Title: I'll Take Care of You
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Spoilers: None really.
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own John or Sherlock, (Heh! I wish!), or anything relating to the show or books. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk to someone about that. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat own all things Sherlock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle owns the rights to Holmes and Watson. None of them have given me permission to use these characters as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not them.
Summary: Sherlock doesn't always communicate well and sometimes that leads to problems. What happens if John suffers because of it?
Author's Notes: I made the mistake of reading one of the Make Me a Monday prompt posts and this idea caught my attention. The prompt is: Prompt from Mahamfic on The Game is On's Make Me a Monday #59: "Since I am currently sick, how about a fic where Sherlock has to take care of John when he has a cold or strep throat?"
I didn't exactly go that way, but there's an illness none the less. I hope it's acceptable.
Thanks need to be given, and here is where they go. Thanks to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for giving me a Sherlock I can get behind. Thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch for making this Sherlock so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank yous to Emma de los Nardos and Gemma for the super-fast beta jobs. Your input was invaluable and I owe you both so much! And my biggest thank yous to my guiding influence and my best friend, Ann. She's the best beta ever and the Sherlock to my John. Without her, I am nothing. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.)
Prompt from Mahamfic on The Game is On's Make Me a Monday #59: "Since I am currently sick, how about a fic where Sherlock has to take care of John when he has a cold or strep throat?"
I didn't exactly go that way, but there's an illness none the less. I hope it's acceptable.
I'll Take Care of You
Thunder rumbled in the distance as the front door to 221B Baker Street slammed shut.
"Sherlock?" John Watson called, coming up the stairs at a dead run. "Sherlock?"
"Hm?" Sherlock looked up from his microscope, frowning as John rushed into the kitchen. "You're wet."
The observation brought an angry glare from John.
"And you aren't," John retorted, his eyes narrowing.
"Of course I'm not. Why would I be?"
"Oh, maybe because you were supposed to meet me over at Manchester Square two hours ago?" John replied, peeling off his wet coat. "And yet, here I am, the only one who was stupid enough to stay out in a thunderstorm, waiting for you."
"Oh, that," Sherlock sniffed.
"Yes, that." John felt his temper rising and moved to make tea as opposed to throttling his roommate. "You sent me on that stakeout and told me to meet you there at 3:00. I thought at first you were just late, then I started worrying. Why didn't you answer your phone?"
"I was on a stakeout too, you know," Sherlock said defensively. "And the criminal showed up at my location. I couldn't stop following him to answer my phone."
"You could have texted me," John said, slamming the kettle down. "I could have helped you. At the very least I'd have known you weren't dead."
"I didn't think about it," Sherlock said, still looking in the microscope. "I followed Burns to his house and collected evidence. If this sample matches the one from the murder, we have him."
"You didn't think about it?" John knew that Sherlock got caught up in things, but this felt like he'd been slapped. He meant so little to Sherlock that he couldn't even bother to remember John existed.
"Don't be this way, John," Sherlock said, finally looking up.
"Don't be what way?" Suddenly, John's temper broke loose. "Don't feel ignored? Don't feel used? Don't feel like I mean about as much to you as that microscope? Friendships are supposed to go both ways, Sherlock. But it always seems like I'm nothing but an afterthought for you."
"John…" Sherlock's voice softened and he half rose from his chair.
"Don't." John said, his voice harsh. "I'm wet, I'm freezing, and I spent two hours in the pouring rain worrying about my idiot flatmate. I'm starting to get a headache and if I keep on with this conversation, I'm likely to say something I can't take back, so just shut up, okay?"
Sherlock looked at him for a minute, then he nodded and sat back down. John crossed the kitchen to turn off the kettle. Suddenly tea just didn't sound that appealing anymore. Without another word, he climbed the stairs to his room to change into dry clothes. Maybe a quick nap wouldn't be a bad idea either.
When John woke up it was dark. He felt the momentary panic of disorientation. Where was he? How had he gotten here? As the sleep cleared from his mind, he realized he was in his own bed. John shifted to see the clock. It was two in the morning. He'd slept the entire evening away, yet surprisingly, he felt as if he could sleep for another week. How could he be so tired? He felt his throat catch when he took a breath and thought perhaps he should get something to drink.
Sighing deeply, John tried to sit up. He was halted as a dizzying surge of pain shot through his back. Before he could do no more than wonder, waves of nausea assaulted him. He struggled through the pain and sat up. The nausea was worse in this position, so he got to his feet, stumbling down the stairs to the bathroom. He made it just in time to empty the entire contents of his stomach.
