The Glass Heart
By GE Waldo
Pairing: Holmes/OMC (sort of; a bit of non-con) and Holmes/Watson (sort of). While respecting cannon, I've taken this in a bit of a different direction than the series intended. I'm new to the Sherlock world, so forgive if my characterizations might be off a bit. Still learning.
Summary: Slightly AU (In this universe Irene Adler and Moriarty are dead for sure and the story is set during a time of limbo after Sherlock is back from the dead but before Watson and Mary's wedding. Duration: several months at least).
Hearts are made of glass,
someone once said.
Careful how you hold them,
or wind you up dead!
(Holmes has a murder case that turns out to be much more than he bargained for, and a heart case that has him whirling but it's not what you might think).
Disclaimer: Not mine but a fantasy never hurt anyone.
Watson noted the locked stare of his associate Sherlock Holmes' eyes and was as ever locked in them himself. Even, perfectly browed, astonishingly intelligent and shockingly beautiful eyes the colour of a spring rain. Eyes in that moment staring unblinkingly on a glass with its amber stain of left-over whisky within. "Yes..?" Watson, despite his partner's effortless ability to infuriate him, was also deeply fascinated by the man. "Sherlock..?"
So heavily taken by the tall slender detective in fact that he still spent an exorbitant amount of time at Sherlock Holmes' flat about which Mary teased unendingly, tossing about airy implications of him having a secret love affair with the good looking brunette. A taunt to which John Watson replied with his habitual scoff chased with an easy and affectionate smile.
For of course he knew he spent far too much time with Sherlock rather than with his intended - Mary. After cases, in between cases, after work, often dropping in for a sniffer of Scotch or a tall, ice-cold beer which Sherlock kept on hand for him in his refrigerator along with an ever changing assortment of non-food items (organic yes but nothing anyone would want to eat); all being Sherlock's' latest experiments starring various cadaver parts in the central role.
But Sherlock Holmes was already off, or his mind was, deep in thought, no doubt organising the facts gathered thus far into a web within his palatial brain, weaving them into the trap that would in good time catch their killer unawares.
John Watson, a square, strongly built blonde; a good looking specimen himself (at least Mary thought so), indulged himself in quiet observation of his flat-mate. Sherlock Holmes, the younger of the Holmes brothers had inherited the looks of "a god" as not a few women (and a good number of men) had stated to him – carefully out of earshot of the object of their admiration. Futile attempts to keep their thoughts secret because Holmes' ears were frightfully keen and the man was fairly adept at reading lips to boot.
Watson frowned over the question. Well then was Sherlock good looking? Watson considered it. By the number of women once introduced and who had then practically swooned in a faint, he had to admit that the man was considered by, well, most of them, to be "gorgeous". But what was it about him that turned half the populace of London into simpering idiots?
Oh the man's mind had to be much of the draw, Watson decided. Sherlock was very intelligent – not just intelligent, no. Sherlock Holmes was on the burning hot sun measure of absolutely brilliant. He regularly put other so-named brilliant men and women in their places oft and swiftly enough so as to have caused regular apoplectic eruptions of irritation where-ever he went and so in addition to those who swooned most also hated him straight away. Yes, that was the mental and emotional - if Sherlock had an emotional side - of him. Watson was certain Holmes did possess an emotional side. Knew in fact that he did, but it was a side of himself the detective loathed to admit to or discuss other than to scorn and dismiss it outright whenever it came up in conversation.
But the physical side of his friend was what Watson was now contemplating. Sherlock was tall, but not so tall as to stand out in a crowd. He was a few millimeters shy of six foot but he seemed taller, particularly when he was busy dressing someone down good and proper. His thick, wavy head of black hair completed the appearance of extra height without there in fact being any. His long, slender face matched well his long slender build. But Sherlock was not skinny. Wiry was a word that comfortably fit. Watson wasn't sure if Sherlock worked out or not but he appeared fit enough, adorned with the smooth, long muscles of a man who was in constant motion in body as well as in mind.
Watson doubted Sherlock slept more than four hours a night and that was when things were going well and the man was not worried about anything in particular (other than solving whatever current case sat before him), and eating regularly. His nose was straight and not too long and his chin neither spaded nor cut off at the jowls - if Sherlock had sported jowls of any description which he did not.
When unhurried by crime Sherlock kept himself closely shaved and neatly dressed – inevitably in black trousers, white shirt with no tie and his signature long dark coat that gave him the appearance of a bit of an eccentric. Watson smiled wryly to himself. If only they knew.
But was Sherlock good looking? Handsome?
Watson felt he was not one to make the determination. Tastes varied widely of course and he liked to think that he, at this time or that, had made a few women swoon. Perhaps he was no Casanova but neither had he been short on weekend dates either, back when he was still dating.
Now he had Mary.
Sherlock didn't have anyone, at least not anyone that he would admit to. To Watson's knowledge he had never dated or asked anyone out to dinner or to a movie. Holmes had offered neither wine nor beer to any visiting female whose eye turned his way and lingered. Watson could recall no incident in which Sherlock spoke about romance or love other than in the analytical sense. The man distained all human emotions labelling them as the weaknesses of common humanity and outright caring was not in his nature, at least not so it was obvious to anyone but his closest companions.
