There’s a loud retort and a blooming heat in his side and he’s falling and someone is catching him with a cry of alarm, and the scarf is soft against his cheek as he’s cradled; protected. Blue lights are flashing and a hand is squeezing his and a hoarse voice is saying his name but he’s fading, fading, fading.
The hospital aromas of antiseptic and hope and death assault his nostrils as he comes to; he fills his lungs and grimaces at the pain in his abdomen. His mouth is dry and his head hurts, but that’s okay because he’s still here, still alive, but god he needs a drink and he tries to sit up, but he’s pinned to the bed and panic sets in.
“John, it’s all right, relax, it’s just Sherlock.”
He focuses his gaze and sees Mycroft standing over him, a box of expensive tea bags and a packet of Hobnobs in his hands, god bless him. He follows Mycroft’s gaze to the chair on the other side of the bed and understanding dawns as he takes in the shock of curly hair and slender shoulders of Sherlock Holmes, his head resting on his arms where he has fallen asleep across the left side of the bed. The left side of John. John can see fingers interlaced with Sherlock’s and realises with a thrill that they are his own, and in that moment the pain in his side and the headache and the rawness in this throat mean practically nothing.
“Your injuries were less severe than we at first feared,” says Mycroft, unprompted. John notices the use of the word we and is warmed by it. “You were in surgery for a couple of hours though. He’s been here all night, you know, and Mrs Hudson only went home because he threatened her. Lestrade is busy looking for the fellow who did it; Sherlock gave him an exceptionally detailed description, of course. I’m not sure how his shoe size and sexual orientation will help to catch him, but that’s Sherlock for you. Always so precise.”
John smiles, still looking at the top of Sherlock’s head. “Yep, that’s Sherlock.”
“Well, I should be going, I’m afraid.” Mycroft deposits the tea bags and biscuits beside a modest flower arrangement (red gerbera daisies and yellow chrysanthemums; from Molly, John suspects) and cocks an eyebrow at his brother’s sleeping form with a peculiarly fond yet disparaging smile. “At least he’s quiet, that’s something isn’t it?”
John frowns. “Thank you for the tea, Mycroft” is all he says. Mycroft nods to himself once, picks up his briefcase and leaves the room quietly.
“It was worth getting shot you know, Sherlock,” John murmurs a little self consciously. “I could never tell you this to your face; you probably wouldn’t let me, anyway. God knows, you’re a bit of wanker really. So I’m telling you now, while you’re asleep. It’s good to know. That you care a bit.” John swallows, his mouth once again dry, and he wishes belatedly that he’d asked Mycroft to get him some water before he left.
John closes his eyes, exhausted again already. Sherlock’s hand is warm in his, and he can’t help stroking his thumb across it twice.
As he drifts back to sleep, warm and fuzzy and strangely content for a man who’s just been shot, John wonders how strong his pain meds must be, because he’s sure he can feel Sherlock’s thumb move once, twice, stroking his own hand in response.