Categories > TV > House

The Source of Our Power

by SojournersSecret 0 Reviews

What gets under Chase's seemingly impervious skin? House believes he has the answer. Warning: rated PG-13 for brief mention of Eve's rape from "One Day, One Room" and therefore some contents regard...

Category: House - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst - Characters: Robert Chase - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2007/04/23 - Updated: 2007/04/24 - 5593 words

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters themselves nor some of the background story material. The characters of the show "House" belong to all affiliates of Heel & Toe Films, Bad Hat Harry Productions, and Shorez Productions with regards to David Shore.
This Fic takes place sometime right after "One Day, One Room" of the current Third Season, so mention of Eve's rape and abortion are mentioned, however is not the central theme of the story. Drama/Angst category; Rated M for dark themes

"Eternity! Eternity! Oh, that this word could be emblazoned across the streets of Sydney!" ---the sermon which inspired Arthur Stace, otherwise known as Sydney Australia's beloved hobo, "Mr. Eternity" to begin his plight


"Whenever life gets you down Mrs. Brown and things seem hard or tough and people are stupid, obnoxious or daft and you feel that you've had quite enough! just remember that your standing on a planet that's evolving revolving at nine-hundred miles an hour its orbiting at ninety miles a second so its reckoned a sun that is the source of all our power the sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see are moving at a million miles a day in an outer spiral arm at forty-thousand miles an hour of the galaxy we call the Milky Way"/-Man in Pink, "Monty Python: The Meaning of Life"

Dr. Robert Chase couldn't contain his smile as he practically waltzed an imaginary Matilda down the Princeton-Plainsboro hallways, thinking about the day, and how things sometimes took a turn for the better when you least expected it. House had actually taken the time to a) seek him out b) ask his opinion, and he was on Cloud 9. Even if it was House and House would never admit he needed anyone's assistance even if he was in desperate need, Chase was simply glad to have been needed.

It had been a tough day, too---though he had tried to maintain his professional air, go on about the business of a typical day, and not let on that he was having any kind of personal issue of any kind. Wilson had known what the day had meant, and he had kindly sought Chase out and suggested Chase ask Cuddy for the day off, since House was stuck with Clinic Duty anyway and the only patient that seemed to be taking up his time otherwise was a rape victim who didn't seem to want any doctor, curiously, besides Doctor Gregory House.

Even the psychiatrist that House had placed her with had lead to the terribly traumatized patient to attempt suicide. Chase hadn't known there could be such forms of neediness. He had been startled by House's curiosity in how to handle the case---he'd figured he'd just wing it like usual and send the girl on her way.
But House, being House, had wanted to solve some kind of puzzle as to how to answer the girl's questions. He couldn't let a puzzle go, even when it involved a girl who idolized the exact wrong person at the worst time. Chase could understand guilt and sin, but he didn't understand how sin involved rape unless you were the rapist.

His advice to House: "Keep her asleep," he'd said, because he couldn't think of anything else, even though he knew, deep down, it was best not to run from your problems. "Thanks," House had said snidely, although Chase could sense somehow that he'd appreciated the attempt. "You've all been a /big/help."

"There's no right answer, because there's no wrong answer," he'd said then, feeling ever confident by the second as House seemed to need something more.

However, House had come to his own conclusion. "No," House had replied, with the signature glaze coming over his face as he turned his thoughts deeply inward, "We just don't know what the right answer is."

Chase remembered then something Wilson had said, a few months before, and it echoed in his mind even now as he took his afternoon stroll past the ICU, not forgetting to peek into some of his own recent patient's rooms, and giving them a nod of acknowledgement to let them know he had not forgotten. He had just gotten packed a wallop by House and was hot under the collar as he'd practically stabbed his PP&J.

"I was right," he'd muttered, "I was right and I told him and it didn't matter." Wilson, noticing how much House had gotten his dander up, had given some gleaming advice: "You solved one, Chase. That better be enough for you..."

House needed to be right. Chase knew he wouldn't settle for anything less. Anything less was purgatory for Chase and his teammates, and he knew that House wouldn't settle for anything less than what he thought. If it aided House's own personal beliefs would only House accept it, that much Chase knew as far as House's personal ethics.

Chase wondered what House had said to the rape victim. An addict counseling a rape victim didn't seem sound in Chase's mind (and he had said as much in the conference room), but House had persisted, even as he'd argued that Cameron wanting House to be good for this girl was a romantic notion, period. He knew Cameron partly idolized House as well and that they needed to keep reality in check. As much as it seemed this girl thought she needed House (for whatever reason) House was not going to be her salvation.

