Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
Cameron was standing at the counter in Diagnostics, making coffee. She glanced up as Chase entered the room, then quickly looked back to the coffee maker, pressing her lips together. Dropping the spoon and bag of coffee grinds to the counter she stepped back and walked quickly to the table. "Sorry." Se murmured. "I know it's your job to make the coffee– or, at least, you always do it– I wasn't trying to coddle you or anything, I just came in early–"
Chase eyed her in amusement, pulling out a chair and slowly sitting down into it. "It's okay." He said, and pulled out an orange pill bottle from his pocket after checking the clock. "You alright?"
"Yeah." She smiled at him, but her composure was forced, her entire body taut with nervous tension. "I'm fine."
His one eye squinted. Tipping a white pill into his hand he dry swallowed it, still studying her. Cameron looked away, squirming under his intense scrutiny. "No you're not."
She rolled her eyes. "Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?""
"You know, I laid out those rules for a reason." Chase said. He dropped his voice as she turned her head, her jaw tightening. "I just– I needed things to be as normal as possible. Otherwise I would be constantly thinking–" He paused.
Cameron didn't say anything, but her eyes lifted. She was listening.
"I didn't want to be seen as weak. And I didn't want to think about what happened any more than I had to." Chase traced a pattern on the table's surface; Eloise was right. If he wanted any chance with her, then he had to be honest. He took a deep breath. It was now, or never. Before he lost his nerve. "I didn't want you to want me just because you saw me as broken."
Her blue eyes snapped to him in surprise. "I don't…"
"I know your husband died of cancer after just six months." Chase continued. "I guess– I was afraid."
She looked shocked. For a moment she was silent, and then she slowly sat down across from him, and laid her hand on the center of the table, barely an inch from his own hand. "I married him because I loved him." She said. "Not because he was a terminal case." There was another long pause. "I didn't know you felt about me that strongly."
Chase scoffed. "As if I haven't said it before."
"No– I knew that you liked me." Cameron clarified. "But I didn't know that you liked me so much that–"
As her voice trailed off, Chase raised his eyes to hers. Her lashes lifted, and her hand strayed fractionally closer. For a moment Chase did not respond, and then he took her fingers. He took a deep breath. "Allison, will you go out with me?"
Wilson squinted, trying to remember which pile he had placed a particular letter in. Leafing through the various paperwork, he was completely engrossed when suddenly there was a terrible, deafening cracking sound. When his heart discovered that it was still beating and had not suffered some fatal attack, he looked up to find House peering at him through the glass of his balcony doors.
With a sigh, Wilson stood and went to the doors. "Yes?"
"Aren't you going to ask me in?"
"What do you want, House?"
The crippled doctor blinked in mock surprise. "What kind of host are you?" he called through the glass.
Wilson sighed yet again, and opened the door, stepping outside before his friend could enter the office. "What?"
"Cameron's going on a date with Chase."
"Good." Wilson nodded, following House to the balcony railing. "He's getting back to normal, getting on with his life. What's the problem?"
"They work together."
"So did Steve and Terri Irwin. Didn't hurt them."
"Chase is no crocodile hunter." House frowned. "And even if he was, could you see Cameron helping him wrestle a crocodile in the mud? In her little shorts? Although– that might be kind of hot–"
Wilson shook his head. "No, but I can see them turning into an incredible diagnostic duo. They could wear capes."
"Or spandex. I've always been a big fan of spandex. Especially on the ladies."
"Leave them be, House. Them getting together– this is good." Wilson turned to leave.
"Eloise cares for Chase."
Wilson stopped. His brows pulled together. "Eloise? You mean she cares for Chase beyond being a friend?"
House leaned against the short balcony wall; he didn't meet Wilson's gaze. "She made an amateur mistake. She fell in love with him. But he doesn't return her affection."
Blinking, Wilson stared at his friend. He folded his arms. "House, are you being protective?"
"Because it sounds like you're worried about this young girl getting romantically hurt. And like you disapprove of a match between Cameron and Chase."
"Of course I disapprove! Office relationships are never a good idea. They always bring trouble."
"You would mock, tease, and torment if this happened under normal circumstances. But you would never be concerned." Wilson eyed his friend. "You've admitted to caring twice now!"
"No I haven't." House turned to the oncologist with his usual cheeky, jaunty expression. "I've disapproved. Big difference."
As House left, Wilson watched him with a smile, and then returned to his office.
Stalking away from Wilson's office, his destination unknown, House scowled. He so did not care. But this was Eloise; she'd already had her heart broken. She didn't need it trampled on, too.
