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the island of conclusions

A Graceful Retreat (Sherlock RPF fic--GEN)

the island of conclusions

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A Graceful Retreat (Sherlock RPF fic--GEN)

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okay, folks, I seriously thought about setting up a separate journal for this one. Not because it's kinky (it's gen!), and not because I don't read RPF or haven't posted any here (I do and have). But just because J2 is such an established thing and there's hardly any Cumber!fic out there (yet!) and that makes it scary...But, well, here you go anyway!

Title: A Graceful Retreat
Rating: PG (some language)
Characters: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman
Genre: h/c
Warnings: n/a
Word Count: ~1,700
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit. This is a purely fictional version of names and events that are part of the public record. Absolutely no claim that things unfolded or people behaved in this manner!

Summary: BC's pneumonia during the making of Sherlock is a matter of public record. This is one take on how things might have gone.

a/n: originally posted at the sherlockrpf request post. There are some great fills over there, but you'll need to join the com to read them.


A Graceful Retreat

He could feel them staring at him—the little gaggle of PAs and grips huddled around the equipment—feel them casting surreptitious glances sideways, too self-conscious and unsure of themselves to intervene—especially not after he'd sent them off so rudely just a few minutes ago. Their eyes made his skin crawl with embarrassment and the first stirring of despair.

He dug his fingers into the back of the chair, willed his legs not to feel like rubber, and tried once again to get a lungful of air. Of course, the effort set him coughing. This was bad, he acknowledged, truly bad : his legs were beginning to shake, and his suddenly clammy hands slid a little on the chair, tiny dark spots swimming dangerously at the edges of his vision.

When the spots dissipated a bit and the coughing backed off, he found one of the PAs, a mousy girl no more than a year out of university, watching him solemnly. She had obviously drawn the short straw when they decided confrontation was necessary.

"Benedict," she used his first name as if it were an honorific, "Perhaps we should ring Mr. Gatiss, erm, let him know that you're under the weather…."

He knew she meant well—Nina? Was that her name? or Nanette?—but something about her tentative concern was enraging, seemed to compound the indignity of the situation a thousand fold. They were supposed to be setting up shots, rehearsing before the director arrived, but instead things had ground to a standstill for the endless minutes that he'd been trying to get himself together enough to let go of the fucking chair.

Powered by frustration, Benedict summoned the energy to face her down. Luckily, she wasn't very tall, and he was able to loom over her in a satisfying way. He summoned his best dismissive glare—one he'd painstakingly copied from the most contemptuous Head Boy he'd known at Harrow and that had stood him in good stead ever since.

"Thank you, Ni—Nanette, but that won't be necessary," he said, as icily as his ravaged voice would allow, "I'll be alright in a minute."
But stringing so many words together triggered another round of punishing coughs, had him squeezing his eyes shut against the pain in his chest. He heard, rather than saw, Nanette retreating.

++++++

The spots were back, banding together now into larger patches of darkness, and Benedict was seriously starting to wonder how he was going to extricate himself from the situation without face-planting on the rain-wet pavement when he heard more footsteps approaching—steps heavier, quicker and much more confident than Nanette's.

Shit, he thought, they've called in reinforcements.

He opened his eyes to Martin's slightly irritated face.

"So," Martin said, taking in Benedict's sorry state, "I hear you're trying to spontaneously donate a lung to the good people of Wales."

"Fuck you, Freeman," Benedict said. Okay, kind of gasped, but he trusted the sentiment was clear.

"Seriously, Benedict, you look like shit. That lot over there is about to call an ambulance."

"Don't need an ambulance." And fuck if it wasn't more of a gasp than ever, "just give me a minute." He tried the Head Boy look on Martin, but his powers must have been fading, because all he got was a slightly pitying headshake for his efforts.

Martin, he remembered incongruously, was the youngest of five, had been fatherless most of his life; when you grow up like that, it took more than half-assed public school high-handedness to overawe you. Benedict had tried the looming thing on him a few times when they'd first met, but Martin had clearly made his peace long ago with looking up at a significant portion of the world, and regarded him with nothing more than slight amusement that Benedict had gone to the trouble of trying to intimidate him.

