"Mm. Because you’re so concerned with controlling your own tongue. You’re a sparkling example of politeness," John bit the inside of his cheek, and laughed weakly. There was a slightly wry smile on his chapped lips as he stepped closer to the medical box. His brows knit together as he studied it for a moment, his fingers blindly closing around the aspirin. He tossed them back and found that swallowing was harder than he’d thought it would be. He was exhausted. His eyes closed all on their own, much against his will. He was in a weird place between unconscious and awake. Fully aware and yet his body seemed content to try and shut down again.
"Thank you," he said at length, “for not accidentally killing me."
He opened his eyes and provided Sherlock with a tired but more sincere smile. He reached up and rubbed along his jaw, nails rasping against stubble.
"I’ll be out of your hair before you know it."
The way that John’s throat convulsed as he tried to swallow was noted, the nearly empty glass of water taken and refilled. He deplored dry swallowing tablets himself; the chalk-like residue which lingered was enough to turn his stomach.
As the tap ran, he spared a glance over his shoulder, mildly curious about the state of his new-found companion.
“Yes well, first we need you able to actually stay awake before you can be ‘out of my hair.’” The phrase was echoed with a mild curl of distaste around his lips, though whether for the choice of words or the inconvenience of John reacting badly to the drug, he didn’t exactly say.
"Go and stand by the window, the fresh air will make you feel less stagnant. You should probably try to eat something too. Your body should have processed the worst of it all, however you will feel side effects for a couple of days. Sleep and food is all I suggest."
A bit of a rough patch. Sandpaper in their association, a section of unpaved road on their journey together. He still couldn’t wrap his mind around how this had become a thing of their past, that painful moment watching Sherlock walk through the door without looking back at him - the last view of his friend he would have for months. They would look back on this, on the murder and the lies, the pain and the anger and the blood and the death, everything that would simply become…memories.
When Jen smiled at him he gave her one that must have seem rather befuddled, which suited the moment appropriately anyway. Victor thanked her softly but was sure she hadn’t heard, her head filled up with that pedestrian, fleeting interest in someone else’s lives that would pass when she entered the next room.
She already had a story planned out for them in their head, and Sherlock had merely ensured they stand in those roles to avoid the awkward, blundering moments of her trying to force them in. Her idea was preferable to reality.
He glanced up, eyebrows slightly lifted when Sherlock slipped into the spot on the edge of the bed, hand darting down to brace his ribs as he shifted over. Sherlock explained as if he didn’t know, as if carefully affirming in case Victor took offense, and that made him smile a little. “I know,” he assured. “She’ll forget soon enough. The medication is starting to kicking in, s-“
He was interrupted by a yawn and gave way to it, turning his face away to cover his mouth politely and then finish what he was saying, “excuse me- so I won’t feel it for very long. Not to say,” he gave Sherlock a wry look, mouth twisting slightly, “the pain won’t be there anymore. But we all have our aches.”
Victor wanted to ask about Sherlock’s scars. Part of him wanted to see them, to assure himself it was all real, and partly to see that gap between them had closed a little more by another similarity - their scars. He held his tongue. “Key to the flat’s with the nurse, I’m sure you can pick the lock, but there are security systems up now so that might not be the best idea…” Another yawn.
Sherlock didn’t toss an arm around his companion as he had before. Instead their elbows rubbed together though the taller man was careful that he didn’t push against Victor too much. Instead, he only half laid on the bed, letting one leg dangle over the side and used his toes to keep himself balanced. The answer Victor gave made his lips twitch in a gentle movement, a flickering and short lived smile. It had been too long since he had something to smile about, the movements were almost alien to him now.
"The pain will linger for a while, sadly. But in a year it will be nearly gone and in two it will only be a memory." But our memories can be just as painful, he finished in his mind. His own pains were faded, but a look in the mirror and he could remember the burn of the scalpel and the deep-seated ache of the wound.
“However judging by the fact she’s prescribing you Tramadol and Codeine, I imagine you’ll be able to quickly drown it.” He allowed his lips to twitch in a faint smirk, all too aware that perhaps the opiate based painkillers would only fuel the addiction he needed to beat, however perhaps it would be a pleasant substitute; the hospitals wouldn’t over prescribe him.
