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And A Doctor

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Everyone knew that John was a doctor.

 

Most knew he had been a soldier.

 

Almost no one could separate the two.

 

John had been introduced and addressed as “Doctor Watson” by a lot of people since entering Sherlock’s life: landladies, an extensive homeless network, Scotland Yard officials, criminal masterminds, the central pillar of the British government, and even, on that first mutual crime scene, by Sherlock himself.

 

All those people using John’s title, and all of them, generally, without having any idea what it truly meant; what John could do.

 

A misunderstanding that came down to two points: Sherlock and semantics.

 

Unlike Sherlock’s eccentric brilliance and reputation for being both invaluable and insufferable, John was, by nature, a quiet man; brilliantly competent in his own life’s work, yet easily overlooked and underestimated as he kept his own gifts private and praised those of others. When one of those “others” happened to be Sherlock Holmes, John didn’t even have to try and blend into the background – he was automatically overshadowed by, and viewed in relation to, Sherlock. People called him “Doctor Watson”, but they didn’t see an educated and skilled physician; what they saw was John Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ inexplicable friend, flatmate, and blogger, a constant presence at the consulting detective’s side; the man with a lingering military bearing who had once, they were told, been an army doctor.

 

And that, right there, was the root of the problem: “army doctor.” A seemingly small matter of semantics, but one that changed so much. Nearly everyone connected those words: his therapist, Sarah during his surgery interview, even Sherlock had done it, falling into the same compulsory drive that everyone else did, merging two distinct parts of John’s identity during their first meeting at Baker Street by quickly moving from “you’re a doctor” to clarifying and labeling, “in fact, you’re an army doctor.” By tying both together – “army doctor” rather than “soldier and doctor” – it made one identity dependent on the other. And so the civilian that London now knew, the man who had once been a military doctor, was called by his title more out of respect for what he had done, rather than for what he still did; as if being invalided out of the army made John both a former soldier and a former doctor, the only practical application for his medical skills left behind in the sands of Afghanistan.  As if Doctor Watson didn’t exist without Captain Watson.

 

It was only when people actually saw John working as a physician, watched him put the full breadth of his knowledge and skill to use outside a military context, that they began to understand.

 

That it wasn’t just about bullets and IEDs and trauma care under fire. That “doctor” actually covered a pretty wide field.

 

And that John was bloody good at covering ground.

 

***

 

1.

 

Lestrade wasn’t a leaner.

 

While many people tended to lean against walls or doorframes when crime scenes got tedious and the hours drew on, Lestrade wasn’t one of them. He might stand near one, but never let it take his weight, no matter how worn out he was. As a man who led by example, Lestrade refused to potentially compromise forensic integrity that way. And as a man with a strong moral principle of his own, he insisted on showing respect for the lives lost and affected by the crime he was investigating, pushing through any discomfort or exhaustion and standing on his own, fully engaged, determined in his pursuit of justice.

 

So when Lestrade took a barely noticeable step backwards, his back lightly bumping into the flaking wall and scattering a fine mist of hideously orange paint to the ground, it was significant. The kind of significance only someone who both frequently observed Lestrade, and had an eye for catching nearly imperceptible actions, would notice.

 

Sherlock never even looked up.

 

John, however, who had been completely engaged in Sherlock’s evidence-gathering dance around the corpse at the center of the room, was at Lestrade’s side in four brisk steps, positioning himself in front of the DI with the purposeful, yet casual stance of a man sharing information, while simultaneously shielding Lestrade from as much of the room as possible. “You okay?” he asked quietly.

 

Lestrade started at the sudden attention. “Yeah, fine.”

 

John’s eyes narrowed slightly; the look of a man used to dealing with blatantly false, roundabout responses.

 

“Long night,” Lestrade amended. “Guess I’m feeling the missed sleep. Not as young as I used to be,” he chuckled ruefully, working for levity.

