to work soon."
"Clearly." Wilson intoned, making it obvious he didn't believe his friend one bit.
Soon they arrived at the loft, taking the lift this time, courtesy of Stacy. House banged on the door with his cane, it echoed loudly through the open space. There was then the sound of the door sliding and Cass was revealed in the opening. Her eyes narrowed as she realized who it was. "What do you want?"
"I came to check on the patient." He used his cane to lever the door opened further and lurched in.
"Dr. House?" Chase looked up, surprised.
"Chase, come to bed with me and take your clothes off." He said with relish.
"What are you doing here?" He looked over, past House. "Hello Dr. Wilson."
"I came to check on you. You needed a follow up."
"I could have come in to the office. You don't normally even see patients much less make house calls." Chase pointed out. He was sitting up only in the vaguest sense of the word. A closer description would be that his head was propped up against a pillow but he was still mostly lying down.
"'House calls', funny." He looked around. The two Aussies had been cozied up on the couch under a big, down comforter. Strangely there was no television playing anywhere. "So, what were you two up to? I hope we interrupted something." He wiggled his eye brows.
"Chase was helping me read through a script for an audition, if you must know. And who are you?" She snapped, waving at Wilson.
"Sorry, luv, Cass, this is Dr. Wilson. Dr. Wilson, this is me best mate, Cass." Chase made the introductions.
She smiled at the oncologist and he smiled back. Cass remembered that Chase liked Wilson and it didn't hurt that Wilson was very cute in a geeky guy sort of way. She would definitely enjoy sampling the local cuisine, if she had time. Both House and Chase rolled their eyes at the others' display.
"Chase, come on upstairs. I'm going to do your follow up." House started to limp towards the stairs. Chase didn't argue and rose slowly, stopping once he was standing to cover his eyes with his hand and lean against the couch. House looked back at him, concerned to note that Chase still looked very pale and wobbly.
When the blonde was steady again, he staggered towards the stairs and followed House up. As the reached the top, Chase immediately sat on the bed, leaning his head down. "So, I guess I can add ataxia and pain to the list of lingering symptoms along with nausea and vomiting." House commented as he turned on the bathroom light. It filled the room with enough light to see, but not enough to hurt Chase's eyes.
"What makes you think I am still experiencing nausea and vomiting?" Chase questioned as he straightened up and slid to the head of the bed, making room for House to sit at the foot. House was surprised to note that both sides of the bed had obviously been slept in.
"My brilliant medical mind tells me that given your dry, cracked lips you are dehydrated probably from nausea." House said loftily as he pulled out a few instruments from his knapsack. Chase looked at him skeptically. "But more blatant was that most people do not lounge about on their sofas with water filled buckets beside them unless they are about to be sick and don't want to get up."
"Ok, fine, so I'm still a little queasy." Chase rolled up his sleeve to allow House to put on the pressure cuff. He was chilly and tucked his bare feet under his duvet to keep them warm. Without another word, House stuffed a thermometer into his mouth then tilted his head back to feel his glands. For all of House's medical brilliance, he had a lousy bedside manner.
After a few moments, House removed the sleeve and thermometer and finally spoke to his patient. "Breathe." He commanded after be placed a painfully cold stethoscope bowl against Chase's chest. The Aussie did as commanded; only coughing once. His asthma wasn't so bad now that he could get up and move around a little. The muscles were still tight, causing him to wheeze and cough but he was no longer hacking up mouthfuls of mucus. "Any other complaints?" House questioned as he scribbled some notes on a small pad.
"Bad choice of words. I could probably set you on fire and you wouldn't complain." House looked down at him, Chase would not allow his eyes to be caught. The elder doctor sighed. "Are you feeling better?" Chase nodded his head 'yes,' showing that he could now move his head and neck easier. "I guess you'll live." The Aussie still didn't say anything. House packed his things up, contemplating what to do next. His normal inclination was to turn to Chase and ask his question directly but his normal inclinations usually failed miserably with this duckling. Chase interrupted his musings before he could decide.
"Thank you, Dr. House, for coming to see me and for calling Cass." Chase gave him a slight glance from under his bangs and a weak smile.
"Sure. Can't count on Rowan to come and I wasn't about to do it." House wished he could stuff the words back in his mouth the moment he said them. He looked over and Chase had again found something remarkably interesting on his blank duvet. House sighed and realized that he was going to explode if he didn't clear some things up. "Why did you do it?" House asked, all joking aside.
"I told you. It was an accident. There was a code and I thought I was just tired. I didn't realize how sick I was until right before I passed out." Chase spoke quickly.
"No, not that. Why did you sell me out to Vogler? You were the one person in the department I thought wouldn't turn on me." He accused, trying not to let Chase know how hurt he was.
The Aussie didn't answer right away, but instead played with the edge of a pillow he had pulled into his lap. It was some sort of down-filled wall to protect him from House, a mushy line of defense to prevent the elder man from punching him or hugging him. House obliquely wondered which one would bother his duckling more. "You were going to fire me." He finally mumbled.
"So you decided to cure a headache by cutting off the head?"
"I didn't want to go. He promised me he would keep me around."
"And you believed him?" House snorted in derision. Chase had this weird way of being either impossibly cynical or ridiculously gullible. There was no rhyme or reason to it, no logic and therefore it annoyed House.
"You were going to get rid of me." Chase stammered out and realized how pathetic he sounded.
"What makes you think that I was going to fire you?" House finally asked. Not liking the way Chase sounded far too much like a kid begging not to be sent away. He wondered if Chase had ever had the balls to say that to his father. He doubted it.
"Because you tried."
"I picked you then because I was confirming a suspicion. Why else do you think I would have chosen you?"
"Why would you want to keep me around? Foreman's smart and forceful. Cameron's hot and hardworking. I can't compete with that." Chase answered dejectedly.
So that was it. Chase didn't bother in their rivalries very often because he assumed he was doomed to loose. "Foreman is smart and Cameron is hardworking but there is more to a good doctor than that. Foreman is brilliant but he is too logical. He doesn't know how to think outside the box, hell, he doesn't even want to admit that there is a world other than the box. Cameron is very diligent but she also lets herself be ruled by her emotions and looses sight of the big picture. She becomes emotionally crippled and can't make the right decision.
"But there is more to the puzzle than that." House sighed. He had to be delicate here. He didn't want to seem like he was playing favourites but he also wanted to convey to Chase how much confidence he actually did have in him. "You, Chase, are the creative and intuitive one. For all of Foreman's smarts, you usually beat him to the right answer because you look at things that he would never consider. And for all of Cameron's hard work, she can't get people to bond with her and trust her like you can. I never wanted you to leave, Chase."
"But." Chase interrupted, his eyes, burning with tears.
House stopped before he could say more. "But nothing," he reached out and grabbed his duckling's chin and forced him to meet the elder doctor's eyes. "I realize that your brain has been floating around in a pool of pus for the last week, but think about it. I offered to let Foreman leave, I didn't even attempt to stop Cameron; you were the only one I tried to make stay." House finally broke eye contact and let his duckling look away, when he saw Chase's eyes fill with tears. "So tell me, why did you really go to him?"
Chase gulped. "I didn't want to leave. I like it here. I wanted to stay. I just didn't think that you thought I was good enough to keep around."
"You weren't trying to get back at me for anything?" House had half assumed that Chase had run to Vogler because of Chase senior.
"No." He paused. "I don't know." Chase pulled the pillow up to his chest and hugged it. House could see that Chase was getting more and more agitated with their current conversation and to be fair, so was he. "Maybe a little but I never wanted it to go that far. I just wanted to show you what it felt like. But you didn't seem to care other than being angry with me."
"See how, what felt?" House was pretty sure he knew.
"I don't know." Immediately regretting speaking his mind.
"Yes you do. Tell me." House ordered. He realized he was not good at this sort of thing. He really could use Wilson right now.
"I wanted you to know what it felt like to have someone betray your trust, not to help but to deride you. To know what it feels like to have someone shred you to pieces and turn you into a joke just because they can or because they think its fun. But you didn't care." House could see a tear had slipped down Chase's cheek but in the dim light he could ignore it.
"Of course I cared, you moron. Why do think I did all those rotten things to you, for fun?" Chase looked over at him, showing he clearly thought House had taken joy in it. "Ok, maybe it was fun but I was punishing you for hurting me." He stuttered over the last. "Yes, hurting me." He repeated, realizing that he had been very hurt by it, not professionally but personally. "I never cared whenever Foreman ran to Cuddy because I never expected him to be loyal to me. But I not only expected you to be loyal I had a great deal of faith in you and you betrayed me."
