John let Sherlock sulk uninterrupted for the first quarter-hour after they got home. He'd never seen Sherlock properly thwarted before, and now a woman was dead and her killer was still unidentified. John supposed he ought to respect Sherlock's coping mechanisms, whatever those might be, though he was feeling strangely rattled himself.
After a quarter of an hour he was finding the lack of blinking really disturbing and began to think he'd better do something. He made tea, which Sherlock snatched from his hands without looking away from the spot on the far wall he was evidently trying to set on fire with his mind.
Tea had failed. Right. Something else, then. Something drastic. John wracked his brain a moment, and then did what he'd do at the conclusion of any other case. He got up and fetched his laptop. Before he could lose his nerve, he sat down next to Sherlock and opened up a window to start typing a blog entry.
"Whenever I start feeling like what I'm doing is pointless," he typed, without looking over at Sherlock, "like I've failed completely, I remember my first tour in Afghanistan. I remember one of the first men I treated. He was an American. His name was Holland."
The couch shifted slightly, and Sherlock's reflection flowed slightly further out from the edge of John's laptop screen. He'd taken the bait.
"Holland came to our aid station on foot, being half-carried by another American, a pilot who'd gone to rescue him--stole a helicopter to try to rescue him, in fact. He was shot down himself but still brought himself and Holland out through the desert to our position, miles from the American camp where they were based. I don't remember the name of the other pilot," a lie, but John wouldn't put it past Sherlock to try to find the man, and Sheppard didn't deserve that, "but I remember Holland's name. His friend stayed beside him all the time I was trying to save his life, calling to him over and over."
"You type differently when you're making things up," Sherlock remarked, and gave up on all pretense, draping himself against John's left side, not quite immobilizing John's arm. "As I have had ample opportunity to observe in your blog posts. Go on, anyway."
John tried not to look at the bit of the screen that reflected back Sherlock's face, chin hooked over his shoulder. He kept his eyes on the words and kept typing.
"Holland came to us barely conscious, with two bullets in his lungs and another lodged beside his femoral artery. His spleen was ruptured and his stomach and pancreas were lacerated. It was a miracle he'd survived to reach the aid station, and I had only recently been made to memorize the triage standards. Holland was one of the terrible cases, alive and semi-conscious but probably beyond hope. I tried anyway; for an hour I fought to save his life."
John's hands hesitated over the keys at the enormity of what he was leaving out in those dry, truthful sentences. He was not only omitting the blood and the heat, the breaking of Sheppard's voice on the other side of the sterile drape, the desperate urgency and immediacy of the moment. There was also the worse part of the memory--the way he felt himself lighting up inside, truly alive when another man was dying, because this was his battle to fight and he loved it like nothing else.
No need to type that. Sherlock knew. John stuck to the point.
"I did everything I could. His friend did everything he could. Holland himself must have been fighting like mad to live, to have survived as long as he did in those conditions. But at the end of an hour he was dead. My work was lost. The heroic effort of his friend was lost. Holland was lost.
"But our effort wasn't wasted."
Sherlock snorted and squirmed around, plastering himself more firmly against John's side but tucking his head down, so that his eyes didn't reflect in John's laptop screen anymore.
"Our effort wasn't wasted," John typed again, smashing his fingers down emphatically on each key as he repeated himself. He was reasonably confident that Sherlock could hear the words in his typing. "Because we had to try. It would have killed us not to try as hard as we could for Holland. That he died was awful, but to have left him to die without trying to save him would have been infinitely worse."
Sherlock made another little derisive noise into John's shoulder, and twisted around again so that he was more or less facing into the back of the couch, though still weighing down John's shoulder.
"Also," John typed, with a roll of his eyes, since obviously this wasn't actually going on the blog for his therapist and Lestrade and everyone else in London to read, "the frantic sex in the supply tent was amazing--there is something about facing the death of a patient and friend which makes people unable to resist fucking like mad afterward."
"Fiction," Sherlock muttered into the back of the couch, which was correct; they'd gone to John's quarters. Obviously the supply tent would have been a stupid place to have sex with an American. And while the sex had undeniably had something to do with the death they'd witnessed between them, it probably had more to do with Sheppard thinking that the ridiculous American policy on gay soldiers was the least of his problems, given the court-martial he was facing with no grateful rescued comrade to hold up his side.
A few seconds afterward, Sherlock added, "Interesting, though."
John cleared his throat and pushed away the memory of that stolen hour with Sheppard on his cot. "Really?"
"Not the story," Sherlock said, "the story is maudlin and obviously manipulated to try to make me feel better, and I would expect better from you. But your telling that story demonstrates that you're willing to share extremely private memories to make me feel better, which is interesting because it suggests that we could have just been having sex for the last half hour instead."
John found himself staring very intently at that point on the opposite wall that Sherlock hadn't quite managed to set on fire with his mind.
"But what is really much more interesting," Sherlock added, "is that I realized out who the killer is while listening to the soothing clicking of keys."
Sherlock unfolded in some impossibly graceful way, launching himself backward off the couch so that he was suddenly standing over John, offering his hand.
"Well?" Sherlock said. "We've already lost an hour, are you coming to catch him or not?"
John looked down at his laptop and said, "One sec."
Highlight. Delete. He snapped the laptop shut.
"The hour wasn't lost if you figured it out, though," John said, getting to his feet.
"It is lost. Time past is always lost," Sherlock said firmly, and gave John a quick, dizzying kiss. "Just not always wasted."