Title: THE MOMENTS IN BETWEEN
Author:Clarkangel/Merlin7
Rating: G
Disclaimer: So not mine, darn it
Archive: Anywhere
Summary: Takes place after NO REASON. Cameron's observations about Chase.

THE MOMENTS IN BETWEEN

Cameron watched Chase through the glass wall as he monitored House's condition. For the three days that House had been in ICU since being shot, it was Chase who kept vigil. A logical choice since he was the Intensivist among them and he had saved House twice when he coded. Cameron thought she ought to be a bit jealous, but she realized that it felt right for Chase to be at House's side. Like he belonged there.

Watching Chase, Cameron saw a side to him she'd never seen before. There was a tenderness in his ministrations now, just as there had been an intensity before, when House was coding. An intensity that was almost frightening to see. The tenderness now was almost painful. Cameron had always sensed that both things lay beneath the surface of the facade Chase put forth to the world, but she had never expected to witness them for herself. She knew he would never display them intentionally, but now he was exhausted as well as shaken by the fact that House had come so close to dying. It had shaken them all.

Of course, as an Intensivist Chase had to accustom himself to death. He had to accept it in a way Cameron knew she never would. She admired his ability to do so and sometimes she wished she could emulate it. Sometimes, because Cameron watched Chase when she was sure he wouldn't notice, and she had seen all the times death touched him. She had seen the way it made him ache and tore him up inside. She knew he cared about people far more than he wanted anyone to believe. But he was afraid to care, and Cameron could guess why. To care about someone else meant opening yourself up to being hurt. Cameron knew all about that kind of pain, but she never let it stop her from caring.

Chase suddenly turned in her direction, looking startled to see her there. He shouldn't have been. She'd been a ghost in the shadows for the past three days, watching Chase watching House. Always watching.

Putting on a smile, Cameron entered the room. "How's he doing?" she asked, letting herself move close enough to House to get a good look at him.

"He's stabilized, finally," Chase replied, and his voice was rough with exhaustion.

"How are you doing?" Cameron asked suddenly, and she could see that the question surprised him.

Dropping his gaze back to House, Chase replied. "I'm fine, of course. I wasn't the one who got shot." He fiddled with House's tubing, looking anywhere but at Cameron.

She moved around the bed and touched his arm. "You need to take a break, Chase," Cameron said softly. "You're dead on your feet."

"I'm fine." He was pulling away from her, moving around to the other side of the bed as if needed to put distance between them.

"Come get something to eat with me," Cameron countered, moving to follow him and taking him by the arm. She felt a tremor ripple through him and it made her look at him with a sharper gaze. He was pale, his eyes were glazed and if she did the math she'd realize he'd been operating on about six hours sleep for the course of the past three days. She tugged him towards the door. "You did your job, Chase," Cameron said firmly. "Now you need to rest for a bit."

He hesitated but finally let her pull him out of the room. But he did pull away long enough to give instructions to the charge nurse. "I can't be gone long," he said, when Cameron came to fetch him again.

She nodded as she guided him towards the elevator. He was clumsy on his feet. Cameron had known that kind of weariness in the past, she knew the way his body would be aching with it. "We'll get something to eat and maybe you can take a short nap." She could already feel the protest he was going to make about sleeping so she cut him off. "You won't be away long enough for House to miss you," she promised. Then they were on the ground floor and she nudged him towards a table while she grabbed a tray and filled it with sandwiches and milk for them both.

"No coffee?" Chase protested, when he arrived at the table with the tray.

"You can't live on caffeine," she chided him, doling him out a sandwich and a frothy glass of milk. She knew he liked milk from the few times they'd gone to lunch together. It made her smile to watch him take a long swig of it now. For all that Chase was nearly gray with fatigue, he still looked so damn young. In a way it made her glad that people always commented on his youth and beauty, the same way they tended to comment to her. It actually made her feel giddy sometimes to look at Chase and realize he barely looked old enough to drink. For some odd reason it made her feel vindicated at times. She didn't like to question or wonder why, she just accepted that it was so and went on her merry way. But today Chase looked a bit shattered and vulnerable and almost fragile in a way that frightened her a bit.

He stared at the sandwich but made no move to touch it. Instead he scrubbed his fingers through his hair for a moment, then he buried his face in his hands. "I really should get back," he muttered, his voice muffled.

Cameron pulled his hands from his face then asked, "Why do you care so much?" She knew that Chase and House had a kind of bond, but she had yet to understand what it was made of. Sometimes it seemed like it was a love hate kind of thing, and yet there was this understanding between them that left both her and Foreman on the outside looking in. She resented it at times. Resented Chase, but right now she felt nothing but sympathy for him. Not that she let it show. At least she hoped it didn't show. She knew Chase abhorred pity.

"Why do you?" Chase shot back, but she doubted he was really interested in the answer. He was merely trying to deflect attention away from himself.

