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HOUSE M.D. FIC: Empathy (1/1)

TITLE: Empathy
AUTHOR: Flywoman
FANDOM: House M.D.
RATING: PG-13
PAIRING: Chase/OFC
SUMMARY: Chase acquires a taste for microwave pizza. Post-ep ficlet set during 7X3, “Unwritten.”
DISCLAIMER: Do you see my name when the House M.D. credits roll? Didn't think so.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A sort of companion piece to Smokescreen by lit_luminary .

*** 

Once he’d made the decision, executing it was easy enough.

He started with Thirteen, who found him attractive and surely understood this impulse to drown one’s self in another for a night. It seemed even more logical when he learned that she was leaving, and thus a more convenient target for a hit-and-run, a physical release with no strings attached. But still, he was secretly relieved when she turned him down, knowing that 1) she didn’t deserve to be used by him like this, and 2) Foreman still had a protective streak a mile wide when it came to Remy, and he would have found ways, both subtle and overt, to make Chase pay.

Next it was the bars, where he noticed how women’s eyes widened at his approach, now that he knew enough to look for it. He rarely had to buy more than one drink to get somebody to go home with him, although sometimes he did anyway, allowing himself the luxury of joining in. It didn’t seem to matter whether or not he told her that he was a doctor, whether he turned on the charm or treated her like she was lucky to be blessed by his attention. He’d become accustomed to this in the seminary when he was the new boy with an angel’s face, but he was truly sorry to see that women had no more sense.

***

Taub was one-fourth right. Not because, as Chase allowed him to believe, he was currently seeing four women simultaneously. No, he had been with each one once, then extricated himself as quickly and painlessly as possible.

He was one-fourth right because this was not making him happy.

And yet, he wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t allow him to feel marginally better than he would have otherwise, at least for a little while.

***

This one’s name was Liz. Chase had no idea what had possessed House to relieve him for the evening, and if he let himself think about it for too long, he might be worried. But then again, maybe it was just newfound generosity, part and parcel of House’s happiness along with the dress shirts in pastel candy colors and occasional outbursts of song. Chase handed her the posy, already wilting, wondering whether she realized that it was a portent and not a promise.

Back at her apartment, Liz uncorked a bottle of Cab and arranged herself on the couch, showing her long, slim legs to best advantage. He didn’t want to get too comfortable, didn’t want to hear her slur about her hopes, dreams, and aspirations, so it was a relief when they both gulped their glasses down and then reached for each other.

She unbuttoned his shirt with practiced hands, ran her palms over his ribs and down past the plane of his stomach. She smelled like smoke and jasmine, a field of flowers that had been burned to the ground, and she tasted like ashes below the brightness of the wine. Chase wasn’t surprised to find that she wasn’t wearing anything underneath the skintight skirt. She made a throaty growl of triumph when he came.

Liz didn’t comment when he slid away and tucked himself into his trousers, just reached for the pack on the coffee table and lit up, a transient flare in the dim light. He poured them each another glass, emptying the bottle, and drank his down.

“Call me?” she asked coquettishly, taking a drag on her cigarette.

He didn’t make any commitments that he wouldn’t keep, just said, “Thanks for the wine,” as he pulled on his coat, and left.

He was sober enough to stumble home, but buzzed enough to fumble for the phone and dial her when he got there.

It rang four times before Cameron answered, sounding groggy and disgruntled. “Hello?”

“’s me,” he said.

“Robert?” Her voice was suddenly sharp, unnaturally alert. “It’s two in the morning. Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” he said, and then, “no. Actually, no.”

“You’re drunk,” Cameron said - those familiar words; that flat, disappointed tone.

“I just got home,” he said wretchedly. “I was with someone tonight. I don’t even know her last name.”

“Why are you telling me this?” she asked slowly, voice taut with what he suspected were unshed tears. “What, did you think that the threat of competition would convince me to take you back? Or…” and now contempt crept in with a sudden viciousness that surprised him, “did you need me to know just how pathetic you’ve become?”

He laughed, harsh and low, closing his eyes against the dizziness for a moment, then replied, truthfully, “No. I just wanted you to know that… I think I finally understand.”

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
lit_luminary
Oct. 7th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
I love this. You did a wonderful job charting this behavior from the onset, while I was more interested in that single incident and linking it to Chase's past. Also, your prose is more poetic than mine generally is. But it works beautifully, and I think each of our pieces can add a dimension to the other.

What makes this work so well is the details woven into it: Thirteen's likely understanding of what Chase is seeking; Chase's having learned (presumably from the speed dating) how easily he can do this sort of thing; the reflection on Taub's partial correctness; Chase's not-yet-quite concern for House (even as he knows enough to realize he should be concerned).

You wrote the Chase/Liz scene with less contact but equally little intimacy; the wine in the beginning was an interesting touch. That could be read as artificial socialization of sorts (the pretense that this is anything but meaningless sex), or just as both of them numbing themselves a little before the act.

Chase's calling Cameron at the end was just painful, and it made the piece. It's easy to see them both hurting there, I felt there was a certain kind of justice in Chase's informing Cameron what he's learned (at least partly because of his experiences with her).
flywoman
Oct. 7th, 2010 05:32 am (UTC)
I'm so glad that you liked it! Clearly reading your piece earlier in the day sparked all kinds of thoughts that led to this one. The conversation at the end was where I wanted to go, so that was the original reason for the wine, but I think that it worked on other levels, too.

I'm going to make minor edits, unlock, and post to Housefic.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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