Rating: PG-13 (Just a little bit of boy-on-boy action)
Genre: General (some humour?)
Author's Note: Written for Nuerin for the House/Chase Fic Swap. I'm taking some liberties with how Chase got injured, because I can. This probably wasn't exactly what Nuerin wanted but it's the best I could do. This turned out to be a lot harder to write than I had expected.
Summary: When Chase gets injured on a B&E the others start to realize that there's something going on between House and Chase.
On the Down-Low in Diagnostics
The red and grey orb careened through the air, its path determined by the forces of nature and the beings to which it was enslaved. The graceful arch of free fall was interrupted, as was intended, by a hand. A set of brown eyes narrowed at the sight of the object that had been tormenting her of the past minute and a half. She considered intervening but she was afraid of what the consequences might be. General rule of the hospital was that you don't interfere with the antics of Dr. G. House unless it was something that would end in a lawsuit against the hospital. Besides, it was nice to see the other person in the annoying game of catch smiling, hence why the young nurse was seated at the clinics main desk, facing the blond, Australian doctor and her back to the surly, American one.
"Come on! That can't be accurate." The comment came with a charming accent that made the corner of the nurse's mouth pull upward.
"It's perfectly accurate! You're just unfamiliar with species native to North America," was the witty response. He watched the amused smirk light the face of the younger man as he threw the novelty tennis-ball back.
"Really? A super-fast hedgehog? Aren't they like gophers or porcupines?"
"It's a great game. People don't play them because they're trying to learn the mating habits of furry woodland creatures."
"And what the hell was that "Knuckles" thing?" Chase caught the ball when it was tossed over the nurse's station to him.
"An echidna, a creature you should have heard of considering that one shares citizenship with you."
"I'm pretty sure they're not pink."
"What did I say about non-educational?"
"What did you say about 'perfectly accurate'?"
House shook his head. "You just don't understand. Knuckles is no regular echidna."
"Yes, the mysteries of Sonic the Hedgehog continue to elude me."
"What eludes me is how you beat me."
The innuendo pulled a sly smile from the older doctor. To onlookers it wouldn't look like anything different than the usual smiles he wore, even if they were rare. Chase, however, had become rather adept at reading his eyes. Trying to hide his own grin Chase pitched the ball back. It was plucked from the air with ease.
"Don't you have work to do?" The smile on the unshaven face vanished to be replaced with exasperation, as though it was Cuddy and not he who was neglecting his job. Across the nurse's station Chase made idle conversation with the nurse there, trying to look like he was working. Unlike House, he actually had a reason to be standing around. He was waiting for one of the residents to return with the correct set of blood test results. The chart for the patient he was following up on had a different person's lab results.
"Dr. Cuddy, crawled out of your cave I see."
The hospital administrator gave a mild shake of her head and crossed her arms. "I halved your clinic hours for the week so that you would give one, one-hour lecture for Adams who caught the flu –one hour for two. What more will it take for you to do your job?"
House didn't need to contemplate the question. He leaned against the counter of the nurse's station and gave the brunette in the heels a lecherous stare. "Maybe if a certain doctor came to work in some really short short-shorts and a crop top…"
Naturally Lisa assumed House was referring to her. She'd fielded and deflected enough of his ill-conceived sexual taunts to be used to them. What she wasn't familiar with was the relationship between him and the intensivist working under him. If she had been she might have noticed the somewhat distant gaze wandering away from her, as the mental image of his blond lover in the outfit House had just described sauntered through his mind. Maybe he could get that outfit and con Chase into washing his car in it?
"Not on your life." The acerbic response brought House out of his fantasy and back to the doldrums that was the (stupidly) free clinic offered by Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. You see once you don't have to pay for anything, all sense of moderation goes out the window and idiots turn up bringing with them the most foolish symptoms one could imagine. It was only fair that such patients expect a serious decline in quality, seeing as the services were free. At least that's what House thought was fair.
"You still have twenty-minutes left," the formidable woman continued, unaware of her employees quality control-centered thoughts. "Make good use of it." She picked up a chart that was at the top of the pile of patients that had yet to be seen and handed it to him.
House stared down at the file folder and listened to the sound of his boss leaving. Gordon, Timothy, it read. A man he'd never met and Greg hated him already.
"Back to the grind, huh?" Chase asked from across the large circular station.
House turned to face him. "Yeah," he replied sullenly.
Chase pivoted to find Ms. Owens, the medical student he'd sent on that errand, back with the correct set of lab results. "Thanks," Chase said with a smile. It wasn't the one he used when he was trying to charm someone into or out of doing something but it was still enough to charm Owens who, though a year older than Chase, had taken a liking to him (like just about every girl, and a few boys who had met him). House didn't like this at all. He wasn't jealous or anything. And he wasn't worried that Chase was going to run off with the little hussy. No he just didn't like the whole idea of it. Chase was his. But this was the hospital. As much as he might want to, he couldn't walk up to Dr. Chase and lay his claim by planting a big wet one on him. So he settled for Plan B: making Chase look like a dork.
"So, anything serious?" Owens asked of Chase.
Chase shook his head and looked up from the results. "No. All normal. Looks like-"
Chase froze –mouth partially open, a few wisps of hair standing at odd angles due to the collision. A second later he saw the grey and red culprit bounce away and heard the instigator yell at him.
"Hey! Minion! Get back to work!"
House was smirking when Chase threw an unimpressed look at him. He left a moment later. Owens watched him go then glared at the surly doctor she was only vaguely familiar with. He stared at her, both of them knowing exactly the opportunity he'd just effectively broken up. Feeling petty and annoyed House did something petty and annoying. He stuck his tongue out at the young woman. She just shook her head and left, and House felt better. He retrieved his ball and placed it at the corner of the inside desk of the nurses station. It would be safe. They knew better than to touch his toys.
Exam room three, too close to get lost on the way, so House grit his teeth and was ready to bear whatever ailment was thrown at him.
"I think it's his prostate."
"Yeah…" House drawled, looking down at the file. He glanced up at the couple. They looked to be about thirty-five or so, both male, one seated on the examination bed the other standing. A glance at the DOB in the chart confirmed that he was close. Mr. Gordon was thrity-six. "…someone will be right with you." He went to leave.
