"Doctor, your dad is in the waiting room."
Chase looked up from his patient and nodded toward his receptionist. "I'll be right there. He's not hitting on you, is he?"
She laughed and shook her head, "But he only just got here."
Chase finished giving the injection he had drawn. "You're a good girl, Chelsea," he said. "Your mommy is going to be so proud of you."
"Everything's okay?" Mrs. Robinson asked, watching as Chase finished his work on Chelsea.
Mrs. Robinson smiled and took Chelsea in her arms. Chase followed her from the exam room to the waiting area. He heard his father's voice before he saw him.
"And that cat lived until Chase finished college. When it died, I thought the boy was going to grieve himself to death. So, naturally, I went out and got him another kitten so he wouldn't have time to be sad anymore."
"Dad!" Chase exclaimed, finding House speaking to the family of one of his critical patients. "Do you have to tell everyone that story?" he asked.
"What? They like to know their doctor has a heart. Isn't that right, Ms. Bradley?"
Ms. Bradley nodded. It was obvious from her tear-streaked face and the crumpled tissue in her hand that she was upset about a loved one.
"So, don't worry about Bruno. If anyone can save him, it's my boy. He was top of his class, you know. He got his brains from me, by the way. His mother was an idiot."
Ms. Bradley laughed. House had managed to make her feel a little bit better. "How is he?"
"He came through the surgery well. We did have to amputate the leg. Recovery will take a while, but he'll be hobbling around on the other three before you know it. I'm sorry you've been waiting. I thought you'd gone home and I tried to call you after we finished the surgery."
"I did go home, but I got nervous and came back," she shrugged.
"If all else fails, they can rig him a set of wheels that will rival mine." House indicated his wheelchair. "It's got all the bells and whistles. I can go zero to sixty in ten seconds."
Ms. Bradley smiled at House. "It's been years since he chased a car," she lamented. "I just don't know what got into him."
"There was probably a poodle riding shotgun," House suggested, making her laugh again.
"I'll keep a close watch on Bruno and let you know of any changes. Now, what I need for you to do is go home and get some rest. Bruno's going to need a lot of TLC when he gets to go home. You should make an area ready to keep him confined."
"Thank you," Ms. Bradley said, giving him a hug. She turned to House and offered her hand. "It was a pleasure to meet you." She turned back to Chase, "Your dad is a delight."
"Yeah, I hear that all the time," Chase agreed. Anyone who knew House would have been aware that Chase's was being facetious, but Ms. Bradley had only just met the proud father of the best veterinarian in New Jersey. Chase clapped House's shoulder. "So what brings you by today?"
"Bored," House sighed. "You busy?"
"Little bit," Chase answered. "But I can get George to cover for me if you want to get something to eat."
"Let's go then. You can treat your old man."
They stopped at a café near the clinic and placed their orders for the blue plate special of spaghetti with meat sauce.
"What's wrong?" House asked, noticing how Chase seemed preoccupied.
"Nothing, really." Chase sighed. He took a sip of his water.
"Problems at work?" House guessed. Sometimes Chase still got sad when he lost a patient. He still had that tender heart that had made him such a sweet little boy.
"No," he shook his head. "Nothing like that. It's silly, really."
"Tell me anyway."
Chase leaned forward and lowered his voice. "I've been having those dreams again."
House felt as if he'd been doused with ice water. He swallowed, but said nothing, waiting for Chase to continue. He knew exactly what dreams his son meant. They had started when Chase was twelve. Chase admitted to their recurrence every few years. House had no idea how often Chase really dreamed about his former life, but every so often it would bother him enough that he would bring it up.
"It's the damnedest thing," Chase said. "I'm working for you with Doctors Cameron and Foreman, but they're young and I'm about the same age. And in the dreams, I come out with all this medical terminology and can name off weird diseases. I've looked some of the ones I could remember up and they're real diseases."
"Maybe you should have gone into diagnostics like your old man," House shrugged. "You always loved Cameron and Foreman so much when you were little. That's why you dream about them." House thought of his former fellows fondly. They had both moved on from PPTH and both had eventually become departmental heads in their own right. "You spent so much time with me at the hospital, you were bound to pick up some of the terms."
"But you don't even like me in these dreams."
"I liked you," House argued, quickly realizing he should not have said that.
Chase laughed. "Really? Because last night I dreamed you punched me."
House remembered that day from many years ago.
"It's okay, Dad," Chase patted his father's hand. "It was just a dream. Don't look so guilty."
"I'm sorry," House apologized.
"Dad, I know you'd never really hit me," Chase smiled, grateful that he had grown up with his father instead of the abusive mother he barely remembered. "It's just that these dreams are so realistic. It's like I'm really there and I'm really a doctor and I want so badly to make you proud of me. I guess part of me thinks you would have been happier if I was a doctor."
"I am proud of you," House told him. "And you are a doctor."
"Yeah, but I'm not helping people like you did."
"Sure you are," House told him. "Every time you save someone's pet, you help that person. I think you were always torn between medical school and veterinary school and that's why you have these dreams." House had been explaining the dreams away for fifteen years. First he told Chase that he just missed Cameron and Foreman. Then he told Chase it was because he was trying to decided on a career path. He had discussed the problem with Wilson and they had come to the conclusion that it would be in Chase's best interest if he never knew he had lived another life.
"Did I make a wrong turn?" Chase asked sincerely.
"Son, you would have been a great diagnostician or a great intensives t or a great surgeon. You would have been great at any specialty you put your mind to. But you've had a special place in your heart for cats and dogs and horses and any other four legged critter as long as I've known you. That's where your heart is. That's why you're a great vet."
Chase nodded, "Thanks." Every so often he had these crazy dreams that made him doubt his life choices. It was nice to have a father he could talk to about it.
"Are you happy?" House asked, getting to the heart of the matter.
"Yes," Chase answered quickly. "I love my job."
"Then you made the right decision. Don't let some silly recurring dreams make you question your whole life. You're exactly where you're supposed to be. You're my son and I couldn't be prouder of you."
"You're the best, Dad," Chase smiled. "I love you."
"Me too, kid." House responded just as the waitress brought their plates. "Dig in."
AN: So, I was going through some papers and found the beginnings of this chapter today and decided to see what I could make of it. It's been a while since I wrote anything. I've gotten away from fan fiction, but I'd like to find my way back.