I need your help. -Lestrade
Of course. -SH
Will you come? -Lestrade
Text me the details. -SH
Sherlock bounced off the couch. "We have a case!" he called, grabbing his scarf and jacket before pausing on the stairs for a response from John. "Come on John, fresh crime scene," he called impatiently, noting the address that Lestrade texted him.
John's head was buried under a pillow, trying rather hard to ignore Sherlock, and knowing full well that it wouldn't work.
"Sherlock!" John moaned. "I don't feel well. I'm not going to a crime scene with you." He coughed as he finished his sentence.
Sherlock appeared in the doorway and frowned at him.
"Mm," John replied, without moving.
John was silent. Sherlock rolled his eyes. "You really want me to guess?"
"Likely a mild case of pneumonia then," Sherlock declared.
"Well," Sherlock said flatly. "I suppose you should stay home and..." he waved a hand around vaguely, "...rest."
"Oh, why thank you doctor Holmes," John mumbled into the pillow.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "There's no need to be dramatic."
Sherlock rolled his eyes again.
"Sleep." And with that he spun, coat twirling behind him, and hopped down the stairs and hailed a cab in the street.
John sighed loudly into his pillow, and then coughed. He felt dreadful.
He'd held out a tiny smidgen of hope that Sherlock would make him some tea, fetch him some meds, offer to stay home and keep him company. No such luck.
He should consider himself lucky that Sherlock didn't insist he accompany him anyway.
And what was it he said?
"Stay home and rest." "Sleep."
Really that was as kind and caring as Sherlock got.
Still, John sighed again into his pillow. He was achy and hot and cold and tired and sore and his head was throbbing.
Drugs would be good. Painkillers. Help with the fever.
But the drugs were all the way downstairs. John weighed the pros and cons for a minute, already sure of what he'd do, even though he was dreading it.
He groaned before rolling over and sticking his feet out from under the covers.
Should be wearing socks. The floor is freezing. Socks are far away though.
John swung his legs over the side of the bed and hauled himself to his feet.
"Shit," he swore, his feet touching the cold hardwood. He grabbed yet another jumper from the pile on his desk chair and wrapped it around him. Why does Sherlock insist on keeping the flat so chilly?
He shuffled down the stairs, squinting as he peered into the living room.
"Rather sunny today..." he muttered to himself. "Should be in the bathroom..."
John poked about in the medicine cabinet looking for the paracetamol.
"You had better not have used it all up in a ridiculous experiment..." he muttered to Sherlock.
But thankfully there was a bottle with four pills left. He swallowed two of them with a gulp of water from the sink and shoved the bottle in his pocket for later.
He glanced at himself in the mirror. Pale, but flushed. Fever? No, let's ignore that. Remember what Sherlock did with the thermometer last week?
John shook his head at his reflection.
"Just... go back to bed," he muttered to himself.
Listen to your doctor. He giggled. Perhaps his fever was higher than he thought. He shook his head, wincing as his brain throbbed in protest.
"Right," he mumbled, shuffling down the hall and back up the stairs to his room, where he collapsed on the bed and barely managed to crawl under the blankets before falling into an exhausted sleep.
John wouldn't have thought it possible, but when he awoke, he felt even worse.
He coughed halfheartedly. He could tell his fever was back with a vengeance, and his head would have been better off with a bullet wound in it. He needed drugs, tea, and a cool cloth. In that order.
"Sherlock," John called weakly. Really, he can hear a conversation that Mrs Hudson and I am having downstairs, but when it really matters, he's deaf?
No, there was something else. Right! Sherlock had left. Crime scene or something. A nice murder.
John would have shaken his head if it wouldn't have hurt so much. Why does it hurt so much. He groaned. His head hurt and his neck hurt and everything was too bright...
Oh. Those weren't good signs. Bad signs. Signs of meningitis. But?...
What was it that he'd heard once? If you can think that you might have meningitis, you don't have it.
He chuckled, and it hurt. No more of that.
Where the hell are you Sherlock?
Sherlock always replied to texts. Good plan. Where's your phone?
John groaned. It was on the table beside his bed, which wasn't actually that far, but just seemed like miles from where he lay.
It took an exhausting 10 minutes for John to actually grab the phone. They were some of the longest minutes of his life. And he'd been shot before.
So in the end, John tapped out a message and sent it to Sherlock without proofreading it.
Any spelling errors will just convince him to come home to yell at me himself.
John coughed, and squeezed his eyes closed at the pain that the coughing caused.
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep...
Sherlock arrived home. It had been rather a simple case, nothing that Lestrade should have needed him for, but that just goes to show how stupid his people were.
He paused on the landing for a moment, listening for John. There was a little cough, but otherwise, he was quiet. Tea, Sherlock decided. I'll make him tea. He makes me tea when I'm sick.
