Before I begin, can I just *where. Okay, ahem, thank you. Dr. Watson glanced at his watch, the brushed steel dulled and black leather well worn since his parents first bought it as a gift for having completed his first unassisted (minor, though it was) surgery all those years ago… Anyway. It was quarter to seven on date night, which meant he had half an hour to get home, get dressed and get to the Rajah’s Palace before Mary got annoyed. It was her favourite restaurant, because apparently the food was authentic, but in honesty Watson couldn’t taste much of a difference between that and what he had with a beer on occasional afternoons with Stamford. He blinked and shook his head, forcing himself to concentrate. Half an hour wasn’t enough to do all that, Hell. Maybe if they took the table in the corner lit only by a ‘romantic’ (fire hazard, more like it) candle she wouldn’t notice he hadn’t changed shirts, and he could head straight there… Wait, Mary never even saw him out of his pyjamas in the morning, because she’d left first to go to an early tutoring session!
A Sherlock AU were it turns out Sherlock has made up his whole life with John as a consulting detective while stuck in a coma caused by an overdose. The real John is just a kind doctor at the hospital that sits by Sherlock’s bed and reads him detective stories.
I need to read this
Yes please :D
Watson grinned. ‘Brilliant’, he said quietly, before casting an embarrassed eye down the corridor. Was this the sort of thing that he found exciting nowadays? Ridiculous. Thank God no one saw him. He turned to check the other way and was briefly, morbidly grateful that most of the patients in this section were unconscious and didn’t have to see things worse than a fist pumping doctor.
Indeed, through the slightly open door that Watson stood by, the man that resided within seemed to have his head turned to watch him, if only he weren’t in a coma and hadn’t been for almost three months. Watson placed his hand on the cold metal handle to pull it shut, but instead paused, and pushed it further open.
The private room had been somehow wrangled by a man that the doctor understood to be the patient’s older brother, though all that was known for certain was that shortly after the younger brother had been admitted in a haze of shouts and needles and Lestrade, he had stormed into the ward demanding - with a strained please, added as an afterthought though - to know what was going on… this time. The stoic Mr. Holmes – ‘Mycroft’ - had somehow then wrangled a private room in the notoriously crowded West wing, so for at least a few hours a day his brother could receive some weak sunlight, but Watson was still concerned about him having vitamin D deficiency.
The doctor paused before bed 13, that of patient 279, name Sherlock Holmes, studying the man’s ghostly pale face.
The slight hair loss and arrhythmia could all be due to the drugs - both the illegal ones Sherlock had overdosed on and the legal ones he’d been ironically put on in order to help recover him - but one of the nurses, Sally, had thrice pointed out that he’d recently developed an irregular breathing pattern.
'Look, I'm sure that's very observant of you, but he's been stable for over two months now and there's been no other change. Plus, I'm not even his principal doctor, why are you telling me this?'
'Because you're the one that's triggered the change!'
'Don't you notice, when you sit so close to him, reading from those little books? Or are you too engrossed in the thrilling escapades of the valiant Dr. Watson and eccentric Mr. Holmes?'
'Sally, what- I, you know I have to actually look at the page to read? I'm not a chameleon, I can't have one eye on the book and the other on Sherlock- the patient's chest!'
'Listen! Listen then! Maybe it's because you're only with him on evenings, but I'm around a lot more and I can tell you that patient 279 is the one I always have to make sure isn't dead despite the monitor, because he's the one that breathes deeply, slowly and quietly. The last five times you were here, he sounded short of breath and his chest almost strained at his gown.' Now that he had an extra twenty minutes before he had to leave, Watson decided to take a proper look himself.
There was nothing to see but a comatose man with sallow cheeks, thin, pale lips and a dark tangle of hair. He’d also suffered from muscle loss, so his abdominals weren’t even built enough that the hospital gown fit him, never mind strain under any heavy breathing. What was Sally talking about?
The doctor raised his line of sight to the clock on the wall. He still had fifteen minutes, which would be enough for at least a chapter.
‘Erhem. Joseph - Dr. Bell - recommended this one to me. It’s called ‘The Mystery of Monsieur Lecoq, by Emile Gaboriau.’
