Author's Note: This story is a one-off or a tag to an existing episode that I couldn't get out of my mind. This is not SLASH. Friendship only between Sherlock and John in this one. Although if you squint you can read it anyway you like.
**A tag to the scene in "The Lying Detective", what if John went too far in his anger? And the injury to Sherlock was more than just the damage of the drugs? How would the doctor deal with learning what Sherlock had done to 'save him' and what he had to Sherlock? I was struck by John's reactions as he watched Mary explain her final request to Sherlock.**
PLEASE REVIEW: This will only be a couple of chapters, but it deals with the aftermath of the morgue beating. I think it was glossed over and I wonder what would have happened if John had gone too far and risked losing Sherlock as a result of his own actions. Cheers!
Disclaimer:Sherlock does not belong to me…such a shame…it is the brainchild of Arthur Conan Doyle and the current iteration belongs to Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and PBS Masterpiece (although the genius behind the relationship between Sherlock and John is the character interpretation by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman). I am not making any money off this; it is purely for the story monkeys in my head and anyone else that wants to read.
The Angry Doctor
John Watson stood inside the sterile hospital room, his eyes staring into the blank space above the head of Sherlock Holmes as he tried to understand the inconsolable rage that was still bubbling in his stomach. The darkness inside the room had only a little to do with the low light and felt as though it was sinking into his very soul in a way that he didn't want and yet couldn't avoid. The dark-haired, thin man lying in that blasted bed had been his best friend and yet, now, the doctor couldn't see past the red haze of anger in order to forgive him for what he'd done. The loss of Mary had tainted something in their relationship that not even the consulting detective's faked death had been able to shatter.
Sherlock Holmes, the world's only consulting detective, was lying unconscious and battered on the small single bed in a private room within the hospital owned by a man that he'd accused of being a serial killer only days before. And the funny thing was, John couldn't bring himself to care…not anymore. It was entirely possible that Sherlock had been completely off his tits on drugs and made the entire thing up in that insane mind-palace of his. Or there was an even smaller possibility that he was correct and John was leaving Sherlock, helpless, inside the predator's den.
The army doctor hadn't been able to control the physical aggression that had blurred his normally pliable mind nearly twelve hours earlier. John had seen Sherlock Holmes on drugs in the past, but he had never seen the man completely lose his bloody mind. And the doctor had no doubt that that was exactly what he had seen inside that sterile room. It had been the complete disassociation of the detective from the junkie. The man that had threatened Culverton Smith and his daughter had not been Sherlock; it had been a full-blown drug addict in the middle of a delusional episode.
That might actually be the most devastating thing of all for the doctor. Having seen the most brilliant man that John had ever known completely lose his rational mind and fall victim to the altering effects of the narcotics coursing through his system. The drugs were obscuring his ability to think and for someone like Sherlock that was awful.
John ignored the footfalls outside the room, choosing instead to lean forward and rest his hands on the railing at the end of Sherlock's bed. His gaze shifted over to the walking stick sitting untouched next to him. The intention in bringing it had been as a way of telling the other man that they were done. There would be no further adventures or interactions between them. John didn't have it in him to forgive the detective for his arrogant and deadly mistake with Vivian Norbury. It had been a mistake that had cost John everything…and could not forgive that.
Sherlock had continued to push a woman that had already proven that she was willing and capable of killing to further her own ends. Had Mary not stepped in front of the overbearing and cocky detective, none of this would have happened. In fact, if Sherlock had not insisted on baiting the old woman, they would not now find themselves on opposite ends of divergent paths. John and Mary's daughter would not now grow up without her mother. John could not risk her growing up without a father too.
