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21 July 2008 @ 11:46 am
 
Title: Shaken & Stirred
Pairing: Gen-fic with about the usual show's subtexts.
Rating: PG-13.
Disclaimer: Two canons for the price of one and I can't afford either.
Summary: Chase gets one trip to the past except the Doctor's navigation is off and they wind up in 2124 and All Is Not Well.
Notes: This is a sequel to Time Keeps On Repeating, which is also a gen-fic but places a heavier presence in PPTH. This one involves a couple more OC's. Set early-S4 for House, post-Runaway Bride for Who.



The minute he stepped inside the flying alien machine, there were heavy whirring noises and wind pushing him inside and he dropped his messenger bag to the ground while the blue-lacquered door behind him swung shut with a slam. Chase gaped up at the pulsating control panel and something shifting up and down to the soundtrack of great big ‘whoosh’s.

“C’mon then, in you come,” the Doctor encouraged, looking completely mad and a little bit clinically insane. Chase was feeling fairly mad himself for actually agreeing to come for a ride in this TARDIS thing. One ride; exactly one, no more than that and he was going to put his foot down and say no and everything. “The TARDIS stops for no living man,” the Doctor mused enigmatically, words subdued. “Well…except for Henry the Eighth that one time…”

Chase nudged his bag a little further inside with his foot and made his way up the slanted grating to explore the strange console, eyes on the machine and brushing his fingers over it. For the strangest and most paranoid reasons, he almost swore that the lights flickered in time with his touches.

The thing couldn’t actually be sentient. Could it?

“So, how does this thing work?” Chase asked.

“Scientists,” the Doctor mumbled dismissively. “It is a she and her name is the TARDIS, so be polite and get ready for the 1920’s,” he announced with a gleeful grin. “If this is your one and only trip, you’re going to experience a party the likes of which they thought would never end, you know, until October 29th, 1929, which I was there for. Terrible day, that, but once you insert yourself into the course of events, well…no changing it, now is there?”

Chase still hadn’t gotten an answer on how it… or rather, she worked, but the Doctor was yanking on levers and pulling on things and pushing buttons and then everything went still. “Are we there?” Chase asked, confused if that was the signal for landed or maybe that was how the TARDIS signified that the oven was done cooking. He probably looked like he was lost with nothing but maps that he couldn’t understand, but the Doctor was tossing on his long coat in a flurry, gesturing to the door. “We’re there?” Chase interpreted, still confused and still hovering by the console.

“We’re there,” the Doctor replied, draped all over the railing and nodding to the door with his chin. “Companion’s privilege, opening the door to a new tomorrow.” He gave him a onceover, eyes tracking over his clothes slowly. “The clothes’ll do. If anyone asks, you’re ridiculously poor and that’s why you can’t be bothered to match.”

“Hey!” he protested.

“Open the door!” the Doctor insisted. “Honestly, I’ve known sloths faster than you. Sloths and nuns.” He gestured frantically and Chase did the exact opposite as he slowed his step, reaching his hand out as if stuck in very thick tapioca pudding. He had learned a lot of things from House and one of them was testing the limit, the tilt table in real life. It seemed to do the trick, because the Doctor muttered something foreign under his breath, grabbed his hand and pushed it to the latch, forcibly opening the door for him. “You better not make a habit of this,” he warned.

Chase just grinned stupidly as he wandered out into a loud room, filled with the din of chatter, glasses clinging, and soft jazz playing with a violin as the steady constant guiding the music.

The incredibly notable thing about the room was the fashion and the decoration of the place.

Chase found himself coming to a stop as he pushed his hands into his pockets and glanced to the side, where the Doctor was doing much the same, staring at the scene in front of them in bewilderment.

“1920’s, you said we were supposed to be in?” Chase asked, leaning in just enough to be heard over a loud shout from the crowd.

“Apparently not,” the Doctor replied, sounding so confused that he might break from it. “Wait here,” he instructed, sounding stern.

Lesson number two you learned from being a fellow for Doctor Gregory House was that instructions were incredibly malleable so long as what you did was guaranteed to get you a result. This was why Chase pivoted gracefully on his heel and wandered back inside the police box, his hands still casually in his pockets. He closed the door lightly behind him and watched the Doctor bounding all over the console, jabbing this, that and the other.

“I said to wait outside!” the Doctor said, sounding wounded as he caught sight of Chase.

He shrugged. “I don’t like mingling. Someone might have wanted to talk to me. So, instead of my grand trip to the 20’s, where are we?” he was incredibly patient, all things considered, because he was in some strange time and place with a man who he barely knew (even if that man insisted that they knew each other more than they did thanks to time-repeating aliens). “Because my one-trip limit is sticking,” he warned.

“You say that now,” the Doctor muttered under his breath. “Aha, here we are. The year is 2124 and we are in New York.” He frowned at that. “New York, it’s like we barely punted out of Jersey.”

“2124?” Chase echoed, a rush of adrenaline coursing through him as his breath caught, just slightly. “Over a hundred years in the future.” Who knew about descendants, if there was another Cameron out there or, God, if House had decided to procreate? “So, can I go back out?”

“I never asked you to come in!” the Doctor protested. “The only thing you need to know is that culture has changed,” he warned. “Think of the 1920’s and now think of a great role reversal. Whereas prohibition was the word of the day back then, the 2120’s are flowing in liquor. See, the whole idea of it is that if you aren’t drinking, you aren’t accepted...”

The Doctor was prattling on and on, but Chase had begun to sink back into the past without aid of a time machine, the words turning hollow as he swore all he could do was hear his mother’s laugh in his head, the sound of her tears.

“…and so most people drink like they smoke in your day. Packs become bottles and the corporations were all too good about changing the formula so people had to drink more and spend more to become intoxicated…”

The hospital had been rife with too many sounds, all that beeping and coughing, all that suffering and dying was too loud in his ears and Robert Chase had navigated the halls with careful steps. “Mummy’s going to come home,” she’d sworn. “Mummy’s hands will stop shaking.”

Chase wasn’t even listening anymore, because he already knew that this was wrong; all wrong.

“…and besides, after they discovered a cure for cirrhosis and DT’s, well, allons y va to Partytown so people could get their Chase why are you looking so peaky?”

Chase was dragged out of his reverie, barely noticing the Doctor had started to address him and he mustered a smile, trying to look like he was okay and not like he was about to go vomit in an advanced spaceship or in some stray trash can in a future world where people were, apparently, idiots.

“So, what, because it’s cured, people think it’s okay to live like that? To mandate a life like that?” he demanded. “Just because there’s a cure doesn’t mean the lifestyle ought to be lived, just because now there’s an easy fix!”

The Doctor stared at him for a long moment as Chase was already determined to do something about it, which involved picking up his bag and slinging it around his torso. “Chase, this isn’t the time to get passionate about your Oath,” he warned seriously.

“You go on and you party to your heart’s content,” Chase bit out sarcastically, pressing his lips together into something of a terse and smug smile that didn’t even see his lips turning upwards. “I have an errand to run.” Never mind that he had no idea if New York Mercy was still around a hundred some years from now, but he wasn’t about to take this sitting down.

He was already storming out the grating, ignoring the warning cries of, “Chase. Robert Chase, stay here!” because if he was in the future and without a boss, then he definitely wasn’t going to stop. Besides, the worst case scenario was that he got left behind.

It wasn’t like there was anything back in 2007 that he absolutely, desperately needed to be there for. If he was stuck, well, maybe it’d do some good. After all, this was a severely screwed up lifestyle and it couldn’t be right; it just couldn’t.

*

The Doctor was left scowling amidst the glitter and the flapper outfits, passing drinks by here and there as they were passed around. Just because he was in ‘Rome’ didn’t mean he had to be ‘Roman’, contrary to that cliché of a belief. Doing as the Romans did led to a great deal of abuse, opium, and the occasional orgy and when you were trying to save the universe from ending, none of those things really fit the bill for convenience. He stopped a girl passing by in a gold frock, a feather headband sticking out from behind her ear.

She had on a nametag which meant she worked there which meant she held a mild degree of power when it came to the place. “Marie,” he read. “Marie, good name. Marie, I’m the Doctor, here from out of town. What’s the news?” he asked, drawing out the last word. “Anything to see, sniff, hear, taste, smell? Anything neat, anything interesting?”

