Shot in the Dark
He winced on moving, because all his muscles were tense. The Consulting Detective concluded that he wasn't lying in his bed. He was in a sitting position, so he still had to be in the armchair where he had been the night before and obviously had fallen asleep in. That explained the aches running the length of his entire body. He shifted slightly, still without opening his eyes, and couldn't avoid the groan that escaped his mouth. It sounded somewhat hollow since he was still wearing the breathing mask; however, he could not force his arm to move in the direction of his mouth and get rid of that plastic thing that was disturbing his oversensitive skin. How dull it was to be in need of extra-oxygen; and how ridiculous it was to almost die of a nosebleed!
In the last few weeks John had turned out to be his guardian angel, sort of, since he had been there just in time to save his life more than once. Sherlock had always thought he'd be able to look after himself, but he had been proven wrong lately.
"Morning", he heard John say quite cheerfully.
Sherlock couldn't share his flatmate's cheerfulness as the memories of the incidents of last night washed over him and he felt even more nauseous, hardly being able to suppress the urge to vomit. He felt as if he had been in a surreal dream, and in fact, remembering the details, he would rather it had been a nightmare instead of his own personal and miserable experience. He still didn't know any details, but the emotions that were accompanying his brother's revelations were hurting him, causing him pain, making him insecure, making him everything that he despised so much in other people and even more in himself: they were making him weak.
He had embraced the dullness that the intoxication had brought with it. It had come much faster than he had expected. Sherlock distantly remembered the things he had said to John. On the one hand he felt embarrassed, but on the other hand, John was his only true friend; and since John insisted on the fact that saying nice things was something he should practice anyway, he probably didn't have to worry about it too much.
Sherlock was lost in thought when again he heard John's voice.
"You ok, mate? I'm just asking, because I know what you look like when you're miserable, but today you look… shit. Sorry, but I can't think of any suitable euphemism right now."
Yes, John, thank you, Sherlock thought, so I look exactly how I feel.
However, what he was capable of saying when John removed the breathing aid from his face was a mere "Headache". And even that was more whimper than word. Upon saying that, Sherlock felt bile coming up his gullet and he swallowed hard.
"I have a bucket here, just in case. It's fine, Sherlock." John said in his particular doctor's voice.
Sherlock simply shook his head. He didn't want to throw up; he was entirely fed up with being sick, injured and vulnerable. On the one hand, he was, of course, grateful that John was at his side, being the only person in the world he really trusted after all, but on the other hand he loathed being dependent on anybody, even on his flatmate.
Until now Sherlock had sat in his armchair barely moving; however, he felt that he had to at least try to open his eyes. He needed to find out if he had to use the bucket after all. So he forced his eyelids open and was overwhelmed by the stinging pain in his eyes and head, although the room was only dimly lit, thanks to a considerate flatmate, apparently. He felt extremely sick for a short time, after which it got much better and Sherlock felt the relief of having won over his body this time. Regaining control - that was a good thing. Blinking his eyes a couple of times he tried to focus on John, which was more difficult than Sherlock had imagined.
John was standing by his side, the bucket still in position, and looking at him with a grin on his face. Sherlock knew exactly why he was so amused – he rarely drank any alcohol, let alone got drunk. In the back of his mind he wondered if he really remembered everything of the night before. And yet, there was something else in John's face, which didn't fit his amusement. He had bags under his eyes, so hadn't slept much or well, and his eyes weren't displaying the cheerfulness that he was performing. He looked worried.
He worries too much, Sherlock thought, stupid sentiment.
Anyway, he didn't want John to look at him this way. He wanted to get rid of all the thoughts and memories that were troubling him and also his flatmate. Most of all, he didn't want to be pitied.
He had to admit that he and John had forced Mycroft into telling them what he knew, but who would have expected such an outcome? Even he hadn't been able to foresee it, to deduce it. And still, there was this nagging little voice inside him, telling him that Mycroft should have told him before, should have given him the details so that everything that had happened wouldn't have if he had been able to recognize the errand boy who had delivered the poisoned petri-dish. So it was, more or less, Mycroft's fault. John would blame him for being unfair, but was there any other conclusion for him to draw?
He needed to know more, everything, to be precise; at least everything that Mycroft knew – and Sherlock was fairly sure that that was almost everything. However, deep inside, he was dreading knowing more. If the emotions alone were so strong, how would he react to graphic descriptions of the abduction that had brought him on the verge of dying? On the other hand, the descriptions would always stay descriptions as the memories belonging to them were deleted. So, logically, there couldn't be an emotional connection. And yet, there was; the definite proof given by his emotional state the night before.
Sherlock's mind was roiling. His reason told him he shouldn't pry this secret out of Mycroft, but his natural curiosity and pride told him that it was his basic right to know about such a major event in his early life. It was his life, after all.
John placed the bucket in Sherlock's lap and left for the kitchen, only to return with a glass of water and a white pill in his hand.
"Aspirin", he stated and held out the hand to Sherlock. "Take it and drink some sips of water. It'll get better then. But drink slowly; otherwise you'll definitely need that bucket." He pointed at Sherlock's lap. The Consulting Detective made a wry face but took the tablet and the water with shaking hands. John supported him when the glass was about to slip from the weak man's hand; and a prolonged blink of Sherlock's eyes, accompanied by inhaling deeply, showed his annoyance about his helplessness.
