Cab Ride Conversations
By Alone Dreaming
Rating: PG-13 (mild, for a bit of language and blood; you know, my norm)
Characters: Sherlock, John, Sarah, Mrs. Hudson (is mentioned)
Warnings: Spoilers for "The Blind Banker" and a bit of senseless whump.
Author's Note: Um, because he was knocked out which generally goes hand in hand with a concussion and Sherlock seemed rather sweet with him the next morning when they were sitting at the kitchen table; something about his body language was a little worried, certainly more so than usual. I don't know. Maybe this is why.
Cab rides with Sherlock, more often than not, involve a lot of silence. Normally, it's comfortable quiet, where Sherlock's considerable mind ruminates over things, and he stares out the window, occasionally glancing at his unique companion. Sometimes, it's utterly oppressive to the point that he wishes he could hang his head out the window and suck in sweet, sweet air while Sherlock sulks darkly, scowling at the back of the cabbie's head as though the man—not the circumstances—has offended him somehow. Conversation is the rarest, and usually, one-sided, with Sherlock explaining and he throwing in the occasional—often useless—comment. But any which way it happens, he finds that he spends a great deal of time with Sherlock in cabs. Even when he means not to, he ends up there, like tonight, with Sarah's perfume still drifting in his nostrils. Tonight, he'd meant to have treated her to a lovely evening that would have hopefully ended in her bed.
They dropped her off at her flat, the pair of them checking her rooms and closets for any lingering gang members. Sherlock had gracefully ascertained no outside presences (and assured her that she was not even remotely important, that they'd just taken her because they'd thought her leverage) while he'd staggered about, head whirling, stomach clenching, and wishing that he could go back to square one, when he picked her up, and head off to the movies instead. His grunted agreement and awkward hug did not give the impression he would've hoped, but, by then, he was almost helplessly dizzy and nauseated. He only wished to get home, quickly, before his stomach ended up on the rug. As the pair of them walked out the door, she grabbed his wrist and peered into his eyes, her expression clinical instead of romantic.
"Pupils are reacting pretty slow, John," she observed, pushing his hair away from the bloody cut. They hadn't stopped with the paramedics, at Sherlock's insistence, keeping things quiet as possible. "Probably a concussion. Have him keep a watch on you, all right?"
He didn't nod, simply grunted his agreement, and then, to pacify her glare, assured that he would tend to it the moment he got home. After all, he teased, even as he felt Mrs. Hudson's thoughtfully prepared snack platter climb up his throat, her hands were shaking so much, he'd probably lose an eye to her. She laughed—to her credit, for he could not think of many women who would recover from a kidnapping and a near death situation so fast—and pecked him gently on the cheek. That tiny promise, the gentle brush of lips on flesh, gave him the energy to limp down to where Sherlock waited, cab running, meter ticking.
So, he rides quiet, this silence one of pure exhaustion and fading consciousness. Sherlock has an elbow on the door, his eyes fixated out the window, as he no doubt categorizes the events of the day. His free hand rests delicately in his lap and he looks every bit as at ease as if they'd just had a nice dinner and polite conversation; in fact, if it weren't for him, bloodied and roughed up, the cabbie would no doubt think they were just two normal blokes out for the night. The way he keeps glancing back in the mirror gives the impression that they've come off as a bit shady, instead, and he closes his eyes to avoid the continually climbing eyebrows.
He probably shouldn't, he reasons, leaning his head back, seeing as Sarah's right; he has a concussion, not an awful one, but strong enough to make his vision questionable and his memory sloppy. No doubt, like this, he'll drift off to sleep before they pull up to Baker Street and, if he's bleeding onto his brain, he'll fall into a coma and die. The doctor in him commands him to open his eyes but he's never been a hypochondriac (or even entirely reasonable), so he ignores it and lets his brain amble through the unseen pathways of half-consciousness. No singular or well-formed thought stumbles upon him as the cab shakes down roads and turns about corners; he falls into the flashes of color behind his eyelids and the peacefulness just before actual sleep. The past two days have been exhausting, overwhelming, even, and he cannot remember the last time he had any real rest…
"John?" Sherlock's voice, far away, pressing knowledge onto him. "John?"
"Hmm?" he manages, too tired to move, even if it's to make him feel more comfortable. As he drifted, he seems to have happened upon the perfect position, his head leaning against the softer portion of the seat, his body pressed against the warmth of the door. Except, and he doesn't think about this too hard or with too much worry, the door happens to be on his left and he's settled towards the right.
"Need help with him, guv?" The cabbie sounds like he's calling from the other end of a football field and he can't be bothered to answer.
"No, we'll manage, thank you," a brisk shake of his shoulder, "John. We've reached the flat."
He has no interest in flats or the stairs that come with them or the maze of junk that inhibits his ability to maneuver about the place. But Sherlock sounds insistent, and he knows that the man's patience treads a fine line between cheese cloth thin and nonexistent; he blinks at the street lights, the other cars passing on the road as they try to dissolve into blurry masses of color and lines. His pillow shifts underneath him, forcing him to take some of his own weight. Even so, he can't seem to focus as he sits up, swaying, lids threatening to droop down. A hand guides him out, towards his right, and he follows obediently. His feet brush the street, floating clumsily above it so when he stands he feels as though he's balanced on marbles and grease. Sherlock must have paid the cabby because he's already in the doorway, heading upstairs.
The door appears very far away as he bobs about. His toes catch on the curb, nearly taking him to his knees; he staggers a little left, a little right, his head throbbing against his unsteady steps until his hand comes to rest on the fence. Before him, like bloody Everest, stands the two steps to the door; his mind cannot even process the staircase afterwards because those two stairs have overtaken every bit of logic and problem solving he has. Sherlock would laugh about this, make some derisive comment about how lovely it must be to be so vapid, but, at least, he would solve this situation. Sherlock would swoop in and tell him exactly how he could retain his balance enough to ascend without throwing up, where exactly to place his feet so they would mystically carry him through the door.
