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the island of conclusions

"I get by with...." (Sherlock BBC fic--gen)

the island of conclusions

bright star

"I get by with...." (Sherlock BBC fic--gen)

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bright star
Title: “I get by with…”
Rating/genre: pg, gen h/c.
Warnings: only for puking, and the wanton bestowal of back story upon Lestrade.
Word count: ~2.2K
Disclaimer: not mine, no profit.

Summary: John is ill. Sherlock is perplexed. And Lestrade is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

a/n: title from Lennon and McCartney. A tiny quote from 1.02, because I couldn’t help it.
a/n: for an awesome and irresistible prompt from anniehow


I get by with...

Lestrade called in at Baker St. on his way to work. They had wrapped up another case successfully the night before, but getting Sherlock in to do—whatever it was he did that always yielded results—and to get John in with him—had required some fancy footwork at the time and some strategic reinterpretation of events after. So he thought he’d just stop by and make sure everyone had their story straight.

Sherlock opened the door as abruptly as ever, and regarded Lestrade with his habitual look of distaste for the lower forms of life. But they had known each other a long time by now, and Lestrade just ignored him.

“Right,” Lestrade said, “there're few things we need to go over about last night—“

“Ah, ” Sherlock opened the door, and let Lestrade follow him up the stairs. The detective seemed distracted, Lestrade thought, still in his shirt sleeves, hair disheveled, as if he’d been dragging his hands through it all night. There might be any number of causes for his condition, Lestrade reminded himself, most of which it would be better not to know.

The flat was as much of a tip as usual, and Lestrade had to push a pile of papers off one of the straight-backed chairs before he could sit down.

Sherlock remained standing, abstractedly thumbing through a pile of small, mysterious objects. A cup of tea wouldn’t hurt, Lestrade thought, but he’d learned not to expect it. He launched into the list of things that needed sorting out, but after a minute he noticed something else odd.

“Where’s John?” he asked, “already at work?”

“No.” A look crossed Sherlock’s face that Lestrade couldn’t identify, “he’s, er, indisposed.”

Lestrade had no idea what the detective meant by that old-fashioned term. Was John asleep? Hungover? With a girl?

But just then he heard the rapid stumble of feet on the stairs, and the loo door slamming shut.

“Is he ill, then?” Sherlock nodded and Lestrade grimaced sympathetically, remembering that John had seemed tired the night before, even more diffident than usual. “Poor bloke. Now, about that false name you gave the finance minster—I think I can—

But the detective seemed to want to stay on the subject of Watson. “He’s been up all night,” he said, “vomiting. He keeps telling me to go away, that he’s fine. But I’m not sure he is—“ An odd, worried furrow appeared between his eyes, “I don’t suppose you could--?”

Lestrade heroically suppressed a smile. Whatever there was between the two men—and he had no particularly desire to know the details—it was a source of endless amusement to see the pathologically solitary Holmes with a near-constant companion. A companion who company he actually seemed to enjoy. A companion, it now appeared, for whose well-being he was concerned.

“Sherlock,” Lestrade said solemnly, “are you asking for my help and advice?”

“You heard me perfectly,” Sherlock scowled, “I’m not saying it again.”

The unmistakable sounds of someone being violently and miserably sick filtered into the room, and Lestrade decided checking up on John might not be such a bad idea after all.

“Where’s Mrs. Hudson?” he asked, hoping there might be someone with at least a toehold on reality present in the building.

“In Cornwall for the week,” said Sherlock, and that hope went belly up.

The loo door was resolutely closed, but Lestrade knocked politely anyway.

“John,” he called, “it’s Lestrade, Inspector Lestrade. We’re just seeing if you’re alright—“

“’m fine,” John’s hoarse, strained voice replied, “g’way.”

Lestrade considered it. The doctor probably was fine, if under the weather, and entitled to his privacy. But behind him, Sherlock was making impatient doorknob-twisting gestures with his hands. And then the sounds of vomiting started up again.

