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.
"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
"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
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
'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."
"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
"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.