Title: Coming Down
Summary: In a chemical experiment, Holmes discovers crack cocaine and learns about its properties the hard way... meanwhile Watson has news he is afraid to share with Holmes. Watson/Holmes friendship
Spoilers: Both films (truly, this time!)
"Coming down...is the hardest thing" - Tom Petty
"You have a patient near Baker Street. Why not drop in on Sherlock Holmes? You haven't seen him for a while..." Mary suggested to her husband over breakfast.
"You know as well as I do that if I go and see him, he will drag me into another adventure..."
"He drags you, does he?" Mary said drily, giving him a knowing smile. He had the grace to look sheepish but continued regardless."...and right now, I need to be here for you. I can't go chasing adventure in Turkey or Morocco or Russia, hoping to come back in one piece." He finished, but he knew Mary was right.
"It goes without saying that I will worry about you being in danger." Mary said, spreading some marmalade on her toast. "But I'm also concerned about you avoiding your closest friend."
"John. Please. I am pregnant but still perfectly capable of taking care of myself. If you're going to avoid Holmes- at least be honest about the reasons." He ignored the nagging guilt he felt.
"Mary...the last case put you in danger. As if that wasn't enough to make me think twice, now you're with child..."
"Yes, I'm with child. And you're putting off telling him. But you will have to at some point." She sighed and put her hand on his, looking into his eyes. "Just think about it, will you? I don't think he has anybody else."
She stood, and left the room to attend to something else. On his way out of the house he gave her his usual parting kiss.
"You are right, as usual. I'll stop by after this patient."
She smiled at him and he looked at her belly at 5 months, before giving her a fond "Take care" and leaving.
"Holmes?" John cautiously entered the room, knowing that anything could be inside. It would barely have surprised him to find a lion, or to find the entire room filled with water...
He didn't immediately spot his friend amid the debris that had once been their shared rooms. Debris was the only word for the place as it stood- looking as though a bomb had gone off. John picked his way through and jumped when Holmes leapt out from behind a pile of junk, eyes wide and intense, and half-shouted his name.
John started in shock. He had a couple of seconds to establish that his friend was in serious trouble before Sherlock made his way over to him and put his hands on his shoulders.
"Watson - it's good to see you! I've made a discovery!"
John's doctor instincts kicked in as he took in the sight before him. Sherlock's arms were bleeding badly from multiple lacerations, and it was clear that he had taken some drug or drugs very recently. He looked even thinner than usual, feverish, and as though he hadn't slept in days. The most likely candidate, he supposed, was cocaine - the worst he'd ever seen his friend on the drug. It scared him more than he would admit.
"Holmes - what are you doing? What have you done to your arms?" he reached out to look at them more closely but Sherlock jumped out of his reach.
"There were insects, Watson, under my skin. I think they're out now. I'm not sure... you look alarmed - are you running from somebody? A gambling debt perhaps?"
"No, Holmes, I came to see you. I-"
"Why? Who sent you? Mrs Hudson? She's been acting suspiciously lately Watson - I wouldn't trust her if I were you. She's been trying to poison my food again."
"You seem to be poisoning yourself without any help whatsoever..." Watson stated harshly, trying to quell the fear-driven anger he felt at Sherlock's reckless behaviour. But his concern grew the more he exhamined him.
"I can do whatever I want" Holmes snapped, picking up a book and throwing it against a wall. John catalogued the symptoms: hallucinations, hot and feverish, mood swings, restlessness, paranoia, over-confidence, erratic and unpredictable behaviour...it had to have been cocaine. The detective started picking up everything around him and throwing it across the room, from books to test tubes to plants.
"Watson!" Holmes mimicked. "Who sent you? Hm? I haven't seen or heard from you in approximately 5 weeks and 4 days. I have no new case of interest to you. So why are you really here? There's no point lying - your clothing tells me you are in the area to see a patient."
"Yes, just a few streets down. A young lady with a cold." Watson felt uncomfortable, knowing that Holmes was extremely unpredictable at the moment.
"A cold?" he laughed. "Surely you are above such trifling matters!"
"It turned out not to be as serious as her family thought. At the moment I'm more concerned about-"
"Really? And what then - your cab mysteriously broke down and you had to walk here for a phone?"
Watson hesitated, unsure how Holmes had deduced so much from so little. "Yes. But-"
"That mystery is settled then. Mycroft sent you."
"Mycroft?" John said, baffled.
"He's always meddling from afar..." Sherlock said with scorn.
