John shrugged off his jacket, hung it up and cautiously placed the keys on the kitchen table, avoiding making a loud noise that could wake his flatmate. He needed some sleep as he had slept very badly the past nights due to his nightmares. John retrieved the first aid kit, took a large patch of gauze from it and gingerly placed it under Sherlock's wrist, carefully lifting his arm just enough to get the cloth under it. Sherlock moved a bit under John's touch, but didn't wake.
They would speak about the talk between Mycroft and Sherlock later.
John didn't have any destination when he had left the flat earlier, so he had been wandering around the area close to Baker Street, mostly lost in thought. This was a difficult situation and John didn't have any idea how to improve it without Mycroft's help. The only thing he could imagine was to distract the Consulting Detective as much as possible to prevent him from allowing his emotions to take control over his brain. And yet, it was risky and might as well just backfire. John had thought of calling Lestrade to ask for some cold cases that could keep Sherlock busy for at least some time, although the doctor was convinced that his flatmate would need some more time to recover from his physical weakness caused by all the trauma Sherlock's body had gone through lately. However, he had to admit to himself that Sherlock's mental condition weakened his body and prevented it from healing entirely.
Psychosomatic, shot through his mind and he couldn't avoid a humourless chuckle. Sherlock suffering psychosomatically was a contradiction in itself – ridiculous. And yet…
John rested himself in his favourite armchair, resuming reading the book he had started. He hadn't got very far in it, because his thoughts had been wandering off repeatedly. He simply couldn't concentrate on the novel. Still, pretending to read, even if pretending to oneself, was better than simply doing nothing and staring at whatever there was to be stared at. Right now it would be Sherlock, but John felt a little uncomfortable watching his friend just for the sake of looking somewhere. Sherlock was really sensitive when it came to people scrutinizing him- up to a degree that he would probably even wake because he had the feeling somebody was piercing him with looks.
After an attempt to read a couple of lines that in the end were read three times and John still didn't know what they were about, he closed the book and put it aside.
He wondered why Mycroft hadn't obviously told Sherlock anything despite the fact that he knew that his brother needed his help. Could the abduction have been so cruel that a grown man wouldn't want to talk about it? Or was it possible that Mycroft was suffering from the knowledge about it so much that he simply couldn't speak about it? He would have to ask Sherlock when he woke up what impression he had.
Sherlock was moving on the sofa, whimpering quietly. He seemed to be on the verge of yet another nightmare and John thought it to be wise to wake him rather to let him go through another wave of incomprehensible emotions, so he gently shook his flatmate by his shoulder. Sherlock woke with a start, stretching out his free arm suddenly as if defending himself and accidentally punched his well-meaning friend in the face, hitting his nose and forehead hard. John stumbled a step backwards and condemned himself for being so inattentive not to realize that he might put himself in danger of what had just happened by bending over a man having a nightmare.
The waking man turned on his back, opening his eyes and looking wearily at his flatmate. His eyes became wide when he realized that John was covering his nose with his hand but a droplet of blood was soaking through.
"What happened to you?" he asked innocently.
"Oh, dothing, Sherlock, dou've dust 'it me."
"What? – Oh…" Realization came to the Consulting Detective. "I do sometimes want to punch you, just for the sake of the return of the unnecessary second punch and putting a headlock on me – remember? - but I'd prefer to be awake when I do it, so that I can enjoy it." he informed his flatmate with the hint of a slightly embarrassed grin.
"Abology accebted." John answered. Sherlock hadn't hit him intentionally and it had been his own fault as well, so he could live with Sherlock's strangely humorous way of saying sorry.
In order to avoid the blood ruining the carpet (it had taken an entire day to remove the large dark spots that Sherlock had left with his nosebleed), John put his head back and headed for the bathroom.
Upon returning to the living-room, a tissue held under his nose, John found Sherlock sitting on the sofa, bent forward, his elbows resting on his knees and his forehead heavily leaning into his hands, a position that could express a lot: fatigue, sorrow, desperation, thoughtfulness… John was convinced that Sherlock was experiencing all of them.
The doctor positioned himself opposite Sherlock, the coffee-table between them. In a still slightly nasal voice he cautiously tried to question his flatmate.
"So Mycroft wasn't quite talkative, was he?"
Sherlock looked up at John, who was rather taken aback by the look in his eyes. He had noticed it before, right after Sherlock's "slip" with the scalpel: his eyes were somewhat tired –lifeless. Those nightmares were in fact killing Sherlock from the inside.
"No, he wasn't. He might as well have stayed away. It would have been the same result, which is nothing," Sherlock replied, a little annoyance in his voice. "I told you it wouldn't do any good."
"It was worth a try," John remarked, "Any idea why he doesn't want to tell you anything?"
Sherlock hesitated, then shook his head, finally taking down his arms, which had still been in the previous position, and stared at his hands.
John had noticed the moment when Sherlock had apparently pondered what he wanted to tell him. So there had been more than his friend was willing to tell him so far. He wouldn't try to push him though, would give him more time to open up.
"You want me to patch you up again? You're ruining your dressing gown entirely – and the sofa – if you keep bleeding on them."
"Does any of that make a difference? Who cares about whether there's a bloody blood spot on my clothing or on the sofa? Do you? You've seen so much blood that this tiny little bit won't upset you. Nothing matters!" Sherlock burst out.
John turned around wordlessly and left the room, only to return with the first aid kit after just an instant. With determined exaggeration he put it on the coffee-table in front of Sherlock, sat down next to him and, in a way that wouldn't allow any protest, put a new dressing on his flatmate's wrist.
"You matter, Sherlock," the doctor said quietly while pretending to concentrate on bandaging up the arm, although his skilled movements gave proof that he had done it innumerable times before and his hands were doing their work quite automatically. He felt the slightest movement of Sherlock's arm as if he wanted to free himself from John's grip, but obviously decided otherwise and left it where it was. He didn't say anything, though.
When John was finished, he stood from the sofa, grabbed the first aid kit and without looking at Sherlock's face ordered, "Get dressed. We're going for a walk."
Only now did Sherlock look at him. "Are we?"
"You need some fresh air and so do I, so get dressed."
"You've only just returned from a walk!" Sherlock complained.
"Anyway, the air in here is stale as anything. Get dressed." With that he left for the bathroom to return the first aid kit, stomped to his armchair and flopped into it. "I'm waiting," he remarked impatiently.
He had to drag Sherlock out of the flat, no matter what. The Consulting Detective had to see something other than their four walls. While Sherlock was putting on his clothes, John texted Lestrade and asked if they could drop by to pick up some cold cases. There had to be some as Sherlock had been "out of action" for some time now. Maybe the Detective Inspector could find something interesting or even challenging for Sherlock to distract him.
After only a couple of minutes Sherlock returned fully dressed but with a grim look on his face. John hadn't expected such quick obedience from his flatmate and was rather pleased by it until Sherlock spoke.
"Walking around the city aimlessly is dull. We could just open the window and let some fresh air in."
"Who said anything about 'aimlessly'?"
"You said. You said 'going for a walk'. A walk is defined as a journey for pleasure without a distinct destination, so going for a walk is aimless and, therefore, boring, useless."
"As if we had never gone for a walk before! Now stop it and get your coat!"
John pushed himself from the armchair and in a long stride was at Sherlock's side, quite shoving him to the door, grabbing his coat and scarf and insistently putting them in his friend's arm. The tall man shrugged the woolen garment on, muttering, and listlessly following John down the stairs and out.
The grey London sky greeted them with a light drizzle. John raised his shoulders to his ears in discomfort, but didn't say anything. He was determined to spend at least a couple of minutes at the outsides before he would hail a taxi, which would take them to New Scotland Yard where DI Lestrade already had a case at the ready for the Consulting Detective. A promising one, he had said. He had wanted to contact Sherlock about it anyway, but was surprised that John had texted him so soon, because he had thought that the convalescence wasn't over.
The doctor hadn't said a word about his plans to Sherlock as he still wasn't fully sure about it and wanted to keep a way out if he saw that after some time of walking his friend would be too exhausted, and therefore, not able to work on a case, which always went along with physical and also mental exhaustion. Sherlock himself hadn't asked for work, which was definitely a matter of concern, because usually the Consulting Detective would react like an addict on withdrawal after just a couple of days, sometimes even a couple of hours without a new case. John had made it very clear, though, that he wouldn't let him work as long as he hadn't fully recovered, but that wasn't normally a reason for Sherlock not to do it anyway. The doctor really hoped that his scheme wasn't a dead end.
Sherlock turned up the collar of his coat and hid his hands in his pockets, grumbling and striding out so fast that John could hardly follow.
"You're jogging as if you were on the run, Sherlock. Could you, please, slow down a tad," John demanded slightly out of breath. "When I said 'go for a walk' I didn't mean 'run a marathon'."
Sherlock threw a quick and dark glance at his flatmate that clearly revealed his displeasure about their current activity.
"My legs are longer than yours, therefore my strides also. It's not my fault that your legs are so short."
John just shook his head about the remark, which was quite Sherlock-like and somehow reassuring in the sense that the Consulting Detective had found back into his usual, nonetheless hurting, way to state simple facts.
John suddenly stepped towards the kerb and hailed the taxi that was just passing them by. Sherlock stopped short, turning around to John, his head slightly bent and his eyebrows raised questioningly.
"You wanted to go for a walk, so what's that then?"
"You aren't walking and it's not just because your legs are longer than mine that I can't keep up with you. You behave like a child, Sherlock. I'm just trying to help you, you know? But you have to let me help you! You asked for help, remember? Get in the taxi, I'll explain then," John said, opening the back door of the cab.
They both got into the taxi and John told the cabbie where they wanted to go.
"Thought so," Sherlock remarked with a hint of his usual arrogance.
"Shut up, I don't want to
hear your deduction," John replied slightly annoyed, although inwardly he
was quite pleased to hear Sherlock say something so normal for him.