"Sherlock? How's your chest feeling this morning?"
"It's fine," Sherlock said impatiently from the kitchen. He was bent over his microscope, his shoulders hunched as he examined a slide containing something John probably didn't care to know about. John tied the strings of his dressing gown together and stepped into the kitchen to make breakfast, taking in his flatmate's appearance with a critical eye. Sherlock didn't look disheveled, per se, but he was definitely wearing the same clothes as yesterday, and he held himself with an air of staving off weariness that John was coming to recognise. Besides, he had been up before John had awoken.
"You didn't sleep at all last night, did you?" John asked. "You've been up since yesterday morning, and you don't even have a case."
"These samples are very interesting," Sherlock answered. "And they could be very helpful in future cases involving metal poisoning."
"Oh yes, that happens a lot," John said, getting himself a plate out of the cupboard.
"More than you'd think," Sherlock asserted, reaching for another slide.
"You should be resting more," John admonished, resisting the impulse to snatch the slide away as Sherlock pushed out the one he was looking at and inserted the new. "It's only been three days."
"They're just bruises."
The X-rays had come back negative for any cracks or breaks, but Sherlock's sternum and one of his ribs were badly bruised. He was advised simply to take pain medication when needed, and to rest well over the next couple of weeks to give his body the time and energy it needed to heal. That did not include staying up all night peering into a microscope. John sighed and put the kettle on. He was going to have to be more forceful.
"Well take a nap when you get done, will you? And how are you feeling, really? When did you last take any paracetamol? Hang on, have you eaten anything since dinner?"
Sherlock was sketching something on a notepad, adjusting the microscope's depth of focus and ignoring John's questions.
"I said - "
"It's fine, I took some paracetamol at midnight, and yes, I had a piece of toast at 2:00 in the morning."
"Well that's not much if you were up all night. Have some breakfast with me and then you can take a couple more pills or you're going to start hurting soon. Are you almost done?"
"Give me another hour."
"Another hour? Sherlock, we're leaving in five! And you need some sleep!"
"I can sleep on the train."
"No. Bed. I don't want you meeting Harry half dead and with a stiff neck."
"Pff, as if she'll notice." John froze in the act of putting bread in the toaster, the offhand remark cutting him sharply. He didn't say anything. After a moment, Sherlock's hand stilled over the notepad, and he slowly raised his head from the microscope for the first time. "Oh," he said quietly. "Not good."
"Yeah, not good," John said stiffly, not looking at him.
"I'm sorry," Sherlock offered. "I didn't think of the effect that would have on you." John took a deep breath.
"Okay," he said. "It's okay. Just finish up and then have something to eat, all right?" Sherlock looked at him for a long moment, then went back to his slide, scribbling more quickly. John waited another moment, then dropped the second slice of bread in the toaster and pulled out a frying pan. He sucked his cheeks in and blew out his breath slowly. He shouldn't be hurt, the comment wasn't meant to hurt, it was just Sherlock forgetting about people's feelings again was all. He had just said as much, and even apologized. Besides, the fact that he was coming with John should be enough on its own - especially as he really ought to be staying back at Baker Street to rest.
Soon after Lestrade had left the night that Sherlock had been shot, they had gone to A&E and gotten the X-ray done. After the results came back, they'd returned to the flat, and, as Sherlock had been tired and hungry after the conclusion of a case, they'd ordered Chinese in and gone to bed soon after. Nothing else particular had happened that evening, and nothing else had happened the next morning when they'd gone down to Scotland Yard for Sherlock to give his statement and learn more about Owens' fate (the evidence from his recorded conversation with Sherlock would be more than enough to convict him of four separate murders). It was after they'd finished at the police station and made their way back to the flat, that Harry had called.
She was sorry, she was so sorry, but she'd made it all up, the interview, she hadn't gotten a thing, she hadn't been applying anywhere for weeks, she'd only said it to get John out of the house so she could drink again because she just hadn't been able to stand it anymore... But she'd woken up that morning with a hangover and realized how stupid she'd been, and that she still wanted to stop, and that she still needed John's help and that even if he didn't want to help her anymore, she owed it him to tell him what she'd done, anyway. She'd spent all day getting up the courage to call him, and finally she'd just snatched up the phone and dialed. But she was sorry, she was so sorry...!
