Title: Being Human
Characters/Pairings: No pairings. John, Sherlock, various
Word Count (this bit): 2641
General Summary: Five times John helped make Sherlock more human, and one time Sherlock returned the favor
This Chapter Summary: In an effort to pull a partially-invalided John out of a sulk, Sherlock suggests they visit the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, where he discovers the joys of severe motion sickness.
Disclaimer: Characters don't belong to me or Season Two would have been out months ago. Title is also the title of another BBC show, which I also don't own.
Evidently the Regular Bloke portion of the populace became extremely grouchy when in pain and experiencing a loss of mobility. John had been cheerful and stoic the first two days, and then Sherlock had seen how the pain medication had ceased being as effective (stupid man, refusing to keep taking painkillers for fear of addiction) and how his flatmate's disposition had followed that trend in a spiral far worse than any funk he himself was prey to at the worst of times. Whereas before John had joked along with Sherlock's crack about having a matching set of bad shoulders, now he shouted abuse at the out-of-reach top shelf of his wardrobe and hurled things at the wall with his good (not accurate, better) arm, if Sherlock was deducing correctly by the noises he heard from below.
He had done some research (meaning, Google and a smattering of advice from well-meaning and amiable imbeciles like Mike Stamford) about proper and usual procedures regarding caring for an injured friend, and had drawn the inescapable conclusion that he was going to be utter rubbish at it.
He'd tried everything, from coaxing to being annoying to ignoring John completely, and the man only grew more irritable and frustrated as the days crawled by in a sling and haze of ineffective painkillers. No amount of cajoling could convince John to accompany him on cases (no use without a gun arm, Sherlock, only a liability, so stop asking), no amount of threats and explosions in the kitchen could budge the man for a dinner out, and no amount of Sherlock doing everything in his power to get some sort of reaction (the best he'd received was a dismal sigh in regards to the bathtub full of dead pigeons, and John had only ordered the groceries online when badgered incessantly about milk) had accomplished his goal.
Finally, in utter desperation, he actually turned to Mrs. Hudson for advice. She was safer than Lestrade regarding gossipers and eavesdropping, and considerably more pleasant than Mycroft. Also, she made excellent pound cake.
She was also, unfortunately, laboring under the impression that he was harboring some sort of unresolved schoolboy crush on his flatmate, and no amount of telling her that yes, while he did (awkward clearing of the throat, but she was the one person in the world would wouldn't bat an eye at his uncharacteristic declaration) care a great deal for John, he was not in the least interested in him (or anyone for that matter) That Way, could convince her otherwise.
Still, her advice was sound, and she did not make him feel like the utter relationship fool he knew he was.
He was less impressed with her tea, but then herbal soothers were not his drug of choice, now were they?
"Sherlock, love, have you tried just treating him like you would any other time?" she asked, pottering about the kitchen with a polishing cloth.
He stared blankly at her over the rim of his mug. "Why would I do that – he is injured, and definitely not as he would be at any other time."
"And you don't think that's frustrating to him? Would you be content to be treated any differently if you were the one hurt?"
"Well, no, but –"
"But nothing, Sherlock." She smiled at him over the silver, polishing away, and he observed the unconscious shifting of weight due to her bad hip. "He's embarrassed about not being able to do everything, dear. You'll find out someday, when you can't run about and leap buildings like you do now."
He had never thought of that – but it made complete sense. John had always been a bit sensitive about being treated like the invalided soldier he had at one point been; that very reason was part of why John apparently regarded him as something of a Good Man, because Sherlock had helped him rid himself of his cane during their very first week of acquaintance. This could not be helping matters.
"But will that not send the impression that I am not thinking of his injury?" he inquired, frowning. That would not do; he was working on remembering such things as courtesy - working hard at it, thank you! - and he could not have it both ways.
"I'm not saying you should slam the door on his bad arm, dear. Just stop treating him like one of your experiments – trying to get a rise out of him isn't the way."
"You, my dear not-housekeeper, have been eavesdropping at the door again, haven't you."
"Not my fault you're arguing so loudly, dear."
He smiled. "I don't think this will be enough, though, Mrs. Hudson. Surely there is something else I should be doing?"
She handed him a platter to put on the top shelf; it saved her getting a step-stool. "Sherlock, that's something you have to discover for yourself. But it is the holiday season," she added, when he looked dismal at the prospect. "And Christmas is a time of surprises. What he needs now is something unpredictable, dear. You know better than anyone how horrible it is, being bored. Can you imagine being bored and unable to even do everyday things like typing on your laptop?"
