Title: Ulterior Motives
Spoilers: None past Season 1, barely even that. Set in an imaginary Christmas.
Disclaimer: House is not mine. Alas for me...
Summary: Chase does something nice for House. House, naturally, has to find out why. Or that's what he says when Wilson asks him how it started.
AN: Festive fluff. Like, really, fluff. So be warned. One of the self-challenges to write a holiday fic in each of my main fandoms. (Also, I know it's late, but I've had no internet properly for weeks, so I crave your forgiveness... And your feedback... :-) )
Wilson timed these things badly. It was just like him to be away at a conference the day the pretty new pharmacist decided that House really shouldn't be prescribing his own pain medication. House winced again as his leg seized up.
Chase entered the room without knocking. He kept his head bowed and didn't say a word as he walked to the desk, set down a bottle of pills, and left.
House looked after him for a moment, and then turned his attention to more important matters. It took only a cursory examination to ascertain that the pills were, indeed, Vicodin, so he swallowed two before pondering the Chase matter any further. The pill bottle proved that it wasn't some drug-withdrawal hallucination. There it was in black and white – prescribing physician: Dr R Chase.
House walked into the office to find his staff. Chase was the only one there.
'What was that about?' House demanded.
'This!' he answered, brandishing the Vicodin menacingly.
'What game are we playing now?'
Chase looked some mixture of indignant and embarrassed. 'What do you mean?'
'Why did you decide to play fetch?'
'Because you needed the pills?' Chase tried.
'The girl at the pharmacy told me you had been down there threatening her. Wilson isn't here. You've been in pain all afternoon.'
'Pharmacy-girl ratted me out?'
'She was scared of you!'
House was a little mollified. 'Good.' Not that much though. 'So you decided...what? That this was an easy way to get into my good books?'
'Well clearly it didn't bloody work!'
'So you admit it?'
'Penance of some kind?'
'I think it would take more than bringing you pills.'
'Then we're back to where we started.'
'There was no ulterior motive, House.'
'I don't believe that.'
'Of course you don't. It's still true.'
'So this was a ... gesture of goodwill?'
'Something like that. Although why I bothered...' Chase trailed off, muttering.
'This was you being nice?'
'Yes,' he answered, relieved.
'House!' Chase exclaimed in desperation. He was rescued, much to his relief, by the arrival of Cameron and Foreman. House seemed to put the matter to one side.
- - - - --
'Chase? Coffee? Or would your British sensibilities be offended?' Foreman really should stop trying to be House.
It took Foreman and Cameron a moment to realise that the mild correction had come not from the resident Brit/Aussie, but House.
'What?' he asked innocently.
Valiantly resisting the urge to draw attention to what would inevitably turn into one of his spiels, they both moved quickly on. Chase, however, grinned around the pencil he was chewing.
When Cameron and Foreman left, he trailed a little behind, waiting to see if House would say anything.
'We're even now,' his boss observed.
'You don't think my recognition of your nationality was good enough?'
Chase stood in the doorway, but didn't turn. 'I told you I didn't do it to get something back. Now I owe you one.'
- - - - - - -
'Your reverse psychology won't work on me, you know,' House warned Lisa Cuddy, walking past her office.
'This "I don't care if you're not in the clinic" attitude isn't fooling anyone.'
'What are you talking about now?' she asked.
She did sound genuinely bemused. That was puzzling. 'Not telling me to go and do my clinic hours isn't going to make me do them.'
'House, your clinic hours are being covered today, apparently because you're busy with your own patient. If this isn't the case...'
'Oh no, busy busy busy, that's me.'
'I thought so. And by the way, I tried reverse psychology in my first month of being your boss. My methods have become more cunning since then.'
'Noted,' he answered, making his escape before she could try any of them. He didn't need to go downstairs to find out who was covering his hours, but it made him happy. After all, the clinic could be a great place to get some peace and quiet if only Cuddy wouldn't insist that he talked to the sick people. He snatched the sign in sheet from one of the nurses, ignoring her squawk of annoyance. Sure enough, Dr G House had been crossed out and replaced with Dr R Chase.
