The Waiting Game
"He's been up there a really long time."
John looked at Martha and shook his head. "You don't know Sherlock. I've seen him go days without talking to anyone."
"But you're his friend," she protested.
"Which is why you can be sure I know what I'm talking about."
"He's probably fallen asleep," Mickey said, not looking up from whatever he was doing at his computer. John had long since given up trying to understand it. The programs were well beyond anything he was familiar with.
He sighed. "If only. Not that he'd be in any better temper when he woke up, of course. But a kip would do him good, I think."
They'd been there for hours, fretting, while Ace and Mickey ran countless tests on the Chula artefact. Greg had long since grown frustrated with the waiting and consequently been shown the firing range. He was there now with Gwen Cooper, the commander of this branch of Torchwood, blowing off steam by shooting things. John had joined them for a little while, but thoughts of Sherlock kept him distracted until he'd finally given up and gone back to see what, if any, progress the others had made.
Just then Lois Habiba, the team's administrator, descended from some upper level John hadn't visited. She carried four stacked boxes that smelled of--
"Pizza's here!" she declared.
"Thank God! I'm starving," said Mickey, finally turning from his screen.
Ace sighed and pulled off her protective goggles. She'd been up close and personal with the relic for the better part of the day. "Might as well eat. I'm not making any progress here and there's nothing more to be done until we get the results back on the latest scans." She addressed first Lois and then John. "See if Gwen and the D.I. want dinner, will you? Do you want to tell Sherlock there's food?"
"I'll tell him, but I doubt he'll eat. He doesn't like to when he's on a case," explained John.
"He's fourteen. He's got to be starving by now."
"Yeah. I'll try not to mention that first part." John ascended the stairs to the glass-walled conference room. He knocked lightly before opening the door. "Sherlock?" he asked in a quiet voice, expecting a verbal attack at any moment. "Are you hungry? They've brought in pizza. Sherlock?"
When no answer came, he stepped fully into the room and closed the door behind him. "Sherlock?" Maybe he had fallen asleep. John wouldn't blame him. He approached the cocooned figure on the sofa and sat carefully on the cushion by his side. "You awake?"
"Well, it's good to know you're not dead under there. Come eat something."
"I know your theory on eating distracting from concentration. I also know what hunger does to a teenaged male body. You should eat."
Sherlock rolled over enough to glare at John and John was struck by the telltale signs of dried tears on his cheeks. "Piss off, John."
For Sherlock, it was a mild rebuke, but John trod carefully nonetheless. "I know you're upset, and I can't blame you. I'm not well pleased, myself."
"Oh no? You should be thrilled. You and Lestrade. Returned to your primes, fit and healthy. Oh yes, it's all right for you."
"We were neither of us pensioners before, thanks," John countered dryly. "Look. Mickey and Ace are working on it, all right? They'll figure something out. And if they can't, well, they know who to contact for help." He wasn't really sure it worked that way. Aunt Jo had never said anything about being able to contact the Doctor, but who knew? Times changed. Technology advanced. For all he knew, Torchwood had the Tardis on speed-dial.
That piqued Sherlock's curiosity enough that he sat up. "Who?"
"A fellow called the Doctor. My, uh, my aunt knows--knew him." He'd never revealed that information to anyone before. It would lead to enquiries and who would believe his answers? "He's a sort of expert in alien technology."
Sherlock only stared at him and John almost laughed. The face was younger, but the expression was the same. It said: You're an idiot.
"I know how that sounds, so just shut up. Come eat."
Sherlock's expression changed in a single heartbeat to one of near-horror. He shook his head firmly. "I can't. I'm not."
"Not going to be seen like this."
Sherlock had a bit of a vain streak, John knew, but this was something different. "Is it really all that bad, then?" Sure, he looked the gawky, awkward kid, but John had seen worse. At least his skin was clear and his teeth were straight. And his ears were mostly hidden under his (admittedly ginger) hair.
"You don't understand."
"You're right. So explain it to me."
Sherlock was silent for several moments and John watched the subtle play of emotions not quite concealed in his face. Finally, he said, "This is my worst nightmare. Fourteen, John. Life was a misery. Everyone was stupid. Mycroft wasn't around; rotten as he is as company, at least he's intelligent. Don't you dare tell him I said that."
It was the first compliment John could remember Sherlock giving his brother. He nodded. "Not a word from me," he promised.
"That was when it started."
"The drugs?" Again the accusatory look of 'Idiot.' "Right. Sorry."
Sherlock's voice dropped lower and he didn't meet John's gaze. "I can't delete it. Any of it. It's all locked on my hard-drive and I can't delete it."
"You don't have to live that life again, Sherlock. You're past all that. Whatever your body looks like, you're still you. And you're not alone this time. Whatever happens, we'll get through it together." He put a hand on Sherlock's and squeezed, relieved when Sherlock didn't pull away. "Understand? I won't leave you on your own through any of this. No matter how long it takes. We'll face it together."
Sherlock took a deep breath and let it out in a slow sigh. "Thank you, John."
"You're welcome. Now, supper?"
Sherlock looked about to protest, but then: "Yes. This stupid body is famished and I can't shut it off." He and John both rose from the couch.
"I bet it is," said John. He dared a joke. "I could eat a whole large pizza by myself when I was your age."
Sherlock glared at him again. "Fuck you."
John only grinned and followed him out of the room.