Steeling himself, Lestrade tried the door, which was thankfully unlocked. “We just want to make sure,” he murmured apologetically, and opened it.

A thick cloud of noxious odors greeted him. But Lestrade had been an active member of the Metropolitan Police Force for many years, and it took more than the general miasma of puke to put him off.

As he entered, John flushed the toilet, and sank back against the green and gray tile of the tub, knees drawn up, head wobbling a bit on his shoulders, breathing shakily. He looked miserable, and about ten years younger than usual—pale and clammy, almost green, dark shadows around his eyes. His hair clung damply to his forehead and his t-shirt was ringed with sweat around the collar and under the arms.

One of Lestrade’s younger brothers had a similar build and coloring, and looking at John, Lestrade had a vivid flashback of Danny’s first encounter—far too young—with the treacheries of lager.

Danny--Daniel--was married now, with two kids and a law practice up in Sheffield. But something about John's expression made his peaky fourteen-year-old face, filled with hurt bemusement at his body's betrayals come back to Lestrade more strongly than it had in years.

Still in the grip of that memory, he squatted in front of John, pushed some of the hair off his face, and pressed a palm to his forehead. It was surprisingly hot, under the film of moisture.

Sighing, Lestrade found the policeman again. “Alright, Dr. Watson,” he said, all business, “you’re feverish, and I hear you’ve been up all night trying to divest yourself of your stomach lining. You tell me. Are you really fine? Or do we need to bring you into A&E, like your flatmate seems to think?”

John twisted feebly away from Lestrade’s hand, “I’m really fine.”

From the doorway, though, Sherlock pounced on his words. “He has a fever?” he said, as if he'd just learned that some vital piece of evidence that had been deliberately kept from him, “How high is it?”

“I don’t know,” Lestrade frowned, “quite high I think. Do you have a thermometer?”

“Do we--? I don’t know. John, do we have a thermometer?”

“Kit,” John said, clearly finding anything more than single words too much of an effort, “Floor. Next to my dresser.”

“I’ll go get it.” And Sherlock was off, clearly glad of the chance to collect empirical data on John's condition.

The doctor, meanwhile, was puking again. Lestrade located a semi-clean flannel, wet it in the sink, and when the current round was done, handed it to the doctor, who wiped his mouth with it, and draped it gratefully around the back of his neck.

“Look,” Lestrade said, because he couldn’t stand the sight of John shivering on the probably filthy bathroom floor, “let’s get you upstairs at least. You’ll be more comfortable lying down.”

John nodded, but didn’t make a move to get himself up. Feeling that weird wash of memory again, Lestrade crouched beside him. “Here we go, boyo,” he said, “easy now,” and he tugged John upright, slinging one of his arms across his shoulders.

They re-encountered Sherlock at the bottom of the stairs.

“So we’re going to the hospital after all.” the detective stated, ready for the worst.

“No, Sherlock, no," Lestrade waved him out of the way, "Just upstairs. Bring the bin, would you?”

“The bin?”

“So the poor man doesn’t have drag himself downstairs every time he wants to throw up. Honestly.”

“Oh, right,” Sherlock said, “the bin.”

+++++

Lestrade wasn’t surprised to see that John’s bedroom, in contrast to the rest of the flat, was sparsely decorated and army-regulation neat, aside from the mess of bedclothes left from a restless night. He settled the doctor on the bed, set Sherlock rifling through John’s drawers in search of a dry shirt, and took the thermometer, a professional-looking tympanic one, from him.

Lestrade felt a little stab of worry when he got a reading, and he showed the number to John. “That’s genuinely high, doctor,” he said, “are you sure you’re not about to rupture your appendix or something?”

John shook his head wearily, without bothering to lift it from the pillow. “The symptoms are wrong,” he said, “most likely just a flu. The temp’s probably mostly due to dehydration at this point, anyway.”