 

John’s lips quirked with a faint smile; both humor and tacit camaraderie. But his eyes shifted at the same time, a minute movement, his overall expression becoming a sort of John-version of Sherlock’s deductive one. Lestrade could almost feel John’s mind putting together data only he could see, hypothesizing omissions, and coming to conclusions. He wasn’t used to anyone other than Sherlock turning that sort of penetrating look on him. It was…..odd. And slightly uncomfortable, which prompted him to try and change the subject. “Sherlock come up with anything yet?” he waved toward the middle of the room.

 

John tossed a glance over his shoulder at Sherlock’s unceasing movements, then turned back to Lestrade with a shrug. “Probably, unless there’s some other reason he’s muttering Plato right now. At least, I think it’s Plato – never had much of a head for Greek.”

 

Lestrade laughed, leaning his head back into the wall and looking at the ceiling with a sigh. “You poor bastard. Subjected to this kind of thing regularly, are you?” he grinned.

 

John’s face shifted into one of the silent expressions of long-suffering, patient fondness that were pretty much reserved for Sherlock alone, eyes flickering through another one of those almost assessing looks in the space of half a blink, before warming as he joined Lestrade’s laughter with a low chuckle. “At least Mycroft’s not here. Get the two of them together when Sherlock’s like this and it becomes half an hour of trying to outdo one another via increasingly obscure languages. I swear, one day Sherlock’ll figure out how to text in bloody cuneiform, just to spite his brother.”

 

Lestrade snorted back a laugh as he dropped his chin to meet John’s eyes, shaking his head with horrified sympathy. “I can’t even imagine. Really. How….” He suddenly stopped as another thought occurred. “Wait, hold on. How does he know Plato in the original Greek, but not that the earth goes ‘round the sun?!”

 

John shook his head a fraction, eyebrows raised in clear ‘I don’t even try to guess what’s considered useful enough to stay in that brain of his anymore’ exasperation.

 

Lestrade acknowledged the silent, but unmistakable, answer with a tilt of his head and transitioned back to his original question. “How on earth have you not gone completely mad?” John’s ability to deal with not only one, but often two Holmeses, on a nearly constant basis was beyond him.

 

John’s face brightened with a conspiratorial grin. “Last week I recorded whatever Latin nonsense he was muttering between texting you demands for a case and managed to identify it using this website I found. Came back downstairs, grabbed the book he was quoting from his library, and dropped it right in his lap. Shut him up for almost five minutes while he figured out how I did it.”

 

Lestrade grinned back. This was why John and Sherlock worked as a unit – the doctor was more than able to hold his own. “You should have filmed that,” he blinked a few times, glancing over John’s shoulder toward Sherlock before focusing back on John. “And you really need to send me that website.”

 

John reached into his pocket for his mobile, his soft chuckle overshadowed by eyes radiating careful concern. “You sure you’re all right?” he asked, studying Lestrade’s face. “You look a bit…..” he purposefully left the sentence open.

 

“I was an idiot,” Lestrade filled in. “Stayed up too late worrying at another case, only to get the call for this one at 4:30 this morning. Should know better than that by now. Really, John, thanks, but I’m fine.” He shifted against the wall, leaning his head halfway back again.

 

John’s chin dipped with a soft nod as he pulled out his phone, a hint of, if Lestrade didn’t know better, something that looked like ‘well, that’s it then, last chance’ flashing through his eyes. John was halfway through typing the web address when the mobile suddenly dropped from his hand.

 

Lestrade startled at the sharp clatter of the phone striking the ground. “You okay?” he asked at John’s muffled curse.

 

John clenched and unclenched his left hand several times. “Yeah, fine,” he said, sighing and beginning to bend forward.

 

“No, I got it,” Lestrade insisted, eyeing John’s clenched hand while waving the doctor upright. He took a step away from the wall and leaned down, grabbing the phone. “So,” he began as he straightened up. “This –“

 

When the darkness faded and the rushing sound in his ears resolved into voices again, Lestrade found himself sitting on the floor with his back to the wall and John’s fingers wrapped around his left wrist.

