House grunted, tossing on the bed.
Chase sighed, sitting up and reaching towards him, finding his elbow, then working up to his face.
It was creased with pain, screwed up into a grimace.
Chase scooted himself closer to House, resting his head on the older doctor's shoulder.
"Shhh," he said quietly, running his hand over House's chest, "it's ok." House got really agitated if the pain got too bad for him to handle, "how bad is it? Can you give me a number?"
He heard House swallow, "alternating between five and seven. Cramping..." he trailed off, voice tense with pain.
Chase turned onto his stomach, crossing his left leg over House's good one, "hang in there."
He felt a movement.
"House, what is it about being in pain that makes you forget I can't see?"
A forced, stressed laugh.
"Dunno. I nodded, by the way."
Chase sighed, feeling House tense beneath his body.
"That's not a seven."
"Spiking," House ground out, voice even more stressed than before.
Chase moved his hand down, slowly so House could stop him if he wanted, and carefully, gingerly, slid his hand under House's clenched one, rubbing the hard, knotting muscles.
House suddenly pushed him away, and Chase thought he had gone too far, but the sound of desperate retching dispelled that thought.
He shifted further to the right of the bed, sliding his arm around House's middle and pressing the length of his body against House's.
House's hand covered his, as the older doctor finally stopped, panting.
"Dunno. 's really bad. Really..."
Chase bit his lip as House tensed again, squeezing tighter.
The pain had been getting worse, even House admitted that now. There was no evidence of atrophy on the MRI, at least according to Wilson, Cuddy, Cameron, Foreman, and House.
Two falls in the last week had left House in bed most of yesterday and today, but the pain only seemed to be getting worse.
House suddenly turned in Chase's grip, rolling onto his left side and curling up against Chase, panting.
Chase felt wet soaking through his shirt and bit his lip.
House's hand tangled in the younger doctor's shirt, gripping it tightly.
"House, come on. This is way too bad. At least call Wilson."
House shook his head into Chase's shoulder.
"No. Not that... pathetic," he said, panting between words.
"House, it's not pathetic, it's practical."
House shook his head again.
Chase raised his head, though he couldn't exactly look at the ceiling.
Then he pushed House away, gently untangling him.
"I'm calling Wilson."
House hand had shot out, gripping his wrist.
Chase turned back to him.
"No," he repeated, "please."
"House, what the hell?!"
A long sigh from the bed.
"I don't... not again, ok? Every time, I end up calling Wilson, and he goes all gooey on me, and all caring, and acts like I'm one of his stupid cancer patients. I can't stand that happening again."
Chase stood, still, for a moment.
"But you don't mind my concern?"
The hand on his wrist squeezed briefly, gently.
"Not because of what you're thinking. Well, yeah, kinda. Because you get how pity sucks. You wouldn't ever do that to me."
Chase swallowed, startled by the trusting, intimate words.
He had never had a relationship this real, this... alive. It was like his life, his emotions, his state of being were a series of notes, and this was the highest one yet, filled with tension and reminding him that there was so far to fall if he screwed up, back into the low, aching notes of loneliness in his apartment and the darkness.
He climbed back onto the bed, scooted himself over until he was against the warm body of his partner, and felt his way down the familiar landscape.
"Then how about a distraction?" he asked, hand on House's face, ready to guide himself towards it.
He felt House smile tensely beneath his fingers.
An hour or so later, House was snoring peacefully, pain forgotten in the rush of endorphins.
Chase was lying half across him, head resting on his shoulder, arm across his chest.
He felt the slow rise and fall beneath him, and smiled a little.
He had never felt this, either.
The feeling of being able to know and do exactly what was needed to bring comfort and happiness to another human being.
The feeling of knowing he was the only one who could do that for that one person.
The feeling that someone else was there to enjoy that feeling in reverse.
He had failed.
He had failed to take care of a person he cared about, she had died, and he had failed.
He had failed patients, he had failed his mother.
His father had always thought he failed.
But this time... he didn't even have to try to succeed.
All he had to do was just be him.
And that, more than anything else, was the most wonderful feeling in the world for him.
A kind of relief that soaked through to his bones and made him feel light.
He loved every inch of House's prickly asshole self, and he knew House loved him back.
He knew this had started as a kiss in a cold hospital room, but it had turned into so much more, over the last six months.
He loved every minute he spent with House. Not to say that he spent all his time with him, House still went out bowling or whatever with Wilson—when his leg could handle it—, Chase still went out to bars with Foreman and Cameron.
Foreman had gotten over the awkwardness less than a week after he had been back, but Cameron was still edgy.
His panic attack in a crowded bar they had gone out to after work hadn't helped, though Foreman had seemed pretty unaffected by it; just dragged him outside, got him to sit on a bench, and talked quietly to him.
He had then called house, and held the phone to chase's ear, when it became clear Chase didn't really know who Foreman was right then.
But every moment he *was* with House, which was most of the time at home and at work, and almost all the time he was going somewhere, had that same high note as he was feeling right now.
He shifted himself a little bit further on top of House, and closed his useless eyes to go to sleep.