Sherlock put the kettle on to boil and wandered around the flat impatiently, while waiting. He paused for a moment, eyeing his violin, but decided against it, not wanting to awaken John.
The kettle finally boiled and Sherlock poured the hot water over the teabags, watching as the water became coloured.
"John," Sherlock called. "What is it that you like in your tea?" There was no response.
"Not sugar...right?" he muttered to himself. "So... some milk?"
Sherlock shrugged and added a splash of milk to John's cup and a liberal spoonful of sugar to his.
"John," he called again. "Your tea is ready. Want me to bring it up or are you going to come down?"
He paused, frowning. John had been rather quiet.
There was something... what was it? Oh! John had texted him earlier. Or at least, he's assumed it was John, as no one else really texted him except Lestrade, and he was with Lestrade.
Sherlock flipped his phone out of his pocket and frowned at the message.
come hoem -JW
As John would say, not good. Sherlock sprinted up the stairs, completely forgetting about the tea.
"John?" he called hesitantly, knocking on the door before pushing his way in to the room. Now is NOT the time to be polite, he chastised himself. He stepped in.
John was in bed, shivering despite the double layers of blankets piled on top of him. His mobile was clutched in his left hand, and he was holding on to it for dear life.
"John," Sherlock called, louder and more insistent. John didn't stir.
Sherlock hesitated, his hand hovering above John's forehead before feeling it like John had done so many times before with him.
Hot. Very hot.
In one swift movement, Sherlock whipped the pile of blankets off of John.
"Too hot," he informed John, who groaned slightly at this turn of events.
Sherlock glanced at the bedside table. "Why is there no thermometer?" he demanded. "You should have been taking your temperature-" he stopped mid-sentence. "Oh. Right. Probably best not to use it after that." He waved a hand. "Still. You're very hot, and that's not good. You'll denature your proteins," Sherlock informed him, matter of fact.
John kept shivering and showed no signs of having heard Sherlock.
"John, this is dull," Sherlock declared. "Wake up and order me around," he said, poking at John as he did. There was still no response from John. Sherlock sighed. "Really?" He moved on to using his knuckles on John's sternum, wincing as he did, knowing from experience how much it actually hurt.
There was finally a response from John.
"She'lock?" he mumbled.
"John." Sherlock said loudly. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired. S'lemme sleep."
"Tell me what hurts John," Sherlock demanded.
Sherlock spotted a rather useful item out of the corner of his eye. John's doctor bag.
It took him two strides to cross the room and reach it, and two to get back. John had already started to drift off again.
"No John, you can't sleep," Sherlock informed him. He wasn't really sure if it was true or not, but it sounded good. He dug around in the bag as he said this, looking for the irritating little flashlight that John had taken much pleasure in shining in Sherlock's eyes when he was nearly unconscious many times before. It was time to return the favour.
"Open your eyes John."
"S'too bright," he growled, trying to burrow into the pillow, his cave of blankets having been removed.
Sherlock frowned. It really wasn't. There was only the small bedside lamp on, and it was nearing nightfall, so there wasn't even stray sunlight shining in the curtain.
"Fine. I'll do it for you." And with that, Sherlock pulled John's eyelid open just as he's done to me dozens of times and shone the light in it.
John hissed at him and despite being nearly asleep, swatted the flashlight out of Sherlock's hand and sent it skittering across the floor.
"Well," Sherlock declared. "That was a little rude. Even I've never done that."
He took hold of John's hand also rather hot and clamped his fingers around his wrist looking for a pulse. But even in the dim light, he was distracted by the red marks that he could just see peeking out from under the sleeve.
Sherlock quickly forgot about the pulse and yanked John's sleeve up. There were scattered dots on his arm, red and angry. "Interesting development..." he noted to John, immediately feeling guilty. John was wearing a button up pyjama shirt.
"Sorry," Sherlock said to him before ripping it open. You could have undone them. Too long, he told himself. The rash was present on his chest and stomach too.
Sherlock frowned and grabbed his hand back again, pinching a bit of it, and watching as it stayed like that for a bit before recoiling and becoming flat again. Dehydrated.
"That's it," Sherlock declared. "We're going to the hospital."
He paused for a moment, realising the absurdity of that statement.
"Well," he sighed. "I suppose I'm going to have to carry you."
And with that, Sherlock heaved John over his shoulder and carefully navigated out the door so as to not bang John on anything, remembering to grab both their coats on the way out.
For some odd reasons, none of the cabs really wanted to take them.
Perhaps it was because the sight of a man with another man thrown over his shoulder didn't exactly scream 'PICK US UP!'.
Sherlock finally sighed, propping John up beside him, prodding him to get him to wake up at all to imitate any semblance of normality.
That seemed to do the trick, and soon enough a cab pulled up beside 221 Baker street, and Sherlock pushed John in before crawling in himself.
