During Human Error (episode where Chase gets fired), when House leaves that message going "If you know the results of the PET scan, give me a call..." Chase calls back, and:
The person on the other end took a deep breath. "It's Chase."
"Dr. Chase," he said brightly, "How are ya?"
"Look. I've taken a lot from you these past three years."
It was obviously a rehearsed speech, so House decided to interrupt it. "Do you like Cracker Jacks, or d'you think plain popcorn is better?"
"Um- what? Listen, I just wanted to say-"
"-Because I've always found Cracker Jacks a little too sweet, don't you think? Almost like they're just an… accident at the popcorn factory." He looked up, beaming at Wilson and Cuddy. "It's Chase," he explained without bothering to cover the receiver.
"Talk to him," Wilson hissed, sounding about as angry as he ever could. The two of them turned and left.
House sighed. "All right, go ahead. You've taken a lot from me these past three years…" he prompted.
"Yes." Chase picked up the thread of his speech and continued on from there. "And so I think I'm entitled to this one thing in return. I'm not asking you change your mind. All I want is to know why – why are you getting rid of me? Tell me the truth, and I'll go away quietly." He paused. "And I'll tell you the result of the PET scan."
House rolled his eyes, not that he thought Chase could see it over the phone. "You're not going to not tell me the result of the PET scan," he scoffed.
"I absolutely am. You fired me; clearly you don't think you need my input."
"She could die."
"Don't confuse me with Cameron," Chase said coldly. "Besides, I trust you. You're going to figure this out with or without my help."
Was this his idea of revenge? Humiliating his boss and making him beg for input? House winced and rubbed his temples. "Fine – PET scan first, talking later." In the course of the "talking" maybe he could get Chase to work through the differential with him.
"All right." A long pause. "But you have to be honest. I realize that might be impossible for you under ordinary circumstances, so if you like, we can get drunk first."
House cocked his head. It could be fun to get drunk with Chase – if he was this needy when he was sober, imagine what might come out of his mouth after a few shots of tequila. "PET scan first, drinking second, talking third. Agreed?"
"Okay… she has a hot spot in her left arm. Humerus. Nothing in her head, her legs… just the one. I'll pick you up at eight. We can't hit the bars any earlier than that or we'll look like a couple of alkies."
"Shouldn't you be watching your spending now that you're unemployed? We'll drink at my house, it's cheaper."
"Fine, I'll meet you there. Eight. Call me if you hit any more dead ends with the patient."
That night, quarter of eight, House was still in his office. Someone opened the door without knocking. "I figured you'd still be here."
House swiveled around in his chair. "Dr. Chase! What a surprise."
"You weren't even planning on showing up, were you? Come on – it's well after hours, we can get back on it tomorrow."
"We? I fired you, remember?"
"You're still here, meaning you haven't solved the case yet, meaning what you came up with isn't working, meaning you could use another idea. I started this one and I'd like to see it through. Now, is she stable til morning?"
House nodded, then stood slowly from his desk. "All right, let's get this over with."
They started off discussing the case – House in an armchair, Chase perched uncomfortably on the edge of the couch. Eventually, some drinks later, House had thrown his leg over the arm of his chair and was gesturing copiously with his cane. Chase had slumped back in the couch. They were still discussing the case.
Several drinks later, Chase had slid onto the floor and House had moved to a footstool, the better to access the vast array of Chinese food and half-finished drinks that littered the coffee table. When he gave a loud burp and looked surprised with himself, Chase finally deemed it time to move in for the kill.
"Now let's go – you promised to tell me the truth. Why did you fire me?"
"Couple reasons," House hedged. Chase gestured for him to continue, so he rolled his eyes and made an uncoordinated grab for the fullest bottle. "They'll cost you… three shots. Each."
"House!" But Chase poured out the liquor. "All right: go."
"You know I like you better than Foreman," House began, and paused.
"Can't say you make it obvious. But thank you."
"You're welcome. And you have to know you're more useful. Wrong slightly less often."
"Again, thanks." Chase drank one of the shots and made a face.
"So, my thought is… because you know," he added as an aside, "That ninety-nine percent of my waking time is spent feeling sorry for myself… so my thought is: considering how annoying it was to have Foreman leaving… imagine how bad it would be if you took off. I decided not to sit around and let it happen."
