a/n: Oneshot! This has been floating around livejournal for a few weeks, and I figure we are far along enough in the Chase/Cameron FWB thing where I can post this here now. This is a mere possible outcome for the arrangement and in no possible way reflection of any spoilers. Spoilers for all aired episodes of season 3 thus far.

------------------------------------

Hers was a pure heart of stone. Unable to live, laugh, love, feel, or care about anyone that was deserving of her affection. Was anyone deserving? He yearned to be as cold and unforgiving as she was. He would give anything to be able to take every bit of the essence that ties one to humanity and flick it off like a light switch. That was truly a gift that was only given to the wicked.

Why must he be so pained whenever she was around? How did he actually care for a woman who never once showed him respect? How could he fall for someone who treated him more like a dog who performed tricks on command? Even a dog was rewarded for his good behavior.

Chase wanted so badly to be heartless like Cameron.

Clinic duty was a perfect way for the mind to be numbed, for the heart to be hardened by absorbing other people's burdens. When people overran him with the complaints and difficulties, he certainly wouldn't feel like dwelling on his own. He could easily forget the existence of dire emotions of pain and longing for someone he could never have. That distance, that denial made life bearable.

Bruised knees, bumps on heads, sore throats, coughs that wouldn't go away, and the always fascinating test for the STD. Mundane, mind numbing, blissful. A type of serenity that only the truly pained can experience. No pain.

No pain that is until a fight broke out in the lobby. No pain at all until he went out to see about the commotion and without warning felt a sharp jab at the bottom of his ribs. The peaceful feeling burned away as his heart thumped hard and fast. All rationality slipped away like sand through his fingers. Eventually he only felt the world spinning and turning fuzzy as he fell backward. Distorted faces hovered over him with frantic worry while he pondered with hazy mind why the lights were slowly dimming until they went all the way dark.

---------------------------

"What happened?" House asked as he met Cuddy outside the OR.

"A fight in the clinic lobby, someone had a knife."

"How did Chase end up with it in him?"

"I don't know. Wrong place at wrong time. They are optimistic that it didn't do any damage that can't be repaired but –"

"But what?"

"He lost a lot of blood because it sliced the abdominal aorta."

House's troubled blue eyes stared into the distance, stunned by her words that delivered potential anguish but still indicated that odds were good. He broke away quickly, dragging himself down the hall with intentions unannounced.

"House, where are you going?"

He moved with his usual frantic pace with no answer, leaving Cuddy to worry. Silence was never a good sign with House.

----------------------------------

Three somber doctors occupied their usual corner of the world; normal function not possible. Their minds were too engaged, their hidden fears too well disguised from each other. One felt worry, one felt anger, one felt sadness, but none could tell with whom the feelings belonged. Feeling something for a fallen colleague was much harder to accept than the indifference that usually occurred on a daily basis.

"Cameron, you can't go there." House saw her determined look and knew exactly what she was up to.

"I want to go the OR, to check on Chase."

"No, you forget we still have a patient. The need for the lab tests hasn't gone away."

"But House-"

"Lab tests, now."

She pouted and reluctantly headed toward the patient room to carry out her orders. Foreman stared at a pensive House, trying to read if there was any type of panic. He saw a really good poker face instead. "Foreman, go to the OR. Let me know when it's over."

-----------------------------------------

Foreman walked into the observation room with stoic calm, even though the insides of him were shattered. He wanted to do this task, yet he didn't. He didn't want to watch someone he knew. He would have to pretend he was observing any other stabbing victim going through a tough surgery.

Shutting out the feelings of concern made the viewing bearable. He always enjoyed watching highly skilled surgeons with their God given abilities at healing. The connection of the hands and the mind coming together to magically fix inconceivable damage to the human body was truly inspiring. That was why he became a doctor.

The admiration was hastily interrupted when the patient began to crash. Foreman's heart stopped in a minute of panic and fear over losing another precious life, especially one of significant skill himself. Suppressing objectivity was now lost for the pretending casual observer. It became personal.

Sighs of relief and the surgery continued. The spectator calmed himself as well, but then wondered why he was chosen for this task. He wondered why he accepted. The uncomfortable feeling grew to the point where watching was no longer bearable. The anxiety grew and grew until the knots in his stomach created intense pain. "I need to step outside for a few minutes."

