Disclaimer: I do not own House... or General Hospital... and no wombats were injured in the making of this fic.
Chase was walking down the hall on the second floor of PPTH. He had a file opened that he was skimming over as he navigated his way through a cluster of people near the nurse's station.
He was surprised when two children in wheelchairs raced by and bumped him in their hurry. His balance was thrown and he dropped the file as his arms flew backwards, searching for a wall to grab onto. Air was the only thing he found and as he fell backwards, he realized he had been standing next to the wide open public staircase that lead down to the first floor.
As he fell, he didn't feel any pain. And when he reached the square landing it was the end of his consciousness.
House was waiting for the elevator on the second floor when he found himself shoved against the wall by some bratty kids engaged in a wheelchair race. He would have given them the bird, but he spotted his youngest and blondest duckling over by the stairs, struggling to stay upright. Then he disappeared and House realized what had just happened in less then one second.
"Shit!" House hobbled over to the stairs with a speed that beat most people with full use of both legs. He caught a glimpse of the blonde heap on the landing in the middle of the first and second floor. He managed to get down to where Chase was and wondered how nobody else saw Chase fall.
"Can I get some help here?" He yelled as he checked over Chase. There was a gash on his head and the blood was already starting a small pool on the ground. House bunched a corner of his t-shirt and pressed it against the origin of the offending red liquid. After was seemed like forever, some other people finally came to help. Time went back to it's original speed for House and before he realized it, he was left alone as Chase was taken away on a gurney.
He groped for his cane and the wall and pulled himself back up to a standing position. He smoothed and dusted himself off and got to the task of pulling himself back up the stairs. He needed to go back to his office to change his shirt. Then he would meet up with Wilson for lunch and convince himself that he had nothing to worry about... wombats have amazing healing powers. By the time lunch was over, Chase should be settled into a room and House could take over as his doctor.
People were arguing... Chase could hear the voices, but he didn't recognize them. His head hurt like Hell and he just wanted to fall back into the dark dreamland. But the voices wouldn't let him. They were too loud and so he let himself return to the land of consciousness and he gritted his teeth against the throbbing in his head.
A yelp, a slap, a gunshot, a scream... and then the recognizable voice of Gregory House, "Stupid woman! Carly and Sonny belong together! Man, and I thought the Luke and Laura wedding was exciting..." Chase groaned, recognizing the names as characters from House's favorite show, General Hospital.
"Oh Hey! You're awake. Now open your eyes." He heard the clattering as House fumbled for his cane and stood from where he must have been sitting.
"Nope. Head hurts." Chase mumbled.
"No kidding, Sherlock. You fell down the stairs. Now open your eyes so I can check you out and make sure you don't have a concussion or amnesia or... something else."
Chase reluctantly opened his eyes and was relieved to find the lights dimmed a little. The relief was short lived when his boss shined a penlight right into his eyes.
"What the- are you trying to blind me, House? That hurts." Chase batted at House's hands.
"Pupils are fine..." House ignored him. "Sit up... Now follow my finger with your eyes... good. Now rub your tummy and pat your head... or maybe not." House tilted his head when Chase didn't seem amused. "OK... well it doesn't as if you'll die yet. Now tell me your name."
"Robert Rowan Chase."
"Who Am I?"
"Gregory House... uh, I don't know your middle name."
"And you never will. What day of the week is it?"
"Thursday. Can we be done?"
"No. How do you feel?
He was dizzy and wanted to lay down and his head was pounding, but he wanted to just say he was fine so that House would leave him alone.
"Dizzy... and my head hurts." He frowned as he heard the words leave his mouth. It wasn't what he'd wanted to say. House grabbed his bottle from his pocket and shoot out a couple of pills. He dropped on in Chase's lap and popped the other one in his mouth.
"I don't want your vicodin." Chase said. House ignored him and poked Chase's chest with his cane.
"Ow! Dammit, that hurt!" Chase yelled and then winced at the loudness of his own voice.
"Now do you want the vicodin?"
"Sure, but I don't want to end up like you." He cringed at his uncontrollable mouth again. He looked down from House's gaze swallowed the pill quietly.
"Why not? I'm the coolest doctor in the hospital... ask anybody." House ground out with his raspy sarcasm.
