Disclaimer: we own nothing, not even a functioning brain.

Author's note: This fic is a very expanded version of a one/shot of mine, Almost Like A Child. Many thanks to my incredibly efficient and supportive beta reader, coconut_ice22.

Chapter 1 - Amber's Funeral

It had been difficult even to stand up and listen. Cuddy's idea that he shouldn't be the one to deliver the eulogy was obviously right. Now the priest had finished saying the benediction, and soon it would be time to go and leave Amber there. Alone in the dark. He missed the familiar rhythm of the Kaddish, but Amber's parents wouldn't have appreciated its inclusion at their daughter's funeral. He saw Cuddy approaching.

"Thank you for being here, Cuddy. Will you find the time to sit shiva with me for a while tomorrow?"

"Wilson, I know this is not what you want to hear now, but you need to come to the hospital. Immediately."

"Is it House? Is he dying?"

"He's not dying, but he needs you and you have to come. Now."

"Cuddy, I can't do that. I know it's not his fault, but if he hadn't called Amber for a ride, she would be alive now. I can't stand the thought of him, much less the sight of him." Wilson looked somewhere above and to the right of Cuddy's face. "Also, it's not like it makes a difference for him if I'm there or not."

"He didn't call her, he called you. And he woke up this morning."

"I had forgotten." Cuddy winced at this, but said nothing. "Foreman mentioned it to me. This is good news, isn't it? He told me he can speak and answer questions."

"Yes. Except he has suffered brain damage. He has severe amnesia, and the brain level of a child."

"I'm so sorry, Cuddy. I didn't know that. But I don't see how I can help, I'm not a neurologist."

"He has cried all the time. He didn't recognize me, or his team, or anyone else. He was calling 'mommy' but he didn't recognize either of his parents." With a rather dramatic gesture she removed the thick black scarf draped around her head. "Here's what I did to help him remember."

"What...what happened to your hair?"

"These are the cut and color I had when I first met House, and we had that brief fling. All neurologists we consulted said that he might be able to remember important faces from the past, people he had cared for, but only if they weren't too much changed." It's lucky there's no make up on her face, or her tears would have washed it away by now. "You are his last hope. Our last hope. And you owe it to him to try. Even if it was his idea to do the deep brain stimulation, he did it for you."

"Cuddy...it wasn't his idea. I asked him. And he knew he could die. And he did it all the same." The oncologist looked bent under the weight of a terrible pain. His hands were shaking as he pulled a bunch of keys out of his pocket. "Can you drive me to the hospital in my car? I don't think I would be able to right now."