It had been a good thing, really—moved them past all that nonsensical posturing to the more serious business of being good mates.

And so, truth be told, Benedict was the tiniest bit relieved that Martin had shown up, that he seem prepared to take charge of the situation.

"Yeah, well apparently you've been saying 'give me a minute' for the past thirty minutes. People are starting to think you might be having them on." Martin sighed and crossed his arms. "Tell you what," he said, "you come back to my trailer for a bit—off your feet and out of this damp—and I'll get them to hold off on calling the powers that be for a little while."

Benedict's gut twisted—physical misery compounded with the mortification of his astonishingly bad judgment in getting out of bed this morning catching up with him—but it seemed as good an offer for a graceful exit as he was going to get. He nodded

He must have phased out for a minute then, because it seemed like Martin was back before he'd even left, gesturing for Benedict to follow him. Of course the crew had agreed—they were beyond charmed by Martin—and probably pleased as punch to pass the problem of Benedict's imminent collapse off to someone else.

"Need a hand?" Martin asked quietly.

Benedict shook his head—damned if Sherlock was going to go out leaning on his Watson. He unlocked his fingers, one by one, from the back of the chair, while Martin waited patiently, and forced himself to put one shaky foot in front of the other. The blood rushed in his ears, and the returning spots tunneled his vision, but he could feel Martin's hand, light but firm on the small of his back, guiding him in the right direction.

And so Benedict managed to make it across the lot and up the steps to Martin's trailer under his own power. Once there, however, he fell more than sat into the ratty brown sofa that took up much of the space and closed his eyes. It didn't seem much warmer inside than outside, and he pulled his coat—Sherlock's huge black one—closer around him, shivering.

"I'll get you some paracetamol," Martin said.

"No thanks. Think I'm over the legal limit already." Benedict didn't open his eyes, but he could easily imagine Martin's expressive, mobile face creasing with worry at the words.

All the other man said, though, was "Right. Well, just tea then."

He must have lost more time, because the next thing he knew, Martin had a hand on his knee, jiggling it a little.

"Tea, Benedict," he said, "I think you could use it."

"Mmmm." It felt like some kind of painfully sticky glue was keeping his eyelids shut, but Benedict pulled them apart, took the steaming mug in his cold hands—he was still freezing.

He must have looked it, too, because Martin took the blanket off the back of the sofa—a horribly Martin-esque mustard-colored knitted throw—and settled it over Benedict's shoulders.

For a while, it seemed as if that would do the trick, as if the extra warmth and the hot liquid would chase off the worst of the symptoms, let him regain some semblance of being a functioning human being.

A little pulse of gratitude coursed through Benedict. Of course, Martin had kids, had done his time in the trenches of petulance and irrationality. But it had been good of him to recognize that Benedict's stroppiness was a result of embarrassment and physical misery, was nothing personal. Still, Benedict thought, he should probably apologize for cursing at his co-star--

But when he opened his mouth to speak, his lungs rebelled. He could feel the cough building in his chest, thrashing around in there, trying to get out like the monster in Alien. And wasn't that just the image to set him sputtering and hacking again?

The fit was violent when it came, tossing him forward on the couch so that he had to clutch at it with his free hand so as not to pitch right off.

"Jesus." Martin grabbed the mug before it could spill.

And then Martin was next to him—one hand on the nape of his neck, the other rubbing hard lines between his shoulder blades.

"Christ, Ben, you're burning up," Martin's voice had taken on a kind of gentleness that in itself was kind of frightening, revealing the depth of his concern.

Not that Benedict could have answered to reassure him—he was too busy fighting for breath, drenched now in fever sweat. Martin kept up the soothing motions along his back, murmuring something Benedict couldn't quite make out—"easy now," perhaps, or just "breathe." He pushed a hand up into Benedict's tangled hair, rubbed his fingers against his aching skull.

And, just for a moment, Benedict imagined that his tone, his touch, slipped out of the register of matey-ness into—well, into something else. But he knew Martin loved Amanda very much, loved their kids. And Benedict, as Martin had pointed out, was very feverish. So he filed that idea way under the category of delirium, and went back to hacking up a lung.

