Chapter One: Robert Chase

There are two people in this story. This story is about Gregory and Allison. They've been doing a peculiar dance for a long time now. When she moves in closer, he pulls back. When he moves in closer, she pulls back. They're so afraid of finally touching, this fear colors everything that they do. But they are even more terrified of leaving the dance, because this is all they have. This dance is too precious for both of them to want the music to end. It is the great tragedy and the great hope of the human condition that everything changes. Some day, the music will end for both of them, someday, the dance will finally end. The question is will they end up in each other's arms, or away from the one that they love? Because this dance is and has always been about love.

"Dr. Cameron, thanks for coming in." Lisa Cuddy ushered in the young immunologist into her office, or as House referred it, "The Dragon's Lair: Trespassers will be eaten!" The young doctor looked wary, yet quietly confident in herself. This was not the young idealist House hired three years ago. Young immunologist, young doctor, young idealist. Cuddy realized what was different about Allison Cameron, and why her own descriptions of Allison Cameron no longer fit. She wasn't young anymore, the naiveté of youth was gone.

"I suppose you've guessed why I called you in here, this morning?" It had been two days since Cameron had given her resignation letter to House. In typical "House" behavior, he had neglected to inform Cuddy that one of her doctors had just quit. As usual, it had been Wilson who informed her of Cameron's resignation. It wasn't...unexpected, given House's recent actions. It was undoubtedly Cameron's strong sense of personal loyalty and friendship that had made her quit in protest of the unfair way in which he had fired Robert Chase.

"My resignation." Cameron didn't want to be here. It was time for her to go.

"House was really unfair in firing Dr. Chase. I know that, and everyone else knows that too. I'm going to offer Dr. Chase a position in NICU, because it was really wrong for House to fire Chase..." began Cuddy.

"Please don't, Dr. Cuddy. House was right to fire Chase." interrupted Cameron. To say that Cuddy was shocked was an understatement...

"You can't mean that, Cameron! House was..."

"Doing the RIGHT thing for Chase. That's what House does. That's what House always does." Cameron bitterly whispered her last sentence.

"Cameron, I don't understand."

Cameron took a deep breath. "House firing Rob...I mean Chase was an unselfish, selfless act. Chase needed to leave from here, for his own sake, and House knew he'd never leave on his own. Chase is too comfortable here, too...afraid to become the doctor he could be. House gave him a kick in the pants, for his own good, for his development as a doctor. Because of the three of us, Chase has the greatest talent and ability. Here, he'd always be under the shadow of House, he needs the responsibility and challenge he can't get here. That's why Chase isn't mad at all, he's grateful to House."

"Cameron, I still don't understand." Interesting slip by Cameron, almost calling Chase "Robert".

"Of the three of us, Chase has the most of the same...gift that House has. He sees things like House does, the small details, the minor insignificant things that turn out later to be the crucial clue that solves the case. He thinks like House does, seeing multiple facets of the same data, he has House's INTUITION. It was Chase who diagnosed Alice correctly with congenital erythropoietic porphyria when House failed, and he was the one who diagnosed Fran with methyl bromide poisoning while you and House were on that Pandemic Conference. There's only one House. And Chase is the only one of us who has begun to develop that almost supernatural ability that House has, to see the things that everyone else misses."

To say that Lisa Cuddy was taken back would be an understatement.

"I always thought that Foreman was the smart one." Cuddy muttered to herself.

"There's a lot of smart doctors out there, with loads of academic credentials, and tons of learning. There's only one House." Cameron repeated herself. House, House, House. It seemed to her, despite all she could do, her life seemed to revolve like the Moon around the Earth. And like the Moon, which has only one face to the denizens of the planet Earth, no matter how she tried, she always found herself looking toward him. To House.

"Then why did House fire Chase? I mean, he could become such an asset to the department, having someone else with the same ability to diagnose patients like House would be OUTSTANDING! Unless...I mean, could House be jealous?" This last possibility worried Cuddy. God knew the narcissistic old jerk liked being the King of the Hill, the Big Fish in the Small Pond, the Go-To Guy. Could he see Chase as eventually becoming a better Diagnostician than the master?