Watson was quite a stoical sick person, Lestrade noted, imagining all the pissing and moaning most of his squad would be doing at this point, that he'd be doing himself. Maybe being shot in the line of duty did that to a man. Maybe it was living with Sherlock.

“Sherlock,” he said to the detective, who was shifting nervously from foot to foot behind him. “Do you have any Schweppes, or Lucozade downstairs?”

"Lucozade?” Sherlock looked blank.

“Or some other sports drink." But he had clearly lost the detective on the word sports. He tried again, “the carbonation, the sugar, they sometimes help.”

Sherlock squinted at him, and then comprehension dawned. “To replace electrolytes.”

“Yes, yes, electrolytes. Do you have any?”

“No.”

Lestrade was starting to lose patience. “Well, maybe you could pop out and get some then?’ he suggested, keeping his voice even with an effort.

“Certainly.” Sherlock was as decisive and solemn as if he’d just undertaken a mission for the Crown.

“And get some crackers and bouillon while you’re at it, will you? Lestrade called after him when he was halfway down the stairs.

++++++

John smiled wanly when Lestrade came back. “Was that the modern equivalent of sending him off to boil water and roll bandages, then?” he asked.

“Just about,” Lestrade grinned back, “He’s marvelous in a crisis, Sherlock, but there’s not much of a middle ground with him—everything’s either an emergency—“

“Or it’s boring.” John finished the thought. And Lestrade would have scoffed at the fondness in his face, if he hadn’t been almost sure he was wearing a similar expression himself.

“If I got you some paracetamol,” he asked, breaking the moment, “do you think you could keep it down?”

“God, I hope so,” John answered, “I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck and left to die.”

Lestrade squeezed his shoulder sympathetically, located the painkillers in the well-stocked doctor’s kit, and went downstairs to fetch a glass of water.

It took him a while to find something that wasn’t a beaker, or that didn’t look like it had been recently used for less than salubrious ends. In the end, he had to settle for a mug.

He headed upstairs again, but on second thought went back to the kitchen, located a reasonably clean bowl, filled that with water too, retrieved the damp flannel from the bathroom, and brought it all back to John’s room.

++++++

John seemed to be clinging to wakefulness by a slim thread by the time Lestrade returned, but he roused enough to take the pills, and have a few sips of the water before sinking back and closing his eyes.

Propelled by half-forgotten habits, Lestrade wrung out the cloth and passed it over John’s face and neck, trying to remove the worst residue of illness.

He’d thought the doctor asleep, but under the touch he made a small sound of pleasure.

“You’re good,” he murmured, sounding a little woozy with fever and exhaustion, “with the middle ground, I mean. I’ve known a few army nurses could’ve learned a thing or two from from you. Why’s that?”

Lestrade snorted, pressing the cool flannel to one of John’s wrists. “Well, I’m the oldest of five—that’s explanation enough, isn’t it? All boys. My dad did a runner when the youngest was four, and my mum worked nights.” He bathed the other wrist. “So there’s really no variety of spewing I haven’t seen—between that and nursing a hundred new recruits through their first murder scene.”

John’s lips quirked up, and he said, without opening his eyes, “you and me both—nothing like an army base for puking.”

“Get some sleep, Dr. Watson,” Lestrade said, “you’ve earned it.” But John was already out.

++++++

Lestrade was back in the disastrous kitchen, trying, against his better judgment, to make a cup of tea, when Sherlock returned, breathless, from the shops.

The detective dumped three shopping bags on the table and regarded Lestrade triumphantly as he unpacked four varieties of sports drink and five kinds of soda.

Lestrade rolled his eyes. “Yes, well done, Sherlock. I’m sure one of these will do the trick.” He dried his hands on a dishtowel. “I have to be off now—I’m dead late already.”

Sherlock looked at him, as alarmed as Lestrade had ever seen him. “But—“ he stammered, “John—is he--?”

“I think he’s fine,” Lestrade reassured him, “Sleeping—hopefully he’s through the worst of it.”

