Die Another Day

Day Three

(Part 2)

The PA system blared the alert for a code blue as two doctors and a handful of nurses came rushing in with a crash cart.

House hurriedly stepped out of the way, giving them all the room they needed to save Chase's life. He had two theories at the moment, and these next few minutes would tell him which one was right—and unfortunately, the best way to figure it out had been to mess with Chase. It was strange, though, because the drug was only supposed to cause Chase to seize, not flatline. But it didn't matter. The end result was the same and it would still give him the answers he wanted.

"Paddles!" a doctor called, and House watched as a nurse gelled them up and handed him over.

"Charging," the nurse said as an electric humming filled the area. "Clear!"

Chase's body jumped as the paddles hit him with an electric charge. The loud, piercing tone of the heart monitor didn't waver.

That was okay. Sometimes it took more than one shock to get a person going again.

"350," the doctor ordered, and the nurse turned the dial.


Again, that electron buzz. It got louder and louder, until—

"Clear," the nurse said, and a second later, there was a snapping sound as the doctor send another jolt of electricity into Chase.

The heart monitor went on, a flat line mirroring its unending squall. Chase's blood pressure was tanking.

House swallowed and told himself that it might take three times. Chase would be fine, he just had to have a little faith in the abilities of these... people. He could do that. They saved dozens of lives every day—what was one more? Of course they would save him. He was being ridiculous, agonizing over this. His plan was foolproof.

"Bring it up to 400," the doctor said, holding up the paddles so that one of the nurses could reapply gel.

"Charging," the nurse said as the electric humming came again. It swelled, getting louder and louder, until—

It stopped.

Everyone in the room, from the doctor to the nurse to House, turned to stare at the machine. It had gone dark. No lights were lit on it, the dial had gone back down to zero, and the power button was still switched to ON.

"What happened?" the doctor demanded.

"I—nothing!" the nurse said, sounding panicked. Her hands fluttered over the machine, flipping the switches and turning cables as she tried to get it to come back to life. "I don't know! It just stopped working, I didn't do anything, I swear—"

"Somebody go get another one!" the doctor yelled, handing the paddles off to a nurse and grabbing a syringe off the crash cart.

House tried to swallow, but he felt as though his throat had closed up.

Then he noticed what the man was holding.

"Wrong syringe!" he shouted, pushing past the nurses and reaching out to grab the man's hand.

The doctor jerked away. "What are you doing?" he demanded furiously, trying to get past House.

House pushed back, desperate to keep the doctor away from Chase. "You've got the wrong syringe! That's a whole cc of epinephrine!"

The man glanced at his hand, and then he swore.

Turning around, House grabbed the .1 syringe of epinephrine off the cart and injected it into Chase's shoulder. He threw it back on the cart, throwing all biohazard procedures to hell, and then hooked his cane on the the rail of Chase's bed and began doing chest compressions.

He had to be the one to save Chase. His stupid plan had given death had gotten a bite of Chase, and it didn't want to let go of him—it was determined to keep Chase. It was reversed. Death wanted Chase and now House was the one who had to save him, had to bring him back to life instead of preventing his death in the first place. No, Chase's death had been his brilliant little scheme in the first place.

House bent over Chase's face, locking onto his mouth and breathing into his mouth, forcing air into the lungs. As he came up, he shouted, "Anyone got a defibrillator yet?"

Waiting for an answer, House started back on the chest compressions.


"I'm a doctor," House snapped, pushing the other doctor back with his shoulder.

"Let me do my—"

"Got one!" the nurse called as she came back into the room, wheeling a defibrillator in front of her.

House grabbed the paddles before the other doctor could, holding them out to be gelled.

There was a pause as the nurses stared at him, and then glanced at the two other doctors in the room, seeking instruction.

"We don't have to time to play games," House snapped. "I'm Dr. House, Head of Diagnostics, pleased to meet you. Let me save his life."

