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Mea culpa

BBC Sherlock fan fic (response to prompt (http://sherlockbbc-fic.livejournal.com/575.html?thread=444479) h/c for John, slightly tweaked from there in response to comments.

Rating: 15 (adult themes), pre-slash
Spoilers: None

It had startled Sherlock at first to find himself wanting to care for John, to take care of John, but on reflection he realised it was logical enough. John was his friend and people took care of their friends, looked after them when they were in trouble or hurt. It was actually a more normal definition of 'friend' than 'skull surrogate'. John, of course, was always taking care of Sherlock.

So it was inconvenient that now Sherlock had decided that he wanted to do some reciprocal care-giving that John was frankly so difficult to take care of. Well, unless Sherlock resorted to tedious things like avoiding rooftop chases and actually doing some cooking. He'd offered to help with John's remaining trauma about Afghanistan, of course, but infuriatingly, John didn't seem to trust even him on that. Even after Sherlock had pointed out his extensive knowledge of neuroscience, criminal psychology and neuropharmacology, John has still refused point blank. Curious.

As for physical care of John when he was sick or injured, there wasn't much scope for initiative there either. If John was conscious, he told Sherlock what to do: as he pointed out, he was the bloody doctor. And if John was unconscious, all Sherlock wanted to do was get him to hospital as quickly as possible; it was no time for experimenting. You couldn't care properly for someone in hospital, and it was staggeringly boring there, they just wanted you to sit quietly and absolutely not fiddle with any of the machines in intensive care.

No, hospital or doctor's orders, that were his normal choices. And so he really ought to get John to hospital now, even though technically he wasn't unconscious. He could hear him now as he sat on his bed and talked to a huge imaginary dog. What was it he was saying? Sherlock strained his ears.

"Why do your eyes shine like that? What are you trying to tell me? I know you know, so tell me. You've seen the universe unfold, you know the answer, help me." If only John knew how much of an idiot he sounded, Sherlock thought. But of course he wasn't in a fit state to realise. That was the problem with being on an acid trip.

How had Sherlock been so careless? He hadn't taken LSD for years, he didn't even enjoy it. It was just that having a reference library of the less common drugs was so handy; you couldn't remind yourself of the smell, of the feel of them from textbooks. But how he how let that sugar cube end up in the kitchen, for God's sake? He'd only put it there to avoid the latest drugs bust, where hide a tree but in a forest? He'd forgotten that John found things in the kitchen on a routine basis and tried to eat them, at least things that didn't reveal their danger immediately. How could John have been so stupid; no, how could he have been so stupid?

At least if John was in the bedroom and still talking he was safe. If he could keep him away from the microwave...and the windows. Why hadn't he taken the basement flat when Mrs Hudson has shown it to him? What did a bit of damp matter in return for safety if your friend decided he could fly?

He reviewed his options yet again. John would be safer in hospital, but he'd need to tell them what John had taken, and then he'd have to explain how it was his fault, he couldn't have people thinking John did drugs voluntarily. And LSD was a class A drug. Up to seven years in prison for possession; if they could get charges of possession with intent to supply to stick, and there was a 3 or 4% chance of that, in theory Sherlock could be looking at a life sentence. And nowadays he was scared about getting sent to prison: how could he look after John from a cell? No, that wouldn't work.

The second option, since it was John's physical safety that was paramount, was simple. John's bedstead was sturdy and there were several pairs of handcuffs in the flat. Chain him to the bed and John wouldn't be flying anywhere. But he couldn't do that to John, not even to protect him. John got tied up by villains on a regular basis and Sherlock knew how badly it affected him, even though he never said anything. Forget that one then.

The third option was the sensible one. Call Lestrade, or even Mycroft. They'd know what to do, they'd come round, sort the problem out, take it off his hands. Take John off his hands. He wasn't going to let them. He could do it himself, he had to. He did not need anyone else, he did not need advice from prissy government websites aimed at 15 year olds, or the ones written by aging stoners who could not punctuate and who, as he remembered from previous experience, were maddeningly slow at replying to e-mails. He had his notes from his own experiences ten years ago, filed neatly between 'khat' and 'magic mushrooms'. He could work it out, he could work anything out.

