Chapter 1: One More Miracle
John sits bolt upright on the couch, rubbing at his eyes as he stands. “Sherlock? Are you OK?”
“I...” Sherlock stands in the hallway leading to his bedroom, feet bare, pajama pants and t-shirt and dressing gown, hair tousled and eyes a little sleepy but still too alert, and he’s Sherlock, John knows he’s Sherlock, but he’s not the man John knew, not anymore.
“What’s wrong, Sherlock?”
Sherlock looks away, petulant but resigned. “My movie turned off.”
John smiles sadly. “They do that, Sherlock. Every movie ends.”
“But I’m not asleep yet. And it’s not supposed to turn off until I’m asleep.”
John frowns. “Sherlock, we talked about this. Remember? Three weeks ago?”
Sherlock frowns and screws up his nose, his mouth, his whole face thinking, and John wants to cry, wants to burst into tears over just how hard it’s become for Sherlock to think, to remember.
“Sometimes...” The voice was soft, but deep and luxurious and John had never heard anything quite so amazing and wonderful in all his life and he wished, just wished, he could hear it spouting wild stories that proved to be true and calling him an idiot, just once more, please, just one more miracle.
“Go on, take your time, Sherlock.” John’s voice is quiet and soft and understanding.
“Sometimes I don’t fall asleep before the movie ends.”
John nods, and smiles reassuringly, and Sherlock folds his arms over his chest and rubs one foot over the other and looks like an eight-year-old trapped in a thirty-seven-year-old’s body. “That’s right. And what did I say to do when that happens?”
“I’m... I just go to sleep. I don’t...” Sherlock squeezes his eyes shut and thinks and John shakes with the inability to make it stop, to make this just stop, but he controls it quickly, he has to, because if he falls to pieces it upsets Sherlock, and he can’t do that, can’t put him through that, because he’s been through enough, they both have.
“Tell you what.” John looks at Sherlock, who opens his eyes and watches John. “I’ll put the movie back on. Just this once, mind.” Sherlock nods, jerky movements betraying his frustration. John waits until he turns back to his room, and follows him.
The room is the same as it’s ever been, except that now it has a decent sized flatscreen television bolted to the wall, and a DVD player, and a small stand that holds a couple dozen movies that Sherlock has picked out for himself. John grabs the remote for the player and clicks over to the ‘play’ selection before he realizes what’s wrong.
“You... you changed out your movie, didn’t you?” He whirls around to see Sherlock sitting in bed, knees tucked up to his chest, arms around them, shoulders hunched in. He’s rocking slowly back and forth.
“The first one ended, and I wasn’t sleepy, John...” The voice is anguished; he knows he did something John has told him not to do, knows he’s disappointed John, but he did it anyway because he wanted to, and now he knows John is unhappy. John blows out a long, slow breath through his nose.
“Alright, Sherlock. We’ve talked about this.”
“Because I wasn’t sleepy and you were and I didn’t want to wake you up so I thought just one more movie, I’d be sleepy then, but I wasn’t and I knew you’d be angry and I’m...I’m...” Sherlock’s head was now buried between his knees, and John hears the sniffling.
You’re sorry, and I’m a heartless bastard. He walked over to the bed and sat down at the foot of it. He waited, his right side towards Sherlock, just waiting, knowing. A moment later, the bed shifted, and Sherlock was pressed against the side of him.
“I’m sorry, John.” The voice was small and low and so not like Sherlock, not like he used to be, but John knew that was in the past and this, this was real and now and Sherlock was different but he was still Sherlock.
“It’s alright, Sherlock.” John put an arm around those shoulders, those once boney and pointed shoulders, now full and round and healthy. He pulled Sherlock a little closer. Sherlock put his arms around John’s torso and hugged him, cheek pressed into John’s chest, hearing John’s heartbeat, his breathing. Legs sprawled out awkwardly beside him now, twisted around John in ways John had never been able to imagine.
“You’re my friend, John.”
John closed his eyes. “Yes, Sherlock, I’m your friend.”
“And you love me. Right?”
“Yes.” John could almost get through this part without crying. Almost. “Yes, Sherlock, I love you very much.”
“That’s why you take care of me.”
It’s why I’ve always taken care of you, even before you needed it this much. “Yes.”
“I love you too John.”
And that was the breaking point, that was the part of this almost nightly ritual that shattered John’s heart into a million, billion, trillion tiny pieces until he was sure that Sherlock had died that day, and John had died with him, and this was just some weird alternate universe, and he put his other arm around Sherlock and held him tightly, planting soft kisses on the top of his head and breathing in the scent of him, of his hair after a shower and the apple scented shampoo he’d insisted on when they’d been at Tesco yesterday because it had an elephant, and elephants never forget things John, maybe I won’t forget things anymore John, please John, please, I really want this one.
John knew what had happened, because he was a doctor, and despite Sherlock’s best attempts, faking your death wasn’t as easy as he’d hoped, and something had gone wrong. He’d jumped from St. Bart’s roof, but he’d misjudged something, miscalculated, and rather than landing on the open truck bed full of hospital linens before jumping to the ground and splashing the blood-bags Molly had given him around, he’d jumped into the truck and hit something, hit his head...
“I’m sorry, John.”
“Don’t be, Sherlock. It’s fine.”
“I made you sad.”
“No, no, don’t think that.”
“I don’t think that. I know.”
John nodded against the top of Sherlock’s head. “Of course you do.”
“Will you...” Sherlock pulled away for a moment, looking up at John, those green eyes looking just as they always had, like they saw right through John and into him and around him and in every direction all at once. John sighed and smiled and nodded, and Sherlock smiled and snuggled his cheek and ear back against John’s chest for a moment before shifting away and moving to one side of the bed. John climbed up, under the covers, and held out his left arm. Sherlock snuggled down next to him, pressing the length of his body against John’s side, right ear over John’s heart because you have a good heart, John, and maybe if I listen to it I’ll know how to be good too, I want to be good, John, and John pushed play on the remote and pulled Sherlock closer.
“Sweet dreams, Sherlock.”
But Sherlock was already drifting off, the only reply a small murmur that rumbled through John and into John and around John and filled the room, going in all directions at once until John finally closes his eyes from the pressure of it all.
He falls asleep there, holding Sherlock close, while a movie that neither of them is watching plays on.
Chapter 2: The First Bad Sign
The first bad sign was the reaction of everyone when he walked into the pub. The second was his phone ringing nearly just after he'd sat down.
It was the first Saturday - first night, period, in nearly two months now - that John was free to do whatever the hell it was he wanted to do. Sherlock was staying at Mycroft's house for the night despite many protests and even a small tantrum followed by begging, begging that John wasn't sure he was going to get through, please John, please, I want to stay with you, I won't misbehave John, I'll sit quietly while you have a drink John, please John, and John had hugged Sherlock tight and ran his fingers through his hair and told him it was OK, he would see him again tomorrow for lunch.
Sherlock had sniffled a little but nodded, and John had smiled and stroked a thumb over Sherlock's cheek, there's a good lad, stiff upper lip, I'll see you tomorrow and we can go anywhere you want for lunch, and then we'll go home, alright, and Mycroft had smiled and told John everything would be alright, because right then John needed to hear it more than he needed to hear anything else.
So John had told Mycroft to call him if anything happened - anything at all - and Mycroft had assured him he would should the need arise before ushering Sherlock into the house, to the delighted sounds of Mycroft's wife, Cherise. John had waved to her, and then to Sherlock, who stood in the doorway looking lost and alone, and John could swear there was a tear rolling down one of those impossible cheekbones.
John had left, then, and found himself sitting at the local pub he used to frequent, and when he'd walked in he'd been met with raucous welcomes, and been sat on his usual stool. Received a kiss on each cheek from Renee, the flirtier of the two bartenders, and a firm clap on the back from Frank, the less-flirty of the two bartenders. A pint was promptly placed in front of him, and questions were lobbed at him from everywhere.
"John, blimey, good-"
"-you been, mate? We-"
"-terrible business, how're you-"
"-roommate, he really-"
"-the truth of-"
"-what happened, we all want to know!"
John had looked around and taken a deep breath and just as he was about to launch into the story, his phone had rung.
He pulled it out. Mycroft. "I've got to take this, hang on."
He stepped back out of the pub and answered.
"John, I'm sorry to bother you."
"It's fine, Mycroft, is Sherlock alright?"
"Oh, he's fine, he simply insists on a story that... I don't know..."
John nods and closes his eyes. "Sir Boast-A-Lot."
"Correct in one, full marks."
John chuckled at the joke. "OK, put him on. It's quick, I promise."
"Oh, first... make sure he's brushed his teeth? He... he tries to get away without doing that sometimes."
"Already done." John could hear the smile in Mycroft's voice. "Now, Sherlock, into bed. There we are. John is on the phone-"
John shakes his head as Sherlock's voice comes clearly over the line. "Did you just snatch your brother's phone away from him, Sherlock?"
The other end was quiet for a minute before John heard a muffled, "Sorry, Mycroft. I... forgot."
Mycroft told him it was alright, there was a beep, and John could hear more background noise. "You're on speaker, now, John. Perhaps if I hear the story, I'll be able to tell it next time."
John grinned. "Brilliant. Now, Sherlock, are you ready?"
"Alright. This is the story... of Sir Boast-A-Lot." John launched into the story that Sherlock had recounted to him, just one more piece in the puzzle of Sherlock's mind, how he could recount the story he'd heard in his cab ride with Moriarty but he couldn't remember his own phone number anymore. John repeated everything as Sherlock had told him, and then he came to his own addition. "The final problem was dangerous, and scary, and Sir Boast-A-Lot was very scared. But he talked to his friend - his very best friend - Sir Helps-A-Lot, and they came up with a plan. And it was a clever plan, and it was a brilliant plan, and when the King saw how brave and clever Sir Boast-A-Lot was in this plan, he knew the truth, and he knew that Sir Boast-A-Lot had never lied to him. And the King gave Sir Boast-A-Lot a new name - from that day forth, he was Sir Bravest-And-Cleverest, and the kingdom loved him."
John could hear Sherlock's breathing over the phone deepening. "Good...nigh... John."
"Good night, Sherlock." John was nearly whispering.
There was a rustle of blankets and a door closing, and then Mycroft was speaking again. "I am truly sorry to have interrupted your evening, John."
"It's no trouble, Mycroft."
"He was being... petty."
"He does that."
Mycroft chuckled quietly before clearing his throat. "John, I wanted to ask you... is this really what you want?"
Mycroft was silent for a beat. "Taking care of a man who has become a child in nature is not an easy task, John."
John's face went hot while his blood ran cold and all he could think was no, no, no...
"It's fine, Mycroft. I don't mind."
"I'm merely trying to help, John."
No arguments that John didn't understand, no droll comment about John playing the white knight, just a simple response that John realized was recognition of John's ability to keep up. If it were any other subject, John would have been extremely chuffed.
"I know, Mycroft." John pinched the bridge of his nose and he could practically hear Sherlock in his head, John, are you well, what's wrong John, have you got a headache, take some medicine John, John, I love you, I don't want you to hurt and just like that John was on the verge of tears again and pinching his nose even harder, fingers jamming into his tear ducts viciously.
"Think it over."
John hung up without saying goodbye - Mycroft was never one for idle pleasantries, and John hanging up would not be seen as rude, merely pragmatic. He shoved the phone back in his pocket and stepped back into the pub.
The sound of everyone laughing and talking filled his ears again, along with several people jokingly telling him he wasn't getting out of telling them about it all that easily and he smiled and sat down and took a long draw from his pint. Renee smiled at him and Frank nodded. "So." Renee's voice was low and sultry and John thought that he'd like to take her home, wrap himself in her and forget everything, forget his roommate who'd practically become his child and forget Mycroft who acted like an ex-spouse and forget that he was John H. Watson, just for a little while. "Tell us how you're gettin' on, after everything."
John smiled again. "Better... than, I had expected, to be honest. We're... adjusting."
The room suddenly sucked in a breath and John realized what they'd been waiting to hear; they'd been waiting to hear him say that he was on his own again and that they'd never have to hear about Sherlock Holmes again, because surely after his fall, after his lengthy hospital stay and the turn-up of his injury, his regression as the doctors had taken to calling it, surely John had washed his hands and was done, was free, was out of the game.
It took several seconds and not more than a few chugged pints for someone to finally speak up. "You aren't really still living with him, then?"
John turned around glared, face stony and soldier like and all he heard was Mycroft telling him he didn't need this, think it over, but there was nothing to think over and John hated it when people didn't realize that, hated it when people assumed things about him. Hated it when people assumed his honor was so non-existent that he would leave his best friend in the world because of this.
"Well of course I'm still living with him. Why wouldn't I?" No one answered him, and after a moment he nodded. He pulled his wallet out and slapped down enough to cover the pint and leave Renee a healthy tip. "Thanks, Renee. Frank." He nodded to the both of them, then stormed out, not looking back.
When he got home again, he stepped into the living room and saw Sherlock's newly acquired stuffed blue rabbit - he had seen it in a window display and stopped John, looking at it with wide, hopeful eyes, eyes John had never seen in Sherlock's face, and when he'd turned John knew, he knew he'd never be able to say no. Sherlock had not slept without it since that night.
John picked it up, how did we leave this here, I can't believe he didn't kick-up a fuss, and when did my life become picking up Sherlock's toys? He pulls the rabbit close to him and curls up on the couch, and this, this is why I can't let him go, Mycroft, because without him here I don't know what I'm doing.
He doesn't mind at all when his phone goes off a few hours later. It's Mycroft. He swipes his thumb across the screen and puts the phone to his ear.
Chapter 3: He Could Have Flown
A/N: ***This is the same note that is being posted on my other 2 chaptered Sherlock Fics, so if you read more than one of my stories, you can just skip over it next time. :D***
Oh. My. GAWD. YOU GUUUUUUUYS. Seriously, I am humbled and grateful and completely amazed by the response I've received from you, dear readers. I wish I could send you all tea and cookies and hugs (to mend all the heartbreak/agony/anxiety I've caused, it seems!), so let's imagine I did. :) Thank you, thank you, a thousand times, thank you.
Also, I believe that my posting schedule is going to every Monday from now on. While I do have quite a bit written in each story, I don't have them edited, which is the slower part of it all. Add in a 5-year-old and my husband being out to sea at the moment, and I've got a full plate. So bear with me, but I promise, I shall try to make it all worth it in the end. :)
[How is he?]
John smiles at the text. Lestrade had refused to believe it when Donovan and Anderson had come to him with their concerns. Hell, at the hospital after Sherlock's fall, he'd shaken John's hand for chinning the Chief Superintendent, strictly off the record o' course John, but thanks for that, it was brilliant, been wantin' to do that m'self for ages.
[He's adjusting. He still has his moments. And of course, with this... It's never certain just what's going on most of the time.] John's thoughts drift back to the hospital, the doctors showing him CT scans and MRIs and all sorts of tests he would have understood if it had been anyone but Sherlock lying on that damnable bed, with too many tubes and needles and beeping machines hooked into him. Brain injuries are hard to truly explain and understand - he'll have sudden mood swings, be difficult to understand at times. He may have moments of perfect clarity and others where he's forgotten his own name. Memory impairment. Personality fluctuations. Recommend therapy. Physical, psychiatric. It had all been so overwhelming. It still was.
[You need anything? Anything at all? I want to help, John. I hope you know that.]
John considers this. From the kitchen table he looks over to the sofa - Sherlock is sitting on the floor in front of it, a coloring book and crayons spread out on the coffee table, tongue stuck out between his teeth and lips as he concentrated on coloring in the lines like John had asked him to, I'll make it pretty John, you'll love it, will you put it on the fridge, I want to see it on the fridge John, and John sighs.
[He might need a therapist. He wouldn't talk to the last one, and there's... nightmares. I just... I have no idea who to even try and talk to at this point.]
Sherlock's still coloring, his hand working slowly, trying to regain that fine-motor-skill control. His blue dressing gown is spread around him on the floor like a cape. If only he'd been a superhero, he could have flown instead... John's phone beeps again.
[Dr. Mary Morstan - she's one of the therapists at the group my ex and I were going to, but she specializes in Children's & Family Therapies. Worked with her before, on cases. 0845 474 1724]
John rakes his free hand through his hair. [Will she be... OK with this? I mean, Sherlock isn't...] John pauses, then sends the text. Lestrade knows, of course he knows, he's Lestrade, he's known Sherlock much longer than John has.
[She's one of the best. Explain things to her - she's smart. She'll be able to help you. Tell me if there's anything I can do.]
John watches Sherlock for a few more minutes. He looks happy, looks like he's at peace, but John can recall every nightmare and scream and crying fit Sherlock's had since the fall, can remember everytime he wakes up clawing at the air and sobbing, no no no I don't want to die, John, John help me, save me, I can't stop falling John, he's going to hurt me, I don't want him to hurt me, I don't want him to hurt you, John, and John holds him close and whispers that he is safe, he is fine, no one will hurt him, and Sherlock clings to him and cries and complains that his head hurts. And John gets him a paracetamol and a glass of water and Sherlock complains that he doesn't like this medicine but he takes it, and John tucks him back in and rubs his back soothingly until Sherlock's breathing evens out again.
John picks up his phone and walks into the living room. "Sherlock? I'm going to go make a call - I'll just be in my bedroom, alright?" Sherlock smiles and nods and goes back to his coloring, and John bites his lower lip and hurries upstairs because watching this brilliant man trying to color within the lines of a cartoon bear is one of the saddest things he's ever seen and he just can't keep it together if he stays there a moment longer, watching it all. He pulls up the number in the text and hits send.
"Harley Therapy, London. How may I direct your call?"
"Oh, yes, hello, I... I need to speak to Dr. Morstan?"
"May I ask who's calling, sir?"
"Oh, John Watson."
"One moment, sir."
John takes a deep breath through his nose while he's on hold. A new voice comes on the line.
"This is Dr. Mary Morstan, how can I help you, Mr. Watson?"
John doesn't care that it's Dr. Watson, because this isn't about him, this is for Sherlock and I'll be anything she wants to call me if she can help me, help us, make sense of any of this. "Yes, a friend of mine said you might be able to help. I... I have sort of a unique case here."
"Alright. May I ask who referred you to us?"
"Greg Lestrade, Detective... Inspector... Lestrade." John blows out a deep breath through his nose, frustrated. When did I forget how to talk to someone professionally?
"Ah, yes, Detective Inspector Lestrade is quite a good man. Is this a police matter? I only ask because-"
"Oh, no, no... It's... It's hard to explain properly."
"I understand. Tell you what - I've got an open appointment time tomorrow at nine. Would you be able to come in and talk about it then? It might be easier, talking in person."
"Yes, yes, I can be there. We, I mean. It's... me and a friend."
Dr. Morstan is quiet for a long moment. "Mr. Watson, I must advise you that I do work primarily with children-"
"Yes, that's why Lestrade recommended you. It really is an... involved explanation. Tomorrow at nine, you said?"
"Yes." The words is soft, drawn out a bit. "Very well." Professional veneer back in place. "I'll see you both tomorrow at nine then."
"Thank you, doctor."
John hangs up and squeezes his eyes shut, counting to ten, then counting again in French, and in German, like Sherlock had taught him to once because it would calm him better to focus on different languages, and when he turns he is not the least bit surprised to see Sherlock peeking into his room through his half open door.
"Who was that?"
John smiles. "Someone you'll get to meet tomorrow, Sherlock."
"I don't want to meet anyone. I want to stay here." Arms fold across his chest, shoulders hunch. Pouting, which John can't blame on the head trauma because that's always been Sherlock.
"You'll only have to go for a little while. And I'll be there too." Sherlock's eyes brightened at that, and his arms unfold. John reaches out and squeezes one bicep. "Acceptable?"
"Good." John looks at Sherlock and for a moment he swears he sees a flicker, a flash of true understanding in those eyes, and he gets hopeful for that split second before he realizes no, no it was just a trick of the light, because the doctors all said that he would never get better, not really, constant and permanent state of regression was what they'd told him, and stupidly, stupidly he'd asked what that meant but he'd known, of course he'd known, and suddenly Sherlock had stepped in closer and was leaning down to look into his eyes.
"John?" The sound of Sherlock's voice was worried, so worried, and John smiles again and pulls him in for a hug and rests his head against Sherlock's shoulder. Sherlock holds him tightly and doesn't say anything else.
Chapter 4: The One Who Won't Run Screaming
The chair is uncomfortable and John wants to squirm in it, but Sherlock's sitting next to him jittering like he's had twenty cups of coffee instead of a bottle of orange juice and John just can't make him any more uncomfortable than he already is in this strange environment so he sits still and calm and tries, tries so hard to project those false feelings of calm onto his best friend. Sherlock's eyes are dancing along everything, never lingering, never staring, but John knows he's still taking it all in, still deducing things, even though his brain no longer understands it all. He reaches over and holds out his hand. Sherlock grabs it tight, grip painful but John won't say anything because right now it's the only thing keeping either of them from falling to pieces.
"You OK, Sherlock?" John looks over at him, putting on a reassuring smile. Sherlock nods, but a frown forms on his mouth as he's bouncing in his seat.
"I... um..." He looks at John, blushing, blushing of all things, and John watches him a moment before he gets it and extracts his hand to go murmur to the receptionist, who nods and points down the hallway. John smiles and thanks her and goes back, telling Sherlock what the lady said, and Sherlock is up out of the seat and down the hallway before John can remind him to lock the door and wash his hands after.
A young woman with bright strawberry-blonde hair steps aside as Sherlock dashes past her, his coat flowing out behind him as he ducks through a door which then closes rather loudly, the click of the lock falling into place making John sigh in relief. The young woman turns back and smiles at him, walking again. John can't help but appreciate her, the way she looks, the way she moves, her pitch black skirt suit and bright, royal blue dress shirt striking and flattering and thank god I'm not here to see-
"Mr. Watson?" She holds out her hand and John feels his face go blank, his hand reaching out automatically for her.
"Sorry, I... uh, it's Dr., actually. Dr. John Watson. I should have... yesterday..."
She smiles. Her teeth are perfect and white and John is imagining things he hopes he never has to voice because my god this woman would never allow me back here and Sherlock needs this so he smiles back.
"I'm going to take a guess that that was Mr. Holmes that rushed past so fast?"
"Yes, that was Sherlock." John nods and pulls his hand away because he's fairly certain he's already gone too long holding it but it was soft and perfect and he could almost feel those fingernails on his back and, and...
"John?" He glances over and sees Sherlock standing just behind Dr. Morstan, looking uncertainly between the two of them.
"Sherlock, this is Dr. Morstan." She turns and smiles at him and holds out her hand and Sherlock reaches for it before stopping himself and rubbing his hands over his coat, then shaking her hand and thank god he washed them I would die of shame if he hadn't.
Dr. Morstan asks them both to come with her and John has Sherlock walk between them because he cannot trust himself right then, cannot trust himself to keep it professional because it's been so long, so long since there'd been anyone, anyone at all, and he might have been working up to it with Sherlock, maybe, possibly, but then the clot had to go and jump off a building and now, now...
John and Sherlock sat down in the chairs in front of a large, utilitarian desk. Dr. Morstan sits in her large, ergonomic chair and smiles brightly. "So, you said this was difficult to explain, Dr. Watson?"
"John." He smiles again. "Call me John, please." And he launches into the explanation that doesn't include too many details because Sherlock's sitting right there, he wouldn't deal well hearing it all, and asking if Dr. Morstan ("Call me Mary, please.") had heard about what happened four months ago, with the papers and the frame jobs and the jumper on St. Bart's, and she has, of course she has, because she doesn't live under a rock John, she knows, Lestrade told you she's smart. "We don't know what he hit his head on, but... he hit it pretty... pretty hard, and..." Deep breath, compose yourself. "He has nightmares, not every night, but several times a week. So, I think... he may need some, I don't know..." He gestures towards her and she grins brightly and nods.
"Yes, I think you may be right. Traumatic experience, regression, it's very likely. And the nightmares, of course."
Mary turns to Sherlock now and asks, "Can we talk for a little while Sherlock?"
Sherlock licks his lips and studies her for a moment and John can hear it, he can bloody well hear it now, when Sherlock comes to the conclusion that Dr. Morstan is not here to hurt him, that she's here to help him, but he looks at John with eyes that are still scared and lost and I don't know her John, am I allowed to talk to her, John, help me, tell me what to do and John smiles as best he can.
"It's alright, Sherlock. I can stay right here or I can go-"
"No!" Sherlock reaches out quickly and grabs John's arm, his grip tight and his whole body shaking, lower lips trembling slightly. "Please, John, don't leave me."
"Alright, Sherlock, alright, I'll stay right here with you." John gently pulls Sherlock's hand off his arm and gestures to Mary, and Sherlock licks his lips again and turns back to her.
"What do you remember, Sherlock?" Her voice is gentle, soft, comforting. "Anything at all. Doesn't matter what it is."
"Red and blue make violet."
"Good. What else?"
"John's favorite movie is Return of the Jedi." John smiled. He couldn't believe Sherlock remembered that, he'd mentioned it once, before the fall, before Reichenbach, before Moriarty had wrapped him in Semtex and sent him into that pool. He'd been chatting with Sarah, and... Sherlock was listening, Sherlock's always listening, I should have known, but why did he save that bit?
"Alright. What else?" Dr. Morstan has a pen and a notepad now, and she's jotting down notes as Sherlock tells her everything he can remember, like two times two is four, and I helped a man named Angelo once, I proved he wasn't killing people, and Detective Inspector Lestrade was always nice to me even though he thought I was odd, and there was a man I don't like and he was going to hurt John...
