Title: An Isolated Apology
Author: Rusty Armour
Characters: Lestrade, Sherlock, John
Rating: PG-13 (for language mostly)
Word Count: 1,382
Summary: Even Sherlock can sometimes recognize when he’s crossed the line, especially when a friend’s health is involved.
Spoilers: Sherlock in general, I suppose.
Notes: This was written as a fill for the following prompt at ariadnes_string's RUNNING HOT: A Multi-Fandom Fever Fic Comment fic meme, which I discovered through fengirl88's LJ. I have revised the story since originally posting it, but it still hasn’t been beta’d or britpicked.
Disclaimer: With great power comes great responsibility. Thankfully, I have neither. Sherlock and its characters are owned by other people, though I feel fortunate to have been allowed to play in this wonderful sandbox.
"God, this is so bloody typical of you, Sherlock!" John shouted. "Even after everything that's happened, you still don't believe you've done anything wrong!"
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "I got a result, didn't I? I solved the case."
"And exposed us to a dangerous pathogen in the process!"
Sherlock sighed. "I'd hardly call it dangerous, John. Besides, we've been in here for nearly six hours and none of us are exhibiting any symptoms."
"Yet," John said. "None of us are exhibiting any symptoms yet."
"Well, surely if it hasn't happened yet – "
"For the love of Christ, will you please shut up!"
Sherlock and John turned towards Lestrade in surprise. He hadn't spoken for so long that they'd almost forgotten about him.
Lestrade shifted against the pillows he’d propped up against the headboard, wiping another bead of sweat off his brow. Those two were like an old married couple, bickering for the sake of bickering. Maybe it was their version of foreplay, in which case Lestrade definitely did not want to hear it. "Look, it's stifling enough in here without the two of you adding more hot air, okay?" Lestrade closed his eyes, hoping that would be an end of the discussion, even if it were just for five minutes. He heard a creak from one of the beds and assumed that Sherlock had resumed his restless pacing. Then he flinched and his eyes flew open when he felt a cool palm on his forehead.
John was standing over him, a concerned frown creasing his face.
Lestrade glared at him. “What?”
"You have a fever," John said.
"No. Seriously? Shit." Lestrade groaned and sank further into his pillows. It looked like their 48-hour period of isolation had just been extended. Perfect. Bloody perfect. “I’m sorry. I know you hate being stuck here.”
“Why are you apologizing? This isn’t your fault.” John shot a pointed look at Sherlock, who was too busy studying Lestrade to notice.
“Should you be standing so close to him?” Sherlock asked. He almost sounded worried.
John ignored Sherlock and leaned over Lestrade to adjust his pillows. “You should lie down properly, Lestrade. You might feel better.”
I doubt it, Lestrade thought, but he just didn’t seem to have the energy to fend off John as he fussed over him.
The next few hours passed in something of a blur. Medical personnel wearing respirators, gowns and gloves had descended on Lestrade, but there was little they could do other than administer a dose of paracetamol. Unfortunately, the paracetamol seemed to have no effect on Lestrade as his temperature rose higher and higher. He was occasionally aware of cold compresses being applied to his forehead and chest, and a voice that sounded like John's speaking softly to him, but little else. Then he felt a cool hand on his cheek and was greeted by a comforting presence from his childhood.
She was smiling and her eyes twinkled in the same way they always had. Still, Lestrade couldn’t help thinking that he shouldn’t be seeing her for some reason. Then, as he couldn’t remember what that reason might possibly be, he dismissed the idea.
Lestrade wasn't sure how much time had passed when he looked up with bleary eyes to find Sherlock looming over him. He blinked, wondering how she’d managed to transform herself.
"Who were you speaking to just now?" Sherlock asked. "You were muttering, so it was hard to understand you."
"Sherlock!" Now John had shoved his way into Lestrade's field of vision, pushing Sherlock away with more strength than Lestrade would have given him credit for. "Sorry about that. Sherlock's an idiot, but I suppose you knew that. If you hadn't suspected it before, you must be painfully aware of it after today." John lifted Lestrade's wrist, taking his pulse.