Watson smiled to himself. These were conclusions that did not shake his belief that somewhere deep down the man did have a heart; it was simply of a different sort than most. Even Mycroft admitted to ignorance of his little brother's affections or what his heart might say. Should in a future day someone find the key to it, open it wide and discover its secrets Watson hoped he'd be there to witness it.
His friend finally cocked his head, inclining one delicately carved ear his way. Even in the small aspects of the physical man, God had been particular. "Hmm?"
"What about the tumbler?"
"You see it, Watson. Tell me what you observe."
Watson knew this game, and he had become quite adept at it. "I see a whisky glass with the dried remnant of alcohol inside..." He reached to touch it and mid-reach was intercepted by Sherlock holding out one of his many white paper kerchiefs that he kept stuffed in his pockets.
"Caution, John, though I believe the killer would have been wise enough to wear gloves, as Lestrade's team has located no obvious fingerprints yet –which is strange don't you think? The occupant the flat certainly would not wear gloves in his own home and yet thus far the forensics people have only located smudges. Our killer wore gloves and wiped or washed away all other evidence he or she might have left behind. I find that interesting – what would anyone leave behind other than prints or glove smudges? Boot prints? Laughable. Remarkably it has not rained in days so there was no moisture to transfer to the floors or carpet. A scrap of fabric perhaps? None found so far."
He sniffed the air. "And yet cleaning was obviously done very recently to this flat, in the last ten hours I would say, and judging by the slovenly appearance of our victim and the general state of untidiness of the flat it was not the dead man who cleaned, and besides who would scrub a floor but neither tidy the dishes nor the straighten the bed? Still there may be a print lingering here and there most notably on the glass of whisky that our dead tenant poured for himself last night. Use this." Sherlock placed the kerchief within snatching distance of Watson's right hand.
Watson's eyes fell briefly to his friend as his mind caught up sorting out all that had been spoken in one miraculous single breath over the dead man that lay at Sherlock's feet, sprawled on his big stomach, his stained tee-shirt disheveled and his rumpled jeans stretched to the limit across an ample waist.
Watson accepted the kerchief and took the glass up to sniff it, carefully holding it with one finger on its bottom and one gingerly on the glass's edge. "Scotch whisky, drunk last night, as you say. And by the clouding on the inner side, I'd say the glass had been nearly full."
"Or, again to be imprecise, partly empty. It was in fact four-fifths full and what conclusions about the victim to you draw from that?"
"He was an alcoholic, but that's easy enough to see by the broken capillaries on his cheeks and nose suggesting long term alcohol abuse. He was most likely the one who drank the whisky."
"That and thrusting his snout into the food trough too often suggests a man who over-indulged in both on a regular basis. What else?"
Watson turned the glass and then spotted it. "Hmm. A heart, faint now, drawn with a finger when the glass was cold, when it still had condensation on it."
"When there was ice in the glass. When was the last time you doodled a heart Watson?"
He set the glass down. "Can't remember. Probably never."
"Yes because women doodle little hearts on things, especially those in love who doodle them on everything. Was our killer a woman and if so was she in love with the victim or had she been at once time and if she was no longer in love which is of course suggested by his being dead, then why doodle the heart at all?"
One of Lestrade's men, a tall, ocher coloured man with short cropped black hair and brown eyes, came over and picked up the glass with his sterile-gloved hand. "Maybe she was in love with herself? Or in love with killing? Hello, I'm Officer Straite - Rupert Straite. Good to meet you both." He held out his hand for Sherlock to shake. Watson took the offered appendage in his own fingers and shook, saving Sherlock the bother. He probably wouldn't have at any rate. "John Watson and this is Sherlock Holmes."
The man seemed pleased and a tad uncomfortable beneath Sherlock's scrutiny. "You're the consulting detectives. Glad to meet you. I've heard a lot about you Mister Holmes." His slim, muscular build and colouring suggested a Middle Eastern background, at least in part, while his accent Watson was unable to pin down to any region. It was lilting with perhaps a touch of brogue, and yet indeterminate.
"No doubt and what about your previous statement? Serious or making a lame attempt at humour?"
Now the man appeared uncomfortable. "Or, er, never mind, just making conversation."
Watson was curious which put-down Sherlock would decide upon but instead he said "A good question."
Watson now wondered if Sherlock was being sincere or if he was just trying to slip a dab of politeness into his usual acerbic manner, the former a quality which Watson had been attempting to pound into the man since the day they met, with limited success.
With surprising dexterity for such thick fingers the muscle bound fellow tucked the glass away in a zip-locked evidence bag and taped it shut. He nodded to them and walked away, scribbling something on the label.
Watson turned his attention back to his friend. "So you think the killer was a woman. He's older," He said nodding to the victim on the floor, "But he's a big man so it's doubtful she could over-power him. So maybe poison?"
