Just a little something I came up with. I hope y'all like it, and comments are appreciated, they make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Oh yeah, I, PhantomKat, unfortunately do not own House. It's very depressing. Enjoy!


Chapter 1: Willingness

"Just where do you think you're going? You have at least two more hours of clinic duty."

House turned to face Cuddy, who wore an un-intimidating glare on her face.

"I'm going to the reading of Michael Henley's will. Apparently, if you diagnose a patient with death, they leave you something. I hope it's a boat."

As Cuddy threw down her hands in defeat, House smirked and slowly made his way out to his bike.

Half an hour later, he arrived at Mr. Henley's former home and limped to the front door. Judging by the fact that his bike was the only vehicle in the driveway, he assumed that the lawyer had not arrived yet. He rapped his cane on the door and waited to be let in. When the door did not open as expected, he rolled his eyes and went to let himself in; however, the door was locked. House rolled his eyes and took out the gym membership card he had stolen from Chase. He'd always known that it would come in handy. He swiped the card through the lock a couple times and was rewarded by the loosening of the knob. As he opened the door, loud strains of Aerosmith wafted through the hall. Always curious, House went to investigate the music.

In the living room, a familiar looking girl moved around to the words of Steven Tyler while air guitaring quite accurately. House's mind surged in recognition. It was the daughter, Annie or Alicia or something like that. She would walk around the hospital with that annoying hopeful look in her eyes. That look was obviously gone now that her father was gone; however, she looked way too happy for someone who had just lost her father.

House limped over to the stereo and abruptly turned off the music. The girl whipped around, dropping her hands, and blushed slightly when she saw she was not alone.

"When someone knocks on the door, usually the person inside lets them in."

"And when someone is not let in immediately, usually the person waits."

House shrugged.

"I got bored."

Before the girl could retort, the doorbell rang.

"Observe, you might learn something."

She answered the door, and let in an older, well-dressed man that House could only assume was the lawyer. They all shook hands; then, got down to business. The lawyer, Mr. Anderson, placed his glasses on his nose, took out his papers, and began the necessary procedures. House flopped down on the couch, propping his feet on the coffee table, looking on with interest.

"Now that we are all assembled, I will read the last will and testament of Michael Sean Henley. I, Michael Sean Henley, being of sound mind and body…"

The lawyer continued to drone on, and House, growing bored, popped a couple of Vicodin and began twirling his cane absentmindedly.

"Finally, I, Michael Sean Henley, entrust the care of my daughter, Audrey Michelle Henley, to," he paused to adjust his glasses while Audrey straightened and focused her full attention on Mr. Anderson, "one, Dr. Gregory House."

House's head snapped forward, and he jumped up, ignoring the painful twinge in his leg.

"What?!"

House's outburst was joined by Audrey's voice, which matched his tone of incredulity.

"Mr. Henley felt you would be the best to care for Audrey."

"He was a moron. Who in their right mind would give me a kid?"

"The will stipulates that you are to take custody, Dr. House."

"Why can't someone else take her?" He jabbed his cane in the lawyer's direction. "Why can't you take her?"

"It was not Michael's wish. This is a legal contract, Dr. House. It's binding and there are no other instructions regarding her care." He put away his glasses and finished putting away his papers. "I imagine the two of you have much to talk about, so good day."

"Thanks a lot," muttered House, throwing himself back on the couch. Audrey showed the lawyer out, and sank back down to the couch in a state of disbelief. House cocked his head and studied her for a moment before speaking.

"So, what do you want to talk about? Lip-gloss and boys?"

Audrey rolled her eyes and threw him an exasperated glare.

"Just making conversation."

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House burst into his conference room and threw a file down on the table, making his three team members jump. Cameron looked to the clock confused.

"It's nine-thirty. What are you doing here?"

"We don't even have a case," pointed out Chase.

"We do now." House talked as he wiped off the dry-erase board. "Michael Henley."

"We diagnosed him already," Foreman protested. "In fact, he died last week."

"I know. I went to the reading of his will yesterday."

"So what are we doing?" asked Foreman cautiously, knowing this turn of events could not be good.

"May I present Exhibit A." House gestured to the door, where Audrey was quietly standing.

"Isn't that his daughter?" asked Cameron, still a bit confused.

"Actually, I guess she's my daughter now since I'm her legal guardian."

"Who in their right mind would give you custody of a kid?" Chase looked as if he was waiting for the punch line.

"Exactly my point, but that is not the most interesting part."

Audrey rolled her eyes and whispered to Foreman, "Is he always like this?"

"Pretty much."

"Hey, no talking in the ranks. As I was saying, the interesting thing is that she seems indifferent to his passing, almost happy."