“Well, we’ve got a new drink special,” Marie advised, leaning on the tips of her elaborate golden shoes (platforms on the back, open-toed at the front and they seemed to shimmer and glow as if they produced their own light) to lean over the bar and grasp a tray. “We call it hypervodka. It’s bound to be the new craze, we’re sure,” she said with a nervous laugh. “Least, they say it is.” She leaned in, the curly mess of her brown hair brushing the Doctor’s cheek in the process. “Between you and me, the stuff’s vile. Good if you’re ready to forget the evening, but I always did like my brain cells in one place.”

The Doctor grinned at her, silly as a goose. “That’s my kind of girl. Never did like the days where I lost my mind. Or my memory. So, Marie. If you don’t like hypervodka and you don’t like to lose your mind, what’s a nice American doing in a place like this?” Really, you didn’t meet that many nice Americans anymore. Or, at least, you didn’t in the future or a certain time in the past. There was a little niche of a time-area where you could meet nice Americans and he happened to be in one. As for the Australians…well, if his erstwhile companion was any indication, he had a decade to strike off that list for picking up agreeable and order-following Aussies.

“It’s the 22nd century, Doctor…sorry, what was your name?”

“Ah, just the Doctor,” he breezily waved it off. “Simple as that.”

“Well, Doctor, you can’t get a decent-paying job these days unless it’s tied into the alcohol craze. It pays well though. I paid off my debt in five weeks and girls I went to school with who’re at law-jobs or teaching, well, they’re bound to pay their loans off for another two years yet,” Marie advised, piling drinks carefully onto the tray, her nails painted with gold lacquer and reflecting with the light. “Thing is, I’m starting to worry I won’t have much of a job. We’re losing customers fast. Ernie, he’s my boss, he thinks we’re losing them to the speakeasy across the way, but I don’t know…”

“Why’s that?” The Doctor pried, though he really wanted to ask just how a girl went to university and came out with a degree that seemingly rendered her capable of paying off loans in that short amount of time while doing nothing more than serving drinks, by the look of it.

“I know a couple of girls there,” Marie provided, leaning an elbow on the bar while she spoke to the Doctor. “And they’re not seeing a boost in customers. If anything, it’s the same as us. Losing business.”

“Government hasn’t made any new decrees?”

“Other than ‘Drink For Your Country’?” Marie gave him a keen and broad grin. “Sorry to say, Doctor, but the only thing the government is doing is providing us all the money we need to keep in business. They say it’s good for the economy, keeps us away from the 2050 recession re-occurring. Anyway, I need to get these drinks off. How about when I finish my shift, I buy you something non-alcoholic,” she offered, leaning in with a coy grin, “As insane as that notion sounds.”

The end of her shift?

Well, it’d be enough time to take a few readings with the sonic screwdriver and see whether those patrons were vanishing because of anything otherworldly and really, who was the Doctor to ever say no to anyone.

“Cheers,” he agreed, waving her off. “Au revoir et à bientôt, etcetera…etcetera,” he mumbled as he turned to the bar and began to wonder what evils were afoot.

And, because that wasn’t possibly enough to do and the Doctor did love a good multitask, he had to wonder where that damned Australian had gone…

*

When Chase had gotten to New York Mercy, there was so much congestion in the waiting room that he was glad he’d brought his ID, however ancient it looked (everyone had 3D nametags with barcodes and hovering symbols, but once in a while, there were people with the old-fashioned sort). He pushed through with terse ‘excuse me’s here and there before he got to the nurse’s station.

“Five words or less,” the nurse warned.

“Where’s diagnostics?”

She pointed down the hall and he gave a ‘thanks’ (bringing him to a grand total of three words) before he hurried down the hall, more than a little spooked by how busy it was. He’d never seen Mercy so packed, not even during the bad flu season when he and Cameron had needed to help with the overflow. He’d grasped a mask somewhere along the line in case this was some kind of meningitis or another disease he didn’t have his inoculations for – which brought up one hell of a question about this Doctor and the people who he travelled with.

He obviously knew he wasn’t bound to see a familiar face, but the name on the door shocked him into a silent stupor that it took him some time to recover. It was enough time for the man in his forties to look up at him from a book and ask, “Yes?”

“Alex Cameron,” Chase read off the doorplate. He slowly pried off his mask and wandered inside the office, where several younger-looking people were hustling about with tests in their hands and books to be checked, along with computers.

“Yes,” the man dutifully agreed once more.

