Characters: John, Sherlock (Main), Mycroft, Lestrade (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:3,559
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.
John left 221B and started to walk down toward the shops, making a mental list of what he needed to get. It was a few moments before he noticed the black town car keeping pace with him as he walked.
“Oh, for fuck's sake,” he muttered. He put on some speed and waved at the car dismissively. The car kept even with him. He was forced to stop at a pelican crossing and the car stopped too, the door opening up as if by an unseen hand. “No, I am not playing this game today.” He stared straight ahead, but the car stayed put. “I'm serious. Go away.” He was starting to get strange looks from his fellow pedestrians. “Nope. I'm not getting in.” Cars were honking.
John sighed and got in the car.
“Hello John,” Mycroft greeted him pleasantly, from the seat across from him. “Can I drop you somewhere?”
“Nope,” John said. “I'm actually quite fine walking, thanks.” He glanced over to Mycroft's assistant, who was glued to her Blackberry as usual. “Hey.” She looked up briefly, and then back down again.
“Tesco or ASDA?” Mycroft asked.
John glared at him. “Tesco,” he said. “Which is about twenty seconds up the street. So you better talk fast.”
Mycroft spoke discreetly to the driver and car pulled away. “We'll take the scenic route,” he said.
“What would you have done if I hadn't left the flat today?” John asked.
Mycroft laughed. “John, you and my brother are extremely predictable,” he said. “There was no question of you not leaving the flat. He's kicked you out, hasn't he? I imagine he's dying to be on his own for a while.”
“You do realize you sound like a Bond villain, don't you?” John said. “You should get a cat to stroke. It might mellow you out a bit.”
“I'll keep it in mind,” Mycroft said. He crossed his legs and settled into his seat. “I've heard you met our mother. You made a very favourable impression on her.”
“Does she know you go around kidnapping people?” John asked.
“You entered the car of your own volition,” Mycroft pointed out.
John sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Bit of a day, Mycroft, so get to the point,” he said. “What do you want?”
“I wish to discuss Sherlock's treatment plan, and where we go from here,” Mycroft said.
“Physio, speech therapy, same as in hospital,” John said.
Mycroft nodded. “Do you really think you're going to able to convince him to go now that he has a choice?” he asked.
John had been pretending that wasn't going to be an issue and didn't like it brought up where he had to worry about it. He was just trying to get Sherlock settled for the moment, and worry about how the hell he was going to get him to do what he was supposed to when he came to it.
“He'll do the physio on his own,” John said. “He's good about that. But he's still really fussy about the speech therapy.”
“Sherlock has never been fond of doing things that he isn't good at,” Mycroft said, with a smile that passed for fond. “Have you considered bringing someone in to the flat? Perhaps if he didn't have to interrupt his work, he might be more inclined to cooperate.”
“God, are there even people who would put up with Sherlock like that?” John asked.
“I've found that money tends make people very patient,” Mycroft said. “As before, I expect all bills to be sent to me and so you are free to do whatever you need to. Money isn't an issue.”
John was starting to realize that money was Holmesian for 'I care about your welfare'. At least from Mycroft's point of view. “I'll ask around,” he said.
“Good,” Mycroft said, with a nod. “And how is the assault case coming along?”
“Dead in the water,” John said. “You know that, I'm sure. Haven't you hacked into Scotland Yard?”
“And Sherlock intends to take the case on himself?” Mycroft asked, dodging the implication elegantly. John just stared at him. “Yes. Silly question, I apologize. You need to watch him then, John.”
“I do,” John said. He smirked and added, “constantly.”
“Of course, but he is in far more danger at home than he was in hospital,” Mycroft said.
John frowned. “What do you mean? If someone wanted to try something, wouldn't it have been pretty easy to walk in and do something? Pretend to be a visitor, make it look like a blood clot or a seizure or something. It's not like his room was guarded or...” He rolled his eyes at himself. “You had people there.”
“I insisted on that hospital for a reason,” Mycroft agreed. “Far easier to keep tabs on who is coming and going. But Baker Street, unfortunately, is much harder to monitor without Sherlock noticing and making a fuss.”
“Do you really think he's in danger?” John said. “I mean, maybe it was just a random attack.”