---------------------------------------

"The damage was easily repaired, but the blood loss was severe. They aren't sure when he'll wake up."

"Why did he get to watch the surgery?" Cameron's piercing eyes triggered demands for an answer from House.

House's eyes were fixed on Foreman, determined to tune out Cameron's petulance. "You're a neurologist, no holding back. We are grown up doctors here. Brain damage? Organ damage?"

"He's in hypovolemic shock. We don't know the damage yet. We should know in a few days after he's gone through fluid replacement."

The words made all their hearts heavy, but their apprehension still teetered on the side of hope. House gazed from his chair at the empty wall across from his desk; the wall that so many times took a beating from the ball he often pelted Chase with. Foreman settled adjacent to the desk, lost in his thoughts of about his own brush with death. Cameron paced for a few seconds before the anxiety that welled inside was too overwhelming. She huffed a quick breath and went for the office door. "Cameron, I want you to do the ultrasound."

"Now? That can wait until later. I want to check on-"

"It's not waiting. We need those results."

--------------------------------------

House didn't think Chase would have any visitors, especially the one he discovered as he limped into the room. The visitor turned and gave a fleeting hello with his brown eyes and before going back to his watchful glance at the patient below.

House pulled up a chair next to the other by the bed. "Sit," he ordered the other man. The two sat in unison, lost in the heavy feeling that carried the room in general.

"Why hasn't Cameron been here yet?" Wilson asked. "I figured she would be glued to the chair I'm in now by this time."

"I'm keeping her busy. She shouldn't be here."

Wilson's befuddled expression posed the question why he would want to protect Cameron.

"I don't give a damn about Cameron's feelings. I'm trying to shield him."

Wilson nodded, actually finding the logic to be sound. Falling for her was a worse mistake than walking into that knife fight. At least in this case the person who hurt him wasn't someone he cared about.

The two men sat side by side in silence, pulling support just by merely being in close proximity to one another. Their friendship was that personal, that deep, that evolved. They could turn off their minds, their worries and everything fixed itself just by being there. No facades, no sharing of feelings, no words of comfort and understanding. Theirs was a private bond that no one else would ever experience or ever comprehend. They didn't even comprehend it, but explanations of why something existed wasn't something desired in times like these. Heartache and despair wasn't welcome either; only the company.

------------------------------

He looked dead. So pale, so drained, so lifeless. She just wanted to hold him and breathe life back in.

Her feelings didn't often make sense to her. She didn't understand her power to coldly shut out the world yet find herself in moments of vulnerability where they would escape through at important times. Chase was the same person today that he was 24 hours ago. The only difference was his wounds.

Why did she all of a sudden care? Maybe she cared all along and didn't want to. Maybe it's the helpless that makes her weak. Maybe it was emotional instability that couldn't be controlled by anything. She didn't care what the reason was because he needed her, she knew it with all her heart.

"Get out of here." A voice from behind said.

"Why are you asking me to do that?" She sat tenderly at the bedside, fully determined to help him through this.

Foreman stepped toward her with a sterner look. "Why do you think House has kept you from him all day?"

"He's worried about me."

"There's your reason to leave."

Cameron's tired and confused mind gave him a quizzical glare asking him to spell it out for her.

"You need to leave because you aren't seeing the truth. House isn't worried about you at all. He just knows what it's like to wake up and see the eyes of the woman who broke his heart."

Her small and delicate jaw hinged open and troubled face turned flush. She felt like crying but showing such tears in front of Foreman would do her no benefit. Did he really just compare her to the same monster Stacy was? Was she that cold? "Are you calling me heartless?" she asked.

"House doesn't want you in here when he wakes up, and I don't either. He's better off being alone."

She ran her soft hand over the pale and clammy cheek of the persistent young man in front of her. She did the emotional damage, maybe the knife was just trying to finish him off. Still, he's clinging on for some reason. He had a will, and she wasn't sure if she was part of that will. "Keep fighting," she said as she let a few tears slip down while kissing him with a feather touch. The cold feeling of his lips reminded her that theirs was never a relationship of reciprocated feelings. This time he was delivering the chill.

She ran out of the room broken and confused. Foreman felt no sympathy for either of them. "You still don't deserve death," he told his encumbered colleague. He took his place where Cameron was and settled in for a long wait.

