I wrote this before the series premiered so it's based almost entirely on only the idea of Lady!Watson and Holmes being a douchebag to her. I've decided to publish it now because I love this show too goddamn much. It's kind of AUish from the show in bits that I was too lazy to fix.
Dedicated, as always, to my dear Megawattson. Light of my life, keeper of my sanity, etc.
This guy really is a fucking idiot, she allows herself to think on more than one occasion.
Sometimes she wonders how she ended up here. After the war, she'd been enjoying her luxuries. The bullet in her shoulder told her she'd earned them. She deserved that nice big bed and a place she called "home."
And, of course, when she thought she had everything just right—absolutely perfect, everything in her little home was in its exact place and all of it simply screamed Joan Watson—boom. She'd been living in the same lush apartment since her days in Afghanistan, and even with her high position and high salary, it was always difficult to afford. Now that she'd royally messed all that up, there was no way in God's name she could've afforded the place.
And so she was forced to pick up and leave and move to a shittier apartment in a shittier part of the city with perhaps the shittiest man she'd ever met.
(Moving out from the upscale East Side flat was a sad day, made only sadder when her new things began finding themselves a home in Baker Street of all places.)
She liked her new job enough, though. She thought she was helping people like this, since she couldn't heal anyone physically anymore she decided to see if she could help them emotionally. Her patients were always difficult, but she enjoyed her work. She was still making a difference, and a few recovering drug addicts was nothing she couldn't handle.
When she comes home to find little blood droplets trailing into their flat, she is beginning to change her mind.
"Sherlock?" She calls out, because she used to call him "Holmes," but he'd always snap back with a "Doctor Watson," regardless of how many times she told him she'd had her license removed, the bastard.
Her search is soon cut short, however, because the moment she peels the door completely open she finds her new flatmate shirtless, folded into a high-backed chair in their sitting room, with a cigarette hanging haphazardly out of his mouth (a failed argument there—"Smoking kills, Holmes." "I've been told cocaine kills faster, my good doctor.") holding a needle and thread tightly to an open wound on his pale arm, and damn him because does he need to use Watson's favorite blanket to mop up the blood?
"What have you done to yourself?" And she is torn between aggravation and horror and fondness. She doesn't know if she should just sigh at him or patch him up or kick him the fuck out of here right now. She does yank her blanket away, both because it's hers and she wants a good look at him. "Let me see that. My God, are you using dental floss? You live with a surgeon and you're stitching yourself up with dental floss?"
At first, he doesn't seem to bother with responding to her, poking the needle in and out of his skin, poorly closing his wound even further. He doesn't even bat an eye at Watson, gritting his teeth and sewing himself up. He pauses to steal the blanket back, pressing it to his arm and infecting it with his crimson color. He just barely mumbles, "Ex-surgeon." under his breath and Watson pretends not to notice, eye twitching. She then proceeds to rip the needle ever so violently from his hand.
"Please tell me what the hell you've done to yourself right now, Holmes."
"Sorry, doctor." And even though she should've seen it coming, the word hits her hard in the gut. Joan had been planning her medical career ever since her older brother got the flu and she nursed him back to health. She worked like hell to get to where she got, only to run off with the army and damn near die, only to come back and work like hell again, only to get her position stripped from her. One little mess up was all it took, and now she's babysitting coke fiends, for God's sake.
"My medical license has been revoked. I'm not a doctor anymore. You know that."
"Oh," Holmes says, trying to sound sincere despite the twitch of his lips. "My apologies. You know how forgetful I can occasionally be. Years of stuffing one's veins with illicit substances can do that to a person." And Watson sighs again, because how very Sherlock it is to make a point of his recovering addiction. ("I'm going out to get some milk, do you need anything?" "A few grams would be lovely, my dear." or "Holmes, can't you do the dishes?" "I would, Watson, honestly I would but I'm worried I may start huffing the kitchen cleaner under the sink again.")
She wishes she could kick him out. She honestly does. But there's something in those quick eyes and fast hands that keeps her far away from doing so. (Or perhaps her true motive lies more accurately somewhere in between the fat checks Holmes' father sends every month.)
