Fic for [ profile] 5_loves: Thirteen/Chase; PG-13

Jun. 8th, 2008 12:25 pm
abitheliotrope: A luner eclipse; very pink.  (Hadley)
[personal profile] abitheliotrope
Title: A Look is the Fire Itself.
Fandom: House MD.
Rating: PG-13.
Pairing: Thirteen/Chase (Chase/Cameron).
Word count: 2,804.
Summary: If you play with fire, you're gonna get burned. If you play with beauty, you're going to catch on fire.
Notes: Written for [ profile] 5_loves, prompt list 4, for the prompt beauty. Spoilers for all of S4, especially Wilson's Heart.

The first time Chase laid eyes on Thirteen wasn’t dramatic, romantic, or anything like in the movies. He had that beginning with Allison, and besides, Thirteen wasn’t his girlfriend at all.

They ran into each other…almost. None of that cheese ‘literally’ stuff, where they bump into each other in the hall, maybe one falls, and then they start bumping uglies.

Simply, after Thirteen’s eighth day at Princeton Plainsboro, she happened to meet Chase as she walked to her car. He looked familiar to her; she didn’t to him.

“Hey, you used to work for House, right? Dr. Chase?”

“Oh, oh yeah. Are you one of the adoring mass of hopefuls he hired?”

“Yeah…I’m probably not going to last very long. There’s this one chick and she is seriously the most competitive and frigid bitch I have ever met.”

“I’ve heard about her. Dr. Volakis, I think. If you need any tips, don’t be hesitant to ask.”

“I won’t.”

He wasn’t sure if she meant hesitant, or if she meant she wouldn’t ask. This was the first of many mysteries to come.

Chase was going to be a bit late for dinner. He had called Cam and told her to just go home and change like she wanted, because he was going to be late meeting Foreman anyway.

He saw Thirteen in the parking lot again. Time had passed, and their conversations had never included tips on charming House; Thirteen was a master at that.

He recalled her apprehension. She really had nothing to worry about back then. Then he thought about the ‘competitive and frigid bitch’. Oh, the irony of it all.

“Dr. Hadley, how you holding up?”

“Oh…Chase. I’m okay. Not the best night of recent times, you know.”

Their eyes met quickly, and Chase knew that Amber’s death wasn’t even resonating in the front of her mind. She wasn’t cruel; she obviously felt upset over it. She just had some bad news of her own. A dead pet perhaps, or maybe a beloved aunt.

He thought about hospital gossip: she was in her late twenties, pretty, average height, svelte, gorgeous, brunette, bisexual, and mysterious. Most of those things, Chase noted, were physical.

He glanced at his watch. He was going to be late.

Chase was a surgeon and surgeons loved to talk about women. Even a few of the female surgeons sized up their competition with sardonic praise.

The surgeons loved Dr. Hadley. Chase was a bit split on this, and not just in two directions.

There was no doubt in his mind that Thirteen was pretty. Hadley was more than pretty, she was smoldering. Sexy. Vivacious.

She was the new favorite doctor of the surgical staff. She replaced Allison Cameron quicker than House popped Vicodin. Guys generally do not enjoy having their girlfriends ogled and discussed in front of his face.

Yet Hadley was not a girl to be gossiped and fantasized about by slightly overweight men with hairy backs and erectile dysfunction.

Chase should have seen this as the beginning of the end. Instead, he was too busy focusing on his patients. At least he had his priorities in order.

They had to stop meeting like this.

It was pouring out, and Chase had forgotten his umbrella. It wasn’t just rain, but that annoyingly persistent cousin, sleet. He attempted to run to his car, but that just caused the pellets of ice to hit harder, so he slowed down and began to duck and cover.

Suddenly the deluge stopped. He raised his head and saw an umbrella. Then he saw green eyes.

“You looked like you needed a little help. Nasty, isn’t it? I hope House hits one with his cane and does a slip and slide.”

“Bad day?”

“Not exactly. Just some more of the usual: bisexual jokes, vicodin binges, and Wilson is getting all mopey.”

It had been a year since Amber. Chase viewed Wilson’s depression as more of a Wilson Habit than a Wilson Sadness. He was talking with House on occasion. He was even properly dressing himself! Everyone, come look at the amazing, fully functioning James Wilson!

“What do you dislike more, the fact that the jokes about bisexuals or that the jokes are about you being a bisexual?”

“Why, Mr. Chase, didn’t you ever learn to give the ladies some privacy?”

“You, Miss Hadley, have too much privacy.”

“The former, if you must know. This is your car, and this is where I say goodnight.”

As she walked away, he noticed her umbrella was the Sunday comics from a Connecticut newspaper.

He savored the knowledge.

The argument was monumental. Chase and Cameron exited the elevator, quietly joking about the new, slightly insane doctor in the ER.

Then the yelling hit their ears like an atomic bomb.