- - - - - -
Chase wheeled round, not entirely sure he had heard that right. 'Sorry?'
'The rash. Red and icky?'
Chase grinned to himself as he nodded and walked on, knowing what it would have cost House to compliment him with no provocation.
- - - - - - -
'Explain this to me again,' Wilson asked patiently.
House smirked, walking round the desk to look at it from a different angle. Eventually he sat down, and picked up the mug. He read the inscription again, and laughed. 'It's from Chase.'
'It's not that I'm always right, it's just that I'm never wrong.' Wilson read. 'I get that it's from Chase, I just don't understand why.'
'It's a competition. I'm winning.'
'He did something nice for you, so you needed to do something nice back to spite him.'
'Even for you, that's twisted logic.'
'I can't accept gestures from them, you know that. It makes them all happy and twinkly.'
'Yes,' Wilson acknowledged, 'but normally you just mock them relentlessly until they run screaming, taking back any nice thing they may ever have done for you.'
'Chase is special.' House answered glibly.
To his confusion, Wilson smiled. 'Really?'
'That was my sarcastic voice.'
'Okay.' Wilson went to the doorway, but turned around. 'You do realise that no matter who finishes this, he's already won.'
'How do you work that one out?'
'He's made you do something nice for him.'
- - - - - -
Chase jumped. He turned around to face Wilson, who was sighing. 'Do you need something?'
Wilson sighed again. 'House sent me in here.'
'Does he need me for something?'
'That's the thing. He's sent me in here to tell you that while he could have come in, and disturbed you from your break, to send you to get a blood sample, he sent Foreman instead.'
Chase smiled softly. 'But I wouldn't have known that he was doing that unless he sent you in to tell me.'
'Yeah,' Wilson answered, in his best all suffering voice. 'Also, he likes to regress to the seventh grade now and then.'
Chase looked past Wilson to see House through the glass. He nodded, and House scowled at him.
- - - - - -
'An apple! We're onto apples now?' House tossed the bright green apple at Chase, who caught it with barely suppressed laughter.
'Wasn't me,' the intensivist explained. Cameron was blushing. 'Here,' Chase went on. He handed House a bag of skittles. 'I would never bring you an apple.'
- - - - - - -
'Where did you get this?' Chase asked, looking at the can on the desk in wonder.
'I have my connections,' House answered smugly.
'Connections who know where to get Australian beer?'
'Among other things.'
'Is this your mafia connections, or different ones?'
'You think the mafia doesn't traffic in foreign beer?'
'As far as I was aware, Yanks were all happy enough drinking...'
House cut him off, 'Traditionally, it's considered impolite to insult the alcoholic beverage of the country of the person bringing you presents.'
'In that case, I'll just say thanks.'
- - - - - - -
Light fingers ran down his arm. Chase spun to face House.
'What... what are you doing?'
'It took me a while, but I figured it out.'
'It's taken you until now?'
'What can I say, the dying patient distracted me.'
House tugged on the sleeve again, patting Chase's arm with mock solicitousness. 'The colour suits you.'
Chase blushed, rising from the chair and leaving hurriedly, running his hands down the arm of his perfectly matched suit and shirt.
- - - - - -
'Did anyone check...?' Chase was asking.
Cameron and Foreman leant forward to see what he was pointing at. All three looked up when their boss entered the room.
Chase waited for the cane poked at him to get him to move. House didn't appreciate Chase's continual theft of the chair at his desk, but he kept doing it anyway.
There was a silence as House laboriously dragged one of the other chairs to the table. Chase smiled behind his hand, and pushed the file towards House.
- - - - - - - -
'I'm bored,' House interjected into the quiet office, 'Someone entertain me.'
'The case isn't doing anything for you?' Foreman asked dryly.
'Buckley's chance of that,' Chase answered nonchalently.
'What did you say?' Cameron asked.
'Bloody septic tanks don't understand a word...' he muttered, obviously struggling to keep a straight face as he stretched his accent as far as possible.
'How long can you keep that up?' House asked, watching Chase delightedly. Normally it took a great deal of effort to make Chase angry if House wanted him to slip into his Australian accent.
