John was never one for statistics. For example, he knew that more people were killed annually by donkeys than in plane crashes, and yet he had seen twelve men die after a small carrier was shot down in Afghanistan. He had yet to see someone killed by a donkey. He also knew that mosquitos were responsible for the most human deaths worldwide, and yet when he closed his eyes it was always man slaughtering man that he saw. Statistics and John just didn't mesh; his life experiences prevented him from accepting that numbers could speak more truth than his eyes, hands, and memory.
Speaking statistically, however, John knew that he and Sherlock were thoroughly buggered. And this time, his life experiences and statistics agreed with one another completely. Two men standing a few mere meters from a vest loaded with Semtex didn't just walk away unscathed. Two men with multiple sniper rifles directed at their bodies didn't go home with all limbs and organs fully intact. Statistically speaking, the odds of either of these events occurring approached zero. Speaking from experience, John knew that the odds of either of them walking away unharmed were zero. Now it was just a matter of to what degree they would be injured.
His mind whirled through all possibilities in those last few seconds, quickly cataloging and tossing aside every option which had a high likelihood of Sherlock sustaining the most injuries. Their positions made things a little bit easier for John. If only Sherlock would look at him again, would read the plan in his eyes. If only he could warn Sherlock.
And then there wasn't time. John threw himself forward, springing to his feet in the instant that Sherlock pulled the trigger. His hands struck against Sherlock's waist, sending them both toppling towards the pool. He felt Sherlock gasp in surprise, but then he inhaled sharply, presumably to hold his breath. Good. For a moment, John thought that everything was going to go according to plan. For a moment, John thought that they were at least partially safe. And then the first wave of the explosion sent tides of concrete and tile rocking beneath their feet. John lost his balance, stumbling and thrusting his arms outward to shove Sherlock across the final distance into the pool. He himself continued falling towards the side, unable to regain his balance in the hailing stone and raining dust. His skull hit the edge of the pool with a wet crack, and then his limp body slumped into the water, a cloud of red immediately surrounding the location in which he fell.
Sherlock only deleted non-important information. Only disposed of the things which crowded up useful space inside his mind. Then why was it that the most important information at the moment was slipping through his recollection? He knew he hadn't deleted, knew that it was buried somewhere amid all the currently irrelevant data, but he couldn't find it. Couldn't think beyond John John Blood John Dead John Gone Gone John Gone.
His trembling fingers danced over John's unconscious body, desperately searching for any sort of response. His hand pressed against the gaping gash in the side of his head, but the blood continued to pour from between his fingers. But there was something else he should be doing, something to help force color back into John's face, something to make his chest rise and heart stammer back into service. He pinched John's nose and blew into his mouth, nearly gagging as a tide of chlorinated water and body fluids oozed from John and into himself. Of course, he had forgotten the first step. He rolled John onto his side and pressed firmly onto his diaphragm, causing the remaining fluids in his throat and lungs to seep out onto the shattered tiles.
Sherlock rolled John back over and began forcing air into his mouth once again. He didn't know how long John had been without oxygen, didn't know how long he had laid unmoving at the bottom of the pool. But he couldn't give up, not yet, not when he could hear sirens tantalizingly close. He continued his labor over John, not sure if he was helping or just prolonging the inevitable. He knew that his chest compressions were too weak, but he was too exhausted and tottering too close towards the fragmented edges of panic to strengthen the force with which he was shoving John's chest. He heard the first wave of rescue workers enter the building, and weakly called out to them. His voice was hoarse and choked with pain, but the acoustics of the destroyed pool helped carry it to the emergency response team nevertheless. He barely managed to hold off his pending collapse until three men in helmets appeared over a pile of rubble. He waved his hand towards John, beseeching them to care for him while he slumped into unawareness.
Upon seeing the detective's eyes flutter open, Lestrade gave a relieved sigh.
"Sherlock." He stepped closer to the man's bed in an attempt to gain Sherlock's attention. The detective continued staring blankly up at the ceiling as he sought to regain his bearings against the onslaught of pain medications and muscle relaxants slipping through his blood stream. Lestrade patiently waited until Sherlock seemed to have garnered more control before calling for his attention once again. "Sherlock, are you with me?"