Chase was silently crying as House accused him. They had never really spoken of this since it had happened. It had always just hung like a body swinging from the gallows in the town square, there for everyone to see but no one looked directly at it. "I never meant to betray you, I was desperate. I didn't know what else to do."
"Wow, someone worse at office politics than me, creepy." House commented, trying to lighten the mood.
"I know it's too little too late, but I am sorry. You can fire me if you want." The Aussie told him dejectedly.
"You really are a dullard, aren't you? If I wanted to fire you I would have done the minute Vogler left. I don't want you to leave! I don't know how to make it any clearer." House finally snapped at his sick fellow.
"Ok." Chase whispered, feeling thoroughly chastised.
House took a deep breath and decided that there was one more thing they needed to clear up. "Since we are airing dirty laundry, isn't there anything you want to ask me?" Chase stiffened. House wondered if his duckling would have the balls to do it. He shook his blonde head 'no.' "Nothing at all? Nothing that I might have done to you that you would like an explanation for?" Chase turned away from him. He could see the tears spilling faster over the man's lashes, even though his eyes were pressed shut. "You aren't even remotely curious why I asked Rowan to help with the leper kid?" Finally he got a 'yes' headshake. "Then ask me." He said.
"Why?" It was half way between a word and a breath. Chase didn't really know what to make of this whole conversation. He couldn't explain to House why he had turned on him because he didn't really know why. All he knew was that he felt terrible that he had done it and that House had every right to get rid of him. But now the elder doctor might be telling him that House didn't hate him, that he may actually like him. Why couldn't House just tell him? Why did everything have to be so damn confusing?
"Not good enough. Ask me what you want to know." House was trying to force his duckling to stand up to him. He wanted to make Chase tell him what he had done was wrong.
"Why did you ask my father to stay?" He finally asked. His father used to do this to him all the time too when he was a kid. Force him to ask for his inhaler in Czech with perfect inflection, while he was wheezing and gasping. It was just another way to make Chase submissive.
"Not what you really want to know." House corrected. He wondered how much further he could push Chase. The Aussie was very ill and clearly confused and uncomfortable. That was why House had planned to have this conversation now. If Chase were in complete control of his faculties, it could be just as bad for House as for Chase. Or more likely, Chase would have run away before House could get his question out. They both needed this to happen if they were ever going to be friends or at least genial co workers again. He leaned closer to the blonde, trying to catch his eye.
House occasionally liked to smoke cigars at home and the scent clung to him faintly. Chase breathed in the smell and felt his heart contract. It reminded him of his father and long, boring hours spent closed off in his smoky study learning to speak Czech and his father's derision because he had misplaced an accent mark or his lack of derision when his son had excelled. But it also reminded him of the good parts of being in there because it was the only time he and his father ever spent together uninterrupted by his mother or patients. It was the only time that Chase got his father all to himself and he treasured it even then. Why did every happy memory have to be tainted by some misery? Was it even possible for him to be happy and not be sad about something at the same time?
He had wanted to know why House had betrayed him for so long but now the time was here, he couldn't force the words out. It hurt too much. He was too afraid House would yell at him; call him a fool, coward, or worse. Maybe if he just stayed quiet, House would go away and Chase could continue to worry this problem in his head. Then, he would be the only one accusing himself.
He looked up and House was still there. In a rush he finally let the words spill out. It was like vomiting, it was unpleasant but necessary and hoped he would feel better when it was over. "Why did you make me deal with my father?" His throat and chest ached with the strain of holding back sobs and accusations. He felt like there was a dragon, thrashing his tail and clawing apart his insides.
'About damn time!" House thought. Having a personal conversation with Chase was like getting a Brazilian wax done hair by hair. "Because I thought you needed."
"It was none of your business." Chase finally snapped. All the anger that he had held inside for the last few months finally came bubbling back to the top. "You never would have done something like that to Foreman or Cameron."
"No, I wouldn't have because they wouldn't let me." House answered but inside he thought, "I don't worry about them swallowing a bottle of pills because it hurts less than dealing with their problems. I'm not afraid that Foreman will go home and cry his eyes out if I yell at him and I'm not scared that Cameron will lock herself into some weirdo self destructive relationship just because the other person pays attention to her. I worry about it even more now that I read your files and talked to your father again.'
"You don't have any right to interfere in my personal life. If I choose to never speak to him again, it shouldn't make any difference to you. I don't need you telling me that I am handling everything wrong. I know that. I know things are broken between us but I don't know how to fix it." Chase was crying for real now and House wanted to run away. Damn his gimpy leg!
"You aren't handling everything wrong, Chase. In fact, given what a total prick he is to you, I think you are way too nice to him." House tried to soothe.
"No, he isn't. It's my fault. I," was as far as House let him get. Chase was tired of this conversation. Either people reacted like Cameron and told him he was a monster for not forgiving Rowan or they reacted like Cass and thought that Robert was a fool for still caring about his father.
"Catholic guilt is a wonderful thing, isn't it? My ducklings amuse the hell out of me. Foreman thinks he is everything. Cameron thinks everything is about her. And you just think everything is your fault." House laughed; unbelievably uncomfortable and wishing he had kept his mouth shut. He could have put up with the way things were for another few months until Chase when home. Why, oh why, did he ever try to fix things?
"But it was my fault. I screwed up. I wasn't." Chase stopped talking. He didn't want to explain any of this to House because he doubted House cared.
"Chase, that you haven't told him or me to bugger off yet just shows that either you are so needy and emotionally maladjusted that you can barely function in society or you should be nominated for sainthood. I'm leaning towards the first choice."
"Is that why you thought I needed to talk to him?" The Aussie asked quietly, trying to swallow his tears.
'I thought you needed to from you first interview. You shouldn't run away from the only family member you have. I wondered if he had beaten you but he has done worse. He ignored you. He left and forced you to grow up before you were ready. He made you think you needed to be perfect to be worth anything. He made you so terrified of failure that now you are afraid to try anything. And he made you prone to latching on to anyone who has authority over you in a most unhealthy way.
'I made you do it because you need to tell him what he has done to you. You need to stop swallowing everything until you choke to death on it. You need to make him tell you that he loves you and that you are brilliant and talented. And most of all, you need to hear how proud he is of you. Because; if you don't hear it from him you are never, ever going to believe it. So, you had better do it soon or you won't get another chance and I hate to see what that would do to you.' Was what House had wanted to say but instead he fell back on his stock answer. "Because, I was curious."
"I see." Chase had tears falling down his face again and his voice hitched between the words. House felt awful. Was he really any better than his duckling? Chase couldn't tell people that he was upset or that they were hurting him. But House couldn't tell people that he cared, that he loved.
House realized it was safer to let things stay like this. Rowan would die soon, and Chase would be a wreck. If the Aussie thought that he could come to House for sympathy or support then he might. House didn't think he would be able to keep pretending he didn't care, if that happened. He rose to leave and get away from Chase's forlorn tears. But before he could stop himself, "For what it is worth, I'm sorry too. I didn't realize how much it would hurt you." He mumbled as he headed for the stairs. Chase still sat on the bed, crying, his face buried in the pillow. "Take nap for awhile. You need to rest." The Aussie didn't say anything, but burrowed under his blankets and sobbed into his pillow.
Downstairs, House limped in on more sexual tension than he had seen since he and Stacy had been alone in his office after hours. He wondered if she should offer to go out and get his friend some condoms.
"So how did it go?" Wilson asked, pulling away from Chase's friend.
"Fine. He's sleeping for bit."
"Is he going to be ok? I was telling Dr. Wilson that he has been really queasy and doesn't want to eat anything." House wanted to say something nasty because he was in a foul mood from his conversation with Chase, but he couldn't be rude once he saw the concern in her eyes. Robert needed someone that could cared about him.
"He should be. Wilson, go back to the pharmacy and pick up something for his nausea." House ordered. He wanted to talk to Cass alone. "While you're at it, grab us some dinner."
"Yes, boss." Wilson intoned sarcastically. The oncologist pulled back on his jacket and headed out of the door, leaving the singer and the elder doctor alone.
"So?" House started. "You two boffing each other?"
"No, not that it is any of your business."
"You're just friends?"
"Yes. And I don't like the phrase, 'just friends.' It makes it sound like friends aren't important and no one is more important to me than he is." She told him and hitched her self up onto a bar stool. She was dressed very casually, in a pair of Chase's pajama pants, a tank top, and a hoody. Her long, brown hair was out and she wore no make up. House would have said she was beautiful if not for her large nose. House was struck with how much Cass reminded him of a younger, brown-eyed Cuddy from certain angles. So, finally he had an explanation as to why Chase liked Cuddy so much.
