A/N: Here we go. The end. And it truly is Australia Day in America now. I mean...it's the 26th now. I posted the first part on the 25th, your 25th, my 26th. Anyway.
Chase marvelled at her very quick cooking. She had just converted half a kilo of mince, an onion, and a couple of tomatoes into pasta sauce in less than five minutes.
She stood behind him, and placed a spoon in his hand. She held his right arm, guiding it gently.
"Stir," she murmured tauntingly. Chase was enjoying himself too much to be annoyed.
"There," she said, letting go of him and stepping back, and Chase couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. "Knew you could do it."
Cameron busied herself with the salad, while Chase continued stirring, not entirely sure that that was all he was supposed to be doing.
"So, how do you eat?" Cameron ran the water over a tomato.
"I have…hired help," Chase replied. "Smells good."
He peered into the steaming pot. He was glad Cameron didn't choose to comment on his statement, or when he jumped back, rubbing his eyes, though he thought he detected a slight snigger.
"So what exactly is Australia Day all about?" Cameron asked.
"The First Fleet landed on Australia Day," Chase replied, still blinking, trying to get rid of the vapour in his eyes. "Wait, I mean…they landed on the 26th of January, so they dubbed it Australia Day." He paused. "I guess. I don't know, I never really paid attention in history."
He'd stopped paying attention to the sauce, too.
"Hey, watch it!" Cameron hurried over, and took over Chase's post. She stirred it lightly. "There we go; you didn't hurt it too much."
Chase watched her guiltily for a moment, before deciding to make amends by preparing the rest of the salad.
That he could do. He sliced the cucumber expertly, and threw them carelessly into a bowl. He segmented the tomatoes, and put them in. He peeled a few lettuce leaves, and added them to the mixture. He picked up the bowl to take to the table in the dining room, but when he turned around, almost dropped it when he came face to face with Cameron, who grinned at his shocked expression.
"Done. Do you want me to take that?"
Without waiting for an answer, she seized the bowl from Chase's loose grip. He was still recovering from his heart attack.
"The pasta's ready, too."
Chase hadn't even realised she'd started boiling it, but he supposed it was because he was too busy concentrating on stirring the sauce. He shut his eyes, trying to block out that thought. It wasn't a particularly ego-satisfying one.
"That was quick."
"Yeah, I was surprised, too, actually," Cameron replied. Chase thought he'd better do something useful, as he hadn't done much at all for the past few minutes. He went over to the drawer and got out a pair of knives and forks, and lay them down beside the plates Cameron had put out. He wondered how she had done it all in, really, under 10 minutes. It was almost scary.
Chase motioned for her to sit down, rather than attempting to tidy up the kitchen area. He poured out a glass of red wine for them both; he had always been told that with Italian, it had to be red.
He brought them to the table, and placed one glass in front of Cameron as he sat opposite her.
"Bon apetite," he said.
"Well, really, for this kind of meal, it should be Bene apetite," Cameron countered with a serious look, and Chase felt immediately uncomfortable. But Cameron was pulling his leg…again. Her face lightened instantly, as she smirked.
"So how did you cook so fast?" Chase asked after he had finished a mouthful. "And so good?"
"I actually do cook for myself," Cameron answered. "And when I was a kid, I was forced to help out. My sister and I took turns. I suppose it would've been easier if we did it together." Cameron kept eating, looking thoughtful.
"But I guess it was worth it," she continued. "When I left home, I could make dinner, no problem."
"Why'd you have to cook?" Chase posed, stabbing at the pasta.
"Don't know. I suppose Mom knew it was worth it, too!" Cameron laughed. "At first, we hated it. Helen refused to do it for a while, but gave up once Mom stopped feeding her. It got easier," she shrugged off.
"I never really got the chance," Chase said quietly. "After Dad left, I tried to look after my mum for a while, but I couldn't really handle it. I was only 15." Chase didn't know why he was telling Cameron, but it felt pretty relieving to tell someone. "I got my grandparents to help me. They basically took me in, and kept an eye on her. They weren't very careful," Chase added moodily.
Cameron didn't speak, but silently cleared her plate. Chase finished his meal, too, and Cameron tried to take his plate, but he stopped her.
"My house, my mess, my job to clean up."
"Let me help."
"Not yet," Chase entreated. "We haven't had dessert."
Cameron hesitated before sitting down again.
"Ok," she agreed warily. "What's-"
"Stay," he ordered. He walked over to the freezer, pulling out a box from inside, and placing it upon the kitchen counter. He had asked Anna to find this for him. Something nicely Australian.
Pulling out a knife and plates, he began humming quietly. He opened the box and felt entirely…deflated. Just like the Pavlova looked. Completely flat.
