Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
One thing about living with Eloise, Chase noticed, was that she brought a lot of sound with her. It wasn't a bad thing; in fact he rather liked it. She was constantly singing, humming, or whistling some tune or another. Good songs, though he didn't know half of them. And she wasn't loud either. She just filled up what used to be unbroken silence in his apartment.
She made him laugh a lot more than he ever had, too. Strange to think that after what happened he would ever be able to laugh again. But Eloise somehow managed to bring it out. She just said the right thing at the right time, had the strangest way of thinking, and she always seemed to be up to something. Always had that look of a young girl who had a secret she was dying to share.
That week living with her had also been one of the hardest in his life since his mother died. Sleep had not been his friend. Sleeping with the covers on reminded him of the smothering dirt, and sleeping without the covers left him cold and with memories of lying beaten and bleeding to death in that closet. It had taken a few days before they had been able to come up with a solution to that problem.
He stirred in his sleep, and the arm around his shoulders tightened comfortingly. The sharing of body heat. His head was cushioned on her stomach; she'd fallen asleep reading a book. He nuzzled back in; it was nice to be able to sleep with someone and not have anything expected of him. It reminded him of when he was young and used to have nightmares. His mother would sit with him, reading, until they both fell asleep.
This arrangement helped him to go to sleep, but it didn't stop the nightmares. He may have escaped physically, but Edward still held him captive in his dreams. Several times a night he would awaken in Eloise's arms, crying or ready to fight. He knew that he had flailed around in his dreams, trying to fight off his demons, and though Eloise denied it he'd probably gotten her once or twice.
And to add to his problems, there were the triggers. Things that could send him back to that place. Many of them were weird; smells were the worst. Dirt and alcohol were the strongest. Broken glass was bad too. Being touched from behind. Eloise had made that mistake once. He'd been reading and she touched him on his shoulder to get his attention.
Since then Eloise made him initiate contact. She would make an invitation, maybe lean in a little closer, hold her hand a little towards him. Signs subtle enough he could ignore them if he wanted to and obvious enough for him to understand her intention. If he ignored them, she let it go, as if it had never happened. It was nice not to have anything expected of him.
Eloise came out of the bathroom, putting her hair into a ponytail. "You're going to work tomorrow." She said.
He looked up at her. "Yeah."
Are you ready for it? She asked with her eyes. "What do you want for breakfast?"
"Chase is coming back tomorrow."
Wilson looked at House in surprise. They were enjoying their Sunday off by watching the game at House's house, as usual. Wilson hadn't expected House to remember Chase, or bring him up for that matter.
House looked insulted. "Why do you give me that look? Do you think I don't keep track of my employees? Particularly wayward ones?"
His friend shrugged. "No, it's just that… It's weird that you would bring it up, that's all."
"He's been on some sort of rehabilitating vacation. With a girl." House replied. Then he grinned maniacally. "I can't wait for him to get back so I can torture him about it."
Wilson blinked, his interest in the game wavering. "How'd you know he's with a girl?"
"His lobbyist called him. Woman answered."
"At his apartment. Would you believe that Chase gave him a picture of me with instructions not to let me in? Man knows me too well."
Wilson nodded. Then his brows drew together in thought; actually, that was a good idea. He briefly wondered how much he would have to pay the lobbyists in his hotel to do that. "Why were you at his… Never mind. Forgot who I was talking too."
"I was worried."
"Right." Wilson's expression was disbelieving.
"It doesn't feel right." House insisted.
"You don't believe me?"
House sighed in frustrated defeat. "Fine. I was curious. About a lot of things… And now I'm even more curious. And I need to think of a way to get the Brit back for turning people I haven't even met against me. I mean, an actual picture of me? Come on! Now," His attitude suddenly entirely different, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of panty hose he'd found in Wilson's desk, with a letter like the one he'd found at the beginning of the week. His eyes sparkled devilishly. "To whom do these belong to?"
Eloise sat at the table, finishing her supper of meatloaf, broccoli, and garlic bread. "So I'll come pick you up at one tomorrow." She said.
Chase nodded, done with his own food. He was sitting in his wheelchair, but he didn't need it anymore. As of today he was now in a walking cast and on a crutch. So far it had been all right, but walking hurt and burned like nothing else, and yet he had been ordered by Dr. Travis to start moving so that his muscles didn't stiffen. As a doctor himself he knew she was right, but using the crutch made him feel just how weakened and handicapped he was. That made him frustrated.
He was eager to get back to work, but nervous too. What was he going to tell people? Cameron especially. And House. Oh crap… House was going to be a pain. He suddenly didn't want to go back to work; at least not alone. Eloise was so good with House. He rolled the wheels of his chair, back and forth, back and forth… "How can you deal with House so well?"
"I grew up with him. He and my dad were friends." Eloise replied. Chase looked at her in surprise. "Alright, they were co workers, but decent to each other. I pretty much grew up at the hospital. Mom wasn't around, and I took a liking to House. Followed him around everywhere. He ended up more protective over me than my father. He nearly killed my prom date." She smiled at that memory.
Chase smiled at the image too. Very House-like.
"If I wanted a social life I had to learn how to distract him."
"What am I going to tell them?"
Eloise leaned back in her chair. "What are you comfortable telling them?"
"I'm not comfortable telling them anything."
"Then don't. But don't lie." She warned. "That's the worst thing you can do, House'll catch onto that immediately. Just don't tell them the whole truth, until you are ready. But… It would be good if you talked to somebody." Her voice grew quiet. "It's too hard to deal with this on your own."
He looked down at his lap, then back up at her, his face a mask. "I'm not dealing with it on my own."
"I don't count. You barely know me."
"Yeah, I do. But if you are going to have a long term relationship with someone, they need to understand, too."
"Do you love Dr. Cameron?"
He blinked. "I don't know… yes."
"Then you need to let her in. She can help you more than I ever could."
He stared at her for a moment. "I'm afraid."
Her look was compassionate. "From what I understand Cameron is very good with feelings and that sort of stuff."
Chase looked away. "She loves broken people."
"Yes, I am. And I'm afraid she'll like me. Just because of what happened."
"If you love her, you need to trust her, trust her to love you because of who you are. What happened to you isn't you. It doesn't say anything about you. But… Just…" She sighed. "Talk to her when you are ready."
Chase nodded. Talk when he's ready; he wondered if he'd ever be.
"I thought I told you to keep away from the coffee maker." House scolded as he limped into the room, staring at Cameron.
She turned and blinked. "I'm sorry. Chase usually does it, but–"
"But since he's not here you thought you'd take over coffee duties?" House asked incredulously.
"I'm here." The soft Australian accent broke in.