"Are you… are you okay?" Chase said tentatively as she stepped outside with Stitts who lit a cigarette. It felt strange asking him this, given how much she hated when he used to pose the question to her. But Stitts was nonplussed. Extremely nonplussed.
"I'm fine," he said. As he brought his cup of coffee to his lips, Chase noticed that his hand was trembling slightly. She could also tell by the color of the liquid that sloshed in the Styrofoam that it wasn't just coffee in there.
"Yeah, sure, I’ve played that game, too. I'm fine, stop asking me that, that sort of defensive bullshit," Chase said, as her partner took a drag. Then he downed the rest of his drink and tossed it in the garbage.
"Is that right?"
Stitts glared at her, and, once again, Chase was struck by how much anger was directed at her.
She looked away.
"I came looking for you this morning. Your door was open, so I came in…" Chase let her sentence trail off, picturing the mess in his apartment. “I just wanted to make sure that you were okay.”
Stitts took another drag and turned his gaze to the parking lot.
"Yeah, well, I’m here, aren’t I? I'm fine, Chase. Just had a few too many last night, but, hey, isn’t that what vacation’s for?"
Chase decided not to dwell on the matter; they had other issues to deal with. Starting with Bea Stigurl.
"I've got a couple of things I need to take care of before we catch the flight to Albuquerque," she said absently.
"Like take a shower?”
Chase had meant the comment as a joke, a way to lift the mood a little, but instead of laughing or even getting angry, Stitts’s reaction was worse: he was ambivalent.
He flicked his cigarette butt to the asphalt and started toward his car.
"Yeah, a shower. That’s what I need."
Chase wasn't entirely surprised to see Louisa in the parking lot of Grassroots Recovery. They often bumped into one another here, even outside of days that they had group meetings. Both had made a habit of dropping in when something arose, or when they just needed to talk, with each other, or Dr. Matteo.
This time, Chase was here for the latter.
Nevertheless, she made her way over to Louisa’s parked car and looked inside. The woman was behind the wheel, even though the vehicle was off. She was staring straight ahead, and Chase swore that she saw the woman’s lips moving.
“Louisa?” Chase said softly as she rapped a knuckle off the glass. The woman startled, but when she saw who it was, a smile crept onto her face.
She rolled down the window.
"Fancy meeting you here. Are you coming or going? Because I could sure use some greasy food to sop up all those drinks we had last night.”
"Coming," Chase replied. "Listen, I wanted to thank you for what you did for my partner. He’s been having a rough go of it ever since his mother died, and after what happened in Washington."
Not to mention our little ‘accident’, Chase thought.
Louisa's brow furled, but when she looked about to say something, Chase held up a hand.
"No, I don't need you to tell me where you found him, not my business. Just wanted to thank you."
Louisa gave her another curious look but then nodded.
Chase turned her eyes to Grassroots.
"I'm going away for a few days, got a new case in Albuquerque."
"I thought you were off?”
"I was off, but now I’m back. You take care of yourself, Louisa.”
“Yeah, you too. And take care of that partner of yours. He was in rough shape last night.”
Chase nodded and started toward Grassroots.
Just last night? I’m thinking that Stitts has been in rough shape for some time.