A/N: Wow, I know I was late updating but I'm having a little more trouble with this story than the others. I just can't seem to get Cameron's voice right so I gave up. Hope you like it.
3:33 am January 1, 2006
Foreman found his fellow doctor standing on the top of the hospital roof, much like he thought he would. It wasn't the low two story section they had found Dan on, but the 10 story part attached to the medical school. Foreman hated it because he was more than a little afraid of heights; Chase liked to hang out up there, though, because you could see the river in the distance. He never could understand Chase's weird obsession with watching water move, but then again, Chase couldn't understand Foreman's obsession with fancy cars.
"Hey." Foreman greeted him. He stayed well back from the edge, where Chase was standing, even if there was a short wall acting as a ledge. It said a lot about them. Foreman much preferred to play it safe and stay away from danger. Chase had no problem pushing the envelope and standing right on the edge at least with his physical safety. Foreman figured he had way too much to loose to take too many risks. He really hoped Chase didn't have the opposite opinion that he had nothing to lose, or maybe heights were just the one thing Chase wasn't afraid of.
"Hey yourself. Is Cameron alright?"
"Sure. She'll be fine. She's just PMSing or something." He pulled his lab coat tighter around himself. The storm was still raging around them and ice and snow were blowing under his collar. He was really surprised that the heat loving Aussie was willing standing out in the cold.
"No she isn't. That was two weeks ago."
"How would you know?"
"Because not long ago I had a vested interest in keeping tabs on such things." Foreman was more than surprised, it was the closest thing to an admission that he had slept with Cameron that Foreman had heard yet. "She was trying to get her own way at any cost." He was about to protest but Chase stopped him. "Please, I'm not an idiot. First logic, then sex, then nagging, and finally tears; she was doing it to get me to give in."
"If you knew, then why did you?" Foreman was slightly stunned. He had to admit he admired Chase's almost freakish ability to read people. House had claimed he had hired Foreman because Foreman had street smarts and could tell when he was being hustled. He had left out the fact that Chase was almost inhuman in his ability to determine what people were thinking and feeling and knew way more about drugs than either himself or Cameron. He guessed that had a lot to do with the way Chase had been brought up. It was a very common trait among adult survivours of alcoholism and abuse; it just usually wasn't so blatant in men. But Foreman could easily one up him by at least knowing how to dress like a grown up.
"Because I was screwed no matter what I did. If I didn't agree with her she would keep hounding me until I did. It was just easier to give in now. Plus, if I didn't, she would forever think of me as heartless. But if I did give in, I'm the only one who gets angry at me. Luckily I've gotten used to ignoring it, when I give myself the cold shoulder." He stated wryly, then added embarrassed. "And I can't stand it, when people cry. I fold like house of cards."
"I see, I'll have to remember that. Speaking of your cold shoulder, are you planning to take this out on Cameron later?" Foreman was more concerned about this than anything. He had once been on the receiving end of Chase's passive aggressive torture techniques and it was more frustrating than dealing with House. House would usually rise to fight back so that you could eventually work your problems out. Chase would ignore you or snub you. He made you alternately feel like you wanted to strangle him or fall down on your knees and beg for forgiveness. He didn't want Cameron to have to go through that because he had no doubt that Chase would make her crack completely.
"Because she doesn't deserve it. She is just doing what she thinks is right." Foreman tried to defend her.
"No, she is emotionally blackmailing everyone else into doing what she thinks is right, even though she is wrong."
"Is that any different than what House does every minute of every day?"
"No, but do House and I seem like good friends to you?"
"House does it for the good of the patient, to find a way to treat them or because he is bored. Cameron is doing it to make herself feel better at the expense of everyone else."
"At the expense of who? This one little, white lie won't hurt anyone and will make a big difference to them. Accept it and move on. Don't blame Cameron because Daddy Chase didn't dress up as Santa and come down the chimney for you, when you were a little boy, and so now you have no concept of how it feels to be sentimental about the holidays."
"Why does everyone assume that everything about me has something to do with my father?" Chase snapped.
"I was joking. What the hell is wrong with you today?" Foreman asked. It wasn't like Chase to not be able to take a joke. With anyone else, he might have just assumed it was from the stress around the hospital but he had learned that the more crazy and hectic things were, the calmer Chase usually was. He only ever seemed to freak out after everything was said and done. He watched his colleague take a deep breath and pull his shoulders back from their previous slump.
"Nothing's wrong. I have to go talk to the family." He was like an actor preparing for a role, which was one of Foreman's biggest problems with him, his perceived dishonesty. Foreman was a straight shooter and liked everything to be on a level playing field. He couldn't stand the way Chase seemed to never be completely honest about anything, from his medical history, to his family history, even to his general personality. Chase hid behind masks, misconceptions, and stereotypes so that no one ever knew him well enough to get close to him. It just frustrated the hell out of Foreman because he hated subtexts. It was also one of the many reasons House tended to get on his nerves.
"If you really disagreed that much with Cameron, then why didn't you fight more? Why don't you learn to get a damn backbone and stand up for what you believe in?" Foreman asked him. He had to admit he had been a little proud of his coworker. It wasn't often Chase tried to make people side with him. The only time he could remember Chase doing it was when Rowan had been there and it was clear as day that had had little to do with the medical diagnosis and more to do with Chase trying to hide his mild nervous breakdown.
"I told you, there was no point."
"If you were willing to argue about it for as long as you did, then there was a point. You have got to be the weakest coward I have ever met, about as tough as a wet piece of spaghetti." The derision in his voice evident.
"I've never been to California, but have you ever sat there during the monsoon and watched a cyclone role in?"
"Most people run for cover during tornados, Chase." Foreman sighed, Chase's weird non sequitur responses were another reason he got mad at his coworker.
"Not tornados, typhoons." He corrected, not realizing that Americans used cyclone to describe something else.
"Hurricanes, no. They aren't real common in LA. Why?" Foreman crossed his arms over his chest and tucked his hands under them. He was cold and wanted to go back inside. He hated to admit that he didn't have that much better of a cold tolerance than Chase did. Lightening arced through the sky, painting after images on his eyes.
"They're insane. It rains so hard you can't breathe and it feels like your drowning. The wind is so strong that you feel like if you stood on top of a building and lifted your arms you could fly away." Foreman took an involuntary step back, not comfortable with the idea of flying off of any roof even though he knew the wind was not strong enough to move him. "When I was kid, we lived right up on the beach outside of Melbourne." Foreman's eyes widened with shock. Chase never spontaneously shared things about himself with people. He just didn't do it. It would be like House giving someone a comforting hug. "The storms there were nothing like they were in Sydney or Brisbane because Melbourne is pretty well protected but we still got the tail end of storms every year. Our next door neighbour had a boathouse on a little dock down along the surf, right in the middle of a patch of reeds. Every year during the monsoon, a storm would roll in flood and or blow down the stupid thing. One year I remember they had spent a bunch of money getting an engineer to come and build it with concrete piers and everything. That year I remember sitting up in my room and watching out of the window as a storm tore it to little pieces and strewed it all over the beach. That year the wind was blowing so hard the reeds were bent almost over to the ground. They tried teak beams and steel girders but every year the damn thing blew down."