“HOW DARE YOU. House, this is my hospital and therefore my liability. Now, you have done some stupid things in the past, but this is the icing on the damn cake.”

“You noticed NOTHING, Cuddy. I’ve known for over a year and you haven’t even noticed a tear in the department. No one has died, no one has sued, and no one will. You have my word.”

Cameron whispered into his ear, “I wonder what House did now.”

“I think it is more of what he didn’t do, Al.”

Cuddy walked straight up to House, eyes flaming and mouth foaming. Half the doctors in the hospital seemed to be watching this. Chase searched, locating Foreman and gesturing for him to come over.

“House. This is not a new kind of treatment, or even just a strange one. This is the health of a doctor. You do not keep these things from me. You could have risked everything. Is it that important for you to keep quiet?”

“I made a PROMISE. It was the only way to.”

“Oh, that’s rich. You never keep promises. What makes this one so special?”

Foreman walked over and greeted both of them. Cameron, being enraptured in the battle, needed to know what House was dying from this time.

“It’s not House’s health in debate. It’s Hadley’s.”

Chase’s head snapped up. He barked out a ‘what?’

“She has Huntington’s Chorea. She was going to quit after she found out, the night Amber died. But he promised to keep it secret if she continued to work. Why, I don’t know. She’s a great doctor, but House isn’t known to worry about these things when the opportunity of firing someone comes to mind.”

He looked at Chase. Chase hardened his eyes.

“How did Cuddy find out?”

“She diagnosed it herself…a bit, after Hadley dropped her papers and spilt her coffee on Cuddy’s coat.”

“The poor girl. I can’t imagine what having that disease must be like.”

Chase was already walking over to the girl in question, seeking her out in the crowd. She was shaking, but from the Huntington’s or being found out, he didn’t know.

“Hey Remy. How you holding up?”

“Dammit Chase, what the fuck am I going to do. Everyone knows about me now, and I’m surely going to be fired and…and…Just fuck.”

“This was what you were upset about last year…in the parking lot?”

“Very astute, doctor.”

“I do what I can, you know.”

She smiles and Chase forgets that House and Cuddy are giving it their all in the same lobby, that he is dating the most gorgeous girl in Jersey, and that the girl in front of him is supposed to be mysterious.

Chase is reading her like a medical journal.

He kisses Cameron that night, passionately and she just can’t get enough. He’s glad that Thirteen’s name feels foreign on his tongue, because it keeps rushing through his mind with every peck, every lick, and every bite.

The first time he kisses Thirteen for real is when he visits her at her apartment one night. House saved the day, but does that even mean anything anymore?

There are boxes everywhere and she’s carrying all her clothes, still on the hanger, into the living room.

“Going somewhere?”

“Yeah. Home. Well, to New Haven. I got offered a job up there in the major hospital. My dad and brother live up there, so I’m going to go and rejoin the family.”

She started separating the clothes and the hangers.

“Why? It isn’t because everyone knows now, is it? Because I know you, Remy, and I know that shouldn’t bother you.”

She doesn’t even react when he says that he knows her, which is quite different than what he has seen in the hospital. This was probably sign number 100 that he should back off, but he just inched forward.

“My dad is one of my best friends. So is my brother. Well, they were. Then my mother died, my brother went off to college, and I immersed myself in school. I need to recapture what we had, before…Besides, I know how life was between you and your father after your mother died. I don’t want to end up there. Please, Chase.”

He stared into her eyes. He should be more concerned about getting home or how she knew about his past so well. He just kept on staring into her eyes. They were just beautiful. No if, ands, or buts about it. He grabbed her by the arms.

“I just want you to make the right choice. You’ve been here for a long time, Hadley, and I can understand you wanting to go. I didn’t leave…I couldn’t leave when my fellowship was up. You’re much different than me. Go.”

She started shaking; Chase knew it wasn’t from nervousness at all, and knew that is was time for her life to take a new path.

So he kissed her goodbye.

She kissed him back, and that’s when it hit Chase that she was very different from Allison.

“What about your girlfriend? What about your cookie-cutter life?”

“It’s time I made my own decisions.”

“Why is Dr. Hadley leaving?”

House looked up, baffled as to why Chase was in his office when he clearly knew it was soaps time. He arched an eyebrow and bent his finger.

“News reaching the grapevine of Princeton Plainsboro, I see. Who’d you hear it from? Was it Dr. Cameron?”

“I heard it from Dr. Hadley herself. Last night.”

House was obviously stunned, but the shock melted into mirth and then excitement. He had something new to torture Chase over.

“Oh really? I didn’t know you were on such good standing with Miss Thirteen. How does the lady feel about that?”

“Cameron is not in the equation, because there is nothing for her to be involved in. I run into Dr. Hadley in the parking lot occasionally, and we exchange pleasantries.”

