Three years of working with House have taught her more skills than she'd ever dreamed of in medical school, and she makes quick work of a bobby pin in the lock. She's never been farther than Chase's doorstep before, and she's struck instantly by the warmth of the interior. Fluffy carpet, overstuffed couch, pictures of landscapes on the walls, like he's tried to build a family life for himself out of furniture and paint swatches.
She finds him in the bathroom, kneeling in front of a toilet full of vomit, face and shirt wet with tears. Empty bottles of various shapes and sizes are strewn across the floor, shards of broken glass tearing the fabric of his slacks and biting bloodily into his shins.
"Oh God," whispers Cameron, suddenly struck by the emptiness of his life. She'd written him off as a brown-noser from day one, but now she realizes that his job is the one constant in his life, the one chance for something resembling a family. She wonders if that's worth this kind of humiliation.
Struck by a sharp pang of sympathy, she crouches beside him, mindful of the glass. He hasn't moved since she arrived, seemingly oblivious to her presence. Concerned, Cameron presses a palm to the flat of his back and he shudders.
"Chase," she says, and the note of quiet intimacy in her voice surprises her.
"Why are you here?" His voice is a hoarse whisper, and she wonders how she's missed the pain that seems to define him now. "I'm not your problem. You don't even like me."
"What did you take?" asks Cameron, disturbed by the sight of the many pill bottles lined up on the bathroom counter. She has to admit it's a surprise. She's never been able to see Chase as damaged as the rest of the world.
He doesn't answer, and the knot in her gut tightens. "Chase, talk to me," she says, feeling like she's talking to a patient. "Did you take anything besides the alcohol?"
He shakes his head, eyes going wide, and she realizes she's struck a nerve. She looks back at the bottles again, wondering if she ought to call an ambulance. But she has the feeling that going back to the hospital would be the least helpful thing to do in this situation.
"Sorry," says Cameron softly. She hates the days when her job requires her to force a confessional from her patients. "How's your stomach now?"
"Better." He looks at the floor, ashamed. "You don't have to be here."
Ignoring him, she gets to her feet and flushes the toilet before wrapping an arm around his waist to help him up. She keeps a hand on his back while he leans over the sink to brush his teeth. There's a comfort to the whole situation, a familiarity and purpose Cameron is loath to admit she's missed having in her life. Disgusting, she thinks for the millionth time, to find solace in another person's suffering.
"You're going to have to take your pants off," she says when they've made it into the bedroom, then smiles at her own choice of words. It's hard even for her to maintain professionalism in such an emotionally charged atmosphere. "I need to clean those cuts."
She leaves to search the bathroom for supplies, but pauses with her hand on the edge of the medicine cabinet's door. She supposes going through the closets would be no different than collecting samples from any other patient's house, but it feels too intrusive no matter how she tries to rationalize it. Cameron sighs, deciding to use the antiseptic and bandages from the first-aid kit she keeps in her purse.
Chase is sitting on the bed when she returns, wearing a pair of the black boxers she's spent a year trying to forget.
" Wilson told me what House did to you," she says, brushing her fingertips lightly over his jaw before kneeling in front of him. The cuts aren't as bad as she'd thought, now that she can fully see them. She wonders if Chase has even noticed them, but for her comments. "He had no right. He's losing it."
Chase leans forward and catches her wrist, surprising her. There's an alertness in his eyes now that wasn't there before, and it almost frightens her. "Did you come here to make sure I didn't run and tattle to Tritter? Or did I just win tonight's title for most damaged?"
Cameron blinks, taken aback. She can't say why she's come, except that lately she's had no one to stand behind, and she hates to admit that it's left her feeling lost.
"I was worried," she says simply. She locks eyes with him for a moment longer before pulling her wrist from his fingers and turning back to the cuts on his shins. There isn't any glass in the wounds. "This whole situation is getting out of control."
Chase hisses softly as she swabs antiseptic across the first cut. Cameron ignores the comment and finishes her work in silence. When all of the cuts are cleaned and bandaged, she closes up the kit and sits on the bed beside him.
"I didn't talk to Tritter," says Chase, voice tinged with bitterness. "Not before, and not after."
Cameron takes a breath, surprised at the relief she feels. "What are you going to do?"
"I don't know. Probably nothing." Chase shakes his head, then winces. "I like my job."
"I'm not apologizing for what House did," she says, though she hopes it's unnecessary. "Any of it."
Chase grimaces and shrugs. "It's late. You should go and get some sleep."
Cameron nods, getting to her feet and gathering her things before turning back. Before she can dissuade herself, she leans down and hugs him. Chase says nothing, but his hands come up to clasp her shoulders. She pulls away and is halfway to the door before his voice makes her turn back.
She smiles, and prepares to make this yet another forgotten night between them.