The notion of requiring a key made the detective chuckle, his chest reverberating a noise that he’d had no cause to make when parted from his best friend. “It has been a while since I’ve needed to force my way through your door; I’ll appreciate a challenge.” Sherlock smiled, unperturbed at the venture of an alarm system. He imagined it would be a code system, a four digit number that, knowing Victor, was semantic. His birthday, year of graduation, death of family; a milestone in his life which would be significant. It wouldn’t be difficult.
"I’ll have to make another spare, I imagine. Can’t be breaking in every time I return." He could see Victor out of the corner of his eye, could judge his expression though knew he’d miss the micro-expressions of a lie. "I was being serious when I suggested I stayed with you. I’d like to keep an eye on you, at least until you’re somewhat more stable on your feet. I’d rather you didn’t protest too much; I don’t intend to change my mind." Another twitch of his lips. "I’ll put my back out to aid in your on-going rehabilitation."
Victor had just parted his lips to begin to answer when Sherlock’s attention visibly wavered, and he followed it to the doorway, the angle a bit too awkward for him to make her out until she finally spoke. Of course. The nurse. He must have been so absorbed in Sherlock’s…everything, he’d failed to hear the sound of her shoes when she approached and then stopped at the door. That was surprising, given how honed his observational skills had become during his own ordeal towards the signs of any incoming intruder.
This man really did fog him up terribly. Victor’s hand subconsciously drifted to his right side where he felt a little hollow, a little too light, a little empty. To make up for it he leaned back against his pillows properly, but even then it wasn’t quite the same, and he couldn’t help but shoot a glance over to the other man before focusing on his nurse again.
As usual, Victor handled her orderly clucking with polite ease, answering every question concisely but honestly. The benefits of his experience as a multitasking businessman meant he was able to lift his focus from Sherlock and transfer it to the nurse without giving in to the temptation to look at him again, to see what he meant by difficult to force away.
When Jen - an amiable young woman who didn’t interfere too much and was gifted with stores of patience, and out of his three nurses Victor did prefer her if he had to pick - looked at Sherlock, Victor waited for an answer, only to see that the dark-haired man was waiting for his instead. He looked forward for a moment and searched the air as if it would yield an answer that would be appropriate, and he wondered absently how this looked to Jen, who must be under the impression that they were as Sherlock implied…together. So, then, why would Victor hesitate, she might wonder…
Why did he hesitate? He thought about how empty his side still felt, how strangely his body suddenly settled alone.
He opened the gates behind his teeth and said what he wanted to say without mincing his words, looking at Sherlock instead of her as well. “If you want to, then I’d like the company. Although I should warn you, I’ll be terribly uninteresting after taking medication and will probably sleep,” he cautioned with a lift of his lip, smiling more when Jen smothered a chuckle.
Sherlock seemed to debate for a moment over the choices given to him. Jen didn’t press him for an answer, and instead she decided to fill a thoughtful space with inane chatter.
“It’s so lovely to see two young men happy together. Especially with all this discriminating nonsense that’s going on.” As the rest of the staff, she presumed their private discussions and relaxed demeanours were in fact intimacies that only couples could share. Sherlock didn’t correct her, unperturbed by the assumption and its connotations. He instead smiled, slipping into another character as easily as he slipped into shoes.
"If you’d seen us recently you wouldn’t have thought us happy. We’ve had a bit of a rough patch." And just like that their secret was tossed into the open like a piece of discarded litter. Of course, he did it simply to create small talk and be amicable. Jen fussed expectantly.
"Oh no, that’s terrible! I’m glad you guys worked it out. You can stay as long as you like here." And suddenly her attention was gone from Victor, her job completed and her attention now on Sherlock. Or rather, she spoke to him and looked between them with shy, secretive smiles.
“He’s not had many visitors. We’ll make an exception for you guys this time, but don’t get used to it.” A bright smile and a promise to be back in an hour or two, and Jenny sauntered out feeling like she was part of a secret affair.
Sherlock’s smile waned and he was back beside Victor, nudging him over to take a smaller perch on the bed.
“I’ll stay until you fall asleep. I’ll be back with your effects then tomorrow.” He informed his companion, as if his actions did not speak loudly enough for him.
“I hope you forgive the minor lie, however it makes matters easier to let them believe what they wish rather than try to explain.” Sherlock shuffled for a while, wriggling to attempt to get more comfortable.