"Lestrade." Sherlock appeared to be struggling through his recollections of why he was hospitalized. His face flickered through a range of emotions, including confusion, fear, pain, and worry. He looked up at Lestrade, his eyes lacking their usual sharp focus. "John?"
"Alive, but not well."
Sherlock slumped back against the pillows, closing his eyes as if he could block out the revelation that John was in danger. He laid there long enough that Lestrade began to wonder if he had fallen asleep once again before Sherlock finally opened his eyes once again. "And Moriarty?"
"We didn't find anyone else at the pool. It was just you and John."
Sherlock's jaw clenched, but he didn't say anything. Instead, he began looking over himself, taking in his condition. He wasn't a pretty sight, what with all the bruises and cuts streaking across his torso and face, but the majority of the damage was in his shattered collarbone. Unable to hold his breath any longer, he had come up for air just as a chunk of concrete fell from above and caught him on his shoulder. He was lucky that it hadn't struck his skull.
"How bad is John?"
Lestrade frowned, trying to decide how much information would be too much in this instance. He had been given the strictest instructions by Sherlock's doctors that he shouldn't agitate Sherlock while he was in such a fragile state. He had the sinking feeling that being honest would only serve to agitate the detective.
"He's in the ICU right now. He hasn't woken up since the pool; that was two days ago. They're pretty sure that the blow to the head caused some brain damage, but they won't be able to know to what extent until he wakes up."
Lestrade decided that it was best to forgo the "if" that should have been involved in that statement. They won't be able to know until when and if he wakes up. Sherlock, however, had already filled in that blank and writhing in his bed in an attempt to get up.
"I want to see him. Take me to see John."
"He's in the ICU, Sherlock. Nobody's allowed to see him except family. Harry's with him right now; she's taking care of him. You'll only make things worse if he wakes up to find that you tripped and broke you neck trying to go visit him while loopy from pain medication!"
The whole time Lestrade had been struggling to gently push Sherlock back into his bed. The detective would have none of that, however, and was writhing away from Lestrade's restraining hands and elbowing the DI aside. Lestrade cursed but finally gave in and pressed the button to call the nurses. They came and, seeing the battle Lestrade was fighting against an upset Sherlock, injected more sedatives into his IV line. The struggle continued for a moment longer before Sherlock collapsed against his pillow once again, frantically blinking in an effort to remain awake.
"You bastard," he slurred as he was taken back into unconsciousness once again.
As soon as Sherlock was released from the hospital, he badgered the staff until they informed him of John's current location in the facility. Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, and Sarah had kept him updated on John's condition, but he hadn't been allowed to visit John as long as he was still a patient. No amount of fighting and whining had changed his doctor's mind in this regard. He even tried calling Mycroft to have him intervene, but Mycroft had refused to help. Something about Sherlock needing time to recover before worrying about other people.
John had been moved from the ICU earlier in the week. This wasn't necessarily good news; it just meant that he wasn't on the brink of death any longer. Just meant that he would either recover or remain in his comatose state until the doctors finally gave up and let him slip away. Sherlock stood outside John's door for a moment, gathering his reserves of calm before stepping into the room.
The scene was essentially as Sherlock had expected. Harry was sprawled in a chair, her feet propped up on the foot of John's bed while her hand was up at her mouth, her teeth methodically ravaging each nail. She looked strikingly similar to John, but younger and with slightly more angular features. Her hair was the same sandy blonde, though, and her eyes the same liquid blue. She looked disheveled, all her clothes bearing the general rumpledness that meant they were either pulled out of a laundry basket or off the floor. Possibly she just took them straight out of the dryer before coming back to the hospital for the fifth day in a row.
John looked...broken. His hair had been shaved so the doctors could better treat the fractured skull, and his head was wrapped in a thick layer of gauze. The tube of a ventilator snaked into his mouth, forcing his chest to rise in a regulated pattern. The strangest sight of all for Sherlock, however, was the way his face was completely blank. Even in sleep, John's emotions were always dancing across his face, either in the set of his mouth or the arch of his eyebrows or the light of his eyes. Now, it was a blank canvas. No, it was a canvas painted black, no longer bearing potential for beauty. Just a black void to hang on a wall.