"The lab shall tell us that soon enough."
"So lunch then? There's little else we can here."
Sherlock merely nodded. "I'll meet you at the cafe." But he continued to stare at the soiled carpet, his fingers steeple-ed, his manner suggesting anything but a hungry detective intent on lunch.
Watson turned away and then back. "Sherlock...?"
Sherlock slipped his hand into his coat pocket and joined him, all but leaping from the stiff Chesterfield, his energy coiled and ready to strike. Watson was glad a case had come their way. His friend had been altogether too distracted of late.
Ever since Irene Alder had been killed.
Watson glanced toward the cafe door when the bell chimed someone's entrance. He was not surprised to see Lestrade enter with two of his police fellows and walk toward them. "Holmes."
Holmes was finishing a cup of freshly brewed tea. One of his two sausage rolls lay undisturbed. Watson reminded himself to be glad that the man had at least eaten one of them. He turned at his name. "Inspector."
Lestrade, a man of little wit but sharp senses (sharp enough to know when to call in Sherlock Holmes to a crime scene), and an untidy mop of salt and pepper hair held out his right palm. "Let's have it."
At Holmes' hesitation Lestrade's hand grew impatient and gestured with a few jerks of his cupped fingers. "You were seen, Sherlock. Come on give-it-up."
Holmes rolled his eyes and retrieved from his pocket whatever Lestrade had come looking for. Watson had expected a small scrap of paper with writing on it, or a women's blouse button or perhaps a monogrammed lapel pin.
Lestrade stared at the object in his hand. "What the blazing hell is this?"
Holmes was as calm as a sail on a windless day. "What does it look like Inspector?"
Lestrade looked at the man cock-eyed. "I bloody well know what it looks like, it's a condom!"
Holmes went back to his tea. "And inside you'll find your evidence. I assure you it has not been contaminated. I use a non-spermicidal brand and it is perfectly sterile."
Lestrade looked a man of temporary indecision. "But it's a...a condom."
Holmes appeared a little confused by the Inspector's reaction. "Yes. And inside is the item you came for. Once your lab tech's fail to find anything would you mind very much returning it to me, it would be most appreciated as I'm sure you'll agree I will achieve far better results retrieving anything from it than your tech's assuming there is anything to retrieve."
"You're...you're bloody incorrigible, Holmes. D'you know that? Bloody. Well. In. Corrigible!"
Lestrade finally clamped shut his hanging open mouth, curtly nodded and turned away. He snapped a finger to his two fellows who moved passed their tiny table, the second one bringing up the rear, the officer they had met at the dead man's flat.
Watson heard words drift over to them he was sure from the mouth of the second man. "Bloody gorgeous..."
But he wasn't certain. "Okay, I have to ask: why do you use condoms instead of evidence bags?"
"I only use them for the pieces of evidence I personally wish to examine."
"The pieces you thieve from the crime scene, yes."
"As they would be returned, ergo not theft – borrowing."
"But why condoms?"
"They're sterile and they do the job."
"So do plastic bags. Why condoms?" Watson leaned over the table. "Have you met someone?"
"Don't be absurd. Condoms are small and they fit in my pockets easily, that is the why I use them."
Watson wasn't quite sure he believed his friend. "Hmph."
"The very idea that I have met anyone. Of course I've met someone. I've met fourteen someone's today although the dead one did not introduce himself."
"You know I mean a romantic someone."
"Preposterous. I am quite content to remain as I am."
Watson immediately thought of Mary waiting for him, and soon they would be together in what would soon be their shared home. Eventually they would get married and maybe even children would come along. And what would Sherlock do with his life? Probably what he was already doing now. Watson could hardly imagine him doing anything else. Sherlock Holmes becoming a domesticated male going off to work every morning with a bus ticket and a lunch box? That was preposterous.
"So what now?" Watson asked.
"Now we wait for the forensic results. There is little else to do at present."
"We could talk to relatives."
"Lestrade's people can do the door knocking on this one. I suspect it will not be a difficult case."
"So you think a jealous lover or just an angry one?"
Sherlock did not answer directly, merely shook his head a bit. "And what have you and Mary planned for this weekend?"
Watson jumped at the chance to use Sherlock's own game in reverse. "Why don't you tell me detective?"
Seven seconds this time. That's how long it took his friend's sharp eyes to look him over and draw his conclusions which he presented in a single breath. The man's lung capacity must be astounding. He might have been an Olympic swimmer.
"I should say a picnic." Sherlock began and then provided all the details that made listening to the man explain his methods an on-going pleasure and surprise. "Your right thumb is stained with a remnant of mustard and there is a distinct odor of vinegar-ed dressing and sulphur on your breath suggesting you made sandwiches with egg salad before you left home, tasting them as well. On the floor at the side of our table there is a liquor receipt for white wine which you purchased yesterday and which fell out of your pocket when you retrieved your phone. You spoke of the beef wellington you had for dinner and red goes with beef much better than white so I surmise the white is for a different occasion - in this case a picnic.