“You don't believe that any more than he or I do,” Mycroft said. “Don't you think it's rather convenient to have been attacked in an area that immediately makes the crime look like a drug deal gone wrong? Or that the attack happened in the precise location where none of the thousands of CCTV cameras in London would see? We are looking at someone who thought this out very carefully, John. It was not a spur of the moment action.”
John's fingers wiggled anxiously in his lap. He glanced over to Mycroft's assistant, who was behaving as though she couldn't hear what was being said.
“I find the nature of the attack very disturbing as well,” Mycroft went on. “If someone truly wanted him dead, a bullet to the head would have been much quicker and more effective. Why risk the chance that he might live? Coshing him over the head with a metal object is a very odd choice for something so clearly thought out. It suggests a crime of passion—great anger. To go for his head and suggests someone with a personal motive. He seems to have aimed for Sherlock's most prized possession.”
“You know I wouldn't purposely let him walk into danger,” John said.
“Of course. And all I ask is that you keep an eye on him,” Mycroft said. “And yourself. There are other things to take away that would mean just as much.”
“What do you mean?” John asked.
Mycroft smiled. “Nothing. I believe we've arrived at our destination,” he said, as the car came to a stop.
“Did you drive around and practice that speech to get the pace down?” John asked. “Or is it just a coincidence that you were done just when we got where we were going?”
“I only employ chauffeurs with excellent timing,” Mycroft said.
John couldn't tell if he was joking or not, but his assistant cracked her first smile since he'd got in the car. He exited now and found himself in front of Tesco, about two minutes away from 221B on foot.
Yep. Money and mad, spy film manoeuvres. Definitely how the Holmes family expressed concern.
Sherlock was on the phone when John arrived home. He was at the kitchen table, with it cradled on his shoulder, the cord wrapped around the wall from the living room. The landline was mostly only for decoration and John wasn't even sure he'd ever actually made a call on it. They always used their mobiles for communication. But Sherlock's new mobile number hadn't been handed out yet, so John supposed the landline would be the best way to reach him.
Sherlock was muttering 'yes' and 'no' and making non-committal grunts every once in a while. John knew who he was talking to without him saying. It was the same sort of conversation all blokes had with their mothers on the phone.
“Mummy,” he said, after a while. “Trying to... science. Yes. Yes. No. Er. Yes.” He shot John an embarrassed look before murmuring “same” into the receiver. “Yes. Yes. Bye.”
He picked up the phone from his shoulder and held it in the air, looking down at his experiment. It stayed that way for several moments before John realized he was expecting him to hang up the phone for him. He contemplated refusing, but it seemed a bit rude to ask Sherlock to hobble out to the cradle.
“Not your servant,” he settled on, as he took the phone and hung it up.
“Mycroft?” Sherlock asked, giving John a once over when he came back into the kitchen.
“Yeah,” John said.
Sherlock made a face. “Tell him... what?” he demanded.
“Nothing,” John said. “He just wanted to know how you were. The usual thing.”
Sherlock studied him for a few moments, then nodded. “Mummy wants... er... eat us,” he said. “No, no. Wants... er... er... supper us.”
“Today?” John asked, alarmed.
“No, no. When... when... suitable,” Sherlock assured him. He wrinkled his nose. “Brother same.”
John could think of very few things that he would like to do less than have dinner with the Holmes family. In fact, he'd invaded Afghanistan and the thought of that had filled him with less dread. “Your mum, she doesn't think we're...” he made a gesture even he wasn't sure the meaning of.
Sherlock looked at him blankly. “What?” he said.
“Never mind,” John said.
“Very... busy us,” Sherlock said, with a little smile. “So supper... always never possible.”
“Yes,” John agreed, in a deadpan tone. “Absolutely.”
Sherlock laughed and went back to his experiments. John put the groceries away. He'd tried to buy everything he'd ever seen Sherlock voluntarily eat. It wasn't a big list, but being in the hospital had put him on a good eating schedule, and John was hoping it would continue. Sherlock had to be the only person in the world who was healthier for eating hospital food.
His mobile rang halfway through his work. He glanced down at the number before answering. “Hey, Greg,” he said.
“Hey, John,” Lestrade said. “I keep trying to ring Sherlock on his mobile and then I get the 'this number is not in service' lady and remember it's in pieces on my desk. I got your e-mail that said he was coming home today. Is he around?”
“Yeah, he's right here,” John said. He put the mobile into Sherlock's outstretched hand.