"'Kay. Other than being queasy, how has he been doing?" House questioned.
"I'm not sure. He hasn't really done much more than sleep and throw up since we got home. He said it was normal but I'm still worried."
"It will take time for him to get back to normal. He'll probably still have headaches for a few months afterwards too. But he was lucky, it could have been much worse." House told her philosophically as he settled himself on a stool and swallowed a Vicodin.
"He is coming home with me." She stated, while he was in mid swallow.
"He didn't mention that to me." House countered, worried it might be true.
"I haven't told him yet, but he will. You don't deserve to have him here."
"Did it ever occur to you that he might want to stay here?"
"Why would he? It's cold, dreary, the food is terrible, there are too many Americans, and you treat him like something you scrapped off your shoe."
He wanted to ask her why she thought it was her business but realized that he would react the same way if someone treated Wilson badly. Instead he said, "He doesn't complain."
"He never complains. He would let you cut off his hand if you said you were proud of him." She sighed. She loved Robert more than anyone in the world. He was always there for her when she needed him and never asked anything in return. He didn't try to impress her or lie to her. He was the one person with whom she could always be herself. She knew that he would love her if she put out a bad CD or film and he didn't care if she put on five pounds or if she looked like she was getting crow's feet. No matter what happened, he would smile at her, hug her, kiss her on the top of the head, and find someway to cheer her up. If she didn't have him, she didn't know what would happen to her.
But sometimes it was really hard to care so much about him. He had a habit of trying to push everyone away when he was in pain and he could be very hurtful. But worse was the way he constantly tried to punish himself for sins real and imagined. He seemed to think it was ok for people to treat him like shit, as long as they were paying attention to him. He never stopped people from hurting him because he was too afraid of loosing their good favour. That was when she felt she needed to step in. She had done it with his father, her own mother, and now House.
She had been expecting a fight from House, but she was somewhat shocked by what she heard next. "So you two have known each other for a long time, tell me about his childhood. What was his mother like, were he and his father always estranged?" House was not about to turn down a chance to find out personal things about his tight lipped duckling regardless of how unfriendly the bearer of the new was.
She sighed, wondering what to do. She knew Robin would not want her telling his boss anything personal, but she also knew that he really liked it here and wanted to stay. So maybe knowing personal things would make the bastard be nicer to him. "Do you see that picture over the fireplace?" She pointed to large print. It was a black and white photograph with shiny slivers and whites painted in certain spots. It was of Sydney Harbour. He looked at it. "His mother, Abagaile painted it. It was the last one she did before she died. It was taken from the roof of his house in Sydney. She could make something that you saw everyday seem new and beautiful. She was special." Cass had always loved and admired Chase's mother. She always tended to lay the blame for Chase's problems more squarely on his father than his mother.
"Were they close?"
"Yes, very. Chase took it extremely hard when she died."
"She was an alcoholic wasn't she?"
"Yes, she was also a drugged up whore for awhile. I loved her to death and admired her like an idol but she was a lousy mother. Most of the time she was too drunk or drugged up to remember she had a son. The only time she did remember was when she needed him to pick her up off the floor after she passed out. She used to pass out and lock him out of the house or go on pissers that lasted for days and never tell him where she was. I don't think she kept a promise to him in her entire life and most of the time she seemed to forget that he was younger than her. But he loved her and I don't think he ever got over her death."
"Where was daddy Chase?" House didn't know why he should feel shocked at hearing this, he could have surmised as much from her file.
"At work, at church, anywhere that didn't involve taking care of his son. That bastard left Robin alone to deal with his mother dying and didn't lift a finger to help. He didn't even come to bloody funeral. My father had to go and guilt him into seeing his son after she died. And even then, he didn't care enough about Robin to let him stay in Melbourne. Dr. Chase sent Robin back to Sydney and to medical school within three weeks of his mother's funeral. I don't know how he managed to do it."
"But Rowan is a damn good doctor." House threw in, completely sharing her opinion of the elder Dr. Chase.
"As you are well aware, being a good doctor does make you a good human being."
"True. But neither does being a pop singer and actress."
"No, it doesn't. But I try to be good to Robin unlike you."
"I don't owe him anything. He is my employee, not my child." House finally exploded.
"Then treat him with the same respect and civility you would any other employee. Stop interfering in his life and stop acting like you want more from him. Either choose to be his friend or choose to not be but stop lingering in the middle giving mixed signals." She snapped.
House thought for a moment. That was the problem. He couldn't deny that he cared about his duckling and wanted him to be happy but he wasn't sure how far he was willing to go. Was he willing to actually claim friendship? Rather than answering, he took the coward's way out. "I like to think I can be both."
"You don't seem like you are very good at either."
"Look, Chase and I had some problems but we worked them out. Things will go back to normal when he gets back to work."
"And what is normal? You making him work himself into exhaustion? Not giving him any time off?"
"No, he'll go back to his regular schedule. I'm not angry with him anymore."
"That's awfully kind of you." She stood and walked over to Chase's desk, returning with a piece of paper. She handed it to House. "My therapist sent me this. I wanted Robin to read it so he could see that you were not worth your salt. But I thought you might like to see it."
" Abuse and Adult Child of an Alcoholic
- Often have difficultly or fearful of identifying, understanding or expressing feelings
- Often feel guilty when him/her stand up for him/herself.
- Often allows him/herself to be yelled at or blamed.
- Often allows him/herself to be humiliated in public.
- Often called selfish or accused of not doing what the other abuser wants.
- Often finds him/herself compulsively people pleasing, complying or running away.
- Often derided or made to feel childish after expression of his/her needs and feelings.
- Often feels inappropriate compassion, forgiveness, or understanding for abuser; BEFORE appropriate anger has been expressed.
- He/she consistently feel guilty, fearful or angry with abuser.
- Often has an inability to trust kindness or sees ulterior motives for kindness.
- Often afraid or intimidated by people, particularly authority figures.
- Approval of others often more important to him/her than his/her own preferences or beliefs.
- When someone gets angry at him/her, he/she shrivels inside.
- Often feels isolated and alone.
- Can answer 'yes' to a lot of questions found on an "are you an alcoholic" questionnaire although he/she never picks up a drink.
- Often uncomfortable with intimacy and revealing personal information about him/herself to another person.
- Often hang onto relationships that aren't healthy.
- Currently involved with an alcoholic/addict.
- Currently involved with any kind of compulsive personality - such as a workaholic
An Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACOA) frequently stays in abusive situations. Abusers may be parents, employers, spiritual advisors, lovers, spouses, friends, or therapists. Abuse arises from a need, to control, vent anger, or to stamp out signs of health, dissension, independence, love, kindness or joy--expression which the abuser resents or doesn't understand and may thus label as weakness.
Abuse can produce negative effects such as borderline functioning, disorientation, loss of identity, depression, false confidence, no confidence, acted out anger, lying, self isolation, shame, partial disassociation, or even to perceive the abuser as "wonderful" or "my protector".
A common response to abuse in ACOA'S is to blame his/her for the problem because he/she feels that he/she is dishonest, lazy, scattered, procrastinator, selfish, intolerant, spiritual midget, ect."
House folded the paper and looked her square in the eye. He was not an abuser and if Chase felt that way, it was his own fault for not standing up for himself! He was not about to feel guilty because Robert's parents screwed him up. It was not his job to put the Aussie back together. But there was a part of him that contracted in sympathy because everything he read sounded exactly like his quietest duckling even though Chase tried his hardest to hide these things.
"If you think he has this many problems you should send him to a therapist too."
"I tried. He won't go." She sighed and was about to tell him what she thought of that but gave up. House reminded her quite a bit of Rowan. He couldn't admit he had done anything wrong to save his life. But unlike Rowan, she could see that he actually did care about Robin. Now, she just had to find a way to get Robin to see it. "Dr. House, I realize that he may mean nothing to you, but he means something to me. Can't you just do the right thing?"
But what was the right thing? House wondered. Rather than asking her he just told her. "Chase and I have worked things out. There is no reason for you to worry anymore."
"Good on ya, mate. That's all I wanted."
"So we are cool?" He asked, finding it odd that she now accepted him without a fight.
"Yeah, as long as you don't hurt him anymore, I won't have to get nasty." She smiled sweetly.
