Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
"What's with House?" Foreman frowned, patient file forgotten in the wake of their bosses stormy entrance and departure.
"I don't know," Cameron looked back at the office. The shades were down. "He's been in there since Chase and that… Dr. Peney left."
House caught the tennis ball again and bounced it off the wall. Toss, bounce, catch; toss, bounce, catch. He thought back to what Eloise had said: "You're not going to run away from this. This isn't… this can't be like Jamie."
Toss, bounce, catch; toss, bounce, catch. He hadn't thought about Jamie, really thought about Jamie, for years now. It had been fifteen years since the actual event, but it still hurt.
Toss, bounce, catch; toss, bounce, catch.
He and Jamie had been off and on. Eloise had approved of Jamie, and House suspected that the then fourteen-year-old girl had meddled in the relationship; it didn't help that Jamie worked across the street from the hospital.
He and Jamie had gotten in a fight, again, and she decided to walk home from work. It was late at night…
House threw the ball at the door, and the person who had dared disturb his thoughts by knocking retreated, but was back seconds later. Cameron stuck her head in, ready to duck any other possible projectiles.
"House, are you alright?"
House raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Aren't I always?" he quipped. "Oh wait– you think this has something to do with Chase."
She stepped in, hands in her pockets. "You're in here sulking, and Chase went home."
"Why didn't you follow him? I know the broken nose look is not exactly–"
"He's with Dr. Peney." She hid it well, but he saw the look of jealousy and hurt that flickered through her eyes.
"So…" House pretended to look perplexed. "That answers my question how? You should be firmly attached to his bedside, listening to his problems, sharing feelings. You know, that stuff you do." He waved his hand dismissively.
Cameron lifted her shoulders. "He doesn't want to talk to me."
"That's all it takes to get you to leave someone alone? I don't want to talk to you."
She did one of those tolerant, slow blinks that was not quite an eye roll. "House."
House frowned. "Why does that only work for him?"
She stepped closer. "I'm… we're worried about you."
He blinked. "There's more than one of you?"
House leaned back in his chair and peered out the door. "Yo, Foreman!"
They could hear Foreman grumbling as he stood up and came to the doorway. "What House?" he asked.
"Yeah, he really seems beside himself with worry." House shot sarcastically at Cameron.
Foreman rolled his eyes. "I'll be leaving. I'm swinging by Chase's place." He looked at Cameron. "Want to come with?"
She shook her head, dropping her gaze as she quickly left the room.
"Why are you going to Chase's place?" House stood up, grabbing his jacket. "I thought you didn't like him."
"I figure after what he's been through, it'd be good for him to have someone who knows him, you know– a friend, around."
"You don't know what he's been–"
Foreman held up a hand to stop him, "I've got a good idea. I've got friends in Princeton General, heard Tritter was here for Chase. And seeing how Chase acted today, I think I can put two and two together."
"I thought you said you didn't want to know what happened to Chase, and you weren't going to dig into his private life."
"Because people always mean what they say." Foreman retorted with a touch of irony in his tone. "Besides, I wasn't digging, I was listening. Heck of a lot better than making him rip out his stitches– Why are you grabbing your bag?"
House looked at Foreman incredulously. "I thought you just said you could put two and two together. Why do you think I'm grabbing my bag?" He pointed to the door. "Lets go."
The car ride was silent, each person lost in their own thoughts.
House knew he shouldn't have let her walk home by herself. He got the call in the middle of the night: Jamie had been admitted to the ER. She'd been assaulted.
He broke several laws getting to the hospital, arriving in record time. He sat by her bedside as she recovered, all the while blaming himself for every cut and bruise on her body.
She didn't blame him, not once, and that made it harder. She blamed herself, and they would sit together in silence, stewing in their own guilt. That was a recipe for disaster. House couldn't deal; he'd always had problems handling his own emotions, let alone other people's, so he fled. And she still didn't blame him. She blamed herself right to the bitter end, a bitter end she found at the end of a 9mm.
"Are you coming, House?"
House was jerked out of his thoughts by Foreman; they were at Chase's apartment. Time to face the music, as they say. "Wait," he said as Foreman opened his door and stuck his foot out. "We can't just go in there empty handed."
Foreman raised his eyebrows questioningly.
"Get back in the car." It wouldn't hurt to put this off, just a little bit more.
The lobbyist of doom eyed them, but he let them pass through this time. House was not surprised that he actually seemed to have been expecting them. The patient and patronizing look was a little much, though.
They knocked on the door. There were hurried footsteps and some shuffling around inside– someone obviously wasn't expecting them. Then they heard a muffled Australian plea: "Don't answer the door, we'll pretend we're not here."
House knocked again. "We know you're in there! Hurry up, open the door. Pizza's getting cold, beer's getting warm, chips're getting crushed and the cripple is getting tired."
They heard a groan, and the request "Make them go away." Chase obviously didn't know how thin the door was. Eloise opened the door, a patient smile on her face and a knowing look in her eyes. Foreman, holding a couple boxes of pizza, nodded in greeting.
House held up two six packs and a bag of chips. "We come bearing gifts. Can't turn us away now." He pushed his way in.
Chase was stretched out in a recliner, a warm colorful blanket around his legs, a book in his lap, and a cup of tea on the side table. It would have been the picture of warm fuzzy comfort if the bandages hadn't ruined it. The crutch was on the floor next to him. Chase looked up at them disapprovingly, and House realized he looked a lot like Jamie. It was something he'd never noticed before. They were both blondes, and both got that exact same look on their face when they were annoyed with him. But she would always sigh and shake her head, giving up.
Closing his book Chase sighed and shook his head, giving up.
House had always been convinced that the universe was against him; not necessarily some angry God– but the universe itself was plotting his demise. Now he wasn't so sure. The universe had done something nice to him for once. It had given him a second chance.
He wasn't going to screw this one up.