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



"Will," a voice calls gently. A hand rubs my shoulder. "Wake up, darling."

For a moment I struggle to remember where I am. The voice calling me is familiar, but I can't place his name. I open my eyes and focus on the dark haired man sitting beside me. James? No...Henry.

The fog lifts slowly and I reach for the laptop I remember using moments - minutes? hours? - ago.

"It's in the kitchen, charging."

I hesitate. "Did you read it?"

"Just the last bit. Sorry. I try to respect your privacy, but you left it open."

How many times has he used that excuse? I'm pretty sure I didn't write anything damning as I knew it was a possibility he would read it. He couldn't possibly have changed anything in it yet, could he?

I roll onto my back and look up at him. "You said you would wake me when dinner was ready."

"I've only started it, but I thought I should check with you, see how you feel."

"Mmm...better." I can smell cooked meat now, spiced with some sort of herbs.

"Think you can handle Spaghetti Bolognese?"

Basil and oregano. That's the smell. "Sounds lovely." I'm not really surprised to find that I actually am hungry. It's been more than twenty-four hours since I last ate and I don't have any work requiring my full mental focus at the moment. Then again, it could be a side effect of the drug.

He smiles, gives my arm a squeeze and stands to leave. Then he hesitates a moment. "Would you like me to bring the laptop back?"

"No. I'll come down."

I wait until he is back in the kitchen before I attempt getting up. I am amazed by how much better I feel. My head is clearer. The queasiness is entirely gone. I realize this is probably why I have stayed with Henry. Why I continue to take the "medicine" of my own free will. But there doesn't seem to be much harm in continuing like this. Or, more accurately, there is far greater harm in *not* allowing Henry to continue his treatment.

Assuming he really is decreasing the dosage. I frown at the wall over the toilet as I empty my bladder. Did I reach that conclusion myself or did he tell me that's what he's doing?

No, I'm pretty sure I deduced it.

Henry is stirring a pot of sauce at the stove when I reach the kitchen. There is a laptop open on the table, but it doesn't look familiar. I peek at the screen to find it open to what looks like Henry's work email.

"Yours is on the counter."

I look up, startled, but he doesn't seem to have even turned his head. I remember Mary doing that. 'I have eyes in the back of my head,' she joked. 'I always know what you're doing.'

I retrieve my laptop from the counter where it was charging and take it to the seat across from Henry's.

Henry fills a glass with water from the tap and sets it beside me as he returns to the table. "You should stay hydrated."

I thank him automatically. It isn't until I notice his hesitation before sitting back down that I realize the exact words I used were 'thanks, John.' "I'm sorry, I..."

"No." He waves me off. "It's all right. I'm used to it."

Didn't Molly once say I do that to a lot of people? I shrug it off. Henry is already focused on his computer screen, the moment forgotten. I sip at the water and focus on my own, which is still open to my journal. A random jumble of letters at the bottom suggests I fell asleep as I was typing.

I review the entry for today, not really expecting to find anything different from what I remember yet. Except I remember talking to Lillian this morning. Did I not note that? What did we talk about?

Oh. Right. I gave her the pills. Did I note that in the other journal before returning it to the hive? What did I tell Henry I did with the pills? Flush them?

And then I come to a baffling note between the list of developing symptoms and wild speculations about their causes and waking up to Henry singing.

'Called Mycroft. Left a message on his voicemail. I don't remember what I said, exactly, but it must have alarmed him enough to call Henry and compel him to come home more quickly.'

I remember calling Mycroft twice today. Granted, my memory of the first call is hazy, but I don't remember leaving a message.

I pull up the phone history on my mobile. There are two calls to Mycroft in the recent history, as expected. One for a duration of just under three seconds, which was probably as long as I listened to the generic outgoing message he never bothered to change before hanging up. The other call, however, is logged as lasting one minute and forty-three seconds. Long enough for me to have left a message. But I didn't leave a message...did I? I try to recall details from before I lost consciousness, but the memories are too corrupted. I can't remember what was real and what was in my mind palace.

"Something wrong?"

I shake myself and meet Henry's questioning gaze. "No, I just...have you spoken to Mycroft recently?"

"Not since he called me this afternoon. Why?"

"What did he say?"

"He was worried about you. Apparently you left a barely coherent voicemail about the medicine making you sick and my name not being Henry. You don't remember that?"

I stare at the call log, trying to make sense of this evidence. I remember speaking to Mycroft today, but only in my mind palace. My sense of reality at the time the call was logged is highly suspect, but I do remember trying to call him. And I remember telling somebody my suspicions about the drug's true purpose and Henry's false identity. Could I have done something I don't remember doing while I was lost in my head?

