Dr. Robert Chase was busy feeling sorry for himself when the police showed up. As if the daily insults and petty indignities that came with working for House weren’t bad enough, he had to suffer through his second winter of relentlessly bone-chilling weather. Temperate zone, they called it. Ha!
He looked up, startled. He’d been sitting at House’s desk trying to understand the intricacies of the yo-yo and hadn’t noticed the man and woman walk into the office.
The man had sandy hair with a cowlick that seemed to be resisting all efforts at taming. Maybe that was why he hadn’t bothered trying to shave properly. He wore a grey suit, glasses and an attitude that screamed “New Yorker”.
“Uh. No, I’m Dr. Chase.”
“Yeah, well we need to talk to you too.”
Chase didn’t have House’s ear for accents, but he’d been on the East Coast long enough to guess that the man hailed from one of the outer boroughs, which meant he had even more attitude than the average New Yorker.
“And you are…?”
Chase could sling a little attitude himself.
“We’re from the NYPD crime lab. I’m Detective Messer and this is Detective Monroe. Do you know where we can find Dr. House?”
Chase made a last attempt to get the toy to co-operate before putting it back in the top drawer. He assumed that House was somewhere in the hospital fighting with Stacy, brooding about Stacy or talking to Wilson about Stacy. He didn’t know exactly where this activity was taking place.
Foreman had been dispatched to do House’s clinic hours while Cameron trolled ICU looking for cases that might pique House’s interest. Chase’s designated task was “circle the wagons and head em’ off at the pass”, which he translated as “Keep Cuddy off my back”. He wasn’t sure if it applied to the police as well. Knowing House, it probably did.
“He’s scheduled to be in the clinic right now,” he answered truthfully. Detective Messer nodded and set off purposefully without asking where the clinic was. Chase tried to keep a straight face. Messer would find Foreman who could then take the hit for leading the cops to House.
Detective Monroe remained in the office. She didn’t strike him as being a New Yorker, much less a member of the NYPD. She seemed too gentle to be either, with brown hair and eyes that could either be nondescript or stunning depending on angle and intent. Maybe some charm would produce the latter.
“You’re a long way from New York.”
“Not as far as you are from Australia. Do you know this woman?” she asked, removing a picture from her pocketbook and handing it to him.
He looked and tried to hide the fact that even her picture could get to him.
“That’s Annette Raines. What does…?”
“She was found dead last night in her apartment on the Upper West side. Strangled. Can I ask how you know her?”
Chase’s mind went haywire.
Annette murdered? Harvey. The parties. Louise. The burns. How much do they know? What are they doing here? What I am going to do? Shit!
He managed to get his mouth to work. His voice came out calm, but concerned.
“She was the friend of one of our patients, Harvey Park…” He started losing it again. “Oh god! Harvey. He won’t be able to function without her.”
“You’ve got that right,” she replied grimly. “He’s completely catatonic.”
“He would never hurt her. He couldn’t. Um…how much do you…?”
“We know,” said Detective Monroe, sparing him from having to discuss the details of Harvey and Annette’s relationship.
The policewoman clearly took her mission seriously. She reminded him of Sister Mary Isabella who had taken it upon herself to cram algebra into his twelve year old mind at St. Bart’s back in Perth.
“We found the file from Harvey’s treatment in Ms. Raines' apartment. When we tried to tell Harvey what had happened the only thing he said was “Call Dr. House.” Then he checked out on us. He’s up at Bellevue right now, but they don’t think he’s coming back any time soon.”
“I don’t know what to say. It may be…have been unconventional, but they really cared about each other.”
“Dr. Chase, I need to ask why your name was in the victim’s phone book?”
Chase could feel his face getting warm. He looked down, unable to meet her eyes as he told her about Louise who like to get burned and the parties where he’d run into Annette Raines a few times. It was the same story he’d told House and the fellows when he had to answer for how he just happened to know that Annette was a dominatrix.
He managed to look up in to Detective Monroe’s eyes. He thought he glimpsed a hint of compassion. Or maybe it was just a professional cover for disgust, which would be compounded if she knew the rest of the story.
“I’ll need the name of the woman you were seeing.”
Chase tried to hide his wince. Louise hadn’t taken his departure well. What would she say?
“Louise Howard. Last I heard she was living in Philadelphia.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me?”
“Nothing I can think of.”
“Maybe Danny’s doing better with Dr. House.”
“Please let me know if you find out. You know…you can’t judge people for something like that.”
“No.” Again the feeling of empathy, maybe even kinship. “Of course not. Which way is that clinic?”
He watched her leave, a pleasant view from the back. He tried not to think of nuns.
After she was gone, Chase sat down on top of House’s desk. He reached around to the top drawer and took out the yo-yo. That way, if House showed up, he wouldn’t catch him praying for the soul of Annette Raines.