"You are also wearing your older jeans suggesting you plan to sit on the ground or somewhere equally uncomfortable today. Plus yesterday you were looking up today's weather forecast in the paper. Lastly and not least Mary has texted you twice with possible locations." At Watson's insulted look, "I read upside-down as easily as I do right-side up Watson, as you know."
Watson nodded. Of course the bastard was right. "Picnics are nice. Green trees, sandwiches, wine, kids and dogs running up and down on green grass."
"Biting insects, tasteless fare, screaming babies, the smell of urine soaked diapers in the air and wine that has soured in the sunshine."
Watson then recalled his and Mary's last picnic. Much of what Sherlock had just pointed out was correct. Something always seemed to taint the anticipated good time. But whatever, as long as Mary was there. Suddenly he was irritated with his flat-mate. "Well at least I'm going ahead with my life."
"Your implication is that my life is at a stand-still."
"Of course, not a stand-still, that's not what I meant."
"And by saying "going ahead" that is an implication that you were standing still with me."
Watson suddenly felt a bit of a fool. His life had begun with Sherlock, his new, rejuvenated life. A crazy life, full of twists and danger and risk, and countless days of mind-bending intrigue.
Sherlock almost died once. And he himself injured more than once. No, life had not been at a stand-still. It had been full steam ahead and to hell with the danger. "Sherlock. You gave me a new life when I came back from the war. I really didn't mean it that way."
"If that is an apology I accept it." Sherlock did not look at him when he spoke the second time. "And now your life shall continue with Mary. You are dating her quite regularly."
Watson frowned. "But that doesn't mean that it stops with you. I'll still be around. We'll continue the hunt."
Sherlock looked at him with mild amusement. "With Mary's approval of course."
"Well naturally I'll have to discuss it with her but I see no reason why she would protest. She's met you – she actually likes you, and I'm still my own man."
"Yes." Watson insisted. "Come on," He flashed his friend a lopsided grin. "You must admit you found her pretty cool."
"She is...agreeable." Sherlock conceded.
Watson sighed. "My god you've never even said that about me so I suppose coming from you that's high praise."
It was Sherlock's turn to frown. "I have said as much."
Watson shook his head.
"Over the years, I've complimented you."
He shook it again with more emphasis.
"From time to time."
"Never." Watson said shrugging his shoulders. He'd come to accept Sherlock's eccentric and intellectually selfish ways, he supposed it had become habit. "Excluding those times I reminded you of my contribution and then you might offer some back-handed comment about my abilities to state the obvious or that my "average brain" spurs yours on to greater heights."
Sherlock paused in his thoughts, at least Watson assumed he paused, it seemed rather unlikely he decided. What was really happening was Sherlock's mind was spinning with their shared history, going over each and every case in a practical instant, searching for evidence to either corroborate or contradict Watson's assertion. "Perhaps you're correct. I shall endeavour to correct my oversight in the future."
"That's all I ask."
Sherlock abandoned his cooling tea with a twist of his lip. Cold tea was abhorrent. "And now we have much to discuss-"
But Watson looked at his watch. "Sorry, we'll have to discuss later, I've got to meet Mary in half an hour." He looked at Sherlock expectantly. "But tomorrow...?"
Sherlock merely nodded. "Fine, go to your picnic of ants and screaming babies, I am sure our killer will oblige us by waiting to kill again until your delicate heart is satiated by love and I mean that in the best possible sense."
"There is no 'best possible' in those words."
"I tried. Tomorrow then?"
He'd tried...Watson frowned but felt no anger. Sherlock was who he was and that was a man who stood alone in a sea of human emotions all slopping all over the place and him as dry as a desert weed, a little frown on his face, numerous questions buzzing around in his mind but loathe to ask them.
Other than to his flat-mate when a private moment presented itself. Human nature was the one discipline out of all in which Sherlock was expert where his brain deserted him. Such a brilliant mind and yet, it sometimes seemed, little else.
Suddenly - "Have you ever had someone Sherlock?" Watson asked, knowing they had gone over this ground here and there, but never in depth, before. "I mean ever?" Rumours abounded that Holmes was, by all definitions, a virgin but he was – what? – twenty-eight years old? Twenty-eight and no one had ever touched him? It seemed impossible.
Sherlock managed to once again not huff at the impertinent question. "We've discussed this before."
"Not really. I discussed, you never gave me a straight answer."
"Yes I did."
"I am...content with my own company."
"Said to his flat-mate of two years. Still not a straight answer."
Sherlock sighed heavily, rolling his eyes. "If I submit and tell you will you please go off on your horrid picnic and leave me be about it?"
"Agreed but-" Watson raised a finger of warning. "-I want a straight answer and the truth."
Sherlock looked away and back while his right fingers disturbed a crumpled napkin, rendering it down to a wrinkled pulp. "To use your words I did "have someone", but that person has been taken from me."
Watson felt like a fool, of course - Irene Alder. He had not thought Sherlock all that serious about her as a possible partner, but perhaps he had read the situation all wrong? Sherlock had seemed quite taken by her, at least her mind and cunning. He admired those whose intellect nearly equalled his own, and the man spoke such praise about no one save the rarest of individuals. Mycroft and Moriarty to name the two. But Irene had come close to besting him in their little game of crime, hunt and punishment, so ultimately had there been more to it than admiration?