“This is going to be the weirdest question ever,” Chase assured. “But are you related to Allison Cameron at all?”

“No, but I get that a lot,” he replied with a smile – which wasn’t very warm at all. The edges of his lips were creased towards the ceiling, but it didn’t get to his eyes at all and he looked tired. “I just share a name and hopefully I’ll share at least three quarters of the research she left behind.”

‘Left behind’. Well, Chase supposed it was over a hundred years and he couldn’t expect anyone to live forever, so he gave his own insincere smile and nodded to the board, where symptoms were listed and crossed off. “What’s going on here?”

“Who are you?” Alex asked, rising from his chair and pacing towards the board, hovering over it almost protectively.

“Dr. Robert Chase, out of diagnostics in uh, Melbourne usually.”

“Any relation to Rowan Chase at all?”

One hundred years later, Chase thought to himself, and he still couldn’t escape that shadow. He grimaced slightly and managed to nod. “Yeah, great-grandfather,” Chase said, the words mildly bitter. “He was in rheumatology. I’m not. Diagnostics and intensive care and by the looks of this place, you could use both.”

“You noticed,” Alex replied with heavy sarcasm, getting up out of his chair. “We’ve seen a real uptick in cases in the last three, four months? We’ve been scanning and it’s like something is scarring the whole abdominal section and organs. At first, we thought it was targeted poisonings, but then it kept happening and developing in different ways. Some people come in looking like they’re having an epileptic fit, others just go into a coma out of nowhere. We’re stumped.”

“Can I see the tests?” Chase asked, glancing at Alex warily. “I know I’m just visiting and you barely know me, but…”

“Rowan Chase’s relation is good enough for me.”

Alex led him to a smaller, quieter office and started to slide films up against the light, pointing out the incidents of scarring with his pinky. “I mean, it’s things that I usually see in older patients,” he admitted. “People in their nineties and hundreds, but the average age we see right now is fifteen to thirty.”

Chase could have been half-blind and still would have known what this was.

He scoffed and shook his head. “I have to go see a friend,” he muttered. “Put anyone who can handle it on diuretics, antibiotics for anyone who’s seen complications, and cut out protein until I get back. I shouldn’t be long.”

He yanked off the piece of ID and shoved it in his pocket as he double-timed it back to the club he and the Doctor had first arrived in.

He really had to remind himself that he shouldn’t be saying ‘I told you so’, but right now, it was the only thing Chase could think about that was keeping him from wanting to go catatonic or punch out the walls of his cab.

*

The Doctor kept poking his head into the storerooms, but he’d come up with nothing, more nothing, and a really bad case of rats down in the storm cellar. He’d come back up to the main floor dusty, discouraged, and sneezing. Marie was waiting for him and looking far more normal than she had before. “End of the shift?” the Doctor guessed.

“You’re a smart Doctor, whatever kind you are,” she noted.

He grinned at her and was about to ask just what sort of drink she was planning on buying for him when he caught a familiar head of hair in the crowd. “Excuse me,” he said to Marie, pushing his way through the crowd and getting splashed once or twice on his way to greet Chase. “Bloody lovely version of staying put,” he snapped. “The very next time we get in the TARDIS, it’s back to Jersey for…”

“There’s something I need to tell you,” Chase interrupted him.

“Well, go on then.”

Chase told him.

Of course, the Doctor didn’t hear him over the loud female scream that permeated through the whole of the club. He swerved to blast out a loud curse and a demand for some privacy when he saw Marie kneeling over one of the patrons, taking her pulse and speaking to her soothingly. Instantly, the Doctor was in action, pushing through the crowd, and one of his senses informed him that Dr. Robert Chase was at his elbow, right there with him.

“What happened,” the Doctor demanded, his words sharp and rapid-fire. “What happened!”

“She just fainted,” Marie murmured. “Okay, we need an ambulance, another.”

“Another?” the Doctor echoed. “How often does this happen?”

“Three times a night. Five to six on weekends.”

The Doctor stared around him, bewildered and wanting to find something at fault. “Okay, all right, okay, you lot get her to the hospital, Marie and Chase, you come with me outside where I can think and just what was it you were planning on telling me,” he directed the question at Chase, coat spinning with him as he turned to the Australian, who was busy taking the woman on the floor’s vitals and writing something on her palm in palm that started with ‘ATTN: Alex Cameron’. “She’s not a bloody parcel.”