If Chase hurt her…
Eloise looked around her apartment. It was strange, seeing it so empty. All of the furniture was waiting in a moving truck, all of her belongings packed neatly into boxes. The only things not in boxes were the few things at Chase's place– and that would fit in the suitcase they came in. No problem there.
Closing the door, she locked it for the very last time.
Stepping out onto the sidewalk she took a deep breath of air, feeling free in some ways, and yet she couldn't shake the sense that she was making a big, huge mistake– a mistake that she would come to regret. The reason she knew very well, and she chided herself for it, shaking her head and muttering as she got into her car and began the drive to Chase's apartment. He was fine. He had Cameron. He loved Cameron. He was fine. She was fine.
At least, she hoped so.
Her cell phone began to ring. Eloise grabbed it and held it to her ear, noting the incoming number. "Hey, Tom. What's up?"
"Eloise. Is Dr. Chase around?"
"Sorry, he's at the hospital. Why?"
"It's concerning the trial. I really need to speak with him."
Eloise frowned. "Did you page him?"
The detective's voice was sheepish. "Yes, right before I called you. I was just impatient, I guess."
"I guess so." She shook her head, turning left at the lights. "So this news– is it anything important?"
"Yes." There was a pause. "It's about Edward."
Chase looked up from the medical journal he was reading, sensing the dark storm clouds before his boss even entered the room. The look on House's face made him cringe; when House looked like that, everybody paid for it.
Quickly running through a dozen possible escape routes, Chase concluded that– since he couldn't very well run away, his best course of action would be to just agree with whatever House said and keep his head down. Judging from Cameron's expression, she was thinking the same thing. Foreman looked vaguely exasperated, but there was enough of a hint in his expression to let Chase know that even Foreman was calculating an avenue of escape.
House rolled into Diagnostics with the aura of doom, crossing the room in a few steps. For a cripple, he sometimes had an amazingly long stride. Before he'd even gotten the top off of his dry erase marker, though, Foreman pushed back his chair and stood.
"I'm due in the clinic. Sorry." He nodded at House. "Let me know if we have a case."
Then he was gone.
Chase cursed Foreman's ability to just up and move. He wished he could do the same, but the last time he'd ended up with a cane in the wheels of his wheelchair and broken stitches. Who knew what House would do now that he wasn't so 'feeble.'
Cameron looked at him in helpless dilemma, torn between escaping and not leaving a man behind. Bravely, she opted for the latter. Pressing her lips together she turned to face House.
"Do we have a case?" she asked.
"No." House snapped. "I just like holding the marker and scribbling on the board. Makes me feel important."
Chase raised his eyebrows.
"You. Cripple." House barked. "Find us a case."
His mouth opened. "Me?"
"Oh, I'm sorry! Is there another handicapped person here? I must be going blind. Yes, you! See those emails on my computer? See that stack of mail requests? You have one hour."
"And no helping him!" House pointed at Cameron, and then headed for the door. "You do and you're fired."
Her shaped brows pulling together, Cameron called. "Then what should I do?"
A nametag suddenly flew through the air, smacking into her shoulder and falling into her lap. "I hear today's the day for elderly physicals!"
Then House was gone.
Cameron and Chase stared at one another.
"What was that about?" She asked.
"I have no idea." He replied. Then he pushed his chair back and slowly rose to his feet. "But if you'll excuse me, I have a cop to call back and a mountain of paperwork."
House muttered to himself all the way to the cafeteria. He had no particular reason for going there; he wasn't hungry, it wasn't lunch, Wilson wasn't there, and neither was anyone else he usually cared to bother. So he stood there, in the center of the room, looking disgustedly about, his mood worsening. Finally he left, and went out to the lobby, pulling out his cell as he walked. After dialing and waiting a few rings, he was rewarded with the sound of a voice on the other end. The voice of the person who was at the heart of his foul mood.
"Eloise. Get your butt over here. I'll meet you in the lobby."
"You have five minutes."
Then he hung up on her. Knowing Eloise she would be there in three minutes, heedless of the speeds she had broken and the lights she had missed in her hurry to make sure everything was all right. Sitting down on a cushion-covered bench, House waited.
Four minutes later, Eloise pushed her way in through the revolving door and ran to House's side, panting for breath, her eyes wide with worry.
She frowned, stopping in front of him. "What?"
"You could have been here in three minutes."
