Characters: John, Sherlock (Main), Mrs Hudson(this chapter)
Warnings/Triggers: swearing, blood, injuries, trauma, discussion of DNRs and withdrawal of life support, deals with depression and PTSD, features a character who cannot speak or move without difficulty, which some people may find upsetting.
Spoilers: Everything aired
Pairings: none, just epic friendship
Chapter Word count: 2,540
Beta/Britpicker: aelfgyfu_mead and aeron_lanart. All remaining errors are mine.
Summary: Sherlock is assaulted by an unknown assailant while John is away at a medical conference, leaving him with a severe brain injury. While his intellect and personality are intact, he's lost the use of his right-side limbs and his ability to speak freely. John suddenly finds himself as the main source of support, and possibly a caregiver, to a flatmate who is struggling to do the things he loves most. And Sherlock Holmes has never been the best of patients.
Previous chapters can be found here. The page will be updated as new chapters are posted. You can also find the story at A03 and FF.net.
Sherlock was, of course, right about the girl. John left the hospital around 2AM, after Sherlock had calmed down enough that John felt he wouldn't go running off looking for the boyfriend himself. In the morning, he woke up to a text message 'as transcribed by Flora (the night nurse)' which read 'Boyfriend arrested'. This time there was no debate on how John should be feeling. He was just happy Sherlock was acting like himself again.
It wasn't surprising that the doctor declared Sherlock fit to be discharged the next day. She said that there was nothing more to be done for him there, and now that his blood work showed proper electrolytes and iron and another vitamins, she felt he was ready to leave their care. Sherlock was practically out the door before she finished speaking, but John managed to convince him to stay another night and leave in the morning, so John and Mrs Hudson had time to prepare the flat for him.
It was clear that Sherlock hadn't considered any other possibility than going home to Baker Street. He refused to entertain the idea of going to a rehab hospital, where he could continue to work on his speech and physio. He was going home and that was final.
John had already talked to Mrs Hudson about how she felt having Sherlock come home with his injuries. She assured him she was perfectly happy to have him there, and if the stairs would be a problem, maybe she could swap bedrooms with Sherlock for a bit, or go and stay with her sister until he was able to manage them better. John felt a surge of affection for her and had hugged her tight and told her she was brilliant. She seemed slightly confused by this, which only made him love her more.
She was thrilled when he told her that Sherlock was being discharged and ran around, making sure the flat was clean and picking out clothes for him to wear home from the hospital. She and John tried to identify problem areas where Sherlock might trip or not have enough room to manoeuvre and cleared them.
John went to the hospital bright and early, but not early enough for Sherlock, who had already called twice to ask where he was. Sherlock managed to get dressed on his own, but they encountered the first problem with his shoelaces. His hand trembled badly when he tried to tie them.
“Sorry, I should have brought slip-on ones, I didn't think,” John said.
“Fine,” Sherlock said, as he made a fifth attempt to do the bow. “Not... problem.”
“Do you need me to—?”
Three tries later, he managed to get the first one done up in a sloppy bow. The second one was accomplished in six tries. Then they moved on to the next problem.
“Not my... coat,” Sherlock said, when John handed him the leather motorcycle jacket he'd brought. He looked extremely offended that John could have brought anything else but his ubiquitous one.
“Yours is in evidence,” John reminded him. “And you don't own another one. I took this one from your dress-up stuff.”
Sherlock made a foul face, but was too eager to leave to throw too much of a strop. He shrugged it on and wrapped the scarf Mrs Hudson had made for him around his neck.
“Not... not... wear that,” he declared, when John tried to hand him a woolly hat. “Stupid... er... er... cover.”
“You've still got that weird patch of hair on your head and a nasty scar,” John pointed out. “I thought you might want to hide it.”
“Why? Don't... don't er... care,” Sherlock said. “People... look, fine.”
"I could have brought the deerstalker," John joked.
"Not... not my hat," Sherlock said, firmly. "No... hats."
John didn't put up a fight. He collected all the things Sherlock had managed to accumulate during his stay and put it in a bag, then they were off.
Several of the nursing staff stopped Sherlock to wish him well. John was surprised; he had thought that Sherlock was certainly not a patient a person would miss. He supposed that anyone whom you'd had in your care for nearly a month, whom you'd seen go from barely making sense and unable to move around to walking and talking fairly coherently, probably made an impact on you in the end. Sherlock kept shooting John confused looks at the fuss they were making.
