It was House’s fault the whole thing started in the first place.
The bastard sent Chase all the way to Manhattan to check out the apartment of a patient who was rich. "Richer than god," House insisted, looking to Chase for some kind of argument or reaction. Chase managed to steer the discussion back to medical facts rather than taking the bait regarding either wealth or religion, and earned himself over an hour in traffic on the Turnpike for his troubles.
He brooded about the unfairness until he realized that he was out of the hospital on a sunny day while Foreman and Cameron were stuck doing a bunch of tedious and possibly disgusting tests, with House breathing down their necks, berating them for their uselessness.
On the other hand, they didn’t have to deal with the New York City on matinee day, and therefore double the usual insanity or the adventure of trying to park, not to mention actually talking his way into “Richie Rich’s” apartment, which was an “apartment” in the same sense that the Great Barrier Reef was a nice bit of coral.
House owed him big-time. Not that he would ever see it that way, or care for that matter. Poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Church were nothing compared to being a fellow for House. You committed your time, your loyalty, gave up self-confidence, long-held beliefs and in Cameron’s case, your heart At least Chase hadn’t made that mistake. Not with House, anyway.
He did a thorough walkabout of the vast emptiness that was the patient’s penthouse looking for drugs, pathogens, or anything else that might explain the list of symptoms currently on the whiteboard. If not a solution, at least something that he could bring back to amuse House. That might get him out of the doghouse, at least temporarily.
The kitchen and bathroom were immaculate, the art in the living room was tasteful, and who the hell needed that much space anyway, while the downtown masses were out there crowding each other like rats in one of those sadistic experiments.
Last stop was the bedroom, where he hoped to find some hint of bizarre sexual practices among the Hugo Boss suits hanging in the closet. The only fetish he could discern in the dresser drawers was a preference for boxers over briefs, not unusual given the patient’s age. The entire trip was pointless and House would still be pissed at him.
It was when he actually peeked into the drapes covering the old-fashioned four-poster bed that Chase found something interesting that might actually have medical significance.
He’d never been so happy to see a dead body.
Flack has this thing about people lying to him.
Actually, Danny thinks Flack has a few too many things, but lying is a biggie. The minute a suspect tries to sell him a line, he goes ballistic, and second chances are hard to come by.
Danny doesn’t appreciate it either, but at least he understands. Sometimes people have something they just can’t tell you, whether it’s at a crime scene or otherwise. That’s why it’s a good thing the evidence doesn’t lie, because people almost always do. The place on Park Avenue isn’t a crime scene, but by the time they figure that out, Flack already has it in for the guy because the first thing he told them turned out to be bull.
That’s not what’s bugging Danny though. He’s got a thing too, but it’s a different thing, one he doesn’t want Flack to know about, even if he might be OK with it in theory.
Why risk screwing up a life that’s working just because the guy who called in the db on the Upper East Side turned out to have blue-green eyes and a way of chewing his lower lip that completely distracts Danny from the words themselves. He does like listening to the Australian accent as he explains that he’s Peter Healy’s doctor and this little visit is his own idea.
The lip chewing gives away the lie and gets on Flack’s wrong side immediately, but Danny figures there must be a good reason. He wants to believe that, and it’s not just the looks and the voice. There’s the touch when he takes Dr. Chase’s fingerprints. At first he doesn’t accept that it’s happening, but he’s lived his life in a world where glances have to substitute for conversation, so he lowers his eyes and raises them again to meet Chase’s. It’s definitely happening.
He holds his breath, without realizing he’s doing it. It comes out in a near gasp, causing Chase to look at him with what could be medical concern. Or maybe not.
This is totally fucked up.
Flack is grilling the security guy about how Dr. Chase got up here in the first place. Danny’s got a job to do, but he can barely think straight because of this Aussie guy he just met whose hair he’d like to grab and …
He pulls himself together, remembering all the times he’s pushed these feelings because that’s what you do growing up in the neighborhood, or being on the team or in the academy. Focus on the evidence. Focus on the case. Focus on anything else, so you don’t think about things you would rather be doing.
Chase lied, but there had to be a good reason, so Danny does his best to protect him from the wrath of Don until the whole thing gets straightened out with an autopsy and a phone call from Dr. House.
