By the time Chase finally emerged from behind the aforementioned stage door, House and Wilson had abandoned their seeded booth in favour of the bar, which, though hardly less sullied, allowed them prime, front-row seats of the moment Chase stepped out into the basement room, looking nothing like the effeminately whorish dancer they’d lusted so heartily over a mere half-hour before.
It was Wilson who first spotted the young doctor as he slipped inconspicuously up to the bar and signalled towards the barman for a shot of alcohol and a sizeable looking envelope neither had the discretion to properly conceal. Wilson watched as Chase flashed the portly barman a sultry grin that still showed signs of the exuberance he’d displayed upon stage before chucking back his shot with nary a grimace.
Wilson’s eyes took in what they could of Chase, noting that instead of the riding boots and short-shorts, Chase now sported a pair of faded black jeans and a plain, loose-fitting shirt. The smear of makeup was gone from his face and his hair fell with slightly dampened ends across his cheeks, stroking at cheekbones that Wilson knew he’d soon have the pleasure of watching light up in a stain of mortification.
The thought gave Wilson a giddy jolt of pleasure; the reservations he’d had earlier that evening had all but faded to the back of his mind as he watched Chase a moment longer before nudging House’s attention away from the current stage show and over towards the Australian. House shot him a quick grin, slipping off his barstool the same moment Chase bid his farewells to the barman and proceeded to make his exit.
Wilson watched with bated breath as Chase moved along the bar, unmindful of his immediate surroundings as he stepped past House and Wilson without so much as a blink of his pretty eyelashes. Wilson knew that Chase would have remained forever ignorant of their attendance to The Shala had it not been for the hand that shot suddenly out to grab at him as he passed; long fingers wrapping around Chase’s forearm and tugging him to a stop that was jerking enough to gain the muttering attentions of a few patrons.
“Hello, Robert,” House purred and Wilson felt a delightful shiver creep up his spine at the use of the young doctor’s first name, watching with barely disguised fascination as Chase’s face went from an indignantly angry red to a sickening shade of white within seconds of his eyes setting upon House’s distinct features.
Wilson shifted in his seat, catching Chase’s eye with the movement and seeing the exact moment his panic set in and the breath refused to come to him.
“Breathe, Chase,” Wilson urged him, reaching out to touch at Chase’s lower back in an almost comforting caress as he got to his feet. At the touch Chase found himself gasping out an expletive and pulling violently away from both House and Wilson.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Chase demanded breathlessly, his eyes shooting between House and Wilson with such absolute disbelief that Wilson found the whole situation all rather endearing for the moment until the three of them were accosted by a rather burly-looking man who planted himself quite squarely beside Chase.
“Any trouble?” Asked the burly man with folded arms and a glare towards House and Wilson, his balding head shining comically with the light of the club.
“No trouble.” House flashed the bodyguard one of his brightest smile as he chirped out his reply and Wilson found himself having to hide his amusement behind his hand.
Bristling at the response, the burly man shot House a soured look before turning to Chase who now appeared a most unattractive mix of blush-red and ashen-white. They watched as Chase ran his eyes over a grinning House and a smiling Wilson before shaking his head slowly, swallowing heavily in an endeavour to find his voice.
“No,” Chase managed to croak out, clearing his throat as he pulled his eyes away to look at the man beside him. “No trouble, thanks.”
The burly man gave Chase what may have passed for a look of scrutiny, but was probably just the result of a twitch, before moving away and disappearing back into the dark corner from whence he came. Chase watched after him with a certain apprehension shining in his eyes, one that bespoke his immediate regret of sending off perhaps his only hope of getting out of this situation intact,
Turning back to House and Wilson, Chase’s fears were unalleviated as he came face to face with House’s sinister smile.
“Fancy meeting you here,” House said, still grinning and Chase clenching his jaw tight, his fingers flexing fists at his sides.
“What are you doing here?” Chase demanded once more, appealing to Wilson in the hopes of receiving a fairly honest reply.
“We were in the neighbourhood,” began House with another grin, one that had Chase glaring at him with a ferocity that sobered even Wilson’s good humour. House remained unperturbed however, merely cocking his head in response and slanting his gaze over towards Wilson.
“Anyone would think he wasn’t pleased to see us, Wilson.” House pouted a little and Chase’s glare intensified.
“What do you want?” Chase asked, lifting his head a little in some perceived attempt at defiance. Wilson smiled.
“What do we want, hmm?” Asked House rhetorically; eyeing Chase with amusement as he pressed a finger to his lips, pretending to think though all the while he watched the flash of emotions warring for dominance over Chase’s features.
“Don’t tease, House.” Wilson admonished, turning Chase’s attention upon him for the moment. Wilson smiled a little shyly and had the pleasure of seeing Chase’s glare lessen as a result, knowing that of the both of them, Chase felt he could place his trust in Wilson to control the inevitable consequences of such a chance meeting.