“Are you in much pain?”
What a brief summary. Sherlock used a mere fifteen words to wrap up the past year with a thin hasty black bow and it made Victor want to laugh and double over all at once.
But he was right, wasn’t he? That was really all that happened. Sure, there were a few deviances here and there, but in the end, that was the core of it, the journey that had brought them from what was point A here, to point B. Yes, Victor knew what happened already, but now he felt that it had all become real, and not the strange half-faded dream it sometimes seemed more like.
As Sherlock fell silent Victor’s eyes found the detective’s hands, noticing idly that he seemed to have picked up Victor’s habit of tapping and twiddling, something he didn’t do when they first re-met. Or so he assumed; perhaps he simply hadn’t noticed. He didn’t know what Sherlock was tapping along to but he could make out the rhythm if not the melody, see the black strikes against lined paper, until it all suddenly stopped and the music shattered.
Victor turned too, bracing one hand against the mattress to shift so he properly faced Sherlock, sitting slightly sideways. He wanted to protest and say he had wronged him, but was that what he really wanted - for Sherlock to walk away, to shun him? So why bring it up at all? He licked his too-dry lips again that never seemed to feel hydrated.
"Do I want to hold onto the past until my hands tear open?" he restated in a breath, studying Sherlock’s features closely now that he could, how much they had changed. “And lose my closest friend in the process? I think not." He picked up the smile where Sherlock’s started to wane and returned it, relief relaxing his shoulders, because in here it seemed nice and simple and easy to look into their present and their future. Stepping into it would be a different story, but…
for now he was content to again cover Sherlock’s hand, this time with both of his own, and squeeze gently before letting go.
"I’m willing to let bygones be gone, or whatever it is that they do, with you."
There was suddenly those green eyes, those eyes flecked with gold and brown, those eyes that held a thousand worries and a hundred fears, those eyes that drew his own and captivated his attention. You could read a man through his eyes alone, and in a heartbeat he could see everything that Victor struggled with, no longer able to maintain such a cool and detached facade. It dropped a seed of guilt in his stomach where it made its home, blooming into something that, left unchecked, would grow destructive. He’d thought long ago that if he abandoned his companion that they would be safer; Victor wouldn’t see Sherlock with pity and hurt, and Sherlock was spared those glances. He did not need to be reminded he was broken, an empty shell where bitter cleverness dwelt.
Sherlock let his eyes drop away, breaking the spell that Victor had created, a moment that to an outsider would appear to contain an intimacy that came with only truly knowing another person.
“You lost me once, Victor, through no fault of your own. Given the way you invaded my life initially, I believe it would be difficult for you to force me away from you personally.” He paused for a moment, inclining his head to the left as his eyes fixed on a point ahead of him, far off from the end of their bed. “Unless you wanted me gone, in which case you need only tell me.” He blinked and turned his attention to the nurse who had lingered for too long outside in the hall.
She’d appeared a few times at their doorway, but the pair were too engrossed and intimate for her to wish to interrupt. She only did now because needs must, and Victor was overdue medication that could not wait forever.
The nurse knocked twice on their open door - a distraction, not a necessity - and stepped inside nervously. “Hey guys, sorry to interrupt…” She twittered almost nervously. Sherlock simply smiled and withdrew himself from the bed. The way that she came in, purposeful and professional, told him that perhaps their time together was up. Definitely, their time sharing a bed, was up.
When he rose and stood aside, out of her way, he could feel a significant chill on his left hand side, an uncomfortable thought that part of him was alien. Instead of pursuing that thought process, he watched as the nurse - Jennifer, as her nametag said. Jenny, as her body said - fiddled around his friend, and asked him the typical questions (“How’re you feeling? How’s the pain? Getting any better with your exercises? Do you need anything?”) and carried out her small tasks.
Small talk bored him, and Sherlock instead drew his phone and tapped out a few quick messages - sent to himself as memos - before she turned to him.
"Are you planning on staying the night? We can sort something out, if you would like…" Sherlock looked alarmed at the sudden question, not expecting to be a part of this. Immediately, his eyes slid to Victor, as if asking for his permission or even what the other wished.
When Sherlock came to his air, John wasn’t quite ready to accept it. Touch to his skin felt like needles, he was like a frayed end, overly exposed and incredibly sensitive in all the worst ways. He let the support carry him to a seat where he dropped quite heavily in place. Oh it felt much better to be off his feet.
