Word Count: ~1400
Disclaimer: Neither Elementary nor MASH is mine, etc.
Summary: Sherlock/Joan; Elementary MASH AU.
A/N: Written for poetry_fiction for -
called your name
in my sleep
sitting and waiting
thought you would awake me
She picks him up. Captain Bell is at the wheel, which on its own speaks volumes about the importance of this would-be-routine trip, but she's in the passenger seat, her hand shadowing her eyes enough for her to seek him out.
"Major Watson, I presume," he says. He bounces lightly on the balls of his feet, keeping his posture relaxed as the sun beats down evenly upon the three of them. She's part of his deal, of course; they all three know that, but he's rather curious to see which will bring it up first.
Watson's face is studiously calm as she holds out a hand.
"Captain Holmes," she says. "Glad to see you arrived in one piece. Nice flight?"
"One does admire the design of the helicopter," he says, gazing back at where the bird is still perched. "The gunfire directed at us from below was a bit distracting, of course."
"Well now that you're on the ground, let's get a move on," Bell says. "We're already two hours behind schedule because of that detour your pilot had to make."
Sherlock listens to Bell, of course, but his eyes are still fixed on Watson. She ties her hair back with easy, fluid movements, and Sherlock considers her as she is (Major Joan Watson, Head Nurse), as well as what she will be to him (Watson, nanny). He throws his duffel into the back of the Jeep. It's rather a shame, he thinks: he might've liked Major Watson.
"By all means," he says, finally shifting his gaze to Bell, "Let's recover that time."
The first time he kisses her, he's been there for one year and seven months. It's New Year's, so it hardly counts. The war is ending any day now.
(The war has been ending any day now for two and a half years.)
His hand curls into her thick hair, and when they pull apart he becomes aware of a dull, heated flush rising up his neck.
"Sherlock—" she says, but her voice is soft, and almost kind, and he's heard her refuse him enough things to know what's coming.
"Happy New Year's, Watson," he says. He opens his mouth to say more, but Colonel Gregson claps him soundly on the shoulder, and just like that the camp's celebration spills into their private corner.
Bell takes him to Gregson as soon as they arrive at the camp. Sherlock's been all over Korea, and the dusty military green of the tents fade into his eyeline here just as they have everywhere else.
Gregson, though, is a welcome change. He and Gregson operated on a soldier just a few days after Sherlock stepped off the transport into this country; they'd worked well together, and Gregson had been quite impressed with him.
Impressed enough, in fact, that he put in a good word for him, and agreed to this scheme. By rights, of course, Sherlock should've been kicked out of this whole bloody country for good, but there's a war on, and a surgeon with Sherlock's skills tends to be given far more chances than he deserves. Watson is one part of the deal, but Gregson is the other.
"Welcome to the 221st," Gregson says.
Sherlock ducks his head a little without meaning to, but he nods his thanks anyway.
Sherlock and Bell share quarters.
Sherlock's not sure if this is part of the deal or not, and in the beginning it drives him up the wall, not knowing if Bell is a watchdog or not. He stays out of there as much as he can at first, which proves an easy enough task - the first week he's there it feels as if he's spending more time in surgery than anywhere else.
Watson, it turns out, is not only adept at writing papers on the treatment of recovering alcoholics, she's also a damn fine nurse. They find an easy rhythm, and for hours at a time Sherlock can sublimate her true role here. (Or perhaps his true role here: she, after all, was here first.)
It becomes clear, after a few days, that Gregson and Watson are the only ones that know the real reason he's here. Bell has been told some scattered fragments –enough for him to know to keep an eye on him, enough to drive four hours to pick him up—but not everything.
Sherlock stays out of the Officer's Club, and drinks the terrible mess tent coffee on the nights he prefers not to sleep. Eventually sleep catches up to him and throws him bodily beneath the tumult of her waves, but in the morning there is the heat of the day and the need of the patients to ground him.
And always Watson, who gently steers him back on course whenever he falters.
They say a doctor should never treat someone he loves.
Perhaps they should say something else. Something neater, and truer; something Sherlock would not have dismissed so easily: people die, and a doctor cannot save everyone.
Three months pass before he tells Watson about Irene.
He expected, upon saying her name aloud, that the taste of whiskey would reawaken on his tongue, need and want tangling together. He'd been braced for it, even.
His hand does curl for a moment, as if searching for a bottle, but Watson's face is steady, and Sherlock breathes.
It's two years and one month after he meets Major Joan Watson that he bids her goodbye.
The whole camp's been in a chaotic uproar ever since the news was finally confirmed, and beneath the joy of the moment the crash is perched above them. Every bag packed, every set of orders handed over, every handshake and every hug carries with it an air of finality. They might be glad to see it go, but it is still an end of an era nonetheless.
Watson slings an arm around his neck and tugs him down into a hug. His arms encircle her waist, and for a moment he can smell her hair (army shampoo mixed with something intangibly Joan), and he considers the things he has not told her, considers the things he cannot tell her.
“Call if you need me,” she says, but they both know it’s a formality—she hasn’t seriously worried about him relapsing for months now. Or maybe he’s wrong. The change of service life back to his ordinary, humdrum practice—perhaps the shock of it will be a trigger. She’s warned him about such things, but he considered it more as her doing her duty than out of any true concern.
Except it had not, perhaps, quite hit him until just this moment what he’d be losing.
“Goodbye, Sherlock,” she says, her voice warm, her free hand tangling into the back of his uniform, and for a moment the horizon is distant and all he can focus on is her in his arms.
“Goodbye, Joan Watson,” he says.
And then she is pulling away.
He reads every paper she publishes—she really is quite brilliant.
He wonders, sometimes, if she reads his.
Three years after he says goodbye, he shows up on her doorstep.
“Sherlock!” she says. She’s surprised, but there’s real warmth tangled in there, too, and so he steps inside.
“In the neighborhood,” he says, waving a vague hand. “Heard you gave up your commission.”
“In the neighborhood,” she repeats, raising an eyebrow, and he lifts a shoulder, lets the corner of his mouth twitch up.
“England felt rather small,” he says. “I’ve been thinking of starting a practice here, in the states.”
“Have you,” she says. Her hands are linked in front of her. He wants—suddenly, and overwhelmingly—to sweep her up in his arms.
“I’d need a nurse,” he says.
They open up a clinic.
They become rather well-renowned in their own right, and Watson shows him every offer from every major hospital they get until he makes her promise to deal with them on her own.
He rents a room, but sometimes he sleeps in one of the cots in the office. Six years sober, now, and still sometimes he dreams of blood on his hands that he can’t wash away.
Watson takes him out for food, and bullies him into cooking for her, and does more than her share of paperwork without him asking.
Six years sober, and some odd months less he's known her, and still she's the only one who's kept pace with him.
The second time he kisses her, she curls her hand in his hair and kisses him back.