By that time, he’s thinking of Dr. Chase as Robert and enough looks have been exchanged for Danny to give Robert his phone number, just in case, but he doesn’t think he’ll hear from him again.
Flack would say he’s better off that way, but Danny’s not so sure.
Cuddy was waiting for him when he returned to the hospital very late that night or early the next morning, damned if he can tell or care anymore, obviously intending to talk him down from whatever level of outrage he’d ascended to after nearly eight hours in custody.
Medical science moved slowly and it took that much time to establish that the woman in Peter Healy’s bed had died of a disease, specifically the same disease that was killing Mr. Healy.
He almost felt sorry for her. House had been a complete ass and Cuddy had to clean up after him by convincing Chase not to quit, sue, punch or do anything else that would interfere with the smooth running of her hospital.
Chase hadn’t actually planned on confronting House. Not tonight anyway, but Cuddy’s willingness to defend him rankled enough to overcome his better judgment.
“I was trying to protect him,” Chase insisted.
“I lied to the cops and told them it was all my idea. They didn’t believe me for a moment.”
“Of course not.”
“I didn’t want to get House in trouble, but they were going to arrest me.”
Why was Cuddy saying that when it was House who owed him an apology and so much more for all he’d been through?
His initial euphoria at discovering the body had quickly given way to the grim realization that he was in an apartment that he had no business being in and there was a corpse. He’d immediately called the police instead of House. His first mistake (if you didn’t count the whole “not indulging House” situation that led him here in the first place.) They told him to stay put until the police officer arrived and he did. Mistake #2.
The first cop to arrive wore a suit, had dark hair and Chase sensed he’d taken a dislike to him from the first word. Maybe the accent annoyed him. Lying had been another mistake and after that he stopped counting. When he’d told the truth, things only got worse.
“We talked to Dr. House. He says he’s never heard of you. Said we should make sure no one’s escaped from Bellevue with delusions of being the Crocodile Hunter. Are you going to start leveling with me or are we taking this downtown?”
Chase could handle the animosity, although the prospect of being locked up terrified him. What really hurt was the look of disappointment on the second cop. Younger looking, slightly unkempt, maybe someone he might be able to explain this mess to.
He had to remind himself that he wasn’t fifteen years and these weren’t the local constables here to tell him that his mum had been stopped for driving drunk again, and they were very sorry but if he couldn’t do a better job of keeping her out of trouble, they’d have to revoke her license and was Dr. Chase expected back anytime soon and oh, I’m sorry.
Eventually, he’d taken her keys and done all the driving himself, even though he didn’t even have a license. It was safer than having her on the road.
The younger man conferred with a rotund fellow who Chase assumed was the Medical Examiner, before opening a metallic box to examine the bed and the body in it. Chase found himself rather fascinated by the various chemicals and lights that were being used to look for…blood he supposed, among other things.
His accent was stronger than the other cop’s as well. Chase thought it might be Brooklyn, but he wasn’t sure. He was sure he saw sympathy in the green eyes that looked at him through wire-rimmed glasses.
“Look, here’s my hospital I.D. I’m a doctor at Princeton Plainsboro. Ask for Dr. Lisa Cuddy. She’s the Dean of Medicine.”
His plea earned a scowl from the older man, but at least he wrote the name down before leaving him in the bedroom with the body and the other cop.
“I need to process you. You touched the body?”
“I made sure she was dead.”
“Right. So I need to make sure we can tell what’s you and what’s her.”
“You don’t think I…”
“I don’t think anything, except I need as much evidence as possible to take back to the lab and honestly “Doctor.” it don’t look so good for you right now. First guy to show up at a scene is usually the perp.”
“That’s what he thinks?” Chase asked, gesturing towards the other cop, who was still talking to the doorman, taking notes and generally looking like he was ready to sentence Chase to ten years at hard labor just for breathing.
“Flack’s trying to figure out what happened here. He’s doing his job, just like I am. Can I have your hands, please?”
The delicacy of the request made him smile, which earned a smile in return and a proper introduction. Danny Messer. From the crime lab. Somehow that was reassuring.
