A/N: I had no intentions of writing this. I just sort of snuck up on me. It's total House/Cuddy/Rachel fluff. And, House is totally OOC. For all the Huddy haters, you probably don't want to read this. You've been warned.
Disclaimer: We all know [H]ouse isn't mine and I'm not making any money off of this.
"I'm sure the parents won't mind if you cut out a piece of their son's brain. After all, he's a teenager. It's not like he uses it." From his perch on the counter, Dr. Gregory House shot a look of total disdain at the members of his team.
The three doctors and the eager med student sat slumped around the table covered with test results and charts. Before any of them could manage a comeback, House's cell phone rang. He fished it from the pocket of his rumpled sport coat and answered without checking the caller id.
"Yeah?" he barked. His annoyance with the current case had the normally grumpy diagnostician more short tempered than usual.
A small voice responded with a hesitant, "Hows?"
"Rachel?" House shifted the cell phone to his left ear and grabbed his cane.
House heard a sniffle and then a soft, "Yes."
The team was now openly eavesdropping on their boss's phone call. House glared at them as he asked, "Rachel, where's Marina?"
Again, he heard a sniff. "Sleep."
House closed his eyes and tried to remind himself that he was conversing with a two year old. "Did you try to wake her up?"
"Yes. Won't get up. I hungy." Rachel's voice had more confidence now that she was talking to someone she knew.
House checked the clock on the wall. At almost 1:00, Marina should have fed the toddler her lunch. A tendril of fear began to coil in his stomach.
"Rachel, where is Marina sleeping?" he fought to keep his voice steady. His team members were sharing looks of concern.
"Da floor." Rachel sniffed again. "Hows you come?"
House ignored the pain that shot through his leg as he hopped from the counter. "I'm on my way, Sweetie. Don't hang up the phone. You keep talking to me, okay?"
He waited for her response and then began barking orders, "Foreman, call 911. Get an ambulance to Cuddy's house. Babysitter's unconscious. Tell them the spare key is under the planter. Taub, call New York Mercy. Have someone get Cuddy out of the conference. She'll have her phone turned off. Masters, head to Cuddy's office. See if you can find Marina's personal information. Bring it back to Foreman. Chase, you're driving so I can keep talking to Rachel. Move people."
The team went into immediate action. Chase had to jog to keep up with House as he limped out of the office and toward the elevator. The older doctor repeatedly jabbed the down button.
"Rachel, are you still there?" House looked up and watched the numbers very slowly change as the elevator descended.
"Yes," the toddler replied.
"I'll be there in a few minutes. And, the police and firemen are coming, too. They're going to help Marina." He flew into the elevator before the doors had completely opened. Chase followed him and hit the button for the ground floor.
As soon as the elevator reached the ground floor, both doctors were out and heading across the lobby as fast as House's leg would allow. Chase ran interference, yelling for people to move and pushing the slow movers out of the way. They pushed through the front door and sprinted across the parking lot.
House slid into the passenger seat as Chase started the car. He was still shutting his door as Chase slammed into reverse and nearly wiped out an on-coming car. He managed to miss the other vehicle by inches. House's attention was totally focused on the little girl on the other end of the line. He made a mental note to berate the younger doctor for his driving skills later.
"Sweetie, where are you?" House held the cell phone in his right hand and fastened his seatbelt as Chase nearly side-swiped a passing FedEx truck.
"Home," she nearly whispered.
House nearly found himself praying to the God he didn't believe in for patience. "I know you're at home. What room are you in at home?"
"Kitchen," the toddler sniffed again. "I sleepy, Hows."
That tendril of fear wrapped itself around his sternum. "Sweetie, I need you to stay awake and talk to me. You can't fall asleep."
In his peripheral vision, House noticed Chase tighten his grip on the steering wheel and press the accelerator to the floor. Obviously, the younger man had the same concern about environmental causes for Marian's unconsciousness. House battled down the fear of carbon monoxide or toxic chemicals. Sometimes being a brilliant diagnostician with a vivid imagination was a disadvantage.
House heard a new voice in the background. "Are the police there, Sweetie?"
"Yeah. Hows, I fraid." House could hear the fear in her voice.
He reminded himself that she was still a baby. "I know you are. But, you're doing great. You keep talking to me. The policemen will take care of Marina. Why don't you tell me what you want for Chanukah?"
"Want doll." Rachel began to cry. "You here?"