"Wait!" the man, presumably a friend of Mr. Gordon's (a good friend if he was willing to speak so casually about someone else's prostate) exclaimed. "Are you a doctor?"
"No lab coat. I'm security. Making my rounds."
"Really?" He stared pointedly down at the cane.
"I could take you." He left before Gordon's friend could say anything more. Clearly he was going to be the one answering all the questions in the interview even if it was his "friend" with all the symptoms. He couldn't take this right now. And he wouldn't be able to give them the attention they deserved in only twenty minutes. No, this was a job for anyone else.
"Here's your next one, exam three." House handed the file off to Chase as soon as he got back to the main area after finishing with his follow-up.
"What mess have you caused now?"
"Your suspicion wounds me."
"Be that as it may this is your problem-" Chase didn't get to finish as House hauled him into an empty exam room. Promptly the door was locked, Chase was pinned against it, and his lips were suddenly too busy to form any silly words.
"Mmph," was as much response as Chase could articulate before relenting and allowing House's tongue entry in this mouth. House sidled up between Chase's legs pushing their groins together, starting something that they both knew they wouldn't be able to finish until they were at one of their respective apartments. Noon hadn't even arrived yet, so the heat would build up over the course of the day with stolen kisses and gropes here and there until, finally, it would come to its natural earth-shattering conclusion that night.
House shifted his attack to the tender neck, whispering his request while he played. "I've only got a few minutes to go prepare for this lecture I'm supposed to give. It'll be a quick one. I'll even make it up to you tonight." House went back to his task.
Chase felt himself caving to the request. He still had an hour before he was finished with his clinic duty. What was one more patient? And Greg was going to make it up to him. That was a pretty sweet deal.
House smiled and gave him another kiss. "Excellent," he said with a parting squeeze of his favourite ass cheeks. "I've gotta get going." He picked up his cane from where it had fallen to the floor when his right hand had found something more interesting to hold on to.
Chase still breathing rather heavily nodded dimly to whatever House had said and soon regained enough sense to move from the door so that they could exit.
House took his ball from the large central desk. "I'll see you later."
Chase gave a wave in reply, nothing so familiar that it would draw attention, and went to exam room three. There were two men inside, one a little shorter with a less powerful build. The other was fairly handsome, nicely built and a slightly pleased smile broke out over his face when he saw Chase enter.
"You're a doctor?" The slightly shorter man asked with a scowl, a second after Chase entered.
"Yup," Chase said amiably, resisting the urge to tug on his lab coat as proof. "So what brings you here today?" He turned to the taller, more muscular man, addressing his question to him. From the height and weight already taken by the nurse Chase deduced he was Mr. Gordon. Unfortunately there weren't any notes other than "groin pain". Chase was hoping the man had just pulled something.
"Um…well…" the pleased smile vanished to be replaced with some embarrassment. "I have to go to the washroom, a lot, and really badly, and not that much comes out. And… there's… y'know…like pressure." He put his hand to his lower abdomen. Chase glanced down making sure to see where the patient and gestured so he knew where to examine. When he glanced back up he noticed, from the corner of his eye, the other man giving him a dirty look. "And… well there's this other problem."
"Here it comes," Chase said mentally.
"There's also pain when…you know…when I do…stuff."
"When he ejaculates it hurts," the other man supplied.
Chase glanced between the two. Mr. Gordon, looking sheepish and his friend looking distrustfully at the handsome boy who was probably going to have to stick a finger in his boyfriend's ass.
"House, I hate you," Chase thought to himself.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
"So the moral of the story is…cover your ass," House proclaimed to the one-quarter full auditorium. Some laughs followed but most of the students were just in shock. Their regular professor was never this blunt.
From the side wing at the front of class the door opened for another of the hospital's doctors just as House was dismissing the students from the class. He'd asked them to keep any question they might have had for their regular lecturer. He'd just turned away the last over eager student when something collided with is back.
"You bastard! That guy wanted to tear me apart!"
"And I'm sure the other guy just wanted to tear your clothes off," House grumbled as he picked up his ball. He always enjoyed putting Chase on the spot about his looks, especially when it came to other men. He remembered how uncomfortable Chase had been when they'd first gotten together those months ago. It was always amusing to see that bewildered flustered expression. And it still surprised him that Chase was still surprised over the powerful reactions his looks could garner.
"You owe me." After checking the patient's prostate (with the boyfriend unwilling to leave and the patient not caring that he was there) and finding nothing abnormal Chase got samples for blood and urine tests. He hated the fact that he'd have to see those two again. He'd rather Mr. Gordon come alone next time but he also didn't want at a later date any phone calls or visits from a jealous boyfriend accusing him of jumping his guy. "You really, really owe me."
Standing next to him his left hand hidden as it reached around to pinch a firm cheek, House replied. "I'll really, really make it up to you."
Chouse Chouse Chouse
Later during the day the differential over the patient they'd been working on for the past two days continued. The original symptoms were listed on the board in black marker: diarrhoea, fever, weakness, abdominal pain, weight loss, and dsypnea. Symptoms added later in red markers were anaemia (revealed during the blood tests), and ascites (fluid in the peritoneal space).
"I has to be her liver," Foreman moaned.
Cameron shook her head. "Liver function tests are normal." She glared up at their boss who was leaning languidly against the glass wall to his office, saying "And the unnecessary biopsy shows no cirrhosis and no cancer."
House just glared back at her. The abdominal fluid and the anaemia had fit perfectly with liver cancer or some other liver disease, which was probably why Foreman was still stuck on it. Even when the blood test showed normal liver function House had still thought it was the liver, hence the biopsy. With his best theory shot down it was time for something new. They'd already eliminated a myriad of diseases. At the bottom of the whiteboard written in blue and crossed out in red were the old theories.
Pancreatitis, had been Chase's suggestion but though the patient's amylase had been high in the old tests from his old doctors it had gone back down to normal by yesterday and yet their patient was still ill.
Crohn's Disease and/or ulcerative colitis had been Cameron's suggestion. The immunologist went for the auto-immune (though that was more rheumatology). There had yet to be any blood in the patient's stool and House made sure that Cameron did the tests since it was her suggestion.
