Summary: Christmas night

Pairings: Nada

Category: Angst/Humor

Timeline: Duckling Era

Rated: K

Linger

House was sipping the drink in front of him with only a certain amount of distain. Most of his bitterness fell away after the third glass or so. Now he was just comfortably fuzzy, floating through the night like nothing was wrong at all.

And in reality, nothing was really wrong. It was Christmas night and he was alone in a bar in downtown Jersey…but this wasn't a particularly rare occurrence for the aging Diagnostician.

Aside from a night with Wilson here or there, Greg House had been spending Christmas alone for as long as he could remember. Since Stacy left, really.

Even when he was with Stacy, he was never just with Stacy around the holidays. They'd always fly up to Ohio to spend the holidays with her brother and sister-in-law and father.

House had never much liked those occasions. He couldn't deny – looking back on it – that he had enjoyed the time with his girlfriend; but the happy family setting was always just a bit too much for him.

Too many expectations. Polite chitchat, knowing which side of the plate the fork was supposed to go on, not putting your elbows on the table, pretending to like the god awful ham or roast…no, Greg House was actually much more comfortable in this bar.

He really was. The people were quiet and – excluding the bartender every half hour or so- they left him alone. The establishment itself was warm and came with a bowl of nuts. He was, all around, a pretty happy doctor.

"I don't want to go home." The happy doctor took a moment to focus when he heard that. "I don't care, I'm a not…that drunk."

That voice had an accent… House knew that accent. And, sure enough, when he turned around enough to see the other side of the bar…there was his precious little wombat.

"Sir," a security guard that House actually recognized was gripping Chase's arm rather firmly, "I need you to leave now. You're disturbing the other customers."

House thought it was kinda funny that he hadn't noticed Chase disturbing anyone. Maybe he was drunker than he'd initially assumed.

"Nuh-uh…" he shook his head back and forth slowly, his eyes were almost comically wide. "No one's disturbed…'cept you."

"I'm kinda disturbed." House piped up. Because when he got drunk he got chatty.

"Course I'm almost always disturbed."

Both Chase and the security guard were looking at him rather oddly. The muscular man in the all-black attire because he probably hadn't been expecting anyone else to get involved.

And Chase…well, Chase just spoke for himself when he said, "House? What the friggin hell are you doin' here?"

"Merry Christmas to you, too, sunshine." He quipped, and then looked over at the bartender who knew as Rob, and said easily, "That's my wombat."

Rob held both his hands up innocently. "Don't ask, don't tell, Greg."

Chase snorted. "He called you Greg."

House snorted as well, Rob gestured with his thumb to the young Australian man, "He's gotta get outta here."

Chase laughed again, "Can I call you Greg?"

"No." House said immediately, "You can call Foreman Homes, though."

"Sherlock Holmes?" Chase asked, confused all of a sudden, scratching his head, "That's you."

"Homes." House repeated. "The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire."

"Will Smith before he was the man in black?"

"Something like that," House couldn't remember where he'd been going with this. He really hadn't felt all that drunk before he'd started talking.

"In West Philadelphia born and raised, on a playground is where I spent most of my days, relaxing…something, something, shooting B-ball up after school, when a couple of guys who were up to no good-" Chase sang goofily off key.

House was drunk. "-started making trouble in my neighborhood. Got in one little fight and my mom got scared, she said 'you're movin' with your Aunty and Uncle in Bel Aire."

"I liked the episode where he got shot." Chase commented, apparently done singing.

"Huh," House thought about it. "I liked the drug one."

"Where he cried at the end?" Chase asked and his boss nodded, "Yeah, me, too."

"That's great guys," Rob interrupted, House – and Chase, too, it seemed – had forgotten that he was there, "But we're about to close anyway, so…I think I'm gonna call a cab for you two."

House and Chase looked at each other and grinned. "Merry effing Christmas," One of them said and the other laughed.

"God, it's been forever since I saw that show." Chase shook his head.

"I know how to sing that song in French," House commented but then thought about it. "Or maybe Russian. I can't remember."

Chase laughed, took a deep breath and sighed, "I miss Aussie sometimes."

"I miss Japan sometimes," House agreed, because in his mind it was almost exactly the same thing.

"I miss my dad," Chase laughed outright after he spoke those words. "Kinda. I miss the dad that he was in my 'magination."

"I hate my dad." House countered. "I kinda miss my mom."

"My mom was drunk." Chase smiled, "I miss her when she wasn't."

"Aren't they dead?"

"Who isn't now a days?"

And they were laughing again, because it was kinda funny how everyone seemed to keep dying.

"Maybe Tritter will die," House heard himself say. "Or get really sick, and I'll be the only one that can cure him but at the last minute I'll say I can't then Jimmy will find an X-ray in my office, realize I could have and be all…dis-a-ma-pointed,"

"That's not a word." Chase informed him. "And if Tritter was sick you would cure him."

"Probably." House nodded, then looked around, the bar was almost empty and Rob was on the phone behind the counter. "Hey," he suddenly realized something. "When did you get here?"

"About twenty-seven years ago," Chase nodded solemnly, "But I'm thinking about going back. This life sucks."

House snorted, "At least we get higher brain function. Imagine being a dung beetle."

"I used to work with a guy who looked like a dung beetle," Chase said thoughtfully.

"Who, Homes?"

"Nah, Sid." Chase shook his head. "Sid was creepy."

"Dung beetle creepy," House agreed. Sometimes it was fun to be drunk.

"Your cab's waiting outside," Robert appeared before them to tell them this. "I could only get one. Christmas night, the company's backed up."

"Of course," Chase and House both nodded as if that made all the sense in the world and they weren't at all lost.

"Where do you live?" House inquired as they slowly moved to put their jackets on.

"Huh," Chase paused and thought about it, eventually gesturing randomly, "Over there, somewhere."

"Cool." House agreed, "Me too. I think."

"Give the cab driver your license." Rob apparently overheard this conversation. Both men looked at him strangely.

"Is he a stalker?" Chase inquired easily, sitting back down on the bar stool and putting his left shoe on.

"Does he wanna shoot me?" House wondered when exactly Chase had taken his left shoe off.

"Oh, does he wanna steal our identities?" Chase, it seemed, couldn't remember the intricate complexities of bunny ears through the loop.

Rob just shook his head, "Your address." He said. "So he can get you home."

"But no one's at home." Chase left his shoe untied and stood back up. ":Let's go to your place and watch the Fresh Homes of Bel Aire."

House shrugged, "Sure."

It took them ten minutes to find their taxi, another twenty to pull out House's wallet and extract his license, seven minutes and eighteen seconds to get from the random street they'd ended up on back to House's apartment and exactly twelve hours and fourteen minutes before James Wilson let himself into that same apartment and found House on the couch and Chase curled up in the recliner chair, both sound asleep and drooling lightly.

The whole apartment smelt like vomit and alcohol, the TV played Nick-at-Nite reruns of, ironically enough, The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire, in the background.

Wilson turned off the TV and smiled sadly as he watched the two lonely men shift in their sleep almost simultaneously.

"Merry Christmas, House." He chuckled to himself as his gaze drifted to Chase. "At least you weren't alone this year."