House heard more voices in the background. "Rachel, I'll be there in a just a minute."
Chase turned the corner and House could see a fire truck, an ambulance, and a police car in front of Cuddy's house. "Hang in there, Sweetie. Chase and I are outside now."
Chase slid to a stop behind the police car. Both doctors shot from the car. Chase was shocked of the fact that he had trouble keeping up with his boss's longer, though limping, strides.
The older doctor was the first through the front door. The paramedics and EMTs were gathered around where Marina lay on the living room floor. House could hear Rachel crying in the kitchen. He hurried through the dining room and found a police man attempting to calm the distraught toddler.
"Rachel?" At the sound of House's voice the little girl shot off of the kitchen chair and flew headlong across the kitchen to him. House dropped his cane and bent to catch her as she ran to him. As he straightened, Rachel wrapped her arms around House's neck and her legs around his waist. She was sobbing into his neck as he hugged her. As unsteady as he was with her wrapped around him, he had no intention of putting the little girl down just yet.
House managed to lean against the wall. "Hey, you're okay now. I've got you."
The police man approached the pair. "I'm Officer Dalton."
"Dr. Greg House." He patted Rachel's back. "Calm down, Sweetie. Everything's going to be okay now."
"Dr. House, I need to ask you a few questions." Officer Dalton bent and retrieved House's cane from the floor.
House accepted the cane and tried to shift Rachel to his left side. She protested very loudly. "Sweetie, I need to sit down. I'm not going to let you go. I promise."
Rachel finally allowed House to move her to his left hip. He managed to slowly and carefully limp his way to a kitchen chair. After he propped his cane against the table, he hugged Rachel again.
"Hey! What happened to the brave little girl who called me?" House patted her back as Rachel continued to cry. He finally managed to pull her far enough away from his chest so that he could look at her flushed, tearstained face. "I know you were scared. But, I've got you. You've got to calm down now. Can you do that?"
The toddler sniffed, hiccupped back a sob, and then nodded. House managed a small smile. "That's my girl."
Officer Dalton had taken a seat in one of the other chairs. He had a notebook open on the table. "Dr. House, I need to know what happened."
House cradled Rachel against his chest and grimaced as she wiped her nose on the shoulder of his coat. He related the events of the phone call to the officer.
"Rachel?" He stopped his narrative to look down at the little girl. "How did you call my cell phone?"
"Pushed the button." She mumbled against his shirt.
"Which button, Sweetie?" House was confused.
Officer Dalton rose and moved to the phone on the counter. There was a chair pushed directly under the phone. He looked at the device and then turned to House with a smile.
"The top speed dial button is labeled 'House'," he told the doctor as he resumed his seat.
"Rachel, have you seen Mommy push that button to call me?" House was amazed when she nodded her head.
Officer Dalton chuckled. "That's one smart little girl you've got there, Dr. House."
They were interrupted when Chase stuck his head into the kitchen. "Marina has a Medic Alert bracelet that says she's a diabetic. We checked her blood glucose level. It's 560."
"Diabetic coma," House stated flatly.
"Yeah. They've got her ready for transport. Foreman's waiting for her in the ER." Chase paused then asked. "You gonna be okay if I ride along?"
"Sure." House hugged Rachel tighter. "And, Chase? Thanks."
"You're welcome." Chase headed back to the living room and accompanied the EMTs to the ambulance.
Officer Dalton closed his notebook and stood. "Dr. House, I'll come by later with a copy of my report. I'm just glad everything turned out okay." He bent and looked a Rachel who stared back with wide eyes. "And, you are one very brave little lady. I'm sure your Daddy is very proud of you."
Rachel blinked at the officer and then looked up at House. He smiled down at her and placed a quick kiss to the top of her head. He wasn't about to contradict the officer's assumption for fear the policeman wouldn't leave the baby alone with her mom's boyfriend.
"I am very proud of her. She's a pretty smart little monkey." House teased her.
Rachel wrinkled her nose and giggled. "Not a monkey."
"Are you sure?" House kept his tone light. "You sure wrapped yourself around me like a monkey."
Rachel giggled again and squirmed as he tickled her. Officer Dalton smiled as he watched the mismatched pair. He said a final goodbye and left the now quiet residence.
Alone with Rachel, House made a quick decision about what he needed to do first. He pulled the cell phone from his pocket and dialed Cuddy's number. Rachel laid her head back on his shoulder, content to sit quietly for the moment.
