Pairing: House/Chase of course.
Rating: PG-13 (because I can't write without swearing a little)
Disclaimer: Not mine. Can't afford them. Spent all my money on the DVDs. Song is by a band called Rooster.
Summary: How Rowan Chase's death should have been.
Notes: Uh, this is AU, basically, because the program totally didn't give Chase the breakdown he should have had when his dad died, so I have moved Rowan Chase's death to *during* "The Mistake" so that there can be lots of hurt/comfort instead.
You tell me that all of your angels and demons are constantly kicking and fighting and screaming
Chase being drunk at work is a new and exciting thing, and House wants to enjoy it as long as possible. The young Australian-looking terribly, terribly young- has stolen a bottle of whisky out of the bottom of House’s drawer and has drunk most of it by the time House finds him. Eleven thirty at night, looking lost, his cell phone ringing futilely on the desk as Chase spins himself around and around in House’s desk chair. House could tell him to get the hell out of his seat, but he doesn’t, and instead sits in one of his extra chairs, normally appreciated by lesser mortals such as Wilson. Chase continues to spin himself around until he gets too dizzy, tumbles sideways off the chair, and then begins to throw up into House’s bin. It’s kind of amusing, actually, to watch the pretty blonde boy on his knees choking up ropes of vomit, furiously glaring at nothing.
“Great entertainment as this is,” House begins eventually, “Watching you yawn in Technicolor-” (and isn’t he glad that he spent time learning all those euphemisms for vomiting) “-And toss your cookies all over my office-”
“I’m using a bin.” Chase slurs malevolently, and House calmly ignores him as another mouthful of stomach acid and sour alcohol comes back up again (been there, done that).
“-But I never normally get this much fun for free, so tell me- why are you hurling undigested wombat food all over the place?”
Chase retches at House’s question and then sits back. His blue eyes are streaming, his face is sheened with sweat, and his cheeks are flushed.
“My dad died.” He says slowly, carefully, as though wondering whether he’ll be sick again.
“Oh.” House replies, suddenly wishing he was anywhere but here and that Cameron was laughing at the hurling kid instead of him. She’d know what to say right now, for one thing, and two; this is actually kind of gross. “It was only a matter of time.” He adds without thinking.
“You knew.” Chase says softly, eyes burning, knuckles white as he fights the war with his stomach.
“Maybe.” House replies warily, because Chase is actually starting to look quite pathetic. The Australian carefully gets to his feet, wiping off his mouth.
“You bastard.” He says angrily. “I’m- I will-” He presses the heel of his hand against what must be one hell of a headache.
“Are you trying to threaten me?” House asks, trying not to sound quite as cheerful as he feels. “Because I should warn you now, I can take anything you throw at me.” Chase reaches for the paperweight on his desk. “Ok, so maybe not low-flying murderous heavy rock-type things, and maybe not bricks…”
Chase sighs and shakes his head as he half-walks, half-staggers out. He takes House’s paperweight with him anyway, because it’s always good to have a little leverage, and House sighs and pages Wilson to come and dispose of his bin (and Chase thinks he tortures him).
There’s no light and there’s no sound
At some point, House finds Chase vomiting in the bathroom with a look like he’s still some kind of martyr all over his pale face. He drags him none-too-gently to his office and in a scathing voice tells him a million home truths that he already knows.
He pushes Chase into the spare chair and tells him things about ‘enjoying your issues a little too much’ and ‘the actual meaning of estrangement’ and ‘way disturbing masochism’ and ‘letting things fucking go’ and finishes the whole thing with:
“Hey, look on the bright side. At least your daddy issues can go to new and interesting twisted places. The whole ‘not really telling you he’s dying thing’- that’s gotta be a whole year’s worth of therapy right there.”
The uncomfortable silence lasts about twenty seconds.
Chase dry-sobs like he’s helpless (which he isn’t), then shouts like he’s offended (which he’s not), then acts all aloof and pretends like he’s got ten times more maturity than House (which he doesn’t), and then goes quiet and cold and angry and hits him.