At first Foreman had gone the auto-immune route as well suggesting Lupus. Later he came up with a less eye-rolling diagnosis of cancer of the kidneys. Again lab studies proved them all wrong and so did the imaging studies. Kidney function was normal as was the CT of both kidneys.
"What about an infection?" Chase suggested. "Cyclosporiasis."
"You wouldn't have happened to have done ultraviolet fluorescence microscopy on those stool samples did you?" House asked of Cameron.
"No. I wasn't looking for parasites."
"That's very un-thorough of you," House admonished.
"I'll go do it now," Cameron said getting up, ready to make amends, if the answer to all this had been in front of her face and she just hadn't looked at it under the right light.
"Nope!" House stopped her. "You'd need a nice, steaming, fresh sample."
She looked back at him, eyes asking if he was just trying to torture her.
"The auto-fluorescent property wanes with age," House informed a little too cheerfully. "Besides it's not a parasite; doesn't explain the fluid."
Foreman was loath to support any of Chase's theories but he wasn't the type to turn one down if it fit when they did have anything else. "It could…if-"
"Nope. Why do you people always overlook the simple explanations? We've looked at her organs, they aren't to blame. What about the organ sac?"
"The peritoneum," Cameron said aloud.
"Peritoneal mesothelioma. Explains the anaemia, shortness or breath, abdominal pain, ascites." He gestured to the rest of the board. "All the nasty little things that Miss Patient doesn't like."
"It's rare," Chase intoned.
"That's what makes my diagnosis so much better than all of yours."
"She hasn't worked with asbestos." Foreman had taken the history, including employment history when they had been more focussed on an environmental cause.
"People with lung cancer don't always smoke. Just because the common cause isn't there, doesn't mean those little bastards won't decide to revolt. Cameron, get another stool sample, just in case. I know it's a shitty job but…wait there is no but. It's just a crappy job." Maybe he did want to torture her a little bit, (both with the assignment and the puns) but it was also possible he could be wrong. "Foreman, book our friend for another biopsy. Chase, get to our gal's home. Check her fridge for imported fruits and check her water too." Those were the common routes for cyclospora infection, though a water-borne parasite was unlikely or else they'd have a larger case number.
The three fellows went on their way, two of them more than happy to get to their tasks and leave Cameron with hers.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
"Heard you were giving a lecture today."
"Heard you were giving out your phone number today."
"Cuddy must have been desperate."
"You sure are." House selected the chocolate bar he wanted and walked away without paying. The kiosk clerk was about to shout at him but Wilson handed him a few dollars, as House knew he would.
"Come on," Wilson drawled as he easily caught up with the older doctor. "You. Medical ethics. You have none." Stealing a chocolate bar seemed to prove it.
"Sure I do. I just chose to ignore them when I need to do the right thing."
Wilson shook his head. "Heard you're thinking Miss O'Connor has cancer again."
"I'm just using it as an excuse to be near you," House mumbled with a mouthful of chocolate that he debated spitting on the next person in a white lab coat to cut him off like that woman just had.
"Oh, good. I was worried that you might have replaced me with something younger and prettier."
Despite the clear ring of sarcasm House couldn't help the look he turned on his friend.
"What?" Wilson asked, his mind already going through their short conversation trying to figure out why House looked almost startled. "Am I being replaced?" he asked jokingly.
"Don't be stupid," House marched away as best he could with his damaged right leg, leaving a confused and suspicious best-friend behind him.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
Tanya O'Connor, or Tanny as she liked to be called, lived in a fairly nice apartment in a nice area of town. She went to Princeton, was pursuing a Doctorate in Art History and absolutely loved football. Her walls were plastered with NFL paraphernalia: posters, autographed footballs, and framed jerseys all over the place. Closing the fridge Chase took another astonished look around. He smiled slightly.
"At least it's done tastefully."
Despite the numerous sports treasures the apartment didn't feel cluttered with it. At first it was shocking but after the initial jolt passed it was fascinating. Chase knew of a few sports bars that could learn a thing or two from this woman.
The fridge was clean of suspicious fruit but he'd bagged a couple of pieces of produce just in case. He went the extra step of checking her garbage to make sure that she hadn't finished the last of any fruit or vegetable she'd bought. He'd already collected the water samples one from each of the two taps in the dwelling. The garbage was the last to do and it would have to be then that the apartment had an unexpected visitor.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Knelt over the kitchen garbage, a few pieces laying out, Chase turned startled eyes to the man who'd just entered. He probably couldn't have walked in at a worse time. This might not be as bad as being caught looking through her underwear drawer but it was definitely up there on the creepy scale. It was also high up on the "enraging the boyfriend" scale, so even as Chase tried to explain that he was a doctor trying to help Tanny the large man picked up the nearest weapon and went after him.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
Foreman was amused. House wanted to be in on the joke too.
"There's a two hundred and fifty pound offensive lineman in the ER," Foreman explained after informing House that the patient's biopsy was scheduled for later this afternoon.
House didn't see what was so funny.
Foreman chuckled. "Chase put him there." Now the man was just laughing. House might have too if he weren't consumed with worry.
Linemen were the biggest guys on a football team. They needed to be for the hits they both gave and took. No one would ever mistake the maybe one hundred seventy pound Robert Chase for a football player. The only football Chase was familiar with was a fairly non-contact sport, with the most worrisome of injuries usually stemming from a misplaced foot to an ill-placed groin.
"How is Chase?" House asked when Foreman didn't seem inclined to share any information regarding their colleague's state of health.
Foreman noticed House didn't seem as amused as he did. "Uh…I think just some scratches."
"You think? Chase went a round with a football player and you think he got away with a few scratches? I thought you had more sense than that." He got up from behind his desk and hobbled quickly away. Watching him go, Foreman couldn't quell his confusion about House's reaction with any logical explanation.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
House had scoured the ER in record time. Given his disability that was quite the feat, yet at the end of it he felt worse than he had at the beginning. Not only because the pain in his leg was worse but also because he couldn't find his target. He'd passed by his target's assailant on more than one occasion. Had there not been so many doctors, nursed and orderlies around he might have gone in and sucker punched the brute who'd hurt his employee. Frustrated at their concern for the attacker and at his own lack of success in finding Chase, House went over.