"Your vicodin habit scares me... more what you might do to yourself eventually that scares me."
Chase's brutal honesty startled the older man. He knew his habits annoyed his little ducklings but nobody had ever expressed caring like that except for Wilson.
"Not how this conversation is supposed to go. You're supposed to have a smart little comeback and then I outwit you yet again." House forced some humor back into the room. "So... last question. Don't I look totally sexy in this shirt?" He joked.
"Yeah, but I like the red one better. It's tighter." Chase answered. House frowned and paused, not expecting that answer... or any answer.
As soon as Chase realized what he'd said, he clapped his hands over his mouth in surprise. Seeing Chase's shock from his own words and connecting it with the blunt honesty from him during the vicodin incident, House decided he might have reason to be a little concerned.
"Maybe I should schedule you for an MRI..." House slowly said. Chase jerked his head back towards the man, startled.
"Hmm... well, you're dizzy for one. And... when did you lose your virginity?" House threw out the first embarrassing question he could think of.
"My twenty-fourth birthday." Chase answered and cursed softly after the words tumbled out.
"You have perfect looks and perfect hair and it still took you until twenty four?" House laughed, despite the glare from Chase burning into him. "Anyway... the point is that you answered... and truthfully."
"Fine. Schedule the MRI." Chase sighed. He lay back down on the bed, sleepiness coming over him like a wave that he suspected was a combination of the head trauma and the vicodin. Without saying anything more to House, he turned on his side and let himself fall back to sleep.
The next thing he knew, his bed was being wheeled down the hallway. He must have been in a deep sleep for him not to have been disturbed earlier from being moved. He looked up and saw Allison Cameron walking beside the bed and looking at his file. He cleared his throat to get her attention.
"Good, you're awake."
"Where'm I going?" He asked, trying to wipe the last remnants of sleep from his brain.
"It's MRI time. Is it true what House said? You're experiencing a side effect from the knock to your head that's making it impossible for you to answer questions with anything but the truth?"
"Apparently." Chase shrugged awkwardly, lying flat on his bad. Cameron smiled down at him sweetly... too sweetly, Chase realized.
"He's awake so I can take him alone from here." Cameron said to the nurses who were pushing the gurney. They nodded and left her to push it herself.
"So Chase... Robert. You're such a closed off person and you rarely let anybody know what you think of them. This is a perfect opportunity to pick your brain."
"Please don't do this," Chase groaned, wishing the nurses were still around. Maybe he could just escape...
"Why do you think House continues to deny he has any feelings for me?" She asked, causing Chase to roll his eyes. Figures she would ask something like that.
"Because he doesn't have feelings for you."
"What? What do you mean?"
"I mean that you are obsessed with House and you cling to the idea of House falling for you but it will never happen. Sometimes 'no' really does mean 'no'. If House were a woman and you were a man, sexual harassment charges would have been brought up against you ages ago."
"You really think that?"
"Obviously since I can't seem to lie right now. I really didn't want to be the one to tell you all that, Cameron."
"Well, you should have thought before you spoke." Cameron glared, pushing the gurney roughly, almost trying to run over every bump and obstacle in the way. They reached the MRI machine and Cameron rammed the bed into the wall.
"Oops." She shrugged. "You know the drill." She left Chase to move himself from the bed to the MRI machine while she exited to the other side of the protective window.
As he climbed from the bed, Chase winced in pain. Now that he was moving, he was becoming aware of all the other parts of his body that hit the stairs on his way down. He hopped onto the table of the machine, holding his side and hissing with pain. He almost hoped he fell and hurt himself again just so Cameron would feel guilty.
"So you have swelling here and it seems to be inhibiting your ability to stop yourself from answering questions honestly. I'm surprised that it's not just keeping you from censoring all of your speech. I've never seen anything so specific." Foreman stood next to the lit up scans and pointed out to Chase what he was talking about. They were in House's office. Chase was sitting in House's chair, slightly annoyed with Foreman but happy to be back in his own clothes and out of a bed.
"Yeah, I can see. I haven't lost any of my medical training, Foreman. I still know what swelling in the brain looks like on an MRI."
"I know... but I'm the neurologist and you are a patient right now." Foreman put his hands on his hips and sighed at the young intensivist who was now glaring at him.