Looking reluctant, the nurse leaned over and squirted gel on one of the paddles.

House clapped them together, rubbed, and then pulled them apart. "Charge it to 350."

"Charging," the nurse said, and the electronic humming came a second later. "Clear!"

Chase's body jolted, then went limp again and the heart monitor was silent.

House held his breath.

But then there was a beep, and another, and Chase's chest rose up as he took in a deep, shuddering breath. Along with him, the entire room seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. God knew how long Chase had been dead—how much brain damage had been done, how much was still occurring with the pressure still building in his skull—but at least he was alive. Death wouldn't get him just yet. And even better yet, House had the answer to his question.

The doctor, the one who had just been standing there helpfully this entire time, suddenly bent over to look at the side of Chase's head with a frown on his face. House would have gone to have a look for himself, but he was practically fenced into the spot he was standing because of all the people and wires and such.

"What?" he asked.

The doctor glanced at him, and then to the other doctor. "We need to get him into surgery. Right now."

"You can't put him in surgery," House said immediately. Surgery was a death sentence, because House couldn't follow him in there and do the procedure himself—the surgeon would kill him in five minutes. Chase would get a bad batch of anesthetic, the surgeon would sneeze while he was drilling, there would be a power outage, there would be some weird infection floating around the ER that would latch onto Chase's brain and kill him in days... No way. There was no way they were doing the surgery.

"He needs to get into emergency surgery," the man said, beginning to unhook Chase's saline bag from the IV pole. "He's bleeding out."

"He can't go into surgery!" House said loudly. He glanced at Chase, whose chest was rising and falling peacefully despite the fact that he was supposedly—oh shit. His ears. There was blood trickling out of Chase's ears, a crimson color that was sickening on his skin. But the surgery would kill him. Desperate, House said the first thing that came to mind. "I'm his medical proxy; you can't do the surgery."

"Are you kidding me?" the doctor demanded.

"Give me twenty minutes," House said, but even as he said it, he knew that it was ridiculous. Chase wouldn't live for twenty minutes—but he needed that time, that was all he needed. "Less than that. Fifteen."

"Don't be stupid! We can't wait—you're a doctor, you know that the longer we wait, the less likely it is he'll live. We need to go now," the doctor said. The nurses were grabbing his chart, flipping up the brakes on his bed, disconnecting and reconnecting wires, with no regard to House's protesting.

House opened his mouth to make another protest, but then he looked at Chase again. There was blood in his hair.

Chase was dead either way. He had only to choose whether it would be here or in the operating room.

Torn, House hesitated, and then he nodded.

"Do the surgery."


"You stupid bitch," House said, his voice low. He could barely contain the fury that was pounding him. "You stupid, selfish little bitch."

Contrary to all the other times he'd seen her, this time, the witch looked vaguely peaceful. "Dr. Chase isn't dead yet."

"He will be in a few minutes," House snapped.

"He's dying right now," the witch said, smiling faintly. "But don't worry. He's not in pain."

House gritted his teeth. "You put a death curse on me to save your own skin."

"I don't want to die, Dr. House," the witch said mildly. She frowned at him. "Can you understand? I thought I was going to die. I still am going to die, until Dr. Chase takes my place."

"Why him?" House demanded. "Why him?"

The witch shook her head. "It happens, I've heard. When you have two lives that are so intertwined, one soul can take the place of another."

House barely heard her. "You're going to die anyway! You'd let an innocent man die, just to live another day?"

"A day might be all you need to find the cure," the witch said.

"And what if it's not? Cameron dies? Are you gonna start killing off the janitors?" House shouted. "What if you're killing the person who was supposed to have cured you!"

"I don't want to die," the witch repeated. "That's all. I'm not a cruel person, Dr. House."


House whirled around to find Cameron standing in the doorway, looking winded.

"Chase," Cameron said breathlessly.

The bottom of House's stomach dropped out.