"Paranoia… ah…ah… lack of confidence in this being… reality. Nothing seems quite right. Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch," he explained, though his tongue still felt like parchment, “water, Sherlock… water.”
He gestured feebly, and then slumped forward, holding his head in his hands. He didn’t like this one bit.
"Muscle weakness, headache, slight nausea still… f..fuck," he laughed and cried a bit at the same time, feeling altogether hysterical, “I thought I might be dead. This… might be my punishment. Eternally stuck with you in this flat."
Rude, John, very rude, his mind supplied. Then again, Sherlock wasn’t exactly the polite sort himself.
He listened to John begin to list out his maladies, pleased that his ‘patient’ was medical himself. The useless drivel that someone might doll out was filtered providing those details that were most significant, even provided in the order John thought about them.
In the cupboard over the hob he found empty glasses, stacked neatly bottom up (to prevent dust gathering in the bottom if they went unused for an extended period of time) which he filled from a bottle left in the fridge. Immediately the glass condensed at the sudden temperature change, and to prevent wetting his own hands, Sherlock held the glass by the top in vice like fingers and placed it on the table before his unwilling companion.
"I can see why many people would consider that a punishment." He responded, uncharacteristically amused by the blunt rudeness he was shown. It was no secret to anybody, let alone himself, that he was unpleasant company. To be told as much by a man like John Watson, well it just tickled Sherlock.
Under the sink, Sherlock located a larger than average medical box. Larger than average was an understatement really. It was easily a foot in length each way, and stood half a foot tall. Inside it was a selection that looked almost of hospital issue; just another example of his light fingered tendencies. Lifting bandages, gauze and other packing items aside, he located boxes upon boxes of medication ranging from the standard Paracetamol and Ibruprofen to strong pain medication such as codine and tramadol. He didn’t look to the pain medication however and instead popped a small white bottle of Asprin; better than paracetamol but not exactly a serious drug. He passed tow over to John, setting them before him on the table.
“However I’m all that is between you and prison. Remember that before your tongue runs loose again.” And suddenly that humour was gone, replaced by a gentle threat.
John was in a haze. The occasional jab of pain kept him from falling completely unconscious, but he felt utterly ill. The idea of sleeping was a scary one. He thought for a moment, if he slipped under again, he might never come out of it. The blur of moments were filled mostly with incoherent attempts at asking Sherlock how far it was, but instead all that came out was a struggling attempt at speech. A noise that was less than intelligible. Figuring out quickly that he wasn’t getting any points across he gave up.
Stairs— When had they gotten out of the cab? Well that was a disconcerting gap in time. His feet certainly didn’t want to cooperated on these steps but he made a brave attempt. Sherlock was supporting nearly all of his weight all the way to a bed. Sherlock’s bed, John’s mind supplied.
It hardly mattered. Laying down was such a relief that nearly the minute his body hit the bedding he was unconscious. He didn’t quite hear Sherlock speak but something in his mind registered it. Feel better… He certainly hoped so.
He slept for nearly two days. The after effects from the drug made it almost impossible to get out of bed, he was completely exhausted. It was like suffering the worse hangover of his life. When he did finally manage to make it out of bed the first thing he did was throw up again. He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind that he must have been severely dehydrated. It was night time, and he had no concept of how long he’d been out. It could have been a few hours or a few weeks, really. He splashed cold water on his face and looked himself in the mirror, then, not for the first time, wondered where Sherlock was. Somewhere in the flat, no doubt. He’d have to go find him.
His movements were sluggish as he stumbled out of the bathroom and toward the kitchen. He used the counters to support himself, still feeling quite weak, but at the very least, alive. His head throbbed with an ache that screamed for water. More water.
He also needed a shower, but more than anything he just wanted to confirm that he wasn’t in some sort of horrible purgatory and that Sherlock was around. He needed to speak to someone, if he could even remember how.
He came across Sherlock in the living room and sighed with relief, leaning against the doorway to keep himself upright.
“What day is it?”
The first few hours with John Watson laid in his bed involved continual checks; making sure he was still alive, quite simply. He checked for a pulse, made sure that the airway was clear, monitored temperature and when he had to, rolled John onto his side just in case he was to be sick again.
