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Doctor meets doctor (6/8)

BBC Sherlock

Rating 18 (whole fic): slash, mental health issues, vomiting.

AU body-swap fic, set mainly during "A Study in Pink". Inspired by the Martin Freeman/Rachael Stirling comedy drama Boy meets Girl.

Betaed by kalypso_v, queen of the comma.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 7, Part 8



That afternoon at the clinic, John's therapy session is with Donna King, who's at once his favourite member of staff, and the most dangerous. She's a large, clumsy, middle-aged blonde, with a manner so sympathetic that he finds himself wanting to tell her the truth about everything. Which, of course, will get him stuck in here permanently.

"How are you feeling today, Jay?" she asks.

"Good," he says, and remembers to smile, because Molly has a nice smile. "I enjoyed getting outside for a bit, even if it is freezing."

"So your mood is positive, that's good. And have you been having any disturbing thoughts?" They go through a familiar litany, intended to reassure her that he's not delusional or likely to do anything dangerous on her watch. And then Donna beams at him short-sightedly and asks: "Is there anything else you feel it would be useful to talk about?"

He's not sure what to say, but he needs to say something, show he's cooperating. "About what?" he asks cautiously.

"Do you feel ready to talk about some of your relationships with other people, Jay? Shall we start, perhaps, with your feelings about Sherlock Holmes?"

He's always resisted talking about Sherlock, afraid he'll betray his anger, not sound like Molly – sane, healthy Molly – but suddenly he knows what to say, the true lies he can tell.

"I...the first time I met him I thought he was the most brilliant, charismatic, fascinating man I'd ever met," he says. Which is true, of course; even now, he can't forget the thrill he felt in those few minutes of the meeting at Barts. There is part of him that can easily understand why Molly was obsessed by the man.

"And now?" Donna asks, gently.

"I think he's dangerous. Doesn't care what he might do to other people." Whatever it was that Sherlock had been building, it had been wrong. And whether he thought that it was Molly Hooper or John Watson stuck in a mental hospital as a result of the accident, he hadn't bothered to come and see them.

"And that dangerous side to Sherlock no longer appeals to you?"

He shakes his head, and Donna makes a note. He doesn't try and read what she's writing. Molly doesn't have trust issues. He just concentrates on sitting there quietly and looking normal.

"And what do you feel now about John Watson?" Donna asks. This one's he expecting, and he has his answer off almost pat.

"I don't really know much about him," he says. "I mean, I heard all about him from Mike, of course." That is the agreed line, the agreed lie of everyone now. That his detailed knowledge of John Watson comes from things that Mike Stamford has let slip over the years. It doesn't fit the facts, of course, but it's a comforting lie that keeps away the shadows of stalkers, and identity theft, and scientifically impossible events.

"What did you feel when you heard Mike talk about him?" Donna asks.

"That Dr Watson sounded exciting, glamorous," he says smoothly. "But I only met him once and he was quite ordinary: small, and a bit funny looking."

"You had fantasised about him, maybe even about being him?" Donna says. "A doctor like you, but a hero, a warrior, as well. And when you met him, what did you feel then?"

"I suppose the reality was disappointing and I ended up clinging to the fantasy."

"But you're not doing that now?"

"War isn't romantic. It's messy and brutal and John Watson was a casualty of it."

"Not a hero, then?"

"Not to me."

Donna smiles a wise smile. "Let's go onto some of the other people around you, how you feel about them at the moment. About Mike Stamford, for example." That's a new question, but an understandable one, he supposes, especially if anyone saw them together in the garden.

"He's my friend, a very good friend. He's done so much for me while I've been in here."

"Your feelings towards him are friendly. Do you want to expand on that a bit more, Jay?"

"I enjoy his company. I look forward to his visits. He cheers me up, he's there when I need help. I trust him." Donna sits there, and waits patiently. Waiting for him to say the thing that he suddenly realises he should have known long before.

"I love him," John says. "I can't imagine being without him. It would hurt being without him."

"Even though he could also be described as 'small and a bit funny looking'? Dr Stamford's not a glamorous figure, is he?"

"He doesn't need to be. He's a good man, and that's what counts."

"And Sherlock Holmes?"

"He's not a good man. Mike's worth a hundred of him." And beneath Donna's professional composure, he can see the pleasure in the fact that Molly has finally, finally recognised that basic truth.

***

When Mike turns up on Friday morning he looks tired, but otherwise almost back to his normal cheery self. Which is probably just as well because John's practically climbing the walls with nerves. They're not really going to let him out, are they? They’re going to decide at the last minute that his care plan isn’t ready, or he shouldn’t be staying with Mike. Even though one of the team writing the care plan is an ex-student of Mike’s, and every possible issue has been discussed, it’s all going to get postponed or prevented somehow. But apparently it isn't, and Mike drives him out of the gates and off to a cafe.

"Give you a decent cup of tea for once," he says, grinning, "and then, if you need anything, we can go shopping."