But he supposed the question was moot now. Irene was dead and Sherlock, an intensely private man, was alone in the world once more. "Sorry. I didn't mean to pick at an old wound."
Sherlock stared, his eyes open and honest. He spoke softly, almost kindly. "You didn't. Tomorrow then?"
Watson nodded. "Bright and early."
They left the cafe' and turned in opposite directions on the pavement, Watson toward the street and a cab, and Sherlock towards 221B and home.
Only neither one made it to their destination as the cab Watson hailed with a wave of his arm changed lanes and approached him picking up speed. Watson just had time to dive out of the way as the black vehicle jumped the pedestrian walk-way and headed straight for the cafe in front of which still stood Sherlock in his long black coat, just taking his first steps down the street and toward home.
When he heard the roaring engine and heard Watson's shout of warning he dove away and tried to roll out of the danger zone.
And he would have made it had the cabbie's front bumper not snagged his coat and whipped him around like a rag doll, dragging him through the cafe window on its insane course, overturning tables and chairs while people screamed as they scrambled to get out of the way. The cab finished its journey in a chaos of smoke and spewing gas by the rear kitchen counter.
In a flurry of limbs, Watson climbed over broken furniture and sprawled bodies, trying to get to his friend. He found Sherlock beneath an over-turned table with broken legs. Watson, ever the doctor, first took his pulse and finding it a bit fast but there, and then he screamed for someone to call for an ambulance.
He sat by his friend as his doctor's experienced hands moved automatically over Sherlock's prone body, checking for obvious breaks or other trauma. There could be broken ribs, a punctured lung, a concussion, perhaps internal bleeding...
He had not directly observed the impact, but only caught a glimpse of Sherlock being dragged inside the broken windows of the cafe', his black coat folding around him like a shroud.
Where was that bloody ambulance?!
"Watson I assure you I'm fine."
Watson did not release his hold on Sherlock's elbow as he steered him up the stairs of 221B. "Two cracked ribs and a concussion is not "fine". You were bloody well hit by a car yesterday and you're damn lucky I agreed to your release from the hospital."
"I'm injured, not broken. Stop treating me like I'm an invalid."
"Don't push me or I'll make you into a better invalid." Finally they reached the top of the stairs and Misses Hudson was there to greet them. One look at the black and purple bruising on Sherlock's left cheek and she twittered. "Oh you poor dear! Sit down, Sherlock." She fussed with a cushion at his back as Sherlock eased what Watson knew had to be aching bones and muscles into his padded chair by the fire.
Misses Hudson threw Watson a pained and sorrowful look. "Take care of him while I make him some tea." And she went off to do what she saw was her duty to her oddest but longest and most cherished tenant. In her way Misses Hudson had to all intents and purposes adopted them both.
Sherlock stretched out his long legs, trying to ignore the deep ache in his side.
Watson was not fooled for a second. He shook out two of the pills the Hospitalist had prescribed and handed them to Sherlock. "I'll get you some water and if you stuff those down the cushions I'll find out and force them down your throat myself."
Sherlock feigned shock. "You must have been at the top of your class – in Sadism."
Watson opened a faucet and filled a glass. "Just stop talking and rest."
"I don't have time to rest. We have a case."
"Sherlock, I have a gun."
"Which you've never used on me. Nor will you now."
"You're awfully cocky for a man with broken ribs and a bump on his head the size of a boiled egg."
"Bruised ribs, bruised not broken and my head feels..." Sherlock made a motion to stand and got half way to his feet before they gave out and he had to fall back into the chair again. "...fine."
"Cracked ribs Sherlock which is - in the medical community of which I am a significant part and you are not - another way of saying broken."
"Here I sit while a killer goes free. This is outrageous." But he held a fist to his aching head. Watson put the glass into his other hand. "Put the pills in your mouth and drink this."
Sherlock raised eyes full of pain to his doctor friend but still he did not drink. Watson sighed. "Sherlock, please just this once admit to human frailty and take the damn pills. Trust me please, as your doctor, to know better."
He swallowed the pills and drank down the water. Watson watched from the opposite chair as fifteen minutes later the colour began to return to his friend's face. "Better?"
Sherlock answered quietly. "Yes." He seemed sincere.
Watson was gratified to see Sherlock's eyes dropping a bit, though the man was still fighting it. "Do me another favour?"
Sherlock looked across at his friend. "Of course."
"Go to sleep."
Sherlock sighed, finally nodding that to fight against some recuperation time was only delaying his getting well and he acceded. He held out one long fingered hand to his friend. "Would you mind...?"
Watson took it and helped the injured man to his feet, down the hallway and seated him on his unmade bed. Misses Hudson had taken to making it for him almost daily, but the shock of the phone-call from John about Sherlock's injuries had sent her scurrying off to market for heating pads, ointments and the like. "Do you need help...?" Watson gestured as Sherlock began to unbutton his shirt.
