I thank you, most humbly, for the reviews and follows! I have quite a few Sherlock stories that are half-written and stagnating on my laptop, so please let me know which ones you'd like to see next by voting on the poll on my profile page. Here is the aforementioned fluff for your enjoyment. Also, spot the Princess Bride reference. ;)
Chapter 2: Of Lessons Learned
Luckily, Sherlock lived. And rather annoyingly, he had been right about the stages of acute arsenic poisoning, and the amount poison he had unwittingly consumed had not been enough to kill him within only a few hours. Days perhaps, but then that was the reason he had called John downstairs and had him deal with the whole annoying fiasco.
John had given one of the nurses the contaminated cup he had been holding for swabbing, and his hands felt oddly absent without the smooth rounded china in his grasp. He thought a few times about holding the limp hand that lay on the bedcovers instead, just to have something to do with his twitching fingers, but he knew that the action would be completely unappreciated by the owner of said hand, and would probably be viewed as abhorrent and even outright repulsive, maybe warranting a day of abandonment, or a night of screeching violin-playing, as payback for inflicting such vile sentimentality upon his person.
So John settled for putting his hands under his armpits instead.
He leaned forward a little in the hospital chair, blinking owlishly to try and keep himself awake. He was bone-tired. There was a blanket draped around his shoulders and he wasn't quite sure who had put it there. One of the hospital staff no doubt, though he didn't remember when it had happened, he was eternally grateful for the small amount of warmth it provided. He had run out of the flat and into the waiting ambulance in naught but his pyjama bottoms and t-shirt.
He was well aware that he probably looked bloody barmy, but at the moment, he honestly didn't care.
The hospital was awash with rhythmic beeping and voices and shuffling as the morning shift began, and the patients began to awaken. John could hear the wobbly wheels of a breakfast trolley ticker through the corridor and past the doorway behind which he sat, and the odd mingling smell of inedible hospital food wafted between the clinical scents of medicine and bleach.
Sherlock was hooked up to a blood-filtering machine, and his stats looked pretty good for someone who had just nearly killed himself.
He didn't look as pale as before, and John was relieved to see the soft breaths of colour returning to his friend's pallid cheeks. When Sherlock had abruptly lost consciousness in the ambulance, the damned man had definitely knocked a good couple of years off John's lifespan.
Jesus, his flatmate really was an idiot sometimes. He took so much looking after.
At least it hadn't been a suicide attempt. John didn't know if he could handle another of Sherlock's infamous danger nights. They were rare and fleeting and terrifying.
But this hadn't been one, and so he wouldn't dwell on it.
John scrubbed a hand over his face, and cracked a jaw-splitting yawn. It was morning, full-on morning; eight o'clock by his watch. He should probably stay awake now, there was no point in going back to sleep at this hour. He should wait for Sherlock to grumble himself into the waking world, blinking his grey eyes and then rolling them when he noticed that John was at his bedside, and he instantly worked out that John had maintained his position there all night.
He would call John an interfering mother hen. Tell him that his concern was unwarranted and a hospital visit had not been required, surely John had had the means to un-poisoning him back at the flat, and if not he should have procured it from somewhere before resorting to bringing him to his hideous establishment where old people came to die and healthy people came to catch diseases from unhealthy people.
And then John would shout at him. And he would enjoy shouting at him, because Sherlock bloody well deserved it.
And he would possibly get thrown out by a passing nurse for disrupting the ward. But the shouting would make John feel better for harbouring the bad back he had now, thanks to the bowed rear of the chair he had inhabited for the past few hours. And the shouting would also put him under the hopeful delusion that Sherlock would learn from this, and know not to inadvertently poison himself again.
John should stay awake. He should shout.
His eyelids began to droop, and the cover on Sherlock's bed looked a rather inviting place to lay his head.
After the 'tedious Hemodialysis' as Sherlock grumpily put it, the detective was 'resting', more like imprisoned, in a white hospital bed with itchy starchy sheets and growling to himself about not being allowed out of the hospital.
