A/N: I have been writing this on and off since about June, but didn't want to post until I had it finished, and now, finally, I think it pretty much is, save for some tweaking.
This revolves around a similar theme to my other House fic, a one shot, thought the two are not directly related. I don't quite know what has me so hooked on this theme, but I just sort of see this as one explanation of Chase's character. So let's just see where this goes. It won't be the same place as the last one… I sort of cut off the avenues there…
Warning: themes of suicide.
Disclaimer: I don't even own A House, let alone THE House, so any attempts to sue will prove tedious and fruitless.
Chase sat on the edge of the tub, dressed in a two day old t-shirt and a pair of sweat pants, his posture sagging, but his face set and blank. The bathroom was white, cold, sterile, the only light coming from the strip overhead. It was fitting. The pills rattled in the bottle. Chase was a doctor. He knew this wouldn't be the easiest way, the fastest way, the least painless way, but again, it seemed fitting. Chase had never really been one to take the easy way out. Perhaps his colleagues would disagree, but they only saw the outside of Chase, the carefully constructed front that was designed to make sure that no one could ever see the real Chase. What they saw might sometimes be cold, it certainly wasn't the most approachable of fronts, but what was beneath the surface was too ugly for anyone ever to see. It was hidden inside of him, his own twisted mind and his own twisted soul, coated by the sweet on the eye but icy to the touch exterior that everyone knew as Chase.
So no, he wasn't going to take the easiest way out. Maybe it was partly a result of all those years in which Catholic values has been drummed into his head. Sin, penance, suffering. Chase was no longer really sure what he believed in. He had come to the conclusion that whatever chance he had had for redemption had died long ago, so what was really the point in questioning it any further? Well, at least that was what he told himself. A part of him had still hoped for redemption, had still clung to faith, but recently, he had stopped allowing himself this comfort. He didn't deserve it.
But still, somewhere in his head, the morals persisted. Ironically, even though he was about to commit the most irredeemable of all sins, he still wanted to do it the Catholic way, if such a thing were possible. He would make sure he suffered for this final sin. It wouldn't be easy for him.
Chase slumped backwards into the bath tub and flipped the cap. It didn't feel quite real, but then, nothing in his life had felt truly real in a long time. He had once told House that it hurt less just not to care, but what he hadn't admitted at the time, not even to himself, was that it wasn't just his father that he was referring to, but his whole life. Over the years he had cut himself off from everything that was real and everything that was human. When, exactly, the process had begun, he couldn't identify. Did he have a natural predisposition, or had life warped him entirely? He couldn't be sure. It wouldn't surprise him if it was genetic. Neither of his parents had been the life and soul of the party. It didn't really matter; the end result was the same. Dead inside. A slight smile quirked the corner of his lips as he tipped the first pill into his palm, small white, rounded, sugar coated, innocent to the eye. A little bit like him, really. He contemplated it for a few moments, wondering if he would feel anything, anything at all. The faintest hint of remorse, sadness, repentance, anything that might convince him that he was still human enough to feel, that maybe this wasn't worth it. It didn't come. In a swift movement, he brought his hand to his mouth and gulped down the pill, before tipping a second pill into his hand.
Did House, he wondered, have the same destructive desires when he swallowed down his Vicodin? The Vicodin helped to make the pain go away. Well, Chase pondered, that was what he was aiming for too. Was House trying to numb the emotional pain just as much as the physical pain?
Chase blinked and swallowed the second pill, shaking the thoughts away. He had never really contemplated House's use of drugs before. He had observed on the surface, from a detached point of view, but had never judged, or tried to enter the psyche. House could live his life the way he wanted. Maybe part of the reason he had gone into medicine (there were so many, and so much could be read in to the decision, that it would be impossible to fully evaluate them all in the time that he had left), was a desire to fix the lives of others. House believed that was Cameron's objective, but at one time, he had had a bit of that in him too. The difference between him and Cameron was that he had long ago drowned out such naïve notions, whereas she still thrived on them. Maybe one day that would break her as it had broken him. Or maybe one day she would fix herself, or someone would do it for her, and she would no longer need to fix others.
