A/N: This story takes place between "The Enemy of My Enemy" and "The Air Conditioner." Because it was so fun with "The Adventure of the Swinging Snitch" many of the plot points of this story are drawn from one of the ACD stories. I'm sure it won't take you guys long to figure out which one! Any feedback is loved. Constructive criticism is inspirational!
Disclaimer: Don't own, no profits, only respectful admiration intended...
Warnings: Adult subjects, nudity, violence (off camera - so to speak), gets a little slashy in some places, but nothing openly revealed. The story probably doesn't really earn an "M" rating, but I figure better safe than sorry.
The Adventure of the Country Birthday
"Dr. John Watson?"
"You are zee friend of Monsieur Holmes?"
"Yes?" (Oh dear God, what's happened?)
"Zis is zee 'otel Grande in Lyons. He has asked us to call you. He is not well, can you come?"
"Is he injured?"
"Non, but he is very sick and weak. He says you are his doctor, and he will not go to hospital."
"Yes, I will come as soon as I can. Please, continue to check on him until I get there. If he gets worse call an ambulance. I'll call back with my estimated time of arrival."
"Merci, Dr. Watson."
"Merci, I'll be there soon."
I took a deep breath, then started checking train schedules. I knew that what I wanted to bring with me to France would be a hassle to try and get on a plane. Although it would take some extra precious hours, I felt it was better to not have to get delayed at the airport and have my medical equipment confiscated.
I started to make a mental checklist of what I should bring. Sherlock had been on his own in France for two months. Since the hotel said he wasn't injured, I was fairly certain that Sherlock was probably suffering from exhaustion, malnourishment, and quite possibly dehydration.
As I began throwing stuff together in a bag, I was caught between worry, anger, and pride. An odd combination of emotions, but one I frequently experienced since I began living with Sherlock.
I was proud of him, because I had just heard on the news earlier that day that the case he had been working on (working himself to death on, apparently) had just come to a spectacularly successful conclusion. His name wasn't mentioned, but I knew that the parade of bank executives from multiple institutions and countries being shown in handcuffs and shoved into police cars had been arrested through his efforts. According to the reports, they had been identified as laundering money for terrorist organizations and had been apprehended after a long and involved investigation. Millions of pounds had been confiscated, kept out of the hands of dangerous people.
I had sent him a congratulatory text which hadn't answered. At the time I figured he was probably still meeting with government and police officials.
I was worried now that perhaps this time Sherlock had pushed his physical limits too far. He tended to not eat, sometimes even forgetting to drink while on a case. His sleep patterns, which were always erratic, also tended to suffer while he was intent on an investigation. I had made him promise me to treat himself kindly, but it seems he didn't keep his promise. And that made me just a little bit angry.
Two months ago Mycroft had approached Sherlock about working with Interpol on investigating some suspicious financial activity in France. Usually Sherlock refused outright to either a) work for Mycroft, or b) work anywhere but London.
I expected an immediate refusal, but I looked at Sherlock, and he looked back at me. An unspoken memory hung between us: Alisha's beaten body.1
"Give me the details," Sherlock had said grimly. He was in France less than twelve hours later.
I had been in contact with him sporadically since he left, although I generally let him contact me, as I knew he resented interruptions while working a case. His calls and texts were brief as he didn't want to compromise the details of the case until it was time to move against the guilty parties.
I had been worried that he probably wasn't caring for himself properly, but I had resisted trying to be his long-distance nanny. After all, he had lived on his own before me. But he had never worked at this intensity for this length of time, and apparently it had been simply too much.
As I got in the cab to go to the train station I called the hotel back to give them my approximate arrival time. I again asked them to keep checking on Sherlock and to get him to the hospital if the situation appeared serious.
I then tried to call Sherlock. He didn't answer. I sent him a text:
On my way to you. Call me back or I call Mycroft - JW
A minute later my phone rang.
"Hello," I said.
"Hello John," Sherlock's voice sounded at least reasonably strong.
"I'll be there in about seven hours or so. How are you?"
There was a pause.
"When was the last time you ate?"
"A meal, or at all?"
I bit my lip, it was Sunday.
"What have you had since then?"
"Um, a sandwich. Some fruit, some pastries...I think that's it."
"Right," I said, "are you drinking fluids?"
Another worrying pause...
"OK, Sherlock, you seem to be coherent, so here's what I want you to do: try drinking at least six to eight ounces of fluid every hour until I get there. Call room service and see what they have in the way of juices and soups. Have them bring whatever they've got. Avoid any citrus, it would probably upset your stomach. If you start to feel dizzy or confused, call for help. Do you understand me?"
"Ok, Sherlock, just take it easy and I'll be there as soon as I can. Call me or text if you need anything, ok?"
"I will. Thanks."
"Ok, see you soon."
" Bye, John."
I hung up, then made another phone call.
"Hello, Colonel? It's John Watson."
"Hi John! How are you?"
"Um, I'm fine, thanks. I'm actually on my way to the train station, I have to go to France. My friend Sherlock Holmes has fallen ill there and I got a phone call this morning from his hotel."
"Oh, that's a shame! Is he going to be ok?"
"Probably. I'm guessing that it's simply exhaustion from overwork. I'm sure you remember how I told you that he was working in France for the last few months."
"Yes, of course. Well, I imagine you're calling to cancel your visit for later this week."
"Well, I have to say that it looks like I won't be able to make it."
"That's too bad, John. I was looking forward to your visit."
"Yes, I was looking forward to it as well. I'm really sorry about this."
"Don't be sorry! I know you have to take care of your friend. It would be ungrateful of me in the extreme to deprive someone else of the attention that I benefitted from myself! You are a remarkable doctor, John, I'm sure Sherlock's recovery will be rapid."
My friend paused, then continued, "You know, if rest and quiet is what your friend needs, the two of you could both come for a visit. That way, he can still be under your care, and you can keep your birthday plans."
"That's very generous of you, Colonel. I'll have to see exactly how sick Sherlock is, though, before I can make any definite plans. Also, I would have to see how Sherlock feels about it. He's been away from home for two months now, and he generally hates to leave London."
"Well, just let me know. I've got nothing on, so my door is open to either or both of you. I only ask for 24 hours notice, so my housekeeper doesn't have a fit."
I laughed, "Thanks Colonel."
"Quite all right. I'll let you go, just ring me when you know. And John?"
"Please remember it's 'Mike' now, not Colonel."
"Right, sorry Mike."
We laughed and hung up.
It only took a few minutes after hanging up for me to begin worrying about what state I would find Sherlock in when I got to France...
To be continued...
1 See my story "The Enemy of My Enemy."