diandrahollman: (memory)
[personal profile] diandrahollman
E-Mail: diandrahollman@gmail.com
Website: http://diandrahollman.neocities.org
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.

All previous chapters here or on AO3

I am straining to make out the inscription on my ring, but the letters are hopelessly garbled. TS? Are those initials? J-o...John? A-m-or...is that an n?

"Poor Sherlock," Moriarty lilts, appearing beside me. "Not so clever after all."

I lash out in frustration, only to find nothing but empty air in the direction his voice emanated from moments ago.

I shake away the disorientation and continue typing, documenting everything and trying to predict the possible scenarios that could play out once Henry returns. Will he force me to take the tablet? Can I make him tell me what it does even if I will forget again tomorrow? TS. Why does that sound familiar?

My thoughts are tumbling over each other too quickly. Blurring. I can't tell what's real, what's a memory and what is wild speculation.

I research my symptoms, which the wisdom of the Internet identifies as any number of things between food poisoning and Lupus. Possible side effects of certain medications or symptoms of withdrawal from others. In short, they could be the result of me taking the pill, not taking the pill or having a heretofore undiagnosed and possibly terminal illness.

What if none of this is real, I wonder. What if I'm still trapped in that car with a head injury and I'm lost in my mind palace?

Okay. Clearly that last one is absurd. It sounds like the plot of one of John's ridiculous movies.

In a fit of madness, I attempt to call Mycroft. He doesn't answer, which is just as well. He would probably just assume I'm high.

I record as much as I possibly can on the memory stick and return it to the hive before the next wave of illness consumes me.

I am on the floor, my forehead pressed to something cool and hard. My face is burning, but my body is shivering.

I am on the floor of 221b. John is sitting beside me.

"This isn't a side effect. You are suffering from withdrawal."

"I know," I stammer through chattering teeth.

"You can't keep going like this. It could kill you."

"Don't th-think it's up to...me."

"Not entirely, no. But it might be easier if you don't fight him."

I roll on my back and frown up at John.

"Think about it. He said you were worse after the accident - the amount of time you could retain memory shorter. Your memory is improving and this is the second time in as many months that you have gone longer than twenty four hours without a relapse. Assuming the drugs are meant to *cause* the symptoms instead of treat them, the only reason that would be happening is if..."

"He's reducing the dosage," I finish. "He wants...to get me off-f the drugs, but he's afraid doing it t-too fast will kill me."

"He's probably right if this is a derivative of Benzodiazepine."

I groan and press my palms into my eyes. "But WHY. Why did he ne-ed me to forget in the first-t place? Who is he?"

"You know who he is," Moriarty's voice purrs. "You just don't remember."

I lash out blindly in his direction, this time feeling my fist strike solid flesh. The dark figure looming over me falls back with a yelp. I scramble in the opposite direction with the frantic intention of getting away. But I'm too tired. I can't think. I can't...

I stop fighting and everything goes black.

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

A man is singing an old folk tune. Something just short of a lullaby. His voice is soft and clear. I can feel the vibrations of it in his chest, beneath my cheek. I hear a whimpering noise that can't possibly have come from me and he stops.

"Are you awake, love," Henry asks gently, nearly a whisper. As if he fears disturbing me from my sleep.

"Mmm...s'nice..." I recall reading in my notes that my husband has a lovely singing voice. I wonder how often I've had chance to hear it. I try to shift in his arms, but my body feels leaden and something is preventing my arms from moving.

"Softly," Henry says. "Can you sit up?"

That seems to have been a rhetorical question as he unwraps the blanket he must have bundled me in, sets me upright and fumbles to unwind something from my wrists. He tied my hands with the sash from a dressing gown?

He lowers me to the floor, placing a pillow under my head, replacing the blanket and disappearing for a moment. I hear a cupboard open somewhere. Then his hands are brushing my hair from my forehead and inserting something plastic in my ear.

Aural thermometer, I realize when I hear a soft click and it is removed.

I finally manage to get my eyes open as he is readying some sort of equipment. I don't see what it is because I am too focused on his face and the angry red mark below his left eye that will doubtless turn into a bruise. That explains my tied hands. He couldn't trust me not to hit him again until he knew I was cognizant.

My focus snaps back to his hands as he rolls up my sleeve and wraps a rubber tourniquet around my arm. "No...what..." I try to sit up, but he presses me back down.

"Shh...it's all right."

He picks up a hypodermic and a bottle of medicine. I watch him draw the clear fluid into the needle with practiced efficiency, my mouth going dry. This is how he does it. He will inject me with the drug I failed to take willingly and I will forget all of this by tomorrow morning.