 

Donovan’s voice came from somewhere close by. “…...sure? He’s never done that before.”

 

John’s voice followed, calm and matter-of-fact. “Happens to most of us once or twice. The medical term for it is postural hypotension – basically a delay in the blood pressure catching up while moving from a lower to a higher position. Hard to diagnose for certain without a few blood pressure readings to measure the drop, but it fits what just happened.”

 

“Are you sure he doesn’t need an ambulance?” Donovan worried.

 

“His heart rate’s stabilizing and he’s starting to come around. He isn’t in any immediate danger,” John said. “As long as he’s coherent when he’s fully awake, I don’t see a need for it.”

 

“Exactly,” Lestrade mumbled, clearing his throat and opening his eyes fully, pleased to find that his voice steadied as he continued, “Only thing I need is for someone to tell me what the bloody hell just happened.”

 

“You collapsed while picking up John’s mobile,” Donovan explained. “He says your blood pressure probably dropped when you were standing up. Good thing he was close by when it happened. Saved you a broken nose, at least.” Her eyes narrowed at the memory of John catching Lestrade’s suddenly boneless body.

 

Lestrade’s eyes widened. “Thanks,” he murmured, shifting his gaze to John.

 

John gave a quick nod. “You remember any of it?”

 

Lestrade thought for a moment. “I remember my vision sort of tunneling a little on the way up, but that’s it. Don’t remember falling.”

 

John looked from Lestrade to Donovan, confirming, “Yeah, sounds right for a postural case.” He turned back to Lestrade. “Just need to sit and rest for a few minutes.”

 

“And then he’ll be okay?” Donovan persisted. “Because he’s already been….” Her mouth snapped shut, eyes flashing, as Lestrade shot her a sharp look.

 

John briefly glanced between them, then refocused on Lestrade’s pulse, pretending not to pay the incident much mind.

 

“I’ll be fine, Donovan. Just need a minute like John said. Do me a favor and keep an eye on Sherlock, will you?” He smiled at her eye roll. “Please,” he added softly.

 

Donovan’s eyes cycled through several emotions before she nodded sharply and strode to the far side of the room.

 

Lestrade sighed, scrubbed a hand across his face, and turned back to John.

 

“So. Ready to tell me the truth now?” John demanded, tone deceptively light around hardened features.

 

“What?” Lestrade tried to catch up.

 

“Now that we’ve established you’re not ‘fine.’”

 

“You said it was just a passing blood pressure……” Lestrade paused, studying John’s face. Bloody hell, he’d been right about that ‘last chance’ look. “You dropped the mobile on purpose,” the truth dawned on him. “You knew this would happen.”

 

And here he’d thought Sherlock was the only one of them with highly developed manipulative skills.

 

“Which is why I stayed so close,” John acknowledged the accusation simply. He gave Lestrade a hard look. “You’ve looked terrible all morning and now Donovan’s worried about something you didn’t want her to talk about. What’s going on?”

 

“But how did you know….” Lestrade couldn’t get past the idea of John not only knowing that his blood pressure would drop, but orchestrating its occurrence as well. Had Sherlock really rubbed off on his flatmate so much?

 

John let a tight breath of air through compressed lips. “You were pale, sweating, and weak. Most likely suspects were hypoglycemia or hypotension. Unlike Sherlock, you’re intelligent enough to eat while working, so hypotension made more sense, and the postural episode helped support it.” He held up Lestrade’s wrist, shifting his fingers from the radial artery to pinch the skin on his hand. “You’re tachycardic, and have bloody awful skin turgor, so at least part of it is dehydration. What I need to know now, is why.”

 

Lestrade’s eyes widened at the surprising rush of medical jargon that came out of John’s mouth; the controlled, clipped assessment of a professional trying to do his job and being hindered by a lack of data needed to form a treatment plan. Lestrade bit back any further questions and met John’s eyes with new understanding.

 

John sighed. “What was Donovan going to say?” he asked, voice losing some of its previous diagnostic edge upon noting Lestrade’s newly open, cooperative focus.

