|nonelementary (nonelementary) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2012-04-05 22:46:00
|Entry tags:||door: sherlock, greg lestrade, john watson, mycroft holmes, sherlock holmes|
Who: John, Sherlock, Lestrade, & Mycroft
What: John is in the hospital, people come to visit
Where: St. Bart's, London
When: The day after the Masquerade
Warnings/Rating: Talk of injuries and recounting trauma
The journey to the hospital was a blur of sirens and medical jargon and then, blessedly, pain medication that made everything fade even more than the grey fog of shock had. Time passed without him being aware, and where he might often resent the loss of control, John was more than happy to let others care for him in that moment. When he next opened his eyes, he was alone in a room - the scent of blood gone from his nose and replaced by antiseptic and bleached sheets and the certain smell that only hospitals had. His mind floated along in a cushioned cotton, keeping his thoughts from what had brought him to the hospital room in the first place. His body ached, but not in a specific way yet. The sun was too bright on the insides of his eyelids, but he didn’t turn his head. It was too much work.
Sherlock returned to the hospital without changing his attire, which turned out to be a mistake. He was not related to the patient, couldn’t even prove they live together, a social loophole that he would have dishonestly taken advantage of without compunction had it been possible. He did not have police connections anymore, and now and again someone on the hospital floor would look at him a second time and realize that he was that bloke on the telly that offed himself, and then they would recall he was not real, just like they were not real, and they’d go back to their daily lives because that was what people did when they were at a loss. In the end, Sherlock had to blackmail two people with knowledge he acquired within five minutes of meeting them to get in this room, but he expected that he’d be able to stay there until someone with the damned irritating authority made the order stick. There was still an aura of recent conflict about him as he moved confidently into the room, and he brought with him the miasma of a burning opera house--which smelled quite a lot like a fireplace.
The sun had moved again, at least leaving John’s face safe from the too-bright rays. The shift of light wasn’t what roused him, however. Perhaps it was a sound that wasn’t the constant blip of the heart monitor, maybe the presence of a nurse passing through, but more likely it was the smell. His mind was muzzy, but he knew that woodsmoke and ash had no place in a sterile hospital room. Something about the scent overlaid with antiseptic reminded him of Afghanistan, and the world blended with memories that were better left forgotten except in nightmares. With muscles that refused to work exactly how they should, he attempted to blink open sticky eyes, but they fought him every tiny bit. He finally managed to get them open, but the world was bright and blurred as he stared up toward the ceiling. Instead of being able to fully see and focus on things quite yet, he gave a sigh, some sort of sound, as if the noise would better help him understand the strange situation.
Sherlock thought about taking his coat off, and that was when he realized he still didn’t have a shirt. He was distracted from the issue by a sound from the bed, one of the sounds John made when he was waking up from a nightmare; he still had those, occasionally, and Sherlock knew the sound. He moved from the window to the side of the bed, blocking the light with a long shadow, and looked down at his friend. “John.”
His own name caused him to blink a few more times, the world moving slow and hushed, and he finally, slowly, turned his head toward the sound. The figure was little more than a backlit shadow leaning over his bed, a nightmare come to life. He drew in breath quickly, a sharp thing that attacked his body from the inside and made him cough a pained hack that felt as if it would tear his entire body open even through the painkiller’s cushion. The shadow was the source of the scent, and combined with the blurred outline, the blip of the heart monitor began to quicken.
This was the most movement Sherlock had seen so far, and he was assured that John would make a full recovery, but he felt full recovery should come about much quicker. He rounded the edge of the bed, and the light flickered through the blinds. He set his palms on the bed and looked down at his friend, closer, looking for pupil dilation. “John? Wake up, John.” It was quieter than his usual orders, because he was afraid the man would come awake quickly into a panic. It had been known to happen. Disorientation was to be expected. “John.”
It was a struggle back to something that could even be considered conscious, and John’s mind and body fought it every inch of the way. He attempted to lift an arm to push away at whatever was invading his painkiller-peace, but it was burdened by tubes and seemed just as heavy as the rest of his body. “No...” The word barely made it out in one piece, slurred and sticky. His heartrate was still elevated, the blips filling the room, reassuring but grating. He finally managed to guide his unsteady hand to a thin arm, pushing as much as he could, barely a shove at all.
The contact seemed to spur some sort of connection, and with a bleary squint, John tried to focus on the face that peered at him from above. “Sherlock?” His memories weren’t lining up correctly, and the unfocused sight of Sherlock, shirtless and smelling of fire in a hospital room, did little to make things clearer.
Sherlock’s weight made the bed creak as he leaned down on his shoulders in that great coat of his, and then finally he pushed back. “Yes.” He tried to search for something to say. He wanted to ask who had done this, the details, place, time, situation, but it was too early for that. Now was the time for social convention, for whatever would make John feel most safe. What would that be? Helpless, Sherlock gave a little wave of one hand, trying to think. “How... do you feel?”
The look that took up residence on John’s face was a mixture of confusion, disorientation, and the dawning realization that things were not right in a very vital way. He ached in a dull way that he knew should be sharp, but the haze of the painkillers was difficult to fight though. An eternity of slow thoughts passed before his eyes finally cooperated and he was able to actually focus on Sherlock. Sherlock, who looked like he’d been through a fire, but John couldn’t remember any fire. His mind still slipped around the memories he did have, things he didn’t want to recall quite yet, but he was certain there had been no fire.
The question was unexpected. Not because it wasn’t something normal to ask a person laying in a hospital bed, but because it was normal for that sort of situation, and Sherlock never adhered to that sort of normalcy. John stared at him for a bit, brain still trying to catch up and process things, but it finally came up empty. “Why do you smell?” His own question was delivered with the lingering slur of being drugged, but it made the question no less valid, in his mind.
Awkwardly, Sherlock adjusted his coat, somewhat offended. “Technically,” he said, at his most arrogant, “everyone smells. You mean why do I smell like charred wood,” he sniffed, “burnt talc and lead-based paint? That would be because I was just in a burning theatre, France, circa 1910.” He stepped back from the bed as a puff of white ash came off his hair a moment after he shook his head. He eyed the resulting cloud, frowning, then took another step away and linked his hands at the small of his back. “You’re in a bed at St. Bart’s, if you were wondering.” He started to pace.
John was finally able to keep focus on Sherlock, though his expression was glazed with confusion and the dull edges of pain where the return to consciousness also meant a return to his injuries. “1910 France.” It was a question dressed as a statement, but it only took a few seconds for slow realization and understanding to start inching into John’s eyes. He remembered what had happened, and he closed his eyes, lips pressed tight and taking a deep, sharp breath through his nose. Behind his eyelids, the gaunt memory of his attacker lingered, brought to life by the medication in his veins. He let the ‘vision’ wash over and through him, followed by questions and then one thought standing out among the rest. “How long? Have I been here?”
Sherlock whirled at the end of one line of pacing, and the next brought him back to his previous place at John’s bedside. He seemed to calm there, the hands coming back from behind his back, the bare white chest taking breaths slower and at a better pace. Sherlock was somewhat smudged, but unharmed. He watched the movement of emotions on John’s face, something he rarely took the time to assess. “Not yet twelve hours. You will go through soon, and we need to make sure you come back quickly to heal here. Clare will hardly be able to cope.” The implication, of course, being that John could.
Oh god, Clare. She had been the reason that he’d asked about the time in the first place, but Sherlock’s statement hit him full-on, and John’s distracted mind searched for the tiny spark that he’d come to recognize as her. She was never very present when he was in London, the two of them not having the sort of connection that some pairs did, but he could tell that she had retreated as far as possible. At one point, she’d thought him to be a dream; he hoped that she could think the same of the things that had happened the night before, though this would be a dream that came with its own literal wounds and scars. He’d avoided thinking about his injuries, but from the memories of the rooftop, he suspected they were fairly extensive, and the rumor was that injuries carried over on either side of the door. Clare would have to deal with them as well.
