"Maybe. But they've stopped talking to me about it."
Clever, House thought as he watched Chase walk away. In fact, it sounded like something he himself might do--minus the apology and explanation, of course. But he could certainly sympathise with Chase's reasoning.
Not that it mattered. He would have stuck with the ottoman story regardless; he'd owed Chase a consequence-free punch. Just because they'd never talked about what had happened while he was going through Tritter-induced Vicodin withdrawal didn't mean he'd forgotten about it. Nor had he forgotten that Chase had declined to use the incident against him, despite having been in a much stronger position to do so.
And, he admitted privately, he'd been baiting Chase. All of them, really, but he'd known for years that Chase's reactions when pushed too far were rarely predictable. Though it appeared he hadn't pushed him too far this time after all.... Interesting.
But then, Chase had always been the most intriguing of his fellows. Easy to convince to go along with what House wanted, hard to manipulate in more personal ways. Layer after layer kept as resolutely private as House's own, coupled with flashes of diagnostic insight that were equally familiar, if less frequent.
He'd clearly stopped being quite so intimidated by House as he once was, which had been a large part of the point of firing him but did make him even harder to predict. House hadn't spent enough time with this new, more confident Chase to be certain of reading him right. He considered himself lucky that he'd guessed correctly what might keep Chase from following through on his plan to leave the team; of them all, Chase was the one he least wanted to lose, the one whose mind worked most like House's.
Which Chase had just confirmed. Not even Wilson would combine three-year-old retribution with manipulating an entire hospital in defense of his privacy. Nor would Wilson have succeeded if he'd tried. At the moment, House wasn't entirely certain that he would have succeeded, given his recent persistent inability to manipulate even Cuddy.
Yes, he mused as he continued on his way, the time he'd invested in Chase had been well spent.