He sat gasping and shaking on the bathroom floor, wondering what had just happened. After a few minutes trying to collect himself, John struggled to his feet. He was still trembling and the room was spinning in a most unpleasant way. He made it to the sitting room couch, where he decided to rest until he felt up to the challenge of the stairs. He sat on the sofa, his body aching, his heart beating rapidly. He realized that he was cold and he pulled the blanket off the back of the couch, wrapping it around himself.
John was just starting to think that maybe he could make it to his bed when a fresh bout of nausea hit. He closed his eyes against it, willing it away, but his protesting stomach won that battle and he found himself once more in the bathroom, choking and heaving. Gasping, he struggled to the sink and rinsed his mouth. He was disconcerted to find that he had to hold on to the basin to keep from falling over. The room was still spinning as he stumbled his way back to the sitting room. This time, he felt lucky to have made it to the sofa and gave up completely on the lofty goal of climbing the stairs. He pulled the blanket around himself again, lying on the couch and drifting into an exhausted sleep.
He had no idea how much time passed, for he was lost in a haze of pain and fatigue. He was so very cold. No matter how tightly he pulled the blanket around himself, he was shivering from the chill and he couldn't seem to keep his eyes open. He couldn't remember being this tired in his entire life; of course, right now he couldn't remember much. He felt his mind drift and he knew he was going back to sleep.
John had just drifted off when he felt his stomach heave and he struggled to sit up, gasping as the nausea assaulted him, yet again. Weary and aching, he summoned all his strength when the nausea forced him back to the bathroom.
This time, there was nothing to come up. He'd already emptied out everything he'd eaten for the last year and a half, so he was left to gasp and choke as his stomach tried to force out food that wasn't there. He was heaving so hard that he couldn't breathe; he had the frightening thought of choking to death, and then the nausea passed, leaving him shivering and panting on the floor. His breathing slowed to normal as he sat there wondering if he should take up permanent residence here in the bathroom. Deciding that sleeping in the bath wouldn't be a very restful option, he once more forced himself to stumble to the couch.
Sherlock blinked, sitting up in his bed. Something had woken him and he sat, straining to hear anything in the darkness. When he was met with only silence, he almost lay down again, but something just felt off. He sighed, getting out of bed and pulling on his robe.
He looked around the sitting room, seeing nothing out of place, no shadows moving, no assassins hiding by the curtains, and was just starting to think that it had all been a dream, when he heard a noise to his left and turned to see John lying on the sofa. His white t-shirt stood out in sharp contrast to the deep shadows of the couch and Sherlock momentarily wondered how he'd missed him in the first place. That thought was quickly supplanted by the obvious question of what John was doing on the sofa when he had a perfectly good bed upstairs.
Before Sherlock could form any theories, John sat bolt up and dashed for the bathroom. Sherlock frowned, tipping his head in confusion. Then John's painful retching noises reached him and he understood. Of course - that was what had woken Sherlock. He really should have known that. Vomiting had such a distinctive sound. It had to be because his mind was still partly asleep. If he had been fully awake, he'd have…wait, John was vomiting?
Sherlock crossed to the bathroom and poked his head around the door frame. John was bent over the toilet, his back rippling in painful looking spasms as he choked and gasped. Sherlock's first instinct was to go back to his own room and let John be about his business. After all, sharing rooms didn't mean he'd signed on for this. But it was John and he looked like he was suffering, so Sherlock quietly moved into the room and folded himself onto the floor next to John.
He tentatively reached out his hand, touching John's shoulder in an attempt to let the other man know he was there. He wondered if John even noticed, but then the doctor gave a deep sigh and moved to rest his head on Sherlock's shoulder. Sherlock hesitated for a moment, not sure what to do, then he moved his hand to rub John's back.
"Are you okay?" It was an inane question, but Sherlock couldn't think of anything else to ask and he really was concerned.
"I'm still breathing," John mumbled against Sherlock's shoulder.
"Are you good to move or do you want to stay here?" Sherlock asked, trying to assess the situation.
"There's nothing left to come up," John sighed. "But I'm pretty sure I can't make it to my bed."
"I could help you," Sherlock offered.
"Thanks, but I don't want to deal with the stairs again if this isn't over."
"You could sleep in my bed," Sherlock said, after a moment's thought. "And we could get you a bowl. Then you wouldn't need to worry about it."
"No, it makes the most sense," Sherlock interrupted. "My bed is big enough for both of us and my room's on this floor."
It was almost comical how quickly John's head shot up and he was staring at Sherlock with huge eyes.
"You didn't think I was going to leave you alone when you're this ill, did you?" Sherlock asked. When John kept staring at him, he sighed. "I'll pull a chair in to sleep on if it makes you that uncomfortable."
"No," John said, his body relaxing against Sherlock's. "If you're sure, can you just help me up?"
"I'm sure, but you're going to have to move if either of us is getting up."
When John didn't shift his weight at all, Sherlock mentally sifted through scenarios in an attempt to find one that got them both to their feet with the least effort. He'd just decided to try a rather complicated Jujitsu move when John sighed and repositioned himself to rest his head on the edge of the toilet. Sherlock easily got to his feet and turned to offer his hand to John.
John looked at it and Sherlock suddenly realized that John was shaking. He was beginning to suspect that this was worse than he'd initially thought. He leaned over, wrapping his arms under John and pulled the other man to his feet. As John struggled with this new position, Sherlock moved to wrap his arm around John's waist.
"Put your weight on me," Sherlock said gently.
Sherlock moved them down the hall, slightly alarmed when he realized just how warm John felt and how much he was shaking. There was a moment when John lost what little balance he had left, pulling them to the side and almost hitting the wall, but Sherlock exerted greater control and got them to his room with no real damage.
Sherlock sat John on the edge of the bed and pulled back the covers. He helped him lie down, tucking the blankets around him. John settled in with a relieved sigh.
"I'm going to get that bowl," Sherlock said. "And maybe an extra blanket. You seem awfully cold. Do you need anything else?"
John gave a sleepy murmur that Sherlock took for a no, so he ran off to the kitchen and the linen closet. When he came back, John was wrapped in a shivering little ball, so Sherlock double folded the blanket and draped it over him. It really didn't seem to help.
Sherlock put the bowl and a glass of water on the bedside table and frowned. He ran ideas though his head, trying to come up with a way to get John warm. He didn't have an electric blanket or a heating pad, although he made a mental note to get both. Waking the poor man up for a hot shower was out of the question. He couldn't think of anything that he could stick in the oven to warm up for John. That left one option and he really wasn't sure how John would take it. But this was an emergency of sorts, so John was just going to have to deal.
Sherlock took off his robe, tossing it over the dresser, and climbed into the bed. After a moment's hesitation, he moved over, finding John buried under the covers, disconcerted at the amount of heat rolling off him. He moved, pulling him closer, and wrapped himself around John. At first, John didn't seem to notice. He was shaking so hard that Sherlock could swear he felt his own teeth rattle. Then John seemed to realize that he had a source of warmth next to him and he snuggled into it.
It could have been awkward; this was an incredibly intimate situation after all. But this was John and of all the people Sherlock knew, John was the only one he was really comfortable with. So he pulled John closer, attempting to give some of his body heat to his friend. After a few minutes, John's shivering lessened and he relaxed in Sherlock's arms.
Sherlock was just starting to drift off to sleep when John jerked out of his embrace, sitting up violently. Sherlock's first sleepy thought was that John had finally realized who he was curled up with, but he felt the bed heave and he suddenly understood.
"The bowl's on the bedside table," Sherlock said, flicking on the light next to him as he sat up.
John grabbed for it, hunching over and gagging. Sherlock moved over, wrapping his arm around John and helping to support his weight. Earlier, John had said there was nothing left to come up and Sherlock could see that he was right. His body jerked and spasmed horribly, drawing choking noises and gasps from John, yet nothing came of it. After a few, interminable minutes, John spit into the bowl and brought a shaking hand up to his forehead.
"Done?" Sherlock asked gently, reaching for the bowl.
John nodded, so Sherlock took it, leaning over John to put it back on the bedside table.
"You should drink something," Sherlock said, motioning to the water.
"It'll just come back up," John mumbled, but he reached for it anyway.
Sherlock kept his arm around John as he took a few sips of the water.
"Better?" Sherlock asked as John put the glass back on the table.
"For now. We'll see if I still feel the same when it's coming out my nose in an hour."
Sherlock rubbed John's back sympathetically, then assisted him in lying back down.
"Are you still cold?" Sherlock asked quietly.
"A little bit," John replied. "But not near as bad. Thank you for that, by the way."
Sherlock nodded, lying down next to John.
"If you need anything, just let me know," he said, settling in.
Sherlock relaxed and was almost asleep when he felt John scoot closer. Sherlock reached out and pulled John against him, wrapping his arms around him.
John's whole body ached. He wasn't surprised, but it made finding a comfortable position hard. He was finally warm, thanks to Sherlock and he was grateful for that. There was a level of difficulty when you felt like you were sleeping in a penguin habitat and John just wasn't up for it. He shifted again, trying to take the pressure off his protesting back.
"You're not, you know."
Sherlock's voice was quiet, but it still sounded loud in the darkness. John rolled to look over his shoulder at Sherlock who was sitting up in bed. He squinted when Sherlock turned on the light.
"You're never an afterthought. I just…I'm not good at this sort of thing." He was frowning and John turned over to face him. "I might get caught up in my head, but when I'm there, you are too."
"I'm in your head?" John asked, arching an eyebrow.
"Exactly. You get it."
"No, Sherlock, I really don't," John said, smiling at the oddness of this conversation. "What are you talking about?"
Sherlock sighed, screwing up his face in concentration.
"You think I forget about you, but I never forget about you. Even when I'm caught up in a case, I'm thinking how much I have to tell you and there's this running log in my head for you. But then when I'm with you again, we have entirely different conversations and I never get around to telling you everything."
"So you're saying that even though you didn't tell me the plans changed, in your head you did?"
"Something like that," Sherlock said, sighing again. "I'm really am sorry about this."
John blinked. In all the time he'd known Sherlock, no matter what stupid thing the detective had done, he'd never heard Sherlock apologize.
"No. If I had just texted you or called you, you wouldn't have been in the rain and you wouldn't be sick. I should…I just…" Sherlock looked fairly distressed. "I'm sorry, John."
"Sherlock, please stop apologizing," John said gently.
"But I really am sorry."
"I know that. You can't help it if you get distracted. And you did tell me in your head," John tried not to laugh at the absurdity of that statement. "Which, by the way, is not the same as telling me. Try to remember that?"
Sherlock nodded, then looked at John. There was something about his expression that caught John's attention.
"It wasn't entirely because I was distracted," Sherlock said, looking at the floor. "I honestly thought you'd know."
John's brow furrowed.
"How could I possibly know?"
"You always seem to know what I'm thinking or what's going on."
John chuckled, wincing when pain shot through his ribs. Sherlock reached out for him, concern written all over his face. John took comfort from Sherlock's touch on his shoulder.
"Sherlock, I never have any idea what you're thinking. I wish I did, but you're well beyond me."
"No, I'm not. You aren't trained to do what I do, but you can usually keep up if you try." Sherlock paused, looking down at John and the doctor saw honest emotion in his eyes. "You're the only person I know who ever tries."
"And you're the only person who lets me try," John said, smiling up at Sherlock.
John could see Sherlock struggling with his emotions. This was all new territory for him, John realized. Sherlock pressed his lips together and looked away and John reached up and touched the hand on his shoulder.
"Why don't we try to get some sleep," John said, attempting to defuse the tension. "I feel wretched and I should rest before my stomach tries to turn itself inside out again."
Sherlock nodded, turning off the light and stretching out next to John.
"If you need anything, please ask," Sherlock said quietly. "I'm going to…you're my friend and I want to take care of you."
"Thank you," John replied, feeling sleep over taking him. He moved closer to Sherlock, relaxing as he drifted off.
Sherlock closed his eyes, taking comfort from feeling the gentle rise and fall of John's breathing. He really was completely out of his depth, but John seemed to understand that. John seemed to understand everything, even if he didn't realize that he did.
Their conversation had gone better than Sherlock had anticipated. He'd expected John to get angry or maybe call him crazy. After all, who had conversations with people in their heads and expected them to know about it? But John knew him better than anyone else ever had and sometimes Sherlock forgot that he couldn't hear what was going on in Sherlock's brain. Sherlock hadn't mentioned that some part of him was also sure that John could sense where he was at any given time. That was just a little too odd to share. But he really had been convinced that John would know, would sense that he'd gone back to Baker Street. That he would wait in the rain had never occurred to Sherlock.
Sherlock reached out, resting his hand on John's and relaxed. If John could make the effort to understand Sherlock's world, then Sherlock could meet him halfway. He'd start by taking care of John until this illness had passed. He'd make him tea, he'd buy him soup, he'd keep him warm at night and make sure he rested. Then, when John was better, Sherlock would try to actually communicate. John might know what he was thinking, but would it hurt Sherlock to say it? Not to John.
Sherlock yawned, rolling onto his side and pulling John closer as he drifted off to sleep. This friendship thing was going to take some serious work, but because it was John, Sherlock was sure it would be worth the effort.