Background: this one takes place directly after the one I previously posted. There is a third deleted chapter, but I've never been particularly happy with it. This chapter was the one I was the most sad to lose, because it has some Molly and Sherlock interaction that I'm fond of, and also has some of Violet actually doing her job, which I'm not sure ever made it into the actual fic. But when I switched focus to it being mostly about John, these bits felt unnecessary. Bits and pieces have been rearranged, snipped out and used elsewhere in the final version, so some of it may seem familiar.
Refresher, since it's been quite a while: in the previous deleted scene, Sherlock and John went to a crime scene, Sherlock made friends with a dog, John remembered Sherlock was supposed to have a speech therapy session with Violet, Sherlock rang Violet and then announced he was going to 'school', and John didn't know what 'school' meant.
And also since it's been a while: the full, finished fic is here.
Unbeta'd and Brit-picked, and I went back through and regressed Sherlock's speech a few times before I posted the final version, so it's better here than it should be. About 3,000 words.
'School' apparently translated, in Sherlock's mind to 'lab'. That's where he directed the cab driver to go to when they got into the car. John had been given some samples from the scene by Lestrade on his way out.
“So, you know how it was done yet?” John asked.
“Near,” Sherlock said. “Can't... too much... work for... uh....uh... explain, so wait... until finish. Then all... tell.”
John thought that was fair. Sherlock looked a bit tired from all the talking he'd done so far. His brain sometimes seemed to need a moment to reset itself after too much stimulation. He had that blank look on his face that happened when he a needed a moment of quiet. John kept silent on the trip over to Barts.
“Sherlock! Oh my goodness!” Molly greeted him, when they came in. She squeezed Sherlock tightly around the waist while he looked alarmed. “Sorry! I'm just--it's so nice to see you back here again! I'm so pleased!”
Sherlock nodded. “Will need... help,” he said, his nose wrinkled at the word. “Hands. Need hands.”
“Oh, absolutely,” Molly agreed, enthusiastically. “Whatever you need, just let me know.”
John handed over the samples to her and stood back to let them work. He wasn't ever much help in the lab. It had been a long time since science class and he'd never had to run his own tests as a doctor. He wasn't good for much beyond handing things over or being a listening post for Sherlock to bounce ideas off.
Sherlock had Molly running here and there while he sat on a stool at the bench, directing. Molly never had trouble understanding him--in fact, she often seemed to know what he wanted before he said it.
They'd been at it for about half an hour when Sherlock's mobile beeped. He looked down at it, then over to John. “Violet... door,” he said. “Uh... uh... front. Bring here.”
“Wait, Violet's here?” John said.
Sherlock nodded. “Yes. Work and speech. I ask. She... she... yes.”
John walked down to meet Violet at the front of the hospital, not sure if he should be pleased that Sherlock was keeping his appointment, or annoyed that Sherlock thought he could drag Violet around town.
“If you ever, ever need a letter of recommendation or a reference or anything, I will happily write you a rave review,” he told her, sincerely.
She laughed. “I sort of like working with Sherlock,” she said, like she was admitting a dark secret. “He keeps me on my toes. I have to work to keep him focused because he gets bored so easily. It's a challenge and I like challenges. And he's interesting, if you can get him going on something he likes. Plus, if you ask him to practice something, he always comes back with it practised. It's rewarding. He said something about a crime scene on the phone. How did that go?”
“Not too bad,” John said. “It was slow, but he managed it.”
“Did he talk to everyone, or just you?” she asked.
“Uh, mostly me and Lestrade,” John said. “A bit to some other people, but more like he was talking and they were there. He didn't talk much to them. But he wouldn't normally, either.”
“I've been trying to encourage him to interact with people who he's not as comfortable with,” she explained. “You don't make him work for it because you understand him even when his speech isn't properly formed. It's a lazy way to do things. It's not your fault--you can't help understanding him. But forcing him to stop and really think will help him out.”
