Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
They turned, and Cameron gasped softly. Chase calmly limped in, leaning heavily on a crutch, his right foot and lower leg in a walking cast, a brace on his left knee. His right arm was in a swing.
"Chase, what happened?"
"Forgot the safe word?"
Chase paled at that suggestion, but forced himself to ignore it. "I was in an accident."
House was about to push when Cameron interrupted. "I'm so sorry, Chase." Her eyes were wide with shock and empathy as she hurried over to hug him. Chase saw her coming and tried to prepare himself for the uninvited contact, but he couldn't help but flinch as her arms started to circle around him.
She jumped back. "Did I hurt you? I didn't mean to–"
"No– I'm fine." He tried to placate her, pulling back half a step.
"I'm so sorry–"
"Not everything is about you Cameron." Cameron turned on House at his accusing tone. "You squeeze his broken ribs and you're t ready to cry. Go find some one else to hug for a while." When she shot a glare his direction he made shooing motions with his hands, unfazed. Tight-lipped she turned to leave, pausing a moment to gently touch Chase's arm. Then she was gone. There was a moment of silence. "You flinched before she touched you."
It was an accusation. "No, I didn't."
"Uh yeah, you did."
Chase closed his eyes as though praying for patience, and then sighed as if the conversation was pointless. "No, I didn't. Do we have a case?"
House decided to let the matter drop. For now. There would be time enough to get to the bottom of things, so he stored away the incident for further use.
The blond sighed again, awkwardly turning to face the concerned fury. Cuddy stood in the doorway, an expression of painful concern and impatient tolerance on her face.
"Dr. Cuddy. Nice to see you again."
She pinned him with her eyes. "Why are you walking? Didn't you see the…"
"The nurse with the wheelchair?" Chase answered.
"Didn't she meet you at the elevator?"
"Yeah, she did, but I told her I didn't need it."
Cuddy stared, then shook her head. "Dr. Chase…"
"No you're not!" Her tone was soft but insistent. "Look, I'm glad you feel ready to come back to work, but I would feel better if you gave your ankle more time to heal so that it's set before you start walking on it."
His eyes squinted at her, brows pulling together. "Dr. Cuddy– no offense, but don't we make our patients, even if they've just had a knee replacement, get up and walk after just two days?"
"Yes we do." She nodded. "But I know you, Dr. Chase. You push yourself. Therefore, if you're here, you're in the wheelchair."
Chase looked at her in exasperation. "I'm not paralyzed."
"No," she agreed. "You're injured."
"Exactly. Injured. Meaning I'm not handicapped and this isn't permanent; meaning I'm healing and capable of moving around by myself."
"You have the terms." Her tone was still gentle, but there was a firmness to her eyes and voice that brooked no argument. "The wheelchair here at the hospital, for a week, or nothing."
He tipped his head. "Fine." He conceded. "But no more nurses waiting for me. I'll move to the chair when I get to diagnostics." He indicated the room.
Cuddy nodded, relaxing. "Deal." She offered him a smile, then looked over his shoulder at House. "Go easy on him." She warned.
House smiled. "Don't I always?"
"So what happened?"
Foreman nodded, seeming to accept Chase's explanation. "You weren't treated here?"
"Princeton Gen was closer."
"You could have transferred." Foreman was suspicious that there was more to this 'accident' than Chase let on. His injuries didn't seem consistent with a car accident.
"Yeah." Chase had had this conversation about ten times already with his co-workers. He was grateful that Eloise had made him practice his explanations before hand, so he was comfortable with his story. "There didn't seem to be much point. And with House… " He let it trail off; House didn't need an explanation.
Foreman nodded to show he understood. Just then his pager went off. Checking it he rolled his eyes, then excused himself and left.
"What do you want?" Foreman asked House in a nearby hallway.
"What did he say?"
"Same thing he told you. Accident."
"Why didn't he transfer? This place is better than Princeton Gen."
"Said there wasn't much point. And you."
House frowned. "Not much point? How does his story sound?"
Foreman looked at him in puzzlement. "What do you mean?"
"It sounds rehearsed. He's not lying, but he's not telling us the truth. Go keep digging."
"No way." Foreman raised his hand. "Look, I agree something's not quite right with Chase's story, but he doesn't want to tell us right now. And I'll respect that. I'm not going to–"
"House!" Cuddy cut Foreman off as she came into the hallway. "Why aren't you in the clinic?"