"So they should have built it out of bricks and moved on, what the hell is the point of this." Foreman snapped. The wind circled about them both, blowing Chase's hair and coat around him, making him look like a cross between Marilyn Monroe and a mad scientist.
"No matter how strong the house was or how they tried to re enforce it, something could always pull it down. But when the rains were over and the water receded, the reeds would still be there, a little battered and a little bent but still there."
"And the moral of that story is that you should always trust nature over manmade?" Foreman asked.
"No, but there's more than one type of strength and things that don't know how to bend will eventually break."
Foreman took a deep breath. "And you are a master at bending over backwards." He hated it when Chase got into philosophical moods because he was usually right. He blamed it on growing up too close to Japan and China. He knew he needed to take things back to a more comfortable ground for both of them. He wasn't happy with self analysis and Chase wasn't happy with sharing personal things. Jokes were the common ground between them so he went there. "That was beautiful, maybe you should put it on a fortune cookie along with your tonsil story. But it is way too late to be that philosophical and we have a patient's family to lie to."
"Then I guess I should go lie to them." He said dejectedly.
"I'll go with you. We'll keep this short and sweet." Foreman counseled. Chase nodded and they headed back in.
4:07 am January 1st 2006
"Hello," Chase followed Foreman into the Mansfield's room, feeling butterflies swirl around his stomach. He took a deep breath and tried to remind himself that he had lied to patients repeatedly. But he knew this was different. Before he lied to save lives, now he lied to save one of his coworker's feelings. Funny how Foreman was doing everything he could think of to save Cameron from herself but didn't miss an opportunity to rub his nose in Kayla's death.
"Dr. Chase, Dr. Foreman." Mr. Mansfield rose to greet him, extending a large callused hand. Chase accepted it, looking down at Diana and noticing that her hands were starting the curl back towards her forearms. It was a sure sign of sever neural impairment.
"How is she doing?" Chase asked just to cover up the noise of the ventilator and the beeping of the stat monitor. Normally those sounds soothed him but now the rankled.
"You tell us. You're the doctors." Mrs. Mansfield snapped.
Chase sighed. It was a stupid question and he deserved to get yelled at. "We have the results of her latest MRI." He chose to remain standing; he didn't want them to ask him questions. "It doesn't look encouraging."
"But the other doctor said there was a chance she could get better." The wife again. All Chase could think about when he looked at her, was that you could drive a truck through the gap in her front teeth.
"There is a chance, but a very small one. You basically have a choice." Foreman began and every fibre of Chase's being wanted to tell Foreman to shut up and let him tell them the truth but he didn't. "Diana has had a severe brain injury. There is a better than average chance that she will never wake up and if she does she will not be the same girl you remember." The two clutched each other. Foreman waited for them to refocus on him. "There is really only one thing we can try that might help, and keep in mind it is a long shot, and that is putting her into a chemical coma in hopes that the damage will heal itself."
"Can't anyone operate?" The father asked, not really understanding the nature of the injury.
"I'm afraid not. Even if the surgeons weren't stretched to the breaking point right now with all the injured from the accidents, surgery still wouldn't help."
"Why not?" Mrs. Mansfield questioned.
"It's complicated, just trust us. There is nothing they can do. Putting her in a coma is her only hope, but we need your signatures."
"A coma, I don't understand." Mr. Mansfield interrupted Foreman.
Chase pulled out the film of the most recent MRI he had ordered. He had done it just so the parent had thought they were doing something. He pointed to a bright splotch surrounded by darker shades. "That is a piece of Diana's skull, lodged in the base of her brain. All of this around it is fluid rushing to the area, making it swell. Surgeons couldn't risk operating until the swelling went down. That is why we are proposing placing her under heavy sedation."
"But a coma, what will that do?" The father asked, as he clutched his wife's hand. Foreman was vaguely amused that they were so blatant in their favouritism towards Chase. Unlike Cameron, he wasn't insulted by it. It was no different than the unfaithful wife, who had trusted Cameron or Clarence the death row inmate who had opened up to Foreman. It was all about comfort zones and Chase spoke their language like they were used to and understood their analogies. It was fine with him really, let Chase simper and smirk to charm people, he would rather do the thinking anyway.
Chase switched off the light board and took down the films. "The piece of bone and the accompanied swelling is pressing into her brainstem, the part that controls autonomic functions, her ability to breath, her ability to regulate blood pressure, her heartbeat. The swelling is telling her heart to beat too fast and her lungs to work too slow and her blood pressure to go too high. The faster her heart beats and the higher her blood pressure, the more blood ends up pooling in the site of the injury. By placing her in an extremely depressed state, in the ICU we call it heavy sedation not a chemical coma," he shot a look at Foreman. Chemical coma was an outdated name for the procedure that usually scared the hell out of people. "We anesthetize her like we would if she were going in for surgery. It's different from a true coma because we can wake her up and put her back to sleep fairly easily by adjusting the dosages. Once she is asleep, we will take over control of most of her functions for her so we can regulate them. Basically it is like putting her in hibernation, and by doing that we hope to prevent more fluid from collecting around the injury and allow some to drain away. If that happens then there might be a chance that a surgeon can remove the bone and not risk a further bleed."
"But how will waiting help?"
Foreman shifted from one foot to the other. He hated when families questioned them this much. It wasn't like they were ever going to really understand what was happening. But Chase tried to explain anyway. "Leave it to an Aussie to bring beer into it, but the best way I can think to explain it is like opening a shaken beer. If you open it immediately, the beer explodes and goes everywhere but if you wait until everything has settled down then you can open it and not get coated in liquor. The blood in your daughter's brain is sort of like the beer. If we remove the bone now, we risk her bleeding to death even if the surgeons could get to the bone without destroying too much brain tissue. But if we wait, then the swelling might reduce enough to actually get to the bone fragment and remove it without killing her. Waiting is really the only chance."
"Are there risks?" Not surprisingly, the mother was regaining her composure first. Chase had learned after years of telling families bad news, that mothers usually reacted the worst at first but usually pulled themselves back together and functioning much faster than fathers.
Foreman and Chase looked at each other and Foreman gestured for him to explain. They both knew that there was virtually no risk because they couldn't really make things any worse but they had to maintain appearances. "Prolonged sedation can lead to depressed brain function or fungal lung infections but that isn't really an issue here because we'll know within 24 hours or so if it is working. There is also a risk that she will throw a clot."
"How?" The mother again.