It was an interesting role reversal - the detective nursing a doctor - but not one that Sherlock gave much thought to. It would be counter-productive if John did happen to die after just faking his death.
In between his acts of nursing, Sherlock stole half hour cat naps, enough to rest but only just. Even for his body which was repeatedly pushed to the limits, there was an upper limit and he wasn’t far from reaching it.
He didn’t leave the flat, snacked on buttered toast as opposed to a genuine meal, drank water almost continuously and thought. There wasn’t an option to take up a more long-term project lest he lost himself in it and neglected the wayward doctor.
Time bled together and days just became a stretch of time, Sherlock merely existing in the confines of 221B, until John staggered through from the bedroom. The illusion of the ghost shattered, Sherlock coming to life as he strode from the living room to the kitchen, regarding the man at the far side. “It is Thursday.” He answered after a moment’s thought, having to piece together time for himself.
“And you are going to collapse.” Sherlock offered calmly, walking towards John slowly to offer a hand, a way to pitch forward where it wouldn’t be hard flooring to soften the blow. He could see the indignant and rebellious straightening of John’s spine and the wobbly step he tried to take. Even though it wasn’t asked for, Sherlock stepped forward and forcefully took the other man’s arm, leading him to the small table in the middle of his kitchen. “Tell me what you’re feeling. Everything; sensations, emotions, pain, all of it.”
You will find me on one of these four accounts.
The sensation of the other man’s long-fingered, nimble hands surrounding his had become so familiar over the past hour he hardly noticed when their grip tightened and became so close. It was as though Victor’s very hands wondered how they could have ever existed without this other pair, so similar and yet entirely different - warm where his were chilled, pale where his were tanned, and yet both scarred and calloused, both long and thin.
His hands twitched slightly under that pressure of holding someone else’s, and more, being held - allowing the connection again after so long without any at all. Being alone was much easier than people thought. There was less responsibility, less responsibility, less room for accidents like love.
Victor listened to Sherlock’s voice fade into memory, recreating what he must have endured years past to gain that flawless coordination and dexterity back. The reminded of the incident and its tie to him made the bottom of his stomach drop out again, and made him wonder why Sherlock was here after all this time of silence, when the businessman had truly believed he’d lost his closest friend to the gray London air.
It slipped out without his acquiescence - blame medication, blame comfort, blame tiredness, blame all that he wanted, he couldn’t explain why he didn’t contain these words as he softly squeezed Sherlock’s hand and looked back and up at him once more. He could see the shadow of a nurse nervously lingering by the door, not wanted to interrupt what she thought was an intimate moment, but he paid her little mind.
“Why are you here, Sherlock?” he asked quietly. Even Victor’s lowered voice couldn’t smooth out the roughness to the words, so he cleared his throat and tried again, tried to mold quickly at the question to make it fit into the gap between them.
“What I mean to ask is…what have you chosen to do about the past? Is this - forgiveness, or a temporary reprieve…” He shook his head and straightened, running his free hand through his hair while the one in Sherlock’s grip lay limp. “It’s only that the world has been moving awfully fast and things have gone quite topside and upside-down around us, so we best decide where we stand among all this human havoc.” Victor cracked a little smile, licked his lips and looked down for a moment and then back up. His free hand found his father’s ring on his bedstand, which he almost obsessively started to fiddle with.
While he’d not expected to find the question put to him by Victor, Sherlock didn’t have to think long for an answer.
“I am done being afraid.” He stated quite simply, a thin and humourless smile turning up the edges of his lips. It was true enough; he was done hiding. Nearly two years, there had been a monster in every shadow and a demon in his dreams. The Wolf wasn’t a hunter any more, he’d seen that when the old dog and he crossed paths. There was no longer a fear that the mercenary would chase any price on his head, and there was no fear to those who mattered.
“And what you’ve done is none of my business.” He said firmly, a voice that commanded police to step aside, a voice that followed behind the cleverest of criminals, a voice that offered no alternative. This was Sherlock Holmes, the man who ruled London and knew the streets better than most. An echo of his old self was cracking through the walls of defences he had created, the man from university who’d threatened to shoot Gloria after her ‘attack’ trying to break through the breach. The tamed and quiet individual who had been so reserved and cautious was retreating, already becoming a part of Sherlock’s past.