Watson rapidly blinked his eyes before opening the book. They burned from excess of concentration dedicated to the day which had passed like the shadows in an Autumnal garden: so slowly they were barely perceptible in the sun, but shifting with minor nuances of light so that suddenly the plants would seem the same grey as a watercolour sky. Where had this time gone? Watson did not know, but he knew that it had gone quickly. He rubbed the side of his crumpled face as he thought of the important events in his life: birth, school, trip around Europe (the best jam and cream scones are still British), Barts medical school, passing exams, Netley, Dad’s death, India, Afghanistan (what a bloody bad idea that was, disastrous), Mary, Barts but qualified, marriage, apartment (no dogs policy!), promotion… The images flicked in front of his minds’ eye slowly at first, akin to a child curling the plastic pages of a photo album and drawing them over to reveal the next twist in their history, but as the past neared the present Watson’s memories shortened and flashed by like the landscape as viewed from a train window. It was becoming a blur, a… bore. But he was a top (or near the top anyhow) doctor and surgeon, how could that be? He directed lives away from death on an almost daily basis, for God’s sake! On days when he wasn’t performing minor surgeries! Or teaching! What was more exciting than that? Just a few hours ago he had… Complained to a fellow that fewer and fewer critical or rare cases were being admitted and the ER might be downsized in order to reduce costs and death rates on technicalities. Fantastic.
Watson opened his eyes. Sherlock still lay there. Funding cuts had not taken him away.
‘Sorry about that. It’s been a long day. I’d better start- actually, might get a coffee beforehand, do you mind? Oh, wait, we’ve only six minutes left. I must’ve really drifted off there.’ Here Watson now drifted off again, observing the minute flutter of the skin on the patient’s lips as he breathed perfectly evenly, whilst the doctor sighed heavily.
‘Sorry. I’d best be off then.’ He stood and turned to gather his coat from the back of the chair.
‘Thankfully, I’m not in tomorrow and I’m seconding on two surgeries the day after, I think, so you and Mister Lecoq are going to have to wait until then - he untucked his shirt collar from his coat - but when I have time I’ll come back. I’ve got to be off now, bye!’
The heart rate monitor began to beep with urgent shrillness.
With his somewhat thoughtlessly impatient tone of voice, one could be forgiven for thinking that he was addressing his other half, if only there hadn’t been an edge of confusion to it.
Watson span away from the door to find Sherlock’s heart rate spiking. He grabbed screen and pulled it towards his face as though distance from the truth could have diminished it into a lie.
'What on earth happened?'
The patient’s chest was rising and falling rapidly. His doctor put his hand to his chest, grasping at the fabric to feel for any other irregularities whilst his other hand thrust through his med coat for his stethoscope.
'136 BPM? Nurse? Nurse! Can I get some help in here?' Nurse!' The urgency of his shouts strained Watson's vocal chords but drew the thumping footsteps of nurses' plimsolls on the linoleum corridor outside. Someone turned on the lights but their figure formed a new patch of darkness on the bed. 'What's happening?'
Watson shook his head frantically. ‘Ahm, I, I don’t know. I was just here and, and his heart rate just shot up.’ Firm hands drew him back. His frightened confusion had given him the role usually performed by a panicked relative: uselessly in the way. He pressed his eyes shut and forced himself to concentrate again, for just another few minutes. Come on, John. ‘It’s like a heart attack, but there was no trigger. I was leaving his room when I heard the monitor warning. What, what are you doing? He hasn’t even had any surgery. Administer- ’
At his sudden recollection of authority, the rushing nurses had paused and were now facing him attentively, but expectantly.
'Administer what, Dr.? We've got a defib., are you ready?' Said one.
'140 BPM, ah, 150 over 90.' Informed the other.
'No wait, uh…'
'Sir! Is the patient on anything like Tambocor? Rythmol?'
'No! I don't think so! I think he's actually on Dobutamine. So don't shock him yet, not on that charge.'
Watson dragged frantically through Sherlock’s charts.
'Dr. Watson, what do you mean you think he’s on Dobutamine? Isn’t he your patient?’ Bloody Hell, why was she being so demanding?
'I thought you were attending him?'
'No!' Watson met the nurses' stares. 'He's not my patient. But look, he' - he stabbed at the sheet - 'he is on Dobutamine. Ahm, switch the charge, you know what to do!’
'Charging… ' A nurse announced.
'Haven't you been assisting his doctors? This man hasn't even had any surgery, he's not my patient.'
'What?' Alerted by the shouting, a junior doctor had run in. Watson threw the charts at him before his shirt tails had even settled its flapping in order to check Sherlock's drip.
'He's a friend! Alright?'
Bewilderment and surprise (though more was yet to come) was evident on the otherwise already concerned faces of everyone present, not least Sherlock Holmes himself, who shot from the bed pillows with a somehow indignant gasp.