Title: A Second Opinion
Author: tarotgal
Rating: PG-13
Warning: Set after Series 2 and before Series 3. There is angst.
Summary: John isn’t coping too well with the loss of his friends—plural.
Notes: Written for tinadp’s birthday. Happy birthday, my dear! This is my gift to you today. I intended to write some Sherlock fic for your birthday but it went a whole lot darker than I’d intended. Oops! I hope you don’t mind, once you finish reading.


After Sherlock’s death, John hadn’t been able to avoid his friends, even when he’d wanted to. Some days, peace and quiet alone with his thoughts had been the only thing on his mind. A doctor calling in sick was a pretty big deal, but no one called him on it. He started getting his groceries delivered rather than risk another confrontation with the check-out machines, but no one mentioned it to him. Friends—even Mrs. Hudson—came around less. Then they began to ring less. Until all day, every day, John was alone in the now quiet flat he had once shared with the great consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. And John grew to believe that was what he deserved.



A Second Opinion


So it came as a surprise one day when his phone buzzed with a text message. John nearly jumped at it and even thought about ignoring it altogether. But his finger swiped across the bottom to unlock it before he could stop himself. It was from Greg:


John stared at the message for a long while before typing a reply:


A case. John couldn’t imagine what sort of a case Lestrade would need to consult him on. The department had a dozen or more on staff with medical training sufficient to identify anything that John could. Unless…


Unless this was something to do with Sherlock. Some bit of evidence that he wasn’t dead? Maybe something he left behind… something triggered by the passage of time, revealing itself only to those who’d waited patiently, loyally for the answer. Yes, that had to be it.


When he heard footsteps on the stairs outside, John practically flew to the door and pulled it open.


Greg stood there, scarf wrapped around his neck three times, melting snow dusting his hair, brow furrowed. “Good God, man. You look awful,” he croaked.


“Much like you sound? Come in, come in,” he ushered Greg in at once. John had tidied up in the weeks since Sherlock’s death, and there was at least a couch to sit on now, but that was more than could be said for the rest of the furniture, so they both sat on the couch. “Are you feeling quite all right?”


Greg shrugged. “I don’t…” but he didn’t get the chance to finish as he was too busy wrestling a handkerchief out from under his coat and plastering it to his face. “hr’Chxfffff!


“Bless you.” John stretched his arm out and patted the inspector’s arm through the bulky coat.


Greg sniffed and cleared his throat three times before proceeding. “I’ve come about this case I… I ran… I… I-hhhihh… excu… ehh’CHFfff! H’ChIHFfff! h’Shfffff!” Immediately he put his hand to his forehead and closed his eyes.


John knew the meaning of that look. “Here, now.” He took hold of Greg and turned him. With just a nudge and a firm grip, he lay the inspector down on the couch. “Stay like this until the dizziness passes. I’ll go make us some tea.”


It had been ages since John had made tea for two. He couldn’t even remember the last time Mrs. H had asked him over. But there was some good to be found in the routine task and a smile on Greg’s face when John came back with the cups on a tray. He sat up to drink and didn’t get dizzy again, at least not so John could tell.


“How long?” John asked about halfway through the cup.


Another evasive shrug that told far more than it hid.


“You didn’t come here about a case, did you?”


“What? No, of course I did. I… I-hah… I wah-wanted to-ehh-heh-hehhh-huhh-HFfsfffffff!


“Bless you, Greg.” John set his tea down. “That hanky looks spent. How about I get you some tissues and some zinc lozenges. Are you taking paracetamol?”


Greg shook his head.


“Well no wonder you’re so miserable. Hang on then.” He rounded up the items and returned to the drawing room to find Greg lying down again, hand covering his eyes.


“I saw a doctor a few days back,” Greg said, his voice cracked roughly, and he coughed again.


John eased a cushion under his head. “But you came by for a second opinion?”


Of course, this was met with another shrug.


John made a showing of rolling up his sleeves. “Well, in my expert opinion as a doctor, DI Lestrade, you need hot tea, plenty of rest, and someone to make sure you get both.”


Greg’s fingers parted, and he looked up at John through them. “And that’d be you?”


John hesitated. He looked up then around the room. It had been a long time since he’d looked after anyone, and that hadn’t worked out well in the end. He’d opened himself up. He’d cared. He’d believed. And Sherlock had died.


“Some advice, John? From a friend?”


John felt his cheeks grow warm, but he nodded and bravely looked back at Greg.


“You could use a second opinion yourself. ‘Cause what happened wasn’t your fault. And none of us blame you.”


“You weren’t there,” John said softly. “You can’t know—”


“I’m a detective. I know. And I’m your friend.” He pulled tissues from the box and honked his nose into them. “A friend with one hell of a cold. Did you say something about throat lozenges?”


John chuckled and insisted the man stay for dinner. Greg insisted they go out for a curry instead.