The abrupt wake up from the grating buzzer was not the ideal morning greeting for a really tired mind and body. Chase flung his right arm over and pounded with malice the innocent button that was only acting as instructed. He gradually rolled over on his back and tried getting his wits about him by focusing his burning eyes on the smooth texture of the stamped ceiling. That didn't help much. It took a few minutes, but he finally got enough orientation to remember that he was alone in an unfamiliar bed. He was there for a reason and that reason was momentarily freaking him out.
Chase didn't want to get out of bed. Most of his night was a sleepless one and the few hours he did get were hardly refreshing. Any hope of procrastination was quickly squashed though when he heard a knock at the door. "Robert, time to get up."
"I'm awake," he replied in a gravely voice. There was no point of anymore delay. He raised himself up to the edge of the bed and stared at the bright sunlight bursting through the sheer curtains. At least the weather looked promising. He looked around to examine in some detail the rather old and worn furnishings and other knick knacks littering the tops of the furniture and the walls. Yep, everything around him screamed guest room. He slowly put on some clothes and decided it was time to make an appearance.
The activity coming from the kitchen seemed rather busy as he worked his way down the stairs. He never thought his hosts were early risers, but they were likely today on his account. "Morning" was all he could mutter as he grabbed a mug and went straight for the coffee pot.
Foreman was already sitting at the kitchen table enjoying his coffee and reading a newspaper. He pulled the paper down slightly to acknowledge his houseguest. "I see you didn't sleep well."
Chase only flashed him a 'no kidding' glare and joined him at the table. Pamela put a basket on bagels and cream cheese on the table and sat down with her husband and guest. She let out a big yawn. "Don't worry Robert, mornings rarely go well in this household. You're fitting right in."
"Great," he grumbled. He really hated waking up alone anymore. When Allison wasn't there, he was completely lost.
The three sat in complete silence. Pamela and Foreman had no trouble eating, but Chase only picked at the bagel he selected. "Not hungry?" Pamela asked. Chase shook his head, slightly jarring his already disheveled hair.
After another ten minutes of silence Pamela got up. "I've got to get ready. I have some important errands to run first." The two men nodded as she left.
"So, how's Princeton General?" Foreman asked hoping to take Chase's mind off things. He didn't get a chance to talk to Chase last night since House kept him late.
He surmised by Chase's short answer and distraught glance that the small talk wasn't going to help. Foreman nodded and went back to his paper. Chase had enough and got up. "Thanks for breakfast. I should be getting ready myself."
"Yes, you should. It looks like you have some hair issues to work out."
Chase ignored the quip and headed upstairs. He closed the bedroom door and took a long harrowing look in the mirror. He never thought that this day would happen. Why was he so bothered by this? He chose to turn off his brain and do what he needed to do to look his best.
Despite his attempts, his mind did keep wandering. He missed Allison so much and couldn't stop thinking about her. His heart was aching over how he didn't get her warm touch this morning, feel her tender kiss on his lips. Her affection enabled him to properly get his day started, especially when he was adjusting to his new job and new environment. His mind drifted to a few weeks back when they both had a magical evening together...
He was already in a great mood. He got a bit of news and was keeping it as a surprise for later. His new visa was finally approved and he would get to start at Princeton General on the next Monday. They had been eagerly waiting for that to go through. It took six weeks from the time he first interviewed with them. It meant their new opportunities could finally start.
They got all dressed up and headed to the annual PYCM fundraiser. This year's event was the most special yet for many reasons. The new permanent facility was being showcased so the mood was particularly celebratory. They even got Foreman and Pamela to come with them this time.
He felt deep pride with every one of the performances given. The level of skill and emotional impact delivered from the wide range of compositions and styles was truly inspirational. As a heavy supporter of the charity, he couldn't have been more pleased with the huge turnout. Every one of those kids eagerly showed off all the growth the program had given them. He and Allison were most impressed with the mere improvement since the last concert, their first date.
LeAnn again had a showcase performance as she was the main violin soloist in the ensemble performing Vivaldi's Four Seasons. He even recognized that she had passed his skill level. The grand finale this year included selections from Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. The applause after the finale was especially thunderous and quite a bit moving for both of them.