 

Lestrade scrubbed a hand across his face. “I was in A&E Monday night. Suspect swiped me with a knife.” He saw John’s expression darken and quickly assured him, “It was just a graze, didn’t even need stitches. They cleaned it, gave me antibiotics, and sent me home. It’s been fine.”

 

“Is it somewhere I can see?” John asked.

 

Lestrade understood both the meaning and underlying urgency there and untucked his shirt, exposing the thin, red line to the left of his navel, just above his belt line.

 

John shifted in his crouch to provide more of a barrier between them and the rest of the room as he gently palpated the area. He nodded at Lestrade to drop his shirt. “So that’s why she’s worried and you don’t want to go to hospital,” he understood.

 

Lestrade nodded. “Twice in a week is too bloody much,” he sighed. “Besides, I don’t feel that bad. No need to tie up emergency services with something like this or to sit in A&E again to get it checked out. It looks fine, right?”

 

John gave him a look. “The laceration looks fine, yeah. You, on the other hand, still look awful.”

 

“Thanks,” Lestrade snorted. “Really, though, I didn’t get any sleep last night. I just need to sit for a few minutes, like you said, then I’ll be fine.”

 

“Greg,” John said softly, watching as Lestrade’s focus immediately sharpened with the rare use of his first name, as intended. “I understand not wanting the fuss of an ambulance and hospital, but dehydration and low blood pressure can be quite serious. And just because the knife wound looks fine, doesn’t mean that you are. We can’t ignore what just happened because we both know it’s not just the result of a long night. Now, I’ll help you avoid hospital if at all possible, but in order to do that, I need to figure out if it’s something I can treat on my own. And I can’t do that unless you’re honest with me, all right?”

 

Lestrade was stunned at the passion, knowledge, and steady friendship in John’s tone; the honest desire to help. He nodded. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

 

John smiled, weary and tight, but genuine. “Right, then.” His face shifted into that assessing look again as he thought for a moment. “You have eaten today, right?”

 

“Yeah. Plain toast and coffee on the way here.”

 

John nodded with the confirmation. “Why didn’t you sleep last night?”

 

Lestrade grimaced. “Stomach went off. Didn’t eat anything unusual, so figured I picked up one of those twenty-four hour viruses or something.”

 

John managed to control a ‘why wouldn’t you tell me this?’ look. “Vomiting?” he clarified, judging by the plain breakfast.

 

Lestrade looked vaguely embarrassed as he shook his head.

 

“Ah,” John understood. “Diarrhoea?” he asked, lowering his voice even further to maintain the privacy of their conversation.

 

Lestrade nodded reluctantly.

 

John sighed inwardly as he processed that new information. He had never understood why people were generally fine with admitting they had vomited, yet discussing diarrhoea was embarrassing, almost to the point of taboo. Medically speaking, they were both equally dangerous with the right severity and duration.

 

“You’ve been taking the antibiotic since Monday night?” he asked.

 

Lestrade made a face. “Yeah. Bloody tablet is huge.”

 

John’s lips quirked sympathetically. “Augmentin?”

 

Lestrade’s eyebrows shot up, surprised. “Yeah, that’s the one.”

 

John ran a mental tally of his supplies at the flat, then nodded - a sparse, clipped movement. “All right,” he stood up and extended a hand down to Lestrade, “let’s go.”

 

“No hospital? You know what it is?” Lestrade asked hopefully, motioning for Donovan to come over.

 

“No hospital,” John confirmed. “And pretty sure, yeah. We’ll talk more in the cab.”

 

John got Lestrade to his feet and smoothly eased him back against the wall with a firm, guiding grip at his elbow. “Steady breaths. Close your eyes if you need to. Just stand still and let your body adjust before you move any further,” John advised softly.

 

Lestrade acknowledged him with a soft grunt, listening as John began filling Donovan in on the plan to take him back to Baker Street. Once Lestrade regained his equilibrium and opened his eyes, he joined the conversation and officially handed the scene over to Donovan’s control. “Keep me updated,” he said, “and try not to antagonize him,” he jerked his head toward Sherlock.

