a/n: Here it is! The final chapter. I want to give a huge thank you to all the overwhelming support I got throughout this fic. I had no idea a gen fic like this would generate such an interest. I'm very grateful.

This chapter is a much more light-hearted, and hopefully satisfying conclusion. I'm really nervous to see what everyone thinks. Happy reading! Also, please take the epilogue with the tongue in cheek it was intended to be!


The judge came out from her chambers after the announcement, not bothering to look at either side of the bench. The look of malcontent on her face delivered the message that she wasn't too pleased with both ends.

"This can't be good," House whispered to Howard.

"She's normally like this," Howard replied, still uncertain which way this was going.

"Please be seated." The judge opened her file, and didn't waste much time delivering her conclusions. She wanted this group out of her court, now.

"In all my years as a judge, I can easily tell when a case raises valid concerns about a person's actions, and when we are dealing with a witch hunt. This case has vendetta written all over it. The amount of resources and time the Princeton Police Department has put into this investigation is ridiculous. With the amount of effort thrown into this, and I can only assume how much taxpayer's money, one would think that Detective Tritter was trying to bust up an International drug cartel. Instead, all we've got here is a doctor who has gone a little overboard in handling his pain medication. I find this entire process to be a complete waste."

The judge looked up to gage a reaction. Both benches were pretty stoic. "However, the facts of this case cannot be ignored. Dr. House, your situation is too troubling for someone who holds people's lives in their hands on a daily basis. Upon reading your medical history though, you really saved yourself by appointing Dr. Chase to be responsible for your care. Up until that point, the tailspin was obvious. So far all evidence points to you following his treatment plan, and the tests submitted since then have proven to me that the goal of lowering your dependence is indeed working. Statements from other members of your team and co-workers have also verified that you have been performing your job well since you started under his care, and incidents like the one presented by the ADA have been avoided."

The judge took another pause, and was almost impressed with the good behavior. She wished everyone had acted like this before they got to her court.

"However, Dr. House, it would be irresponsible of me to dismiss this case without making sure you stay that way. I have sent a recommendation to the DA's office for a deal instead of sending you onto trial. I'm recommending six months probation and 200 hours community service. Also, for the next year, the court will continue to get drug tests and weekly updates on the progress of your care, all under the careful supervision of Dr. Chase. If at anytime we get evidence that you have lapsed, failed to follow the treatment plan, or performed any aspect of the job while experiencing a serious medical problem, the DA's office will be immediately notified."

The judge turned her attention back to the prosecution. "As for you ADA Benson, if you do choose to ignore the recommendation and go to trial, I assure you there won't be enough to make a case. Take what you can get from this now."

Again another pause, and no reaction. "Are there any questions?"

Both sides shook their heads.

She banged the gavel. "Next case."

Howard finally cracked a smile and shook House's hand. "Congratulations. I'll get with the ADA, and we'll go from there."

House was still stone faced, not exactly sure if this was good or not. He silently nodded while glancing over to the prosecution, witnessing a disgraced Tritter in an intense discussion with the ADA before storming out. He hoped that was the last he would see of him.

House's stare was interrupted by Cuddy and Wilson, both wearing huge expressions of relief.

"You see? I told you everything would be okay. No harm done." House said boastfully.

Cuddy lunged toward him, ready to take a swing, but Wilson stopped her. Wilson's outraged expression signaled everyone he was about to go off on one of his trademark rants, but he held back when Chase and Foreman appeared next to him. They both had huge smiles on their faces.

"What are you two so happy about?" House asked. He turned to Chase. "Looks like you're stuck with me."

"Yeah, I was upset about it at first, but then Foreman reminded me of something," Chase replied.

Everyone looked at House to deliver some sort of joke or comment prodding further. House instead grabbed his forehead. "I've got nothing, so I'll just bite. Oh, what did Foreman tell you?"

Chase leaned in closer. "Your ass is mine."

Chase and Foreman walked away, both snickering. "Yeah, I'm sure you're dying for a piece of it too!" House shouted.

Wilson and Cuddy giggled as well. "Come on House," Cuddy said. "Time to get back to work. Looks like you can do your clinic shift today after all."

House followed, grumbling. "I think I'll talk to the ADA. Jail sounds like the better option."


Chase turned on the light while entering what was now considered his puny little office. Someone even stuck a placard up on the door. He had no idea if that person was serious or not, but it was funny either way considering he never officially laid claim to the psuedo closet. If he knew it was that easy to get a private office, he would have tried that trick years ago. He even thought about bringing in some posters from home to decorate. Australian landscapes would certainly leave no doubt as to whose office it was.

While he slid across the desk top to get behind the desk, he heard a knock on the door frame. It was gentle and apprehensive. "Hi Cameron," he said with his back to her.