"We made a deal, remember?" House said smugly. "Three weeks. I still have two of them left."
"On the condition that you left Chase alone." Cuddy replied. "You went to his apartment. You get clinic."
As she walked away House sighed, staring after her with a frown. "Foreman, we have a spy amongst us, leaving behind pink envelopes, stockings, and tattling our business to our superiors."
"So I've been really sick to my stomach lately. I think I had some food poisoning from my trip to Japan last week. But my stomach really hurts. Nothing I've taken helps." The patient explained. "And then I got this weird rash."
House examined the offered arm. Another boring patient in another long session of clinic duty. But the rash wasn't boring. It was weird. House reached for his pager.
"Good news. You caught my attention." House sent a message to his ducklings that they had a new case.
He was more than a little startled when a beeping responded. He checked; his pager was fine. He sent a blank message out. Again the beeping. Coming from the sink. He walked up to the sink and sent out another blank message. Under the sink. He turned to his patient.
"Do you mind?"
He motioned for the patient to check under the sink. Giving him an odd look the patient grudgingly did so and retrieved a rather dusty looking pager.
Frowning, House accepted the pager. "Thanks."
House stalked out of the room, checking the pager over. It was Chase's, with forty-seven unread messages. The earliest message was from a week ago. What happened a week ago? He tried to think about the last time he saw Chase; Healthy Chase, not Accident Chase. He had been coming out of the clinic– House went to the nurse on duty, and he smiled his most sincere smile, hoping to appear innocent; the nurse looked at him suspiciously.
"I need to see the sign in sheet from a week ago."
Looking through the records she handed the sheet to him, still looking suspicious.
There, Chase had signed in Thursday morning at eleven twenty-five, and signed out… House frowned. At eleven thirty-five. House had signed in about ten minutes later. Chase hadn't signed back in that day, or on Friday. Maybe at ICU. House took the sheet as evidence and hobbled off to continue his investigations.
"So what do you think happened to Chase?" Foreman asked Cameron as they headed back to the office from the cafeteria.
"He said he was in an accident."
"Do you really believe that?"
She glanced at him. "Why would he lie?"
Foreman shook his head. "I don't think he's lying, I'm thinking he's not telling the truth."
Cameron glanced at him again with a partial frown. "Isn't that the same thing?" she asked. "What do you think happened?"
Foreman shrugged, but couldn't answer as they entered the conference room where Chase was waiting.
"Tom!" Eloise was sitting in the cafe across the street from PPTH when the assistant detective who'd been in charge of Chase's case called. "How are you?"
"I'm fine. But I'm afraid I've got some bad news."
She looked up, setting down her coffee. "What is it?"
"It's about the case."
"I thought you caught the guy who did this, and he admitted to everything."
"Yeah, well. He admitted to everything because he thought the victim was dead."
"The 'victim's' name is Dr. Robert Chase."
"Sorry." She closed her eyes for a moment. "What happened?"
"He found out Dr. Chase is alive. He changed his plea."
"But I thought– didn't he admit to killing other people? He'll go to jail. Right?"
"His lawyers got his admission thrown out, so it can't be used as evidence. Changed his plea with all the other murders too. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of physical evidence left to tie him to the murders. A lot of circumstantial though, so we can build a pretty strong case. But I'm no longer in charge, they gave it to that detective that had been called in the first time. Detective Tritter. He's always real determined when it comes to cases and finding evidence; and I am still working on the case, just under him. We're confident, but this… It'll end up in court. Just warning you. And Tritter is going to want to talk to Dr. Chase. He'll probably have to testify."
She pressed her fingers to her eyes. "Thanks for the heads up."
"There's something else."
"You know the bodies we found?"
"Yeah." She remembered that Edward had given the detectives the location of twelve of his other victims. Apparently he'd had the same fixation on these other guys that he'd had with Chase– in his head, deciding to be a father to them, making them his son– until they screwed up and disappointed him somehow. Like Chase; going out with the 'wrong kind of girl.'
"One of them… Michael was there."
Her eyes shot open. "What?"
Eloise was stunned. She hadn't heard from Michael Steward since the party, and then she'd left the hospital. She had no idea he was even missing.
"Elly?" Tom was still on the line.
"Yeah… thanks, Tom." She hung up the phone.