For about an hour it's marvellous being out of the hospital, being free, and then suddenly it's too much, scary even.  John had almost forgotten how frantic London is, that there are just too many loud, busy people crammed together in a few square miles. Too much of everything, till his ears and head and body are aching. So Mike takes him off to his small house in Bromley, and there's a peacefulness amid the book-crammed rooms that's very different from the sterile inoffensiveness of the clinic.

"The first thing is to get the drugs out of your system," Mike says, gently. "But you'll need to take it easy while you're doing that, and we can't do it too quickly, because olanzapine withdrawal can be pretty nasty."

Mike's right, of course: for a couple of weeks he feels so grotty that he can't do much more than flop around the house, and his state isn't helped by experiencing his first ever period. It's nothing like as bad as being shot, but it's still unpleasant. But Mike cheerily keeps him supplied with painkillers and hot water bottles and he gets through it OK.

"Who'd be a woman?" Mike says smiling, as they're having supper the first evening that John can face a proper meal again. "Still, Jay, at least you don't have to shave everyday and you're not going to lose your hair."

"Yeah, but it was a nasty shock. I should have paid more attention to gynaecology lectures all those years ago, shouldn't I?" John says.

"Yes, you should have done. But you always did rely on me for your lecture notes, didn't you, John?"

It's the first time Mike's called him by that name since the day on the terrace, and John looks up at him in surprise.

"I...should you be calling me that?"

"I can't in public, Jay, you know that. You'll have to...we'll have to watch ourselves. But I think, for your own sanity, you need somewhere where you can still be John. And given how far back we go, maybe I can help a bit." Mike gets up, and goes over to his desk in the corner, and produces a large folder that he plonks down beside John.

"Mementos I could find from your time at Barts," he says. "There's probably more I could dig out, but this is a start."

John starts to look through the file, his food forgotten. Photos, yellowing worksheets, old cuttings from the student mag about John and Mike and the rest of the gang.  A programme from the production of Aladdin Mike had roped him into: Mike as the Genie of the Lamp and John as a bandit.  Chunks of his past life that he's forgotten, but now start to flood back.

"Lillian was always at me to chuck things out, but I'm just a hoarder," Mike says, about three hours of reminiscing later. "Never thought it would come in so handy, though." He picks up a photo of the two of them. "You haven't changed much, have you, John?" And then stops, and bites his lip.

"You mean, other than the sex-change and total body swap?" John says, and starts giggling.

"Well, you are the only bloke I know who looks better than when he was at med school," Mike replies, in between his own chuckles.

"Oh God, who'd have thought we'd end up like this?" John says, after a bit. "It was all easier back then, wasn't it?"

"You’ve forgotten how hard the studying was," Mike replies, "but I'm afraid you may be about to get a reminder."

"What do you mean?"

"I...I ought to get back to work, and as for you, well, it's probably not good for your mental health just sitting around here doing nothing. So you maybe need to start working out what you do next."

"I can't just take over Molly's job, though. I'm not a pathologist, and I can't pretend to be one."

"I know," Mike says, "but I can't see you as anything but a doctor, Jay. So, I was thinking..."

"You've planned this all already, haven't you?" John says. It's typical of Mike that he's been already been working out the next step, while John's just been drifting.

"I brought back a few textbooks with me, thought you might have a look at them. Get your mind back in gear, check there are no after-effects from all you've been through."

John knows that Mike's still worried about that, that John might somehow be permanently damaged from his assorted traumas. He looks at John – at Molly – sometimes, when he thinks John won't notice, as if he's trying to work out what exactly is inside Molly's head now. Looks, but doesn't touch.

"OK," he says, "I'll give it a go, but my concentration's still shot to hell." Then he remembers something else. "Did you find out anything about the gym membership?" he asks.

"Davina said Molly had joined one, so I've been trying to dig out the paperwork," Mike replies.

"Any luck?" It's almost scary how easily he's been able to take over Molly's life since he's moved in with Mike. People are so embarrassed about Molly's supposed short-term memory loss that they're prepared to tell her all sorts of details they shouldn't do. And Mike has been surprisingly ingenious at getting them control of Molly's finances.

"Yeah, finally got hold of the details, after some ringing around. I don't think she's been more than twice, but she's still got a standing order. It's one of the big chains, and I think they've got a branch in Bromley, so I'll see if we can get her membership swapped over to there."

"Or maybe we could get a joint membership," John says, and then winces at his own tactlessness. He does think Mike needs to exercise more, eat better – it's one of the reasons he's starting to do some cooking, rather than them relying on takeaways – but he doesn't want to get at Mike, not after all he's done for him.

***

John loves being back at the gym, and Molly's soon doing regular workouts. It's a struggle, at first – her body's flexible, but not very strong – but it feels so good.

Unlike the studying, which is horrendous. He stares for hours at the textbooks and he can't remember anything.

"I'm too old for this," he tells Mike a few days later. "Do Barts need someone to sweep their floors?"

"You've forgotten how to study, Jay," Mike replies cheerfully. "Just staring at a chapter isn't going to help. You need some proper note-taking for a start, and then there are other techniques–"

"You're going to say flash cards," he protests. "I am not using flash cards." But somehow he ends up doing a lot of what Mike suggests, because Mike is a natural teacher, has been as long as John's known him. Or perhaps John's brain hasn't packed up completely, after all.

