Title: The Kelpie
Length: about 129,000 words
Genre: hurt/comfort, angst
Rating: teen
Summary: House's efforts to banish what happened at the end of Season 7 from his mind are radical, but things don't work out the way he planned them.
Characters: House, Cuddy, Wilson, Rachel, Nolan, OCs.
Pairings: some House/Cuddy, hint of House/OC
Notes: Leaves canon during the last five minutes of 'Moving On' never to return, because honestly, cars can't plough through walls like that. The BE spelling is intentional.
Disclaimer: The characters, other than the OCs, belong to Fox TV, David Shore, or whoever. The chapter headings are 'borrowed' from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, because when all's said and done, one journey is much like another and dragons abound everywhere

I am indebted to a number of fanfiction authors for inspiration. I'd like to name a few here: Flywoman_Returns's Regarding House showed me that amnesia fics can be done convincingly. (I had my doubts about that before I read her work.) Ducky Nicks's rendering of Rachel in her recent fics (especially A Gift of Screws), and Stenveny's portrayal of the same encouraged me to try for a real child, not a cardboard cut-out.

A major thanks to my beta, Brighid45, who put up with being swamped by 130,000 words of fic (and all the attendant insecurities) with her usual grace and aplomb. It's only thanks to her constant encouragement and invaluable character insights that this fic got written at all.


May, 2011

Cuddy's cell phone had rung a number of times, but she'd ignored all calls from the hospital. Her house and her life were in a shambles - they'd have to thrash it out without her for one evening. It was when the all-too-understanding police officer was interviewing Wilson for his version of the evening's events that an EMT stepped up to her brandishing a pager.

"This yours, ma'am?" he asked. "It's been going off incessantly."

She glanced at it, regretting her inability to blank out the hospital completely. It was Hourani, from surgery. Usually he didn't bother her with inconsequentialities, so her hesitation was of short duration; possibly the hospital would provide a distraction. She pulled out her cell phone and dialled the number on the pager.

"Dr Hourani, what's the problem?"

"Dr Cuddy? I - I thought I'd paged Dr Wilson."

She examined the pager - yes, it was Wilson's. "There's been an accident and he's injured. You'll have to contact his deputy."

"Oh." There's a short silence. "Well, maybe you could ...?"

"I'm busy, actually. Could we get to the point?"

"It's Dr House. He was involved in a car crash - I guess we're talking about the same one, here - and brought into the ER an hour ago; he needs to go into surgery. His leg's a mess."

Damn! She'd forgotten - or chosen to overhear - that Wilson had instructed the ambulance to take House to PPTH rather than to Princeton General, which would have been closer. She should have intervened, but she'd still been too shocked. And Hourani didn't know, couldn't know what had happened this evening.

"So get him into surgery!" she snapped. He was in her hospital now and they'd have to treat him.

"Dr House has extensive fractures in his right leg. The main problem is that the femur is fractured at the site of his muscle infarction. The whole area is an ugly mess, and even if we manage to fix it up - which I doubt - he'll never be able to walk again."

"Why not?"

"With his pain issues and the muscle he's missing, he can't maintain a rigorous PT regimen, and without that he'll never regain use of that leg. The surgery will take hours and he's weak already. There's an acute danger he won't survive it. We should amputate. There's no use in killing him to save a leg that he'll never use again."

"Dr Cuddy?" Someone else was at the telephone now. Cuddy could hear Hourani protesting in the background; apparently he hadn't relinquished the telephone voluntarily. "I'm pretty sure I can save the leg." She recognized Chase's voice now. "He's got some bad fractures there, but it's nothing that can't be fixed."

"And his mobility?"

"He'll manage somehow. Dr Cuddy, you know House. He won't want to lose that leg, not for the world. If he needs to go through PT to regain his mobility he'll do it, no matter how much pain he's in. I can do it. Please, Dr Cuddy! Don't let whatever is between House and yourself ..."

Cuddy interrupted him. "Who is the surgeon on duty?"

"Hourani," Chase admitted reluctantly.

"Then give the phone back to Hourani. Now! ... Dr Hourani, ask House what he wants, and then do it."

"He's unconscious."

She'd thought as much. "Well, I'm neither his next of kin nor his medical proxy. You may not be aware of it, but he's married. Find his wife and ask her."

"We've tried. We can't reach her. He needs to go into surgery now; he's lost a lot of blood."

"You do know that you're entitled to make this decision yourself." Cuddy pointed out.

Hourani was silent. She understood him only too well. This was a medical emergency, and if neither the patient nor the next of kin were in a position to make a decision, it was well within the surgeon's competence to carry out whatever procedure he considered necessary. The only reason Hourani was hesitating was because this was House, the hospital's enfant terrible, who would turn into Shiva the Destroyer when he discovered that the limb he'd fought for, agonized over, and cursed relentlessly, had been removed while he was unconscious and unable to defend it against encroaching surgery. She couldn't blame Hourani for attempting to get out of the line of fire, not after witnessing what House had put her through since the break-up.

Cuddy looked over at Wilson, cradling his arm as he answered the officer's questions, oblivious of the weighty decision being felled within a few yards' distance. He looked young, shocked, confused. She glanced at Julia, seated on the neighbour's stoop, her husband's arm wrapped around her shoulder, her face tear-streaked and fearful. She looked back at her house, dust still billowing from the gap in the wall, construction workers cordoning off the area around the hole and nailing a plywood board over it.

He'd already tried to kill her and her family. How much worse could it get? Not much, she figured. Better her than Hourani - they really didn't need House running a vendetta against two people at the hospital.

"Amputate," she said to Hourani. "I authorise the procedure and I'll take the responsibility for it."