Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
With the patient once again stable, the dry-erase marker squeaked on the board as House added the new symptom. "Okay. Suggestions?"
"The dizziness, the blackouts, the seizures– it's neurological." Foreman announced.
"Or it could be an infection." Cameron argued.
"No," Chase shook his head. "No fever."
"Well… maybe not yet…"
"Right. Because patients who have infections don't get fevers. They seize instead." House mocked.
"Could be a toxin." Chase offered.
"Pesticides?" Foreman wondered.
Cameron shook her head. "She's a vegetarian, and only eats organic foods. And she doesn't have a garden."
She looked at House. "I did a very careful patient history. All organic. No pesticides. And she lives on the third floor of her apartment building."
House sighed, eyebrows scrunched as he thought. "Anyone go to her place yet?"
Foreman scoffed. "She just came in today. So– no."
"Hmm." House eyed each of his employees. "Can't send you, your morals say that breaking and entering is wrong, much less rifling through someone's private things. Can't send you because they haven't invented wheels that can go up stairs yet. So the winner is– you!" He turned triumphantly to Foreman, who looked at him with forced patience. "Go put those street skills to good use, see what our patient isn't telling us."
Rolling his eyes Foreman pushed back his chair and stood up. As he left, House turned back to the board. "Cameron, go do an MRI, see if there's anything interesting that shows up that the CT missed."
With a sigh Cameron pushed her chair back and stood up. Then she leaned close to Chase, and moved to set her hand on his. When he pulled his hand back, settling it in his lap with a pointed look, she pressed her lips together in an effort to hide her hurt expression. "I just wanted you to know," she said softly under her breath. "That if you ever want to talk, I'm here. And… I know how hard it can be to open up…"
"Hello?" House stared at her with bug eyes, hand extended towards the door. "MRI? Patient? Suffering from seizures?"
She dropped her eyes. "I just wanted him to know… "
"Thank you, Cameron." Chase said quickly, offering her a smile. "I appreciate that."
Blinking, she looked down at him, and then a small smile crossed her face. A moment later she left.
Once more it was just House and Chase.
"And I," House announced. "Am going to go inspect the cafeteria, make sure it's not something toxic in the hospital food." He raised his eyebrows and proceeded to limp out.
Left alone, Chase leaned back in the wheelchair and closed his eyes. His pain medication was wearing off, and his body was definitely letting him know.
Chase jerked his head up, eyes snapping open. The motion made him wince and press his left hand to his ribs. "Yeah," he said, grimacing. "I'm fine."
Cameron stepped closer, studying him. "You've been breathing shallowly all morning."
"Ah– broken rib, remember?"
"You need to make sure you take several deep breaths every day." She said. "Otherwise you could get pneumonia."
"I know." He nodded, and picked up a magazine to read. Message: conversation over.
"I'm serious, Chase. This is not me trying to be sympathetic."
Not looking up, Chase held the magazine open. "Look, I said I know. I'm a doctor too."
She sighed. "I'll catch you later."
Waiting until she left, Chase couldn't help but feel bad for how short he'd been. Just because she could be a little too touchy-feely didn't mean he shouldn't listen to her. He knew– she was right about the breathing. Steeling himself, Chase pulled in a long, deep breath, and shut his eyes against the intense wave of pain. When he could pull in no more air he paused for a moment, then reluctantly began to release it. He did it all a second time, breathing in as deeply as he could and breathing out as much as possible. By the time he was done he was seeing spots, his left arm pressed tightly against himself.
Later, alone in the conference room, Chase wheeled over to the door to see if Cuddy or any other boss was around, and then he removed himself from the chair and hobbled about on his crutch (since there was no one around to tell him otherwise)– getting his coffee, looking out the window, pulling down different books and magazines and flipping idly through them. Being in the chair made him feel terrifyingly vulnerable and helpless.
As the time passed his leg began to ache again, and he hissed, reaching down to press his hand to his thigh in an effort to ease it. It wasn't time for his next dose of painkillers; he had to wait. Still, the pain continued, and he found himself more than once reaching for his pocket where the little orange bottle was, always stopping just short of actually pulling it out.
It was nearly twelve-thirty when House and Cameron arrived, their voices drifting down the hall.
"She could have a tumor."
"I thought you said her MRI was clean."
"It was, but maybe it's not presenting in the brain…"
Quickly, Chase limped to the end of the table where he'd left his chair, and he sat down just in time.
House eyed him when he entered, the skin between his brows wrinkling slightly, but he said nothing and continued on to the white board.
Cameron had no such reserve.
"Chase, what's wrong?" she asked, her forehead lined with empathetic concern. "Are you okay?"
He glanced at her belligerently. "Yeah. Why?"
"You look exhausted!" Standing she started towards him. "And you're white–"
Grabbing the wheels of his chair he rolled himself back a turn, gazing guardedly at her. "I'm fine." He said.
"Are you sure? You're still recovering, maybe you should–"
"I'm… fine… Cameron."
She stopped. "I'm just trying to–"
"Dr. Cameron! Would you please update Dr. Chase on the condition of our patient?" House cut in, loudly.
Cameron turned sharply away, returning to her seat at the table. "MRI was normal."
"There was nothing?" Chase asked, sighing inwardly. He had taken it out on her again. Why couldn't she just follow the 'rules'?
She shook her head. "It's not neurological, whatever it is."
"Have we heard back from Foreman?"
"Nope. Which hopefully means he's finding something interesting." House said with raised eyebrows, turning to the board. "So, dizziness, blackouts, seizures, and a clean brain. Suggestions?"
"It could be Multiple Sclerosis, or Lupus."
"Or it could be Epilepsy." Chase countered. "Or Central Nervous System Oxygen Toxicity."
Cameron frowned. "What about Parkinson's?"
"Hmm. So many to choose from." House mused. There was a ringing in his pocket. Grabbing his cell phone he flipped it open and set it to his ear. "Yeah?"
"House, I know what's wrong with her."
Cameron walked down the hall to the patient's room. The woman looked at her wearily, her dark hair lying tangled against the pillow, shadows under her eyes, yet she still offered Cameron a small smile.
"How am I doing?"
"Actually, you're going to be doing great." Cameron smiled, walking over and stopping beside her bed. When the patient looked at her questioningly she offered, "You have Carbon Monoxide poisoning."
"Carbon Monoxide?" her brows pulled together. "Like from car exhaust?"
"Yes," Cameron agreed. "Although that's not how you got it. There's a small leak in your apartment, which exposed you for a long period of time until it finally built up enough in your system to send you here. The good news is the cure is very simple. We'll put you on oxygen for a little while and you'll be as good as new."
Her face relaxed in relief. "And the leak?"
"Your furnace is not venting properly. It's actually leaking some exhaust into your home." Cameron explained. "Get that fixed and install a carbon monoxide detector, you'll be fine."
She smiled. "Don't thank me. My colleagues are the ones who figured it out; I just get to deliver the news. Now let's get you on that oxygen."
Chase wheeled towards the wall where he'd set his crutch. Pushing himself up he grimaced, then hissed, holding his left thigh. Stupid cut. As he got his crutch and caught up his coat from the back of the chair his brow pulled together. Just a little longer till dosage time…
A motion and small sound at the door made him look up, and there was Eloise, a coffee in each hand, leaning against the doorframe. He smiled, and she smiled back. "Hey."
"Hey." Pushing herself upright she stepped into the room. "How was work?"
"Good. One of the fastest cases we've ever done, but good." Chase limped toward her. "House will probably spend the rest of the day disappointed that it wasn't something more complex."
She chuckled, walking beside him out of the room and down the hall.
Back at the apartment Chase was tucked into his chair with a blanket and his coffee, and Eloise went to the kitchen to put away the groceries she'd picked up. Taking a sip of the hot beverage Chase settled his head back and closed his eyes, feeling the warmth spread through him. The painkiller he'd taken in the car started to kick in, the aches and pains fading. Sitting there, in the silence with only Eloise's humming to break it, he found his thoughts skimming back over the morning– and pausing when they reached Cameron. Yes, her idea of comfort could be a little stifling, and she wasn't exactly following the rules. But he could've been nicer. Isn't that who he was, anyway? The nice guy? If he wanted any chance with her he had to make sure he didn't blow it by snapping at her. The coffee thing this morning was a little frustrating, but she could learn those things. House, on the other hand– Chase wasn't sure what to make of that.
It was almost five when Chase suddenly looked up from his book and stared at the clock. "Crap!"
Eloise looked up from her pile of magazines, her forehead crinkling as she watched him throw back his blanket, toss his book on the side table, and grab his crutch– all done in as fast a manner as his ribs and other various injuries would allow. Which was not very fast. As he hobbled across the room to the phone, a look of panic on his face, she sat up straight.
"Is everything okay?"
"No! Everything's not okay!" Chase dialed and set the phone to his ear, turning towards her. "House is coming and I forgot to order the pizza!"
Though she pressed her lips together a giggle still escaped her.
"What? It's not funny– if he shows up and discovers I forgot–" Even as he protested her reaction, somehow– watching her shake with mirth– the gravity of the situation began to recede, and he felt a laugh start to bubble up though he continued his protests. "Seriously, do you have any idea what he'll do to me?"
Eyes now tightly shut, Eloise shook with silent laughter, tipping onto her side. "You… are… such… a wuss!" she gasped.
Chase finally began to chuckle, shaking his head. As a voice on the other end of the line finally answered, his attention turned back to the job at hand. "Yes, I'd like to order some pizza for delivery, please."