“You should see the hospital. It’s a madhouse. Trust me, this’ll help,” Chase insisted.

They still went outside where the cool night air bit at them and Chase pulled his coat a little tighter around herself. Marie was wearing a long red cloak and tied the drawstrings in a knot and the Doctor simply didn’t feel cold. He was immune to it by now, what with the lower than average body temperature as it was.

“You were wrong,” Chase informed the Doctor, his words as cold as the temperature outside. “It’s not just a fun way to kick around. This lifestyle is hurting people.”

“No, I remember history.”

“Something changed,” Chase said, arms crossed over his torso. Marie was staring at him as well and he was starting to wonder when she was going to begin to ask questions.

“Wait, what do you mean, you know history. About this? It’s still happening.”

“The hospital is overrun. It’s some overblown mutation of cirrhosis, but the strain they’re seeing isn’t current. They think it’s gone, cured. It’s cirrhosis and it’s gone into overdrive and mutated to include new symptoms and there is no cure. There’s no cure and millions of people are going to die,” he accused, seeming to get all his anger out in this one speech. “Because bottles are just like the cigarettes of the old days,” he mocked the Doctor’s earlier words. “I’m going back to the hospital with that girl.”

“I’ll come with you,” Marie interrupted suddenly, glancing rapidly between the Doctor and Chase. “I’ve seen more cases than most people. I know what happens, I can give you an account and you can work to find a cure. Right?”

“There probably is none,” Chase admitted, not lifting his eyes off of the Doctor the whole time he spoke. “Other than quitting.”

“Go. I’ll join you soon,” the Doctor said in return, glaring right back at Chase.

Chase helped Marie with one hand as they got in the ambulance and the whole time, the Doctor stood in the foggy night, the lights of the ambulance flashing against his pale skin in blues and reds and when Chase shut the doors, it felt like they boomed in the Doctor’s hearing.

One trip, Chase had said. The Doctor was starting to wonder if he was ever, ever going to be allowed a vacation.

*

When they arrived at the hospital, Marie had insisted on following Chase. “She’s a patron of the bar, I’m coming,” she’d said simply and left no room for arguments when she took off after the stretcher, her black heeled-boots clicking against the hospital floors as they dodged several beds in the halls and sick bodies temporarily sitting and waiting for a place to sleep. “How can it be cirrhosis?” she demanded, hands clasping one side of the portable bed as Chase hurried along the other, bringing the woman to Dr. Cameron. “I know I was just a little girl when it happened, but they’d cured the last case ever. It was a big day,” Marie added.

“I don’t know how,” Chase said, lost as to the explanation. “I just know it is happening, but maybe, I don’t know, maybe with the way technology’s advanced since the last case, maybe there is a cure,” he mumbled, knowing that people liked to have hope.

There was no answer and finally, he glanced up to find Marie staring at him, looking cross.

“What?” Chase asked warily.

“You’re a really bad liar,” was all Marie said, as if she were disappointed. “So where is she going? I’ll stay with her, seeing as my PhD funnily never shipped when I sent for it in the mail, even though I did all my mail-order degree courses,” she offered dryly.

“Just…” Chase spun in a full circle to try and find even a little bit of space in the hospital halls for them to have privacy. He gave up and helped angle the bed in one of the little nooks by the elevator. “Just stay here for a little. I’ll come and check up on the both of you later.”

“Got it,” Marie assured, leaning over the bed and clasping the woman’s hand.

Chase was sure that she was probably saying something reassuring and could probably even lie about it if pushed. Other people understood how to be sympathetic without being liars, but Chase had never been good at that. Sometimes, he wondered how much his mother had known in her final days, just because he couldn’t keep the truth from off his face and out of his eyes.

He found himself digging his identification out of his pockets and he flashed it to several employees of the hospital before he found his way back to Alex Cameron’s office, the memory still fresh.

“So?” Alex asked, barely glancing up from the slides he was studying with a microscope. “Did you find your friend?”

He still sounded tired and Chase was starting to understand why, and he had only been in the foxhole (so to speak) for a couple of hours. He couldn’t imagine anyone doing this for days, let alone weeks. Chase slumped in a chair nearby and let his head loll to one side to give Alex a wary look, not sure what he was supposed to do.

