- Abuse - Domestic
- Explicit Sex
- No Beta
House was the first to say something. “You know she’s cheating on you, right?”
It was typical House, spoken coldly in front of his peers in the conference room in the middle of a patient assessment. Doctor Robert Chase was frozen where he stood writing on the whiteboard. Behind him he heard Allison scoff.
“That’s ridiculous. We’re bonded, House. How could that even happen?”
“Well, Cameron, its simple. You fuck someone that isn’t our dear Wombat.”
Allison looked disgusted at House’s crass language. “I didn’t mean literally. I meant how would that even be possible for anyone in a bonded pair to accomplish without the other person knowing?”
“Ooo, now that’s the fun part. Well, fun for me to figure out. Not so fun for our jilted guide.” House began slowly spinning in his chair, hands steepled under his chin. “First, the bond probably isn’t healthy or complete or both, because Cam is right; if it was, Chase would feel related emotional cues through the bond at some point. Next, my guess would be that the person she’s sleeping with is either someone she works with closely, so the scent of that person on her wouldn’t raise undue interest, or someone not related to the hospital, so no one could ascertain the scent’s significance. Wouldn’t want other sentinels sniffing around and getting suspicious.”
Cameron stood and glared at House, gesturing toward the white board. “This is ridiculous! We have a patient that needs treatment. Don’t you think that’s more important than whatever stupid game you’re trying to play?”
“Oh, you’re concerned about the patient?” House said mockingly. “I figured out her problem twenty minutes ago.”
Their current case was a teenager that had recently come online as a guide. She mysteriously collapsed at school one day. Chase turned to look at House expectantly, as did Cameron and Foreman. House stopped turning his chair and faced them.
“Oh, come on guys. It’s the mother! She’s a mundane, and I’d say she doesn’t want a guide for a daughter. She’s been slowly poisoning her with low doses of gold sodium thiomalate. No sentinel smelled it as a possible source because both mom and daughter wear matching gold earrings and the scents were too similar to differentiate as being out of place. Her symptoms seemed too close to heavy metal poisoning for comfort, so I ran some tests when she first came in and they just came back. I already ordered treatment, and reported her mother to the appropriate authorities. The girl will be fine, eventually.”
House stopped, but no one said a word in the ensuing silence.
“So, back to Chase and Cameron’s thing. Who is it?”
Robert slumped into a chair at the table. He didn’t think Cameron could be cheating on him. She was his sentinel. They’d bonded just after they met, and had been happy since. Well, Cameron seemed happy at least. Being bonded wasn’t the easy, wonderful relationship everyone made it out to be, but he figured that was just the way it was going to be for he and Allison. Surely he would know if she was doing something like that, wouldn’t he?
“What are you talking about, House?” Cameron snapped.
“Who are you sleeping with? I mean, it’s obviously not Chase. Our little wombat is wound tighter than a string on a banjo,” House said, affecting an exaggerated southern accent for the last phrase.
Chase would be mad, but it was true. Instead he just sat there, becoming more and more numb as the facts came together to form a disturbing picture in his mind. Allison had always claimed her senses were well under control, and she didn’t need to physically renew the bond often.
Lately things had been different between them, but Chase had chalked it up to them always having clinic shifts scheduled opposite each other. His own shielding had felt a bit off lately. Maybe it wasn’t entirely his fault. Maybe there was something to what House was saying.
He suddenly had to know. He stood and moved toward Cameron quickly, grabbing the exposed skin of her wrist and opening his mind to their bond.
“Is it true?” Chase practically growled.
She didn’t respond, but Robert felt disgust pouring off her.
“You don’t even feel guilty about it do you?” He whispered, horrified at what was playing out publicly between them.
“What? You expected me to just go along and play house with you the rest of my life? I bonded so I could use my senses better in my career. That’s all this was. You didn’t think I actually loved you, did you?”
Chase reeled back, stunned at Cameron’s admission. Everyone was silent for a moment. Foreman looked supremely uncomfortable to be witnessing the entire situation. He was a latent guide, and was probably almost as horrified at Cameron’s actions toward her bonded guide as Robert himself was.
“Cameron, you’re fired,” House broke the silence with his no-nonsense statement.