"He has a concussion what the hell do you need his blood for?" House demanded angrily. He'd seen the bruise on the right side of the large man's forehead and assumed that to be the blow which won Chase the battle. As far as House was concerned they could toss this guy out on the street and let him deal with it. No blood test required.
"Dr. Chase suspects steroid use. It would explain the aggression."
"So would being a mindless jock." House looked past the nurse of the groggy man who'd regained consciousness around the time he'd arrived to the ER. His eyes shifted sluggishly around. He was held down with the some straps as he'd been rather violent when he'd first awoken. His face was marked with he red, raised marks of every teenager's nightmare, acne. This man didn't look like a teenager though. Early twenties and still breaking out like a kid. It was possible that this guy was unlucky as well as aggressive but the oily and somewhat thin hair pointed in the general direction of anabolic androgenic steroid use (or abuse).
That explained the blood samples then. They were probably worried about his cholesterol and the possibility of clotting issues. House didn't really care.
"Where's Doctor Chase?"
"I don't know." The nurse went back to the patient and House, sick of all of them anyway, continued his search. He glanced behind pulled curtains, looked through glass walls into examination rooms, even invaded some procedure rooms worrying that Chase might have been severely injured. That worry became more and more prominent as his fruitless search wore on. He was rushing to radiology when it occurred to him that he might have to go the morgue. His feet stopped suddenly, stranding him in the middle of the corridor. Just because Chase put the linesman in the ER didn't mean he hadn't taken a few bad hits himself.
The increasing rate of his breathing and the perspiration wetting the palm of his hand were evidence of his anxiety. He told himself Chase was fine. A small segment of him would not be appeased until he saw that was true for himself.
"Excuse me. You were looking for Robert Chase?" a man in a blue set of scrubs asked. At first House panicked, thinking that Chase had needed surgery but then a vague recollection of this man informed him that he was a radiology technician. "You just missed him. He's been moved to room two-twelve."
House didn't even give a nod of thanks or acknowledgement before he took off.
"Ow, ow, ow!"
Chase had a biting reply but he couldn't blame the nurse for his condition. He looked to the door when he noticed somebody was standing there.
"I see you managed to get yourself beat up."
"I'm an impressive multi-tasker."
"So you did manage to get the samples we need while you were pummelling that poor helpless student?"
"In the bag."
"I need to… get more antiseptic," the nurse made her excuse and made her escape. She didn't want to be around for what sounded like would soon be a world class argument.
"Don't bother coming back. I can take care of him," he snapped at the woman as she passed but his eyes remained on the patient who appeared to be glaring back. House stepped further in and slid the door closed. The blinds were already pulled shut giving the hospital employee more privacy than the average patient.
"You okay?" Now that she was gone they both dropped the act.
From his perch on the hospital bed Chase watched House walk over until he stood directly before him. Chase held his eyes but from the corner he could see House's arm tense as his right hand squeezed the handle of his cane tighter.
"I'm fine he assured."
House didn't respond. He let his eyes trail over the younger man, cataloguing the injuries that he could see. A bruise was already beginning to colour the left side of his face, just climbing the delicate arch of his cheekbone. On the other side of his face his bottom lip was slightly swollen and the slight red tinge indicated that he'd been bleeding there, though it had been cleaned some. A small constellation of scratches dotted his forehead above his right brow, with a longer gash in the middle having dribbled blood and stained his fair brow with dark red. House watched the brows draw together in a shallow wince and heard the breathing pattern change before it again fell into a regular but somewhat shallow rhythm.
House reached out and undid the buttons at each of Chase's shoulders, releasing the hospital smock. Chase made no move as the garb fell away. He let House explore for himself his injuries.
The older face pulled in an expression of discomfort and discontent as the once pale and flawless expanse of skin was exposed to reveal a dense patchwork of ugly and painful bruises wrapping around his torso to blossom over his back. The last injury House noted was his employee's right wrist. Chase had it carefully laid in his lap. It was reinforced with a temporary splint and was being soothed by an ice pack.
"Broken?" House asked, eyes on the injured appendage.
"No, I think it's a sprain."
"How about your ribs?"
"Hurts," he said with a short and pained smile. "Maybe cracked, probably broken but not displaced."
House nodded solemnly. He wanted to say something. He felt an apology on his lips.
"I'm okay. And this isn't your fault."
House couldn't respond. He moved closer. He let his left arm circle around to the back of his lover's neck, his fingers caressing a path to the far cheek to stroke it gently with his thumb. Some tender insistence pulled Robert to lean against the older man's chest, taking that final step to break the barrier between them when they were teacher and fellow at work. Chase closed his eyes and leant into the solid but yielding chest. It felt good to be held even if only for a short moment. Here he was safe. House might be an impossible bastard sometimes but he'd always known, or was learning when to hold his tongue and when to just be there.
In the patient's apartment when that brute had started attacking him the difference in their sizes had not been lost on Chase and he'd wondered for a split second whether he'd walk out of there. He was a scraper, a survivor, and his resourcefulness had paid off. Lamps weren't usually considered weapons but the cheap-looking fixture had flown with stunning accuracy to collide with his assailant. Unfortunately the blow hadn't immediately stopped his charge, only made it much less coordinated before he succumbed to the darkness. His heavy body had landed on top of Chase whose wrist got injured when he tried to break their fall. The sudden and sharp pain at the joint told him that he'd done some damage but he was more thankful that the encounter was over, even if he couldn't get up with the large man's dead weight pinning him down.
After that it was just a matter of retrieving his cell phone and calling for help. He checked his attacker turned patient's vitals and found nothing strange or worrisome, other than the unconsciousness.
Now, with the fight over, the adrenaline high and the following low passed, Chase slipped into a mellow detachment made comfortable by the gentle touch of his lover.
They separated too early for Chase's liking but the hospital wasn't the place for them to be intimate. Should their relationship become public knowledge it could cause trouble depending on tempers. They separated just in time because a minute later they were no longer alone.
"Well Doctor Chase, you're tougher than you look."
House glared at the man who'd just entered. Another moronic doctor employed by Cuddy, this man was about House's age but had a son Chase's age. House hadn't noticed him before, only after he started seeing Chase and the age difference finally meant something. It wasn't that the other doctor was doing it on purpose. He had his own life and family. It probably couldn't be helped that he treated people his children's age in a similar fatherly fashion that he doted on his own offspring. That it annoyed House was no one's problem but House's.