“No,” John finally managed to choke out. “No, she won’t.” His next breath was deep, in hopes that he could steady himself, but his mind had continued to clear, pushing the narcotic fog back, and when the expansion of his chest stretched one of the wounds on his back, there wasn’t as much to cushion him from the painful pull. It caused his breath to catch and a painful cough slip out. He did his best to quell the additional coughs and gasps that his body forced on him, and when he’d finally managed that, he looked up at Sherlock with red eyes. “How bad is it?” He knew that there would likely be no sugar-coating from Sherlock, a frank assessment of his condition, and that’s what he wanted.
“Extensive lacerations, but you’re not in critical condition,” Sherlock said, thinking that this would be reassuring, unsure what to do as consciousness brought wracking coughs and obvious distress. Sherlock had that sharpened look he acquired when he’d been awake a very long time, and when he moved, it was with quick, waving motions of his hands or feet. It did not seem to occur to him to sit down, and his eyes kept darting from detail to detail. “They said you’ll be alright.” Unable to hold it in any longer, he said, “Do you know who it was?”
“Extensive,” John replied, voice dropping to a whisper. He had the hotel memories of the pain along his back, and he could only imagine what ‘extensive’ would entail. He kept his breath shallow, not wanting to set off another round of pain-induced and inducing coughing, and let his thoughts move as fast as they could through the still soupy fog of his mind. He noticed Sherlock’s state, and thought about commenting on it or questioning it, especially the lack of a full outfit, but Sherlock’s inquiry, as sharp as his movements, caught his attention instead.
John shook his head. “Someone from a door, but I’m not certain of any more details than that.” His mind continued to clear, and he shifted his body with an obvious wince. “None of us were especially ourselves. I could describe what I remember of him, but it won’t do much good now.”
Sherlock was still now, watching John through eyes the color and depth of deep sea ice. He was thinking with such rapidity that Elias had drawn entirely back, and all his energy was focused on his mind so much so that he took a sudden hard breath when he ran out of oxygen. “From a door. An Alter, like us. That complicates it.” Elias was willing to help, and he’d let Sherlock use his senses in a way he never had before in the hotel to track down the Opera House door. Sherlock couldn’t visit every door, however, and he could only continue to profile with little to no physical evidence. It was endlessly frustrating, and it made him want to shoot bullets through things. Physically. “All data might help, John.”
John frowned at the short, quick ramble after Sherlock’s breath, and he shook his head. “No, I mean. From a door. Or Las Vegas. But someone that was at the Masquerade. That’s what I meant.” A deep wrinkle formed between his eyebrows, as if he was trying to focus enough to remember his attacker. “He was... taller than me. But I think I was shorter. I wasn’t wearing shoes.” He shook his head. “Thin. But strong. He had a cane, but he didn’t need it....” He trailed off. The description, as poor as it was, was bringing back the events of that night, and bile lingered hot at the back of his throat.
Greg Lestrade had learned some time ago that when Sherlock Holmes gave directions, it was usually good to follow them, even if you weren’t entirely sure why you were doing what he asked. So when he was asked to join them at the hospital, where John Watson was presumably a patient, he knew better than to question or refuse. It was easy to get information as to where John was at, a flash of his badge all that he needed before the room number was his. His overcoat flapped around his legs as he bypassed the elevator in favor of the stairs to the floor where the man was staying. Quick steps, purposeful, anything to keep his own thoughts from straying to where Micah was so thoroughly fixated, and it wasn’t long before he stopped in front of the closed door. A quick glance at the room number to verify that he wasn’t barging in on some poor stranger, and Lestrade gave a quick rap on the door with two knuckles, the only warning before he pushed the door open quietly.