“Oh, come on, House. Chase will get over it and we’ll still be able to work together just fine,” Cameron said dismissively.
“No! You are a poor excuse for a physician that has skated by on enhances senses. I don’t actually think you’re good enough to work for me, especially since you’ll most likely go dormant when your bond is broken. The only reason I kept you around is because your guide worked for me first, and he’s actually smart enough to keep up with me!”
Cameron’s mouth dropped open. “I’m not going to break my bond!”
“You may not, but Chase almost certainly will want to, and I’m going to help him. If I had to guess, I’d say Foreman will encourage him to do the same as well. We’re not going to sit here and watch you abuse a guide this way.” House paused, breathing hard. “Get out now,” he said lowly.
Cameron waited a moment, but then stood and left the room. Robert wasn’t sure if she would leave the hospital or go crying to Cuddy about House’s dismissal first, but right now he didn’t care.
“Careful, House,” Chase croaked out. “People might think you actually care about me.”
“Then they’d be fucking right, for once.”
The numbness and shock was finally fading, and at House’s words, a sob attempted to escape Robert’s tight chest. He held his fist to his mouth, determined to keep the turmoil of his disastrous bond at bay.
“Let’s get him out of here. Maybe to the Center?” Foreman suggested.
House shook his head. “No. I’ll take him to a place I know of; far from her reach. I have a friend that I think can help. A guide.”
Foreman raised his eyebrows in surprise, but didn’t argue.
– – – – –
Chase woke when the car came to a stop. They had been driving for a few hours, and he’d fallen asleep not long after leaving Princeton, the emotional revelations of the day taking their toll. House and Foreman had shepherded him out of the hospital and to House’s car right after House had made a quick call to Cuddy to briefly explain.
House had driven him to the home he’d shared with Cameron for the last couple of years. Thankfully, she wasn’t there. After grabbing a few sets of casual clothes and a jacket to ward off the edge of autumn that was creeping into the air, they went to House’s apartment and did the same. Then they had started driving. Chase felt oddly hollowed out and emotionless, and couldn’t care enough to ask where he was being taken or what would happen when they got there.
He now found himself staring at an old farmhouse. It was dusk, and he could see the lights of a small town starting to blink on in the distance. Small parcels of wooded land were interspersed with farm fields between the town and their location.
“Pleasant Lake. That’s the name of the town. We’re in upstate New York,” House said when he noticed where Robert was looking.
House opened his door and stood slowly. Robert got out too, and watched as the other man leaned heavily on his cane as he made his way back to the trunk. When Chase made it around the other side of the car and met him there, House had paused to knock back a couple of pills.
“Leg got stiff on the drive?” Chase asked.
“Brilliant diagnosis, Dr. Wombat. Grab the bags, we’re staying.”
Robert smiled slightly as he bent to pull their duffels out of the trunk. At least when everything else in the world had gone to shit, he could rely on House to be his usual caustic self. They made their way up onto the wide front porch and were greeted by the porch light turning on right before someone opened the door.
A tall man with rugged features, but a startlingly sweet smile stood and held the door open for them. House didn’t say anything to the man, just walked right in.
“Gregory,” the man said in greeting as House passed him, before looking back to Chase. “C’mon in. Leave your bags wherever for now. Benny’s got food on in the kitchen.”
Robert realized he’d been standing there dumbly since House walked in, and he blinked out of his stupor to step inside the house. After setting down their bags, the other man held out his hand.
“Name’s Eric Fielding, sentinel. You must be Dr. Chase. Greg called ahead and explained your situation. Hopefully we can make things a bit easier for you.”
Chase set down the bags and grabbed Eric’s hand to shake. The moment he made contact a crushing weight of emotion came washing over him. He wouldn’t say any of it was negative per se, just too much.
The next thing he knew, he was blinking up at House’s face hovering over him. Robert realized he was sitting on the floor, slumped against the wall in the entry hall.
“Chase? You okay?” House asked.
Before he could respond, a handsome black man with a neatly trimmed beard was kneeling next to him. Chase realized this must be the man Eric had mentioned earlier.
House directed his next question toward him. “Ben, what happened to him?”
Robert got a warm smile from the man. He had a strong a soothing guide aura, and Chase figured he was fairly high level.