Chase shook himself out of his deep reminisce when he realized that time was running low. He emerged downstairs, where Foreman was ready and had been waiting a while. "You're cutting it close." Foreman lectured looking at his watch. Chase nodded in agreement
He was silent the entire way over, fumbling with his hands and constantly shifting positions in Foreman's passenger seat. Foreman didn't make any attempt to try and calm him. He knew it was best that the boy work it out on his own. Chase's pensive glare out the window indicated the swirl of thoughts and emotions that were running through him...
The director after the long applause died down came up to announce that they were doing something a little different this year. There was one special performance upon request from one of their biggest benefactors that would close out the evening.
The young female pianist from last year's finale came out and broke into a soft run of notes from a very familiar song. Before they knew it, LeAnn had emerged from backstage and started the fluid sounds of the third movement of Ellens Gesang, aka Ave Maria. Allison quickly figured out who the request came from. As she started to well up she grabbed his hand. "Thank you," she whispered.
"Chase, we're here." Foreman snapped him out of his fog. Chase glanced around to notice they were already parked. A twenty minute drive in his mind felt like two minutes.
The two men got out of the car and walked a small distance until they were greeted by Pamela. She gave them both a huge and enthusiastic smile. "Damn do you look good," she said to Chase. He had on the very same blue suit he wore for his and Allison's first date. She had requested he wear it today. She turned to Foreman in his black suit with pink shirt and tie and gave him a huge kiss. "You look pretty hot yourself baby."
"In the bathroom putting on some finishing touches. She'll be here in just a minute."
Chase scanned the well landscaped park that surrounded them, with all the late summer flowers in full bloom thriving under the warm open sky. For a brief second he wondered if he could quickly disappear, but dismissed that idea knowing that was only the fear talking. He didn't want to leave. Deep down, he wanted to do this more than anything. He slightly laughed as the thought popped in his head of Foreman tackling him down in the middle of the open grass as he tried to run.
"Is something funny?" Foreman asked.
"No, my mind is just wandering again."
"He's supposed to be nervous." Pamela told Foreman.
As his eyes wandered in the opposite direction, a stunning sight appeared in the distance that instantly wiped away any doubts and fears that were plaguing him. Coming toward them, beaming in the full glory of the sunlight, was the love of his life. The woman he was about to marry...
LeAnn worked her way over to Allison at first, and stood in front of her until she finished the first refrain of the deeply gentle and emotional piece. As she went to repeat the verse again, she then moved over to him and gave an obvious nod, which was the signal. Allison was slightly confused and turned to face him. She looked beyond him to see a really excited Foreman and Pamela whose expressions hinted something was coming, so her eyes shifted back just in time to see him pull something out of his pocket. He wasn't at all surprised that she instantly knew what was happening. After all, he wanted to propose long before this, but he had to wait until everything was in place with his legal status. He sensed she knew this. All he had to do is look at her with pleading eyes to ask the obvious question while the music continued in the backdrop. She didn't even open the box that was handed to her. She nodded as her tears fell, and then they leaned in to share a huge kiss that made it official. He opened the box and slid the ring on her finger.
When LeAnn was finished the applause was somewhat muted by the choking up and absence of dry eyes of the crowd. Even the director was teary as she dismissed the audience with thanks while LeAnn gave an intense congratulatory and tearful hug to the happy couple.
"Chase? Cameron?" Foreman had given them enough time to be lost in their mutual gaze as they were now standing real close. Chase shook off the memory to take one more loving glance. The old-fashioned white lace dress that tightly hugged her body to her ankles and the bow that held up her hair showcasing her beautiful face drop kicked his anxious heart into his stomach. He wanted to grab her, kiss her, and never be apart from her again. To think only a few minutes ago he had a rather chronic case of wedding day jitters. It all seemed silly now.
The reverend came over to greet them. "Everyone ready?"