His thoughts lead him down a particularly foreign corner and he was surprised to see it lead straight to the Hospital's Chapel. He hesitated on the periphery, considering whether he should go in. If he took the first step in, he would be acknowledging to himself that he needed to reflect more than he was already, and as it was this had been an all-around draining day. Even if it hadn't involved an unusual patient, it had still left him knackered to the point of wishing he could slip into one of the sleep rooms and take the quickest kip he could manage before heading for the terribly lonely drive home-which would, in turn, leave him only alone with an 'Aussie salute' to the idiot box and further brooding to be done.

In the end, the Chapel seemed the best place to keep himself from encountering either one of his colleagues, and anyone knew that a Chapel was a place of safe seclusion. Committing to enter involved telling his heart that this had nothing to do with his past as a seminary student or his fallout from the Christian church of his boyhood back in Sydney.

He slipped in and nearly tripped into the first pew at the sight of House, already lounging in one of the center pews with his feet on the back of the pew in front of him, earpieces of his iPod stuck in both ears and his PSP in hand. A swell of unwanted emotion hit Chase at once, barreling past his consciousness at near-breakneck speed but managing nevertheless to make him almost shudder: shock at the sight of House in the Chapel at all, and, then, an almost overwhelming surge of anger at his boss for (however unknowingly) stealing his sanctuary of choice while treating the chapel like a doctor's lounge. House may as well be at home, he looked as though he came there every day, with how relaxed he looked.

Restraining himself to speak first, Chase brushed past House and sat quickly in the very first pew, facing front and knowing it was an empty hope to not have House notice he was there.

Even so he was startled at how quick House appeared by his side, given that he needed use of a cane to get himself around a white board and debated the necessity of bathroom breaks lest he not make it there in time---something that nobody on his team wanted to face, least of all Doctor House himself.

He felt the shadow before he looked up and saw House looming over him, leaning heavily on his cane and cocking his head at first like a puzzled retriever: then, as Chase bit his lip and waited, his boss' eyes lifted towards the Cross and seemed to find the light. Chase tensed himself for the inevitable, and it came.

"Chase....By himself. Brooding, beneath a pint-sized statue of Jesus Christ The Lord. Uh-oh," House stiff-lipped, all the while darting his eyes about the room in an effort to ward off awkwardness, "Having a crisis of the faith, I see? Now," House added, as he began his slow encircling snare of sarcastic needling, "I hope this is not a sign from God that I'm going to have to sift through some heavily unwanted paperwork later this evening---in addition to all the paperwork my clinic duty gave me---in obtaining files of aspiring employees. Really, Chase, you might want to give some warning. Burning bush, that kind of thing, I know it takes a lot of work, but a simple note would do."

Chase swallowed hard and managed somehow to fix his gaze hard on House's, and knew he must have conveyed some message because his boss visibly stiffened. "How did things go with the rape patient?" he asked evenly, commanding his voice to keep distanced from the blunt attack, instead of submitting to what he knew would only sound like some juvenile comeback. It was what House wanted, and Chase was not in the mood to relent.

House looked unprepared for this particular rebuke. "She terminated."

"Terminated?" Chase could not keep the shock from his voice. This was news to him. No one had said that the rape victim had been impregnated by her rapist. He couldn't imagine what House could have said in order to help her come to that conclusion.

His boss' eyes grazed Chase's for a moment, then dropped uncharacteristically to the floor with an even stranger interlude of silence before he responded, "Patient was on her first term of pregnancy....Fetus was barely a fetus, but she wanted to keep the little unborn bastard runt," House spat, and Chase started at the bitterness in his words and fought his urge to say something as House swayed almost unsteady on his feet. He knew this was House's way of distancing himself from a patient, but to have such disregard for a human life took Chase completely by surprise.

"It's a life," Chase muttered.

"OK. I get it. You're pro," House sneered, leaving Chase's cheeks burning beneath House's cutting glare. "I get it. The whole Christian way... 'Do unto others', ect., ect.---Yeah, I've read the Book on the subject, and I've already had this conversation today....and even the student Theologist exchanged her beliefs for some chance at normalcy."

"She was raped....That's not normal," Chase argued before he had a chance to debate his opinion for his safety. He knew he was risking a lot just taking a short stroll down the road of crossing Gregory House.