"He's—something happened, and he hit his head and he's in surgery," Cameron said, leaning against the doorway as she caught her breath. "He's bleeding out of his ears and their drill just broke, and if they don't break the pressure, he's—"

"He's dying!" the witch crowed from her bed.

Cameron turned to stare at her, aghast.

"You don't want to do this," House said desperately. "You'll regret it. Just—just stop and let him live."

The witch shook her head, beginning to look excited. "I can't. He's slipping away, I can feel it. It's too late. There's nothing... Nothing anyone can..." Her breathing suddenly quickened, and then suddenly, her heart monitor began to race.

"She's choking!" Cameron said, rushing to help her.

"Don't!" House grabbed Cameron's arm and pulled her back, watching as the witch gasped for air. Her O2 states were going down and her blood pressure skyrocketing, and her face was going pale.

"You," she gasped out, staring House in the eye. Her hands gripped the railings of the bed, fingers like claws, and a sheen of sweat broke out on her face. "You and him... Intertwined..." Her mouth stayed open, her face contorting as she tried to suck in air that would not come. Muscles in her neck bulged as her face began turning bright red.

Cameron tried to pull away from his grip, but House yanked back so hard that she stumbled backwards.

"We have to help her!" Cameron said, fighting to get out of House's iron grip. "What the hell are you doing? We're—let me go—what is wrong with you? House!"

The heart monitor began to slow down. The witch's skin was tinged with blue and her eyes were bugging out of their sockets. She stared at House, a desperation in her eyes that begged him to save her, but House didn't move a muscle.

"We need some help in here!" Cameron was screaming. "Code blue! Code blue!"

The witch made a gasping noise, and then she threw her head back and her whole body began twisting and contorting—her mouth was open as though she was screaming, but she was absolutely silent.

"Fuck. You," House growled as he listened to the heart monitor's beeping slow down.

No one came rushing in with a crash cart.

The witch continued to writhe in some unheard pain, but it was gradually coming to a stop. Her body was relaxing, her skin gone gray, and her eyes had drooped shut. Her hands hands slipped off of the bedrails that she had been so desperately gripping. The heart monitor slowed.

Cameron was still calling for help, House didn't even hear it. He was focused on the witch, watching without regret as she died.

When she flatlined, House let go of Cameron.

Stumbling back at the sudden release, Cameron stared up at House for a long minute. House stared back coolly. Eventually, she came to her senses and rushed over to the witch's bed to begin doing chest compressions.

House turned around and left.


Chase lived through the surgery.

The surgeon said that there was a moment—the records would show it to have taken place around 2:00 PM—where they'd almost lost him, but after that, everything had went smoothly.

The witch was declared dead at 2:05 PM.

Cameron had tracked House down, but Wilson had apparently chased her away before she could get in the room.

And House waited for Chase to wake up.


House could only stare

Chase was alive—the beeping of the heart monitor was a blessed, constant reminder of that—but he didn't really look like it. His skin had a pale waxy color to it that was probably the result of some combination of the extreme blood loss he'd had today and the florescent lighting of the room, and he was so still. So still. House had seen people in comas before, but never anyone that he'd personally known. Only patients, distant relatives. But Chase was so still. He was never still when he was awake—he was always chewing on a pencil, jiggling his leg, fooling around with the red tennis ball, spinning around in House's office chair... Even when he slept, he talked in his sleep. If Chase had been sleeping right now, he would have been mumbling something about taking his earmuffs off the cookie.

But Chase was still. He looked almost peaceful.

Correction—he did look peaceful. Chase looked like he might slip away at any second, and that scared House. He felt like if he looked away for just a second, he'd lose Chase, and he'd almost lost him so many times today that it probably wouldn't be a stretch.

But Chase couldn't die. Not now, not after House had just watched the witch's death curse backfire on her (or whatever the hell that had been—he didn't know and frankly, he didn't care about it other than the fact that it meant that he and Chase were safe).

