Characters/Pairings: Chase; past Chase/Cameron; implications of Chase/various women and House/Chase friendship/mentorship.
Summary: A study in remorse and might-have-beens, attempting to reconcile Chase’s behavior this season with his character as established in S1-6. (Set after “Changes” but before “The Fix.”)
“A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future.” —Anonymous
Chase had never wanted to learn he could divorce sex and emotion, make it as impersonal as what Cameron had first demanded from him; never wanted to think of himself as the kind of man who could sleep with a woman without so much as learning her name.
His mother had escaped into her drinking, his father into his work; lately, Chase has been escaping into loveless affairs so he doesn’t have to be alone with the mess he’s made of his life.
He’d promised himself (as a teenager alone in futile efforts to save a dying mother, as an adult orphaned by a still-living father) that he wouldn’t recreate their mistakes—and he hasn’t, in the strictest sense. But if he’s honest, nothing about this is so different, and he’s betraying everything he ever wanted each time he chooses it over something real.
The other side of the bed is empty tonight—he’s done that much right, or at least felt that much self-disgust—but he hasn’t solved the problem. Not really. He’s been unmoored since Dibala; since Cameron left; since House stopped paying attention to anything beyond his wreck of a relationship with Cuddy. And he’s never been any good at asking for help.
Yes, he’s learnt over years that it wouldn’t do any good. But if he admits it, half the problem is he can’t help feeling his misery is his own fault—that he took a human life; he ruined his marriage; he pursued meaningless sex instead of coping properly—and he doesn’t deserve to be helped.
Reaching across the bed for the extra pillow, he holds it against him and pretends, reinventing what’s gone wrong. If only none of this had happened in the first place…
House gets his way about treating Dibala for scleroderma, blusters and browbeats until Foreman sighs in disgust and concedes. When Dibala dies hours later, it’s an honest misdiagnosis.
House will make them all miserable for a few weeks, spread his bad mood around; but ultimately, knowing what the dictator died of is the most important thing: they’ll take another case and solve it, and House will get over having missed this one.
Chase goes home, puts the case out of his mind, and falls asleep with one arm around Cameron, listening to her sleep-slow breathing.
It would have been so much easier that way; so much less painful if he’d never learnt the necessity of playing God. If he’d never learnt how much doing the right thing could cost.
He’d thought of that would-be assassin, his story of state-sanctioned rape, mutilation and murder, and thought two million people.
And he’d acted.
The church would argue the sanctity of Dibala’s life, but Chase knows that day-to-day realities don’t match theology’s absolutes, don’t always allow Do no harm. In the end, it’d had to be Do the least harm, and he’d chosen to commit one murder rather than bear indirect responsibility for a massacre.
He’d tried to explain that, but Cameron had never understood.
He finally gets the confession out, dropping it like a weight. Cameron’s eyes go wide, but her hand tightens around his and she pulls him close and holds him, and when he begins to explain and apologize for all the lies he’s told, she cuts him off, telling him, “I understand, Robert; it’s okay. I forgive you.”
And it’s the truth this time, doesn’t come with an implicit Only because you feel guilty enough; only if you’ll run away and pretend this never happened. She forgives him, and he learns to forgive himself; she stays with him, and they learn to trust each other.
Of course it’s too late for that now, and there’d been at least enough closure in their conversation during the lockdown that he knows they’d both contributed to breaking the marriage; they’d probably have separated in the end whether he’d killed Dibala or not. Because they’d never figured out how to communicate properly; because she’d never really trusted him with anything except her body; because he’d given in every time they disagreed rather than risk the relationship.
Because he’d been too willing to tell himself that marriage vows would cement what was too fragile to hold together, no matter what he did. And when everything fell apart, then he’d told himself the illusion of intimacy was better than nothing, because there were no supports left.
And House hadn’t noticed: one more lost constant.
It’s a few weeks or months ago, the moments after agreeing upon a prospective diagnosis and a series of tests. He’s following the others out when House stops him, calls him back.
“First one-night stand, I figured you were getting Cameron out of your system,” House says. His fingers are steepled over his cane; he’s watching Chase with the intensity that means shifting puzzle pieces. “How many are you up to now?”
He looks down, his silence answering for him.
“Okay. I’ll take the shame-screaming body language as ‘too many.’” A pause, then, “Care to share what you think you’re doing? And I’m not talking an answer like ‘the blonde with the legs up to Canada.’”
He laughs humorlessly, meets House’s gaze. “I’m not coping.”
“Duh,” House says. Then, quietly, “Running away doesn’t help. And using sex to run away is going to screw you up worse than you already are. If you need help, get help.”
And maybe he gets therapy, or maybe he pulls himself together on his own: either way, it helps to know House is always watching; that he sees when something’s wrong and gives a damn.
He’s learnt by now that running doesn’t work: he’d run from his mother’s death to seminary; from the loss of his faith to med school; from a career in his father’s shadow to House’s fellowship.
He’d still had to live with himself—could never really escape—because he’d known what he was trying to get away from and carried it with him. He’ll have to live with this too, and what he’s been doing…
“Confiteor Deo omnipotenti…”
He’s not sure anymore what he believes, or if he believes (and even assuming there is a God, does he have the right to ask forgiveness?), but the shapes of the words in his mouth are still steadying. I confess that I have greatly sinned, in my deeds and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.
The first step toward fixing things is to stop actively making them worse. And if he still needs help…
If he still needs help, then he’ll make himself ask for it.END.
Note: The Latin Chase quotes is from the Confiteor, a traditional Roman Catholic prayer. Translated, it means "I confess to God Almighty." The other lines would read "…quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo opere et omissione." (This wording is taken from a modern version, rather than the traditional liturgy.)