Another pill ingested. He knew it would be a little while before he started to feel the effects. He shook a few more out into the palm of his hand and slammed them against his mouth, tilting his head back slightly to allow them to slide down his throat. He cringed slightly as they scratched against his oesophagus, eyes watering slightly as he fought the urge to cough. Chase idly wondered how House managed to avoid gastritis considering the number of pills he choked down dry. How many of them were accompanied by a glass of whisky, he asked himself as he tipped out more pills into the palm of his hand. The pills rattled feebly in comparison to the satisfying jangle that the bottle had made when full. But he wanted to be sure that he got the job done properly. This wasn't a plea for attention, conscious or otherwise. He hadn't wanted to be rescued in a long while, and he had realised even before that that could never happen. He had left seminary after he had realised that. Chase was perfectly secure with his intentions, and with what he had become. It was this that had led him to this action.
He shook the last of the pills into his hand. No turning back. He swallowed. Just an empty bottle of pills now. They should really learn not to give depressed patients large quantities of potentially lethal drugs, Chase reflected. Of course, sometimes they didn't. Sometimes they rationed them carefully so that the patient never had control of more than two or three at a time. But he was a doctor. And it was easy to fool the psychiatrist (young, inexperienced, still believed she could solve the problems of anyone through books and lengthy chats about childhood) into believing that he was a little down in the dumps, but still rational, still capable of feeling, that he wanted to help himself. He had only gone to her for the prescription. She had been carefully selected for that purpose. She didn't know his past. Most of it wasn't in a file anyway, and what first his father, and then he himself, hadn't been able to keep from the records, was firmly shut away in Australia for the time being. She had seen a doctor (whom she had felt more than a little attracted to), a man under stress, who was dealing with his problems legitimately and responsibly, unlike the hundreds of doctors who gradually destroyed their professional lives through reckless addictions.
More irony, Chase thought, dragging himself from the bath tub. Had he ever truly believed that America would be a new start, or had it always been the beginning of the end? Staggering slightly as he made his way into his bedroom, Chase realised with a combination of relief and satisfaction that the pills were starting to take effect. Dropping onto his bed, the rows of CDs that neatly filled the glass cabinet beside his bed caught his attention, and he had a urge to drown out the suddenly oppressive silence. His eyes were drawn towards a CD of Roman Catholic Church music, recorded at St Patrick's cathedral in Melbourne. In fact, his own voice was recorded on this CD, made at a time when his pure treble voice had made him one of the strongest assets of a nationally renowned choir. It was one of the few relics of his past that had made it to America with him. Flipping the CD over, Chase recalled the music as he read over the track listings. The Allegri Miserere caught his eye, a piece in which his own voice could be heard clearly singing out a piercing second octave C. In the times when he had been entrenched in the Church, that piece had always brought out the emotion in him, had always made him aware of the beauty of human life and emotion, even in sadness.
With an almost impulsive movement, he snapped the disk out of the case and inserted it into the player, forwarding through until he reached the Miserere before allowing himself to fall backwards awkwardly onto the bed, partly as a result of the pills, partly because he had already given up on life, so what was the point in elegant movements?
The sorrowful strains of music filled the room, and still Chase's eyes were empty as he stared up at the ceiling. If anything, the music aided the transition into the trance like state of emptiness. Only the encroaching effects of the drugs as he felt his slightly elevated heartbeat kept him from catatonia as the high notes soared through the air. Once he had rejoiced in the sad beauty of the peace; now, if anything, it was only slightly haunting, for a moment allowing vague recollections of a time when he had still had hope, life within him, the memories of which were so distant that he couldn't quite identify the feelings. It was miraculous that it stirred anything really. He hadn't thought he had anything left within him; the memories came as something of a surprise. He thought he had banished them long ago, forcing them into the furthest recesses of his mind until they were pushed out all together. Evidently his conscious efforts had not been as successful as he had believed.