Of course, that was it!
"Thank you, Mrs. Hudson!" he called over his shoulder as an afterthought (he was improving, he really was, no matter what anyone said) as he darted from her apartment, leaving her chuckling indulgently behind him.
John was in a worse mood than any previously by the time he stumbled down the stairs an hour later, still red-eyed from restless sleep and positively daring Sherlock to comment on the fact by his belligerent glare as he entered the kitchen to put the kettle on.
He halted, suspicious. "What are you doing."
"Making tea?" Sherlock tried, a bit unsuccessfully, to look casual, and had the feeling he only succeeded in looking like he was coming off a high. Bit not good.
"I don't believe you," John muttered apprehensively, peering into the mug he was now being offered. "What did you put in it?"
"Tea," he answered dryly. "Though if you wish me to dose you with a hallucinogen or deadly poison, I do have a stock of options which would prove highly instructive -"
John glared at him over the rim of the cup as he took a mistrustful sip, though his expression changed a moment later. "Thank you," he muttered gracelessly, looking slightly abashed.
"Do not think it will be a frequent occurrence," he said loftily, as he took his own mug to the lounge and perched on the back of his chair. He reached over to appropriate John's laptop, cracking the password before John had finished dry-swallowing two paracetamol, under the incorrect assumption that he was hidden from Sherlock's line of vision.
Fifteen minutes on the borrowed laptop (would have been twelve, but John tried twice to take it from him, quite unable to do so with one good arm) got him what he wanted, and he erased his internet history and then returned the machine to its owner with what he hoped was an innocent, disarming smile.
John seemed to think he was plotting something, and watched him warily for an hour afterward as a result, as if expecting the laptop to blow up in his face or begin corroding internally just by virtue of association.
The day was uneventful by its sheer mundane domesticity. Sherlock took a client mid-morning and dismissed them after seven minutes; case was both boring and unimaginative, and the client somewhat too full of himself for his tastes. Mycroft called John around noon; he could tell from the way John was quick to shut the phone off while it was still ringing (had it been Harry, he'd have just let it go to voicemail) and turn the telly up louder. After luncheon (in which Mrs. Hudson popped up with a plate of gingerbread biscuits someone had gifted her and which she seemed to think would do what Sherlock hadn't been able to and lift John's spirits) they actually held a civil conversation for about twenty minutes, a true novelty given the tension of the last few days.
It was going on four (John's mood always dipped lower along with the sun, oddly enough, as if he were solar-powered himself) when Sherlock decided to put his plan into action, and bearded the lion in his den (one indication of John's mindset was his unheard-of taking a long nap every afternoon). John was unappreciative of being woken abruptly by having all the covers yanked off his person on a frigid early evening, and Sherlock barely scooted out the bedroom door before the alarm clock on the side table came careening at his head.
He texted the requisite information to his flatmate instead; far safer.
The look on John's face was priceless.
"Have you gone mad?" was the surly inquiry, delivered in a puff of frosty crystals over the top of a massive knitted scarf.
"No?" he tried, fidgeting slightly. "Would you believe me if I said this place was going to be a target for a massive pickpocketing syndicate tonight?"
"Then I shan't bother trying to convince you."
"Jolly good. What, Sherlock," and he was slightly pleased to see John's eyes lose just a bit of their coldness, reflecting in the softly magical fairy-lights of Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland, "what, exactly, are we doing here?"
"Having...fun?" The word felt odd in his throat, like it was rusty from disuse, and John was looking at him as if he'd grown a second head.
John grinned suddenly, and he felt his nervousness fade away. "Sherlock. Who put you up to this?"
"No one," he said indignantly. "I merely thought you required a diversion. Unless, of course, you would prefer moping about the flat in a depressive funk to rival any sulk of mine, as you have been?"
"And you were doing so well," John sighed, elbowing him companionably before tucking his hands back into his pockets. "Can't quit while you're ahead, can you."
"Circus or giant wheel?"
"Not the subtlest change of subject, Sherlock."
Laughter, clear and genuine. "Tell me you at least did the research and bought tickets in advance?"
He waved a paper packet under his flatmate's nose. "Obviously. But not for ice skating," he added as an afterthought, shuddering at the memory.