With the first touch of Danny’s hand on his, for the mundane purpose of taking his prints, he felt something raw and dangerous. Chase needed to close his eyes for a minute and remember that he was trying to curb his attraction toward male authority figures, hence his willingness to indulge Cameron, when he should have run in the opposite direction.
He couldn’t hide the reaction to the touch, but he could pass it off as nervousness over the situation. There was no way the contact might have lasted a fraction of a second longer than necessary for Danny to get his prints or that his lowered eyes could have stopped somewhere in the vicinity of Chases crotch before rising to meet his again, was there?
Flack returned to the bedroom with a smile full of malice.
“We called Dr. Cuddy. She’s got no idea what you’re doing here.”
“House wanted them keep you until they did the autopsy.”
“I could have gone to jail.”
She appeared unimpressed with his anger. He was too tired to bellow any louder.
“But you didn’t. You got to hang around a crime lab for a few hours. Must have been interesting.”
“Depends on your definition.”
Well it was better than being in jail, although there was only the vaguest illusion of freedom, as he spent most of him time trying to pretend he wasn’t watching Danny Messer when that was really all he wanted to do, aside from get the hell out of there, and back to the relative comforts of the diagnostics lounge. The morgue was both familiar and creepy or maybe that was just the pathologist. He was allowed to observe the autopsy because Danny had made a case to his boss.
Peter Healy had been out in public when he collapsed, and his admission to Princeton Plainsboro had been mentioned in a short piece in New York Newsday, which Danny had gone out of his way to look up and print out, having become his champion, in the face of loud skepticism from the well-named Detective Flack.
The woman was found to have abnormalities in her liver and lungs indicating, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency. Chase got on the phone to Foreman, who passed the information along to House. No sooner had the diagnosis been confirmed for Mr. Healy than House was on the phone to the unsmiling detective in charge of the crime lab, presumably explaining that there had a been a misunderstanding, and of course Dr. Chase had been there at his request, and could he be sent back as quickly as possible? Seeing as he had important doctor stuff to do and all.
Detective Taylor’s face expressed a complete lack of amusement at whatever he was hearing on the other end of the line. He put down the phone and nodded with a tight-lipped grimace. The man seemed to be suffering from a permanent tension headache.
“Your boss has an interesting sense of humor. If he were in my jurisdiction, there’d be more serious consequences.”
Great. Aside from near-incarceration, he had to sit through a tongue-lashing meant for House. Chase was tempted emulate House with a snappy, “At least he has one,” but managed to suppress any smart-ass remarks at least until he was alone with Danny and a stack of forms to sign.
“He’s a bit of a cold fish, isn’t he?”
“Mac? He’s OK. He just really believes in doing things by the book.”
“House throws the book in the garbage every day and then sets it on fire for good measure.”
He’d learned to respect that in an odd way, even if it left him in situations like this. Chase sensed a bit of ambivalence in Danny’s defense of the “by the book” Mac Taylor. There was loyalty, but also frustration. Or was it something else?
When he finished signing the last form, not bothering to read closely, he found Danny looking at him, really looking, as if trying to decide something important. He let himself look back long enough to decide if he was seeing what he though he was seeing and then kept looking because…ok fine, admit it, the guy was hot.
There was no good reason for Chase to stay a minute longer, although he would have signed the forms again, this time in triplicate, after reading every word out loud just to prolong the agony.
He ended up with a phone number and plenty of frustration to take out on Cuddy.
“Why should I put up with this?”
“You’ve managed this long.”
“Not this time. I’m going up there.”
“And do what?”
“I don’t know, but I have to do something. Let him know he can’t treat people like this.”
“He can, he does and he will. Nothing you say is going to do anything but get you fired. Go home and get some sleep. If you still feel this way tomorrow, we’ll talk about it then.”
“I want to talk about it now.”
He knew he sounded childish, which meant he should take Cuddy’s advice, but he was too upset to stop himself. He made a move toward the elevator.
“I’ll give you a NICU rotation. You won’t have to look at House for two weeks.”
Two weeks away from House and his miserable, lying patients sounded like the escape he didn’t know he’d been looking for.
