A/N: May contain spoilers for episode 4:2 ("The Right Stuff"). After that brief scene between House & Chase in the OR, I couldn't NOT write anything about it. Surprisingly enough (for me!), it's not slashy. :)
Theirs had been a strange relationship from the start. Chase so desperate to please, so eager for any sort of compliment or praise no matter how tiny. After a while though he'd learned not to expect such things from House, submitting instead to whatever treatment – and it hadn't been all bad – he was given.
Cameron told him – only days ago – that he had a masochistic side. They'd been sitting on her couch, wasting away the first free Saturday they'd had in years by doing nothing. She was curled into the corner of the sofa, blanket around her waist, her newly blonde hair messily pulled into a loose ponytail. He thought she looked beautiful, but he knew if he told her, she'd probably receive the words as an insult rather than a compliment and would look for some sort of hidden meaning behind them. He'd learned that it was easier to show his growing affection in different ways.
Chase had been strangely mesmerized by the infomercial on TV…more because of the simplicity and normalcy of having a lazy Saturday to watch TV than by the actual product and its apparent ability to "chop anything." But the despite his seemingly hypnotic state, he'd snapped out of it quickly at her words.
She nodded, as if confirming her words and studied him carefully. Her thumb was tucked beneath her chin, the rest of her fingers resting against her cheek, and her eyes were steady as she looked at him. He just knew, from the way she was watching him, that she was putting things together in her mind, coming to her own conclusions based on – what she thought – were logical pieces of information.
"You have a masochistic side Chase," she repeated, a slight smile gracing her lips. "And it's not like you hide it very well…yet, you seem completely unaware of it."
Eyes wide, he meant to respond, to tell her that she was crazy, but he couldn't find the words and he shut his mouth without saying a thing. Completely unaware may not have been entirely true, but she didn't need to know that. He just hadn't realized how transparent he often was. Chase was good at keeping things hidden, but at the same time, he was often glaringly obvious…especially when it came to feelings he would rather not examine.
"You know you'd probably feel better if you talked to him," she murmured. He looked up sharply and she shook her head. "I'm not suggesting hours long chats," she paused and laughed shortly. "As if that would ever happen. Just…walk by his office, say hello. Maybe…" she trailed off and he didn't prompt her to continue.
A part of him wanted to play dumb and ask her who and what she was talking about, but he knew that wouldn't do any good. They both knew. House had been the center of his universe for quite a long time now. Being separated, being fired, hadn't been easy for him, but it wasn't like he had been crying himself to sleep at night either. It was simply that things were different…not necessarily bad, but not completely good either. Something was missing, but Chase had no real idea what it was.
She shook her head and moved closer to him on the couch, reaching out to touch him comfortingly – an uncommon action for her despite her sympathetic nature. It had taken him so long to get her to this point where they had a relationship that was about more than just sex. She kissed him on the cheek and he turned, surprise bright in his eyes.
She smiled back at him, laughing softly under her breath. "You need a better ending. I don't know exactly how to get it for you because things with him are always so…unpredictable. But, I know you want something more…and I know eventually you'll find a way to get it. That's what I meant when I said you had a masochistic side…" she added, settling against him and moving the blanket so they were both beneath it now. "You put up with more than either of us did. You had to know you'd never get a compliment or praise, but I watched you try over and over."
He wanted to argue, but she shook her head and met his eyes again, silencing any protests he might have voiced. They would've been empty words anyway, because he knew she was right.
"And I know it hurt when he fired you, and that you thought it would be best to just make a clean break and walk away. But I'd like to think I know you pretty well now…and that being the case, I know you need something more. Some sort of…closure," she finished, watching him carefully.
He scoffed at her and shook his head. "You make it sound like we were dating," he muttered.
She raised her eyebrows as her lips twitched upwards into a grin she couldn't quite stop. "You know…Foreman once said that you had a bigger crush on House than even I did," she said lightly, trying hard not to laugh. "I have to wonder if he was right."
He looked at her with mock outrage for a few moments, but was unable to maintain a serious face once she started to laugh. It wasn't long after that they'd pulled the blanket over their heads, kissing and giggling like teenagers. And he put her words – and especially the truth in them – out of his mind.
Now though, despite thinking about that conversation on a regular basis since it had happened, he still wasn't sure what the right thing to do was. He wanted some sort of…closure – the word still made him roll his eyes, but nothing else seemed to fit.
But he had no clue what to do or even exactly what he was looking for. An apology? Remorse?
He crossed his arms over his chest and nearly laughed out loud. If that was what he was looking for, he was certain he'd never get it. But as he walked down the hall, passing the office he was so painfully familiar with, he knew that he wasn't looking for regret or sorrow. It was something more abstract, which strangely enough made it somehow easier to achieve.
There seemed to be no better moment than the one he had now, and despite his underlying nerves his demeanor was perfectly calm. Easy, somehow to observe, to jump in at just the right moment and give an explanation he never would've been able to come up with had it not been for years of insane hours and constant insults…and never a moment's praise. But he'd learned so much.
Eyes locked onto his with all the precision of a laser beam, and had he not been so strangely calm, Chase was certain he would've looked away. But House broke their eye contact first, leaning over to ask one of his fellowship candidates – or contestants as the case may be – to confirm Chase's presence, something he found curious. An insult and a brisk command after that and Chase felt his heart beat faster, felt as if it were only a few short months ago and nothing had changed. Instead, everything had.
"You gonna hire that guy instead of us?"
And then the look he'd never expected. He felt everything go still around him; he relaxed into the silence and he didn't look away. This was what he'd been wanting. Wanting desperately. And not just since he'd been fired. Those blue eyes locked on his, filled with an uncertainty that was probably unnerving him. Need, want…maybe even a trace of respect. Chase felt his chest loosen and he knew without a doubt what House was asking. Strange how easy it was to shake his head and not look away, acting with a strength he hadn't realized he possessed.
Because there was no denying that there was a side of him that felt that pull, that desire to go back to what he knew, to what he was unnervingly comfortable with. So Cameron had been right; he did have a masochistic side. It would've been so easy to say yes…just to please House, another attempt to gain that word of praise or gratitude. And strangely enough, that side of him was comfortable with the idea of going back to disappointment and being berated.
But he felt a surge of empowerment as House looked away. He seemed almost…regretful or frustrated. Only for a moment of course, as he quickly went back to his sarcasm and false joviality, but it had been enough.
Chase could walk away now, could let go. He felt lighter, freer…finally satisfied with the way things had turned out.
"You look happy," Cameron commented later that night as they settled into a restaurant booth.
He smiled secretly and lifted his glass of wine before taking a sip. "To closure."