Watson woke when Holmes did, because his patient woke with a start, in brief panic, eyes wide from whatever nightmare he'd been in. Watson looked at him, and automatically turned to see what he was staring at.
He found Mrs Hudson standing in the middle of a room which was miraculously, unimaginably neat and tidy. John had never seen it look neater. He raised an eyebrow before turning to his patient and evaluating his current state. He still looked terrible, looking pale, almost a grey-green colour, shaky, and dazed. Mrs Hudson picked up a mantelpiece clock, and started to dust it, though Watson suspected it was not necessary. He had a feeling that she found cleaning therapeutic to her frazzled nerves, and considered it the only way she could offer to help.
"Good morning, Mr Holmes, Dr. Watson." she said, with aloof dignity.
"Mrs. Hudson. How good to see you." Sherlock said, trying to act as though he weren't going through withdrawal from his own concocted form of cocaine. She did not waver.
"Hmm." she said, in a way that strongly suggested that although too well mannered to say it, it was not good to see them.
"I apologise for any disturbance last night...or the preceding week." she turned a sharp eye on him. "Months." he corrected, quickly. She narrowed her gaze. "Well, however long it's been I apologise... may I just say you are the finest of landladies, the model of patience and kind mercy...the..." Sherlock lost his stride, realising how little effect it appeared to be having. "...anyway...thank you Mrs Hudson."
John stifled a laugh as he watched the Holmes trying to charm the indignant landlady. He couldn't have looked more pitiful if he'd tried. She stared at Holmes for a couple of seconds with a piercing gaze.
"Hmm." she said, going back to dusting the clock, and returning it to the mantelpiece. Sherlock sighed and turned to look at the ceiling. While he wasn't looking, Mrs Hudson gave a small smile, and glanced at Watson, who could hold back his amusement no longer.
"I've made you both some tea."
"Thank you Mrs. Hudson." John said.
"You're welcome. I'll bring up some breakfast shortly. You know where to find me if you need anything else." she said with dignity, and left the room.
"Here." Watson said, handing a tea cup to Holmes, ready to help him if his shaking was too much.
"No thank you."
"As your doctor, I insist." Watson said forcefully. He expected more of a fight, but perhaps Holmes felt every bit as drained as he looked, for he acquiesced. He knew the bland politeness was an act, that the drugs were making themselves as strongly known coming down as they did on the way up. He rolled away from the window, bandaged arm across his eyes, looking wretched and probably feeling far worse.
"How are you feeling?"
"You're the doctor, how do you think I'm feeling?"
"Nauseous, stomach pain, headache, tired and light-headed, uncontrollable shakes..."
"Well done." Holmes said grouchily. Watson went on.
"...Cold. Pain from the lacerations in your arms. Vertigo. Shivers."
"You've made your point."
Watson pushed, tone unrelenting. "Depressed. Angry. Vulnerable."
"Watson." irate, but exhausted. Enough to make Watson realise how tired they both were. He sighed and consigned himself to the quiet, watching his friend stare with the glazed over expression that was so familiar to him. The look he wore when he was purely inside his own mind, solving puzzles, linking together solutions from the data he had so precisely collected. Only now he was hiding from the physical world altogether. Watson had long since given up trying to discern his thoughts at times like this.
After quite some time in almost-but-not-quite comfortable silence...Watson spoke.
"I really am sorry you know."
"Not coming to see you."
"Think nothing of it." Holmes said easily. If it was supposed to make John feel better, it had the exact opposite effect. He knew Holmes didn't want to appear not to be able to handle being left alone. But Watson had always known how close his friend came, when left to his own devices, to dangerous eccentricity, totally oblivious of his own welfare. He knew just how thin the line really was between genius and madness.
"I never got the chance to ask you... that wedding gift. It was part of your plan that I would have to use it, wasn't it? You gave it to me knowing that you would die, in front of me, and that I would have to bring you back to life. Just like you planned your own torture, to get the book." it wasn't accusatory, not really. He was trying hard to keep the emotion out of his voice altogether, though he wasn't sure if he'd succeeded or not.
