Proverbial Kite by ChloeWeird
John burst through the double doors and barely spared the nurses and orderlies a glance as he made his way through the noisy and crowded A&E. All but running, he quickly navigated the familiar hallways. He cursed. They've been spending far too much time here. Mostly for small things; scrapes, bruises, the nebulous 'shock'. Once, embarrassingly, an unlabelled experiment of Sherlock's had caused mysterious rashes to appear on John's body.
Nothing as serious as this, he thought grimly, as he marched toward the room number Mycroft had texted him. Neither of them had had to actually stay in hospital in years.
According to Sherlock's brother, in their rushed phone conversation, it wasn't that serious. The overnight observation was 'just a precaution'. He'd given John as many details as he could, but his reassurances wouldn't help much, until John saw Sherlock himself to make sure he was alright.
Rounding the corner, he saw that Mycroft was stationed outside the door to the private room, tapping his ever-present umbrella against one expensive shoe, appearing, for all the world, as calm and composed as ever, which John tried not to find irritating, - doesn't he care his brother is in hospital?- until he looked into Mycroft's eyes. The sharp gleam of intelligence and shrewdness was conspicuously absent from his eyes, so like Sherlock's. They were flat and lifeless, the saddest John had ever seen them.
A chill went down his spine. Had something changed since they'd last spoken? Oh, god...
"Is fine. A bad sprain, so he'll be off his feet for awhile. He'll probably drive you mad while he's convalescing." Mycroft's smirk, so at home on his face, still didn't quite make it to his eyes. What wasn't he sharing?
"So he's alright then? Thank God." John breathed. "When you called me at work I nearly had a heart attack."
Mycroft hesitated. "There is something...the criminals he'd been tracking before his accident were displeased to discover his presence. Before they made their escape, there was a struggle, and one of them managed to use the hypodermic syringe he happened to have on his person. We're not entirely certain as to what he injected Sherlock with, but the dose was either very large, or very highly concentrated. It's taking longer than the doctor had anticipated to work its way out of Sherlock's system. Whatever it was that he was given, it doesn't appear to be dangerous, probably just a variant of a popular narcotic, but I thought I should warn you that Sherlock is...not himself."
Not himself? What on earth? Oh. Oh!
"So Sherlock is...high?"
"As a proverbial kite."
"Jesus. Trust him to get an accidental fix while chasing a suspect. Lestrade won't be impressed."
"Indeed. Sherlock continues to astound us with his talent for making the Detective Inspector's day harder."
John almost laughed, and would have, if the look in Mycroft's eyes didn't unsettle him so.
"Thanks for letting me know. Hey, I almost hate to ask, but, are you alright?"
Aristocratic ginger brows shot up.
"Sorry if I'm stepping on toes. It's just that you...You just don't seem quite yourself."
"I apologize. Seeing Sherlock like this...it brings back memories of a time in my dear brother's life that's best forgotten."
Ah. Of course. Flashbacks could be brutal, John knew from experience. It was odd, though, to hear Mycroft speak of The Time Before The Work. In all the time that John had been in their acquaintance, neither of the Holmes brothers had deigned to elaborate on the period of Sherlock's life after uni and before he had decided that he liked police work more than he liked the rush that cocaine gave his brainwork. Perhaps that was for the best. The silence didn't bode well. Maybe John didn't want to know the depths to which Sherlock had sunk.
A phone chiming interrupted John's reverie. After checking the screen, Mycroft put his phone back into the pocket of his crisp, tailored jacket, and nodded to John.
"I must be off now."
"Countries to run? Dictatorships to topple?" The British Government smiled tightly.
"Quite. I shall leave Sherlock in your capable hands. Do call if something should change?"
"I will. Thanks, yeah?"
Swinging his umbrella to rest against his shoulder, he sauntered toward the glowing exit sign.
John finally pushed open the door to Sherlock's private room.
His lover was sitting up in bed, drowning in the hospital gown and unsuccessfully attempting to free his legs from the tangled sheets.
"Hey, hey, stay there, it's alright, I'll come over."
As he crossed the room, certain signs that he couldn't have seen from the door began to make themselves visible: The slight sheen of sweat on his face, the jittery body, the size of his pupils. To be quite honest, the eyes made him look like an alien. Well, even more than usual. Obviously he'd seen better days: His hair was dirty and tangled, his lip was split, and a livid bruise had formed on one sharp cheekbone.
"John!" Sherlock nearly shouted, again. "John, my John, lovely John, perfect John, JohnJohnJohn."
"Alright, I'm here, you daft bugger, no need to shout."
He'd barely reached the edge of the bed when a pair of long arms snaked around his torso and pulled him forward with surprising strength. Although the grip of a half-reclining Sherlock put John in an awkward leaning position, he allowed himself a moment to feel the heat of the familiar body against him. He felt some of the stress and worry slowly creep out of him as he finally let himself believe that Sherlock was fine. He'd just started run his palm over the dark hair under his chin when he felt a long-fingered hand slowly creep down his back to his- "Whoa, hello to you too."
He caught the offending limb and extricated himself from the serpentine grasp. The conveniently placed chair beside the bed allowed him to stay just out of reach of his part-limpet patient.
A snicker across the room brought his attention to the nurse who'd been quietly filling out a chart on the other side of the room. John felt his face burn. Perfect. He'd really needed the hospital staff catching his boyfriend groping him to complete this day. Fantastic.
Sherlock seemed to wake up from the daze he was in. "John. Where were you? I texted you ages ago. You always come when I text you."
"What? I never got a text, I'm sorry, love." He reached back to pull his phone out to check if it was working properly, but the nurse spoke up before he got there.
"Oh, he tried to text you alright. He nicked my mobile. Texted five of my contacts asking about milk and hedgehogs before I even noticed he had it." Her eyes sparkled with mirth.
"Oh, God, did he really? That's just like him. I'm so sorry."
"No, no, it's fine, really. I'd have been mad, if he hadn't apologized so nicely."
Sherlock? Apologize? Since when? His disbelief must have shown on his face, because the nurse continued.
"He felt really bad. He told me that his John, I'm assuming that's you, couldn't stay mad at him if he played his violin for him. But, since he didn't have his violin, he sang me a little song. That famous one, by Mozart. You'd know what it was. Your favourite, he said." She hummed a small section of it.
Oh. Mozart. The "Night Music" one. That was his favourite. Not that he'd ever told Sherlock that. The thought warmed John from the inside out. Just when he thought he couldn't love the man more.
"Well, I'm still sorry. Thanks for not freaking out. He hasn't had the best day."
"So I gathered."
Sherlock's groan punctuated the understatement as the detective rolled closer to grip John's wrinkled button-down. He blinked blearily up at John, then started reciting numbers and letter combos. What was he on about? He listened for awhile to the soft voice before he caught the pattern. License plates, probably. Just one part of Sherlock's no-good, very bad day.
What started out as a simple car theft case from a private client(A low 6 on the patented Sherlock Interest Scale), had turned into a city-wide chase when Sherlock had connected the stolen sports car to several other missing vehicles in the surrounding area. According to Mycroft's texts, Sherlock had tracked the car to an abandoned warehouse housing most of the stolen cars, where he'd stumbled upon a group of men on the wrong side of the law for various reasons...one of which was, apparently, dealing drugs. God only knew what kind.
Of course, he'd been discovered, so this led to, John imagined, a difficult escape. Somehow Sherlock ended up struggling with a henchmen, getting stabbed with a needle, then getting away...only to trip over himself and sprain his ankle once he'd reached safety. That must have been the drugs taking hold, John figured now, after having seen the effects first hand. It had certainly seemed an odd accident for the usually swan-like man. Graceful bastard. Thank goodness he'd still had enough sense to text Mycroft his approximate location. His brother's CCTV cameras, usually a colossal pain in Sherlock's arse, were put to good use.
See, this was why John hated when Sherlock dashed off, God knows where, by himself. The soldier in him always wanted the most important person in his life to have back-up, and escapades like this just proved his point. But the Great and Powerful Sherlock Holmes couldn't have waited a few more hours for John to finish his shift at the surgery, oh no, he'd had to go swanning off, without John, without Lestrade or the Met, completely irresponsible-.
John forced himself to take a deep breath. Sherlock didn't need his temper right now. They'd have a talk about it later, he'd make damn sure, but for this moment, Sherlock just needed his partner to wait for him to coast back down to earth.
Sherlock was, at that moment, still leaning into John's chest. His deep voice was humming something...Ah. The violin piece that he'd been banging out on the Stradivarius all week. His fingers were no longer attached to the clothing and were – Jesus, unbuttoning John's shirt from the top down.
"Sherlock, cut it out."
"Hmm? But why, John? You look so good when you're all mussed up."
Sherlock's fingers plucked at the fabric on his chest, but thankfully, he didn't try for the buttons again. Apparently high-out-of-his-mind-Sherlock was quite touchy. John's face heated again as he heard another chuckle from across the room. He did up the fastenings as quickly as he could before shooting the nurse an apologetic look.
"I'll leave the two of you alone, shall I? I'm all finished here." She hung the chart on the wall before making her way to the door.
"Thanks," John muttered, as she passed. "Really though. I know he's not the easiest person to handle at the best of times, I can't imagine you had a lot of fun dealing with him like this."
The patient in question was now tugging more forcefully on John's clothes, and repeating his name again, over and over.
She laughed as she pulled open the door, "Oh, don't you worry, I've had worse. I've got 3 growing boys at home, so I know how to deal with overgrown children." She winked at him before her head disappeared behind the door.
John laughed. She'd certainly pegged Sherlock. Childish was right, even on a normal day.
"Sherlock? Can I get you anything? Water?"
His eyes went wide.
"No! You can't leave! I need you. I need you keep me down, or I'll float away. I'm too light. John, don't go!"
"Alright, alright. I'm not going anywhere. See?" He took Sherlock's hands and held them in his own. "I'm right here, you won't float away." Sherlock settled, apparently comforted. He closed his eyes briefly, and John thought he might be getting tired, but they shot open again within moments. Sherlock sat up fully again, and put his hands on John's face.
"John, I need you to tell Lestrade."
"About what, love?"
"About the yellow...the yellow. Um." He trailed off, distracted by the stubble beneath his fingers.
"The yellow what, Sherlock?" Could this be important? John had no idea what the status of the case was, or if he even cared, but Sherlock had seemed so intent just moments ago.
"Eyes! Yes, the yellow eyes. Bright. Loads of them. More than I needed." He pouted at that.
Eyes? What the hell? More than...hmm. The cars maybe? He could be talking about headlights. He'd text Greg later to see if they'd followed up on the tip Mycroft had left on the anonymous hotline.
"John, will you tell him? Tell him about the eyes. Lots of them. And tell him that he's a Spaniel, not a Chihuahua. And that his hair is funny. And that he-"
"Okay, Sherlock, I'l tell him."
"- smells like annoyance, and that it's distracting, because I'm trying to smell you, because you smell like cuddles, and..."
It was very hard not to laugh at the rapid-fire dialogue pouring out of Sherlock's brain, sans filter, and he nearly managed to keep the struggle off his face, until Sherlock started listing the reasons why John resembled a small woodland creature, and he couldn't hold back a smirk.
"Are you listening to me John? This is very important, you have to tell Lestrade all of this. He needs to know everything."
"Of course. Everything. I'll tell him."
Sherlock finally removed his fingers from face hovering above him, and ran them through the sandy hair on top of it for a few moments. Then he stopped abruptly, and stared quizzically at this hands. Bringing them toward his face, he turned them around and gazed at them as if they held all the answers.
"John, I..." He trailed off, then pushed up the voluminous sleeve of the hospital johnny. He squinted and prodded at the crook of his elbow. "John, I'm-. I don't remember." His eyes filled with tears.
"Sherlock, are you alright? Are you in pain? I can call back the nurse-"
"Please don't leave me."
"I thought we already established that I'm not going anywhere." He brushed the tears from the high, flushed cheekbones.
"No, not now, I mean, don't go, don't leave Baker Street." He visibly crumpled. "I'm sorry, John. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to. Please don't go."
"Didn't mean to what, love?" Why on earth would he leave Baker Street?
"The brainwork! It's all for the brainwork. I didn't mean it. I'm not like Harry, I swear it. I'll stop. I won't do it again, just please, don't leave."
Harry? What...Oh. Jesus, did he think he'd done this to himself?
"Oh, god. Oh, Sherlock. It's ok. I know you didn't mean it. Don't worry."
Sherlock's tears were running faster now, each one a bullet to John's chest. If he could get his hands on whoever it was who caused this...it didn't bear thinking about.
Sherlock still wouldn't settle. He leaned over to grip John's shoulders and tried to get out of the bed. "Sherlock, stop. Just stay there. You'll hurt yourself." His ankle was still sprained, even if he couldn't feel it.
"Sherlock, look at me. Lie down, don't move, and look at me." He pushed the quaking body back to the bed, and gave his shoulder's a little shake. Taking Sherlock's face in his hands, he told him again, "Look at me."
Sherlock's eyes were wide, but they finally rose to John's face and stayed there.
"I won't leave you. Not now. Not ever. I know you're not like Harry. It's fine."
"It's fine?" His wrists were seized in a painfully tight grip, but John didn't mind.
"It's all fine."
Sherlock let out an unsteady breath and finally relaxed into the pillows.
"It's all fine," he mumbled, as his eyes fluttered closed and he rolled toward the edge of the bed, closer to John's chair. He mumbled incoherently a few more times, but it seemed that his energy had finally run out. After a few minutes of tense silence, John pressed a kiss to the clammy temple, and allowed himself to relax into his chair, one hand brushing through Sherlock's soft and sweaty curls.
As he listened to his lover's breathing slow down and even out, he tried to force the memory of Sherlock's pleading face out of his mind. The image seemed to have plastered itself onto the insides of John's eyelids, and rubbing it away didn't seem to help.
He'd seen real fear, just now. Not nervousness, or worry. Just fear, that Sherlock would wake from his hangover to find John gone from his life forever.
The worst part, though, is that he didn't know, quite yet, if he would stay. If Sherlock relapsed after all these years of sobriety, would John be strong enough to pick up the pieces of the brilliant mind that had fragmented itself in search of the ultimate distraction?
After Harry, and all she'd put him through, could he honestly say he wanted to expend the colossal effort to help someone who, just maybe, didn't want to be helped?
It would hurt like a bitch, he knew. Leaving him would be like carving out a part of his body and leaving it behind, because, technically, he didn't need it to live. But, perhaps, a quick slice would be less painful than watching Sherlock slowly fall back into drugs and ruin and, eventually, death. No, it wouldn't, a voice asserted in the back of his mind. Who are you trying to fool?Yourself? Because it's not working. No, it really wasn't. He couldn't even convince himself for one moment that he'd be able to leave Sherlock. He'd follow this mad man to the end of whatever precipice he ended up on, and either pull him back from the edge, or fall off with him. It was as simple as that.
He sat, numb, still listening for the soft huff of Sherlock's breath for nearly an hour before real life interrupted. His phone chimed from his back pocket and the man in the bed grunted in sleepy annoyance. He glanced at the display quickly before ending the noise by answering the phone. It was Lestrade.
"Tell that arsehole and his arsehole brother that we've arrested the members of the car theft ring."
"What, no hello? No 'How are you, how was your day, nice weather we're having?'. My day's been shit, in case you were wondering."
"Ha! You've had a shit day? You try explaining to the Powers That Be that some knobhead consulting detective has managed to uncover, track and locate a car and drug trafficking ring in less than a day, that you didn't even know existed until an hour ago." John winced in sympathy.
"Right. So you caught them, then?"
"Yeah. Well known troublemakers, most of them. Petty crime stuff, theft, vandalism, a few possession charges. Using the money from stealing posh cars to try and get into the hard drug distribution circles. Fancied making a name for themselves in bulk supply." His exasperation was evident in the curse he bit off. "I shouldn't even be telling you this, you know that? You're not on the case. Sherlock, technically, never was, according to our records. It's only thanks to the tip line that we knew there even was a case. That wanker Mycroft said that they'd have a rendezvous point near an abandoned meat processing plant, something to do with one of them having a cough and dyed hair. Some tip. Sewed the whole case up tight."
He sounded baffled. John could just picture the policeman's face as he leaned back in his cushy office chair, probably exhausted from the spontaneous jump in his workload.
"Lestrade, isn't that hotline supposed to be anonymous?"
"Yeah, well. Nobody else but a Holmes could be that clever, and I've been informed that Sherlock is barely coherent right now, so, my powers of deduction got a bit of a work out. I am good at my damn job, no matter what the almighty Holmes' might think." Damn, he really was in a bad mood. John rarely saw him this riled. He needed another vacation.
"I know you are, Greg. Sherlock does too, he wouldn't work with you otherwise."
" Yeah, yeah. Hey, you alright, by the way? I heard he was banged up a bit, and you sound as tired as I feel."
