Won't You Do What You Are Wanting
Spoilers: Up to 3.15
Could you sit with me
We could count the days.
Inara George, "Everybody Knows"
He knows it will end badly. Everything does and, despite all evidence to the contrary, he's not a stupid person. That knowledge doesn't stop him from showing up at her apartment, hand in his pocket as he waits for her at the door.
There's a stain on the runner at the top of her stairwell, partially hidden by the monstrosity of potted plant someone has seen fit to place in the otherwise empty hallway. Bleach has bled the floral pattern orange in places and Chase fights the compulsion to touch the flowers; see if the faded pattern still feels the same as the rest of the new looking rug.
He really shouldn't be here. Not after the shift from hell and the invitation to dinner from the new nurse in PICU. But the text came and here he was. Waiting outside her door and studying the floor coverings.
Right. As if he had a choice. She calls, he comes, that's the arrangement.
Won't you lay down relax?
It's taking an inordinately amount of time for her to answer the bell and he checks his phone again, just to be sure. He knocks once more and almost turns to the stairs when he hears the her muffled voice behind the door.
He straightens up when she opens the door, smile at the ready. She's got her phone perched between shoulder and ear and gives him a half-smile and a shrug before stepping back to let him through. She doesn't hang up the phone.
He wanders over to the couch while she heads into the kitchen. A half-empty bottle of white wine and two glasses join a stack of journals on the coffee table and Chase snags the fuller glass while he eavesdrops on Cameron's half of a spirited conversation.
"...because Dad doesn't have enough ties. Uh huh. Sure." There's a playful quality to her sarcasm that Chase hasn't heard since...well, since House. It's nice.
She comes back in the living room balancing a tray of cookies in one hand and the phone in the other. If it weren't for the quick shrug and eyebrow raise, Chase would have thought she hadn't noticed him, but when she gets closer to the couch, it's quite the production for her to step over his knees and the edge of the coffee table. She laughs into the phone when Chase's attempt to remove the plate of cookies from her hands ends with half of them in his lap and her sprawled into the pillows at the other end of the couch.
"What? No, it's nothing. Just took a header into the sofa." She pulls her feet underneath her and grins at Chase. "Whatever, Ben. Not all of us are as perfect as you. Yeah. I'll try, but I can't make any promises. If we have a case..." She trails off, like she's said it a thousand times before. "I know it's his birthday. I said I'll try, okay? Tell Kelly she should come visit and let Mom know that I'm fine. Night!" When she hangs up the phone, he clears his throat.
When will you know?
"So," he says, brushing the last of the cookie crumbs off his lap before pouring a little more wine in his glass.
"So." What's the proper etiquette for booty calls again? Luckily, Cameron ends the silence. "That was my little brother, Ben. He's at Northwestern and getting married in July. Crazy! It seems like it was just yesterday that he wanted to be a robot and now he's getting married."
"Huh. That's nice." He's never been sure what to say when people talk about their families, but she seems to expect a response. "Are you going to the wedding?"
He starts to feel the wine as she launches into a monologue of pros and cons of Cameron family events, starting with the advantages of seeing long missed relatives and ending with the disadvantages of listening to said relatives' questions about 'when little Ally would finish with the doctor nonsense and settle down.' It's good, sitting here. He's warm and just a little bit tired, but the flush of her cheeks when she stretches her feet into his lap is more than enough to keep him awake.
He could listen to her all night, he thinks.
But she's stopped talking and is looking at him expectantly. "Hmm?"
She pushes her foot against his thigh, smiling innocently. "How about you? When's the last time you were home?"
He can't deny her foot is having the intended affect, but her question is confusing. Isn't this home? Does she mean Australia? He'd gone down in 2004 for a mate's wedding, but it certainly wasn't home and there was no Chase family reunion. No cousins or aunts or uncles to harass him about his life or lack thereof. The only part of him left there was a few med school friends whose emails came less and less frequently and a few seminarians who would probably remember him if they saw his face. He sometimes wondered what they'd think of him now; if they'd be disappointed or just unsurprised.
She nudges his shoulder this time and he's a little shocked to see she's shifted to his side of the couch. "O-kay. I didn't think that was a hard question, but..." She sighs and tucks herself under his arm, playing with his free hand. Her hair smells nice, like sandalwood and flowers. She's wearing an old sweatshirt and it's good to have her weight on his chest. "Let's try an easy question. Did you have any pets? A koala, maybe?"
He doesn't want to answer, doesn't want to move because she might stop rubbing her thumb across the back of his hand, but obviously, something is expected of him and he always meets expectations. "Nah. I had a turtle once. Bit boring, really. Liked sitting on rocks, eating lettuce. Turtle-y things, of course. Named him Henry."
"Henry?" He feels her giggle and shift closer.
"Oh, yes. Named after Henry Higgins. Mum loved 'My Fair Lady' and this turtle positively exuded a gift for dialects. You could tell by the way he'd perk up when we watched Mary Poppins." He doesn't add that Henry'd disappeared sometime shortly after his dad left.
"We had a golden retriever named Checkers. And a guinea pig. Also named Checkers. I really liked the name." She's almost in his lap now and he'd give anything to stay this way for just a little bit longer, but he's been here enough times to know what's coming next. "What kind of pet do you think House had?"
He has to work a bit to suppress a sigh, but his eyes roll of their own volition. "Something evil, I suppose. Spiders, maybe."
"He is evil. Spiders sound about right. For his evil experiments." She sounds bitter still and who wouldn't be? House had pretended to have brain cancer after all. But bitter isn't all Chase hears in her voice and this time he can't suppress the sigh.
Are you saving up your faces?
After, when his limbs are weighing down into the mattress, she kisses his cheek and covers herself with the sheet. He's not sure why. Modesty, after that, is pointless. But he likes her contradictions and sharp corners. She pulls a shirt on quickly and pads out to the living room, a sure sign that he is expected to leave.
He could say something. Let her know that he's...
He doesn't know what he is, but he knows he doesn't want this to stop. It's enough that he can pretend, at least for a few moments, that this sordid arrangement is more than what it is. It's worth it, for now, and he thinks he can stop before he gives away too much.