"You know my reason," Cameron stated firmly. Hell, everyone knew that she had feelings for House. That she could love him so easily if he would just let her in. But she shook off those thoughts because they were negative and detrimental, and firmly focused her attention back on Chase. "What's your reason?"

Chase sighed, glaring at her with bleary eyes. "My reason is nobody's business by my own." With that he pushed his chair back and stood up. "I'm going back to ICU," he announced, and he even took a step towards the door. But that's when his eyes rolled up in his head even as he went deathly pale.

Cameron saw him listing and she was on her feet and by his side in time to catch him. His dead weight took them both down to the floor, but he was easier to manage than she would have expected. Too light in her arms, even as she shifted him so his head rested in her lap. She felt for his pulse even as a couple of nurses reached them. She told them to get a gurney then Wilson was there, kneeling beside them. Cameron looked up into his concerned eyes. "I think he just collapsed from exhaustion and lack of food."

"You're probably right," Wilson replied, because he knew how Chase had kept vigil as well.

"He'll be fine," Cameron stated, because she needed it to be true. She hadn't really thought about it much, but she needed Chase in her life. She thought maybe they all did. He served a purpose they didn't always think about. Father confessor for her and Foreman at times. And Cameron had always believed that Chase presented a challenge to House that no one else could. Maybe someday she would even figure out what it was.

But for now the gurney had arrived and people were lifting Chase away from her. Then Wilson was helping her to her feet and they were all moving towards the exit. Cameron ran to catch up with the gurney, reaching for Chase's hand. Wanting him to know she was there in some way. Or maybe she did it to comfort herself. She figured it didn't matter, as she glued her eyes to Chase's pale face.

He woke up six hours later. Cameron was settled in a chair next to his bed, reading a book. She felt tired but serene. House was doing well, he had even come awake for a bit. Chase was going to be fine as well. He had collapsed from exhaustion, lack of food and he was a bit dehydrated. So he was hooked up to an IV and he'd play patient for a couple of days, getting some much needed rest and all. They would take care of him now and soon everything would be back to normal for all of them.

Rising from her chair, Cameron moved to Chase's bedside. "Hey, sleepyhead," she greeted him. "How are you feeling?"

Chase stared at her, then about the room, finally at the IV taped to the back of his hand, eyes flickering up to the bags hanging from the pole. "What...what happened?"

"You collapsed in the cafeteria," Cameron replied. "You overdid it...a lot."

"House!" Panic flared in Chase's eyes and he was struggling to sit up, pushing back the covers.

Cameron pressed him back, locking eyes with Chase and reassuring him, "House is fine. He woke up and knew where he was. He's resting now, like you need to do."

Chase nodded, eyes falling to his IV where he started picking at the tape.

"Leave it alone!" Cameron slapped his hand away.

"I'm fine." Chase's voice gave lie to his words. He sounded beyond exhausted, his voice deeper than usual and rough around the edges.

Cameron smiled at him. "Hence the fainting," she teased. She laughed when he grimaced at her. "Hey, it's the proper medical term."

Chase let a smile almost come out. "So not funny."

"Neither was watching you collapse," Cameron pointed out. "When was the last time you ate, by the way? And you know enough to keep hydrated. Bad form, Chase." Her tone was still light and teasing, but her eyes sent another message to him. Concern.

"When can I get out of here?" Typical Chase, deflect all attention and concern.

Cameron sighed. "If you behave yourself I might let you go in twenty-four hours, but I'm thinking closer to forty-eight."

Chase's eyes widened and he stared at her in surprise. "You'll let me go?" he echoed.

"I'm your doctor," Cameron replied.

"Since when?" Chase shot back.

Cameron reached out to fuss with his covers, knowing it was irritating him, but she wanted to take care of him now. If only for a moment. "Go to sleep," she instructed, before returning back to her chair and her book.

Chase watched her settle in then said," You're in the wrong room."

She knew he meant House. There was a time when she would have been glued to his side, but that time had come and past. "I'm comfortable here," she replied, opening her book up. "Now go to sleep or I'll knock you out."

"Bully," Chase replied, his voice a rough whisper, as he fought to keep his eyes open. But they drifted closed and he shifted to curl up on his side, facing her.

Cameron pretended to read until Chase fell asleep, then she moved to his side again and studied him. He was still pale and there were shadows like bruises under his eyes, but he was still beautiful in a way that took her breath away. And so young that it made her feel protective of him. She knew Chase was broken in his own way, that he was damaged. She knew that her own flaw was wanting to fix people who were broken beyond repair. But she thought Chase was fixable and she found herself hoping there was someone out there who could put him back together. She didn't think she was the one who could do that, at least not until she could fix herself. But maybe they could be there for each other as friends and colleagues and maybe even something more. Sometimes it wasn't about the moments that you hoped would last, but it was all about the moments in between.

Smiling to herself, Cameron brushed the hair off Chase's forehead and bent to press a kiss there. "Sweet dreams," she whispered, before returning to her chair. Yeah...it was all about the moments in between.

THE END