Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
"So. Eloise is gone." Wilson said, dishing up a salad next to his steak.
House limped to his side. "Yep."
"And Chase and Cameron are dating."
House watched as Wilson added a brownie to his plate and two cookies. His eyes grew dark.
Wilson tipped his head. "Sounds like everything worked out on its own."
"Uh huh." House grumbled, limping along the lunch line. "Only the wrong people ended up with the wrong people."
"Since when do you play matchmaker?"
"I am not playing matchmaker! I am diagnosing a problem. That's what I do. It's my job. And Chase and Cameron are sick."
"You're playing matchmaker." Wilson nodded at the cashier and paid. Then he turned and headed for a table, with House in tow. "She'll move on. She only knew Chase for a few weeks, and he never led her on, so… no harm no foul."
House scowled and snatched the two cookies. "How can you be so heartless?"
Wilson sat down with his food, looked up, and sighed. "If Chase had feelings for Eloise, don't you think he would have said something?"
"As if Chase knows what he wants." House sat down opposite his friend, rolling his eyes. "He's been carrying a torch for Cameron so long he's forgotten how to do anything else."
"Hmm." Wilson nodded, picking up his fork. "And Cameron could be noticing him because of his situation. She is drawn to sympathetic cases."
"Yeah." House snorted, looking around. "All teary-eyed, hold me and tell me it's okay, make it all alright…" he stopped, frustration in his face, and then he slammed the end of his cane into the floor. He stood and stared menacingly around the room.
Wilson paused mid-chew, holding another forkful of steak. "What?"
House turned and looked down at his friend, then began to limp away.
A worried expression crossed Wilson's face. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to take your advice. I'm going to support him."
Chase looked up as Cameron set a steaming cup of coffee in front of him. She smiled. "No cream, no sugar."
"Thanks." He accepted the coffee, and noted that it was strong, and it was fresh. Just the way he liked it.
Cameron extended her hand. "There's something I need to talk to you about in a little while, but right now I need to check on a patient. Are you free in a bit?"
"Yeah," Chase nodded. "Yeah, I'm just going to be here, writing reports."
"Okay." Giving him a smile, Cameron left.
For a moment Chase looked after her. After their date last night he was beginning to have some doubts about pursuing a relationship with her; mostly because he couldn't stop thinking of Eloise.
The thought of her made him ache all over again; he actually didn't want to go home after work, because he knew that the apartment would be empty. She wouldn't be there. They wouldn't have dinner together, watch a movie together, talk or read together. When he went to bed, there would be no slender arm wrapped around him, no warmth at his back, no fuzzy socks left in the middle of the bathroom floor…
Shaking his head, Chase hunched over the reports, feeling guilty. Here he was finally with the girl of his dreams, and he was thinking about another woman! What kind of man was he?
For a moment he suddenly had a flashback, hearing Edward's voice in his head: "That Dr. Cameron is a good girl, a steady girl, a girl you can bring home! What do you think you're doing going after that dark temptress? What kind of man are you? She'll do nothing but bring you down, ruin your chances to settle with a good woman!"
His pencil suddenly snapped in half.
Breathing out heavily in frustration Chase shook his head and dropped the pencil pieces to the table, then reached for his shirt pocket and pulled out a new pencil. He drank a large gulp of searing hot coffee, burning away the last vestiges of Edward's words.
Then he paused. Was Cameron the girl of his dreams?
Last night there had been no sparks; no feelings of excited tingling; no desire to make the evening never end. When they had kissed– he replayed that moment in his mind. She had leaned towards him till she was so close he could feel her soft breath on his skin. Her eyes had slid closed, and her lips had parted– he looked for her breathless sigh, the flush of her cheeks, the pounding of his heart, the inability to breath as she drew closer. It was not there. Where was the desire that the moment would never end? There had been no disappointment when she had pulled away, only him puzzling over the obscure missing element.
