Wilson knocked on the open door of House's office, automatically catching the large tennis ball that barreled toward his face. He threw it back at the room's occupant, and let himself in.
"Chase is sick."
"That's a little harsh. I mean, you have a point, but-"
"He called in sick."
"Ahh" House tossed the ball into the air before throwing it back to his friend. He grinned as Wilson took up his invitation and settled in for an impromptu game of toss.
"You know, you really could be a little nicer to him." Wilson scolded.
"What? It's my fault he's sick, because I'm mean to him? Besides, he's just playing hooky."
"Of course he's playing hooky. That's why he asked me to tell you. You can tell when he's lying. But why would he be playing hooky?"
"Because he's a naughty boy?" House offered innocently.
"Or because you hired a stripper to bring him lunch and pretend to be his girlfriend?" Wilson countered.
"Oh come on! I was just trying to make him lighten up. He's going to give himself an ulcer."
"You're the one giving him an ulcer House."
House grunted non-commentaly and threw the tennis ball a little harder than necessary.
"We're all glad you're having fun with your new toy, but you're going to break him if you keep it up."
"But then I can rebuild him, Stronger, faster."
"So that's your plan? Break his spirit and remake him in your image? You know, Cameron already thinks you're turning him into a mini-house. "
House snorted. "You say that like it's a bad thing."
Wilson lifted an eyebrow.
House rolled his eyes. "Fine, I guess I'll just have to go back to harassing the patients. Does Cuddy know our delicate little wombat is taking the day off to lick his wounds?"
A folder flew past Wilson's shoulder to land in House's lap.
"Yes she does. Which is why she made me come in anyway." Chase was leaning against the door. House took the opportunity to look him over. The young doctor was wearing worn, faded jeans, and a large sweatshirt. His arms were crossed over his stomach, his hands hidden in the long sleeves.
"You look like shit."
"I feel like shit. That's why I called in sick."
"Are you contagious?"
"If I were, I would already be in the break room sneezing in your coffee."
House caught the tennis ball again and threw it to Chase, who watched it sail into the hallway, clearly unimpressed. He nodded towards the file. "If you're done with recess, the rest of us would like to work now. You should like this case, 30 year old male, complaining of a sore throat, and loss of color vision when he urinates."
House sighed in mock disappointment. "Couldn't you find anything interesting? "
"Sorry, all the good cases were taken. Come on, if you're a good boy I'll poison a patient later, and let you figure out which drugs I used." Chase offered.
"Sounds fun. Gather up the ducklings."
Chase nodded and slipped out the door.
Wilson spun his chair back around to face House. "See?"
"Oh come on, I was never that snippy." House gathered up the folder and his favorite white board markers. Wilson kicked the tennis ball back into the office as they began walking down the hallway together. "And I never would have wasted a sick day on actual illness. They're for hangovers."
"And wound licking?" Wilson suggested, smirking.
"Shut up." House growled and whacked him on the leg with his cane.
House chewed on the marker as he stared at the whiteboard.
Foreman cleared his throat. "It's obviously-"
"Shh!" House silenced him. He continued to stare at the board, reading the words out loud.
"Thirty. Male. Obese, Wheel chair. Sore throat. Peeing in black and white. " He tapped the marker against his lips.
"Chase, differential diagnosis of a sore throat."
"Being strangled by your coworker?"
House turned and dinged the marker off of Chase's forehead. "Cute. Go. Research. Start with R's." He smirked as Chase blinked at him in disbelief. "Not kidding. " He waited until Chase had stalked over to the computer and turned on his ipod before addressing the remaining ducklings. "Okay. One of you go and tell out patient that he's fat and lazy, the other, go and get me some coffee, I think Chase sneezed in this one."
Neither of the doctors moved. House sighed.
"He's thirty years old. He owns a hover round, and there is cheesy poof dust on his admission papers. Otherwise in good health, which means he's just fat and lazy. Probably the only time he stands up is to piss. Lack of exercise, plus low iron levels from an unhealthy diet equals dizziness, and, ta-da, loss of color vision when you stand up. "
Foreman and Cameron looked at each other.
