Characters: John, Sherlock, Jasmine (OC), daemons
Warnings/Triggers: recovery from a serious wound, mentions of PTSD symptoms
Word Count 2, 565
Summary: As John and Subira do their physio to aid recovery from John's gunshot wound, Sherlock and Tzophiya drop in to be semi-comforting.
Author's notes: Follows directly after Vigil.
This is tentatively part one of a short series of oneshots of John's recovery in hospital as his friends visit and help him recover. I have a few others mapped out, so we'll see how it goes. It also stands on it's own, so there won't be any cliffhangers either way.
Knowledge of His Dark Materials is not required. All that's necessary to know is that, in this world, humans' souls live outside of their bodies in the form of animals. There's an excellent primer here.
For reference: Subira (a dwarf mongoose), Tzophiya (a grey lourie), Benvolio (a river otter).
“...5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Let go. Relax. Breathe.”
John relaxed his transversus abdominis muscle with a sharp intake of breath, and tried to breathe like a normal person. It was bloody hard, as his whole stomach was telling him to stop bothering it. Everything hurt. Everything.
Jasmine rubbed his arm in soothing circles, and hummed a little song. She was the physio assigned to work with him while he was in hospital. She was a cheerful, enthusiastic woman, with long braids that seemed to be styled a new way every day and a big, elegant face, that looked like it had been designed by an animator. She was a bit odd, and had lots of New Age ideas of healing people body, mind, and daemon. She had a manic, friendly otter daemon named Benvolio, who couldn't seem to keep still, and danced around when she sang--which she did, quite a bit. She had a lovely singing voice. Benvolio also performed what Jasmine called 'reiki', which was a sort of laying on of hands. Jasmine believed that a person and their daemon should be considered one patient, and that healing the daemon was just as important as the person. So, while John ran through his breathing exercises, and worked on improving his abdominal muscles, Benvolio rubbed his paws together and held them upwards to 'absorb energy', then put them on Subira's head, face, stomach, and back, just holding them there and improving the 'flow' of her 'energy'. Both John and Subira were sceptical about this, but Subira said it was comforting, too, and John had to admit that she seemed calmer, and if she was calm, he found it easier to concentrate on what he had to do, and work through the pain.
There was a lot of pain. John had to admit that, too. His stomach felt as though someone had reached in and moved everything about a bit, and put it back together again. For the first few days of being conscious, even sitting up was a hell that sent Subira into full on trembling and whimpering. He took it easy for her sake only. He wanted to get up and about again. Sherlock wouldn't wait forever for him. He didn't want him getting too used to solving cases on his own and maybe realizing John wasn't necessary.
So far, that didn't seem to be the case. Sherlock came in to visit every day, even if it was just a quick fly through on his way to somewhere else (he seemed to be 'passing by here anyway' very often). The exception was when there had been a case on, and even then, he'd made it in twice to pace around John's bed and rant about it at him. John had fallen asleep in the middle of it on both occasions, and woke to find Sherlock gone, the second time with a note on his pain pump with 'you're oversedating yourself' scribbled on it. Subira had a great chuckle over it, and jokingly warned him not to 'overdo it' whenever he pressed the button on the pump. It made it easier to press the button, because it wasn't so much admitting that he was in pain, as sticking it to Sherlock for being an arse.
The pain pump was gone now, and John missed it. His head was clearer, which brought on all sorts of other problems. Being shot wasn't exactly a walk in the park, mentally. He'd had nightmares and panic attacks, especially just after he woke up. Being in hospital again brought on a lot of memories of the last time he'd been shot, which weren't the best memories. He'd be happy to get home. But he needed to get through the physio first.
“One more rep,” Jasmine said, when he'd recovered from the last one. “Whenever you're ready.”
John sucked in his gut again, and held it. He had a lot of muscle damage from the bullet and surgery, and the ones that were damaged were the ones that handled core stability, so he had to lean heavily on a zimmerframe to keep balance when he was on his feet. He was trying to get enough strength to stand upright.
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5,” Jasmine counted out. She said there were two types of patients: those who wanted to know how far they'd gone and those who wanted to know how far they had left to go. John was the former, so she counted up to ten for him, instead of down from ten. “6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Relax. Breathe. Good job, I think that was better than the last time.”
“I think I could do another,” John panted.
“I don't think you can,” Subira said, her fur all up on end.
“Not today,” Jasmine said. “We've damaged your muscles, so now we want to let them heal up stronger. We'll give them a break. I'm going to clear your lungs out a little, and then we'll be done for the day. Any requests?”
“Yeah, reggae,” John joked.
Jasmine called him on it, and launched into a Bob Marley song as she cupped and thumped on his chest to clear out the secretions in his lungs. Benvolio, done with Subira's reiki, grooved on the end of the bed, making Subira hide her laughter under her tail.
Tzophiya flew in in the middle of this, landing on the bed railing, and watching with a look of bafflement. Subira waved a paw to greet her, and she bowed her head in reply. Sherlock was nowhere to be seen.
“It's okay, I know her,” John assured Jasmine. Seeing a daemon without a human wasn't distressing, like seeing a human without a daemon (John had seen a few of those in Afghanistan, and still had nightmares about it), but it was still odd.
“She has amazing range,” Jasmine said, leaning over to look for a human.
Tzophiya mocked her by turning and looking too. Not in an obviously mocking fashion, just looking as though she too was wondering where Sherlock was. It was only John and Subira who could tell she was being prissy.
“When I was little, my mum used to say that witches could learn to separate from their daemons and travel long distances without them,” Jasmine added. “And any time you saw a daemon by itself, it was a witch's daemon.”
“Sherlock's not a witch,” John said. “He probably just got distracted by something, or someone.”
Subira made an inquisitive gesture toward Tzo, who shrugged in reply. Sherlock and Tzophiya didn't seem to pay much attention to where the other one was half the time. John had literally seen them startle one another, as though they were surprised the other was there. John always knew where Subira was.
Sherlock finally swept in a few moments later. He stopped to take Jasmine in, and then Benvolio, who had offered a friendly greeting to Tzo and been rebuffed.
“I'm not interrupting,” he announced, and John couldn't tell if this was a question or a statement or an order.
“Knocking is polite,” John said. “Then you can be sure you aren't.”
“You're unconscious half the time, knocking isn't logical,” Sherlock replied.
John chose to introduce Jasmine rather than argue the point. “Sherlock, this is my PT, Jasmine Ademola. Jasmine, this is my flatmate, Sherlock Holmes.”
Jasmine offered a smile and a hand, which Sherlock accepted with a firm enough handshake that John knew he'd taken stock of her and approved.
“This is Benvolio,” Jasmine said. She made a sweeping gesture toward him.
“Tzophiya,” Sherlock said, with a sharp jerk of his head toward Tzo.
Benvolio tried another greeting, and Tzo inclined her head in a regal bow, then hopped down onto the bed, and circled around him, her head twitching side to side as she stared. Subira tripped her as she came back around.
“John is doing really great,” Jasmine offered to Sherlock. “He's a very compliant patient, and he works very hard.”
“I'm not his father, I don't need a report card,” Sherlock replied, impatiently. “I know that about him already.”
Jasmine's face twitched with uncharacteristic annoyance, but it settled back into pleasant again. “You're right, I'm sorry,” she said. “It's a boring thing to say. Is there anything you'd like to know that I can answer for you?”
Sherlock was taken aback by that, and his eyes darted back and forth, trying to come up with something. Probably because he was so rarely invited to ask questions, he wanted to take the opportunity. Tzophiya flew over to his shoulder, and muttered something to him.
“What can I be doing to speed his recovery?” Sherlock asked, and it was John's turn to be taken aback. He and Subira exchanged incredulous looks. “He isn't useful to me in here.”
Okay, that was a little more Sherlock.
“As I said, he's doing a great job,” Jasmine said. “I think just supporting him is the best method.”
“Literally or emotionally?” Sherlock asked.
“Both,” Jasmine said, her mouth fighting against a smile. “He needs to be up and about, and the nurses aren't always around to help. If you wanted to walk with him, I'm sure it would help, and be appreciated.”
She beamed between John and Sherlock, and John realized she too was under the impression they were a couple. He'd never been able to shake off Sherlock's apparently flawless performance over the first few days of his being hurt. Whenever he tried to correct, they just quickly assured him that there were no judgements here and everyone was welcome, etc.
“I suppose I could do that,” Sherlock said.
“Great!” Jasmine said. “Well, I'll leave you for today, John. Make sure you use your spirometer, and do try to do a bit of walking. Even just to the loo and back a few times.” She rubbed his foot, and Benvolio put his paws in a prayer position, and bent at the waist to Subira, who gave a wave in return. Benvolio hopped into Jasmine's arms and then moved to a piggyback position, and they left.
“She's very odd,” Sherlock declared.
“Yeah,” John said. “She's a bit out there.”
“She's a good choice for you,” Sherlock said. “You respond well to eccentrics.”
“Do I?” John said.
“Yes, how else do you explain our friendship?” Sherlock said. He swept his coat back and took a seat in the chair by the bed.
“I don't know, maybe making up for crimes in a past life?” John said.
Sherlock smirked. “I'm sure you would have served enough time to make up for all manner of atrocities by now, and we're still friends,” he said.
“In that case, I want a divorce,” John said. He carefully pulled himself to a sitting position, swearing fluently and creatively in his head. Subira gave a small yelp, and Tzophiya hopped over to her, and poked her with her beak, which she seemed to think was comforting or helpful. Or maybe she was just trying to get her to shut up.
“Fine,” Sherlock said. “But I'm keeping the flat.”
Tzo tweeted at him and looked to John pointedly. Sherlock stood up and reached behind John, pulling the pillow up to support him. He elbowed John in the face as he did, but he was trying so John didn't complain. Sherlock stood back and looked at Tzo, who shrugged. He sat back down again.
“What's up?” John asked. He gave Subira a few strokes to calm her now that he was settled.
“With what?” Sherlock said.
“Life,” John said. “What's happening in the great outside world?”
Sherlock shrugged. “Nothing,” he said. “It's as boring as it always is. There aren't any cases. Mrs Hudson keeps coming upstairs and looking at me.”
“Looking at you?” John said.
Sherlock put a sympathetic expression on his face, and cocked his head to the side and clicked his tongue. Tzophiya did an impression of Carwyn at his fussiest. “Apparently I should be lost without you,” he said. “Everyone I meet keeps telling me how sorry they are.” Tzophiya puffed her feathers out, and her crown went on end, annoyed. “I don't see how your being in hospital should affect me. I'm fine. I didn't get shot, and I didn't almost die, and I--”
“Okay, okay,” John said, raising a hand. “S'okay, Sherlock. It's okay to be stressed.”
“I'm not stressed,” Sherlock said, through clenched teeth.
“That's believable,” Subira said to John. “I'm convinced, how about you?”
She nosed Tzophiya, and patted her head. Tzophiya stuck her beak in the air and turned her head away.
“How's Mrs H, other than annoying?” John asked, moving the subject away from Sherlock's feelings.
“She's busy,” Sherlock said. “She keeps knitting. Every time I go in to her flat, Carwyn is wrapped in wool. She says she'll come in and visit soon.”
She'd said that the last four times Sherlock had come in. Mrs H didn't do hospitals very well. John wasn't offended. He knew she cared, at least. She rang and talked to him. Harry hadn't even bothered to do that. She'd rung Lestrade in response to a message he'd left about John, but hadn't talked to John or come to see him. Subira said it wasn't the right time to try and rekindle the relationship anyway, but John thought they had almost run out of time completely, and maybe she should consider that.
“Do you want me to walk with you?” Sherlock asked, suddenly.
“I dunno, is there any chance you won't get distracted and let me fall on my arse?” John replied.
Sherlock and Tzophiya looked at one another. “I'd say 60-40 in favour of dropping you,” he said.
“Yeah, I think I'll pass,” John said. “But thanks.”
Sherlock stood up again. “Well then, I'm going,” he said. “I was just passing by.”
John gave him a salute. “Thanks for dropping in,” he said.
Sherlock shifted on his feet. “Are you feeling better?” he asked. It was the first time he'd asked that directly.
“Yeah,” John said. “A little.”
“So, not very much,” Sherlock said.
“No,” John admitted.
Sherlock nodded. “I'm sure it will take time,” he said.
“You might have to be patient with me,” John said. “Sorry.”
“I don't think I have any right to complain about waiting,” Sherlock replied. “I owe you something like two years.”
“It's not a competition,” John said.
“If it were, I would be the uncontested champion,” Sherlock said. “Stop being needy. Rest, and get better.”
“Yes, sir,” John said.
Tzophiya nudged Subira, and flapped her wings at her, before flying to Sherlock's shoulder. Subira waved goodbye. Sherlock gave a nod to them both, and left. John carefully picked up Subira and moved her to his lap, so they could have a nap.
“It scares me when he's nice,” Subira said, as she curled around with her tail under her chin. “I always think that's what he's going to be like just before he cracks completely.”
“He wasn't that nice,” John said.
“He was practically a prince, compared to normal,” Subira said. “I think you've scared him. Tzophiya initiated body contact. Something's going on there.”
John mulled over this. “He'll probably forget soon enough,” he said. “And go back to being his usual self. I just hope he doesn't find a replacement.”
Subira patted his thigh. “Who'd want the job?”