The door opened and a nurse walked in. John recognized her from earlier when she'd insisted that his blog was really Sherlock's blog…and then to add insult to injury, that it "had gone down hill a bit" once she realized that it actually was John's blog. She appeared surprised to find anyone in Sherlock's room, which John supposed should not have, in turn, surprised him. It wasn't as though the arrogant detective had a lot of friends or even people, beyond Mycroft, that would visit him in hospital. Oh there was a chance that Molly would show up, more of a probability than a chance. And then there was Mrs. Hudson, she could always be counted on to turn up in Sherlock's corner.
"Oh, I didn't know anyone would be here." The dark-haired nurse bustled over to the chart and took some readings, writing them inside the folder. Her dark eyebrows cutting together at something she saw there, but she quickly wiped her expression clear and forced a smile before turning away.
John observed the shift in her face, but chose not to ask about it. He didn't really want to know more about Sherlock's condition. Not more than he already did, being that he was somewhat responsible for the consulting detective's current hospitalization. He knew that Sherlock was suffering from double kidney failure, malnutrition, and a near overdose. But that wasn't what John didn't want confirmed; it was verification of the aftereffects of the beating that the other man had sustained the hands of his supposed best friend.
The doctor was already aware of the worst parts. The contusion on Sherlock's left eyes was a deep black and the swelling had yet to dissipate. There were several dark stitches holding a cut in his eyebrow together. At this point the damage hadn't been fully assessed by the medical staff and couldn't be until the injured man regained consciousness, which he had not...not yet. Sherlock had dark bruising across his sharp cheekbones, bruising that was indicative of severe trauma to the eye socket and the prominent bones that were so visible on the angular face of the consulting detective. There were likely other injuries that John could not see. He couldn't remember how many times he'd kicked the younger addict as he'd been struggling to get off the cold tiled floor of the morgue. Which meant that it was possible that Sherlock had bruised, separated, or even broken ribs. Too many years patching up soldiers that either been injured in combat or over a weekend bender that resulted in a nasty fight told the doctor what to expect if he read that chart.
John simply hadn't been able to stop himself from repeatedly kicking Sherlock, even though he was down and essentially defenseless as the doctor had worked through his own rage and loss at the consulting detective's expense. The worst part had been when the orderlies had had to pull John off of the downed man. Sherlock wasn't fighting him, he wasn't trying to stop him…he was simply lying there, taking everything that was thrown at him. It was John that hadn't been able to stop. All of his pain and anger had spiraled down in a focused attack, feeding that one outbreak of violence and Sherlock had offered him an outlet; one that John had immediately accepted and used to assuage some of his own guilt at the expense of his friend's health.
John shook his head and laid the walking stick against the chair. The brilliant man would make the deduction as what it meant when he awoke. The doctor was carrying too much of his own guilt to accept anymore involving Sherlock Holmes, the only course of action left to him, was to leave.
He turned toward the door, ignoring the ringing of the phone that pulled the nurse's attention away from the scene she'd just witnessed.
A murmur of her 'hello' and a brief pause before, "Dr. Watson? It's for you."
He sighed and then rolled his eyes before returning to take the call. "Hello Mycroft…"
"Miss Me?" The two words both shocked and disgusted John the moment he saw them. These awful words had been written in black sharpie on the outside of the DVD that Sherlock had been unable to decipher. It had been stabbed on his mantle of 'unanswered questions'.
So did this mean that Moriarty was back? Were they again in danger of being destroyed by the consulting criminal? John didn't know. He only knew that he had to see what was on that dvd. He could not be caught in the dark, not again, not with his daughter now in the mix. The doctor would need to be prepared for anything that the criminal classes might throw at him.
But the moment Mary's beautiful face had popped up on that damned screen and John had realized that it was a private message that she had sent to Sherlock, he had wanted to shut it off. Immediately Mrs. Hudson had rousted everyone from the flat in an attempt to give him some privacy as he watched the last words of the woman he loved to someone other than him.
It wasn't as though there was, or even could have been, something going on between Mary and Sherlock. But knowing that she had suspected that something like this may happen, was shocking. She had never warned him, not once, that her past might reach up and steal their future. Mary had always been able to see the 'big picture', even when John could not.