"You think Mycroft set this all up so I would come here?" As he said it, he realised that his arrival at 221B did seem remarkably serendipitous. He felt a mixture of guilt at having to be prompted to call on his friend, and surprise that Mycroft was keeping an eye on his younger brother despite his rather 'hands off' approach to it.
"No Watson, I know it. I know my brother's methods as well as my own. Besides, you would never come here on your own - you have your wife and no longer wish to associate with me."
John's heart sank at the words.
"So now that you are here Watson, what do you want?" Sherlock started viciously scratching his already bloody arms, "Goddamnit how do they get underneath the skin? It hardly seems possible..."
"Holmes stop that!"
"Don't tell me what to do!" Holmes shouted, and Watson thought he had never seen his friend so unstable before. He swallowed.
"I apologise...I didn't mean to shout... It's hot in here I'll open the window." Holmes said, suddenly contrite.
"...I had already decided to call without your brother's interference. It just shows that he's as worried about you as I am. Either way, it's a good thing I came."
"And why's that?"
"Because I can see that you've been slowly but surely killing yourself in my absence!"
"What absolute nonsense you talk Watson! I've never felt better." he was frantically looking for something, John guessed it was more cocaine.
"It would seem I have to go out for supplies soon." he said, making his way towards the door that John was blocking.
"No." John said quietly. "I won't allow you to do this to yourself. I only found out that you weren't dead a few months ago - I will not lose you again."
"And pray, what authority do you have over me?"
"As your doctor and your friend, Sherlock, I WILL NOT lose you again!" John shouted the end, hurting and angry that his best friend could be in this state. He was frustrated, and scared. He didn't know if he had a right to be angry, but he was - both at Holmes and himself - and he bit down on the tears that suddenly threatened.
"You are angry with me, Watson. Perhaps that's why you haven't called" Holmes said faintly, before collapsing.
John knelt beside his friend quickly and checked him over. His heart-rate was too fast, and he was burning up. His arms had several knife cuts on them, some of which would need stitches. John quickly bandaged the worst of them before Sherlock woke up again, apparently unable to keep still.
"I'm fine, felt momentarily dizzy but I'm fine, really you must stop fussing."
"Your temperature is dangerously high." Watson thought out loud, going to retrieve some cold water and some material to cool Holmes down. He came back to find Holmes still in the same position and started cooling his face.
"Now that I've discovered it, this is rather a good location." Holmes said lazily. John knew he was starting to come down from the high. Could see unconsciousness from blood loss and lack of food pulling on him.
"You won't leave, will you Watson?"
"I won't leave." John said, trying not to voice the sadness he felt at that moment. His best friend, who could be at times so awe-inspiringly brilliant, and so selflessly courageous, could also find himself in a state such as this. He had failed to take care of him as a doctor or a friend, and now the most gifted consulting detective in quite possibly the world, was lying on the ground, in a mood that was rapidly deteriorating. John knew he would descend into depression and lethargy, and that it could last for days.
He promised himself he'd be here for his friend. He thought of Mary, and knew she would understand. He realised suddenly that he didn't have to worry about the capable woman he'd married, he could spend this time trying to fix things with his best friend, whom he'd thoroughly let down.
"I didn't mean what I said about Mycroft." Sherlock said softly, laced with guilt.
"I know old boy. You're not exactly in your right mind at the moment." John said, automatic bedside manner taking over.
"He really is, the best brother one could ask for." he added. John felt surprised by the uncharacteristically open affection between two individuals who were usually so distant, so emotionless. He saw now that the love between the two brothers was understated, but profound.
John kept trying to cool Holmes down, finally he picked him up and took him to the sofa by the window, opening the window wide until he himself felt a bit too cold. Holmes was alarmingly light. There was a light tap on the door and Mrs Hudson peaked round.
"How is he?" she asked kindly. John knew that despite everything, she was fond of Holmes.
"He'll live. Do you know when he last ate?"
"He wouldn't eat my last two meals, Doctor, as far as I know he hasn't eaten for the last two days. I tried but he became so...well, unpredictable. Even more so than usual I mean. I was on the verge of calling you..."
"I'm sure you did all you could. Could you please telephone my wife and tell her that Holmes needs my professional help for a few days."
"Of course." She disappeared, turning a couple of pieces of furniture up the right way on her way out.
John rubbed his hands over his face. He evaluated if Sherlock needed hospital. He had slipped into unconsciousness, was dangerously dehydrated, malnourished, and anaemic. A hospital could do no more than he could do here, and it would cause Holmes less disruption, and later embarrassment. He decided that Sherlock had not lost so much blood that he would risk a blood transfusion, which he knew from experience could end up being fatal to the patient.