"Now, now... ducklings don't fight. And ducklings don't get the comfy chair either... even if they are sore and hopped up on pain meds." House entered his office, looked pointedly at Chase, and waved his cane at him until he vacated said chair.
"I was just explaining to i the patient /i here what his MRI said about his injury." Foreman smirked. Chase rolled his eyes and sank into the hard plastic seat in front of House's desk.
"Ahh, the patient. And how is our patient feeling, Chase?" House flopped into his seat and rested his chin on his propped up cane.
"Better. Achy and a small headache." Chase shrugged.
"Now for the fun..." House clapped his hands together with excitement. His eyes shined with mischief. "You two have been working here together for quite and while now. I'd like to know how my little minions get along with each other. So... chase, how do you really feel about Foreman? I really want to know."
"He's a stuck up, self-righteous prick who thinks he's better than everyone because he grew up poor and still managed to make something of himself. Despite that, he's still the only neurologist I'd trust with my brain." Chase blurted, quieting down to a whisper at the end.
"I'm sure that you were expecting me to be surprised by that." Foreman looked at House, unfazed.He and chase had always been at odds about the other's childhood and have complained about each other's short-comings enough to one another.
House pouted pathetically when Chase's answer didn't get any real reaction out of Foreman, but saw that Chase wasn't as comfortable about being the one who said it. House furrowed his brow with curiosity and looked from Chase to Foreman.
"No witty comeback? C'mon bro, ya gonna take that from the skinny white kid from the upperclass?"
"Sorry, House. Unlike Chase, I have the ability to actually think before I speak. But I don't think he used that ability much before the knock on the head anyway. Probably got away with saying whatever he wanted as a kid." What started out as a playful joke turned into a jab at Chase's childhood once again.
"You don't know anything about how I grew up." Chase argued.
House suddenly realized this wasn't the best idea he'd had. If Foreman engaged a temporarily brain damaged Chase in an argument bout his past, Chase might let things out that he definitely wanted to keep hidden. House knew about a lot of these things, but he doubted Chase would ever want the other fellows to know.
"Personally, I don't think your childhood would be interesting enough to bother with. I'm fine with not knowing." House cut off Foreman as he was about to speak, trying to deflect him.
"Oh, but I do wanna know." Foreman continued, "What was it like to grow up with all that money?"
"Quite lonely. Money doesn't make good company." Chase squirmed under the scrutiny. He looked to House, "May I leave?"
"Just don't leave the hospital. You are under observation until that swelling goes down and the side effects are gone. You'll be sleeping in the room you were in before." House waved him off. The boy scrambled out as fast as he could, looking much the part of the scared little wombat.
"Alright... new rule. No more questions about Chase's childhood." House said as soon as Chase was gone. He turned to his computer and pulled up a game.
"I said so."
"Since when do you care? You are the one always digging into everyone's past."
"Yeah, but I would like the little guy to stay at this hospital after his fellowship is over and I know he won't do that if his whole life is known by everyone here. Besides... you don't know enough about him to know when you should just shut your mouth and let it go." House never looked away from his computer and never saw the surprised look he got from Foreman.
"Alright, fine... no more digging."
"Good. Now leave me." House waved the doctor out of his office and then spun around and turned on his television.
Chase couldn't get away from House and Foreman fast enough. This 'truth' thing was beginning to get more than just annoying. He found himself wandering into one of the secluded stairwells. He shut the fire door so that nobody saw him.
He let out a frustrated noise and punched the cement wall, instantly regretting it as the pain hit him.
"Dammit!" He hissed, cradling his newly injured hand. He was angry with himself for almost letting his most private past slip. He was so frustrated with House and Foreman and especially himself, but he couldn't pick out who he was more angry at.
He let out another sigh and a deep breath and looked at his watch. He needed a place to hide out for a while and so he found himself in the hallway again, walking through the halls. He ended up at the door of Dr. Wilson's office.
"Come in." the voice came after Chase hesitantly knocked on the door. He entered and sat down on the worn couch in the corner of the office.
"I just needed to hide out for a while." Chase told Wilson. The older doctor never looked up from his paperwork, but smiled slightly.
"And what makes you think House won't find you in here?"
"He should be getting ready to watch Laguna Beach about now. Apparently LC is a little slut for going out with Stephen... even though he and Kristen broke up weeks ago." Chase shrugged. Wilson looked up with surprise.