Chase thought about it for a while. "That's what Wilson told me," he said at last. "But I want to hear it from you – with the word."
"You heard me. Annoyance isn't what you're afraid of. Give me the real word." He drank the other two shots that had been poured for him, and handed House the bottle.
House took a sip. "If you know already…"
"I want to hear it. Don't be chicken."
House took a bigger sip. "Hurt," he said with a wild motion that showered Chase in tequila. "Happy?"
"Thank you. Yes." He sipped his beer, finding it a relief after all the hard liquor. "Would it be pushing my luck to ask for another reason?"
House shook his head and slurred, "No way. The next one's seriously embarrassing."
"Embarrassing?" Chase snorted ungracefully. "I'm about to vomit all over my boss's living room floor, how's that for embarrassing?"
House opened another beer. "Former boss." He looked over in time to see Chase's face fall, and winced. "That was low, sorry. See what I mean?"
"What you mean?"
House realized that his comment could make no sense to anyone not privy to his inner monolog. "I mean I-…" he frowned. "Why am I doing all the work? You say it." Chase just looked confused, so he rolled his eyes and, gesturing sloppily, reminded: "This is your… was your job! I give you a couple of clues, and you put together a differential. Come on, let's go. We just said that ninety-nine percent of the time I'm feeling sorry for myself. Right? Then what's next?"
"You want me to…" Chase let out his breath slowly and tried his best to focus. "Fine. One percent – that leaves one percent."
"Oh God – call Johns Hopkins – I think we just proved that alcohol doesn't prevent the application of basic math!"
"Shut up. All right, so one percent of the time you're not feeling sorry for yourself. Meaning, during that time, you… realize your life's really not so bad?"
"Sounds like me all over."
Chase was attempting to take a sip of beer, but at that he started laughing and spit it all over himself. "No, you're right. All right, then, you think your life sucks – but you don't feel sorry for yourself. You don't because you… think… that you deserve it," he realized.
House had started playing with his cane. "I believe the correct term is hating oneself."
"I don't follow. On days you feel sorry for yourself you foresee the possibility of being hurt, I get it. But on days when you hate yourself, you…?" He sighed. "House, I'm three sheets to the wind – you're going to have to tell me."
"What do you care – one more shot and I probably won't even remember any of this tomorrow!"
"That's the idea." House considered. "Four shots. Two now, I tell you, and then the other two. Agreed?"
"Jesus Christ, I can't do four more shots!"
"Then I guess you'll never know."
"Oh… pour them."
House did, spilling almost as much as he poured, and then swigged right from the bottle. "Go."
"Cheers." Chase did a shot, screwed his face up and made a get-on-with-it gesture.
"One more each." Once they'd both had another drink, House stared at his cane and said, "On days when I really… hate myself… it occurs to me that Foreman could be right."
"Right about what?" Chase could hardly manage speech, he was hunched over and covering his mouth just in case.
"About me. I'm a jackass… and anybody who spends enough time learning from me… is going to end up a jackass too." He resisted the urge to turn and see how Chase was taking it, and muttered the last bit into his bottle: "Maybe I don't want to do that to you." He tilted his head back for another swallow, but it unbalanced him so badly he fell off the stool and crashed to the floor. Lying on his side, propped up on one elbow, he finally looked over. "Now stop thinking, and just do your other two shots."
Chase obeyed, then gave up on sitting and just sprawled out on his stomach. It took a lot of effort to turn his head to the side so that he could breathe. "Don't worry," he assured with a smile, knowing that it would be a terrible idea to let himself get emotional, "You and I have very little in common, I promise."
House took a pointed look around at the floor they were both lying on and at all the empty beer cans, and they both started to laugh. Chase swung a hand up to cover his mouth. "Oh God – I'm going to-"
"Not here," House ordered. He grabbed Chase under the arm and started to drag him towards the bathroom. They crawled as fast as they could and got there just in time. Chase threw up into the toilet, and the sound was too much for House in his current condition. He hauled himself up to the rim of the bathtub and started puking himself.
Ten minutes later they were both still there emptying their stomachs. "Are you going to die?" House sounded almost accusing.