John blinks at that, realizing that Sherlock is describing Moriarty. It hurts, it hurts to know that Sherlock still remembers anything of that maniac and oh, if John could have been the one to pull that trigger, to be the one who made Moriarty's head open up and his heart stop beating, and John has to stop himself from smiling at the thought of his hands around Moriarty's throat as he whispers, "This is for what you did to him, because he's my best friend and I love him more than you would ever understand, do you hear me?" And John refocuses on Sherlock's voice, Sherlock talking about his blue rabbit and I know rabbits aren't really blue, but I like this one anyway and John is calmed for the moment.
"And where did you get the blue rabbit?" Dr. Morstan's voice is kind and John thinks about what it might sound like in the morning, rough with sleep and more, and he blinks several times and focus, Watson, these are not the thoughts you should be entertaining at the moment, you've just met her, how goddamn desperate you these days?
Sherlock thinks for a moment. "I don't know. It was... in the window. John bought it for me." He looks back and smiles at John, wide and bright and is it any wonder I bought it for him, look at that smile, I'd do anything for that smile, I would walk off a high-rise to see him smile like that and know that he's happy, because when you love someone you do everything in your power to see them smile just. Like. That. And then Sherlock turns back and starts asking his own questions, like why Mary isn't wearing any jewelry at all, not even earrings, and she smiles and answers his questions as easily and freely as though she's the patient now, and Sherlock finally twists his mouth from side to side before looking at John again.
"Everything alright, Sherlock?"
"Are you going to ask her for a date?"
John isn't entirely certain what his face looks like right then, but he's fairly certain it's damn close to Mary's expression, horror and embarrassment and amusement and even a little bit of intrigue, like maybe, maybe this could work, maybe she's the one who won't run screaming when I have to take care of him because she knows, she sees it here and now and maybe...
But John quickly schools his expression into that fatherly look he's had to learn since he moved into 221B, and he only says, "Sherlock, that's inappropriate."
"Oh... not good?" Sherlock looks sad, and frustrated, and John hates having to keep the stern look on his face while Sherlock looks at him like that.
"No, not good, Sherlock."
"It's fine, I assure you." Dr. Morstan is smiling at them both. "If it's alright with you, John, I'd like to set up weekly meetings. Are you able to make a decision about time and day now, or do you need some time to think about it?"
John purses his lips. "I need to... check my schedule, I think. Just to make sure, and... put it out there that I'll be... unavailable for an hour each week... and..." He smiles awkwardly, could I sound any stupider right now, and he hopes that she takes some kind of pity on him and just lets it go, because he's not good at this, at any of this, and he doesn't know what to say around therapists because he never knows what it might be taken as. He licks his lips and tries to smile more sincerely.
"No problem. Here's my direct line." He takes the business card she offers him. "Call me anytime. If it's after office hours, leave me a message. I check them frequently from home and will often call back that same night." John nods and stands up, shaking her hand.
"Thank you." He steps aside and looks at Sherlock, who reaches out a cautious hand as well. They leave the office, step outside, and Sherlock smiles at him and John hopes that what he's doing is the right thing.
Chapter 5: Cookies Are Very Serious
"Oh, Sherlock, love, don't turn the heat up too high." John smiled as he heard Mrs. Hudson's soft scolding. John was sitting on the couch, laundry basket at his feet as he went through, folding shirts and pants and pairing socks. Right then the only thing he could think was that Mrs. Hudson really was a saint - she'd come up and grabbed his and Sherlock's laundry while they'd had their meeting with Dr. Morstan, which had been followed by a quick shopping trip for milk and a few other things they needed, and when they'd walked back in she'd just been finishing it up. She'd mentioned getting ready to bake some cookies for one of the local church support groups, and Sherlock's eyes had lit up.
John glanced over to see Sherlock adjusting the thermostat for the stove burner, under Mrs. Hudson's gentle instructions. When he'd expressed interest in the cookies, she'd told him he would have to work for them, and he'd immediately dashed upstairs, Come on, John! And John had stood at the bottom of the stairs laughing until Sherlock had looked back down at him and glared, John, cookies are very serious, and I want chocolate chip, Mrs. Hudson, can I have chocolate chip, please, and she'd told him of course he could and Sherlock's smile could have lit the city for weeks, it had been so bright.
So it was that under Mrs. Hudson's supervision, Sherlock had gathered the ingredients, breaking only three eggs in the process, which John had told him was fine, these things happen, it's not a problem, Sherlock. There were now more cookies in the flat than John had ever seen before - chocolate chip and oatmeal and peanut butter and now they were on double chocolate, which Mrs. Hudson had sent John to her flat to grab the baking chocolate for. She'd shown Sherlock how to use the double boiler and melt the chocolate down slowly so it wouldn't burn, and he was now in charge of making sure there were no lumps in the chocolate, stirring it slowly, and every so often Mrs. Hudson would tell him, "Not so high, Dear," and Sherlock would try to frown then end up smirking as he turned the burner back down and say, "Bored," and John would smile as he paired two socks.
It all felt so normal, which was very unusual in and of itself, so John could hardly be blamed when Sherlock startled him moments later by walking up and sticking a warm and gooey cookie in his mouth. John grabbed at it and looked up, frowning, but Sherlock only smiled at him, happily eating a cookie of his own. John chewed and smiled.
"It's very good, Sherlock. Well done." Sherlock's smile got even wider, and John snorted at the chocolate stains all around Sherlock's mouth, watching him trying to lick them all off before starting in on his fingers, licking chocolate off of them before sitting down with John.
"I..." There was a frown on Sherlock's face that John would swear should not be there, not after baking and eating cookies. "I want to start up my experiments. Again."
John's eyebrows rose and his smile disappeared. He remembers those? "Alright. Which ones?"
Sherlock huffed. "I don't... I can't remember. But, I did really well using the stove with Mrs. Hudson, and I... if you watched me, you could help me, you could..."
John nodded slowly. "Okay. Um..."
"Please." Sherlock looked over at him, eyes wide, begging and pleading. "Please, John. I remember... I used to do them... the experiments. I remember... eyes in the microwave and thumbs in the crisper but I... I don't know why I did those things..."
"Let me ask you this. Does the thought of eyeballs in the microwave bother you?" John watched Sherlock as he asked this, looking to see anything, a flicker of disgust or apprehension or anything at all that would tell him this was a very bad idea. But Sherlock only shook his head.
"No. No one else was using them."
John could not stop himself - he burst out laughing. Sherlock glared at him and Mrs. Hudson came out of the kitchen like a cat out of a bath, hand clutching her chest as she watched John fall back against the back of the couch, laughing hysterically at what Sherlock had said.
"Well, they weren't!" Sherlock shouted at him, turning away and pulling his legs up in front of him. He hunched around himself unhappily.
"Sher... Sherlock, I'm... I'm sorry." John puffed out words as he tried to catch his breath, one hand reaching out to grip Sherlock's shoulder. The younger man pulled away from him, but John soon caught his breath and scooted closer, putting his arm around Sherlock's shoulders and pulling him back, until he had to twist a bit so that his shoulder blades were resting against John's chest. John leaned his cheek against the top of Sherlock's head, dark curls brushing his face, tickling his nose and lips. Sherlock's hands came up to cling at John's arms, pulling them even tighter and closer, a contented sound escaping from Sherlock's throat.
"Thank you, John." Sherlock's voice was soft, and John smiled.
"For everything. For... for not... leaving."
John stiffened momentarily. "I'm not leaving, Sherlock. Ever. You're stuck with me to the end."
"Mycroft thinks you should leave."
John squeezed his eyes shut. "Mycroft's wrong. I'll only leave if you want me to."
"I never want you to leave, John."
John opens his eyes to see Mrs. Hudson, mostly hidden in the kitchen, watching them with tears streaming down her face. John moves his head as though to call out to her, to ask her to come join them, but she shakes her head and gives him a sad smile because she knows, she's heard his occasional row with the elder Holmes. John returns her sad smile and puts his head back down on Sherlock's hair, humming a song that Sherlock has played over and over for him on the violin that now sits collecting dust.
"I like that song, John."
"I know. I do too." And John keeps humming as Sherlock squirms and wiggles around until he's nearly sitting in John's lap, ear pressed to John's chest, listening to John's humming and heartbeat mixing together, and John knows he wouldn't trade afternoons with Sherlock and Mrs. Hudson for anything.
Chapter 6: I Hate To Bother You, But
[I hate to bother you but, I could use some help.]
John is still staring at the text five minutes later, trying to figure out what Lestrade might need him for, it was always Sherlock before, and John's not Sherlock and he knows that and he just can't see what use he could be...
He puts his phone on the coffee table and walks down the hall into Sherlock's room, stands in the doorway as he watches Sherlock sitting on the floor at the foot of his bed, staring up at the telly and mouthing the words along with the movie. Sherlock glances at him and smiles before returning his attention to the screen. John hears his phone in the other room and drags himself away from the sight of Sherlock in one of his favorite suits watching cartoon dogs.
[Hyde Park. Will you come?]
[Maybe - I need to see if Mrs. Hudson's busy.]
John frowns. [Because I don't fancy trying to keep Sherlock from wandering off while I look at whatever it is you want me to see.]
The phone is quiet for a moment, and just as John's about to pop downstairs to talk to his landlady, his phone chirps again. [Oh. I thought, maybe you could bring him along. It's just... I haven't seen him lately.]
John stared at the phone, not quite believing what he was seeing. [Are you saying you miss him? Really?]
[Well, yeah. So, will you come?]
John smiles. [Yeah. Be there soon.] He shoves the phone in his pocket excitedly. "Sherlock?" He walks down the hallway again. Sherlock's looking at him apprehensively. John's smile falters for just a second seeing that expression, oh god he thinks it's another doctor, another new face, that's always how I start these conversations, isn't it, I've got to stop that. His smile snaps back in place and he sits down next to Sherlock. "Would you like to go on an outing today?"
"Where?" Sherlock is still skeptical.
"Hyde Park. We're going to go see Lestrade. Do you remember Lestrade?"
Sherlock's eyes light up and he nods eagerly and a large grin comes over his face and oh thank god he wants to do this, but how do I tell him what we're-
"Are we going to a crime scene?"
It's John's turn to look apprehensive. "How-"
"We always used to see Lestrade at crime scenes. They were fun." John knows he shouldn't be surprised, but each time Sherlock remembers something, anything, it feels like a miracle and a curse all wrapped up in six-feet of former consulting detective turned Flowers for Algernon and John has to catch himself before he says anything, has to stop and think through what he's about to say.
"Yes, they were fun, weren't they?" His voice is soft and he smiles. "So, do you want to go?" Sherlock's eyes get very wide and he nods emphatically. "Alright, but we're talking about best behaviour, Sherlock." Sherlock nods some more and gets up, grabbing the pair of socks on the bed that John had put out for him earlier and pulling them on hurriedly. John grabs his jacket and Sherlock's coat, handing it over after Sherlock has his boots on, and the two of them are down the stairs and out the door, Sherlock raising his arm and calling out, "TAXI!" before John can do it himself. The movement is so natural, so normal, so Sherlock, that John has to take a deep breath before he climbs into the cab. The ride is quick and Sherlock stares out the window for most of it, like he always did, and John is left wondering what he's thinking, just like he always was, and it feels so familiar John could pretend that Sherlock never jumped off that building, never hurt himself, it was all a dream.
Hyde Park is large, and picturesque, and John texts Lestrade to let him know they're there and ask just where exactly in the sprawling park they're needed. A text comes back almost immediately. [Wellington Arch.]
Sherlock looks around, a smile tugging at his lips. "Let's go, John!" He reaches out and grabs John's hand, running and pulling John along, a laugh bubbling up and out and trailing behind him like a tangible thing, something John could almost grab onto if he tried hard enough.
"Sherlock, slow down!" John pulls back a bit, tugging Sherlock around to look at him, and Sherlock is still smiling, still laughing, and John sighs and smiles back. "Sherlock, it's not a race, and we're not going to miss it if we're not there right this second."
"But John, it's a murder scene, it's been ages since we were at one, and I want to go now!"
"Then we'll walk, Sherlock." Sherlock frowned but nodded. "Briskly, though," John added. Sherlock's grin returned.
They arrived ar Wellington Arch and were greeted by a very shocked looking Sergeant Donovan, who didn't say anything at all as she lifted the crime scene tape and let them in. Sherlock smiled at her and said nothing, and John wasn't sure if Sherlock remembered Sally or not.
Lestrade was walking over to them then, hand held out for John to shake, but Sherlock beat him to it, both arms going about Lestrade and pulling him in for a hug. Lestrade looked over at John, surprised, but he returned the hug without hesitation or complaint.
"It's nice to see you, Lestrade."
"Blimey, good to see you too, Sherlock. How've you been?"
John grimaced as Sherlock pulled out of the hug, launching into a summary of his time at Mycroft's house and meeting Dr. Morstan and baking cookies with Mrs. Hudson and going shopping with John. Lestrade listened attentively, nodding at appropriate intervals and smiling, and John had a moment to think it was a shame Lestrade had never had children, because he seemed to be a natural.
"So, what do you want us to look at?" Sherlock started looking around, his gaze resting on something. His hand shot out and gripped John's painfully.
"Sherlock, you alright?" Lestrade stepped in front of him, turning to try and figure out what Sherlock was looking at.
"He hates me."
John looked around while trying to extricate his numbing fingers. "Who, Sherlock?"
"Him." Sherlock nodded, and John could see it now. Dark hair, glasses. Anderson.
"Don't worry, Sherlock, Lestrade won't let Anderson talk to you." John gave Lestrade a pointed look. "Will you, Detective Inspector."
"Course not." Lestrade looked at John, then at Sherlock, who was shaking where he stood. "Lemme go and get him outta the way. I'll wave to you when it's clear." John nodded and finally removed his fingers from Sherlock's death-grip.
"Why does he hate me, John? What did I do?" Sherlock's voice is quiet, and John pulls him around until Sherlock's back is to Anderson and his face is focused on John's.
"Sherlock, don't worry about him, he won't-"
"I can't remember, John. I know he hates me but I can't remember why." And John thinks it's all too much, he should have let Sherlock stay with Mrs. Hudson, he was going to kill Lestrade for talking him into this and he hated himself for being capable of being talked into it at all.
"Sherlock, we can go."
"No!" Sherlock shook his head violently. "No, John, I want to stay."
"Nice to see the freak back on his feet."
John turned, seeing red and Anderson's face and before he knew it he heard Sherlock shouting at him, felt hands hauling him back and pain radiating from his knuckles on both hands. Anderson was on the ground, curled up and holding his face and Lestrade was shouting at people, asking why no one had obeyed a direct order to keep Anderson away from Sherlock, and John broke free of the hands and turned to see Sherlock staring at him, eyes wide and mouth agape in surprise.
"You hit him."
"Yeah." John looked down at his hands. The right one had some of Anderson's blood drying on it, though the blood on his left hand was his own - a split knuckle, nothing serious.
"John, you hit him. Twice." John looked up at Sherlock's face, his own expression carefully neutral.
"He said something he shouldn't have, Sherlock. It won't happen again." John looked back to see Anderson getting to his feet, shaking and still trying to staunch the bleeding in his nose, and John let a small smile creep over him before he turned back to Sherlock, smile gone again. "Let's go stand over here for a few minutes while they get this sorted."
John would be lying if he said he felt any remorse whatsoever for what had happened. The only thing he would feel remorse over was the look in Sherlock's eyes for that split second - because that split second had shown fear; fear of John, fear of Anderson, fear of everything he didn't seem capable of remembering.
When they were about fifteen feet away, John turned back to watch everything. Sherlock stood behind him, close, just a small portion of their bodies touching.
"You know, Sherlock. I won't ever do that to you."
Sherlock was quiet a moment before taking John's right hand and squeezing. "I know. You'll never hurt me, John. You're my friend. And you love me."
A/N: Because today is extra special, you get a Bonus Chapter! That's right, twice the update at no additional charge!
John is shaking as he dials the number. Listens to it ring three, four, five times. Hears the voicemail pick up.
"Hello, Dr... Uh, Mary. It's John. Watson. Uh, I... I think I could really use some... I dunno, advice, or something... Christ why is this so hard, uh, if you could please call me back..." John rattles off his number, says a hurried thank-you and hangs up, feeling incredibly stupid.
He's about to shove his phone back into his pocket when it buzzes in his hand. He looks at the screen. Mycroft. John huffs and checks the message.
[We should talk, John. -MH]
[My brother. -MH] John sighs and looks over at the nearest CCTV with a pointed look. His phone buzzes again. [If I didn't know better, John, I'd believe you were attempting to say something very rude with that look. -MH]
[Then obviously my point didn't come across very well if you think I was only attempting.] For good measure, John looks back at the camera and gives it a two-fingered salute and a great big smile that never reaches his eyes before walking back over to where Sherlock is chatting with Lestrade.
"Alright, John?" Lestrade looks at him with a smile, and John nods because now is not the time for complaints, and Lestrade is not the man to give them to, and Sherlock's looking at him with a grin that should be illegal because it's so happy.
"Two bodies, John! Two! And they wouldn't have found the second one without me!"
"Good on ya, Sherlock." John smiles and claps Sherlock's back and Sherlock is practically dancing in his spot, all concerns over John's indiscretion regarding Anderson an hour ago vanished in favor of the job,the work, a crime scene John!
Lestrade is smiling and Sherlock goes over to look at something on one of the bodies. "He seems to be... adjusting." Lestrade sounds surprised yet happy, and John nods.
"Yeah. It's, well. It's been difficult. But he's managing really well, all things considered."
Lestrade nodded, watching Sherlock as he turned to one of the constables and demanded new gloves and an evidence bag. The constable turned to Lestrade, who gestured as if to say, Well get on with it, you heard him. John smiled.
"Dr. Morstan seems nice, too. Thank you."
"Oh good, you called her. I was hoping she could help."
John nodded. "I think she might be able to do what none of the other therapists could do."
"And what's that?"
John grinned. "Make Sherlock listen."
Lestrade laughed out loud, and Sherlock glanced back at them both, giving John a small wave before turning back to what he was doing. "I still don't know how he does it. Even with... everything."
John glanced at Lestrade. He seemed older than John remembered, more worn and weathered. "Neither do I. Nor do any of the experts that were called in." No one can explain it, no one can make it make sense, no one knows why his brain does what it does. John's phone begins ringing. Mary. "Sorry, I've... I've got to take this." Lestrade nods and John steps away.
He can hear her smile in her voice. "Sorry. John. It's Mary, I got your message. Is everything alright?"
"Well..." John looks back to see Sherlock talking excitedly with Lestrade. "I..." He sighs, free hand coming up to scratch absently at the back of his neck. "When exactly can we start therapy?"
"Ah. Well... I have an opening on Monday, at one o'clock. Does that work for you?"
"Yes, that's... perfect. And... it'll be every Monday, right?"
"Yes. Was there anything I could help you with in the meantime?"
You could give me your home number, let me take you out to a nice dinner, give me one night of adult conversation that doesn't revolve around my flatmate. "I... I know that it's all very subjective and variable, but... Sherlock used to do... well, you know he was a detective."
"And... I was wondering if it... Is it a bad idea to let him keep helping out. At crime scenes. And... oh, shit, that sounds really stupid, doesn't it? Oh, god, I'm sorry..."
"It's fine, John. I've heard much worse, believe me."
John let out a high-pitched giggle. "Worse than my swearing, or worse than letting a brain-damaged genius traipse around crime scenes?"
He heard Mary let out a soft chuckle. "Well I must admit, in all my professional career I doubt I've ever heard anything even remotely like the second option." John laughed again, in a more normal timbre this time.
"Well that's probably a good thing, then." He threw his head back, took several short, quick breaths. "I just... He seems fine, but... I worry, and I can't even make up my own mind about whether this is a good thing for him, or the worst idea ever."
Mary is silent for several moments. "Tell me how he was when you told him where you were going."
"God, he was so excited. Like he'd just been told Christmas was coming twice this year."
"Has he had any episodes of stress or discomfort while there?"
John hesitated. "Yes. One."
"Was it in relation to the crime, or something else?"
"Something - someone - else."
"Is it a violent crime?"
John's mouth twisted. "Double... murder..." The other end of the line was quiet again. John bit his lower lip, pulling it back between his teeth slowly. "I'm a horrible human being, aren't I?"
"I don't believe so."
John snorted. "Well then, you may be one of the only ones these days."
"Do me a favor, John."
"Anything." And that tone was the perfect way to make her not think you're as desperate as an A-level kid in the back of his mum's car, Watson, well done indeed.
"Monitor him closely."
John frowned. "That's... remarkably easy, really."
"Then write down all of his reactions for the next forty-eight hours. To everything. Doesn't matter what it is - write down the stimuli and reactions. Bring it in on Monday. I'll talk to him, see how he felt about the experience, and we'll go from there. But... no more crime scenes until I clear him - and you - for the job."
"Yes, John." Mary's voice was softer now, intoxicating and gorgeous and oh. "You suffered a great trauma as well. It's imperative that you don't forget that, John."
John was silent as those words hit home, sunk in and took root. "Alright." He could barely hear his own voice as he spoke. He closed his eyes, willing himself to not think about the hospital, the cab, This phone call, it's my note, that's what people do, isn't it? Leave a note?
"Thank you, John. I'll see you both on Monday. Call me again if you need anything."
"Right. Yes. Thank you, Mary, I will. See you on Monday." He hangs up quickly, swiping at his eyes. He turns around to see Sherlock walking up to him, concern all over his face.
"John? Are you alright?" Sherlock's hands are on John's shoulders now, and he's looking him over like he had so many times before that John can only give him a weak smile and nod.
"We've got an appointment with Mary on Monday."
Sherlock nods. "Alright." John reaches up and tousles his hair, and Sherlock grins before bouncing off again towards the police officers milling about.
John smiles as he watches him, and thinks that maybe, possibly, this wasn't the worst idea ever.
John was leaning against the doorjamb to 221B when he heard the footsteps. Arms crossed over his chest, defensive position, Mycroft Sodding Holmes might believe he can bully me around but he'll know better in a minute.
"Tell you what - if there's a folder in your jacket with paperwork you want me to sign, you can turn 'round and just get out."
On the small landing below John stood Mycroft, leaning on his umbrella, looking unperturbed by John's demands. "As ever, John, I merely wish you to consider this."
"No." John's face is blank as he stares at the man Sherlock once proclaimed to be the British government.
Mycroft's smile is unfriendly but John won't flinch, he won't show that this bothers him. "I could force the issue, you know."
"You could, but you won't."
It's John's turn for an unfriendly smile. "Nope."
"And why is that, John?" Mycroft cocks his head, evaluating. John's smile grows wider.
"Because if you thought for a second - even a split-second - that Sherlock would be better anywhere but with me, you'd have whisked him out of here before either of us knew what was happening."
"Perhaps I simply needed time to arrange matters."
"You could have had it all arranged before he was out of the hospital."
Mycroft smiles, a different smile now - John can recognize it, the sign of respect that comes so infrequently from either Holmes but even less-so from Mycroft. "Then perhaps I needed to gauge his reactions to you."
"Then you'll be very aware of how well he's doing and how happy he is, under my care." John stresses those last two words, and he sees it - he can see the moment the inflection hits Mycroft's brain, because his eyes dart away for just a moment before coming back to John, a sort of bleakness in them now that wasn't there before.
"I worry about him."
"Constantly. I know."
Mycroft scowls but says nothing, staring at John's passive face. A silent power play, but John's played this game with Sherlock so many times he knows he'll win, knows that Mycroft will eventually admit defeat, and he lets himself smirk when Mycroft takes in a deep breath and closes his eyes.
"You know his best chance is by being with me. You do know that, don't you?"
"Because as I recall, you traded his whole life to Moriarty, and Moriarty sold it to that disgusting girl from the tabloids. So of the two of us, I'm the only one who hasn't ever sold him out."
Mycroft's mouth twisted, angry, petulant, good, good, I want you to feel like a prat.
"I have told you before, John, that had I known-"
"No, Mycroft, as his brother, you should have known. You knew Moriarty's level of obsession. You knew his tendencies. You thought you were so damn clever, and he played you like Sherlock once played that violin."
Mycroft takes a deep breath at that, and John feels that horrible sense of joy at seeing Mycroft so unsettled by him, by the truth, because the truth will out, Mycroft, and now you can't change it, can't stop it, can't take it back.
"Do not underestimate me John. Please know that I will always do whatever I feel is best for my brother."
"Then please - don't underestimate me. Understand that I will always be here - right here - protecting him. Standing between you two when needed. He's your brother and you love him - I know that, even if you don't say it, even if you never tell him that. But - and I mean this sincerely - do not underestimate my determination to keep him safe. Even from you."
Mycroft's chin raises as he regards John, but he only nods.
"You are far more intelligent than my brother ever gave you credit for."
"No, I'm smarter than you ever gave me credit for. But Sherlock knew. Sherlock's always known." John tilts his head to the side, and the movement is eerily similar to the way he considered Mycroft during their first meeting. "If that's all you came for, then off you pop. He's just fallen asleep twenty minutes ago, and I'll not have you waking him up when he needs his rest."
Mycroft looks ready to argue, to walk up those stairs anyway, but after a moment he nods and walks back down the stairs. John hears the door open, and close, hear the faint sound of the car driving away. He pulls in a shuddering, deep breath as he slumps against the doorframe, hands going to his face, palms pressed into his eyes and head dipping between his now spread knees. He shakes uncontrollably, a few rough noises escaping from his throat as he tries not to shatter into dust.
When he's finally able to sit up straight, he does so slowly, taking in long, slow, deep breaths, getting his heart rate under control again, making sure he's not going to stand up and fall over. He leans back against the doorjamb, letting his head tilt back so he's staring at the ceiling.
"That was a quiet one, then." He looks down at the landing with a start, seeing Mrs. Hudson standing there with two cups of steaming tea. He sniffles and nods, holding his breath for a moment to try and gain control. "Oh, John, don't you worry, love." Mrs. Hudson takes the steps carefully and hands him a cuppa. "He's all bluster."
"But he could easily cause a tornado. And Sherlock..." John closes his eyes and takes a sip. Earl Grey, hint of sugar, no cream, perfect, how does she always make it so perfect?
John stands and escorts Mrs. Hudson into the living room, where she sits in Sherlock's chair. John smiles as he thinks about how, of everyone they know, she's the only one afforded this courtesy.
"Mycroft Holmes thinks he knows what's best for all of us." Mrs. Hudson took a sip of her tea and smiled at John, such a mothering smile, how did she never have children, really. "But he doesn't take into account anyone else's feelings on the matter."
"No. Mycroft doesn't think other people's feelings are important."
"He'll understand soon enough, dear."
John looked at her, studying her for a moment. "What makes you say that?"
"Oh it's nothing-"
"I just think, that if he were try and force the issue, Sherlock would make his life a living hell."
"Mmm." John can picture that, in fact. He can see one of Sherlock's truly epic tantrums turned on Mycroft, who wouldn't have a clue how to handle it all, and would probably be on the phone to John in a split second. John allows himself a small chuckle.
"How is he, after the crime scene?" Mrs. Hudson is looking towards Sherlock's bedroom, which is dark and quiet.
"Better than he's been in a while, I think." John shakes his head. "It makes no sense, but..." He shrugs. "It's Sherlock."
Mrs. Hudson smiles at him. "He's special, John. Always has been."
John smiles back at her and drinks his tea.
John stood in the doorway to Sherlock's bedroom. He was in a deep sleep, sprawled out on his stomach, one arm tight around that silly blue rabbit and his hand near his mouth like he'd been sucking on his thumb again, and the blankets twisted around his legs. John sighed and walked in quietly, grabbing the remote and turning off the movie. The room went much darker once the telly was off, but John had spent so much time in it that he no longer needed the light to move around, and besides, Sherlock's night-light was more than enough to help him maneuver at half three in the morning.
John grimaced and paused, waiting to see if this was just Sherlock talking in his sleep, but when Sherlock thrashed once, John knew it was worse - it was a nightmare starting.
"John?" Sherlock's voice got higher, fevered and needy and desperate, and John slid onto the bed gently.
"Shhh, it's alright, Sherlock, I'm here." He rubbed at Sherlock's back, large, strong circles. "It's OK, Sherlock."
Sherlock suddenly shot up, rabbit still clutched tightly to his chest, breath fast and shallow and eyes wild, shooting around the room and taking it all in, including John sitting on his bed. He shoved forward, arms and rabbit wrapping around John and pulling him close, shaking all over like a leaf in a hurricane, and John put his arms around Sherlock and breathed him in.
"I'm right here, Sherlock."
"I remember. I remember, John."
John pulled back for a moment and looked at him. "What do you remember, Sherlock?" Sherlock stares at him as a few quiet tears roll down his cheeks, and he starts to worry in earnest. "Sherlock? Sherlock, what did you remember?"
Sherlock's lower lip trembled. "I saw... I saw the pool. And I saw you... that horrible jacket and the blinking lights and... I had a gun, John why, why did..."
"Sherlock, take a deep breath. That was a long time ago."
"It doesn't feel long ago."
John nods and pulls Sherlock back against his chest. "I know. But it was. Don't worry."
"The man... the man who did that..."
"He's gone. Sherlock, he's gone now."
Sherlock nods against John's chest, his breath evening out. "Stay."
John knows he shouldn't - he's only creating a precedence, making this the norm by giving in everytime Sherlock asks, but the alternative is unbearable and heart-wrenching, please John I just, I don't want to be alone, please stay John, please don't leave me alone, and John can't, he just can't say no and he can't stop himself and this is why he's taking Sherlock to see Dr. Morstan (call me Mary) starting tomorrow afternoon, because the nightmares need to slow down, and John's worried they will never slow down, will never get better, and he just wants it to be better because he knows it'll never be perfect again...
John looked at Sherlock, who looked so innocent and so devastated by this dream and he just wants to make it all go away.
"Can I have a drink of water?"
"Of course. But only a little bit, mind you." Sherlock nods and stretches, following John out to the kitchen. John grabs a clean cup from the cupboard and the water jug from the fridge, right in the same space where there's been severed heads, how did I ever learn to function without a head in the fridge these days? John pours the cup half full and hands it Sherlock before turning and grabbing the bottle of paracetamol. Sherlock's nose crinkles at the sound of the bottle opening.
John looks surprised. "What? No... no headache?"
Sherlock shakes his head. "I'm fine. I don't need medicine."
John looks at him, stares into his eyes and tries to discern if he's being lied to. He reaches up and presses lightly at Sherlock's temples, testing to see if the pulse is overly strong in that area, and Sherlock just smiles at him. John frowns, worrying, which is all he ever seems to do these days, worry about Sherlock. Even more worrying is the fact that he's worried because Sherlock isn't in pain. Sherlock seems genuinely pain-free though, and John is loathe to push any sort of medication when there's nothing to treat.
"Alright. But you tell me immediately if you get one." Sherlock nods and takes the small cup of water that John hands him, sipping it slowly.
"That felt good."
"What?" John's turned towards the sink, refilling the water jug. He looks at Sherlock. "What felt good?"
Sherlock points to his head. "That. What you did."
He means when I was touching his temples... "Oh."
Sherlock finishes his water and puts the cup in the sink, stepping in close to John. "Do it again."
John smiles and reaches up to rub gently at Sherlock's temples. "Like that?"
Sherlock pushes his head forward, eyes closed, letting John's fingers card through his hair. "Mmmm. Again."
John begins running his fingers through Sherlock's hair, and it's so soft, so silky and lovely, I've known women who would kill to have curls like this, and Sherlock is damn-near purring.
"I like your hands, John."
Sherlock's voice is low and John pulls his hands away quickly. "Alright, that's enough for now." He looks down as Sherlock looks at him and all John can do is stare at his feet. "Back to bed with you."
Sherlock huffs but stalks back into his bedroom, and John follows. Sherlock looks back at him with a sad little expression. "You will?" He looks at his bed and John nods.
"Of course. Said I would, and I don't break my promises."
"You never promised."
"No, I didn't."
Sherlock nods, seemingly satisfied, and slips back beneath the blanket, scooting over so that John can slide in next to him. Sherlock curls up against John, humming some violin concerto as he does so, and John suddenly thinks about the instrument sitting in their living room, collecting dust. He'd never given it much thought before, but now he has an intense desire to get up and go clean it off, dust it and polish it and put it back in it's case, safe from harm and destruction, and he knows, he knows this is all a reaction to Sherlock. Sherlock, who has been broken and harmed and destroyed and yet still endures.
Just like that damn violin he used to play at this hour.
Within minutes, Sherlock has fallen back to sleep. His breathing is deep, even, perfectly at ease. Carefully, John reaches over and runs his fingers through Sherlock's hair once more. It feels better than John believes it has any right to feel.
John stays awake, watching him, until he can no longer hold his eyes open.
When John wakes, Sherlock is sprawled on his back on the other side of his bed, legs and arms askew. John checks his watch - nearly half six in the morning. He groans softly and shoves himself upright, staggering out of the bed and into the bathroom. He cranks the shower as hot as he can stand it, and lets the water burn into him.
Once he's scrubbed and has donned a spare pair of pajama pants he keeps in the bathroom for just these occasions, he steps out and nearly walks right into Sherlock.
"Jesus, Sherlock." John chuckles as he towels his hair. "You startled me."
"You were gone."
John sighs. "I was only taking a shower, Sherlock. When you woke up - did you hear the water?"
Sherlock steps back a bit and thinks. "Yes."
"Good. Now. Tell me?"
"If I wake up and... you're not there... but the water is on, then... don't worry."
"Good! You're getting much better at this." John reaches out and tousles Sherlock's messy curls. "I see our memory exercises are helping."
Sherlock beams. "Am I getting back to normal?"
John's smile falters - only for a moment, a fraction of a second, but that's all it takes. Sherlock sees it, and his expression goes from jubilant to desperate. "John?"
John smiles again, wider. "You were never normal, Sherlock. You've always been extraordinary."
Sherlock looks at him for a moment. "Really? You think so?"
John nods. "Yes. You, Sherlock, are phenomenal."
"Tell me about how you've been since I last saw you."
John holds his breath. He sits in a small room with a one-way mirror. He's not entirely sure why, seeing as Sherlock had been told that John would not be joining them right away, and had immediately demanded to know where John would be. Mary had shown him, explaining that John would be able to see and hear everything, and would be joining them later. Sherlock had frowned but agreed to the idea. John had stood at the door for nearly three minutes, watching Sherlock observe the room, before Mary had kindly smiled and asked if he wanted to go grab some coffee.
John was well versed in, "Medical Professional-ese". Coffee meant, "Time to go." So he'd nodded and stepped away, going into the little observation room and ignoring the idea of anything that didn't involve him hearing everything that Sherlock would say.
Sherlock turned and looked at her. "I went to a crime scene." He smiled brightly. "I got to see Lestrade."
"Is Lestrade one of your friends?"
Sherlock frowned. "I think so." He looked over at the mirror, and John smiled. Sherlock was still looking for confirmation, for reassurance. It was as heartbreaking as it was heartwarming.
"Yes." Sherlock looks back to Mary. "Yes, Lestrade is my friend." He sounded confident, and John sagged in relief.
"And how did you feel, seeing him?"
Sherlock smiled. "I felt good."
Mary grinned. "Wonderful! Now, how did you feel about the crime scene?"
Sherlock looks around the room, his lips twisted not quite into a frown. "I... I didn't feel anything."
Mary nods. "OK then. How did you feel about what you saw at the crime scene."
Sherlock watched her for a moment. "It was interesting. I saw blood splatters that were inconsistent with the body they had found. I showed Lestrade, and they found a second body. It was fascinating."
John watched as Mary nodded again, her smile never wavering, her voice never cracking nor faltering. Lestrade had been right. She was amazing.
Mary and Sherlock talked a bit more about the crime scene. Sherlock told her about Anderson, and John, and Mary listened, making occasional notes and always showing them to Sherlock when he asked. John watched her and was struck with the image of Mary, holding a baby, two other young children running around her, and himself walking in the door and kissing them all hello; late nights where there was very little clothing involved and long walks in the park and movie nights and dinners and then even more scenarios without clothes.
At one point Mary looked up and John flushed, almost certain she could see him, could see the thoughts he'd been having. But that was crazy. He knew that, of course she can't see me, and she certainly can't hear what I'm thinking. But that didn't stop him from being embarrassed.
After half-an-hour, Mary signaled that he could come in now. He stood up and took several deep breaths, trying to get his mind out of the gutter and back onto a respectable train of thought.
As he entered the room, Sherlock turned, his face lighting up. John smiled back at him, pulling a chair over to sit next to Sherlock.
"Alright." Mary smiled at him and John thought about a wedding, pulling back Mary's veil and seeing that smile, that gorgeous face all lit up just for him, and he swallowed. "Now I'd like to talk to you for a bit, John."
John looked over at Sherlock, then back at Mary. "Where..."
"He'll be right here in this room." Her smile was softer now, warmer, more understanding of John's position.
He nodded. "Alright. Is there..." He looked behind him, smiling, then turned back to Sherlock. "I see some Lego's over there, mate. Bet you could build something incredible for me."
Sherlock's eyes widened, and he looked behind himself, scanning shelves of toys and books before at last, he found a large plastic bin labeled with bold marker, LEGO'S.
He looked back to John eagerly, and John laughed, nodding. Sherlock was up out of his seat and across the room, coat flaring out around him as he sat himself on the floor and pulled the bin out reverently.
John looked back at Mary. "Sorry, we... we only have a small collection so far. But he loves those things." Mary looked over at Sherlock, smiling.
"That's good. He's engaging himself. Focusing on creativity." She looked back at John. "That's a very, very good thing."
John nodded. "Good. Good."
"Did you bring the journal I asked you to keep?"
"Oh! Right!" John reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out a small notebook. It had been one of Sherlock's unused ones. "I hope... this is helpful."
"Thank-you. May I?" Mary gestured, opening it up. John nodded. "Thank you. I just want to see a few things."
She scanned the pages quickly, and John found himself staring at her eyes as they darted around the pages. He could fall into those eyes, and never want to surface.
After only a few moments, Mary smiled and closed the notebook. "You were very thorough. Thank-you."
"Of course." John licked his lips. "So... how terrible a person am I? On a scale of one to Hitler?"
Mary smiled. "I'd say about a three."
John laughed. "Oh, is that all?"
Mary tilted her head and... is she flirting with me, no, no can't be, she's... oh god, does she think I'm flirting, AM I flirting?
"Tell me about St. Bart's."
Flirting's over then, if it was even there. "Oh." John feels the blood draining from his face, his neck, his shoulders and torso, all of it coming to rest somewhere around his knees, which suddenly felt very wobbly and jelly-like and he was very, very glad he was already sitting down when she'd asked this question. "Oh." He swallowed, trying to get anything else out. "Oh." He failed.
"I know this can be hard."
"It's... oh." John leans forward, head down, eyes closed. Deep breaths, in, out, in, hold, out, in, hold, out. He looks back up. Mary looks concerned.
"Have you been prescribed anything for your anxiety?"
John frowns. "My... my what?" His breath is coming too fast for comfort, and he fights to control it.
Mary smiles again. "You appear to be experiencing a mild panic or anxiety attack."
John nods. "Right. Right, because... right."
Mary looks down at her lap for a moment before looking back up. "Have you talked to anyone at all? About what happened?"
John stares at her, his breath deep and steady, even as his heart races and he swears he can feel his brain rattling around as it screams at him to just ask for help.
"No." He looks away. "After... I was focused on Sherlock." He looks back towards the toys and sees Sherlock, who is now sprawled out on his stomach, hands moving quickly as he builds and plays. John looks back at Mary. "He needed so much help." John's voice breaks, just a little. He closes his eyes. "And I couldn't... I couldn't leave him. I couldn't bear to be away from him, even when he was sleeping, at the hospital, I just..." John sniffs quietly, feeling a few rebellious tears slips down his cheeks. "He needed me. He needed me there." He lifts a hand and scrubs angrily at his eyes with the back of his wrist, his sleeve, anything. When he looks back at Mary, she nods.
"I'd like to prescribe you something, John. I want you to promise me you'll take it." John frowns, about to protest, but Mary holds up a slim hand to stop him. "If you end up fighting off PTSD - because a trauma like this can bring about PTSD just as easily as being wounded in action, John - think about how Sherlock will react."
John sat back, looking at Mary, and he could see her point. If he reached a breaking point, and we all have them, don't we, that point where we can't take anymore and we just snap, and Sherlock was there...
John took another deep breath. "Alright."
Mary nodded. "Thank you. When you're feeling up to it, I'd like to discuss the event that brought you both to this point."
John nods slowly. "That... that sounds fair."
Mary smiles. "Is there anything else you feel we should discuss today?"
John looks at her and the words are suddenly out of his mouth. "Let me buy you a coffee?" Mary's eyebrows raise at the question. John squeezes his shut, nose scrunched. "Jesus, Jesus, I'm sorry. That... that was a lot less... oh god, I'm so sorry."
He looks back at her and gives her a strained smile. "So... same time next week? Right then." He stands up quickly, walking over to Sherlock and squatting down next to him. "Time to go, Sherlock. But, tell me what you've made first?"
Sherlock looks at him and describes his newest version of 221B (which has the additions of a laboratory and a space ship dock) as John listens and nods and does his best not to look back at Mary.
Sherlock places his creation back in the bin, putting it back on the shelf. He stands up, looking at John quizzically.
John smiles pleasantly at him. "Nothing. I'm fine."
"No. There's something wrong."
John shook his head. "Nothing to worry about."
He turned, eyes wide as he saw Mary approaching. She held out a small slip of paper. John looked down at it, confused.
"Your prescription." Mary smiled at him, and he giggled a little too loudly.
"Oh, right, of course."
"Black, two sugars."
John stared at her for a moment. "What?"
Mary smiled. "Coffee. Bring it next week. Black. Two sugars."
John's eyes widened, and he looked back at Sherlock, who grinned at him but gave no hints that the coffee order sounded in any way familiar. John looked back at Mary.
"Right. I can... right. Yes. OK. I... oh." He shook himself and smiled back at her before awkwardly ushering Sherlock out the door.
"I like Mary." John looked at Sherlock, who looked back at John with a very serious expression. "She's nice, John. I like her."
John nodded. "Yeah. Me too."
"Good." Sherlock looked straight ahead again. "Good."
John bit his lip and wondered how he was still on his feet.
John takes a deep breath and smiles. Mrs. Hudson had been right. It was glorious outside, for once. The sun was bright, balanced well by the multitudes of fluffy white clouds drifting along. It hadn't rained in days, which made the ground dry enough to sit on. John sat on a bench with a cup of coffee and a scone, enjoying the light breeze that ruffled through his hair occasionally. All in all, it was perfect.
Sherlock was sitting against a tree only a few feet away, a book propped open in his hands. He looked up, smiling at John quickly before going back to it. John grinned.
He turned, surprised at who he heard. Molly was walking carefully towards him. "Oh, John, it is you!"
He stood up and gave her a short, one-armed hug, then gestured to the bench. "Join me. If you're not, busy, that is."
"Oh, no, just got off, actually. This is one of my favorite parks, I like to just... sit. Relax." She smiled and sat down, looking around. "Where, um..."
"Right there." John motioned, and Molly smiled at the sight of Sherlock.
"Oh, good. He's... how is he?" Her voice went soft, sad. John looked over at Sherlock before answering.
"He's adjusting. Headaches are less frequent."
John looked over and smiled at her. "He's improving, physically at least. Mentally is... much slower going."
Molly bit her lip and nodded. "Right, of course. Has there been any... change? In his prognosis?"
John shook his head. "None. Most of the doctors said if he was going to regain his... Well, if he was going to go back to himself it probably would have happened by now."
"But there's still a chance then?" John frowned as Molly backtracked quickly. "Oh, god! I'm sorry, I... I didn't mean, I just..."
"It's fine, Molly." John waved off her apologies and softening his expression. "Really. I've... I've come to terms with it."
"So is he... staying with you still?"
John nodded. "Yeah. He refuses anyone else. God, he stayed with Mycroft one night - one night - and there were tears and a phone call for a story at bedtime and it just.. it didn't work as well as we'd hoped."
"Do you not want him around then?"
John looked at her, surprised. "What?"
"I didn't, I... I'm just curious, you sounded... disappointed?"
John shook his head. "No, no." He looked back at Sherlock, who was still reading. The wind picked up several of his curls, twirling them about his head. He paid them no mind. "No, I... I don't know what I'd do if he wasn't around all the time, honestly."
Molly nods. "Does he... does he remember people?" John looked back at her. She looked so eager, so hopeful and desperate. "Do you think he remembers me?"
John swallowed, worried and curious. "He does, sometimes. Other times he only remembers feelings, emotions. Sometimes he doesn't seem to know anything about someone at all. It's... I never know what he'll pull out of his brain."
Molly nodded again. "Alright." Sher took a deep breath, smiling sadly. "I should... I should go."
John frowned. "You don't want to say hello?"
Molly worried at her lower lip with her teeth. "No, I... I think I should just go."
"It was good to see you, John." She smiled shyly before standing up and rushing away.
John watched her go, then looked over at Sherlock. Sherlock was watching him out of the corner of his eye. John sighed, standing up. He walked over and sat down next to Sherlock.
"Who was that?"
John smiled. "That was Molly. Do you remember her?"
Sherlock shook his head. "She had small lips."
John snorted, remember his first meeting with both of them, lipstick that wasn't working and her mouth being too small now and oh how obvious it had been to everyone that she was head-over-heels for Sherlock.
"She works at St. Bart's." John's voice was quiet. "Like Mike."
Sherlock nodded slowly. "The morgue."
"That's it." John shot him an encouraging smile.
"She was in love with me." John's eyes froze wide open as his mouth sealed itself shut. Sherlock was looking at his book still. "She used to bring me coffee. And she tried to make me notice her."
John wasn't sure at all where to go with this, so he let Sherlock keep talking.
"She thought she didn't count."
"But she did. She does."
Sherlock nodded. "She's always counted. I trusted her."
"Good, Sherlock. You're doing well. Good job."
"I never loved her."
John looked down. "No, I don't think you did."
"I loved you." John closed his eyes as Sherlock said this. "I still love you."
"I know, Sherlock. And I love you too."
Sherlock leaned over, resting his head against John's shoulder, his curls flopping against John's cheek. "Read to me?"
John took the book that Sherlock held out to him, smiling. "Shall I start from here?"
"No. Start at the beginning. I like the beginning."
John nodded, flipping back to the first page. "Alright then." He clears his throat and begins. "In a hole, in the ground, there lived a hobbit..."
A week has flown by before John realizes it, and he's stepping into Harley Therapy London yet again, holding two cups of coffee, with Sherlock walking behind him and chewing loudly on the dark chocolate digestives he'd held up eagerly when John asked if he wanted anything. The receptionist smiled, and nodded at him as she took a phone call, and he grinned and took a seat. He'd barely settled into it before Mary was there, smiling brightly.
"Oh, hello!" John beamed at her, holding out one of the coffees as he stood back up. "Two sugars, as per."
Sher blushed slightly and took the cup. "Thank-you, John." She turned and looked at Sherlock, who smiled. "Hello, Sherlock. It's lovely to see you again."
"Mmm." Sherlock nodded, making very certain he did not talk until after he had swallowed his food. "Will John be sitting in that small room again today?"
"Only for a little while." John watched Mary and Sherlock, his eyes stinging a bit at how right it felt. He looked at them and could see life with them both, his life with them both, like it was a movie on the telly. Mary was the first person he'd ever met who didn't treat Sherlock as a freak of nature. Of course, she hadn't known him before his fall, but... something told him that she might have been one of the few who could have stood in his presence and not been overcome with anger, resentment, hatred. She might have been more like John - someone who reveled in Sherlock's abilities.
John wished he could have found out.
He followed them to the rooms they had used before. Sherlock looked at the small room John would be sitting in and then at John. John smiled at him and felt only a little stunned when Sherlock leaned over and planted a very soft, very quick kiss against his forehead before going into the larger room with Mary. John settled into the chair in his room, sipping his coffee.
Mary started off by asking Sherlock about his week. He told her that mostly he'd helped around the flat - he'd helped Mrs. Hudson with her dusting, helped John with laundry, even helped with dinner a few times that week. Mary smiled and nodded and asked if he'd done anything else.
"John took me to the park the other day."
"Did you like it?"
Sherlock nodded. "It was sunny out. I brought a book. I sat by a tree and read my book."
Sherlock grinned. "The Hobbit."
"Oh, I love that book." Mary shot a glance towards the mirror, and John grinned even though she couldn't see it. "Did you do anything else at the park?"
"Someone... saw John." Sherlock frowned as he tried to explain it. "She sounded surprised to see him."
"Did you know her?"
"I used to." Sherlock pursed his lips. "I remembered things about her when John told me she worked at St. Bart's. I remember she was nice to me. She thought... she didn't matter. But she did."
"She was your friend."
"Maybe." Sherlock looked over at the mirror. "I think... she wanted to be. But I never really..." He sighed. "I don't know how to explain it."
"That's alright." Mary's voice was gentle and Sherlock smiled slightly. "Did you work with her?"
"I... I had experiments. She helped me, sometimes. She brought me coffee." Sherlock looked at Mary's cup, then back at the mirror. His eyes grew wide as they panned back to Mary's cup. "Black. Two sugars."
John let out a shaky, nervous breath that he hadn't realized he'd been holding. Sherlock remembered.
"Is that how you took your coffee?" Mary was very focused on Sherlock, leaning towards him. Sherlock nodded.
"Yes." He looked at her in astonishment. "I remembered it."
John swiped at his eyes. He was crying, there was no other word for it. Sherlock remembered. Even if it was only a small, trivial fact, it was something.
Sherlock swallowed and looked over at the mirror, looking lost and joyful and surprised and so many things all at once that John didn't understand how he could feel so much in one moment.
John rubbed a hand over his mouth. He laughed quietly, a few tears still streaming down his cheeks.
"Christ, Sherlock, you will never stop amazing me."
He stood up and exited the room, going into the washroom and wiping his face down with a cool, wet paper towel. When he stepped out again, he saw Mary down the hallway, looking about. He waved to her, and she nodded, gesturing to the room with Sherlock.
When John stepped in, Sherlock nearly flew over to him. "I used to drink coffee."
John nodded. "Yeah."
"Black, two sugars, just like Mary."
John smiled. "That's right."
Sherlock pulled John in close, hugging him tightly. "I'm remembering, John."
"I know. It's wonderful." John hugged Sherlock back. "I'm so proud of you."
Sherlock pulled back and smiled brightly. John reached up and laid his palm against Sherlock's cheek, rubbing his thumb affectionately over the cheekbone.
"Am I allowed, um..." Sherlock glanced over at the LEGO's and John nodded. Sherlock grinned and raced over to them as John took a seat with Mary.
"How has he been this week?"
John nodded. "Hardly any nightmares, not a single headache, and... happy." John chuckled. "I swear, he's happier every day."
Mary smiled. "That's good. It's a good sign for both of you."
"How d'you mean?"
"Well, it's a very circular idea. You're happy - that makes him happy. Him being happy in turn..."
"Oh, right. And when I'm stressed out or frustrated, he gets stressed out and frustrated, which makes me even more, yeah, I see that."
"Have you been taking the prescription I gave you?"
John frowned but nodded. "I don't... I don't think it's really helping, to be honest."
Mary smiled. "It'll take time. But, within a month or so, you should start noticing small, very minor, improvements."
John looked at Sherlock. He had his tongue between his teeth and his brow furrowed in concentration. "Alright."
"Can I ask you about Sherlock's brother?"
John whipped his head back around to Mary. "Mycroft?"
Mary nodded. "I received a call from him last week."
John closed his eyes. "Oh. What did he say?" He forced his eyes open again, forced himself to meet Mary's gaze.
"He asked me for my professional opinion regarding you and Sherlock, namely your care of him."
John held his breath for the second time that day. He was afraid to hear more. "And... you told him...?"
"I told him that we have a strict confidentiality policy."
John opened his eyes and stared at her. "You... you told Mycroft Holmes... Oh, Jesus, you are brilliant."
Mary blushed. "I want it understood that I am only telling you this in the interest of full-disclosure, and not to stir up trouble between the two of you."
John nodded. "Of course." He laughed. "So, really, you wouldn't tell him anything?"
Mary looked at him levelly. "As I said - strict confidentiality."
"I could kiss you." John froze, eyes widening, as he realized what he'd said. "Oh, god, just... ignore me. Ignore, all of that." He looked at her and gave an uncomfortable smile. "I just... I shouldn't be allowed to talk to women, that's it. I should not be allowed anywhere near women anymore, I... god, I am such an idiot, and... you're very quiet, Jesus, I'm making it worse, aren't I?"
Mary smiled, shaking her head. "No, it's fine, John. Much nicer than some of the things I hear from time to time."
John nodded. "Alright."
He stood up and went to Sherlock, squatting next to him. "Alright, time to go, Sherlock."
Sherlock nodded and began putting the LEGO's back in their container, humming softly to himself. John stood up and walked over to Mary, who was also standing now. "I just... please forgive me."
"Nothing to worry about, John. Here." She handed him a small business card. "This is my mobile number. If there's anything you need, after hours, please don't hesitate to call. I may not answer right away, but I will get back to you as soon as I can."
John nodded. "Alright. Um... any... reason?" He gestured with the card.
Mary smiled. "To tell the truth, I'm a bit concerned about Sherlock's brother. He seems... the type to meddle."
John laughed loudly as Sherlock walked up to them. "You've no idea." He held up the card once more. "Thank you. If anything comes up, I'll call you straight away."
"Good." Mary turned to Sherlock. "I'll see you next week?"
Sherlock smiled and nodded, then turned to John. John followed him out the door, tucking Mary's number into his wallet.
"Sherlock Jameson Holmes, get down here this instant!" John was done playing this game tonight, which had simply started as one of Sherlock's normal attempts to avoid a shower that he deemed unnecessary, often in favor of watching a movie or doing anything at all that wasn't a shower, and was now turning into a power struggle over the dominion of John's bedroom, which Sherlock had raced upstairs and into, then locked the door behind him. John had been on the first step when he'd heard the sounds of furniture moving, and had gone to pour himself a good stiff drink in the kitchen, knocking it back quickly before returning to the base of his stairway. "I mean it!"
"But I don't want to take a shower tonight, John! Can't I take it in the morning?"
"No, Sherlock, you need to take it now. I don't know what you got into outside, but you are not going to bed smelling like that!"
John could hear Sherlock scoffing at that, could imagine him pulling his shirt closer and sniffing it, and I swear I'm taking all the locks off these doors the moment he's asleep tonight.
"I don't smell that badly!" Sherlock's protest was half-hearted, and John smiled. He was winning now, slowly but surely.
"Sherlock, I'm going to count to three."
"One." The furniture started scraping along the floor again, back to it's original positions. After Sherlock was done, John waited, but the door didn't unlock. "Two."
"You're cross with me."
John closed his eyes. The sadness, the despair, the pain and hurt and frustration in Sherlock's voice was going to kill him one of these days, it really was, he knew it. "No, Sherlock. I'm not cross." He took in a deep breath. Heavy guns, then. "I'm disappointed in you."
The door unlocked and flew open, and Sherlock stood, glaring at him. "What? Why?"
John gave him a stern look. "You know very well why I'm disappointed. You're acting ridiculous, and you're not behaving yourself."
"I don't want to take a shower right now." Sherlock's tone was small, and he looked away from John, crossing his arms and hunching his shoulders and just don't slam the door again and we'll be fine, Sherlock, just come down here already please.
"And I told you that was too bad. Sherlock, you need a shower. And if you're not in the shower in the next five minutes, there will be no movie at bedtime."
Sherlock glared at John, but started down the stairs, arms still crossed in front of him, and how did I ever find myself the parent of a thirty-seven-year-old boy, I'm not cut out for this, maybe, maybe, Mycroft was right...
"I'm sorry, John." John looked down the stairs to where Sherlock was now standing, hands at his sides and eyes shiny with unfallen tears. "I... don't want you to be... dis... disappointed..."
I am an utter prat, and one day I'll be able to do this, maybe, one day, because I'll never be able to let him go. "You're forgiven, Sherlock. Into the shower. I'll bring your towel."
Sherlock nods and strides towards his bedroom. A moment later, as John is walking back there himself, a large blue towel in hand, he hears the water running and can smell apples and he closes his eyes. If he keeps them closed long enough he can pretend, pretend this is a nightmare and that any moment his best friend is going to reach out and snatch the towel away from him, congratulate him on being able to complete the most menial of tasks and then demand some tea. But as John opens the door, Sherlock's head pokes out around the shower curtain. "Ice cream."
"I want ice cream. For this." One hand snakes out and gestures at the shower.
John's expression goes flat. "No."
"Sherlock, saying please-"
"Please." The voice is softer this time, eyes wider and mouth turned down at the corners in a pout that John would never have believed was real five months ago. He stares at Sherlock for several moments.
"Tell you what - we'll go for a treat tomorrow. After we've visited with Mycroft and Cherise." Sherlock cocks his head, nods and ducks back into the shower. John sighs and steps back out of the room. He goes into Sherlock's bedroom, opening several drawers in the dresser, pulling out clean boxers, socks, and pajamas. He lays them out on the bed the way Sherlock likes them, and puts out the hair brush which he knows Sherlock will only carry out to the living room and hand to John, but he does it anyway as a sign of hope, hope that maybe Sherlock will start doing this one on his own, just maybe.
When he hears the shower turning off, he goes out to sit on the couch, and a few minutes later Sherlock emerges from his room, dried and dressed and holding the hair brush, which he holds out to John shyly. John nods and motions for him to sit on the floor between John's feet. Sherlock looks up at the telly with a small but delighted gasp.
"You... you put on my favorite movie?" Sherlock looks back at John, stunned.
"Yeah. Thought we'd have a movie night out here for a while, alright?" Sherlock grins and jumps up suddenly, racing back towards his bedroom. "Sherlock, what's wrong?"
"Nothing!" He returns a moment later, his favorite blanket and blue rabbit bundled in his arms, and proceeds to sit down at the coffee table, wrapping the blanket around his shoulders, scooping the bunny into his left arm and holding it close to his chest, and staring at the screen. John chuckles, starts the movie, and settles in to brush Sherlock's increasingly long hair, thinking that maybe tomorrow morning he'll take him out for a haircut first thing.
"I don't want a hair cut, John."
"You always say it when you brush my hair. I don't want one."
"You need one, Sherlock."
Sherlock huffs, and John shakes his head but says nothing else.
Before the movie has finished, Sherlock has crawled up onto the couch, snuggled against John's chest, blue bunny tucked under his arm and blanket still haphazardly thrown over his shoulders, asleep and content. John's exhausted, and he wants desperately to regain feeling in his left leg, which Sherlock is laying on, but he can't bear to rouse the sleeping man. He shifts a bit, careful to keep Sherlock as comfortable as possible, and leans his head back.
He's asleep before he realizes it.
"Stop pulling at your hair, Sherlock."
"It's too short."
John sighed. "It grows fast. You won't even notice it in three days."
"Meaning that for three days I will notice it."
John pinched the bridge of his nose. "It looks nice, Sherlock."
Sherlock huffed and looked away from John, out the window at the traffic and the pedestrians as they rode in the cab on their way to Mycroft's home. John had turned down the offer of a car to pick them up, saying that they'd had some errands to run both before and after the visit, and he wouldn't want to tie up any official vehicles. The truth of it, though, was that he wanted to be able to talk to Sherlock without feeling like his every word might be reported back.
"Listen, Sherlock." John ran a hand through his own freshly cut hair, feeling it bristle slightly under his palm. Sherlock didn't turn to look at him, but he continued on. "I need you to be very, very honest with me right now."
"Do you like living with me?"
Sherlock turned abruptly, glaring at John. "You can't send me away."
Shit, he is still too damn smart for me. "I don't want to send you away, Sherlock. I just want to make sure that you're-"
"I'm staying with you, John."
"Alright mate, just... calm down, Sherlock."
"Did I do something?"
John slid over in the seat and held his hand out. Sherlock took it and squeezed, looking angry and scared, like an adopted child who fears the loss of their new family. "No, Sherlock, you didn't do anything. I'm asking because Mycroft wants you to live with him and Cherise."
Sherlock looked down at his hand entwined with John's. "I don't want to live with Mycroft."
"It's OK if you do." John kept his voice even and steady and reassuring, even as his brain was screaming, NO, NO, PLEASE DON'T LEAVE, SHERLOCK, I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'D WITHOUT YOU. "I just want you to know... you have options."
Sherlock was quiet a moment before he nodded. "I like Baker Street."
John smiled. "Me too."
"I like Mrs. Hudson. I like her cookies and her Sunday roasts."
"Yes, those are nice, and Mrs. Hudson is very nice."
"And I like my skull, and the hideous wallpaper on every wall, and the way the stairs creak when we walk up and down on them." John swallowed and listened. "I like the stains and burns in our kitchen. And I like knowing you're there." Sherlock looked up into John's eyes. "I like Baker Street because you're there."
John nodded, looking away quickly. "Alright, Sherlock." He closed his eyes, trying to stop the tears he knew were there. Sherlock leaned over and rested his head on John's shoulder, and John took a deep breath, leaning his cheek against the still damp curls.
When they arrived at Mycroft's house, Sherlock's hand tightened around John's again, and john gave him a reassuring smile. "We're only coming for a visit, Sherlock. We didn't bring anything but ourselves, remember?"
Sherlock nodded and followed John out of the taxi.
Cherise was out the door before they were halfway up the walk. "Oh, John! It's so good to see you again!" She flung her arms around him delightedly, kissing both of his cheeks. "And Sherlock, you darling boy!" She grabbed Sherlock into a big hug, and Sherlock blushed and smiled.
"Hello Cherise." He straightened up and ran a hand over the back of his (now bare) neck. "It's nice to see you."
Cherise grinned at them both. "I hope you're hungry. Lunch is almost ready."
"Oh, starving." John smiled and followed her inside, Sherlock right behind him.
Mycroft's house was modest but beautiful, and John was constantly surprised at just how much it felt like a home. Soft, subtle shades of paint decorated the walls, and the furniture in the sitting room was large, squashy, and quite possibly more luxurious than anything John had ever sat on before. Cherise had tea and biscuits set out, and she poured them each a cuppa. John smiled as the scent of bergamot hit his nose.
"Mycroft's on his way home now." Cherise handed Sherlock a biscuit and tea. "He should be here in the next ten minutes or so." She smiled apologetically at John. "I hope that's alright."
John nodded. "Of course, not a problem. How've you been?"
Cherise sighed, still smiling. "Busy. I feel like this is my first day off in ages. You two should come by the museum, we've got a brand new exhibit opening up in about three weeks."
"What exhibit?" Sherlock sat forward, looking very keen at the idea. Cherise smiled.
"It's called, 'Signs, Symbols, Secrets.' It's all about alchemy."
Sherlock looked at John eagerly. John laughed and nodded. "Alright. Three weeks?" Cherise nodded. "We'll be there."
The front door opened, and John stood up as Mycroft entered the sitting room. "Ah, John, good to see you." He placed his satchel and umbrella down, coming over to shake John's hand before turning fondly to Sherlock, who also stood up.
Sherlock hesitated, then stepped in and hugged his brother tightly. Mycroft faltered only a split second before he hugged Sherlock in return. When they stepped back, Mycroft let one hand come up to squeeze Sherlock's arm affectionately. "I have missed you, Sherlock."
"I... I missed you too."
John looked away, smiling at Cherise. "Ah, did you want some help in the kitchen, Cherise? I could help set the table, or... anything you needed?"
Cherise nodded. "How very kind of you, John." She stood up and lead the way.
John looked back and smiled at Sherlock. "I'll just be in the kitchen, if you need me, alright?" Sherlock licked his lips and nodded slowly, watching John leave with a slightly concerned expression. John smiled again, then looked at Mycroft. "Cherise was mentioning the exhibit that's opening? Sherlock might have some questions, maybe you could answer them?"
Mycroft nodded gratefully before John disappeared into the kitchen.
Cherise was opening the oven, and John's mouth watered at the scent wafting from it. "My god, Cherise, it's no wonder Mycroft's always on a diet."
Cherise laughed, her nose crinkling slightly. "Fastest way to a man's heart."
"I always thought it was through the ribs." John reached up, opening a cabinet and pulling out plates. Cherise laughed again, and they fell into a comfortable silence for several moments as John set out plates, then went back for glasses. As he was pulling out silverware, he paused.
"I have to ask you something." He turned and looked at Cherise, who was stirring something in a pot on the stove. She looked at him, concern etched into her features.
"Is everything alright, John?"
John took a deep breath. "I don't understand, Cherise. I mean... he's his brother, he could have taken control over Sherlock's life at any time." John wasn't sure why he was saying all of this, but he couldn't stop now. "Mycroft could have walked in and yanked Sherlock right out of Baker Street." He closed his eyes. "Why hasn't he? I know he wants... He wants what's best, and he doesn't think I'm it." He opened his eyes again, pleading with her to understand.
Cherise set the spoon down and came over to stand next to John. "Mycroft is..."
She chuckled and nodded. "Yes. Very much so. But he won't work against an LPA."
Cherise looked at John, surprised. "Sherlock's LPA? Naming you his proxy, should anything like this happen?"
John stared at her, stunned. Sherlock had me named his proxy? He has an LPA? "When... how... what?"
Cherise smiled. "Ah, another moment of Holmes-brand ingenuity. About... fifteen months ago, I think, Sherlock had a Lasting Power of Attorney drawn up." She looked at the stove for a moment while John took this in.
"Oh shit, I could just murder him sometimes."
"Never realized what you were signing, did you?"
John shook his head. "Nope. He asked me, shortly after I moved in, if I'd be his proxy. I said yeah, sure, whatever mate. I knew he and Mycroft were... not always on the best of terms. And he asked me so many odd questions, being proxy and an LPA didn't sound like anything unusual for him, really. He never struck me as someone to go out and actually get one."
"I'm betting he slipped it into a bunch of other forms, and just told you they all needed to be signed-"
"-and he couldn't be bothered with it right then." John threw his head back and sighed. "He really is both mad and brilliant."
Cherise reached over and took John's hand. She gave it a soft squeeze, and John squeezed back. "For what it's worth, John? I think you're doing a fantastic job. And, even though he'd never admit it, Mycroft does too."
"You think so?"
"John, he's funded everything you've needed since... since it happened." John looked over at Cherise. She cocked her head to the side. "What is that, if not trust that what you're doing is beneficial to his brother?"
John looked down at the ground. "I... never really thought about that, to be honest." But it makes so much sense now, doesn't it?
Cherise leaned in and pecked his cheek. "Come on then." She strode over to the oven and grabbed her mitts, holding them out. "Don't make the lady of the house do the heavy lifting." She winked, and John laughed, taking the mitts from her.
"What's on your mind, John?"
John took a deep breath and looked Mary in the eyes. "Sherlock had an advance directive drawn up - Lasting Power of Attorney." Mary nodded. "It... it names me his proxy. I didn't... I didn't even realize it until the other day."
Mary gave him an small smile. "I've seen the documentation."
John closed his eyes. "Oh god, of course you knew I was his proxy. I couldn't have sought medical care for him any other way."
Mary nodded. "I find it curious, John, that you hadn't considered that before you came to me."
John sighed. "Trauma, remember?" He gave her a sad smile. "Mycroft's been letting me make all these choices and decisions, so I suppose... I thought he was simply trying to appease Sherlock, maybe make himself out to be a viable option later on."
"If you were to ask me my opinion, in a strictly non-professional sense, I would say that that idea is possible, but is most likely at the bottom of his motivations. First and foremost, I would think, would be-"
"The LPA. And me being proxy."
Mary was silent for a moment while John sat very still, feeling like a bug in one of Sherlock's old experiments. "And how are you feeling about that?"
John blew out a long breath. "Scared. That's the first thing that comes to me. I'm... I'm terrified, Mary."
"Because I don't want to screw anything up."
John ran a hand through his hair and frowned. "Everything?" He gave her a rueful smile. "Well, maybe not everything. If I make a bad decision with dinner, well, that's just dinner, right? I can make something else. But if I make a bad call with who his doctors are, or who he sees when we go out, or even who he stays with if I'm not available, then... what would the ramifications be? How would he react? How would I react? Would Mycroft take one minor issue as incentive to fight the LPA? Or would he let me make lots of minor mistakes so he could build a stronger case against me? And how do I trust that he isn't already trying to do that?"
He leaned forward, elbows on his knees and head in his hands. "I'm so scared that at any moment, someone will realize that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing."
He rubbed his hands over his face and took another deep breath, looking back up at Mary. She smiled.
"What do you think Sherlock would say about the task you've undertaken, and your choices thus far?"
John chuckled, but it was an unhappy sound. "He'd say I've been great. But he's-"
"Compromised?" Mary quirked an eyebrow at him, and he blushed. "Sherlock is happy, John. He's coming to terms with his memory loss, and even, to some extent, with his mental regression. He has healthy food and a comfortable bed and a place he calls home. He has you there, and you make him feel secure."
John nodded. "I know, but... I can't help but wonder if Mycroft will consider it enough."
Mary tilted her head and regarded John for several seconds. "Is that all that bothers you? The idea that you will not be considered enough for him?"
John looked back to where Sherlock had pulled out a book instead of the LEGO's and was sitting very quietly, a smile playing at his lips.
"No, probably not."
"What else, then?"
John swallowed. "I worry about him, and what he'll do if..." John sighed. "I'm not a young man. I'm not on the verge of retirement or anything, but... I'm over forty, and I don't know... I don't want him to have to deal with me being... gone."
"You're concerned that your mortality will be a distressing topic for Sherlock to discuss or experience."
John nodded. "Exactly. And not even so much that, just... I'm human. Humans get sick. We get colds and we get the flu and we develop cancer and we end up with tumors and sometimes we bounce back, and..." John ran a hand over his face. "I've watched people who smoked two or even three packs a day live to see one hundred. And I've watched athletes in the best physical shape of their lives fall and not get back up." John looked at Mary, and he knew he looked scared, looked downright terrified, and how am I ever supposed to explain to Sherlock if I get sick, really sick, he might understand but he might not and I don't know what I would do if he didn't understand...
Mary nodded. "What scares you more? The thought of being told you have cancer, or the thought of explaining it to Sherlock?"
John opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He closed it, then tried again, and again. But he found he had no answer yet.
"I... am not sure." He frowned slightly. "I think that, perhaps... I think it might honestly be the idea of explaining to Sherlock just what's going on."
Mary nodded again. "I want you to think for a moment after I ask you this, and I want you to be genuinely honest about the answer." John nodded. "Right now, at this very moment in your life, what scares you the most? What idea, or scenario, or concern, has you the most worried?"
John took in a long, deep breath through his nose and licked his lips. He looked at the wall, hands clasped in his lap as he sat back a bit.
Everything scares me. Being a parent. Being alone. Being human. Being the one that Sherlock depends on so completely, because if I'm not there, then what? Who'll cook his favorite meals when he's sad or scared, and who'll buy his apple shampoo, and who'll...
John's mouth made a surprised little, 'o,' and he snapped his attention back to Mary. "Oh."
Mary gave him a small smile. "What have you learned?"
John took another deep breath. "I suppose what really scares me is, what happens to him if something happens to me?"
Sherlock was holding two shopping bags and looking at everything but where he was going, as evidenced when he nearly walked into a third light pole. "Hey, what have I told you?" John gave him a mildly disapproving look that Sherlock grinned at.
"Always look at where I'm going." Sherlock's voice had that sing-song quality that came when he recited one of John's rules without really worrying about it. He continued looking around at the buildings, a large smile on his face. John looked at him, grinning at the way Sherlock's face was just a bit fuller, with slightly more color than it had had before. He was a damned sight healthier than John could ever remember seeing him before.
John gave Sherlock a very dramatic sigh, which Sherlock rolled his eyes at but kept smiling. "So, what shall we have for dinner tonight, then?"
John wrinkled his nose. "Pasta? Sherlock, I think we can do better than-"
John looked over to see a man walking closer to him than he would like. He smiled and nodded. "Hello." There was a tell-tale switch and John felt himself being herded into an alley. He reached out to grab Sherlock's arm, turning and pulling Sherlock behind him. He looked at a large, serrated blade. His eyes glanced back up at the man. "Ah."
The man smiled. "I'll be 'aving your wallets now." He was dressed well enough, and his dark hair was cut short and neat. Had John been asked to cast someone for the role of a mugger, this man would not have been it.
John nodded, moving slowly. "Can I... just set these down?" He could feel Sherlock behind him, trembling.
"Hurry it up."
"OK." John set down his bags and reached carefully for his wallet. "He doesn't have one, though." John gestured at Sherlock. "Honest. My turn to buy groceries." He gave a smile as he handed his wallet over.
The man glared at him. "Nice try. Wearing those posh clothes, you want me to believe 'e 'asn't got cash? Come on then!" He gestured with the knife at Sherlock. "'and it over!"
"I don't have... I..." Sherlock was like a twig caught in a gale, he was quivering so much.
"He doesn't have one, I swear." John held his hands up, keeping himself between the mugger and Sherlock. "Look, you've got mine, just take it and go. Alright?"
"Tell 'im to gimme 'is bleedin' money!"
"He hasn't got any!"
The mugger lunged.
Sherlock gasped and dropped his bags.
"Shit!" The mugger dropped his knife and ran. It was covered in blood.
John drew in a long, ragged breath, then sank to his knees. "Sherlock."
John kept one hand over his abdomen as he moved towards the mouth of the alley. "Sherlock, get my phone."
"It's in... my coat pocket." John grit his teeth as he leaned against one of the buildings. "Please, Sherlock."
A second later, Sherlock was fishing through John's pocket, pulling out the phone. "I have it!"
"Good. Call... Lestrade."
"It's saved... Sherlock... Find Lestrade." John was woozy, and he closed his eyes and laid down. Have to get low, keep the blood from spilling out faster, keep blood loss at a minimum, don't panic Sherlock.
"Lestrade?" Sherlock's voice was too high, words too fast. "It's John, he's hurt, I can't, Lestrade, I-"
"Hand it here." John reached out with one hand, the other still clamped down hard on his belly. Sherlock looked at him and knelt down immediately.
"John, what the-"
"We got mugged. Just past the corner of... Christ, corner of Melcombe."
"How bad you hurt?"
"Stab wound. Stomach."
"Shit. I'm sending an ambulance. Keep-"
"I'm a doctor... Lestrade."
"Right. We're en route, John."
John pushed the button and dropped the phone, his hand coming back to press at his wound. It was deep, and he was dizzy.
"Sherlock... I need your help."
John opened his eyes and looked at Sherlock, who was crying silently as he loomed over John. "What..."
"Put your hands here." John glanced down at his own hands. "Take your... gloves off... put them here..."
Sherlock quickly did as he was told. "John... why did he-"
"Don't worry... about that. Just... keep pressure here."
"John, I can't-"
"Yes... you can. I need you... to help me." John closed his eyes again. "Help me, Sherlock." He put his head back on the ground.
"Sherlock, keep... pressure on, alright? Only stop... when Lestrade tells you to."
"But why won't you tell me?"
"Alright... if Lestrade or I... tell you, you can... take your hands off. But keep them on... right now."
"John, I-I-I ca-can't."
"Sherlock. Deep... breaths. Calm down... Sherlock. Alright?"
"I'll be fine, Sherlock... You're doing... really well."
"John, I'm sorry."
"Not... not your fault."
"I didn't look. I didn't see."
"It's not your... fault. Sherlock... listen to me."
"No. You... are doing fine. Just do... do this."
"Tell me... a story... Sherlock."
"Just... tell me a st-...story."
"I don't know any stories."
"Sure you do. What's... your favorite?"
"Tell me... that... one."
"But you tell the stories, John."
John smiled, or at least, he thought he smiled. He wasn't entirely sure now. He also thought he could hear sirens finally. "You try." His voice was quiet, and Sherlock's was a wreck when he started.
"Th-th-this... is..." He kept sobbing between words, and John placed a hand over his, trying to squeeze but settling for just having it there a moment.
"You're fine... keep going."
"The... story of... Sir Boast-A-a-a-a-Lot."
The last thing John knew was the sound of Lestrade's voice shouting and mingling with Sherlock's. But he couldn't even make out the words.
Chapter 17: Interlude: Sherlock
Sherlock does not like hospitals.
He remembers them all too well. He remembers pain and waking up and John, always John, his friend, his partner, his John.
He remembers wanting to see John smile so much it hurt.
He remembers sleeping a lot and the feeling of John's hand in his as he rested and the way his arms and legs had been cuffed to the bed. John had said it was to help him get better faster. Sherlock had cried and shook his head and begged John to take him home, take him anywhere, as long as he wasn't in the hospital anymore.
John had squeezed his hand and tried not to cry as he said he couldn't do that - not yet, but soon, soon, he promised.
Sherlock squeezed his eyes shut as he stood next to Lestrade now, unable to stand the sight of John in a hospital bed like he'd had. There were so many machines, so many noises and tubes and Sherlock was trembling when Lestrade put a hand on the small of his back.
"He's gonna be fine, Sherlock."
Sherlock only sniffled.
"Let's go get a bite to eat, yeah?"
Sherlock looked at Lestrade then, and bit his lip. He was hungry, true enough. But he did not want to leave.
"John... he might wake up... I have to be here... he can't be alone."
Lestrade took a slow, deep breath. "Sherlock... he's not gonna wake up right now. He'll wake up later-"
"Five minutes from now is later."
"We have time to go eat something." Lestrade was rubbing small, slow circles into Sherlock's back. "Come on. If you don't, John will be cross with me. You don't want John to be cross with me, do you?"
Sherlock looked back at John and sighed. "No." His voice was sad but resigned.
"That's a good lad. Come on, whatever you want, we'll get it. Alright?"
Sherlock nodded, then strode into the room and stood next to John. He fidgeted a moment before leaning over and placing a soft kiss on John's forehead. "I'll be right back, John. I promise I'll be right back."
Sherlock straightened up, reaching out and giving John's hand a quick, gentle squeeze, and then returned to Lestrade's side.
"So what'll it be?"
Sherlock thought for a moment. "Dim sum?"
Lestrade smiled and nodded. "That sounds great! I know a nice little place not far from here, and that way we won't be gone too long. Deal?"
Sherlock nodded as they walked down the hallway and into the elevator. They were silent as they rode down to the ground level, and as they walked out of the hospital. Sherlock shoved his hands in his pockets and stared at the ground, trying not to feel guilty for having left.
Less than two blocks later, they walked into a small, cozy little Chinese restaurant. Lestrade did the talking, and they were soon seated in a quiet booth. Lestrade looked over the menu, pointing things out as he found them. Sherlock nodded and agreed to nearly everything that was offered.
An order of eggrolls was brought out, along with dipping sauces, and Lestrade set to work piling his own small plate with several of them.
"Is John going to die?"
Lestrade paused with his first eggroll dipping into the sweet and sour sauce, and looked up to see Sherlock staring morosely at the table, but not really seeing anything. "No, Sherlock, no of course not."
"How do you know?" Sherlock looked up into Lestrade's eyes.
"Because John's a fighter." Lestrade raised the eggroll to his lips and took a bite, placing the rest of it back on his plate. He set to work placing the remaining eggrolls on Sherlock's plate, and passed over the little dishes of sauce. He stared at Sherlock for several seconds.
Sherlock sighed and picked up an eggroll, dipping it lightly in one of the sauces, and taking a large bite, chewing loudly and pointedly. Lestrade smiled at him. "Thank you."
Sherlock rolled his eyes but kept eating.
"Like I said - John's a fighter. You know about his shoulder."
Sherlock nodded. "But that was years ago."
"Are you telling me you think John's not just as tough now as he was then?" Lestrade gave Sherlock a grin. "Because I will tell him you said that, Sherlock."
Sherlock snorted and smiled, and picked up a second eggroll. They ate quietly for a moment, before Sherlock spoke again. "I'm scared, Lestrade."
Lestrade looked at him and nodded. "I know. Me too. But you just gotta believe that John will be fine."
Sherlock took a long, shuddering breath. "I wasn't fine."
Lestrade closed his eyes. "Sherlock, you are fine. There's nothing wrong with you."
"I used to be... different." Sherlock paused as the server came by with a cart of steamer baskets, and he and Lestrade helped themselves. He smiled and nodded his thanks as she placed a large plate in front of him, then waited for her to leave before continuing. "I remembered things. I knew things. And it just..." He growled, and picked up his chopsticks, picking at his food.
"Easy, Sherlock." Lestrade reached over and placed a hand on Sherlock's arm.
"What if John doesn't remember me?"
Lestrade froze again, his eyes wide. "Why wouldn't he remember you?"
Sherlock sighed. "I don't know. But I want him to remember me."
Lestrade smiled at him. "He'll remember you Sherlock. Trust me."
Sherlock looked up at him and smiled slightly. "I'll try."
The rest of the meal passed quietly. Sherlock would occasionally ask for something and Lestrade would happily give him anything he wanted. When they had eaten their fill, Lestrade paid the bill and they walked back to the hospital, Sherlock with his hands shoved back into his pockets and Lestrade watching him out of the corner of his eye constantly.
When they arrived back on the floor that held John's room, they were almost immediately set upon by Mrs. Hudson, who hugged Sherlock tightly and did her best to keep her voice from quavering as she told him over and over that things would be fine.
Sherlock opened his eyes and saw Mycroft standing just outside of John's room. He tensed, and Mrs. Hudson pulled back. "Oh, Sherlock dear, what is it?"
He simply stared down the hall, watching Mycroft. Mrs. Hudson turned.
"Oh, love, he's been here almost as long as I have." She looked back at Sherlock and smiled. "Don't you worry. I'm right here, and your brother will behave himself." Sherlock looked back at her and smiled, then started down the hallway. He stopped when he was only two feet from Mycroft. They stood on either side of the doorway into John's room, staring at each other.
"You've been crying." Sherlock tilted his head and looked at Mycroft intently.
Mycroft smiled sadly and nodded. "Yes. I was... concerned."
"You were scared."
Mycroft nodded again. "No matter what you may think of me, Sherlock, I love you very, very much." Mycroft's voice was soft. "And I love John, as well. He is like a brother to me also."
Sherlock was still for a moment, with Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade off to the side, waiting to see what would happen next.
And what happened next surprised them all.
Sherlock flew forward and threw his arms around Mycroft, trembling and crying and whispering something that only Mycroft could hear. Mycroft nodded and put his arms around Sherlock as well, holding him tightly.
Lestrade looked on and felt his own eyes water at the sight of two of the greatest men he'd ever known, sobbing in a hospital corridor.
Chapter 18: Interlude: Lestrade
Lestrade sighed, and shifted carefully on the ridiculously uncomfortable couch-like thing in John's hospital room.
He looked down at his chest and smiled, reaching one hand up to stroke Sherlock's hair. Sherlock had insisted on staying at the hospital, and Mycroft had put up a valiant effort to get him to go home, stay with Mrs. Hudson or Mycroft himself. Lestrade had even offered to have him stay at his place, but Sherlock was having none of it.
"I have to be here when he wakes up," was all he would say.
Mycroft had offered to stay with him, but Lestrade had told him he'd stay the night and Sherlock and nodded, and Mycroft had graciously thanked him, promising to be back at eight o'clock sharp the next morning. Lestrade had smiled, shook his hand, and then looked back at Sherlock, who was yawning. Mrs. Hudson had hugged them both before allowing Mycroft to escort her out, telling them to ring her immediately if there was anything they needed.
Sherlock had watched Lestrade sit down on the couch-like thing, shifting his feet and glancing around, before finally Lestrade had opened his arms. "Well come on, Sherlock."
Sherlock had immediately curled up on top of Lestrade, snuggling against him like an oversized cat.
"What if he wakes up while I'm asleep?"
Lestrade had smiled and run his hand over Sherlock's hair. "Then I'll wake you up."
"You'll stay awake?" Sherlock had looked up at him, desperate and hopeful and far too innocent, Lestrade had thought. He looked less like the man who solved the unsolvable cases and more like a child terrified of the shadows under his bed.
"Yeah. I'm good at stayin' awake." Lestrade smiled and Sherlock nodded.
Less than twenty minutes later, Sherlock was asleep, breathing deep and even and Lestrade sighed in relief. He couldn't imagine Sherlock got much good rest, and while this certainly wasn't going to be good, it would at least be rest.
While Sherlock slept, Lestrade talked. Not loudly, but just enough so that his voice carried to John, he hoped.
"You probably saved his life, you know that?" Lestrade watched the monitors and listened to the beeps and the sound of air whooshing in and out of the machine that was helping John's lungs do their job. "And now you're... you're in a bloody coma, or close to it."
He bit his lip, looking down at Sherlock and checking to see if he was disturbed by the sound of Lestrade's voice. He was still fast asleep.
"You better wake up from all this and be just fine. Because if you're not, I'll kill you. Or at least maim you. Maiming might be better - little less paperwork involved." Lestrade smiled softly. "Christ, John, you still owe me a couple pints. You're not getting out of them this easily."
Lestrade looked back up at John's silent form. "John, you mean everything to him, you know. You're his whole bleedin' world, and if you don't get well just as soon as you can, where will that leave him?" Lestrade closed his eyes. "No, I don't even wanna think about that, so let's just take it off the table, alright? You get well, you do it as fast as you possibly can, and you don't argue with me about it, alright?"
The whoosh of air and the beep of monitors answered him. He smiled.
Before long, Lestrade was dozing, if it could be called that. His eyes popped open every five minutes, and even the slightest change in noises brought him up to full alert. Sherlock slept on, his arms around Lestrade's middle and his mouth slightly open, causing him to snore softly. Lestrade would smile down at him and run fingers over his hair in what he hoped was a soothing, comforting gesture. He assumed they helped, because Sherlock did not wake once.
At five 'til eight that morning, there was a soft tapping at the door, and a moment later Mycroft stepped in, looking pressed and perfect in one of his suits that Lestrade was fairly certain cost more than what he made in a year. He smiled up at Mycroft, who nodded to him, and held up a pastry box. A moment later, a young woman that Lestrade did not remember ever meeting walked in, balancing a drink tray in one hand and texting rapidly with the other. She set the drink tray on one of the small tables in the room, next to the pastry box, then left without a word.
"How is he?" Mycroft was standing with his hands in his pockets, staring at John.
"Unchanged. Nurses said he'd be out for a while, they're keeping him sedated. And Sherlock's been asleep all night."
Mycroft smiled and ducked his head. "I wish I could tell you how much it means to me... that my brother has such remarkable friends."
Lestrade licked his lips. "He's a remarkable person."
"Indeed." Mycroft glanced over at Sherlock, and Lestrade was shocked to see the amount of love and concern that seemed etched into Mycroft's face. "There is coffee, if you'd like. Nothing from the hospital, I can assure you."
Lestrade smiled. "I've had worse. I'm a cop."
Mycroft chuckled quietly. "True. But you have done myself and my family a tremendous service, Detective Inspector. The very least I could do was bring you coffee worth drinking."
Lestrade was about to respond when Sherlock bolted upright, glancing around frantically until his eyes focused on John, and he let out a long breath.
"Sherlock? Are you alright?"
Sherlock looked back down at Lestrade and frowned, then nodded. "Yes." He looked over at Mycroft, and his frown softened. "John... he didn't wake up."
Mycroft shook his head. "Not yet, Sherlock. He will wake soon."
Sherlock sighed and levered himself off the couch entirely, stretching and pacing a bit. Lestrade cringed as feeling and adequate blood flow reclaimed his legs, but he kept silent, not wanting to alarm Sherlock.
Mycroft smiled and selected a cup from the drink tray, passing it over. Lestrade nodded his thanks and sipped it.
It was heaven. This was definitely not the bottom-of-the-barrel mud they had at the Yard, or over-roasted and burnt beans that passed as coffee in most of the coffee shops he frequented. This was perfect.
"Oh god, I would give my left arm for coffee like this more often." He raised a toast to Mycroft. "This is amazing."
Mycroft smiled and gave a quick nod, once. "You are most welcome, Detective Inspector."
Lestrade closed his eyes as he sipped his coffee some more. The pins-and-needles feeling was just starting to fade, and he chanced standing, teetering only slightly before he found his balance.
He made his way over to the pastry box just as Sherlock emerged from the small bathroom in the room, his face looking freshly scrubbed. Lestrade offered him the pastry box, but he shook his head, turning to Mycroft. "Is there any orange juice?"
"Anthea will be back with some in just a- ah!" Mycroft smiled brightly as the door opened, and the woman from before walked in, holding a bottle of orange juice and a paper bag that smelled of savory sausage. She held them out to Sherlock, who took them with a soft, "Thank-you." She smiled, squeezed his arm, then nodded at both Mycroft and Lestrade before leaving again, phone in her hand once more.
Sherlock walked over to the couch and sat down, pulling out a styrofoam container. Lestrade watched him as he smiled at it's contents and began eating small bites.
"I think this is the most I've ever seen him eat before..." Lestrade had sidled closer to Mycroft, who chuckled.
"Yes, he's never been terribly concerned with what he puts himself through, as long as his mind worked."
Lestrade nodded. "Do you want me to send anyone over? Dimmock's probably going to have a conniption when he hears about this, if he hasn't already."
Mycroft shook his head. "No, thank you, Detective Inspector. I believe we shall be fine."
Lestrade nodded. "Is there... I mean, can I do anything at all right now?"
Mycroft turned to him, looking almost puzzled. "You feel you have not done enough?"
Lestrade shrugged. "They're my family too, you know."
Mycroft watched him, thoughtful. "Get some rest, Detective Inspector. The car will take you home, if you'd like."
Lestrade knew a dismissal when he heard one, but he couldn't just walk out. "Call me when he wakes?"
Mycroft nodded. "The very second I am able to."
Lestrade nodded. "Good." Then he waved to Sherlock, who smiled at him around a mouthful of eggs and toast, and walked into the hall.
Chapter 19: Interlude: Mycroft
Mycroft had never wanted children. He did not have the patience for them, he’d quickly learned. They were noisy, messy, and often did exactly what you had told them not to do.
He had no desire for anything like that.
Of course, sometimes life didn’t actually care what you wanted, and he had found that it always had a sense of humor - one that did not often make things run smoothly for him.
When he was twenty, he’d been selected for an internship with the government - a minor dignitary looking for a suitable replacement, someone intelligent they could train to take over once they moved up.
A week into his internship, Mycroft was offered the job his employer had applied for. He’d been shocked but humble, and graciously accepted the position.
He’d worked hard, striving to climb ever upward. His work had brought him to the Science Museum in London at one point, where he’d met a young woman named Cherise Branforth, who was training to become the assistant curator.
Cherise didn’t want children either. She was brilliant. She was lovely. And she smiled at Mycroft in a way he’d been wholly unprepared for.
They were married eighteen months later. Two months into the beginnings of wedded bliss, Sherlock had shown up at their door, shaking and covered in filth.
“I need help.”
Those were the only words he had said before he collapsed at Mycroft’s feet.
Cherise, of course, would have none of Mycroft’s attempts to send Sherlock to a rehab center. She insisted that Sherlock stay with them, safe and cared for and loved.
Mycroft had never been able to deny her anything.
Sherlock had spent a great deal of his time there spewing out vitriol and hatred in Mycroft’s direction, and often times simply ignoring everyone in favor of sitting near the window, looking at freedom.
“You brought this on yourself, showing up here.”
“Sod off, Mycroft.”
“Such kind language your family. The brother that took you in and feeds you, keeps you clean and off the streets when Mummy wouldn’t have you. The sister-in-law who dotes upon you and spends her days wiping your brow or rubbing your back when the withdrawals are so burdensome you cry out like a child.”
Sherlock glared out the window but said nothing. Mycroft sat in his favorite chair and watched him.
Like a child, Sherlock did everything he shouldn’t have. He always had. Where Mycroft had studied diligently and completed his university classes early, Sherlock had dropped out, claiming he didn’t need more course work, or more book work.
Mycroft had been a devoted son, following their parents’ rules and decisions without much questioning at all. Sherlock, however, had seen the rules as a challenge, finding ways to get things he wanted without getting caught, more often than not.
Mycroft had followed in his father’s footsteps, obtaining a government job and establishing himself in a comfortable, respectable position. Sherlock had scoffed at the idea of public service, and had instead set about finding puzzles to solve, regardless of what laws he had to break in order to do so.
And Mycroft found himself cleaning up the messes left in Sherlock’s wake.
Now, Mycroft sat in an overly disinfected hospital room, watching John as he lay still in his bed, listening to the machines, asking occasional questions of the nurses and doctors who came in and out of the room. Most of them were vague in their answers, not wanting to give him too much hope for the situation, and he nodded and thanked them all graciously, watching them scurry back out before he could say much else.
“Only you, John.” Mycroft sat in an uncomfortable chair while Sherlock was at home with Mrs. Hudson for a bit. She’d come and taken him home so he could pack a few things he wanted to bring back with him, which he’d been surprisingly agreeable to.
“You, John, are the only person I am not directly related to, that I take such an interest in.” Mycroft twisted his fingers around the handle of his umbrella. “And I want you to know, I don’t... I don’t want to take Sherlock away from you. I believe you’ve done a marvelous job, and I won’t pretend ignorance with regards to how important you are to him. I’ve known since the moment we met. My brother never had a flatmate before. He’s never truly needed one.”
Mycroft sighed and sat forward, elbows on his knees and face in his hands.
“You were special, John. You are special. I’ve never known anyone who could... humanize my brother. No one, in thirty-five years. But then you walked in, and since then he’s...” Mycroft looked up and smiled at the still form in front of him. “And that is why you must recover, John. He will not be... he would not take your death well. He’s fragile, John. Far more fragile than I’ve ever known him to be.”
There was a soft tap at the door, and Mycroft looked up. Anthea stepped in, a soft smile on her lips and her phone in her hand. “Sir, shall I clear your schedule for the week?”
Mycroft looked from her to John, then nodded. “Yes. Family leave, I should think.”
Anthea nodded, fingers tapping away at her phone as she walked farther into the room. She pulled a chair up next to Mycroft, reaching out one hand. He took it and squeezed gently once before letting go.
“Will he be alright? I mean... will he recover?”
Mycroft pursed his lips, then looked over at Anthea. “The truth is, I don’t know. The doctors say he has an excellent chance of recovery, but... they’ve had to sedate him.” Mycroft smiled. “He’s quite a fighter, our John.” Mycroft sighed. “Have you called my wife?”
Anthea nodded. “Yes, sir. She’ll be here within the hour.”
Mycroft nodded. “Thank you, Anthea. Surely, you have much better ideas of how to spend your time than sitting here.”
Anthea was silent a moment before she shook her head. “I pretended I didn’t remember him. That first time we met. But I did. He was... cute, I suppose. But I had a feeling, if you were meeting with him directly, it would be... a bad idea, to get involved.”
Mycroft looked down at his feet. “To be truthful, it would probably have been a bad idea regardless of my... involvement.”Mycroft sighed. “John is the most loyal person I’ve ever known. And his first loyalty, after that night, was to my brother.”
Mycroft steepled his fingers in front of his mouth, lips just touching them. “He’s sacrificed more than I can possibly quantify, and done all of it in the name of love for Sherlock.”
Mycroft looked at Anthea then. “My dear, before you do take some time off - and I am insisting you take some time off while I am away - would you do me a favor?”
Anthea nodded. “Of course. What would you like?”
Mycroft smiled. “There is a file on my computer. I shall text you the name and password. Please have those documents drawn up. I think... it’s long past time for it.”
Chapter 20: Interlude: Mrs. Hudson
The flat had been eerily quiet all night. Mrs. Emma Hudson was reveling in the sounds it now had, of Sherlock talking animatedly about an experiment he wanted to conduct the moment he and John came home, something about testing various hospital chemicals and different types of leaves, to see if any of them reacted like human skin.
“Where would you get skin, though, Sherlock?”
Sherlock grinned. “From the morgue, of course.”
She smiled at him and chuckled. “Oh, of course, how silly of me.”
Sherlock went back to packing some clothes, and Mrs. Hudson opened the fridge, checking things and making mental notes of what she’d have to use or toss before too much longer.
She turned back quickly, smiling at Sherlock. “Yes, love?”
“I... I should get some of John’s clothes, shouldn’t I?”
She nodded. “Yes, I rather think you should. Make sure they’re comfortable, though, Sherlock. No jeans or nice trousers. He’ll need comfortable, elastic waistbands. Has he got any sweats?” Sherlock nodded. “Good. And some t-shirts, too. And don’t forget his socks and pants, dear.”
Sherlock nodded again, then strode up the stairs. Moments later Mrs. Hudson could hear him rummaging around.
She took a deep breath, closing the fridge and looking around the flat. “Oh John.” Her voice was soft and sad. “Get well soon, dear. It’ll be so lonely here without you boys kicking up a fuss, and then what shall I do?”
Sherlock was finished a few minutes later, and Mrs. Hudson double checked his choices before they went back downstairs, hailing a taxi. Sherlock bounced in his seat, positively uncontainable, and Mrs. Hudson smiled as she held his hand on the ride back to the hospital.
Sherlock seemed in much better spirits as they walked in that time. He was even smiling a bit, glancing around as they walked to the elevator, one bag slung over each shoulder.
The ride up to John’s floor was fast and silent. Sherlock bounced on the balls of his feet until the doors opened again, then he practically flew down the hallway.
Mrs. Hudson followed him slowly, her hip troubling her a bit but not enough to keep her from making it to the room.
“Mrs. Hudson, how good to see you.” Mycroft was standing, and offered her a chair. She smiled at him, patting his cheek as she sat down.
“Thank-you, Mycroft.” She looked at John, who lay still and quiet in his bed. Her hand came up to cover her mouth as she felt her eyes watering. She did not want to cry right now - not now, not with Sherlock and Mycroft right there. Mycroft might fancy himself a dangerous and powerful man, but Sherlock had steadfastly believed in her. He’d told her as much so often she could hardly claim to not believe him these days.
“How is he?” Her voice was strong, and didn’t waver, no matter what her eyes were doing right then.
“He’s unchanged since last night. Stable, but sedated.” Mycroft’s hand found her shoulder and squeezed once before it was gone again. “The doctor was just in. Said that the... critical time has passed. He should make a rather good recovery.”
Mrs. Hudson closed her eyes and breathed out slowly. Critical time is passed, well you just thank your lucky stars, John Watson, because if you hadn’t gotten through that I would have hunted you down when I finally joined you in the afterlife.
There was the sound of a chair moving, and Sherlock was sitting next to her then, scooting very close and leaning towards her.
“I miss him.”
Mrs. Hudson smiled at Sherlock. “We all do, love. But don’t you worry. He’ll be right as rain before long.”
Sherlock looked at her and grinned, then leaned his head over onto her shoulder. “He’s strong. He’s always been strong.”
“Yes he has, dear.”
“And he’ll wake up soon, won’t he?”
Mrs. Hudson sighed and leaned her cheek against the top of Sherlock’s curly hair. “He’ll be awake sooner than any of us realize, I’d wager.”
Sherlock nodded against her shoulder. She heard Mycroft murmur something about stepping out to make a phone call, and she waved back at him. The door closed behind them, and she closed her eyes.
“It’ll be nice to have some quiet in the flat, won’t it, Mrs. Hudson?”
She made a sound somewhere between a sob and a laugh. “Oh, Sherlock, dear. It’ll be far too quiet without you two there to liven everything up.”
Sherlock hummed. “Then I suppose John will simply need to get better very, very soon.”
Mrs. Hudson took his hand again, squeezing. “Precisely, dear.”
Chapter 21: Interlude: John
There is nothing here.
It is dark, and it is silent. All he has is the infinite nothingness that surrounds him.
He has no purpose and no name. He is nothing and no one and he is everything and everyone because he is the only one.
The silence drenches him and the darkness drowns him, and he feels at peace.
It’s calming. It’s relaxing.
So he fights, and he feels. Pain, pain everywhere but mostly around his middle, and then there’s fear, and desperation. The darkness is impenetrable. The silence is unyielding.
And still he fights.
Slowly, he begins to hear things. Nothing he knows, just sounds, here and there, when he fights. He doesn’t hear his own voice, doesn’t hear his breathing or his shouting or even his whispered pleas, though he is sure they are there.
He feels things. A sharp sting on his arm and the weight of something against him and the coldness of air blowing over and around him.
He stops fighting.
There is nothing here.
Even he is not here.
He knows he cannot be here because if he is here, then he is not there, and there is where the sounds are, where the pain is. There is where he needs to be, he can feel it.
And so he wills it all away, wills himself to not be here but to be there.
He wills the pain to come.
It does not listen.
He wills the sounds to come.
He hears nothing.
He is going mad, though he cannot be certain he hasn’t already. After all, who but a madman would will pain to come, would welcome pain when given the choice?
He can think of no other answer to this question.
The silence tells him nothing.
There is nothing here.
The darkness will not let him see, will not let him understand, though he thinks perhaps he might, were he not a madman.
He thinks he might understand where he is if he knew where he wasn’t, and he might know the meaning of life because he’s certain he’s dying, and he might remember his own name if the sounds would come back to him, if the pain would lance through him once more, just once more.
He thinks about fighting again, and tries.
There is nothing here.
No welcoming pain nor teasing sounds nor the feel of air over and around him. He is here, but he should be there. He must be there, because here is darkness and silence, and he cannot take them.
He fights again.
The sounds are back, soft and muted, and the pain is sharp and hot, and he feels himself smiling even though he cannot see it and does not remember what it looks like.
He tries to remember himself.
He tries to think through the pain that is gone too fast and the sounds that were never loud enough. He tries to think through the darkness and the silence and the unfeeling state of being he is in.
He wiggles his fingers, just because he can. He scrunches his toes because it seems funny to him. He laughs.
He never hears it.
There is nothing here.
If there is nothing then there is nothing for the sound to cling to. He tells himself that this must be why he hears nothing. It must be why he sees nothing. It must be why he feels nothing.