"Like I said, we are going to depress her systems so her blood won't be moving as fast or with as much force as it normally does. There is a risk that platelets could collect and form clots cutting off blood to any of her organs. Normally we can prevent this by using a cocktail of blood thinners but they are contraindicated in this case because of the bleeding in her brain. So we will monitor her for any change in her functions to determine if there is a clot."
"What if we don't do anything?" The father tried.
"Then she'll die." Foreman stepped in. This was taking way too long. He was beginning to side with Chase and think this was a really cruel trick to play on these people and he didn't like agreeing with Chase over anything. "This is her only chance."
They looked over at Chase and he shook his head to show he agreed with Foreman. "Then let's do it." The mother answered for them both.
"I'll be back with the drugs in a few minutes." Chase answered and left, Foreman trailing behind him.
Foreman stopped him once they were out of earshot. "What happened to in and out as quick as possible?"
"They deserve to at least be given some explanation." Chase looked down and defended himself. He seemed like a penitent child trying to make excuses for stupid behaviour.
"Are you sure you and Cam didn't switch bodies or something or is this all some elaborate prank?" Foreman joked then headed off to check on his other patients.
5:21 am January 1st 2006
Cameron was waiting for Chase outside of the Diana's room after he administered the barbiturates to her. She had been watching him to make sure he didn't slip up, not that she thought he would but he wasn't a very good liar. At least, she didn't think he was a very good liar, which was why she couldn't understand how patient's kept falling for his stupid tonsil story. Maybe he had just practiced that one enough times that it sounded realistic.
She watched him stand and fiddle with a few things, injecting three medications into one of her two IVs, then bow his head and walk out. As soon as he saw her, he turned and headed the other way. She easily caught up with him even in the congested hallway.
"What did you tell them?" She asked, alarmed at how teary eyed the mother had looked.
"Foreman and I told them that she was critical but we were going to try inducing a coma in hopes of lowering her blood pressure enough to heal the damage in her brain." He told her then hit the button for the lift. He looked down at the file of some dead guy he was still carrying around because he had twice forgotten to drop it off at the nurses' station.
"What did you give her and why were you doing it?"
"Benzo, Heparin, and Regitine. And no anaesthetist in there right mind would bother with her."
"But those won't help her at all and its anesthesiologist." Benzo was short for Benzodiazepine, a class of drug that included Valium and was often used to keep intubated patients calm. Chase was very liberal with its use when he had patients who were forced into long term orotracheal intubation with inflatable cuffs. Without it, the patient was stuck awake with a painfully ridged tube in there throats, making them cough and gag. Heparin was a blood thinner and Regitine a vascular dilator.
"Whatever." He snapped, tired and tired of being corrected. "And no, they won't help her, but nothing will at this point. They will hopefully keep her organs viable enough for transplant if the family so chooses." He pointed out, still annoyed beyond reason at Cameron.
"I guess that's good then." She smiled at him. It was a good cover story, even something that was often done for stroke patients.
"Great." He deadpanned and gave up waiting for the lift and headed towards the stairs, she followed content to continue beating a dead horse.
"We are doing the right thing."
"Just because you keep saying that doesn't make it true, you know." He tried to slam the door before she could follow him, but she was faster and he didn't want to risk hurting her with the heavy door. He considered going into the men's room but she would probably just follow him there too.
"It is right. They will be happier in the long run when they have this final holiday to remember their daughter by."
"I'm sure they will have a hard time forgetting it since they are going to be paying for it for years to come."
"It will be hard but, believe me, if they knew what you were doing they would thank you."
"No they wouldn't. No one ever thanks me." She couldn't argue with that. Intensivists were routinely forgotten by patients since they usually weren't conscious enough to remember all the hard work that the intensivist put into them. Cameron still had a laugh thinking about the poisoned teen with the pushy mother. She had said that House and Foreman had saved her son's life even though Chase had run three arrests, multiple seizures, and slept on a gurney between his and the other teen's door for two days. Luckily Chase only seemed to care about getting recognition from House, which he also never got.
"Yes they would." She said softly, trying to make him feel better. She had no idea why he had dug he heels in about this but she was starting to think there was more behind it than Chase's habitual desire to avoid working on anything even remotely unpleasant.
"Do you really think that a school teacher and stay at home mum are going to thank me, when they get the bill for these 'few precious hour' we are granting them?" He finally snapped. This whole thing was proving to be a great deal harder than he thought it would be. He wanted to yell at someone and since the person he was the most angry at was cold in the ground back home in Melbourne, he took it out on the person he was the second most angry with and who also happened to be right in front of him.
"You are putting a price on a human life?" He stood aghast, never thinking that Chase would do such a thing.
"No, but if I were it would be a pretty hefty price. Since a room in the PICU alone costs $5,000 a night; the ventilator costs about $200 an hour; just having me walk in there costs another $3,000 and another $1000ish every time after the first that I go back in there, assuming of course I bill through the ICU like I'm supposed to if I'm working on anything other than a direct diagnosis. Then there are the meds that are probably another $1,000; the nursing staff another $5,000; the tests we unnecessarily ran on her so I could prescribe the meds ran another $20,000; all of which would have been picked up by the Organ donation board had we told them from the beginning rather than waiting. So they will owe roughly $35,000 so you don't have problems sleeping at night."
Any worry or sympathy she had for him evaporated in that moment and she struck out at him. "Leave it to you to reduce a family's piece of mind to a cash value."
"And leave it to you to forget all practical considerations, when trying to attain a state of Nirvana like happiness in the world." He derided her.
"Their insurance will cover it." She tried in vain to convince him. She hadn't even considered the monetary aspect of what they were doing.
"They come from the land of socialized medicine, they don't have insurance." He told her exasperated.
"They have socialized medicine in Australia?" She tried to divert his attention. She seemed to recall Chase mentioning that they had socialized medicine as the reason he was perpetually baffled by filling out billing sheets.
"They're English, you idiot. What the hell is wrong with you people? England and Australia are two different countries on opposite sides of the world. No Aussie in their right mind would wear a British Cricket shirt, nor would they have an accent like theirs."
"I was just trying to joke with you like House does." She said in a small voice. She had actually thought they were Australian but she wasn't about to admit that. She had made the reverse error with Chase, when she had first met him. She hadn't found out where he was from until she had known him for nearly two months.
"Give up, House actually knows the difference. He just does it to annoy me and I pretend I'm annoyed to make him happy." He snapped. "Maybe one day you will learn that there is a big, wide world that has nothing to do with you." He mocked her and left her in the stairwell, seething. She had won, Chase was doing what she wanted but at what price. Had she ruined the fragile truce they had set up?