“If I’m interrupting,” he started, even before he was fully visible to the room’s occupants, “I can certainly return at a later time,” he finished, giving them an out should he be interrupting.
Sherlock whirled. All the talking had not given him what he needed, and that was an avenue of action. Visiting the scene was now impossible. Though there was a limited suspect pool and an immediate way to draw them out, the likelihood that the assailant had taken a different physical form meant forensic evidence was almost out of the question--with one crucial difference. His eyes lit when he saw Lestrade, moving over his face, his clothing, and seizing on the arm he was holding at a strange angle from his body. Lestrade was relatively whole and hale, so Sherlock’s brain started working on logistics again, leaving emotion behind. He left John’s bedside and came at Lestrade like a storm. “Show me the wounds,” he demanded, without greeting.
Instinct made him want to step back as he became the focus of that intense gaze, but practise had Lestrade holding his ground as Sherlock approached. He had hoped to have a moment to ease into this, but there was a time and a place for niceties, and now was not one of them. “Good to see you as well,” he said, managing to keep the sarcasm out of his voice as he peeled off his overcoat and laid it aside on a nearby chair. The suit jacket came next, the tie loosened, and before long, Lestrade stood in his white undershirt, pushing up the sleeve of the shirt to expose his bicep where the neat, square bits of flesh were simply missing from his person. The collar of his shirt was tugged down as well, giving a glimpse of the ‘X’ carved into his shoulder, and as he let Sherlock examine them to his heart’s content, Lestrade looked over towards the hospital bed where John Watson lay. “It’s good to see you, John,” he called towards him. “Better circumstances would be preferred, but it’s good to see you in one piece.”
John was startled at the knock on the door, and was even moreso when it was Lestrade that poked around the doorframe. Nothing prepared him for Sherlock’s demand or the sudden removal of Lestrade’s clothing. He stared in horror at the marks that he was able to see even from his place on the bed. “What...” There were chunks missing from his arm. “Not quite one piece,” he murmured, shaking his head. After a few more seconds of watching Sherlock examine the marks, it began to make sense. “It was the same man, wasn’t it?”
“Logical assumption,” Sherlock muttered, taking Lestrade’s wrist and wrapping cold fingers around it so he could lift the arm and see the wounds in full light. He brought his eyes down to the level of the skin. “Straight-edge blade. Aggressive, no sign of hesitation.” Bending his knees to keep his gaze on the muscle, he moved around Lestrade, turning him like a store mannequin so that he could examine the mark on his back. “Why the change in shape here? X to T, unimaginative to some kind of marking, a name?” He was talking aloud to himself, of course, not asking.
Greg Lestrade might not question or refuse the demands of Sherlock Holmes, but Mycroft Holmes was quite on the opposite end of the spectrum. His initial reaction to anything Sherlock said was to refuse and, second, he questioned. As he had not been ordered to attend this little gathering, however, this was not a situation that required either of those considerations.
Mycroft arrived at the hospital on his own steam, impeccably dressed and his umbrella in hand. He knew precisely where John Watson was being tended, had done since the ambulance had collected Sherlock’s companion. He knew precisely where his brother had been in the interim, and he knew when Greg finally joined them. As was generally the case, Mycroft wondered why Sherlock let his emotions find themselves so firmly in the way of his own progress. It was clear, comparing what he knew from both assaults, that they were one in the same. Sherlock, too tied to his feelings about John’s injuries, had not spoken to Greg when he ought have, and here they were now, past the point where valuable information might still be easily called to mind. Yes, caring was truly a disadvantage, Mycroft knew.
The tap of his umbrella on the floor of the hospital hall was likely enough to alert Sherlock, if no one else in the room, that Mycroft was en route. Seconds later, without any fanfare, the man behind the British government slipped into the discomfiting dark of the room with the sickbed and stopped quite shy of the bed itself. “We’re assigning sentimental motives to a sadist?” he asked curiously, without any need of greeting or introduction. The question was intentionally goading, because Mycroft liked to do that sort of thing, particularly when he was uncomfortable; Hospitals made him quite uncomfortable. “Is this all we have, after wasting time with Opera Houses that were not, physically, the scene of the assaults?”
John had heard the tapping of the umbrella from down the hall, a strange sharp sound that seemed to cut through all the other hospital noises. It brought back even more the memories of the Opera House’s roof, and he swallowed hard to push back the alarm that had begun to claw its way up into his throat. The appearance of Mycroft, of all people, did very little to comfort him. He let his head rest back against the lumpy hospital pillow and closed his eyes, hoping that when he opened them again his room would be empty and he could get on with healing and forgetting why he was in the hospital to begin with. His wishes were not to be answered, as the snide conversation continued to fill the room. By the time Mycroft ended with his question, John sighed, eyes still closed against the sight of too many people in his room. “Is this necessary to be doing here?”
Lestrade had closed his eyes at the cool examination he was given by Sherlock, moving as directed until a sick feeling bottomed out in his stomach at the echo of a thought from Micah that hailed back to control and puppets. He had to swallow past the lump in his throat at that phantom reaction that was his and yet not his, his free hand pressing against the bridge of his nose, trying to push away those things that he didn’t have the energy to deal with. “I’m just doing as asked,” he said by way of response towards John’s question, giving him a tired look, though he too thought it would be better to do this elsewhere, not in the man’s sick room.
Glancing over towards the elder of the Holmes brothers, Lestrade gave Mycroft a short nod in greeting. “We work with what we have,” he said after a moment, and then his thoughts turned towards the cause of what had happened, the thought that had aired that his assailant and John’s were one and the same. “I missed your description of the man,” he said. “If it’s not too much to repeat it, John.”
Sherlock didn’t see any reason why the examination shouldn’t be here, where the two subjects were next to each other and he could get an appropriate read on both injuries rather than working from memory. Not noticing Lestrade’s purely emotional reaction to his touch, Sherlock summarily dropped the inspector’s arm and, with his mouth open to ask to see John’s injuries, turned toward the bed, only to be interrupted by the entrance of his brother.
Sherlock forgot about asking and turned to face the other, refusing to hide his smoke-stained appearance or lack of shirt or shoes. “The House would have been, but the scene is destroyed to no purpose,” he said. And he added, before John could repeat anything, he translated from memory for Lestrade’s benefit: “Taller than John, shorter than you, thin build, right-handed, experienced with a straight-edged double-sided blade of approximately 75mm, probably under thirty years of age and lacking in close family or friends.” To Mycroft, he said, “John needs to get back through the door promptly. Make sure the hospital doesn’t cause difficulties.”
Mycroft was not a sensitive man and, while he noticed John’s discomfort with the procedure currently taking place in the room, he did nothing to stop it from occurring. Instead, he leaned more heavily on the umbrella as he listened to the details put forth. Once Sherlock finished speaking, Mycroft tapped said umbrella on the floor as he thought. “What did he say?” was Mycroft’s one query. The issue of John needing to go through the door could wait and, for what it was worth, Sherlock did not issue orders. Perhaps, he ignored it intentionally. “As close to verbatim as possible, if you would.”
John still refused to open his eyes, appearing to ignore everything that was going on in his room, but in fact very aware of where everyone stood and how far they were from his bed. He didn’t have Sherlock’s observational skills, but he was a soldier, and before he’d closed his eyes he had also attempted to locate several things within his immediate reach that could be used as a weapon if he needed. Instead of reaching for one though, he simply sighed. Much of his memory from the time on the roof was clouded with fear and the eventual pain, but he did his best to attempt to recall some details.
“It started with small talk. About the Masquerade, mostly. ...I’d had a date but had been stood up.” He was very happy to keep his eyes closed for that statement, not wanting to see the reactions to it. “Something was wrong with him though. One of those people you just know is wrong. He kept staring. I said I wanted to go back to the party, but he was blocking the way.” A delicate shudder ran between John’s shoulder blades, and he stopped his play by play in favor of the conversation itself. “He didn’t say much, not really...”