The last time Chase had been unconscious, House had talked to him and that had seemed to bring him back. He wanted to say something now, something witty and meaningful, something so clever that Chase would simply have to wake up just so that he could shoot back with something even better—but no words came to mind. House could only sit there and stare at Chase's waxen face, reminding himself that he didn't believe in god and that he didn't pray.

Looking at Chase's bald head and remembering the golden halo of hair that had been there only hours ago, House was pretty sure that he didn't believe in angels, either.


House had been planning on telling Chase what had happened. About the witch, the death curse, about how close they'd all come to dying yesterday—he'd even rehearsed it, or at least outlined it—but the silence of the room closed his throat up and left him unable to speak. As soon as he shut the door, the buzz of the hospital was shut out, leaving only the steady beep of the heart monitor in this vacuum. House could feel it pressing against his ears.

He couldn't speak. He could open his mouth, try to push the words out past his tongue, but he couldn't get them out. They got all jammed up in his throat.

There wasn't a protocol for dealing with coma patients. In House's book, if you weren't using them for their television, the quiet of their room, or to treat another patient, you were wasting time. What did people do with their unconscious loved ones besides talk to them? Hold their hand?

House shifted in his chair.

He could only be down here for so long. Despite the fact that they had no patients, it would only be an hour or so before someone came to chase him out to the clinic (three guesses who that would be). House didn't know why he was even here. Chase wasn't an 'unconscious loved one', he was just an employee who had happened to be at the right place at the right time, one too many times. And House was fairly certain that he didn't feel any guilt over the fact that Chase had almost died saving him because it hadn't been his fault. It hadn't. The homicidal bitch had been the one who'd cast the death curse.

Whatever helps you sleep at night, echoed through his mind. Furiously, House pushed the thought from his mind.



That had been what the witch had said, just before she'd died. He and Chase were intertwined, and that was why Chase had been the one to save his life over and over, why the death curse had turned on him after giving up on House, and also maybe why the witch's death curse had backfired. Her last word had been intertwined. People's last words were nothing to brush off—had she not been able to kill Chase because he was "intertwined" with House? What the hell did she mean by "intertwined", anyway?

House opened his mouth, intending to start reasoning aloud, but as he drew in a breath, he abruptly felt like his throat was closing up. His heart began to pound, and House quickly exhaled and forgot the idea.

Chase lay on the hospital bed, still as ever. A fine dusting of white-blond hair had begun to appear on his scalp, which looked weird, but House was sure that it would return to its darker golden color after it grew out a bit. Chase had probably had the white-blond hair when he'd been a child, and with green eyes and tanned skin, he'd probably looked like he'd been imported from California. Should he ever get the chance, House would have to search out Chase's apartment for pictures.

Intertwined. House came back to the word.

He and Chase were not intertwined. At least, not as far as he knew. Before the witch had come along, he'd been no more intertwined with Chase than he'd been with Foreman or the night janitor.

He supposed that the witch might not have meant intertwined in the relationship sense—maybe House was supposed to do something really important for Chase, or vice-versa, in the future. Maybe they were supposed to do something really important together in the future. After having someone send a death curse at you and having it almost kill you and your employee, it wasn't completely unreasonable to think that people really had destinies and such. Plus, it was better than the alternative.

The alternative. That he was definitely not thinking about.


House stepped out of the room and stopped, putting the McDonalds bag in the same hand that was holding his cane so that he could shut the door behind him. When the door had shut with a quiet snick and he turned back around, he found Wilson walking towards him from down the hallway.

"Is Chase the new Coma Guy?" Wilson asked as he came nearer.

"Actually, he's taken the place of Vegetative State Guy," House said conversationally. "Coma Guy got more channels, though—think I could talk to Cuddy about discriminating patient entertainment?"