They shook on it. Cuddy’s hand in his had no effect whatsoever.
“Now go home and get some rest.”
He would. Eventually. Danny’s number was still in his pocket.
Stella wants to know whom he’s seeing. (Like she’s got nothing better to worry about?)
She’s barely been back a week and even though you can't see the bruises, Danny feels them every time he looks at her, which he tries not to do very often. It’s hard though. He’s never been good at avoiding other people’s pain.
Danny suspects that Stella is trying to avoid hers by playing matchmaker. He can’t begin to tell her all the reason why him and Lindsay would be a bad idea, including the one that might actually convince her. His solution is to use one of his shy smiles and a lewdly raised eyebrow, to leave her guessing. The real answer is he’s not seeing anybody, unless you count seeing Robert Chase when he closes his eyes at night. And some phone calls he really hopes nobody was listening in on.
He gestures around the lab to remind her that the explosion was less than 72 hours ago, there’s tons of evidence to process, and Flack is still in the hospital. All of that’s more important than his nonexistent love-life, at least until his cell phone vibrates against his hip and it’s a Port Authority Cop with a situation involving an inebriated Australian.
“Stella, I gotta go deal with something. It shouldn’t take too long.”
She smiles and nods. Danny looks over at Lindsay, deeply absorbed in her stack of rubble and shards. Montana’s been working herself to exhaustion as if that can negate what nearly happened to Mac and how much it’s upset her, another fact he’d point out to Stella if he weren’t already moving.
He wants to breath in fresh air, but the humidity sticks in his lungs, clinging to his skin.
What the hell would make Robert do something that stupid? If it’s another mission for his boss, Danny’s going to go over Princeton and smack the guy himself. Walking into a penthouse is bad enough, but Port Authority is under TSA jurisdiction and you do not fuck with those guys.
It’s too far to walk all the way, but he needs a cigarette, and the extra few minutes won’t make that much difference. He told the PA guy to hang on to Robert until he gets there. Some bullshit about a consultant for the bombing case. They’re all as freaked out about that one as he is.
Mac’ll hear about it eventually. Danny knows he should care more, especially since he’s still trying to get back on the promotion grid, but honestly, with everything that’s gone down since they found Aiden, it’s getting harder and harder to worry about the future. He finishes the cigarette and grinds the butt out on the sidewalk as though he could stamp out the shit in his life that easily.
He waves for a cab and thank god, it’s air-conditioned. He quickly disables the Welcome message from Mayor Bloomberg, which leaves him with the chatter of his driver who’s talking into a head- set in what Danny thinks must be Farsi punctuated with a few English phrases like “motherfucking cocksucker” and “Johnny Depp” and some high pitched giggling.
What the hell made Robert get on a train without even calling him? Why can’t this fucking thing go any faster? And what the hell do Omar Khayyam and his filthy mouth have to laugh about anyway?
Before he can get too wrapped up in a cab-driver rant, they’re at Penn Station and Danny gives the guy a twenty without bothering looking at the meter, so he can hotfoot it down to security.
They’ve got him in a small holding room, where he’s sitting at a small desk, looking sad and alone. When Robert smiles, Danny can feel something he absolutely doesn’t want to, especially since it’s sort of an inebriated, unfocussed smile, and reminds him of the reason why Robert told him he stays away from alcohol. There are also dark circles under his eyes. They stand out in sharp contrast to the pale skin. You’d think he was the one who’d been in a lab for three days after his friend nearly got killed.
The police report says he was loud and aggressive on the train, not even trying to hide the bottle of scotch. It takes some fast talk, for which there’s going be hell to pay somewhere down the line, but screw it. All he wants is to get Robert out of there. He’ll figure out the rest later, but there’s no time to figure anything out because just as he’s about to demand answers the skies open up and it’s pouring rain.
First he realizes he’s getting soaked and then that Robert has his arms around his neck, probably holding on so he won’t fall down. They’re outside in the middle of the City where anybody could see them. That’s just a lifetime of fear talking. They could pretty much be doing anything and no one would care, because all anybody cares about is getting out of the fucking rain, so it doesn’t matter that they’re kissing and he can still taste liquor on Robert’s breath. He’s probably no rose himself, but that’s all being washed away in the downpour.