One of Mycroft's hired goons was currently patrolling the corridor outside, poorly disguised as a particularly burly nurse; no doubt his presence was supposed to be a deterrent, and while this normally wouldn't have been enough to impede his escape, Sherlock found himself struggling to stay upright for long enough to leg it out of the room, let alone outwit anyone he came across.
Not that it would take much to outwit that meathead. Merely reciting the alphabet to him would have the idiot scratching his head. Sherlock grumbled, huffing out a breath so that one curled lock of damp dark hair wafted up in front of his face, buoyed by the indignant breath.
No. He was stuck here, and was somehow finding himself blaming John for the bulk of his misery. John had brought him here after all. And now he was keeping him in place, albeit, unknowingly.
John had fallen asleep, half in the uncomfortable grey plastic visitor's chair beside the bed, his head resting on Sherlock's bedcovers and one hand flung out awkwardly across the detective's knees. Effectively, trapping the detective in place. It was much more efficient than a handcuff would have been, Sherlock had to admit. He could probably slide out, if he was very careful, but then he might awaken John and have to suffer his wrath. It was much more daunting than picking a handcuff lock, or practicing his Houdini skills with other hospital restraints they had used on him in the past.
Sherlock twitched his fingers irritably, wondering what to do. No one had ever sat so vigilantly by his bedside before. It unnerved him.
He didn't know what to do, so for once, he did nothing.
Sherlock didn't move the offending arm, and when Mycroft had pointed it out with a small smirk, leaning on his umbrella and raising his eyebrows at the sentimentality of such a thing, Sherlock had argued hotly that he hadn't wanted to touch it and possibly encourage or upset the doctor further, not that it was any of Mycroft's business. And what was he even doing here, anyway? Would he kindly - "Get out!" Sherlock hissed through his teeth.
"As you wish." Mycroft said softly, amicably. His eyes held a hint of warning though, as they always did whenever Sherlock got himself into a situation that could have been avoided if he had only had the foresight.
Sherlock hated that look. It was full of smug superiority, and reminded him of when they were younger, and Sherlock had taken to climbing the trees of their old garden. He had broken his arm because of a slight miscalculation of the height of the next branch and the one he was currently occupying. He hadn't fallen, really. He'd meant to jump, and had certainly not been startled by a nearby blackbird. But Mycroft had insisted that he had, and Mother had believed him. Because Mycroft was evil and cunning and manipulative and Sherlock wished he would leave because his mere presence somehow managed to ruin absolutely everything.
"Though do let the good doctor take care of you…" Mycroft continued, "Seeing as you are incapable of looking after yourself."
Sherlock, not wanting to shout because that might awaken the snoring doctor - not because he cared, but because John would be more annoying awake than asleep and would no doubt give him a berating for being so careless with his casual misplacement of poisons - had reached around and thrown a pillow straight at his elder brother's face.
Mycroft hadn't managed to dodge it in time, the aim was true despite Sherlock's shaking fingers, but he brought his umbrella up in a clean arc and batted the pillow aside in a swift repartee. The elder Holmes was never very good at sports, but he had excelled at fencing. It was just his sort of uppity rule-based non-exercise that he enjoyed. Sherlock made a rather rude gesture with his fingers because he was feeling childish and no one could quite piss him off as much as Mycroft could.
Mycroft stepped lightly out of his room, still smiling, and Sherlock could hear his expensive shoes tapping on the floor of the hallway before the door swung shut and muffled their steady retreat.
Sherlock had procured his laptop from a distraught and sniffling Mrs. Hudson, before waving the woman off with assurances of his fine-ness and insistence that she would wake up John with all her inane blubbering if she tarried any longer. And besides which, he needed her to keep an eye on the experiments he had neglected in the kitchen lest they eat through the floorboards. She had quickly headed back to the flat at that, hoping to save her ceiling from falling down.
Sherlock grinned, vampirishly.
