Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
There's a hand, and it's touching me. It's touching me. He's touching me, and I can't get away…
Cameron frowned when Chase seemed to shrink under her touch. "Chase?" She gently shook his shoulder, his good shoulder. "C'mon, wake up."
"Excuse me." Cameron looked up. A small, young brunette was standing in the doorway; she had a face that reminded Cameron of a pixie. "Dr. Peney." She stuck out her hand. Cameron reluctantly took it, mumbling her own introduction. So this was the woman Chase had gone to that convention with.
Eloise sat down next to Chase's bed. She gently nudged his hand until he took it; he still appeared to be asleep. "Would you mind telling me what happened?" She looked up expectantly at Cameron.
Cameron blinked in surprise at Dr. Peney's intrusion. Chase couldn't be seeing someone else, could he? "I think Dr. House would–"
"Eloise?" A weak voice came from the bed.
Eloise turned her attention to Chase. "Hey," she smiled at him gently. "You scare me like that again, I won't let you come to work for another week." She mock scolded. "What happened, Robert?"
"You have a relationship with the patient?" Cameron asked, to remind them that she was still in the room. She didn't like how tenderly Eloise looked at Chase, or how trustingly Chase looked back, even through half-open eyes. How come he didn't look at her like that?
"I'm a friend, Dr. Cameron." Eloise answered, turning back to her. "I've been helping Chase since his… accident, and I was informed about the incident this afternoon, though I was not given any details."
Cameron frowned; why would Chase let this woman– this stranger– help him out, and not his friends and co-workers? Why wouldn't he open up to her? She'd asked him several times what had happened, always getting the same non-answer. She'd been forthcoming with hugs and the 'touchy-feely' stuff that she was famous for, which usually worked with patients, but he wasn't responding. In fact he seemed to shrink away from her.
"When will I be able to get out of here?"
Cameron put her hand reassuringly on his good shoulder again. "You'll be able to sign out in another hour or so. House is insisting on keeping you under observation, to make sure you didn't hurt anything with your fall. And we gave you some pretty strong painkillers, so we want to make sure you–"
"What are you doing here?" Everyone turned. House stood in the doorway.
"I–" Eloise started.
"Not you." House waved his hand dismissively at Eloise, and pointed at Cameron. "You, don't you have work to do? Tests to run? People to hug? Get out of here."
Cameron opened her mouth in shock, but left. House turned to Eloise, his eyes narrowed as he shook a finger at her. "I should have known you were involved. You pulled the garter belt trick on me when you were going out with that guy… what was his name? Thomas?"
"Ew. Thomas?" Eloise raised her shoulders in a mock shudder, wrinkling her nose. "I never went out with him, you're thinking of Matt."
"Right. You couldn't come up with something more original?"
She shrugged, smiling sweetly. "It works so well, there didn't seem to be much point."
"You did the lobbyist thing too, and you were the one that answered the phone."
Eloise nodded affirmatively. Chase smiled; it was like watching a father-daughter moment the way they were so familiar with each other.
House sat down in a swivel chair and leaned back. "So you know what happened to Chase?"
Chase's hand tightened on hers, his smile disappearing. Eloise squeezed back reassuringly.
"I know what you know."
"But you also know more than I do."
"It's been that way since I was a teenager and knew everything." Eloise joked.
House suddenly frowned, staring at her outfit; she'd obviously not just come from her job at the hospital. "Don't you have work?"
"You quit? Why on earth would you do that?" House frowned again, more darkly this time. "It's because of Steward, isn't it? Because of what happened at that stupid convention. Was he giving you a hard time about it? Because I'd be happy to go over there and–"
"Yes, it was about Steward." She glanced down at Chase who was looking tired again. She squeezed his hand and got up. "Why don't you buy me lunch and we'll talk about it."
Detective Tritter was not happy to be back at this hospital again. And he was not happy to be dealing with that Aussie doctor again. The Aussie doctor was too close to House, which meant that as long as he– Tritter– was on the case, he would be close to House, and that was potentially bad for both of their health's. He walked through the sliding glass doors.
"Detective Tritter?" Cuddy approached him in the lobby. She looked about as happy to see him as he was to see her. "How can I help you?"
"I'm here to talk to Dr. Chase."
She blinked. "Dr. Chase? Listen, if this is about House, the judge already ordered–"
"This is not about House at all." Tritter informed her. "In fact I plan to avoid House and his employees as much as possible. Unfortunately this case directly involves Dr. Chase."
