TITLE: Faith (1?)
PAIRING: House/Chase if you squint real hard and tilt your head to the side, otherwise gen.
WARNINGS: squicky imagery, language, medical lingo, sorta-kinda-slash
SUMMARY: The team has their hands full with a gripping case, and tensions are high. But everything goes to pieces when Chase falls ill as well…with completely different symptoms than the patient.
DISCLAIMER: Please. If I can't even afford a cell phone, do you honestly think I own House? piffle.
NOTES: This fic…was really hard to write. Like, REALLY hard. I'm the kind of author who really, really dislikes research. A lot. But I got a lot of good feedback from my last medically-inclined fic ("Grip"), so I thought I'd try my hand at another one. Enjoy, my loves, and feedback is much appreciated.
"I'm bored;" Chase announced, more to the air than anything else.
Cameron and Foreman glanced over to him from the other end of the coffee table, rolled their eyes in unison, and returned to their activities. Cameron was quizzing Foreman on treatments and diseases, using beaten-up flashcards that the neurologist must have dug out from his med school boxes. The dark-haired immunologist was being far more patient with her recovering colleague now that he had dropped his holier-than-thou complex, or so it seemed to Chase. But as far as he was concerned (which was about as far as he could toss Vogler), it was all a load of crap.
Sighing and leaning back in his chair, he closed his eyes. He loved working for House, but the tedium between patients was just too much sometimes. He glanced at the clock—barely past nine, he doubted House would even be there until nine-thirty, and that on a good day. Chase bit his lip, considering going down to NICU to see if they needed a hand; despite House forbidding him from going down there for at least a week.
"You got too broken up about the first baby you let die," House had told him in a too-cheerful voice, "and I don't want all those underage Hot Topic girls coming in and stalking you because you're just the prettiest, saddest thing since Conor Oberst."
Chase had blinked at him. "Who's Conor Oberst?"
House had rolled his eyes and poked Chase in the back with his cane, shoving him out of the office. "Cheer up, emo kid. And go buy a Bright Eyes CD."
And here he was, two days later. His eyes drifted back to Cameron and Foreman, who promptly glanced away from him. Chase rolled his eyes, letting his head fall back. If they were going to gossip about him, they might as well do it out loud. He slipped a pen between his teeth and balanced it there, clicking the tip in and out with his tongue.
"Has anyone ever told you," House's voice said from somewhere above him, "that you have an oral fixation?"
"Yes;" Chase said around the pen, not bothering to open his eyes.
"Has anyone ever told you that you should put it to better use?" There was a smirk in House's voice, and the older doctor tugged the pen from between Chase's teeth before the intensevist could reply.
"A few times," Chase sighed, sitting up. "But I'd hope that if you were going to try to pick me up you'd use a better line than that."
"Ooh, someone's feisty this morning." House dropped Chase's pen on the table and limped over to the coffee machine. "That time of the month?" He called over his shoulder.
"Heavy flow," Chase shot back, and felt a little curl of satisfaction when he caught Cameron cringe out of the corner of his eye.
House, on the other hand, took it in stride. "Remind me to pick you up a box of Playtex supers during my lunch break." He took a seat next to Chase, a steaming mug of coffee in his hand. "Why are you all just sitting here? Don't you have a patient to diagnose?" He glanced at Cameron. "I'm sure you could find a dying kid's hand to hold, if you look real hard. Check the cancer wing, they've got plenty."
Cameron opened her mouth to retort and Foreman cut her off. "We don't have a patient," he said. "We haven't had anything since the dea—" he glanced at Chase and revised whatever it was he had been about to say. "—since the woman with Ciliac Disease."
"Really, we haven't? And here I thought you were all just being especially efficient." House paused. "Or especially sneaky. Go with the first one, it sounds better. Alliteration, and all. Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what 'alliteration' means."
None of them rose to the bait, and House sighed. "No fun. Alright…" He scanned the three of them, pretending to calculate, and Chase resigned himself to the inevitable.
"Chase;" the older doctor announced after a moment. "Down to the clinic."
"Why?" He protested automatically. "You don't even have clinic duty today, I checked."
"If that wasn't stalker-like behaviour, I'd be flattered." House said cheerfully. "And Cuddy rescheduled me. Something about me digging too deep into her personal life."
"You chronicled her periods!" Cameron blurted out.
There was a moment of silence.
"Well;" House said. "That was awkward."
"I think she's jealous that you're paying more attention to Cuddy's vagina than to hers." Chase said.
House mock-shivered. "Brr, it's getting cold in here." He nudged Chase with his cane. "Clinic. Now."
