It's late when someone knocks on the door of his office. Well, not someone. Rachel. House glanced up from the patient file and raised his eyebrows when he saw her standing there, twisting her hands awkwardly in front of her. Even though he's looking straight at her, she knocks again. He sighed, and waved her in.
"What do you want?" He asked briskly, kicking back the other chair for the fifteen year old to sit down in.
She sat and placed her hands into the pocket of her jacket, hunching her shoulders. "I don't know," she trembled, lowering her gaze.
House stopped and took off his glasses. "You're gonna have to articulate that further if you want me to respond."
"I'm so dead," she muttered, "mom is so going to kill me."
"Although I'm pretty sure I'm going to regret asking, for what?" House asked.
"I - oh God," Rachel groaned, "this is so embarrassing."
"Spit it out, kid."
"I - " She stopped again, then drew her hand out of her pocket, clutching something. Something small, and plastic, and white.
House frowned. "Is that an unusually long reusable joint?"
Exhaling slowly, Rachel placed it on the glass table, revealing the unmistakable pink plus sing. "It's so bloody un-holy," she murmured.
House was shocked. She wasn't this girl, she'd never been this girl. But staring at the plastic strip in front of him he couldn't help but think he'd been so wrong. He'd had enough contact with the kid to know her pretty well, considering that he'd been consistently around for thirteen of her fifteen years. And years of waking up next to Cuddy and then proceeding to come home and go to sleep - among other things - next to Cuddy had versed him well in the ways of the spawn.
But, apparently, he'd been wrong. "Why did you tell me?" He demanded.
"What?" She asked, confused. "What do you mean?"
"Why me? Why not Wilson? Why not your mother?" He fired off at her, feeling unhappy at the burden she'd just placed on him. "Now I've got to be the bad guy because if I tell then everyone's - and by everyone I mean your mother - is going to placed someone of the blame to me, and if I don't tell I'll be castrated for keeping this a secret."
"Mom won't castrate you," Rachel rolled her, "don't be such a drama queen."
"Drama queen?" He asked, mock outraged. "By doing this you've managed to put my balls on the line, as well as your uterus. So we're both a body part or two down."
"Did you maybe stop and think that this wasn't for selfish reasons? That maybe I needed to tell someone who wouldn't make it a big deal and wouldn't judge me?" Rachel fumed, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
"I am judging you," House replied. "Of course I am. But not in the way you think I am. I'm merely reevaluating everything I know about you, so you know, don't sweat it. Don't think you've caused me undue burden by telling me."
"Reevalute my ass," she scoffed. "Stop doing this! I need you to tell me what I should do."
He stopped. "You're putting your child's future in my hands?"
"Yep," she said defiantly, chin jutting out.
"Kill it," he said automatically, and winced as her face contorted.
"But - " She broke off. "It's so final. Like I meant to do it, or something."
"You did mean to. You'll make an appointment, you'll lie there crying and leave baby free. It's the circle of life." He shrugged. "It's what I'd do."
Rachel nodded, but was obviously unconvinced.
House started again. "You have three options. Kill it, keep it, or give it away. In two of the options you get fat, go from a B to a C and start screaming blue murder about whether the food you're eating is organic or not and whether the chips you're eating have sea salt or mountain salt on them, or whatever. And in one of those scenarios you're left with a baby. One that'll cry, and poop, and destroy any chance of a goodnight's sleep. And in the very first option, you stay the same, have no kid and life goes on as it was."
He looked at her. "Your choice."
"It was such a mistake," she whispered, apparently having not heard him. "I'm an idiot."
"Don't say that," he chided. "Don't make this harder on yourself."
"But I did it. I said it was okay, that he didn't need to wear a - " She stopped. "I don't know why. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and now he won't talk to me and I'm all alone and discussing abortion with you!"
"Thanks for the vote of confidence sweet cheeks," he mumbled. "And you're right, unprotected sex was stupid. But that doesn't mean you are."
"Kinda does," she sniffed, wiping her eyes. "Kinda means that I'm now going to be known as the girl who got knocked up."
"Doesn't." He contradicted. "Just if you keep it."
"What if I do?" She challenged. "What would happen?"
"You know what would happen," House answered, "Screaming, crying, "here comes the head" and bam! joy is bundled. Then you wrap it up in a fuzzy gender dependent blanket and take it home, raving about it's adorable hands, and fingers and toes."
Rachel was half smiling, but House wasn't done. "But then the sleeplessness would get to you and you'd start being irritated by the stupid way it eats your shoes, and the stupid way it breathes, and the stupid way it's pupils dilate when it looks at you."
"Don't kid yourself," he muttered. "Don't make it into a fairytale, 'cause it's not going to be. It is, however, going to be your life. And I'm not the one you should asking advice about big life decisions like these."
"But if I ask mom, she'll know," Rachel shuddered, "and I don't want that to happen."
"Tough, 'cause it is," he shrugged.
"Not if I don't keep it," she alternated, but House shook his head.
"Nu uh, 'cause I'm going to tell her right now," he replied, then got up.