But it hurt something inside him so much to have to listen to John's incessant ramblings, calm sensible John who never said much, but it was always worth listening to – and when he had discovered that, given he 'd never previously thought that anyone else was worth listening to? Why was John talking like that? Had Sherlock sounded like that to others when he was on drugs? Did he still talk like that when he was high on... other things? But now he had to be the calm one, the sane one. He had to go into John's bedroom and ignore the horror of listening to this stranger with John's body and John's voice, but not, temporarily, John's mind.

He breathed hard as he went in, trying for once to unfocus his mind. He couldn't do this if he had to follow the train of John's thoughts, the stream of illogic cut into his brain almost physically. He had somehow to listen to John without listening to him, let the waves of his words wash over him and follow the conversation by feel alone, automatically responding when it was needed. Did John ever do this to him when he was talking incessantly, he suddenly wondered. He probably did, you know, the bastard.

So for long hours he sat beside him and John talked and talked, and then he held John tight, with his face against Sherlock's chest to shield his eyes, when John started screaming about the wallpaper moving – and God knows he could hardly blame him, that pattern was hard enough to cope with when you were clean. Somehow he distracted him from that, and then he had to listen to more rubbish about the true nature of the universe than since he'd been at college. He'd never have imagined that John had this mystical streak of codswallop somewhere deep inside him. He hoped to hell that when John recovered, it had to be when, not if, the doors of perception in John's head were going to clang completely shut again.

And he also prevented John firmly, but kindly, from trying to kiss him. Because how could he know if it was really Sherlock he wanted to kiss, or the hallucinatory Mycroft and General Shan and the Hound of the Baskevilles, all of whom John had recently told about his love for them? And even if for some unfathomable reason it was actually Sherlock that John wanted to kiss - and why would he, it was irrational – he should at least be sure that John would remember their first kiss.

Half past two in the morning, four a.m., six a.m.. The symptoms had started at 7.14 p.m., so hopefully John would start coming down soon. But Sherlock was so tired. He could go without sleep easily if it just involved thinking, but this feeling, this caring, was exhausting. And if his concentration lapsed what might happen? He couldn't afford any more mistakes.

He phoned Lestrade in the end, who turned up with extraordinary speed at the flat, and even got Mrs Hudson to open the street door rather than break it down. Because, of course, Sherlock didn't dare leave John alone for long enough to go down and back up those seventeen stairs.

"Tell me you don't have to take any official notice of this," he said to Lestrade, trying to sound nonchalant, and aware he was failing badly.

"It'll mostly be out of his system by now." said Lestrade. "I'll keep an eye on him. You'd better go to bed, you look nearly as wrecked as him."

"But first", he added, and the note of authority crept into his voice, "you are going to go round this flat and bring out every illegal substance you possess and put them on the table here. I will dispose of it safely, and no questions asked. But it must be everything."

Sherlock hesitated for a moment and was promptly ashamed of it.

"Sherlock!" Lestrade barked, "you can do what you like with your own life, but this is not going to happen to John again, do you understand? Next time he could get killed."

It ought to have hurt his pride that Lestrade was more concerned about John, who he barely knew, accidently ODing than about Sherlock, who he's known for years, doing so. On the other hand, right then , Sherlock agreed with him. He went rapidly round the flat, pulling out all his stashes, hoping that Lestrade would be just distracted enough not to be able to memorize all the hiding places. Because, otherwise Sherlock would need to find new locations, when..no, he wouldn't be restocking his library, would he? Not this time.

He must have fallen asleep after he'd collapsed on his bed, because Lestrade was shaking him by the shoulders.

"It's OK," said Lestrade, "he's pretty much lucid now, and there's no major after-effects that I can see yet. But I have really got to go now. I've just had a call that someone's found a severed thumb in Reading, might belong to that engineer who came into Bart's last night."

"Give me a moment, and I'll be along." said Sherlock. And then paused. "No, actually, you go ahead and tell me about it later. I've got things to do here."

He should go downstairs and talk to John. He occupied his mind briefly with a few minor problems. He must tell John's therapist about this, while making sure the information didn't get passed onto Mycroft. And how to deal with buying more sugar – if he could find the individually wrapped cubes, like they had on aeroplanes, would John be willing to use them again? But all the time the real problem was waiting there.

