"Ali! I'm home!" Robert Chase called as he stepped into the house, a large smile on his face. It only widened when he saw his six month-old twins, Aubrey and Bridget, sitting on the living room rug. Allison Chase, Robert's wife of nearly two years emerged from the kitchen, an apron draped on her slender frame. He hugged and kissed her soundly.
"How can I help you?" he asked, brushing flour from her cheek.
"Watch the girls for a bit?" she asked. "I think Aubrey might be cutting teeth," she said, turning back to her dinner preparations. Robert sat between the girls on the floor and pulled Aubrey onto his lap. She did seem a little lethargic and there was a certain sparkle missing from the blue-green eyes staring into his own. He felt her forehead comparing her temperature to Bridget's.
"She does seem a bit warm," he said.
They were just settling the girls into their highchairs for dinner when the phone rang.
"Robert Chase," he answered, shifting Aubrey to get a better hold on the phone.
"Dr. Chase, this is Dr. Lisa Cuddy from Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. I have a proposal for you." Robert was stunned to say the least.
"Dr. Cuddy," On hearing Robert say the name of their former boss' boss, Allison's head snapped up, her eyes searching his.
"House is… he's out of control. He came within minutes of killing his last two patients, permanently injuring one of them. He needs someone else to keep him anchored a bit." Aubrey began to whine for her dinner, so Allison passed him her food. He shifted around again to hold the phone under his chin, and he began feeding Aubrey.
"You do know there isn't a human being alive who can control House, right?" he said. He heard Cuddy sigh.
"Yes," she admitted, "I am acutely aware of that fact, but, Chase, PPTH needs you. You have one of the most amazing diagnostic minds in the country. I'd like to offer you a position as a diagnostic attending."
"What about the others?" Robert asked, extremely aware of the fact that his favorite former college was sitting across the table from him.
"Foreman has a cushy job at Mercy in Chicago and I can't find a number for Cameron. If you know of a way to get a hold of her, the offer extends to her as well." Chase almost couldn't hold back his laughter.
"How soon do you need my answer?" he asked.
"As soon as you can get me one."
"There is someone I have to talk with about this. I can get you my answer by the end of the week, if that's okay."
"Sure, thank you, Dr. Chase."
"Thank you, Dr. Cuddy." Robert hung up the phone. Allison looked up into his eyes.
"What did she want?" she asked.
"Cuddy wants us to come back as attending. Both of us." Robert answered. Allison stared at him.
"Did something happen to House?" she asked. Any other time, Robert would have worried that the concern she showed was a sign of a lingering affection for House, but he knew better. In some strange way House was a friend and both Robert and Allison would be concerned if something happened to the crippled diagnostician.
"He's fine, physically. Cuddy says he's gotten out of control, come close to losing patients, she wants us to come back and act as a kind of buffer, I guess." Robert shrugged and continued to feed Aubrey. They each sat in silence, considering the events. Robert was the first to break the silence.
"I do miss Princeton," he admitted.
"Me too," Allison whispered.
"We should think about the girls," Robert said.
"Princeton has very good schools; the hospital is in a very great neighborhood." Allison argued. Robert was going to respond, but at that moment Aubrey threw up all over him. Robert quickly cleaned her up and pulled his own shirt off. Aubrey refused to eat more, instead, she fussed and cried, refusing to be comforted. Robert took her from the high chair and cradled her to his chest, rocking her gently as he circled the living room. Allison tried to finish feeding Bridget her dinner, but the younger twin was distracted by her sister's plight.
"Ali, can you bring me the thermometer?" Robert asked, trying to keep his voice steady. His attempt failed and Allison practically ran to the bathroom to retrieve the device. She returned and handed it to Robert, who tried to insert it into Aubrey's ear but failed because she began thrashing to avoid it. Allison took the thermometer from Robert and he shifted so his arm held Aubrey's head still against his chest, allowing Allison time to measure her temperature. The confinement made her even more angry and she began screaming at the top of her lungs.
"Shh," Robert whispered, desperately trying to comfort her.
"102.3. High for a teething fever," Allison said.
"Let's give her a dose of Tylenol, see how she does," Allison nodded mutely. Robert looked down at the fear in her eyes and pulled her into a one armed hug.
"She's going to be fine Ali."