"Probably not," Wilson said. He paused and looked serious for a moment, and just when House thought that Wilson was going to ask how he was doing (or something equally sentimental), Wilson surprised him by changing the subject. "There's someone up in your office that wants to talk to you."

"I'll be in the clinic," House said quickly, turning a sharp right to get on the elevator.

"House!" Wilson called.

House turned back to see Wilson standing in the spot where he'd turned.

"It's about Chase."


Entering the room, House felt more somber than he had in days. And maybe that was just because before, he'd been unwilling to really take in the gravity of the situation, but there was no denial now. Reality had come down to set him straight.

Chase somehow looked even more pathetic today. His skin had retained that waxy, pale color that he'd developed after the surgery, and the tan bandage on his arm from the stitches he'd gotten after the coffee pot incident contrasted sharply. His hair hadn't even reached the length of a decent buzz cut yet—it was still white, still just barely visible. His face had begun to take on a sunken look, particularly around the eyes. House wondered how he'd been able to sit in here yesterday and eat food, because looking at Chase now made him feel slightly ill.

He exhaled quietly, walking from one side of the bed to the other. He turned around and began pacing.


Open mouth.


House paused, mouth open, but he couldn't do it. He couldn't find the words.


Open mouth.


"You're an idiot."

The words seemed to bounce off the walls. House's eyes immediately went to Chase, hoping that the three words would somehow rouse him from his coma that very minute.

They did not.

House sighed, but now that the silence had been broken once, he felt like it would be easier the second time. He needed to speak. If not for Chase, then for himself, because there were definitely some things that needed to be said, and besides that, this whole situation was absolutely ridiculous. He shouldn't be afraid to talk just because Chase was unconscious.

"No one in their right mind picks me as their medical proxy," House said, pushing past the feeling that he shouldn't be doing this. He needed to do this. "I don't know what you were thinking, but your reasoning was incredibly stupid. As soon as you wake up, we're going to fix that."

He swallowed and stopped pacing. He made his way over the side of the bed and stared down at Chase, then he sat down in the chair and leaned forward.

"The witch is dead. She died four days ago. Turned out there was a death curse—she'd put it on me so that whatever disease she had wouldn't kill her before we diagnosed her, or some crazy logic like that. Then death—go out on a limb with me here and think of death as a person—got impatient with me and decided to turn on you instead. The witch said that we're..." House hesitated. "Intertwined. Which is why you kept saving me, apparently. She would have made herself a whole lot clearer if she'd used a metaphor, but anyway. After you passed out on the motorcycle, I, at great personal risk to myself, rushed you to the hospital and with the help of my charming personality, managed to get you immediate help. We'll skip over the details of why you passed out in the first place—think of it as motivation to wake up—and skip to the part where I heroically..."


"So now we're home free. Ding-dong, the witch is dead and all that good stuff. The only thing left to do is for you to wake up, because you're occupying this room that someone with better hair could be using. Not to mention, do you know how much time I'm wasting down here? It's freezing. They need to turn off the fucking air conditioning. And sitting in this chair is like sitting in a urinal. And then Wilson's getting all these crazy ideas—he thinks that I care about you or something. Every time he looks at me, he gets this annoying smirk on his face, like he knows something I don't, and if you don't wake up soon I'm going to strangle him." House paused to take a drink of his Sprite. "And besides that, you owe me big time."

He exhaled, done talking for the moment, and stared at Chase. Then he leaned over and said in a stage whisper, "This is the part where you wake up."

But Chase didn't wake up, his chest rising and falling in even breaths as it had for the last five days.

House sat back in his chair. With every day that passed, the chances of brain damage went up. The chances of Chase waking up went down. He was scheduled for deep-brain electrical stimulation tonight in the hopes that it would wake him up, and if that didn't work... It meant nothing good. It wouldn't mean anything good either, if Chase woke up with severe brain damage. House knew that it was almost beyond the odds now for everything to be all right, but dammit, how were he and Chase supposed to be intertwined if Chase died? There was still something that they had to do, something that they had to achieve together. Chase would have to wake up and be fine—it was fucking written in the stars.

