Butterflies of Beyond
Author's Note: This is my first House fic, so please tell me if it's good or not. It's also my first fluffy romance fic. Might be OOC, hopefully not. I hope you like it. Oneshot.
The hallucination faded out.
He was in a world entirely his own. It was a desolate world, and he was all alone save for his thoughts and the constant beeping that somehow penetrated whatever barriers had blocked out all other sensory information. Ordinarily the sound would have irritated him, but in these circumstances it was a welcome disruption as it reverberated through his consciousness. It seemed to be real, though he no longer felt sure of the actuality of anything. At least it was something to keep him company.
He found himself thinking of her. This surprised him, but he didn't object to the thoughts that floated through his brain. He had all the time in the world to think about whatever he pleased. So he let his mind, normally meticulously organized and excruciatingly rational, wander as it pleased.
Butterfly. That's how he first used to think of her. It would have sounded like a term of endearment had anyone else said it, but to him it was only an effective metaphor. He didn't understand why people would use the word butterfly as a compliment anyway. It was an insect, and no one would ever use the word "horsefly" to charm a significant other.
So he thought of her as having both the positive and negative aspects of her creature counterpart. She was pretty to look at, but seemed to think life was so uncomplicated. So naïve, thinking living consisted of flowers and flying from place to place.
As he got to know her better, he had started to think of her as a broken butterfly. One that someone had tried to grab hold of, and had ended up tearing the wings to useless shreds. She had become so codependent, needing someone to fix so she didn't have to face her own problems. She couldn't fly anymore, but she just never bothered trying, so she didn't have to face that she had long since lost that ability.
But lately, his seemingly perfect metaphor had started to lose all accuracy. He could have further modified it, to the point of it becoming a convoluted muddle, but he didn't bother. He wasn't sure what to think of her as now. She was capable of cynicism, contrary to popular belief. A few times she had grown irritated with him and as a result he had become the target of her seldom revealed, but potent, sarcasm. He couldn't help admire her for that. Maybe there was no metaphor that worked to summarize her. She had so many levels, all of them baffling. Perhaps she was just her.
His thoughts resonated through his mind with surprising clarity. Along with them came a juxtaposition of images. A restaurant, a house, a white doctors coat. At first this imagery seemed entirely random, until he realized it was all things that related to her. The restaurant where he had gone with her, the house where he had gone to try and convince her to come back, and the white coat that she wore and he refused to. The thoughts, images, and nonstop beeping made him think of a weird amateur made music video.
The imagery became more and more bizarre, things he couldn't understand why he remembered them in such detail. The glass she held at the restaurant, the slightest trace of pinkish lip-gloss where she had drank from it. Her messy hair and the redness of her eyes when he had seen her in the elevator, the time she thought she could have HIV. The crisp envelope that held the results of her test, which she didn't want to look at.
That was the main difference between the two of them. He had to know things. He needed to know what was true and what wasn't, who was to blame for things, what was the reason for things.
She stood next to the hospital bed he rested on. He looked so ridiculously peaceful. She had never seen him as relaxed as this, utterly out of it. He had always been intense, taking in every detail. His passionate concentration always gave her the impression that he was thinking on some higher level than the rest of them.
It bothered her seeing him like this. She knew that maybe he was happy like this, living in a dream world. Maybe there were puzzles there for him to solve, things that would keep him occupied forever.
Forever. It was such a long time, she thought, fully aware of how foolish the brain wave was a split second after it flew through her mind. But there was truth in that notion. She didn't know what she would do in an eternity without him.
The chances were about 50-50 for him, she was told. Either he would wake up or he wouldn't. If he woke up, she didn't doubt that he would be just like before. Abrasive, sarcastic, inhumanly honest. Not even a near-death experience would change that. At first she had viewed these traits as shortcomings, but now she had gotten used to them and found that she had grown fond of them. They made him who he was, and she knew he cared about people, in his own twisted way, even being the misanthrope he was. He said what he felt, and if he showed any respect for anyone, she knew it was genuine.
He was in an otherworldly landscape. There were purple clouds and cumulous cloud-shaped trees. There were also weeping willows, leaves hanging down from them like green tendrils. He saw jagged cliffs sticking out of the red earth, and beyond them was a shining, reflective, body of water. He could see the silhouettes of blue mountains mirrored in it.