He stared at the screen in stunned silence when she started explaining what it was she needed from Sherlock; John's heart nearly stopped as realization flooded in. He was suddenly back inside the morgue, as though he was watching the whole scene from the perspective of a bystander.
It had all gone awry so quickly that he hadn't even realized he had picked up the scalpel and was threatening the billionaire. Sherlock couldn't hold onto his thoughts, they were flitting in and out of his mind like wisps of smoke and he couldn't seem to grab hold of them long enough to evaluate them properly. He'd had a plan when he'd gone into this, but now he couldn't remember what it was...or the backup plans to his plan.
When it had started, Sherlock had anticipated a very different outcome. He had known that he was skirting a line with John, one that was likely to blow up in his face, but he had had no choice. Losing the doctor to the blinding anger of rage and then the overwhelming depression of loss, simply wasn't an option; so Sherlock had done the only thing he could…he had allowed himself to drop heavily into his addiction and hoped like hell that he didn't drown in it. Because unlike Mary, he wasn't entirely sure that John would 'be there' at the end of this whole thing.
There had been so much pain and soul-wrenching devastation in his reaction to Mary's death at the aquarium. That inhuman sound he'd made had been unlike anything that Sherlock had ever heard from another person. And it was something he sincerely hoped he never heard again, especially from someone that he cared about.
But that was only one part of the problem, there was now the possibility that Sherlock had fabricated the woman that had come to his flat, giving him information that he could not have learned any other way. Was it possible that he'd deteriorated so far that he could no longer identify reality from delusion? And if so…what did that mean for his chances at recovery when all this was over? The consulting detective couldn't answer any of those questions. Even worse, was the fact that he couldn't hold a series of thoughts inside his fractured mind long enough to dissect all the necessary information from them. He was losing himself...
Sherlock he'd never anticipated that it would be John that finally knocked him back into 'reality'. His best friend, or his previous best friend since he wasn't sure exactly how John regarded him at the moment, had landed a right cross that had seriously dazed the broken detective. Even as it had cut his feet out from under him. Sherlock had landed in a heap at the base of the freezer drawers, his head bouncing off the floor, hard, sending shooting pain coursing through his already abused brain.
He'd tried to get back up, to lever himself off the cold tile, back onto shaky legs, and continue baiting the only predator inside that room, but John's fist had slammed into his face again and again, preventing that action. Bursts of white blinding lights exploded at the edges of Sherlock's vision and his head was immediately swimming in agonizing pain. It was almost more painful knowing that John 'wanted' to hurt him than actually feeling the doctor's knuckles landing solidly against his prominent cheekbone.
"I'm giving you a case. Might be the hardest case of your career. When I'm gone…if I'm gone, I need you to do something for me." Mary's eyes were focused and intense as she stared at the camera. It was evident that she had put a great deal of thought into this last communication with the consulting detective. There was a small part of John that was jealous of that. Jealous that his wife had made the effort of explaining her last wishes to Sherlock, but not to her husband. But the next words out of her mouth destroyed any illusion as to what this message was. A lump formed in his throat and his eyes burned, making him blink several times to clear the blurry vision.
"Save John Watson. Save him, Sherlock. Save him. Don't think that anyone else is going to save him, because there isn't anyone. It's up to you. Save him."
Suddenly the reckless behavior of the most calculating man that John had ever known started to make sense. As far as John knew, Sherlock had never tried to contact him after Mary's death. Molly had never told him whether or not she'd had to give the self-proclaimed sociopath John's note. And John had not asked.
Psychology had never been John's favorite subject in school, not even during medical school where an understanding of the behavioral factors affecting recovery from injuries was essential. He'd come to understand more of it since meeting Sherlock Holmes, but it was still a bit of an enigma to him. As he stared blank-faced at the recording by his late wife, John gathered that was not the case for Mary. She had isolated the core traits of both her husband and the consulting detective within months of meeting them both.
