John woke up hot and groggy, still in his shoes and coat. He must have fallen right to sleep; he didn't remember even coming up the steps. He wiggled out of his coat and top jumper, folded them both and then realized his bag was missing. There was a moment of fluttering panic, his kit and his Grey's were in there before he remembered that Sherlock was Sherlock. Still, he wanted a wash. He reached for his back waistband and checked first his gun, and then his mobile. It was a stupid place for it, but he didn't have a lot of hiding places on a body this small.
"Sherlock!" he shouted at the hall to Sherlock's room. "Put my clothes out in the hall!" He needed a better place for his mobile. He ran up the stairs, to the empty room upstairs, his old room. The room was as bare as he had first found it. The old sturdy bedframe, the plain wood wardrobe to make up for the lack of a useable closet space, the blocky beside table and the small square window, all unchanged; not a scratch or mar to be seen as made by one John Watson. There was a space between the mattress and the heavy bedframe that he had hid his gun in when he was an adult, he could hide his mobile there now. Well, not now, Sherlock would likely rip his room apart at the seams, he could hide his mobile there later. He turned on his phone and then sat on it to muffle the sound of it starting up. Jumping nervously at the sound of a door opening and closing downstairs.
After nothing happened he rolled to the side to get a look at his messages. Two from Davey that made him frown a little, then smile. Davey would do no such thing and Rooster needed to keep his brace on his arm if he wanted the break to heal properly. Knowing Rooster he had probably set upon the Velcro and having discovered a loose edge had begun to pick at it with his usual abandon.
Today, or maybe tomorrow. –JW John sent back.
He was reading a text from Sherlock when his phone buzzed in answer.
Today. Bailey is in right fits after you had his crew sent off to hospital.
John scowled at his phone before texting, Rather they live, I need to check up anyway.
Don't care, I'm busy. Want this managed, I don't run a daycare for idiot children. John laughed, Bad Davey didn't mean that by half, John had heard much worse. But it wasn't a good place for Rooster to be with Davey's associates in and out.
I'll take care of it.
Be a love and delete all these messages after this one.
John frowned down in a little puzzlement at his screen; the only time that would matter was if someone found his mobile. He wasn't planning on letting that happening though. Was Bad Davey worrying about him now too? Really worrying, not just the bluffing he usually pulled off? John knew what he was doing and bristled at the idea Bad Davey might think him incompetent, but did as he asked anyway. Typing through with grumbling obedience, John deleted the conversation from both sides, and then to be safe, all of his conversations with Bad Davey.
After that he read Sherlock's text, it ran on the theme from both Mycroft and Sherlock. Granted, if picking someone to tend a child, Sherlock wouldn't necessarily be first choice. But Sherlock wasn't alone, and John wasn't a child. He couldn't keep answering the same question.
You're what he needs. -W he typed up with a little bit of irritation. He set the text to delayed for fifteen minutes when he'd be downstairs and less suspect to having sent the text himself, set his mobile to silent and slid it back into his back waist band. When he came down the stairs again there was no one around, all his clothes had been put outside Sherlock's door. He had lost any embarrassment about other men seeing his underwear somewhere between rooming with Mike Stamford at uni and the Army. Mike threw some truly wicked parties. He just crouched there and sorted through until he found some clothes that didn't smell too badly and sorted the rest to be washed. It was unique and adventurous to be back at 221B and to do things as simple as take a bath or wash his clothes in a washing machine. There was a foreign wonder at the expediency of it.
"What were you doing upstairs?" Sherlock called through the door.
"I'm not living on your sofa; for one thing you spend most of your life swooning on it."
There was a highly affronted silence from Sherlock's room. John could picture his face, the way he pulled himself up to monumental heights like an outraged peacock, he giggled into his sleeve. "Try not to tear up too much of my stuff."
"It'll be fine," Sherlock said, but John was suspicious of his tone.
"I mean it Sherlock. Be careful with my Grey's, it's important to me."