Lestrade gazed up at John curiously, wondering who he might really be, or who he would end up being next. "It was my gran – before she turned into Sherlock. She said if I was very good, she'd take me to the Grand Pier."
John smiled and set Lestrade's arm back on the bed. "Well, that's lovely. I'm sure you'll have a super time."
Sherlock snorted. "His gran's been dead for years."
John's smile grew a bit strained. "That doesn't matter, Sherlock." He patted Lestrade's hand. "You just try to get some rest, okay?"
"Promise not to turn into Sherlock?" Lestrade asked.
John's lips twitched. "I promise."
When Lestrade next woke, he was initially relieved not to be burning up anymore. However, the relief was short-lived when the delicious coolness became uncomfortably cold -- so cold that his teeth began chattering. Lestrade hugged himself and tried to stop shivering. He wasn't in that state for long before he felt the blankets on the bed being pulled over him. He reached up to tug the blankets tighter around him, but, after a few minutes, he was still shaking just as hard. Then, the mattress dipped, and someone climbed into the bed beside him. Before Lestrade could protest, there was a wall of heat against his back, and a pair of strong wiry arms wrapped around him.
"No, not John." The voice was deeper and infuriatingly smug. Must be Sherlock, then.
"Wh-what are you d-doing?" Lestrade attempted to struggle out of Sherlock’s embrace, but the arms wouldn't budge.
"You haven't stopped shivering, even with the blankets," Sherlock said. "I'm trying to warm you up."
"Wh-why? Am I dis-disturbing you?" Lestrade tried to raise his head to look around. "Where's J-John? Is he s-sick too?"
Sherlock sighed. "No, he's asleep. Apparently, he can't go more than a couple of days without sleep before crashing. It's terribly inconvenient."
Lestrade fought a wave of panic and failed. "D-days? We've been h-here that long?"
"No, it's only been about fourteen hours," Sherlock said. "Up until forty minutes ago, John had been awake since the case first began."
Lestrade quickly did the sum in his head. "But th-that was almost three d-days ago."
"Oh. Yes, I suppose it was." Sherlock pulled Lestrade closer. "Your teeth are still chattering. You should concentrate on conserving body heat and be quiet, Lestrade."
Lestrade started slightly at the sensation of Sherlock’s warm breath at the back of his neck. Sherlock must have assumed the reaction was due to the chills because he began rubbing Lestrade’s arms. It was quite nice, though rather disturbing coming from Sherlock.
"Why are you doing this?” Lestrade asked. “It c-can't be guilt."
"As I've already told John, I don't see why I should feel guilty for my actions," Sherlock said. "I solved the case: that's what's important."
"Hmm. Okay. Whatever you say, Sherlock." The shivering had become less intense, so Lestrade thought Sherlock would return to his own bed and the conversation would end. Of course, once again, Sherlock had to prove him wrong.
“I honestly thought that a man of Palmerston’s intelligence would have enough sense to store his experiments properly,” Sherlock said.
As Sherlock was a genius who invariably left his experiments in his fridge and other household appliances, Lestrade was surprised that Sherlock hadn’t considered that possibility.
Sherlock sighed as if reading Lestrade’s thoughts. “You do know that I would never have deliberately exposed you to the pathogen, don’t you? I mean, I realize I’m a high-functioning sociopath, but – ”
“Really?” Sherlock sounded hesitant and unsure. In other words, he didn’t sound like Sherlock at all.
Lestrade squeezed Sherlock’s hand. “Yes. Really.”
“Well…all right, then,” Sherlock said.
“Good.” Lestrade nestled deeper into his cocoon of blankets and consulting detective. Now that he was feeling warmer, he was finding it much easier to fall asleep. He was just starting to drift off when he heard Sherlock speak again.
"Of course, I do regret what happened to you. I should have realized that a man your age might have a more fragile constitution."
Lestrade allowed that comment to hang in the air for a moment, before jabbing Sherlock viciously in the ribs with his elbow.
"Fuck!" Sherlock cried.
Lestrade glanced over his shoulder at Sherlock. "Would you like to try that again?"
"I'm sorry I exposed you to a dangerous pathogen," Sherlock grumbled.
Lestrade smiled and closed his eyes again. "I forgive you."