"Kristen and Stephen broke up? It's about time... she's cheated on him so many times."
Chase raised his eyebrows and looked at Wilson. "You watch the show?"
Both men smiled then.
"House," they simultaneously chuckled, finding it funny how they could know so much about a show they didn't even watch just by listening to one man's rants about it.
"So what's he doing now to make you avoid him?" Wilson asked.
"He's got everybody involved in grilling me. You seem to be the only normal person around here."
"Yeah. Cameron's practically a stalker, Foreman has got a crazy grudge against rich people, House is... well he's House. You're just Wilson... the only normal and sane person in the bunch."
Wilson laughed, "I think you should spread the word to the nurses. Ever since the divorce was finalized, none of them will talk to me. They seem to think House and I are together."
"You're not?" Chase asked.
"Don't believe every rumor you hear around the hospital, Chase. House may think nothing of swinging either way, but I'm still very much a straight man." Wilson corrected.
"I guess I just... all the things that House says... and especially when you were staying at his place." Chase shrugged.
"That's just House. He doesn't care what people say about him. He encourages the rumors." Wilson put his pen down and set his chin on his hands. "So how's your head? House seemed worried when we met for lunch... before you'd woken up. Said you fell down the stairs."
"According to the MRI, there is some swelling here." Chase put a hand to his head where he had a small bandage covering the gash from the fall. "And so I'm confined to the hospital until the swelling goes down and I'm not showing any lasting side effects."
"Are there any right now?"
"Yes. I can't lie when answering questions. And unusual effect, but one that House is enjoying taking advantage of." Chase smiled grimly. He could see that this interested Wilson.
"Wo- really... wow. Well, I guess that explains a little."
"Well, we've actually been having a conversation. You aren't really a talker, Chase. But I didn't realize the only reason you conversed with me was because you had no choice. Sorry if I asked anything you didn't want to answer."
"No... I mean I know I don't talk much, but it was okay. It's the most normal conversation I've had all day." Chase assured the older doctor.
Their quiet conversation was interrupted when they heard the muffled and annoyed shout of one Doctor House. Chase looked through the glass that lead to House and Wilson's connected balconies and he saw his boss exit from his office with a small tv in one hand, cane in the other, and a glare on his face obviously directed ad whoever had interrupted his tv viewing.
Chase chuckled under his breath as he watched the old man settle in a lawn chair to finish his program. He didn't catch the small, surprised gasp that came from Wilson as he watched.
"Chase, do you mind if I ask you something?"
"No... go ahead." He trusted Wilson to not exploit his temporary handicap.
"Are you gay?"
"Bisexual... dammit. Not that it's any of your business." Chase sighed and added that last part.
"I can't believe I never noticed it before. It was much easier to spot with Cameron, but you just know how to keep your emotions and personal feelings to yourself. But now you are just ogling." Wilson laughed lightly.
"I was not ogling!" Chase defended, then smiled when he realized it was the truth.
"Alright, you weren't ogling... too harsh of a word. You were... gazing appreciatively upon Doctor Gregory House. Sorry Chase... but you can't deny that look you had on your face as you sat there just now. Kinda reminded me of Cameron when she's hiding in a corner watching him."
Chase groaned and thumped his head against the wall behind the couch, "Say it isn't so!"
Unfortunately for her, Cameron had become the butt of many crush or stalker jokes amongst the men. Sometimes chase felt guilty, but he couldn't deny that it was funny. Heaven forbid if chase were to be categorized in the same way as Cameron.
"Don't worry. I don't tell anyone." Wilson confided.
"You're not going to ask what the hell I could possibly see in him?"
"Chase, I'm his best friend and he's mine. I already know what you see in him." Wilson informed him. He glanced at the clock and let out a light curse word. "I didn't realize how fast time flies. I have a patient in a few minutes."
"Alright. Thanks for letting me hide out for a while." Chase bowed out with a nod. He left the office and closed the door with a soft click. He turned to head towards the vending machines an bumped into Dr. Cuddy, knocking a folder out of her hands.
"Sorry about that." Chase apologized, bending to retrieve the fallen folder.
