The hospital room where John Watson sits is quiet, but for the breath of Sherlock and the beeping of the machine hooked up to his best friend. Sherlock near about fades into the sheets of his bed, his skin is so grey. The detective has never exactly been tan, but his pale cheeks always had a healthy flush; from running down the latest thief or from the excitement of a thrilling case, occasionally even from the two of them laughing hard enough to hurt.
John thinks that, if he were awake, Sherlock would be in pain, now.
He knows it, actually. He’s been shot before, after all. He knows from his own experience; the cold burn of that tiny piece of metal wrecking destruction through flesh, bone and sinew. Yes, there is no doubt Sherlock would be in pain if he were awake. But as it is, the only noise in the room is the steady blip – blip – blip of the machines and the ever so slight whistle that tells him Sherlock is, in fact, asleep. Is, in fact, alive.
He’d come so close to losing him again. And all because of –
As if his thoughts had summoned her, the door creaks open, and Mary sidles in without a word.
John doesn’t bother to look – he can smell her perfume, knows it’s her, who else would it be, doesn’t want to see, doesn’t want to see her – before he speaks.
“I won’t have you here, Mary” he finally turns to look at the woman he had pledged himself to for life. The woman who carries his child, the woman he loves. Loved? God, he doesn’t even know any more. He just knows that the woman before him is not who he thought she was. Is not who he married.
The weight of the pen-drive in his pocket feels heavier than possible – he’s not read it, yet. Doesn’t know if he will, either. Doesn’t know if he could stand it; stand knowing the killer Mary truly is. Because being aware that she lied is one thing… but knowing all the death, the blood on his sweet, gentle Mary’s hands… that is another beast entirely. But then, shouldn’t he know? Isn’t it his responsibility? The truth behind this slip of a woman he calls wife? She shot Sherlock… what else has she done? The pen-drive sits in his pocket and John thinks it might crush him with all the information it holds. But he carries it still, because despite what Sherlock might think, he’s not stupid enough to let it out of his sight. But God, he hates it.
“John, please. I’m sorry I lied to you, but surely you can understand? You were a soldier; you must have done things-”
“Things I’m not proud of? Of course I did, Mary! We all did, but this isn’t about that, it’s not about me!”
“I didn’t want you to know. I didn’t want you to treat me any differently” and John can see where she’s coming from, can understand why she lied.
It doesn’t change anything.
“But you are different! The woman I fell in love with wasn’t an assassin. Wasn’t a – a common killer!”
“That’s the point, John! I don’t want to be that woman anymore!” Her voice is cracking, and Mary’s face is flushed – she always gets red in the face during an argument, or when she’s about to cry. “I just wanted a normal life, with a man who loves me.”
“But you still are that woman; you’ve proved that much. We’re in a hospital for Christ’s sake–”
“ –Sherlock said it himself. He’s fine.”
“You fucking shot him, Mary!” John yells, and there’s a snuffle from the bed. They both turn, but Sherlock has settled back down. His breathing is even and quiet, and John drinks him in with his eyes before turning back to his wife.
“This isn’t about your past, or even the fact that you lied to me. This is about the fact that you shot my best friend.”
Mary steps forward, imploringly, and John moves automatically to stand between her and the bed – every instinct is screaming at him to keep her away from Sherlock. Mary stills and raises her hands in a calming manner, before carefully reaching for the clipboard at the end of Sherlock’s bed. She skims over it, and then hands it back to John with a placating smile, as if handing him proof to make it all better.
“He’s fine, John. He’ll be fine. I had to – Sherlock explained, there wasn’t another way”
John takes the clipboard and wordlessly places it by Sherlock’s feet, careful not to disturb him. He doesn’t need to look at the diagnosis – he’s had it memorised for hours now.
“I know he’ll be fine. But what if he wasn’t, Mary? You saw what I was like without him,” John laughs bitterly, still terrified at the hold Sherlock has on him, on his ability to function. “You say you did all this because you love me. That you wanted to keep me.”
It’s John that steps forward now, and his hands are fists at his sides – he won’t hit her, he’s not his father – but dammit, she needs to understand.
“If you loved me, you would never have taken that risk. When Sherlock-” and John hates that he still can’t talk about this without his voice breaking, god fucking dammit. “What he did? Losing him? It nearly killed me. And you know that. You know how I was without him. And you would put me through that again?”
Mary’s shaking her head though, looking at him as if he’s simple and John is a good man, is a patient man – but he’s got a temper (another thing Mary knows) and he can’t quite keep his anger out of his voice.
“John, no – no, sweetie, don’t you see? It wouldn’t have been like that. If I’d killed Sherlock, it wouldn’t be like that at all. Because you’d have me. ”
And John does his best not to flinch at how blasé she is, at how calm she sounds – not just at the prospect of killing, but of killing Sherlock. Sherlock, who had helped plan their wedding, who toasted them, who promised to protect them and Christ that’s probably the only reason Mary is still alive, isn’t it? Because Mycroft bloody Holmes would have known about this almost instantly and the only reason Mary is still alive, is because Sherlock promised them – him, John knows it was for him – happiness. He vowed to do everything he could to make them (him) happy – including, it would seem, protecting his would-be killer from his brother. Then Mary’s words sink in, and again he says:
“You wouldn’t be alone, like last time. You’d have me.” And Mary smiles, and John can see the love in her eyes and he almost wants to be sick, because-
“You think- what? You think I wouldn’t mourn him? Wouldn’t- wouldn’t, Christ, Mary! That I wouldn’t fall apart without him?”
“Of course you’d be sad, but you wouldn’t fall apart! You were alone when he left last time; you didn’t have anyone to-”
“I wasn’t alone, Mary! I had friends, family. They didn’t help.”