He has officially proved himself the greatest loser in all of London. And the moment Sherlock Holmes discovers he rooms with a class-A idiot, he'll toss him out on the street and he'll be a homeless, boring indigent once more. Sarah will figure it out too, how ridiculous he is in real life, realize that she has a much better chance with a different man, and he'll be alone, waiting for something, anything to happen. He sits, his legs jello in an earthquake, and waits for some answer to strike him (or for Sherlock to toss his bag down the stairs as a precursor to "Find a new place") but comes up miserably blank. Bloody concussion, his left brain moans feebly before croaking. And then he's a bit confused as to why he's sitting there, chilly, in the first place.
He thinks it like Afghanistan after the sun set and the moon leached the heat from the Earth, leaving him chilled under his sunburn. The concrete under his fingers crumbles into dust, his mouth dries out and once again he looks up at Murray who keeps snapping his fingers in his face, demanding he focus. Stay with me, John, he commands, his mouth moving but no sound coming out. Just a bit longer, mate, huh? Got all those pretty ladies waiting for us back home. Nope, nope, eyes open and front, that's it. You wouldn't leave me to deal with Harry, would you? She'll bloody tear me up, mate. John? John! The stars twinkle, his back's wet, and all he can think is how very pretty the sky looks and how he never really noticed it before.
He snaps back to the present, his rear soggy from the steps, his arms cold, his face stiff down one side. Before him, squats a somewhat puzzled Sherlock Holmes, judging by his raised eyebrows and blank expression. He looks as though he's found a particularly disgusting but interesting piece of evidence and is uncertain whether he wants to leave it for Anderson or bring it with.
"Are you coming inside? Or do you prefer the doorstep?" Sherlock asks, as though he's chosen to sit down here and hasn't been damned to it by vertigo and disorientation.
He's finding the words difficult to maneuver both in his head and mouth. He doesn't dare nod, preferring not to pass out into Sherlock's arms like a damsel in distress, but everything looks a bit grey along the edges just the same.
Luckily, he and Sherlock spend a lot of time in silence. The lack of response doesn't stop the world's only consulting detective from reaching out a hand to him, nor does it stop him from accepting the help. The change in altitude throws off his precarious balance and he tastes the wine for the second time that day, as he tilts this way and that. Sherlock steadies him, holds him at the elbow as they start the hideous climb. Bright flashes keep obscuring his vision, making his feet slip and more of his weight lean on his flat mate, who, from what he's seen, avoids intimate contact of all sorts. No doubt this is awful for him, he reasons, no doubt he'll ask me to go after this. The landing greets him and his strength deserts him, completing his mortification.
Later, how much, he's uncertain, he wakes up with that feeling still drowning him. His eyes open against his will—he may not be a coward but he's not a fan of confrontation—and he finds himself arranged on the couch, a blanket over him. A drop of cold water traces an uncomfortable path down his nose, onto his lips, and continues towards his neck. Not the first, judging by how damp his face is, and not the last, as another starts its descent.
"Mrs. Hudson said it would make you feel better," Sherlock's disembodied voice haunts him. He doesn't dare move more than an inch lest he disintegrate from embarrassment. "Having never found her knowledge less than accurate, I chose to follow her advice."
He has the peas he bought last week perched in an awkward u-shape, avoiding the injury. It does help a bit, he decides, eases the headache that's plaguing him. Tentatively, he raises a leaden arm to touch where the injury is, traces up the side of his face so he doesn't shock himself, and realizes, with some bemusement, that the flaking blood has departed. In fact, all he finds is a sticking plaster neatly placed over the wound which hurts like hell when he touches it, but appears to have been cared for. Taking a risk, he tilts his head to locate his roommate.
Sherlock has moved one of the armchairs so that it's tremendously close to the couch. So close, even, that he's easily within reaching distance. More interesting still, is the tiny crease between Sherlock's brows and the glass of water he holds in his one hand. On the table rests John's first aid kit, hastily pulled apart, used bits of gauze and cotton balls lying about with open bottles of antiseptic standing at the far end, dangerously close to one of Sherlock's unknown chemicals.
"Painkiller?" Sherlock offers. "Mrs. Hudson said they would help as well. I've done a bit of research while you were unconscious and there's a possibility you're suffering from a slow bleed on your brain. Several of the symptoms are present and the website suggested that it would be in your best interests for me to wake you up at regular intervals and ask you questions which will gauge your ability to reason. Is every two hours sufficient? And what sorts of questions are best, seeing as my reason far exceeds your own? As a Doctor, I assume that you would know best and one must take into consideration that not everything one finds on the internet is fully accurate, so—"
He trails off as John reaches shakily forward to take the pills from him and the water. The hovering increases as John scoots up against the arm of the couch, sagging slightly as the entire flat shifts to the side. Pills in his mouth, sipping the water, he tentatively touches his forehead again.
"I may have done it wrong," Sherlock admits. "I have no experience in these matters and I'm unlikely to retain anything. Though I am willing to admit it has demonstrated a certain amount of… necessity within the past few hours, I feel first aid will not become routinely important."
Sherlock looks so earnest underneath his aloofness, so nervous about the eyes, that John finds himself speechless. He takes another sip of the water as Sherlock folds his hands and studies his hairline with unnecessary intensity; one would think he intended on healing the cut with his mind. Sherlock's left hand migrates up to his head, catching one of his curls and twisting it; his gaze stays fixed on the plaster though his mind has no doubt drifted somewhere else. John finds his eyes heavy so he lets them close, his mind drifting but into weary and perfect silence.