Written for a prompt in this week's Make Me a Monday at the LiveJournal comm, sherlockbbc: "...craving for sick!Sherlock fic. I want to see that superhuman facade crack a little. I want to see Sherlock try to maintain it through the signs of a common illness. Bonus points for comforting!/exasperated!John."
"Something's wrong," he muttered as his ripped through yet another medical dictionary. "Doesn't fit. No. Wrong. Wrong. But why's it wrong? It can't be…"
I put my pen down and stared at the list of notes I had been compiling for the past hour. "You mean the autopsy got it wrong?"
"They must have. Look at the man's habits, his nature! That blow to the head did not cause his death—it was something much more unexpected, more unusual. I just can't think of what it is!" Sherlock massaged his temples with a thumb and forefinger, his eyes squeezed shut in intense concentration.
I stretched in my chair. "Perhaps a bit of lunch would help."
"Digestion rots my brain."
I scoffed. "You are kidding."
He dropped his hand from his brow and winced slightly. "I need the energy elsewhere—for memory, thinking, pure reason. I need to churn things in my head, not my stomach."
I cocked my head to the side. "Out of curiosity, when was the last time you ate?"
"I don't care to remember."
He ignored me. "Fancy a trip to morgue? I need to see the victim's wound again —it will help me think."
"Nourishment would help you think," I retorted.
"Are you coming, John, or are you just going to sit there and parrot back nonsense?"
The morgue would stimulate no more thought in him. One glance at the body and he stepped back hesitantly, his frame slightly quivering.
"What's wrong with it?" I asked, glancing over the cadaver in an effort to see the cause of his strange reaction.
"Nothing. Nothing's wrong," Sherlock cleared his throat and approached the table again, bending down to peer closely at the deceased man's head. Beads of sweat had formed on his brow, and every now and then he would shake his head, as if willing himself to focus.
He wiped a gloved hand over his forehead. "Is it too much to ask for this place to be the proper temperature?" he growled.
I frowned. "It's almost freezing in here."
Sherlock lifted his head, his eyes darting about the room in quick circles before blinking several times in succession. "Is it?"
And then he collapsed to his knees.
"Sherlock!" I knelt down beside him and placed a palm against his forehead. "You're feverish! And still you insisted on coming here!"
"Get off!" was the snarling response, and he shoved me aside and struggled to his feet, his knees now visibly shaking. His hands clutched tightly at the table to steady himself as he tried to continue his study of the body before him.
He winced, closing his eyes. "Don't shout, John. My ears are ringing."
"You're also running a very high fever. Or did that escape your attention?"
He glared at me. "It's not important."
"But the work is?"
"Don't be ridiculous."
"So you would have me sit around the flat and let the case slip away, is that it?"
"Far better than trying to solve it from the floor!"
He ignored me and continued to examine the subject with his magnifier. I noticed his breathing had quickened and as the seconds passed, his strength to stand finally gave out again.
I briefly considered the option of hospital, but watching him inch his way back to lean against the wall removed the thought. There would be no convincing him of any such thing. Already he was struggling to stand again, but when he had sunk to the floor a second time, I found there was no other choice in the matter.
"Sherlock, I'm calling a cab."
He threw me a dazed look. "I'm not finished with my work."
"I don't care. We're going home."
It was obvious he was fighting for coherent thought. "John, I'll be fine in a moment. Just give me a-"
I strode over and held out a hand. "Now, Sherlock."
I had never seen him look so defeated. He reached up and feebly gripped my arm, and I pulled him to his feet.
"I won't eat that."
"Do you know why you're sick?"
He shifted under the covers and began muttering into his pillow. "I am not sick. Just momentarily deposed."
I tossed the tray I was carrying onto the bedside table with a clatter. "Sherlock, you're human!"
"That is the predominant theory, though some may argue with that conclusion."
I rolled my eyes. "No, that is a fact. You above all should know that."
He tried to sit up in bed, but immediately sank back down with a look mingled with nausea and contempt. "Normal people get all kinds of silly sicknesses, and I don't see why-"
"You should be one of them?"
"Yes. If something can knock me down, it had better be phenomenal."
I crossed the room and returned with another pillow, stuffing it behind the others in an effort to help him sit up properly. "So if you caught the bubonic plague, then you'd be happy?"
"Ah, that would be brilliant."
"Of course it would. I'll be back with some tea." I pointed to the tray beside him. "Eat your soup or I'll force feed it to you. It's malnourishment that got you into this mess to begin with. The lack of food weakened your immune system, you know."
"Oh, not that again," came the drowsy reply.
I slipped from the room and headed for the kitchen, musing. It always amazed me how a mind as brilliant as Sherlock's could simply choose to overlook necessary daily functions. It was if life were the strangling force that constantly held him back from achieving that highest of potentials. Potentials even mortals were never meant to reach.
I returned to find him sitting on the floor, leaning delirious against the wall with his coat crumpled in his lap.
"I have to work, John," he murmured, still staring down at his long overcoat.
I sighed and bent to meet him at eye level. "No, you don't. Not when you can't."
"Weakness shouldn't hinder the mind."
"No, but without the body, what good is the mind, hmm?"
"The mind can think, reason, solve."
"Yes, but it cannot act."
"Suppose it doesn't all come back."
I smiled and patted his knee. "It will. I've never heard of a fever that could rob Sherlock Holmes of all his enduring brilliance, human though he may be."