 

Donovan blew out a breath that was equal parts worry, frustration, and displeasure as she leveled a look at John. “Take care of him,” she demanded, eyes moving to Lestrade, then back to John. “Cab’s waiting for you outside,” she held up her mobile with a little wave. “Thought you might end up needing one.” She held each of their gazes with one final statement – I’ll do what I can, but too much time alone with him, without either of you as a buffer, and we can’t be held responsible for our actions – then turned and went back to work.

 

John and Lestrade nodded both their gratitude and understanding, then moved toward the door, John keeping close, ready for support if needed, but allowing the DI to walk under his own power. Once outside, Lestrade suddenly came to a halt. “Wait, did you tell Sherlock? He’ll be looking for you.”

 

John snorted in rueful memory of being abandoned at their first crime scene together. Granted, that didn’t happen much anymore, Sherlock having grown both accustomed to, and somewhat reliant on, John’s presence at crime scenes, but he was still Sherlock. The man who had spent over twenty-four hours in the flat, without even the excuse of a case occupying his brain, having entire conversations with his flatmate without realizing that said flatmate was actually in Dublin at the time.

 

“Eventually,” Lestrade amended, understanding exactly where John was coming from.

 

“Yeah,” John’s half-chuckle managed to be fond and resigned at the same time. “I’ll text him from the cab. It’ll probably be another hour, at least, before he even notices we’re gone,” John rolled his eyes, moving toward the taxi. When they’d left, Sherlock had still been muttering to himself, although the Greek had faded down only an occasional punctuation within his usual Sherlockian-speed English. Eventually, he’d shift from externally voiced internal muttering to a proper question to another person, or actually seek acknowledgement that someone was listening. But John was experienced enough in Sherlockian nuance to know that it wouldn’t be for awhile yet. Trying to tell Sherlock anything at this point would be a waste of time; even if he appeared to acknowledge it, he’d immediately delete it and still be looking later. A text though, he could refer to at any time.

 

Once they were settled in the cab on the way to Baker Street, and he had sent his text, John continued his assessment. “Did it just start last night?”

 

Lestrade, to his credit, jumped right back in. “That was the worst of it, yeah. But there was one time the night before.”

 

“So, Wednesday night and Thursday night,” John mused out loud. “How many episodes?”

 

Lestrade raised an eyebrow. “What?”

 

“How many episodes of diarrhoea?”

 

Lestrade turned red. “Jesus, John, it’s not like I counted. Who does that?!”

 

“People in my line of work,” John chuckled softly. “Seriously though, it’s important. An estimate, then. How many times last night?”

 

Lestrade covered his face wearily, thinking over a night he’d rather forget. “Ummm, probably about seven times?” he ventured a guess.

 

John nodded as if this was a perfectly normal conversation. “Any blood or mucus in the stool?”

 

Lestrade groaned again. “Is this what doctors talk about?”

 

“We’re a fun group,” John shrugged. “Either of those present?” he refocused the conversation.

 

“No, neither one,” Lestrade replied. “Seriously though, John…..” he gestured as if the words of their odd conversation were visible in the air between them.

 

“You eat lunch while looking at crime scene photographs,” John pointed out. “Every profession does something that shocks people who aren’t in it.”

 

“Good point,” Lestrade mused. He had never really thought about it, but he was starting to realize that he’d always thought of John as a soldier first, not a doctor – probably because it was still easy to see signs of the military in his reactions and the way he carried himself. He knew John could handle even the grisliest of crime scenes without a problem and had attributed it to what he saw in the army. But he tended to forget that even though he spent years as an army doctor, John would know how to do more than trauma care. Like assessing bowel health in a stubborn DI refusing hospital.

 

Twenty minutes later, Lestrade was lying comfortably on the couch at 221B with his legs elevated and sleeves rolled up while John crouched at his side and wrapped a blood pressure cuff around his arm.