6:59 am January 1st 2006
Cameron found Foreman in 4th floor ICU looking in on a patient. She pulled the chart down and looked at it, Roger Philips. Chase and Wilson were listed as the attendings. She looked over at Foreman quizzically. Wilson had called Chase in as one of the specialists on Mr. Philips's treatment team when he needed to be transferred to the ICU. She remembered that Chase had balked at the idea of working on him, but Wilson eventually guilted him into it. He had been obsessing about it ever since. That had been almost two months ago.
"Chase wanted a second opinion on this guy's neurological state." He answered the questioning look in Cameron's eyes.
"And?" She didn't have long, she was due back in the lab soon but she wanted to talk to Foreman first.
"Tough to tell with him this heavily sedated. I'll have to come back and check later. The guy has terminal lung cancer and a severe fungal lesions on his brain, seems sort of pointless to even bother. I just came now to shut Chase up." He smiled over at her.
"Yeah, he's in a mood today." She put the chart back and followed Foreman out of the room.
"He's stressed out, everyone is."
"I never thought I would live to see the day that you defended Chase." She teased.
"I'm not defending him per se, just offering an explanation." He tugged her hair playfully like he used to do to his little sister. Cameron was one of the few things that had made the move to this small city and this stressful hospital bearable.
She sighed and lost the smile on her face. "He's pretty pissed at me, isn't he?" She sounded like a lost child.
"He'll get over it." Foreman was sure that Chase would eventually get over it or his fellowship would end, which ever came first.
"You think so?" She really didn't like the idea of Chase being mad at her. With House, it was sort of a uniting factor between them. If House was mad at someone, then the others banded together to make them feel better, unless it was Chase then they pretended nothing had happened because House always seemed to be mad at Chase. But having him mad at her just seemed wrong, Chase never got mad at anyone.
"You know him; he doesn't stay mad at people for long." He clapped her on the back as she turned off to go to the lab, knowing that he was lying through his teeth. If he had learned anything about his blond co worker, it was that he might act like everything is fine but deep down he held grudges.
"I hope, the last time we were fighting about something I quit my job." She pointed out.
"If it comes to that this time, I'll make sure he quits." Foreman joked as he headed out of the room, leaving the heavily drugged man attached to the ventilators to vegetate awhile longer.
9:34 am January 1st, 2006
Chase dodged around a fast moving gurney as he returned to the ER. He had received a page that he needed to head back down there as soon as possible. He had found enough reasons to avoid going back there so now he had no choice but to return to the hustle and bustle of the ER. Several nurses were standing around a gurney, Chase joined them, assuming that was where he was needed.
"Chase, I've been waiting for you." Dr. Hope Gardner said. She was seated on a stool beside the gurney, at its head stood a short, ugly, hairy, hairy man, with no chin, bad teeth, and a receding hairline. Chase recognized him immediately as Dr. Gardner's husband, not the most attractive people in the world.
"What's up?" He asked as he came to stand beside her. She handed him a neatly wrapped egg sandwich with vegemite and sprouts, no mayonnaise, just he way he liked it. It wasn't until then he realized how hungry he was.
"I love you, Hope." He told her breathlessly as he started to drool at the sight of the food.
"Don't profess love for me, my husband brought them." There was enough food for the entire department, all neatly wrapped. Chase had almost forgotten that her husband owned a very successful catering company.
"Then I love you." He looked over at her husband, Mike. "If you weren't already married I'd snap you up for myself." He teased, taking a bite of his sandwich. It was perfect.
"Should I be worried that you are no longer in love with me?" Dr. Gardner asked him.
"I do still love you, but he's a better cook." He smiled. "And because I love you, you should go home." He looked at her critically. She looked tired.
"I'm fine. I can still do light work, screening and such. I'll be out for three months are you trying to get rid of me already?" She deadpanned. She knew she should probably go home but she felt guilty at the idea of leaving, while everyone else was still working.
"No, I'll miss you horribly and probably loose 10 pounds because you won't be here to feed and water me. House always forgets, rarely wants to play ball, and never takes me out for walks." He pouted. "However, I really don't want to have to deliver your twins, when you work yourself into labour. Childbirth grosses me out."
"You do know that is what that warm, moist spot between a woman's legs is actually for, right."
"Right?" He scoffed, flipping his hair and purposely looking clueless, "next you'll tell me breasts are meant as something other than pillows."
"You're hopeless." She joked with him, as he gave her a friendly kiss on the top of the head. He had managed to make everyone there smile, which was what they needed. He had really needed it too.
His relaxing time was soon interrupted by a page as he had to return to the fourth floor. It was his turn to be responsible for the second and fourth floor ICUs so he was trolling around them, looking for anything that needed to be done. He lingered in Mr. Philip's room for longer than necessary. He knew nothing about this man other than he had a son, who was his next of kin and that he was probably never going to wake up. They had been trying to reach his son all night, with little success. Mr. Philips may very well die before his son made it to the hospital.
Wilson had dragged Chase kicking and screaming onto his case two months ago when the patient had developed a bacterial infection and a 105 degree fever. Ever since then, he had had a really hard time dealing with the man's approaching demise. He knew he was projecting, he knew he was being ridiculous, and he knew that nothing would make him stop. They were all basically on a death watch with Mr. Philips now. Chase just wanted to have Wilson, as his oncologist, make the final call even though he knew there was nothing more that could be done. He just could bring himself to admit it was over. Maybe he wasn't really any different than Cameron, he was just much better at hiding it. The thought made him queasy so he left.
He made his rounds quickly and realized that there was very little he could do so he headed back to their office to grab some tea to take to the Mansfields. There, he found Cameron asleep in the chair. Here hair was out and her scrubs were wrinkled. She had her shoes kicked off and her coat was meant to be covering her but it had slipped down around her waist.
He stopped and watched her for a moment. She shivered slightly in the cool, dry hospital air. He tucked the tea bags into his pocket and walked into House's office proper. He opened the bottom drawer of Houses cabinet, quietly and pulled out a thin, blue blanket House had stolen from the maternity ward. He draped the soft fabric over her, without her so much as stirring. He knew it was partially because of his skill and partially because of how tired she was.
He wanted to be mad at her, he wanted to be able to smack her down and punish her for hurting him but he couldn't. All he could do was think about what she had said, maybe he was being unreasonable. She was probably right, she had known a lot of heartache, he thought. But part of him couldn't stop remembering how it had felt to be blindsided by his father's death. How bad it had been to realize that all the time he had thought things were fine, had been a lie. That, yes it would still have hurt but not nearly as badly if he had just had a chance to prepare, if only one person had thought about what he would have wanted rather than making those decisions for him.
That had been what had actually made him tear up in front of House the day before the peer review. It hadn't been that his father was gone, or that he was getting sued, or even that Foreman had said such awful things about him (yeah he knew, lab techs had big mouths). It had been that House had had more respect for Rowan than for him. House had met and talked to Rowan for all of 10 hours in his life but had been working with Robert for over a year and in all that time he still didn't respect him enough to tell him the truth. Rowan had done what Chase had never been able to do, get House to respect his privacy. That was what had made him feel like he had been horse kicked in the chest. That was what had made him go home and run until he could barely breathe and he could blame the salty water dripping from his face on sweat.