Chase and Cameron gave each other a big smile as he offered her his arm. Just a few feet away was a large gazebo. Chase was impressed that Cameron and Pamela threw all this together so quickly. He didn't think this would be the result from the conversation they had the evening of the engagement...
"I want to marry you tomorrow. No long engagement." She told him.
"I'm willing to let you plan a proper wedding."
"Been there, done that. I'd prefer something low key this time if that doesn't bother you."
"Bother me? No. I don't need any type of church wedding either. You want to do something like Vegas or Atlantic City?"
"No, something quick and easy. The county courthouse should be fine."
"The courthouse? It can be simple, but so impersonal. Let's find somewhere else. Something prettier."
"What is it?" He asked noticing her slight hesitation.
"Nothing, I'm just still blown away by what's happening. This never gets easy." She took a calming breath, grabbed his arm with her shaking hand and with another smile indicated she was ready.
As they stepped up into the charming gazebo a photographer showed up from behind and started taking pictures. "You found a photographer?" He asked her.
"The reverend's grandson. He was eager for the work."
Chase smiled. "Leave it to you to think of everything."
Just as the reverend took his place and was about to start, he got a strange look on his face as he looked behind them. "It looks like we have wedding crashers."
Everyone turned around to see House and Wilson standing there, both dressed in their tuxes. "What? I just love weddings." House said with overdone and rather fake giddiness. "Besides, we are going next." Wilson gave House the standard 'shut up and let them get on with it' stare.
Everyone turned back around with smiles and went back to the matter at hand. "We gather here today to join in holy matrimony Allison and Robert..."
Foreman, Pamela, House, Wilson and Cuddy all waited in the bowling alley lounge for the guests of honor to arrive.
"How in the world did we end up back here?' Wilson couldn't comprehend how any newlyweds would spend time here, let alone a pair of well educated doctors.
"Allison's sentimental, and all they wanted was a place to have a few beers to celebrate before they took off for their romantic weekend." Pamela explained.
Foreman looked around at the tacky and over the top décor. "They still have the outback theme going here?"
"No, but they had it in the storeroom in the back." House said jumping in to answer the question. "They were more than happy to redecorate for just us when I told them that our Aussie specifically picked this place to celebrate his marriage because he wanted to show his new wife his homeland."
Everyone snickered at the fact that the yahoos that ran this place actually bought that story.
"Of course the owner deeply apologized that in their grief someone stole the Crocodile Hunter picture. I told him not to worry, as an Aussie, Chase had his own shrine at home."
House's comment managed to get heavier laughter from the group. Sensing that the timing was now right, he all of a sudden got up and pulled something out of his pocket. "Say cheese," and he snapped the picture without warning. The others all stared at him like he went mad.
"What? You have to take photos at a wedding reception." Before anyone could respond House felt the disposable camera snatched from his hands. He looked down to see Pamela putting the camera into her purse. "They need those memories for their scrapbook." He protested.
"Oh yeah, just like how I'll be sharing my reception photos in the family album." Pamela replied bitterly. "No, I'll be taking the pictures this evening. I promised Allison I'd keep an eye on you."
House sat back down with a dejected look on his face. "Party pooper. Can I at least get you to entertain an idea I have involving the ladies room?"
Pamela's evil-eyed glare indicated that the answer was indeed no.
House sulked some more over his great plan being thwarted. "So when Foreman tells you about his desire for having kids…"
House slightly smirked when he was cutoff from his latest prod by a quickly set off Pamela. He knew what buttons to push. "You are so not going there. It's been discussed, and it's none of your business." She turned to Wilson. "Cancel your bet now." A highly intimidated Wilson shook his head rapidly. Then she turned back to House. "You better not bring that up with Robert and Allison either."
"Them?" House laughed. "If they ever procreated the child would be so mutated that it would likely bring the world to an end. No, they are the poster children for birth control."
The others stared blankly beyond him rather than acknowledge his insult. "They're behind me, aren't they?" House turned around to see a scowling Chase and Cameron. "Oh look, it's the happy couple!" He greeted enthusiastically trying to cover his tracks. "Bar keep, we need two Fosters over here."
