So about five years ago, I dared myself to write a HousexChase story. Essentially, that's how this story came into being, but more than that, it was a choice that made me a better writer and a better person. I still had some clinging homophobia from years of being told that homosexuality was a sin, but I was getting deeper and deeper into fandom and being exposed to ships and attitudes and information that was all making me question those beliefs. It was a weird time for me…I'd started to read slash, and I enjoyed it, and I was seeing them as the love stories they were, but I felt guilty for that, because my head was still nagging at me that it was wrong.

SO. In the midst of all that, I'd started to read a little House/Chase because I was trying to avoid House/Wilson(longer story, doesn't matter; I love House/Wilson now 3) and because I was curious about the ship because I just couldn't see it at all, and as I read I was realizing that at that point, post season 3 ,most of the House/Chase fic out there was just sex. I don't know what the ship is like now…I've been away so long and I've not yet started to read fic again because I haven't finished the show. I'm rewatching from the beginning, so I'm only in season 2 right now. BUT ANYWAY, the point is, on where I spent all my fanfic time in those years, I couldn't find a good House/Chase love story.

So I decided to write a House/Chase love story, because I didn't ship it, and if I could delve into it and make it feel real to me, explore just how and why they might actually come together, if I could make myself ship it when I didn't even understand it going in, maybe I could write a good story. In some ways, I feel I succeeded. I'm proud of my plot, and proud of a lot of the dialogue, but I'm most proud of the fact that I did it…that I branched out and did something that made me uncomfortable as a writer and a person, and it changed me. Not only did I become an actual House/Chase shipper, but it pushed me to question my beliefs even further, a road that led me to where I am today- a Christian who 100% supports equality and gay rights. So I'm sorry this author's note is so long but…I just have a lot of feelings about the fic and about what my work on it did for my life.

Here's what I didn't love about the fic, looking back: It's not as well written as the things I write now; of course it's not- I was 19. I'm 25, and I have written novel length fics in between now and then. I absolutely do not agree with anyone who says writing fic is practice for writing 'real' work; that's bullshit. Whether or not I ever publish I will write fanfic all my life because it makes me happy. But, I do feel that all writing is practice. You learn as you do, and with every story, fanfic or original work, you get better. Part of what I want to do in editing this fic before I finish it is to polish it up, bring it up closer to the level of stuff I write now without utterly redoing it. It'll probably still have a slightly different style about it, but I can live with that. Second, I have to address the places in this fic where my hesitation held the boys back. Like I said, I was still struggling with a bit of homophobia, as well as some lingering doubts about whether I should be writing sex scenes…so gay sex scenes gave me all sorts of trouble, lmao I wanted to write them and I was incredibly reluctant to write them, so the result was that I glossed over a lot of aspects of their relationship, which is not ok. They're practically living together at a couple points here; we need to be seeing what their relationship is really like. (Not to mention, I used similar avoidance with the Cameron and Stacy scenes…those are important events and we really should be seeing the thoughts of both House and Chase, but I avoided those scenes because they made me uncomfortable. One thing I have learned about being a writer is that you have to write the thing that makes you uncomfortable, you have to write it even if it makes you need a drink or if it makes you go outside and cry.

There won't be any more hiding, here. I'll tell the same story, but I'll tell it in full, and I'll tell it to the end. It shouldn't take me too long to edit through these chapters, and then I'll be writing new ones, which'll be interesting because I only know the very last scene. I don't quite know how we get there, or when that scene takes place. I'll figure it out as I go. :) Thank you to everyone who's stood by this story and remained interested in it, even when it seemed like I may never come back. I may fandom hop like a rabbit on crack, but I will always, always come back to the fandoms I love. 3

Ok, thank you if you read all of that, lmao On to the story, XD


He wasn't sure where it came from, in the beginning. Robert Chase was not, as so many people had thought either privately or in hushed whispers, gay. He was attracted to women, loved women, had never been attracted to a man, sexually or otherwise. Not that he really thought there was anything wrong with it, not really, he'd wavered on that even when he'd been in seminary, but still, it wasn't an issue for him. It wasn't personal; the answers didn't matter so much. He was straight; he was sure of it.

So in the beginning, he told himself he was just tired. How that explained it, he'd never know, but it was easy. Exhausting as their job was, he could make it fit. If his heart fluttered when House brushed his hand giving him an x-ray, he must just be feeling a little dizzy, overworked. If his chest constricted as he looked up into those too blue eyes, it was, really, just the exhaustion, maybe even a little frustration that House was so close, so disrupting. If his breath caught at the particular intensity of some comment or other, well, couldn't it mean he was just tired of hearing House talk? His frustration climbed with each incident heaped on the list, climbed until he found himself tensing every time House walked by, unsure if he wanted their arms to brush or if he wanted that solid glass table between them. He was tired, he was bored, he was nervous, he was anything, anything, but attracted to House.

