Theme List

By: Oldach's Dream

Summary: Challenge story. Each chapter is based on a prompt and will have an individual plot. I'll list a pairing, if there is one, at the beginning of each chapter along with a small summary. The chapter title will be the prompt.

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: Summary pretty much explains it all. I'm doing this mostly because I'm going to be very busy very soon and I don't want to stop writing. I chose this so no one will have to wait for new chapters after cliffhangers or get discouraged if I don't update for a long time. Plus, I currently have no multi-chapter story ideas, and with this, each chapter is just a oneshot. There are 64 prompts in this challenge. So this 'story' will be complete when all the prompts are used. I'm not sticking to one specific genre, character fixation, pairing, etc. So be sure to read my summary. Oh, and don't forget to review – that's important too.


Summary: When House interviews Chase.

Pairings: None.

Category: General

Timeline: Pre-series. Obviously.

Rated: K+

Incalculable

After House came back to work – after the infarction, after Stacy left, after Wilson had left a permanent dent in sofa, after he'd grown used to the cane and the frown that seemed to never leave his face – Cuddy told him that he was going to be a department head.

"I thought Hobbes was head of Nephrology." He'd all but growled. He'd wanted to go back to his office and take a nap. Maybe Wilson was right, he'd thought, maybe it was too soon for him to be back at work.

"He is." Cuddy had dropped the professional act after only a few seconds and sighed. "Let's face it, House, you don't spend the majority if your time in Nephrology."

The now crippled man had just raised his eyebrows in slight interest.

Cuddy had sighed again, "You run around and-"

"I don't think running's gonna be an issue anymore." He'd snapped bitterly.

Cuddy shut her mouth promptly but stared at him long and hard, before speaking again. "You solve the cases no one else can solve."

"Okay…" House hadn't seen where this was going. He hadn't much cared at the time, either.

"I got a few donations," She'd explained. "Enough…enough to invest in a Diagnostic department."

"Which I'm going to be head of?" If House had sounded bemused, it's only because he had been.

A month after House had agreed to her proposal – after he had the office and the most comfortable chair he could find online - she'd dropped the bombshell about the underlings he'd have to hire – and much debate had ensued. A war of sorts erupted and in the midst of that, House almost – almost – forgot why he'd been so miserable for the last ten months.

It'd gone from five employees, to four, to eight, to ten, to one and then two. When the dust finally settled on Cuddy and House's war zone, referee Wilson was standing right there to announce the final score.

"Three fellows." He'd said. Cuddy had confirmed and within the next week the phone calls started.

It was two years, nine doctors, seventy-two cases, four lawsuits and uncountable screaming matches between him and Cuddy, later and he was still sans any permanent employees.

Both Cuddy and Wilson were sure that he was doing this on purpose, and to a degree, they were right. House didn't want employees – didn't want the responsibility of teaching.

On the other hand, if he was going to go through with this, he had to pick the best people.

Wimps, the unsure and the unprepared simply would not suffice.

He was in his office working on his 'I don't need any employees. Really.' pitch to Cuddy when he'd gotten the call from Rowan Chase.

"My son," he'd started in a pompous tone after the formal introductions had been made, "Will be coming to your hospital within the next week to interview for a position as one of your underlings." He'd said.

House had sighed, feeling worn, and told the world renowned doctor in no uncertain terms, "I'm not hiring people based on their daddies hopes and praises." He'd added, "In fact, any budding doctor who asks his father to make a call like this goes to the bottom of my-"

"Robert did not ask me to make this call." Rowan had interrupted him.

House had rolled his eyes, even if the other man couldn't see him. "That's' what they all say."

"I'm not calling you to try to get Robert a job with you!" The man with the accent had shouted, and House was glad they were several thousand miles apart, so he couldn't see how much he'd been taken aback by that. "I'm calling…" House heard him take a deep breath, "I'm calling because my son has a particular…charm…about him."

"I…don't really care about charm." House had said slowly, feeling his way carefully after the outburst.

"I believe that." And there'd been a touch of almost familiar fondness in his tone that House hadn't known what to do with. "But no matter how good his CV may be, how many glowing recommendations from other hospitals you may find, or how confident he seems, Robert is not ready for the responsibility that your fellowship would entail."

"You know, it's funny…" House had said, interest peaking, "Most parents encourage their kids. Root for them. Do all that sideline cheering soccer mom crap. You're the first call I've gotten in over a year discouraging me from hiring someone." House had paused for a moment to consider that. "Well, except that private detective from New York. Gawd, that was a fun two hours."

Rowan had sighed tiredly and House had felt rather proud – it'd been a long time since he'd made someone in another country tired and exasperated.

"Robert should not be hired for this," his tone had held an air of finality; "He needs to come back to Australia."

House had politely wrapped up the conversation – promising Rowan that he'd take his advice into account – before hanging up and then picking up the phone again and rescheduling Robert Chase's interview.

That night – for the first time since he'd agreed to hire fellows – he took another doctor's file home and read it cover to cover.

"Hi." Chase had reached his hand out and shaken House's formally before sitting down in the chair across from him.

House studied this man intently. Chiseled good looks, casual yet professional clothing, bright teeth…it wasn't much to go on.

"I appreciate this opportunity." The accent was a perk too, House thought absently. Something about diversity or patient interaction…Cuddy had been over the moon when she found out House had actually voluntarily not only not cancelled an interview at the last moment – like he'd been doing for the past few months – but upped it. She hadn't quit talking about it, and House had stopped paying attention to her praises.

"I, ah…" Dr. Chase was nervous. That was a good first step. "I worked in Sidney for-"

"I read your file." House interrupted, leaning back and raising a hand to his chin, feeling his stubble absently.