This settled, House drained the last of his Sprite and stood up to go talk to Chase's lawyer.



House looked up to see Foreman standing above him in those ridiculous pink scrubs of his. His expression was grim, and House forgot to breathe for a second.


Quickly, regaining his senses, House demanded, "What, is he dead already?"

They were only five minutes into Chase's surgery—why was Foreman out here? Nothing had gone wrong. It couldn't have. They were home free from death, and they had a weirdo destiny thing to achieve. What could have possibly gone wrong in five minutes?

Foreman shook his head and sighed. "House, why are you here? We all know that you hate Chase. Just leave him alone already."

"Why are you out here, if Chase isn't dead?" House asked, ignoring what Foreman had said and pushing for the information that he needed.

"We're not doing it," Foreman said. "The surgery. He woke up just before we were about to start."

House stared.

"He's not good," Foreman added quietly. "He has motor function, but he seems almost delusional. They're doing some basic neurological tests right now, and he's scheduled for an MRI in the morning—House? House! Where are you going? He's not even coherent. He thinks you died!"

If anything, Foreman's words only made House walk faster.

Chase thought he was dead—which meant that he wasn't delusional, wasn't brain damaged, probably just hysterical. Foreman was wrong. The moron had also probably mentioned the death curse, the witch, and all the other freaky paranormal things that had gone on over the last week or so, which probably hadn't helped him on the no-neurological-damage front. It was no wonder Foreman thought that Chase had gone bonkers. House just had to get in there before they made any declarations on how much brain damage had been done.

They'd probably moved him back to his regular room, which was on the floor above this one, which meant that it was going to take at least five minutes to get up there. Fuck. He wanted to see Chase now. He didn't have the patience to wait for the elevator.

But he had to. As House stood in front of the brown doors, memories of their near-death escapade in the elevator played through his mind. The banter and the panic were the two things that House remembered most vividly. And the part where Chase had pulled them into a free fall from the elevator, where House's stomach had dropped out and he'd wanted to scream but couldn't, where he'd been waiting for the impact that hadn't come. Someone had caught them. Who had it been? Had it...

The firemen. That was right.

As the elevator doors opened, House wondered how he could have forgotten such a detail.

But then, he reasoned, the firemen had been a domino in the long run of dear-death experiences he'd had over those three days.

The mongrels had finally stopped drifting in and out of his office to look at his balcony (or lack thereof) just yesterday. It had been ruled as a manufacturer's defect, and plans to build a new one were already beginning to take shape. Personally, House wasn't sure whether or not he wanted to have a new one up there. On one hand, it gave him an excellent outlet for annoying Wilson—on the other hand, he'd almost died there and wasn't sure if he'd want to be on a similar one again. He knew the fear was irrational. He wasn't afraid to make coffee, or to be on this elevator right now, and really, the idea of the balcony didn't really scare him. It just wasn't something that he particularly wanted to do.

The doors opened and House took off down the hallway, his eyes scanning the plates next to each room, looking for Chase's. He wasn't sure where he would turn if Chase wasn't in his room, but he didn't really feel like thinking about that right now. Anyway, there seemed to be a commotion going on further down the hallway, and it was in the general area of Chase's room. Maybe...


That was the patient in the room next to Chase, coding. The door to Chase's room was shut, but when House opened it, he found two doctors in there with Chase—who was indeed, wide awake and faintly hysterical.

"Please. Please just tell me," Chase said desperately.

"We can't tell you until you complete the neurological exam, Dr. Chase," one of the doctors said—obviously not for the first time, judging by his tone. "It won't take more than twenty minutes, and then we can—"

"I don't have any brain damage!" Chase yelled, and House watched as his attempts to lift his arms were foiled by... restraints? "Just tell me if he's alive!"