And John had listened to her tears and sobs as she apologised to him over and over, and ran a hand down his face as Sherlock disappeared quietly into his room, probably as much to get away from the situation as to give John privacy. John had trudged up the stairs to his own room, trying to get a word in edgewise as Harry cried and cried and said she was sure he'd hate her now, she was an awful liar and John couldn't forgive her... But to John's surprise, he didn't react with the feelings of fury and betrayal that he might have expected from himself.
He was angry, a bit, and certainly upset that his sister had lied to him, but somehow Sherlock's forewarning of the situation, however repugnant it had been at the time, had prepared him for this, like a terminal cancer diagnosis prepared a family to grieve. And in spite of Harry's deception, the fact that she had taken it upon herself to call him and confess actually made John feel good. It meant that she really did want to quit drinking, if she was willing to admit things to him and still ask for his help, and that she cared enough about him to be honest - even though it was harder - instead of simply continuing to lie.
It meant that Sherlock had been right about her actions, but wrong about her character.
So John had remonstrated only as much as he felt was due, and told her that it was okay, that he didn't hate her, it was all right, she could stop crying, he'd actually sort of suspected something like this, anyway. He'd already suspected...? Harry had laughed at herself through her tears and said that John knew her too well, which had led John to explain that it was actually Sherlock who'd told him, which pissed Harry off for about thirty seconds until John explained how Sherlock had come to the conclusion. Which both calmed and amazed Harry - that's even better than the stuff on the blog! - and which finally led to her expressing a hiccuping interest in meeting him.
When John had finished talking to her, an hour later, he'd come downstairs to find Sherlock installed on the couch, flat on his back and reading a flimsy volume about 18th century serial killers. He'd looked up as John entered the space, and set his book aside, saying nothing. John had shifted his stance and crossed his arms and finally said,
"You know, you can't entirely say I told you so."
Sherlock shrugged from his position on the cushions.
"She did call me and tell me."
Sherlock sat up, wincing, his usual reaction to moving his torso since the night before, and looked at John steadily.
"Yes, she did. I was just a bit wrong."
John blinked at him.
Sherlock glanced up at the ceiling thoughtfully.
"She called you before you called her. She admitted lying to you of her own volition. And, I assume, asked you for forgiveness and your continued support." He raised an eyebrow for confirmation. John nodded.
"Yeah, she did."
"That means that she cares very much about what you think of her, and that she definitely does want to end her alcohol addiction." Sherlock steepled his fingers against his lips. "She's close."
"Um, yeah, that's what I thought, too," John agreed, a little surprised by Sherlock's analysis - he was actually admitting that he'd been somewhat wrong about Harry's integrity. He'd never said it outright, but it was clear that he had fully expected John to find out about her relapse through John's actions rather than hers. John wandered over to his armchair and sat down.
"She wants to meet you."
"Hm. All right."
"All right?" John asked in surprise. Sherlock ignored his confusion.
"You're going back." It wasn't really a question, but John answered it anyway.
"This weekend," he confirmed. "I've still got vacation, but she insisted on giving me a bit of a break. I didn't really want to jump back on a train this afternoon, anyway. What do you mean by 'all right?'"
"Hm." Sherlock gave no answer to the question and was no longer looking at him - he appeared to have turned his thoughts inward. John gave up.
"Okay. Anyway, sorry I won't be here again," John said, reaching for his laptop. "But while I'm gone, I expect you to eat and sleep regularly, okay? Even if you get a case, you need some time to recuperate." Sherlock continued to ignore him, and John sighed, settling the computer on his lap. He'd have to recruit Mrs. Hudson to make sure Sherlock took better than usual care of himself...
"John," Sherlock said suddenly, "Would you like me to go with you?"
John paused in the act of reaching forward to raise his laptop's screen, attempting to process what Sherlock had just said.
"Would you like me to go with you," Sherlock repeated slowly, accentuating the consonants of each word.
"With... with me? To Harry's?" John asked blankly.
"Yes, that was the general idea," Sherlock said impatiently, becoming annoyed with John's slow speed on the uptake.
"Why, uh... Why would you want to...?" John trailed off, looking at his flatmate questioningly. Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"Of course I don't want to. But I thought you might like it." He settled deeper into the back of the couch, seeming to steel himself. "I said I could help you - this is me helping." John licked his lips.
