SUMMARY: There has to be a reason for this kind of avoidance.
CHARACTERS: Chase, Foreman
RATING: R for language and themes (gen fic).
WARNINGS: Details the aftermath of events in Bad Company, a rough, violent story. Aftermath isn't always pretty; may distress some readers. Adult themes and adult language.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em. Never will.
NOTES: The pieces of this shattered story are numbered. The first number signifies the number of days that have elapsed since the original event in Bad Company; the second number signifies when the fic occurs during that day.
In Under the Radar
"Leave me out of it” is practically Foreman’s mantra these days, Chase has noticed. Bad news or good, questions or gossip, whether House’s mood is surprisingly upbeat or particularly foul, Foreman continues on his way. If it doesn’t have to do with a patient, he doesn’t want to hear about it.
Of course, Foreman’s always tried to hold himself apart to one degree or another, at least enough that he can convince himself that he’s doing it all on his own. But Chase can usually fly in under the radar, get Foreman to bend that tiniest bit and relax just enough to show he’s human.
Not lately, though.
For the past few days, since Chase got back from getting his butt kicked in Trivial Pursuit by Wilson, he’s been trying to convince Foreman to take a turn. Wilson needs company, someone other than House, and it’s a chance to get out of the hospital for a while and earn brownie points from House…
“There’s nothing I can do to help,” Foreman snaps, “since amazingly enough the people who beat the hell out of the man did not inflict any brain damage.”
“It’s not a medical consult,” Chase replies, blinking. “It’s just a visit.”
“It’s not my problem.” They've just come out of the lab, having finished the follow-up tests that prove their patient's getting better as quickly as they thought. Foreman stalks away down the hall, and Chase hurries to catch him. Grabbing at the sleeve of Foreman’s lab coat causes the man to spin back around; Chase has to press sideways into the nurses' station to avoid getting clocked.
“What is the big deal?” Chase demands.
“Not a big deal,” Foreman insists, although his fists are clenched. “But as I think I’ve mentioned before, House is Wilson’s friend. He’s the one with the obligation.”
The pause before the word “obligation” is practically infinitesimal, but Chase catches it. He’s been wondering if there was something more to Foreman’s standoffishness recently, and now he just might have it.
He steers the two of them around the corner to a peaceful little nook with a window. Foreman’s looking at him strangely, but he presses on anyway, asking quietly, “What’s your brother in jail for?”
Chin dropped, eyebrow up, Foreman is at his most skeptical. “Why are you changing the subject?”
“What’s he in prison for?” Chase repeats, taking quick glances at Foreman and then looking away again, giving Foreman some space.
When Foreman remains stonily silent, Chase points out, “It’s a public record. I could look it up. I’d bet House already has.”
“Drug charges,” Foreman finally spits out.
Chase nods a few times. He realizes he probably looks something like a Golden Retriever puppy, but that’s fine. He thinks Foreman might trust dogs.
“Just that?” he asks quietly.
Now it’s Foreman’s turn to nod, but he doesn’t mean yes. He leans against the wall and looks out the window to the grounds below. “And assault during the course of a robbery.”
Chase mirrors his stance, against the wall on the opposite side of the window. They look out for a few minutes, gazes crossing. There’s a bit of wind outside, picking up leaves and small pieces of paper and swirling them around. Eddies and currents, and things that were far apart end up close together.
“You were right,” Chase says, and he thinks Foreman might be looking at him, but he doesn’t move his eyes to check. “Wilson’s not your problem. But he’s a good guy, and you might find it interesting to hang out with him for a couple of hours. If nothing else, he’s a font of trivia. I mean seriously.”
Foreman pushes away from the wall, and Chase does too. At first they're walking toward the conference room, but Chase steers them toward the stairs instead. The cafeteria would be good, grab a bite to eat.
“The Trivial Pursuit basic edition is what you played, right?” Foreman asks. “With all those movie posters, I'm betting he does best in Entertainment.”
“History and Geography, actually,” Chase replies, and pushes open the door to the stairwell. “You can catch him out on a lot of the Entertainment ones because his knowledge of pop culture seems to stop at like 1975.”
“What about Sports?” asks Foreman, and Chase thinks maybe he’s gotten in under the radar again.