Wilson soon returned and noticed that the atmosphere was much calmer than when he left. He had been worried about leaving the two alone together but it appeared that they had reached some sort of a truce. He entered and placed the sac of food from the deli on the counter and removed the bag of meds from his coat pocket.
Cass approached the bag and opened it, pulling out the contents and examining them in confusion. "What is this?" She tipped a plastic bowl of the city's best chicken and matzo soup, peering under it.
"Jewish penicillin." Wilson smiled at her, wishing he weren't married. "Is he still asleep?"
"Yeah." House mumbled as he sniffed the sandwiches trying to find his Rueben, glaring at the pickles wrapped in plastic at the bottom of the bag.
"I'll go wake him for dinner." Wilson offered as he headed towards the stairs. He slowly walked up the open staircase, trying not to look down, he was afraid of heights and even this short distance made his hands sweaty.
House had left only a small light on in the bathroom and the rest of the space was very dark. Wilson carefully made his way to the bed and sat down, looking at Chase. He still looked very pale and thin to the oncologist's eyes but better than he had looked. "Chase." Wilson called his name quietly. The younger man roused and opened his bleary eyes to look at the other doctor. "I brought you some dinner and some meds." He rose and filled a glass from the bathroom tap.
"Thanks, what did you bring me?" Chase asked as he sat up. Crying had again been a bad idea. His head was pounding and his nose was stuffed up.
"I brought you some chicken soup from Gershwitz's Deli, Cuddy told me you liked it. I also brought you these." Wilson produced three pills for the Aussie to swallow and handed him the glass of water. Chase looked at him questioningly. "Phenergan and Cimetidine, for your stomach and Celexa if you want it." Wilson didn't look at Chase as he said the last. It didn't matter though because the Aussie was also looking down, unable to meet Wilson's eyes. He rolled the pills around between his fingers without actually swallowing them. "I brought you some Zofran too, incase you want to stay wake but you need to take them. Cassie said that you had been vomiting a lot the last two days. If you can't hold anything down by tomorrow you are going to have to go back into hospital for some fluids."
"I know." Chase whispered.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Wilson asked as he sat back down facing the ill doctor.
"I would have, if I were still this nauseous tomorrow." Chase tried to apologize.
"That isn't what I meant. Why didn't you come to me to have your anti-depressants refilled?" Wilson felt awful that Chase had been walking around the last few months without his meds.
"You were busy with your patients. I didn't want to bother you."
"It would have taken two seconds."
"And after Vogler, I didn't think you would want to help me." Chase finished dejectedly.
"Why?" He couldn't understand why Chase would put himself through the ups and downs of uncontrolled depression when help was so readily available.
"You're House's best friend. Why would you want to help me?"
"Because I'm a doctor and you needed help. Because, you are my patient. Because, I like to think that I am your friend too." Wilson tried to catch the younger man's eyes to show he meant what he said.
"But after what happened, I didn't deserve your help. I screwed up."
"So apparently living with Catholic guilt is about the same as Jewish guilt, only yours comes from Christ and ours from not calling our mothers enough." Wilson smiled. "You made a mistake, Chase, you are human it is allowed. You can't keep punishing yourself over it forever. And you can't let House punish you for it any longer either." Wilson took a deep breath. "Did you two talk?" He knew Greg was planning to talk to Chase about what had been going on between them but he didn't know if House actually had.
"Yes." Not surprising, Chase gave no other details.
"Good. I hope things have been worked out between you two. But regardless of what goes on between you and House, I hope you know that you can always come to me if you need anything." Wilson was hoping to lay the ground work of a stronger friendship with the Aussie. He knew that Rowan wasn't long for this world and he was afraid that Chase would be angry with Greg for not warning him, which would leave Chase virtually alone in New Jersey. He didn't want that. Generally speaking , he was too nice of a guy to let something like that happen. So he was all but volunteering to be Chase's big brother, if the Aussie wanted it.
"Thank you, Dr. Wilson." Chase answered thickly, not sure what else to say. Wilson was so nice but at the same time could be even colder and more calculating than House. He wanted a friend to trust and confide in but he wasn't sure he could bring himself to take the leap of faith that was required. He would have to think about it. But before he knew what was happening, Wilson had wrapped his arms around Chase, giving him a brief but tight man-hug. Chase was touched, but didn't return it.
The elder doctor recognized the use of his title, a subtle rebuff. "Now, take your pills and come down and eat before your soup gets cold." Wilson commanded. Chase swallowed all of the pills and allowed Wilson to give him a hand up out of bed.
The two headed downstairs, and Chase squinted at what he considered to be bright lights. Even when he didn't have nausea inducing headaches, he still tended to keep the lights in his flat turned down very low. The hospital was so loud, bright, and chaotic, that it made him feel better to have his home calm, quiet, and dim. Cass had already laid out all the food at his table and he gratefully sank down into a chair beside the bowl of chicken soup. She ran her fingers through his hair and placed a gentle kiss on the top of his head as she set a cool glass of water in front of him. He smiled at her, feeling better already. He liked it when people kissed him on the top of the head. He didn't know why, it just made him happy.
As soon as she was seated, beside Chase and still far away from House, they began to eat. Chase made himself choke down at least a quarter of the bowl of soup, knowing the meds Wilson gave him would allow him to keep it down. However, the prospect of eating was nauseating at best. So was watching everyone else eat fatty, nitrate rich deli food. That was just one of the many reasons he said nothing at dinner but he did enjoy watching the others interact. Cass was, as usual, the center of attention. She flirted with Wilson and talked over House. Wilson flirted with her just as much and House blatantly shot jibes at his friend over it. Chase was pleased to note, that there was much less venom in the exchanges between Cassie and House.
House observed as well. He would have to have a long talk with Wilson. But that was expected, his friend often tended to ignore his personal problems in favour of getting attention from beautiful women. House only wished he could do it too. But more interesting was watching Chase and Cass interact. At first, he had assumed, like Wilson, that the two were lovers but now he wasn't so sure. They were far too relaxed around each other and Chase didn't seem in the least bit fazed that Wilson was sniffing around his woman.
House also noticed that they had an extremely strange dynamic. Chase completely allowed himself to be bullied by her yet she didn't take advantage of it in the least. She completely dominated the situation and he let her without even trying to stop her. She was as loud and extroverted as he was quiet and introverted. She was intelligent and witty, he had learned that from their conversations, but she wasn't any where near as smart or quick tongued as Chase. She was also much calmer than his duckling. For all that Chase cultivated a laid back attitude, if you watched him closely for long enough you could pick up clues that showed exactly how high strung and neurotic he actually is. But most of all he noticed that she functioned as a sort of shield for Chase. He was pretty sure neither of them realized that she was doing it, or if they did they had mutually agreed she do so. She was the life of the party and Chase tried to blend into the walls. She deflected attention away from her friend, while he pushed people towards her. As strange as it was, it must be working, because Chase seemed calmer than House had seen him in quite some time or maybe his meds were just kicking in.
However, what caught him as even stranger was that the two trusted each other utterly. House had never seen it with Chase before. The Aussie was totally unguarded around his friend. Chase met her eyes when he talked to her. He allowed her to touch him in a way that would make him flinch or stiffen if Cameron or Wilson tried. And, the blonde actually laughed with her. House hadn't heard Chase laugh in months, not since before his father had come to see him. He had heard the duckling's polite, fake chuckle or a derisive snort but not a true laugh. It was nice to hear.
When there were all through, Cass smiled at her friend and said to the other doctors, "Robin and I were going to watch a really bad movie. Do you want to join us?" House realized she was looking at Chase for permission. Maybe she didn't bully him as much as House thought she did.
"Yeah, stay and watch it with us?" Chase echoed, showing he didn't mind. Wilson needed no other prodding and jumped up to help clear the table, like a well trained little husband, while Cass put the movie in the DVD player. Chase offered to get drinks for everyone, but all three of them told him to sit down, he meekly complied. Chase didn't really want them to stay, but he felt like he should let them to keep Cass entertained. He realized he was being dull because all he had done for the last two days was sleep and try not to throw up. He felt she deserved better than that so he agreed even though he was pretty sleepy.
Soon they were all settled on Chase's low leather couches, displeasing House because they were really hard for him to get in and out of. Wilson took the shorter couch, House took the chair, and Chase and Cass got the longer sectional sofa with the lounger on one end. House had to stifle a grin as he watched Cass yank Chase over by his shirt so that his head was on a pillow in her lap. She then covered him up with a large feather comforter and started the movie. She was right, it was really bad. Some stupid over dubbed piece of shit kung fu movie from the Hong Kong movie mill. He and Wilson thought it was ridiculous, but he did remember Chase mentioning that he and his best friend had a fondness for really bad kung fu movies.
