Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
"What's wrong with her?"
Three sets of eyes turned to him as he hobbled into the room on his crutch, hot cup of coffee held against his chest with his right arm. Without acknowledging the concern in two of the gazes and the intense scrutiny of the other, Chase continued on to the table. Propping the crutch under his left arm he used his now free hand to move the hot beverage to the table, and then he pulled out a chair. And paused. "Yes?"
"Are you okay?" Cameron asked.
"You know– you don't have to be here…"
"I'm fine. I'm here. What's wrong with her?" Chase insisted, removing the crutch from under his arm. "Pager said 'wrong diagnosis.'" He grunted as he lowered himself into the chair. His brows pulled together, and he glanced down at his left leg. Checking his watch he reached into his pocket and pulled out his orange pill bottle. "I assume that means our patient doesn't have Carbon Monoxide poisoning."
"Nope. That diagnoses was right." House announced, pulling the top off of his marker with a flourish. "But it's also– wrong."
"How can that be?" Foreman frowned.
Cameron watched as Chase shook two pills into his hand and dry swallowed them, grimacing as he held his left thigh.
"It's wrong because it's not what's actually wrong with her." House turned his back on them and wrote on the board. "Patient's headache and dizziness are gone, but not the seizures. So!" he turned back. "Differential diagnosis, anyone?"
"It's not neurological. MRI and CAT scans were clean." Cameron stated.
"It's not a toxin. Follow-up blood tests were clean." Foreman said, frowning.
House furrowed his brow in frustration. "Stop telling me what it's not and start telling me what it is."
"But we don't know what it is."
House turned to Chase.
"M-I-D-N-I-T." Chase clarified.
"Good." House wrote the letters on the board vertically. "Metabolic," he muttered. "Inflammation, degenerative, neoplastic, infection, and… trauma." He straightened. "There. Start from the top."
"It's not metabolic." Cameron said. "All of the tests were normal– LFT's, BUN, creatinine…"
"Right." House x'd it out. "Next."
"MRA ruled out vasculitus, so not inflammation." She continued.
"Not degenerative." Foreman said. "Tests were normal."
"Not neoplastic. Her brain is clean." Cameron added.
"No fevers, no elevated white cell count– not an infection."
"What about trauma?" House asked.
"She's fine." Cameron insisted. "Not a mark on her."
"Okay," House ground out, forehead creasing with thought. He heaved a long breath. "Chase, go and talk to her. See what she's not telling us."
"But– I already took a patient history." Cameron objected. "I don't think she's hiding anything. She even told me about the pot she smoked in high school."
"Yes; because it was in high school. It doesn't matter anymore." Nodding at Chase, House tipped his chin towards the door. "Go."
Chase paused for a moment, then grabbing his crutch he stood. "What's her name? Her first name?"
The woman was laying in bed, curled up on her side, her back to the door. Chase hobbled in on his crutch and paused, watching the morose figure in the middle of the room. Slowly he made his way closer, the soft shuffling of his steps and light tap of the crutch catching her attention. She turned. Her eyes were shadowed, her lashes damp. Evidence of a recent cry.
"Hi." Chase said softly. He stopped beside her bed, gazing down at her, and then he glanced around and awkwardly pulled a chair over, and carefully and even more awkwardly sat down. She watched him. Chase winced as his thigh pained sharply, and he reached down with his hand to hold it while he got comfortable, moving slowly for his rib's sake. Settled he leaned back and looked at her. She looked back.
She nodded, and the corner of her mouth pulled as she sniffed. "You're Dr. Chase?"
"Yeah. How'd you know?"
"The other– Dr. Cameron– she was telling me about you."
Chase shifted and tipped his head. "Only good things, I hope."
"Yes. She says you're a good doctor."
Chase nodded. "I should thank her for the compliment."
She smiled weakly. It didn't reach her eyes.
It was quiet. Chase watched her, his eyes studying her– the lines of stress around her eyes and her mouth, the pallid color of her skin, the dark shadows that betrayed restless sleep and wakeful nights. She held her left hand in her right, clutching it close to her, her fingers rubbing the knuckles. She stared at him, as though by staring at him she could make something right, she could make what was wrong with her okay. As though she could communicate with him through her eyes, because she didn't know what words to say.
