John woke up gagging and choking, and he was grateful for the strong hands helping him up so he could vomit into a convenient cardboard bowl. He was lowered gently down again where he lay panting for a while.
'What do I do with this now?' Sherlock asked him.
John opened his eyes to find Sherlock sitting on a visitor's chair, looking at the bowl full of sick.
'Well don't look at it,' he said. 'Is there a yellow bin somewhere around?'
'Throw it in there.'
Sherlock stayed where he was. 'Really? Seems a bit of a waste.'
John looked tiredly at him. 'Sherlock, this is one of those things you need to take on board, and it's something that's not going to change during the whole of our lives; you are not allowed to experiment on my vomit. Now stop looking at it and throw it away.'
'Fine. But it would be useful.'
'Throw it away.'
'Fine!' Sherlock did so, and he came back and picked up John's computer which was open and on.
John frowned at him. 'What day is it?'
'It's still Monday.'
'God, really? How long was I asleep?'
'Not quite two hours.'
'Oh. I thought you were going off to Bart's.'
'No. I just went downstairs to inform Lestrade of your plan.'
'Oh. Is there another bowl somewhere about?'
Sherlock looked up. 'What, you need another?'
John took a deep breath. 'I'd like one close. Also some water if you'd like to make yourself useful.'
'I am being useful; I'm researching the Egyptian haul because you were…'
John coughed a deep, stomachy cough, and Sherlock shot out of his chair. He only went to the other side of the room where there were some shelves with a stack of emesis bowls, but he still moved impressively fast.
'Here,' he held the bowl out towards John and looked expectantly at him.
John simply took it in his hand and put it on the bed in easy reach.
'Thank you. Could you grab a box of tissues too? And the water.'
Sherlock frowned. 'Did you do that deliberately?'
John gave him a half smile and closed his eyes. Sherlock dutifully fetched the necessary supplies. He even lifted John's head so he could drink some water.
John blew his nose and gave Sherlock something of a look.
'You really don't have to be here, you know.'
'It's fine. I'm happy to be here.' He sat back down and picked the computer up again.
John narrowed his eyes at him. 'Is it possible you're hiding from Mrs Hudson?'
'No. I'm perfectly happy to go home, but I need to be here.'
'I really am fine with the nurses, Sherlock…'
'No, I mean, this is my position now. Lestrade's covering the evidence locker in case our thief goes there to access the broken coffin, Molly's at Bart's in case he tries to get there before the body's moved, or if he doesn't believe our subterfuge, and I'm here in case he does. So tough luck; I have to stay.'
'What will you do when visiting hours end.'
'I'm sure if I make myself useful, nobody will mind if I stay.'
'I might mind.'
'Why would you mind?'
John didn't answer. Instead he coughed again and rolled to throw up some more. He interspersed the vomiting with a fair amount of swearing. Sherlock stood up again and lingered.
'The thing is,' John said, resting back again, 'this is really quite embarrassing. If you were to go home and just pick me up in two months, then that really would be fine.'
'You'd be bored.'
John grunted and screwed his eyes shut.
'Is the pain at least better?' Sherlock asked.
'A bit until I moved just then. Now it's not.' He wiped his forehead and then his eyes from which there were two tears escaping. 'Seriously, Sherlock, I'm fine. Go home.' He wiped his eyes again.
Sherlock threw the bowl away and replaced it. John kept his eyes shut.
'Are you pretending to sleep?' Sherlock asked.
'For the love of God, Sherlock, please go home?' He wiped more tears away.
'Are you all right?'
John actually laughed slightly. 'No, I'm not. I'm exhausted, I'm in pain, and I'm nauseous. Oh, and I can't stop crying right now, which just completes my humiliation. Please, go home, Sherlock. I think this might be just about bearable if I didn't have to worry about upsetting you.'
'You're not upsetting me. I still think you might as well take the morphine, but the fact that you won't doesn't bother me.'
John kept his eyes closed, but he continued weeping quietly and wiping his face.
Sherlock watched for a while. 'OK,' he said eventually. 'What do you need me to do for you before I go?'