“Hi there. We didn’t get to do introductions yet. I’m Benedict Fielding. Most people around here call me Ben. I’m this one’s guide,” he said gesturing toward Eric over his shoulder.
The deep voice was soothing in a way and helped Robert regain his focus.
“Hello.” His voice cracked and he cleared his throat. “Robert Chase. Sorry about this.”
“Not your fault, Chase. Definitely not your fault,” House spoke lowly.
“Well, I think because of the problems with Robert’s bond, he’s experiencing some more extreme touch sensitivity. Do you think that’s about what you experienced?”
Robert cleared his throat again and sat up a bit straighter. “Yeah. I got a wave of emotion, I guess you could call it. Nothing very distinct. It was just so much all at once.”
“Okay. And do you feel like your shields are still in place? Are you getting general emotions from the room?” Ben asked.
“No, my shields feel pretty much like they always have. I’m not getting too much empathic feedback or anything.”
“Alright. Dinner is still hot, so let’s get some food in you, and we can talk about next steps after we eat. Knowing Greg, my guess would be he hasn’t told you much about who we are or why you’re here yet.” Chase shook his head in acknowledgement, and Ben chuckled, “just try to avoid skin contact for now.”
House stood then and braced his weight on his good leg and cane, and reached out a hand. Robert carefully gripped his forearm over the sleeve of his shirt and stood mostly under his own power. He appreciated the steady presence of someone familiar though. He’d been feeling off since Cameron walked out of the conference room in the hospital earlier that day.
They sat down in the kitchen to a simple but delicious meal. Robert hadn’t realized how hungry he was until the food was in front of him. He was feeling a bit more himself by the time they were finished. He hadn’t participated in conversation, just let the small talk of the other men go on in the background as he ate. He listened enough to ascertain that House knew Eric and Ben quite well, and they seemed to be catching up on life and news of mutual acquaintances.
Eric stood and started collecting everyone’s dishes, and Robert decided he was ready to learn more.
“So you both know House pretty well then?” he asked.
Ben was the one to respond. “Yes, we’ve known each other for years, but I’ll leave it to Greg to decide what details to tell you. It’s a complicated story.”
House flapped a hand in the air absently as he spoke. “Yes, yes. BFFs. Blah, blah, blah. Here we are.”
Ben shot House an exasperated look. “Look, let’s talk through some things first, but if this goes the way I think it will go; Greg, I think you’ll want to fill Robert in on your history.”
House got that closed off look on his face and his eyebrows were drawn together.
“That’s not possible.”
Ben wasn’t fazed by the gruff demeanor. “You’re already operating on borrowed time, Greg. We all know that. One day it’s all going to come out. Maybe it’s time you trusted someone else with it.”
Well, now Robert’s curiosity was piqued, but he didn’t have a chance to dwell on the mystery before House was deliberately drawing attention back to him.
“So Chase’s sentinel is an abusive twat. What are we going to do about it?”
Robert herd Eric chuckle from where he was standing at the sink rinsing dishes. Ben visibly changed gears and turned toward him.
“From what Greg has told us about what he’s seen of your bond and the recent affair, it seems pretty clear that Dr. Cameron is unstable, both in general mental health and as a sentinel. You’ve probably been giving a lot physically and mentally to the bond, and not receiving that back in return. Her behavior, especially the fact that she recently decided to start an affair outside of your bond, is frankly abusive. She’s been using you to prop up her sentinel abilities, and doesn’t respect you as a guide or a person.”
Ben paused, and Chase slumped forward, elbows on the table and head in his hands. He let out a shaky breath.
“You’re not wrong.” Robert looked up and knew his eyes would be wet and red-rimmed. “The moment I realized she was actually having an affair; I saw it all.” He laughed mirthlessly. “I mean, I’m a doctor specializing in sentinel and guide medicine, and I was in denial of how hard it was to function in a bond with her. For years! If I’ve realized anything in the last several hours, it’s that I never had what I thought I had with Cameron.”
The room was silent for a moment before he continued.
“She’s my true sentinel. My fated match. As fucked up as that is, I know that it’s fact. Maybe if she hadn’t been, it would be easier. Maybe I would have seen through all her shit. But she is, and I don’t really know how to go on after this.”