"House?" Cuddy frantically answered on the first ring.
"Calm down. Everything's okay," he rushed to reassure her.
"What happened? Is Rachel okay? Are you with her?" Cuddy was still frantic.
"Marina went into a diabetic coma. Chase is on his way to the hospital with her. Rachel is fine. She's hungry and tired; but, she's okay." House gave her the highlights.
"Are you sure she's okay?" Cuddy wouldn't be placated so easily.
"Ask her yourself." House nudged Rachel and handed her his phone. "Say hi to your Mom."
Rachel took the phone and pressed it to her ear. "Mommy?"
House unconsciously rubbed her back as he listened to the little girl's side of the conversation. After a few one word answers, Rachel returned the phone.
"Hey," House greeted his boss slash girlfriend. "I promise she's fine. I'm going to fix her lunch and then see if she'll take a nap. Of course this means I won't be able to do clinic duty this afternoon."
Cuddy managed a weak laugh. "I think your boss will be okay with that. It's not like you intended to do it anyway"
House knew she wouldn't be satisfied until she saw her little girl for herself. His tone turned uncharacteristically serious. "Cuddy, she's okay. I promise I'll take good care of her. Just take your time and be careful driving home. I've had enough drama for one day."
"How did you know I'm already on my way?" Cuddy tried for her best supervisor tone.
House snorted. "I've known you how long? Nothing could stop you from rushing back here. She's safe with me."
"I know." Cuddy fought back the need to cry. She could fall apart later, after she saw Rachel. "Thank you, House."
"You're welcome. Now, I'm serious woman. Pay attention to your driving and let me go so I can get this little monkey fed." House smiled as Rachel giggle.
"I love you," Cuddy managed to choke out.
"I love you, too." House disconnected and looked down at Rachel where she sat tracing the pattern on his t-shirt. "You want to help me fix lunch?"
She looked up and nodded. "Yeah."
House stood up and carrying Rachel, limped his way to the refrigerator. He refused to analyze his reaction to the crisis or the about-face in his feelings for the toddler. There would be time for that later. Right now he had to be the strong adult Rachel could count on to make her feel safe. He figured he could fall apart later, after Cuddy got home.
Lisa Cuddy shut her front door as she dropped her bag and purse. She frowned as she moved to the living room. The quiet was unnatural. House and Rachel were never this quiet when they were together. She stopped short at the sight in front of her.
The two most important people in her life were asleep on the sofa. House was stretched out with his head propped on the throw pillows. Rachel was sprawled on House's chest with her head on his right shoulder. Cuddy could see that her little girl was clutching her teddy bear with one hand and a fistful of House's t-shirt with the other. Cuddy walked over and sat on the coffee table facing the sleeping pair. She wasn't surprised when those brilliant blue eyes opened and met her stare.
Cuddy smiled. "Hi."
"Hey." House reached out and pulled her to him for a kiss.
When she finally pulled back, Cuddy asked, "How is she?"
"She's fine. I'm exhausted. Thanks for asking." House smirked at her frown.
"I'm sorry. I know how tough today must have been for you. Thank you for taking care of her for me." Cuddy stroked his shoulder.
House idly rubbed Rachel's back. "Truth? At the time, I wasn't even thinking about you. All I could think about was that Rachel needed me. I was running through the lobby thinking I had to get to my little girl."
Cuddy couldn't have stopped the tears from falling even if she had tried. "House…"
"I know," he cut her off. "I'm just as shocked as you are. Fifty years as a miserable, misanthropic bastard. All it took to bring me to my knees was one scared two year-old."
Cuddy laughed through a sob. "We should have tried that years ago."
House gave her one of those small, lop-sided smiles she loved so much. "Wouldn't have worked. I would have been too strung out to care."
Cuddy kissed him again. "How's Marina?"
House scowled. "Forman called. He said they have her glucose level down to under 350. She's still in the coma. Her daughter got to the hospital. She said Marina hasn't been eating right or taking care of herself for a while now."
"That makes me so angry." Cuddy tightened her grip on House's shoulder. "She could die and Rachel could have been hurt all because Marina decided to ignore her doctor's orders."
"People are idiots," House snarked.
"Well, she's going to get an earful from me as soon as she's able to listen. So, what I still don't understand is how Rachel was able to call you." Cuddy had tried to figure that out on her drive home.