"There is nothing for me to forgive, Victor." And then, his authority slipped; softened back into a companion’s tone. "We both met the same man at completely opposite ends of the spectrum." He paused for just a moment, before his right shoulder lifted in his now typical lopsided shrug. "You became a drug user, I had my own demons, and then you got shot." Stating the facts were easy; this is what Sherlock did. But, he knew those weren’t the answers that Victor sought. As always, the older business man needed to know things Sherlock would rather remain unvoiced. However, he could see this time that such an escape was not possible this time, and so he was forced to turn that perceptive eye inwards and gaze upon himself.
For a moment, he sat in quiet contemplation. Pale fingers tapped against dark trousers, a soft rhythm which would be alien to anybody who had not chanced upon his compositions, filed so neatly away in contrast to other papers that adorned his flat.
When his fingers stilled, he blinked and sat with a certainty about him. “The past is the past, and it is behind us.” He murmured, turning to regard his companion. “Our lives are not intertwined, marginally. However you are not the one who hurt me, nor am I the one you slept with. You have not wronged me, Victor.” He smiled faintly. “And I am no longer hiding from what happened. I believe the phrase is ‘let bygones be bygones’.” His smile faltered. “Unless you do not wish for that. I would understand.”
Act drunk? John could do that, he certainly felt like he’d had about six too many. He leaned into Sherlock, stumbling now and then, managing to giggle like a lush when people looked their way, but he didn’t attempt to make a scene of course. That wouldn’t do. He was relieved when the cab pulled up and Sherlock deposited him into a seat. His legs felt like they were sacks of jello beneath him. He had met death and then come back, of course there were going to be side effects.
“Sh…Shhhh,” John put a finger to his lips, shushing Sherlock as he had a true fumble with his belt. He couldn’t quite get his fingers around it at first but he managed. Once he finally heard it click into place he slouched and let out a low, heavy sigh. He wanted to close his eyes, they felt so heavy, but at the same time, the idea of doing so terrified him. He didn’t want to see that blackness again. It was dark out now, John realized. He’d been out for a while, but he was awake now. Not-dead.
“My head…” John tried to articulately, lolling it toward Sherlock, a knit of confusion in his brow. It felt full of rocks and water. The short drag from Barts to a cab had taken way too much out of him.
“Sherlock, I don’t,” he mumbled, his eyes fluttering slightly as he fought against unconscious, “don’t let me fall ‘sleep.”
His lip twisted in distaste at the addled man’s head lulled closer to his shoulder. A quick and sharp strike directly into John’s thigh knocked the other man upright, prompting the taxi driver to complain about their manner. Sherlock apologised to their driver who levelled a warning of making them walk the rest of the way. After that, the backseat was subdued. AS requested, Sherlock kept John awake without striking him; resorting to nipping the soft flesh between them and forefinger, pinching a nerve to keep his mind alert.
They pulled up to Baker Street after what seemed an age. Sherlock got out first and hauled John out of the cab after paying their grumpy driver. With one of John’s arms slung over his shoulders, the taller detective all but dragged John into Baker Street, hauling him up the stairs to deposit him in his own bed. He couldn’t haul dead weight up another flight of stairs; already his shoulders were crying protest against an uncooperative lift.
Carefully, he unfastened John’s shoes and unfastened his coat. It was difficult to undress a man who could barely remember what an arm was, let alone how to use it, but Sherlock persevered and eventually left John fully clothes on the bedding.
"Go to sleep, Watson. You’ll feel better when you wake up." He promised in a low tone. Retreating from his own little sanctuary - already regretting putting the ex mercenary in his bed - Sherlock set up camp on the sofa. It wasn’t uncommon for him to sleep there as opposed to his own bed, however he refused to let his mind slow and shut down, instead forcing himself to keep a state of consciousness. Given what was working its way through John’s system, Sherlock wanted to monitor the older man, keep him well and make sure he was alright.
“You could make this so much easier, Sherlock, if you’d just behave half your age.”
"Spare me. What do you want?"
"Door is just behind you. Off you pop, Mycroft."
Sherlock’s touch drew him, once more, back to reality, which was rather curious, being that it usually did just the opposite; the very brush of his hand launched him into the skies where he got carried away by upwards drifts and jetties. He turned his head slightly and his forehead pressed against the side of Sherlock’s sharp jaw where it jutted out under his skin, and he breathed in a little too shakily for his liking.