"Dear Lord," Chase prayed aloud, "I'll go to church every Sunday forever, if you just please don't let me die on House's bathroom floor." He turned and blew hair out of his eyes. "Are you going to die?"
"No." House took stock of himself and frowned. "In fact, I'm not even going to black out. I'll remember all of this tomorrow. Unacceptable. Chase, go get me the bottle."
Chase shook his head. "I can't walk."
"You can't walk?"
Chase stuttered an apology, flushed the toilet, and wiped his mouth. House kicked the cane across the floor to him, and he used it to drag himself to his feet. "There." Leaning heavily, he managed to keep his balance and stagger slowly out to retrieve the rest of the tequila.
House watched him the whole way. "I told you you'd turn out like me," he called after him.
Chase made it back, handed over the bottle and a phone, and resumed his post by the toilet. "And I told you," he said, "That I don't care. Call someone nlet them know you're out sick so they don't come ll-looking for you in the morning." He retched again, so hard that he nearly dunked his own head in the toilet.
House waited for his own stomach to take a break from heaving, then drank down what was left in the tequila bottle. It burned his throat. "You don't want to end up like this."
"You and Foreman're both asses," Chase declared. "I don't know what makes people the way they are, but- yeed help dlialing that? … But being near you won't magically turn me into-"
"Shut up and dial." House shoved the phone at him, then fumbled for the shower knob. The water sprayed out, rinsing the tub and soaking his head and shoulders, and he made no move to escape it even though it was icy cold. "You already are."
"Sorry?" Chase squinted at the phone, trying to make out the buttons.
"Like me. I just noticed. The other day… week… month, whatever. That's when I realized."
"Huh? When? Noticed what?"
"When I… cmon, you know, when I decked you."
It took Chase a moment to figure out what he was talking about. The little girl they almost cut in half, the punch in the face… "That? Aw, House, come on, you were frustrated'n stressed out, not to mention detoxing, anybody would've -"
"Forget me, we're talking about you. The look on..." he gestured, averting his eyes. "You didn't hit me back, didn't… demand an apology. You acted like… hell, you'll even make excuses for it now…" He shuddered and waited out another stomach flip. Then, staring at the inside of the tub, he explained: "Exactly what I used to do whenever my father hit me."
Chase was so surprised he dropped the phone into the toilet. He looked down at it, but the sudden motion made him queasy again. He crossed his arms over the toilet seat and rested his head, waiting for it to pass.
In the meantime, House was slowly, clumsily stripping down to his boxers. In case he did have to go to work tomorrow, he drunkenly reasoned, he couldn't go reeking of tequila and vomit. The shower was already on (though still freezing cold), so all that remained was to crawl over the edge of the tub and get himself inside.
Once there, he curled up into a fetal position, shivering. With the water roaring in his ears, his head spinning, and the sound of mumbling he only dimly realized was coming from himself, he almost didn't hear Chase going, "House? Are you okay?"
The next thing he knew, it was several hours later and he was being woken up from his warm wet bed by his very haggard, hungover-looking former underling. "House. Alarm's going off. Hello?"
"Nnnh. Call in for me." He opened his eyes just a crack. "You're still here?"
"Yeah – I slept over the toilet. My knees are killing me and I've got your toilet-germs all over my face."
"You sound great."
"That's because I didn't drink five or six gratuitous shots of alcohol once I was already blind drunk." But the mention of alcohol was too much for him, and he resumed his worshipful posture at the foot of the porcelain throne.
"I'm fine." It took House a while and a lot of mental self-encouragement, but he finally sat up. "Woah! Check out that willpower!"
"Amazing," Chase groaned into the toilet.
House was shaking and dry-heaving every few seconds, but he sounded more and more together as he started issuing orders. "Get up. I'm going to need an IV. Stuff's in the cabinet over your head."
"Are you out of your mind? I can't do an IV now!"
House caught himself before making a remark about how only one of us here is at the moment actually employed as a doctor, and just said: "I'll do it. Just get me the stuff… and some clothes."
He switched the water from the shower to the bath spout, put his head under it and drank until his stomach hurt. Rinse, repeat.
Chase lurched back in, leaning on the cane for balance, with an armload of clothes. "What are you doing?"