"Run some type of test if it makes you feel better. And two sugars, no cream. I hate cream." He started to erase the whiteboard and paused as he came to 'sore throat'. "Oh, and give him some cough drops." House ushered the two doctors out and shut the door firmly behind him, he turned around to see Wilson smiling at him. "What?" He growled defensively.
"Differential diagnosis for sore throat? So not only does Cuddy make him come in when he's sick, but you give him pointless busy work. That's not very nice."
House carefully selected a marker and began writing on the whiteboard again. "He's getting paid. And as soon as we leave he's going to slack off and take a nap. " House turned the board so that Wilson could see his handiwork. A large arrow pointed towards the computer, below it was the admonition: "Sleeping Wombat. Do not disturb."
"Even I'm not mean enough to make him work when he's sick." House defended himself.
"No." Wilson agreed. "But you are mean enough to blackmail him with the fact that he's been sleeping on the job."
House shrugged, limping out the door. "That's just a bonus."
House yawned and looked at his watch. It didn't help much, it had stopped working a few weeks ago, but it made him look productive, and gave him something to do. The hands, conveniently, were stuck on 6:55. Close enough.
His two remaining ducklings and Wilson were sitting around the conference table, working on a crossword. Chase had long since given up any pretense of working and was stretched out on the floor in a patch of sunlight, a bottle of water by his hand. He would wake up occasionally, but only to follow the light across the floor.
House hit the table with his cane to get their attention. "All in favor of getting the hell out of Dodge?" Four hands rose, including House's own.
"All opposed?" The group looked at Chase expectantly. He continued to sleep.
"The ayes have it. Who wants to give Blondie over there true love's first kiss? Cameron? No? Foreman?" House turned to see two empty chairs and a smirking Wilson.
"They left as soon as you stopped watching."
"ahh." House levered himself up and limped over to the supine intensivist. He poked him in the stomach with his cane.
The blonde shot up and House felt a hot sting against his head, as his cane was wrenched away and used against him. He heard Wilson snickering behind him. He snatched his cane back and glared at Chase, who didn't look very apologetic.
"My your feisty after your nap. Come on it's bedtime. You don't want to sleep on the floor all night do you?"
Chasse slowly got to his feet, looking around for his bag. "That sounds…insanely comfortable at the moment." He was so intent on his search that he didn't notice Wilson's hand sneaking toward his forehead.
Wilson frowned. "Do you want me to check you out before you leave?"
House replaced Wilson's hand with his own. "Watch it, he's just trying to get in your pants. He used the same line on me." House's joking was at odds with the frown on his own face.
"You're running a fever." He handed Chase the bag that was sitting by the blond's feet.
"I'm sick. Of course I'm running a fever. " Chase batted House's hand away from his forehead, and took his bag. "All I want to do is go home and go to bed." He made his way to the elevator, with the two older doctors shadowing his steps.
"Are you sure? " Wilson asked
"I'm a doctor. Of course I'm sure." Chase snapped. He opened his eyes and sighed at the worry in the other man's eyes. He softened his tone. "I could use a ride home though." He offered, hoping to appease Wilson.
'Besides' he thought as the trio stepped into the elevator, 'it would be easier to convince Cuddy to let him play hooky tomorrow if his car was still at the hospital. Ten to one she still felt guilty after finding out he wasn't faking.
House's voice interrupted his musings. "Don't think this means you get to play the sick card again tomorrow."
Chase groaned and leaned back against the wood paneled wall.
"Dammit!" House yelled, as he picked himself up off the floor. The elevator had lurched to a sudden stop, the lights flickering ominously. Wilson offered him a hand up, already pulling out his cell phone. House watched in amusement as he waved it around, trying to pick up a signal.
