diandrahollman: (sherlock)
[personal profile] diandrahollman
E-Mail: diandrahollman@gmail.com
Website: http://diandrahollman.neocities.org
LJ: http://diandrahollman.livejournal.com
Rating: R for this chapter
Keywords: Sherlock/OMC, Tom Hiddleston fancast, unrequited John/Sherlock, drugs, slash, Sherlock POV
Spoilers: nothing past season 3 and the special
Disclaimer: This started out as a sort of "50 First Dates" Johnlock story and morphed into this psychological "Girl on the Train"/"Before I Go To Sleep" fusion-ish thing. The characters are all from BBC Sherlock, except Henry.
Summary: Every day I wake up not remembering how I got here or who this man is who claims he's my husband. I cannot trust my own memory. There is only one thing of which I am reasonably certain: John Watson is dead. Isn't he?
Dedication: Thank you to Kate, Emilio and gin200168 for their invaluable help and support with this story.
Author's Notes: Henry is an amalgam of several characters from ACD cannon, with an original modern spin. In my little headcannon he is played by Tom Hiddleston. The title is from the story "A Scandal in Bohemia", where it refers to Irene Adler.

This diverges from cannon immediately after the beginning of season 4 and doesn't take into account anything after "Abominable Bride".

All previous chapters here or on AO3



Henry's disclosure of his hiding spot for the tablets turns out to not be the fortunate break I had hoped it would be. Instead of a bottle with some sort of markings, I find a plastic container used for sorting medications taken on a daily schedule. There are tiny partitions for "AM" and "PM" doses on each day of the week. Each slot from Thursday PM on through the week-end contains a single tablet.

There is a certain logic to this, I console myself. An amnesiac can't well be trusted to follow a prescribed regimen any more than a patient with Alzheimer's. The risk of over-dose would be too great. If my memory retention has only recently grown to a full twenty-four hour period then I probably still cannot be fully trusted to remember how many pills I've taken on any given day. Except I wouldn't remember to take the pills at all if Henry didn't remind me. I wonder if he has them sorted like this for this exact scenario - so I can take them myself and he can still be assured I will follow the schedule.

Regardless, while it will be easy for me to hide tonight's tablet without Henry's knowledge, I cannot remove any more tablets from the container without him noticing the absence.

I am determined to see this experiment through however, so I hide the Thursday PM dose and the tablet I found in the linen cupboard in my microscope slide box and note everything in my private journal.

There are several possible solutions to the puzzle my life has become, all stemming from two main hypotheses. The first: my rare condition is real and the drug really is an experimental nootropic designed to treat it. As tempting as it is to dismiss this idea, it makes the most sense based on the data I have collected so far. The second hypothesis: my condition is actually *caused* by the drug, whatever it is. But to what end? What could Henry possibly hope to gain from making me believe I have amnesia?

I can find little more information on Henry. After his humanitarian tours in Africa he settled back in England. He was working A&E at a hospital in London when I had my accident. The rest of his story is in my notes. Aside from one drunk and disorderly charge and one dismissed charge of impropriety from a patient that was clearly more rooted in homophobia than reality, he is entirely, unimaginatively clean.

I check the police records and find an accident matching Henry's description from earlier today. It seems a tire came off a lorry, causing it to swerve dangerously. At least three other cars were involved. One victim died at the scene. Five others were taken to hospital in varying conditions. I wonder, idly, which one Henry is treating. From the tension in his voice, I would guess his patient is one of the more critical ones.

It is getting late and I am not certain how much longer I will have the luxury of privacy. I wrap up my notes in the secret journal and return the memory stick to the hive. Then I return to the file on the desktop and carefully construct a narrative that frames my research into Henry as simple curiosity.

I affix the label Lillian designed to the jar of honey and hope that it will be enough to guide me to the memory stick tomorrow should my experiment fail and my memories of today vanish.

I need to think. I'm pretty sure I saw a violin in my study-cum-laboratory.

************

The violin, like so many things in my present life, is familiar despite clearly not being the one I had back at Baker Street. It is a fine, perfectly tuned instrument that I've no doubt I have made good use of in recent months.

I run through all the standards I have committed to memory. Beethoven, Mozart, Boccherini, Chopin, God Save the Queen. Anything that is so ingrained in muscle memory that I no longer need to concentrate on the fingering. This allows me to focus on more pressing matters.

The human mind is terribly unreliable when it comes to memory. Even my own superior intellect cannot necessarily overcome the natural tendency to conflate events, dreams and suppositions. Whether my condition is a real medical one or is artificially constructed by drugs, the effect is the same. I cannot trust my memories and I cannot draw anything concrete from either of my journals. Lillian's observations contain some noteworthy points, but are too clouded by her emotional biases to be of much use.

I need to filter out all the distractions and focus on the facts.

I was in an accident eight months ago. John was driving. I sustained a head injury. He didn't survive.

I am currently married to Dr. Henry Peters and living in Cressington Park. He makes sure I take a pill twice a day for purposes of which I am yet uncertain.

I don't trust Henry, but I don't fear him either. I am fairly certain I could overpower him physically if need be. The fact that I haven't, even after he hit me if the suspicions Lillian and I share are correct, suggests I've had no cause to.

