I can't believe I'm fired! Again!

Disclaimer: I do not own House.

Note: Spoilers for the second episode of season six "Epic Fail", right after House leaves Mayfield and before he returns to PPTH.

Thirteen was sitting in the cafeteria after her conversation with Foreman, shell-shocked. "I can't believe he would do that to me…"

Chase, who had been enjoying his dinner in peace, made the mistake of looking over at her. She caught his eye and silently begged him to come over. He quickly glanced around for someone to save him, but no one else he knew was in the cafeteria at the time. Reluctantly, he approached the distraught doctor. "You can't believe who-?" he began.

"Foreman," Thirteen supplied.

"Did what to you?" Having worked for House for several years, Chase was no stranger to being interrupted and continued as if she hadn't said anything.

"He fired me!" Thirteen burst out angrily.

Chase blinked, surprised. "He's only actually had the power to do that for forty-five minutes…"

Thirteen glared at him. "You're not helping."

"Sorry," Chase apologized. This would take twice as long if she was mad at him.

"I dated the bastard," Thirteen growled.

"Foreman fired you because you're dating?" Chase asked, confused. "Did you break up or something?"

"Not. Yet," Thirteen told him through gritted teeth.

"Did you have a fight or something? He probably didn't mean it," Chase assured her.

"He fired me!" Thirteen repeated. "How can he not mean it?"

Chase looked at her strangely. "…I'll get there in a second," he promised. "Did he give you any reason for firing you?"

Thirteen rolled her eyes. "He said that he 'valued our relationship' more than my career."

Chase winced sympathetically. "Tactful as always, I see. Do you know he still won't admit that we're friends?"

"I noted you weren't one of his three Facebook friends when our patient had it up earlier," Thirteen acknowledged.

"I can understand why you're on there since you're dating-" Chase began.

"For now," Thirteen muttered.

Chase nodded. "Right. And Cameron worked with us for three years, plus he tried to kill her, so that's only fair."

"Wait, what?" This was the first Thirteen had heard of that.

"Long story," Chase said. "And then he felt guilty after Kutner died and approved his friend request posthumously. Why won't he friend me?"

"I don't know," Thirteen said honestly. "Why do you keep hanging out with him?"

"I feel kind of sorry for him," Chase confessed. "I mean, look at me: I'm doing what I love, I just married the girl of my dreams, and I've mostly escaped House's influence. I'm happy. Then look at him: he's starting his sixth year of fellowship, he can't get a job anywhere else, he didn't even transfer departments, he's arrogant and boring enough to be off-putting, and he's not even that good at Diagnostics."

"And that doesn't bother you?" Thirteen sounded dubious.

Chase shrugged. "His ego has nothing on House's and there are worse faults than being dull."

"House has never fired anyone because he assumed that he was more important to them than their career, though, has he?" It was a rhetorical question, but since it was House they were talking about, Chase decided to answer it anyway.

"No. The closest we've gotten is when Cameron refused to come back to work for him unless she got a date out of it."

"Really?" Thirteen sounded fascinated. "What happened?"

"They didn't want to talk about it," Chase said simply.

"Foreman offered to help me job hunt," Thirteen said suddenly, unable to stop dwelling on it.

"So, wait…this is all because of the fact you had problems accepting his authority?" Chase got back on track.

"He was our equal one day, our boss the next!" Thirteen explained her dilemma.

Chase cocked his head quizzically. "I thought Foreman was the middle-level management between Cuddy and House? House was supposed to run everything by him?"

Thirteen shot him a 'you must be kidding' look.

"Okay, so I know House wouldn't ever do that," Chase conceded. "But that IS Foreman's job. Besides, he always takes over for House when House gets into trouble. And that happens annually, at the very least."

"I don't recall-" Thirteen started to say.

"Did he take over when House was hallucinating? And when he quit after he stopped taking vicodin that one time?" Chase interjected. "I don't remember hearing any problems then. And believe me, as Foreman's closest non-Facebook-worthy friend, I would have heard about any problems."

