Simply the prologue in a multi-chapter piece. May be a bit short, but I promise to expand in subsequent chapters.

DISCLAIMER: I own them all. Oh, wait. That was my delusion talking . . .

Cuddy walked briskly down the hall, manila folder clutched tightly in her right hand, dark curls bobbing in time with her steps. "House!" she demanded, catching up to her failed escapee. The man was surprisingly fast hobbling on that cane of his. She had been pursuing him for the last minute.

Letting out a frustrated sigh, the doctor-in-question turned his head just enough to see his pursuer. "Sorry, House is not home right now. Please leave your name and number after the beep, and he'll get back to you as soon as he possibly can." With that, he hobbled a couple more strides down the hallway.

"Can it," Cuddy snapped, easily overtaking the stubborn doctor this time. "We have a new patient."

House's shoulders slumped. "Beeeep," he intoned, looking pointedly at Cuddy.

Cuddy just as pointedly ignored him, instead shoving the manila folder closer to his tall, sinewy frame. "Eighteen-month old boy presents with severe seizures, high grade fever and swollen lymph nodes."

House rolled his eyes and inhaled a sigh. Where were the trained monkeys when you needed them? " . . .Wait, I'm getting a thought. Starts with an "F." Flu? Fungus? No, wait! Febrile seizures!" He finished triumphantly, shooting the hospital dean a smirk. "Give him some Tylenol and anticonvulsion meds, then send him on his way. He'll be back to watching Sesame Street in no time." Again, he attempted to take a few strides down the hallway, but again he was stopped by his boss's meddling voice.

"Okay, Sherlock," Cuddy shot at him. "Two new symptoms emerged after he arrived. Not only did his fever fail to subside after he was placed in a tub full of ice and given the wonder drug that you suggest, this morning he developed pustules all over the upper left side of his body."

"Oh, you," House shot back, waggling his finger at his superior. "Trying to trick me through the introduction of new symptoms." Taking a couple more steps down the hallway, Cuddy hot on his pursuit, he continued, "Which coincidentally can be explained with one powerful diagnosis. Increasingly persistent fever with even more annoying fever blisters. What was that "F" word again?"

"Ass?" Cuddy drawled, shooting the doctor a glare of annoyance.

"No, that starts with an "A," House returned, continuing his limping gait down the hall.

"House . . ." Cuddy sighed. She was becoming increasingly more frustrated by the second. "If it was simply a febrile seizure, his fever would have subsided at least a few degrees after the treatment we've given him. And these aren't fever blisters," she continued. "They're . . . different."

"Ah, now I know why you get the big bucks," House replied. "Your amazing deductive powers as a diagnostician."

"No, I believe that would be your department," Cuddy shot back. "Come on, House. "It's a good case." She handed him the folder. "And one that I need you to take."

"You know, I'd love to take it, but gosh darn, I have such a full case load already that I just don't think I can find the time." With this, he attempted to hand the folder back to his intrusive boss.

"What case load?" Cuddy scoffed. "You haven't had a case for two days!"

"Yes, and the extra time is doing me ever so much good," House retorted, his characteristic smirk playing across his lips. "Please don't stop me now."

Cuddy sighed in frustration. This was getting her nowhere. It was time to bring out the big guns. "You're taking the case, House," she commanded, her tone smooth as silk. "The patient's mother has specifically asked for you."

"And I always do exactly what the patient asks," House quipped, nodding his head in a play of witticism. "No wonder you decided to come to me."

Cuddy's next move caused House to raise his brows. Rather than back down, as he'd hoped; or become increasingly frustrated, as he'd expected, her face broke into a smile. Either the brain damage had finally caught up to her, or she had a trick up her sleeve. "Aren't you going to ask me who the patient's mother is?"

Ah, so it was to be the latter. House paused, not wanting to get caught in this trap. "I assume it isn't Godzilla?" Cuddy shook her head, her smile still firmly in place. And now her brows were beginning to arch. Ohh, whatever this was, it was going to be good. "Okay, I'll bite," he said. "Who is the patient's mother?"

Suddenly, the smile on Cuddy's face grew so wide that she began to bear an uncanny resemblance to the cat who ate the canary. "Cameron," she replied simply, crossing her arms over her chest.

If Cuddy had expected this latest piece of news to rattle her employee into action, she would have been sorely disappointed. Rather than turning on his heel and heading for his conference room, House stood rooted to the spot, an unreadable expression crossing his heavily whiskered face. Finally, after what seemed several moments, he spoke. "Doesn't she live in Massachusetts or something?"

"Connecticut," Cuddy replied. "She was out here for a visit when her son became ill."

House considered this latest piece of information. "Comes back after two years, and ends up here. Aren't the fates miraculous?"

Cuddy shrugged. "I'm sure it's not exactly what she was hoping for," she acknowledged. "So? Will you take the case?"

House paused, then gave a quick, short nod. "I'll take it," he confirmed. With that, he turned on his heel and headed for his conference room, slapping the manila folder against his leg as he went.