Title: Safety Net
Characters: House, Chase (friendship)
Summary: After getting the results of Wilson’s CT, House asks Chase for a favor.
"You wanted me to tell Foreman. [...] You're smart enough to know even you'll lose your edge at some point. You want to make sure someone's there when you do." —Chase to House, 8.15: "Blowing the Whistle."
The day after the scan, after extracting Wilson’s solemn oath he won’t try anything so stupid as double-lethal chemo, that he’ll take the advice of any of the five doctors who gave him sane treatment plans, House calls Chase.
“CT results were not good,” he says, dispensing with niceties. “His stunt with the chemo shrank the tumor, but it’s still outside surgical guidelines.”
Chase is quiet for a few seconds. “If he wanted to risk operating anyway…I can stay long enough for that.”
“I’ll talk to him when the shock starts wearing off.” House pauses, draws a breath. He’s never liked asking for favors, and he knows this is a big one. “You were right. When I faked the liver panel.”
“Because I need you available to step in for me until Wilson’s either in remission or dead,” House says flatly.
“I get that you want out. The nest is cramped, having everybody judge you against me sucks—but no one else is going to catch it if I miss a step. So I am asking.”
“And if I say no,” Chase says after a beat, “either you’ll go on leave and the patients whose cases you’d’ve taken will die, or you’ll keep working and split your focus between cases and Wilson—”
“—and the patients whose cases I take could die if I screw up. Yeah.” When Chase doesn’t say anything, House says, “You don’t have any offers lined up in under forty-eight hours. Foreman would give you that promotion tomorrow.”
“Whether I take the promotion’s not the point.” He’s considering, weighing nine years of history against his own ambitions. Finally, quietly, “All right. For as long as you need me—all right.”
He doesn’t make any promises about what’ll happen after, and House thanks him and ends the call without asking for them. Maybe, after a few weeks or months, Chase will settle into working parallel with House, the way he had when he’d been in surgery, and decide that there’s enough room at PPTH for them both. Or he won’t, and as soon as Wilson’s fate is certain, he’ll walk away.
Either way, it won’t be House’s decision, won’t have anything to do with House’s having learned to rely on Chase’s perennial role in the operation of his personal machinery. Whatever Chase is going to do, he’ll do whether House approves or not.
And that’s as it should be.