Chase gave a resigned sigh and rose, pointedly ignoring House when the diagnostician saluted him with his coffee mug.
When he had first started at PPTH, Chase hadn't really understood why House hated the clinic so much.
Within a month, he'd figured it out.
"Nine forty-five, Dr. House checks in;" he told the nurse at the desk tiredly.
She glanced at him. "Honey, I know Dr. House, and you are not Dr. House. What are you doing here, Dr. Chase?"
He spared her a grin. He like this nurse, she reminded him of every child's favourite aunt. "Minion duty," he said, and she sighed and pushed the sign-in sheet towards him. He forged House's signature with a fluid, practised hand.
She squinted at it. "You're getting good at that."
"Practise." He picked up a file. "See you later."
Walking into the waiting area, he glanced at the name on the file and called it out. "Andrew McTernan?"
A blond boy in his mid-teens raised his hand; a dark-haired boy next to him glanced over. "That's me," the blond said.
Chase held up the file. "Follow me, please."
He guided them into an exam room and closed the door behind him, then turned to see the dark-haired boy helping his friend onto the exam room table. "So;" he said. "What's up?"
The two boys exchanged a glance, probably surprised by their doctor's loose phrasing. "Um," the blond said nervously. "How common is anal bleeding after sex?"
It took every ounce of Chase's self control not to groan.
Forty-five minutes and four patients later, Chase was starting to list ways of killing his boss in his head. He glanced at his watch and sighed, picking up a file. "Jezebel Cohen?"
A tall, smartly dressed woman stood, pulling a pigtailed child with her. The little girl fidgeted in her mother's grip and looked altogether unhappy, and Chase sighed again.
When the exam room door was shut, the annoyed persona vanished and Dr. Chase slid into effect. He smiled at the little girl and said "Hey there" in the voice that made babies stop crying and small children hug his legs. "What's your name?"
"Jezebel," the girl told him, blond pigtails swinging. "With a Z."
"Well, Jezebel-with-a-Z, what seems to be the problem today?"
"It's on the file," the girl's mother interrupted. "Can you just read it and treat her? I have to drop her off at day care and go to a meeting by eleven."
"And you are?"
"Adeline Miller," the woman told him. "And late."
Chase raised his eyebrows and picked up the file. "Loss of appetite and joint pain?"
The woman shrugged. "She says her knees and elbows hurt."
Chase set the file down. "Tilt your head up, Jezebel?" The child complied and he pressed his fingers along her neck, feeling for swollen lymph nodes. "Fever?"
"Yes. It was 102 when I checked it this morning." Adeline said, and checked her watch impatiently while the child squirmed.
"I see." He opened a drawer and pulled out a disposable thermometer, instructing the child to hold it under her tongue. "Well, it just seems like a case of the flu, as far as I can see. A fever of 101-102 is normal, as well as the lack of an appetite. She should be fine—" The thermometer beeped. He checked it, and frowned. The blinking numbers read 104.6.
"I take that back;" he said. "It's not the flu."
"Six year old female, fever, joint pain, and loss of appetite." House tapped the white board with his marker. "Go."
Foreman raised his eyebrows. "I'm going to go out on a limb, here. The flu?"
"Fever's too high." Chase told him. "She was fidgeting, though. She seemed uncomfortable."
"Probably because of the joint pain," Cameron threw in.
"I don't think so," he argued. "She didn't seem to be in pain, she just seemed…squirmy."
"'Squirmy'?" House shook his head. "Eight years of med school and the best you can come up with is 'squirmy'?"
Chase made a rude gesture with his left hand, and House smirked and added "malaise" to the list of symptoms.
"Okay," he said. "We've got fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, and malaise. And God said, let there be an MRI. Brain, chest, and liver. And it was so." He took a seat, slinging his feet into Chase's lap and ignoring Chase's eye-roll. "Cameron and Foreman, get going. And make sure he remembers how to use the machine." Chase tried to rise, and House held him down with his legs. "Not you, blondie."
Cameron gave him a sympathetic shrug and left, Foreman behind her. Chase glanced at his boss. "Do you mind?"
"Nope." House said amiably.
Chase heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Why don't you just tell me what you want, rather than keeping me guessing?"
"I like keeping you guessing," House evaded, and spent a minute regarding the other doctor with calculating blue eyes. "What made you grab this case?"
"It's interesting. And we didn't have anything else to do."