"Try the top left corner," Chase suggested, shrugging as the two doctors turned to look at him. "I've gotten stuck in here before." He was still sitting on the floor where he fell, though he had managed to make himself comfortable, his back resting against the wall. House was slightly disturbed by the fact that it looked like the blond was settling in for a long wait.
House slumped beside Chase as Wilson got a line through to Cuddy's office and tried to explain their situation.
"So…" House said after a minute, fidgeting as boredom set in.
"So…" Chase countered.
"You wanna have sex?"
Chase blinked. "That has to be the most random proposition I've heard lately."
House persisted. "You didn't answer the question."
"No. House. I do not want to have sex with you."
"Aww come on. We don't have anything else to do."
"Count the ceiling tiles."
"34. Did that already."
"What do you think made me so horny?"
Chase favored his supervisor with a disgusted glance.
"Have sex with Wilson then!" He snapped.
House's eyes lit up. "Wilson!" He yelled across the small space, pitching his voice to be heard over the staticcy cell phone connection. "Chase wants to watch us have sex!"
Chase's face turned bright red and ducked his head. Wilson merely rolled his eyes, turning his back on his juvenile coworker.
House whipped his head around as he heard Chase call his name. It wasn't the usual offended squeak, or angry curse he heard in the Australian's voice. It sounded frightened,
Chase's face was no longer red from embarrassment. He was a shockingly pale; His eyes were wide and filled with pain.
"I – Something-" Chase tried to speak, reaching out grab House's shirtsleeve.
"I don't feel too good, House," He gasped, eyes squeezing shut, arms going around his stomach. He gasped again, the sound somewhere between a moan of pain and a frustrated scream. He doubled over, forehead nearly touching the ground.
House caught his shoulder and forced him to lean back against the wall. Chase was already limp against his hand. "Wilson!" He snapped, his fingers pressing against the pulse point on his neck. He looked up to see his friend already kneeling on the other side of Chase, his fingers going to the other man's wrist. In the corner, where Wilson had dropped it, the cell phone whined steadily, letting the doctors know their connection to the outside world had been cut off. Beneath their fingers, Chase's pulse raced.
House spun the small Swiss army knife between his fingers, refusing to look at his young intensivist. Chase was lying on the floor of the elevator, unconscious, with a dangerously high fever. His sweatshirt was cut open, the dress shirt beneath unbuttoned. The bare chest was hitching with each breath, and the stomach muscles twitched and jumped. Wilson was rubbing his arm, trying to pass on some tiny bit of comfort on to him while they waited for the vicoden to kick in. The vicodin was so that they could feel a little less guilty for gutting him like a fish with a small Swiss army knife.
It was his appendix. Swollen and infected, ticking away in his stomach, ready to burst. If it hadn't been for the fact that the elevator was about to become an impromptu operating theater, House would have gladly thrown up.
House studied the small pile of cloth strips instead. That had been his favorite dress shirt. Wilson's own shirt was in the pile, but House didn't feel any emotional attachment to Wilson's clothing.
House could feel the vicodin he had popped starting to work it's magic and sighed. They couldn't put it off any longer. He moved up towards Chase's head, taking Wilson's place and handing him the knife.
"You're going to have to hold him down." Wilson said. "At least for a few minutes."
House nodded. They both knew their roles, but it made Wilson feel better to talk it out. He was the same way with his patients. Explaining every step.
"Once he settles down you'll have to help me, Keep some of this blood out of the way." Wilson continued, laying out some thread scavenged from their shirts. "We'll section off his appendix and get it out of there. Then it's just like dealing with a stab wound." He tried to smile reassuringly, and failed.
House snorted and shifted his weight, pinning down the unconscious man's shoulders. "Sounds fun. You know the nurses are never going to forgive you if you give him a scar." He tried to joke as the smell of blood and a pained cry filled the small space.
House ignored the question coming from the Australian doctor. He had tried answering him earlier, but it had just been the fever talking. The only word either doctor could get out of the young intensivist was House's name. House was impressed though by the fact that the kid could even form words after what they had put him through.
