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Title: Little Boy Lost in the Woods
Characters/Pairings: Chase, Thirteen, Foreman, Taub, House/Cuddy, Wilson/Sam, past Chase/Cameron referenced
Rating: PG
Word Count. 1.600
Summary: This was meant to be a fixit of the S6 finale, which for me is characterised by sloppy writing and ridiculously OOC House, but then it kind of turned into my worst nightmare instead of a fixit. Happens a few weeks after the finale. Chase-centric.

 

Little Boy Lost In The Woods

 

In retrospect, it probably shouldn’t have been Foreman he first went to but even all things considered he was still Chase’s best bet, which probably should have been more worrying than Chase was willing to admit.

“So he’s not acting like a complete jerk,” Foreman shrugged as he put on his coat, the whole of last night and this day written on his face in the form of annoyed indifference. “I say we count our blessings and do our jobs.”

“He didn’t even mock the patient for being an idiot,” Chase protested, trying (and failing) to keep the desperation out of his voice as he slammed his locker shut with more force than necessary.

“You say that as if it was a bad thing” Foreman said and Chase could practically hear the eyeroll in his voice. Yes, yes it is a bad thing, something’s happening, can’t you see, Chase wanted to scream but he knew better than to say anything.

“Trust me,” Foreman said picking up his bag, “He’ll be back to screwing with us in no time.”

And Chase was quite proud of himself for managing not to slam his head into the locker until after Foreman was gone.

 

----------------

 

“Please tell me the patient isn’t dying again,” Taub winced as soon as he saw Chase rushing towards him at reception.

“No, he’s fine, I just…”

“Then I don’t want to know,” Taub interrupted him but then stopped and like an afterthought added, “We’ve booked a restaurant. I’m already late.”

Chase nodded but didn’t even attempt a smile. Apparently Taub didn’t need one; he just pushed the glass door open and practically fled the hospital.

 

----------------

 

Chase took a deep breath and rang the bell. The approaching steps made him nervous but he let out a sigh of relief when he recognized them even before the door opened. Wilson’s face was still bright with the aftermath of laughter but his eyes narrowed instantly as he saw Chase standing in the corridor.

“What’s wrong?” he immediately asked, as if people would only come to him when their life was falling apart – on second thought, that was probably true.

“Can we talk?” Chase’s voice was slightly higher than usual in his nervousness and he grimaced, as if expecting to be laughed at.

“This really isn’t a good time,” Wilson said and even had the decency to look sorry. “You could come to my office tomorrow…”

“It… it really is important.”

Wilson looked back over his shoulder and sighed.

“Sam and I are having guests right now…”

“It’s about House,” Chase blurted out. He hadn’t wanted to say it outright but it was the only way to get Wilson to listen apparently. But Chase immediately wanted to kick himself as soon as the words were out. Where a few weeks ago there would have been worry and instant undivided attention there was just surprise and mild annoyance on Wilson’s face now.

“What about him?”

“I’m just… worried that…” Chase started but wasn’t quite sure how to finish the sentence. He couldn’t really pinpoint what was wrong, he just knew with utmost certainty they were all heading towards a cliff only he could see.

“Look,” Wilson sighed, gesturing with his right hand the way he used to when lecturing House about being a jerk, or being reckless, or childish, or taking too much Vicodin. “I know it sounds too good to be true, but for the first time in over a decade House is actually doing good. Without being pumped full with Vicodin. I think we should just be grateful for small miracles and be happy for him.”

Chase opened his mouth to protest but before he could say anything a woman’s voice called out from inside the flat.

“Who is it, James?”

“Just someone from the hospital, nothing serious,” Wilson called back and then turned to Chase with a look that made it obvious Wilson was trying to find a polite way to make him leave.

“Everything alright?” Cuddy suddenly appeared behind Wilson, eyes widening slightly in surprise at seeing Chase. “Dr Chase! I thought the case was over. Do you want me to call Greg?”

Chase quickly shook his head to hide his wince at the name.

“No, I just wanted Dr Wilson’s advice on something,” he said, risking a glance inside the flat where on the sofa he could see a blonde woman leaning down to a small child sitting in House’s lap. A cold shiver ran down Chase’s spine and he felt slightly disoriented as he took a step back.

“I was just leaving,” he said with a nod. He wanted to wish them a nice evening but the words got stuck in his throat so he just turned around and left.

