Summary: Angst, angst and more angst, with a touch of romance and a heap of medical drama. Seems I can't get enough of torturing poor House and any OFC unfortunate enough to find herself in kissing distance of him. This is kind of a sequel to Too Much Too Soon, but doesn't matter if you haven't read it. In fact, probably best not to. I hope this is a better story than that one – it was my first attempt at fiction writing and I'm kind of hoping that I've improved as time has gone along! I never intended to do a sequel, but then I had some real life experiences of some of the medical issues here and with a bit of extra research, thought I might as well make use of the knowledge…
Warnings: If gynaecology makes you squeamish, this probably isn't the story for you. Also some bad words and sex scenes.
Medical stuff disclaimer: I've done my research people, but I'm also not above twisting a few medical facts for dramatic purposes. Hey, if it's OK for House writers to do it, then I figure I can too. However unlike the House writers, I don't have a team of qualified doctors to check facts with so I'm sorry if anything isn't exactly technically correct.
Chloe reached across the boardroom table to hand out papers. A familiar sharp pain in her abdomen caused her to grit her teeth and grimace slightly as she stretched. She hoped none of her clients had noticed. She sat back and continued presenting, ignoring the pain that continued to nag at her.
The client meeting was convenient, giving her a work reason to fly into town. But what she was really there for was far more important. She was desperately hoping that her doctor's appointment that afternoon might shed some light on the pain she'd been experiencing for the past seven months – ever since the last time she'd been in New Jersey.
She walked into the foyer of Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital feeling slightly sick with nerves. She had no idea what she'd do if she ran into Greg House and actually had her fingers crossed as a talisman that she hoped would get her through to Dr Wright's consulting rooms without so much as catching sight of him.
Of course, life wasn't meant to be that easy.
House was in the clinic, just signing out after his morning shift. He looked up and through the glass doors saw Chloe Parker crossing the hospital foyer. He knew it was her instantly, and without thinking he dropped his pen and raced across to catch her before she disappeared into the elevator.
Chloe had just pressed the button for the second floor and the doors were sliding shut when a cane inserted itself between the doors, pulling them back. Chloe took a deep breath, trying to prepare for the face she knew she'd see as soon as the doors opened.
Sure enough, there stood Greg House. Despite her anxiety she still couldn't help remembering why she'd found him so attractive, why they'd gotten into the mess they had in the first place.
"Hello there," House greeted her. Likewise, he was struck by how attractive she was, her tumbling brunette curls, green eyes and full mouth giving her the slightly exotic look of a 1940s movie star. Like most times he'd seen her, she was power-suited, shapely legs emerging from her navy pencil skirt and tapering into the stylish heels she always wore to make up for her short stature. But in comparison to the last time they'd met she was thinner and had a drawn, tired look about her face.
He also realised he'd acted without thinking and now that they were face-to-face he had no idea what more to say to her.
An older woman in the back of the elevator coughed politely as House and Chloe's silent staring dragged on and the elevator dinged impatiently to be set free.
House made a snap decision and stepped into the elevator next to Chloe.
They rode up to the second floor in silence, standing next to each other. He was close enough that Chloe could smell him, feel the heat from his arm next to hers. He looked just as she remembered, maybe a little tired, but still that irresistible combination of scruffy and charming.
House was still searching for something to say when the elevator doors slid open and Chloe stepped out. No, he realised, he was not stuck for something to say, just where to start. He followed her and grabbed her arm, steering her into a deserted seating area near the elevators. His anger from seven months ago – the phone calls he'd made that had never been returned – bit him sharply. How could she come back here unannounced and not expect him to be angry?
Then it occurred to him that they weren't on his floor. He'd assumed that she'd come to the hospital to see him, but why had she got out on the second floor? Suddenly it dawned on him: gynaecology and obstetrics were on two.
"Why are you here?" he asked bluntly.
"I have an appointment with Dr Wright," Chloe explained, reluctantly. She didn't want him to know, but also saw no point in lying – knowing him and his resourcefulness, she was sure he'd find a way to get the information anyway.
"And I'm going to be late if you don't let me go," she said irritably, shrugging his hand from her arm where he still gripped her.
"Why are you seeing him?" he asked bluntly.
"Just popping in to say hello," she answered sarcastically.
"Right. I'm coming with you." House started walking towards Wright's office. If she wasn't going to tell him what was going on, he'd find out for himself.
"No!" Chloe exclaimed loudly, attracting the attention of a passing nurse who paused briefly to see if things were alright.
"I mean, that's not necessary," Chloe said, her voice lowered.
House paused. His primary emotion towards this woman right now was anger. Chloe had walked out of his life without a word, and she'd rejected his attempts to make contact. He felt spurned and betrayed – after all, he'd honestly tried and she'd just disappeared. His anger was also finely sharpened by guilt: guilt at how he'd treated her just before they'd parted – uncertain how to respond and plagued by doubts, he'd avoided her. It was only after she left, after he'd had time to think, that he desperately wanted to talk to her. Wanted to talk about what had happened, what might have been, what it meant. She'd denied him that.
But if she was still sick, if there was something wrong with her because of it all… He felt a confusing conflict of anger and concern churning inside him.
Chloe felt her own guilt strongly. She knew that half the reason she was so anxious about running into him was that she felt badly about how she'd behaved after she'd left New Jersey. But she also didn't feel under any obligation to share the agony of the past months with him.
"It's just…" she said haltingly, "…it'd be best if you left me alone. Please."
She headed down the corridor to the consulting rooms, leaving House standing wordless behind her.
A/N: With thanks to LadyFr for being an encouraging and supportive beta!