"No!" She yelled. "No! You can't."
"I can." He sighed. "I have to. You must understand that."
"But - but..." She looked desperate. "But she'll kill me!"
"She's your mother, so she's duty bound not to kill you even when you do something so monumentally stupid as getting pregnant. However, she is your mother. I am not your father. Therefore if I don't tell her there'll come a time when she finds out and asks me why - probably with a knife to my balls - and I'll have no arguments on my side."
"You're kinda like my dad," Rachel pleaded.
"I don't like labels," he shrugged. "But whatever. The point is that she deserves to know. I don't. And whatever you decide you're going to need her to help you. She's smart cookie, your mom, so if you start coming home looking like you have a basketball under your shirt she's going to realise."
"What if I don't decide that?"
"I thought abortion was a big, fat, resounding no."
"I don't know!" Rachel exasperated, her hair bouncing. "I don't know what I want, I don't know what I need. All I know is that I came to you first for a reason and you're sucking at it!"
He opened his mouth to fight back, but decided against it. It wasn't worth it, and it wasn't fair to anyone involved - not Rachel especially. "Calm down," he implored. "Just - take a deep breath. Now, tell me how old the thing is."
"What?" She asked.
"The thing. How long since..." He trailed. "The sex."
"Oh." She looked like she was mentally counting backwards. "When did you two go to the conference in Chicago?"
House scowled. "Please tell me you didn't do it in our bed."
"Ew!" Rachel squealed. "That's gross on, like, ten different levels."
"Six weeks ago," House cut in smoothly. "So, the kid's roughly one seventeenth of an inch long and has a little beating heart. It's still an embryo, it's not even a foetus yet. Rachel..." He stared at her. "It's not a life yet, kiddo. Not like you. You - for better or for worse - are a person. Who's going to be around for a while. But it... Who know's about it? Sure, it might become the next Einstein but equally it might become just another bum on the street."
"Still mine," Rachel cut in.
"So you do wanna keep it?" House clarified.
"I want you to help me!" She burst into tears.
House ran a hand through his hair, then peered out to check no one was looking. "Come here," he muttered gruffly, grabbing her wrists and pulling her in closer to him. She threw her arms around his neck and sobbed.
"I'm dead," she wailed, "mom is going to kill me!"
"Rachel, don't - " But he never got to finish that thought because Cuddy opened the door.
"Wha - What's going on in here?" She asked, gaze darting from her crying child to her consoling lover. "Honey," she walked over to Rachel and ran a hand down her arm, "are you alright? What's wrong?"
Rachel looked from House to Cuddy and back again. He gave the slightest of nods and then took a step back as Rachel barrelled into her mother's arms. "Mom," she wailed, "I'm so so so sorry."
"For what?" Cuddy asked, the hint of panic unmistakable in her voice. She was searching House's face for clues but he just watched them, keeping his face impassive. "House," she hissed, "do you know what happened?"
"Mom," Rachel drew back and wiped her eyes. "I am really sorry."
Cuddy gulped. "Sweetheart, what did you do?"
She opened her mouth a fraction and House thought she was about to tell... But then the tears spilled over again and her face was once again buried in the crook of Cuddy's neck. House heard a mumble against her neck and saw Cuddy's neck snap back in shock.
"You have Wegner's?" She said incredulously.
"No... I'm pregnant," Rachel whispered, and House saw Cuddy's whole expression change. Her open mouth closed and her grip on Rachel's shoulder's loosened momentarily. "Mommy, don't be mad," Rachel said cautiously. "Please... please say something."
"Uh, um," Cuddy stuttered, then whipped round to face House. "What?" She breathed, meeting his eyes. "If this is some prank you two have concocted to fool me, well, it's not funny," she said lowly, her breathing coming faster.
"It's not a joke," House muttered, and Cuddy placed her hands over her face.
"Oh my God," she mumbled and House saw Rachel fold her arms protectively over her chest. "Oh sweetie," she stroked Rachel's hair. "Come here."
"Mom," Rachel started, but Cuddy shushed her.
"No, no..." Cuddy kept her eyes level with House while she soothed her daughter. "It's alright."
"She only just told me," House offered. "I was about to tell you."
Cuddy nodded, and House saw her eyes glisten. "But... Rachel... how?"
Rachel shrugged, drawing back and moving to sit on the chair. "It was a mistake," she muttered. "I don't wanna talk about it."
"We have to talk about it!" Cuddy said shrilly. House moved closer and tucked an arm around her waist, drawing her in. "Rachel, please..." Cuddy stopped, placing a hand over her mouth. "Rachel, why?"
"I don't know!" Rachel cried. "I want you stop it, and to just... be. Just be okay with it," she pleaded.
"I - " Cuddy began, but House squeezed her side.
Don't do this.
"Okay," Cuddy breathed. "Okay... What are you going to do?"
Rachel stopped and thought, about everything she knew about children and pregnancy and babies. All about labour and morning sickness and stretch marks. But also about abortion. And she thought back to what House had told her.
"I think... I'm keeping my baby."