 

-------------------

 

He should have deleted the number months ago, of course, he knew that but some part of him had been unwilling to sever that last fragile tie. His heart was beating fast as he imagined the phone ringing in a house he’d never seen and would never get to see. Sometimes when it was too late at night and sleep refused to come he would still find himself trying to paint her new life without him.

He didn’t even want to talk to her. He couldn’t.

Allison Cameron. I’m unavailable at the moment. Leave a message and I’ll call you back.

Chase sighed, letting his head drop back against the seat of the car. Relief mixed with disappointment. He should have known no comfort was to find here. Her voice had stopped being a calming presence even before she shut the door on their shared life.

 

------------------

 

“It’s me,” Chase said leaning against the doorframe, fist still in mid air, ready for another knock, but then, just to be on the safe side, added, “Chase. Can I come in?”

There was a bit too long hesitance on the other side for it to be natural but in the end a key turned in the lock and the door opened slightly. Chase wasn’t sure why he was surprised at how good Thirteen looked, it had only been a few weeks, not enough time for her to lose too much weight or the will to pay attention to her appearance, but the lack of instant signs of her illness were almost anticlimactic. She wasn’t a walking death sentence yet just a radiant young woman Chase shouldn’t have missed as much as he had.

“If it’s about a case, tell House I have amnesia,” she said with a not quite honest smile. Chase didn’t bother to respond, she knew very well this had nothing to do with a case. He just held her gaze with an exhausted lie of a smile until she finally stepped aside and let him enter her flat. It was a nice place, pretty and slightly cheeky like her, but its emptiness made him feel just as bad as the impenetrable silence of his own flat – the one he really should move out of so he wouldn’t see Cameron all the time sitting on the sofa or washing up in the kitchen.

“So, what has he done now?” Thirteen asked with a knowing smile, handing Chase a glass of red wine. He shrugged, taking a tentative sip.

“He’s… happy, apparently.”

“How insensitive of him!” she said in mock outrage, sipping her own wine, leaning against the kitchen counter.

“House doesn’t do happy,” Chase mumbled, not looking up. Thirteen gave him a look like she knew exactly what he meant but thought it was best not to get involved. Chase sighed, the words sounded childish even to his own ears. He’s doing clinic duty without a fuss. He’s talking to patients. He’s trying to be nice to people at the hospital. He’s playing stepdaddy to Cuddy’s child… Chase didn’t know what to say, neither of those arguments seemed like legitimate reasons to worry and yet, this was House, he reminded himself and suddenly they morphed into the most horrible signs of disaster.

“Foreman and Taub couldn’t care less. Wilson thinks it’s brilliant, of course,” he wished he could keep the bitterness out of his voice. He looked into his wine as if it could give him advice. “She calls him Greg now.”

“Shocking, I know,” she laughed lightly. “I don’t know how you can handle it.”

“I’m serious. It’s… wrong.”

The look in her eyes told him she understood all too well but chose to ignore what she couldn’t change. 

“See, this is why I left,” she said with a smile. “I couldn’t bear the thought of being around a domesticated House.”

“I thought you left because you didn’t want us to see you die,” Chase said sharply, too tired not to pay back with the cruel truth for her mocking voice. She didn’t pale, her smile didn’t disappear but she didn’t throw a witty comeback in his face either. She just drained the last sip of wine from her glass without a word and Chase could see the small but still obvious tremor in her hand. Then she placed the glass in the sink and looked into his eyes once more, as if waiting for him to get the clue and piss off.

“Can I sleep on your couch?” he asked instead.

She was looking at him just a bit too long before her lips curled slightly. Not quite a smile, just a memory.

“No.”

And even if it meant he would have to face his own flat once again, somehow her rejection still made the world shift back into place at least for tonight.             

 

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
nelyar
Sep. 19th, 2010 01:09 pm (UTC)
Perfect and sweet
I think the story is perfectly and sweet. You can feel Chase's really despair for normality. Well done. I hope you write more ...
enigma731
Sep. 19th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. I'm more than a little obsessed with trying to string together the pieces of Chase aftermath the show has so badly neglected, and this is a very satisfying piece to that end. I'd love to see more Chase fics from you!
vitawash24
Sep. 19th, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)
I like this! Chase has always been uncomfortable with losing his status quo and House appearing to have a massive personality change would definitely leave him ill at ease. There's also something very poignant in the mix of the intensity with which he misses Cameron and the fact that he can't untangle it from the stress of the time before she left. Thanks for sharing!
yarroway
Sep. 20th, 2010 08:50 am (UTC)
This is brilliant, and I empathized completely with Chase.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )