Marcus answered the phone even after he saw the name on the caller ID, because his brain hadn't caught on to the fact that he was on the injured list. His first thought was that he was a detective and he was needed. Then Holmes started talking, and the awareness of his aches hit him like a Mack truck, along with the memory of why he was home on a Friday morning.
"You've got fifteen seconds," Marcus said, cutting a hole in the rambling.
"Um," Holmes said. "Detective. The thought occurred that with your brother out of state and your ex paramour unfortunately incarcerated, you might be running low on- on..."
Marcus rolled his eyes in anticipation.
Marcus hung up the phone and went back to separating his whites from his colors.
He answered the door a short while later, thinking it was someone he wanted to see. Cheryl Gregson had said she'd stop by with her famous ziti. Marcus cringed as he undid the locks, realizing he hadn't told her to leave the dog at home. But there was no man-hating mutt standing in his hallway, or his captain's sort of ex-wife. Just Holmes, bouncing on the balls of his feet and nodding gravely.
"Your downstairs neighbor is quite cavalier with the buzzer. Stern words may be in order." He gestured at Marcus. "You look more terrible than I anticipated."
Marcus closed the door in his face and swung a right into the kitchen. The dishes weren't going to do themselves.
The doorbell rang again as he sat on the couch, trying to motivate to take out the vacuum.
"It's Joan," he heard through the door. She sort of smiled as he opened it. "Hi."
"Listen, you tell that man-"
She held out her phone. Marcus frowned as he read two old texts.
Don't leave the hospital before I get there, okay? I'd like to help you get settled in at home.
Looks like I missed you. Call me if you don't want to get invaded later. Otherwise I'm coming bearing Thai fried rice.
"Sherlock didn't send me," she said, to hammer the point home. "I was going to stop by tonight anyway. He merely convinced me to up my timetable." She narrowed her eyes in a way that reminded him how much he felt like roadkill. "Did you wait even a little before disregarding all your doctor's orders?"
Marcus stepped away from the door and let her enter. "I had laundry," he said.
She gave him that look again, but mercifully shook it off. "May I?" she asked.
He let out a loud breath and nodded. Not too long ago, Joan ripped his shirt open and held as much of his blood on the inside as she could. They didn't have many secrets left between them.
He lie down on the couch while she got the materials together to change his bandage and pulled on a pair of gloves. "He feels guilty," she said, yanking his t-shirt up to his chest.
"Makes sense," Marcus said philosophically.
"I'll tell him to back off."
Marcus snorted, wishing her good luck with that.
With rubberized fingertips, she removed his bandage and poked around tentatively. "Let me know if any of this hurts, okay?"
He tried not to squirm. "No problem."
"Are you taking your meds as directed?"
"For the most part. Missed the last dose." He'd considered taking them while lugging his stuff back from the laundry room, but she didn't need to hear that.
"Hm," she said, which sounded ominous. Then she changed the subject. "How's your brother?" He was staring at the ceiling, but presumably she just spied the picture on the wall of Andre on a damn horse.
"He's great. Arizona really agrees with him."
"I'm surprised he didn't come out, at least for a few days."
"I'm fine," Marcus said. Thirty years it took him to get Andre out of the neighborhood. He was not letting him get sucked back in so soon, not when Marcus wasn't up to the task of making sure Andre wasn't meeting people and going places he shouldn't. "They've got him mentoring other ex-cons at this ranch his P.O. found." He couldn't overrate how important it was for Andre to give advice to people who could actually take it. Marcus hadn't looked up to him in years, but someone should. "It's not the kind of thing you can just walk away from."
"I'm glad to hear he's doing so well." She pulled his shirt down, squeezing his shoulder as he started to rise. "Hang on. I think the Jets are playing. Let me see if I can find it."
He had to admit, it was easier to just do what she said. She put on the game, though it wasn't the Jets, it was the Bills, and he stayed where he was. The vacuum wasn't going anywhere.
She handed him some white horse pills she said were prescription strength ibuprofen and chocolate milk to wash them down. She'd seen the six bottles of Hershey's syrup in his pantry when she'd helped Holmes search his apartment. She knew what his favorites were.
That couch was really comfortable. Almost made him want to go back in time and thank his past self.
"Mm?" He dragged his eyes open. "What's up?"
"You know you're important, too."
Marcus laughed, and didn't even mind that the hole in his gut punished him for it. "Take one bullet to save an attractive colleague and her asshole partner, and suddenly everybody starts thinking you got self esteem problems."
She shook her head, smiling, and covered him up with a blanket. "I'm gonna stay for a while, if that's okay?"
"Shitty game," he mumbled.
"Yeah, I'll find something else. Screw the Bills."
This time laughing really hurt, but he still didn't care.