"No, don't..." I grab for his hands and try to wrest the needle from him. The sudden movement sets my stomach heaving and I get sick on Henry's shirt. There's nothing left in me but bile and it hurts to bring it up.

Henry wipes my face with a soft cloth and continues his efforts to reassure me that everything is "fine".

"Here," he murmurs, pressing the medicine bottle into my hand. "You can see for yourself. It's just an anti-emetic. And a mild sedative."

The label bears his claim out, though it's possible the label doesn't accurately reflect the contents of the bottle. It's also possible I am still paranoid.

Ultimately, does it matter? If what John said is true and this is withdrawal, I don't actually want to stop him giving me the drug, do I? Galling as it is to think that I am willingly participating in this deception, it is quite possible that the alternative is worse.

I close my eyes and force myself to stay still as he injects the contents of the needle into my veins. Even though it shouldn't, it feels like a defeat. Though I am not quite sure who the victor is in this. I doubt it's Henry if his goal really is to wean me off the drug.

"What's your name," I ask. I doubt I will remember any of this, but I need to know.

He looks alarmed. He checks my pupils as he says "I'm Henry, darling. I'm your husband."

"No, I mean your real name."

Understanding washes over his face. "Henry is my real name, love." He starts unbuttoning my shirt. "Let's get you cleaned up."

"It may be now, but it wasn't always, was it?"

He hesitates before sliding my joggers off. "You are not the only one with a past you would rather forget, *Sherlock*."

A general feeling of discomfort rolls through me, dulled by the drug he injected.

He stands and strips down to his pants, carefully setting aside any articles of clothing that have sick on them. Then he turns on the tap in the shower and reaches for me.

He doesn't say anything else as he supports me under the spray, washing sweat and sick from my body with practiced efficiency.

He fetches fresh clothes for me while I towel myself dry, dresses himself in joggers and a soft pullover, then leaves me with instructions to meet him in the kitchen.

I move slowly, gingerly, as if any sudden movement might bring about the nausea again, although the symptoms seem to be going away.

Henry is at the kitchen table, texting on his mobile when I make it down the stairs. He sets it down and invites me to sit while he goes to the stove to pour tea from the kettle.

I peek at his phone, guessing the lock code on the first try (the date on our marriage certificate, obvious) and find the message he just sent still on the screen. 'Just a minor setback. Everything is under control now.'

It was sent to Mycroft.

Henry sets a mug down in front of me and takes the mobile from my hand. "He was concerned. He said he got a strange hang up from you."

"And of course he called you because he would never trust my assessment of my own mental state," I mutter. I swirl the tea bag in the steaming water, watching it turn darker. The text is more convincing than any other evidence I have uncovered so far to support the theory that my condition is real. Mycroft trusts Henry to watch over me and report back to him. Just as he once did with John.

I sip at the tea. It is herbal. Medicinal. Soothing.

"My name is James," my husband says softly. "Or it was. And this isn't the first time you've caught me out. But I didn't lie to you. Not exactly."

He plays with the paper tab attached to the tea bag. It is a different color than the one on mine, I note. The tea smells like some sort of citrus.

"James what?"

He winces. "I can't bear to say it anymore. It was *his* name."

"Your father?"

"No. I barely knew my father. My ex." He takes a deep breath. "I became very good at hiding the bruises...the broken ribs..."

I frantically try to remember reading anything about this in my journals. "He beat you?"

James...no, Henry averts his eyes from me. "He was schizophrenic, although we didn't know that initially. We were young, still in Uni. His symptoms didn't even begin to manifest until a year after we were married. He...he was lovely when he remembered to take his medicine, but..." He hesitates and reaches for his shirt, pulling the hem up to reveal the scar I noted last night on his abdomen. "He became convinced I was sent by the government to spy on him. He got hold of a kitchen knife and attacked me. Luckily he wasn't very skilled with weapons."

My eyes travel from the old scar to the new bruise I have given him. I have no idea if the story he is telling me is true, but if it is it would suggest he makes a habit of marrying men with obvious mental instabilities.

Or the side effects of the drug he gave his previous husband resulted in far more violent behavior.

Henry lets the shirt fall again, covering the scar as he reaches for my hand. "You are nothing like him, darling."

"Am I?"

I let the question hang in the air for a few moments, waiting for him to say something. Anything. Finally, I decide there is no point in being cautious now. It is highly probable I won't remember any of this and he knows that. I can get my answers, even if I can't guarantee I will remember them.

"I know the drug isn't meant to help me remember. It's to make me forget."

I watch his reaction carefully for a spark of anger or surprise, but there is none. He looks almost relieved. "Yes."