"But I do think you're going to need a little bit of help with that, because you're not exactly good with people. So here's a few things you need to know about the man we both love. And more importantly, what you're going to need to do to save him." Mary continued to explain her plan for John's salvation and it felt like someone was driving white-hot dagger into his heart.
How could I not have seen this? Things were starting to slip into place and John was both dumbfounded and terrified that he could have so completely misjudged the situation. He wiped his hand down his tired face and shook his head slightly as he continued to listen.
Mary's words…it was like she'd reached inside his head and pulled his innermost thoughts from the depths of his psyche. How on God's little green earth had she seen so much about him and yet he hadn't noticed anything important about her? She'd had to reveal who and what she was before John understood the woman he'd fallen in love with. Even now he wasn't so sure that he really knew Mary Watson.
"John Watson never accepts help. Not from anyone, not ever. But here's the thing…he never refuses it. So here's what you are going to do." Her face softened as she spoke of his strengths as well as his biggest weakness. His heart clenched upon hearing her words...because she was right.
John's mouth dropped open as she went through the details of her carefully laid out plan. His fingers clenched at the edges of the chair and his eyes continued to burn as he realized the full extend to which Sherlock had gone to save him. As if he needed any more guilt in his life, the doctor was being to drown in the depth of emotions flooding to the surface. Her next words halting his racing thoughts and he blinked in surprise.
"You can't save John, because he won't let you. He won't allow himself to be saved. The only way to save John is to make him save you." She continued.
Mrs. Hudson sat, unmoving, on the small wooden chair next to John's chair. She never uttered a word as she watched John learn the truth that she had always known. Sherlock would do anything for John Watson…anything, including die.
"Go to hell, Sherlock. Go right into hell and make it look like you mean it. Go and pick a fight with a bad guy. Put yourself in harms way. If he thinks you need him, I swear he will be there."
The video clicked off and John continued to stare wide-eyed at the black screen, his entire body frozen in that moment of clarity. He had misjudged everything so badly and then he had beaten Sherlock for trying to bring him back from the brink of hell. The detective had done what she'd asked and more. He'd trashed his own body in order to get John's attention and he'd placed himself in the path of, what Sherlock believed, was a serial killer. And he'd done all of this to save John.
His eyes flickered down to the dark bruises on his knuckles and his stomach flipped dangerously. He gulped back the bile that immediately rose at the thought of what he'd done. John had needed to hit something. His anger had needed an outlet, a face…
"I hit him." He muttered softly. "I hit him hard." The lump that was threatening to choke him cut off his words.
Mrs. Hudson's face softened as she laid her hand on his shoulder. "John," she started. "Sherlock needs you now. He's done what he can. Now it's your turn to throw the dice."
John's tortured gaze lifted to meet hers and he was surprised see, not condemnation, but concern and support reflected in her wise face. He surged to his feet and started toward the door. A realization had him moving more quickly. Sherlock had done all of this on purpose, which meant that he wouldn't have targeted Culverton Smith if he hadn't known that the man was guilty of something. In this case the consulting detective had managed to rouse the ire of one of the most dangerous men they'd ever come up against. The bastard had managed to hide his addiction for years and now Sherlock was lying unconscious in that man's lair.
Sherlock sat silently in his black leather chair, his legs pulled up against his chest, his arms were wrapped around them in an effort to keep warm and stop the shaking. He was alone. It was dark and cold inside his mind-palace. A single lamp threw light from the corner, but that was it. There was nothing comforting about this place, not anymore.
He knew he was hurt, at least he was out there in the real world, and he knew that he wasn't likely to wake up any time soon. He could feel the distant aches and pains, but he was able to remove himself from that to some degree. His mind was spinning like a top and he was helpless to stop it.
Everything that had happened was his fault. He'd been so sure of his own 'brilliance' that he'd gotten Mary killed to prove it. He swallowed as he remembered her dying words. 'I think we're even now.'