'Yonks, once upon a time, but I've been away from Oz too long.'
Cameron giggled, 'Do you really talk like that back home?'
'Think I'm full of it?' Chase answered, before reverting back to more or less his normal accent, 'Nah, we just like to make yanks think that we do. Or do it to entertain the boss when he gets bored.'
House was still grinning. He would be dining off this one for weeks. Though it did mean he would have to revert to Australian rather than British jokes for a while.
- - - - - - - -
Chase shivered violently as he entered the office.
'Forget your mittens again?' House asked sweetly. He was standing at the side of the room, his back to the door.
'It has to be below zero out there,' he answered through chattering teeth. 'Who builds a city in a place that gets this cold?'
'Ah those pesky settlers,' House said, 'refusing to take into account innocent transplanted hot-house flowers...'
House walked to Chase. 'Buy thicker clothes. Start remembering that we have winters in December here. Or stop whining.' He handed Chase a red mug.
Chase curled his fingers around it, closing his eyes at the sudden warmth. 'You made me tea?'
'You never remember that it gets cold.'
- - - - - - - - -
'Shouldn't you have gone home?' House asked, looking curiously at Chase, whose head was bent over a pile of books.
'Nothing better to do. And you're not going yet, are you?'
'Well, unlike you I have plenty of better things to do. But as Dr Cuddy seems to hold me personally responsible for keeping the mortality rate of this department low, I don't have much choice.'
'So, what? I sent Foreman and Cameron home. I sent you home as well as I recall.'
'You get bored without someone to give you wrong answers to your questions.'
'I would get less bored if they gave me the right ones, but that never seems to encourage anyone,' House answered sardonically.
'I don't have anything else to do,' Chase repeated, shrugging and looking back at the book.
- - - - - - - -
'Jittery, spooked. Eleven letters.' Chase asked tiredly. It had been a long day, even for them. The patient stubbornly refused to improve, even with House on the case. Chase had personally resuscitated her once, reopened her airways twice, and had her blood and vomit spat at him at least four times. They were waiting for House to return with yet another round of tests that would probably tell them nothing.
Chase jumped as House came up behind him. Heart still pounding, he frowned as he realised he had just set up House's joke. Eleven letters - Robert Chase. He waited for the glib remark so he could get back to the crossword.
'Overwrought,' House muttered, taking the pencil from Chase. He filled in the answer carefully, leaning over the still-shaking shoulders. He placed his hands on them to hold him still. 'Either much more or much less coffee for you. Or is the fight or flight response an intensivist thing?'
'You get the results?' he asked dumbly.
Before House moved away to read the results, Chase felt the quick squeeze of long fingers on his shoulders.
- - - - - - - -
Undoubtedly the most impressive yet was Chase's activities in Obstetrics. House wandered into the OB/GYN lounge expecting to have his usual fight with them about the television. Amazingly, the TV was already showing General Hospital, and none of the doctors there seemed to be trying to change it. There were some glowers his direction, but no one stopped him as he sat down to watch, nor did they try and change channels during the commercials.
It was only when he tried to leave that he realised what Chase had done. As he stood up to go back to his office, one of the doctors, the one normally harassing him about being where he didn't belong, inquired with forced politeness whether House could please unglue the panel of buttons on the TV and return the remote.
House didn't stop laughing until he reached his office.
- - - - - - - -
'Here,' House called brusquely, tossing something at Chase.
Chase caught it reflexively, used to having House's toys thrown at him. He made to throw it back.
'And I'm giving it to you. It's a red and white stripy ball, Chase, not my first-born child. Or something really important, like my iPod.'
'I know, and thanks, but you keep it.'
'Refusing presents is terribly rude you know, Robert.'
'You're giving it to me because I keep stealing it.'
'I assumed that just accepting that and handing it over would be less bother.'
'The thing is,' Chase answered, smiling hesitantly, unsure whether he dared say this, however cryptic it would be, 'it's only fun to steal because it's yours.'
'So...' House began, seemingly unsure what to say to that.
'Hang onto it for me,' Chase answered, placing the ball back in House's hands. Without looking back at House, he bolted out of the room.