The darkness rushes him along and keeps him still and his head is spinning while the rest of him is immobile, and he doesn’t know what to make of that and so he makes nothing of it.
He claps his hands together, just once. He does not feel them touch, does not hear them hit. No walls. Nothing to cling to. He nods and says yes and cannot hear it and cannot feel it and wonders if it’s real or all in his head.
It can’t be in his head, though. Because here is real and there is real and he’s stuck here but he has to get to there.
He’s left something there. Something important. He remembers this.
He has to get back there so that he can get his important thing, because important things are not here they are there.
There is nothing here.
His desperation turns to resolve and his resolve turns to determination and he’s struck by a memory of someone telling him he was stubborn, and he laughed and laughed and they laughed and he could almost think he heard it then, in this place which is here but not there, and there is where the noises are.
There’s pressure again, he feels it, and he feels the air as it blows over and around him and he feels something warm enveloping him and he smiles as the pain blooms and flares and then the sounds, oh the sounds.
He can almost make them out into words now, and he can feel it, he’s close, so close, just a little further, and now he sees a minimal shade of grey creeping over the unending darkness, and he knows.
He is not there, which is where he should be. He is still here. And here is losing now.
He shifts and moves and fights and the pain is excruciating and the sounds are louder and he is eager until the grey darkens again and he is cast back into darkness and nothingness.
He breathes, once, twice, three times, then opens his eyes.
There is nothing here.
Here is nothing and there is everything. He wants everything. He wants the sounds and the pain and the warmth and the feeling of something.
And he swears he will have it.
He rests now, and he plans his next fight. Plans for it to be his last fight, because he is tired and as he rests he does not relax because you cannot relax when you are nothingness personified.
He feels like he is nothing.
He wants to remember being something.
The nothingness will be gone soon - he is sure of it. He will rush into the grey which will lighten to white and he will open his eyes to everything instead of nothing. He will open his eyes and he will not have to fight this again.
But he knows he will have to fight something. There’s always another battle. He only hopes it does not come too soon once he is out of nothing and into everything.
He does not relax.
And there it is - his moment. He rushes quietly, for while this is a battle, he’s been going about it all wrong. He rushed headfirst, screaming and raging at the nothing.
He must take it by surprise.
And the nothingness is surprised.
Sounds are suddenly words and darkness rushed by into a deep grey and a lighter grey and a lighter grey still, and he can see white just ahead, knows that everything is just beyond the white.
The words - oh, the words, he could weep at hearing words again - are frantic and scared and he knows them but he does not understand them. He does not care. He just wants the words to never, ever stop.
He still rushing forward, still fighting and clawing at the nothingness that wants to keep him here, locked away and safe and bored and he fights harder than he’s ever remembered fighting before.
His eyes - his real eyes - flutter but he still does not see, he cannot see, but he observes and he knows this is his moment, his triumph. He swears he hears someone name him.
His eyes snap open.
Chapter 22: I've Rested Enough
John opened his eyes, staring at a blank, boring ceiling, and feeling like he might have been stabbed, then run over by a diesel truck, and possibly dropped off a building. He groaned, or at least, he made a valiant effort around whatever it was that had lodged in his throat. He tried to move his hands and feet, but they barely budged. There was a strange pressure on his wrists and ankles, and an odd sense that someone had called his name, though that was obviously not the case.
He closed his eyes again, then popped them back open. No, no I don't ever want to close my eyes again, how long has it been since I opened my eyes, oh god, where's Sherlock, I need to know...
As he was blinking and trying to figure out what he was going to do, a pair of eyes he had not been expecting came into view. He stared at them for a moment, confused, before his expression softened. He tried to move, tried to speak. A hand came up and cupped his cheek, and he leaned into it.
"Shhh. Rest, John."
He shook his head, no, I've rested enough, I want to be awake. He looked up into those eyes with what he hoped was an imploring gaze.
A smile, a soft laugh, oh those are heaven, please do it again. "Alright, just hold on, I'll get the doctor. Stay still."
The eyes and the smile and the hand retreated, and John slumped, which surprised him. He hadn't realized just how much he'd been straining to get up.
A moment later, a doctor came into view, smiling and feeling around on John's head and neck while talking to him. "Good to see you awake, Dr. Watson. Now, this will sting a bit, and talking will be difficult, you know."
John's brow furrowed, then he understood. A breathing tube. He nodded, and the doctor smiled reassuringly. "Alright. Let me get a few nurses, and we'll have that out of you in just a moment."
John nodded again, waiting patiently. The first set of eyes did not reappear.
True to his word, moments later the doctor and three nurses came into his room, trays and tables and various instruments spread out and ready. The nurses opened the sterile packets, gloves and masks on.
"Alright, John, take a deep breath for me?" John did as he was instructed, and the doctor checked a few things on the monitors. "Good, good. Again please." John took another deep breath. "Excellent. Now, I need you to relax. We'll make this as easy and quick as we can, alright?"
John nodded, then closed his eyes and took one more deep breath, opening them again as he felt the nurses' hands on him, pulling tape off of his cheeks as they loosened the muzzle-like contraption that held the tube in place.
He knew he'd had a breathing tube before. Getting shot tends to make the rest of your body try to shut down to avoid the pain, he'd learned first hand. But for some reason, having the tube removed was not something he remembered. So the odd, uncomfortable feeling of it was difficult to relax against.
But he managed as best he could, and the doctor was quite skilled. The tube came out, John coughed, and immediately swore. "Shit, that hurt."
"Careful, John, your vocal chords are probably a bit strained right now."
John nodded, then smiled. "Thank you." He kept his voice at a whisper.
The doctor nodded. "I'll just send in your girlfriend. She's been rather worried about you, and about your brother."
John was about to correct him when the door opened, and there stood Sherlock, eyes wide and hair a mess, a small smile tugging at his lips as he stared at John like he was a miracle.
John smiled. "Hey, Sherlock."
The doctor and nurses backed away as Sherlock hurried to John's side. "I'm sorry."
John frowned. "Why?"
"I wasn't here. I should have been here."
John smiled. "You're here now. And I can smile now."
Sherlock gripped John's hand tightly. "You scared me."
John nodded. "Scared m'self."
"Alright, Sherlock, let him rest his voice a bit. Does he have some water?"
John smiled at the sound of that voice. Sherlock walked to the other side of John's bed, grabbing a small pitcher and cup from a table.
Mary Morstan stepped up to the bed and smiled. "Hello, John. I think you missed one of our sessions."
John started laughing, then cringed. Sherlock held out the cup of water, complete with straw, and John sipped it slowly, smiling at Sherlock. "Thanks."
Sherlock beamed at him. "Should I call Lestrade? He would want to be here, he was here earlier, but... he had to go to work..."
John shook his head. "Not... yet. Just let me..." He looked between the two people beside him, his smile lopsided. "This... is the best wake up ever."
Mary blushed and Sherlock grinned, and John wanted to see those smiles more, wanted to see them every single day.
He looked at Sherlock. "You're alright, aren't you?" He watched Sherlock's face. "You didn't get hurt, did you?"
Sherlock shook his head. "No, no I'm fine."
"John, you need to rest your voice. At least for a little while."
John shook his head and looked at Mary. "No, I've rested long enough, I... how long, uh..."
Mary placed a hand on his arm, comforting, sad. "Ten days."
John closed his eyes and breathed out, long and slow. "Ten days?"
He opened his eyes and watched Mary, as she stared at his arm, his abdomen, anywhere but his face. "What else?"
Mary looked into his eyes now, licking her lips and nodding. "You were... difficult." She tapped the restraint on his wrist. "Hence these. They wanted to just sedate you, but... you fought through it, or tried to. They were worried about you popping stitches and rupturing vital organs."
John nodded. "And... surgery?"
Mary grimaced. "Four and a half hours, I'm told."
John frowned. "Well, I suppose it could have been worse."
He felt Sherlock's hand slip into his and he smiled, turning his head.
Sherlock looked back at him, scared and relieved and so many things. "John?"
"Sherlock?" John smiled.
Sherlock swallowed. "When can we go home?"
Chapter 23: Take Care Of Him
John wished he'd had an answer, when Sherlock had held his hand and asked, "When can we go home?"
But he didn't.
So he'd smiled and squeezed Sherlock's hand and told him, "Soon, I hope. It'll be up to the doctors."
Soon, it seemed, was not going to happen.
One week later, he was moving, slowly but surely, from his bed to the couch. And that was as far as he could go before he was doubled over, biting his tongue and his lips and even his hands sometimes to keep from screaming.
Being shot hadn't been this bad.
The bright spots in his daily suffering were Sherlock, who never left him for long, Mary, who came by nearly every evening after she left work, and Mrs. Hudson, who snuck in cookies and brownies and decent tea, and had asked John why he'd never introduced his lovely girlfriend.
"Gi-girlfriend?" He nearly choked on his tea as he sat in his bed, staring at Mrs. Hudson as though she'd suddenly sprouted a second head that was currently talking nonsense. "What are you... who do you... what?"
Mrs. Hudson beamed. "Oh, John. Really now, I may be an old woman but I can see it when two people are in love."
John frowned. "You... you don't mean Mary, do you?"
Mrs. Hudson giggled into her tea. "Lovely name, Mary. Lovely name for a lovely girl. And Sherlock is so taken with her."
"Oh, Mrs. Hudson, no, she's... she's our therapist, she's the one working with Sherlock, it's... it's not..." John felt like he was floundering. His face was hot and he was sure he'd flushed up bright as a tomato by now. "She's-"
"She's a very lovely girl that Sherlock is quite taken with, and who spends an awful lot of her free time here, John." Mrs. Hudson gave him a rather pointed look.
John licked his lips and nodded slowly. "Yes, now... now that you mention that..."
Mrs. Hudson put her cup down, hands folding together and settling primly in her lap. "She cares a great deal for you, John. And for Sherlock. And the worst she can say is no."
John looked down at his lap, not knowing what to say.
Knock knock. He looked up at the door, grinning as Mary stepped inside.
"Oh, hello Mrs. Hudson." Mary's smile was bright, and Mrs. Hudson stood up.
"Hello, Mary dear. I was just coming 'round for some tea with John, while Sherlock's out with Gregory for dinner." Mrs. Hudson shot John a quick glance. "Got to get back home, though, being out this late isn't always good for my hip."
"Of course. Lovely to see you."
"And you, dear." Mrs. Hudson placed a hand very gently on Mary's arm, looking back at John again. "Take care of him for me."
Mary blushed. "I will." She looked at John out of the corner of her eye. "If he'll let me."
Mrs. Hudson patted her arm once, then came around to the side of John's bed, giving him a gentle hug. "You be careful, love, don't wear yourself out trying to do too much."
Then Mrs. Hudson was out the door with another soft giggle, and John felt instantly uncomfortable.
"Er..." He scratched at the back of his neck. "Did you... uh... want to have a seat?" He winced.
"Are you alright?" Mary stepped up to his bedside, looking him over.
"Yeah, I just..." John rubbed his hands over his face. "I'm still in a bit of pain, and... stiff, from all the... sitting..." He closed his eyes. "It's frustrating."
He felt Mary's hand reach out and take his, squeezing gently. "I can't even imagine, John. I'm sorry."
John shook his head. "Don't be." He opened his eyes and looked over at her. "Can I... can I ask you something?"
She smiled softly and nodded. "Of course."
"Why... you're here a lot... is it just, I dunno, professional... curiosity, or..." He took a deep breath. "Are you coming here to see me, or... to see that I'm alright and check on Sherlock? Or..." He grimaced. "I... hell, why can't I just ask you a bloody question?"
Then he leaned in and kissed her.
He wasn't entirely sure what possessed him to do it then, at that moment in particular, but at this point he didn't feel he had much to lose.
Then Mary's hand slid out of his, and he felt both of her hands on his cheeks, one hand sliding up into his hair, delicate and careful and there was nothing in this world that could have prepared him for this.
His arms came up to pull her in closer, just a little bit closer, and oh, I just want her here with me, is that so wrong of me, really, to want this?
When she pulled back, her face was a very attractive shade of pink, and her pupils were dilated. John chuckled, and she blushed more.
"I'm... I'm sorry." She was stammering, licking her lips and trying to figure out what to say next and John just laughed, pulling her in again and kissing her.
It was even better the second time.
This time John pulled back. a hand coming up and fingertips tracing her cheekbone, her jaw line, memorizing the way her face felt.
"My god, I've wanted to do that since... shit, since I met you, really." He looked into her eyes.
"Sherlock was telling me." One side of her mouth turned up. "He told me he's never much liked most of your girlfriends. But he likes me, apparently."
John nodded. "He's told me that, a time of two."
Mary sighed. "I suppose... you're going to need a new therapist."
John frowned. "Why?"
Mary gave him an amused look. "I hear it's rather unprofessional to date one of your clients."
John looked down, nodding, their foreheads barely touching. "So... we're dating, then?" He looked back up, grinning at her.
"I think... that could be arranged." She straightened up, watching him. "Do you think Sherlock will... really be OK with this, though?"
John shrugged. "I suppose we'll have to find that out when the time comes for it. But... personally, I think he'll be better with this than he would have before his... fall."
Mary nodded. "So, when's he coming back? I was hoping he'd be here too."
John glanced at the clock on the wall. "Oh, he and Lestrade should be back in about ten minutes. They were going to go grab some Chinese. Made 'em promise to bring me back something."
Just then, the door opened, and in strode Sherlock, beaming from ear to ear. "John! They had-" He stopped when he saw Mary, but his smile didn't ever falter. "Mary! I knew you'd be here. See, Lestrade?"
Lestrade came in then, carrying a bag with a heavenly scent wafting out of it. "I never said she wouldn't be here, Sherlock!" He looked at John and gave him an exaggerated eye roll. "You thought I thought she wouldn't be here." He winked, bringing the bag to John."Nice to see you again, Dr. Morstan."
"You too, Detective Inspector. Though I won't say I'm sorry you haven't had need of my services."
Lestrade laughed. "Yeah, can't say I'm heartbroken about that. Never fun, when a case involves kids." he turned back to John. "Sherlock said you'd want some eggrolls, and we made sure there's some sweets too, can't have you livin' off the hospital food now, can we?"
"Ta." He looked over at Sherlock, who was currently chattering away with Mary about something, keeping his voice pitched low. John sighed and settled back just a bit, opening up one of the take away boxes to see the eggrolls.
"He really likes her."
John glanced back at Lestrade as he ate an eggroll. "Yeah."
"That's good. 'S good to see him... openin' up, I suppose." Lestrade reached over and stole one of the eggrolls from the box. "So, I, uh... I saw Molly, the other day."
John's eyebrows rose. "Oh? She alright?"
Lestrade gave him a half shrug. "She's worried sick, to be honest. I told her to come by, see you, but..." He shook his head. "She's got a lot o' guilt, over the whole thing with Sherlock, when he was gonna... well, she feels like shit, and she thinks you won't want her around."
John frowned, swiping the back of his hand across his mouth. "Do you think I should call her?"
Lestrade grabbed another eggroll. "Hard to say, really. But... if she were to show up..."
"I'd love to see her."
Lestrade grinned. "Good. I was hoping you'd say that. So, you know, in the next few days, I might... persuade her. Or just kidnap her for an hour."
John snorted. "A DI kidnapping innocent young morgue workers, that'll go over real well."
Lestrade chuckled. "Yeah." He finished the eggroll and grabbed a napkin, wiping his hands quickly. "Listen, I gotta be off, but..." He glanced over at Mary and Sherlock. "Hurry it up, alright? I want you outta this hospital soon. And I'm not the only one, got it?"
John blushed and nodded.
Chapter 24: Interlude: Molly
Molly stood just outside the door of John's hospital room. It was late, and John was asleep. She could see Sherlock there, curled up on the cot the doctors had brought in for him, and she allowed herself one tiny smile - brief, only a second long and then gone again - but it was enough.
She placed a shaking hand on the door, her palm flat and warm against the cool wood, and she closed her eyes.
She'd done this every single night, since the night John had been brought in.
And every single night, she told herself she'd go in tomorrow.
She opened her eyes again, looking through the window and watching them both. She imagined what they might say if they woke up and saw her.
She almost wanted them to wake up and see her.
John's voice would ring in her ears, imagined conversations and apologies and forgiveness.
She didn't think she could stand the idea of his forgiveness, but she needed it, craved it.
Then there was Sherlock's voice, low and rumbling and wondering who she was, why she was so nervous around him. In her mind he'd hug her and tell her it was alright, she shouldn't be so worried, things were fine.
One shuddering breath escaped her, and she started to shake, taking her hand away from the door quickly.
She licked her lips, considering her options, wondering if she should sneak in and leave a note on the table, or if she should leave a note with the receptionist at the desk, or if she should just forget the whole idea.
Every night, she thought she'd leave a note somewhere. And every night she told herself, tomorrow.
She took one deep, steadying breath, then turned and walked away.
Perhaps she'd try again tomorrow.
Sorry about the delay on getting Chapter 23 up, so here, enjoy this little mini-interlude!
For those wondering why I was late in getting this up, it's one of those kinda long stories that I shall now condense.
Sunday and Monday I went and saw the 2 different screenings of Frankenstein, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, and HOO BOY they were FAN-DOUBLE-TASTIC. Cannot pick a fave, ZOMG they were just amazing. The screenings were in the capitol city, though, which is a good 2-3 hours away, depending on the traffic. So I spent most of those two days traveling and watching Frankenstein.
Add in to this the fact that last week was the last week of school for my daughter (sometimes called Squeak, sometimes known as The Consulting 5-Year-Old), and I was one of the Room Moms in her kindergarten class, so we had a huge shindig that I was planning/running, and let me tell you, there's nothing quite like running a party for a group of 5-7 year olds. Oye vey.
And then this past Sunday was Father's Day, which is not a good day in my world, so... yeah, this is late. If you read The Minor Fall, I'm working on getting those up tomorrow, and after this, we should be back to a normal posting schedule (Merciful Zeus, please let me be back to a normal schedule!). Cheers, my darlings!
Chapter 25: It's Not Me I Do This For
There was nothing else for it. Physical therapy sucked.
John remembered this, the feeling that his body should be capable of doing something, but despite the signals his brain sent his body stubbornly sat there, refusing to cooperate.
"God damn this all to hell!" John was growling and snarling as the physical therapist looked at him reproachfully.
"Sorry, I'm... so sorry, it's just..." John reached up and wiped a hand over his face, looking directly at the ceiling. He was flat on his back, wearing the old sweatpants that Sherlock had brought him, and trying to lift a lightweight ball between his legs.
The problem was that his legs refused to work together at the same time.
"I feel so damn helpless, can't even move a two pound ball."
"Which is why we work on it. Don't worry. Once the coordination comes back, the strength will follow, and then you'll be looking back at this and wondering why you were so frustrated." The physical therapist was pretty, he thought, if a little too fair of skin, and her eyes might be a touch too wide, too large. But her smile was kind and her words reassuring, and he gave her a tiny smile as he nodded.
"I know. My..." He gestured at his left side. "My shoulder, same thing, had to relearn how to use the arm."
"I could still walk, though. Had... a cane, but... I could walk."
The physical therapist - Hannah, her ID badge said - helped him to sit back up. "All in good time, John." He grimaced and said nothing. "Would you believe me... if I told you you're doing better thus far than the doctors had hoped?" John looked up at her as she stood up. She laughed at him. "Don't look so surprised! They asked what we were working on, and when I told them we were moving up to the ball today, they said this was at least two weeks sooner than they'd thought."
"Well, I suppose that's the bright side of being stuck in this place."
Hannah shrugged. "Take the good with the bad. Just think. A month ago you were asleep with a tube down your throat."
"There is that, true."
Hannah crouched down, her hands checking his legs for swelling and strains before she carefully helped him stretch again, pushing his toes towards his shin gently.
"Oh that does feel good." John leaned his head back. "I swear I feel like I'm wound tight as a coil."
"The stretching feels good? No feeling of pulling, tearing?"
John shook his head. "No, that... it feel perfect, actually."
"Alright. I'm going to leave instructions for you, you can have your girlfriend help you, or... your, uh, friend?"
John grinned. "Everyone's confused about him. Yes, friend. It's... a long story, but, he's..."
John looked down at her. "Yes."
She smiled at him as she changed to the other foot. "He knew right away that I had an older brother, and that I've been a physical therapist for five years. Never seen anything like that before."
John nodded. "He's remarkable."
"He's why you're doing this."
John licked his lips. "I... what?"
Hannah giggles quietly. "He's why you're pushing yourself so hard, why you're trying to get out of here so soon."
John swallowed. "Yes. He... he had an accident, and... he hates hospitals, but he hates leaving me here, and..." John closed his eyes again. "It's... complicated."
"I believe you." Hannah brought John's foot carefully back to it's natural position. "Alright, stand up for me here." She held out her hand, and John took it, levering himself up. "How do you feel?"
John took a few small steps. "Not... not as bad as last week."
Hannah grinned. "Then that's an improvement. I'll see you again in two days. Is there anything else I can do, while I'm here?"
John shook his head. "No, I think... I think that's about..." He blushed. "I'm fine, thank you."
Hannah nodded and walked over to the table, pulling a small sheet of paper out of a notebook. She turned and handed it to John. "This is a series of stretches you can do, they'll help limber you up. And on the back, there are some resistance exercises. Those will help the strength. All low impact, and remember, do not push once you've gotten tired. Let your body heal, do not make things harder on yourself."
John thanked her and promised he'd be careful. She was just walking out as Sherlock walked back in, with Mycroft behind him.
"Oh, hello Sherlock!" Hannah beamed at him before turning to Mycroft. "Mr. Holmes, nice to see you."
"And you, thank-you." Mycroft gave her his patented, meaningless smile before turning to John. "Good to see you moving about, John. How are you feeling?"
John shuffled towards his bed, shrugging. "Well enough, I suppose. Still stiff. Not moving as easily as I'd like."
Mycroft nodded. Sherlock was now helping John back onto his bed, though John kept his legs dangling over the side of it. Sherlock grinned, then hopped up next to John, sitting very close. John didn't even stop to consider the way their thighs rested together there, side by side. It was just so normal for Sherlock these days.
"So how was the museum?" John looked over at Sherlock, giving him a wide smile. "I bet it was amazing."
"It was!" Sherlock lit up, and began detailing everything he and Mycroft had seen as they'd toured the exhibits. Mycroft took a seat near the bed, fixing his suit jacket absentmindedly as he did so.
"Well I can't wait to go myself, Sherlock." John clapped him on the back. "Hopefully, not much longer now."
"Indeed." Mycroft watched the two of them. "I may have it on good authority that at this time next week, you will be sitting on the... couch..." Mycroft grimaced as he said the word, and John ducked his head, trying not to laugh. "At home."
John's head snapped back up. "Wait, what?" He stared at Mycroft, who looked as passive as ever, then turned and looked at Sherlock, who was vibrating with excitement. "We're going home next week? Did you know that, Sherlock?"
"Yes!" Sherlock was nearly dancing as he sat there. "Mycroft told me when we got to the museum! We saw Cherise, she'll be here later, and Mycroft told us the doctors are going to release you on Monday." Sherlock glanced back to Mycroft again, then looked back at John. "We're going home, John. Home."
John just sat there, staring open mouthed as Sherlock wriggled beside him. Home. It sounded like heaven, like a dream coming true.
They were going home again.
Chapter 26: Small Victories Are All He Has
The door to 221B looms in front of John, a blessing and a threat and so very confusing yet comforting and all he wants to do is get inside, get upstairs, sit down. He's standing there in front of the steps, leaning on another cane and breathing.
It's the best feeling and the worst feeling all wrapped up in one. He hates how much he loves it, and maybe even loves that he hates it so much.
Mrs. Hudson's there at the door, cooing and fussing and he smiles at her as he maneuvers the steps into the flat, through the small hallway and into the flat proper. Seventeen steps in front of him and he could dance for joy if his body would stop insisting in his limitations.
Everything's the same. Nothing's the same. He's done this before, he never wanted to do it again, but I'd do this everyday if it meant Sherlock was safe and alive and standing with me.
Sherlock follows him - slowly- up the stairs to the door leading into their sitting room. He opens it, a weight pulling off his shoulders as it swings open. He closes his eyes and sighs.
"God, It feels good to be back here."
He limps in, gritting his teeth a bit until he can sit down carefully on the sofa. He's breathing much harder than he'd like and sweating a bit, but he's home, and he made it up the steps on his own. Small victories are all he has now, and he'll take them all.
A moment later, Sherlock's there beside him with a bottle of water, grinning as Mrs. Hudson flutters about their kitchen, talking about the small roast turkey she's making for their dinner tonight. John nods and does his best to smile back at her when she asks him questions.
After a few minutes, she steps over, running her fingers through his hair affectionately. "It's been too quiet here, John. So glad to have you home again."
He looks up at her. "It's good to be back."
She nods, looking like she might be tearing up, then quickly excuses herself and hurries down the stairs as well as she can, with her hip. John leans back, his breathing evening out a bit now.
"Can I..." He looks to his left, where Sherlock is perched on the edge of the seat. Sherlock screws up his face, thinking. "Oh! Can I get you anything... else?"
John chuckles softly. "Not right now, Sherlock, but thank you." He licked his lips. "Mycroft tell you to say that?"
"Cherise." Sherlock ducked his head. "I didn't like the hospital, John."
"I know. You know you..." John closed his eyes, swallowing. "You didn't have to stay. I wouldn't have been angry with you, Sherlock."
"I wanted to stay."
John nodded. "Alright."
"It smelled funny, though."
John snorted. "It smelled like antiseptics. You used to-" John opened his eyes again, gritting his teeth. "Sorry."
Sherlock frowned. "It's... fine." He looked away for a moment before standing quickly, looking back down at John. "Movie?"
"Sure." John gave him a little grin. "Anything you want."
Sherlock beamed. "I know just the thing!"
He darted over to a small bag on the kitchen table that John hadn't noticed before, pulling out a brand new DVD set. He held it out proudly for John to examine.
John's face went slack with surprise before he looked into Sherlock's eyes. "You... you got me..."
Sherlock nodded fervently. "All six. Which one do you want to watch first? Return of the Jedi?"
John laughed, nodding. "Yeah, sounds great, Sherlock."
Sherlock set to work, and in a few moments the music began, and John was tapping out the rhythm on his thigh. Sherlock settled in close to him, and John automatically raised his arm until Sherlock slipped under it, settling against his chest.
They watched almost forty minutes of the movie before Sherlock shifted, placing his head in John's lap as John dozed a bit, head leaning on his fist. John's hand automatically came up to run fingers through Sherlock's hair, and he was rewarded with a happy, contented sound emanating from his lap. He giggled.
"This is nice. I missed this, Sherlock."
"Mmm. Will you sleep downstairs?"
John took a deep breath. "I probably should."
They were quiet again for a moment before John spoke again. "I want to take Mary out to dinner next week."
"You should go."
"It... you know-"
"I could visit with Mrs. Hudson."
John felt his lips quirk slightly. "You could. Would you be alright with that?"
Sherlock's cheek rubbed against John's thigh as he nodded. "I like Mary, John."
"I know, Sherlock. I like her too."
"And she likes you."
"This is also true. And a bit surprising."
He felt Sherlock's chuckle rumble against his leg. "You're a likable person."
John licked his lips. Right now, the conversation, it was so easy to pretend, to act like Sherlock wasn't different, hadn't been injured or changed. It's like old times, except he's telling me I should go on a date instead of insisting that he was suggesting one, it's like I've got the old him back and I just wish sometimes that that was even possible.
He leaned back then, shifting slightly to get more comfortable, though after the hospital nearly anything was more relaxing. He let himself fall asleep entirely, the comforting weight and warmth of Sherlock there better than any sleep aid he'd ever known before.
He dreamed of Mary, and Sherlock, and even Mycroft. He dreamed of smiles and laughter and no cane in sight. He dreamed of being whole.
Chapter 27: I Should Be Thanking You
John was staring at his ties and frowning. It had been so long since he'd even considered a date, and now he wasn't sure just what to do. It was moments like this that he wished he and Sherlock were closer in size - then he'd at least be able to beg off a posh suit, or nice shirt. He sighed, grabbing three different ties and limping carefully out of his room.
He made it back to the sitting room without any trouble other than the normal ache in his muscles and a limp he refused to acknowledge. It was all temporary. Before long he'd be just fine. He had to believe that.
Sherlock wasn't in the sitting room, and John frowned, listening for a moment. Quiet generally did not bring about glad tidings here at Baker Street. He didn't hear anything in the flat.
He was met with silence.
John could feel his heart rate picking up, his breathing going shallow and fast and he squeezed his eyes shut, no no no, I refuse to have a panic attack, Sherlock is fine, he's absolutely fine, you're acting ridiculous Watson. He opened his eyes, closing his mouth and forcing himself to breathe through his nose.
"Sherlock?" He raised his voice a bit, turning around so that it projected better.
Which was when he heard the crash from downstairs.
He raced down them as fast as he could, almost falling twice and swearing rather creatively when he actually did fall on the small landing. "Sherlock?"
He was pulling himself back onto his feet when he felt two hands gripping his arm, helping him, steadying him. He looked up.
Sherlock was staring back at him, eyes wide and looking much brighter than usual. They also seemed to be trying for innocence, which might have worked were it not for two unavoidable facts: One, this was Sherlock, and John knew that trouble didn't just find him, it had a direct link to GPS tracking; and Two, Sherlock's face was covered with a truly impressive amount of soot.
John winced as he straightened, his eyes never coming off of Sherlock's face. "Thanks." He gave Sherlock a small grimace. "Think you've... got something, on your face."
Sherlock glanced away for a moment. "Oh, it's... I'm fine."
John nodded slowly, looking over the rest of him. There was an awful lot of soot on his shoulders and arms and chest as well, though it was much lighter on his legs. "What did you do?"
Sherlock crossed his arms and huffed. "Mrs. Hudson isn't mad at me."
"Didn't ask if she was."
Sherlock glared at the stairs he stood on. "I just... I wanted to see..."
John covered his mouth with his hand, which had the benefit of making him look a bit more serious as he tried desperately not to burst in giggles. "You..." He cleared his throat, trying for an authoritative tone. "You were in her fireplace again, weren't you?"
Sherlock's lips twisted into a scowl, and John averted his eyes for a moment.
"I just wanted to know if I could see the birds."
John nodded. "Ah, she's got birds in there again?"
Sherlock nodded once. "And they were chirping. It was so loud, John, and Mrs. Hudson isn't angry with me so you shouldn't be either."
John pursed his lips as he lowered his hand, his arms not quite crossed over his chest. "Right. So..." He licked his lips, taking in Sherlock's appearance again. "What made the noise?"
Sherlock's ears went a very bright shade of red, and John fought to keep a straight face.
"I... I may have over-trusted just... how much room there was..."
John snorted, then quickly bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from more. "You climbed into the fireplace?"
"I wanted a better view."
"But you didn't get a better view, did you?"
Sherlock sulked. "No..."
"What did you get instead?"
Sherlock hunched in on himself a bit, arms pulling at his shirt just under his armpits. "A bit of a headache."
John nodded. "You smacked your head. In the fireplace."
"I may also have been... chased..."
John's hands came up to cover his face entirely. His shoulders were shaking with silent laughter, and there was nothing he could do about it. "You smacked your head. And... got chased?"
Sherlock was speaking through gritted teeth now. "The... commotion, may have inadvertently... startled one of the birds..."
Just then, John heard Mrs. Hudson walking into the hallway. "Sherlock, it was just a little sparrow, and he's flown out the window now, it's safe, I don't -" She stopped as John looked at her, red faced and biting his lips while smiling, tears in his eyes as Sherlock turned to look at her. She looked at them both before letting a small smile slip onto her lips. "Oh, John. You look very nice."
John beamed at her. "Thank-you. I..." He looked over at Sherlock, who had his lower lip stuck out petulantly and his gaze on the floor. "I was just coming to see if Sherlock might help me pick a tie."
Without moving his head Sherlock replied. "The black one."
John nodded. "Alright then. Thank-you, Sherlock." John glanced over at Mrs. Hudson, who was hugging herself 'round her middle. "You should probably go see about helping to clean up. And take a paracetamol, please."
Sherlock made an unhappy noise. "Fine." He looked up then, staring at Mrs. Hudson. "I..." He swallowed. "I am... sorry..." His voice had gone soft, and Mrs. Hudson opened her arms. Sherlock took the stairs quickly, folding himself into her embrace. John began to move forward, but Mrs. Hudson gave him a stern look and glanced at his clothes. He sighed, nodded, and headed back upstairs.
As he was picking up his ties, he heard the front door open.
"Mrs. Hudson, how good to see you..."
John snickered as he heard Mycroft's voice fade away, no doubt in response to the state of his brother's appearance.
It was quiet a moment, then Sherlock spoke. "Birds like quiet chimneys." Sherlock's explanation was followed by the sound of his footsteps retreating back into Mrs. Hudson's flat, and John shook his head.
He was just finishing up with his tie when Mycroft stepped into the sitting room, giving him an appraising look. "Angelo's, I presume?"
John frowned. "One day I'm going to stop feeling weird that you can tell by my clothes what restaurant I haven't eaten in yet tonight."
Mycroft gave him an elegant one-shouldered shrug, walking over to John's chair. "May I?" John gestured for him to sit, and Mycroft nodded. "Might I recommend their filet mignon?"
John's frown intensified, disbelief clouding his expression. "You've never eaten there."
Mycroft regarded him blandly, and John shook his head, settling on the edge of the couch. "So, what can I do for you, Mycroft?"
"How are you, John?"
John licked his lips. "Fine. You?"
Mycroft smiled. "I am quite well, thank-you for asking. I see you're not using your cane."
John shook his head. "No, I'm fine without it."
Mycroft quirked an eyebrow. "Is that so? Good. That's good news. How is your therapy going?"
"Physical? Fine. Walking better than I have in months." John narrowed his eyes. "Really, what are you here for?"
"I cannot simply be coming by to see my brother and his caregiver?"
John made a very undignified sound. "Look, I know... you were there, at the hospital. You were there a lot. And I don't think I ever got to properly thank you, so, thank-you. It meant a lot to me. And a lot more to Sherlock." John took a deep breath. "But... I'm fine now. I'm mobile, I... I can do... whatever needs doing, and Sherlock is fine too, and..." He looked down, his hands clasped in front of him. "We're fine."
He looked up to see Mycroft reach into his suit jacket and produce a manila folder. John shook his head vehemently. "No. Absolutely not."
Mycroft smiled indulgently. "Humor me, John. Just open it. Look at the first page."
John took the folder gingerly, as though just by touching it, he might end up signing away his role in Sherlock's life. He held it in front of him for several moments, then jerked it open quickly. Like a bandage, the faster it's done the faster it stops hurting.
He stared at the paper, eyes roving until they came upon his name. He looked at it, his chest feeling tight, too tight, there wasn't enough air...
Then he saw the words, "trust fund," and the name, "Sherlock Holmes."
"Wait..." He stared at it all again, then raised his eyes to Mycroft. "This..."
Mycroft watched him, waiting for him to finish his sentence.
Mycroft's eyebrows raised.
"Mycroft, I... I don't want this, I..." John swallowed the lump in his throat, which he was fairly certain had been his stomach's valiant escape attempt. He was light headed and the room was spinning, and the only thing he could look at without falling to the floor was Mycroft's face.
They were quiet for a moment. Mycroft broke the silence. "I am certain it has not escaped your notice that there is a substantial amount of money in Sherlock's trust fund."
It had escaped John's notice. Or perhaps it hadn't, perhaps he'd noticed it and that was when the world had turned sideways. He wasn't sure as his eyes locked on the figures again.
"I..." He squeezed his eyes shut. "I can't accept this."
"Why ever not?
John took a long, slow breath. "I just can't."
"It is not charity, John." Mycroft spat the word at him as though it were a disgusting phrase picked up from the wrong side of town. "It is Sherlock's, and as Sherlock was never particularly interested in it before, it now falls to you."
John shook his head. "I'll get-"
"A job? John, you have one."
John frowned. "I... I what?"
Mycroft looked like a cat who'd eaten not only the canary, but the cream as well, with no way for anyone to ever prove it. John wondered if, "smug," was simply his natural, default setting. It suited him all too well.
"Did Cherise tell you I was... footing the bill, so to speak?" John bit his lip and said nothing, but there was no point. Mycroft knew his wife well. "Of course she did. I told her to, should you ever become... concerned."
"Why? What have you... but... how then?" John looked around. "How is..."
"I was unable to care for my brother after... well, you know, of course." John nodded. "And due to my own inability to provide the care my brother needed, I... hired someone to do it."
John's mouth twisted. "He... had me sign... but that..."
"Of course he did, John. Which simply worked well to my advantage. There would be no interviews, no vetting of potential candidates. I wouldn't even have to ask you to come in for anything. Your own natural instincts and affections would slide you seamlessly from being his part-time caretaker into full-time caregiver. And a legally binding contract allowed me to simply set everything up without having to go through the motions of finding someone."
Mycroft trolled the stem of his umbrella between the fingers of his right hand, watching the handle bounce back and forth. "To tell you the truth, you have saved me quite a lot of tedious paperwork. I should be thanking you."
John looked at the floor, head in his hands, mouth wide open as he tried for the second time that night not to have a panic attack.
"You used me." His words were barely a whisper.
"I used the situation, John."
John looked up. "No. You used me."
Mycroft watched him, face careful and blank.
"I... I never had a choice, you never even asked me, you just... you assumed."
"Were my beliefs incorrect, John?"
"That's not the point."
Mycroft watched him for a moment, then nodded. "Of course. My apologies." Mycroft looked back down at his umbrella. "I..."
John could have smiled at the uncertainty in Mycroft's voice then. It was not something he was ever likely to hear again.
"I forgive you."
Mycroft looked startled. John shrugged. "No going back, right? And you weren't wrong. I want to be this... person, for Sherlock. I want to be the one who's there for him. Who... takes care of him." John stood up. "But if you ever - ever - make these sorts of decisions about my life without consulting me first again, there will be..." John stared down at Mycroft. "...repercussions."
Mycroft stared at him, nodding once.
"Now hand me a pen so I can sign this. And then see yourself out. I've got a date at Angelo's."
Don't hate me for the lack of updates. I... Life. Life and reasons.
Long Story (not-so) Short: Good friend lost his dad to cancer, end of June. Trigger warning! Ricechex lost her dad to cancer less than 2 years ago. Not good. More than a bit. And then before I know it I'm like, "Oh JFC how am I supposed to write any of this story when all I wanna do is curl up and forget I exist?" And then 4th of July and then my nephew's birthday and a dress fitting for The Consulting 5-Year-Old, who's going to be a flower girl in my brother-in-law's wedding and seriously I am just spread thin. Plus, finished, "The Minor Fall," which... yeah, there was a bit of postpartum going on (IvyBlossom tried to warn me, she did) and all in all it has been busy busy BUSY here at Casa de Ricechex, And as you can see, while Chapter 26 was kinda short, Chapter 27 here made up for that (I HOPE!).
So, TL;DR: Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next.
I think I'm coming back to basking in the sunlight now, though. DFTBA my darlings. You are all amazing, and I love you.
Chapter 28: Control Of Your Own Life
At seven minutes to seven, the doorbell chimed, and John carefully made his way to the door. He opened it, beaming as Mary stepped in.
"Oh." He looked her over, his eyes wide as they settled on her face. "You... look..." He took a deep breath. "Amazing. Wow."
Mary blushed and grinned. "You look rather nice yourself, John. That shirt... the color suits you."
John looked down at himself, then back at Mary. "It... Sherlock picked it out." He shrugged and gave her a sheepish smile. "He's amazingly resourceful on colors. Not sure how but, well..." He trailed off as he heard the door to Mrs. Hudson's flat open.
"Oh, John, Mary, don't the two of you look a sight!" Mrs. Hudson clasped her hands together, delighted at the image of them in front of her. She strode over and gave Mary a careful hug. "It's lovely to see you outside of that dreadful hospital, Mary."
"You too, Mrs. Hudson. How's your hip?"
Mrs. Hudson gave her a half shrug. "Oh not getting any better, but not really getting any worse at the moment, so I suppose I can't complain." She grinned, turning to John and laying her palm against his cheek. "You take good care of this one, John Hamish."
"I'll do my best." John smiled at her. She nodded at them both.
"Good. You run along, I'd better go check on Sherlock. He's far too quiet right now..." She turned and scurried back to her flat.
"So." John turned to Mary again, staring at her in a kind of wonder. "Angelo's isn't far, maybe a five minute walk, if-"
The sound of a camera's shutter and the tremendously bright flash cut him off. He blinked furiously, trying to see anything. He turned to see Sherlock standing there, one of his many cameras in hand. He lowered it, looking at the screen and nodding before looking back up.
He was still covered in soot.
He smiled widely at Mary and John before turning and striding back into Mrs. Hudson's flat without saying a word.
John grimaced. "I... I swear, there's... a very good explanation for all... the... soot..." He gave Mary an apologetic look.
She stared at him in shock for a moment, then burst out laughing.
He stared at her for a moment, completely shocked by her reaction, then joined in.
"Oh, John, that... that was..."
"Yeah." John nodded. "He... well, he's Sherlock, so..."
Mary took several deep breaths, still grinning at him. "Alright. Dinner?"
John beamed. "Starving."
She linked her arm in his, he placed his other hand over hers where it sat on his arm, and they stepped out of 221B.
The evening air was pleasant, the sidewalks not terribly crowded, and John found the company to be perfect. He and Mary talked about minor, unimportant things - the weather, the coming rugby season - small talk. It was easy, so easy, to simply allow himself this one moment, this simple moment where he could pretend he was just some bloke out with a pretty girl, instead of John Watson, best-friend-cum-caretaker of one Sherlock Holmes. The freedom in that was astounding.
They arrived at Angelo's and Billy showed them to their table - the same one John and Sherlock had always shared. John pushed in Mary's chair for her, and thanked Billy.
"This is rather lovely." Mary was looking around at the cozy little restaurant. John smiled.
"Yeah, Sherlock, the day after we met, he... he was on a case, and we came here for a..." John ducked his head. "I'm sorry, you probably don't really want to hear about all that."
Mary looked at him across the table and tilted her head. "Actually... I've read your blog."
John looked up, surprised. "You... you've what now?"
Mary giggled. "Oh don't be so surprised." She licked her lips delicately. "You're rather good at writing up the cases. They're... fascinating."
John flushed and gave her a lopsided smile. "You... well, I... thank you. Sherlock hated them. Too much romanticism, he claimed."
"But that's what hooks people."
John nodded. "Well, try telling him that and he'll just say he doesn't understand why people aren't more interested in the facts." He shook his head. "He can be downright insufferable about that, really."
At that moment, Angelo made an appearance. "John! So good to see you, my friend!"
John stood up quickly and shook Angelo's hand. "Angelo, always a pleasure. This..." John held out his hand toward Mary. "...is Mary Morstan. Mary, this is-"
"Mary, Mary, such a lovely name, my dear!" Angelo took her hand and placed a gentle kiss on its backside. "I'm Angelo, and I am very happy to meet you. If there is anything you need - anything at all - you let Billy there know and he'll tell me straight away."
Mary beamed. "Thank you, Angelo. It's lovely to meet you."
Angelo patted her hand affectionately. "You've a good man, here. One of the best, I'd wager."
John grabbed his water glass and sipped it, trying to stop the heat coursing over every inch of his skin.
Mary looked over at him and smiled softly. "Yes, I'd have to say I agree."
John nearly choked on his water, which did absolutely nothing for what he was certain was, by now, a rather impressive blush covering his face.
"I'll get a candle for the table." Angelo let go of Mary's hand with one final kiss, then sauntered off.
"Sorry, he's..." John looked after Angelo with a fond but slightly exasperated expression. "He's Italian, or at least, that's the excuse he gave me once."
Mary nodded, still smiling, and picked up her menu. "So tell me, what would you recommend?"
A few minutes later, Angelo returned with their candle and fresh breadsticks, took their order, and kissed Mary's hand one more time before declaring that he would personally oversee the preparation of their dinner. John just nodded as often as possible, knowing it was best not to attempt to dissuade him.
Angelo clapped him on the shoulder, and John grit his teeth under the pressure and strain. "You take good care of her, John. She is not like anyone else."
John managed a brief smile. "I know. I will."
Then Angelo was off, calling to his cooks and attracting attention. John closed his eyes and let out a long breath.
"He... is something else, isn't he?"
John opened his eyes and looked at Mary, who was staring at him intently. "That is definitely one way of describing Angelo." He moved his shoulder a bit, feeling out the aches everywhere. "He's a decent bloke, though. Absolutely adores Sherlock, would do anything for him."
Mary picked up her water and took a sip. She nodded. "Sherlock seems to attract those sorts of people."
John frowned. "What... decent people?"
Mary grinned. "People who would do anything for him."
John looked down. "Oh." He sighed. "Yeah, he does."
"So do you, John."
John looked startled. "I... what? No... no, I... I just..." He closed his mouth and sat, considering everything as Mary waited for him to come to that conclusion. "Oh." He leaned back, letting his head touch the window behind him. "Oh, I... I never really..."
He felt Mary's fingers on his hand, and looked down at the table where their fingers touched. He turned his hand over and grasped hers.
"Mycroft - Sherlock's brother - he..." John closed his eyes again, certain he could not talk about this while looking at Mary. "He signed over... everything. Sherlock has a trust fund - of course he does, just look at him, he's too posh not to have one - and... Apparently, Mycroft... hired me, to take care of Sherlock. But he never said, he never..." John reflexively squeezed Mary's hand, and she squeezed back. "And I could just... I don't want his charity, I thought... I thought it was all coming from his pocket, and I was going to get a job and pay him back every damn penny he put out, and now I find out that really it was..."
John shook his head. "I didn't want that."
"Would you have accepted the position?"
John sighed, then shook his head. "No, I'd... I'd have railed against the idea of Mycroft Holmes handing me anything."
"Even though he wasn't really handing you money? You've earned it, haven't you? Taken care of Sherlock all this time?"
John groaned softly. "I... I really can't argue that."
"And had he asked, and you declined, do you think that you and Sherlock would have suffered for it?"
John opened his eyes. Mary was looking at him earnestly. He nodded slowly. "Yeah, we... we might have. Probably would have done."
"I'm not saying what he did was right, John."
"No, but..." John grimaced. "What he did, he did with thoughts of his brother's wellbeing. And I can't fault him there."
Mary nodded. "Financial security of any kind is not something most people would have, in your position."
John nodded. "I know. And... Christ, I sound like such an ungrateful tit. I am thankful for it, I really, truly am. And it's not like I haven't forgiven him for it. I know he wants the best for Sherlock, and for some reason he thinks that's me. I just... I..."
"You want control of your own life."
John shivered a little. "Exactly."
Mary squeezed his hand this time, and he squeezed back. Their dinner arrived moments later, and John wondered how he'd never been able to admit just exactly what had been bothering him until Mary walked into his life.
Chapter 29: This Could Work
John woke up with the distinct feeling of being a hot dog pressed between two very warm sides of a bun.
He opened his eyes to see red hair fanned out in front of him, and his brain was trying to process the idea that Sherlock had somehow dyed it when he felt an arm around his waist tighten.
"Mary's still sleeping."
Sherlock's voice behind him was low, and he shifted minutely to be able to look behind him. Sherlock looked as awake as he ever did. John's head turned back and he realized...
Mary. Mary was here. In his bed. Mary was curled up in front of him, her back pressed against his front. She was sleeping, breath even and deep and comforting. It was still something of a shock, seeing her there.
"Sherlock." John turned his head back to stare at the man behind him. "What are you doing in here?"
Sherlock shrank down a bit, as though trying to hide himself. "I... I had a nightmare. Mary told me... She said it was OK, she said-"
John nodded, cutting Sherlock off. "Yes, yes, it's fine... I'm just... tired still. Sorry." He slumped back down, head burying itself halfway into the pillow as he tried to remember everything about last night.
It had been his and Mary's third, "proper," date. They'd gone to a movie, and afterwards come back to 221B. John had opened a bottle of wine...
He frowned, the chanced a peek under the duvet. He was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of thin pajama bottoms. Mary was wearing a camisole and a pair of shorts.
He sighed, relieved. Well at least Sherlock hadn't come in when they'd been...
Mary shifted, rolling over and blinking. She smiled lazily at John. "Morning."
He grinned. "Morning to you." Then he canted his head backwards. "You should say good morning, Sherlock."
There was a mumbled greeting from John's back, and Mary laughed quietly. "Good morning, Sherlock. Feeling better?"
John nuzzled his nose into Mary's cheek. "So. Nightmare, was it?"
Mary looked at him out of the corner of her eye. "I think he just... missed you."
John sighed. Over the last few weeks, life had become a balancing act he wasn't entirely certain he was ready for, but I'll be damned if I give up either one of them, and some days it felt perfect and right and natural, and other days it felt like his every step was wrong, even though neither Mary nor Sherlock complained.
That was always the worst of it, really. The quiet acceptance of his short comings. The smiles and head shakes and murmurings of No, it's fine, don't worry about it, next time.
It was days like that which made mornings like this something special, something to hold onto for the rest of his life.
He stretched his legs out a bit, groaning in relief. "God, I could go for some coffee."
"Sounds lovely." Mary leaned over, kissed his cheek, then sat up, stretching her arms over her head as she got out of bed. "Be a dear and make us some. I need a shower."
John laughed, letting his hands rest on Sherlock's for a moment. "Come on then. What do you want for breakfast?"
Sherlock hummed thoughtfully. "Pancakes."
John nodded. "Right. Let's get to it then."
They made their way downstairs, and Sherlock walked straight into his room to grab his blue housecoat. John started the coffee, and then grabbed the ingredients for pancakes. "Why don't you play something for me?"
Sherlock frowned. "I'm not that good yet."
John smiled at him. "Humor me? I don't care how good it is. I just want to hear what you've been doing at those classes you've been taking. Mycroft was impressed." John gave him a mock-hurt expression. "How come he gets to hear you play?"
Sherlock tried to look indignant, but it gave way rather quickly to a smile. "Alright."
He stepped through the kitchen and into the living room as Mary walked in, towel and robe in hand. She kissed John once more, then strode into the bathroom. A moment later, the shower started, and John grinned at the eggs he was cracking into the mixing bowl.
A few moments later, just as he was heating the griddle and double checking the pancake batter, the soft sounds of a musical scale wafted through the open doorway. He closed his eyes as he listened to Sherlock drawing his bow across the violin's strings for the first time since...
He wiped at his face. It wasn't Bach, or Vivaldi, or Tchaikovsky. But it was definitely the most beautiful sound in the world, right then.
He set to work pouring the batter out, just the way his mum had shown him when he was little, a Watson Family Sunday Morning Tradition he was happy to be able to put to use finally. Sunday mornings in the Watson household had been good, once. Before his dad was laid off, and took up drinking like it was his next paying job. Before his sister had been Harry, back when she was Harriet, back when they'd gotten along and had cared about each other more than anyone else in the world. Before his mum had been in that accident, the one that put her in a wooden box six feet deep.