“We really were in the neighbourhood,” Wilson began, omitting for the moment to mention that it was because of Chase’s erotic dancing that they were in the neighbourhood at all.
“You know what House is like when he gets an idea into his head,” Wilson said, appealing to Chase with a long-suffering sigh.
Wilson’s apologetic tone and helpless shrug as he continued his narration saw Chase relaxing just ever so slightly, his eyes flickering over House’s smug expression with vague dismissal as he contemplated the possibility that House and Wilson really had just happened to stumble into The Shala of all places.
“We were just getting drinks,” Wilson added, speaking as if the two of them had only just arrived. “Would you care to join us?”
Chase was speechless for a long time before shaking his head with the beginnings of a hesitant smile; his inner turmoil receding a little at the implication in Wilson’s words.
“I- no, no thanks.” Chase managed to get out. “I’m sorry, I was just a bit surprised to see you guys here. Not really the type of place you want to be recognised in.” He laughed nervously, running a quick hand through his hair and Wilson smiled in understanding.
“No, I don’t suppose it is.” Wilson agreed, turning to House and laying a hand ever so casually upon the older man’s shoulder. “House, why don’t you tell Chase just why on earth you picked this club of all places? You’d think for my first experience of this type of thing he’d have taken me to a classier place.” Wilson addressed this last part to Chase who still seemed a little unsure of the situation.
“Oh, Wilson,” House shot him an exaggerated eye-roll, “the venue aside I just had to come and see just how erotic Chase’s dancing really was.”
“Who knew you had it in you, Chase?” Wilson said as Chase blanched, his eyes falling closed in a bid to block out the very sight of them.
“Go to hell!” Chase finally seethed, taking a step backwards as if he had every intention of leaving.
“Okay,” House said amiably enough. “But how about that drink first?”
“A drink?” Chase scoffed. “I’d sooner drown myself.”
“That’s rather hostile, don’t you think?” House mused, cocking his head to the side. “Animosity is unbecoming of a person in your profession.”
“What do you want, House?” Chase demanded again. “Because I know you don’t just want a drink. You want to humiliate me? Fine. Go ahead. Why else would you have come here? I doubt it was to enjoy my dancing, though who knows, maybe you get off on that kind of thing.”
House was unfazed. “If I meant to humiliate you, Chase, I assure you it’ll be much better achieved at work tomorrow.”
They had the pleasure of watching Chase pale yet again, his whole body freezing up at the implications of House’s words. When Wilson reached out to touch his arm, Chase didn’t so much as flinch as wrench himself away from the touch, his gaze when he turned it upon the oncologist was strangely shuttered.
“Are you blackmailing me?” Chase managed to choke out, his voice hoarse.
“Blackmail? Hardly, Chase.” House waved the word away as if it were meaningless. “All we’re asking for is a drink.”
Chase stood as if weighing his options, though they all knew he hadn’t any options to weigh, not realistically speaking. It was either stay here and have a drink with House and Wilson, or leave and have them bring it up at work tomorrow. His reputation would be shot dead if such rumours were to get around the hospital, worse yet if someone could actually prove them to be true. Then his medical career would be over.
“It’s your reputations on the line too if this gets out,” Chase tried, as if their mere presence in The Shala held just as much weight as his being a dancer in the club. The attempt was desperate and futile and gained a rather sinister look from House and an amused little smile from Wilson, though the latter was kind enough to nod his head in acknowledgement of his words.
“Be that as it may,” Wilson said softly, “You still don’t have much of a choice.”
Chase gave Wilson a hard look. “Why should I believe you won’t use this against me tomorrow anyway? Just because you say you won’t? I don’t know about you, Wilson, but House?” He turned his attention to House, “I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.”
“It is a good thing then,” Wilson replied, laying a hand once more upon House’s shoulder and pressing up against his side in a way that caused Chase’s eyes to widen comically, “that you cannot throw him very far.”
Chase swallowed back the bitter-bile taste that crept up his throat, souring his stomach and mouth as he allowed his shoulders to slump in defeat.
“Cheer up, Chase,” Wilson reached out to stroke a finger down Chase’s cheek in a slow swipe. “I’ll make sure House’s tongue is otherwise occupied tomorrow; your reputation is safe, for now.”
The significant smirk Wilson shot Chase was enough to still his breath and leave the young doctor wondering if House had been the instigator of this little rendezvous after all. Chase was silent, turning his eyes elsewhere but taking in nothing of his surroundings as he inwardly cursed himself, and House, and Wilson too, for finding out, for daring to use this against him. What did they know about it?
“Just one drink?” Chase asked eventually with a defeated sigh. The almost identical smirks he received in response were enough to keep him on his guard.
- - -