"You're x-ray shows two breaks and a cracked rib." He gave Chase an encouraging smile and held up the film. "Fifth and six, broken." He pointed to the indicated area on the right side of the image which was actually the left side of Chase's body. "Seventh, cracked. None displaced, no segmented breaks, so no indication of flail chest. Looks like you could be an offensive lineman too," he joked fatherly.
"What about his face?" House asked, worried about a possible cheek or jaw fracture.
"X-ray looks clean," but he handed one of the other films to House anyway, who looked and also found nothing of concern.
"You're last film, of your wrist shows no break. With what you described and the swelling pattern you probably have a sprain. Grade two in all likelihood."
Chase nodded tightly, expecting as much.
"We'll get you a brace and some drugs to help with the pain and then you just have to be careful for a few weeks." He skipped over many of the details since Chase was a doctor himself and very familiar with trauma cases. He knew what to expect and wouldn't take well to being treated like an idiot. He knew his son didn't. "Where's Carly? She was supposed to be putting you back together?"
"She had to go," House snapped grabbing the other radiograph and examining it.
Chase would have sighed if not for the shooting pain that already accompanied breathing. "I can take care of it myself."
The older man glanced from Chase to House and decided that House would make sure his underling was taken care of. House was an ass but he took care of his little flock.
"I'll write you a script for Tylenol-Three. You know the drill. One every four hours. If the pain changes or gets worse you let me know."
Chase nodded again.
House and Chase were soon alone again, much to House's relief.
"Too bad he didn't give you the really good stuff. Then we could both be high," Greg commented putting the films on the small table next to him.
"Well one of us should be sober." The side of his face that wasn't bruised pinched when a slight movement made his next breath particularly painful. Rib fractures weren't that serious unless segmented or displaced. He only had to deal with the discomfort for the next few weeks. No brace or wrap would be needed. The ribs were naturally splinted and held in place for healing by adjacent ribs, cartilage and muscles.
"Lie on the bed," House suggested noticing the pained expression. He helped Chase ease himself up. "How bad is the pain?"
Chase swallowed before answering. "Not too bad."
House shook his head. "Liar."
Chase laughed but it was cut short as the response to humour put a strain on his damaged ribcage. House's lips pressed into a thin line as he watched the episode of pain play out. He ran his hand over Chase's forehead in a soothing motion. It was all the comfort he could give. When it was over House reached into his jacket pocket and jiggled the small translucent prescription bottle holding his Vicodin.
"You want one of mine?" he offered.
Chase wanted to laugh again but he simply smiled. House sounded like a toddler offering to share his special treat. "No, I'll be okay." House frowned and put his pills away. "But thanks."
House nodded and brushed his fingers through the dishevelled golden hair. It was the wrong moment to do so because just then Dr. Cameron walked in. The click of her shoes alerted them to her presence and House shifted his touch to probe in a doctor-like manner at the superficial wound above Chase's brow.
"I heard what happened, Chase. You okay?" She slowly walked to his side, her wary look shifting from one man to the other.
"Samples in the bag," House directed with a nod of his head to the messenger bag sitting on the chair near the door. "Check them for our parasite of the week."
"I checked her stool. They aren't there."
"Could be a bad batch," Chase suggested helpfully. Cameron glared. A bad batch would mean she'd have to get another. It's not that she hadn't dealt with fecal matter before but she liked to keep it to a minimum.
"That's true," House agreed with the injured man. "Either you get another sample or check out the samples from Tanny's place."
Cameron held back a sigh of defeat and went for the bag. She was actually hoping to find some parasites. She'd take a mild infection over cancer any day. When she was gone House gave Chase one last gentle touch before beginning the process of cleaning the rest of the shallow wounds while he got Chase to narrate the exact events of the altercation.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
"Have you noticed anything weird about House and Chase lately?" Cameron asked Foreman when she got back to the lab and found him there.
"The fact that you're asking means you noticed something."
"That fact that you're avoiding answering means that you noticed something too."
Foreman replaced the slide he'd been examining and faced her, trying to choose his words correctly. "I told House about Chase sending our patient's boyfriend to the ER. He seemed…concerned?" He wasn't sure if that's what it was. He wasn't familiar with what the House-brand of concern looked like. On anybody else what he saw from House seemed like concern but he'd expected him to be amused.
"I just went to see Chase. He's alright, but House was there, and I swear I saw him run his hand through Chase's hair."
Foreman shrugged but was mentally reeling. "Maybe his jealousy over Chase's hair finally got the better of him. More likely he was checking his scalp for any other wounds."
Cameron pushed a breath out through her nose. "I guess." She put down the samples she'd retrieved. "I mean, the only other explanation would be that House…and Chase…are…" She made a vague had gesture and gave Foreman a set of raise eyebrows to silently convey her meaning.
Foreman paused. He quickly found a snort of disbelief. "Yeah, right."
Cameron gave a shaky smile, falling into agreement with Foreman's expression. In silence they worked on analysing the samples. In their minds they poured through the possibility that House might be interested in Chase, or worse, or weirder that House and Chase might have an interest in each other that they'd already took action towards.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
"I don't know what you see in him."
Tanny rolled her head wearily to the man at the entrance to her room. "Who?"
"Francis Murray. I figured you'd go more for the artsy, wounded type. But I guess then you couldn't have a conversation about the third and fourth down conversion stats between the leading teams in the NFL. Though I'm not sure you could ever have a coherent conversation with him anyway."
"Francis is here?" she asked tiredly. She hadn't called anybody since she'd been admitted, hoping that this would just pass and she wouldn't have to worry anyone.
"Yup, he's a patient here." House nodded then suddenly asked, "Did you notice that his testicles are a little on the small side, or did you just figure his balls matched his brains?"
Tired, sick, or not, she was still alert enough to be indignant.
House cut off her sputtering. "He's been taking steroids. Luckily he only got testicular atrophy. I'm sure that the only one of you who wants their boobs to grow is you."
"Would you please just get out?"
"Gladly once I know that you'll dump him or at least wait 'til his acne goes away before dating him again."
"What makes you think our relationship is any of your business?" she demanded hotly.