'Nothing. A supply of bowls will be enough. And pull the curtain around the bed.'
'OK. And what shall I bring tomorrow?'
'I don't know.'
'OK.' Sherlock gave him one last look. 'I'll think of something nice.' He gathered up his coat and left him alone.
Lestrade looked up as Sherlock stormed into his office.
'Why are you here? You said you'd be at the evidence locker.'
'It's two floors away. I'm hardly miles away. What about you? You said you'd be at UCH.'
'Well I'm not.'
'You left John alone?'
'He told me to.' Sherlock threw himself down on the chair opposite Lestrade's desk. 'It's all ridiculous anyway. If Cobsen follows his previous pattern, we had just two nights to catch him and we messed up both of them.'
'Well not 'we'. I mean, if you'd have perhaps told me a bit about it, there might have been a couple more police resources at your disposal.'
Sherlock scowled some more. 'All of these demands from people that that I tell them things…'
'Well it is kind of handy. The rest of us can't read minds. How's John?'
'Well that's good then.' He watched Sherlock glower for a while. 'Well, you can't hide from Mrs Hudson forever.'
'I'm not hiding!'
'Well, Mick downstairs is on full alert, ready to tell me if anything happens, and I'll tell you immediately. Off you go home now.'
Sherlock glared at him.
'When did you last eat?' Lestrade asked.
Sherlock's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
'Well John's indisposed,' Lestrade said. 'I'm sure if he was about, he'd be nagging you about eating. So go home. Or go and see Molly and the corpse if you must.'
Sherlock sat up. 'Can I see the coffin?'
'Knock yourself out. Just be somewhere else.' Lestrade turned back to his computer screen.
'Yes, that seems to be the general consensus. On both parts.' Sherlock left.
The coffin proved distinctly disappointing. It had been cleared of everything vaguely relevant, leaving nothing but a satin cushion on the bottom and sides, stained with soil, so Sherlock got into a cab and made his way over to Bart's. He found, at last, someone who didn't actively want him elsewhere, but this didn't sooth him much.
'How's John?' Molly asked. 'Greg said he was hurt.'
'No, I mean really. What are his injuries?'
'He's got a cracked cheekbone, and four fractures to various bones in his leg, the worst of which have been pinned and plated.'
'Poor John. Are they managing his pain medication well?'
'No. I want to see the corpse.'
'I wasn't going to do an autopsy. In fact, I thought the plan was that I'd come to UCH to pretend to do it there. I was going to pop in and see John.'
'He doesn't want visitors. Can I see Ms Cook's personal effects?'
'Her jewellery specifically.'
'Er, yeah. Hang on.' Molly went to retrieve a clearly labelled box from which she took several clear plastic bags.
Sherlock held them up to the light. There were a pair of gold earrings, dropped but not overly big, and a thin gold necklace with a pendent that matched.
'No,' he shook his head. 'These are too new.' He dropped them down again. 'She must have had the ring.'
'Yes, I thought so too. There's a mark on the severed digit.'
He looked at her. 'Then I don't imagine he'll come back for her at all. I wish John had told me that in the first place.'
'Well he was probably a bit distracted.'
'Damn it, he did say. He was ambiguous but, damn it!' He paced off.
'OK.' Molly gathered up the jewellery and put it back in the box. 'Listen, do you think you should eat something maybe? If you wanted me to go to dinner with you, then I'm perfectly happy to…'
'No. I'd better go and face the music.' He marched out of the door.
Sherlock stood outside Mrs Hudson's door for a long while before he finally knocked. She opened the door instantly.
'I wondered how long you were going to stand there.' He followed her into her kitchen. 'How's John?'
'Not good. The pain medication isn't managing the pain, and it's making him nauseous.'
'Oh, the poor man. You come in and eat now.' She pushed him gently down onto one of her kitchen chairs.
'I'm really not hungry,' he muttered.
'Eat anyway.' She took a casserole from the oven and spooned a large serving of stew into a bowl. She put it in front of him and cut some slices of bread from a loaf. She put them onto a plate by his hand and sat down opposite him.
Sherlock listlessly pushed some beef around his bowl.