"Dr. House—"

"Is alive," House cut in, barely containing his rage.

Everyone in the room turned to stare at him.

"Get out," House said through gritted teeth. "Now. Dr. Foreman will do the neurological exam."

"He's all yours," one of the doctors muttered, throwing the clipboard and pen down on Chase's bed and stalking out of the room. The other followed after a moment's hesitation, rolling his eyes as he passed House on the way out.

That left House and Chase alone.

The only sound in the room was the beeping of the heart monitor and the sound of Chase's ragged breathing. For a long moment, no one moved. House stared at Chase, who stared back at him with wide eyes. Then, wordlessly, House crossed the room and began undoing one of the restraints.

"They wouldn't tell me," Chase whispered.

House snapped off the buckle and slid it off of Chase's hand. "You shouldn't have wanted to know."

Chase blinked, looking drained and confused. "Why not?"

Moving to the other side of the bed, House didn't respond.

"What's happened?" Chase asked, drawing his wrists together as soon as both of them were free. He lowered them and kept them together, as though afraid that someone would put the restraints back on.

"You were unconscious for five days," House said shortly, stepping back from the bed.

If it were possible, Chase's face became even paler. "Five days?"

"And the first thing you worry about when you wake up is whether or not I'm alive?" House exploded, unable to hold it back any longer. "Jesus Christ, Chase! Get a goddamn life! The world doesn't revolve around me. Go get a girlfriend or something."

Chase's mouth fell open, and he appeared to be speechless.

"Also, you're changing your medical proxy," House continued without regard to Chase's stunned expression. "I don't want to care for you. I don't care about you. I'll just do what I want to do, not what you want, and I speak from experience when I say that those situations don't work out. So save it for someone who actually gives a whit about your happiness, because I certainly don't. Now that this death-curse thing is over, you can go about your merry way without having to save me every other hour."

Incredulous, Chase stared at him for another second, then he let his head fall back on his pillow and he started laughing.

It was House's turn to stare.

When Chase finally looked at him, there was a faintly amused smile on his face. He shook his head and exhaled. "Is that really the best you can do, House? You're going to scare me away by telling me that you don't care, that I can leave you behind now that you don't need me anymore? I'm disappointed in you."

House blinked, feeling suddenly like he was about to get the rug pulled out from under him. He scrambled to grab hold of something. "I don't like you. You're annoying as all—"

"Liar," Chase said flatly, cutting him off.


The heart monitor beeped.

"Screw it," House muttered, and then he leaned over and kissed him.


"So the deep-brain electrical stimulation was really a stretch, and your lawyer was adamant that if it didn't work, we would label you as PVS—in which case, we'd pull the metaphorical plug and let you die." House paused. "Which, by the way, is the most retarded thing I've ever heard. Your lawyer got an earful about the difference between a coma and a vegetative state."

A half-smile worked its way onto Chase's face, despite the fact that he looked exhausted. He'd been struggling to stay awake for the last five minutes or so, and House had been pretending not to notice..

"But obviously, you woke up before we could do anything with your brain, so that deal's off," House said. He thought for a minute, reviewing everything that he'd told Chase about the last five days and checking to make sure that he hadn't missed anything. "And... that's about it. See all the exciting stuff you missed out on?"

"Mm," Chase said noncommittally, his eyes closing.

House glanced over at him from the chair he was sitting in. "You still owe me a blowjob, by the way."

Chase let out a quiet snort of laughter, his eyes still shut.

"And I think it's bedtime," House said at last, knowing that Chase would be falling asleep within minutes even if he kept talking.

Sleepily, Chase nodded and drew the sheets closer to himself. "You going?"

House hesitated, then answered. "Nope. Staying right here."

"Kay," Chase mumbled.

House watched him drift off to sleep, listening to his breathing even out, and then he glanced at his hand just to reassure himself.

His fingers were firmly intertwined with Chase's.