"After my first plan failed, allowing myself to fall in to Moriarty's trap was the only way to get close enough to retrieve the crucial evidence necessary to resolve the case. However, the adrenaline was a precaution, not a plan. Contrary to what you may believe, Watson, I don't aim for certain death." He raised his eyes to meet Watson's so that Watson could see the truth in them. But he caught the cynicism too. "I'm much too fond of myself." he added lightly.
"Holmes." he said, gently, hoping he could make him understand. "How would you like it, if our situations had been reversed?"
Holmes said nothing, turning his attention back to making his world as dark and quiet as possible. Watson sighed, thinking that it was going to be a long few days.
When the post arrived, Holmes asked him to read it out loud, hoping for a case to take his mind off things. The first 6 Holmes solved within 10 seconds of hearing. On the last letter, he paused, and Watson looked up at him.
"Hmm...the last one. We will need a short excursion to Whitehall."
Watson narrowed his eyes. "Sorry Holmes, we're not leaving this room until that drug is fully out of your system."
"Then you go and I'll stay here."
"I said WE are not leaving."
Holmes sighed. "In that case...the girl's having an affair with her fiance's brother." he admitted. "But you cannot keep me a prisoner here, Watson. I need fresh air and sunshine."
Watson scoffed. "Since when have you been concerned with fresh air and sunshine?"
"I promise not to leave your sight."
"You could give me the slip within 5 seconds."
Holmes smiled, slowly. "I could, couldn't I?" he said, smugly. "Still, I'm wounded that you don't trust me."
"Well I don't. And nor should you while that confounded...substance is in your bloodstream."
"...I'm bored Watson. Can't you hire someone to commit an elaborate murder or two?"
Watson shook his head, failing to hide the smirk on his face.
Mrs Hudson entered and gave them breakfast, consisting of tea and toast with various jams and marmalades. The doctor was slightly concerned that it might be a bit of a shock to the system moving to solid food so soon...but Holmes seemed to manage a slice. Still, after breakfast was over, he looked miserable again and Watson suspected he felt nauseous.
He was silent for some time after that, and Watson read. An hour or so passed.
"Talk." Came the muffled order from Holmes, lying on his front with forehead resting on bandaged arms.
"Anything. Just take my mind off this wretched ...wretchedness." he ended sulkily.
"Why don't you talk instead?" Watson suggested sincerely, and got a huff in response. "Come on." he encouraged. "Why don't you tell me something about your childhood."
"Why on earth do you wish to know about my childhood?" he replied scornfully.
"Well you know a great deal about mine." Watson said reasonably.
"Yes well mine was exceedingly dull."
"I'm not asking for Treasure Island Holmes..." Watson said, doubting very much that anything Sherlock had ever done had been "dull". Sherlock sat up.
"Fine. I was born, the younger of two brothers, to one father, and one mother. I then proceeded to undergo an extraordinary metamorphosis.."
"At least try and take this seriously Holmes."
"What precisely is it, that you wish you to know?"
"Why not start with the basics. What are your parents like?"
"My mother left this mortal coil when I was 10."
There was a distant look in Sherlock's eyes that reminded Watson of when he'd told him about Irene's death, but the detective said no more on the subject.
"After that, when I wasn't at boarding school I stayed with Mycroft."
"What about your father?"
"This surely can't be interesting to you Watson." Holmes said, with genuine impatience.
"After all these years you know a great deal about my history, and I know practically nothing of yours. I don't know the first thing about your family."
"On the contrary. I have never met your family. You, on the other hand, have met Mycroft."
"Stop deflecting Holmes. What about your father?"
"As you may deduce, I preferred the company of my brother." Holmes said, a little shortly. "Besides, Cambridge university is vastly more interesting than Chichester."
Watson tried very hard to imagine a 10 year old Sherlock spending the summer holiday with his 17 year old student brother Mycroft looking after him...but it was extremely difficult. He wanted to know more, but it was clear that Holmes had reached the end of his capacity to share. Holmes continued on, changing the subject.
"Speaking of family... I believe Congratulations are in order." he looked at the doctor keenly. The doctor's mind raced to think of what it was about him that betrayed Mary's pregnancy.
"How did you know?" he said, in defeat.
Holmes laughed. "You don't have to be a detective to see Mary and know she's what...7 months?"
"Ah. She should lay off the cake."
"...that she's about to bring a miniature Watson or Watsonette into the world..."
