What You Didn't Know
As Sherlock and John rushed through the front door and into the relative security of their own small flat within 221B Baker Street their breathless gasps turned into a mutual smile of joyous excitement, and finally into a hearty laugh as both realised simultaneously that each had shared in the others thrill of the chase.
Sherlock looked slightly pale as he looked back at John – but one thing the young military doctor had come to realise about his strange new acquaintance over the past twenty four hours was that he didn't exactly live in a manner conducive to good health. Throughout the hours he'd spent with him he hadn't seen him eat once, he hadn't swallowed a drop of water to Watson's knowledge, and he felt sure that Sherlock couldn't have slept for any more than a couple of hours the previous evening – as he'd been texting him half the night about the case. In the end John had had to switch his own phone off in order to restore any hope of getting any sleep himself.
"Mrs Hudson, Doctor Watson will take the flat!" He called – immediately sparking a mild chesty rattle to rise up from the pit of his throat. Although on first glance Sherlock didn't appear unfit – tall and slender, although Watson hadn't seen him eat, ha hadn't seen him take a single swig of alcohol, or light up a cigarette whilst he'd been in his company either. But they had run quite some way, and even Watson, who prided himself on at least a certain degree of fitness – being a military man – had started to feel the strain as they'd turned towards home.
Now however the young doctor frowned. "How did you know that?" He asked – he had not long since come to a decision on the matter himself, and for all of Sherlock Holmes' brilliance he couldn't possibly be able to pluck the identity of a thought from somebody's conscience as soon as it popped into their mind. Sherlock meanwhile was still coughing, slightly more violently now, and taking deep, choking breaths of air in between bouts of the dry hacking which had seized him.
"Are you alright?" Watson asked. There was a knock on the door at that moment however, and Sherlock simply motioned towards it with one slightly shaking hand, brushing off his new acquaintance's concern – and the doctor went to answer it. Of course Watson didn't know very much about his new flatmate as of yet, but he seemed a sensible man – his life ruled by logic and cold, hard fact. Presumption and speculative observation appeared to be the enemy in his eyes – and he felt sure that he would let him know if there was anything seriously wrong.
As he opened the front door, letting the draft creep in from the cold night outside Watson was surprised to find that it was Angelo standing on their front doorstep. He starred in shock for a moment, waiting for an explanation, as the restaurateur of questionable character smiled back at him like a Cheshire cat before holding out the walking stick for him to take. Watson simply looked at it, turning to Sherlock who motioned towards it with a small self-satisfied smile as though it provided all the answers, before the doctor gratefully accepted it.
"Sherlock rang to let me know you'd left this." Angelo explained. "He said you might be needing it."
"Yes… err… thank you." Watson smiled, a small chuckle working its way up from the depths of his throat. He realised what had happened immediately, he'd been so wrapped up in the thrill of the chase that he'd completely forgotten about the pain in his leg – but could it really be possible that it had only taken a mere twenty-four hours with Sherlock to bring about a change which the psychologists and councillors had been working for months to try to achieve? Perhaps that had been the reason why he had decided to take the flat. Sherlock had been right – he did muss the army. His life since being invalided out had been devoid of pretty much anything beyond the bare basics, and Sherlock, despite all his eccentricities, had managed to inject some excitement and sense of purpose back into it again.
As Angelo left, and Watson closed the door behind him, he smiled to himself and sighed – perhaps there was hope after all he thought to himself.
Sherlock had stopped coughing now, but as Waston turned back to face him he now realised that he had relocated to sit on the bottom step, one arm still resting against and clutching the banister, and was taking short, shallow breaths. He didn't appear in any distress, rather just taking a moment to catch his breath despite the length of time they'd now been back, but Watson had been about to approach to check that he was alright anyway when Mrs Hudson burst from her own downstairs apartment, and hurried towards them – evidently in some distress.
Watson realised that despite the length of time which had appeared to have passed it could on fact have been no longer than a matter of seconds since Sherlock had called to her.
"Sherlock, what have you done?" She wailed, and Sherlock looked at her perplexed.
"Upstairs." She motioned, reading his confused expression, and both men exchanged a momentary glance before Sherlock stiffly eased himself up off the floor, and breathlessly bolted up the stairs – Watson following. They both burst through the open door of the small living area to find Lestrade and his team ransacking their apartment.
"What's going on?" Watson exclaimed, Sherlock just looked on at the state of chaos unfolding in front of him – their small flat had literally been turned upside down by the hoards of police officers who'd invaded their privacy – he looked livid with anger, but didn't say anything.
"It's a drugs bust." Lestrade explained quite casually.
"Drugs?" Watson remarked. "Oh come on Lestrade, have you seen this man? And I sure as hell would not…"
"You might want to keep your mouth shut!" Sherlock suddenly snapped at Watson with this however, and the room fell silent. Watson, slightly taken aback more so by the connotations in his new flatmates statement than by the sudden venom in his tone, starred at him for a moment. He didn't look like the sort of man to take drugs – he wasn't pale, he didn't sweat and shake with the obvious strain of drug withdrawal, and his mind seemed perfectly intact and efficient. Almost too efficient in fact – sometimes he almost didn't seem human.
