Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
Chase left. He had delivered the news calmly and matter-of-factly, and then he had excused himself, saying he needed the afternoon off. In the wake of his announcement House pace slowly, his eyes never leaving the door. Cameron stared blankly at nothing, and Foreman shook his head, leaning back against a file cabinet with his arms crossed.
"Man. That is psychotic."
"So he killed himself because he felt Chase betrayed him?" Cameron sounded confused.
House nodded absently. "He'd built up the idea of the perfect son. Not only did Chase fail at being a 'good son', he was fighting back, disowning his own 'father.'"
"So no trial." Foreman said. He had a pleased expression on his face. "You'd think he'd be happier."
Cameron looked at him with a frown. "Come on– this is Chase. You know how he is when someone dies; I don't think he knows what to feel right now."
House didn't answer. Instead he turned and headed for his office. "Back to the clinic, you two! And don't bother me. I've got mail to go through, a case to find."
At first Cameron and Foreman didn't pay his remark much mind, though they did stand to return to the clinic; but then they saw House sit down at his desk and start to open letters; and read them. They glanced at each other.
"Is– it just me, or has House been acting strange lately?" Foreman asked.
Cameron made a face.
Eloise was waiting for him in front of the hospital. She smiled softly at him as he carefully slid into the car, grimacing. "Hey," she said. "How you doing?"
Chase looked at her, and blew out a long sigh, an enigmatic expression on his face. "I don't know."
Eloise nodded. He didn't need to explain.
"Let's go home." She suggested.
As they drove, Chase settled back into the seat, his mind whirling between thoughts of Edward and thoughts of Eloise. It never occurred to him that upon learning of Edward's death, he had instantly wanted to go home to Eloise. He hadn't even thought of Cameron. All he knew was that he wanted the comfort and security of his own home. Somehow, that included Eloise.
Back at his apartment, with two glasses and an open bottle of white wine, Chase sat at the kitchen table cutting up a rutabaga and some carrots, while Eloise seasoned some chicken. They chatted as they made dinner, working together seamlessly. Eloise put the chicken in the oven and then put some potatoes on to boil, after washing and peeling them. Chase tossed the root vegetables in some oil and salt and pepper. When she took the pan and slid that into the oven, Chase started chopping purple cabbage.
As time went on and Chase found himself laughing at something Eloise was saying, he suddenly realized that he felt lighter– freer– like a great weight had been lifted from him. He could actually put his attack behind him. He could move on.
She took a sip of wine, and noticed the change in his expression. His eyes seemed so clear. He seemed so happy. For a moment she leaned back against the counter and just watched him, listening to him talk, savoring the way he said certain words with that accent of his, soaking in everything about him– his smile, the way his eyes twinkled and glowed, the sound of his laugh, his hands, his face. Her heart panged within her, and she quickly turned back to the stove.
"Are you okay?"
His voice was so soft and gentle– Eloise mentally slapped herself. Get it together! she scolded. "Yeah." She turned and smiled at him. "I'm fine. I was just hoping you might play your violin here before I leave. I've only got four days, you know."
He grew less jubilant, becoming solemn instead. Then he seemed to shake himself. "Yeah, sure. I can't really play with my hand, but I have a recording, if you want."
"That would be great."
The awkward tension between them stayed. Finally Eloise turned and grabbed a fork, stabbing at a potato in the bubbling pot to see if it was done. "So, did you ask Cameron yet?"
"Yes. This morning."
"She said yes, she would like to go to dinner with me."
"Oh. Good; good." Eloise stabbed at another potato.
The sound of chopping resumed. "I was thinking of taking her to Bacco's."
Her eyes brightened as she turned. "Oh– I love that place! They have the best Italian food."
He nodded. "It's also an intimate setting– lots of little nooks with small tables and candelight. It's dressy, but not 'formally-constricting,' I think is the term."
"Oh, here. The cabbage is cut. Is there anything else I can do?"
"Just sit there and look handsome." Eloise winked, taking the mound of purple cabbage and dropping it into a hot pan with oil and some green onion. As she stirred it she was aware of his eyes watching her. She poured the water off of the potatoes, and quickly mashed them, and when the cabbage and onion was softened she mixed it all together. "There." She said in satisfaction. "Colcannon, a traditional Irish food."
Chase clapped his hands appreciatively. "It all smells amazing." He said.
Later, after the delicious meal, he pushed back his plate with a sigh of contentment, and when all had been cleared away and washed he pulled out a home video a friend had taken of him playing the violin. It had been at a Christmas party, or something. Eloise leaned back in the couch cushions beside him, and watched with glowing eyes. He was so good! He seemed to be having so much fun, too– really getting into the fiddle music he was playing at the moment. Then he switched to something classical, and her heart melted.
When the video was over she glanced at him appraisingly. "That was wonderful!"
Chase looked slightly embarrassed. "It's okay."
"Okay?" Eloise shook her head. "No, no. It was amazing! Chase, you're really good."
A small smile touched his mouth. "Thank you."
He looked up, and she froze. His face was only inches from hers. She could feel the soft warmth of his breath; it made her skin tingle, and she shivered, her breath quickening. Her heart began to beat faster. Chase didn't move, but opened his lips slightly, and it seemed that he leaned closer– Eloise leaned closer too, lifting her face a little. They were so close she could almost feel his lips. Their noses brushed… Her lips parted…
Who moved back first they couldn't tell. Leaning back against the couch they stared anywhere but at each other, their breaths heavy. Eloise could feel her heart racing, her face flushed and warm.
"I think I should go to bed." She said.
"Yeah, me too." Chase agreed.
Clambering from the couch, Eloise stood and brushed back her hair, readjusting the hem of her zip-up hoodie. "Goodnight, Robert." She said, hurrying to the bathroom.
Alone, Chase stared at the ceiling, returning from the sudden fog he'd been in, his thoughts and senses clearing.
What on earth had just happened?