He got out his medical kit and began sewing up the lacerations on Sherlock's arms, trying to ignore the knowledge that Holmes had done this to himself, and properly attended to the rest. He checked his friend over but found nothing else than what could be seen directly, aside from a couple of old bruises that were probably from fights in the ring, and the scarred shoulder which was still tense and most likely, sore.
Mrs Hudson entered again.
"Mrs Hudson, please could you prepare some soup for Holmes?"
"Certainly. Doctor, your wife is here to see you." she stepped aside and he saw Mary standing there, concern written on her face.
"John, what's wrong?" she asked, moving towards them.
"Mary - you didn't need to come..." John said, glad she hadn't come when Holmes was high.
"I know. I wanted to. Is it serious?" she stepped in to a position where she could see him better. "What happened?"
"It's not as bad as it looks." John said awkwardly, feeling like he was betraying his friend. "He... took something he shouldn't have."
"What happened to his arms?"
"Whatever he took caused him to hallucinate insects under his skin."
Mary stared at Holmes for a while, shock and sorrow in her eyes.
"I'm not sure exactly what it was... Cocaine, I think. It isn't like him to be so irresponsible with it though...perhaps he took it in combination with something else. Alcohol perhaps." John looked around the flat and wandered over to the chemistry equipment, thinking out loud as he went. "It looks like he has been experimenting with Cocaine... heating it and combining it with ... baking powder?"
"What does that mean, exactly?" Mary asked, totally unfamiliar with Chemistry.
"I'm not sure..." Watson pondered, wishing he had the profound knowledge of chemistry and physics that Holmes did. "But whatever he's invented, it would appear to manifest as a much more dangerous form of Cocaine." he looked at his wife, tension lining his face. She placed a hand on his arm supportively.
"Watson..." came the weak call from Sherlock.
Mary thoughtfully excused herself to help Mrs Hudson.
"Watson - you needn't stay. It's all right."
"It's extremely far from all right."
"Had no idea it would be so...potent..."
"You can't just experiment with narcotics Holmes, Cocaine is dangerous enough on its own."
"Please...return to your marital bliss..."
"I can't do that. I can't leave until I know for sure you won't try to get some more." Watson sighed. "Why do you want me to leave anyway?"
"Why would you want to stay?" Sherlock countered, in his typically exasperating way.
"Because I'm your friend, Holmes." Watson stated explicitly.
"Watson, I have deduced from your long absence that you have found more enjoyable ways to spend your time than in my company."
"That isn't true." Watson felt shame colour his face, even though he knew the drug was still playing havoc with his friends thoughts and feelings. "I didn't come because of this Holmes...because of your irresponsible recklessness in the face of danger!" Watson realised the truth for himself, looking at the weakened state of Holmes. "You make a living out of chasing death, Holmes, and the truth is that I can't bear to follow you around, just to watch you die in front of me"
John sat down, deflated. The anger left him as he turned a critical eye inward. "I saw you, launch yourself off that ledge and over the falls. I saw your heart and breathing stop on that train. I heard you being tortured. I went to your funeral for gods sake!" he looked away, clamping down on any tears that threatened. "I was so happy to see you alive again but...losing you once was bad enough. To lose you twice would be..." he smiled sadly and shook his head in despair. "But after all we've been through together, how could you possibly think that I don't like you?"
Holmes looked away. "Well... you never said." he said stubbornly, though Watson could see he felt stupid now the question had been posed out loud.
"You were my best man, Holmes, doesn't that tell you anything? Can't you deduce anything from that? Or from the times I've risked my life for you? You are the closest thing to a brother I have. "
There was another awkward pause. The doctor cleared his throat.
"I'm sorry for not coming to see you. It was a despicably selfish thing to do. If it's hard seeing you hurt in front of me, it would be worse still to know you were hurt and I was absent."
There was a knock on the door and Watson retrieved the soup from Mrs Hudson with thanks.
"Try and eat some of this. You don't have to eat it all." he said, helping Holmes. To the doctor's approval, Holmes managed almost half the soup, and a glass of water, before practically passing out to sleep.
There was another reason Watson had been putting off calling...he knew Mary was right about that. They were going to start a family, and he knew that getting Holmes to see this as a good thing was going to be a struggle. Watson was afraid to see his good news turned to something hurtful and bitter between them...and had no idea how he was going to bring it up. But he would.
Finally, Watson fell asleep in the chair next to Holmes.