Title: What Comfort I Can Give
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Rating: R – Just to be safe
Word Count: 3143
Pairing: Sherlock/John – Already established relationship
Warnings: Discussion of past Sherlock/John shaggage and use of the phrase "sex monkey"
Summary: When Sherlock pushes himself too hard, he gets headaches. What can John do to help the man he loves? Just a bit of fluffiness.
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 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. (Though if you could actually send a pretzel bomb to ACD, I'd be impressed.)
Author's Notes: This is just a little bit of fluffy Sherlock/John-ness. 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 for the input. I appreciate it. Thank you to Elin for reading this over for me. I spam her with these things and she still keeps coming back. 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. She always encourages me until I get it right. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.)
What Comfort I Can Give
John isn't sure what woke him up. He can still remember the hazy vestiges of his dream; something about Sherlock going shopping with him and an argument over milk. But that isn't why he's awake. John sits up, looking around in the darkness, but he senses nothing out of the ordinary. He's just lying down again when he hears a small whimper from the other side of the bed.
"Sherlock?" John asks, his voice quiet in case Sherlock is still sleeping. There's another whimper, this one a bit more drawn out and now John is worried. "Sherlock, what's wrong?"
"I think I've broken it this time," Sherlock says and John can hear the anguish in his voice.
John moves across the bed, wrapping himself around Sherlock's back and pulling him close.
"You haven't broken it," John soothes. "You can't break it."
"I'm pretty sure I did," Sherlock groans. "I think maybe I've blown a hole in it. That's what it feels like. It hurts."
"Yes, dear, that's why they call it a headache."
"That word is inadequate to describe this," Sherlock says, leaning back against John. "'Someone ripping your brain out through your nose with a fork' would be closer."
"Yes, but that wouldn't fit on the medicine bottle, now would it?" John asks. He leans down and kisses Sherlock's temple. "I'll be right back."
"You're leaving me?" Sherlock asks, a slight edge of hysteria to his voice. "I'm dying, my brain is bleeding and you're leaving me?"
"Sherlock, you've survived Chinese assassins. I think you'll live while I go get you some medicine."
"I'll try," Sherlock says with a sigh. "But get the bottle from the bathroom. It's closer."
John leaves the bed just long enough to get the Paracetamol and a glass of water. When he comes back, Sherlock is moaning quietly. John puts the water and the pills on his bedside table and crawls back under the covers.
"Sit up for a minute," John says.
"I can't," Sherlock whimpers. "I think I'm going to be sick."
John leans over and puts an arm around Sherlock, helping him up into a sitting position. He puts the pills in Sherlock's hand and turns to get the water.
"There are only two of them here," Sherlock says.
"Yes," John says. "And that's all you're getting."
"John, I need at least three. Maybe four. I have a high tolerance for painkillers and I've broken my brain."
"Take the two and let's see about more in a couple of hours. I'd rather not give you liver damage if I don't have to."
Sherlock takes the pills and John helps him to lie down again. Sherlock rolls on his side, his back to John and John snuggles up against Sherlock's back, draping an arm over his hip. He can feel the tension from the pain in Sherlock's body.
"John?" Sherlock asks after a minute.
"What does it mean that I see flashes behind my eyes?"
"It's means you have a headache and you're squeezing your eyes shut too hard. Ease up a bit."
"What if the flashes are blue?"
"I have no idea," John replies.
"But you're a doctor," Sherlock says. "You should know these things."
"Sherlock, it's nothing to worry about."
"But the flashes were red, then they were orange. Now they're blue, but I think they're turning green."
"Sherlock, just stop squeezing your eyes so tightly."
"That's easy for you to say," Sherlock says, an edge to his voice. "You aren't the one with the broken brain."
"You didn't break it."
"Yes, I did," Sherlock says. "I solved three cases in two days and I overloaded it. I think it was the last one that did it. I've never been very good at translating Mandarin and I think having to do twelve pages was too much."
"That was a lot of translating," John agrees. "But I don't think it broke your brain. I think you have a headache because you haven't slept in three days. You need sleep."
