Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
"How did yours go?" House asked from the doorway to the room.
"How did yours go?" Foreman snapped from his place by the coffee maker.
"I asked first." House was unusually quiet. "That bad huh?"
"Did we really expect anything different?" Foreman sighed. "It was really weird, Cameron seemed mad at Chase when I got there, but she wouldn't say why. She thought he was in a car crash, which is the official story on his medical records, but when I told her what really happened… she was upset, to say the least. Which I expected, but then she started blaming herself." Walking to the table, Foreman faced House. "Apparently she was at the clinic and talked to Chase right before he was grabbed and… I don't know. It was strange. But now she has got a guilt complex to dwarf all guilt complexes." Foreman sat down with his coffee cup.
House limped into the room. "You did explain the rules to her, right? If Chase feels threatened by consoling actions he'll run away and clam up in his burrow like the scared little Wombat that he is."
"I told her he needs space. I'm hoping she understood, but I can run interference if necessary."
"Good." House nodded. "The last thing a skittish wombat needs is Cameron comfort."
Eloise stopped in the lobby and turned to Chase, her hands in her jeans' pockets. "I'll be back to pick you up at one." She said. "But I'll be nearby if you need me to come sooner."
Chase nodded, steadying himself on his crutch. "Thanks Eloise."
A small smile ghosted across her lips as she looked at him, a gentle look in her hazel eyes. With a small gesture she offered a touch, and when he did not turn away or ignore the offer she reached up and brushed a stray lock of blond hair from his forehead.
Then they parted. Eloise had been assigned to explain to Cuddy what had happened to Chase, and to try and contain the explosion that was sure to follow. Moving carefully Chase made his way to the elevators, wincing as his bruises ached and his cracked rib pulled. Even the gash on his left leg seemed extra painful today. Entering the elevator he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes, breathing shallowly until the aches subsided; then he rode up to the third floor and got to the conference room, thankfully with no incidents. There were a few sideways glances at the bandages, cast and crutch, but it had been spread around the hospital for some time now that Dr. Chase had been injured by either:
a) a car accident,
c) rescuing children from a burning building, or
The rumor mill was currently favoring choices b and d, though c had been very popular for a while with romantic nurses.
Foreman and House were both reading over a case file. Chase felt hopeful; maybe they had a case. House had informed him that their other case had been released the previous night; it had been a weird parasite from poorly cooked fish the patient had eaten in Japan. Quick, simple, easy, boring.
A new case would be a nice distraction from all the other stuff going on.
They quickly snapped the folders shut when Chase limped in. He frowned, suspecting and then knowing what they were looking at. "Is that–"
"No." House interrupted. He pulled out another case file, passing out folders to his fellows and then going to the white board, grabbing a marker. "We have a new case that Cuddy is forcing me to take. Patient is a thirty-nine year old female–" He stopped and looked around, then frowned. "Where is Cameron?"
"Her coat is here." Chase offered, propping his crutch against the wall and carefully sitting down in the waiting wheelchair. House gripped the marker tighter, and Foreman frowned and studied the file with intense interest. Chase noticed the discomfort in the room. "What?"
Foreman and House were remembering the same moment.
Cameron shrugged, "His coat is here, maybe he's at ICU?"
"There was a bad car crash, the ER was pretty crowded, he's probably there." Foreman offered.
"Nothing." Foreman answered quickly. Chase frowned. Luckily further discussion was cut off when Cameron came in.
"Where were you?" House demanded.
Cameron blinked at him, surprised. "Oh– I decided to go out."
"Because it's not as if you have work to do." He said sarcastically.
"You weren't here, and our last case was sent home last night." Cameron turned and smiled at Chase. "I went and got you a coffee." She put it down in front of him and started pushing his chair so it was closer to the table.
Chase grabbed the wheel of his chair with his good hand, abruptly stopping the forward motion. "Thank you Cameron." He said pointedly, and started studying the file with intense concentration. The message please leave me alone now should have been clear. Cameron put a comforting hand on his shoulder. Chase, not expecting it and still not entirely comfortable with physical contact, flinched away from the touch.
Cameron quickly pulled away, and chewed her lip like she was about to cry. Chase saw how upset she was and sighed. "I'm sorry Cameron. You startled me." He noticed her furious blinking as she glanced away, and realized that tears were welling up in her eyes. He should have expected it. At a loss of what to do he looked to Foreman and House for help.
"Patient is a thirty-nine year old female, complaining of dizziness and blackout spells." House stated loudly. Cameron went to her seat to look over the patient file while House wrote the symptoms on the board.
Then he turned back to his ducklings. Foreman and Chase were studying the symptoms on the board and had expressions of intense thought, but Cameron was staring at Chase.
"Well… it's neurological." Chase mentioned.
"No… How'd you come up with that one, genius?"
Chase blinked at the insult, then a quick grin flashed across his face– which he tried to hide by ducking his head.
Cameron looked indignant. "House!"
"It could be a stroke, or a series of minor ones." Foreman suggested.
Chase nodded. "It makes the most sense."
"It would, if tests hadn't already ruled out stroke." House shot it down.
"Maybe she just has a blood clot in her brain. Not necessarily a stroke." Chase offered.
"She's on anti-depressants, strong ones. Maybe it's a reaction to the drugs." Foreman threw out.
"Oi, Cameron." Cameron looked up at House. "Chase is not the patient. Pay attention to the case."
"House…" She said between clenched teeth, asking with her eyes how dare he single her out because she cared, and for heaven's sake, didn't he have any sense of compassion for Chase?
"That's my name, don't wear it out. And pulling it through your teeth like that is definitely going to make it stretch." He said with a wry smile. "You and Foreman go do a blood screen, and get a CT of her head." House started to head to his office.
Foreman closed his file and got up to go. Cameron followed House.
"We need to talk." She announced, closing the door behind her.
House looked confused. "Okay… why?"
"Why would you insult Chase?"
"I always insult Chase except under extenuating circumstances." He said, sitting down and crossing his feet on his desk.
She lifted her hands in exasperation. "Don't you think this is an extenuating circumstance?"
"Why would it be?"
"You know, after what happened to him, maybe he needs a little sympathy and comfort." She folded her arms.
''What Chase needs is for things to go back to normal."
"Things aren't normal."
He frowned. "Why not?"
"Why not? Because they aren't! Didn't you see the way he reacted when I touched him? He isn't alright, and he needs help."
"He isn't broken. Keep away from him." House warned.
"I want to help him."
"Following those 'rules' that Foreman may have mentioned– you know, the ones like letting Chase get his own coffee, keeping physical contact to a minimum– would be much, much more helpful. Besides, you weren't so willing to help last night when you declined to go over to his place."
She looked hurt. "I didn't know what had happened to him."
"You thought he would be fine last night. And Foreman said you were mad at Chase this morning. Which would explain why you tried to kill him with that coffee."
Cameron looked shocked at that suggestion. "I didn't try to kill him."
House rolled his eyes. "Puh-lease, I can smell the sugar in that coffee from here. He'll go into shock if he tries to drink that."
"He likes sugar in his coffee." She protested.
"He drinks his coffee black, puts sugar in his tea. If you are going to do a nice gesture, make sure you do it right. 'It's the thought that counts' is a load of crap; all it does is show you don't actually pay attention."
Cameron shoved her hands into the pockets of her white coat. "I wasn't mad at him." She said, trying to change the topic.
"No?" House leaned back in his chair.
"I was upset that he was talking to Dr. Peney and not me. But now… I understand why."
"That's very big of you." House condescended. "Now why don't you do your job? And let Chase figure out what he needs on his own."
Cameron sighed and swept out angrily. House watched Chase.
Chase was reading an old, well worn book– crossword puzzles were too frustrating to do with his left hand– his back to the only solid wall in the room. He reached over and took the coffee Cameron brought him and frowned at it. He sniffed it experimentally and took a sip. He gagged almost immediately at the sweetness. Quickly rolling over to the sink he tipped the cup, dumping the contents down the drain.
House smiled, knowing he had been right about the sugar. He grabbed his iPod and speakers and brought them out to the conference room. Time to try that support thing Wilson talked about.