 

“80/40,” John pronounced a moment later, removing the cuff and slinging the stethoscope around his neck in a motion born of practice. “And that’s lying flat on your back. The fact you were standing at all with that blood pressure is pretty impressive,” he grinned.

 

“I’m flattered,” Lestrade couldn’t help but chuckle back. “Now what?”

 

John leaned back on his heels. “Diarrhoea is a common side effect of antibiotics. If you had seven or more episodes in the last 24-48 hours, that could be just enough fluid loss to dehydrate you and lower your blood pressure, which would explain the weakness and other symptoms. If we can get some fluids back into you, I think we’ll see your blood pressure go back to normal and stay there. I’d like to start you on IV fluids, if that’s all right, then recheck your blood pressure a few times during and after that.”

 

Lestrade flopped his arm on the cushions. “Off you go, then,” he agreed.

 

Fifteen minutes later, Lestrade had an IV in the crook of his left arm, and the wall had a new hole courtesy of John’s need for a makeshift IV stand; a liter bag of normal saline hanging from the freshly hammered nail in the wallpaper. John cleaned up the supplies, did another quick check of Lestrade’s lungs and IV site, then sank down onto the coffee table to monitor everything.

 

Lestrade looked at this different version of John, so different from the man he usually saw, as if seeing Doctor Watson for the first time. Stethoscope draped around his neck, sleeves rolled up after washing his hands, eyes flitting from the IV site to Lestrade’s breathing, to the flow rate of the IV bag. “Thank you,” Lestrade said quietly. “For this,” he gestured with his non-IV hand at the set-up, “and for keeping everything quiet back at the scene, even though I was making a mess of you trying to do your job.”

 

John smiled warmly. “No, you weren’t. I should have asked straight away, instead of waiting until you looked worse. And….” He cleared his throat – a verbal fidget. “Uh, sorry for everything with the mobile. I guess I sort of reverted to…..nontraditional means?” he offered.

 

Lestrade waved off the apology with a chuckle. “Thought it was quite brilliant, actually. I figured it was Sherlock’s bad influence at first, but…..” he paused, watching John’s expression shift, almost guiltily. “Wait, it was Sherlock’s influence?!”

 

John focused on a point above Lestrade’s head, eyes firmly on the IV bag. “In terms of being a manipulative bastard, no. In terms of having used it on him too……ummm, yeah. A bit.”

 

“Hold on, Sherlock actually picked your mobile up for you?” Lestrade gaped.

 

“No, of course not. I dropped one of his microscope slides. Knew he’d pick that up.”

 

Lestrade burst out laughing at the image, then suddenly sobered, another thought taking over.

 

“You okay?” John leaned forward, concerned at the sudden quiet.

 

“Yeah. Just trying to figure out how I feel about the fact that you used the same technique you’ve used on Sherlock, on me,” Lestrade couldn’t quite hide the grin threatening his level delivery.

 

It was John’s turn to chuckle. “Lack of creativity?” he offered an explanation for the mirrored action.

 

“Yeah, right,” Lestrade snorted, knowing better. He shifted further onto his left side. “You know, I still have one question.”

 

John nodded for him to continue.

 

“You kept saying I felt weak, like you were sure of it. And you were right, I did. But I never said that; only that I was tired. How’d you know? ”

 

John focused on the IV again, lips slightly pursed. “You were leaning against the wall. You never do that, no matter how tired you are. I’ve seen you on 48 straight hours without sleep, and you never once let a crime scene wall take your weight. So it had to be from weakness, which would have fit, along with your other symptoms, with either the low blood sugar or low blood pressure I was considering.”

 

Lestrade was stunned silent. This wasn’t just John the observant diagnostician. This was John the observant friend; who knew Lestrade well enough to find alarm and pathology in a seemingly innocuous action.

 

“Think you could manage some tea and toast?” John broke the silence after several seconds.

 

“Uh, yeah. Thanks.”

 

“Great,” John nodded, pushing himself up with a grunt. 