Chase and Cameron settled down with the others while their less than desirable beers were delivered.
"So what did you guys do all afternoon?" Cuddy said using a little 'wink-wink, nudge-nudge' tone.
"Oh, we wish it was that." Cameron replied smiling at the thought. "No, we spent the entire afternoon with a lawyer."
"A lawyer? What in the world for?"
Chase fielded that question. "Since I'm now married to an American citizen, I can apply for a green card. I haven't been able to do so before now since Australians have to enter the green card lottery. Needless to say, with a 1/160 chance, my name never came up. Anyway, the process is so confusing we had to get counsel. We also didn't want to waste anytime."
"Congratulations. There are multiple reasons to celebrate tonight." Cuddy said as she raised her glass and slammed her entire beer down her throat in their honor. She looked around at the surprised stares coming her way. "I need to get prepared for some bowling tonight."
Chase slid his untouched beer to Cuddy since she was empty and turned to Wilson with a very pleased grin. "Oh, Dr. Wilson, you should try to get House to pay you now. We have to stay married for at least two years in order for me to keep the green card. He did say less than two years, right?"
Wilson slyly smiled. "Why yes, I believe he did. 18 months to be exact."
"You know me and my moral center. It's a lock." Cameron assured. She knew in her heart this was forever, but she had to present her case on Wilson's behalf.
House was rather shocked to be ganged up on like this. "Wait, how did you, oh yes, the dark one." House flashed Foreman a look that revenge was coming. He remembered Foreman walking in immediately after the bet was placed. He gave it some thought and realized he couldn't argue with the logic presented. He reluctantly pulled out the $200 from his wallet and threw it at Wilson. "You're buying tonight."
"Wedding gift time!" House proudly announced after they had shared a few more rounds of drinks.
"I believe the request was no gifts." Cameron snarled at him.
"Aw, did you actually believe that I would accept that? No gifts usually means okay, one small one won't hurt." House reached in the back of the booth and pulled out a big gift basket wrapped in clear cellophane with a giant red bow on the top.
"Congratulations Sheila and Ed?" Chase asked as he read the banner on the front.
"Aren't you a Sheila?" House asked. "Anyway, I got it for next to nothing because apparently Sheila left Ed just before the wedding for someone else. I think it was his sister. Anyway, they threw in Sheila and Ed's mints for free." House proceeded to throw several tiny boxes on the table.
Chase took a whiff of the large basket in front of him. "Hmm, rancid fruit and moldy cheese."
"Yeah, it's perfect. Cameron likes really ripe fruit and you limeys loved well aged cheese."
"How can I be a Sheila and a limey?"
House glared at Chase like he asked the stupidest question ever. "Did you learn nothing from me?"
"I'll never convince you we are two separate nationalities, will I? Yes, us down under limeys also like crushed and stale crackers." Chase said admiring damaged packages sticking to the pieces of bad fruit and cheese.
"You see, the ideal gift. Both of you win. Glad you like it. Anyway, Wilson has something for you too."
Wilson went to the same place House stored his gift. "Unlike House, I usually wrap things."
At first their expressions were puzzled staring at the strangely shaped item in front of them, but Chase and Cameron busted out with laughter when they opened the wrapping. Chase pushed the button as they listened to their very own Singing Bass.
"You regifted?" House said to Wilson rather offended that his trademark had been infringed.
"Ahem," Pamela reminded House of his stunt at their housewarming.
"Yeah, but it was funny when I did it."
"Thank you both. They're lovely." Chase said somewhat sarcastically while still chuckling. Cameron flashed him a look that she wasn't as amused. He decided to offer his lovely wife a token of peace. "Mint?"
"Whoo hoo! You rock!" Cuddy for once would have liked to throw her ball down the lane without the embarrassment from her loud mouthed cheering section.
House squirmed a bit as she lined up for her turn. Her posture, the way she caressed the ball, her lanky pose, her big… His train of thought was ruined as she threw her ball down the lane. House erupted into more noisy applause as Wilson half-heartedly joined in.
"House, I only knocked down five pins."
"Yeah, well you are still kicking Chase's ass."