------------------------------------------

Floating, weightlessness, rising above it all, ethereal drifting of the soul, no pain, no pain, no pain… Wait, pain, sharp pain, unbearable pain. Heaviness, falling down, cold, struggle, everything is getting lighter. Emotions welled inside ready to burst, confused mind trying to comprehend, is that beeping? No, no, must resist, must keep floating.

The entire world was blurred by something watery. The distortion was disconcerting, but easily explained by the tears that were in his eyes. As he let them drop everything became clear. The hospital. He was alive. He was alone. He felt like hell.

He didn't have the courage or the desire to speak out. He wanted isolation, he wanted peace. He also wanted to understand what was happening. His mind was clouded, his chest felt like bricks, and his emotional defenselessness was that of a child. He could barely breathe, although the apparatus anchored to his nose and ears was supposed to help.

Thirty minutes later and no trace of a visitor. All he had to do was push a button to alert them. Still, he didn't want them to know. He wanted to slowly fade away. Given the isolation, he probably already did.

The eyelids grew heavy as the prospect of sleep was more than welcome. As he began to fade, his lips turned in a slight smile. He may be alone, but it could be worse. Cameron could have been there, pretending to care.

------------------------

"He woke up?"

"The EEG indicated he did. After 30 minutes, he went back down." Foreman knew setting up the EEG would prove useful.

"Why would he do that?" Cameron asked, still feeling worry.

House wasn't in the mood to spare her feelings. "I can think of only one reason. Hmm what could that be?"

Cameron was never one to feel guilt. Regret, yes, guilt, no. Guilty people allow themselves to be manipulated, burdened by their overdeveloped sense of conscience. She never felt that, especially with Chase. He was convenient, what was wrong with that? So why the tinge of regret? That was a subordinate to guilt. She wasn't supposed to care if someone else got hurt, especially when it wasn't her fault. She told him feelings weren't allowed. Regret wasn't allowed. Would she do it all over again if given the chance? Her mind said yes, her heart said nothing. It didn't want to know.

"I need to talk to him."

"Not happening." House wasn't making things worse.

"Someone should try to get through to him."

"Why? He's the one being rational here."

--------------------------------------

No, no, no…it's not time to wake up. Too soon, not enough rest… Sleep is good, death is better, but of course the best thing would to have never been born at all. Why was his mind reciting Heinrich Heine? What's going on?

Chase opened his eyes to see House at his bedside playing his PSP and Wilson reading a book of German poetry. "He lives," House told Wilson while never once breaking his attention from his game.

"A little more color in the face today," Wilson commented, looking up from his book before putting his nose back in it.

"What day is it?"

"Thursday."

Chase fought the cobwebs that littered his mind to try and recall what day he… what happened again?...Oh yeah.

"Four days Chase." House could read the young man's mind solely based on the struggle in his gaze.

Time really didn't matter to him right now. Nothing mattered to him right now. He sensed the null void of not only himself but of the other occupants of the room. No feelings, no worry, no concern, no Cameron. It wasn't all so bad.

"I'm your clinic diversion I see. Should I go back to sleep for a few more days?"

"No, Cuddy has gotten wise. She only gave me another hour."

"I can act all hurt to get you out of it." Chase wouldn't have to act much. He ached all over.

"I was counting on it." House winced in disgust as his game ended with the demise of his character.

----------------------------------------------------------

"Going home today?"

He knew he would have to face her eventually. He felt lucky that he had gone this long. He suspected House had a lot to do with that, but that wasn't exactly earning his gratitude. He didn't need to be protected or spared from hurt feelings. He glared at her with vacant eyes and acknowledged her question with nothing more than a simple nod.

"I worried about you."

"You shouldn't have."

The two cast their eyes away, wondering how they could each slip away from this awkward moment. He knew they would have to get over this since they worked together, but he didn't have to do that for a few more weeks while he recuperated.

"Look Chase, I wanted to come see you, but House wouldn't let me. I want you to know, despite everything, I do care."

Chase grabbed his bag, opting to meet Foreman in the lobby instead. "Well," he said moving very close to her so that the translation in his eyes matched those of his words, "I don't."

He let himself break into a smile when she was clearly out of sight. Sure it took life threatening injury, but finally, he was heartless too.