Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own Sherlock.
Don't Tell John
Sherlock Holmes was one of the first things John talked about when he had finally had pulled himself together enough to ask Mary out. They had gone to a small Indian restaurant, and during the course of the evening, Mary had realized that a lot of her assumptions about John had been wrong. He wasn't overly shy or bumbling, he wasn't reclusive because of anything like that, he wasn't capricious at all- he was grieving.
By the time they were drinking their espressi, Mary was glad she had accepted his invitation. Initially, she had mostly been curious about him, after working with him for three months and never quite getting the gist of him; he seemed interesting, a welcome distraction from the otherwise somewhat dull routine her life had veered into. She had researched him, of course, had read about his involvement with the famous detective who had died such a gruesome death, but it had not once occured to her how much John was still suffering from it more than a year later.
It became clear that evening, as much as it became clear that she did like him, and vice versa. John confided in her with a despair that seemed to surprise himself, and yet he didn't hold back. They ended up in each other's arms in her car, just holding on tightly, and it had felt right.
And now Sherlock was back. Mary, after the initial shock had worn off, had been intrigued by the man who supposedly was a genius and yet didn't have a clue as to how to deal with emotions. Of course, John had been pigheaded and refused to acknowledge that Sherlock had somehow meant to apologize, but then again, he was hurt on a level Mary had trouble to comprehend. Even after the first few weeks of having Sherlock back, which meant having him in her life as well, she realized just how complicated he was, how unskilful in personal matters.
She also noticed that he was often hiding things, making his interactions with other people an intricate dance consisting of patters only he could foresee. Which was exactly why he had thought he could simply surprise John with his staged return and get away with it, probably even laughing. Well, that had gone wrong on so many levels that in hindsight it was a bit funny, Mary thought.
Right from the start, she surreptitiously watched him rather carefully because she needed to know who she was dealing with. He was the person who was closest to John apart from herself, after all. She hadn't lied to John when she had told him that she liked Sherlock.
After she had met him several more times, she had come to several conclusions.
One: Sherlock wasn't nearly as coldhearted and in control of his own emotions as he liked to pretend.
Two: If left to his own devices for too long, Sherlock tended to do things one might call 'stupid'. He obviously had a history of drug abuse and wasn't a regular eater. Also, he exuded a lot of loneliness.
Three: He was vulnerable, which not only made John vulnerable in turn, but also made her want to protect him, just as she wanted to protect John.
Four: Sherlock was dangerous. No, she corrected herself, he was a potential danger. He'd go to extreme lengths to protect John if need be, which for her meant she'd better not slip up in any way, or underestimate him.
Five: He was lovely. There was no way around it, Sherlock had won her over in practically no time at all, probably without even trying. It was easy to see what John liked about him, despite his frequent complaints.
It was inevitable that all three of them spent time together in one way or another, and Mary liked having Sherlock around. He could be prickly and arrogant and at times a right bastard, but he also was, well, lovely, and even amusing (though he'd probably object). Baker Street was equally fascinating; it was easy to imagine that John had been living there. She assumed it had been much tidier back then, of course, because Sherlock simply didn't seem interested in keeping everything orderly. The living room was cluttered with things, some of them downright bizarre, and one could tell whenever Sherlock had searched through the bookshelves.
At the beginning of December, roughly a month after Guy Fawkes Night, Mary got a text message from the detective one morning.
Are you at the surgery? SH
She frowned, wondering what he might want, and texted back quickly: No, I'm not. Day off. John is, though. Mary x
It didn't take long for Sherlock to respond: I see. Thank you. Don't tell him about this. S
Frowning deeper, Mary called him. It took merely two rings until he picked up, sounding annoyed: "Yes."
"What's up?" Mary asked, not wasting any time with mindless preamble, "are you all right?"
"Yes, fine," he replied, though now she thought his voice had sounded slightly nasal.
"Nothing's wrong. I'm having a bit of a cold, that's all, and Mrs Hudson's not at home. I was wondering whether you'd get me a prescription-"
"So you're not fine."
"I am fine."
"You basically just told me you're too sick to go out and get over-the-counter medication for yourself or even see a doctor. In which way can that be considered as fine?"
Sherlock was silent for a moment. "If I had known you'd be this difficult I wouldn't have contacted you in the first place," he said, sounding petulant.
Mary had to bite back a laugh. "Sherlock," she then said patiently, "can I bring you anything?"
An hour later, Mary rang the doorbell of 221B. Sherlock looked dreadful when he opened the door, and underneath his dressing gown he was wearing what might be counted as pyjamas. He squinted in the light while he let Mary in and didn't protest when she pecked him on the cheek as a means of greeting.
"Since when have you been ill?" she asked as she followed him upstairs, since he didn't walk with his usual spring, surreptitiously supporting himself on the wall and steering right back towards the sofa once they had entered the flat.
"Yesterday," he muttered, leaning back and closing his eyes.
Mary snapped her fingers in front of his face: "If you could focus for a moment, please?"
Sherlock prised his eyes open again and glared at her.
"I came all the way here to help you, so you don't get to act all childish," she reprimanded him, resting the back of her fingers against his temple for a moment: "You should go to bed, Sherlock," she then said, "it's not doing you much good to sleep on the sofa."
Ignoring her remark and leaning away from her touch, Sherlock peered at the bag she had brought, clearly keen on whatever the content.
"Bed," Mary insisted, at which he rolled his eyes, winced a little and slowly unfolded himself from the sofa.
To Mary's surprise, his bedroom wasn't at all the mess she'd anticipated: it was tidy and clean. Interesting.
Sherlock threw his dressing gown on a chair and crawled under the covers with a shiver, pulling the duvet up to his nose.
"I'll make you some tea," Mary offered, at which he huffed: "Won't keep it down. Give me the Ibuprofen you brought."
Mary shook her head: "You won't keep those down either on an empty stomach."
The sigh Sherlock heaved resembled a growl, albeit a miserable one. Mary patted Sherlock's knee through the duvet: "I'll be right back."
Resigning himself to his fate, Sherlock leaned back into the pillows and closed his eyes, listening to the sounds coming from the kitchen. Not the water boiler, so she wasn't making tea. He could hear her opening and closing a few doors and drawers, eliciting a few sounds of disgust in between; right, she had never cooked or actually made tea in 221B before and probably hadn't expected the odd experiment.
When Mary came back in, she was carrying a tray which she carefully set down on the edge of the mattress.
Sherlock regarded the glass she handed him warily until she explained it was water mixed with Ginger Ale, an effective remedy for nausea.
"Did I have Ginger Ale?" he wondered aloud.
"No. You have a container full of what looks like intestines and something which looks like yeast in it's last stages," Mary said, "I brought it."
Fits, Sherlock thought, since she's a nurse. Experienced. Good choice of call.
He managed to keep down the drink and a few crackers Mary insisted he ate and was therefore allowed to swallow some Ibuprofen.
His attempts to get Mary to leave afterwards were unsuccessful, however; she seemed determined to make sure he wasn't going to throw up or even get up again, and remained seated.
Sherlock considered faking sleep, but when he closed his eyes, he realized he wasn't going to need to fake it, since his eyelids felt like lead, and it was a relief to slide down and just let go, whether Mary was there or not.
"Why didn't you call John?" she asked rather unexpectedly, startling Sherlock just as he had been about to doze off.
"Worries too much," he grumbled, not even bothering to open his eyes. "Don't tell him."
"I won't." Her voice was soft, the echo of it melting into the growing darkness in his mind.
Mary regarded the detective: he looked much younger in his sleep; softer, somehow. Of course she knew better than being fooled by something like that, but there was nothing to worry about. Sherlock Holmes might be dangerous, both in all seriousness and the way he could charm people, but she knew how to handle him. Listening to his increasingly deep breaths, she smiled.
She was about to leave when she heard sounds downstairs: it was Mrs Hudson, who had just come home.
"Oh, hello dear," she said, clearly delighted at seeing Mary and equally curious: "Is John with you?"
"No, he isn't. Sherlock's ill, and I just popped round to bring him a few things."
"Oh dear, I hadn't noticed. He was still in bed when I left this morning, but he was up all night. I heard him wandering around." She shook her head.
For a moment, they just looked at each other in sympathy, smiling.
"Would you like to come in for a cuppa?" Mrs Hudson then asked.
"No, thank you, I've got to get going. Oh, and Sherlock didn't want John to know about this."
"About him being ill."
"I see. Huh. He's so strange sometimes, that silly boy." Her voice was full of affection as she said it.
"Yeah, well- I'll be on my way then," Mary said, "See you."
Mrs Hudson watched her go; she had good heart, that Mary. When John had first told her that he had found someone and was going to get married, she hadn't believed it, and she had been ever so surprised it was a woman. She had been so certain it was Sherlock who'd won John's heart. She sighed; well, in a way, he had. And it seems that he had found his way into Mary's as well, which for some reason was a relief. She smiled; she'd look in on Sherlock later on.
Mary indeed did not tell John about Sherlock's call and her subsequent visit. She was used to keeping secrets, after all; juggling one additional one wasn't difficult. She and Sherlock never talked about it either; if anything, it had deepened their mutual understanding, and Mary liked to think that they maybe weren't so different in certain regards.
They certainly weren't so different in preferring to keep some particular things from John, things he'd be happier not knowing.
It was all right, Mary thought; they were doing well, Sherlock and her with John between them. She was convinced they'd keep it that way.
Thank you for reading. Please leave some feedback.