"It's alright. Thank you." she took the folder from his hands. "How's your head? You took quite a knock from those stairs. House says you're staying overnight under observation."
"Just a mild headache now, but the MRI showed swelling." Chase smiled politely.
"Have you eaten yet? You look a little pale."
"No. I was just on my way to the vending machine to grab something. Don't want to eat the stuff they give to patients here... might get sick." Chase tried to joke.
"The vending machine? Candy isn't a substitute for a meal. When's the last time you ate any real food?"
"Uhh... I don't quite remember. I'd been working pretty chaotic shifts the last few days." He shrugged.
"Chase, you are a doctor. You should know better. C'mon, I haven't had dinner yet. We'll go to the cafeteria and get some decent food... or as close as you can get to it around here." Dr. Cuddy said. Chase nodded reluctantly. If anything, he felt this would be awkward as he'd never actually spent any time getting to know his superior in or outside of work.
The elevator ride and walk down the halls was almost completely silent and no real conversation started until the two were in line and grabbing food items to put on their trays.
"Have you thought about what you'll want to do after your fellowship is up?" Cuddy asked, reaching for a milk.
"Yes. I have two offers from other hospitals for positions in the ICU... one in Australia where I'm sure they only want me for my father's name. The other one is in the Midwest. Then, of course, there's here... and Hicks will be retiring soon. I've been told I'm bound to move up in rank quickly." Chase said. They paid for their food and moved to a small table by a window.
"Have you been leaning towards any offer more?" she was curious, wanting to know if the young intensivist would be staying.
"I think I want to stay in intensive care here... but there is on that I've been waiting to hear about. If the offer doesn't come my way then I think I'll quite enjoy working ICU here."
"Can I ask about the one you're waiting to hear about? Maybe I could put in a good word for you."
"No, I'd rather you didn't ask... I don't really want anyone to know about it if it doesn't come through. Besides, I don't think you could get a good word in anyway." Chase was blunt, knowing if she asked, he'd have to tell her. He was really waiting to see if House would ask him to stay on as a permanent member of the diagnostics department. It didn't offer the perks of being able to move up to head of any department, but he really enjoyed the work...and as horrible as House could be, Chase really enjoyed working with him.
"Oh." Cuddy was taken aback but obeyed his request and didn't ask. Conversation after that was stilted and slow until chase noticed a flash of mild annoyance in her eyes. He followed her gaze and turned to see House standing behind him.
"Mind if I join you? Thought not." He dropped his tray on the table without waiting for an answer and dragged an empty chair over to the table. Then, he proceeded to move around the lettuce on his place, revealing a steak underneath.
"So did you tell Cuddy about the side effect of the swelling yet?" He asked lightly, digging into his food with great enthusiasm.
"No." chase practically growled.
"Side effects? Chase, what side effects?"
"Inability to lie or even stop myself from answering questions with honesty. It's really quite annoying... especially when certain people take advantage of it."
"That's unusual. I've never seen that before. It's very interesting."
"You need to see it in person."
"Chase, what do you think of Dr. Cuddy?"
"She's a great hospital administrator, but she's spend so much time behind a desk that I think her hands on medical skills have suffered slightly." Chase signed as he said this, wanting to apologize and take it all back.
"Hmm... and what about Lisa as a person?" House wondered.
"I don't know. She's never let most of us get to know her, but she's a busy person with a hospital to tend to and you to deal with."
Cuddy smirked at that last part, letting it soften the blow about her medical skills. She'd discussed all that with Stacy back when she was there and had come to terms with the fact that she had moved so fast to the top that she never took the time to become the best doctor she could be.
"May I please leave?" chase asked, trying desperately not to sound like he was whining.
"Go ahead, Dr. Chase." Cuddy excused the poor guy and he hurried away, not bothering to bus his tray.
"Why do you torture him like that?" Cuddy asked the man who was munching on potato chips now.
"I need to know how much crap he'll take from one person before he pushes back."
"Why? Why can't you just leave him be so he doesn't have to push?"
"Well, then he'd never learn to push back and people will just walk all over him for the rest of his life. I won't let him let them do that."
"You almost sound like you care. What if someone heard you?"
"Well my reputation would be ruined. So keep it quiet. Now, I have a wombat to catch." House finished his chips and stole the unopened bag from Cuddy's tray before he left the table and cafeteria.