"He's sick." He snapped at the cabbie, leaving no room for argument. The cabbie shrugged.
The cabbie eyed John's limp body in the mirror as Sherlock struggled to get him into a sitting position and do up his seat belt.
Sherlock noticed this and spat "just drive!" at him, glaring.
And they were off.
When they arrived at A&E, Sherlock threw some bills at the cabbie, probably giving him less than John would have, but John wasn't the one making the calls right now. He pulled John out of the seat and heaved him over his shoulder again, making his way into the building.
He glared at the nurse and receptionist that seemed startled to see him, and snapped at them. "Don't just stand there looking. Get a gurney!" He rolled his eyes. People are so stupid.
They sprung into action, the nurse fetching a gurney and the receptionist paging a doctor.
Sherlock gave them a scathing glance before gently setting John down on the gurney, taking special care with his head.
"High fever, muscles aches, cough, bad headache, aversion to light, but no sore throat. I thought it was pneumonia, but he's gotten worse. He's got a rash on his arms and chest, probably elsewhere but I didn't check, and he's dehydrated."
The doctor who had been paged nodded at Sherlock. Dr Marks, Sherlock noted.
"Sounds like meningitis. We'll take good care of him."
With that he turned away to follow the gurney the nurses had kept pulling down the hallway.
"Wait!" Sherlock said, panicked, grabbing at his arm. "I need to come."
"I'm afraid you can't," he said gently, shaking off Sherlock's arm. "You'll have to go to the waiting room."
"No," Sherlock protested breathlessly. His eyes were getting crazed. "You don't understand. It's my fault! It's my fault. I should have stayed home, or-" Sherlock could see the doctor's eyes growing wary.
"Okay!" he interrupted Sherlock's ranting. "You can stand in the hallway outside the room. But don't interfere."
Sherlock nodded, as relieved as he could be under the circumstances, trailing after the doctor like a puppy.
John I'm sorry.
Sherlock watched numbly as the main doctor Dr Marks and some others along with nurses all worked around John, like a machine, threading tubes and needles, rolling him onto his side as one unit to stick a needle in his spine. They shone lights at him, and Sherlock noted bitterly that none of them got swatted. Perhaps he just cares about you more. Whatever. Shut up. Sherlock watched as they flipped John back as a unit again, then watched as they all coordinated to intubate him. Why? He's breathing... Sherlock watched as they threaded IV lines into the veins in his arms, as they threaded a central line into a main vein in his chest, but looked away when they went to insert a catheter. Sherlock watched when they rolled John out, hidden under all the tubes and wires, looking nothing like the man Sherlock had just carried in. He followed the bed as they wheeled him into an elevator, catching snatches of conversation, words like 'steroids', 'antibiotics', 'septic', 'intensive care', 'ventilated', and 'pressure'.
And finally, Sherlock watched as the elevator doors closed in front of him, carrying John away.
"Sir? Excuse me, sir?" Sherlock blinked back to reality as a nurse stood in front of him, seeking his attention.
He worked hard to focus his eyes on her. "Yes?"
"Your friends has pneumoccocal meningitis. The infection has also gotten into his blood. He's very sick, but we're doing all we can." She smiled at him hopefully.
Deductions flashed before his eyes, but he ignored them.
"Thank you," he said, really not meaning it, hoping it wasn't obvious in the way he said it.
She nodded and walked away.
Sherlock didn't want to wait for the elevator. He took off down the hall, searching for a staircase.
"Idiot," Sherlock bellowed, mostly at himself, and maybe a little at John, because WHY didn't he tell him?
And everyone was looking at him strangely rightly so and thinking he was mad.
Psych will come and lock me up! Sherlock giggled. Oh, now you've done it. If John was here... Sherlock stopped giggling. John could not come and fix things. John is sick. He may die. He has a 50% chance of being damaged. Oh hell... Sherlock was not cut out for this. He found the door to the stairwell and yanked it open. Once inside, he slid down the wall into a huddled sitting position, his chest heaving. Why? Why? What from?Hyperventilating, crying, laughing?
Sherlock didn't know. So he just stayed there until he could control his breathing, and his head didn't feel like a boulder, and his mind regained some semblance of order.
Then he went to find John.
John was in the ICU. Mycroft must have found out about John being sick and pulled strings, because even after visiting hours, he was allowed to stay.
The doctor, not the one from A&E, not Dr Marks, came to inform Sherlock about John's condition.
Sherlock heard most of the words, but not the meaning. He heard terms, but not the big picture. So when the doctor left, Sherlock's mind was left alone with all of those terrifying words and not their meaning. Left alone for those words to crawl around in his mind and taunt him.
He just sat there, in the uncomfortable chairs that John had so often inhabited while he was in the bed, staring at John. Staring at John and wondering what he could have done differently.
