Steady On

Characters: Watson, Holmes, Mrs. Hudson.

Rating: PG-13

Summary: In his own way, Holmes helps Watson through the worst of his PTSD after the Battle of Maiwand.

Word Count: 1,033

Note: Just a little something that came to me today.

It was in vain that he tried to hide it all from Holmes – the one man who could see through everyone. And, as his roommate, he was sure he'd be no exception.

He had done a good job of it, he thought, until he heard the distinct sound of gunfire coming from their sitting room just as he was mounting the stairs.

It was an instant and uncontrollable reaction. He let out a cry and tossed himself down onto the steps, covering his head and trembling uncontrollably. Holmes, alarmed by all the noise, flung open the door and came to stand at the top of the landing.

"I'm fine," Watson croaked, cowering against the banister. "Please – please, let me be."

Holmes only stared at him for a moment before turning on his heel and reentering the sitting room. Watson began to slink away, wanting to escape their rooms for a few hours. But where would he go? The streets, where the loud noises and bustling people made everything worse? Before he could reach a decision, a sweet melody from Holmes's violin danced down the stairs to meet his ears. Rising to his feet, Watson climbed the steps and tentatively followed the song. A bullet hole was now decorating the wall, but Watson didn't think much of it as he took a seat across from Holmes and closed his eyes.

He was accustomed to waking up at odd hours of the night, drenched in sweat after reliving every moment from the Battle of Maiwand in his dreams. He would stay up until dawn, fighting away the nightmares and massaging his wounded thigh.

He finally caught on to the fact that Holmes often didn't sleep himself and would, instead, stay up working in the sitting room. He could hear the sounds of his pacing and the plucking of violin strings all through the night. It took a bit of courage, but Watson finally rose from his bed one night and threw on his dressing robe before stumbling off to join Holmes.

He found the detective sitting on the floorboards with several stuffed folders in front of him and a hand tangled anxiously in his black messy hair. He didn't look up to acknowledge Watson.

"Do you mind?" Watson asked nervously when Holmes finally glanced upward to meet his eyes. He stared at him for a moment or two and Watson was sure he was going to be sent away and rejected. But, finally, Holmes gave him a nod and gestured at the floor.

"Come sit with me and tell me what you think of this case, Doctor," he offered. "I'm a bit stumped and could use a fresh set of eyes."

Watson wasn't sure if this was entirely true, but he still gladly accepted the case file as he grabbed a pillow to sit on. It was nice to feel needed again.

Stormy weather did nothing to help lessen the ache of his war wound. In fact, it made everything a thousand times worse. It was torture and it turned him into something vile and unpleasant.

"You seem to have offended Mrs. Hudson," a soft voice remarked from the doorway of his bedroom. He groaned and rolled away, curling inward and pulling the blankets about him. He heard a tray clink against his nightstand.

"I didn't mean to," he muttered through a clenched jaw as a spasm of pain seized him. "I honestly didn't. I just – ah…"

"Yes," Holmes said, out of sight. "It's all right, old boy. I've set your breakfast right here. I'll be in today but rather busy. If you absolutely must have something – a warm blanket or medicine – let me know. Other than that, I would prefer to be undisturbed. I suggest you reconcile with our landlady soon, seeing as I do not have the time to bring your meals to you. Also, I've worked very hard to be the bane of her existence and I can't have you replacing me."

Watson didn't know how to respond, so he only groaned.

A hand rested on his shoulder.

"Steady on, my dear Watson."

He thought the screaming was only in his dreams until he awoke and realized that the shrill sound of it was ripping through his throat.

"Calm down now, man. You're all right…"

In his dream, he thought the moisture on his legs was blood from the wound. Now he realized he had soiled himself and the sheets.

"Oh my God."

Holmes's voice was calm and infuriatingly comforting. "Shh. That doesn't matter now. Up you go."

Two strong hands grabbed a hold of him, but he pushed back. "Oh, God – no! Just leave me alone!"

Holmes held up his hands and stepped away from his bedside, his expression even. Watson then noticed Mrs. Hudson hovering in the doorway, watching with frightened eyes. He groaned in humiliation and tried to kick away the wet bedclothes.

"Mrs. Hudson," Holmes said softly, turning to the woman. "If you could please leave us alone, I'll take care of this."

Mrs. Hudson only nodded and closed the door behind her.

Despite Watson's protests, Holmes managed to pull him from the bed and strip away the sheets. Watson could only watch in utter shame as Holmes shrugged at the ruined mattress and guided Watson to his own room where he helped him change into new pajamas and gestured to his own bed.

"Go on and sleep here tonight, old fellow. I'll take the settee."

"Holmes, I couldn't..."

"You certainly can. Please, Watson, my bedroom is at your disposal. You know I'm not one for sleeping much."

After more coaxing, Watson finally climbed in beneath the sheets and Holmes turned to go. A sudden pang of fear filled Watson's heart and he held out a hand urgently.

"Wait!" he called, and Holmes turned with a cocked eyebrow. "Will you stay with me a moment? Until I fall asleep?"

Holmes hesitated before walking back to his bedside and sitting down on the mattress to watch over him. Embarrassed by it all, Watson quickly turned away and buried his face into the pillow.

By morning Holmes was leaning against the headboard, Watson's hand in his own.