For Tilly


10. Part 2

~~She holds me while I have an honest-to-God sobbing breakdown of the sort that I probably ought to be embarrassed about, but somehow living with Sherlock’s perpetual detachment has left me remarkably unselfconscious about whatever it is that I feel myself. I’ve become an avatar for his humanity. I must express all the emotion that he suppresses, so I end up doing double duty.

I tell her about the pills I need, and about Sherlock’s plan. I half-expect her to object, but she just nods and offers her assistance.

“How long do you think it’ll be before he’s – had enough?” she asks, quietly.

I am holding a cold washcloth over my swollen face. I can’t go home looking like this. “I don’t think more than a couple of weeks. It’s going so bloody fast, Sarah. I first noticed he was having headaches just last week, for fuck’s sake.” I hear my voice cracking.

Sarah smooths the hair back from my temple. “I’m so sorry, John.”

“It isn’t fair. Why him?”

“Why anyone?”

“But he’s – we need him. People don’t know what he does, how much he does.” I scrub at my face with the damp cloth and let my head fall back to the couch. “I’ve got to get back. I need time off work. He shouldn’t be alone. He may need medical help at any time.”

She shakes her head. “Of course. But that isn’t why.” I just look at her. “It’s okay to admit it.”


“That you want to spend as much time with him as possible before the end.”

My lip trembles again. The end. The end of him. God, it can’t be true. “I thought there was all the time in the world.”

Sarah hugs me again and I cry some more. I feel silly but it’s best to get it out now. I can’t do this in front of Sherlock.

And she’s right. As soon as I’m back home, I won’t be leaving his side again.


He works. I don’t go to the surgery. We take case after case. He doesn’t sleep, so neither do I. I catch quick naps when he’s taking a bath, or when he’s busy with something I can’t help him with.

I take Lestrade aside and quietly explain the situation. He looks stricken, but he pulls it together quickly. I promise to let him know when the decision is made. I do the same for Angelo. I know that he’ll spread the word.

Sherlock is adamant that we not tell Mrs. Hudson. For once, I agree. If we do, we’ll never keep her out from underfoot. We’ll wait until it can’t be put off any longer.

Sarah brings me the pills. Two pills, white and smooth. I keep them on me at all times. He will not take them without my assistance, and it’d be like him to grow frustrated and just say to hell with it, swallow them down in a fit of pique, and the notion of coming back from the shops and finding him – well. I keep the pills on my person.

For a few days he seems no worse. Then, that tightness in his face that signals a headache stops going away with the painkillers I give him. He stumbles now and then. I stand closer to him when we’re out at crime scenes.

One week after his diagnosis, I find him throwing up in the bathroom. He is pale and sweaty. I give him some compazine and it seems to help.

That day he has his first significant aphasia episode. He stands there ready to lay it out, and suddenly the words won’t come. I see his jaw working, his eyes, his mind ready to show us how the clues fit together, and words won’t come to him. He looks up at me with panic behind his eyes, just barely visible behind the veil that always cloaks Sherlock’s emotional state, the veil that normally only I see behind, and then only rarely. “John,” he stammers.

“What’s that?” I say, pointing to something, anything not related to what he was about to say.

He looks away. “It’s a late-model Citroen.” And he takes a deep breath, comes back and is able to lay out his deduction for us. Sally is frowning. Lestrade sighs and we exchange a quick glance.

It’s starting.

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