House moved closer to the sickly young woman. "It's my business because you're boyfriend just beat up my fellow. You might be more concerned because that could have been you. Wrong day, wrong comment and you'd be the one with two broken ribs or worse. The steroids he's been popping or injecting, depending on how stupid he is, have increased some of those dumb and animalistic tendencies that men are always condemned for –in this case with good reason. When you get out of here dump him and find a guy with normal size testicles. You can carry a measuring tape in your pocket." His point across judging by the look in his patient's eye House made his exit. "Oh and you're missing a lamp, and a dinner chair, and you'll need to fix one of your framed jersey's."
Chouse Chouse Chouse
Their test results came back the next day. It wasn't any surprise that House turned out to be right. Miss Tanny had cancer of the mesothelium in her abdomen. She was shuffled off to Wilson and his people. As for Tanny's boyfriend, his assault was quickly leading to an investigation of the varsity football team's use of steroids. House just shook his head when he heard about the crusade that one of the hospital's doctors was now on. House imagined that Cuddy didn't really care one way or another. So long as nobody ended up sick, or sued, and no more of her Doctor's were beat up she knew that whatever they did wouldn't stop the use of drugs in sports. She had enough to deal with. She didn't need another un-winnable battle.
"House, please. Just do it. Get it over with."
"I'm allergic to paper work."
Yes, she had enough loosing battles to fight. Cuddy was about to make another argument (actually more of a threat) when she noticed she no longer had House's attention, which she'd worked hard to get in the first place. She followed his gaze and found it watching his Australian intensivist.
"Is Chase alright?" She asked, wondering if House was worried for a good reason.
"Then why are you staring at him?"
Cuddy opened her mouth to say something but she wasn't sure what to say.
"Yeah, yeah. Paperwork coming your way," he brushed her off lest she think too much about his last comment. She left but cast a look to House, then to Chase, then a little further south on Chase. House laughed. He slid his eyes back to Chase who was settling in a chair at the table. His right wrist was trapped in a brace and his face was now nicely darkened with a map of dark bruises, contrasting greatly with the fair skin that was unharmed. House was just glad Chase had ducked the punch other wise he might have more than just bruises on his face. He hadn't been able to dodge the backhanded blow but it had held less force than the full punch and only left the network of bruises.
House turned away from the other room to his computer. It wouldn't do to be caught staring.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
"Is there something going on?"
Chase looked warily up at his current companion and resisted the urge to look to the next room. "Why do you ask?"
Cameron shrugged and watched him carefully. "Just wondering. House has been acting kind of strange lately. He seemed a little worried about you."
"No kidding," he said dismissively and looked back to his medical journal.
"Yes. I'm just curious." Cameron watched him hoping for a reaction but Chase was stony and she gave up, much to Chase's relief.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
"Are you screwing Chase?"
House was sure Wilson timed that in hopes that he'd choke on his drink. He considered spitting it out in a spray of shock across the table to the oncologist who was starting to think he was clever. Instead he just swallowed and replied.
"Nope." He wouldn't label it screwing so he wasn't lying.
Wilson tilted his head. "Are you sure?"
"I think I would know."
"You can tell me if you are. I won't care."
House didn't even spare him a look. He went back to his lunch.
He'd tell Wilson later, when he was sure he and Chase were really sure about this.
Chouse Chouse Chouse
It had only been two days since the little battle and already Chase was tired of the inquiries into his health and about what had caused the very noticeable mass of bruises on his face. Clinic patients were giving him longer and stranger looks than they had been before, wondering if he was a hooligan impersonating a doctor. Two hours of clinic duty had put him in a foul mood and he wasn't even feeling well enough to find a quite closet that he and Greg could squeeze into for a little groping. In the past their impromptu sessions always made him feel a little better but there would be none of that until he'd mastered breathing again.
Anything more than a normal breath sent a vicious reminder of his injuries. Laughing, coughing, and sneezing where now luxuries he couldn't often afford. Even making out with his favourite anti-social diagnostician was something he could only rarely indulge in. Once his breathing got too deep or too quick his ribs protested. Last night he'd tried to push through it but the pain had been too much and he didn't feel comfortable taking more of his codeine containing pain medication. They'd managed a fairly satisfying session though nothing even near to the same scale their usual nights together. Needless to say they were both beginning to feel a little antsy due to the lack of action. House had been even more snippy than usual today, though only to Foreman and Cameron since they were the only ones within striking distance. To Chase he'd been fairly neutral leaving the other two to chalk up the difference in treatment as House not being a complete bastard that he'd go on the offensive against an injured man.
"Are you done terrorizing your staff?" Wilson asked from the hall entrance to the office when House stomped unevenly back in from the adjacent room.
"Maybe. Would you like to try and take me in round two?"
Wilson's eyebrows raised at the direct threat. He hadn't seen House like this –angry and near heartless –in quite some time. It wasn't something he'd missed. He also couldn't attribute anything to the sudden change in mood. Lately House had been even tempered and almost nice. Wilson didn't know what had caused the good moods but he wanted that back.
"There's a wrestling match on tonight. Should I bring the pizza or the beer."
"Neither. I'm not watching." House limped past him and Wilson wisely decided not to follow. House actually did plan on watching but he also planned on having Chase stay the night. After a full day of work Chase was usually achy and tired and likely wouldn't do much than eat a little, read or watch TV, and then head to bed early. That night the routine persisted. Chase headed for the bed room around nine-thirty. House, moping on the couch was surprised when rather than hearing nothing he heard water running in the bathroom.
At first he chalked it up to Chase's usual evening routine but even several minutes after the water stopped running there was intermittent splashing. Intrigued, House peeked in. The bath tub was full of water and a naked Chase. There were no bubbles to obscure his view so House assumed that Chase just wanted to soak and ease his aches, and perhaps drive House a little bit more crazy with the enticing body that was his but could do no more than lightly touch.
"Hey," Chase greeted softly when he noticed House at the door. "I'd invite you in but there's not quite enough room." He watched House shrug and move closer. He knelt next to the tub and stared down at the water obscured image of his lover. He dipped his fingers into the water measuring the temperature before slipping his hand in and gently tracing the submerged contours and planes.