"Well, I would be sleeping," Sherlock snaps. "Except that I've broken my brain and I think I'm dying and it all hurts too much for sleeping."
"I know, love," John soothes, leaning over to kiss Sherlock's temple.
He kisses down Sherlock's cheekbone to his jawline and back up again, massaging Sherlock's skin with his lips in an effort to make him feel better. Sherlock turns in his arms and John continues kissing over his forehead. Sherlock leans into the kisses and John moves them down between Sherlock's eyes and over the bridge of his nose.
"Would you be horrified if I vomited on you?"
John pulls back to look at Sherlock in the dim light of their bedroom.
"The kisses feel nice and I think they might be helping a bit, but the headache is getting worse and now my stomach is angry at me too."
"I'd appreciate it if you give me warning before you get sick all over me," John says, going back to kissing Sherlock's forehead.
"I'll try, but I can't promise anything," Sherlock sighs.
The last word ends in a whimper and John starts to worry about Sherlock all over again. This isn't anything new. When Sherlock pushes himself too hard, his body rebels. John knew about that right after he first moved in, but he had no idea how bad Sherlock's headaches could get until they'd become a couple. The first time Sherlock vomited from the pain, John about hauled him to the hospital. Now he understands that it's just part of the case solving process, if Sherlock pushes himself too far. The official diagnosis is "stress induced headache," but the simple truth is that Sherlock gets blinding headaches when he doesn't take care of himself.
John tries to keep it under control, badgering Sherlock into eating a muffin or two, even when he's working or guilting him into a two hour nap if he looks too haggard. But Sherlock is Sherlock and nights like these are inevitable. As a doctor, John knows that while the headaches are excruciating, they aren't causing permanent damage. But sometimes, when Sherlock is gasping in pain, it's hard to remember that and it's never easy to see the person you love suffering.
Sherlock rolls onto his back and John starts to trail his fingers soothingly up and down Sherlock's sternum. He can feel Sherlock's reassuringly strong heartbeat and feel his chest rising with each breath.
"The flashes are purple now."
"Then stop squeezing your eyes shut."
"You keep telling me that."
"Because you keep doing it," John replies.
"My brain sends out electrical impulses, right?" Sherlock asks. John sighs at the seemingly random question.
"Yes, yes it does."
"I think I shorted something out," Sherlock responds.
"I told you last time that you can't short out your brain. And if you did, you wouldn't have a headache; you'd be dead."
"Oh, right. I'd forgotten that," Sherlock says. "Could I have sprained it? Maybe I sprained my brain."
"That would be better than breaking it," John replies. "But exactly how would you sprain it when it doesn't move?"
Sherlock doesn't reply and John sits up a bit to look at him by the light that comes in from the street. Sherlock's eyes are closed and he's breathing in that measured way that John has learned means he's fighting the urge to vomit.
"Do you need me to help you to the bathroom?" John asks.
Sherlock slowly shakes his head, but he doesn't open his eyes. It's a small movement calculated to minimize the pain from the headache, though John is fairly sure it doesn't help. John lies back down and takes Sherlock's hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. Sherlock squeezes back, his hand clamped on John's in a death-grip. After a few minutes, the pressure eases and Sherlock lets out a deep breath.
"Better?" John asks.
"Less likely to throw up on the sheets," Sherlock replies.
"Would you like me to make you some chamomile tea?" John asks. "Sometimes it helps."
"Maybe later," Sherlock says. "I don't feel like being away from you right now."
John pulls Sherlock closer, snuggling against him.
"Is the medicine helping at all?" John asks.
"Well, thirty minutes ago it felt like someone was carving my skull open with a dull blade. Now I'd say they're using a sharp one. Is that an improvement?"
"Not markedly, no," John sighs.
"Can I have more medicine?" Sherlock asks.
"One. I'll give you one more pill."
John helps Sherlock through the medicine taking process, then settles him into the pillows again. He rolls onto his side and starts stroking Sherlock's face.
"I think my brain is pushing my eyes out."
"It can't push your eyes out."