One of the points of care-giving -  though not, as he'd once thought, the only point - was the gratitude it aroused in the friend who'd received the care, and the resultant glow of satisfaction within the care-giver. It was extremely hard to feel such a glow, however, when it had all been his fault in the first place. John would express gratitude, of course, he always did, and it was vitally important that he accepted John's gratitude. Because if John saw how distressed Sherlock had been, still was, he would try and comfort him, and the balance sheet of their friendship would end up even further against Sherlock.

He managed it in the end, smilingly receiving John's carefully casual thanks – and how did John know what to say in these situations, did he have some strange internal etiquette book for all situations, why couldn't he be like John? That was a new and odd thought, but he couldn't think about it now, because he had to distract John by talking about the severed thumb. It helped that John didn't seem to remember that it hadn't just been Lestrade who'd stayed with him - must find out some other time what John did remember of that night, but he must be gentle for once – and also that John was still too groggy to register Sherlock's own incoherence about the thumb. Thank goodness John couldn't hear the thoughts going round and round in Sherlock's head. How can I care for him better next time? What if there isn't a next time? How can there be a next time without it being all my fault?

POSTSCRIPT: someone who knows more about drugs than me (not difficult) pointed out on the prompt site that Sherlock was doing lots of the wrong kinds of things which could lead to a bad trip. This fiction should act as a warning reminder that you should not do drugs, and if by any chance you do, make very sure that the friend you're relying on to look after you is not an over-confident sociopath.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
Second time I've read this and it still fills me with warm and lovely feelings. Sherlock is trying so hard!

The writing is beautiful: sweet without being closing; moving without being mawkish, and really very funny. And the new postscript is doused in awesomesauce!
Aug. 31st, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC)
Love this one too! Beautiful and touching... I loved the hallucinatory people who John is talking to and Sherlock's concern that John is so damned hard to take care of. Really great writing!
Oct. 14th, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
I sort of found your Sherlock fic by accident and I've been gulping it down rather compulsively since. I ought to be giving you proper comments, but my life is overfilled atm, so just wanted to say you're brilliant and I love these stories.
Oct. 14th, 2010 06:10 am (UTC)
Glad you're enjoying it - there is more sitting around in longhand at the moment that just needs to be typed up when I have more time, plus something big lurking which will appear in a slash fest around the end of October.

If you need more angst and jokes in the meantime, I'd also recommend looking at some of the stuff on my friends' page.
Nov. 26th, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
Aww, this is both brilliant and a little worrying and the postscript is hilarious.
Jan. 20th, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC)
Poor boys! Yeah, I did a fair amount of LSD in college and while it can be very fun under the right circumstances, it can also mean trapped in a living nightmare for 8-14 hours if your head gets in the wrong space...I think being shut up in a room with a nervous Sherlock and scary wallpaper would definitely tip anyone over into the Bad Trip zone.

Anyhow, I love that your Sherlock so badly wants to get to take care of John in some way. You're right, it would be awfully hard. Just the fact that he wants to gives me warm feelings, though.
May. 10th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
Drug nit-picky kinkmeme Anon here, I really did like this story, I'm sorry if you thought that I didn't. My rant really wasn't an attack on you, it was more out of frustration of acquaintances who have been less than rational in the caring of tripping people, also I read it around 4am and my own rationality was, uh, yeah.

I love the awkward but trying Sherlock, and his struggling in the role-reversal of the situation, and Lestrade as the caring but strict friend, who can take this as off the books but include a consequence.

Also, thumbs up at the thumb reference. Gonna go roll around in your fics now that I stumbled on your journal :]
May. 12th, 2011 06:33 am (UTC)
It's fine pointing out if I got something wrong - I try and do research for the many areas I don't know about personally, but I'm always willing to learn more from people with more knowledge than me.

Glad you enjoyed the story overall - and if you liked the severed thumb, there are lots of other ACD refs lurking in other stories. "Attack on the canon" is the tag for some of my most blatant steals.
May. 12th, 2011 08:38 am (UTC)
Your drive towards research is one of the things that struck me as I was reading through your other fics. It led to a much greater richness in story and had me following a few links out of interest. Trying to spot the ACD refs was a fun exercise.

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )