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The eggsperiment

BBC Sherlock fanfic

Rating PG (preslash, vomiting)
Spoilers: none
Length: c 900 words

One thing you learnt in the army was how to cope with a vomiting fit. Drinking bouts, dodgy food, the aftermath of combat, he knew how to get through it. And at least he'd had time to get to the toilet and the spasms were dying down now. It was nothing like as bad as that time in Cyprus. He stood up shakily and turned to the sink to get a drink.

He was lying on the bathroom floor. He didn't remember how he got there and though his head hurt it was only on the left hand side, where he'd hit the floor. Which made it more likely that he'd passed out than that someone had attacked him. But as he started to look round he saw someone's feet a little way away.

Does he realise I've come round yet? If I play dead a little longer will he come closer, he wondered, squinting through almost closed eyes at the feet. But was why the man in bare feet? Didn't he realise he'd be leaving toe prints that could identify him uniquely? And those narrow, pale feet, he recognised them...He looked up.

"You've been out for just over two minutes," said Sherlock, propped against the bathroom wall. "There was no immediate danger, so I thought it best to leave you. Do you need a hand getting up?"

"I'm OK," he said, slowly levering himself and wedging himself next to the sink.

"Poisoning, obviously", said Sherlock.


"Food poisoning, from the immediately visible signs. I'd have checked the vomit residue, but it would have meant moving you, and I thought that was unnecessary".

He was concentrating hard on telling his knees that they were not going to buckle, and his stomach that it was not going to heave again. So it was only when it was repeated that he registered Sherlock's question.

"I said, what did you eat and when?"

"It doesn't matter".

"I want to know. Useful bit of data for the daughter's alibi in the Harper case. I'm currently doing an experiment...Oh. The sandwiches in the kitchen?"

"I thought Mrs Hudson must have brought them up. I was starving, I found when I was out I didn't have the cash on me for a pasty. My God, what was in them?"

"Nothing. I was testing the effects of raised temperature and time on badly prepared mayonnaise. You came in around 11 and it's 2 now. Quicker effect than I'd have expected. I suppose they hadn't started to smell off?"

"No". At least talking distracted him from the intermittent waves of nausea. "How was I supposed to know there was something wrong with them?"

"Well, I did tell you."

"No, you didn't".

"I texted you last night."

"I got several messages from you last night, but none about poisoned sandwiches."

"I sent it at 8.23 pm. 'Avoid the eggs'".

"I thought it was some obscure code message." He was feeling just strong enough now to move. He headed slowly but doggedly for the bathroom door. Sherlock unstuck himself from the wall and stood beside him. "Do you need to vomit again?" he asked.

He would be entirely justified in throwing up over the bastard, but it would still be a mistake. "No. I don't think there's anything more to bring up. I'll go back to bed."

"I'll give you a hand. Don't want you fainting again, it makes the place untidy."

"Sit on the bed", said Sherlock, once they were back in John's room. "I'll get you some water, so you can rinse your mouth out." It was easier just to do as he was told. When he had had the water and had lain down – if I keep my breathing steady, I can keep this down – Sherlock came back in.

"I've put more water by your bed" he said. "And a bowl, in case you need it. But if it starts again, give me a shout."

"I've not got much voice."

"My hearing's very good." The silence lengthened. He realised that Sherlock was still looking down him, alert, but still, as if trying to solve a three-patch problem. Of course, a sociopath's bedside manner was enough for practical matters, but not for giving reassurance...or taking it? So he'd have to say something.

With an ordinary man, you'd say "Thanks for sorting me out, mate" and he'd say: "That's OK. Sorry about the screw-up with the sandwiches". Unfortunately, Sherlock wasn't an ordinary man. Fortunately, though, one of the other things you learned in the army was what to say instead of the unsayable. So he looked directly into Sherlock's pale gaze and said as calmly as he could:

"They sent me on a course in unarmed combat once. I think I can still remember how to break your neck with my bare hands. Tomorrow, of course."

"It'll be instructive", said Sherlock, and smiled. "You'd better get some sleep then, get your strength back." He swept out, flicking off the lights.

He lay in the dark and told himself that the churning in his stomach and the trembling in his legs was just the after-effect of those bloody sandwiches. Nothing but the eggs, he told himself, nothing but the eggs.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 30th, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)
I love the whole fic, but:

"one of the other things you learned in the army was what to say instead of the unsayable."

This ^^^^ fills me with wordless admiration - I can't even begin to say how lovely and evocative and ever so slightly (or quite a lot really) heartbreaking I found this line.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 6th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
Sep. 2nd, 2011 11:18 am (UTC)
Re: The eggsperiment
Good story.

John appears to be absorbing at least some detective-thinking overlay on top of his army mindset, if 'doesn't he realize he'll leave toe prints' occurred to him in the wake of a possible attack before he registered the face. :) Sherlock's lucky he wasn't tackled before John realized who he was.

My God, what was in them?

Er, John, you really *are* out of it if you started justifying eating them before asking this question...

I was testing the effects of raised temperature and time on badly prepared mayonnaise.

I'm curious. How was he planning to conduct the rest of the test? Chemical analysis? Checking out rate of bacteria growth? I suppose he must check the evil thing at regular intervals, but John got to it at a bad time.

It's things like this that make one question how stories in which they keep a cat could work... :)

'Avoid the eggs'

I hope the resident genius manages to improve his communication skills at some point...

Fortunately, though, one of the other things you learned in the army was what to say instead of the unsayable.

Let me join the chorus praising this line. It's succinct. :)

Now for my usual digression on what I can work out about the worldbuilding...

I wonder sometimes what Sherlock's lab technique should really be like (both to be in character for him and to get usable results).

In this case, he can't be used to living with anyone - flatmate or family - while running experiments that they might disturb, or he wouldn't have made the mistake of sending an ambiguous text message rather than leaving a note. (Either that, or he's *only* used to people who can either work such things out, e.g. Mycroft, or who wouldn't go near anything, no way no how.) He must not be in the habit of leaving experiments unattended in a more formal shared lab setting, either, or he *would* have learned by now to leave a note...

Sherlock's really not used to helping anybody being ill, either, or he would have helped John rinse out *before* they left the bathroom.

Minor nitpicks:
If I play dead a little long will he come closer

I *think* you meant 'longer' instead of 'long'. I'm not sure whether you wanted to end the sentence with a question mark.

get your strength back - seems to be missing an end quote mark after 'back'.
Sep. 2nd, 2011 09:53 pm (UTC)
Re: The eggsperiment
It's a bit daunting to have someone take seriously the first fanfic I ever wrote in my life (!), which is very rough round the edges. I think this has to be taken as happening *very* soon after John's moved into 221B. After all, John's still naive enough in TGG (two months after he's moved in) to be shocked about severed heads in the fridge. This might be even earlier, when he knows that Sherlock is liable to put eyeballs in the microwave, but he hasn't yet realised that anything in 221B is a potential health hazard/experiment. As for Sherlock, I suspect he just assumes that it should be *obvious* what's he doing with the sandwiches, unless you have a peculiarly tiny mind.

Thanks for pointing out the typos as well, which have been fixed.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )