Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
Cuddy looked up as Chase entered her office, and for a moment she blinked. The image of him limping in made her think, for a moment, of House– though Chase used a crutch, not a cane. Their step was almost the same.
"Dr. Chase. How may I help you?"
"I need a few days off." He said, and raised his hand. "I know that it's soon after my last absence, but…"
Cuddy folded her hands on the desk. "Does it have to do with House?"
"No," Chase shook his head. "No, House has nothing to do with this. It's– personal."
For a moment Cuddy studied him, and then she sighed and spread her hands. "How many?"
"Three." She smiled.
Chase returned her smile, and nodded. "Thank you, Dr. Cuddy."
As she watched him leave, Cuddy rested her chin against her fingers thoughtfully. She wondered if his time off had anything to do with a certain female doctor.
Eloise pulled the truck over to the side of the road, just before an exit off of the highway. She looked back and forth, suddenly in a moment of indecision. She could keep going straight, and drive on to New York. Or she could take the exit and curve around, hook up with the highway going in the opposite direction, and return to New Jersey.
Resting her forehead against the steering wheel she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she had accepted the job in New York she and Chase had been simple friends; leaving presented no difficulty. Now she felt like she was leaving a part herself behind, a very important part of herself.
So, he was with Cameron now. Yet– hadn't she just told him that some risks are worth it? She sat up and stared ahead. So am I willing to fight for him? Am I willing to take the risk I won't win? She wondered.
The road stretched on before her, splitting into two completely different paths.
What should she do?
Her mind made up she put the truck back into gear, and she drove away, gunning the engine.
Chase took a cab home. Now that his mind was made up he felt a sense of urgency, a feeling that if he did not hurry he would be too late, so he entered the apartment lobby and took the elevator up, and from there unlocked his door. At this time he felt his handicaps more than ever. With his need for speed he quickly grew frustrated, limping here and there with his crutch and slowed movements and able to use only one hand.
Still, in a short amount of time he had packed a small bag and looked up bus times on his computer. As he limped to his door and grabbed his keys, he went over his plan. He was going to New York, and he was going to go to Eloise's new apartment, and then… Well, he knew what he wanted to say but not how to say it. He would have to cross that bridge when he came to it.
Why he hadn't seen it before Chase didn't know. Where he had run from Cameron, he had run to Eloise. When he wanted company, he had turned to Eloise. When he had needed a friend, he had turned to Eloise. When he had desired comfort and security, it was Eloise who held him. His happiest memories had been made in the last few weeks– filled with fun and laughter, quiet evenings and lively conversations. Where his kiss with Cameron had been pale and tasteless, there had been that kiss he and Eloise had shared when they had first met, and then that moment the other night… that almost-kiss that had been better than any kiss he had ever had before.
He had been a blind fool.
He opened his door, and stopped.
There stood Eloise. Her hair was loose, and she was breathing heavily from her run up the stairs. Her cheeks were flushed, and she looked up at him with bright eyes.
"Hey." She said.
Chase stared. "Hey."
For a moment she said nothing. "I only got a short way down the road," she said. "When I realized I– " she fumbled in her pocket, and drew something out. "I forgot to leave your spare key."
Chase felt the cold metal press into his palm as she gave it back, and he eyed her in amusement. "You could have mailed it." He said.
"Yeah, well, I was coming back anyway. I realized that, you know– I never really liked New York. I don't actually want to live there."
"Oh." Chase held his breath, his thoughts whirling. "Um– do you want to come in?"
"Yeah–" She paused, her eyes falling on his packed bag. Her expression fell. "Oh– I'm sorry. You're going somewhere." She lifted her gaze back to his face. "You taking a trip with Cameron?" she asked with forced nonchalance.
A smile graced his features. "Absolutely not." Letting the bag slide from his shoulder and off of his casted right hand, he kicked it with his foot to one side. "I'm not going anywhere. Please come in."
Eloise eyed him. "You sure?"
"Yes. I'm sure." Shuffling into the kitchen on his crutch, Chase leaned self and crutch against the counter and set about putting water on to boil for tea.