Robert looked over at House then. He was surprised to see emotion in his eyes, rather than the unaffected mask he so often wore. It wasn’t compassion or pity. It was probably closer to determination. Determination to do what, Robert didn’t know, but somehow he knew it was for him.
A throat cleared beside him and Ben broke into the moment. “Robert, you have options. Eric and I have a history of helping out sentinels and guides in unique situations where the S&G Center might not be appropriate. Out here, with time and space from her, you can break your bond. If that’s what you chose.”
“I won’t lie; it won’t be easy. The other thing to consider is that we don’t actually know what the result will be. You may recover in time as a fully online guide, you may go dormant, or you may land somewhere in between. Empathically sensitive, return to a latent state, a different level of empathic gifts. We won’t really know until it happens. If you’ll allow it, I’d like to get a read on your level and your empathic shielding.”
Robert nodded and held out a hand. He knew skin contact was easiest for this task. Eric returned and stood next to Ben, placing a hand on his shoulder to ground him. Chase was a little concerned about what the contact would bring down on him empathically, but this time he was braced for it.
Ben gently gripped Robert’s hand. The flood of emotion wasn’t there, but he could definitely feel Ben’s presence. Ben was obviously a powerful guide and was able to control his own emotional projection even as he waded through Robert’s head. He became more relaxed the longer they touched, and was surprised when he was blinking his eyes open a few moments later.
“You with us, kid?” Eric asked.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m okay.”
Chase heard House snort at his statement. Yeah, he knew that in the big picture he was about as far from okay as one could get, but he was still hanging on.
“What’s the damage?” he asked, looking toward Ben.
“You have some options. I think that if you wanted to work at it, you could break the bond and regain your guide abilities in time. If you break the bond and do nothing further, you will likely go dormant. In your circumstance, your dormancy wouldn’t be the same or quite as complete as if you had been mentally unstable. It won’t damage your standing in the S&G community or your ability to keep your career. You may even retain some low levels of empathic sensitivity. The one thing you will most definitely lose, however, would be your connection to the spirit plane. You haven’t brought it up yet, so I’m assuming you don’t have a strong relationship with your spirit animal?”
Robert sighed. “No, although I had always wished I did. I only ever saw my spirit animal, a fox, the day I came online. I was never able to connect with it again in training or afterward.”
“Not a wombat?” House asked sarcastically.
Chase just rolled his eyes. “No, House. Not actually a wombat. Really. If we’re going to use your logic to determine spirit animals, yours must be a donkey, because you’re an ass.”
Eric threw his head back and laughed long and loud. Ben smiled and chuckled too, but gave House a strange knowing look. Chase couldn’t help but join in with a smirk of his own. At least he still had this. Verbal sparring with House never got old.
“Well, well, well, Dr. Chase. At least that bitch didn’t ruin all the fun parts of you yet,” House tossed back.
That sobered Chase up a bit. Reality came crashing back in and he sighed. “I don’t know if I can be a guide anymore. I feel like that part of me has been used and twisted. She soiled it with her actions and made it something dirty and wrong. I know I should probably fight it. I know I should probably want to be a guide again, but I don’t. It feels wrong to say it, but not having to carry the weight of it day after day would be such a relief.”
Ben looked sad, but understanding. “Robert, no guide is meant to live in an unhealthy bond and accept the abuse of a sentinel. I’m sorry you’re losing a part of you, but if you feel that’s the path you want to take, you’ll find no judgement from us. We’ll be here to help you through the process.”
“Okay. Thanks.” With that decision made, it was if the exhaustion he’d been pushing back for the last couple hours, came pouring over him.
He must have looked dead on his feet, because Eric began ushering them away from the table and upstairs. The large house had several bedrooms, and Chase and House took rooms next to each other. Robert immediately took his kit to the bathroom across the hall to clean up a bit, and then put on sleep pants and crawled into the surprisingly comfortable double bed. He spared a thought to wonder if House would stay up catching up with his friends, but then sleep overtook him before it was fully developed.