"You should lie down properly for a while, in your bed, that is. The armchair really isn't the best place for resting. So, up you get. Let me help you." John suggested, although it wasn't actually meant as a suggestion but an order, Sherlock sensed. He had to admit that, in fact, it was the best option right now. So he stood from the armchair and shakily went to his bed, having to pause twice on his way because of waves of nausea and the overwhelming weakness. For Sherlock it felt as if John was carrying most of his weight anyway. He fell heavily on his bed and felt himself drifting off to sleep the moment his head hit the pillow.
John covered Sherlock with a blanket, as he was currently lying on top of his duvet, and left the room. He would have a cup of tea and watch crap telly and… think.
Mycroft and Sherlock had been very agitated the night before, as had he. The fact that Sherlock, and incidentally also John, had been poisoned with Tabun, a nerve agent, for the revenge of a family who had lost a member in World War II due to gruesome experiments conducted by the Holmes' grandfather, had, quite naturally, led to Sherlock and John investigating on the reasons. Mycroft's behaviour during the incidents of the last weeks had been quite suspicious, so they had probed him until he had agreed to tell Sherlock what he was willing to give away. Surprisingly enough, it had turned out that, in fact, Mycroft was only protecting Sherlock in every possible way and that the danger they had sensed in him wasn't directed at themselves but at those who threatened the younger Holmes. Mycroft had promised that the family couldn't do them any further harm. He had ensured that, if ever again they set a foot on the British Isles, they wouldn't survive it. John knew that he and Sherlock were now under maximum surveillance by the older Holmes' agents, so they should be safe. And still, the simplicity of a nosebleed could be more of a threat than any criminal or avenging angel. Nobody could predict anything like that, but it had shaken John and Mycroft. There had been too many times lately that they had had to fear for Sherlock's life.
While being lost in thought, John had prepared a cup of Lady Grey for himself and sat down with the steaming mug, inhaling the scent of lemon that he liked so much. He was wondering how Sherlock would deal with what he had found out about himself. The fact that he had asked for alcohol the night before had, on the one hand, worried John a bit. However, on the other hand, he had only asked for a glass of Whiskey, not for any cigarettes or even drugs. Well, he wouldn't ask for the drugs anyway, but he didn't attempt to get any– probably due to his current health condition, probably because he wasn't in danger of relapsing. John didn't know, but he would watch Sherlock carefully. He knew that the Consulting Detective wouldn't approve of it, but the ex-army doctor wouldn't be able to avoid watching his friend closely anyway. That's what friends did.
John took a couple of sips of tea and had just closed his eyes to shut himself off from the rest of the world for just a second when he heard Sherlock scream. He jumped and spilt some of the still very hot tea over his hand and lap. Cursing, he put the mug down on the coffee table and hurried to his flatmate's bedroom. He didn't pay any attention to privacy and entered the room without knocking.
Sherlock was entangled in the blanket John had covered him with, fighting as if his life depended on it. His face was screwed up and covered in sweat; his eyes were closed, yet moving rapidly under his eyelids - he was having a nightmare. John knew this too well as he had been having nightmares almost every night after his return from Afghanistan. They had only stopped some time after he had moved in with Sherlock and his mind had simply been too occupied with what was happening to him when he was accompanying his flatmate on his chases for criminals. Only very rarely did he now have nightly recalls of the terrible incidents he had witnessed during the war.
John hesitated for a moment, slightly shocked by the sight of Sherlock. Seeing him injured, close to death had made John sensitive; seeing him suffering emotionally touched the ex-army man more than he would have imagined. He stepped over to Sherlock and shook his shoulders in order to wake him.
"Sherlock, wake up! You're having a bad dream, it's all fine. Wake up!"
The sleeping man flinched, suddenly opening his eyes wide and staring at John before he seemed to wake and recognize him. He moaned raggedly, his breath slowly evening out.
John talked to him soothingly. "It was just a nightmare, you're awake now, Sherlock, it was just a dream."
Sherlock shook his head violently, a disbelieving expression on his face. "It wasn't a real nightmare, John", he mumbled, "I didn't see anything. I only felt something!"
"I know exactly what you mean, believe me. You felt… sheer terror, right?"
Sherlock closed his eyes, inhaling and exhaling deeply. "Yes," he whispered. "I'm haunted by emotions – how ridiculous, John!"
"It's not at all that," the ex-army man replied quietly, remembering that there was nothing ridiculous about it, quite on the contrary. "Your emotional impressions are still quite fresh, so I guess dreams like that might go away after some time. If not, Sherlock, you have to talk to a therapist. "
The Consulting Detective snorted contemptuously.
"Therapists! Therapists always try to overcome emotions with other emotions, and if you had considered your suggestion properly, you would know that that doesn't work with me! I've had so many therapists in my life, all forced on me by my oh-so caring family, and not a single one had lasted longer than two sessions, because they were all so PREDICTABLE!"
Despite Sherlock's weakness, he had managed to talk himself into a rage.
John raised his hands defensively. "It was just a well-meant advice, Sherlock, no need to be offended."
"Then just leave me alone, John, will you!?" Sherlock fidgeted with the blanket in an attempt to disentangle himself from it. His flatmate briefly thought about helping him, but decided otherwise and did what Sherlock had asked him. Straightening his shoulders and slowly counting to ten to calm down, John left the room. He wished for Sherlock and himself that the former would not have to suffer from many more nightmares, as it was clear that if he did, his mood would become unbearable; plus, he would be confined to his bed or at least the flat to fully recover from the recent blood loss anyway for some more time and John didn't really feel like playing the part of his verbal punching bag all the time.
John was standing in the living room, indecisively, clenching his fists and opening them again. For the time being he could do nothing but wait, so he finally resumed drinking his now only lukewarm tea and turned on the TV.