Mary sighs, and changes tactics. “None of this actually matters, John! He’s fine!”
“That’s not the point! The point is you were going to knowingly put me through that! You were going to hurt me like that. And I can’t do that. I can’t lose him. I won’t. Not again.”
The silence and space between them echoes in the sterile room. Mary shrugs gently, her eyes shining; even with her face all red and puffy, she’s beautiful. She’d cried when they said their vows, and he’d beamed and thought the exact same thing. His face feels like it has forgotten any happy expression it once knew – like it’s been carved into the lines on his face, like any person (a regular, simple, stupid person) could read the marks around his eyes and mouth and between his eyebrows and understand that John Watson hasn’t smiled in a Very. Long. Time.
Mary is still talking, still giving the same excuse, over and over. And maybe he could have listened, if it were anyone else. Could have understood, if it were anyone else in that bed; then maybe they could have sorted through this.
“I had to, John. I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.”
But it’s not anyone else. It’s Sherlock. And so John rubs his face, doing his best not to cry, or yell or – god knows. Instead, he moves back to his place at Sherlock’s side, sits down, and stares at the machine next to Sherlock’s bed. His pulse is steady; the constant beeps comforting. He pays it more attention than his wife when he speaks.
“I know. I know you think that. Just. Don’t say any more. Just leave, Mary. Please, just go.”
Mary doesn’t move for a long moment, her eyes flicking between her husband and the man on the bed, wrapped up in tubes and bandages. She thinks she might have lost John, after all. That maybe, she never had him in the first place. Not really. She feels sick with the loss; wonders if this is what John was trying to avoid, and what that must mean.
“You love him.”
“He’s my best friend”
“You love him”
“Just… Get out, Mary.”
John waits for the door to shnick back into place before he closes his eyes and lets the tears come. He sits and cries quietly, his face hidden in his hands. Just for a moment, he needs to hide from what Mary has done. He feels physically ill with guilt that his wife obviously doesn't feel. Sick with the thought that the brilliant man before him might have died, because of his wife.
It is a few minutes before he comes back to himself, before he can gather the iron self-control that was honed over his years in the military and wrap it around him like one of Sherlock’s sheets. He wipes his eyes. Sits back and speaks, though his voice is hoarse.
“I know you’re awake, Sherlock”
One crystalline eye opens and stares at him. There is no pity there, for which John is thankful. He doesn’t know if he could handle being pitied, right at the moment.
“How did you know?” Sherlock says after a moment, gingerly pushing himself to sit up against the cushions.
“You weren’t snoring”
“I don’t snore” Sherlock cracks back, whip fast.
“No. But you do... whistle. Sort of. When you breathe out. How much did you hear?”
Sherlock shrugs one shoulder and then fails to hide to wince at the jarring it unintentionally causes. “Enough. Most of it.”
John sighs again. He just feels so tired.
“What the fuck am I going to do, Sherlock?” he mutters to his knees, and Sherlock sighs and leans back into the hospital grade pillow, the smell of budget laundry powder and disinfectant wrapped around him tighter than the sheets on his bed.
“You’re going to forgive her.”
John laughs, and it is not a happy sound.
“I don’t think I can do that. There are a lot of things I could forgive, Sherlock. A lot of things I have forgiven,” they lock eyes and Sherlock feels a pang that has nothing to do with the wound in his chest.
(Or at least, not the physical one)
John reaches out, takes Sherlock’s wrist and feels for that glorious pulse that thrums steadily, proof of life - a reassurance he can touch. “But I don’t think this is one of them.”
Sherlock is quiet, staring at him and John swallows because he knows that look and he is not a crime scene dammit, so he tries to fill the silence before Sherlock fills it with his brilliance.
“Why did you tell me she saved you? Why would you say that? She shot you Sherlock and I don’t know why the both of you seem to think that doesn’t matter because it does and you were- you flat lined, you died and-” John’s voice cracks, his vision is blurry and all he can think is;
“I was so close. I was so close to losing you again and how fucking dare she try to take you from me? And how could you think I’d forgive that? Not when- you- I wouldn’t- Fuck!” John swipes angrily at his eyes because he’s not good at this, this sort of thing, and Sherlock knows that so why won’t he just make a quip already so they can move onto something else?!
John finally looks up through his tears and Sherlock is still staring at him like he’s something fascinating. Like he’s something brilliant.
“John-” and his voice is so soft for how deep it is, rumbling and spilling out the hole in his chest along with his mouth and John nearly flinches when Sherlock’s hand reaches over and grips his, twines their fingers and fuck, fuck, John’s married, but he almost lost him and his wife is apparently a fucking assassin and most of all- Christ. Sherlock nearly died and what if he had? What if he had and John had never- he’d never…?
So he clutches at Sherlock’s hand and he cries and Sherlock is leaning forward and wincing and John stands because he shouldn’t be moving dammit he’s been shot-
But anyway, they manage to meet in the middle and John’s still crying, and God, how utterly crap is that? Their first kiss and he’s all wet cheeked and gross and Sherlock has a bloody bullet wound but they kiss anyway because what if he had died? What if Sherlock had died never knowing-
John pulls back and chokes out “I love you, don’t you fucking ever die on me you utter prat because I love you, don’t, just don’t-” and Sherlock nods, and mutters between kisses “no, John. I won’t, I’m here, it’s fine, everything’s fine, we’ll figure it out” and they kiss, and kiss and kiss – because there are some things you can forgive, and there are some things you can’t and John doesn’t know what’s going to happen but he knows Sherlock, and he knows that this, what they could have, what they might be starting here in this god awful hospital – this is something he can trust with his whole being.
And well, at the moment?