He couldn't be attracted to House.

Unfortunately for his sanity, 'couldn't' is a relative word. Reality is never what it seems, and anything written off as an impossibility is almost sure to be disproven at some point or other. Eventually, even his careful rationalizations had to stop. He couldn't pinpoint the hour, couldn't even give a date, only knew that there was a time he rationalized, and a time he stopped. The trigger could have been anything, could have been the first morning he woke up hard and drowsy and half sure his dream continued and House was still next to him, or it might have been far simpler than that. The last of his quiet fear might have melted on an easy day, quiet and boring, newspaper folded open to the crossword as he counted letters to the steady thump of an oversized tennis ball against the wall.

His surrender was inevitable and therefore meaningless, or so House would have said. No man alive had a choice about the way he felt. The gap between realization and action, that, that was a choice.


Detox

"This is insane." Chase stabbed his salad a little harder than necessary, his fork missing the lettuce he aimed for and instead shoving it across the plastic bowl.

"No more insane than any of the things House does." Foreman shrugged, took a moment to snag a bite off his chicken salad sandwich. "She's just trying to make him see he's got a problem. You know House communicates in bets; I guess she thought this'd be a good way to do it."

Chase let the fork slip from his fingers, dropping to slick lettuce still cushioning the bowl. "Yeah, but House does what he does to save a patient. Cuddy's not saving anybody; she's just screwing with him for the sake of proving she's right."

"She could be saving House's liver, somewhere down the line." God, even Foreman's grip on his coke was irritating, so light, his hands relaxed and fluid. Of course he could smile, of course he could eat, could lean back and rest easy in a chair that wasn't even comfortable. Foreman didn't give a damn about House at all beyond how good his name would look on a resume. Forget empathy for his pain, so long as their case load and his success rate didn't drop, Foreman wasn't likely to care if House conducted the differential without any legs at all.

"Oh come on. Do you really think he'll stop? He'll win his month off clinic duty or he'll crack and he won't, but either way do you think House is really gonna give up the Vicodin?"

Foreman sighed, tipped his head toward Chase as he dusted crumbs off his fingers. "No. Hell no."

"Exactly. This isn't productive; he's suffering for nothing."

"And making us suffer."

Chase fought a grimace, half succeeded. Of course, what did House's pain matter when Foreman was enduring the clearly unbearable irritation of getting his head snapped off? Contrary to what Foreman might think, his time with House hadn't made him immune to the yelling. He might hate it, but House's occasional rage was familiar, bearable. What Chase couldn't take had come after, in a glimpse through glass of House as he leaned on the wall. He'd watched until his eyes burned, and before he blinked, he'd caught the quiver of House's sleeve as his arm started to shake.

"Sure. We're suffering. We'll get through it. This kid, on the other hand, might not. He needs House, not us and a cheap imitation."

"I hope Cuddy realizes that before he's dead. "

Chase nodded, agreed, continued on as the conversation shifted from their case problems to the new Hispanic nurse in cardiology who had just left the table next to them. It was all autopilot, his mind drifting upstairs to House's office, the pain Chase knew he must be in, the question of whether or not he'd be too stubborn to take Vicodin if Chase brought him a script. Foreman talked about the plans he had for the weekend if they resolved the case by then, and Chase tried and failed to quell the rambling list of facts his mind had begun to supply on nerve damage and muscle death.

Maybe if he came at it just the right way he could talk House into going home, calling in for the differentials.

After dinner, he let Foreman head alone for the lab, passing off an excuse about a run to the bank he couldn't put off. Everybody lied, after all, even good Catholic boys. Or, at least, formerly good Catholic boys.

Alone, he headed up to House's office.


House sat alone in the dark, dragged down by exhaustion just enough that he'd missed the soft sound of Chase inching open the door, the muted clatter of the blinds as Chase parted them. He hadn't properly stirred even after Chase crept across to lean against the desk, though he was far from still. Chase watched, tracking the way his hand gripped his leg even in sleep, the soft murmurs that escaped his lips, the tilt of his torso to the right. He was in too much pain to function, too much pain to even sleep properly. Sure, if Chase was honest, he knew the detox was part of it; he wasn't blind. Drug dependence, however, wasn't the same thing as drug addiction. Physiologically that might be splitting hairs, but intent mattered. House needed those pills; any high he got from them was an unavoidable side effect. No matter what, that was what Chase had to believe.