"I shall manage to undress myself, thank you John."
John. Watson hated to admit how much it warmed him whenever Sherlock used his first name. "Call me if you need anything."
Unlacing and kicking off his shoes, Sherlock decided to leave his pants on and lay down, easing his aching bones into the softness of his bed. "Yes."
Watson watched him from the door until he could hear from his friend the slower and deeper breaths of slumber. "Anytime."
Sherlock awoke hours later to the sound of someone in the kitchen, washing dishes and putting them away. He could smell freshly made tea and some concoction of what he assumed was soup that rather turned his stomach. It was Watson playing doctor again.
There was a knock at the door and he heard Watson's soft shoes walk over to answer it. Voices talked in low tones. He heard Watson say something to the effect of "try not to tire him please." and then there were boots that did not belong to Watson coming down the hallway, stopping outside his door.
A head poked itself into the room. "Mister Holmes?"
Within what seemed only a moment Straite returned to the kitchen and said to Watson. "I'm afraid he's drifted off, doctor. At any rate he's got the evidence he wanted. I left by his bedside so I'll be off now. Good day to you."
Watson saw him to the door. "Thank you Officer. Give our regards to Lestrade."
"Certainly I will. And please offer Mister Holmes our warmest wishes for his recovery."
Watson nodded "Of course." and closed the door behind him, turning the lock. No more intrusions for tonight, he decided. Sherlock needed his rest.
"You must have slept the sleep of the dead." Watson observed as Sherlock entered the kitchen the next morning. His colour was better and was stronger on his feet, even though he still did have one arm protectively wrapped around the left side of his rib cage. "A good rest'll do that."
Sherlock took a seat. "Have you made coffee?"
In answer Watson set a cup down on the tiny kitchen table beside a plate of buttered toast. A small jar of Misses Hudson's preserves sat nearby. "Two cream, no sugar."
Sherlock inhaled the delightful fluid agreeably and took a sip, then grimaced. The meds were making short work of his taste buds and he abandoned the cup regretfully. "Did you not go home last night Watson?"
"Um, this is my home. I haven't been spending that much time over there. We missed our picnic of course but Mary was all right with it. I told her what happened, she's worried."
"You stayed up all night?"
"Yes. I needed to make sure you were going to sleep properly, don't worry I'm fine."
Sherlock shifted in his seat, hissing as shifting was not easing the ache in his side. "It did not occur to me to worry. Now as to the case-"
"Oh, right. Straite came by and left that evidence you wanted back."
Sherlock paused for an instant, but not so small an instant that Watson did not notice it. "You were probably asleep. He left it by your bedside." Watson said by way of explanation.
"Oh, good." Sherlock said. "When was that exactly?"
"Half past ten."
"I'm fairly certain I was not asleep."
Watson pointed a stern finger at the toast. "I checked after you. I'm a doctor, trust me, you were out cold."
Sherlock picked up a crust and nibbled at it. The sudden taste of food suddenly woke up his appetite and he chewed appreciatively. But he declined the fruit spread when Watson pointed it out as well.
"Sunday you shall seek out Lestrade and determine what – if anything – he has coughed up by way of an investigation and I will discover all there is to discover of the evidence again in my possession."
Watson let his scrub brush fall into the soapy water. "It is already tomorrow, Sherlock. You slept through the night. Today is Sunday and I doubt Lestrade will be in. Besides I promised I'd make yesterday up to Mary today. She dropped in with some fresh orange juice for you which, by the way, I expect you to drink."
"But you said Lestrade sent Straite over which means Lestrade is on duty."
"That was last night."
Sherlock appeared a trifle confused and to Watson it was firm confirmation that his friend was in no shape to go traipsing off anywhere. "I think you've lost a day because of that bump on your head."
Sherlock tenderly fingered the bandage wrapped around his scalp. It still stung. And yes the bump was significant. "At least will you fill me in on what was wrong with the cab driver."
"He ran off before the police could question him."
Watson glanced around and saw that his quick explanation was not sufficient to quell his friend's hungry mind. "And no, the cab company does not know who it was. The regular driver was off sick, and their records are sketchy."
"The explanation is simple; the regular cabbie paid an acquaintance to do his shift for him. The regular driver is at home suffering from a twenty-four ounce 'flu. It would be an easy matter to confirm but the cab company's boss is a personal friend of the regular driver and does not wish to fire him. The acquaintance needed the cab money but he was offered something extra by someone unknown to try and run us down and of course this suggests something..." Sherlock prompted.
Watson shook his head. "I imagine it does except you need to put that restless mind on hold for a few days and let the police handle it. The substitute driver was probably drunk, it's a chronic problem among cabbies and that is probably why he ran."
"Perhaps but you fail to see the real reason why the driver tried to run us down -"
"You keep saying tried. This was an accident by a drunk."
"A fairly specific accident, he killed two people but not his target."
"Meaning you?" Watson sat down by his friend, rested his elbows on spread knees and got earnest. "Sherlock, I know you have a keen mind and I know you always think you're right about everything-"
"-because I do and I usually am."