Cuddy frowned. "What sort of case? Dr. Chase hasn't done anything wrong."
"No he hasn't, but–"
"Well if it isn't our very own friendly neighborhood, grudge-carrying cop." House called out as he sauntered over. Eloise, seeing the detective, hurried back to Chase's room; he deserved some warning. "Did another doctor insult you?"
Turning to greet his nemesis, Tritter folded his hands together and nodded. "Dr. House. This does not involve you, and I would appreciate it if we avoided each other while I work this case."
"Well, that may be difficult since I just love your company so much."
"Interfering with a criminal investigation, obstruction of justice… I would still love to see you behind bars, so give me a reason." Tritter's voice was dangerous.
"You actually need a REAL reason? How about the fact I'm criminally brilliant? Criminally beautiful? Criminally charming and witty? Too bad drug use is off the table, you cured it." House waggled his eyebrows and popped a pill.
Tritter clenched his fists and tried to remind himself why murder was not considered an appropriate course of action when dealing with people like House.
Cuddy saw that this was close to becoming a very bad situation and quickly interfered. "I'll take you to Chase's room."
"He's with a patient?" Tritter asked incredulously. He hadn't thought Chase would be able to work with people for a while after what he'd been through.
"No, he is a patient. What do you want with the Aussie?" House asked suspiciously.
"A patient?" Tritter glanced between House and Cuddy. "I understood that he had been released a week ago, and that he'd been treated at Princeton Gen."
Cuddy smiled diplomatically, while glaring at House. "Yes, he'd just returned to work. There was a minor complication."
Did this minor complication have a cane? Tritter wondered. He was also starting to wonder if Chase had been forthcoming with the details of his ordeal with his employers.
"I'm so sorry, Robert." Eloise said, biting her lip.
Chase stared out to the far wall. It seemed that Edward was not yet done hurting him.
"I think House went to bug Detective Tritter, but he'll be here soon." Her look was gentle. "Are you ready?"
What sort of question is that? Of course I'm not ready. He swallowed thickly. "Yeah."
She helped him sit up and got him into a pair of scrubs, so he wouldn't have to face Tritter in the flimsy, paper patient gown. It was none-too soon.
"Good afternoon, Dr. Chase."
"Detective Tritter." Chase said glumly. He had always gotten a bad vibe from Tritter, especially after the detective had tried to turn the rest of the team– and House– against him– and threatened him– during the whole House/Tritter fiasco.
Tritter looked questioningly at Eloise, who promptly introduced herself. "Eloise Peney. I'm a friend." She said, smiling sweetly at him with an extended hand.
"Pleasure, Miss Peney." Tritter shook her hand, then turned to Chase. "I'm going to need a statement from you, and a description of the event in your own words. Edward Manning is now trying to–"
"I've been made aware of the steps Mr. Manning is taking to defend himself in court." Chase interrupted, keeping his face a mask.
"Yes, well." Tritter stared pointedly at Eloise, hoping she'd get the hint and leave.
"Dr. Peney will be staying." Chase stated firmly. He grabbed her hand, and leveled the detective with a daring gaze.
Tritter sighed and nodded. As long as House wasn't in the room he was happy.
"How's it going, Sherlock?"
Speaking of the devil himself… Tritter cursed to himself. "Dr. House…" Tritter warned.
"I want to listen to story time too." House's words were light, but his eyes were serious.
Chase closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. "Let him stay." He said. Tritter glared, but when Chase opened his eyes they were decisively firm. "I only want to go through this once. Might as well get it over with."
House looked triumphant; Tritter looked borderline suicidal. Chase continued. "There are ground rules." He pointed at House. "Absolutely no, and I mean no, comments, gestures, faces, or noises."
"Can I breathe?" House asked sarcastically.
"Only when necessary, and then without any noise." The serious banter felt good. "You can sit in that chair." Chase pointed at the chair in the corner farthest away from him. "And you are not allowed to get up unless it means you are leaving. When I'm done, you will leave. I don't want to talk about it at all afterwards."
House didn't look happy with all these ground rules and was about to protest them.
"If you break these rules, I won't say anything, to anyone, anymore."
House realized he was completely serious, and that realization seemed to switch something inside of him. He stared levelly at the young blond doctor. "Okay."
House sighed. "Yes, Chase. I pinky promise with a cherry on top. Story?" He sat down in his designated chair.
Eloise squeezed Chase's hand once again. And he started his story.