"So you're Sherlock."
"I am." Harry was staring at him, her eyes somewhat hardened as she evaluated him. Apparently accepting whatever conclusion she drew, she turned her attention back to John.
"I hope you're worth it, whatever comes of this."
"So do I."
Twenty five days.
"John, please come back."
After a patient has been in a coma for more than a week, their chances of waking up quickly approach zero.
"I'll buy all the milk and beans you want."
Approximately five to ten percent of coma patients enter a vegetative state.
Sarah clutched John's hand, chewing on her lower lip as she gazed down at his unmoving form. She gave his hand a gentle squeeze before leaning down to kiss his forehead and stroke her fingers over his cheek. She smiled as she imagined that she felt his fingers curl ever so slightly around her own. It was comforting to think that he was in there somewhere, mentally responding to her touch even when he couldn't do so physically.
She knew that everyone expected her to leave him soon. He had now been in the coma longer than they had been dating, after all. She didn't much mind, though. Her prospectives were severely limited by her dedication to the clinic, so putting herself back on the market when she had a perfectly nice young man waiting for her, albeit unconsciously, didn't seem like the most logical move. Even more importantly, she liked John. He was funny and charming, and something about him seemed to endear him to everyone he met. Even now, when he was unresponsive and unnaturally still, the doctors and nurses alike seemed rather fond of him. She smiled as she thought that, even unconscious, he exuded charisma. She would have to tell him that later.
She never considered that he wouldn't wake up. He was too strong and lively for that. No, John Watson wouldn't be taken down by a coma. He was going to live well into his old ages, all the while running after Sherlock and tackling crime with the insane detective. And maybe, if Sarah was lucky, she would get to come along for the ride.
John was fighting.
He could hear voices, indistinct and muddled by the layer of thick black smog surrounding himself, but they were there, they were asking for him, murmuring his name, and drawing him closer.
He lost the battle more often than he won it.
He opened his eyes once only to be dragged back down into the smog.
He gripped a hand only to fall even deeper into the void.
He curled his toes once only to feel himself yanked back into nothingness.
But he was still fighting, and, inch by inch, he was gaining ground.
He was here, he was free, he was home.
"Don't worry, John, I'm calling the doctor now. Just stay with me this time, okay? No more going back to sleep now. Right? Can you hear me?"
He couldn't nod his head, so he twitched his fingers in Sherlock's hand. His vision was too cloudy to see for sure, but he thought he saw Sherlock smile.
He struggled to keep his eyes open, but they continued to fall shut once again. Every time, Sherlock would clutch his hand a little tighter and start talking to him, demanding that he stay awake. John would twitch his fingers once again, and force his eyes back open. Each time he won that little battle, Sherlock would smile back down at him and press more insistently on the call button.
"You're going to be alright. Just stay with me. Stay here, don't go back."
"We'll still have to run some more tests, but the preliminary results are better than we could have hoped. It seems that he's developed a visual impairment, but that can be fixed with glasses, and his fine motor control has been severely affected. With physical therapy, he can regain some of these skills, but some of the damage will be permanent. We have wonderful programs that help patients learn to cope with such impairments, though, so I think he'll be okay if given time to recover."
"What about his speech? He's been talking...funny."
"Funny" was about the only word Sherlock thought could describe it. John was perfectly coherent, and he had been speaking off and on between bouts of sleep, but something wasn't quite right with the way he spoke. He took longer to formulate sentences, and sometimes words that didn't quite seem to fit were slipping into his speech. It wasn't obvious, but it became evident when one talked to John for more than a few minutes. Otherwise, it could be written off as a reaction to the medications that were still being pumped into his system.
"Well, we'll have to run more tests, but the neurologist's initial diagnosis is paraphasia. This diagnosis can only be confirmed once he's more lucid, but it's consistent with his injuries. The head trauma caused injury to the soft tissues below the Broca area of the brain, which is commonly associated with the formulation of speech. Paraphasia is one of the less severe forms of aphasia. Patients with it tend to replace words with those that are closely related. Once common example is replacing dog with cat."
"Is it permanent?"
