Chapters 1-18 by You're out of your vulcan mind
Chapters 19+ by Mara-DragonMaster
"And once you sign this, you're done." Dr. Travis said kindly as she handed Chase the final release form. He was able to awkwardly sign it with his left hand, the same way he'd signed the million other forms. As he frowned in concentration, he thought it was very inconsiderate of hospitals to force patients to sign forms when their writing hand was incapacitated. Of course fate itself was especially inconsiderate– allowing people to break their writing hand in the first place.
As Dr. Travis left with her mound of forms, Eloise arrived. She'd dressed down: her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she wore a soft pink headband, a large sweatshirt and worn jeans. "Hey," she smiled, stepping into the room with a large shopping bag. "I got you some clothes." Pulling out a sweatshirt and a pair of too-big sweatpants with side-pockets she held them up. Seeing him glance at the pants she looked down at them herself. "They are supposed to be big," she said. "It makes them easier to get into; besides, they're more comfortable this way." She motioned to her own oversized sweatshirt.
Chase nodded gratefully. "Thanks."
Eloise laid out the clothes on the bed, but she let him get dressed on his own, only helping right before he really needed it, puttering around the room when he didn't.
He appreciated that, the small independence she was encouraging while at the same time making sure he didn't get into a hopeless tangle and become frustrated. Once more he found himself wondering what Cameron would have done. She would have dressed him completely. And while his working arm was tangled in the shirt and he was at her mercy, she would have found it the right time to start asking questions about his ordeal. He shook his head. Again he was extremely thankful for Eloise. There would be no hope for him and Cameron if they had to be together for this.
When he was dressed Eloise helped him into the waiting wheelchair, though again she let him do most of the work himself and then she steered him out.
When they left through the front doors and moved out onto the sidewalk, Chase discovered that she had been busy with other things besides shopping. Through a series of phone calls and pulling favors she had managed to secure a wheelchair accessible van "for as long as she needed" or– as she said with a smile– until she destroyed those incriminating Christmas party photos she had managed to procure.
The drive was not short, but it wasn't long either, for which Chase was grateful. They were driving in a relatively easy silence, U2 playing in the background, when a morbid thought entered his mind.
"House will come to my apartment."
Eloise blinked, previously lost in the world of With Or Without You. Glancing at him she tried to follow his train of thought. "How do you figure?"
"You said you've got that distraction thing going on with Wilson. But he'll eventually notice when I don't come in."
"Cuddy will tell him something."
"And that is when he'll come to my apartment." Chase said. "If I'm sick, he needs to get involved so he can torment me. If Cuddy tells him I'm on vacation, then it's the perfect time to go snoop through my stuff, so when I 'get back' he can torment me."
Eloise pulled the corner of her mouth to one side, frowning in thought. Then an idea popped into her head. "There's a lobbyist at your apartment right?"
"D'you get along with her– or him?"
Chase nodded. "Yeah, he's a nice enough guy."
Shrugging, Chase eyed her curiously. "Yeah, I guess."
A girlish grin flashed across her face. "Perfect."
House was about to go crazy. The letter inside the pink, perfumed envelope had been written on thick handmade paper with pressed flowers, and had calligraphy handwriting. The person who wrote it thanked 'James' for the amazing evening they'd had and asked for an encore.
"Sick, sick woman…" House muttered under his breath. She'd just hinted at details of their date, and House had to use his imagination to fill them in. Time to go snooping; House smiled. He knew the perfect person for the job. He sent a page out and waited. And waited. Soon he realized that his blonde doctor was not going to come running to find out what the 'emergency' was. He wasn't even going to call.
Scowling he limped out of his office in search of someone who would help him find Chase so he could find out who that darn mystery woman of Wilson's was, so he could torment Wilson.
Cuddy was in. Of course she came in every day, even on a Sunday. House smiled; good ol' predictable Cuddy. He knew he could count on her.
"Where's Chase?" He announced, waltzing into her office without any warning.
Cuddy looked up, surprised. She had thought– hoped– that House wouldn't miss Chase until Monday. "He's taking some time off."
"Time off?" House's brows pulled together.
"Yes." she nodded. "He has a week off. And you can't bother him."
"I won't bother him." House stated. "I'm going to fire him. Why is he taking a week off?"
"Leave him alone."
"Why is he taking a week off?"
"He is… recuperating." With a look that said 'don't push it' Cuddy went back to the paperwork on her desk.
"Recuperating?" House looked nonplussed. "Recuperating from what?"
She sighed. "I'm sure he can tell you when he gets back."
"You know, patience was never one of my strong points." House mused to himself, then he redirected his words to his boss. "You want him to get some rest, you should tell me why, now."
Cuddy folded her hands on the desk. "Deal without him, leave him alone and you'll get a week off of clinic."
"What's so secret that you would rather bribe me than tell me?"
"He doesn't want anyone bothering him, and I agree that he's better off away from you for a week." Cuddy replied. Her eyes narrowed. "Two weeks from clinic, and you get out of my office now."
House smirked and walked out of her office with a cheerful bounce. He had sauntered a few steps down the hall before it caught up to him that he hadn't really gotten anything out of that encounter at all. It wasn't as if he did his own hours anyway, not when Chase was around. Oh well. Now that he had all this free time, he might as well go find Chase himself.
"And, you're home." Eloise helped Chase and his wheelchair get over the threshold into his apartment, and then she followed him in. It was a small apartment, more like a crash pad than a home, but it was comfortable and well lit.
"You can make yourself comfortable. Help yourself to whatever." Chase called to her as he wheeled himself into his room and shut the door. Eloise put her purse on the kitchen counter, waiting two minutes before following. Chase looked like he was trying to figure out the best way to get into his bed.
"I'm going to run down to the store, get some milk and stuff. Do you want anything specific?" She asked as she pulled the covers down and set it so it was easier to crawl into, all the while moving about like she was just doing something everyday. She acted like she hadn't noticed his predicament and Chase acted like he hadn't needed her help.
"No," Chase said. "Thanks though."
"I'll be back soon then."
"Could you turn off the lights?"
"Sure." Offering a smile, Eloise walked out of the room and clicked off the lights, but then she paused, waiting behind the door until she was sure he had been able to get into bed without a problem.
Chase sighed with relief when he heard the door to his apartment close, and he pulled the blankets close and shut his eyes. He quickly drifted off, helped by the painkillers from the hospital.
He shivered; the apartment had grown cold. He heard a creak, and his eyes shot open. Outside his bedroom door. Someone was here. In the dark his room seemed very, very small– almost like a closet. There! He was definitely sure that he heard a creak this time. Like a footstep outside his door. His heart thudded inside his chest and his breath came short. There were footsteps coming towards him. Heavy, angry footsteps.
Fear welled up in him, as well as a fierce instinct to survive– fight or flight. Chase pushed himself towards the edge of the bed away from the door, but he could still hear them coming. He managed to scoot himself off of the bed and onto the floor, and he edged into the far corner, clutching his right side and gasping through clenched teeth. The shooting pains from his injuries reminded him of what would happen once those footsteps got to him. He tried to make himself as small as possible. Maybe they would pass by, leave him alone. Maybe…
Eloise came back from the store less than fifteen minutes from when she left. She tried to come in quietly, expecting Chase to be sleeping, but the floor kept creaking no matter where she stepped. The apartment was terribly silent. As she emptied the bags and began to put things away she started to hum; she had never been comfortable with silence. Especially when she was alone.
Suddenly Eloise stopped; the apartment wasn't silent. She heard sound coming from Chase's room. But it was muffled– Crap.
She ran to his room. "Chase? Robert?" Opening the door she stepped in, and was met by an empty bed. "Chase?"
There was a slight movement in the far corner. Chase was huddled there, pressed into the corner as though trying to hide. His face was white and drawn, his breath coming in sharp bursts, and his eyes held a furious terror that sent a chill down her spine.
"Hey. Hey, you're all right, I'm here. You're safe." Eloise said softly, her voice almost a whisper as she approached him, her hand held out submissively. Slowly she lowered herself to her knees beside him, and he flinched away from her and her closeness. His breathing quickened, growing harsh. "Shh…" Reaching out Eloise caught him and held him close, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and setting a hand to the back of his neck. He jerked at her touch and strained against her hard embrace, and then he turned into her, pressing his face into the side of her neck, only occasionally making a sound when he drew in a heavy breath of air. "No one's going to hurt you anymore." She continued to whisper sweet nothings into his ear as the tension slowly left him and he grew calm, eventually relaxing completely. She held him still until he started to pull back, eyes closed.
Chase swallowed. "I'm sorry."
"There's nothing to be sorry about." She gently wiped his hair from his face as he leaned back into the wall. Her eyes were soft and concerned. "Did you hurt anything when you got off the bed?"
He shook his head, pressing a hand to his face to wipe away the treacherous evidence of his fear. Blowing out a long breath he dropped his hand and leaned his head back against the wall
She was gentle, the hand she'd used to brush his hair lowering to rest on his knee, her other hand curled tightly in her own lap. "What happened?"
For a moment Chase didn't answer. "He kept me in a room. In a closet." He finally said. "There wasn't any light and the door was always closed. I could always hear him moving around though, hear him coming. Telling me I'd been a horrible son– He kept calling me son–"
She cursed herself for her stupidity. She should have been expecting this, but as she had not pushed for any details she had no idea what could be a trigger. Her eyes were distressed. "I shouldn't have left you alone. I'm so sorry."
"It wasn't your fault." He mumbled.
She bit her lower lip. "Lets get you off the floor. Do you want to try to sleep? Or would you like something to eat?"
Glancing at the bed, Chase banished all thoughts of sleep. Sleep could come later. "Let's eat."
House strolled into the apartment building's lobby. All right; he had done this before. If he looked like he belonged, he could get past that largish looking lobbyist, who looked distracted anyway. He strode, as well as he could with his cane, to the elevators.
"Excuse me sir."
House stopped. Shoot. "Yes?"
"Who are you here to see?"
"And you are?"
"Good friend of his, Eric Foreman." House lied; Foreman had been talking about how he'd never been to Chase's house before a week ago. Hopefully the lobbyist wouldn't catch the 'disguise'.
The lobbyist raised his eyebrows. "Dr. Chase is away. But I will let him know you called."
"I have a key. He told me to come up and check on things."
"Dr. House, I'm going to have to ask you to leave now."
House looked at the man surprised. "My name is–"
The man cut him off. "I know who you are." He pulled up a picture from his desk. It was a snapshot of House doing something at the white board. Under the image was a note written in red marker: 'Under No Circumstances Allow This Man To Enter.' A large arrow pointed at his image and labeled him as Dr. House.
House smiled wryly; typical of Chase to pull something like that. "Alright. Look. I think we can come to some sort of agreement." He reached for his wallet.
"He promised to double whatever you offer me."
House paused, then put back his wallet. "You won't budge huh?"
"What about for–"
"Please get out, or I will call the cops."
"Look. Chase left these really important files in his apartment, and we need them for our patient. He'll die if we don't get the information from those files. Just let me get them and I'll leave."
"I can get them for you."
"You wouldn't know what they look like. C'mon give me a break, a man's life is at stake."
"I'll call Dr. Chase." The lobbyist picked up the phone.
House's ears pricked up. The person who answered was definitely not Chase. He could hear the female voice.
"Dr. House is at the apartment lobby, he says that he needs to get some files for a patient there… I see… Alright… I'm sorry to have disturbed you, Dr. Chase." He hung up and turned to House, who cocked a sideways look at him.
"That wasn't Chase." He pointed out.
"You can't go up." The lobbyist said. Again.
"Hello! Man dying. What would Chase know, he's on vacation."
"I will call the police to escort you from the building."
House sighed dramatically and turned around to leave. "I'll tell the man's widow and six children that we couldn't save her husband because of some pig headed lobbyist."
"You do that sir."
House turned to glare at the man and stalked out with as much of his dignity as he could salvage. He'd get Chase when he got back.