John was too short for a shower so he filled a bath, very hot and scrubbed himself pink and glowing then cleaned out the ring. Even his cleanest pair of clothes itched on his freshly clean, smooth skin. When he came out he pulled on socks and boots and pulled his clothes into a plastic shopping bag and took them all downstairs to scrub at and throw into the washing machine.
While they washed he went upstairs and fried himself an egg. The milk had gone bad so he went down stairs to borrow a glass. He read the paper and began to laboriously write the Adventure of the Iron Crate in his journal. At ten Sherlock emerged from his room, bare feet pattering across the carpeting. He came in to the kitchen to look at him and told John to make him toast, John's bag slung over one arm. He watched John push over a chair and climb up it to reach the toaster; he seemed to be taking a peculiar pleasure in watching John do something as simple as make toast. Watching John be self-sufficient and self-contained.
"How did they teach you medicine?" Sherlock asked, setting John's bag on the floor and sliding it regretfully forward with his foot like he was in a ransom drop.
"Repetition," John said, watching the toaster. "Study. Lectures, Hands on practice. Stuff you'd find in any normal medical school."
"How do you know about normal medical school?"
John gave him a look, "I had a normal sort of medical school education. And I watch telly."
"You watched telly?" Sherlock blinked in shock.
"What?" John gave him his what-are-you-on-about look.
"There is some debate about the advisability of children watched telly. Considering your tremendous potential, I was surprised that-" Sherlock seemed to be struggling with saying the next part.
How strange that making toast, in the kitchen, with Sherlock (like something out of a Cluedo game, he snorted gently to himself) was something new and special. A little like Christmas. Had that feeling of barely suppressed magic bubbling up at the corners like laughter, "Surprised that I lived the life of the masses?"
"Don't bunch yourself with that lot," Sherlock's face twisted in contempt.
"The masses are fine Sherlock, they're generally lovely in fact."
"You obviously haven't met them," he said in his lifted superior way.
"I lived with 'them,' the parts of them that no one wants anyway. Some would say the worst."
"You wouldn't," Sherlock said.
"No," John caught the toast as it POPed and put it on a plate. Poured tea into a cup and poured in sugar. "Evil is impossible to miss when you see its real face. Bad Davey can cut and poison and sell to his heart's content, but if you strip it all away he's just a man, a little too wild and clever who loves his brother."
"You're too sentimental," Sherlock complained.
John climbed nimbly off the chair wondering to himself if all children were this flexible, when did people stop being able to bend like this? "I'm glad you didn't trade me for cocaine," he quickly amended. "Not that I'm yours to trade."
"I wouldn't," Sherlock said irritable and yanked the plate of toast out of John's hand.
John laughed, a little pleased huffing sound reminiscent of some small amenable creature tucked into itself pleasantly. He really was self-sufficient, he had always had to be, someone had to feed Harry. Sherlock was observing his self-sufficiency over the edge of his teacup with annoyed curiosity. It was curious to John that his climbing on chairs and cooking breakfast should be so curious or strange. "I told you I could take care of himself," he said as he started cutting his egg with the side of his fork so the yolk ran out thick and gold. "Except last night apparently, I must have really been tired, I don't even remember climbing the stairs."
Sherlock just grunted and ate his toast ferociously, John laughed again, pleased.
"Thank you for making sure I didn't tumble down the stairs anyway. Oh, and speaking of our ginger friend-"
"Your ginger friend," Sherlock corrected. "I have only met untrustworthy gingers."
"I need to go see Bad Davey today," he continued as if uninterrupted.
"Why?" Sherlock complained.
"I need to visit him, his brother too. And Bailey. It wasn't that long ago someone tried to blow my friends up, I want to visit them."
"I'm more interesting," this was apparently all the argument Sherlock thought was necessary. John gave him a look, left it at that and fetched his bag from under the table. "I want to teach you things today."
Sherlock was trying, he was going to try, John's heart felt big and spongy with happiness.
"I'll be back by one. At the latest. I promise," he nodded pleasantly, calm and British.
Sherlock snorted and ignored him other than to yell down to him from the top of the stairs, "Don't forget a key, I'm not letting you in if you forget it."
