Title: Do No Harm
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes Movieverse (with bookverse references)
Pairing: Holmes/Watson (slash)
Summary: Some cures can't be found in a doctor's office.
A/N: Inspired by being housebound in all this snow.
A month after Watson moves into Baker Street, his old, sometimes friend, Stamford comes calling and after some consideration, they head out to sup together. Watson is exhausted from his continuing battle to convalesce but he agrees anyway, deciding he doesn't have enough friends to risk alienating fifty-percent of them.
It's during this lunch Stamford suggests Watson see a doctor for his 'wretched pallor'. "You look like you could use some professional care, old boy. I know this chap downtown, named Dillard. Top-shelf fellow. Cured my sister of dropsy."
Watson plays with his spoon and shrugs. "I'm afraid I don't have the money to pay his fee." He has little interest in receiving more medical care - he's had enough of it in the past year to last him the rest of his life.
"It's on me," Stamford says cheerily and Watson has to accept, unless he wants to be the rudest man in London. "The least I could do for one of our bravest."
So Watson agrees and heads to his appointment the next day. The sky is threatening snow and the wind is bitter against his cheekbones, covered only by a layer of gray-pale skin. He's ushered inside by an assistant and waits, sitting uncomfortably on the examining table, his bad leg dangling.
Doctor Dillard is everything Watson would like to be. Hale and perfectly put together, sharply dressed and exuding confidence from every pore. He orders Watson to disrobe and examines him with a detached air.
Until he comes to Watson's leg. Dillard recoils, his mouth twisting with disdain. "What butcher did this?"
"My surgeon in Afghanistan," Watson replies shortly.
Dillard snorts. "The idiot might have tried not to hurry so badly."
Watson wants to reply that the idiot had cut him open on a battlefield where they were outnumbered a hundred to one and that he had just completed the operation when a bullet struck him in the back, killing him, making this the last surgery he'd ever perform.
But he doesn't. Instead, Watson submits to the rest of the examination silently, listening to Dillard's 'hmmphs' and grumbles, wincing at pokes to ribs that are far too prominent. "You need to gain weight. As for the leg, there's nothing that can be done for that," Dillard says, scribbling down a few notes. "So, how old are you? Forty?"
"Twenty-seven," Watson replies.
The pen stops. Dillard stares at him, his eyes filled with sudden shock. Or revulsion. It's hard to tell which. The doctor's throat works as he swallows and he rips a piece of paper off his notebook. "Go to the druggist down on the corner here," Dillard says, scribbling a quick note. "Show him this and he'll give you all the morphine you want."
"Thank you," Watson says, taking the note and stumbling off to get dressed, his leg ... his entire body ... numb.
Outside, snow is starting to fall. Watson struggles to the corner and looks at the druggist's shop, a dingy little place with a line of sick, sallow people inside waiting their turn to get whatever they can to make a little of the endless pain go away.
Watson stares at the note in his hand. A plain prescription for morphine that basically says he is twenty-seven and broken beyond repair. That his life, if it must be lived, should be as short and anesthetized as possible.
The snow swirls around him, thick and cold. He stuffs the paper into his pocket before limping back to Baker Street.
Watson's room is neat in the way that newly moved-into rooms are and Gladstone is but a puppy, his little furry body waiting to grow into an already enormous head.
The bull pup's tiny tail thumps against the floor hopefully. Watson pets him for a moment before laying on his bed, curled up atop neatly made linens, the military corners as sharp as they were during his first weeks in the Army.
The room is colder than he'd like but he's too tired to start the fire. He's exhausted in a way that he'd have trouble describing to anyone else. It's as if his body has given up entirely except for a heart that has the poor taste to keep on beating as well as lungs that are rude enough to continue to draw air.
Sleep is elusive. He hears Holmes shuffling around the hallway and there's a voice by the door, asking something about an extra cigarette.
Watson mumbles for him to look in the drawer, unwilling to open his eyes.