“How much of the old research still exists, on cirrhosis?” he finally asked. It felt like some strange reversal of his time with House. The diagnosis had been easy to catch, but there wasn’t just one patient on the table anymore. Now there were thousands (probably millions when you considered the national and the global impact) of patients and they had no cure. This wasn’t like letting one woman go because there was nothing left to do. This felt like some sickening form of genocide because they couldn’t stop it.

Alex pried his gaze away from the microscope, prying off his reading glasses as he ran a hand through his disheveled sandy-blond hair – it was kept shorter than Chase’s and had tufts of brown and grey every once in a bit. He was a lean man, but Chase suspected a lot of his thinness had to do with stress-induced weight loss, as his clothes sat on him baggily. “Not much that would help. We’ve already tried everything to do with the last cure, but it’s mutated too much for anything we have to apply.”

“So you need something from scratch,” Chase agreed, barely glancing up when the door to the office swung open again.

It was the Doctor there, standing at the threshold of the door and looking rather cross, which Chase couldn’t blame him for. After all, he’d been wrong and now there were thousands of people’s lives on the line. “Was I called? I thought I heard something about ‘impossible cure’ and took it to be my cue,” he remarked, almost too nonchalantly for Chase’s tastes, just gliding into the room and slumping into a chair, propping his feet up on the table. “What do you think, Doctor Chase? Should we go about that now or would you like to run off again?”

Chase flashed a terse smile in the Doctor’s direction. “I was following a hunch,” he said.

“Well-followed,” the Doctor praised, mildly. “But now, I get to solve it,” he finished with a wink in Chase’s direction. “Prepare to be amazed.”

Chase glanced to the ceiling and reminded himself that this was nothing outside the normal ego that he was used to putting up with House. It just surprised him mildly because part of the reason he’d agreed to this one trip was because he was trying to get a temporary reprieve from the crippled genius. He glanced over to Alex, who appeared just about as wearily unimpressed as Chase felt.

“Who is this guy?” Alex finally asked, jutting a thumb in his direction.

“The one I’m travelling with,” Chase admitted. “The one I had to go tell. He’s actually pretty smart, so he can be help…”

The Doctor had just pulled out a vial of something or other, like he’d been carrying around a miracle cure on him the whole time.

“…ful, what the hell?” Chase finished, gaping. “Did you always have that?”

“You never groped me to check,” the Doctor said, flashing a brilliant smile in Chase’s direction before handing it over to Alex. “Don’t ask about the whereabouts of where I found that,” he directed sharply, as if he hadn’t just been joking around a moment before. “It’s not perfected, but it’s got the right chemicals within it so that you’ll have not only a palliative, but something that will reverse three-quarters of your cases.” He turned to give Chase a slightly guilty look. “The ones who are too far gone, though…” His voice took on a softer sound. “There’s nothing else to be done.”

Alex took the vial and stared at it for a long while, almost like he was afraid it might vanish or catch fire. Eventually, his grip on it tightened and he gave a committed nod, mouthing ‘thank you’ to the Doctor before turning to Chase. “Maybe I’ll get to go home this weekend after all,” he tiredly remarked, pushing out of the office, leaving Chase, the Doctor, and about a hundred books and vials around them.

“Where’d you get it?” Chase asked, unable to keep his curiosity to himself much longer.

“Oh, took a jaunt three hundred years in the future,” the Doctor said casually, scratching his nose and reclining even further in his chair, glancing at Chase and giving him a ‘but that’s normal for me’ sort of look. “Turns out, my history might not have been as polished as I thought.”

“So you were wrong,” Chase corrected.

“Ah, not wrong, just…off,” the Doctor said, with a slightly mollified look to his face. “It turns out that in the twenty-second century, there’s a resurgence of cirrhosis, which luckily was cured by two dashing doctors, even if one of them is worse-behaved than even the most ADD-riddled dog and wanders off at the drop of a pin,” he added casually.

“Yeah,” Chase drew out the word, “but you’re a cute ADD-riddled dog.”

The look on the Doctor’s face was completely worth it, even if that stupefied look was followed by a muttered, ‘see if I ever take you out of your own timeline ever again’.

*

Three hours in the lab with the Doctor had slowly descended into ‘stand there while the Doctor ordered Chase around’ and then eventually, it had denigrated into more verbal slings to the point that Chase excused himself to find a place that was far more sane. That place wound up being the crook in the hall that he’d last seen Marie and the patient and he offered a half-there smile as he approached.