"Unfortunately, yes, but patients can typically learn to cope with the disorder relatively well. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, we can include speech therapy in his recovery courses, and he should begin to show progress fairly quickly. For now, the best you can do for him is offer support and encouragement while he learns to adapt. The next few months will be a time of transition for him, and he will likely feel overwhelmed. Having a strong support team is vital to his recovery."
"Hello, John." Sherlock smiled, helping John sit up in his bed and arranging the food on his tray in such a way that it would be easier for him to reach his favorite foods. He put the jelly in the closest corner of the tray, predicting (correctly) that John would attempt to tackle it first.
"Hello, Shark-er, Sherlock. Have a good night?"
"I did." Sherlock arranged himself in the hard plastic chair much in the same way that Harry tended to sit, with his feet propped on the end of John's bed. It really was the only way to tolerate sitting in the chairs for any extended period of time. "Mrs. Hudson was kind enough to make me dinner. Of course, I had to pay for the meal by watching crap telly with her, but I believe it was well worth the sacrifice."
John nodded, now too focused on operating his spoon to make proper conversation. His brow was furrowed in concentration, but the spoon still wavered on course between the cup of jelly and his mouth. He paused, carefully correcting its trajectory, all the while cautiously watching the wobbling glob of gelatin to make sure it didn't slip off the spoon. After a few long, tense moments, the spoon finally plunged into his mouth. John happily sucked the jelly down, but his face immediately fell as he pulled the spoon away and realized that the entire process would have to be repeated over once again. And again. And again. And...again.
"Would you like help?" Sherlock offered cautiously. He wasn't used to this caring lark, wasn't used to feeling this compelling need to help despite having no clue how to help.
"Yes. I mean, no. I need to learn...Practice and all that." He smiled, but behind his grin hid the resigned glint of a soldier's determination. The look that he always got when a task was unpleasant, but still necessary.
"Right." Sherlock looked down at his lap as if contemplating the man complexities of his hands. "Sarah said that she was going to be stopping by later this evening. I think she was planning on bringing up some things from the flat. I wasn't sure what you wanted, but I trust she's competent enough to make a wise selection."
John faked choking on his latest spoonful of jelly, drawing up a shocked expression. "You mean she's wondered into the flat alone? Dear lord, man, are you mad? We'll never find her again!"
Sherlock chuckled, lightly kicking John's foot with his own. "Come on now, the flat isn't that bad. If anything, Mrs. Hudson has increased her mother-henning and had kept it more clean than usual. Sarah will be fine. That is, unless she has the misfortune of stumbling into my room. Then we might have reason to be concerned."
"I still don't think your bed-sorry, room-exists, considering I have yet to see it. I'm starting to think it's a bit like Pigfarts-er, Hogwarts."
"It's uh, an internet thing."
"Ah. Well, trust me, John, I rarely ever go into my room, and I only do so when it is completely unavoidable. I believe that speaks volumes concerning its state of affairs."
"That's a little...sad, Shark. Sherlock!" John scowled, bitterly ravaging a piece of bread as the muscles in his jaw clenched in frustration.
"It's alright. I don't mind. I would like to know, however, why "shark" is the word you so closely associate with me."
"I'd, uh, rather not say..."
"Fine. But I'll make up an explanation of my own if you don't tell me." He smirked, knowing that he could come up with some very amusing stories to explain John's peculiar nickname, if given the time. He also knew that John knew this as well, and would therefore relent and explain himself.
"It's just your...your, um, cheekbones. They're rather...hammerhead shark-like. And you...Well, you sometimes, on occasion, become very...predatory...when you're deducing."
"Oh." Sherlock leaned back in his chair, mulling John's response over. It wasn't completely unexpected, but it was also less revealing of his inner psyche than Sherlock would have imagined. He was somewhat...disappointed. But not in John, never in John. "Well, that's not bad at all. I was imagining that you had been hiding some instinctual fear of me which was now revealing itself through your speech impediment."
"Sherlock, brain damaged or not, I could fuck your shit up twelve ways to Sunday and still have time to make a cup of tea. I doubt I'm even capable of instinctual fear towards you." John smirked, looking rather proud of himself for completing the lengthy statement without a single slip-up. Sure he had said it slowly and with great care, but it was still worth note.
"I'm sure you could, John." And Sherlock didn't doubt for a second that it was the truth.
"Sarah, could I talk to you for a moment?"
"Sure, Sherlock." She smiled, allowing him to pull her into a corner of the hallway. He had followed her out of John's room once she left, claiming that he needed to get a drink of water and stretch his legs. He had, however, simply wanted to speak with Sarah in private for a moment. "What is it?"
"Well, John's coming home at the end of the week and...And I was just wondering if you would, well, if you could, come and stay with us for a bit? Just a bit. Just until we get things sorted and all that."
"Sherlock," she gave him a comforting smile, gently squeezing his arm. "I would love to, I really would, but I have too much going on at the surgery. I wouldn't be home often enough to be of much help. Besides, it's you that John trusts. I can see how much he hates asking me for help, and I would hate to force it on him."
"But I don't know how. I've never...cared for someone, not even with Mycroft." His eyebrows came together in a worried knot, and his hands were shoved firmly into the pockets of his coat. "I just don't want to mess things up."
"You won't, Sherlock. You just have to learn to be there when he needs help, even if he isn't willing to ask for it. And I'll be up as often as I can, and I'm sure Mrs. Hudson will help out around the house. You're not alone, trust me."
Sherlock scowled down at his shoes, cursing for the millionth time the events that led to John being left broken, left hurt in ways that Sherlock couldn't fix with a sneer and a clever deduction or two. "But if I need you, I can call and you'll come, right?"
Sherlock let out a sigh of relief, feeling a bit of the weight lifting off his shoulders. As long as there was someone he could fall back on when he inevitably let John down. As long as someone would be there to pick up the pieces when he messed up. Again.
"Yeah. I'm fine."
"I don't think I'm fine."
As the fifth grunt of frustration issued from John's bedroom, Sherlock dropped in violin onto the armrest of the sofa and made his way up the stairs. He stood outside the door, waiting for John's stream of half-muddled curses to abate somewhat before he tapped against the frame. John grew silent, but then heaved a long sigh.
Sherlock stepped into the room, his eyes quickly analyzing the scene so John wouldn't have to explain. He was sitting on the edge of his bed, his trousers done up and shoe laces sloppily tied, but his shirt was still flying open as he struggled to push the buttons through the proper holes. His fingers fumbled at the plastic disks, and each time he failed at forcing the button through the hole his jaw clenched and his breath came out in a sharp huff.
"Here." Sherlock knelt at John's feet and took hold of the shirt. He then held it still while John slowly began working on the button again. He simply sat there, occasionally adjusting the angle of the shirt so John could better maneuver the buttons, but he otherwise let John do it himself. He would never improve otherwise.
Finally, the shirt was in proper order, and Sherlock rose from his crouch. John remained sitting a moment longer, his shoulders slumped and head bowed so that he was staring at the floor. His hair had grown a significant amount; it now looked roughly as it would have when John was in the service, cropped short and orderly around his ears. He sat like that for a long moment, his breathing coming in steady bursts as he struggled against whatever emotion he was wrestling under control.
"You're doing fine."
"I know. I know I should be thankful that this is all...but I can't be...I just..."
"I couldn't remember how to give CPR."
"What?" Lestrade looked up from the file he had been examining beside Sherlock. The detective still hadn't returned to active service for the Yard, but he would still consult based on the files and photographs that Lestrade brought over to him. It was pleasant, in a way. He had been talking to Sherlock in a way that their previous arrangement had not allowed. It was awfully hard to get a proper conversation in when Sherlock was constantly sniping at one of his team and then dashing off on some chase or another.
"At the pool. I forgot how to give CPR. I dragged John out of the water, but I didn't know what to do with him afterwards. He wasn't breathing. I didn't check his pulse, which speaks volumes."
"Where are you going with this, Sherlock?"
The detective wasn't looking at anything in particular. He was just staring off into nothingness, as if searching for an answer of some sort. His fingers curled under his chin, making him look like a living, modernized sculpture of the Thinker.
"The doctor said that it wasn't the head trauma that led to John's loss of motor control. He said it was the lack of oxygen. That, if he hadn't been without air for so long, he would have likely only had the paraphasia to contend with."
"You were in shock, Sherlock. You were also pretty badly injured, if I remember correctly. Most people in your position wouldn't have even remembered to try and get the fluid out of his lungs, much less to start chest compressions. Quite frankly, he was lucky to have had you there and not a lesser man."
"It was my fault that we were there in the first place. Me and my damned arrogance."
"Yes," Lestrade frowned, not entirely sure how he was supposed to comfort a man that claimed he was a high-functioning sociopath. Clearly, that theory had been shot to hell in light of recent events. "But I'm sure that Moriarty would have found some other way of hurting you and John. The man's deranged; he wouldn't have set up that game and just let you walk away."
"Thank you, Detective Inspector, for stating the obvious. Now, I believe that you'll want to be off to arrest the stepbrother of your murder victim now."
Knowing a dismissal when he heard one, Lestrade collected his stuff and began heading out the door. He turned, looking Sherlock over in concern. The detective looked as collected as ever, though, as if he hadn't just been discussing things of a deeply emotional nature.
"Take care of yourself, too, Sherlock. You're no good to John if you turn yourself into a wreck."
"I want spaghetti."
"That's a problem easily solved."
"No, it's not. I want spaghetti, but I couldn't twirl it on my spork- fork. Then I couldn't get it to my tongue, no, mouth without dropping it on my trousers."
"If you really want spaghetti, we'll find a way to cope."
"What? Feed me like a baby?"
"John, between the two of us, we are in possession of two doctorates and many medals of accomplishment in a variety of scholastic areas. I think we can find a way to get you some spaghetti without damaging your ego."
"Fine. Off to Angelo's, then."
John not-quite-sulked all the way down the street to the restaurant. He trailed after Sherlock, desperately trying to rein in a better mood, knowing that Angelo would only patronize him by being overly jovial if he sensed that John was not feeling well. So he began listing all the things that had went well recently. It was a trick his therapist had taught him in an effort to direct his thoughts in a more positive direction. Most of the time, it worked at least a little bit. John was not, after all, one to wallow in self-pity.
1. He had successfully tied his shoes in under three minutes that morning. It was a new record.
2. He had navigated his pencil through the chunky lines of a maze without crossing the boundaries.
3. Mrs. Hudson had brought him some homemade raspberry jam.
4. Apparently, he was getting spaghetti for dinner.
Yep. That was about it for the day. Admittedly, he had slept through most of the day and spent another large part of it staring up at the ceiling. He had, of course, been working through some of his PT exercises while doing the staring, but since the staring had taken up most of his focus, he didn't think that the exercises should be counted as a productive use of time. It was when he had been going on his third hour of staring that Sherlock had interrupted to force him to go out to dinner. And now here they were, being led to their usual booth by an ever-eager Angelo.
Sherlock made their order without even glancing at the menu, even tacking on John's favorite drink. Little things like this were what made John feel so at ease around Sherlock, whereas everyone else put him on edge. He knew that he only had to speak if he wanted to around the detective; whereas everyone else consistently tried to coax him into conversation. He wasn't ashamed of his paraphasia. In fact, he was coping quite well, and found it much less intrusive than the lack of control over his hands, but he didn't relish the extra thought he had to put into mindless conversation. He had learned the value of silence, if only because the taxes on speech had been raised so high.
"A bit." John quirked his lips at Sherlock to assure him that he was okay. He didn't like needlessly worrying Sherlock, especially when he was so often a bother in other aspects of life.
"John, I can promise you that you're in no way inconveniencing me. I actually find our arrangement to be mutually beneficial."
"Well, I get to study the effects of a traumatic incident on the human psyche first-hand, which will be incredibly beneficial when applied to my understanding of human nature at large. And as a result of your time spent in the hospital, I have been able to collect a wealth of new medical knowledge and supplies."
John laughed, reading the implications beneath what Sherlock was actually saying. "What you mean is that you've been able to nick new lab supplies while I'm away at PT."
"Precisely. I'm glad you're keeping up." Sherlock smirked back at John, relieved to see that he had eased the tension that had built in the corners of John's eyes. He had learned that it was very easy to read John's emotional state, if only one knew how to decipher the subtle hints. Pushing John towards a more positive state of mind, however, was far more tricky.
Their food arrived and for a moment Sherlock and John both stared down at his plate in quiet contemplation, as if tackling a case for the yard. Sherlock looked about the table to gather information regarding the supplies available for the task at hand. He began running a list of every possible use of the utensils available, considering the many possible ways that bread could be used as an efficient delivery system John, meanwhile, cocked his head to the side, frowning just a bit.
"What if we just cut it?"
"Of course! The solution is so obvious. We merely cut the spaghetti into smaller pieces which you can then eat with a spoon, using the bread to help push the noodles onto it. Brilliant!"
"Why, thank you, my dear Holmes. I have my moments of triumph."
"Indeed, you do, old chap."
They continued their banter through dinner, Sherlock being sure to slow his usual eating pace so he didn't finish too far ahead of John. Instead, he kept up a constant stream of deductions regarding the other guests of the restaurant which had John snorting in laughter and staring in awe at other times. Sherlock didn't mind; he found that distracting John oftentimes had the positive side effect of allowing himself to indulge in his more theatrical tendencies. He rather liked being John's most sought-after source of entertainment.
"Shark! There's a fang on the ceiling!"
Sherlock quickly dropped the pipette he had been holding and rushed into the lounge. He hadn't heard John utter such a garbled mess since his earlier days of coping with the impairment. That it had returned so strongly meant that something was truly wrong.
"I mean, there's a spider on the floor. Jesus."
John was sitting in his arm chair, but he had pulled his knees up to his chest so that his feet were up off the floor. He looked up at Sherlock beseechingly as the little black arachnid crawled ever closer towards him.
Sherlock rolled his eyes, but he picked up a newspaper and squashed the spider nevertheless. He then swiped the guts up with a tissue and dropped it along with the newspaper into the rubbish bin.
"There. It's gone."
"Thanks." John eased himself back into his usual sitting position, but he still looked warily at the floor.
"You'll shoot a man without a second thought; you'll even leap across buildings to follow me, but you won't kill a harmless spider on your own?"
"Once you've been in the sand- desert, that is- for a bit, you'll understand. Scary buggers are everywhere."
"Right." Sherlock smirked, but he settled onto the sofa and flicked the telly on. He could tell that John was still a bit shaken, both from the appearance of the spider and the sudden relapse of his speech, so he figured that he would forgo completing his experiment for a bit. They sat together in comfortable silence while the TV droned on.
"You know, every time I see Mycroft, I have to stop myself from calling him Brolly."
Sherlock grinned widely. He had noticed that John struggled when speaking to his brother, but he had just assumed that it was John's hesitance to speak to anyone he wasn't completely comfortable around.
"I'm sure he wouldn't mind."
"I've actually been considering having a little "slip up" around him just to see how he would react."
"In the manner of a perfect gentleman, I'm sure, but I also believe that his facial expression would be something to behold. Are there any other interesting associations of which you haven't informed me?"
"Well...Sometimes I think of Anderson as Ducky. You know, the little green dinosaur from those children's movies, The Land Before Time? I'm still not sure why."
Sherlock blinked at John a few times before he could no longer repress the laughter. "I feel like a trained psychologist would have a field day analyzing these little nicknames of yours, but I find them quite entertaining. Tell me, do you have one for Lestrade?"
"Er, Silver Fox." John blushed a bit at that one, but joined in with Sherlock's laughter. "It's not like I'll ever actually call him that; it's just a silly name my head came up with for him."
"Freak, but only because she says it so much."
They continued going through their list of acquaintances, John nicknaming each of them as Sherlock requested. Mostly he hadn't considered a lot of them, but he simply said the first word that popped into his mind when Sherlock said the name. This led to some rather humorous results, and by the end of it, it had devolved into more of a game to see which one of them could come up with the most humorous nickname. After debating for a long time what Moriarty's would be, John didn't think he would ever be able to look at the man with a straight face. And god forbid if he ever slipped up and called him "The Murder Kitten" on accident...
Author: My little brother has a speech impediment similar to paraphasia, but it's not quite the same. As such, I feel like I didn't fully capture the complexities of the disorder. There are some things that research can't always tell you. My apologies if anyone thinks it was weak in that department. Hope you enjoyed it!