"If it was just 'interesting', you wouldn't have been so excited to take it. There's another reason." House tapped his cane against the floor. "I think you don't want to see another kid die. You're oversensitive right now, like…" he paused, and then shrugged. "I can't think of a non-sexual metaphor."
Chase raised his eyebrows. "You think I'm not objective?"
"I don't care if you're objective. But if the kid dies, I'm not going to hold your hand while you cry."
Chase pushed House's legs off his lap none too gently, though taking care with the right one. "I'm going to go talk to the patient now." He paused at the door. "Shouldn't you be torturing a kitten or something?"
"Touché;" House said, and waved him out.
When Chase reached Jezebel's room, he found the little girl sitting up in bed, blankets tucked up around her waist. Jezebel's mother was nowhere to be seen, but there was a man there, looking to be in his mid-thirties. He had Jezebel's blond hair, and Chase figured him to be Jezebel's father.
The man stood when Chase entered, extending his hand. "I'm Jason Cohen," he said. "Jezzie's my daughter."
"I'm Dr. Chase." He clasped the man's hand.
"So…" The man shoved his hands in his pockets. "Do they know what's wrong with her?"
"We're running some tests," Chase told him vaguely. "To tell the truth, Mr. Cohen, your daughter seems to be physically fine, but a fever this high is cause for concern. It's most likely an infection."
"Infections can be treated with antibiotics, right?" Jason glanced at his daughter. "So she'll be okay?"
"Most likely." Chase smiled and looked around. "If you don't mind my asking…where's your wife?"
"Ex-wife." Jason corrected sheepishly. "It's her weekend to take Jezzie." He blinked. "Not that she's trouble. I love my daughter. It's just…Adeline seems to have skipped out on the maternal gene."
"I gathered." Deeming the conversation over, Chase approached the bed. "Alright, Jezzie, are you feeling any better?"
The little girl smiled up at him. "I remember you. The nice doctor."
He chuckled. "I'm glad you think so." He felt her throat and underarms for swelling, and took her pulse. "Have you eaten anything odd recently?"
She paused. "Me and Katie Marks had pork at her mom's house last week. I don't usually eat pork. Mommy says it'll make me fat."
"Well, Mommy knows best, right?" Chase tried to keep the resentment from his voice. "Have you been anywhere new? Out of the country?"
"Mommy took me on a plane ridelast month. We went somewhere warm."
Chase glanced at the father.
"Adeline took Jezzie with her on a business trip to Miami;" Jason supplied. "It was a week-long trip, and I had the flu so I couldn't take her."
"I see." Chase bit his lip. This could be delicate. "Jezzie, was your mom with you all the time during the trip?"
"Nope," she said cheerfully. "She let me go wherever I wanted."
"Alright." He turned to Jason. "This…might be a little sensitive. Jezzie, did anyone you didn't know hurt you while you were there? Did anyone touch you?"
She looked confused. "No. Nobody."
Jason echoed his daughter's confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"A six-year-old child roaming around a hotel by herself is a prime target for child molesters," Chase told him in an undertone.
Jason gaped at him. "You think—"
"It's a possibility," Chase cautioned. "I think it would be a good idea to run a rape kit, to see if there's any reason to suspect a sexually transmitted disease."
Jason paled. "Oh, God—"
The man's next words were cut off by the beeping of the stat monitors around Jezebel's bed, and Chase whirled. The child was convulsing on the sheets, her tiny body writing and shaking with violent jerks. He was by her side in an instant, calling over his shoulder. "She's seizing; I need someone in here now!"
A nurse came running in, helping him hold her down. "Push two CCs of Atavan," he told her sharply, keeping a grip on Jezzie's shoulders while she thrashed…
"She had a seizure?" Cameron sounded incredulous.
"Yeah." Chase ran a hand through his hair. "She's stable now, we sedated her. Her fever's up over 105."
"I'm no doctor, but I'd say that's not good." House twirled his cane. "So we can add 'seizure' to the list of problems. Any ideas?"
"Seizures, it's got to be something neurological." Cameron peered at the file. "She was complaining of a headache?"
"A few days ago, according to her father," Chase affirmed. "There's a connection?"
"Doesn't matter," Foreman said from the doorway. "She's got bigger problems than that."
House glanced over at him. "Oh?"
"MRI results." Foreman brandished them, though there was no humour in his voice. "Her liver's crashing."
Jason looked alarmed when Chase told him the news. "Her liver? I thought you said this was an infection."
"That's still a possibility," Chase said, as soothingly as he could. "But right now we need to find out what's wrong with her liver. We need you to sign a consent form."
Jason raked his hands over his face. "Consent for what?"