"No kidding, Chase!" House practically roared with a heavy groan of delayed disgust, throwing his head to the stained-glass skylights with as-of-yet-unearthed exasperation, which Chase feared might be enough to bring on the Plague. "You must be a genius, Chase. Golden boy Aussie always has the right answer," his boss galvanized, then began to pace slowly-or as fast---as he could manage with a restless to and fro motion (which made Chase increasingly dizzy) in front of the Chapel's wooden podium.

Chase chose to ignore the insult towards his foreign heritage. "What is the 'right answer', if I don't have it?" he asked, more to himself than to anyone else. And, because he was in a Chapel, Chase had to consider he'd just been asking God.

"Look," House suddenly growled, wheeling about unexpectedly with eyes aflame before Chase could breath a second breath after the last words escaped his lips, "I've already had one too many endlessly droning, impossible, pedantic, pathological, philosophical conversations today-and this was one room I at least thought I could get away with it all. I would have wanted to leave the Big Guy out of it to begin with---but did she? NO! I did my duty, and you people still can't leave me be." House grasped the cane so hard it pivoted on its axis. "I didn't want to be sucked into some deep theological discussion either, but the girl just couldn't leave "The Big Question Of Life" out of the equation. I should have told her she should just rent Monty Python's "Meaning of Life" and be satisfied."

Chase was dumbfounded: he had never seen House so out of sorts, and his throat was so dry he wasn't sure it would work though he allowed himself to speak, "What equation?"

"To kill," House exhaled with pure vexation, "or not to kill....to Be, or not to Be....it's all the same to her. 'Every life is sacred,' she said..." House snorted loudly as he prattled on, and the sound reverberated like a politely suppressed, heaven-sent fart around the room. "Give me a /break/!" House appeared to shout at the sky.

Chase had never heard House prattle onward with such passion---he almost had enough passion for a devoted minister---unless it was medical in nature. Perhaps House had leveled the playing field somehow, but Chase couldn't picture it in his mind too vividly.

"Then---you don't agree?" he managed, however timidly: and turned before House could see his embarrassment at such cowardice.

"Let's tell the psychotic Bastard who shot me in the thigh/," House's biting voice snapped his face back to stark reality, "that /his life is just as sacred as this nut's unborn baby."

Before Chase could comprehend what he'd just heard, House made a beeline for the doorway so quick Chase wondered if he'd only imagined the words.

In the sudden abrasive quiet that House's absence had left, Chase tried to regulate his breathing, which he had, without realizing it, cut off from regularity in the last few minutes. House hadn't mentioned the shooting to any one of them since it had happened, and Chase wondered if there wasn't something else that had set off such a chain of unexpectedly troubling events on a day when he was already benignly troubled.

A dark thought slipped into his mind then, one that reminded him of House's nearly landing a spot in jail that year after SIC-ing a cop with a particular grudge for addicts on his tail, and his landing a simultaneous spot in Rehab with Wilson and Cuddy both voicing concerns that House might be hitting rock-bottom. Chase wondered momentarily whether House could do the unthinkable, and an all-too-vivid picture of House, sprawled out beside his useless cane on the floor beside an empty bottle of Vicodin chilled him to the bone and sent him flying to his feet.

In a flash Chase had darted out of the Chapel and was racing to the elevators. He waited anxiously for the next car, jabbed at the button repeatedly so many times he was surprised the elevator didn't jam in the process of riding up to the fifth floor---the Diagnostics and Oncologists floor---and, once the car's floor and the wing's floor were level with each other, he bolted down the hallway at breakneck speed.


His breath quickened by both running and the fear of what he might find, Chase rounded the corner with sloth-like slowness---taking the same heed as he would when he would find the all-too-familiar scene of his Mum sprawled out with her face nearly in her bowl of Cornflakes and a bottle of Vodka lying empty and neglected by her side on the breakfast table.

When he reached the office door belonging to Gregory House, MD, he slowed his step to a halt and altogether froze at the sight of House, inside, feet propped up upon his desk, calmly tossing the fuzzy ball up in the air and catching it with ease.

His fear transforming into relief-filled rage, Chase pushed the doors open without knocking and stormed towards House's desk, the anger burning inside him nearly twisting his stomach into knots.

House observed him with the indifference he was more familiar with but it angered him all the more. "Oh---Cripes, you should see your face, Chase....You're not looking for a confessional, are you?"

"You're a piece of work, you know that?" Chase outwardly fumed, pacing the room, forcing himself to at least attempt a hint of stoicism. "You know---" Chase fought to keep his emotions from overflowing, which he knew was more fuel for House's fire. "I was ready to head for the roof, if I didn't find you here..."