"That's different!" Thirteen protested. "That wasn't official and it didn't last very long."

"It's been less than a week," Chase pointed out.

"The power is going to his head!" Thirteen insisted.

Chase grinned. "That, I'll buy. What did he do?"

"He told me we were having dinner together," Thirteen revealed.

Chase didn't see what the big deal was. "Don't you live together?"

"So?"

"So don't you usually eat together?" Chase inquired.

"I meant dinner out," Thirteen corrected. "I asked if we could do it at eight instead of seven and he told me no because we had reservations! Can you believe him?"

"Was it a nice restaurant?"

"Well, yeah…" Thirteen admitted.

"Well then, what was he supposed to do?" Chase asked her. "A lot of restaurants that you need reservations for are really busy, so you can't really change the time at the last second like that."

"He still might have asked," Thirteen sniffed.

"You could have said no," Chase pointed out.

"Oh, I got him back," Thirteen said, sounding satisfied. "I stayed here to supervise our patient's procedure. Yeah, I had more work, but that'll teach him to not directly ask me every time he wants to do something. THEN he got made that Taub and I completely ignored his orders and did whatever we felt like in regards to the patient."

Chase raised his eyebrows. "What would House have done if you'd pulled that with him?"

Thirteen shuddered. "I don't know and I don't think I want to know. He would certainly make us suffer before he killed us."

"So it's okay to disrespect Foreman's authority when you wouldn't dream of doing it to House without tattling to Cuddy first?" Chase wanted to make sure he understood the situation.

Thirteen nodded. "Basically, yes."

"So do you get why he's pissed?"

"No."

Chase sighed. "Of course you don't."

"Then the patient brought in doctors from another hospital," Thirteen continued.

Chase's eyes widened. "Wait, he did what? He can't do that!"

"Foreman made them leave, yes. But before they did leave, they offered a contradictory theory. A theory that I had proposed earlier, but Foreman shot down," Thirteen was getting worked up just thinking about it. "The patient asked me what I thought-"

"You didn't disagree with him, did you?" Chase looked horrified. "Because I can tell you right now that that would NOT have gone over very well."

"No," Thirteen assured him. "I wanted to, but I didn't. I was diplomatic and said both theories had merits even though Foreman's theory was stupid."

"Then what was the problem?" Chase asked. "Did you tell Foreman his theory was stupid?"

"Not in so many words, no. The patient hacked Foeman's Facebook profile and saw our vacation pictures, so he deduced that if I agreed with Foreman, I would have backed him," Thirteen explained.

"Or just that if you agreed you would have backed him because he's your boss," Chase mused. "Still, it's too bad House isn't here. He would have liked your patient, I think."

"What would it matter if I did disagree?" Thirteen demanded. "We always disagree with House! That's half of why he hired us."

Chas raised his eyebrows. "In front of the patient?"

"Well, no," Thirteen admitted. "But that's just because he's never there!"

"Anything else?" Chase asked.

"Well…" Thirteen trailed off, thinking hard. "Just when he said to stop reading the email suggestions."

"You read them anyway?" Chase guessed.

"It was from House!" Thirteen defended. "And he was right! And he figured it out a good six hours before Foreman's shower inspired him!"

"I'm not even going to touch the second half of that sentence…" Chase murmured to himself. "And House out-diagnosed Foreman through a case summary online? No wonder he's pissed."

"I didn't tell him that," Thirteen looked a little offended that he thought she'd be that stupid. "And it wasn't even because of that, either. Taub quit and he decided that since we didn't adjust perfectly in three days, this could destroy our relationship so he fired me. 'For us'."

"So…let me get this straight: he actually told you that he was firing you because he wanted to preserve your romantic relationship?" At her nod, he blurted out, "What, is he stupid?"

"I'm beginning to think so," Thirteen said grimly. "I mean, how can he head a department if no one works for him? Yeah, we get lots of applications, but – like Taub – they only want to work with House."

