Previously posted to my Livejournal.
House scowled up at the lectern as the Scottish doctor stated his ridiculous notions for the prevention of Parkinson's disease. So many studies went on around the world and here he was being forced to sit and listen to some quack go on about 'new, improved theories' on the already built ideas for cell replacement, and this new 'miracle' Bromeliad-type plant (which wasn't really a Bromeliad) that could somehow – and he was rather vague for a man who was supposed to be convincing – help to prevent the Bradykenisia most associated with Parkinson's. Somehow – and this was either the Scottish brogue or the fact that he was being vague…again – it was supposed to increase the Dopamine levels in the brain…or something.
It was starting to irritate him. He could tell by Cuddy's rigid posture that he was even projecting his annoyance and discomfort onto her. Sometimes it made him feel guilty, the way he'd cross endless amounts of barriers that clearly stated he was treading on the wrong side of the fence and she always had to clean up the mess. But not tonight. This guy either didn't know what he was talking about, or was clearly avoiding the facts that the entire conference room of doctors didn't appear to care about. Of course, they weren't Gregory House.
"Has it been tested?" he shouted to the man at the lectern, who fell silent suddenly as he heard him; squinting his eyes to search the darkened room for the voice. House felt Cuddy tense beside him as he stood, before he saw her head turn in his peripheral vision, clearly stating that, if he took this too far, there would be serious consequences.
"Ah, no, it is yet to be tested but we're hoping to -"
"So, you really can't be sure this flower can do what you say it does?"
"House," Cuddy hissed through her teeth.
House glanced down at her, barely able to see her in the dim light, bar her angered blue gaze staring up at him.
"No, honestly, we can't. But we have many of the best minds working at this. It's an amazing find and we're hoping that it can prove as useful as our initial readings indicated."
He looked back up at the man, who was clearly unflustered by the gruff annoyance in his tone.
"House, sit down," Cuddy whispered, tugging on his sleeve as he lowered himself back into his seat and re-commenced tapping his cane on the floor as the man carried on with his presentation.
He couldn't help reading into this conference that the history of the find was being withheld. Sure, they had the best minds – his own, not withstanding – working on it, but they were yet to explain why, how or when they had encountered the plant, or where it had been procured from. Details like that were not lost on a diagnostician as anal as House, nor were they overlooked by Cuddy, though she sat silently and listened, more patience radiating from her than he'd felt in his entire career.
House's ears pricked up when the monotonous Scottish tongue picked up an octave and he registered excitement. His explanations began to run away with him and House was able to notice just a hint of something hidden underneath the carefully organised presentation. He smelt military in this. There was something pronouncedly conspiratorial about the whole thing and he couldn't help but suggest to himself – however fleetingly – that he may have just about lost it. Then a woman appeared on stage and took the microphone with a calmly placating smile.
She wasn't a doctor; he could practically see the bureaucratic ooze seeping from beneath her delicately tailored suit as she called the presentation to a close. Yep, there was definitely something underlying here.
Under the guise of finding her incredibly attractive – though not a complete lie – House was able to rid himself of his silently brewing boss, who was ready to rip his head off if he so much as accidentally stepped his cane atop her foot, and head towards the woman who was smiling, thanking and shaking hands with the doctors as they left the conference room.
"Doctor House, I presume?" She smiled gently, reaching one immaculately manicured hand out to him. He didn't take it, just stared down at it until she pulled it away, sucking in her lip silently as awkwardness fell over the moment like a thick fog.
"What's going on here?" House blurted.
She glanced at her colleague - the short Scottish man who'd watched him approach like a hawk - then turned back to House. "I'm unsure as to what you mean."
Oh, she was good. He'd give her the calmly ignorant play for now. But from the look in her eyes and the slightly raised left eyebrow, lips tilted heavenward on the other side, he knew she was anything but ignorant. A little naïve maybe, that she'd think he'd let it go as easy as he'd assumed she was all brains and no ass. Assessing her silently, he realised he'd stumbled onto perhaps another Stacy…if not, at least a Cuddy that would suffice for now.
"You know exactly what I mean, don't get all-"
"Doctor House." She raised her hand to silence him. "I assure you, we've told you everything that we are permitted to tell you."