John grinned to himself, Sherlock sounded like Bad Davey
Bad Davey, once John had entered his faux-flats and wandered down the labyrinth to Davey's little underground office cave, was pleased when he arrived. He smiled in that smirky way of his, rolling a shot gun shell back and forth under his long fingers, chin propped up on his other fist, reading something. "Finally. Fratricide."
"Nah," John slurred at him and Davey rolled his eyes and slapped the book closed. It was, John discovered as soon as he sat up at Davey's desk, a dentistry textbook. The office had changed a little bit, the two tall lamps behind Davey had been replaced, and all the little bits of stationary and pencil holders had been shifted around slightly. The cushions on his in office sofa were also missing, but John knew why. Davey was still looking too pale, his skin too flat, and there was a plaster just peeking out of the pristine white of the rolled up sleeve of his dress shirt. His braces, a pair of deep ruddy brown cut lines, razor straight across his chest, his jacket curiously missing; he looked like any posh businessman if you didn't look at his face. "Have you been resting? I'm sure you're aware that what people are supposed to do after getting shot is rest." He distantly remembered having a similar conversation with Sherlock once.
"Guess I'm not people," Davey sniffed. "Got a transfusion to fill me up again. No problem."
"Davey," John pinched the bridge of his nose. "You were shot, in your hip."
"And I have other things to worry about," Davey snapped back at him. But he stayed in his seat, didn't surge up and loom over John as he did sometimes when he got his back up.
"Are you even on pain medicine? I could prescribe you something that won't cloud your head up if you want."
"Don't worry Johnny, you're always worrying. You ever been shot?"
"Yes," John said watching the way Davey's head tilted at him in appreciative surprise. "And there's risk of infection and tearing the tissue. That will not be so fun for you, I promise. I saw a man rip his wound open because he wouldn't stay down."
"Fine, fine," Davey said, looking more tired than he had before. He slapped the textbook in front of him irritably. "You be sure that bleeding heart of yours doesn't bleed out."
"I'm fine Davey," he sighed irritably.
"That's what I said, and look at all the trouble you gave me, you're lucky I don't care about you or we might row."
"Is that a book on dentistry?" John raised an eyebrow, or at least attempted to do so.
Davey rolled his eyes, "Roost discovered the human head and now he wants to learn about teeth. Roost," he called out with the air of someone about to do a trick that might be darkly amusing, "I don't actually have all day to wait on you."
The door to Davey's small in office closet slowly opened; only lacking a dramatic creak. Like any child caught reading past their allotted time, Rooster was curled up in the dark, Davey's coat curled around his light shoulders, and a torch raised to help him read a thick floppy book that bore a colorful cut away of a brain perfectly haloed in torch light.
"All he wants is medical texts," Davey told John in a voice that implied he was near to violence. But his mouth was turned up slightly at the corner, and his eyes were trying very hard not to be amused before going hard and irritated again.
Rooster blinked rapidly at them. Uncurling, pulling Davey's jacket tight around himself, Rooster scurried in steps like syncopation to wrap his long thin arms around John's shoulders in greeting.
"Hey," John grinned at him. "You alright?"
"Yeah, Bailey won't talk to anybody; he's speaking in tongues and disappearing. A guy who works girls in Whitechapel wants Mike's sister to come work for him, but I said Mike won't like that, but she's scared. He's a scary guy.
John didn't like that, didn't like that at all. She was too young to start being intimidated like that. No one would ever be old enough for it.
"Mike would do something, but he's in hospital. You should see him," Rooster tapped fervently against John's shoulder. "I bet he stole a Rolex from a doctor already. Davey won't let me go. Won't let me leave. Go see and tell me if he stole a Rolex yet."
"Okay," John said peaceably. "I will."
"I don't like that someone is pressuring her either," John said darkly.
"Don't go into a strop," Davey said, leaning back in his big leather chair, rolling the shell across his desk in between his two hands. "I had one of my people call the baby police."
"Baby police," John raised an eyebrow.