“Sherlock... Sherlock Holmes,” he said, into it. “Yes. Here now... Mmmm. Ess-perment. Yes. Yes. No. Not care. Want...want... Mo-lly edi-vence, said before. She... erm... agree, just ask. Yes. Fine. Yes. Go 'way.” He put the phone down on the table and pressed the 'end' button forcefully.
“What was that about?” John asked.
“Bother,” Sherlock complained. “Inquiry... health. Want my... health update. Also, bring edi-vence for case... later. After... work.”
“He's going to bring the files for you to look at?” John said.
Sherlock glared at him. “I say!” he complained.
“Right, sorry,” John said. “Shouldn't you maybe wait a bit? You just came home. Give yourself a few days to rest before you jump back into things.”
Sherlock continued to glare at him. John recognized the futility of telling Sherlock to take it easy and went back to putting the groceries away.
He went out to the living room after that and looked for something to do. Most of his days recently had revolved around keeping things together and visiting Sherlock. Now that things were together and Sherlock was there, he felt a bit unsure of what he should be doing. He realized that it was because there was nothing he should be doing. There were no 'shoulds' left, and now he didn't know what he wanted to do.
He picked up a book he'd been meaning to read for ages and settled down on the couch with it. He made good headway into it that afternoon, though he was interrupted a few times by people calling to check up on him or Sherlock. Eventually, he just left his mobile in the kitchen for Sherlock to answer himself, but Sherlock had apparently had enough, as John's mobile was thrown violently from the kitchen, hitting the back of Sherlock's chair in the living room and bouncing on to the seat of it.
“You could have just turned it off,” John pointed out.
“Not...satisfy same,” Sherlock replied.
John grinned. The phone calls died down after that and the flat was restored to its usual noise of clinking beakers and liquid being poured and Sherlock muttering to himself. Along with a few crashes here and there, as Sherlock's hand didn't cooperate and he dropped something. He wasn't quite as graceful with his left hand as he had been with his right. The crashes were always followed by an immediate assurance of 'fine'. Sometimes with that Victorian schoolboy cursing that Sherlock favoured, too. There were a lot of 'damns' and 'blasts' that afternoon, and once, a very angry nonsensical tirade John suspected was aimed at a Bunsen burner.
Lestrade arrived around tea time, bearing copies of all the files and photos of all the evidence in Sherlock's assault case.
“I've asked Molly to re-run the DNA herself, like you insisted,” he told Sherlock. “She's going to do it tomorrow. She's a bit swamped today, but she said she'd do it as soon as possible. I brought you a copy of the CCTV footage, too. It's on one of those...stick wotsits.” He handed over a flash drive. “Officially, this case is cold, just so you know. I've been ordered off of it. So, if anyone asks, I'm not working on it. Unofficially, if you need anything else, let me know. It's pretty unorthodox to let someone work their own case, but...” he shrugged. “sod'm.”
Sherlock nodded in a way that might have been an expression of gratitude. “Useless you,” he said. “But...will fix.”
Lestrade grinned. “Thanks. I gotta run, I'm having dinner with my sister and the sprogs. Just call if you need anything. Welcome home.”
Sherlock didn't respond, he was already sorting through the files.
John looked through the files too, picking up the papers and photos after Sherlock set them down. It was very thin. The reports were mostly inconclusive and the photos didn't show him anything particularly remarkable. Sherlock's face didn't betray anything and John couldn't tell if he was getting anything more out of it than John was.
“D'you want something to eat?” John asked, after they'd been at it for a while.
“Working, no... no...,” Sherlock said, looking blank as he searched for the word. He made an eating gesture and settled on a repetition of “no.”
“Worth a try,” John muttered. He made dinner for himself, and left half of it out, in case Sherlock changed his mind.
“Need... hands,” Sherlock announced, just as John was about to take his first bite. “Come now.”
Normally John would have told him to shove off but, once again, it seemed a bit rude to deny him help if he was asking for it. Sherlock was trying to put the photos and reports up on the wall around the mirror over the fireplace. He called it a 'mind map' and he did it with tough cases, so he could see everything all at once. He was using his right-hand as a weight again, but it didn't seem to be doing much good, and there were papers strewn all over the floor where they'd fallen from his hands.
