Not three minutes after Greg texts Sherlock details for a case, he gets the response:
Can’t. Dying. –SH
It’s enough to give Greg pause, because when Sherlock Holmes says he’s dying, one can’t dismiss it because who knows if he isn’t trying some ridiculous experiment?
He cuts out early to swing by Sherlock’s flat on Montague Street. It’s a rather crummy little place, which baffles Greg because Sherlock doesn’t have an issue with money. Unless he’s blown through the trust fund Greg knows he has on drugs. Come to think of it, he wouldn’t be surprised if Sherlock’s flat choice has to do with keeping his dealers close by. Not a happy thought, that.
He knocks once. Waits. Tries the door. It isn’t locked. Greg wonders if he’s going to find Sherlock in the throes of some experiment on death and dying. Hanging from the ceiling to see how long he can go without oxygen or something.
When he steps inside and calls out, “Sherlock?” he’s greeted with the most pitiful, raspy sound from the bedroom, “Dying.”
Greg finds Sherlock in bed, bundled beneath three blankets, surrounded by balled up bits of tissue. The lights are off, blinds drawn, so only the barest bit of waning sunlight peeks in through the slats. Greg stops in the doorway, hands on his hips. He surveys the scene for five seconds before he deduces, “You’re sick.”
“Not just sick,” Sherlock snaps in a nasally tone. “Dying. You will be the last person to see me alive.”
“That right? What an honor.” Greg doesn’t say there’ve been several times over the two years they’ve known each other wherein he was worried that statement would be true. But he’s pretty sure this time, Sherlock is suffering from a cold and not an overdose. “You taking anything? Medicine?”
“Medicine will not keep death at bay.”
“Oh, come off it.” He crosses the room, yanks back the blankets for a better look at Sherlock, and presses his hand to Sherlock’s forehead. “You’re not even running that much of a fever.”
Sherlock’s shadowy, red-rimmed eyes glare up at him. “You’re hardly a doctor, Lestrade.”
“And you’re hardly dying. Tell you what, I’ll run up the street and fetch you something.”
Greg gives him a look before retreating from the room, then the flat.
Courtesy of the store up the block, he returns with a sack full of cold medicine, and some food, because he’s seen the sorry state of Sherlock’s kitchen before. More body parts than anything edible. As he unloads the bag, Sherlock ventures out from his cave, all three blankets wrapped securely around him so he looks rather like a quilt monster is attempting to devour him whole. Greg tries not to grin at the sight of him, his dark hair more a mess than usual, and the sour look on his face as he huddles onto the sofa and watches Greg with something not unlike wariness.
“Cold medicine,” Greg explains, placing the boxes onto the coffee table. “Soup. Crackers.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Eat it anyway.”
“Hardly what I would request for my last meal.” He sniffs pitifully. Greg contemplates if yanking the bag over his head and suffocating him with it would classify as murder or charity.
He straightens and disappears into the kitchen with the remaining items. It takes some effort to find a clean glass that doesn’t look as though it’s been used for growing mold cultures. He returns with it filled, takes a seat beside Sherlock, and goes so far as to open one of the blister packs to offer him two gel capsules along with the drink. Sherlock eyes them like he expects they’re poisoned.
“What is it?”
“What do you mean, what is it? It’s lemonade.”
Sherlock wrinkles his nose.
“You’ll drink it and like it,” Greg says with strained patience. “Good for colds. S’a bit of honey in it, too. For your throat.”
“I don’t want it.”
The twist of Sherlock’s mouth is not a happy one, but one bare, pale arm snakes out from beneath the covers to take the glass and the pills. He downs them without a word, but makes the most entertaining scrunched-up expressions. Greg knows for a fact the lemonade is not that bad, but the squint of Sherlock’s eyes and pursing of his lips is entertaining, so he doesn’t complain.
Once he seems to have gotten the taste out of his mouth, “Why are you here, Lestrade?”
“Taking care of you, by the looks of it. You’re welcome.” He arches an eyebrow. “Anyone ever tell you that you’re the whiniest git on the face of the planet when you’re ill?”
“Shut up. Why are you taking care of me? I don’t need taking care of.”
“No.” Shrug. “S’pose not. But it’s nice, isn’t it? Having someone look after you.”
Sherlock looks at him. It’s a narrow-eyed sort of look, the sort he gets when he’s deducing something and putting careful consideration into it. Greg wants to ask him if his mum ever did this sort of thing…looking after him when he was sick, but the topic of his home life has never been one up for discussion between them. All he gets are little scraps of information here and there, and generally they’re given by Mycroft rather than Sherlock himself.
After a long moment of silence, “…I suppose you can stay.”
With that, Sherlock pitches himself to the left, forming a small, quilted ball with a Sherlock center, all skin and bones and insecurity. Greg hadn’t planned on staying, certainly hadn’t asked, but he looks down at Sherlock who is almost laying his in lap but not quite, and he touches a hand to Sherlock’s hair and sees the way he tenses, just for a moment, then relaxes, and he decides…yeah, all right. He’ll stick around for a bit.
Sherlock Holmes doesn’t let just anyone take care of him, after all.