House's fingers clenched against the fabric of pants, blunt nails dragging, half catching on the rarely distinguishable lip that Chase knew had to mark the crater in his thigh. His breath caught, and Chase pushed away from the desk.

"House?"

House twitched, half whimpered but slept on. Chase swallowed against the pressure in his throat, crossed the last few feet and let his hand fall to House's shoulder. His touch was light and still House jolted awake, angry eyes coming to rest on Chase after a quick flicker forward. After so long, Chase was no stranger to House's glares. He'd been the recipient of a few truly scathing stares, had felt the flinch and absent wonder if his will was current that scorched him his first few months on the job. He might not be on intimate terms with House, but he and House's rage had gone a few rounds.

This look, it couldn't even muster the firepower to make Chase let go.

"Sorry. I just…you weren't sleeping well. I thought…"

"I'm in pain! What the hell do you expect?" House jerked free of Chase's touch, reached for his cane only to wince and fall back, gripping at his shoulder. There had to be cramping, muscles strained by the use of his cane that he'd never noticed while with his Vicodin to keep him separate from such trivial pains.

Before he could think better of it, Chase stepped closer again. "Relax. I'm sorry I bothered you but don't get up, alright?" Surprisingly enough, House nodded, slightly, half leaned back before he turned and hooked the trash can with his cane, pulling it over far enough to vomit shakily into it. His left arm braced against the wall shook a little harder than Chase remembered from hours ago. His skin was pale, eyes ringed so dark they almost looked bruised.

It was too much for Chase to bear. His hand fell to House's shoulder again, massaged it soothingly. Beneath his palm he could feel House shiver, felt it bleed into a little increased pressure until House was leaning into him and away from the wall, shifting back little by little until he reclined in the chair again. As his head settled back against the headrest, his eyes fluttered closed. Entranced, Chase grew a little bolder, kneading deep into knotted muscle close to House's collar. His head tilted back, throat bared, and Chase dug the nails of his free hand into his palm to try and quell his racing heart. If he wanted to keep this up, he'd have to keep his eyes on his own hand, on House's shoulder or his leg, maybe even on the rise and fall of his chest. Anywhere, anywhere but the expanse of bare skin at his throat that trailed down to his collar, the dark of stubble and the aching curiosity that came from not knowing how it would feel against his lips.

Every few seconds, House's breath seemed to grow a little more even, until Chase held his own and reached his left hand up to lay the back of it tentatively against House's forehead. His skin was clammy.

"House, if I got you some Vicodin-"

"No." He said it soft, eyes still closed, head shaking weakly. "I want that month off the clinic."

"This isn't worth it!"

"Freedom has a high price."

"This is insane. At least something for the nausea."

"No pills."

"House." He was a goddamn idiot. Most people, they might have been willing to endure pain to get off narcotics. House was the only one he could think of willing to do it out of sheer spite. "You don't have to prove anything, you-"

"Either shut up, or leave."

Chase licked his lips uncertainly, mouth suddenly dry. House had, in a strange way, invited him to continue. How the hell could he pass that up? He could do this much to help, at least. House had enjoyed the massage the day before, but he'd been half sure that was only due to the ridiculously beautiful woman who gave it. At the time he'd been jealous, but if this worked...

Chase gave a last squeeze to House's shoulder before dropping to his knees, his movements slow and hesitant as he settled his hand flat against House's thigh. Slowly, but not quite slowly enough. House tensed, his hand shooting out to grab Chase's wrist. Still, his eyes didn't open, and though Chase's breath came out a little shaky, he didn't pull back.

"Wait, it helped yesterday, didn't it? It makes sense, if a massage can ease the muscle, eases the pain." Or the endorphins induced by the massage would make him feel like the pain was eased; either way, he didn't stand to lose anything for the sake of the attempt.

House was either in too much pain or too sick to argue. His grip went slack, and Chase pressed down, tentative until he felt out the edges of the old wound. They'd taken more than he expected. The hole was jagged, ridged with uneven skin that had knotted itself into painful scar tissue, though that had to be a drop in the ocean compared to the pain the nerve damage itself could cause. He started slow, his tracing movements circular, pressure increasing as he sought out those places where he could clearly feel the damaged muscle beneath, stretched taut.