– – – – –
He woke on a shout, heart pounding and a confusing mass of emotions making thought difficult. He could feel her. Feel his sentinel. Chase was confused. How was that even happening? As the emotions coalesced and became more clear, he realized what she was doing. She was fucking someone, and he could feel the associated emotions through the bond.
His stomach roiled and he sat up abruptly, grabbing his head. His distress or the noise must have woken the other sentinels in the house because he heard a knock on the bedroom door. Robert was pretty sure Ben had called his name, but he couldn’t really organize his thoughts enough to respond. After waiting only a few seconds, the door opened to admit all three of the other men in the house.
Chase couldn’t let go of his head. The way Cameron was pushing through their bond was physically painful. He heard indistinct voices around him, but the only response he could muster was a pained moan. The bed dipped and he felt a hand on his knee through his sleep pants.
“Robert,” Ben spoke gently. “Can you focus on me? Tell me what’s going on?”
Robert gritted his teeth and put some effort into pushing back and clearing his mind enough to communicate.
“Cameron,” he said roughly. “I can feel her. Everything. I think she’s having sex with someone right now. I’m getting all her emotions.”
“What the fuck?” He heard House say angrily.
“Okay, can you feel your bond?” Ben asked.
“Yes. It’s like it’s wide open. Like the first time we bonded, but it’s twisted,” he choked on a breath. “Oh, god. The lust and then anger too. It feels wrong. She’s doing this on purpose, isn’t she? She’s doing this to hurt me.”
“Most likely. She would need to consciously open the bond and let her emotions bleed through to make you feel this. She’s likely doing it now because she wouldn’t have the strength to open the bond in normal circumstances. She needed the heightened emotions and sensory input of sex,” Ben confirmed. He sounded regretful as he continued. “I can try to shield you empathically, but I don’t think it will help shield you from your bond with her.”
Robert felt Ben’s mental presence envelope him. It was soothing in a way, but as predicted, did nothing to protect him from Cameron. A surge of twisted pleasure made him feel suddenly sick, and he lurched to his feet and stumbled to the bathroom across the hall before vomiting in the toilet.
He slumped against the edge of the tub when he was finished, and looked up to find Ben and House had followed him.
Another wave of emotions came through the bond and his headache intensified. Robert groaned. “Please make it stop. I don’t want this. Get her out,” he managed in a trembling voice.
“Eric is calling the Princeton Center to let them know what she’s doing and see if there is a way they can find and stop her, or at the very least arrest her for the deliberate attack,” Ben spoke, steady and calm.
“No! We can’t just sit here and let her keep doing this to him!” House practically shouted at Ben. “There has to be something more you can do! You’re supposed to be a strong guide, so fix this!”
“I don’t know that there is more we can do. Short of someone finding her in Princeton or severing the bond, she’s in control. A bond can’t be severed instantly anyway. Robert might be able to block it from his end, but considering the uneven nature of the bond and the stress that has placed on him over the years, he probably lacks the strength to do it at this point.”
Chase let out another pained groan. At least he knew the physical act of sex had to end at some point, even if Cameron’s anger didn’t. It was a sick distinction to have to make, but he would take what he could get right now. He needed a distraction. He held out his hand.
“Someone touch me.”
“What?” House said.
“Skin contact,” Chase said hoarsely.
Ben cocked his head quizzically. “He wants exposure to emotions other than those he’s getting from her. Distraction. Something else to keep his focus.”
House shook his head.
“I’m willing, but I think it would be better coming from someone familiar,” Ben argued.
Chase watched as they seemed to have some cross between a staring contest and a silent conversation.
“Please,” he said quietly.
“Oh, fuck it.” House moved carefully to sit next to Chase on the floor, and immediately took his hand.
Chase gasped in surprise as new emotions washed over him, lessening the pressure of those from Cameron.
“You’re not…messy. I always thought you’d be messy with all that medical genius tumbling around up there.”
House grunted in acknowledgement.
“You’re also not a sentinel.”
House turned his head away, and Chase could feel a strange mix of guilt and remorse coming from House. It wasn’t the reaction he expected from the man.
“You going to explain that?”
“I will, but later.”
Robert realized Ben had stepped back into the hall and was discussing something lowly with Eric. He enjoyed the moment of distraction as he processed House’s emotional state. Anger, frustration, worry, and in the background he could sense House was in pain.
