This wasn't my first long House/Cameron story, but it's one of my favorites. I've been encouraged to post this here.

It was written during Seasons three and four, and takes place ten years after that – completely AU from the show after season three.

It's quite long, and there are two long sequels as well as a shorter story between the second and third, so I'll be posting two chapters at a time and rather frequently – otherwise I'll still be posting all of the series two years from now.

Let me know what you think.

CHAPTER 1. THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE

Dr. Robert Chase had been head of the ER at Princeton Plainsboro

Teaching Hospital for four years. In that time he'd rarely brought

any patients to the Department of Diagnostic Medicine. This was

going to be one of those times.

"House, you've got to see one of my ER patients," Chase insisted,

slapping a file on Gregory House's desk.

"Why, does she have two heads or something?" House asked

"Well, no," Chase replied.

"Unusual symptoms?"

"Yes." Chase was back on solid ground. "I've already transferred

her to your department and sent her files electronically. But you've

got to SEE her," he again insisted.

"What are the symptoms?"

"Nine-year-old girl, accident victim," Chase recited. "A van carrying

kids from a music camp in the Poconos was broadsided. The other kids

escaped with only minor cuts and bruises."

"She needs an orthopedist," House proclaimed.

"I haven't finished," an exasperated Chase went on. "She has a

concussion, but no broken bones. The odd thing is that she's running

a fever of 103 degrees."

"So she has an infection. Fill her full of a broad-spectrum

antibiotic and send her home." After a pause to think House added

"Guess you can wait until she wakes up." He turned back to his

gamephone.

"House we tested for all sorts of viral and bacterial infections. All

the tests were negative."

"OK, I'll have my guys look at her, since your guys obviously missed

something. Now go away, can't you see I'm busy?"

"But..." Chase's pager went off and he gave up in defeat. Either

House would look in on the patient or he wouldn't. Getting House to

see a patient was a lost cause, but he'd be sorry he didn't see this

one.

Leslie Sullivan, a cardiologist and a member of House's staff,

entered his office. House gave her the file and said "Our latest

patient. Check what tests they did in the ER, do any they missed, and

then do the ones they did again."

She looked at the file and then at a post-it note on the inside cover.

"There's a note here to contact the girl's mother. The camp counselor

who brought her in called, but she wanted to speak to the doctor

in charge of Gretchen's case." She looked at House, about to tell him

that he should really make the call, but then thought better of it.

She picked up the phone and dialed. "Hello, this is Dr. Leslie

Sullivan calling from Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. May I

speak to Dr. Fowler about her daughter?" She listened and then said

"OK, Dr. Cameron then." She was silent for two minutes but didn't

notice House turn towards her, suddenly alert.

"Hello, Dr. Cameron? This is Leslie Sullivan and I'm taking care of

your daughter Gretchen." She listened and then said "Yes, the

Department of Diagnostic Medicine." A pause. "She's here because

she's in a coma but she's also running a fever." Another pause. "Then

we'll see you when you arrive." She hung up.

"The mother is a doctor at a children's hospital in Albany. She's

driving down, should be here in about four hours." Sullivan left to

see the girl and order some tests, still not noticing the stunned

look on House's face.

A half hour later House forced himself to get up and limp to the

patient's room. He stood outside looking through the glass watching

his staff insert sampling and analysis devices and attach

nanoprobes to run tests on the little girl. He didn't go in but his eyes were fixed on the face of the child, so like a face he once knew. As he stared at her he thought back to her mother's departure almost ten years before.

He didn't notice Wilson's approach until the oncologist was standing

right next to him, looking in.

"A hundred bucks that when she opens those eyes, they're blue," House

said without looking at his friend.

Wilson looked at the child and then back at House as the coin dropped.

"House, you dog, you didn't!"

"Her last night here. I did the math. Has to be."

"She never told you?"

"Haven't heard from her since."

"And you didn't try to contact her either."

"I had nothing to tell."

Wilson's pager went off and he left, but the look he gave House said

'we're not done talking about this.'

CHAPTER 2. GETTING TO KNOW YOU

Once his staff had left to process their test results, House finally

entered the room. He stood close to the bed, continuing to stare at

the girl. Her eyes began to flutter, then opened. Yes, definitely blue.

She tried to speak "Whhhere aamm I? Whhhat happened?"

"You're in the diagnostics unit of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching

Hospital. You were in an accident."

She looked up at him. A sense of recognition, followed by doubt.

"What do you remember?" he asked.

"We were in a van on our way to Washington." She stopped. "Was anyone

else hurt?"

'Definitely Cameron's daughter,' he thought but said "No, nothing

serious. They've all been discharged." He wasn't sure

what to say to her. "Um, your mother's on her way."

"Oh!" She stared at him a little longer, then looked at the cane.

"She told me about you, you know."

House wasn't sure what he felt. Finally he was able to ask "What did

she say?" And why did his throat feel so constricted?

"That you were the bestest doctor in the whole wide world" she smiled

at him. "Of course, I was only six at the time."

"Six, huh?"

"Yeah, that was after Chuck left."

"Chuck." He frowned.

"Chuck Fowler. He married Mom when I was three."

Ever curious, House asked "What was he like?"

"OK, I guess" Gretchen said tentatively, then more firmly "Boooring

but OK." She smirked.

House had to laugh.

"What's so funny?"

"You have your mother's way of smirking. So, Chick left when

you were six" he prompted her to go on.

"Chuck" she corrected him automatically. "Uh-huh" she said, nodding

emphatically. "He got a job at a hospital in Boston without telling

Mom and me and he thought that we'd just go with him. But

we didn't." She was getting tired, her voice fading a little, but

she went on "He wasn't much of a father."

"You use his name."

She shrugged her small shoulders. "Mom was married to him when I

started school and they used that name when I registered."

House curiosity got the better of him. "Why did your Mom tell you

about me when this Chuck left?"

"I guess because I said I'd like a real Dad someday." She looked at

him expectantly, then went on "She said she'd bring me to meet you

when I was ten. That's next June."

His eyebrows went up as he added this bit of information to the

new Gretchen file in his head. "You said that was the first time?"

She laughed. "When you get to know me, you'll find out I'm very

curious. Every once in a while I asked about you. And when I started

playing the piano? She told me you played too."

House suddenly realized that he was grinning at her. He didn't grin.

But try as he might, he couldn't shake the feelings she was stirring

in him. "What else do you play?" he asked.

"Violin, but I don't like it as much. And at camp, I was just

starting to play the cello" she smiled. "I like that waaay better."

'What an amazing child' he thought. He still couldn't quite believe

she was his. He lifted one of her hands and examined the fingers.

Long and strong like his. Was she tall? He couldn't tell. He wasn't

really sure how tall nine-year-olds should be.

"Do you like camp?" he asked.

"Yeah" she was grinning now. "We have music lessons and orchestra

practice but we also go swimming and do sports."

'She's athletic too?' he wondered. "What's your favorite sport?"

"I love soccer, but everyone always wants me to play basketball

because I'm so tall," she said. She'd answered several of his

questions at once.

Sullivan brought in the preliminary results of the blood panels.

She smiled, seeing that the child was awake. "Everything's within

normal limits," she reported. "Of course, the white blood cell count

is on the high side, indicating an infection, but we already

suspected that. We just haven't found it yet."

"She's not responding to the broad spectrum antibiotic," House told

her.

"Maybe the other tests will show something," Sullivan suggested.

But House wasn't satisfied. "Check for parasites, ticks, anything

else a child might pick up in the woods."

He left her to do the tests while he went back to his office to do

some research, but he knew he wouldn't be able to stay away from

Gretchen for long.