"Oh, Chase, don't do anything rash....Anyway, it'd be kind of hard for me to make it up to the roof before you with this," House retorted snidely, swiftly lifting up his cane, "don't you think?" He then leveled his gaze with Chase's own, albeit the opposing glare, and smirked as though having a revelation, with such brevity of composure that in turn only made Chase want to scream. "Sorry, no points for you for saving the day today."

"Why do you do that?" Chase heard himself demanding with unexpectedly irate disgust, despite his better senses. He almost wanted the outburst to continue; he suddenly wanted to fight.

House glanced away so sharply at the words that Chase momentarily forgot what he'd asked. "It's been a long day," House spoke to the ball in his hand, which he flexed with white-knuckled fingers. "A long day, and too many rooms." He then looked up to face Chase and stared hard, with such intensity that Chase was at a loss as to why he was so perturbed. "Why did you come to the Chapel, Chase? You didn't know I was there. Did you hear from your Step mom today?"

"What?" Chase, suddenly feeling world-weary, slouched heavily into the chair in front of the desk, facing House reluctantly. He felt a sting pinch his nose and glanced briefly away, and did not look back until he was sure it had subsided. "Why are you talking about her?"

"Well....I should suppose that it's been a pretty long day for you. Anniversary of your father's death and all....It would be today, January 30th, am I right?" House did not remove his eyes that seemed to follow like a shadow.

Chase sucked in air so quickly he felt momentarily light-headed. When he exhaled to talk, the air left him hollow. "You snooped, didn't you," Chase muttered. It was to be expected, once House got hold of gossip there was just no stopping him.


All this hate....it's toxic.

He sat up at once as though the words were a bell ringing loudly and all at once relentlessly drumming away at his brain, and he looked around almost in panic, wondering where he'd heard these words spoken before and by who. When he found only House watching him passively, he felt suddenly naked beneath House's quizzical expression.

"Why Chase," House feigned innocence with the ease of an experienced Shakespearean actor, "I'm appalled, that you would think I'd forget such important dates. I do after all take good care of my trusty Palm Pilot2000...I clean it lovingly every morning, after the usual routine of checking my sight-for-sore-eyes. That whole Y2K thing was a great prompter for some really impressive technological debuts---"

"Oh, stop with all the bloody /crap/, will you!" Chase pounded a fist on the desk like gravel, though he didn't expect to hear his father's voice (along with the whine of a fifteen-year-old's impatience) in his head as the words came tumbling out of him. This was his father's response to any backtalk as a child, before his father had left him in care of an Oldie-turned-Alkie in his wake. He could just hear him now:
"Pull ya head in, already! Shut ya gob, stop playing sillybuggers and get your homework done, you dirty grub kid!"

Chase had to snap his head up from the floor, and steer himself back to reality; the words were as vivid in his mind as though they were spoken in the room. Much to his dismay, House did not sense his distress.

"No, really," House went on, as though he hadn't heard the desperation in Chase's voice, meanwhile tossing the ball continually, "the bug was actually a BUG, which could shift face from a cartoon that ate your desktop to clocks counting the seconds to the 'End Of The World'-and that's clocks of all kinds skyrocketing in demand on the marketing scale....Companies like Morgan Stanley emptied their wallets demanding answers to pay for preparation products---"

"Stick a sock in it, you and your /bloody big gob/!!!" Chase reached for the ball and snatched it mid-flight before it reached House's palm for a landing, leaving even House momentarily impressed, though not for long as he watched Chase draw his legs up in the seat to stew like a sulking child.

"Hmmm," House whistled reflectively, somewhat amused (if not somewhat thrown by the outburst) "You're definitely not English. No Brit I know speaks that God-awful rubbish...You must be from the Bush."

"I'm from Sydney," Chase hissed in a tightly controlled whisper.

"Like I said... 'Land Down Under'," House intoned, his voice indicating some shift in mental status from conundrum to giddy and simultaneously failing to stifle an unheeded and overly-zealous chuckle of self-amusement at one Dr. Chase's expense. "And I'm serious about that 'Meaning of Life' stuff. She should know that, to quote Monty Python, 'most philosophers do have an 'S' in them', but, contrary to popular belief, my last name may be H-O-U-S-E, but the difference with me is that I don't opt to be one of them."
His boss shrugged lackadaisically. "But it's probably over your head, I'd assume, since there's mostly British talk, and your people apparently were exiled from bearing that brunt of humor."