"Watson or Watsonette?" the doctor replied incredulously.
"We hope at least."
Watson responded with rolled eyes to Holmes' raised eyebrow, but Holmes continued. This was not how he'd imagined this conversation...
"Have you decided on names?"
"Yes, actually. We were thinking John if it's a boy-"
"- and Emilia if it's a girl."
Watson expected a snarky comment but glanced at Holmes when he got none.
"Emilia?" he asked instead.
"We both like the name. Why?"
"That was my mother's name. Named after her uncle, Emile Horace Vernet, the French painter. Just as well they didn't name her Horace."
"No wonder you're so fluent in French."
"No, Watson, I'm fluent in French because I went to school. The question is rather how you manage to be so abysmal at it."
"Not all of us went to public schools you know." Watson paused his bantering to observe the state of Holmes's bandages. "Let me change those." he said, getting out new ones and starting work. He felt the mood of his friend drop. He felt the fear in his gut return. He examined the cuts which Holmes was studiously avoiding looking at.
"Promise me...you won't take that concocted substance again." Pleading blue eyes met tired brown ones. Holmes gave a brief nod. Watson got out the new bandages and Holmes made to do it himself.
"I'll do it" the doctor ordered, not waiting for a response as he completed the task with trained efficiency.
"Oh all right, mother hen!"
"I'm "Mother Hen"... Mrs Hudson is 'Nanny'...your brother goes out of his way to appear not to be going out of his way to watch out for you...why do you find it so hard, Holmes? To let anyone take care of you. To let anyone careabout you."
"I'm not a child, or an invalid, or lunatic, Watson." Holmes said curtly.
"No. Yesterday you were a lunatic, last night you were an invalid and right now you're acting like a child."
"Which just goes to show how little you know about children. I do hope you know what you're getting yourself into, Watson."
John felt a pang of concern that he didn't let show as he finished the bandaging, trying to imagine Holmes interacting with a baby. He had always thought that Holmes was surprisingly natural with kids. When it came to the irregulars, he was much more at ease handling them than John was himself. But he wasn't sure how this new dynamic might work... and he desperately wanted it to work somehow.
"Consider it the start of another adventure." he said. "It will be exhausting, exhilerating and a step into the unknown. And don't think for one moment that you're not going to be a part of it." he said.
"I regret to say, I won't be able to help you."
"It's new ground for me too old boy."
"No." Watson looked up at the serious tone, into even more serious brown eyes. "Helping me chase murderers...is no work for a father."
Watson felt time freeze at hearing the words that he hated, because he knew they were true. He saw a depth of wisdom in his friend's eyes that was so at odds with his sometimes immaturity, but was no less a core part of the detective. He looked away, trying to hide his distress. He realised that he had almost wanted, almost hoped for Holmes to resist the change, to demand to bring Watson along - trusted partner and sole back-up - on adventures worth writing about. But Holmes had been curiously straightforward on the subject instead, and Watson knew it wasn't Holmes's reaction to the news he had feared, but his own. This feeling that he was losing as much as he was gaining by changing the direction of his life, and there was nothing he could do about it.
"Perhaps." Watson conceded after a pause. "But you will still need someone to chronicle your adventures-"
"Most certainly! I would be lost without my Boswell."
"- and to help interview clients-"
"They do seem to like you better."
"- and to consult you on medical matters." John finished, hoping that didn't include stitching his friend up after dangerous cases, because Watson hadn't been there.
"Quite so." Holmes gave him a wry smile. Watson was doing something he rarely did- revealing just how much he wanted Baker Street to be part of his life. John suddenly realised that it didn't really matter to Holmes how or why Watson visited, so long as he wanted to visit.
Watson sighed and sat down again, knowing that he was being watched by his friend. It wouldn't be the same as it had been when he lived here. But it would work. He'd make it work.
"Will you be the godfather of Watson or Watsonette?" he asked, relaxing somewhat.
"Of course I will Watson. In a world such as ours, every child needs someone to guide them in the ways of morality and virtue..."
Watson stared at him incredulously. "I regret it already..." he deadpanned.
"...to show them the light in our darkened times..."
"Oh God...Mary's gonna kill me..."
But he felt the small flicker of joy that was from more than the banter. It really will work, he thought, and smiled.