"Seems she's seen which speed dial button you push to call me." House smiled that wicked, sexy grin that never failed to drive her crazy. "Am I really the number one button on your phone?"
"Conceited ass," Cuddy smacked his shoulder lightly.
House smirked. "I knew you only wanted me for my well-formed ass."
She rolled her eyes. "Well, it certainly wasn't for your sparkling wit or your charming personality."
House's laugh woke Rachel who rubbed her face on his shirt. She looked up at him and frowned. "Need to potty," the still sleepy toddler announced.
"Well, by all means, go potty," House told her.
Cuddy pushed the hair out of Rachel's face. "Hi, Baby."
Rachel squealed, "Mommy!" She planted an elbow in House's ribs as she crawled off of his chest to her mother.
Cuddy gathered her daughter in a tight hug. "Are you okay, Baby?" she asked.
Rachel frowned again. "No. Need to potty."
Cuddy ignored House's snort of amusement. "Come on then. Mommy will help you go potty."
When they left the room, House swung his legs off of the sofa and sat up. He rubbed his thigh and tried unsuccessfully to stop the muscle spasm. He knew all of the running and carrying Rachel would leave him in severe pain for several days. A long soak in a tub of hot water sounded like heaven.
Rachel ran back into the living room and crawled onto the sofa on his left side. She watched his hands for a few seconds. She frowned and looked up at House. The toddler had an eerily perceptive look in her huge blue eyes.
"It hurt?" Rachel asked as her mother stopped a few feet away.
"Yes, it hurts. But, it'll be okay tomorrow," House answered Rachel honestly. He decided to divert her attention. "How would you like pizza for dinner?"
Rachel clapped her hands and bounced up and down on the sofa. "Yeah, pizza!"
House propped his leg on the coffee table. He smiled at Cuddy. "Well, what are you waiting for? Go call in an order. We're hungry."
"House…" Cuddy finally just rolled her eyes and gave up on her objections. If anyone deserved a special treat of pizza for dinner, it was these two. "Fine. Pizza it is."
Cuddy called in the order and returned to the living room. House and Rachel were watching a cartoon on television. She picked Rachel up then sat down next to House with Rachel in her lap. She put her head on House's shoulder and realized just how exhausted the stress of the afternoon had left her. She could only imagine how wiped out he was.
House continued to rub his leg. The pain was intense but tolerable. Still, there was only one reason he would willingly move. He put his foot on the floor and scooted forward.
"Where are you going?" Cuddy questioned.
"Bathroom," was his distracted response. He looked on the floor between the sofa and the coffee table. Not seeing what he was looking for, he scanned the room.
"What are you looking for?" Cuddy watched him.
"My cane. I don't know where I left it." He was a little concerned. He rarely ever let it out of his sight.
"I know. I get it, Daddy." Rachel hopped off of her mother's lap and ran to the kitchen.
House slowly looked to his left. He met Cuddy's shocked gaze with one of his own. She was staring at him with her mouth open and her eyes wide. House felt as if he had been shot through the heart. Neither one knew what to say.
Rachel ran back into the living room dragging the wooden cane behind her. She stopped in front of House. "Here, Daddy."
"Thank you, Sweetie." House took the cane and then looked at Cuddy. "The police officer told her that her daddy must be proud of her. I said I was. I was afraid he wouldn't leave her with me if he knew the truth. I'm sorry, Cuddy. I wasn't thinking too straight right about then. I didn't mean for this to happen."
Cuddy pulled Rachel back onto her lap. She studied House for a few seconds. She could tell he was uncomfortable with this new development.
"Do you mind?" she asked him.
House looked first at Rachel and then back to Cuddy. He managed a small smile. "I'm scared sh…to death. But, no, I don't mind. Do you?"
Cuddy placed a kiss on top of Rachel's head. Despite the tears that threatened to fall, she managed to return House's smile. "No, I don't mind. You're the only one I trust to fill that role in her life."
House shook his head. "Poor kid. We already know I'm nuts. Now, her mom's sanity is in question."
Cuddy laughed and playfully pushed at his shoulder. "I have faith in you, Gregory House. You'll be a great dad."
House snorted. "Remind me of that when she's sixteen and screaming at me because I said she can't date some looser."
Cuddy laughed as House stood from the sofa and slowly limped towards the hall. His leg was screaming in pain and for the first time, he had confidence that he could deal with it. The two most important people in the world were counting on him to be strong and stay sane. It looked like falling apart would have to wait.