"So are you going to tell me what happened to you or am I going to have to phone those kind fellows from the rehab and give them my guess of what you've been up to?" She smiles, because two can play at every game.
"I was working on a case, of course." He says it like it's obvious. He rolls his eyes in a way that silently implies: clearly, Watson I don't know why you don't assume people want to go out and get shot when they're bored. It was this or watch America's Next Top Model reruns all day. I made the obvious choice.
"What case, dare I ask?" She calls to him, making her way down the meager hall to the bathroom. The first aid kit should be hidden around here somewhere, lest Holmes moved it on her again. ("Syringes, Watson. There are syringes in there.") She finds it tucked away behind the bathtub where she last left it, and thanks the powers at be for preventing the madman from messing with this one single thing.
"Oh, some rich old woman found her jewelry to be lost. She was completely convinced she had only misplaced it, though I knew her daughter-in-law had taken it. She only believed me—despite all the evidence I had given her—after she found she found the culprit standing over my bleeding form, gun in hand. The girl confessed, was arrested, jewels were returned, and I believe a divorce is being filed. And so all live happily ever after."
"All except your bicep, of course."
"I'll be fine, no arteries were so much as touched."
"'Twas not luck, Watson. 'Twas planning."
"…you planned a bullet away from your brachial artery."
"Your humor is not needed right now," he frowns, curling his lip and sending a pointed glare, "Your surgical skills however, would be of great use."
Joan hmms passively at her companion, seating herself on the floor next to his (her) chair. He sucks on his cigarette and blows the smoke dramatically in her face. "You didn't get hurt anywhere else, did you?"
"No I'm fairly certain the bullet wound is just about it. Sorry to disappoint." She takes a small pair of scissors and cuts up the stitches Holmes has already made as he talks. "Hey! I just finished stitching that up!"
"You just finished stitching it up with dental floss."
"I don't think I entirely understand your point." He makes a show of stamping out his cigarette on the armchair with his remark. Watson doesn't even bother scolding him because the chair is older than time itself, anyway, so it's not really worth the oxygen she'd waste giving him a stern talking to. Also it would really only encourage him.
"Did you even clean this out first?"
"How did you even manage to live without me." Her breath trails over his skin as she pulls out the last bits of floss, pouring rubbing alcohol over the small bullet hole. She looks up to Holmes and catches him glancing down his arm back at her. She feels the need to smile at him before shoving tweezers into his wound to pick at shrapnel. He looks away, and she bites her lip to keep from groaning at him.
He doesn't answer her question, which is all well and good, because it wasn't really a question. She doesn't want to know how he survived without her there to hold his hand and yell at him. She doesn't want to know, because deep in the shadowy crevices of her mind, she already does. She sees highlights of dark rooms and lonely nights and little sparks of narcotic-white brightness in between. He lived away from everyone else, he lived away from himself. He was so lonely he didn't even realize that's what it was. She asked him once, if he had any friends, and he said no. "I had a fish once. I named him John. He was a great listener. He died."
Holmes fixes his gaze on the opposite wall and bites down harshly on the inside of his cheek, ignoring the fiery pain in his arm. He doesn't answer her question because he doesn't want to, and more importantly because he doesn't want it to lead to: how will you even manage to live without me? Because he doesn't know.
"Come now, you big baby. I'm almost done," Watson smiles softly, because Holmes is quiet, and he told her he was prone to black periods and fits of silence. It saddens her, even if it is far more peaceful than his mania. She would so rather he be wicked than sad, and she silently curses herself for indulging such a thought. They're colleagues. He pays her. There's nothing personal about this. She puts the bandage over the sutures and maybe presses down with too much force. "There. We'll have to change the dressing every now and then, so please try to stay out of trouble until this is all fixed up."
"Yes, mum," He scowls as he is wont to do. "Until then, I think there's some shit telly we can watch."
"I'm sure there is, Sherlock," she keeps her voice calm and level, the practiced tone that she uses around all of her patients, as she packs away the first aid kit, keeping the syringes expertly out of sight. "I bet we can watch America's Next Top Model reruns."
"Joys of joy."