Chapter 1 - Absent

House grumbled slightly as he limped into his office, and it was 9:30 on a Monday morning. He expected to find all three of hid "ducklings" to be waiting for him, their eyes eager for signs on House that he was in a slightly more mellow mood than he was usually, however, Greg House was shocked and thoroughly annoyed to find only one of the ducklings in the conference room. Cameron looked up at him reproachfully as he limped in and deposited his bag on a unoccupied chair. Seeming to ignore her, House walked across the room to the coffee pot and poured himself a mug. Turning to face the dark haired woman he broke the icey silence in the room.

"So where's the wombat boy?" he asked, taking a sip of coffee. He was instantly reminded that within his team, Chase was the coffee maker. He quickly turned around again and emptied its contents down the sink. Cameron took a breath in.

"I don't know, he hasn't come in yet. Foreman had to do some clinic hours, but Chase hasn't shown up yet. I'm worried about him."

"Why, he's a big wombat, he can look after himself" House asked, leaning on his cane.

"You know how work obsessed he is, House. I don't think he's taken a day off since he started working here. He even comes in when he's sick, but you or Cuddy usually send him home. He hasn't even called in sick." Cameron blurted. The last time she had seen Chase had been Saturday night, when they'd gone out together, and had wound up back at her house. She hadn't been looking forward to how awkward this morning might've been, but then she'd arrived at work, and had found Chase absent. Now she was worried about him. He had been progressively more and more silent over the last couple of months, abd Cameron was fearful that something could've happened. House shrugged, noticing, but pretending to ignore how worried Cameron was.

"So, maybe he's forgotten. Maybe he was out clubbing all weekend. Maybe he didn't get much sleep because he slept with a certain co-worker of his, but I'm the only one on this team who can come into work this late on a Monday morning" House declared. He limped across to the phone and dialled in Chase's home phone number, "Oh, and you'd better page Foreman as well, I want to completely rip into the furry marsupial with everyone present" he added. Cameron rolled her eyes and pulled put her pager.