Chase was in the shower when her phone buzzed the first time. She’d just gotten back from a 5K run and, despite not sleeping much at all, she was quite happy with her time. Running served two purposes for her: one, to keep her body physically fit, and, two, to keep her mind off things. It was one of the few tools she still had at her disposal to clear her head.
After drying off, her phone buzzed again, and this time she managed to grab it before it rang out.
Without looking at the caller, she answered it.
"Agent Adams, it's Director Hampton. I've been trying to get a hold of your partner all morning, with no luck. Any idea where he might be?"
Chase thought back to how drunk Stitts had been the night before.
"No idea, but I could swing by his place if you want. What's up? New case?" she asked hopefully.
Director Hampton grunted. Chase was too distracted by the prospect of a new case to be annoyed by the fact that Hampton had only called her because Stitts was unavailable.
"See if you can round him up and meet me at the headquarters as soon as you can."
Chase glanced at herself in the mirror and thought that even despite her lack of sleep, she would be able to make herself look presentable in only a few minutes.
"Sure thing. Is it a new case? Is it—"
The phone beeped, letting her know that the Director had already hung up.
"Yeah, cool, thanks for the chat.”
Chase dressed, put on the bare minimum of makeup, and quickly brewed a hot cup of coffee before heading to Stitts’s place for the second time in less than twelve hours.
"Stitts? Hey, Stitts, you in here?" Chase shouted as she knocked on the door. It swung open without even having to try the knob. Eyebrow raised, she leaned inside. "All right, I'm coming in…”
She hoped that he would holler back at her, say something along the lines of, give me a minute and a half-bottle of Tylenol, but the interior of the apartment was silent.
Her concern building, Chase stepped inside and immediately crinkled her nose. It reeked of sweat and sour alcohol.
A quick glance at the kitchen counter, and she realized where the smell was coming from. At least some—most—of it, anyway.
The counter was covered with empty beer bottles, totaling a dozen or more. There were also several take-out containers littered about. Chase couldn’t resist; she walked over and peeked inside the first white cardboard container that she saw, and then immediately recoiled, wishing she hadn't.
Whatever it was, whatever Asian delicacy had once graced the inside of that cardboard, had gone off. And not over the course of one night, either.
Jesus, Stitts. We’ve been off work for a couple of months and you’ve really let yourself go.
After their brief ‘encounter’ they’d parted ways, only texting a couple of times a week to keep in touch. Chase had suspected that Stitts just needed a break but had never considered that it had gotten this bad.
She swallowed hard, recalling the feelings that she’d experienced when they’d brushed up against each other at the bar.
It hadn’t been so bad that he’d think about—
Chase shook her head.
"Stitts? You here?" she shouted a little louder this time.
Still no answer.
Her concern becoming palpable now, Chase made her way deeper into the apartment, stepping over piles of soiled laundry as she went.
On the table beside a worn leather chair that, judging by the multitude of creases, was Stitts’s favorite, there was an ashtray brimming with cigarette butts.
“Gross,” she muttered.
Chase glanced into the bathroom, hoping to find Stitts passed out in the bathtub but was met only by a toilet bowl full of dark yellow piss.
She’d become accustomed to the smell in the bachelor pad, but the bathroom was next level.
The only place left that Stitts could be was in the bedroom, and the door was closed.
Chase strode up to the door with purpose and then knocked without hesitation.
"Okay, Stitts, I'm coming in then. Make sure—" she continued speaking as she opened the door and pushed it wide —"you're decent.”
The room was completely empty. The bedsheets were balled up at the foot of the bed, and the pillows were lying on the floor. The window was closed, the lights were off, and the dresser drawers were all open to varying degrees.
Chase just stood in the doorway for a moment, her eyes scanning the room back and forth as if expecting Stitts to emerge from the shadows.
"Where the fuck are you, Stitts?"