Robert Chase had made his way up to the roof of the hospital, hoping to find some peace and quiet away from all the questions.
His head was beginning to throb again and he'd bet it was from raised blood pressure caused by stress. And the source of his stress was probably going to show up at any minute.
He was startled even though he'd been expecting the other man. He turned slightly to face House.
"You forgot to bus your tray."
"Yes well... I'm sure you did too."
"No. I left mine on purpose." house limped toward the ledge where Chase was leaning against and let the wall take most of his wait. He held out a bag of potato chips toward the young man. Chase waved his hand in a 'no thank you' gesture and turned back to the stars that he'd been looking at.
"Why do you let people walk all over you?" House asked, startling Chase with the unexpected question.
"I don't. I just pick my fights differently than you. I've learned to stay quiet if it's not important enough."
"What makes it important enough?"
"If someone's life hangs in the balance... if it's medical... my medical opinion. Personal things often aren't worth it to argue over."
"So you're psychological well-being isn't as important as your medical opinion? Are you saying your emotional health won't effect your medical skills?"
"I didn't say that. Of course it does... we saw that when my father died."
"Yeah... I guess we did." House paused, an awkward silence building up between them. "So... we've heard your opinions on everyone else... but not me yet... unless you count my abounding sexiness. So... what do you think of me?"
"I think you are an enigma. I think you inspire love/hate relationships with anyone you come in contact with. There is no such thing as just liking Gregory House. You either love him or you hate him."
"And which of those are you? Do you love me or hate me?"
"I love you and I hate you."
"Why do you hate me?"
"Well, you are the embodiment of the phrase 'misery loves company'. You seem to want everyone to be just as miserable as you are But worse than that... you never let yourself not be miserable."
House was surprised. He'd expected some answer about what an ass he was.
"I'm not miserable."
"You could've fooled me."
"I don't want everyone else to be miserable. I just don't think I should be the source of their joy. People can find joy from things and people they love. And I wasn't just trying to make you miserable today... I just wanted to see how far you could be pushed before you would finally push back. To see how much it would take before I crossed the line and you left for good." House stumbled over his explanation before bringing up his next question. "So... why do you love me?"
There was almost a shyness in House's voice and he avoided Chase's eyes as he asked. Such a far cry from the usual assuredness and confidence that he carried about him.
"You are yourself an no one will change that. You do care about people... you're just pickier about who you choose to care about. You're not totally self-sacrificing and you don't spend your life worrying about the greater good... only about what benefits you and the ones that you love. People are lucky if they are counted as one of the lucky few because you'll do what has to be done to meet their needs. There are many reasons I love you... those are just a few to name."
"Alright... so... what do you want to do about this?" House asked.
"I don't know. I guess it depends on you and your feelings."
"Well, I didn't hire you because of your dad, you know." House said. Chase stared at him with a raised eyebrow, wondering what that had to do with anything.
"I hired you for your looks." House finished, bringing a small laugh from Chase. "Yeah, I told Wilson from the beginning... I said, 'Someday I'll hit that'." House smiled, speaking what would be the closest thing to any admission of feelings... for now at least.
"Do you want to give us a chance together?" Chase asked.
"Well, if you insist." House rolled his eyes and grinned.
"You know, you're being glib really isn't making this any easier." Chase shifted from one foot to the other with nervousness.
"Do you need it to be easier? We're together now and the hard part is over."
Chase wasn't convinced and House could see that.
"Here, I'll prove it." House leaned over and kissed Chase lightly in the cheek, feeling it heat up when Chase began to blush. It was quick and the softness was gone from House's demeanor and Chase was once again looking at the sarcastic man he saw each day.
"Are you doing to stay as a permanent part of the diagnostics department?" He asked Chase.
"I didn't think you'd... if you're offering, then yes. I really do love this job."
"Good... I hate doing interviews." House nodded. "Now come on. It's bedtime for you. Tomorrow we'll do another scan and see if we can't get you out of this hospital. Then you'll come to my place and I'll invite Wilson over for dinner... his cooking of course."
Chase watched, mouth hanging slightly open, as House limped back to the doorway as if nothing happened. This was already shaping up to be a strange relationship that he knew he'd cherish.
"Aren't you coming, my little wombat?"