It was nice here, but a strange feeling kept nagging at him, preventing him from relaxing.
He didn't feel any different than normal. That realization was what surprised him most.
She felt her eyes fill with liquid, and her vision clouded over. He wouldn't like to see me like this, she thought. He wouldn't want me to be this weak.
But it was so hard to keep it together with him like this. She recalled something he had once told her. "If you keep getting so attached to your patients, you're going to burn out. Don't try to see things from their point of view."
But she couldn't do that now. She couldn't be apathetic towards him. She wasn't sure what exactly she felt for him, but she knew she wouldn't be able to cope with losing him now, before she had found out. He had said she was codependent, that she had been trying to always repair things she couldn't. Maybe this was just that. But she didn't want to think so.
He had pressured her, hurt her deeply, pushed her into telling him what he wanted to know about her past. He had been so cold to her, but she found herself unable to treat him with the same indifference. He mattered to her, as hard as he tried to make her hate him.
He didn't want to be here alone. The thought hit him hard, like a punch to the stomach. He mounted his motorcycle, realizing that his leg didn't hurt anymore. He was completely healed and fully mobile.
He could stay here, where he had everything he wanted. Except her. He had to talk to her, find out something. He wasn't positive what that something was, but he was certain that it was important. He wanted to see her, and not just an illusion of her painted by his imagination. He wanted to see the real deal, and nothing could keep Gregory House from getting what he wanted, not even his own brain.
He took one last look around before revving the engine of his motorcycle and driving off towards the sun, red dust billowing out behind him as his tires passed over it. He could hear a voice, distant as though it was in another room.
His eyelids began to flutter. The first thing to go through her head was, I can't let him see me like this!
She nearly ran out of the room, refusing to allow him to see the tears that clung to her eyelashes and fell down her face in two little rivulets.
She had spent so much time talking to him in an attempt to get through. Now she found herself silently wishing that he hadn't heard everything she had to say.
"Where is she?" was the first thing he asked, the moment his eyes flew open and meticulously examined the room.
"House! You're awake, thank G-d," said Foreman, his voice filled with relief. He had been instructed to provide House with a refill on his IV medication. It had been quite a strain on Foreman to see someone he knew like this, even if it was someone who managed to get on his nerves like no other.
"Glad you're happy to see me. Now where is she?"
Typical House. "Who?" inquired Foreman, feigning innocence.
House saw right through his act. "Nice try. And you say you're not friends." House gave a slight chuckle and got out of bed. His leg hurt slightly as he put pressure on it, but the familiar sensation only made him feel more awake. This was real.
He ignored Foreman's protests as he sauntered out of the room. Foreman made no attempt to stop him.
One week later, House found himself standing outside the door to Cameron's house. He pressed his index finger to the doorbell, causing a pleasant bing-bong sound.
Cameron opened the door, Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw him, and her face broke into a bemused smile. "Hi," she said, looking him over as though thinking he might be some sort of daydream.
"I thought I should thank you for talking me out of my coma," he said casually.
"Oh, you heard that?" She tried to sound nonchalant, but was quite taken aback that House remembered. He had acted as though nothing had happened. House had argued his way into going immediately back to his job routine, including verbally abusing his patients ("And the diagnosis is… hypochondria! Better luck next time, thank you for playing. But please accept our consolation prize." With that, House had handed the patient, a podgy middle-aged man, a lollypop.)
"You thought Foreman would be able to convince me it didn't happen? You might want to get someone else to cover for you next time. He's really bad at it," he said the last part in a mock-whisper, as though divulging top-secret information.
She laughed, and then noticed House's gaze was focused on a point just over her shoulder. She turned to see what he was looking at. It was a photo she had taken. She had been proud of how well it turned out, and had it framed.
"That's the park nearby that I like to visit sometimes," she said.
House nodded, only dimly aware of his surroundings. That was the exact place he had dreamed of, from the clouds stained lilac by the sunset down to the reddish earth. It must have stuck in his subconscious from the last time he had come to talk to her here. "Do you want to go there?" he asked.
"Sure, why not," said Cameron. She grabbed her coat and followed House to his motorcycle.
"Can I ask you something?" he said seriously.
"Sure," she said, concerned.
"Did you mean it when you said my eyes were like a portal into a brilliant sea of saphire flames?"