"Why does he keep doing that?" He asked, raising one bloody hand to quickly swipe at the sweat trickling down in his eyes, before going back to pressing down on the three inch long slice in Chase's abdomen.
"I don't know. Maybe he's just trying to make sure you're still here." Wilson was once again at Chase's head, carding his own bloody hands through the blond hair, now streaked with red.
"And miss this party?" House sounded incredulous. Wilson snickered.
"How's he doing? The bleeding stopped yet?" They had managed to get the appendix out in time, barely. It had burst in Wilson's hands as he was dropping it in the small plastic trashcan. Since they couldn't risk introducing the infection back into an open wound Wilson had been relegated to comforter, while House took care of Chase.
"Almost. His fever?"
"It's stopped climbing. That's good."
How much longer?"
Wilson checked his watch. "About an hour." He paused. "We did the right thing House."
"Of course we did." House agreed. "But I'm looking forward to never having to do this again."
"Cuddy will be glad to hear that. She's going to make you stop using the elevator if you keep operating on people in here." Wilson was trying to lighten the mood
"Oh come on, that was a tick! Not exactly an appendectomy."
"Yeah, but you're still going to have a lot of explaining to do."
"Me! You're the one that cut him open!"
"You're the one who diagnosed him." Wilson shot back.
A weak Australian accent interrupted their argument. "It was my bloody appendix. Blame me."
The two doctors focused in on Chase, blinking in amazement.
"How are you even conscious?" House asked, bewildered.
"Bad luck?" Chase's eyes were glassy, and tight lines of pain radiated from the corners of his mouth. "Tell Cuddy it's my fault, she won't get mad at the sick one."
House snickered. "How're you feeling?" He read Chase's expression "Okay fair enough. That was a stupid question. Just hang on for a little awhile and we'll have you all tucked away upstairs with some pretty nurses."
Chase nodded and closed his eyes again, falling in to a more natural sleep. Wilson went back to carding his hand through the blond hair.
After a moment, Wilson looked up, meeting House's eye. "He does have a point you know. Cuddy can never stay mad at him"
House considered. "So we let the wombat take the fall? Sounds like a plan to me."
As if on cue, the elevator jerked beneath them, before resuming it's smooth descent to the bottom floor, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
"Fine." House decided. "But you're explaining it."
Chase screwed up his face and turned his head, trying to escape the bright lights. When that failed, he turned instead to the two voices beside his bed. He blinked, and the two men came into focus. Wilson perching on the windowsill, and House sprawled in a chair, feet propped up on his hospital bed, reading a magazine.
"Drugs?" He asked, wincing at the roughness in his voice, "Please?"
House swung his cane and Chase tried to duck, before realizing the other man was using it to tap the IV drip hanging over his bed. He didn't look up from his reading. Chase followed the plastic tube down to where it disappeared under a small bandage on his arm. "Oh."
He opened his eyes and Wilson was standing over him. "You okay?"
Chase thought about the question deeply. "Mmph." He mumbled, his eyes sliding closed again.
House put down his magazine and looked over at the tired blond. "Sounds like he's enjoying the painkillers."
"Sounds like it."
"Mm-hmm" Chase agreed, burrowing back in to the surprisingly comfortable bed.
"Aren't you going to at least say thank you?" House badgered.
House went back to his magazine, and Wilson went back to staring out the small window as Chase went back to sleep.
The edge of the magazine twitched.
Wilson smirked at his reflection. "I didn't say a word."
"You were thinking it."
Wilson sighed and stood up, walking over to the bed. He pulled the blankets up, tugging as House's feet pinned them down, and covered Chase's shoulders. He brushed a lock of blond hair behind the intensivist's ear.
"He's not like me." House continued, staring at the pages in front of him.
"He's a good kid." Wilson patted House's shoulder as he left, dimming the lights. "Call me if you need me."
House waved him off, and then turned his attention back to Chase, considering what Wilson had said.