Not that it matters. There's a sudden hand on his arm, hauling him upright and Watson groans that's he's too tired for Holmes' nonsense at the moment but Holmes keeps pulling him, past the stairs and into Holmes' room. "I'm sorry, Watson, but I see your quarters are practically frozen and I can't let that woman downstairs attempt her vile tricks on you. I'm well-versed in her schemes, you are but a babe in the woods. It is my duty to protect you."
Watson wants to tell Holmes that he's being an ass, but he simply follows, grateful when he's set down into Holmes' bed, oddly cleared of the newspapers and old letters that are usually covering it. There's a fire in the room too, a big one and Holmes pulls the quilt over his shoulders.
"Be right back," he says and returns with Gladstone, whom he tucks under Watson's limp arm. "The peoples of the Far North surround themselves with their sled dogs during the bitter winter nights. Supposedly you can tell how cold it is by how many dogs you need to warm yourself."
Soft sounds follow, the crackling of the fire, a rustle of Holmes' newspaper and Gladstone's panting. Holmes mutters something about the snow storm outside and Watson drifts off, cocooned in warmth.
Watson wakes to a whispered argument outside the door.
"I say he needs broth."
"And I say he needs food."
"Pish-posh! You can't even take care of yourself, Mr. Holmes. You leave this to me."
"So you're saying you understand the complexities of enteric fever and its aftermath, Mrs. Hudson?"
"Fiddle-faddle! That's what I say to you!"
Gladstone yawns and licks Watson's cheek. Watson yawns back in reply and hunkers down beneath the blankets.
"Wait. Did you hear that, Nanny? You woke him up!"
"I certainly did not!"
"Evil. Pure evil. Now get me that broth."
"I'll give you some broth. Right in your ..."
He falls back to sleep.
Holmes returns later with a bed tray containing a large tea cup full of soup - meat and carrots in broth - and a full plate of toast. He crawls in beside Watson as he eats, resting his head on Watson's shoulder while reading his correspondence.
He points out things of interest while Watson chews on his toast and drinks his soup, wondering at the tea cup. "Hmmm?"
"Broke a bowl. She doesn't let me have them anymore," Holmes explains. He opens his mouth widely and Watson holds up a piece of toast for him to bite. Chewing broadly, Holmes tosses letter after letter onto the floor. "Look at this nonsense. The weather has discouraged all the interesting criminals."
Gladstone gets the last of the solid food straight from the cup. Holmes clears the tray away - if putting it on the floor by the door can be called 'clearing' - and crawls back into bed next to Watson, whose head is already on the pillows.
He wants to ask Holmes what he thinks he's doing when he spoons himself around Watson, settling in as if Watson is some sort of giant pillow. He decides he doesn't care as Holmes is very, very warm against his back and soon there's a nose pressed to Watson's shoulder, snoring lightly.
Outside, the snow is still swirling through the lamp light and Watson realizes that his leg doesn't hurt, not in the slightest.
"Odd," he says aloud, tugging Holmes' arm a little more closely around his waist. There's a vague thought running through Watson's mind, some indecent business about Holmes lips and their proximity to the back of his neck but he pushes it away, remembering Dillard and how revolted the good doctor was by his very existence.
That will keep you in line, Watson thinks, the shame practically burning through his blood.
It takes much longer for him to fall back asleep and when he does, there are, blessedly, no dreams.
He wakes up to Holmes complaining, as Gladstone has decided that wrapping himself around the detective's head like a hat is the best idea a dog has ever had.
Watson tries to help but Gladstone is relentless. Holmes grouches incessantly and it only gets worse when Mrs. Hudson comes in with breakfast and flaps the quilt up to Watson's shoulders, covering Holmes completely in the process.
Holmes defiantly flips down the blanket. "See, Watson? The attempts against my person never cease."
"Lemon and sugar, Doctor? By the way, Mr. Holmes, you have a dog atop your head," Mrs Hudson says, as if this is not an unusual occurrence by any stretch of the imagination.
"I know there's a dog atop my head and that's exactly where he should be," Holmes snaps back.
Watson slides up and accepts his tea. "I thought you wanted me to toss the rat-beast out the window."
"Stop talking like her and where's my tea?" Holmes sits up and finally, Gladstone is shaken free. Mrs. Hudson hands the tea to him, already made, exactly the way he likes it. He pouts anyway. "Poisoned, I'm sure."
She snorts as if to say she wouldn't waste poison like that, but she stays silent, deciding to leave instead.
They eat in bed again and Watson notes with some annoyance that they are surrounded by crumbs. "I've never been such a slob," he sighs. "It's detestable."
"Ah, but you'll never starve," Holmes says. He picks up a particularly large crumb as an example before feeding it to Gladstone.
"That's disgusting," Watson says, but he can't help laughing, just a bit. He laughs harder when Holmes slips with his toast and marmalade ends up all over his mouth and chin. The laughter dies down and there's a moment then, a breathless, silent place where time stands still as their eyes lock with the click of magnet to steel.
Kissing Holmes is almost an afterthought. His lips are sticky-sweet and warm, tasting of marmalade and tobacco and Watson hopes - prays - that Holmes might not despise him as much as the rest of the world does when he sees with his own eyes what a broken thing John Watson's become.
Two tea cups fall onto the floor. Holmes' breaks, of course, and the tray follows with Gladstone gleefully chasing the food to the carpet. Soon there are crumbs scratching against their bare backs and Holmes keeps batting Watson's hands away, insisting on doing everything himself.
It's maddening, it's wonderful and Watson eventually gives up. He lets Holmes have his way, his tongue and fingers both skillful and sloppy, much like the man himself. Vaguely, Watson thinks they should have locked the door, but Holmes' questing mouth surrounds him at precisely that moment and that's when all rational thought - good, bad or otherwise - flees.
There are no more visions of cruel doctors and their druggists with their endless vats of morphine. No more pitying friends or fears about where he last left his cane. The perpetual memory of his fallen friends slips from his conscious mind for a sweet moment and this is more relief than anything else Watson has ever known.
There is only Holmes, this bed and their home and he's never been more grateful to be alive.
Later, after he is spent, he and Holmes lay back staring at the ceiling. Eventually, Gladstone lets out a tremendous belch and they start to laugh. Holmes' brown eyes crinkle at the corners, there are toast remains clinging to the most awful places on their bodies and Watson decides to get up, as there are things to be done and staying in bed for the rest of one's life is not an option by any means.
Watson peeks out the drapes to see that London is buried beneath over a foot of snow. It's beautiful, such pure white blanketing the streets and roofs. He sighs when Holmes slides up behind him, hugging him around the waist, his chin on Watson's shoulder. "Usually I stagnate during this kind of weather."
"Me too," Watson says, grinning when Holmes nips at his earlobe. "Perhaps we could ..."
"... remain secluded until the city straightens itself out? That's a perfect idea," Holmes replies, tugging him back to the bed, not giving him a moment to clear off even a few of the itchy debris that cover it.
But this time Holmes lets him reciprocate, so any inconveniences end up being more than worth it.
Three years later a certain Doctor Dillard comes to be treated by the well-regarded Doctor Watson for a bad case of gout that he appears unable to handle himself.
He doesn't recognize the young doctor, who treats him with the utmost courtesy and professional regard. His medication - combining a few unorthodox, but effective, methods - works well and Doctor Dillard is thrilled, thanking him heartily.
Over Doctor Watson's shoulder he notices a framed note hanging on the wall. It's an open-ended prescription for morphine, written in a strangely familiar handwriting.
Dillard blinks at it, his throat tightening with shock and embarrassment but Doctor Watson only smiles at him. "Do no harm, sir," he says, patting Dillard's shoulder as he leads him out of his office. "And no harm is done."
Is it snowing where you are? SHEESH! Make it stop!
Reviews are appreciated! Thanks for reading.