Victor listened to Sherlock without listening, some strange part of him clenching at the thought of someone taking his safety stash, his life raft in a too-vast sea where he could no longer see in any direction. Can’t they just take his word that he won’t use and let him have it there just in case this goes wrong - doesn’t he know what’s best for himself, more than the cold clinical doctors and the meddlesome therapists?
Surprised at his own thoughts he clutched his forehead and then tried to pass it off by brushing his hair back from his temples. Astute as ever, Sherlock brought up accurate points. Why did he inject where people would notice when he had a job that would bring him into contact with people the most? The answer rose immediately. He began to want someone to notice. Maybe he always had. Victor’s hand darted down and gripped at Sherlock’s hand where it rested against his side because he knew that Sherlock really did understand, know what was behind Victor, and what lay ahead. At the same time, some stubborn, fiercely independent part of him wanted to assure Sherlock it was fine.
This was just a tickle compared to what he’d been through so far, after all, and what he’d caused.
“Fine,” he murmured with a little nod. “We can talk about this when I get out. It won’t be too long now, just some paperwork and therapy I have to clear prior to…” Victor chuckled breathily and coughed consequently, patting the back of Sherlock’s hand. Outside, the halls had grown quiet. Sherlock truly was the last visitor present, now. Realizing their door was open Victor wondered if people had been glancing in at him the whole time, this apparent ragtag couple.
“Goodness, when did you become responsible, hm?” he half-teased, half-truly wondered. This man behind him, his voice deep and assuring and his shoulder strong to lean on despite its own scarred damage, wasn’t the lanky, irresponsible, selfish university student Victor once knew, who left him to fend for himself in times of need.
From within his throat came the muted sound of a chuckle, head tipping back once more towards the ceiling as his eyes closed along with it. There was a chill in Victor’s hand that was only too alien to him, a strange reversal really. He found his own hand moving to surround Victor’s, trying to trap those long and thing fingers beneath his own as if he could pass what meagre heat his skin retained into his friend’s.
“Responsibility grows on a man when he needs it, it would seem.” His voice was quiet, a low thrumming murmur that was out of place in the quiet serenity of the hospital. “Although when you have experience, prior knowledge can seem the same.” Sherlock lifted his free hand to rub his exposed throat, almost like he was trying to rid himself of an itch or sooth an internal irritation.
"But recovery is your primary concern now. You’ll enjoy physio therapy. They treat you like a child." He chuckled again towards the ceiling, feeling a gentle lethargy settling over his frame as gently as a blanket forming around every limb. "Put your arm out like this, yes very good. And now can you flex your fingers? Oh you’re doing so well." He spoke an echo of his own therapy, though he adopted a noticeably higher, female tone.
“And the exercises…” Sherlock’s head fell forward again, eyes open; bright and alert. “The leaflet they give you to do at home. An elastic bungee for muscle toning which makes a terrific cord for projectiles… oh the list is endless.” He shook his head, half turning to regard his friend.
“I can imagine it will be interesting climbing all those stairs on crutches.”
“Civilian.” The tone of James’ voice made it clear that he didn’t believe that in the slightest. Especially not when he knew the involvement the man’s brother had with the government. The Holmes family had somewhat of a reputation, and there was no doubt in James’ mind that Sherlock would keep civilian would the opportunity arise to do just the opposite.
“You can, of course, continue to mock me, but it won’t make me leave any sooner. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it might keep me in your presence longer. I will ask you once more, do you have any information that we could use? Any at all?”
For a moment, it was like Sherlock was contemplating giving a straight answer. He let his eyes wander off towards the right, lifting skyward almost like he were drifting through his memories. What information did he have on Moriarty? Enough to keep himself interested. Moriarty was a person, a man of the underworld. He sat in a seat of power but his throne was hidden in a lost kingdom that Sherlock intended to find. He wasn’t about to give this game over to the government. That would be almost like playing into his brother’s hands, even if it were not the elder Holmes which sent this stoic agent to his door.
"I’m sorry, however I do not have anything that MI6 can use." Not an exact lie; what he had he could use.
"I do not know who it was who sent you on this wild goose chase, but I’m afraid it has indeed been a waste of time." It took effort not to let his lips curl into a childish or petulant smile. "I’m useless to you."