Finally, after a good minute, maybe more, he was able to catch his breath. Martin widened his eyes at him, an expression that clearly conveyed what the fuck was that?, but didn't say anything, just piled up the sofa cushions at Benedict's back, eased him back onto them, and stood up.

And Benedict could do nothing but close his eyes again, exhausted.

When Martin came back, he was carrying a damp flannel and Benedict's phone, which he'd apparently liberated from his coat pocket while he was otherwise occupied.

Mercifully, he handed Benedict the flannel first. But after he'd wiped his face with it, pressed it against his aching eyes—Martin held out the phone.

"Ring your doctor, Benedict," he said, with that same devastating gentleness, "and I'll ring Mark."

But Benedict had one more ounce of fight in him, and he refused to be devastated. He weakly waved the proffered phone away, not trusting his voice.

"Ring your doctor, Benedict," Martin repeated, "or I'll get the number from Olivia and ring him myself."

That was it. That was defeat. Benedict reached for the phone.

Martin released it with a kind of sheepish shrug, as if he now felt apologetic for rescuing Benedict from the set debacle, for forcing him to get medical advice.

And that was so ridiculous, so misplaced, that Benedict felt another surge of warmth, of gratitude. When their hands met over the phone, he closed his fingers as hard he could over Martin's. Squeezed.

fin
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  • meeeeeeeeeep. I'd never read Sherlock RPF before but you tempt me with sickly men and I'm easy. ;) This is lovely, especially Ben's bleary POV and the way Martin is so patient and unruffled.
    • Seconded; all of it.
      • *g*

        RPF is so weird--I've never had the slightest desire to read or write Downey/Law--but these two...I guess you can chalk it up to the mysterious powers of the Cumberbatch--

        thanks for reading, bb!
    • well, there isn't much Sherlock RPF--though there may be a lot more soon ;)--and I'm not sure if I'll ever write any more--but you could see how I couldn't let that particular opening for fic pass by, right? *iz slightly ashamed of herself*

      Thanks so much for reading this weird venture, bb--I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  • (no subject) -
    • thank you, bb, that's an awesome compliment!

      and hee--it would have to be a prequel, because I think MF sprained (? no cast, though he did miss a day or two) his wrist on the third day of filming--slipped on some ice.

      not that I've thought about it or anything *g*

      Thanks for reading!
  • oh, this is so lovely. If it makes you feel any better, you aren't the only one writing Bendict/Martin
    • I'm so glad you enjoyed it--thanks for reading!

      And, yeah, I'm really happy more people have started writing the pairing--though it's still nothing like J2, which is my only basis for comparison....
  • OMG. I absolutely loved this. SO MUCH. I was hoping to read something like this and it was just perfection. Thank you so much. I love h/c stories and this was just what I was looking for. Thank you!
    • I'm so glad it hit the spot--and thanks for the lovely feedback--it was one of those things I just couldn't resist writing.
  • G'awwww! Loved sick Benedict!
    This was so sweet~! <3
    • Sick!Benedict is like catnip to me, embarrassingly enough. I'm so glad you enjoyed the fic--thanks for letting me know!
  • Unf, you are glorious. In all possible meanings of the word. <3
  • LOVE.

    (Anonymous)
    GAWDD this is cute. i have never been one for RPF, but this is quite lovely. it is really ridiculously embarrassing how much i am in love with Benedict (i have NEVER been the crazy starry-eyed type) but he is just too gorgeous and gracious and sweet in his interviews and fantastic on screen to resist.
    i am a total sucker for sickfics, and something about a real Ben&Martin being have to have this moment (and in all probability, something along these lines really happened!) is simply precious. THANKYOUTHANKYOU!!!! <3
    • Re: LOVE.

      Thank you for the lovely feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I don't write much RPF myself, but something about these two and this situation just grabbed me. Thanks for reading and commenting!
  • (no subject) -
    • I'm very glad you enjoyed it--thanks for letting me know! I feel the same way about RPF, but BC is my Achilles heel.
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