She looked around the three bare and closed in walls. "You really should decorate this place. Got any spare posters at home?"

"Yeah, I considered that," Chase replied, turning around to face her.

She responded with a pleasant smile, letting silence hang between them for a strange amount of time. Chase wasn't sure if he should ask what she wanted, but figured she'd get to the point eventually or chicken out.

"I wanted to apologize," Cameron said meekly.

"For what?"

"For giving you a hard time in the clinic and in general. I haven't been very supportive lately, not only of you, but House as well."

"Water under the bridge," Chase replied with forgiveness. "I'd already forgotten about it."

"But I haven't. It was wrong. I didn't give you a chance. You really have made a difference with House."

"Are you admitting that now because the judge said so?" Chase asked. House wasn't the only one who could read Cameron's motives from a mile away.

"No, there have been signs. Ever since the detox, he's been better to work with. He's still a pain in the ass, but his mind has never been better."

Chase dropped his head with a humble smile. "Thanks."

"We miss you too. The workload was already impossible with three. With just the two of us, we can't do anything."

"I'm sure Foreman doesn't agree."

"He won't admit it, but Foreman likes having someone keep him in line, and hasn't been getting it. It's almost been too easy."

Chase laughed, certain that Foreman wasn't thinking that at all. "I'll admit, I miss it too. I told House I wanted to come back, but after the ruling this morning, it looks like that can't happen."

Cameron's face turned inquisitive. "Why not?"

"Conflict of interest."

"Why? Didn't you have to avoid that before because of the issue potentially being raised at the trial? That's no longer a problem."

"What, and give up all this?" Chase joked, looking around at the empty walls of his own little broom closet.

Cameron laughed. "Come on, I'm serious."

Chase scratched the back of his head over the idea. "I'm not sure. I shouldn't be working for him."

"Who says that you have to report to House if you work on the team? Cuddy can still be your boss, unless you have a problem playing both roles."

Chase thought about the idea, changing facial expressions several times, trying to come up with a good argument and couldn't. Cameron did have a point. "You think Cuddy would go for it?"

Cameron smiled in disbelief, floored by the idea that she was coming up with something that Chase hadn't thought of. "It doesn't hurt to ask."


"You rang?" Chase said, entering the office as requested.

House was less than impressed. "Bad shout-out. You can't use that line unless you're as freakishly tall as Lurch."

"Sorry. I guess I need to study my pop culture better."

"Did you know that Syracuse actually has an actual Department of Pop Culture studies? Where do I get that job?"

Chase laughed. It had been too long since he laughed at one of House's jokes. "So what did you want?"

House pulled out a folder, laying it flat out on the desk, and opened it. "I understand, Dr. Chase, that you have an interest in the vacancy on my team."

"I have to apply for it?"

"I do have a rigorous screening process. I need to be sure you'll be a good fit."

Chase decided to play along and jumped into a mock ready-to-please mode. "I'm a hard worker Dr. House. You won't regret choosing me."

"Funny, that's not what you said the first time I interviewed you."

"You didn't interview me. You hired me as soon as my dad called asking you not to."

House looked off to the side, trying to remember in false fashion such an incident occurring. "Oh yeah, I did do that, didn't I? Sit down, you're getting that interview now."

Chase smiled and took a seat. This ought to be good.

House took some time to look over Chase's personnel file. "Did you become a doctor to pick up nurses?"


House scoffed. "Don't lie to me. Someone with your incredible boyish smile and underwear model's body doesn't need this life. You should be on a beach in Bali sipping on Mai Tais and living off the family fortune."

"Did that once. Sunburn from Bali is a bitch. Plus I hate Indonesian food."

House nodded. "Your medical degree is from a third world nation."

"I'm pretty sure Australia's industrialized."

House rolled his eyes. "So is China anymore. See any Chinese on my team?" He fell backward into his chair and crossed his arms, giving Chase a scrutinizing look. "You sure you aren't better suited to be a swimsuit model?"

"Chicks will go for the lab coat over speedo ballhuggers any day."

House smacked himself on the forehead. "That's why I'm never scoring babes. I don't dress the part. Do you have a history of boning co-workers?"


"How was it?"

Chase raised an eyebrow and cracked a wicked smile. "Pretty damn good."

House shuddered at the thought. "I'm sure he was."

House went back to examining the file while Chase fought off snickering. "What other qualifications can you possibly offer me? I already have my token negro and woman. What do I need you for?"

"You don't."

"Come again?"

"You don't need any of us. We're the ones needing you."

House grimaced at the idea. "That's a pretty scary thought. So why should I pick you to need me? As pretty as you are, Cameron is more my type."

"Because I'm going to screw up."

House nodded in agreement. "You look like a wally to me. I think it's the blond hair. What if you're lying and prove to actually be competent at your job?"