When the pizza had been ordered, Chase hung up the phone. "Lord, I am a wuss."
"A big wuss." Eloise agreed with a straight face.
Chase pointed at her as he made his way back to his chair. "He scares me. I should think you would understand, knowing him for so long."
"He's only scary sometimes." She curled up on the couch with a magazine again. "The rest of the time he only looks scary."
By the time House showed up at six the pizza had arrived, much to Chase's relief. Eloise answered the door, and House hobbled in with a case of beer under his left arm and another one in his hand.
"And just what do you have planned for tonight?" Eloise asked, looking pointedly at the beverages.
"Beer, pizza, and drugs." House replied, looking wickedly delighted. "I've got the beer and the drugs. Chase has the pizza. It's gonna get wiild!"
Rolling her eyes Eloise took the cases from him and set the beer on the coffee table. "Two cripples on their night in. Rock on!"
Chase hid a smirk as House gave her narrowed yet amused glare. "Sorry. Boys only."
"That's okay." She smiled sweetly at the older doctor. "I'll just snag some of this beer and pizza and spend the evening with my laptop. There's an online game calling my name." Putting some pizza on a plate she then grabbed a beer, but before she headed for the bedroom she leaned in close to Chase. "If he starts to bother you, trip him with your crutch and holler for help."
"Hey– online game? 'Eloiiise! Eloiiiiise!'"
Chase smiled at the older man's tone, and gave her a nod. A moment later she was gone, and the bedroom door clicked shut.
Alone with House, he wasn't sure what to do or say. Nothing like this had ever happened before; well, House had visited with Foreman, but that had been different. It had been Foreman's idea, and they had been putting together a plan of action. This was House, and only House. And there was no plan.
Grabbing two beers, House held one out to him. "Here. Before it starts getting warm."
Taking it, Chase popped the top off and took a drink.
House grabbed a slice of pizza and shoved a decent amount into his mouth and took a bite, his eyes widening. "Oh! This is good!" he nodded at Chase, chewing. "You order great pizza."
Sitting back Chase eyed him, waiting. "Thanks?"
"Hm hm." House chuckled, and sat down on the couch. He stared at the bedroom door. "Bet you twenty bucks she's in there looking up hot guys."
Chase rolled his eyes. "C'mon, House. Eloise isn't like that."
"How do you know? Do you monitor her internet usage?"
"I can hear you, House. And FYI, the guy I'm looking at is one HOT blond."
"He's got a lab coat and a stethoscope."
"Oo–" House's eyes widened as he looked at Chase. "A doctor."
"A doctor with gorgeous eyes!"
House frowned. "Is he a Brit?"
There was a chuckle. "Close enough."
"Does he like crossword puzzles?"
"As a matter of fact he does!"
Chase looked back and forth between the door and House. Were they…? Chase's eyebrows drew down in a frown. His cheeks grew warm. He decided to ignore them, taking another drink from his beer.
There was a loud exhalation of air. House had tipped his head back on the couch, and now lifted it, puffing out his cheeks and looking around the apartment.
Chase glanced around, the uncomfortable tension in the room growing. Neither man said anything for several minutes.
"So," Chase finally ventured. "The case…"
"Yeah. Carbon monoxide poisoning. Weird, huh?"
There was silence again. Suddenly House made a face and looked around. Locating the remote at the end of the couch he nabbed it and raised his hand, turning on the TV. Chase settled back in his chair as a basketball game appeared on the screen. He hadn't actually expected House to share what Chase had made him 'remember' earlier that day; if House decided to share at all it would be in his own way in his own time. For now the game on the TV was enough to break the awkwardness, and Chase was surprised at how comfortable it actually was to watch basketball with House, cheering on whatever team they happened to like at the moment, exclaiming over bad calls and complaining loudly, eating pizza and drinking two more beers and then switching to Mountain Dew.
It was three in the morning. The clock beside his bed confirmed it when Chase cracked open one eye to see what horrific hour someone was paging him at. With a groan he turned his face back into the pillow and clapped the edge to his ear, trying to block out the sound that had woken him, but it reached him even there. Something shifted against his back, warm and soft, and there was a sleepy sigh.
"What is it?"
"My pager." He released the pillow and stared up at the dark ceiling morosely. "Sorry– could you grab it for me?"
"Sure," her eyes weren't even fully open as she pushed herself to her hands and knees, hair rumpled with sleep. Leaning over him in her pink tank top and kitten pajama pants, she managed to catch the pager on the side table, her movements clumsy, and she peered at it through half-open eyes. Her nose wrinkled as she tried to read it in the dark. "Something– about– a wrong diagnosis?"
Chase's eyes flew open, the last shreds of sleep disappearing. "Oh no."