a/n: Final chapter. Enjoy!

Chapter 8 - Loose Ends

"Well, if it isn't Florence Nightingale."

Randall's eyes jerked upward from his medical journal, startled by her words. "Hey, welcome back."

"How long have you been there?"

"About an hour," he guessed. "This is the best place to get in some reading. I've been coming here off and on for the last week to catch up."

Miss Edwards took a few seconds to shake the sleepiness before his comment dawned on her. "I had surgery a week ago?"

"Yes."

"I've been asleep all that time?"

"Yes. The first couple of days were bad, but since then you've been getting stronger each day and we took you off the sedatives three days ago. You've been showing slow signs of waking since then."

She nodded, actually feeling fully rested for the first time in a while. A week long sleep would do the trick, she figured. "So I'm not going to die?"

"Not anytime soon, no."

She let a small weak laugh slide. "They are training you right. I like honesty in a doctor."

"You feeling any pain?"

"No, I'm actually pretty good. A little stiff from being in this bed for a while but the best since I've been here."

Randall put the journal down and moved his chair closer to the bed. "You've missed a huge week of bitter cold you know. I actually envied you being all warm and comfortable."

A smile crept on her face at the thought of even bitter cold. Outside sounded so refreshing right now. "So you have time to talk?"

"Sure. It's 10 PM and I was instructed by Dr. Chase to only call if you were dying. You seem just fine. I have all night."

"So you would rather spend your spare time with me? How does a young guy like you not have a girlfriend?"

"Please, three years of medical school and then a high profile internship? I don't get to sleep, let alone date."

She let out another laugh. "Fair enough. I do have time and I don't date either."

Randall hoped that since the conversation was going well now was the time to take care of some unfinished business. "You know, speaking of that, we never finished our conversation. Is there more you want to talk about?"

She shook her head. "I'm not sure there is much more to say. It happened."

"That's fine," he replied in agreement. "So you know, I didn't share what you told me with anyone else."

"I appreciate that. I'm glad I told you. It was a huge relief to get it out, but I'm just not sure if it is going to change anything."

"Do you want things to change? If you're happy with your structured and isolated life, that is okay."

"I don't know if I'm happy. I'm safe, and that means a lot to me. Still, you have taught me one valuable lesson."

Randall's eyes grew very wide. "I did? Tell me what I did so I can try using that skill again sometime."

Her eyes fell downward as she tried to find the proper way to give the most honest answer. "You taught me that I can trust another person again, especially a man." She moved her head back up and gave him a bittersweet smile. "That is a step in the right direction."

"You never know, but I have heard stories around here about patients who have found themselves taking risks in life after almost dying. It affects them more than they think."

"I can tell you're still young, because that comment screamed optimism." She took a brief pause to ponder her thoughts before continuing. "Who knows, maybe I'll change from this. Maybe I won't. I do feel a bit like living on the edge though. I think I'm going to go home and not clean my apartment. That will rock my world."

"Sounds dangerous," Randall said laughing.

"Yeah, a little OCD humor for you. No, I think I might take a vacation. Florida is nice this time of year."

"It is indeed. Tell me what you would do there."

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"So, are you back for real this time? I figured they couldn't wait to throw you out upstairs."

House was sitting in his office, reading over the case file for Martha Edwards. "This is an incredible case here," he replied completely ignoring Chase's off the cuff remark. "This condition is rare enough where it would make a fascinating journal article."

Chase raised an eyebrow. "You want to write a journal article? You?"

House chuckled at such a notion. "Me? No, that's what my minions are for."

"You have a minion, and he doesn't write journal articles either."

"We are a world renowned diagnostics program, processing all sorts of strange and rare cases a year, and we don't write journal articles. Our knowledge should be shared."

A startled Chase started looking around to make sure there wasn't a hidden camera in the office to gauge his reaction. He certainly didn't like the idea of his shock and surprise being shown on national TV, which was the only plausible scenario for House's comment. "Did they mess with your brain in rehab? You have never been about sharing, especially knowledge. What's going on here? You trying to setup me up for some sort of joke?"

"We need to get some new people in here to write these articles."