As Chase walks out, House begins to feel like they’re getting somewhere.
I bet you wanna drag the sunrise down
House collects people he can manipulate like other people collect butterflies. He puts them in a killing jar and then he pins them tightly inside glass boxes and fetches them out when he thinks they could do something beneficial for him, not like he needs them or anything, no matter what Wilson might say, and what would Jimmy know anyway, he’s just as trapped as everyone else. House’s team is almost too easy to manipulate, he knows all their buttons to push, and he knows all their weaknesses and tipping points and secret wishes and he plays on their insecurities with indiscretion and amusement. He had Chase pegged within about three seconds of him starting at PPTH, but his lack of proper breakdown (alcohol and vomiting and self-pity don’t count) is rather pretty, damned if he isn’t the Little Wombat That Could after all.
“What’s the patient got?” he asks thoughtfully.
“We don’t have a patient.” Foreman replies, sounding rather annoyed about this, and House supposes that really, his team have attention spans almost as short as his.
“Ok then, go get me one. It’ll be like a scavenger hunt, only instead of a certificate and some candy, you get something to do.” House suggests, indicating the door with his cane. Cameron and Foreman walk out, shoulders slumped a little, but Chase lingers over his coffee.
“Think you’re too good for my competition Chase?” House asks mildly, and Chase’s head snaps up.
“At least your parents are alive and like you.” He points out, completely out of the blue, and House has to admit he has a point there.
“When did this conversation become about me?” he asks carefully.
“We’re not having a conversation.” Chase mutters, getting up and leaving. House limps over to the whiteboard and writes out denial anger bargaining depression acceptance on the whiteboard for the first time in a couple of months. Jealousy doesn’t seem to be on that list, and neither does complete lack of proper reaction. But there is something in Chase’s eyes that House doesn’t quite get, and he has to come to the conclusion that maybe his little Chase butterfly isn’t quite as simple as the Cameron one.
You tell me it feels like you’re running in circles
“So,” House begins one day, and Chase sits there and lets him do it because he doesn’t have much choice. Foreman and Cameron have gone home and now he’s left alone in the office with House, and there’s way too much glass here. Chase won’t bite, won’t say ‘what’? He can’t deal with House today, and so, in order to prevent House hitting first, Chase does.
“Does it bother you that I slept with Cameron?” he asks. House raises an eyebrow in slight surprise, but it’s probably more because the wombat has grown a backbone than anything else.
“It might, but I’ll let you guess which one of you I’m more bothered about.” He replies, toying with a Vicodin pill but not actually taking it.
“Cameron.” Chase responds easily, unsure whether he’s lying or not. House considers him, head on one side for a minute.
“Do you really think that by being self-deprecating all the time and acting like you have no self esteem, people will like you more?” The older doctor asks, finally swallowing that Vicodin. “That by wearing your helplessness on top of one of those vile shirts, you’re actually endearing yourself to people?”
Chase chews his lower lip for a minute.
“You’re no better.” He says, before he can stop himself. At House’s raised-eyebrow ‘oh yeah, how?’ signal, he continues, words spilling out of his mouth. “I look at you and I just think- God, you’re so vulnerable. All the time. And it’s beautiful, the way you wear your vulnerability and the way no one notices it.”
House looks speechless for a second and Chase knows that he’s won this particular battle, even though the war is long lost.
And all of the time they keep raising the hurdles
House never makes anything easy. He doesn’t give ‘get out of jail free’ passes and he doesn’t let go of things. He supposes he’s a kind of like Chase in that respect, but really, he’s a little curious about the boiling point of Australians and pushing, pushing, pushing all the time, Chase is bound to lose it eventually. The young man is too young to be an orphan, the same way he was too young to be dealing with his mother dying, and House supposes he’s a lot like Rowan too, which is a disconcerting thought.
