Happiness is a Warm Memory

Summary: Chase has grown up and out. Not that he likes the consequences. Nostalgia and Introspection ensue. Depressing Crak!fic (because I can). Slight deathfic

Notes: I own nothing.

Nobody had accessed his father's book in six years, hadn't even referenced it in fifteen. Chase looked at the wall screen- randomly looking through the digital biodatabase- finding old colleagues, friends, lovers, fellow fellows- seeing who was working on what, where, or if they were still breathing. This notion of nostalgia hit almost every year early in the fall semester as new fellows rotated in with the old.

He checked on Lundy's file- still in Oz, still dead after an overdose (urologist,1974-2013; acc. 75, ref. 45) too many years from two years ago. Corrigan (acc. 20, ref. 9) was in Bogota doing dermatology, Kasem (10 acc., 1 ref.) was in the ER downstairs doing scut work- rectal cleanings and boil poppings- screwing the dean's daughter was stupid, getting caught even stupider, Chase grimaced. Sheli (cardiologist, acc. 45, ref. 7) was back in the US with Reginald- no surprise there.

Chase, sunk into his broken suede chair- fought to remember more names, more faces and times from his past.

Viktor (1986-2012, acc. 64, ref. 2) was dead- what do you get the oncologist with everything? MS and a silver razor. Terrence was in Sydney doing Great Work, and Christof (nephrologist, acc. 12 , ref. 0) was in Patagonia doing the Lord's work with children.

Checking more files, he started looking up students- the few who hadn't burnt out. For as many fellows House burnt through, Chase was even worse- over the years, his patience had eroded away, leaving him slightly cruel in a benign sort of way. His current group had fought and scratched out a diagnosis after four days. Nobody in this group, he had realized some time back, had the drive or talent to do anything impressive. Too much reliance upon various machines or e-med books telling knowledged doctors what was wrong with the patient. Breaking them of their mechanical bad habits took four to first six months, and this group was going on eight. "Video game doctoring," Lundy once joked over bourbon. They had laughed together at that, but Chase now hated the term.

Chester went crazy. O'Sullivan was in St. Lukes-Sinai, Umbamba died-somehow. Billings retired as did Bob.

Too many names to remember. Chase stood up, stretching out his back as he looked around his office: everything was cramped with books (real pulped paper), folders, cases, antique computer equipment, artifacts. He wondered how he came to this point.

Melbourne had been a wonder at some point in his life: Before America. New Jersey, too five years back in Australia, changed to an oversized, sunny dream where he was still a young pup and impressionable to the whims of a mad man. Early old age had seeped into him around the age of 38.

Chase finally smiled, happy as those lost memories came sworling back.

Foreman- returned to NYC as conquering hero, still trying to prove that he wasn't House. But he never got to the endgame: the realization that Socratic egoism is meaningless. He had all of the arrogance, but lacked the ability to just let go and let the disease be the guide.

"Dr. Chase?"

Robert clicked off Foreman's file (100 hits, 7 references), his father's bio still open underneath. "Yes?"

A blue-haired, twenty-four year old boy looked at the wall mount, his temporary security badge granting him open access to the interweb files. "I'm Tobias Anaberg." He smiled, handing Chase his CV.

"So you are," Chase announced as he flipped through the boy's paper file. "Says here you're from the States. Accent sounds Mid-Atlantic."

"Maryland-Moregon, Maine- one of those eastcoast M States."

Chase put the paper down and really looked at the doctor. He was wearing a tie-less suit- the uniform for all current doctors, but the Converse shoes were different.

"So, why are you here?"

"To study under you."

"That's all?"

"A-yep."

Cameron (10 acc., 0 ref.) finally had all of it. The perfect life with Charlie the Lupus patient. A kid, two dogs, three houses. Until Charlie no longer had Lupus (misdiagnosis), and then Cameron moved onto Paul, so far 'healthy.' Nobody had referenced her in four years.

"And if I don't hire you?"

"I go home and cry to mummy."

"You've got quite the ego. Tell me, are you that good or just that arrogant?"

"I have straight A's."

"As does everyone else."

"I've published three papers."

"McCormick has four, and she has better hair." Not to mention a compete moron.

"I've got nothing else."

"You mean, you haven't any other accomplishments to wax poetic about?"

"No, I mean..."