It’s coming down so hard it hurts his skin. He’s got his hands tangling in Robert’s hair and even though he’s started to get cold, he’s also hot. That doesn’t make sense, but neither does anything else and Robert’s still clinging as though Danny is the only thing keeping him from being washed away in the flood.
There’s no time to think, even if he could. Certainly no time to get a cab to his place, especially when the Hotel Pennsylvania is conveniently across the street and the sudden storm makes a plausible excuse for two men to be checking in together.
Robert insists on resuming the embrace as soon as they’re in the elevator, while Danny tries to forget everything he knows about security cameras. Somehow, they get down the longest hotel corridor in history to a room with a bed. There may be something else in the room, but it’s the only thing Danny cares about, as long as Robert is in the bed with him.
It’s nothing like the intricate x-rated plans that have comprised the largest part of their “courtship”. Just mouths and hands, wet skin and sweat. Soon the blankets are a mess and so is Danny, suddenly hornier and more desperate than…how long, he asks himself, how long has it been? Too fucking long and now he’s finally got a cock in his hands that’s not his own. He’s unable to stop touching it, especially the head. Robert is uncut and Danny hasn’t been up close and personal with one like that before.
Robert’s sounds might indicate pain or pleasure, until there’s a harsh groan and his hips rising off the bed and the answer is obvious from the evidence in Danny’s hand.
Danny barely registers the mixture of a giggle and a sob from Robert’s mouth because Robert has two hands on him, moving quickly, almost roughly, which is fine. How else would it be between them after all this time? What are they doing here anyway? Right now, that would be coming and kissing Robert so hard he might be drawing blood, and leaving bruises with his hands.
There’s hardly time to lie together, still clinging even though they’re safely inside and the rain is pounding outside the window. He didn’t know he needed this so badly, but once it’s done, he wants it again. Not just it, but him, and that bugs Danny because he still doesn’t know why this happened.
Maybe the shower isn’t the best place to conduct an interrogation, but it feels good, especially when Robert ends up on his knees. Before Robert’s mouth is otherwise engaged, Danny finds out that Robert’s boss, the asshole, got shot and was in a coma for three days. It’s been a bad week for everybody.
How does a shooting in Princeton lead to getting blow-job under a hot shower at the Hotel Pennsylvania?
“You got a thing for this guy or something?” he asks, finishing with a gasp at something Robert is doing with his tongue in the vicinity of Danny’s balls. He decides to close his eyes and shut the fuck up, except for some groaning as Robert takes him into his mouth and the water drowns out any answer so Danny never has to admit he heard Robert murmur,
“His best friend.”
Wilson called to tell him House was coming back.
“No one cares where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing. Just make sure you’re at work on Monday and ready to go.”
Chase wished the first part of that statement didn’t hurt quite so much. It would be nice to tell Wilson exactly what he’s been doing which is being fucked up, down and sideways by Danny Messer with some cock-sucking thrown in for good measure, except Wilson wouldn’t be interested. Bastard!
Only a fool would have tried to step into the minefield of tension between House and Wilson, but there must be some reason why House still called Chase an idiot at least once a week.
From the first week on the job, he’d gravitated toward Wilson as the apparent point of sanity in the otherwise mad world that revolved around House, letting himself be seduced by the sympathetic smiles and occasional pats on the shoulder. By the time he figured out that Wilson was more fucked up than any of them, including Cameron, it was too late.
He watched House and Wilson watch each other and lied to himself because there was no reason not to. Wilson had moved in with House, but moved right back out before the spring thaw.
They could have continued in mutual misery indefinitely, if not for the shooting. You couldn't say House didn’t have it coming, but he wished the attacker had asked him first. Chase would have told him not to bother. House was already suffering. Chase knew the addiction was progressing and why. He tried not to see his mother drinking whenever House took a pill.
Cameron planted herself next to House’s bed and Wilson paced the halls, making his agony plain for all to see, shattering Chase’s last hope that Wilson could ever care about anyone but House. When House woke up, it got even worse. The first victim was Cameron, but the role of martyr became her. Chase didn’t think it would look as good on him.