"I think it's swelling and pushing my eyes out." Sherlock's voice is tight. "Because now the pain is branching out and the whole area behind my eyes hurts."
John turns Sherlock to face him and leans into feather soft kisses on Sherlock's eyelids.
"That's nice," Sherlock whispers, so John keeps doing it.
"Feeling any better?" John murmurs against Sherlock's skin after a few minutes have passed.
"Not decidedly, no."
John leans back to look at him and Sherlock opens his eyes.
"I'm so sorry. I wish there was something I could do," John says, frustration in his voice. "I feel so useless."
"I know," Sherlock says. "Is it odd that knowing that makes me feel a bit better?"
"Of course not," John answers. "Being loved makes dealing with things easier."
"Say that again," Sherlock whispers.
"What, the dealing with things part?"
"No, the being loved part."
"You know that I love you," John says, reaching out to stroke Sherlock's face.
"Yes, but hearing it makes me feel better."
"I love you," John says, looking down at Sherlock. "You mean everything to me. I am yours, heart, body, and soul. I love you so much."
"John?" Sherlock says, closing his eyes.
"You should move as I really think I'm going to vomit."
John rolls to the side and Sherlock bolts out the bed, running to the bathroom. John follows, the sounds of Sherlock being violently ill drifting down the hall. John gets to the bathroom just as Sherlock flushes the toilet and rests his head on the rim.
"God, I hate vomiting," Sherlock sighs.
"I don't know a lot of people who like it," John says, leaning down to rub Sherlock's shoulders. "Why don't we get you back to bed and I'll give you a full backrub?"
Sherlock nods, his head still resting on the toilet. John helps him up, gives him water to rinse his mouth with, then leads him back to bed. Sherlock settles on his stomach, shirt off, and John starts to knead at the muscles of his back.
"Is this okay?" John asks. "I'm not putting too much pressure on your stomach, am I?
"No, John," Sherlock murmurs. "I'm fine."
John shifts his weight back, just to be safe; Sherlock did just vomit after all. He starts at the shoulders, making circles with his thumbs. Sherlock makes a small contented noise, so John moves lower, down Sherlock's shoulder blades. After a few minutes, he draws his thumb all the way down Sherlock's spine. Sherlock arches up into his touch and John moves to start kneading his lower back.
"Is this helping at all?" John asks.
"It takes my mind off the pain," Sherlock says. "Well, sort of."
John continues the massage, his fingers stroking along Sherlock's skin.
"What does the ringing in my ears mean?"
"Did it just start?" John asks, stopping the massage and moving to look at Sherlock's face.
"No, but it's finally starting to annoy me."
"It's part of the headache."
"How are my ears related to a headache?" Sherlock asks.
"You tense up from the headache and it makes your ears ring," John says.
"How exactly does that work?"
"Do you really want to know?" John asks, lying down next to Sherlock.
"Not really," Sherlock sighs. "I just like hearing your voice."
"I'm sure I could think of more interesting things to say than giving you an anatomy lesson."
"I don't know," Sherlock says, reaching out to touch John's face. "The anatomy lesson you gave me last week was very interesting."
"Well, yes. Only you would get turned on while I was explaining knife angles and tissue damage."
"There's just something about your voice when you go into doctor mode."
"And that explains why you had to pull me into a supply cupboard at the morgue? You couldn't have waited until we got home?"
"Not when you say 'carotid artery' in that voice, no."
"I think we completely traumatized that cleaner," John says, smiling at Sherlock.
"It's not like he could see anything," Sherlock says, rolling his eyes. "I was behind you and I still had my coat on."
"I don't think it was completely the visual that got him," John says, trying not to laugh.
"I wasn't being that loud," Sherlock says with a dismissive sniff.
"Sherlock, you were smacking my arse and practically screaming, 'come on, John, give it to me now.' And I think there may have been something in there about me being your sex monkey, but my brain was starting to short out by then, so I can't be sure. I seem to lose control of things when you do that deep throated growl."
"You didn't help when you started throwing yourself back against me like that."
"Yes, well, this is why we should wait until we get home for those sorts of activities."
"Then you need to stop using your 'I'm such a hot sexy doctor and you want me and my big brain right now' voice in public."
"You're mental; do you know that?" John says, smiling and ruffling Sherlock's hair. "Completely, utterly, crazy, and I love you for it."
"I love you too, John."
"How are you feeling?" John asks, taking Sherlock's hand.
"Like there are jagged pieces of metal imbedded in my brain."
John shifts, moving to a more comfortable position and he reaches up, running his fingers through Sherlock's hair. After a minute he begins massaging Sherlock's scalp while winding his fingers in those soft dark curls.
"Is this helping at all?"
"It's not making it worse," Sherlock says, sighing.
"Do you want me to stop?"
"No, I like having you touch me. And it does feel good."
John keeps playing with Sherlock's hair and he feels him relax a bit. John can't help but think about how much he loves this insane man that he shares his life with and how he never wants to think of a life without him.
"I'm not going anywhere," Sherlock whispers.
"How do you do that?" John says, awed as usual by Sherlock's ability to read him.
"It's what you're usually thinking when I have one of these headaches. And your body marginally tensed, indicating unpleasant thoughts. It wasn't hard to piece it together, John."
"I'm sorry, but I already lost you once. Longest, darkest year of my life."
"I am sorry about that," Sherlock says softly and John can hear the guilt in his voice. "I thought it was for the best. I was trying to keep you safe. If Moran had gotten to you, had killed you…"
Sherlock's voice cracks and John is moving to pull him close before he even knows he's doing it. John wraps his arms around Sherlock, holding him tightly.
"I know, love. I do." John kisses Sherlock's temple, trying to soothe him. "It's just…I thought you were dead and my world ended."
"But I came back," Sherlock says, looking up at John. "As soon as that bastard was dead and it was safe, I came back to you. Doesn't that count for anything?"
"Of course it does," John says, kissing his forehead. "I'm not angry, Sherlock. It's just not a year that I want to remember. But, I will admit, that seeing you there, standing in the sitting room, knowing you were alive, what other choice did I have but to take you in my arms and kiss you?"
"Would you be upset if I admitted that you only beat me to it by a matter of minutes?" Sherlock asks.
"Really? I didn't know that. Why didn't you ever tell me that?"
"It's never really seemed important before," Sherlock says, shrugging. "We kissed, we professed our love for each other, and we're living happily ever after. That's all that matters."
"It really is," John says, leaning down and gently kissing Sherlock's lips. "As long as I have you, nothing else matters."
"You do have me," Sherlock whispers. "All of me. Forever, if that's what you want."
"Of course that's what I want," John says, leaning his forehead against Sherlock's.
"Even if I never help around the flat and I leave my experiments everywhere and I hog the blankets at night?"
"Even if. All those things are a part of you and I love all of you."
"And when I keep you up all night for reasons that have nothing to do with cases or shagging you senseless? When you have to fuss over me and make me feel better?"
"Nights like this give me a chance to show you how much I love you. I only wish I could take away your headache. Sometimes I feel so useless that I can't make you feel better."
"You are making me feel better, just by being here with me," Sherlock says quietly. "No one else ever wanted to put up with me and you act like it's a privilege. No one's ever made me feel as loved and wanted as you do, John."
"It goes both ways, Sherlock. When I see your relaxed smile or hear your laugh, when you tell me about your childhood or when I see your control fall away in a moment of passion, all the things no one else will ever be allowed to see, I know that you love me too. And no one has ever cared for me or given me as much trust as you do."
Sherlock closes his eyes and snuggles closer to John.
"How's the headache, love?" John asks quietly.
"Tolerable. Which is an improvement."
"Is there anything else I can do?"
"Just hold me?" Sherlock says.
"For the rest of our lives," John whispers against Sherlock's ear.
Sherlock makes a contented noise and turns, wrapping himself around John and burying his face in John's throat.
"John?" Sherlock murmurs, his voice sounding vague and sleepy.
"See? You did make it better."
After a minute, John can tell from his breathing that Sherlock's asleep and he pulls him closer, closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep himself, with the man he loves in his arms.