“Motor... broken,” Sherlock explained, glumly. John tried to think of what 'motor' was an analogy for, but then realized he meant 'motor skills'. “Practice... but broken.”
John silently picked up the papers that he'd dropped and put them back in a pile, then worked under Sherlock's direction to attach them to the wall with Blu-Tack. They'd switched to that after Mrs Hudson complained about holes in her walls from the drawing pins.
It was a long process. Sherlock had a tendency to rearrange the papers multiple times when he was putting the map together, as he changed his mind about how to organize them. Which meant that John had to move them around repeatedly until he was satisfied and there was the added complication that one of Sherlock's paraphasias was 'right and left', so he often said one when he meant the other. John's supper was stone-cold by the time he returned to it. He ate it anyway, fearing that taking the time to reheat would allow Sherlock to come up with a new task for him. He finished quickly and returned to the living room, where Sherlock was fumbling, trying to get the flash drive into his laptop. It kept sliding across the table when the drive was pressed against the USB port.
“Do you want me to—?”
Sherlock selected a heavy tome from the bookshelf and put it next to the laptop, so it couldn't slide further. The drive went into the port and he smiled in triumph.
“See? Fine,” he said to John, as he waited for the drive to be read.
“Yes, that was clearly far easier than letting me do it,” John replied.
Several video files came up, all neatly labelled by the street, the time period and the angle. There were a few angles for each leg of the journey and there were two longer files, which were labelled 'full footage, best wide angles' and 'full footage, focus on SH'. Luckily, using a mouse only required one hand, and Sherlock had no trouble selecting the files. John peered over his shoulder to watch with him.
Sherlock started with the 'full footage, focus on SH' file. They watched in silence as Sherlock exited 221B, walked down the street a bit and hailed a cab. He hopped into it and the cameras changed, keeping track of the cab as it moved through the streets. The angles were all zoomed in, so it was a bit grainy, but Sherlock could be seen in all the shots. He seemed to be talking to the cabbie and John recognized his 'deduction' face, even through the pixels. He was clearly doing his Sherlock Scan on the driver. The cab stopped; Sherlock hopped out again and paid the driver, then walked for a bit. He turned down a side street and the footage ended.
“Anything?” John asked. “Do you remember any of that?”
Sherlock shook his head. “Like watch... cinema. Me but... like... actor,” he tried to explain. “Like out of... self in... erm... dream. Watch self.”
He played through the file again, then selected the 'best wide angle' file, which had a clearer view, but wasn't zoomed in on Sherlock. He played that a few times, without any sign of recognition and moved on to the individual files. They showed each street from different views, giving a slightly different perspective for each scene.
Sherlock went meticulously through each file, watching them several times and freezing in places, bringing different frames into software he had installed to clean up images. He zoomed in and out, cropped and cleaned, but didn't indicate whether he'd come up with anything. Some frames he saved, which John hoped was a sign that he'd noticed something. He was in one of his silent modes, though, and John knew it was best not to question him. He wouldn't answer anyway.
Exhaustion hit John around ten o'clock that night. He started to yawn repeatedly, until his nose was stuffed from the tearing of his eyes and he came perilously close to face planting on to Sherlock's shoulder a couple of times. It felt like he'd been running just ahead of a giant wave for so long, and now that Sherlock was home and it was all relatively okay, the wave had caught up and swept over him. He didn't have to run any more and he suddenly realized how tired he was of running.
“Go 'way,” Sherlock told him, after about the twentieth yawn. “Not help and... noise. Go sleep. Tired you... ov-obvious. Useless.”
“M'fine,” John said, widening his eyes in an attempt to keep them open.
“Go 'way, don't... don't want you... near,” Sherlock ordered, pointing toward the stairs without moving his eyes from the screen.
John contemplated fighting, but knew that Sherlock was right. He wasn't being any help, and passing out on the floor would be a bit embarrassing.
“You should try and sleep too,” he said, straightening up and stretching out. “Don't be up too late.”
“Mmm,” Sherlock said, not really listening.
“G'night,” John muttered, and headed for the stairs.
“Mmm,” Sherlock said.
John thought, absently, as he climbed up to bed, that it was good to have Sherlock working on a case again. It was nice to have the beakers clinking and the muttering and the clicking of the mouse. It made the flat feel proper again.
And Sherlock would laugh and scoff at him, but it made it feel like home.