"What, you?" Watson hissed. "No, I don't believe it!" But Sherlock ignored him.
"For your information Lestrade." The private detective instead sighed, addressing the Inspector. "I haven't taken anything in months, you can turn the flat upside down but you won't find anything! I don't even smoke!"
nicotine patch just above his right wrist.
"Me neither." Lestrade remarked and did the same. "You see, we're on the same team here!"
There was still something slightly off about Sherlock's demeanour – the way he coughed intermittently, and fought slightly harder for breath, fidgeting uncomfortably, and his movements agitated – which Lestrade seemed to pick up on.
"Sherlock, are you alright?" He frowned concerned, as the detective made a move to sit down again, but Sherlock simply nodded.
Realisation suddenly seemed to dawn on Lestrade's face however as he continued to rub at his chest and throat uncomfortably with this, and the Inspector suddenly sighed.
"Oh God Sherlock, you're having an attack aren't you?" He observed. "Where is your inhaler?"
Sherlock just shook his head. "I don't need it." He insisted. "Mind over matter."
"What, he'd asthmatic?" Watson suddenly exclaimed. "Sherlock why didn't you tell me?"
"Because it wasn't important." Sherlock sighed.
"Not important!" Watson exclaimed. "Sherlock, I'm your flatmate, and a doctor, and I need to know these things!"
"Well, because it is important! Very important!"
"It really isn't." Sherlock sighed, still a little breathlessly but with a slightly superior smile. "I haven't used my inhaler in a year, since Lestrade first found out about my, I suppose, condition."
He indicated towards the Inspector with an expression of slight amusement with this. "I manage to keep it under control – it hasn't been particularly bad since I was a child. I've learnt to cope!"
The exertion of speech seemed to irritate Sherlock even further as the rush of dusty air into his lungs sparked another, this time even more violent, coughing fit however, and it became increasingly apparent that despite what Sherlock said he was far from being alright, as Watson hurried off to see if he had anything upstairs to help ease his discomfort.
"Sherlock." Lestrade sighed, turning back to the detective once he'd quietly instructed Donovan and Anderson to abandon the fake drug's bust and search for the missing inhaler instead, that was if Sherlock hadn't thrown it away of course, which he certainly wouldn't have put past him. "I'm allergic to peanuts, Anderson is diabetic, and Donovan…" He turned to look at the young sergeant with this and smiled. "Well Donovan is just Donovan, we're all fallible." He sighed.
"Don't you dare compare me to Donovan!" Sherlock snapped, folding his arms against his chest sulkily, as his breathing became more leighboured. The next few minutes followed in silence after this as Lestrade nervously wanted the heavy rise and fall of Sherlock's chest – although he was evidently getting worse the detective's face showed no sign of distress. Lestrade took this to be a coping mechanism however, to make himself so much different from everybody else, who would probably be feeling a significant amount of stress by now, and showing it – if he didn't show any outward sign of discomfort he couldn't be perceived as weak. The truth was, to the inspector's mind, Sherlock wanted so badly to be different from everybody else because he couldn't understand what it felt like to be anyone but himself, and so he believed himself to be different, convinced himself of that fact – when in reality he too was only flesh, blood, and bone; only human after all.
They could hear Watson's footsteps descending the stairs from his bedroom with this however, breaking through the group's silence, and Lestrade turned to look at him as he entered – the doctor shaking his head to indicate that he had no medication which might help Sherlock.
"Found it!" Anderson then called, holding up the small blue device with a canister and pump at one end and a mouthpiece the other as the Inspector immediately hurried over to inspect his find before – satisfied and evidently relieved that it was what they had been looking for – handing it over to Watson.
He tested the implement, removing the cap from the mouthpiece and pushing down on the small canister – causing a small jet of medication to shoot out the end – and turned to address his friend.
"Thank God." Watson sighed, he too relieved, at Sherlock. "Here, take it." He said as he thrust it at him, but the Detective simply eyed the small device sceptically and shook his head.
"For God's sake take the medicine Sherlock!" Watson demanded impatiently now, as he himself popped the inhaler in his flatmate's mouth and held it there. "Right, now breathe in!" He instructed, as to Lestrade's surprise Sherlock, although directing a much less than delighted glare in the doctor's direction – and probably realising that this was one confrontation he couldn't hope to win – did as he was told.
As he did so Watson pressed the pump down on the canister, repeating the same action again a few moments later as Sherlock's breathing eased, becoming more natural again – before removing the tiny device and slipping it into his pocket. The effect of the medication was rapid and obvious to all still crowded in the small living room.
"Better?" He asked.
"I'll take that as a yes." Watson nodded. "And later on Sherlock we're going to sit down and you're going to tell me everything important that I don't yet know about you. If I'm going to be sharing a flat with you I want to know what I'm getting myself into!" The doctor demanded.
Lestrade watched as Sherlock gave Watson an icy stare as he said this, but nodded regardless – and that got the Inspector wondering, as he watched the two men together, an unlikely friendship between the doctor and the Private Detective already beginning to blossom. Perhaps in some way it was fate which had brought these two individuals together – each in their own individual way exactly what the other needed.