House moaned, whisper soft, his fingertips brushing Chase's arm as he pulled his hand completely away to give Chase free rein. God, this was going to take reserves of self-control he didn't know he had, the kind they'd sworn back in seminary would be their salvation from sin. He'd never been all that good at resisting temptation, and he sure as hell couldn't deny the heat that had shot through his body at that sound. It made his head swim with a dozen ways to erase the context, to imagine how that sound would feel instead as a vibration against his tongue.

He couldn't let himself dwell on it, not here, not when this was in itself enough and more than he would've expected. There was, after all, intimacy in this too, in the way House let him touch, let his fingers probe and search, the way he seemed to rise just a little here and there into Chase's still steady fingers. At the press of the heel of his palm House sighed, and Chase felt a surge of affection for him so intense he thought stupidly that if he could, now would be the moment he'd wrap House up in his arms, now, while he was too limp to protest much.

He's only letting you this close because he's in pain, you idiot. He's using you. He had to remember, had to keep it in mind because, after all, intent mattered. His, and House's. He was willing enough to be used, but he couldn't let himself be fooled.

Soon, House's steady breathing told Chase he had dropped off to sleep. Peacefully, this time. Chase pushed himself up from the flow, wincing a bit at the protestations of his knees. He could feel the imprint of the carpet, but House was limp in that chair, arm hanging over the side. That would have been worth another hour on the floor, easy.

He was out hard, enough that he didn't stir when Chase moved to step away. After resisting so much, the temptation to touch was too great. He kept it light, just the pads of his fingers against House's cheek because in case he did wake, in case he asked, it was nothing, nothing but shifting his head over so his neck wouldn't hurt(though he didn't dare actually try to move him, not an inch).

Mumbling in his sleep, House turned into the touch, nuzzling against his hand before going still again. Chase froze, breath caught in his chest for a dizzying 30 seconds or so before he could bring himself to draw his hand away. He flexed his fingers, bit his lip and counted off another minute or so, though there was nothing to wait for. House was asleep. He didn't know what he was doing; obviously. Could have been anyone there, nothing more than a response to stimulus. At most, he'd stirred up an old memory.

Looking down, his head told Chase he should've seen only his mother, passed out on the couch with a flask trailing from her fingers, but the whisper of it's not like that; he's not like her was louder. He thought instead of pre-med, a few months in Sydney of waking up next to a girl who stayed up late and slept in, a musician who'd still be curled in sunbeams in his bed when he popped in around noon. It had always made him smile to see her there, sometimes with the sleeves of his shirt swallowing her arms, falling down over her hands. She'd been so beautiful then, but here House was, fully clothed and untouchable and in his damn office chair and Chase's chest still hurt, his ribs too tight. The way the lines on his face had smoothed just a little, the limp fall of his wrist…

It was better. It was better, and it shouldn't have been, and he was a fucking idiot. Snap out of it, Chase; for God's sakes.

Shaking his head to clear it, he slid from the room without a sound.


5 Days Later

As usual, Chase was the last one of the underlings to leave the office. He passed House on his way out, sprawled in his chair, headphones in. He'd had his drugs back a day already and still he was basking in the glory of it. Just this evening, Chase had caught him popping an extra pill, half hidden after a bite of sandwich. They could only hope his good mood would last a week or so. "G'night, House."

House looked up, slid his hand in his pocket and pulled out his iPod, pausing it. "What?"

Chase shrugged. "Just saying goodnight. I'm heading home."

"Last one to leave…nothing to go home to, but then neither do they. Just slow, or is there something else you wanted to say?"

Yes. "No."

"Ok." Chase's hand was on the door when he spoke again. "Would you really have brought me Vicodin?" For a moment, Chase considered pointing out that rather than merely a sign of reluctant patients, the phenomenon of the doorknob question seemed a base human trait. He licked his lips, hesitated, decided against it.

"What?"

"The other day, would you really have brought me Vicodin if I'd agreed?"

Chase stalled, one finger tapping on the glass. He knew his answer to this would be important. "I…yeah. I would've." He should have elaborated more, but it was all he could say. He looked over at House, almost certain he could see the wheels turning, see House filing him away as a drug connection. He wasn't surprised to find he didn't much care.

"Foreman tried."

That, he hadn't been expecting. "Foreman? Not Cameron?"

"Shocking, isn't it? She's the only one who didn't. I'll have to try to figure out what that says later. Right now, I'm trying to figure out you." House cut his eyes at him, a dark edge in them, a slight grin on his face. "Like where you learned how to give a massage."

Chase looked away, heart thudding. He loved and hated the way House was looking at him. If House knew…God, he'd never hear the end of the teasing. "See you tomorrow." He was out the door before House could say anything else.