"A liver biopsy." Chase explained. "Basically we take a piece of her liver tissue to run tests on."
"Why do I get the feeling it's more complicated than that?" Jason asked wearily.
"It is a surgical procedure," Chase allowed. "But the main problem is still the fever. Her immune system is working overtime to kill whatever's causing the fever. If she were to get an infection from the surgery, it's likely that her immune system wouldn't be able to spare the time to fight it off."
"So…" Jason swiped his hand across his face, as if to wipe away tears before they fell, glancing at his daughter's sleeping form. "So, uh, what do you think she has?"
"Right now it looks like Hepatitis B is our best guess." Chase said, handing him the clipboard and consent form.
Jason's expression shifted to one of confusion. "But isn't that…" he lowered his voice "…a sexual disease?"
Chase spared him a smile. "Yes, in most cases. But according to your ex-wife's medical history—" which had taken them six hours to get a hold of "—she was infected with HBV when she was pregnant with your daughter. The virus can be transmitted from mother to infant if the mother is infected."
"Is it treatable?" Jason's tone was far too hopeful, and Chase nodded, choosing not to comment on the fact that he seemed unsurprised by the fact that his wife had had a sexually transmitted disease.
"Very." He took the signed form back. "If it is Hep B, we can start her on interferon right away."
"Right. Thanks." Jason turned back to his daughter, and Chase moved to leave. As soon as his hand touched the slider, though, Jason spoke. "Doctor?"
Chase paused. "Yes?"
"Will Jezzie be okay?"
Chase gave him as best a smile as he could muster. "I hope so, Mr. Cohen."
By eleven o'clock that night Jezebel was in surgery, her father dutifully pacing the waiting room.
Cameron was gone; she'd headed home at eight. House and Chase were lounging in the conference room; House reading the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated while Chase caught a few minutes of sleep, head pillowed in his arms.
Foreman tapped on the door and stuck his head in. He held up a take-out bag silently, glancing at Chase. House stood, limping quietly over to Foreman and took the bag, walking back to the table and dropping the bag on the table beside Chase, who jerked awake.
"What? Did we get the biopsy results back?" He looked around blearily, eyes settling on the bag of food. "Wuzzat?"
"'Zat'", House said, sitting back down, "is dinner."
Chase sat up, blinking. "You got me dinner?" There was blatant disbelief in his voice.
"Well," House took a Styrofoam container out of the bag and placed it in front of Chase, then picked up the bag. "I figured it was only fair, seeing as how you're staying overnight with the patient."
Chase groaned. "Why me?"
"Because Cameron already went home, I have to go watch the O.C., and Foreman's…" He paused thoughtfully, then decided on "Foreman's black. So you're staying." He wiggled his fingers in a wave. "Nighty-night, don't let the infectious diseases bite."
And then he was gone, the glass door shutting behind him. Foreman sent him a sympathetic glance, shrugged, and followed his boss.
Chase sighed, pulling the container towards him. Tearing open the package of plastic silverware, he opened the container and settled in for the night.
"You look exhausted." Cameron told Chase upon her arrival the next morning. "Did you get any sleep at all?"
"A bit," he said. He had crashed on the couch in House's office at about three that morning, and had gotten up at seven, exchanged his slept-in clothes for scrubs, and splashed some cold water on his face in preparation for another day. "She was okay last night."
"Did you get the biopsy results back?" She asked over her shoulder, hanging her jacket up in the closet and grabbing her lab coat.
Chase shook his head. "Foreman got in about twenty minutes ago, he said he'd pick them up."
"House in yet?"
He threw her a sceptical look, and she raised her hands in the age-old gesture of defence. "Just asking."
"I'm tired," he said, as if it explained everything; and rubbed his hand over his eyes. "He's not here yet, no." He stood, feeling cramps in every joint in his body, and stretched, arching his back. "Ow," he muttered, feeling a stab of pain through his stomach. His hand flew to his abdomen on instinct and he winced. "Dammit."
Cameron glanced at him from the coffee machine. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Fine." He straightened slowly, lowering himself back into his chair with a frown. "My stomach just…Never mind, it's nothing."
She came back over, handing him a mug of coffee, which he accepted with a grateful smile. "Are you sure?" She frowned, concern colouring her features. "You look pale."
"I'm just tired," he assured her, taking a sip of tea. It burned his mouth and he revelled in it. "Don't worry about it." There was another twinge of pain through his abdomen and bit back a grimace; hiding it behind a sip.
"I've got the biopsy results," Foreman announced from where he was leaning against the doorframe. "Negative for Hep B."