“Pleasantries in Hadley’s mind are things like ‘hi’, ‘goodbye’, ‘you’re an idiot’ and ‘why yes, I would be interested in joining you for sex’. They do not include such things as her life history or her job plans.”

“Fine. I went to her apartment last night because I was worried about her. You know, with the whole ‘House vs. Cuddy over Hadley’ showdown. She was packing.”

“I’m just going to ignore the fact that the fight was over two weeks ago. She told me that she wanted to move back to her hometown. She actually told me that the night she tried to quit on me, but she is a bit forgetful sometimes. Not good when I need my coffee, but good when she thinks about moving to Connecticut. It isn’t like she’s irreplaceable, is it?”

“She told me that also. Well, I guess I just should have expected that kind of answer from her in any circumstance...”

Chase turned to leave, and House stood up and limped to meet him in the doorway.

“You’ve got a lovely girlfriend and a great life, Aussie. Don’t go screwing it up because you wanted to play with the mysterious fire eater from the circus troupe.”

Well then, wasn’t it obvious why Remy wanted to leave House behind? He just knew everyone’s business.

He continued to show up at Remy’s room, for only a quarter of an hour each time, and in random intervals. She still had a month to go before she left for New Haven, but her lease had run out before then. She was staying at a local hotel.

“House told me I was playing with fire.”

Remy laughed, eyes sparkling like the embers in a flame. She handed him a scotch.

“Well, you know what they say…about getting burned.”

“I once burned my hand on the stove. That was a lot less interesting and a lot more painful than this.”

“Just wait until it all unravels. It will. Allison will get curious, and you’ll get too cocky. Emotional pain can sometimes far outweigh the physical.”

“What are you, some emo fourteen year old who plays too much Panic at the Dancing Hall or whatever it is and comes into the clinic for cutting?”

When he arrived at his apartment last night, Allison was just taking off her coat and pumps.

“Hey stranger. Come here and give me a kiss. I had two car accidents, and some preteen who almost bled to death because her ‘boyfriend’ turned ‘gay’ on her.”

Chase laughed at the irony and whisked Allison up into his arms, with a fairy tale kiss to finish the display off.

“Well aren’t you just Prince Charming, Robert.”

More like Prince Masochist, but he just kept on carrying on.

Their goodbye is just words. Hadley’s car is packed up, with her whole Princeton life fitting in a mid-sized sedan.

“Call me sometime, okay. Don’t just disappear off the face of the planet like all the cardiologists bet you will.”

“I won’t. And don’t you get all mopey because your ‘cool, artsy friend’ is moving away.”

Chase knows that she means she will miss him and that she hopes he will miss her to. It’s scary that Chase, who always put off his school reading assignments to the last minute, can read someone as cryptic as Hadley.

He’s about to hug her when House pops by. The way he looks at them is just too strange, and then House pats her on the back and tells her that at least she won’t be spilling coffee on an irate cripple anymore. It is callous and just the perfect amount of House. She bids farewell to them both, and drives away.

Chase doesn’t know what he’s more upset about: her leaving, or House getting the last word.

Truth is, he was expecting both of them, and that predictable expectation was the sorriest of all.

“You won’t miss her. You have a fabulous new person lined up. Just as hot, less mysterious, smart, and not too talkative. You’ve reached the Holy Grail of fellows.”

“Yeah, but you probably won’t be having adulterous sex with this one. Too normal for you.”

They never call each other; never write or meet for coffee. Allison Cameron becomes Mrs. Allison Cameron Chase, and Wilson finally goes for the future Ex. Mrs. Wilson number four. Foreman moves and Chase makes head surgeon. Life is perfect; he has someone he loves and someone who loves him and their first house together is absolutely perfect. Even House showed up for the ceremony.

Perfection is boring, like icy glass, and he hasn’t felt the burn in quite awhile. He’s done everything to get those beautiful eyes out of his head. He never mails her invite to their wedding and no one ever mentions Dr. Hadley in the halls of the hospital again.

He thinks of it like an old time movie. The passionate affair that dies out and becomes the unspeakable horror. All that it needs is a death to bring them back together…perhaps even her own.

Instead, it’s a party. House is retiring to a life of bad backs, golf, and more time for Wilson torture. She shows up, black circles under her eyes and a constant state of the shakes. She looks like death, not even warmed over. The fire is cooling, but those damn eyes refuse to die out.

Allison grabs his waist and looks in the same direction of him. She spots the younger woman, all bones and uncertainty, and just keeps muttering ‘the poor girl’.

He encounters her in the parking lot and runs to match her location. She looks up, knowing what to encounter.

“Dr. Chase. How are you?”

“Good, good. And you, Dr. Hadley?”

“I’ve been better.” A glance downward. “I never got to offer my congratulations over the marriage.”

It isn’t spiteful or condescending. But it is small talk and it is what they do. He hugs her goodbye, smelling her shampoo of some rich herb blend.

The fire never died, and never will. Chase is just immune to the burns.
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