“Sherlock is always moving at the speed of light,” John said. “His brain is so fast, he can't bother to slow down. I don't think he has the patience to be slow and so he sort of depends on the people who understand him. I don't know if it's laziness or just... trying to keep himself sane.”
Violet nodded. “It's still not helping him,” she said. “He needs to rebuild the pathways. You may have to push him and ask him to correct himself. I know it seems like bullying, but it'll help in the long run.”
They arrived at the lab and John opened the door for her. “I'll do what I can,” he promised.
“Hello, Sherlock,” Violet greeted him. He looked up and gave her a brief nod of hello before returning his microscope. She was undeterred. “How are you today?”
“Fine,” he said.
“Who's fine?” Violet asked.
Sherlock sighed. “I... am... fine,” he managed, after some struggle.
“Good, I'm glad to hear that,” Violet said. “And who's this woman here?
Sherlock looked as though he hadn't been aware Molly was in the room. He stared at her now, concentrating, and Molly blushed and froze in place like a deer in headlights.
“Mo--lly,” Sherlock said. “Mo--lly... Mo--lly... Hooper.” Molly gave him a beaming smile. “Mo--lly...are, no... is... my...” he struggled hard here, his mouth opening and closing, looking like he was trying to push the sound out or drag it from his throat. He went through all the tricks but couldn't find the word and eventually shook his head at Violet. “Can't.”
“Is she your sister? Violet asked.
“No,” Sherlock said, quickly.
“Is she your wife?” Violet said.
“Is she your neighbour?”
“Is she your friend?”
“No.” Molly looked a bit crestfallen here, but Sherlock was already correcting himself. “Yes. But not... word I... I... I.. look.”
“Is she your colleague?”
“Yes!” Sherlock nodded. “Again.”
“Colleague,” Violet repeated, tapping on the lab bench in time with the syllables.
“Mo-lly... is... my... c-c-colleague,” Sherlock said, repeating the tapping. “She... work... works... uh... uh... lab.”
“Great,” Violet said. “Nice to meet you, Molly. I'm Violet, I work with Sherlock on his speech.”
“Nice to meet you, too,” Molly said, with a warm smile.
Violet set herself up at the end of the lab bench near Sherlock, pulling out various papers, books, files and notepads from her giant shoulder bag.
“Do you want me to go?” John asked, not sure if Sherlock wanted him around during his session.
“Stay fine,” Sherlock said, with a careless shrug. “Go... same. You... you... choice.”
John elected to stay, mostly because he didn't have anything better to do. Most of his life before Sherlock's assault revolved around solving cases with him and without cases to solve, he was pretty much useless, unless he was at the surgery. He returned to his stool and Molly carried on with the tasks Sherlock had given her.
“So, I thought we'd try Poe today,” Violet said. “You said you liked him and you seemed to be getting bored with the other stories. I noticed he has really good rhythm and repetition, too, so that should be helpful. How did it go over the weekend? Is there anything specific you want to work on?” Sherlock wrote on one of the notebooks she provided and she leaned over to look. “Are those words you're having trouble with?” Sherlock nodded. “Okay, yeah, I can see why 'death' would be an important word. Some of these I'm going to have to look up though. Are they science related vocabulary?”
“Em--na--em--emelents,” Sherlock said, frowning at his mispronunciation. “And... chemistry... chemistry liquids.”
“All right, we can work on that,” she agreed. “What do you want to start with?”
“Wait... answers,” Sherlock said, pointing to the computer where one of his tests was being analysed. “So... uh... read now and... when... when work, then speech.”
“Sounds good to me,” Violet agreed. She picked up a book and opened it to a page she'd marked. “So, let's start with you reading aloud to warm up. Can you read this for me, please?”
Sherlock pulled the book over to him. Violet put a piece of paper over the page, so he could only see one line at a time. He started to read and John felt a surge of relief wash over him, completely unexpectedly. When Sherlock read aloud, he sounded like himself. All the words were there, with fewer pauses and only some transposed letters here and there, usually r's and w's. It was a bit monotone and start-and-stop, but it was Sherlock. It was Sherlock's voice sounding like he was supposed to sound. John felt so relieved that he hadn't lost anything, that it was all still there, under the surface.