Sherlock was listening with all of his attention, something he did when he was on a case, but his look of intense concentration was not the one he usually wore when he was delighted by the intricacies of unfolding events. Mycroft would know that look, and Lestrade would too, since he had seen it several months before after he had picked up the pieces of an American agent from amongst the wreckage of Mrs. Hudson’s trash bins. Sherlock didn’t understand the significance of John’s date, and he just looked confused--for the first time since he’d entered the room.
The subtleties of Sherlock’s expression were lost on John at the moment, as wrapped up as he was in the awful memories. Instead of noticing the sharp look or the confusion, he simply sighed, trying to remember anything else he could. “...He apologized once. But I don’t think he actually meant it. ...I’m almost positive he didn’t.” An awkward swallow followed, and he finally opened his eyes to look at the trio in his room. “I don’t think any of this is going to matter. No one was themselves, and it’s possible that he could have been anyone.” More than anything, John wanted to move past it, heal, and return to normal.
The information, as provided by John, was not helpful to Mycroft. It was an emotional recounting, one that did not provide the specific details the older Holmes required to make any headway in solving this case. He understood now why Sherlock was looking quite as frazzled as he had done when their mother rambled nonsensical words from her aged mind. It was difficult to make any progress when others were emotional, and removal was sometimes the only way to deal with such a situation. He tapped his umbrella on the floor during John’s apology, and he turned to Greg, who refused to add anything of merit to the situation. Very well. He’d simply need to deal with matters in his own way, which involved jumping miles ahead of Sherlock and simply waiting for his brother to eventually catch up when he was done pirouetting in emotional circles of inefficient emotion. “Gentlemen,” he said, his disapproving gaze lingering on the Detective Inspector longer than on the others. Greg was a member of the police force, and he expected a report from him when he asked for one. John was always a weak link, in Mycroft’s mind, a pet, as it were, for Sherlock. And Sherlock was, and always had been, Sherlock. “Good day.” And with that, the umbrella tapped on the floor, and Mycroft left the room.
As John recounted his time spent with the stranger, Lestrade had redressed, fingers pushing the buttons through the holes in his shirt, a faintly surprised look coming to him as Mycroft took his leave. For a moment, he simply stared after the elder Holmes, feeling the way that gaze had lingered on him, and then he turned back towards Sherlock as he slipped his arms into his overcoat, letting it settle again on his shoulders. “He said that I was a monster, like he was,” he added to the description. “And he seemed unsure of what he was doing, as though he were practicing for something bigger. Entirely detached from the situation, however. Like a child, I thought. Immature.” He let out a sigh, looking back over towards John for a moment. “Let’s let him get some rest, Sherlock. He quite deserves it, I think.” In other words, there was likely little more to come from this conversation with the state John was in. The wounds too raw, too open.
As John appeared to be deliberately avoiding his gaze and unlikely to supply anything to forward action on this case, Sherlock had stopped paying attention to the words passing through the room, caught up in his own thoughts and playing out avenues of action that were all thoroughly useless. Obsession was quickly taking him over, as it always did when there was a question he could not answer, and people quickly became obstacles to success. Yet he looked up, and eyed John once more, his expression naked in its unfocused uncertainty. The look lasted for a tenth of a second, and then abruptly he nodded, as if in agreement to Lestrade’s suggestion. Without even a farewell, Sherlock strode out of the room and pursued his brother out into the lobby.
John watched as the brothers left his room, and with the sudden quiet and reduction of crowding, he tried to relax back against the pillows again. It was a difficult prospect, the sharp aches setting in even farther. He closed his eyes again, lines deep on his face, and sighed a long breath. “Thank you,” he murmured, not even sure if Lestrade was still in the room, but allowing himself to drift back into something between unconsciousness and true sleep.