Disclaimer: Not mine, please don't sue.

Author's note: This is about child abuse.If this bothers you, please don't read. Feedback is very welcome, but you were warned so please don't flame me just because you don't like the theme.

He sat alone in the Diagnostics lounge after raiding House's desk for the bottle of expensive scotch he knew his boss kept there. House would be seriously pissed at him for drinking it, but tonight, he just didn't care. Brushing is blond hair behind his ear, he flopped his head back against the wall as he took his first drink. The amber liquid burned down his throat and made his head swim, as unaccustomed to alcohol as he was. He only drank on one day a year, this day. He would drink until the memories were gone, until the pain they brought faded to the dull throb he was used to.

He closed his blue-green eyes, not yet glazed with intoxication, and let the images flood him. The sharp sting of the occasional open-handed slap, the more frequent thud of an adult-sized fist slamming into his child-sized body. The bruises quickly forming around the area of the impact. There had been no fear, because he didn't know enough to be afraid. Things had always been this way, seemed they always would.

He took another drink of the scotch, and felt his body melt bonelessly into the soft material of the couch, almost as if it could give him some protection from the pain of the past. His blue dress shirt was unbuttoned, and hung loosely revealing the thin white t-shirt clinging to his thin body. The badly-clashing yellow tie had been discarded much earlier, knowing his plan for tonight, and he was as comfortable as he was able to get.

The memories flooded faster and faster. His child-sized body grew bigger, his own fists grew much bigger than the ones that hit him, but fighting back was not an idea that had occurred to him. Just as he had for the previous fourteen years, he took every blow, every harsh word, every wish that he had never been born with a lowered head and a wish of his own along the same lines. He watched the bruises slowly heal, fading from dark blue-purple to the sickly greenish-yellow then disappear completely only to be replaced with fresh ones on a matter of days.

She was always smart enough to never hit him where the bruises could be seen, his chest, stomach, legs, upper arms. But there was so rarely a time when he had no bruises at all, and after her death, when the last of the bruises faded for good, he had almost felt naked without them. He was very good at blocking out the pain, but the marks themselves were his only assurance that she hadn't abandoned him too, that he wasn't completely alone in the world. In the days after she left him as well, he had hit his thigh or his chest repeatedly, making the bruises himself, taking comfort in the fact that he still bruised, that he could still feel the pain when so much of him was already numb. They reminded him that he was still alive.

House had asked him once why he hated his father. His reply had been that he didn't hate him, that he had loved him until he realized that it hurt a lot less to just not care. It had sounded true to House, had sounded true even in his own ears. But it wasn't. Because he couldn't NOT care. Bruises, broken fingers, blood in his urineā€¦that wasn't what hurt. What hurt was the day his mother hadn't laid a finger on him, the times she came to his soccer games, the time she had listened to him after he broke up with his first girlfriend and actually seemed concerned about his feelings, the time she had taken him to the World Cup match against Croatia because his father had bought him tickets, then been suddenly called out of town. The few dozen moments he had locked away tight in his memory in place of the hundreds or thousands normal people had. The ones he only allowed out to play through his mind on this one day out of the year.

364 days out of the year, he was Dr. Chase. Smart, guarded. Compassionate enough to be a good doctor, detached enough to avoid being hurt or attracting any more crap from House. He played a part, an actor in a role. Only this day did he allow himself to be Robbie, the hurt little boy, hiding his bruises and making up stories when one was accidentally seen. One day a year, he let the pain that built up flood loose in a haze of alcohol. He turned up the bottle of scotch only to realize it was empty.

He cursed quietly, and went back to House's desk, hoping for another hidden stash. When all other options failed, he tugged experimentally at the bottom drawer, the one that was always locked. He was surprised to see that it opened without struggle. Inside was a bottle of the finest Australian whiskey. A smile crossed his lips as he picked it up, and a note floated to the floor.

Chase,

You owe me a hundred bucks. A hundred and fifty if you

drank my scotch too.

House

A small part of his mind stored away this act of kindness, this act of UNDERSTANDING, his misanthropic boss would deny until his dying day for another day when he was either in the mood to analyze House or when he was having a particularly bad self-esteem day. Tonight was for more serious things. He took a drink of the treasure he had found, and the new liquid slid down his throat smooth as water. House had good taste, he could give him that.

The last time his mother had hit him, he had finally hit back. Fifteen years of sucking his head, of hiding bruises, of being the punching bag she used to take out all the frustrations both his father and the alcohol left her with finally built up inside him and when he caught his breath from the blow to his diaphragm, he drew back his hand and slapped her, hard. She froze in her tracks, staring at him with cold, cold eyes. Everything that had been his mother was gone from them. She turned from and walked away from him, before he could even drop to his knees to beg for forgiveness, to tell her she could do whatever she wanted to him if she just wouldn't leave, wouldn't abandon him like his father had. Two weeks later, he found her dead. She had abandoned him, leaving him all alone in the world. His father had tried to make it up to him, but he wanted none of it. He was on his own now.

For fifteen years, he had done this. Sat alone in whatever passed for home at the time and got pissed drunk. Then got back up the next morning and went on with his life. This year, after working all day to save a twenty-year-old woman and the baby she delivered today from a very rare infection, he just couldn't stand the thought of going back to his tiny apartment. Besides, he thought, this office is more home than that is anyway. Feeling an impulse he hadn't given in to in years, he shed the dress shirt and pulled up the sleeve of his t-shirt. Tensing up his left bicep as much as he could, he clamped down on it as hard as he could with his right hand. He gripped tighter as he felt the fragile capillaries burst, and the blood begin leaking to the skin. By the time he let go, the bluish tint around the area was darkening, and he stared at it dispassionately. He felt a little better. Less naked.

He watched the clock on the wall tick the last two minutes to midnight, then took one last drink from the bottle his boss (his friend) had provided, and laid down on the couch. His watch beeped midnight, and he sighed, glad this day was over for this year. He settled in to try to sleep. "Happy Mother Day, Mum," he muttered as he drifted into sleep.