Chase sighed, running his hands through his hair. "Damn. That was our best bet, too."
Cameron put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "We'll figure it out."
He stared at her hand until she removed it. "Right." He stood. "I'll go talk to her father."
Foreman frowned as Chase passed him. "You okay? You don't look too good."
He shrugged. "I didn't sleep very much last night. I'll be fine." He forced a smile. "I'll see you guys later."
"So it's not Hepatitis?" Jason looked distraught. "I thought you said—"
"Hepatitis explained her symptoms," Chase explained as gently as possible, "Or most of them. It's possible that her symptoms were caused by another liver disease. We're running a few tests now."
Jason gave a slow nod. "Okay." There was a miserable note in his voice as he turned back to his sleeping daughter.
Chase took a slow breath and exhaled. "Mr. Cohen…If you don't mind my asking, why isn't your ex-wife here?"
"Business meeting," he said bitterly. "It's always business first with Adeline."
By ten that morning, when House finally got there, Chase knew he was getting sick.
The stomach cramps from that morning hadn't faded, and he was getting colder by the minute. Huddled in yesterday's sports jacket and his lab coat next to the radiator in the conference room, it was no surprise that House greeted him with raised eyebrows.
"When I called Cuddy an Ice Queen, you do realise that it was meant metaphorically, right?" House stumped into the room, settling himself into a chair and ignoring Chase's pointed silence. He pulled Jezzie's file towards him and looked it over. "She was negative for Hep B after all?"
"Yeah," Chase said through chattering teeth. "I told you it was—" He stopped mid-sentence as a shiver rocked through his body and he nearly bit his tongue. "—a long shot."
House glanced at him, only a tiny hint of concern in his voice when he said "What's the matter with you."
"I think I'm coming down with something," Chase admitted. "I've got chills and stomach cramps, it's probably the flu."
"It's probably food poisoning, is what it is." House snorted. "Don't be such a baby."
"I've got a right to be, seeing as how you brought me said food." Chase retorted, and House smirked.
"You are getting feistier, you little minx."
"I try," Chase shot back, and then winced as pain lanced through his stomach. "Ow."
House rolled his eyes as Cameron and Foreman slipped into the room. "Good, a reprieve from His Royal Whininess. How's the kid?"
"Not good;" Foreman answered before Cameron could even open her mouth. "Biliruben levels are through the roof, and she's showing signs of jaundice."
"Her liver's crashing," Cameron summarised, looking as if someone had just run over her puppy. "She won't last until tomorrow night at this rate."
House sighed. "Has she bled out? Any clotting problems?"
Cameron shook her head. "No, but it's a matter of time."
"She's going to need a transplant," Foreman said reluctantly.
"How are we going to get her a transplant this quickly?" Chase spoke up from next to the heater.
"We've always weaselled our way onto the top of the list befo—" Foreman paused mid-word, glancing at him. "You look like crap."
"Appreciate it," Chase snapped, shivering. "House's brilliant diagnosis is food poisoning."
"And how often are my brilliant diagnoses wrong?" House asked sweetly, and then turned to Foreman. "Treat the symptoms, to buy us a little time. Get her on an IV of Cynarin for the liver and give her acetaminophen to bring the fever down."
"I'll talk to her father," Chase said tiredly, standing.
House stopped him with his cane. "No you won't."
"House," Chase said warningly. "I'm the primary. It's my job."
"Not anymore it's not." House said pleasantly. "Foreman's right, you look like crap. Go home."
"See, here's the thing. I sign your paychecks, right?" Chase glared at him, and he went on. "And if I tell you not to work, you don't work. So go home and sleep for a couple hours, then give us a ring here and maybe I'll let you come back. Fair?"
Chase scowled, and then his shoulders slumped in defeat. "Fine."
Jason caught Chase by the arm as he shuffled past Jezzie's room, bag over his shoulder. "Where are you going? Have you figured out what's wrong with her?"
Chase shook his head. "No, not yet. I'm sorry, Mr. Cohen, but I'm coming down with something, and I can't risk infecting Jezzie."
The man's fingers fell limply from Chase's arm. "But…she knows you," he said pathetically. "You're her doctor. You were treating her."
"I was her primary doctor," Chase corrected him. "We've got a team of doctors working on your daughter's case, Mr. Cohen. She's being left in good hands."
Jason glanced back at his daughter's bed. "Good hands?"
Chase looked over the man's shoulder, and saw House come around the corner of the hallway and lean against the wall. As his eyes met House's, Chase heard himself say "The very best."
to be continued
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