“Where is he?” was Marie’s first question.

“The Doctor?”

“The one who kept trying to question you to death, yeah.”

“Yeah, that’s him,” Chase confirmed, slumping against the wall to sit beside her. Marie had slid down and had her knees pointed in against each other, staring up at the patient as she twirled a chain on her neck. Chase just tiredly watched her for a long moment, curious about her story, but he had the feeling once that cure was put into action, he wouldn’t be sticking around very long, so there wasn’t much point in bonding. Emotional attachments spelled trouble. If he’d learned anything while working for House and watching Cameron get too close to her patients, it was that. There was safety in some detachment and it was the only thing that kept Chase from running himself ragged, especially on some cases that hit far, far too close to home.

She watched him and he watched her and Chase started to suspect that she was tired in her own ways. “Is there anything we can do?”

“We’re working on it. Not that these people didn’t bring it on themselves,” Chase pointed out, the bitterness in his tone loud and clear. “I mean, I get that the government pushed it on, but alcoholism isn’t just about the diseases that come from it. There’s more to it than just physical ailments. What about the social ramifications?”

“It was making the government a lot of money and not killing anyone,” Marie quietly said. “There were programs in place, but they were just there so they could say they were there.”

“Imagine that,” Chase said, mouth dropping in fake-sarcasm. “The government lied about something.”

Marie gave him a cold stare and shook her head. “Don’t,” she reprimanded. “Don’t act so high and mighty just because you came in on the middle of the problem and you disapprove. If you’d been here from the start, you’d be just like the rest of us. It’s like that ancient thing about the frog in hot water. It just happens slowly and then suddenly, you’re boiled frog legs.”

“Boiled frog legs…?”

“You know what I mean.”

Chase managed a shrug and quashed the little voice in his head that wanted to keep on about how they’d all made huge mistakes and were paying for them. He’d made his own mistakes over time and no one was rubbing salt in his wounds (anymore, at least, when his father and House weren’t right there do that). “Sorry,” he managed to get out and it actually was faintly sincere.

“We’re just tired,” Marie excused quietly, brushing her thumb up and down her palm. “So what’s your story?”

“He’s madly in love with America and can’t bear to stay away even though his true love is the colonies,” a foreign voice interrupted their conversation, plucky as always. “And he’s a Sagittarius…”

“…Scorpio,” Chase interrupted, though it didn’t stop the Doctor from ploughing along.

“…a Scorpio, apologies, who enjoys long runs on the beach, solving medical mysteries, and being ornery when it comes to alcoholism,” the Doctor finished easily, leaning back against the same wall that Marie and Chase were sat along. The Doctor didn’t bother to slide down and join them, choosing instead to stand above it all. He craned his neck to peer down at the both of them. “The first treatments are being put into the IV’s. Care to watch?” He offered two hands, one to each of them and helped to tug them to their feet, leading the way down the hall without even waiting for an answer.

Chase offered Marie a hapless shrug as he started to follow, too.

“So, what is it you two do, exactly?” she asked, with a hush.

“I apparently follow half-strangers on a whim to go solve medical cases,” Chase replied, his tone just as soft. “And wish I’d known more about the ego before I’d said yes.”

“I heard that!”

“You were meant to,” Chase retorted, giving Marie another apologetic smile. “I guess he’s not too bad. I mean, I never would have seen this place if he hadn’t invited me along for the ride.” He’d gotten a glimpse of the future and even if it wasn’t perfect, it was new territory for someone who thought he’d never get out of New Jersey after settling his roots, there. He kept his distance from the Doctor, even though he was being very critical in watching him attach the new drugs to the IV’s. “So, what about you? What’s your story?”

“Working for a bar because it makes me money, but if this disease goes public, I doubt there’ll be as much drinking and less tips in it…” Marie trailed off, hands in the pockets of her coat. “Well, I might go back and teach, I suppose. I’ve got my degrees in order.”

They seemed to catch up to the Doctor, who handed several vials to Chase and mumbled ‘patients four through ten need it injected’ and then he was back at work, prying himself away from Marie and whatever bonding they were doing. Maybe it didn’t have to be so bad. Just because he knew someone didn’t mean he was too close.