And they were. Sherlock had thought they were even long before that moment. She may have shot him, but she'd saved John when Sherlock couldn't…so as far as he was concerned they were even. But then he'd gotten caught up in the game and it had cost him everything.
His gaze dropped to the floor and he sighed. Sherlock had no intention of leaving his mind palace any time soon. If Culverton killed him? Well, that would be just fine. Because then he wouldn't have to go back to the empty loneliness that now infiltrated every part of his world. He hadn't realized how much he'd come to rely on John. Sherlock hadn't understood that he'd fallen helplessly in love with Rosie and the thought of not seeing her grow up was unbearable. He'd never particularly liked children, though they were honest where adults were generally not…that had been a pleasant surprise. But something about the cherubic little face of the baby had dissolved Sherlock's defenses and actually care about her. He wasn't entirely sure what that meant, but it was true.
He considered all of the times he'd told John that 'love' is a weakness, but now he understood…love is the ultimate strength. The things that a person would do because they loved someone were unlimited. He knew this because he was doing the unthinkable to try and save his friend…his best friend.
Sherlock's eyes shifted over to where the skull rested dull and silent on the mantle and he frowned. He pulled in a deep breath as he was reminded of what his life had been like in the beginning…before John. Cases had been his only escape from the rampant spinning of his brilliant mind. Only a promise to his brother had kept him from diving back into the syringe. Now it looked as though he would be breaking that promise. He needed something to calm his mind and he no longer had John to help with that. Which really only left Sherlock with one-option…drugs. And he wasn't sure that he wanted to go down that road, not really. But what were his alternatives?
Memories of the aquarium constantly played out inside his head. Whether he liked it or not, Sherlock couldn't separate the distress of the feelings at losing John and Mary from the tragedy of that night. There was also the problem of his perfect recall; he couldn't forget the rising anger he'd seen on the old woman's face as he had continued to berate her. But never in his wildest dreams had he thought that the kindly-looking old woman would try and shoot her way out of there like some sort of American western at the OK corral.
His pale gray eyes shifted over where the note was lying open on the table next to his chair. It was the note that John had instructed Molly give to him if he'd gone by the doctor's flat offering to help the Watsons. Sherlock's hands had trembled as he'd unfolded and read through the hand-written message from John. The words that essentially ousted him from both the doctor's life and the life baby Watson.
Sherlock would have taken a hundred beatings over the finality of those crisp words. Even now he couldn't bear to recall what they had been, it was too painful. A very small part of him wondered if it was even worth waking up at all…
John raced up the stairs and found himself staring at the guard that Lestrade had placed outside of Sherlock's room. The man tilted his head and raised an eyebrow at John's disheveled and manic state. "Are you alright, Dr. Watson?"
"Has anyone entered that room?" He was nearly out of breath as he rushed toward the room.
"Other than the doctors about two hours ago, no. Why?"
John blew out a breath and nodded before going to enter the room. A nurse hurried around the corner at the same time. She didn't seem surprised to she John back at the hospital. "Dr. Watson…did Dr. Huran's office get ahold of you?"
He shook his head 'no' and grabbed at the handle of the door. She rushed forward blocking his path. "You may want to speak to him before you go in there."
Something inside of John froze. "What's happened?"
Her face took on the look that John had used when explaining a less than positive outcome to worried family members of patients. "I'm afraid there have been some complications. I really think you need to speak to Dr. Huran."
"What happened?" he asked again. This time his voice dropped and he took a step toward her. She involuntarily took a step back and glanced at the cop standing outside the room.
"I'm afraid there was more damage done than we had initially thought. There is swelling of the brain and…" she trailed off and looked down the hallway in order to gather her thoughts. "Mr. Holmes is in a coma."
Author's Note:Please take a moment and leave a review if you're interested in the rest of the story. Cheers!