“Do I remind you of your father?” he asks Chase. The young man flushes and avoids his gaze.
“There are a lot of people who don’t like me.” He says, looking awkward, wanting to back out of this conversation as soon as possible.
“Whoever said I didn’t like you?”
“You did.” Chase replies simply.
“Everybody lies.” House shrugs, and watches Chase struggle with emotions that he can’t hide in his current raw, lonely state. He wonders dispassionately if this is a little cruel- it’s rather like holding a magnifying glass over a bug to study it, and then sort of burning it at the same time. The blush spreading uncomfortably over Chase’s face isn’t quite a fatal conflagration but still…
“Go check on the patient.” He tells the other doctor. Chase obeys, and House spends a minute or two working out exactly what forty-odd take away thirty is (at least, that’s how old Chase claims he is). He doesn’t like the answer, and Chase is so young. House can’t face being a new father figure, especially because he technically could be.
Chase avoids his gaze all day, and House keeps pushing him, waiting for a workable crack.
Out of sight and underground
“He was your dad.” Cameron says to him, and Chase waits for her to elaborate, until he realises she isn’t going to.
“Oddly enough, I know that.” He replies distantly.
“Shouldn’t you be sad?” she asks, and he wants to scream at her. Scream at her, does she have any idea what she’s talking about? He’s more than sad, he’s falling apart, his soul is tearing into shreds, he feels lost and lonely and sixteen and he’s got nothing left. Externally, he just says:
“Why do you care?”
“He was your dad.” She murmurs helplessly. “He seemed like a nice-”
“If you liked him that much, you should have married him.” Chase mumbles, bringing back that old conversation. I’d make an excellent step-mom, I’m very lenient. “You’d be really rich right now.”
Cameron looks at him like she can’t believe what she’s hearing. Chase can’t quite believe that he’s saying it.
“He was your dad.” She repeats.
“I think Chase is a little sick of hearing that.” House says, stumping in and inadvertently saving Chase. “Differential diagnosis anyone?”
“I don’t give a shit?” tries Chase.
“I was talking about the patient, funnily enough.” House says. “And you’re a lousy liar. Cameron, go and do my clinic duty.”
She goes, glancing back at Chase with a strange look in her eyes. House rounds on Chase and the Australian sighs a little.
“So, you think I’m beautiful, do you?” He says, fluttering eyelashes over eyes that are far too blue.
“I used to.” Chase replies almost casually, and lets House make of that what he will.
You’re dreaming you’re gonna drag the sunrise down
Chase sits cross-legged on the floor of House’s condo, saying nothing, and House for once doesn’t ask anything of him. The silence is uncomfortable but it’s not really a problem, and House’s leg throbs with a distracting dull ache.
“I can’t be a new, shiny father.” He tells Chase. “I’m not cut out for it.”
“I would never ask you to be.” Chase replies, looking horrified, and House supposes the fatal attraction they have to each other would ruin that completely. “You don’t want to be, do you?”
And this is far too complicated. Although Chase has never made this easy. Chase pushes people away nearly as much as House does, and the whole Vogler situation made things tight and uncomfortable. Then dominatrixes and Stacy came and made their marks, pushing them further apart, and then Chase slept with Cameron, and he feels slightly betrayed by that, although he doesn’t want to admit it.
“I’m not going to take emotional advantage of you Chase.” He says to the young man. “I can’t kiss you and make this all better.”
Chase doesn’t move, just sits there, small and lost and helpless. Eventually, he looks up, and his eyes are glassy with tears that House realises haven’t fallen yet. Ever.
“He was my dad.” He whispers, and then empty sobs roll around the condo. House wants to do something to stop them, but he doesn’t. And then Chase is all over him, kissing him desperately, tasting like despair and hunger and salt and House kisses him back because he’s not God and he can’t raise the dead and we all make mistakes sometimes.
House really is a lot more vulnerable than everyone gives him credit for.
Feedback always appreciated.