"No! Dr. Cuddy, can you see anyone ever becoming as good of a Diagnostician as House? Seriously?" At Cuddy's shake of her head, the two women shared a grin. It had often seemed to Cuddy that she spent more time dealing with House than in running her hospital. She often felt like one of the planets, orbiting around the Sun. No matter how she tried to turn away, inevitably she merely spun herself around her own axis, ending up facing him again and again, like a planet. To House.

"Then why did House fire Chase?"

"House fired Chase for his own sake. Here, at Princeton-Plainsboro, we all...lean on House. We can't help it, he is a genius. He's been wrong about a case since I've worked here, maybe twice? There's a paradox in teaching medicine. House is a brilliant teacher. He knows that the best way to learn is to make mistakes. We might forget our successes, but our mistakes, we carry forever. But when you're a doctor, mistakes cost lives." At Cameron's last sentence, Cuddy was stricken with a sense of deja-vu. How many years has it been since she had said that exact same thing to House?

"If Chase stays here, he would always need House to check his diagnosis. We all do it, we rely on House to fix OUR mistakes. Our failures shouldn't cost our patient their lives or health. But away from here, Chase will have a chance to make his own mistakes, to learn, to accept responsibility. He needs that, Robert has been afraid of the responsibility of being the Attending all his career. To be the final say in the treatment of a patient is terrifying. But he truly needs that. That's why House has been pushing him, torturing him, berating and humiliating him for the past four years. Until day before yesterday, when he snapped and yelled at House about Foreman. Robert was telling House that he was ready, finally READY to stand up on his own." Cameron had always known there were undercurrents of father and son with the two of them, and in his own way, House had been more supportive of Robert, more of a real father to him than Rowan Chase. A sudden thought struck Cameron. Could this have been one of the reasons why Rowan Chase had visited here almost two years ago? Perhapse to take measure of the man, of House himself? From Robert, Cameron had learned Rowan was dying when he had visited Princeton-Plainsboro. He had come to see what kind of man would take over for him after he passed away. He wanted to see the mentor who would guide his son into manhood.

Much of the same thoughts passed through Lisa Cuddy's mind. House was an incredibly brilliant teacher, albeit with a style that consisted of doing every single wrong thing found in books about teaching. But the results were...jaw-dropping. She looked at the strong, confident Doctor who sat before her, and compared her to the nervous, desperate to please, emotional Girl she had hired three years ago. It wasn't so much working for House that had matured her, but the job. Being a doctor forced an emotional maturation process on a person, from the pain, death, and witnessing the human suffering that was an inevitable part of medicine itself. House, unlike almost every other mentor, never cushioned it, never tried to comfort his students.(Quite the opposite.) That gave them the self confidence, the assurance of the knowledge that they could bear it alone, without leaning on someone. It also didn't escape Cuddy's notice that at least a part of all this was Cameron's own feelings about House. Quitting was her way of telling House that SHE was ready? She also hoped that Cameron was finally over House. She had called Chase "Robert" without thinking, without notice. Cuddy hoped that Cameron was finally getting over her "schoolgirl" crush. A crush that had inspired a lot of nasty rumors at the hospital, among a staff that could not possibly conceive of how the most beautiful doctor in the hospital could hopelessly fall for the worst. But Cuddy knew better, knew what an amazingly fascinating person hid within the prickly exterior of one Gregory House. She, out of everyone else, had always understood Cameron's infatuation.

Groping for something, anything to say, Lisa Cuddy said the first thing on her mind while she tried to cope with her suddenly changed worldview with a wholly different perspective of one Dr. Robert Chase. This would have the unintentional consequence of giving her yet another psychological jolt...

"Um...Cameron, just how far do you think Chase will go? As a Diagnostician, I mean."

"Maybe after a couple of decades or so, he might be half as good as House. But he's not an autistic savant genius like House. And he's not as damaged as House." Cameron whispered her last sentence so softly that only she heard it inside her mind. House had always been right, she wanted to fix him, not to reshape him into her own conceptualization of a perfect man, but because that's what you want to do for the man you love, if he's in pain.

"What?!" So that's what Cameron had been doing for three years. She's been learning...House? Because Cameron was right, House was all that. And more...

TBC...