John was tired, actually. A long shift at the surgery, combined with worry over Sherlock and the fact that he hadn't eaten in nearly 12 hours had left him pretty drained. "I'm fine. Long day, is all."
There was an awkwardly long pause, and John heard the detective clear his throat.
"He was drugged right? His brother told us. I think...I have an idea of what he's like when he's...like that. If it's just like I remember, I know it's hard to see him so," He paused, apparently
searching for the right words. "Out of control." John nearly laughed, but couldn't, not quite. He managed a quick exhalation that made the speaker on his mobile buzz. He felt like he should say something. Anything, to reassure his almost-friend that he was, in fact, okay. Because, he was, really. He just didn't have the words. Lestrade seemed to understand, though. But he couldn't seem to escape the same uncomfortable memories that haunted Mycroft.
"God, the way he was when he first tried to bully his way into a crime scene. Like a living scarecrow with personal space issues. I hated going to his dive of a flat. I kept thinking, one of these days, you'll go to pick him up and he'll have done himself in. Accidentally, or on purpose, I'd never know. I'm glad he proved me wrong in the end. I don't worry about him so much anymore. He's got you."
Lestrade cleared his throat again, clearly embarrassed by the turn this conversation had taken.
"Listen to me, getting all maudlin. I need sleep. I'll see you soon, John."
"See you, Greg. And thanks, really." Lestrade rung off, and Sherlock chose that moment to stir from his deep sleep. His eyes seem to take a long time to focus on John's face, but he seemed a bit more aware than the last time he'd opened them.
He noticed the phone in John's hand and rubbed his eyes roughly.
"Called just now. Found the thieves hide-out. In an old meat factory."
"'Course you did."
Sherlock tried to scowl, but the cut on his lip made him wince. He tried to arrange himself in a better position, but the pain in his ankle must have stopped him, because he fell back against the pillows with a mournful sigh. John took his hand from where it lay, clenched, on the white hospital bed spread. He unfurled it, and, with his blunt finger, he traced lines in the palm of the pale hand. He draw all the constellations he'd had Sherlock learn a few years ago. God knew how he remembered them, but Sherlock had obviously kept them in his Mind Palace, because he smiled slightly, in recognition, and relaxed his hand in John's grip.
The distraction seemed to work, as he fell back to sleep like that, quickly, and completely, unlike his usual self.
John wasn't left alone for too long, however. His phone chimed to announce a text. From Mycroft.
You'll be hearing from the Detective Inspector soon, if you haven't already. Sherlock will be pleased to know that his garbled deductions made their mark sufficiently and that his inability to type in complete sentences while intoxicated did not prevent me from being able to deduce their location. MH.
John snorted. He could just picture Mycroft's eyes rolling at being disturbed by his pesky younger brother and his deplorable grammar.
On second thought, don't. Tell him to call next time, I grow impatient with this texting business. MH.
Which begged the question, why was Mycroft texting now? Did he know that Sherlock would be sleeping by now? That was considerate, if a little bit creepy. One more text came, before John even had a chance to reply to the first one.
And tell him I send my fondest get well wishes, won't you? I doubt he'll believe you, but I do worry. MH
I know. Constantly. JW
Witty as ever, Dr. Watson. Good night. MH
As John gazed down at the sleeping detective, he realized that he didn't feel quite so helpless. He was no longer afraid that Sherlock's fall into ruin, and John's subsequent follow was imminent. A blissfully sleeping Sherlock, or for that matter, a fully awake and aware one, had no idea of the vast support network he'd have to topple in order to destroy himself with drugs.
Greg, who'd been the catalyst for the first detox. Mycroft, who mostly watched from a distance, but was hardly idle. Even Mrs. Hudson, who, at this moment, might be tidying the flat in preparation of her boys' return. God knew, she'd pour on the guilt trip so hard, Sherlock's addiction would cower in the face of her fuzzy-robed wrath.
And John? He'd be there. Through thick and thin. If Sherlock ever splintered and cracked, ever felt the need again to make it all go away with the depression of a plunger into his vein, John would be there. To pick him back up, possibly slap some sense into him. And love him. Love him until he remembered that he didn't need powder to put colour into his life. All he needed was the Work, the cramped flat and a bullet scarred shoulder to lean on. And John could give him that. Every day, as long as he was able, or until they both turned to dust.