Summary: Chase gets hurt and House makes a promise he shouldn't.
Author's notes: Doesn't make any sense. Oh well.
It’s not even like a promise except for the part where it is.
Four little words- I’ll never leave you -and you didn’t even mean them at the time, except that now they’re impossible to take back.
Years ago, your best friend (only friend) with fingernail marks in the palms of his hands bit his lips together and then swore that same oath. Time has passed (too much time); and you no longer hold him accountable, but he’s still here and so are you. The same words poured out of you (those four little damn words) the moment you saw your fellow bleeding and broken and somehow his hand found its way into yours, and it’s too late to take them back. But you’ll manage anyway. These promise things were made to be broken. Just look at Jimmy’s marriage vows.
You don’t remember how it happened, or even what happened. Something must have, something bad (and you weren’t even there. Not that you could have stopped it, but you couldn’t even pass cruel and slightly amusing judgement on it), but it’s funny; you don’t remember the garbled explanation she threw at you, her eyes dark blue with anger. And you tried to point out that it wasn’t your fault, but it must have come out wrong (lack of conviction) and so you simply shook your head and asked where is he? Her eyes softened, filled with tears, and maybe she’ll be sad that you could never love her but maybe she won’t.
Something that you never mention when you’re tirade-ing off to Stacy is that you can run. It’s a difficult kind of run; tends to list towards hopping and it hurts like no one could ever believe (or would ever believe; that Vicodin isn’t just there because it tastes nice) but you can run, and you did. Ran and found your way to his room and the nurses looked at you and they didn’t even look angry, just helpless, and you reflected that Chase always did know how to charm people into loving him in spite of his copious faults.
You know that better than anyone.
They wouldn’t let you be his attending and you shouted a lot at that because it gave you something else to think about, but really it was almost a relief because you felt so crazy you were afraid that you’d just break apart. Wilson made good on that promise again and kept you company while you alternated between trembling like a leaf and getting furious, and how the hell did Chase go about getting himself injured anyway?
Cameron cried an unnatural amount and paced and Foreman did your clinic duty and everyone else’s but sent pages every few minutes like he felt as helpless as everyone else did. Cuddy’s eyes were wet but Cameron was the only one blaming you and you weren’t even sure if you were to blame, and he’d looked so small on the bed with those bandages everywhere and bruising and little strands of blonde hair working through the gauze and catching the light like rays of sunlight.
For three days you went softly insane as Chase just wouldn’t wake up and they said his life hung in the balance, but you didn’t listen and didn’t sleep until Wilson made you and you wouldn’t (wouldn’t) say that you blamed yourself and maybe, maybe you didn’t. And then those blue eyes fluttered open and he croaked your name and then added I’m scared for good measure, not even where am I like he trusted that he’d be safe as long as you were there.
And you couldn’t help it. Your fingers slid between his and you whispered in a voice that cracked with emotion. I’ll never leave you. His eyes closed again but you could have sworn there was a smile on his face.
In these last few years some of the best things in your life have happened to you and some of the worst things in your life have happened to you, and you can’t help wondering if it’s somehow sick that you really can’t tell the difference any more.
Chase reluctantly took strength from you, looking like he’d rather not, and you diagnosed patients by telephone calls and pages, and told yourself that you were only there for Chase because no one else would be, and that you didn’t feel guilty in the slightest, but that was a lie because you did. Chase has dead parents and you have a dead thigh so between you there should be enough misery to keep you both going for a few days.
The patient was prosecuted and words like how did he get a knife into the hospital anyway got tossed around and you counted the stitches on Chase’s chest and he kept saying that you forgot some but he was delirious so who was he to question your math skills? Nine stab wounds. It’s a wonder his lungs work at all.
He kept saying he didn’t need you, but the way his fingers kept slipping into yours and gripping tight belied those words even if he couldn’t meet your eyes.
It took a long time for him to recover enough to be discharged, and Cameron was all over him like a case of thrombocytopenia purpura and you let her be because you were feeling sort of disconcerted, which Wilson understood well enough but no one else did. The thing is, of course, that those words still matter. They’re still there. They’re still a promise, of sorts.
I’ll never leave you. He’s let you off the hook, made it clear he doesn’t want you around, even though there’s something fizzing between the two of you that might call itself need on its nights off, but you bluntly ignore that thought too because it makes you feel very, very uncomfortable. And it’s perfectly clear that Chase feels about as bad about it as you do. Like he’s blaming you.
Fucking hell, it’s not like you asked for this.
Chase’s skin heals and he returns to work and you treat him like normal while imagining what those nine scars must taste like and your promise is forgotten (on the outside at least) and that’s just as well although you can’t help thinking you and Chase need to talk at some point. You catch his arm in an empty corridor.
“House,” Chase says, blue-eyed to the last, “I’m better now, I don’t need you stalking me.”
Oh but he does. My God, you think, one day, Robert Chase, you could break my heart, if I wanted to let you. All you do, though, is give in to temptation, pressing your lips to his and kissing him while your fingers tangle in his hair and he kisses you back desperately. You both pull apart simultaneously and you must be looking at him so hard that he thinks you’re trying to intimidate him (you’re not. It’s entirely possible you’re in shock).
“I’m not afraid,” Chase announces like he’s producing a trump card and you lean in close enough for Chase to be able to count each and every one of your eyelashes, if he wanted to do so (and why wouldn’t he?).
“Of course you’re not,” you murmur, “How can you be afraid of something you refuse to acknowledge exists?”
You turn and walk away, and count to five before you hear the shout behind you.
Ah, damn those tricky, tricky promise things that no one (except you, apparently) remembers to keep.