"Yes but you've been in an accident," Watson underlined the word before Sherlock could mount another protest, "and...and you're on pain killers plus you're in shock and before you argue about that with your doctor your body is in physical shock even if you think you aren't, that's why it's called physical shock." Watson saw that his words might be getting through. "If a cab driver was trying to kill you, why do so in such a public place with so unsure a method and thereby leaving the possibility that he could miss? I may not be the world's greatest physician but you are alive right now."
Sherlock thought over his friend's words for a few seconds and when he opened mouth Watson sighed with relief at what came out. "Perhaps...you...may be right."
"Good. Now will you rest?" It would be astounding if the man agreed and if he did then...
"I will if you will brew some coffee."
"No stimulants. Herbal tea?"
"Then weak hot chocolate."
Watson went to make the preparations but kept one eye on his companion who had moved to the sofa, easing his sore body down onto it. Sadly the most rest Sherlock ever seemed to get was when he was injured. Watson shook his head and stirred.
Watson waited until Sherlock had consumed half his cup of chocolate and was snoring quietly on the sofa and then he slipped out to meet Mary as planned. Just a quick one-two luncheon and back again to 221B. He did not like to leave Sherlock alone for too long, especially not with a head injury, which could be tricky.
The flat was empty. Watson quickly dialed Sherlock's mobile phone and got an answer after two rings. "Watson. Join me."
"Where are you?"
"The mortuary of course."
"Of course...and why-"
"-Good news. Our cab driver was found dead. He did not escape from the crash uninjured and died in an alleyway."
"So his misfortune is your good fortune?"
"Our good fortune. He tried to kill me, justice is served." Sherlock hung up.
Watson hailed a cab.
Watson recognised Donavon and of course Lestrade as he entered the drab buildings of the city mortuary. A perfectly ordinary looking man lay covered by a sheet on a slab in the center of the room. Donavon was glaring daggers at Sherlock. Nothing new there. Two of Lestrade's people he had not seen before and the one they had met, Straite, was absent. It was a cycle; new people came and went all the time. Lestrade's district was one of high crime.
Watson walked up to Inspector Lestrade as Sherlock was bending over the dead man's face, sniffing. "New people again?"
Lestrade nodded. "Straite and Michaels transferred."
Too bad, Watson thought, Straite had been a particularly nice fellow who hadn't hated Sherlock from the moment he met him and those sort, he glanced over to Donovan, were few and far between.
Watson approached Sherlock who had peeled back the sheet to expose the man Sherlock claimed was his attempted murderer. It was always an education to watch the man work. "Anything?"
Sherlock's brow creased just a little. "You'll have to be more specific John, I have discovered a great deal but nothing that tells me why this man drove his cab onto the sidewalk and nearly over me with perfectly dry roads during a time of day where the sun was at his back. No phone was found in the cab or on his person therefore he either didn't carry one – unlikely – or it was taken off him in the alley before the police showed up."
Watson shrugged. "Or he left it at home."
Sherlock sniffed at the man's breath. "No odor of alcohol or breath mint." He glanced up at Watson standing to his left. "It is possible he left it at home but as I said unlikely as he was working, but we shall know soon enough." Sherlock looked over to Lestrade. "I assume you have Sergeant Donavon or someone competent attending to his flat?"
Lestrade nodded. "'Course. Why do you think this bloke drove into you on purpose anyway?"
Sherlock didn't answer right away and Lestrade rubbed at his salt and pepper hair, appearing a bit uncomfortable. "How's the bump by the way?"
Sherlock appeared confused until he remembered. "It's fine."
Lestrade looked at Watson who shook his head and then addressed his consulting detective again "Sherlock. You don't think it's possible you're just maybe hoping this bloke had it in for you? You've been stuck at home for a week recovering. It would be natural for you to-"
"-To what?" Sherlock asked a bit sharply. "Make things up? Did I make up Moriarty?"
Lestrade looked suitably abashed and studied the dead man's placid mid-forties face that was going over to fat. "Well, whoever this man was, he appears nice enough."
Sherlock straightened up, his examination apparently over and then one last time down at the dead man. "Not anymore."
Sherlock succumbed to Watson's insistence that he return home and rest up. "I'll order in, that ought to perk up your appetite."
Sherlock watched idly as his flat-mate scurried about putting on a kettle for tea and straightening up here and there. "You may as well tell me, John, you're an appalling liar."
John continued clearing away a week's worth of dirty beakers in the tiny sink. No dishes – which to his doctor's eye confirmed that Sherlock was not eating nearly enough when he wasn't present to nag him into it – but then stopped. "What do you mean?"
"I mean when will you and Mary be moving in together? It must be soon, I estimate within the next two weeks. It explains your nervousness. You want me well before you leave so your physician's conscience will be clear but you're worried that I won't get on without you." He watched John's shoulder rise and fall in a silent sigh. "Rest assured I shall survive."
John turned, his lips pressed together. "I just feel a bit...awkward leaving you when this is all happening."