“But—“ Sherlock opened his mouth and closed it again, clearly still wanting advice, but not willing to ask again.

Lestrade raised his eyebrows, daring the detective to say more, to articulate his concern--but he couldn't sustain it. It wouldn't do John any good to leave him with a floundering Sherlock. “Just let him rest," he said, "and make sure to get some fluids in him. And if his temperature doesn’t go down, call the surgery. Just,” and, oh god, was he going to regret this later, “just text me if you need anything.”

Sherlock nodded so earnestly that Lestrade couldn’t help twisting the knife a little.

“And I’m sure he’d appreciate it if you cleaned the loo a bit, tried to get rid of that smell.”

Sherlock visibly steeled himself to rise to the occasion.

++++++

The thought of the great detective on his knees with a toilet brush sustained Lestrade for the rest of the day. And if he felt a twinge of sympathy for Dr. Watson, suffering what would surely be the ruthless and implacable mother-henning of Sherlock Holmes, who did nothing by halves, he kept it to himself.

fin

um, if anyone's interested, I'm offering fic at the help_pakistan auction: here
  • This is a wonderful combination of HEEEEE and AWWWWWW. I love Lestrade looking at John like one of his younger brothers and Sherlock--all clueless and serious. I suspect poor John's going to get those fluids in him whether he wants to or not.
    • oh, I expect he is--by means of some ingenious method no less!

      I'm thrilled you enjoyed it--thanks so much for reading!
  • OMG PERFECTION!

    Nnngh, loved the idea of Lestrade having to grow up too quickly and being the elder brother, and the little details of the similar experiences of the policeman and the soldier, and the Lestrade-Watson bonding!

    And Sherlock, who does nothing by halves!

    THANK YOU. Must re-read now.
  • (no subject) - ex_calamity172
    • mind like a steel trap, that Sherlock! *g*

      glad you enjoyed it, bb--this one I didn't overthink--quite the opposite--I guess it shows--
  • Aww! I'm in love! Lestrade was brilliant here, and everything was perfectly in-character.

    *mems*
    • Yay--I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It was surprisingly fun to write Lestrade--

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • (no subject) - madly_love
  • LOL! Loved it.
  • (no subject) - crocodile_eat_u
    • hee! thanks for the lovely feedback--and yes, one should always marry a man who knows how to deal with puking! I'm so glad you enjoyed the fic!
  • n'awwwww. that was just lovely & fun.
    i heart this so much <3
  • Fantastic! Nothing like a nice bit of hurt/comfort between friends; the hilarity of Sherlock's anxious cluelessness was a bonus :)
    • hurt/comfort between friends is my favorite thing--glad you enjoyed it! thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  • I'm totally going to quote the previous poster and say this really is a perfect combination of HEE! and AWW! Damn, that was sweet. Lestrade's POV just made it so much better, too.
    • I'm so glad you enjoyed it--thanks for reading and commenting! The Lestrade POV was surprisingly fun to write--
  • GIANT GRIN. ON MY FACE. THANK YOU FOR PUTTING IT THERE.
  • I'm thirding the comment that this is a fantastic combination of HEEEE! and AWWW! This is hurt/comfort at its best, with Sherlock being adorably hopeless and Lestrade and his backstory being brilliant.
    • thank you--that's the tone I wanted to strike, so I'm glad it worked--and the backstory! Thanks so much for reading--I'm glad you enjoyed it!
  • Aww~
    It's wonderful!
    Sherlock's adorable.
    Lestrade was awesome, helping them both.
  • I love this! It's wonderful! You nailed it's perfectly! I love the end best of all:D
  • That was lovely! I love the backstory with Lestrade. The only thing is that there are certain 'Americanisms' e.g. soda, gatorade (we have it, just about, it's just not that common, try Lucozade!)and the idea of crackers and soup (we just have bread in the UK!). It is a great story, and I could definitely imagine Sherlock reacting like this!
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