Much as House and Wilson expected, Chase lasted about ten minutes into the show before he fell asleep. The drugs Wilson gave him put him into a nice, deep sleep, cuddled against his best friend. If House were the warm and fuzzy type, which he was not, he would have thought it was cute. After the movie ended, and House had to admit there was a certain humour in it if you just laughed at it, the two doctors rose to leave.
"Do you need help with him?" Wilson asked, looking at the slumbering duckling and helping House out of the chair.
"I don't know, do I?" She looked skeptically at her friend. "Will I be able to wake him up or do I need to leave him down here?"
"You should be able to wake him up. The drugs weren't that strong. He may walk into walls if you let, though." Wilson smiled his most charming grin at her. House rolled his eyes and pulled out his cell phone. He dialed a number into it and a few seconds later there was a loud beeping that made the Aussie shoot up and look around, wide eyed.
"Problem solved." House said as he hung up his phone but the shrill beeping continued until Wilson turned off Chase's pager. "Go to bed, Chase." House ordered then turned to leave, Wilson following behind him.
The two rode the lift down to the ground floor, Cass being nicer than Chase and telling them the punch code they had to enter to open it, and walked out into the cool night. Wilson was the first to break the silence as the entered his car. "He looks a lot better. I think he'll be fine."
"Yeah, he'll be fine. I'm his doctor, was there ever any doubt?"
"Yes. I was a bit worried when he passed out, spiked that 105 fever, wouldn't wake up ect. But I never should have doubted you." Wilson answered his friend's playful tone as he started the motor. He then turned serious. "So you two were up there a long time. Way too long for a mere examination. Did you two talk?" He already knew that they had, but he wanted House's side of the story, hopefully his friend would be more forthcoming than Chase.
"Yeah, we did."
Apparently not, "Well how did it go?"
"Fine," House sighed and decided to come clean. "I asked him why he went to Vogler."
"What did he say?" Wilson was all ears now.
"That he didn't want to loose his job. But after much prodding he admitted that part of it was to get back at me for his father. Mostly I think he was just scared." House answered.
"So things are cool between you two?"
"Yeah. He asked me why I made him work with his father. I don't think he liked my answer."
"Did you tell him the truth?"
"I told him I just wanted to see what was going on between them, what made them tick."
"So you lied." House nodded. "Why didn't you just tell him that it started out as curiosity then you got worried? Would it kill you to admit that you care about someone?"
"Yes, it might. But that wasn't what he wanted to hear. Rowan, Mama Chase, and the Catholic Church have that poor kid so back assward that I think unsolicited kindness actually causes him physical pain. It's better that we remain on a professional level." House hoped Wilson bought his answer. He knew that there was no way that he and Chase were just co workers but he also knew that neither of them were ready to really be friends. House was too lazy and surly to deal with someone as needy as Chase and the Aussie was too afraid to trust anyone and actually give himself away to a new relationship of any kind. Maybe things would change after Rowan died, but for right now the status quo was good enough.
"Sure, whatever you say." Wilson agreed, though he knew damn well House was lying to him.
"So what was with you and Ms. Thing in there?" House changed the subject to one that would make Wilson uncomfortable now.
"Nothing. I'm married, remember."
"Yeah, that was why you were sniffing around Lady Platypus, hoping she would take you for a ride downunder?"
"Shut up, House." Wilson snapped because that had been exactly what he had been hoping. The rest of the ride was silent.
Two days later, House again dropped by Chase's loft. He wanted to check on his duckling and also wanted to talk to him. He had been thinking quite a bit the last few days and he realized that he was being selfish, even for him. It was obvious Chase was unhappy here, it was obvious he could get a job somewhere else, it was obvious he and his father had some unfinished business, and it was obvious that he was happier around Cassie. Therefore, House realized he needed to let his duckling go. He didn't want to, he wished that the little voice inside his head that sounded a lot like a cross between Wilson and Cuddy hadn't kept telling him he was being a prick but it had.
So he stood uncertainly in front of the building, waiting for Chase to let him in. Before he buzzed the pent house a third time, Stacy showed up behind him, carrying groceries.
"Greg, what brings you here? Come to torment your employees on there days off too?" She questioned as he opened the outer door.
"I came to sleep with Chase's friend, if you must know."
"Good luck, she would eat you alive. She is young enough to be your daughter, if you were precocious, and is a celebrity in her own country." She opened the lift for him and he carried two of her bags. It was strange, like the last five years hadn't happened, until House felt a twinge in his thigh. "Help me take these in and I'll go up with you. I want to watch." She smiled and winked at him and he followed her in.
"Where's hubby?" House looked around the flat and saw that it was in fact very tastefully done and looked totally different than Chase's loft.
"Short Hills. He went home to check on our house and run a few errands. He should be back soon." She answered as she put her things away. Then she produced a plate of snickerdoodles from the ice box. "Let's go." House tried to steal one and she batted his hand away. "These are for Chase, not you."
"But I'm hungry too." He pouted and she handed him a cookie, unable to resist his blue eyes.
"Here, you big baby. I made these especially for him because they have tons of butter and sugar in them."
"And you think he is going to eat something with that bad for him. This is the same guy who puts alfalfa weeds on his vegemite sandwiches instead of lettuce."
"He needs to put back on some weight. I was talking to Cassie yesterday and she said that he has lost 8 pounds in the last week. If he gets much thinner, he won't be any fun for Lisa and me to watch."
"As long as my staff serves a useful purpose at the hospital."
They arrived at the door and knocked, there was no answer. Stacy inserted her key and slid the door opened. The first thing that House noticed, was that the place didn't smell like antiseptic like it usually did. Rather it smelled like a heavenly combination of tomatoes, garlic, and oregano. They both drifted to the kitchen as saw the mess strewn all over the counters and large caldron simmering on the burner. There were half diced tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves, oil, and all sorts of scary seafood all over the place. House opened the lid and enjoyed the aroma. The smell of food made the place finally seem like a home.
"So where the hell is Chase?" House looked around and didn't see or hear his duckling.
"On the roof, would be my guess." Stacy pointed to a large opened window that led to the fire escape. "Take that up to the roof. He likes to hang out up there on his days off." She pulled a spoon from the drawer and tasted the sauce House looked at her.
"Is it as good as it smells?"
"Better." She told him and handed him the spoon. It was good.
"I think I'll be staying for dinner." House commented as he headed towards the fire escape and looked at it skeptically. "Are you coming?" He asked, hoping that he could watch where she was going before he had to try it himself.
"No, Lisa and I were going to go shoe shopping this afternoon. You two are one your own." She waved and left. He watched her sourly. He wished he could hate her, because it would make things much easier. However, the truth of the fact was that he still loved her and that sometimes, like now, he could fool himself into thinking they were a couple again and that nothing had changed. Then he would see Mark or his leg would ache and he would be reminded that five years of pain and misery had passed since then and he was alone, which depressed him. He took a Vicodin.
He pushed the maudlin thoughts away and headed for the fire escape. It was just as hard as he thought it would be. He finally managed to struggle up the fire escape and onto the roof. It was not an easy task and he was sweating slightly by the time he approached Chase. His youngest duckling was sitting in a lounger with his knees pulled up and a book balanced on them. He had his back to the sun and sunglasses on. House looked around the roof. For all the finishing touches that the actual loft lacked, the roof was amazing. There was a huge fountain that ran the entire length of one wall that made a gentle whooshing noise, reminiscent of the ocean's lapping tide. The center was covered with lush grass and there were two more fountains in the other corners. It was a gorgeous and serene garden and something that could only be done on the heavily reinforced roof of an industrial building. A normal roof would have collapsed under the weight but the steel girders that ran along the interior ceiling supported it nicely.
"Nice place you have here, but not handicap accessible." He commented as he hobbled over towards the blonde.
"I didn't expect there to be any handicap peopled up here." Chase answered him as he closed his book. It was a fiction book by Dan Brown. House was somewhat surprised that Chase would be reading a book that leaned towards being unfriendly to the Catholic Church.
"Why are you sitting up here?" House questioned as he caught his breath and looked around, enjoying the view.
"Have you seen my kitchen? It looks like an Italian market exploded all over it. If I stayed down there where I could see it I would feel compelled to clean it up and then Cass would kill me. I came up there so I didn't have to look at it." There was also an untouched stack of decorating magazines beside him. House looked down at them, picking one up.