The music cut off suddenly, and John looked 'round to see Sherlock staring at him.
John swiped at his face - he was indeed. "It's... it's nothing, Sherlock. Don't worry."
John licked his lips. "No, I'm actually quite happy. It's the sad memories that make me realize how lucky I am right now."
Sherlock stepped closer, fidgeting a bit. John set the mixing bowl down, then held out his arms.
Sherlock was in them within a moment, clinging tightly.
"I don't want you to be sad."
"Everyone's sad, sometimes."
"But I don't want you to be."
"I know." John rubbed little circles on his back. "If it helps, your music makes me very happy."
Sherlock pulled away a bit, smiling shyly. "Then I'll play for you. Every day."
John smiled and let a hand come up to Sherlock's cheek, his thumb brushing over the almost comically pronounced bone there. "Only if you want to."
Sherlock nodded, then stepped away. He raced back to his violin, picking it up and grabbing his bow. He cocked his head, nodded to himself, and got into position.
The sound was lovely, and not something John recalled. It was simple but beautiful, and was definitely something Sherlock would have deemed beneath his use before. But now, it was perfect.
Mary stepped out of the bathroom as John was dishing up a large stack of pancakes, towel wrapped around her head to keep her hair out of her face and bathrobe pulled tightly around her. "Oh, John, that smells divine."
He grinned as she made her way through. "There's coffee, too."
"You're a saint." She winked at him, then paused between the kitchen and the living room, watching Sherlock. When he finished the piece, she clapped. "That was lovely."
Sherlock blushed and mumbled his thanks, looking quite chuffed. Mary grinned, then went upstairs to get dressed.
Sherlock placed his violin back in it's case, carefully making sure everything was just so. He flopped into a chair at the table and pulled the plate of pancakes closer. John handed him butter and syrup, and he smiled as he set about fixing them precisely as he liked them. John readied another plate, and a cup of coffee, and set them out before turning back to ready his own plate.
A moment later, Mary had joined them, her hair brushed and pulled back, wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans. They ate quietly, John getting up every few minutes to check on the pancakes still cooking, and flip them as needed.
Sherlock ended up having a second large helping, which made John extremely happy. He'd lost a bit of weight after John's time in the hospital, so seeing him regain his appetite was rather pleasing.
Mary giggled as Sherlock tried stuff what John would have described as an astronomically absurd helping into his mouth, and Sherlock had to chew very, very carefully as John chided him and tried not to laugh too much. Sherlock was, of course, entirely unrepentant.
When breakfast was finished, Mary insisted on doing the washing up, and John argued only a little before he finally gave in and went to grab their paper. Headlines were rather boring, but the crossword was always something he could find enjoyment from.
His phone chimed just as he stepped back into the sitting room, and he wandered over to find it sitting on the desk next to his laptop.
[Domesticity suits you all, John. -MH]
John shook his head. [You're welcome to join us next Sunday morning. -JW]
He waited, thinking that the reply would come fast. It didn't, and he shrugged, bringing it with him to the couch. He settled in with a pencil, ready to have Sherlock - or possibly Mary, even - telling him every answer. His phone chimed before he'd even finished reading the first clue.
[I can't tell you how touched I am by that invitation, John. I do sincerely appreciate it. I may even take you up on it. Are you free? I'd like to talk for a moment. -MH]
John looked around. Sherlock was detailing to Mary his recent findings on the effectiveness of dish soaps in conjuncture with their relative viscosities and concentration of natural agents. He sighed softly, then stepped out and went downstairs.
Once he was outside, he pressed the call button.
"John, how good to hear from you."
John snorted. "You asked me to call, I'm calling. What can I do for you?"
Mycroft was quiet a moment, and John pulled the phone away from his ear to check that he hadn't dropped the call somehow.
"I wanted to thank you."
"For... allowing me the chance to continue being a presence in Sherlock's life."
"I... what? Why wouldn't you, I... Mycroft..."
"I was... concerned, at one point. You had made... suggestions, that if I didn't back down-"
"No, hang on, that's not, no. You were... you were trying to get me to sign paperwork that took me out of Sherlock's life!" John grit his teeth and tried not to yell. "I was angry and defensive-"
"And not once were you even the least bit tempted, were you?"
John took a deep breath. "Of course I was. But only the least bit. Sherlock... he's special. He's worth every ounce of aggravation."
"He looks to you as though you are God, John."
John licked his lips. "Well... I'm practically his parent, these days. What's the saying? 'Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children,' or something like that?"
"Indeed. And his faith in you is exactly that - he has faith like a child in everything that you are, John Watson."
John was silent as the words sunk in. "Do you think... Mycroft, can I do this? Really?"
There was quiet on the line for several moments as John waited for a reply.
"I believe, John, that you are capable of anything. You've proven as such in the time since Sherlock's fall-" And there it was, the one thing John had avoided naming as much as possible, though it made no real difference. And now that Mycroft had said it, John realized it no longer carried the weight it had held once. "-and were I not one hundred percent certain of you before that... well. No need to think on that."
John nodded in silent agreement.
"I hope you don't mind, but I'll be by this evening. I have a few more papers I would like you to sign."
John's eyes went wide. "What?"
Mycroft chuckled. "Really, John, are you so surprised? You have rights to obtain medical and legal assistance in Sherlock's name, and you have access to his trust fund. The only thing left, really, is to sign over full guardianship of my brother."
"Because you are his guardian, John, do keep up. There is, of course, one small proviso."
"I still wish to be permitted a chance to spend time with my brother."
"You... you want visitation rights?"
John sniffled a bit and ran the back of his hand over his eyes. "Of course, you prat."
Mycroft laughed out loud this time. "Your use of such terms never fails to amuse. I'll be by at... shall we say seven tonight?"
"Yeah, sounds good. Come and stay for dinner. Bring Cherise, or the whole thing's off."
"You drive a hard bargain, Dr. Watson."
"Same, Mr. Holmes."
The line went dead, and John sighed. Full guardianship. Was he ready for this?
Before he could move, the doorbell rang. He heard Mrs. Hudson's door opening. "I'll get it, Mrs. Hudson!"
"Oh, John! Thank you!"
He opened the door to see DI Lestrade standing on the stoop.
"Oh, John, sorry, you're..." Lestrade took in John's appearance. "...not dressed."
"Come in." John stepped back, and Lestrade hurried in. "What's wrong?"
"Got a case I thought might interest you and Sherlock." He handed John a folder. "Locked door murders, four of 'em. And at each one, we found these." Lestrade plucked several photos from the folder. John looked at them. In each, there was a ripped-off corner of a playing card: A, 2, 3. "We found the fourth one this morning." He pulled out his phone and scrolled to a picture. A ripped 4 was on the floor near the body.
Lestrade gave a half-shrug. "Looks like. But I was hoping..."
John nodded. "Yeah, course. Let me get dressed. Text me the address."
Lestrade nearly bowed. "Thank you."
John let him out, then smiled.
"Sherlock! We've got a case!"
His life was mad, hectic, dangerous, and certainly not what he'd ever expected.
But he could have this. He could have all of this. And he could make it work.
Chapter 30: Bonus Chapter: Waking After The Fall
A/N: This was, originally, going to be part of the second chapter, until I realized it really didn't fit with what I was writing. However, I rather liked the little glimps into Sherlock's first moments after waking up in the hospital, and his reaction to John. So, enjoy!
Eyes opened in a strange room. There was too much white, too much clean, too much everything. Arms fought against the restraints on the bed.
"Hey, easy now."
The eyes turned, taking the head with them. A man sat there - sandy blonde hair mixed with almost equal parts grey. Bright blue eyes that were red-rimmed, face that was worn, weathered. This man - this face - had been through horrors. Black jacket, blue jeans - everything on him said he'd been sleeping in the chair he was in right now. One hand reached out - slowly, so slowly - and grasped one of the restrained hands. There were tubes in it - why were there tubes in it?
"Do you remember... uh, your name?" The man's voice was kind, and his hand was gentle when it grasped the restrained hand but rough in texture, like he'd been working with his hands part of his life.
The eyes closed again. The head holding them nodded carefully.
"Good. That's good. Can you tell me what it is?" The head thought for a moment, mouth twisting in thought. The other hand tried to move up, to point at the body, but it didn't go far. Frustration, anger, a growl in the throat. Interesting.
"It's OK, hey, don't worry about it. Can you look at me?" The eyes opened and the head turned and the man was there still, smiling now, comforting and helpful and that smile, that smile was home, the head knew somehow that this man was good and kind and honorable and the head knew there was nothing to fear in this man.
"Sherlock." The mouth opened and the voice worked and he felt a sudden sense of himself settle over his whole being as he said his own name. "Sherlock Holmes."
The man's smile was wider now, proud and excited and Sherlock knew that this man was home and comfort and real and he smiled.
"Do you remember my name?" The man watched him. Sherlock nodded.
"John. John Watson. You're..." He stopped, unsure of whether or not he should say this. Caring is not an advantage. He didn't know why he knew this but he knew it must be true, because the voice in his head was always right. He swallowed and looked away.
"Sherlock? What's wrong?" Sherlock shook his head carefully. "It's Ok. You're right, I'm John. That's good. Rest now." Sherlock closes his eyes.
"You're my friend." His whisper carries enough that John hears him, and squeezes his hand slightly.
"Yeah, Sherlock. I'm your friend. And I always will be. Go back to sleep now, rest for me." Sherlock doesn't fight it - he drifts off quickly, his breathing evening out and his heartbeat slowing a bit.
And even though he can't see it and will never know it, John Watson, his friend, sits next to his hospital bed and cries.
John woke several hours later to see Sherlock staring at him. He smiled.
"How are you, Sherlock?"
Sherlock takes a deep breath and blinks. "Fine."
John can feel it, he would swear he can literally feel his heart shattering in his chest, the pain so real he's sure that any moment he'll drop to the floor and then his best friend will have to watch him die like he watched Sherlock and I can't have that, can't take it, so he looks away for a moment and takes several deep breaths, staring at the monitors that Sherlock is hooked up to.
John looks at Sherlock, and he's not sure when he stood up from the chair, that damned uncomfortable chair, but he's up and he's checking Sherlock over before he realizes it. Sherlock lets him, watches him calmly, serenely even, and John gives him a small, reassuring smile.
"I'm worried about you."
Sherlock tilts his head. "What happened?"
John takes a deep breath. "You... don't remember that?"
Sherlock frowns, shakes his head. "No. I..." His frown deepens, his nose crinkles, and John can almost hear the gears turning without oil. "I remember you." Sherlock looks back at him, still frustrated. "I remember that you're my friend."
John nods but stays quiet.
"We... we live in London..." Sherlock swallows, looking momentarily panicked. "John, I... I can't... Why don't I remember, I don't understand, I..."
John reaches out and Sherlock grabs his hand immediately. John squeezes once, leaving his hand exactly where it is. "Don't worry, Sherlock. It's alright."
It was anything but alright. But John had known this was a possibility. The fact that Sherlock remembered his own name was a miracle, let alone that he remembered John's name, and their friendship, and London...
"There was..." Sherlock's voice was soft, far away. "There was a man. He..." Sherlock looked at John, tears forming in his eyes. "He wanted to hurt you."
"I'm fine, Sherlock." John held out his free hand, gesturing to himself. "See? I'm fine. He didn't hurt me. He didn't..."
"It was a game. He said it was a game."
"He didn't win."
Sherlock sighed, settling back against the pillows. "I want to go home, John."
John swallowed against the lump that formed in his throat at hearing Sherlock sound so broken. "I know." He forced his lips into another smile, or the closest thing he could manage. "Soon, I promise. Alright?"
Sherlock nodded. "You... will you stay?"
John pulled the chair a bit closer, settling back into it and nodding. "Until the ends of the earth, Sherlock. I'll be here for you. Always."
Sherlock took a deep breath, closing his eyes. "I'm tired, John."
"Then sleep, Sherlock."
Sherlock closed his eyes, and within minutes, he was asleep again.
It started slowly - a trembling lower lip, a soft, shuddering breath. But before John knew it, he was in the bathroom attached to Sherlock's room, heaving and sobbing.
Surely, he thought, The Great Sherlock Holmes was meant for better than this.
Chapter 31: Bonus Chapter: Colossus
A/N: This one actually does have a visual that goes with it/inspired it. It's a .gif of Mark Gatiss on a little rocking horse thing at a playground, looking rather put out. All in all, it's one of the most adorable things ever, and all I could think was, "OH. Sherlock and John need to go to an amusement park..." So here's Sherlock, very excited about something that rather does not thrill John and Mycroft. Mary, however, thinks it's brilliant.
Image is here.
"John." Sherlock's voice was excited. John turned to him, looking for whatever had caught his fancy. Then he saw it.
"Oh god, Sherlock…" John stared at the roller coaster, appropriately named Colossus. "Sherlock… Are you sure you want to ride that one?"
But Sherlock wasn't listening. He grabbed John's hand and started running towards the line. John could hear Mary behind him laughing. He threw her a pleading look and she grinned, jogging to catch up.
"This is going to be incredible, John!" Sherlock bounced in place, smiling at John and Mary.
"Yeah." John watched the people getting off the ride, many of them looking a bit green and stumbling slightly. "Wonderful."
"Don't worry, John." Mary's hand found his and she laid a peck on his cheek. John smiled at her and squeezed her hand in return. "You'll survive."
"Right. Of course I will." He glanced behind Mary and grinned. "You coming?"
Mycroft walked casually towards them. John was still unbelievably tickled by the sight of one Mycroft Holmes in a sedate polo shirt, khaki slacks, and pristine-looking white trainers. He seemed rather out of sorts without his typical suit and umbrella. "I don't suppose I could convince Sherlock that there's a matter of national importance and... escape this."
John shook his head. "Absolutely not. If I have to endure this, so do you."
Mycroft grimaced as he looked at the roller coaster, but sighed in resignation. "Very well."
Sherlock jabbered on and on about what he'd read on the subject of roller coasters, what he'd read about this one in particular, what he'd read about the other coasters in the park... John smiled and nodded at appropriate times, content for the moment to simply tune everything out and let Sherlock be Sherlock. After all, he'd conceded, he was about to get on the blasted thing - he really didn't want to think about just how high or how fast or how many times it would loop-the-loop.
Mycroft blanched a bit more each time Sherlock pointed something out, and John sent him an apologetic smile as he stepped back a bit to whisper to him. "I swear, no amusement park next time."
"It would be very much appreciated. How did it come up this time, though, that's what I'm curious about."
John flushed a bit. "He... he's been trying to learn about human reactions to... various stimuli. I told him we could... make a trip, somewhere, so he could observe. Told him to figure out what he wanted to see, and let me know where he wanted to go." John winced. "Told me he wanted to study adrenaline, and brought up the website for Thorpe Park here. I couldn't very well tell him no, after I'd told him to pick."
Mycroft nodded. "Parameters, John. Sherlock needs parameters."
John chuckled. "Yeah, I know. Trust me."
The line moved much faster than John had been anticipating, and then they were next. John looked - they were at the front.
"Oh my." Mycroft was looking at the seating arrangements. "I don't suppose I could convince you to sit in the second row, John?"
"It would be my absolute pleasure, Mycroft."
Mary snickered at them, and climbed into the front seat next to Sherlock, who beamed at her.
Mary smiled brightly. "Of course."
John felt a sharp pang straight through his heart, and looked down at his lap as the attendants came to check the harnesses.
"I dare say, John." Mycroft was to his left, directly behind Mary. "You couldn't have found a better partner."
John grinned. "Yeah. She's... amazing." But even that pales in comparison, because anyone who can put up with Sherlock the way she does is more than that.
Sherlock glanced behind him, still smiling. "Isn't it fascinating, Mycroft? You can hear the cars ahead of us screaming. Delightful!"
Mycroft looked as though he might be sick as he nodded meekly. "Yes. It's quite... well, it's... isn't it, John?"
"Oh yes, and more."
Then the car they were in started moving.
Chapter 32: Bonus Chapter: That's His Name
A/N: And the last bonus chapter, which I can admit made me cry as I was writing it. But it was the good kind of crying.
John hates hospitals.
Between him and Sherlock, he's been in almost all of them in the entirety of London at least twice, and after his last stay, he had been more than happy to spend as much time as he could away from them.
But today was very, very different.
Sherlock was ahead of him, running as fast as he could, and somehow not knocking into doctors and nurses. He was also yelling rather loudly at John to hurry up, which only irritated John. He was on edge, and Sherlock yelling at him was not helping.
"Sherlock, there's no fire, we-"
"Less talk, more run!"
John rolled his eyes, forcing smiles at the doctors and nurses who glared at them as they dashed through hallways and up stairs.
Finally they, stopped outside a door, seeing Mycroft standing there, with his phone in hand.
"Ah, Dr. Watson, I was just about to call and inquire as to your... whereabouts."
Mycroft waved a hand. "She's fine. Cherise is in with her." Mycroft cast an uncomfortable glance at the door. "I admit that I am... ill equipped... to deal with all of..." He fluttered his hands at the door. "This."
John grinned. "Yeah, I... I think I'm in the same boat."
Mycroft quirked an eyebrow at him. "I doubt very much that you would be allowed to leave at this juncture."
John nodded. "Mary might not appreciate that."
John took a deep breath, looking at Sherlock. "Do you..." He motioned to the door.
Sherlock licked his lips, eyes narrowing. "I... maybe after, I..." He winced, and John nodded.
"You and Mycroft should go get some food. Show him that Chinese place that Lestrade took you to."
Sherlock's face lit up as Mycroft grimaced, and Sherlock gave John a quick hug before grabbing his brother's arm. "Eggrolls?"
John nodded. "Maybe some for Mary too."
Sherlock nodded quickly. "Alright. You'll..."
John laughed. "I'll be fine! Go!"
Sherlock took a deep breath, leaning in and placing a soft kiss on John's forehead. "I love you very much, John."
John blushed. "I love you too, Sherlock."
And then the Holmes Boys were off, Mycroft making what sounded like pleading attempts to get out of eating anything like eggrolls and dim sum. Sherlock would have none of it, though. John knew that well enough.
He turned back to the door, taking another breath, then opening it up.
Mary was reclined in the bed, chatting with Cherise, who was holding her hand and stroking her hair back from her face at times. They were smiling, they were happy, and John felt something almost painful shoot through his entire body. He'd come to terms with his feelings for Sherlock; what they had been and what they'd become. He loved Sherlock more than nearly everyone else in the world.
But he loved Mary just as much. Perhaps a little bit more, even.
Mary looked at him, grinning. "Hey yourself. Thought you were going to wait outside, pacing and biting your nails all night."
John laughed, walking over to her. "How are you?" He leaned in and kissed her.
"Better now." She took his hand and squeezed.
John grabbed a chair and sat down. The three of them talked, Cherise cooing over them both, John blushing, and Mary laughing at him.
Sherlock and Mycroft came back just as Cherise was slipping out. The doctor was in with them now, and John held Mary's hand and whispered how much he loved her. She cried a bit, squeezed his hand tightly.
Before they knew it, the doctor was talking again. "Congratulations! It's a boy!"
Sherlock looked into the nursery, standing next to John.
John looked over at him. "What?"
Sherlock smiled. "Hamish." He looked over at John. "That's his name."
John licked his lips, nodding. "Yeah. I think you're right." He looked back at the tiny bundle in it's tiny bassinet. "You know... Mary and I, we're..." He looked at Sherlock. "We're going to need a lot of help. Mary's... going to be recovering for a while. And I'm..." John grimaced, scratching at the back of his neck. "I'm not nearly as young as I used to be."
They stood there again in absolute silence for several minutes, just watching the babies.
"Can I..." Sherlock took a soft breath. "Can I hold him?"
John beamed. "Of course you can. Come on." John lead the way to the nursery door.
The nurse that met them was smiling brightly. "Last name?"
"Watson." John lead Sherlock to a couple of rocking chairs set up in a small corner, waiting.
A moment later the nurse returned, carrying a tiny blue bundle. "Here you are."
John reached up and took the baby from her carefully. He looked at this a tiny face and knew that there was nothing he wouldn't do to keep it safe. "Hello, Hamish." His voice was soft. "Sherlock wants to say hello."
John looked over. "Ready?"
Sherlock nodded, and John reached over, helping to settle Hamish into Sherlock's arms. "Mind his head, remember."
Instead of a scathing retort or sarcasm, Sherlock only nodded again, tucking Hamish against his chest protectively. John sat there, watching the emotions as they flashed across Sherlock's face. Amazement, intrigue, curiosity, confusion, concern, protectiveness. Sherlock looked back at John.
John sniffled. "Yeah, he is. He takes after you, in that, you know."
Sherlock smiled softly, looking back at Hamish. "Hello, Hamish."
Hamish made a soft cooing sound, and Sherlock's eyes widened.
John grinned. "He likes you."
Sherlock settled back a bit more, starting up a gentle, slow rocking. Hamish yawned, his fist finding his mouth, and he sucked on his knuckles as he fell asleep in Sherlock's arms.
And John closed his eyes, letting the tears come.
John nodded. "Happy tears, Sherlock."
When he opened his eyes, Sherlock was watching Hamish again.
It was one of the most perfect moments in John's life.
Chapter 33: Afterword
If you're reading this, THANK-YOU.
It's always a gamble, writing a fic like this, and the fact that it was so well received is both incredibly humbling and immensely gratifying.
This one was inspired by a fic I was reading many, many years ago, that seems to have disappeared from the net these days. I don't remember the title nor the author, but it was set in the Angelfandom, and it revolved around the trials of Spike having to take care of Angel, who had somehow regressed back to a child-like innocence. Every chapter had a different flower as it's theme, and reading it was both heartbreaking and wonderful and all I could think was, "My god, this is beautiful."
And though I don't know who wrote it or what it's called anymore or even where I could find it now (it was on but no longer seems to be there), I still remember the thoughts and feelings that I had whilst reading it.
So one night, I was struck by the thought of, "What if... Sherlock jumped, and miscalculated? What if he did hit his head? What if the doctors bringing him into the hospital realized that he wasn't dead and rushed him into the emergency care, surgery, etc?"
My sister-in-law had to have emergency brain surgery, just before Christmas 2011. It was scary, it was terrifying, and she had to go through a lot of physical therapy to regain fine-motor-skills again, and even simple things like walking. Because when your brain is hurt, it does not screw around.
And let's face it - Sherlock Holmes, who's brain and eyes work at speeds most of us cannot comprehend at first - well, a brain injury would be rather bad, wouldn't it?
So I thought, make him child-like, like in that Angel story. And I feel badly for it because I love these characters and I want nothing but bunnies, and kittens holding lightsabers, and rainbows for them, but I feel proud of this story, because it's not the usual Post-reichenbach fare (which, I do really enjoy, so, not casting stones or anything).
My husband read the fist chapter and his comment was, "Wow, the elephant shampoo - mean. Ouch." And then he commented on how being a mom has given me interesting fic ideas.
So, without further ado, here are some completely uninteresting facts about things in this story that I feel compelled to tell you all. :D
1. The movie thing where Sherlock was upset about it ending while he was still awake? My 5-year-old did that a lot. I'd put a movie on for her, and she'd get up and change it out when it ended, and then she'd get in trouble because I'd see it when I went in to check on her.
2. The shampoo Sherlock gets (with the elephant) is the Suave Kids 3-in-1 that smells like apples, and it's one of my daughter's favorites.
3. Though I didn't name it, the movie I imagined Sherlock and John falling asleep to is Disney's Robin Hood - it was always one of my favorite movies as a kid.
4. I imagine that Sherlock can remember things like The Story of Sir Boast-A-Lot because of it's proximity to his jump from the roof, and the fact that when you look back at it, it's a cutesy little story that was only menacing because it was Moriarty telling it. So when Sherlock recounts it to John, John gives it an ending, making sure that it's happy because these days they need more happy.
5. The stuffed blue rabbit is not based on any stuffed animals in my or my daughter's collections. I feel compelled to change that and go find a big blue rabbit to sleep with at night, now...
6. The number and name of the therapist's office are real - I Googled therapists' offices, and Harley Therapies London is only 5 minutes from Baker Street.
7. I went ahead and took the liberty of making Mary a psychiatrist. I don't hate "The Morstan" - in fact, while I adore the whole John/Sherlock ship, I still appreciate other pairings when done well, and I don't see Mary as this horrible woman who must obviously die. So I decided to include her here.
8. I've fallen asleep sitting up on the couch with a kid sprawled over my legs/torso before. It's ridiculously uncomfortable. I cannot even begin to fathom how it would feel with a full grown adult male instead.
9. I cried when John and Sherlock were mugged. And trust me, there's nothing quite like trying to write whilst sobbing about how much you just want the boys to be OK.
Alright, 9 completely random and useless facts! Woo!
Also, I'd like to apologize for the length of time in which this didn't update. Life just loves doing that to me, it seems, and the ones who take the brunt of that are you lovely readers. So please, know that I was not trying to upset or frustrate anyone. Life just decided to throw a couple curveballs my way. Nothing serious, I promise. Just enough that I basically sat there going, "Well... crap."
Again, I thank you. You've been fantastic people to share this with, and to be honest, I rather love all of you. And because you're all so wonderful, I wrote you three, "bonus," chapters - future moments in their lives that didn't fit in this story, but really didn't strike me as needing their own separate stories. I hope you liked them! They were fun tid-bits.
And, who knows, in the future I may revisit this world, see how everyone's coping. It could be a lot of fun to see Hamish and Sherlock driving John up a wall. ;)
Until the next time I see you, my darlings, DFTBA, and always look on the sunny side of things. Because believe me, there's always a sunny side. Even if the clouds are too dark and dense to see it just now.