I believe that the “hidden” gem prospect is like catnip to Cuddy. She knows him, she knows he’s in pain…and she knows that he will go to the limit (and beyond) for any patient. And for her. (At least I think that’s what she believes.)
Cuddy is very protective of the man she calls the best doctor at her hospital, but is it because of his medical skill that she’s so protective? Or are there deeper feelings at play? As she protects him against Vogler in season one, she also protects him from Detective Tritter in season three, committing perjury to keep him from being jailed on drug fraud charges. She does this at great risk. In “Merry Little Christmas,” she tells House that she is willing to let a patient die to prevent the hundreds of other “who will die while you’re in jail.”
House is also protective of Cuddy. In the second season episode “Forever,” the ever-curious House observes his boss in a way that some might find fairly creepy: he seems to know Cuddy’s fertility cycle better than my husband knows mine. But it’s not that knowledge that suggests House’s protectiveness towards her. When House observes that Cuddy is using “red clover,” an herbal supplement that can (among other things) be used in cancer treatment, his alarm bells go off. Could she have cancer? Especially since she’s asked Wilson to dinner. His extreme interest in Cuddy’s health even prompts Wilson to call him on it. And House (of course) deflects with a snarky comment rather than admit his concern.
In the same episode he asks Wilson why he’s not interested in dating Cuddy. “She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s got a zesty bod…” House rattles off a list of virtues that doesn’t both begin and end with “boobs.” He clearly appreciates more than her body. And he proves it at the end of the episode, in a scene that’s always stayed with me as the moment when both Cuddy and we (the viewers) understand that there’s more to House’s interest in Cuddy than sexual leering. After House realizes that she is actually using the red clover to boost her chances with in vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant, Cuddy fully expects House to gossip the news to Wilson, mock her, and have a field day at her expense.
A scene later, as Wilson and House emerge from an elevator, Cuddy’s closed body language seems to be steeling her from the mockery certain to come. Instead, House looks at her shyly, only saying “hi” and nothing more. He has kept her confidence even to best friend Wilson, lying to him to keep Cuddy’s secret. I think this has stayed with me because it shows (rather than tells) House’s feelings of protectiveness towards Cuddy.