Dr. Chase nodded and opened his mouth to say something more, but House stopped him. "Don't talk." Chase looked thoroughly confused, but closed his mouth, leaned back slightly and said no more.

So they sat in silence.

The clock he had on his office wall – the one that had a picture of a different beer for every number it was supposed to represent – ticked loudly in the background. The waterfall statue thing that Wilson had gotten him – supposedly to create a soothing work environment – was trickling noticeably.

The sounds from the hospital hallway became distinctly apparent. Footsteps echoed, voices carried. On the bright side, House found out that a doctor in Radiology was having an affair with one of the male nurses. On the down side, Dr. Chase wasn't budging.

This was how he'd gotten rid of a good thirty of his former applicants. He'd told them to stop talking; they'd been quiet for a while – fourteen minutes was the max – then gave in and started chatting. House sent them all packing.

He wanted a subordinate who could follow orders.

All why they were silent his other would-be employees had been nervous, shifty eyed, noticeably uncomfortable. Some had given into particularly bothersome nervous ticks. One astoundingly irritating woman had kept popping her gum – House had just gotten up and left his office on that occasion.

But Robert Chase was doing none of the things that House normally found so irksome. He wasn't tapping his feet or drumming his fingers, he wasn't humming or chewing anything, he was sitting quietly, steadily, with a slightly far-off gaze in his eyes that House knew meant that he was daydreaming.

The older man couldn't help but be just a smidge impressed by that – daydreaming around your boss – or possible boss, as the case may be – was something with which he was intimately familiar.

It was twenty-one minutes later when House decided to step it up a notch. They'd been sitting in comfortable silence for long enough. Now it was time to sit in heavy, uncomfortable silence.

House caught Chase's eyes after only a moment of trying and didn't look away. And soon – impressively soon, though House would never admit to thinking that – Chase caught on.

So they stared at each other in silence.

Chase blinked first, but House allowed it, as he was most likely less skilled at staring contests than the older man. The next round started again after a few blinks for each participant – House was triumphant in round two, but just barely. His eyes were starting to water painfully.

They went again.

Every doctor that came through his door was marvelously talented, but House was not looking for talent alone. He himself was a doctor with a reputation for being insane, irresponsible, manipulative and always right. He had an unparalleled track record as far as solving cases went, and he knew it.

He therefore also knew that his fellowship would be held in extremely high regards.

If he'd wanted brains and a good rap sheet – he could have picked any three of the many files Cuddy had been giving him for two years.

He could have taped them all to the wall and thrown darts at them. Actually, he had picked a fellow that way once. That guy had only lasted a week and a half – but House had gotten a kick out of telling him why he'd been hired in the first place, at least. Before he'd fired him.

So he'd honed his interviewing method – or at the very least, he'd made it interesting. He made it a challenge.

And Dr. Robert chase still wasn't backing down.

They were 0 for 5 now in House's favor. When they began next, the Diagnostician could see the concentration etched on Chases' face, could practically feel how much he wanted to come out on top.

Competition was something Greg House held in high regard.

Seventy-five ticks of his beer clock later and House's eyes were burning. Twenty ticks after that, his eyes blinked before they'd received the okay from his mind and he cursed himself. He wasn't supposed to lose this game.

After blinking several more times to clear his vision, he focused his gaze enough to see Chase. The younger man was sitting before him, still, patiently, and readily. He wanted to go again. No expression of triumph lingered on his features – if there had been one at all, House couldn't detect it.

He narrowed his gaze, changing their battle setting yet again. Chase remained patient, ready to see what would come next.

Before House could figure it out, however, there was a knock on his door followed shortly by Wilson's entrance.

"How's it going?" He looked from House to Chase and back again, weariness residing in his posture, tone and voice.

The youngest man in the room looked at House questioningly now. He wanted to know if this was part of the game. He needed to know if this was another test.

House hadn't planned on his best friend's entrance, but decided to roll with it anyway.

When he spoke it felt wrong. His vocal chords were tight and his voice came out a little scratchy after over thirty minutes of non-use. "Fine." He managed evenly enough, looking occasionally at Wilson but focusing the majority of his attention on Chase. The younger man kept his expression calm. House was suitably impressed. "We're just having a little chat."

Chase couldn't hold back a grin at those words, and House filed that away for later use. Then he stopped and realized what he'd just done.

He'd made a mental note concerning this man. He'd thought briefly about how those naturally expressive eyes might come in handy later, he'd deduced that Dr. Robert Chase would probably never be able to lie to him.

He was quick in figuring out what that meant - for the both of them.

Chase's grin was gone now, he was looking at Wilson, who'd ventured far enough into the office to shake his hand and make polite introductions.

House knew the context of his little interview game was gone, but that was okay. He'd made up his mind.

"We're done here." He spoke firmly, rising to his feet and eyeing Wilson. "You owe me a Reuben."

His friend studied him carefully, eyed Chase, but chose to say nothing.

Chase stood up as well. Out of fear, respect or simply feeling uncomfortable, House wasn't sure. It scarcely mattered at this point.

He limped around his desk and fell into stride with Wilson, who started walking towards the door at House's lead, though he kept shooting worried, anxious glances over his shoulder to the Australian man still standing in House's office.

The limping man had the door opened before he turned around again and faced Chase. Wilson was standing so close to his side that their shoulders almost touched and the fear and uncertainty he was radiating almost equaled the younger doctor's.

Chase knew how hard it was to get a job with House. Wilson knew how hard it was to impress House.

House didn't think he was that hard to impress, personally, he just expected the best.

Because the best was all he bothered associating himself with. He knew this – they all knew this. So he spoke to Chase with a slight smirk etched onto his face comfortably.

"Be here by eight on Monday or you're fired."

Fin.