"Practicing for my bulimia final. Leave me a towel and go make us some breakfast."
Finally convinced that his stomach was empty of alcohol, House maneuvered slowly into a sitting position on the toilet seat and set himself up an IV. It took him four tries to get the needle in, but on the upside his head was pounding so hard that the prick didn't even bother him.
Afterwards, he realized that he should have gotten dressed first. No matter – he would just forego the t-shirt and put his jacket on all by itself. Careful with the sleeve, careful. The IV line could just stick out the back like a little tail. How cute.
He put pants on over his soaking boxers and stood up. Water dripped down his legs and he decided he was an idiot… but an idiot with places to go. No time to start getting dressed all over again. He limped towards the kitchen, leaning on the wall and holding his IV bag in his teeth. Once there, he got his cane back from Chase, got some tape to stick the bag to his shoulder out of his way, and opened the fridge.
"God, you look awful," Chase said, laughing a little. "I scrambled eggs, if you want. There's some old pretzels too…"
"Here goes nothing." He drank some milk out of the carton and held his breath. It was staying down! Score one for House. "All right, here's the deal. One: no, I did not wet myself, I just showered with underwear on. Two: if you remember either one of us saying or doing anything stupid last night, I hereby order you to forget it. Three: give me those eggs, and four: you're still fired."
Chase was smiling. "I don't think so."
"Look at this." He held out his forearm, which had been marked up with black Sharpie. "Looks to me like it says Unfired -Greg House. Yes?"
House bent to examine it closely. "Could be a clever forgery… My drunk signature is actually very easy to repr-"
"And this." Chase showed off his other arm, which had been marked Black Satin, 36B in the same loopy drunk handwriting"I think it's supposed to be proof in case you didn't believe me. What does it mean?"
House stared. "It means you're unfired," he said at last. "I have no idea what I was thinking, but apparently I unfired you and I meant it. Congratulations. Now, considering I may still be technically drunk, you're the designated driver. Let's get to work."
The bit House will never remember:
Someone shaking him, hard.
"It's me – Chase. Open your eyes. Look at me." All he could see was a big painful stab of light. "House, come on, listen."
"I know that… your father… made some mistakes with you."
"Heh. Yeh. Swunay put it."
"Didn't appreciate you, nothing was ever good enough, he let you down all the time. I know. But even after all that, you still wanted him to… to want you."
Yes, and it worked about as well as Cuddy's fertility treatments, he wanted to say, but all that came out was a mumbley moan.
"Well… then if you see yourself in me… and you're trying to do me a favor… do you really think firing me is the way to go? What would you have wanted?"
House was so drunk he had trouble following his own train of thought. He would certainly not wait around to be fired; the trick was to push people away before they pushed you. Chase didn't seem to get that… the poor kid was far too soft and squishy… although, honestly, he really didn't deserve the colossal suckfest that was life... Too bad there was nothing-
"…help you," he murmured.
"You want to help me?" Chase supplied eagerly.
"Then tell me I'm not fired yet! I want to stay."
"Mmkay. Shh. Ss-cold."
The water magically got warmer. "There, is that better? Now give it to me in writing – you'll never remember this. Sit up, c'mon. Write: unfired, and sign your name. Here. Sign here."
House signed with his eyes closed, and clunked his head hard back down on the tub floor afterwards. He was all ready to pass back out when-…
"I can't even read that – it looks nothing like your handwriting! Write down a password or something, prove it's really you."
At age thirteen, Greg House had considered the possibility that one day they might invent time travel and his future self might want to tell him something. But if someone showed up claiming to be Greg from the future, how could he be sure? They would need a password. Something private, something embarrassing so that he knew he would never tell anyone else by accident… Embarrassing secrets? One came immediately to mind: the bra he had bought last weekend so he could practice unhooking it smoothly and without looking. It was black satin, size 36B. There – that would be a good password.
"Fshcrself," House slurred, gesturing for the marker again.
"Nnn. Fyyyy-uture sssshelf," he enunciated more carefully. "Drunk self is fshhelff." He laughed at that, scrawled the password on the surface presented to him, and then was allowed to collapse back down in the warm water. He felt awful, but there was someone's hand on his shoulder and it helped a little.
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