Cameron and Foreman had both gone home. Chase was working later, as was usual now, while House played his Game Boy and enjoyed the intensivist's desperate struggles to remain employed. Whatever he asked of Chase these days was given to him without question or complaint. Of course, his hesitancy to contribute during differential diagnoses was getting a little inconvenient, but some heavy taunting and forcing Chase to read every diagnostics text he could find an excuse to assign would take care of that. And if Chase's distraction didn't let up he could always fire him, or at least threaten to again. Still, the kid was looking a bit haggard; weight-loss was starting to show. Maybe it was time to give him back his lunch breaks.
After watching his game-icon die for the fifth time on the same level, House decided he'd had enough for one evening. He put away his toys and thumped out of the office, pointedly ignoring Chase who was bent over a mess of files that House had given him to sort through. He didn't even remember what it was, exactly, he'd told Chase to do with them, but Chase was doing it diligently whatever it was. It looked like he'd be there at least another few hours if he wanted to finish tonight.
"Dr. House," Chase called after him hesitantly before the door closed. House paused and glanced over his shoulder. Chase started to say something, but closed his mouth again and bent back over the mess of papers.
"That better be done by tomorrow morning," House warned. Whatever it was. Then he stalked into the hall and let the door fall shut heavily behind him.
Wilson was waiting for him when he passed through oncology. They stepped into the elevator together and Wilson hit the button for the parking garage, but just as the doors were closing a hand shot in to stop them. They slid back open revealed Chase, trying to catch his breath.
"Dr. House." Chase repeated, much more determined.
"Don't you have work you're supposed to be doing?" House snapped at him and rapped his knuckles with his cane so he'd let go of the door, but Chase reached back inside the car and hit the stop button.
"There's something I need you to see," Chase said. "It won't take long, but I think it's important."
"Can't it wait?" House said.
"It's been waiting," Chase insisted. "Please."
House rolled his eyes. "All right, fine. What do you want to show me?"
Chase stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the ground floor. "We need to stop at Dr. Cuddy's office first," he explained. "I'll try not to keep you long,."
"You better not," House grumbled. He turned to Wilson. "You want to tag along, or you need to get home?"
"Well now he's got me curious," Wilson said. "I think I'll stick around."
"Oh…I'm not sure…" Chase said. He chewed his bottom lip and regarded Wilson. "Well, I suppose…Yeah, I guess maybe you should come. All right."
They reached Dr. Cuddy's office just as she was wrapping up for the evening. She frowned when her office was invaded by the three men, none looking particularly happy. The last thing this hospital needed was more drama between Drs. House and Chase.
"Is there a problem, gentlemen?" Cuddy asked.
"Ask Chase," House tattled. "He's the one dragging us around the hospital."
"I'm going to take Dr. House upstairs," Chase said heavily. Cuddy continued to frown for a moment, but suddenly her eyes shot wide open and her jaw went limp. "I just thought I should let you know."
"Dr. Chase, are you sure about this?" Cuddy asked. "As I recall you were fairly adamant about… privacy."
"Privacy?" House repeated. "On my team? That's practically a violation of contract! You have no privacy!"
"Dr. Cuddy, I have a lot of work ahead of me if I'm going to earn back my colleagues' trust," Chase replied. "And I think the only way I'm ever going to be able to do that is if I give mine first." He exhaled heavily and glanced back at House, who was leaning with both hands on his cane and glowering over being ignored. "I owe him an explanation."
"That's for damn sure," House growled. Wilson just shrugged. Chase was a generally private person, but he never would have described him as mysterious before.
"Okay," Cuddy nodded. She picked up her briefcase and coat. "Well then I guess I'd better join you. Let's go."
Chase led them back to the elevator and pressed the button for the fifth floor.
"Palliative Care?" Wilson frowned. Dr. Cuddy shook her head and pursed her lips. Chase fixated on the glowing floor numbers. House rolled his eyes and hunched his shoulders, tapping the floor with his cane. They reached the fifth floor and Chase walked briskly down the hall. House had to struggle to keep up, which did nothing to improve his mood. He had no idea where they were even going. House's department worked mostly to cure acute unknown illnesses; by the time a patient was ready for Palliative, they'd long since left his dominion. In fact, House couldn't recall ever being on this floor before, except in brief passing.
Finally, they stopped in front of a corner door at the end of an off-shoot corridor. House glanced at the tag under the room number, but there was no patient listed and with no corridor windows in Palliative, he couldn't guess who was inside. Chase reached into his pocket for his keys and flipped to a small silver one; it was hospital issued. He unlocked the door, turned the handle, but then he hesitated. He leaned his forehead against the door with closed eyes; he looked like he was praying. The same anger House felt when he saw Chase coming out of the chapel stuck in his throat again.
"You know what, I've had enough of this 'I've got a secret' crap, Chase," House snarled. "It's late. I'm tired. So why don't you just get to the point before I go ahead and…" Chase pushed open the door and stepped aside so House could see the patient lying in the bed. "Holy shit."