Title: KEEP OUT… unless you want a cold!

Author: tarotgal
Fandom: BBC Sherlock; Spoilers for The Hound of the Baskervilles (S2x02)

Rating: G

Pairing: None
Disclaimer: I absolutely own none of these characters and the only compensation I get is feedback
Summary: Under normal circumstances, Sherlock likes trains.
Notes: Written just after my trip to the UK. I visited the 221B Baker Street Museum and I watched this episode 2.5 times on the airplane there/back. I also took 8 trains while on my trip. So, really, this fic was inevitable.


unless you want a cold!

John wakes with a start, rocking in his seat on the train. His head had been pillowed on Sherlock’s shoulder, and John is relieved to find he hadn’t drooled on his flatmate. At first, he figures that the train deserves the blame, but then he realizes the cars are moving smoothly over the tracks. No, he’s awake because of Sherlock.


Sherlock covers his mouth with a palm and then squeezes his nose with thumb and forefinger. He jerks in place. “h’fsh!


If given a few minutes, John is sure he could be back asleep.  The movement of the train is repetitive and sort of soothing.


But Sherlock snaps forward again, his arm bumping John’s side for a third half-stifled sneeze. “hihEFsh!


“Sherlock,” John says, sounding sleepy until he clears his throat. He tries again. “Sherlock, are you all right?”


The man shakes his head, sniffles into his hand then drops his hand to his thigh in frustration. “I am the very definition of not all right. I believe I’ve come down with a cold.”


That seemed rather quick to John. Unless… “How long was I asleep?”


“Three hours.”


Alarmed, John looks at his watch. “Thirty minutes,” he corrects, doing the quick math.


“Felt like three hours.” He pouts, crossing his arms over his chest and coughing.


“You said you loved trains,” John points out. “I believe your exact words were ‘the most sensible way to travel.’”


“I do. I would simply like them… beh-better if they were… f-faster.” His breath hitches and he pinches his nose again, to no effect. “Exttffff!” He sniffles terribly, presses the side of his hand to the underside of his nose, wipes lightly. Then he admits, “I need someone to look after me. Preferably a doctor.”


“So glad that I could be available for you then,” he says, rolling his eyes because Sherlock’s not watching as he retreats into his own misery. This is a far cry from being a field medic in the war or even making rounds at the hospital. “Where did you pick this bug up, anyway?”


“Well, as we haven’t come into contact with anyone obviously ill, one can conclude that I contracted this at the labs at Bah… Baskerville. ehpTCh!


John flashes upon the doctor mentioning their studies to cure everything from cancer to the common cold. And then he remembers that sign on the door to the lab. Sherlock must have spent quite some time in there setting up his experiment. The experiment using John as a guinea pig. The one that made John go absolutely out of his mind with terror.


“I catch cold trying to solve a case. Ironic.” He pouts.


“I wouldn’t call it that exactly.”


He sniffs wetly, coughs. “D’no?”


“No, I’d call it justice.” Grinning and stretching, John gets up and scoots out between the seat in front of them and Sherlock’s long legs.


“Where are you going?” He sounds young, needy, helpless, on the verge of panic.


“Café car.” Before he goes, he reaches up to the luggage rack for Sherlock’s bag. John pulls out the thick Belstaff coat he saw Sherlock stash there at the beginning of the ride. He drapes it over Sherlock’s front. “I’ll be right back. Stay warm and try not to sneeze too much while I’m gone.”


He doesn’t gloat as he walks down the aisle, touching backs of seats occasionally to steady himself in the rocking train. Some misery and being out of complete control will be good for Sherlock. But he’s pretty sure that the brunt of the misery will rest upon Dr. John Watson. He wonders, in fact, if that thirty minute nap will be his last chance to sleep for some time. This is one adventure that absolutely will not be going on the blog.


When he returns, Sherlock is squirming in his seat. His mouth is close, lips tightly pursed. His hand pinches his nose just as tightly. His chest rises and falls sporadically. He has taken John’s order to not sneeze quite literally it seems.


John sighs, leaning against the side of the seat. “Sherlock, sneeze if you must—”


At once, they burst forth. “Eptshh! H’ffsh! Uhgshttt! Uh-Hepshhh!” He switches hands as the sneezes seem to get bigger. Perhaps he has only gotten weaker, less able to restrain them. “Eh-Hehshhh! Ehptchoo! Ehktshhh! Hehshhoo! EhffTSchhhhhhh! Ehkxxshhh! Ughh…


John waits for the sneezes to subside, then squeezes past. He swivels the clip in front of his seat and sets the Styrofoam cup on the little fold-down table. Then he plops a thick pile of napkins beside that. He peels the top one off and covers Sherlock’s nose and hand with it. Some clever maneuvering later, Sherlock is wiping his drippy nose on one side of the napkin and his wet hands on the other side. When it’s done all it can, he balls it up in his palm and tries to hand it back to John.


Mildly revolted, John gestures to Sherlock’s coat pocket. The napkin is stashed and John hands over the cup.


“Coffee?” Sherlock’s voice sounds stuffy, rough, deeper than normal, but full of hope.


“No. Tea.”


“With sugar?”


“Honey. It’s better for your throat.”


Sherlock thinks this over for a moment, then gives in and takes a sip. He sniffles from the steam and takes a longer sip.


John settles back in his seat, watching the English countryside fly past. The fields are dark, muted. The sheep huddle together, thick wool marked with color splotches from their owners. The colors and scene begin to blend and blur and his eyelids slowly close.




The tea sloshes, drops spill onto Sherlock’s coat. Automatically, John reaches for a napkin, but Sherlock refuses it.


“Dod’t wadt to waste theb,” he says, with a sick man’s logic. He brushes the drops off, which more or less rubs the tea into the tweed fabric instead. Then he takes the offered napkin and folds it around his sharp nose, nostrils flaring wildly. He blows his nose thoroughly, startling himself with the gurgling wet sound. Then he slinks back in his seat and drinks, eyes closed, the picture of misery. “Johd,” he says after a while. “Dod’t you hab ady bedicides?”


“Back at the flat, yes. We were only gone a few days, I didn’t think I’d need—”


heh-KETChhh!” The sneezes are thoroughly uncontrollable, but Sherlock exercises restraint with the napkins, rubbing corners and sides, folding and unfolding, using every centimeter available to him. This is going to be a very long train ride at this rate.


“Bless.” John gets up again. “I’ll see what I can do.”


He returns twenty minutes later to find Sherlock asleep, face pale but cheeks flushed, head tipped back, napkin folded between his fingers. Labored breaths through an open mouth give way to an occasional snore. John decides to let him sleep. The cough drops and lemsip packets he bought off fellow passengers can wait.