“Everyone goes,” he said. “Either... better or die. Not any... any... different.”
“Sometimes it's just enough that a patient didn't die,” John said.
“Sentiment,” Sherlock said, with disapproval “Names... you know... all?”
“Yeah, I've seen them pretty much every day,” John said. “You don't know any of their names, do you?”
“Waste... space,” Sherlock said.
For all his railing against sentiment, Sherlock was clearly pleased to be back home. His fingers bounced anxiously on his knee all the way there and he beamed at the door when they arrived. Mrs Hudson was waiting for him in the hallway and threw her arms around him when he and John entered. She mumbled into his chest about how much she'd missed him. Sherlock let her do this for longer than John would have expected.
“Enough now,” he said, finally. “Release.”
Mrs Hudson stepped back, wiping the happy tears from her cheeks. “Do you want tea?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said.
She scurried off to make it. Sherlock eyed the stairs, looking like he was calculating a maths problem.
“Do you need—?” John tried to ask, again.
“No,” Sherlock cut him off, again.
He hobbled over to them and tried a few approaches. Eventually he decided on gripping the bannister with both hands and leading with his good leg, sideways up the stairs. He pulled himself up the first stair, balancing briefly on his bad leg to get his good one up to the next one and repeated. John was right behind him, ready to catch him if there was a problem, and carrying his cane.
“Take a break if you need to,” John said, halfway up the first flight. “We're in no hurry. Take your time.”
“Shush,” Sherlock said.
John fell silent. Sherlock made it safely to the landing and paused there, breathing heavily. His lips were set in a hard line and John couldn't tell if it was from frustration or pain or fatigue.
“Fine,” Sherlock said, before he asked. “Just... breathe. Lungs... er... lazy.”
“Once you're up, you can stay there,” John said. “So, we just have to get you up.”
Sherlock nodded. He rested for a few more moments and then braced himself for the next flight. He lost his balance going up those, when his bad leg went out on him. John caught him and silently put him on his feet again. Sherlock muttered something under his breath that was probably 'thank you', but might have been something far less polite.
By the time they reached the first floor, Sherlock had sweat pouring down his face and he was flushed red in the cheeks. He took his cane back and limped over to the couch, flopping down with a sigh.
“Welcome home,” John said, brightly.
Sherlock glared at him, though a bit of a smile broke through. He looked around, scrutinizing every detail of the flat. “All clean,” he said, with distaste. “Don't like. Move... things.”
“Just a little. We wanted to make sure you had room to move around,” John said.
“What?” Sherlock asked, pointing at a book on the coffee table.
“Oh! That came in the mail yesterday,” John said. “It's a book of postcards, sort of get well cards. A bunch of your fans got together to send it. A lot of them are hand-drawn, and there are messages on the backs. It's pretty brilliant, actually.”
Sherlock snagged it with his cane and brought it closer to him, picking it up to look through it. “Silly,” he said. “Money waste.”
“Yeah, well, they didn't think so,” John said, with a shrug.
“Yoo-hoo!” Mrs Hudson said, arriving with the tea. She set it down on the coffee table. “I've used the good things because it's a celebration. It's so nice to have you home, Sherlock.”
“Said already,” Sherlock grumbled. “Not need... repeat.”
Mrs Hudson gave him an affectionate smile. “Sorry, dear.” She handed him his cup and poured one for John. He took his to his chair and she sat down in Sherlock's after she'd served herself.
“Stop... stop look me,” Sherlock said, after a few moments of silence.
John and Mrs Hudson both immediately moved their gazes elsewhere, which turned out to be at each other. They exchanged amused smiles and Mrs Hudson gave John a wink.
Sherlock sat in grumpy silence while they had their tea. John and Mrs Hudson chatted between themselves, trying to include him but not getting much of a response. Sherlock looked really tired, and John wasn't sure if he was being anti-social or getting up the stairs had been too much for him, or both. Mrs Hudson took the tray back down when they were done and Sherlock looked a little recovered. He stood up and hobbled into the kitchen.
“Ess-perment all gone!” he complained, as though mourning a loved one. “All... clean!”
“Sherlock, you've been gone for nearly a month,” John pointed out. “We couldn't let it sit around and... grow things.”
Sherlock pouted and sat himself down in a chair, sighing as he looked over all the equipment for defects. “Have... start again,” he muttered. “No samples. All gone.” He picked up John's notebook, which he'd left there from the previous night. “Yours? No cases, why... why... write?”