"That's your big symptom? Indifference?" Foreman was sure that his tone matched the skepticism of his other two colleagues. "It's probably just a coping mechanism."

"Really? Chase killed a patient when his father died. Was that just a coping mechanism? 'Cause if it is, we should all watch our backs. Either she doesn't give a crap that her father kicked the bucket, or she's really good at hiding it. Okay, so let's hear some theories."

There was silence as Chase, Cameron, and Foreman looked at each other. House inevitably broke the silence after a moment.

"See when I say 'let's hear some theories', you all are supposed to say medical things."

"I agree with Foreman, it's just a coping mechanism."

"Thank you, Cameron. Chase what about you? Any radical ideas or are you going to conform too?"

Chase sighed. "She could be taking drugs to deal with the feelings and the mood is enhanced by the drugs."

"Um, I know you've all forgotten, but I'm still here."

"How could we forget? Your presence just fills the room. Okay, do a complete tox screen and an MRI."

"Why?"

"Because I said so. And because I'm her guardian, I give my permission for the tests. Now get to it."

Foreman and Chase took Audrey out of the room; however, Cameron stayed behind.

"Didn't you hear me? Go."

"What are you doing?"

"I'm trying to get some tests done."

"There's nothing wrong with her."

"Her dad just kicked the bucket and she was rocking out to Aerosmith like there was no tomorrow. Were you jamming to Steven Tyler when your husband died?"

"That's not the point. You only accepted custody because you think there's something wrong with her. What happens when you find the answer, if there is one? Are you just going to dump her, leave her with Child Service's and never look back?"

"Don't know. It depends on how interesting she is."

"If you hurt her…"

"What? What unspeakable horror will you unleash on me that you have never done before? Will you give me the silent treatment? I'm all aquiver with fear. Go do the tests."

Cameron gave him a reproachful look, yet she left to join Chase and Foreman just as Wilson entered House's office.

"Who is that?"

"That was Cameron. Do you have amnesia now?"

"Not her, the other girl. Did you get a new intern?"

"No," House sat and lifted his leg to rest on the desk. "That's my daughter."

"Your daughter?" Wilson sat down. "So you finally reproduced; we are so screwed."

"Laugh it up. She's not really my daughter. Some patient thought I was the best choice for a legal guardian."

"And you accepted that?"

"Nope. There's something wrong with her."

"Of course there is."

"She's not upset about her father dying. That's not normal, so I've got the team is running a tox screen and an MRI."

"Have you tried asking her why she's not upset?"

"Of course I did. All I got was that stony teenage stare."

"You mean the one you give me all the time."

House thought for a moment.

"Yeah."

"You two are perfect for each other."

"Sure. A match made in heaven."

"Have you made an effort to get to know her?"

"Nope."

"Do you even know her name?"

"Sure, it's Alice or Andrea or something that starts with an 'A'"

"Gregory Michael House…" Wilson said warningly.

House blinked.

"Are you really going to use the Middle Name Card on me? That's not even my middle name."

"I was going for shock value."

"Her name is Audrey. See, I do pay attention sometimes."

"Is the only reason you're…taking care of her that you're wondering what's wrong with her?"

"Pretty much."

"What happens after you find out what's wrong with her?"

"Here we go. Is this going to be another lecture?"

"House, I know you. Once something is uninteresting, you drop it, but this is a kid. She's not a pet. You can't just leave her at your place during the day after feeding her once. You have to take care of her."

"Is that a crack about Steve? I was so good to him."

"Until you killed him."

House ignored his friend's statement.

"And why does everyone assume that I have no idea how to take care of a teenage girl?"

"Because you have no experience and you hate kids."

"I do not."

Wilson looked at him reproachfully.

"Fine, so I do. It's not like it really matters."

"Be careful, House. Remember, she's human."

Wilson left the office, leaving House twirling his cane, lost in thought.

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"Is this completely necessary?"

Foreman finished taking a sample of Audrey's blood before answering.

"If you want House off your back, then yes. You're all set."

Audrey rubbed the injection site tenderly.

"Why is he so interested about how I act?"

"Frankly, he doesn't see your reaction to be normal, and he wants to know why."

"It's not like you're going to find anything. Accept," she admitted, "a little bit of alcohol."

Foreman grinned.

"We all did that at your age."

"Thanks. Do you have to do the MRI?"

"Unless you want to tell me what's really driving your behaviour."

"Will you tell House?"

"Probably."

"So he'll get off your backs or so his curiosity is satisfied?"

Foreman chuckled softly.

"The former."

"That's what I thought."

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"The tox screen came back negative, except for a small amount of alcohol in her system."

"And the MRI?"

House looked through the glass walls of his office to where Audrey was waiting, absentmindedly bouncing a super ball off the floor. When no one answered, House turned his attention back to the team in time to see them look nervously at each other.

"Well?"

"We didn't do an MRI."

"And that was because…?"

Foreman rolled his eyes.

"Do we have to spell it out for you, House? There's nothing wrong with her. Look at her. She's like a miniature female version of you but toned down a little. What would you do if your father died?"

House took another long look at his new ward before making a decision.

"Do the MRI."

"But Foreman said…" Cameron began.

"I don't care what Foreman said. I said to do an MRI, now get to it."

"Why do you insist on doing this? You're not going to find anything," put in Chase.

"That couldn't be my team talking. They're busy doing an MRI."

Knowing that they would not get anything else from House, the team pulled Audrey away from her super ball and whisked her away to perform the test.

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"Do you guys always bend to his every wish?"

"He's easier to deal with this way," responded Cameron. "Just try to not to move."

She moved to view the monitors as Audrey slid into the machine.

"So," started Chase conversationally as he adjusted the controls of the machine, "do you think House has really lost it this time?"

"He probably doesn't know what to do with her," responded Cameron.

"Guys, her heart rate's increasing."

Cameron flicked on the microphone. "Audrey, are you okay?"

A small voice responded to the question with a quiet "yes".

"Almost done." Chase stared at the image on the screen. "Nothing seems to be out of sorts."

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"So what did you find out?"

"Well, apart from the fact that she's claustrophobic," replied Cameron, "nothing."

"The MRI is completely normal. There's no anomalies, not even a shadow," pointed out Chase.

"Claustrophobic? Interesting…"

"Are you satisfied now? She's completely normal. Foreman was right; it's just a coping mechanism," Cameron protested.

"Maybe…" House checked his watch and jumped up as quickly as his injury would allow. "Gotta go."

"Where are you going now?" queried Foreman.

"I've got clinic duty."

"You're volunteering for that? Are you feeling okay?" Cameron looked at him incredulously.

House ignored the question and opened the door to the conference room.

"Hey kid, let's blow this popsicle stand."

Audrey got up and followed House.

"I have a name, you know."

"Yeah, I'll learn it eventually."

They made their way downstairs and were almost out of the door when Cuddy stopped them.

"House, you've got clinic duty, and you still have two hours to make up from yesterday."

"As much as I would love to stare into various orifices, I've got fatherly duties to attend to."

"Uh huh."

"I'm serious. Audrey and I have some bonding time to get on with."

"You actually do know my name. I'm impressed."

"She's your kid now?"

"Yep. What more could you as for in a guardian? I'm charming, witty, good-looking…"

"My condolences."

"To me or to her?"

"To her. You're off the hook this time, House, but you're not going to shirk your duties tomorrow."

"Good to know."

Cuddy moved off, and House turned to see Audrey staring at him with a raised eyebrow.

"What?"

"Is that all I am now that there's nothing wrong with me? A doctor's note to get you out of clinic duty?"

"I never said there was nothing wrong with you."

"There's nothing wrong with me."

"That's all in your head. You must have a reason for your behavior."

"Do you?"

House held up his cane.

"Um, cripple. I'm in pain."

"Maybe that's all in your head. Maybe my condition or lack thereof is all in your head."

"Nope. I'm pretty sure I'm a cripple."

"And my condition?"

House said nothing, but walked away from her toward the parking lot. Audrey rolled her eyes and followed him, muttering something about cranky cripples.

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"So, this is it. You can have the couch as long as Wilson doesn't need a place to crash. If that happens, you move to the floor."

Audrey looked around House's apartment.

"How…generous of you."

"I try."

House limped over to the closet and, throwing in his jacket, gestured to the back.

"Sheets 'n' stuff are back there…somewhere…I think."

He moved through the room as Audrey stood in the doorway looking around at the rooms.

"Kitchen," he motioned with his cane. "Hope you like canned soup and peanut butter."

"Don't need any of that. Don't you know? When a close family member cops it, neighbors give you tons of food. Hope you like lasagna."

House stared at her considering her comment.

"Sweet. Well, other than that you're on your own."

"I'm not six. You don't need to baby-sit me."

"Awesome, then I'm going to go do…grown up stuff."

"I don't even want to know."

"Well, good, 'cos I wasn't going to tell you anyway."

Audrey rolled her eyes, something she was doing with increasing frequency now that House was her guardian, and collapsed on the couch, hoping sleep would come quickly.


So, the next chapter will be up in about a week. All reviews are greatly appreciated, just no flames please!

Hugs,

PK