“I always wondered how a sentinel could handle that much Vicodin. Guess that’s one thing explained,” Chase said casually.
“Wilson knows. It’s why he helps me out with the drugs.”
A wave of Cameron’s anger surged back, and nausea came over Chase as it was followed by her smug pleasure. He breathed through the nausea.
“Hm?” House questioned.
“Talk about something. It will keep a natural emotional variation going.” Chase had his eyes tightly closed as he tried to fend off the attack.
“Did I tell you about the time I ordered Wilson a stripper-gram at the hospital and had her pose as a patient? He got through half the assessment questions before he realized what was going on. I don’t know why he didn’t catch a clue. When he asked her about organ pain, she told him she thought he should palpate some of her organs to check.”
Chase chuckled. House’s amusement was quickly becoming his favorite distraction. His head throbbed and he sighed.
“She was always a bitch, wasn’t she? I was just too stupid to see it.”
House shook his head. “Not stupid. Loyal, generous, kind, and despite all that good enough at what you do and just twisted enough that I actually like working with you.”
They sat in silence a moment. Robert didn’t understand why people accused House of not understanding human emotion. He did just fine. He processed and worked through emotions as methodically as anything else in his mind. He simply had different priorities than most people, and an inability to waste time telling white lies to placate others.
The momentary peace was broken as emotion surged through the bond again. This time it was startling in its strength, and Chase heaved into the toilet, unable to stop the flood of filth in his mind.
“Damnit,” House said in frustration behind him. He was right there though, touching his back under the hem of his t-shirt. At least Cameron wasn’t the only one in his head. At least he could still feel House. Feel something he chose to feel from someone else that wasn’t this oil slick of filth that was seeping through his bond.
Then, just as suddenly, it was gone. Not completely, but fading fast. Indistinct, like the fog left behind from a passing headache. Chase sat back on his heels and panted in exhaustion and relief. He didn’t have enough energy to really process what had happened right now, and all he wanted in that moment was to sleep. He attempted to stand, fumbling and uncoordinated.
“Whoa there, little wombat. Where do you think you’re going?”
“Bed,” was all Robert could manage in response to House’s question.
“Yeah, okay. Here.” House stood as well and turned to stand facing Chase, arms wrapping loosely around his waist so he could guide him backwards to the bedroom.
Chase let his head fall to House’s shoulder and shuffled along with him. He absently listened to the conversation of the other men around him. Eric and Ben had been waiting in the hallway.
“How is he?” Ben asked quietly.
House let out a bitter laugh. “I imagine not too great after that bitch literally fucked her way through his mind, but my guess is he’s too exhausted at this point to really feel anything about it.”
Robert thought he heard Eric growl then speak roughly. “Are you going to stay with him?”
“Please,” Chase croaked out in a hoarse whisper before he even realized what he was doing.
“Not going anywhere,” House grunted.
Robert let out a sigh of relief he hadn’t even known he’d been holding in, and then exhaustion hit him so hard, he would have crumpled to the ground had House not been there to hold him up.
“Okay there, Bobby. Let’s get you to bed.”
Chase registered the soft feel of the mattress under him, and the warm body of House behind him for a moment before he was swept quickly into sleep.
– – – – –
House woke before Chase did, coming to awareness quickly. He couldn’t help but immediately start to plot the demise of one, Allison Cameron, in his head. She was one hell of a sick person. The physical sensations of his surroundings began to register then. Bobby breathing slow and deep in his arms, and their legs tangled together, though the pain in his was starting to grow to the point of needing relief.
He slowly pulled back and untangled himself from around the lithe, blonde man. Chase was probably still recovering from the exhaustion of the previous night, because he did little more than settle further into his pillow. After taking a moment to regret that it would probably be the only time he would get to hold Chase like that, House limped back to his bedroom quietly and found his stash of pills. He downed a couple dry, grabbed his cane and made his way downstairs to where he could smell coffee brewing in the kitchen.
Greg found his long-time friends sitting at the kitchen table, chairs pushed together, leaning into each other as they drank coffee. They had been talking lowly to each other, but stopped when House entered the room. He ignored them for the moment and fixed himself a mug. After taking his first sip, he sighed and spoke.
