Sherlock awoke slowly. He felt strange, disoriented; something that had been there forever and ever was missing. He was not lying in a bed, was his first observation, which could certainly account for the strangeness because he always awoke in a bed. Unless he fell asleep on the couch, or passed out on the floor, or had been injured and knocked unconscious but awoke again before anyone could either transfer him to a bed or kill him and thus negate the necessity of one. He was not dead, though, and not on a couch, and if he had passed out on the floor it was a strangely lumpy one which came accompanied with blankets. Then the not-floor shifted beneath him and he came to understand that it was a person.
The realization should have been accompanied by alarm; at least, he remembered vaguely that awakening near another person was bad and to be avoided. But this felt comfortable and good, and, even only half awake and without understanding, his instincts told him there was nothing to fear. His observations surrounding touch were quickly followed by smell and sound, and he knew almost at once why he was not afraid. The stranger was not a stranger at all. It was his Watson. His Watson shifted again, arm curling around him.
"Hmm…good morning, Holmes," the man mumbled, clearly only half awake himself. Sherlock opened his mouth to answer…only to find he still had no words. Then the bad feeling returned, and he opened his eyes.
He was in a bedroom but from an odd angle of the floor; he could not remember ever gazing upon it from this angle before. Yet the bedroom was familiar though not in a proprietary sense. At least…he didn't think it was his but at the same time it almost felt as if it was. He knew he had been there before because he remembered the details of it expressly, but it was not one he was in a habit of using. And some of the details had changed, not least being the arrangement of blankets and pillows laid out upon the floor. The carpet was new as well, and the feeling of fur beneath his hand. The room itself was small and neat and reassuringly nothing like the other familiar room. There had been another room, he remembered that…or was that a dream? The last place he remembered sleeping at was an inn. And before that was a dream, a dark dream, and he did not think it wise to dwell upon it. But he couldn't quite help it, poking at the edges, and the bad feeling was slowly seeping in. He kept his eyes wide open, taking in the differences, the smell and feel of things, everything different and most definitely not there.
That was what Watson had whispered as the carriage had pulled up to the door the night before. Something strange had uncurled in Sherlock's chest at that simple word.
After observing the room, paying particular attention to all things great and small which jarred against his memory so that the feeling of displacement would ease, Sherlock next took note that he did not feel ill. His skin was damp, disgustingly so in fact, but did not feel tight or hot or chilled and his limbs felt no tremors. He remembered all of this happening, for forever it seemed like, and the absence of such sensations left him feeling light. He sat up.
The world did not spin or dance about his head, though his muscles retained the ache of old hardships. It felt good to stretch and sit in that room with Watson lying languidly back upon the pillows, blinking up at him. Sherlock smiled. Watson's expression grew quite odd, something he could not fathom, so he turned his head instead to take in the room from yet another new perspective.
Standing was a slower process, and Watson stumbled up swiftly when he started, but refrained from actually taking his arm to help him up. Instead he hovered, and if Sherlock had been feeling at all himself even that would likely have annoyed him. Somehow it didn't though; Sherlock found himself merely happy that his friend was there while ignoring the hands waiting to catch him. At any rate, though his muscles ached and retained an uncomfortable weakness they did not fail him. He stood unaided and quite steady, reveling in the sensations of stretching himself out.
A person sat up on the bed and he took a startled step back, almost tripping over the blankets, but it was only Mary. When Watson saw Sherlock wasn't freaking out or about to fall, he walked to his wife's side and gave her a gentle, almost chaste kiss to her lips. She greeted him with a brightness to match the morning sun before turning to face Sherlock.
"Good morning, Sh…Holmes," she said. He answered by smiling at her and Watson, but said nothing. She arose and approached him, giving him a cautious kiss to the cheek. Sherlock allowed it unflinching and unmoving, making no motion at all towards her, and she stepped away again, around the side of a curtain to change.
"Well," Watson said, after his gaze had lingered after his wife for a long moment, "You are looking better today. Perhaps a bath is in order." Sherlock quite agreed, noting that he had been pulling anxiously at his damp night clothes for most of the time he'd been standing.
James helped him with the bath instead of Watson. James was familiar and strong and tired though he was, Sherlock did not think he needed much help at all, but he still found himself wishing Watson had stayed. James told him stories, mostly about his home in Africa where he might return. Sherlock was almost sure he had heard many of the stories before, but he couldn't remember. This wasn't right. He remembered everything. He made a particular effort now to commit every word, every detail, to stay in its place inside his head. Finally he was clean and in fresh clothing and feeling much better as James led him to where his Watson and Mary waited with breakfast. They were dressed as well and there were flowers on the table and Sherlock ignored the aroma of food to reach out for a rose, his fingers lingering over the silky feel of a petal. Touch and thought and the sight of red folding onto red in a mesmerizing dance broke sharp and clear as he had ever known; as though clouds of fog and gray had rolled away to reveal a world of color. Touching its soft folds felt like falling into beauty.
"Holmes?" Watson asked, "What do you see?" And abruptly his attention snapped back upon the world, and the scents of food and Watson and Mary's perfume and he blinked and let his fingers fall back to the cold metal of the silverware and coarser touch of a napkin. Watson's hand moved warmly over his as he asked, "Are you hungry?" He realized that he was.
Author's Note: Yes, I'm aware that this was short and not very conclusive as far as things go and in fact I had at first intended something much longer…but as I read over this considering where to go next I just realized there wasn't anywhere to go. This was the end.
But it is not THE END. I am considering a sequel…their recovery will likely take years after all. Perhaps three. They might need to go on holiday somewhere over that time…I hear Switzerland is nice; lovely mountain scenery, perhaps some waterfalls…maybe one day I'll write more. For some reason writing about breaking things is easier than fixing them.