January 26th

A/N: To my fellow Australians (and everyone else, too, I guess), happy Australia Day!


Part 1

"Hey, Cameron," Chase said, Tuesday evening, as Cameron packed away her laptop, ready to leave. "Can I have a word before you go?"

She nodded, and swung her bag over her shoulder. As they left the room, they didn't notice Foreman's eyes follow them out.

"It's the 26th on Thursday," Chase said, looking expectantly at Cameron. Cameron was blank, staring back at him, waiting for him to continue.

"Australia Day."

Cameron's eyes lit up for a second in understanding, but then faded back to its prior confused stance.

"So why are you telling me this?" Cameron asked. "I mean, I understand why, but why here? I mean, why not in the office? Why alone?"

"Well, I was kinda wondering…" Chase paused for a second. "See, when I was back in Australia, the 26th was always a fun family and friends event. Not as big as Christmas, but still big enough to have heaps of fun. For the last few years, I…I've missed tradition."

Cameron crossed her arms reproachfully, though smiling all the same.

"Oh, that's what this is about."

"What?"

"You're planning a party, but you didn't want to invite Foreman, so you had to drag me out here to-"

"No, that's not what I'm saying," Chase said, his lips smiling, but his eyes gazing intently at Cameron.

"So, what are you saying?"

"I just wondered if you wanted to come over for a drink," Chase mumbled, feeling suddenly shy. "And maybe dinner, if you want."

"Sure, that sounds great."

Chase was all ready to convince her to come, but he wasn't expecting her to agree so quickly.

"Really? Uh…" Chase quickly scribbled out his address on the back of his business card. "Here. Is 6 a good time for you?"

Cameron took his card. She glanced over the address. "Sure."

"Or if you like, I can drive you home after work," he offered.

Cameron took a moment to decide, then nodded appreciatively. "Thanks. I'll get a taxi in."

"Uh, I could…drive you in, too, if you like."

"It's ok, Chase," Cameron declined good-naturedly. "I can take a taxi."

000000000

"You ready?" Chase shrugged on his coat, glad that Foreman had already gone.

Cameron nodded and grabbed her bag. They walked out in silence, Chase risking a glance at Cameron every now and then, but she was staring straight ahead.

They reached his car, and the doors beeped as he unlocked the car doors. Cameron couldn't help laughing when Chase opened the passenger door for her, and made a big show of bowing her in.

"Oh, very nice."

Chase grinned as he climbed in his own seat.

"Not as nice as House's motorbike, though," Cameron commented off-handedly, and Chase stiffened. Though he agreed, it was like a sharp stick, coming from Cameron.

"Ah, Chase!" Cameron chortled. "You've got to be kidding, scariest thing ever, I was holding onto House so tight!"

Chase reluctantly smiled at Cameron's gentle teasing.

"Let's go," he said, putting his foot down.

0000000000

When they reached Chase's house, Cameron climbed out of the car, fairly rattled.

"Whoa." Her hand shook in Chase's, as he helped her out of the car. "If I knew you drove like that, I wouldn't have taken up your offer."

"What's wrong with the way I drive?" Chase demanded indignantly.

"Oh, nothing." Cameron smoothed her shirt down agitatedly. "It just reminds me of Schumaker."

"Aw, come on, not that bad," Chase protested.

"Yeah," Cameron nodded. "That bad. At least I had the seat belt to hold onto, instead of you."

"Maybe I should invest in a motorbike," Chase mused, leading Cameron up to his front door.

0000000000

"Want a drink?" Chase took off his jacket and threw it over the back of a chair. Cameron followed him in tentatively.

"Sure. Just water."

"Sit," he offered, walking into the kitchen to get glasses for them both.

Cameron sat on the edge of Chase's sofa. He came out and handed her the water.

"I haven't cooked, I-"

"Can't cook?" Cameron finished innocently. Chase opened his mouth to retort resentfully, but decided he had to agree.

"Well, no, that wasn't what I was going to say," Chase returned, "though it's true. No, my family would always cook together. My dad, my uncle, and my grandad all use to stand round the barbecue, and cook. Almost everyone would come around at some point and give the sausages a turn.

"Now, it's about 40º, so I'm not so keen to get out there, and I was thinking pasta?"

"Sure. I love pasta. I'll help you cook it."

"Great. I was counting on that."

Cameron gave him an amused look, and got up. Chase took out a packet of spiral-shaped pasta out of his pantry, and held it up.

"This do?"

"I'm happy if you're happy."

"And I'm happy." Chase gave an embellished smile to prove his statement, and Cameron yanked the pasta packet vigorously out of his hands.

"You got bolognaise sauce?"

Chase hadn't thought to think of that.

"Uh…"

"Chase," Cameron rolled her eyes, shaking her head. "We'll have to make some."

Cameron laughed at his pained expression.

"It's ok," she amended. "I'll do it. You have mince?"

Chase had no idea whether he had mince or not. His home-helper, she called herself, Anna, bought his groceries for him.

"Maybe. It'd be in the fridge, I guess."

"You guess? How can you not know what's in your fridge?"

"I don't…" Chase paused, wondering whether to tell her, then decided that he couldn't be bothered to lie. "I don't stock my fridge."

Cameron just raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment.

"Well, let's have a look." She walked over to the fridge, opened it up, scanned the contents, and pulled a few items out.

"Alright, got a saucepan?"

"Uh…"

Cameron didn't seem surprised. She opened a few cupboards until she found what she was looking for. Chase watched her from siting on the kitchen counter.

"You sure you know what you're doing?"

Cameron didn't answer, but gave him a look which said clearly, Shut up, or you won't get any.

"I know you're incompetent in the kitchen," Cameron said, mockingly innocent. "But come here. I think you might be capable of stirring the sauce."


A/N: I was intending this to be a one-shot, but it got a bit long, so I split it.