Mrs Hudson waited patiently for him.
'It's all too late now,' he said eventually. 'It's all over until next year. The thief's hardly going to ring on the doorbell now, is he? It's my fault. I got it wrong right at the start. If John had been with me at the cemetery, he'd have started nagging about waiting so long, and I'd have realised that obviously we must be in the wrong place.' He sat back and rested his hands on his head. 'I ended up having an hour-long conversation with a tombstone, which was useless. I needed him to challenge me.'
'Well, I'm sure next time he will.'
'Don't you think I should leave him here next time, where it's safe?'
'No. I just think that brain of yours should work a little harder, that's all.'
'I should have noticed in the museum, you mean? Looking back now, I can see that something was off with him. I've seen him make a jump of that distance some four of five times, but he was sluggish and slow from the onset. I should have noticed that, but I was planning ahead.'
'Well, what you really should have noticed, was that he'd fallen off a building,' she said gently.
Sherlock flushed and shook his head. 'I know.'
'And perhaps that he wasn't home all night.'
'And perhaps, a bit before that, that he's a human being and not just a thing that's there for your personal benefit.'
Sherlock's chin sunk to his chest, and he pouted.
'He's your friend before he's anything else, Sherlock. You'll do well to remember that.'
'I don't know how. None of this, none of it is familiar. I have no instincts in this area.'
'Well, perhaps you should just try to think of what he'd do for you, and then do that. Or something anyway. You need start seeing him in a way that makes him different to everyone else in the world.'
'Because he is different to everyone else in the world. Don't you think so?'
Sherlock nodded slowly. 'He told me to stay away from the hospital until he's ready to come home. Do you think that's something he actually meant?'
'That's what I thought. He'd fuss over me every day. He'd talk to the doctors, interfere with the medication, make me keep active…'
'Well hang on…'
They were interrupted by a ring at the door.
'Who on earth could that be at this time?' Mrs Hudson said, getting up.
'No, I'll go.'
'I'll get it later.'
Sherlock marched through to the doorway, feeling vaguely hopeful that he might have something to think about for the next few days, and he opened the door.
'Mr Sherlock Holmes?' the man said.
A short laugh burst out of Sherlock.
It was the thief from the museum.
Sherlock ran down the stairs with quite a spring in his step and knocked on Mrs Hudson's door.
'Oh, hello, love,' she said. 'You decided you would go in then.'
'Yes, of course, your conversation last night was very helpful. Do you have anything you need me to take?'
'No, I'll go in later myself. You look substantially better now.'
'Yes. Case is all done. I'm saving the finale for John, but the legwork's certainly over now.'
'You're not going to spend the morning talking at him, are you?'
'No, this is much better than that!'
'Good. Wait, do you want to run your plan by me, just in case?'
'No, it's fine. I'm doing exactly as you advised last night.' He kissed her cheek by way of concluding the discussion, and hurried out the door, ignoring any concerned cries coming after him.
He was the first visitor to arrive. In fact, he was lurking outside of the ward door for a good fifteen minutes before they opened the door. He strode through to the little room and John's bed in the corner.
John was sound asleep, which pleased and annoyed Sherlock in equal measure. A new IV had been put into him, and it was attached to rather a fancy machine that appeared to deliver a measured dose of morphine when John pressed a button that was resting on his bed. Sherlock of course prowled towards it instantly. He was closely examining the delivery button when a nurse snapped at him.
'The patient has to administer himself!'
'Of course, I wasn't…' Sherlock dropped the button back on the bed.
John stirred and opened two sleepy eyes to look at him.
'Good morning,' Sherlock said. 'I'm glad you're awake. I've arranged a treat for you at nine AM exactly.'
John blinked a couple of times and licked his lips.
'I see you agreed to the morphine in the end.'
John's eyes travelled slowly to the machine. They travelled back to Sherlock.
'How are you feeling?'
'Er… 'K.' A frown appeared on his face and he blinked a little more. 'They gave me some of that stuff. That stuff.'
'Stuff you like.'
'What about the sickness?'
'Nah, they give… gave me something.'