Chase watched House watch his hand as it trailed down his abdomen down a leg then back up. He closed his eyes when the venturing hand reached the inside of his thigh and groaned when House's gentle caress settled between his legs. He couldn't help but open his legs wider. He felt the warm breath at his neck and suddenly it turned cool when a tongue wetted his skin and the air there seemed to chill. The scratch of stubble at his neck and House's familiar scent so near coalesced with his sexual frustration bring him to a final release after a few more minutes of the tender assault, mouth open and pained, panting breaths disturbing the otherwise near silence.
House continued to touch him, revelling in the privilege and the afterglow. Though not as fun as their usual acrobatics, giving Chase pleasure like this was also gave him a chance to take his own. He'd always been very visual when it came to sex and Robert provided a very nice visual.
"Okay?" he asked returning his lips to the sensitive area near the junction of the slightly shadowed jaw and the smooth neck. With his lips, House could feel the thrumming of Chase's rapid pulse and his hand trailing higher in the water could feel the rise and fall of his chest. He also encountered Chase's right arm wrapped around his ribs attempting to suppress the movement on the left side where the breaks were located.
Chase nodded and gave a slight hum of contentment. He could handle the discomfort he just need a few minutes. Then he looked forward to returning the favour to House whose pants he knew were tented without having to look. "Just give me a minute."
House was willing to give him all the time he needed, letting his hand explore the younger body and his lips explore what wasn't submerged. His expedition was cut short by the ringing of his doorbell. House paused.
"Don't answer it," Chase suggested, voice tight due to the ache.
"House! Open up!" It was Wilson. House dropped his head forward, his forehead fust barely brushing Chase's cheek. He knew not answering the door wouldn't keep Wilson out. "House!" They both heard a key slide into the door and then the door open. House met Chase's eyes and the young man just nodded resignedly. House sighed and abandoned his post to go greet his intruder.
Looked like Wilson was going to be the first one to know about them. He knew he should have told Wilson before. James was his best-friend after all. Hiding it from him made it seem like the relationship was something that needed to be hidden. It wasn't (at lest not hidden from Wilson). House just wanted it to be a secret for a while longer. Yes, he could be selfish like that but he liked the sense of newness that the secret supplied the liaison. Part of him worried that without it, the relation would fade and lose whatever it was that helped make it so special. So he'd kept it a secret, and in deference to his actions, Chase did the same.
"Hey," Wilson greeted seeing his friend approaching. One arm held both a box of pizza and dangling from his elbow was a plastic grocery bag that looked to be barely holding together as a six pack of what House assumed was beer pulling it down.
"Hey." House leaned against the wall, trying to find the right words. Usually he didn't bother with the right words, choosing any that would do. This time he felt the need to.
"I've got to use the washroom," Wilson announced, hanging his jacket and then striding past his odd friend. House opened his mouth to warn him but then decided that maybe the right words were no words. He stayed leaning against the wall, back to the half of his apartment where a secret was about to be unearthed.
"HOUSE!" Greg cringed.
Chase was standing in the bath tub using the shower curtain to hide his birthday suit. Wilson glanced repeatedly at one then the other. Chase, shocked and angry, skin flushed from the hot bath (and other activities that Wilson didn't know of) and House, lips pinched between his teeth and pulled into a sheepish, wide-eyed smile.
"You…you two… you guys…" He made vague hand gestures but couldn't seem to find any words.
"Do the nasty on a regular basis?"
Wilson shut his eyes and raised his hands having heard enough.
"Towel," Chase demanded exasperatedly. House passed him one.
Wilson opened his eyes in time to see Chase squeezing past he and House who were crowding the door. Even with the discolouration of his injuries Chase was attractive. He couldn't really blame House for jumping him but he wondered if it was serious.
"Pizza?" House offered then went to the living room. Wilson followed.
They sat on the couch House munching away on the take out food and beer. Wilson sat staring forward but not seeing any of the program that flashed across the screen.
"So…you guys…" he looked to House, who just looked back at him while he took a sip of his drink. He wasn't going to be any help. "…have a lot of fun?"
"Oh, yeah. You should try it."
"What, you renting him out?"
House eyed his friend. "So, things are okay?" Chase wasn't replacing Wilson. Chase was Chase. Wilson was Wilson.
"As long as you keep the gory details to yourself, yeah, things are okay."
Chouse Chouse Chouse
Chase was avoiding him. Wilson would have been hurt if it wasn't so funny. Every time their eyes met Chase would look quickly away and make his escape. He wasn't quite fast enough to hide the blush that tinted his face. The night before when Wilson had dropped by unexpectedly, he'd seen more of Chase than the young man was comfortable with before he managed to hide himself with the plastic curtain. Add to that the natural weirdness of having to interact with your boyfriend's best friend and the anxiety pushed up a notch.
Chase could barely believe House had done that –just let Wilson walk right in to the washroom when he knew Chase was butt naked. House had done a lot of shit in their relationship but that somehow managed to trump all. Maybe it was the pills and the constant pain of his injuries making him so easily annoyed.
Chase just glared at him and handed House the test results. He'd relegated himself to the lab since he was tired of dealing with people who wouldn't stop staring at what was visible of his injuries; the bruises and scratches. Also with one hand braced he wasn't as dexterous as he was before and that left him unable to perform his duties as an intensivist with his usual efficiency.
House watched Chase storm out and wondered how much longer this winter would last.
"Is Chase okay?" Cameron asked, her concern evident.
"How should I know?"
"Well, you two seemed to be getting along lately and then suddenly it's like nuclear winter whenever you're in the same room together."
"Nuclear winter, huh?" He hadn't really thought it was that bad but he was also too good at brushing off other people's feelings.
"Just try to be nice," she advised then left.
"What was that about?" Foreman asked Cameron when she returned.
"There's definitely something between them." Saying it now was easier than before. They'd had time to ponder the likelihood and its ramifications. House didn't seem the type to play favourites, even if he was sleeping with one of them. Chase didn't seem the type to want favouritism in exchange for what they did in private.
Foreman didn't have a problem with the two of them being together. In theory nothing about their little department would change. He just wasn't interested in the details. The last thing he needed were mental pictures of House and Chase in bed together. Of course all this was still speculation. They had no direct evidence that those two were together.
"Is House around?"