Maybe.

It didn’t take him very long to get the injections delivered and when he was finished, he started searching for the Doctor, finding him in the door to the ward and giving him an approving nod. Then, a tap to his watch and Chase knew it was time to go – he didn’t know where to, but it was time to go somewhere else. Home, maybe, Chase assumed. Chase made sure his last patient was feeling okay and couldn’t help a stern ‘lay off the alcohol’ in his direction before he rejoined the Doctor at the door. “So?”

“So, what?” the Doctor easily replied.

“So, is it time for the carriage to turn into the pumpkin? Time to go home?”

The Doctor seemed to look him over considerately, staring at the fixtures on the ceiling as he pulled his gaze back to Chase. “You did well,” he appraised. “Even if I don’t approve of the whole wandering off, seeing as you might get yourself killed and you still haven’t proved that you’re any help outside of a medical situation. But still, it was a job well done. And you embody what I love about humans. You always pry, poking your noses in places that shouldn’t be your business until you’ve gone and made it yours. Even made a couple of friends, dare I say it,” the Doctor added, nodding over to Marie. “She’ll be a good doctor.”

“She said she might try her hand at teaching.”

“Yeah, well…then she doesn’t know what I do about what’s coming up,” the Doctor said with a cheeky grin on his face. “Well, Doctor Chase, you’ve got two options now, far as I can see. The first is we take you back home to Jersey. The second is that I actually take you where you were meant to be,” he continued, with a mild hint of apology in his tone, like that was all Chase was bound to get in the way of admitting they were in the wrong place. “After all, 1920’s, bit of a riot and you might even look passable in a zoot suit.”

Chase pushed his tongue against his cheek considerately, keeping the hospital pass tucked in his pocket as he turned and started to make the walk to the exit, not bothering to say goodbye. They had known him for a day and wouldn’t need that kind of closure, he figured. The 1920’s…

“How about take a couple hundred years off that,” he said considerately, turning to watch the Doctor as he walked backwards. “How about 1512, completion of the Sistine Chapel?”

“For the art or the church?” the Doctor asked, mildly critically.

Chase just offered a hapless shrug, still walking backwards. “Dunno,” he lied (poorly) as he kept his eyes on the Doctor. “You could always drop me back off in Jersey. I mean, provided you hit the right target this time.”

With that barb landed, he turned and pushed his way out into the air of the twenty-second century with the night sky above him feeling a lot crisper and refreshing than it had when he’d arrived.

After all, it wasn’t like he had anything critical to do back home. Live, work, eat, sleep had been the way it went for ages upon ages without any indication of change on the horizon. He was due a little living, if only for the way he’d turned into an adult when he was still too young to do anything of the sort.

He barely heard the Doctor catching up, but suddenly he was at his elbow, tugging him to the side to yank him into the TARDIS.

“1512 it is,” he guaranteed, “but don’t blame me if Michelangelo takes you on as his new favourite boy.”

Chase smirked and turned to give one last look to the night sky before closing the doors on that new tomorrow.

THE END
 
 
 
eryaforsthye: Donnaeryaforsthye on July 22nd, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
Ah, I'd really love to read the prequel to this, but the link's not working.

Apparently I am not allowed access to that entry. :)

Is the fic on a public entry I can read somewhere? :)
AndreaLynandrealyn on July 22nd, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)
Ha! Found the public copy. It's right here.
eryaforsthye: Smileeryaforsthye on July 22nd, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
Oooooh, thank you! That was prompt! :D

*dashes off to read*

*G*
eryaforsthye: Houseeryaforsthye on July 22nd, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
Aww, lovely! (Just finished) :D

You've got a real talent for plot, you know -very plausible and very well-characterised.

I love it! :D

Thank you so much for posting this. :)

*mems happily*
AndreaLynandrealyn on July 25th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the lovely words! It makes me REALLY happy to hear that the plot worked because the whole thing sort of lived or died by that!
seldra on July 27th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
Oh I love this! You're Ten is so ridiculously perfect I can just hear him nattering away in my head, and I *love* the interactions between him and Chase! I'm so glad you wrote another of these stories! They're so much fun to read!
AndreaLyn: house: morning routineandrealyn on July 29th, 2008 12:08 am (UTC)
I might just write the next if the muse ever comes home to me! Thank you so much for reading ♥