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Safety Net

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This time, nearly three years later, it was John who was falling.

“Doctor Watson…”

The voice was so far away. Was it a voice he knew?  

Doesn’t matter. Only this. This is…beautiful.  Am I still alive, I wonder?

It was hard to tell without his constant companion, Pain.  Three years of heavy pain in his chest and now… 

It’s not there..God, it’s… is this what he felt like, too, before the end? I hope so.

This hadn’t been his intent, not really. He’d been so strong for all of them. For Sherlock. Well, for the memory of Sherlock. The real Sherlock, not the lies. Not the fairy tale.

Is this what it used to feel like? Breathing painlessly like this? Amazing. How many more easy, painless breaths before they stop?  Fantastic.

It had started out as just a scotch before bedtime. Then it had become another scotch. Anniversary of the day… THAT day coming up, and all.  Then the tablets Mike had suggested.  ”Take the edge off. One or two as needed. I trust you not to go overboard, John. After all, you’re the strongest man I know.” 

Take the edge off…the edge…interesting choice… for someone already on the edge… like HE had been on the edge that day… then off the edge..

One pill, then two.  Then another drink. Pain, hard and heavy and so, so cold growing in his chest. Should he take one of those pills Mike gave him? HAD he taken one? He decided on another drink. Then he downed two pills.  That’s all, just two.  Or was that two more? How many had there been in the bottle?

John was a doctor. He knew better. Some part of him knew. Perhaps the same part that knew Mrs. Hudson was gone for the week, so she wouldn’t have to find him. Greg would, probably. Poor Greg, but he was strong, too. He could take it.

Six pills. Then six more. Wash it down with the last of the scotch.

Falling…. oh.  I’m falling, too, Sherlock.  Will you be there when I hit the bottom? Will the pain stay gone? Am I gone, now?

“Doctor Watson, I’m sorry, I can’t let you do this.  John, I’m going to wake you up, now.”

A woman’s voice? Young. Not Mrs. Hudson… Sexy voice… Sherlock, you bad man… sending a woman to bring me back again… Not this time, though… too far, now..

The lovely voice sounded closer. Stronger. And still.. undeniably sexy. And strangely familiar…

“This injection will counteract what you’ve taken. You’re coming back, now, John. And I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, my friend …. but it’s really going to hurt.”

No, please… I’m nearly to the bottom.. nearly…

And then he felt the first huge wave of PAIN.

PAIN AND FIRE.

And no air. I have to breathe… GOD, NO!  NO! SHERLOCK! SHERLOOOCK!

John woke with a strangled scream. He was panting, drenched with sweat, still lying on the sofa.

And he was staring into the eyes of a remarkably beautiful woman. Gorgeous eyes. Gorgeous face. Gorgeous light-blonde curls.

“Hello, Sweetie.”

John’s voice didn’t quite want to function. “Sweet…?”

Gorgeous smile, too, this woman.

“Well, we won’t tell my old man I called you that, will we? It’ll be our secret.  Now, the initial pain from what I gave you should be wearing off in a few moments. But,” She stroked the damp hair from his brow, eased his head down further onto the cushion, “that’s not the pain we’re worried about, is it? You’ve hurt so much, for so long. Don’t give up now, John.”

John merely let out a ragged sigh. “You don’t understand…”

“What it’s like to lose someone you love? What it’s like to lose a good man? Oh, but I do. I lost a very good man, once. The best man I ever knew. And believe me, it hurt. Hurt worse than dying…. worse than fire, worse than gunshots, worse than drowning.  Any death would have been a relief.  You know that feeling now, too, John.”

“Yes.” John’s voice sounded impossibly small, even to him. He swallowed hard. “What did you do?”

Tears welled up in those beautiful eyes of hers. “I lived. And I waited. And one day, he came back.”

“Sherlock’s not,” John huffed a wistful laugh, “Sherlock’s not ever… not ever coming back. He’s dead… He’s dead. Why am I telling you anyth-.. who ARE you? How did you get in here, and how did you know I…”

“He IS coming back, John. Quite soon, now. He IS alive. So you need to be strong for him just a bit longer. And you are, my friend; you are very, very strong.” At this she looked at her wrist, checked the time, and then removed a small vial from a pouch at her waist. “Drink this, now.”

For some reason, John complied.  ”What is this? More antidote?”

“Retcon, it’s called. You won’t remember me or any of this when you awake. Doctor’s orders.”   

John’s eyes began to flutter.  He was sleeping. Not falling, now. And not free of the pain. But the pain had moved aside to make room for something new. 

Hope.

“Tell me… who… tell me how you know…” John struggled to get the last few words out, “How you know he’s alive…”

“Shhh, Sweetie.”

The woman laid a long, lovely finger against John’s lips.

“Spoilers.”