Categories > TV > House > The Week After1 Reviews
House ends their relationship. Chase's days at the hospital get longer and longer.
On Monday, Chase was numb.
Alone with him in one of the labs, House had put an end to it. Firmly, coldly, as was his wont. Head ever-so-slightly hung, he observed - in silence, for once - the blur of emotions erupting at once in Chase's expression. Surprise, incomprehension (pain?), shock (anger?), all crowded in front of his eyes for the briefest moment, immediately masked by a carefully crafted show of contention. Chase bowed his head, discretely wet his lips, let out an almost soundless mumble that might or might not have been /'All right,'/, and took off. This was not the reaction he had expected, House thought, watching his retreating back. Still, for once, he had done the right thing - at the right time. He was rather satisfied with himself.
On Tuesday, Chase was hurt.
He ran every test, made every draw, shared every theory that was requested of him. But he didn't make coffee, didn't ask Cameron nor Foreman how they were doing, and he cared not for the weather outside. Casual banter would likely lead to tricky, dangerous questions such as /'And how are you today, Chase?'/, and he didn't want to answer those. He knew he couldn't match House's nonchalant /'It's cloudy outside, my leg hurts and I'm surrounded by incompetents and dying people. If the coffee's good, maybe getting out of bed today was worth it.'/, so he just tried to be as competent as possible and live through the day. Sometime during a diagnosis, House snatched his ball out of Chase's hand and promptly dropped it, as though something contagious had lodged in there. Chase was a second too slow in switching to a blasÃ© look, and the severity of the condition Cameron was suggesting wasn't enough to draw House's attention back to the whiteboard, Chase's pained expression gripping his gaze long after it was gone. All of a sudden, he wasn't quite as satisfied with himself.
On Wednesday, Chase was dignified.
He didn't elude casual remarks about his well-being, did House's clinic duty as usual, didn't compete with Cameron for the bright answers, he even made coffee before setting off for the NICU for the day. He actually managed a polite chuckle for one of Foreman's pseudo-House-ish cracks. He was quietly friendly to the disoriented patients and he stopped here and there to comfort their relatives. But he redid every test twice, he was much too quiet, his responses were much too slow, his interest in the tasks at hand much too keen for it all to be natural. House didn't quite know how to react to the quietly dignified stance, so he cornered Chase as he readied to leave for the night, noting the sudden quiver running under the lab coat. Wordlessly, he handed over Chase's shirt, which had lain in a rumple in House's sofa for the last few days. Taking in its washed and ironed condition, Chase froze for a moment, swallowed visibly and looked up with an expression too pungent for words. House uncomfortably realised he had made a mistake. Chase's lips wavered as though he meant to say something, and House considered raising a hand to push Chase's hair away from his eyes. Just as, in spite of himself, he commanded his arm to get moving, Chase looked down, gripped the shirt to his chest and sprinted past him. House had the sudden urge to slap himself.
On Thursday, Chase was humiliated.
He was quieter than ever upon arrival, staying just long enough to check that they had no new cases, and setting off for the NICU. His colleagues had to cross the hospital every time they wanted to see him. And they did. House made a point of stopping by every half hour to berate him for his unprofessional behaviour and demand his presence back in Diagnostics '... this instant!'/. Every time, Chase would shoot him longing looks that would have raised questions, were they not in a unit where people were too worried about life and death to care about the doctors' moods. Between visits, House exceptionally did his clinic duty without the usual fuss, scouring the place for new cases. He found one by noon. Or so he announced to the NICU, dropping in to personally drag his intensivist away by the elbow. Had Chase not chosen that moment to stare at him, he would have missed House triumphantly sticking his tongue out at the sullen-faced little girl whose doctor he had just stolen. Their new patient was released in just three hours, but Chase wasn't. House probed and provoked, watching him go quieter and quieter, even as Cameron and Foreman were finally dismissed and he wasn't. A few more hours of scrutiny, and Chase was just about ready to make the blunder of a lifetime. /'Chase! What are you still doing here? It's late. Go home,' House barked from beside the window. Chase gave it half a second of forethought before walking up to House and resting a kiss on him. Soft, pleading, apologetic, much like Chase's attitude of late. Taken aback, House let himself be kissed, held, touched, pulling himself together when Chase whispered something, something that should have been too low for him to hear, but it wasn't, something that made him work his mouth into a leer and whisper mockingly back, 'Sorry, can't. Gotta go home. Hooker coming in an hour.' The words pushed Chase away more effectively than a shove ever would. He looked around - trying to pull himself together, House guessed - and left, considerably more miserable than just a minute ago. Something about his air made House wish he'd been lying about the hooker.
On Friday, Chase was desperate.
