Author's note: This is my first House fiction, so really appreciate comments. Please be gentle! This chapter kind of sets the scene and is mostly about House and my new character. But stay tuned, Wilson and Cuddy are going to have important roles to play later.
The key felt heavy and slightly sharp as Chloe distractedly ran her fingernail along the jagged edge. She watched the street lights flicker on as the cab made its way through the rain-drenched streets. Jetlag made her thinking slow and jumbled. What had it been? Three time zones in one week? She was pretty sure it was Thursday evening, but she wasn't entirely positive. She felt tired right down to her bones, but then maybe she was just getting too old for this life.
She was in Jersey, not – it must be said – necessarily her pick of global hot spots, but it did include one significant upside. A bright spark in her otherwise lack-lustre sex life. Sure, the globe-trotting management consultant lifestyle sounded cool on paper. But in real life it was airports, bad food, boring hotel rooms and eating out on your own.
Then there'd been that night, five months ago, when she'd gone to a bar, treating herself after a particularly successful presentation. She ordered a 10-year-old Glenmorangie, because she deserved it. Her drink order piqued the interest of a scruffy-looking guy sitting at the bar and he'd glanced up with sad eyes. Blue to her green; both lacking something, maybe on that night, the same something. He raised his glass and one eyebrow to her in silent cheers, downed it and gestured to the barman. "While you're pouring."
Drunk men, especially older, dishevelled, and sitting by themselves at a bar, had always been one thing to Chloe: a nuisance. Travelling alone so often meant she avoided bars generally, but when she did go, she took a book, put on a grandma cardigan, wore her best unapproachable body language. Then when inevitably some pathetic guy had a go, she'd smile, be nice, but firm. It was always her cue to leave.
But that night she hadn't, she was too high on her own success, didn't want it spoiled by someone else. He'd bought the next round of the top-shelf drink and, despite the unshaven face and mussed hair, she could see his t-shirt was designer. So they'd started discussing the merits of Scotch whisky. Then before she knew it he was in her hotel room and, as she caught her breath after one of the best orgasms of her life, she wondered how many other drunks in other bars she might have misjudged. The sex was limited because he had an injured leg, but to make up for it he wasn't shy of going south and, when he got there, of satisfaction guaranteed. She'd practically buzzed for days afterwards and had smiled each time she saw the fading beard-rash marks on her inner thighs.
Like most men, he fell asleep straight away, but woke again not even an hour later, getting up to take some pain killers gesturing vaguely at his right thigh by way of explanation. Then they'd picked up their conversation again, comfortably lying next to each other in the dark. He'd been intrigued about her travel, especially in Asia, wanted to know more about her job, and smiled suggestively when she told him she visited Jersey once a month or so. Maybe he was good at asking questions, or maybe she'd just gone too long without a male's interest, but she ended up telling him far more about herself than she found out about him. She did discover he was a doctor, never married, got some vague details about his leg injury and could tell he was well travelled himself by the questions he asked, but that was about it. Then, laughingly and embarrassedly, they'd exchanged names: pleased to meet you Chloe Parker, I'm Greg House.
When they parted early the next morning, he gave her his phone number, told her to look him up next time she was in town. Which she had – and now she was at the point of inventing excuses to find herself in Jersey. The reason for this trip was pretty flimsy, the client thrilled she'd be able to attend a one-hour meeting in person, rather than by teleconference. But hey, what was the point of this nomadic lifestyle if she couldn't make it work for her once in a while?
And so when the plane had landed that afternoon, despite her tiredness, the first thing she did was make the call. Booty call. Now she was on her way to his place. It had been five months since they met, but strictly speaking this was still just their sixth date, so she was nervous about the fact that she was on her way to his apartment on her own. It had been his idea – she'd told him she'd book into a hotel and see him tomorrow – he said he'd sleep better if they could spend the weekend at his place. She'd made a lame joke about whether he'd get any sleep at all regardless of where they were, and then his voice had dropped and he'd told her with an urgent tone in his voice that although he couldn't leave the hospital right away, he'd leave a key to his place at the hospital's reception desk and she could pick it up on the way from the airport. He'd meet her there later. For some serious not-sleeping.
Chloe knocked before opening the door with the key – just in case. It was strange to enter someone else's space by herself and she felt a little unsettled. Although she'd been there once before – vaguely remembered where the light switches were, knew enough to know there'd be no food in the fridge – it was a single man's place and it showed so much of its owner, so much that he thought he kept hidden. And it was hidden, from most of the world, but it was all hidden here, in his apartment. She'd felt like she'd discovered some of the vital pieces of a jigsaw puzzle the first time she'd walked in.