"Actually planning on learning how to match fabrics?" He questioned.
"Why break with tradition?" Chase smiled. "Actually, Cass wants to redecorate our house in Sydney. I pretend I care and then she doesn't feel bad when she paints it some ungodly colour."
"You two share a house?" House was surprised. He and Wilson had been having and on again off again debate about whether Cass and Chase had or hadn't slept together. Wilson was sure they had, while House firmly believed they had not.
"Yeah, for the last three years or so. It makes sense. My house is really too big for one person and it saves her the trouble of looking after her own place. Plus, I haven't been there in over a year and she is frequently gone on tour or film shoots."
"Interesting? How big is it?"
"About 3700 square meters." Chase answered. House's jaw dropped.
"That's like 12,000 square feet. That is freaking huge."
"It isn't all on one story or anything. It is three stories and the roof is counted in that." Chase didn't want House to think he had some sort of excessive living situation back home even though he did.
"Why not sell it and just rent an apartment?"
"My mum had this thing with real estate, when she died she left me a huge house on Sydney harbour, where Cass and I live; an estate in St. Francis Bay and one in Sun City in South Africa; a beach house on Bondi; and a flat in London. I haven't been able to bring myself to get rid of any of them. I guess I am sort of a pack rat about things like that. Besides, Cass likes to use them." He shrugged.
House didn't think it was that strange to not sell off very expensive property especially if they had sentimental value. He motioned towards the fountains. "What is with you and water? You have that huge fish tank bubbling and all these fountains tinkling. It makes me have to tinkle."
"I like the sound." Chase answered noncommittally.
"Why?" House lowered himself onto the end of the lounger after Chase curled his legs up to make room.
"It reminds me of home. I've always lived right up against the ocean or the harbour. I miss it." Chase looked off into the distance, squinting. The Aussie looked much better, being able to hold down his meals had obviously made a huge difference but it was clear his head still hurt. He sounded melancholy.
House decided to change the subject. He wanted to come over to Chase's house at least once and not make the younger man cry. "So where is your cohort? How can I admire her ass if she isn't here?"
"She went for a run in the park."
"Jealous?" House lifted an eyebrow, noticing for the first time in over a year that Chase had a smattering of very pale freckles across his nose and cheeks.
"Unbelievably. So, when can I come back to work?" He put his book down and looked straight at House. Even though he had been lamenting his lack of time off, now he was bored stiff and tired of sitting home with nothing to do. Even having Cassie around was not alleviating his natural drive to actually do things. For all that he appeared lazy; he had the sort of restless intellect that got bored very easily.
House paused for a moment and took a deep breath. "Ah, that is what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Oh." Chase felt like the floor had just dropped out from under him. He felt weak and shaky, fearing he was about to be fired. He mentally prepared himself for the let down.
"I've been thinking. If you still want to go. I mean, if you still want to resign and go home, I'll let you. I'm not going to force you to stay someplace you are miserable." House managed to say. It was not easy basically admitting he had been wrong.
"Do you want me to go?" Chase asked.
"For Christ's sake, this isn't about me! This is about what you want. For once in your miserable life, stop worrying about what other people want from you and do what you want. Don't think about what I want or what your father will think, or even what your little girly girl wants from you. Do what will make you happy!" House commanded.
Chase looked down, a million thoughts running through his head. He didn't want his father to see him as a quitter but he was really homesick. He loved his job but Cass very much wanted him to come home. Cameron and Foreman drove him nuts sometimes but he liked Wilson, Cuddy, and House. He wanted to stay but what if House wanted him to leave? He wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to do but House was waiting for an answer. He looked up at his boss and said what he hoped House wanted to hear, still unable to get past his ingrained desire to please. "I don't want to leave."
House sighed. Sometimes, like now, he really wanted to bash his duckling's head in with his cane. Chase couldn't even give a straight answer when it came to something as simple as whether he wanted to keep his job. Saying that he 'didn't want to leave' was not the same as thing as saying he 'wanted to stay.' If it killed him, someday House was going to get the Aussie to make some sort of unequivocal personal declaration that displeased someone.
"Chase, are you happy here?" House asked him
"The opposite of sad."
"I guess. I mean I was before." Chase took a deep breath. "Are things going to be the same if I go back?"
"As far as I'm concerned that is all in past. You are back to being my cutest lapdog."
"Then I want to stay." Chase smiled.
"Ok. You can come back half days starting Wednesday." House answered.
"So I only have to work 10 hour days?" Chase questioned with a slight smile on his face. He realized he had made the right decision to make House happy.
"I was thinking closer to 4 but we'll see."
"Besides, how would I get out of my contract?" Chase asked innocently.
"Well here's the thing." House stammered.
"What you mean that the contract was useless and that you just wanted me to stay?" He smiled evilly. "Just because I'm blonde doesn't mean I am actually stupid."
"I believe I told you that earlier." House had been planning to leave, when Cass's head popped up over the edge of wall. She was carrying a tray with a tea pot, two cups of tea, some biscuits, a small box, and a large tumbler of orange juice.
"Dr. House, I thought I saw your midlife crisis on wheels out there." She greeted him. She was wearing a red silk kimono and no shoes. She handed Robert a cup of tea and patted him on the head.
"Be nice." He admonished as he accepted the tea and the pet.
"Don't I get any?" House asked, pouting. He really didn't like tea but he would drink it out of spite.
"I guess you can have this cup, I brought something else for myself." She sipped the orange juice and House caught the telltale scent of vodka.
"I'd rather have that." He commented, watching as she produced a small satchel from her pocket. He more than recognized the green leafs and paper for what it was.
"Finish your tea first." She told him, like a mother as she attempted to roll a joint, twitched and spilled twice.
"Oh give it here." Chase snapped as he took the paper and herb, expertly rolling a perfectly packed joint then handing it back to her. "Watching you try to roll is like watching me try to dance." House was taken aback by Chase's handling of it. He would not have pegged his anti-drug duckling as the type who would know how to ready a joint.
"Thanks." She lit it, taking a deep drag, finally exhaling the smoke away from him. House was almost salivating at the smell. She looked pointedly at him and offered. He took it gladly, trying to remember the last time he had smoked marijuana.
He inhaled deeply and coughed as the acrid tang hit the back of his throat. He downed his tea to still the coughing. "Thank you." He gasped. Cass was suppressing a laugh and Chase was giving him a strange quizzical look but said nothing.
"Here," she tilted the teapot, pouring orange juice and vodka into his now empty teacup. He gladly drank it. She took the joint back and enjoyed another drag. She then handed to Robert, who held it but didn't smoke it as she stood up and dropped her robe to the ground exposing the fact she had nothing on under it. House tried not to gawk but was having a hard time. Chase didn't react at all, other than to hand her drugs back to her once she was settled on her stomach on another lounger. House deduced that if they were sleeping together, they had been doing so long enough that the sight of her naked and laid out in front of him no longer had an effect. Or, they really did just think of each other as family and there was no physical attraction at all.
"You really shouldn't be tanning like that. It's bad for your skin." Chase commented. House had a brief WTF moment as he realized Chase was lecturing her about sun damage rather than drinking, doing, drugs, or parading naked around his roof top in front of his boss.
"You can stay fish-belly white if you want. I, on the other hand, like to have a healthy glow." She defended herself.
"You know I can't tan. I just burn." Chase countered dejectedly. He unfortunately was the type of pale, pale blonde with red undertones in his hair that was incapable of being anything other than milky white or completely sunburned.
They chatted amiably and got very high as the afternoon progressed. Every now and again, Cassie or Chase would go back downstairs to stir the sauce or add something extra to it. House was praying they would invite him to dinner. By five, House and Cass were nicely toasted and the food was ready. House invited himself and Wilson to stay even as Cass invited Stacy and Mark to come. Soon the roof was filled with people enjoying great food and ample liquor, courtesy of Cassie, who felt that any get together was enhanced by alcohol. Strangely, Chase said nothing but didn't touch a drop of it.
Something interesting transpired when House suggested inviting Cameron, Cass grew quite annoyed at the idea.
"No way, isn't she the stupid slag that left the needle out for you to stick yourself with." Cass turned to Chase and questioned.
"Cameron isn't stupid." Wilson defended her.
"She left the needle out?" House asked.
"It was an accident, it could happen to anyone." He defended her. House cocked his head, clearly wanting more explanation. "It was when that teenager coded. She was distracted. It was no big deal."
"No big deal. You could have died." Cass almost screeched, outraged.
"Wait a minute; she was talking to me when that happened. She was already in the hallway and you were alone in the room. She couldn't have been distracted by the code." House pointed out.