'Yes, we've established that.'
John shut his eyes, and Sherlock watched him for a while.
'Do you think you'll be back to normal by nine?'
There was no answer.
Sherlock sat, fidgeted, paced, searched the internet, popped outside to check his phone a number of times until about quarter to nine, when John started fidgeting and wriggling too. He rubbed at his cast a bit, and finally opened his eyes.
'Oh, hello,' he said, locating Sherlock. 'You came back then.'
'We've already had a conversation this morning.'
'Have we?' John rubbed at his face.
'Yes. For someone who makes such a big deal about being present for conversations…'
'Sorry.' He reached for his morphine button.
'Actually, you might want to be a bit clear headed for a bit.'
John squinted at him. 'Why?'
'Remember how you said I didn't have to lure the grave-robber to your bedside?'
'Well, I did.'
John fixed him in a steady gaze. 'You did what?'
'He said he'd be here at 9:00.'
'The grave robber! And the museum thief. You'll never guess the stroke of luck I had yesterday. He actually turned up to hire me!'
'He turned up asking for my help. You'll love this; he said he'd read up on me, and he thought that morally, I'd be on his side rather than with the police!'
'I told him he'd have to come here to convince me!' He grinned broadly. It started to falter slightly as he took in John's expression. 'What. You aren't pleased about this?'
'Sherlock, just yesterday, just twelve hours ago, I made it pretty clear I didn't want anyone here. Even you.'
'Yes, but that was because you were in pain. You just needed a better distraction than I'd provided. Besides, now you've taken the morphine!'
'Mrs Hudson told me it would be fine!'
'She did what?'
'She told me to do for you the sorts of thing that you do for me. When I'm not well, you try to distract me! What could be a better distraction than this?'
'Oh, God.' He reached for the morphine button.
'Are you sure you want to do that right now?'
'I've never wanted to do anything more. Well, ideally I'd like to throw you from the window, but as that's currently not an option…' he pressed the button.
Sherlock pouted. 'I honestly thought you'd be more grateful.'
'When he arrives, apologise for the misunderstanding and take him downstairs to the café, OK?'
'Fine,' Sherlock sulked.
He continued to sulk for another half an hour while John snored gently beside him, and his grave robber failed to turn up. He was beginning to abandon all hope when the smallish, wiry man slunk in through the door.
He gazed around the room, clearly deciding whether or not to make a bolt for it, but Sherlock had already fixed him with his steely eyed stare, so he came in the rest of the way.
Sherlock stood to meet him.
'Thank you for honouring our appointment,' he said.
The thief looked at John. 'Is he OK?'
'…. No 'cause the mouse… the mouse… I think it's…' John added.
'Perhaps it would be better if we continued our conversation elsewhere,' Sherlock said.
'Fine. OK,' the man agreed.
'No, but! No!' John called vaguely. Sherlock furrowed his brow. 'Don' leave me 'lone, Sherlock,' John finished.
Sherlock hesitated, and then he gestured to the man to sit in the visitor's chair. The thief looked sceptical again, but he did sit down. Sherlock leaned against John's bed.
John opened his eyes and looked at the man.
''Lo. Who're you?'
The thief looked from him to Sherlock. 'My current name is Alexander Cobsen, however, I prefer my original name; Djedefre of el-Hiba.'
Sherlock's eyes gleamed with humour, but John just looked at him blankly. ''lo. I'm John.'
'I am pleased to meet you. I hoped that your friend might help me to recover some property that was stolen from me.'
'What, Sherrrlock? Yeah, he's good at that.'
'The property that was stolen,' Sherlock said, 'were items of gold and enamel jewellery, is that right?'
'Yes. They belong to my wife, Nekiterty. I intend to gather it all back up again, then go in search of her to re-present them to her.'
'The items you are looking for, they are three sets of earrings, four necklaces, eight rings, and two diadems, is that right?'
'Yes, that is right. I was a rich man, back in el-Hiba, and my family were well respected.'
'El-hiiiiiiiba,' John said. 'Hiiiiiiiiiiiba.'