Cameron and Foreman turned to entrance and found Wilson half in the room, half in the corridor.
"He was here a second ago," said Cameron, with a glance to the neighbouring office. It was empty.
"Alright, I'll…find him later." He gave them a slight smile and he sounded his usual sincere self but there was a vague sense of excitement that lightened his mood. It was like he knew something they didn't. Foreman's eyes narrowed ever so slightly and he took a gamble.
"Hey, Wilson. Do you know if Chase and House are having a fight?"
The excitement drop rapidly away. "He told you guys?" He'd only just found out.
"So they are together?" Cameron followed rapidly.
"What?" Wilson was confused. Didn't they know?
"Chase and House."
"They are dating!"
"But you just said"
"I didn't say anything."
"Stop it!" Foreman interrupted. This wasn't getting them anywhere. "Are they together or not?"
Wilson's lips pinched into a thin line. He wasn't sure what to tell them.
"That looks like a yes," Cameron deduced.
"But I didn't say anything."
Foreman shook his head. "Your silence said plenty."
"Fine. But when House asks, you guys did a differential on him and figured it out yourselves."
"I still can't believe it. How did this happen?" Cameron asked.
Wilson, still standing the doorway, could only shake his head in astonishment. He still wasn't quite over the shock of his best friend being involved with one of his employees. Apparently Cameron didn't quite believe it either. She slipped passed Wilson.
"Where are you going?" the neurologist called after her.
"Talk to Chase."
The two remaining doctors caught each other's eyes then simultaneously went to follow.
The three went straight to the lab where Chase had sequestered himself. They'd just rounded the corner that put them directly in front of the glass doors to the room when all three halted at the sight before them. Past the panes of glass and into the dimly lit lab were the diagnostician and intensivist. Although they couldn't be heard, from their expressions it wasn't hard to tell that they were exchanging some heated words. Wilson accurately guessed that it stemmed from the incident last night and winced in sympathy when Chase poked House pretty hard in the middle of his chest. Chase made to turn around and go back to work but House grabbed him by his arm and spun him back around. Nobody had time to say a word before House's lips suddenly pressed against Chase's. Two sets of jaws dropped. Wilson hid his laugh behind his hand.
Cameron found her voice first. "I guess they are together."
Foreman's question had also been answered. "I guess they were fighting."
Wilson smirked. "I guess they've made up."
They continued to watch the two doctors while they engaged their tongues in a duel. It was just too shocking to look away from. House had pressed his hips to Chase, pinning him against a lab bench. He'd abandoned his cane and tangled his now free hand into the soft blond hair, allowing him to angle Chase's head any way he liked. His other hand was still gripping Chase's right forearm but he was careful of the brace which protected the injured wrist.
Chase for his part hadn't seen this coming. They were usually quite careful about public displays when at work. His annoyance, that House only seemed interesting in stoking a moment ago, was bleeding away under the assault of House's lips. The slight tickling of his stubble was something he'd gotten used to, even learnt to enjoy. It hadn't been hard. Greg House was a phenomenal kisser and when he really put effort into it Chase knew he didn't stand a chance –like now.
The tension vanished. Their minor fight was forgotten. Chase brought his hand to House's side, absorbing the warmth that made it through the layers of clothing.
"I'm sorry, okay? Only I'll get to see you naked from now on." House murmured against his lips.
Chase's eyes opened only to roll to the ceiling in exasperation. He was going to make his own comment but then the talented lips descended to the sensitive curve of skin just at his jaw and his mouth could only hang open, the majority of his brain short circuiting as Greg attacked that special spot. A twinge of pain shocked him briefly but he pushed his way through it. This was just too good to give up. House nuzzled up a little further, forcing Chase's head to turn in the other direction. That was when the half-lidded, arousal fogged eyes noticed their audience.
Foreman gave a cheeky wave.
"Oh, my God!"
"Mmhmm." House continued his trek of over the smooth skin, heavy with a scent that was all Chase.
Chase's wide eyes stayed on the three voyeurs while he tried to lever House off him.
"House, get off! Off, off, off! Greg!" The older man wasn't listening but apparently he thought he could correct the tone in which Chase said his name by seizing his lips in another sense melting kiss.
"What the hell is going on here?" The bellow startled the five doctors. House finally came up for air and let Chase breathe a little too. That's when he finally noted the observers and the tyrant.
"I didn't realise we were running a peepshow in the hospital," the hospital administrator said sarcastically. There was also more than a hint of annoyance and a bit of anger in her voice. It was a combination that only Cuddy seemed to create in perfect balance and it did more to scare her employees than an outright burst of rage.
Cameron and Foreman didn't know how to respond, so they didn't. They beat a hasty retreat. She crossed her arms and glared at Wilson. He was less affected by the look but he too knew better than to stick around when there was a clear avenue of departure. That just left House, who was just staring at her as she walked into the lab and Chase, who was trying to squirm his way out of House's unyielding grasp.
"Oh don't let me interrupt. If you think it's appropriate then, by all means, continue."
Chase was frozen. House just shrugged. Sounded like an invitation to him. "Okay."
"House!" Chase turned in time to avoid the kiss. He managed to free himself and slinked by Cuddy and out the lab. The blush on his burning face was hidden on one side by the bruise but was patently obvious on the other.
"I never knew you loved lab work so much," Cuddy smirked.
House glared at her. "Y'know, cock-blocking isn't actually part of your job description."
She smiled without a hint of apology and told him, "Consider it a bonus service just for you."
Chouse Chouse Chouse
Chase retreated back to the diagnostics conference room. The moment he walked in Cameron and Foreman were staring at him. Chase decided that he should find a lounge in which to go die of embarrassment. He spun around and found his path block by House. There was no way he was getting out of this now.
"So, cat's out of the bag." House's voice seemed to carry his shrug of nonchalance with it. "Guess this means I can grab your ass when ever I want," he said to Chase but more than loudly enough for the other two to hear. House walked past him and did exactly as he'd just said.
"Hey!" Chase yelped.
House hobbled away thinking about the new scope of opportunities embarrassing Chase in front of Cameron, Foreman and Wilson would bring for hot, make-up sex. He grinned. Chase frowned and popped a pain pill. Cameron and Foreman glanced warily at each other.