Henry comes around the table suddenly, taking the mobile from my hands and setting it aside. "It's all right, darling," he says, squeezing my hands. "You were very ill. I'm guessing you don't remember accusing me of trying to take advantage of you either. You thought I was Moriarty."

I think I remember that part, but now I'm not certain of anything. A wave of depression washes over me as I come to several realizations at once. It is already starting. I am forgetting. Soon, I won't remember anything I haven't written in my journal for the past forty-eight hours. I won't remember the memory stick in the hive. I may not even be able to record anything more on it until Monday when Henry goes back to work. And there's nothing I can do to stop it.

"Is this what Alzheimer's feels like," I ask numbly.

I see genuine pain and sympathy cross Henry's face before he gathers me in his arms. In a way, he is suffering through this with me. Whatever this is. He doesn't want me to forget him, but he doesn't want to lose me either.

I cling to him, pathetically grateful for his presence and strength, letting the feeble words of comfort he murmurs in my ear soothe my fraying nerves.

"I love you," he whispers.

'I know,' I think as I bury my face in his neck.

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

I can't sleep. My mind is racing, but it is stuck on the same frustrating loop. For whatever reason, when I sleep I will forget. I have chosen this artificial state of amnesia willingly. I feel helpless to stop it, but fighting seems pointless. If I stop taking the drug, the withdrawal could kill me. I guess in a way, it was inevitable I would end up like this eventually. But instead of dying alone and pathetic on the floor of the flat I used to share with John, I am living the life I always thought I would after I retired from consulting work, being cared for by a man who loves me more than I deserve.

I turn to look at him laying beside me. He isn't asleep yet, but he's making a valiant effort. I go over his features again in the dim twilight of the bedroom, storing details in my mind palace even though I don't know if I will be able to retrieve them in full later or if, like the scribblings on my ring, they will be corrupted. Have I done this before? Is that why I recognize him even if I am unsure of who he is?

I quickly realize that simply looking isn't enough. I slip closer and press my lips to his shoulder.

"Mmm...can't sleep?"

I hum vaguely and kiss a trail up his neck, feeling the texture of his skin beneath my lips, the roughness of his stubble.

He shifts slightly, welcoming my attentions, but murmurs "not sure I'm up for it tonight, love."

I catch his gaze as his eyes open, the ocean blue muted in the darkness. "I'm not expecting anything." I kiss his lips lightly. "You can sleep if you like."

He chuckles as I resume kissing back down his throat, creating a pleasant vibration against my lips. "I see. So I'm just to be a living sex doll for you to rut against, am I?"

I let my teeth sink into the meatiest part of his pectoral muscle until he hisses. "No," I murmur into his skin before turning his attention on his nipples, making his breath catch.

"That wasn't an objection."

"Mmm." He is sensitive here too. I experiment with different combinations of lips, tongue and fingers until they stiffen. He twines his fingers in my hair lazily, gently encouraging my attentions.

He makes a small whimpering sort of noise as I trace the scar on his abdomen with a series of soft, almost reverent kisses.

He squirms as I run my fingers along the gently stirring length of his penis. I keep my touch light and careful, just feeling the weight of it, the texture of the skin. I wonder how many times I've touched him like this. Made him come apart. Made him beg.

I give a quick kiss to the still soft shaft and crawl back up the bed, draping myself over him and tucking my head into the curve of his neck.

He chuckles and wraps his arms around me. "Git."

I twine our legs together, deliberately pressing my own disinterested cock into his hip. Neither of us is in any state to be engaging in anything more strenuous than heavy petting tonight. He is still tired and stressed and I am still recovering. My explorations hadn't been about sex. I wasn't entirely certain what they had been about, really. I just felt a need to try to understand him. To know him on a more visceral level than my notes could convey. I try to store some of the details in my mind palace - the smell of him, the taste of his skin, the sound he makes when I scrape my teeth over sensitive flesh - even though I know I probably won't be able to recover the data.

Henry seems to understand. He holds me tightly, tilting my chin up so he can kiss my forehead, my cheeks, my lips. He doesn't say anything, yet I sense this is an apology. I hold tight and let him soothe me into a restless sleep.

***************
Day 4

I wake in an unfamiliar bed. This by itself wouldn't be odd if not for the clear evidence that until recently I was not alone.

And I am naked.

I don't feel hung-over, yet I don't remember last night. I have bruises on my body that suggest a carnal encounter, but they appear days old.

There is a note on the pillow beside me in an unfamiliar handwriting, instructing me to read the contents of a folder on the kitchen table. Intrigued, I wrap myself in a dressing gown that is curiously both familiar and unfamiliar and search for the kitchen.
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