"The day I stop messing up, the day I can rely on my own judgment and not need yours, that's the day you can toss me out the door. Until then, I'm the best person for the job."

House leaned forward and folded his arms on the desk, going into his fake sincerity mode. "While you make an enticing argument, I still have a special set of skills in mind for this position. You have to do way more than make mistakes in order to get the job. I already have an arrogant bastard that thinks I'm always wrong. I need someone who is going to kiss my behind. You know, in a non-homoerotic sort of way. Not that there's anything wrong with that."

Chase raised his hands to the back of his head and took in a deep breath. "Hmm, I don't know. I've seen your ass. It's nothing special."

"How about you promise to agree with everything I say?"

"You want a doctor, right? It sounds like you're really looking a puppy. Oh yeah, you've already got one of those with Cameron."

House scrunched his face. "Oooh, a smack down for the kangaroo. I'll let her know you said that so she can kick your girly butt."

Chase flashed another wicked smile. Somehow he liked the picture of that floating in his head.

House took another glance at the desk to go through his imaginary list of interview questions. "How about if I dish out plenty of nasty, gut-wrenching, horrific and completely unfair abuse and you sit there and take it?"

Chase pondered the idea. "Why not? I'm a glutton for punishment."

House took a brief pause to mull over the possibilities, and then shook his head. "Nah, not good enough."

Chase thought through some more ideas. "I can laugh at all your bad jokes. I also might consider fetching you a sandwich once in a while."

"How about you bring in bagels every Friday? Not those wimpy supermarket ones either, but the giant ones from the deli and a huge tub of cream cheese."


House snapped his fingers. "That's right, cut out of the will. So you must really need this job."

"As much as I need a toothache."

House paused to fight back any laughter that was rising inside him, and went back to business. "So, let me get this straight, you have a questionable foreign medical degree, you hit on co-workers, you love screwing up at your job, and you do all that while taking whatever punishment your misanthropic boss dishes out? Plus you won't buy food?"

Chase nodded. "Yeah, that sounds about right."

House stood up and held out his hand. "Congratulations, you're hired."

Chase shook his hand. "So, when do I start?"

"Check with HR. They'll also give you a locker combination and it's free stethoscope month."

Chase let a snicker burst through that time. He went for the exit, opened the office door and turned around. "Oh, I forgot to mention, you should tell your physician that your pain has decreased. He ought know that he's done a bang up job with your difficult case."

"His overinflated ego can't take it," House replied, rolling his eyes while Chase took the insult with a smile.

"Sadist." Chase said, leaving the office.

"Masochist." House muttered back with a smirk while Chase disappeared from view.

House leaned backward in his chair and put his feet up on the desk, giving his tattered leg a good rub. He thought back to that day in Cuddy's office, when he was pushed into a corner and in desperate response threw Chase into the firing line instead. He subconsciously knew that Chase would fight a battle that wasn't his, despite certain failure, but that wasn't the real reason he was chosen. The only person to correctly guess that reason was Chase himself. Chase was the only doctor he knew that hadn't forgotten the most basic rule of primary care; the best interests of the patient must be paramount.

House chuckled to himself, gloating inside. While the outcome wasn't what he expected, once again, after all was said and done, he could say he was right.

The End


Epilogue – (This is for angelfirenze. Beware, dark dark humor coming.)

He had just handed over his badge and gun. For the next month, Detective Tritter would cease to exist. He was citizen Tritter instead. Sure, the department gave him tons of latitude with the probe, but whenever things went badly, the scapegoat had to emerge. The lieutenant wasn't big on bungled investigations, even if he spent countless hours of free time doing his civic duty. Where was the appreciation for that?

Tritter now would have the next month to stew over how another addict had screwed him over. How he had to pay for the actions of another scumbag junkie. How he would catch Dr. House in the act the next time. The man will make a mistake. Addicts always do.

All these thoughts swirled madly in his head while he stepped down the precinct stairs and off the curb toward his car. He was too lost in angry thoughts to notice the gigantic moving object barreling toward him at full speed. He didn't know what hit him when the bus made its dramatic impact.

An innocent bystander turned away when the spatter flew just before the corpse hit the ground. "Oh, poor man!" she exclaimed.

"I don't know. This could be a cautionary tale," said a man next to her.

"How so?"

"If he didn't see the bus, what else was he blind to?"

The woman glared at the man with mouth agape, then her eyes went back to the messy accident scene, then back to the man, then back to the scene. When her eyes returned to the man again, she shrugged. "Well, I suppose it's possible he had this coming."


a/n: Thanks again everyone for reading. Please watch out sometime after New Years for the sequel to Take The Ducklings Bowling, When You Least Expect It. I promise it will continue in the same tradition of fluff and fun.