"Are you kidding?" Chase said as he got up to take his turn. "I've got a 68. This is my best game ever."
"It's because of the ugly shoes." House said to Wilson pointing out Cameron's strange Christmas present. Chase rolled his eyes and went up to bowl. He was feeling lucky and wouldn't let House ruin it. If his good fortune continued, he'd finish over 70.
"You know, those ladies over there are better deserving of a cheering section." Cuddy pointed over to Pamela and Cameron, who were decimating one pin after another in their own lane.
"Uh, duh, those ladies aren't my boss."
"Careful," said Wilson, "they might throw you out again."
"You were thrown out of this bowling alley once?" Cuddy said incredulously. "How does that even happen?"
Cuddy looked over noticing Chase and Foreman finished their turns, then turned back to House with a scowl. "It seems we are done. I'm getting some more beer. I need to improve my numbers."
"I'll come with you." Chase said and they went off toward the lounge.
As House ogled at Cuddy's ass when she walked away, he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned his head to see a huge bright smile from Foreman who in his hand had a disposable camera. "So, what was that about a ladies room?"
"So, we get a call from the crematorium asking us not to send bodies to their facility for a while. It seems that they tried to cremate a 600 lb man and that resulted in a devastating grease fire that destroyed their kiln and half of the facility."
Laughter erupted at the table of large, rather portly bowlers who were immersed in House's morgue stories but obviously lost the wicked point he was trying to make.
Chase and Cameron entered the lounge and were unsettled by what they were witnessing. "House is making friends?" Chase asked.
"No, he finally found a group he could admonish and they would be none the wiser." Wilson answered.
"You look lonely, so we though we'd join you." Cameron told him as she and Chase sat down.
"Why aren't you bowling with the others?" Wilson wondered.
"Pamela beat me the last round, Cuddy got the winner. Of course I let her win so I could spend time with my new husband."
"Don't use me as excuse for your poor performance." Chase said jokingly.
"You better get used to that Chase. Wives use that against you all the time." Wilson advised with a smile. That was definitely a plus side to not being married anymore. "So, are you two actually going to go on a real honeymoon sometime?"
"Christmas time we hope," Chase replied. "I want to take her to Australia. We have a date to water ski on Christmas Day."
"Hey Chase!" House shouted from across the room. "Get over here! These guys have never seen a real Australian before."
Chase rolled his eyes and got up to go play along.
Wilson and Cameron stared at each other awkwardly, not sure what to say next. Wilson broke the silence. "I'm happy for you Cameron, but don't make me call you Dr. Chase."
Cameron laughed. "No, I'm not changing my name anytime soon. It would be too confusing. Thanks for coming to the wedding, even if you weren't invited."
"You should be grateful. Tuxes in August aren't very comfortable." He took another drink of beer then a slight smile appeared on his face. "No, I actually learned something today."
"If the right person comes along, I might be willing to try marriage again. Until then, I've always got that miserable SOB over there."
Wilson and Cameron heard more laughter across the room as one of the bowlers was tickled that he got to touch the real live Aussie. "Look at that. Even though he doesn't work for him anymore Chase allows House to abuse him."
Cameron smiled as she watched her man wretch at being handled by degenerates. She still had to figure out why he always took such punishment. She would have to continue to use that tendency to her advantage. "What say we go rescue both our partners over there? After all, you never know what can happen in a bowling alley."
Chase and Cameron had been trying to get out of there for twenty minutes. When they first announced their notion that it was time for them to head to their undisclosed weekend getaway (no way was House finding out) people kept coming over to give them their wishes again, and say goodbye again. Chase and Cameron were vaguely aware that House had been missing. This smelled of another one of his setups.
Sure enough, as they were talking with Cuddy for the third time, House made an appearance in the doorway of the lounge and Pamela jumped in. "Oh, that's enough now. It's time these two got on." Chase grabbed Cameron's hand and held on for dear life as they exited the lounge in anticipation for whatever was to greet them on the other side.
