A/N: Just something I wrote for a handholding prompt on the H/W LJ community. I thought I might as well post it here too, as I haven't posted anything for a shamefully long time. I'm working on a much longer, much juicier Holmes/Watson fic so stay tuned... xD Also, the title has nothing to do with anything, I just couldn't be bothered thinking of anything less stupid.
Oh, and a warning to any people adversely affected by slashy undertones... HERE BE SLASHY UNDERTONES. So, begone.
Shortly after seven-thirty, Watson's quiet solitary breakfast was abruptly interrupted by a series of explosive sneezes coming from Holmes's bedroom. There then followed a loud clatter and an angry assortment of curses as Holmes apparently tripped over something on his way to the door.
Watson rolled his eyes and determinedly kept reading. Whatever madness Holmes was planning today, Watson would be damned if he was deprived his morning paper.
Moments later, Holmes shuffled blindly in, eyes watering and his nose bright red and rather sore looking. He also appeared to have dressed rather haphazardly; he had put half of his shirt buttons through the wrong holes, had only one sock on and no belt and had put his collar on backwards.
He fell heavily into the chair opposite Watson, sniffing miserably- and somewhat pointedly at his friend.
"Good morning, Holmes." Watson said patiently, keeping his eyes on his newspaper.
Holmes ignored him, scratching his nose petulantly.
Watson looked up irritably. "I said good morn-
He stopped short. "My God, Holmes. You look awful."
Holmes bristled at him. "'Danks bery 'buch." He said thickly through what sounded like three gallons of mucus.
Watson's moustache twitched. He took a hasty mouthful of coffee to hide the smile which threatened to appear at his friend's misfortune.
Sherlock glowered at him, aggressively clearing his throat.
Watson put down his cup with a businesslike cough. "You'd better eat something," He said crisply, nudging the toast towards Holmes.
The poorly detective gingerly took a slice of toast and nibbled on it. Watson watched him. "How do you feel?"
"Fine." Holmes said sullenly.
Watson raised an eyebrow. "Fine?"
Sherlock sniffed. "On top of the wor-wor-worrrrCHOO!" Snot and saliva shot across the table.
Watson recoiled in disgust.
"Ugh!" He burst out. "That's revolting! Cover your mouth, you animal!"
Holmes glared at him and took a defiant bite of his toast. "I'm fine and I'm going out today." He said with his mouth full of bread and mucus.
"No you are not." Watson said sharply. "You'll give your nasty germs to everyone. You're staying here- in bed."
Sherlock swallowed forcefully. "Nonsense." He said dismissively, taking another bite of toast. "I'm perfectly alright, you're overreac-
He choked on a crumb and burst into a storm of coughs. Watson knew with one listen that Holmes was in no shape to be traipsing about London if one bite of toast was all it took to irritate his evidently inflamed throat.
Holmes managed to regain his composure and peered across at Watson, Watson looked back at him flatly. "Yes, yes, alright. I'll go back to bed." Holmes snapped at length.
"Yes, I think that would be very wise." Watson said coolly, watching the detective hobble back to bed.
Holmes spent the day lying in bed, happily ordering Watson about. He particularly seemed to take pleasure in requesting the most complicated, unobtainable lunch that man had ever conceived and then sending it back at least three times for ridiculously petty reasons such as the bread being 'too grainy' and the lettuce being 'too damp'.
Watson had to refrain from boxing his ears more than once and comforted himself with the fact that at least Holmes was suffering.
Holmes seemed cheerful enough however, despite his cold and if it wasn't for Watson's constant sentinel no doubt he would have attempted to get up and go about his daily routine without heeding the fact he couldn't breathe properly.
It wasn't until late in the evening that things took a turn for the worse.
Just after eight, Watson noticed from his chair by the door that the stream of dramatic sighs and tuts Holmes had been issuing for about the last three hours had suddenly stopped.
He looked over to see Holmes lying flat on his back, staring blankly up at the ceiling.
"Holmes?" Watson said loudly, lowering his pipe. "Are you alright?" Holmes didn't reply.
Watson put down his pipe and newspaper and went to the detective's bedside.
Holmes looked very pale. "I don't feel well." He said dully.
Watson put a hand to his forehead. "God, you're hot." He mused, frowning. "Do you feel dizzy?"
Holmes shook his head very slightly. "My head hurts."
Watson hesitated for a moment, his hand still on Holmes's head. He could feel the heat radiating off the detective's skin. "I want to take your temperature." He said at length, getting to his feet and hurrying from the room.
When he returned, Watson saw on closer inspection that Holmes was covered in a thin glistening layer of sweat. Watson's heart stirred slightly as he pressed the thermometer between Holmes's dry lips.
"Do you feel lightheaded?" Asked the doctor.
"No," Holmes mumbled, the thermometer still in his mouth.
Watson removed it after five minutes and looked at it. "You have a fever." He said dryly, putting it back in his bag and taking out his stethoscope.
He listened to Holmes's heart (which appeared to be beating normally), took his blood pressure (also normal) and gave him some castor oil to purge his stomach. Holmes lay silent and white faced the entire time, letting Watson do whatever he wanted to without argument. Watson had thought it would have been a dream come true to have a quiet, compliant Holmes for a change but in truth it was vaguely eerie.
