Challenge/Prompt: 40_mixed. T.22 We’re gonna be alright // L.04 But things just get so crazy, living life gets hard to do (Maroon 5, Sunday Morning)
BY THE WAY: This is a prequel/companion piece/sequel to Blood Ties. You don't need to have read it.
Summary: Chase gets hurt and learns to cope afterwards.
Author's notes: I woke up yesterday morning and while I was in the bath washing my hair thought "I have to write this. I have to." So I did.
It began with a pair of green eyes and a clinic duty that wasn’t yours. You suspect a lot of stories begin like that, but this is your own story and no one’s going to pretend it’s like anybody else’s.
So. You were doing House’s clinic duty because he told you to, because he wanted to have lunch with Wilson or wind up Cuddy or get to the next level on his gameboy (it could be all or none of those reasons- you don’t know and frankly, it happens often enough for you not to care). And you, masochist, blue-eyed pretty boy still partly reeling from your father’s death (which House says with practically every breath, even if he doesn’t realise it; you’ve contemplated calling the dictionary people and telling them that Chase has an entirely new definition), went down to take his clinic duty because it was easier than arguing (isn’t it always?).
Your patient had green eyes and dark hair and a wicked smile playing about his mouth, and you remember saying you had to run blood tests and reaching for a needle or something, and then there was a glint of electric light on metal, and you’re surprised that they honestly didn’t hear you fall to the ground outside, because to you, the sound of your head hitting the floor was the loudest thing you’d ever heard.
House doesn’t want you doing clinic duty anymore. You want to do it though, and you do, slipping through his nets constantly, and although the first few times he dragged you back with his fingers making bruises around your upper arm, eventually he left you there with a softly spat Fine, just don’t come crying to me when you get your lungs shredded again, and when you pointed out the flaw in that sentence he kissed you violently and wouldn’t talk to you for two days. It was quiet, and it was sort of lonely, and you coped with it the same way you cope with everything, until he finally turned those blue eyes on you again.
When Foreman had his near-death experience, he came out of it being calm and euphoric and glad to be alive, at least until House carefully stripped that all away. You came out of it the same as ever, maybe a little more cautious, lingering in doorways because then you can run for your life. You got House into the bargain too, and sometimes that makes you smile; you got stabbed nine times and then got a practically homicidal definitely antisocial lover. With scarring that rivals yours. Is that supposed to be compensation?
And maybe you could turn to God, after all this, but when you were lying there with blood dribbling out of the corner of your mouth, you didn’t think of God at all.
In the minutes before you bled out sufficiently enough for the world to get dark, you looked at the pattern on the floor and tried to catalogue your injuries, trying to figure out what was most badly hurt and what would cause you to die fastest, and what would need medical attention first. There was a lot of blood; that wasn’t a good sign, and you even started working out whether you’d need a transfusion (probably) until you freaked yourself out.
You were dying, and you realised that quickly enough (it was a bit of a misnomer, what with the fact you could barely breathe and the pain was incredible), and it scared you that your first thoughts were not Oh God, Oh God, I’m going to die, fucking hell, what do I do, dammit, I should have updated my will, and now I’ll never know what happens on Lost, I can’t believe I wasted all those hours watching that show, or whatever it is that normal people think when they’ve been stabbed nine times. No, your first thoughts were I wonder if there’s a haemothorax, and I’ll need a couple of bags of AB-.
You couldn’t help wondering if that meant you were turning into your father, and that made you even more afraid, so you just cleared your mind and watched the red blossom over the white of your labcoat and then you couldn’t see anything at all.
You don’t know what the look on Cameron’s face was when she found you, and you don’t want to know. You don’t know what she said to House after you’d been whisked off to the OR either; all you can work out is that there’s an edge between the two of them, an edge that has nothing to do with Stockholm Syndrome or hatred or love or anything. It’s an edge that comes from an argument that you would rather not hear about.
At first, when they cut the stitches out and you returned to work acting like you’d never been gone, it was Cameron who kept an eye on you, who told you in no uncertain terms that you were not going to the clinic, you were not going to check on the patient, you were not going to break into the patient’s apartment either; you were going to stay in the office or in the lab and you’d better put your hand up if you wanted to go to the bathroom while you were at it. You hated her for it but looking back, you are a little bit grateful.
House, for all the handholding and murmuring he’d done while you were in bed delirious with pain medication, kept his distance. You were grateful; you were sick of trying to figure out his motives and he made you feel nervous. But he looked at you; looked at you with something that wasn’t concern and wasn’t protectiveness in his eyes, and you still won’t admit to what you think it was because that thought scares you more than anything you thought while bleeding out.
The first time you slept with House (in reality, anyway), part of you realised he’d probably wanted to do this for a while. Something in his touch, maybe something in the corner of his blue, blue eyes. And you realised that you were more scarred than him now- his leg was a mess, that was true, but your chest was slashed with your only-just-healed wounds and now you could hardly judge him for the way he looked because he could judge you right back. For a moment you felt trapped and tricked and angry, but it didn’t last long; House has a habit of dragging you wholeheartedly into his schemes (whatever your misgivings), as you’re sure Wilson can testify.
Afterwards, just as the world was starting to get a soft edge on it and you were watching the ceiling while House’s index and middle fingers thoughtfully explored your damaged skin and his mouth twisted into a smirk you could probably have understood if you’d wanted to, he’d finally spoken.
“You got stabbed nine times,” he said calmly, bluntly, “You got ninety-four stitches-”
“Ninety-seven,” you corrected without even thinking. He ignored you.
“-And nearly died. Not all that long ago I sort of expressed a desire to enter into a highly unethical homosexual affair with you. We just had pretty damn good sex.” He paused, poked you hard. “React, dammit.”
House doesn’t understand you and you don’t understand him, but still, when push came to shove, it was his hand you were holding and while that thought scares you more than you can admit, it is also kind of a relief. You don’t think that he really loves you; not quite (for one thing, your name isn’t Stacy). But he’s very protective. When someone tried to kill you, he was genuinely pissed and upset, and it wasn’t just the no one gets to kill my team but me, bitch kind of angry.
They didn’t incinerate your clothes and you keep them in the polythene bag the hospital put them in. At school you learnt to draw the structure of polythene; all the hydrocarbons and double bonds, and now, under the thin layer of plastic, is your own structure. Dried brown now, and there’s a lot of it; all your DNA and lymphocytes and platelets frozen in place on a striped shirt. And that tie House never liked, stained red-brown. You’ve put the bag in the back of your drawer and you don’t look at it very often.
Probably more often than is healthy though.
It’s not lingering fear and you’re not in shock and you’ve got a kick-ass coping mechanism and you haven’t cried one tear, except for a few crocodile ones to appease Cameron and make her feel valuable. It happened and it stopped and you’re fine and can we please get back to the diagnosis now?
House’s fingers are tangled in your hair and it’s late and everyone else has gone home and you should go home too, but the lights are all off in the office and you like the way his stubble grazes your face.
“Are you ever going to break down?” he whispers between kisses.
“Will it make you feel better if I did?”
He doesn’t answer and it’s a good while later before he murmurs:
“If you’re going to say ‘I love you’ I’ll arrange an assassination attempt for you too.”
“I was simply going to say ‘I was wondering if, after all this, that sadism/pain thing still gets you off’.”
You both start laughing and part of you is tempted to say yeah, me too Greg, but instead you shift on his good leg and carry on laughing until the moonlight streaming through the windows highlights what some people might call tears on your face.