"I stopped for coffee." She retorted. "Now what's wrong? Is Chase okay?" a horrified and accusing look crossed her face. "You didn't knock his crutch out from under him, did you?"
"You're so paranoid." House stood up.
Eloise lifted her arms and dropped them. "Then what's the emergency?"
"Emergency?" House raised an eyebrow, and turned and began walking. "I never said there was an emergency."
She followed him, her expression changing as she grew suspicious. "You told me to get my butt here. In five minutes. Why?"
"Because I didn't feel like waiting."
Eloise stopped. After the news she had just learned from Tom, she was in no mood for one of House's games. "House!"
House turned, the corner of his mouth lifting at the sight of her temper. Foul moods do love company. "That is my name, yes."
Her lips thinned; he was just toying with her. She didn't know why, but she didn't really care. "Fine. You know what, as long as I'm here, I'm going to see Chase."
"Can't. He's working."
"I'll only be a moment." She stepped close as she passed and lowered her voice. "I won't stop for coffee this time."
"Good. Wouldn't want to make people wait."
"What is wrong with you?"
"Nothing's wrong with me. You, on the other hand–"
"What about me?"
"Not very smart, you know, falling in love with a married man."
Eloise frowned. "I don't know what you're talking about."
House made a face at her, adding meaningful eyes to the expression.
"Chase?" She shook her head disbelievingly. "He's not married–"
"Oh, please." House mocked. "He's so tightly wrapped around Cameron's little finger he might as well be. 'Course, after your last failed attempt at a relationship, I guess I could see why you'd fall for an unavailable man. Can't get you're heart broken if he can't have it to break. He's safe. Plus, you're moving. No commitment issue there."
Eloise stared at him in utter disbelief and hurt. House had never said anything like that to her before– and bringing up Michael? After all that had happened? It hit a sore spot, and she flinched. "You're unbelievable." She whispered. Turning she walked away a few steps, and then she whirled around on him. "You know, I was actually in a fairly good mood before you called. I had some great, incredible news that made me feel freer than I'd ever thought possible. But could I enjoy the news, maybe celebrate a little? No! You had to call, and play one of your sick games on me! So thank you, House."
As she brushed past him, tears in her eyes, House felt his anger drain away; in it's place was a shameful feeling. He closed his eyes. "He's an idiot."
"He could have had you, and he's letting you go."
She turned. There was a look of heartbreak on her face. "I told him to ask Dr. Cameron out."
House frowned, his eyes suddenly very blue and intense as he limped towards her. "Why?"
"Because– because he shouldn't let his fear of how or why she has feelings for him get in the way of their being together. He's carried his torch for so long, and now he finally has a chance to act upon it."
House stared at her, hard, for a long moment. At last he nodded; she had made the choice, then. It wasn't just Chase. "Fine." He whispered. His gaze softened. "What about you?"
Eloise didn't answer right away. She blinked quickly, her eyes bright and shining. She smiled. "I'll be alright." She said. "I'm always alright."
As House watched her leave, he knew she was lying.
He was unusually quiet and solemn on his slow way back to Diagnostics. His mind was whirling, trying to sort through the facts and come to a satisfactory conclusion, but no matter how he went through it he always ended up right back where he was. With Chase going with Cameron, and Eloise alone. Curse the blond Aussie for his 'natural' charm! Curse Eloise for falling for him! And curse that sick, sick man for attacking Chase and starting this whole thing in the first place. It was all wrong.
Stalking into Diagnostics, House found Chase sitting in his office, absently scrolling through emails. Him. Doctor Robert Chase. House scowled, and burst in through the door.
Chase glanced up at him, and then checked the clock. "Um– it's only been thirty minutes."
"Today's 'Half Day', where everything is done in halves. Time's up."
Subtly rolling his eyes, Chase gave up. "Okay. Fine."
"What've you found?"
"Uh– nothing yet. Only made it through part of the diagnostic requests."
"Great. You get an F-minus. Now out of my chair."
"I thought today was 'Half Day'?' Something wrong?"
"Uh– yeah!" House widened his eyes. "My office, my desk, my chair. Only I'm not sitting in it. You are."
"Okay; I'm getting up." Chase carefully lifted himself and tucked the crutch under his arm. Whatever or whoever had House bent out of shape, Chase hoped it was resolved soon.
House stuck out his cane, blocking Chase's path to the door. He had remembered something. "Your pager went off before I left. What was it?"
Chase stopped, and an enigmatic expression crossed his face. "It was actually the assistant detective; Tom Hannigan. Edward's dead. Seems he hung himself."