Especially when it became clear that he was worsening. Within twenty minutes, his temperature had soared and his face was papery white and covered in beads of sweat.
Watson took a cloth and dampened it in a basin of water by the bed, dabbing at Holmes's forehead and cheeks. Holmes closed his eyes slowly. "I feel like I'm going to die." He mumbled.
Watson scoffed at him. "Oh, please. You and your dramatics. It's just a fever." He said heartily, ignoring the uneasy twinge in his stomach.
"I need some water." Holmes said, without opening his eyes.
Watson hurried to fetch a jug and cup. When he returned, Holmes was still lying low amongst the pillows, his eyes tightly shut and a slight frown on his face.
"You'll have to sit up." Watson said, feeling slightly awkward as he slid a hand under both the detective's arms and helped him up against the headboard. Holmes slumped against it, his eyes still half closed.
Watson put the cup of water to the detective's lips but Holmes angrily batted him away.
"I'm perfectly able to use a cup." He said irritably, snatching it from Watson and spilling much of it over himself in the process.
Watson silently watched Holmes pour the liquid sluggishly down his throat, his hand was shaking so much that he barely got more than half of it in his mouth. "See?" He mumbled, pushing the empty cup into Watson's hands and slumping back down onto the pillows, seeming exhausted by the exertion.
While the detective lay quietly, Watson fetched his chair and sat by Holmes's bedside to watch over him. Both were silent for about ten minutes when Holmes suddenly struggled upright, looking paler than ever and hardly able to support himself.
"I'm going to be sick." He mumbled.
He was as good as his word. Watson only managed to avoid disaster by thrusting the water jug under Holmes's mouth at the last moment.
He averted his eyes while his friend retched beside him, feeling it would be a terrible indignity to Holmes for Watson to see him thus. Though, at the same time, he felt strangely privileged to be the man who Holmes relied upon in his rare moments of almost total incapacity. Though he would never admit it to Holmes. Certainly not if it suggested he didn't mind wiping vomit off the detective's face.
Afterwards, Holmes collapsed flat onto the bed, breathing like he'd just ran ten miles and Watson wiped the saliva and half-digested toast away, comforting himself with the fact that he'd seen far worse.
Below him, Holmes gave a pitiable whimper, writhing against the pillows. "Watson." He moaned, clinging onto Watson's sleeve like a child. His face was contorted against the nausea and pain.
Watson ventured to sit on the edge of the bed. "Shush, it's alright." He said gently, stroking Holmes's burning forehead. In normal circumstances he wouldn't have dared to, but as it were, he didn't think Holmes would object.
Holmes sunk deeper into the mattress, staring up at Watson with a strangely childlike desperation in his eyes, as though he wanted Watson to say a magic word and make it all go away.
For a few minutes they sat in near silence, Watson mumbling meaningless idioms to calm the detective, though he hardly knew if Holmes was listening or not, he was just staring up at Watson with a dreamy, faraway look on his flushed features.
Just as Watson was beginning to feel vaguely drowsy, he suddenly felt fingers trailing over his free hand. Holmes had been working his right hand across the bed covers without Watson noticing. The doctor jumped, staring down at the detective's hand over his and then at Holmes who was peering innocently up at him. Watson didn't let go. And not just because he didn't want to upset Holmes in his present delicate condition.
"Close your eyes." He said quietly.
Holmes obeyed, his hand never leaving Watson's. Watson watched him for a few moments in silence, his eyes roaming over every freckle, premature line and shadow on his friend's face with tender relish.
The minutes ticked by into what could have been an hour, Watson didn't know or care. He kept one hand on his friend's forehead, stroking him, comforting him and the other beneath Holmes's, cocooned in the covers. Holmes's breaths evened out, he seemed to be drifting.
At length, Watson thought he should take away the jug and moved to leave but Holmes caught him by surprise by suddenly reaching out and tightly grasping his hand. The sensation of fingers through his stopped Watson short. He hadn't held anyone's hand for a very long time; he had almost forgotten the sensation.
He froze, looking back at Holmes. The detective looked up at him, pale and small amongst the pile of pillows. "Stay, Watson." He mumbled. "Please."
Watson hesitated for a moment, his eyes darting from Holmes to the jug to the door, but in the end there was really no competition. He slowly sat back down at Holmes's side. Holmes did not remove his hand from the doctor's, he held it tight; his long, slim fingers weaved between the doctor's thicker, callused ones. Watson looked at their clasped hands and thought vaguely how well they seemed to complement each other. Different, and yet a perfect fit.
Holmes closed his eyes again, his fingers slackening slightly beneath Watson's but never retracting their grasp. Watson could feel the detective's fingers: warm, soft and possessive over his. It was strange how blissful the effortless, simple positioning of their hands together really was.
Watson returned his other hand to Holmes's forehead, bending over him as though to protect him and shield him from some unseen badness.
It wasn't long until both of them were asleep, still grasping each other, Watson's head resting on Holmes's chest and the detective calm and tranquil for not just the first time that evening, but for the first time in many, many weeks.