"So Miranda," his voice was gentle, but still of normal pitch and volume. "Where do you work?"
She blinked, her head and shoulders shifting on the pillow so she could better see him. "A publishing company. We do educational materials, studies on literature. I'm a representative, the one they send on business trips to sell our product to school teachers."
"Really? Sounds like you're a valuable employee."
"I've been with them for eleven years. What about you?" she seemed to be relaxing. "How did you end up here, in America?"
"A phone call, from my Dad." Chase answered, and the corner of his mouth lifted. "He called to tell Dr. House not to accept my application. So of course House did."
A hint of humor flickered in her eyes. "He sounds like a contrary man."
"He is, in many ways." He agreed.
"Does that make it hard to work for him?"
Chase tipped his head, thinking for a moment before answering. "Yes and no."
Miranda's brows pulled together in puzzlement.
"It was hard at first; I always got into trouble, and he was always ridiculing everything I said."
"I get in trouble and he ridicules everything I say." He smiled when she laughed. "But I know how he is now, I know what to expect, and– I'm okay with it. It's actually a comfort, in a way. He's blunt and honest, to a fault, but then I always know where I stand."
"So it's a comfort working for a jerk?" she smiled.
Chase chuckled. "It does sound strange when you put it like that."
Glancing at his crutch and arm sling, Miranda looked up at him. "Was it a car accident? Dr. Cameron mentioned you'd been in an accident."
Dropping his eyes, Chase didn't answer. He wasn't sure how much Cameron had shared, though it didn't appear to be much, but in a way that only made it that much harder– now he had to decide what to tell her.
Miranda took his silence the wrong way. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked– never mind."
"No," Shaking his head Chase looked up at her. He decided to be honest– to a point. Perhaps sharing might help him connect with her, figure out what they were missing. "I– was attacked. A man had it in for me, I guess."
Her eyes grew wide, looking again at the full extent of his injuries. "All of this from one attack?"
"No." Chase said slowly. "He had me for two days."
"Oh!" she gasped, her hand covering her mouth. "Oh– I am so sorry!"
Her left hand was no longer covered, and Chase saw a gold ring on her finger, with a single, small diamond. His head tipped, his eyes studying the ring. There was no mention in her file about a husband, though when she had been admitted to the hospital she had introduced herself as Mrs. Stevenson– Suddenly something clicked, the missing piece falling into place.
Her face stilled, her right hand going unconsciously going to cover her left. She swallowed.
Chase's gaze was soft. "What happened?"
Her throat worked hard, her eyes filling even as she looked away, blinking rapidly. Finally she spoke, her voice choking on her words. "I was working late, and he decided to bring me dinner. He packed a picnic basket, even got me flowers." Her voice rose to a terribly high pitch on the last word, her eyes glistening. A tear rolled down her cheek. "It was raining, and– someone ran a stop sign–" She licked her lips. "He died at the hospital."
Chase glanced down for a moment, then lifted his gaze back to her. "I'm sorry." He whispered. "When did it happen?"
"A month ago." Her throat worked again as she tried to keep the tears at bay, but she couldn't, and covered her face with her hand as she started to weep.
Chase closed his eyes, and silently prayed for a moment. Then he carefully leaned forward slightly, laying his hand on the bed next to her. "I'm so sorry."
At first there was no reaction, then suddenly she sat up and leaned forward, putting her arms around his neck. She was careful not to hurt him, but her embrace was almost desperate, her face pressed to his shoulder as she sobbed. At first Chase wasn't sure what to do. Then he hesitantly put his hand to the back of her shoulder.
"I miss him so much!"
Chase nodded, holding her gently. "I know."
"I just– I feel like I'm dying inside, like there's this hole inside of me that keeps getting bigger and bigger…" her breath hiccupped. "There's something wrong with me, isn't there? I really am dying. I'm sick."
Chase shook his head. "No." he said. "You're not sick. You're not sick at all."