It is getting more and more like being back at medical school, if the world's most sedate and middle-aged medical school. John spends his time studying or playing sport, and then Mike comes home and tells him the latest academic gossip, and they lounge around eating supper in front of the telly, or go off to hear a band. At the weekend they go to the pub with Mike's friends or just crash out at home. If John had imagined a life like this five years ago, he'd have expected to die of boredom.  Now it seems real, sane. He's starting to realise he was permanently on edge in the army, caught in an endless cycle of excitement and misery. How he'd come almost to take it for normal that his colleagues, his friends would end up dead or injured. It's wonderful simply not keeping going to funerals any more.

***

The one awkward thing, the one nagging thing is sex, or rather the lack of it. Mike says slightly awkwardly a week or two after John moving in that if he wants to have anyone stay the night, that's fine, but even though John's libido has revived now he's off the drugs, he can't cope with the thought of anyone. It's bound to mess up the delicate equilibrium between his head and body. He's mostly come to terms with officially being a woman, is learning how to cope with being called 'Molly', even though he prefers 'Jay'. But dating still seems like several steps too far.

Besides, there's Mike. It would feel wrong to get involved with anyone else, even casually, with Mike around. In fact, he keeps on finding his mind drifting back to that day on the terrace, wondering what would have happened if he'd gone further. The problem is...

The problem is not only Mike's hint about John finding someone else. It's also that Mike literally hasn't touched him since that day at the clinic. Not the comforting hugs he'd been willing to give Molly, or the casual physical gestures of two old mates sharing a house. Mike's carefully keeping his distance, and John suspects he may still secretly be freaked out about that aspect of the body swap. After all, Mike fancied Molly, but he's definitely straight, he's probably turned off by the thought of sleeping with John. And even though John now finds the sight of Mike infinitely endearing, when he dreams he's always still a man, and it's women he wakes up blearily wanting to shag.

***

Tonight, though, the dream isn't about women, and John's sweating when he wakes. He goes to the bathroom to clean himself up, and there in the dark is Mike, getting a drink of water. He's obviously had a disturbed night as well.

"You OK, Jay?" Mike mutters sleepily, short-sighted eyes gazing vaguely at him.

"Yeah," he says, "Just had a bad dream, that's all. Be fine in a minute."

Mike's hands come up to hold John's shoulders. "Jay," he says again, with sudden concern. "Are you getting flashbacks about Afghanistan? Or the clinic?"

Mike's touch is warm and gentle and good, and it's suddenly funny. John takes a step forward and lets Molly's face slide against Mike's neck, laughing into it.

"Neither," he says, "I was dreaming I had a multiple-choice test and couldn't answer the questions.  Goddamnit, Mike Stamford, you've given me exam nightmares again."  John's arms stretch around Mike, and he's giggling into his shoulder, and when Mike's arms come round him, drawing Molly's slender body against Mike's bulk, they fit together perfectly. It's Mike who starts to kiss him this time, gently on the forehead, and then John's mouth finds Mike's lips and he closes his eyes, because lips are lips and he likes kissing.

He dreamily snogs away for ages, he's missed this so much, and it's Mike who finally pulls away his mouth and asks breathlessly: "Are you sure you know what you're doing, Jay?"

"I want this," John replies, and then realises that's not all. "I want you, Mike. If that's OK?"

"Yes," Mike says gently. "More than OK, actually. I did, I did hope that, I did dream..." He trails off, but his hands stay firmly wrapped round Molly.

"Then why didn't you say anything? After what happened at the clinic?"

"You were on drugs, then," Mike protests, "I wasn't sure you really knew what you were doing. And...it took me a while to get my head round it. Freaked me out for a bit, till I realised that all the labels didn't matter."

"I thought you weren't interested," John says. "You said if I wanted to bring someone home that was fine."

"I didn't want to seem pushy," Mike says apologetically. "You're a very attractive woman, John, Jay, you could have your pick of...well, whoever you want."

"I want you," says John. "I want to do this." Anything seems possible right now, in this hour before dawn. "So let's get on with it."

"Right," Mike says, and then suddenly adds, "Erm, actually, no. Not yet."

"Why not?" John can somehow tell Mike is blushing, even in the dim light.

"Because I've just realised I haven't got any condoms. And I adore you, Jay, but the thought of a pregnant John Watson is just too awful for words." John can't help it, he starts giggling at that, and Mike is snorting with laughter too. And then he says that he'll pick up some freebie condoms from Barts at lunchtime, and John suddenly knows that this is going to work.
 

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
fengirl88
Dec. 1st, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC)
I'm relieved to see that John has finally made it out of the clinic - I hope things are going to get better for him now.
marysutherland
Dec. 3rd, 2011 07:09 am (UTC)
A few more surprises to come, but there will be, as usual, a happy ending (I'm so predictable).
fengirl88
Dec. 3rd, 2011 10:43 am (UTC)
I have no objection to happy endings! *grins*
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )