Chase’s head hurts. He wishes he could say it was simply because he didn’t drink enough water that day, but the bright lights, pounding music, and frankly concerning amount of alcohol in his system were probably a more realistic reason.
He catches the hot brunette staring at him again from across the bar, and gives her a little smile. If she wants to come to him, she can, but he’s not in the mood to expend any energy. He’s not even in the mood to hook up with anyone, but self-destruction is the only way he knows how to cope with major life changes, and from where Chase is standing, sex is much less dangerous than most of his other options.
The bartender leans across the counter. “Want another one?”
Chase isn’t stupid. He knows about addictive tendencies and their genetic factor. He knows about the detriment of using alcohol as a coping mechanism.
He doesn’t care.
“Yeah. Go ahead, mate.”
He wonders what Taub, Foreman, and Thirteen are doing right now. Probably something more sensible and mature, he thinks irritably.
His thoughts are interrupted by the hot brunette sitting down next to him. Her mini skirt is way too mini, not that Chase is complaining. It makes for a nice distraction.
A few more shots and some cocaine later, Chase doesn’t even remember that he sort of just lost the job that saved his life all those years ago.
Chase is walking out of the brunette’s (Noreen is her name, which surprises him, because it seems like an old lady name) apartment building at 2am when he realises he has no idea where he is. He pulls his phone out of his pocket. He knows he took too much coke when he doesn’t know what any of the numbers or letters mean.
He must look out of it, because a guy walking past asks if he wants him to call a cab. Chase accepts gratefully, and 7 minutes later, a taxi pulls up to the curb he’s sitting on.
Foreman sits back and chucks the controller onto the pillows next to him. He can’t stand seeing the ‘GAME OVER’ on the TV screen. He turns it off. It’s not as fun playing alone, and Taub is out doing something to try and remedy the situation he’s in. Foreman had to work very hard to hold in his laughter when Taub told him. Both Ruby and Rachel, pregnant at the same time? Yeah, it’s still funny.
He takes a small sip of the beer on the table.
Foreman still hasn’t processed what House did. He’s worked with House for 7 years, he knows the man is unhinged and has no regard for ethics or rules, but he never imagined House would do anything to hurt Cuddy. The whole time he’s worked at PPTH, it’s been pretty obvious to him (and everyone else) that House and Cuddy had chemistry. Eventually it had become evident that they were both in love with each other as well. Foreman couldn’t imagine House ever being a loving or caring boyfriend, but he knew that House did love and care about Cuddy. Hence why he coped so badly with the breakup.
There’s a good chance House will go to jail, he knows, and the diagnostics department doesn’t really exist without him. He should probably update his resume.
And what about Chase, Taub, and Thirteen? Foreman figures that with two babies on the way, Taub will probably just find another job at one of the other hospitals in the area, but both Chase and Thirteen have nothing keeping them in New Jersey. Especially Chase, given that he’s from another country entirely.
He wonders if Chase will go back to Australia now. He hopes not. Despite not liking Chase for the first three or four years that he knew him, Chase is probably his closest friend now. Hell, he even covered up murder for him.
Foreman yawns. It’s been a long day, and it’s late. He leaves his half-drunk beer on the table and goes to bed.
Chase isn’t proud of how long it took him to find his house keys, especially since it turns out they were in his hand the whole time. In fact, there’s not much he’s done in his life that he’s proud of, but working in the diagnostics department at PPTH is definitely on the list.
He has no idea what to do now. There’s nothing for him in New Jersey without that job, but he can’t imagine going anywhere else, because there’s nothing for him anywhere. Not even in Australia, not since the deaths of both of his parents. He loves Melbourne, it’s his home, but he doesn’t know if he’s ready to live there again. And his sister still lives there, and they’re still estranged.
Chase knows exactly what would have happened to him if he hadn’t got the job when he did, almost 8 years ago now. He knows he would have been dead within a week of the interview, and he knows for sure because he was planning on it. He had already attempted suicide on three separate occasions, when he was 14, 16, and 19. His whole life was like a series of mediums and lows, always bad or okay, never good. After he left the seminary, he went on a bender that lasted the whole time he was in university. He had been self-destructive for years before he applied for the job on House’s team. Chase had decided before the interview that it was his last chance to ever have a better life, and if he didn’t get it, there was nothing worth staying for. His whole life, he had always been alone, even when his family were all alive and living in the same house.
Chase had always been incredibly grateful to House for the opportunity, especially when he was with Cameron, and planning a whole future with her. He’s still grateful, but it’s a little harder to feel it now.
He doesn’t know what he’s going to do, or where he’s going to go now, but he knows he doesn’t want to hit a low like he did before he got onto House’s team. If his main problem is loneliness, he figures, the best idea is probably to stay in touch with the people he’s somewhat close to.
It’s not the ideal time for a chat, Chase thinks, sitting on his bathroom floor at 3am, still feeling the effects of the drugs and alcohol. But he wants to talk to Foreman, and he thinks Foreman will understand that.
Despite going to bed almost an hour ago, Foreman is still lying awake thinking when the phone rings. It’s 3am, but he’s not doing anything better and he wants to talk to Chase.
Foreman can’t tell if the slur in Chase’s speech is due to alcohol or his annoying accent.
“Sorry if I woke you up, by the way, I wasn’t really thinking. I wanted to hear your voice.”
“It’s fine, Chase, I was awake anyway. I’m glad you called,” Foreman’s trying to play it off but Chase admitting he wanted to hear his voice felt too intimate, hit too close to home.
“What do you think you’ll do now?”
“Circulate my resume around, I guess.”
“Do you think you’ll stay in New Jersey?”
Foreman can’t tell if Chase’s tone indicates that he’s planning to stay or leave.
“Yeah, probably. There’s no reason for me to leave, and moving is kind of an inconvenience.”
Chase doesn’t say anything.
“What about you, do you think you’ll stick around?”
Chase is still quiet on the other end of the line.
“Chase? You still there?”
Foreman hears him exhale slowly.
“I don’t know. There’s no reason for me to leave, but there’s also no reason for me to stay. It’s different for you, because you were born here. I came to the US to work with House. Now, I don’t know. Maybe it’s time to go back to Melbourne. Or maybe not. I could go anywhere, it doesn’t really matter.”
Foreman is sure that Chase is drunk. It doesn’t seem important.
“For what it’s worth, I hope you stay.” The admission feels too honest, but Foreman can’t bring himself to care. There’s a good chance they won’t be working together anymore anyway. They’re both silent for a minute.
“Do you think there’s a chance House will get out of this and things will go back to normal?” Chase sounds younger than he is.
“I don’t know, maybe.”
Chase’s loyalty still irritates Foreman. House just drove a car into his ex-girlfriend’s house, and Chase is still blindly following him around. A disciple to the end, Foreman supposes.
“Do you think we can stay in touch?”
Foreman laughs. “Seriously man, have you taken something?”
Chase laughs at that too. “Yeah, but I mean it. I don’t really have any family. You’re like my closest friend.”
That makes Foreman smile. “Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m kind of a buzzkill. I guess you’re my closest friend too.”
“You’re not a buzzkill, Foreman. You’re fun when you’re in the mood to be. I just think sometimes you need to lighten up.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right.”
A few beats pass.
“By the way, Chase, I’d be really happy if we stayed in touch. Even if you don’t stay in America, we can talk on the phone and stuff.”
They sit in silence together for a long while, Foreman lying in bed in the dark, Chase sitting on the floor in his bathroom. Eventually Foreman breaks the silence, desperate to hear Chase’s voice with his annoying accent again.
“I still can’t believe what House did.”
Chase laughs slightly at that. “Yeah, he’s insane. I suppose that’s a surprise to nobody though.”
“Yeah,” Foreman smirks.
“I feel bad for Cuddy though.”
“Same. I wonder if she'll stay or if she’ll end up leaving because of this too.”
“You know, if she left, the Dean of Medicine position would be open. It could go to you.”
Foreman scoffs. “Yeah, right. There’s no guarantee she’s going to leave, and what makes you think the job would go to me anyway?”
“I think you’d be a great Dean of Medicine, Foreman. You’re responsible and ambitious and whatever. Plus you’ve had like 7 years experience working with House. I think you could probably deal with anybody after that.”
Foreman smiles. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Anyways, Cuddy might stay, we don’t know.”
“You know Chase, things might not have to change that much. You could go back to surgery, and I could go work in neurology. Taub will probably stay, so maybe he’ll be in surgery too.”
“I kind of hope it works out that way. I wouldn’t stay at PPTH if nobody else from the team did though. And it wouldn’t work out that way either if you became dean.”
“So if I became dean, you wouldn’t stay?”
“Maybe, but at some point I feel like maybe I should do my own thing. Whatever that is.”
“I thought you didn’t want to go off on your own, without anyone else.”
“I don’t, but maybe I should take a break, or try something new for a while. I don’t want to spend my whole life following other people around.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Foreman wants to tell Chase that he would always want him around no matter where they’re working, but he knows it wouldn’t be fair. Chase has spent a lot of his life trying to make other people proud - firstly his parents, and then House - and Foreman doesn’t want to be the one holding him back from doing anything he wants to do.
“I don’t know, Foreman. It feels like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, and I’m looking over the edge and everything is about to come crashing down. I don’t know what’s going to happen now. It’s scary.”
Foreman takes a breath. Chase is more even private with his emotions than Foreman himself, so he knows it’s important that he listens. When Chase’s dad died, when he killed Dibala, even through his divorce from Cameron, he never once opened up about it.
“I know there’s nothing keeping you here, or anywhere, so you probably feel lost because you don’t know where to go. But you can always stay here, and Taub and I will almost definitely still be here too. Or if you want to go back to Australia, you can, and that doesn’t have to be scary either, because you grew up there, and you still consider it your home, right?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“I know how you’re feeling. Right now, I feel the exact same. But even though things might change, you do still have some control.”
Chase is quiet for a minute and Foreman worries silently that he’s said completely the wrong thing.
“Thank you, Foreman. I mean it. I’m glad I have you.”
Foreman inhales. “I’m glad I have you too, Chase. Look, before, you said that you had taken something. Can I ask what?”
Chase is on the defensive. “I don’t really have a job right now so I won’t get in trouble, and I was just out at a bar, and I was with this girl and she had some. It’s not like I’m putting patients in danger or anything.”
“I’m not suggesting that you are. Chase, I’m not trying to get you in trouble or tell you off or anything. I’m just asking.”
Neither of them say anything for a few minutes.
“Cocaine. It’s not even a big deal, Foreman, I used to do it all the time. Everyone did, where I grew up, cause it’s like a rich kid thing, right? It’s just for fun, you don’t have to worry.”
Foreman sighs. He’s disappointed, even though he’d never admit it. This means everything Chase has been saying is probably all thanks to the drugs. There’s a pretty slim chance he actually means what he says.
“I’m not worried, I was just curious.”
“You want some?”
“I’m going to pass.”
Foreman hears Chase yawn. His words have been getting slower and slower throughout their conversation, and he knows Chase must be tired and overwhelmed.
“You should go to bed, Chase. You sound tired.”
“I’m not tired.”
He rolls his eyes. Chase is definitely tired.
“I just don’t want to stop talking to you,” Chase admits after a few minutes of silence.
“You know this isn’t going to be our last conversation ever, right? You can call me in the morning. Call me when you wake up, or literally any time. Seriously, Chase, I really do want to stay close with you.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“You were right. I think I’m going to go to bed now.”
Foreman stares at the phone for a few seconds before hanging up. Despite encouraging Chase to get some rest, hanging up the phone and breaking their connection leaves an unnerving emptiness in his bedroom that he can’t shake.
Feeling completely and thoroughly alone, Foreman decides that if Chase wants to call him tomorrow, he’ll gladly talk to him, but he won’t initiate the call. He has no way of knowing if Chase really meant the things he said, or if he only said them because he was drunk and high and lost.
Chase wakes up to a headache and the urge to throw up. He carefully makes his way to the bathroom, trying to make sure he gets all the vomit in the toilet. He kneels on the bathroom floor for a few minutes, until he feels well enough to stand and walk into the kitchen.
He reluctantly puts some bread in the toaster. Even though he doesn’t feel like eating, it’ll probably help.
While he’s waiting, Chase sees his phone on the counter and remembers his call with Foreman. Unfortunately, he could recall everything. God, Foreman probably thought he was the biggest loser for what he said. He actually told Foreman about the aching loneliness and fear he feels.
He buries his head in his hands. How fucking embarrassing. Honestly, it’s ridiculous. And he said all those things about Foreman being like his best friend, and wanting to be around him. Foreman must think he’s so weird for that. Hopefully he can blame it on the drugs and the vodka.
But Foreman didn’t seem weirded out on the phone. He seemed like he agreed with what Chase said, like he felt the same way about Chase.
Chase isn’t kidding himself though. Foreman’s like that. He’s always very professional.
His toast finally pops up.
As he’s spreading vegemite over the toast, it occurs to him that he should probably call Foreman again. Not to hear his voice or anything, but to clear up that anything sappy he said was said because he was drunk and high.
It’s just Foreman. He’s known him for like 7 years. They used to hate each other. Why is he even nervous about dialling? Honestly, it’s stupid.
Foreman’s voice is clear. He’s probably been up for hours, and gone for a run, and made a proper breakfast. Unlike Chase, who just puked.
They’re both quiet for a few moments.
“Look, I just called to say… I don’t really know what. I probably didn’t think it through. I guess I just wanted to make sure I didn’t like… weird you out or anything last night.”
“No, Chase, you didn’t.”
“Okay, good, because I know I was probably being a bit emotional, and I’m sorry I kind of forced it on you.”
“Chase, I wasn’t weirded out, and you didn’t force it on me. You were just a bit overwhelmed, and it’s understandable.”
“Okay, that’s good.”
Chase had intended to play it off as just him being drunk and stupid, but hearing Foreman’s slow, steady voice makes him want to tell the truth.
“I meant everything I said, though. It wasn’t just the drugs or the drinks, I really do want to stay in touch with you. No matter where we end up.”
He can almost hear Foreman smiling over the phone.
“I’m glad. Honestly, Chase, I am.”
“I don’t want to lose you.”
Chase pauses for a second. This is definitely going better than he had imagined.
“You won’t. I’ll make sure of it.”
“You better,” Foreman says with a mild laugh. Chase finds himself chuckling too.
“You know, do you want to meet up for drinks tonight?”
Chase winces. “Probably not the best idea just right now.”
“Oh, yeah… right.”
“But you could… I don’t know, come over and we could watch a movie or something.”
“Okay, sounds good. Look, I gotta go, Chase, but I’ll see you tonight?”
“Yeah, I’ll see you. Bye, Foreman.”
It’s just over a year later when Chase comes back to work at PPTH. A week and a half after House drove the car into Cuddy’s house, Chase left for LA with the intention of a two-week-long surfing holiday. Which then turned into a year-long surfing holiday, mostly in Australia, but also around Hawaii and New Zealand. He and Foreman hadn’t talked as much as either of them would have liked, but Foreman got busy with Dean of Medicine stuff, and Chase was on the other side of the world.
Foreman feels an odd sense of relief, seeing Chase walk through the clinic doors. He’s tanned from all the surfing, and he’s grown a beard, which Foreman can’t say looks bad at all.
Chase looks at him and smiles, and Foreman knows they’re going to be okay.