“'Quoth...the raven, na... na...`Nevermore','” Sherlock read and Violet held up her hand to stop him before he went any further.
“Great, that was really good,” she praised. “There were some tongue twisters in there and you did really well. Can you just try 'weary' again, for me?”
“Reawy,” Sherlock tried. “Reawy.” He shook his head. “Know wrong but... can't.”
“All right, that's okay. That's a hard sound, they're very similar and it's easy to get mixed up,” Violet said.
Sherlock nodded. “Can't... choose,” he explained. “Think but... always wrong.”
“I want you practice in front of the mirror,” Violet said. “See what the different sounds look like when you say them, and what it feels like, so you know which one you're making. Do that for your homework.”
“Silly,” Sherlock muttered.
“Yep,” Violet agreed. “Look like an idiot, sound like an idiot. Your choice.”
John thought that was blunt and a bit insulting and then realized that 'blunt and a bit insulting' was a perfect description for Sherlock in general. The best way to motivate him would be to tell him he sounded like an idiot. She knew what she was doing.
Sherlock made a childish face, but nodded. Violet moved onto the next task, which was reading comprehension. She gave him a short story to read and then asked him questions about it. John gathered, from their conversation, that Sherlock was having trouble focusing on long blocks of text. He couldn't remember what he'd read. It was a problem he hadn't told John about.
“That was much, much better, Sherlock,” she said, after he'd struggled through the questions. “You were remembering things from the first paragraph. You couldn't do that last week.”
“Practice with... history, no, no.... paper,” Sherlock explained, miming holding a newspaper. “Read... read and then... ask... uh... self... who, what, where. Need for work. Imp--important, to see and... know.”
“Good,” Violet said. “That's a good motivator for you, then.”
The computer beeped at this point and there was a break as Molly and Sherlock looked over the results of the test. Violet wrote some notes down while this was going on. John was too far away to read them and couldn't think of a good reason to get closer.
Sherlock started in on his next test of the evidence and while he worked, Violet laid out some photographs, face down on the bench. This seemed to be some sort of game that they'd played before. Sherlock chose a photo and Violet flipped it over, then asked him to basically deduce the person in the picture. She forced him to use full sentences here and was brutal about correcting him. It was excruciating to listen to him struggle through the full sentences. He paused between words, sometimes for ages, saying 'uh' like he was a record stuck on a loop. Any relief John had was gone as he realized just how far Sherlock was from speaking normally and just how well Sherlock had been hiding that.
Molly had been working by herself on the other side of the lab, quietly and efficiently. She'd stopped now, though, and was staring ahead, her hand gripping tight on a beaker. John went over and touched her shoulder. She jumped and looked at him, smiling sheepishly.
“You all right?” he asked, whispering so he wouldn't disturb Sherlock.
She nodded. “I just... it's really hard to listen to him,” she said. “I mean, I've spoken to him and I knew he wasn't--but I suppose I didn't really realize he couldn't. I just feel awful for him. He's so clever and he's so good and he shouldn't have to deal with this. I don't know what to do to help him.”
“I know,” John said. “I know how you feel. But you are helping him. You've been really helpful, ever since it happened. You've kept him busy and you're helping out today, being his hands. He needs to work and you're helping him to do that. There's nothing any of us can do about the rest, he has to do it by himself.”
“I'm very angry,” she said, her fists clenched. “And I'm very sad. And I don't know what to do.”
John felt like she'd just summed up his life in three sentences. “We all feel like that,” he assured her. “Sherlock feels like that, I'm sure. We just have to stick it out and hope for the best and do what we can. I mean it, Molly. You are big help. He won't say it, but he appreciates it.”
She nodded. “It will all be okay, right?” she asked.
“Yep,” John said, firmly. “It will be. It may not be great for awhile, but it will be okay in the end.”