"Really, I don't want her to get in trouble over this."
"Because if she finds out that it was partially her fault, and only partially, I am the one who actually stuck my self remember. Anyway, if she found out, she would feel guilty and try to make it up to me. She would follow me around trying to do nice things and stare at me with concerned eyes. She would drive me bloody bonkers and I would have to hurt her. Then Foreman would get mad at me and I would get hurt and you would have to interview two new fellows. It just isn't worth it." Chase smiled as he answered. He normally couldn't stand getting other people in trouble.
"Ok, but I think she will be stuck in the lab and working long hours for awhile." House conceded.
Cassie explained that the sauce was an old family recipe taught to her by her grandmother when she was sixteen. Her grandmother had also tried to teach it to Chase but not being Italian, he didn't have the soul for cooking. Chase agreed that he was pretty hopeless in the kitchen. It was an interesting night. Wilson gave Cassie a massage and House and Chase were pretty sure he felt her up. She convinced Chase to lie down in the grass so that House could eat off his stomach but House wouldn't let Stacy do it. Chase blushed the entire time.
Finally Cass pulled out her guitar and won House over for life by singing Rolling Stones and Beatles songs for him. Then there was the origin of the nick name Robin. House was disappointed to find out it was just a slightly uncommon shortened name for Robert. He had hoped for something cuter so he could tease his duckling about it.
Eventually the others floated off, and only House, Cass, and Chase were left. Chase was very tired and wanted to go to bed, but he wasn't sure how House was going to get down. It would be difficult at the best of times and right now, the elder doctor was quite drunk. Cass was no better, but he had plenty of experience maneuvering her around when she was inebriated.
At well after one in the morning, he finally convinced both of them to come back inside. It wasn't nearly as hard as he thought it would be. The alcohol, Vicodin, and pot must have helped the pain enough so House could maneuver down the fire escape. Cass was actually harder because she was like moving a 140 pound sleeping cat. After much struggle, Chase got House settled on the couch and then attempted to take Cass upstairs.
"You're cute." She slurred at him, reeking of vodka.
"Thank you." He told her as he tried to walk her towards the stairs, stumbling all the way.
"You're too good to me. You always take care of me." She kissed his cheek and leaned against him as he gave up and just picked her up.
"You are the only one who cares about me. I love you."
"I love you too." He kissed her forehead as he put her into bed.
"You won't leave me like that ass." Chase didn't even bother to ask which one of her many exes she was talking about. "You won't screw me and then walk out on me because someone else is the flavour of the month." She spat with venom, now on to the stage of drunkenness where she started bashing old boy friends.
"Nope, never." He told her as he deftly changed her into a tee shirt to sleep in. He left to get her some water.
"Don't go. Lie down with me." She whined.
"I'm just going in the bathroom, I'll be right back. I promise." He quickly returned with some water. She pulled him into bed beside her.
"Stay with me." She begged and started to nibble his ear and slide her hand under his shirt.
"Stop it, sweetheart. I'll stay with you, but stop it." He pushed her hand away. She did this to him frequently when she was drunk. He was used to it. His mother used to do it too, mistake him for her current boyfriend and do inappropriate things to him. He always ignored it and thought about nuns.
"But I want you to stay with me." Her fingers drunkenly fumbled against him again.
"Listen to me." He held the side of her face till she was looking in his eyes. They were watery and red. "I will stay with you but you don't need to do this and I don't want it. I just want you to go to sleep. You don't have to fun or sexy for me. You just have to be you, ok?" Tears started to pour out of her eyes as he spoke.
"I love you so much, Robin." She cried. It was so liberating, to be with someone who didn't force you to play a role. She didn't have to be the sexy diva, the competent actress, the ditzy heiress, or anything else with Robert. With him she could just be Cass and she could fall apart and know that he would pick up the pieces and never tell anyone. But as much as she loved him and as well as she knew him, she somehow never realized what it did to him to see her like this.
"I know. I love you too." He held her as she sobbed. It was a small price to pay to hear that he was loved and really believe it.
Soon she fell asleep, her head heavy on his shoulder. He kissed the top of her head in a brotherly gesture of affection and held her close. He didn't like to think of how often they fell asleep like this, her drunk and him holding her as she cried. It was surreal; he swore he had had these same conversations with his mother. But it was still better than if she were strung out on cocaine. Then it was almost impossible to get her to lie down and go to sleep. Chase tried not to think anymore and just sleep, luckily he was tired enough that it worked.
Downstairs, sleep didn't come for House until later. He had heard everything that had been said. The bad point of living in a loft was that you could hear anything that happened anywhere in the flat. It made House sick to his stomach to listen to it. He remembered what Cass had said about Chase taking care of his mother and realized that she was doing exactly the same thing to him.
He had been doing research into ACOA syndrome and he could easily see that both Chase and Cass were clearly suffering from it. Chase was a pattern example of the hyper responsible care taker type. He was constantly afraid and craving security and affection. He perpetually drifted towards relationships like the one with his mother, always falling into the role of taking care of the addict. Cass was the totally opposite, irresponsible and expected everyone else to take care of her. She craved attention and distraction, afraid to sit still or she might feel. She played the part of the shattered addict and let others put her together and hold her up. They were pathologically codependent. His last thought before he finally gave into the alcohol tugging him towards sleep, was that the boy needed therapy.
House didn't wake until well after noon the next day. He blearily opened his eyes and felt his head pound. He noticed a glass of water and two Tylenols sitting on the table in front of him. He looked around for his coat and his Vicodin instead.
"If it's for your head, I'd suggest taking the Tylenol. It's easier on your liver." Chase commented from behind his computer. He was trying to write and e-mail to his father, explaining his behaviour. House noticed his duckling's hair was damp and he was in yet another baggy long sleeve tee shirt and baggie pair of pants, no shoes. He was beginning to wonder if Australians ever wore shoes unless they were at work.
"It's for my leg." House lied and swallowed his pill. He looked around and noticed all the windows were covered in a dark mesh that blocked out light and the kitchen was once again spotless.
"Are you hungry?" Chase asked without looking over. He had given up and moved on to reading the monthly stock report of his maternal grandfather's company.
House realized that he was, in fact, starving. "Yeah, I could eat." Before he could say more, Chase had gone to the kitchen and started making oatmeal. House wanted to protest that he would rather have leftovers but knew that oatmeal would be safer until his hang over passed.
"Here." Chase brought him a bowl along with raisins, sugar, and milk. It was good service, better than most restaurants. House shoveled it in, enjoying the sweetness.
"Aren't you going to eat?" He questioned between bites.
"I already had breakfast." In truth, last night had really bothered him and he tended to lose his appetite when he was upset.
There was a pause and House opened his mouth and inserted his foot. "So, do you have any relationships that aren't pathologically self destructive?"
"Stop it, House." Chase warned him, not wanting to discuss this with anyone.
"I'm serious. Do you purposely find addicts or do they just flock to you?" Chase said nothing. "She's a drunk."
"No she isn't. It was a party. She just had too much to drink." The duckling made excuses.
"No, no one that size who can knock back that much vodka is a social drinker, Chase. She is a lush." Chase shook his head 'no'. "You of all people should recognize the signs."
"No, it isn't like that." He was pretty sure that Chase was trying to convince himself just as much as House.
"Yeah, and your mother had migraines and ear infections. That's why she always had headaches and staggered, and why you had to take her to the hospital for pneumonia and multiple over doses. You don't have to be completely out of control to be an addict."
"I guess you would know." Chase answered coolly and rose to leave. "You can stay as long as you want. I'm going for a walk."
"Chase, wait." House called after him.
The Aussie turned on him and his eyes were painful to look at. "What am I supposed to do?"
House wished that he could have told him but he realized that he had no idea what Chase should do. He couldn't imagine what the blonde had gone through or even how to comfort him if he so chose, which he did not. The only thing he did know was that he should have kept his big mouth shut. "Go for your walk." Chase then all but ran from his own home. House made sure to be gone before he got back.
Two days after Chase came back to work, Cass had to go back to her life too. She came to the hospital and had lunch with her friend. She made sure to stop by and say goodbye to Wilson and House but avoided Foreman and Cameron. Chase walked her to her rental car and gave her a hug. "That's my shirt. Are you stealing it?" He asked as he fingered the tied tails of one of his ugly patterned shirts. It had been the one he had worn yesterday.
"Yup. I like it. It smells like you." She smiled up at him and wrapped her arms around him again, trying to hide her tears.