- - - - - - - - -
'You're working Christmas Day?'
'Yeah,' Chase answered cautiously.
'Uh... three to eleven in the morning, and then four to midnight.'
'I'm covering for...'
'I know that. People come and tell me these things like they think I care.'
'You don't mind working Christmas day?'
'Why would I? No one here to visit anyway. And it means someone else gets...'
'So that's it? This is your way of making sure that some kid gets to see Daddy pretend to be Santa tomorrow morning? This will, by the way, scar him for life when he finds out his parents have been lying to him all these years. And then he gets to watch Daddy get pissed and start yelling at Mummy about how much money she spent on the crap under the tree?'
'Actually, its letting some kid see his Mum on Christmas morning. And her Dad for Christmas dinner.'
'And does it make you feel better? Do you think these kids will grow up less messed-up than you just because Rowan Chase didn't run off to work instead of playing trains with them?'
'I think you overestimate the effect you're having here. Kids get used to these things.'
'No, they don't.' Chase assured him quietly. 'They cope. But they never stop being disappointed that their Dad isn't there on Christmas morning. And when it's every Christmas morning and evening, and every birthday, and every soccer match, even then they don't stop hoping.'
'That's a sad story. So what if I told you that I wanted to go and see my Dad that day, and I needed someone to cover from eleven to four?'
'Let's say I did.'
'You want me to say that I'd cover it?'
'Even though you would be working all Christmas day?'
'I've worked longer shifts than that.'
'Not on purpose.'
'Not my purpose, no. But you've asked me to before.'
'And you've said yes.'
'I didn't have much of a choice.'
'So why should today be any different?'
'You could say no.'
'Why would I do that?'
'Say no to me? You could prove that you don't always do what I tell you I suppose. Prove to Foreman and Cameron that you have a backbone in there after all.'
Chase just shook his head.
Lashing out, barely even aware why he was doing it, House asked, 'What do you hope to gain from this, Chase?'
'I think we've had this conversation,' Chase said.
'Yes, but you didn't ever really answer me, did you? What are you getting from this?'
'What are you getting?'
'Nuh-uh, you answer first, that's the rules. Why is it so important that I have happy-fuzzy feelings towards you?'
Chase was backing away, trying to get out of the conversation.
'Nope,' House said, reaching a hand out to stop him. 'No running. Because, you see, I think I know what you want, Chase. I'm not sure your intentions are as honourable as you've been telling me. In fact, I don't think they're honourable at all.'
Closing in on Chase, he leant forward, pinning him butterfly-like against the glass. House continued, his mouth barely inches from Chase's own. 'I think this is what you want.'
The kiss was hard, and deep, and Chase gasped into it. House was the one to break it, eyes dark with something indefinable. When he spoke, his voice was harsh and quiet. 'Now we're even.' He left Chase alone in the room.
- - - - - - - -
It was closer to one a.m. when Chase finally made his way downstairs and out of the hospital. He didn't notice the cane crossing his path until he had tripped over it.
At the other end of the cane, his boss was snickering at him.
'House,' he stated obviously.
'Chase.' House parroted back.
'What are you doing here?'
'Well, I was lying at home, contemplating, as you do.'
'Oh, the value of kisses. I think I overpaid.'
House looked victorious, and though Chase had no doubt that House had won, he had no idea how, or what the game had changed to. So he watched him blankly.
'When you think about it, what's covering five hours in the hospital in comparison to one of my kisses?'
Chase sighed and looked for the least humiliating way out of this tangent. 'You want me to cover more?' he asked tiredly.
'Come on.' He put a hand to Chase's back and walked him towards the door. 'Come and make it up to me.'
Chase grinned. 'Only one problem with that.'
'What?' House asked in surprise.
Chase leant in towards his shoulder, relishing the chance to get one up on House. 'You weren't supposed to be on the rota today. And I'm tired. So you owe me.'
'Well then, Dr Chase, if you're so tired maybe we should defer payment for later...' Something of his dismay must have made it onto his face, because House laughed. 'Or maybe we'll soldier on. It is Christmas after all.'
FIN: Thoughts would be lovely.