He needed to be with someone whose world didn’t revolved around Greg House. He been trying to call Danny since the shooting, but he couldn’t make himself leave a voicemail that would probably sound pathetic in the extreme.
The train ride was a blur, of self-pity and alcohol filched from House’s office stash. He’d been planning to call Danny once he got to the city, but the goons on the train had grabbed him before he got a chance. He thought it was funny that he couldn’t go to New York without getting arrested, but no one else was laughing.
Danny showed up looking exhausted and worried, but before he could tell him everything was just fine, they were in the rain and it was coming down so hard, it seemed to melt them into one another.
Chase would never forget how tightly Danny held him in the hotel room. He’d thought he was the only desperate one, but Danny’s hands and mouth said otherwise, especially the way his fingers tangled in Chase’s hair and his teeth bit roughly at Chase’s lips. Finally, someone who wanted him, he thought as he spasmed and shivered against the other man’s still-damp body.
He made sure to give Danny a blow-job as soon as possible, trying not think that if he’d ever gotten the chance to suck Wilson off, things would be different. Having Danny pulling at the back of his head, forcing his cock deeper into Chase's mouth was infinitely easier than answering questions.
He relished the look on Danny’s face, his head falling back against the tiles, as he came in Chase’s mouth, and then their bodies pressed together under the hot spray when Danny pulled him up off his knees and said he had to get back to work, but maybe later…
Chase went back to Princeton long enough to learn that House had checked himself out of the hospital and wasn’t due back for six weeks. He tried not to think about what Wilson could do with a pain-free House and vice versa. That lasted until he actually ran into Wilson and spotted the tell-tale marks of stubble burn and a smirk of sexual satisfaction. Or maybe Wilson just needed a new razor and had a patient in remission. Either way, the sight of him made Chase want to gouge his eyes out and commit hara-kiri.
Fighting nausea, he went outside to call Danny and ask if that invitation for “later” was still open. There was a pause long enough for Chase to call himself an idiot in House’s voice and think that a knife into his gut might not be painful enough to blot out this memory until Danny said,
“Yeah, sure. Come on over.”
Danny’s neighborhood made him nervous but not as much as the feeling he got when Danny pulled him inside and had him pushed up against the door, hands on either side of his face, biting his lips as though trying to punish him for sins not yet committed.
Clothes were coming off and he was getting his first chance to discover Danny’s body, from the hardness of his arms to the perfection of the hips and pelvis, but very, very quickly, he learned that when Danny had him in bed, he meant business. Fucking him hard, growling obscenities and possession, hitting the perfect angle to make Chase scream his own release into a pillow.
He kept going back and forth, pretending to work and then walking away when he couldn’t take it anymore. The toll-takers started smiling in recognition and the oil companies were no doubt wishing House a long recovery.
The last two weeks, he basically lived at Danny’s apartment, walking the streets of Manhattan while Danny worked and clutching the blankets while Danny worked him over. It never occurred to him to let Danny know he wasn’t always a bottom. Chase knew how to give people what they wanted.
His personal Ketamine hallucination was shattered by Wilson’s voice telling him it was time to go back to work.
Chase meant to tell Danny after what would probably be the last time, but Danny wasn’t an idiot and Chase wasn’t any better at lying than he had been the first time they met. Maybe there could still be one for the road, even if it was full of anger and regret or just apathy, but there wasn’t. Danny looked at him and immediately started to withdraw.
Danny sat on the couch, watching a ball game, taunting Chase by stripping down to his undershirt and drinking a beer. Chase vaguely wondered if Hank Wiggen was playing.
He felt guilty enough to hope Danny found someone, even if it meant going out with the pretty girl he’d seen a the lab. When Chase asked about her, Danny had said he liked Lindsay just fine, but he didn’t go that way, at all.
Chase wished there was something he could say besides lies about how they’d call each other, but a lecture on the virtues of flexibility would make no difference.
It was House’s fault it started in the first place and now it was House’s fault it was ending.
He’d go back to work, back to watching House and Wilson, and when he got too lonely again he’d probably start sleeping with whoever asked him, even if it was Cameron.
That would be House’s fault too.