They had been walking as they talked, and now paused under a brightly-lit arc of greenery and fairy-lights to get their bearings. The sheer amount of people milling about, even for a Tuesday evening, was a bit overwhelming, and for a moment he felt rather claustrophobic.
John looked up at him, a sphere of light reflected in his eyes from the Observation Wheel behind them, and frowned. "You going to be all right in this?"
He nodded, exhaling.
"You didn't have to do this, you know. God knows I don't deserve any special consideration after being such a wet blanket this week."
"Yes, you were rather unpleasant."
John grinned, and nodded toward a contraption consisting of rows of seats getting slung up into the air and whirled around, full of screaming adults and adolescents. "So...shall we?"
They did, and within an hour Sherlock discovered the joys of severe motion sickness, which was both unpleasant and embarrassing.
"It's perfectly normal, Sherlock," John said, sliding into the seat beside him and nudging a clear soda towards him. "Half the population is prone to motion sickness in varying degrees."
Lifting his head from his arms, he all but snarled "I am not half the population," but obediently downed a few swallows of the soda, all the while deciding emphatically that this was one characteristic of the "regular bloke" population he could certainly do without experiencing again. "And what is more - what are you doing?"
John was sliding his sleeve up on his arm, pressing a freezing cold soda can to the inside of his wrist with the hand that wasn't in the sling (he'd managed to bring three cans back from the stand by tucking them into the fabric).
"Old remedy when it's too late to take something for the nausea," he murmured. "Just hold still and keep that there for a few seconds, then switch to the other."
Curious now more than anything else, he obeyed, only to yelp embarrassingly when the third soda can was applied to the back of his exposed neck. "Shush," John chuckled, holding the can in position and leaning forward to see his face. "Deep breaths, Sherlock."
"I know!" he snapped miserably, hunching into his coat. "This is thoroughly unpleasant, John. Why would one voluntarily put himself through such misery under the guise of 'fun'?"
"People who get motion-sick usually take something beforehand to ward it off, or just stay away from rides. If you'd told me you got sick on them I'd never have suggested we start with the one that moved around the most, you great idiot."
"I have never had cause to find out," he moaned, as he pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand. Luckily, the sheer numbers of people around them prevented him from drawing unwanted attention, a small favour. "I am not bothered by aeroplanes or trains, John."
"Some people just can't handle the round-and-round, Sherlock. It's nothing to be ashamed of." John's eyes were oddly reassuring, and he was smiling, which at least was an improvement upon the surly attitude of the past week. However, Sherlock was unsure if this sense of wanting to empty the contents of his stomach all over the snow-crusted pavement was entirely worth the change. "Any better?" his friend asked solicitously.
"Not noticeably," he muttered through clenched teeth, after exhaling slowly through his nose.
"Try another sip of that soda, and if it doesn't get better in a few minutes we'll go home," John suggested. "Small sip, Sherlock!"
He swallowed, and spent a horrible moment actually praying the drink would stay down, before finally opening his eyes with a shudder to see his flatmate watching him with concern.
"I'm fine," he said, lying through his slightly chattering teeth. He in reality wanted to die, and was seriously contemplating the eight different methods in which he could perform the action without moving more than ten feet from his current location.
John shook his head, smiling. "You're not fine, Sherlock. Seriously, let's go home before you sick up everywhere. Can't have you ruining your reputation as invincible in front of all these people, now can we?"
He was slightly horrified that his protests were feeble at best, though he did manage to grind out a dismayed, "But this was supposed to be -" before John interrupted him.
"Supposed to be for me, Sherlock, yes I know, and you're a very lovely man for wanting to do it - but I'm not going to enjoy it knowing you're miserable. Now come along; we'll get you home with a bite of something in your stomach and you'll feel better in a few hours."
He swayed unsteadily upon standing, and felt his stomach lurch a violent protest to the movement. John eyed him for a second, hand resting but not gripping his coat-sleeve, to make sure he was steady enough before stepping back. "All right?" his friend asked, head tilted.
He nodded, swallowing. "John, I -"
"If you try to actually apologise for this, Sherlock, I will put a snowball down your shirt. Possibly two." He cracked a smile, and saw an answering one light up his friend's face, as the gloom which had surrounded his flatmate for the last few days lifted. "Now come along, Mr. Holmes. Time for all sick little detectives to be going home."
He rolled his eyes toward the lighted strings swaying above them, secretly hoping he could get up the courage by the time they got home to vomit all over John's new and truly ghastly red-and-gold jumper.