House stopped a safe distance away from the center of the room, staring in confusion at the blonde, antipodean doctor currently curled up on his couch.
Wow, crazy, a House/Chase story. (I usually write House/Wilson, for those who didn't know.) This'll end up being maybe twenty chapters, and I'm already being forced to whip out random non-canon occurances... but I like it. We'll see where imagination takes me.
The ringing phone, even at ten in the morning, was as sharp as a scalpel to House's mid-REM brain. His hand found its way to the receiver on its own, and he rumbled a curt, "What is it."
"House, it's Cameron," came the soft voice. "Have you—"
"I told you, if you want to talk to me in the morning, you may as well fall asleep with me at night."
"I thought that was Cuddy's job," his former employee said as he managed to stand. Her laugh, even over the phone, was noticeably tense.
"What dire information could you call me for?"
She paused. "House, I just need to know if you've seen Chase. He's never late to work, and… well… He's late today."
"Shocking," House sneered, grabbing for his cane. At first he was unsuccessful, but he got it the second time. Limping into the hallway, he heard his stomach making noises and hoped there was something to eat in the fridge.
"I'm worried," Cameron sighed, making the phone static with her breath. "I didn't see him yesterday evening, even though we were supposed to go to dinner—"
"Maybe he's tired of you," he suggested. "Maybe he's sleeping with that nurse from peds."
"The male nurse?" Cameron let out another too-high laugh. "Oh, yeah, the man I've been sleeping with is obviously gay."
"Ew," House whined, finally in his living room. "TMI, much?"
She sighed again and said, "So you have no idea where he might be? Who he might be with?"
"Of course not. Just because I occasionally…" He stopped, both in speech in motion.
"House?" Her voice turned shrill. "House?"
"I'm here," he said, slowly. "Do you realize that I'm already over two hours late to work?" And then he hung up the phone, placed it on the end table and made his way around to the front of the couch. He kept a few steps from the center of the room and stopped a safe distance away, staring in confusion at the blonde, antipodean doctor currently curled up on his couch.
House inched closer, throwing a glance toward the door, which was closed and locked. But then House saw the spare key lying on the floor, next to a dried-up pool of blood the size of his palm. Eyes narrowed, he returned his gaze to Chase and inched closer, examining him.
His jaw looked as if he'd taken sandpaper to it and scrubbed the entire right half of his face. The cut on his forehead, one possible cause of the blood, looked deep enough to need stitches. His hair was mussed and had pieces of gravel throughout. There didn't seem to be any more cuts—though, with Chase's clothes on, it was hard to tell—but his left pinkie finger had been broken at the second joint.
He barely had time to begin speculating when a familiar knock on the door echoed through the apartment. Chase stirred, nuzzling farther into the pillow, but didn't awaken.
"Hou—oh," Wilson said when the door opened, dropping his tone from loud to murmured. "I thought you were asleep. What's wrong?" he added, catching the unmasked look of confusion written across his face. And then his eyes lowered, landing on the puddle of blood just inside the door. "House!" he yelled in anxious exasperation. "What did you do to yourself n—"
House clapped a hand over Wilson's mouth with a glance over his shoulder. He pushed the oncologist into the hallway and closed the door behind him just as Wilson batted away the hand.
"What, do you have a friend over that you can't disturb?" he spat, but his eyes were giving House a once-over for injuries.
"That's not my blood," House said evenly, but quietly, trying to simultaneously listen for noises from inside the apartment.
Wilson shifted his weight with a sigh, none of his tension assuaged by this. "Did you do anything illegal?"
"Keep your voice down," he hissed. "And I didn't commit any crimes," he added quickly. "For your information, I don't even know what caused the blood on the floor."
The oncologist's eyes darkened again, worried lines etching into his face. "Did someone break in?"
"No—I know whose blood it is, I just…" House shook his head, looking over his shoulder at the door. "I don't know why they're here."
"Stacy?" Wilson asked, incredulous.
"Of course it's not Stacy," House replied with a small, sarcastic laugh. "Besides, she's too anal to leave blood on the floor." His brusque tone of voice was returning, visibly relaxing Wilson. "Go to work, I'll be there eventually."
He shook his head, gesturing toward the door that led outside. "No, go on without me."
Wilson took a hesitant step and then paused, his eyes never leaving House. "Are you sure you're okay? Do you need help with anything? I could—"
"What, do you want to be late to work on my behalf? How thoughtful of you!" House waved a hand toward the door again, and this time Wilson left, albeit unwillingly.
The diagnostician cautiously went back inside his apartment, oddly relieved that Chase hadn't woken. He picked up the spare key and set it gently on the coffee table, leaning as close to the blonde as he dared. Usually, when faced with a mystery, he could use clever deductions to find the answer. But this mystery wasn't medical, and there was no history. There was just a doctor on a couch, bloodied and bruised.
Eyeing every inch of Chase for wounds, House paused at his waist. There was a tiny, bare strip of skin showing between his shirt and jeans, but fingerprint-sized smears of blood dotted the edges; a dark, dried-up crimson red.
House snapped his hand from where it was in midair, unconsciously reaching to examine the marks. He had to remind himself that this wasn't his business—though, it was his apartment—and that he shouldn't involve himself in whatever Chase had gotten himself into. Chase was reasonable; if he had been severely injured, he would've done something about it.
But, House considered, standing, that doesn't explain the blood.
His eyes roved to the red circle by the door before he shook his head, attempting to clear his thoughts without success. He returned to the bedroom to get changed, every so often peeking out through the doorframe to check for even, sleepy breathing.
Having dressed for work, House was forced to return to the living room where Chase still slept. He stood in front of the blonde, twirling his cane, thinking. He could wake the man and have to involve himself, or he could leave, or…
But he couldn't just leave. House had no exceptional interest in the Aussie, but after working with him for so long, he felt some sprinkling of guilt in merely brushing him aside.
With a sigh, House fetched a pad of paper and a pen, as well as various medical supplies he had stashed around the apartment. Setting everything on the coffee table a foot away from Chase, he scribbled a note.
Cameron called, looking for you. She's worried. Patch yourself up and then call her. He stopped, idly biting the end of the pen, and sighed. Get your head stitched up, or else.
Slightly more satisfied, he put the paper on the table next to everything else. Before he could leave, though, a bruise caught his eye. It was red, beginning turning bluish-purple already, and it was on Chase's wrist… and it looked suspiciously like a handprint. House pulled the unbuttoned cuff of the blonde's shirt back, and there it was—four fingers on one side, a thumb on the other, in the perfect mold of a hand.
Chase suddenly winced away and House straightened, sucking in a breath. But the younger doctor didn't wake up; he only buried his face farther into the pillows of the couch.
House knew he had to leave, even if only so that Wilson didn't come back, but at the same time his mind told him to figure out what had happened to his ex-employee. Eventually, he made himself drive to work, and yet even as he limped past an irritated Cuddy in the clinic, he was thinking about the man on his couch.
Tell me what you think...