His face was lit up with the glow of the computer screen as he flicked idly through the webpages and it may have been the light which finally roused the good doctor from his slumber.
John woke up with a half-snore, sitting abruptly upright before blinking a few times, remembering where he was, and clearing his throat.
He noticed Sherlock and instantly became more awake, back straightening with military precision. "What are you doing?" He asked, his voice gravelly from sleep, but still ringing with the authority of a trained army medic. "You're supposed to be resting."
"Yes, well. You were doing more than enough of that for the two of us, John." Sherlock muttered distractedly. He looked up for a moment, taking in the worried, tired countenance of his only true friend in the world, and felt an odd coiling in his stomach that had nothing to do with the recently ingested poison. John always made him feel odd. It wasn't entirely unpleasant. "I'm ordering some new beakers; we never seem to have enough of them in the kitchen."
John gave him a small smile that twitched the corners of his lips. He had rightly supposed that was all the apology Sherlock was going to give him. Well, Sherlock was still adamant that it hadn't been entirely his fault, though perhaps he would indeed store poisons differently in future experiments, if only to save himself from a tedious stay at the hospital.
The buying of new equipment was a necessary compromise of sorts, and one that wasn't too far a stretch of his abilities to undertake. Sherlock hadn't learned that he could be wrong, but only that John could, sometimes, be right.
He was amazed that his flatmate hadn't just bellowed at him for being an idiot, but then, he was still quite lethargic. The shorter man was blinking far too much, movements uncoordinated, and cheek sporting the creased imprint of the blanket he'd slept on.
"Go back to sleep John." Sherlock said.
The good doctor folded his arms, leaning back in that ghastly hospital chair with a little squeak as the legs shifted on the tiles. He sighed through his nose, as he was prone to do when both tired and perturbed by something. "Only if you do." He said, blue eyes holding Sherlock's with familiar defiance.
Sherlock pressed his lips into an irritated line. A ridiculous proposition. He wasn't tired, honestly. The website had not been flickering oddly in front of his eyes at all. His thoughts were certainly not trudging through his brain as though it his synapses were made of fudge. Not in the slightest. But John needed the sleep, otherwise he would be even grumpier, and a grumpier John often led to a grumpier Sherlock.
Self-interest demanded he look after his flatmate to look after himself.
It was only logical.
Decision made, Sherlock clicked the laptop shut and tossed it haphazardly to the side, punching the remaining pillow – his other still on the floor from when he had inadvertently flung it at Mycroft – and shimmying into a more comfortable position. He did his best to ignore John's slightly shocked expression at his request for sleep being granted.
"You haven't shouted at me." Sherlock told John once he was settled, his eyebrows raising in slight query. It wasn't that he particularly wanted to be shouted at, but he had been expecting the outcome, and its lack of an appearance was a little worrisome. Any break in his deductive reasoning was cause for concern. Perhaps he had simply misjudged John's fondness for him.
"No." said John, a yawn cutting him off halfway through the word. He was still in his pyjamas, and someone had given him a well-worn hospital blanket, which he snuggled into, trying to find a comfy position on the oddly angular seat and failing.
Sherlock regarded him quietly, curiously, reclined as he was in the bed covers. "Why not?" he asked.
John scooted his chair forward, and took up his previous stance, elbows crossed on the covers, head resting on them. He was to the left of Sherlock's legs, far away enough to not be too intrusive.
Not that Sherlock minded. He surprised himself by how much he didn't mind the doctor's continued presence at his side. After all, he had thrown his own brother out within a few scarce seconds of him stepping into the room. But then again, Mycroft's company was purely abysmal.
John's was… not.
"You're still sick, Sherlock." John mumbled into the covers. "And I'm tired. I'll shout at you later. Promise."
"Oh." Said Sherlock, burying his head into his pillow and inhaling the odd clinical scent there. It was oddly comforting, the smell of chemicals, and the warmth of his only friend nearby. Not entirely unpleasant at all. His eyes slipped shut, and so did John's. "Good." He said.