Frantically, Chase opened the fridge, not quite sure if he'd find anything helpful. His eyes flicked over the contents: milk, cheese, bread, more milk, a bunch of carrots, a jug of water, another bottle of milk – he should really talk to Anna about that – a few tubs of yoghurt, condiments…
Chase had a sudden idea. He closed the fridge, and instead, opened up the freezer. Ice cream.
Chase took out the cream, uncertain as to whether it'd do the job, but felt desperate enough to try anything. He grabbed a bowl from a cupboard, and hastily scooped out half the container into it. He then took the flat Pavlova, and placed it on top. It looked…ok, Chase thought, adding a few extra strawberries to it.
With a last aggrieved look at the dessert, he brought it to the table, along with the appropriate tableware.
He put on a smile for Cameron, struggling to look as if everything were going according to plan.
"Australian Pavlova," Chase announced, trying not to see Cameron's puzzled face.
"I thought the Kiwis invented Pavlova," Cameron commented.
"That's what they say."
He cut a wedge for Cameron, and another for himself, trying to keep the Pavlova pancake on top of the ice cream.
"There you go," he said. "What do I say to this? Dig in?"
"I wouldn't know," Cameron responded. "Never been to Australia."
"You've never been? Oh, you should," Chase goaded. "Best place in the world. You could come with me sometime."
Cameron either didn't have an answer to that, or found Chase's 'Pavlova' really good – or the opposite - , because she didn't reply.
They ate without speech for a bit, before Cameron enquired,
"Why so much ice cream?"
Chase had to laugh at that, and then was inclined to tell her the tale, and he entertained Cameron thoroughly with that.
"Now I'll help you," Cameron insisted after they'd had a cup of coffee each, talking about their current case. She got up, and retrieved all the plates. Chase knew there was no stopping her. He picked up the unfinished salad, and took it out to the kitchen.
"You're very proficient," Chase commented. Cameron had already run water into the sink, and had begun scrubbing the metal pot that had been used for the sauce.
"I'm used to it. Come and dry for me."
Chase caught the tea towel Cameron threw at him, and grabbed a wet plate that was stacked on the draining board.
"Geez, you're quick." She was. She'd washed and rinsed at least half of what needed to be done. "Don't you own a dishwasher?"
"I live alone, Chase," Cameron replied scathingly. "And I spend half my life at the hospital."
"That can change," Chase announced pensively.
"You think House is going to cut my hours just because I ask him?"
"No, I meant you don't always have to live alone." Chase put down the dry plate. The dishes were piling up; Cameron was washing a lot faster than Chase was drying. Cameron stopped scrubbing, and turned to him.
"What are you saying?" she asked coyly.
"That you're not doomed to a life of solitude," Chase replied. "Pass that thing."
"It's called a spoon," she grinned, tossing it at him. He caught it, but only just.
"You can catch anything House throws at you."
Chase opened his mouth to speak, but-
"So you don't cook at all?"
"What?" Chase placed the spoon on the counter beside him.
"You don't even know what a spoon is," she teased.
"Doesn't mean I don't cook." Chase took a knife, which looked already half dry; it had been sitting for a while. "I just…don't know what all the things are called."
"You've never cooked."
"I…made a cake once," Chase shrugged. Cameron shook her head, laughing softly.
"You," - she threw a wet cloth at him, and he ducked - "are doomed to a life of never being able to choose what goes on your plate."
"Ah, look at the time," Cameron cried, after they'd put away the remaining dishes. When Cameron had finished, she had to get another towel and help Chase dry.
"I'll drive you home," Chase offered. Cameron quaked visibly, but nodded. Chase couldn't help but notice that she had paled noticeably.
"I'll go slow," he insisted. Cameron smiled appreciatively, and took her coat from where she had left it earlier.
"Tonight was fun." Cameron giggled as she opened her door, and stood on the threshold. "I didn't know you could make coffee. I would've let you do it for House, otherwise."
"That's exactly why I didn't let you know," Chase confided. "I don't want to make coffee for House."
Cameron laughed. "See, I knew there was a reason House wanted me back. Coffee."
Chase joined in her mirth for a while, then they both regained their breath and sensibility.
"Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
"Guess you will."
"It's my turn, next time," Cameron announced, moving further into her apartment. Chase resisted the urge to follow her in.
"Next time?" he prompted hopefully, but frowned. "Next…Australia Day?"
"No!" Cameron exclaimed, and Chase released his doubts. "You've got to join me for 4th of July."
A/N: Alrighty, that part was a bit warped in the middle, I really wasn't sure what I was doing there. Probably due to listening to my friend's ideas…that never goes down well!
And there we go, time wise, it was completely out of sync, sorry, couldn't help that. Well, actually, I could, but I couldn't think of enough small talk to last a couple of hours, so…
What are tea towels called in America? Dish cloths? Well, they're in Chase's house, all his tea towels are Australian.