"Oh, so you actually want to hire some fellows now? Gee, I vaguely recall discussing the need for more staff recently. I think an entire interviewing effort was done." Chase grabbed his chin to add an element of drama to his sarcastic remarks. House's unimpressed stare told him to get on with his point. "Sure, your plan will work considering you have to read and sign anything anyone writes. That has worked so well in the past. You won't be able to get any fellows to try it."

"Fellowship program has been cancelled."

Chase grabbed his forehead, knowing House was having great fun irritating him. "Fine, I'll play. How are we going to write articles and function in general without fellows and one intern?"

"Meeting at 2:00. You will get all your answers then." House left the office while Chase continued the search for that elusive hidden camera.

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"Good afternoon Miss Edwards. I'm ready to sign your discharge papers and get you out of here."

She looked up from her task of packing her bag. "It's about freaking time," she told Chase. "One more day of this inorganic hospital food was going to kill me."

"Did a nurse give you the home care instructions?"

"Yep, I've been briefed." She resumed her packing while Chase began going through and signing forms. She abruptly stopped as her thoughts compelled her to speak her mind.

"Dr. Chase, since you are his boss, I really want to put in a good word for your intern there. He's a class act."

"Your feedback is noted," he replied trying to act professionally. Being this was his first supervisory role he really didn't know how to take feedback from a patient about another doctor.

"No, I'm trying to say more than he did a good job. I work in a field were recognition is rarely given, and from what Randall has said the same is probably true here for the hard ass you work for. He did so much more than just care for my medical needs. He tended to the emotional ones as well. That goes above and beyond what a doctor of internal medicine should do. Make sure in his training he continues to build on that."

"I will," Chase said assuring her with his pleasant smile. "He has some great people skills."

"Oh, and he refused to take any credit for saving my life. He says I have you and the mysterious Dr. House to thank for that. Teach Randall to be that good as well. And thank you for saving my life."

Chase signed the last piece of paper and put the chart back. "You're welcome Martha. Take good care of yourself. Dr. Randall will take you downstairs."

"Take care of yourself Dr. Chase. You look like you need a vacation."

Vacation, huh? Chase thought to himself as left the room and headed down the hall. That sounded like the best idea he had ever heard.

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Chase approached the conference room with deep uncertainty as he saw Cuddy, Foreman, and Cameron joining House in the 2:00 meeting he was summoned to. "What's going on here?"

"I'll explain everything. Sit down Chase," Cuddy instructed. He glanced at Cameron and Foreman blankly, who were trying to hide smiles while he followed his instructions.

"Dr. Foreman approached me with an idea last week. After House got out of jail, we spent the rest of his time in rehab going through the proposal. We've decided to move forward."

"Okay, what sort of trouble do I have to look forward to this time?" Chase was convinced that any idea was just going to overload him with more work.

"House may have mentioned that the fellowship program has been cancelled."

"Yes, it came up."

"That is because we are bringing on two new attendings instead. The scope of this department is being expanded. Diagnostics needs to be doing way more than just diagnosing and healing difficult cases. There needs to be more work with research and journal publications. We need to share our work. Starting the first of next month, Dr. Foreman will report to House as the new Specialist of Diagnostic Research. He will be responsible for expanding that program."

"What about his current studies?" Chase curiously asked.

"They will continue but they are now part of diagnostics."

"I see," he said somewhat pleased but knowing he hadn't heard it all yet, "and Cameron is here because..."

"That's more of a reorg. She keeps her title and duties for internal medicine, but she now reports to House. She will also now be responsible for all the administrative needs of the department."

"So House and I keep taking on a heavy case load?"

"Not exactly." House explained. "You are now a full fledged Specialist of Diagnostic Medicine. All patients are going to you."

"So what is your job?" Chase asked not sure if he liked what he was hearing. "It sounds like my work is doubling."

"My role is figurehead. I bring the name and reputation." Everyone gazed at him less than impressed. "What, no like? Fine, I'm kidding. I'm responsible for it all. I serve as primary consultant on all cases, I'll approve all the research activities, and I oversee all activities of my staff, including Cameron's stuff. That means I actually have to read our damn journal articles before I approve them."

"And Randall gets to be..."

"His role doesn't change at all. As a matter of fact, he'll be getting friends. Three more interns to be exact. They will be involved with all activities of the department. Cameron's first duty is to screen applicants and structure an actual training program. You three get to decide who gets hired. I'm staying out of that one."