House's worsening pain aside, Chase had never felt so comfortable and happy with his life.
The next morning, he called a cab to take them to the hospital, because House couldn't move under his own power without screaming.
Chase spent most of the ride rubbing House's back as the older doctor panted into Chase's shoulder, whimpering desperately at every bump in the road.
The taxi driver kept asking if they were sure they didn't need an ambulance instead.
Chase wasn't sure if he was sure, but House would have killed him if he had made a scene like that.
By the time they reached the hospital, House was leaking tears of pain onto Chase's shoulder, and Chase was extremely worried.
The taxi driver ran inside to get help, while Chase carefully helped his trembling partner out of the seat, holding most of his weight.
Familiar, clacking footsteps accompanied the taxi driver's scuffing ones, and Chase could hear the sound of a slightly squeaky wheel approaching as well.
Cuddy and the taxi-driver helped Chase transfer House into the wheelchair, and, after paying his fare—which the cabbie tried to brush off—Chase followed cuddy inside with a hand on her arm. He had somehow managed to forget his stick, in all the hurry and worry.
House's skyrocketing heartrate earned him a bed in the ER, and Chase stayed outside, knowing he would just be in the way.
Foreman's footsteps approached a hand on his shoulder.
"You wanna go in there? I'll get you out if it's too noisy."
Chase shook his head.
"I'll be in the way."
"In the way of what? They hooked him up to a bunch of monitors, started him on pain meds, gave him a sedative. There's nobody even working on him."
Chase was silently thanking anyone who was listening that Foreman wasn't stupid, and got without his explaining that he would lose it as soon as he entered the noisy emergency room, wound up as he was.
Half an hour later, House had been transferred to a regular room, and Chase was lying on the bed next to him, arm across his chest again.
He was asleep thanks to the sedation, but the machine beeping his heartrate told Chase he was still in some amount of pain.
Eventually the sedatives wore off, and House grunted, then relaxed, shifting into a more comfortable position on the bed.
"Hey," said Chase, snuggling closer, "how's the pain?"
"A lot better."
Chase nodded into House's shoulder.
"You know... there's something I should probably tell you..."
"No, about your--"
Cuddy's footsteps entered, Chase sat up.
"Don't worry, Chase," she said, coming in and touching him on the shoulder, "I just wanted to see how House was doing."
Chase nodded, lying back down.
"You're not just here to check on me, I know that self-important step. What do you want?" asked House, and Chase could hear the smirk in his voice.
"There was a pneumonia outbreak in the oncology department, that spread up and down a floor. If you can help, you're helping. If you can't, I'm going to move you to a different floor, since it's pretty virulent, and I don't want two department heads getting sick."
"Wilson?" asked Chase, frowning.
"Yes. Not a bad case, but he's definitely sick."
"In the quarantine area. Which you're only going to be allowed in if you're helping."
"Smart. I think I can manage, as long as I don't have to do too much standing while examining patients, and you tell me what room Wilson's in."
"302. And you better not spend all your time hanging out with him. Chase, you can help too, but I'm not making you if you're uncomfortable."
"What about me! What if I'm uncomfortable?" whined House.
Chase could practically hear cuddy roll her eyes, as she walked out the door.
House shifted next to him.
"You wanna go back to the office, or come with?" he asked in a much calmer tone.
"I can still *listen* to medical things."
"Good. I was worried I was going to have to sit through Wilson coughing questions about his precious patients at me by myself."
Chase smiled, holding on to House's shoulder as he climbed off the bed.
"Glad to help," he said, laughing. Which, honestly, he was. He was glad there was still something hands-on he could do, and he was glad that neither cuddy nor House questioned him on that.
He ended up sitting on a stool while a line of people came towards him, and he told them to breath in, out, hold....
House was on a stool next to him, close enough to whisper him though any problems, as well as keep him from freaking out in the noisy room.
The next patient in, he lifted his stethoscope, pressed it against their shirt.
"Shh, House. I'm trying to listen."
Chase was frowning.
"There's lung crackling, but it doesn't sound like pneumonia...."
"Chase," said House, loudly and firmly.
Chase withdrew the stethoscope, turning towards House.
"Remember that thing I was going to tell you earlier today?"
"Um, don't be mad at me for not getting to finish my sentence."
"What are you talking about, House?" asked Chase, seriously confused.
Chase stopped, midway through opening his mouth to ask House another question.
He turned back to his patient.
Then he swallowed.
"You have lung cancer. It's advanced," he said, in a low monotone. He was too shocked to say anything else.
"I know," said the familiar voice, "I've been getting treatment from Dr. Wilson on an outpatient basis."
Chase swallowed again.
"House, you knew?"
"When he showed up and told you he was here for the SLE conference. I figured it out."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Then? Because he asked not me to, and because of what you told me."
"Wilson didn't tell you? Wilson didn't tell me?"
"Patient confidentiality. Or analism, depends on your point of view."
"Um... what happened?"
Chase climbed off the stool, grabbed House's arm, and dragged him out of there, pushing through groups of people because he didn't have the presence of mind to try and go around them.
House stopped, behind him, and he turned.
Chase sighed, stepping back towards him and putting his hand on the side of the older doctor's face.
House was sweaty and warm, breathing heavily.
"There're chairs over there, right?"
He ducked under House's right arm, helping him make it over to the chairs, which Chase banged his shin on before stopping.
House lifted his arm, sitting down as Chase held on to his sleeve.
Chase felt House lean forward, rubbing his bad leg.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
A long sight from his left.
"Because I didn't want you to have to feel that you had to worry about a man who had never given you anything back. Or feel guilty because you didn't care."
"He called you. He got me this job."
"No he didn't. I told you that during the interview because I wanted to see how you'd react, not because it was true. I wouldn't hire someone just 'cause their dad made a phone call. You had an interesting reaction, that's why I hired you."
Chase swallowed, leaning against House's side.
"Did it ever occur to you that I could have been there with him?"
"No, it didn't," House admitted, "do you think that really could have happened?"
Chase paused for a while, then sighed.
"I guess not. No, you're right. I guess.... I guess I'm not mad at you."
He heard House sigh, relieved.
He sighed as well, resting his head against House's shoulder.
"Can you see him?"
"Yeah. Sitting in a chair. Looks confused. And upset."
Chase closed his eyes, gripping House's sleeve a little tighter.
"You wanna talk to him?"
Chase shook his head.
"No, but... I should."
"Kay. You want me there?"
"No... is that ok?"
"He's *your* dad."
House stood, grunting a little, and Chase followed him over, this time at a much slower pace.
House got him sitting in a chair next to his dad, then he heard limping footsteps going away. The noise of the crowd hit him, swirling and confused, disorienting now that House wasn't next to him, but he suppressed the panic.
"What happened, Robert? Car accident?"
"Cancer. Optic chasm extending down the optic tracks and spreading into the hypothalamus," Chase said, in a slow recitation, "you?"
"Stage two carcinoma."
"Didn't sound like it."
"Stage four mass in the left lower lobe spreading throughout the left lung. You're on the list for a transplant but the list's too long. You're going to be dead before you get one. Although, given the slowness of the progression--"
"How do you know how slow it progressed?"
"House thought you'd be dead in three months, but it's been over a year, and you're being seen on an outpatient basis. Which means Wilson's got you on an experimental treatment, and it's working."
"How do you know it's experimental?"
"Nothing that's fully approved works that well."
"You're not upset that Dr. House didn't tell you?"
"He made a promise."
"That doesn't usually stop him, does it?"
"Are you trying to pin this on him?"
"I can't see you. If you just shrugged, you're an idiot."
"Are you trying to pin this on him?"
"No, I just--"
"Yes, you are. Because you want me to feel good towards you and bad towards him, and maybe a little bonding is gonna happen."
"Well... I don't..."
"You left a fifteen year old boy to choose between doing the right thing and letting his mother drink herself to death."
"You shouldn't have had to deal with that, I didn't mean for it to--"
"No, I shouldn't have! In sickness and in health, that ring a bell? How about 'till death do us part? I was fifteen years old, and I understood that more than you. You don't abandon the people you love just because they have problems!"
"Right, and Dr. House, I heard that you went behind his back and told stuff to a man who wanted him fired."
"I didn't love him, he was my boss, I hated him because he always treated me like crap! I also had—have—a screwed-up sense of loyalty, thanks to you!"
"Robert, I never meant for that to happen!"
"I know you didn't! You keep telling me that, do you think it fixes ANYTHING?!" he had stood up, shaking, "do you think I'm just going to FORGIVE you because you didn't MEAN it?!"
"Don't do that again! Don't call me Robby! I'm not a child, Dad! I stopped being a child the moment you left! Because I had to be the adult, I had to take care of her, I had to grow up in a split second, I nearly had to drop out of school to take care of her! Maybe if I had she would still be alive! Do you have any idea how that feels?! To carry the thought that maybe if I had been a little less selfish, I could have saved her!? To feel guilty about every goddamned day I'm a doctor because if I had dropped out, I maybe could have saved her?! You think you're sorry; well you're not nearly sorry enough! You didn't even come to her funeral, dad! You sent money. You sent goddamned money. Do you know what happened to that money?! I threw it away. I threw it away because I hated you, because I never wanted to have anything to..." he was hyperventilating, his ears were ringing, he was going to pass out...
He stumbled, panting, heard rowan stand to help him, pushed him away, fell—arms caught him from the back, familiar arms.
He turned around, held on to the older doctor, asked him to get him out of there, tried to calm down, tried to not pass out.
House wasn't going anywhere.
"I didn't mean for any of this to happen," said his father's voice.
"Not nearly good enough," snapped House's, in a tone Chase had never heard before in his life, "not even close."
"It's all I've got."
"Then *you're* not nearly good enough."
House guided Chase away, through the crowd, into the elevator, down the hall, into House's office, onto the recliner, and held him close as he cried, sobbing himself into exhaustion.
Rowan Chase was left absolutely stunned by the protective anger that had been in House's eyes.
He had never seen even a trace of emotion on that face before, besides curiosity.
He shook his head and got to his feet.