She gave him a hug and he patted her on the back. “I'm going to get a snack,” she said. “Do you want anything? Do you suppose Sherlock wants anything? No, that's silly, he never wants anything. But I can get you something if you want.”
John recognized that she needed to get out of there. “A snack would be great,” he said, trying to give her something to do.”Sherlock dragged me out before breakfast. A bagel or something like that, maybe?”
“Okay, yes, I can do that,” she said, brightening up. “I'll be back in a bit. He won't notice I'm gone, but if he does, tell him I'll be back soon.”
John watched her go, uncertain if she was really all right but feeling it was best to let her get herself together on her own. Sherlock was still struggling through his deductions and starting to lose patience with himself. Violet's corrections, which had started off blunt and to the point, now took on a more soothing tone. He wanted to give up--and that was worrying because Sherlock never gave up--but she coaxed him through until he was done.
“Do you hate me?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said, with feeling.
“Good, I'm doing my job, then,” she said. “We'll do some MIT and then we're done for today, I think.”
They went through the exercises for the Melodic Intonation Therapy, which involved a lot of singing short sentences repeatedly and had an odd operetta feel to it, like two characters singing everything to each other instead of speaking. Sherlock's musical background served him well--he could keep the rhythm and was used to hearing something and playing it back.
“All right, that's enough for today,” Violet said, when they were done. “I'm going to look up these words so I can get the proper pronunciation for them, and we'll work on them when I see you Wednesday. Is that okay?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said.
“Great,” Violet said. She put all her things back into her bag and stood up. “Good work today, Sherlock. Thanks for cooperating. Good luck on your case. Be prepared--you're going to tell me all about it on Wednesday. Same homework as usual, with extra emphasis on your r's and w's. Now that John's seen how we practice, maybe he could help you out.”
“Sure,” John agreed. “Yeah, I could give it go.”
Violet assured him she could find her way out on her own and Sherlock grunted in response to her goodbye, already back at work at the microscope.
“So, how's it going?” John asked. “Anything interesting in the results?”
Sherlock looked up and gave him a look of pure exhaustion. He put a finger to his lips and shook his head. “Can't,” he said. “Can't speech. Shush now.”
“Sorry,” John said, and fell silent.
Sherlock continued his work, poking and examining and looking at results. Molly slipped back in with a bagel for John and a muffin for herself. She offered half to Sherlock, but he waved it away. John couldn't tell if she was okay or just pretending to be, but he didn't know how to make sure. She looked a little red in the eyes. He wondered if Sherlock knew, or even cared, how many people were worried about him.
The morning stretched on, Molly and Sherlock working away while John helped where he could. Sherlock was completely silent for nearly two hours after Violet left, like he just could not bear to speak another word. He rubbed at his forehead, but glared at him when John asked if he had a headache and tossed his head like an angry horse. John took that to mean 'yes, but fuck off'.
The first words he said when he decided to speak again were directed toward Molly. “Cry?” he murmured to her, while they worked side by side.
“No, I'm fine,” Molly assured him. “I was just being silly.”
“Yes,” Sherlock agreed. “Very... very silly. Fine, me. Not... uh... uh... value cry. Not... worth. Not help and... stupid. Stupid... cry.”
“I know,” Molly said.
Sherlock's eyes flicked over to her a few times. “Can't... sad,” he said. “Can't because... need you... help. So don't... sad. Stupid and... don't like. Not help. You help and...” he struggled here, looking for a word, wrote a few down and still couldn't seem to find the one he wanted. He rolled his eyes in frustration and tried again. “You... good.”
Whatever he wanted to say, John suspected that there wouldn't have been a better word for Molly to hear. She blushed bright red and beamed at him. Sherlock shook his head, as though he couldn't fathom humanity as a whole.
“Stop... happy,” he ordered. “Not happy... not sad. Just... just... Mo--lly.”
John didn't know how she was supposed to 'Molly', but she seemed to, because she nodded and went back to work and Sherlock didn't complain again.