Chase watched as the boy's nonchalance crumble. "I've nothing else- going for me. You're it. It's you or I get a badge at Wal-Mart."

"You must have applied for other fellowships."

"No, it's a long story- my mum died not long ago, you see."

"Care for a tissue?"

Cuddy's still at Princeton; her brunette hair coifed to iron-steel. They finally named a wing after her.

"No!" Self-righteousness returned. "You studied under Doctor House."

Say the magic word...

"What do you know of House?"

"He was brilliant-a legend- I want to be like that, well, without the addiction."

"You think I can teach that?"

Chase watched as Tobias faltered a bit, his ego deflating and reinflating before his eyes.

"You have in the past: Haversham, Grint, Ganesh."

"None of whom ever came close to House."

"Yes, but you have. 'One of Five,' he said."

"You read the unauthorized biography." Tobias shrugged: a bad habit, Chase realized.

"Probably watched the show growing up, wanted the glamorous life of mad brilliancy." Tobias looked outwardly baffled, but Chase could see a glimmer of familiarity. "You were a real Zeitke-head, eh? David Boreanaz as a rip off of House was the worst casting job since Keanu Reeves played Constantine." Chase grinned as the boy turned red. "I'm sorry, but I only have two slots open this year, and one has already been filled. Ten others are already being interviewed. How about some questions?"

"Okay."

"Can you pick a lock?"

"No?"

"How do you do research on a disease without google-med?"

"My brain?"

"Would you be averse to illegally entering and searching a patient's house, and possibly ending up with a broken leg after jumping out of a window because the cops showed up?"

"I hope not?"

"Can you answer questions without a question mark?"

"Yes."

"Better."

Wilson was happy, kinda. House had aged him (not that being an oncologist hadn't), but he still looked like a rather old twelve year old.

""What's the title of Rowan Chase's seminal book on Rheumatology?"

"I don't know."

"Then why are you here?"

"You're the best. I read In Vitro Dialysis on Pregnant Coma Patients. It was amazing."

"The umbilical cords did most of the work. Is that why you're here? To be amazing?"

"No, I want the challenge- how a person can be cured of diseases that were once death sentences."

"A God Complex. Not my field." Chase felt like he was wallowing in the teaching hospital- lost now for what felt like decades. "Diagnosing isn't like sudoku. You don't get the answer in the next day's paper.

"Very well, I will let you know in three days." Chase droned with his standard reply.

"That's it?"

"Yep."

Tobias looked at Chase, sizing him up as the older doctor turned back to a book. "You can generally pick the newer locks with a unicard key, or just punch in the reset code- 2213A128shift10. It resets in thirty seconds."

"Very good. Now go back to Jersey, and tell House that he needs to rehire you and quit sending me his prodigals."

"I can't."

"Why? You Banged Cuddy?"

"He's dead."

Chase went cold. "He can't be."

"End stage liver failure- blamed his father's weak renal genes… It was on Fox News."

"We don't get that channel here." The chill leached out, leaving nothing.

"He told me that you needed to finish my fellowship."

"And your sob story?"

"All true, except my mom was a bitch."

"Go back to Jersey."

"But…"

"You've learned all you can from House- his collection of widows and orphans ends with you. Take all of your new knowledge and be a real doctor- I've no time for his pets."

"So that's it?"

"Yes."

Tobias ruffled his blue hair, looking all of ten years. He plodded out of the room, then turned back at the doorway. "You should know, he considered you his padawan- out of everyone, you were it. One out of the five."

"He fired me."

"All part of the Robert Chase mythology for him. House laughed at it- through the O2 mask- 'even emus have to fly sometime.'" Tobias smiled a bit, then left, the door closing behind him.

Chase laughed, in spite of himself, because of himself. There was nothing else to do.

He went back to the interweb, and looked up House's entry- 10,000 hits in the past week, referenced 800 times in the past three years, age 58 at time of death- '…a great loss to the medical community…'

On a whim, he looked up his own file- Robert Chase, 900 hits in the past three months, a rare diagnosis of a disease found in a local cause celeb enfant. His picture loomed over the room- older, thinner, more American looking than Australian now. His hair, graying along with his eyes. He shut down the entire computer system, and turned to the window. He could see Tobias with his cerulean hair tread drunkenly out onto the grounds,unsure of his own present. The other students strolled past him, younger and happier than both of them, living the dreams of youthful innocence, as the two let the present swirl away.