Cuddy had to remind herself sometimes that House wasn't just a legend at Princeton-Plainsborough. His over-the-top methods and talent for solving the most difficult cases made him larger than life to many in the medical community. In the wake of his infarction, many had been under the impression that she had given him the Diagnostics department as an alternative to his suing the hospital out of existence. In truth, House had never considered suing. His life had been destroyed; no amount of money would restore what had been taken from him. But he did consider Cuddy's offer to establish a new department that specialized in diagnosing and treating rare diseases. She couldn't undo what had been done to him. But she could offer him a way to help others avoid the incompetence he had experienced.
Of course, he was still a bastard. He always believed he was right, always pursued the answer at all costs. He wasa highly trained bloodhound, really. He was perfectly passive until he caught the scent of a case and was off at full speed. He wouldn't stop until he'd solved the case; heedless of his own wellbeing or whatever mayhem he caused. His reputation had, for better or worse, come to be entwined with her own. They were always eager to meet her, to talk about House and his practice. It was disconcerting, she decided, to receive attention from her colleagues on House's behalf. He did everything in his power to avoid receiving it; she supposed the attention had to go somewhere.
She'd roped him into attending the World Health Orangization symposium on the premise that she owned his ass for the Tritter incident. Although to be fair, he'd already planned to attend the conference to present the findings of the pandemic taskforce he'd joined the year before. He'd been almost docile on the flight over, sleeping most of the way with his leg stretched out in front of him in their first class seats. Cuddy had shaken him awake after they'd landed and he'd limped obediently from the plane; blinking at the bright light streaming through the ramp's plexiglass windows. He'd been silent on the way to the hotel, and had left her standing in the middle of their joined suite as he'd slid into his bedroom and closed the door behind him.
He'd still been sleeping when she'd checked on him before heading down for breakfast that morning. It was just as well, she supposed. Easier to mingle and enjoy herself without having to keep an eye on House. She'd selected a table near the windows, and sat, sipping a cup of coffee one of the servers had brought for her. She'd been amused to hear House's name brought up several times in conversation, almost always in reverential awe.
"Good morning. Dr. Cuddy, I presume?" she turned to find a kindly older man standing just behind her; his hand lingering on the back of her upholstered chair. He had a lovely accent, but she couldn't place it.
"Good morning. Yes, I am."
"I'm Richard Scott."
"Please, call me Lisa." She held out a hand, and he surprised her by kissing it instead of shaking it. Smooth. Definitely smooth.
"Care to join me?" she asked. He sat down, smiling. A waiter approached, and quickly brought him a cup of tea at his request. Taking Cuddy's breakfast order, he left them to sit in comfortable silence.
"I'm one of the symposium organizers." he said after a moment. "We're very excited that you were able to attend."
"I'm flattered." Cuddy said dryly. Scott's eyes twinkled in amusement. "But we both know one more administrator attending a conference isn't worth mentioning."
"Very well." he conceded. "We're grateful you could attend the conference, and bring Dr. House with you. If I recall, he's not a morning person."
Cuddy gave an unladylike snort. "He's definitely not a morning person. He's not much better in the afternoons or evenings. But traveling is usually difficult for him, and I assume he was still sleeping this morning when I left." she said carefully.
"We are all grateful that he would make the effort. It's been too long since he spoke publicly." Scott said, smiling as he got to his feet. "I hope you will convey our gratitude and well-wishes when you see him."
"I will." Cuddy promised, meeting his gaze evenly. "I'm certain he'll be down sometime this morning." she smiled congenially. He would be down: she'd drag him down by noon. She so owned his ass.
"I know he was looking forward to hearing Walters and Mathis." Cuddy lied smoothly. House had ranted about most of the other speakers as idiots, but he'd had nothing derisive to say about those two in particular, which meant he found their work intriguing and worth hearing about.
"Wonderful." Scott shook her hand this time, and left her to eat breakfast alone. She watched with interest as more attendees arrived for breakfast. Their voices filled the room with a low hum, and more than once she heard House's name come up as people consulted their programs and planned their day. She finished her breakfast and slid away from the table. She was invisible as she moved through the dining room.
An endocrinologist by trade, she was adrift in a sea of infectious disease experts. Some of the world's top specialists were on hand just to see House. Her mind spun for a moment; sheltered at home in the hospital which was a universe unto itself, House was an eccentricity. Most of the hospital's employees had learned how to stay out of House's way. They'd come to accept his erratic behavior, knew the warning signs and did everything they could to avoid him when he was on a case. It was a given that he would eventually take on the hard cases and come up with the correct diagnosis. But out here, House's personal eccentricities were not what these specialists focused on. They didn't know that he broke into patients' homes, browbeat the lab techs, exploited patients and stayed up for two, three, four days at a time until he pulled a rabbit out of his hat. All they saw were the results: the unsolvable cases, the lives saved that would have otherwise been lost. Making her way back upstairs, she inserted the keycard and slid into their suite. The TV was still off and House's door was still closed. She sighed, and found scarcely an hour had passed. She itched to barge into House's room, drag him out of bed and down to the lobby where she could show him off. Having House on staff was at best, a nightmare. His reputation was the only reason she kept him on. It was how she justified each battle against villains like Vogler and Tritter to keep him upstairs in his office. If she couldn't show him off once in a while; the remaining donors would have washed their hands of Princeton-Plainsborough long ago. But he'd looked exhausted when he'd gone to bed the night before. Giving him a little while longer probably couldn't hurt.