 

They shared the small meal together and kept up companionable conversation until the IV bag was empty. John stood and clamped the tubing, then crouched down to get another blood pressure reading. “Blood pressure’s come up nicely. How are you feeling?” he asked, removing the cuff.

 

“Fantastic,” Lestrade admitted, surprised and thrilled at the realization.

 

“Need to release any of it?” John’s lips quirked.

 

“Definitely,” Lestrade chuckled.

 

John clamped the extension tubing and unhooked the main line. “All right. Sit up first, nice and slow.” He watched Lestrade follow the instruction and nodded. “Good, now stay there. Any dizziness?”

 

“No.”

 

“Great.” A few more seconds and they repeated the slow change, Lestrade moving from sitting to standing. John stepped back once Lestrade reported that he was steady, watching the DI’s back as he headed to the bathroom.

 

Sherlock came bursting through the door in an indignant swirl of coat just as Lestrade was returning to the sofa. “I was talking to you,” Sherlock protested, leveling a glare at John.

 

“No, you were talking to yourself,” John corrected, pausing for a second or two before adding, “and possibly to Plato.” He held up a hand to stall any further protests. “We left over two hours ago, Sherlock.”

 

“No you…..”

 

“Look at the time on the text I sent you,” John said patiently.

 

Sherlock pulled out his mobile and frowned at the screen.

 

“Exactly,” John nodded.

 

“You left me with Donovan. And Anderson,” Sherlock accused darkly.

 

“Yes, that was cruel,” John glanced over at Lestrade who was already beginning to smirk. “Lestrade’ll have to make it up to them.”

 

Sherlock shot him a look. His eyes flickered over Lestrade and the area around the sofa. “Nails in Mrs. Hudson’s wall, John?” he tutted.

 

“Yes, because a single nail for intravenous support violates our lease more than you shooting at it out of bloody boredom,” John somehow managed to both narrow his eyes in ‘don’t even start with me’ irritation while simultaneously rolling them in exasperation.

 

Sherlock’s expression remained neutral but his eyes sparkled faintly at the back and forth. Lestrade felt Sherlock’s deductive gaze return to him, trying to understand the underlying pathology: a puzzle to be solved for the sake of intellectual need rather than for the sake of healing. Quite a difference, really, between Sherlock and John’s penetrating looks, when he compared them.

 

“Why was he dehydrated?” Sherlock focused back on John.

 

“None of your business,” John replied almost cheerily, shifting into a deceptively casual parade rest, a subtle, physical reminder that he could be just as stubborn as Sherlock. “I’m going to put the kettle on,” he angled himself toward the kitchen. “Are you going to catch us up on the crime scene or do I need to start looking up Plato references again?”

 

Sherlock’s eyes flashed with an ‘it’s obvious you’re trying to distract me from prying further into Lestrade’s medical condition’ look, but, in a testament to how far their friendship had progressed and how much John had subtly influenced Sherlock’s patterns, he allowed the distraction. Allowed his underlying respect for Lestrade, and trust in John’s medical judgment, to win out over the inherent need to know everything.

 

Sherlock’s put-upon huff was softened by a mischievous twist of the lips. “Why are you so sure it was Plato?”

 

“I’m not,” John admitted freely, with a shrug. “You know I’m rubbish at Greek. So…” he waved a hand expectantly.

 

Sherlock grinned and whirled around to face Lestrade. By the time John came back into the room with the tea, Sherlock was pacing a path in front of the DI, gesticulating in sharp punctuation to his rapid-fire speech. John placed Sherlock’s tea next to his chair for when he finally slowed down, and sat in his own, sipping quietly as he watched Lestrade, who was sitting up, color back in his face, follow Sherlock’s deductive process with all his usual focus, interest, and exasperation.

 

When Lestrade left Baker St. two hours later, it was with four things: a murder suspect’s name and life history, a written list of yogurts or probiotics to help prevent further antibiotic-associated diarrhoea while he finished the course of Augmentin, a blood pressure of 118/78, and a whole new respect for Doctor John Watson.