That was easier than I expected. "Why?"

"Because you asked me to."

That can't possibly be true. Can it? "Why," I repeat. "That doesn't make sense."

He sighs and lets go of my hand. "Would you like some more tea?"

"No, I would like some answers."

"I'm coming to that." He retrieves a plate of biscuits from the center of the table and pushes it toward me. "Eat some of these."

"I'm not hungry."

"You haven't eaten in twenty-four hours without sicking everything back up. You'll feel better if you put something in your stomach."

"Does the drug cause nausea if it's taken on an empty stomach?"

He frowns. "You still think it was in the injection I gave you, don't you?"

I stare at him silently.

"What did you do with the pills you didn't take?"

"Toilet." It's an easy enough lie.

He nods. "Right. Okay. From the beginning." He takes a healthy swallow of his tea and leans toward me, clearing his throat. "You got a concussion in the accident. For several days you were confused and suffering frequent lapses in memory. You asked for John repeatedly and became upset when I reminded you of what had happened. I gave you benzodiazepine to relax you and help you sleep. As long as you were in hospital, I could control the dosage. But when you were released you started experimenting with different cocktails, designing your own custom blend that you hoped would make you forget. You said you couldn't bear it any longer. You wanted to 'delete' your memory of John Watson entirely. It didn't work, of course, but by the time you realized your mistake you had developed a dependency. Mycroft couldn't get through to you anymore, so he called me."

"I wasn't living with you already?"

Henry glances a the laptop charging on the counter. "No. You were still in the flat you shared with John, which I'm sure is part of the reason your plan didn't work." He finishes his tea as he gathers his thoughts. "Your dependency on the drug made simply stopping it too dangerous. Mycroft and I devised a plan to reduce the dosage gradually. You moved in with me so I could better monitor your progress and hopefully keep you from relapsing."

"Why didn't you just tell me this? Why construct an elaborate lie about a rare amnesia?"

"We didn't at first. But we all came to agree that it was the best and safest way to manage your condition. You've read your notes. The articles. You can become quite paranoid and violent."

I remember twisting his arm behind his back and shoving him into a wall. Or was that Mycroft? "Who agreed?"

"You, me and Mycroft."

A sharp bark of a laugh escapes me before I can stop it. "Of course. So is any of it true?" I take another sip of tea and hold up my left ring finger. "Whose idea was this?"

He flinches. "The only lie is in the exact nature of your condition. We had to alter the events of the first few weeks, but you helped by writing those notes and letters." His hand covers my arm and he waits until I meet his gaze. "This is real. I fell in love with you. And despite your insistence that you don't feel such emotions, I like to think that you love me too in your own way."

It sounds plausible. It makes sense. But I'm pretty sure the only part of the story that is absolutely true is the last. His love for me and our marriage. The rest may contain certain elements of the truth, but I am not certain where those truths give way to lies and what purpose those lies serve.

I slowly reach for a biscuit and take a small bite. It is plain. Bland. The kind one would eat to avoid upsetting their stomach.

Henry smiles and reaches to toy with my hair, smoothing rumpled curls into some sort of order. "One day this will all be over, darling. One day you won't need the drug anymore and your memory will be restored."

I'm not sure if that would be better or worse than the alternative.

Henry stands suddenly and goes to the sink to pour a glass of water. He fetches the pill box from the cupboard and shakes the pre-sorted tablet designated for tonight into his palm.

He sets the tablet and glass on the table before me as he returns to his seat. "I will not force you to take it, but as your doctor I strongly advise it. It is quite possible for your symptoms to get worse. Withdrawal from this could kill you. And as your husband who loves you desperately, I beg you not to take that risk."

He doesn't need to appeal to my sympathy. I may be drawn to danger and risky behavior, but regardless of how that makes me look to the casual observer, I don't want to die.

Still, I hesitate a while before picking up the tablet. Even longer before swallowing it.

Henry's smile as I set the empty glass back down is not one of victory, but rather relief. I may have doubts about some of the details of the stories he has just told me, but there are a few things I can be reasonably certain of. The drug is causing my memory loss, but Henry is carefully controlling the dosage - likely reducing it gradually. He fears losing me and the trauma of losing his patient yesterday coupled with the potential danger I faced with the onset of withdrawal today genuinely terrified him.

"You should rest. I'll wake you when dinner is ready."

I begin to protest, but think better of it. I can use the time to write in my journal and maybe call Mycroft. I nod.

He smiles, kisses my forehead and clears the empty teacups from the table.

I retrieve the charged laptop and retreat into the bedroom.
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