Disclaimer: Don't Own, etc.
A/N: I know I should be working on my multi-chapter epic, but I was thinking about the season finale and what's going to happen next, and this idea came to me. I hope you enjoy it.
Chase was shown into a well-lit but window-less room. It had a nondescript conference table with chairs that looked to be passably comfortable. He decided not to sit right away since he would probably be sitting during his meeting with House, and he had no idea how long it would take.
After a couple of minutes, the door opened, and an orderly stepped in, with House limping behind. After House entered, the orderly turned to Chase and asked him if he needed anything. Chase said no and was surprised when the orderly left without asking House the same question. Chase winced imperceptibly as he wondered if that was just part of the program to break down the patients. He pushed the thought out of his mind.
Chase looked at House. House was wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt. They were a little baggy, either because House had lost weight or because they never really fit him in the first place. House's hair had been cut much shorter, and Chase noticed the thinning spots. House's beard had grown in (not a good idea to give depressed or delusional mental patients razors, Chase supposed), but it still had a very stubbly look to it.
House motioned with his cane for Chase to sit down. Chase decided to turn the chair he selected so that it was parallel to the table, hoping House would do the same, which he did. This way, they faced each other without the table between them, although House's chair was a good five feet away from Chase's.
They sat in silence for a moment. Chase decided he should speak first. "Wilson asked me to visit you. He said you wanted to talk to me about something."
Although the doctors at the hospital kept telling House he was getting better, he wasn't very convinced. True, Hallucination Amber and Hallucination Kutner were mostly gone, but they had been replaced by Hallucination John House, who was a worse SOB than either Amber or Kutner could have ever dreamed of being. "Who is this pretty boy?" John sneered. "Oh, that's right. He used to be one of your employees, until you dumped his sorry ass. You were always good at picking losers."
House attempted to tune out John, just so he could concentrate on what he was saying to Chase. "I tried to kill you."
"What?" Chase asked, shocked by House's statement.
"I can see why this one would be such a crappy doctor -- he can't remember anything. Or is he just too stupid to know what you did?" John snarked.
House waved his hand in the air near his ear as if he were trying to get rid of a mosquito. Chase noticed it and thought it was probably a nervous tick House had acquired.
"The stripper I brought to your bachelor party with the strawberry body butter that put you in anaphylactic shock, remember?" House offered.
"Oh, that . . . " Chase's voice trailed off. He was momentarily at a loss for words.
"Just so you know, I'm almost positive it had nothing to do with me being jealous about Cameron." House explained. "I can't tell you why because that involves another delusion I had that I'm not at liberty to disclose; you'll just have to take my word for it."
"I think this guy is so dumb you're going to have to use smaller words with him, just like I had to with you," John interjected.
"I didn't think you were trying to hurt me," Chase said, leaving the comment about Cameron alone at least for the time being, and, hopefully, forever. "It was just an accident."
"I don't think it was," House stated without much emotion.
"Why?" Chase asked. "Why would you have any reason to want to hurt me?"
"I don't know," House answered honestly. "You hadn't even worked for me for almost two years, so it's not like you were aggravating me or anything."
House waited for a comment for John. He was still in the room, but, for some reason, he seemed to be quiet.
"If you killed every fellow that aggravated you, you'd be in here for being homicidal, not delusional," Chase replied. "Since you brought it up, maybe there is something unresolved for you about the way I left? Foreman and Cameron left of their own volition, but you had to fire me to get me to go. Did you somehow resent that?"
"Not that I was aware of at the time." House said. "Now that you mention it, why did I have to fire you? You'd been there the longest. You knew the job was only supposed to last for three years. You were the best diagnostician on the team, so you knew it was time for you to move on."
Chase was surprised that House thought of him as the best diagnostician, since he had always thought Foreman was the favorite, but he didn't want to get sidetracked by that. "It's hard for me to leave places I feel secure, or at least places I'm familiar with," he corrected himself as he noticed House's eye roll. "It must be my dysfunction from being raised by an alcoholic mum and an absent dad."
"Well, okay," House began, "but all I did was abuse you, why would you stay around for that?'
"You didn't just abuse me," Chase corrected, "you made me a better doctor." "And at least I knew what I did mattered to someone, that I was worth abusing. My own dad didn't even have time for that."
"Bad attention is better than no attention?" House asked, noticing and resenting the smug expression on John's face.
"I guess . . . " Chase responded.
"Well, if that's the reason I tried to kill you, will you accept my apology then?" House asked, returning the discussion to the topic at hand.
"Why do you need to apologize for something that was most likely unintentional?" Chase asked in return. "Is this some sort of twelve-step program for mental illness?"
"My shrink thinks that at least part of the reason I'm delusional is because of guilt," House explained. "Amber and Kutner can't forgive me anymore, but you can."
"You don't need forgiveness for Kutner. You had nothing to do with his death," Chase pointed out.
"I didn't see it coming," House said, looking down.
"No one did," Chase responded.
"An alleged brilliant diagnostic mind and I didn't see it in someone who worked directly with me for over a year," House countered.
"Wilson and I aren't going to have to worry about you donning a pair of tights and a cape and trying to fly off the top of this building, are we?" Chase asked, trying to get House to see how ridiculously hard he was being on himself.
"Definitely no tights. The cape is pretty unlikely, too. And cripples can't walk, let alone fly," House replied. "I notice you didn't say anything about me not needing forgiveness for Amber."
"One delusion at a time," Chase retorted. "You don't need to be forgiven for what happened to her, either. Wrong place (her choice), wrong time (garbage truck driver's fault), wrong pills (the prescribing physician's fault – who wasn't you)."
"I didn't know you knew so much about it," House remarked.
"I was around when you figured it out, remember?" Chase reminded him.
"Must have blocked that particular detail out of my mind," House admitted.
"Yeah, well, your thinking processes haven't exactly been working all that well, lately," Chase said.
"So, do you forgive me for trying to kill you?" House asked again.
"Wow, you're persistent if nothing else," Chase responded in frustration. "I don't need to forgive you. As I said, your head was messed up. I'm fine."
House looked at Chase with his best set of puppy dog eyes. "Oh, for God's sake," Chase exclaimed in exasperation, "If you need me to forgive you, then I forgive you."
"Thanks," said House, with an air of satisfaction at wearing Chase down.
Chase noticed the clock on the wall in back of House. "Was there anything else you wanted to talk to me about?"
"Leaving so soon?" House asked with some of the old snark in his voice. "Has marriage turned Cameron all domestic? Is she waiting with dinner on the table?"
"Uh, no. It's my turn to pick up the takeout tonight," Chase smiled sheepishly.
"I bet that even with the newlywed sex, you're not going to have as exciting an evening as I am," House said sarcastically. "After you leave, I get to talk a guy who communicates directly with Jesus, a guy who receives alien transmissions, and another guy who is caught up in a vast CIA conspiracy."
Chase smiled and stood up. "You're right; my night is going to be dull by comparison." House was also standing up at this point.
Chase looked him in the eye. "Speaking of Jesus, I'm praying for you."
"Why?" House snorted in derision. "Didn't they teach you at seminary school that God doesn't listen to prayers for atheistic bastards? It's kind of a professional discourtesy thing."
"I think He does," Chase responded softly.
"Why would you even tell me this?" House asked. "So, when I'm better and back at work, I can ruthlessly mock you about it?"
"That's what I'm praying for," Chase replied. "I want you back the way you were. I need you."
House stared at Chase for a long moment, his eyes filling up. "Damn medication," House grunted, angrily wiping away tears. "It makes me cry for no reason."
Chase knew House was uncomfortable crying in front of him, even with the excuse of medication. "Can I come back and visit again?" he asked, trying to change the subject.
"Nah," House answered. "You shouldn't be spending time here with me. You should be out there living your life."
"Thanks, Dad," Chase replied, attempting his own snark. Somehow it didn't come out that way; it sounded genuinely appreciative instead.
Chase wasn't sure if House would react emotionally, break down further and be even more embarrassed if Chase saw it. To prevent that, Chase put his arms out and hugged House. He was more than surprised when he felt House's arms close around him.
They stayed like that for a couple of minutes. Without thinking about it, Chase turned toward House's cheek and planted a soft kiss there. He thought he felt House squeeze him just a little harder before House pulled away.
"'Bye," House said.
"See ya," Chase responded.
House noticed that John was gone.
Chase stepped outside the room and found an orderly to take House back to his room. He left with the feel of stubble and the taste of salt on his lips.