It was the downside of having an expressive face. He arrived on time, as he always did, and yet, ten minutes later, everyone who had crossed him in the corridors knew better than to trust him with anything that even remotely resembled a medical procedure anytime soon. He wasn't crying, nor having bouts of hysterics in front of anyone, nor lunging at people for no reason, but something about his paleness, the trembling hands, which he tried to hide by shoving them in his pockets, the bright, downcast eyes, kept most people at bay. Cameron earned a hiccupped 'I'm fine,' for her concern. It said something about the effect he was provoking, that even Foreman restrained from making smart cracks. House went as far as to listen to two blatantly dunderheaded suggestions for their current diagnosis before having him read the Encyclopaedia Britannica for the day. Surprisingly for the others, Chase obeyed, moving to a corner with the tremendous volume in his hand. For the rest of the morning, the only sign of life they heard from that corner was that of Chase fumbling with a page, every hour or so. At lunch, he took thrice his usual time to eat half his usual lunch, of which only two bites actually reached past his throat. Under the concerned gaze of his colleagues, he pushed the whole thing aside - House, passing by with Wilson, promptly snatched it - and returned to his corner, where he huddled up for the remainder of the day, although he couldn't, for the life of him, remember what he had been reading all this time. Cameron stopped by, her trench coat already on, to check on him. He snapped up, as though waking up, and waved her away with a small smile. Foreman bid him good night through the door and commented that it was 9 pm, and maybe he could come out of detention. Chase stood and pensively took off his lab coat. A few minutes later, House came in, surprised to find him still there, gazing out the window. Looking around, he spotted Chase's lab coat and jumper plopped on a chair. Chase turned to look at him.
'Why?' Chase whispered softly.
House stared at his open shirt and unbuckled belt, and didn't answer.
'Why?' Chase repeated, letting the shirt fall from his shoulders and starting to pull down his trousers.
'Chase...' House rasped out somewhat warningly, 'Don't do that.'
He turned towards the door, but Chase got there first, at a speed no-one in the last few days would have thought him capable of. House thought that the vision of Chase slamming against the door, in his boxers, flushed to the roots of his hair, should have been amusing. Amazingly, it wasn't.
'Why?!' Chase shrieked, this time.
It occurred to House that this might be the moment to attempt reasoning. How, though? His tongue felt too big, and, in spite of himself, his blood was rushing elsewhere.
'Am I not attractive?!' House cocked his head, and, for a moment, considered answering him. He was mercifully cut short by Chase's approaching steps. He instinctively hobbled back a step or two, but Chase didn't move closer. He stood in the middle of the room, arms wide open, as though putting himself up for display, for appreciation... for sale? No, House shook his head mentally. For the taking. For free.
'Am I not attractive?' Chase murmured, all pleading and confusion. 'A day doesn't go by without you commenting on my looks. What is it? Aren't they good enough? Are they too much?' Chase hadn't looked him in the eye all day, and now it was House who had trouble meeting the bright, slightly unhinged stare that faced him. 'Did I let you down?' Chase's voice was rather inaudible, now. House quietly shook his head, and pushed Chase's jumper towards him with the tip of his cane. Chase ignored the gesture.
'Have I done... have I changed? Has anything changed? What was it?!' /Nothing/, House thought to himself, everything was just as it should be. /Except for you, who should be home/. He toyed with the cane's handle, pointedly avoiding Chase's eyes. Another look at that Adonis offering himself up and he'd be lost. They both would be. He was sure of it.
'/Look at me!/ What have I done?!' Again, House shook his head negatively, and again he looked up to find confusion. 'Then what--' Chase trailed off, disoriented, twisting his fingers, chewing on his lips, and generally looking very much like a child. House, who had seen him in many moods, but never like this, hoped that the storm was over. And then Chase looked him in the eye again.
'But I lo--' House dropped his cane and jumped him with a swiftness he didn't know he was capable of. He was barely aware of his actions when he came in contact with Chase's body. He was, however, aware that anything was better than undergoing such scrutiny, witnessing such vulnerability, allowing such primal need to erupt in a young man who was so obviously not ready to deal with it. Above all, anything was better than to let Chase say the words he had been about to utter. That he would not, could not, deal with. And, thus, he pulled Chase to himself, crushing their mouths together in something that only gradually became a kiss, held him, actually held him close to prevent Chase from even thinking about speaking again, tugged at his hair, gripped his hands, did a number of things that he absolutely mustn't, backed against the window with a flash of pain that shot through his back and reverberated through his thigh.
It didn't matter, it didn't matter at all, because Chase was quiet - he had to be, on account of House's tongue inside his mouth -- and he was slowly beginning to respond. And then, not so slowly, he responded in earnest, kissing back, pushing against him, pulling at him, tugging at clothing, tearing it, here and there, kissing, and wanting and crying, clinging to him and sobbing into him with the sort of need that a lover is no longer enough to meet.
Recalling this, House made use of all the strength he could muster and - again - put an end to it. Bringing his left hand between their chests, he pushed ever so slowly, breaking them apart as gently as he could. He was so very bad at this. When Chase opened his eyes, even more disoriented than before, House held his neck firmly with his other hand and placed a soft kiss on his lips, and another, and another, not allowing the bewildered young man to lean in, still pushing him away, still pouring kisses on him, another and another, until Chase was at arm's length, and there was nothing more to say, nothing more to give. The rain fell heavily on the window, and the lights from outside reflected the droplets on Chase's face, making it seem as though he was crying. House refused to believe anything other. Grateful that his own profile was shadowed, he turned towards the window, so that Chase could have some privacy. He didn't hear Chase getting dressed, didn't hear him leave, he heard nothing at all. For the first time in a while, he felt like a complete worm. For the first time in a much longer while, it made him feel ashamed of himself.
On Saturday, Chase didn't show up for work.