Sherlock frowned. Of course, the week before nothing had been happening so he recognised Watson's weak excuse for what it was; his friend would feel guilty no matter what the circumstances but he needed to, as most people did, "say something". And although he knew the perfect solution to both their problems it was one he doubted John would go for. John did, after all, own a double bed. Mary could easily fit into their lives as they stood.
Sherlock pointed out the obvious knowing John would interpret it for what it was – words to ease his friend's troubled mind. "I have been alone before you know and I will be fine." A half truth really. He would miss John more than he would say. Plus he had no desire to impede whatever course Watson decided to take his life, he had no right to ask. He had no rights.
Wants however were more frustrating things, not as easily dismissed out of mind. Wants even, on rare occasions, hurt.
Watson nodded his head, satisfied. "You guessed right."
"It wasn't a guess."
"Fine, well I'll give you half month's rent since I'll be leaving two weeks, that'll give you time to find another flat-mate..."
Another? Sherlock blinked. Who could that possible be? No, there would be no others. "John, I-"
The door bell downstairs chimed and Watson slipped from the room, his footsteps lighter on the stairs than they had been in weeks. Sherlock nodded to himself. John would be fine now. Besides if someone was trying to kill him, it would be better for John not to be around so much. Collateral damage of that nature would prove intolerable, he decided. He felt one of those emotions Watson so often talked about and held in such high esteem though not one of the pleasant ones: fear.
Sherlock did not want John stepping in the way as he was want to do and winding up dead himself. He did not want John to die.
In between Watson's stern looks Sherlock ate some of the food Watson placed before him, not really noting what it was or that it was so bland as to be almost tasteless -although that might have been the medications - and contemplated how lonely he had been prior to Watson's entering his life – yes he remembered not actually feeling lonely, not until John had come and filled a painful void that previously he'd had no idea existed – and now that John was leaving he wondered if he'd feel it after. Would the hollow state return? Would his need for Watson linger or dissipate?
"Had enough?" John took his plate and Sherlock watched the elegant doctor's hands, the thin fingers a contrast to the rest of John's body, it the stocky build of a soldier. Sherlock was grateful when a cup of piping hot tea was set before him with all the cream and sugar you could want. Plus biscuits he must have retrieved from Misses Hudson when his patient wasn't paying attention. Sherlock wondered if Mary was going to benefit from John's house-boy ways.
Or would John be the one served and doted over? Sherlock managed to remember to mutter thanks sending a startled look from his friend over his own little cup. "Wow, your head must still be a bit scrambled."
Sherlock felt a wave rush over him, thinking at first that it was just a dizzy spell from his head wound; that perhaps John had been correct on insisting he come home, but the wave was so powerful he had to quickly sip at his tea to cover over his suddenly wildly beating heart. Then he forced his eyes away from his friend's puzzled expression and to the flat which surrounded them with its piles of books and the lab equipment sitting on the kitchen island, much of it still needing cleaning. Then his gaze drifted down the short hallway and to his own bedroom where he regularly retreated to but rarely slept well, and then over to the door that led to stairs that took him to the outside world full of strangers.
And then finally back to his own tea cup with its twin nestled in John's generous fingers across the tiny table, and to John's ever kind face.
John was leaving him.
Sherlock took two deep breathes to steady his nerves. He wondered if his face was whiter than usual because John was now staring, his face lined with worry. "Are you all right?"
Sherlock, his mind in a hundred places at once, finally managed to translate some of what John had said to him. He narrowed his eyes thereby trying to focus is mind to the seemingly insurmountable task at hand of figuring out what John's mouth was saying. But he had only managed to catch two of the words. "Wha-...is this...is this right? I mean...what?"
John left his chair and came around the table, squatting down, peering closely into Sherlock's pale blue eyes. Sherlock could not help but stare back into John's much deeper blue ones. As deep and blue as the ocean under storm clouds, but with the hope of sunshine and calm seas, looking back at him, worried about him, concerned over his health, caring about him.
So terribly caring. So caring it was somehow uncomfortable. At that moment and for a reason Sherlock could not untangle John's normal, everyday eyes - eyes he was used to seeing, eyes he had seen a hundred times a day without really noticing - had twisted Sherlock's insides around until it hurt.
It was suddenly hard to breathe again and Sherlock dropped his eyes to his hands clasped painfully in his lap. His fingers were cramping from the grip and he deliberately made them relax, peeling them apart and letting the blood return. "I have no idea..."
Part 2 asap
Author's note: Having become fully addicted to this modern Sherlock series, I'm trying my hand at this first Sherlock fanfiction that explores the inner soul of the man; Sherlock may call himself a high functioning sociopath but he is one who still feels all the normal emotions of love, hate, remorse and sorrow. The sorrow (tears) and regret we saw when he was about to take the plunge to his "death". He had to lie to John. Sherlock knew he would miss his friend and that his "death" and, in the end, the deception revealed would hurt John deeply. The tears had to be real because John was too far away to see them and there was no one around for Sherlock to fake them for. IMHO.