“I've been trying to keep track of your assault case,” John explained. “I've been taking notes when Lestrade called to update me and looking through the papers and internet and whatever. I'm not you, so I haven't done anything useful with it, but I thought when you felt better you might want to have it.”
Sherlock nodded and leafed through it. “Stupid... cursive,” he said.
“Left-handed doctor,” John said, with a shrug.
“No progress,” Sherlock said, his eyes scanning over the pages. “No... edi-vence?”
“Not really,” John said. “They swabbed your defensive wounds and took samples from under your nails when you came into hospital, but nothing matched when they ran the DNA. They're still working on getting information from your phone, but they had to send it out to some expert. None of the forensic people could get anything from it. Lestrade couldn't find that bloke you said you get information from. No one's come forth as a witness with any information. It's pretty dead all around. Lestrade's had to shelve it, for the moment. He said he's still working on it, but there are other cases that have taken priority.”
“Still... not memory,” Sherlock said, frustrated. “Try... palace visits and—and think... but all... black. No... no... er... streets for memory.”
“It's pretty common to not remember the incident,” John said. “You might never get it back. Hopefully you'll get something of the time leading up to it, though. If we knew why you went...”
Sherlock shrugged and shook his head. “Work,” he promised, setting the notebook aside. “Smart...so solve... er... myself. Talk... er... er... réseau? No... word...” he hummed under his breath, but that didn't seem to help. “Group... no homes.”
“Network?” John guessed. “The Homeless Network?”
“Yes!” Sherlock said. “Will... circulate. Get in-fo-ma-tion. They not... help police. But me help.”
“They've been stopping me, asking how you are,” John said. “The one who found you wandered off after talking to the police. I haven't been able to thank him. He didn't have to stop. He used one of the mobiles you give out to call for help. Speaking of which...” John went over to the computer desk and came back. “I bought you a new mobile. Same model as your old one. It's all ready to go, phone plan in place and everything. I put a few numbers in for you, too.”
Sherlock nodded a thank you and added some numbers in himself. John couldn't see who they were for, but he did catch one name.
"Who's G. Norton?" he asked.
Sherlock pointed to the word at the top of the screen and read "contact" aloud in a matter-of-fact way, before putting the phone in his pocket. John didn't press.
He began to spread his science equipment out over the table, like a toddler setting out his toys to play with. “Lots of... thoughts,” he said to John. “Lots of... things for... er... make. Couldn't proper at... at...” He looked blank and his hand moved aimlessly.
“Hospital,” John supplied.”Yeah, I bet you came up with a bunch of weird experiments while you were in there. Though I was impressed with how much you managed to get done with plastic utensils and food. I think that's why they kicked you, to be honest.”
“Mold... interesting,” Sherlock objected. “Very... useful knowledge. They... not understand.”
“Yeah, I don't know why they didn't appreciate you growing things in your loo,” John said, with a roll of his eyes. “Mrs Hudson put all the pipettes and slides in the silverware drawers when she cleaned up. All your stuff is around in the kitchen somewhere, you just have to look.”
Sherlock swatted at him, absently. He worked at connecting all the tubing and beakers and cylinders back together. His tongue peeked out of his mouth in concentration. He was basically working one-handed, using his right one as a sort of weight to hold things down while his left did all the work.
“Go 'way,” he said to John. “Want... alone.”
“Are you sure?” John asked.
“Yes. Day and day and day always... watch,” Sherlock said. “Nurse and doctor... and Mummy. Always....er... er... people! Always... always... questions. Want alone, now. Fine. So... alone.”
“Fair enough,” John said. “I'm going to run out to the shops. I wasn't really expecting you home and I've just been buying for me. We need a few things. Is there anything you want me to pick up? Do you want me to fill any of the scripts they gave you at the hospital?”
“No pills,” Sherlock said, his nose wrinkling in distaste. “No need. Just buy... normal. Not need.”
“Okay. Well, call me if you change your mind or if you need me for anything,” John said. “Mrs Hudson is downstairs if you... get into trouble.” Sherlock paused briefly in his work to glare at him. “Just don't do anything stupid, okay? Don't try and take the stairs without help or anything.”
“Just work,” Sherlock promised. “Go 'way.”
John smiled. “All right. Have fun.” Sherlock gave him a fake smile. “And... er, I'm just... it's good you're home.”
Sherlock wrinkled his nose and muttered about sentiment. But, as John turned to go, he saw a real smile flash briefly over his lips.