A/N: Bit of a sap warning... I may have gotten a little carried away. blush. Anyway, this is 2/2. Let me know what you think!
Chase can remember having been sick like this once before – back in Australia, after his father left. It's a memory he's buried, for the most part. He trots it out now and again on the days he wants to hate his father, and on the days he misses his mum, despite everything, but those days are few and far-between. He lives in the present, that's how he gets by. And he's no martyr.
If he'd woken up this morning feeling like this, he would have stayed in bed, and damn the world. But then, he thinks, furtively checking his watch, he'd have to have woken up this morning, Thursday morning, rather than Wednesday. When he woke up on Wednesday he felt alright – a bit chilly maybe, a little sore and stiff, but a cold, American December morning after a night with Cameron can do that to a guy. And now he feels like shit.
The world seems to be happening around him, without his participation. The only thing that reassures him that he's even still there is the way his head throbs in time to the teams' bickering voices. They've been at this for a day straight, and they might be running out of time, but it's hard to care. Foreman and Cameron are talking in circles, and he's just stopped talking. His throat hurts.
The piercing screech of Cameron's chair sliding against the floor as she gets up slaps him out of his hazy, self-pitying reverie. She's leaving the room, and he vaguely remembers House snapping orders. He stands to follow.
"Not you," House says, in a tone that clearly means 'Not you, duh.' Cold pain drips down from the top of Chase's skull, pooling uncomfortably at the back of his neck. He wonders if House's voice is always that abrasive. "Come here," House says, and Chase obeys, taking a few steps closer, swallowing over the pain in his throat to make sure he can talk.
"Yes?" he asks. House stands upright, and he's too close to him now, giving him an appraising, expectant, up-and-down glare.
"You're sick," he says, and jabs two fingers at Chase's cheek. "You have a fever."
Chase responds, stupidly, "Oh."
"You're sick. You have a fever. We have a patient with a severely compromised immune system. And you were going – where, exactly?"
"Oh. Right. Uh – nowhere, apparently." Stupid, Chase. Very stupid. Put your head on straight. "What can I do, then?"
He's imagining paperwork or further digging into the patient's history, but House says, "Go home, little germ-infested wombat. And don't infect anybody."
"Right," then – "Thanks."
House breaks out the 'what are you on' look and shudders, for effect. Then he leaves ahead of Chase, limping down the hall with his cane faster than Chase thinks he could move right now, what with the way every step seems to reverberate painfully up his stiff legs and back. Cameron definitely can't take credit for all that.
He's made it to the break room, where he left his coat, he thinks, when he decides that he really ought to just sit down for a while. He drove in to work, but he can't drive back like this. And who the hell turned the heat off, anyway?
No one did. Of course no one did. Rising fever, then. Goody.
Chase snags his padded black coat from the end of the couch and collapses down in its place. He needs a bit of a kip, that's all, and then he'll be ready to drive home – or at least face the PPTH taxi stand. So he curls himself up in a miserable, warmth-conserving ball, wrapped in his coat.
There's a slight flaw in this master plan of his, though, and he realizes it within minutes. He's tired enough to sleep – God, he's tired. He's been awake for a good thirty hours, of course he's tired. But then, he's had the caffeine from three cups of coffee in the last three hours, too, and a few hundred milligrams of the out-of-a-bottle kind before that.
He waits in the lounge for hours, just sitting, almost dozing off sometimes, the rest of the time – just waiting. He figures if he waits long enough something will happen. Mostly, he just doesn't want to get up. A few doctors come in and out, but they don't bother him; it's not unheard of for a doctor to grab a nap, especially when he's been at work overnight. Wilson, he thinks, gives him a squinty sort of double-take, but Chase fends him off with a half-smile, and Wilson lets him be.
A not-so-gentle hand on his shoulder startles him awake, but he has to turn away, to cough into his fist instead of on Cameron, before he can say anything about it, so she gets the first word. She usually does.
"I thought you were going home?"
"Uh – yeah. Just needed a nap before I drive." Cameron's eyes survey him, clinically, bundled up beneath the coat. "Don't look at me like that," he tells her, and scrubs a hand over his eyes in frustration. His brain hurts, and he'll stand by that opinion, whether there are nerves there to hurt or not.
"I think you need more than that," Cameron says, and the backs of her fingers press against his cheek. "Nasty fever. You shouldn't be wearing this thing inside – Chase," she admonishes, as swipes her hand away and presses the back of his between his eyes, "you didn't get your flu shot, did you?"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Chase replies. He's through kicking himself about that. He just wants to go home. And curl up. And die. "Missed the first clinic. Too late to the second. They ran out. There's another one tomorrow."