Chase stood up so fast his chair crashed to the floor, and faced House ramrod straight before he could muster up the words. His fists clenched and unclenched, but wound themselves into balls so tight that he was certain his nails bit skin.

"Yes. The anniversary of his death is today," he blurted, hearing a rush of words he hadn't heard from his childhood come spilling out of him before he could stop, "But I don't think it's any of your bloody bizzo, you Smacked-Out Off-Your-Rocker Wally-Wanker! Now GET NICKED!" He swung around before House could speak, trying to align his darting eyes to the door, feeling dizzy from the onslaught of slang as he added brusquely through stiffening lips, "Now, I'm off, and don't you dare even try and tag, or you'll hear it from Cuddy /tomorrow/."

He didn't hear a sound as he stumbled out into the hallway, staggered down the hall to barrel at last into the nearest bathroom, found a stall and emptied his lunch before he could help himself. To unload was a relief, he'd had a lingering migraine of a headache all day and somehow had managed to hide it from everyone. He slid to the floor and tried to regain his breathing, allowing the occasional cough while fearing that someone---like Wilson---would find his whereabouts.

House was wrong about one thing: he did not know when Chase came to work hung over. He had boasted he thought he did, but what he hadn't known was that Chase had come to work hung over more than once since his dad's passing.

His boss was too busy, however, keeping track of bloodthirsty cops and Wilson and Cuddy's hounding on his Vicodin abuse to watch his shifting moods that initial week he'd heard the news. Not even Foreman and Cameron had noticed any difference, and he decided to forgo mentioning it to anyone; House having known without telling---that his father had told House and not him---was enough.

Much to his shock, when he pulled his hand away from his eyes it was slightly moist---dare he even say---wet? Like House himself, Chase had not let himself shed tears for anyone since his father left. Not for his father, nor his mother, nor himself. If not for the weight of the world on his shoulders, what did he have to feel guilty for? He'd had to be the man of the house, pull his own weight, and watch his mother slip into alcoholic delirium all at the tender age of adolescence.

He shook with the shock of the tears, hating them at the same time that they relieved him of some of the weight he'd carried all those years before---finally---leaving for the States to study the Medical Profession. Now here he was, thirty one years old, and he felt as though his father was standing over him even now, demanding he fall in his footsteps.

--I'm sorry she died....I'm sorry you had to deal with that. It
wasn't your responsibility
.

--/No, Dad, it was yours/.

On weak knees (though feeling strangely stronger), he pulled himself up to a standing position and, with much effort, guided himself somehow over to the water basins to wash himself of guilt. At least...At least he had taken House's advice, and had hugged his father goodbye. When, except for that day, had House ever asked of his opinion?

What had happened in that room with that patient? Chase wondered, for some reason unable to bring his thoughts out of the scenario with the missing piece. She must have said something to him that kept him talking to her that long. Yet: Why did he care?

Once he'd dried his face thoroughly and with great care, Chase meandered his way slowly towards the large windows overlooking the parking lot of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, wondering what he had learned during his time there. Wondering what he'd been taught.

He started at the sudden touch of an iron grip on his shoulder. The hand lingered on his shoulder, and he feared who it would be if he turned around. He turned and saw House, standing beside him, staring out as well. He expected the anger to return, but instead he found an overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude for House to have come searching for him, to see if he was okay....unless....it all mattered on what House would say next, if Chase was to settle for more words on House's behalf.

"I wanted you to get angry, Chase," House confessed softly.

The change in tone stunned Chase as did the words, and he blinked with a safe mixture of confusion and disgust, but he did not trust himself to look his boss in the eye. The moment was too unfamiliar, the words spoken too strong. He wasn't sure which was more bewildering: the fact that House was handing him a lifeline, or that

"You needed to get some relief, some way, and I know you---we've worked together now for three whole years. I've seen how you've handled yourself these past months and you haven't been well. You may not know it, but I know you like a book. I may have hired you on your father's behalf...but your father put me with you for a reason, Chase. He knew you could handle me....I know I'm an Ass, a Jerk, a Wanker---whatever you want to call it---it's all Greek to me, and I studied Latin in grade school," House added with a short laugh, which he abruptly quieted, "but I'm an Ass of the best kind, for a reason."

Chase wondered if his mind was either working overtime or not working enough; for some reason, the words were sounding like a foreign language to him; it might as well have been Greek.

"You--You--/wanted/ to provoke me?" he exclaimed, staring, dumbfounded.