She dragged her suitcase into the bedroom, slumped it in a corner and headed to the bathroom for a shower. The warm water was cleansing and washed away the stale aircraft smell, but still her tiredness was overwhelming. She wanted to be awake when he got home, have a drink together, go to bed together – if they got that far down the hallway. But she knew she'd be asleep as soon as she sat down. A nap was unavoidable and he had said he'd be a couple of hours, so there was enough time for a quick rest and then she could get up again.
The thought of opening and unpacking her suitcase to find something to sleep in was too much. She wandered into the bedroom, finding a red t-shirt lying crumpled on the end of the bed, the bed barely made with the covers roughly pulled up. She picked up the shirt, put it on, crawled into bed. Apart from the lack of his touch, it was almost like he was there with her – she could smell him on the t-shirt, in the bed, all around her. She took a few deep breaths and felt her body relaxing, smoothing out the stiff muscles from the plane flight. Before she had time for another thought, she was asleep.
House walked in the door of his apartment, slinging his backpack onto the floor. He hung his cane on the door mantle and absently grabbed a Vicoden bottle from his jacket pocket, neatly swallowing a dose. He was irritated: his current patient wasn't improving and despite prescribing new treatment, he still wasn't sure he had the diagnosis nailed. Arguing with the team had kept him there far longer than he'd wanted and he knew he'd been getting more and more irritable as the night had worn on, even by his standards. Not only had he been frustrated by not being able to solve the case; he was also keenly aware that some of the best sex of his life was waiting at home for him.
His 'frequent flyer', Wilson had dubbed her, after that first weekend when he came into work whistling. Wilson had known immediately that something was up, and to be honest he hadn't had to try too hard to get the truth out of House. House had been happy to kiss and tell. Brag. Not just the fantastic sex but the perfection of it all. She flew into Jersey every few weeks, they had amazing sex, then she left; lived her life elsewhere. She was funny, entertaining – not to mention hot – and never asked anything of him outside of bed. She didn't even call him unless she was in town or about to arrive. In fact other than her name, a vague idea of what she did as a job, and what made her growl his name when she came, he knew barely anything about her. And in contrast to most of his recent sexual encounters, there was no bill at the end.
Their last weekend together they had barely left her hotel room. Afterwards he had felt a rare calm, as if some frantic, panicked part of him had been sated – for a while at least. When she'd called today, well, he'd been in the middle of refereeing the bickering between Chase and Cameron about whether or not to do an MRI. Distracted. When she'd suggested seeing him tomorrow instead, it had finally clicked in his head – and he knew he didn't want to wait. Not even a day. And if he was going to be having sex all weekend – and he certainly hoped he would be – he wanted to be at home where he had secret Vicodin stashes and wasn't stumbling around unfamiliar furniture during the night when his leg cramped.
Turning on the lights and limping into the apartment, he realised he had some undefined expectation of finding her waiting to greet him. It was disappointing to find no nymphette sitting on the couch, drink in hand. He glanced at his watch and discovered it was 3am – about four hours later than he had thought it was. No wonder the team had been looking a little ragged when they'd finally called it quits. Ruefully he decided it probably was a little unrealistic to expect her to have waited up.
Despite expecting to find her in his bed, he felt vaguely unsettled to walk into the bedroom and find the outline of a sleeping body clearly visible under the covers. He couldn't remember the last time there'd been a woman here without him. From the light drifting into the room from behind him he saw she was wearing one of his t-shirts – the one he'd been wearing yesterday to be exact.
She stirred, disturbed by the light. She saw him standing in the doorway, the light streaming from behind him obscuring his face. Sleepily she smiled. "Hi."
He walked closer, sat down on the side of the bed. Looked her in the face, checked the t-shirt again, definitely his.
"So you made yourself at home." He'd kind of meant it in a welcoming way, but as the words were leaving his mouth he realised that wasn't what he meant at all.
She got him. He probably had a scathing name for girls who wore their boyfriends' clothing.
"I couldn't face opening my suitcase." She said simply. "Bit too domestic for you, huh?"
He didn't say anything, just pursed his mouth and raised an eyebrow. One of the things he liked about her – no hesitation in calling a spade a spade.
"So, how about I just take this off?" She reached down to grab the bottom of the t-shirt and started pulling it up.
He leant in and threaded his hand under the t-shirt to grasp one of her breasts. "Sounds like a good idea to me."