"And you're planning on breaking up with him, right?" Chase questioned.

"Oh, definitely," Thirteen said immediately. "The minute I can think about him without wanting to kill him."

"So that plan backfired spectacularly," Chase noted.

Thirteen snorted. "Understatement of the century."

"Not to mention that if he came right out and said that, he's practically daring you to file a wrongful termination lawsuit," Chase added. "It's not even alleged, either; he outright said it."

"He could probably say that it was against hospital policy since I was going to work directly for him," Thirteen countered. "Most workplace have policies that, at the very least, prohibit boss-employee relations, if not outright ban relationships within the company."

Chase couldn't help it; he burst out laughing. "Please. Our hospital has no such policy. If he honestly thought you two couldn't work together, he should have transferred you. Maybe you could have stayed where you've been the last three months. In fact, ask Cuddy about it. She'll transfer you, I guarantee it."

"But she hates me!" Thirteen said bluntly.

"Doesn't matter," Chase said frankly. "She'll want to head off yet another lawsuit if she can. PPTH has some of the most experienced lawyers around, you know."

"Okay," Thirteen said slowly. "That covers my employment, but the thing is, I don't want to work for another department. I want to work for the Diagnostics Department. What did you mean when you said he didn't mean to fire me? Did you mean that I would just transfer?"

Chase looked rather amused. "Not exactly."

"Than what do you mean?" Thirteen pressed.

"The first time any one of us lost our job was Cameron, way back on our first year as House's fellows," Chase began. "There was this pharmaceutical guy named Vogler who must've talked the hospital into signing the worst contract ever, because he donated one hundred million dollars to PPTH…as long as everyone did exactly what he said, otherwise he would yank all that money away. House, being House, got on his bad side and Vogler forced him to fire someone. Cameron volunteered. Once Vogler was gone, House was so desperate to get her back, he agreed to go out with her even though she was kind of obsessive about her crush on him back then."

Thirteen's reaction was not unexpected. "Wow. That's dedication."

Chase shrugged. "House hates change. He's fired everyone several times over the years and mine was the only one that stuck. Hell, he fired Kutner before he even knew his name but because his 6/9 gimmick amused him, he let him stay. He fired you twice, didn't he? Once when he fired all of the girls in his little survival test – except Amber, who was with the boys – and then unfired you because he felt you learned from your mistake and once when you spent too much time partying and started coming in late and hung-over."

"That was House, though, this is Foreman," Thirteen disagreed.

"Everyone always says that Foreman is so much like House," Chase said. "Frankly, I don't really see it, except they don't do well with other people and have huge egos. Either way, Foreman has spent the last five years working for House and has learned his methods well. If you'll recall, Foreman had quit after his fellowship ended but came back a few weeks later. Like I said, House hates change so if you want to get your job back, just don't go away and the whole thing will just blow right over. You discovered that yourself the second time you got fired, didn't you?"

Thirteen nodded. "Why did your firing stick then?" she seemed genuinely curious.

Chase shrugged. "Lots of reasons, really. My fellowship was ending, for one. I had solved several cases those last few months and I was really getting good at Diagnostics. It was time for a change." He grinned. "Besides, the fact that House fired me because I had dealt with most of my issues and Wilson called him on his hatred of change was perfect for a wrongful termination lawsuit that Cuddy settled by offering me a place here. Cameron got the ER job because she's a compulsive organizer and the ER was an absolute mess."

"So…all I have to do is pretend I'm not fired and sooner or later I'll get my job back?" Thirteen asked hopefully.

Chase nodded. "Yep. Besides, House should be coming back soon and he will definitely bring you back."

"But he quit, remember?" Thirteen reminded him.

"I know," Chase agreed. "But he can never stay away from this place for long."

"Thanks," Thirteen smiled at the blonde doctor before she stood up and left the cafeteria.

Almost as soon as she left, Foreman took her place at the table. "What were you and Remy talking about just now?"

Chase looked at him blankly. "Who?"

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