Cuddy could still see Chase's confused look and felt a little more clarification was due. "Chase, you will be primary attending for all incoming cases, but you will have an entire team to support you now. You can reassign cases to the other attendings and choose which roles the interns will play. We want this new structure to free up you and House to do what you both do best, and that is be hands on involved in the diagnostic process. You both should focus on the medicine and leave the rest up to your team."

"So all this entire restructure starts at the beginning of the month?" Chase asked.

"Yes, in about 10 days," replied Cuddy.

Chase got a huge grin on his face, borderline ecstatic. "Fantastic," he said walking over to the other side of the room and grabbing his coat and messenger bag.

"Where are you going?" Cuddy asked confused by the reaction.

He began to put on his coat. "My patient was just discharged, and my intern is in training next week. I'm going on vacation. You owe me about 300 hours, so I'm cashing a few in. See you on the first."

"Well the nerve," House said in mock offense as Chase walked out the door without hesitation.

"Can it House. You are capable of handling your own department for 10 days. I seem to recall you just came off your extended break." Cuddy turned to Cameron and Foreman. "Okay then, everyone's dismissed."

"Can we go on vacation?" Cameron asked with a joking smile.

"No," Cuddy said sternly. "Go back to your cushy jobs while they are still that way."

Cameron and Foreman laughed and headed back to their respective departments to start tying up loose ends.

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"Wow, this is nice. Where did you find this place?"

"Foreman recommended it. He knows where to go in the Poconos."

Natalie took a long deep breath admiring the scenery in front of her. "The view is incredible."

"I'll say," although Chase's eyes were on Natalie instead of the landscape. He wrapped his arms tightly around her waist and pulled her back close toward to him. "I'm glad you could come along on such short notice."

"Like you would have come here by yourself." She twisted her head backward and gave him a huge 'happy vacation' kiss. "So what are you going to do on your vacation? What in the world could you do with 10 whole days?"

"Not a damn thing. For the next few days, we aren't leaving this room. When we go back home, I'm getting lots of beer and movies and not leaving my apartment. My pager is off and will stay off."

She giggled at his plans. "We'll never be able to get you back to work. You'll be permanently part of the couch by that time."

"Yeah, that's a risk I'm willing to take."

She spun around to face him wearing a flirtatious leer. "Willing to risk that round bed over there?"

He returned her suggestion with his own enthusiastic gaze. "For you my dear, I'll take any chance." He picked her up in one fell swoop and carried her toward the bedroom.

They stretched out on the bed and in no time broke into wild and fervent kisses. As his supple lips moved down her neck, she had to ask the question. "Robert, what possessed you to finally take a vacation? You have worked for House for over three years and never taken one."

"I didn't want to wait anymore."

"Wait for what?"

"To have a life."

An overjoyed, satisfied smile fell on her as she looked into those gorgeous eyes and tenderly stroked the back of his neck. "You want that life with me?"

"Why wouldn't I want to be with the woman I love?"

Tears welled up in her eyes accompanying her pleasant smile. She pulled him toward her and threw them a deep kiss expressing her love as well. "Then I'm not waiting anymore either," she told him once the long smooch had broken.

His emotionally wrought face fell into his right hand while he inhaled a deep calming breath. He then let out a brief chuckle.

"What is it?" She asked sporting an amused grin, sensing his reaction was due overwhelming happiness.

"We better not let our joy show at the hospital. Heads would implode."

"Law of averages. Somebody has to be happy there."

"It might as well be us." He abruptly stopped the conversation by engaging their lips, tongue and bodies in deep passionate movements. To hell with the hospital. They were on vacation.

The End

a/n: A complete heartfelt thank you to all that read this fic and an even greater thank you to all those that sent your encouraging comments (a special thanks again to Merlin71, SpreadTheWord, and Nikelodean). I will never rule out the possibility of a sequel since this one was never supposed to happen, but as of right now I have no ideas. I had a fantastic time writing this one and I hope it was as enjoyable for you as it was for me.

For those that regularly follow my work, coming very very soon is the sequel to Take The Ducklings Bowling. This one is so far turning out to be every bit as fun and fluffy as the original. Don't want to give away the plot, but it will be every bit as unpredictable as the original. The added twist to this one will involve Huddy with Wilson thrown in for fun. Not that type of fun! Clean your minds:) Anyway, watch for it very soon if you are interested.