The shock was steadily wearing off, as though he were waking from a long sleep: and House's scheme was beginning to take shape, and he couldn't believe his inane stupidity for having fallen for it so easily.

"You wanted me...off the deep end so---so you could---what?" Chase, exasperated, threw his hands up in surrender. "Congratulate yourself on a job well done in sending me off to the pub where I would, no doubt, piss myself into oblivion, instead of going home---or so you could sleep better at night knowing you had knighted yourself to sainthood in righting all wrongs?!"

"I can't know how to answer all questions. Even though you helped tie us once, I'm not God," House supplied flippantly, much to Chase's growing disbelief and resentment in House's reserving himself to not respond to Chase's button-pushing tactic. "And I wouldn't want to be...besides, God can't make mistakes. 'To err is human'---"

"'And to forgive is divine'." Chase shook his head bitterly. "Yeah. It's a British saying...not Aussie, all right? And since you're only human," Chase demanded in an unprompted and chastising tone, "what mistakes have you made lately?"

"I almost got a patient killed by sending her to a psychiatrist, when all she wanted to do was debate the circle of life." House was grinning manically, leaving Chase's head swirling with unknown conclusions. "Sometimes it's really very simple, and the answer is right in front of your nose."

Chase wasn't in the mood for a good tidings and forgetting about yet another stunt that his boss had pulled successfully: this time right under his nose. "Why were you in the Chapel, anyway?" he mumbled absently, trying to shake off the image of House raising his eyes to God. "You couldn't have known I was coming."

House let out a signature smirk. "Your God must have sent me a sign against my will."

"My God?" Chase felt horrified as he suppressed an unexpectedly embittered chuckle, shocked that House could be so off the mark when it came to his beliefs. (It seemed that either a person was meant to know you while working together in three years' time, or they weren't; House, then, occupying the latter.) "What makes you think I even believe in any God? I never even said I did. You all just believe I do. I only set up that "House vs. God" chart to amuse you. You don't believe in God, and you were in that Chapel too," Chase pointed out soberly.

"You're right. Don't know what got into me." House shrugged as though to shake himself free of evil spirits. "I believe in Andre the Giant, anyway, so I guess that makes me anti-fanatic. Score one for the Golden Boy." He studied Chase curiously. "So what do you believe in? Buddhism? Zen?"

"Arthur Stace," Chase confessed, before he knew remembered who he was confessing to, and immediately stiffened while he waited the taunting to begin. Who knew what House could say in response to his devotion to a man called "Mr. Eternity" who was merely a homeless alcoholic who wondered the Sydney streets, scrawling the word "Eternity" in chalk that many people considered a "one word sermon"?.....And that this devotion was not only because the sermon which lead to Stace's conversion to Christianity was held at his own St Barnabas Church?.....And that because his father, when he was young, used to show him all the places where Stace's signature artwork was found? Not to mention that one of his last memories of Sydney was a nighttime view from his bedroom window, where he could see a large copperplate sign that overlooked the Sydney Harbor Bridge that he would focus on to feel safe, that helped put him to sleep at night?

"What did you say to that patient to make her terminate?" Chase blurted out, realizing that if he didn't know what House had said it would leave him awake all night.

House smiled almost dreamily-so strange was it to see his boss's mouth twitch at the corners in an attempt at a lazy grin, that Chase was almost speechless, his mind drawn blank. Unbeknownst to Chase, he quoted himself, saying mystically, "I sit. I watch. I imagine."

Chase blinked with uncertainty: it sounded like some strange code to his ears where everything sounded underwater. He simply gaped at House. "What's that mean?"

Instead, House just shrugged. "You know, I feel like a Hunter Valley Shiraz right about now...."

Chase didn't expect to feel as stung as he did by the brush-off, even though House caring more about a vintage Australian wine than him was somehow more comforting than the uncharacteristic turn of events. Turning from House, he spoke flat to the floor, "So go. Don't let me keep you."

"It's better to have a designated driver," House added, taking Chase's shoulder. "I got Wilson to go get the bottle. Call it...I don't know....a perk of your job, kudos to your dearly departed Rowan for convincing me to hire you. He said Shiraz was your Dad's favorite, so...let's all toast to Mr. Rheumatologist, and get the horrible niceties over with."

For the umpteenth time that day, Chase didn't know what to say, but House seemed completely comfortable with that scenario. He let House guide him away from the overlook and down the hall to Wilson's office, where by the comforting ambiance from a single, softly glowing green light, James was already waiting.







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