Just about every patron and a few employees in the bowling alley were lined up in a double line, ready to send them off. "Just walk right through there and you are free to enjoy your weekend and new life together." House instructed pointing in between the crowd.
"Gee, how thoughtful." Cameron said skeptically. "I suppose they are going to throw rice."
House laughed. "Rice? No, that would be mean."
Chase and Cameron looked at each other, took a deep breath and decided to suck it up. "Head down and run quick." He instructed. They ran through as the crowd started pelting them with little nuggets that were soft and white. "What are throwing at us?" Cameron asked.
Cameron yelled in frustration as she felt the barrage of confection hit her. "This bowling alley is so damn long."
"Keep going, I see freedom ahead."
Finally, they broke free from the crowd and barreled out the door. They didn't stop until they got to the car, laughing the entire time. Fleeing in fear for safety was actually pretty fun. They jumped in and peeled out of the parking lot for they didn't want to give House a second for another trick. "Well that is a story for the grandchildren." Chase said in between deep breaths.
"Who would believe that? Yes, we escaped from certain death by pelting in a bowling alley."
"Yeah, well the smell would of killed us if we had stayed much longer. I'm glad I took my chances with the mints." He glanced at Cameron with a huge grin, reached into the fold of her sleeve, picked out a mint and ate it. "Hmm, not bad. Stale, but refreshing."
Cameron reached out and kissed his hand. "I love you Ed."
"Right back at you Sheila."
Chase wrapped himself around her in bed, clinging onto her tightly. The memories of waking up alone this morning were still fresh in his mind. "Did you sleep at all last night?"
"Me? Not one bit. I take it you didn't either."
"Not at all."
Cameron glanced around the luxury suite that they just rather noisily consummated their marriage in. They had no intention of leaving this extravagant room in Atlantic City all weekend. She wondered why they got an oceanfront room when they would likely never once look at the ocean. They were too absorbed in each other. It made for a romantic story she guessed. "Did you ever think we would end up here, like this, when we first decided to go bowling?"
Chase laughed. "What, you mean when I spent all night barfing in your living room? No one could have possibly seen that coming. No, I would say our story could be confused for some strange fiction."
She leaned in and started passionately kissing him again. "If that's the case, then none of this is real."
"Maybe it isn't," he said in between his lips moving down her neck. "but then again, truth is stranger than fiction."
Her hitched breath made it hard for her to speak, but she remembered something she finally thought she would share. "You said something to me that night you passed out on my couch."
Chase was suddenly curious and stopped what he was doing. "What did I say?"
"You said you liked me outside of work. I was a lot more fun."
He started kissing her again and pressed himself tighter against her. "Looks like I was right." She let him drive her into frenzied pleasure as she remembered her reply. They were both right and she couldn't be happier.
a/n: There you have it! This ended up turning into a long, complex and really fun story that started as a one shot from a crazy idea I had when experiencing writer's block with my other story, No Matter. I only wanted to write a scene to explore what happened if the ducklings went bowling. 23 chapters later, we find out. The premise of the story was that simple; once the ducklings start to socialize outside of work, strange friendships/ relationships start to form.
This story was a complete blast to write! I had so much fun and have no idea where all the strange ideas that made it into this story came from. Since the show gives us absolutely nothing to work with from a personal life perspective, the sky was the limit with this fic.
Pamela was based on a former co-worker of mine. I always visualized Foreman with someone fun and spunky. As for Chase and Cameron, I will always cling to the belief that given enough build up and proper character development, these two could be together. I'm not saying they should, but it was fun to explore the possibilities. It did take 22 freaking chapters for them to finally say "I love you". This played out in a 15 month time frame for those noticing the timeline.
There's always a possibility for sequels. Just because they don't all work together at the end doesn't mean they won't frequently socialize. I'm just out of ideas right now. Thank you to everyone who took time to read this lengthy fic, thanks to those who also sent your wonderful (and sometimes constructively critical) comments. I appreciate all types of feedback.
I'm off to go finish a pet project now on fictionpress, and I do still have another story in the works here, Aftermath. Strange ideas hit me all the time, so I'm sure there will be more in the future. Thank you everyone!!