“Well, I think we can all agree that last night sucked.”
Ben made an amused snort, but Eric’s face morphed into a murderous glare.
“That sentinel has abused that boy for the last time,” Eric said lowly. “Princeton PD found her car and picked her up outside an apartment building this morning. The Center is involved and will make sure she stays in custody at least until the bond is broken, and longer if he wants to press charges.”
“Down boy,” House said, but he couldn’t put much humor behind it considering the circumstances.
Ben spoke calmly. “I think we need to work on helping Robert sever the bond as soon as possible. Then hopefully he can start to heal from this mess.”
“Good.” Greg knew that Ben and Eric could help Chase move past this. Silence fell over the kitchen for a moment.
“We going to talk about your thing now?” Eric broke in.
“Yeah, the fact that you clearly have feelings for him. And on top of that you exposed his cheating sentinel, and took advantage of the situation to drag him away into isolation with you,” Eric said baldly.
House held up his hands in surrender. “Hey, I never said I wasn’t a manipulative bastard out for my own gain, but someone had to get him out of that situation. As for my thing, I doubt he’s going to want a relationship with anyone, much less me, after this mess. He’s young and hot. He’ll probably go home and sleep his way through the entire nursing staff at the hospital until he feels better.”
“Relationship, Greg? I’d almost say you’re getting sentimental,” Eric smirked at him.
“Go fuck yourself, sentinel.”
“Ben took care of that already,” Eric said without missing a beat.
House sputtered on his mouthful of coffee. Chase walked in at that moment, looking like he’d grabbed a quick shower and change of clothes.
“I didn’t expect you to be such a prude, House.” Chase patted him on the back in a mock effort to help as he coughed.
He finally regained his voice. “Come on, Bobby. I thought you were on my side.”
Greg couldn’t regret the small smile that graced Chase’s features at his playful whine. Chase grabbed a coffee for himself and sat at the kitchen table.
“You feeling up to any breakfast?” Eric asked.
Chase sighed, suddenly looking more tired and defeated that he had just seconds before. “Not really.”
No one pushed, but Eric stood and started pulling out bread and butter for toast. Ben focused his attention on Chase and plowed through the awkward silence that had descended.
“If you’re up for it, Robert, I think we should start the process of severing the bond as soon as possible.”
The emotionless tone of his voice was disconcerting for Greg to hear. Ben glanced over at him and they shared a speaking look that let him know Ben understood the emotional turmoil lurking just under the surface of the man sitting across the table. Chase still had a long road to go.
House couldn’t even imagine the depth of betrayal he was experiencing, having been treated in such a way by the one person that was supposed to be his perfect match and partner in life. It was moments like these that he was glad not to be a sentinel or guide. Sometimes biology really fucked a person over.
They were all distracted with the task of eating for a short time when Eric brought a platter of toast to the table. Greg noticed that Chase even managed half a slice. As they were finishing up, Chase seemed to pull himself together as if bracing for a storm.
“So what do I need to do to sever the bond?”
“You’ll actually close it off mentally through a series of mediations. Once you start the process yourself, it usually completes with relative ease on its own. It’s sort of like you’re tipping the first domino and the rest will fall under the pressure,” Ben replied.
Chase furrowed his brow in thought. “And you’ve done this before? Facilitated the severing of a bond, I mean?”
“Yes, several times. Eric and I have come to have a reputation for being able to help those of our kind who might not get the best care from a Center for one reason or another.”
“How does that work?” Chase looked skeptical. “I mean, I know House wouldn’t tolerate you if you were some quacks, but why are you working outside the system?”
Eric answered this time. “We are alphas, but we have our own style. We aren’t into playing politics with other prides, so we ended up settling up here in a smaller community. We’ve had a small pride come together here, and we liaise with the S&G Center in Albany when necessary. Just because we all have a biological protect-the-tribe imperative, doesn’t mean we all agree on how that should be accomplished.”
Greg watched Chase quietly process all that for a moment.
Ben interrupted his thoughts. “Would you like to start now? It really doesn’t do you any good to put it off.”
Chase closed his eyes for a few seconds, and when he opened them, he looked resigned but accepting.
“Let’s do it.”