Why didn't he stay home and watch him. Take care of him. Why didn't he look at the text right away. Why didn't he insist he go see a doctor. Why didn't he have Mrs Hudson check up on him during the day. Why didn't he call an ambulance instead of taking a cab. WHY?
Sherlock shook his head violently, cursing the thoughts that were racing and racing around inside.
He must have fallen asleep for a bit. It was light out when he next looked at John. He cursed himself for falling asleep, for not watching John, and still, for the events of yesterday.
Pneumococcal meningitis. John had pneumonia, and meningitis, and on top of all that he had gotten septic.
Sherlock watched John anxiously.
Your fault your fault your fault. If he dies it is your fault and everyone will know it. Even Anderson.
"Shut up," he muttered to himself. He didn't listen; it didn't work.
John was still sick, could have died (still could even), now in a medically induced coma, sewn together with tubes and wires and it was because of Sherlock.
He spoke to John a lot that day.
"It's my fault," he said morosely. "If I'd been there... If I'd have looked at your text sooner... If I hadn't taken that case..."
He glanced at John, who made no motion that he was listening. He was breathing evenly mechanically and he still looked dreadful.
He mostly apologized over and over and over until his voice was hoarse and Mycroft appeared out of nowhere to give him a drink.
"Piss off," he'd managed after gulping the glass of water down.
"Doctor Watson is rather ill," Mycroft informed him.
"Really?" Sherlock asked, opening his eyes wide in fake shock. "I really hadn't noticed," he added, dripping with sarcasm.
Mycroft gave him a look and left. Thank god.
John was still intubated the next day.
"You know you could die," Sherlock informed him. His face was sombre. "A twenty percent chance of dying in fact. And a fifty percent chance of complications. Brain damage, seizures, hearing loss, hydrocephalus..." he trailed off, realizing that if John was indeed able to hear him, and was listening, talking about all the bad things that could happen was not the best.
"Sorry," he mumbled to John, wondering what he could talk about that wouldn't depress him.
He sighed loudly and tapped his fingers on the rolling table that held his laptop. He's talked Mrs Hudson into bringing it for him. He hadn't left John's side, not even for food. Mycroft must have had a hand in having food delivered to the room, despite the fact that John couldn't eat. Insufferable.
"I don't know what to say," he said to John. "I really don't." He sighed. "Molly sent me an email with pictures of baby animals. It seems like the thing that appeals to women. Perhaps I can forward it to you for your future girlfriends. You'd probably like some of them too." He smiled at the one, which was a kitten sitting on top of a dog. "This one is rather amusing. It's like the kitten is trying to steer the dog. Like it's riding it."
Sherlock smirked and looked over to John, who stirred slightly, but did not wake.
Inspired, Sherlock searched for other things like that on the internet and spent the rest of the day giggling and huffing in turn at the things he found as he described them to John. Cats that had no concept of grammar, people and their animals representations, science jokes, moving pictures of animals doing ridiculous things, and baby animals. He swore he saw John smile once or twice, despite still being heavily sedated.
They extubated him the next day. He regained consciousness that afternoon. John smiled at Sherlock and pointed to his laptop, enquiring about the pictures of baby animals. Sherlock slammed it shut and mumbled something about research. John grinned. Sherlock had really missed that smile.
Sherlock went back to Baker street to sleep that night. He collapsed on his bed and slept for 15 hours. He returned to the hospital with John's laptop and three experiments to keep himself entertained.
It was a week before they allowed John to go home. Sherlock acted annoyed with John being kept for so long, but knew it was necessary. Besides, after what had happened to lead up to this, Sherlock didn't want to have the responsibility of looking after John, because he knew he'd fail, just like last time.
The cab ride back home was much less tense than the one they'd taken to the hospital, but awkward nonetheless. Sherlock had his fingers crossed that John did not recall anything that happened while he was comatose, or at least, wouldn't bring it up. It all went fine until they were back at the flat.
"I heard what you said, you know," John had commented, sitting in his chair back at Baker street, looking exhausted, but much much better.
"What did I say?" Sherlock asked distractedly, making tea to make up for the other time that he didn't.
"You were blaming yourself. Which is a load of bullocks of course, because it's not at all your fault I got sick. You know you're an idiot, right?"
Sherlock's head snapped up at that.
"I never said that to you," while you were conscious his mind continued.
"Yes you did," John replied smugly. "You just didn't think I could hear you. You were talking to me while I was unconscious."
Sherlock scowled as he carried the tea mug into John and handed it to him.
"It's a well known fact that people in comas often retain some hearing, and that-"
"You were worried," John said, smiling.
"Of course not."
Sherlock didn't sound entirely sure of himself.
"You were worried."
Sherlock didn't say anything. John grinned larger.
Yes, they both thought, but none of them said out loud.
"Also, what the hell was with the baby animals and memes?"
Sherlock only looked at him innocently and shrugged.