"The police for babies," Rooster grinned, the two brothers sharing a quick look of conspiracy. Then having quickly pressed his soft forehead to John's head in the easy, affectionate way he had, he walked around the desk to sit on the arm of Davey's chair. Steps that were light and electric, vibrating against the new expensive looking carpet on the floor of Davey's office, his fingers trembling like dragonfly wings in exploratory lines against the fine cut of Davey's lapel.
"Thank you," John nodded, formal and noble as a little comfortable knight.
"I didn't have to leave my nice comfortable chair you'll be pleased to know. Can't get comfortable any way, might as well be uncomfortable sitting up instead of on my back. Don't have the time to deal with Bailey's therapy anyway. Not my business," he sprawled back lazily in his chair, shifting to get his hip in a position where it wouldn't it wouldn't have pressure on it. John knew he likely wouldn't have bothered if not for Roost's safety and John's dark, pinched look. Bailey was convenient, but he wasn't Davey's the way that Roost and John were his. This was, in Davey's own way a gift of favour.
"I still do appreciate it, the effort."
"Mm," Davey smiled slightly, a brush of a lifted corner of his mouth. "Aren't you here to do something?"
"Of course," John took one last sip of tea and lifted up his kit up. "This would probably be better at a facility with equipment."
"No, it really wouldn't," Bad Davey said, leaning back while Rooster rested his head on his shoulder, fingers running one after the other in triple time against Davey's sternum. "When I get stupid rich I'm going to have an examine room built for him to bang around in. No safer doctor likely unless he decides to go straight," he reached up absently, just the once and scratched at Roost's hair before lowering his hand to his lap. "I'll have them built careful like though. No matter how scary you are, how tight the records, supply companies still have names and locations. The last thing you want are people knocking at your door when all your ribs have been snapped."
Someone who didn't know Davey, looking at his arrogant nonchalance at the fretful vying for attention from his brother, or observing his sprawling swagger might misinterpret his pointed disregard of his little brother was a mark of apathetic distaste. But no one touched Bad Davey unless he wanted them to, and there were a series of subtle tilts and slants in his sprawl that were welcoming, even a little affectionate in the way he was open to Roost. Encouraging his soft mutterings, the cataloguing of his muscles under Rooster's fingertips, for the quiet it was in his brother's brain.
Rooster needed categories, diagrams, anatomy text books to be able to face the world without trying to scrape his brain out in self-defense, vibrating at so high a frequency that he had regularly almost ripped himself apart. And Rooster wanted to understand his brother who was sharp edged and strange, incomprehensible and brassy.
"No," John said, listening to Roost murmur splenius capitis. "You wouldn't want that. I hear you haven't been wearing your brace Rooster," John said. He gently stepped up to them, pulling Rooster's arm straight. A quick tease around the edges of the industrial strength Velcro that kept on Rooster's medical brace to keep his broken arm healing nice and tight, showed the looseness from constantly picking at it.
Rooster slipped his fingers sadly between Davey's, his face pulled into a long melancholy shape. His impossibly cheerful face trying to perform something like a frown.
"Get off," Bad Davey said and shook his hand off once, gently.
"I want to."
John ignored them, the way Rooster sprawled against his brother's side, clinging, the way that Davey allowed it so very gently. It was clear that Rooster would have been a difficult child. A horrendously, nearly poisonously difficult child full of lightening and frantic, grabbing near-madness and Bad Davey standing all alone with a thousand toothy faces staring down at the two children.
"Off," Davey shook his hand as his he were shaking water off, ignoring the soft wounded sound Roost made. "I said, mind me."
Rooster finally let him go and settled for circling around Davey's shoulder again.
"You mustn't pick at your brace Rooster," John told him.
"It hangs on things," Rooster said and stared at John, "will you not live with me anymore?"
"I live with Sherlock now," John said gently, resting his hand on the heavy brace, nearly up to Rooster's bird light shoulder. "I'll come to visit, like I have today, your yearly check-up is in a couple weeks. You need to keep the brace on so your arm will heal."
"I can't move my arm," he whinged.
"Kind of the point."
Roost groaned and pressed his face to Davey shoulder.
"I know I know, horrible news. And while we're on the topic of horrible news…" he looked pointedly at Davey.
"What?" Davey snapped.
"I need to check your dressing," John crossed his arms, steadfast.
"I'm not taking my trousers off."
"You won't have to," John wheedled, "all you have to do is kind of push them down on the side. I'll tell you what I tell all of my patients. I'm a doctor; it's nothing I haven't seen before."
Bad Davey gave him a narrowed, peculiar look, "That would be a lot less disturbing if you weren't eight."
"It would be a lot less disturbing if I wasn't a doctor." John said, giving him back a softer version of his best army captain face, or what had become his Sherlock-you-(should)-know-better face. "I could go through the tragic steps which result from infected flesh going neurotic if you'd like, or you could let me get a look at your hip."
Bad Davey took a quick swing at him with his fist, but it was halfhearted and only served to highlight how relatively young he could be sometimes. When he wasn't filing suitcases with cocaine or using found weapons to revise his rival's faces. John dodged it easily, a quick twitch backward from the waist, a simple flex of his abdominals.
"Let me watch," Rooster said, the featherbrushing of his hummingbird fingertips was electric against Davey's geometric braces. "They'll like me better at school if I already know how to do things like this."
"Are you going to school then?" John smiled at him. Waiting on Davey's peculiar modesty as trousers were loosened and pushed down his hip, held precisely in place with one hand, revealing no more than necessary.
"Davey says I can go, he's going to send me to school and then I'm going to uni. I want to go to uni a lot. The people there are very smart and they know a lot. They're going to teach me lots of things." In his enthusiasm to see the neatly stitched wound leaned all his weight on Davey's thigh, the thigh attached to the hip where Davey was shot. Davey lurched a little, hissed, and shoved over Roost – away from the sharp lines of his desk – so he stumbled and nearly fell on the floor. Roost made a hurt, high sound at that and then John was in the middle of it getting them settled down and peaceable again. Close to it at least, Davey could never say sorry for anything and Roost, who was so used to thinking his brother was as nearly to perfect as one could get, was struggling with the compromise of belief and reality. In the end he delivered the crack of his knuckle to Davey's shin and a pinch to Rooster's shoulder and got one settled with a fresh bandage in his big chair and the other curled up on the cushionless sofa with his brother's coat pulled up around his ears.
"Try not to kill each other before I visit again," John groused, snapping his kit closed with more snap than usual.
Davey just grunted at him, settling in his chair and looking pale and drawn and angry and fretful. "Get him his book," he ordered listlessly, swinging one hand weakly. There was a faint line of sweat on his forehead, likely from the pain.
Because John was something a friend to them, because he understood a little, he stomped over to Davey's desk and grabbed it up. Davey leaned over him for a moment like the drooping limb of a willow tree and pressed what might have been a kiss to John's hairline. It was over too quick for John to narrow his eyes at it, to tighten up and ask what he was about.
"Get out," Davey said, waving his hand with a negligent apathy for politeness and human feeling that would put Sherlock at his worst to shame. "I'm tired of looking at you now."
John carried the textbook to Roost, who looked up at John with big, forlorn, startled eyes and held the book to his chest like a lovey. John smoothed his hair down gently, feeling obscurely comforted and beleagueredly affectionate in a way he hadn't since he first decided to invest his free time in the proper care and feeding of a Holmes.
John said nothing about the strange knife edge Roost and Davey lived on. The necessities that ruled their relationship; the way the safety that Davey, who was all crisp, edges and lazy lounging lines, dangerous without meaning to be, tried to enforce on his little brother. John tried to maintain a general air of avoiding a serious discussion of feelings (the sort that in the past led him to awkwardly patting the shoulder of his weeping girlfriends). A smaller one than the sentiment force fields of the Holmes brothers kept up at almost all times so they couldn't even say caring without adding something derogatory to the end of it. Now was not the time to ask Davey with his hard angry face if he was alright, if he wasn't wounded somewhere inside traced in the way he looked at the wall opposite to his brother, his eyes slipping and nails dragging across leather because of pain. If they were to talk about wounds at all it would be some place quiet and secret as the desert to give the wound the sacredness it deserved.
He looked at Davey, china white and fighting life with fury and Rooster curled up and electric and felt helpless as only a doctor or a parent could.
The visit to Mike went better.
Mike was slow and sleepy, reading an old battered romance novel with a swooning medieval maiden who had somehow acquired purple eye shadow and neon pink lipstick. "Don't worry," he slurred at John's raised eyebrow. His head dipping heavy as a millstone, every word was fighting its way out, "Don't worry, it's not smutty. Chapter ends before the good stuff starts."
"Too bad, you could probably use the pointers," John teased, although Mike only seemed to be a couple of pages in. His hand pressed the book open on the fluffy white duvet heavily, too medicated for precision.
"Ha," Mike said and promptly fell asleep sitting up, his chin drifting forward to rest on his chest.
John took the time to read over Mike's chart, fairly reasonable stuff; he rustled around his bag until he came up with his notebook and added the dates of Mike's vaccines and boosters. John had expected Mike to be barely conscious. Mike wasn't a complainer, but he had just been through a traumatic injury, it was general practice to keep patients as under as was safe first day out.. Everything else seemed in order The chart had just been put away and John had crawled up in his chair to wait and see if Mike would be up soon when the nurse came in wearing scrubs with sheep on them and a sock puppet through her belt. Pediatric nurses had much more freedom of dress, what the sock puppet was for he couldn't guess. She had more of a natural looking tan than most nurses, never mind most Londoners, managed and dyed white blonde hair. Her smile was large and sincere in a way that was immediately engaging.
"'ey then," the nurse said cheerfully, sizing John up. "Who's this then?"
"John," John said, shifting uncomfortably, "I just wanted to come and check on him."
"Good on ya mate," she smiled and gave Mike the general look over. "Mr. Wiggins," she said to Mike, easing him back against his hospital pillow fort. "Mr. Wiggins, time for me to check your battle scar."
Mike jerked awake groggily and smiled up at the nurse, her emergence seemed boost Mike's energy somewhat, "Adair, my mate. She's an Aussie John, from Australia and stuff," he turned his head sleepily toward John and blinked at him.
John looked at the nurses' board and saw the name Thompson there. "You're not on the board," he said.
Adair blinked over at John, "Smart then." Her face tilted slightly to the side in something approving and a little sad. "Stay smart. Kids like you should stay smart. Wiggs and I bonded last night, we has an understanding, ehh?"
Mike blinked sleepily at them and faded off.
"And Thompson is running a little late and my shift is over so I said I'd come and fix him up real quick. He's a good kid. It's a good thing he's got friends like you to check up on him. You got a friend? To take care of you I mean." John didn't take any offense at it, and instead of becoming more anxious he relaxed. These were the basic sort of questions medical professionals were trained to ask danger children.
"Yeah, I got plenty of friends," he cleared his throat. "How did you end up in London?" John asked politely, watching Adair pull on her gloves.
"Well, my family's all in the civil service, number crunchers and I decided to escape to England for a lucrative career in pediatrics before I could be trapped in a prison of accountancy. How you feeling Wiggs?" She was kind and no nonsense, her face soft and tired from the side as she pulled down Mike's gown to reveal the bandaging, his chest narrow, the bones only just hidden. Mike had fallen asleep again, barely stirring as she laid the gauze and tape and wipe packet out on the duvet. Adair gave him a serious, staring look. "You might want to look away; sometime wounds like this are scary."
John noticed the clock and did a little mental calculation. Time to go then to get back in time for lunch or Sherlock would be put out. "I've seen worse," he said absently, he reached out and squeezed Mike leg companionably. "I'll see you later Mike, I've got to get home."
He hurried out the door before Adair could ask any more questions.
Gregson – Have you been into the cold cases on my desk you nosy git? – Lestrade I love you too you paranoid woman. It was your poncy pet more likely than not. Ta. Nevermind then. He must have just forgotten to gloat. I'll just file them away. – Lestrade.
I love you too you paranoid woman. It was your poncy pet more likely than not.
Ta. Nevermind then. He must have just forgotten to gloat. I'll just file them away. – Lestrade.