Cameron had done something similar to him, when Rowan was there. She had cornered him and made him feel like a monster for not being nicer to his father. He wished now he had listened to her. She had been right, not that Rowan hadn't done anything wrong, but that Chase should have ignored it. He should have swallowed how upset he was and he should have begged his father to stay for a drink. He should never have been rude or snippy to him. He should have never brought up his mother. He should not have let anyone know that he was angry. He should have told his father that he loved him. Maybe the way he had acted had been the reason Rowan hadn't said anything to him? Maybe if he had been nicer and more loving then Rowan would have wanted to have him around at the end?
She had been right then, maybe she was right now. He hadn't been willing to tell Foreman that but deep down that was what he was afraid of. He had just felt totally off kilter ever since Rowan had died. He had been vacillating between feeling even more distant than usual to feeling more needy than he had in years. He had let himself be swayed by a nine year old because all he could think about was that he hadn't been there to give his father a last wish. Then he had slept with Cameron because he wanted someone, anyone to spend time with him just so he didn't have to be alone. Things had gotten worse after he had found out House had known. It had started to erode away his confidence in himself. How had House figured out Rowan had been sick if his own son hadn't seen it? How good of a diagnostician could he be if he had missed terminal cancer in his own father?
All these things were swimming around in his head as he tucked the blanket around Cameron. He had taken a stand on a gut reaction to what they were going to do. But he had done other things based on foolishly trusting himself and they had all blown up in his face. This probably would too, so he had decided to give in and agree. She was probably right anyway.
He straightened up and resisted the urge to lay a soft kiss on her forehead. They were coworkers, nothing else. Instead he headed back out into the hall and to Diana's room. He paused in front of the door, offering a silent prayer that they were doing the right thing. He wasn't sure that he trusted God anymore than he trusted himself or Cameron but unlike everyone else, at least God pretended to listen to what he said. He plastered a fake smile on his face and walked in.
"Good morning, Dr. Chase." The mother greeted, somewhat chipper. "I think she is doing a little better, " she smiled. "Her breathing seems much easier than before."
Chase smiled back and had to stop himself from pointing out that was because her body's natural desire to breathe on its own was completely gone and no longer warring with the ventilator. The woman's optimism made him want to throw up. "That's could be encouraging." He answered noncommittally as he examined the chart. The nurses had kept up with the meds to ready her for donation surgery without even asking questions. God, he loved overworked nurses. He would have to remember to get flowers for their station to thank them for being totally unobservant to the fact that she hadn't actually been added to the donor list yet.
"So, can you tell us anything?" This time it was the father. The man had been dozing in a pullout chair on the other side of the room but now had risen to stand beside them. He saw the hopeful smile on his wife's face and Chase saw that same hope reflected in the father's eyes. He was back to being angry at Cameron.
"It's far too early to tell but I do have something that will at least brighten your morning if not your outlook." He produced his last two Typhoo teabags from his pocket, reluctantly handing them over. "The stuff they stock in the cafeteria downstairs is some sort of orange pekoe nonsense that is completely vile, only and American would drink it."
"Thank you, Dr. Chase, I was wondering where you got a proper cup of tea 'round here." The father joked.
"Don't even try. I learned the hard way that if you go to a restaurant and order tea, they bring you a light brown liquid with ice floating in it. It's just weird." He smiled, charmingly at them. "If you need anything else, just have one of the nurses page me. If I'm in surgery then ask for Drs Cameron or Foreman." He then left quickly, not wanting to look at the hope and trust in there faces anymore. He finished his rounds and retired to eat his breakfast. His anger towards Cameron had been rekindled so he didn't want to go back to their department. He chose instead to go to the chapel. He knew she wouldn't go in there nor would she likely think to look for him there either.
10:48 am January 1st 2006
Cameron woke from her two hour nap with 12 minutes to spare. It was an uncanny ability that many doctors developed, the ability to gauge time, even in sleep. Wilson was the only doctor she knew, who wasn't good at it. But then again, he had an entire staff of people to handle things so he didn't have to. She had expected to wake, cramped and cold like she normally did, when napping in House's chair. But she noticed that she felt warm and comfortable because someone had put a blanket over her. She was still cramped though.
She stood up, trying to stretch the kinks out and decided to go and thank Foreman for the blanket. After a quick chat, she found out that Foreman had been busy for the last three hours and hadn't come near the office. She pondered whether House had returned or maybe Wilson. No one else in the hospital except for Cuddy would have gone into House's office and she doubted Cuddy would have left her sleeping. That left only Chase as the culprit. She headed to find him and thank him.
It turned out it took her nearly 20 minutes to track him down, he was hiding and not in any of his or House's usual spots. The only reason she had even found him was that April had mentioned that she had seen him go into the Chapel. Without thinking on it a moment, she barged her way into the chapel and sat down beside him. He was eating sandwich and drinking tea, his concentration focused on a file he was reading. They were more notes for an upcoming surgery.
"Chase," she slid into the pew beside him, making him jump. She hid a smile at his reaction. Her and her brother had spent many years perfecting their abilities to sneak up on each other but Chase wasn't even a challenge. He had to be one of the most oblivious people she had ever met. Now House, he was a challenge.
"God, Cameron, can't someone get a moments peace from you?" He snapped, embarrassed at his lapse.
"If you are asking God for the answer, then here would be a good place to do it." She joked as she stared hungrily at his breakfast. She hadn't eaten since last night and was starving. Without being asked, he tore off a quarter of his sandwich, removed the top bun and replaced it with another piece of the bottom bun so there would be no vegemite on it, then handed it to Cameron. Just because he was still mad at her didn't mean he would let her go hungry or maybe he was just that much of a doormat. She smiled at him, expecting him to do nothing less. One of the few perks of being the only girl in the department was the ability to steal other people's food with impunity. Though to be fair, House was constantly stealing Chase's food and then criticizing the Aussie's tastes and ability to cook. "This is good, thanks."
"You're welcome. What did you want?" He bluntly asked her as she took his tea cup and drank some. He had been reduced to drinking the disgusting tea in the cafeteria. It was almost bad enough to make him drink coffee instead.
"I think I owe you a thank you." She told him as she finished her part of the sandwich.
"For what?" He was tired, bitter, and in no mood to talk to her. He had come to the chapel as a sort of penance. He had wanted to go to Mass today and light a candle for his father's birthday but Cuddy would skin him alive if he left the hospital. He tried to tell himself it didn't matter to him that he had missed his chance to pay his respects but the knew it was as much of a lie as when he told himself that lying to Diana's parents didn't bother him. He just wished that he knew how his father was still managing to domineer and intimidate him even from beyond the grave.
"For covering me up. That was very nice of you. That's the Chase I remember." She told him. He had been acting strange the last few weeks. Much moodier than usual then he would be even more flat than normal. She had actually been a little worried about him just before Christmas because he had seemed so down but then she had ceased caring because he had offered to work an entire shift for her so she could go home for five days straight.
"You looked cold." He told her by way of an explanation. He thought she looked rather sexy right now, with no make up and her hair down. He tended to prefer more organic woman to the heavily coiffed type.
She sighed and decided now would be a good time to tell Chase how much she appreciated his decision to go along with her. It meant a lot to her that he was willing to agree she was right. "Chase, I just wanted to tell you that," was as far as she got.
"Stop it." He snapped. "I don't agree with you. I still think what we are doing is wrong but it is just a whole lot less trouble to go along with it than to argue with you. You got your way. Just let it go." He stood up and left. He would go and scrub for surgery early just to get away from her.
Cameron watched him go, feeling equal parts sad and annoyed. She was sad because she could tell that Chase was upset and she hated it when something she did upset someone else. But she was annoyed because he seemed unable to express sadness or displeasure as anything other than sarcasm or sulking. She wanted to shake him and make him tell her he was pissed and why but she knew it would do any good. He would either say nothing or crack some unbelievably mean and hurtful joke to deflect the attention away from him. She watched him and House do that same dance at least once a week. She was beginning to think there was far more to his resistance than his desire to not work. House knew what was up with him but he wasn't talking either and damn it, she wanted to know. She would find out, eventually, she knew she would. She just had to wait long enough.
3:00 am January 2nd 2006
Chase stood outside of the Diana's door and took a deep breath. Linda Mckenzie, from the Organ Procurement board, peered down and her shoes with a bland look on her face. She was overweight and pale, with a visible mustache, short nose and puckery mouth covered in too bright red lipstick. She was tired and unfazed by Chase's reticence to face the family. He slid the door opened, giving them a tight lipped smile. All he could think about was the moment he had heard his father had both died and lied to him. It had been like getting simultaneously kicked in the face and the stomach.
"So what have the tests shown you?" The mother jumped up immediately. Chase wondered if she had slept at all, since they had arrived here.
"Bad news I'm afraid." Chase told them, and motioned for them to move towards the two chairs in the corner. He hooked the stool and rolled it over, let Linda fend for herself. She threw him a nasty look as she was left standing. He almost relented and gave into his years of polite social training but didn't. Right now he needed to be on eye level with them. "Diana's latest test confirm what we were afraid of, she is brain dead. I'm sorry." Chase fudged his response. There was no real definitive, quantifiable test for brain death, much like depression it was determined by weighing factors.
They were, of course, shocked and dismayed. Much as Chase had assumed, the mother recovered first. "But how, she's still breathing, her heart is still beating?"
Chase tried to ignore it, as Cameron slid in, wanting to be there in case the family needed her. But another weaker part of her, wanted to be present to see if Chase would trip up and admit what they had done. "That isn't entirely true. We are breathing for her. She has no brain function left. Everything that your little girl was, is already gone, her heart just hasn't realized it yet." He told them sympathetically. He had done this so many times before it was almost like reciting lines in a play. He took comfort in the predictability of it.
"But what about her heart beat? Doesn't that mean there is hope?" Her father asked. Cameron's heart nearly skipped a beat at the pain in his voice.
"I'm afraid not. The best way to describe it is that heart has its own rhythm that can remain unaffected by everything else. Basically it is like the battery in the motherboard of a computer that keeps time on the clock. The computer can be unplugged but the battery doesn't realize it. Diana's heart hasn't realized that her brain is dead yet." He looked from the mother to father, making sure they understood him.
"So there is nothing more you can do?" The father choked out.
"I'm sorry, no there isn't."
"What will happen now?" The mother wiped her tears away, trying to appear brave.
"That's really up to you."
"Hello," the organ ghoul butted her way in, "my name is Linda McKenzie, and I'm with the New Jersey Organ Procurement Board." She began to go through her explanations and sales pitch for giving their daughter's organs away. Chase left before she was even a third of the way through. Cameron met him outside.
"You handled that well." She complimented him.
" Lot's of experience." He told her as he began to walk away. He didn't feel like dealing with anyone right now. She didn't let him go though.
"You have to understand that we did the right thing." Cameron stopped him.
"Did waiting make her any less dead? Did waiting make it any easier for them to take her home and burry her? No, all it did was cost them a whole bunch of money they probably can't afford, make it even harder for them to face the fact that she is gone, and cause us to be at each other's throats when we should have been watching each other's backs."
"Chase, I" She started, unable to think what to say next. She didn't like fighting with Chase.
"You, what?" He asked her coldly but before she could answer, the door opened and the father called him back in.
"Dr. Chase, you have been so good to us, we just wanted to thank you." He extended his hand.
"Please, don't." Chase told him. This was just adding to his guilt.
"I was hoping you could answer a few more questions for us?"
"I can't give you any advice about whether to donate her organs. It's against hospital policy for me to try and sway you one way or another." He pointed out.
"No, we are just concerned about the mechanics of it. That woman isn't being particularly forthcoming about what will happen to her, if we" He trailed off.
"Of course." He raised his arm to motion for Mr. Mansfield to precede him in. Cameron followed, disregarding Chase's glare.
"What will happen if we don't agree to donate her organs?" The mother asked, her voice sounding hollow and numb.
"Either way we will bring you paperwork to sign that states you have been advised of her condition and you consenting to cease all extra ordinary life saving procedures. That is basically a long way of saying that you understand that she is brain dead and are willing to turn off the ventilators. We will then disconnect the tubes from the machine and she will stop breathing. Once her heart stops beating we will call the time of death and the body will be removed." The two grasped each other's hands. He hoped that they had a chance to work through this. He hoped they weren't one of the many families that were destroyed after such a tragedy.
"If you choose to donate her organs, then we will bring you a different set of papers to sign. We will call the time of death but she will stay as she is now until surgery can be scheduled. When it is, you will be given a chance to say goodbye to her before she is take in. The surgeons will then remove all of the organs and tissues that you agree to."
"Will it hurt her, to have her organ's removed?" The mother again. She continued to stroke her daughter's hair and Chase wished more than anything that Diana could feel it. He wanted to make Cameron answer because he wanted to hurt her. Her brilliant plan had given them a few hours to say good bye, but it had also given them the idea that she might get better. It only served to make it more difficult to convince them that she was gone. But he didn't. They needed solid answers not sympathy.
"No, she won't feel a thing. All of the parts of her brain that registered pain, no longer work. However, even if they did, we will anesthetize her just like we would if she were going in for any major surgery." Cameron hadn't known that. She never assisted in the harvesting surgeries; they were always left to Chase. She usually did the typing and cross matching. She also handled the recipient's aftercare immunosuppressant therapy. The actually mechanics of the transplants were things that she had had little knowledge or interest in after leaving med school. Much in the same way Chase tended to look like he was having absent seizures, while she was explaining to patients the different regimens of drugs they could take to prevent rejection.
"Will we be able to see her afterwards?"
"Yes, if you want, but I wouldn't recommend it. We will treat her with the utmost respect and nothing that we do would prevent you from having an open casket funeral, however, many people find it fairly traumatic to see there loved on after the surgery." He told them gently.
"Will you be the one doing the surgery?" The father asked a second question in a row.
"No, I'm not a surgeon. I can ask to be present as the intensivist assisting but I wouldn't actually perform the extractions."
"Oh. I'm sorry if these are dumb questions, but this is all so sudden. We thought she was getting better. Maybe if we wait a bit longer." The mother suggested.
"Waiting longer won't help anyone. It will actually damage her organs, if you choose to donate them. I know it is sudden and that it seems like it came out of no where but unfortunately it is true." He sighed, wanting to turn around and throttle Cameron behind him, knowing that it wouldn't be so sudden or so unexpected if she had just gotten grief counseling after her husband had died. "Listen, take some time to think about it. This is a big decision and I don't want you to feel pressured into making it. We'll come back in a while, ok?" He gave them a small smile.
"No, I think we would like to go ahead and donate her organs. Then at least a part of her can live on." Gasped her mother.
"Excellent." Linda said, with false cheer as she started getting their signatures. Chase again excused himself.
"Chase," She started again.
"Don't." He turned on her, anger flashing across his face.
"Please." She stammered, not sure what to say to him.
"Do you have dumb rabies or something? Can you not find someone else in this bloody place to bother? Just get the hell away from me!" He fairly yelled at her.
"Chase." She whispered to his retreating back. She then realized that half of the ward was staring at her. She ducked her head and walked out, trying to hide her blush. Maybe she would leave him alone for a little while.
6:15am January 2nd 2006
Chase woke to the most delightful scent of real black tea under his nose. He opened his eyes to look up into Foreman's dark brown ones. After a moment of disorientation, he remembered that he had asked Foreman to wake him up before his next surgery. He was stiff and creaky but not nearly as bad as he would have been if he had slept in House's chair.
He took the proffered cup and sipped at it, enjoying the burn on his tongue and the feeling as it warmed its way down into his stomach. He almost cried with joy when he realized it was good tea, strong, black, with two sugars, and just a touch of milk. He looked up, expecting to see Cameron behind Foreman. Instead, the black man sat down beside him on the cot, drinking his own coffee.
"What, isn't that the kind you like?" Foreman questioned.
"No, it's perfect. I was just wondering where it came from." He ran his hand through his hair, disliking the greasy, clumpy feel of it. Though, he felt vaguely flattered that Foreman knew how he liked his tea.
"I bribed April and she coughed it up." He joked, then corrected, "I actually just told her it was for you and she was more than willing to donate to the cause."
"I'll have to thank her." He drank more of it, twisting around so he was leaning against the wall and curling his legs up so Foreman had room to sit.
Foreman took a deep breath and forged forward. Normally he only enjoyed stirring the pot, not actually jumping into it but now he had no choice. He would lose his mind if Chase and Cameron kept fighting. He looked the other doctor in the eye. "You have to make up with Cameron." He held his hand up to forestall and protests. "I'm serious. She is twisting herself up over you being mad at her. She doesn't deserve that. Don't make her feel bad because you don't have the balls to stand up to people." He and Cameron had talked and it had been ugly. She was now as intent on figuring out why Chase was so dead set against telling the family as she was in getting him to agree. He felt very sorry for his fellow doctor. But she had been right, now that she had pointed it out, Chase had been acting strange for weeks. Then he remembered something he had read awhile back and he had a sinking feeling he knew why. He wanted to spare Chase the torture of Cameron's well meaning meddling for as long as he could, if for no other reason than it would only cause more fighting and make House happy.
"Why is everything my fault?" He asked sullenly. "How am I responsible for Cameron being unhappy? Why aren't you yelling at her because she made me unhappy?"
"Because if you are upset, you run and hide, not bothering anyone. If Cameron is upset she makes sure everyone around her knows it and is also miserable. Given a choice I would shoot your mother before I would say a harsh thing to her." He partially joked.
"Fine. Basically I don't care if you are pissed off, depressed, or bloody suicidal because I don't really give a rat's ass how you feel. Cameron is a different story, she is my friend and I don't want you doing anything to make her feel worse than she already does. Do you understand me?" He said sternly, hoping that he could make Chase mad enough at him at he would forget about Cameron.
"Fair enough." Chase said quietly, feeling more than a little hurt. He knew Foreman didn't really like him but it still stung to hear him say it so blatantly. "I'm going to shower before my shift. Page me if you need me." He said evenly and left. He didn't want to be around any of his coworkers. He just wondered why everyone else in the entire hospital was allowed to have feeling and to get upset except for him. Well, except for him and Wilson. He wanted to go home and sleep.
7am January 2nd 2006
Cameron pulled her gloves on and shrugged into her jacket, wrapping her blue Casmir scarf about her neck. It had been a Christmas gift from Chase, very expensive and decadent just like sex with him. You may have to pay a huge price for it but the feel of it and bragging rights were well worth it. The scarf was one of the most beautiful things she had ever owned and frankly she had been rather surprised he had been able to pick out something that nice. She would be flattered that he had spent so much money on her but she knew that he really didn't get present for too many people so he could afford to go all out for the few he did. Plus, Chase seemed to have no concept of money. It sort of made her feel guilty that all she had gotten him was a lousy gift card for a local bookstore because she knew he liked to read. But at least she had picked on with a large selection of imported books and a huge puzzle section.
She walked over to the balcony door to lock it and came face to face with Chase himself, or rather, face to back. The Aussie was sitting outside, staring off into the space, small bits of snow blowing into his blonde hair. Without thinking, she forced her way onto the balcony and into his thoughts. The snow had finally all but died down and the world was painted new and bright as dawn began to break in the East. He wore his dark, navy fleece pullover on top of his scrubs. It made his eyes look more green than blue but also made him every bit as look pale and tired as he was. He clutched a large, paper cup of tea from the cafeteria in his hands. They were white from cold. She thought he looked dejected and lonely.
"Penny for your thoughts?" She said to him as she sat down beside him. The bench was cold and uncomfortable under her. She thought she would try one last time to get through to him, to make him understand that she was sorry for making him mad.
"They aren't worth a penny." He answered and sipped his tea.
He sighed but didn't look at her. He did that a lot when he talked to her. He would sigh and then answer her after she nagged him for awhile, but at least he wasn't yelling or snapping. "I'm too knackered to come up with a coherent thought." She gave him a quizzical look that he caught out of the corner of his eye. "Tired." He corrected his wording so she would understand him.
"Then why are you still here? Foreman went home hours ago and I'm leaving now." She shivered once and noticed that Chase was trembling from the cold, which itself was odd since she well knew how much Chase disliked being cold. She had no idea why he didn't go back inside where it was warm. She took his drink and took a sip. It was very hot.
"The transplant teams are spread too thin. So all the intensivists are taking turns in surgery or in the one of the wards. We have upwards of 60 critical patients all over the hospital and only five intensivists. Cuddy threatened us with physical violence if any of us tried to leave." He gave her a weak grin. They were all exhausted. After the initial waves of wounded were over, she and Foreman were forced into hours and hours of after care and lab work. While Chase, went into the ICU to help or into surgery to assist the transplant teams, assisting transplants being one thing Chase was particularly good at. But fighting with Chase had perhaps been the most tiring thing of all.
"Have you gotten any sleep?" She wondered, concerned. Both she and Foreman had taken intermittent naps in the office over the last day and a half. She had not seen Chase sleeping in there since there initial argument.
"Yeah, I took a nap while I was in the ward earlier. I'm scheduled for surgery in half an hour. I thought I would come out in the cold to help wake me up." His hands were starting to tremble from shivers. He neglected to mention it was Diana's surgery. He had asked to do it as a sort of penance for lying to the family.
"Is it working?"
"Not really." He yawned for effect, or maybe because he needed to.
"Oh." She looked down at her feet, they were starting to tingle from the snow on them. She knew that, of all her colleagues even House, Chase was the touchiest to deal with sometimes. Foreman was kind to her and House cared about her and generally speaking, Chase was aloof but considerate. However, there were sometimes that he would go from sweet and sensitive to mean and spiteful in the blink of an eye. He could be so funny and comforting one minute yet become cold and distant from one sentence to the next. But what was the worst about it was that there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to his mood swings. Cameron realized she was being too harsh, even Chase's mood swings were fairly reserved. It was all in his tone. She did know, though, one thing that would always set him off, was getting too personal with him. "Chase, about last night." She started
"You got your way. Can't we just forget about it? Do I have to role over and show you my underbelly so that you know you have won?" Chase pleaded, he was too tired to really work up any anger.
"Would you purr, if I rubbed your underbelly?" She asked him, smiling over at him.
"I would probably just fall asleep. What do want from me?" He sounded defeated and exhausted.
"I don't want you to be mad at me." She looked over at him. His nose and cheeks were red from the wind. He still wouldn't look at her.
"I'm not mad at you."
"Yes you are. You won't even look at me." Cameron pouted.
He finally turned to her. "Bugger me, Cam, please drop it. Just accept that not everyone is like you. Not everyone can look on the bright side all the time. Not everyone likes to live in ignorance of what is coming. And sometimes, it is better to warn people so they can prepare themselves and not be blind sided by bad news." He told her philosophically. His accent becoming stronger due to how tired he was or maybe he had been talking to a friend from back home.
"But why would you want to ruin what hope may exist by telling them bad news until you are absolutely sure?" She countered.
"Maybe so they and their family know and have a chance to say good bye, while there is still time to do so." There was something in the way he said this that made Cameron almost stop herself from finishing the argument. It had been there all weekend, only she had been too worked up to notice it before. There was a tone in his voice that said volumes more than his words only she didn't know him well enough to understand it. He wouldn't let her get close enough to know him.
"You have to see why it was important to wait though? This way they don't have to remember New Years Eve as the day their daughter died."
"So we let them sit and think everything was fine and that she had a chance of getting better because of a stupid holiday? It was crueler to give them false hope than the truth." He knew he could make her understand his point. He could tell her how it felt to be doubly shocked by death and dishonesty but he wouldn't. It was none of her business.
"But we did give them hope, even if it was only for a few hours. You must know what it feels like to hope?"
"I learned not to hope a long time ago." He answered bitterly. He was pulling even further away from her, back inside of his protective walls. She wanted to scream at him and tell him to stop being so defensive and so afraid but she knew that would drive him away faster than anything else. She had almost reveled in his rudeness earlier because it was a real human response, something they rarely saw from Chase.
Instead, she reached out and touched his check, forcing him to turn back around to face her as the bell in the middle of campus tolled the changing hour. She couldn't draw him closer with her words so she tried another track. When he was fully facing her, she leaned forward and brushed her lips against his in a soft kiss. "Happy New Year, Chase." She told him as she pulled away, noticing that he had closed his eyes. He gave her a small, brief smile, making one dimple appear. She loved it when he smiled, though it was hard to get him to do it for real. She wasn't sure if she could ever remember making him laugh.
"It's seven am and it's January 2nd. New years was 31 hours ago." He pointed out.
"It's New Years somewhere." She leaned in for another kiss, enjoying the feeling of another person near her and she loved the way her touch made him smile. It had been so long since she had felt close to someone like she did to Chase. True he was more of a friend that than a lover but now, at sunrise after the weekend they had just had, alone together she didn't care. She leaned in for another kiss. He dipped his head down, his bangs obscuring his eyes. Had she leaned in any closer, she would have gotten the bridge of his nose and a mouthful of hair.
"Friends only get one kiss." He quietly told her, though part of him wanted to pull her on top of him just to have more contact. He wanted to trail kisses down her stomach and be able to lick the taste of her off his lips. But he realized that it wasn't really Cameron he wanted. He just wanted someone, anyone, to take his mind off of his father and all of the lives he had let slip through his hands in the last two days. And he realized that it wasn't him that she wanted either. While normally this wouldn't be a problem for him, he had an annoying amount of respect and affection for her that prevented him from allowing things to go further. Though he had once taken consolation in her desperation, he wouldn't do it again. It wasn't fair to either of them. Additionally, he wasn't really that attracted to her. Sure, she was beautiful, smart, and kind but more often than not, extended contact with her had him trying to calculate whether he was strong enough to jump through the glass windows at the hospital to get away from her. He also neglected to correct her understanding of international time zones. The US was one of the last places to change years.
"I can handle friends." She told him and she moved her hand from his face, only to grasp one of his hands in her own. "As long as I have a shoulder to lean on." She told him as she rested her head against his shoulder to watch the sun rise. She didn't know why she was staying. She was exhausted and freezing but something told her that she needed to make Chase understand that she still cared about him. That just because they had had a disagreement, didn't mean that they weren't still friends. That she could forgive him for getting angry so it was only fair that he forgive her. She wouldn't have been able to articulate how she knew this or exactly what she knew, she just did.
"Of course, you do, as long as you need it." Chase answered and he too watched the sun rise on a New Day and a New Year with the same old problems.