Cameron almost laughs. "Useful. C'mon. I'll drive you home."
"Yeah?" Chase asks, and is immediately unsure if he even should have. He doesn't know where he stands with Cameron some days. "Are you okay to drive?" he asks instead.
"Yeah. I grabbed an hour in my office."
"Oh. You're doing better than I am, then."
Chase coughs against the back of his hand and sighs tiredly, tentatively extracting himself from his puffy black cocoon. The ambient air is noticeably cooler, and his muscles definitely haven't stopped hurting. Chase hears himself groan as he stands up, and it feels like his stomach has tied itself in knots against the pain. Don't be a princess, he tells himself, but his legs don't get any less shaky. Cameron grabs hold of his arm at the elbow, to steady him.
"Yeah," he says, "I've got it. Foot fell asleep, that's all."
Her tone lets him know she doesn't believe him, but he's not sure about the look. It's either 'concerned' or 'serves you right'. Maybe a bit of both.
They walk to Cameron's car and drive to Chase's flat in near silence. By the time they reach the car Chase is shivering, hard. He tries to turn the heat up, but Cameron bats his hand away. "That's as high as it goes," she tells him, and then the only sounds for the rest of the drive are traffic, snow, and Chase's half-stifled coughs.
When she stops the car, Chase mutters thanks, and gets out with grim determination. Drugs. Water. Warm bed. Or he could just crash on the couch with his warm, puffy coat on.
He doesn't quite realize she's come up to the front door with him until he has trouble opening the door – he's too cold, too shaky – and she opens it for him.
"Oh," he says, intelligently, "Thanks."
She walks into his place with him like it's home, leaving her things untidily at the front door, and she stops him from collapsing on the couch with his jacket still on. "Fantasy crusher," he calls her.
"Fantasy?" she asks. She seems interested, and he realizes what he's said.
"Not like that," he protests, but it's too much of a bother to explain. "Oh, whatever," he says, instead, and falls onto the couch, coughing. There's a thin blanket there, and, shivering, he pulls it up around his shoulders. It's not enough, but he is not going to move now. He leans over against the arm of the couch and closes his eyes tight, blocking everything out except the things he really wants to go away.
His eyes open again a moment later, when a Cameron-shadow passes overhead, saying, "Here," in a commanding voice. She hands him a tattered old blanket from the hall closet, which he accepts with only minimal embarrassment over its bedraggled state, along with a bottle of water and a pair of acetaminophen caplets. "Don't fall asleep yet, there'll be soup in a minute."
"Soup?" he asks, a little stunned. The knot in his stomach tightens a little at the thought of eating anything, but mostly he's just surprised.
"Yep. Chicken noodle and everything." Cameron laughs at Chase's blinking, disheveled confusion. "Don't look at me. It was in your cupboard."
"Didn't your mom ever make you chicken noodle soup when you were sick?"
"Uh- my mum? No. I don't think so. I mean maybe, when I was really little. I probably just don't remember."
Cameron doesn't stop smiling, but there's an appraising look in her eyes that seems to recognize his scrambling as more important than whether or not his mother ever subscribed to the chicken-soup philosophy.
"Anyway," she says, "there doesn't seem to be much other food in this place and I don't know about you but I haven't eaten since midnight and I'm starving."
"Yeah. Well. Help yourself."
"You too. You need to eat something. And drink that," she orders, pointing to his water. "You're dehydrated."
She leaves the room to check the soup, and comes back a few minutes later with two full bowls, dressed in one of Chase's t-shirts, the bottom edge just barely hanging low enough to cover her underwear. His eyebrows raise, and never mind that the movement makes his head hurt.
"I'm tired. I don't want to drive."
"And I don't trust you to drink your water," she says, accusingly, and she's right.
She makes him sit up to eat his soup, and, although he barely touches it, it does provide a convenient excuse for him to fall asleep with his head in her lap, instead of on the arm of the couch. She lets him rest like that, for an hour or so, and then prods him awake, convincing him he'll feel better in the morning if he sleeps in an actual bed, and so will she.
He follows her into his bedroom, gingerly, and they sleep together – they just sleep together – and he feels better, almost good, comforted by the warmth of another person beside him, or maybe just by knowing she's there. She's there for him. If push comes to shove, she'll take care of him. Chase can remember having been sick like this once before - but no one took care of him, then.