He scoffed. "And what? We're supposed to just take that? Take your word that this stuff works?" He watched her take a deep breath and glance behind him as she clasped her hands in front of her, fighting the urge to cross her arms over her chest in defiance.
"I understand how you feel, Doctor, but yes, that is precisely what I'm asking you to do."
"Not one ounce of Medical training."
"Pardon me?" She seemed offended. He had to be fair and admit she had a right to be, but it didn't stop him.
"You," he pointed at her almost accusingly, "You can't possibly be a Medical doctor, Doctor Weir." She seemed to falter when she realised he knew her name but she didn't disrupt his tirade. "Because a medical Doctor would realise, as I'm sure your little Leprechaun here understands..." He glanced at Carson. "Well, I'd hope he does or I wouldn't let him near my insides." He turned back to her. "That in order to test these new drugs on willing, informed patients, we'd need to know the origin of the substance."
"I'm Scottish, not Irish."
House turned his head slowly to the meet the blue-eyed Scot face-to-face. "Yes." He rolled his eyes. "And that was definitely the most important aspect of what I just said."
Doctor Weir placed her hand gently on her colleague's forearm, silencing whatever response he had intended when his mouth opened.
"Doctor House, please understand that this project is extremely sensitive. Any information procured whilst it is under operation is valuable and while I admit to agreeing with you, I'm obligated to make sure you receive only the facts at hand. I may not be a medical doctor, as you so eloquently put, but I understand the difference between the information you need and the information that you don't." House was practically fuming, but intrigue won out as she fought with her words, his way, and he forced himself to hear her out. "Now, I am willing and most pleased to release to you any information regarding the plant's surrounding environment. We've got botanists studying its natural habitat as we speak and, while I can't tell you precisely where it came from, I can tell you the facts," and she emphasised the word, "…that you require. So please, don't attempt to manipulate me into thinking you require anything more."
"Diplomat?" he questioned, his tone softening as he tilted his head back in realisation. She was neither a Stacy nor a Cuddy, but an entirely new species of her own.
She smirked, triumphantly, he would have thought, had he not deduced she was anything but gloating. "Doctor Elizabeth Weir." She held her hand out for him to shake again and he reluctantly took it. "United Nations, International Negotiator, trained Diplomat and Commander of the Classified Pegasus Project."
"Nice." He almost grinned, though he still scrutinised her.
"I'm also a woman." She kept the smirk fixed in place and there was that goddamn eyebrow again. "You should try out a feminine side some time; it might help you win an argument."
"If I had a feminine side, I'd touch it." House drawled, realising he was still clinging to her hand for a moment before he dropped it and she drew a deep, tension releasing breath.
"Doctor Weir, Doctor Beckett, thank you for the conference. I hope Doctor House hasn't been too abrasive." Cuddy glared up at him and House only just noticed that she'd been standing there for a few moments.
"It's lovely to meet you, Doctor Cuddy." Elizabeth held her hand out for the other woman to shake and she smiled. "But Doctor House is right. My apologies for not being as candid as we would have liked."
"I understand. We're well aware of the significant impact of the Pegasus Project and grateful for the results received. Please ignore Doctor House; he gets off on antagonising those who don't deserve it."
"Aw, Cuddy, you jealous little Minx." House rolled his eyes as her head whipped around and she glared at him. Ignoring her expression, he looked up to Elizabeth, who stood a good few inches taller than the Napoleonic Dean of Medicine. "…She gets terribly hot under the collar when she sees me fraternizing with other women."
Cuddy glared at him again and Elizabeth smiled. "House," she warned.
"Oh no, I'm in for a spanking. Better run." House made a show of hobbling away, emphasising the pain in his leg as he dragged it behind him, glancing behind him for effect. Elizabeth's lips twitched and she tried to hold back laughter as Cuddy shook her hand again.
"I'm sorry, he's-"
"It's alright." Elizabeth smiled. "…He's not so bad."
"Right…" Cuddy really couldn't find anything else she could say. Instead, she shook Doctor Beckett's hand with a smile before chasing off after House. Elizabeth watched as the shorter woman slapped his arm and his posture straightened a little as he resumed his regular, easier walk. She glanced at Carson before he turned to walk away, then looked back at the pair arguing as they made their way out the door.
A part of her hoped that they'd cross paths again.