What had made her so desirable to him? He thought back to how he had always pictured it. Then he realized that he had never actually envisioned the relationship part at all. He had simply fallen for the idea of a relationship with her.
Not only that, but whenever anything happened to him, he ran from Cameron. Actually ran. How could he have thought he could build a relationship with someone he ran from?
He and Cameron didn't go together. If nothing had happened to him, she would never have even considered him, and if she hadn't come on to him all that time ago when she had stupidly tried some drugs, he probably would never have thought of asking her out.
Chase leaned back in his chair and snorted.
Cameron entered the room at that same moment. She approached him slowly, her expression strange– she was smiling, but there was a hesitancy there, apology and sympathy, too. "Hey."
She walked to the table and sat down, turning her chair so that she was facing him. "So," she started. "About what I wanted to talk to you about."
"I had a really great time last night. Really, I did. But…"
"You feel nothing for me."
For a moment she looked surprised. Then she nodded. Her eyes were wide, waiting for his response. "I don't think it would work between us." She whispered.
A strange sense of freedom and relief filled Chase. He grinned suddenly, amused and rueful. "Me neither."
Cameron blinked. "You– you feel the same way?"
Chase nodded, trying to hold back his laughter. "I know– we're so perfect for each other, but– I don't think it would work at all."
She looked shocked, but then she laughed, and seemed to collapse from her rigid posture in relief. "Oh my gosh!" she exclaimed, pressing a hand to her forehead. Then her perfectly shaped brows pulled together in confusion. "You've wanted to go out with me for so long."
Chase nodded, his expression thoughtful. "It's not that I don't like you– I just– I don't love you–"
Cameron shook her head. "So… now what?"
Chase leaned back in his chair. "Now we go back to being coworkers."
Nodding, Cameron stood. "Okay. So, maybe I'll see you next Tuesday." She gave him a little smile, and turned to leave.
"Coworkers without benefits."
Cameron stopped, and turned to look at him. "Why? It's no strings. You know… getting back to normal."
Chase shook his head. "Not anymore. I want…" he paused. "More."
At first she seemed like she was going to say something, a hurt expression on her face; but Chase did not flinch. He simply sat there, a set look on his face. His decision had been made, and it was final. Pressing her lips together Cameron spun on her heel, and left.
Drinking his coffee, Chase went back to his work, his brow furrowing as he tried to figure out House's difficult to read handwriting and even more enigmatic notes. Until a cane suddenly clattered onto the pile of papers, making him jump and slosh coffee on his hand. "House!" he exclaimed, grimacing as his still-aching ribs protested the movement. Shaking his hand he thanked providence that the coffee wasn't scalding anymore; else he would have been in major trouble.
"Jamie was a beautiful young woman. She had a job, a man, and a good home. Then one day she ended it all." House stopped and stared hard at the blond doctor. "Why?"
Chase gaped, staring at his boss in confusion. "I…"
"Because one night she and her man got into a fight, and she went for a walk that ended with a vicious assault. Her man didn't know how to handle the emotional fallout, so he closed off. Didn't want to risk doing the wrong thing. Jamie blamed herself for the attack, and then she blamed herself for driving her man away."
For a second Chase didn't get it; why was House telling him this?
House loomed over the doctor, his eyes piercing. "Don't make the same mistake I did." He said. His voice was low. "Some risks are worth taking."
With that, House grabbed his cane and marched into his office, closing and locking the door. Chase stared after him, his mouth hanging open as he tried to process what had just happened. Had House just opened up to him? What on earth did that story have to do with anything? Then Chase blinked. Was that what he had reminded House of earlier? When House had come over to his place and they had watched games on tv while eating pizza? It had to be…
Some risks are worth taking.
Huh. Where had he heard those words before? A picture of a picnic in the park entered his mind, and then the image of a truck pulling away, and a slender hand waving goodbye. Suddenly, like a blinding flash of obvious, Chase realized what he should have realized before.