"You can give it back to me later." He said philologically, wiping tears from her cheek. He didn't like seeing her cry and he was dangerously close to doing it too. He hated saying good bye.
"Make House give you time off next month so we can go somewhere together." She asked him desperately.
"I'll try. Take care of yourself, please?" He breathed into her ear, feeling afraid for no reason.
"You too." She kissed him on the cheek and finally opened the door. He closed it for her and watched her drive away.
He stood for a few moments more than headed back to the office. It was almost time for him to leave and he was depressed and lonely. "You ok?" House asked as Chase walked in the door. It was only him and Wilson. He had sent the other duckling to the lab, not sure how Chase would be when he got back.
"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" He asked, trying to make sure his voice sounded flat and calm.
"Just making sure." House answered the same way, knowing Chase was lying but for once, deciding not to push.
A week and a half after Chase came back to work full time, things had calmed down again. Foreman was back to acting like he was better than everyone else. Cameron tried to take care of everyone, while making everyone angry and Chase did his crosswords. All was right with the world as House and Wilson sat together in his office, sharing a pizza. House's computer beeped to let him know he had a new email and he closed down the browser with the different trims for the new infinity SUV. Wilson was in the market for a new car and he ridiculously wanted one he could fit his Dalmatian in. House had told him to just get rid of Spot, not a very imaginative name, but Wilson said he would get rid of House first. Wilson was very attached to his dog. Spot had actually been a gift from House to cheer Wilson up after Rex, someone needed to help Wilson with dog names, his golden retriever had died of cancer at the age of sixteen. House had never seen his friend quite as inconsolable as he had been after having his beloved, shedding, cold nosed, stink bag put to sleep.
So after weeks of watching his best friend cry into his beer every night, House had gone on line and researched what would be a good replacement for Rex. His short list had included a Lab, but that was too pedestrian for Wilson, a German Shepherd, too dominant for kind hearted Jimmy, an Irish Setter, too hairy, a pointer, too sporty, or a Dalmatian, which was just right. House had found a breeder and given Wilson a 12 week old puppy for his birthday. Julie had been unbelievably bitter that Wilson had completely ignored her gift of a new professional outdoor grill in favour of a bouncing white puppy.
Since that moment the two were almost inseparable. If they went to lunch on their days off, it had to be somewhere with an outdoor café so Spot could come. Spot was a certified therapy dog so once a month Spot came to work. On weekends Spot could be found in Wilson's office. Spot was the screensaver on Wilson's computer. Wilson had a stuffed Spot in his office. And what really annoyed House, was that Spot didn't really like him. Stupid dog!
He clicked to open the e-mail and started bouncing in his chair and giggling like school girl. Wilson looked at him like he had grown a second head. "Did you bring enough for the rest of the class?" Wilson questioned his friend's sudden onset of childish glee.
"I just got an e-mail from the future ex Mrs. House." He answered as he started to print a large picture.
Wilson rose and walked around till his could read the message. "House, I hope this is what you were looking for. Just further proof of the fact he can't say no to people, especially me. I'd tell you not to tell him where you got it from but I know he'll figure it out. Take copious notes on his reaction so I can tease him about it tonight. – C." Cassie had told House about getting arrested and having to perform community service. She agreed to appear in a bunch of environmental print ads and this was one of them. Chase had gone with her to keep her company during the shoot and she had tricked him into being in the ad with her by saying that the other model, who had never existed, hadn't shown up and she was going to get into so much trouble. His duckling had of course agreed to help his friend, not realizing that his bare bum was going to be in every fashion magazine in The UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
House pulled a sheet from the printer and handed it to Wilson, whose jaw hit the floor when he saw it. It was a large photo of Cass and Chase, lying naked in a field. Beneath the picture was text talking about saving the environment. It was tastefully done and clearly a magazine photo. Chase mostly had his back to the camera and of his face, only part of his nose and chin were visible past his hair. If you didn't know who it was, you would be hard pressed to figure it out.
Wilson burst out laughing. "That is freaking brilliant! What are you going to do with it?"
"Help me make copies." House asked.
Wilson and House went to separate copiers and made dozens of copies. They then proceeded to tape them up all over the Diagnostics Department, fax them to the 2nd and 4th floor ICU, to Stacy, and to Cuddy. They finished just as the ducklings were returning from their clinic duty. As they neared the door Chase stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes the size of saucers and a healthy blush already creeping across his cheeks and nose. Cameron beat him to the door and pulled down one of pictures to look at it critically, Foreman right beside her.
Cameron gasped. "Chase, is that you?" She looked back at her fellow duckling, who now had his burning face firmly buried in his hands.
"I'm going to kill House." Chase mumbled from behind his hands. Cameron and Foreman started laughing hysterically as the three walked into their office. There were pictures taped everywhere, on the chairs, on the windows, above the coffee maker, on the ice box. The Aussie looked like he wanted to crawl in a whole and die. "I hate you House." He groused as he started to collect the pictures. House and Wilson had tears running down their eyes they were laughing so hard at him.
"That is a very nice picture there, man. So did you ever model with you clothes on?" Foreman managed to ask with a straight face.
"I hate all of you." Chase mumbled. Somehow this was more embarrassing than when they walked in on him in the shower.
"Don't hate us, Chase, you may want to hate your ICU nurses though." Wilson pointed out, gasping for breath.
"You hung these up in the ICU?" House hadn't thought Chase's eyes could get any wider.
"Of course not, we faxed it though." The eldest doctor answered.
"Oh no!" Chase groaned and took off running out of the door, down towards the ICU in hopes of getting the fax before anyone else saw it.
"I wonder if we should tell him we sent one to Cuddy and Stacy too?" Wilson asked.
In the ICU, Chase came skidding to a halt in front of the fax machine. Carol looked up at him quizzically. He smiled at her, shuffling through the papers stacked beside it. April came up beside him and asked in her Caribbean accent. "Did you loose something, Dr. Chase?"
"No, I was just looking for a fax." He answered too quickly.
"Was it this one?" She held up a copy of the picture and he hung his head when the catcalls started. They mostly consisted of nurses wanting water proof copies to take in shower with them and so on. Chase was mortified. He smiled, letting them know he wasn't mad and trudged back up to his own department. He was met by the rest of them still giggling.
"So, was the crisis averted?" Cameron asked.
"No. I wasn't fast enough. Apparently I am going to be masturbation material for the entire department." He blushed again.
"It's not that bad. Just think how Cam will feel when we discover that she was actually a Playboy Playmate in college." Foreman joked. Cameron blushed.
Things had begun to calm down and they let Chase explain until Cuddy and Stacy both came into the office. "Dr. House, I received a very informative fax from you a while ago. Do you care to explain?" Cuddy asked.
"Just something to add to your shrine." House smiled sweetly at her. He knew damn well that both Cuddy and Stacy scheduled their work outs around Chase's so they could ogle him, while he exercised.
"I see," she turned to leave and called over her shoulder, "and Dr. Chase, you do know I have a large pool and a very high fence if your ever in mood for some late night aquatic exercise." Cameron snickered; Stacy smiled; Foreman, Wilson, and House stared slack jawed; and Chase looked like he was about to jump out of the window.
House recovered first. "Don't worry, mommy didn't really mean. But I want you to tell daddy if she does try and touch you, so I can get pictures."
"You know, Chase, if you play this right, you might get a raise." Stacy told him. She had been trying to talk Cuddy into having a fling with the adorable Australian eye-candy for months. He was exactly what Lisa needed to help her unwind.
They all started laughing again and Chase buried his head in his folded arms. House walked over and ruffled his hair until the younger man sat back up. Then he put an arm around his shoulders and gave him a little shove. But there was a warmth to the contact that had been missing and Wilson and Stacy both noticed that it bordered on a hug.
House smiled and was content. His gamble had worked. This was the final test to see if he and Chase had finally gotten over their differences. He had taken a chance with doing something so personal to the private duckling but Chase had taken it in stride. Not his submissive compliance of before but his good natured acceptance of jokes that House liked. At least between House and Chase, things were back to normal.
A/N: Ok, hope you liked it. I know it was long but I was going for a mood. Anyway, I tried really hard not to make Cass into a Mary Sue. She originally was nothing more than a plot device, but then I got an idea for another story and kind of needed her this way. So I hope it didn't turn you guys off too much.
As for House, I wrote and rewrote the scene with him and Chase talking about Vogler about 20 times. I just couldn't find a way for him to be nice without it seeming out of character. I'm not sure if the way I did it worked or not, you be the judge. – Naja M.