I've threatened to leave him, yet I am still here. Like a child making hollow threats to run away from home. And why should I leave? There is nothing abhorrent about my life here aside from my inability to remember it.

Regardless of the outcome of my experiment, no matter what the pills are for, I don't doubt Henry's love for me. His devotion is irrational, certainly, but unwavering.

I am several measures into Bach's "Air" when I realize I am no longer alone. I turn to find Henry standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame, a glass of some amber colored liquor cradled in one hand.

"Don't stop," he protests softly. "It was beautiful."

His clothing is rumpled. His eyes are red-rimmed.

His patient died.

"How old was he?"

Henry huffs out a breath. "Late thirties. His wife is in intensive care."

About my age. Died of injuries sustained in a car accident, leaving behind at least one loved one.

I put down the violin and bow and cross the room to him, taking the glass from his hand and setting it on a nearby table.

I can feel his body trembling faintly as I kiss him. He makes a noise almost like a whimper, his hand cupping the back of my neck, but he doesn't try to take control.

He tastes like Scotch.

I slide my hands beneath the untucked hem of his shirt, smoothing over warm skin that shudders as he gasps against my lips.

He presses his forehead to mine, wraps his arms loosely around my shoulders. His breathing is uneven, as if he is barely holding back an emotional outburst.

"I don't know what I'd do if I lost you," he whispers.

I rest my hands on his hips, steadying him. He leans into me. I have no doubt if we stay here any longer he will simply sag to the floor.

"Should get you to bed," I venture.

He sighs, his alcohol-scented breath warming my cheek, but doesn't move.

I unwrap his arms and gently coax him up to our bedroom. He follows, docile, and allows me to remove his shoes and trousers without protest. When I slide my fingers under the waistband of his pants, however, he stops me.

"Let me just...wash up a bit."

The look he gives me is uncertain and soft and I realize that - perhaps for the first time in the months since my accident - *I* am the one taking care of *him*.

I cup his cheek, running my thumb delicately over his lips. They part instinctively and his eyes flutter closed. Lillian may be right in thinking him unpredictable, but he is far from dangerous. At least at the moment.

I debate confronting him about everything. Forcing him to tell me the truth. But I don't know yet what the "truth" might be. Until I know what those pills are and what they do, it is probably better to wait. Play the part and see where this all leads. Keep gathering evidence so when I do confront him I will have the complete picture.

"I'll just finish up my notes," I say.

He opens his eyes, looking slightly dazed. Then he nods, kisses my palm and pulls away from me, disappearing into the bath.

********************

I note as many details in my journal as I deem safe about Henry's return tonight and my deductions about his state of mind. I wish I could add more to the copy in the hive, but retrieving it now would be too risky.

'It is obvious that his efforts to save his patient today reminded him of treating me months ago in some oblique way, prompting him to contemplate the possibility of my death,' I write. 'This line of thought greatly distressed him and now he seeks comfort and reassurance from me that I am not sure I am adequately equipped to provide.' Because, more importantly, what he seeks is reciprocity of his love for me.

I save the journal and close the laptop, leaving it on the kitchen table as I return to the bedroom.

I spare a glance at Henry, laying on the bed with one arm draped over his eyes, before turning toward the bath to wash up myself. I brush my teeth even though I haven't eaten anything since breakfast (I needed to think).

The lamp on my side of the bed is the only light in the room. I hover beside the bed for a few moments, filing away details I can't be certain I will ever be able to access again. Henry is well muscled enough that I wonder when he finds time to work out. There's a light dusting of hair on his chest and below his navel, disappearing beneath the bedsheet draped across his hips. There are faint scratches and bruises along his body that mirror the ones on mine, the remaining evidence of what was apparently a very enthusiastic round of sex two nights ago. But other than an older scar on his abdomen, his skin is far more unblemished than mine.

I wonder how many times I have done this. Traced the contours of his body with my eyes, hands, lips. How many times have I learned exactly how to touch him to make him gasp or moan or even beg - only to forget it all?

He senses my stare and lifts his arm from his face, blinking up at me. He smiles, soft and genuine, and reaches for me in invitation.

I turn out the light, let my dressing gown fall to the floor, and crawl beneath the covers. He pulls me into his arms and kisses me gently, lazily. I let my fingers explore blindly, feeling his breath catch when my thumb grazes a nipple. He makes breathy, helpless noises as my lips explore his neck.

Sensitive. Responsive.

I have just slipped my hand beneath the sheet when he stops me with a firm grip on my wrist.

"Sorry. I don't think I can tonight, love."

Of course. He's probably too knackered for that. I rest my hand flat on his abdomen and settle into his side, my head resting on his shoulder. He tilts my head back with gentle fingers beneath my chin so he can recapture my lips. Then he sighs, presses his lips to my forehead, and settles with one hand covering mine and the other tangled in my hair.

I wait until his breathing deepens with sleep before carefully pulling away.

I lay on my back, watching the shadows move across the ceiling. I consider going out to the hive to retrieve the memory stick in case I'm proven wrong and relapse overnight. But that would only wake him and risk rousing suspicion. I can't disrupt the fragile trust he has in me. Not yet. Instead, I go into my mind palace and place my wedding ring on the music stand in 221b.

Then, with Henry's soft snores filling my ears, I relax and allow myself to sleep.


TBC
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