"Sherlock, you don't have to - "
"I said I could help," Sherlock repeated. "And I also said that your sister is close, very close to ending her addiction. She needs all the help she can get. And I have some experience in the field of addictive substances," he added baldly. John pursed his lips, not wanting to pursue the subject of the last sentence. There were still nicotine patches strewn around the flat in various odd places, but he had never yet seen a hint of anything Mycroft had told him to beware of on a "danger night." He hoped it was because no hint existed, but Sherlock was very reclusive about the whole business, and refused to speak plainly about it. The fact that he had brought the matter up on his own was unprecedented. So John didn't push it.
"Yes," he said neutrally.
"And you," Sherlock added. "You could use some help, too."
"Yes," John said again, thoroughly agreeing with him.
"So. Would you like me along?"
John paused, though he knew his answer already. Harry's alcoholism was something of a private business, and he honestly wasn't too keen on Sherlock seeing all that her drying out entailed. But Sherlock could read the details of it anyway, from John's face and clothes and attitude, and it wasn't as if he didn't already know what fighting an addiction meant for someone to begin with. John could stomach having him there to see everything.
Because Sherlock was offering to help.
That warmed John clear through.
Because Sherlock was trying to give of himself, he was trying to help John and not because the situation affected him, but simply because it affected his friend. He was offering support and understanding and aid. This was something that Sherlock did not do lightly, and coming from him it was downright magnanimous. He was, very quietly, showing a depth of friendship that John had not even been sure Sherlock had felt between them. Sherlock cared. And John couldn't say no to that.
"Yes," John said firmly. "Yes, I would." He would have to call Harry and ask her to be sure, but at this point he didn't think she'd say no to extra help.
"Fine." Sherlock picked his book back up and flopped down again, grimacing. John frowned, suddenly uncertain of his decision.
"But you should rest..."
"Oh, just buy the train tickets," Sherlock snapped, lowering his book so that it almost touched his nose and tilting it to take John out of his field of vision.
And that was that.
Sherlock's pencil had stopped scribbling by the time John had finished making breakfast, and he sat down opposite his flatmate with his plate as John settled into his armchair, the kitchen table being too full of microscope, papers, and slides to eat at. Sherlock ate hungrily, which John was glad of, and soon reached the piece of Mrs. Hudson's pie that John had added to both of their breakfasts. John had found out, quickly enough, that Mrs. Hudson had been absent from Baker Street the night he came home by design, as Sherlock hadn't wanted her anywhere around a crazed serial killer. Of course, he had merely told her that they were going to being having a sting operation in the flat, and that she should spend a couple of hours that evening shopping for her safety and so as not to get in the way.
But then, as Sherlock had pointed out, Mrs. Hudson had obeyed this instruction without question, and had only expressed worry and asked him to be careful before she left.
When she had learned the next morning that her favourite tenant had gotten his bones bruised from being shot at point blank range, she had been supremely sympathetic and concerned and keen to make the situation better in any way she could. Which, from her point of view, involved making lots of food and dropping in three times a day to ask how Sherlock was doing. Sherlock tolerated these visits fairly well, his slight annoyance at the numerous interruptions trumped by his indulgent affection for Mrs. Hudson and his enjoyment of the food and attention. He scraped up the last bits of her pie crust and took two paracetamol with the rest of the morning tea John had made.
"Okay," John said, finishing his own breakfast and snatching up Sherlock's plate. "Go take a nap. Did you pack yet?"
"Some," Sherlock said tiredly, standing up and wincing again as he started toward his bedroom. John bit the inside of his lip. He really oughtn't to spend two hours on a train...
"Sherlock," he said, and the detective paused at the door of his room, "Are you sure you want to come? I mean, it's probably going to aggravate your bruises, it might be better if you just stayed here..." Sherlock shook his head.
"No, John. I said I'd come."
"But - "
Sherlock turned and looked back at him.
"I want to do something nice. Even though I'm not an ordinary human being." He cracked a small smile, and there wasn't a trace of hurt or malice in his echo of John's words. "Let me," he said simply.
He went into his bedroom and shut the door.
John picked up Sherlock's teacup and added it to the pile of dirty dishes in his hands. He smiled.
Posted a bit later than planned - I had a heck of a time refining the paragraphs where John thinks about Sherlock's offer. Anyway, that's all I have for this story. I had a lot of fun with it, so I guess I'd better write something else... Please review and let me know if you enjoyed. Thank you. Cheers.