Sherlock looked at him, but he didn't seem eager to add anything. In fact, he closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
'Maybe we should take this conversation elsewhere,' Sherlock said again.
'Your friend fell,' Alexander said. 'I remember there were two of you following me, and then just one.'
Sherlock winced. 'Under usual circumstance, John could easily outrun and out jump both of us. He was having a bad day.'
The thief nodded. 'Back in my first incarnation, I was a fat and ungainly man. I'm sure that my current frame was given to me purely to achieve this particular task.'
'Sherlock!' John suddenly called in his sleep. His right hand flailed slightly, so Sherlock took hold of it. He held it gently and John settled down again.
'Tell me, Mr Cobsen…'
'Djedefre, if you please.'
'… how is it you became aware of your previous life?'
'It was eight years ago now. I was working for a time for a mechanic company in Fulham. I had an accident,' he looked at John. 'I fell too. During the time I was unconscious, all my previous memories were unlocked in my brain. I came around several days later, understanding who I truly was, and what my purpose in this world truly is.'
'This same accident resulted in you being paid £20,000 by your employer.'
'It was covered under his insurance,' Alexander said quickly. 'And the value of the property is less relevant than the fact that it was stolen from me, and needs to be returned.'
'And all the burglaries happened on the anniversary of your accident.'
'Which is coincidentally my original birthday. And the anniversary of my wedding to Nekiterti.'
'How convenient. From my records, I can see you have taken two necklaces, and four of the rings.'
'I've retrieved them.'
'Despoiling eight gravesites in order to get them.'
'It is no worse than the indignity suffered by me and my family!'
John opened his eyes. ''Lo. Wait, I know you. You're like… you're a… like a 'gyptian God.' He yawned. 'Or something.'
'I see your friend knows the truth of it,' Alexander said, smiling. 'Indeed my family has divine blood.'
'Yes. My friend can be extremely perceptive at times.'
'Sherlock, I don't feel very well,' John muttered.
Sherlock glanced around. Alexander took his opportunity.
'I don't think you have any intention of helping me at all, Mr. Holmes,' he said, standing up. 'I was wrong to trust you.'
'Good spot,' Sherlock muttered. He was also standing now, but unable to shake of John's grip. John was looking terrified and confused, his eyes wide and unfocussed.
Alexander was effectively trapped between John's bed, and the bed next door, with Sherlock blocking his exit. John started to gag, distracting Sherlock further, and Alexander darted around him. Without letting go of John, Sherlock stuck his leg out hard, kicking Alexander in the shin and tripping him. He sprawled to the floor, the tray from the bed next door flying.
'Hey, watch it!' the patient shouted.
'What on earth is going on in here?' an angry nurse yelled, charging in.
'Is John Watson in this room?' Lestrade asked, following her.
'Oh, John!' Mrs Hudson cried from behind him.
'Ah, Lestrade!' Sherlock said. 'Something on the floor here for you to clear up. Don't worry; it's not from John.'
John woke up slowly and looked across at Sherlock who was sitting quietly in the visitor's bed, reading the newspaper.
'Good morning,' John said.
Sherlock checked his watch. 'Only just though.' He smiled at him 'Are you OK?'
'Yeah. You'll be pleased to know I finally agreed to the morphine.'
'Yes. So I understand.'
'They also gave me some anti-emetics, so I'm hoping that might help with things.'
'Hopefully. Are you hungry now.'
John's forehead wrinkled. 'No, not yet. I don't want to risk it until I've had more pills' He yawned. 'I'll tell you what though; I'd forgotten about the crazy morphine dreams.'
'Mm. There was a pharaoh sitting exactly where you are, all made of gold and wearing gold chains and stuff, and you were trying to arrest him for something.'
'Yeah, then Lestrade flew in and took him away, and then Mrs Hudson turned into a dragon and torched your head.' John frowned. 'I mean, you wouldn't actually bring someone here to see me like this, would you? Because I have the strangest sensation I've had this conversation with you before.'
'What? No. I'd never do such a thing. Close your eyes again, John. I'm pretty sure you'll have calmer dreams now.'
John, looking only slightly suspicious, obeyed.