Floating-by Barbara Barnett

House undergoes Ketamine Treatment as requested. This story follows "The Bargain." Strong House/Cuddy friendship.

A/N—Many people asked for additional chapters after I wrote "The Bargain," which as a stand-alone piece. This longer, multi-chapter piece is a sequel, I guess, to that story.

Chapter 1—Ketamine Dreams

At first he was floating, or so he thought. Dead? No, not dead. He didn't believe in an afterlife, so sensations, even floating, didn't make sense. And therefore "death" was not his reality.

So, he opened his eyes and found himself not floating, but tethered to a hospital bed by wires, tubing. An oxygen cannula irritated his nose. His first instinct was to adjust it away from his nostrils, but he found his wrists attached to the bed by hospital-issue restraints. What the Hell was this. Why was he there. Where was there, anyway?

Mild panic consumed him, sending the heart monitor into overdrive, which caught the eye of Lisa Cuddy. "House?" Delighted that he was waking, but concerned about his increasing heart rate and the panic in his eyes, she approached his beside and let the side rail down.

"Why am I…" His voice was raspy from disuse. "What am I doing…?" Cuddy saw his confusion.

"House!" She drew his eyes towards her own, holding his gaze. "Do you know why you are in the hospital."

"No. I…"

"Do you remember discussing the Ketamine treatment? Do you remember…"

"I…Ketamine. Resetting my neruoreceptors…break the pain cycle…German studies. But…"

"Temporary memory disruptions are common. You've been in a Ketamine-induced coma for five days. You brought the German studies to me, remember? You went over the research with me two weeks ago. Just relax. It's OK. You're about two minutes from full-blown tachycardia." He had been gripping her hand. The tension had not subsided.

She noticed the restraints, realizing that House would be confused about them, frightened. "You were beginning to move too wildly as we began to take you out of the Ketamine. I was afraid you'd pull something out, screw the whole thing up. If you'll let go my hand I'll untie them."

House hadn't realized he'd been holding Cuddy's hand. He pulled it away as if it burned, embarrassed. He hadn't the energy to think of a deflecting quip. She untied him and poured a glass of water. "Drink. It will make your mouth throat feel better." She was dying to ask him about the pain; whether the risky procedure worked. Clearly, he was not ready for conversation.

His eyes closed as Cuddy undid the restraints. His head felt as if it was filled with cotton batting. "Give yourself some time, House," he thought he heard her whisper as he drifted into sleep.

He was cross-country skiing. Gliding across a white plain. Silence surrounded him except for the swish-swish sound of skis fording a path through new powder. "Hey! Wait up!" An echo from far behind him, shattering the silence as her voice bounded through trees and careened off the sapphire sky. He stopped, turning, smiling. He waited as she skied towards him.

"Hurry. We got reservations, remember?" He tapped his wrist in a grand gesture, smiling. He loved watching her ski. She seemed to float over the trail he had created. Graceful, rhythmic motions.

As she neared, House noticed something awry. Something very un-Stacy-like. A bang shattering the silence. The white snow had become a sudden sea of red.

"Who would want you dead?" Bang.