Stepping in, Eloise went to the cupboard and opened it, pulling down their two favorite mugs. "So, you often pack a bag when you're not going anywhere?" she teased.
Chase chuckled. "Well, I was going to take a trip, but my plans changed."
Her eyebrows pulled together. "In the two seconds between opening the door and seeing me? Why?"
"Because this jobless, homeless person showed up on my front step."
Her mouth opened, and she gently smacked his good shoulder as he laughed.
Turning back to the counter she put the tea in the mugs, and then waited with Chase for the water to boil. There was an awkward silence, as each avoided looking at the other. Chase tapped the counter, trying desperately to formulate the speech he had been planning on creating on his way to New York. Now he would have to fly by the seat of his pants.
Glancing at her from the corner of his eye, he carefully took a step closer– close enough to be on the edge of her personal space. Eloise shifted uneasily.
"I missed you." He said in a hushed voice.
Eloise took in a deep breath, and grabbed the two mugs. She slipped around him and over to the stove where the teapot had begun to hiss. Chase tipped his head back, muttering silently to himself; he knew what he wanted to tell her, but he felt like he was fumbling with the how-to-go-about-it part. She had her back to him, so he approached her again, feeling nervous but set; he had to just do it.
Behind her, he was so close– he could smell her, feel her warmth, hear her quick, quiet breaths. He dipped his head to whisper in her ear.
The teapot emitted a shrill shriek.
Jumping, Chase backed up, trying not to stumble on his cast and crutch, hopping on his one good ankle. As Eloise poured the water into the mugs he ran a hand through his hair, trying to regain his composure. Eloise turned, mugs in hand, to find herself face to face with his chest.
"Oh…!" she gasped, holding a mug in each hand. For a moment neither one moved, and then she glanced up. "Um, could you…"
"Yeah, yeah." Chase moved back, and she passed him, heading for the table. Chase rolled his eyes at himself. Idiot! He mentally scolded. Then he turned and followed her to the table. He had to just say something; or better yet, do something! Working himself up for a move, he approached her.
Eloise turned and held out a cup of tea to him. "So, how's Cameron?"
Chase released a heavy breath, feeling his boost of confidence deflate. Sitting down in a chair he accepted the cup of tea and watched her sit down across from him. "She's okay. I guess."
Eloise frowned, blowing the steam as it rose from her cup. "You guess? You're dating her, and you don't know?"
Chase coughed as he took a large gulp of tea that was still too hot. "What? No! No– we broke up, actually."
Brown eyebrows raised. "It's not even been twenty-four hours, and you've already broken up?"
"Yeah, well," he shrugged. "We're not actually that great together."
For a moment there was silence, full of awkward tension.
"You want something to eat?" Chase stood up too quickly, and knocked his crutch from its resting place against the table to the floor with a resounding crash. Closing his eyes Chase muttered some silent curses at himself, then rested his arm against the table and proceeded to attempt bending down, reaching out to retrieve the fallen crutch.
"Here…" A slender hand grabbed the crutch before him, and they both straightened at the same time.
Eloise caught her breath, finding herself so close that she could feel his warmth seeping into her. Slowly she raised her eyes to his, and found him staring down at her with parted lips and eyes that were wide and bright, as though with fever. She swallowed.
Chase looked down at her upturned face. Her cheeks had flushed, and her breath had quickened. The scent of raspberries wafted up and around him– he closed his eyes breathed in, and his heart began to thump heavy and hard within him. When he opened his eyes she was staring at him, and at his look her eyes dilated. Slowly he leaned down, till their noses brushed, their breath warm against their cheeks. Then he caught her mouth.
Eloise relaxed against him; his hands went to her sides, her shirt wrinkling under his hold. Heat rushed through his veins, her lips soft under his, and he pulled her close. He felt her hands go to his shoulders, and run up to his neck, making the skin tingle beneath her touch. Her fingers found his hair and tangled themselves in it, drawing a breath from him.
Their kisses grew more and more urgent, till Eloise was on her toes, and Chase had his arms around her.
The packed bag sat alone and forgotten by the door.