He forced himself away from such thoughts. He didn't want anything to cloud his objectives, and more than that, he didn't want to stir any of the other memories, buried even deeper. This was only the beginning. With the pure tones still ringing out from the speakers, Chase allowed his mind to drift away from the present, until his thoughts became blurred and he fell into a drugged sleep.
He didn't know how much later it was that he woke up; he was too disorientated to make much out. All he knew was that his mouth was dry and that he felt like vomiting. He hadn't quite worked out why when he became aware of another sensation, the sensation that had woken him. Something was buzzing. After a moment or two, he rolled over onto his side and realised that it was his cell, which had been pressed against his side.
He looked at the caller display. House. It was instinct that caused him to answer. House was his boss. He did what he said almost unquestioningly. It was easier just to submit to House's wishes. He didn't have the energy to do anything else. Flipping the device open, he brought it to his ear, and stated croakily, "House."
"Wrong", the voice at the other end of the phone responded. "That's my name, not yours. When you answer the phone, you should say 'wombat'".
Chase squeezed his eyes shut as his mind came back into a sort of focus, albeit a slightly off focus. He had unplugged the landline, locked the door, switched off his computer. He had cut off all his lines of communication but one. Why the hell had answered the phone? How had he forgotten to turn it off? He wanted to do this without interruption, wanted to cut off all the lines of communication with the outside world to reinforce the fact that he didn't belong in it. Now he would have to put on a front.
"What do you want House? It's my day off," Chase replied wearily. Please, please just make him go away, he silently begged.
"Nice try. But when I say jump, you say how high, Ok wombat? Me, boss. You, slave. You get off on that, remember?" Chase sighed. Nothing was ever easy with House. Maybe that was partly why he had stuck around so long. Penance. You had to have an ulterior motive to stay with House. No one would work with him simply for the experience. Cameron wanted to fix him, Foreman wanted to prove himself, especially having learnt that House had hired him because of his record.
"I'm ill, House. I can't come in. It's against hospital policy." Chase asserted.
"Oh, don't let that bother you. Pretty much everyone here is sick! You'll fit right in. Besides, law suits are fun. So get your pretty ass in here. Now." Chase removed the phone from his ear. He was pretty sure he was about to throw up. This was a triviality anyway. None of it mattered any more. In a few hours, he wouldn't be here for House to harass any more. Resolutely, he pressed the red button once, then twice. Then he removed the battery for good measure before flopping over the side of the bed and vomiting violently.
House stared at the phone on his desk, the flat drone that the speaker emitted evidence that, for the first time in his life, Chase had directly disobeyed an order from House and hung up on him. His brow wrinkled slightly. This wasn't Chase's style. Chase had gone behind House's back before, but this directness simply wasn't him. Even if Chase was sick (and House had to admit, Chase hadn't sounded too good), he wouldn't have expected him to have dealt with it like that. He would have expected him to whinge for a few minutes and then give up and come in anyway.
House's brow wrinkled further as he turned to the board with a marker in hand and started to write out symptoms from the chart before him. Finishing off, he stared contemplatively at the board before him, but not seeing the symptoms. With a swift movement, House reached out for his jacket and gripped his cane as he turned towards the door.
At that moment, Cameron swung into view, her purposeful stride halting as she took in the sight of House looking ready to go out.
"You just paged me. Where-" she began to question.
"I'm taking a break." House cut her off. "You and Foreman can play together for a while. Symptoms on board, play nicely", he continued, not even turning to face her as he continued past her along the hallway. "If anyone asks, and by anyone I mean Cuddy, I'm doing the doctoring thing, sticking a needle in someone or something," he called as he stuck his cane out to hold the elevator doors opening before slipping into the car and heading downwards and out of the hospital.